August 8, 2006

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...

Jannis Kounellis, untitled, 1971

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"If the stakes weren't so high, and the situation weren't so tragic, you'd have to laugh at the latest US-French attempt to craft a Middle East cease fire. They announced it as though they had jointly tackled the world's most difficult Sudoku puzzle -- and then about five minutes later Hezbollah and the Lebanese government both blew it off.
"The rumble in Lebanon continues because, for a change, Islamic terrorists and their sponsors are being held responsible for their misbehavior. Hezbollah has turned all of Lebanon into its personal suicide bomber. If Lebanon gets blown up in the service of killing some Israelis, well, maybe there is a paradise in another world for nations that blunder into self-destruction, where the fountains run with iced coffee, and halvah grows on every tree.

"Israel is determined to shut down Hezbollah and the process is going to continue. It's a little hard to imagine that Iran's leaders and the partisans of Jihad will not try to counter that effort by stirring the pot elsewhere in the region. Perhaps they will even go so far as to call Jihad fighters from other Muslim nations to go to Hezbollah's aid in Lebanon, and it would be easy to see how that would lead to a wider war that would suck in additional players.
There are also new rumbles about Saudi Arabia's shaky situation with its Ghawar oil field, which gives ominous signs of entering a far steeper and more sudden decline / crash than previously imagined by many observers. A similar picture is resolving with Mexico's dominant Cantarell oil field. Yet another interesting problem all over the map is that oil exporting nations are seeing their internal consumption increase even while reserves and daily production decline, and the net effect is a lot less oil for export. I would take these signals as reason to think the price of oil will pass $100 a barrel before the end of 2006. Of course, Iran could stir that pot without a whole lot of trouble and take the price to $200, or maybe $500.

"Jihad and peak oil are related, mutually-reinforcing problems. The world is in a lot of trouble and America is in a lot of trouble in our corner of the world. We talk about a lot of things, but the one thing we've absolutely avoided is any talk about making the necessary changes in our 'non-negotiable' way of life. I think the remainder of 2006 will be the start of that national conversation."

* cheating in chess. excerpt:

"Accusations of cheating at the largest tournament of the year have the chess world buzzing — and have tournament directors worried about what they may have to do to stop players from trying to cheat in the future.

"The cheating is alleged to have occurred at the World Open in Philadelphia over the July 4 weekend and to have involved two players in two sections of the tournament. In each case, the player was suspected of receiving help from computers or from accomplices using computers. Neither player was caught cheating, but one player, Steve Rosenberg, was expelled. The other, Eugene Varshavsky, was allowed to finish the tournament but was searched before each round, then watched closely during games.

"Chess has always been considered a gentleman’s game, with an unwritten honor code. But the advent of powerful and inexpensive chess-playing computers and improved wireless technology has made it easier to cheat.

"Although rare, cheating at chess is not new. For years, players who wanted to cheat would leave the board and ask other players for advice, or consult chess books or magazines for suggested moves. Cheating at chess may seem like a twisted exercise in ego gratification, but growing prize money has made the rewards more meaningful. At the World Open, the total prizes were $358,000, with first place in the top section worth as much as $28,000."

* "Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing." -- John Erskine


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up with Rosenberg. Just today I did a web search for him to see what ever happened to him, and now I arrived at your blog. It does not at all shock me to hear what had happened to him. Steve was always up to sneaky things like this. I just wondered if he would ever grow out of it, and now I know the answer is no.

6:31 AM  

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