No. 499: "Mistakes, I've Made a Few, but Then Again, Too Few To Mention …"
"Brain Games" sounds like a benign pursuit, perhaps a way to entertain bright children on a long car trip even if they'd rather be listening to their Discman than working out that the doctor was the kid's mother! "Mind Games," by (amusing) contrast, is a pejorative, generally referring to ways of making someone you've had sex with feel anxious and insecure. I say, if you can't do that simply with the sex itself, you don't deserve to have sex. "Mind Games" is also a particularly whiny John Lennon song, which, if played loud enough, renders some men incapable of sustaining an erection and many women indifferent to whether men can or not, so it could actually be registered with the Food and Drug Administration as a form of contraception or with Amnesty International as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Either way, we can all agree that it was Yoko who broke up the Beatles, and not a minute too soon.
You know how a player feels as the season is winding down, and it's hard to get motivated because the outcome of this game will have no effect on the standings? Well that's sort of how I feel, and I can't even ask the ball boy to run to the beer man for me. But on the other hand, I don't have to wear a polyester shirt with a big number on the back and there's very little spitting going on so I can't complain.
Philosophers refer to the Mind-Body Problem, not the Brain-Body Problem, at least not when the new Victoria's Secret catalog arrives, and the philosopher is Peter Singer, who you'd think would have no real need for a pink lace teddy, at least not professionally, so he ought not to be billing it to Princeton University, which he does not do because, while a philosopher who thinks it's OK—fun even—to murder ugly children, he's also a man, not that he does, whichever things in the earlier part of this sentence that might be libelous (i.e., all of it), because he certainly does not, and even if he did, it would only be for satirical purposes, and I wouldn't mind. Or brain.
Another way to make the distinction: You can—and perhaps did—suffer brain damage, but there's no such thing as mind damage. At least not according to my HMO. Thank you. Good night. Don't forget to tip your server. See you at Novocento.
Fated To Be Mated Answer
An English opening. Aptly enough, that's how Vladimir Kramnik began his 14th encounter with Garry Kasparov at the World Chess Championships. Kasparov countered with a Double Fianchetto Variation.
Throughout the October contest, Kasparov, the reigning champion, has mystified the crowd with his poor play and lackluster attitude.
"The big question is, why has Kasparov seemingly collapsed psychologically?" said British grandmaster Raymond Keene, the match director.
"Just look at his body language," said Daniel King, another British grandmaster. "Look at his posture. He looks like a crumpled sock."
Not only is this a poor lesson to send out to slouchy kids around the world, but it is an astonishing departure for the usually ferocious Kasparov who has not lost a match to a person in 15 years, although he was beaten in 1997 by IBM's Deep Blue, a powerful computer that sits up straight, to the extent that it can be said to sit.
Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.