Feedback From Mulfish

I received an email in response to the previous post from my friend Michael Mulford, a Republican, tonight. If you are wondering how I could possibly have a friend who is a Republican, the answer is that my Mother was a Republican, “God bless her heart”, as we say here down South. When we would talk politics my father would say, “Argue, argue, argue, that’s all you two do.” Mother responded with, “We’re not arguing, Ronald. We are having a heated discussion!”

Michael Mulford
To:Michael Bacon

Sat, Mar 21 at 9:22 PM

“Actually, four Senators are known to have engaged in this behavior, not just these two. One of them has called for an ethics investigation into their actions. One of the four is a Democrat.

I’ve heard that members of Congress are exempt from the insider trading legislation (I don’t know if that is true) and that the holdings are in blind trusts. But I’ve also heard that the husbands do have some measure of control over those trusts.

By any account, this smells and ought to be thoroughly investigated. And if the GOP wants to hold the GA Senate seat, they would do well to nominate someone else.”

Thought I would share the answer with you. Please read the entire article as this is only an excerpt taken from the article:

Update: Several readers have asked about the other senators who sold stock during the same period, including Dianne Feinstein (a California Democrat), James Inhofe (an Oklahoma Republican) and Ron Johnson (a Wisconsin Republican). But none of their trades look particularly suspicious.

Feinstein has said that she did not attend the Jan. 24 briefing; her stock was in a blind trust, which means she didn’t make the decision to sell; and the transaction lost her money, because the trust was selling shares of a biotechnology stock, the value of which has since risen. Inhofe’s transactions were part of a systematic selling of stocks that he started after he became chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Johnson sold stock in his family’s plastic business, as part of a process that has been occurring for months; his sale also occurred well after stock market began falling.

Jeff Blehar of National Review has a helpful summary on Twitter, in which he argues Burr’s transactions are the worst.

Loeffler, who is extremely wealthy and married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, frequently sells stock and has said “multiple third-party advisors” — not her or her husband — made the decision to sell shares in January and in February.

(I must interject here to print something the Mulfish must have missed in the previous post:

“Ms. Loeffler, who also sits on the Health Committee, is in a similarly sticky situation. On the very day of the committee’s coronavirus briefing, she began her own stock sell-off, as originally reported by The Daily Beast. Over the next three weeks, she shed between $1,275,000 and $3.1 million worth of stock, much of it jointly owned with her husband, who is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Of Ms. Loeffler’s 29 transactions, 27 were sales. One of her two purchases was of a technology company that provides teleworking software. That stock has appreciated in recent weeks, as so many companies have ordered employees to work from home.”

Only a Republican would believe those trading stocks for the Loeffler’s “just happened” to make trades of this nature without being tipped off. If you do believe the woman then please get in touch with me IMMEDIATELY because I have a great deal for you on some swamp land in Florida.)

 

The notion that Feinstein or Johnson did something unethical, Belhar wrote, is “flat wrong.” Don Moynihan of Georgetown University agrees.

Burr’s response on Friday morning was not strong. He said that he relied on only “public news reports” about the crisis, like CNBC’s reporting from Asia, a claim that’s impossible to verify. He also said he had asked the Senate Ethics Committee to open “a complete review.”

For more …

Tucker Carlson, Fox News:

[Burr] had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn’t warn the public. He didn’t give a prime-time address. He didn’t go on television to sound the alarm. He didn’t even disavow an op-ed he’d written just 10 days before claiming America was ‘better prepared than ever’ for coronavirus. He didn’t do any of those things. Instead, what did he do? He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money, and then he stayed silent. Now maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate …

Molly Knight: “Richard Burr should not hold government office by Monday. He needs to resign today.”

David French, The Dispatch: “The potential insider trading is dreadful and possibly criminal, but what could elevate this to a historic scandal is the idea that senators may have known enough to be alarmed for themselves yet still projected rosy scenarios to the public AND failed to make sure we were ready.”

David Frum of The Atlantic wants to know who else may have sold stock: “What did the Trump family sell, and when did they sell it?”

The Times editorial board argued in December that “members of Congress should not be allowed to buy and sell stocks, or to serve on corporate boards.”

In 2012, Robert Reich notes, Burr was one of only a small number of members to vote against a law that barred them for trading on inside information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There Is A Gangster In The White House

A Gangster in the White House

The president tweeted the name of the presumed whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal—demonstrating that he is unrepentant and determined to break the law again.
December 28, 2019
David Frum
Staff writer at The Atlantic

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question from the news media as he sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis – RC19D2A20E00

Amid a two-day binge of post-Christmas rage-tweeting, President Donald Trump retweeted the name of the CIA employee widely presumed to be the whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal. On Thursday night, December 26, Trump retweeted his campaign account, which had tweeted a link to a Washington Examiner article that printed the name in the headline. Then, in the early hours of Friday morning, December 27, Trump retweeted a supporter who named the presumed whistle-blower in the text of the tweet.

This is a step the president has been building toward for some time. The name of the presumed whistle-blower has been circulating among Trump supporters for months. Trump surrogates—including the president’s eldest son—have posted the name on social media and discussed it on television. Yet actually crossing the line to post the name on the president’s own account? Until this week, Trump hesitated. That red line has now been crossed.

Lawyers debate whether the naming of the federal whistle-blower is in itself illegal. Federal law forbids inspectors general to disclose the names of whistle-blowers, but the law isn’t explicit about disclosure by anybody else in government.

What the law does forbid is retaliation against a whistle-blower. And a coordinated campaign of vilification by the president’s allies—and the president himself—surely amounts to “retaliation” in any reasonable understanding of the term.

While the presumed whistle-blower reportedly remains employed by the government, he is also reportedly subject to regular death threats, including at least implicit threat by Trump himself. Trump was recorded in September telling U.S. diplomats in New York: “Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call—heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw—they’re almost a spy. I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Trump’s tweeting in the past two days was so frenzied and the sources quoted were so bizarre—including at least four accounts devoted to the Pizzagate-adjacent conspiracy theory QAnon, as well as one that describes former President Barack Obama as “Satan’s Muslim scum”—as to renew doubts about the president’s mental stability. But Trump’s long reticence about outright naming the presumed whistle-blower suggests that he remained sufficiently tethered to reality to hear and heed a lawyer’s advice. He disregarded that advice in full awareness that he was disregarding it. The usual excuse for Trump’s online abusiveness—he’s counterpunching—amounts in this case not to a defense but to an indictment: Counterpunching literally means retaliating, and retaliation is what is forbidden by federal law.

The presumed whistle-blower’s personal remedy for the president’s misconduct is a private lawsuit for monetary damages against the federal government. It’s hard to see how such a lawsuit would do anybody any good. The presumed whistle-blower still draws a salary, and may not have suffered any material costs at all. The presumed whistle-blower’s ultimate compensation for this ordeal should be a future place of honor in the service of the country.

In the meantime, though, the country is left once again with the problem of a president who refuses to obey the law. Trump is organizing from the White House a conspiracy to revenge himself on the person who first alerted the country that Trump was extorting Ukraine to help his reelection: more lawbreaking to punish the revelation of past lawbreaking. Impeaching a president whose party holds a majority in the Senate obviously presents many grave practical difficulties. But Trump’s post-Christmas mania confirms House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prediction that Trump would impeach himself.

Donald Trump will not be bound by any rule, even after he has been caught. He is unrepentant and determined to break the rules again—in part by punishing those who try to enforce them. He is a president with the mind of a gangster, and as long as he is in office, he will head a gangster White House.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/12/donald-trumps-gangster-white-house/604216/

Mr. President

Bushwick Bill

Bushwick Bill, performing at Los Angeles State Historic Park on August 5, 2018. The rapper died June 9, 2019 following an earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Yes
We’re here to talk about those who
Are considered to be an elected official
Who said it was official that when they was elected
That everything that they dealt with had me in mind
As a human being, as a man
But not as a slave or three fifths human
I have the right to bear arms
What makes you think I respect you?

[ VERSE 1: 3D ]
Hello Mr. President, residents of the White House, excuse me
I’d like to know, have you ever enjoyed an old-time gangster movie?
With the white man ringin shots on blocks
With their clean shave and pin strip-suits
Bootleggin-whiskey-rapin-black-women-and-havin-a-fat-stack-of-loot
Undercover David Duke, isn’t it true
The gangster movement started long before my time
Long before the hair rag, gangster sag
Finger signs and love for nines?
Damn, in your minds and in your hearts
Is the hate really that deep, what’s truly goin on?
Knockin me for the words I write
For writin movie scripts by whites like Mr. Al Capone

[ Bushwick Bill ]
Yeah
America
A land that made Christopher Columbus
A historian for bringing madmen, white slaves, and rapists
Kennedy, his dad was a bootlegger for Al Capone
Became President
Isn’t it evident
That those who sit in the residence
Are not president?

[ VERSE 2: 3D ]
Now why you want to try to knock me
Cause I’m black, got a gat
Twist my hat and all, listen to Mr. Scarface
Think about the way the government wants to hold us back
As a matter of fact
I believe the whole system is a huge crime scene
And everyday they’re doin the dirty work
And layin it on us niggas, if you know what I mean
So don’t corrupt your own minds foolin yourself
Tryin to lay it on the black man
I’m a young gee tryin to leave poverty
With a gat in my black hand
So white heathen, taken straight out of
The crate of a mouth of a babe
Yeah, a honkey can’t stop what a honkey started
And the ghetto’s what you honkeys made

[ Bushwick Bill ]
That’s right, sittin up there in the White House
With your homosexual mentalities and female persuasions
Yeah, I’m talkin to all the J. Edgar Hoovers
That are still left in there
All the big brothers that are watching
I hope you’re listenin
Cause the bad shit you put on criminals has made the citizens take control

[ VERSE 3: 3D ]
Now Sergeant hit ya, get with ya
Let’s get back to the issue, continue dissin
My way of livin, so a little nigga like me
Gots to go and dish ya this mission
Hopin that the message that I’m sendin
Gets through to you and your people
Devil, look at your own dirty past
Before you come to me with your blue-eyed evil
If I kill 30 innocent, would you write
A movie about me and spare
My life, or would you lock me up with triple life
And strap me down in the electric chair?
See, it’s not about the sign I throw up
Or where I roam, or what a nigga wear
See cracker, it’s all about respect for your hood
Your clique, and all of those whose pain with you share

[ Bushwick Bill ]
That’s right, pain
The pain that I feel
Is the pain from shame
The shame that you’ve caused me
For over 400 years of protection
The pain that I have within me
The rage that is flaming
Makes me want to say the things that I say
Do the things that I do
And let you know
That when you look at me
Or look down at me
Or look across from your side of the world to my side
That what you have failed to realize
Is that you’ve put me in projects
I realize it was an experiment
So when you put me in jail
I realize I just made it through the millions
I’m just another rat that made my cheese
And you couldn’t stand it
But what can all the big cats do
When all the rats want to get fat
But try to cut down on the cheese
What you don’t realize is that you’re jerkin yourself
Killin your own existence
You’re all walking dead men, and don’t know it
With book sense and street sense
If you had street intelligence
You would really know
That you’re one footstep between life and death
That the mouth is a open grave
And you’ve offered me the right to elect you to a bullet
Which is a straight shot to the top, right?
And what goes up must come down
That’s why it’s goin down right now
You can smell the smoke
See the flames
And see the bodies that are left on the ground
Because the flag
Red, white and blue
And the stars from all the years you’ve whupped me and mines
I still see

Written by: SHAWN PHILLIPS

Lyrics © PHILIPSONGS

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/988155/Bushwick+Bill/Mr.+President

Kid Chess Champions Share Their Secrets

The Atlantic Selects

Kid Chess Champions Share Their Secrets

Sep 23, 2019 | 780 videos

Video by Jenny Schweitzer Bell

The benefits of teaching chess to children are manifold. Studies suggest that the cognitive-boosting board game, which has endured around the world for more than 15 centuries, improves a child’s visual memory, attention span, spatial-reasoning ability, critical thinking, mental discipline, creativity, math skills, and logical reasoning. One study found that children who played chess scored an average of 10 percentage points higher on reading scores than their peers who didn’t play.

In the short documentary The Magic of Chess, which premieres on The Atlantic today, a cadre of pint-size chess champions reveals how the practice has enriched their lives. The director Jenny Schweitzer Bell shot the film on location at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championships, a high-stakes tournament held annually in Nashville. In attendance—and interviewed in the film—was Tani Adewumi, the 8-year-old Nigerian refugee who, while living in a homeless shelter with his family, beat elite-private-school kids in the New York Chess Championships.

https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/598621/kids-chess/?te=1&nl=morning-briefing&emc=edit_NN_p_20190927&section=whatElse?campaign_id=9&instance_id=12684&segment_id=17389&user_id=18e7af34654ede38efc99f1008b18b46&regi_id=85788087ion=whatElse

Board Games Are Back!

An article in The Atlantic magazine, The Invasion of the German Board Games attracted my attention because a “like” in my inbox recently was on my mind.

Below the title of the article by Jonathan Kay, dated Jan 21, 2018, one finds: Their peaceful premises and intricate rule systems are changing the way Americans play—and helping shape an industry in the process.

“In a development that would have been hard to imagine a generation ago, when video games were poised to take over living rooms, board games are thriving. Overall, the latest available data shows that U.S. sales grew by 28 percent between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2017. Revenues are expected to rise at a similar rate into the early 2020s—largely, says one analyst, because the target audience “has changed from children to adults,” particularly younger ones.

Much of this success is traceable to the rise of games that, well, get those adults acting somewhat more like children. Clever, low-overhead card games such as Cards Against Humanity, Secret Hitler, and Exploding Kittens (“A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions”) have sold exceptionally well.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/01/german-board-games-catan/550826/

Secret Hitler? Exploding Kittens? To me a board game would be Backgammon, Chess, or Go. Who knows, maybe in the future there will be an Exploding Chess game on the market…

My inbox contained this: Gamer On Board liked your post on Armchair Warrior

They thought Rethinking Opening Strategy was pretty awesome.

You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours!

They (also) thought “They’re here” was pretty awesome.

I always “go see what they’re up to” if someone likes a post. For the next seven days Gamer On Board is having a “Super Sale up to 80% off all items!”

They have all kinds of board games for sale, including a Ches set! Check them out. Be sure to tell them the Armchair Warrior sent you.

https://gameronboard.com/

7. The Game

Your life defined by many lies
You dwell in your own words
Distant from all that’s real
Gaze into the mirror
And behold the Face of a player

A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game
A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game of life

In some situations once so common
And then disappointed stabbed those
That once aided you in the back
Seeking truth in a glass

A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game
A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game of life

Aggressive and disappointed
You roam through life
Tossing away
Your whole future for a
Small illusion in your head

A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game
A game of life – the game of life
A game with your life – the game of life

Girly Girls and Girly Men

In an article in the Atlantic dated August 6, 2013, “Soccer Isn’t for Girly-Girls? How Parents Pick the Sports Their Daughters Play,” by Hilary Levy Friedman, (http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/08/soccer-isnt-for-girly-girls-how-parents-pick-the-sports-their-daughters-play/278386/), the question is posed, “Should a girl do soccer, dance, or chess?” The answer is given immediately with, “It depends on what kind of woman her mom and dad want her to become.”
The article is based on her book, Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, which is to be published by the University of California Press later this month. She writes, “Over the course of 16 months I interviewed nearly 200 parents, children, and teachers/coaches involved with these competitive after-school activities in six different organizations, three in the suburbs and three in an urban setting. While boys were also part of the larger study, what I found about girls and competition was especially intriguing for what it says about who these young women might grow up to become.”
There is little mention of boys in the Atlantic article or any of the others I have read, such as this one at the Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2386335/How-parents-pick-school-activities-daughters-compete-based-kind-woman-want-be.html. The author will “make the rounds” just as most all writers do, appearing on shows like “Fresh Air” on NPR, and Book TV. The book will no doubt prompt much discussion.
Ms. Friedman writes, “Unlike masculinity, multiple forms of femininity are seen as acceptable by parents and by children, so it’s not surprising that different gender scripts emerged for each of the three activities. The names of these different gender scripts–“graceful,” “aggressive,” and “pink”–all came from language used by parents of girls in interviews. They help us understand how parents choose among different activities for their daughters.”
I grew up in a home with three women, my mother and two sisters. Mother wanted my sisters to learn something about automobiles and me to learn how to survive in a kitchen. Friends and family thought my mother a crazy radical, even though she was a Goldwater Republican. There was a battle when my mother wanted to learn how to drive. My father was, naturally, against the idea, as were all the other men in our world. After learning to drive, mother wanted next to go to a night school in order to learn how to repair automobiles. My parents compromised, with mother obtaining a car after promising to not go to a Technical school. Women’s liberation was just beginning then and the thought of women being “liberated” frightened the men, who much preferred their woman the way Mick Jagger preferred his women-under his thumb.
I have taught chess to girls with individual lessons, in after school programs, and during chess camps. I have often wondered why the parents wanted their girl to learn how to play chess. Reading these articles has given me a clue. For example, one father is afraid his little girl will grow to become a “girly-girl.” From the article, “One father, whose older son plays travel soccer and whose seven-year-old daughter is already a member of a training academy team, captures the core elements of the aggressive girls gender script: de-emphasizing physical femininity, focusing on future career opportunities, and cultivating a winning attitude. He is concerned that his daughter has a tendency to be too feminine and not aggressive enough:
I encourage her to be more aggressive because she’s a cute little girl, but I don’t like her to be a girly girl. . . . You know, I don’t want her to be a cheerleader–nothing against that–but I want her to prepare to have the option, if she wants to be an executive in a company, that she can play on that turf. And if she’s kind of a girly girl, maybe she’ll be a secretary.”
Being a cheerleader did not prevent George “Dubya” Bush from being selected POTUS by the Supremes, unfortunately. He made it to being the chief executive of the US in spite of the fact he was a “girly-man” as the Governator would say.
When the article gets to chess the girls are called, “Pink Warrior Girls.” Who knows, it could be that in about forty or fifty years a woman will be writing a chess blog called the “Pink Armchair Warrior.” Pink warrior girls are, “Like soccer girls, chess girls are encouraged to be aggressive. But this aggression is slightly different because chess is not a physical game. Unlike dance and soccer, chess is a primarily a mental competition, so physical femininity is not an issue at competitive events. With the lack of physicality, the femininity associated with chess is more inclusive. Chess promotes a hybrid gender script for the small group of girls who participate. These girls learn to be aggressive, but they also can focus on a feminine appearance if they so choose. Chess allows girls to be what one mother of two sons described to me as a “pink girl”: “These girls have princess T-shirts on. [They have] rhinestones and bows in their hair–and they beat boys. And the boys come out completely deflated. That’s the kind of thing I think is so funny. That girl Carolyn, I call her the killer chess player. She has bows in her hair, wears dresses, everything is pink, Barbie backpack, and she plays killer chess.”
That a winning girl can look so feminine has an especially strong effect on boys, and their parents. A chess mom described how a father reacted negatively when his son lost to her daughter: “The father came out and was shocked. He said, ‘You let a girl beat you!’ ”
Susan Polgar, who has become unofficial spokeswoman for girl chess, is quoted in the article. “For people affiliated with scholastic chess, it matters that the game is not physical. For example, when I spoke with Susan Polgar–the first female Grandmaster, a leading advocate for girls in chess, and an author on gender and chess–she said the fact that chess is not a physical game is important in its promoting gender equality: “Well, I think girls need to understand that, yes, they have equal potential to boys. I think that chess is a wonderful tool as an intellectual activity, where girls can prove that unlike in physical sports, because by nature maybe boys are stronger or faster, in chess women can prove equal.”
She may be right and eventually women may prove to be equal to men in chess, but it has yet to occur. Only one woman in the history of chess has proven to be equal to men, and it is not Susan Polgar, but her sister, Judit. It is obvious from some things she has said and written Susan resents that fact, casting blame on others when the truth is that she was never as strong as her sister. The youngest sister, Sofia, who has long since given up chess for marriage and family, had one outstanding result that may have been better than any Susan ever had, according to performance rating, if I remember correctly. Chess is not the only board game in which women have proven inferior to men. Women have always been inferior to men when it comes to the game of Go. Although there were many women playing backgammon when I “punched a time clock” at Gammons every night, none of them were ever a threat to the male players. It is true that a woman would occasionally win one of the short weeknight tournaments, but no woman ever came close to winning one of the much more serious weekend tournaments. There has never been a woman in backgammon comparable to Judit Polgar in chess.
The article states, “Many parents actively use chess as a way to teach girls that they should have similar opportunities as boys. A chess mom explained, “We’re raising her . . . to be feminist. And so she says she wants to be a Grandmaster or the president [of the United States]. She doesn’t have any ideas about gender limitations and I think that’s a good thing.”
I am not so sure “that’s a good thing.” There are things women can do that I will never be able to do, and vice versa. There are, therefore natural “gender limitations” for each of us, whether or not some are willing to admit the fact. I believe that is a wonderful thing. What if men and woman were exactly the same? It would make for a boring existence, would it not?

Speed Chess is Like Spinach for the Brain

This month provided a treasure trove of articles concerning chess in a roundabout way. The first such article to catch my attention was, ‘Chess is like spinach to the brain.’ It was written by Alesha L. Crews of the IowaPress-Citizen. The jury found her guilty of hyperbole in the first degree. http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20130602/NEWS01/306020028/-Chess-like-spinach-brain-?gcheck=1
Mark Samuelian in an article appearing in The Atlantic makes the claim that, “Speed Chess Changed My Brain.” Reading the headline caused me to recall standing in the balcony overlooking the empty playing hall before the World Open was to begin with the Legendary Georgia Ironman. He looked at me and said, “You know, everyone who will enter this room has had his life altered by chess.” Mr. Samuelian claims playing speed chess on the internet caused his synapses to fire as if supercharged, like pistons in a NASCAR engine coated with an illegal substance causing a boost before burning away so as to pass inspection. He placed much higher in a poker tournament even though, “I had barely even played poker over the last year, let alone worked at elevating my game.” What, then, caused his improvement? “What I had played was chess. Specially, I knocked out some 2,000 games of speed (or “blitz”) chess in the two months leading up to the tournament.” He did not win the tournament, finishing 5th out of 135 on Saturday and 3rd out of 35 on Sunday. I will not mention how much luck is involved in poker, especially tournament poker. Steve Solotow, quoted in the excellent book, “Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker,” by James McManus, says, “Unlike backgammon and chess, poker is a wonderful game because it has enough of a luck component that bad players sometimes beat good players, which keeps the bad players interested.” Maybe Mark would have finished first if he had spent the time reading, studying, and playing poker. There is much more to the article: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/speed-chess-changed-my-brain/277151/

An article in Computing begins, “In the keynote speech that opened this year’s Computing Enterprise Mobility Summit in London, Graeme Burton, chief reporter at Computing, likened the task of formulating mobility strategy to “playing chess on acid”.”
Makes me wonder how Mr. Burton knows…The title is, Making Enterprise Mobility Strategy ‘like playing chess on acid.’ Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2274017/making-enterprise-mobility-strategy-like-playing-chess-on-acid#ixzz2XY58gaAh
Like most of those who play chess, I think of things as how they relate to chess. For instance, an article in the Pacific Standard, Want to Learn How to Think? Read Fiction, made me think of the love of my life who told me I did not read enough fiction. The sub-title is, “New Canadian research finds reading a literary short story increases one’s comfort with ambiguity.”
The article begins, “Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making.” Exactly! Now I know why I made all those ill-considered blunders. Is it better to know, or would I be better off continuing to wonder. Does it matter? Is there an antidote to black-or-white thinking? You will have to read the article to find the answer: http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/reading-literature-opens-minds-60021/
I have spent an inordinate amount of time in coffee shops in my years as a Senior, due mostly to the fact that a coffee shop, especially one in a book store, is my favorite place to give a chess lesson. There have been days when I would give a morning lesson at a Barnes & Noble, have lunch, and then give an afternoon lesson at Borders, may it rest in peace. I would usually arrive early enough to prepare for the lesson, or at least to try and become focused for the lesson to come. That is the reason an article in the NY Times by Anahad O’Connor, How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity, caught my eye. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/how-the-hum-of-a-coffee-shop-can-boost-creativity/?src=me&ref=general&_r=2
From the article:
“In a series of experiments that looked at the effects of noise on creative thinking, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had participants brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. Their results, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, found that a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room, about 70 decibels, enhanced performance compared with the relative quiet of 50 decibels. A higher level of noise, however, about 85 decibels, roughly the noise level generated by a blender or a garbage disposal, was too distracting, the researchers found.”
I wonder how many decibels the coffee grinder rates? Turning one of those things on usually brought all conversation to a halt. Some people would get up and walk around, or go outside to have a smoke. Now that was creative thinking! Back to the article:
“Ravi Mehta, an assistant professor of business administration at the university who led the research, said that extreme quiet tends to sharpen your focus, which can prevent you from thinking in the abstract.
“This is why if you’re too focused on a problem and you’re not able to solve it,” Dr. Mehta said, “you leave it for some time and then come back to it and you get the solution.”
But moderate levels can distract people just enough so that they think more broadly. “It helps you think outside the box,” he said.
The benefits of moderate noise, however, apply only to creative tasks. Projects that require paying close attention to detail, like proofreading a paper or doing your taxes, Dr. Mehta said, are performed better in quiet environments.”
The article begins, “Pulling up a seat at your favorite coffee shop may be the most efficient way to write a paper or finish a work project. But now a new Web site lets you bring the coffee shop to your cubicle. The site, called Coffitivity, was inspired by recent research showing that the whoosh of espresso machines and caffeinated chatter typical of most coffee shops creates just the right level of background noise to stimulate creativity. The Web site, which is free, plays an ambient coffee shop soundtrack that, according to researchers, helps people concentrate.”
So should game tournaments be held in an environment with ambient noise at a coffee shop level? The answer is contained in the article.
I clicked on the website (http://coffitivity.com/) and found it distracting. I kept looking around to try and put a face to the voice. The article says absolutely nothing about the social aspect of a coffee shop and what being around fellow humans does to one’s creativity. Guess that would be an altogether different study.