I need 6 players for Online Diplomacy


Friends, I need 6 people to commit to a game of online Diplomacy. If you haven’t played before, this will be a great, low-impact, low-time commitment way to get familiar.

I am thinking a standard game with 2-3 days between phases so no one has to worry about it constantly, but quick enough so people don’t lose interest or forget about it. And, of course time for smack talk and/or actual negotiation.

Here’s the site I use: http://www.playdiplomacy.com/. Shoot me a comment here or an email to carl[at]carloberg.com and we’ll get going in a few days.

Or comment here if you have questions for the benefit of the group.

Do it now

I’m a week into blogging regularly and the most frustrating part has been my inability to remember all the great ideas I have. They float in and out of my head and there is nothing I can do to lock them down mentally.

So, back to taking notes immediately or blogging on the spot.

I use Evernote for on the spot recording of ideas. Any other suggestions?

A Punch in the Mouth

Missed my first blog post last night thanks to a cocktail-progressive neighborhood party we partially hosted last night. A late and sluggish start this morning resulted. I am still not quite 100%.

So in celebration of this hungover state, I provide you with two drink recipes from last night. First, the Common Enemy as put together by a neighbor.

1.5 oz Bourbon, 0.5 oz black rum, 0.5 oz habanero syrup, 1 tsp Laphroiag, cinammon dusting

It’s stupid good.

Caren and I made a fairly easy gin punch.

2.5 cups vanilla and mint syrup, 0.75 cup lemon juice, a fifth of gin, and a bottle of dry sparkling wine. Add the wine right before serving.

Also good but perhaps a touch sweet. Next time I will back off the syrup a little.

Not enough (words for) love

I’m reading Robert Nozick’s The Examined Life. It’s full of good, mind-tingling things, and last night I read his chapter on love. He doesn’t mention this specifically but it reminded me that the Greek’s (yes, back to that language) have 4 words for love, where English has one.





They are pretty distinct and world certainly simplify English, leaving behind a lot of mucking about with adjectives. But at the same time, we would lose out on some great comedy of misunderstanding.

I’m really focused on Greek lately, aren’t I? This despite the fact that I have never attempted any education (self or otherwise) in Greek. I taught myself and took college level courses in Latin for years. And yet I return to Greek for in interesting tidbits more often.

No lesson today. Just bits of info. I assume people aren’t generally aware of this, but perhaps I am wrong?

A total snipe hunt


What do you do on those days where you run and hustle and move around and you feel at the end like you’ve done nothing. The ball has not moved. You spent more time cleaning up than building up. What do you tell your self on a day like that? Asking for a friend.

PS – I am deeply skeptical of blog entries that sound like this. Asking questions in the hope for traffic/answers as well as the vaguely “guru” language. So consider this full disclosure, but that is partially what this blog is for, eh?

PPS – Addenda should probably not be as long or longer than the original thought. Now we’re upending paradigms and breaking rules!

Music, Maximum Balloon, and the future


I am always woefully behind on music. I started listening to TV on the Radio just a couple of months ago. This, despite being told about them in 2005 or 2006, and being told I will like them by a trusted friend. I just ignored him. A decade letter, I finally listen and realize he was right.

So last night I wrote that friend an email saying, “Ugh, I didn’t listen, but you were right.” He said thanks and then promptly reminded me to check out Maximum Balloon. I did right away and he was right again.

So don’t spend your time fretting over whether you are missing something good. Just listen to your friends (both IRL and on the web) who enjoy digging through such things and follow their lead. Also don’t (as I sometimes do) get paralyzed by choice, especially in music, and just give up and listen to the same thing over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but sometimes the mere question, “what should I listen to?” just shuts me down.

Music: I like it but I want to spend zero time figuring it out.

Christopher Hitchens: read him now

I re-started blog writing because every successful writer I know has told me, “Um, the only way you get better at writing is by writing.” It’s obvious, but it took me a while to hear it and act on it.

When I want to write, I turn to Christopher Hitchens for inspiration and guidance. I find every sentence well-crafted and the whole structure of almost everything he does just mesmerizing. He’s working above most opinion and reporting writers even when’s just tossing something off.


You may find some of Hitch’s work disagreeable. Indeed, the work I’m reading now is Letters to Young Contrarian and it is highly recommended. Within the first few pages he successfully steers you away from categorizing him as a mere naysayer, but rather someone with an awful lot to say, especially on topics that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. And it’s all done with light but deep prose that I don’t find anywhere else.

Part of the joy of Hitchens is his encyclopedic quote work, especially of people outside my normal range of familiarity. I’m less than halfway through but he’s already provided me with Harold Rosenberg referring to his friends as “the herd of intellectual minds.” How about a little Latin: Fiat justitia — ruat caelum. “Do justice, and let the skies fall.” And then a reminder that the cliche “miscarriage of justice” has the (perhaps intended) effect of pardoning all parties involved. Miscarriages happen. Most of the time what people mean is “abortions of justice,” but perhaps that’s a bit on the nose.

His brief but powerful examination of Emile Zola and the Dreyfus years in France also has me wondering what the hell happened to journalism in the United States. Hitchens would and did call them cowards. I’m fairly convinced.

Oh, and I read his Mortality while I was sick last year. It helped.

So read this book. Read Hitchens. Be delighted. Be enraged. Disagree with him and with me. He loves conflict and wants you to love it too. Because out of conflict comes truth and life. He quotes Aldous Huxley:

“Homer was wrong,” wrote Heracleitus of Ephesus. “Homer was wrong in saying: ‘Would that strife might perish from among the gods and men!’ He did not see that he praying for the destruction of the universe; for if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away.” These are the words on which the superhumanists should meditate. Aspiring toward a consistent perfection, they are aspiring toward annihilation. The Hindus had the wit to see and the courage to proclaim the fact; Nirvana, the goal of their striving, is nothingness. Wherever life exists, there also is inconsistency, division, strife.


Dungeon, Fire, Sword and a disappointing re-read


It’s amazing how much your taste in literature can change in 20 years. When I first read John J. Robinson’s Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades when it first came out in around 1992, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. What’s not to like: war, adventure, chivalry, deceit, corruption, conspiracy, religious conflict on the grand stage of history, and all true.

Today, its ponderous, filled with political and battle detail that seems extraneous to the actual history of the Templars, and just not very well written. Years ago I gave this book as a gift to people who were interested in the medieval world. I couldn’t do that today.

That said, a detailed history of the crusades is worth reviewing for a few reminders:

  1. It was never really about religion, although it was certainly sold that way. It was about siphoning off second and third sons from Western Europe and sticking it to the Byzantines.
  2. By the end, the Christian crusader states were perfectly happy with peace with their Muslim neighbors, because everyone was making a nice living from trade with the East. But people get greedy and warlike.
  3. It’s not just about Christians and Muslims. The Sunni-Shi’a divide made the early Crusades possible, and the appearance of the Mongols briefly prolonged the shrinking Crusader states.
  4. It is a crime that the Battle of Ain Jalut (linked above) gets zero coverage in most history reviews of the period.
  5. In a world where strength was right, I still find it fascinating that the powers of the day, including King Philip of France and Pope Clement, went through such amazingly circuitous proceedings to get the Templars disbanded and take their stuff. Even in 1300s Europe, where torture, rape and murder were the political norm, it was somehow important to make the whole thing look legit.