Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Night Miscellany

Summer is still here, even though this is the traditional first day of fall. It was in the high 80's today with strong winds out of the south, and a chance for thunderstorms tonight. The lawn is dry dry dry - no appreciable rain in three weeks. I don't know whether to water or try to cut - the lawn has that silvery cast caused by water deprivation and is laying down flat although it is quite long in spots. Oh well, I'll figure it out tomorrow. Sundown is before 7 now and the mosquitoes are out in force, I'm not going out there for blood or money! There's been a lot of hoo-ha this week over at The Daily Grail about an alleged meteorite that crashed into a remote part of Peru, not too far from a small village. Early reports alleged that villagers who rushed to the site saw boiling water in the crater and there were fumes. Later it was claimed that some 150 to 200 people got sick and went to hospital - although where this hospital wasn't clear since I doubt the village would have a place large enough to accomodate that many people! Anyway, the government sent investigators and medical personnel who did tests - radiation was suspected but actually to date (about a week now), no one has any radiation sickness. Actually, it can't even be confirmed that this was a meteorite. Pravada, picking up on a blog report somewhere, suggested that it was a piece of space junk shot down by the Americans for nefarious purposes (of course), while others suggest it was a piece of space junk whose orbit decayed, while others think it's the precursor of an alien invasion, etc. etc. Today it was reported that some bits of a iron indicative of a metallic meteorite were discovered - a few days it was reported that some bits of a rock meteorite were discovered, but the "crater" doesn't look like what I think of when I think meteorite blast site. Some have suggested that because the crater is in a volcanic (is that a word?) area it could be a mud-hole or sink-hole. Many have suggested that the initial eyewitness reports of boiling water and noxious fumes are more indicative of this type of phenomenon than a meteorite. All of this has been reported and/or commented upon by bloggers at the New York Times blog entry on the subject here. Well, it's all been entertaining, and quite amazing, actually, what people can dream up about conspiracies and aliens and what-not - and they're not even high on anything. If you'd like more reports, try doing a Google search under Peru meteorite - you'll get tons of stuff. Have you ever heard of "foreign accent syndrome?" Well, neither had I - until I saw this article. An 8-year old Yorkshire lad struck with viral meningitis had brain surgery, and when he woke up his Yorkshire accent was gone, replaced by a "posh" accent - does this mean BBC standard or the accents we hear in A&E productions of English classics? Anyway, "foreign accent syndrome" is a rare but well-documented phenomenon. Science is slowly closing in on its causes. Find more information here. Darlings, I haven't had the heart to see how Moro did today at the WCC Tournament. If Moro can't win it, I hope Anand does, for a host of reasons that I won't bore you with posting about. Chess related, for amusement this morning at the office when I should have been working, I visited Google's rec.chess.politics (it's something like that) and read what Mr. Sam Sloan has been up to of late. Mr. Sloan has what appears to be a never-ending bone-to-pick type battle going on with Paul Truong and Susan Polgar (mostly one-sided since they generally ignore him or out-flank him) - which seems to have been conducted mostly at the USCF "official forum." I don't intend visiting there anytime soon. My lefty-leaning Democratic roots seem to have biased me against visiting most "official" sites for anything! After sampling Mr. Sloan's rec.chess.politics posts for several months off and on, I think he sees himself in the role of a certain well-known Cervantes character - and no, I'm not talking about the donkey although sometimes Mr. Sloan does conduct himself like an ass. However, Mr. Sloan is a chess institution among some chess circles, and so one takes Mr. Sloan with a grain of salt, disregarding the garbage and enjoying the occasional tasty morsel he dishes up. One post today caught my eye, because I've been wondering about this myself. What's up with the 2008 U.S. Chess Championship? Susan Polgar, who promised on her blog to report there about what was going on at the USCF after she took her seat on the Executive Board, has been silent on anything having to do with USCF, beyond a few posts made shortly after she was first invested. I, for one, would be interested in reading more at her blog about what's going with the USCF and less (much less) about Ms. Polgar's new message board. What IS going on with the 2008 U.S. Chess Championship? Have any bids been received? Is the EB evaluating bids? Have any dates been set? What about the Women's Chess Championship? Will that be held separately, as a part of an overall U.S. Chess Championship, or will it be killed? I'm not asking for state secrets here - just some basic information. Is this information being revealed at Ms. Polgar's message board - to which you must sign up to view? That goes against my libertarian views! You don't have to be a member of Chessville in order to view the posts there - you can enter as a guest. Actually, speaking of Chessville and the good folks there, why didn't Ms. Polgar start posting there if she wanted to engender and encourage civil discussion about what she sees as chess issues? They would have loved to have her posting there and the influx of new members and views. Goddesschess has money for a 2008 Brilliancy Prize for the U.S. Women's Chess Championship. Will we be able to donate it???

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