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Francis Siefken
groks board games, cellular automata and life's meaning
groks board games, cellular automata and life's meaning

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After months of deciding between getting a copy of Mage Knight, Magic Realm, Star Trek: Frontiers or Gloomhaven (which gets raving reviews by solo boardgamers at the moment) I tracked down the perhaps last European copy of the unconventional and underrated out-of-print game 'Shadows of Malice' by former professor Jim Felli. He has some interesting scientific publications by the way.
Relative (!) rule simplicity, design esthetics, smaller table space and emergent game play were key decision factors for me. He is working on a second expansion for the game, which is set in the fantasy world of Aethos and is in part inspired by Babylon5 and the Zelda series.

An interview with him about the game can be read in these links:

The three sisters of Aethos dancing on the tunes of the dark ambient Midnight Syndicate (never heard of it, but it sounds great).
Priestesses of Shadow, Sha'Sylin and Sha'Mirim

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Thoughts on the ancient relationship between games, ritual and divination by Wim van Binsbergen (Leiden University), expert on the Sanoma religion and African spirituality in general.

* Time, Space and history in African divination and history
* "Board-games and divination in global cultural history, a theoretical, comparative and historical perspective on mankala and geomancy in Africa and Asia
* African divination across time and space: the typology, intercontinental connections, prehistory, and intercultural
epistemology of sub-Saharan mantics
* African Spirituality, an Approach from Intercultural Philosophy

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Already 5 years ago Jozef Zycinski died of a heart attack aged 62. One of the great minds who had something to say on modernity vis-a-vis religion.
Fr. Adam Boniecki, editor-in-chief of the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszcechny, said the archbishop was “a face of the Polish Church.” “Listening to him, many people breathed a sigh of relief that one can think in this way,” he said.

God and Evolution: Fundamental Questions of Christian Evolutionism
Jozef Zycinki (2012)

God and Post-Modern Thought (2010)

The Philosophical Vision of Jozef Zycinski. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture Vol. 15, No. 1. Winter 2012
By Heller, Michael

Talk: Joseph Zycinski: Nature, Humanity, and God
2012 Darwin in the 21st Century

Evolution and Christian Thought in Dialog according to the Teaching of John Paul II. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture. Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2006. pp. 13-27

Talk: Rationality or Pure Pragmatism?
The basic role of human values in the transformation of contemporary culture
April 9, 1999 The Catholic University of America

Joseph Zycinski: Metropolitan Archbishop of Lublin Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Lublin and Professor of Philosopher Science.


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Claudy and I were watching 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' a day before David Bowie died. While not about David Bowie it had great scenes 'ground control to major Tom' and I recommend watching it. It's one of two movies inspired by a short story (1939) by James Thurber.
As a generation X'er - another clip I remember is David Bowie as resistance fighter in the French computer game Omikron: The Nomad Soul (1997) and lead singer of the underground band 'The Dreamers'. It was such a surprise 'meeting' David Bowie "in game" and having a private concert! While the 3D graphics are nothing compared to today, the immersiveness was there through the great art and story - and that's all that matters in gameplay.
Another Bowie moment important to me occurred my twenties ('97) and was watching an incredible selection on MTV. One of the 'little wonder' - I was "so far away"! Thanks David and Floria Sigismondi (video art).
As a teenager I bought the dvd soundtrack to the fantasy movie Labyrinth. No idea where it is now and if it's still playable but the memories are still there, until they inevitably fade as well.
There are more personal greatest bowie hits to be found, but time is almost up. I end with a link to the greatest tribute ever by commander astronaut Chris Hadfield in the ISS:
Dankon Jareth, Major Tom, Little Wonder!

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Ending 2015 A.D. with a 'Mission Red Planet' with three competing industrials from the steampunk era of 1888 while the kids are asleep. All the best in your futures fellow astronauts on spaceship earth!

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Tried it out at the pool yesterday... I have to work at holding my breath and stay calm.

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Get your priorities straight, always wrap up what you were doing before switching to something else

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Today Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich won a prize for her works of non-fiction, "a monument to courage and suffering in our time", it was said. She said in 2000: "The genre in which I work is the genre of authenticity". 
Our parents told their own similar stories to my brother and me as they were also young children when the war started. And now old and young people have these same old or new stories to tell if they survived. Human tragedy remains the same everywhere regardless of time and place.

One of Alexievich's works is "The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories", here is the Introduction:
"On the morning of the twenty-second June, 1941, on one of the streets in Brest, lay a dead little girl with small unplaited pigtails and her doll.
Many people remembered this girl. They remembered her forever. What is dearer to us that our children?
What is dearer to any nation? To any mother?
To any father?
But who counts how many children are killed by war, which kills them twice?
It kills those that been born. And it kills those that could, that ought to have come into this world. In "Requiem" by the Byelorussian poet Anatoli Vertinsky a children's choir is heard across the field where the dead soldiers lay -- the unborn children scream and cry over every common grave.
Is a child going through the horrors of war still a child? Who gives him back his childhood? Once Dostoevsky posed the problem of general happiness in relation to the suffering of a single child.
Yet there were thousands like this during the years 1941 to 1945...
What will they remember? What can they retell? They must retell! Because even today in some places bombs are exploding, bullets are whistling, missiles reduce houses to crumbs and dusat and children's beds burn. Because even today someone wants widespread war, a universal Hiroshima, in whose atomic fire children would evaporate like drops of water, wither like terrible flowers.
We can ask what is heroic in five-ten-twelve-year olds going through war?
What can children understand, see, remember?
A lot!
What do they remember about their mother? About their father? Only their death: "A button from mother's jacket remained on the pieses of coal. And in the stove there were two small loaves of warm bread". (Anya Tochitskaya -- 5 years old.) "As father was being torn to pieses by Alsations he shouted: "Take my son away... Take my son away so he doesn't seet it." (Sasha Khvalei -- 7 years old.)
Moreover they can tell how they died of hunger and fear. How they ran away to the front, how other people adopted them. How, even now, it is difficult to ask them about mummy.
Today they are the last witnesses of those tragic days. After them there is no one else.
But they are forty years older than their memory. And when I asked them, to remember it was not easy for them. For them to go back to that state, to those concrete sensations of childhood would seem impossible. But an amazing thing happened. One could suddenly see in a woman with greying hair a small girl imploring a soldier, "Don't hide my mummy in a hole, she will wake up and then we will walk on." (Katya Shepelyevich -- 4 years old.)
Blessed is our lack of defence against our memory. What would we be without it? A man without a memory is only capable of doing evil, nothing else but evil.
In answer to the question "Who then is the hero of this book?" I would say: childhood which was burnt, shot, and killed by bombs, bullets, hunger, fear and by fatherlessness. For the record: in children's homes in Byelorussia in nineteen forty-five, twenty-six thousand nine hundred orphans were brought up. And one more figure -- about thirteen million children perished during the Second World War.
Who can now say how many of them were Russian children, how many Byelorussian, how many Polish or French. Children died -- citizens of the world.
The children of my Byelorussia were saved by the whole country and brought up by the whole country. In the big children's choir I hear their voices.
Tamara Tomashevich remembers to this day how in the children's home in Khvalynsk on the Volga, not one of the grown-ups raised their voice to the children until the time that their hair had grown after the journey. And Zhenya Korpachev, evacuated from Minsk to Tashkent, has not forgotten the old Uzbek woman who brought a blanket to the station for him and his mother. The first Soviet soldier in liberated Minsk picked up four-year-old Galya Zabavchik in his arms and she called him "daddy". Nella Vershok recalls how our soldiers, walked about their village and the children looked at them and shouted, "Our daddies are coming. Our daddies."
Children are very best people on earth. How can we protect them in this troubled twentieth century? How can we preserve their souls and their lives? And both our past and our future with them?
How can we preserve our planet on which little girls are supposed to sleep in their beds, and not lie dead on the road with unplaited pigtails? And so that childhood would never again be called war-time childhood.
In the name of such womanly faith as mine, this book is written!"
ps. The text is taken from the author's homepage, the picture below is of a War Children’s Victims Monument in Czech Republic. Seperate artists, but they fit through a common theme.

Remember the old Picture-in-Picture mode the new TV's were marketed with in the 90ties? You could keep an eye on a channel while watching your main one.
This guy "Omni Verse" on youtube has most of my older favorite series merged into individual pieces. He has done so with regard to for example all the Transformers G1-2-3, Logan's Run, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Blake's 7 episodes. It's a great idea for revisiting those memories, helicoptering over the story not just go through it linearly. It would be nice to switch the audio track on the focus of the eye and fade out the rest automatically. I wonder if you could do the same with re-reading older books, just split the chapters and auto-scroll them... or make it more interactive. 
Of course certain series have gotten a computer role playing game or a real world role playing game, or a fighting game or are based on books or have books written in the same narrative universe. Some series have toys. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book has a Interactive Fiction equivalent and a movie. Star Trek has movies, boardgames, series, rpg's etc. Some boardgames or fan variants have surprisingly thematic gameplay based on these modern day narratives. Lost has a great boardgame adaptation as a fanvariant of another game, Star Trek (as ST:Fleet Captains), Colditz, postapocalyptic zombies with 'Dawn of the Zeds 3rd edition', Bladerunner with a computer game and the Android boardgame, Dune has a boardgame... even early christianity (religion in itself could be seen as a meta-narrative) can played out by boardgames like the upcoming Commisioned and the upcoming re-issue of Credo.
I remember some movie or theatre experiments where at certain points spectators could choose the course of the story (alternate endings, what if scenario's). Fans have taken matters in their own hands and create fanfiction (there's a lot of transformer fan fiction) and complete fanshows with episodes in the same universe.
In the future we'll have VR series where you can switch between the characters real time and experience the story as if you were there. Orson Scott Card did that with the book Ender's Game, writing a new book based on the original but then from the point of view of the other characters.
I miss 'Il était une fois, Battle of the Planets, Robotech, The Highwayman, Chocky, Under the Mountain, Nowhere Man, McGyver, Blue Thunder, Airwolf... so many good stories to revisit. And we must not forget, we also have the stories of life itself. All these series, themes and thoughts can serve to enhance our understanding and appreciation of them.

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"[...] I found something worrying about the fact that the superhero film audience was now almost entirely composed of adults, men and women in their thirties, forties and fifties who were eagerly lining up to watch characters and situations that had been expressly created to entertain the twelve year-old boys of fifty years ago. I not only feel this is a valid point, I also believe it to be fairly self-evident to any disinterested observer. To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times."

-- Alan Moore
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