Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself because no one seems to understand what I’m saying, but other times I feel like I’m talking to myself because people say exactly what I’ve thought before.
In the first case people are usually totally bored and think you’re stupid because they really can’t quite follow what you’re saying or it does not seem important or true to them.
It’s like you’re speaking an Alien language. When this happens to you a lot it can either mean you’re crazy or you’re a genius.This happened to me so much that I decided to just call my personal alien language “Voynich”.Of course I believe I’m a Genius. Some close friends say I’m just slightly “off my rocker”.
How many people do you think enjoyed chatting with Einstein about what it would be like to be “sitting on a lightbeam” ? How many sailors do you think were wondering what kind of brew Columbus was drinking when he first tried to convince them that the world was really round ?
The second type of “talking to yourself ” is even more fascinating. In this scenario people are now quite excited to talk to you about some idea, they find amazing and novel, but while they are expressing it your eyes are the ones that might just glaze over because they are merely telling you something you already knew. They’re speaking to you with your own “voice”.
Years ago I said on a personal website that “Chess is the Martial Art of the Mind.” People in Jamaica were silent or a few just snickered. Chess has no similarity to Martial Arts, I’ve never heard that before, this guy is crazy, they all thought.
I was already being called the Chess Ninja by a few who knew my personal theories of the game, they thought it was an insult or a joke. I didn’t mind the name though and considered it a badge of honour because I understood that I was merely speaking Voynich to them. They could not understand. My site was called Chess Ninjas Dojo and I couldn’t even get the local chess federation to put a link to my site.
Someone who worked with Kasparov, the world’s best chess player at the time, came upon my website. He wrote me telling me he was very impressed by my site. He put a link for my site on Kasparov’s site. Kasparov’s site was the most popular chess site in the world at that time.
Strangely, it seemed that the World understood Voynich.
This man who worked for Kasparov later launched a website entitled http://www.chessninja.com . Chessninja.com became one of the world’s most popular chess sites. It is built on the concept of teaching chess like a martial art.
Now fast forward into 2010 and one of the most popular chess videos features Jamaican born grandmaster Maurice Ashley. In this video he promises to teach the secrets of chess.
Grandmaster Ashley makes a startling statement in the video “Chess is Intellectual Karate”. He is telling me my own idea. It’s like I am speaking to myself. My eyes glaze over. The world Applauds. It’s a standing ovation.
Remember this the next time someone says you’re crazy or they can’t understand. You’re possibly just speaking Voynich. One day the world will applaud and perhaps even beat a path to your door.
Indeed while it is true that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come, it is also very true that big ideas will most likely be questioned and rejected, then perhaps ridiculed and worst of all… be ignored… long before some latter-day champion , like Newton, “stands on the shoulders of Giants” and the ideas then become accepted as brilliant and then later on they’re considered obvious.
This symbol is commonly called the Yin Yang symbol. It’s also known as the Taichi or the Ultimate. It shows black and white combining and interacting to create a single whole, a circle. Within the black there is white and within the white there is black.
This symbol is used to represent anything in which forces apparently oppose each other and then merge to become one. Anything and everything from Business Strategy, Poker, Warfare or even Sex has been explained using it.
There are actually at least Four important Laws of the Universe explained by this symbol.
Law of Balance : For good to exist there must be bad. High exists because there is low. All things that exist have an equal and opposite counter balancing force in reality.
Law of Extremes : When a force is carried to its extreme it becomes it’s opposite. Bright Light can blind you and likewise Complete Darkness can blind you.
Law of Karma : All things are affected by all other things. What goes around comes around.
Law of Change : Things are dynamic, the only constant is change.
Although various schools of Martial Arts tend to emphasize one or two of these Laws all are actually worth understanding deeply.
Law of Balance for example is clearly shown in Aikido wherein we often see the Hard attacker neutralized effectively by Softness and purely defensive moves. In fact the attacker’s own energy is used against himself.
Many black belts possibly fear fighting a white belt more than one of the intermediate ranks. The white belt is completely unpredictable whereas the intermediate level fighter makes attacks that are easily foreseen and thus thwarted. Also, at the highest level, the highly knowledgeable realize just how much they don’t know and are therefore open-minded, like babies. This illustrates the Law of Extremes. In some styles there is even a belt above black belt which is a black belt with a white edge symbolizing this cycle.
The Law of Karma is the reason most styles emphasize that they are to be used only in Self Defence. To do otherwise will only attract doom.
The Law of Change is also clearly understood in many martial arts schools.Perhaps this Bruce Lee style JKD logo is worth looking at here.
The arrows try to show that it’s not a static or stagnant reality but a constantly changing and dynamic situation, fluid and ever moving.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” said Lao Tzu.
Understanding the Ultimate Symbol is a good place to start but remember to keep moving. Never stop.
Some people think you should always spend Valentine’s Day with a beautiful mistress, and I guess I must agree, for that’s exactly what I did, this year, and it was great fun.
My mistress is a real Goddess known simply as Caissa.
Let me explain before my wife gets too angry. Caissa is the “patron goddess” of chess players.
She was created in a poem called Caïssa written in 1763 by English poet and philologist Sir William Jones.
In the poem, the god Mars falls in love with the goddess Caissa, portrayed as a Thracian dryad. Caissa rebuffs his advances and suggests he take solace in the company of the god Euphron—the god of sport. After hearing Mars’ laments, Euphron
…fram’d a tablet of celestial mold,
Inlay’d with squares of silver and of gold;
Then of two metals form’d the warlike band,
That here compact in show of battle stand;
He taught the rules that guide the pensive game,
And call’d it Caissa from the dryad’s name:
(Whence Albion’s sons, who most its praise confess,
Approv’d the play, and nam’d it thoughtful Chess.)
Mars then presents the game of chess to Caissa in an attempt to win her affection.
So for die hard chess players, Caissa is often invoked as a source of inspiration or luck, they often say things like “Caissa was with me in that game.”
So, in other words, I spent the whole day,all of Valentine’s, just playing chess.
It gets worse too, I wasn’t even playing chess with anyone else. I was really just fiddling around with this new computer program I got which plays at the level of a real Grand Master.
I learned a whole lot of new stuff about how I can use computers to benefit my strategies on the board. Stuff which is totally boring to those who don’t realize that Chess is the best game ever invented.
Poker does have a lot of strategy too, but Chess is the Ultimate game. Both games are perfect for the internet era.
Anyhow I was totally excited to see how far things have come in the world of computer chess. I’m not a racing car fan, but I do like to think Laterally, so let me try to give an analogy of what’s happening.
Basically chess players now have real live Grandmasters sitting right on our desktops. This has happened because the computer programs are built like Formula 1 cars now.
The outer shell of the car is what the computer program calls the GUI or graphical user interface. Its the nice board and all the features you use to play the game. The eye candy if you will.
Two popular GUIs nowadays for chess are Arena and Fritz 11.
The real power comes from the Engine, so of course they’re called Chess Engines, that’s where the calculations are done and the evaluations of positions that makes the computers of today Grandmasters in rating level. The best engine around now is Rybka, which apparently means ‘little fish” in Czech.
The power of the engine also depends what type of hardware configuration it’s running on and how the resources of the computer are organized. Things like Hash tables, etc, (way beyond the scope of this intro) come into play here but suffice it to say the bigger the computer, (more memory, greater speed), is usually the better the result of the lines it calculates.
Deep Blue, the computer that beat a reigning world champion in a match, was a mainframe, but now an average desktop computer packs more than enough strength to beat a Grandmaster.
What really intrigued me though was that the human component is still way, way from being obsolete. Each of the top programs also uses what are called “Opening Books”. These electronic “books” are really huge trees of variations that the program will play. The strategies it will use in the beginning of the game. The basic approach to victory if you will.
What amazed me is that these books are critical to the success of the whole Program and they are made by Humans, by a laborious process like distilling wine. Men like Kevin Frayer, Dagh Nielsen and Sedat Canbaz are famous for producing high quality books to guide the chess machines like a Formula 1 Driver.
Humans must direct the brute force of the machine, for best effect, even though its admittedly more powerful than us in raw calculation. It’s like riding a horse, I guess. Where the “computer horse” and man work as a team,really closely connected, its a “Centaur”.
There are even tournaments where they have what are known as “Centaur” matches. Centaur is where a human using a computer plays chess. Usually of course using a computer is strictly prohibited for a tournament but now its becoming popular. I guess it’s like when the pocket calculator was first invented and banned from most Maths exams.
Learning all this from my Mistress was really fascinating to me. Just goes to show that I need a life, I’m a nerd or something but I was really totally happy all day long.
Wifey didn’t miss the roses either because she claims that she’s Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“Chess is a beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back, no matter how many times she rejects us”. –Bent Larsen.
Happy Valentine’s !!
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