Dick Fosbury is in town. Sarah-Lee saw him speak, and had her picture taken with this real sporting giant.

Dick Fosbury

Dick's the one with the tie...

Presumably he’s here in his ‘Champions for Peace’ club role, though I have yet to see any press coverage.


Faster than a speeding locomotive

[Also posted at the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

Last night, there were seven of us, and we initially split into the fab five playing Steam and the dynamic duo playing Ticket to Ride – The Card Game.

Peleg and I were the dynamic duo. Ticket to Ride – The Card Game (TTR-TCG) takes some of the core mechanics of its big brother board game, and presents them through the prism of a card game which emphasizes two new and different elements: memory and damage dealing.

Memory: you build up colored cards towards the requirements of your Tickets. However, you accumulate these face down, and are not allowed to examine them till the end of the game. So, after a few rounds, it can be a bit of a challenge to remember what you have towards your various targets: do I have three blue and five red, or is it five blue and three red?

Damage: before you add Train cards to your supply (Track in the game, I think), there is an intermediary stage which involves you playing them in front of you, face up. The catch is twofold: you may only play a set of cards of two or more of the same color, or a group of exactly three – each a different color. And you may only play a color if the number of cards of that color is greater than the number in an opponent’s display. For example, player A has a display of 2 red cards. If I play red, I must play 3 red cards at least. Worse for player A, his 2 red cards are removed. So this game allows you to damage the efforts of other players.

As it happened last night, there were few such chances. (Generally, it’s not a good idea to damage an opponent for the sake of it; it’s better to concentrate on building what you need.) A couple of times I destroyed cards of Peleg’s, and he repaid the favor.

Scoring is for completing Tickets, with a number of bonuses available for completing Tickets to certain key cities.

At the end, I had lost track (sic) of my cards and had way too many Trains for the Tickets. In other words, I completed all my Tickets and had cards to spare. Peleg was similar, but not as bad as me. As for scoring, this was an incredibly tight game with the result coming down to the last city bonus. Peleg and I both finished in the top two…

On The Other Track

Rochelle, Yehuda, Laurie, Ofer and Abraham were the fab five. With Peleg retiring for studies, I started watching their game of Steam. However, it had taken the fab five as long to get through the rules explanation as the game of TTR – TCG had taken to complete, so I was persuaded against my better judgement to join in as the sixth player. I had to bail out before the end, so await Yehuda’s report on how it turned out. Meantime, what I will take from the experience is that Steam is not recommended with six players!


Rock solid

From the March 3rd-9th 2012 print edition of The Economist:

“A dual-use technology is one that has both civilian and military applications. Enriching uranium is a good example. A country may legitimately do so to fuel power stations. Or it may do so illegitimately to arm undeclared nuclear weapons. few, however, would think of concrete as a dual-use technology. But it can be. And one country – as it happens, one that is very interested in enriching uranium – is also good at making what is known as “ultra-high performance concrete” (UHPC).”

Which country might that be?

“Iran is an earthquake zone, so its engineers have developed some of the toughest building materials in the world. Such materials could also be used to protect hidden nuclear installations from the artificial equivalent of small earthquakes, namely bunker-busting bombs.”

The problem of Iran and its nuclear intentions is a thorny one; there are no easy answers. This type of solid (sic) factual background shows the challenges to be overcome if a military solution is attempted.


Basket case

My normal route home starts with a turn out of the office car park into a one way street. There are normally cars parked on both sides, and often there are kids and assorted parents and pets, all in various states of awareness. So, I take it easy and keep a careful watch. Continue reading


Cold, ref?

Tonight and Thursday are Purim, and one of the traditions that goes along with this happy festival is telling tall stories. (It’s similar to the UK tradition on April 1 of telling stories that fool people into believing something false to be true.) So, when I read the following report in today’s paper from Monday nights’ eventful derby football match between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv, I wondered if it was a Purim stunt:

“Hapoel players Avihai Yadin and Salim Toama, who were sent off in stoppage time, also face serious consequences, with Yadin being charged with the attempt to bodily harm the referee, insulating the referee and disorderly conduct, while Toama was charged with insulating the referee and disorderly conduct.”

I guess the referee was cold that night.


Boris v Ken

On 3 May 2012, there will be an election for the Mayor of London. Apart from the political clout which goes with being the boss of one of the world’s top cities, the winner will get the bonus of the extra shine from hosting the Summer Olympics. The contenders are:

  • Boris Johnson (Conservative, current Mayor)
  • Ken Livingstone (Labour, former Mayor)
  • Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat)

One current issue is tax, and especially tax avoidance by those who can afford it. As you might expect, this falls right in the center of Ken Livingstone’s sights, and he has been freely castigating rich bankers, greedy businessmen and the like at every opportunity.

Not any more.

It appears that Ken’s own tax affairs are arranged so that his earnings are paid to a limited company, not him personally, netting him a guesstimated saving of almost a thousand pounds a week. (See here for details.) Can Ken spell hypocrite?

If that were not bad enough, the excellent Guido Fawkes blog site reports that another of Ken’s campaigning promises was to do something which the law does not permit. Oh dear. This is all brilliantly summarized by Guido in the following terms:

Ken: the candidate with limited powers and a limited company…