Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years 2010



Here we are - another new year's day. It never was much of a holiday and if I had my way, it would be dropped in favor of some other holiday - Martin Luther King day, for example.

Did you know that New Years Day was first celebrated 4,000 years ago by the ancient Babylonians? Back then it was the first New Moon after the first Vernal Equinox. Start of Spring seemed the logical time to start a new year - rebirth of the plants, cooling temperatures, and all that.

January 1 is purely arbitrary. Yet, it has become traditional. It is hard for me to imagine treating January 1 as just another workday. I've stayed up to midnight all my adult life. It just seems natural to experience the first moments of a new year. - And when it begins a new decade, as well (let alone a new century!) one is hard pressed to sleep the night away.

So, this holiday has practical value.

My New Year Resolutions: Get CPE done early. Keep up this blog regularly.

A Retrieved Reformation - 5

by O'Henry


In half an hour Jimmy went down stairs and through the cafe. He was now dressed in tasteful and well-fitting clothes, and carried his dusted and cleaned suit-case in his hand.

"Got anything on?" asked Mike Dolan, genially.

"Me?" said Jimmy, in a puzzled tone. "I don't understand. I'm representing the New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company."

This statement delighted Mike to such an extent that Jimmy had to take a seltzer-and-milk on the spot. He never touched "hard" drinks.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

Photo is author's home in Austin, TX. Now the O'Henry Museum. (CC) Larry D. Moore.

Literature DailyRest of the Story

9 News Items Missed in 2009

These are 9 news stories that the establishment missed in 2009. Either they reported belatedly, partially, or not at all.

What strikes me about this list is how very important these stories were and how derided they were by the established elites. On the extremists-in-government stories, I recall how much attention was paid to these when the Republicans were in power. If they were important then, they were important this year, too.

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 5

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the grass coming from that direction also.

Suddenly Uncle Henry stood up.

"There's a cyclone coming, Em," he called to his wife. "I'll go look after the stock." Then he ran toward the sheds where the cows and horses were kept.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from A Retreived Reformation by O' Henry.

The trailer of Judy Garland's breakout movie of 1939; why wasn't the rest of Baum's Oz books made into movies?

Illustrated: cover of the book's first edition in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 5

by Mark Twain


From Genoa the run to Leghorn will be made along the coast in one
night, and time appropriated to this point in which to visit
Florence, its palaces and galleries; Pisa, its cathedral and
"Leaning Tower," and Lucca and its baths, and Roman amphitheater;
Florence, the most remote, being distant by rail about sixty miles.

From Leghorn to Naples (calling at Civita Vecchia to land any who
may prefer to go to Rome from that point), the distance will be made
in about thirty-six hours; the route will lay along the coast of
Italy, close by Caprera, Elba, and Corsica. Arrangements have been
made to take on board at Leghorn a pilot for Caprera, and, if
practicable, a call will be made there to visit the home of
Garibaldi.

Rome [by rail], Herculaneum, Pompeii, Vesuvius, Vergil's tomb, and
possibly the ruins of Paestum can be visited, as well as the
beautiful surroundings of Naples and its charming bay.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book


This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: "Popular Talk of the Excursion--Programme of the Trip--Duly Ticketed for the Excursion--Defection of the Celebrities

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kim - First Chapter - 5

by Rudyard Kipling




The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.




True, he knew the wonderful walled city of Lahore from the Delhi Gate to the outer Fort Ditch; was hand in glove with men who led lives stranger than anything Haroun al Raschid dreamed of; and he lived in a life wild as that of the Arabian Nights, but missionaries and secretaries of charitable societies could not see the beauty of it. His nickname through the wards was 'Little Friend of all the World'; and very often, being lithe and inconspicuous, he executed commissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion. It was intrigue,--of course he knew that much, as he had known all evil since he could speak,--but what he loved was the game for its own sake—the stealthy prowl through the dark gullies and lanes, the crawl up a waterpipe, the sights and sounds of the women's world on the flat roofs, and the headlong flight from housetop to housetop under cover of the hot dark.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book


Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Illiad - First Book - 5

by Homer



With these words he sat down, and Calchas son of Thestor, wisest
of augurs, who knew things past present and to come, rose to
speak. He it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to
Ilius, through the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had
inspired him. With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them
thus:--

"Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger
of King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and
swear that you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I
know that I shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to
whom all the Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand
against the anger of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure
now, will yet nurse revenge till he has wreaked it. Consider,
therefore, whether or no you will protect me."




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

More About This Book


From the earliest days of Ancient Greece, the author(s) of this poem were contemporaries of the writers of the Bible's Old Testament.

Summary of First Book: The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.

Painting: The Wrath of Achilles by Michael Drolling, 1819.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How We Spent Our Christmas

We spent it at the Atlanta Acquarium. We got pictures and videos. I'm just learning how to use it.

Thousand and One Nights - 5

The Merchant and the Genie


Presently another old man came up, leading two black dogs, and saluting them, inquired why they sat in a place known to be haunted by Jinn, whereupon the merchant repeated his story to him. He had not sat long with them when there came up a third old man leading a dappled she-mule, and after putting to them the same question and receiving a like answer, sat down with them to await the issue of the affair. They had sat but a little while longer, when behold, there arose a cloud of dust and a great whirling column approached from the heart of the desert. Then the dust lifted and discovered the genie, with a drawn sword in his hand and sparks of fire issuing from his eyes. He came up to them and dragged the merchant from amongst them, saying, 'Rise, that I may slay thee as thou slewest my son, the darling of my heart!' Whereupon the merchant wept and bewailed himself and the three old men joined their cries and lamentations to his. Then came forward the first old man, he of the gazelle, and kissed the Afrit's hand and said to him, 'O genie and crown of the kings of the Jinn, if I relate to thee my history with this gazelle and it seem to thee wonderful, wilt thou grant me a third of this merchant's blood?' 'Yes, O old man,' answered the genie, 'if thou tell me thy story and I find it wonderful, I will remit to thee a third of his blood.' Then said the old man, 'Know, O Afrit, that




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book


From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Terror Attacks on US

News today that another terror attack occured on NW Flite 253 to Detroit.

That's two attacks in just a few months. This compares to the record of the Bush years.

The Fort Hood attack was definetly related to left-wing attitudes on profiling and political correctness. This one is too new for us to know about yet. The suspect appeared to be a Nigerian who transited in via London and Amsterdam. Nigeria has a substantial Muslim population.

One of the Bush Administration anti-terror policies had been the cooperation of European Banks to track terrorism's financing. The New York Times decided to override Bush's objections and publicized this part of the anti-terrorism policy. As a result, the European banks invovlved, discontinued their cooperation. Since then, the threat of exposure and retaliation has inhibited private European institutions from cooperating with the US government.

For all the harranging on Bush for his anti-terror policies being too strict, the proof was in the scorecard. No major terror attack on US soil for the duration of his watch. Obama takes over and now what?

It is time to re-examine the Bush anti-terror policies. Those that worked and have been removed ought to be reinstated. Safety ought to trump ideology on this issue.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Lays of Ancient Rome - 4

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


VII

But now no stroke of woodman
        Is heard by Auser's rill;
No hunter tracks the stag's green path
        Up the Ciminian hill;
Unwatched along Clitumnus
        Grazes the milk-white steer;
Unharmed the water fowl may dip
        In the Volsminian mere.

VIII

The harvests of Arretium,
        This year, old men shall reap;
This year, young boys in Umbro
        Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
And in the vats of Luna,
        This year, the must shall foam
Round the white feet of laughing girls
        Whose sires have marched to Rome.





Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from the great Arab book Thousand and One Nights.

More About This Book


This poem celebrates one of the great heroic legends of history. Horatius saves Rome from the Etruscan invaders in 642 BC. Scottish poet Macaulay published this in 1842.

Illustration: Horatio at the Bridge from the first edition.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Christmas Again



I like the paintings in this video/slide show.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Retrieved Reformation - 4

by O'Henry


"Sorry we couldn't make it sooner, Jimmy, me boy," said Mike. "But we had that protest from Springfield to buck against, and the governor nearly balked. Feeling all right?"

"Fine," said Jimmy. "Got my key?"

He got his key and went upstairs, unlocking the door of a room at the rear. Everything was just as he had left it. There on the floor was still Ben Price's collar-button that had been torn from that eminent detective's shirt-band when they had overpowered Jimmy to arrest him.

Pulling out from the wall a folding-bed, Jimmy slid back a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust-covered suit-case. He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar's tools in the East. It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jimmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties, invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride. Over nine hundred dollars they had cost him to have made at ----, a place where they make such things for the profession.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

Photo is author's home in Austin, TX. Now the O'Henry Museum. (CC) Larry D. Moore.

Literature DailyRest of the Story

Christmas Eve

We're wishing for this book. Kathy and I will read it together. It is from her favorite author. A perfect book for us for Christmas.

Macomber was told to give up writing; she could never make it. Now she is a best-selling author of women's romance and inspirational works. Her Christmas holiday books have been coming out for 20 years. A new Christmas story each year.

This will be Kathy's and my first Debbie Macomber Christmas.

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 4

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.

Today, however, they were not playing. Uncle Henry sat upon the doorstep and looked anxiously at the sky, which was even grayer than usual. Dorothy stood in the door with Toto in her arms, and looked at the sky too. Aunt Em was washing the dishes.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from A Retreived Reformation by O' Henry.

The trailer of Judy Garland's breakout movie of 1939; why wasn't the rest of Baum's Oz books made into movies?

Illustrated: cover of the book's first edition in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

She's The One



Watched this movie last night. It was a romantic comedy. Very little romance but still funny. Why can't people figure out that romance is so much more than sex? Hollywood used to know this. Sadly, the comedy is all about sexual desire and almost nothing about love.

From the trailer, just look at all the A-List talent in this pic! All this, and hardly any romance - sad, sad.

Good premise: cab driver picks up girl and they fall in love and get married. Then the fun begins.

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 4

by Mark Twain


From Gibraltar, running along the coasts of Spain and France, Marseilles will be reached in three days. Here ample time will be given not only to look over the city, which was founded six hundred years before the Christian era, and its artificial port, the finest of the kind in the Mediterranean, but to visit Paris during the Great Exhibition; and the beautiful city of Lyons, lying intermediate, from the heights of which, on a clear day, Mont Blanc and the Alps can be distinctly seen. Passengers who may wish to extend the time at Paris can do so, and, passing down through
Switzerland, rejoin the steamer at Genoa.

From Marseilles to Genoa is a run of one night. The excursionists will have an opportunity to look over this, the "magnificent city of palaces," and visit the birthplace of Columbus, twelve miles off, over a beautiful road built by Napoleon I. From this point, excursions may be made to Milan, Lakes Como and Maggiore, or to
Milan, Verona (famous for its extraordinary fortifications), Padua, and Venice. Or, if passengers desire to visit Parma (famous for Correggio's frescoes) and Bologna, they can by rail go on to Florence, and rejoin the steamer at Leghorn, thus spending about three weeks amid the cities most famous for art in Italy.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book


This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: "Popular Talk of the Excursion--Programme of the Trip--Duly Ticketed for the Excursion--Defection of the Celebrities

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Know Your Credit Score

Here's a great story from the New York Times. How to find your credit score and the best ways to mend it.

Kim - First Chapter - 4

by Rudyard Kipling




The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.




'Ah,' said Kim, 'I shall remember. A Red Bull and a Colonel on a horse will come, but first, my father said, will come the two men making ready the ground for these matters. That is how my father said they always did; and it is always so when men work magic.'

If the woman had sent Kim up to the local Jadoo-Gher with those papers, he would, of course, have been taken over by the Provincial Lodge, and sent to the Masonic Orphanage in the Hills; but what she had heard of magic she distrusted. Kim, too, held views of his own. As he reached the years of indiscretion, he learned to avoid missionaries and white men of serious aspect who asked who he was, and what he did. For Kim did nothing with an immense success.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book


Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Monday, December 21, 2009

What I'm Watching 12/21/09



This was a great spy series. U.N.C.L.E. = United Network Command for Law Enforcement. I'm still in Season 1.

The Illiad - First Book - 4

by Homer


For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon
the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly--moved thereto by
Juno, who saw the Achaeans in their death-throes and had
compassion upon them. Then, when they were got together, he rose
and spoke among them.

"Son of Atreus," said he, "I deem that we should now turn roving
home if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by
war and pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or
some reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell
us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some
vow that we have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered,
and whether he will accept the savour of lambs and goats without
blemish, so as to take away the plague from us."




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

More About This Book


From the earliest days of Ancient Greece, the author(s) of this poem were contemporaries of the writers of the Bible's Old Testament.

Summary of First Book: The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.

Painting: The Wrath of Achilles by Michael Drolling, 1819.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Missy and Kathy


I like this picture. This is the Pastor's wife (on the left) and my wife (on the right). I have to go to work today but if you don't have to, then go to church. It's the Christmas season, after all.

The scene is the fellowship hall, Smyrna Assembly of God.

As for these two, they look good together, don't they!

Thousand and One Nights - 4

The Merchant and the Genie


He journeyed on till he reached the garden, where he had met with the genie, on the first day of the new year, and there sat down to await his doom. Presently, as he sat weeping over what had befallen him, there came up an old man, leading a gazelle by a chain, and saluted the merchant, saying, 'What ails thee to sit alone in this place, seeing that it is the resort of the Jinn?' The merchant told him all that had befallen him with the Afrit, and he wondered and said, 'By Allah, O my brother, thy good faith is exemplary and thy story is a marvellous one! If it were graven with needles on the corners of the eye, it would serve as a warning to those that can profit by example.' Then he sat down by his side, saying, 'By Allah, O my brother, I will not leave thee till I see what befalls thee with this Afrit.' So they sat conversing, and fear and terror got hold upon the merchant and trouble increased upon him, notwithstanding the old man's company.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book


From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Middle East Necessity

This essay by Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times says that we can't do the Arab's fighting and dying for them. They have got to take ownership themselves of the fight against terrorism themselves.

True, kind of. The problem of indeginous support vexed Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War. Southerners who said they supported the Union but weren't willing to sacrifice to do it. Still, the job got done. The army had to conquer and then occupy the land for many years, though.

Lays of Ancient Rome - 3

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


V

From the proud mart of Pisae,
        Queen of the western waves,
Where ride Massilia's triremes
        Heavy with fair-haired slaves;
From where sweet Clanis wanders
        Through corn and vines and flowers;
From where Cortona lifts to heaven
        Her diadem of towers.

VI

Tall are the oaks whose acorns
        Drop in dark Auser's rill;
Fat are the stags that champ the boughs
        Of the Ciminian hill;
Beyond all streams Clitumnus
        Is to the herdsman dear;
Best of all pools the fowler loves
        The great Volsinian mere.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from the great Arab book Thousand and One Nights.

More About This Book


This poem celebrates one of the great heroic legends of history. Horatius saves Rome from the Etruscan invaders in 642 BC. Scottish poet Macaulay published this in 1842.

Illustration: Horatio at the Bridge from the first edition.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reti Opening

Get ready to play in a chess tournament this weekend.

Here's a little video to help you get your engine started. (-or to just learn a little more about the game.)



Flexible, versatile - okay, got it. B to g2. Got that, too. And possible c-4 for White. Too, bad he didn't show Reti's very odd looking Na3 and the long term plans that result from that.

This is the opening I used for both White and Black when I started tournament play years ago. It is still good. With this kind of opening set up, it is very hard for superior players to wipe you out in the first few moves. - Though I've seen beginners try it but forget to castle and get wiped out, anyway. Be sure to castle and also watch out for those rook pawn advances.

Chess events in your area . . . and visit jrobi who created these wonderful videos.

A Retrieved Reformation - 3

by O'Henry


At a quarter past seven on the next morning Jimmy stood in the warden's outer office. He had on a suit of the villainously fitting, ready-made clothes and a pair of the stiff, squeaky shoes that the state furnishes to its discharged compulsory guests.

The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which the law expected him to rehabilitate himself into good citizenship and prosperity. The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands. Valentine, 9762, was chronicled on the books, "Pardoned by Governor," and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.

Disregarding the song of the birds, the waving green trees, and the smell of the flowers, Jimmy headed straight for a restaurant. There he tasted the first sweet joys of liberty in the shape of a broiled chicken and a bottle of white wine--followed by a cigar a grade better than the one the warden had given him. From there he proceeded leisurely to the depot. He tossed a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door, and boarded his train. Three hours set him down in a little town near the state line. He went to the cafe of one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

Photo is author's home in Austin, TX. Now the O'Henry Museum. (CC) Larry D. Moore.

Literature DailyRest of the Story

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 3

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from A Retreived Reformation by O' Henry.

The trailer of Judy Garland's breakout movie of 1939; why wasn't the rest of Baum's Oz books made into movies?

Illustrated: cover of the book's first edition in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 3

by Mark Twain


The steamer will be provided with every necessary comfort,
including library and musical instruments.

An experienced physician will be on board.

Leaving New York about June 1st, a middle and pleasant route will
be taken across the Atlantic, and passing through the group of
Azores, St. Michael will be reached in about ten days. A day or two
will be spent here, enjoying the fruit and wild scenery of these
islands, and the voyage continued, and Gibraltar reached in three or
four days.

A day or two will be spent here in looking over the wonderful
subterraneous fortifications, permission to visit these galleries
being readily obtained.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book


This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: "Popular Talk of the Excursion--Programme of the Trip--Duly Ticketed for the Excursion--Defection of the Celebrities

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kim - First Chapter - 3

by Rudyard Kipling




The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.




It would, he said, all come right some day, and Kim's horn would be exalted between pillars--monstrous pillars--of beauty and strength. The Colonel himself, riding on a horse, at the head of the finest Regiment in the world, would attend to Kim--little Kim that should have been better off than his father. Nine hundred first-class devils, whose God was a Red Bull on a green field, would attend to Kim, if they had not forgotten O'Hara--poor O'Hara that was gang-foreman on the Ferozepore line. Then he would weep bitterly in the broken rush chair on the veranda. So it came about after his death that the woman sewed parchment, paper, and birth-certificate into a leather amulet-case which she strung round Kim's neck.

'And some day,' she said, confusedly remembering O'Hara's prophecies, 'there will come for you a great Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse, yes, and' dropping into English--'nine hundred devils.'




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book


Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Illiad - First Book - 3

by Homer


The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went
by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo
whom lovely Leto had borne. "Hear me," he cried, "O god of the
silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest
Tenedos with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have
ever decked your temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones
in fat of bulls or goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows
avenge these my tears upon the Danaans."

Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He came down
furious from the summits of Olympus, with his bow and his quiver
upon his shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the
rage that trembled within him. He sat himself down away from the
ships with a face as dark as night, and his silver bow rang death
as he shot his arrow in the midst of them. First he smote their
mules and their hounds, but presently he aimed his shafts at the
people themselves, and all day long the pyres of the dead were
burning.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

More About This Book


From the earliest days of Ancient Greece, the author(s) of this poem were contemporaries of the writers of the Bible's Old Testament.

Summary of First Book: The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.

Painting: The Wrath of Achilles by Michael Drolling, 1819.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thousand and One Nights - 3

The Merchant and the Genie


'Know, O Afrit,' replied the merchant, 'that I have a wife and children and much substance, and I owe debts and hold pledges: so let me return home and give every one his due, and I vow by all that is most sacred that I will return to thee at the end of the year, that thou mayest do with me as thou wilt, and God is witness of what I say.' The genie accepted his promise and released him, whereupon he returned to his dwelling-place and paid his debts and settled all his affairs. Moreover, he told his wife and children what had happened and made his last dispositions, and tarried with his family till the end of the year. Then he rose and made his ablutions and took his winding sheet under his arm and bidding his household and kinsfolk and neighbours farewell, set out, much against his will, to perform his promise to the genie; whilst his family set up a great noise of crying and lamentation.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book


From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lays of Ancient Rome - 2

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


III

The horsemen and the footmen
        Are pouring in amain
From many a stately market-place,
        From many a fruitful plain,
From many a lonely hamlet,
        Which, hid by beech and pine,
Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
        Of purple Apennine;

IV

From lordly Volaterrae,
        Where scowls the far-famed hold
Piled by the hands of giants
        For godlike kings of old;
From seagirt Populonia,
        Whose sentinels descry
Sardinia's snowy mountain-tops
        Fringing the southern sky;




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from the great Arab book Thousand and One Nights.

More About This Book


This poem celebrates one of the great heroic legends of history. Horatius saves Rome from the Etruscan invaders in 642 BC. Scottish poet Macaulay published this in 1842.

Illustration: Horatio at the Bridge from the first edition.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Retrieved Reformation - 2

by O'Henry


"Oh, no," laughed the warden. "Of course not. Let's see, now. How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job? Was it because you wouldn't prove an alibi for fear of compromising somebody in extremely high-toned society? Or was it simply a case of a mean old jury that had it in for you? It's always one or the other with you innocent victims."

"Me?" said Jimmy, still blankly virtuous. "Why, warden, I never was in Springfield in my life!"

"Take him back, Cronin!" said the warden, "and fix him up with outgoing clothes. Unlock him at seven in the morning, and let him come to the bull-pen. Better think over my advice, Valentine."




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

More About This Story


My favorite short story writer. His word play and his subject matter are the two best parts of his writing. This is one of his most admired stories.

Photo: Author's home in Austin, TX. Now the O'Henry Museum. (CC) Larry D. Moore.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

The Benoni

Get ready to play in a chess tournament this weekend.

Here's a little video to help you get your engine started. (-or to just learn a little more about the game.)



I wish that this video asked basic questions I've run into for many years. What is the d5 push for White so better than other moves? What about just taking the c pawn, instead?

Alternatively, many White players reinforce d4 with Pawn-e3. While this temporarily locks in the W bishop, eventually it goes to b2, anyway. Usually, I play Sicilian style c x d4 but in this case, since White recaptures with a pawn instead of a Knight, he still ends up with a great pawn duo at c4 and d4 and superior center control.

The highlight of this video is the Taimanov Variation and Black's avoidance of it.

Chess events in your area . . . and visit jrobi who created these wonderful videos.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 2

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar--except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole.

When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from A Retreived Reformation by O' Henry.

The trailer of Judy Garland's breakout movie of 1939; why wasn't the rest of Baum's Oz books made into movies?

Illustrated: cover of the book's first edition in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 2

by Mark Twain


It was a brave conception; it was the offspring of a most ingenious brain. It was well advertised, but it hardly needed it: the bold originality, the extraordinary character, the seductive nature, and the vastness of the enterprise provoked comment everywhere and advertised it in every household in the land. Who could read the program of the excursion without longing to make one of the party? I will insert it here. It is almost as good as a map. As a text for this book, nothing could be better:

EXCURSION TO THE HOLY LAND, EGYPT,
THE CRIMEA, GREECE, AND INTERMEDIATE POINTS OF INTEREST.
BROOKLYN, February 1st, 1867


The undersigned will make an excursion as above during the coming
season, and begs to submit to you the following programme:

A first-class steamer, to be under his own command, and capable of
accommodating at least one hundred and fifty cabin passengers, will
be selected, in which will be taken a select company, numbering not
more than three-fourths of the ship's capacity. There is good
reason to believe that this company can be easily made up in this
immediate vicinity, of mutual friends and acquaintances.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book


This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: "Popular Talk of the Excursion--Programme of the Trip--Duly Ticketed for the Excursion--Defection of the Celebrities

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kim - First Chapter - 2

by Rudyard Kipling




The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.




The half-caste woman who looked after him (she smoked opium, and pretended to keep a second-hand furniture shop by the square where the cheap cabs wait) told the missionaries that she was Kim's mother's sister; but his mother had been nursemaid in a Colonel's family and had married Kimball O'Hara, a young colour-sergeant of the Mavericks, an Irish regiment. He afterwards took a post on the Sind, Punjab, and Delhi Railway, and his Regiment went home without him. The wife died of cholera in Ferozepore, and O'Hara fell to drink and loafing up and down the line with the keen-eyed three-year-old baby. Societies and chaplains, anxious for the child, tried to catch him, but O'Hara drifted away, till he came across the woman who took opium and learned the taste from her, and died as poor whites die in India. His estate at death consisted of three papers--one he called his 'ne varietur' because those words were written below his signature thereon, and another his 'clearance-certificate'. The third was Kim's birth-certificate. Those things, he was used to say, in his glorious opium-hours, would yet make little Kimball a man. On no account was Kim to part with them, for they belonged to a great piece of magic--such magic as men practised over yonder behind the Museum, in the big blue-and-white Jadoo-Gher--the Magic House, as we name the Masonic Lodge.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book


Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Illiad - First Book - 2

by Homer



"Sons of Atreus," he cried, "and all other Achaeans, may the gods
who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to
reach your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a
ransom for her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove."

On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for
respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but
not so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly
away. "Old man," said he, "let me not find you tarrying about our
ships, nor yet coming hereafter. Your sceptre of the god and your
wreath shall profit you nothing. I will not free her. She shall
grow old in my house at Argos far from her own home, busying
herself with her loom and visiting my couch; so go, and do not
provoke me or it shall be the worse for you."




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

More About This Book


From the earliest days of Ancient Greece, the author(s) of this poem were contemporaries of the writers of the Bible's Old Testament.

Summary of First Book: The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.

Painting: The Wrath of Achilles by Michael Drolling, 1819.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thousand and One Nights - 2

The Merchant and the Genie


Then he seized him and throwing him down, raised his sword to strike him: whereupon the merchant wept and said, 'I commit my affair to God!' and recited the following verses:

Fate has two days, untroubled one, the other lowering, And life
two parts, the one content, the other sorrowing.
Say unto him that taunteth us with fortune's perfidy, 'At whom
but those whose heads are high doth Fate its arrows fling?'
If that the hands of Time have made their plaything of our life,
Till for its long protracted kiss ill-hap upon us spring,
Dost thou not see the hurricane, what time the wild winds blow,
Smite down the stately trees alone and spare each lesser
thing?
Lo! in the skies are many stars, no one can tell their tale, But
to the sun and moon alone eclipse brings darkening.
The earth bears many a pleasant herb and many a plant and tree:
But none is stoned save only those to which the fair fruit
cling.
Look on the sea and how the waifs float up upon the foam, But in
its deepest depths of blue the pearls have sojourning.

'Cut short thy speech,' said the genie, 'for, by Allah, there is
no help for it but I must kill thee.'




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book


From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lays of Ancient Rome - 1

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


I

Lars Porsena of Closium
        By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
        Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,
        And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north,
        To summon his array.

II

East and west and south and north
        The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage
        Have heard the trumpet's blast.
Shame on the false Etruscan
        Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
        Is on the march for Rome.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from the great Arab book Thousand and One Nights.

More About This Book


This poem celebrates one of the great heroic legends of history. Horatius saves Rome from the Etruscan invaders in 642 BC. Scottish poet Macaulay published this in 1842.

Illustration: Horatio at the Bridge from the first edition.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Retrieved Reformation - 1

by O'Henry


A guard came to the prison shoe-shop, where Jimmy Valentine was assiduously stitching uppers, and escorted him to the front office. There the warden handed Jimmy his pardon, which had been signed that morning by the governor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had served nearly ten months of a four year sentence. He expected to stay only about three months, at the longest. When a man with as many friends on the outside as Jimmy Valentine had is received in the "stir" it is hardly worth while to cut his hair.

"Now, Valentine," said the warden, "you'll go out in the morning. Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You're not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight."

"Me?" said Jimmy, in surprise. "Why, I never cracked a safe in my life."




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

More About This Story


My favorite short story writer. His word play and his subject matter are the two best parts of his writing. This is one of his most admired stories.

Photo: Author's home in Austin, TX. Now the O'Henry Museum. (CC) Larry D. Moore.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Evans Gambit

Get ready to play in a chess tournament this weekend.

Here's a little video to help you get your engine started. (-or to just learn a little more about the game.)



" - a gift of the gods to a languishing chess world."

An historical quibble. The video says it was first used in a tournament in 1824. There was no tournament in 1824; the first one was in 1853.

This was a sound opening plan then and now. It is like describing an investment opportunity as risky but with strong prospects of success. White invests a pawn to get rapid mobilization of his forces. But where do they go? And to what purpose?

White strikes quickly and decisively at the 4 squares in the center. Can Black castle his King into safety in time? Can he strike back against White's center? No one knows.

Chess events in your area . . . and visit jrobi who created these wonderful videos.

Wizard of Oz - Introduction - 1

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.

Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.

Having this thought in mind, the story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from A Retreived Reformation by O' Henry.

The trailer of Judy Garland's breakout movie of 1939; why wasn't the rest of Baum's Oz books made into movies?

Illustrated: cover of the book's first edition in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 1

by Mark Twain


For months the great pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land was chatted about in the newspapers everywhere in America and discussed at countless firesides. It was a novelty in the way of excursions--its like had not been thought of before, and it compelled that interest which attractive novelties always command. It was to be a picnic on a gigantic scale. The participants in it, instead of freighting an ungainly steam ferry--boat with youth and beauty and pies and doughnuts, and paddling up some obscure creek to disembark upon a grassy lawn and wear themselves out with a long summer day's laborious frolicking under the impression that it was fun, were to sail away in a great steamship with flags flying and cannon pealing, and take a royal holiday beyond the broad ocean in many a strange clime and in many a land renowned in history! They were to sail for months over the breezy Atlantic and the sunny Mediterranean; they were to scamper about the decks by day, filling the ship with shouts and laughter--or read novels and poetry in the shade of the smokestacks, or watch for the jelly-fish and the nautilus over the side, and the shark, the whale, and other strange monsters of the deep; and at night they were to dance in the open air, on the upper deck, in the midst of a ballroom that stretched from horizon to horizon, and was domed by the bending heavens and lighted by no meaner lamps than the stars and the magnificent moon--dance, and promenade, and smoke, and sing, and make love, and search the skies for constellations that never associate with the "Big Dipper" they were so tired of; and they were to see the ships of twenty navies--the customs and costumes of twenty curious peoples—the great cities of half a world--they were to hob-nob with nobility and hold friendly converse with kings and princes, grand moguls, and the anointed lords of mighty empires!




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book


This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: "Popular Talk of the Excursion--Programme of the Trip--Duly Ticketed for the Excursion--Defection of the Celebrities

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kim - First Chapter - 1

by Rudyard Kipling




The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.




O ye who tread the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to judgment Day,
Be gentle when 'the heathen' pray
To Buddha at Kamakura!

- Buddha at Kamakura.


He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher--the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum. Who hold Zam-Zammah, that 'fire-breathing dragon', hold the Punjab, for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot.

There was some justification for Kim--he had kicked Lala Dinanath's boy off the trunnions--since the English held the Punjab and Kim was English. Though he was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother-tongue in a clipped uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white--a poor white of the very poorest.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book


Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Illiad - First Book - 1

by Homer


Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that
brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did
it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a
prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove
fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men,
and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.

And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was
the son of Jove and Leto; for he was angry with the king and sent
a pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because the son
of Atreus had dishonoured Chryses his priest. Now Chryses had
come to the ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and had
brought with him a great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the
sceptre of Apollo wreathed with a suppliant's wreath, and he
besought the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus,
who were their chiefs.




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

More About This Book


From the earliest days of Ancient Greece, the author(s) of this poem were contemporaries of the writers of the Bible's Old Testament.

Summary of First Book: The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.

Painting: The Wrath of Achilles by Michael Drolling, 1819.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of This Series

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Literature Daily

Today I began a new blog. This will provide one bite-sized piece of great literature for busy people on the go. Got a bookshelf of great works that you always wanted to get to? This is your chance. For just a few minutes each day, you can sample the classics.

Thousand and One Nights - 1

The Merchant and the Genie


There was once a merchant, who had much substance and traded largely in foreign countries. One day, as he was riding through a certain country, whither he had gone to collect what was due to him, there overtook him the heat of the day and presently he espied a garden before him; so he made towards it for shelter and alighting, sat down under a walnut tree, by a spring of water. Then he put his hand to his saddle bags and took out a cake of bread and a date and ate them and threw away the date stone, when behold, there started up before him a gigantic Afrit, with a naked sword in his hand, who came up to him and said, 'Arise, that I may slay thee, even as thou hast slain my son.' 'How did I slay thy son?' asked the merchant, and the genie replied, 'When thou threwest away the date stone, it smote my son, who was passing at the time, on the breast, and he died forthright.' When the merchant heard this, he said, 'Verily we are God's and to Him we return! There is no power and no virtue but in God, the Most High, the Supreme! If I killed him, it was by misadventure, and I prithee pardon me.' But the genie said, 'There is no help for it but I must kill thee.'




Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book


From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

More information here:
Literature DailyMore of this Series

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pundits and Demagogues

Just finished the Coulter Health Care Series today (organized links and did some light editing) and this caused me to think about the ever-present labels that are throw at these people. She made a lot of good points. By "these people", I mean people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck.

What gets me is how many good points these people make and how these points are ignored by the more established pundits.

I watch Glen Beck occasionally and listen to Rush, also occasionally. Sometimes they seem to be wrong and sometimes they seem to be right. This is the same as when I listen and read commentary by more establishment types, New York Times and Washington Post editorials, for example. I must conclude that Coulter, Beck, Rush, et al are pilloried not for the things they get wrong but because they are so very effective at getting things right.

I wish their major points received more establishment attention. But then I learned early on that one "gotcha" erases many "attaboys".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kathy's Facebook Picture

I took this picture yesterday at Kathy's Gym. She's using it for her Facebook page.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2 Weeks Off

I got 2 weeks to work on my own stuff. I hope to get this blog caught up and to begin 2 new ones on literature and history. More on that shortly. I think they will be exciting for those people on the go who just want to spend a few minutes a day reading great books

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Watching Mr. Moto



I watched this movie tonight. Now you can, too.*

Mr. Moto was a fictional Japanese detective. He traveled the world in the 1930's and 40's. One of the sad things about Hollywood during this time, was that they didn't cast minorities in leading roles. So Peter Lorre (a German emigre) got the part. One has to forgive everyone, though because he's just so good at it.

Mr. Moto is always polite to everyone, even when he's beating they up. The fight scenes are decades before Bruce Lee showed audiences how Oriental fighting could be brought to the screen, so the fights seem lame.

The above movie is from the series and is set in Egypt.
-----------
* If Google's embed is sluggish, try this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Best Stuff

Here are some of my entries I would like to showcase.


2/6/09
The Great Ages of History
How do I keep all the periods of history clearly in my head? Here's my classification from the Big Bang to the present.
12/17/08
Earliest Movies
This is an essay about Edison's first movies from the 1890's with YouTube examples.
1/1/09
Chess Blog Carnival
Bloggers submitted their material here to be showcased. I was very proud to receive their trust and support.
Ongoing
Accounting AdviceThis is substantially completed. While not part of this blog, this site gives my views about many accounting and financial issues.
Ongoing
Churchill
Stories

A book I'm writing about the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it.


Here is a complete list of all my entries. (Okay, it needs to be updated!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Omarosa's Ultimate Merger

Probably the worst idea since the TV show "Married by America" is today's announcement of Donald Trump's newest. This is a dating show featuring the bitch voted "Top TV Reality Villian" by TV Guide.

It could last more than one season. After all, what man, after winning such a contest, would stay with such a person?

More information.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Realm of Empires

For the last month, I've been playing this game. It is one of those addictive, strategy games that can just eat up into all your time!

As you can see from the picture, it has a medieval setting. You start with one village and gradually acquire more villages. It has just a few elements. For example, resource gathering is limited to just 1 item. Fighting units come in 2 varieties: infantry (good for defense) and cavalry (good for offense). There are 2 varieties of each: light, cheap inf and cav; and the expensive, more powerful kind. Fortifications have 2 varieties, too: walls and towers. These are opposed by 2 kinds of siege weapons: rams for walls, and catapults for towers.

The overall product is elegant. Some folks get the idea that the more complicated the game, the better it is. Game design is like story telling in this one respect: it ought to have just enough elements to make the story work. Subplots and extra characters that don't advance the story end up detracting from it. The same goes for game elements. More units, more buildings, and more resources to gather should add focus to the strategic problems of the game. If they just make it more complicated, then they detract from it.

The problem for me is that this game has soaked up all my time! I've had to take a vacation away from it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saw Aladdin

Kathy and I saw a play last night. This was a children's play. I was surprised at how exhuberant the performances were. One has come to expect school productions to show kids who look cute and shy. These kids, however, were not - shy, that is.

One big problem was the genie. (I think that this was more the adult director's fault than the child actor.) The genie ought to not be held too closely to the script in this play. The genie's delivered all the right lines but since the performance was scripted, it was overly restrained - for this part in this play. A related problem was the flying carpet. It was mounted on wheels and was too heavy for the children to push. The result was that they managed to get Aladdin out of that cave but without the exhuberance that one wished for.

I also got the impression that some of the extras had more talent than the leads, a common problem with children productions.

With all these caveats taken into account, this was a great production. I was surprised at how good it was.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

USCF Cancels Girls Championship

The USCF announced today that they have, in effect, ended the national girls champtionship. This event had been founded and organized by Susan Polgar. At their Executive Board Meeting, they chose to not renew the contract with Polgar. They have not announced a replacement event or the intent to put one out for bid.

Susan Polgar is allowed to hold a girls championship on her own, and the players will have their games rated by the USCF, but the event will no longer be recognized by the USCF as a national event.

-------------

In a related story, this brings to a climax a long controversy between myself and various figures within the USCF regarding how USCF politics ought to be reported to the outside world. I first broke this story last month when I stated that the USCF "may" not renew the Polgar contract. People took issue with this statement, saying that without any official announcement, such speculation was unwarranted. My position was (and is) that chess politics ought to be reported like regular politics: all factors ought to be taken into account when deciding on the merits of the story, not just whether or not officials have made a statement.

In any case, my story turned out to be true.

-------------

And in yet another story related to this, a plethora of challenges were raised to my after-the-fact questioning of the USCF Board's official actions. USCF folks didn't want this story to come out before the event and they opposed the story coming out after the event, too.

Footnote: The announcement.

The contract between USCF and Susan Polgar to recognize the Polgar Invitational as a national event expired with the 2009 tournament. This has been a fine event, has an outstanding sponsor in Texas Tech, and we hope that it will continue. Even though it is no longer a national, Susan Polgar has the right to organize it, as well as other tournaments, as USCF-rated events.

Bill Goichberg

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ann Coulter's Health Care Series

This is a summary of Ann Coulter's series on Health Care. It lists the Administration's main talking points on this issue and her rebuttals thereto. I liked this serics because of the pointed and sharp nature of the responses as well as the summary of the supporters' reasons.

Some of her talking points were redundant and some were covered in multiple installments. I edited these points so that we can have a good summary of the health care debate.


TALKING POINTSINSTALLMENTDATE
The New National Health Care Plan will:

1. Punish the insurance companies.
2. Increase competition and keep insurance companies honest.
3. Stop insurance companies denying legitimate claims.
4. Give Americans "basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable."
5. Be the only way to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Part 18/19/2009
6. Have no rationing.
7. Reduce costs.
8. Not cover abortions
Part 2
Part 4
(abortions)
8/28/2009
10/01/09
9. Be like Medicare.
10. Not cover illegal aliens.
11. Not have the "Public Option".
Part 3
Part 4
(immigrants)
9/15/2009
10/01/09
Other Topics:
12. Only a government run plan can provide "coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job."
13. The "public option" trigger is something other than a national takeover of health care.
Part 410/01/2009
14. Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because President Clinton failed to pass national health care.
15. America's relatively low life expectancy compared to countries with socialist health care proves welfare-state health care is better.
Part 510/8/2009
17. America's low ranking on international comparisons of infant mortality proves other countries' socialist health care systems are better than ours.Part 610/15/2009
18. America's lower life expectancy compared to countries with socialist health care proves that their medical systems are superior.Part 710/22/2009