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Sherman A1

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Gender: Male
Current location: U.S.
Member since: Sat May 13, 2006, 07:37 AM
Number of posts: 34,063

Journal Archives

On Chess: Chess And Mathematics

As a professional chess player and Ph.D. in applied mathematics, I have always been fascinated by the relationship between the two disciplines.

What does chess require? Concentration, planning, patience, self-control (playing fast does not pay off), conduct rules, mistake learning, etc. Therefore, learning chess might affect the ability to concentrate, memory, other types of executive functions, as well as increasing intelligence and problem-solving skills.

The relationship between chess and mathematics in seen in a number of ways:

Chess promotes thinking skills of higher order
Analysis of positions has a lot in common with mathematical problems
Correlation: to decide what piece is best to sacrifice at a certain point
Introduces a coordinates system
Introduces geometric concepts (files, rows, diagonals)
Requires constant calculation
Develops visual memory
Spatial reasoning skills
Capacity to predict and anticipate consequences


Missouri River Flooding Didn't Just Damage Farms, It Impacted The Global Supply Chain

Farmers along the Missouri River and its tributaries are still assessing damage from recent flooding.

But beyond the farms in parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, there’s visible evidence that the impacts are far-reaching and long-lasting — closed interstates and rerouted trains — key cogs in a global agriculture economy.

“We want to be a country that can capitalize on our agricultural prowess to not only satisfy customers domestically but also internationally,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “And in order to do that, you have to have this ability to connect supply with demand.”

In rural communities, many gravel roads became impassable and some bridges were entirely washed out, Steenhoek said.


After 12 Years Away, St. Louis School Board Gets Ready To Regain Control

For more than a decade, the St. Louis Board of Education met every month in a school library, gym or cafeteria across the city with only the most diehard public-education watchers in attendance.

Despite keeping up appearances, actual control of the city’s public-school system had been forcibly handed over to another body more than a decade ago. The board has been disenfranchised since a 2007 state takeover of St. Louis Public Schools amid rising deficits, falling academic performance and revolving superintendents.

But the school board kept at it, holding elections and conducting meetings. Those meetings are taking on new importance as the district is on the verge of getting back local control. They’re now held at district headquarters; the superintendent and other district leaders attend.

Two new members will be elected to the board Tuesday. They’ll join just a few weeks before reinstitution of its power to oversee the education of more than 21,000 students.


Criminal Justice Reforms Advance In Missouri House

A Missouri House committee has approved major changes to the state’s criminal justice system, including giving judges more leeway in nonviolent crime sentencing.

The action Thursday by the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is just the first step in what its chairman, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, acknowledges could be a long fight.

“We have to have a fight with some of our friends and colleagues who are good conservatives and good Republicans just to convince them that this is morally the right thing to do and that this is fiscally sound and fiscally conservative,” Dogan said.

The legislation, which Dogan is calling the Missouri First Step Act after the federal reforms signed by the Trump administration, also includes the following provisions:


St. Louis Officials Prepare Sewers And Levees For Flooding As Mississippi River Rises

As the Mississippi River continues to rise, utilities and government agencies in the St. Louis region are taking steps to protect sewers, levees and other facilities that could be affected by moderate flooding.

Above average snowmelt and rainfall from northern parts of the Midwest have caused river levels to rise in the St. Louis region. The National Weather Service reported Thursday that the river at St. Louis is at 34.8 feet. Meteorologists expect the river to crest at 36.3 feet by late Wednesday.

In anticipation of moderate flooding, which occurs at 35 feet, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, plugged two manholes in St. Louis, in north and south St. Louis.

When river levels are high, there’s an increased chance that flooding could overtake the sewer system, said Bess McCoy, a spokesperson for MSD.


Michael Brown's Mother, Lezley McSpadden, In 3-Way Race For Ferguson City Council

Nearly five years after Michael Brown’s death sparked protests and a movement over police treatment of African-Americans, his mother, Lezley McSpadden, is running for a Ferguson city council seat in the southern part of town where her son died.

“I hope that people will see that I’m still standing after all that I’ve been through,” McSpadden said. “And I’m still fighting. And I will always be a voice for Michael Brown and all of our other black and brown children who are being mistreated and who have been up against police brutality.”

McSpadden doesn’t face a clear path to a three-year council term in the city’s 3rd Ward. She faces an incumbent, Keith Kallstrom, with extensive experience on the council. And McSpadden must also get past Fran Griffin, who has support from residents that have pushed for change in Ferguson’s government.

After her son’s death, McSpadden became an advocate for overhauling policies around law enforcement — including testifying for a Missouri Senate bill to make police body cameras more widespread. She also wrote a book about the aftermath of her son’s death and also worked on federal mental health legislation with Howard University.


Missouri House Committee Looks To Make It Tougher To Get Initiatives On The Ballot

An election cycle in Missouri that saw 371 petitions submitted to change the state’s laws or constitution is prompting a new discussion among lawmakers about ways to limit the process.

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard several hours of testimony on nine proposals Wednesday, though it did not vote on any of them. Measures making similar changes are awaiting first-round approval in the Senate.

Some of the proposals charge a fee for filing petitions. Others would increase the number of signatures required to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot, or require a larger majority of voters to approve constitutional amendments.

“My concern is, 'How do we do something to make sure that, if we’re changing our constitution, it’s something that’s widely agreed by the people of the state?', but I also don’t want to make it more difficult for people, or unreasonable for people, to get something on the ballot,” said Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a proponent of reforms.


Contractor faces 20 years in prison for forced labor

he U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of California this month convicted the owner of several construction companies on charges of forced labor and harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain, according to a press release from the office.

Prosecutors charged Job Torres Hernandez of Hayward, California, with using his construction businesses to recruit undocumented workers from Mexico and then refuse to pay them. If they complained, he threatened them — and their families — with violence or with deportation. The trial also indicated that Torres held the workers captive in squalid living conditions and required them to work as long as 24 hours at a time.

Torres is in custody pending a June 2019 sentencing hearing at which he will face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $500,000, in addition to possible forfeitures and restitution.


Rare Documents Saved As Karpeles Museum Officials Pick Up The Pieces After Fire

Inspectors are going through the rubble of a historic-document museum in St. Louis trying to find the cause of a fire that heavily damaged the building. The former church in south city has been home to the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum since 2015.

“As far as the actual exhibits, we saved those,” said museum director Kerry Manderbach.

“I pulled the exhibits out myself, and the firefighters were also pulling things out right and left,” he added.

Many of those firefighters picked up manuscripts and other documents as they raced out of the building when it appeared the ceiling was going to collapse.


St. Louis Startup Teaches Kids To Use Computers To Grow Produce And Feed The Planet

At the St. Louis Science Center’s GROW exhibit on agriculture, a metal box casts violet light on a dozen basil plants.

A St. Louis-based startup called MARSfarm built the growth chamber, which it calls a food computer. The company’s instructions on how to build them and program small computers to grow produce are posted online. The small team that runs MARSfarm is also teaching high school students in the St. Louis area how to build them.

The startup aims to help astronauts grow crops on Mars. But since that’s years away, the company is focused on teaching people how computer technology can be used to help address the increasing demands for food on Earth, said Peter Webb, MARSfarm’s founder and CEO.

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