Implications of Iowa Caucus

The first state in America has voted; Donald Trump has been dealt a shocking blow, losing to Ted Cruz from Canada and almost thrown behind Third Place Latino, Marco Rubio. This is certainly unexpected for Trump’s bombastic slogan, Make America Great Again. The foreigners appear to have taken the first round.

iowa

What went wrong for Donald Trump? He was leading in all ten of the most recent pre-election polls, even the best statistician in the US, Nate Silver, had awarded him 48% to 58% chance of victory. A win in Iowa was in the bag, and then after that New Hampshire, South Carolina, and every other state.

But Trump was undone by a blonde woman, and her name was not Hillary Clinton.

MegynKelly

It was Megyn Kelly.

After a year of dominating all the polls, Donald Trump had gotten used to a certain amount of “immunity”. He did not suffer after his verbal attacks on Mexicans, women, Muslims, Fox News, John McCain or anybody else. In fact, every outrageous tweet by the Donald improved his standing in the polls, as his supporters appreciated a man who spoke anything on his mind, even if it was not politically correct. But then Trump made the biggest mistake of them all.

He moved beyond talking shit, to doing shit.

Donald Trump skipped the final Republican debate before the Iowa primary, after getting into a feud with Fox’s blonde moderator, Megyn Kelly, whom Trump claimed had “blood coming out of her wherever.” This remark, did no damage whatsoever to Trump’s reputation. But, skipping the debate – it costed the entire state.

You see, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio won that trump-missing debate.

And after that, Ted Cruz, Canadian born, hated by all Republicans, too extreme for the Tea Party, disliked by even John McCain, the Cruz who was a “sinking ship”, he won instead. And Marco “I don’t know how to win a state” Rubio doubled his standing in the polls.

Donald Trump has shown that you can say whatever you want, and nothing will happen, because these are Republicans, and Republicans are always talking shit anyway. But you cannot do whatever you want, because action speaks louder than words, and voters  will indeed punish you for it. Even if those voters are stupid. Even if those voters are Republican.

Long term, Donald Trump is still the favorite to win the nomination, as he has polling leads in New Hampshire and every single state after that. But for the first time, he has to be careful. Because he’s no longer the Invincible Man. He’s mortal now, and someone else may actually win this thing.

In fact, Hillary Clinton may not be the Democratic nominee either. She got stuck in a traffic jam against a 73-year old Socialist Jew, proving that despite Clinton’s famous meticulous planning, things never quite go her way. (The last time, it was an uppity Black community organizer.) So President Sanders may indeed happen. Stay tuned.

sanders

I had this vision while trying to sleep, after two bouts of vomitting

The air was cold as I trudged in the godforsaken woods, my shadow the only thing outlined in the pale moon. All around me, various twigs and branches of misshapen design curled in unholy evil, their natural lives long since twisted by the dark forest’s evil.

I couldn’t see very far in front of me but I was making a lot of noise, as the soil was squishy and eerie noises of escaping air bubbled every time my slippers made contact. I didn’t know how I looked but it must have been a long time since I have seen another person.

Barely audible were the murmurings from the unholy plants, acidic dew dripping from poisonous leaves I must not touch. Once or twice I saw shadows of cat-sized rats scurrying out of the way. As I questioned what the rats were doing there it occurred to me I should not be in a place like this either.

When did I get here? For the life of me, I can’t remember.

Nevertheless, there is only one direction, which is forwards. I didn’t know where I was going but I have been traveling for so long so it makes sense to finish the job.

A howl of a wolf echoed across the distance. I checked the moon to ensure it wasn’t a full one. It wasn’t. Good that would mean these pups are not hunting for me. Maybe they are just lonely.

There are a lot of things nearby that can kill me. I must be charmed to be safe so far. As I trudged forward carefully avoiding the dangerous flora, I became aware that several somethings were following me. They moved when I moved, and they stopped when I stopped.

I didn’t look back but continued to step forward, using only my ears to determine the nature of the sound. I heard cloth blowing through the wind and high pitch whistling. Hollow footsteps produced by raw bone hitting against branches and roots, not the kind produced by anything still alive.

Gonna need a sword, of course I failed to pack one. Well how am I going to fight off attackers like these?

Well I turned around to face the five undead banshees. They look like sickly women with lifeless eyes, and with even less motivation than I have ever since…the tragedy that started my journey. What do you know about loss and sadness,  I screamed into the night. I am as empty as you are, and all I have is madness.

The banshees looked on with confusion while I turned my back onto them, allowing any to jump onto me and strangle me from behind with their skeletal hands. But none laid a finger as I stumbled forward continuing my journey.

None followed me, and soon I was all alone again. Well, I thought to myself, it was probably time to find someplace less twisted, but I don’t even know where in hell this place is, much less how to get out.

Religion, just like humans, have capacity for both good and evil

Religion, just like humans, have capacity for both good and evil. Just as it is rare to find the fully evil human, it is rare to find the truly evil religion. The reverse, however, is also true.

The Paris (and Mali) terror attacks have given rise to a new type of deniers. Previously we have climate change deniers, now we also have religious terror deniers. Put simply, these are people who deny that there is any connection between a religion and mass murders committed in its name.

“They are not true Muslims. This is not Islam.”

Said  Obama, President of the Religious Terror Denier Association.

“All religions teach good things.”

Motto of the Religious Terror Denier

It is true that religions do teach good things; however, that they teach bad things is harder to admit, but extremely true. The believer can never admit to this – for to do so is to shake their faith. What they do instead is to insist that everything else is wrong, except the religion.

The religion itself is pure, incorruptible, goodness. Only the “deviant” or the “misusers” or the “terrible” humans “claiming” to practice it are wrong. Religion itself never has to answer to any inquiry, never has to defend itself. No one is allowed to question, it’s offensive.

 

If there are evil teachings in holy texts, it is explained as a “mistranslation”, a “miscommunication”, an “outdated” command (because moral standards have dates), or you must “interpret this command to slaughter all infidels, metaphorically…”

According to the believer, it is impossible for a religion (or God) to be wrong. Instead of considering the elephant (or God) in the room, everything else must be questioned, everything else must be wrong. But religion itself is good, all religions are good…

Meanwhile there are people dying, and it’s not the religion’s fault.

There are imams preaching hatred and holy war, and it’s not the religion’s fault.

There are religious states committing wholesale genocide, and it’s not the religion’s fault.

Never their fault.

I have a better solution. It’s called an eraser.

If we can just erase those pesky dark age doctrines from the Holy Books…just wipe them off the slate…rewrite them anew, faith wouldn’t be such a problem. “Kill Kiss the infidels”.

Let’s own up to it. Religious texts are full of bad, bad things…and we can pretend they are not there, or that people are misunderstanding God’s instructions. But there will always be someone crazy enough to actually do what it says. When that happens, people will die. Hundreds of people will die.

It is far better for religion to change, than for people to die. Think of the kids. Better for religion to admit they are full of shit, sometimes, rather than pridefully insist they are always right. Better for religion to kiss and make up with science than to insist it has all the answers.

Better for religion to recognize that it has misled its own believers into acting badly, and that it has a responsibility to stop, instead of continuing to preach the same nonsense that created all those terror networks. It’s either this, or people will die. There are no two ways about it.

Move Fast – Opportunity Does Not Strike Twice

1. e4 c6

The defence I used is not normally associated with lightning counterattacks – which is why this game is about attitude rather than specific moves.

2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5

White goes into the Exchange Variation which suggests dull, boring, game. There’s no real advantage for either player.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.45.50 AM

Superficially, he has the open e-file while I have the open c-file. This has no impact whatsoever because both sides can easily protect their lines.

4. Bd3!?

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.50.45 AM

White goes into a risky and interesting move. The bishop is active and targets my h7 pawn, but it cuts the queen’s protection of d4.

Nc6 5. c3 Nf6

I point a simple threatening gesture at the insecure pawn. White defends, then I continue with development.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.54.37 AM

From a theoretical perspective, Black would need a knight to b4 to harass the light square bishop. But White has a strong bodyguard on that square.

6. Bf4!?

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.57.46 AM

He makes a territorial grab for the dark squares. Pretty much the strongest move. Yet soon enough it will look bad.

Qb6!?

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.01.16 AM

I strike at White’s b-pawn, which was left unguarded when the bishop moved. White is given no scope for creative play – he is forced to take the witness’ stand again.

7. Qc2

He manages to clear the attack. But is it too passive?

Nh5!

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.03.21 AM

Yes it is crazy to move a piece twice in the opening. But I’ll do it again soon.

White is forced to retreat his bishop.

8. Be3 Qc7

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.05.30 AM

Even though it is only move eight, I am giving White an additional puzzle to solve. The dark squares he originally claimed, I have hijacked. And I now support moves like e5 and Nf4, both of which will continue the initiative.

The e5 break takes advantage of White’s queen not being on d1, so Black gains the center. Whereas Nf4 threatens to simply kill the bishop gaining the trebuchet.

9. Nf3 Bg4

White gets on with simple development. But as soon as the knight comes out, it is mugged.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.09.52 AM

I simply threaten to chop off his legs and leave him with doubled f-pawns.

10. Nfd2!?

White recoils at my spooky bishop. But he should have calmly defended his knight.

Nf4

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.11.56 AM

Only move ten and White has to give up something precious. My knight is attacking both his light square bishop and his g2 pawn. So he is forced to exchange a bishop for my knight, losing control of one set of colors.

11. Bxf4 Qxf4 12. 0-0 e6

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.16.03 AM

White chooses to give up the dark square bishop, rather than the light square bishop. Good. I will attack him on the dark squares then.

13. h3?

He is not comfortable with two of my pieces near his King. So White tries to chase my light square bishop away.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.17.31 AM

Bxh3! 14. gxh3 Bd6 

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.19.19 AM

My bishop doesn’t run. It sacrifices itself, blowing up White’s pawn structure. Now there is a big hole on the g-file and the threat of immediate checkmate with Qh2#.

15. Nf3

White could find nothing better than immediately returning the extra piece. Because otherwise he dies.

Qxf3 16. Bb5 0-0 17. Re1 Qxh3

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.22.27 AM

No mercy given. I take two of his pawns and continue with the checkmate motif on the dark squares.

18. Re3

He tries, with only one arm, to swat my queen away. But I quickly turn on the clumsy rook.

Qh2+ 19. Kf1 Bf4

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.25.54 AM

The rook is not attacking my queen. I am attacking his rook.

20. Rf3 Qh1+ 21. Ke2 Qc1

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.27.19 AM

White is finally given an opportunity to breathe. But if he takes my deal and trades the queens, then White is simply two pawns down in an endgame which will be hopeless.

He never finished the opening – I’ve attacked nonstop from move 4.

22. Qb3

White avoids the trade so he can at least have some pieces on the board.

Na5

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.30.03 AM

But I attack his queen again.

23. Qa4

Well he is tired of being pushed around. He grabs my knight by the neck.

Qxb2+

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 3.31.47 AM

And I seize his unprotected b2 pawn with check. Next turn it will be his rook.

At this point he had enough. White resigned.

0-1

50 Cats

50cats

Well I had a nice game recently.

1. e4 c6

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.14.31 PM

I played the Caro Kahn defence against White’s first move. This signifies that there will be a battle over the d5 square soon.

The Caro Kahn is known to be a rock solid, top class system. It can handle a lot of pressure.

2. d4 d5 3. Nc3

White commits his knight this way, so he has blocked the pawn. If he had advanced the e-pawn, then I have an interesting variation to use, the Shy Cat defence. But against Nc3 I also have a pet to call upon.

e6!

Routinely, most players would grab the pawn on e4. But there are less winning chances in cracking the position open so early. I wait for e5 because I don’t want to capture.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.26.30 PM

4. e5

White gains space. Alternatively, he could bring out a second knight, then I would play Bb4, forcing e5 anyway. But he doesn’t need to be persuaded today.

c5

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.31.33 PM

The pawn is no longer needed to support d5, because I won that battle. So now the fight is over d4 instead. I have reached a position in the main line French Defence, where White has an extra move, but it was invested in Nc3 which hurts him a little.

The Caro-Kahn and French are closely related cousins, and in fact, Caro arose out of an attempt to improve the French Defence by using a slower move order. The lightsquare bishop is considered a ‘weakness’ of the French, it is blocked in by my pawn on e6 and thus doesn’t have much useful activity. So grandmasters invented the Caro to activate the light square bishop first, and then e6.

But today I played e6 first anyway, losing a turn.

5. Bb5+?

White cannot play this move. It gets him into a world of trouble.

Nc6 6. Nf3 a6 7. Bxc6+ bxc6

With this recapture, I get the bishop pair, and a second pawn to attack d4.

8. 0-0 cxd4 9. Nxd4 c5 10. Nf3 Bb7

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.41.24 PM

Steadily making progress. I’ve won the d4 square.

11. Bg5 Be7 12. Qd2? d4!

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.43.20 PM

The game is already in my favor after 12 moves. White has a big lead in development, and that has no relevance whatsoever to the outcome.

I simply have the higher ground, and I’m pushing him backwards.

13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Ne2

The knight would have preferred a more active square, but I control all the lanes.

Bxf3 15. gxf3

I destroy White’s pawn structure.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.47.09 PM

Ng6

Attacking Black’s e-pawn.

16. f4 Nh4

Now threatening Nf3+, picking up the White queen.

17. Qd3 Qd5

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.49.12 PM

The d5 square, which I captured in the opening, is used as a launchpad to finish the game with Qg2#, checkmate.

18. f3

White has to block that square.

c4!?

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.51.03 PM

Letting go of some of my booty.

19. Qxd4

Of course, White would love to have my center pawn.

Nxf3+

But this takes his rook down.

20. Rxf3 Qxf3 21. Qxc4 0-0!

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.53.30 PM

The job is done. White has lost the exchange, so he’s material down. I won by move 50. What can I say? A rook is simply stronger than a knight. Below is the final position, with the full scoresheet.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.55.41 PM

I didn’t need any special skills to win, although some technical ability was needed to convert the endgame. This was simply about capturing two key squares, d5 and d4.

Once I had them both, the game was in the bag.

Democratic Presidential Debate, 2015

I listened to the full debate and these are my impressions. I will only look at it only from the perspective of the two frontrunners, Hillary R. Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.

I only got to 40 minutes, but I think that’s plenty and i didn’t have the time to get to the full 2 hrs. The scoring for all segments is out of 10 points.

debate

Introductions

Bernie Sanders (8): Coming out forcefully, Sanders did not spend a single moment introducing himself. He highlighted major issues, the increasing influence of money in American politics, the high prison rates. He concluded, “That is what this campaign is about.”

Hillary Clinton (4): Hillary took a long time to introduce herself, highlighted a bunch of policies she plans to implement. Something about increasing taxes on the rich, and longer paid maternity leave. Clinton also touted to accomplishments and promised to talk about them later.

Impression: Hillary strikes me as a person who promises a bunch of stuff like the advertisement on groceries. You know, buy our detergent and we’ll clean your shirt for you. Sanders is a revolutionary. He wants to set the system on fire.

Hillary Clinton: Would you say anything to get elected? (2)

I always take in new information and have a range of views but they are rooted in progressive values. I’m a progressive, but a progressive who likes to get things done. (Translated: Yes, i would.)

Bernie Sanders: How can a socialist like you win the White house? (6)

We’re going to win because we’re going to explain what socialism means. We have to look at socialist countries like Norway and Denmark and see what we can learn from them. Republicans win when there is low voter turnout. My campaign is bringing in large turnout and voter excitement and that is what we need to win the election. (Translated: I am not going to win.)

Hillary Clinton: Are you a capitalist? (4)

I believe in capitalism and part of my job is to save capitalism from itself. There is no need to question the system all the time and what is needed is reform to make sure it doesn’t run amok. I love Denmark, but we are not Denmark. (Translated: I am part of the system, even if it doesn’t work.)

Bernie Sanders: Are you not a capitalist? (9)

Am I part of the casino that enriches the top few while the rest of society flounders. No I’m not. Of course we have to support SME businesses. We can have all the growth we want, but that doesn’t matter if all the wealth is going to the top 1 percent. We need to support fair distribution of wealth. (Translated: Fuck capitalism.)

Bernie Sanders: Gun violence. You voted against the Brady bill. So do you shield the gun companies from lawsuits, or not? (3)

I have a D- record with the NRA. I don’t want to shield gun companies. But it is a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it I didn’t like. (Translated: I’m not going to tell you why I voted what I did.)

Hillary Clinton: Is Bernie tough enough on guns? (8)

No. We are losing 90 americans per day to gun violence. He voted against the Brady bill 5 times. He was giving immunity to gun manufacturers. (Translated: Bernie is trying to make kids die everyday and I’m an angel. )

Bernie Sanders: How are you going to get gun control bills past congress? (5)

There is a difference between rural and urban attitudes towards guns. We need to enact broad bills based on common sense. (Translated: Gun control bills? Congress? You are joking.)

Hillary Clinton: What will your response be to Putin on Syria? (1)

I applaud the current administration on how they are dealing with Putin on Syria, which is to sit down and talk to them that they should be part of the solution and not causing more chaos on Syria. (Translated: I don’t know what I will do about Putin. I don’t even know what Syria is about.)

Bernie Sanders: What do you think about Syria? (3)

I think it’s a quagmire in a quagmire. I learned a very powerful lesson about the nature of quagmire. I will make sure America  does not get into a quagmire. I do not support putting American troops in Syria. (Translated: Stay away, stay away, stay away!)

Bernie Sanders: Under what circumstances would you use force? (5)

A no fly zone in Syria would lead to serious problems. I voted to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I voted to end Osama bin Laden. I do not support US getting involved in unilateral action. (Translated: I will never use force. Period. )

Hillary Clinton: How do you justify your votes for the Iraq War? (7)

I remember 25 debates I had with then-Senator Barack Obama. We argued about whether my judgement to enter the Iraq war is correct. But after he won, he immediately recruited me as Secretary of State. I believe this says he valued my judgement. (Translated: Yeah I was wrong. But damn I’m not going to apologize, not in front of so many people. I have faceee.)

Scoring

Bernie Sanders: (8+6+9+3+5+3+5)/7 = 5.57. Sanders had a slightly above average performance, but not impressive.

Hillary Clinton: (4+2+4+8+1+7)/6 = 4.33. Hillary Clinton was underwhelming.

Bernie Sanders win the First Democratic Presidential Debate.

Drifting

I have been feeling lost recently ever since the painful breakup, with the girl I hoped to spend the rest of my life with. The guilt of leaving her when she had cancer, it was unavoidable though. I had always planned to have kids and I don’t handle it too well when my loved one is hysterical. She was taking it out on me on a daily basis, transferring her anger at her life cut short. I walked out realizing she had less than 10 years to live and I couldn’t live with the shadow of death haunting us both.

In the final days, she screamed at me and I would withdraw as I usually do. And I wouldn’t talk to her for several days. Then we would reconnect. Ailex said it sucks to part like this but she understands. Why spend any time together if her life is going to be so short?

I told my beloved that I can handle the illness if she doesn’t take it out on me. But she said its only fair to take it out on your closest partner. Who else can she take it out on? I knew it had to be me. Cos she was estranged from her family.

One day I said I’m going. She told me a lie and I caught her in it and she had never lied to me prior. She didn’t reply to my text because of her (mood swings) and told me instead that her phone is broken. I knew instantly it was a whopper. I was done. Honesty is important especially in relationships, and it was a straw breaker for me on top of all the other issues we were facing.

I didn’t contact her for many months. Then finally I decided to check if she is still alive. She was. In many ways still the same person, gamer girl with too much enthusiasm. I realized this is the same person I fell in love with. She is the person who pretends all her problems don’t exist and bottles it up. No wonder she took it all out on me. There was literally no one else she can take it out on. I was so angry at her for being rude to me but kind to strangers. But this is just her character.

I was plagued by much doubt for so long. But I finally found the answer. Sometimes in life you never get the answer. But I managed to get the answer for this one.

She did love me. And still does.

It was a relief. I can finally close this chapter of my life.

Time to move on. I went off, and then took a shower.

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