President Obama is now about to enter into a series of difficult talks on the so-called debt ceiling and the impending fiscal cliff. Lawmakers have until Dec. 31 to come up with a deal to prevent $700 billion from being cut from the federal budget.
Back in the 17th century, right around the time when the ideas of great thinkers like Descartes and Newton and Hobbes began to shape the world, a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher also tried to make his mark.
Kircher was something of a jack-of-all-trades. He wrote more than 30 books; he was a philosopher, an inventor, a historian, a scientist. Back in his day, everyone knew about him. But it didn't help his reputation that many of his theories and inventions just couldn't hold water.
There's a public middle school in Brooklyn, N.Y., called Intermediate School 318, or I.S. 318. Like others in the area, it's a Title I school, which means it has a poverty level that's more than 65 percent. But unlike other schools, it's got the highest-ranked junior-high chess team in the nation. In fact, Brooklyn IS 3-18 has won more than 30 national chess titles.
I.S. 318 is the subject of a new documentary called Brooklyn Castle. The film has picked up audience awards at the SXSW and Hot Docs film festivals.