[Sca-cooks] (no subject)

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 4 09:29:18 PST 2007

Hullo, folks; I'm posting this here because while it is technically a  
reply to Niccolo, it's good to all be on the same page, if possible,  
and maybe Joshua might benefit from some of it. I'm not going to  
write anything I'd be embarrassed for him to see...

On Jan 4, 2007, at 11:14 AM, Nick Sasso wrote:

> I sincerely believe that "paranoid" is not the word needed here.   
> Cautious,
> wary, vigilant, guarded, careful . . . all of these are much more
> descriptive and a bit less accusatory and judgemental than "paranoid".

In fairness, I don't believe it was he who first used the word  
"paranoid" to describe this attitude. But yes, I prefer to think of  
it as simple caution, and eminently reasonable caution, which  
paranoia, by definition, is not.

> Especially now in 2007, when there are possibly dozens of  
> historical cookery
> books in print in the United States, as well as vastresources  
> available on
> the internet, I must admit publicly that I am still honestly  
> suspcious of
> your truthfulness about the goal of your requests.  You very  
> specifically
> asked for "not copyrighted" material.  Given the enormity of the  
> resources
> already in print (I have about 22 books in my library), and your  
> anger at
> being directed to look at some books and web sites,
> Offering the same bluntness and candor you espouse, I personally  
> remain
> suspicious, but hopeful, that this is not a deceit intended to  
> gather easy
> material at our expense for a seond book project (note the 1st book  
> being
> worked on).  You neither admitted to this being part of your goal, nor
> denied it as part of your goal . . . only left it a vague  
> possibility.  Even
> asking us specifically give citation for our efforts to help you  
> adds more
> to my suspcion.  I have no arrogance to think much of my work would  
> be so
> worthy of theft, but many others have done exemplary work.  I re- 
> read your
> posts and feel a sense of foreboding that you may take advantage of  
> our
> openness and willingness to share our work . . . and try to make a  
> fast
> dollar for yourself on the fruits of OUR labors.  I'm not in the  
> market to
> do unpaid work for someone else's book.

I was also struck by that possibility, as others apparently have  
been. He clearly isn't ruling out the possibility, even after various  
people have made it clear they don't want to either A) have the  
fruits of their labors taken and used for someone else's monetary or  
academic profit, or B) be made to feel responsible for, or obligated  
to, being the primary educator for somebody who will then pass  
himself off as an expert in the field. Both these scenarios have  
happened before in the SCA, as well as in UseNet newsgroups like  

>   I am very much in the market of
> teaching what piece of knowledge I have gleaned over the years to  
> those who
> want to learn.  If they take their own knowledge, their honestly  
> gained
> contributions from me and make a profit, then they have done well  
> by me.  No
> rudeness or offense intended, just frankness.

Well, then there's the simple fact that saying something someone may  
not like is not necessarily rude. For example, I don't believe  
anything I wrote to Joshua was rude, but he did respond to several  
list members in a manner suggesting anger. He has apologized and  
that's good, but it doesn't erase the fact that such behavior was  
obviously a mistake.

It feels sort of silly offering a primer on how to ask for help in a  
field with which one is not familiar, but since so much of the  
previous exchange was so wrong on so many levels and in so many ways,  
it seems as if it might be helpful for us all to remember some very  
basic rules for this sort of thing. If I offend anyone with this,  
well, I hope I won't, but have become less and less inclined to walk  
on eggshells as I get older, and less inclined to worry too much  
about offending the hyper-sensitive, so I try to be more concerned  
with simply being fair:

1. Understand that if you use the word "book" among professional and  
amateur scholars, it will set off red flags, alarm bells, and buzzers  
for some people. If you just want to create a nice card file of  
recipes so you can cook good frumenty at camping events, say so.  
Here, say it with me: "I want to learn how to cook and set up a file  
of recipes for my personal use." That wasn't hard, was it? I confess  
I'm only guessing that that comes closer to what Joshua actually  
wants. If it's not what he wants, he should say that, too.

2. Do not attempt to dictate terms to someone who is going out of  
their way to do you a favor. Do not ask for recipes, then say you  
can't explain what you want until you know yourself. If you don't  
know what you want you're not ready to order; ask the waiter to come  
back later, and understand that later may mean he's too busy to deal  
with you. The only remotely viable excuse for that is if you're not  
writing in your native language, and even then, it's questionable. Do  
not discard responses to your public request and then ask that they  
be sent again via private mail; it creates a bad impression unless  
accompanied by a very good explanation.

3. Try hard (or harder) to write clearly. Keep it as short and as  
simple as necessary so everyone knows what is being talked about. I'm  
a big offender in this area, but I do try to remember that my target  
audience is not a roomful of clones of myself who will immediately  
understand everything I say. This can also work both ways: it's just  
as bad to sound unnecessarily like a stuffy college professor as it  
is to sound like a pre-adolescent who cant spell tipe punctuait or be  
reemotly undrstod without a lott of ekstra effurt lol lmao. If  
reading someone's request for a non-life-saving favor is a lot of  
work, most people will simply delete it unfinished. Replies, on the  
other hand, well, see #2 above.

4. Be aware that using all capital letters and a lot of exclamation  
points is considered by most old-time Internet users as the  
equivalent of shouting; it might not get you a rap in the mouth in a  
face-to-face situation, but it also might. It's generally a very bad  

> I've had this feeling before, and I've been quickly and gratefully  
> proven
> wrong.  I stand suspicious, at the same time eager to shed that  
> suspicion.
> Please doagain accept my apology for not being able to send this  
> privately.
> I think it important enough to share part of it with the group, but  
> some
> would be better said in private.

I agree, hence my public response. This is not about singling out one  
person to smack -- it might appear that way, but we also know it  
accomplishes nothing unless the recipient is an adult whose  
participation in the community is of potential value. Therefore, it's  
about moving ahead.

> pacem et bonum, (I need the reminder: Peace and Goodness to you)
> niccolo difrancesco

Fra Niccolo is much nicer than I am, and when he says that at the end  
of a post, it is not a mechanical platitude. I think that everybody  
who put in time and effort to improve this situation deserves thanks...


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la  
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them  
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry  
Holt, 07/29/04

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