Friday, September 28, 2001

Feedback from Gavin: For heaven's sake don't buy a leather jacket! Phil is right - you'll just look like a dodgy old geezer. Instead, buy a marvellous 21st birthday present for your number one son!
If you run a spoof news site what do you do after something as horrifying as the WTC attacks? Well The Onion has decided, and it's pretty stunning. See for example God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule: "I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God
Opinions wanted

I just got a refund from the Inland Revenue! I was thinking of spending it on a leather jacket. My trendy son Phil says Don't do it Dad, you'll just look like an old man trying to look young.

Does anyone else have sartorial advice to offer? Votes on an email please!
A very short game report from Steve:

Played Dave at Bull run card game last night. I won but it was probably because I kept drawing powerful artillery cards every 5 minutes rather than any skill. I also met Dave's dog which was cool.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Yes, I've got lots to do this evening - go to Tescos, cook and eat tea, pack a bag for the weekend, put my bike and bike rack in the car, remind Nick to feed the cat etc etc. But at the back of my mind is the thought that tonight is a Ceroc night, and perhaps I could get over there by 9 and put in a couple of hours on the dance-floor. Not a good idea really - I've got a long day tomorrow - and I've already been once this week.

I need help....

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

This is why I can't do a nimrod session this Thursday - I'm going to the ParAvion paragliding school this weekend and I need to put my affairs in order before I go.
No nimrod session this Thursday I'm afraid. Just can't fit it in this week. Hopefully next week will be OK but I'll let you know nearer the time.

I'm sort of encouraged by how things are going. Although it's a small group of people there does seem to be a level of enthusiasm for meeting to play multi-player games. Nick is back in the fold, John is becoming more active, and James's enthusiasm is a real boost. And I think people are doing quite a bit of 2-player gaming as well. I hope I will be able to make Thursdays a regular event, and it may be better attended as the nights draw in and sitting in the garden seems less attractive!

Maybe a big set-piece game one weekend would be a good idea, something like Advanced Civilization or Pax Britannica? And is anyone interested in joining a party up to Midcon 2-4 November? Let me know.
It takes a Scot to give us this bracing, unsentimental analysis. Anne McElvoy: The rest of the prattle about needing to understand what drives people to such extremes, like some social worker ministering to the world's guerrilla movements, is beyond satire. Behind it lurks a cynical argument masquerading as a liberal one – that you can buy off terrorism.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Had a great weekend's gaming. Went up to Nick's flat on Saturday afternoon to play Paths of Glory. I drew the Central Powers, and we decided to play with the optional rules and the extra cards from the Player Guide. I kicked off with Guns of August, and Race to the Sea shortly afterwards allowed me to cut off the Belgians in Antwerp. Nick and John (who had just turned up) accused me of timidity, but I played Entrench and sat on a fairly conservative line just inside France.

We paused from POG so that we could play Empires of the Ancient World with John, which was great fun Even if I came last I had the satisfaction of sinking the other two in big naval battles in the last turn. Nick produced a truly excellent curry and John beat us at Carcassone to round the evening off.

On Sunday afternoon Nick and I picked up the POG game again. There was a confusing tussle in Russia, then Nick brought in the Italians who broke through into Austria. Then he launched a very effective sequence of offensives on the Western Front, evicting me from France completely. Unfortunately for Nick, his focus on the West allowed me to encircle 5 Russian armies and 2 Italian armies in one turn.

We wrapped it up at that point (after 6 turns). Although Nick was rightly discouraged by his lost armies, my position in the West was shaky. If we had continued I would have urgently SR'd German armies back from the East, while attempting to get an outright win by snapping up Italian and Russian victory points. By no means a sure thing, and it could easily have swung back in Nick's favour.

What a great game this is! Looking forward to playing it again soon. Thanks Nick.
Fergal Keane in Saturday's Independent: In all the debates we have had we have missed that fundamental moral equation. When a man commits mass murder he has made a choice. No individual forces him into that act and no history can be blamed. It is down to him. This is true for the hijackers as it is for those who sent them on their mission. The so called progressives who have sought to characterise this attack as the inevitable consequence of American foreign policy should bury their heads in shame.

Friday, September 21, 2001

Last night's nimrod session, though attended by just 3 of us - myself, John and James - was good fun. We decided to play 1876, a "micro-1830" which is set on Trinidad. The game has a very small map, only three companies, and just one 4-train, 5-train and 6-train. Everything happens very quickly. Especially when John is playing, who was cruising to an easy victory when we wrapped it up at 10:30. It's amazing how this little game packs most of the flavour of 1830 into such a small space.
David Aaronovitch: They argue that the US, alone among nations, should have no reason to get angry when its citizens are killed
James Lileks: I’m tired tonight. I’m tired of people who can watch 5,000 people from 62 nations burned alive and crushed to death, and think: well, you know you had this coming.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

And Howard Jacobson writes with his distinctive despairing insight:
So on we go, surfing the channels for more, sitting up half the night, watching over and over, conscious, at the same time, that we are doing exactly what the perpetrators mean us to be doing. Marvelling at their work.
Scarily intelligent columnist Anne McElvoy talks a lot of sense in yesterday's Independent:
Terrorists committed a mass execution of American citizens. This must, of course, be America's fault. It had it coming for being arrogant. It had it coming for supporting Israel. They had it coming for being so big and rich. In short, it had it coming for being America.

Sadly, respected blog-pioneer Dave Weiner at Scripting News produced a typical example of this crazy attitude:
People don't sacrifice themselves for no reason. Let's find out what it is. And if we did something wrong (no doubt we did) let's apologize, ask for forgiveness, and then ask how we can do better.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Nimrod Session

Please come over to my place this Thursday at 8pm. I think we will probably play Samurai and perhaps an IceHouse game if time permits. But bring your own ideas and games with you....
I've always thought the Foreign Office was a moderately useless organization, but the Travel Advice on their website is actually up-to-date. I was amazed! (The last time I looked was about was about a week after the massacre of the Nepalese Royal Family, an event which the Foreign Office website seemed to be blissfully unaware of.) So I've signed up for email updates on travel to Nepal so that I will know whether it's wise or not to go over there in December as planned.

Having just filled in my tax return I'm pleased to be getting something useful for my tax pennies.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Had a great time on Sunday at James' place. We kicked off with Wilderness War - the tournament scenario - which I thoroughly enjoyed. As the French things are starting to turn against me in this scenario, with large British reinforcements and competent generals (like Wolf) arriving. But I was able to make plenty of successful Indian raids, burning stockades and settlements and slowing down James' offensive towards Montreal. In the final turn James was left with too much to do in too little time. This is a fantastic game, beautifully produced (except for the usual ultra-thin GMT map), a notch below POG in complexity, very enjoyable and reminiscent of We the People. It took us about 5 hours but of course James had to spend a lot of time explaining the rules to me.

We finished off the afternoon with two enjoyable fillers: Titan the Arena (James won), and Lost Cities (I won). The latter is excellent - really interesting tactical play with very simple rules.

Thanks to James and Emma for their hospitality and an excellent lunch!

Thursday, September 13, 2001

I guess most people are feeling the same way, but a weight of depression settled on my heart yesterday as the reality of the tragedy in America started to sink in. It hasn’t lifted yet. I feel as if I’m going through the motions at work, living in a daze.

I’ve always loved history, and with that perspective I thought I could be fairly philosophical about bad news. After all, the history of mankind is just one bloody massacre after another. But today that thought doesn’t seem to help. I feel sickened and weary of this age-old procession of violence and hate. This world is often so much like a paradise, but as a race we seem so determined to turn it into hell-on-earth.
Last night I went to the choral society’s first rehearsal of the autumn. We are singing the Brahms Deutsches Requiem. When we came to the climax in the second movement:

Den alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras

Behold all flesh is as the grass

It was so desperately sad, I don’t know how we kept singing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I'm sick of all of this
Hanging around
Sick of sorrow
Sick of pain
Sick of hearing again and again
That there's gonna be
Peace on Earth

U2, Peace on Earth

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

On a day when all the big news websites are impossible to access Dave Winer's Scripting News Weblog is doing a reasonable job of keeping up-to-date with the unfolding tragedy over in the US.
I've got an identity at last! Apparently I belong to Generation Jones.
prolific: beyond the polder is my weblogging twin!
Monitor the moves you learn with this Ceroc checklist.

Types of Cerocer is pretty cutting!

How not to Ceroc is actually the only useful guide to the Ceroc moves I have found.

Ceroc stages: I'm definitely at the the "Dammit I wish I didn't have to eat, sleep or drink so I could spend more time Cerocing" Stage.

Actually there are very few Ceroc resources on the web at all. I've blogged the best of them here, and there are websites for local and national clubs as well. I guess everyone is too busy enjoying themselves dancing to be messing about with websites!

Friday, September 07, 2001

Fluent Dance - a great essay on Ceroc, really captures the experience (that I'm currently going through) of learning to dance for the first time. I watched myself transforming from a fellow who loathed dancing into one who couldn't stop himself from trying.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

In today's Telegraph Jonathan Sacks says: In a world run by MTV, nobody has time to think.
The Irish Times says Bono ripe for sainthood. If nothing else, U2 have served the church by not leading the youth of Ireland astray, the direction traditionally favoured by rock bands. The worst they can be accused of is a series of bad-hair decisions during the 1980s, a time of general lapse in this regard.

(via the ever-fantastic Relapsed Catholic)
Wow! Have you seen what the sun is doing today?

These current solar images from the SOHO mission are blinding!

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

James Lileks is finding that you learn from your children:

Last year fall and winter arrived perfectly - Gnat had given us both a sense of each day as a dense & concentrated object, and we paid attention like never before.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Nimrod Sessions

I'm quite heavily booked up for the next two weeks, so no Thursday sessions until 20 Sept I'm afraid. I didn't want it to be like this, but hopefully I will get my life under control shortly!
Today Heather is practicing Pronoia: "The opposite of paranoia; the sneaking suspicion that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings. Symptoms include sudden attacks of optimism and outbreaks of goodwill."
A writer I admire discusses a writer I worship - Yancey on Chesterton

Monday, September 03, 2001

Well, I'm back on dry land (and at last it has stopped rocking beneath my feet). On last week's passage I was reading "Master and Commander", which was even better second time around. And not surpisingly a lot of the nautical terminology made a lot more sense to me in these surroundings. I have a few ideas revolving around my head for making a solo game of this wonderful book. This website devoted to Patrick O'Brian will be an invaluable resource if I get round to working this up.