Thursday, November 30, 2006

Visitor Coming

This time Chris (Brooks) says he will make it tomorrow; he's already booked the tour guide for the morning in Jerusalem.

If all goes well, I'll meet him in the morning, we'll tour around, have some lunch, and come back to my house. If all continues to go well, he'll give to me the games I ordered and shipped to his house, as well as a copy of 24/7, and we'll get a game in before shabbat.

Then shul, dinner with Nadine and co., and then Adam will drop by and we'll have another game after dinner.

We haw.

I've shipped out three copies of The Game, which is all I managed to cut so far. I'll try to get another two or three out tomorrow. Then I have to cut some more for a few local requests.

Whatever may come, I will always know that I once created something good. Isn't that sweet?

In the meantime, I've written chapter 7 of Encounter, but I'm not happy about it. Something isn't holding together. I'm hoping it's something I can fix, rather than have to gut it and start over. I'll be happy to see the whole thing done someday. Then I can take it and re-edit it as a whole. And maybe submit it somewhere, or publish it on Lulu. Not that anyone but me seems to like it.


Session Report, in which we play many two-player games

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played: Puerto Rico, For Sale x 6, Colossal Arena, Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation x 3, Hive x 7, Caylus, Secret Sevens, Zendo, Go x 2, The Menorah Game x 3, Children of Fire RPG.

Two-player games, because we couldn't all agree on which multi-player games to play.

Bruno Faidutti talks up theme in games.

Chris Brooks notes the surprise of a local newspaper that games are, like, designed! By people!


U. S. Armed Forces Code, in Verse: Chapter 47

Also known as
The Uniform Code
Of Justice written
Down as an ode

Each section's also
Numbered sequentially
As "Article X"
Which helps referentially

Chapter 47


The subjects about which
This next chapter deals
Are infractions, justice,
Courts, and appeals


This section lists whom
These rules are all for
Enlistees, all soldiers,
And prisoners of war


Changing your status,
Your hair, or your name
Won't help; they'll find you
And try you the same


You can request
If unfairly dismissed
To still be court-martialed
If you really insist


The rules of this chapter
Apply on the moon
On Mars, on Jupiter,
And even Neptune


A Judge Advocate General
Decides who will judge,
If you don't get picked
Don't hold a grudge


The President sets
Criteria for judges
To ensure their characters
Don't have dark smudges


This section permits them
To take you in custody
In order to help preserve
Love, peace, and harmony


They also apprehend
Deserters when seen,
When I take custody of
Dessert, it's ice cream


They put you in jail
Which is only constraint,
When punishment's considered
The constraint part ain't


They usually arrest you
After they charge you
They'll let you know why and
Have a speedy trial, too


If asked to guard prisoners
You know that you must
If this interrupts a poker game
You'll have to adjust


U.S. mil prisoners
Are never kept chained
With foreign type prisoners
Like spies from Bahrain


Unless causing trouble
No prisoner gets punished
Until he's been courted and
Trial is finished


If civil authorities
Are getting involved
Continue proceedings
When their case is solved


Without a court-martial
An officer may
Punish with less food,
Hard work, or less pay


Three types of court-martials:
General, specific,
And summary are available
And all are terrific


Each court can decide and
Convict any member
Whether army or navy,
June or December


General court-martials
Have great legal breadth
They can try any case and
Can put you to death


Special courts, unless
By Prez direction,
Don't put you to death
Or give harsh correction


Summary courts give
Lighter corrections
And aren't held against
A soldier's objections


The laws in this chapter
Don't take away rights
Of military tribunals
To put out your lights


General courts
Are convened by top brass
And not by the guy who is
Prosecuting your butt


Lower commanders can
Convene special courts
You still shouldn't show up
In tank-top and shorts


Any sized commander
Of squadron or company
Can hold special court
Giving judgment or sympathy


Officers can serve
On a court, and most members
If they haven't yet met you
Or at least don't remember


You must have twelve judges
For death deliberation
Or no less than five
In extreme situation


This section is all about
The military judge
(By the way, on my ice cream
I'd like some hot fudge)


For special courts and generals
The accused gets a lawyer
To ask questions, like "Oh, yeah?"
"Says who?" and "Who saw yer?"


When needed, reporters and
Interpreters are allowed,
So long as the courtroom
Can hold a big crowd


Once called to a court you
May not be excused,
Make sure that before
The bathroom you've used


Charges are signed only
If the guy signing
Has real first hand knowledge or
Has done his divining


No one is forced to be
Or produce evidence that's
Irrelevant or humiliating


All charges must have been
Thoroughly investigated
And to the accused they
Must have been stated


Eight days after lockup
All evidence collected
Is sent to the court to be
Further inspected


The court then decides
Whether to proceed
Or if for more evidence
There is a need


The charges are sent to
The guy in the cell
In peacetime, he's given time
To read them, as well


The Prez, if he wants,
Can make up the rules
Which reminds me of recess
In junior high school


Non-judges don't decide
For better or worse,
You can't quiz the judges,
And ignore their outbursts


Though lawyers are assigned,
The accused has a right
To hire one that finds
Favor in his sight


Sessions are held;
Lawyers are doting;
The accused is invited
Except when there's voting


Whenever required
Continuance is used
So long as it's needed
And isn't abused


You challenge the judges
If you have just cause
And they must recuse if
They have hidden flaws


All judges take oaths
The counsels do, too
And each witness swears that
What he says is true


There's limited time
Between court and the crime
But days on the run
Doesn't count towards this time


You can't be tried twice
If the first court is finished
Respect for the system would
Be greatly diminished


Any equivocation,
Or for capital cases,
Is a plea of not guilty
Even if you make faces


Defense and offense
Have access to evidence
And all of the witnesses
Regardless of circumstance


If called to testify
You may not refuse
They pay for your trouble
So that's not an excuse


Anyone who insults
Or a riot attempts
Can be quickly imprisoned
Or fined for contempt


Depositions are gathered
If done fair and square
And evidence sent in without
Having to go there


A written testimony
Can be read aloud
If the witness is too shy
To speak to a crowd


If insane, and can't even
Tell the difference
Between right and wrong
It's a valid defense


When voting, the main judge
Asserts all his clout
And instructs to find guilty
Beyond reasonable doubt


The majority for "guilty"
Depends on the degree
Of punishment considered
And its severity


A verdict that's reached
Is announced right away
Not put off until it's
Raining anyway


A record is made of
Each court and it's signed
And sold on eBay for
Seventeen ninety-nine


Killing the accused
Is totally cool
But whipping or branding
Is unusually cruel


Cruel and unusual
Is by definition
Whatever the President
Cares to envision


Sentence for life
May also include
Without parole
Which kind of sucks, dude


Punishments given
Are immediately effected
Or within two weeks that
The verdict's inspected


However, the sentence
Might be deferred
If some other country
Wants him interred


When jailed you may end up
With any odd neighbor
And, even if not said,
May still get hard labor


If any bad-conduct or
Dishonor is proved
Any grade higher than
E-1's removed


You also might lose
Benefits and pay
If a really harsh sentence
Is thrown your way


When sentencing's done
It can't be dismissed
Even if trifles like
Minor laws were missed


From court it goes to
The convening authority
To decrease or retry
Your case with priority


You can waive this review
In cases extenuating
But never in cases where
Your life is terminating


Meanwhile, an appeal can be
Made by prosecution
If the court threw out charges
Or important information


A rehearing's heard
Only by a new court
And can lessen a punishment
Or give the same sort


When performing reviews
The judge advocate
Decides they're correct
Or decides to remit


The records are sent
This way and that
Folded into airplanes
Or used as a hat


The Judge Advocate General
Handles appeals
He looks at the sentence
And does what he feels


You've got sixty days
To file your appeal
Don't just hang around
Keepin' it real


The Court of Appeals
Is still subject to
Writ of certiorari for
Supreme Court review
(If I knew what that meant
I would tell it to you)


The Advocate also forms
Branches as he sees
In this way the Advocate
Is similar to trees


Shee-yish, this goes on
And is starting to repeat
Can we go back to talking
About my favorite treat?


I mentioned before
It was ice cream, I did
Just hand me a carton
And open the lid


Mmm, mmm, that was good,
Now where were we now?
Commuting and suspending of
Sentences is allowed


Sentences can also
Go on vacation
I wish I could too but
There's too much inflation


With any new evidence
Or any fraud fears
Request a new trial
Within two years


Some more about commuting
And when it's ok
A part applies only
To after Y2K


They try to restore
When commuting is done
The property they took
And your commission


All appeals are final
It's over and done
No use in hanging 'round
For the next one


For harsher convictions
Leave is required
Until you start serving,
You're killed, or you're fired


They send you for treatment
If you're found insane
For instance, for thinking
Your gun's candy cane


The following sections list
Punishable offenses
And sometimes it may list
Punishments or sentences


Not only offenders
But also accomplices
And people who hide
What another accomplishes


A lesser offense
Included in a big one
Is not overlooked
In all the confusion


Attempting to offend
Is also a problem
Which explains why so much
Of pop music's pablum


Conspiring to offend
Which another commits
May bring the conspirators
To guilt as befits


Inspiring to offend
Drags guilt right along
(Six sections, and we still don't
Know what behavior's wrong)


Finally, we begin:
You may not pretend
When enlisting for service
Or trying to end


Which of course would imply
You can't assist others
To do so; this is
Redundant - why bother?


Desertion is serious
And not very nice
The punishment is death which
I think should suffice


Absence is similar
It's so close a call
I can't tell the difference
Between them at all


Missing your boat or
Your plane also counts
I guess they're all punishable
By different amounts


Don't speak 'bout the Prez
In contemptuous words
It doesn't specify that these
Words must be heard


This also applies to
Superiors above you
If you suspect that
They don't really love you


Threatening or ignoring
Your commander's not good
He can put you to death,
Lord knows that I would


Same goes for a WO
Except for the death part
You can't disobey him
Or sit on him too hard


You must obey someone
Named "General Orders" -
I don't know him either
Or even where he quarters


In case you were worried
Commanders have rules,
They can't, in any way, be
Oppressive or cruel


Mutiny's another thing
That they think is wrong
If you even don't tattle
You may not live long


Resisting arrest is
It's own category
Which seems strange to me -
That's another story


You may not free prisoners
Even wrongly secured
They'll go free eventually
So I've been assured


But ... this section then
Contradicts the previous,
You may not wrongly
Secure; Ooh that's devious!


Don't interfere
With a court proceeding
Or soon with the counsel
You will be meeting


Cowardice or chaos
In the face of a foe
Is bad, don't say that
I didn't tell you so


Advising a commander
To surrender's a sin
Just what sort of army
Do you think you're in?


You can't give an enemy
Any secret signs
Like the on-ramp for I-80
Which I never could find


Don't "force a safeguard"
Which means, don't trespass
On places even we don't
Allow; End of class


Captured property
Belongs to the military
Don't sell it on eBay
Or start your own company


Aiding the enemy
With chats, cash, or arms
Will not be considered
Just one of your charms


If captured by enemies
You still might get chided
If the enemy you cozied
Or your fellows derided


"Lurking" is apparently
A habit of spies
No ifs, ands, or buts:
The spy always dies


Espionage also
Is spy territory
So pretty much follows
A similar story


Lying or signing things
Knowingly untrue
May make your dreams of
Punishment come true


Section 903
Disallowed selling loot
Respect for the military's
Stuff follows suit


And this section adds to
These others lugubrious
Don't sell or break anything
I hope now that's obvious


"Hazarding a vessel"
Means busting an auto
For which they will kill you,
So would my pa, though


You may not drive drunk
That's good advice
'Cause negligent manslaughter's
Not very nice


As a matter of fact
You can't drink at all,
And you, over there,
Stop playing with that ball


You also can't take,
Sell, or distribute
Drugs; no, not medicine
Don't try to be cute


For look-outs and sentinels
The rules are more harsh
Any type of fooling and
They drown you in a marsh


Dueling's forbidden
According to this verse
For dueling with banjos
The punishment's worse


Don't feign an injury
Or self-inflict one
There's plenty of better
Ways you can get one


Starting a riot
Is also forbidden
Such as announcing
Where the booze is hidden


They don't explain what
They mean by provoking
In this section; could be
Annoyingly smoking


Murder's out, too,
And you also blew it
If killing while robbing
So don't try to do it


Killing by negligence
Or killing by passion's
Not murder, but somebody's
Dead, in some fashion


This section's written
Extremely contentiously -
It outlaws abortion,
But doesn't specifically


Raping is also
A horrendous crime
Unless clearly consented
And adult at the time


Stealing or taking
Are no-no's, of course
Don't take someone's doo-dads
Or knick-knacks by force


Stealing while threatening
Violence of some sort
Will be understood as
Robbery by court


Don't forge a signature,
Order, or letter,
Wait 'til your handwriting
Gets a lot better


Writing bad checks
Is also not good
Unless simple error
Could be understood


This one's about maiming
And sure seems unneeded
So long as the one's against
Assault are heeded.


Sex that's "unnatural"
Regardless of gender
Is forbidden, even if
You go slow and tender


Burning's another
Action discouraged
Unless it's an enemy
Then it's encouraged


Any sort of threat
Is considered extortion
While trying to obtain
What isn't your portion


Damaging people
Is considered assault
No matter who started
Or who was at fault


Here's burglary, and
It's kind of hard to see
Why this is different
From plain larceny


Breaking and entering
Is only a crime
If you plan on committing one
At the same time


Lying under oath -
Another repetition
Wasn't section
907 sufficient?


And this one's about lying
Against the U.S.
What guys sat down and
Came up with this mess?


You must be a gentleman
Not sometimes or maybe,
Apparently even if
You are a lady


And last but not least
They can also punish you
For basically anything
Else they want to


There's other court types
Of greater simplicity
One that asks questions is
A court of inquiry


Only certain people can
Administer oaths
Judges and commanders
But not billy-goats


Parts of this code
Are given explaining
As soon as a member
Begins to do training


If wronged by a commander
Complain to his one
But do it with care
And have a good reason


If your stuff gets stolen
It's the thieves who pay back
Or anyone else near
The scene of attack


Any time herein
It mentioned the Prez
He can pass off the buck
To anyone he says


The last sections here
Are The Court of Appeals
If you're getting tired
Just think how I feel


Judges from various
Political parties
Are appointed, and they must
Be pretty big smarties


One of the judges
Is also made chief
If smart, they'll pick one
Whose speeches are brief


The court then makes up
The rules as it goes
So what the rules really are
Nobody knows


A judge gets retirement
If not him, his heirs,
On account of the funny
Black robes that he wears


Each year a committee
Performs a review
Deciding which laws here
To cut or renew

<- Previous | Next ->

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cuttng Out The Mockups ....

I forgot about that part. :-) It takes about twenty minutes for each game.

And I had to remember the primary rule of cutting things with an exacto knife: Hold the straight-edge over the desired part, so that when the knife slips while cutting, you only deface the white space on the sheet. If you reverse this, holding the straight-edge on the white space, if you slip while cutting you lacerate the board or tile you are trying to cut out.

I also forgot to buy envelopes; I'll buy some today so that I can mail them. And I have to recheck the rules and print them out.

Thanks to those of you who have emailed me for a copy. My email is shadejon at gmail.

Of course, when people like Mike Doyle are creating works of art like this, I could get disheartened.

The rowdy world of chess is now getting drug testing, although one could wonder exactly why.

And in continuing news about Head Gamez's plans for a 1,500 work force for producing board games in Nova Scotia, snags have occurred. The CEO, director, and founder, Kerry Martens, has quit. Kevin had chosen Parrsboro owing to fond memories of the place during a navy stint. The future of the development in that location is now in question.


U. S. Armed Forces Code, in Verse: Chapters 41, 43, 45

Chapter 41


If sent to the U.N.
Don't keep them waiting
Call in advance and
Tell them you're invading


Officers are sent
To the Red Cross
Go there and kick butt,
Show them who's boss


The President lends,
To handle unrest,
Soldiers to foreign
Armies distressed


Now getting weirder -
Soldiers can be couriers
Or building inspectors
Or amateur worriers


The Prez can move members
Between any service
Takes you from here and
Puts there, or the inverse


Armed forces members
Can also play sports
The mil can spend moolah on
Activities of these sorts


Guys can be sent
To the NAOO
To look at the sky
Or to look down below


The President appoints
Any mil officer
To be chief of staff,
Whether a him or her


The number of members
Or officers lent
Is no more than twenty
Six point five percent

Chapter 43


Members of services
Are differently rank
After sitting all day
In a ship or a tank


You know what I meant,
Don't get hysterical -
I'm talking command chains,
For WOs, it's numerical


All chiefs of staff
Are ranked by seniority
And over all others
Exert their authority


Assigned to the white house
A physician's a colonel
Or maybe a captain
Go check in your journal


For mixed service officers
The highest one there
Is the one whose suit matches
The host's silverware


The President decides
Which guy's in command
In places with members
Of air, sea, and land


You can't give commands
If you're fully retired
Except to the servants
Or gardeners you've hired

Chapter 45


Only mil members
Can wear uniforms
So next Halloween
Stick to unicorns


Ex-soldiers' uniforms
Are left at the base
They wear home a suit they
Brought for this case


Exceptions are made
On specified occasion
Actors wear uniforms
But not if they make fun


Teachers can use them
In order to instruct
But have to ensure they
Are worn with conduct


Religious articles
If not too obtrusive
May be worn with a uniform
When need is conclusive


Prisoners repatriated
And patients now healed
Are given a uniform
As part of the deal


Uniform laws apply
Just in America
And not in strange places
Like outer Mongolia


When set for promotion
You might become frocked
Which is better than being
Half-cocked, mocked, or shocked

<- Previous | Next ->

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The SNR May Be Falling, but Not the Signal

Many people complain that the ability for anyone to write online has lead to vast amounts of information being produced. The SNR ratio gets lower and lower. Who can sort through all that information?

But this logic somehow extends this into assuming that we are therefore producing less useful content. That's not true.

The signal is not going down, only the ratio. More worthwhile information is produced than would be without blogging, emails, message boards and so on.

Consider the glorious days of our past, a few centuries ago. We can count in double digits the number of influential philosophers whose voices have been preserved. We only took the time to preserve the thoughts of those who a) had many important things to say and b) could overcome the difficulties involved in producing a written and published body of material.

Nowadays, the obstacles to producing a written and published body of material is practically non-existent. I think, I blog, there it is; usually I reserve what I wrote a day for editing and publishing, but that's it, in essence. So b) is overcome.

That leaves a) those who have many important things to say. Name the number of respected philosophers from previous centuries who only had one important thing to say; say, something that would take up no more than a few pages.

The loss of barriers to publishing not only permits those with large quantities of important things to say, it also permits those with only a few pages of things to say. Important things.

Oh look. Another example of the Long Tail.

The distribution of important things is not equal among all people. Few people have many brilliant things to say, many have none. A whole lot have a few, and they write one book or an album and then disappear. But how many have not enough even for an album, but have that one important idea that is worth preserving along with human history?

I am guessing, off the top of my head, that the number of good ideas that get lost each generation equals or exceeds the number that get recorded, because until now, only collected large bodies of information were considered important enough to publish.

What if now, with our blogs and forums, we are suddenly tapping into the vast untapped potential of millions of great ideas that would otherwise die along with their possessor? And only because the barriers to publishing are so low and so quick.

The noise may be increasing exponentially, but the signal is growing, too. Maybe the first million have X to say, and the next million X/10, and the next X/100, but it's still increasing. And we have unlimited and timeless storage capacity. Which means that eventually, someone will find them. Unlike all the great ideas that went to their graves with their owners in generations past.

I don't know about you, but this gives me the warm fuzzies.

Update: Note that this ignores the issue of things being said better when they are reflected upon and edited.


Abridged is a new form of Bridge, with special cards, that is aimed at making the game of Bridge faster and easier. An article in the Independent describes it:
In Abridged, there is no bidding. The contract is calculated by a different method. Players go round the table, first stating their hand strength, and then stating their color strength (how many of the most numerous color you are holding). The team with the highest number of points immediately becomes the declaring team, and must estimate how many tricks he thinks his partnership can win. A contract has been arrived at, and play can start.
The cards are changed to 2 to 14, with colors instead of suits. There is still a dummy.

Erm. Sounds like a joke I wrote a month or two ago.

The U.K. is considering easing restrictions on betting on card games, especially poker, at local pubs and so on. And just in time, as here's a story of a couple who claims their marriage was saved by learning to play poker together.
According to Debora and Mike they have tried, during the last 5 years of their marriage, to find a mutual interest, but they could not find anything they both liked, let alone loved. The lack of this mutual interest has made the distance between them greater. They say this new passion has helped their marriage where many other things have failed.
Lastly, Grateful Dead, The Game. Doesn't look like a great game, but probably it will become a collector's item.


U. S. Armed Forces Code, in Verse: Chapters 36-40

Chapter 36


Promotion of officers
Is only as needed
And not automatic when
An enemy's defeated


A board is created with
Five of your superiors
Make sure that your bribes
Aren't inferior


Each member of the board
Swears to be fair
On whether to promote you
Or feed you to a bear


If you might get promoted
They send you a letter
You can send one back stating
Why you think you're better


With rules about information,
What's used or dismissed,
One wonders why they had to
Come up with this list


Some stuff about boards and
Also selection
Ho hum, let's move on
To the next section


More stuff about boards
Rambling on with perplexion
I yawned while I read it
On to the next one


Oh my god, it just goes on
Saying absolutely naught
It's just like my old high school
Chem teacher taught


I remember one time we
Had chem laboratory
We sat there and listened to
His really dull story


"There once was an ion" -
Or maybe it was an onion,
Whatever, it seemed like it
Went on for eons


Then he filled a beaker
And with a straight face
Said, "Look, you can see
How water takes up space"


That was the lab
Then we wrote a report
About water and volume or
Something of that sort


In a whole year of studies
There was only one lab
But lots of his stories
Tedious and drab


Just like this chapter
On officer promotion
Upon which the author
Elaborates with devotion


I mean, really, who cares?
Do we need twenty sections
To explain every nuance
And every inflection


Of who talks to whom?
Which list is checked off?
Which i's must be dotted
And t's must be crossed?


Well, what can I do?
If you really insist
I'll try; And don't worry
About what you have missed


Right off, I think I got
This section nailed:
If you're up for promotion
And don't pass, you've failed


But not if there's an error -
That took me one line;
The section takes three hundred;
Having a good time?


The Prez can overlook him,
If twice, that's too bad,
That's considered twice failing
Which might make him sad


Neophytes not promoted
Are eventually thrown out
Which is cause of concern to
Neophytes, no doubt


Lieutenants not promoted
Can request to be let go,
If they won't be promoted
Tell 'em from the get go


The same goes for captains
Commanders, and generals
Whose hope of advancement
Is suddenly ephemeral


Service for commanders
Is twenty-eight years
After which you go home and
Reminisce, drinking beers


For colonels and captains
It's thirty years long,
After which you go home and
Reminisce, singing songs


It's thirty years also
For regular brigadiers
But they serve with their title
For minimum five years


Higher ranks serve forty,
Thirty-eight, or thirty-five
And hope they retire while
They're still alive


In some situations
Service is extended
Even after it really was
Supposed to have ended


Early retirement
Is sometimes permitted
When officers fail all
Promotions submitted


In the nineteen-nineties
Extra firing was done
And ended a few weeks
After nine-one-one


An officer in trouble
And set for court-martial
Has service extended
In full or in partial


When sick then you might
Get deferred or retired
Go home and rest
You're probably tired


Miscellaneous rules
Are in the next sections
A few paragraphs here list
Who are exceptions


Officers retired through
This chapter's rules
Get severance and retirement
Which seems pretty cool


Chaplains may also
Occasionally be fired,
Or if they're entitled,
Suddenly retired


Some zone definitions
Are now written here ...
Did you know "phobophobia"
Means "fear of fear"?


This wraps up retirement,
Promotions, and firing
If you still want to serve
I'm sure they are hiring


In order to restructure
A Secretary may
Move around officers
This and that way

Chapter 37


Six to eight years is
The length that you serve
On active duty
Oo in the reserves


The full service length
For captains and pilots
Is ensured so that you
Sail or you fly lots


This section was written
By extraterrestrials
And excludes from service
All homosexuals (*)


The first thing you give
When service begins
Is a list of people
Who are next of kin

Chapter 38


A "joint specialty"
Is created by decision -
This doesn't mean "pot" here,
And it doesn't mean "prison"


I think it's security, but
We'll just have to wait
The term isn't defined until
Sec. 668


If you're chosen for jointness
It's a whole lot of work
They teach you to scowl
And to button your shirt


And this section describes
Your length in the "joint" -
Could be worded better,
That's really my point


It says here the Chairman
Of the "Joint" Chiefs of Staff
Gets involved; Now I think
We're getting there, by half


The Sec of Defense is
Not ignored in the least
It says so right here, near
The mark of the beast


All figures and numbers
And names get reported
The Congressional Sec makes sure
All of it's sorted


Here be definitions:
Ah, it isn't security
Joint here is talking
Only about strategy

Chapter 39


If stationed abroad
You must complete training,
Serving unprepared can
Be overly draining


Service is extended to
Six months after wars
More months of shoe shining
And hanging in bars


The Prez can make anyone
Serve six months more, too
Unless congress convenes
And tells him not to


Even if you're retired
They might still assign you
After you thought all
Of this was behind you


Especially pilots
If they think it's great
May be so recalled
Until 9/08


If called to serve when
You are retired
You serve with the same grade
When you're rehired


Very few officers
May be so called back
Regardless of how many
Generals they lack


The minimum size of our
Force ('less I've blundered)
Is one million three ninety
Thousand five hundred

Chapter 40


Each month you get two and
A half days of leave
Even if you're dead
They'd have you believe


After graduating: sixty days
Leave from the military
But if you're suspended
Your leave's involuntary


When re-enlisting you
Get even more leaves
They stuff 'em in bags
And they tie 'em in sheaves


To say that leave's nice is
No exaggeration
Of course, it is subject
To some regulation


And if you're returning
From a long tour of duty
You can rest or vacation
Anywhere - that's a beauty


Sometimes a leave may be
Forced or required
Like when you drink coffee
Too much and get wired


I think that this section
Says that leave accrues
When under court-martial
But wrongly accused


This one's still stranger
And hard to believe
You still can get paid
If you take excess leave


You also get leave
To pursue education
You still get benefits
And remuneration


You also can leave
For emergencies, when
It's the first time, but don't
Let it happen again

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Gift Guide: Board and Card Games That Will Actually Get Played

This guide is aimed at the non-gaming or gaming-curious. These games are not for the game geeks; they are for everyone. The guide includes games for young and old, for every sex, generation, temperament, and culture.

Whatever you do, and whatever you celebrate, there is no better way to spend a Christmas, Hanukkah, or what have you than together with friends, family, and neighbors with a warm cup of cocoa and a casual board or card game.

I hope you enjoy the guide. Remember: the holidays are not only for sharing the warmth with family and friends, but also for sharing with those who have no one else to share with them. Give to your local shelters, hospitals, and so on, because that's the gift that keeps on giving.

Images: Yes, I do get a very small kickback when you click on the images, either from or But a) it is the easiest way to get images without outright stealing them, and b) I made the list before determining if the games existed at these sites, so rest assured that my list wasn't influenced by their availability for giving me kickbacks.

For what it's worth, I also recommend the store (if you buy from them, tell them I sent you, and maybe someday they will arrange to give me kickbacks, too), as well as any other online games store or a local gaming store if you have one.

Clicking the title of the game leads to their entry on Board Game Geek.

Apples to Apples: Ages 10+, 4 to 10 players

Apples to Apples is a party game that is dirt simple to set up, learn, and play. There is no writing involved, and no board.

Each player has a hand of red apples (nouns) with which they have to match the green apple (adjective) flipped up. Each player has a chance to judge the best match. The cards you have in your hand never exactly match what gets flipped up; you have to do your best!

Backgammon: Ages 6+, 2 players

Backgammon is a classic game that is sure to be enjoyed by children and parents alike. While there is a large amount of luck in the game, there are also many meaningful decisions to make, which makes this a good stepping stone to future games with more challenge, such as Checkers or Chess.

Blokus and Travel Blokus: Ages 8+, 4 players (Blokus) or 2 players (Travel Blokus)

Blokus and Travel Blokus are relatively new abstract games with very simple rules. Each round you take a piece and place it on the board such that it touches any previous pieces you played on a corner, and only on a corner. It can touch other players' pieces along corners or sides.

The rules are easy, the components are beautiful, and it's a lot of fun.

Boggle: Ages 8+, 2 to 10 players

Boggle is the "other" word game, whose simple rules - find all the words you can within three minutes - make it a game that is both fun and quick. Adults can play with kids by restricting the adults to have to find words of four or five letters.

Carcassonne and expansions: Ages 10+, 2 to 5 players

Carcassonne is a fairly new game that is a bit more complex than some of the other games here, but the beautiful pieces and the fun game play are worth the time to learn. Essentially, each round you pick a piece from the pile, rotate and place it so that it fits on the board (like dominoes), and then optionally place one of your pieces on that tile. There are several ways to score, some of which occur during the game and some of which only at the end of the game.

There are some more rules than that, but not too many more. The game play is engaging enough to make you want to play it more than once in a single sitting.

There are dozens of versions to the game, and some of the versions have several expansions. The one that I linked to is called "Hunter and Gatherers" and is a good standalone game to start with.

Checkers: Ages 5+, 2 players

Checkers is a classic, and rightfully so. The rules are very simple, although there are regional variations. Although the game often hinges on who makes the first major mistake, it is worthwhile learning the tricks and the care necessary to play well. With two experienced players, there is a lot of depth to explore.

It's also cheap, and grandpa will play with you.

Chess / XiangQi / Shogi: Ages 6+, 2 players

These three games, Chess, XiangQi (Chinese Chess), and Shogi, are all top-tier 2 player games that can occupy a curious mind for an entire lifetime. They also have wide followings, so learning the game is learning a language that will admit you to a culture of fellow players around the world.

Chinese Checkers: Ages 6+, 2 to 6 players

Another great abstract, and a pretty one if you find one with nice marbles. The rules are simple: move or jump your pieces from one side to the other. Finding chains of jumps is a thrill for all ages.

Connect Four: Ages 5 to 12, 2 players

Connect Four is a classic two-player strategy game, where the object is to get four in a row before your opponent does. Easy to set up, easy to learn, hard to master.

Decks of Cards: Ages 3+, 1 to any number of players

Decks of cards, whether they are the well known Western type with 52 cards in 4 suits, or special European or Asian decks, are a great starting point for any number of wonderful games, including Bridge, Hearts, Skat, Cribbage, Pinochle, Oh Hell, Bullsh*t, Durak, President, Spades, Solitaire, and many others.

Check out for the rules to these games and thousands of others.

For Sale: Ages 8+, 3 to 6 players

For Sale is a quick bidding game in two stages: first you use money to bid on houses, and then you use your houses to bid on checks. The player with the most checks plus money at the end of the game wins.

The exact rules are a little longer, but the game is simple and fun, and the thirty house cards (ranging from a cardboard box to a space station) always get a few comments from new players.

Go / Pente: Ages 6+, 2 players

Beyond Chess, Checkers, or XiangQi, is the absolute perfect game of Go; it's so popular, there are twenty-four hour television stations dedicated to it, an anime series based on it, and it's considered one of the four arts of the Chinese scholar.

It really is that good, and the rules are easy, too. Best of all, a built-in handicap system allows two people of any skill levels to enjoy a challenging game against each other.

The link I provided is to a nice but expensive board; you can play with a much simpler board and plastic pieces for under $10.

Pente, a game of getting five stones in a row, can be played on the same board. The rules are just as easy as Go, and while the game has much less depth, it is also a little less intimidating to new players.
Havoc: the Hundred Years War: Ages 8+, 2 to 6 players

Havoc is a recent card game that takes the idea of forming poker hands and changes it into a light battle game. The rules are fairly simple (the rules about Dogs of War are a little complicated, but not too bad) and the deck of cards is pretty. And it's fun, too.

This game is only available from .
Hive: Ages 8+, 2 players

Hive is another new game with simple rules and cute buggies. Each round, you either add a piece to the table so that it is connected to the other pieces, or you move a piece. When you move a piece, you can't break up the hive while doing so. The winner is the one who surrounds his or her opponent's queen bee.

Each player has eleven pieces, with five different bugs and abilities. Its simple rules and nice pieces make this a game that generally gets several plays in one sitting.

Ingenious: Ages 8+, 2 to 4 players

Ingenious (sometimes called "Connections" or "Mensa") is another new and neat abstract game, where you score points by placing domino like pieces to create lines of colors. Your final score is whatever color you have the least of.

It's another pretty game with simple rules and a lot of replay.

MahJong: Ages 7+, 4 players

This is a rich version of a rummy game, using tiles. It is one of the two games on this list that I have not had the fortune to play as of yet, but it looks great, and who am I to argue with a billion Chinese?

There are variants for playing with 2 to 5 players, as well as a solitaire game that can be played with the same tiles.

Mancala: Ages 5+, 2 players

This is another ancient game, widely known around the world under various names, and the national game of many African countries.

The rules are easy: pick up all the seeds in one of your bowls and place one in each bowl around the table. If you land on an empty space on your side, you win the seed and any seeds opposite.

There are a few more rules, but that's about it. It takes a few games to get up to speed; early victories tend to be lopsided. Once you get the hang of it, you can play several, quick, challenging games in succession.

Memory: Ages 3 to 12, 2 to 5 players

This is a first game for kids and adults, and a great game for it, because kids get the hang of it very quickly and adults find it a real challenge without having to pretend. All you need are one or two decks of cards, but an infinite number of these games are sold with various different pictures and themes.

You can play with more than 5 players, but I wouldn't recommend it.
No Thanks!: Ages 7+, 3 to 5 players

This is an easy to learn and addictive little card game. A card is flipped up, and you either take the card and any tokens on it or place one of your tokens on it and pass it to the next player. Cards are bad, and tokens are good. But runs of cards only penalize you for the lowest valued card.

A simple and fun game.

Pit: Ages 7+, 4 to 10 players

I don't know if you can play up to 10 players with the original game, but you should. This is a loud trading game. The cards are dealt out, someone says go, and everyone shouts for what they need. The first player to collect a full set wins.

Raucous and fun.

Poker: Ages 6+, 2 to any number of players

Playing for money is not a good habit, but a nice set of poker chips and some decks of cards is a great way to spend an evening. There are countless poker games, too.
Rummikub: Ages 7+, 2 to 4 players

Another game of rummy, but a good one. And also playable with the grandfolks.

Scrabble: Ages 8+, 2 (or 2 to 4) players.

Scrabble purists will tell you that you should only play with 2 players and a Chess clock, but for casual purposes it can be played with up to four. It is The word game, and for a good reason.

My favorite way to play is to ditch the board and just play Anagrams: turn over tiles, and first to call a word gets it.

Set: Ages 6+, 2 to 10 players

Those who don't have it won't enjoy it. For those who do, it hits just the right spot in the brain. All you have to do is call out matches when you see them, but the matches have to match or not match in all four characteristics.

Settlers of Catan: Ages 8+, 3 to 4 players

This is the game that I use to hook new player into my game group.

All you need to do is collect ten points through building settlements and cities, connecting roads, adding developments and trading with your fellow players. A unique board that changes each time you play, constant interaction even when it's not your turn, and a great balance of luck versus strategy makes this The Game to acquire if you still think that board games are only for kids.

Stratego: Ages 6 to 15, 2 players

By the time I was in my teens, I had outgrown this, but it remains a seminal game for early players, a great introductory war game with all the basic elements: strategy, tactics, and bluffing. Avoid the electronic ones; they break.

Ticket to Ride: Ages 8+, 2 to 5 players

Many of my fellow bloggers think that this, rather than Settler of Catan, is The Game. I disagree, but who am I to argue? New players will probably find this a great intro game, with lots of choices and great game play.

There are several editions of the game.
The Menorah Game: Ages 7+, 2 to 4 players

A little plug for my own game, since I made up more copies, anyway. This is a simple set-collection auction game with a Hanukkah theme. It fits in well with the other games on the list: easy to learn, quick to play, lots of replayability.

Of course, I may be biased, since I designed it. This game is available from me.

Image by Jeff, taken at the first BGG.con.
Time's Up: Ages 8+, 4 to 10 players

This is the only other game on this list that I haven't had the pleasure of playing myself, but it consistently ranks as the number one party game on all of my fellow bloggers' lists. It's the number one ranked party game on Board Game Geek. Which says something.

Uno/Taki: Ages 6 to 12, 2 to 8 players

This could be a child's second game, after Memory, and before moving on to real games. There's not much in the way of thinking involved, but its simple rules, portability, and quick play make it an ideal game for younger kids in almost any situation.

Just be sure to move up to better games when the kids are ready.

Taki is similar to Uno, and essentially the same game.

Other game gift guides around the web:Yehuda

The Menorah Game, Reprinted

I just printed thirty spanking new copies of The Menorah Game, in time for your holiday shopping needs.

While waiting for a publisher to take up the game, my choice has always been to print it correctly myself, which would require making a few thousand copies of good quality for about $7 each, or reprint the mockups, of which I can print any number I want for about $7 each.

I went with the mockups again. What can I say? I'm just not ready to invest my own money or my friend's money in this until I have already produced a good selling game. It's fear, pure and simple. If someone wants to come to my rescue and take over, they are more than welcome; it's going to not have to depend on my initiative, which is limited to sending copies of the game to publishers.

For the reprint, I added little Hebrew letters to each tile so that those with color-blindness can more easily match up the candles they need to collect. I also added extra numbers to the game screens so that it is clearer that there are 4 of each gold candle and Greek soldier.

I printed them without the coins because the small coins made out of paper were simply useless. But despite printing only three board per game instead of four, it still cost me as much for each game. The price of printing went up that much.

It was $7.50 per mockup. Add a single page of rules, baggies, envelopes, and shipping cost - generally around $12 to $15 per game, depending on where you live.

I can tell you right now that anyone paying that much will be disappointed by the quality of the components - sorry - but the game is now thoroughly play-tested and quite good and endlessly replayable. It's my favorite auction game. If I do say so myself.

Seven of the reprints are already spoken for. That leaves another 23 for anyone interested in acquiring a copy or for me to give out as gifts.

One could ask the question: in all these years, only one game that has made it to fruition? And you call yourself a game designer? The truth is, I have been concentrating more on blogging than game design. I have started, but not completed, many other designs. And I have done a lot of variants for games, many of which are quite good. But, no, I can't really be called a game designer unless I am regularly sitting down to the business. I may as well be living in LA and call myself an actor.