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About Nate

Nate is a contributor and past co-host on the “Arsenal For Democracy” show. He was previously the co-founder of the Starboard Broadside political blog with Bill in 2008.

My War

New video game review: “This War of Mine”

Scavenging in the ruins of a bombed-out school, Pavle was able to locate wood, water, scrap parts, tobacco and vital medicine for his compatriots. Icy temperatures had led to an outbreak of sickness in the ruined building that Pavle and three other survivors were squatting in to avoid snipers. I had neglected to build a vital furnace in the early days of the game. Pavle’s nighttime excursions, which often meant dodging armed patrols and hostile civilians, were critical for gathering the food and supplies necessary for the daily struggle for survival in “This War of Mine.”

An image from one of the trailer videos for "This War of Mine."

An image from one of the trailer videos for “This War of Mine.”

Released last month on Steam for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux by the Polish company 11-Bit studios, “This War of Mine” is a gritty, haunting simulation of life during the Siege of Sarajevo in the war in Bosnia. By day, you race to construct everything from armchairs to moonshine stills. By night, you must risk everything to find the supplies vital to survival. The game is reminiscent of Minecraft in both its addictiveness and the depth of its crafting system. I played for hours straight, angrily restarting when I felt I had done a poor job of gathering resources (or when my characters started starving). Before long, you are anxiously cooking food and carefully apportioning supplies, lest any of the characters you’ve become invested in die from wounds, sickness, starvation, or suicide.

The game forces you to make complex moral decisions that could potentially affect your group’s morale. If you aid the various neighbors who come calling for your assistance, you will lose a player for the night but increase the happiness of your group. Steal from from a family and, despite the necessities of survival, your group might get angry. Sometimes it pays to do both — I once traded medicine to a sick old man and then cleaned out his basement of rare supplies and weapons, darting out the back exit when the old man’s son came to check on the noise downstairs. In another incident, Zlata raided a supply crate with a neighbor and I was later offered food and cigarettes by soldiers if we ratted out our neighbors as supply crate thieves (I refused). Cigarettes and books can also increase the group’s happiness.

Smart players will find ways to survive through the barter system. Moonshine and homemade cigarettes can be traded for food and medicine with a traveling salesman, soldiers or friendly civilians. Trade for and cook with vegetables to double food yield.

Although not an impossibly difficult or complex game, “This War of Mine” is appropriately unforgiving for beginners — only after several runs though were my citizens comfortable after a week. My really only complaint is the limited space in some characters backpacks — only a few characters had anything beyond 10 spaces. While frustrating, this really forces the player to make tough choices about supplies. Perhaps the controls for guns could be a bit better, as my scavenger is often killed by bandits before I can fire. That’s probably on me, however, and not my civilians.

While not one of the flashy, cinematic shooters that dominate game shelves these days, “This War of Mine” is a more compelling and realistic war game than any “Call of Duty” released recently. Highly addictive and challenging, “This War of Mine” is a must-own on Steam.

December 3, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 109

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Topics: Big Ideas – Cash transfers for poverty; Nigerian politics; US state legislatures. People: Bill, Nate, Sasha. Produced: December 1st, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Ideas: Are cash transfers more effective on poverty than “workfare” and tax cuts?
– Is Nigeria’s ruling PDP feeling threatened in the upcoming elections? Are Boko Haram attacks widening?
– What should we expect from US state legislatures after heavy Republican wins in 2014?

Episode 109 (53 min)
AFD 109

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: “Social inclusion, anti-poverty policy are great for the economy!”
The Globalist: “Bolivia: Where Socialism Appears to Work”
AFD: “Weirdly, tax cuts don’t solve poverty, finds UN in New Zealand”
AFD: “Indonesia debuts world’s largest cash transfer program ever”

Segment 2

AFD: “Report: Tear gas used in Nigeria parliament”
AFD: “Nigeria government raids opposition offices”
AFD: “Kano: Boko Haram strikes Nigeria’s 2nd largest city”
African Arguments: “Nigeria Forum – What Happens When Oil Prices Fall?”

Segment 3

AFD: “Beyond the Senate: The 2014 state losses”
Al Jazeera America: “The Democratic comeback plan”

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RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

November 26, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 108

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Topics: Big Ideas for Reforming American Governance – Rethinking Immigration; Volkswagen unionizes in Tennessee; Burkina Faso’s pseudo-civilian government. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: November 26th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Ideas: On immigration reform, do both Congressional Inaction and Executive Action miss the real causes of the current situation? Should immigration law be rewritten from the ground up?
– Can Volkswagen’s cooperative unionization of Tennessee workers serve as a model for other firms in the US?
– Has the military government of Burkina Faso co-opted the purported transition to civilian rule? Did foreign powers rush the transition?

Episode 108 (56 min)
AFD 108

Related links
Segment 2

AFD: “Volkswagen US still driving toward unionization”
Nashville Public Radio: “Labor Secretary Wants Volkswagen’s Tennessee Plant To Become A Model”

Segment 3

AFD: “Lt. Col. Isaac Zida: The Wolf of Ouagadougou”
War Is Boring (Medium): “Burkina Faso Made the Pentagon Nervous”

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

November 19, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 107

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Topics: Catalonia referendum, Soccer politics (FIFA, German hooligans, FC Chelsea, and more), and Illinois corruption. People: Bill, Nate, Persephone. Produced: November 17th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– What does the unofficial Catalonia referendum really mean for the region and Spain?
– Soccer Politics:

  • What’s next for FIFA after a bogus inquiry report summary?
  • Why are German soccer hooligans rallying against Muslims?
  • From Chelsea to Man City and beyond: Is big foreign money tainting the game?

– US midterms: Will Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner survive a brewing corruption scandal?

Episode 107 (52 min)
AFD 107

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: Just 3 in 10 back Catalonia independence in ridiculous referendum
AFD: Against Independence for Catalonia

Segment 2

NYT: FIFA Inquiry Clears Qatar and Russia in World Cup Bids
France24: German football hooligans join far-right protests
The Globalist: Chelsea and Beyond: How the Rich Will Destroy Soccer

Segment 3

AFD: Who wants to be … a millionaire Illinois ex-governor?

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

November 12, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 106

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Topics: US elections, Tunisia elections, Burkina Faso coup. People: Nate, Bill. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: November 10th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– US midterms: What happened? What’s next?
– What will the impact of the successful Tunisian elections be on the country itself and the region?
– Will Burkina Faso’s uprising lead to similar uprisings across sub-Saharan Africa?

Episode 106 (59 min)
AFD 106

Related links
Segment 1

Our 2014 Elections Coverage

Segment 2

The Economist: Tunisia’s presidential election: In the shade of Bourguiba
The Guardian: Tunisia election results: Nida Tunis wins most seats, sidelining Islamists
The Guardian: Tunisia is showing the Arab world how to nurture democracy | Soumaya Ghannoushi

Segment 3

Our Burkina Faso Coverage

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RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

October 8, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 102

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Topics: Colorado history curriculum fight, new rules on corporate tax avoidance via inversion (offshore reincorporation), Turkey’s role in Syria. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: October 5th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– How one Colorado county school board is trying to erase and control US history
– Will the new Treasury Department rules stop corporate offshore reincorporation and inversion that avoid taxes?
– What should Turkey’s role in Syria be? Is Turkey abusing its alliances?

Episode 102 (52 min)
AFD 102

Related links
Segment 1

The Colorado Independent: State Board of Ed member: ‘U.S. ended slavery voluntarily’
The Colorado Independent: JeffCo students walk out, join in battle over proposed curriculum reform
The Colorado Independent: The kids are all right: Students are the story in JeffCo curriculum clash
Al Jazeera America: Colorado students vow civil disobedience over curriculum ‘censorship’

Segment 2

AFD: Treasury Dept. acts to discourage tax avoidance mergers
The Globalist: Pfizer: Tax Havens or Bust!

Segment 3

AFD: Joe Biden made to apologize for publicly saying fact about Turkey
AFD: ISIS still moving faster than coalition forces on Kobani; will Turkey Enter?
Wikipedia: Tomb of Suleyman Shah

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RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

October 1, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 101

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Topics: UAE and Russia milestones for women in air and space, illegal contraception co-pays in the US, death penalty in Kenya case, Big Ideas in voting and internet technology, Thai government’s food robot. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: September 29th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– The 1st UAE female combat pilot, the 4th female cosmonaut, CVS charging illegal co-pays on contraception, and more
– Big Idea: Could the U.S. use the goal of secure internet voting as a moonshot project to strengthen internet security in general? What interim measures should be taken to make voting easier?
– Why Thailand’s government is trying to build a robot to measure Thai food authenticity

Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya:
Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya – AFD 101
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech:
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech – AFD 101
Part 3 – Thai Food:
Part 3 – Thai Food – AFD 101

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: Russia & UAE: A big week for women in air and space
Gawker: Fox News Host Calls Female Fighter Pilot “Boobs On the Ground”
House.gov: Congresswoman Speier Discovers CVS Illegally Charged 11,000 Women for Contraceptives
AFD: Kenya sentence an urgent reminder of the need for legal abortion

Segment 2

Wikipedia: Electronic voting in Estonia
ThinkProgress: Georgia State Senator Complains That Voting Is Too Convenient For Black People

Segment 3

New York Times: You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge
The Globalist: Exporting Japanese Food Culture

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.