December 31, 2011

Another day on the PCH

Same old same old, south of Carmel.  Gets tedious after a while.  More of the same further down the road.

December 29, 2011

Guess the country

The Party will require voters to sign a loyalty oath in order to participate in the election.

December 28, 2011

The Depths of Infamy

Now the harsh, cold truth emerges about North Korea's late, unlamented Kim Jong-Il.  It turns out that he not only allowed golf, the revisionist bastard (Mao banned it), but then lied about his score.  So, not just a monstrous tyrant, but also a cad.  Good riddance.

Some handle the Hollywood lifestyle better than others

Farewell, Cheetah.

December 27, 2011

The Trail of Tears

I must say, that was a brilliant fantasy season.  Also, for me, educational.

Drafting Peyton Manning seemed like a good idea at the time.  But it condemned me to a season of searching the waiver wire for a competent quarterback - and, inadvertently, gave me a better understanding of the realities of professional football.  Here is a résumé of Aggressionator quarterbacking this season:

The Doomed

One thing I learned this year is that a key competency of quarterbacks is staying out of the hospital.  Kolb and Schaub are probably the best quarterbacks I played this year, but both got knocked out - Schaub should be back next year following surgery, but Kolb's injuries look more ominous.
  • Kevin Kolb (4 games) - Knocked out in week 8
  • Matt Schaub (2 games) - Knocked out in week 12
  • Jason Campbell (1 game) - Knocked out in week 6

The One Hit Wonders

My astute search for key matchups I could exploit was an utter failure.  A good quarterback against the Raven's defense is a better bet than a bad quarterback against Cleveland.
  • Matt Moore (1 game) - Tantalizing as he helmed the Dolphins in their undead resurgence, but Miami's probably going to move on.
  • Vince Young (1 game) - That one game, week 13, was the only one in which he scored meaningful points all season.  Some day the glory days will return.
  • Andy Dalton (1 game) - People act as if he's good or something.  He got me 13.02 fantasy points before going back to the waiver wire.
  • Rex Grossman (1 game) - Was it really so crazy?  After all, Kyle Orton matured into a capable NFL quarterback (at least temporarily) and Mike Shanahan mentored me crazy, but I think I see a little Elway in Rex Grossman...  And he delivered:  7.92 fantasy points.  From my diary:  "Week 5 - I have hit rock bottom."  

The Adequate

In the NFL there aren't enough good quarterbacks to go around, so guys who can stay healthy and not utterly embarrass themselves are actually valuable.
  • Josh Freeman (3 games) - He stayed upright and on the field, held his starting job, and gave me about 15.0 points a game.  He's in the Alex Smith zone - everyone's disappointed, but no one's good enough to take his job.

The WTF!?

Come seven, come eleven, I need a big game.  Who's this guy, he had big week last week...?
  • Joe Webb (2 games).  Webb scored zero points in the first game I started him, because his coach inconveniently chose not to put him on the field.  He didn't start the second game either, but when Ponder (and Peterson) went down he delivered the best quarterback performance of the Aggressionators' season (20.8 points) one half.

The whole experience taught me that the career of assured excellence is an illusion, that all lives are ruled by contingency, and that the true warrior must strive at highest level with no reasonable hope of sustained success, health, or adoration.  Coaches, fans, and the media are fickle, and these superb athletes who risk all are inevitably treated as interchangeable parts in a heartless corporate enterprise.

Which is what they deserve, since they didn't perform very well for my fantasy team.

December 25, 2011

Wishes of the Season

December 24, 2011

The Rainbow Orchid, vols. 1-2

9 year-old guest blogger reports:

Filled with action, suspense, and humor, The Rainbow Orchid books (link) are a magnificent piece of art.

Illustrated by Garen Ewing, they take us from England to France, and from France to India,  all in search the mythical Rainbow Orchid.  Drawn almost exactly like Herge's Tintin albums, the characters leap off every page as they search.

I recommend it to all who fancy 1930-style comics.

Our 2011 Garland

"Shakespeare and Christmas", by Fr*nk N*rris, in Max Beerbohm's wondrous A Christmas Garland (link) -

That Shakespeare hated Christmas—hated it with a venom utterly alien to the gentle heart in him—I take to be a proposition that establishes itself automatically. If there is one thing lucid-obvious in the Plays and Sonnets, it is Shakespeare's unconquerable loathing of Christmas. The Professors deny it, however, or deny that it is proven. With these gentlemen I will deal faithfully. I will meet them on their own parched ground, making them fertilise it by shedding there the last drop of the water that flows through their veins.

If you find, in the works of a poet whose instinct is to write about everything under the sun, one obvious theme untouched, or touched hardly at all, then it is at least presumable that there was some good reason for that abstinence. Such a poet was Shakespeare. It was one of the divine frailties of his genius that he must be ever flying off at a tangent from his main theme to unpack his heart in words about some frivolous-small irrelevance that had come into his head. If it could be shown that he never mentioned Christmas, we should have proof presumptive that he consciously avoided doing so. But if the fact is that he did mention it now and again, but in grudging fashion, without one spark of illumination—he, the arch-illuminator of all things—then we have proof positive that he detested it.

 I see Dryasdust thumbing his Concordance. Let my memory save him the trouble.  I will reel him off the one passage in which Shakespeare spoke of Christmas in words that rise to the level of mediocrity.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time. 

So says Marcellus at Elsinore. This is the best our Shakespeare can vamp up for the birthday of the Man with whom he of all men had the most in common. And Dryasdust, eternally unable to distinguish chalk from cheese, throws up his hands in admiration of the marvellous poetry. If Dryasdust had written it, it would more than pass muster. But as coming from Shakespeare, how feeble-cold—aye, and sulky-sinister! The greatest praiser the world will ever know!—and all he can find in his heart to sing of Christmas is a stringing-together of old women's superstitions! Again and again he has painted Winter for us as it never has been painted since—never by Goethe even, though Goethe in more than one of the Winter-Lieder touched the hem of his garment. There was every external reason why he should sing, as only he could have sung, of Christmas. The Queen set great store by it. She and her courtiers celebrated it year by year with lusty-pious unction. And thus the ineradicable snob in Shakespeare had the most potent of all inducements to honour the feast with the full power that was in him. But he did not, because he would not.

For many years I hunted it vainly. The second time that I met Carlyle I tried to enlist his sympathy and aid. He sat pensive for a while and then said that it seemed to him "a goose-quest." I replied, "You have always a phrase for everything, Tom, but always the wrong one." He covered his face, and presently, peering at me through his gnarled fingers, said "Mon, ye're recht." I discussed the problem with Renan, with Emerson, with Disraeli, also with Cetewayo—poor Cetewayo, best and bravest of men, but intellectually a Professor, like the rest of them. It was borne in on me that if I were to win to the heart of the mystery I must win alone.

The solution, when suddenly it dawned on me, was so simple-stark that I was ashamed of the ingenious-clever ways I had been following. (I learned then—and perhaps it is the one lesson worth the learning of any man—that truth may be approached only through the logic of the heart. For the heart is eye and ear, and all excellent understanding abides there.) On Christmas Day, assuredly, Anne Hathaway was born.

If there be any doubting Thomas among my readers, let him not be afraid to utter himself. I am (with the possible exception of Shakespeare) the gentlest man that ever breathed, and I do but bid him study the Plays in the light I have given him. The first thing that will strike him is that Shakespeare's thoughts turned constantly to the birthdays of all his Fitton-heroines, as a lover's thoughts always do turn to the moment at which the loved one first saw the light. "There was a star danced, and under that" was born Beatrice. Juliet was born "on Lammas Eve." Marina tells us she derived her name from the chance of her having been "born at sea." And so on, throughout the whole gamut of women in whom Mary Fitton was bodied forth to us. But mark how carefully Shakespeare says never a word about the birthdays of the various shrews and sluts in whom, again and again, he gave us his wife. When and were was born Queen Constance, the scold? And Bianca? And Doll Tearsheet, and "Greasy Jane" in the song, and all the rest of them? It is of the last importance that we should know. Yet never a hint is vouchsafed us in the text. It is clear that Shakespeare cannot bring himself to write about Anne Hathaway's birthday—will not stain his imagination by thinking of it. That is entirely human-natural. But why should he loathe Christmas Day itself with precisely the same loathing? There is but one answer—and that inevitable-final. The two days were one.

Some soul-secrets are so terrible that the most hardened realist of us may well shrink from laying them bare. Such a soul-secret was this of Shakespeare's. Think of it! The gentlest spirit that ever breathed, raging and fuming endlessly in impotent-bitter spleen against the prettiest of festivals! Here is a spectacle so tragic-piteous that, try as we will, we shall not put it from us. And it is well that we should not, for in our plenary compassion we shall but learn to love the man the more.
[Mr. Fr*nk H*rr*s is very much a man of genius, and I should be sorry if this adumbration of his manner made any one suppose that I do not rate his writings about Shakespeare higher than those of all "the Professors" together.—M.B.]

Special Eisengeiste dedication to Hitchens.

December 22, 2011

That odd feeling again


Hard-Core Art Facts. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fascinating and sobering, from Bureau of Labor Statistics on the Profession of Art.   I especially love the definitions.

"Artists held about 221,900 jobs in 2008. About 60 percent were self-employed. Employment was distributed as follows:

Art directors 84,200
Multimedia artists and animators 79,000
Fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators 23,600
Craft artists 13,600
Artists and related workers, all other 21,500

For better or worse, artists are key culture producers. Noted: Lawyers held about 759,200 jobs in 2008.  In other words, there are 33 attorneys for every fine artist. 

 Artists create art to communicate ideas, thoughts, or feelings. They use a variety of methods—painting, sculpting, or illustration—and an assortment of materials, including oils, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, pencils, pen and ink, plaster, clay, and computers. Artists' works may be realistic, stylized, or abstract and may depict objects, people, nature, or events.
Fine artists typically display their work in museums, commercial art galleries, corporate collections, and private homes. Some of their artwork may be commissioned (done on request from clients), but most is sold by the artist or through private art galleries or dealers. The gallery and the artist predetermine how much each will earn from the sale. Only the most successful fine artists are able to support themselves solely through the sale of their works. Most fine artists have at least one other job to support their art careers. Some work in museums or art galleries as fine-arts directors or as curators, planning and setting up art exhibits. A few artists work as art critics for newspapers or magazines or as consultants to foundations or institutional collectors. Other artists teach art classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios. Some artists also hold full-time or part-time jobs unrelated to art and pursue fine art as a hobby or second career.
Usually, fine artists specialize in one or two art forms, such as painting, illustrating, sketching, sculpting, printmaking, and restoring. Painters, illustrators, cartoonists, and sketch artists work with two-dimensional art forms, using shading, perspective, and color to produce realistic scenes or abstractions.

December 21, 2011

Never forget

The Siege of Bastogne was a famous battle in World War II that took place in and around the Belgian town of Bastogne over Xmas 1944. Outnumbered, surrounded, and in desperate need of supplies, American forces (represented by these bunnies) managed to hold off the Germans until relieved by elements of General Patton's Third Army. Considered as one of the key engagements of the larger "Battle Of The Bulge", The Siege Of Bastogne has been portrayed many times in the movies and on television, and is one of the most famous battles in WWII history.

Watch live streaming video from teamcoco at

Spotted: a human

Wish there were more like him.

Who are these people?

You got yours, just walk away.

The Republican Party:  the party of just walking away.

Some things never change

The story he spun to the Nazis, in a series of letters and reports, was that the Persian Emperor Cyrus had freed Jewish exiles in Babylon in 538 BC and they had returned to their homes. 

However, he told the Nazis, at some later point a small number of Iranians began to find the teachings of the Prophet Moses attractive - and these Mousaique, or Iranian Followers of Moses, which he dubbed "Djuguten," were not part of the Jewish race. 

Using all of his lawyer's skill, he exploited the internal contradictions and idiocies of the Nazis' ideology to gain special treatment for the "Djuguten", as the archive material published in Mr Mokhtari's new book shows. 

High-level investigations were launched in Berlin, with "experts" on racial purity drafted in to give an opinion on whether this Iranian sect - which the book suggests may well have been Sardari's own invention - were Jewish or not. 

The experts were non-committal and suggested that more funding was needed for research.


December 19, 2011

To be an American...

...just write a check.




December 16, 2011

Cultural imperialism

High praise

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who once worked as an intern for Hitchens, said: "Christopher Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious.

"My job was to fact check his articles. Since he had a photographic memory and an encyclopaedic mind it was the easiest job I've ever done."

His last editor confirms here.

December 15, 2011

Wife wanted me to play something relaxing

December 13, 2011

In your brown shorts, Moseley

What has been Googled cannot be un-Googled.

 Moreover, that's the sort of thing people tend to just remember without the aid of electronic devices.

I can't think of a good headline for this


December 11, 2011

"Tax Them Until They Beg for Death"

Corporations struggle to decide where to put all that corporate cash. 

I'll just leave this right here

December 10, 2011

Feynman in full voice

I was out of the loop - I hadn't heard about this until now, and bang went two hours.  It's awesome so far.

Derpback Mountain

Even when your Derp is strong, it can turn on you, and force you to face what you most fear.   (link)

But the weather's not bad

Brussels isn't too cheerful - I can count the smiling faces I saw yesterday on one hand.  Our group was one building away from a major summit-related event, but there was no indication of how things were going.  And none after:  no major news last night, no headlines today. 

Felix Salmon (via Krugman) blurts out the obvious -
Remember how Wolfgang Münchau said that the Euro zone had to get it right at this summit or it would collapse? Well, the Euro zone has most emphatically not got it right. Take any of the list of prescriptions of the minimum necessary right now — from Münchau, from Larry Summers [link], from Mohamed El-Erian — and the one thing that jumps out at you, especially in light of the most recent news, is that if you look at anybody’s list, there’s an enormous number of items which has zero chance of actually happening.
I now realize I'm attending the funeral of the dream of a single European currency.  As, one-by-one, nations have been peeled away, the political "center" of Europe has become smaller and smaller.  At the start of this year one might have spoken of a "core" of five or so countries, last week this core was down to just Germany and France.

With this final marginalization, it should now be fully apparent  that the Euro is the Deutschmark, and will be for as long as the Germans insist on both trade surpluses for themselves and fiscal austerity from their trade partners.  Other members of the Eurozone are just hitching a ride, the way Argentina did with the dollar.

That means that it will become politically impossible for some countries to stay in the Euro.  When you are in a debt deflation, some monetary adjustment really helps (Krugman has the chart, here).  The initial hit Argentina took was brutal, but once the currency adjustment had been made, things picked up nicely for them.

So, one by one, I suspect the mourners will start to head for their cars.  If I were Spain - a country that played by the rules but is still condemned to a decade of stagnation to please Teutonic conceits - I'd be heading there now (and slapping a tariff on German imports).

The other big news is that Belgium has a government now, so I guess they've got that going for them.

December 08, 2011

21st century auditing

The head of bankrupt US brokerage firm MF Global, Jon Corzine, has told a congressional committee that he has no idea where its clients' money has gone.

This brings to mind Dave Barry's 2002 account of the Enron audit:

AUDITOR: OK, so you're saying you made $600 million in profit. 
EXECUTIVE: Correct. 
AUDITOR: Can I see it? 
EXECUTIVE: Sure! It's right here in my desk! UH-oh! The drawer is stuck! 
AUDITOR: Wow! Just like last year!


December 07, 2011

Iran and Xe, 14th Century Style

Python and medieval historian Terry Jones calls out the drumbreat for war, in particular with Iran.

"The nightmare had begun. Huge armies of brigands rampaging through Europe was a disaster second only to the plague. It seemed as if the genie had been let out of the bottle and there was no way of putting him back in. Warfare had suddenly turned into a profitable business; the Italian city states became impoverished as taxpayers' money was used to buy off the free companies. And since those who made money out of the business of war naturally wished to go on making money out of it, warfare had no foreseeable end.

Wind forward 650 years or so. The US, under George W Bush, decided to privatise the invasion of Iraq by employing private "contractors" like the Blackwater company, now renamed Xe Services. In 2003 Blackwater won a $27m no-bid contract for guarding Paul Bremer, then head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. For protecting officials in conflict zones since 2004, the company has received more than $320m. And this year the Obama government contracted to pay Xe Services a quarter of a billion dollars for security work in Afghanistan. This is just one of many companies making its profits out of warfare.

In 2000 the Project for the New American Century published a report, Rebuilding America's Defenses, whose declared aim was to up the spending on defence from 3% to 3.5% or 3.8% of American gross domestic product. In fact it is now running at 4.7% of GDP. In the UK we spend about $57bn a year on defence, or 2.5% of GDP."

Cooler than the voices in my head

Guy draws the (NPR) voices in his head. (link)

I don't think that word means what you think it means

Dr. Kapital posts this from the afternoon Thalys from Paris to Brussels (no, really!):

When everybody can ignore your chief risk officer, he's not really your chief risk officer, is he?

December 04, 2011

Mr. Hardy, the Son of Sorrow, and the Chosen One

G.H. Hardy, A Mathemetician's Apology
Alexander Alekhine, My Best Games of Chess
Jeremy Silman, Masked Grandmaster Redux

Hardy's Apology

After Borders closed its Palo Alto store, I noticed that there was actually another bookstore in town - a small one with a superb collection of used books.  Situated on a quiet side street, it's a nice place to sneak away from the office and refresh the mind.  On one such break a few weeks ago I noticed there a slim volume by the British mathemetician G.H. Hardy, entitled A Mathematician's Apology.

I knew of Hardy only for his acknowledgement of the genius of Ramanujan, and his subsequent efforts to help the young Indian develop his powers.  It was a remarkable act of diligence and intellectual honesty:  two other English academics had seen Ramanujan's work - sent to them unsolicited from India - and returned it without comment, presumably unable to believe that works of genius might arrive in the daily post.  But Hardy took the time to study the material carefully...
[F]ormulas (1) to (4) are harder than they look... (5) and (6) I could do, but with difficulty... (7) I have done myself... (8) is a formula by Laplace which was proved by Jacobi... (9) is in a paper by Rogers in 1907... (10) and (11) are not true... (12) to (15) defeated me completely ...
...and, after consulting with Littlewood, concluded that he was looking not at a crank letter, but the work of "a mathematician of the highest quality, a man of altogether exceptional originality and power."

Hardy believed that discovering Ramanujan was his greatest achievement, and in his lifetime it probably was.  But his reputation has grown as many of his mathematical discoveries  have found application in genetics and cryptography.  This would have appalled him.  It was a point of particular pride for Hardy that his work - unlike that of many other scientists and physicists - had no military application, or any practical application at all.  Mathematicians could rejoice, he said, knowing that "there is one science [number theory] at any rate...whose very remoteness from ordinary human activities should keep it gentle and clean."

He hated mechanical devices of all kinds - according to C.P. Snow's Foreword, Hardy would barely use a phone, and wanted nothing to do with cameras.  As a result, there are only four or five photographs of him extant.

Get that blasted thing away from me

In Hardy's Apology, then, the value of a mathematician derives from the immaculate beauty of his creations, not their utility.  I am interested in mathematics," he wrote, "only as a creative art."

And, like painting, chess, or the symphony, not just anyone could do it.  Hardy subscribed to the elitist ethic - not everyone has talent, but if you do, you'd better pursue it with everything you have.
‘I do what I do because it is the one and only thing that I can do at all well.  I am a lawyer, or a stockbroker, or a professional cricketer, because I have some real talent for that particular job.  I am a lawyer because I have a fluent tongue, and am interested in legal subtleties; I am a stockbroker because my judgment of the markets is quick and sound; I am a professional cricketer because I can bat unusually well.  I agree that it might be better to be a poet or a mathematician, but unfortunately I have no talent for such pursuits.’
I am not suggesting that this is a defence which can be made by most people, since most people can do nothing at all well. But it is impregnable when it can be made without absurdity, as it can by a substantial minority: perhaps five or even ten percent of men can do something rather well.
Hardy argues in the Apology that mathematics is actually among the most widely-appreciated of the arts...if you count the millions of people who appreciate mathematics without knowing it:
There are masses of chessplayers in every civilized country – in Russia, almost the whole educated population; and every chessplayer can recognize and appreciate a “beautiful” game or problem. Yet a chess problem is simply an exercise in pure mathematics (a game not entirely, since psychology also plays a part), and everyone who calls a problem “beautiful” is applauding mathematical beauty, even if it is a beauty of a comparatively lowly kind. Chess problems are the hymn-tunes of mathematics.
Chess, in other words, is math for those unable to appreciate the real stuff.  Hardy twists the knife:

I feel some sympathy even with conjurors and ventriloquists and when Alekhine and Bradman set out to beat records, I am quite bitterly disappointed if they fail.

The Son of Sorrow

Even under the best of circumstances chess masters tend to live in straitened circumstances.  Internation Master Jeremy Silman was once asked what attracted him to chess.  "The money and the women," he replied.  As a special bonus, many chess masters suffer from mental disorders, from poor Pillsbury's syphilitic dementia, to Morphy's melancholia, to Fischer's descent into self-centered hatred and delusion.  Alekhine was, by comparison, relatively small-time, spending some time in a mental institution due to alcoholism.

As every schoolchild knows, Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine was the model European 20th Century Man.  He survived the Russian Revolution and World War I, lived in France, dominated world chess in the 1930s, collaborated with the Nazis, married four times, defeated the immortal Capablanca, fathered a bastard child with a Baroness, lost to Euwe but then won his title back, died under mysterious circumstances, and drank too much and was a lawyer.

The Russians idolize him.

I used to play Alekhine's games out of a book, and even though I didn't know what was going on, I could tell just from looking that it was big chess.  You could play through the games of some grandmasters - Smyslov comes to mind - and never see much excitement.  The British grandmaster Ray Keene says he quit high level competition because he realized he was never going to understand Smyslov's quiet but precise brand of positional play:  "I could never understand what Smyslov was up to - I thought I was doing well but nearly always lost..."

But when you were playing Alekhine, there was no such ambiguity.  He smashed his opponents to bits.  In 1964 Fischer wrote an article for Chessworld magazine entitled "The 10 Greatest Masters in History".  Of Alekhine he wrote,
Alekhine is a player I've never really understood; yet, strangely, if you've seen one Alekhine game you've seen them all.  He always wanted a superior center; he maneuvered his pieces toward the King side, and around the twenty-fifth move, began to mate his opponent...  His play was fantastically complicated, more so than any player before or since.
Fischer, a disciple of the spurned and immaculate Capablanca, didn't care for Alekhine's approach, saying "in a sense his whole method of play was a mistake."

Of course he was right, taken on his own terms.  Alekhine did not always play correct chess.  He played the kind of chess he thought would maximize his chances of victory, and that meant tailoring his style to his opponent.  Against the immensely powerful Capablance, he played careful, theoretically correct chess.  Against lesser mortals Alekhine often varied sharply from orthodoxy.  He might play his own provocation, Alekhine's Defense, or other "unsound" openings such as the Benoni (so named because it was first described in a 19th-century manuscript entitled Benoni - Hebrew for "Son of Sorrow").  It wasn't a good idea to try and play the Benoni against him, however - Levenfish tried it at St. Petersburg in 1912, and Alekhine wiped him off the board in 19 moves.  The finish included a double rook sacrifice - the chess equivalent of a windmill dunk.

In those days the World Championship worked like a game of keep-away.  The sitting champion could dictate terms and choose his challengers.  After defeating Capablanca, Alekhine would not consent to a return match, playing the likes of Bogoljubow and Euwe instead.

Euwe, a very good player and the author of some fine chess education books, was the perfect opponent for Alekhine.  He was competent but not particularly imaginative, making him the ideal straight man for Alekhine's flights of creative imagination.

 Alekhine-Euwe, 1935 (Alekhine standing, 2nd from left)

The only problem was that Alekhine came to the 1935 match drunk and overconfident, and managed to lose his title.  Showing more class than his opponent would have, Euwe granted a rematch, and in 1937 Alekhine (presumably sipping milk and doing dumb-bell curls) recaptured the title, which he held until his death in 1946.

Alekhine and Hardy came to similar ends - both died alone, having suffered greatly as their creative powers began to wane.  Like professional athletes, their art had defined every aspect of their lives.  The uncompromising ethos they shared had taken them to the heights, but left them bereft when their powers deserted them.  Snow visited Hardy a few times during his last days, but says he was one of only a few.  Hardly anyone showed up at Alekhine's funeral.

But, Hardy might argue, that was part of the bargain.  The greatest creative ability alienates the creator.  Not everyone can create a masterpiece.  For those who can, the only genuine company - in the sense of empathy or a deeper understanding - may come from the dead, or great artists yet to be born.

The Chosen One

Of course I have no standing to comment seriously on these matters because I have no particular talent.  Like Hardy, I believe that, for genius to take root, there must be a germ of creative potential to begin with.

In chess I quickly realized my upside was seriously limited.  With a lot of practice, and serious devotion to the game, I think perhaps I might have reached expert level or a little higher.  But that is not high enough to compete seriously, and certainly not high enough to create any kind of art at the chessboard.

Although there was this one time  in San Francisco...

Not me, alas, it was a narcoleptic kid who used to play at the Mechanics Library.
"Look at my game! Look at my game! I've played a brilliancy!" screamed Michael Mills, a class "C" player. 
And indeed he had.  Silman's account of this astonishing event first appeared in Chess Life in 1974, and an updated version of the article appears here.

"Who was that masked grandmaster?" asked GM Larry Christiansen.  Even Hardy and Alekhine might smile, wondering what Mills had done to please the gods so well that - for just one day - he could have the creative power to make a game for the ages.



How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?

Broncos now tied for AFC West lead.  (link)

Just another day at the office

“I did my job, that was all,” lead defusing expert Horst Lenz told local daily Rhein Zeitung...after defusing a 1.8 ton WW2 bomb.


December 03, 2011

True dat

The estimable Peter Egan in this month's Road and Track:
[T]hey wanted to present me with an award for being The Oldest Living Person to Have Built a 948 Sprite Engine on His Kitchen Table and Carried it Down a Flight of Stairs Right Before Going to the Hospital with Intense Back Pain That Would Persist Forever. 
Actually, that wasn't the exact wording.  It was a "Sharing the Passion" award, but the idea was about the same.  If we live long enough and suffer greatly from our own stupidity, someone finally notices.

Out of the car, Ichiro - the Law wants a word with you

Yada’s international license was apparently not sufficient to satisfy the letter of the law, which required him to carry either an Alabama license or one issued by Japan. The charges were dismissed only when his attorney faxed a copy of his Japanese driver’s license to the judge.


December 02, 2011

Wasn't tomorrow wonderful?

Enron invented the Cloud.  You're welcome.