Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Ark of the Covenant is in - Zimbabwe...

From Time online A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008 By DAVID VAN BIEMA When last we saw the lost Ark of the Covenant in action, it had been dug up by Indiana Jones in Egypt and ark-napped by Nazis, whom the Ark proceeded to incinerate amidst a tempest of terrifying apparitions. But according to Tudor Parfitt, a real life scholar-adventurer, Raiders of the Lost Ark had it wrong, and the Ark is actually nowhere near Egypt. In fact, Parfitt claims he has traced it (or a replacement container for the original Ark), to a dusty bottom shelf in a museum in Harare, Zimbabwe. As Indiana Jones's creators understood, the Ark is one of the Bible's holiest objects, and also one of its most maddening McGuffins. A wooden box, roughly 4 ft. x 2 ft. x 2.5 ft., perhaps gold-plated and carried on poles inserted into rings, it appears in the Good Book variously as the container for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:16: "and thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee"); the very locus of God's earthly presence; and as a divine flamethrower that burns obstacles and also crisps some careless Israelites. It is too holy to be placed on the ground or touched by any but the elect. It circles Jericho behind the trumpets to bring the walls tumbling down. The Bible last places the Ark in Solomon's temple, which Babylonians destroyed in 586 BC. Scholars debate its current locale (if any): under the Sphinx? Beneath Jerusalem's Temple Mount (or, to Muslims, the Noble Sanctuary)? In France? Near London's Temple tube station? Parfitt, 63, is a professor at the University of London's prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies. His new book, The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2,500 Year Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark (HarperOne) along with a History Channel special scheduled for March 2 would appear to risk a fine academic reputation on what might be called a shaggy Ark story. But the professor has been right before, and his Ark fixation stems from his greatest coup. In the 1980s Parfitt lived with a Southern African clan called the Lemba, who claimed to be a lost tribe of Israel. Colleagues laughed at him for backing the claim; in 1999, a genetic marker specific to descendents of Judaism's Temple priests (cohens) was found to appear as frequently among the Lemba's priestly cast as in Jews named Cohen. The Lemba — and Parfitt — made global news. Parfitt started wondering about another aspect of the Lemba's now-credible oral history: a drumlike object called the ngoma lungundu. The ngoma, according to the Lemba, was near-divine, used to store ritual objects, and borne on poles inserted into rings. It was too holy to touch the ground or to be touched by non-priests, and it emitted a "Fire of God" that killed enemies and, occasionally, Lemba. A Lemba elder told Parfitt, "[It] came from the temple in Jerusalem. We carried it down here through Africa." That story, by Parfitt's estimation, is partly true, partly not. He is not at all sure, and has no way of really knowing, whether the Lemba's ancestors left Jerusalem simultaneously with the Ark (assuming, of course, that it left at all). However, he has a theory as to where they might eventually have converged. Lemba myth venerates a city called Senna. In modern-day Yemen, in an area with people genetically linked to the Lemba, Parfitt found a ghost town by that name. It's possible that the Lemba could have migrated there from Jerusalem by a spice route — and from Senna, via a nearby port, they could have launched the long sail down the African coast. As for the Ark? Before Islam, Arabia contained many Jewish-controlled oases, and in the 500s AD, the period's only Jewish kingdom. It abutted Senna. In any case, the area might have beckoned to exiled Jews bearing a special burden. Parfitt also found eighth-century accounts of the Ark in Arabia, by Jews-turned-Muslims. He posits that at some undefined point the Lemba became the caretakers of the Ark, or the ngoma. Parfitt's final hunt for the ngoma, which dropped from sight in the 1940s, landed him in sometimes-hostile territory ("Bullets shattered the rear screen," of his car, he writes). Ark leads had guided him to Egypt, Ethiopia and even New Guinea, until one day last fall his clues led him to a storeroom of the Harare Museum of Human Science in Zimbabwe. There, amidst nesting mice, was an old drum with an uncharacteristic burnt-black bottom hole ("As if it had been used like a cannon," Parfitt notes), the remains of carrying rings on its corners; and a raised relief of crossed reeds that Parfitt thinks reflects an Old Testament detail. "I felt a shiver go down my spine," he writes. Parfitt thinks that whatever the supernatural character of Ark, it was, like the ngoma, a combination of reliquary, drum and primitive weapon, fueled with a somewhat unpredictable proto-gunpowder. That would explain the unintentional conflagrations. The drum element is the biggest stretch, since scripture never straightforwardly describes the Ark that way. He bases his supposition on the Ark's frequent association with trumpets, and on aspects of a Bible passage where King David dances in its presence. Parfitt admits that such a multipurpose object would be "very bizarre" in either culture, but insists, "that's an argument for a connection between them." So, had he found the Ark? Yes and no, he concluded. A splinter has carbon-dated the drum to 1350 AD — ancient for an African wood artifact, but 2,500 years after Moses. Undaunted, Parfitt asserts that "this is the Ark referred to in Lemba tradition" — Lemba legend has it that the original ngoma destroyed itself some 400 years ago and had to be rebuilt on its own "ruins" — "constructed by priests to replace the previous Ark. There can be little doubt that what I found is the last thing on earth in direct descent from the Ark of Moses." Well, perhaps a little doubt. "It seems highly unlikely to me," says Shimon Gibson, a noted biblical archaeologist to whom Parfitt has described his project. "You have to make tremendous leaps." Those who hope to find the original biblical item, moreover, will likely reject Parfitt's claim that the best we can do is an understudy. Animating all searches for the Ark is the hope — and fear — that it will retain the unbridled divine power the Old Testament describes. What would such a wonder look like in our postmodern world? What might it do? Parfitt's passionately crafted new theory, like his first, could eventually be proven right. But if so, unlike the fiction in the movies, it would deny us an explosive resolution.

Chess News from Indonesia

From The Jarkarta Post.com February 24, 2008 Irene in hunt for GM title in Ukraine JAKARTA: One of Indonesia's top chess players, Women's International Master Irene Kharisma Sukandar, will continue her quest to become the country's first Woman Grandmaster at the Rector's Cup tournament in Kharkov, Ukraine, from Feb. 26 until March 6. Ten chess invitees, including Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Oksana Vosovic, WGM Evgeniya Dolukhanova and WGM Anastasi Karlovich, all from the Ukraine, and 2007 world under-15 champion Irina Bulmaga of Moldova, will be tough contenders for Irene. "It's like playing in a bear den, but I will try to play my best," Irene said in a statement Friday. Irene will receive intensive coaching from Ukraine national champion GM Valeriy Aveskulov during the tournament. --JP

2008 Aeroflot

Final standings after Round 9 (Women). Round 9 final standings for the B and C Groups were reported on February 21st. Group A1 (66 players): 32 WGM Hou, Yifan 4.5 CHN 2527 2605 47 IM Sebag, Marie 4.0 FRA 2510 2551 Susan Polgar reported that Hou Yifan earned a GM norm by finishing at 50% with a performance rating of 2605. She finished in very good company: 29 GM Dyachkov, Sergej 4.5 RUS 2559 2613 30 GM Frolyanov, Dmitry 4.5 RUS 2544 2615 31 GM Romanov, Evgeny 4.5 RUS 2543 2613 33 GM Bindrich, Falko 4.5 GER 2497 2591 34 GM Khalifman, Alexander 4.5 RUS 2638 2557 35 GM Lysyj, Igor 4.5 RUS 2593 2521 36 GM Evdokimov, Alexander A. 4.5 RUS 2569 2630 37 IM Safarli, Eltaj 4.5 AZE 2496 2576 38 GM Zhigalko, Andrey 4.5 BLR 2556 2597 39 GM Feller, Sebastien 4.5 FRA 2522 2605 40 GM Iordachescu, Viorel 4.5 MDA 2586 2566 Hou didn't finish in the prize money, which cut off after player 30, but she may have won a special prize for best female finish - I couldn't find any specific information at the Aeroflot website but there are provisions for such prizes in the general regulations. Group A2 (92 players): 29 IM Ovod, Evgenija 5.0 RUS 2386 2532 48 IM Ushenina, Anna 4.5 UKR 2484 2437 53 Ju, Wenjun 4.0 CHN 2360 2435 63 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 4.0 RUS 2455 2385 75 WGM Mongontuul, Bathuyag 3.5 MGL 2389 2368 78 IM Tairova, Elena 3.0 RUS 2386 2321 91 IM Harika, Dronavalli 2.5 IND 2455 2490 For finishing in 29th place, Ovod won $450 USD. The other ladies finished out of the money. I could not find any news as to why Dronavalli dropped out of the tournament. She did not play in the last four rounds.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

It's late, so this will be a short one! A meteor crashed and burned somewhere near Pendleton, Oregon, on Tuesday night, according to this detailed report at the National Geographic website. It's light from the burn-through was bright enough to wake people up in the wee early morning and there was a sonic boom. Scary stuff, actually! Makes one wonder what it would be like if something the size of say "Meteor" hit the Earth - or the remnant that the good guys left over in "Armageddon"... Over at New Scientist, an interesting series of articles on music, sound and our perception of it. I tried the #2 experiment - "Phantom Words" - not sure what would happen. It took a little bit to download the soundtrack (it's a few minutes long) and at first I just heard tones, but then I did "discern" words. First, something that sounded like "melting", then it became "melt me" (which makes absolutely no sense, except I'm sick and tired of the ice I've had to trek over for the past 10 days since our last major ice/snow/rain/blizzard storm, ice that is getting more slippery every day), then it became "no brain" (har!), then "melt me" again, and then for awhile "melt me" and "no brain" alternated, and then the end of the experiment I heard mostly "no brain." Guess that should teach me, heh? These "phantom words" are not to be confused with being woken up in the middle of the night with what are passed off in the scientific world as auditory hallucinations - or hearing someone calling you in the middle of broad daylight while you're full awake, except no one is around (cue spooky music....) I've had both kinds of experiences over the years and they ain't fun, let me tell you! Tee hee hee - got a good laugh over this one: U.S. to Share Satellite Strike Data with China. Did Tom Clancy ghost write the article, perchance? This story got me so angry, I've been doing searches using gool old AltaVista since reading it - Google, eat my nose smuts. Corruption in the U.N. is not a News For Google News (please, try to ignore the lady with the impossibly enlarged bossom in the bikini - she looks like an advertisement for "Steroids for Boobs!") Are the fearless leaders in China finally getting the hint that to play in the bigs they have to be "stake-holders" (remember the laugh a minute about how that term was translatable into Chinese and how the Communist nit-wigs claimed to not "get it?") The USA, in particular, has subsidized the corrupt regime of mainland China almost since the day of it's creation by massively importing it's inferior products. Pig intestines, anyone? It's about time the Chinese government started doing something other than claiming "we no speaky English." China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur

Ancient Egyptian Treasures on Display

Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia, South Carolina
(803) 799–2810
www.columbiamuseum.org
January 24–June 8, 2008

Legendary English archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) spent most of his life excavating ancient Egyptian sites. His monumental work at Giza, Abydos and Amarna— during which he developed new scientific approaches for establishing chronology— established him as “the father of Egyptology.”

This exhibit, on loan from the English museum that bears his name, displays over 200 of the most significant finds from Petrie’s 50-year career in Egypt. Some of his most important work occurred at Amarna, home to Akhenaten, the monotheistic pharaoh and father of the boy-king Tutankhamun. The exhibit brings to life the science of archaeology during its infancy as seen through the eyes of one of its greatest pioneers. This remarkable collection includes royal accoutrement, mummy portraits, furniture and jewelry, objects of everyday life—including one of the world’s oldest extant dresses— and fascinating illustrations of the technology of the ancient Egyptians.

Biblical Archaeology Review Free Online

This month BAR is offering the entire contents of its March/April 2008 issue free online.

Herschel Shenks, the editor, isn't afraid of controvery :) I get a chuckle every month reading the "Letters to the Editor" where irate people write in saying they are cancelling their subscriptions because BAR has published some article or other!

Don't let the name of the magazine fool you - it's not a bible-thumping support vehicle.

Check out this article:
A Temple Built for Two
Did Yahweh Share a Throne with His Consort Asherah?
By William G. Dever

The small house shrine published here for the first time provides significant support for the contention that the Israelite God, Yahweh, did indeed have a consort. At least this was true in the minds of many ordinary ancient Israelites, in contrast to the priestly elite.1 In what I call folk religion, or “popular religion,” Yahweh’s consort is best identified as “Asherah,” the old Canaanite mother goddess.2
. . .
Oddly enough, there is no description or even allusion to these naoi, or house shrines, in the Hebrew Bible. That they are model temples is beyond reasonable doubt. They are clearly miniature “houses for the gods,” as witnessed both by their clear architectural form and by the fact that in all West Semitic languages (Canaanite, Phoenician, Punic, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc.) the word ba¯yit/bêt is translated as both “house” and “temple.”

But what deity was worshiped in these house shrines? All of their motifs, fortunately, are reasonably well attested and understood. And nearly all are connected with well-known female deities, particularly Canaanite/Israelite Asherah and Phoenician Tanit (Asherah’s later reflex in the wider Mediterranean world).

The palmette capitals of the tree-like columns are not lotus-blossom capitals, as Weinberg and other classicists once supposed, much less “proto-Aeolic” capitals as William F. Albright thought. The late Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shiloh clearly demonstrated that they are stylized palm trees, especially typical of Iron Age royal and temple architecture.7 More recent research has shown that the symbolism responsible for the adaptation of the tree motif for columns in ancient Israel (and in Aramean and Phoenician monumental architecture) is probably deeply rooted in the old Canaanite identification of Asherah as a tree-goddess.

In an important article in BAR, for example, the late Ruth Hestrin brilliantly established the connection between the symbols of a stylized tree, a pubic triangle and a nurturing goddess. She even found representations in Egyptian art of the goddess with a tree trunk as a torso, a branch offering a breast to a nursing infant (in this case, the Pharaoh’s son).b (Ruth Hestrin, “Understanding Asherah— Exploring Semitic Iconography,” BAR, September/October 1991 - the article is free at BAR this month too.) (Image above: from the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, the king is suckled by a breast that grows from the tree. The breast is held for the king by the goddess’s arm, also growing from the tree.)

In short, these tree-like columns were thought to be particularly appropriate in model temples dedicated to the tree-goddess Asherah.

Read further.

She Found Chess a Calming Force

17-year-old girl to be honored by youth club Teenager overcomes adversity to become exemplary student By Banks Albach, MEDIANEWS STAFF Article Created: 02/22/2008 02:39:33 AM PST MENLO PARK — When she was 3 years old, Julia Cook's father was murdered. Soon after, her mother turned to drugs and served stints in jail. When she was 8 or so, Cook's family lost their house and became homeless for a time, staying with friends, in cars and occasionally at hotels. Unable to take care of her daughter, Cook's mother sent her to Sacramento to live with cousins. There Cook stayed until she returned to Menlo Park at age 13 to live with her older sister. During those hard times, Cook said, she found chess a calming force and school a refuge. Now 17, she cries a lot, thinking of what she missed growing up. "I've always wanted a dad," she said in Bloomingdale's after a makeover Thursday. "I think I would have been a daddy's girl, but I never got the chance." Despite her personal struggles, Cook has persevered and made the best of the hand life has dealt her. Tonight, she is being honored as Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. She was chosen not only because of the numerous challenges she has faced, but also because of the volunteer, student and person she has become. Her grade-point average at Menlo-Atherton High School hovers near 3.7, and Cook is thinking about enrolling at either Tennessee State University or St. Mary's College in Moraga. Cook said her sister Nikia, who lived on her own during high school, is her biggest role-model. "I always had her and she never had anybody," Cook said. She said most of the men in her life are either dead or behind bars. Nikia's husband, for example, was shot and killed in East Palo Alto, and her 28-year-old brother is in prison. "I learned to not depend on others," Cook said. "I'm very motivated, and I have a lot of drive." In between class and homework, Cook works 15 hours at the Menlo Park location of the Boys and Girls Club, which she first attended at age 6. She also works 15 hours a week at a restaurant. Plus, Cook is involved in track-and-field, and still plays chess. Cook said she sees her mother every day now and is trying to mend fences. She used to think it was her fault that her mother used drugs because she didn't want to take care of her. Now, Cook said, she realizes drug addiction is a disease. As for being honored by the organization that has played a huge role in her life, and where she now mentors many young children facing the same hurdles, Cook said it's a big deal. "I remember when I was their age, and I had these mentors I looked up too," she said. "Now it's my turn." Cook now moves on to a regional Youth of the Year competition and possibly on to state and national finals. The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula is honoring Cook and other outstanding young members at 6 p.m. at the Four Season Hotel in East Palo Alto.

News About Go

A Chinese player has won an important Go tournament: Chang Hao makes history at Nong Shim Cup www.chinaview.cn 2008-02-22 09:36:00 BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- Chinese go chess player Chang Hao beat South Korean 9-dan Park Yeong-hun on Thursday at the ninth Nong Shim Cup in Shanghai to claim the first trophy for China in the competition's 16 years history. Chang Hao's victory at the 13th round also won him 20 million South Korean won prize money. Chang overcame Takao Shinji 9-dan at the 11th game on Tuesday to knock the Japanese team out of the cup match. He then narrowly defeated the formidable Lee Changho of the South Korean side the next day to cement three consecutive wins. Chang Hao won the 11th Samsung Cup champion by defeating Lee Changho 2:0 in the final in 2007. In 2006, he ended the 1st Kangwon-Land Cup ring contest between China and Korea with four straight wins. The Nong Shim Cup is a gathering of the best go players from South Korea, Japan, and China. The Nong Shim Cup is sponsored by Nong Shim Food Company of South Korea. (Source: CRIENGLISH.com) ******************************************************************************** Congratulations to Chang Hao! It's been a long hard week. I'm tired and obviously missing something here. How can this be the 16th year of this "event" but only the 9th year of the "Cup?" And then there is confusion about the prize money won by Chang Hao. The article reports that he won 20 million "South Korean won prize money" which I take to mean 20 million "won" (South Korean currency). However, a photograph in the article (not included here), shows the winner holding a placard indicating "W 150.000.000", which seems to me to indicate that he won 150,000,000 won (no pun intended). So which is it, 20 million won or 150 million won - a big difference, I'm sure you'll agree. Interesting that this is the first time the Chinese have won this event in its 16 year history, even though the game of Go was invented by the Chinese in - hmmmm, working from memory here, I think it was around 600 BCE and maybe even earlier. The game was later exported to Korea and then to Japan, just like Xiang Qi (Chinese chess) was exported to Korea and Japan. Okay - did a quick off-site search for the value of a Korean won. One won equals 0.001054 US dollars. So, multiplying 150.000.000 won by the conversion rate equals $158,100 (USD). A nice pay day!

Chinese Fakes

The Chinese flood the international markets with fake versions of everything from sneakers to prescription drugs, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they also flood their own newspapers and news sources with fake photos and fake stories. A quick internet search under "fake Chinese photo" turns up lots of interesting stories. But you know it's got to be serious when a story about a fake Chinese photograph makes The Wall Street Journal!!! It was in the print edition this morning and also at their website; the story broke a few days ago: China Eats Crow Over Faked Photo Of Rare Antelope They Didn't Truly Run With a Train to Tibet; Xinhua Agency Recants By JANE SPENCER and JULIET YE February 22, 2008; Page A1 HONG KONG -- It turns out that train tracks in Tibet aren't where the antelope play. Earlier this week, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, issued an unusual public apology for publishing a doctored photograph of Tibetan wildlife frolicking near a high-speed train. The deception -- uncovered by Chinese Internet users who sniffed out a Photoshop scam in the award-winning picture -- has brought on a big debate about media ethics, China's troubled relationship with Tibet, and how pregnant antelope react to noise. The antelope imbroglio began in the summer of 2006. The Chinese government was celebrating its latest engineering feat, and an enthusiastic wildlife photographer from the Daqing Evening News was camped out on the Tibetan plateau eating energy bars and waiting for antelope to pass. On July 1, 2006, in an event scheduled to coincide with the Communist Party's 85th birthday, Chinese President Hu Jintao hosted the launch of China's train to the "roof of the world." The $4 billion Qinghai-Xizang railway -- a remarkable system that transports passengers to an altitude (16,000 feet) so high that ballpoint pens can explode en route from the air-pressure change -- traverses 1,200 miles of rugged terrain to connect the rest of China to the remote Tibetan plateau. The train, which soon brought many visitors to the pristine homeland of Tibetan Buddhists, became a flash point for China's long simmering tensions with Tibet. During construction, it drew fierce protests from environmentalists who said it would threaten the breeding grounds of the chiru, an endangered antelope species found mainly in China. When the train service began, a remarkable photograph appeared in hundreds of newspapers, and it eased environmental concerns. The picture, captioned "Qinghai-Tibet railway opens green passage for wildlife," featured dozens of antelope galloping peacefully across the Tibetan landscape, unfazed as the gleaming silver train raced beside them. The photo was the work of Liu Weiqing, a 41-year-old photographer who had been camped with his Jeep on the Tibetan plateau since March, as part of a highly publicized series by the Daqing Evening News, a regional newspaper, to raise awareness of the rare Tibetan antelope. Mr. Liu was also under contract with Xinhua to provide photos for China's largest government-run news service. "One man, one car, one year...and a campaign to protect Tibetan antelope," he wrote on his blog describing the project. Once nearly wiped out by poachers who made shawls from its wool, the chiru's numbers have increased in recent years, and the knobby-kneed bovid has emerged as a symbol of China's environmental-protection efforts. Yingying the Tibetan Antelope is one of the five official mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some antelope lovers knew from the start that something was wrong with Mr. Liu's photo. "I was really shocked when I first saw the photo," says Yang Xin, of the antelope protection group Green River. For starters, he says, many of the antelope in the picture appeared to be pregnant and there were no young with the herd. That was a tip-off because many antelope would have given birth before late June when the photo was supposedly taken. In late 2006, Mr. Liu's picture was declared a top 10 "photo of the year" by CCTV, China's state-run television network. Mr. Liu appeared in fatigues on national TV and described waiting in a pit for eight days for the antelope to pass at precisely the same moment as the train. "I wanted to capture the harmony among the Tibetan antelope, the train, men and nature," he told the audience, standing on stage in front of a big projection of the photo. Media critics say the photo's deeper message was hard to miss. "It's such a perfect propaganda photo," says David Bandurski a researcher at the University of Hong Kong China Media Project. "They don't tend to give journalism prizes to reports that rock the boat." Other photographs that took home awards that night included "Facing a harmonious future," a picture of Chinese President Hu posing with world leaders, and a "A trip to apologize," a picture of a Japanese monk apologizing to China for Japanese atrocities in World War II. CCTV didn't reply to inquiries about its criteria for photo awards. Suspicions about the photo became public last week after Mr. Liu's photograph was displayed in Beijing's subway system. An anonymous Chinese Internet user going by the screen name Dajiala raised questions about the photo's authenticity on one of China's largest photography Web sites. Dajiala, a photographer who claimed to idolize Mr. Liu, said he was studying a copy of the photo posted on Beijing's Line 5 subway platform when he rubbed some dust off it and noticed something odd. "At the bottom of the photograph, there was a very obvious line," he wrote. "I examined it very carefully and it was obviously the stitching of two different images....Was this decisive moment just a simple Photoshop trick?" His post created an online storm. Photographers blew up the image and analyzed each out-of-place pixel. Animal behaviorists weighed in, explaining that antelope are shy and noise-sensitive, and would scatter in panic at the sound of the high-speed train. When the chat-room controversy spread to China's largest Internet portals, the Chengdu Business Daily confronted Mr. Liu. Cornered by the mounting evidence, Mr. Liu admitted he had indeed used Photoshop to blend two pictures, according to the newspaper. Mr. Liu resigned from the Daqing Evening News and posted a statement on his blog. "I have no reason to continue my sacred career as a newsman," he wrote. "I am not qualified for the job." His editor then resigned, too, and the newspaper posted an apology on its Web site. The newspaper didn't respond to repeated calls to its office. Mr. Liu didn't answer calls to his cellphone. Some of China's Internet users expressed outrage that a photo easy to spot as fake had been widely circulated by major organizations. "We need an apology! This is very important for journalistic photography in China," wrote one Internet user on a photography site. It isn't clear what was behind Mr. Liu's deception. Some suspected he was the victim of his own ambition, and doctored the photo knowing that its patriotic message would appeal to China's news agencies. "Liu knows how to please his master," wrote one anonymous poster on the Internet. His friends say he was dedicated to his job and determined to raise the profile of the embattled antelope. "He was a good guy," says Zhou Zhuogang, an environmental activist from Shenzhen in southern China who met Mr. Liu in the summer of 2006 when the two men were at a volunteer station on the Tibetan plateau. "He loved photography, and he loved the antelope. I don't know what pushed him to do this." Some suspect pressure to create the photo came from above. "When everybody points a finger to the photographer, we actually missed the real core problem here," says Wang Yangbo, editor of Wen Wei Pao, a Hong Kong Daily. The photographers "are nobodies in the scheme of things here," she adds. Earlier this week, CCTV posted a statement on its Web site saying it was revoking Mr. Liu's award. On Monday, Xinhua, China's largest news organization, and several other government news organizations published an apology for circulating the photo. The companies said they would delete all of Mr. Liu's images from their databases. "We call on the public to work together with us to uphold the authenticity principle of news reporting," the statement said. Xinhua didn't respond to requests for comment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Wish It Was Friday!

So, here I've been noshing the past 20 minutes on Fritos and green olives - a big honking dish of Fritos and green olives. No - not all mixed up together (LOL) - the Fritos are on one side of the bowl, the olives on the other. I guess I must be craving salt... And fat! I haven't been near the scale in weeks (don't want it to go KA BOING!!!, poor scale).

Goddess, it's been so fricking cold here I can't stand it anymore - I'm surprised half the city hasn't committed hari kiri. How many layers of clothes can a person wear and still walk (sort of)? How many times can a person ice skate a mile to the bus stop on a sidewalk that isn't built for iceskating? But - today - finally, it actually got up to 20 degrees F. Tomorrow it will be even "warmer" - and by Monday - 38 degrees F with snow and rain mixed. Oh crap - here we go again! Later next week the nasty nasty cold cold unrelenting merciless cold strikes again. Will we ever see the 30's again??? I am so sick of knocking icicles off my gutters, of shoveling, of climbing over mile-high frozen-solid and icy snowbanks and holding my breath every time I take step on the never-ending treks to and from the bus stops! I'm oxygen deprived! No wonder my fingers are blue.

Okay, enough bitching about the crappy weather here. In August I'll be bitching about 90 degrees and 200% humidity.

Last night I watched the first episode of the new "America's Next Top Model" and had a blast; after that, I watched the repeat of the Pussycat Dolls' "Girlicious" and had a blast. I don't have any favorites on the programs yet, but I do have a couple of beyatches that I'd wish had been sent home - and weren't! Oh, how I wish they'd had stuff like this back when I was in my prime. Oh well, I wouldn't have gone to try out anyway :)

Hey, anyone out there looking for a 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inches tall "middle-aged" model with minimal wrinkles but in need of some strategic liposuction? My alter-ego is JanXena (hint hint).

Tonight's posts are a mix (as per usual); I'm now watching the Donald's TV show and that smarmy Englishman lost! I sure hope Trump fires his butt this time - he is utterly insufferable - even worse than that O woman on the other team!

Hope you like the pic. You may have seen it before - it's a classic. It makes me think of 110 degree F days in August in Las Vegas, chugging Gatorade and ducking into casinos to play nickle slots to get out of the sun. Ahhhhh.....

Goddess Sammakka

From The Times of India (Hyderabad): Sea of humanity at Medaram Jatara 22 Feb 2008, 0327 hrs IST,TNN MEDARAM (WARANGAL): It was a sea of humanity as over 25 lakh people swarmed the 'gaddelu' or platforms at the jatara site to have a glimpse of Sammakka goddess on Thursday even as lakhs of women and young girls swathed in turmeric danced in a trance. The deity of Sammakka was brought from the Chilkalgutta hillock in the deep forest area by the tribal priests in the evening and placed by the side of Sarakka on the gaddelu as the devotees jostled with one another to pay reverence to the goddess. While the deities of Sammakka's husband Pagididda Raju was brought from Poonugondla of Kothaguda mandal, Sarakka's husband Govindarajulu was brought from Kondai of Eturunagaram mandal amid drum beats and placed along side the goddesses. Superintendent of police Soumya Mishra fired three rounds in the air to signal the arrival of Sammakka from the forest area. With Sammakka and Sarakka deities mounted on the platforms, devotees' joy knew no bounds as they swayed to the folk songs and raucous drum beats. The pilgrim rush which was around 20 lakh on Wednesday reached its peak with almost 40-45 lakh congregating at the jatara site on Thursday evening. Millions of devotees, who waited in serpentine queues for the arrival of Sammakka, sang hymns in praise of the deities even as shrieks of 'Sammakka-Sarakka thalli... mammamalanu kapadu thalli (save us mother)' reverberated the area. Even as the literate and illiterate, young and old and men and women made a beeline to the gaddelu, young girls ran after 'Shiva Sathis' and 'Devara Lakshmis' to seek their blessings. According to reports, 12 persons, including four policemen, were injured at mela on Thursday. Nearly 100 people were affected due to diarrhoea. Collector K Damayanthi, joint collector K S Srinivasa Raju and the SP monitored the arrangements and allayed the pilgrims' fears saying sufficient health camps have been set up to take care of patients.

2008 Aeroflot

Standings after Round 8 (Women): Group A1: 28 WGM Hou, Yifan 4.5 CHN 2527 40 IM Sebag, Marie 4.0 FRA 2510 According to Susan Polgar's blog, both of these chess femmes are on pace to score a GM norm. Group A2: 36 IM Ovod, Evgenija 4.5 RUS 2386 45 IM Ushenina, Anna 4.0 UKR 2484 53 Ju, Wenjun 4.0 CHN 2360 66 WGM Mongontuul, Bathuyag 3.5 MGL 2389 71 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 3.0 RUS 2455 78 IM Tairova, Elena 3.0 RUS 2386 82 IM Harika, Dronavalli 2.5 IND 2455 (Dronavalli has not played in the last 3 rounds, she must have dropped out of the tournament). Group B (Final standings, after Round 9): 8 WFM Gunina, Valentina 6.5 RUS 2295 2531 +2.86 14 IM Vasilevich, Irina 6.0 RUS 2378 2430 +0.60 16 WGM Romanko, Marina 6.0 RUS 2322 2408 +1.01 18 WFM Paikidze, Nazi 6.0 GEO 2311 2470 +1.92 31 Zhang, Xiaowen 5.5 CHN 2309 2415 +1.34 38 WGM Kovanova, Baira 5.5 RUS 2348 2328 -0.22 65 WGM Kursova, Maria 4.5 RUS 2333 2272 -0.75 70 WIM Yanjindulam, Dulamsuren 4.5 MGL 2256 2353 +1.19 73 Zenyuk, Iryna 4.5 USA 2227 2317 +1.11 75 WIM Charochkina, Daria 4.5 RUS 2383 2306 -0.96 77 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 4.5 RUS 2317 2296 -0.24 79 WIM Tarasova, Viktoriya 4.5 RUS 2267 2230 -0.44 100 WIM Kashlinskaya, Alina 3.5 RUS 2276 2245 -0.40 103 WIM Iljushina, Olga 3.5 RUS 2268 2227 -0.52 106 WIM Kharashuta, Ekaterina 3.5 RUS 2222 2225 +0.02 110 WFM Nikolaeva, Alexandra 3.5 RUS 2201 2218 +0.19 114 WFM Gasik, Anna 3.0 POL 2200 2168 -0.37 116 WFM Kineva, Ekaterina 3.0 RUS 2204 2147 -0.65 133 Lestari, Baiq Vina 1.0 INA 2263 1891 -3.73 Group C (Final standings, after Round 9): 24 Kushka, Alena 6.0 RUS 2052 2206 +1.50 40 WFM Fakhretdinova, Margarita 5.5 RUS 2160 2150 -0.01 52 Jussupow, Ekaterina 5.0 GER 2030 2144 +1.24 54 WIM Grigorova, Irina 5.0 RUS 2143 2084 -0.53 61 Batzaya, Yanjav 5.0 MGL 2039 2093 +0.37 63 Chkartina, Gerhana 4.5 INA 0 2095 2095 69 Gvilava, Maya 4.5 RUS 2039 1945 -0.66 80 Kuznetsova, Tatiana 4.0 RUS 2051 2092 +0.28 83 Korytina, Natalia 4.0 KAZ 1995 1802 -1.29 84 Yakupova, Aysyla 4.0 RUS 2003 1978 -0.23 101 Tomnikova, Lidia 3.5 RUS 1888 1929 +0.24 102 Severina, Maria 3.5 RUS 1918 1954 +0.15 113 Mukhina, Marina 3.5 RUS F 1872 1829 -0.16 118 Golban, Ludmila 3.0 MDA 1910 1895 -0.20 126 Estheria, Liana 2.5 INA 0 1778 1778 127 Artemenko, Rimma 2.5 RUS 1571 1602 +0.18 129 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2.5 KAZ 0 1692 1692 130 Tikhomirova, Vera N. 2.5 RUS 1702 1317 -0.33 134 Duc, Marie 2.0 FRA 0 1639 1639 135 Zheleva, Milena 2.0 BUL 0 937 937 136 Valeva, Zlatina Hristova 2.0 BUL 0 1155 1155

Star Wars and Science Exhibit!

How cool is this! I remember standing in line in 1977 with four other friends at 3 in the morning to see the very first Star Wars movie. The wait was worth it. I remember being totally blown away by what came on the screen - and the story grabbed me from the very first moment. What femme did NOT want to be Princess Leia, and the young hung, Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford, who is now 65, eek!). My old grainy, bootlegged copies of the VHS tapes of Star Wars III, IV and V still give me a thrill. Oh, those were the days, my friends, those were the days... The Franklin Institute Science Museum (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is hosting a special exhibit entitled "Star Wars - Where Science Meets Imagination," February 9 - May 4, 2008.

Iran's National Museum and the British Museum Team Up on “Sasanian Coins”

Information from Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS):

LONDON, (CAIS) -- The first volume of the catalogue titled “Sasanian Coins” will be published in the near future in a collaborative effort by Iran’s National Museum and the British Museum.

Iran’s National Museum’s Curator of Coins Marzieh Elaheh Asgari and Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, the Curator of Islamic and Iranian Coins, in the department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, have studied more than 5000 coins in the collections in Tehran and London.

The results of Sasanian Coin Project will be published in three volumes according to a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between the museums 10 years ago.

Sasanian coins present the political, social and cultural conditions of the dynasty, and these volumes will be a valuable resource for the academic community and cultural enthusiasts. Each coin will be illustrated and described in the catalogue and the information will also go online. The following volumes are due to be published next summer.

Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis is responsible for the British Museum’s collection of pre-Islamic Iranian coins (from the third century BCE until the middle of the seventh century CE), which includes both Parthian and Sasanian dynastic coins. She also looks after coins of the Islamic era beginning with the Samanid and Buyid, Seljuk, Ilkhanid and Timurid, Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Iran.

Dr Curtis apart from the Sasanian Coin Project, she is also involved in a major Parthian Coin Project, which is a multi-institutional project with will catalogue coins of the third century BCE to the third century CE in Vienna, Tehran, Paris and Berlin.

The fourth Iranian dynasty, the Sasanians came to power in 224 CE, when Ardashir, a local king from Pars in southern Iran, seized the crown and became the new King of Kings of Iran. The Sasanians remained the most powerful empire in the ancient Near East until the advent of Islam and the Arab invasion of Iran in 651 CE.

Sasanian coins:
Sasanian coins are an important primary source for the history, economics and religion of this dynasty. From the beginning, the image of the king with his elaborate crown appears on the front and a Zoroastrian fire altar is shown on the back. The crowns incorporate symbols, such as wings, which are associated with the Zoroastrian religion and idea of kingship. The coin inscriptions, which are in Middle Persian (Sasanid-Pahlavi), give the king’s name, his religious affiliation as a worshipper of Ahuramazda, the Zoroastrian Wise Lord.

From the sixth century onwards, important information on the mint and date within the king’s reign appears on the back. More than fifty mint centres are known through abbreviations in Middle Persian but not all can be identified with certainty. Sasanian were minted in gold, silver, bronze and occasionally lead. There were two women sovereigns in the Sasanian period. These were Boran (Purandokht) (r. 630-31) and Azarmidukht (r. 631). Both were daughters of emperor Khosrow II Parviz (r. 591-628).
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The image (top) is from the CAIS article and is labeled "Two of King Ardashir's coins." Ardashir was the founder of the Sasanian Dynasty and ruled 224-241 CE. The top coin is interesting for the skull on top of the King's crown! The second coin is interesting because that looks like a cornucopia tower incorporated into the center portion of the king's crown.

Ancient American Magazine

Ancient American has a new issue available, Volume 12, Issue Number 76: Feature Article Tomb of the Embarras: Excavation Has Begun Secret Among the Trees Darrick Dean Ancient Stone Faces of New Port Richey Florida Archie Eschborn Crystal Pyramid Found in Wisconsin's Rock Lake Frank Joseph The Legendary Azgens: A White People in Prehistoric Kentucky William D. Conner Preserving Wisconsin Mounds Frank Arial Flower Giants of the Ancient Ohio Valley Ross Hamilton The Discovery of Three Continents (2300 B.C.) Dr. R. M. de Jonge Crossing the Labrador Sea (1600 B.C.) Dr. R. M. de Jonge & J.S. Wakefield Letters to the Editor A Cry of Outrage: A Friend of the Serpent Mound Oxford University News Release Spruce Hill News Epigraphy: Burrows Cave Script David Grant Stewart, Sr. Senate Bill Could Return Kennewick Man Bones to Native Tribes Annette Cary A.A.A.P.F. Conference Report Tomb of the Embarras: Excavation has Begun Columns Revealed: America's Oldest Painted Temple Letters to the Editor Answers from Antiquity Colette Thomas Smith A 1 year subscription (US) is $32.95 (6 issues), 2 years (12 issues) is $59.95. I don't have a subscription but I have purchased some back issues containing items I have an interest in, and the quality of the magazine is great - this isn't some hack cranking out junk on a mimeograph machine! A few items, though, were photocopies because all back issues had been sold out. This has also happened to me, though, when ordering back articles and/or issues of Biblical Archaeology Review, so it's probably not unusual.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mysterious Pyramid Complex Discovered In Peru

From National Geographic: Kelly Hearn in Buenos Aires, Argentina for National Geographic News February 20, 2008 The remnants of at least ten pyramids have been discovered on the coast of Peru, marking what could be a vast ceremonial site of an ancient, little-known culture, archaeologists say. In January construction crews working in the province of Piura discovered several truncated pyramids and a large adobe platform (see map). Officials from Peru's National Institute of Culture (INC) were dispatched to inspect the discovery. Last week they announced that the complex, which is 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, belonged to the ancient Vicús culture and was likely either a religious center or a cemetery for nobility. The Vicús was a pre-Hispanic civilization that flourished in Peru's northern coastal desert from 200 B.C to 300 A.D. and is known for its decorated ceramics. Experts say little is known about the culture, because its sites have been heavily looted over the years. "We found several partial pyramids, at least ten," said César Santos Sánchez, chief archaeologist for INC's Piura division. "We also found a large adobe platform that we speculate could have been used for burial rituals. But we cannot know without further testing." Skull Fragments The platform, measuring 82 feet (25 meters) by 98 feet (30 meters), was found alongside one of the larger pyramids in the complex. Another of the larger pyramids contained some artifacts as well as bone fragments from a human skull. The fact that the skull fragments were found several meters below the surface, indicating a deep grave that took much time to dig, prompted researchers to theorize that the individual buried there had high social status. Santos added that the complex is surrounded by four large hills: Pilán, Vicús, Chanchape, and Tongo. "We think that because of its geographic location the complex could have been a place of strategic value," Santos said. The area containing the pyramids is surrounded by a cemetery that has been looted by grave robbers. "But the complex itself is intact," Santos said. Who Were the Vicús? "The Vicús are very interesting but so poorly understood, given that most of what we know about them is through looted ceramic art," said Steve Bourget, an archaeologist at the University of Texas at Austin. "This could be an important find, because it is one of the few with monumental architecture. But it is too soon to tell." Experts say the Vicús ceramic style is similar in some respects to that of the Moche, a fact that has spawned research on the relationship between the two cultures. The Moche civilization flourished in areas south of the Vicús from around A.D. 100 to 750, producing intricately painted pottery as well as gold ornaments, irrigation systems, and monuments. The two cultures thrived within a relatively short distance of each other—less than that between Los Angeles and San Francisco—experts point out. "It is possible that the Vicús for part of its history was closely affiliated with the Moche culture," said Joanne Pillsbury, an archaeologist at the Washington, D.C.-based Dumbarton Oaks, a research institute affiliated with Harvard University. The discovery of the Vicús pyramids comes as perceptions about the Moche have shifted, she added. "It was once thought that Moche was a single monolithic state, but people don't think that is true anymore," Pillsbury said. "It was likely a series of regional or multi-valley kingdoms that shared a broader culture. And Vicús was probably part of that sphere of interaction."

Baby Squirrels Rescued

From Mysuncoast.com
Sarasota Mayor rescues baby squirrels
Posted:
Feb 18, 2008 04:29 PM CST
Updated:
Feb 18, 2008 10:12 PM CST

SARASOTA - Sarasota City Mayor Lou Ann Palmer spent her President's Day rescuing some furry residents.

The mayor was in her backyard when she came across two baby squirrels. She felt the tiny rodents were in distress, so she called the Wildlife Center of Venice.

They just happened to receive a call from another person in Sarasota with a similar situation, so the mayor went to pick up that squirrel as well.

They are on their way to the wildlife center to be checked out.

2008 Aeroflot

Standings after Round 7 (Women): Group A1: 26 WGM Hou, Yifan 4.0 CHN 2527 40 IM Sebag, Marie 3.5 FRA 2510 Group A2: 24 IM Ovod, Evgenija 4.5 RUS 2386 40 IM Ushenina, Anna 3.5 UKR 2484 54 Ju, Wenjun 3.5 CHN 2360 69 WGM Mongontuul, Bathuyag 3.0 MGL 2389 70 IM Tairova, Elena 3.0 RUS 2386 72 IM Harika, Dronavalli 2.5 IND 2455 73 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 2.5 RUS 2455 Group B (after Round 8): 5 IM Vasilevich, Irina 6.0 RUS 2378 17 WFM Paikidze, Nazi 5.5 GEO 2311 18 WFM Gunina, Valentina 5.5 RUS 2295 22 WGM Kovanova, Baira 5.0 RUS 2348 26 WGM Romanko, Marina 5.0 RUS 2322 29 Zhang, Xiaowen 5.0 CHN 2309 56 WIM Yanjindulam, Dulamsuren 4.5 MGL 2256 60 WIM Charochkina, Daria 4.0 RUS 2383 69 WGM Kursova, Maria 4.0 RUS 2333 81 Zenyuk, Iryna 4.0 USA 2227 86 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 3.5 RUS 2317 91 WIM Tarasova, Viktoriya 3.5 RUS 2267 94 WFM Nikolaeva, Alexandra 3.5 RUS 2201 104 WIM Iljushina, Olga 3.0 RUS 2268 112 WIM Kharashuta, Ekaterina 3.0 RUS 2222 119 WIM Kashlinskaya, Alina 2.5 RUS 2276 127 WFM Kineva, Ekaterina 2.0 RUS 2204 128 WFM Gasik, Anna 2.0 POL 2200 133 Lestari, Baiq Vina 1.0 INA 2263 Group C (after Round 8): 15 WFM Fakhretdinova, Margarita 5.5 RUS 2160 31 WIM Grigorova, Irina 5.0 RUS 2143 38 Kushka, Alena 5.0 RUS 2052 56 Chkartina, Gerhana 4.5 INA 0 70 Kuznetsova, Tatiana 4.0 RUS 2051 72 Batzaya, Yanjav 4.0 MGL 2039 74 Jussupow, Ekaterina 4.0 GER 2030 76 Korytina, Natalia 4.0 KAZ 1995 87 Gvilava, Maya 3.5 RUS 2039 89 Yakupova, Aysyla 3.5 RUS 2003 92 Severina, Maria 3.5 RUS 1918 93 Tomnikova, Lidia 3.5 RUS 1888 105 Golban, Ludmila 3.0 MDA 1910 119 Mukhina, Marina 2.5 RUS 1872 120 Tikhomirova, Vera N. 2.5 RUS 1702 121 Artemenko, Rimma 2.5 RUS 1571 122 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2.5 KAZ 0 124 Estheria, Liana 2.5 INA 0 130 Duc, Marie 2.0 FRA 0 134 Valeva, Zlatina Hristova 2.0 BUL 0 135 Zheleva, Milena 2.0 BUL 0

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Goddess Mariyamma

I believe I once read that India is the land of a thousand goddesses - and it certainly seems so. Mariyamma is a goddess whom I had not heard of before. The temple is very brightly decorated with lights and the street around the temple is crowded with people celebrating this feast. I wonder - is the temple always so brightly lit up at night?

Mangalore: Goddess of wealth - Annual Feast of Shri Mariyamma Temple
Daijiworld Media Network [MM]Pics;
Dayanand Kukkaje
February 20, 2008

The annual feast of Shri Mariyamma Temple located at Urva was held on Tuesday, February 19. This temple is regarded to be one of the oldest temples situated in Mangalore. Thousands of devotees residing in and around Mangalore paid their respects and offered their prayers in the temple. Goddess Mariyamma, also referred to as the goddess of wealth is largely worshipped here.

Meanwhile, Gopalkrishna Suvarna, managing trustee of the temple, announced that the managing committee has decided to establish a golden 'Kalasha,' which would include 400 sovereigns of gold. “The faithful have already started to donate gold and cash for this purpose,” he informed.

“The temple is also involved in imparting education to needy children and bears the forefront for many social causes “ he added.
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What's a "kalasha?" I did a bit of quick research on the internet. It seems that a gold kalasha is a pot (bowl) made out of gold that may hold sacred ingredients that are offered to a goddess or god during a ceremonial ritual.

So, is this temple now collecting gold sovereigns in order to melt them down to create a kalasha? Or are the sovereigns going to be spent to buy a gold kalasha? Or are the sovereigns intended to fill the kalasha (that will be provided from another source) in order to enable the temple to carry out the "education of the needy children" and be in the "forefront for many social causes?"

Lakshmi Back in the News - Update

The sweet little girl with the sunny dispostion and sunshine smile is back in the news. There is an update on her progress since the surgery she had in November to remove her extra limbs - and several photos. From The Telegraph.co.uk Eight-limbed girl 'will always be a Goddess' By Megan Levy Last Updated: 8:43am GMT 19/02/2008 Lakshmi's dad says: For as long as she is alive, until my dying day, I will believe she is the goddess.

When she was born, the inhabitants of her village believed she was a gift from God and christened her Lakshmi, after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth.

However, her mother, Poonam, and father, Shambu Tatma, both in their twenties and earning about 50p a day as casual labourers, rejected the opportunity to exhibit her to pilgrims as a lucky charm and instead sought treatment.

Tomorrow's programme [a documetary] examines Indian attitudes to disability and the difficulties faced by the rural poor in overcoming deeply help superstitious beliefs.

"What mustn't happen is that Lakshmi is taken away and sold to a circus," the leader of Lakshmi’s village elders told the documentary's makers. "She could have been exhibited like a freak here and earned us a fortune but we never wanted to do that and neither did the parents."

Entire article.

New Hope for Autism?

I don't have a date for this story, the link was reported at The Daily Grail today. It's an amazing story and I sure do hope that the treatment it discusses is shown to work "scientifically" - what a hope this could be for the hundreds of thousands of children now being diagnosed with autism every year: Lorenzo's Oil for Autism Written by Danny Penman Rob Nijssen sits hunched over a set of scales in his homebuilt laboratory. He's weighing out herbs, oils and powders, and combining them with the skills of a practiced craftsman. With the mischievous look in his eye, he could be a gifted academic, a drug peddler or an alchemist. He is, in fact, a man trying to save his son from a lifetime of pain and suffering. And Rob believes he's done just that. Five years ago his son, Frederick, was diagnosed with autism. The doctors told him there was no cure and warned him to prepare for a lifetime of struggle. But he refused to give up. As a fervent believer in the power of natural remedies, he decided to develop his own autism treatment. In a story that closely mirrors Lorenzo's Oil, doctors will soon begin testing Rob's autism treatment in a major clinical trial. It's a story that will give hope to the parents of tens of thousands of autistic children across the UK. "Most people think that autism is a mental disease," says Rob. "But I believe that it's caused by parasites which take root in the body because of a weakened immune system." "My treatment works by clearing out all of the toxins from the body, killing off invading microbes, and then strengthening the immune system. It works with the body to help it heal itself. Once the body is healed, then the brain can start to recover." Although it's still very early days, some doctors believe that Rob may have stumbled upon a new and potentially powerful way of helping the autistic. Dr Robert Trossel, a consultant at the Preventative Medical Centre in London, says: "We've seen dramatic improvements in some of our patients. Some began responding within days." Like many children who later go on to develop autism, Frederick was a precocious and gifted child. He was into everything. His bright blue-grey eyes followed his parents everywhere. His face constantly beamed happiness and joy. "In so many ways he was the perfect child," says Rob. "He was always happy. He was very social and always clowning around. Frederick had no serious illnesses. If anything, he was healthier than normal." But all that changed dramatically after Frederick received his MMR jab when he was 30 months old. His health quickly deteriorated and it seemed to Rob that he never quite managed to shake off the after-effects of the vaccination. Persistent colds and ear infections were the first signs that something was wrong. Then his skin erupted with rashes and he developed terrible stomach problems. For week after week, Frederick's health would spiral downwards, only to partially recover again, before weakening once more. "There's nothing worse than having a child with health problems," says Rob. "You want to take on their pain yourself so that you can stop their suffering. You feel it more than they do." Rob soon began suspecting that his son was suffering from something far worse than a persistent head cold, but the doctors dismissed his fears. And as the weeks passed, Rob became increasingly alarmed. Frederick - once an irrepressible bundle of joy - began withdrawing into himself. He became increasingly short-tempered and would often fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. His grasp of speech, which once marked him out as a gifted child, evaporated. He smiled rarely and began endlessly repeating the same things over and over again. One day, when the young family was at the beach, it dawned on Rob that Frederick was seriously ill. Frederick repeatedly picked up a stone, placed it in a plastic bucket before removing it again. He endlessly repeated this obsessive act, over and over again. Each time his parents tried to distract him, he would become confused, angry and upset. Soon afterwards, Frederick was referred to a specialist and diagnosed with autism. "The paediatrician was casual about it," says Rob. "He told us there were no cures or effective treatments available. He simply warned us that we faced a lifetime of struggle. And that was it." "In that moment I decided I'd do my best to try and develop a cure for my son." Rob had heard of the story of Lorenzo's Oil and was determined to achieve something similar for autism. And the parallels are remarkable. As you will recall, Lorenzo was a six-year-old child diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system of boys who have the gene. They are in perfect health until they are five or six, when the first symptoms appear. In the space of a few months, ALD robs its victims of their sight, hearing, and the ability to walk and to swallow. Within two years of diagnosis, the child is usually dead. But Lorenzo's parents refused to give up and spent years developing a treatment based upon the essential oils found in olive and rapeseed. The doctors scoffed but Lorenzo survived. His parents were eventually proved right when the medical establishment was forced to accept that the oils could indeed stave off the disease. Like Lorenzo's parent's, Rob had the resources needed to spend several years developing the treatment. He ran a company selling earth moving equipment outside the Dutch city of Eindhoven. With a turnover of £8 million a year, Rob knew he at least had the money - if not the time - to develop the treatment. Rob moved quickly. He spent 90 hours a week studying autism. He became a regular fixture at scientific conferences around the world and marked himself out by constantly badgering the experts. As a trained engineer he brought a refreshingly different approach to treating autism. Instead of simply trying to cope with the symptoms, he decided to ferret out the root causes of the disease and treat those instead. As a result of his research, Rob became convinced that autism results from a malfunctioning immune system. Correct this, he thought, and the body will begin to recover. It's a theory that is still hotly contested by the experts. Despite his own experiences with the MMR vaccine, he dismisses its links with autism. "MMR doesn't cause autism but it may trigger it," claims Rob. "The real cause is a weakened immune system. Once your immune system begins to fail then the whole body becomes weaker and weaker. It becomes colonised by bacteria, fungi and viruses. If that happens, is it any surprise that the brain and nervous system begins to collapse?" Rob's highly unorthodox treatment works by bolstering the immune system. It uses a combination of natural remedies, herbs, essential oils, honey, probiotics (or ‘friendly' bacteria), as well as vitamins and minerals. They are all given in a precise sequence to first cleanse the body, kill off invading parasites, and then to fortify the immune system. Clearly the treatment is unlikely to do any harm but can it do any good? Rob is convinced that the treatment works - and so do many parents who've used it on their children. Within months of beginning treatment, Rob claims his son began making progress. First of all his digestion improved. Then his moods became more stable and he began sleeping better and regaining his strength. Slowly, step by step, Rob and Anita's son is returning to them. Frederick's improving health was soon noticed by other parents at his special needs school in Weert, 100 miles to the south west of Amsterdam. Word spread rapidly from parent to parent and through the Internet. It wasn't long before Rob was asked to treat other children and has now begun supplying parents across Europe via his website. John Hufkens is one of the recent converts. He claims his 13-year-old daughter, Lianne, is making rapid progress after using Rob's treatment for six months. Crucially for him, his daughter is starting to express and discuss her emotions. One of the main features of autism is its destruction of the emotional bond between sufferers and other people. The autistic often feel that they are the only ones in the world who are fully alive and conscious. In their world, people and animals are no different to objects such as tables and chairs. But in Lianne's case this emotional connection is returning, says her father. When we meet, Lianne appears to be a typical 13-year-old girl. She's bright, bubbly and keen to try out her English. Like any other 13-year-old she alternates between childhood curiosity and adolescent shyness. "I can sleep better now," says Lianne. "I feel different to before but I can't say in what way. I'm less anxious. I used to be allergic to cheese, butter and sugar but now I can eat them. I like them." Such apparently small things as stomaching normal food and being able to understand and express emotions such as fear and anxiety are hugely significant changes, says her father. "She's genuinely making progress," he says. "She now realises that she's part of a group not just an isolated individual. I hope that one day she'll be able to live on her own, have a job and a relationship with a man." Word of Rob's treatment has now spread to Britain, where it's being used by Dr Robert Trossel, a consultant at the Preventative Medical Centre in London. Dr Trossel has a lifelong interest in alternative therapies and often prefers them to more orthodox treatments. But even he was initially sceptical of the claims being made for Rob's autism treatment. Now, after prescribing it for a handful of patients, he says he's impressed. "It doesn't work for everyone but when it does it's very powerful," says Dr Trossel. "Several patients have responded within days. "Patients sleep better, they're better emotionally balanced, less anxious, have fewer bowel problems, and can concentrate better. In my experience it's not a miracle cure. The patients have a lot of catching up to do. But the important thing is that they have started learning again." Despite the involvement of Dr Trossel, the new treatment is still regarded as highly speculative. For it to move towards the mainstream, solid scientific proof is needed. The testimonies provided by the numerous parents who've used the treatment on their autistic children are not enough. Even the evidence provided by practicing doctors such as Trossel in London is insufficient to sway the medical establishment. After all, many of Rob's claims go against the current evidence. Dr Tony Charman, of the Institute of Child Health in London, sums up the attitude of the medical establishment: "The claims for alternative treatments for autism are generally not borne out in the long run. Parents often think that their child has improved but that's frequently down to their perception. When you look at it scientifically then the claims prove to be incorrect. This is unlikely to [be] another Lorenzo's Oil story." But Rob is hopeful that he'll soon have the proof he needs. Dr Ton Haagen, a paediatrician at the Viecurie Medical Centre, one of the Nederland's main hospitals, will soon begin testing the new treatment. Clinical trials are due to begin within months at the hospital. "I think that Rob's view that autism results from immune system problems is right," says Dr Haagen. "I think his way of treating these children is correct too. We now want to assess scientifically whether Rob's supplements are useful in treating autism. One way or the other, definitive proof is unlikely to be available for several more years. But Rob is convinced that the treatment is helping his son. Ironically if it does work, like Lorenzo's Oil, it will be most effective in treating children in the earliest stages of the disease. Frederick, who is now eight, has many, many lost years to make up. "I don't expect my son to be a professor," says Rob. "I want him to be happy and content in his own way. I want him to be accepted by society for what he is and on his own terms."

Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Aeroflot

Standings after Round 5 (Women): Group A1: 40 WGM Hou, Yifan 2.5 CHN 2527 43 IM Sebag, Marie 2.5 FRA 2510 Group A2: 27 IM Ushenina, Anna 3.0 UKR 2484 35 IM Ovod, Evgenija 3.0 RUS 2386 50 IM Harika, Dronavalli 2.5 IND 2455 56 Ju, Wenjun 2.5 CHN 2360 63 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 2.0 RUS 2455 82 WGM Mongontuul, Bathuyag 1.5 MGL 2389 83 IM Tairova, Elena 1.5 RUS 2386 Group B (after Round 6): 8 IM Vasilevich, Irina 4.5 RUS 2378 11 WGM Kovanova, Baira 4.5 RUS 2348 12 WGM Romanko, Marina 4.5 RUS 2322 14 WFM Paikidze, Nazi 4.5 GEO 2311 31 WFM Gunina, Valentina 4.0 RUS 2295 43 WGM Kursova, Maria 3.5 RUS 2333 47 Zhang, Xiaowen 3.5 CHN 2309 51 WIM Yanjindulam, Dulamsuren 3.5 MGL 2256 57 WIM Charochkina, Daria 3.0 RUS 2383 79 WIM Kharashuta, Ekaterina 3.0 RUS 2222 90 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2.5 RUS 2317 95 WIM Kashlinskaya, Alina 2.5 RUS 2276 99 Zenyuk, Iryna 2.5 USA 2227 112 WIM Iljushina, Olga 2.0 RUS 2268 113 WIM Tarasova, Viktoriya 2.0 RUS 2267 125 WFM Nikolaeva, Alexandra 1.5 RUS 2201 126 WFM Gasik, Anna 1.5 POL F 2200 129 Lestari, Baiq Vina 1.0 INA 2263 133 WFM Kineva, Ekaterina 1.0 RUS 2204 Group C (after Round 6): 4 WFM Fakhretdinova, Margarita 5.0 RUS 2160 26 WIM Grigorova, Irina 4.0 RUS 2143 36 Kushka, Alena 4.0 RUS 2052 67 Kuznetsova, Tatiana 3.0 RUS 2051 69 Batzaya, Yanjav 3.0 MGL 2039 70 Gvilava, Maya 3.0 RUS 2039 72 Jussupow, Ekaterina 3.0 GER 2030 73 Yakupova, Aysyla 3.0 RUS 2003 76 Golban, Ludmila 3.0 MDA 1910 89 Korytina, Natalia 2.5 KAZ 1995 92 Tomnikova, Lidia 2.5 RUS 1888 97 Chkartina, Gerhana 2.5 INA 0 108 Severina, Maria 2.0 RUS 1918 114 Tikhomirova, Vera N. 2.0 RUS 1702 115 Artemenko, Rimma 2.0 RUS 1571 118 Duc, Marie 2.0 FRA 0 127 Mukhina, Marina 1.5 RUS 1872 128 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 1.5 KAZ 0 135 Estheria, Liana 1.0 INA 0 138 Valeva, Zlatina Hristova 1.0 BUL 0 139 Zheleva, Milena 1.0 BUL 0

An OY VEY Story!

A true ohmygoddess story - not for the weak of stomach. From The Telegraph.co.uk. Abbey body identified as gay lover of Edward II By Laura Clout Last Updated: 3:49pm GMT 18/02/2008 A mutilated body found in an abbey graveyard has been identified as that of a notorious medieval villain rumoured to have been the gay lover of Edward II. The remains, which bear the hallmarks of having been hanged, drawn and quartered, are thought to be those of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, who was executed as a traitor in 1326. Sir Hugh had been favourite of Edward II - who was widely believed to have been homosexual - but was brutally executed before a mob after the king was ousted from the throne. The decapitated remains, buried at Hulton Abbey, Staffs, have intrigued experts since they were uncovered during the 1970s and now Mary Lewis, an anthropologist, says she has uncovered compelling evidence of their true identity. The manner of execution, carbon-dating of the bones, and the absence of several parts of the body all point towards Sir Hugh being the victim, she said. "If the remains are those of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, then this is the first time such an execution victim has been identified," she added. Sir Hugh insinuated himself into the king's favour by backing him in his battles with the barons. Through a series of ruthless deals, he consolidated a huge fortune, winning himself a legion of enemies in the process, including Edward's wife, Queen Isabella. His downfall came when the queen and her ally, Roger Mortimer, deposed the king in 1326. Sir Hugh was judged a traitor and a thief. He was hanged and, still conscious, castrated, disembowelled and then quartered before his head was displayed on London Bridge. Miss Lewis, a biological anthropologist at the University of Reading, found that the Staffordshire skeleton had been beheaded and chopped into several pieces with a sharp blade, suggesting a ritual killing. There was also evidence of a stab wound to the stomach. She said: "This form of public execution was high theatre that aimed to demonstrate the power of government to the masses. High treason dictated that the perpetrator should suffer more than one death." Radiocarbon analysis dated the remains to between 1050 and 1385 and subsequent tests suggested that the male was over 34 years old. Sir Hugh was 40 when he was killed. "Dating of the Hulton Abbey skeleton indicates that he died no later that 1385, when this brutal and very public form of execution was handed out only to the most notorious political prisoners. This suggests that the skeleton at Hulton Abbey was a well-known political figure," Miss Lewis added. Sir Hugh's wife asked for his bones to be buried on his family's Gloucestershire estate but only the head, a thigh bone and a few vertebrae were returned to her. These are the bones that are missing from the Hulton Abbey skeleton. In addition, the abbey formed part of the estate of Sir Hugh's brother-in-law, Hugh Audley, and it is thought the family may have chosen to bury what remained of their disgraced relative there.

A Female Guard of Pharaoh Teti

Whoa! Okay, called me warped. Tonight is the grande finale of Bruno and Carrie Ann's Dance Wars, oooohhhh hhhaaaaa! And later, Pussycat Dolls start a new show "Girlicious". How can I resist? I've got a ham bone a mile long, always to be on the stage but I have absolutely no talent for dancing and, at my age darlings, I'm excusing myself from being sexy. Spunky is mostly what I manage these days...

So, tonight I'm splitting my time between doing the blog, research, and watching the shows.

BUT - you've just got to read this. I came across it entirely by accident as I was looking for information on Arabian battle queens. It's from Ancient Times Discussion Board under the topic Women in the Ancient World/ancient women and professions (this part of the Board hasn’t had a new post since 2005):

The latest Bulletin from the Australian Centre for Egyptology arrived today. It includes a little article that’s just right for this thread. This is the story of a woman of the Egyptian Old Kingdom who held a job not usually associated with women until the 20th Century CE. It’s also a story that might involve treason, retribution and a reward for loyalty. Does it sound interesting? Before we can get to the story of our lady we have to talk about the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Hang on. I think you’ll be happy.

Teti was the first King of Dynasty 6. Around his tomb he established a small but elite cemetery for members of his court. High position wouldn’t necessarily get a courtier a place in Teti’s cemetery. Loyal, personal service to the Royal Family just might do it. That seems to be the case of a humble lady known as Merinebti.

In the whole Teti cemetery uncovered so far, only 3 women have tombs of their own. One is Nedjetempet whose son married the King’s daughter. Another woman with a private tomb is a priestess of Hathor who was probably buried later that Teti’s time. It’s easy to see how Nedjetempet rated a tomb of her own. Merinebti’s tomb is a different story. The highest title the lady ever held was ‘guard’. The mystery is compounded by the fact that her tomb was taken from a man of much higher position.

The Old Kingdom title ‘guard wasn’t a high position but it was an honorable one. It isn’t clear exactly what their duties were but the term may refer to bodyguards for the royal family. In such a position it’s likely that royalty and humble folk saw each other on a daily basis. Perhaps the King could relax with his guard. He had to know them well. They were responsible for his life. They very well may have exchanged jokes.

As in modern law enforcement, the position of guard tended to run in families. Old Kingdom titles weren’t hereditary but we know of fathers and sons or groups of brothers who were all guards. We even know of one, Khufuankh, whose parents were both guards. Not many women held the position but female guards did exist.

We know nothing about Merinebti’s family or life except that she was probably in her 50s when she died. Why should an obscure female guard be given a coveted place in Teti’s cememtery? Why was her tomb taken from someone else?

The tomb in which Merinebti was buried originally belonged to Mereri, who held such titles as "overseer of weapons" and "Superintendent of the King’s house". He must have been a powerful man. He also must have done something horrible to have his tomb taken from him and his name erased. In the same area of the cemetery the tomb of the Vizier Hesi suffered a similar fate. Could both men have been involved in the same disgrace?

A key may be Mereri’s title "overseer of weapons". In the Old Kingdom there was no real army to speak of. In time of need local nobles were expected to provide troops for the King. Weapons were fairly rare. Even scenes of the King hunting in the desert show his bodyguards armed with sticks instead of something more lethal. An overseer of weapons could do a lot of mischief if he so chose.

Manetho claims that Teti was assassinated by his bodyguards. There’s really nothing to support this but it helps our story. Say Teti really was assassinated by plotters supplied with arms by Mereri and supported by the Vizier Hesi. Teti’s son Pepi I exacts justice with an iron hand. He imposes the worst possible punishment on the murderers of his father by depriving them of their tombs and obliterating their names. Perhaps Merenibti was the one who uncovered the plot. What better thanks than to reward her with the Overseer of weapons’ tomb?

Of course, we’ll never know. That little scenario is pure speculation. All we have is the tantalizing fact of a humble female guard buried in a tomb taken from a man of very high status. Ain’t speculation grand?

This post is a recap of : Kanawati, Naguib. "A Female Guard Buried in the Teti Cemetery" IN: BULLETIN OF THE AUSTRALIAN CENTER FOR EGYPTOLOGY. V.12 (2001) p.65-70.
****************************************************************************************

I tried to locate further information online about Merinebti, but I found no images and no details from the excavation. I did find this:

From Wikipedia:

Dr. Naguib Kanawati is the founder, in 1989, of the Australian Centre for Egyptology, which coordinates all Australian excavations in Egypt with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Reports: 17) Naguib Kanawati & Mahmoud Abder-Raziq, with contributions by L. Horácková, Ann McFarlane, T.H. Schmidt-Schultz, M. Schultz, Sameh Shafik, Eugen Strouhal, Elizabeth Thompson, Naguib Victor and Roxie Walker, The Teti Cemetery at Saqqara, Volume VII: The Tombs of Shepsipuptah, Mereri (Merinebti), Hefi and Others, (Warminster, 2001). ISBN 0-85668-806-1.

I also found this fascinating bit of information about a lady I assume is Mereri's wife (the disgraced official who gave up his tomb to Merinebti). Now, it could be that this is a different Mereri - on the other hand, the website I got this information noted that the tomb was from the Old Kingdom. Teti was the first Pharaoh of Dynasty 6 of the Old Kingdom and his son, Pepi, was one of the longest ruling Pharaohs ever. This Mereri's wife was a priestess of Hathor. I don't think it's a coincidence:

The red scarf was worn as a part of the costume for priestesses of Het-Hert during the Old Kingdom. It is a long, narrow piece of fabric that is tied around the neck with its ends trailing down the back like streamers. It was also worn by dancers, though draped in a different way.

Outside the Old Kingdom mastaba tomb of Mereri at Saqqara there is a false door of his wife Nebet (aka Ibi), a priestess of Het-Hert. The false door of a tomb is the place where the Seen and Unseen Worlds connect, allowing the ka of the deceased to partake of the offerings placed there by loving relatives.

The carved relief from this false door shows Nebet wearing a long scarf and carrying two cloth sacks and two sistra (one of which is sticking out of the sack on the right). It looks as if she also might be wearing a menat necklace around her neck. One of her titles was "Priestess of Het-Hert in all Her Places."

It seems that Pharaoh Pepi was merciful and did not have the name of Mereri's wife erased from eternity forever, as he might have done as a punishment for Mereri. (By the way, I believe the red scarf on the false door carving was emphasized by Photoshopping).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

TLV Mirror

From the Met's archives of special exhibits (Art and Oracle, related objects): Mirror with TLV PatternChina, Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)BronzeRogers Fund, 1917 (17.118.42)

The so-called TLV pattern, which resembles the three Roman letters, is commonly seen on the back of bronze mirrors of the Han dynasty. This sign, thought to have cosmological significance, also appears on other Han dynasty works, including diviners' plates, sundials, and the playing surfaces of the board game known as liubo, said to be a favorite of immortals.

Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

From The New York Times: Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? By PATRICIA COHEN Published: February 14, 2008 A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the adorable platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?” Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.” Such, uh, lack of global awareness is the kind of thing that drives Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason,” up a wall. Ms. Jacoby is one of a number of writers with new books that bemoan the state of American culture. Joining the circle of curmudgeons this season is Eric G. Wilson, whose “Against Happiness” warns that the “American obsession with happiness” could “well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse, that could result in an extermination as horrible as those foreshadowed by global warming and environmental crisis and nuclear proliferation.” Then there is Lee Siegel’s “Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob,” which inveighs against the Internet for encouraging solipsism, debased discourse and arrant commercialization. Mr. Siegel, one might remember, was suspended by The New Republic for using a fake online persona in order to trash critics of his blog (“you couldn’t tie Siegel’s shoelaces”) and to praise himself (“brave, brilliant”). Ms. Jacoby, whose book came out on Tuesday, doesn’t zero in on a particular technology or emotion, but rather on what she feels is a generalized hostility to knowledge. She is well aware that some may tag her a crank. “I expect to get bashed,” said Ms. Jacoby, 62, either as an older person who upbraids the young for plummeting standards and values, or as a secularist whose defense of scientific rationalism is a way to disparage religion. Ms. Jacoby, however, is quick to point out that her indictment is not limited by age or ideology. Yes, she knows that eggheads, nerds, bookworms, longhairs, pointy heads, highbrows and know-it-alls have been mocked and dismissed throughout American history. And liberal and conservative writers, from Richard Hofstadter to Allan Bloom, have regularly analyzed the phenomenon and offered advice. T. J. Jackson Lears, a cultural historian who edits the quarterly review Raritan, said, “The tendency to this sort of lamentation is perennial in American history,” adding that in periods “when political problems seem intractable or somehow frozen, there is a turn toward cultural issues.” But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way. Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters. She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map. Ms. Jacoby, dressed in a bright red turtleneck with lipstick to match, was sitting, appropriately, in that temple of knowledge, the New York Public Library’s majestic Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue. The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11. Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II: “This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said. The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?” “That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied. At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.” Rest of article.
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