Worst excuse of the week?

At the end of January, my post Hate by name, hate by nature pointed to Amira Hass‘ hate speech at Kent University. There were complaints. As the Campaign against Antisemitism reports:

“Asked to clarify the University’s position and what action will now be taken to prevent the use of further antisemitic rhetoric at the University under the guise of political discourse about Israel, David Powell, Head of the Office of the Vice Chancellor told us to confirm that no action would be taken…”

What did Mr Powell write in his response to the complaints, explaining why no action would be taken?

Are you ready?

Here comes that excuse:

“A debate may doubtless be had about the precise point that Ms Hass may have been making in her own presentation but we would note that she is a bona fide (and award winning) journalist working for a respected Israeli newspaper.”

It’s OK, because she’s a journalist? Have you ever heard such garbage?

As a separate issue, I would argue that Haaretz is respected in the same way that the Guardian is respected: not very much.

As the Campaign site says:

“Claiming that the “Elders of Zion” plotted the subjugation of Arabs is not free speech; it is hate speech.

Using that phrase is inexcusable, especially when the person using it is doing so advisedly to an audience of students, knowing the full connotations of her words, both as a Jew and as an “award-winning” journalist.

It is a disgrace that the University of Kent has decided that no action will be taken against the organisers, and that no change in policy is required to prevent antisemitic rhetoric disguised as political discourse in the future.”

If you are Jewish, the message is clear: stay away from the University of Kent, unless you want to be exposed to unfettered antisemitism, with no right of recourse.

The Elder of Ziyon, where I first saw this follow up, comments:

There you go! If you are a “bona fide” and award wining journalist, you cannot be possibly say anything that is too offensive for college audiences!

It’s a get out of jail card for antisemites!

Antisemitic conspiracy theories are not to be shunned, as long as they are promulgated by someone who is famous. Hass’ fame allows antisemitism to rise from something that is reprehensible into something that can be legitimately debated.

That is exactly what Kent University is saying.

I agree.

The Elder goes on to make this pertinent point:

As far as this new guidance that being an award winning journalist may say whatever he or she wants on campus without consequence, I wonder if that rule applies to all forms of bigotry, or only one specific kind?

I think I know the answer.

Five for Friday

Broadway, New York – February 2014

Broadway, New York – February 2014

Blogging and other activities have been cut short this week as I have something nasty that I am trying to shake off. So, please excuse me if I get straight to the point. Here are the regular weekly selection of links:

Shabbat Shalom!

More Chickamauga

Early on the first day, Brannan's Division is set to clobber Pegram (top left), while Bragg gathers his forces for his assault (middle right).

Early on the first day, Brannan’s Division is set to clobber Pegram (middle left), while Bragg gathers his forces for his assault (middle right).

On the table is Chickamauga – about the September 1863 ACW battle of that name – a Jon Southard design, published by West End Games.

Hexes are 275 yards across, turns are 45 minutes, and units are mostly brigades. There are no artillery units, these having been taken account of in rendering the infantry unit strengths.

It is an “I go, you go” system with some command and control limitations popped on top. For example, to get units to move, they either have to be given a command, or have to be in contact. Commands costs CPs, and these are available by random die roll each turn, and a certain potential amount from planning done by the higher level leaders. The effect is to constrain what the players can do, with a certain amount of chaos.

The combat system uses hits – each unit can take 10 – to show the attritional effects. You need to judge when it is time to get units out of danger and allow them to recover. However, recovery takes time, and no unit can completely recover.

I prefer the combat system here to the detail of the Gamers’ Brigade Series, because it is easier to play, there is no bookkeeping, and it gives a realistic impression. The bookkeeping alone would not be a deal breaker, but the Brigade Series has stragglers and casualties, thus complicating matters more than I want. In this game, there is no ‘breaking’ of divisions or Corps Attack Stoppage. However, most players are going to look at a division accumulating too many hits, and do the right thing. OK, I did say ‘most.’

I like the idea behind the command and control system, however I would prefer it were less gamey. For example, in the planning part you can assign points to a future turn to a wing leader. However, you do not need to specify what the points are for. So, at the time of the plan you might be intending to order Division A. But come the time, you might want to give the order to Division B. On Consimworld, I think it was Steve Parker who hinted at a house rule restricting the use of planning points by specifying their use in advance. I have tried that and like it. It still has rough edges, but works OK.

One driver behind getting this and Barren Victory on the table was Dave Powell‘s book, The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle. (Highly recommended, but be aware it is only the first volume. I have ordered the second.) Reading the battle history, there are constant descriptions of units and leaders blundering about, not knowing where the enemy were exactly, and not that sure about their own forces, either. Flank attacks happened from chance sometimes. That is difficult to reproduce without adding another layer of complexity, like randomized movement. But I did wonder if a double blind umpired version, especially with a free setup at the start, might get close to it. (Yes, it would be hard work.) Another option might be to use the two map, double blind system from GDW.

I have played through the first day scenario once – a Confederate win – and am restarting because there are a couple of aspects I want to try a different approach with. The hit markers are a bit fiddly, but otherwise the game plays smoothly, and is good fun. The core system promised a bit, though it sadly died out.

After the Crash – Michel Bussi

Translated from the original French by Sam Taylor, this is a book that starts off with a tragic, but enthralling scenario: it’s December 1980, and a plane crashes and burns on the France/Switzerland border, leaving only one survivor from the 169 passengers and crew, a little baby girl. But whose child is she? There are two potential answers – one wealthy and well connected family, and one family at the opposite end of the social spectrum – and no obvious way of deciding which is correct. It’s a time before effective DNA analysis, so the appliance of science isn’t going to help much. A judge must decide.

Fast forward, and we are looking back at the crash and the investigation from the perspective of private detective Crédule Grand-Duc, his casebook, and Mark (the girl’s brother, according to the judge’s decision). Did the detective ever get some proof about who the girl really is? Why does Mark have his casebook?

From here on, the story flows from improbable to implausible, but skillfully. It’s an entertaining, surprising, and fun read. It has its shocks and its twists, and is highly recommended. It’s not going to win any prizes for high literature, but who cares. It’s an easy, satisfying read.

Five for Friday

A famous Glasgow street name that brings back a flood of memories.

A famous Glasgow street name that brings back a flood of memories.

If all goes according to plan, after posting this I will be heading out for a bike ride – the first time in far too long. I am half looking forward to it. I know I will enjoy it (glass half full mode) but there will be a pain barrier to get through as my backside reacquaints itself with the saddle (glass half empty mode). But it will be good for me…

Talking about good things, aren’t you glad the weekend is here? To help you mark the passing of another week in this race called life, here are the usual offering of a selection of links. Enjoy!

Shabbat Shalom!

Lesson time

This week’s session saw Sheer come over and show Susan and I how to play Dominion Adventures. (Translation: Sheer won.) Then Sheer showed me how to play one of my favorite wargames: Up Front. (Translation: Sheer won.)

In a bit more detail:

For Dominion: Adventures, we used the size distortion setup with cards from the base set as well as Adventures. Sheer’s winning strategy was to bulk up on silver cards, and duplicate them with one of the events that simultaneously reduced our hand size for a turn (Camp?). Susan competed much better than me, using the Giant to make regular Victory Point purchases. My problem was that I started down one road, wasn’t successful, and tried another plan that did not have enough time to work.In the end, Sheer won, but only by a few points from Susan. Both had at last double my score. It was a challenging mix of cards, and delivered the usual satisfying game experience.

Susan allowed Sheer and I to indulge in some wargaming. I explained the Up Front  rules to Sheer and we played the first scenario, pitting a squad of US soldiers against my German squad. At one key point in the game, when I was sure that I had the right card combination, I advanced my key groups. I was also sure that Sheer did not have decent Fire cards. I was wrong. I lost one soldier to a deadly shot. From then on, things went downhill, a I tried to rescue the situation with more aggressive moves that simply didn’t work. Great fun, even in defeat, and Sheer expressed a desire to play this again, so good news all round.

Round and round we go

Tonight’s driving encounter: on the way home from the gym, I drove up to a roundabout just in time to see a nippy little number zip round the roundabout at speed, to nab an empty parking bay. A little too fast, but otherwise unremarkable driving. Except for the fact the stupid bastard was driving the wrong way round the roundabout…

What this country needs is a mass aliyah of traffic policemen, preferably from Scotland!