In what I believe is a first in the US, the voters of Massachusetts can now register as a Pirate. The process took longer than I hoped, but now that that effort is complete we can expand on the other Mass. Pirate Party campaigns. More details at the Mass. Pirate Party blog.
A year ago (cannot quite believe I am saying that) I finished enough of my UK moderns to run a decent sized Fistful of TOWs 2 game. I have played or run a few Fistful of TOWs games, and it is my favorite rule set for this period, but, for this game, most people had not played the rules. So it was a learning experience.
The scenario was a simple meeting engagement between two Soviet T80/BMP2 battalions and two companies of Challenger 1s with FV432 and Recon support. It did not go well for the Soviets and if I run this scenario again, I will increase the size of the Soviet forces.
Two little bits (rumors?) from behind the scenes during Egypt's uprising.
Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.
Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.
Thus when General Hassan al-Rawani told the massive crowds yesterday evening that "everything you want will be realised – all your demands will be met", the people cried back: "The army and the people stand together – the army and the people are united. The army and the people belong to one hand."
While Paul Amar wrote that during the February 4th attacks on democracy demonstrators by pro-Mubarak supporters (likely paid thugs, police in plain clothes, government employees and even convicts freed on the condition that they attack the demonstrators), were not widely prevented by the military because they did not have ammunition:
The army’s role in countering Suleiman’s lust for repression was crucial to saving the momentum of this uprising. On 4 February, the day of the most terrifying police/thug brutality in Tahrir Square, many commentators noted that the military were trying to stop the thug attacks but were not being very forceful or aggressive. Was this a sign that the military really wanted the protesters to be crushed? Since then, we have learned that the military in the square were not provisioned with bullets. The military were trying as best they could to battle the police/thugs, but Suleiman had taken away their bullets for fear the military would side with the protesters and use the ammunition to overthrow him.
That the military was unwilling to attack the demonstrators on January 30th, certainly lends support to the notion that their ammunition was take away from them before February 4th, and highlights the usefulness of nonviolent tactics in undermining the support given to the regime by the military and other groups in and outside of a government.
With the exciting (largely) nonviolent overthrow of the Tunisian and Egyptian authoritarian governments, there has been talk of the effects of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools on these events. Techdirt points us to the use of Usenet to keep the outside world informed of what was going on in the Soviet Union during the 1991 coup. It is an interesting, albeit brief read.
Certainly in the Tunisian revolution, Anonymous seems to have had a hand in helping to take down government servers. Certainly, if they were able to hack the computers and phone system of the presidency and make it difficult communicate with others then that would have contributed to Ben Ali's ouster. Certainly, the internet can allow local nonviolent activists to work together and abroad to plan their efforts and craft fliers to distribute about goals and tactics.
Different articles have downplayed the effects of the internet and social media on the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and else where, but one of the keys to a successful nonviolent revolution is that large numbers of people must not fear government repression and realize that others do not fear such repression as well. By increasing communication between people, the internet and social media help that process. Hopefully these tools will get used to help overthrow authoritarian governments in the Middle East and beyond.
I finally finished the Deisho fleet I have been working on for a while. I created a slide show. The fleet consists of:
- 3 Do"Ming"Tao Class Frigates
- 3 Yen'Ming'Tao Class Frigates
- 2 Shi'Dong'Tao Class Destroyers
- 2 Jin'Dong'Tao Class Destroyers
- 2 Ro'Dong'Tao Class Destroyers
- 1 Jimg'Gung'Tao class Heavy Cruiser
- 1 Bao'Gung'Tao Class Heavy Cruiser
- 1 Yao'Jing'Tao Class Strike Carrier
Unfortunately, the mount hole of one of the destroyers proved to be too small, so I will need to redrill that one.
Here are the painting notes:
- after building them, I spray primed them with a gray primer;
- applied a darker gray to them. See this note;
- applied a red mixture to different parts of the ship;
- applied my standard Floquil silver wash to the red parts to give them a different look;
- painted the gun barrels, missile launchers and hanger with Model Master Gun Metal;
- finally painted the inside of the engines in Floquil USSR Underside Blue.
Pictures were taken with the macro feature in direct sunlight, though the picture of the entire fleet might have had the flash on unfortunately.
I have a bunch of other Deisho ships, but those will have to wait their turn in the queue.
As a long-time Palm user (though not for over a year – anyone want a used Verizon Treo 600?), I am happy that HP will be releasing a new webOS tablet computer, the TouchPad, and two new phones. The articles on it look positive, though none of them mention the devices' battery life.
With any luck the TouchPad is faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was increadibly slow when I tried it at Bust Buy. However, the phones are not out until the Spring and the TouchPad won't be out until the Summer, so my guess is that HP's plans to be the next Apple will get dashed when Apple releases the iPad2 in the next few months.
I finally revised my star ship fleet combat rules with the comments from the last playtest. I added a few more changes to the mechanics and a number of additions as well. Expanded the number of ships for which I have stats, though they will need to be revised as we play with them.
I also wrote a summary sheet that players can use to keep track of their ships during a game. Each ship is on a single line which is an idea I got from A Fistful of TOWs.
Here they are:
We will do another play test and then I will release it to a wider set of folks. I plan to keep it to two pages, if at all possible, though I may add one more page with my design notes and motivation.
Suggestions for a name for the game are most welcome.