The 6th round of the Sinquefield Cup 2015 finished on Saturday finished with Carlsen and Aronian tied for first. But the news wasn't about the tournament leaders, it was about the So-Nakamura game. The top players in the world have their ratings and rankings for a reason--they're capable of playing inspired chess that the rest of us can only marvel at. Nakamura had a game that was so scintillating, SO..Nakamura (sorry Wesley), it's destined to be make his "Best Games" collection. If you haven't seen it, you can play through the moves below.
Despite the beautiful chess, the position shown after 29. Kg2 had computer analysis finding even stronger, more exact moves. While Nakamura found 29...Be3, which we humans want to give an exclamation mark, the fact is that the computers found a crushing continuation: 29...h3+! 30. Kxh3 Rf2!! leading to many fantastic winning lines. The chess engine I was following had 29...Be3 as -5.68 and 29...h3+ as -13.18.
Here are some stories that caught my eye over the last week:
- The NY Times has an opinion piece on "Why Vouchers Won't Fix Vegas Schools". The writer's argument seems to be, "Nevada parents do need choices, but far more than these vouchers can provide." ---deny all NV parents choice because not enough choices are provided. Huh?
- There's been a new addition to CTAN that looks great: the cleanthesis package provides "...a clean, simple, and elegant LATEX style for thesis documents."
- Think you have the right to free speech? ZeroHedge reports that Rutgers University tells its students they don't. Moreover, at Northwestern University, citing The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Ms. Dreger resigned this week from Northwestern University, where she was a clinical professor of medical humanities and bioethics, a nontenured gig she’d had for the past decade. In her letter, she writes that when she started at Northwestern, the university vigorously defended her academic freedom. Now, she contends, that’s no longer the case." A complicated story to summarize but the conclusion is noteworthy "The idea that institutions must acknowledge wrongdoing is central to Ms. Dreger’s academic work. It’s a theme of her recent book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, which takes to task organizations that try to stifle academic freedom or single out scholars for their provocative views.". Freedom of speech is under assault at the college level.
- Reason.com reports, "Old Dominion University has vowed to punish a fraternity for hanging three banners from a balcony bearing the messages: “Rowdy and fun—hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off,” and “Go ahead and drop mom off too…”." The president of the university announces, "I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This incident will be reviewed immediately by those on campus empowered to do so. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.". Reason weighs in on the crass display, "ODU is a public university, and is obligated to extend First Amendment rights to its students. I struggle to see how these banners could possibly be classified as anything other than constitutionally-protected speech."
- Yahoo News covers the results of some Common Core testin: "Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core's fundamental goals.What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams..."The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is," said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it."". Maybe next year?
- merinews informs us that if you're a math teacher then you probably don't like Common Core. The article claims, "....secondary analysis of the data on reactions of teachers collected during in-service teacher trainings on concept learning and pedagogy reveals that the most resistance to change in classroom processes comes from mathematics teachers....The most common plea of the maths teachers was found to be, that by adopting concept and process-based methods the course will not be covered and hence the rule method was the right way of scoring marks in mathematics.".
- As public backlash against Common Core forced proponents to back down from extolling its benefits to what's-the-problem-they're-only-standards, American Thinker goes a little deeper, "Common Core is about more than just a shift in educational standards. The architects of Common Core have always planned to integrate computer technology with Common Core standards under the guise of “closing the digital divide” and “preparing our children for the 21st-century workplace.” ....Initially, in order to continue to be eligible for Obama’s “Race to the Top” federal funding, states were obligated to implement a Student Longitudinal Database System (SLDS), used to track students from preschool through college (P20-WIN). Some of us may recall the many reports about measuring 400 data points. This is part of SLDS. Those of us who are paying attention may have assumed that these data points were going to be gathered via the Common Core assessments. Perhaps some of us assumed that “opting out” or refusing the test would keep us safe. Not so fast. Could these one to one devices be another carefully disguised method of software-driven mass surveillance of students? And in what other ways is data being collected?". An interesting article.