There’s a classic Arabic movie called Nasser ’56, about Gamal `Abd an-Nasir’s miraculous triumph at the end of the 1956 British, French and Israeli invasion of
Brian McGrath and Nasser ‘56
I’ve never seen the movie. Brian McGrath, my buddy in the State Department (well, my other buddy in the State Department—I have two now, but Sean is only civil service. I don’t know if that really counts—does it, Sean? What do your fun co-workers say?) and I have a funny story about that. Neither of us had seen this epic, and as students of the Arab world, this was disgraceful. Opportunities would come up and for one reason or another, we never got around to it, yadda, yadda, you know the drill…. So, one spring day, the Sackler, one of the many very cool museums in the Smithsonian (and one of my very favorite ones, to boot), was playing it for free. So we line up early, get our tickets, and we sit down. As we’re waiting for the show to begin, we’re shooting the shit. I was actually looking forward to the movie. Then suddenly and inexplicably, I shoot Brian a look and I say, “Hey, Brian? Wanna dump this and go get shitfaced at the 4Ps?”
Brian, my buddy the Irish Eagle Scout, smiled cheerfully and said, “Sure!” God bless all Irish Eagle Scouts. I’ve always been proud to be a good bad influence on Brian. And so we returned our tickets to see
I don’t know if Brian’s ever gotten around to seeing
In the spirit of the story, I have had my Nasir ’56 moment. It’s 1956 in Civ time and I have conquered mighty
As a result, loathe as I always am to become a seafaring nation (boats are so pathetic in Civ), by the late 19th century, it became apparent that I needed to float a grand army overseas if I was to build a respectable empire. In that first Chinese war, I had already taken
But, the trouble is that you can’t just conquer limitlessly in these overseas adventures. Resupply is so much slower. You typically can get a good wave off and, then, you need time to digest, resupply and get ready for a new round. Having to ship everything by boat is a real bummer. By 1916, I was ready to go back to
So how did I deal? Well, a few well-placed bribes allowed me the luxury of an alliance with the Babylonians and Americans against the Vikings. I had already buttered them up by allowing them to buy luxuries from me at outrageously high prices. The AI players, particularly the ones who are good at capitalism, will pay huge amounts for luxuries, far more than they’re actually worth (even up to forty gold a turn, and that’s an average price!). And they’re grateful, too, because they think you’re giving them a deal. This strategy allows me to pursue a “guns and butter” strategy, churning out cavalry unit after cavalry unit while still investing in new technologies (up to 70-80% of my budget, which is impressive any time after capitalism, as capitalism requires extensive infrastructural outlays). After I’ve emptied their coffers into my general revenue, the Babylonians and Vikings were so happy that for a few hundred gold pieces, they were more than happy to go to war for me.
So while the
My first priority was to secure the oil. I had built up a sizable fleet and deployed roughly twenty-four cavalry units to secure the island. This part of the war was short and sweet. The Chinese colonists gave way and, fortunately, they had already built a port at
Because, of course, I knew better. The mainland war looked to be and, in fact, was far harsher.
This instantaneous transport and communication does nothing to reduce corruption in your empire. Remote cities are hopelessly corrupt and develop slowly, despite the fact that it takes no longer to get there than it does to the outer suburbs of your capital. My capital is in the south. So my north has few working factories that are equipped with ports. I make veteran boats in the south and the boats move a few squares at a time. I had plenty of caravels up north, but I couldn’t deploy them without ironclads to guard them. So I had to wait while the ironclads worked their way up from my military industrial complex in the south to be deployed in the mainland
Sadly, the Babylonians beat me by a turn in building Universal Suffrage, that fabulous popularizer of long, drawn-out wars. The people were really bitchy during the Second China War and required a great deal of placating. I conquered all of the Chinese mainland, however.
“So, Hattar,” I can hear you saying, “Do you ever fucking work? I mean at something meaningful. Not that bullshit at Group Health where you whore your mind out for money. Something like, say, your dissertation. What’s the fucking title this week?”
Yeah, I do fucking work, thank you. Look, all great intellectual breakthroughs are preceded by playing lots of Civ. It’s a fact. You could look it up. My dear friend Nelly Samoukova at the
At any rate, the title this week is Pathologies of Identity and Violence: Palestinian Insurgency and Civil War in the Twentieth Century Levant, and my official rivals have been selected. The political science dissertation genre requires you to trash at least two other theories and show why the existing literature has got it wrong and why you are right. I’m going head to head with three rival theories. The first is Arend Lijphart’s theory of consociational democracy. He’s the easiest to pick on, as he really doesn’t have a theory. Here, read this review of his work. It’s a hoot. It also details the strategy by which he’s built his career. The marketing has been formidable, which, as Steve Hanson reminds me, is the reason I should keep working on my proposal skills. The second is Stuart Kaufman’s theory of “ethnic war.” He’s just won a $750k grant for the book, but it’s weak. He has an imagination and he’s into a lot of the same theory that I’m into, which makes him a rhetorical challenge. I have to fend him off without shooting myself in the foot. That will be tricky. His weakness is that he is not really good at disciplining his imagination and that’s where the knife goes in. The last theory is Fearon’s and Laitin’s theory of civil war. They, of course, are the scary ones. They’re kind of big in the IR world. They’re from Stanford. They publish a lot. And they aren’t sloppy.
We’re not dealing with AI knock-offs of Shaka and Mao anymore, brothers and sisters. These guys are the real thing. I’m scared shitless, so let’s hope I can pull the damned proposal together. Once more unto the breach…
Pictures are coming, I swear. It’s looking pretty decent. My office is as the “usable” stage and I’m working on the garage tomorrow. Slowly but surely, it’s going to become my gym. I’ve been pricing weight benches and dumbbells on craigslist.com. The second-hand sports store sells hex dumbbells for 59¢/lb. So if I can’t beat that price, I’ll buy there. I also need an ellipsis machine. I’ll need to burn a few calories, too, and I do really well on those things. They burn the most calories for the least fatigue. For an MS patient, that’s a must.
Craig’s gotten the rest of the house quite charming. I like this place. I can’t recall the last time I liked where I lived. It’s kinda cool.
The only thing that’s undesirable is the large underground nest of yellowjackets I discovered while moving the lawn. I was stung ten times and let out what Craig calls “a war hoop” and had to hide under the shower to escape from the damned creatures. As the damned things followed me into the house, I later used a spray bottle to douse their wings with water and crush them one by one in vengeance. I’m Yertle the Turtle, damn it. No insect fucks with me!
The landlord sprayed the nest with some stuff, and sure enough, there don’t seem to be yellowjackets at the entrance of the nest anymore. But multiple sources confirm that those nests can be huge. I’m worried that all the stuff did is force them to close a door and now, they’ll open a window elsewhere. I need to spend some time watching that damned thing. We wanted to hire the boy scout next door to do the mowing, but the kid’s twelve. I don’t want him attacked.
And that’s sort of what’s going on. Hopefully I write a little more in the fall.