Album 61

From Chessbase:

In 2012 Boris Gelfand reached the peak of his career by playing against Anand for the World Championship. He narrowly lost the match in the rapid-tie-break. Gelfand’s father has meticulously recorded the career of his son in 61 photo albums. These pictures inspired the documentary “Album 61” which now is shown at the Filmfest Hamburg in Germany.

Here’s the trailer:

The article is here.

Good to see that Boris is getting some publicity, still. He appears to have missed out on the current cycle of world chess championship rounds, but hopefully he will – once again – defy the odds and make a return to challenge for the crown.

I hear no silence

An op-ed in the New York Times (by Mairav Zonszein) claimed that the Left in Israel had been silenced by intimidation. It was a strike against one of the core values of democracy. Or, a form of delegitimization. Surprisingly, as Israel Matzav points out, an op-ed in Haaretz confirms the allegation is nonsense:

But we haven’t been silenced. We’ve just failed to make our case. For a dozen years, we have failed to win a majority in the Knesset. We have failed to convince other Israelis that the cost of holding onto the occupied territories is greater than the dangers of relinquishing them. In Zonszein’s analysis, this is because a right-wing cabal has shut us up, and there’s little we can do about it.

The truth is, we’ve failed because we’ve failed, and there is a lot we can do about it. Rather than whine in the New York Times about how we’ve been silenced, we need to figure out how to speak to other Israelis so that they will listen. The answer is not to convince readers of the New York Times that Israel is no longer a democracy. The answer is to accept that Israel is a democracy, and that democracy demands that we speak to our fellow citizens and listen to them, that we persuade them rather than dismiss them. Zonszein argues that democratic politics in Israel are hopeless. The fact is, it is in Israeli democracy that our greatest hope lies.

Read Israel Matzav’s analysis in full, here.

Where I might differ in that analysis is that I believe there are ideas that the Left in Israel could get backing for, but to do so they would need to jettison some articles of faith. And I think they know that, but are reluctant to do so. For example, blaming the ‘settlements’ and construction there for every so called setback in peace negotiations, just does not work. When you get down to the details, and the possibilities attainable through negotiation, you see it’s a handy excuse, but it doesn’t stand up to examination. It’s a complex situation, beyond the scope of this post, but for now it’s enough to note that I will be keeping my eye out for new developments from that sector. After all, they are free to speak up any time they want.


I do not normally read short stories. Over the years, I have made various attempts – in both crime and science fiction, especially – to get more acquainted with that form of fiction, but have never succeeded. So, it took an exceptionally strong review and recommendation for me to buy this collection of newly commissioned short stories, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, on the theme of rogues. (Surprise!)

Inevitably, the book trades on Martin’s Game of Thrones success by promoting that it includes a new story from that world. And equally inevitably, it’s a stinker. It’s a partial history of the early life of Daemon Targaryen, and reads like a trip through the author’s background notes (or database) with event after event, occasionally freshened up with a sparky comment or two. But there’s no meaningful dialogue, no plot as such, and nothing much of value, except for Game of Thrones’ fanatics.

Fortunately, there are some other works that more than compensate for Martin’s clunker. Continue reading

Maserati Jews?

A wonderful spot at Harry’s Place:


Given the Mondoweiss site’s focus on Israel and matters of that ilk – like, er, the Jews – a certain part of me sees this as ignorance of the highest order. Another part of me cautions that it may have been a late night post by a tired, weary intellectual, and a mistake borne of fatigue, not stupidity. Generally, I get things right the first time, though.

A question for the world’s media

Here’s the question:

Are Arab lives only valuable when their deaths can be blamed on Jews?

Here’s just part of the context from Haaretz:

U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding militants, a group monitoring the war said on Monday.

The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an Islamic State base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate comment from Washington.


The strikes in Manbij appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory which gathers information from sources in Syria.

It was the Elder of Ziyon who first posed the question (see here) while skewering John Kerry.

But there are more questions the Elder, rightly, poses:

Will reporters even ask the State Department about this? Will there be sarcastic comments about US pinpoint airstrike capability and intelligence? Will there be any video reports showing mangled bodies and wailing mothers? Will anyone say that targeting a grain silo is a war crime of depriving people of food, as Goldstone did?

My questions:

Are there any real journalists out there?

When is Mr Kerry going to apologize?

You may have your own questions. All right thinking people should, in the light of this scandalous hypocrisy.

Fatal Frost – James Henry

The second of the reborn Frost series, this repeats the success of the first: you get familiar characters in an entertaining plot (this one a bit less wobbly) that delivers a great page turner of a book. It’s not great literature, but it is not bad literature – so much as there is such a thing. It’s well written in the sense that it does what it sets out to, and does that well.

So far as the details are concerned, it is 1982 (I think) and the events are kicked off with the discovery of a young girl’s body in Denton Woods. Then, in the midst of a golf club relaunch, Superintendent Mullet is called to deal with the body of a young boy on the course. And, to top it all, there are burglaries and robberies happening all too regularly.

The background does throw up some references to the Falkland War of the time. That was not so convincing. The introduction of a black officer from the Met is more roundly realised.

Of course, things get worse in Denton, and Mullet wants it all sorted, and sorted now!

Although the plot is suitably twisted, it’s the central character of Frost upon which the whole exercise hangs. It is a testament to R D Wingfield’s creation, that the character manages, with ease, to shoulder the burden.

In short, if you liked the other books or any of the TV stuff, this will not disappoint you.

Shabbat Gaming

The perfect antidote to a three day chag, is a spot of gaming.

We started with Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition, where Peleg trounced us all – but especially last placed me – with a 100+ points in completed tickets.

We then had games of Battleline, Carcassonne, and Dominion: Intrigue on the go at the same time.

Lori and Peleg were all even after two games of Battleline. Susan won the Dominion game against Chaim and Laurie. And Yehuda won a couple of Carcassonne games against Michal and me

And after all that, we had a nice seudah. Great stuff.

Shavuah Tov!