Author: Ezra

BGGCon 2010 – Day 0

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Last month I was lucky enough to once again attend Boardgamegeekcon. My second year was an even better experience. I saw many friends from the year before, never spoiled for people to try new games with, and got to play many of the hot new games. Yeah, it's a pretty good way to spend a few days. (more…)

Your Friday Afternoon is Happy to See the Name World B. Free

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OK, they refer to him as World Free, but still. Hoopism has these very cool word clouds for each of the NBA teams featuring every player ever ranked by minutes played. It's certainly the largest font Jon Koncak's name has ever been put in.

I really enjoyed sliding through the various teams seeing strange little surprises (I had forgotten Hakeem's brief dalliance with Toronto) and people who show up prominently on several teams (Shaq in particular.) But perhaps my favorite part was going through the two teams I love (the Warriors and Celtics) and finding great little memories like any of the Warriors awful late 80s big men – Victor Alexander? Jim Petersen? The immortal Uwe Blab?

This was a lot of fun for me. Hope you enjoy it as well. And yes, I have BGGcon wrap ups coming early next week. The short answer is it was better than last year, even if most of the hot new games were not available for purchase this year.

Boardgamegeek Con – Year 2

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Last year I was lucky enough to attend the premier boardgaming convention in the US, BGGcon. I will be there again starting tomorrow. Alas, I think it's unlikely that I will do much updating in media res, although like last year I will do a full post mortem (you can see last years starting here.) It should be an amazing 5 days.

To whet your appetite, here are a couple of games I am very interested in going in:

- Troyes. I've mentioned before that I like dice games, and in this game each color of dice represents a particular class of citizen. All of which can do different things. Looks right up my alley.

- Navegador. It looks a little like a combination of Finca and Endeavor, both games I really like.

- 7 Wonders. A civilization building (and destroying) version of Dominion? Sounds interesting to me!

- Vinhos. A game about making wine. Not my favorite theme, but this one has a lot of buzz around it.

- Merkator. The theme has been done to death middle ages trading empires, but this is from the guy that did Agricola and Le Havre, so I am automatically interested.

- Junta – Viva El Presidente. Just because I love the original so.

So, see everybody some time after Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday.

The Games We Played: Alexander Hamilton – AntiFederalist

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Been awhile since I did any game reviews, and I have several really good games to cover. Also, I am about to head to BGGcon for the second time, so I have been thinking games even more than usual. I have written previously about how much I enjoy games Jason Matthews and various partners have made. Whether the wonderful Twilight Struggle, the equally great 1960 or the recent Campaign Manager you really can't go wrong. Except for one thing – all those games are only for two players. Here follows a way too long review of their latest game. (more…)

I'm Even Madder About This Than the Bible Stuff

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Derek Jeter won a Gold Glove award. At shortstop. Arrrrggggh!

Derek Jeter is not even the best shortstop on his own team, much less in the AL. His range is nothing, and he actually demonstrably costs his team runs defensively.

Now, I know that Gold Gloves have as much to do with offensive stats as they do defensive ones (especially since defense is one area where advanced metrics have lagged a little) but even taking into account his offense, Jeter should not be in the top 5.

We all know that Jeter won this award (for the 5th time!) because he plays for the most famous team. But (as Bill James has pointed out) it's entirely possible that he is "the least effective defensive player at any position." His choice as the best fielding shortstop in the AL is a joke. He does not deserve it.

Well, I Guess if God Promised..

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One of the candidates for the chairperson of the House Energy Committee believes that global warming is not a problem, because God promised he wouldn't destroy the earth. He goes on to quote the Bible as if it were some sort of scientific record, and not the made up scribblings of someone telling us what some invisible allmighty being told them.

Does anyone think that using the Bible (which has had more ghost writing done to it over the ages than an athlete's "autobiography") as any sort of factual record is a good idea? The Bible is only slightly more historically accurate than the Book of Mormon (which I remind posits that a really lost tribe of Jews was in South America, despite any archaeological evidence to the contrary) or anything from Scientology.

Can I enter Ragnarok into the Congressional record, since it is as well sourced and historically likely as anything God said? We are so screwed.

Take that Ari Fleischer!

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When I think of White House Press Secretaries I normally think of evasive banter with reporters or the dreamy C.J. Craig. I don't think of forceful advocate for the Fourth Estate. Enter Robert Gibbs. He loudly and forcefully threatened to pull President Obama out of a negotiating session with the Indian Prime Minister unless the full compliment of US reporters were allowed in. The Indians wanted to limit the access to 5, after initially agreeing to 8.

It's nice to see the White House relationship to the press in a non-negative sense for once. And, cheers to Mr. Gibbs for standing up for the White House Press Corps. My favorite part is that he jammed his foot in the door to keep it open.

Why Dwight Howard Will Never Win A Title

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I love basketball. Most of all, I love good smart team basketball. It's why I loved the 80s Celtics (and grudgingly the 80s Lakers), the recent Suns teams, and many others. Basketball is a sport that has been destroyed by a superstar mentality, where one person is greater than the team. It's the reason I will never like Michael Jordan (although I certainly acknowledge his dominance). The new idea of basketball is perhaps typified by this quote from Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard:

“They told me to grab them, but sometimes blocking a shot and sending it out of bounds shows a team it’s not going to be easy to come in the paint,” Howard said. “Grabbing it, that’s like being a showoff or something like that, even though it is kind of cool.”

What? He likes giving the other team possession? Sheesh. Has he never talked to Bill Russell. Blocking the ball out of bounds is a silly and wasteful move that doesn't really help your team that much. It's also selfish.

On a side note, the Orlando press have a really silly habit of being way too easy on Howard. The fawning is annoying. This is a bad incidence, but not nearly as bad as the ridiculous MVP votes they give him. Until Howard gets a legitimate post move, he will never be the player he should be. And the above quote shows that his attitude is following his game. Too bad really.

In Which I Possibly Become an Old Man

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I work 3 blocks away from Market Street, the route of the Giants World Series Victory Parade. I have been a Giants fan since I was aware of baseball. I am thrilled that my team won it all, and excited that they have a great young nucleus. I am not excited by the idea of standing in a massive crowd (they are suggesting more than 100,000 people might line Market today) with no chance of seeing the team. I think that means I suck. At least it sort of feels that way.

So, Giants, please do not take my non-attendance at today's parade as a dip in our relationship. My love is as strong now as it was when I was watching Johnnie LeMaster butcher the shortstop position. I just don't need to stand in a crowd of 100,000 to show it.

Here's How I'm Voting Tomorrow

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I try to do a post here for every election. This time, I'm actually on top of things enough to not have to do it ipso facto. So, without further ado, here's how I'm voting for the Statewide issues in California. If you really want to know who I'm voting for Mayor of Alameda, you can ask. As always, I am using my scoring method of scouring websites and using the excellent follow the money site (especially useful for ballot propositions. If I can't decide based on those materials, the tie breaker is to do the opposite of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association's recommendation. (more…)

"It's a Serious Question"

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That's how Jonah Goldberg describes his new article calling for the assassination of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. So, before we get into how stupid Jonah Goldberg is, and how ridiculous most of what he writes is (and how awesome that National Review for Christmas pop up ad is) so first I'll give a serious answer – because they are smarter than you, and know it would do no good. Oh, and perhaps because it is also illegal and morally reprehensible, but probably less that.

Do we really live in a world where columnists can hope someone is killed by CIA agents? Someone who is not Osama Bin Laden? Someone who is (sort of) a member of the media, whose job it is to report on the mistakes, tragedies and incompetence of our occupation of Iraq? I'm guessing Jonah's not a big fan of Daniel Ellsburg either, right? Isn't calling for people's deaths the sort of thing Goldberg repudiates in our enemies (see Rushdie, Salman)

Seriously, rhetoric like this is good for nothing. In fact, I find it disgusting. Always have. No one should celebrate or cheer for the death of another human being, no matter what they have done. Where's the outrage towards Goldberg? Heck, a New Hampshire legislator had to resign when he talked about a "Dead Palin" He wasn't even actively advocating for her death.

So, why shouldn't Jonah Goldberg be forced to resign? I can dream, can't I? It's not like I'm calling for his assassination, right?

In Which I Jinx the Giants

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The Giants won game 1 of the World Series last night. It's a thrill to see how excited this city is. There is Giants gear everywhere, and a buzz throughout the town. I so want my team that I have loved almost all my life to win the World Series. But, history gives me pause. Now, before I start with my sad memories, this is not some insipid Dan Shaunessy "Curse of the Bambino" Red Sox thing. I will not die sad if the Giants never win, and my love of the team does not define me. That being said… (more…)

Your Friday Always Appreciated Muscle Cars

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It's been a little while since we did a Friday Timewaster, so for your entertainment I offer up Road of the Dead. It's a surprisingly deep little flash game where you commit vehicular zombie slaughter on a pretty epic scale. The graphics are impressive, and the game itself is good fun. I should warn our younger viewers (and recommend to the others) that this game has lots of blood and graphic scenes of bad driving.

I am not very good at the game, but it sure is fun. So, don't ask why you never run out of gas, just start running over zombies. Oh, and this tip, don't let a zombie get on your hood. Bad news there.

How Not to Get a Job From Me

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I am currently going through resumes & trying to find a candidate for an unpaid internship. I have been shocked by the lack of forethought people put into their cover emails.

First off, if you want a job (or even an internship) make sure your email address is professional. I will not be hiring AZNPRINZEZZ08. Ever.  And despite the popularity of Prop 19, having 420 in your email address is probably a bad idea.

Next, when you write the cover letter, at least give it the illusion of personalization. When I was applying a few years ago I had a template, sure but I always had at least one paragraph that was specific to the organization. And I always mentioned the organization and position in the first sentence of the letter.

None of the candidates have so much as put the name of the organization in their letter. Or mentioned our issue (which I think is vital for an application to an advocacy non-profit!)

So, if you read this, please make sure that your cover letters are specific and make the reader want to learn more about you. Don't just send the same memo 30 times. It will make anyone more likely to hire you. And, I will guarantee an interview to any who uses a pirate cover letter!

Nothing Bad Happens When Germans Start Talking About Cultural Purity, Right?

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Angela Merkel gave a speech over the weekend where she said that immigrants to Germany should assimilate themselves, including adopting Christianity. "We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here…"

I'm pretty sure Ms. Merkel wishes she hadn't used those exact words. It's one thing to suggest that immigrants learn the local language. Quite another to demand they give up their religion and values in favor of the hegemony.

I actually don't have a problem (and most immigrants don't either) with having them learn the local language. That's important. Of course, where I lose the Tea Partiers is when I suggest that we take the European tack of offering the resources to learn the language to the immigrants. But, to suggest that they must give up their religion and culture to exist in your country is a frightening thing to hear from a Head of State.

For some reason, this is far more chilling to me than banning head scarves. I think it's the overt demand that people renounce one religion for another that makes me so uncomfortable. The fact that 60% of respondents to a poll thought that Muslims should be "significantly curbed" in their religious observances is frightening.

When did Merkel become a Patriot Guard member?

PS – Random language trivia – before Merkel was elected, there was no German word for a female Chancellor. BundesKanzler became BundesKanzlerin.