Saturday, October 27, 2007

Phenylethylamine, Adrenaline, and Romance

Have you ever felt a rush of excitement when you meet someone attractive? You feel happy and nervous; you find it hard to draw a breath. What's happening? Are you in love?

Let's examine what's really happening behind the scenes. That handsome guy or pretty gal just tripped the phenylethylamine (PEA) switch in your brain. In turn, PEA causes a flood of neurochemicals like adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) to wash into your brain. These make you feel excited, on edge, ready to take in introducing yourself to this new object of your attention and perhaps gathering up the courage to ask for a date.

Truly love is a four-letter word spelled R-I-S-K, so it's a good thing God put this circuitry in us. When you give yourself completely in love, you of course run the risk of being disappointed, perhaps even deeply wounded. If we could not overcome risk aversion, we'd never be able to enjoy love. Now the love that a man and a woman share in the covenant of marriage, and the love that they pass on to the world through their children, are the pinnacle of His awesome creativity. If you don't believe this, check out the scene in the Garden of Eden; after creating everything else, God created a man, Adam. Yet it was not good; Adam needed a love to share, so God created Eve.* Yes, love is wonderful. But it's so risky that we'd never go for it without a boost from PEA and its neurochemical companions. They're good stuff.

Like any good thing in creation, though, we humans are fully capable of handling it badly. Let me illustrate this with an example: suppose that you meet someone who makes your knees weak, but has significant problems that would caution you against a long-term relationship. For example, that Tom Cruise look-alike might not share your faith, leading you to weaken it or even abandon it if you pursue him. That curvaceous knockout might be self-centered and catty, promising you decades of misery if you don't turn away. Yet PEA and its companions are working hard to overcome your better judgment and make you fall head over heels. Too many folks, young and old, just go with the neurochemical flow--and live to regret it.

So how do you deal with this conflict between powerful feelings and good judgment?

1. Remember that this powerful rush of chemicals will soon pass. Scientists tell us that after a few months of dating, the tide of PEA and epinephrine that overwhelmed you when you first started dating will start to ebb. Within a period of 18 months to 4 years, it will have run its course. That seven-year itch you've heard about is really a 2-to-4-year itch, and the divorce statistics bear this out. The husband or wife (or both) will say "I'm not in love any more"--because the adrenaline is gone.

Now before you start questioning God's interest in our joy, let me point out that God has designed us with another powerful neurochemical circuit to help a couple stay together even after the adrenaline passes. Oxytocin is sometimes called the "cuddle chemical," because it is released in your brain when your lover is affectionate with you. In the same way that PEA kicks off a reaction, oxytocin will trigger the release of endorphins that can give you a sense of well-being. So the trick is to cultivate a solid marriage relationship that leads to a mutual and lifelong enjoyment of the oxytocin circuit.**

2. Remember that you should learn how to deal wisely with a PEA rush before you get married. The PEA/adrenaline circuitry doesn't die just because you get married. So it's quite possible that at some point after your PEA circuitry stops working with your spouse, it will suddenly kick in when some other attractive adult acts interested in you. If you have not learned how to cope with this situation wisely, there's a good chance you'll follow your feelings all the way to their end: the destruction of your marriage and of your children's sense of security.

3. Stay away from the person who causes the rush, if he or she does not seem likely to be God's choice to be your spouse. If you're single, and this lovely person who triggers your PEA circuitry is godly and compatible, it could be OK to prayerfully see where things might lead. Indeed, you might be on your way to the greatest blessing this side of heaven. But there are several situations that would call for you to stay at arms length:
  • You're married.
  • You're single, but not ready to seriously consider making a lifelong, covenant commitment.
  • Mr. Wonderful or Ms. Lovely will not be ready to make a covenant commitment in the foreseeable future.
  • Mr. W or Ms. L does not share your faith, which is foundational to the health of your marriage.
  • Mr. W or Ms. L has a character flaw serious enough to require remedy before he or she can forge a successful, happy marriage.
Going nowhere near the temptation is the strategy that kept Joseph from succumbing to the charms of Potiphar's wife, and kept Daniel and his friends from giving up their faith in Babylon. But remaining at arms length is not always easy, of course. It could easily be the subject of another post, perhaps even many books. Here are a few tips:
  • Talk with a friend whose judgment you trust. There is power in numbers.
  • Talk with God in prayer.
  • Bear in mind the inevitable and severe consequences of letting a rush of feelings overcome your good judgment.
I welcome any comments from readers who have been working out how to handle the PEA circuitry, and its accompanying feelings.

* Whereupon the first man uttered the first palindrome ("Madam, I'm Adam").
I hope to elaborate on this in another post soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bragging on My Yellow Belt

...not that I study martial arts, though. I was too geeky as a kid to study martial arts, although I played plenty of baseball and sandlot football. I also wrestled a lot with Larry Pollard, my next door neighbor. He couldn't take a second derivative, but he could take me down in under 2 minutes, every time.

But now I have a yellow belt. His name is Benjamin Michael Falter, age 11. In the past 2 months he has learned a lot of discipline, not to mention self-defense, through his activities at Earwood's Karate Studio. He has worked hard, and now he has earned his yellow belt. I am so proud of the young man!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Dad and His Excellent Legacy

My friend Tammy Carwell is a business analyst at Seibels Bruce, and I have many times had the pleasure of collaborating with her on some project or another. A few days ago her dad passed away, so she and her family are cherishing his memories this week. Although I never met him, I can confirm that he has left an excellent legacy. Why I am so confident of that? Every day at work I see his legacy in action. Tammy is gracious, smart, compassionate, hard-working, and full of faith. Her life is an aspect of his legacy, and it is a good one.

My prayer is that I, like Tammy's dad, might leave an excellent legacy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Miracle of a Life

Today my father-in-law Dominic Francese celebrates a significant milestone--his 80th birthday. Our family has been greatly blessed by his presence in our house for these past several years, so I'd like to honor him by publishing this tribute composed by my wife Linda. Enjoy!

I want to tell you all a story: the story of Domenico Antonio Pietro Francese. Born in 1927 of a marriage between a bold adventurer and a shy peasant girl (my grandparents Nicola Francese and Fortunata Pagano), he was raised in an Italian immigrant community in Poughkeepsie, NY. Domenico was a boy “made of tomatoes, olive oil, pork fat, and pasta,” as he is fond of saying--a hard-working carpenter’s son, with a quick mind and a sensitive nature. As a child he lived under a dark cloud of hard times and Old World superstitions. As a young man he struggled to prove his abilities and satisfy his intellect. His dream was to become a professional musician, but practical considerations got in the way. Nonetheless he played his trombone in bands throughout the Hudson Valley and in the local philharmonic for many years. In time, Domenico made his parents proud by attending college and becoming a skilled professional in the printing industry. At the office he was known as “The Professor” because of his probing mind and thoughtful ways; in fact he was the only one of his peers to have studied past high school.

One day, he was told of a beautiful, intelligent woman who was also college-educated. She worked at the same publishing company, but in the factory—a gifted Mexican immigrant with no hope of career advancement. Dominic became her Prince Charming; as she told us later, their honeymoon together in Washington, DC was a Cinderella’s dream. They joyfully became both parents and teachers of five children. Despite the financial difficulties of raising a large family, Dad provided more than enough to feed our dreams—dance and music lessons, and instruments of all types, including violins, pianos and electric keyboards, trumpets, flutes, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, percussion instruments, saxophone, French horn, clarinet, lots of sound equipment for my brothers’ rock band—and throw in some harmonicas. Then came college for all of us, graduate studies for three, and, oh yes, the weddings. As a widower Dad eventually came to live with us, and for many years now he has blessed our home with humor, wisdom, love and service.

I don’t suppose, Dad, that you have ever thought of your life as a miracle. But consider this:

  • From simple beginnings, your life has blossomed and borne fruit like Aaron’s staff. Your life has been an offering multiplied, like the loaves and fishes. Most importantly, your good works have caused many to rejoice and to give thanks to God.
  • You prepared your children for success at great personal sacrifice, and now our whole extended family is abundantly blessed.
  • You gave up your dream of a musical career for your family, and yet through your children, grandchildren and others you have mentored, you have given the world more music than you ever could have alone.
  • The good works of your life have been far-reaching; you have often been generous to the poor, you have been a father to the fatherless and a counselor to many troubled youth.
  • You never stood in the way of your daughter’s call to missions, even though it cost you a great deal in worry and the sadness of separation.

For all of these reasons and more, I see your life as one touched by the grace of God—truly a miracle. And I thank you, Dad--once again--for everything. Happy birthday!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Paul Truong Has a Question to Answer, However...

In my last post about Paul Truong, I explained how a 1986 Chess Life interview with Life Master Kenneth Clayton acted as confirmation of his Vietnamese chess career and national titles. Recently, however, USCF Issues participant "Theodulf" dug up strong evidence that Paul has, in the past, publicly claimed an academic honor that he does not possess.

By searching at the Internet Archive, Theodulf found a page that had been part of the site. This was the home site for AOL's paultruong user--which is most definitely Paul Truong, candidate for USCF Executive Board. We know this because Paul has publicly listed his paultruong AOL inbox as the place to contact him by email in his capacity as Polgar Committee chair. The page was archived 8 times between November 2001 and January 2005, and each time, the heading of the page is "Paul Truong, Ph.D."

The problem here is that Paul has never (as of this date) received a Ph.D. It is quite possible that he has pursued graduate studies with the goal of earning a Ph.D. However, I consider the possibility that a future USCF Executive Board member has at any time falsely claimed qualifications to be troubling. One important quality we desire in a leader is unquestioned integrity.

The heading of "Paul Truong, Ph.D" also shows up on a page that bills itself as the "Personal Chess Page of Paul Truong, Ph.D." While it is not impossible that the page could be a spoof, all the available evidence points in the direction of authenticity. The comments page shows that it has been in existence from September 2001 until today, and that lots of commentators have begun their messages "Hi Paul" or "FM Truong" and the like. Many comments speak of recent games played on internet chess sites with Truong:

Robert from Las Vegas:
"I have had a lot of great games with you, and i hope to have a lot more."

Chris "Blacksheep" Jones from Greenville, SC:
"Dr. Truong, I just wanted to thank you for challenging me to those lightning games on Monday. Many players of your strength would not bother with someone as low rated as me. "

John Panther D. from Pennsylvania:
"Hey Truong! its Panther from USChesslive!"

Of course, a mitigating factor is that Paul has never during his campaign for an Executive Board post claimed a Ph.D. Still....

As soon as I post this article, I am going to ask Paul to respond via a comment. I look forward either to convincing proof that he never authored the pages in question (although that appears to be highly unlikely, especially the AOL hometown page) or to an expression of deep apology. Either would restore my confidence in Paul's ability to provide capable leadership for the US Chess Federation.

Note: It is possible for site owners to ask the Internet Archive to remove their content from the Archive's database. It is also possible for whoever administers the site to alter it. Therefore, I have preserved images of the relevant pages below.

Training for the Last Transition

Recently I have come to the conclusion that I must stop frequenting the USCF Issues forum. There is nothing wrong per se with reading the discussions and occasionally (or in my case, often) jumping in. It's just that visiting the forum instead of putting my kids to bed or spending time with my wife or completing my work for the day is not a good thing. And forum participation has been supplanting the more important things far too often.

I have asked the forum administrator to revoke my access at his earliest convenience after midnight tonight. Telling him to do that has made me feel a bit like a hospice patient who has just asked the doctor to stop heroic measures so he can pass on from this life. There are so many interesting things going on in this world I've been in, and I'm not going to be able to learn about them or participate in them any more! I will be cut off from so many friends! I will lose work I've enjoyed doing! What's going to happen to me now?

When I think about my situation, though, I realize that the old is about to give way to something better. I very much look forward to taking more walks with Linda, to putting my kids to bed earlier, to wrapping up my work earlier. I might even blog more about life and religion, not just chess. It's a good change.

So this act of leaving an old world and entering a new one has been a kind of training for that last transition--when I'll be leaving this old world behind and heading on to my destiny with the elect, in God's presence.

Here's what I wrote in my farewell post to the USCF Issues forum:

"For the past week or so I've been trying to cut back on my time spent in the USCF Issues forum because I have other things in my life that should be getting more priority. Exercise. Relaxed dinners with my family. Helping Mike Nolan with USCF programming issues (to the extent that my contribution might help him). But like a moth drawn to a flame, or an alcoholic to a bottle, I just can't stay away. The only way I can see to deal with this is to ask Mike to revoke my access to this forum. Mike, please do so at your earliest convenience after midnight Friday evening (the interlude will allow me to go through my inbox and retain PMs from friends that I wish to keep).

"I initially considered just quietly walking off, but I didn't want anyone to speculate as to my motives.

"I want everyone to know that I have valued our interactions, even when we have disagreed. I have concluded that, basically, everyone who is participating in the forum has the best interest of the USCF in mind. As a result, we should view ourselves, and each other, as a community of USCF members who care about the well-being of our organization, and are interested in talking about it.

"Maintaining this perspective, however, can sometimes be difficult when participants use terms like 'Polgar supporters' and 'Polgar haters' or 'Polgaristas' or 'Sloan supporters' or 'Sloan haters,' and so on. This type of language implicitly divides our community into 2 groups:

* the reasonable and well-informed people who agree with me, and
* some other group of misguided souls who are not keeping the best interest of the organization in mind.

"If we allow ourselves to indulge in this kind of language, we are losing the battle to make ourselves a community of participants who can collaborate for good. Instead, we are selfishly turning the discussion into a battle to see who can win an argument. I cannot say that I have always and everywhere avoided this temptation, but I can say that I have tried very hard to avoid it.

"So suggestion #1 is:

"Do not use language (like "Polgar supporters" or "Polgar haters") that divides us into warring camps. Instead, use language that simply addresses the particular issue (and if necessary, individuals) at hand.

"I have also noticed that we often want to resume battles that we might have previously had with a fellow participant, should he or she disagree with us on another issue. "You always say XYZ" or "You're consistently rude" or "Joe Schmo keeps saying dumb things" are not constructive statements; they are invitations to combat. Such statements alienate us from one another.

"So suggestion #2 is:

"Don't deal with yesterday's faults today. Don't try to drag a previous conflict into today's discussion. Restrict yourself to the current issue. If you must address a continuing lack of manners or some other interpersonal conflict with someone, take the discussion offline by exchanging emails or PMs.

"Finally, I have been especially impressed by the genuine humility that Steve Owens and Harry Payne have demonstrated by openly apologizing for momentarily straying across the line of civility. They are setting an example for all of us. In addition, it is no sin to advance a viewpoint, and then to revise it based on the feedback and perspectives of others. If we are only trying to start and win arguments, then we have transformed ourselves from a community that cares about the USCF into a debating society.

"So my final suggestion is:

"Show some humility. If you momentarily lose your composure in the heat of argument, move toward reconciliation by apologizing. Value the perspectives of others, and acknowledge any contributions that influence your opinion.

"I hope that my circumstances might some day change so that I may rejoin this most interesting community. Until then, I wish you all Godspeed and great fruitfulness in your continuing endeavors."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1986 Chess Life Interview Confirms Truong's Early Career

While most of you were busy living productive lives, a storm was brewing in the USCF Issues forum over the legitimacy of candidate Paul Truong's claim to have won several Vietnamese national titles prior to his flight from that country at age 14. Since documentation from the period is hard to come by, some observers speculated that Paul was fabricating, or at least distorting, his Vietnamese chess career. (This is not to say that all questions are illegitimate, or that everyone who was asking the questions was doing so out of ill motive.)

This morning's blockbuster revelation is that in 1986, Chess Life Assistant Editor Randall Hough (yes, that Randy Hough, the sitting USCF Executive Board member) interviewed Life Master Kenneth Clayton about his encounters with Paul Truong in Saigon. According to the article,

At age eight, Paul won the closest thing that Vietnam had to a national championship by finishing behind only Clayton in a tournament at the sports club.

It appears that the Vietnamese members of Saigon's National Sports Center Chess Club considered the top finisher at a particular annual tournament to be their national champion. Clayton's account confirms what Paul stated elsewhere: he created an uproar on the Vietnamese chess scene by becoming their national champion at the age of 8. (Not that it was a big or important chess scene as the world of chess goes, of course.) Furthermore, I see no reason to question Paul's account of becoming national junior champ a few years earlier, and of retaining his title for 4 consecutive years following.

Some people are claiming that the lack of a formal Vietnamese sanctioning organization casts doubt on Paul's title claim. But I think we should view Paul's title in the light of other title claims in chess history. There was no formal world chess organization until 1924, but chess players everywhere consider Wilhelm Steinitz (1866-1894), Emmanuel Lasker (1894 - 1921) and Jose Capablanca (1921 - 1927) to be world champions. If you consider Steinitz, Lasker, and Capablanca to be world champions, why can you not consider Paul Truong to be a Vietnamese national champion?

If the South Vietnamese chess community saw fit to anoint the top finisher at one of their annual tournaments to be the national champion, I see no reason to dispute their view.

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Recommendations for the US Chess Federation Board

I thought I ought to go ahead and share my thinking on who the best 4 candidates for USCF Executive Board are.

1. Susan Polgar - Susan is an organizer par excellence of scholastic events. She has invested herself like no one else in the present and future success of the US women's chess program. She has been successful like no one else in getting sponsors for promising junior players. She brings unparalleled energy and ideas to the table.

2. Randy Bauer - Randy served as the budget director for the state of Iowa. He brings great expertise in aligning corporate structure with an organization's mission, and in managing budgets. He participates actively in the USCF Issues forum; he always listens well and speaks well.

3. Mikhail Korenman - Korenman did terrific work in Lindsborg, KS, by establishing the Karpov Chess School and staging a "Battle of the Genders" (Karpov vs. Polgar) as part of the Chess for Peace initiative. These activities generated $2 million in revenue for Kansas and a nice article in National Geographic. Korenman is intimately familiar with the scholastic chess community, and has some excellent ideas on how to strengthen scholastic chess.

4. Jim Berry - Jim and his twin brother Frank have invested a lot of money and energy into organizing some of the leading events for US chess professionals. Jim has enjoyed a successful career in financial services and serves on the board of an Oklahoma bank.

Paul Truong, Stephen Jones, Joe Lux, and Don Schultz would also do our organization proud if they are elected. I can only vote for 4, though, and I think that Polgar, Bauer, Korenman, and Berry are the best of the bunch.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

We Need New Leadership in the US Chess Federation

It will not be long before USCF members will be voting to select 4 members of the Executive Board from among 10 candidates. The candidates have all submitted statements for publication in Chess Life magazine, and in 90% of the cases, the statements reflect the candidates’ accomplishments and priorities. I urge all USCF members to read the statements and vote for candidates whom they feel will help the USCF to have greater positive impact for our pastime, our professionals, and (especially) our scholastic programs. But please read this before you vote; and if you share my concerns about the 10th candidate, please pass this information on to fellow USCF members.

Candidate and sitting Board member Sam Sloan has never disclosed a critical conflict of interest—namely, the fact that he has posted a large amount of extremely offensive material on his personal website that compromises the USCF’s mission. Here are the titles of a few of his web pages:

* “How to Rape a Woman” (instructions on how to commit the crime in such a way as to make prosecution difficult)

* “Still Even More Proof That Girls Can’t Play Chess”

* “World’s Worst P**n” (shockingly lurid artwork that young children have discovered while looking for materials related to the Pokemon card game)

There is an abundance of material even more shocking than this, but it is so offensive that I simply do not want to mention it.

Concerned with the impact that this repugnant material might have on potential sponsors and on the scholastic chess movement, members of the Board and other USCF members have asked Sloan to remove these pages. Sloan has decided he does not care what anyone else thinks; he has continued to publish this material, regardless of its effect on our organization.

According to Bill Goichberg (USCF President) and John Hillery (member of the US Open Committee), a major corporate sponsor was poised to provide significant funding for the 2007 US Chess Championship—until they ran across Sloan’s internet postings during their due diligence, and as a result decided not to associate with our organization. Sevan Muradian of the North American Chess Association also stated that 2 potential sponsors withdrew their interest in funding the same event when they discovered Sloan’s website.

Does the USCF really need to have Sloan’s website tied like an albatross around its neck as it tries to forge partnerships? Why should we continue to lose partnership opportunities worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, just because one of our Board members wants to post provocative material on his personal website?

But the ability to alienate sponsors is a stubbornly persistent trait in Sloan:

  • In October he denounced the motivations of the American Foundation for Chess (longtime sponsor of the US Championship, as well as of fantastic scholastic programs in the Northwest). In fact, Sloan even copied the head of the AF4C on the email to make sure he would read it! The Executive Board censured Sloan for this email.
  • Sloan has ridiculed sponsorships offered by Texas Tech University for national scholastic tournament winners, posing the question: “how many, who do not live in Texas, really want to go there?”
  • He has deemed the Susan Polgar All-Star Girls Team to be a fundraising “scam” with no worthwhile objectives. The fact that the Susan Polgar Foundation is providing memorabilia, positive publicity, and coaching for a week-long training camp for honorees is not relevant to Sam Sloan.
  • He publicly linked the AF4C to the dissemination of illicit, prurient materials on the web. The Executive Board almost immediately censured Sloan (again!), but it was too late--the AF4C withdrew its offer of $25000 in sponsorship money for the 2007 US Championship.

As the USCF continues to try to forge partnerships with individuals and organizations, do we want Sam Sloan to continue sitting on the Board, vilifying those who are trying to invest in the future of US chess?

In addition, Sloan’s campaign statements are full of puffery that does not stand up to scrutiny:

Sloan on His Censure: “When I demonstrated that a board member had rigged his own rating by submitting fraudulent rating reports involving fictitious players, causing him to resign, and when I notified the membership that the USCF had no money and no sponsor to hold the US Championship, the board voted to censure me the next day for telling the truth. It is up to the voters to decide whether they want the Official Secrets of the USCF to remain secret.”

The Facts: Sloan filed his accusations against former Board member Robert Tanner long before he took office, and in any case Tanner resigned soon thereafter. In the same October 2006 email in which Sloan insulted the AF4C, he mentioned the Tanner case. The Board has openly stated that its censure motions were the result of Sloan’s insults, and published (in our membership-only forum) the text to prove it. Sloan is trying to pull a fast one on the USCF membership by linking his censure to his Tanner accusations. The second Board censure came as a result of Sloan’s linking of the AF4C (and its predecessor, the Seattle Chess Foundation) with the dissemination of highly illicit materials. The censure motions are available for view in the USCF Issues forum, which any USCF member may read.

Sloan on Our Financial History: “I have started an investigation into how the USCF lost two million dollars. I have exposed payments made by board members to their political allies. I have in most cases (but not in all cases) stopped wasteful and ridiculous expenditures.”

The Facts: Since taking office, Sloan has made literally dozens of accusations of wrongdoing in the USCF Issues forum. Without exception, every single accusation has proven to be baseless. Here is a small sampling of the nonsense he has been foisting on the USCF membership:

1. Sam alleged that the USCF paid Susan Polgar $14,000 to be present at the 2003 US Open, where she did nothing. But in fact the fees and expenses were only $3000, just 21% of what Sam reported, and Polgar did give a simultaneous exhibition and lectures.

2. Sam stated that USCF President Bill Goichberg wasted $4788 in membership dues money by consulting an attorney with the intent of preventing Sloan from taking office. In reality, Goichberg consulted the attorney primarily for 2 other issues. In addition, he had used the attorney’s findings on election rules to dissuade delegates from attempting to unseat Sloan at the USCF Delegates meeting in August 2006.

3. Sam charged that GM Polgar has never paid any money to the USCF for items such as affiliate fees and rating fees. The reality, however, is that the Polgar Chess Center has paid its fees. USCF staffer Judy Misner has confirmed this.

4. Sam alleged that Chess Life has been giving Polgar free advertising for the past year. But in fact, the ads were the USCF contribution to a contractually agreed joint venture with the Susan Polgar Foundation (a 501(c)3 organization) to establish the Susan Polgar All-Star Girls Chess Team. The SPF is contributing memorabilia, positive publicity, and coaching for a week-long training camp to be held at the New York City Athletic Club July 24 – 27.

5. Sam contends that 3 Executive Board candidates favored by the sitting EB were allowed to run for office without paying their filing fee. Grant Perks, member of the USCF Finance Committee, has demonstrated that their filing fees were commingled with other payments that were deposited on January 31, 2005, and the 'Executive Board' account was credited $750 ($250 each) on the same day. The USCF routinely makes photocopies of checks prior to depositing them, and Perks has even provided photocopies of the checks to the Board. Sam claimed that they had not been cancelled, so it was all a fraud--but in doing so he only revealed his ignorance about how the banking system works (or perhaps his propensity to fabricate ridiculous allegations). Anyone who understands banking would recognize that after the USCF’s bank processed the checks, the cancelled checks were transmitted to the banks where the check-writers maintain their accounts. So it is impossible for the USCF to be in possession of the cancelled checks.

Sloan on Our Current Finances: “We completed the fiscal year on May 31 and there has been another huge loss. Other board members are now telling you that we are in the black.”

The Facts: Sloan published this statement in the USCF Issues forum on May 24. How could he possibly know that there was a huge loss? The year-end accounting will not be completed until mid-June at the earliest! And how could he possibly know what other Board members would say? Furthermore, Sloan provided not one shred of analysis in support of his notion; he simply asserted there was a huge loss. He did not provide any line item analysis; this suggests that he did not perform any line item analysis. (And how could he, weeks in advance of the existence of data?) Sloan appears to just make stuff up as he goes along.

We don’t need any more reruns of Sloan’s embarrassing show. Sloan contends that he has been good for the USCF because he keeps the Board accountable. This is ridiculous: firing off baseless allegations one after another does no one any good. In addition, any member--whether he or she be a small-time scholastic organizer like me or just another wood-pusher--who is truly interested in the good governance of the USCF, has the ability to make a positive impact. Our financial reports are published monthly. Virtually everything that the Board sees, members can also see by searching through the publicly available BINFO system. And if you want your voice to be heard, login to the USCF Issues forum and make a post. Members of the Board actively participate, and are genuinely interested in what we have to say. Members like Donna Alarie, a Massachusetts delegate, have been raising important issues for our organization in a positive way. We need more of Donna and others like her, not of Sam Sloan.

The USCF has been embarrassed and hindered by Sam Sloan long enough. It is time for us, the members, to say “no” to Sloan and his attempt to turn the USCF into a circus of absurd accusations. Instead, let’s vote for qualified individuals who hold the best interests of our organization at heart, and will work to make the USCF more successful in promoting American chess.