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Sunday Chess Problem

This week I have a classic direct-mate problem for you. It comes from the great Soviet composer Lev Loshinsky and was published in 1947. Loshinsky’s last appearance in Sunday Chess Problem was almost two years ago, so it is well past time to see another of his works. White is to move and mate in…

The Saga of Mickey Kaus

This might be too inside baseball for a lot of people, but those who have been reading political bogs for a long time might find it interesting. BuzzFeed has a lengthy profile of Mickey Kaus. When I first started taking politics seriously in the mid-nineties, Kaus was a writer for The New Republic, and a…

Sam Harris Drives His Critics Insane

You can accuse Sam Harris of a lot of things, but being a bad writer is not one of them. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I basically agree but think his manner of expression makes life too easy for his critics, and sometimes I disagree. But I always feel like I understand perfectly what…

Wisdom From Drum

Prior to Donald Trump’s latest expectoration, which has proven to be a bit much even for hard-core conservatives, the Republicans were worked up over a pressing question of semantics. In their telling, if you describe the threat we face as coming from “Jihadism,” then you are a politically correct pussy who just doesn’t get it.…

Talking About Islam

It seems like everyone’s losing their minds about Islam these days. On the one hand there are many on the left who will accuse you of bigotry or Islamophobia if you criticize anything at all about Islam. Apparently we’re not allowed to notice that there are fifty-some Muslim countries in the world, but you’re hard-pressed…

Sunday Chess Problem

Having taken the last two weeks off, Sunday Chess Problem now makes a triumphant return! This week I have chosen a wonderful direct mate problem by Valentin Rudenko, composed in 1983. It deservedly won First Prize in its tourney. White is to play and mate in four: This problem showcases a maneuver I have not…

Let us continue with our discussion of Winston Ewert’s defense of the concept of “specified complexity.” In Part One we saw that Ewert’s defense was actually rather tepid. He mostly gave away the game by writing: It is true that specified complexity does not in any way help establish that the probability of complex life…

A Brainteaser

Here’s a brainteaser for you. I’m interested to know what you all think of it: A group of smokers had twenty-five cigarette butts in an ashtray. Each butt still contained a small amount of usable tobacco. The smokers knew that any five butts contained enough tobacco to make one new cigarette. How many new cigarettes…

Over at the Discovery Institute’s blog, Winston Ewert has a post up explaining, one more time, what specified complexity is. Since I am given a mention near the end, perhaps it’s worth a look. For those not steeped in ID rhetoric, “specified complexity” is a term coined by William Dembski. It is an attribute that…

The Final POTW Has Been Posted

The title says it all. Go have a look and let me know what you think. Problem of the eek will make a triumphant return in January. See you then!

A Little Light Reading

I’m currently working out of my New Jersey office, which is to say that I’m visiting my family for Thanksgiving. But if you’re looking for a little light reading, try this short post by Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question…

“Unrest” On College Campuses

Colleges and universities have been in the news lately. This has been for a variety of reasons, some good, some silly, some bad. Hanging it over it all, however, is something that’s bothering me. We’ll come to that shortly. Let’s start with the good. Threats and “fighting words” are not protected speech. Shouting the N…

Holly Holm Defeats Ronda Rousey

Sunday Chess Problem is taking the week off. But in other sporting news, Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey in their big fight on Saturday. I’ve been a casual MAA fan for a while, and I like Ronda Rousey, so I actually bought the Pay-Per-View to watch the fight. Now, the thing about fighters is that…

Ruse’s Atheism Book

I’ve started reading Michael Ruse’s book Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know, published by Oxford University Press earlier this year. Ruse is a philosopher at Florida State University, but he has turned himself into something of a crackpot over the last ten years. He’s edited two books with ID proponent Bill Dembski, has picked foolish…

Sunday Chess Problem

My new issue of Chess Life showed up in the mail, and it included coverage of the Sinquefield Cup from this summer. (Chess Life has a long lead time). Anyway, in the game between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, Nakamura played the Queen’s Gambit Declined as black. He was very lucky to draw the game.…