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On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: fifteen

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — surprise, surprise — this isn’t the #15 I expected and predicted ]
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In Two eminently watchable TV series by Hugo Blick I looked at narrative artistry as an approach to understanding complex problems — and I do mean complex, the Israeli-Palestinian and Hutu-Tutsi errh, situations..

Here, we consider artistry of another sort — polyphonic, graphical, yet still clearly artistic in execution ..

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Here’s a drawing from Victor Papanek‘s Notebook — and very notebook it is — courtesy Roelof Pieters:

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Compare the above with this example of Mark Lombardi‘s fine art “conspiracy” graphs from his book, Global Networks:

We’re getting positively calligraphic here, and approaching the scope of one of those Song dynasty scroll paintings that feature (am I right? memory, imagination!) a hermit disappearing into his cave in some obscure not quite corner of the scroll, while thunder wreaks havoc on armies by a river in almost center field..

Speaking of which..

Ah, but we’re straggling away from our topic: On the felicities of graph-based game-board design. The point is that the arts have many inventive ways to approach complexity.

I mean, we could start with Hamlet..

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Earlier in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: seven
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eight
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: nine
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: ten
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eleven
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: twelve
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: thirteen
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: fourteen
  • Two eminently watchable TV series by Hugo Blick

    Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — I suspect Mike Sellers & Ali Minai might find them of interest as subtle narrative avenues into complexity ]
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    I’ve been watching Black Earth Rising , British writer-director Hugo Blick‘s latest series, starring Michaela Coel:

    As with his earlier series, The Honourable Woman featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, I’m transfixed. Here is complexity delivered — in both cases, brilliantly — on TV:

    Once Blick puts down his first card, as a viewer you think, “Oh, that’s good. That will be interesting.” Then he essentially flips the other 51 into the air and lets them fall all over the script. That’s the ambitious beauty of The Honorable Woman, which explodes across each episode with elaborate twists involving the Israelis, the Palestinians, the British and the Americans.

    **

    Sources:

  • Hollywood Reporter, The Complicated, Ambitious Brilliance of ‘The Honorable Woman’
  • Hollywood Reporter, ‘Black Earth Rising’: TV Review
  • IndieWire, Netflix Thriller Shows the Danger of Treating Global Politics Like a Game
  • **

    I have been discussing systems dynamics and complexity with my game designer friend Mike Sellers recently — see his brilliant book, Advanced Game Design: A Systems Approach — and complexity, glass bead games and AI with a new friend, Ali Minai — hear our podcast at BrownPundits. Let’s make it clear: I’m the student here.

    In the course of our discussion, I’d written:

    I think of novels and plays as offering approaches to an intuitive grasp of complex situations

    and

    I think polyphony and counterpoint are what we meet with in the social world, and indeed in our conflicted minds and hearts, and that Bach will prove to be the great master of our age, once we’ve matured enough to learn from him. But listening must come first, and that seems a skill that’s wildly at variance with our times..

    Mike responded:

    Novels and plays give us, I think, something of an implicit systemic view, in that we understand how a greater whole (a love story, a tragedy, etc.) emerges from the mutual interactions between actors. Same with counterpoint and polyphony — the notes mutually interact at the same time, and set up call-and-response interaction within our minds across time, to create a larger experienced whole from the entire musical piece.

    I’m trying to make those relationships more explicit and more generalized, seeing the commonalities in books, music, biology, and games

    so — for both Mike and Ali — I’d recommend these two Hugo Blick series as contemporary works of Shakespearean subtlety, to consider as avenues into coomplexity. And although I lack the linguistic skills to appreciate him I’m sure Ali would like to add the Urdu poet Ghalib to the list..

    So that’s my interest.

    Complexity, what is it? Which avenue takes us deepest into the heart of the matter?

    **

    Hugo Blick?

    Hugo Blick, who likes to teach the ambiguities to which a probing sense of morality will necessarily find itself subject, might like to examine “Combat charities” in the West and their jihadi twin:

    A NEW PHENOMENON OF THE 21ST CENTURY BATTLEFIELD

    “Combat charities”—entities that seek to provide non-profit military and political assistance to weaker armed groups or minorities resisting the military onslaught of others (like ISIS)—are one mechanism for foreign anti-ISIS volunteers to join the fight. “Combat charities” are a new rising phenomenon of the 21st century battlefield and political dispensation. They can significantly affect both local orders and international politics. [ … ]

    Thousands of Western foreign fighters have traveled to the Middle East in recent years to join the fighting that has engulfed the region. They have overwhelmingly participated on the side of jihadi organizations like the Islamic State (ISIS) or the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the Nusra Front).

    However, a smaller and often unnoticed segment of these volunteers has embedded with groups that resist the jihadis, such as Kurdish, Assyrian, and Yazidi militias. These fighters vary in their motivations for joining the fight: Some are driven by moral outrage and seek to prevent the atrocities minority groups have suffered at the hands of the jihadis, while others are motivated by co-religionist solidarity. Some seek a sense of adventure and the adrenaline highs of military tourism, while others wish to escape problems at home, finding in the fight a form of self-medicating for post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems. [ … ]

    THE WESTERN PATHBREAKERS

    SOLI is the oldest and most established combat charity in the world. Founded and led by American citizen Matthew VanDyke, it operates in Iraq, and is building abilities to operate in Syria and North Africa. Since its creation in 2014, SOLI has helped form, train, and to certain extent equip the two largest Assyrian militias in northern Iraq fighting against ISIS. [ … ]

    …AND THEIR JIHADI TWIN

    Founded in May 2016, Malhama Tactical is the first sunni jihadi private military company. As Rao Komar, Christian Borys, and Eric Woods reported in Foreign Policy magazine in February, during its short existence Malhama Tactical has provided training and battlefield consulting for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaida) and the Turkistan Islamic Party, an Uighur extremist group from China’s restive Xinjiang province.

    Get that? Rival combat charities to throw a heavy dose of ambiguity into the already three-cornered Syrian situation..

    IMO, these combat charities on both sides of an already fraught situation might make excellent fodder for Hugo Blick‘s subtle story-telling mind..

    **

    Viewing:

  • Netflix, Black Earth Rising
  • Amazon, The Honorable Woman
  • Further reading — the full combat charities report:

  • Brookings, Combat charities or when humanitarians go to war:
  • Sunday surprise — Xanatos and other Gambits, &c

    Sunday, January 27th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — (some of) what gaming, TV watching & quotation mining can get you in terms of strategy ]
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    First off, let me thank Trent Telenko for turning me onto the Xanatos Gambit at at ChicagoBoyx, which started me on this particular chose of a gaggle of wild geese..

    The Xanatos Gambit caught my eye by virtue of its decision flow chart [you start at the top]:

    That’s brilliant — not a win-win play, but an i-win-anyway ploy. [Linguists — remind me whether ploy is a warped variant of play, will you?] And Trent then identifies the Xanatos Gambit as Donald Trump’s characteristic play.. ploy.

    Here’s an explanatory para::

    A Xanatos Gambit is a plan for which all foreseeable outcomes benefit the creator — including ones that superficially appear to be failure. The creator predicts potential attempts to thwart the plan, and arranges the situation such that the creator will ultimately benefit even if their adversary “succeeds” in “stopping” them. When faced with a Xanatos Gambit the options are either to accept that the creator will get the upper hand and choose the outcome that is least beneficial to them, or to defeat them by finding a course that they didn’t predict.

    Another:

    A Xanatos Gambit is a Plan whose multiple foreseen outcomes all benefit its creator. It’s a win-win situation for whoever plots it.

    Here’s a quote from a source unknown to me: Cavilo, The Vor Game:

    The key to strategy… is not to choose a path to victory, but to choose so that all paths lead to a victory.

    Xanatos Gambit / Real Life

    In the casino business they say that the house always wins, and indeed, it’s true. When gamblers lose all their money, the house gets rich, but when someone has a lucky streak and wins big, this only serves to encourage others to take more risks, which means the house will actually get even richer in the long run for having “lost” some money to a big winner. The law of large numbers is on their side, after all. This is, in short, how casinos can stay in business—they virtually always turn a profit on the actual gambling

    Okay, here the geese gaggle in formation after the Gambit. Our clue:

    Xanatos Speed Chess trumps Xanatos Gambits.

    **

    Xanatos Speed Chess:

    Cosmo Lavish, a Terry Pratchett banker character from Discworld, saith:

    Plans can break down. You cannot plan the future. Only presumptuous fools plan. The wise man steers.

    I agree wholeheartedly with “You cannot plan the future” — a point I’ve made in my Art of Future Warfare entries

    And since we’re in Chess territory:

    The Chessmaster:

    What? That I used two fourteen-year-old pawns to turn a knight and topple a king? It’s chess, Daniel. Of course you don’t understand.

    Unwitting Pawn

    Tend to be played by The Chessmaster, logically enough.

    **

    Well, I could go on, but let me just list some of the pages I came across, and invite you to look where your interests take you..

    Gambit Roulette

    A convoluted Plan that relies on events completely within the realm of chance yet comes off without a hitch.

    How can anyone, even skilled conspirators, predict with perfect accuracy the outcome of a car crash? How can they know in advance that a man will go to a certain pay phone at a certain time, so that he can see a particular truck he needs to see? How can the actions of security guards be accurately anticipated? Isn’t it risky to hinge an entire plan of action on the hope that the police won’t stop a car speeding recklessly through a downtown area?

    If your first reaction to seeing the plan unfold is “There is no way that you planned that!”, then it’s roulette.

    The Trickster

    This fellow coyote is,
    fellow the road-runner is but a shadow of, is
    by definition, tricky, has
    a penis can cross
    the Ventura freeway
    in seek of skirt, whose
    penis maybe run over
    by fate’s own eighteen wheeler..

    Poem of mine.

    The Fool:

    Well, I see the Fool differently:

    I claim the final authority, rule
    from the steps below the throne.
    Kings look to me for approval, fool
    that I am, for at court, I alone
    see all men as wind in a cage of bone.

    Another poem of mine — brought down from the attic.

    A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma

    That’s Churchill, Winston:

    I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.

    Riddle for the Ages
    Secret Identity Identity
    Multilayer Facade
    Gambit Pileup

    **

    There is also:

    Knight Templar:

    This fellow interests me because of my recent 5,000 word foray into Templar territory, Templarios: Echoes of the Templars and Parallels Elsewhere for Doc Bunker‘s next volume — but what really struck me was the quote used as an epigraph to the topic. It’s from James Baldwin:

    Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

    One delicious ouroboros and miscellaneous chyrons &c

    Friday, January 25th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — all the way through to Roger Stone and a clip from Godfather II ]
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    First, in the place of honor, this brilliant sign protesting the government shutdown. Ouroboric in form, simple, succinct, pithy:

    That’s a protest haiku, if ever I saw one, in a detail from the original photo.

    **

    And while we’re on the topic of haikus, chyrons — those texts at the foot of TV screens — are the haiku of news media. Here are some I’ve collected recently — I’ll add more here as we go, since adding them in the comments section requires tweeting them so as to have a URL to work with..

    As I’ve said elsewhere, that Carter Page, Michael Caputo, Sam Nunberg, Jerome Corsi joint interview by Ari Melber was fantastic television.

    **

    I generally pick chyrons to screengrab for their game or war metaphors, but pithy and witty will get me every time.

    **

    Kelly O’Donnell (immediately above) said memorably, “It’s a sort of dueling banjos of legislation..”

    Hey:

    Double #FAIL

    And now, the Roger Stone indictment, with its movie reference. There have been plenty of pundits an news anchors referencing the Godfather movies, and that “textbook mob tactics” reference from the new chairmen of the Oversight and Intel committees. but AFAIK this is the first such reference from the Mueller team in a court document, and notable as such.

    Plus I guess I’ll need to revisit the Godfather series to keep up with current affairs..

    PCMatic: at war, the people’s militia, resistance .. and metaphors?

    Friday, January 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — an ad that blew my mind, mil metaphor piled on mil metaphor, and various ways to name theenemy, eh? — troika, wolf pack.. ]
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    Here we go.

    I was staggered to see the number of military / militant references inj this commercial —

  • our country is at war,
  • a cyber war
  • the enemy, ransomeware, is rapidly growing in sophistication
  • the enemy is exploiting a hole in our defenses
  • we are pcmatic, the people’s militia to defeat the ransomware empire
  • patriots of the resistance
  • we believe we can build an army
  • we will defeat this enemy and win the war
  • join the ransomware resistance.
  • This is the largest cluster of related metaphors I’ve seen in an ad, and I’m curious as to its rhetorical intent..

    **

    Tina Nguyen has written a fascinating piece for Vanity Fair’s Hive on the metaphors we use for The Enemy, better known perhaps as Them:

  • Axis of evil
  • Network of death
  • Troika of tyranny
  • Triangle of terror
  • Sordid cradle of Communism in the Western Hemisphere
  • Wolf pack of rogue states

  • Cabal of Crazies
  • Circle of Scoundrels
  • League of Extraordinary Villains
  • Oh so much more potent than calling them Hostile statesWolf pack of rogue states is superb!

    The first set above presents ye actual efforts by various pols to provide metaphorical aid to the othering of our enemies — propaganda at its most succinct — whereas the second set consists of jokers’ parodies & the like — second order propaganda at the expense of the first.

    **

    I’ll be using the comments section of this post for further “collections” (metaphors of war, sports, etc, headlines, chyrons, misc items of interest), and may add some stellar examples — if they “fit” — here in this post.


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