Houdini Blues

Issue 4, July 2, 2001

Welcome to this, the fourth issue of Houdini Blues, a subzine of TAP edited by Michael Lowrey, 6903 Kentucky Derby Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215. My email address is mlowrey@infi.net or call me nights at (704) 569-4269. Bonus points if you catch the music reference in the subzine name.

© 2001 by Michael Lowrey. All right reserved.

First of all, some administrative notes. Houdini Blues has a game opening in Regular Diplomacy. This is a continuation of the game opening I had in CCC, for which Matthew Matz, Saul Spiel, Brendan Mooney, Fred Wiedemeyer, Dan Gorham, and Frank Easton had signed up. If you're one of these folks, drop me a line and confirm that you're still interested. The game fee is $5 plus you must, of course, get TAP.

I'll be on vacation July 11th through the 25th. I'm off to visit my parents and grandparents in Germany. I will also be leaving Davidson College as of July 31 and be going into writing and consulting full-time while also doing some teaching.

farm size has increased over the years. In 1978 there were some 188,650 tobacco farms in the U.S.; by 1997 the number was down to 89,700. Of the farmers in 1997 most were comparatively small ­ only some 3,600 were of 50 acres or larger. Still, compared to 20 years earlier, the number of tobacco farms of 50 acres or more had increased by 128 percent.

The substantial market-share declines and reductions in the number of small tobacco farmers have come despite (or perhaps because of) the tobacco price support program. The tobacco program, as current designed, attempts to guarantee growers a "fair" price for their crop by restricting production. The government does this by assigning "quota" or the right to grow a certain amount of tobacco in a certain county. These production rights are inheritable and transferable - the holder can sell them, or lease them out if they do not want to grow tobacco themselves. This, of course, creates "haves" those with the legal right to grow tobacco, and "have not", those without quota. The results are rather predictable - those fortunate enough to own quota do much better than those that don't and are forced to lease the right to grow. The Tobacco Commission recommends eliminating the current quota system. Actually, a better term would be "buy out" quota holders, who would receive a payment of $8 per pound for the average amount of quota they held from 1997 to 1999. Growers would also receive a payment of $4 per pound if they gave up tobacco farming or $2 per pound otherwise. Payment would generally be spread out over five years with the funds coming from an additional 17 cent a pack tax on cigarettes.

While eliminating the quota arrangement is certainly a step in the right direction, the Tobacco Commission's recommendations still miss the mark. The problems facing American tobacco farmer stem from high costs. Yet the commission would continue to restrict production in an attempt to guarantee farmers a "fair" (higher) price for their crops. To make matters worse, the production limits hurt both small and more efficient farmers. By massing future production allocations on existing output, small farmers will still be able to produce only small amounts of tobacco under the commission's proposal. Efficient, low cost growers ­ the sort of growers needed if the tobacco industry is to survive in North Carolina or the U.S. ­ would also find it difficult if not impossible to increase production. Proposals to eliminate production restrictions were rejected by the commission, in large part because they might lead to lower tobacco prices and, ultimately, higher cigarette consumption.

The political realities in Washington may well prevent the passage of any new taxes on cigarettes, rendering the Tobacco Commission's unworkable. Yet even if the political will exists to address the issue, the commission's proposals will not guarantee a vibrant tobacco industry in the U.S.

The deadline for all games is July 27.

Tobacco Commission Misses Mark

In recent weeks a proposal by a presidential commission studying tobacco farming and public health has generated much attention in North Carolina. While there is much in the Tobacco Commission's Final Report, the basics are simple enough. The commission was appointed by President Clinton with the aims of finding ways to reduce smoking and its associated negative health effects while protecting tobacco grower's income. This seemingly contradictory set of goals is reconciled by the commission through a proposed higher cigarette tax that would provide extra money to tobacco farmers and fund efforts to reduce smoking. Unfortunately, the result is a policy that, if adopted, would not do little to assure the vibrancy of tobacco farming in the U.S.

The focus of the commission's report is clearly on the issues facing tobacco growers; roughly three-quarters of the final report is given over to production issues. Recent years have been tough on American (and North Carolina) tobacco farmers. Domestic cigarette consumption peaked in 1981. The increasing popularity of smokes in certain developing nations hasn't been much help to American growers; U.S. tobacco, though often of very high quality, is simply not price competitive on the international market. Increasingly, this problem has extended to U.S.-made cigarettes as well; just over half (52 percent) of the tobacco used in domestically-manufactured cigarettes today is grown within the U.S. As recently as 25 years ago, it was over 80 percent.

The Tobacco commission makes much of the need to protect the small tobacco farmer. The number of tobacco farmers has also been in decline for many years, though the average

Harald Haarfager

Viking Dip, Spring 958

Pete Conrad (99I)

Diplomacy, Spring 1908

Denmark (6) dan, fla, fri, par, sax, thu

England (7) ice, ire, lon, nmd, sco, wes, yor

Sweden (12) ark, bir, fnl, got, hed, nid, nov, nrl, pol, ski, str, zea

Notes: Deadline for Fall 958 is July 27.

Old proposals: S win and E win fail (1 to1) 1, ES and DES draws fail (0 to 2)

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Denmark Steve Mauris (sjmauris@hotmail.com)

F Fri-Hel, A Jut S A Sax-Hed, A Sax-Hed, A Thu H (d, meck, pal, par, otb), F Dan S A Jut

England Kevin Wilson (CKevinW@aol.com)

A Lon-Str, F Nth C A Lon-Str, F NAt S A Lon-Str, A Fio-Ski, F Eng ChH S F Nth, F NoCh-Sco, F Nmd H

Sweden Pat Conlon (aparrotlaughsat40@msn.com)

Build A Nrl, A Bir, F Got. A Nrl-Lap, A Bir-Ski, F Ska C A Bir-Ski, F Got-NBS, A Lit-Thu, A Pol S A Lit-Thu, A Hed-Sax, F Zea-Hed, F Kat S F Zea-Hed, F SBS S F Zea-Hed, A Ski-Fio, F Str H (d, nid, otb)

Press: Sweden-England: What? Cat got your tongue? I still stand by my contention that, had you convoyed into France earlier, this would be a simple ES draw. C'mon, cede the throne to Sweden. We'll dine together on danishes.

Austria (6) bud, gre, ser, tri, ven, vie

England (6) edi, lon, lpl, nwy, stp, swe

France (13) bel, ber, bre, den, hol, kie, mar, mun, nap, par, por, spa, tun

Germany (1) war

Italy (1) rom

Turkey (7) ank, bul, con, mos, rum, sev, smy

Deadline for Spring 1908 is July 27.

Notes: We have a season separation by player request with press held over as a result. Harry Andruschak has resign for medical reason; Mark Kinney is the Austrian player. The map is on the next page beside the player's mailing addresses.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Austria Mark Kinney (alberich@iglou.com)

Build A Bud. Has A Bud, A Tri, A Vie, A Ven, A Gal, F Alb

England Paul Milewski (yellowpajamas@hotmail.com)

Build A Lpl. Has A Lpl, F Nth, A Nwy, A Fin, A Stp, F Bar

France Steve Mauris (sjmauris@hotmail.com)

Build A Par, F Mar, F Bre. Has A Par, F Mar, F Bre, A Pic, A Kie, A Ber, A Boh, A Tyl, A Sil, F Hol, F Lvn, F Tun, F Nap

Germany Fred Wiedemeyer (wiedem@planet.eon.net)

NMR! GM removes A Ukr. Has A War

Italy Steve Cooley (scooley1@mediaone.net)

Remove A Apu. Has A Rom

Turkey Pat Conlon (aparrotlaughsat40@msn.com)

Remove A Bul. Has F Ion, F Aeg, F Adr, A Mos, A Sev, A Pru, A Rum


Outpost, Turn 13

Bartertown Mark II (York) now transfers population.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Deadline: Turn fourteen orders are due July 27.

Purchase Order: HICK, SARA, Little Green Men, Exploitation Unlimited, Bartertown Mark II, Major Miner, HBDC IV.

Upgrades available: (minimum bid in parentheses) Outpost (100), 2 Ecoplant (30), Robots (50), Scientists (40), 2 Heavy Equipment (30)

Yet to be delivered: 2/3 Outposts, 0/1 Ecoplants, 1/2 Laboratories, 4/5 Robots, 1/2 Orbital Labs, 2/3 Scientists

Notes: The new deliveries were an Outpost, Robots, and scientists. Exploitation Unlimited, HICK, Little Green Men, and SARA each take a MegaWater card. The only Outposts that can buy population (unless they win the Outpost) are SARA (two more population allowed) and Exploitation Unlimited (one allowed).

Press: SARA-World: Our new corporate motto is "Better Living Through New Chemistry!"

HICK (Hood) opens the bidding on the Outpost, which Little Green Men wins for 131 (Mi18, Ti11, Ti11, Ti10, Ti8, MWa, Wa10, Wa8, discount). HICK then opens the bidding on and wins for 66 the Orbital Lab 67 (Re14, Ti7, Ti7, MWa, Wa9). HICK also buys a population factor (Wa6).

SARA (Andruschak) buys a New Chemicals Factory (Re14, Ti9, Wa8, Wa8, Wa7, Wa6, Wa5, Wa3) and three population (MWa) to man various plants.

Little Green Men (Partridge) now transfers population.

Exploration Unlimited (Hassler) opens the bidding on the Laboratory, which Bartertown wins for 102 (Ti13, Ti13, Ti12, Ti12, Ti12, Ti12, Ti11, Ti9, Ti8). Exploration Unlimited then buys a New Chemicals Factory (Re13, Mi15, MWa, O r2) and transfers population to it.

Major Miner (Conlon) buys a New Chemical Factory (Re14, NC20, Ti12, Ti9, Wa9) and transfers population to it.

HBDC IV (Wilson) buys a New Chemical Factory (Re15, Wa9, Wa9, Wa9, Wa6, Wa6, Or5, Or1) and transfers population to it.

Outpost Factories   Upgrades   VP
HICK OrF, OrF, 7 x WaF, 3 x TiF   HE, No, No, OL, La, EP 31
S.A.R.A. OrF, OrF, 9 x WaF, NCF, NCF Wa, No, No, Sc, OP 29
Little Green Men OrF, OrF, WaF, 5 x WaF, 2 x TiF DL, HE, No, OL, EP, OP 26
Exploitation Unlimited OrF, OrF, 4 x WaF, NCF, NCF DL, Wa, No, Sc, OL, OL 23
Bartertown II OrF, OrF, WaF, WaF, WaF, TiF, 4 x TiF Wa, HE, La, EP 21
Major Miner OrF, OrF, WaF, WaF, TiF, TiF, NCF DL, Wa, HE, La 18
HBDC IV   2 x OrF, 2 x WaF, ReF, NCF   DL, DL, DL, Wa, La 16




Houdini Blues Diplomacy Player Addresses

Pat Conlon P.O. Box 1413, Mammouth Lakes CA 93546

Steve Cooley 23927 Ranney House Ct,Valencia CA 91355

Steve Mauris HQ TFF, G2, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, APO AE 09340

Paul Milewski 7 Mallard Dr, Amelia OH 45102

Mark Kinney 4820 Westmar Terrace #6, Louisville KY 40222

F. Wiedemeyer 975 Jordan Crescent, Edmonton AB T6L - 7A6, Canada

Kevin Wilson 373 Gateford Dr, Ballwin MO 63021