Thursday, August 20, 2009

inherently comedic objects

on a lighter note, a list of objects that are inherently funny, just for being themselves. please add anything I forgot in comments.

banana peels
fancy hats
venus flytraps
electric can openers
cream pies

Sunday, August 16, 2009

missing the point

I have to object to Steve Goldberg's recent article in the Examiner about the recent All Girls US Chess School.

The most intriguing player from the U.S. Chess School
August 16, 12:34 AM · Steve Goldberg - Chess Examiner

Of course, every one of the players from the 10th session of the
U.S. Chess School is very talented and brings something special to the table.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis Executive Director Tony Rich commented, "Each of the young ladies in this all-girl edition of the chess school is probably stronger than everyone else in the building" (except for the instructors).
With the caveat that time didn't allow this reporter to get to know all the participants, the player that may be the most intriguing isn't a girl at all.
He's nine-year-old Jonathan Chiang, brother of participant Sarah Chiang. Jonathan was one of the players at an earlier session of the U.S. Chess School and is a remarkable child.
At one point, IM Greg Shahade presented a "White to move and win" problem to Jonathan. After about thirty seconds thought, he looked up at Greg and said, "It's pretty easy," as he found the initial move to the problem. Greg responded, "No it's not!" as he watched Jonathan contend with various stalemating options that Black had available. In short order, though, Jonathan indeed found the correct path to seal the victory.
This is one to keep an eye on for the future.

Before I start, let me say that Jonathan is an immensely talented, hilarious, hugely likeable child, and this is nothing against him. Also, Steve is a nice guy and I usually like his stuff, but this article seems to really miss a number of important points.

One of the big reasons to have a girls-only class is that typically boys treat questions in the classroom like a competitive game, trying to be the first to answer, rather than to really think about the question and try to get the answer right. This has the effect of silencing the "slower" (in fact, just more thoughtful) girls, and of creating the (totally false) impression that the boys are smarter. Jonathan was almost always the first to think he had the answer but was usually wrong, to the extent that Kaidanov and Greg would both good naturedly tease him when he raised his hand. He's even impatient and wrong in the example Steve gives. Singling this behavior out for praise seems misguided and unhelpful to everyone involved:

It hurts Jonathan, since it praises and thereby reinforces his worst habit, carelessness / overconfidence /overquickness.

It hurts the girls, by taking away from them one of the few opportunities for public recognition. Why not write about Abby Marshall, the first female to ever win the Denker? Isn't that more impressive than getting an answer wrong in 30 seconds?? Or write about Rochelle and Darrian, who gave an incredible number of correct, thoughtful, imaginative answers? Or write about thirteen year old Megan Lee, who won the Under 18 section of Girls Nationals and tied for first (with Abby) in the US Chess School blitz tournament?

It hurts the general public and the chess community, by reinforcing the idea that boys (even when they are much lower rated) are more talented than girls at chess.

update: Arne Moll of Chess Vibes writes about the issue

Saturday, August 15, 2009

us chess school 10 -- GIRLS!!

I took too many photos to post, but you can see them here.
I'm going to Thailand tomorrow for two weeks, so the blog will be dormant until I'm back, but I'll post a lot of photos and (hopefully) stories then.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Girl's US Chess School (first five photos)

Darrian Robinson, Abby Marshall, Megan Lee, Sarah Chiang, Amanda Mateer, Linda Diaz, Eve Litvak, Rochelle Ballantyne

Abby and Darrian

Rochelle and Eve

I get home Saturday and I'll make a Picasa album of the 10,000 photos I've taken then.

Friday, August 7, 2009

the Economist fakes an apology, the 3rd International Yo-Yo Open

The Times had a great correction, which I blogged about a while back:

An earlier version of this article misstated the location of a 2005 sexual encounter between Stephon Marbury of the Knicks and a team intern. Mr. Marbury testified that it took place in his truck, not in the trunk of his car.

but the Economist had a gem this week that almost matched it:

Gennady Timchenko and Gunvor International BV
Jul 30th 2009 From The Economist print edition
In a section of our special report on Russia entitled “Grease my palm” (November 29th 2008) we referred to Gunvor and its cofounder, Gennady Timchenko. We are happy to make it clear that when we referred to the “new corruption” in today’s Russia, we did not intend to suggest that either Gunvor or Mr Timchenko obtained their Russian oil business as a result of payment by them of bribes or like corrupt inducements. Rosneft sells only 30-40% of its oil through Gunvor rather than the “bulk” of Rosneft’s oil (as we described it). We accept Gunvor’s assurances that neither Vladimir Putin nor other senior Russian political figures have any ownership interest in Gunvor. We regret if any contrary impression was given.

In other news, the 3rd International Yo-Yo Open is tomorrow at South Street Seaport. a video from the preliminaries:

Ray Cheng is visiting New York

Ray Cheng in Tompkins Square Park

I first met Ray through Abby and because he randomly sent me a copy of his book a few years ago, which totally made my day. The next time I saw him was at the World Open when he was wearing a bathrobe and drinking a gin and tonic at his board. It was some kind of Big Lebowski reference with chessloser.

Alan and Ray

another guy in tompkins with cool head tattoos

This is near Wall Street.

update: I get an email today that reads:
Lizzy,I heard this is what happened to the tourist who tried to push you off the bull to take his own picture...any comments? Thank you.Pascal

come up with a funny response for me, please?

I have an interest in photographing people eating ice cream for 2 reasons:

1. Everyone has practiced their "photograph smile" but you can't do that when you're eating ice cream.
2. Ice cream, especially soft serve, manages to be childlike and sexy at the same time (but not in an intentional, inherently creepy way). Props with a confusing message are interesting.

inside the Staten Island Ferry terminal

inside the Staten Island side of the terminal.

remind you of any movie stills?


from the boat

I only include this to show you how awesome my camera is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

chess camp photos











Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Abby Marshall: Denker Champion!

she plays pretty good for a girl.

happy birthday tomorrow, President Obama!! If you haven't checked out the White House website, it's really a lot of fun.
look: from a memo from Obama to Clinton:
"I hereby determine that The Lao People's Democratic Republic has ceased to be a Marxist-Leninist country. ...I hereby determine that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ceased to be a Marxist-Leninist country."
wow, just like that.

And my favorite, the weekly address.

bad news for people who get anxious about global pandemics: a new strain of HIV in Cameroon and an outbreak of pneumonic plague in China. (According to the World Health Organization, pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing a person 24 hours after he or she gets the disease.)

carrots, Grand Canyon

Saturday, August 1, 2009

amusing tactics by curtains

I was watching Greg play this game on ICC two nights ago (vs. Molton) and I was thinking "man, Greg is in trouble after Nf5." After thinking for a full minute, white plays 20. Nf5, but then Greg just takes it and the guy resigns. I laughed for a long time.
(20...gxf5 0-1 because 21. Bxf5 Bg6 and the white bishop is pinned to the queen. Black can also throw in 21...Rxe1 first, since he'll need to after white's bishop takes on d7)