Saturday, November 7, 2009

Elite Female Burial Uncovered in Cahuachi, Peru

From the en Peru blog (unfortunately, not dated, but it was posted at Archaeologica today): Priestess of Cahuachi Tomb discovered of an elite child dating to the early Nasca Period. With the mummy were various pieces of jewellery made from gold, silver and precious stones. Paying for a guardian out of his own pocket for 27 years turned out to be worth it for the Italian archaeologists Giuseppe Orefici, director of the Nasca Project. Not reimbursed by his supervisors in Italy nor (shamefully but all too predictably) by the Peruvian state, it is thanks to the Italian’s dedication at the heavily tomb-raided ceremonial city of Cahuachi, a expansive adobe city of countless buried pyramids, that a recent discovery was able to be made. Discovered in a recent dig was the mummy of a young priestess, a member of the elite, with several precious items dating from the period of 300-450A.D., the most important period at what, if unburied, is said to be the world’s largest adobe city. According to Orefici, the girl must have been important. She would have been between 12 and 14 at her time of death and was found inside a series of rooms between the Great Pyramid and what is known as the Orange Pyramid. The building would have formed a small temple that had 4 columns holding up its roof. The archaeologists had to remove a layer or reeds and ropes that covered the burial. The body appeared to have been painted and found with an additional vertebra added. She also had slightly deformed forearms, apparently something self-inflicted by having the arms extended vertically for long periods of time – perhaps as a result of a praying. She was wrapped in finely woven fabric that had patterns of orcas (killer whales) found in the southern pacific and contained obsidian arrow heads. But the most impressive items are the jewels found in the bundle. Of these one in particular stands out; a spectacular golden nose ring bathed in silver, which was found on her nose when uncovered. Also found were necklaces and bracelets of precious spondylus shells among other precious items. Curiously there were also dozens of heads of birds of prey with their beaks tied closed with fine strings, just some accompanied by their full bodies. Also found were a number of ceramic items, finely decorated with geometric patterns. Although there is much to discover about the supposed priestess, researchers have begun the journey decipher the meaning of the burial objects. The find has been taken to the city of Nazca where it is being studied by anthropologist and physicist Andrea Drusini from the University of Padua. Meanwhile, Oferici will continue to pay the guardian of the site himself, the only way to guarantee the preservation of the temples where most probably more spectacular finds will be made – by archaeologists, not by tomb-robbers.

Rival Chess Association Established in India

Interesting news. Rival chess body plays cash card B Shrikant , Hindustan Times Mumbai, November 07, 2009 First Published: 23:21 IST(7/11/2009) Last Updated: 23:24 IST(7/11/2009) Rival factions setting up a federation not recognised by the players, government or the international body does not give sports administrators in India sleepless nights. But what could prove a big concern is the lure of big bucks on offer in a tournament proposed by a parallel chess body. The Chess Association of India (CAI) was reportedly registered last week in Lucknow and have announced a tournament with a prize money of Rs 15 lakh, to be held from December 23 to 30 in New Delhi. The All India Chess Federation secretary DV Sundar scoffed off the establishment of the new federation, which is not recognised by AICF, the Sports Ministry or the global chess body FIDE. But there is the danger that gullible players may fall prey to the attractive pay packet and participate in the event, which could result in suspension from all AICF activities. CAI has been formed by some of the disgruntled elements already banned by AICF, and those close to former secretary PT Ummer Koya. Darshan Gupta, joint secretary of CAI said they would come up with details of the proposed event in the next couple of days. “The first prize in the New Delhi tournament will be approximately Rs 3.5 lakh and we are expecting a number of top players to take part. We have plans to organise similar events in other cities too,” Gupta told HT over phone from New Delhi. The big prize money is bound to attract young players, feel officials and players. “This is a major concern as there are not enough open tournaments being organised. The prize fund of Rs 15 lakh will attract gullible youngsters. The top prize of few lakhs is not a small amount for parents and players struggling to attract sponsorship,” said a chess official on condition of anonymity.

World Senior Women's Chess Championship

Official site. October 27 - November 11, 2009 Final Ranking after Round 9 Platz Name Pts. 1. Gaprindashvili Nona GM GEO 7.5 2. Fatalibekova Elena FGM RUS 7.0 3. Fomina Tatyana FIM EST 6.5 4. Kozlovskaya Valentin FGM RUS 6.0 5. Mira Helene FIM AUT 6.0 6. Voronova Tatiana FIM LAT 5.5 7. Shushpanova Nina FFM RUS 5.5 8. Strutinskaya Galina FIM RUS 5.0 9. Miednikova Swietlana FFM RUS 5.0 10. Vilerte Tamara FGM LAT 5.0 11. Bogumil Tatiana FFM RUS 5.0 12. Khropova Larisa FFM RUS 4.5 13. Komysheva Margarita FFM RUS 4.5 14. Bilunova Rimma I FIM RUS 4.5 15. Dotan Valeria FFM ISR 4.5 16. Lychkova Ludmila RUS 4.5 17. Abdikasova Panu KAZ 4.0 18. Mkrychian Alla FFM UZB 4.0 19. Chernova Natalja RUS 4.0 20. Sokolovskaya Serafim FFM USA 4.0 21. Zaitseva Tamara RUS 4.0 22. Onoprienko Elena RUS 4.0 23. Lein Marina RUS 3.5 24. Milashevskaja Valent RUS 3.5 25. Savinova Yulia RUS W 3.0 26. Shmyreva Tatiana RUS 3.0 27. Elstein Alla Dr. GER W 1.5 28. Di Cicco Daniela ITA 1.0

Pakistani Fashionistas Thumb Their Noses at Taliban

Article from Associated Press (AP): Pakistan's fashionistas defy Taliban By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer Chris Brummitt, Associated Press Writer – Sat Nov 7, 7:36 am ET KARACHI, Pakistan – Some women strode the catwalk in vicious spiked bracelets and body armor. Others had their heads covered, burqa-style, but with shoulders — and tattoos — exposed. Male models wore long, Islamic robes as well as shorts and sequined T-shirts. As surging militant violence grabs headlines around the world, Pakistan's top designers and models are taking part in the country's first-ever fashion week. While the mix of couture and high-street fashions would not have been out of place in Milan or New York, many designers reflected the turmoil, contradictions and tensions coursing through the society. The four-day event, which was postponed twice due to security fears and amid unease at hosting such a gathering amid an army offensive in the northwest, is aimed at showing the world there is more to Pakistan than violence and helping boost an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people, organizers said. Many of the models, designers and well-heeled fashionistas packing out each night said the gathering was a symbolic blow to the Taliban and their vision of society, where women are largely confined to the house and must wear a sack-like covering known as a burqa. "This is our gesture of defiance to the Taliban," said Ayesha Tammy Haq, the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Week. "There is a terrible problem of militancy and political upheaval ... but that doesn't mean that the country shuts down. That doesn't mean that business comes to a halt." Rest of article.

Chess Training - 3

Hold on to your hats, folks. I won my very first game at [Event "Challenge"] [Site ""] [Date "2009.10.19"] [EndDate "2009.11.07"] [Round "?"] [White "fullhouse"] [Black "Shakerjan"] (That's me) [WhiteRating "998"] [BlackRating "1135"] [WhiteELO "998"] [BlackELO "1135"] [Result "0-1"][ GameId "6810993"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bf1b5 c6 3. Bb5c4 Ng8f6 4. d3 Bf8e7 5. Nb1c3 O-O 6. Ng1f3 d5 7. exd5 cxd5 8. Bc4b5 Nb8c6 9. O-O d4 10. Nc3e2 a6 11. Bb5a4 Nf6g4 12. c3 Be7c5 13. cxd4 Nc6xd4 14. Bc1e3 Ng4xe3 15. fxe3 Nd4xf3 16. Kg1f2 Nf3xh2 17. Rf1h1 Qd8f6 18. Kf2e1 Nh2g4 19. d4 Qf6f2 20. Ke1d2 Bc5b4 21. Kd2c1 Qf2xe3 22. Kc1c2 Bc8f5 23. Qd1d3 Qe3xd3 24. Kc2c1 Qd3d2 0-1

GM Susan Polgar Comes Through!

Susan Polgar contacted me regarding my prior post on Shira's wish for chess software to download to the Dell notebooks for the upcoming Computer Labs for Kids project. Once again, GM Polgar comes through and is generously donating 28 copies of her age-appropriate interactive DVD that teaches kids how to play chess to the Computer Labs for Kids project at the SOS Childrens Village of Illinois which launches on November 15, 2009! I just got off the telephone with Shira to tell her the news and she is as thrilled as I am. THANK YOU, SUSAN! This is wonderful! Learn Chess in 30 Minutes, Chess for Absolute Beginners

Friday, November 6, 2009

9 Queens - Upcoming Events!

9 Queens - Empowerment Through Chess: 9 Queens provides chess instruction to those most in need of the game's benefits, especially girls and at-risk youth. November 15, 2009: Tucson Queens Academy! Philadelphia 9 Queens Academy Dates -- expanded and enhanced!!! Location: Story Hour Room (Children’s Department on the ground floor), Parkway Central Library 1901 Vine St. 19103 Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm (unless otherwise noted) 11/14/09 1/23/10 2/20/10 3/27/10 5/15/10

"The Red Shoes" Remastered

In 1989, when I was a subscriber to cable television before it got too expensive, I saw the 1948 cinema classic "The Red Shoes," and it scared the crap out of me! That movie really freaked me out - those damned shoes...did they possess the dancer? Or did the dancer possess the shoes? It also said a lot about the suffocatingly few places that a woman had in the world back then -- ultimately, under the power of one man or another - or better off dead. Well! The movie has come back - bigger and better than ever - remastered and digitalized. And for all of those nuances that I missed back in 1989 when I watched the movie for the first time as a 38-year old adult, here a review that will clue you in! From The New York Times Film A Tragic Ballerina Dances Again, Her Shoes Now Redder Than Ever By MANOHLA DARGIS Published: November 5, 2009 “Why do you want to dance?” barks the imperious ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in “The Red Shoes,” the 1948 masterpiece from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. “Why do you want to live?” answers the young ballerina, Victoria Page, her face pale and pure as cream. It’s a mad, beautiful line, yet she utters it so easily, without apparent effort or guile, that you know that she means it and that you’re meant to believe it too. She dances because she must, because there is no choice. She dances until the sweat beads on her brow, and the abyss opens. Mostly, she dances because she is a flame for art, blazing bright until she is snuffed out. Widely deemed the most famous ballet film ever made, “The Red Shoes,” directed by Powell and written by Pressburger (officially sharing the credits), has been the inspiration for countless bleeding feet and soaring artistic passions since its release. It is likely to seduce yet new generations of seekers and true believers, some of whom will doubtless be practicing demi-pliés on the ticket line when the movie — recently restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with help from Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and several other groups — opens at Film Forum on Friday for a two-week run. This is essential viewing because even if you think you have seen the movie before its restoration, if you’re under 60, you probably haven’t seen it anywhere near its original Technicolor glory. This born-again version of “The Red Shoes,” digitally resuscitated from battered prints and negatives, should surprise even those who have watched the fine Criterion DVD. A film like few others, made like few others — the Powell and Pressburger partnership remains sui generis — it reaches high and strikes its mark, at times improbably. It’s an insistently designed work of non-naturalism, daubed with startling, unreal, gaudy colors that seem to have been created to blast away the last traces of wartime drear. The colors in “The Red Shoes” don’t just exist, they also express. “Color and I are one,” the painter Paul Klee said. When watching “The Red Shoes,” it’s easy to imagine Powell saying the same. Instead, he said, “I am cinema.” Loosely taken from the macabre Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Red Shoes” follows Vicky (Moira Shearer, a real ballerina, making her film debut - photo from Encyclopedia Britannica) from her first determined steps in the corps to stardom in Lermontov’s company. Partly based on the impresario of the Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev — with some Powell thrown in — and played with mesmerizing ferocity by the Viennese-born actor Anton Walbrook, Lermontov drives Vicky toward perfection, insisting that she sacrifice everything for art, even her heart. But she falls in love with Julian Craster (Marius Goring), the composer of the work that makes her a star, succumbing to him as she rehearses the ballet. Enraged by her supposed betrayal, Lermontov fires Julian, and Vicky quits, only to later and fatally return. Vicky is caught between Julian, the selfish lover who wants her only for himself, and Lermontov, whose obsession with her appears to transcend the sexual, suggesting a kind of demonic possession. A suave number partial to sunglasses, Lermontov appears several times in and on trains belching clouds of smoke, an evocation of Vicky’s catastrophic final leap. (According to Powell, Ms. Shearer leapt without a double, landing on a mattress.) Until then, Vicky spins and spins and spins, her vertiginous journey visually echoed in the images of fans and a rotating record and, in one astonishing scene, a seemingly endless spiral staircase on which she flees the theater and its fantasies to head into the hard light of the real world. “The ballet of ‘The Red Shoes,’ ” Lermontov explains to Julian early in the film, “is the story of a young girl who is devoured by an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of red shoes. She gets the shoes, goes to the dance. And first all goes well, and she’s very happy.” She tires, but: “The red shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the streets, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forest, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the red shoes dance on.” Then what happens? Julian asks, not realizing that he’s asking for the end of his own story. “Oh,” Lermontov says with a small wave of the hand. “In the end she dies.” This is about as much exposition as Pressburger provides in a screenplay that, while richly embroidered with memorable, quotable lines (“Not even the best magician in the world can produce a rabbit out of a hat if there is not already a rabbit in the hat”), is a vehicle for cinema, not speeches. Indeed, several nondance scenes unfold without a word, as does the spectacular 15-minute ballet centerpiece. (The choreographer Robert Helpmann dances the part of the boy, while Léonide Massine, a Diaghilev protégé, makes a dazzling and suitably devilish cobbler.) Somewhat reminiscent of Busby Berkeley’s more fantastic dance numbers, the ballet doesn’t take place on a conventional, constricted stage, for the viewing pleasure of a clapping audience, but in a purely cinematic realm, complete with trick photography. In this strange and violent dance, the theater’s walls melt away, and the barriers between Vicky and her character, between art and life, at which Lermontov has been steadily pounding, give way. That life and art are finally inseparable is a theme of the story, or perhaps its lesson. This refusal of barriers extends to the filmmaking itself, which draws on other arts — literature, painting, dance and music — and recombines them into cinema. That synthesis, in turn, is mirrored by the creative partnership of the two filmmakers, who, calling themselves the Archers, usually shared the credit “written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger,” an acknowledgment of the intimacy of their collaboration and shared vision. A box office disappointment in Britain, where it was indifferently released by the producer J. Arthur Rank, “The Red Shoes” was a smash elsewhere, playing for two years in Manhattan. Not long ago I met a woman who said she watched it every week for a year when it opened in Los Angeles. She went on to dance with Arthur Freed’s unit at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, home to some of the most glorious film musicals not made by Powell and Pressburger. In his autobiography Powell writes that Gene Kelly repeatedly showed “The Red Shoes” to MGM executives before getting permission to make Vincente Minnelli’s “American in Paris” — an influence most evident in the long ballet Kelly dances in that film. Time rushes by. The red shoes dance on.

Computer Labs for Kids: Update on SOS Childrens Village

Prior post. All systems are go for Shira’s newest project, this time stateside in Illinois – the SOS Childrens Village of Illinois. Twenty-eight children (pre-teen) will receive brand new Dell laptops along with the training to use them! Shira and other volunteers, including yours truly, will be working with the kids and the computers on site next Sunday, November 15, 2009. Shira has a wish. She would like to be able to load software that teaches kids how to play chess on all 28 laptops. They run Windows XP. There are no funds available to purchase 28 copies of software, not even at a discount. Shira has posted this wish at If you can find it in your heart, we would greatly appreciate your help in obtaining the necessary copies of software to load on to the laptops that Shira’s Foundation will be turning over to their future youthful owners next Sunday. I am thrilled, delighted, and touched that Shira took up on a suggestion I made a few months ago, about using the computers to teach the kids to play chess. The educational, social and personal benefits that learning how to play chess brings to a young person (and adults, too), are well documented. Much information about the benefits of chess and information about some of the work being done with our youth around the United States can be found at GM Susan Polgar’s blog, the 9Queens website, and at GM Alexandra Kosteniuk’s blog. I will try to take lots of pictures – that is, if we are allowed. There may be privacy concerns regarding the children -- I will be sure to check on this. I will be sure to take plenty of pictures of Shira and any other volunteer who comes within camera range! I promise I will only publish photos of myself that I deem suitable for adult viewing :)

A Woman Brought Hasan Down

In an ironic twist, the man who did not marry because he could not find a satisfactorily devote-enough woman of the Islamic faith who wore hijab, was stopped in his murderous rampage by a woman. Kimberly Munley praised for ending Fort Hood rampage Police officer confronted gunman and shot him four times despite being wounded herself Helen Pidd, Friday 6 November 2009 15.36 GMT The civilian police officer who shot and "subdued" the gunman responsible for the Fort Hood killings was today hailed as a hero. Sergeant Kimberly Munley was praised for her "amazing and aggressive performance" by the top commander at Fort Hood, Lieutenant General Bob Cone, who credited her with stopping the shooting rampage that killed 13 people at the Texas post. Munley shot the gunman four times despite being wounded herself. Cone said Munley and her partner responded within three minutes of reported gunfireyesterday afternoon. Munley had been directing traffic moments before she confronted the gunman, the New York Daily News reported. Munley, who had been trained in active-response tactics, rushed into the building and confronted the shooter as he was turning a corner, Cone said. "It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer," Cone said. Munley was only a few feet from army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan when she opened fire. Munley was reported to be in a stable condition at a local hospital. She was well enough to spend last night phoning fellow officers to find out about casualties in the attack, the New York Daily News reported. Cone said Munley's aggressive response training taught her that "if you act aggressively to take out a shooter you will have less fatalities". "She walked up and engaged him," he said. He praised her as "one of our most impressive young police officers".

Boo Hoo for the Lost Boys - NOT!

Blatant sexual discrimination in favor of male admissions to college because - get this - it's patriotic! From the online edition of The Wall Street Journal/Opinion NOVEMBER 5, 2009, 10:47 P.M. ET The Lost Boys By RICHARD WHITMIRE This week, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that it will investigate whether colleges discriminate against women by admitting less qualified men. It will strike many as odd to think that American men would need such a leg up. From the men-only basketball games at the White House to the testosterone club on Wall Street, we seem surrounded by male dominance. And yet, when looking to America's future—trying to spot the future entrepreneurs and inventors—there's reason to be troubled by the flagging academic performance among men. Nearly 58% of all those earning bachelor's degrees are women. Graduate programs are headed in the same direction, and the gender gaps at community colleges—where 62% of those earning two-year degrees are female—are even wider. Economists at both the Department of Education and the College Board agree that, to ensure high future earnings, men and women have an equal need for college degrees, and yet only women are getting that message. The numbers are startling. This summer the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University published the results of a study tracking the students who graduated from Boston Public Schools in 2007. Their conclusion: For every 167 females in four-year colleges, there were 100 males. In theory, the surge in the number of educated women should make up for male shortcomings when we're looking at the overall prospects for the economy. But men and women are not the same. At the same levels of education, women remain less inclined to roll the dice on risky business start-ups or to grind out careers in isolated tech labs. Revenue generated by women-owned businesses remains less than 5% of all revenue. And while the number of women taking on economically important majors is rising, women still earn only a fifth of the bachelor's degrees granted in physics, computer science and engineering. Why males don't seem to "get" the importance of a college education is a mystery, especially considering the current collapse of jobs that traditionally don't require post-high-school study. (Even "cash for clunkers" isn't going to mark the return of car companies as a major employer of uneducated men.) And who could miss the message of the recession, where as many as 80% of the workers laid off have been male? Too many boys arrive at their senior year of high school lacking both the skills and aspirations that would get them into, and through, college. At a typical state university, a gender gap of 10 percentage points in the freshman class grows by five points by graduation day, as more men than women drop out. All this explains why colleges have been putting a thumb on the scale to favor men in admissions. There just aren't enough highly qualified men to go around. Determining that colleges practice discrimination doesn't take much detective work. Higher acceptance rates for men show that colleges dig deeper into their applicant pool to find them. The final proof: Freshman class profiles reveal that the women, with their far higher high-school grade point averages, are more academically qualified than the men. Interviews with admissions officers reveal that the girls' essays sparkle compared to the boys', and girls far outshine boys in extracurricular activities as well. The Commission on Civil Rights cited an example written about in U.S. News & World Report in 2007: Virginia's University of Richmond was maintaining its rough gender parity in men and women only by accepting women at a rate 13 percentage points lower than the men. It would be patriotic to report that this discrimination against women is carried out in the national economic interest of boosting graduates in key math and science fields. But, in truth, it's really a social consideration. Colleges simply want to avoid approaching the dreaded 60-40 female-male ratio. At that point, men start to take advantage of their scarcity and make social life miserable for the women by becoming "players" on the dating scene. The case to abolish male gender preferences is problematic. Most of those male preferences are granted by private colleges, which consider themselves on solid legal ground. (Some public colleges and universities also grant those preferences at considerable legal risk, an indication of the depth of the fear about broaching that 60-40 threshold.) In truth, these gender preferences are a sideshow. The real issue is the flagging academic interest among boys, a phenomenon that dates back only about two decades. It's a new issue to most Americans but hotly debated in countries such as England. So far, nobody has solved the boy mystery, but some countries are years ahead of the U.S. Australia has had some success with literacy-boosting programs for young boys. Until the code gets cracked, there's a national economic interest in keeping those preferences in place—just for a few more years.— Mr. Whitmire is the author of the forthcoming book "Why Boys Fail." Hey Mr. Whitmire - here's a hint - if you want to change the boys, change the culture that allows them to be lazy self-absorbed wimps or gansta wannabes. If they don't want to be tomorrow's engineers and physicists and chemists, train up the females to do the work. It CAN be done by - you guess it - changing the underlying cultural mores and expectations for females. Mr. Whitmire's thinking is soooooo 19th century, just as is the American male expectation that they should earn a living wage without having to actually acquire any skills and knowledge to get ahead in this 21st century world we are now, actually, living in. Ha!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

World Senior Women's Chess Championship

19th Senior Woman World Championship : Registered Players Gaprindashvili Nona GEO 1941 GM 2349 2 Strutinskaya Galina N RUS 1957 WIM 2292 3 Kozlovskaya Valentina RUS 1938 wg 2252 4 Vilerte Tamara LAT wg 2236 5 Fomina Tatyana EST 1954 WIM 2232 6 Voronova Tatiana LAT 1955 WIM 2226 7 Zaitseva Tamara RUS -- 2221 8 Fatalibekova Elena RUS 1947 wg 2216 9 Miednikova Swietlana RUS 1956 WFM 2173 10 Bilunova Rimma I RUS 1940 WIM 2171 11 Bogumil Tatiana RUS 1958 WFM 2169 12 Mkrychian Alla UZB 1951 WFM 2128 13 Mira Helene AUT 1954 WIM 2125 14 Dotan Valeria ISR 1941 WFM 2115 15 Sokolovskaya Serafima RUS 1947 WFM 2102 16 Komysheva Margarita RUS 1945 WFM 2097 17 Chernova Natalja RUS 1947 -- 2082 18 Khropova Larisa RUS 1955 WFM 2081 19 Abdikasova Panu KAZ 1935 -- 2055 20 Onoprienko Elena RUS -- 1977 21 Lein Marina RUS 1943 -- 1961 22 Shushpanova Nina RUS 1948 WFM 1958 23 Lychkova Ludmila RUS 1949 -- 1939 24 Milashevskaja Valentina RUS 1952 -- 1835 25 Shmyreva Tatiana RUS 1937 -- 1794 26 Elstein Alla Dr. GER 1941 -- 1677 27 Di Cicco Daniela ITA 1957 -- 1571 28 Savinova Yulia RUS 1951 -- 0 Ranking after Round 7 19. World Senior Chess Championship Condino Women 27.10. - 08.11.2009 Name Title Coun Pt 1. Fomina Tatyana FIM EST 5.5 2. Fatalibekova Elena FGM RUS 5.5 3. Gaprindashvili Nona GM GEO 5.5 4. Kozlovskaya Valentin FGM RUS 5.0 5. Strutinskaya Galina FIM RUS 4.5 6. Voronova Tatiana FIM LAT 4.5 7. Mira Helene FIM AUT 4.5 8. Komysheva Margarita FFM RUS 4.5 9. Miednikova Swietlana FFM RUS 4.0 10. Vilerte Tamara FGM LAT 4.0 11. Khropova Larisa FFM RUS 4.0 12. Bogumil Tatiana FFM RUS 4.0 13. Shushpanova Nina FFM RUS 4.0 14. Bilunova Rimma I FIM RUS 3.5 15. Dotan Valeria FFM 3.0 16. Abdikasova Panu KAZ 3.0 17. Chernova Natalja RUS 3.0 18. Mkrychian Alla FFM UZB 3.0 19. Onoprienko Elena RUS 3.0 20. Savinova Yulia RUS 3.0 21. Sokolovskaya Serafim FFM USA 2.5 22. Zaitseva Tamara RUS 2.5 23. Lychkova Ludmila RUS 2.5 24. Milashevskaja Valent RUS 2.5 25. Lein Marina RUS 2.5 26. Shmyreva Tatiana RUS 2.0 27. Elstein Alla Dr. GER 1.5 28. Di Cicco Daniela ITA 1.0

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tells, Tombs, Burials

Recent news: Six prehistoric burials have been excavated on Scotland’s Isle of Skye Second "royal" Iron Age burial mound discovered in The Netherlands 1800 year old grave (and artifacts) uncovered in Vietnam

To Mammogram - or not? That is the question

The latest research raises serious questions about the efficacy of subjecting women to mammograms after age 60. Here is the article from The New York Times: Second Opinion Quandary With Mammograms: Get a Screening, or Just Skip It? By DENISE GRADY Published: November 2, 2009 Here we go again. Another study raises questions about the benefits of mammograms, and another set of confusing statements issue forth from experts. Last month, Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, told The New York Times that the medical profession had exaggerated the benefits of cancer screening, and that if a woman refused mammography, “I would not think badly of her, but I would like her to get it.” Then, the cancer society issued a statement saying women over 40 should keep having mammograms every year, because seven studies have shown that the test decreases the risk of death from breast cancer. But the statement also said mammography can “miss cancers that need treatment, and in some cases finds disease that does not need treatment.” In other words, the test may lead to some women being treated, and being exposed to serious side effects, for cancers that would not have killed them. Some researchers estimate that as many as one-third of cancers picked up by screening would not be fatal even if left untreated. But right now, nobody knows which ones. So what are women supposed to do? Mammograms are no fun, to put it mildly. Like many women, I have been putting up with them in hopes that, if I get cancer, they might find it early enough to save my life and maybe help me avoid extensive surgery and chemotherapy. Have I been kidding myself? Hoping to make sense of it all, I consulted several experts. All said mammograms were still important — after all, breast cancer kills 40,000 women a year in this country — but they differed about who really needed them and how often. All agreed that research was badly needed to figure out how to tell dangerous tumors from the so-called indolent ones. One of the experts was Dr. Laura J. Esserman, a breast surgeon from the University of California, San Francisco, and author of the Oct. 21 report in The Journal of the American Medical Association that touched off the latest debate about mammography. Dr. Esserman described breast cancers as slow, medium or fast in growth rate and aggressiveness, and said screening seemed to be good at finding the slow ones, which probably didn’t need treatment, but might not catch the aggressive and deadly types before they began to spread. But it also picks up the medium ones, and those are the women who may benefit most. Again, more research is needed to figure out which kind of tumor a patient has. “The first thing to talk about is who’s helped and who’s not,” Dr. Esserman said. In her view, women over 70 or 75 can stop being screened, because no studies have shown that it helps them. If they do develop breast cancer, she said, it is likely to be a slow-growing type that will not kill them. Like many other researchers, she said that, despite the cancer society’s guidelines, evidence was also lacking for a benefit in screening women from 40 to 50 — unless they have a strong family history of breast cancer or a mutation in a gene called BRCA, which greatly increases the risk. For women 50 to 70, Dr. Esserman said, the story is different. In that age range, there is good evidence that screening can reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent. Also, she said, women should try to get a sense of their own risk, and if it is high, talk to a doctor about taking tamoxifen or raloxifene, drugs that can lower the risk. One risk factor is having dense breast tissue, which is a double threat: cancer is more likely and harder to detect, because X-rays do not penetrate this tissue as well as they pass through fat. The only way to find out whether you have dense breasts is with a mammogram, and the radiologist’s report should mention density, Dr. Esserman said. Patients may have to request the full report. Other risk factors include taking hormones to treat menopause symptoms; having a history of biopsies, no pregnancies before 30, or a mother or sister with breast cancer; and aging. A risk calculator for breast cancer, used by the National Cancer Institute, provides a score based on the answers to seven quick questions. But it’s only an estimate, and Dr. Susan Love, a breast surgeon and researcher in Santa Monica, Calif., cautions that the calculator is not so good at predicting individual risk. As for screening, Dr. Love praised Dr. Brawley and Dr. Esserman for questioning the status quo. “Boy, everybody was afraid to go there, like it was the third rail,” she said, adding: “I really don’t think we should be routinely screening women under 50. There’s no data showing it works.” Younger women, she said, are less likely to have cancer, and they tend to have dense breast tissue, so mammograms are more likely to miss tumors. For them, she said, “it’s radiation without much benefit.” Dr. Love noted that not all medical groups agreed with the cancer society’s guidelines. Some recommend no screening for women under 50 or over 70, and some advise mammograms only every other year. In European countries that screen every other year, she said, the breast cancer death rates are no higher than in the United States. She added that women from ages 50 to 70 should find out whether they have dense breasts, and those who do not could probably get by with less frequent mammograms. But some researchers say that the benefits of yearly screening far outweigh the risks, and that if women skip it, gains against breast cancer — death rates have declined in recent years — could be undone. Dr. Larry Norton, deputy physician in chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, said by e-mail: “Just because a test isn’t perfect is no reason to abandon it while better tests are being developed. The bottom line is that if an individual woman wants to reduce her odds of dying of breast cancer (by at least 24 percent, which is no small effect), then she should follow the current screening guidelines.” Even if it were true that 1 in 3 cancers found by mammography would not become fatal (a figure that Dr. Norton questions), there is no sure way to tell which those are. “And in the face of uncertainty, one must make rational choices,” he said. “Say someone fires a gun at you, and you know that there is a 30 percent chance that the bullet is a blank. Do you not still duck?” Dr. Norton also emphasizes that finding tumors when small, which mammograms can do, increases the odds that the patient will be able to avoid mastectomy and chemotherapy. But Dr. Silvia C. Formenti, the chairwoman of radiation oncology at New York University Langone Medical Center, said: “I don’t think there is enough debate. Screening does not pay off the way we expected.” Dr. Formenti said she was concerned about finding tumors in older people that would probably not kill them. But the diagnosis turns them into cancer patients and erodes their peace of mind forever. “We take away the innocence of being healthy and not having to worry about cancer,” she said. “The psychological cost of becoming a cancer patient is underrated.” Dr. Formenti said the emphasis on screening by groups like the cancer society might have misled the public into thinking that screening could prevent cancer. “It’s a giant misconception,” she said. Nonetheless, she said, “between 50 and 60 is a good time to be screened” — and women over 60 may still benefit, though the evidence is not as strong. But she emphasized that women of all ages needed to assess their risks when making decisions about being screened, and that all should have their breasts examined once a year by a doctor to check for lumps or other abnormalities. An experienced doctor can feel lumps one centimeter and larger, she said, noting that even masses as large as five centimeters can still be removed by lumpectomy — preserving the breast — and may not need chemotherapy. “In a certain sense, I have to confess that I’m happy if the public gets offended or infuriated” by the debate, Dr. Formenti said. “I want taxpayers to say: ‘You have no clarity. Study it. Stop telling us you are a good girl if you get a mammogram.’ ” By the time I finished the interviews I decided that, because I’m between 50 and 60, I’ll keep having mammograms. But I’ve requested the report from my last one to find out about my tissue density, and if it’s low, I might stretch the interval to 18 months or even 2 years. And I’ll hope that in the meantime research does find a way to tell which tumors will kill you, and which will just sit there and mind their own business until you die of something else. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: November 4, 2009 The Second Opinion column on Tuesday, about new findings that raise questions about mammography, omitted part of the affiliation of Dr. Otis Brawley, who said the medical profession had overstated the benefits of cancer screening. He is chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society — not just “the society.”

Chess Training - 2

I asked and Brian answered - LM Brian Wall, whom I first met online many moons ago! Brian seems to be all over the place - he's at Facebook, he's at My Space, he's a chess coach, an author of books teaching people (like me) how to play chess (I did order Learn How to Play Chess Like an Animal cuz I loved the name so much) a dad, a chum, just an all around good guy. We are now engaged in two online chess games so he can assess my skills (ahem). They will be finished in due course. In the meantime, my two games at redhotpawn are going apace. I'm playing with Shira -- that games look to devolve into a shoot-out at the O-K Corral (a/k/a the middle of the board) which WILL commence after my latest move, whew! Things are tense, folks, tense. My second game is - well, I'm not sure, but I think I may have a checkmate in sight. If this turns out to be true, this would be my very first victory at that playing venue, and the first win in a long long long time playing online. We'll see.

Computer Labs for Kids: Update on SOS Childrens Village

Hola! Prior post on Computer Labs for Kids' latest project. Shira has been busy unpacking and assembling the 28 Dell Latitude 2100 notebooks that she will be distributing to children in need during the SOS Childrens Village of Illinois Project! PROJECT COMMENCES NOVEMBER 15, 2009!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Treasure Trove - Scotland!

Updated November 4, 2009 to add this photograph: David Booth: The safari park warden parked his car by field in Stirlingshire and made the find after taking just a few paces. Photo: GETTY. From The November 3, 2009 Iron age gold treasure found in Scotland Metal detector finds 2,000-year-old treasure hoard worth an estimated £1m in field near Stirling A metal-detecting enthusiast has unearthed a 2,000-year-old treasure hoard worth an estimated £1m, it was revealed today. Four gold neckbands dating to the iron age were discovered in a field near Stirling by the amateur hunter. The man, who has not been identified, informed Scotland's Treasure Trove Unit which sent a team to excavate the site, the Daily Record reported. The bands, or "torcs", made from twisted gold, are thought to date from the 1st and 3rd century BC. A similar torc found in Newark, Nottinghamshire, in 2005 sold for £350,000. The Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel will value the latest discovery. A spokesman for the National Museums of Scotland said: "There has been a significant find." Under Scots law, the crown can claim any archaeological objects found in Scotland. Finders have no ownership rights and must report any objects to the treasure trove unit. The man may receive a reward equal to the value of the jewellery. A[n] historian, Fiona Watson, told BBC Radio Scotland: "It belongs to the crown, and the crown – at Her Majesty's discretion – can pay money over to the finder to the market value. I'm sure that is what will happen. "The key question then is what will happen to this remarkable find. Where will it go?"

Another Thracian Tomb with Chariot Discovered

From (Some of the vessels uncovered in the new Thracian tomb by the team of archaeologist Veselin Ignatov near Karanova. Photo by Bulphoto) Bulgarian Archaeologists Find Silver Treasure in Thracian Tomb Archaeology November 3, 2009, Tuesday A team of Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a new tomb of an aristocrat from Ancient Thrace near the southern town of Nova Zagora. The team led by archaeologist Veselin Ignatov found a burial tomb of 12 square meters date back to the end of 1st century and beginning of 2nd century AD. It is located outside of the village of Karanovo. The burial site of the Thracian aristocrat contains a number of interesting items including a silver treasure of vessels and artifacts that were place there to be used by the aristocrat in his afterlife. Those include two silver cups with images of love god Eros, and a number of other ornate silver and bronze vessels. The archaeologists have also found a chariot and fragments of a shield. The expedition called Karanovo 2009-2010 has just started to uncover their new find, and Ignatov expects a lot more valuable items to be discovered. The archaeologists from the Nova Zagora History Museum are going to continue their exploration of the Thracian tomb on the spot even during the coming winter months after a special shelter is built on the site.

Viking Silver Stolen from Archaeological Site

From The Local Island thieves bag Viking treasure Published: 2 Nov 09 17:31 Five hundred Viking era silver artifacts have been plundered from a site of archaeological interest on the Baltic island of Gotland. Two archaeologists employed by Gotland county were dismayed to discover the valuables had vanished when they arrived at a field in Alva in Gotland to follow up on a recent find. "It's just as saddening every time it happens because it's our heritage that disappears," said Majvor Östergren at the Gotland County Administrative Board. The methodical thieves dug some 250 holes in a bid to secure as much booty as possible. Östergren estimated that the impostors had made off with 500 silver pieces worth a combined total of 250,000 to 500,000 kronor ($35,000 to $70,000). Following the raid, the field was placed under police surveillance, enabling archaeologists to continue their excavation work, news website reports. At a press conference on Monday county officials displayed some of the objects overlooked by the thieves, including 100 silver coins, a gold bracteate and a silver crucifix. TT/Paul O'Mahony (

35,000 Year Old "Venus" Figurine

I don't know how I missed - but it seems I did! Better late than never. This is a very important discovery. I found the original article with photo here. Here is the press release from Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubigen: A Venus figurine from the Swabian Jura rewrites prehistory 13 May 2009 Universitaet Tuebingen Under embargo until 13 May 2009 19:00 GMT The 2008 excavations at Hohle Fels Cave in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany recovered a female figurine carved from mammoth ivory from the basal Aurignacian deposit. This figurine, which is the earliest depiction of a human, and one of the oldest known examples of figurative art worldwide, was made at least 35,000 years ago. This discovery radically changes our views of the context and meaning of the earliest Paleolithic art. Between September 5 and 15, 2008 excavators at Hohle Fels near the town of Schelklingen recovered the six fragments of carved ivory that form the Venus. The importance of the discovery became apparent on September 9 when an excavator recovered the main piece of the sculpture that represents the majority of the torso. The figurine lay about 3 meters below the current surface of the cave in an area about 20 meters from the cave’s entrance. The finds come from a single quarter meter and were recovered from within 8 cm in the vertical dimension. The Venus from Hohle Fels is nearly complete with only the left arm and shoulder missing. The excellent preservation and the close stratigraphic association of the pieces of the figurine indicate that the Venus experienced little disturbance after deposition. The figurine originates from a red-brown, clayey silt at the base of about one meter of Aurignacian deposits.The Venus lay in pieces next to a number of limestone blocks with dimension of several decimeters. The find density in the area of the Venus is moderately high with much flint knapping debris, worked bone and ivory, bones of horse, reindeer, cave bear, mammoth, ibex, as well as burnt bone. Radiocarbon dates from this horizon span the entire range from 31,000 – 40,000 years ago. The fact that the venus is overlain by five Aurignacian horizons that contain a dozen stratigraphically intact anthropogenic features with a total thickness of 70 – 120 cm, suggests that figurine is indeed of an age corresponding to the start of the Aurignacian around 40,000 years ago. Although much ivory working debris has been recovered from the basal Aurignacian deposits at Hohle Fels and the nearby site of Geißenklösterle, this sculpture is the first example of figurative art recovered from the basal Aurignacian in Swabia. The discovery of the Venus of Hohle Fels refutes claims that figurative representations and other symbolic artifacts first appear the later phases of the Swabian Aurignacian. The Venus shows a range of entirely unique features as well as a number of characteristics present in later female figurines. The Venus of Hohle Fels lacks a head. Instead an off-centered, but carefully carved ring is located above the broad shoulders of the figurine. This ring, despite being weathered, preserves polish suggesting that the figurine was worn as a pendant. Beneath the shoulders, which are roughly as thick as they are wide, large breasts project forward. The figurine has two short arms with two carefully carved hands with visible fingers resting on the upper part of the stomach below the breasts. The Venus has a short and squat form with a waist that is slightly narrower than the broad shoulders and wide hips. Multiple deeply incised horizontal lines cover the abdomen from the area below the breast to the pubic triangle. Several of these horizontal lines extend to the back of the figurine and are suggestive of clothing or a wrap of some sort. Microscopic images show that these incisions were created by repeatedly cutting along the same lines with sharp stone tools. The legs of the Venus are short and pointy. The buttocks and genitals are depicted in more details. The split between the two halves of the buttocks is deep and continues without interruption to the front of the figurine where the vulva is visible between the open legs. There can be no doubt that the depiction of oversized breast, exentuated buttocks and genetalia result from the deliberate exaggeration of the sexual features of the figurine. In addition to the many carefully depicted anatomical features, the surface of the Venus preserves numerous lines and deliberate markings. Many of the features, including the emphasis on sexual attributes and lack of emphasis on the head, face and arms and legs, call to mind aspects of the numerous Venus figurines well known from the European Gravettien, which typically date between 22 and 27 ka BP. The careful depiction of the hands is reminiscent of those of Venuses including that of archetypal Venus of Willendorf, which was discovered 100 years earlier in summer of 1908. Despite the far greater age of the Venus of Hohle Fels, many of its attributes occur in various forms throughout the rich tradition of Paleolithic female representations. The new figurine from Hohle Fels radically changes our view of origins of Paleolithic art. Prior to this discovery, animals and therianthropic imagry dominated the over two dozen figurines from the Swabian Aurignacian. Female imagry was entirely unknown. With this discovery, the notion that three dimensional female imagry developed in the Gravettian can be rejected. Also the interpretations suggesting that strong, aggressive animals or shamanic depictions dominate the Aurignacian art of Swabia, or even Europe as a whole, need to be reconsidered. Although there is a long history of debate over the meaning of Paleolithic Venuses, their clear sexual attributes suggest that they are a direct or indirect expression of fertility. The Venus of Hohle Fels provides an entirely new view of the art from the early Upper Paleolithic and reinforces the arguments that have been made for innovative cultural manifestations accompanying the rise of the Swabian Aurignacian. While many researchers, including Nicholas Conard, assume that the Aurignacian artworks were made by early modern humans shortly after their migration into Europe, this assumption can neither be confirmed or refuted based on the available skeletal data from the Swabian caves. The Venus of Hohle Fels forms a center piece for a major exhibit in Stuttgart entitled Ice Age Art and Culture, which will run from September 18, 2009 – January 10, 2010. The author of the paper: A female figurine from the basal Aurignacian deposits of Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany is Nicholas J. Conard. Full bibliographic information Nature, Vol. 459, Nr. 7244

Monday, November 2, 2009

Major Astronomical Sites Discovered in Utah

Ohio Wesleyan art professor uncovers celestial connection in desert Southwest Sunday, November 1, 2009 3:40 AM By Doug Caruso THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH Jim Krehbiel was up past midnight making a piece of art by layering maps and field notes onto photos he had taken of an ancient ritual site high on a cliff ledge in the desert Southwest. He looked at the image of the kiva and remembered how the ruins were nearly inaccessible. Krehbiel had to lower himself on a rope to reach them. Why, he wondered that night in the fall of 2007, would anyone build something so important in such a remote spot among the canyons and mesas? It was then that the chairman of Ohio Wesleyan University's art department found himself at the conjunction of archaeology and astronomy. Perhaps, he thought, the site was an observatory; a place to help religious leaders keep track of the solstices, time rituals and plantings. "Their world around them is absolute, total chaos," Krehbiel said. "They were really at the mercy of the elements. "So where do they go for something that's predictable, that remains the same, that you can count on: The sky and the relationship of those things on the horizon." A discussion with Barbara Andereck, a professor of astronomy and physics at Ohio Wesleyan, put Krehbiel on a path that would help him test his ideas about the remote kivas he visited each summer. Krehbiel was stepping into archeo-astronomy, the study of the ways ancient cultures tracked the sky's movements. The science has been gaining acceptance as a branch of archaeology since the 1970s. England's Stonehenge, for example, is well known for its alignments with astronomical phenomena. In Ohio, archaeologists agree that ancient mound builders lined up some works with the movements of the sun and the moon. In the Southwest, the most famous site is the Chaco Sun Dagger. The sun and moon shine through the spaces between slabs of rock to make slashes of light on a spiral carving in conjunction with the solstices and the movements of the moon. But no one had identified such alignments at hundreds of remote ruins that dot the canyons of southeastern Utah. Rest of article.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Waldseemuller Map Back in the News

From BBC News Magazine Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009 The map that changed the world [Annotations on the map graphic: 1) First use of America on map, after explorer Amerigo Vespucci. 2) The Pacific not confirmed until six years after map made. 3) Old World shown as the ancients saw it. 4) New eastern sea route to India. 5) The legendary island of Taprobane. 6) Reference to legendary king Prester John.] Drawn half a millennium ago and then swiftly forgotten, one map made us see the world as we know it today... and helped name America. But, as Toby Lester has discovered, the most powerful nation on earth also owes its name to a pun. Almost exactly 500 years ago, in 1507, Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann, two obscure Germanic scholars based in the mountains of eastern France, made one of the boldest leaps in the history of geographical thought - and indeed in the larger history of ideas. Near the end of an otherwise plodding treatise titled Introduction to Cosmography, they announced to their readers the astonishing news that the world did not just consist of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the three parts of the world known since antiquity. A previously unknown fourth part of the world had recently been discovered, they declared, by the Italian merchant Amerigo Vespucci, and in his honour they had decided to give it a name: America. But that was just the beginning. Waldseemuller and Ringman in fact had written the Introduction to Cosmography merely as a companion volume to their magnum opus: a giant and revolutionary new map of the world. It's known today as the Waldseemuller map of 1507. The Waldseemuller map was - and still is - an astonishing sight to behold. Drawn 15 years after Columbus first sailed across the Atlantic, and measuring a remarkable 8ft wide by 4½ft high, it introduced Europeans to a fundamentally new understanding of the make-up of the earth. The map represented a remarkable number of historical firsts. In addition to giving America its name, it was also the first map to portray the New World as a separate continent - even though Columbus, Vespucci, and other early explorers would all insist until their dying day that they had reached the far-eastern limits of Asia. The map was the first to suggest the existence of what explorer Ferdinand Magellan would later call the Pacific Ocean, a mysterious decision, in that Europeans, according to the standard history of New World discovery, aren't supposed to have learned about the Pacific until several years later. World of four parts The map was one of the first documents to reveal the full extent of Africa's coastline, which had only very recently been circumnavigated by the Portuguese. Perhaps most significant, it was also one of the first maps to lay out a vision of the world using a full 360 degrees of longitude. In short, it was the the mother of all modern maps: the first document to depict the world roughly as we know it today. In the years after 1507, copies of the Waldseemuller map began turning up at universities all over central Europe. There, displayed in classrooms and discussed by geographers and travellers alike, its vision of a four-part world insinuated itself into the popular imagination. Waldseemuller himself would later record that 1,000 copies of the map had been printed, a very substantial number for the day. But the rapid pace of geographical discovery meant that copies of the map were soon discarded in favour of newer, more up-to-date pictures of the world, and by 1570 it had all but vanished from memory. When the map maker Abraham Ortelius that year published a comprehensive list of his cartographical predecessors and their maps, he mentioned Waldseemuller but made no reference to the great 1507 map. Last surviving copy Fortunately, one copy did survive. Sometime between 1515 and 1517, the Nuremburg mathematician Johannes Schoner acquired a reprint of the map, bound it into an oversized folio, and made it part of his reference library. In the years immediately afterward, Schoner studied the map carefully, but as the decades wore on, as newer maps became available, and as his own interests shifted from geography to astronomy, he consulted the folio less and less. By the time he died, in 1545, he probably hadn't opened it in years. The last remaining copy of the Waldseemuller map, beautifully preserved in Schoner's folio, had begun a long slumber - and wouldn't be roused again for some 350 years. As is so often the case with historical treasures, the map was rediscovered by accident. In the summer of 1901, while doing research in the library of Wolfegg Castle, in southern Germany, a Jesuit geography teacher named Joseph Fischer stumbled across the Schoner folio and quickly realized what he had found. Within months his discovery was international news. "LONG SOUGHT MAP DISCOVERED," a New York Times headline announced in March of 1902. "EARLIEST KNOWN RECORD OF THE WORD AMERICA FINALLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT." The map remained in the Wolfegg collection for the next hundred years - until 2003, when the US Library of Congress announced, with great fanfare, that it had acquired the map from the castle's owner for the staggering sum of $10m. It was the highest price the library had ever paid for anything in its vast collection. Proudly, in its press release the library referred to the map as America's "birth certificate". Value for money? Was it worth the price? Some observers grumbled that it was not. But now that the map is on public display at the library, scholars and generalists alike have been looking at it with fresh eyes—and what is coming into focus is a document that is far richer, far stranger, and much more historically valuable than had previously been imagined. The map turns out to be an enormously revealing patchwork of several different kinds of maps: the world as depicted by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as diagrammed by Europe's Christian theologians, and as charted by the sailors who plied the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. There's more. The name America, for example, very probably represents not just a tip of the hat to Amerigo Vespucci but also a multilingual pun that can mean both "born new" and "no-place-land" - a playful coinage that seems to have inspired Sir Thomas More to invent his new world across the ocean, one meaning of which was also "no-place": Utopia. The map itself seems also to have made a powerful impression on none other than Nicholas Copernicus, who began his landmark On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by describing America as he saw it depicted on the map, and who then went on to argue that the existence of a fourth part of the world meant that the traditional model not only of the earth but also the cosmos would have to be rethought. For the only surviving copy of the map that not only gave America its name and introduced the New World to Europe but also helped Copernicus rethink the cosmos, $10m seems a very reasonable price to pay.
Another article at The Boston Globe: A new world The saga of the 16th-century map that gave America its name and paved the way for a modern view of the cosmos By Michael Washburn Globe Correspondent / November 1, 2009

Bank Vault Hides Treasures of a Bankrupt

Updated: 10:52 PM Oct 27, 2009 Ancient Artifacts Found In A Lincoln Bank Lincoln One man, down on his luck, is finally getting a break. The man, who owned an antique and collectibles shop in Lincoln, went bankrupt years ago. He has been struggling financially ever since. But his situation could be looking up, thanks to an unusual find. Posted: 6:55 PM Oct 27, 2009 Reporter: Erika Tallan The Nebraska State Treasurer's office stumbled upon unclaimed property that was turned over to them from a Wells Fargo Bank. According to State Treasurer, Shane Osborn, the property was sitting in a safe deposit box for nearly 7 years. What's unusual, is that the collection consists of ancient artifacts ranging back to 2500 b.c., including an Egyptian Pharaoh mask, Roman and Greek pottery, Phoenician daggers and African spears. Osborn said a research specialist tracked down the owner of all the items. The researcher found the 65-year-old man living in a hotel in Oregon and getting by on food stamps. Turns out, the man owned an antiques and collectibles business in Lincoln but he went bankrupt. When the man became bankrupt, he thought the bank re-possessed his collection. The State Treasurers Office won't release the identity of the man because they are concerned for his welfare as he'll soon be worth more than a $200,000. "That's why we always tell people, keep looking cause this gets turned over to us all the time, not always something this cool, but we get stuff turned over to us all the time," said Shane Osborn, Nebraska State Treasurer. The office is shipping the property to an undisclosed location in Oregon Tuesday.
Interesting. I wonder if the Trustee in the original bankruptcy read the same article. He or she might want to investigate whether there was some fraud here...

Destruction of Persian Cultural Sites Continues

I believe the Islamic regime in control of Iran at the moment has speeded up their program of destruction of historical Persian sites since the unrest resulting from the rigged Presidential election earlier this year. It is part of the Revolutionary Guard's systemic program of erasing all things pre-Islamic while exerting their control. Here is the latest: From Payvand Iran News 10/28/09 Sassanid site bulldozed in southwestern Iran TEHRAN, Oct. 28 (Mehr News Agency) -- Part of a Sassanid tepe was destroyed last week near Ahvaz, the provincial capital of Khuzestan. The destruction was carried out by the Mehrab Housing Company for construction of a high-rise apartment complex, Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Taryana) announced on Monday. No permission had been granted by the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) for the housing company at the site, Taryana spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni said. [And yet the work went ahead anyway. Does anyone want to bet if the culprits will be brought to justice? Don't hold your breath!] The mound, which covers an area of 10 hectares, had already been damaged by a road construction project, installation of telecommunication poles, other housing projects and establishment of a bazaar, he added. Last April, KCHTHD's experts visited the tepe to convince Iranian officials to register it on the National Heritage List and to take action for the security of the site. However, so far, no decision has been reached by the KCHTHD for safeguarding the mound. Experts had observed ancient bricks, shards, and pieces of glassware scattered about near the construction projects underway at the site. Some archaeologists who have already visited the mound, believe that beneath the tepe, the ruins of a Sassanid city are buried, Gahestuni said.
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