Review of a “poetic” game about the suffering of war

June 3, 2016 at 2:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I know there is a very limited audience for this: a long video by a professor who could stand a haircut talking about a table game. But I find this all heartening. It is heartening that someone designed this game, The Grizzled, which is a cooperative card-based game about six WWI soldiers trying to help each other survive. It’s heartening that a professor — Marco Arnaudo, who teaches in Indiana — would make such an in-depth video about it. It is heartening that there is enough of an audience, at least, to provide several thoughtful comments about the video.

This also may be interesting if you were not aware that there is a community of gamers who are proud to be “unplugged” and who look for face-to-face table games. I found this video on the site Board Game Geek, which is all about this attitude.

Video review of The Grizzled from BoardGameGeek and Marco Arnaudo




Too little defense spending?

February 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Gallup poll shows that more Americans think we are spending too little on our military than at any time since 2002 (i.e. right after 9/11):

It’s a minority of Americans, 37%, but this is still a plurality compared to those who say we spend too much, or “the right” amount. And the number has been a fairly steep climb for the past two years or so.

The National Priorities Project puts U.S. military spending at $598.5 billion for FY 2015. This is about 37% of the world total:

SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, put it at $609 billion for 2014 on their downloadable spreadsheet here:

SIPRI lists total world military spending as $1.77 trillion, so the US share in that case would be about 35%.

The Center for Defense Information calls it $573 billion, although they write about budget “gimmicks” that conceal a larger total:

The National Priorities Project pegs our spending at more than the next 9 nations combined:

Not bad for a nation with less than 5% of the world population.

Do Gallup polls matter? Do these people vote? Does it have any bearing on eventual spending?  Who knows . . .







Kennewick Man (and the implications for universal peace and harmony!)

September 3, 2014 at 2:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

K-ManI always enjoy reading about ancient remains; last week we were given details about Kennewick Man from Smithsonian magazine. He was a traveler who died about 9,000 years ago in what is now southern Washington state.

I enjoy reading these stories, but they can be depressing because they demonstrate that people’s lives back then were indeed often nasty, brutish, and short.

Otzi the Iceman from northern Italy is a fine example. When he was first found, I remember that no one knew the cause of death. I read conjectures that he died of a heart attack, fell face down in the snow, and then a bird came and pecked his head. Not a very glorious or solemn end, but hey, there are worse ways to go.

THEN it turned out that he had an arrow lodged in his back . . . so he was likely shot from behind, and then he fell down into the snow and after he was dead a bird came and pecked his head.

THEN it was discovered that he was covered with the blood of two or three other people, and he had a skull fracture, plus defensive wounds on his hands, plus the arrow in the back.  Jeez, the bird pecking a hole in his scalp was an improvement for this guy compared to what he’d been through.

Who cares? Why mention this on a peace blog? Because, for me, it seems more unlikely we will ever live in a peaceful world if humans seem hardwired for violence — and so many old skeletons we find do indeed betray spectacular violence. I feel like just throwing in the towel when I read about how hard humans have tried to destroy one another for so long.

And Kennewick Man’s contribution to this? Well, scientists don’t know what killed him, but they do know that he had two small skull fractures, which he survived; and six broken ribs, which he also survived and which never healed properly; and he also had a spear tip lodged in his pelvis.

Furthermore, the Smithsonian article states that about half of ancient skulls in America have fractures similar to his. The most likely explanation is that people threw a lot of rocks at each other. Half of ancient American skulls.

So this is the raw material we are working with, from which we hope to come up with a peaceful society.

Maybe we should just be encouraged that we have lowered the incidence of skull fractures and spearing so drastically. Perhaps we are more than halfway home.

Working up a healthy hate: Mike Royko column

August 2, 2014 at 11:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is a column from Mike Royko from early 1991. Royko was a newspaper columnist in Chicago. Several “best of” collections of his essays have been published, but I don’t know if this one is in any of them. I’ve saved a clipping of it all these years.

Working up a great big healthy hate

By Mike Royko

Although the shooting hasn’t begun yet, I’ve been trying to work up a healthy hatred for Iraq. It seems like the patriotic thing to do. And I’ve always believed that if people go through the bother of killing each other, they shouldn’t be impersonal about it. After all, it is a very intimate act.

Although I haven’t reached the point of gnashing my teeth at the thought of an Iraqi, I’m sure it will come because I’ve had so much experience at this sort of thing.

The first time I developed a patriotic hatred was in 1939, when newsboys came through the neighborhood at night, waving special editions and shouting, “Extra, extra, Germany invades Poland.”

Although I was just a kid, within a couple years I dutifully hated Germans, Japanese, and Italians. (I didn’t hate Italians very long, though, because they surrendered as soon as it was convenient.)

At the same time, I loved and admired the brave Russians and Chinese because they had joined us in hating the evil Germans, Japanese and Italians.

But as soon as World War II ended, and I could stop hating the Germans and Japanese because they weren’t evil anymore, I had to start hating the brave Russians and Chinese, because they weren’t brave anymore, but had become evil.

While I was adjusting to that, along came the North Koreans. Even though I didn’t know a North Korean from a South Korean, or any Korean from a chipmunk, I went along and hated them. The North Koreans.

Not long after that, I discovered that I could still hate some Germans. Not West Germans, because they had become good and even gave us some of their ex-Nazi scientists to help us build rockets. But East Germans had become evil commies, and were to be hated.

But this created some confusion, since Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other countries had become commies, too, so I felt a responsibility to hate them. But I was told that they didn’t really want to be commies: the Russians made them do it. So I didn’t have to hate them as much as I hated the Russians and Chinese.

Then came Cuba. I had never paid much attention to Cuba because I didn’t smoke cigars. But when a heroic Fidel Castro overthrew an evil, corrupt regime, I was urged to admire the heroic Castro, which I did, although he looked like he needed a bath. Then, almost overnight, Castro became an evil commie and I had to start hating Cuba. My hatred reached the boiling point when we had the Cuban missile crisis. But in recent years, it’s been reduced to a simmer.

Naturally, I joined in really hating North Vietnam. And some Cambodians, although I’m still not certain which Cambodians I was supposed to hate. It’s possible that in the confusion I was hating Cambodians that I should have been liking, in which case I apologize.

The 1960s may have been one of my hate-peaks, second only to the 1940s. I found myself hating the Russians, Chinese, North Vietnam and Cuba, while still nursing an intense dislike for North Korea, and not thinking highly of Albania. There were a few other countries I occasionally cursed, but their names slip my mind.

Shortly thereafter, though, President Nixon said I didn’t have to hate the Chinese anymore, although I wasn’t expected to hug them. And I haven’t hated them since, except for that recent month or two when I could again hate them because of the way they kicked around their students. But that seems to have calmed down and President Bush says it’s OK not to hate them, so I don’t.

In fact, I don’t have to hate the Russians, or hardly anyone in Europe because we’ve become pals and they’re all eager to eat quarter pounders with cheese like decent folk do.

And it couldn’t have happened at a better time, because of the need to hate Iraq. I can be vicious, but I have only so much hatred to spread around.

Actually, it isn’t that hard to hate Iraq. It’s simply a matter of shifting my hatred a few miles. Until recently, I hated Iran and kind of liked Iraq because it was fighting against Iran. But now that it’s time to hate Iraq, it’s not necessary to hate Iran. Unless Iran cuts a friendly deal with Iraq, in which case I’ll have to hate it again. Iran, I mean.

Fortunately, there is less pressure to hate some of the other Arab nations, which I formerly hated because they went in for terrorism. But now they say they hate Iraq, too, which means that I can like them. At least for the time being. Things can change quickly and I might have to start hating them once more, so I’m not going to like them a lot just in case.

I wonder if there will come a time when there isn’t anyone I have to hate. Nah. Not as long as there are New York Mets.




Dear Hollywood: We will look at Scarlett even if she is gunless

July 29, 2014 at 3:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

scar2Scarlett Johansson has a new film, and several publicity stills from the film show her holding guns.

Um, you know what, Hollywood? Scarlett is one actor we will watch, at least half of us, even if she is not holding a gun.


But we can never forget Michael Scott’s famous teaching:

michael scott 3


Allow me to make this tragedy even more tragic

July 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

forpeace6These are difficult months for a peace blogger.

The first, let’s say, 200 things I might blog about are all painfully obvious and would be dull to write about for all concerned, so let me work my way down the list until I get to a connection which is maybe not too unoriginal:

The calm Ukrainians. An article by William Booth in the Washington Post very early on in the Ukraine fiasco struck me. He wrote about the crowds of Ukrainians who were touring the abandoned estate of former President Viktor Yanukovych, and how orderly they were:


“I have never experienced a more orderly and polite mob than the one that surged through the gates at ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s vast compound. I have seen more unruly gangs at Epcot Center.  . . .  The people gawked, they gaped, they stared, but nobody touched a thing. I saw a young teacher stoop to police the cigarette butts carelessly discarded by others on the brick walkway to the ostrich farm. Blue trash bags, not hated security ministers, were hung from lamp posts.”

I read this and thought to myself: Holy cow, we may have a peaceful transfer of power, here.  What a nice break from what we’ve seen in Egypt, Syria, etc.

But of course, it was not to be. One friend of my mine blames the Russians for this. Whatever the explanation, these horrible months in Ukraine seem all the worse because we had a glimpse of what might have been.





The most exciting thing

May 12, 2014 at 2:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You can’t argue with Michael Scott.

michael scott 3


“Vote the atheist in as wanting to remind Christians about Christ”

April 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

peace flagHere follows the text of an email that John Judge (University of Dayton ’69, died last week — see post below) sent to me a few years ago.

He wrote this because I had asked him how he felt about my including some words about Christian teachings on a website in which he is mentioned. John was an atheist. He told me:

I see nothing wrong with introducing Catholics to scripture and the clear position taken by Christ, whom they claim to worship and emulate, regarding violence and peace. It’s one of the few areas where a quote cannot be taken out of context, because love and peace were the true religion of Christ.

Religions have aligned themselves with the state and state-sponsored violence for most of history, and their false teachings have been used as the excuse for wars and crusades and inquisitions. I once suggested that UD change its motto from Pro Deo et Patria to Pro Patria et Deo, since that was clearly its real ordering of priorities.

People who invoke Christ and the Bible to justify hatred, prejudice and war are perverting the whole message that Christ preached. Those who claim to follow Christ must constantly be reminded what he said and did and where he stood on violence and hate as well as love and peace. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” “Those who say they love God but not their neighbor are lying.” Let there be “no more of that” as you quote.

Whole theologies in favor of militarism have been invented by perverting the meaning of a few random quotes instead of looking at the whole context and the consistent message of peace, which the whole Christian community that grew from his teachings followed. I studied all the religious leaders and their consciousness, and in all cases the universal religion is one of love, not one of hate, revenge, war and living by rules. Guilt paralyzes, conscience informs, consciousness transcends. Not only did Christ preach against war and violence, he lived out love in so many ways and countered false consciousness as well. So, vote the atheist in as wanting to remind the Christians about Christ – John Judge

The site with John’s biography:

The page I asked him about:


Heaven better be fair and transparent, because John Judge is coming

April 24, 2014 at 2:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My friend John Judge died last week. He lived in Washington, DC and, like me, was a graduate of the University of Dayton. He was 66. He suffered a stroke in January, and died on the day that he was moved out of a hospital and into a rehabilitation center.

I was introduced to John by another University of Dayton (UD) alum who knew that I was publicly raising questions about the military contracting at UD. UD is a Catholic university which, among other things, has taken huge government contracts to maintain the Minuteman III nuclear missile system. Catholic teaching condemns nuclear weapons, so I have pointed out the contradiction for some years.

John had beaten me to the point by a couple decades; he was instrumental, for one thing, in ending mandatory ROTC membership at UD back when he was a student there. In the 1960s, all male students at UD had been required to join the ROTC, until John and others lobbied to end the practice during the Vietnam War.

Judge was also a co-founder of CHOICES, an organization engaged since 1985 in providing information to D.C.-area high school students about the negative aspects of, and alternatives to, military  service.  He had also worked with several service members who had become conscientious objectors while in the military; I heard several of them thank him at his annual birthday dinners.  More on those in a moment.

John was also, safe to say, a conspiracy theorist. He believed that the shooting of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s was an assassination attempt by, in a nutshell, the military-industrial complex. He believed that there were U.S. government ties to the Guyana massacre of Jim Jones’s followers, whenever that was — 1978? He had many other similar ideas. I did not agree with them, and it made some of our conversations uncomfortable. But still, John was the one person — the one single person, ever — who would call me out of the blue to recommend things like a peace book that he thought I would like, or an article about the latest weapons contract at UD.

John threw himself a huge birthday party every December in D.C., inviting, apparently, everyone he knew.  Between 20 and 50 people would be there.  I went most years. I made it to his final party, this past December, and obviously I am glad I did.

Here is an excerpt from his invitation to his birthday party in 2012:

The world and the universe get stranger by the moment. Luckily my birthday falls before the alleged Mayan prophecy of the end of the world, so either way I can eat, dance, sing and be merry in the face of lots less work to do if it happens. I’d rather hang around with all of you a bit longer, though. Thanks for all you have been to me and the support you have given that makes my life possible.

We could even have a mini-roast, and tell the worst and wildest John Judge stories we can remember! I know a few! Please come if you can, and either way have a wonderful holiday season and a good new year.

Love and peace to you all,
John Judge

“Love is the only engine of survival” Leonard Cohen
“Enlighten all sentient beings” Gautama Buddha
“Ease the pain of human suffering, all else is drunken dumbshow” Allen Ginsburg
“Aunt Polly ‘lowed how she was going to civilize me. I’d been that route before. I lit out for the country” Huckleberry Finn

So anyway, everyone in Heaven, you are on notice — if anyone is being neglected outside those pearly gates, John is going to raise questions about it.



Pete Seeger quotes

March 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our friends at Northern Sun have some new Pete Seeger items, like this t-shirt:








And bumper sticker:









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