Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

  On to another year. I made my resolutions for last year by October (350 miles on a stationary bike, 7000 perfect pushups), so this year I will push the envelope some more

1. 525 miles on the stationary bike
2. 8400 perfect pushups
3. 104 blogs

  Happy New year to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Search for Perfection

  In chess, if you want to win a tournament, you normally have to win all your games. Sometimes you can give up a draw and still come in first. A lot of players will offer their last round opponent a draw before the game even starts in order to secure their prize money. In matches, once a player has a lead, they will stop playing to win and only play not to lose in order to keep their advantage. Part of the reason Bobby Fisher is so revered by chess players is that he played to win every game. In 1971 he won 2 matches by 6-0 scores against top-shelf competition, an unheard of feat. In his 1972 world championship match against Boris Spassky, even Fisher succumbed to draw-itis once he had a big lead, drawing 7 games in a row before winning the 21st and final game.

  The Indianapolis Colts had won their first 14 games of the season, clinched the best record in their conference, and were assured of having all their playoff games in their home stadium going into this past Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. After getting a 15-10 lead into the 3rd quarter, Colt’s coach Jim Caldwell removed all his best players (including All-world quarterback Payton Manning and Iowa native Dallas Clark) and the Colts lost the game 29-15. The star players looked upset at being pulled from the game, but didn’t complain publicly. The coach and general manager Bill Polian both said that a perfect regular season wasn’t part of their master plan of winning the Super Bowl.

  I’m confused by the Colt’s reasoning. If they were afraid of their top players getting hurt, why play them at all instead of over half the game? If the Colts wanted to keep their top players sharp, why not rest them in the first half and then play them in the second half under real game conditions? Another factor was Payton Manning’s consecutive game streak. But what if he got hurt on the first play?

  Why not just play to win? There has only been 1 team that has won all their games, the 1972 Dolphins. The Patriots came close 2 years ago, not losing until the Super Bowl due to an inspired (and lucky) comeback by the Giants. The 72 Dolphins had their best record clinched before their last 2 games, but still played to win. I think it shows softness by not playing for perfection when afforded the rare opportunity to do so. Now the players may have a doubt in their minds as to whether they could have beaten the Jets. I think the aura of invincibility is more valuable than the risk of getting a player hurt.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reasons to home school and knife control **updated

  I'm not a big fan of home schooling, although I can see the merits. The parents certainly have some reasons...

Reason #62  Would this school ban kids if they drew the devil?

Reason #63  Why would the principal and assistant principal need to be suspended? Makes me wonder.

Of course,
kids really don't outgrow this violent behavior.  I wonder if there will be a call for knife control to prevent these decapitations from happening in the future. If so, I can see a big boom in the prepared food market. But you know what they say, when knives are outlawed, only outlaws will have knives.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods

  I’m amazed how quickly all Tiger Wood’s alleged partners came out for their 15 minutes of fame. I read a lot about how all the publicity is racially motivated. Bill Clinton got much more ink for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was the leader of the free world, but he was also less popular, probably less well known, and rumors of Clinton’s indiscretions were rampant even before he was president. And Prince Charles was a world laughingstock when his phone calls to his Lady Camilla became public.

  I have to believe that the other golfers on the tour and the golf media knew about some of Tiger’s ladies, but it is perfectly understandable why they would not make it public. Thanks to Tiger Woods, everyone in the golf industry makes more money. In the 1920’s Babe Ruth’s womanizing was well-known. He missed half the 1925 season with an illness described as the ‘bellyache heard around the world’, when there are numerous accounts of the Babe suffering from syphilis. For the same reasons as 85 years later, the baseball press of the time saw no reason to kill the cash cow.

  What is different is that 85 years ago there was no tabloid industry. From Princess Diana to Brittany Spears to Patrick Swayze to Michael Jackson to Tiger Woods, there is a lot of money to be made by giving the public a window to the private lives of celebrities and no one cares what kind of Mac & Cheese is being served for dinner. And to expose Tiger Woods’ humanity is even a bigger seller since his revealed behavior is such a polar opposite to his carefully manicured image as the tunnel-visioned golfer who has no time for anything outside polishing his craft except for his family and a few selected endorsement deals.

  Once Tiger goes away for awhile and there is no golf news, I wonder if the tabloids will find other golfers’ womanizing. Probably not, since even though there has to be a lot of married golfers with steady hookups on the tour, none will be well-known enough to make people buy the magazines. I’ll know chess is in the mainstream when the tabloids show a chess player’s many girlfriends.

  Tiger’s endorsement deals are disappearing fast. I wonder if his hiatus is to repair his marriage, to repair his image, or if it is really one and the same to him. In case he is a little short of cash, I have a few ideas for some new endorsement deals:

    1. Woods’ Escort Service – Personally approved and rated. Special on the 4-wood section this week only.
    2. Ti-agra – “To help you keep up”
    3. Tiger’s Law Service – Specializing in pre-nuptial and child support agreements. Discretion assured

  Feel free to add your own in comments. I'll add them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Missed Opportunity

I had planned to play at the CyChess Sunday, but the forecast of 1 to 3 inches of snow derailed my plans. There was no snow and my caution was in vain, but I did have a nice consolation prize watching my favorite football team, the New York Giants beat the hated Dallas Cowboys to claw their way back to a game behind the ‘boys and the Eagles in the division. Maybe they can get hot and win it all like they did 2 years ago. They were only a wild card that year also.

For my chess year I went +9 -5 =8 in standard time controls, gaining 13 rating points. I lost 8 quick rating points, owing mostly to my only scoring a draw in my last 3 games against Jaleb Jay, who I outrate by 400+ points. All in all, a successful year. Here is my best game from 2009, my win against Gerald Hawkins in the 2009 Iowa Class B championship on May 23rd. I had just lost a game to Gerald 6 days previously in the most excruciating fashion by winning a piece and then going to pieces and resigning 4 moves later, so this was a large measure of vindication.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Twins Sons of Different Mothers

  President Obama gave a speech on Tuesday night outlining his reasons for adding more troops to Afghanistan. It sounded a lot like the speech Bush gave for adding more troops to Iraq (the 2007 Surge). While Obama addressed some of the criticisms that were leveled at Bush’s speech (exit strategy, holding the host country accountable, a gentler tone), if you just looked at the actions of our last 2 presidents, you would never guess that they were polar opposites of the political spectrum. From adding troops to bank bailouts to stimulus packages, they are in lock step. Obama is supposedly the Anti-Bush, black not white, young not old, urbane not country, smart not stupid, thoughtful not impulsive. I believe the differences are in style only, not substance. The Democrats in Congress grumble about the new troops in foreign lands, but they will go along with Obama just like they did with the Bush Iraq Surge. The Republicans in Congress grumbled about the Bush bailouts, but just enough voted for it to have it pass. When no republican votes were needed for the Obama stimulus, none were provided. When 3 republican votes were needed in the Senate to pass the Obama stimulus, 3 were found.

  The only real differences I see in the so-called 2 party system are the 2 religious issues of our time, abortion and gay tolerance. Moderate Republicans complain that the anti-abortion and anti-gay wing majority of the Republican Party is forcing them to switch to the Democratic Party. It makes it seem that the Republic Party is the party of intolerance. Where is the anti-abortion and anti-gay wing of the Democratic Party? They must have been forced out a long time ago. When it comes to any issues other than those, can the 2 parties be distinguished from one another? To quote the last line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."