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Snapshots from JMcL63's lands of adventure (Go to Blogger to find RD/KA! in all its fully-illustrated technicolour glory- jmcl63.blogspot.com).

Archive for a turn of the crank

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New bloggery update

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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I've rehosted "A bit political on yer ass!" to blogger. It already includes new content on Scotland's 2014 independence referendum. Don't forget to update your bookmarks.
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Sat Jan 3, 2015 9:17 pm
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New life on the blogging front

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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"A bit political on yer ass!"- my alternative blog about society and stuff. Enter at your peril. Enjoy. Oh, don't forget to update your bookmarks to follow.
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Fri Jan 2, 2015 12:10 pm
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Guilty pleasures and morbid imaginings

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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A guilty secret

The oft-mentioned mellowing effects of age are a true fact, well observed in the case of yours truly. A phenomenon which began with my increasing squeamishness in my mid-30s, the most extreme example of this effect is the case of one of the most hated figures in recent times here in Britain- the late Margaret Thatcher. I shared this hatred quite viscerally, to the extent that, back in the early/mid-80s I used break out into fits of apoplectic rage at the mere sight of her on the TV, and the sound of her in her prime still sends shivers down my spine. And yes, I went to the local party on the day of her death. I didn't sing, I didn't dance, but I'd promised myself I'd turn out and that was a promise I could not but keep, but that's another story.

"Who's got the last laugh now you mad old bat?"

I blame ex-Chancellor and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for spoiling my party (no, no, not the Labour Party- that had stopped being 'my' party 20 years before the moment in question). No, Brown spoiled my Thatcher's 'death-day' party when, on the occasion of becoming prime minister in 2007, he followed his predecessor Tony Blair's lead by inviting Thatcher for a photo opportunity on the steps of 10 Downing Street. The moment was truly pathetic, this one-time demented ranter cut down by senile dementia and rolled out for all the world like an old-time mummified Soviet Communist Party General Secretary to give her doddering seal of approval to the latest simpering heir to her so-called 'revolution'. And in that moment I couldn't help myself, I felt sorry for her.
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Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:10 am
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Combat Commander: RSG radio variant reprised

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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This is just not on chaps
I wrote back in December 2008 about my frustration with the way that Combat Commander: Mediterrean’s updated Random Scenario Generator allows only the attacker to start with a radio. This just didn’t work for me at a basic level of historical authenticity. My general reading has taught me that the German army used their company and battalion 81mm mortars as immediate on-call defensive artillery fire. And George R. Blackburn’s monumental The Guns of War is chock full of examples of British and Commonwealth forces in Europe in 1944-45 using artillery directed by an attached Forward Observation Officer to break up attacks in progress. So I just can’t go along with the idea that defenders can only get access to radios via the Reinforcement event, which has a mere 3% chance even with the Americans for whom it is most likely.

All that said I could see that the essential issue was simple enough: while it was plain that either the attacker or the defender starting with a radio worked well enough, making radios available to both sides risks turning the game into a rather uninteresting exchange of big guns: the choice being mutually available, escalation would be very tempting because why not, after all? The idea that the points cost alone of selecting a radio would be sufficient disincentive just didn’t add up for me. More important perhaps is the fact that most of the ‘Artillery Request’ cards are also prime ‘Defender Only’ actions; eg. 6/9 in the American deck, including the 2 ‘Hidden Wire’ actions. On the other hand though, 6/9 ‘Artillery Request’ cards in the American deck are ‘Dig In’ or ‘Hidden Entrenchment’ actions. It is easy to imagine how keen a defender with a radio would be to use these for the artillery strikes. So the alternative uses of the defender’s ‘Artillery Request’ cards strike me as little more of disincentive for artillery escalation than does the points cost.
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Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:22 am
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To tweak perfection?

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Old news is good news
Word broke on the internet some weeks ago of news that at first sight seemed almost too good to be true: Valley Games have acquired the rights to Up Front and are working with designer Courtney Allen on a new edition, to be funded via Kickstarter later this year for a planned publication date in 2013. The initial excitement felt by fans of this all-time classic will have been quickly tempered by healthy scepticism upon all-too-immediate recall of the vapourware that was MMP’s ill-fated Up Front 2000. The lapse- in March 2011, of MMP’s licence with Hasbro was nothing less than a mercy killing. No one really believed anymore that MMP were going to bring this one home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ultimately relieved that some of MMP’s more esoteric suggestions for their new edition of Up Front (first announced in an ad in ASL Journal #2) didn’t see the light of day.
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Tue Oct 9, 2012 5:07 pm
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In the lair of the White Bear

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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A chance encounter
I first met the White Bear last summer, in the guise of her secret identity (who shall remain nameless, naturally enough). For the purposes of this article though, I can tell you that the White Bear hails from Copenhagen, which is why, on my asking what had brought her to Glasgow, she told me that she was working on an art project funded by Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). Intrigued but wary- because of my philistine tendencies when it comes to modern art, I soon warmed to the White Bear’s theme when she explained to me that it had been inspired by a quotation from Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who regular readers will remember is my favourite writer from among the pantheon of 19th century Great Russians:
Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote:
“Try and set yourself the task not to think of a white bear, and the cursed thing comes to mind every minute"
"Winter Notes on Summer Impressions" 1863

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Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:39 pm
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Wargames, politics and ethics #2: Politics? You can run, but you can't hide

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Broad-brush polemic ruffles feathers
A book I picked up on sight from a recommendation on the WW2 SS Counter Colours thread, Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies II's 2008 scholarly study, The Myth of the Eastern Front: the Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture was going to become an article even as I first read it – avidly – over xmas last year. Researching for this series- in which The Myth of the Eastern Front was going to feature centrally, I found the military hobbyists' inevitable internet hot flushes in its wake. Inevitable? In response to an academic tome?

The biggest invasion of the biggest war in history: a lot there to forget

Yes, because The Myth of the Eastern Front is part analytical historical deconstruction, and part broad-brush polemic against the 'romancers'- promulgators of an idealised vision of the Wehrmacht and the SS as honourable soldiers fighting a 'Lost Cause' against the Red horde. Smelser and Davies root this mythology in the Wehrmacht's 'last campaign': the ex-generals' postwar years of networking and spin aimed at rehabilitating the image of the German armed forces on the Eastern front.
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Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:13 pm
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Wargames, politics and ethics #1: Ah, that old bugbear

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Reality bites
At some time or another, many wargamers will have found themselves pondering the political and/or ethical implications of their passion for revisiting the past, present and future battlefields of the world with their maps and little counters. This reflection leads some to create boundaries and/or preferences: periods they won't game, sides they always prefer to play, and so on. For me this began in my teenage-tankie youth, when I drew a boundary at 1945. My reasons for this were twofold:
- In the late 70s and early 80s- with Thatcher and Reagan's 'second' Cold War at its height, modern warfare was too closely linked to the spectre of global thermonuclear holocaust for it to have any appeal to me.
- I felt uncomfortable with the idea of playing games about wars the casualties of which would be actual people living in my own time.

I abandoned this boundary as I grew older. That's not to say that I 'grew out of it', because that would be to imply that there's something immature about the choice to draw and to exercise such boundaries. I've no wish to be so insulting to others who've made these choices.

No, for me the decision to abandon such boundaries was driven by much more personal imperatives of simple mental survival. That might sound grandiose but it's true. Y'see, in my early days as a student, I got into a conversation about philosophy – as you do – with a guy I met in a student flat. The end result was that I became a convinced strong sceptic; ie. I took seriously the notion that we can't take the evidence of our senses for granted, to the extent that I confronted the proposition that reality was essentially unknowable. This might sound like just another cockeyed bit of undergraduate Philosophy 101. It was. And so it would've remained but for the later emergence of the delusional phase of my bipolar disorder.
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Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:57 am
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