Sunday, January 31, 2010

War Metal

I'm playing a Facebook game called "War Metal". This is looking pretty good. Most Facebook roleplaying games are knock-offs on the Mafia Wars formula. Same gameplay, only different settings.

This one adds layers of complexity and they make for better games. For example, the goal here is to not level up but to get the most powerful army. This means that you may not want to level up but to gather battle points and also tokens to unlock more powerful units.

This game has a lot of promise.

Demostehenes Vs. Phocion

Time: c. 330 B.C.
Place: Athens, Greece
Picture: Accropolis



Demosthenes:

Someday you will drive the Athenians out of their minds and they will kill you.


Phocion:
And if they are ever in their right minds, they will kill you.


These were great orators and political opponents during the rise of Macedon to power in Greece.

More information: Demostehenes, Phocion, Ancient Athens.

Thousand and One Nights - 10

The Merchant and the Genie


Quoth Shehrzad, "This is nothing to what I will tell thee to-morrow night, if the King let me live." And the King said to himself, "By Allah, I will not kill her, till I hear the rest of the story!" So they lay together till morning, when the King went out to his hall of audience and the Vizier came in to him, with the winding-sheet under his arm. Then the King ordered and appointed and deposed, without telling the Vizier aught of what had happened, much to the former's surprise, until the end of the day, when the Divan broke up and he retired to his apartments.




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, January 30, 2010

Barone 1/30/10

Democrats Heading for Epic Disaster


My take on Michael Barone's latest. His column was published in The Washington Examiner.

Summary: Polling shows Republicans doing better than ever mostly due to opposition to the Democrats.

Quote:
Nonetheless, what we have here are the makings of an epic party disaster. Whether it comes to pass is still uncertain. But it certainly could.

My Views: Let's assume that all of the Democrat's policies are good ones for the moment. I think that Obama's behavior over the last month will become the classic case of someone stepping on their own brand. Obama and his supporters in party, country, and in the media have spent much effort in developing the image of a careful, non-partisan, and thoughtful political leader. His biggest misstep recently was the Boston speech in the special Senate election where he tried to cast it as between ordinary persons and the "big Wall Street bankers".

His best (and most quoted) line in the speech was also his worst. "Anybody can buy a pick-up truck but you've got to look under the hood." That last clause was pretty good but it was belied by the first. How many poor voters heard that and thought, "I wish I could buy a pick-up."

The problem with the speech was not that it wasn't so very bad but that it was so very ordinary. Virtually any Democrat politician anywhere in the country could have made that speech. They've been making variations of that speech for years. Same-o, same-o.

Then there's the visual image. Why's he appearing around the country (like in Ohio last week) without the tie? A small thing, true. But the visual, together with the demogogic speeches, and the jarring policies create the wrong impression. To citizens who need reassurance that they've got competant, thoughtful leadership (the old Obama brand would have given them that), they're getting the image of a left-wing radical.

So, what can Obama do (assuming that he does not want to change his policies.)

First, he can put that tie back on and look Presidential. He's the President of the USA, for crying out loud. There is not more advantageous spot to be in, no matter how unpopular a pol may be. Stop diminishing that advantage and use it!

Second, explain what he's trying to accomplish and how his policies are going to accomplish those goals. En-passent, he can say that's why he needs those Democrat votes in the Congress.

Third, stop demogoging. This stuff only hurts the Obama brand. - And if you're going to criticize Supreme Court over-reach, go ahead. But not just when they make Conservative decisions. And be thoughtful in your criticism. His State of the Union speech wasn't thoughtful at all.

Fourth, he's just got to answer the public's concerns about his policies. Meaningfully answer, not clever evasions.

This last point is probably the one that spoils everything I wrote above. For if he cannot meaningfully address the concerns, then maybe he should just face the fact that his policies are just all wrong. Go back to demogoging becasue that's all he has left.



Once, while flipping through tv channels, I stopped at C-Span when I heard someone say something like, "The most discriminated-against group in America today are Right-Wing Christians. The Press doesn't understand them and what little they do understand of them, they don't like." The moderator of the panel discussion quickly cut him off and said something about getting back to the topic of discussion which was discrimination in the newsroom. Another panelist began speaking, saying the things you would expect and I turned the channel. But before doing that, I marked down Michael Barone as a man I would watch in the future.

He has written a remarkable series of books, the most widely known and used is in the banner.

Green Sahara

Time: 7,000 – 5,000 B.C.
Place: Sahara, North Africa
Top Picture: Landsat satellite picture of the Sahara Desert
Bottom Picture: Rock layer underneath, revealing black channels cut by the meandering of an ancient river. Taken by Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour on April 16, 1994.



It is rainy, kind of – 3 times the amount of today. The Sahara Desert is no more. Since the rains came, it is a savannah. Fish swim in the rivers. In the thousands of miles of grasslands, Buffalo, Elephants, and other large animals graze. And humans follow and they thrive.

The total world population is around 5 million; a significant part of it lives here. Small towns begin. Small farms lay beyond. With pottery, people can dine on soup, fish, and porridge. Cows lo on the farms; dogs wander the streets of the towns. If we could time-machine the Plains Indians of the American Mid-West from the days of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse to these times and this region, they would fit right in.

To the east, the lower Nile River rages from flood waters from the mountains far to the south. The settlements struggle against the floods.

Times change; climate changes. The rains slow down; the rivers dry up; the grass disappears; the desert returns. To the east, the Nile’s floods moderate. People begin to leave. In Egypt, one of the world’s first civilizations begins.

The desert sands blow over a way of life.

More information: National Geographic, Wikipedia.

Lays of Ancient Rome - 9

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


XVII

To eastward and to westward
        Have spread the Tuscan bands;
Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote
        In Crustumerium stands.
Verbenna down to Ostia
        Hath wasted all the plain;
Astur hath stormed Janiculum,
        And the stout guards are slain.

XVIII

I wis, in all the Senate,
        There was no heart so bold,
But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
        When that ill news was told.
Forthwith up rose the Consul,
        Up rose the Fathers all;
In haste they girded up their gowns,
        And hied them to the wall.




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, January 29, 2010

Scandinavian Defense

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 played this as a child. It looks bad; the Black Queen ends up on a5 when her best square may be the one she started on, d8. Still, it opens lines up a bit. I think you need to see the Larsen game at the end of the video and play over other master games in order to get this.

I must admit, that the basic logic of this remains a mystery to me.

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

The Great White Fleet (Battleships 2)

Time: December 16, 1907
Place: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Picture: 4 Connecticutt Class Battleships, USS Kansas in lead, clear port on the first day of their cruise around the world.



After the Spanish-American War the battleship building program began delivering in earnest. 1900 saw 3 ships commissioned: the first of the Illinois Class and two Kearsarge Class. This increased the total battleships in service from 5 to 8.

In 1901, 2 ships completed the Illinois Class. Total battleships: 10.

After that, there was a slow period. From 1902 to 1905 one ship was commissioned per year, including the USS Maryland in 1905. The Maryland was so weak that it was really a heavy cruiser. Total battleships 13.

In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt's naval building program hit big. 6 ships were commissioned that year: 2 of the Connecticutt Class and 4 of the Virginia Class. Total battleships: 19.

It is now 1907. 3 Connecticutts and 1 Virginia are commissioned. Total battleships: 24. 16 battleships comprised the Great White Fleet that Roosevelt dispatched on a voyage around the world.

Then the British launched the HMS Dreadnought which rendered all of these ships obsolete.

More information: US Battleship Classes, Great White Fleet, HMS Dreadnought.

A Retrieved Reformation - 9

by O'Henry


Jimmy went to the Planters' Hotel, registered as Ralph D. Spencer, and engaged a room. He leaned on the desk and declared his platform to the clerk. He said he had come to Elmore to look for a location to go into business. How was the shoe business, now, in the town? He had thought of the shoe business. Was there an opening?

The clerk was impressed by the clothes and manner of Jimmy. He, himself, was something of a pattern of fashion to the thinly gilded youth of Elmore, but he now perceived his shortcomings. While trying to figure out Jimmy's manner of tying his four-in-hand he cordially gave information.




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, January 28, 2010

Board Games

A Monopoly term came up today. This reminded me that I don't see any "hits" in the stores anymore. The same games stock the shelves as when I was a boy. Clue, Life, and of course, Monopoly.

Why is this? Computer games are nice but for social purposes, there's nothing to beat gathering around a good old fashioned board game.

Diplomacy was a game that encouraged social inter-action. Its objective was to conquer Europe. People who played it as a wargame were unlikely to succeed. One had to acquire allies and that required talking. -Good old days!

Dinosaur True Colors Revealed

Time: 122 million years ago
Place: NE China
Picture: This dinosaur's size.

This is Sinosauropteryx. This is because scientists have analyzed a million year old feather and found the organic materials that tell them the color of it. For the first time, a scientifically accurate color picture of a dinosaur can be produced.

I got this story from the National Geographic Magazine. Since the pictures are copyrighted, you'll have to click here to see it. The public domain pictures of this fascinating creature are now obsolete.



This story reminds me of an interesting facet of the Age of the Dinosaurs: the birds lived then and survived. Indeed, Sinosauropteryx was a feathered dinosaur, himself!

More information: Time Line, Sinosauropteryx.

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 9

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


Hour after hour passed away, and slowly Dorothy got over her fright; but she felt quite lonely, and the wind shrieked so loudly all about her that she nearly became deaf. At first she had wondered if she would be dashed to pieces when the house fell again; but as the hours passed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolved to wait calmly and see what the future would bring. At last she crawled over the swaying floor to her bed, and lay down upon it; and Toto followed and lay down beside her.

In spite of the swaying of the house and the wailing of the wind, Dorothy soon closed her eyes and fell fast asleep.




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, January 27, 2010

W-2's Are Due

Been working on payroll. This is the month for all good CPA's to come to the aid of their country - and their clients by getting that payroll done. Also been worrying about 1099's, too.

Just as I get that done, the time for doing 1040's has come. Whew!

Haiti's Revolution - 2

Time: 1791 - 1803
Place: Haiti



[describes disorders and shortages in France] ... not so much as Sugar can be had; for good reasons ... With factions, suspicions, want of bread and sugar, it is verily what they call déchiré, torn asunder this poor country: France and all that is French. For, over seas too come bad news. In black Saint-Domingo, before that variegated Glitter in the Champs Elysées was lit for an Accepted Constitution, there had risen, and was burning contemporary with it, quite another variegated Glitter and nocturnal Fulgor, had we known it: of molasses and ardent-spirits; of sugar-boileries, plantations, furniture, cattle and men: skyhigh; the Plain of Cap Français one huge whirl of smoke and flame! What a change here, in these two years; since that first 'Box of Tricolor Cockades' got through the Custom-house, and atrabiliar Creoles too rejoiced that there was a levelling of Bastilles! Levelling is comfortable, as we often say: levelling, yet only down to oneself. Your pale-white Creoles, have their grievances: — and your yellow Quarteroons? And your dark-yellow Mulattoes? And your Slaves soot-black? Quarteroon Ogé, Friend of our Parisian Brissotin Friends of the Blacks, felt, for his share too, that Insurrection was the most sacred of duties. So the tricolor Cockades had fluttered and swashed only some three months on the Creole hat, when Ogé's signal-conflagrations went aloft; with the voice of rage and terror. Repressed, doomed to die, he took black powder or seedgrains in the hollow of his hand, this Ogé; sprinkled a film of white ones on the top, and said to his Judges, "Behold they are white;" — then shook his hand, and said "Where are the Whites, Ou sont les Blancs?" ... Before the fire was an insurrection by the oppressed mixed-race minority. So now, in the Autumn of 1791, looking from the sky-windows of Cap Français, thick clouds of smoke girdle our horizon, smoke in the day, in the night fire; preceded by fugitive shrieking white women, by Terror and Rumour. ..."

- Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, A History. Chapter 2.5.IV "No Sugar"

Pictured: Battle at San Domingo.

More information: Haitian Revolution, Bob Corbett's Essay.

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 9

by Mark Twain


From Alexandria the route will be taken homeward, calling at
Malta, Cagliari (in Sardinia), and Palma (in Majorca), all
magnificent harbors, with charming scenery, and abounding in fruits.

A day or two will be spent at each place, and leaving Parma in the
evening, Valencia in Spain will be reached the next morning. A few
days will be spent in this, the finest city of Spain.

From Valencia, the homeward course will be continued, skirting
along the coast of Spain. Alicant, Carthagena, Palos, and Malaga
will be passed but a mile or two distant, and Gibraltar reached in
about twenty-four hours.




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, January 26, 2010

World Wide Web - World

This means we need to start subtracting the word "world" from the term "world wide web". China and other totalitarian countries countries are increasingly restricting internet use. We're moving from a true world wide web to a nationalized web.

That is, until new software hacks can be invented to circumvent government controls.

More information: Investors Business Daily.

Haiti's Revolution - I

Time: 1960
Place: Haiti

This is the aftermath of the revolution, 1.5 centuries later. Haiti is a failed nation but why did it fail?



As a CPA in Atlanta, I had occasion to work on an American enterprise in Haiti. The American company started a rice processing plant in Haiti. The idea was to bring in rice from elsewhere, have Haitian workers at the plant process it into various foods for sale. The products could be used to earn foreign exchange for Haiti and jobs for Haitian workers, not to mention food for both Haitians and sales in the US and elsewhere.

It did not work for 2 principle reasons: 1) government corruption made the whole project unfeasable and 2) the workers hired did not work. My own dealings with the office staff via phone and e-mail was frustrating in the extreme. The US company closed the plant down.


More information: Haitian Revolution, Bob Corbett's Essay.

Kim - First Chapter - 9

by Rudyard Kipling




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




He was nearly six feet high, dressed in fold upon fold of dingy stuff like horse-blanketing, and not one fold of it could Kim refer to any known trade or profession. At his belt hung a long open-work iron pencase and a wooden rosary such as holy men wear. On his head was a gigantic sort of tam-o'-shanter. His face was yellow and wrinkled, like that of Fook Shing, the Chinese bootmaker in the bazar. His eyes turned up at the corners and looked like little slits of onyx.

'Who is that?' said Kim to his companions.

'Perhaps it is a man,' said Abdullah, finger in mouth, staring.

'Without doubt,' returned Kim; 'but he is no man of India that I have ever seen.'

'A priest, perhaps,' said Chota Lal, spying the rosary. 'See! He goes into the Wonder House!'




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, January 25, 2010

Is Debt Cancellation Income?

Since there's so much confusion at the USCF, Wick, and others, I'll make one last post on this issue.

Was their legal liabilities reduced by $39,000 or not? About that crack about "HONESTLY portrayed that way" (see below) have you checked with the IRS regarding rules on taxable income? A phone call may help you guys clarify the matter of debt cancellation being income.

------

Confusion Alert: Susan owes money to the lawyers; her lawyers did not owe money to Susan. It was her debt (not the lawyers') that was partially cancelled by the insurance payment. This seems to the point which is leading the USCF, Wick, and others astray.

U.S. Navy's Earliest Battleships - I

Time: January, 1898.
Place: Havana, Cuba



After the Civil War, the U.S. Navy had deteriorated. For 20 years, its strength was negligible. The few remaining Civil War era ironclads did not have the range to project power beyond the coast. The Virginius Affair in 1873, showed that the navy couldn’t even defend New York Harbor!

In 1883, Congress authorized 3 modern warships. These were small Cruisers.

Name of ShipYear Commissioned
Atlanta1886
Boston1887
Chicago1889


The U.S. Navy remained essentially helpless. Not until 1895 did the first “Battleships” join the fleet. These were the Texas and the Maine. These very odd ships had their main turrets on the sides of the ships. Neither ship could turret their all their main guns around to fire a broadside. They were first designated as Cruisers and only later “Second Class Battleships”. At least they were larger than the Cruisers.

That year saw the first true Battleship, the Indiana. This was also procured as a class, thus saving the cost of designing and building from the drawing boards on subsequent vessels. The Massachusetts and the Oregon followed in 1896. These ships carried four 13 inch guns and two turrets (two guns per turret, one turret in front and one in back). The still primitive design lacked counter-weights, so that when the guns were swung to one side or the other, the ship listed on that side. The ships also carried smaller guns which were mounted on the side like the sailing Ships of the Line of old. The bow was reinforced to use as a battering ram. Also, the ships were under-powered with the idea that they would be used for coast defense, only.

To remedy some of these defects, the Iowa was commissioned in 1897. The engines were improved, the hull size was increased, armor improved, and four turrets added with two 8 inch guns per turret. With the additions to the secondary armament, the size of the four primary guns was reduced an inch to twelve.

So, by 1898, the start of the year the Spanish-American War began, the U.S. Navy had two weak Battleships (Texas and Maine), three slow short-range Battleships (Indiana, Massachusetts, and Oregon) and one decent Battleship (Iowa). The Maine blew up and sunk in Havana Harbor, precipitating the war. Of the remaining five, all but the Massachusetts fought in the main Atlantic battle, the Battle of Santiago later that year. The Massachusetts was patrolling the area but missed the battle.

Picture: USS Maine steams into Havana Harbor, January, 1898. It will blow up 3 weeks later, instigating the Spanish-American War.

More information: US Naval History, List of Battleships.

The Illiad - First Book - 9

by Homer


Achilles scowled at him and answered, "You are steeped in
insolence and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the
Achaeans do your bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I
came not warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have
no quarrel with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my
horses, nor cut down my harvests on the rich plains of Phthia;
for between me and them there is a great space, both mountain and
sounding sea. We have followed you, Sir Insolence! for your
pleasure, not ours--to gain satisfaction from the Trojans for
your shameless self and for Menelaus. You forget this, and
threaten to rob me of the prize for which I have toiled, and
which the sons of the Achaeans have given me. Never when the
Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive so good a
prize as you do, though it is my hands that do the better part of
the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the
largest, and I, forsooth, must go back to my ships, take what I
can get and be thankful, when my labour of fighting is done. Now,
therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better for
me to return home with my ships, for I will not stay here
dishonoured to gather gold and substance 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, January 24, 2010

Jack on the Net 1/24/10

Things I've done on other sites/blogs on the internet in the last few days.

USCF's Forums

Re: Let Hal Bogner Back to the USCF’s Forum
Post 178596

Let's make it unanimous. I recall that about 2 years ago Hal posted something from a meeting 4 of us had had. It was between him, me, Bill Hall and Mike Mulford. The Moderators pulled the post citing some arcane rule requiring substantive support for facts reported. So Hal went to Mike Mulford who said he couldn't remember. So, in desperation Hal came to me. Naturally, I supported him.

Re: The Polgar Settlement
Post 178394
Money talks. So, amid all the spin, and all the moderator sanctions levied, all the condescending attacks, it turns out that the USCF's lawsuit wasn't so very strong after all, nor was Polgar's case so very weak. Amid all the spinning, the chess world is expected to believe that after 2 years and on the very brink of victory, the USCF just decided to settle upon Polgar a monetary payment instead of getting a verdict.

Words have been shown to be just that. Money, on the other hand, talks.

This overriding fact also shows the chess world and the historians of the future that Paul Truong was innocent in the central issue of the lawsuits, the fake FSS Affair. At the end of the day, it was the USCF that forked over the dough, not Polgar and not Truong.

The point to me was from the beginning that we needed to get the truth. No matter the terms of the settlement, no matter what else. For that, I was mocked and pilloried. Now, the USCF may have bought itself a settlement where the truth can be kept hidden. Sadly, this leaves the only piece of hard news we have: follow the money.

I still want the truth to come out.

Re: Gary Walters, Candidate for USCF Executive Board
Post 178416

I just read the settlement statement on the home page. And then I read this. No thinking person caring an iota about objectivity could have written the above.


The press release came out after my statement. Read the posts on this thread prior to my own.

As for thinking persons, iotas, and objectivity, I remind the author about people in glass houses and what they should not do

Re: Response to Wick Deer
Post 178423

As for the Mottershead Report, I am at a loss how any expert could verify it if he was not allowed to check the data upon which the report rests. None of the 3 experts you cited were independent experts approved by Susan or Paul. I am well aware of the hostility surrounding this case and how that colors people's judgements. [snip]

This is a developing story. As more facts come out, our statements can come closer to the truth. The central fact here is that money was paid for Susan's attorneys from USCF's insurance company. No insurance company whose premiums were paid by Susan Polgar paid anything to the USCF's team. Susan didn't pay anything. The USCF's insurance company paid to Susan's lawyer.

As for USCF relationship issues, I gather that Susan and Paul are so disgusted with the USCF right now, they were glad to stipulate because they didn't want to do anything to do with the USCF ever again.

As for the clause where they cannot ever again accept USCF office, this means people getting past their present hostility to consider the ramifications this has to USCF democracy. It was the USCF members who were targeted by the "accept" phrase. They are not allowed to ever cast a meaningful vote for them.

Re: The Polgar Settlement
Post 178447

Mike Murray’s Question: “How do you spell "non sequitur" again ?”

My Response: M-O-N-E-Y.

An Arab Looks at US Politics

Time: June 2, 1807
Place: New York City

Letter
from Mustapha Rub-A-Dub Keli Khan,
captain of a ketch,
To Asem Haccem,
principle slave-driver to his Highness the Bashaw of Tripoli

Oh, Asem! I almost shrink at the recollection of the scenes of confusion, of licentious disorganization, which I have witnessed during the last three days. I have beheld this whole city, nay this whole state, given up to the tongue and the pen, to the puffers, the bawlers, the babblers and the slang-whangers. I have beheld the community convulsed with a civil war, (or civil talk) individuals verbally massacred, families annihilated by whole sheets full, and slang-whangers coolly bathing their pens in ink, and rioting in the slaughter of their thousands. I have seen, in short, that awful despot, the people,in the moment of unlimited power, wielding newspapers in one hand, and with the other scattering mud and filth about, like some desperate lunatic relieved from the restraints of his strait waistcoat.
I have seen beggers on horseback, ragamuffins riding in coaches, and swing seated in places of honor – I have seen liberty, I have seen equality, I have seen fraternity! – I have seen that great political puppet show – AN ELECTION.

----------
The above was a satire written by Washington Irving in Salmungdi Magazine.

Portrait of Irving, 1809.

More information: Washington Irving, Salmagundi Magazine, Other Writings.

Thousand and One Nights - 9

The Merchant and the Genie


Quoth I, "Look at the condition of the cow I slaughtered by thine order; we were deceived in her, and now I will not be persuaded by thee to slay this calf this time." "By the great God, the Compassionate, the Merciful," answered she, "thou must without fail sacrifice this calf on this holy day! Else thou art no longer my husband nor am I thy wife." When I heard this harsh speech from her, I went up to the calf, knowing not what she aimed at, and took the knife in my hand.'" Here Shehrzad perceived the day and was silent; and her sister said to her, "What a charming and delightful story!"




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, January 23, 2010

Polgar Wins Lawsuit

Indications from the USCF's Forums that the settlement involved cash payments to Susan Polgar. Amid all of the spin that has come from that place, money talks loudest.

If this proves to be true, then this fact addresses the central question of Paul Truong's innocence of the FSS Affair.

We'll keep track of this story and report developments.

----------

New development: USCF issues Press Release.

My summary:
1) Polgar/Truong to stay out of USCF.
2) USCF's insurance company pays $131,000 to USCF and $39,000 to Polgar's lawyers.
3) They release each other from all claims.
4) Does not cover Gregory Alexander or Sam Sloan.

Poland Wants In

Time: September 29, 1938
Place: Warsaw, Poland



In the aftermath of the Munich Agreement, Poland sends a note to Czechoslovakia, demanding they cede them the land of Teschen. The Western Powers (France and Great Britain) had agreed to Hitler's demands, and had given him the Sudetenland. Having lost the Sudetenland and having been abandoned by the West, the Czechs had no choice but to give in to Poland.

The enemy did not expect my great determination. Our enemies are little worms, I saw them at Munich.

- Adolf Hitler

...the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine (waves paper to the crowd - receiving loud cheers and "Hear Hears"). . .
My good friends, for the second time in our history a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

- Neville Chamberlain

We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat...you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude...we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road...we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting". And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

- Winston Churchill

Within a year, Poland would face Hitler's Germany.

Pictured: Leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy about to sign the Munich Agreement. (CC) Deutsches Bundesarchiv‎.

More Information: Munich Agreement, Chronology of the Crisis.

Lays of Ancient Rome - 8

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


XV

And droves of mules and asses
        Laden with skins of wine,
And endless flocks of goats and sheep,
        And endless herds of kine,
And endless trains of wagons
        That creaked beneath the weight
Of corn-sacks and of household goods,
        Choked every roaring gate.

XVI

Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
        Could the wan burghers spy
The line of blazing villages
        Red in the midnight sky.
The Fathers of the City,
        They sat all night and day,
For every hour some horseman come
        With tidings of dismay.




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, January 22, 2010

USCF Settles Lawsuit

The USCF settled the lawsuits between it and Susan Polgar and Paul Truong. It has not settled the suits it has with Gregory Alexander. Susan Polgar's lawsuit versus Sam Sloan is ongoing.

This is breaking news. More as it becomes available.

Danish 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.)



This is another exciting attacking idea for White. He opens with his King Pawn and if Black responds with his King Pawn, then White hits out with 2. d4 and then 3. c4. Black is hard pressed, as in all gambits, but if he hangs on to the endgame, then he gets the upper hand.

The queen trade in the Schlecter Defense surprised me when I first saw it. It is an instructive tactic even when I've seen it many times since.

Jrobi hangs Black's knight with ...Ng4. This blunder shows why ...d5 is the main line. Where else can Black move his knight from f6? ...Ne4 is better - way better but precision is still needed.

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

Babylon's Two Queens

184. Of this Babylon, besides many other rulers, of whom I shall make mention in the Assyrian history, and who added improvement to the walls and temples, there were also two who were women. Of these, the one who ruled first, named Semiramis, who lived five generations before the other, produced banks of earth in the plain which are a sight worth seeing; and before this the river used to flood like a sea over the whole plain.

185. The queen who lived after her time, named Nitocris, was wiser than she who had reigned before; and in the first place she left behind her monuments which I shall tell of; then secondly, seeing that the monarchy of the Medes was great and not apt to remain still, but that besides other cities even Nineveh had been captured by it, she made provision against it in so far as she was able. First, as regards the river Euphrates which flows through the midst of their city, whereas before this it flowed straight, she by digging channels above made it so winding that it actually comes three times in its course to one of the villages in Assyria; and the name of the village to which the Euphrates comes is Ardericca; and at this day those who travel from this Sea of ours to Babylon, in their voyage down the river Euphrates arrive three times at this same village and on three separate days.

- Herodotus, Book 1

More Information: Babylon, Herodotus's Book.

A Retrieved Reformation - 8

by O'Henry


Jimmy collared a boy that was loafing on the steps of the bank as if he were one of the stockholders, and began to ask him questions about the town, feeding him dimes at intervals. By and by the young lady came out, looking royally unconscious of the young man with the suit-case, and went her way.

"Isn' that young lady Polly Simpson?" asked Jimmy, with specious guile.

"Naw," said the boy. "She's Annabel Adams. Her pa owns this bank. Why'd you come to Elmore for? Is that a gold watch-chain? I'm going to get a bulldog. Got any more dimes?"




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, January 21, 2010

Our Anniversary



Kathy and I were married this day in 1978 at 2 p.m. at St. James Cathedral, Seattle. Kathy was late.

(Okay, she was in a side room with her folks making last minute adjustments to her gown and stuff - but I'm ommiting that part.)

Baghdad Railway Goes to Germans

Time: November 25, 1899
Place: Istanbul, Ottoman Empire

The Germans already had built the Turks a rail line from Istanbul east across Turkey to Ankora in the middle of the Aetolian Peninsula. But the Turks needed to cement their hold on their empire to the south: Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. The Germans wanted to bind the Turks closer to Germany with a Berlin to Baghdad Railway.

The French already connected Istanbul to Paris and London with their Orient Express. But their line ended at Istanbul. The Baghdad Railway would connect the major cities in Europe to the Middle East.

On this date, The Ottoman Emperor awarded the railway to the Germans.

The railroad did get built and despite everything it survives intact to this present day. Most of the train stations are the same ones originally built a century ago.

Photo: Baghdad Train, sometime between 1900 and 1910. From the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection in the Library of Congress.

More information: Berlin-Baghdad Railway, Trains of Turkey, The Orient Express.

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 8

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


Toto did not like it. He ran about the room, now here, now there, barking loudly; but Dorothy sat quite still on the floor and waited to see what would happen.

Once Toto got too near the open trap door, and fell in; and at first the little girl thought she had lost him. But soon she saw one of his ears sticking up through the hole, for the strong pressure of the air was keeping him up so that he could not fall. She crept to the hole, caught Toto by the ear, and dragged him into the room again, afterward closing the trap door so that no more accidents could happen.




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, January 20, 2010

Interesting Reads 1/20/10

News articles that I think were interesting, so I'm passing them along.

WHERE OBAMA WENT WRONG at RealClearPolitics.com discusses the 3 big strategic decisions that made the Democrats so unpopular. Quote:

To put it bluntly, the Obama White House has been politically inept in the last year. It has made serious miscalculations, and today it is paying a price.
----------


OBAMA'S EEOC NOMINEE: Society Should ‘Not Tolerate Private Beliefs’ That ‘Adversely Affect’ Homosexuals at CNSNews.Com says that the nominee wrote that government ought to persecute Christians and other religeous people for private beliefs that conflict with gay rights. Quote:
“Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people,” the Georgetown law professor argued.
----------


MASSACHUSSETTS STILL A TOSS-UP FiveThirtyEight.com is now outdated but I like this article as a good lesson in how to analyze polling. Quote:
It should be kept in mind that a lot of Brown's support is pretty new, which would ordinarily imply that it is pretty soft.
----------


DEMS' LOCK ON SENATE IS MIXED BLESSING FOR OBAMA by Michael Barone says that Obama would have been better off if he had been forced to work on a more bi-partisan basis by the lack of the 60 votes in the Senate. Quote:
The 60th seat was a temptation, and like Oscar Wilde, the Democrats were able to resist anything except temptation.
----------


HOW COAKLEY WILL STEAL THE ELECTION FROM BROWN in the Washington Examiner discusses how recent elections were manipulated by lost/found ballots and other counting manipulations in recent years. Quote:
How best to steal the election from Brown and the people of Massachusetts? Absentee ballots.

Innocents Abroad - First Chapter - 8

by Mark Twain


From Joppa, Jerusalem, the River Jordan, the Sea of Tiberias,
Nazareth, Bethany, Bethlehem, and other points of interest in the
Holy Land can be visited, and here those who may have preferred to
make the journey from Beirut through the country, passing through
Damascus, Galilee, Capernaum, Samaria, and by the River Jordan and
Sea of Tiberias, can rejoin the steamer.

Leaving Joppa, the next point of interest to visit will be
Alexandria, which will be reached in twenty-four hours. The ruins
of Caesar's Palace, Pompey's Pillar, Cleopatra's Needle, the
Catacombs, and ruins of ancient Alexandria will be found worth the
visit. The journey to Cairo, one hundred and thirty miles by rail,
can be made in a few hours, and from which can be visited the site
of ancient Memphis, Joseph's Granaries, and the Pyramids.




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, January 19, 2010

Blogging Versus Forums, Chat Rooms

Note: this was written for the Georgia Society of CPA's initial publication of their blog.

Why is it so hard to blog? Oh, I don’t direct this to the average person who has other things to do with his time. I mean the person who is already active in internet chat rooms, discussion forums, and mobile phone texting, and the like. Such a person is already used to communicating through his fingers on a keyboard. Why is it so very hard for him to blog?

(Yes, I mean her, too.)

Here’s an interesting example of this problem. For some years, I’ve been actively participating in the chess discussion sites on the internet. I like to play chess, you see. Over at the US Chess Federation’s(USCF) site, they maintain a discussion forum. I’m not as active there as I used to be but I’ve still racked up 1,666 posts so far. Much of them have been quite lengthy. In such a format, it is quite easy to just reach for a keyboard and start pounding away. Before I know it, I’ve knocked out several hundred words.

Yet, when it comes to blogging, there’s this block. Suddenly, I’m writing for the ages. I don’t know why this is different but it seems so. I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one with this attitude. Last year, two individuals who were frequent contributors to the USCF’s forum, ran for that organization’s Executive Board. One of them was an internet expert.

Now, let’s stop and think. How would you, dear reader, run for an elective office of a national membership organization? Phone calls? Mail? Since this is a chess federation, we’re talking about here, many of the members are bound to be pretty geeky. So, a blog emerges as a promising campaign communications vehicle.

Both of these candidates started their own blogs. But then an interesting thing happened. These two individuals who were so verbose in these forums, became quite reticent when it came to blogging. At the end, one of them withdrew and the other finished last out of a field of 12.

I am sure that if they had devoted as much energy to their blogs as they did to their forum activities, they would have done much better. After all, in a forum, you’re deathless prose tends to get lost in the crowd and forgotten, while in a blog – your own blog – it is highlighted.

I think I’ve stumbled onto the answer to my problem: blogging is harder than texting or posting on forums and etc., precisely because it is more serious. But let’s face it. When you look at the blogs out there, they’re not as serious as all that. I figure that just the fact that I wish to write to some degree of quality, puts me ahead of most of the rest who don’t care. Good thing, too. I need all the edge I can get.

Battle of the Marne

Time: September 5, 1914
Place: Marne River, France

The Germans attacked through Belgium and then down through France. The Kaiser said the boys would be home by Christmas. It was to be another war-winning, shattering offensive like just 40 years ago in 1870. And now, the Germans were on the outskirts of Paris.

Attrition and withdrawels to the Eastern Front had thinned the German spearhead. To solidify his front, the German commander ordered his army group to wheel south, in order to trap the French army defending the border with Germany.

The French commander saw a chance. As the Germans drove south, he could hit the Germans from the west.

The British commander is opposed. His army had been too mangled in the fighting and he wanted to retreat to the Channel ports. The French appealed to London. The reluctant British commander was ordered to cooperate. To make this work, the French needed every man they could get. The French Paris garrison had to climb aboard taxi cabs to make it into position.

Then the Germans got a copy of the French plan. The General wheeled his army to meet the French.

The French General tells his staff, "Gentlemen, we will fight on the Marne."

Pictured: German 17 mm. naval gun in action at the Marne. (CC)Deutsches Bundesarchiv‎.

More information: Summary, Chronology.

Kim - First Chapter - 8

by Rudyard Kipling




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




'Off! Off! Let me up!' cried Abdullah, climbing up Zam-Zammah's wheel.

'Thy father was a pastry-cook, Thy mother stole the ghi,' sang Kim. 'All Mussalmans fell off Zam-Zammah long ago!'

'Let me up!' shrilled little Chota Lal in his gilt-embroidered cap. His father was worth perhaps half a million sterling, but India is the only democratic land in the world.

'The Hindus fell off Zam-Zammah too. The Mussalmans pushed them off. Thy father was a pastry-cook--'

He stopped; for there shuffled round the corner, from the roaring Motee Bazar, such a man as Kim, who thought he knew all castes, had never seen.




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, January 18, 2010

But Enough of MLK, Vote for Me . . .

This is the Democrat's candidate for U.S. Senate from Massachussets speaking at the MLK Day event in Boston.



The Republican candidate was invited by a private attendee and was seated at Table 84 in the back. He was not allowed to speak; only the Democrat's candidate was.

Sad that this day is treated as a holiday for the left and for the Democrats instead as a national holiday. I'm sure this is why so many people in America don't honor it. The promoters of this holiday send the same message year after year: this isn't for MLK and certainly not for you or your values but only for us and ours.

I wish they would allow the rest of us in the tent. Step 1: allow the Republicans to speak. End the political predjudice against them and be more tolerant of non-left-wing ideas.

Martin Luther King Day



Born in January, 1929, Martin Luther King gave the US much needed Civil Rights leadership in the 1950's and early 1960's. It is sad to contemplate that a century after the Civil War, the attitudes of racial prejudice still hampered social progress of the United States. King confronted the wrongs of society while also doing it in a non-violent way.

While no leader is perfect, King's later record was marred by error. In his private life, the womanizing left a blot on his legacy. Here, as elsewhere, he ought to be treated equally with the other great men of history. Historians should not shrink from the "warts and all" approach to biography.

In his public policy positions, there were two areas of concern:

1) He opposed the Vietnam War because of disproportate use of Blacks as soldiers. One wonders if he would have opposed Lincoln's Civil War, too. In that war, too, Blacks enrolled in the army in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population. His position just did not make sense.

2) He advocated monetary compensation for slavery, proposing $50 billion over 10 years. He chose Playboy Magazine as the venue for making this proposal in 1965. Such a historic proposal ought to have been presented on a better platform than that. On the substance, however, no allowance was made for the payment in blood made by the US Army in the Civil War.

To sum up, this great man was like most other great men: his good qualities were larger than life; his bad qualities were, too.

The Illiad - First Book - 8

by Homer



And Achilles answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond
all mankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We
have no common store from which to take one. Those we took from
the cities have been awarded; we cannot disallow the awards that
have been made already. Give this girl, therefore, to the god,
and if ever Jove grants us to sack the city of Troy we will
requite you three and fourfold."

Then Agamemnon said, "Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall
not thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not
persuade me. Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely
under my loss and give up the girl at your bidding? Let the
Achaeans find me a prize in fair exchange to my liking, or I will
come and take your own, or that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to
whomsoever I may come shall rue my coming. But of this we will
take thought hereafter; for the present, let us draw a ship into
the sea, and find a crew for her expressly; let us put a hecatomb
on board, and let us send Chryseis also; further, let some chief
man among us be in command, either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or
yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are, that we may
offer sacrifice and appease the anger of the god."




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, January 17, 2010

Mass. Senate Race

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the race for the Senate in Massachussets. Barrack Obama is dropping everything - Haiti, Healthcare, everything - to campaign here today. For most of the last half-century, when we think liberal, we think Massachussets. When we think Democrat, we think Massachussets. This is the state that the Democrats must hold.

It is just fascinating to see a party monopoly getting challenged; it is also fascinating to see the underdog getting a chance.

Late-night observation. Tried to find Obama's speech on the internet. No coverate at CNN, or Fox. Minimal coverage at Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post. What does this mean? Obama's rally fell flat?

Just saw - Fox News reported that Obama spoke in an auditorium that seated 3,000. The audience was only 2,500. Republican Brown held a competing rally on his own and drew a similar size crowd.

Persians Conquer Babylon

Time: 539 BC
Place: Babylon

178. Cyrus, so soon as he had made subject to himself all other parts of the mainland, proceeded to attack the Assyrians. Now Assyria has doubtless many other great cities, but the most famous and the strongest, and the place where the seat of their monarchy had been established after Nineveh was destroyed, was Babylon; which was a city such as I shall say.--It lies in a great plain, and in size it is such that each face measures one hundred and twenty furlongs, the shape of the whole being square; thus the furlongs of the circuit of the city amount in all to four hundred and eighty. Such is the size of the city of Babylon, and it had magnificence greater than all other cities of which we have knowledge. First there runs round it a trench deep and broad and full of water; then a wall fifty royal cubits in thickness and two hundred cubits in height: now the royal cubit is larger by three fingers than the common cubit.

- Herodotus, Book 1

Pictured: panoramic view of ruins of city. Larger picture.

Furlong = 1/8 of a mile. 120 furlongs = 15 miles.
Royal Cubit = 20.6 inches. Wall was 86 feet thick and 343 feet high. (A football field is 300 feet goal to goal.)

More Information: Babylon, Herodotus's Book

Thousand and One Nights - 8

The Merchant and the Genie


Then I was sorry for having slain her, when repentance availed me not; and I gave her to the herd and said to him, "Bring me a fat calf." So he brought me my son in the guise of a calf; and when he saw me, he broke his halter and came up to me and fawned on me and moaned and wept, till I took pity on him and said to the man, "Bring me a cow and let this calf go." But my wife cried out at me and said, "Not so: thou must sacrifice this calf and none other to-day: for it is a holy and a blessed day, on which it behoves us to offer up none but a good thing, and we have no calf fatter or finer than this one."




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, January 16, 2010

Bloggers: Avoid Those Lawsuits!

Here's an article on the legal aspects of blogging. It makes the point that most people think they know the legal pitfalls but few really do. What constitutes "Fair Use"? I've heard that this is so ambiguous that people just say, "25 words or less" or somesuch.

It is such a shame that we live in such a litigeous society but we do. I'm going to take the free one-hour course and I'll let you know how it comes out.

Early Milan


View Milan in a larger map

Milan is on the great plain north of the Po River and south of the great passes through the Alps. It was first settled by the Celts, then taken over by the Romans. Diocletion made it the capital of the Roman Empire. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313, declaring Christianity the official religion of the empire. Then the barbarians came.

The Lombards invaded last. They were a small tribe, only big enough to conquer the Po Valley. Charlemagne destroyed them in 800.

During the Dark Ages, Milan was a haven in a violent world. Under Archbishop Heribert (1018-1045) carroccio (municipal patriotism) was the policy. Milan took control of neighboring towns: Lodi, Como, Pavia.

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I razed the town in 1162 but the Milan people rebuilt it. Within 20 years, it was again a major metropolis in the West. It’s chief industries were armor manufacture and the wool trade.

By 1200 the city already had a 1,000 year history as a major city.

More information: Wikipedia, About Milan.

Lays of Ancient Rome - 7

Horatius at the Bridge
by Thomas B. Macaulay


XIII

But by the yellow Tiber
        Was tumult and affright:
From all the spacious champaign
        To Rome men took their flight.
A mile around the city,
        The throng stopped up the ways;
A fearful sight it was to see
        Through two long nights and days.

XIV

For aged folks on crutches,
        And women great with child,
And mothers sobbing over babes
        That clung to them and smiled,
And sick men borne in litters
        High on the necks of slaves,
And troops of sun-burned husbandmen
        With reaping-hooks and staves,




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, January 15, 2010

English 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.)



The English (1.c4) is another flexible opening. This means that an immense number of variations occur quickly. This video covers the 1. ... e5 response with an early ... Bb4. Be leery of the claims of "book move" and so on as there are so many other good choices for both Black and White.

Notice that after White occupies c4, d4, and e4 with his pawns, Black can capture e5 x d4 and when White's Queen responds Q x d4, Black can develop his Knight to c6 and gain time. While his center pawn has to lay back at d6, White's trio of pawns is busted up and Black has the e file to attack down after castling. So, things aren't as cut and dried as the pundit makes it look.

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

Lincoln Tells Them Off

Time: Civil War
Place: White House, Washington, DC
Subject: Cables from the White House


To Governor John A. Andrew

Please say to these gentlemen that if they do not work quickly I will make quick work with them. In the name of all that is reasonable, how long does it take to pay a couple of regiments?
A. Lincoln

To General Daniel Tyler
If you are besieged how do you dispatch me? Why do you not leave before being besieged?
A. Lincoln

To Hon. J.K. Dubois, Hon O.M. Hatch
What nation do you desire General Allen to be made quarter-master general of? This nation already has a quarter-master general.
A. Lincoln

To Major General McClellan
I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?
A. Lincoln

A Retrieved Reformation - 7

by O'Henry


Ben Price knew Jimmy's habits. He had learned them while working on the Springfield case. Long jumps, quick get-aways, no confederates, and a taste for good society--these ways had helped Mr. Valentine to become noted as a successful dodger of retribution. It was given out that Ben Price had taken up the trail of the elusive cracksman, and other people with burglar-proof safes felt more at ease.

One afternoon Jimmy Valentine and his suit-case climbed out of the mail-hack in Elmore, a little town five miles off the railroad down in the black-jack country of Arkansas. Jimmy, looking like an athletic young senior just home from college, went down the board side-walk toward the hotel.

A young lady crossed the street, passed him at the corner and entered a door over which was the sign, "The Elmore Bank." Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes, forgot what he was, and became another man. She lowered her eyes and coloured slightly. Young men of Jimmy's style and looks were scarce in Elmore.




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, January 14, 2010

Closing in on 50

Still playing Realm of Empires on Facebook. This has become my favorite game. I've got almost 50 towns. Most of them are cities. I'm trying to help my neighbors.

Elizabeth, Empress of Russia

Times: 1709 1762
Place: Russia

During much of the 18th. century, Russia was ruled by women. Elizabeth and her successor Catherine II solidified Russia’s position in Europe.

Fifteen years after her father, Peter the Great died, her cousin Anna took over the government. She was hated for her policy of high taxes and appointments of Germans to head the government departments. After Anna passed from the scene, Elizabeth rammed through a coup and took over.

She reversed Anna’s policies. Her most noteworthy achievements were in foreign affairs. She settled the long disputes with the Scandinavian powers on the Baltic. In the 7 Years War (1754 – 1763) she was on the verge of breaking Prussia’s power but she died.

Her successor was a big fan of Prussia’s ruler, Frederick the Great. He pulled out of Elizabeth’s alliance and even joined Frederick. The foundation was laid for the German-Russian conflicts that were to last to World War II.

More information: Elizabeth, Catherine the Great.

Wizard of Oz - First Chapter - 7

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum


The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through the air. Dorothy felt as if she were going up in a balloon.

The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.

It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her, but Dorothy found she was riding quite easily. After the first few whirls around, and one other time when the house tipped badly, she felt as if she were being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle.




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, January 13, 2010

Questionable Tea Party Convention



Here is an interesting essay from one of the leading Conservative Bloggers on one of the leading Conservative blogs. (Okay, I admit it. I post there, too.)

Here's the important facts I gleaned from the piece.
1) The Convention is organized by folks no one has heard of before.
2) They are charging $500 a pop entrance fee.
3) They are a for-profit organization.

This is starting to sound like some hucksters are wanting to cash in on the tea party protesters. It started out as a grass-roots movement for ordinary folks to have their voices heard. Now, it is starting to have over-tones of a Ross Perot style third party.

Sarah Palin is going to be the keynote speaker at this convention. Why did she pass up other, more important speaking opportunities - such as the Guest of Honor at the House Republican's annual dinner last winter? - Or the Ronald Reagan Library event?

Her presence at this event may just wind up legitimizing a rip-off of a legitimate movement.

Pope Launches Crusade

Time: November 27, 1095
Place: Clerrmont, France

He did not forsee that one effort would not be enough, or even eight. Nor did he know that in the end, the Muslems would keep Palestine or that nine centuries later, Muslim extremists would still be using this speech as a pretext for attacks on nations that did not yet exist and on continents then unknown.

The below extract is from Robert the Monk's version of it, written 25 years later.

But if you are hindered by love of children, parents and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life." Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says "floweth with milk and honey," was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified by residence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the centre of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.
"When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, "It is the will of God! It is the will of God!" When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:

Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!
Right or wrong, I still think that 900 years is a long time to carry a grudge. Moreover, the USA did not yet even exist, so why blame us?

Pictured: Urban preaches the Crusade to the assembled clergy at Clermont.

More information: Council of Clermont, The Speech.