An excerpt from a letter to his oldest son Theodore Jr.
I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of any one's existence. I don't want you to sacrifice standing well in your studies to any over-athleticism; and I need not tell you that character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master. Did you ever read Pliny's letter to Trajan, in which he speaks of its being advisable to keep the Greeks absorbed in athletics, because it distracted their minds from all serious pursuits, including soldiering, and prevented their ever being dangerous to the Romans? I have not a doubt that the British officers in the Boer War had their efficiency partly reduced because they had sacrificed their legitimate duties to an inordinate and ridiculous love of sports. A man must develop his physical prowess up to a certain point; but after he has reached that point there are other things that count more.
In my regiment nine-tenths of the men were better horsemen than I was, and probably two-thirds of them better shots than I was, while on the average they were certainly hardier and more enduring. Yet after I had had them a very short while they all knew, and I knew too, that nobody else could command them as I could. I am glad you should play football; I am glad that you should box; I am glad that you should ride and shoot and walk and row as well as you do. I should be very sorry if you did not do these things. But don't ever get into the frame of mind which regards these things as constituting the end to which all your energies must be devoted, or even the major portion of your energies.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
An old man was asked "What is humility?" And he said, "It is when your brother sins against you, and you forgive him before he comes to ask for forgiveness."
- From the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
- From the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Last Friday night I played A House Divided again, this time with my friend Dan. I've discussed this game before, when I played it with my son. Lesson learned: never assume you know everything about playing a game. This was pretty well hubris on my part anyway, having played the game only once before. Dan comprehended the movement rules much better than I did and used them to his advantage. As I think I explained before, the game lasts for 40 turns, from mid-1861 to mid-1865. Well our game was over in 14 months. He used the movement rules to their best advantage and swept through the South picking off my major cities with frightening speed while I made a few half-hearted attempts at invading the North. I did not adequately reinforce my cities, particularly Richmond, which fell to Union forces with embarrassing ease.
The Confederacy starts off with a numerical disadvantage, which quickly becomes more acute. There is a limit to the number of units either side can have on the board, relevant to the number of 'recruiting cities' each side holds. I probed into the North trying to cut down on Dan's recruitment total, but did not have the manpower to do both that and defend my own (outnumbered) cities. Moreover, when recruiting new units, the units must be of 'Militia' quality (the two higher qualities are 'Veteran' and 'Crack') and if you don't have any available Militia counters you can't bring in any new units. The Union had a bigger pool of Militia units and so the Union forces grew faster than my Confederate forces. This may make it sound like the Confederacy is greatly disadvantaged, but I'm (as I found out) not familiar enough yet to say if it is. What it does not do at all is excuse my poor game play. I didn't take the aforementioned facts into account in my strategy, and it cost me. As Dan's forces grew in number and quality I simply couldn't keep up. The units I wasted in my poorly-planned offense might have kept him from romping through Alabama and Louisiana for a while, but they weren't there.
Still, despite the agony of defeat, it was a good game. I had a few moments of glory, and certainly I'll be a better player the next time I play. Plus, an evening's play with a good friend and good coffee can't be anything but a good thing. I look forward to the next game.
Sorry, no pictures of this game were taken.