Guardian true to its propaganda mission

I heard about it. You must have heard about it. Everyone heard about it. As the Times of Israel reported:

Intel to buy Mobileye for $15 billion in largest purchase of Israeli tech

By any sensible definition, that’s news. It’s the “largest ever purchase of an Israeli high-tech company” and it’s by one of the most famous companies, involving technology in an area everyone is talking about, interested in, and keenly watching developments there.

If you depend on the Guardian for your news, however, that deal is not there for you to read about. Some earlier activity of Mobileye, for example its Intel and BMW tie up, was reported (see here) and the report even included the dreaded (for the Guardian) “Israel” word.

But it appears this mega deal, this BDS ball-buster, this wonderful, wonderful confirmation of all that’s good in the world of Israeli high-tech – all of that was too bitter a pill for the Guardian to swallow and publicize.

What bitter, twisted, propaganda obsessed thinking.

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Back from the brink of defeat

hero-realms

With regulars Peleg and Sheer tied up in important Mossad business, it was left to Azriel and I to enjoy ourselves at this week’s game session.

Azriel chose Hero Realms to start, and we then played a couple of games using a variety of the expansion character packs. Unfortunately for Azriel, in each case I was able to thin my deck down to the better concentration of high power cards before him, and so won.

Next up we switched to 7 Wonders: Duel, one of my favorite two player games. I explained the rules to Azriel, and off we went.

The game is played in three rounds.

  • I murdered Azriel in the first round.
  • I absolutely killed him in the second.
  • And I smashed him for most of the third round.

Unfortunately for me, this game has a couple of instant victory conditions. One of these is a military victory. I had ignored the military cards, but foolishly left Azriel needing only one more military point to beat me. However, I could see the cards – we were down to the last three or four – and knew I could stop him from getting the last military card. But, silly billy me forgot the Wonder cards. Azriel had one Wonder that gave him the one military point he needed to give him the win. That will teach me. Well played, Azriel in coming back from the brink of defeat. I may have crushed you to pieces, but you truly won.

Another fun night. No wonder it takes me ages to get to sleep after the high of a games night.

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The Godwulf Manuscript – Robert B. Parker

goodwulf

This is the first in the late author’s highly successful Spenser series, featuring a Boston private detective (former policeman) of that name, making his way in the world. It’s largely a book of its time (the 1970s) with certain cultural signposts: there is no political correctness, and sensitivity towards those of a different outlook is somewhat lacking, at least on the surface. Spenser, a somewhat brash, bolshy, arrogant, and abusive individual, is hired by a local university to recover the Godwulf manuscript, a stolen medieval book of some value. The thief is demanding $100,000 be donated to a free school.

Spenser is on the case, pointed in the direction of a student group called SCACE (Student Committee Against Capitalist Exploitation). His first meeting with the secretary of that group and her boyfriend does not end well. From that point on, the violence and danger escalates, and Spenser has hands more than full.

This book has no literary pretensions. It struck me as being highly formulaic in its structure: Spenser gets to the scene, let’s describe the scene at length, describe the people, start the dialogue, then continue with action. From this reader’s perspective, the descriptions are OK (sometimes better than that) but too often are overdone. In other words, there’s too much description for what is necessary to set the scene and the atmosphere. (Often, but not always.) But the dialogue and Spenser’s internal revelations and thought processes redeem the book and make it worth reading as entertainment. The dialogue is sharp, often childish, but very much in the spirit of the times and his character. Spenser’s view of the world is often amusing, thus making for a more sympathetic view of this rough diamond.

The plot is simple, direct, and easy to follow. There are no complex turns here, and any twists are minor and within reason.

It’s easy, light reading, with enough of an edge and tension to make it a page turner. In short, pure escapist fun.

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The Dead House – Harry Bingham

thedeadhouse

Time to mourn. I have now finished book five in the Fiona Griffiths series, and there are no more available to read. Damn! That should tell you all you need to know about the series and the book: they are highly recommended.

This time around, Fiona discovers a body lying in the ‘dead’ house of the title. It’s a young girl, respectfully laid out, and very dead. But she died naturally. So who is she, and who put her in that place? Soon Fiona is off on the hunt, while juggling her other police duties and investigations, to get to the truth. It’s a challenging journey involving real danger and plodding paperwork, but our heroine comes through with flying colors.

As usual, the central character is so powerful, so enthralling, and so captivating, that you can (and should) readily excuse the lack of other characters of substance. there are a few contenders whose rapid portraits hint at more to come, but we will all need to be patient. Again as usual, the book displays the thorough research and eye for accuracy that this author brings to the fore in his work. While the environments that Griffiths goes to are unknown to me, they seemed realistic and believable. There is one extended scene with Griffiths and a colleague in danger of dying that was superb. I felt I was there and experiencing the situation through her. Great writing.

If I have any criticism it is that I couldn’t completely buy in to the rationale for the main evildoers behaving as they did. That may be because I missed something, or it may be because the characterization there was lacking. The difficulty may be a personal bias, but I do not want to say any more for fear of spoiling your enjoyment. And that’s the main thing: this is a thoroughly enjoyable book. My nit picking concerns are precisely that, and in no way detract from a thumping good read. I loved the character, the setting, the interactions of the various policemen and their investigations, and so on. I loved it all.

If you haven’t already done so, get started on reading this amazing series of books.

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Voyage of discovery

"There will be trouble ahead..."

“There will be trouble ahead…”

This week’s session was devoted to the single meaty monster of a game that is Amerigo.  It’s a discovery themed game, with a neat action mechanism involving wooden cubes and a cardboard tower, and an action wheel. Players compete to best settle the new land and exploit its resources.

This is serious, hardcore gaming, not for the fainthearted, and not for those lacking in stamina, grit, or fortitude. Despite that (Ha!) Azriel, Peleg, and Sheer joined me, and took part in a memorable gaming experience.

First, Azriel is a gaming great who misleads his opponents by asking questions about stuff that has already been explained. And while his competitors are subconsciously ignoring him as a threat, he is consciously building a winning combination, and a chunk of victory points. His play was stupendous – in the amazingly good sense – and he took the other three of us to the cleaners. He raced ahead, lapped us all on the scoring board, and smiled sweetly throughout.

What was particularly stunning about this was that this was Azriel’s first ever play of the game. In something of this complexity, most people take at least a few game turns, if not a complete game, to understand what is going on. I did try and help Azriel with some of his early decisions, but would probably have been better giving myself some decent advice. Anyway, for a first time play, Azriel was making a mockery of the game’s tough reputation.

At this point, Peleg and I were reduced to spectators. But Sheer, who should never be discounted, refused to give up. And his pondering, slow decision making resulted in an astounding collection of victory points that brought him right up to the same as Azriel’s momentous score. According to the game rules, Sheer was the winner. According to the players, Azriel was the winner. Both played well, and despite the late hour, the fatigue, the dehydration, and the hunger – I mean, they ate almost none of the biscuits! – everybody had a good time.

If you are a serious gamer, and want a top end challenge, I thoroughly recommend Amerigo. All I can say, is thank Heaven we don’t do that every week.

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