Gerrymandering is not a game… Except when it is

Board Game Invented by Austin Siblings Takes on the Supreme Court, 32 Governors, and 37 State Legislatures

Three Austin siblings, Josh, Louis, and Rebecca Lafair, invented a board game, Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game, after growing up in a gerrymandered district (Texas Congressional District 10). They want to spread the word about gerrymandering in a fun, hands-on way. Moreover, they want to remind politicians that gerrymandering is not a game.

The Lafair siblings launched Mapmaker on Kickstarter on July 10th. They reached their funding goal in only 6 hours, with support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lawrence Lessig, David Daley, and other big voices in the anti-gerrymandering movement. The Kickstarter runs until August 8th. As part of the campaign, backers can buy games for themselves; their state legislators, who draw maps in 37 states; their governors, who veto maps in 32 of these states; and Supreme Court Justices, who rule on maps. Inside every box, the siblings are including a “Gerrymandering is Not a Game” proclamation.

High school senior Josh Lafair explains,

The more I learned about gerrymandering, the more I realized how terrible it is for our country. Today’s partisan divide can be traced back to gerrymandering. Non-competitive districts take away the incentive to compromise, so politicians don’t need to reach across the aisle.

“We’ve noticed that halfway through their first game, players often comment, ‘I finally get how packing and cracking works.’ Then they have deeper conversations about gerrymandering afterwards,” reveals Louis Lafair, who graduated last month from Stanford University.

Rebecca Lafair, a senior at Northeastern University, says, “Before 2021 redistricting, which will affect elections for the next decade, we hope to add momentum to the anti-gerrymandering movement.”

Mapmaker is not just a teaching tool or political gimmick. It is also a really fun game. Like real gerrymandering, it is full of scheming and strategizing, maneuvers and outmaneuvers. Steve Jackson, inventor of Munchkin and founder of Steve Jackson Games, describes his experience playing as “engrossing.” Aaron Schimmoller, a Settlers of Catan addict, calls Mapmaker “better than Catan.” Over one hundred people have playtested and helped the Lafair siblings improve Mapmaker.

This is not their first game. At age 11, Louis invented his first board game, which was subsequently published by Go! Games. The Austin area publisher is partnering with them for their Kickstarter campaign to ensure high quality production and seamless fulfillment.

You can support Mapmaker on Kickstarter, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. For more information about the board game, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]m.

Day 1 of Hell

170120195839-03-trump-signs-exec-orders-super-teaseTwo executive orders were issued tonight. The first basically prohibits all government agencies from implementing any rules. They can send nothing to the Office of the Federal Register. Remember, while Congress passes laws, it’s the agencies that implement them, and they do so via regulations sent to OFR for public review and comment and then implementation. (Full memo after the jump.)

The second order basically allows Ben Carson to do anything possible to prevent the ACA from functioning. Again, full text after the jump. Welcome to North Korea — they are dismantling the Federal government, just like they said they would. And in answer to the question: why are you publishing this? I say: so that there is a record.
[Read more…]

Gen. Castellaw on Trump’s Latest Insult to US Military

Former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John Castellaw released this response yesterday to Trump’s comment that he could sit down and teach a couple of things to former Army War College dean and retired Army Colonel, Jeff McCausland:

— by Lieutenant General John Castellaw

Retired generals and admirals hold a press conference supporting Hillary Clinton for Commander in Chief.  (Photo: Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Retired generals and admirals hold a press conference supporting Hillary Clinton for Commander in Chief. (Photo: Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Donald Trump’s disrespect for our military knows no bounds. This week, as brave American troops embarked on a crucial mission supporting anti-ISIS forces in Iraq, Trump was already declaring defeat. He called our leaders stupid for not following his uninformed advice. And now he’s personally insulting a military expert and retired Army Colonel who served for 30 years for knocking his ‘plan.’

A complex operation to take a major city – with hundreds of thousands of civilians, untold traps and IEDs, and the possibility of street-to-street fighting – requires careful planning and methodical execution, not a fly-by-night bum’s rush.

But sadly, none of this is surprising coming from Donald Trump. Over the course of this campaign, he has claimed to know more about military operations than our generals do. He has mocked U.S. prisoners of war. He has insulted Gold Star families. He has joked about how he always wanted a Purple Heart. He has never apologized for any of it. He calls our military a ‘disaster’ and then turns around and asks the country to make him our Commander-in-Chief. It’s a disgrace, and we can never let him assume that sacred role.

Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (ret) led Marines around the world for 36 years while flying more than two dozen different types of aircraft. Castellaw served with the UN during the Siege of Sarajevo, commanded the American force in the multi-national security and stability operation in East Timor, and as the chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command at the height of the war in Iraq.

Philadelphia Jewish Voice Past President Ronit Treatman Honored

Tonight, we gathered not only to mark the anniversary of our paper, but to honor Ronit Treatman, whose role with The Philadelphia Jewish Voice has been critical to our growth and success.

Dan presents menorah to Ronit

Dan Loeb, founder and publisher of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, presents a silver menorah to immediate past president Ronit Treatman in thanks for her leadership. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

 

Ronit began writing for us in 2009. She soon became a regular contributor to the food column, “The Kosher Table,” which was founded by Lisa Tuttle. Ronit eventually succeeded Lisa as food editor in 2010.

Ronit’s food column allows our readers to meet innovative people who are influencing what we eat and how we consume it. The readers are attracted by delicious food which Ronit and her writers present, but she does not simply present recipes. Instead, the reader is invited to explore culinary trends and ingredients, and the way they are intertwined with Jewish history, geography, and traditions.

Ronit is our guide as we can travel around the world and experience its diverse Jewish communities, and the native flavors found in their regional culinary specialties. She helps us discover our own local farms, artisan purveyors, and restaurants.

Ronit passionately embraces new technology – spearheading the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s use of social media – and incorporating video in her columns. For example, her video in colonial garb, showing how cholent was prepared in America hundreds of years ago.

Ronit’s writing has an international appeal. In fact, her article on kosher locust attracted attention around the world and landed her an interview on the Public Radio International’s program, “The World”.

Beyond her column, Ronit helps in all aspects of our paper and its leadership. Ronit has just concluded two years as president of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. She served with her usual thorough, intelligent and insightful approach, helping to build the publication and encourage its volunteers, presiding over a period of growth, innovation and success for The Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Treatman family

The Treatman family. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

 

Ronit is a wonderful ambassador for the modern Jewish family and for her love of Israel. She was born in Israel and has lived in Ethiopia and Venezuela before settling in Philadelphia. She graduated from the International School of Caracas, is fluent in five languages and has a B.S. in international business from Temple University.

Ronit’s devotion to The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is typical of her commitment to Israel and the Jewish Community. Ronit served as a volunteer with the Liaison to Foreign Forces Unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). She and her husband – the successful lawyer and real estate developer Howard Treatman – are active members of the Germantown Jewish Centre. She is committed to fighting the Boycott, Divest & Sanction movement and anti-Zionist propaganda in our community.

Ronit’s children Devorah, David and Hannah share their parents’ passion for Israel. They have attended Jewish day schools, and Devorah recently completed her service in the IDF. With such role models it is no wonder that the children are carrying on their parents’ commitment to community and leadership.

Please Support the Philadelphia Jewish Voice


Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s board members celebrate winning second place for online presence in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s 2011 Newspaper of the Year Competition.

Dear Readers,

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is a completely virtual organization. All of our authors are unpaid volunteers, who write because they love to do so. We run a very tight ship, with few expenses and almost no advertising.

In order to continue doing what we do, we rely on you, our readers, to contribute financially.

We expect to implement some exciting changes to our site in the coming year. Please give as generously as possible — no amount is too modest.

Thank you!

To pay by credit card or paypal, click here:

Checks should be sent to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice treasurer, Eric Smolen, 327 Pembroke Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is organized pursuant to Pennsylvania’s non-profit corporation law. We have tax-exempt status under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3). Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

More ways in which you can help after the jump.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is an online community-based newspaper and we appreciate your commitment of any kind. Besides financial donations, you can help us in many ways:

Sincerely yours,

Dan Loeb,
Publisher

Ronit Treatman
President