Posted by odiousgambit
Dec 23, 2010

Boardless Diceless Clue

Christmas week is a very slow time for us at work, yet we are expected to show up and fill the days somehow. Gambling would be frowned upon, so after our recent discussion, I decided a game of Clue could be played. So here is the idea and how it went.

Boardless Diceless Clue. Some sequence of who goes first and who "is to the left" of who is modified from where people normally sit. I modified a deck of playing cards by writing names, weapons, and rooms on various and distributing them; the empty deck package held the 3 key cards determining whodunit etc.

A simple map of the board is provided to each player along with a piece of paper with the suspects, weapons, and rooms listed so that notes can be made. The map shows how you move from one room to the next, providing some manner in which you can cross the board as well as move from adjacent rooms and secret passages. There is no need to decide which suspect you are playing, each player is just himself.

Players could pick the room they would start in. To move, each player gets one move in one turn; in that move you may walk out of a room or into a secret passage. In the next move you may enter a room or continue to the next place on the map without entering. Rules about blocking a room and all that were not in effect. It was considered good if the game went pretty fast, as of course certain interruptions occur even on a slow day.

I anticipated a problem with people remembering where they were on the board, so the player "to the left" must help the current player remember. It turned out everybody started helping everybody remember. Otherwise it was standard Clue rules.

It went very well! For the second game players decided they wanted everybody to start in the same room, so I thought that was OK, if unnecessary. As is the nature of the game, sometimes it was over fast, and with moving so easy, it was really fast. But that was probably a good thing. I'm wondering now how well Boardless Diceless Clue would go as a parlor game at a party and might try it.


benbakdoff Dec 23, 2010

I think they should have thanked you for a great year and sent you home With Pay!!

Nareed Dec 26, 2010

You should pitch it to the manufacturer as "Rapid Clue" ;)

Ayecarumba Jan 03, 2011

There actually is a card based version of "Clue". It is designed for 2-4 players. You don't move around a board, just ask other players if it was "insert two rooms/weapons/suspects here". Sort of like "Go Fish". Your invention sounds more fun.

odiousgambit Feb 03, 2011

stay tuned, I think I will have to make a chart below the first chart to have room

Posted by odiousgambit
Oct 30, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [again]

Making this movie review a blog post [was a forum post]. Now that I hear hollywood will be making a movie, and the books are getting more popular, I thought this might be a better place for it.

Recently saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". This has been one of the more popular foreign movies recently, you should be able to catch it if a theater near you tends to show foreign or art movies.

I highly recommend it with some qualifications.

A Swedish movie, it is very feminist, and as a matter of fact the author of the book, Stieg Larsson, was a Communist. His villains were Capitalists; in the movie, though, the villains are not just Capitalists but Nazi sympathizers. No kidding. And we are talking murderers, serial killers, to boot. Of course all this makes having them be the bad guys palatable even for anyone who might otherwise not like the idea of portraying businessmen as the guys wearing the black hats. For balance one minor bad character is a social worker.

You might think you have no feminist sympathies, but by the time you experience how rotten these men are you are rooting for their demise, believe me.

The movie is very brutal, and this applies not just to the creeps, but to the heroine as well. I want to focus on her to keep this review from being too long. She is a new type we are seeing a little more of these days, a woman with a ton of metal on her face perhaps, plenty of tattoos, and Goth or Punk themed clothing etc. There just was not such a character in the media of yesteryear; now we see them portrayed sometimes, and this certainly suggests we find them intriguing. I wound up looking up the character Abby Sciuto in the TV series NCIS to see if this character could have been based on the movie or vice versa. Sciuto is described as been distinguished by a "gothic style of dress and her interest in death and the supernatural" in a wikipedia article. I concluded that it was possible Larrson was influential in bringing this type of character forward, but I havent read his books so can't be sure. Quite coincidentally I just saw another movie, "My First Mister," a dvd I picked up cheap that featured a Goth/Punk type teenager. This was a fair movie, with flaws, but my point is not to review it too, but to point out that these characters are multiplying. And why not, plenty of these types do exist in the real world.

The Dragon Tattoo character, Lisbeth Salander, fits this profile; I don't exactly remember how much body piercing she has, but there is the Goth/Punk look, certainly tattoos, and with an emphasis for sure on being anti-social with a brutal if not sadistic side to her. I am also reminded of the character Felicia "Snoop" Pearson from the HBO series "The Wire". I promise you, even if you find this character type off-putting, that you will be totally won over to Salander and her cause . There is a distinct feminine appeal to her in spite of her efforts to have none. Truly fascinating, go see the movie if you get a chance.

links are all easily found in imdb dot com, and wikipedia.

Posted by odiousgambit
Sep 22, 2010

How Computer Games Cheat

This is not about Casino computers, which tower in honesty compared to general games on the home computer.

I am posting what I have posted before in other forums, new comments are in italics.

Others have made these observations, I like to consolidate them.



# A player learns to play without a using a rulebook, and no rulebook governs the play. Generally, you have to just take the plunge and see if you have the computer savvy to operate it.

# The Black Box Problem A. Just what exactly are the rules anyway? There will be no assurance anywhere that the most basic assumptions are accurate. As far as I know, you can't buy a computer game that simulates a simple game of solitaire in cards that will assure you that you are indeed playing with a deck of 52 cards. Not in the game when it's up, not on the box, not anywhere. You may assume so after playing it a while, but I have heard of some that are either harder or easier to win than using a real deck of cards.

# The Black Box Problem B. How it is determined that one side wins or loses a battle or campaign is anybody's guess. Common sense evaluation seemed to work sometimes, but for Boardgamers this is never going to be a satisfactory state of affairs. At some point you are in danger of finding that the computer has just declared itself the winner, unless you dial back the AI; then you are in danger of being bored by winning too easily.

# The Black Box Problem C. Once you increase the AI, you might be hoping that the vast computing power of your machine kicks in and starts to out-think you; like Spock playing the computer in chess on Star Trek, you'll be hoping that you'll just find a level of AI in your mightily-powered opponent that roughly matches you in pondering strategy and problems. Lo and behold, though, what you find is that the computer has simply increased the manpower of the opposition. There may be no sense whatsoever that the AI is actually getting better in its strategy. The Risk computer games seem to do this for sure

# The Black Box Problem D. After you begin to get a handle on what seems to be some rules in the Black Box, such as hey, you can't do this, you find that the computer opponent is not held to the same restriction. Often this is a matter of the player not being able to “see” various units for various reasons, but it becomes clear that the computer is not held to these same restrictions. The Modernized Risk Game, Risk II or whatever, just for the computer [that I have] with all sorts of variants to the original game, cheats like crazy in C and D problems.

# The Black Box Problem In General. The Computer simply cheats. This is manifested at various times and in various ways, and maddeningly there will be no acknowledgment of it. A player won't be able to ascertain what aspects of the cheating he can tolerate because what exactly he is up against can't be determined.

I have been told, "do not expect to see human-like AI in your lifetime".


CHESS COMPUTER GAMES CHEAT TOO [well, OK, in a tolerable manner perhaps]

I find for now it is telling that IBM has flatly refused to take Kasparov up on his very do-able challenge. Kasparov was finally beaten by their "Big Blue" of course, but K. claimed that they had used the well-known tactic of studying your opponent's games. He challenged them to go ahead and enter Big Blue in tournaments, then, to allow for the same counter-tactic, predicting (IIRC) it would not even be able to sustain Grandmaster ratings, much less win. Since this would be so clearly do-able, you have to figure the IBM team knew he was right, declining to do so though it has been something like 10-15 years since the challenge. For us humans, we have to cling to this to be able to claim that possibly some human somewhere is always going to be better than the machine, unless, well, something gets manipulated?

For your home game, computer chess has the black box as well, doing things you would never allow a human opponent to do. Would you let your opponent browse a huge databank of "opening book" while you are just on your own? Would you allow your opponent to re-arrange the board to his heart's content while pondering moves, while you are not even allowed to touch a single piece? IBM says " During the match with Kasparov, [Big Blue] averaged 126 million positions per second." Now that is what I call re-arranging the board!

Nonetheless Computer Chess probably shines as an example of a computer game that ultimately is tolerable in spite of how the AI goes about things.


Ibeatyouraces Dec 23, 2010

When I play minesweeper and am faced with a 50/50 shot at picking the square without the mine, it seems I hit the mine more than 75% of the time.

Posted by odiousgambit
Aug 31, 2010

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum

I decided to make this a blog post. I should probably explain that there have been a couple of threads that dipped a bit into Bigfoot, and that there was this book by Jeffrey Meldrum out there. I did read this book and thought I would not so much review it as just give you my thoughts.

I was expecting this, and found it again to be the case: when you read a book taking a controversial position on something, you tend to forget the author has placed himself in the position of advocacy without counter-argument. You have signed on to allowing this to happen by reading the book, yet it is easy to forget you sort have set yourself up this way. Unless the book is really bad, the next thing you know, you start to wonder if some of the claims don't have something to them. One needs to be on guard against becoming a convert, forgetting you have only heard one side of the argument. I've seen a similar phenomenon with UFO folks... "believers" they call themselves usually. And actually there is a competent physicist on their side these days, and an astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, that can get to you. But I digress.

It may seem unlikely, but Meldrum IMO is capable of swaying skeptics, at least to the point of acknowledging some aspects of the evidence can't be so easily dismissed as thought. Anyone with an open mind, that is, which is what he says he has, is all. There were indeed moments reading his book where his evident sincerity, if nothing else, made you want to acknowledge there must be something to it all. Clearly the guy is reasonably competent; he makes the case that you have to take certain evidence seriously, particularly the footprints in many cases. Ironically, the footprint evidence for me has always been almost unbearably ridiculous looking. Yet it is amongst his specialties to examine such evidence, so who am I to say that it is not worthy? He is quite good at relating how hard it would be to fake the better evidence. I can no longer assume, as I did before, that it is just a matter of putting on fake feet and walking around. He is quite experienced
with debunking such clumsy attempts, and relates those times he directly investigated fresh evidence, and how hard it would be to fake it at all, much less fool someone like himself.

Unfortunately, he was unable to get me to think of the famous film footage [the Patterson-Gimlin film] as possibly worthy evidence. In this matter, and in showing some other rare photos, he tends to cite other investigators rather than give his own conclusions, but he lets it be known he considers this evidence to likely be "for real" as we might put it. Other evidence investigated by others is also considered in the book. And it should be said he acknowledges quite a bit of the evidence put out there is hoaxed in some cases, or may be explainable as mis-identification in others.

Am I now a Bigfoot believer, or at least someone swayed into accepting that some of the evidence for such a creature is worthy? No, not on reflection. The best I can say is I wouldn't be able to explain how the evidence was faked or otherwise explained away in some cases. I still put the chance that it was left by an unknown creature as an extremely remote possibility. But I will also admit I found the book hard to put down.

Attach "in my humble opinion" to all the below.

I think what we have here could be called "Piltdown Syndrome" in part. That hoax, a human-like skull with ape-like jawbone, stood for 40 years amongst scientists till finally, seemingly now obviously, the artifacts were shown to be faked composition, actually human combined with orangutan. There just seems to be a certain gullibility amongst various scientists that is really pretty amazing.

In part the problem is also the well-known problem of what could be called the "Credible Witness/Deplorable Claim Syndrome". Some people just relish the attention, such as can be found in the old footage of the 1950's UFO craze where some try to get away with claiming they had been taken to other planets, coming up with wild names for them, etc. [I was unable to find any of this but I'm sure you've seen it] But in some cases, I feel this does not explain it. In the book we have a couple of instances where a credible person relates something along with a detail that really makes you wonder. Usually such a person claims to have been a skeptic, and often is presented as a person of character that does not fit with being a hoaxer. This has never been fully explainable, a phenomenon that also plagues Court systems the world over. Possibly witnesses themselves were hoaxed and didn't know it, and even are unaware of how retelling and retelling starts to alter their own versions. It has been proven that after a period of time a person can no longer correctly remember details of an event and starts to rely on what he has said before, losing track of alterations. Scientists should be more aware of this.

In part the problem is just that the scientists just do not realize they need to call in people who are more expert in debunking; often times the person to successfully do this is a magician.

I guess those of us who remain skeptics just will have to eat crow if any of the creatures are ever found. You can skip buying this book, unless you want to experience the advocacy. I admit I have a certain curiosity about such things, and such a book can really involve me. I seem to wind up enjoying this later reflection that wards off the wrong conclusions.

And, ha! My wife never caught me reading that book [in case you remember me mentioning that]. 


FleaStiff Aug 31, 2010

The film is indeed great evidence. Particularly when the blown-up frame of the back reveals a metal buckle. Of course the true believers merely counter this with some mumbo jumbo about evolution selecting for metal buckle traits or some such nonsense.

Those who want to believe will believe. Let them be. Its like that tee shirt about never trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

Posted by odiousgambit
Aug 09, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Northern Virginia

I have some time off this week, and certainly had been thinking the thing to do was hit some of the more local new gambling opportunities for our area. My wife even suggested such a solo trip for me, not having time off herself. With that stamp of approval in my back pocket, I was practically out the door already. But then I started thinking about it. I'm not going to be able to go as far as Atlantic City or Philadelphia without doing an overnight, and I don't want to do that without planning the trip with her or someone, and there are no takers at the moment. I rethought Harrington Delaware, and convinced myself we are talking 2.5 hours to go the way I would like... it's just too far to suit me, and it wasn't *that* great the last time I went. Maybe if the buffet was better, you know?

Charles Town WV is a reasonable hour and a half for me, but from what I can determine, all I could expect there is overcrowded high minimum tables with possibly no Craps dealers in the morning. I have no interest in the slots, and as far as I can tell, there isnt even videopoker at all, even any with lousy paytables. The casino poker scene hasn't tempted me yet either. We'll call this the "Fear" part.

What can I say? Looks like any gambling in the near future will entail a trip with someone to Mohegan Sun or Atlantic City when that can be arranged; maybe not even this year!

And I was going to try Blackjack for the first time, too, damn it. My bankroll is gathering moths. I can't decide if I should be patting myself on the back for my restraint, kicking myself for not going anyway for an Escape I could sure as hell use, or what. One thing is for sure, the New Deal I thought we might be getting in our local area this summer hasn't panned out for me. We'll call the WV scene, and the distance to Harrington, the "Loathing", but it's the jackasses that have done what they've done in WV that are the focus of this contempt. I wonder how much company I have in that regard?

up or down longterm remains "down $1003"
below budget, $497 balance


teddys Aug 09, 2010

Pat yourself on the back for your restraint. There just aren't enough good opportunities in your area. Save it for a trip to AC or LV where there's better stuff.

konceptum Aug 09, 2010

Personally, every one in a while, I like to make a trip, by myself, usually for a weekend, to Las Vegas or Laughlin. While it may seem weird to "get away" without the significant other, sometimes that's exactly what you need. While we may love dearly our s/o's, that doesn't mean that we can't use some time away. And by away, I mean away from work, away from home, away from life, away from the s/o, away from EVERYTHING. A solo trip definitely isn't for everybody, and I couldn't do it all the time, but sometimes, it's just what the psyche ordered.

odiousgambit Aug 09, 2010

"sometimes, it's just what the psyche ordered."

I certainly agree. But I do my outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing, without her per her request, she is quite super about it. However, this seems to use up my quota of "without her" activity. Adding gambling trips with overnight stay seems to be more than I should try to get away with.

cclub79 Aug 09, 2010

FYI...last time I was at CTown, they did have VPoker...it was upstairs in its own section, and they were very odd, old style graphics. Not traditional machines. First I thought they could be like pull-tabs, but I don't think they were, because they offered a double up opportunities.