Thursday, August 26, 2004

Mail Call

Time to share a few interesting e-mails I've received in the last couple of days. Thank you for writing them.

First we have an e-mail from Shawn Andrich (Certis) of Gamers With Jobs ( Those guys have done a better job of building a site from scratch and cultivating a dynamic, vibrant community than anyone I know. In less than two years, they've gone from zero to...well, something much larger than zero. If you've never visited, I think you'll enjoy your time there.

Having said that, here's his (edited) e-mail:
I find it pretty telling that you would file Tropico under the RTS category, even the box doesn't claim it to be such. It's definitely more of a strategy, world build "sim" sort of game than what many might consider a "true" RTS. I think you might like Rome: Total War better if your soldiers complained of sore feet and demanded better sandals before being crushed by elephants.

You sir, do not like the genre in its purist form. How can your heart not swell after the Romans are routed and your troops cheer as your cavalry chase down the survivors like the dogs they are?

Did I mention that the guys at Gamers With Jobs are witty? Well, they are. In this case, though, Shawn makes an excellent point. I'm always holding up Tropico as the shining light of RTS games when the case can be made that it doesn't even belong in that genre.

I think Shawn is actually right about my reaction to 'pure' RTS games. As their very form involves large numbers of units crushing other large numbers of units, maybe the genre is impersonal and dispassionate by design. So being personal and passionate is not the point of an RTS game at all.

Having said all that, though, I really enjoyed Shogun: Total War, so maybe I'm not totally hopeless.

Next is an e-mail from Francesco Poli, who I'm very happy to say appears to be our man on the ground in Italy. He sent along two links about mortadella to dispel my prejudice against the meat based on my firm philosophical positions against both fat and death. The first link is to a page from the Salami Institute (yes, there is one) that explains both the origin and requirements for authentic mortadella. The page is here (, but here's a taste (that pun has visible fat pockets):
Mortadella Bologna may be oval or cylindrical in shape. Its texture must be close and inelastic. When cut the Mortadella Bologna will be smooth and uniformly pink in colour. Each slice must be composed of at least fifteen per cent of small pearly-white squares of animal fat. The squares of fat must be evenly distributed and firmly embedded in the meat mixture.

Fifteen per cent fat isn't much at all. Do you think they could paint those little fat pockets a different color, like maybe the color--of meat?

The second link is to a page ( that explains the origin of the word 'mortadella.' Here are the applicable paragraphs (please note: all fat pockets have been removed):
The "Mortadella" whose origin dates back to the middle-ages derives its name from 'mortar'.
Monks would mince pork meat in a mortar and this gave birth to its name. According to the Dominican Friar, Labat(1706) the "mortadella" consisted of donkey meat, wild boar meat and domestic pig meat.

So there you have it. Mortadella apparently does not mean 'meat of the dead,' and I can't tell you how dismayed I am about that. The world is a darker and less humorous place now.

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