Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wow - Milwaukee One of America's Five Most Underrated Cities

It's an okay photo in the article but I think they might have done better! It might have shown a view of the Calatrava/War Memorial Center and our gorgeous lake front, for instance.

Milwaukee has many positives to attract people, including a still low crime rate (relative to other cities both smaller and larger), one of the best still-intact although sadly underfunded public park systems in the United States, Lake Michigan and its still pristine waters, and unique still intact ethnic neighborhoods.  We also have a first class state-funded university system (University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and dozens of local campuses around the state), as well as many notable private universities, including the Jesuit-run Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch College, the innovative Alverno College, as well as Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.  We are also the City of Festivals!  Milwaukee hosts the largest music festival in the world - Summerfest, at the Maier Festival Grounds along Lake Michigan's shore, just south of "downtown" Milwaukee.  Summerfest was the baby of our last great mayor, Henry W. Maier.  He envisioned a city of  "flags, fountains and festivals."  Some buildings downtown continue to fly their flags today, but most of the fountains were closed down due to funding cuts over the years.  However, the festivals idea took root and grew, grew, and grew!  Today, in addition to the "Big Gig" (Summerfest), we have a whole summer and autumn full of ethnic festivals on the lake front, each with its own unique attractions.  2011 Festival Calendar - Milwaukee

As you know, though, I find the climate increasingly wearisome as I get older.  Global climate change has definitely increased our days of uncomfortable humidity (high dew points) and high temperatures in the summer, the severity of alternating droughts and deluges, more tornados and severe weather, and more extremes in winter weather.  But when it's below 60 dew point in the summer, it's beautiful!  And I don't recall a 60 below zero windchill since the mid 90's.  Thank Goddess!

America's Five Most Underrated Cities
By Jason Notte , The Street
July 12, 2011

Population in 2000: 596,974
Population in 2010: 594,833
Decline: 0.4%

Despite a smaller population, the typical denizen is younger.
Photo: Beige Alert

Milwaukee's been losing population since the 1960s, but the release valve's shutting quickly as the losses trickle to less than a percent -- the best population news Milwaukee's received since the city grew 16.3% during the 1950s -- and the city gets younger.

You don't have to set foot in the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum, place a complicated order at Alterra Coffee, buy rounds of organic and gluten-free beer at Lakefront Brewery or see the city's starring role in Bridesmaids to realize that Milwaukee's changed quite a bit in the past decade. Those may, however, be some of the best indications of the city's youth movement that dropped the median age from 30.6 in 2000 to 30.3 last year, well below the nation's average age of 36.8.

As a result, the town once known for dying breweries and Happy Days reruns is ending up in some fairly enviable places, including the Daily Beast's list of the Best 50 Cities For Love and No. 9 on Forbes' list of Best Cities for Singles. A city rivaled only by Las Vegas for most bars, clubs and restaurants per capita, Milwaukee's GDP has grown enough to keep the taps flowing with a boost from $78.9 billion in 2006 to roughly $83 billion today behind growing companies such as Manpower and a reduced dependency on traditional employers such as MolsonCoors' Miller.

Though the Brewers aren't blowing the retractable roof off Miller Park and the Bucks have teams fearing the deer a little less in recent seasons, a Super Bowl win by a certain team in the suburbs [Green Bay is NOT a suburb of Milwaukee!] is enough to give local fans something to cheer about. With all the museums, galleries, music venues and watering holes to visit, however, it's tough to fit the local teams into the schedule.

Now here are some gorgeous photos of Milwaukee:

Milwaukee Photos
This photo of Milwaukee is courtesy of TripAdvisor - this is part of Juneau Park lagoon.
Juneau Park slopes from the high bluff area along Prospect Avenue down to the lake shore
and, as you can see, offers views of densely wooded slopes and views of downtown.

This is a lovely photo looking north from part of the Third Ward, along the Milwaukee River, toward downtown.
The Third Ward, formerly a manufacturing/commercial district, has many buildings converted over the years
into "industrial-type" condos within walking distance of downtown, our fabulous lakefront, and of course, access
to the Milwaukee River.  Photo credit.

Cleo is Coming to Milwaukee!

Not so long ago, the Milwaukee Public Museum was on the brink of bankruptcy, after a prior Chief Financial Officer (or whatever his title was), used ENDOWMENT funds to shore up his loser ideas without the permission or knowledge of the Board, depleting the Endowment as well as leaving the museum several million dollars in the hole -- well, it was a huge scandal and involved all kinds of recriminations and a law suit or two. 
Those were dark days.  There were horrifying reports in the press of parts of the MPM collection possibly being sold off to pay creditors, and even reports of shutting down MPM permanently and selling off its entire collection of artefacts!  After months of nothing but bad news and seemingly endless new scandalous revelations of the malfeasance of the people who had run MPM, an institution dating back nearly as far as the founding of the city of Milwaukee, a deal was worked out with the museum's creditors and Milwaukee County chipped in some funds and a financial guarantee, that allowed MPM to obtain refinancing of its debt and interim financing to run a bare-bones operation until it, hopefully, could get back on its financial feet. 

Many long-term employees, people who had dedicated their lives to MPM and spent their entire careers there as curators, artists and assistants, were fired due to massive cut-backs in operating funds.  A former county executive of Waukesha County, Dan Findley, was brought onboard to run the Museum.  Findley wasn't an academic; he was a politician and administrator used to making tough decisions and he brought those skills to the fore in helping bring MPM out of the darkness. A whole host of behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in Milwaukee and environs came together to save the museum.  Read one account.  They, together with Findley and a new fund-raising team put in place literally saved the MPM from a Titanic-like fate!  Kudos to them.  Milwaukee was spared the ignominy of having to auction off the contents of its 150 year old natural history museum and sinking into the ranks of disdained poop-noodle town.

Findley has since moved on but not before bringing several block-buster exhibits to the MPM that helped turn it around financially as well as attracting huge attendance, breaking records, and putting MPM back on the map of world-class museums. 

Recent blockbuster exhibits have included the Titanic artifacts, Bodyworks, Pearls, and Mummies of the World. 

And now, Cleo is coming to town!  Too bad the tickets are so expensive.  When Mr. Don and I attended the incredible record-breaking exhibit "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt" in 2004, the tickets were priced almost 50% less, and the exhibit was coordinated with Egypt-oriented films at the IMAX Theatre and a lecture series featuring notables such as Emily Teeter from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.  I fear the high ticket-prices will cut down on attendance.  The ongoing Great Recession has hit Milwaukee and surrounding areas hard.  Milwaukeeans are known to be frugal with their money in the best of times!  Not even one discount day a week - or a month - available to county residents?  What are they thinking?

Reported at JSOnline:

Big Cleopatra exhibit to rule at Milwaukee Public Museum
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel
July 12, 2011

Merely entitled "Statue of a Queen."
Could this be the last Queen of Egypt?
The legend of history's most famous temptress sweeps into Milwaukee Oct. 14, when the Milwaukee Public Museum hosts a new international exhibition: "Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt."

The traveling exhibit will feature 150 artifacts associated with the famed Cleopatra VII, the queen who lived from 69 B.C. to 30 B.C. and earned a permanent place in history by becoming the lover of two Roman leaders: Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

All the artifacts in "The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" are on exhibit in the United States for the first time, and the Milwaukee stop will be the show's last in the U.S. before going overseas. More than a half-million visitors saw "Cleopatra" in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, according to John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International, the show's producing company.

Visitors to the exhibit will be transported to Cleopatra's Egypt through a series of galleries displaying golden jewelry, ancient tools and armor, religious relics, statues and everyday items.

Artifacts include two 16-foot-tall, 5-ton stone statues of a pharaoh and his queen that once flanked the entrance to an ancient temple. An original papyrus document in the show is thought to have been handwritten by Cleopatra.

Many of the artifacts were recently discovered on land and underwater during two ongoing expeditions led by Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, who is known to American audiences from his appearances in such TV documentaries as "Chasing Mummies."

Some of the items were uncovered during Hawass' current search for Cleopatra's tomb near Alexandria.

French archaeologist Franck Goddio recovered many of the items during extensive underwater expeditions that uncovered Cleopatra's royal palace.

Part of the exhibit will give visitors a sense of experiencing underwater archaeology through theatrical lighting and sound effects.

"We get to tell an ancient story through modern technology," Norman said.

The show looks at the queen's legend - did she actually die of an asp bite? - and explores her image in pop culture from Shakespeare to Liz Taylor. The exhibit also tackles one of history's enduring questions: "Was Cleopatra really the sexiest woman who ever lived?"

"A short video at the beginning of the exhibit will give everyone enough information to enter Cleopatra's world, and, yes, we'll cover all her love interests," Norman said.

The exhibit's free audio tour is delivered by a voice representing "Cleo" herself. "We had a voice talent with a Greek accent portraying Cleopatra on the audio. Cleopatra was actually of Greek heritage and we wanted to be authentic," Norman said.

The exhibit also will examine just why this queen lost her throne.

"Cleopatra is one of the most enigmatic figures in history, and this exhibition does a wonderful job of exploring who she really was, and depicting the political upheaval that shaped her life," said Jay Williams, Milwaukee Public Museum president.

Tickets for the exhibit go on sale starting Tuesday online at or at (414) 223-4676 or (888) 700-9069.

Ticket prices for adults are $27.50 Mondays through Thursdays and $29.50 Fridays through Sundays; for seniors (60 and older), students and teens (13-17), $23.50 Mondays through Thursdays and $25.50 Fridays through Sundays; for children (3 to 12 years old), $19 Mondays through Thursdays, $20 Fridays through Sundays.

"Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" was organized by the National Geographic Society and Arts and Exhibitions International in cooperation with the Supreme Council and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology.

The exhibit's presenting sponsor is M&I Bank, now part of BMO Financial Group.

A Teen Making a Difference

[July 15, 2011]

Teenager's initiative helps female students look towards better future

AMMAN, Jul 15, 2011 (Jordan Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A science camp initiated by a teenager is helping talented female students from the underprivileged neighbourhood of Jabal Al Natheef to realise their full potentials so they can access university scholarships.

Yara Sifri, a 17-year-old student from Massachusetts, managed to raise around JD20,000 through sponsorships by institutions and individuals to turn her idea into reality by holding a two-week SciGirls summer camp for these girls.

According to Ruba Abu Yasin, public relations manager at the Jubilee School, where the camp is being held, 44 girls between the ages of 12 and 15 from the east Amman district attend the camp six days a week to study maths, chess, electronics and robotics as well as sports and art classes.

Sifri explained to The Jordan Times that the girls selected for the camp achieved the highest grades in science subjects in their schools in Jabal Al Natheef, one of Amman's most densely populated neighbourhoods.

Sifri said she goes to the camp, which started July 6 and concludes July 17, to check on the needs of the girls and plan their daily activities.

Three teenage volunteers are helping Sifri, who said she needed the support and expertise of voluntary groups who had worked in the area to convince parents to let their daughters join SciGirls.

The Arab Foundation for Sustainable Development (Ruwwad), a group of social workers and businesspeople, has a well established relationship with Jabal Al Natheef residents through its own volunteer work in the neighbourhood over the past five years.

Sifri, a Canadian American who comes to Jordan every summer to spend her holiday with her grandparents in Amman, said she worked with Ruwwad to convince conservative parents and select the participants.

"Students who continue to achieve high grades in science topics and who can attend the camp and stay with the robotics team for three consecutive years, will get the chance to compete for a full scholarship at the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut," she remarked.

"Attending this camp gave us the opportunity to learn new things and made us determined to do well in school," one participant told The Jordan Times.

Maram Halayqa, media and communications officer at the Jubilee School, noted that the camp has motivated the girls and inspired hope among parents and the entire community that their daughters can benefit from Sifri's initiative.

Chess Femme News!

GM Judit Polgar (HUN 2699) is the lone female playing amid the teams participating in the Yinzhou Cup 2011 World ChessTeam Championship (July 17 - 26, 2011).  She's on the Hungarian team:

6. Hungary (RtgAvg:2696 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMLeko Peter2717HUN0.0
2GMAlmasi Zoltan2726HUN0.0
3GMPolgar Judit2699HUN0.0
4GMBalogh Csaba2643HUN0.0
5GMErdos Victor2613HUN0.0

The US has fielded a team:

1. USA (RtgAvg:2667 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
1GMKamsky Gata2741USA0.0
2GMOnischuk Alexander2675USA0.0
3GMShulman Yuri2617USA0.0
4GMSeirawan Yasser2635USA0.0
5GMHess Robert2609USA0.0

The competitive fires evidently are still burning in GM Yasser Seirawan.  Good to see him back but after his not too good performance at the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship, I'm surprised, frankly!  How is he going to compete against the Chinese players who almost always seem to be under-rated relative to their actual level of skill/talent - or all those over 2700 Eastern Europeans and the Russians? 


Meanwhile, here's a tournament that's called a "European Team Championship" - but notice the lack of teams from England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc etc. etc.:

European Youth Team Championship - Girls U18
July 15 - 21, 2011
Iasi, Romania
Website (English translated)

Standings after R3:
Rk.Team12345678TB1 TB2 TB3
1HUNGARY 1* 243.52.50
2ROMANIA 1* 43.02.50
3SLOVENIA* 132.52.00
4BULGARIA1* 122.01.75
5ROMANIA 2½* 111.50.75
POLAND½1* 11.50.75
7HUNGARY 201* 11.01.00
8ROMANIA 3½½* 01.00.00

The team composition is small (mininum of 2 players) and except for one of the Foisor sisters playing on Romania 1, I'm not familiar with any of these players:
1. ROMANIA 1 (RtgAvg:2255 / TB1: 4 / TB2: 3)
1WIMBulmaga Irina2293ROU1.02.0
2WFMFoisor Mihaela-Veronica2217ROU2.02.0
2. ROMANIA 2 (RtgAvg:1899 / TB1: 1 / TB2: 1.5)
1WFMVisanescu Daria-Ioana1976ROU1.52.0
2Vasilescu Maria1822ROU0.02.0
3. HUNGARY 1 (RtgAvg:2207 / TB1: 4 / TB2: 3.5)
1WIMPapp Petra2261HUN2.02.0
2Varga Melinda2152HUN1.52.0
4. BULGARIA (RtgAvg:1923 / TB1: 2 / TB2: 2)
1Krumova Ani1961BUL0.52.0
2Dragieva Denitza1885BUL1.52.0
5. SLOVENIA (RtgAvg:1921 / TB1: 3 / TB2: 2.5)
1Kolaric Spela2045SLO1.52.0
2Vidic Teja1797SLO1.02.0
6. HUNGARY 2 (RtgAvg:2154 / TB1: 1 / TB2: 1)
1WIMVarga Klara2161HUN1.02.0
2WFMKabai Zsuzsanna2146HUN0.02.0
7. POLAND (RtgAvg:2105 / TB1: 1 / TB2: 1.5)
1WFMAdamowicz Katarzyna2106POL0.02.0
2Gluszko Monika2103POL1.52.0
8. ROMANIA 3 (RtgAvg:1955 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 1)
1Gelip Ioana1989ROU0.52.0
2Morea Georgiana-Steluta1921ROU0.01.0
3Anton Roxana-Ana1836ROU0.51.0


The Andorra Open begins July 16 (through the 24) and always attracts a large field.  The highest rated female player this year is IM Tania Sachdev (IND 2419) who comes in as the 24th ranked player.  Most of the chess femmes fall into the lower ranked players, among them Maya Porat (ISR 2274), ranked 37th on the player list, Adina-Maria Hamdouchi (FRA 2266), ranked 39th (153 registered players).

I'll be watching Sachdev's performance, hoping for a break-out.  She seems to have hit a plateau.

2011 Women Grandmaster Chess Tournament

Taking place in China (don't know what city) between July 14 - 23, 2011.  It's an interesting mix of players, including USA's IM Anna Zatonskih.  Here are the standings after:

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts.TB1 TB2 TB3
1WGMJu WenjunCHN25152.50.022.25
2GMHou YifanCHN25752.00.012.50
3GMZhao XueCHN24702.00.012.00
GMKosintseva NadezhdaRUS25602.00.012.00
5GMSebag MarieFRA25101.50.011.50
6IMHarika DronavalliIND25131.50.003.00
7GMKosintseva TatianaRUS25571.50.002.75
8IMZatonskih AnnaUSA25221.00.001.00
9GMDzagnidze NanaGEO25370.50.001.00
10GMZhu ChenQAT24850.50.000.50

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Mother of God" Making Miracles Near Green Bay, Wisconsin USA

Holy Cow!  I don't know how I missed this story - but here it is - from December, 2010!  That Mother of God, she's here, she's there, she's everywhere, just like the Scarlet Pimpernel!

Virgin Mary apparitions near Green Bay shrine recognized as first in U.S.

Approval puts Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in same category as Lourdes, Guadalupe and Fatima
9:53 AM, Dec. 9, 2010

A shrine in the town of Green Bay is one of only a handful in the world — and the sole location in the United States — officially designated as a place where the Virgin Mary appeared.

David Ricken, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, announced today his official approval of the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

Ricken’s decision makes the shrine the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Virgin Mary. The designation puts it in the same category as other famous Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.

According to the diocese, the Virgin Mary appeared in the area to Belgian immigrant Adele Brise three times in 1859.

Brise’s account states the apparition appeared in dazzling white claiming to be the “Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners” and asking Brise to also pray for sinners and teach children about salvation. Adele’s father built a chapel at the site of the apparitions soon after. The current chapel, which is the fourth one built in the location, was dedicated on July 12, 1942.

Now, a local family says the Virgin may have cured their young son of leukemia after they visited the shrine and little Joe asked to be made better! Link.   Not sure if that link works - here is one from ABC News' Prime Time Nightline on July 13, 2011 where little Joe Anderson's miracle was discussed in the context of an examination of the now Holy Site. 

A Horse of a Different Color

Just getting around to this now - Mr. Don sent this to me on July 4th.  He discovered it on one of his biking excursions around Old Montreal, in an area near where the carriage horses are kept.  Love it!  Whoever the artist was who put this together - clever, clever, clever!

2011 Montreal Open Chess Championships

The Championnat will be held in beautiful Montreal, Quebec September 9 - 11, 2011.  This is our third year of sponsorship for the venerable event!  Information (in English).  More information and a short video showing off the beautiful playing venue and opening action from the 2010 Championnat. 

It is a pleasure to work with the organizers of this great event.  Since our initial involvement (2009) they have demonstrated a constant dedication and fervor to making each year's Championnat the best it can be.  Indeed, planning for the next Championnat begins almost immediately after the conclusion of the last!

This year, Section A action is FIDE rated! The playing venue is once again the beautiful hall at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, 3200 Chemin de la Côte Ste-Catherine (on the campus of the University of Montreal).  The guaranteed prize fund has been increased to $6000 (Canadian) this year.  What's not to love?
Alina L'Ami at Barbera del Valles 2011
This year Goddesschess is again providing class prizes for female chess players in the B, C and D section and we are very pleased to sponsor the appearance of WGM Alina L'Ami (ROM 2312), who will be competing in the A Section! 

Among Alina's chessly accomplishments:

World Champion under 10 (in Brazil, 1995)
European Champion under 18 (in Spain, 2003)
Balkan Women Champion (in Turkey, 2003)

You can find out more about Alina at her website. She is married to GM Erwin L'Ami of the Netherlands.

Alina recently competed in and finished first in the Women's section of the CUCA International in Luanda, Angola.  Talk about an exotic location!  More about it in this Chessbase article.  Alina just finished a fine performance in the Barbera del Valles International Open (Group A) (July 4 - 12, 2011), in Spain, in 10th place overall with 6.0/9 and the top finishing female player.  Alina did a report on this event for Chessbase. 

Some of her chess gamesAlina at Facebook

Please join us in celebrating the 91st Montreal Open Chess Championships!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Youngest Yet Female IM

Story at Caspio Net

July 13, 2011
11-year old Kazakh chess player becomes international master

A three-time world chess champion, Zhansaya Abdumalik, has become an international master. The ambitious girl won a world championship, which was held in Poland, for the third time. She recently won an international tournament in Indonesia among girls under 20 years of age as well, which allowed her to obtain the title of International Master and increase her ranking.

Zhansaya Abdumalik, Three-Times World Chess Champion
«I’m closer to the international grandmaster title now, which is my goal. My opponents are intimidated by me. Children often look at the ranking and your title. Some girls have a stomach ache or a headache. So they give up and just leave.»

The Kazakh chess princess can get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest grandmaster, beating the result of a girl from Egypt, who became an international master at the age of 11 years and 7 months. Zhansaya has a 2-month lead over her. The Kazakh-British Technical University awarded the 11-year old champion an educational grant thanks to which Zhansaya will be able to study at KBTU after school. The university will also sponsor the chess player’s trips to tournaments. Zhansaya dreams of becoming a grandmaster at the age of 12. The girl will soon return to the Singapore Chess Academy, where she received an annual educational grant, and in November she will take part in the World Youth Chess Championship in Brazil.
About those championship titles:

As far as I gathered from her FIDE record, she won:

Under 11 Girls title in the 2010 (6th) World School Chess Championships (July, 2010), by coming in first place with 4.0/4 in a field of 12 players -- not sure how that played out since she only faced 4 opponents.  Anyway, you can find the information here

I can't find any record that she won two other world champion titles.  Also, I was always under the impression that to be an IM, one had to have an ELO (rating) of at least 2400?  Zhansaya's current ELO is 2030.  So - remains to be see if the facts listed in this article can be substantiated.  But congratulations to the young lady!  She has a plan, she has talent, she's not afraid of mixing it up with the boys OTB -- if she can get training and backing, who knows?

Treasure Trove!

Gold gold gold!  I love discovered treasure trove stories! From the BBC:

8 July 2011 Last updated at 11:01 ET
Gold hoard found in French cellar

A French couple have found a hoard of gold coins worth at least 100,000 euros (£89,000; $140,000) in the cellar of their home in the town of Millau.

They were working on their drains when they dug up the 34 coins in a little clay pot, French media said.

The coins date from 1595 to the French Revolution, which began in 1789, said a local coin expert who evaluated them.

The most valuable is a double louis from 1640, during the reign of Louis XIII, worth 6,500 euros.

The coin expert, Marc Aigouy, told AFP news agency that he offered either to buy the coins from the couple or to organise an auction on their behalf.

He said if American and Japanese buyers participated, the coins could fetch at least 100,000 euros.

Mr Aigouy said the couple wish to remain anonymous but they live on rue Droite, an old Roman road which is the oldest street in Millau, in southern France.

Under French law, the couple are allowed to keep the treasure because it was found on their own property, Mr Aigouy said.

Southwest Chess Club's Championship!

It's that time of year again - the club championshp is here!

Joe Crothers Memorial – Southwest Chess Club Championship
July 14, 21, 28, August 4, 11 & 18

6-Round Swiss in One Section. Game/100. USCF Rated.

(Set clocks to Game/100, with 5-second delay).
Entry Fee: $7.00 (must be a member to participate). SWCC Membership required (only $5 for remainder of year 2011; can join when registering. Club membership is free to full-time students and seniors over age 64).

Two ½ point byes available in rounds 1 through 5 if requested at least 2-days in advance; no ½ point byes byes available for round 6.
TD is Allen Becker
Assisted by Tom Fogec and Robin Grochowski.

You can follow the action at my adopted Club's blog

'Americanisms' Invade Great Britain!

I had no idea what this article was about until I started reading it -- it's about the English language, darlings!  Our beautiful, incredible, ever-changing, growing language.  There are distinct difference between the Queen's English and American Anglash.  LOL! 

From BBC News
13 July 2011 Last updated at 06:41 ET
Why do some Americanisms irritate people?

British people are used to the stream of Americanisms entering the language. But some are worse than others, argues Matthew Engel.

I have had a lengthy career in journalism. I hope that's because editors have found me reliable. I have worked with many talented colleagues. Sometimes I get invited to parties and meet influential people. Overall, I've had a tremendous time.

Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.

All of these words we use without a second thought were never part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.

The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time.

The poet Coleridge denounced "talented" as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described "reliable" as vile.

My grandfather came to London on the outbreak of World War I and never lost his mid-European accent. His descendants have blended into the landscape. That's what happens with immigration. It's the same with vocabulary migration.

The French have always hated this process with a very Gallic passion, and their most august body L'Academie Francaise issues regular rulings on the avoidance of imported words. English isn't like that. It is a far more flexible language. Anarchic even.

That's part of the secret of its success. It has triumphed where Latin, French and the artificial language of Esperanto all ultimately failed, and become the natural medium of global communication. This is the version of English sometimes known as "Globish".

To use it requires only a rudimentary knowledge of grammar and, so it is said, a vocabulary of a mere 1,500 words.

But what the world is speaking - even on levels more sophisticated than basic Globish - is not necessarily our English. According to the Oxford Guide to World English, "American English has a global role at the beginning of the 21st Century comparable to that of British English at the start of the 20th".

The alarming part is that this is starting to show in the language we speak in Britain. American usages no longer swim to our shores as single spies, as "reliable" and "talented" did. They come in battalions.

In the 1930s, the talkies took hold and represented the first overwhelming manifestation of American cultural power. This was reinforced in the 1940s by the presence of large numbers of US servicemen in Britain and the 1950s marked the heyday of the western.

There may have been a brief pushback after that, in the era of Swinging London, as Bill Haley and Elvis faded, and the Beatles and Stones conquered the world, along with words like "fab" and "groovy". In the years since, however, the movement seems to have become overwhelming, unstoppable and almost wholly one way, with the exception of Harry Potter.

American culture is ubiquitous in Britain on TV and the web. As our computers talk to us in American, I keep having to agree to a license spelt with an s. I am invited to print something in color without the u. I am told "you ghat mail". It is, of course, always e-mail - never our own more natural usage, e-post.

As an ex-American resident, I remain a big fan of baseball. But I sit over here and listen to people who know nothing of the games talk about ideas coming out of "left field". They speak about "three strikes and you're out" or stepping up to the plate" without the foggiest idea what these phrases mean. I think the country has started to lose its own sense of itself.

In many respects, English and American are not coming together. When it comes to new technology, we often go our separate ways. They have cellphones - we have mobiles. We go to cash points or cash machines - they use ATMs. We have still never linked hands on motoring terminology - petrol, the boot, the bonnet, known in the US as gas, the trunk, the hood.

Yet in the course of my own lifetime, countless routine British usages have either been superseded or are being challenged by their American equivalents. We no longer watch a film, we go to the movies. We increasingly have trucks not lorries. A hike is now a wage or price rise not a walk in the country.

Ugly and pointless new usages appear in the media and drift into everyday conversation:

-- Faze, as in "it doesn't faze me"
-- Hospitalize, which really is a vile word
-- Wrench for spanner
-- Elevator for lift
-- Rookies for newcomers, who seem to have flown here via the sports pages.
-- Guy, less and less the centrepiece of the ancient British festival of 5 November - or, as it will soon be known, 11/5. Now someone of either gender.
And, starting to creep in, such horrors as ouster, the process of firing someone, and outage, meaning a power cut. I always read that as outrage. And it is just that.
I am all for a living, breathing language that evolves with the times. I accept that estate agents prefer to sell apartments rather than flats - they sound more enticing. I accept that we now have freight trains rather than goods trains - that's more accurate.
I accept that sometimes American phrases have a vigour and vivacity. A relative of mine told me recently he went to a business meeting chaired by a Californian woman who wanted everyone to speak frankly. It was "open kimono". How's that for a vivid expression?
But what I hate is the sloppy loss of our own distinctive phraseology through sheer idleness, lack of self-awareness and our attitude of cultural cringe. We encourage the diversity offered by Welsh and Gaelic - even Cornish is making a comeback. But we are letting British English wither.

Britain is a very distinct country from the US. Not better, not worse, different. And long live that difference. That means maintaining the integrity of our own gloriously nuanced, subtle and supple version - the original version - of the English language.

Comment: I found it interesting that the author objected to "e-mail" and preferred the ridiculously snooty "e-post."  Oh please!  But then, he praised 'groovy' as a great British invention!  Oy!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The U.S. premiere of Deathly Hallows Part 2 has come and gone in New York, and from what I'm reading, it's a smash hit. -- and it hasn't even been released to the rest of the country yet (that happens tomorrow).
I rented Deathly Hallows Part 1 Saturday night and cried my way through most of it! It was my first time seeing the film. I will buy the DVD when I can find a clean copy of it -- right now has a tag on the product they were offering after quality complaints came pouring in! When I read that,  my first thought was that it's a Chinese bootlegged product. So I'll have to be very careful what I buy. I would like to add it to the other Potter movies I have.  I also would like to watch it on my 27" old t.v. which is set up for video viewing.  Saturday night I watched it on my 14 inch Toshiba screen - not quite the same experience although it certainly was intimate, because I was like - right on top of the action!

Before I rented the Deathly Hallows Part 1 video, I had decided to re-read the final book (I have re-read parts of it previously) and I've been doing a marathon of reading! I'm now near the grand denouement: Voldemort has just called a final hour's truce after a bloody battle at Hogwart's, demanding that Harry meet him in the Forbidden Forest. Of course I know how it ends but reading it again -- I had forgotten so much, so many of the details!  This is a book that I will probably re-read many more times.

Is J.K. Rowling really finished writing any more in the series? I believe she could write a whole new series of blockbusters by bringing forth a child or - even better - a grandchild of Voldemort -- a female descendant!

Emma Watson, NYC premiere, July 11, 2011
It's been fun seeing collections of photos of the main three characters over the years as they've grown up before our eyes: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), who has turned into a stunning beauty at age 21.  She was cute as a button at 11, and watching her blossom into a teen and then young womanhood over the years - just amazing. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

4300 Year Old "Dancing Shaman" Jomon Carving

Absolutely fascinating.  I could not find a larger image - it has feathers on it's head and holds some kind of object in its left hand.  Could it be a female shaman???

This is an English translation of an original Japanese language article, found at The Mainichi Daily News online.  What I do not understand is how, since this pottery shard was discovered in 1993, it wasn't until last month - LAST FRICKING MONTH? - that an unidentified "worker" discovered the carving on the pottery shard.  Amazing, absolutely amazing. 

Ancient pottery shard in Aomori found to hold carving of dancing shaman
July 9, 2011

A carving of a dancing shaman has been found on an ancient pottery shard unearthed years ago at an archaeological site in Aomori, making it possibly the oldest depiction of a shaman on an artifact uncovered in Japan.

"It is speculated to be a shaman with a ritual tool in hand, praying and dancing. It is a very valuable find," says Michio Okamura, chairman of an expedition committee for the site.

The shard was uncovered in 1993 from an earth mound near the center of the Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site in the city of Aomori. The shard has been dated to the middle Jomon period, around 4,300 years ago. Last month, a worker noticed that there was a carving of a human on it.

The shard is around eight centimeters tall and six centimeters wide, and the shaman depicted is dancing with a tool in hand and feathers decorating the top of the head, according to Aomori Prefecture's department of protection for cultural properties. The shaman carving is around four centimeters tall and three centimeters wide, and is thought to have been carved with a stick-like object around one millimeter in diameter.

According to the department, depictions of people and expressions of movement are both rare on Jomon pottery. The shard will be on public display at a museum situated next to the Sannai-Maruyama site from July 9 to Nov. 20.
Perhaps the "carved in" figure on the shard was not spotted because it was so small?  It measures a mere four centimeters tall and three centimeters wide or about 1.58 inches tall and 1.18 inches wide. I guess I shouldn't be so critical - but really, didn't the original excavators take a good look at the shards they excavated back in 1993?  We have known for the past 50-60 years (at least), and I assume this has been taught to the last few generations of would-be archaeologists that the smallest mark could have the most incredible meaning...

Just by way of comparison, the Butrint chess piece was about 1.5 inches tall.

USA Women's Soccer Team Advances to Semi-Finals

Abby Wambach (20) and goal keeper Hope Solo - great name!
I'm not a soccer fan but this is exciting news - and lots of videos to show the nail-biting action.
Sun Jul 10 02:44pm EDT
U.S. overcomes controversial ref decisions to beat Brazil on PKs
By Brooks Peck

More at FIFA News on the game

Game stats.

Team USA after its victory versus Brazil:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Well!  Knock me off my bar stool with a feather, darlings!  Probably nearly everyone in the western hemisphere is familiar with the refrain from the holiday tune "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  The "patridge in a pear tree" was the first gift "my true love gave to me..." and is thus carried in every refrain through the rest of the song, which catalogues eleven more gifts after the partridge/pear tree!

I was shocked this morning to find it in Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets as I was flipping through the pages to find the entry on St. Patrick, which ties into a few posts I did about a week or so ago.  I'll get to that later -- in the meantime, I just have to share this with you, it is very interesting!

Patridge in a Pear Tree

Middle English perrtriche, "patridge," was derived from Perdix, one of Athene's sacred kings, thrown into the seas from a tower, and carried to heaven in the form of a bird by his Goddess.(1)  He was the partridge, she the pear tree.  Athene was worshipped in Boeotia as Once', the Pear Tree, mother of all pear trees.  Perdix's name originally means "the Lost One."  He was a form of Vishnu-Narayana, called Lord of Pear Trees at his holy city of Badrinath in the Himalayas (from badri, "pear tree").  The pear tree had feminine-maternal significance through Eurasia.  It was also sacred to Hera, whose oldest image at the Heraeum in Mycenae was made of pear wood.(2)  European peasants considered the pear a favorite "life-tree" for a girl.  In Russia it was a protective charm for cows.(3)  The partridge in the tree was evidently taken as a symbol for Christ, instead of Perdix, when the image was transposed into a Christmas carol. 


(1)  Potter & Sargent, 123.
(2)  Graves, G.M. 1, 252.
(3)  B. Butler, 238.

Promised Stormy Weather Hasn't Arrived Yet...

After I finished cutting the grass out back yesterday I was whipped!  It was warm and humid but there was a bit of a breeze so I got through the lawn in two sessions -- only because the mower ran out of gas when I still had about 200 square feet to cut.  So I had to wait for the mower to cool down in a patch of shade while I myself recuperated with feet up and a glass of ice water on the deck.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon puttering and reading, puttering and reading.  I'd do a little bit of gardening, then a whole lot of reading, rinse and repeat...

So I didn't get a whole lot done yesterday other than get more bug bites despite spraying myself down 3 times with bug spray!  But I sure did enjoy my day off from blogging and thinking and everything else! 

I should have shut the house down last night and turned the AC on, but it was hovering on the brink of coolness outside -- no breeze -- so I sweated it out and eventually did fall asleep.  I got up at 6:15 a.m. and opened up the doors downstairs and let the early morning coolness seep into the house.  Between the patio door in the dinette and the front door in the living room I have a clear path and get good cross ventilation.  I was able to read my newspaper in peace and quiet as the sun rose higher and higher in the east but still hidden behind the tree line across the street, so the house stayed cool.  It was heaven!  But by 7:45 the sun was high enough to start heating the house, and I could feel the temperature creeping up even as I was just sitting still reading.  When sweat started forming on my upper lip, I knew it was time to shut down the house and turn the AC on.  Ahhhh, relief!

So - no outside today - except for a quick run to dump a watering can of water on the grass seed sprouting where the city took out a tree stump on a corner of my front lot some weeks ago - and a quick trip out back to clean out the bird baths and put fresh water in.  Those baths saw HEAVY traffic yesterday!  I was amazed at the quantity and variety of birds who flew by to get drinks and take dips as I sat out back all afternoon!  Early today (before it heated up) I pulled out the third bird bath and parked it center front about 10 feet from my front window, where I have a view of it as I sit and type this.  Once the birds discover it (it usually takes a day or two) I expect to be entertained with regular visits. 

I checked the weather a bit ago.  Thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and possibly severe weather tonight.  Yesterday was a bust - not a drop of rain!  I watered in the back from about 1:45 until about 8 p.m. as I puttered around and relaxed on the deck under the umbrella.  Occasionally it rained leaves from the Chinese elms overhead.  As I mentioned yesterday, lots of leaf drop again this year, such has been the weather.  Cha ching!  I can just imagine what my water bill will be for the quarter.  Damn!  But the trees, grass and flowers are very very happy with me. They are showering me with love today.  It's lush and green out back so I guess it's worth it, even if it is too uncomfortable for me to sit outside today.  The flowers espeically are putting on a show - the rugosa roses sent forth three new flowers just for me this morning - I could smell them all the way through my upstairs bedroom window which overlooks them to the southeast - and the day lilies haven't even bloomed yet!  That's unheard of - they are about 3 weeks late this year!  Usually by now they are bursting forth and are finished blooming (they bloom sequentially) in about 10 days.  Not this year!  So it's possible I'll have flowers into the beginning of August, which will be wonderful!  It doesn't take much to make me happy...

The temperature at 9:40 a.m. was 82 degrees F and the dew point was a whopping 70!  That's tropical, and it's difficult to breathe unless you're a kid or under 30.  Everyone else is just kidding themselves if they say they're not affected by this kind of moisture content in the air, it's like trying to do normal chores inside a steam bath which is to say, impossible unless you want to keel over!  Hopefully the sun will soon be swallowed by clouds and it won't get up to the promised 88 degrees. 

So, I don't feel like doing a thing again today, but I'm doing laundry because I need clean underwear and fresh clothes to wear this coming work week.  When is my next three day weekend...  LOL!  I had like three in a row and am terribly spoiled now...

Aha - my first bird visitor to the newly planted bird bath out front!

Another pic from yesterday morning:

It's Grandma Squirrel at the edge of the deck, and just at the edge of the dividing line between shade cast from the house and the sun line you can see another squirrel out hunting for nuts.  The sunlight is blindingly bright.  You can see the area just to the left of the patio umbrella where I huffed and puffed a few weeks back, got all bit up and bruised and scratched, cleaning out a small pocket of the island so now you can see the fence once again.  Just clearing out that small area (about a third of it's length) has made a positive difference for the flowers and shrubs that are planted in a bed to the right (out of picture range) because of increased sunlight and air flow.  As soon as the weather permits (that is, the dew point is in the mid-50's and the temperature is 75 degrees F or below) I'll work my way in from the other side with loppers and hand pruners, and also clean up the stumps and detrius left behind from my first pruning foray.  A woman's work truly is never done...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...