Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

OHMYGODDESS!  I've totally let time overtake me but you know what, I'm on RETIREE TIME now, LOL!

The good news is that - I haven't missed it :)  The event takes place March 31 - April 14, 2015 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

You can watch live action and listen to the entertaining commentary and analysis on both the U.S. (Men's) and the U.S. Women's events at chesschamps, that will once again be presented by two-time U.S. women's chess champ IM Jennifer Shahade, GM Maurice Ashley and GM Yasser Seirawan.  What I REALLY love about this year is that I will be able to put them on live audio and not have to sneak quick listens through headphones and sneak clicks online to watch the live commentary and analysis at the office -- I can just turn on my computers throughout the house and watch and listen as I move from room to room!

Okay, enough of that.  Here's the line-up of this year's female contenders:

FM Alisa Melekhina 2320
WGM Katarina Nemcova 2356
WIM Viktorija Ni 2300
NM Apurva Virkud 2260
WIM Annie Wang 2266
WFM Jennifer Yu 2227
IM Nazi Paikidze 2342
WGM Rusudan Goletiani 2312
WGM Sabina Foisor 2371
WGM Anna Sharevich 2388
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan 2459
GM Irina Krush 2516

They're joking, right?

Oooooh, well, guess not.  Now I'm all for bringing young promising players to the table to play for big stakes, but really - why not just crown Krush right now and be done with it.  Abrahamyan, a personal favorite, has been a perpetual "also ran" for years now, geez.  Of course, she could get lucky, Krush could be suffering from cramps or food poisoning this year, you never know.  Basically, this is going to be a battle for 2nd through 12th places and the money offered. 

Here's the official blurb:

The 2015 U.S. Women's Championship is an elite national championship event, featuring 12 of the strongest female chess players in America. Over the course of eleven rounds, these competitors will battle for $75,000 in prize money, qualification into the Women's World Championship cycle, and the coveted title of 2015 U.S. Women's Champion.

Schedule and prize structure

Er, by the way, just how many of these ladies are native-born American citizens?  For that matter, how many are American citizens? If you don't have to be a U.S. citizen to play, why not invite GM Alexandra Kosteniuk?  What about GM Susan Polgar as a sort of emeritus representative of great female chess players?  I mean, how long did the USCF keep Bobby Fischer on the "active" list after 1975???  Just saying. I'm sure they could rig it anyway they want to. It's Jean and Rex Sinquefield's money fronting this event and the (Men's) U.S. Championship, so who cares, right?

I have to tell you up front, I'm disappointed in this year's line-up, but I will think of this as the equivalent of rebuilding the U.S. Women's Figure-Skating Team, which has been a rather unsuccessful multi-year process ever since Michelle Kwan retired at the grand old age of 28.  They still haven't got it right. Sigh. Will we get it right with chess?  What are the odds -- don't hold your breaths, darlings.

Total prizes for the ladies this year:  $75.  Total prizes for the men this year:  $175.  Ummm, well, whatever.  Bwwwwwaaaahhhhhaaaaaa!  Multiply each figure by three zeros, it still comes out the same.  But now the organizers have gotten much smarter -- by not recruiting (and making it work to get) the best female chess players in the USA they can justify offering $100 grand less in total prize money to the female players, even though total effort and OTB agony will be just as great as among the dudes. 

"Ciudad Blanca" Discovered in Honduras

Blockbuster news!  And - DUH - of COURSE the archaeologists were (for once) sensible in not disclosing the location of this incredible discovery.  Can you imagine the hoard of looters already tracking them down using both bribery and the most sophisticated technology available...

From Good Morning America

'Lost City': Honduras Expedition Team Discovers Untouched Ruins
By AVIANNE TAN

An expedition team of researchers has discovered the uncharted ruins of an unidentified culture's lost city in the heart of a Honduras rainforest.

The team ventured into the isolated, uninhabited area led by "long-standing rumors" it was the site of a fabled "White City" in the legend known as the "City of the Monkey God," National Geographic reported.

Expeditions to find the "White City," or "Ciudad Blanca," have been going on since the 1920s when explorers sought the mystical, Eden-like paradise described in indigenous stories as a place where natives were safe from Spanish conquistadors.

Legend had it that no one ever returns after getting there.

But the expedition team, made up of Americans and Hondurans, successfully returned from the site last Wednesday, National Geographic said.

Archaeologists surveyed and mapped the land that thrived a thousand years ago then vanished, and they discovered a large amount of stone sculptures that were untouched since the city was abandoned, the magazine added.

One of the most intriguing finds was what appeared to be the head of "a were-jaguar," showing a shaman in a spirit state, said Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist on the team from Colorodo State University.

The team documented the artifacts at the site, but did not excavate them, National Geographic reported, adding that the location is not being revealed to protect the site from looters.

Archaeologists don't buy into the existence of one 'lost city' anymore, but do believe there are numerous lost cities that collectively represent something more important to them—a lost civilization, the magazine added.

Medieval Cemetery Uncovered During Paris Renovations

Hola darlings!

I have been officially retired since my last day of work on January 30, 2015. 

I took a nice long break to just do NOTHING AT ALL other than binge view Property Brothers and other home improvement and cooking shows online, LOL!  Oh, and cooking and eating, and making sure that my new tribe of squirrels are the fattest in Milwaukee County.  And a tribe they are, indeed; I've got probably 30 squirrels who visit regularly now, looking for hazelnuts and peanuts.  Me bad, I know, encouraging over-population of squirrels and it's costing a small fortune to keep myself in "nuts" -- but so much fun getting to know my new tribe of critters and they are so entertaining. I have a new "gimpy" squirrel who looked like he took the worse part of a bar fight (or a run-in with a car or predator), several pregnant females, a newly "down the tree" batch of fledglings, an oldster with white hair (the equivalent of a "grey haired" human) and one white opaque eye, and one totally blind squirrel whom I am not sure how he/she managed to survive, but has found its way to my yard somehow.  It's been rather difficult feeding it in all the snow we've had -- it cannot see the food I toss out into its pathway, it has to find it by blundering around until it stumbles across something, and even though I've gotten quite good at getting the nuts to land directly in front of the squirrel, often-times it just goes right over the nuts!  It's awful to watch, I want to rush out and put the nuts into its little paws, but know I cannot do that! 

I know I have a lot of catching up to do, but the new season premiere of Hell's Kitchen in on t.v. tonight and I won't be missing it, so I'll save starting my catch-up for tomorrow -- but it will be competing with searching for just the PERFECT final touches for my Mistress Bedroom make-over (area rugs and art work).  But I saw this article this evening and want to share it with you:

Hundreds of Medieval Bodies Found Under Paris Supermarket

LiveScience.com

More than 200 bodies were recently unearthed in several mass burials beneath a Paris supermarket.
The bodies, which were lined up head to feet, were found at the site of an ancient cemetery attached to the Trinity Hospital, which was founded in the 13th century.

Though it's not clear exactly how these ancient people died, the trove of bodies could reveal insights into how people in the Middle Ages buried their dead during epidemics or famine, the researchers involved said.

Supermarket renovations

The burials were discovered during renovations to the basement of the Monoprix Réaumur-Sébastopol supermarket, located in the second-arrondissement neighborhood of Paris. As workers lowered the floor level of the basement, they found a shocking surprise: the bodies of men, women and children, neatly arranged in what looked to be mass graves. [See Images of the Ancient Hospital Burials]
The site was once the location of the Trinity Hospital, which was founded in 1202 by two German noblemen. The hospital was conceived not just as a place to provide care for the sick, but also as one where weary pilgrims and travelers could rest and enjoy themselves, according to a 1983 presentation given at the French Society on the History of Medicine.

But in 1353, during the height of the Black Death, the hospital also opened a cemetery, which provided a lucrative side business for the religious folk who operated the hospital, according to the presentation. During that catastrophic period, hundreds of people a day died in the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris, the city's oldest hospital, and burial space was tough to find in the crowded city. Occasionally, the overflow bodies were buried at the Trinity Hospital site, according to the presentation.

Mass death

So far, archaeologists have uncovered about eight mass burial pits on different levels of the site. Seven of those sites hold between five and 20 individuals, while the remaining pit contains more than 150 bodies, according to a statement about the findings.

The bodies were laid down methodically in neat rows, head to feet, with one burial extending beyond the boundaries of the excavation. The pits contain the skeletons of men and women, old and young, none of which show obvious signs of injury or disease.

Given the huge number of skeletons found, it seems likely the bodies were buried during some mass medical crisis, when too many people were dying at once to provide individual burials, the researchers note in the statement.

As a follow-up, the team plans to use radioactive isotopes of carbon (elements of carbon with different numbers of neutrons) to estimate when these people lived. By combining this data with ancient texts and maps of Medieval Paris, researchers hope to reveal how and when these people died.
In the 1500s, the Trinity Hospital converted to a site where little boys and girls trained as apprentices. By the 1700s, the site fell into disrepair. During the French Revolution, the hospital was destroyed and the remaining structures were turned into stables for animals, according to the presentation.

Monday, January 26, 2015

New York Blizzard -- 2015 Version

Hola everyone!

I'm far away from the blizzard zone, safe and sound in Milwaukee, where just a little snow is blowing around and the temperatures are in the 20's, not much wind today.  We may be about an inch of snow overnight.  I'll take it!

While checking out the latest weather and news on Snowmageddon in Manhattan, came across this absolutely hilarious photo -- LOVE IT!


Robert Burck, better known as the Naked Cowboy, plays his guitar in the middle of a snowy Times Square on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (David Handschuh/Yahoo News) Kelli Grant

I checked further - he's snug and warm in his designer undies:


David Handschuh/Yahoo News) Kelli Grant
Folks waiting to try to get into the Whole Foods Market -- I mean, really???  Doesn't ANYBODY in NYC listen to weather reports BEFORE a storm hits, or go to the market BEFORE it starts snowing...  Inside, hour-long check-out lines reported. They'll run out of food before they run out of people waiting to get inside. 

This is the scene outside the @WholeFoods in Union Square, NYC right now. Chaos. (photo by @acpants#blizzardof2015



Saturday, January 24, 2015

P.S. Countdown to Retirement: Five Days!

Hola darlings!

Totally forgot the entire point of the prior post, which was to add this great rock and roll yet meaningful song to the post.  Duh! Getting old and losing my memory sucks, darlings!  But I will blogger on...  Check out OWNER OF A LONELY HEART by the band YES.  If you cannot quite understand the lyrics because they're kind of smushed beneath the fabulous beat of the guitars and drums, the video's symbolism will speak to you and you can always find the lyrics online somewhere if you want further clarification. For me, the imagery within the video spoke volumes -- the perfect Epitaph to my working years.


Countdown to Retirement: Five Working Days!

Hola darlings!

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I have been a very bad blogger, indeed.  So sorry.  But I've been busy.  You see, I've been spending a LOT of time planning out my GREAT ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD OF ASSHOLES!

I am very happy to announce that it has come to pass -- I am retiring from the legal world.  To sing Etta James' classic 'At Last..."

I was a very good girl, I was, I was.  I dutifully informed Human Resources on January 5 that I was retiring, and that afternoon I had a sit-down talk with the head of the Practice Group I work in to tell him that I was retiring.

I expected that it would be a Bomb dropped amidst the clink-clunk-clink workings of the firm, but I never dreamed it would turn into the NEUTRON BOMB that it ultimately became.

I am feeling sooooooooooo much justification, what else can I say, except ROLLING ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING MY ASS OFF (ROFLMAO).

Suffice to say, I have lived through some very interesting times since January 5.  For one thing, I never knew until the past few weeks just how many people within the firm actually knew who I was.  Also, how many people actually appreciated the work I did, other than primary boss, who never did, he only had constant criticism and snide comments, and bad-mouthed me behind my back -- actually caught him at it the day before Christmas Eve, as I happened to overhear his conversation when I entered a stairwell going down to the main file room, and he and companion were coming down from an upper floor -- got an EAR-FULL, I did. It's irrelevant now what he said or why he said it.  Suffice to say that I had realized from Year 2 onward working for the Schmuck (off and on for the past 12 and 1/2 years) that he was the worst kind of male with pretensions to be a human being (he is not).  

I bided my time, learned more and more about investing, put as much funding as I could into my 401(k) and private investments and chose my investments very carefully, then chose an investment advisor the year I turned 60 to help me pull my plan together as I was too busy to pay as much attention as necessary to it.

I sold my big house earlier this year and downsized to a much smaller and less expensive home -- but at the time I was not yet contemplating retirement in 2015; rather, I was preparing for retirement in 2017.  Suffice to say certain things happened (including that overheard December 23rd conversation) that persuaded me it was better to get out as soon as I could.

I crunched my numbers several times.  I figured I would have enough to live on.  Not "high on the hog" as the old saying goes, but just fine.  I wouldn't be eating canned pet food (which - if you've noticed lately, has gotten quite expensive) or digging through the dumpsters outside fast food restaurants for scraps, trying to fight off much bigger homeless men for scraps of food. Not burning scavengered wood in a make-shift heater to keep the house warm, and risk dying by carbon-monoxide poisoning. Not living in no-light-bulb darkness with most of my appliances unplugged because I cannot afford the electric charges. Not being able to pay for my medical prescriptions (drugs), or afford a decent hair cut once every 2 months, or pay for hair-color to keep the grey hairs at bay ( I DETEST GREY HAIR).

My investment advisor crunched the numbers, too.  He's convinced that somehow if I should live to age 95 I'll have more than a million dollars in my investment pot. I don't believe it, but we've gone over his numbers twice now and they all work, so maybe he 's right and I'm just being uber-conservative.  LOL! That's funny - Jan, an uber-conservative at anything?  Whatever funds there are when I die will go into my Trust, dedicated to funding an annual women-only chess tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that will bear both my surname  and the Goddesschess brand.

Hell, if I do well enough stock-picking (I seem to have a knack), maybe I'll be hosting at least one of those fancy-pants tournaments in my hometown before I die.

PROMISE once R DAY is here, while I've got loads of projects around this down-sized house that need time and attention, I'll be blogging regularly.  It's just that right now, during those two precious weekend days, there is SO much that needs to be taken care of, and some of it cannot be done online.  Today, for instance, I had to go to the clinic for my monthly blood draw to have my PRO-TIME or INR measured. June 2012 and have been poked regularly in my arms since then to get blood to measure the relative "thickness or thiness" of my blood.

It sucks! It entails a bus trip on two buses from my house to get to the clinic, or a long hike to a single bus ride.  On the weekends the bus service sucks (like one bus an hour), so I ended up walking 1.3 miles to the clinic after I got off the bus I caught 2 blocks away from my house.  And, unfortunately, when I was walking out of the clinic and toward a bus that would take me down to the bus stop to get home, the bus whizzed on by when I was about a block away.  No way to stop it, no way to catch it.  Ended up walking another 1.3 miles so I could catch the bus to take me back home.  I'm getting slower.  Used to be able to do that in about 15 minutes.  Today, it took me 23 minutes (I timed it).  This Old Grey Mare, She Ain't What She Used To Be.  Oh, crap.  Now you know how important a good hair dresser and hair coloring is!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Wijk aan Zee is Coming!

Tata Steel is once again sponsoring a fabulous tournament at Wijk aan Zee.  The event, January 9 - 25, 2015.

The Masters Tournament features some of the best players in the world.  This year, the sole female representative is GM Hou Yifan of China, currently reigning women's world chess champion.  She's going to be facing off against some damn tough competition:

NameCountryRatingPosition
GMCarlsen, MagnusNOR28621Photo
GMCaruana, FabianoITA28202Photo
GMAronian, LevonARM27976Photo
GMGiri, AnishNED27847Photo
GMSo, WesleyUSA276210Photo
GMVachier-Lagrave, MaximeFRA275713Photo
GMWojtaszek, RadoslawPOL274415Photo
GMRadjabov, TeimourAZE273420Photo
GMDing, LirenCHN273222Photo
GMJobava, BaadurGEO272726Photo
GMIvanchuk, VasilUKR271533Photo
GMHou, YifanCHN267370Photo
GMVan Wely, LoekNED266781Photo
GMSaric, IvanCRO266682Photo

Average rating: 2746
Category: 20
FIDE-ratings of January 2015
Two women will also be facing off against much higher-rated competition in the Challengers Competition.  Personally, I'm going to be rooting for American GM Sam Shankland who, a few years back, after a disappointing finish at the U.S. Chess Championship, declared that he was retiring from chess.  He got his groove back, always a good thing.  Here's the line-up for the Challengers:

NameCountryRating
GMNavara, DavidCZE2729Photo
GMWei, YiCHN2675Photo
GMShankland, SamUSA2652Photo
GMVan Kampen, RobinNED2615Photo
GMl' Ami, ErwinNED2613Photo
GMPotkin, VladimirRUS2608Photo
GMSaleh, SalemUAE2603Photo
GMTimman, JanNED2593Photo
GMMichiels, BartBEL2563Photo
GMGunina, ValentinaRUS2538Photo
GMKlein, DavidNED2517Photo
IMSevian, SamuelUSA2511Photo
WIMHaast, AnneNED2352Photo
IMDale, AriAUS2291Photo

Average rating: 2561
Category: 13
FIDE-ratings of January 2015

Sustained Drought Led to Collapse of Ancient Mayan Civilization

We, the people, need to sit up and take notice of the current climate changes taking place, and somehow push and shove our governments into action!  I mean, really -- what do YOU think it's going to be like in your area of the world weather-wise in 20 years, heh?

December 29, 2014 (from Archaeology Magazine)

HOUSTON, TEXAS—New evidence from Belize’s Great Blue Hole strengthens the case that drought contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization. Earth scientist André Droxler of Rice University and his team drilled cores from the sediments of the Great Blue Hole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef. “It’s like a big bucket. It’s a sediment trap,” Droxler told Live Science. The team also collected samples from Romboid Reef and analyzed their chemical composition, especially the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When rain is plentiful, titanium from volcanic rocks in the region is swept into streams and carried to the ocean. Low levels of titanium to aluminum suggest a period with less rainfall. Droxler’s team found that between A.D. 800 and 1000, when Maya civilization collapsed, there were only one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, rather than the usual five or six big storms. According to the new results, another major drought struck between 1000 and 1100, about the time of the fall of Chichen Itza. “When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest,” Droxler explained. To read about a similar study, see "Long-Term Drought May Have Led to Fall of Harappan Civilization."

Ancient Underground City Discovered in Turkey

Reported at Hurriyet Daily News online:

New details emerge in massive ancient underground city discovery in Cappadocia

Erdinç ÇelikkanANKARA
December/30/2014

New details have been revealed about the massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir. 

The tunnels of the underground city are located under a conical-shaped hill and are wide enough for a car to pass through. 

Özcan Çakır, associate professor at the Geophysics Engineering department of the 18 March University and involved in the excavations of the underground city, said they believe the tunnels were used to carry agricultural products.

“We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source,” said Çakır.

Being potentially the year’s biggest archaeological discovery, the area around the underground city in Nevşehir is best known world-wide for its Fairy Chimneys rock formations. 

“There is a fortress on top of a conical-shaped hill; it is alleged to belong to the Seljuks. We made geophysical measurements in an area of four square kilometers and the [underground] city was surrounding the fortress in circular forms,” said Çakır, adding that it seemed as though two-thirds of the fortress was carved by means of the tunnels. 

The underground city was discovered by a Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) urban transformation project. Some 1,500 buildings located in and around the Nevşehir fortress were demolished, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had begun.

Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said they were going to meet with the TOKİ head and make a plan regarding the underground city. 

“Some malevolent people began saying ‘history will be destroyed.’ The head of TOKİ will come after the New Year and new work will begin. We said, ‘Either you transfer the area to us and we conduct the cleaning and restoration work, or you transfer it to the ministry and they will conduct the work.’ We are at this stage in the process; no transfer to any institution has been made,” said Çakır. 

TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan had said after the initial discovery of the ancient city that the area would be preserved as an archaeological site.

“It is not a known underground city. There are tunnel passages several kilometers in length. We stopped the construction we had planning to do on these areas after the underground city was discovered,” Turan had said.

The city is thought to date back some 5,000 years and is located around the Nevşehir fortress. Escape galleries and hidden churches were also discovered inside the underground city.xxx

Another Treasure Trove Story - Doing Happy Dance!

This story comes out of western Russia.  I'm shocked the workers didn't make off with the precious items themselves. Hard times in Russia these days for the 99 percent since their Fearless Leader decided to piss off the civilized Western World by invading Ukraine.  But perhaps the Russian every-day people  fear Big Brother Putin more than they need to put food on their tables by risking selling antiquities on the black market.  Of course, we may never know just how much may have accidentally "disappeared" along the way...  There is only one photo in the article (copied below).

Story at RU Facts:

Under-cabinet director general of the Tver Museum found an ancient treasure

2014-12-30 12:21 PM |

Archaeologists have suggested that it hid in the earth noblewoman, hiding from the invasion of Batu

Archaeologists from Tver historical and archaeological research and restoration center, together with colleagues from the Institute of Archaeology RAS New Year’s Eve discovered during excavations in the building of the Tver Museum directly under the floor of the cabinet director.
Under the floor of the cabinet general director of the museum at a depth of 2 meters, archaeologists found a small hole, where he finds a treasure, closed at the top inverted small ceramic vessels.

- under a bushel was set precious holiday jewelry belonging to a noble Tver townswoman - said  Komsomolskaya, leader of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology RAS Russia Alexander Khokhlov. - Several tens of objects made of silver filigree and granulation technique. Among them clasps (rings with mock delicate beads), probably decorated headdress, star and beam kolts, Ryasna and chain, which append to hats and going down, skirting the face of the owner. The structure of the necklace of large and medium-sized inflated silver beads, includes three large round pendants, medallions. Decoration hands served a large silver bracelet flap decorated with engraved ornaments in the form of wicker and zoomorphic images made using the technique of filigree and black.
Scientists are not looking for treasure specifically, they are usually carried out rescue excavations in connection with the restoration of the former real school, where today is located Tver State United Museum.
- probably at the time of danger to the entire city, mistress treasure could not find another safe place, - says Alexander Khokhlov. - And then could not return to their treasures. She probably died in the assault of the city has been stolen or in full. It could find a treasure in the 15th century, when the sites studied was carried out large earthworks on vase life and leveling the ground. But medieval diggers do not get to the treasure of some 10-15 centimeters [in depth beneath the surface].
Director of the Institute of Archaeology Nikolai Makarov, in turn, noted that such treasures are traditionally associated with the Mongol invasion of 1237-1238 years.
Although the composition of things makes it impossible to date them within a few years, the whole of their relationship with the Mongol defeat of Russian cities is not in doubt, the horizon of fire and destruction of the middle of the 13th century can be traced in many ancient cities. And this finding expensive jewelry, were part of the female attire boyar in Tver, one of the young cities of the North-Eastern Russia, it is important to characterize its early history, it is evidence of the presence status of the nobility in Tver in the early 13th century, - noted the significance of the finds for archaeologists Nikolai Makarov.

Love Me Another Treasure Trove Story!

Hola darlings!  Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you are.  May the Goddess bring you good health and good fortune in this year 2015.

It's snowing here today.  We had a mild December, for which I am grateful.  Now January is coming roaring in like a lion.  I've shoveled 2x in 2 days and I'm already worn out, LOL!  We're to get at least another 4 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.  Great, just great (NOT).  I won't have time to shovel tomorrow morning before I leave for work so that probably means more shoveling tonight before my favorite t.v. shows come on, and then shoveling more when I get home from the office tomorrow night.  YECH!  I did manage to capture snow actually falling in this photo taken from my patio door this morning:


It's already much deeper out there.  If you take a close look at the top "U-verse" wire running across the back of the yard, you'll see some of the snow is missing.  That thick wire is used by the squirrels as a highway, and as they traveled across and back today, the snow was knocked off.

Now you know I just love me treasure trove stories, and here's a new one for you:

From the Daily Record and Sunday Mail:

Ancient coins worth more than £1MILLION found buried in lead bucket in farmer's field

  • By Jack Evans

A HOARD of ancient coins worth more than £1MILLION has been found buried in a bucket in a farmer's field.  Amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors unearthed the rare Anglo Saxon coins near Aylesbury, Bucks., during a Christmas dig.
The stunning find is one of the most significant in Britain in recent years, say experts.  Over 100 people turned out to take part in the festive hunt and they were stunned to find the collection of more than 5000 silver coins, thought to be more than 1000 years old.
The perfectly preserved pieces, which feature the faces of Anglo Saxon kings, were in a lead bucket which was buried two feet underground.  The extremely rare coins could be worth more than £1million and Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club leader Pete Welch said the find was "very significant".
The recovered coins, all wrapped up and ready to be hauled off for inspection and valuation by
the experts.
Pete, 56, said: "They're like mirrors, no scratching, and buried really carefully in a lead container, deep down.  It looks like only two people have handled these coins. The person who made them and the person who buried them.
"Metal detecting is a bit random but most farms have a bit of history so you have a chance of finding something.  I think this was a case of you either move to the right or move to the left and on this case our member moved the right way. I'm just hoping that these coins will end up in a museum for the public to see. I wouldn't want to see them go to a private collector."
The discovery of a total of 5251 coins was made during the annual dig on December 21 on rural farmland the group had visited before. After they were found archaeologist Ros Tyrrell was called to help excavate them.
The coins are in "superb condition" and show the faces of some of the kings of England dating back 1000 years.  They include coins from the reigns of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016 AD) and Canute, or Cnut (1016-1035 AD).  Mr Welch believes the hoard is equal in importance to the Staffordshire Hoard of gold and garnets found by a metal detectorist in 2009.

He added: "We don't know how many variations of the coins there are and when we do we will know how significant the find is.  This would have been a huge amount of money in its day. One coin alone would have been a lot back then.
"Everyone dreams of a pot of gold. The reality is you spend most of your time digging up bits of junk.  This is the first of its kind since I've been running the club, which is 23 years."
A Bucks County Museum spokesman said: "This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain.  When the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried."
He added that as the coins are precious metal over 300 years old they fall within the remit of the Treasure Act.
They will now be taken to the British Museum for conservation and identification before a coroner will decide whether they are legally treasure.  A museum will then be able to bid for the coins with the money from the sale being split between the land owner and the individual who made the discovery.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Is The Isleworth Mona Lisa Legit?

Allegedly painted 10 years before the Mona Lisa that hangs in the Lourve Museum, controversy surrounds this painting of a "younger" Mona Lisa:

The Earlier Mona Lisa depicts a woman in her 20s, so says the caption.



Disputed 'earlier Mona Lisa' goes on display in Singapore

A portrait of a younger Mona Lisa, which its owners claim was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci before his more famous version, has gone on display.

The painting is being exhibited in public for the first time in Singapore.

Its owners say expert tests and analysis confirm Da Vinci painted it 10 years before the better-known version.

But its authenticity is disputed. Da Vinci expert Martin Kemp said it was "just another copy of the Mona Lisa, an unfinished one, and no more than that".

Prof Kemp, emeritus professor of the history of art at Oxford University and the author of several books on Da Vinci, said: "The fact it's being shown in Singapore and is not getting an outing in a serious art museum [or] gallery is significant in itself.

The painting, he said, was "routine in handling". He continued: "Leonardo's landscapes always seethed with a sense of life. It's inert.

"The drapery is inert, and what Leonardo did was he could always give the sense that even something static like drapery had a life to it, a vitality and an inherent movement in it, and this is a heavy-handed, static picture."

But the Switzerland-based Mona Lisa Foundation, which manages the painting, says historical evidence, other expert opinions and carbon dating and further scientific tests point to its authenticity.

"We feel these latest discoveries and new scientific analysis just carried out leave little doubt that it is Leonardo's work," auctioneer and Mona Lisa Foundation vice-president David Feldman told the Reuters news agency.

"The vast majority of experts now either agree with us or accept that there is a strong case for our thesis."

The foundation says Da Vinci created the work in 1503, 10 years ahead of the Mona Lisa, but left it unfinished.

It was later acquired by an English aristocrat in the late 1770s.

The earlier Mona Lisa was discovered in 1913 by an art collector while visiting a British aristocrat in Somerset.

Taking it back to his studio in Isleworth, south west London, for restoration, it was the dubbed the Isleworth Mona Lisa for its close resemblance to Da Vinci's most famous painting, which hangs in The Louvre gallery in Paris.

The artwork will be on show until February at the Arts House in Singapore's Old Chambers of Parliament, before touring Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Australia.

What Is Egypt Covering Up?

Holy Hathor. Check out this series of articles and YOU tell me if you don't think the Egyptian authorities are keeping this discovery ALL to themselves.  Good luck, dudes, trying to keep this one under your hats.  Bet the local antiquities raiders are already busy at work.  What do you suppose the odds are that the Egyptian government has plenty of armed troops guarding the" million mummies" site??? Ha!  Where is Zahi Hawass when we need him? 

At Live Science:

Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt
by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor   |   December 16, 2014 07:43am ET

TORONTO — She's literally one in a million.

The remains of a child, laid to rest more than 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was found in an ancient cemetery that contains more than 1 million mummies, according to a team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The cemetery is now called Fag el-Gamous, which means "Way of the Water Buffalo," a title that comes from the name of a nearby road. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University have been excavating Fag el-Gamous, along with a nearby pyramid, for about 30 years. Many of the mummies date to the time when the Roman or Byzantine Empire ruled Egypt, from the 1st century to the 7th century A.D. [See photos of the million-mummy cemetery]

And then this:

Fayoum antiquities official denies 'million mummies' reports
Head of Fayoum antiquities says that the million figure was a research estimate only
[I'm gagging on this one!]

Nevine El-Aref , Friday 19 Dec 2014

A local antiquities official told Ahram Online that news reports about "a million mummies" discovered by an American archaeological mission working close to Fayoum were false.

Ahmed Abdel-Aal, the head of the Fayoum antiquities authority, told Ahram Online that the million figure is an estimate, presented in research presented to an academic colloquium in Toronto last month by mission head Kerry Muhlestein, and not a concrete number.

Abdel-Aal said that the mission had been based in the Fag Al-Gamous area for 34 years, and during that time had stumbled upon torn textiles, and late period and Roman remains of human skeletons. “No mummies were found except one discovered in 1988 inside a wooden anthropoid coffin with a gilded mummy mask," he said.

Archaeologist Affifi Rohayem told Ahram Online that this kind of burial was common during the Roman period.

“I think the burials found in Fag Al-Gamous is one of those necropoli, but the mission does not know much about it,” he added.

The Egyptian antiquities ministry said earlier on Friday that it had decided to halt cooperation with the Brigham Young University mission because it had "published false news" and had broken the law by speaking directly to the press about a discovery without first getting ministry clearance.

***************************************************************************
Right...

… which resulted in the loss of the mission’s dig permit, apparently:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/118343/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Egypt-antiquity-ministry-slams-US-mission-after-mi.aspx
http://luxortimesmagazine.blogspot.ca/2014/12/mummy-curse-strikes-again-msa-stops-byu.html

While Explorator's comment implies that BYU's permit to dig has been cancelled (are the archaeologists and field crews being expelled or have they already been expelled from the country?), the articles it points to do not confirm that this is what, in fact, has happened.

So, what do you think?  I know what I think (isn't it clear?)

Saudi Female Drivers to be Tried in Terrorism Court

What a shit ass country, sheesh.  It makes me sick to my stomach that we do business with these religious nut cases on a daily basis.  I hope ALL Saudi men suffer unending nightMARES of the vagina dentata.   Check out the posted article.  There photographs and related videos. 

Saudi women drivers referred to terrorism court

Associated Press


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two Saudi women detained for nearly a month in defiance of a ban on females driving were referred on Thursday to a court established to try terrorism cases, several people close to the defendants said.
The cases of the two, Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi, were sent to the anti-terrorism court in connection to opinions they expressed in tweets and in social media, four people close to the two women told The Associated Press.

They did not elaborate on the specific charges or what the opinions were. Both women have spoken out online against the female driving ban. Activists say they fear the case is intended to send a warning to others pushing for greater rights. The four people spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of government reprisals.

The Specialized Criminal Court, to which their cases were referred, was established in the capital Riyadh to try terrorism cases but has also tried and handed long prison sentences to a number of human rights workers, peaceful dissidents, activists and critics of the government. For example, this year it sentenced a revered Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a vocal critic of the government, to death for sedition and sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer, Waleed Abul-Khair, to 15 years in prison on charges of inciting public opinion.

Human Rights Watch recently warned that "Saudi authorities are ramping up their crackdown on people who peacefully criticize the government on the Internet." It said that judges and prosecutors are using "vague provisions of a 2007 anti-cybercrime law to charge and try Saudi citizens for peaceful tweets and social media comments."

This was the first time women drivers have been referred to the court, activists said.

The detention of al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33 — both arrested on Dec. 1 — has been the longest yet for any women who defied the driving ban. They were vocal supporters of a grassroots campaign launched last year to oppose the ban, and have a significant online following with a total 355,000 followers on Twitter for the two of them at the time of their arrest.

Though no formal law bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia, ultraconservative Saudi clerics have issued religious edicts forbidding women from taking the wheel, and authorities do not issue them driver's licenses. No such ban exists anywhere else in the world, even in other conservative Gulf countries.

The four people close to the women said their lawyers appealed the judge's decision to transfer their cases. An appeals court in Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, is expected to decide on the referral in the coming days, they said.

Authorities have a history of clamping down on Saudi women who attempt to drive. In 1990, 50 women were arrested for driving. They had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs. More than 20 years later, a woman was sentenced in 2011 to 10 lashes for driving, though the king overturned the sentence.

Supporters of the current driving campaign delivered a petition to the royal court this month asking King Abdullah to pardon the two women.

Organizers behind the campaign, which began Oct. 26, 2013, say the ban on women driving underpins wider issues related to guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia that give men powerful sway over women's lives. One activist said the driving ban is also part of "a wider effort to quash any chances of raising the ceiling on civil liberties" in Saudi Arabia.

The two women appeared in court on Thursday for the second time in the eastern al-Ahsa region, where they were detained after driving to Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Hathloul was stopped by border guards and her passport was confiscated for more than 24 hours when she attempted to cross the border Nov. 30 with a UAE driver's license in an act of defiance.

Al-Amoudi, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, was stopped when she went to deliver food and a blanket to al-Hathloul at the border, activists and relatives said. The women were formally arrested on Dec. 1.
There has been no official Saudi comment on the arrests.

Al-Hathloul is in a correctional facility for juveniles and al-Amoudi is in a prison. Relatives say they have been allowed to see them for short supervised visits.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Archaeology Magazine's Top Ten Archaeology Discoveries of 2014

Under Stonehenge
Wiltshire, England

Seaton Down Hoard
Devon, England

Greece's Biggest Tomb
Amphipolis, Greece

Buddhism, in the Beginning
Lumbini, Nepal

Decoding Neanderthal Genetics
Jerusalem, Israel

Canada Finds Erebus
Victoria Strait, Canada

Sunken Byzantine Basilica
Lake Izlik, Turkey

Mummification Before the Pharaohs
York, England

Bluetooth's Fortress (no, not the WIFI thing)
Koge, Denmark

Naia - The 13,000 Year Old Native American
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

According to the False Prophet Erdogan, Using Birth Control is Treason

Read it and weap.  Common sense is fast deserting the Earth and woe betide us, people.  Woe betide us.

Turkey's Erdogan says birth control 'treason' against Turkish lineage

Source: Reuters - Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:53 GMT
Author: Reuters
ISTANBUL, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has described birth control as a form of "treason," saying it threatened the country's bloodline.
Erdogan urged a newly married couple at their wedding late on Sunday to have at least three children to help boost Turkish population figures, a common refrain from the president, who worries a declining birth rate may undermine economic growth. [Fact:  More often than not, a declining birth rate mirrors a decline in economic growth and shrinking prosperity of the middle class, not the other way around.  Doh.]
"For years they committed a treason of birth control in this country, seeking to dry up our bloodline. Lineage is very important both economically and spiritually," he told the couple after serving as their witness at the wedding. A video of the speech was posted on the mainstream Radikal news website.
Last month, Erdogan, a devout Muslim, said it was unnatural to consider women and men equal and said feminists did not understand the importance of motherhood. In 2012, he sought to effectively outlaw abortion, but later dropped the plan amid a public outcry.
Erdogan regularly faces criticism for an authoritarian style of rule after 11 years in power. [This is something much deeper than that -- the man obviously has penis issues.  Probably has nightmares about Vagina Dentata...]
Turkey's population growth has been slowing in recent years and the live-birth rate hovered at 2.07 percent last year, according to official statistics. (Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice, Whoop Whoop!

Hola darlings!

I am very happy today, and relieved too, because I know after today, and it's gloomy 4:00 p.m. darkness and plugging in the lights on the Christmas tree at 3:30 p.m., that the days will begin to get a little longer each day.  Whew!   It's been a dark, overcast, gloomy, foggy (!) November and December in southeastern Wisconsin -- crazy weather!  Little sunshine and even people who do not suffer from seasonal affective disorder were feeling it -- the constant gloom is wearing on the spirit.  It sure wore on me this year, geez!



Above is this year's version of the Xmas tree.  It has far LESS ornaments on it than I usually throw on because I was working against a time deadline to have things ready for the annual investment club gift exchange that is held at my house each year.  This year it was on December 7th -- very early, but it was the date that worked best for all of us during this holiday season.  I made up for the relative lack of glitz and shimmer on the tree by putting it elsewhere in my small living room.  Don't worry darlings, I will not bombard you with "decorating" pictures.  Next year I'll deck out the gigantic picture window behind the tree with hundreds of flashing lights and hope a jetliner doesn't mistake my house for a landing strip at Mitchell International Airport.

To me, Christmas is a festival of lights time of year.  We in the western tradition who live in the northern hemisphere tend to fill our houses up with lots of lights, glitz, glamour and glow, fighting a fierce battle against the ever-encroaching darkness. We gather around our hearths (real and artificial) and wrap ourselves in layers of wool, knits, fleece and fur to keep the cold at bay.  We eat more and pack on an extra layer of fat!  Gold and silver colors, candlelight, firelight and lots of shine and sparkle abound as we deck our halls for the end of year celebrations.  For myself, I am certain that this urge to surround ourselves with as much light and shine and glowy things as we can pack into our houses is a genetic response to the lack of sunlight we suffer through for weeks/months at a time during the winter.  Darkness and cold -- the eternal enemies.  For me, Winter Solstice marks a huge psychological sigh of relief and is cause for personal celebration, totally separate from any religious celebration(s) that others may be celebrating time of year.

Happy Winter Solstice!
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