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03 August 2013


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The Pelican

Colin Powell?

Now, what did the Russians call this kind of operation again...?

Babak Makkinejad


Does anyone know what the status of US Citizens who went to Canada to fight Germany was under the Geneva Conventions?

Where they illegal combatants since the country of their citizenship was not at war with Germany?

Likewise, the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade; were they subject to Geneva Conventions?



People who join the armed forces of an acknowledged state are not different if they are not citizens of thst state. pl


Does this apply to Hezbullah in Syria if they attack Lebanese targets from Syrian soil?



Their legal status under the Geneva Convention if they are taken prisoner? A strange somewhat sophistic question. Hizbullah combatants are not members of the armed forces of any state. I doubt that any state whether the Lebanese or the Syrian is legally required to treat them as prisoners of war. The US was not legally obligated to treat insurgents in Iraq or Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan as PWs but would have been wise to declare them to be such in order to avoid the inevitable intervention of the federal civilian courts. pl


I think this administration has established that the law doesn't matter

joe brand

Would be most interested to hear opinions from people here about Gian Gentile's new book.


It looks like someone is trying to bring the Zeppelin back.

John Minnerath

Double amputee Dana Bowman, formerly of the US Army Golden Knights coming in at an annual Green Beret Foundation fund raising event held at the Grizzly Rock Ranch a couple miles from my place.
I don't know if photographs will show here.


Can anyone here vouch for the book "British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas 1940-1945?" It is supposed to be a reprint of a once-secret official history.


The anomalous ones (a.k.a. the "freaks")...


Gentlemen, I can't name ANY of 'em.

Can you?


Game Review of Chess

The latest offering in the rapidly overflowing strategy genre is hard evidence that strategy games need a real overhaul, and fast. Chess, a small-scale tactical turn-based strategy game, attempts to adopt the age-old "easy to learn, difficult to master" parameter made popular by Tetris. But the game's cumbersome play mechanics and superficial depth and detail all add up to a game that won't keep you busy for long.

Chess casts you as king of a small country at war with a rival country of equivalent military power. There is little background story to speak of, and by and large the units in the game are utterly lacking any character whatsoever. The faceless, nondescript units are dubbed arbitrarily such labels as "Knight" and "Bishop" while their appearance reveals nothing to suggest these roles. To make matters worse, the units on both playable sides are entirely identical aside from a simple color palette swap.

The setting of the conflict is equally uninspiring and consists merely of a two-color grid so as to represent the two warring factions. Adding insult to injury, there is only one available map - and it's pathetically small, an 8x8 matrix (Red Alert maps are up to 128x128 in size). The lack of more expansive battlefields makes Chess feel like little more than an over-glorified Minesweeper.

In a definite nod to Tetris, Chess eschews any kind of personality and styling in order to emphasize its supposedly addictive gameplay. Unfortunately, that gameplay is severely lacking. For one thing, there are only six units in the game. Of those six, two are practically worthless while one is an overpowered "god" unit, the Queen. She's your typical Lara Croft-esque 1990s "me, too" attempt to attract the fabled gaming girl audience from out of the woodwork to help solidify a customer base for a game that simply cannot sell itself on its own merits. The Queen can attack in any direction and she is balanced solely by the fact that both sides are equally equipped with only one. Otherwise, the functions of the six Chess units feel entirely arbitrary. For instance, Rooks can only move in horizontal lines, unable to attack enemies at diagonal angles; yet Bishops can move diagonally, but not horizontally.

The result is a frustratingly unrealistic effort at creating balance and strategy where there is, in fact, very little of either element to be found. Inexplicable pathing problems also plague Chess - the irritating Pawns can only move straight ahead, but for some reason or other they attack diagonally. Worst of all, your units are always deployed in exactly the same fashion. While there might have been some strategic element involved in cleverly deploying one's troops around the undeniably constricted map, the designers saw fit to enforce a "rule" about how the game should be set up. In the end, Chess matches may often go on for a great length of time because your Pawns always begin in front of your more useful forces, thereby blocking them off.

Only two players can compete simultaneously, thus severely limiting any play life to be found. There is only one gameplay mode - no capture the flag or team play - and that involves the two players taking turns moving their units one by one. The moment a player's King is threatened, that player is placed in a state of "check." At this point, the player must defend his King with whatever means are available. If he cannot defend his King, he is defeated. Yawn. All units are killed by a single hit, so even a lowly Pawn can be instrumental in defeating an opponent if you plan accordingly. While the artificial balance of forcing equivalent deployment for both sides turns Chess into something of a battle of wits, the turn-based play is poorly paced and never really picks up speed until halfway through a game, if then. And half the time, because of the limited troops available (and no resources with which to purchase more), matches end in disappointing stalemates.

This game attempts to accredit itself by virtue of its tactical play mechanics. Yet those mechanics are tedious and difficult to grasp and exacerbate Chess's other numerous failings. In fact, should you actually memorize all the infuriating little rules governing how the game is played, you'll find yourself growing weary of it all in short order. There's just no payoff to a properly executed game, because the restrictions on the units mean there's a "right" way to play. Thus no real variety can exist between competent players. The sluggish turn-based nature of Chess bogs the package still further and renders this strategy game an irreverent exercise in wasted time for all but the most die-hard turn-based strategy enthusiasts. It's more than likely that Chess, due to its self-conscious though not entirely elegant simplicity, will garner a small handful of fans. But in light of this game's boundless oversights and limitations, there is no chance it could ever enjoy the sort of success that makes games like Westwood's C&C: Red Alert and Blizzard's Warcraft II the classics they are to this day.


I thought Bush-Cheney established that. Obama coulda/shoulda fixed that, but he didn't.

The Twisted Genius

I know the Special Forces Foundation, but I was unaware of the Green Beret Foundation. Looks like it was quite the event. Saw your other photos, too. Wheel guns and wooden stocks... I appreciate the artistry of the older weaponry. What's the background on that tomahawk? The "Minnerath Observatory" is also pretty impressive.

The Twisted Genius

Recognized a few. That big wheeled landing craft is a BARC or LARC. I saw some of those behemoths at Fort Story in the 70's. The Ontos is a tracked vehicle armed with six 106mm recoiless rifles. The Marines used them in Viet Nam. I also saw an eight wheeled Panhard armored car. The French used it in the 50s and60s.

John Minnerath

:) I thought I was making links to just 2 photos, I suppose I hit the wrong keys, again.

The "tomahawk" was a mystery for several years. My Dad found it at some flea market and used it in his silver smithing for years. Then a friend who collects pre-revolutionary war militaria got interested in it. He made the handle, saying if it was a real "hawk" that was the sort of handle it would have had. It was finally identified as an ancient "lathing" hatchet by some unknown maker.

The GB Foundation is fairly new, a non-profit geared towards support for wounded and injured Special Forces people who are having trouble getting aid through the more established organizations. They have a web site. This was the 3rd year Brian has held this event on his place. Pistol and long range rifle competitions are going on today, but my eyes haven't recovered enough yet for any serious shooting.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed that hodge podge of photos I have on that thing.

Babak Makkinejad

The interesting thing is that the number of board games that seemed to have been able to engage human beings is so small over the last 5000 years:

- The Ancient Egyptian Game Senet (no one knows how to play it)
- Chess
- Chinese Chess
- Backgammon
- Go
- Checkers
- Mancala

No board game with global appeal has been created for 2000 years - I think.

And there is not theory of constructing games - their construction is an art with no discernible rules, it seems.

joe brand

Angelo Codevilla on "manipulating the US intelligence community":


The Twisted Genius

joe brand,

I was thinking this whole "chatter" thing looks more like a well crafted deception operation. We keep saying that al Qaeda is morphing and learning, but we can't fathom the idea of our enemy targeting our reliance on SIGINT to make us flinch globally. The chatter was conveniently loud enough for us to react, but ambiguous enough to indicate a potential attack over the next week in 15 or more countries. With our national security apparatus on the defensive due to the Snowden revelations, it was eager to hype a credible terrorist threat to prove its continued relevance to a skeptical public. "Smiley's People" we are not.


TTG and Joe Brand

I doubt that this is a deliberate deception operation on the part of the jihadis. I think it more likely the Susan Rice et all have created a fire storm of hysteria at the possibility that there could be another attack that might make her look bad in her new job. The congressional war party (Peter King, Graham, Rogers at the HPSCI, etc) have fanned the flames based on opportunities presented by briefers who know what they must convey in order to survive in their jobs. Given that "bait" the 24/7 media have an issue with which to pursue rating for a few days. In other words I think the whole thing is BS. Is the IC complicit? Certainly but I don't think they started this. The leadership of the agencies remains weak and dominated by personal interest and ambition. pl

The Twisted Genius

More like a deliberate deception operation executed by our own politicians then. I'm sure there's enough chatter out there to hype a threat whenever it's convenient. It is more likely, more disheartening and more to be expected from our politicians. I do notice that the usual congressional critics of the administration's foreign policy are cheering these actions.



We should put up a post on "Embassygate." Want to have a shot at it? pl

John Minnerath

I'm glad I'm not the only one here who thinks there is just too much hype to all this.

The Twisted Genius


I'll give it a shot tonight. Have to mow the lawn first.



I came across this on Alternet today, and then went to the original post, here


At the risk of being branded a collaborationist stooge, this seems not credible to me. From the FBI agent checking his clipboard, to the nature of the searches that resulted in the visit, and I suppose I could be wrong, but it just reads like a tale to me.

I remember the old Azzam publishing "Jihad in Chechnya" website back in the <9/11 days, and how it and its ilk disappeared shortly thereafter...I've done some dodgy google searches, although to be fair, none with the how-to overtones of the story, and never yet gotten the SUVs and guys in bad suits at the door. So far. Today. Heheh, I recall making atheistic trouble on an English language jihadi message board whose name escapes me. That was awesome.

I am further thinking that some of us here besides me have done the odd dodgy google. The interests that led us here in the first place might lead to such things. Anybody here been visited?

Does this sound credible?

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