July 31, 2012

And a McCain bumper sticker

Poisoned-tipped arrows and jewelry made of ostrich egg beads found in South Africa show modern culture may have emerged about 30,000 years earlier in the area than previously thought, according to two articles published on Monday.


SF Restaurant Shocker!

I am reminded of a quote from Stubb.  I had a roommate who used to work in his BBQ joint and she recalled him saying something like: "A few rats and roaches is God's doing."

Anyway, on to the SHOCKING news:  Tu Lan Closed for Health Violations. 

Haven't eaten there in years but I always felt that their phở, though potentially deadly, always made me stronger.

July 30, 2012

July 29, 2012

The Shortest Day

If we reserve our war-making machinery for nations which threaten our vital national interests, I propose that we invade the Cayman Islands.  

This one is pretty easy.  We could surround them with our aircraft carrier strike groups, seize the banks, and then pay for our aircraft carrier strike groups.

Also, we can find how many trillions of dollars have been off-shored, er, empirically. 

Next, a naval blockade of Zurich!  Admittedly, getting from the Rhine to the Aar to the Limmat River to Lake Zurich is a shade tricky, if scenic.  Surely, we have a hover-carrier by now.

July 28, 2012

Transcript revealed!

Here's a transcript of a phone conversation between David Cameron and Mitt Romney, early last week, that I totally made up.

Cameron: Hello, Mitt?

Romney: David! How nice to hear from you. I'm very much looking forward to my visit!

Cameron: Looking forward to witnessing an enthusiastic crowd, no doubt.

Romney: Ha ha! That's funny, David. Oh, can I bring you anything from America? Perhaps some U.S. made... uh...

Cameron: You're too kind, Mitt. No, don't trouble yourself. I do need to ask you a favor, however. If it turns out, you may be doing us both a favor.

Romney: Sorry, they told me not to sing 'God Save the Queen' the whole time I'm there.

Cameron: [Inaudible] no, no. We might be in a bit of tough spot with the press coverage around the Olympics --

Romney: Oh! Is everything okay?

Cameron: Yes, fine, just a few things blown out of proportion by the press, you know: customs strike, private security contractors didn't hire enough...

Romney: I think I can hook you up there, David.

Cameron: Too late for that Mitt. Regrettably. I wouldn't ask, but theres been a bit of a pile-up over here -- much ado about nothing -- but what with the unpopularity of our governments fiscal responsibility policies --

Romney: Well people just don't get it, David!

Cameron: Nothing you can do, Mitt. Nothing to be done. But the press criticism over the Olympics is something you can help with.

Romney: Oh?

Cameron: Yes. If you could, just, mention the trouble with the Olympics a bit? Publicly, to the press...

Romney: Let me get my folks to come up with a good narative.

Cameron: No, not necessary, you don't have to make up anything. Just repeat the criticisms the press have already made so that they can get mad at you instead of me.

[Pause. Inaudible.]

Romney: What's in it for me?

Cameron: Well, I'm going to be very indignant, and play the snooty British PM, at odds with the square-jawed American captain of industry who calls 'em like he see's em. If your very lucky, the Obama team might even seize on it and take my side.

Romney: Yeah, this isn't the Kerry campaign, David --

Cameron: Point taken.

Romney: You gotta be extra snooty, more specifically insulting -- Utah! Insult Utah! "[In strange voice] Religious loonies on the prarie had a silly Winter Olympics and that simply isn't posh enough, is it?"

Cameron: Hmmm... we'll work on it, but I want something else in return: I want to you forget Ed Miliband's name.

Romeny: Who?

Kind words for Michelle O


On Joining the Democratic Party

Like World War II, no matter how flawed the organization, when you're fighting fascists you join the U.S. Army, not the Salvation Army.


We haven't talked about Penn State much here, which is fine with me.

But on that matter, Rick Santorum thinks we ought not to rush to judgment.

This confuses me.  Santorum's view on state-sponsored rape are fairly transparent, but I would have thought his principled opposition to homosexual activity of all kinds and his earnest desire to protect families would have swayed him in this case. Apparently not.

Ram ho!

I'm not sure why it is such big news that they have found the final resting place of U-550.  Since we sank the vast majority of the German submarine force at sea, and dealt with the rest in other ways, I had assumed the bottom of the Atlantic was littered with depth-charged hulks and iron crosses.  (A fine recapitulation of the U-550 engagement is here.)

The historian Michael Gannon reportedly argues that the German submariners were among the least-Nazi elements of the German armed forces.  Hmmm.  Upon serious reflection, since they came to America and killed lots of civilians in sneak attacks on Hitler's orders, I don't think that really changes my view of them. 

What was new to me was the information that U-550's final battle featured ramming, in my opinion an underutilized maritime tool in war and peace. As every schoolchild knows, the Seattle fireboat Duwamish was designed with a built-in ram to use as a last resort.

I've always been a bit of a partisan for the destroyer escorts, a force that never received the attention of battleships or PT boats, but arguably did more useful work (including the unbelievable engagement off Samar).  They were pretty good vessels - USS Gandy has a still-active sister ship serving in the Philippine navy.

July 27, 2012

And that's why there's no violence in Game of Thrones

"Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much."


July 26, 2012

Let them wear satin

This is how socialists dress now.


Confused because I really like this

Seriously concerning

I knew Mitt Romney was a phony, grinning, meretricious hand-puppet of an elite of extremist oligarchs.  But it's hard to get good help nowadays.  He appears to be genuinely incompetent in foreign policy, utterly devoid of education, ability, or aptitude.

In addition to FSL's litany of blunders today, we have:
  • The must-never-be-forgotten START Treaty episode (link)
  • The confusion over what he said or did not say, or heard or did not hear, from our dreaded enemies the Australians (link
  • His team keeps calling Russia "The Soviet Union" (link

"That's why we're worried. This clown is impotent, suicidal, and incredibly stupid!"

Or how about this - your senior executives report for duty in Afghanistan

The Justice Department says Capital One has agreed to pay $12 million to resolve allegations the bank violated special protections in federal law for members of the military. 

The government says Capital One wrongfully foreclosed on some homes and improperly repossessed some cars. In addition, the government says the bank obtained wrongful court judgments against some service members and improperly denied interest rate relief on some credit card and car loans. 

In a settlement under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Capital One will pay at least $125,000 to each service member whose home was unlawfully foreclosed upon and at least $10,000 to each service member whose vehicle was unlawfully repossessed. Capital 

One will provide $5 million to service members denied appropriate benefits on credit card accounts, auto and consumer loans.


Romney in London: Like Being Mocked by Carrot Top

And now, even clownish London mayor Boris Johnson is getting in the act of mocking Mitt Romney.

This is very bad for looking Presidential,  getting openly mocked by the expert mockers in the U.K. over half a dozen incidents; so much that The Guardian put up a live blog about it.


 Mitt Romney has told London it is not ready to host the Olympics. The Prime Minister is not pleased.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the comment this morning. He sounded insulted. "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," Cameron said. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
And here I thought their Anglo-Saxon heritage meant they'd be all palsy-walsy. Can't white folks just get along?

July 25, 2012

Get yourself briefed

Angst-Jökens has competition

A rival blog has posted Is Partial Compendium Latvian Humor Joke.

Here's a sample.
A fishmonger says to a bootblack, "Are there any more potato left?" Bootblack says, "Yes, one. But it has gone bad." The fishmonger says, "I am very hungry. I have not eaten for three days. I shall eat it, even if it makes me very ill." And bootblack says, "I did not speak truth. In reality, there is no food left. You shall go hungry yet another day, my friend."

For best results: HD, speakers loud, fullscreen


The pacification of Anaheim progresses according to plan

Heroes detain a militant, Anaheim, California, July 2012.

[Mayor] Tait said he would meet with federal officials, who have agreed to review Saturday’s shooting to see whether a civil rights inquiry is needed. The district attorney and state attorney general are also investigating the shootings. 

The family of Mr. Diaz, the first of the two men killed by the police, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, asserting that he was unarmed when he was shot, fell to his knees and then was shot again, in the back of the head.


July 24, 2012

Some things were meant to be shared

I Have Heard Your Arguments. And Now, My Attorney-Walrus Shall Respond.

 In particular, this persuasive rhetoric now constitutes my primary argument against climate-change deniers.

NASA's Pro-Anxiety Mars Landing System

The Intermeth

Fun test: How are these arguments different from the arguments of, say, Mexican drug lords?
.."But what he said he believed was that people already craved dopamine and that Silicon Valley was no more responsible for creating irresistible technologies than, say, fast-food restaurants were responsible for making food with such wide appeal.
“They’d say: ‘Do we have any responsibility for the fact people are getting fat?’ Most people would say ‘no,’ ” said Mr. Schiermeyer (of Zynga). He added: “Given that we’re human, we already want dopamine.”
Along those lines, Scott Kriens, chairman of Juniper Networks, one of the biggest Internet infrastructure companies, said the powerful lure of devices mostly reflected primitive human longings to connect and interact, but that those desires needed to be managed so they did not overwhelm people’s lives.
 “The responsibility we have is to put the most powerful capability into the world,” he said. “We do it with eyes wide open that some harm will be done. Someone might say, ‘Why not do so in a way that causes no harm?’ That’s naïve.”
“The alternative is to put less powerful capability in people’s hands and that’s a bad trade-off,” he added..

July 22, 2012

21 Trillon, or 32 Trillion, or Something

Guardian: Offshore bank funds larger than US and Japanese GDP combined.

21 Trillion with-a-T dollars- or maybe 32. One reason my politics are now a bit less "let's work with all points of view" and a bit more "Seize Them!"

Looks legit

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist helped the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrate the U.S. government, according to the report that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) cited in an attack on top State Department aide Human Abedin. 


Treasury Secretary?


It's good to believe in yourself, and you should...

...but fire will fucking burn you. 


July 21, 2012

And yet no one hangs

A few more crimes best left unsolved, from Joe Nocera:

And where were the regulators? “Subcommittee investigators found that the OCC” — that’s the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is the nation’s primary bank overseer — “had failed to take a single enforcement action against the bank, formal or informal, over the previous six years, despite ample evidence” of money laundering, reads the report.


Rules? We don't need no stinking rules!

On Seattle Arena Funding.

Yes there is a proposal for a new NBA arena in Seattle, with this- hey!- only a few hundred million in public funds. Yes, while we're still paying for the 1994 Key Arena for the Sonics. And the Mariners' stadium. And, as much as I like them, the Seahawks.

My counter proposal is zero dollars for go-fuck-yourselves.

July 20, 2012

Rule by crap that won't die

Another sad tale - this fellow finds that his sleek, Cloud-optimized, synchronizable, ultramodern Chrome is disrupted by Flash.  He sadly turns Flash off and on again as he struggles through his day, waiting for that magical day when the technology fairy comes and kills Flash dead.

Could be a long wait.  Steve Jobs wrote its epitaph two and half years ago - he's gone, it's still here.  It will be fully integrated into the Metro interface browser in Windows 8, despite massive continued vulnerabilities.

Which got me wondering, what ever happened to IE6?  Yup, still doing fine - 22% share in the PRC.  Good luck getting that fire out.

And Framework's long exile continues.  There is no justice.

Sleep well, Los Angeles

Undercover police have saved you from this menace to society.

The cops were trolling for masturbating septuagenarians, because every single one of these has been solved.

Good show.

Because They Work So Hard.

"In 2007 the total wealth of the Forbes 400 equaled the wealth of the bottom 50% of families in the U.S; wealth held by the Walton-six (the six heirs to the Walton fortune) was equal to that of the bottom 30.5%."

Let's see, 400 people vs. half the US population, or 156,974, 500 people....

So that's only because the Forbes 400 worked 392,436 times as hard as each American in lower income half of the population.

July 19, 2012

I wonder what Evil Spock is up to...

July 18, 2012

Shell: No 1 4 U but Me, Earth!

Turns out the Shell Social Let's GO! social media campaign was a Greenpeace Prank. Genius.

However, the line between merciless satire and reality is razor thin. This is the *lead* sentence from the *real* Shell page on their commitment to the environment in Alaska: http://bit.ly/Nw8XZJ

"There are many examples that demonstrate our dedication to protecting the environment. For example, Shell banned the use of Styrofoam cups onboard any Alaska operating company owned or contracted vessel in order to assure cups do not blow into the water."

Well, paint my head blue and call me Moses!! That's dedication to the earth! Why, when Greyfriars Bobby stayed at his master's grave for 14 years, that wasn't dedication, that was some flitting fey flibbertigibbetry compared to Shell's intense, unshakable, dedicated love of the earth! By banning styrofoam cups from their ships- just the Alaska ships- why Achilleus and Patroclus in the dusty battlefields of Troy were a couple of middle-schoolers assigned to a science class baking soda volcano team compared to Oil Giant Shell's love of the earth, Oh Earth! with her rolling, white, ice-covered oceans just calling to be drilled, even if it keeps saying "no no no." Shell knows what Earth really wants.

For as we all know, according to company-funded studies, styrofoam cups flying half-full of coffee from the hands of hapless, wind-whipped Alaska sailors are the primary cause of climate adjustments, sea-level rise and Snooki's last three novels because those dozens of styrofoam cups are clogging up the earth's chi like the Exxon Valdez in a Trader Joe's parking space. So get down on your knees, chumps, and thank the bright heavens for Shell Corporation, a truly dedicated and loving corporation. Look, see? how it courageously refused Al Gore's demands that they throw more styrofoam coffee and even hot chocolate cups over the side? That's because, come hell, drought, high water, melting ice caps, drowning cities, collapsing ecosystems, and bloody resource wars, Shell loves the earth, really really loves it, loves it so much no one else can ever have it ever, and if it ever sees the Earth with someone else, Shell will track Earth down wherever she tries to run, because that's just how dedicated Shell is, and when it follows Earth around everywhere she goes, cruising in a ship late at night and drunk-texting "No 1 4 U but me, Bitch!," we all know that really means that Shell will never ever leave you Earth, never ever.

That's dedication to the environment.

July 17, 2012

That would be a good name for a band

The GOP has no moderate faction anymore. It’s a rump amalgamation of plutocrats and the people who service their air conditioning.


Remember when...

...Richard Nixon paid $878.03 in income tax for 1971 (or about 0.33% of his income)?

 I remember, even though I was only 10 at the time the story broke (in 1974).

You know who else I bet remembers that?

Where's Mitt?

While his surrogates are busy calling the president unamerican on TV, Mitt is (according to the same article) fundraising in London (home to Barclays and HSBC). Cheerio!

July 16, 2012

That ain't the American Way

Democrats are mocking Republicans in the House of Representatives for voting to repeal the health care reform law and keep their own enhanced medical care.


Might be right

Sarah P not invited.  Laird called it.

Trippy Egyptians

I just randomly ran across this story tonight in an anthology plucked from the bookshelf.  I love it - gracefully written, and trippy enough for the Summer of Love.  The author/translator is the late Roger Lancelyn Green, an actor, teacher, librarian, and friend of C.S. Lewis.

Artist's Impression

The Moment "Salt Lick" Romney Lost?

When he compared himself to Teresa Heinz Kerry, fellow victimized gazillionaire.

Also, priceless reactions at his NAACP speech.

July 15, 2012

FSL have you considered... QHOTBI #4

For rent, Hilo


More strangers

My sons note that some Strangers are badass, and some are recruiters.

Badass:  In the Bionicle mythos, the guiding spirit of the universe, Mata Nui, is overthrown and his spirit imprisoned in the Mask of Life, which is then flung into the void, ultimately landing on a godforsaken planet of scarab beetles, Bonehunters, Skrall invaders, and a seriously patchy and woebegone group of good guy villages.  Soon the mask has created a body and the spirit has inhabited it, and the great god Mata Nui walks through this landscape as just another sentient being, forced to see it and experience his creation through their eyes...what is this reminding me of?

Recruiters:  Obi-Wan Kenobi is just another guy in a desert hut, but he's obviously got a reason for being there.  Sensei Wu plays a similar role in the Ninjago mythos...harmless little old man looking for a few good recruits for his ninja team that's trying to prevent a serpentine takeover of the world, nothing to see here.

But my favorite stealth sensei is Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender - more of a Cheyenne-like figure, actually - who politely helps a would-be mugger fix his stance and unblock his chi here.

July 14, 2012

"Here's your apology"

This ad is a masterpiece.

Mitt Names

As it gets harder to distinguish Mitt Romney's work from Tony Soprano's, he'll need a Goodfellas name, other than Mittens.

1. "Tickle Me"

2. "The Bishop"

3. "Starches"

4. "Salt Lick"

5. "Steakhouse"

6. "Octopussy"

7. "Sharper Image"

8. "Smooth Move"

9.  "Zurich"

10. "Daddy"

July 13, 2012

My favorite rediscovery

Ripping my CDs, and then listening to the results in random order, led to some nice rediscoveries of albums I'd forgotten or ignored over the years. Here was my favorite:

Ruby Vroom - Soul Coughing

Thinking about this album in the past couple of years, I feared it would sound dated. Actually listening to it evokes a wave of nostalgia for the mid-nineties, when my cool friends introduced me to it. I appreciate the whole album more now than I did back in them days, especially the less edgy tracks like Sugar Free Jazz and True Dreams of Wichita.

I recommend you try it again, or for the first time.

(It turns out I had two copies of this CD. Please let me know if I accidentally stole yours!)

The four missing pieces

No doubt you'll be fascinated to hear that I finished copying my CD collection to hard drive. I ripped 445 discs.

After I finished, I realized there were four big holes: albums I didn't have I realized I couldn't live without. (All four arrived this afternoon.)

Give 'Em Enough Rope - The Clash

I guess this was my first 'punk rock' album. I haven't had a copy of this since I taped it from Evans W.'s LP collection. Sandwiched between their debut and London Calling, it gets a bit overshadowed in pop music history. But it's still my favorite Clash album.

Favorite track: Safe European Home still gives me goosebumps.

Jumpin' Jive - Joe Jackson

At Bennington, this was our go-to album backstage before showtime. Seemed like every performance for every show I heard it. Never got tired of it.

Favorite track: Five Guys Named Moe.

Something for Everybody - Devo

The most amazing thing happened in 2010. After almost 30 years since their last good album, the Devo new album didn't suck. I over-listened to Devo back in the 80's (perhaps you noticed) to the extent that I don't even have their individual albums anymore. So for the past two years, I've been over-listening to this.

Favorite track: Please Baby Please. This song swings.
The Best of Sweet

A while ago, a co-worker about 10 years younger asked me, "How old were you when you started hating the Top-40 music the kids were listening to?" I told him "Thirteen."

But back in 1975, when I was 11, it was all good. I learned much later in life that this was "glam rock," and that Sweet was more respectable than KISS but less respectable than T. Rex. Now I'm old enough not to care.

Favorite track: shifted over the years, from Little Willy to Ballroom Blitz to Wig Wam Bam; now it's Fox On The Run.

July 12, 2012

You go, Milos


Enter The Stranger

Who is that guy?

Of all of the literary archetypes, surely it is The Stranger that is most distant from true human experience.  When we learn in Shane that the quiet ranch-hand is actually the fastest gun in the territory (at least), or in Kung Fu that "that Chinaman" is actually a fearsome human weapon, a great part of the appeal is the exoticness of this discovery.  In an ordinary setting, we encounter a one-in-a-million person, one who embodies complete mastery in an unexpected form.

Sometime it's pretty clear what's going to happen, as when Luke warns Jabba to "free us or die" before going through his bodyguards like Odysseus through the suitors; or when Clark Kent heads for the phone booth.  But sometimes the audience is in dark, too - when The Big Boss first came out, no one knew who Bruce Lee was, until right about the 45:30 mark.  Then, they knew.

In Once Upon a Time in the West, a simple murder assignment turns into a startling demonstration of Harmonica's nearly supernatural powers.

"Did you bring a horse for me?"

It never happens in real life, of course.  Such virtuosity cannot be kept hidden.  Imagine someone with the skills of a Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods trying to keep it quiet.  Anyone who sees such a performer will tell everyone they know.  (One of the running jokes of the Gospel of Mark is Jesus' admonitions to his followers to not tell anyone about his healing powers - admonitions which they of course ignore.  When he rises from the dead he tells Mary Magdalene to rejoice and tell everyone - and of course she goes home and doesn't tell a soul, making the Gospel of Mark arguably the world's most-read shaggy dog story.)

The implausibility is trebled when we are dealing with untested youth.  Avatar:  The Last Airbender is great fun in the early episodes when even Aang is not yet aware of the extent of his abilities, and the moment when he enters the Avatar State and breaks the Fire Nation's Siege of the North (2:19) transforms a pleasant children's cartoon into something much richer and more wonderful.  The delight of discovery is heightened by the implausibility of a child, from nowhere, channeling an immense power and making a mockery of men who had thought themselves powerful.

Warning:  chess ahead

So Capablanca came to San Sebastien in 1911, aged 22.  Of the 15 eminent masters who had been invited - the cream of the crop (excepting only Emanuel Lasker, the Champion) - Capablanca was the only one to have never won a major tournament.  They knew who he was in New York, though.  He had been invited at the insistence of the American champion, Marshall, whom the Cuban had crushed in a match two years earlier.

But the Europeans had never seen him, and, from their perspective, had little to fear.  The San Sebastien tournament may have been the strongest in history up to that time.  Even the 'weaker' players were masters of astonishing skill, most with a decade or more of experience in world-class competiton.  Virtually without exception they were the best or second-best players in their respective countries:
  • Bernstein, born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, took his degree in law at Heidelberg.  He was a rising star in the chess world, having shared equal first with the estimable Rubinstein at Ostend in 1907.
  • Burn, who had been taught by the immortal Steinitz himself (and subject of a great chess biography),
  • Duras, the Czech who could beat everyone but Rubinstein,
  • Janowski, who played even with the old guard but had trouble with the strong younger players,
  • Leonhardt, a brilliant attacker, now at the peak of his powers,
  • Maróczy, a Hungarian, had at one time been arguably the best player in the world, but was now merely in the top five,
  • Marshall, the American attacker and swindler, strong but not versatile enough to be world champion,
  • Nimzowitsch, the eccentric man from Riga who was developing his own "system" of chess,
  • Rubinstein, the positional genius from Poland who chose to become a grandmaster instead of a rabbi, at this moment possibly the strongest player in the world, fully the equal of Lasker,
  • Schlecter, the "drawing master", who nonetheless won 300 tournament games against only 115 losses, enough to be considered a championship contender for most of his career,
  • Spielmann, an attacking specialist like Leonhardt, very dangerous on his best days,
  • Tarrasch, a German doctor, correct in all things, from openings to endgames to tailored suits and moustache wax,
  • Teichman, who always seemed to come in fourth, earning the nickname "Richard the Fourth",
  • and Vidmar...young and energetic, he would become the founder of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana and play master level chess well into the 1950s.
portrait of the field, Capablanca seated center, looking at the camera.  See how calm he looks?

He is about to crush them.

Bernstein had objected to the inclusion of the young Cuban, and he was the first to fall (Capablanca v. Bernstein).  Capablanca sat with unnatural calm, moved quickly, never committed the slightest oversight.  The others fared no better.  The final standings:

1 José Raúl Capablanca (Cuba)*0½½½½111½½11½1
2 Akiba Rubinstein (Russian Empire)/ Poland1*½½½½½½½½½1½119
3 Milan Vidmar (Austria-Hungary)/ Slovenia½½*0½½½1½½½11119
4 Frank James Marshall (United States)½½1*½½½½½1½1½01
5 Siegbert Tarrasch (German Empire)/ Germany½½½½*½11½0½½10½
6 Carl Schlechter (Austria-Hungary)/ Austria½½½½½*½0½½½1½1½
7 Aron Nimzowitsch (Russian Empire)/ Latvia0½½½0½*½11½½½½1
8 Ossip Bernstein (Russian Empire)/ Ukraine0½0½01½*111½0107
9 Rudolf Spielmann (Austria-Hungary)/ Austria0½½½½½00*½1½½117
10 Richard Teichmann (German Empire)/ Germany½½½01½00½*½0½11
11 Géza Maróczy (Austria-Hungary)/ Hungary½½½½½½½00½*1½½06
12 Dawid Janowski (France)/ Poland0000½0½½½10*1116
13 Amos Burn (United Kingdom)/ England0½0½0½½1½½½0*0½5
14 Oldřich Duras (Austria-Hungary)/ Czech Republic½00110½000½01*½5
15 Paul Saladin Leonhardt (German Empire)/ Poland0000½½010010½½*4
Source:  Wikipedia - damn they're awesome

Yes, he lost a game - one - to the immensely powerful Rubinstein.  The score is here, and it bears an odd resemblance to another great Rubinstein victory, against Lasker, with both wins hinging on the problem-like move Q-c1.

That loss notwithstanding, Capablanca won the tournament.  He got 5,000 Francs for the first prize, along with an extra 500 from Baron Rothschild for the brilliancy against Bernstein.  

As the masters gathered for the closing ceremony, it must have occurred to them that the beatdown they had received was Capablanca's first experience of top-class chess.  And, with the possible exception of Rubinstein, they must have realized already that none of them could ever surpass him.

Or his hair

He rapidly became invincible:  from 1916-1924 his record in tournament games was 40 wins, 24 draws, and zero losses.  No one else has ever done anything remotely similar.  He was so good people feared he had solved the game, though this fear ultimately proved unfounded.  English grandmaster Neil McDonald comments:
This prophecy was, thankfully, never fulfilled for two reasons.  Firstly, there is an inherent dynamism in positions reached from even the most symmetrical or classical openings...this means that not everything can be worked out by logic and common sense alone.  It is necessary to calculate variations and make decisions based on intuition, which allows space for human creativity, poor judgment and good old-fashioned luck – and therefore wins and losses.  How did Capa go eight years without losing?  Well, he was a genius.  

In 1920 Lasker sent Capablanca a letter resigning the championship.  After much negotiation, Lasker was persuaded to play a title match in 1921, but could not win a single game.  Capablanca would hold the crown until 1929, when he lost it by a narrow margin to the master of neurosis-as-a-weapon, Alekhine.  In a 1959 reminiscence, the British master C.H.O’D. Alexander, who played both men, draws the portraits:
Capablanca knew he was much better than anyone else and took it for granted; Alekhine never quite believed it and was always out to demonstrate it yet again to reassure himself. An intensely nervous, dynamic character, the way he moved his pieces was almost like a physical attack. Capablanca gave you the impression that disposing of you was a piece of routine, to be got over as quickly as possible; Alekhine, you felt, intended to give you a lesson you would not quickly forget for your impertinence in daring to oppose him.
Many, including Fischer, believed Capablanca was the greater player.  If we believe Chessmetrics, it is so:  Capablanca is in the top 5 of every list from 1 to 15 years.

Those who played against him, or watched him play, remarked on his clarity, how lucid his play was.  His games unfolded as continuous, logical narratives, culminating in seemingly inevitable victory.  We must remember, in 1911 chess was still largely terra incognita - no one was sure exactly how to play correctly.  But today we do know, and we can evaluate every game ever played using chess engines that are stronger than any human player.  With enough CPU cycles, we can work out the best move for almost any position.  Studies using these engines tell us which master made the fewest errors in his tournament games:  Capablanca.

As Alexander notes, he did it all without apparent effort.  Late in his life, his second wife Olga got her courage up and asked him about it:
He was in one of his best moods and even drank a little champagne with me. Only then did I venture the question. “The players would like to know why you don’t pay more attention to chess.” 
Instead of cutting me short, as I half expected, Capa smiled. “You, too, would like to know?” 
As I nodded, he said slowly and clearly: “Because if I did, there would be nothing left for the others.”

The cost of grace

Malcolm Gladwell would have us believe that aptitude is overrated, that if you or I would just put in 10,000 hours of solid effort we too could be world-class violinists or pole vaulters.  I am sympathetic - I have seen far more people become "gifted" through hard work than through grace.

But there is grace.  There are chosen ones.  The Greeks knew it, and populated their stories with demigods.  The Romans had one of their own, Aeneas, who was mothered by Venus and also had Zeus in his paternal line.  Gilgamesh did them one better, achieving the genetically impossible ratio of two parts god to one part man.

I'll settle your hash when I'm done with the lion

They usually display their gifts early.  Capablanca learned chess from watching his father, then announced one day that he could beat him, and did, followed in short order by the champion of Cuba.  Tiger Woods watched his father practice his swing from a high chair, and took his first golf swing when he was nine months old.  By the time he was two, he was on national television.  Here's a piece by Paul Klee, which is a little weak by his standards until you learn that he did it when he was five.  Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec had similar moments (NYT piece on this here).

Ok, one more.  Wayne Gretzky is a year older than I am.  In 1979, I walked around hockey rinks and wrote some sports reports for a local paper, more or less waiting to grow up a little before going to college.  That year Gretzky played for the WHA all-stars in a three game series against Moscow Dynamo, on a line with Gordie and Mark Howe.  They won.

Looking at these prodigies, though, I see two perhaps related problems.  First of all, hardly any of them accomplished anything noteworthy beyond their core area of genius.  Second, their experiences are so unique, I imagine that their lives must be somewhat lonely.  Who is there who has shared their experiences?  Gretzky was playing against ten year-olds when he was six.  He may fit in with a group of immortal hockey players, but even with them, is there anyone who has experience what he has?  Maybe Mozart had the same problem.

What else do they miss?  Surely they miss the great gift of mediocrity:  the ability to choose a path.  There was never much doubt what Wayne Gretzky or Tiger Woods would do for a living.  But those of us born with ordinary talents have to make ourselves, and make our lives - a gift that few appreciate.  Edward Lasker - no relation to Emanuel, though he drew him once - is one of only a few people I can think of who chose to turn his back on great sporting or artistic potential so he could do something useful instead (he invented the breast pump, among other things).  Vidmar (mentioned above) was another.  But you don't see many.

To make things worse, The Gift usually imparts a cost of narrowness, even among those who wish for broader horizons.  Emanuel Lasker pursued various creative projects, but they are forgotten now.  Einstein lamented that chess had twisted the mind of his friend in some way- "the enormous mental resilience, without which no chess player can exist, was so much taken up by chess that he could never free his mind of this game, even when he was occupied by philosophical and humanitarian questions."

I am still working my way through Gladwell's book, but there is something else these people have, something that I believe is decisive in their separation from the rest of us.  It is, for want of a better word, sight.  Larry Bird and Wayne Gretzky were not astonishingly strong or fast - what was astonishing about them was their perception, their awareness, their anticipation. Watch Tiger's eyes around 1:08 of this clip and tell me he's not seeing something no one else sees.  These people see things, and once they see them, they are changed and cannot return to a normal life, if they ever had one.

Lasker admitted that once he had chosen chess, he could not un-choose it.  He could see too much in it:
It is too beautiful to spend your life upon. Many times have I managed to break with chess, yet I have always fallen in love with it again. I was too captivated by the conflict between ideas and opinions, attack and defence, life and death.