Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Latest Indian Rape Outrage

A 10-year-old Indian girl was raped and impregnated. A court denied her an abortion.

Derek Hawkins, July 20, 2017 5:19 am. (The Washington Post)

court in India on Tuesday ordered a 10-year-old girl whose parents say she was raped and impregnated by her uncle to carry her fetus to term, ruling she is too young and her pregnancy too advanced to have an abortion.

The girl, who has not been identified, is six months pregnant and sought medical attention after her maternal uncle allegedly raped her several times, CBS News reported.

The district court in the northern city of Chandigarh based its decision on an opinion by a panel of doctors from the city’s Government Medical College and Hospital, where the girl was examined, according to the hospital’s medical superintendent.

"If you abort then the risk to life is greater,” the superintendent told The Washington Post in a brief phone interview Wednesday.

1970s law in India known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act bars abortions beyond 20 weeks, though courts have made exceptions if the fetus is not viable or if the mother’s life is at risk.

According to CBS, the hospital’s eight-member panel determined that the fetus was viable and could survive even if it was delivered immediately. CBS quoted an unnamed senior doctor on the panel who said abortion was “not an option at this stage."

The hospital told the Times of India on Tuesday: “The victim is six months pregnant, as revealed by her ultrasound reports. We have submitted our medical advice to the court regarding termination of the foetus."

The girl’s parents found out their daughter was pregnant after she complained of stomach pains, according to the Indian Express. She later reportedly told her mother that her uncle had raped her a half-dozen times when he visited the family home. The uncle was arrested, and the parents petitioned the court for an abortion, the Indian Express reported.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Avebury Reveals A Buried Ancient Stone Square Enclosing a Circle

From Live Science

Secret Square Discovered Beneath Neolithic Stone Monument


Hidden beneath the world's largest prehistoric stone circle, archaeologists in England have discovered an even older, secret square-shaped megalithic monument.
"Our research has revealed previously unknown megaliths inside the world-famous Avebury stone circle. We have detected and mapped a series of prehistoric standing stones that were subsequently hidden and buried, along with the positions of others likely destroyed during the 17th and 18th centuries," Mark Gillings, academic director and reader in archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, said in a statement. "Together, these reveal a striking and apparently unique square megalithic monument within the Avebury circles that has the potential to be one of the very earliest structures on this remarkable site."

The new finds are shocking for such an old site, which has been extensively studied by archaeologists since the 1600s. The Avebury site in Wiltshire, southwest England, is one of the most mysterious ancient monuments in the country. The  Neolithic monument was built largely between 4,850 and 4,200 years ago, according to English Heritage. Along with Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and Windmill Hill, the newfound monuments may have formed a vast sacred landscape that ancient people used for rituals and communal gatherings whose purpose remains shrouded in mystery.
The site of Avebury consists of a vast circular henge — of which all that remains is a 3,270-foot-across (1,000 meters) circular ditch and embankments — and an inner stone circle, which was once composed of nearly 100 massive, upright boulders and two smaller inner stone circles.
In 1939, Alexander Keiller, heir to a marmalade fortune and an amateur archaeologist, noticed that some of the stones in the inner circle seemed to be angular in their alignment. He believed the faint hint of a square may have been the remnants of a medieval cart shed, according to the statement. World War II soon broke out, and Keiller was unable to continue his archaeological surveys.
In the current study, Gillings used a technique called ground-penetrating radar, which maps the resistance of the Earth to the sound waves. He found several interesting features: A number of high-resistance objects (presumably buried stones), as well as lower resistance patches (possibly more deeply buried stones or construction debris), along with low-resistance areas (likely destruction pits). The orientation of these buried stones forms a square, Gillings reported in the study, which has not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review.

It turned out that the angular setting of stones that Keiller had discovered formed a stone square that enclosed a circular feature known as the Obelisk. While circular monuments from the late Neolithic period are common, square monuments were oddities at that time, the researchers noted.
The findings could shed light on why the Avebury monument was built — one possibility is that the square demarcates the boundaries of a first house or settlement in the area, which was then used as the center of the inner circle, the researchers speculate in the study.
"The completion of the work first started by Keiller in the 1930s has revealed an entirely new type of monument at the heart of the world's largest prehistoric stone circle, using techniques he never dreamt of.  And goes to show how much more is still to be revealed at Avebury if we ask the right questions," Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist at Avebury, said in the statement. 


******************************
Hola, darlings!  I thought this was a pretty interesting discovery, especially after all this time, Holy Hathor.  It appears that the ideas of ancient man, which archaeologists often say we "do not understand or know the purpose of..." blah blah blah, were actually well understood and adopted/adapted throughout the world in various cultures, often very early on.  So either diffusion spread some ideas like wildfire or independent origination of similar concepts were arising, often nearly simultaneously, in different cultures around the globe, or maybe there was one originating civilization from which concepts were carried away across the globe as mankind spread out.  Hmmm...  Only the Shadow Knows.

I was reminded of a couple of different, but related, concepts regarding circles and squares.  The first is very ancient and is Chinese - the square within the circle.  Briefly generalizing, in Chinese thought the Earth is "square" and the Heavens are "round" (a sphere encompassing the square plane of the Earth, or a dome [half of a sphere] hovering over it. The older buried square shape within the larger circle of Avebury certainly fits this description.  Here's a classic example from China - embodied in a coin:

Introduced by Emperor Wang Mang circa 9CE -
"HSIAO-CH'UAN CHIH-YI" (small coin value one).
Source: Calgary Coin.
The concept of the square Earth and the "round" Heavens, however, dates back to the mid-4th millennium BCE.  

Both Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition also uses the symbolism of the square "Earth" and the round "Heavens."  A nice summary of Orthodox traditions can be found in this 2014 article from the Orthodox Arts Journal.  Here's a classic example in Byzantine architecture, the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (f/k/a Constantinople), built in :

Hagia Sofia Greek Orthodox Basilica, Byzantine, built 532-537 CE.
Source.  You can see the outline of the original basilica, a square
(four corners) with a large circular dome over the center of the square.
The minarets are from the mosque(s) added later when Constantinople
was conquered by the Muslims.  This photo also contains a round
fountain enclosed within a square park (entire park not shown in photo).
Interesting, n'est ce pas?  More about the circle within the square below.

The other use of the circle and square symbolism is claimed by the Masons as part of their mystical tradition. It is perhaps best embodied in the Vitruvian Man:

The image above is from Richard Cassaro's website.  The first depiction is Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (1487).  He also shows other "Vitruvian Men" drawn by other artists during the 11th to 16th centuries CE.  Cassaro stated: "Note how da Vinci draws The Vitrivian Man inside a squared circle: he understood the implications of the Masonic doctrine."  Essentially, the square represented the human condition or the human body (the "Earth") and the circle represented the Divine within us (the "Heavens").  

Before leaving the topic of circle within a square and square within a circle symbolism, let's just look at a representation of circle within a square in Roman Catholic architecture - often embodied in basilicas, cathedrals and churches all around the world:
Florence Cathedral.  Sourcehttp://www.aviewoncities.com/gallery/showpicture.htm?key=kveit2757.  
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  Source.  
Orvieto Cathedral, Italy.  Source.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New Study of Mitochondrial DNA in Neanderthal Bones Reveals More About Our Origins

They're getting closer and closer and closer...to the truth.  I made a few notes, denoted in brackets within the text.

From The New York Times, July 4, 2017, by Carl Zimmer:

In Neanderthal DNA, Signs of a Mysterious Human Migration

With fossils and DNA, scientists are piecing together a picture of humanity’s beginnings, an origin story with more twists than anything you would find at the movie theater.

The expert consensus now is that Homo sapiens evolved at least 300,000 years ago in Africa. Only much later — roughly 70,000 years ago — did a small group of Africans establish themselves on other continents, giving rise to other populations of people today.

To Johannes Krause, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human History in Germany, that gap seems peculiar. “Why did people not leave Africa before?” he asked in an interview. After all, he observed, the continent is physically linked to the Near East. “You could have just walked out."

In a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications, Dr. Krause and his colleagues report that Africans did indeed walk out — over 270,000 years ago.

Based on newly discovered DNA in fossils, the researchers conclude that a wave of early Homo sapiens, or close relatives of our species, made their way from Africa to Europe. There, they interbred with Neanderthals.

Then the ancient African migrants disappeared. But some of their DNA endured in later generations of Neanderthals.

"This is now a comprehensive picture,” Dr. Krause said. “It brings everything together."


Friday, July 7, 2017

Sotheby's Presents: Identifying the Subject of a Portrait

Very interesting.  I wasn't even sure that WAS a woman in the portrait.  Hmmm...

"When this painting by Jan Sanders Van Hemessen arrived at Sotheby’s, specialists had trouble identifying the strangely dressed sitter. In this episode of The Costumist, Jonquil O’Reilly introduces court performer Elizabet and discusses her unusual garments and jewellery – clues that led to the discovery of her identity. This exceptional artwork soared past its estimate and sold for £2.16 million at Sotheby’s  Old Masters sale in London on 5 July 2017."



Link.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Sacred Cow and Her "Singing" Crow

From The Washington Post:

In my imagination, I can hear the crow singing, and as this sacred cow in a sanctuary in India listens, she could be Isis, reminiscing of the freedom and the millions of worshippers She used to have, before the patriarchal war gods took over the world and ruined it for all of us.  The poignancy of this photograph deeply touched my heart.

Important 5,200 Year Old Pictoral Symbols Discovered in Elkab Desert Region of Egypt

A rock panel featuring depictions of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald ibis bird above and between them.MINISTRY OF ANTIQUITIES
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN WRITING: NEW SYMBOLS REVEAL DEVELOPMENT OF HIEROGLYPHICS The elegant pictorial writing system of the ancient Egyptians—known as hieroglyphics—has fascinated generations of archeologists. Its precise origins are uncertain. One ancient Egyptian legend holds that the god Thoth handed the gift of writing to a few chosen scribes. A more prosaic modern theory suggests that they derived from rock pictures produced by prehistoric hunting societies wandering the desert.
Now, a new discovery may hold some clues as to how carved images evolved into a formal writing system. According to a Facebook post by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, a new rock inscription site discovered around 60 km south of Luxor in the village of El-Khawy “helps in understanding the development of a system of graphic communication that sets the stage for the appearance of true hieroglyphic writing.”
Now, a new discovery may hold some clues as to how carved images evolved into a formal writing system. According to a Facebook post by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, a new rock inscription site discovered around 60 km south of Luxor in the village of El-Khawy “helps in understanding the development of a system of graphic communication that sets the stage for the appearance of true hieroglyphic writing.”
The inscriptions date back around 5,200 years and each individual sign is about half a meter in height. “This is the first time that anyone has seen them on such a massive scale,” Darnell said. He said the team was “absolutely flabbergasted” by the size of the discovery.

According to Yale, they are significant not only for their unique size, but also because they show that even in its very earliest phases, the use of hieroglyphic writing was widespread and not confined to the offices of dusty bureaucrats as some had previously argued.
“This also suggests that there is a much more expansive use of the early writing system than is indicated from other surviving archeological material,” Darnell said.

The researchers found the inscriptions in the northern desert landscape of Elkab. This area, along with a city called Hierakonpolis across the river, were extremely important settlements in ancient Egypt, Darnell said.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Milwaukee Summer Challenge

Hola!

I have cross-table results from the USCF website - no official word yet on prize money distributed to chess femmes who played in the tournament.

No ladies played in the Master/Expert section (over 2000).

In the U2000 section (36 players):

 10 | MADELINE L WEBER                |3.5  |L   4|W  33|D   7|W  30|W  20|
   WI | 15631341 / R: 1534   ->1640     |     |W    |B    |W    |B    |W    |

 12 | GAURI MENON                     |3.0  |W  29|L   6|H    |D  11|W  23|
   WI | 15187152 / R: 1736   ->1738     |     |B    |W    |     |W    |B    |

 19 | MEGAN CHEN                      |2.5  |D  20|L  16|W  36|L   7|W  31| 
   IL | 13453097 / R: 1539 ->1559 | |W |W |B |B |W |


  25 | ARADH KAUR                      |2.0  |L   6|W  29|L  22|W  32|L  11|
   WI | 15085398 / R: 1461   ->1460     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |

 34 | SANDRA R HOFFMAN                |1.0  |L   8|L  15|L  33|L  35|B    | 
   WI | 10318033 / R: 1372 ->1306 | |B |B |W |B | |

In the U1000 section (9 players):

   4 | NORA LITMAN                     |2.5  |B    |L   6|W   9|D   3|
   MN | 16011232 / R:  389   -> 483     |     |     |B    |W    |W    | 
      | Q: 200P14-> 346P17 | | | | | |

    9 | TANYA SHANMUGASUNDARAM          |1.0  |L   8|W   7|L   4|L   6|
   WI | 15920784 / R:  631P11-> 581P15  |     |W    |B    |B    |W    | 
      | Q: 585P11-> 505P15 | | | | | |

Added June 13, 2017:

Hola darlings!  Here are the SEVEN chess femmes who participated, along with any prizes they won (below).  I also updated the cross tables above to add Gauri Menon's and Aradh Kaur's results.  I had not included them in my initial blog post, my apologies to the ladies!

U2000 Section:

Madeline Weber: $90.00
Gauri Menon: $90.00
Megan Chen: $65.00 (from Illinois)
Aradh Kaur: $50.00
Sandra Hoffman: Did not win or draw a game.

U1000 Section:

Nora Litman: $15.00 (from Minnesota!)
Tanya Shanmugasundaram: $10.00

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Place Your Bets on the Comey v. Trump Chess Match of the Century (NOT)

Hola darlings!  It's hot as Hell out there plus tres humid today, and the roaring winds out of the southwest aren't providing much relief.  I was out earlier this morning planting flowers and intended to do some lawn patches with a sad roll of sod I bought 2 weeks ago but retreated into the cool, dry air of my centrally air-conditioned home by 9 a.m.   Holy Hathor!  The poor sod will have to wait at least a few more days.  Tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter than today.  UGH!

Take a look at this --



It is so Goddesschess delish -- the smoking King, LOL!  The King represents Donald J. Trump - and you can guess who at least some the pawns are (James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, closing in for the kill...)  The Arab translation of the original Middle Persian "Shah Mat" -- the King is dead -- in this instance is dead on :)  I lifted it this morning from an opinion piece at The New York Times.

I read and watch online a host of various news sources and political commentary now that I experiencing the wonderferous splendor of seemingly unlimited time on my hands in retirement!  Ahhhhhhhh, Divine, darlings, just Divine!  My day is not complete unless I make several snarky comments at Politico and on occasion I even show up on various far-right websites as the crazy bitch bomb-thrower...  I drive the Nazis in my family incessantly crazy by continually trolling their Facebook feeds with videos of Bill Maher, Steven Colbert and the man of my dreams, Keith Olbermann (who knew radical left intensity could be so damn sexy, wooo wooo!)

I make no bones about my political leanings.  And it delights me when I see -  usually around election time only - analogies between chess and politics.  That we are seeing many such analogies in the media since January 20, 2017 speaks  to the continuous stream of Trump scandals and high drama flowing out of the White House on a seemingly daily basis  (mostly caused by the Big-Mouth-in-Chief himself).  It feels like a thousand years of being stuck in a continuously repeating time loop of continuous insanity out of the White House, but it's been only about 4 1/2 months that Trump has been in office.  HOLY HATHOR!

Is it only me, or is anyone else experiencing increasing visions of Major Kong riding the nuke all the way down from the B-52 from 1964's classic "Dr. Strangelove:"

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