Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live
Heaven Help Us All
Marjorie Taylor Greene is running for re-election for the state’s 14th Congressional district of the Great State of Georgia and she is expected to win., which should tell you much about the 14th Congressional district she represents. To many Georgians, including this one, she is an embarrassment. Her usual countenance is that of someone who is mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore.
This writer has only just now finished reading the article being presented in its entirety. The writer of the article is “Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and author of three New York Times best sellers, became an Op-Ed columnist in 1995.
WASHINGTON — Are we ready for our new Republican overlords?
Are we ready for an empowered Marjorie Taylor Greene?
Are we ready for a pumped-up, pistol-packing Lauren Boebert?
“How many AR-15s do you think Jesus would have had?” Boebert asked a crowd at a Christian campaign event in June. I’m going with none, honestly, but her answer was, “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.”
The Denver Post pleaded: “We beg voters in western and southern Colorado not to give Rep. Lauren Boebert their vote.”
The freshman representative has recently been predicting happily that we’re in the end times, “the last of the last days.” If Lauren Boebert is in charge, we may want to be in the end times. I’m feeling not so Rapturous about the prospect.
And then there’s the future first female president, Kari Lake, who lulls you into believing, with her mellifluous voice, statements that seem to emanate from Lucifer. She’s dangerous because, like Donald Trump, she has real skills from her years in TV. And she really believes this stuff, unlike Trump and Kevin McCarthy, who are faking it.
As Cecily Strong said on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, embodying Lake, “If the people of Arizona elect me, I’ll make sure they never have to vote ever again.”
Speaking of “Paradise Lost,” how about Ron DeSantis? The governor of Florida, who’s running for a second term, is airing an ad that suggests that he was literally anointed by God to fight Democrats. God almighty, that’s some high-level endorsement.
Republicans seem to be surging heading into November, with Democrats struggling to break through, as voters turn their focus from abortion to crime and inflation. Even if the polls are as off, as pollsters fear, all signs seem to be pointing toward a strong showing for the G.O.P.
For months now, Times Opinion has been covering how we got here. Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward argued that Democrats abandoned rural America. Alec MacGillis traced how the party ignored the economic decline of the Midwest. And Michelle Cottle described the innovative Republican ground game in South Texas.
Opinion has also been identifying the candidates who could define the future of their party. Sam Adler-Bell captured the bleak nationalism of Blake Masters, the Arizona Republican challenging Senator Mark Kelly. Christopher Caldwell described the transformation of J.D. Vance, the venture capitalist from Ohio who went from Trump critic to proud member of the MAGA faithful. Michelle Goldberg traveled to Washington state to profile Joe Kent, a burgeoning star on the right.
And throughout this election cycle, Opinion has held discussions with groups of experts – hosted by Frank Bruni, Ross Douthat and others – that have followed the season’s twists and turns, from reviewing the primary landscape to a Democratic backlash against the Dobbs decision which gave way to a Republican surge in the fall. And we paused to consider the mysteries of polls and the politically homeless along the way.
Much to our national shame, it looks like these over-the-top and way, way, way out-of-the mainstream Republicans — and the formerly normie and now creepy Republicans who have bent the knee to the wackos out of political expediency — are going to be running the House, maybe the Senate and certainly some states, perhaps even some that Joe Biden won two years ago.
And it looks as if Kevin McCarthy will finally realize his goal of becoming speaker, but when he speaks, it will be Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert doing the spewing. It will be like the devil growling through Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” — except it will be our heads spinning.
Welcome to a rogue’s gallery of crazy: Clay Higgins, who’s spouting conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi, wants to run the House Homeland Security Committee; Paul Gosar, whose own family has begged Arizonans to eject him from Congress, will be persona grata in the new majority.
In North Carolina, Bo Hines, a Republican candidate for the House, wants community panels to decide whether rape victims are able to get abortions or not. He’s building on Dr. Oz’s dictum that local politicians should help make that call. Even Oprah turned on her creation, Dr. Odd.
J.D. Vance, the Yale-educated, former Silicon Valley venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” who called Trump “America’s Hitler” in 2016, before saluting him to gain public office, could join the Senate in January. Talk about American Elegy.
Even though he wrote in his best seller that Yale Law School was his “dream school,” he now trashes the very system that birthed him. Last year, he gave a speech titled “The Universities Are the Enemy”: His mother-in-law is a provost at the University of California San Diego.
It’s disturbing to think of Vance side by side with Herschel Walker.
Walker was backed by Mitch McConnell, who countenanced an obviously troubled and flawed individual even if it meant degrading the once illustrious Senate chamber.
Overall, there are nearly 300 election deniers on the ballot, but they will be all too happy to accept the results if they win.
People voting for these crazies think they’re punishing Biden, Barack Obama and the Democrats. They’re really punishing themselves.
These extreme Republicans don’t have a plan. Their only idea is to get in, make trouble for President Biden, drag Hunter into the dock, start a bunch of stupid investigations, shut down the government, abandon Ukraine and hold the debt limit hostage.
Democrats are partly to blame. They haven’t explained how they plan to get a grip on the things people are worried about: crime and inflation. Voters weren’t hearing what they needed to hear from Biden, who felt morally obligated to talk about the threat to democracy, even though that’s not what people are voting on.
As it turns out, a woman’s right to control her body has been overshadowed by uneasiness over safety and economic security.
To top it off, Trump is promising a return. We’ll see if DeSantis really is the chosen one. In Iowa on Thursday night, Trump urged the crowd to “crush the communists” at the ballot box and said that he was “very, very, very” close to deciding to “do it again.”
Trump, the modern Pandora, released the evil spirits swirling around us — racism, antisemitism, violence, hatred, conspiracy theories, and Trump mini-mes who should be nowhere near the levers of power.
Heaven help us.
The Debate About King Tut’s Tomb Rages On
King Tut Died Long Ago, but the Debate About King Tut’s Tomb Rages On
Maybe the walls are disguising the undiscovered burial chamber of Nefertiti. Or “maybe it’s Al Capone’s safe.”
By Franz Lidz
Oct. 30, 2022
More than three millenniums after Tutankhamun was buried in southern Egypt, and a century after his tomb was discovered, Egyptologists are still squabbling over whom the chamber was built for and what, if anything, lies beyond its walls. The debate has become a global pastime.
‘SNL’ Opens with Emotional Performance From Ukrainian Chorus
The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York sang behind a table of candles that spelled out “Kyiv”
By Ilana Kaplan
While Saturday Night Live more often than not opts for comedy in its cold open, this week, the laughter was on hold.
Given the devastating Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this week’s episode began on a somber note. The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, introduced by Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, performed instead. They delivered a mournful song for the audience with “Prayer for Ukraine” before the camera panned to a table of candles surrounding the name of the Ukrainian capital, “Kyiv.”
According to Ukrainian Weekly, the chorus was founded by Ukrainian immigrants in the 1940s in order to “preserve and cultivate the rich musical heritage of Ukraine.” The decision to feature an emotional tribute from the folk chorus followed the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-news/snl-skips-cold-open-comedy-for-tribute-to-ukraine-while-john-mulaney-enters-five-timer-club-1313279/)
The Address at Gettysburg
On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was four and a half months after the devastating battle, and it was a foggy, cold morning. Lincoln arrived about 10 a.m. Around noon, the sun came out as the crowds gathered on a hill overlooking the battlefield. A military band played, a local preacher offered a long prayer, and the headlining orator, Edward Everett, spoke for more than two hours. Everett described the Battle of Gettysburg in great detail, and he brought the audience to tears more than once. When Everett finished, Lincoln spoke.
Now considered one of the greatest speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address ran for just over two minutes, fewer than 300 words, and only 10 sentences. It was so brief, in fact, that many of the 15,000 people that attended the ceremony didn’t even realize that the president had spoken, because a photographer setting up his camera had momentarily distracted them. The next day, Everett told Lincoln, “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
There are several versions of the speech, and five different manuscript copies; they’re all slightly different, so there’s some argument about which is the “authentic” version. Lincoln gave copies to both of his private secretaries, and the other three versions were re-written by the president some time after he made the speech. The Bliss Copy, named for Colonel Alexander Bliss, is the only copy that was signed and dated by Lincoln, and it’s generally accepted as the official version for that reason. The Bliss text, our poem today, is inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial:
by Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
“Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. Public Domain. https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-november-19-2021/
One of the reasons the address by the President of the divided States of America is now considered “one of the greatest speeches in American history” is its brevity. ‘Back in the day’ other POTUS spent hours speaking, something for which politicians are infamous. Consider the fate of the ninth POTUS:
The president who served the shortest period of time after being elected to office was William Henry Harrison. Harrison was president for only 30 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes before keeling over at age 68. The circumstances under which President Harrison, the first ever to die in office, died are disputed until this day.
Harrison was elected in 1840 running as a rugged, tested and weathered war hero. The day that Harrison was sworn into office was rainy and cold, and to make matters worse, the newly elected president chose to deliver his entire 8,444-word speech to the assembled crowd (and this was after it had been edited for length by a friend). The speech, which still ranks as the longest inaugural speech in American history, took two hours to read. Perhaps this was not the smartest choice in retrospect. Also not so smart of him: refusing to wear a hat or even a coat in the pouring rain.
A month later he was dead of pneumonia, which he may have contracted while he was savoring every moment of his inauguration day out in the rain. It’s unclear whether he came down with the illness at the inauguration or afterwards, but what is known is that the cures of the day, which included opium, snakes and caster oil.
His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, later became the 23rd president of the United States. On the day that the younger Harrison was sworn in, he reportedly wore a full suit of leather armor— just in case. He lived on to serve a complete term, although later ironically died of pneumonia as well. (https://forgottenhistoryblog.com/the-9th-us-president-died-of-pneumonia-which-he-may-have-caught-at-his-own-inauguration-ceremony/)
There have been many critics of the short speech given at Getttysburg.
My Great-Great-Grandfather Hated the Gettysburg Address. Now He’s Famous For It
It’s hard to imagine anyone could pan Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, but one cantankerous reporter did just that
November 18, 2013
Late last week, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper, now called the Patriot-News, issued a tongue-in-cheek retraction of its 150-year-old snub of President Abraham Lincoln’s heralded Gettysburg Address. The editorial page informed its readers:
“Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.”
The editors mused that their predecessors had likely been “under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink.” Waiving the statute of limitations, the newspaper ended its announcement in time-honored fashion: “The Patriot-News regrets the error.” The news was picked up by a wide swath of publications, but none were more surprising than the appearance of a “Jebidiah Atkinson” on “Saturday Night Live:”
But of course there was no “Jebidiah Atkinson.” The author of the thumbs-down review was Oramel Barrett, editor of what was then called the Daily Patriot and Union. He was my great-great-grandfather.
The “few appropriate remarks” President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver at the dedication of a national cemetery in Gettysburg are remembered today as a masterpiece of political oratory. But that’s not how Oramel viewed them back in 1863.
“We pass over the silly remarks of the President,” he wrote in his newspaper. “For the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.”
My ancestor’s misadventure in literary criticism has long been a source of amusement at family gatherings (and now one for the entire nation.) How could the owner-editor of a daily in a major state capital have been so utterly tone deaf about something this momentous?
Oddly enough, Oramel’s put-down of the Gettysburg Address—though a minority view in the Union at the time—didn’t stand out as especially outrageous at the time. Reaction to the speech was either worshipful or scornful, depending on one’s party affiliation. The Republicans were the party of Lincoln, while the Democrats were the more or less loyal opposition (though their loyalty was often questioned).
Here’s the Chicago Times, a leading Democratic paper: “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat dishwatery utterances of a man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”
It wasn’t just the Democrats. Here’s the Times of London: “The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln.”
In the South, naturally, Lincoln was vilified as a bloodthirsty tyrant. But his opponents in the North could be almost as harsh. For years, much of the Democratic press had portrayed him as an inept, awkward, nearly illiterate bumpkin who surrounded himself with sycophants and responded to crises with pointless, long-winded jokes. My ancestor’s newspaper routinely referred to Lincoln as “the jester.”
Like Oramel Barrett, those who loathed Lincoln the most belonged to the radical wing of the Democratic Party. Its stronghold was Pennsylvania and the Midwest. The radical Democrats were not necessarily sympathetic to the Confederacy, nor did they typically oppose the war—most viewed secession as an act of treason, after all. Horrified by the war’s gruesome slaughter, however, they urged conciliation with the South, the sooner the better.
To the Lincoln-bashers, the president was using Gettysburg to kick off his re-election campaign—and showing the poor taste to do so at a memorial service. According to my bilious great-great-grandfather, he was performing “in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the Nation and the honor of the dead.”
Worse, for Lincoln’s opponents, was a blatant flaw in the speech itself. In just 10 sentences, it advanced a new justification for the war. Indeed, its first six words—”Four score and seven years ago”—were enough to arouse the fury of Democratic critics.
A little subtraction shows that Lincoln was referring not to 1787, when the Constitution, with its careful outlining of federal rights and obligations (and tacit acceptance of slavery), was drawn up, but to 1776, when the signers of the Declaration of Independence had proclaimed that “all men are created equal.”
The Union war effort had always been aimed at defeating Southern states that had rebelled against the United States government. If white Southerners wanted to own black slaves, many in the North felt, that was not an issue for white Northern boys to die for.
Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the start of 1863. Now, at Gettysburg, he was following through, declaring the war a mighty test of whether a nation dedicated to the idea of personal liberty “shall have a new birth of freedom.” This, he declared, was the cause for which the thousands of Union soldiers slain here in July “gave the last full measure of devotion.” He was suggesting, in other words, that the troops had died to ensure that the slaves were freed.
To radical Northern Democratics, Dishonest Abe was pulling a bait-and-switch. His speech was “an insult” to the memories of the dead, the Chicago Times fumed: “In its misstatement of the cause for which they died, it was a perversion of history so flagrant that the most extended charity cannot regard it as otherwise than willful.” Worse, invoking the Founding Fathers in his cause was nothing short of libelous. “They were men possessing too much self-respect,” the Times assured its readers, “to declare that negroes were their equals.”
Histories have generally played down the prevalence of white racism north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The reality was that Northerners, even Union soldiers battling the Confederacy, had mixed feelings about blacks and slavery. Many, especially in the Midwest, abhorred abolitionism, which they associated with sanctimonious New Englanders. Northern newspaper editors warned that truly freeing the South’s slaves and, worse, arming them would lead to an all-out race war.
That didn’t happen, of course. It took another year and a half of horrific fighting, but the South surrendered on the North’s terms—and by the time Lee met Grant at Appomattox in April 1865, both houses of Congress had passed the 13th Amendment, banning slavery. With Lincoln’s assassination just six days later, the criticism ceased. For us today, Lincoln is the face on Mount Rushmore, and the Gettysburg Address one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.
Doug Stewart also wrote about his cantankerous great-great-grandfather, Oramel Barrett, in the November 2013 issue of America’s Civil War. (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/my-great-great-grandfather-hated-the-gettysburg-address-150-years-later-hes-famous-for-it-180947746/)
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, If He Had Been More Honest
Gary North – January 06, 2021
At the ceremony honoring half of the fallen dead at Gettysburg, Lincoln delivered a speech justifying the slaughter. It became the most memorable speech in American history — surely the most famous Presidential speech. I had to memorize it in the fifth grade in 1952, in the town of Marietta, Ohio.
We need to remember it for what it really was: a political speech. Political speeches are not noted for their full disclosure. So, I have re-written it. Here is the Gettysburg Address, decoded in terms of Republican Party politics in the fall of 1863.
Here is the text.
Back in 1776, a group of regional politicians launched an illegal revolt in North America to create a far more lucrative tax jurisdiction, which was then sold to the voters by the marketing slogan of “liberty.” It was officially dedicated to the proposition that all males are created equal, other than kidnapped Africans and their descendants.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether this tax jurisdiction, or any tax jurisdiction so justified and so marketed, can long endure, especially in the face of another group of regional politicians who are trying to pull off a similar stunt in the name of the same slogan.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for members of the Union Army who here gave their lives, that this tax jurisdiction might expand. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not sanctify this ground. Half of the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which half of those who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this jurisdiction, under penalty of perjury, shall have a new birth of revenues, and that government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations, shall not perish from the earth. (https://www.garynorth.com/public/21752.cfm)
The Girls Chess Game
Credit…National Museum, Poznan
“WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR SOME ALL-GIRLS’ OR WOMEN’S CHESS TOURNAMENTS?”
The complete video above can be watched here:
“Jane, you ignorant slut.”
In the event you are too young to recall the now immortal words from the title of this post, they were uttered with disdain by Dan Akyroyd to Jane Curtain on the Saturday Night Live program decades ago as a skit that was a take-off on the “60 Minutes” segment “Point/Counterpoint” between “conservative” James J. Kilpatrick and “liberal” Shana Alexander. I thought of it as left-shoe, right shoe; the ol’ two step, double shuffle. What the two commentators gave was two differing views of the establishment. When Dan spoke those words to Jane it was so unexpected one was so taken aback that it took a few moments before the laughter began.
I am currently enrolled in a study at Emory University. When being questioned by the Doctor with a PhD I mentioned that I had participated in similar studies at Georgia Tech by a young fellow working on his PhD, Zach Hambrick, who was now at a University up north I thought was Minnesota. “I know Zach,” he said, “but he is at Michigan State.” He got a kick out of the fact that Zach would schedule my appointment at the Psychology department, which was across from Chandler field, the baseball diamond, so I could walk over after finishing and watch a game.
Yesterday as I was perusing the Daily Chess News Links July 1, 2014 on the Chess Cafe website (http://blog.chesscafe.com/?m=201407) I noticed the penultimate link, “10,000 hours to genius theory questioned,” and clicked on. The article dated 30 June 2014 is by Jane Bainbridge. It begins, “The research was led by David Hambrick and looked at studies of chess players that provided information on people’s highest ability level achieved along with their history of practice. They found that between 2005 and 2012 six studies had been done, involving more than 1000 players internationally in total.”
Could it be the young man I knew as Zach? Yes, indeed, I discovered it was none other than Zach! Jane continues, “On average, the amount of deliberate practice accounted for 34% of variance in chess ability, which although an impressive proportion, was insufficient to explain why some players achieved greatness and others didn’t. And there was a huge range in the deliberate practice completed by players of different standards. One study, looking purely at grandmasters found the range of practice they’d invested was between 832 and 24,284 hours. Looking at players who achieved only intermediate level, 13% of them had completed more practice than the average amount invested by the grandmasters.” (http://www.research-live.com/news/10000-hours-to-genius-theory-questioned/4011897.article)
Further research revealed a debate on “The Creativity Post” between Zach and author David Shenk, known to the chess world for his book, “The Immortal Game” called “superb” by the Wall Street Journal (I concur). I read the post by Zach, “Intelligence Matters for Success, Like it or Not” (http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/debate/intelligence_matters_for_success_like_it_or_not) first. Who is Zach Hambrick? “David Z. (Zach) Hambrick is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. Dr. Hambrick’s research focuses on individual differences in basic cognitive abilities and capacities and their role in skilled performance. Dr. Hambrick received his Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology (2000). His work has appeared in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Cognitive Psychology, and Memory & Cognition, among other scholarly journals. Dr. Hambrick was the 2000 recipient of the James McKeen Cattell Award for Best Dissertation in Psychology from the New York Academy of Sciences, and is a consulting editor for Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.” http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/debate/intelligence_matters_for_success_like_it_or_not#sthash.unEtiCg5.dpuf
Zach writes, “How do people become great at what they do? What separates the best from the rest in music, science, art, sports, and so on? This question has been a topic of intense debate in psychology for as long as psychology has been a field. Francis Galton surveyed genealogical records of hundreds of scientists, artists, musicians, writers and other eminent individuals and discovered that they tended to be biologically related. Galton therefore concluded that “genius” is hereditary. The debate rages on.”
“The deliberate practice view has attracted a great deal of attention in the scientific community, and beyond. In his bestselling book “Outliers,” for example, the writer Malcolm Gladwell describes 10,000 hours as the “magic number” of greatness. At the same time, a vast and venerable literature documents the importance of basic abilities for success in a wide variety of complex tasks.”
Included in his post is a link to a New York Times Op-Ed “Sorry, Strivers. Talent Matters, by David Z. Hambrick and Elizabeth J. Meinz” dated November 19, 2011. They began the article with a question, “HOW do people acquire high levels of skill in science, business, music, the arts and sports? This has long been a topic of intense debate in psychology.
Research in recent decades has shown that a big part of the answer is simply practice — and a lot of it. In a pioneering study, the Florida State University psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues asked violin students at a music academy to estimate the amount of time they had devoted to practice since they started playing. By age 20, the students whom the faculty nominated as the “best” players had accumulated an average of over 10,000 hours, compared with just under 8,000 hours for the “good” players and not even 5,000 hours for the least skilled.
Those findings have been enthusiastically championed, perhaps because of their meritocratic appeal: what seems to separate the great from the merely good is hard work, not intellectual ability. Summing up Mr. Ericsson’s research in his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell observes that practice isn’t “the thing you do once you’re good” but “the thing you do that makes you good.” He adds that intellectual ability — the trait that an I.Q. score reflects — turns out not to be that important. “Once someone has reached an I.Q. of somewhere around 120,” he writes, “having additional I.Q. points doesn’t seem to translate into any measureable real-world advantage.”
David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, restates this idea in his book “The Social Animal,” while Geoff Colvin, in his book “Talent Is Overrated,” adds that “I.Q. is a decent predictor of performance on an unfamiliar task, but once a person has been at a job for a few years, I.Q. predicts little or nothing about performance.”
But this isn’t quite the story that science tells. Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point.”
They point out how research has shown “…that “working memory capacity,” a core component of intellectual ability, predicts success in a wide variety of complex activities.”
They conclude their refutation of Malcom Gladwell, and those who follow his convoluted and discredited theory with, ” It would be nice if intellectual ability and the capacities that underlie it were important for success only up to a point. In fact, it would be nice if they weren’t important at all, because research shows that those factors are highly stable across an individual’s life span. But wishing doesn’t make it so.
None of this is to deny the power of practice. Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It’s just unlikely, relatively speaking. Sometimes the story that science tells us isn’t the story we want to hear.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/sorry-strivers-talent-matters.html?_r=2&)
I next read, “Response to Zach Hambrick” by David Schenk. His post begins, “Thanks for the opportunity to join this discussion. In order to point the way to the fullest possible answer of “How do people become great at what they do?” I suggest that we first need to pull back and ask a few even more basic questions, such as:
– Where do abilities come from?
– What is intelligence?
– What is innate?
– What does “heritable” mean?
I’m obviously not going to tackle all of these giant topics right now.”
Well, why not?! I will let you read what Mr. Schenk has to say (http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/debate/response_to_zach_hambrick).
I would, though, like to add the last paragraph written by David:
“But there’s also something very beautiful in the science I see — including Ericsson’s wonderful work. It is this: with the exception of people born with severe defects, most every human being has, at the moment of conception, an extraordinary potential. We are biologically designed to adapt to our circumstances. People become great at what they do when they have some sort of very deep and constant need to be great.”
I would like to focus on the last sentence. I played baseball for a decade, from the ages of ten to eighteen. I had a “very deep and constant need to be great.” I spent far more than 10,000 hours practicing and playing the game of baseball. I had everything required to play baseball except size and strength. I was good enough to have been offered a contract by both the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets to play minor league baseball, but the scout for the Cards told me, “You are good enough to play at double A, but will probably ride the pine at triple A, but you could have a job in baseball such as coach or manager, or maybe be a scout.” The part that stuck with me was “ride the pine.” I had never sat on the bench and the prospect did not sound appealing to me, so I stopped playing baseball.
I cannot help but think of the book “Moneyball,” which was made into a movie, and the General Manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt. Billy had been an outstanding baseball player, one who “had all the tools.” Yet he did not make it to “The Show.” He tells the story of facing a flame throwing pitcher whom he did not want to face again. On the other hand, his teammate, Lenny Dykstra, nicknamed “Nails,” grabbed a bat saying, “Let me at ’em. I’ll hit that expletive deleted!” Lenny, a much smaller man than Billy, made “The Show,” and had some very good seasons, even if it took “the juice” to do it. Like Pete Rose, Lenny has had a difficult time out of baseball, and last I heard was in prison.
Pete Rose did not have all the tools, but he had a burning desire to play baseball. His nickname was “Charley Hustle.” I tried my best to emulate his “all-out” style of play. Pete holds the MLB record for most hits, lifetime. There have been many MLB players with more talent, but none with more base-hits. Then there was Eddie Stanky, a player about whom the infamous Leo Durocher said, “He can’t hit; he can’t throw; and he cannot run. All he can do is beat you.”
“People become great at what they do when they have some sort of very deep and constant need to be great.” Does that not sound like Bobby Fischer?
There was a young man upon whom the Legendary Georgia Ironman hung the moniker, “Little Hayseed,” because he wore a straw hat. “Hayseed” came into the tournament world with a low rating and won money in every section until he made it to class “A,” where he found the going tough. Then he stopped playing. Xiao Cheng began at a young age, becoming a NM and won the Georgia State Championship. Then he was not seen for some time, until one night he came to the House of Pain. I asked him why he had stopped playing chess and he was honest enough to inform me that he gave it up because he did not like losing. Stephan Muhammad was a strong Senior Master who also won the Georgia State Championship. He lost five games at the 6TH NORTH AMERICAN FIDE in Chicago in November of 2007, then played in three tournaments in Atlanta, and that was the end of the tournament road for him. He was a Life Master who topped out at 2468, but then went into a nosedive (http://main.uschess.org/datapage/ratings_graph.php?memid=12355370).
I have often wondered if players such as these played because they loved winning, not playing. Marshall Jaffe, may he R.I.P., was a Senior who played at the Atlanta Chess Center in one of the lower sections. I noticed Marshall always used most of his time and once complimented him for it. “It takes me longer to make my bad moves,” he said. Then he added, grinning, “I just love to play the game.”
Is that not why the game is played? I have enjoyed a hard fought loss more than some “walkovers” I have played. The thing about chess is that it used to be that one could always find someone to battle of about the same strength. Until, that is, what is now called the “youth movement.” Most of the players who “just loved to play the game” have found other pursuits, to the detriment of chess. We cannot all be winners, but chess is the loser when people stop playing.