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.

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.
Earliest Movies
This is an essay about Edison's first movies from the 1890's with YouTube examples.
Chess Blog Carnival
Bloggers submitted their material here to be showcased. I was very proud to receive their trust and support.
Accounting AdviceThis is substantially completed. While not part of this blog, this site gives my views about many accounting and financial issues.

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