Sunday surfing…

Following up on last Thursday’s surfing (which got over 50,000 views), today I move in a completely different direction on the ‘net and find a lot of inspiration. Potpourri, nonsense, trying to be serious (at times!), and so on. It is the ‘net.  It takes us places and is an adventure. All that is required is to have an open mind…Enjoy!

Black/W photos (Pt. I), Web-surfing, philosophy and nonsense!

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends

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THOUGHTFUL OPINION

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“A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly under-represented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “under-representation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?

Are girls and boys not allowed to have different interests? If girls had the same interest in chess as boys had, but were banned from chess clubs, that would be something very different from their not choosing to play chess as often as boys do. As for chess ratings, that is not subjective. It is based on which players, with which ratings, you have won against and lost to.

Are women and men not to be allowed to make different decisions as to how they choose to spend their time and live their lives?

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Chess is not the only endeavor which can take a huge chunk of time out of your life, and unremitting efforts, to reach the top. If you want to become a top scientist, a partner in a big law firm or a top executive in a major corporation, you are very unlikely to do it working from 9 to 5, or taking a few years off, here and there, to have children and raise them.

Applying the same unsubstantiated assumption to differences in “representation” between different racial and ethnic groups likewise produces many loudly expressed grievances, political crusades, and millions of dollars from lawsuits charging discrimination — all without a speck of evidence beyond numbers that do not match the prevailing assumptions.

People who base their conclusions on hard facts often reach very different conclusions than those who base their conclusions on the preconception that outcomes would be even or random in the absence of somebody treating somebody wrong.

Something as simple as age differences among groups can doom any assumption of even or random outcomes.

If every 20-year-old Puerto Rican in the United States had an income identical with the income of every 20-year-old Japanese American — and identical incomes at every other age — Japanese Americans as a group would still have a higher average income than Puerto Ricans in the United States. That is because the median age of Japanese Americans is more than 20 years older.

People with 20 years more work experience usually make higher incomes. And age difference is just one of many differences between groups.

You can study innumerable groups in countries around the world today, or over centuries of recorded history, without finding a single example of the even or random outcomes that are used as a benchmark for determining discrimination.

Nevertheless, courts of law — including the Supreme Court of the United States — use something that has never been found anywhere as a norm to which current realities are to be compared. Billions of dollars, in the aggregate, have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination.

Life is undoubtedly unfair. But that is not the same as saying that the unfairness occurred wherever the statistics were collected. The origins of this unfairness often go back to different childhood environments for individuals or different geographic or cultural settings for groups and nations.

These differences between nations, as well as differences between individuals and groups, reflect the fact that the world “has never been a level playing field,” as economic historian David S. Landes put it. Renowned historian Fernand Braudel said, “In no society have all regions and all parts of the population developed equally.”

How long will we continue to take something that has never happened, and never had much chance of happening, as a norm?”

Sowell


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Sevilla Monologues

 

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Glasses and pretty Asian girls

(Part I)

Sunday Coffee

Good morning, Sunday!  Do you know what annoys the heck out of me today? Thinking about the recent massacre in Nice,France. My heart goes out to the innocent victims. It should have never happened!

But it does. It is the world we live in. EVERYDAY, somewhere in the middle east/ Afganhistan/ Africa MANY MORE innocent people are blown-up, beheaded or shot. Often raped beforehand…the media just reports it like it reports the weather…indifferently.

But mostly I am tired of how we in the west think ourselves so special! Born special.  In France, according to the news count, more than 200 innocent people have become victims of terrorism in the past 18 months. Charlie Hebdo, Paris and now Nice.  If only some other countries could be so lucky!

What has the French government done about it?  Apart from legislating bills to restrict civil liberties and increase the information services’ right to invade our private lives, the French government has imposed a state of emergency that seemingly will remain indefinitely.

Why bother? It has done nothing to stop the violence, or make us safer. Besides, nothing can stop such pre-meditated acts of violence and rage. Our law enforcement services have not failed.  But the media and the government seem to be in collusion, each time such an act is perpetrated in Europe, to treat it as something SPECIAL.

Instead of treating such acts as a crime (which is what it is) and letting the police deal with it, the government uses it for its own purposes and to increase their own political capital…The result is evident to anyone with eyes:  we find ourselves living in a society that is increasingly spiralling out of control.

Tens of thousands of troops on our streets, thousands of arbitrary arrests…probably much more than we really know about because it is all in the name of ‘national security’.


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Orwell’s 1984 showed us how fear is the tool that autocratic governments use to control and subjugate its people.

Have you noticed that everytime something terrible like what happens in Nice  occurs, the government never assumes any responsibility?  Should they change their foreign policy? Should they reduce the bombing and military interference in other countries. Should they reduce their sales of weapons? 

I am tired of being told, over and over again, that we are born special and that our leaders are competent protectors of the fundamental principles of democracy. What kind of democracy puts the value of a child in Syria, Libia or Iraque as something less than our own children? I am tired of the double standards of our media. I am tired of the hypocrisy of our political leaders.

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THE SCIENCE OF COFFEE

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There is an interesting article today about Monika Fekete, a scientist, and how she uses her specialixed training to help coffee shop owners produce a better cup of coffee.

“With a PhD in chemistry from Australia’s Monash University and a research background in the electrolysis of water, Monika Fekete might have been expected to keep working on the quest to make hydrogen for fuel cells.

Instead, the Melbourne-based academic became fascinated with another very human fuel source: coffee.

In March she left her academic job and set up the Australian Coffee Science Lab, Australia’s first independent scientific coffee consultancy.”

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MISCELANEOUS

Today’s coffee…

CAN YOU OVERDOSE ON COFFEE?

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I was reading this morning about energy drinks versus coffee and it became quickly clear to me that the former are quite dangerous to your health even with moderate consumption habits. Coffee, on the otherhand, has little or no harmful side-effects with moderate consumption.

Nevertheless, too much coffee can be lethal. (Too much consumption of anything can NEVER be good for you!)  What is that lethal dose in coffee? Scientists believe it is 150 mg of caffeine per kilo of body weight.  Essentially, it is 1 cup of coffee per kilo of body weight. With the proviso that ALL of the cups of coffee would have to be ingested at the same time.

For example, if you weigh 70 kilos, then you would need to drink–simultaneously–70 cups of coffee!  Physically, that would be impossible…so the conclusion is that in theory you could overdose from too much coffee, but in practice you would not be able to do so.  You can learn  all about this  and more HERE.  Very instructive!

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IMPEACHMENT SILLINESS

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The last week has seen a few individuals refer to an impending surprise in the upcoming FIDE Congress to be held in September in Baku during the Chess  Olympiad. That surprise being the ‘possible’ impeachment of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself! 

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But when I tried to find some substance, or indication, of WHY anyone would want to impeach the most popular individual in FIDE’s distinguished (cough, cough) 92 year history, search as I might on the internet chess universe, I came up empty handed. Well, almost empty handed:

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There is not even a shred of evidence  to suggest that such an impeachment movement exists except in the imagination of those individuals who first put the rumour in circulation. Chess-News.ru ran a short blurb that also contained no concrete or credible information to help shed light on the impeachment issue

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“Chess-News learnt that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov might face an impeachment procedure during the coming FIDE General Assembly that will take place in Baku in September….According to our information there are negotiations with several candidates. Among them two current FIDE officials and billionaires: Asian chess leader Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nehyan and the President of the Russian chess federation Andrey Filatov.  However there can be more surprises on the way. 

We asked Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to comment on the situation but there is still no reply.”

Nor was there any comment by the Sheik nor Filatov. Infact,not a single person connected to FIDE, elected or not-elected, has confirmed the rumours. Neither Kirsan, nor Makropoulis; neither Sheik Al-Nehyan nor Filatov.  Nor any other responsible FIDE official.

What gives? Perhaps the individuals in question meant to say ‘Coup d’etat’? Because impeachments are NEVER surprises… Impeachments are PROCESSES that evolve SLÕWLY over time. Openly. Transparently. With enormous public participation. The result of widespread and generalized social discontent or outrage. 

There is only one logical conclusion: it is all just a HOAX driven by bitter Kasparov supporters!

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A definition of REDUNDANCY ?!


CREATIVITY AT THE FRONT LINES

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“A British soldier (WWI) whose waistcoat doubles as a checkerboard/chessboard.  Time spent away from the front line, and even in the trenches, could be boring, so soldiers tried to alleviate their boredom with games, sports, music, and theatre.”  LINK

 

 

Today’s coffee, potpourri and nonsense

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There is a lot of truth in that! Coffee has never been accepted as a 100% rational thing. A lot like the human race, I suppose. But rationality is over-rated. Writes AI researcher E.Yudkowsky“Your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality. If you are equally good at explaining any outcome, you have zero knowledge.”  That is why I always have a cup or two of coffee when I wake up. 

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There are days when I KNOW that I really know nothing about anything, coffee gives me that necessary edge to keep going.  Coffee keeps me lucid. In a world that , on some days, is more fictional than real, that counts for a lot already. Rationality does not even come into it…

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COFFEE IN THE NEWS

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Interesting article today about how in China coffee is surprising the naysayers.  Even though the average mainlander drinks only 3 cups a coffee a year–and China consumes only 2% of the world’s coffee–the major players in the game are betting on the young generation to change all that. StarBucks has already opened 2,000 stores and is planning another 500. Duncan Donuts has similar designs.

It is expected that coffee consumption will increase 20% annually.  Just in the past 4 years coffee consumption has tripled.  When you consider that China’s population is almost 1.4 billion, the future looks very promising.


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COFFEE AND CANCER

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Several of my friends sent me this information a couple of weeks ago. To tell you the truth, I am surprised that there was any doubt on the matter! Finally, it seems, the matter is a no-brainer. ”The World Health Organisation has cleared coffee of causing cancer, but a detailed investigation has found that very hot drinks may be linked to cancer of the oesophagus, or gullet.

Coffee was classified as a possible cause of cancer in 1991, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of WHO, has now reconsidered the evidence. It carried out a detailed review of the many studies published on the subject and found that coffee drinkers have no reason to worry…

The scientists found an inverse relationship between drinking coffee and certain types of cancer. The risk of developing liver cancer dropped by 15% for each cup of coffee drunk, while in breast cancer and endometrial -or womb – cancer studies suggest there were fewer incidences among people who drank coffee than those who did not.”

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Key word is ‘latest’. In other words, the matter is not closed and the naysayers will find a way to worry us. (I am not worried!)  The interesting thing in this work by researchers in Ulster University is that they took a look at some previous studies, apparently more than 1,200 of them, and they found that the majority of the original findings were based only on observational data.  Hardly rigorous, isn’t it?!

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WEASEL-POOP COFFEE ??

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I kid you not! Coffee made from shit! It is very popular (and expensive) in Viet Nam. Kopi Luwak is what it is called and if you want to know more about it, read THIS.  But this is not what I want to tell you about. Apparently someone has found a way to market fake-weasel poop coffee!

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”The Trung Nguyen cafe in Hanoi’s central district is arranged like a shrine to fake weasel shit coffee. Trung Nguyen is like the Starbucks of Vietnam: It’s the largest domestic coffee brand and its products are distributed in dozens of countries, including the United States. The company commissioned a bunch of chemists to mimic kopi luwak, coffee that’s been digested and shit out by little weasel-like creatures called civets. They called the final product Legendee and it’s their flagship blend.

Legendee is sold in boxes designed with fake goldish-yellow wood grain, housed beneath a glass counter in the cafe. Each box costs about $50.”  LINK to article.

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As far as coffee is concerned, I am conservative. I like my coffee black. No sugar, no milk, and ESPECIALLY, no weasel shit!

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TODAY’S SURFING THE NET

Monday coffee…and potpourri (ofcourse!)

 

Good morning, Readers!  April 18, the second-to-last Monday of this month, for those of you who are interested in trivia like that. For those of you who are worried about the doomsday stories in the press about Planet-X (which is supposed to destroy the earth before the end of April), the good news is that armageddon will NOT likely happen on a Monday. That is something positive, isn’t it?

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MORE ABOUT COFFEE STUDIES…

Where do these studies come from?  Who pays for them?  Don’t these people have anything better to do with their lives? Apparently not…today I came across the following study and its brilliant conclusion:

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You can read more HERE.  This is one of the reasons why I HATE coffee studies!  After about 4,000,000,000,000,000,000 cups of coffee being consumed by Canadians, and NOT a single coffee-related death,(for comparison purposes, in the US last year 88,000 people died as a direct result of alcohol consumption) are we really supposed to worry about whether the coffee we are drinking is bad for us?!  Are we supposed to feel BETTER because some scientific study says so?

I don’t need some study’s APPROVAL for me to enjoy my coffee. Moreover, I don’t WANT some university undergraduate with nothing better to do to butt into my lifestyle…

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Call me spitefull, but I think that anyone who drinks decaf DESERVES to get colorectal cancer!

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Photo courtesy of HERE.

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Here is another idiotic coffee study that is supposed to make us feel good :

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”The lead scientist for this study, Dr. Greg Marcus and his colleagues dug deep into the link between coffee and heart diseases and found out that it wasn’t as bad as the rumor said it was. Bottom line, coffee lovers can now be at peace that drinking a cup of Joe won’t lead them to have a heart attack.”

That is what I like about coffee studies: they are so rigorous!  Good to hear that that nasty rumor has been challenged by our brightest scientists…but I am a little worried that the rumor is still breathing. And–OFCOURSE–as in all such feel good studies, you will find the usual ‘moderation’ advice:

”However, it is better to watch your consumption as well and not drink too much of it. After all, too much of anything won’t do good for your health anyway. The key here is moderation…”

You can read more HERE.

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Coffee is a HUGE market world wide.  Just in the US this year it is expected that coffee sales will reach 14 billion dollars. So you would expect that this kind of mega-bucks industry would have it’s own health watch dogs that naturally encourage such idiotic studies of the health value of something that we put into our body…but you would be wrong to assume so!

It is really all about distraction. Money and distraction, actually. There is only so much capacity in our attention span. What if the really BAD things on our daily consumption list tried to avoid your attention?  Like BEER…As mentioned, this year total coffee sales in the US will likely reach 14 billion dollars. Beer–on the otherhand–will reach an estimated 300 billion dollars in sales in the US (maybe more).

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Where are all the OBJECTIVE studies that do research into whether beer is good for you? How many glasses of beer is good for you?  Etc, Etc. Truth is, these studies don’t really exist (or are anonymously assumed to be included in the studies of general alcohol consumption). What you find out in the real world are convenient FEEL GOOD studies (no doubt funded to some extent by a well meaning beer company):

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Read more HERE.

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Read more HERE.

See what I mean?  Good luck trying to find a so called ‘study’ that finds anything so terrible about a glass of beer that it would be published in a newspaper or scientific journal.  The conclusion is obvious: Coffee is Beer’s poor cousin and that gets all the blame! A 300-billion dollar business instinctively knows how to buy its way thru life, fly below radar and avoid the public’s limited attention span in the morning.

So, as a conclusion for this day’s reflection on  coffee studies, here on this blog, IF I SEE another scientific coffee study then I have only this to say:

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REMEMBER, KIDS:

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GOOD

 

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ALL ABOUT KNIGHT MOVES

Rule 1: Move in an ‘L’ shape

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Rule 2: Firmly grasp with your teeth…

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Jacqueline Roos:  RIP

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Michel and Jacqueline Roos

My apologies for not posting this before. Jacqueline Roos, aged 86, died last earlier this month on April 7 in Strasbourg. She was the matriarch of France’s number one chess dynasty. She and her husband, Michel, were passionate chess players. Jacqueline was an IM and a Grandmaster in correspondence chess.  Michel (died 2002) was an IM and was Champion of France in 1964. 

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They had 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. All became IMs.This picture was taken at the 1972 french championships. On the left, Michel Roos, who in 1964 had became the youngest ever french champion. Standing right is Jacqueline now an International GrandMaster at postal chess. Seated right is their son, Louis Roos who five years later would beat his fathers record to become the youngest ever french champion, a record he held until this year. Standing left are Jean Luc and centre Daniel. All three sons are now International Masters. Daniel has since won a gold medal at the 1982 Lucern Olympiad. Unfortunately absent is their daughter Céline…the womens international master and gold medal winner for Canada.

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My Canadian readers will fondly remember Celine Roos (today 62 years old) from the time she spent in Montreal in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  My most sincere condolences to the entire Roos family.  (You can read more about Jacqueline Roos HERE and HERE)

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So typical!  Where is the damn arbiter when you need him?

Coffee,cigarettes,sex and chess

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‘Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.’

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Good morning, Reader!  I had a little chuckle while doing my favourite thing in the morning: drinking black coffee and surfing the news on the ‘net. I came across an article in ‘Mail Online’ about some recent study on coffee that stated the most obvious:

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Why am I NOT surprised?  Isn’t caffeine supposed to do this to you?  But more important, how do such studies get funding? Seems to me that there must be a zillion better uses for this same money…

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Here is a cute (sexy) little video about getting out of bed and having a cup of hot black coffee…ENJOY!

 

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2016 CHESS OLYMPIAD IN BAKU: IN DOUBT!!

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The chess community is often  described as a ‘nerdish’ group with their heads happily buried up their ass in the sand, blissfully unaware of what is happening around them… Case in point is the international chess community’s reaction to the Azerbajan aggression that is being directed against the predominantly Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh…BUT perhaps few chess players realize that the 2016 Olympiad is slated to be organized in September in Baku, the capital of Azerbajan, not very far from the centre of hostilities!

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For how long will the chess community be able to ignore what is happening? The recent Azerbajan aggression against the predominantly Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh has resulted in a shakey ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US (April 5) but nobody expects this to last to the end of the week.

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ISIS is reportedly already in Azerbajan!  Now that Turkey has come out and decided to support Azerbajan’ aggression ‘at all costs‘, analysts are worried that the entire Caucasus could explode before summer, with Russia and the US being at opposite sides of the conflict. (Russia has sworn to intervene should Armenia be attacked, while Turkey is a rogue member of NATO.)

Should this happen, then there will be no commercial flights in the Caucasus or anywhere near!  FIDE will be forced to CANCEL the 2016 Olympiad.  There is no doubt in my mind that some in the FIDE leadership are already considering plans to move the Olympiad to Khanty-Mansiysk should the situation on the ground deteriorate….and if they aren’t doing this, then they SHOULD get off their asses quickly.  

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Click on above pic to visit Kirsan’s Blog

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BLACK COFFEE!

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One of my favourite all-girl bands ALL SAINTS recently performed at London’s  KOKO. One of their hits is called ‘BLACK COFFEE‘…

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KARJAKIN: NO LOVE LOST WITH NORWAY! 

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I think this story is an excellent example of why so many in the chess world are constantly looking inward and as a result often miss the bigger picture. Sergey Karjakin, who had just scored the biggest success of his career last week by winning the gruelling Candidates Tournament in Moscow, decided that he would withdraw from the Norwegian Altibox tournament (April 18 to 30) and–at least for the short term, while he recovers physically–dedicate himself entirely to the preparation of his World Championship match with Carlsen in New York in November.

His representative wrote to the Norwegian organizers, politely explaining Karjakin’s reasons:

“Karjakin won’t play in the prestigious tournament in Stavanger. It was with great pleasure that Sergey accepted the invitation from the organisers of the Norway Chess, after being the winner in 2013 and 2014. But the explanation for withdrawal put quite simply is: no-one in advance could have guaranteed Karjakin’s victory at the Candidates Tournament. Now Sergei has a different status and has decided to concentrate fully on preparing for the match for the world crown. Also the Candidates Tournament cost him almost all his energy.”

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The Norway Chess organizers, who already have a somewhat dubious relationship with the media, decided to exploit Karjakin’s withdrawal and milk it for all it is worth, trying to gain free publicity for their tournament.  A number of defiant press communiques attributed to the organizers appeared in the international press, and I quote a few here, published today on ChessBase:

“The hosts behind the Altibox Norway Chess tournament are surprised that Sergey Karjakin withdraws from the upcoming tournament in Stavanger. Karjakin has a signed contract with us and it does not state that he can withdraw from the tournament if he qualifies for the World Championship in November, states Jøran Aulin-Jansson.

”This action feels disrespectful to us as the organizers of the event as well as the other players in the tournament, not to mention the entire chess world that were looking forward to the dress rehearsal for the World Championship match between Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen, says Aulin-Jansson.

”The message that Karjakin is withdrawing from Altibox Norway Chess was received from the Russian Chess Federation only 12 days before the start of the tournament. Aulin-Jansson makes it clear that the last words in this matter have not been spoken.

”Sergey Karjakin is a great chess player and he is still welcome as a participant in Altibox Norway Chess 2016. He has, after all, won both times he has participated, says Aulin-Jansson.

”Karjakin obviously has a lot of nerves before his first World Championship match, however, we truly wish Karjakin and his advisors understand that one can not just run away from agreements because it suddenly does not fit in preparation for a match that does not start until about half a year later.”

Soon a number of well known chess bloggers blindly joined in the chorus of the Norwegian charade:

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Somewhere lost amid this theatrical display of ‘self-righteous indignation‘ by the Norwegian organizers is the FACT that the Norwegian organizers SCREWED Karjakin last year by withdrawing his invitation to the 2015 edition of the same event.  Even more scandalous given that Karjakin was the outright winner of the 2013 and 2014 events! Apparently the organizers argued that Karjakin’s invitation was verbal, and not written!  (You can read more about this on the ChessBase link above)

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SCORE

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SMOKING IS SEXY!

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Amusing, witty and fun…

COFFEE WITH JIM

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Since coffee is such a big part of this blog, I thought I would share the following little gem called ‘Coffee with Jim’ about two young adults meeting over coffee, probably for the first time, after having met up via the social media.  ENJOY!

 

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Taras Lavren, produced and directed the above film.

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Chris Gilmore wrote the above screen play.

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sarah

Sarah Marchand is a Canadian actress

‘Sarah Marchand is an MA graduate from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. She hold a BFA in Theatre Performance and Honours English Literature from Concordia University and is the 2013 recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Emerging. Artist Grant in English Theatre. As part of her practice-based research, she seeks to explore how the performing arts respond to an increasingly digitized age. Other performance interests include Peking Opera, Elizabethan theatre and contemporary Canadian works.’  LINK

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You might also be interested in visiting Sarah’s website