Rick Bragg, The Decatur Book Festival, and the Road That Goes On Forever

The AJC Decatur Book Festival has grown to become the largest independent book festival in the country. It began in 2006 and you can read about it here (https://www.decaturbookfestival.com/).

Today is the third day of the four day event. I attended many of the festivals but cannot recall the exact number. There is one in particular I do recall, though…

In 2002 a conversion van was purchased in order to make a trip around the country to play in Chess tournaments, and to visit with many people scattered over the country, some involved with research into the JFK assassination. One of the stops was in Rolla, Missouri, where the Missouri State Chess Championship was held. The Rolla public library contained one of a very limited number of the many volume “official” US Government Warren Commission Report. Every report ever released can still be obtained from the government of the US except the Warren Report. Think about that for a moment…

Sometime during the week before the tournament I learned the author Rick Bragg

would be signing books at the Left Bank bookstore in St. Louis (https://www.left-bank.com/).

I had read his first book, All Over But the Shoutin′

and liked it so much I read each of his following books, including Ava’s Man,

which brought tears to my eyes. Rick, like me, was born Southern “by the grace of God,” as the saying goes…Rick is from the Great neighboring State of Alabama. His words struck a chord and hit home because we came from a similar background. He could have been writing about my family, which is, I suppose, why he became such a popular author.

I had plans to play in the Indiana state championship the following weekend so had time to attend the event. By the time I arrived almost all the seats had been taken. Taking the last available seat put me in the back row. The younger woman in the seat to my right was very pretty. She had her long brown hair put up, which I’ve always found attractive, brown eyes, and a smile which caused my heart to flutter while wishing I was at least ten years younger…

Rick was introduced and began to speak. He asked a question of the audience and no one spoke, so I spoke. Everyone turned around to look. It was an extremely quiet audience so I continued to speak during the event. Although I cannot recall much of what was said between us that night I do recall Rick talking about eating at the Krystal.

It seems he had a fondness for the “pups,”

blaming much of his extended belly on his fondness for them, and other Krystal “delicacies.”

As soon as he ended I went to the men’s room. As I walked back into the room where Rick was signing books a nice lady stopped me and said, “I sure did enjoy your conversation with Mr. Bragg tonight.” I smiled and thanked her for saying something so nice. The brown-eyed woman who had caused my heart to throb said, “Me too,” and then immediately dropped her eyes as if she could not believe she had spoken. I thought maybe she was the shy type…She had the look of a librarian.

The publicist who was with Rick noticed me heading toward the door and stopped me, asking if I were leaving. “No ma’am, I am headed to the van to grab a cassette tape I want to give Rick.”

“Is it a book?” she inquired. “No ma’am, it’s music. I just thought Rick would appreciate it.”

“Oh that’s great,” she said, “Rick wants to meet you.”

After nabbing the tape I stepped in at the end of the line behind, you guessed it, the lady with the brown hair and eyes. She had two of his books to be signed. I learned she had not read them, but intended on doing so. We were in the central west end, later to be home of the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.

I asked her if she would like to get something to eat and she said, “That would be lovely.” This caused a heart palpitation!

She made it to the table, Rick signed her book after doing a double take which caused me to understand I was not the only man who found her attractive. She moved to the side as I walked up and he looked at her and said, “You with him?” She nodded, said “Yes,” and I’m certain my chest puffed out several inches. Rick looked at me and said, “You lucky dog.” Then he shook my hand and we talked for a little while, with him relating something about there always being one guy from similar circumstances in the crowd saying, “And tonight you were it.”

I handed the tape to Rick, telling him I had made about a dozen copies and given away most of them to friendly truckers while on the road like the one who asked, “You need a shower?” as he slipped me his pass. Rick got a kick outta that! I asked him if they would like to grab a bite to eat with us, but his publicist said they did not have the time.

Fast forward to 2008. I was working at the Atlanta Chess Center and had taken the day off so as to attend the Decatur Book Festival where Rick Bragg would be presenting and autographing his new book, The Prince of Frogtown.

His lecture was to take place in a church. It was standing room only and during the presentation Rick used the word “fuck,” which is the only time I have ever heard the word uttered in a church. He was reading from the book, but still…I remember thinking no one made a sound when he spoke the word. Back in the day little old Southern ladies would have swooned, and possibly fainted, after hearing such a word spoken in a “house of the Lord.”

I was in the balcony. By the time I made it outside there was a very long line of people waiting to have their book signed, but no Rick, so I hit the head. I walked back outside, went around to the rear of the tent, stepped across a line that could not be crossed, came up behind Rick, just as some festival gentleman with a badge grabbed me by the arm, and said to Rick “The road goes on forever…”

The official began pulling my arm just as Rick turned to look. Seeing it was me he completed the line, saying, “And the party never ends!” Then he asked “What are you doing here?” The festival official was attempting to drag me away as I said, “I live here Rick. Decatur is the city of my birth.” Rick looked at the official and yelled, “Unhand that man!” Then he looked at me and said, “I can’t believe it…after all these years…I LOVED that tape! I wore it out and had to get a new one. Now I’ve got everything Joe Ely has done!” Naturally, this made me smile.

“So you liked Love and Danger, huh?”

“Liked it? Hell no, I LOVED it!”

The people in line were getting restless, so Rick said, “You gonna be around a while.”

“I can be,” I said.

“Wanna grab a beer and maybe something to eat?” he asked.

“I don’t think they serve beer at Krystal, Rick,” was my response. He laughed out loud as he stuck out his hand and said, “I don’t even remember your name.”

“Michael Bacon,” I said.

“Yeah, that Bacon part rings a bell…”

“Must be something to do with food, huh?”

“You got that right!” Rick said.

I stepped back to wait. The official came over and apologized, saying something like, “Sorry. I did not know you were friends.”

“That’s OK, sir. I know you were only doing you job.” He smiled.

After the last book had been signed we walked to the Brick Store pub.

After we ordered Rick looked at me and asked, “I seem to recall you were with a beautiful woman that night.”

“Yeah, I met her at the signing.”

“No shit?” he said, “What happened with her?”

“Gentlemen never tell, Rick,” I said as he broke into a big, wide grin.

Rick’s latest book is:

I have yet to read it, but there is no doubt it will be read soon.

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Tim Tobiason: A Colorful Chess Character

Reading the following from Mark Weeks blog, Chess for All Ages, caused me to pause and reflect upon the man named in the post:

“By coincidence, while I was preparing the recent post, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, where I mentioned that ‘I’ve been downloading old copies of The Chess Journalist (TCJ)’, I noticed that the December 2006 issue of the TCJ credited the existence of the scanned CL/CRs to Tim Tobiason. He seems to have been a colorful character in several ways, but this isn’t the time or place to repeat stories that can be found elsewhere on the web. It is his misfortune that while the original magazines are protected by copyright, his scans aren’t protected by a second copyright because they don’t represent creative work.”
(http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/06/caveat-ebay-digital-documents.html)

The first time I met Tim Tobiason was in Rolla, Missouri, at the 2002 Missouri State Chess Championship. Mr. Tobiason, who was also playing in the small event, had the most eclectic collection of things ever seen at a Chess tournament. Along with the usual Chess books and other Chess related things, he displayed books he had written, and other items looking like they would be more comfortable at a gun show. I cannot recall the titles, but they were along the same line as the infamous Anarchist Cookbook.

He talked of the right he had to publish anything, and of being hounded by the FBI because of the content, which tended toward blowing things up with explosives. Tim rather proudly stated he had been “filmed by 60 Minutes,” the CBS TV show. He also mentioned having been banned at gun shows, which is where he sold most of his self-produced books. People began moving away from the table. He also mentioned needing a place to stay, or at least a shower, as he was traveling from Chess tournament to tournament while living in his van. I mentioned, with as much deference as could be mustered, maybe he might want to reconsider the part about being followed by the FBI if he wanted a place to stay. “You gotta point,” he said.

The next encounter with Tim was at the Atlanta Chess Center. He needed to take a shower and wanted to stay inside the House of Pain that night. In addition, he needed some space in the back room to set up his equipment, which consisted of scanning equipment to be used to copy older material, which he would sell. Unbeknownst to me David Spinks had flatly turned him down. Later on I saw and greeted him. He was obviously road weary and in a disheveled state. Tim was heavyset, with a rather large, and protruding belly. Happy to see a friendly face after his encounter with Spinks, he greeted me like a long-lost friend. After informing me he knew Thad Rogers, owner of the Dump, and explaining the situation, as he had attempted with Spinks, I told him it would be OK to shower. I figured Thad would give the OK, so I did so. David was LIVID! It was one of the few times I saw Spinks “lose it.” David was adamant. He did not want Tim around, especially on a tournament weekend. I tried reasoning with him, to no avail. For the first and only time while working at the HOP I placed a call to Thad. After informing him of the situation, he said, “Toby’s there? Tell him I said hello, and yes, you were right to allow him access. Let me speak with David.” Spinks did not like being overruled, but had no choice in the matter.

Toby said he was hungry and I mentioned the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, but Toby had other ideas. He asked about an all you can eat place, telling me he only ate once a day, spending hours eating all he could, which would have to last until the next day. I understood immediately why Thad liked Toby, as he, too, could spend hours at an all you can eat buffet. Besides, Toby was a character, and Thad always had a fondness for characters, one of the great things about Thad. That particular character trait was exactly what one needed to interact with Chess players.

Upon his return we made room for Toby and his equipment in the back room while taking pains to pacify Spinks. I spent a great deal of time with Toby that evening while working the front. Toby was a nervous type, and who would not be with the FBI breathing down his neck? Most Chess players are paranoid; it seems to come with the game. Toby was not the only player claiming to be followed by authorities. IM Emory Tate was in the military for many years, playing, and winning, the Armed Forces Championship five times. We were regaled with stories of his being in Military Intelligence, and according to Emory, “They are still watching me.” Who were we to argue? After listening to Emory I will admit to being pleased someone was keeping an eye on the man. Consider this:

“A lone lion wanders afar in the wilderness, no longer part of the pride
Once gleaming, accepted, a beautiful beast, now having been cast aside
No chance for part in coordinated hunt, this one can’t run very fast
Nature holds no place, and faltering, it seems this beast just won’t last

~Emory Andrew Tate, Jr.”

Is Emory writing about himself, or the Royal game? This can be found at the excellent website of Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum. (http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/10/21/emory-tate-chess-savant-warrior-1958-2015/)

Thad drove up from Macon the next day and if memory serves, stayed the night. While on duty Thad could be heard laughing constantly from the back room. It was obvious he had an affinity for Toby. I cannot differentiate between all the tournaments held at the House of Pain, but because of Toby I do recall that particular weekend. Toby definitely brought something different to the staid House that weekend. In deference to Spinks I mentioned the recent rash of car break-ins experienced at the House in the crime filled area and Toby decided to sleep in his van.

I asked Thad if what Toby related was real, or a figment of his imagination. “I dunno,” he answered, “But they make for great stories!” he said with a grin. Toby kept busy, and out-of-the-way, making his discs, which he sold to Thad. One legendary Atlanta player was extremely pleased with what he purchased.

The last time I encountered Toby was in Louisville many years later. There was a children’s tournament and I arrived a little after noon. The event was over (they ‘head ’em up and move ’em out’ in Derby land) and Toby was getting ready to leave, hitting the road for who knows where.

Reading the Chess for All Ages post prompted a visit to startpage.com, where I entered Toby’s name, finding this article, which is quite lengthy. If you do not have the appetite for all of it, scroll on down to the last four paragraphs, which has been made bold. This will make you want to read all of what follows, so why not just invest the time and read it all now?

Hoax! (part 2)
The second half of Jon Ronson’s investigation into people behind the post-September 11 anthrax hoaxes.

I had met Tim two years earlier at a gun show in Rochester, Minnesota. I was there with my producer, Jim, and the Ruby Ridge survivor Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were shot by FBI agents in a bungled raid in Idaho 10 years ago. Crowds flocked to get Weaver’s autograph, but Tim didn’t. He stood apart, a lone wolf among lone wolves, a pasty-looking man, wearing a lumberjack shirt and glasses. He had a deep grudge against the federal government and, it turned out, a rudimentary scientific knowledge. He told us that anthrax was the only way forward for the “movement”. In our experience, anthrax wasn’t a big militia topic of conversation. In fact, we’d never heard it mentioned, so Jim did a quick interview with him.

“I get into the more dangerous biological and chemical weapons area,” Tim said during this taped interview. “You can mail massive-scale weapons in microscopic form on a postage stamp, and that way you can re-arm the entire nation if the government ever tries to take your guns away.”
Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you
Read more

The people we met at the gun shows all had their own special ways of theoretically battling the government. One man had advocated the use of piano wire, another favoured firebombs. Tim’s big thing was anthrax. I’d never ratted out an interviewee to the feds before. I’d never given up a source. This would normally be a very bad thing for a journalist to do. But this was October 2001.

“Tim probably isn’t the anthrax killer,” I thought to myself. “But how often does one meet someone who is almost the anthrax killer?”

“I should call the FBI,” I said to Jim, when he telephoned in early October to remind me about our interview with Tim.

“Hang on,” he said. “I’m the one who thought of Tim. I should call the FBI.”

“I want to call the FBI,” I said.

“Well, I don’t want you bloody going to the FBI without me,” said Jim.

There was a hurt silence. “OK,” I said. “I promise to bring you with me to the FBI.”

It wasn’t easy to find the FBI in London. Directory enquiries had no record of them. “Are you sure F stands for Federal?” they asked.

I finally tracked them to the US embassy, and an agent called Michael came on the phone. When I told him what I had, he said, casually, “Yes. That would be something we’d be interested in. Could you bring it in?”

“Tomorrow?” I asked, and Michael agreed.

I realised that things were less casual when Michael telephoned me at 8.30am to ask if I was coming in today. Things aren’t casual at 8.30am. People call at 8.30am if they’ve been up worrying.

And two hours later – in Grosvenor Square, central London – Jim and I were past the security guards, past the ocean of fencing, through the x-rays, the bag search, up the elevator, through a series of reinforced steel doors – the kind of doors you find on safes – through more corridors, through the body search, and into London’s FBI headquarters. We were led into an office decorated with novelty Big Ben snowstorms and a collection of funny police helmets.

Michael was sitting at his desk. He was bookish and young. He shook hands, led us through to his boss’s office, and sat us on the sofa. He got out his notepad and said, “So how did you come to meet this Tim?”

“Well,” said Jim, “we’re journalists, and we were following Randy Weaver around the gun show circuit. Actually, Jon had hooked up with Randy Weaver a few days earlier, but I’d been researching another project, would you believe it, surveillance cameras in shopping malls!” Jim laughed nervously. Michael’s eyes began to glaze.

I think that Jim, like many people who meet law enforcement officers, was feeling the desperate urge to confess. Luckily, Jim didn’t have anything to confess to, so this compulsion was finding a different outlet – mad small talk. I glanced down at Michael’s notepad. So far, he’d written only two words: “Randy Weaver.”

“Shall we watch the tape?” said Michael.

“With a mass propagated pre-packaged bio-weapon, you could render most of the major cities uninhabitable in about a week, which would wreck the economy and pretty much put an end to the government,” said Tim on the tape.

“Tim,” replied Jim on the tape, “what you’re advocating here is the spread of really dangerous information. Why do you feel that it’s a good idea for everybody to know this terrible stuff?”

I was relieved that Jim had adopted a combative style of questioning with Tim. All too often, Jim and I ask extremists over-soft questions that might lead FBI agents erroneously to believe that we had gone native. When the tape ended, Michael thanked us very much and escorted us back to the lobby.

That night, as I lay in bed, I thought of Tim, and I wondered who he really was. A week later, the Wall Street Journal provided the answer: the FBI, it said, was looking for a home-grown anthrax terrorist, and they were making inquiries about a Nebraska man called Tim Tobiason, who was known on the gun show circuit for advocating the use of anthrax. Apparently, the FBI had been alerted to Tim by a “member of the public”. There was a photograph. This was my Tim.

It turned out that Tim Tobiason came from Silver Creek, Nebraska. He had once been a pillar of the community, the owner of an animal-feed mill with 24 employees and $3m a year cashflow, married, with two daughters, and a bit of a chemical wizard, too; he mixed up witches’ brews at night in his garage – funny-smelling stuff, said his neighbours. Then he made a new kind of phosphate-based feed additive which, he calculated, would net him millions. He set about patenting it, but the government said it would be dangerous to cattle, so they rejected it. He began bitching to his friends about a conspiracy, how the government had stolen his patent and given it to some agricultural corporation. He moved into a Dodge caravan and plotted his revenge. He wrote Scientific Principles Of Improvised Warfare: Advanced Biological Weapons Design And Manufacture. The cover promised, “If you can make Jell-O, you can wipe out cities. Enjoy!”

His marriage collapsed and he took to selling his book on the gun show circuit. In the wake of the Wall Street Journal article, TV crews stormed Silver Creek. But Tim had vanished. The FBI analysed his handwriting, and followed the instructions in his anthrax cookbook, finding them to be shoddy and incomplete. They concluded that Tim Tobiason was innocent. As a result of the publicity, Tim was banned from gun shows across the US. His Silver Creek neighbours said they didn’t expect him back, which was for the best because he was no longer welcome in town.

The last I heard of Tim Tobiason was in December last year. Dan Rather’s CBS news team secretly filmed him at a gun show in California – one of the few still letting him sell his books. In this covert recording, Tim said that if a federal agent killed him and his children, an unnamed colleague of his would exact a terrible revenge. This colleague would take “communicable weapons to every grade school within 50 miles of CIA headquarters, infect them all, they go home, infect Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad goes back to CIA, and two weeks later CIA’s gone.” Tim was one of those people who always lived in fear that the federal government would come after him, and Jim and I made his paranoid fantasy come true.

For all his blather, I think my decision to shop Tim to the FBI was an even less justifiable response to the hysteria than the actions of the four anthrax hoaxers whom I interviewed. Clay Waagner had a good excuse for going crazy that month. He had a cause. Lucy Manifold was trying to stay happy. Bryan Mangnall was a dumb jock. And Terry Olson was depressed and wanted attention. I had no good reason to do what I did. And I got thanked for it.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/oct/05/anthrax.uk1

Crime in The City (Sixty to Zero) by Neil Young
——–

All the champs and the heroes
They got a price to pay
They go from sixty to zero
In the split of a hair
They see the face in the window
They feel a shadow out there
They’ve got the places they can go
They’ve got the people who stare
They’ve got to walk in their shoes
They’ve got to see what they see
They’ve got the people around them
Getting too much for free
All the pimps and the dealers
All the food they can eat
All the screamers and squealers
When they walk down the street
Yeah.

He’s just a rich old man
He never cared for anyone
He likes to count his possessions
He’s been a miser from penny one
He never cared for his children
Never cared for his wife
Never made anyone happy
That’s the way he lived his life
And one day in the sunshine
He got a bolt from the blue
Unloaded all of his possessions
Sold his investments too
And now he lives with the homeless
Owns 900 hospital beds
He prefers to remain nameless
It’s publicity he dreads
Yeah.

There’s a judge in the city
He goes to work every day
Spends his life in the courthouse
Keeps his perspective that way
But I respect his decision
He’s got a lot on his mind
He’s pretty good with the gavel
A little heavy on the fines
One day there was this minstrel
Who came to court on a charge
That he blew someone’s head off
Because his amp was too large
And the song he was singin’
Was not for love but for cash
Well, the judge waived the charges
He fingered his mustache
Yeah.

Well, there’s a clown in a carnival
He rode a painted horse
He came from somewhere out west
He was very funny of course
But that is not what I noticed
It was the incredible force
With which he held his audience
While he rode on his horse
His jokes were not that off-color
His smile was not that sincere
His show was that not that sensational
Reasons for success were not clear
But he still made big money
One day the circus was his
Now he’s married to the acrobat
And they’re training their kids
Yeah.

Now the jailhouse was empty
All the criminals were gone
The gate was left wide open
And a buck and fawn
Were eating grass in the courtyard
When the warden walked in
And took a rifle from the prison guard
And said to him with a grin
To shoot those deer would be stupid, sir
We already got ’em right here
Why not just lock the gates and keep them
With intimidation and fear?
But the warden pulled the trigger
And those deer hit the ground
He said Nobody’ll know the difference
And they both looked around.
Yeah.

Well, the cop made the showdown
He was sure he was right
He had all of the lowdown
From the bank heist last night
His best friend was a robber
And his wife was a thief
All the children were murderers
They couldn’t get no relief
The bungalow was surrounded
When a voice loud and clear
Come out with your hands up
Or we’re gonna blow you out of here
There was a face in the window
TV cameras rolled
And they cut to the announcer
And the story was told.
Yeah.

Well, the artist looked at the producer
The producer sat back
He said What we have got here
Is a pretty good track
But we don’t have a vocal
And we still don’t have a song
If we could get this thing accomplished
Nothin’ else could go wrong
So he balanced the ashtray
And he picked up the phone
And said Send me a songwriter
Who’s drifted far from home
And make sure that he’s hungry
And make sure he’s alone
And send me a cheeseburger
And a new Rolling Stone
Yeah.

Well, the Sioux and Dakota
They lost all of their land
And now a basketball player
Is trying to lend them a hand
Maybe someday he’ll be president
He’s quite a popular man
But now the chief has reservations
And the white man has plans
There’s opposition in Congress
The bill is up against cash
There’s really no way of predicting
If it will fly or it will crash
But that’s the nature of politics
That’s the name of the game
That’s how it looks in the tepee
Big winds are blowing again
Yeah.

There’s still crime in the city
Said the cop on the beat
I don’t know if I can stop it
I feel like meat on the street
They paint my car like a target
I take my orders from fools
Meanwhile some kid blows my head off
Well, I play by their rules
So now I’m doing it my way
I took the law in my own hands
Here I am in the alleyway
A wad of cash in my pants
I get paid by a ten year old
He says he looks up to me
There’s still crime in the city
But it’s good to be free
Yeah.

Now I come from a family
That has a broken home
Sometimes I talk to my daddy
On the telephone
When he says that he loves me
I know that he does
But I wish I could see him
Wish I knew where he was
But that’s the way all my friends are
Except maybe one or two
Wish I could see him this weekend
Wish I could walk in his shoes
But now I’m doin’ my own thing
Sometimes I’m good, then I’m bad
Although my home has been broken
It’s the best home I ever had
Yeah.

Well, I keep getting younger
My life’s been funny that way
Before I ever learned to talk
I forgot what to say
I sassed back to my mummy
I sassed back to my teacher
I got thrown out of Sunday School
For throwin’ bibles at the preacher
Then I grew up to be a fireman
I put out every fire in town
Put out everything smoking
But when I put the hose down
The judge sent me to prison
Gave me life without parole
Wish I never put the hose down
Wish I never got old.
http://thrasherswheat.org/fot/lyrics_crime.htm

The Ol’ Swindler Strikes Again!

Many years ago NM Neal Harris beat the Legendary Georgia Ironman for the second time in the exact same variation. The Ironman, who was none too pleased, said, “That Neal…he ain’t nothing but an ol’ swindler!” We have all laughed about it since then, and I have been known to address my friend Neal as “Ol’ Swindler”, which invariably brings out a smile from the Ol’ Swindler. Today the ol’ dog proved he still has some bite!
This afternoon as fire raged on every board at the Sinquefield Cup, with GM Maurice displaying histrionics that would make Tom Cruise proud, and Jen and Ben talking excitedly when given the chance, with even the usually calm and understated Yaz getting in on the act, especially when Hikaru Nakamura eschewed the opportunity to put Darth Topalov out of his misery with 21…Bxf2+, I was following the game between Neal and Kazim Gulamali at the US Masters along with the coverage from St. Louis.
Neal is a fellow Senior who happens to be against Senior tournaments. We have agreed to disagree on the matter. Knowing Kazim from the time he was a child put me in a tough position. It is one of those situations where one might hope for a great game that turns out to be a draw. Then there is David Spinks, who said, “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY!” I admit that when the Ol’ Swindler obtained an advantage my heart was with him. “Come on Neal, push that pawn to e2!” I exclaimed as he missed chance after chance to do just that. Nevertheless, Neal found a way to win. Congratulations my friend! NC obtained a modicum of revenge for the loss to the Atlanta Kings earlier this week.

NEAL D HARRIS (2218) vs KAZIM GULAMALI (2398)

US Masters rd 2 Greensboro, North Carolina

B29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Nc3 Nxc3 5. dxc3 Nc6 6. Bf4 e6 7. Qd2 h6 8. h4 Qc7 9. Rd1 b6 10. Qe3 Bb7 11. Nd2 Ne7 12. (12. Ne4 Nf5 13. Qe2 Qc6 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. exd6 h5 16. f3 O-O-O 17. Qd2 e5 18. Bh2 e4 19. Qf4 exf3 20. Bd3 Ne3 21. Qxe3 fxg2 22. Rg1 Rde8 23. Be5 f6 24. Kd2 Rxe5 25. Qg3 Qf3 26. Qxf3 Bxf3 27. Rde1 Rhe8 28. Rxe5 Rxe5 0-1, Ingvar Asmundsson (2338) – Jacob Murey (2496) EU-ch Seniors, 10/03/2002) Nc4 Nd5 13. Qg3 O-O-O 14. Nd6 Bxd6 15. exd6 Qc6 16. Bc1 Qa4 17. c4 Nb4 18. c3 Nc2 19. Kd2 Na1 20. a3 Nb3 21. Ke1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Qc6 23. f3 e5 24. Rd1 e4 25. b3 Rde8 26. f4 Rhg8 27. Rd5 Kb8 28. h5 Qc8 29. Rf5 f6 30. Rh4 Re6 31. Rg4 Qf8 32. b4 e3 33. bxc5 bxc5 34. Rd5 Bxd5 35. cxd5 Qxd6 36. c4 Re7 37. Bd3 Qc7 38. Kf1 Rge8 39. Qe1 Qb6 40. Bg6 Rf8 41. Bd3 Qb3 42. Ke2 Qxa3 43. Qb1 Qb4 44. Qxb4 cxb4 45. d6 Re6 46. c5 a5 47. Bf5 Rc8 48. Bxe6 dxe6 49. f5 exf5 50. Rc4 b3 51. Rc3 a4 52. Rc4 Kb7 53. Rxa4 Rxc5 54. d7 Kc7 55. Rb4 Kxd7 56. Rxb3 f4 57. Rb7 Ke6 58. Rxg7 Rxh5 59. Kf3 Re5 0-1

Traveling Wilburys – Congratulations

Rex Sinquefield’s Agenda

While watching the games of the US Championship I have open the websites TWIC; ChessBomb; and my favorite, Chessdom. The latter has analysis by the big three, Stockfish, Komodo, & Houdini, the three highest rated “entities” playing the Royal game these days. I like to judge the position myself before looking at the evaluation of the programs. One of the things I like about the Chess arena board displayed on Chessdom is the difference of opinion on some moves by the big three. For example, after Mackenzie Molner played the standard third move, after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5, Timur Gareev, my pick to win the tournament last year in the contest, which was not held this year, played 3…f5, the Schliemann defense, a favorite of a player from LA (that is Lower Alabama to those of us fortunate enough to be from the South), The Dude. The Legendary Georgia Ironman hung the moniker “Rainbow Warrior” on him, but Tim Bond did not like it. After a soliloquy on the movie “The Big Lebowski” while drinking white russians, I began called him, “The Dude.” The Dude would play 1 Nf3 as his opening move with white, but play wide openings like the Schliemann with black. His theory was that “With white one already has the advantage and must play conservatively to keep it. But with black one must try to wrest the advantage from white by any means necessary.” After 3…f5, Houdini has as best either 4 Qe2 or Bxc6. Komodo would play 4 Nc3; while Stockfish shows 4 d3.
After having decided to not go to the website of the StLCC&SC to listen to the broadcast I decided to check it out Sunday. What I found was an interview of Rex Sinquefield by GM Maurice Ashley. One of the first things I heard was Maurice say something about his politics being different from those of Mr. Sinquefield, who responded with some condescending remark about letting him “educate” Maurice sometime. Then Rex went into a rant about Missouri legislation concerning taxes. He said something about a bill that had been passed and vetoed by the Governor, but the veto had been overridden, something that had not happened since the 1800’s. Who cares? Why was this man talking about tax policy on a chess website? And why the hell does it matter to him? He is a BILLIONAIRE! He pays accountants large sums to find loopholes so he does not half to pay taxes. The tax code is written by sycophants of the super-rich to favor the upper crust. What does it matter to him whether tax rates go up or down? And besides, if taxes go down, how will the bill for endless war be paid? Certainly Rex and his ilk will not pay the freight for US troops who are in almost every country on the face of the earth. I turned it off after hearing Rex, who seemed quite pleased with himself, make a disparaging comment about Ben Finegold being uglier than Jennifer Shahade.
The next day, Monday, I surfed on over to the website again to find the pretty Jennifer had joined Yasser fo that day’s broadcast. Unfortunately, there was yet another problem with the broadcast, just like the previous day, and like last year. For that reason I clicked off and went to the Livestream website (http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3913412/events/2966247). The problem persisted on that site as well. Here are some of the comments from the livestream website:
Is it lagging like crazy with any1 else?- Ole Feiring
terrible stream-Gary Sharkey
it is just lagging a lot-Ralf Schnabel
yeah its awful and ruining the coverage last year was the same-Gary Sharkey
Since Rex Sinquefield is a billionaire it would seem he would be able to afford the best video possible. But who knows why the upper crust do the things they do? With that in mind I set down at my ‘puter to watch a program on the History channel, or to be specific, H2. The program is “America’s Book Of Secrets” and the episode is “The Billionaire Agenda.” It can be watched on TV or on the internet here: (http://www.history.com/shows/americas-book-of-secrets/videos/the-billionaire-agenda?m=51896f6e2acad)
Although I do not know Rex Sinquefield, he is as near to the super rich as I will probably get, being only one of the six degrees of separation made famous by Kevin Bacon, no kin, as far as I know, although when asked I always lie and say he is a distant cousin! I know Tony Rich, the manager of the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis, having played him in the Missouri state chess championship in 2002, and having visited the aforementioned chess club with the long name. I could not help but think of Rex while watching the program, and what part he plays in the “agenda” of the filthy rich.
I took notes while watching the program and will share them with you. First, there 492 billionaire Americans, with Oprah being the only so-called by the program “African-American,” among the group. Notice there were none called say, “European-American” for example. 152 reside in China and 111 in Russia. Never before in the history of the world has so much wealth been concentrated in so few hands. The number one man on the list, Bill Gates, makes $17,000 a MINUTE! Walmart CEO Mike Duke makes $11,000 an hour. He’s got workers making $8.00 an hour and before he goes to lunch he’s made more than any one of one million Walmart workers make in an entire year. In 1980 an average CEO made 42 times the pay of an average worker. Today an average CEO makes 350 times the rate of an average worker!
What is a billion anything? One billion is a thousand millions. Compare that to one million being a thousand thousands. One million seconds is about 11 and a half days. One billion seconds is about 31 and a half years! One million pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower nearly a mile high. One billion pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower almost 870 miles high. One million ants would weigh a little over six pounds. One billion ants would weight over 3 tons – a little less than the weight of an elephant. One million dollars divided evenly among the U.S. population would mean everyone in the United States would receive about one third of one cent. One billion dollars divided equally among the U.S. population would mean that everyone in the United States would receive about $3.33. If you earn $45,000 a year, it would take 22 years to amass a fortune of one million dollars. If you earn $45,000 a year, it would take 22,000 years to amass a fortune of one billion dollars. It is said that in the not too distant future Bill Gates will become the first trillionaire. One trillion is a thousand billions, or equivalently a million millions. It is a 1 with twelve zeros after it, denoted by 1,000,000,000,000. One trillion seconds is over 31 thousand years. One trillion pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower about 870,000 miles high – the same distance obtained by going to the moon, back to earth, then to the moon again. One trillion ants would weigh over 3000 tons. One trillion dollars divided evenly among the U.S. population would mean that everyone in the United States would receive a little over $3000.
If you spent $10,000 a day it would take you over 300 years to spend the entire sum. It is no wonder Matthew Erich “Mancow” Muller, a talk radio host said he could not wrap his mind around the concept of a billion dollars. Surely his head will explode when Bill Gates becomes the first human to amass one trillion dollars. “Mancow” said, “The only people they can relate to is other billionaires.” Someone said, “They kind of live in their own universe that’s removed from the rest of us, so they’re not grounded in the economic realities he rest of us are.”
Former chessplayer NM Peter Thiel, who has not played since 2004, is among the group of billionaires. One local NM who knew him while living on the left coast can be heard condemning the man for “not giving back by putting money into chess.” Instead, Peter has invested $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, who want to produce floating cities upon which the filthy rich can live while floating around the ocean in order to not have to pay taxes, or have to follow any rules made by nations or states.
In a 5-4 decision on April , 2014, the Supreme Court decided government cannot limit the amount of money donors can give to political candidates, committee’s and parties.
I read about a new sci-fi show last year, “Continuum” and have been watching it. In one of the episodes We The People were demonstrating against a ruling made by the Supremes in which they ruled that corporations were people. The thing about growing old(er) and having read and watched much sci-fi is that one know everything that seemed so much like fiction back then has come to fruition.
In speaking about the huge sums coming into the political arena it was said that no one knows exactly how much money goes to whom because there is no accountability. “It’s all dark money.” that reminded me of the famous interview after 9/11 in which VP Darth Cheney said, “We will have to work on the dark side.”
Then there was this comment, “Billionaires can exert a subtle control over what issues et put on the national agenda. They can choose the issues they care about and make sure they get talked about while others might not.”
“Are the super rich really working together towards a unified, one world agenda?” If so, I would ask Rex the Billionaire if he was chosen to contribute money to chess and if so, why it was he in lieu of NM Peter Thiel, which would seem to make more sense.
It was heard that, “Billionaires are different from us.”
How did Rex Sinquefield become the Daddy Warbucks of chess? From Wikipedia: “In 1981, Sinquefield co-founded Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages more than $310 billion in assets as of September 30, 2013.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rex_Sinquefield)
Consider this from the May 8 column, “Now That’s Rich,” by Noble prize winning economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times:
“But that’s not what those hedge fund managers do for a living; they’re in the business of financial speculation, which John Maynard Keynes characterized as “anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.” Or since they make much of their income from fees, they’re actually in the business of convincing other people that they can anticipate average opinion about average opinion.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/opinion/krugman-now-thats-rich.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0),

Rex did not make anything useful for the human race; he did not invent anything to save lives, or improve conditions on this planet for those less fortunate. He is, basically, what is called in the bible, a “money changer.” Those readers who have read the bible will immediately think of the only time Jesus lost control and threw the money changers out of the temple. If Rex had been in the temple he would surely have been tossed out with them like yesterday’s garbage. So, once again, I ask why is Rex Sinquefield funding chess? What’s in it for him? Coming from a man who is opposed to raising the minimum wage (and why is it that it is always those who have too much who want to limit the take of those who have too little?), and against unions, when the only way We The People have of fighting the upper crust is by organizing, it seems incongruous, to say the least.
The program emphasized the fact that the only thing the upper crust cares about is keeping what they have. I thought of the scene in the movie, “Dr. Zhivago,” when the doctor comes home to find his family mansion has been taken over by We The People, and now there are many families living in the huge house in lieu of just his small family. There is a storm brewing in this country and it don’t take no weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. The Russian intelligence service published recently their prediction of revolution in America. I leave you with these quotes from the great American from the Great State of Virginia, President Thomas Jefferson:
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants .”