July 19, 2002
Jorge Luis Borges, "Death and the Compass"

My college roommate Robert Waldmann reminds me that my life is poorer because I have not read anything by Jorge Luis Borges in the past five years: robert's random thoughts ...One joke in the book caught my attention. A police investigator jokes that Hurcule Poirot is so smart that "I wouldn't be surprised if, one day, you solved the mystery of your own death.... A nice idea no ? One could write a wonderful book about it". Hmmm now that is a challenge. With my limited imagination I tried to think of the brilliant detective who knows he is going to be killed (but as usual can't convince the police) knows that the killer will be one of, say, three enemies, and writes a simple procedure for deciding which of the three depending on how he is killed. That would almost do. Then I realised that someone with an unlimited imagination had already solved the problem. Warning: Those who have not read "Death and the Compass" by Jorge Luis Borges should read it before reading on. Those who have should re-read it and not waste time on the web. In this story, Borges writes of a brilliant detective, "It is...

Posted by DeLong at 11:00 AM

July 05, 2002
Variants of the Game of Chess

Home page of The Chess Variant Pages It is generally assumed that chess originated in India, 5-7 centuries after the birth of Christ. At that time, the game was not as we know it. During the course of history, many variants of the game were tried. Some were discarded immediately, some had for some time an enthusiastic following and then died out, while others stayed, and replaced the game as it formerly was known. Today, the game chess as we know it, has remarkable differences from the original game. At the same time, in different parts of this world, different chess games are played. These are also believed to originate from the same Indian / Arabic origin......

Posted by DeLong at 09:05 AM