Quotulatiousness

April 10, 2014

Former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:38

The former federal finance minister and MP for Whitby-Oshawa (my riding) is reported to have died earlier today:


Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister, smiles while speaking during a press conference after releasing the 2014 Federal Budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Flaherty ramped up efforts to return the country to surplus in a budget that raises taxes on cigarettes and cuts benefits to retired government workers while providing more aid for carmakers. Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died. He was 64.

Emergency crews were called to his Ottawa home Thursday afternoon. The cause of death has not been released.

He was one of the longest serving finance ministers Canada has ever had and until he left politics, was the only one to ever serve under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He stepped down on March 18.

A Conservative MP for the Toronto-area riding of Whitby-Oshawa, Flahery was first elected in 2006.

Flaherty has suffered over the last year from a rare and painful but treatable skin disorder. In his statement, Flaherty said his health did not play a part in his decision to quit politics.

My deepest condolences to his wife Christine Elliot, and their sons John, Galen, and Quinn (Galen and Quinn were players on soccer teams I coached a decade or so back).

March 14, 2014

Iain Martin on the three phases of Tony Benn’s political career

Filed under: Britain, History, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:12

The death of Tony Benn was announced this morning, and the Telegraph‘s Iain Martin says that Benn’s political trajectory had three distinct phases:

The BBC‘s James Landale described it well this morning only minutes after the death of Tony Benn was announced. There were, he told the Today programme, three phases of Tony Benn the public figure. That is right, and in the second phase Benn almost destroyed the Labour Party. His death — or his reinvention as a national treasure from the late 1980s onwards — doesn’t alter that reality.

In the 1950s and 1960s Benn was part of Labour’s supposed wave of the future, serving in Wilson’s governments and embodying the technocratic approach that was going to forge a modern Britain in the “white heat of technology”. It didn’t work out like that.

[...]

But it is when Labour found itself out of power in 1979 that Benn the socialist preacher applied his considerable talents — his gift for public speaking and the denunciation of rivals — to trying to turn Labour, one of Britain’s two great parties that dominated the 20th century, from being a broad church into a party that stood only for his, by then, very dangerous brand of Left-wing extremism. In the wars of that period against Labour’s Right-wing and soft centre he did not operate alone, but he was the figurehead of a Bennite movement that created the conditions in which the SDP breakaway became necessary, splitting the Left and giving Margaret Thatcher an enormous advantage to the joy of Tories. When Labour crashed to defeat in 1983, Benn even said that the result was a good start because millions of voters had voted for an authentically socialist manifesto, which would have taken Britain back to the stone age if implemented.

From there, after a bitter interlude and a sulk, Benn began his final and, this time, wonderful transformation, during which he was elevated to the ranks of national treasure — a pipe-smoking man of letters, like a great National Trust property crossed with George Orwell. As with many journalists of my generation, I encountered him one on one only in that third phase, and found him, as many others did, a deeply courteous, amusing and interesting man. It was his defence of the Commons, against the Executive, that I liked, and when he spoke on such themes it was possible to imagine him at Cromwell’s elbow in the English Civil War, or printing off radical pamphlets before falling out with the parliamentary leadership after the King had had his head cut off.

March 4, 2014

“Comedy turned inward and became domesticated [and] smaller”

Filed under: Humour, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:41

In the New York Post, Kyle Smith discusses the comedians of the 1970s and their modern day successors:

As Chevy Chase might have put it on Saturday Night Live, Harold Ramis is still dead. And with him has gone the finest era of comedy: The ’70s kind.

Ramis was as close to the king of comedy as it gets, as a writer, director and occasional sidekick for Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Back to School, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Groundhog Day.

[...]

Taking off with the movie M*A*S*H in 1970 — a huge hit that grossed $450 million in today’s dollars — and its spinoff sitcom, ’70s comedy ruled from an anti-throne of contempt for authority in all shapes. College deans, student body presidents, Army sergeants and officers, country-club swells, snooty professors and the EPA: Anyone who made it his life’s work to lord it over others got taken down with wit.

When the smoke bombs cleared and the anarchy died, comedy turned inward and became domesticated. It also became smaller.

The Cosby Show and Jerry Seinfeld didn’t seek to ridicule those in power. Instead they gave us comfy couch comedy — riffs on family and etiquette and people’s odd little habits.

Now, in the Judd Apatow era, comedy is increasingly marked by two worrying trends: One is a knee-jerk belief, held even by many of the most brilliant comedy writers, that coming up with the biggest, most outlandish gross-out gags is their highest calling.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle for the link.

December 11, 2013

The media and the Mandela funeral

Filed under: Africa, Britain, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:29

In the Guardian Simon Jenkins discusses the way the media covered Nelson Mandela’s funeral:

Enough is enough. The publicity for the death and funeral of Nelson Mandela has become absurd. Mandela was an African political leader with qualities that were apt at a crucial juncture in his nation’s affairs. That was all and that was enough. Yet his reputation has fallen among thieves and cynics. Hijacked by politicians and celebrities from Barack Obama to Naomi Campbell and Sepp Blatter, he has had to be deified so as to dust others with his glory. In the process he has become dehumanised. We hear much of the banality of evil. Sometimes we should note the banality of goodness.

Part of this is due to the media’s crude mechanics. Millions of dollars have been lavished on preparing for Mandela’s death. Staff have been deployed, hotels booked, huts rented in Transkei villages. Hospitals could have been built for what must have been spent. All media have gone mad. Last week I caught a BBC presenter, groaning with tedium, asking a guest to compare Mandela with Jesus. The corporation has reportedly received more than a thousand complaints about excessive coverage. Is it now preparing for a resurrection?

More serious is the obligation that the cult of the media-event should owe to history. There is no argument that in the 1980s Mandela was “a necessary icon” not just for South Africans but for the world in general. In what was wrongly presented as the last great act of imperial retreat, white men were caricatured as bad and black men good. The arrival of a gentlemanly black leader, even a former terrorist, well cast for beatification was a godsend.

[...]

Mandela was crucial to De Klerk’s task. He was an African aristocrat, articulate of his people’s aspirations, a reconciler and forgiver of past evils. Mandela seemed to embody the crossing of the racial divide, thus enabling De Klerk’s near impossible task. White South Africans would swear he was the only black leader who made them feel safe — with nervous glances at Desmond Tutu and others.

South Africa in the early 90s was no postcolonial retreat. It was a bargain between one set of tribes and another. For all the cruelties of the armed struggle, it was astonishingly sparing of blood. This was no Pakistan, no Sri Lanka, no Congo. The rise of majority rule in South Africa was one of the noblest moments in African history. The resulting Nobel peace prize was rightly shared between Mandela and De Klerk, a sharing that has been ignored by almost all the past week’s obituaries. There were two good men in Cape Town in 1990.

December 8, 2013

Mandela’s struggle was not the same as Gandhi’s

Filed under: Africa, History, India, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:09

Salil Tripathi met Nelson Mandela and finds the frequent comparisons between Gandhi and Mandela to do less than justice to both men:

The South African freedom struggle was different from India’s, and the paths Mandela and Gandhi took were also different. That did not prevent many from comparing him with Gandhi. But the two were different; both made political choices appropriate to their time and the context in which they lived.

Gandhi’s life and struggle were political, but securing political freedom was the means to another end, spiritual salvation and moral advancement of India. Mandela was guided by a strong ethical core, and he was deeply committed to political change. At India’s independence, Gandhi wanted the Congress Party to be dissolved, and its members to dedicate themselves to serve the poor. But the Congress had other ideas. Mandela would not have wanted to dissolve his organization; he wanted to bring about the transformation South Africa needed, but he also wanted to heal his beloved country.

This is not to suggest that Gandhi wasn’t political. He was shrewd and he devised strategies to seek the moral high ground against his opponents — and among the British he found a colonial power susceptible to such pressures, because Britain had a domestic constituency which found colonialism repugnant, contrary to its values.

Mandela’s point was that he didn’t have the luxury of fighting the British — he was dealing with the National Party, with its Afrikaans base, which believed in a fight to finish, seeking inspiration from the teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church which established a hierarchy of different races, which led to the establishment of apartheid. “One kaffir one bullet,” said the Boer (the Afrikaans word for farmer, which many Afrikaans-speaking South Africans were); “One settler one bullet,” replied Umkhonto weSizwe, the militant arm of the ANC.

And yet Mandela’s lasting gift was his power of forgiveness and lack of bitterness. He showed exceptional humanity and magnanimity when he left his bitterness behind, on the hard, white limestone rocks of Robben Island that he was forced to break for years, the harsh reflected glare of those rocks causing permanent damage to his eyes. And yet, he came out, his fist raised, smiling, and he wrote in his memoir, Long Walk To Freedom, that unless he left his bitterness and hatred behind, “I would still be in prison.”

By refusing to seek revenge, by accepting the white South African as his brother, by agreeing to build a nation with people who wanted to see him dead, Mandela rose to a stature that is almost unparalleled.

[...]

Calling Mandela the Gandhi of our times does no favour to either. Gandhi probably anticipated the compromises he would have to make, which is why he shunned political office. Mandela estimated, correctly, that following the Gandhian path of non-violent resistance against the apartheid regime was going to be futile, since the apartheid regime did not play by any rules, except those it kept creating to deepen the divide between people.

H/T to Shikha Dalmia for the link.

December 6, 2013

QotD: Why Mandela was different

Filed under: Africa, History, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:42

Within moments of the announcement that the great man had passed away, left-wingers on twitter gleefully started posting quotes from Reagan-era conservatives about Mandela. At the time, most right-wingers’ opinions of Mandela — with one notable exception — ranged from skepticism to outright hostility. (This William H. Buckley column from 1990, which compares the recently-released Mandela to Lenin, was not atypical.)

Support for apartheid was never justifiable, but when that racist system was in its death throes, it was hardly unreasonable to worry about what might come next. Many political prisoners and “freedom fighters” have eventually come to power in their countries, only to become exactly what they once fought against — or worse. (One of the most infuriating examples is just over the South African border, where the once-promising Robert Mugabe has driven Zimbabwe into the abyss.)

The young Mandela was a revolutionary, and after spending his entire life as a second-class citizen, and 27 years behind bars, any bitterness on his part would have been understandable.

Instead, he chose an unprecedented path of reconciliation:

[...]

The real measure of one’s greatness comes when that person achieves power. And by that standard, Mandela was one of the greatest of them all. May he rest in peace.

Damian Penny, “Why Mandela was different”, DamianPenny.com, 2013-12-06

May 21, 2013

Ray Manzarek, RIP

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:34

Musician Ray Manzarek, co-founder of The Doors is dead at 74:

Ray Manzarek, who as the keyboardist and a songwriter for the Doors helped shape one of the indelible bands of the psychedelic era, died on Monday at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany. He was 74.

The cause was bile duct cancer, according to his manager, Tom Vitorino. Mr. Manzarek lived in Napa, Calif.

Mr. Manzarek founded the Doors in 1965 with the singer and lyricist Jim Morrison, whom he would describe decades later as “the personification of the Dionysian impulse each of us has inside.” They would go on to recruit the drummer John Densmore and the guitarist Robby Krieger.

Mr. Manzarek played a crucial role in creating music that was hugely popular and widely imitated, selling tens of millions of albums. It was a lean, transparent sound that could be swinging, haunted, meditative, suspenseful or circuslike. The Doors’ songs were generally credited to the entire group. Long after the death of Mr. Morrison in 1971, the music of the Doors remained synonymous with the darker, more primal impulses unleashed by psychedelia. In his 1998 autobiography, “Light My Fire,” Mr. Manzarek wrote: “We knew what the people wanted: the same thing the Doors wanted. Freedom.”

May 20, 2013

Neil Reynolds, RIP

Filed under: Cancon, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:25

Although he was much better known for his career in journalism, I first got to know Neil Reynolds when he joined the Libertarian Party of Canada to contest the 1982 by-election in Leeds-Grenville. Here is his obituary from the Kingston Whig-Standard:

Neil Reynolds is being remembered Sunday night as one of the top editors in Canadian newspaper history, and for being the person responsible for turning the Whig-Standard into a great small-city daily that won national awards and international recognition.

Reynolds died on Sunday in Ottawa. He was 72.

“He was the great editor of Canada from the mid-’70s to the early-2000s because of his ability to improve papers,” said Harvey Schachter, who became editor of the Whig after Reynolds’ departure in 1992.

Reynolds had been city editor of the Toronto Star in 1974 when he suddenly left to return to Kingston and take on an editing job with the Whig-Standard. By 1978 he was planning to move on when publisher and Whig owner Michael Davies offered him the top newsroom job.

Reynolds promptly hired Schachter, Michael Cobden and Norris McDonald to fill out the editors’ ranks.

“The Whig was really the start,” said Schachter. “Why the Whig stood out is he took it from a pretty mundane paper to being the top small-town paper in North America.”

Reynolds’ political career didn’t last long, as he joined the LPC in 1982, held the party leadership for a year, then returned to full-time journalism. His Wikipedia page says that his 13.4% of the vote in that by-election was the highest percentage of the vote achieved by an LPC candidate.

May 15, 2013

Google UK marks the 150th birthday of Frank Hornby

Filed under: Britain, Business, History, Railways — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:09

If you go to https://www.google.co.uk/ today, you’ll see the Google doodle has a distinct toy train motif:

Google UK doodle for Frank Hornby

At The Independent, Matilda Battersby tells the story:

The search engine Google is celebrating the 150th birthday of visionary toy maker Frank Hornby, whose model railways, Meccano sets and Dinky toys are still being played with by children today.

Born in Liverpool on 15 May 1863, Hornby was behind three of the most popular toy lines of the 20th century despite having no formal engineering training.

[. . .]

Meccano’s turnover for the 1910 financial year was £12,000. His son Roland joined the business, and when the operation began exporting to Europe, he opened Meccano France Ltd in Paris. Two offices in Germany soon followed.

Having dabbled in politics in later life, Hornby died of a heart condition and diabetes in Maghull, near Liverpool, on 21 September 1936. Two years previously he had set up Dinky Toys to manufacture miniature model cars and trucks.

In 1938 his son Roland launched the Hornby Dublo model railway system — a posthumous honour to his father.

Enthusiasts around the world still collect Hornby train sets, Dinky Toys and Meccano models. The modern business also make Scalextric cars and Airfix kits.

H/T to Roger Henry for the link.

May 14, 2013

Peter Worthington’s final column

Filed under: Cancon, History, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:00

It was suggested that Peter Worthington write his own obituary:

If you are reading this, I am dead.

How’s that for a lead?

Guarantees you read on, at least for a bit.

When the Sun’s George Gross died suddenly in March 2008, at age 85, there were few of his contemporaries left alive to recall the old days, when he was in his prime and his world was young. I was one of the few who knew him then.

After attending his funeral I half-facetiously remarked to the Toronto Sun’s deputy managing editor, Al Parker, that I had been around so long that no one was left who knew me back then, and I had better write my own obituary.

“Good idea!” said Parker with more enthusiasm than I appreciated.

I mentioned it to my wife, Yvonne, who approved.

So here it is, not exactly an obit but a reflection back on a life and a career that I had never planned, but which unfolded in a way that I’ve never regretted.

May 13, 2013

Peter Worthington, RIP

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:36

680News reports on the death of Toronto newspaperman Peter Worthington yesterday:

Well-known journalist Peter Worthington, the founding editor of the Toronto Sun, has died. He was 86.

The Toronto Sun reported Worthington died Sunday night at Toronto General Hospital, where he had been admitted with a staph infection.

Worthington enlisted in the Canadian Navy when he was 17 and served in the Korean War before becoming a journalist.

As a former staff reporter at the Toronto Telegram, he covered the Vietnam War, and was in the Dallas courthouse parking garage in 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.

He also reported on conflicts in the Gaza Strip, the Portuguese Colonial War, the invasion of Netherlands’ New Guinea by Indonesia and was in the northeast frontier of India when Chinese forces invaded, the Sun reported.

After the Telegram folded in 1971, Worthington, J. Douglas Creighton and Don Hunt founded the Toronto Sun.

I met Peter Worthington in 1982 when he attempted to enter politics as a Progressive Conservative. After he was defeated for the PC nomination, he ran as an independent candidate in a lively but ultimately unsuccessful by-election campaign. In 1984, he secured the PC nomination, but lost at the polls (he joked with supporters after the election that it took real skill to lose in the middle of a PC landslide — Mulroney took 211 of the 282 seats in parliament in that election).

April 27, 2013

The last Beguine

Filed under: Europe, History, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:53

An obituary (and short history lesson) in The Economist:

AT THE heart of several cities in Belgium lies an unexpected treasure. A gate in a high brick wall creaks open, to reveal a cluster of small, whitewashed, steep-roofed houses round a church. Cobbled alleyways run between them and tiny lawns, thickly planted with flowers, grow in front of them. The cosiness, the neatness and the quiet suggest a hortus conclusus, a medieval metaphor both for virginal women and the walled garden of paradise.

Any veiled women seen there now, however, processing to Mass or tying up hollyhocks in their dark habits and white wimples, are ghosts. Marcella Pattyn was the last of them, ending a way of life that had endured for 800 years.

These places were not convents, but beguinages, and the women in them were not nuns, but Beguines. In these communities, which sprang up spontaneously in and around the cities of the Low Countries from the early 13th century, women led lives of prayer, chastity and service, but were not bound by vows. They could leave; they made their own rules, without male guidance; they were encouraged to study and read, and they were expected to earn their keep by working, especially in the booming cloth trade. They existed somewhere between the world and the cloister, in a state of autonomy which was highly unusual for medieval women and highly disturbing to medieval men.

Nor, to be honest, was it the first thing Juffrouw Marcella thought of when, as a girl, she realised that her dearest wish was to serve her Lord. But she was blind, or almost so, and no other community would accept her. She wanted to work, too, and was not sure she could in an ordinary convent. The beguinages had originally been famous for taking the “spare” or “surplus” women who crowded into 13th-century cities in search of jobs. Even so, the first community she tried sent her back after a week, unable to find a use for her. (In old age she still wept at the thought of all the rejections, dabbing with a handkerchief at her blue unseeing eyes.) A rich aunt intervened with a donation to keep her there, and from the age of 21 she was a Beguine.

April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, RIP

Filed under: Britain, History, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:02

The Iron Lady is dead. Her place in 20th century British history as the first female PM and the victor in the 1982 Falklands War is counterbalanced for many people by her battling, confrontational style and her attempts to dismantle large parts of the postwar welfare state. Here is the initial BBC report:

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died “peacefully” at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, her family has announced.

David Cameron called her a “great Briton” and the Queen spoke of her sadness at the death.

Lady Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She was the first woman to hold the role.

She will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

The ceremony, with full military honours, will take place at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

The union jack above Number 10 Downing Street has been lowered to half-mast.

[. . .]

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair called her a “towering figure”, while his successor Gordon Brown praised her “determination and resilience”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Lady Thatcher had been a “unique figure” who “reshaped the politics of a whole generation”.

He added: “The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described Lady Thatcher as one of the “defining figures in modern British politics”, adding: “She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson tweeted: “Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher. Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics.”

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called Lady Thatcher a “great inspiration”, adding: “Whether you loved her or hated her nobody could deny that she was a great patriot, who believed passionately in this country and her people. A towering figure in recent British and political history has passed from the stage. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Lady Thatcher, who retired from public speaking in 2002, had suffered poor health for several years. Her husband Denis died in 2003.

(more…)

March 31, 2013

Ralph Klein, RIP

Filed under: Cancon, History, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:47

In Maclean’s, Colby Cosh talks about the late former premier of Alberta:

Ralph Klein, the former premier of Alberta, has died at 70. He shall not now ever be able to collect on the vast debt of apologies he is owed by calumniators, false chroniclers, lazy pundits, and political enemies. The misunderstandings of Ralph have been copious and mostly deliberate. He is still routinely characterized as an anti-gay social conservative in league with sinister theocratic forces, even though he was personally about as churchy as an alley cat. More importantly, he took a diamond-hard line against the use of the “notwithstanding” clause after the Supreme Court wrote sexual orientation into Alberta’s discrimination law in the Vriend decision; and he insisted the public accept the court’s verdict.

He is accused of failing to maximize the public benefits of Alberta’s resource wealth and “save” oil and gas funds for the future, although government resource revenues grew more than fourfold in his 14 years as premier and the net financial position of the province improved by $43 billion. Both promptly collapsed under his bamboozled successor Ed Stelmach, and have not yet recovered to Ralphian levels. Klein is also charged with failing to pay enough conscious attention to economic diversification, a concept that served as the pretext for a hundred costly boondoggles under earlier Conservative regimes; yet somehow he succeeded in presiding over an Alberta economy whose GDP moved sharply away from energy-dependence, and which saw the emergence of previously unimaginable non-energy businesses like software maker Matrikon and game manufacturer BioWare. Whether or not you care to give an iota of credit to Klein, his rule coincided with Alberta becoming a place young technicians and entrepreneurs don’t have to be stupid not to leave.

[. . .]

There is a basic failure among diehard enemies of the Klein government to accept the evidence that his energy, privatization, and flat-tax policies increased the Alberta government’s capacity to spend and provide services — that the more we got of Klein, the safer and more lavish their cherished government entitlements appeared to be. They are not at all safe now; the profoundest irony of Klein’s demise is that it has arrived at a moment in which present premier Alison Redford faces choices like those Klein confronted when he captured the Progressive Conservative leadership in 1992.

Indeed, when Redford’s heavily obfuscated budget plans are translated into English, one sees that the next few years in Alberta must inevitably resemble the early days of Kleinism. Premier Redford is trying to protect spending on infrastructure to prevent a “deficit” in upkeep on buildings and transport, of the sort that materialized after Klein’s initial austerities. But operational spending, particularly on personnel expenses, is bound to be slashed, Klein-fashion. And the slashes will have to be all the deeper if the bridges are going to get painted. A fierce fight with the public sector (whose unfunded pension liabilities grew 80% between Klein’s last budget and Stelmach’s second) is already taking shape, with teachers, doctors, and pharmacists on the verge of all-out war over their pay envelopes. Haven’t the Klein-haters who fell over themselves to vote for internationalist, socially concerned Alison seen this movie before?

February 27, 2013

RIP Allan B. Calhamer

Filed under: Gaming, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:33

The creator of the game Diplomacy died this week:

I was a big fan of the game for many years, even publishing a play-by-mail “zine”, as I mentioned a couple of months back:

Long ago, in the days before personal computers were ubiquitous, there were “zines” (short for magazines, correctly reflecting both non-professional status and less-than-totally-serious content). There was a wide variety of zines for all sorts of interests — rather like the back corners of the internet today, except they were physically distributed using the post office (and therefore had to stay within certain boundaries to be safe). Clive and I used to publish a zine for postal Diplomacy:

Infidel 11 cover
Download PDF
Infidel 12 cover
Download PDF

Update: Should have included a hat-tip to John Kovalic, who linked to a highly appropriate Dork Tower strip from last year.

Update, the second: The Chicago Sun-Times obituary:

To people in La Grange Park, Allan B. Calhamer was the guy who delivered the mail.

But to those who have played Diplomacy — the popular board game he invented while a law student at Harvard — Mr. Calhamer, who died Monday, was a geek god.

Back in the Fortran era, the game was a sort of board-game version of TV’s Survivor set in pre-World War I Europe, with its shifting alliances, deception and back-stabbing.

[. . .]

In an article he wrote for diplomacy-archive.com, Mr. Calhamer said the game can “make some people almost euphoric and causes others to shake like a leaf.”

“It’s pitiless because, in the game Diplomacy, there will be one winner,” said game designer Steve Jackson, founder of Steve Jackson Games. “You negotiate, you make deals, you lie.”

Game experts and industry analysts say “Dip” influenced generations of designers.

More than 50 years after Mr. Calhamer invented it, enthusiasts still engage in Diplomacy all-nighters, their long stretches of quiet strategizing punctuated by occasional shouts like: “You gave me your word you would attack Berlin!” And: “My own mother took part of Russia from me!” That’s according to chatter on boardgamegeek.com.

The game is jokingly referred to as a pastime that has been “Destroying Friendships since 1959,” said Mike Webb, vice president of marketing and data services for Alliance Game Distributors.

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