We truly live in an insane world

I can’t say I understand this FT article so well, but I suppose that is the point.  Which are two groups/persons implicated in buying oil from ISIS, or otherwise enabling such trades to take place?

First, Syria.  Or is that “Syria.”

Second, the head of the world chess federation, namely Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: “he is best known for his belief in aliens — he has repeatedly recounted an instance when he was abducted in 1997 by “people in yellow spacesuits”.”  And this:

Mr Ilyumzhinov has a diverse business empire, stretching from sugar to banking, and a network of contacts to match. He regularly meets the Dalai Lama, and he played chess with Libyan president Muammer Gaddafi shortly before his overthrow.

He also has been working with the Syrian central bank.  Here is NYT coverage, here are other sources.  As the old Haitian proverb states, if you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on…


"Second, the head of the world chess federation, namely Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: “he is best known for his belief in aliens — he has repeatedly recounted an instance when he was abducted in 1997 by “people in yellow spacesuits”.”"

Ilyumzhinov defeated for election to head of the chess federation the great former champion Garry Kasparov, who has advocated for Fomenko's New Chronology, which asserts that much of history is a hoax:

"The New Chronology also contains a reconstruction, an alternative chronology, radically shorter than the standard historical timeline, because all ancient history is "folded" onto the Middle Ages. According to Fomenko's claims, the written history of humankind goes only as far back as AD 800, there is almost no information about events between AD 800–1000, and most known historical events took place in AD 1000–1500. ... Fomenko's historical ideas have been universally rejected by mainstream scholars, who brand them as pseudoscience,[30] but were popularized by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.[31][32][33]"


And Bobby Fischer was also banned by the US State Dept for playing chess for money in sanctioned Yugoslavia, and ended up in the Philippines, until he was buried in Iceland. Oh, the twists and turns of history!? And you do know of Philander Rodman? Hahaha...

FIDE has by all accounts become one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet. Kirsan didn't just beat Kasparov, he banned him from running for any office for two more years. Moreover, despite the rivalry between Karpov and Kasparov, Kasparov backed Karpov for the presidency several years ago in the hopes of displacing Kirsan. No such luck. Kirsan has ruled like a dictator for two decades now, and many a player and journalist has tried to look more deeply into FIDE's financial accounts, without much luck. The Stonewall variation works much better in politics than on the board.

Sports organizations (e.g., FIFA) seem to incline toward corruption and rips off, perhaps because they tend toward monopoly. For example, NFL supremo Roger Goodell probably wouldn't have made $79 over the the last two years if the NFL still had to compete with the AFL. A competitive NFL could probably get by paying its CEO $4 million per year rather than $40 million.

"And you do know of Philander Rodman?"

I follow the career of Philander Rodman Jr., father of former NBA star Dennis Rodman and 25 half-Filipino half-siblings. But I've never been able to find out anything about Philander Rodman Sr.

So, is the endgame that Assad survives with a smaller Syria,

ISIS decides the heck with world domination, let's just have a country in eastern Syria and NW Iraq,

the Kurds try to hold onto something,

the Turkmen in Syria find a better home in the mother country,

and the remaining Iraq becomes a puppet of Iran?

And, oh yeah, Putin claims credit for bringing peace.

Still more conflicts to resolve, but my head is spinning enough.

Ilyumzhinov would make an interesting bio fora bond villain.

True, but in 'defense' of Ilyum* I offer this partial defense: there's no money in chess. I know since i sponsor tournaments and have spent a couple of million (pesos) doing so. Therefore, any illegal skimming of monies is easily recognized, precisely because so little money is available, unlike for example in US medical care, where there's constant "legal" gouging of fees. So chess players are naturally resentful of this skimming. Here in the Philippines the national chess federation is despised and some players refuse to play in or pay into the system, unfortunately since no other ways exist to get Fide Elo points. The sad reality is that organized chess is largely a scheme to get players who have a compulsive desire to play chess as a hobby to hand over their money to organizers (pace me, since I never make a profit from my sponsorship). Money such as: national registration fees to get a Fide ID number (money goes into the pockets of national Fide officials and Ilyum* himself), entry fees for tournaments, hotel fees for the hapless foreign players who must stay in "Fide-sponsored" hotels (and you know there's a kickback from the hotel to Fide for this referral of customers), late payment of prizes (common), and, sadly. also common here in the Philippines, the actual reduction of prize monies in a tournament. No kidding: at the start of the tournament, and sometimes even at the end (!), it's announced that due to unforeseen circumstances the prizes to be awarded are cut or even eliminated.

I could go on, but since it's a small world and Asia has strict 'pro-UK' defamation laws (used as a weapon here, and especially in Singapore), I won't.

Bonus trivia: the treasurer of Fide was for a while, and maybe still is, a Greek, and Fide was headquartered in Greece. You know that's going to end badly, lol.

Not surprising. Syria is like a many body problem. All protagonists on the ground are enemies of each other, so alliances can form and shift based on perceived gains. Mostly Assad has left ISIS alone since they were fighting some of his enemies. He was much more concerned about The Free Syrian army and the Nusra front. As an example Syria's two main mobile phone operators do business in Raqqa.

Kasparov must be loving all of this on twitter.

'or otherwise enabling such trades to take place'

Prof. Cowen, leading light of the GMU econ dept., will soon provide an insightful analysis of the murky situation surrounding the reality of the mysterious concept known as 'smuggling.'

Is your bitterness without limit?

I think you know the answer

Followed by a long post with an explanation of the term 'fencing.'

I don't see anything confusing about this. Assad has been secretly allied with ISIS from day one for obvious self-preservation, enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend reasons. He's been intensively cooperating with Sunni jihadists since the second Gulf war. This is not news to Syria followers.

ISIS has been fighting Assad, attacking and taking cities and putting military bases under siege for a long time now. Did the Kuweires Airbase liberation not just happen? It's true that Assad has focused more on the other non-ISIS Sunni jihadists more, but everyone has priorities. If and when Assad defeats US-backed Al-Qaeda rebels, his army will then take care of ISIS.

It is not insane. The logic is similar everywhere, from top to bottom: maximize your utility why not giving a damn about the Other.

What is the relationship of utility maximization to, say, "self interest"? Is it acceptable to you leftists to have interests? Doesn't Marx say that the proletariat has interests? Of course he does.

So why should the world divide simplistically into -- as you put it -- either utility maximization OR other-regardingness? Indeed it doesn't.

"As the old Haitian proverb states ..": is that really an advance on the childhood "Confucius, he say ..."? After all, the old one was a cack-handed way of acknowledging a great teacher from a foreign culture, while the new one sounds like a rude put-down.

it's only insane to economists who expect people to act rationally...for the rest of us, it's par for the course...

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