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Sunday Chess Problem

Last week I introduced the idea of Allumwandlung, abbreviated AUW. This refers to a problem in which all four pawn promotions, to queen, rook, bishop and knight, appear in some way. The problem I showed last week was a crystal clear illustration of the theme, and deservedly won second place in the annual selfmate tourney…

Now Available!

Check it out! “ My new book Four Lives: A Celebration of Raymond Smullyan has just been released by Dover Publications. Don’t know who Raymond Smullyan is? Well, buy the book and find out! Or you can read his Wikipedia page. Smullyan is best known for his many books of logic puzzles, but he has…

The Big Carroll vs. Craig Debate

We just had our second straight snow day around here (in a winter that has already had a lot of snow days). That did provide me with some unexpected free time, which I used to watch the big debate between Sean Carroll and William Lane Craig. All two and a quarter hours of it! Click…

Sunday Chess Problem

Throughout this series I have endeavored to bring to your attention some of the major themes that problem composers use. So far, though, there is one big one that has not been featured. I am referring to Allumwandlung, typically abbreviated AUW. This is a German word that translates loosely as “All conversion.” To chess composers…

Hatchet Jobs

The book review I discussed in Wednesday’s post is an example of a “hatchet job.” This is a literary form in which the goal is not merely to criticize an opponent’s work, but to show that it is utterly worthless. Hatchet jobs are often marked by large amounts of snark and snideness, often at the…

Ye Olde Problem of Evil

I sometimes write about the relationship of the problem of evil to evolution. Darwinian natural selection is a rather unpleasant business, you see, making you wonder why a loving God would employ it as his method of creation. My experience with anti-evolutionists has been that this is a point of special concern for them. Virtually…

Desperately Seeking Scientism

Upon surveying the American landscape these days, it’s hard to believe that an over-reliance on science is something we need to worry about. That hasn’t stopped some in the humanities from manufacturing the entirely fictitious threat of “scientism.” It’s a hard term to pin down, since it is seldom defined the same way twice, but…

Saletan vs. Myers on Nye vs. Ham

It’s time to get caught up on a few things. The Nye/Ham debate attracted reams of commentary, some of it sensible, some not so much. Two of the sillier entries came from William Saletan over at Slate He’s very worked up about Bill Nye’s claim that creationism poses a threat to our scientific future. Saletan…

Sunday Chess Problem

Regular blogging will resume next week, once I have finished digging out from the pile of work that didn’t get done during my recent travels. But since Sunday Chess Problem waits for nobody, I’ve picked out a tasty little morsel for you. One of my favorite motifs in chess is that of a fortress draw.…

A Review of Questioning Darwin

I’ve had a chance now to watch Questioning Darwin. Twice. Short review: I liked it quite a bit. Now for the long review. I’m obviously a bit partial, since this film represents my television debut! I was one of the talking heads interviewed in the film, and it was a thrill to be in the…

Questioning Darwin

Blogging is likely to be light for the next week or so. I’m gearing up for some traveling, starting at the end of the week. On Thursday I’ll leave for Chicago, to participate in the annual AAAS Conference. Over the weekend I will be in Parsippany, New Jersey to participate in the annual chess extravaganza…

Sunday Chess Problem

Some chess problems are the equivalent of a big, Thanksgiving dinner. They have numerous variations and complex strategy. And that’s fine, if a big dinner is what you want. Sometimes, though, you just want a pleasant little amuse bouche. And that’s what we have today. The problem below was composed by William Shinkman, one of…

Philosopher John Wilkins has responded to yesterday’s post about conflicts between evolution and religion. Sadly, he so grossly distorts what I said that I don’t think he has replied very effectively. John quotes only a single short excerpt from my lengthy post: So, after all, that, let us return to Plait’s argument. He tells us…

Writing at Slate, Phil Plait has a post up about the big Ham vs. Nye debate. He gets off to a good start: Last night, science advocate Bill Nye “debated” with creationist Ken Ham, the man who runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky. I was torn about the event; I think it’s important that science…

The DI In Damage Control Mode

In yesterday’s post, I remarked that the clear loser in yesterday’s debate was the intelligent design crowd. They’ve been trying for years to persuade people that anti-evolutionism has nothing–nothing–to do with blinkered religious obscurantism. And in one widely viewed, widely covered, debate Ken Ham went and messed it all up. The Discovery Institute seems to…