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food-for-thoughtQuestioning Accidentalism

Nicholas Carr refutes the idea that progress in media technology is “accidental”.

When you describe an event or a thing as an accident, what you are doing is draining it of all human content. You are saying that human intention and will and desire played no part in its occurrence. A volcano is an accident in human history (if not natural history), and if it’s a big enough one it may well influence the course of that history. But the the book, the printing press, the publishing house, the newspaper, and the newspaper company are not volcanoes. Their development was guided not just by blind circumstance but by human intent and desire. They represent, not just in the abstract but in their concrete forms, something that people wanted and that people consciously brought into being, for human purposes.

Why Are Russians So Good at Chess?

Because they are obsessed with it at a nationalistic level. From the Slate article:

Chess has long been popular in Russia—Czar Ivan IV is thought to have died while playing a match in 1584. After the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, it became a national pastime. Soon after the revolution, Vladimir Lenin’s supreme commander of the Soviet army, Nikolay Krylenko, laid the foundations for state-sponsored chess: He opened chess schools, hosted tournaments, and promoted the game as a vehicle for international dominance. The first state-sponsored chess tournament was held in Moscow in 1921. Six years later, chess prodigy Alexander Alekhine became the first Russian to win a world tournament. By 1934, 500,000 amateur players had registered with the state chess program. When Mikhail Botvinnik won the international title in 1948, he kicked off an era of Soviet domination that extended unbroken—except for a four-year streak by American Bobby Fischer—until the fall of the USSR.

So Who Are the True Elitists?

The author of the article literary claims:

Given two people with comparable levels of intelligence and technical skills, the one with less-reputable external marks of status will be more likely to display outward signs of elitism, arrogance, and snobbery.

via HN