Sunday, July 11, 2010

Honest and Half-Honest

  If you want to get annoyed during a conversation with me, just start a sentence with one of the following phrases:
"To be honest with you,..."
"To tell the truth,..."

  When you finish talking, I'll ask if you were lying about everything you said to me up to that point. When you say no, I'll ask why you felt the need to preface your last statement by letting me know you were telling the truth if you weren't lying the rest of the time. And every time after that if you don't begin a statement by expressing your honesty, I'll ask if you were just being honest, since you didn't preface your remarks by letting me know you were telling the truth THIS time. If I'm on my game, I can get the other party to break down in tears or start screaming "WHAT IS THIS? A @#%$(@ TRIAL?"." Honest people never have to say they are being honest. I've run across a couple of examples of honesty this week that I'd like to share.

  2 weeks ago I drove my son Matt to Jackson, Minnesota where he was helping to conduct a
chess camp run by John Flores of Sibley, Iowa. John has run the camp the last 2 years featuring the high school chess champions of Iowa and Minnesota and donated the proceeds to the 2 champions to help with expenses attending the national tournament. This year’s camp was not well attended, but John and Sam Smith of the Southwest Minnesota Chess Association pulled a lot of money out of their pockets to give to the champions. This year's tournament in in Irvine, California so the money will come in very handy. Matt and I were kind of embarrassed taking their money, and we hope to be able to return the favor in the future. I’m a better giver than receiver, but I’m getting better at receiving as I get older.

  This past week John sent me an email saying that he had received another donation for the chess camp and was going to be splitting up the donation and was going to forward it to Matt and the Minnesota champion. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have just pocketed the cash and not said another word, but John is an honest man and this shows just how honest he is. He ran for the office of Treasurer for the Iowa State Chess Association and I voted for him, since the current treasurer had not attended any of the annual meetings since his last re-election and also not bothered submitting any treasurer reports over the last 2 years. Unfortunately, there was no open election process so John had to run as a write in candidate. The current treasurer managed to come the meeting to be re-elected and even came up with a treasurer’s report. Sadly, John did not get elected.

  In May, I
reviewed the book ‘How to Improve Your Chess at Any Age’ by Andres Hortillosa. I noted that the book advertises how the author went from an unrated player to an international ratting of 2199 using his method. I pointed out that the international rating was due to a successful first international tournament and has fallen steadily since. Last week, Bob Long advertised on his blog that Hortillosa would be appearing at his chess Clinic in October. He mentioned the book and said “his rating was 2199 last I looked”. I wrote a comment on his blog that Bob must have not looked at his rating for quite some time since Hortillosa’s international rating was 2199 in October of 2008 and was never 2199 nationally. Bob wrote back that I should go to his chess clinic and ask Hortillosa about his rating and also that “I'm not concerned much about the rating as it's been a while since I was near 2100, but I have beaten more masters than many other people.”

  I was very disappointed in this reply since I’ve always found Bob to be a person of high integrity. I’ve seen him come to a tournament to sell books only to walk out when he found a book vendor there who he felt illegally copied old books to CD to sell, violating copyright laws. If he was not so concerned about ratings, he shouldn’t have mentioned it, but having mentioned it, he should have been stand-up enough to admit that he ‘last looked’ at the rating from the advertisement on the back of the book and corrected himself once alerted. The bulldog in me went to look up Bob’s rating to see when he was rated 2100 and beating “more masters than many other people”. Looking at
Bob’s USCF record, I can see that he has not been rated 2100 since at least 1991 (as far back as the computerized records go), and has been over 2000 for 2 months in the last 20 years (August 1994). Further investigation shows that in the last 20 years Bob has played 3 masters and lost all 3 games. I haven’t beaten any masters in the last 20 years either, so I don’t want you to think I’m knocking Bob, but it would be nice if the facts added up. There is nothing factually wrong, but facts used to lead the reader to a wrong conclusion are half-honest at best.

  When I was working writing retail store software, a company that was a division of one of our competitors tried to convince my boss to partner for some e-commerce initiatives. They mentioned that they had been talking to the head of the NSRA (National Shoe Retailers Association) and that he was going to recommend the e-commerce initiative to his members. My boss called the head of the NRSA and found he never talked to this company. My boss was telling me about the lie and I told him that they may have been talking to him, he just wasn’t on the phone at the time. I mentioned that I was discussing foreign affairs with President Bush the week before. To be honest, he wasn't in my office or on the phone but that didn't mean I wasn't talking to him.

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