Tag Archives: World Chess Championships

On the Celebration of Thanksgiving and a Few Other Observations

“Monday Musings” for Monday November 26, 2013

Volume III, No 46/140

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THANKSGIVING  2013

by Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

To My Dear Family, Friends, Colleagues and Readers:

Thanks for being

Thanks for becoming

Thanks for all the good inside of us, intellect, trillions of neuronic connections

Thanks for our ability to feel love, compassion, and presence of God in us

Thanks for the arts, the humanities, flowers, music, and trees

Thanks for poetry, dance, ballet, ballads and symphony and

Thanks for science and the universe

Thanks for Socrates’ elenchus

Thanks for Aristotle’s enteleche

Thanks for Zarathustra, Buddha, Rumi, Mohammad, Ferdowsi, Avicenna, Goethe,

Jesus, Gandhi, Mozart, Moses and Abraham. Thanks for Hanukah, Easter, Purim and Bishvat

Thanks for my own mother, for Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Siena, Virgin Mary, Sappho, Matilda Maud, Susan B. Anthony and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem.

Thanks for family and connectedness

Thanks for the World

Thanks for eternity

Thanks for transcendence

Thanks for America

Thanks for life, and oh, yes

Thanks for timely death

But although humanity has come a long way, we have ways to go as reflected below:

Slavery in America

News media report practice of slavery in India, Africa, Pakistan, and other parts of the world. I submit that we practice slavery in America. I am referring to student- athletes who can barely read and write. They work like slaves to generate a product with sales in the billions of dollars, yet they get punished for accepting any gift from fans. The unfairness is accentuated by the practice of awarding coaches with less than a mediocre record, with contract extension and whopping raises sending their annual compensation into millions.

This is a repetition of 17th and 18th century slavery, and the epitome of hypocrisy and unfairness. The entire system is unethical. It should be illegal and ought to be banned. One reasonable solution is to pay the student athlete a salary and pay teachers to tutor them and bring up their academic standing not with phony non existing classes, but with real teaching, while they play their sport. Also, cut the exorbitant salaries of the coaches and give it to our school teachers who barely make ends meet.

Enjoying Chaos

Hype, hyperbole, and hysteria surround the congressional impasse partially shutting down the government. While everybody is fretting, complaining and climbing the walls, I find myself calmly and thoroughly enjoying what is happening. No, I am not a sadist enjoying suffering of others. No, I am not a masochist to enjoy suffering. No, this is not a shadenfreud to vicariously enjoy suffering of others. Then you might ask how could I enjoy the shutting down of government and suffering of the furloughed and idled?,,,

Well, what I am enjoying is the miracle of the Republic our founding fathers have created and graciously given to us: a government with three equal forces and importance who could pull their weight in debate, in polemic discussion and finally in action. It is the system of US government that blesses America that we enjoy. No dictator by issuing fiat is going to tell what Congress may do, and no supreme court may give the other branches of government its marching orders. Three branches of government are not only equal in theory and parlance, but in actuality. I am thankful for America and our Republic.

Enjoying Chess

Readers recall our discussion of forthcoming chess championship a few weeks ago. Well, we had the match last week and as predicted Magnus Carlson the 21 year old Norwegian chess player, a grand master at age 12, unseated the long-time champion Wiswanathan Anand who had reigned for seven years. Although not on camera, reporters have it that Anand wept.  Watching Carlsen play chess is like taking a tour of the inside of the brain of Mozart while he was composing the Jupiter Symphony in C major. It puts you little closer to God. A brief note from 1972 championship from a previous “MM”;

“Bobby Fischer died at age 64, on January 18, 2008. I was privileged to be in Reykjavick, in 1972, and see him in action playing chess with his Russian opponent Boris Spassky about whom I have written in the past. What impressed me about the young man, besides his bad behavior and total paranoia and mistrust for everyone, was his total mastery of the game, and his brilliance.  His kind of brilliance was unfortunately blinding and not illuminating. It was more damaging than benefiting. He is a good reminder of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), the most brilliant opera composer, writer and thinker of the 19th century. Wagner’s biological father was a Jew. Like Wagner, Fischer was also born to Jewish parents, yet like Wagner, in his life time, he piled an incredible amount of derogation and insult on Jews. Like Wagner, Fischer was an unrepentant and zealous anti-Semite.

There are plenty of reasons to bury the memories of Bobby Fischer and let him fade in dustbin of oblivion. But his brilliance in chess may be selectively used as a role model for teaching focus, determination and devotion to learning to our young people. He provides a good example of how to train the brains of our children and grand children. Let us celebrate him, and his contributions to the honored and honorable game of chess.”

Carlsen, on the other hand, is a wholesome young man unafflicted by any neurotic encumbrance and anti-Semitic fervor.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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Some Reflections and Observations

“Monday Musings” for Monday October 13, 2013

Volume III.  No. 39/133

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By Assad Meymandi, MD PhD, DLFAPA*

Reflections

Three things I do not understand:

1)  CEOs of big businesses like Merrill Lynch who send their companies to near bankruptcy and exit with a quarter billion dollar retirement package.

2)  Coaches who compile a less that a mediocre record, yet get contract extension and a whopping raise in their salaries sending their annual compensation into millions while our teachers barely make ends meet.

3)  Student athletes who can barely read and write. They work like slaves to generate a product with sales in the billions of dollars yet they get punished for accepting any gift from fans. This is a repetition of 17th adn18th century slavery, and the epitome of hypocrisy and unfairness. The entire system is unethical. It should be illegal and ought to be banned. One reasonable solution is to pay the student athlete a salary and pay teachers to tutor them and bring up academically, while they play their sport.

 World Chess Championship in Raleigh

Masters from all over the world will be convening for 2014 chess championship. The 2013 champion is a 22 year old Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen who became a grandmaster at age 13.  It would be exciting if our Raleigh Visitor’s Bureau would attempt to bring the match to Raleigh.

I was privileged to be in Reykjavick in 1972 and see the late Bobby Fisher playing chess with his Russian opponent Boris Spassky, about whom I have written in the past. What impressed me about the young Bobby, besides his bad behavior and total paranoia and mistrust for everyone, was his total mastery of the game, and his brilliance. His kind of brilliance was unfortunately blinding and not illuminating. It was more damaging than benefiting.

To me, Bobby Fischer was a good reminder of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), the most brilliant opera composer, writer and thinker of the 19th century. Wagner’s biological father was a Jew. Like Wagner, Fischer was also born to Jewish parents, yet like Wagner, in his life time, he piled an incredible amount of derogation and insult on Jews.  Like Wagner, Fischer was an unrepentant and zealous anti-Semite.

There are plenty of reasons to bury the memories of Bobby Fischer and let him fade into dustbin of oblivion. But his brilliance in chess may be selectively used as a role model for teaching focus, determination and devotion to learning to our young people. He provides a good example of how to train the brains of our children and grandchildren.  Let us celebrate him, and his contributions to the honored and honorable game of chess.

 David Edwards/Le Laboratoire

David Edwards, a professor of Biomechanics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has started a gallery at the Louvre Museum in Paris that truly combines science and art, dealing with how a primitive, nondescript stem cell is transformed into a neuron. David is so good at what he does, and I am so impressed by his brilliant mind and abundant practical imagination, that I think any one going to Paris ought to plan to go see this exhibit. He is so much in touch with how science and humanities overlap that we might invite him to become a Meymandi Fellow at the National Humanities Center in RTP.

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The ravages to two wars US has been involved for the past dozen of years is directly related to ever higher incidence of PTSD. More human lives (both male and female) are lost to domestic violence. 2011 recorded the highest number since we have been keeping records. The victims, especially children, are severely scarred and emotionally abused. Domestic violence is of epidemic proportion in certain segment of our society. Iraq war has worsened the rot on families of military returnees who experience post- traumatic stress disorder.

Fortunately, we have Interact of Wake County, a worthy organization that is taking the matter of domestic violence seriously. Interact is providing safety, shelter and emotional support for the victims and their families. Interact is shining light on the murky and unpleasant landscape of this unwelcome epidemic. Interact deserves the support of everyone.

 Repulsive Public Events

It is unconscionable for print and electronic media to devote so much space and time to absolutely repulsive stories dealing with people consuming huge amounts of food (hot dogs and doughnuts) for a cause or a prize. We have seen these races where people gorge 12 doughnuts or 2400 calories to run four miles which burns about 400 calories, to raise money for a worthy cause. The goal of raising funds for a worthy cause is holy, but the method is most repulsive. With the epidemic of obesity causing diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, I believe your story to encourage gluttony, profligacy and self indulgence was most unwise. I believe people ought to be encouraged to fast, lower caloric intake, and lose weight, while they run and engage in fund raising.

 Beethoven, The Mysterious Metaphysical Force of Deity

In 1824, Ludwig Van Beethoven was deaf. He was ill, temperamental, grouchy and uncooperative. He was 53 years old and ready to die.Yet he composed the majestic Ninth Symphony. I have heard the Ninth in many venues in Europe, Australia, America and even Africa, to audiences of tens of thousands. NC Symphony’s performance under the baton of Maestro Grant Llewellyn belongs right up there with the National Anthem of Europe conducted by the late Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic…Bravo!

 An Opera House for Raleigh

Gaetano Donizetti was one of the three bell canto opera composers (the others were Giacomo Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini) who made brutal demands on the vocal cords of his lady singers. We need to bring more of their operas to Raleigh. Also, the idea of Raleigh having its own opera House is most intriguing.

Raleigh is inching closer to becoming a late 16th century Florence where the arts, music, poetry and dance flourish; where brisk intellectual conversation and children’s laughter fill the air of its vast parks; where fountains flow with life and energy and where academia and business meet their maximum potentials. Raleigh is the essence of the NC State’s Motto, “Esse Quam Videri”, to be rather than to seem. Perhaps we can fit the new opera house in soon to be born Dix Park.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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