Saturday, November 30, 2013


Missing socks are one of the perennial stereotypes of our civilisation.  Much ink has been spilled and countless hours wasted agonising over the propensity of pairs of socks to swiftly and mysteriously transform themselves into three totally separate socks at least one of which the owner has never seen before.  So much time and labour have been spent on this subject that for me to write a blog entry about it would be little more than a tacit admission that I have completely exhausted such shallow reserves of imagination and creativity as I once possessed.

I remember a time when all socks matched.  I had a vision in a dream of a golden city, beautiful and graceful where elegant spires challenged the clouds for mastery of the skies and socks presented themselves in serried ranks of perfectly matching pairs.  The city can't be found in this world, to find it I must journey beyond the gate of dreams.  Once in that strange world where everything is possible I can begin my search.

My path will be long and arduous.  I will have to struggle through the wastes of Eftar where the stones themselves cry out for water and are never slaked.  To speak with the seer who can guide my journey I will scale the black, battlemented walls of the city of Skylane which has never fallen to storm or siege and gain passage from the slave trading Lords of Night who rule that fell place.

Through the teeming citizens of Skylane, vicious and corrupted purveyors of decadence, I must hurry.  Never stopping, never turning.  Seek not to gaze on the deformities only half hidden by voluminous robes and take neither food nor drink in this place for what sustains these beings is death to more wholesome folk.  The great temple is a place no sane person would enter but here is found the prophet of chaos.  A tangle of grey hair and staring eyes that have long since ceased to behold the light.

Guided by the cryptic ravings of the mad, blind visionary who sees all I will cross the Perilous Ocean in a boat made of crabs until I reach the shores of fabled Argentar.  Here among the relics of hopes long dead and the howls of unfulfilled dreams I must face the Grim.  Their horrid droning voices shall bring me to the edge of madness and their hunger for life would be satisfied with my own were it not for the heroic lemmings hurling themselves from the cliffs above.  As my squeaking allies batter the Grim with their bodies I can struggle through the caves, slipping on the jagged rocks covered with the slime of ancient regret until finally I can beg audience with the email server of the Outer Gods.  Here amidst the oceans of spam and with thick snaky tendrils of chain letters wrapping themselves around me I can hope to find the answers I seek.

But that sounds like a heck of a lot of trouble to go to just to get a pair of matching socks and frankly the whole thing is starting to sound far too derivative.  So screw it.  If you want matching socks go yourself and if you succeed come back and tell me.  You'll be able to recognise me; I'll be the guy with the mismatched socks having a drink with the Pickman Ghoul.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Try Burning A Cyborg at the Stake

Exactly how much of your body needs to be replaced or enhanced before you officially qualify as a cyborg?  Would anybody admit to being one?  Cyborgs have received pretty bad press thanks largely to innumerable crappy science fiction movies (Doctor Who and Star Trek haven't helped either).  When one thinks of cyborgs one's mind does tend to turn more towards The Terminator than a pacemaker.  It is time cyborgs got a public relations team, surely the benefits of artificial enhancement outweigh the risks posed by the occasional time travelling, semi robot assassin.

Am I a cyborg because I wear contact lenses?  I seem to fit the definition in so far as my natural eyesight (terrible) is significantly improved by the application of an artificial enhancement.  Several centuries ago possessing contact lenses might have led to me being burnt as a witch.

Actually several centuries ago I would just have been half blind.  Which doesn't, of course, mean that I wouldn't have been burnt as a witch.  Witch burning was quite the done thing once upon a time and lets face it I'm pretty sure that an odd, socially awkward character with a propensity for talking to himself would probably have been pretty high up the list of combustible citizens in any event.  That's even before you get to my trafficking with demons and worshipping Satan.  Well, I say "worshipping" actually we just meet for coffee from time to time.  As for trafficking with demons, don't bother; they'll try and cheat you out of your cut and will rat you out to the border authorities to evade a parking ticket.

Still I think it is pretty obvious that if I lived in the middle ages the phrase "auto de fe" would feature on my death certificate.  Which in my opinion is pretty firm evidence that I wasn't a witch.  I'm sure any genuine witch wouldn't be inclined to take crap from a bunch of ill armed peasants.  Certainly if I had the power (one day, Neil, one day) it wouldn't be me roasting in the morning.  Although my means of escape would pretty much confirm the verdict.

Purification by fire seems to have been quite a popular way of dealing with social undesirables for obvious reasons.  It's simple enough to arrange and its permanent.  Also hiding the bodies afterwards requires a dustpan and brush rather than a shovel.  It seems that no sooner did the human race discover fire than we started applying it to other people.  Although if somebody does have to be burnt at the stake then "other people" are the very best candidates.  I wonder how long it took us before we realised that fire could be used to cook our food.  I also can't help wondering if this was perhaps discovered by cannibals.

I started this blog entry intending to write something on cyborgs and possibly delving into the rationale and ethics of transhumanism along the way.  Instead I took a detour through the middle ages and witch burning with the almost obligatory nod to cannibalism.  All I can think of as a final word is to point out that if I were burnt as a witch my contact lenses would melt.  I hope they stick in somebody's throat.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Mushroom Situation

The strange thing about mushrooms is that I don't like them.  Most of my friends, obsessed with my mythical fussiness over food, won't be surprised by this fact but I am a little.  You see I like mushroom gravy, mushroom sauce and mushroom soup.  Its just mushrooms I don't like.  One of my friends explained this by pointing out that I'm strange.

Without wishing to deny the self evident truth of that statement I do have better reasons for disliking mushrooms.  It's all about the texture, I find mushrooms creepy and unsettling to eat.  I don't like the feel of them in my mouth and chewing them is distinctly disturbing.  Mushrooms manage to be both squashy and rubbery.  Eating them is like chewing foam rubber, something else I don't like to eat.  So as you can see I have thoroughly rational reasons for disliking mushrooms.

Its nice to have a rational reason for something, normally I have to fall back on overused excuses like whimsy or mental instability.  There are other problems with mushrooms as well.  According to wikipedia (which has become the worlds premier reference material now that our knowledge is based on consensus rather than facts) mushrooms are "the fleshy spore bearing, fruiting body of a fungus".  Possibly I've seen one too many dreadful science fiction movies but I'm not crazy about ingesting anything described as spore bearing.  I have vague but horrifying images of some spore riddled fungus monster lurching down the streets while women and children flee screaming in terror.  Think of it as a vegetarian version of the zombie apocalypse.

Speaking of which, how useless would vegetarian zombies be?  "Braaaains, I need ethically sourced, organically produced meat free soy brain substitutes".  Its hardly a battle cry to strike terror into the hearts of the world.  I actually wonder if we would even bother doing anything about a vegetarian zombie apocalypse.  We'd probably just let them get on with lurching around marauding for plants.  Although, of course, no lettuce would sleep safe in its bed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Time Schapelle Took One for the Team

Relations between Australia and Indonesia have hit a bit of a rough patch just recently due to revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that one of our intelligence agencies has been bugging the phones of the Indonesian president, his wife and various top aides and ministers.  This has come as a huge relief to the internal auditors of the Australian Signals Directorate who now at least know where their budget went.  The Indonesians have proved to be a little less sanguine.  It is fair to say they are somewhat ticked.

In amongst all of the coverage of bugging, Indonesian outrage, politcal fallout and how dreadful our new prime minister is (the bugging took place while Kevin Rudd was prime minister but, whatever) there was one article which wondered what sort of effect this might have on Schapelle Corby.  To which I can only say, who cares?

For non Australians and aliens from another planet this is the story with Schapelle Corby.  She was a young Australian woman who went on holiday to Bali.  It didn't go very well because as she was going through customs one of the officials noticed she was carrying about two hundred tonnes of marijuana in her luggage.  Arrest followed, Indonesian customs officials are reasonably easy going but they probably thought Schapelle was taking the piss.  This led to three rather interesting questions.  Firstly; who smuggles dope into Bali.  Secondly; who gets arrested by Indonesian customs? And thirdly who stays arrested by Indonesian customs?  My personal opinion is that the Indonesian customs officials simply couldn't believe what was going on and assumed it was a sting operation to test their integrity.

After the arrest there was the trial, the sentencing, the teary pleas of innocence and finally incarceration.  Throughout all this Schapelle, for reasons which escape me, seemed to become a bit of a cause celebre for parts of the Australian media.  Every night there was something new on Schapelle and how she was doing and how she was bravely holding up and on and on.  Subsequently there has been a renewed flurry of interest every time it looks like she might appeal or gain clemency or a prisoner swap or start a lifestyle website.

That was years ago though and for the intervening period Schapelle has been happily banged up in either Kerobokan prison or the penthouse suite of the Djakarta Hyatt (the Indonesian justice system is a little difficult to work out sometimes).  Now, however just as she is hoping for parole this entire phone bugging scandal has come to light and things look grim for her.  So what?

The phone bugging scandal is one of those outrages which is no less real for being confected.  Everybody spies on everybody else and everybody knows they're doing so even if the details are sometimes sketchy.  Nevertheless with a nation full of voters furious at the intrusion (Indonesians go to the polls this year) no sane Indonesian politician can be seen to be taking a relaxed attitude to this.  So there is outrage, diplomatic tension, downgrading of ties and the possibility that young drug smugglers might want to take their holidays in Malaysia for the next few years.  Oh yes and the distinct likelihood that Indonesian authorities will stop doing whatever little it is they have been currently doing to prevent people smugglers travelling to Australia.

The most irritating bit about all of this is that it isn't our fault.  I mean, ok we did the spying part but the Indonesians didn't find out because of anything we did but rather due to the American predilection for hiring socially challenged, mentally unstable people to work in their intelligence services.  This might seem rather silly but actually it is quite understandable.  Espionage is essentially violating other peoples privacy, building up trust for the sole purpose of betraying and engaging in ongoing and enthusiastic deceit.  Ok we can say its all in a good cause but seriously does it sound like a job that would be taken by a well adjusted human being?  I personally think that should be part of the psychological examination on entrance.

"Do you want to work in the intelligence services?"
"Sorry, you fail."

Still the Indonesian revelations are spilled milk now and we have to do what we can to mop it up.  We are helped by the fact that the Indonesians want this to go away as much as we do, they just need something they can show their people so it looks like they're standing up to the imperialist lackey (that's us).  Here is where Schapelle Corby can do something useful to help her country.  All she has to do is publicly state that she was the one bugging the Indonesian president's phone in the hopes of learning about her parole.  The Indonesians can tsk tsk vigorously, remove her hair dressing privileges and our prime minister can offer a harmless apology for the actions of one of our private citizens.  That should be quite sufficient, at least until Edward Snowden tells everybody what else we've been up to.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turning Tungsten Into Gold

I wrote this blog entry by candlelight.  Which is atmospheric and, under the right circumstances, romantic.  The "right circumstances" involving the presence of at least one other person and me doing something far more interesting than writing a damn blog entry.  The principal thing candlelight is though is annoying.  A feeble, swaying light which usually manages to illuminate little more than the candle itself which is pointless because once you've lit it you probably don't need to see it again.  I think the only reason we didn't invent the electric light a lot sooner in our development is because its difficult to discover things in the dark.  Frankly I'm amazed early scientists could actually discover the door to their lab half the time.

Of course there is daylight which leads me to the conclusion that for a considerable period of time inventions and discoveries were limited to office hours.  You don't need to invent light when you're working during the day.  I'm also surprised that we invented writing before braille which works equally well in both the light and the dark.  I have no explanation at all for why sonar took so long.

To think of all the time alchemists wasted trying to turn lead into gold.  The first one of them to invent a light bulb would have found a way to turn tungsten filament into gold.  Although of course if he really wanted to profit the very next thing he would have had to invent was something to stick the light bulb into.  Since most of them were half out of their mind on mercury vapours its probably better that they stuck to what they knew.  Or rather what they didn't know.  I tremble to think at what they might have tried to stick a light bulb into.

Scientists don't like to be reminded of alchemy nowadays.  Its sort of like the scientific community's embarrassing uncle.  Half crazy, irritating at parties and just when you've convinced everybody that he's a total loss he occasionally comes up with something brilliant.  That must be the most annoying bit of all actually.  Of course most non scientists would be hard pressed to tell the difference; perhaps a little more string theory and a little less Hermes Trismegistus.  Possibly the greatest distinction would be that a scientist's ignorance is much better catalogued.

This was the trouble with alchemists.  A lot of them were really smart but they didn't really know what they were doing.  And since they were starting from wrong principles in the first place even the discoveries they did make couldn't be fitted into any sort of coherent whole.  Not that this worried the alchemists, they were perfectly fine with an incoherent whole.  And let's face it, it was an indoor job with little heavy lifting at a time when such occupations were reserved for kings and monks.

In one sense alchemy is a very human thing to study.  It is a lunatic collection of genuine knowledge and bat crazy superstition welded together by minds that were simultaneously highly intelligent (John Dee and his colleagues were no dummies) and barely capable of a coherent thought.  Nothing more human could be imagined.  As a matter of fact forget about light bulbs.  When you gather such people as that and put them in room with a mass of herbs, minerals and distillation equipment its amazing that we didn't invent the meth lab before the light bulb.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Birthday Greetings #30

Happy birthday to Tiberius, Roman emperor.  Tiberius was the second Roman emperor and was hand picked for the job by his predecessor Augustus after all the more promising candidates had inconveniently died.  This may go someway towards explaining the less cheery aspects of his reign.  "Oh well, I suppose it's got to be Tiberius" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

Tiberius was a gloomy, depressive character utterly incapable of effectively voxing the populi or making close friends.  There is a famous story of one occasion when he attempted to do the usual royal crowd pleaser of visiting the sick in a hospital.  Unfortunately somebody got their wires crossed and when Tiberius turned up he found that all the sick had been dragged out of their hospital beds and lined up for his inspection.  All that Tiberius could do was wander amongst the ill making desperate apologies.  His disposition wasn't improved when Augustus finally realising that he was going to have to name Tiberius as heir brought him into the family.  His method of doing so was to force Tiberius to divorce his much loved wife and marry Augustus's daughter Julia.  The feelings between Tiberius and Julia were mutual; they hated each other.

None of the above means Tiberius was actually unqualified to rule.  Augustus had had his eye on him for a long time.  He had served with distinction in some of the most demanding military and civil posts in the empire and in a number of ways he proved to be perfectly capable.  As his depression (or whatever it was) settled more fully on him he withdrew more and more from the senate and communicated with his government by writing.  Eventually he handed day to day control over to a subordinate and settled himself with keeping an eye on things from a distance.

So what sort of subordinate does a morbidly suspicious, friendless and deeply depressed person choose to be their number one guy?  Probably a ruthless, cynical, morally bankrupt son of bitch.  Step forward Sejanus.  Sejanus was praetorian prefect and became the emperor's go to guy.  He also kept the emperor busy by discovering plots which needed to be punished with of course the appropriate number of executions and sequestrations.  Eventually Sejanus pushed his luck too far and Tiberius had him executed before replacing him with somebody worse.

Contemporary (or near contemporary) historians are pretty down on Tiberius.  They note the execution of senators, the general reign of terror form of government, the reliance on dubious freedmen and they hinted at sexually depraved behaviour at Tiberius's villa at Capri.  By hinted I mean "stated explicitly".  There is a story about young boys being forced to bathe in the sea while the emperor swam amongst them nipping at their ankles which indicates pretty impressive lung capacity in what was by now a rather old man.  Since almost nobody was ever invited to Capri the number of reliable eyewitnesses for stories such as this can be counted on the fingers of one foot.

The truth of the matter seems to be that Tiberius really was a bit of a terror to the ruling class.  A miserable, paranoid emperor tends find ways of making the political elite miserable and paranoid as well.  There were certainly a fair few treason executions for reasons ranging from the silly to the downright ridiculous and certainly a lot of senators lived in fear of the knock on the door.  However lets put this into context.  The political elite probably accounted for less than one percent of the population.  The rest Tiberius left pretty much alone and since he never lost his talents for organisation and administration it seems that if anything the bulk of the population benefited from his rule rather than the reverse.

For the senatorial class though Tiberius probably was a worry.  Eventually he died and the senators with relief and gratitude welcomed their new emperor; Caligula.

How to Succeed in Business Without Giving a Crap

What is the principal thing a business must do if it wants to stay in business?  Provide good service?  Not really, people's tolerance for crappy treatment is surprisingly high.  Good after sales service?  Actually most people would be very happy never to see the sales staff again as long as the product works.  Create a product that works?  Not if you've got good after sales service.  Produce a valuable product of service to mankind?  Oh dear me no.  If there is one thing history has taught us it is that humans will buy any old crap.

No, what a company must do is meet its customers expectations.  Be they high or low those expectations must be met.  If you want to be all overachieverish about it you can exceed those expectations but if you do you'll find the expectations rise to meet your level of service.  To give you an example of what I mean (which may or may not be taken from real life) consider McDonalds.  When I go to McDonalds I do not expect great service.  I do not expect a friendly ambiance.  I do not expect the person next to me on the communal bench to have bathed in less than a month.  I certainly don't expect the food to bear even the faintest resemblance to the animals and vegetables it was supposedly sourced from.  BUT I DO EXPECT THE FUCKING SOFT DRINK MACHINE TO BE WORKING!!!

The semi trained, semi pubescent person behind the counter wasn't even apologetic.  She just blandly offered me the choice between a thickshake and a bottle of water as though an absence of soft drinks was the most natural thing in the world.  I'm used to drinking water at McDonalds but I'm used to it coming with ice and a small but vital admixture of soft drink flavouring.  I'm opposed to bottled water on principle and it was with a mixture of embarrassment and shame that I washed my burger down with what tasted like plastic flavoured tap water.  It was the first time I've ever walked away from McDonalds feeling disgusted with them rather than myself.

I left disappointed and angry vowing never to return.  Two days later I returned.  I told myself I was just going to see if they had repaired the soft drink machine (they had) and by the time I left McDonalds had regained the position of reluctant tolerance that it normally has in my heart.

Which brings me to my second point.  Any business which consistently fails to meet its customers expectations must be trying very hard not to.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Your Flight is Leaving From Tunnel Three

A second airport for Sydney has been in the news a bit lately.  For Sydney this is rather like saying fish have been in water a bit lately.  When the Wright brothers finished inventing the aeroplane the very next thing they turned to was whether or not Sydney should have a second airport.  For literally my entire adult life this topic has been the subject of vigorous debate.  Vigorous debate being so much easier than actually making a decision one way or the other.  Naturally over the course of twenty five years if we didn't need a second airport at the start of the debate we probably do now or will by the time we finish building the damn thing.

As things stand at the moment there are two basic positions; the first states that there is no need whatsoever (prominent among this group are the people who own and run our current airport strangely enough), the second more or less feel that we do need a second airport but are terrified of a political backlash from people who don't several square kilometres of concrete and avgas in their backyard if they actually go ahead and build it.  Its difficult to tell which side needs the other more.  As long as the debate continues nothing as scary as a decision needs to be made.  Nobody in the political spectrum actually wants to state we don't need a second airport for fear of being proved wrong in six months time.

Since the only long term solution to increasing air traffic that doesn't involve a second airport means lifting the curfew on the one we currently have I am firmly in favour of a second airport (have I mentioned I live near a flight path?).  Nevertheless I am keenly aware of the political difficulties attendant on building it and deeply sick on the policy of perpetual debate which we seem to have at the moment.  Therefore I've bent my brain to the task of solving this knotty problem once and for all.

Lets build the airport underground!  Think of the benefits; nobody's property values would have to drop, planes could fly (or at least taxi) day and night and a lot of tourists would probably come just to visit the worlds first subterranean air transport hub.  Of course there will be difficulties to overcome.  We will have to dig shafts so that new arrivals can get out (this is not mandatory in my view but others might think it is).  We will have to ensure these access points are within walking distance of a bus stop (this will require more thought than is usually put into transport infrastructure in this state). We will need some way of getting rid of the exhaust fumes (vents situated in the poorer suburbs should work perfectly well) and somewhere for travellers to park their cars.  That last one can be fixed by putting the airport under a shopping mall.

With all the major problems sorted out all we have to do is work out how to put a toll on it to fund the PPP which will inevitably be called upon to build it and equally inevitably will need to be bailed out when they go bankrupt.  I suggest we fund the airport by selling the drugs seized by customs and robbing everybody as they go through passport control.

Alternatively if you don't like the idea of an underground airport we can simply concrete over Sydney Harbour and land planes on that.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Another Silly After Action Report

Victory was so close I could taste it.  No, screw that; victory was so close I had swallowed it but then Ivan stuck a tube down my throat and pumped my stomache.  Leaving aside the disgusting imagery for a moment I shall begin at the beginning which, as somebody once said, is an excellent place to begin.

In 1937 China and Japan were fighting what would have been a war if the Japanese army had bothered to get the permission of their government before starting it.  The Japanese had overrun large chunks of northern China and had crushed the Chinese army whenever it looked like objecting.

The Chinese leader, Chiang Kai-Shek had a number of problems.  China was struggling to emerge from a period of chaotic anarchy (or, if you prefer, anarchic chaos).  The government was corrupt and incompetent, the army was corrupt and incompetent and every layer of the command structure was riddled with corruption and incompetence.  The result was that although vast the Chines army was badly armed, badly trained, badly led and badly equipped.  To add to this embarrassment of poverties there was (perhaps unsurprisingly) a communist uprising underway.

Faced with these difficulties Chiang pulled his armies back, trading space for time while the German advisers he had hired attempted to chip some of the rust of China's war machine.  It was probably the only practical option but it created a new bunch of problems.  Chiang depended on foreign assistance to equip his armies but foreign powers are not famous for backing losers and China looked perilously like a loser.  Additionally the Chinese people, and particularly some of the more influential, were getting sick of defeats and Chiang's apparent acquiesence in the Japanese occupation of a broad swathe of their country.  In short Chiang desperately needed a win and he needed it somewhere the foreign powers would sit up and take notice.  That somewhere was Shanghai and Chiang committed his best, German trained, troops to the task.

This is Scenario A145; Shanghai in Flames which I sat down to play with Ivan Kent at the last Bears meeting.  Chiang's gamble failed and now only the remnants of one of his best divisions holding the Four Banks Warehouse keeps the Chinese flag flying over Shanghai.  I commanded the Japanese attacking through a burning city trying to capture this last symbol of Chinese defiance.  Burning buildings essentially split the board in two leaving me with the choice of attacking along the direct route on my right or taking a long loop around to the left.  I chose both.

There are no tanks, no guns, no bombs.  Just infantry of varying degrees of enthusiasm and some machine guns.  Each of us got a hmg and I got a pair of mediums as well.

Ivan set his troops up well back and thus virtually invisible to the bulk of my attackers but also conceding a fair amount of covered ground for my approach.  Rather bravely he garrisoned the burning building in the centre and left a scattering of forces on my left.  Most of his force was set up in front of the warehouse on the right.  As the handsome picture (assuming I can figure out how to attach it) shows I set up most of my force on my right with a smaller flanking force to take the left.  All three of my supporting machine guns were set up on the second floor of building X2 peering over woods and buildings to (hopefully) place fire in vital hexes near the factory.  They started the attack by taking a shot at the defenders of the central building and of course failed to do any harm.  With that as an overture the remainder of my troops rushed forward.

On my left the flankers led my an expendable half squad rushed for the first defended building, the half squad was broken but the remaining four squads got in, two to hit his guys in close combat and two to continue moving.  In the centre another half squad died horribly attempting to clear a path for two follow up squads who made it to the road outside the building but both pinned before they could enter right next to a pair of elite Chinese squads.  On the right my force veritably sprinted most of the length of the board to arrive panting and largely unscathed a couple of hexes away from the warehouse.  They would stay there for several turns.

It took a couple of turns but my flankers destroyed a pair of Chinese squads (at a cost of one of their own) and pushed forward helped by the fact that Ivan was pulling his outlying troops back to defend the warehouse.  In the centre my two squads finally got into the building and killed another squad only to have to break and flee with their hair on fire as the building burnt down around them.  Down at the sharp end near the warehouse things weren't going too well as fire and casualties were exchanged but I couldn't inflict appreciable damage on Ivan's men now happily ensconsed in fortified locations in the warehouse.  I did manage to capture his hmg abandoned by a broken squad but in return one of my guys went beserk and charged into 20-2 fire in the street.  He was reduced to a greasy red stain in short order and I started to get anxious.  My casualties were mounting, my flankers were tardy and time was starting to run out.

Things looked up a bit as my flankers surged to the stone wall that was the last barrier before the warehouse itself and the surviving units in the centre finally made it through the smoke without more than superficial burns.  Leaping over the fence into a house defended by a single squad my flankers prepared to rout the defenders and press on to victory.  Of course it didn't happen like that.  That single Chinese squad tied my attackers up for three CC phases and suddenly I was desperately short of time.

Finally I decided on a desperate expedient.  Ivan had been defending the warehouse by shooting during my turn and skulking back out of sight in his own.  Scraping together my, now somewhat tattered, right wing force I advanced them all out into the street in a row of hexes adjacent to the factory.  Now Ivan had a choice, he could skulk in his turn and allow me into the warehouse or stand his ground and try and wipe out my force.  He chose option two without success.  His point blank shots battered me a little but most of my sturdy troopers hung tough and shattered him with their return fire.  To make matters better I finally wiped out the Chinese squad in the building and pushed a pair of squads into the rear of the warehouse.

Ivan was essentially surrounded, most of his troops were broken or dead and I had a turn and ample troops to destroy the rest.  I honestly thought I had it won but Ivan didn't quail.  Scraping together the remnants of his firepower he destroyed my troops in the fortified hex I had captured and advanced back in himself.  Now things were a little less certain but I still had the firepower to finish the job. I poured a mass of fire into one of his few defended hexes and rolled boxcars.  The failure of the subsequent, less impressive attacks was almost irrelevant.  One more turn would have won it for me but alas I had fallen with my nose an inch from the finish line.

This was a great scenario.  On two separate occasions both Ivan and I thought we were definitely going to win or were certain to lose but it still came down to the last turn and almost the last roll of the dice with Ivan maintaining his personal morale to pull off a win.  I on the other hand collapsed weeping under a table, and that was before we started.