Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mid-winter brooding

Marvelous stained glass window fronting the Mennonite Church on SE 35th  ( I just love those Mennonites!)

Drowning man, kick upward once more!  Defy mid-winter despair!  Laugh!  Laugh, as Éomer laughed on the fields of Pelennor when he beheld what he thought to be the bloodied corpses of sister and father-uncle.  His grief and wrath drove him on, after that.  "Weep not over much," said he to his men, weeping as he spoke.

So, to thee, green-eyed, ever-grudging comrade, stingy with thy respect, thy courtesy --to thee, Dark Lord, with thy many minions, mistaking the blight thou spreadeth among the people to be thy will, thy doing --to thee hopeless, sneering cynic who will not believe in the goodness of brethren because of what it may reveal about thyself --and to thee, piteous, aggrieved self, more Ahab than Quixote --I ask:  What is purchased with these afflictions?

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, SE Harrison Street

Detachment is no defense.  I know well enough that people demand emotion, are exquisitely conditioned to elicit such, should it not be readily forth-coming.  I find there is more danger than reward in isolation.

Nor can one forever wield the poisoned weapons of ridicule and scorn.  They are demon-forged blades that drain the soul of the champion.  

But the drowning man will grasp at whatever may come to his flailing hand.

 Sunnyside Cententary United Church, SE 35th and Yamhill

Spring still will come.  And then, won't we feel foolish? 

(Play us out, lads.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leave it for tomorrow

Now, these thoughts come rushing, tumbling;  how they come along!
Unveil appalling shadows from a past;
All these things we're naked to, that taunt us in our sleep,
Gather on the stage, assembled cast;

Of all the yellow'd mem'ries which I hold here in my mind
Recall a wicked ev'ning in November:
A pistol shot! A wailing child, a panicked flight to darkness;
Two score years thence, I shudder to remember;

But what name would you give me if I danced a merry jig,
In brazen bid for raucous adulation?
Never has a songstress sung my praises to a king;
Please mock me not for self-infatuation;

My love, how can I soldier on?  What wellspring can I tap?
To cleanse my shame?  To help me conquer sorrow?
And she:  "But this is life, my love, no recourse more than this:
'Tis best that you should leave it for tomorrow."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oregon passes 66 and 67

One small victory in the battle against the plutocracy!

Measures 66 and 67 were approved by voters yesterday by comfortable margins.  Currently the tally has them each passing by approximately 5-7%.  This is good news and seems to buck the supposed national trend that Republicans have been trumpeting as "a rejection of big government" ever since voters rejected the Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts senate race.

(Personally, I think Republicans are overplaying their victory in Massachusetts.  They always do.  But let them imagine that the national electorate is longing for a return to the dark days of the Bush administration.  They'll fall flat on their faces, which is something else they always manage to do.)

So, fresh on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that seemed to affirm corporate oligarchy, Oregonians send out a dissenting opinion with this election.  Corporations may control Washington, DC, and their power may be growing, but here in Oregon we're not quite ready to lay down for them.

As a result of these two measures passing, corporations and high-income individuals will now be compelled to contribute more to state coffers to help fund many services, chief among them being public education.

This victory, while significant and important for the state, is only a small skirmish in the larger battle to restore our republic.  Wouldn't it be nice if this was the opening salvo in a resurgence of populism?  A reassertion of the rights of people, actual human beings, over neo-feudal corporations?  Referendums like this one are one of the few methods that we, the people, have for fighting back.  It is foolhardy to imagine that Democrats or Republicans or even the now-tarnished President Obama will do anything for us.  All of them bow down before their corporate masters, as we have seen with the Wall Street bailouts (which seem to be the only congressional actions capable of mustering bipartisan support).

Chris Hedges, the author of American Fascism, wrote an article the other day, entitled Democracy in America is a Useful Fiction, that bemoans the death of our republic. It's a tough read:  not for the faint at heart.  He makes a compelling case that national elections are meaningless charades; that they are diversions, like voting for your favorite contestant on American Idol. 

The two parties stir up animosity between the various demographics of this country, knowing that if we are divided about so-called "social issues" like abortion, immigration, and gay rights, we are unlikely to unify in opposition to the plundering of our national treasury by corporations and obscenely-wealthy financiers.

I guess we Oregonians are slow to get the message.  Or maybe just slow to give up hope.  Or maybe we're ready to lead the charge away from plutocracy.  Frame it however you like.  It may be a fool's errand to even imagine that we can reverse the corporate takeover of our democracy.  But, in that case, I accept the label of "fool" willingly.

Measures 66 and 67 passed!  Savor this small victory and move on to the next battle.  We've got a long way to go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That dark, solemn figure

Last weekend, a friend to Maty and me lost her mother.  Although the woman had been in poor health for some time, her death was sudden and unexpected. It came even as our friend's grandmother, the mother of the deceased, is being prepared for her own final journey, which could come at any time. (Perhaps mercifully, our friend's grandmother is in such a state that none feel it necessary to inform her of her daughter's passing.  They will soon meet on the other side.)  The death is all the more tragic when we remember that in the spring of last year, our friend's father passed after a long battle with cancer.

This is a sorrowful time for our friend, and we ache for her.  She has no siblings.  The family into which she was born is no more.

That our friend's mother passed so closely after her husband, our friend's father, reminded me that, often with elderly couples, when one spouse passes, the other is not far behind.

And so, that night, I told Maty, "When I go, I don't want you to follow me right away.  You're too young.  You need more life."

Said she:  "You never know.  I maybe go first."

"In that case," said I, "I hope I'm right behind you."

Only then did she see my tears.  She gave me a sad, reproachful look.  "Stop that," she said.

That dark, solemn friend is always with us, yes?  Much of the time, he waits in the distance:  a lonely figure on the periphery of our consciousness, never forgotten but often ignored.  At other times, he approaches and demands acknowledgment in his terrible way.  Sometimes his approach is slow and we see him coming; other times, we turn some corner in our daily lives, and he is there.

And even if we fear him, we also love him.  How can we not?  He is as much a part of us as are the pale pink clouds at sunrise, skirting the knees of unfathomable Hood.  Or the solemn, soul-rumbling throat of Pacifica, resting fitfully after storm.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Supreme Court ruling strips away pretensions of democracy

With the Supreme Court's ruling last week, banning limits on corporate spending in elections, the last pretensions of republic, of representative democracy in these United States are stripped away.  This wealth-obsessed and thoroughly corrupted nation is now an overt plutocracy.

With this ruling, the Court ruled that legal entities (by which it means "corporations") have the same right to free speech as do individual persons.  In effect, the Court makes no distinction between a living, breathing human and an international corporation.  So, the working man or woman struggling to feed, clothe, and educate his or her children is no different than the multi-billion dollar corporate entity.  Corporations are now free to install politicians to office that are inclined to relax corporate tax burdens or remove environmental regulations that might hinder corporate ability to extract resources from a pristine wilderness. 

But, don't worry!  Individual human beings are also free to promote candidates that will work for their interests.  So, neighbors, how shall we make our voices heard in future elections?  Shall we hold a bake sale?

The ruling was a five-to-four split, with the two Supremes appointed by Junior (another of his many rotten endowments) providing the margin.  "Honest" John Roberts and Sammy "I am not a bigot of any kind" Alito joined Tom-ass Clarence, Anthony Kennedy, and monstrous Nino Scalia to crank open the floodgate for corporate power.

Put aside any quaint notions of "one man, one vote."  The United States are ruled by corporations.  The welfare of people is secondary, and need be of concern only to the extent that they do not become restive.  No health care plan.  No green energy.  No relaxing of the financial death-grip.  Only the lash.

At the very least, "Honest" Johnny Roberts and the Supremes have had the grace to strip away the facade. Even in the face of the subversion of the people's wishes in the health care debate this last year, there was a propensity among some (and I admit, I was one of them) to yet believe that the righteous anger of the people counted for something in this country.  Fools, one and all!

Just as it was with what history terms "the Roman Republic," the allocation of political power in this nation became more and more concentrated in the hands of the wealthy.  Now, here we are.  Our republic is gone.  We are empire.

The US Congress, during the health care debate has already clearly demonstrated that it has no real interest in abasing itself by serving its purported constituency.  All that rhetoric about the hopes and dreams of the American people adds up to f*ck all when the "ins" (of both parties) consider those fat contribution checks.

President Obama's new-found populist passion also rings hollow.  His administration is as much composed of plutocrats and robber barons as was that of his predecessor.

This isn't about Democrats or Republicans.  This is about plutocrats.  They're all plutocrats.  We, the people, are in serious trouble.  There is no leader in the White House, the Congress, or the Court to champion our cause. 

What now?  Anybody got any ideas?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sometimes, it fires on all cylinders


What a day!  I tell ya, I was at the top of my game.  All day long.

First, my group of writers at work were convening in one of the meeting rooms at the office when another group looked in and protested that they had reserved the same room for the same time.  Indeed, that my group had intruded upon their territory!  (Trust me, in the cutthroat world of office politics, these things matter.)  "No," said our meeting facilitator.  "We have the room."

The leader of the other group shot us a dirty look and started to withdraw, shaking his head in disgust and irritation.  Says I, as he closes the door behind him, "Hey, buddy, take it up with somebody else."

My boss, seated nearby, shot me a glance and shook his finger at me.

I actively participated in our meeting, asking lots of questions.  (Maybe too many.)  But the aforementioned exchange, with its bad vibes, played on my mind the while.  The incident, as it stood, threatened to fall into a growing catalog of similar incidents, all symptoms of the anxiety people everywhere are feeling.

I kept an eye out the glass of the conference room to the lobby until the fellow with whom I had had the exchange appeared.  I excused myself from our meeting, caught up with the fellow, extended my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Dade.  I just wanted to apologize to you for being abrupt earlier."  He looked mildly taken aback as he shook my hand.  But there was something else, too.  For just an instant, I saw him reassess me, as if I had shattered some template to which he had previously assigned me.  He regarded me with a new-found respect.  Or it seemed so to me, anyway.  "No worries," he said.

I went back into my meeting to find that everyone was standing up to leave.  I approached my boss, slapped him on the shoulder, and said, "Hey, Boss, I just went and apologized to that guy."  Boss said, "Is that why you left our meeting?"  "Yeah," says I.  Boss nodded and looked a little relieved.  And again I saw the flash of respect.

Like I said:  top of my game.

When I got back to my desk, I had email from Mom.  It had arrived just minutes earlier.  It stated that she had had a bit of a health scare, but that we (her family) were not to worry.  I picked up the phone and dialed.  "Wow!  That was fast!" she said, upon hearing my voice.  She knew I would call, as would all of her children.  But I called first.

I walked down the hall to tell my friend and coworker about it since she and I sometimes talk with each other about our parents, but she was in no mood to prattle.  "What is it?" she said tersely the minute I appeared.  I was hurt at first, but then I saw that she looked very tired.  I asked her what was wrong and she told me that her newborn had not been sleeping well.  "I'm going on three hours sleep," she said, impatiently.  "Well," I said, "I'm really glad we're friends and I think you're a good person."  Her demeanor softened.  "Even when I'm mean?" she asked.  I gave her a smile and a pat on the hand and went back to my desk.

Top of my game.

Then, tonight, when I got home, Maty asked me to go down to Safeway and pick up a French bread.  They come out of the oven right at 5 o'clock at the Hawthorne store, so I set off at 4:45.  It's about a 15 minute walk.

The weather was beautiful.  Sunny.  Cool but not cold.  There was a drum circle outside the apothecary near the little Thai place.  They were beating out a nice solemn rhythm, pregnant with the hollow boom of a djembe. The beat soon set the tempo for my stride.

Got the French bread just as it came out of the oven.  Score!  Piping hot and fresh!

Paul, the grocery clerk, thanked me enthusiastically when I contributed a dollar to the Hatian relief fund.  "Why not?" I asked.  "Good as we got it here?  I can afford to hand out a buck here and there."

"Amen to that!" piped in Erika, the checker at the next stand over.

"Right on, Erika," says I.

"Right on," says Erika.

Just hittin' on all cylinders today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

ASL: Bustin' the Barrikady yet again (Pt. II)

Note to readers: This post won't make a lick of sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the Advanced Squad Leader game system.

My old friend and ASL nemesis, Dave Hauth, is back!  Fresh off our recent Red Barricades game, in which I finally seem to have found an effective counter for his "fortify the riverbank" strategy, Dave is ready to give it another go.  This time the game is RBCGIII:  the Barrikady, with yours truly in the role of General Von Paulus and Dave doing his best impression of grandfatherly Marshal Zhukov.  

For your vicarious ASL enjoyment, both players will once again maintain a blog correspondence as the game progresses with the agreement that neither will read his opponent's blog until given express permission to do so.  Dave and I have faced off in so many ASL campaigns and scenarios that a Gentleman's Game is both assumed and assured.

Readers are encouraged to comment!  Got a problem with where I placed my AT gun?  Speak your piece!  Just be sure not to inadvertently reveal any information about Dave's plan to me or vice-versa.  You can read Dave's blog here.  You can read my previous entry here.

Aftermath of Day 1

It is difficult to assess my success after Day 1.  I exceeded my goals for penetrating Russian territory, but the casualty ratio was not ideal.  Judge for yourself.

At the end of the day, the perimeter was as shown.

Perimeter for Day 2
I had a few bad breaks vis-a-vis my artillery early on.  My 80mm mortar module drew two consecutive red chits, making it unavailable.  And my 100mm artillery was largely ineffective.  I played it poorly.  I could never really find any targets with it.  At least the mortar module will be available for Day 2.

The casualty ratio is the least satisfactory result for the day.  The Russians suffered 28 CVP; the Germans 27 CVP.  That is a danger sign for the German commander, and no two ways about it.  However, it is somewhat mitigated by the fact that 18 of the CVP that the Germans suffered came from the loss of two tanks (12 CVP) and four leaders (8-1 x 2, 7-0 x 2).  My infantry losses were less than 2 platoons.  The Russians, on the other hand, suffered 24 CVP from infantry losses, plus 4 CVP for the two AT guns that I destroyed.  So the Russians lost nearly a full company and go into Day 2 with no AT guns.

I'm certainly glad I didn't make a stab for the river on Day 1.  As the perimeter map shows, Dave had dug-in platoons of T60s and KVs to guard against such a contingency.  Plus he had artillery trained on the area.  He still has his artillery module, which I suspect is 70mm.

Day 2 status and purchases

My retained forces from Day 1 are these:
  • 548 x 9.5
  • 468 x 8
  • 467 x 13.5
  • 237
  • 9-2 x 2, 9-1 x 2, 8-1, 7-0 x 2
  • HMG x 2, MMG x 3, LMG x 5, Atr x 2, Lt. Mtr. x 2, DC
  • PzKwIIIL (9-1 AL) 
  • PzKwIIIH x 3
  • 80mm Mtr. OBA, Offboard Obs. (Hex:  M1) (Pre-registered hexes: G11, M5)
Thirty-one and a half squads, and four tanks!  One can't reasonably ask for more than that. 

I am allotted 16 CPP for the day. My purchases are these:
  • Sturm Coy 9 CPP
    548 x 12
    9-1, 8-1, 7-0
    MMG, LMG x 2, DC x 2

  • Stukas (early entry) 2 CPP
    1-3 Stukas with bombs

  • StuG G Pltn (Depleted) 5 CPP
    StuG G x 2
I rolled boxcars for my StuG G Platoon: a depleted result! Sucky, in the extreme!  Ah, well.

My plan

I'm weighing three different options: 

Option #1:  Strike for the Power Plant.  I could make a grab for Building J21 in conjunction with a general southward thrust to expand the entry area for future campaign days.  Building J21 offers vantages all along the east-west equator of Arbalovskaya Boulevard.  If I can capture that building intact, I can effectively isolate the northern factories from any reinforcements that might come from the south.  This option, it seems to me is predictable, but poses few risks.  I think Dave will expect me to do some variation of this option, and will set up to defend against it.

Option #2:  Stab for the heart.  Specifically, Building O18.  If I were to successfully capture that building intact and extend my perimeter to include it, the entire northern factory complex and the P21 factory become untenable for the Russians, maybe even necessitating abandonment.  But the risks on this option are huge.  I'd have to fight through the factories against Militia troops that Dave would gladly sacrifice in exchange for Sturm troopers.  And my Stuka reinforcements wouldn't be much help against workers lurking in the factories.

Option #3:  Drive for the river!  The end of Campaign Day 1 revealed that Dave had setup a dastardly defense of the river, with dug-in tanks and pillboxes.  I'm very glad I didn't attack that way on Day 1.  But now that I know the lay of the land a bit more, I think it might be time to make the strike that I must at some point make.  I will have to pay the piper over there around Building Z1 eventually.  And the longer I wait, the higher the price I must pay.  My retained 80mm Mortar module can provide smoke cover, the Stukas can assist in suppressing the dug-in tanks.  I can hold off my Sturm reinforcements for the first turn, until the smoke gets laid down.  At the same time, I can crash into the O6 Factory from the west.  The risks here are considerable.  I'm putting my armor and all my assault troops at risk.  But the payoff could be big.

I want to see Dave's setup before I choose an option.  But right now, I favor Option #3.

And so it shall be...

And now, seeing Dave's setup, Option #3 it is.

Get to the river, lads!
It looks to me as if Dave has purchased three companies:  a militia company for the factories, a reserve rifle company, which he has set up to defend the approach to the river, and a reserve SMG company (probably elite) and fortifications to defend the Power Station.  Judging from his setup, it seems that Dave is expecting some variation of Option #1.  But I won't be pushing very hard in the west.  Now is the time to confront his network of dug-in tanks and pillboxes.

I've got a kill stack directed by a 9-2 leader in level 1 of hex N5 which will hinder any conscripts running back and forth between the factories.  But this kill stack can also shoot at those reserve counters up by the river.  Too bad for them!  The Russians up there will have to deal not only with the kill stack, but with my entering Sturm troops, the StuG Gs, the 80mm Mortar from Day 1, and the Stukas.  I'm throwing the kitchen sink at Building Z1.  Let's see what happens...

Meanwhile, my depleted Sturm company will bust into the L5 factory and break for the Chemist's Shop.  I don't know if I'll be able to capture it, but I'll drive for it.  As I move east across the debris field, his KV in hex U11 will be forced to turn and meet the threat, rather than fire at the flank of my Sturm company to the north.  The T60 in V8 will get a visit from a Stuka.

My rifle companies in the factory will hold their ground and try to avoid close combat with the militia.  Dave appears to be ceding Building B18 to me, so I will move some rifle squads up to occupy it.  But cautiously!  Cautiously!  There could be Russians lurking in the cellars.

I'll also take what Dave has given me with the F16 factory.  But no pressing south beyond that.

The big worry is the artillery module that I know Dave retained from Day 1.  There is no telling where his observer is hiding, but, if I am lucky, Dave moved the observer over to the west to help defend the Power Station where he will be unable to hinder my attack for the river.

Well, we'll see.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Working Families Party: An alternative to being a Democrat

Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber

Electoral politics in these United States are a farce.  Voters are faced with two variations of the same basic theme.  The differences between the two parties are chimeric and defined by the ostracized and ignored constituent factions which they discount as "fringe." Ironically, those same factions are recognized as the respective bases of the very parties that ignore them once the leadership offices change hands.

So, for example, the same people who ardently supported President Obama in the 2008 election, the people who voted for meaningful health care reform, for investigations into the misdeeds of the previous administration, for an end to the war in Iraq are now deemed the "left-wing" of the Democratic Party.  Their views are suddenly "out of the mainstream."

Or, on the other side of the coin, the people who vociferously advocate deportation of dark-skinned peoples, who condemn lifestyles that do not adhere to their oppressive and fearful Puritan mindset, who advocate full scale war on all fronts, the people who voted for Junior Bush, are regarded by the Republican Party as "right-wing."

Each election cycle, candidates dole out platitudes, pound their fists with feigned passion, and, once elected, go right back to serving the interests of their true constituencies:  the moneyed elite.

As Ani DiFranco puts it:  "Who's gonna be president?  Tweedle dumb?  Or Tweedle dumber?" 

The other night, on the eve of the Democrats' embarrassment in Massachusetts, a (friendly and informative) canvasser came to my house to talk about an alternative.  It's called "fusion voting," and in simplistic terms, it allows "minor" parties to cross-endorse candidates.  A bill allowing for this recently passed the Oregon state legislature and has been signed by Governor Kulongoski.  That makes it a law. So this new paradigm is on its way.

It works like this:  a candidate may run as a Democrat or Republican, but also receive the endorsement of a third party.  For example:

US Senate
  • Gloria Goodjobs
    Democrat, Working Families

  • Rich White
    Republican, Aryan Nation
This mechanism provides a method for people to "vote their values" without committing to a particular national party.  (And, after all, I've got nothing in common with a punk like Joe Lieberman.) 

There are other states that use this model.  For example, New York, which has at least three parties, as was demonstrated late last year with the Republican fiasco in the 23rd Congressional District.

A quick perusal of the Working Families Party website (which, as of this writing, is in need of an update), confirms that the values it espouses are in line with my own.  Specifically:
  • Affordable health care for all Oregonians where our health, or lack thereof, is not dependent on individual wealth and subject to private profiteering; we support national single-payer health care consistent with the principles of H.R. 676
  • Opening doors to opportunity through higher education and technical training that does not result in indebtedness for our citizens
  • Affordable housing, a stop to predatory lending practices, investment in new affordable housing development, and protection of existing affordable housing.
  • Promotion of green family wage jobs whose legacy leaves a clean, secure, and sustainable environment for our children.
  • Supporting fair trade, defending our jobs against outsourcing, wage and benefit cuts, and corporate raiding.
  • The right to organize and reach a first contract free of intimidation, discrimination, and illegal terminations.
I'm on board with all of that, so I registered with them.  And the best part of it all is this:  Democrats, you no longer get my vote by default.  You're going to have to earn it.  You dumb asses.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bustin' the Democrats in the chops

You get what you deserve, Democrats!
The political set is all aflutter today at what some are terming a potential "Upset of the Century."  I'm speaking of the voter rejection of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in her bid to fill the state's US Senate seat brought about by the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy late last year.  As of this writing, the polls in Massachusetts are still open, but the speculation is that Republican Scott Brown will win in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 3 to 1 margin!

Personally, I take grim satisfaction from the prospect.  As I survey the performance of the 111th Congress under the control of the Democrats, and most especially the pompous and politically-tone deaf US Senate, it seems clear as day that Democrats interpreted their historic victories in 2006 and 2008 in the traditional way:  as a routine changing of the guard.  Republicans out.  Democrats in.  Back to business as usual.

Well, here's your wake-up call, dumb asses!  Democrats had better figure out that people outside the Washington Beltway are pissed off.

If Coakley loses, the Democrats will be served a harsh lesson with the death of their big-acorns-small-oaks health care legislation.  Candidate Brown has already vowed to vote against cloture, making the bill susceptible to Republican filibuster.  I won't shed too many tears over this one.  The half-assed health care reform proposal put forth by the Senate is an open-mouthed kiss to health care insurance providers.  The ideal, cost-saving solution, which the voting public supports by an overwhelming margin is a single-payer health care plan.  But Mopey Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson simply could not abide it.  (Is it just coincidence that they also represent the two states whose primary industry is the legalized extortion we call "insurance?")

Coakley, herself, typifies the insufferable attitude of Democrats in their assumption of entitlement.  Reports are that she disdained the idea of braving Massachusetts cold weather to shake hands with voters at Fenway Park.  She apparently deluded herself into assuming that Senator Kennedy's seat was hers by right.  So, if she loses, it serves her right.

And President Obama, who flew to Massachusetts on Sunday to rally Democrats in a last ditch attempt to save the seat, gets dealt a stern and important lesson, too.  I speculate that, had the President spent the last year aggressively pushing for a progressive health care solution, with a real public option, this Senate seat would be locked up for Coakley or whichever Democrat may have run.  This is Massachusetts, after all.  But instead, he chose to play it nonchalant.  Let the Senate work things out for itself.  Well, Mr. President, that's not why I voted for you.  Whatever happened to "Change has come to America?"

Tea-baggers will be crowing to beat the band if Brown wins.  And that's fine.  I still don't believe that most Americans espouse the vision that these demented reactionaries offer.  But we'll see.

The main achievement in this election is that Democrats have been sent a strong, harsh message.  Do they have the good sense to interpret it correctly?  I'm not overly confident on that score.

But, just last night, a canvasser came to my house to tell me about a new idea called "fusion voting" that is being proposed for Oregon elections.  Her organization is called the Working Families Party.  My disgust at the Democrats is such that I changed my voter registration on the spot.  I'm now a member of the Working Families Party.

I'll post about this new movement in the near future.  But in the meantime, Democrats, this is what you get for your tin-eared ignorance and for your pathetic sense of entitlement.  Eat heartily from your plate of woe!  Relish every bite!  You dumb asses.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ethical capitalism: The OrCAD story

DisclaimerThe following narrative expresses memories of a common past.  Undoubtedly, others who were part of the experience will have different perceptions of that era.  And most certainly they will have drawn different conclusions.  Therefore, I want to stress that what follows is my interpretation.  Only mine.

Where's Waldo?
In the face of all the recent revelations about corporate malfeasance, the Rich taking care of the Rich, and greedy and unethical behavior on Wall Street, I hearken back to one example of capitalism from my own life; an example that actually worked in the manner that is so often preached but so rarely practiced in Corporate America.  That is to say:  ethically.

OrCAD was a small, privately-held software company that specialized in electronic design tools.  People who used OrCAD software were generally electronic engineers designing programmed circuits (those little claw-footed black chips in your computer) or circuit boards (the platforms on which those chips are mounted).  (I offer this simplistic description with apologies to my former coworkers from Marketing.)

In 1995, the company was engaged in an undertaking to become a publicly-held corporation.  Here was a story that exemplified the Great American Dream; persistence and hard work resulting in success.  From its humble beginnings (sometime around 1985) as a set of electronic drafting tools for the personal computer OrCAD was making the transition to a full-fledged electronic design software company bought and sold on the open market.

I came to work at OrCAD for my second "tour of duty" in 1995.  I had worked for the company briefly in 1989, during its infancy, and had maintained friendships with many people who worked there still, including Nanci Hamilton, who had been and would be my direct supervisor.  (Nanci recently published an historical book about Portland's Multnomah Village which I recommend to all.)

When I returned to OrCAD, I entered a corporate environment that was very much focused on its goal of attaining an IPO (Initial Public Offering).  Under the leadership of CEO Mike Bosworth, the company developed a palpable esprit de corps.  There was a sense of common endeavor unlike any other that I have experienced in my professional career. It was not that the employees at OrCAD universally liked one another (although there were many meaningful friendships) nor that the office was free of political infighting and rivalry (people are people, after all) but that each worked on the assumption that coworkers were operating from a position of good faith and responsibility.

In the last, frenzied push to achieve our goal of public ownership, all hands at OrCAD put in long hours, ignored the confines of official responsibility to help one another out, contributed to the success of each other and our collective whole.  I specifically remember one Sunday night, just before a software release, when coworker Casey and I stayed until 10pm, putting the final touches on our customer documentation.  Imagine:  working in the office at 10pm on Sunday night, willingly, even enthusiastically.

A lot of heroic work went into our effort to "go public."  It occurred all across the company: from Sales to Marketing to Quality Assurance to Shipping and beyond.   We had a goal and we knew what must be done to attain it and we did it.

Looking back on that effort now, I recall that my motivation at the time was not for financial reward.  Yes, I and all my coworkers held stock options that had the potential to become valuable if OrCAD were sold on the NASDAQ.  But I was driven more by a sense of responsibility to my coworkers.  We were a team and I would do my part.  And I don't think I was alone in possessing that motivation.

We finally did achieve our goal of becoming a publicly held corporation.  But, sadly, going public spelled the beginning of the end for our little company.  Because, OrCAD, being a corporate entity, existed within the world of free market capitalism. And the laws in that world dictate the imperative of perpetual growth.  In that world, the Holy Grail is dollars, dollars, dollars.  Soon after our IPO, OrCAD was acquired by Cadence Design Systems, a relatively huge software company out of San Jose, California.

And while it is true that our stock options became valuable (I sold my own stock almost immediately), it is also true that the acquisition put a definitive end to OrCAD's existence.  Cadence bought us not so that they could continue to develop our tool set, nor to allow our microcosm of ethical professionalism to thrive, but so that they could shelve our technology which they believed undercut their own (much more expensive) tool set.

I bear no animosity toward Cadence.  After all, Cadence rewarded us with the only real reward that capitalism has to offer:  lucrative financial compensation.  (Eight years later, I still have not attained the personal income that I had at that time.)

But I am saddened, when I look back at all the well-intentioned and trusting and heroic effort that went into OrCAD's rise.  In exchange for those stock options, those dollars, we gave up a workplace where integrity and trust were the stock-in-trade, where, despite rivalries and personal friction, everyone recognized the goal of our common endeavor.

The entire episode serves as allegory for the shallow virtues of capitalism.  But, then again, the scent of Eden was never so sweet as when it was lost to all but memory.

But let me shout out to all my former coworkers:  to Cindy and Scott, to Chuck and Chuck, to Moji and Beth, to KJ and that ol' dawg Jeff, to Brian and Tim, to Greg and Kimberly, to Lynda and Molly and Marybeth and Wayne, to Kim and Fritz, to Abby and Jonathan and Troy and Tony and Phil, to Gerald and Jeanine, and to everyone else.  We had a great gig, there at OrCAD.  Here's hopin' that you're all doing well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

ASL: Bustin' the Barrikady yet again (Pt. I)

Note to readers: This post won't make a lick of sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the Advanced Squad Leader game system.

My old friend and ASL nemesis, Dave Hauth, is back!  Fresh off our recent Red Barricades game, in which I finally seem to have found an effective counter for his "fortify the riverbank" strategy, Dave is ready to give it another go.  This time the game is RBCGIII:  the Barrikady, with yours truly in the role of General Von Paulus and Dave doing his best impression of grandfatherly Marshal Zhukov.  

For your vicarious ASL enjoyment, both players will once again maintain a blog correspondence as the game progresses with the agreement that neither will read his opponent's blog until given express permission to do so.  Dave and I have faced off in so many ASL campaigns and scenarios that a Gentleman's Game is both assumed and assured.

Readers are encouraged to comment!  Got a problem with where I placed my AT gun?  Speak your piece!  Just be sure not to inadvertently reveal any information about Dave's plan to me or vice-versa.  You can read Dave's blog here.

What to do? What to do?

Coming so freshly off a recent game, as the German commander, I'm not certain how I should launch my attack.  The German entry area is somewhat limited.  Fortunately, I can defer the specifics of my attack until after I see Dave's setup.  But since Dave and I only recently completed a game in which I broke through the Russian defenses to win the riverbank, this time I'm inclined to try something different.

My inclination is to attack southward along the west edge of the board, or else try a stab right into the heart of the Russian defenses, with an objective of attaining building K10 by the end of the day. 'Tis to be thought upon.

In any case, my initial forces are these:
  • Rifle Coy
    467 x 12
    9-1, 8-1, 8-0
    HMG, MMG, LMG, Atr, Lt. Mtr.

  • Sturm Coy
    548 x 12
    9-2, 8-1, 7-0
    MMG, LMG x 2, DC x 2

  • Btln Mortar
    80mm Mortar OBA
    Offboard Observer:  M1
    Pre-registered hexes:  G11, M5

  • PzKwIIIL Pltn
    PzKwIIIL x 3
    9-1 Armor Leader
I have 15 CPP to spend, which I apportion as follows:
  • Rifle Coy  7 CPP
    467 x 12
    9-1, 8-1, 7-0
    HMG, MMG, LMG, Atr, Lt. Mtr.

  • PIIIH Pltn  3 CPP
    PzKwIIIH x 3

  • Medium Artillery with Offboard Observer 5 CPP
    100mm Artillery (Plentiful Ammo)
    Offboard Observer:  E1
I've set my offboard observers and pre-registered hexes as follows.

Where will the shells drop?
The 80mm mortar is set to drop smoke on building M5, or perhaps to bombard the rubble in the area around G10, where any Russians will not have the benefit of stone buildings for protection.  The 100mm lacks a pre-registered hex, and so will drop a spotting round somewhere along the E hex row and see what develops.  Beyond these general plans, I will go no further until I see Dave's setup.

The dawn reveals...

And here it is.


The first thing I notice is that Dave appears to have defended the river, and more specifically the area around building Z1, rather lightly.  I also see that there are two "big" concealment markers up by the Chemist's Shop:  looks like a dug-in KV platoon to me.

The path to the river looks so inviting that I think I smell a rat.  There are no reserve counters on board.  An interesting fact!  So, he didn't spend a lot of CPP on infantry.  And I don't see any wire counters either.  So on what did he spend his points?  I suspect that somewhere in all those multilevel buildings, or perhaps on a rooftop somewhere, there is a leader with a field phone and a direct connection to some Russian guns over there across the Volga.  Maybe very big guns.  That thought makes my palms a little sweaty...

Dave has set up fairly strongly along the railroad line to the west.  In particular, the upper level of F13 appears to be a leader-directed  machine-gun nest.  But I expect I can chase Ivan out of that area with my artillery.  In fact, my 100mm observer in hex E1 has all kinds of inviting targets around the B12 building and southward.  And there is also this:  if he has a lot of infantry in the area, he probably doesn't have his artillery trained on it.


I'm going to go with the "vanilla" German attack.  Crash on down the D through G hex rows in a more or less southeasterly direction.  If I can end the scenario with buildings K10 and M5 within my perimeter, and if I've attained a 3 to 2 advantage in casualties, I'll say the day is won.
 To be continued...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The woman I married

Today is the fourth anniversary of my wedding to Maty Bombay Diop Cariaga.

Last night, when I picked her up from work, Maty expressed concern about a friend of ours that was only recently released from the hospital after a bout with a recurring illness.  Our friend is a student who rents a room in a house with two other roommates, and Maty was worried that our friend had no one to care for her while she regained her strength.  And so, we drove straight from Maty's job to our friend's house and picked her up to come stay the night with us.  We got home, sat our friend in the recliner and wrapped her up in a warm blanket.  Then, Maty set about cooking dinner for the three of us.  She wouldn't allow our friend to help with the food preparation, insisting that she rest.

As we ate, we watched the reports on the news about the disaster in Haiti.  Even though money is tight for us right now, Maty encouraged me to send a donation to a relief organization to help. 

I've come to expect this compassion from her.  Maty is well-known among her Senegalese friends as the person who remembers every child's birthday, who brings the "get well" basket to their homes when they are sick, who offers her help cooking or cleaning when one of them is in need. 

I'm grateful for the many gifts that Maty gives me.  But the gift I hold most dear is the manner in which she makes me a better person.  When I feel uncharitable or irritated with my own friends or family, Maty always urges me to forgive, to love.  And she does it with a humility that I find amazing.

Once, I asked her "Do you even know how noble you are?"  Her reply:  "I just try to do my best every day like my Mom and Dad taught me."

That's the woman I married:  brave, wise, and kind.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  she's a better person than I.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Disaster in Haiti

An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti near the capital city of Port-au-Prince yesterday, January 12th, 2010.  It was the strongest earthquake recorded in the area since 1860.  The quake was so devastating that the Haitian government has effectively ceased to exist.  There are no reliable reports of the number of deaths in the region, but most certainly it will be in the thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands.  Hundreds of thousands!

Within hours of the disaster, aid was on its way to the impoverished island nation from the United Kingdom, France, Colombia, and the United States.  President Obama pledged all out support earlier today.  

One doesn't need some morbid Cormac McCarthy indulgence to imagine the suffering and fear that is occurring at this very moment.  There are desperate, hopeless people down there right now.  Orphaned children, dazed and destitute elderly, grief-stricken parents. 

Come on, America!  Our neighbors need help.  Let's remind the world that we are a good, decent, and compassionate people.  Let's get behind these relief efforts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Geithner: Rats in the White House

It is now apparent. Apart from all the nauseating displays of indignity and the naked hypocrisy of inept Republicans, apart from the low brow hysteria of the Glenn Beck tea-baggers, apart even from the perpetual, plaintive mewling about ideological betrayal of the political Left, there really is something pernicious and rotten in the Obama administration.  And its name appears to be Timothy Geithner.

Right-wing losers have accused the Obama administration of engaging in "class warfare."  Well, in spite of their juvenile misinterpretations of history, it is starting to look like they might be right.  At least, to an extent.  But this is where they miss the boat:  there is no White House effort to redistribute wealth downward. This is a case of the Very Rich protecting the Very Rich.   

Check this story from Bloomberg Press.  It tells an appalling tale of greed and the use of public treasure to benefit a very select group of people at the expense of everyone else. 

The story is a challenging read for anyone who does not have an LLP attached to his or her appellation, but as I understand it, Timothy Geithner's Federal Reserve Bank of New York instructed AIG (American International Group, Incorporated) not to disclose the details of the "credit swaps" conducted early last year as part of the emergency measures taken to prevent a collapse of world financial markets.  And, now that some light is being shed on what actually went down, it appears that there is good reason to want to hide those swaps.  Lo and behold, Goldman Sachs Group, Incorporated, and other huge corporate banks were repaid 100 cents on the dollar for all of those fake loans and securities that were starting to crumble underneath them.  The money came straight out of the Federal Treasury.  The same Federal Treasury of which Timothy Geithner is now Secretary.

This is big.

If the worst implications of these revelations are true, there had better be some people getting fitted with handcuffs before it's all over.  This is corruption of Bush-Cheney proportions.

Over the last two decades (or maybe even longer, who knows?), rats have infested the White House.  Rats in the form of corporate bankers and fast-talking Wall Street whiz kids.  Now that we've hit the skids, the very rats who brought about our national financial calamity are making sure that everyone else pay for it.  We get left holding the bag, while they stow away their misbegotten fortunes and go on leading us into the next disaster.

This is the last thing President Obama needs, to be sure.  But it stinks too much to ignore. At this point, I'm willing to believe that the President is not culpable in all this.  He came into office with the house on fire and he had to make a lot of decisions very quickly.  He is not connected with the Wall Street crowd and may well have been convinced by people whom he trusted that Timothy Geithner was the Man of the Hour.  After all, there are no more convincing liars anywhere in the world than the shysters on Wall Street.

But now we're starting to get a look under the White House floorboards, and the rat's nest is pretty god-damned appalling. 

The manner in which President Obama responds to this will reveal much.  And if he doesn't do the right thing, I may, at long last, resign myself to the reality that in our society, money is all that matters.  Maybe this is the way the Roman middle class felt when Marius and Sulla started the little spat that finally killed off their republic.

In that case:  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yes on 66 and 67: Pony up, Fat Man!

Oregon is enmeshed in a special election right now to reform tax policy.  Many voters have already received ballots (although I haven't yet received mine).

This election will determine state income tax policy for both individuals and corporations.  There are two measures on the ballot.

Measure 66

This measure is a referral of State House Bill 2649, which would increase personal income taxes by adding a temporary tax bracket for individuals earning between $125,000 and $250,000 with a rate of 10.8% and a temporary tax bracket for individuals earning over $250,000 with a rate of 11%. These taxes expire January 1, 2012. HB 2649 also adds a new permanent tax bracket for individuals earning over $125,00 per year with a rate of 9.9% per year.*

According to Eugene School District 4J, Measure 66 would:
  • Increase tax rates on the amount of taxable income over $250,000 for households ($125,000 for single filers) by 1.8 to 2 percentage points.
  • Eliminate income taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009.
  • Provide approximately $472 million in funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety and other services.
Measure 67

Measure 67 is a referral of HB 3405, which would increase taxes on corporations. HB 3405 increases the corporate minimum tax from $10 to $150. It establishes a corporate minimum tax of 1/10 of 1% of sales, with a cap of $100,000. It adds a new tax bracket for corporations with taxable income over $250,000 with a rate of 7.9%. The rate for this tax bracket falls to 7.6% after January 1, 2011. After January 1, 2013 the bracket only applies to taxable income over $10 million dollars. HB 3405 also increases most business filing fees, and specifies that the proceeds will go to the general fund. The fee increases range from 50-100%.*

Again, referring to information provided by Eugene School District 4J, Measure 67 would:
  • Raise the $10 corporate minimum tax:
    • Most businesses would pay a minimum tax of $150.
    • Corporations with over $500,000 in Oregon revenues would pay minimum tax of about 0.1% of Oregon revenues.
    • Sole proprietors would not be impacted.
  • Raise the tax rate for C corporations by 1.3% on profits over $250,000.
  • Increase certain business filing fees.
  • Provide approximately $255 million in funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety and other services.
Why vote "yes?"

These measures are opposed by well-funded interests, including the Associated General Contractors of America, Oregon Restaurant Association, and Oregon Chamber of Commerce.  In other words, fat cats. That list of opponents is, in itself, powerful incentive to vote for the two measures. (Apparently, some local Portland rag wrote an op-ed in opposition, too.  But who the hell reads newspapers nowadays? Particularly, corrupt, has-been newspapers that knuckle under to every blowhard that casts a stern glance in their direction.)

Please consider:  When times were less difficult, when everyone was working and making money, it was often easier and less expensive to let piratical corporate entities have their way than to try to coerce them into doing the right thing and contributing to the communities off which they leech.  But times have changed, haven't they?

Intel or Nike may not have been among the benefactors of the obscene (in retrospect) tax-payer funded bail-outs that were required to salvage our financial system.  But they are members of the Oregon community.  They profit from the publicly-funded infrastructure.  They reap the benefits of having an educated population. And they have grown fat off Oregon labor.

I'm not inclined to feel an ounce of charity to these faceless corporate entities.  Pony up, punks!

As far as the new tax brackets created for upper income individuals --we're in the stew, folks.  Unemployment is high, the number of persons living in poverty is on the rise, and our schools which provide the best hope we have for a better future, are in dire need of funding.  Folks, can't you see that we're all going to have to chip in if we're going to come out of this mess with a society that is worth saving?

Please join me in voting "yes" on Measures 66 and 67.

*Information courtesy of Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Movie review: Avatar (in 3D)

What's that, you say?  A new ground-breaking movie is out that redefines special effects from now to Eternity? A film by James Cameron? The same guy that did Titanic?  Starring Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and others?  You say this film, Avatar, is breaking all kinds of box office records?  That people are still standing in line, four weeks after the film opened, just to see these magical special effects that will revolutionize film-making henceforth?

You say that the film is an inter-species love story, wrapped in the tale of an innocent, ecologically-tuned people struggling against an amoral resource-extracting corporation?  Kind of a futuristic Dancing with Wolves?  You say that, even through the fantasy setting, you could identify with the two main characters, because, after all, they spoke the way you speak and one of them was a rebellious young man, another a brave and open-minded young woman?

Well, I'm sure it is a fine film that will live up to all the acclaim.  But, indulge me for a moment and let me tell you a little story about a film that came out when I was a lad.  At its release, in 1977, this film was all the rage with its mind-blowing special effects.  People lined up all the way around the block to see it.  There had never been anything like it.

Granted, like Avatar, this film was a little short on story line, the dialog was trite and juvenile, and the directing made no demands on the actors.  But, let me tell you, no one had ever seen anything like Star Wars.

Here's the thing though:  thirty-plus years after its release, far from being hailed as a film-making achievement worthy of study and emulation, Star Wars' chief virtue is its nostalgic value.  The special effects that set it apart, visually, from all its contemporaries have been rendered "quaint" by the advance of technology.  Scenes that once wowed audiences, now elicit wistful smiles and sentences that begin with "Do you remember when..."

And, alas, without the shock-and-awe of cutting edge special effects, all of Star War's other aspects --the poor acting, the embarrassing dialog, the ridiculous story --all of that stands out glaringly, causing former enthusiasts to scratch their chins and wonder what exactly was it that was so great about the film.

But, hey, I'm sure Avatar is really-and-truly all that it is cracked up to be. 

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sound and fury: Going forward

Two and a half years since the inception of this blog, I feel compelled to write my very first administrative post.  I beg indulgence for its narcissistic, self-absorbed nature.  (Every writer is a narcissist to one degree or another, no?)

First off, I want to express my deep and sincere gratitude to everyone who occasionally stops by and peeks in on whatever I may be blathering about on a given day.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.

Secondly, since readership has spiked in the last six to eight months (thank you, Facebook) I think it is wise to specify some guidelines that I will follow for posting and comment moderation.  So, here they are:
  1. Readers may notice that I have removed the "Reactions" option.  No longer are the "Interesting," "Funny," or "Stupid" check boxes available.  One particular reader (and, yes, I know who you are) has felt compelled to click only the "Stupid" check box, which sort of defeats the purpose of the "Reactions" option.  And may I ask, my dear?  Why would one care to visit a blog whose every post is "Stupid?"

  2. Please feel free to leave comments.  However, henceforth, I ask that commenters not engage in ad hominem attacks against each other.  One reader (and, I know who you are, too, Monsieur Le Marteau) recently resorted to name-calling when referring to another.  I deleted that comment and will delete any future comments of a similar vein.  Readers are free to call me names.  That doesn't bother me.  But please, no attacks against other commenters.  Heated disagreement is fine.  But no names.  No racism.  No incitements to violence.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

  3. As a rule, I do not comment on my own blog.  That is, I do not use the "Comments" feature.  But, if you leave a comment, be assured that I will read and consider it.  And, of course, you can email me directly at, if you are uncomfortable in the "public" forum.
So, in closing, let me say "thanks," again.  This blog is a joy to me regardless of how many people read it.  If others enjoy it --well, that's just gravy.

All my best.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Come on, people, now

I know we've hit hard times because people are behaving badly.

I'm not just talking about the god-awful horrors that show up on the teevee screen on a more and more regular basis.  I'm not just talking about things like what happened today in St. Louis.  Or what happened in all those other placesTexas, Florida... even little Tualatin next door!

I'm talking about the way we treat each other day to day.  I'm talking about the pettiness and impatience and crabbiness we dole out to each other because we're worried and afraid.  All the hostility and fear and angst that is coursing through our collective soul seems to find vent in tight-lipped rudeness and irritability.

For example, the other day, Perennial Candidate for Multnomah County Sheriff, Andre Danielson and I waited patiently in line at the coffee shop up near 50th and Hawthorne.  Behind the counter, a young woman took orders.  When our turn came, I stepped up to the counter.  "Hello," says I.  Friendly as I could be.

She turned away, abruptly, without looking at me.  "I can help you in a minute," said she, tapping the counter top with her finger tip.  Whatever she was doing behind the counter, it didn't look urgent.  Eventually, and with a great show of indifference, she turned back in my direction.  "Yes?" she said.

"I'd like a coffee, please," said I.

"What size?" she demanded.

"Uh, well I guess I'll have..." I started, glancing up at the menu.

She didn't wait for me to finish.  "They come in sixteen, twelve, or eight ounces," she said.

"Medium," I said.

She slammed an empty paper cup down in front of me, nodded her head in the direction of a coffee pot across the room, scooped my money off the counter, and was already peering over my shoulder at the next customer before I could even say "thanks." 

But lest anyone imagine that I want to portray myself as a selfless, patient saint, I hasten to confess that I'm as guilty as anybody when it comes to rudeness.  Believe me!  If you could hear me when I'm behind the wheel of an automobile...  (Or, even better, ask Maty!)

But here is my question, which I ask to myself and to all of you:  Why?

It doesn't make anything better.  It makes everything worse. 

Come on, people, now. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ASL: Fight for the Barrikady (Pt. III)

Note to readers: This post won't make a lick of sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the Advanced Squad Leader game system.

Fellow Berserk Commissar Sonny Eberts (Santino, the Bull) and I are enmeshed in a savage struggle for the Stalingrad Barrikady, CGIII.  Sonny and I will each maintain a blog correspondence as the game progresses with the agreement that neither will read the other's blog until given express permission to do so.  Readers are encouraged to comment!  Got a problem with where I placed my AT gun?  Speak your piece!  Just be sure not to inadvertently reveal any information about Sonny's plan to me or vice-versa.

You can read my entry for the previous game day here.

Aftermath of Day 2:  Grist for the mill

All I can say, at this point, is that Sonny need no longer be concerned that he is not hitting me hard enough.  Ouch!  The perimeter at the end of the day looked like this...

Perimeter at the end of Day 2
This game went the full 8 turns which is generally bad news for the Russians.  And that maxim held true this time.  The Russians suffered 60 CVP while the Germans suffered 31 CVP.  That, my friends, is a whipping of severe dimensions.

Things might have been different had I not rolled boxcars for my Turn 1 field phone contact attempt.  If I could have brought down my 80mm mortar missions, I might well have been able to hold the Z1 building and my northern river fortifications.  Especially since Sonny used the area around X2 as his jump off point, which is exactly where I had planned to drop my spotting round.  But, at the least. the module will be available for Day 3.

I also handicapped myself by forgetting to bring on my T-60 M42 reinforcements for the first 4 turns.  At that point, I chose to leave them off board for the duration of the day.  That way, I avoid possibly having them recalled and they can set up on board for Day 3.

Sonny had purchased a Sturm Company, a module of Nebelwerfer, and a module of 100mm artillery.

The Nebelwerfer was pre-registered to hit in the middle of the big factories, which it did.  But it really didn't damage me much, and even helped me out by setting a fire in the M10 factory, and thereby gutting it and denying Sonny the rooftops for the next CG day.

Neither did he get much out of the 100mm artillery which landed accurately on my river defenses and broke a few squads, but really didn't do much to disrupt my line.

Sonny scored his points with his 9-2 leaders (he had three of them!) which punished my troops all along the line, but most especially in the factories, where my militia fell like wheat to the scythe.  My consolation for receiving such a whipping is that the vast majority of my casualties (about 60%) were cheap militia troops.  As I stated in my previous post, their purpose was to buy time for the troops to the east.

But, as the new perimeter reveals, my front is now stretched.  Although he didn't quite reach the river, Sonny is poised to do so on the subsequent day, and he stretched his west edge perimeter far to the south, opening up a lot of entry area for future reinforcements.

I did manage to destroy about a platoon of Sturm troops, and another couple platoons of rifle squads, plus four leaders, including one of the aforementioned 9-2 killers.  But at the end of the day, Sonny had an advantage of 20 squads!

I'm in trouble.  There is not much I can do to keep Sonny off the river at this point and he now has any number of options for avenues of attack.

Nothing for it, but to hum a few patriotic anthems and dig in.

Day 3:  Rope-a-dope defense

As things stand, I can't possibly stand toe to toe with the Germans unless I want to be mauled even more severely than occurred on Day 2.  Fortunately, the perimeter is such that I can condense my defenses within it and keep most of my forces out of reach of the Germans for the start of the scenario.

That, I believe, must be my strategy for the day.  Trade ground for time.  Fall back.  Dodge.  Weave.  In other words, rope-a-dope.

My retained forces for the day are these:
  • 628 x 8
  • 527 x 2
  • 447 x 14
  • 426 x 2
  • 228 x 2
  • 10-2, 10-0, 9-0, 8-1 x 3, 8-0, 6+1
  • HMG x 2, MMG x 3, LMG x 2, Atr x 3, Lt. Mtr. x 2, DC
  • 45LL ATG
  • 80mm Mortar module
  • T60 M42 x 3
I have been allotted 18 CPP for the day.  My purchases are these:
  • Militia Coy  4 CPP
    426 x 12
    MMG, LMG, Atr, Lt. Mtr.
  • T60 Pltn (Dug-in) (Depleted)  2 CPP
    T60 M42 x 2
  • Sniper Increase +1 1 CPP
    SAN 3
  • Rifle Coy (reserve) 4 CPP
    447 x 12
    9-0, 8-1
    HMG, MMG, LMG, Atr, Lt. Mtr.
  • 120 Fort Pts.  3 CPP
    AP mines x 24
    Wire x 2
    HIP Squads x 3
    Dummy x 9
  • T70 Pltn (dug-in)  2 CPP
    T70 x 3
  • MOL-P pltn 1 CPP
I have 1 CPP remaining, which I will put in the bank.

If I were able, I would purchase 3 infantry companies this day. But, alas, since my historical modifier is "0," I am limited to two companies and will therefore start Day 3 with a numerical disadvantage.

Sonny sees this...
My set up illustrates what I mean by "rope-a-dope."  I've set up well within my perimeter to minimize the amount of contact with the Germans for the initial turn of the game.  Hopefully, this will spare me from being devastated by his Turn 1 Prep Fire Phase.  After that, of course, all bets are off and it's time to start mixing it up.

In order to avoid losing more ground on the west edge, I've deployed my mobile T60s and the 45LL ATG to discourage a board-edge creep by Sonny's units.  If he chooses to attack this way, he will overwhelm my forces, but hopefully it won't come cheap.

I've deployed my Guards SMG Company to defend the Power Station and the buildings to the south of it.  That company is backed up by most of my reserve rifle company, screened by dummies and fortifications.  The 8-1 in the cellar of the Power Station will attempt to kindle the building. 

My militia company is spread across the southern ends of the L14 and O10 factories.  Cannon fodder, I'm afraid.  Skulk, lurk, delay and die bravely, boys.  My 10-2 and his kill stack are poised to kindle building O18 and then move to the S17 factory.

My rifle company and the two platoons of dug-in tanks guard the area around the Chemist's Shop.  It is here where I plan to make my fiercest defense.  I've also set up to try to interdict any Germans that try to get to the river, but I doubt I can keep them off the shore for long.

Lastly, my 6+1 gets field phone duty to call down the 80mm Mortar from the Commissar's House, where he can direct fire toward the Chemist's Shop and Debris Field in the north, as well as to the rubble in the H26 area south of the Power Station.

Day 3 setup
I'm expecting to get punished again.  The Germans are under a big head of steam and my forces are reeling.  But, this is Stalingrad and I'm the Russian commander.  And, as such, I have to be able to take a punch.
We'll see.

Update:  Alas, alas.  An unfortunate misunderstanding has compromised our game.  I apologize to readers for the abrupt ending, but I fear I cannot continue.  Despair not, however!  I hope to start another game in the near future.  In the meantime, thanks for reading!