Praying for a safe arrival


Spotted (and snapped) by Sarah-Lee, on the morning train to Tel Aviv.

Even though it is not something I ever expect to do, the pictured activity is definitely one of the feel good factors available in Israel.

However, if I were so inclined, I wonder in how many countries it would be safe to engage in such an obvious display of being a member of the Red Sea Pedestrians.

I am equally affected by the sight of Muslims engaged in public prayer. It is significant that this freedom exists, and is so publicly exercised. (Not that you would know this from the media coverage of the place.)

There’s a drop-off and pickup point I pass in my morning commute, and quite often among those gathering are some people taking time out for their contemplation and prayers. It gives me a nice warm feeling, and presumably something positive to the participants, too.

One of the many joys of Israel.

Quatre Bras is that way!


On the table is Le Retour de l’Empereur, a tactical level game about the June 16-18 battles of the Waterloo Campaign. The designer is Didier Rouy, and the publisher is Pratzen Editions.

The game scale is 200 meter (or maybe 250 meter) hexes, with regiment (multi-battalion) sized units, and one hour turns. The package includes six maps, 600 counters, a rule book, scenario book, charts and rosters.

Physically, the production is generally attractive. The maps have no hex numbers, and are drawn in a restrained old-fashioned way, using big hexes and lots of light coloring. With the big hexes come bigger – oblong – counters. For infantry and cavalry, this allows easy portrayal of line and column formations. For artillery, it’s limbered and unlimbered. You can use step loss markers or rosters to track casualties.

One commendable innovation is that each counter has a unique (ahistorical) identifier. For example, there are units 001, 002, 003, and so on. This makes it much easier to find units than trying to hunt them down using the inevitably abbreviated historical designation.

The system out-of-the-box, is pretty classic “I go, you go” with a distinct cavalry charge segment. The optional rules, however, do include a system of having a corps at a time activate by alternate. Indeed, the optional rules give you all sorts of detail that – surprisingly – do not seem too overwhelming. If there’s an exception, it may be the command rules which come in five levels of choice. These range from basic, all the way up to written orders.

I am trying out the system using the one map Quatre Bras battle. I am hoping it is as easy to play as it seems from the rules. That having been said, the rules are not my favorite part of the package. It’s not that there are gaps, because most of the information is there; you just have to pay careful attention to the content. And that is more challenging than it should be, because of the structure and layout. Any rules set that uses roman numerals is not exactly going out of its way to help its readership.

Meantime, let’s see how Marshall Ney does with the situation at hand.


Back to glory


After an enforced break, this week saw a return to a euro gaming session. I was joined by Amiram, Peleg, Sheer, Susan, and Rosalynn.

Sheer’s watch was acting up, so he was late. Until he arrived, we busied ourselves with a quick game of No Thanks (aka Geschenkt). Peleg one with a single figure score. Well done that man!

Then we split into two groups.

Peleg and Sheer had several high energy games of Netrunner. As Sheer said afterwards that the more he played it, the more he enjoyed it, this game will definitely be back for more.

Amiram, Rosalyyn, Susan, and I played a couple of games of Dominion: Adventures. There’s a lot to grasp for those who are new to the deckbuilding style of game, and especially one as supercharged as Adventures. So, the first game saw some tentative play by novices Amiram and Rosalynn. However, that all changed in the second game, with both Amiram and Rosalynn pushing very hard indeed, and coming within one card of victory. Unfortunately for them, and me, Susan excels at this game, and she was the winner in both games. Let’s hear it for Dominion champ Susan!

Rosalyyn, Sheer, Susan and I finished with a quick game of the classic Reibach and Co. Rosalynn jumped into a first round lead, and never looked back. She easily held on for the win. Way to go, Rosalynn!

After all of that, the adrenaline was flowing and I could not get to sleep, even though it was late. The buzz was terrific. I love gaming!

Scrabble champion with a difference

This, from the Guardian, is definitely filed under “i” for impressive:

New Zealander Nigel Richards racks up remarkable victory after reportedly memorising francophone Scrabble dictionary in nine weeks

Nigel Richards’ command of the language of Molière, as the French like to call it, stretches to “bonjour” and being able to count. However, the New Zealander who has been called “the Tiger Woods of Scrabble” certainly has a way with words – even French ones. Despite his linguistic handicap, Richards has just won the francophone world Scrabble championships after reportedly memorising the entire French Scrabble dictionary in just nine weeks.

“He doesn’t speak French at all – he just learned the words,” his close friend Liz Fagerlund told the New Zealand Herald. “He won’t know what they mean, wouldn’t be able to carry out a conversation in French, I wouldn’t think.”

Richards, 48, who has won the English world Scrabble championships three times, the US national championships five times and the UK Open six times, beat a rival from French-speaking Gabon in the final held at Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium on Monday. During the match, which he won by two games to nil, he even successfully challenged his rival Schélick Ilagou Rékawé’s use of a form of the verb “fureter” (to snoop). He was given a standing ovation by the mainly French-speaking crowd.


Read it all, here.

Nowhere to be seen

In this review of Tuvia Tenenbom‘s Catch the Jew, it says:

This myth-shattering book became an instant bestseller in Israel last year, yet, Germany aside, it has largely been ignored in American and European media outlets and by the reigning Middle East punditocracy. Ostensibly, Tenenbom’s book is disdained because the author lacks the academic or journalistic credentials to be taken seriously as a commentator on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

It’s an explanation. But it doesn’t stand up to examination.

For example, search long and hard at the BBC or the Guardian websites and you will not find a review or mention of Catch the Jew. But you will find Shlomo Sand, and Ilan Pappe, to name but two who conform to the BBC and Guardian view of the world.

  • Shlomo Sand. Perfectly described by the Elder of Ziyon as “the academic with no background in history who wrote an absurdly ridiculous book The Invention of the Jewish People to much acclaim by anti-semites.”
  • Ilan Pappe. Benny Morris,a  real historian, could not restrain himself: “At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two….”

Shlomo and Ilan and their output are welcome at the BBC and the Guardian. Tuvia Tenenbom, it appears, is not.

Now why might that be?

Five for Friday

So that was the week of the Iran Deal, that was. I’m still trying to resolve in my head why Obama and crew are all in favor, given the loopholes in the thing that are so large you could drive a coach and horses through it. Or, dare I say it, a nuclear missile or ten. Bloody hell, that’s depressing. Time to get off the topic and think peaceful, relaxing thoughts like Shabbat, eat, rest, and sleep.

But before the boom comes down, there’s time to post another set of links. There’s the usual mix. I hope you get something out of them.

Shabbat Shalom!


Typo of the day

The Times of Israel is covering the apparent negotiations for the Israelis held in Gaza:


The body of the report starts off like this:

Thee Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been engaged in talks with Israel over the return of two Israeli civilians believed to be held in the Gaza Strip, Avraham Mengistu and a young Bedouin man whose name was not cleared for publication, senior Palestinian sources said.

So far, so good.

Next is this:

The sources confirmed Hamas’s recent statement to the effect that Mengistu, who crossed the border in September, is in Hamas captivity but is nevertheless safe and sound. The organization’s new stance on Mengistu contrasts with its previous version, according to which the Israeli man had crossed into Egypt via a tunnel. Hamas officials, however, refused to comment on the matter during a conversation with The Times of Israel.

So, Mengistu:

“is in Hamas captivity but is nevertheless safe and sound.”


Given that the last reports were to the effect that Hamas was (allegedly) not holding the poor fellow, it’s presumably supposed to be:

Mengistu “is not in Hamas captivity but is nevertheless safe and sound.”

However, the typo is an ironical reminder of the inhumane regime that is Hamas.

You can click on the image to go to the article. Of course, the typo may be fixed by the time you get there.

A little stress relief

As if reading my mind, the wonderful worlds out there in cyberspace, clearly having read yesterday’s post, gave me this cracker:

Trendy but calm: adult coloring books selling like crazy

Adult coloring books are giving Harper Lee a run for the money on best-seller lists this summer.

This made me stop and think. Was it some kind of stunt? But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I understood. The complete article makes sense. Read the details, here.

(I think this is what you call being a giver.)

A little light relief

If, like many, you find the whole Iran Deal situation somewhat depressing, this post is for you. Take a time out from the madness that seems to have gripped the Obama administration and its fellow deal participants. Instead, have a look at the following, and forget all that depressing stuff. Instead, you may smile, smile, smile. Laughing is also permitted.

To put it another way: it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.