Wednesday, October 31, 2001

iBook Zone: aargh, I'm getting sucked in....
Missing Pieces: stunning writing from some people who were in New York on 11 Sept. (via Harrumph)

The murderers who turned our jets into bombs and our tallest buildings into gas chambers did not bother to explain who they represented or what they wanted our country to do.

They did not come to protest. They came to butcher.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

While I was waiting around last night for a midnight "dial-in and break the live database" slot, I was playing with my Icehouse pieces and learning Martian Chess - a chess-like strategy game in which location, rather than piece color, determines which pieces you may move.

I've got at least two ideas for my own Icehouse games - one is a simple derivative of Titan, the other is a simple derivative of DBA using ruler, dice, and Icehouse pieces as military formations. See the connecting theme? (Yes, "simple derivative = "ripping off other peoples ideas")

I had my jabs for Nepal this morning - what with lost sleep and a body full of antigens I feel a bit groggy. Will it stop me going to Ceroc tonight? I don't think so!
David Aaronovitch: This is becoming a challenge to liberals. How do you celebrate diversity with people who think the act of its celebration is decadent? Or who think that offence to the religious ought to be outlawed? Do you say, "that's very interesting, how glad I am to hear such a culturally refreshing viewpoint"?
Martin Bell: A government or coalition would have difficulty mounting a Normandy landing with the 24-hour news services in attendance, expecting daily advances but reporting setbacks and casualty totals that – in the civilian climate of our times – would be thought unacceptable and likely to undermine the will to fight.

Monday, October 29, 2001

I really fancy doing this Workshop course. A good friend of mine did it a couple of years ago and recommends it very highly. Of course it is too late to start the 2001-2002 course, I'll have to leave it until next September. But I could go along and visit for a weekend?

Doubts are discussed and dreams are nurtured; challenges are confronted and confidence developed.

Serious work is done examining the biblical text, Christian doctrine, hard ethical and apologetic questions, the challenge of spiritual development, pastoral skills and very much more besides.

At every stage the emphasis is on how to think rather than what to think. Everyone is encouraged to make mature informed and sensitive decisions for themselves.
Open Letters: Invisible I think I got to this via textism. It's about love, it's sad, and it really rings true.
Observer: Islam has become its own enemy Muslims everywhere are in a deep state of denial. From Egypt to Malaysia, there is an aversion to seeing terrorism as a Muslim problem and a Muslim responsibility.
I've been a bit slack on the game reports lately. And certain people who promised me reports (Nick) haven't come up with the goods yet!

Anyway, yesterday I played Lost Cities with Phil. Only ten minutes of gaming, but great fun, especially as I beat him (twice)!

The previous Sunday (I think) Dave came over and played Settlers with me and Phil. We played two complete games, Dave won the first, I won the second. Poor Phil! That Saturday Nick dropped in and played Up Front! (Nick's Belgians slaughtered my German paratroopers) and Battle Cry (I won). Then William turned up and we played Vinci, which I (controversially, as always in Vinci) won. Nick disappeared and William and I played 3 rounds of Rise of the Luftwaffe. This is an excellent game - Up Front in the air!

Two Saturdays ago I played Paths Of Glory with Nick, and also benefitted from Nick's excellent curry-cooking skills. I was the Allies, and I was doing really well on VPs until Nick surrounded 7 Russian armies on one turn! I hope we soon get beyond the beginner's mistakes stage with PoG!

I've also got a memory of playing Samurai with Dave and William on a recent Thursday evening, but can no longer put a date on it. We played through this great game twice in one evening, and I'd like to have another go at it soon.
Living Without Microsoft: We are building an information hub for those who would like to kick the Microsoft habit and move to using software which does not emanate from Redmond.

Friday, October 26, 2001

Dave Winer is getting angry at last: "Can't bomb Afghanistan during Ramadan," say the Muslim leaders. Ahhh. Well, you can't bomb the US in September say the Americans. How quickly they revert to their nasty habits. All the bombers were Muslim, and most of them were from Saudi Arabia. How about we bomb Mecca, and call it even? Icon for icon. Maybe you'd better show us that you're helping to get rid of the terrorists. Seems like the Saudis are supporting them, if you can believe that bullshit.
Cool! I've added a permanent link at the bottom of each posting so that all those other bloggers out there can link to my postings.

Yeah right...

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Tolkien's War of the Ring by SPI going on ebay - over £100 already and 3 days bidding still to go!
Shows what a classic game Titan is when people are still submitting rave reviews to Funagain years after it went out of print!
Bit fed up with work this morning. Stayed in the office till 8 last night, kicking off a 5 hour database upgrade. Went home. Dialled in this morning to find that it failed 5 minutes after I left. I'm busy fixing and restarting the task now. My name will be mud when I get in.

At least I have figured out why Phil wasn't speaking to me yesterday morning. He had his earphones in. Yes, as I leaned out of the front door in my boxers shouting at his receding back, he couldn't hear me! So that's a relief.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

A recent UseNet thread in about Space Hulk reminded me how much I love that game:

Whenever I played this game I always took the marines because everyone
around here assumed the game was unbalanced toward the Stealers. And I'd
always kick their asses. :)

There are three things to remember when playing the marines: Speed,
speed, and umm... oh yeah. Speed.

The strategy for the Stealers is, of course, to slow down the marine
player. If you can get him to waste a couple of turns not making
significant progress toward whatever goal, you probably have the game. I
have found most marine players to be a bit timid, so on those occasions
here I played the Stealers, I made them paranoid and also kicked ass. :)
The truth about the environment: Environmentalists tend to believe that, ecologically speaking, things are getting worse and worse. Bjorn Lomborg, once deep green himself, argues that they are wrong in almost every particular
(Thanks to Recovering Liberal for the lead.)
Do I need a laptop? No. So why am I consumed with techno-lust for the Apple iBook? The fastest iBook ever. Turbocharged with a blazingly fast 600MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 256K on-chip cache running at full processor speed, and a 100MHz system bus, the new iBook packs a tremendous wallop. And it comes with the ATI RAGE Mobility 128 graphics accelerator with 8MB of SDRAM and AGP 2X support for gorgeous 3D graphics.
Feeling a bit woozy, a bit stressed, this morning. Was out late Monday dancing at the Clapham Ceroc club! Last night spent most of the evening being phoned by a project manager trying to persuade me to work from home all night upgrading his stupid database for his about-to-overrun stupid project. In the end the dial-in didn't work - heh heh! For some reason Phil was refusing to speak to me this morning, very strange, but this is adding to a feeling of not-quite-coping. And it's choir rehearsal tonight - 120 of us definitely not coping with Brahms.

But I did get my car washed this morning, so something is going right.

Monday, October 22, 2001

A nice little parable from Ockham's Razor: A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about 2" in diameter. Then he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar of rocks. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the spaces between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They said yes, it was. The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. They laughed again.............
Everyone should see this! Booking has opened for The Valkyrie at ENO - I went to see their RhineGold earlier this year and it was wonderful. These are semi-staged productions in preparation for a fully staged Ring Cycle in a couple of years time. Can't wait!

Saturday, October 20, 2001

Howard Jacobsen: Subtly, a little more each day, as though it is the very mark of a civilised community not to mind what is done to it, we ratchet down our sense of outrage. What if we deserved it... what if we deserve more... what if we don't win... what if we don't deserve to win?

Friday, October 19, 2001

Ridiculously huge selection of Playing Cards for sale, including loads of European Tarot decks (game-playing variety). I'm still itching to play Zarcana/Gnostica!
Machiavelli has his own directory in Google!
Machiavelli Online Resources: links to essays, biographies, texts.
Nicolo Machiavelli: The Prince: full text online. Lots of other philosophy texts here as well.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Melvyn Bragg is back with In Our Time: I enjoy formal conversations (I don't much like informal conversations, I hate dinner parties - people just sprawling about, talking about anything - it's a complete waste of time) but to get the chance to talk to people in a concentrated way about what they really know best, it's an enormous treat.

It's a treat to listen to as well. One of the biggest things I got from reading Francis Schaeffer is the primary importance of ideas. History is driven not by armies and leaders but by thinkers and philosophers. In this wonderful show on Radio 4 Melvyn Bragg plunges into the sea of ideas, swimming confidently between ages and continents. This morning's discussion (on democracy) ranged between classical Athens, the English Civil War, and the American Revolution, stopping en route in early Islamic political thought. One gem was about Machiavelli who saw the importance of conflict (rather than harmony) in a healthy political system. Very relevant at the moment - all the loud slanging matches in the West about military action probably auger very well for our civilization.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Excellent! Just found this new Up Front website.
This is so surreal it's hard to believe it's true. Osama Has a New Friend: Reuters photographs of a rally this week organized by Jaamiat-e-Talabaye Arabia, a radical Islamic organization, show that protesters created a pro-bin Laden sign out of a collage of photos they apparently lifted from Internet sites. But -- is it fate or coincidence? -- the sign featured a Bert muppet sitting on the left side of the man believed to be responsible for the bloodiest terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Saturday nimrod set-piece?

Does anyone fancy a big set-piece game on Saturday? I was thinking either 1830 or Advanced Civilization. (We can decide which based on whether or not Dave turns up?) Start at about 2pm, pop out for a takeaway at teatime, finish before midnight (hopefully!)
I'm quite excited about this - I've volunteered to help playtest GMT's Strike Eagle Leader. This is a solitaire air mission game in the Hornet Leader series. I've always wanted to try Hornet Leader but never been able to find a copy. They are going to email me a playtest kit in PDF format, so I'll be spending happy hours printing and cutting out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Still digging into Tarot Games. It seems the tarot deck was originally developed for games playing and only got hijacked for fortune-telling centuries later.

Monday, October 15, 2001

After getting disillusioned recently with the offroad performance of my Specialized "hybrid" bike, I took my old Raleigh Amazon down to the bike shop for refurbishment. I collected it on Saturday - it has had a full service, new saddle and saddle-post, new handlebar stem, new tyres and inners, new quick-release bolt for saddle-post. (Less than £100, much cheaper than a new bike!)

I took it out yesterday afternoon on Laverstock Down. It felt lovely to ride, really stable and responsive, great fun on descents. All I need now is a fit, athletic body to match....
Peggy Noonan: It is not only that God is back, but that men are back.
Play Spaced Penguin! Who needs a fancy PS2 when you've got the Web?
This is excellent, very informative: The World After WTC - A War Blog by Bjørn Stærk Temporarily created, hopefully shortlived, to cover the war and its consequences. (via NutLog)

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Howard Jacobson: On balance I'd say it's unlikely Osama bin Laden is going to get his own TV series when this is all over. Good in front of the camera, I grant you, and reads autocue well in unfavourable conditions. But I doubt he has the joky youth appeal which Channel 4 would be looking for, and I don't see the finger-wagging going down well with either BBC channel.
More game acquisition news from James:

Charity shop find this weekend was Heroquest for 50 pence.

This last two weeks have played:

GMT's Barborossa - urghh! I am sure it appeals to some but I did not enjoy.

Mystery Rummy cases one and two - great as ever.

The Kosmos 2 player Lord of the Rings - there are better ones in the small box series.

Labryrinth the Card Game - poor copy of a great board game.

And have purchased Cafe International Card Game

Friday, October 12, 2001

I've just watched episode 3 of Band of Brothers, I was really impressed. This is a real nimrod's show: the tactical situations look convincing - when Winters ordered the company to attack "down the middle" at Carentan I winced - I could see what was coming. Sure enough.

It makes you feel like pulling Up Front!, Breakout Normandy, or Squad Leader down from the shelf again.

In fact, I think I will. I was wondering what to do with this weekend.

The series has come in for criticism - nor enough character development, too reverent, even too noisy. I think this is unfair. So may of the details ring true to what I've read of the Normandy campaign. The producers - to their credit - seem to be avoiding cliche war-story lines. Instead they have attempted a documentary-drama. I think it works well, it doesn't always show the Americans up in a good light - plenty of prisoners get shot, for example - but it gives a credible window on the experience of World War 2 combat. Which is something well worth doing.
The Games Store website now does ecommerce. Great - I now have only seconds to fight off the game-buying impulse when it strikes, rather than the minutes I used to have.
The fantastic game designers Looney Labs are planning a set of 5 cards designed to make Fluxx more fun for Christians! Excellent. See What's on the Stove?

Thursday, October 11, 2001

There'll be no XP for me: What all these new XP "features" have in common is that they make Windows more convenient for Microsoft but less convenient for users. (Via Scripting News)

Makes me wonder if I really want to continue with a Microsoft-based career. At least maybe an excuse to get one of those sexy iBook toys?
Gosh, I want one of these! A Relapsed Catholic T-shirt!
This is very, very clever: The Postmodernism Generator (via Relapsed Catholic, where else?)
nimrods is back!

First, an apology to the folks at Blogger. It wasn't your fault at all, it was my ISP - NTLWorld - who decided on 28th September to disallow FTP from anywhere but a dialled-up connection. Nice of them to let me know. This is also a bit ironic as I work for NTL, moreover, in the very department that runs NTLWorld! So I don't know what chance the poor average punter has of finding these things out......

Not sure if I like this BlogSpot. It's not proper webspace so I can't put my pictures and graphics up here. But I suppose I can redo my HTML to link to content that sits on my NTLWorld space. And I can pay the $12 to get rid of the ugly banner at the top. But I'm not sure about hosting my blog in the same building as Blogger - I liked the disaster recovery element of actually hosting my blog in a different country. Not that the world would miss my blog archive much - but I would.

Anyway, all that is for the future. For now, I can blog again, and that makes me happy......

Friday, October 05, 2001

I am so cheesed off with Blogger! I haven't been able to FTP to my website for a week, it just comes up with "530 Login Incorrect". This happened to me once before and I fiddled with the settings a bit until it sprung into life again. Well, I've done a lot of fiddling this week and - nothing! Hand-coding the entries just isn't the same - much more hassle than Blogger (when it's working). Sigh! It's very frustrating, just when nimrods was starting to build up a loyal readership.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

Predictably, the paragliding school cancelled because of the weather, but we had an excellent weekend anyway, a highlight of which was cycling up to and along the Ridgeway in warm sunshine. During this trip the limitations of my Specialized hybrid bike in real off-road conditions became painfully apparent. Anyone want to buy it off me?

Our trip finished with the film "Enigma" about the Bletchley Park codebreakers in World War 2. About 15 minutes from the end it was interrupted by a power cut and we were evacuated from the cinema, so I don't know how it ended! Has anyone seen the film and would be willing to fill me in?
A progress report from James on his quest to acquire every game ever published:

Saw Steve's report so thought I would write in with what I have got up to game-wise, in the last few weeks.

I have an opponent in Aldershot and we meet once a week for a wargame. Last week was Wilderness Wars the Tournament scenario and after some great Indian Raids by me (French) I was one VP away, when Louisberg and Quebec fell in six card plays by use of amphibous landings and surrender cards. I thought I had it in the bag up to that point.

Today was ASL, and it gets better as you play more and more. I could drop all other games (what a statement). Also played Rosenkonig: a great 2 player small box game.

Purchased GMT's Red Badge of Courage and what a monster that game looks, the box recommends a weekend to play. At last an honest time estimate on a wargame!

Also on the games front I have taken to trawling charity shops, this week's finds were Avalon Hill's Kremlin (£2) and Game of Nations, the Gibsons 1977 game of fighting for oil in the Gulf (£1.29) - no rules though. Can anyone help?