Memory hole

agricola

Last week’s games session, kindly hosted by Yehuda, saw Nadine introduce Sheer and I to the joys of Agricola. This is a top ranked game with a great reputation. It’s also relatively complex – for a euro – and required a long, long, rules explanation by Nadine. She did an excellent job, though I still did not have a clue and was easily beaten. Sheer did a better job, and then bravely announced that he preferred Le Havre – another game by the same designer, with a similar reputation.

I had to confess, that the more we played Agricola, the more there was this faint recollection that I might have played it before… A subsequent online search confirmed that I had played it before. I can only assume the experience was so bad that I shut it out of my memory altogether. At the start,I truly could not remember playing it. The funny thing is, this time around I wasn’t so put off. I cannot say I rate it as highly as many gamers seem to, but that’s why there are so many games out there to choose from!

Thanks to Yehuda for hosting. If I can persuade him, he might send me some lines about the game he played with Ben and David.

Interrupted service

The break in blogging has not been caused by the Gaza situation – although I have had a few diversions to bunkers, here, there, and other places. There’s been a problem with my hosting service. This is the first time in a week I have been able to access my site. And I had so much to say…

A unique world cup experience

Susan and I went with friends to watch the final at Jems in Petach Tikva.

Jems is highly recommended. It’s a restaurant attached to a microbrewery. (The branch in Ra’anana is too small to deliver anything decent.) The food in Petach Tikva is good, the beers are good, and the atmosphere is terrific. Usually it’s about the music. Last night it was the football.

First, it seemed that most of the crowd (which was also extended to the front yard basketball court) were there to support Argentina. Susan accordingly persuaded me it would not be a good idea for me to join in singing the German national anthem…

Second, we were watching on one of the main Israeli channels. Before the game, at half time, and full time (before extra time) we got the news about the latest developments in Hamas’ terror offensive.

We sort of knew there was some kind of artificial break in the proceedings, because the channel was broadcasting missile warnings at the top right of the screen. These dwindled to nothing while the game was going on. Before and after, however, there was plenty of evidence that Israel was once again under attack. So, either Hamas are football fans, or it was a bizarre coincidence.

I thought the game was interesting rather than exciting. I felt that if Argentina had taken any of their chances, the Germans might have got back into it. But the Argentinian defense was doing pretty well. It was only at the goal that their marking went to pieces. Whoever should have been marking the scorer was too far from his man, and caught ball watching. That having been said, it was a terrific move and piece of skill.

The goal was deserved. In truth, I’m not sure about the win. However, nobody remembers anything but the winner.

So Germany marches forward, once again masters of the footballing world. The English can only look on with envy. England could win that tournament (in the future) and they could be a real force. But not with the present people or structure. My bet is that they do not sort things out and the poor English football fan is going to be disappointed for decades to come. Shame, because they deserve better.

As for Scotland, I simply wish them well. They should be taking a good long, hard look at Belgium and slavishly copy that approach. It sure works.

Finally, as for Israel, I regret that they are unlikely ever to trouble the world as a footballing force, short of a miracle or ten. But we will see the occasional talented individual flying the flag for his country.

Finally, finally (!) I have a small glow of smug satisfaction at predicting the winner. I am genuinely sad that I was equally accurate in my prediction about England’s campaign. Never mind. The Premier league will be starting soon.

About those civilians

As first seen at Israellycool, here’s a (Fatah?) terrorist in action.

Note:

  • Civilian clothes.
  • Civilian area.
  • One rocket comes close to hitting the nearby building.
  • If the IDF had got him, there would be another ‘civilian’ casualty reported.

Yes, civilian casualties are terrible. But many of them are not civilians, no matter how much Hamas supporters in the west pretend otherwise.

We hope and pray for a speedy, peaceful, and complete resolution.

Gun Machine – Warren Ellis

Set in contemporary New York City, this ballsy, bloody, barnstorming book bursts onto the scene with two cops answering a call about a naked man with a shotgun. The police stumble on an apartment filled with guns. Each carefully set in its place. Each, it transpires, the weapon used in an unsolved killing. The hunt is on!

Detective Tallow, aided by his weird and wonderful Scarly and Bat CSU colleagues, sets out to find the guns’ owner and the truth. His journey is not smooth – he shouldn’t be doing this case, he has insufficient resources, and ponders if he is being set up to fail. But, thanks to a couple of coincidences (the weakest part of the book) he makes progress. You can almost hear the rush of the grand finale.

So, on the plus side it is fast, fun, and involving. Detetctive Tallow rings true as a character. The CSU sidekicks are a bit cartoonish – and given the author’s solid comics background, that is understandable – but there are not too many negatives on the characterization side. The plot wobbles a bit, but eventually gets there. The unraveling, as hinted at above, is a wee bit dependent on good fortune, but it just about works.

The writing is kind of supercharged Lehane or Leonard. It’s not quite that sharp, but pretty damn close. There’s a fine eye for black humor and social commentary. For example, Tallow’s journeys are frequently accompanied by dips into the police radio broadcasts. These are full of death, destruction, and some gruesome tragi-comic elements.

Also running through the book is a native Indian theme. This gives a fresh perspective on the city streets and locations that the author uses well to create not only a new view, but some interesting possibilities, most of which he follows up. For example, the nature of the killer Tallow is seeking can only be understood in the context of that theme. (I know that sounds awfully pretentious, but read the book and it will fall into place quickly.)

I enjoyed this immensely. Worthy of your time.

Sunday started with a bang

Just when I thought things might be quietening down, after hearing the siren I spent the first ten minutes at work this morning in one of the reinforced security rooms. There were a couple of bangs according to the security guard. After inquiry, it seems that Iron Dome did its stuff again, thank Heaven.

The Guardian makes it up

Here’s a snapshot of the headlines to a current article about the Hamas terror offensive on the Guardian website.

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What is the takeaway of anybody who reads these headlines? It looks to me like the message is that pressure is building up on Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

What does the article say?

The death toll in Gaza has risen as international pressure builds on Israel to end its four-day conflict with Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in the enclave.

The Guardian says pressure is building up. What pressure?

The White House said late on Thursday that Barack Obama had phoned the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to offer to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said.

Does that sound like pressure on Israel?

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that ceasefire was “more urgent than ever” after an emergency security council meeting on Thursday. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has also urged Netanyahu to consider a ceasefire.

Now that’s a bit more like it. Not pressure, in my opinion. But getting there.

And that’s it. To put it mildly, that headline is misleading bollocks. It’s almost as if the Guardian was projecting its own wishes. Please, you can hear them saying, stop killing Hamas and its supporters.

Pressure would be condemnation or a demand to have a cease fire from the US, or the EU, or the UN, or any combination of them. Funny how that is missing. It’s almost as if they realize Hamas are, again, creators of their own misfortune. Shame the ordinary folk of Gaza will pay a price for Hamas.

Meantime, you do get a taste of the real Guardian disappointment about the situation in this part:

But despite a barrage of rockets targeting Israeli cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – causing thousands to rush to bomb shelters for the first time in years – there have still been no Israeli deaths since the beginning of this latest conflict.

The Guardian sounds let down that there have not been more Israeli casualties.

You can read the piece, here, and make your own minds up. As for the Guardian, it has done enough making up of its own.

Five for Friday and Four for Free

Not difficult to mark the standout moments from this week; they are all to do with the latest terror offensive by Hamas. So, the links include a fair few of those offering a reasoned perspective. For the Israel haters’ perspective, the Guardian and the BBC are good places to start…

I hope everyone keeps safe this Shabbat, and may we see a full and early cessation to the Hamas attacks. A cessation of Hamas would also be welcome.

Shabbat Shalom!

Guest Post – SL

My daughter, Sarah-Lee, posted this on Facebook earlier in the week.

8 am… this mornings siren caught me just out the shower and getting ready for work (a great day to wear some underwear!) i almost thought i was imagining the siren, but alas, it was happening again. Me and Tomer grabbed some clothes, flip flops and ran to the stairwell to meet the rest of our neighbours and their dogs…

Three very large booms later and we are back in the house. Took me about half an hour to calm down and was considering not going to work as not to go though it while driving but that is EXACTLY what they want.

They want distruption, they want fear, they want chaos.

Well screw them. I’m going to work, I’m going to exercise, I’m going to the supermarket, I’m going to the beach, I’m going to a bar and I’m going to spend time with friends and family.

Do what you do you assholes, we are STONG and we will STAND and we will continue to FIGHT.

Sending my love to all the Southies who probably live half their days in shelters

Be Safe X

Proud to be her dad.

Bad tweet of the week

This, sent by a Malaysian MP following the German football team’s crushing victory over Brazil, has got be a contender:

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From the CNN report, it appears the individual concerned is something of a loose cannon. From the tweet, it appears he is an idiot.