End Chess Madness, and Stop the Killing of Russian Journalists
Chess makes for strange bed fellows. Last night at a party at the Trump SoHo hotel in
downtown Manhattan, two former world chess champions, Anatoly Karpov
and Gary Kasparov, put aside their bitter rivalry—they played a
record 144 games for the world title between 1984 and
1990—to try to rescue the game they love from the iron-fisted grip of a quixotic
billionaire named Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
For the past 15 years, Ilyumzhinov has run the world chess organization (known by its French acronym FIDE, for Federation Internationale des Echecs), and Karpov, with Kasparov's backing, wants to replace him. The two K's are intent in bringing blue-chip corporate sponsorship to chess, and they contend that Ilyumzhinov is a big obstacle. First, they think he is a wack job: Ilyumzhinov claims that he was once abducted by yellow-robed human-like extraterrestrials who took him aboard their interplanetary spacecraft. Then there is the terrestrial company he kept, dictators like Muammar el-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Then there are the human rights violations Ilyumzhinov has been associated with in his day job as president of Kalmykia, a barren, poverty-stricken Russian republic on the Caspian Sea.
The Trump SoHo party was the official launch of Karpov's campaign to wrest the presidency of FIDE from Ilyumzhinov. Kasparov indicated that while he may not like Karpov ("Do the Yankees like the Red Sox?" he said), he believes that his rival can save the game of chess from "withering away under Ilyumzhinov." The crowd of hedge-fund managers at the party apparently agreed. To fund Karpov's campaign, they were bidding more than $10,000 to play blitz chess with Kasparov and the 19-year-old chess phenom, world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. "Now we know where the bailout dollars went," one pundit quipped.
Karpov came by Big Think just before the party for a long video interview. We've interviewed poker and Rock Paper Scissors champions before, but he is our first grandmaster. He told us why he is moving into chess politics and described the mind-set it takes to play world-class chess. Back in the Soviet Union, Karpov was the darling of Brezhnev. Now, in chess for sure, he represents the face of democracy, even if he is still apparently a supporter of Putin.
Kasparov is one of Vladimir Putin's chief detractors. He has been attacked and imprisoned for challenging Putin's authoritarian rule. Many journalists in Russia have fared even worse. Today's New York Times has a disturbing article called "It's Open Season on Journalists Near Moscow" about the many reporters who are now maimed, brain-damaged, or dead for daring to report on political corruption in Russia.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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