Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008 Gibtelecom Round 5 Standings

Stefanova continues to impress - but there's a long way to go. Can she hold her form?

3 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 4.5 BUL 2464
16 GM Cramling, Pia 4.0 SWE 2524
35 IM Muzychuk, Anna 3.5 SLO 2460
39 IM Dzagnidze, Nana 3.5 GEO 2429
40 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 3.5 GER 2420
41 IM Foisor, Cristina Adela 3.5 ROU 2412
48 WGM Zhao, Xue 3.0 CHN 2517
50 IM Socko, Monika 3.0 POL 2479
51 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 3.0 LTU 2475
52 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 3.0 GEO 2457
53 IM Harika, Dronavalli 3.0 IND 2455
58 WGM Shen, Yang 3.0 CHN 2429
61 IM Houska, Jovanka 3.0 ENG 2393
64 IM Wang, Yu A. 3.0 CHN 2391
65 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.0 ROU 2386
72 IM Zozulia, Anna 3.0 BEL 2344
74 IM Klinova, Masha 3.0 ISR 2315
87 GM Zhu, Chen 2.5 QAT 2548
92 WGM Ramaswamy, Aarthie 2.5 IND 2322
103 WIM Nadig, Kruttika 2.5 IND 2208
116 WFM Norinkeviciute, Rasa 2.5 LTU 2064
121 WIM Makka, Ioulia 2.0 GRE 2186
145 Foisor, Mihaela-Veronica 2.0 ROU 2043
158 Jorgensen, Line Jin 2.0 NOR 1867
160 Loberg, Jo Kristian 2.0 NOR 0 *
164 WIM Greef, Melissa 1.5 RSA 2025
174 Jacobsen, Maria Pitz 1.5 NOR 1799
181 Georgieva, Emilia 1.0 BUL 1985
196 Mossiaguine, Anastasia 1.0 SWE 0 *
197 Mossiaguine, Arina 1.0 SWE 0 *
200 Hansen, Linda Marie 0.5 NOR 0 *

Corus 2008 12th Round Results

Last game tomorrow! Group "A": Adams, Michael - Polgar, Judit 0-1 (11th place, 5.5, 2 pts. behind the leaders) Judit wins with black against Mickey Adams!!!! Group "B": Hou Yifan - Cheparinov, Ivan ½-½ (9th place, 5.5, way to go girl!) Hou is picking up her game. Will she win tomorrow? Spoelman, Wouter - Koneru, Humpy 1-0 (11th place, 5.0) Oh, Humpy - how could you lose to this dude? Both chess femmes are way the hell off the pace; Movsesian, the leader, has 9 points, with 1 game to go. Group "C": Krush, Irina - Van der Wiel, John 1-0 (6th place, 6.0, a respectable showing, if she doesn't blow it tomorrow) Ushenina, Anna - Carlsson, Pontus 0-1 (13th place, 4.5) Ushenina loses to Pontus Carlsson? Oh Anna! Peng Zhaoqin - Reinderman, Dimitri ½-½ (12th place, 4.5)

2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Darlings! How could I possible forget - but I almost did, eek! I specifically noted earlier in the week seeing Saturday marked out for the big competitions broadcast on regular television - but forgot all about it until I happened across a headline during online research on some other topic earlier today! So, here I am now, all atwitter at who will be crowned the U.S. figure skating champs for 2008 and represent us at the World Championships that traditionally take place near the end of March. The categories are (1) women's single; (2) men's single; (3) pairs; and (4) pairs' ice dancers. It's not quite 2 p.m. here - the pot roast is almost done and filling the house with the most delicious aromas, and the skating is due to start at 3 p.m. The San Jose Mercury News has already reported that Johnny Weir has taken first in the Men's Short Program. Everyone's favorite "nasty" little boy (he's cute in a snotty sort of way, but so predictable, he's boring), after his performance, was taking cheap shots at not quite so flamboyant boy skater, Evan Lysacek, who was yet to skate. Evan evidently couldn't handle the OH SO STRONG pressure. Okay, okay, maybe they're not boys (hmmm...) but they sure don't have to shave much - unless they pluck their chess hairs and shave their legs... Oh, give me the days of high-voiced skaters such as Brian Boitano... The rest of the events are on t.v. this afternoon and tonight, starting at 7 p.m. central standard time. Since Michelle Kwan retired, I haven't cared a fig for figure skating. I didn't like Sasha, although I'll give her credit for great artistry. None of the femmes we've advanced in the USA has held a figurative fig to Kwan (yes, I'm overdoing the fig metaphor) - but - I'm interest to see this 14 year old skate - she won the Ladies' Short Program according to the Charleston Daily Mail: Mirai Nagasu. Who? Well, according to the article "she not only won the short program, she opened up a lead that's going to be pretty tough to beat. And she did it with such adorable personality and flair that all those pining for Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen might finally have found a worthy successor." So, now I'm going to go downstairs to eat some of that delicious pot roast, and settle in before the t.v. to watch the skaters. That is, if I can tear myself away from the PBS NOVA special about some adults in Turkey who walk on all fours - fascinating...

NEWS FLASH! The Venus of Mars - Chesspiece!

From The
Is Martian figure actually a Danish mermaid?

By Matthew Moore
Last Updated: 2:01pm GMT 23/01/2008

Some claim it is Bigfoot, others insist it is just a rock, but now a new theory for the mysterious "Martian" photograph is gaining popularity on the Internet.

The figure captured by a the Nasa explorer Spirit in 2004 is actually a mermaid statue, and is proof that aliens established Denmark, so the theory goes.

The logic for this outlandish explanation comes from striking similarities between the figure and a sculpture in Copenhagen known as the Little Mermaid.
The resemblance has been pointed out on Internet message boards and appears to be one of the many tongue-in-cheek explanations circling cyberspace with the most support.

The Mars statue was "obviously built by an ancient civilisation that later departed Mars and settled Denmark", according to Madurobob on the JREF message board.

Other bloggers have suggested the Martian figure may be the Virgin Mary, or alternatively one of the Sand People - or maybe a Jawa - from the Star Wars films.

Spirit, sent to Mars to capture images from the surface of the planet, is one half of a $820m (£410m) mission, along with its twin explorer, Opportunity.

It landed on Mars in January 2004 for a three month mission to search Gusev Crater, a rock strewn stretch of soil that scientists believe could be the bed of an ancient lake. If Mars once had surface water, it had the potential to support life.

Inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale from which it takes its name, The Little Mermaid statue was erected on the water's edge at Langelinie in the Danish capital in 1913.

The work of sculptor Edvard Eriksen, it has become one of the country's biggest tourist attractions and an unofficial national symbol. According to her unofficial website, the mermaid sits on a boulder looking down into the sea, "dreaming about leaving the big sea to find her Prince and an immortal soul".

Or maybe a return to Mars?
Note: From watching the video associated with the article, it's clear the image is only recently received from the surface of Mars and is not from 2004. If the images had been knocking around since 2004 I'm sure we would have long since heard about this!

If I have to guess, I'd say this is the Martian equivalent of the Goddess Venus (Roman) or Aphrodite (Greek):) It looks like a female form to me. She is sitting on a stone ridge, with shoulder-length (or possibly longer) hair, and one arm is extended in what appears to be supplication - perhaps mourning the retreat of the waters on the Mars surface to the Martian poles eons and eons ago?

It's not a live being. As a report at the Daily Grail noted, if it was alive, it wouldn't have just "sat there" and allowed the Mars Rover to approach without some kind of reaction. Never flinched an inch! I don't see any keen resemblance between the Martian sculpture and the Danish "Little Mermaid." The form is all wrong. But then, you know those Danes - always trying to take credit for everything! The real corker is that the - whatever it - is perhaps 6 centimeters tall! A good size for a queen chesspiece but certainly not human size!

In short, she's a fine example of an off-planet simulacrum (or is that simulacra???) Whoa - is that a decaying pyramid on the far horizon? I'm surprised no one has spotted that yet!

Mars image from The Planetary Society Weblog, January 23, 2008.

The Little Owl of Athens

See earlier post on the ancient origins and associations of the Goddess Athena. From The Bird box - little owl Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 26/01/2008 Daniel Butler finds the little owl a big attraction Winter is a great time for bird-watching. This is when many species are caught up in the search for calories to combat the cold and, with no leaves on the trees, they are easier to spot. Take the little owl, which is now particularly active at dusk as it hunts for small creatures. The best sightings are of "still hunting" individuals perched on a branch or telephone pole. Often the first indication is the angry calls of mobbing songbirds, after which identifying the small, stumpy, silhouette is simple. Their buoyant and slightly undulating flight on broad wings, low above the ground, is also characteristic. There is little in size or plumage to split the sexes, but their drab appearance is compensated by glaring yellow eyes and white "eyebrows", which give them a look of strong disapproval. Such sightings may be fairly common today, but they are a relatively recent phenomenon, for little owls are not native. Their natural habitat is southern Europe and Asia Minor, although they are particularly associated with Athens. Greek mythology linked these hunters with the goddess of wisdom (indeed the scientific name, Athene noctua, means "Athene by night"). Their characteristic forms were stamped on coins and over time they became synonymous with the city itself, thus accounting for the association of owls with wisdom. Their presence here is down to the Victorian passion for "improving" our native fauna. Most introductions failed, while others - notably grey squirrels and muntjac - were environmental disasters, but little owls were neither of these. Lt Col Meade-Waldo was responsible for the first successful owl releases in Kent in the 1870s. The main credit, however, goes to the fourth Lord Lilford, who introduced scores to his Northamptonshire estate near Oundle in the 1890s. The birds increased rapidly, spreading across England and Wales, and as far north as the Scottish Borders. Their success was largely because they flew into a vacant ecological niche. Like all owls, they eat small mammals and the occasional roosting bird, but, unlike the four larger native species, most of their calories come from insects and worms. Better still, their nocturnal nature means they face no competition for food from other birds, so their main rivals are hedgehogs and badgers. The little owls also thrived because their ideal hunting ground is mixed farmland, where they lay two to five eggs each spring in hollow trees, holes in walls or even rabbit burrows. The English landscape of the early 20th century was perfect, with its scattered hedges, copses, parkland and orchards. Despite being comparatively easy to spot, little owls are very difficult to count. A study in 2001 by the Hawk and Owl Trust suggested that there were probably around 7,000 pairs. These were thought to be declining slightly, but the latest research by Durham University and the RSPB suggests they could benefit significantly from climate change. Surely the thought of more frequent sightings of this diminutive hunter along hedges and lanes is a comforting chink of hope amid today's general environmental gloom?

Iraqi Archaeologists Excavate New Sites and Find ‘Rare’ Parthian Artefacts

From CAIS, January 25, 2008:

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Iraqi archaeologists have resumed excavations in southern Iraq uncovering three important ancient sites and collecting magnificent items.

The museum’s information officer, Abdulzahara al-Talaqani, said said Iraqi diggers have come across “a very important” Parthian site which has so far yielded “200 rare pieces”.

The head of the excavation team of the Parthian site, Mohammed Abbas, said: “Most of the finds are unique. We have a silver statue of a woman, another silver piece representing a cobra, household utensils, legendary animals, incised pots and various other magnificent items.”

A post-Sasanian site has also yielded 119 pieces. Saleh Yousef who led the excavation there said the artifacts represented inscribed pots, glassware and beautiful beakers.

The territories that today is known as Iraq had became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire during the reign of Cyrus the Great after conquering Babylon in 539BCE. The territory almost uninterruptedly remained Iranian until 7th century CE, apart from temporarily Seleucid occupation which later was liberated by Parthian dynasty of Iran. Iraq finally was occupied by Muslim-Arab invaders in 7th century, and as the result of mass migration from Arabian peninsula to the region, it has been predominantly occupied by Arabs - the only Iranian stock that still live in the region are Kurds which have occupied the northern territories.

The city of Ctesiphon, located on the east bank of the Tigris and approximately 35 kms south of modern Baghdad, was served as the Imperial capital of two major Iranian dynasties, the Parthians (248 BCE – 224 CE) and Sasanians (224-651 CE). During the reign the Sasanian King of Kings Khosrow I (anūšak.rūwān, the immortal soul - r. 531-579 CE) the former Persian land was part of Khvārvarān, which was divided into four quarters and subdivided to provinces of Mishān, Asuristān, Ādiābene and Lower Media.

The modern term Iraq is an Arabic form derivative form of Persian Ērāk (lower Iran), and is widely used in the medieval Arabic sources for the area in the centre and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term, implying no precise boundaries.
Historical note: According to the Shahnameh, it was during the reign of King Khosrow I that the precedessor of chess (Chaturanga) was first introduced into Persia from India and that the game of backgammon (nard) was first invented by the Persian wiseman Bujhimir (various spellings) in answer to the Indian challenge to "decipher the game and win the treasure." (Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art, shows the Persian wiseman Bujhimir successfully explaining how the game of chaturanga is played before the Persian court and the Indian ambassador).

Chess Records

Any search under the general topic of "chess" will inevitably turn up "Chess Records" - and no, it's not records from various chess events, it's an old recording company that was famous in its day for presenting new and different artists and sounds out of the ordinary way.

I saw this announcement and I'm full of excitement for this project, because one of my favorite vocalists ever is Etta James. Her rendering of "At Last" melts me right to the core - and it was recorded more than 45 years ago.

Movie & Entertainment News provided by World Entertainment News Network (
2008-01-26 15:23:38 -
R&B star BEYONCE KNOWLES is set to play famed blues singer ETTA JAMES in new movie CADILLAC RECORDS.

The Dreamgirls actress will join Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright and Cedric the Entertainer in the 1950s-set film, reports

Actor Matt Dillon has been replaced by Oscar-winning Brody in the role of Leonard Chess, the founder of legendary blues label Chess Records, after scheduling conflicts forced him to pull out of the project.

Filming is due to take place later this year (08) in New Jersey and Mississippi.

Here's a picture of Etta James taken at the JVC Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, June 20, 2006. Photo credit: A. J. Alfaro. Etta, born in 1938, is 70 this year, and still going strong, regularly touring and wowing audiences with her powerful and yet nuanced vocal intonations. A real pro and a woman who has seen and probably done most (if not all) of everything there is to do! Love you, Etta!

Salvavor Dali Gives the Finger to a Chess Set

I couldn't resist that article title when I saw it :)

Publish Date: 2008-01-24
View related website: Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches

A chess set designed by Salvador Dali reproducing his own fingers sold for $23,400 at Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches.

A close up look at the details of the digits of renowned artist Salvador Dali (Spanish 1904-1989) could be found in the figures of a chess set designed by Dali at the request of his friend Marcel Duchamp in 1964 for the American Chess Federation. All of the pieces of the set were modeled after Dali’s fingers except the two Queens which used one of Dali’s wife’s fingers crowned with a tooth and the rooks which were modeled after the salt cellars of the Hotel Saint Regis in New York. Of the thirty two pieces sixteen are sterling silver and sixteen are silver gilt. The set was cast by F. J. Cooper of Philadelphia and was signed and numbered “AE 45.”

The set was consigned to Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches from an estate on Palm Beach Island. The lot, appearing just past half way in the 328 lot sale, was hotly contested among two bidders in the room and one on the phone. One of the bidders in the room had flown in from New York for the sale and this was the only lot he bid on. He outlasted the other bidders claiming the set of finger figures for $23,400 including the buyer’s premium for the top lot of the sale.

The bulk of the January 7 sale was comprised of consignments from local estates and attracted over 400 registered bidders, 293 online through, 70 phone bidders and 80 on the floor. Auction owner Brian Kogan remarked that bidders were serious about quality items, often bidding above estimate.

Friday Night Miscellany (a little late)

Hola Darlings! Alright, it's Saturday morning. I was tired last night and did only two posts. We got another inch of snow overnight - so now I have 13 inches to shovel out of the rest of the driveway. Fortunately, the bitter cold has departed for awhile, thank goddess! It's supposed to get up to 28 degrees F today, and it feels positively balmy out there! Getting ready to go outdoors during the nasty streak was an exercise in patience - it takes a good 10 to 15 minutes to bundle up: MUST WEAR CLOTHING FOR WALKING TO BUS STOP IN ARCTIC WISCONSIN: 50 lb. ankle length hooded down coat - check wool felt hat - check wool scarf over hat, wrapping face and neck under hood - check 20 lb. waterproof double insulated boots - check 5 lb. double-thick insulated socks - check wool scarf to wrap over hood and face - check inner pair fleece gloves - check outer pair mouton mittens - check polarized sunglasses - check long underwear underneath miscellaneous layered clothing - check Of course, by the time I'm finished dressing I'm already exhausted, and I weigh about 500 pounds, so I can't move very quickly and so I freeze to death anyway half way through the half-mile walk to the bus stop. Such is life. Over at the Daily Grail, UFOs have dominated the weeks' entries and news. I don't believe in them - particularly these days when things can be so easily "photoshopped" (when did that become a verb???) and faked. Yes, people are seeing things in the sky, but what it is, exactly, they are seeing? I've seen plenty of weird looking stuff in the night skies around here over the years, but I live right under a flight path to Mitchell International; they are ALL human-operated flying machines of one sort of other, no matter how strange they may look way up there in the sky, seeming to glide silently through the night. The one exception was a green and gold (I'm not kidding, even though those ARE the Packers' colors) flaming ball low in the sky one relatively mild night in November years ago that passed directly over my head, headed due east, just about 6 p.m. as I was about a block away from home. It was totally silent except for what I seem to recall as a slight whooshing noise. It looked close enough to reach up and touch it and it was BIG. I took it for a meteor and a sign from Goddess that the Packers would WIN big in their next game. Well, I don't remember what year it was, exactly - 2002 maybe? - but I do remember that the Packers did not win big their next game. So much for heavenly omens... Anyway, I was so amazed by the appearance of this thing in the sky that I turned as it made it's stately way (it was not moving "fast", but at a steady clip) and watched it until it disappeared over the horizon in the east. Given what I thought was its trajectory, I waited to hear a loud CRASH noise, for it seemed that it would surely do that just beyond the range of my vision. But I heard nothing, and saw no huge fireball to the east, and so after 10 minutes or so, I continued the rest of the short way home. I checked the newspaper over the next couple of days but did not see any reports of unusual phenomenon in the sky or mysterious explosions out over Lake Michigan, and I heard no "strange" reports on the all-news local radio station that I listen to in the mornings while I get read for work, and so I dismissed what I saw as a big unknown. Oh, I just love my weekends! Saturdays are the best - because I know I still have Sunday to go to get everything done that I want to do but never do. The weekends are my "lazy" time - I do housework and laundry (during the summer, yardwork), shop for groceries, and spend a lot of time watching my favorite PBS programs and working on miscellaneous Goddesschess projects, not to mention now, this blog. This morning is no exception; I got up late - shortly after 7 a.m., put out the critter food, fetched the newspaper and had my coffee as I perused the news (all bad). I entertained myself by feeding the squirrels, who are out in force this morning - the milder weather has enabled the outlyer squirrels to visit for the first time in about a week. They were all tapping on the patio door for handouts, and I was happy to oblige :) Last night I visited the supermarket for a few things, my first trip since Monday. The weather was just too cold to do my usual "stop after work" routine; all I wanted to do was make a beeline for home after I got off the bus. It was still blistering cold, but instead of the temperature dropping further below zero once the sun went down, it managed to hover around 11 degrees F ABOVE zero, and the wind was a relatively calm 5 to 10 miles an hour. The windchill was only 10 below - ideal to spend 30 minutes outdoors lugging groceries home with my frozen hands. I wanted to buy filet mignon but I nearly had a stroke when I saw the price on some rather poor-looking specimens, so I settled for a chuck roast on sale. It's well-marbled and tough as hell until I cook it to smithereens in the crock pot for the next six hours with carrots and my special seasonings. It already smells delicious and it has another five hours to cook. Yum, can hardly wait! I'll add the potatoes about two hours before the finish so they don't get all gluey. The thing about making a post roast is that it's based on experience and a lot of tasting and trial and error. The basics are this:
  • Get a hunk of meat (I usually get 1.5 to 2 lbs.)
  • Put hunk of meat in crock pot (slow cooker)
  • Season the hell out of it - add more salt, pepper and seasonings (my favorites are ground-up thyme leaves, powdered garlic and onion salt) than you think you'll ever need because the long cooking process at low temperature (set your cooker on "low") seems to suck all the "spice" out of the spices
  • Add a lot of carrots (I add a pound, at a minimum, 2 lbs. are even better)
  • Add a can of your favorite "cream of" soup. I've used cream of broccoli in a pinch (not my favorite but it was okay); cream of potato, cream of mushroom, and golden mushroom (which is not a "cream" soup) work the best.
Cook for 6 hours at low setting.
  • Add potatoes 4 hours into cooking time. I've used regular Idahos, peeled and cut into large chunks, and the much smaller red-skins, halved but not peeled.
  • Optional: You can use a quartered large onion in place of onion salt, whatever your favorite onion is (yellow, white, red, sweet). Or, add in one packet of dried onion soup mix and forget the onion and onion salt.
DO NOT ADD ANY WATER. Believe me, there will be plenty of juice released from the meat and veggies. The "cream of" soup sort of thickens things up a bit without the necessity of making a gravy at the end of the cooking process. If you feel you want a "gravy", do this:
  • Cook up a quick "roux" (I'm not sure that's spelled right but what the heck): mix a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of flour over very low heat in a pan on the stove until the butter is melted and the flour is "cooked." Don't scorch! Doing this takes the raw taste off of the flour which you would otherwise get if you just dump flour into the juice in the crock pot and stir to make lumpy gravy. After waiting 6 hours through tantlizing aromas for the roast to finish cooking, you can spend an extra minute making a roux.
  • Slowly add in roux mixture to juices in bottom of crock pot (it helps to remove the roast and veggies, darlings) and vigorously stir after each addition - this process should give you a nice lump-free gravy. Taste for seasonings, and add salt, pepper and/or your other seasongs mix to taste. Bubble at the bottom of the crock pot for a minute or so, then turn the crock pot off. Put gravy in gravy boat or pour over the roast and veggies, whatever your preference.

Voila! A delicious pot roast with veggies with little effort. If your roast comes out tough, that could mean that you did not cook it long enough for its size (the bigger the hunk of meat, the longer you need to cook it). And remember to cook at the LOW setting. The secret to tender cheap cuts of meat is cooking a long time at low temperature!

Hmmmm, if I did the pot roast recipe in an earlier post, mea culpa!

Friday, January 25, 2008

2008 Gibtelecom Round 4 Standings

1 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 4.0 BUL 2464 24 GM Cramling, Pia 3.0 SWE 2524 25 WGM Zhao, Xue 3.0 CHN 2517 29 IM Socko, Monika 3.0 POL 2479 30 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 3.0 LTU 2475 31 IM Muzychuk, Anna 3.0 SLO 2460 34 WGM Shen, Yang 3.0 CHN 2429 36 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 3.0 GER 2420 38 IM Foisor, Cristina Adela 3.0 ROU 2412 45 GM Zhu, Chen 2.5 QAT 2548 56 IM Dzagnidze, Nana 2.5 GEO 2429 65 IM Klinova, Masha 3.0 ISR 2315 79 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2.0 GEO 2457 80 IM Harika, Dronavalli 2.0 IND 2455 83 IM Houska, Jovanka 2.0 ENG 2393 84 IM Wang, Yu A. 2.0 CHN 2391 85 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.0 ROU 2386 91 IM Zozulia, Anna 2.0 BEL 2344 105 WIM Makka, Ioulia 2.0 GRE 2186 123 WFM Norinkeviciute, Rasa 2.0 LTU 2064 125 Foisor, Mihaela-Veronica 2.0 ROU 2043 128 Loberg, Jo Kristian 2.0 NOR 0 * 129 WGM Ramaswamy, Aarthie 1.5 IND 2322 132 WIM Nadig, Kruttika 1.5 IND 2208 144 WIM Greef, Melissa 1.5 RSA 2025 173 Georgieva, Emilia 1.0 BUL 1985 181 Jorgensen, Line Jin 1.0 NOR 1867 184 Jacobsen, Maria Pitz 1.0 NOR 1799 189 Mossiaguine, Anastasia 1.0 SWE 0 * 190 Mossiaguine, Arina 1.0 SWE 0 * 196 Hansen, Linda Marie 0.5 NOR 0 *

Corus 2008 11th Round Results

Group "A": Polgar, Judit - Eljanov, Pavel 0-1 (11th place, 4.5) Ohmygoddess - Judit losing behind the white pieces? She is really off her game this tournament. Group "B": Koneru, Humpy - Stellwagen, Daniël ½-½ (8th place, 5.0) Sargissian, Gabriel - Hou Yifan 0-1 (9th place, 5.0) Hou Yifan is showing some bite - a nice victory behind the black pieces! Group "C": Caruana, Fabiano - Ushenina, Anna 1-0 (12th place, 4.5) Van der Werf, Mark - Krush, Irina ½-½ (10th place, 5.0) Ruijgrok, Dennis - Peng Zhaoqin 0-1 (13th place, 4.0)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cultural Bias Shades Perceptions of Intelligence

From PSYCHOLOGY He's Not as Smart as He Thinks A British researcher reports that the male ego is often larger than his actual IQ. But you might be surprised by what women think of men's intellect. By Joan Raymond Newsweek Web Exclusive Jan 23, 2008 Updated: 5:25 p.m. ET Jan 23, 2008 Are men smarter than women? No. But they sure think they are. An analysis of some 30 studies by British researcher Adrian Furnham, a professor of psychology at University College London, shows that men and women are fairly equal overall in terms of IQ. But women, it seems, underestimate their own candlepower (and that of women in general), while men overestimate theirs. Furnham talks to NEWSWEEK's Joan Raymond about his findings and why perceived IQ matters. Excerpts: NEWSWEEK: Many studies show that men score slightly higher in IQ tests. Is this significant? Adrian Furnham: Universally, men tend to score higher on certain specialized skills, such as spatial awareness. In the real world, that means they might be better at reading maps or navigating. Women score higher in terms of language development and emotional intelligence. But most experts agree there is no real, important overall difference when it comes to gender and intelligence. But women think they aren't as smart as men? That's the conundrum. What I study is "perceived intelligence," essentially how smart people think they are. I analyzed 30 international studies, and what I found was that women, across the world, tend to underplay their intelligence, while men overstate it. So do most men think they're Albert Einstein? There certainly is a greater male ego. It's what we call the male hubris and female humility effect. Men are more confident about their IQ. These studies show that on average, women underestimate their IQ scores by about five points while men overestimate their own IQs. Since these studies were international in scope, the results were essentially the same whether women were from Argentina, America, Britain, Japan or Zimbabwe. Another factor affecting perception may be distribution of IQ ... Although [men and women] are on average the same, the people at the very top and the very bottom of the IQ bell curve are more likely to be men. That is a pattern that we see in the university setting, with men either being at the very top of the class or at the bottom. Do women tend to think that men are smarter than they are? Surprisingly, [both] men and women perceive men being smarter across generations. Both sexes believe that their fathers are smarter than their mothers and grandfathers are more intelligent than their grandmothers. What about the kids? If there are children, [both] men and women think their sons are brighter than their daughters. Did the data surprise you? Absolutely. And it is worrying in the sense that it may mean parents send inappropriate or misleading messages to their children about their abilities. It is also surprising since school results, at least in Great Britain, indicate quite clearly that girls are doing better than boys in nearly all subjects. What was interesting was that some groups of people, both men and women, got it so wrong. Men with average to below-average intelligence think that they are quite clever. And very smart women think their intelligence is low. Does any of this matter in the real world? Men aren't more clever or smarter. But since they think they are, they are more confident about their abilities. These self-beliefs, however, may be highly adaptive. Who gets a job? A bright woman who doesn't think she's smart, or a not-so-bright man who believes he's capable of anything? Arrogance and hubris are not attractive qualities, but confident, self-belief may be. Certainly, underestimating abilities might hurt you. There's a good quote from one of your countrymen, Henry Ford. He says: "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." And that is what is troublesome. Beliefs may be more important than actual ability in certain settings. So women have a self-esteem problem? I'm not advocating for self-esteem training and therapy. I think that many of the self-help gurus argue incorrectly that improved self-esteem increases performance. Helping people to perform better increases their self esteem. Giving a kind of carte blanche to self-esteem isn't a good idea in my mind. Rather, I think it should be that increased performance and feedback on the causes of that performance, ability or effort raises self-esteem. As I said, in primary and secondary schools, girls are outperforming boys. And where appropriate, their self-beliefs, hopefully, are increasing. Do you get a lot of flack for this kind of gender research? I study perceived intelligence. I don't research whether gender differences in intelligence are innate. That always sparks controversy. But anytime you talk about intelligence and gender, people will have strong feelings about it. Look what happened to [Larry] Summers of Harvard [the former president of the university was lambasted for suggesting that women are underrepresented in the sciences at least partly due to inherent differences in intellectual ability between the sexes]. I just let the data speak for itself. Nonetheless, sometimes I think you have to be stupid, brave or just plain naive to work in this area. © 2008 Newsweek, Inc.

Follow-Up: The "Persian Princess Mummy"

I posted a long story about the so-called "Persian Princess Mummy." Tonight I saw a follow-up: Fake 'mummy' still awaits burial By Abbas Naqvi BBC Urdu service, Karachi January 24, 2008 The dead in Pakistan are usually buried within hours - but the mummified body of a woman that sparked a diplomatic row has lain unburied for seven years. Pakistani police discovered the mummy in 2000, during a murder investigation. Script on the sarcophagus dated it to 6th century BC Persia. Both Iran and Pakistan claimed the mummy as their own - until tests showed it to be a fake. A charity that agreed to perform the last rites on the body says red-tape is delaying the burial. The body is now being kept in the mortuary of the Edhi Trust, which is waiting for the police departments of Balochistan and Sindh to authorise the burial. "Keeping a body in the mortuary for three days costs us 500 rupees ($8.3; £4.2) and this body has been lying here for seven years," Anwar Kazmi, a trust spokesman says. Murder investigation The woman was apparently mummified by antiques smugglers and touted as an archaeological find. The discovery generated immense international interest at the time, attracting journalists and collectors from around the world. It also led to a diplomatic row between Iran and Pakistan, with both claiming its ownership. But subsequent examination by experts found that the body was not more than a few years old. "It was of a middle-aged woman who probably died in 1996 or 97 because of a broken back," says Dr Asma Ibrahim, an archaeologist who was then curator of the Karachi Museum and a member of the team that examined the mummy. "There were flaws in the ancient script, and a physical examination showed that the process of mummification was also not the same as that followed in ancient Iran," she says. Edhi Trust has since written to Karachi Museum for permission to bury the body, but has been told that a clearance must come from the police because the body is property of a criminal case, says Mr Kazmi. But, he says, the police seem to have lost all interest in the case. "We have been writing to the authorities in Sindh and Balochistan, but there has been no reply," he says.

2008 Gibtelecom Round 3 Standings

4 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 3.0 BUL 2464 26 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 2.5 LTU 2475 35 GM Zhu, Chen 2.0 QAT 2548 36 GM Cramling, Pia 2.0 SWE 2524 37 WGM Zhao, Xue 2.0 CHN 2517 41 IM Socko, Monika 2.0 POL 2479 42 IM Muzychuk, Anna 2.0 SLO 2460 43 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2.0 GEO 2457 48 WGM Shen, Yang 2.0 CHN 2429 50 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2.0 GER 2420 52 IM Foisor, Cristina Adela 2.0 ROU 2412 56 IM Wang, Yu A. 2.0 CHN 2391 57 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.0 ROU 2386 66 IM Zozulia, Anna 2.0 BEL 2344 84 Foisor, Mihaela-Veronica 2.0 ROU 2043 87 IM Harika, Dronavalli 1.5 IND 2455 88 IM Dzagnidze, Nana 1.5 GEO 2429 93 WGM Ramaswamy, Aarthie 1.5 IND 2322 95 IM Klinova, Masha 1.5 ISR 2315 102 WIM Nadig, Kruttika 1.5 IND 2208 106 WIM Makka, Ioulia 1.5 GRE 2186 120 IM Houska, Jovanka 1.0 ENG 2393 147 WFM Norinkeviciute, Rasa 1.0 LTU 2064 163 Georgieva, Emilia 1.0 BUL 1985 169 Jorgensen, Line Jin 1.0 NOR 1867 175 Loberg, Jo Kristian 1.0 NOR 0 * 176 Mossiaguine, Anastasia 1.0 SWE 0 * 177 Mossiaguine, Arina 1.0 SWE 0 * 185 WIM Greef, Melissa 0.5 RSA 2025 190 Jacobsen, Maria Pitz 0.5 NOR 1799 192 Hansen, Linda Marie 0.5 NOR 0 *

Alcohol and Chess Don't Mix

Bullets Fly When Chess Game Gets Out Of Hand Infant Nearly Hit By Gunfire POSTED: 11:06 am EST January 24, 2008 UPDATED: 7:03 pm EST January 24, 2008 GREENSBURG, Pa. -- A dangerous move in a chess game leads to a bullet just missing a baby in Greensburg. The gun fire broke out at about 4 a.m. Thursday when Zachary Locov and a few friends were playing a game of chess while drinking alcohol. At one point police said Locov took out a gun and pointed it at this head. A friend tried to disarm Locov. That's when the gun went off and fired through the friend's arm, and into the kitchen of this home. Locov's 9-month-old son was playing on the floor of the kitchen at the time. The bullet missed the baby boy by inches, but Lucov's mother defends her son and told reporters it was, "A stupid mistake." Locov is being charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of another person. Copyright 2008 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ************************************************************************************ Okay, what the heck was a 9 month old baby doing on the kitchen floor at 4 o'clock in the morning???

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pssst - wanna read about...

Ah ha! Gotcha! My new column, JanXena's Echecs des Femmes, is up and running at Chessville. Check it out, darlings! The February column will be even bigger, better, grander, a true opus grande to chess femmes - well, okay, it will be longer... There are lots of pictures!

Altar at Mt. Lykaion Predates Zeus

Worship Site Predates Zeus By Tuan C. Nguyen, LiveScience Staff Writer posted: 23 January 2008 05:15 pm ET Ancient pottery found at an altar used by ancient Greeks to worship Zeus was actually in use at least a millennium earlier, new archeological data suggest. The pottery shards were discovered during an excavation last summer near the top of Mt. Lykaion in southern Greece. The finding, which dates back to 3000 B.C., indicates that the tradition of divinity worship on the site is very ancient and may even pre-date the introduction of Zeus into the Greek world, said David Gilman Romano, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and co-director of the excavation project. "We don’t yet know how the altar was first used, and whether it was used in connection with natural phenomena such as wind, rain, light or earthquakes, possibly to worship some kind of divinity male or female or a personification representing forces of nature,” Romano said. A rock crystal seal bearing an image of a bull, of probable Late Minoan times (1500 - 1400 B.C.), also was found on the altar, suggesting an early connection between the Minoan isle of Crete and Arcadia. Early analysis on various bones recovered from the site has shown they belonged to animals, not humans. Ancient texts had mentioned human sacrifice being practiced at the altar of Zeus, but so far, no evidence of this has been found. The mountaintop altar is known as one of the mythological birthplaces of Zeus. A meadow below the mountain featured a racetrack, stadium and buildings once used to host an athletic festival that rivaled the original Olympic games, held at nearby Olympia.

2008 Gibtelecom Round 2 Standings

201 players are competing in the Masters' Event. These are current standings for chess femmes only in the Masters' Event, and it's a veritable who's who of the best female chess players in the world: Chess femme standings after Round 2: 13 IM Socko, Monika w 2.0 POL 2479 14 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta w 2.0 BUL 2464 33 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija w 1.5 LTU 2475 34 IM Harika, Dronavalli w 1.5 IND 2455 36 WGM Shen, Yang w 1.5 CHN 2429 37 IM Dzagnidze, Nana w 1.5 GEO 2429 38 IM Wang, Yu A. w 1.5 CHN 2391 42 WGM Ramaswamy, Aarthie w 1.5 IND 2322 56 GM Zhu, Chen w 1.0 QAT 2548 57 GM Cramling, Pia w 1.0 SWE 2524 58 WGM Zhao, Xue w 1.0 CHN 2517 62 IM Muzychuk, Anna w 1.0 SLO 2460 63 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan w 1.0 GEO 2457 68 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth w 1.0 GER 2420 71 IM Foisor, Cristina Adela w 1.0 ROU 2412 73 IM Houska, Jovanka w 1.0 ENG 2393 76 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca w 1.0 ROU 2386 85 IM Zozulia, Anna w 1.0 BEL 2344 126 WFM Norinkeviciute, Rasa w 1.0 LTU 2064 131 Foisor, Mihaela-Veronica w 1.0 ROU 2043 145 Georgieva, Emilia w 1.0 BUL 1985 152 Jorgensen, Line Jin w 1.0 NOR 1867 155 Mossiaguine, Arina 1.0 SWE 0 * 158 IM Klinova, Masha w 0.5 ISR 2315 163 WIM Nadig, Kruttika w 0.5 IND 2208 166 WIM Makka, Ioulia w 0.5 GRE 2186 174 WIM Greef, Melissa w 0.5 RSA 2025 180 Jacobsen, Maria Pitz w 0.5 NOR 1799 181 Hansen, Linda Marie 0.5 NOR 0 * 199 Loberg, Jo Kristian 0.0 NOR 0 * 201 Mossiaguine, Anastasia 0.0 SWE 0 *

Corus 2008 10th Round Results

We're getting down to the end - only three more games to go. The chess femmes have not been able to make any definitive moves forward. Group "A": Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar - Polgar, Judit ½-½ (11th place, 4.5) Group "B": Hou Yifan - Koneru, Humpy ½-½ (11th place, 4.0; 9th place, 4.5) Group "C": Krush, Irina - Braun, Arik 1-0 (10th place, 4.5) Ushenina, Anna - Grivas, Efstratios 1-0 (12th place, 4.5) Peng Zhaoqin - Van der Werf, Mark ½-½ (13th place, 3.0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Corus 2008 9th Round Results

Group "A": Polgar, Judit - Radjabov, Teimour ½-½ (12th place with 4.0) Group "B": L'Ami, Erwin - Hou Yifan 1-0 (12th place with 3.5) Koneru, Humpy - Harikrishna, P ½-½ (10th place with 4.0) Group "C": Reinderman, Dimitri - Ushenina, Anna 1-0 (12th place with 3.5) Peng Zhaoqin - Krush, Irina ½-½ (13th place, 2.5; 11th place, 3.5)

Cache of Bronze Age Ax Heads Found

From Treasure hunters find Bronze Age axes Last Updated: 1:58am GMT 23/01/2008 An amateur treasure hunter has unearthed a hoard of bronze age axe heads thought to be worth about £80,000. Tom Peirce started combing a field with his metal detector after dropping off a school coach party at a farm. Within a few minutes it began beeping and he found the first axe head fragment 10in into the soil. When he dug deeper, Mr Peirce found dozens more and, over the following two days, he and a colleague, Les Keith, uncovered nearly 500 bronze artefacts dating back 3,000 years. The find prompted a Time Team-style search of the area at the farm near Swanage, Dorset, by archaeologists. The hoard, which included 268 complete axe heads, is one of the biggest of its kind in Britain. Mr Peirce, of Ringwood, Hants, said: "We are extremely thrilled because this was a once-in-a-lifetime find. It's like winning the lottery - you don't think it is going to happen to you. You do it as a hobby, you don't do it for the money but if you strike it lucky, so be it." It is believed the axe heads were manufactured at a nearby Bronze Age settlement. Archaeologists think the hoard may have been buried as an offering to the gods. Mr Peirce, 60, will have to split any proceeds with the landowner, Alfie O'Connell. Mr O'Connell, 62, who has owned the farm for four years, said: "Within about half an hour of Tom searching, he came rushing over to me looking shocked. During the war a plane crashed in the same field and for a minute I thought he'd found a bomb. "We went back up there on my tractor and saw the axe heads. I didn't have a clue what they were, I thought it was scrap metal at first." The axe heads are 4in long and 2in wide and are being assessed by the British Museum, which may buy them. The coroner for Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset has been informed of the find and will hold an inquest at which it is expected they will be declared treasure. At that point, landowner and finder receive a reward to the sum of the market value. Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, said: "It is one of the largest and important finds of its kind because of the size of it and the condition they were in."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Squirrel Tactics

I feel the need to cheer myself up with some squirrel news. For anyone who has ever tried to defeat a squirrel's efforts to get at your bird food, you KNOW just how smart they are. Now, there's some proof to back up anecdotal evidence :) How could anyone want to hurt (or eat, eek!) such a cute little fella? See, he's smiling at us.

Friday, 18 Jan 2008 12:27
Squirrels fool other animals by pretending to bury nuts in different locations to protect their store, scientists say.

The crafty animals were found to trick others when they were being watched, even if just by humans.

Squirrels bury spare food to dig up and consume at a later point but researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, say that 20 per cent of the time they are faking it. According to the New Scientist, the squirrels act as if they are putting something into a small pit they have dug and then cover the fake cache with soil and leaves - as they would with real food.

Lead researcher Michael Steele and colleagues attempted to find where squirrels were actually burying their food. They found that the squirrels apparently cottoned on to the humans, increasing the number of fake burials. The researchers say this suggest the squirrels have an understanding of the intention to steal. Lisa Leaver at the University of Exeter told the New Scientist that it is too early to tell if squirrels have such a "theory of mind".

"They may just have learned through trial and error that certain behaviours protect their food from theft," she said.

Cultural Heritage Being Destroyed by Ayatollahs

Published: 01/13/08, 2:59 PM Iran Plans on Destroying Tomb of King Cyrus, Friend of the Jews by Ezra HaLevi Iran is planning on submerging the tomb of King Cyrus (Coresh), the Persian King known for authorizing the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy Temple. According to a report by Omedia, an Iranian organization is demanding that the International Criminal Court take action against those responsible. The Iranian ayatollahs are planning on destroying the tomb as part of a general campaign to sever the Persian people from their non-Islamic heritage; Cyrus was thought to be a Zoroastrian and was one of the first rulers to enforce a policy of religious tolerance on his huge kingdom. Journalist Ran Porat quoted a young Iranian who said that the measures being taken by the Islamic Republic’s regime include the destruction of archaeological sites significant to this heritage. “The government is in the final stages of constructing a dam in southern Iran that will submerge the archaeological sites of Pasargad and Persopolis – the ancient capital of the Persian Empire,” the report states. “The site, which is considered exceptional in terms of its archaeological wealth and historical importance, houses the tomb of the Persian King Cyrus.” Cyrus, who lived from 576-530 BCE, liberated Babylonian Jewry from their exile in the famous Declaration of Cyrus (mentioned in the book of Ezra in both Hebrew and Aramaic). A group of Iranian academics opposed to the regime’s policies founded a group called the Pasargad Heritage Foundation with hopes of getting the United Nations involved in protecting the historical site. Most recently, the foundation filed a petition with the International Criminal Court against the Iranian official in charge of maintaining the sites, charging him and his bureau with "crimes against humanity, due to the systematic state-sanctioned destruction of the culture of the ancient Iranian world and its historical heritage." Though the city of Pasargad is a ruin, Cyrus’s Tomb has remained largely intact and it has been partially restored to counter its natural deterioration over the years. Cyrus was praised in the Tanach (Isaiah 45:1-6), though he was also criticized for believing the false report of the Cuthites, who wanted to halt the building of the Second Temple. They accused the Jews of conspiring to rebel, so Cyrus in turn stopped the construction of the temple, which would not be completed until 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, the grandson of Queen Esther.

Culture Fundamentally Alters the Brain

A fascinating article from Live Science: By Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Staff Writer posted: 18 January 2008 12:44 pm ET It's no secret culture influences your food preferences and taste in music. But now scientists say it impacts the hard-wiring of your brain. New research shows that people from different cultures use their brains differently to solve basic perceptual tasks. Neuroscientists Trey Hedden and John Gabrieli of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research asked Americans and East Asians to solve basic shape puzzles while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. They found that both groups could successfully complete the tasks, but American brains had to work harder at relative judgments, while East Asian brains found absolute judgments more challenging. Previous psychology research has shown that American culture focuses on the individual and values independence, while East Asian culture is more community-focused and emphasizes seeing people and objects in context. This study provides the first neurological evidence that these cultural differences extend to brain activity patterns. "It's kind of obvious if you look at ads and movies," Gabrieli told LiveScience. "You can tell that East Asian cultures emphasize interdependence and the U.S. ads all say things like, 'Be yourself, you're number one, pursue your goals.' But how deep does this go? Does it really influence the way you perceive the world in the most basic way? It's very striking that what seems to be a social perspective within the culture drives all the way to perceptual judgment." The results of the study were published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science. Hard work The scientists asked 10 Americans and 10 East Asians who had recently arrived in the U.S. to look at pictures of lines within squares. In some trials, subjects decided whether the lines were the same length, regardless of the surrounding squares, requiring them to judge individual objects independent of context. In others, participants judged whether different sets of lines and squares were in the same proportion, regardless of their absolute sizes, a task that requires comparing objects relative to each other. The fMRI revealed that Americans' brains worked harder while making relative judgments, because brain regions that reflect mentally demanding tasks lit up. Conversely, East Asians activated the brain's system for difficult jobs while making absolute judgments. Both groups showed less activation in those brain areas while doing tasks that researchers believe are in their cultural comfort zones. "For the kind of thinking that was thought to be culturally unpreferred, this system gets turned on," Gabrieli said. "The harder you have to think about something, the more it will be activated." Individual flexibility The researchers were surprised to see so strong an effect, Gabrieli said, and interested in the reasons for individual variations within a culture. So they surveyed subjects to find out how strongly they identified with their culture by asking questions about social attitudes, such as whether a person is responsible for the failure of a family member. In both groups, participants whose views were most aligned with their culture's values showed stronger brain effects. Gabrieli said he is interested in testing whether brain patterns change if a person immigrates. "There's a hint that six months in a culture already changes you," he said, referring to psychological, rather than neurological, research. "It suggests that there's a lot of flexibility." The big divide Scientists have long wondered about the biological root of cultural differences. "One question was, when people see the line and box, do they look different all the way, starting at your retina?" Gabrieli said. "Or do you see the same thing to start with but then your mind focuses on one dimension or another. These data indicate that it's at that later stage. In parts of the brain that are involved in early vision, we didn’t see a difference. Rather we saw a difference in higher-processing brain areas. People from different cultures don’t see the world differently, but they think differently about what they see." Gabireli said he does worry about unintended consequences of his research. "The downside of these cultural studies is that one ends up stereotyping a culture," he said. "Are you creating big differences between people? I like to think the more you understand different cultures, the better you understand their perspectives."

Corus 2008 8th Round Results

Boo hoo, the Packers lost. There's a lot of trauma in Wisconsinland today, sigh. But the world goes on. Here are the results from Round 8 yesterday (today is an off day): Group "A": Kramnik, Vladimir - Polgar, Judit ½-½ (12th place with 3.5) Group "B": Bacrot, Etienne - Koneru, Humpy ½-½ (10th place with 3.5) Hou Yifan - Nepomniachtchi, Ian ½-½ (11th place with 3.5) Group "C": Negi, Parimarjan - Peng Zhaoqin 1-0 (13th place with 2.0) Ushenina, Anna - Ruijgrok, Dennis 1-0 (1oth place with 3.5) Krush, Irina - Carlsson, Pontus 1-0 (11th place with 3.0)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2007 NFC Championship Game

Hola darlings! I'm counting down to kick-off time for the Packers-Giants game at LEGENDARY LAMBEAU FIELD (imagine echo-chamber deep voiceover here...) It's at 5:40 p.m. my time, about 50 minutes away, yipee!

To get in the mood, you know, earlier this afternoon, before the AFC Championship game came on t.v., I watched my geniune "official video" of the 1996 Packers' march to Superbowl XXXI. I bought it at the end of our miraculous 1996 season and I've only watched it a couple of times since then. On the cover is an image of an impossibly young Brett Favre! Watching that video brought back all those memories, it was almost like watching the games all over again.

Desmond Howard. Don Beebe. Oh my Goddess! They were so cute - and had the ride of their lives during that championship season. Beebe caught pass after pass in crucial situations; Howard with all those Special Teams touchdown run-backs on kick-off returns. Antonio Freeman yelling "It aint cold, it aint cold, baby, it's all in your mind," on the sidelines during the 1996 NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers, when the two teams played under very similar conditions that the Packers and Giants will be playing under tonight. Andre Rison saying to Favre on the sidelines after their first touchtown in Superbowl XXXI "Hey, Favre, wherever you want me to be is where I'll be."

Such sweet memories. Getting ready to make some more sweet memories tonight - with all my fingers, toes, arms, legs, and every single strand of the hairs on my head crossed for good luck! May the Goddess be with the Green Bay Packers tonight!

Chess Pie

Who of you out there hasn't heard about chess pie? I've been reading about it since I've been online (1999), but I've never made one or tasted one. Still - it's iconic. Amazingly, I always thought it was some combination of "black" and "white" ingredients. Guess I'm way wrong! Here are two recently published recipes. I chose these because there is "ches" in the author's name :) From The Montreal Gazette Online Chess pie: two versions of Southern classic LESLEY CHESTERMAN, The Gazette Published: Wednesday, January 16 Q: I'm looking for a recipe for the "chess pie" that I tasted over the holidays in a restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C. I had never seen this before but apparently it's a Southern classic. A: I first tasted chess pie in Charleston, S.C., and remember it as buttery and sweet with a slight citrus edge - not to mention rich! Though best made into individual tarts - the filling is quite soft -you can make a large tart, but I'd advise refrigerating it before slicing. I've included two recipes here. The first is the classic vintage recipe from a 1963 issue of House and Garden magazine. The second is a from a 2000 Gourmet magazine, a recipe acquired from the Morrison-Clark Inn restaurant in Washington, D.C. If you find the traditional chess pie a little dull, the second recipe, with buttermilk, cornmeal and nutmeg, is worth trying. Chess Pie Serves 6 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter 1 cup (250 mL) sugar 3 egg yolks 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon rind 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated orange rind 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt 2 tablespoons (30 mL) lemon juice 9-inch (22 cm) pastry shell, uncooked, or 6 individual tart shells, uncooked Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190C). Cream butter and sugar and add egg yolks one at a time; beat thoroughly after each addition. Blend in grated rinds, salt and lemon juice. Fill the pie or tart shells and bake for about 30 minutes. Lemon Chess Pie Serves 8 Coconut crust: 3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour 1/3 cup (75 mL) unsweetened dessicated coconut 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar Pinch salt 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1/3 cup/80 mL) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 mL) ice water Lemon filling: 6 large eggs 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sugar Pinch salt 6 tablespoons (90 mL) buttermilk, well-shaken 3 tablespoons (45 mL) yellow cornmeal 4 teaspoons (20 mL) finely grated fresh lemon zest 6 tablespoons (90 mL) fresh lemon juice Pinch freshly grated nutmeg 1 stick (1/2 cup/125 mL) unsalted butter, melted Make coconut crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, coconut, sugar and salt several times to mix. Add butter and pulse until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with remainder in pea-size lumps. Add water and pulse just until mixture forms a dough. (Do not overmix or pastry will be tough.) Flatten dough into a disk, then chill, covered in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch (30 cm) round, then fit into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Crimp edge and prick bottom and sides all over. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 15 minutes, then carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until pale golden, five to 10 minutes more. Transfer shell to a rack to cool five minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 F (160 C). Make filling: Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt until well blended. Whisk in buttermilk, cornmeal, zest, juice and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in butter until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Cover edge of pie crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake until custard is just set, about 40 minutes. Transfer pie to rack to cool completely.

Aditya Birla National Girls Chess Championship

News from Padmini claims chess championship Posted online: Saturday , January 19, 2008 at 02:16:16 Updated: Saturday , January 19, 2008 at 02:31:59 Mumbai, January 18 Padmini Rout of Orisa clinched the Aditya Birla National under-13 Girls Chess Championship organized by Bombay Chess Association at Andheri Sports Complex concluded at Andheri Sports Complex on Friday. In the deciding game Padmini defeated Shalmali Gagare of Maharashtra to win the championship. The match was evenly poised till the middle game but Shalmali, who had recently won a bronze medal in the under-14 girls world championship in Turkey, could not be able to hold it in the end game and lost in 69 moves. On the second board NLV Anusha of Andhra Pradesh has not taken any risk and accepted the draw against J Sharanya of Tamilnadu to clinch the silver medal of the tournament. On the third board J Mohana Priya agreed for a draw against B Taraswini of Pondecheri to win the bronz medal. Mohana priya Scored 8 points and came third on better progressive Score.

Talent Needs Hard Work to Develop

A timely reminder from Errol Tiwari, writing for Stabroek News (Guyana): Chess Talent needs hard work to develop Errol Tiwari Sunday, January 20th 2008 He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly. -James Allen, author, 1864-1912, who illustrated the power of thought to increase personal capabilities. A little before the National Chess Championships began in November, I started playing some serious chess with Loris Nathoo. Neither of us was preparing for anything. We just felt that we should play deeply creative chess for pleasure and our individual satisfaction. At the nationals, we both performed creditably, placing second and third in the tournament. Quickly, I realized that if we should look higher, work harder, and dig deeper, we would move beyond the basics of the game, and become successful in its practice. So, what makes someone a better chess player, or a better writer, a better manager, a better anything? I believe the answer lies in dedication to a cause, and hard work. "Genius," Thomas Edison said, "is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration." He should know because his true genius lay in his capacity for endless experimentation. In creating the electric light bulb, Edison tested thousands of substances to find a filament that wouldn't burn out. "Opportunity," he argued, "is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." This was an echo of another great thinker and worker, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." Garry Kasparov was impressed by the prowess of Michael Jordan who was famous for his athleticism and high-flying dunks. The man had talent. Yet he was the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. In interviews, Jordan's teammates and coaches all talk about his extreme discipline, not his leaping ability. One veteran NBA manager described Jordan's talent in this way: "Without the ceaseless work ethic, Jordan is merely another talented athlete gliding through an admirable career, but nothing historic." Hard work develops talent and brings it to the fore. Jordan's discipline and capacity for work were intrinsic parts of his talent. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear, talent undiscovered may as well not exist. Kasparov writes that everyone, at any age, has talents that are not fully developed; even those who reach the top of their profession. He tells us over and over again that hard work in chess allowed him to reach the top of the top of his game. He was inspired by men like Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill and Alexander Alekhine. Why did Kasparov so admire Dr Alekhine and become so inspired by him? We have to go back to the early 1900s to the time of Cuba's chess machine, Jose Raul Capablanca. You see when Capablanca defeated Emanuel Lasker in 1921 to become chess champion of the world, there were various emotions expressed by his colleagues, the press and the public, but among those emotions the element of surprise was missing. This was because for many years Capablanca had been invincible, and therefore the result of the match was confidently anticipated by everybody. In the 1970s much was written about 'Fischer-fear,' but the concept had been used long before in relation to the mighty Cuban player. Capablanca was wrapped in a mantle of invincibility; he had the aura, and even the best players in the world had a dreadful feeling of inferiority and inadequacy when they sat before him. Without seeming to do anything wrong, they would somehow drift into lost positions. The games of all other players showed tension, struggle, work. Capablanca's games were smooth, effortless, simple looking. How did he do it? In his entire chess career of some 700 games, Capablanca lost only 35. He went eight years from 1916 to 1924 without losing a single game. The Cuban government made him an Ambassador at large with full diplomatic status. No one, it seemed, could stop Capablanca on the chess board. He rarely prepared for his opponents, and liked to brag that he had never seriously studied chess. He was confident he could escape from any trap he fell into, and he was usually right. But Capablanca only held the title for six years. His conqueror was a young Russian named Alexander Alekhine, who refused to believe Capablanca could not be beaten. Anybody could be beaten he said, and he would show the world. In an age when the gentleman chess player was still common and chess as a profession was considered questionable, Alekhine made chess his life as no one had before him. Alekhine had never beaten Capablanca going into their 1927 World Championship match in Buenos Aires. Earlier in the year he had come in ahead of Alekhine in a tournament in New York. The winner of the championship would be the first player to take six games. Draws did not count. The match turned out to be a murderously long, exhausting struggle, with draw after draw. Alekhine had studied all of his opponent's games and came to the conclusion the Cuban was not invincible. There were weak spots in his games unexplored by other players. For the first time in his career Capablanca found himself up against a player he could not dent. After 21 games the score was 4 to 2 in Alekhine's favour. Capablanca had never seen such determination in a chess player before. He began fighting for his life. He won one other game, but could not hold Alekhine. Final score: 6 to 3 in favour of Alekhine with twenty-five draws spread out over 75 days. Afterwards, Capablanca, chastened, said he had learned from the match that he was no longer able to enter a contest without preparation. Alekhine had demonstrated to the world that talent, without hard work, discipline, and adequate preparation, would be defeated. Alekhine had his own fiery genius at the board, and by combining that with his intense dedication, he was more than a match for the raw talent of Capablanca. He had carefully dissected Capablanca's games and although he found few weaknesses to exploit, he did find occasional errors that gave the lie to the myth of his opponent's invincibility. I have written this story to encourage, and stimulate chess players to study the game. Talent is natural up to a certain point. We have to develop talent or be left behind. Our test will come this year when we confront international competition. Let us begin serious training for our invisible tournament opponents. And for sure, our efforts would not be wasted.

Cuban Women's Chess Championship

Final results reported at Radio Cadena Agramonte: GM Maritza Arribas Takes Eighth Win in Cuban Chess Championships Holguin, Jan 18 (acn) The crown of Cuba's national chess championship (women) stayed on the head of defending champ Grand Master (GM) Maritza Arribas, who totalled 9.5 points after drawing with International Master (IM) Lisandra Ordaz today in eastern Holguin city. Arribas (2334), from Santiago de Cuba, finished half a point ahead of Ordaz (2284), from Pinar del Rio, and obtained her second consecutive win in national championships and eighth along her career, only one win behind record winner IM Asela de Armas, from Villa Clara. Third in the scoring finished FIDE Master (FM) Olennis Linares (2249) from Santiago de Cuba, also with 9 points, who drew in the last round with GM Sulennis Pina (2299), from Granma province. Pina finished fourth with 7.5 points followed by FM Yerisbel Miranda (2126), from Pinar del Rio, with same score. FM Zenia Corrales (2128) from Pinar finished sixth with 7 units, half a point ahead of IM Yuleiki Fleites (2217) from Villa Clara. Positions eight to fourteenth were occupied in order by FM Jennifer Perez (2160) from Villa Clara with 6.5 points; FM Ivette Catala (2136) from Havana with 6.5; host FM Lisandra Llaudy (2234) with 5.5 units; GM Vivian Ramon (2293) from Havana with 5; IM Zirka Frometa (2152) from Santiago (4.5); IM Yaniet Marrero (2299) from Las Tunas (4.5) and expert Yaniela Forgas from Santiago de Cuba with 2.5 units.

Another Story About the Illegal Antiquities Trade

Let me tell you, I'm GLAD this dude died in a fire - he got his just deserts as far as I'm concerned.

Archaeological collection discovered after relic hunter’s death
[15-01-2008] By Jan Richter

An unusual collection of over 3,000 archaeological items was discovered two years ago in a Prague apartment whose owner died in a fire. Archaeologists who have examined the collection say it contains some unique artefacts – with very little scientific value because vital information about their origin is missing. Experts complain that people with metal detectors who dig for treasures of the past are causing more harm than they might think.

When a young man died in his Prague apartment two years ago after a cigarette set his bed on fire, the firemen who came to help made an unusual discovery. The man’s one-bedroom apartment was chock-full of strange-looking metal objects, obviously from prehistoric times. As the amateur archaeologist had no relatives, experts from the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Archaeological Institute were asked to go through more than 3000 items which would be worth millions on the black market. Miroslav Dobeš of the Archaeological Institute explains what some of the most precious pieces are.

“First I’d like to mention this spectacle-shaped pendant.
It is one of the oldest copper objects in Central Europe - we are talking here about the period around 4000 years BC. Roughly ten such pendants have been uncovered in Bohemia, Moravia and Western Slovakia. Since we don’t know where it comes from, its information value is practically non-existent although its material value is incalculable.”

The archaeologists searched the apartment for any records that would show where the artefacts came from, but found nothing about the origin of all the bowls, cups, clips, bracelets, pins, rings and axes. Amateur treasure hunters don’t care about the analytical part of the job and dig wherever their detectors start to beep. This is one of the reasons why professional archaeologists see red when they come across these people at work. Martin Kuna is the deputy director of the Archaeological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

“Another reason is that most of these finds eventually end up in private collections where they lose most of their information, or scientific, value. And few are perhaps aware of yet another reason why using metal detectors for this purpose is harmful – when large amounts of metal objects are regularly brought to light, there are simply not enough archaeologists to examine them properly.”

Experts warn that the case of the dead collector with a huge heap of anonymous items is just the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 10,000 metal detectors are currently used in the pursuit of this hobby in the Czech Republic, and hundreds of thousands of treasures are thought to be stashed in private collections. Some treasure hunters cooperate with museums and only explore locations designated by experts, but on the whole, Martin Kuna says, something should be done to prevent people with metal detectors from causing more damage in the future.

“The law is too weak in this respect. Even when you catch one of those people at the site with a detector and a golden coin in his pocket, you cannot prove that he dug it out right there. Perhaps access to archaeological sites for people with metal detectors should be banned, and perhaps users of metal detectors should be registered.”

The fate of the collection of more than 3,000 items will be decided by lawyers. Experts from the Prague Archaeological Institute suggest that after all the finds have been documented, they should become part of a comparative study collection at an archaeology department of some Czech university.

More on the Destruction/Theft of Tombs at Ibb

This is a follow-up to a story I posted on January 17, 2008. In that story, one of the copper coffins was referred to as a "king's." However, the original story (copied below) indicates that THREE WOMEN were found in the Ibb tomb, along with gold artifacts, and that it may have been a "queen's" tomb. Why were the guards posted by the Yemeni government ordered away shortly after they were posted? Ancient queen’s tomb discovered in Ibb Posted in: Front Page Written By: Mohammed al-Kibsi Article Date: Jan 19, 2008 - 4:32:04 AM Three tombs believed to date back to the Hemiriate dynasty have been discovered in the al-Usaibyah area of the al-Sadda district of Ibb last week. The tombs housed three women, one of them believed to be a queen. Local sources from al-Sadda confirmed that golden jewels were found in the tomb, believed to be for a queen or a princess. Other jewels were found in the other two tombs. In addition, a bronze spear was found in a second tomb and a 70 centimeter sword in a third tomb. The three tombs were found in a rocky room around five meters deep and about 3 meters wide. The room contained large pieces of alabaster, each piece around 150 cubic centimeters. The room also contained a 20 centimeter bronze belt. The al-Usaibyah area is near the Raidan Palace, not far from the ancient city of Dhafar, the capital of the Saba and Tho Raydan kingdoms. Dr. Abdullah Ba-Wazir, head of the General Authority of Antiquities and Museums, said that the discovery in al-Ausaibyah came about after two tribes began fighting about the discovery the tombs. When local authorities intervened to resolve the conflict between the two tribes, they discovered the tomb. Ba-Wazir revealed to the 26 September newspaper that an archeological team from Ibb governorate was sent to the area together with another team from Sana’a. He said that they found a royal tomb, designed in a rare architectural style. Found inside the tomb was a bronze coffin containing the remains of a woman believed to be of a high political status. Ba-Wazir explained that the site is a royal grave built in an artistic style indicating that the grave is of an important political person, presumably a woman. It may belong to the Himiriat period. Authorities also sent a specialized archaeological team in addition to the team from Ibb. They are to do rescue excavations at the site at which the bronze coffin was found. He explained that the team treated the discovery site with great caution due to bad conditions such as high humidity and moisture making it difficult to preserve the coffin. Ba-Wazir confirmed that the team will document all the antiques and other items discovered at the site. The coffin will be sent to the Ibb city museum for further preliminary preservation. Some scientific archaeological institutes will be contacted so their experts can inspect and determine the chronological age of the decaying body. The authority manager explained that one of the duties of their team is to evaluate the discovery site in order to know if the site extends further in the area or whether it is isolated. He added that they will know more when they receive the report within the next two days. Ba-Wazir warned people in the area not to do any diggings because of their negative effects on the current excavations by the authority teams. He called for them to cooperate with local authorities and security forces for the good of the public. Cooperation will result in saving the cultural heritage of this historical area and provide a suitable atmosphere for the excavation. The mention of a spear and a sword found in two of the tombs points to those tombs possibly being for warrior women - there is an ancient tradition of warrior women in both pre-and Islamic countries in the Arabian peninsula, but that history is not talked about much these days, as you can imagine, darlings! The story above mentions "two tribes began fighting about the discovery the tombs. When local authorities intervened to resolve the conflict between the two tribes, they discovered the tomb." It's amazing to me that there was anything left for the archaeologists to discover, that the tombs had not already been stripped bare by members of these "tribes" and put out into the illegal antiquities market - or the gold artifacts perhaps melted down. This entire story is just so bizarre. What really happened?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...