Saturday, October 27, 2007

16th European Women’s Team Chess Championship 2007

This event will be held in Greece from October 27 through November 7, 2007. No women are playing on any of the "men’s" teams. No men are playing on any of the "women’s" teams. Thirty (30) women's teams are participating. Here are the top ten (by averaged ratings): 1. RUSSIA Bo. Name Rtg 1 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2515 2 IM Kosintseva Tatiana 2492 3 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2469 4 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2448 5 IM Korbut Ekaterina 2443 2. GEORGIA Bo. Name Rtg 1 GM Chiburdanidze Maia 2500 2 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2474 3 IM Khurtsidze Nino 2450 4 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2416 5 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2409 3. UKRAINE Bo. Name Rtg 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2459 2 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2452 3 IM Ushenina Anna 2486 4 IM Gaponenko Inna 2440 5 IM Vasilevich Tatjana 2368 4. FRANCE Bo. Name Rtg 1 IM Skripchenko Almira 2438 2 IM Collas Silvia 2408 3 WGM Milliet Sophie 2395 4 WGM Leconte Maria 2364 5 WIM Flear Christine 2149 5. HUNGARY Bo. Name Rtg 1 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2466 2 IM Vajda Szidonia 2407 3 IM Madl Ildiko 2381 4 WGM Gara Anita 2315 5 WGM Gara Ticia 2324 6. POLAND Bo. Name Rtg 1 IM Socko Monika 2473 2 IM Rajlich Iweta 2411 3 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta 2371 4 IM Dworakowska Joanna 2316 5 WIM Przezdziecka Marta 2259 7. GERMANY Bo. Name Rtg 1 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2452 2 IM Kachiani-G Ketino 2404 3 WGM Michna Marta 2375 4 WFM Ohme Melanie 2274 5 WFM Mader Manuela 2203 8. NETHERLANDS Bo. Name Rtg 1 GM Peng Zhaoqin 2419 2 IM Bosboom-Lanchava Tea 2379 3 WGM Muhren Bianca 2303 4 FM Schuurman Petra 2281 5 WIM Bensdorp Marlies 2263 9. SERBIA Bo. Name Rtg 1 WGM Bojkovic Natasa 2428 2 WGM Chelushkina Irina 2351 3 WGM Benderac Ana 2328 4 WIM Stojanovic Andjelija 2274 5 Rakic Marija 2232 10. ARMENIA Bo. Name Rtg 1 IM Danielian Elina 2458 2 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2402 3 WGM Aginian Nelly 2261 4 WIM Andriasian Siranush 2234 5 Aghabekian Liana 2190

A Controversy of Biblical Proportions

I have been following this battle since I first read of it a couple of months ago. In academic circles, it has been a BIG story. At stake: a tenured position for a female of Palestinian ancestry who teaches at Barnard University. The field: biblical archaeology. I’ll bet you thought that biblical archaeology was a yawner subject! Ha! From The Jewish Week News online (New York) October 25, 2007 Flinging Dirt In Archaeology Dispute Some charges against Barnard professor’s tenure inaccurate; scholars divided. by Larry Cohler-Esses Editor-At-Large The key organizer of a campaign to deny tenure to a Barnard College professor seen by some as virulently anti-Israel acknowledged this week that her petition against the professor may not have quoted the book accurately. Barnard alumna Paula Stern, who now lives in an Israeli settlement community on the West Bank, acknowledged Tuesday that her petition —signed now by more than 2,500 people — incorrectly quotes from Nadia Abu El-Haj’s book in charging she is grossly ignorant of Jerusalem geography. Stern also conceded attributing to Abu El-Haj a viewpoint that Abu El-Haj does not voice as her own in her book. The petition does so by taking a quote fragment from a section in which Abu El-Haj describes others as having the opposite viewpoint. In addition, despite Abu El-Haj’s frequent citation of Hebrew language sources and an acknowledgment on her book’s first page thanking her Hebrew tutor, Stern’s petition asserts, “Abu El Haj does not speak or read Hebrew ... We fail to understand how a scholar can pretend to study the attitudes of a people whose language she does not know.” The charge may stem from criticism from some scholarly quarters that Abu El-Haj’s book contains mistakes in Hebrew, indicating her skills in the language are inadequate for such complex scholarship. Other experts have defended her Hebrew skills. “It was written very quickly,” Stern said of her petition, whose signatories include many Barnard and Columbia University alumni. “But there is a clear pattern in her book of attempting to undermine the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land.” Abu El-Haj, a Palestinian American, has been condemned by many supporters of Israel who say her controversial book, Facts On The Ground, reflects a deep-seated hostility to the very notion of a Jewish state. But her politics, whatever they may be, are — in principle at least — irrelevant to the tenure process. More relevant to that process, many of these critics also charge that the book is intellectually dishonest — a fraudulent attempt to throw into question some of the basic historical assumptions about Jewish presence in the land of Israel through the centuries. Some scholars have argued that she uses evidence selectively, misunderstands key aspects of how archaeology works and/or misrepresents the conduct and motives of archeologists. Others, no less expert, have praised and defended Abu El-Haj’s book — based on her dissertation —which has won several prestigious awards. At times it sounds like the experts have read entirely different books. William Dever, a well-known retired professor of Near East archaeology at the University of Arizona, dismissed it as “a piece of shoddy work as historical research. She doesn’t quote a single Israeli archaeologist. She doesn’t show she’s read their work.” Eric Meyers, a biblical archaeology professor at Duke University and member of her dissertation committee, pointed out that, in fact, Abu El-Haj went deep into the archaeological archives to quote directly from dusty reports and field notes of Israeli archaeologists from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Prof. Rafael Greenberg, senior lecturer in archaeology at Tel Aviv University, called the work an “eye-opener,” adding, “I recommend it.” His colleague, Aren Maeir, an archaeologist based at Bar Ilan, denounced it as “replete with inaccuracies [and] faulty research.” But the scholars are, by and large, at least arguing over things that are actually in the book, presumably, in context. In her petition, Stern says that Abu El-Haj “asserts that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a ‘pure political fabrication.’" Last August, bloggers Richard Silverstein and Jesse Walker publicly challenged the accuracy of this quote, among others, noting it was taken out of context. After a close reading of the 319-page book, this reporter found that the only place in which that phrase appears is in a section devoted to comparing the understandings Israeli Jewish and Palestinian archaeologists have of their respective origins on the land. Abu El-Haj notes that some Palestinian archaeologists argue Palestinians are heirs to the Cannanites who preceded the Israelites on the land. Israeli archaeologists, she notes, dismiss this as complete nonsense while for them the “modern Jewish/Israeli belief in ancient Israelite origins is not understood as pure political fabrication.” Stern denied she had taken out of context Abu El-Haj’s quote about political fabrication. “She denies the ancient history of the Jewish kingdoms in many ways,” Stern said in an email about Abu El-Haj, “as when she says that Jerusalem in the times of Herod was not Jewish.” The statement in question, in Abu El-Haj’s own voice, reads, “For most of its history, including the Herodian period, Jerusalem was not a Jewish city, but rather one integrated into larger empires and inhabited, primarily, by ‘other’ communities.” On the other hand, contrary to many claims by both scholars and lay critics, Abu El-Haj elsewhere repeatedly writes about the First and Second Temple periods and Jewish presence during these periods as a matter of fact. Like many archaeologists, she raises many more questions about the historicity of Israelite presence during the late Bronze and early Iron ages, when biblical tradition holds that identifiably Israelite tribes came into the land. Stern's petition also lambastes Abu El-Haj for "demonstrations of her ignorance of history and archaeology." It cites her quoting of an unnamed Israeli archaeologist criticizing a dig "in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City" as "one of the worst" in terms of method and preservation. "Somewhere in there are the complexes of the Palaces of Solomon," the archaeologist frets. Stern notes that Solomon's palaces, if they exist, would be nowhere near the Jewish Quarter. But the archaeologist quoted was not referring to a dig there but to one on the south and southwestern slopes of the Temple Mount - near the City of David. It is a site that, in fact, later turned up artifacts from what appear to be part of the palace grounds, said Greenberg, the Tel Aviv University archaeologist. “I’ve spoken to many newspapers, no one has done what you’ve done,” said Stern, presumably displeased with questions asking her to square her charges against the book with its text. She says the overall “trend” of the book is to deny a Jewish connection to the land and that “no matter whether it’s accurate or not, my petition is not on trial here. If you don’t like my petition, go to my Web site and read the experts’ opinions.” The current status of Abu El-Haj’s tenure process is a well-kept secret. She is widely believed to have gotten tenure approval from Barnard but not yet from Columbia, the parent institution of the women’s college. The campaign to deny her tenure has received public support from figures such as Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, who stated, incorrectly, last month that Abu El-Haj “believes that archeology proves there were never any Hebrews in the Holy Land.” Last November, The New York Sun, one of the first newspapers to report on the controversy, stated wrongly that Abu El-Haj “suggests Jerusalem was destroyed not by the Romans, but by the Jews themselves due to rising class tensions among them.” Sun managing editor Ira Stoll did not respond to a request for comment on the report by press time.Campus Watch, a web site devoted to exposing what it views as leftist bias in the academy, and FrontPage, a site with similar aims, have posted numerous articles critical of Abu El-Haj. The Democracy Project, another conservative website, has denounced her as “an academic impostor who passes off a political agenda demonizing the State of Israel and its legitimate historic roots.” In her book, Abu El-Haj repeatedly uses terms such as “colonial nation-state,” “(colonial) national political project,” and “settler state,” when describing Israel. The book implicitly rejects widespread Jewish self-perception of the Zionist enterprise as one in which Jews have returned to a land to which they have always been inherently connected. That connection, Abu El-Haj argues, had to be created in multiple ways—from establishing settlements and making that the sine qua non of early Zionism, through renaming and Hebraizing thousands of Arab villages, towns and place names and—not least of all—through developing a national “myth” of indigenous origin—a narrative—in which the findings of archaeology, with its scientific authority to “fix facts,” played a key role. The book discusses these issues using the loaded jargon of academic post-structuralism, referring frequently to “national origin myth,” “making place,” “self-fashioning” and “privileging” certain concepts, methodologies or paradigms. It strongly rejects a positivist world view in which knowledge is something objectively out there that is simply discovered, through empirical investigation, rather than interpreted. “The part that’s most revealing is her critical view of the automatic assumptions made by Israelis when they present Jerusalem,” said Greenberg, the Tel Aviv University senior archaeologist. “Anyone looking at it from a non-Jewish, non-Israeli point of view sees things we don’t see; for example, our use of terms like ‘First Temple period,’ ‘Second Temple Period. Once you think about it, you see it’s a very loaded term. There were many people living in the land at the time—many different religions, ethnicities, identities who did not relate to the Temple at all. “The thing I don’t agree with, emphatically, is that there’s something unusual in the Israeli position,” Greenberg said. “Every archaeologist in the world has an agenda.”

The Khitan - Nomad Rulers of China

Here is an introduction to a people who ruled China from 907 to 1125 CE - a people who were nominal Buddhists but followed the old ways of shamanism, which was an equal opportunity belief system, for there were both female and male shamans, although in the east, more female than male shamans. (Image, right: In 2003, archaeologists found a woman buried in a Liao-era tomb with a headdress similar to those worn by modern shamans. (Inner Mongolia Archaeological Research Institute)).

Some Mongol people still follow the same ways today, and the shamans are mostly female. Dr. Jeannine David-Kimball wrote about them in her acclaimed book "Warrior Women." I noted with particular interest the mention of annual sacrifice of a white sheep, a white horse, and a white goose.

From the online version of Archaeology Magazine

Dynasty of Nomads
Volume 60 Number 6, November/December 2007
by Jake Hooker
Rediscovering the forgotten Liao Empire

The Liao Empire was once considered a minor state on the fringes of Chinese civilization. Chinese-language sources depicted the Khitan as barbarians; Western scholars, who hadn't seen much material evidence other than Liao pagodas, regarded the dynasty as esoteric. But discoveries in Inner Mongolia over the past three decades have prompted scholars to reconsider these views, and Liao society is now recognized as a sophisticated blend of Khitan and Chinese traditions.

Before recent archaeological work, Liao history could only be reconstructed from Chinese-language sources. The Liao dynastic history describes the outlines of Liao culture in terms that Chinese historians could fathom--the economy, the government bureaucracy, the size and force of the cavalry, the number of vassal states. Other Chinese chronicles gave sketches of life and customs in Liao society, but they did not anticipate the profound impact that Liao innovations would have on China.

Scholars agree Liao rulers adapted Chinese customs and traditions over time. They governed the sedentary Chinese population with a civil bureaucracy modeled on the earlier Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907): they wore Chinese dress on ceremonial occasions, built Chinese-style temples and pagodas that surpassed those built by Chinese empires, and adopted the dragon as a sacred emblem. Yet the Liao also followed the traditions of their nomadic culture. They continued to practice shamanism, and on the day of the winter solstice, they slaughtered a white sheep, a white horse, and a white goose. The Liao worshiped the mountains, the sun, and the moon, as well as the Buddha.

Chinese literati, living in some of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, did not understand these native customs, and sometimes their observations were insulting. One Chinese writer witnessed the preparation of the second Liao emperor Deguang's corpse after he died in battle, in A.D. 946. The intestines were removed and the body was filled with salt and fragrant herbs, then the arms and feet were wrapped in copper wire. The Chinese writer called the preserved remains "imperial dried meat."

The Chinese Moon Goddess and Chess

China Sends Lunar Goddess to the Moon Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:45pm IST Reuters - China launched its first moon orbiter on Wednesday amidst a blaze of patriotic propaganda celebrating the country's space ambitions and technological prowess. Here are some facts about the Chang'e One orbiter and China's lunar probe programme: -- The Chang'e One orbiter, named after a lunar goddess, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan at 1005 GMT. It is expected to arrive in moon orbit on Nov. 5. ... ******************************************************************************** Many moons ago, when I was just getting started in researching the origins of chess, I tried to decipher the meaning (in English words) of Xiang Qi – the name the Chinese call their chess. I wasn’t convinced by the explanations given by chess historians that the words meant "elephant game" or "figural game." My approach was to break down the Chinese words into syllables and see what I could come up with. Here are some of my posts on the subject from the old Art Bell message board: Jan - 02:38am Feb 3, 1999 MST (#163 of 672) Located a Chinese/English dictionary that I figured out how to use (sort of). Under the english word "goddess" I found a pinyin chinese character definition of "chang" as "a moon goddess". This is interesting because another spelling or pronunciation for Xi'an (the Chinese province where the largest pyramids are located) is "Chang'an". Recall that the translation of chess from chinese to english characters is "xiangqi", and Ron and I speculated on a possible connection between the location of the chinese pyramids and the game of chess. So, Xi'an = Chang'an = possibly, goddess, a possible connection of the game, the goddess and pyramids... Also found at another dictionary site that "xian" is the name of a person, from "xu xian", meaning "madam white snake". I wonder if that was the formal name for the moon goddess??? Finally, chess, or any game similar to chess or any piece used in the game of chess is "k'i" "kei" or "qi", depending upon which set of chinese characters are used. "Chang" + "qi" = "Xiangqi", again connection between the goddess and chess. Here is a follow-up post: Jan - 05:08am Feb 3, 1999 MST (#164 of 672) I found a few further items. Under a search of "white", I found the following: "k'i", "kei" and "qi" meaning "a white gem; piece of jade; a jade like precious stone". Recall that these characters are also used to define the game of chess or chess pieces. Under a search of "xi", it came up with "clear; evident; clearly; distinct; fair; white (said of one's skin)". Finally, under a search of "moon", "xian" came up, meaning "first and last quarters of the moon". I think we have a decisive link between chess and the chinese moon goddess: how about "precious game of the moon goddess", or "precious game of the fair skinned goddess". Or, how about "precious game of the White Goddess" – the "White Goddess" being the book that Ricardo Calvo introduced me to a few months later when he joined this discussion we call The Weave. The Chief (Ricardo) participated in The Weave until his untimely death in September, 2002. That connection occurred to me just now – literally – as I was putting this post together. Duh, Jan! It’s been there since 2002 when Ricardo gave me the book. I just never went back and looked into The Weave. We have all of the posts from The Weave archived at Goddesschess. Here is an account of how Chang’o became Goddess of the Moon. Interestingly, it reports that prior to her marriage, Chang’o was an attendant of the Queen Mother of the West (Xi Wang Mu), who was the sponsoring Goddess of the ancient Chinese game Liubo. Liubo reached its height of popularity during the Han Dynasty (c. 220 BCE – 220 CE). Some scholars have suggested that Liubo is a predecessor of Xiang qi. The Moon Festival is a harvest festival, celebrated mid-way through autumn, using the Lunar Calendar. I couldn’t help but notice the very large and beautiful full moon last night. Perhaps it is Chang’o, who is happy because her husband is visiting :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Night Miscellany - Spooky Stuff!

Cue spooky music from ONE STEP BEYOND….. or, if you prefer, THE X-FILES. In honor of Halloween here’s some weird stuff, mostly reported at Daily Grail. First stop – did you know that there are inhuman creatures living in vast complexes underground, controlled by the military of various nations? Did you know that more than 8 million people have been given as FOOD to these inhuman creatures? No? Well, check this out darlings. Of course, there are no photographs or even a description of these inhuman creatures that eat people – and no explanation is given for the fact that no one seems to have noticed that 8 million people have gone missing. Hmmmm…. But it’s all part of a dastardly plot to reduce the world population by 80%. Hmmmm…. But if that many humans get killed, what will the underground dwelling inhuman creatures do for food??? Darlings, searching for information on "elite plot to reduce world population by 80%" opened up an entirely and heretofore completely unexpected world on the internet! OHMYGODDESS! I can only say that people must have a lot of spare time on their hands. Hey, all you guys out there worrying about "world elites" and all of their nefarious plots, we could use some help over at Goddesschess doing basic research. Years ago I read a book called "The Portent" and it scared the crap out of me! It was a story about nature gone amok, evidently in revenge for humans bringing ruin to the earth. In one particularly horrible sequence, a young couple out in the wilderness separate for awhile, she to go after some wild flowers, he to go explore a ghost town; later, Jess, the husband, goes looking for the wife, Claire. He searches and searches, and finds himself near a stand of trees; the sun was going down, the light was feeble, and his flashlight wasn’t much help: "Claire!" he shouted. "For God’s sake, where are you? Claire?" He hears a whisper of a voice "…ess" – "… ess, go ‘ack…" Jess trips over a tree root and falls, breaking a leg. … From this prostrate and weakened position he was on the verge of pulling himself forward when the faint eye of light (from the flashlight) seemed to turn and focus on the trunk of a large tree. Through eyes dimmed with pain, he saw a variation, a piece of worn blue denim blending with the brown mottled bark, saw a shoulder, the angle of a cheekbone, lips… … Slowly he lifted his head and tried to blink his eyes into focus. And saw it again. And knew enough to hold still. And knew enough not to cry out. Her features were still visible, though quickly disappearing, the imprisonment complete, her head held high, a brown scale moving liquidly over her mouth. "…ess…" Claire was "absorbed" somehow, by the tree. Jess never leaves the mountain; 30 years later, he still mourns the loss of Claire by the tree that took her and in a scene that part of the climax, one of the characters comes across the outline of Claire as preserved by the bark from 30 years ago. Well, darlings! According to this news report out of India on October 18th – there is a tree that tried to eat a COW! Holy Cow (pun pun). Here’s the link to the news report at Cryptomundo. Seems the villagers beat the tree sufficiently that it released the cow (evidently unharmed, although according to the news account the cow was "snatched up into the branches") – well, don’t take my word for it, read the report yourselves! I had no idea that it was really aliens in a spaceship that damaged Apollo 13. Geez – how dumb am I? I actually believe the accounts provided by the NASA and one of my favorite movies is "Apollo 13". But – a "Russian scientist" has written a book all about what REALLY happened. And there’s more – evidently Apollos 12 and 11 had contact with UFOs too – but everyone crossed their hearts and hoped to die and to this day have not revealed what REALLY happened "out there, in outer space"….

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Scientists Admit They Were Wrong - AGAIN!

Hmmmm, an object lesson about the problems that jumping to conclusions can pose: From Do birds, bees dance to same tune? How science goofed Published: 13:30 EST, October 24, 2007 A clutch of scientific studies showing that the foraging patterns of albatrosses, bumblebees and deer conform to a single mathematical axiom all got it wrong, researchers said Wednesday. The new work overturns a cornerstone study from 1996 claiming that the airborne seabirds trace an elegant pattern known as Levy flights, named after the French mathematician who first described them. It also upends or casts a long shadow over a slew of follow-on studies by biologists seeking to extend the albatross findings to other animals, including bees, reindeer, grey seals, spider monkeys and microscopic zooplankton. ... If all this published research turns out to be baseless -- as now seems likely -- it raises the intriguing and troubling question of how so many scientists working independently could have gone so badly astray. Lead author Andrew Edward, a research scientist at the Canadian government's fisheries and oceans department, uncovered two problems with the study on albatrosses, only one of which affected subsequent research. The first was simply an error in the raw data collected from tracking devices attached to the birds, which were mistakenly thought to be in the air when they were, for much of the time, soaking up the sun while sitting on rocks. The more important error, however, was in methodology, which is what started the chain-reaction of mistakes. Rest of story.


Well, for the "wierd" (or is that "weird?") news buffs out there, here's a good one:


By staff writers
October 23, 2007 12:39pm

DUTCH magician Ramana has been doing his best to freak out American people by levitating in Times Square and in front of the White House.

The illusionist, real name Wouter Bijdendijk, hovered several feet above the pavement with apparent ease. His only "prop" was a stick that he held with his left hand.

A household name in his native Netherlands, Ramana has performed for Queen Beatrix and has been honoured in India with the Golden Cloth award, the highest cultural honour ever given to a westerner, reported.

"This is an art," he said.

"And in India, they see it also as a science. I hope I make people wonder," Ramana said.

Ramana's repertoire also includes "flying" up to 10 metres above ground, mind reading and other forms of Indian street trickery.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dewi Tolol: The Bimbo Goddess

In the ancient tradition of the bimbo-goddess Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta From The - Opinion October 25, 2007 At a recent dance performance I met some old friends who introduced me to a tall, slim, beautiful woman who turned out to be Nadine Chandrawinata, Miss Indonesia 2005 -- no wonder she looked familiar! Later, I remembered a newspaper interview in which she had said "Indonesia is a beautiful city" -- probably just a slip of the tongue -- this led to her the being the butt of many jokes. How unfair, I thought, the poor girl was probably just nervous. The press wouldn't let it rest, saying she didn't speak English well enough to represent Indonesia (as if using Indonesian, one could not be intelligent). An editorial said sarcastically she spoke English like a "typical Indonesian girl": "fractured but confident". Another said she didn't look Indonesian enough, and with a German mother she does indeed look very Western. I felt even more sorry for Nadine: her face was too foreign, but her language wasn't foreign enough. She was good looking, but the media just thought she was another beautiful air-head bimbo. It didn't matter what she was really like, the media seemed determined to force Nadine into our long-standing national obsession with dewi tolol: the moron goddess. It was Sukarno, our first president and founding father, who coined the term dewi tolol, and, notorious pants man that he was, knew what he was talking about. In today's parlance, his term might be translated as a "bimbo", a woman who is dumb, crass, naive, lacking in character and who places an inordinate emphasis on physical appearance. (I know men like this too so I was pleased to find there is a label for them too: "himbos" or "mimbos"!) Sukarno came out with the term dewi tolol in his manifesto on women. Sarinah, published in 1947, is a volume of lectures he gave to women revolutionaries in Yogya, urging their emancipation as part of our national struggle against colonial values. Sukarno observed many husbands valued their wives like pearls, but were in fact preventing their happiness. He cited Havelock Ellis -- who devoted his life to the scientific study of sex -- saying that the majority of men look upon their wives as alternating between goddess and moron and treat them like fragile, childlike creatures incapable of maturity or independence. Sukarno countered this idea with his preferred symbol for Indonesian womanhood: Sarinah, his able, competent and "liberated" nanny. In a the same way Sukarno used Marhaen, a peasant-worker he once met, to represent the proletariat and symbolize Indonesian socialism, so he used Sarinah to symbolize his Indonesian-style feminism. Of course, Sukarno was never much of a feminist in practice. Women for him were predominantly sex objects (as his many lovers would attest) and this was seen when he commodified Sarinah (who he later admitted publicly was his first lover) by using her name for our first department store. Ah well. Putting Sukarno's juicy sex life aside for a moment, Sarinah was published 60 years ago but many of the views on women it contains still seem very progressive -- and in many respects are way ahead of all the governments since. And Sukarno was very clear in his condemnation of our national dewi tolol fixation (even if he did indulge himself in it). This is a fascinating story which I became aware of when Sukmawati, Sukarno's youngest daughter, asked me and team of friends to translate Sarinah into English. She said she felt it countered reactionary constructions of womanhood that conservative religious groups still try to impose on today's Indonesia. I read Sarinah and realized she was dead right. Decades ago I became involved in what academics call "the social construction of womanhood" because under the New Order, gender stereotypes were used to control not just women, but the entire population. In "State Ibusim", my MA thesis in 1988, I showed how this was done -- and got into trouble for it, including even a tangle with state intelligence (now there's a misnomer) which of course only proved my point! Things have changed a little since then. At least, we no longer have a single state-sanctioned model. The traditional military-endorsed "follow-the-husband" model is dying out and the religious model (that wives must unquestioningly obey their husbands to be pious Muslims) is also hotly contested. But the model that is getting a following among young girls these days is the bimbo ala Paris Hilton, who seems proud of being the ultimate dewi tolol. But what do types like Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Smith, famous for their consumerism and bad behavior, have that is worthy of emulation? When Anna Nicole Smith -- who made no positive contributions to humanity -- died, her story consumed 50 percent of cable news airtime, more than the war in Iraq. The likes of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan also get enormous coverage for their errant ways and the media hype about Princess Diana a decade after her death remains astounding. Queen of Hearts? Queen of Tabloids, more like. And yes, the global obsession with vacuous celebrity also exists in Indonesia, with every television channel having its obligatory "infotainment" show featuring mind-numbing gossip on the lives of our local celebrities. One major theme of this obsession is to glorify bimbos and reduce all other women to their level. Of course, this isn't new. Long before Paris and Anna Nicole there was Marilyn Monroe, a (peroxide) blonde but certainly not a dumb one. In fact her frustration was that Hollywood was trying to cast her as the dumb-blonde stereotype which she was not. The difference is, however, today the glorification of the bimbo has become so extreme there seems almost no alternative for any woman who becomes famous -- including poor Miss Indonesia. So, pop culture rules, and with it inane, mindless consumerism that sees women as nothing much more than sex objects and rewards them richly for being beautiful morons. Yep, it's gotten so bad that if Sukarno were to publish Sarinah today, he would probably have to put Paris Hilton on the cover to sell it! The writer is the author of "Sex, Power and Nation". She can be contacted at

Iranians Take Top Spots in Asian Zonal

Iranian duo best in Asian chess October 23, 2007 IRAN's Ihsan Maghami and compatriot Atousa Porakishan emerged winner in the men's and women's divisions, respectively, of the 2007 Asian Zonal Chess Championship and reached the World Cup finals to be staged in Mansiysk, Russia, from November 22 to December 18. The Asian Zonal Championship, which concluded last Sunday at Mishtan Hotel in Manama, saw stiff competition in the final round, particularly in the men's section. Maghami completed the nine-round Swiss system event on level terms with the UAE's Taleb Mousa with 7.5 points each from seven wins and a draw. However, with only one player from this division qualifying for the World Cup, the championship was decided on tiebreak scores which gave veteran Maghami the upper hand. They were followed by Mahjoob Murtada (6.5 points) of Iran in second place, Jordan's Sami Khader (6) third, Laith Ali (4.5) of Iraq fourth, Iran's Qanea Shoja'at (4) fifth, Ali Al Sulaiti and Maher Aayyad (3 each) sixth, Hussain Ayyad (2.5) seventh and Omran Al Mousawi (0.5) of Kuwait eighth. In the six-player women's division, Atousa came on top with 9.5 points from 10 matches after a fierce battle with her compatriot Paridar Shadi (8.5) who finished second. Zaina Bassil (5.5) of Iraq came third, followed by Bahrain's Dalal Al Ghasra (4.5) who finished fourth and ahead of compatriot Aysha Abdulla (1.5) who came fifth, while Abeer Rajab (0.5), also of Bahrain, was sixth. The last rounds were attended by Bahrain Mind Sports Association president Adel Al Asoomi who honoured the winners in both categories in presence of the UAE and Arab Chess Federations president Ibrahim Al Bannai and other officials. Success Al Asoomi thanked the players for taking part in this prestigious competition and hailed the efforts of the organisers in making this event a success. Al Asoomi also expressed appreciation to the General Organisation for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa for his continuous support to the association programmes. The week-long tournament got underway with 10 men and six women players from West Asian countries competing in this championsip with the women's event played in a double round robin format.

Kasparov in Philly

I've been following Kasparov's "Progress" publicizing his book across the USA at Mig's Daily Dirt chess blog, so I haven't been publishing information about it here. I came across this article tonight, though, and I thought it was great: From Philadelphiapapernet Chess Mates On his quest to save Russia (and sell books), Garry Kasparov visits town. by Brian Hickey Published: Oct 24, 2007 He has that quintessential Russian bear face, with the prominent nose and the hard, squinty eyes that say he vill break you if he vas so inclined. But just one day after squaring off with fellow presidential candidate Stephen Colbert, the man who would take down his homeland's next-generation czar also brought a knowing smile to the Free Library's Central Branch. Just before noon last Friday, Garry Kasparov strolled a room filled with local students who were strutting their strategic stuff on a dozen chessboards. He didn't know this was on the agenda — he was here to give a promotional talk for his new book How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom — but the former grandmaster examined each game. You could see his synapses firing; a couple of seconds, max, and he already knew how each battle would end. (He even made some suggestions along the way.) Hence, the smile. "There are a lot of schools that love the chess," he said to Gil Motley, an adviser who has made it possible for the city's After School Activities Partnerships to bring the game to some 3,500 local students in the Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge. "It's quite good for their education." To which Motley mustered moments later, "This is great, great, great, great, great. Meeting him is something I can take back to the rest of the students. They'll be excited as I am right now. It's just a shame this isn't baseball; I can't get him to sign individual chess pieces!" No, he couldn't, but Kasparov — who some might say is tempting assassination by challenging Vladimir Putin for the "presidency" through his opposition group Drugaya Rossiya, or "The Other Russia" — still made himself overly accessible. Returning for the first time since he defeated the computer-chess-programmed Deep Blue more than a decade ago — "Americans seem to be much more interested in man versus machine" — Kasparov was willing to answer any question. (Though a handler kept him on a rigid schedule, forcing Kasparov to walk off when he looked like he had much more to say.) I asked how worried Americans ought to be of Putin. "It's not just a one-man regime; it's a police state, and it's devastating. We've always wanted to show that it's not being presented as a choice between Putin vs. democracy, but Putin vs. fascism. I'm not very welcome in Russia these days; I can be confronted with extreme measures there," responded Kasparov, who admits he can't win but is happy to launch a grassroots effort in the face of increasing government control. "Every day of our existence is a small victory. We just want to create some problems for the regime. They cover up their actions with democratic decorations. Russia is not as bad as Zimbabwe, but it's getting there. People are living in fear." Translation: Be very afraid. Required Reading Noting that post-Yeltsin Russia has regressed to Cool War proportions — television is a "Kremlin brainwashing machine," which makes it difficult to get their message out — he made his way to a basement auditorium. There, he spoke for 45 minutes about politics, international relations, thought processes and, of course, how to make the right moves on the board and in the boardroom. Further proving that chess is the great equalizer, the room was filled with a diverse crowd — man and woman, old and young, white and black. "Chess is merely a tool through which we can analyze our own strengths and weaknesses," he said. "You need to have the courage to fail. If you're afraid of that, you're already losing." Though he retired from the game in 2003 —he still occasionally plays online "to relax" — Kasparov said his and his fellow revolutionaries' no-fear goal was simple. "We're not fighting to win an election. We're fighting to have fair elections, and that's a whole different ballgame," explained the 44-year-old who was once the youngest chess champion in history. "We want to bring the country back to the civilized world." Then, he made his way to the upstairs lobby, where dozens had already queued up to get Kasparov to sign their $27.95 book. With a black Sharpie in hand, and little security to guard him, he shook hands with each fan and signed each title page with a flourish.

Italian "Pensioner" -Antiquities Thief!

The article didn't mention the "pensioner's" age, alas. I keep envisioning this doddering 85 year old man with wispy mustach, but it's probably a fifty-something overweight former bordello operator. The number of ancient artifacts he'd illegally dug up is astounding - 12,000! Story from ABC News online By ROBIN POMEROY Oct. 22, 2007 Italian police have discovered a huge stash of archaeological artefacts that a pensioner had dug up to create his own private -- and illegal -- museum, they said on Monday. Police in the Venice region were stunned to find 12,000 items ranging from bronze age combs to jewellery, weapons and pottery from down the ages -- many in display cases in the man's home. "We found this guy who was doing his own excavations, a kind of dilettante archaeologist," said Colonel Pier Luigi Pisano of the Venice finance police, which made the raid. "What we found has incredible value because it covers the whole history of the region from the 18th century BC to the 18th century AD -- 3,600 years of history contained in the pieces." Italian law requires anyone who makes archaeological finds to declare them to the state. But police constantly investigate 'tomb raiders' who defy the law and dig for artefacts that are then often traded on the black market. Pisano said it was unclear whether the man was a trader or whether he was just building up a collection for his own gratification, but added the collection -- most of which was stored in boxes and not on display -- was priceless. "There were little combs made of deer bone from the 13th century (BC), there were belt buckles, arrow tips, renaissance swords and very many pieces of renaissance pottery that our experts said had a great market value," he said. "There were hundreds of pieces of pottery that were intact. In total, we seized 12,000 pieces," he added. "It could be worth millions of euros." The man, whom police have not identified, was a local pensioner who confessed to being an amateur archaeologist, Pisano said. Italy has clamped down on illegal art trafficking in recent years, pressuring big U.S. museums to return priceless pieces that it believed were smuggled out of the country. New York's Metropolitan Museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Los Angeles-based Getty have all returned disputed art works.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If This Ain't a Bird Goddess, I'll Eat My Wool Beret

From Mideast Online

First Published 2007-10-23, Last Updated 2007-10-23 08:46:58

Latest discoveries in Syria date back to start of Neolithic era in Epipalaeolithic period.
By Talal el-Atrache - DAMASCUS

Deep in the heart of northern Syria, close to the banks of the Euphrates River, archaeologists have uncovered a series of startling 11,000-year-old wall paintings and artefacts.

"The wall paintings date back to the 9th millennium BC. They were discovered last month on the wall of a house standing two metres (6.6 feet) high at Dja'de," said Frenchman Eric Coqueugniot, who has been leading the excavations on the west bank of the river at Dja'de, in an area famous for its rich tradition of prehistoric treasures.

The etchings are "polychrome paintings in black, white and red. The designs are solely geometric, and only figurative. The composition is made up of a system cross-hatched lines, alternating between the three colours," Coqueugniot said.

They were found in a circular building, around 7.5 metres (25 feet) in diameter. The excavated house features three solid blocks where the paintings were located.

The main pillar has been completely excavated and stands almost two metres high displaying the new murals, said Coqueugniot, a researcher for the Paris-based National Centre for Scientific Research.

The remains of the building, much larger than the small and rectangular domestic dwellings of the period, "must have been used as a meeting place for the whole village or for a clan," he added.

Apart from the organic artefacts, which have decomposed over time, the site has provided many well-preserved treasures.

Carved stone tools, flints, seed-grinding implements and brick-grinding stones have been recovered. Many bone objects were also found -- both remnants of the animals that made up part of the daily diet and intricately fashioned tools.

The dig also uncovered several figurines made of gypsum, chalk, bone and clay. The most recent discovery, an 11,000-year-old statue of a man is "particularly important and well preserved," Coqueugniot said.

This item will allow comparisons with other similar sculptures found on sites in the Urfa region of southern Turkey, added the French scientist, who has overseen archaeological projects at Dja'de for 15 years.

"The figures could have had religious significance. The female statuettes could also have been fertility symbols. But they could have had entirely different ritual meanings," Coqueugniot said.

"We can only offer hypotheses," he added. "It is still very difficult to say what was the significance of this 11,000-year-old statue of the woman."

The latest discoveries date back to the start of the Neolithic era, in a period known as the Epipalaeolithic.

Many artefacts from this period have been discovered in northern Syria, in particular at Jerf al-Ahmar, a site destroyed by the Tishrin dam, Coqueugniot said. It was one of several built over the past three decades that have flooded a number of archaeological sites.

For example, the dam at Tabqa flooded an area of around 650 square kilometres (250 square miles) after it was erected in 1976. Prior to that, the government approved testing of 56 sites, 20 of which were spared when the dam was built.

Reshevsky Memorial at Texas Tech

The Reshevsky Memorial International Invitational Tournament, to be held at Texas Tech University’s campus in Lubbock, Texas, from November 9 to 16, 2007, has lost financial support from Dr. Eric Moskow. Dr. Moskow has chosen to renounce his prior sponsorship promise because of a law suit filed by Mr. Sam Sloan naming Susan Polgar, Texas Tech University and others as defendants, according to statements he made at The New York Times chess blog. See also Whatever you may feel about the relative merits of the situation, the players who have already committed to playing at this event are entirely innocent and deserve the support of chess fans. Why should they be punished by withdrawal of promised funding because someone decided to file a law suit that is wholly unrelated to the tournament? The Susan Polgar Foundation and Texas Tech University have chosen to honor their commitments to the players who have already accepted invitations to this event, which has been renamed The SPICE Cup in Memory of Reshevsky. Many other people and/or organizations and corporations have stepped forward to offer funding for the tournament, which has now been upgraded to a Category 12 event from Category 10. The Susan Polgar Foundation is asking for parties interested in providing sponsorship for this event to contact Ms. Polgar: We are still looking for more sponsors as we have not reached our goals yet. But we are getting there and it is real close. If you know of potential sponsors or would like to be a sponsor yourself, please contact me. All our sponsors will be listed in the special tournament Program Book as well as on a number of websites. Please see Ms. Polgar’s chess blog for more information.

Susan Polgar

Today Dylan McClain posted at his New York Times chess blog Susan Polgar’s statement from her popular chess blog regarding recent events. Because of the pending litigation, Ms. Polgar’s comments were general in nature. Ms. Polgar’s conduct is in marked contrast to the behavior of Mr. Sam Sloan; but what, really, does he have to lose? His reputation? His honor? Would one expect decent behavior from Mr. Sloan? Mr. Sloan continues to post his allegations on every message board, bulletin board and blog that still accepts his posts, presumably acting under the old adage that if one throws enough mud at one’s enemies, eventually some of the mud may stick. In my opinion, Mr. Sloan might wish to visit a law library and research what is meant by the "clean hands" doctrine and the concept of equitable estoppel and understand how a court applies such concepts in case law. Mr. McClain provided the following quote of interest in his blog post: In an interview, Jim Brink, the vice provost for academic affairs at Texas Tech, said that the university stood behind Ms. Polgar and Mr. Truong, who are employees, not faculty members, of the university. "We have the greatest confidence in both Susan and Paul and in the reasons that we hired them," Mr. Brink said. "Nothing has changed as a result of the suit." He said that there will be a campus-wide reception on Nov. 1 to "introduce them to the university and the wider community." Referring to the lawsuit, which names Texas Tech as a defendent, Mr. Brink said that it was not possible that the university’s computers could have been identified as the source for fake postings on the Internet, the charge in the lawsuit by Samuel H. Sloan, because the university’s IP addresses are constantly changing. Mr. Brink added that he did not believe that Mr. Truong could have posted thousands of fake messages, as is alleged in the lawsuit. "Given the volume that Sloan has accused him of producing, he would have little else to do and I can assure you that he is plenty busy," said Mr. Brink. I do not know who did this interview of Mr. Brink or where it appeared – perhaps Mr. McClain did the interview specifically for purposes of reporting it on his blog, but it’s not clear from the context. I believe it would be imprudent, however, to assume that Mr. Brink was speaking "off the cuff." The importance of this will be evident to people who think about it. In the meantime, Mr. Sloan appears to be conducting his litigation by asking everyone/anyone who reads his posts on the internet to provide him with proof to support the "facts" he alleged in his Complaint. In due time, I believe Mr. Sloan's Complaint will be dismissed as to all defendants, the only question being whether whatever Court eventually assumes jurisdiction over the suit decides to award the defendants their costs and actually attorneys’ fees out of Mr. Sloan’s pockets. Courts are generally reluctant to use their power to award actual attorneys’ fees to parties who are dragged into frivolous litigation (provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), but in this case, perhaps the Court will make an exception and use Mr. Sloan as an example of why such suits should not ever be filed. In the American justice system, in both civil and criminal cases, allegations filed in a Complaint are not accepted as proven facts until a judgment has been rendered to that effect, either by trial to a court or a trial by jury. One would think, though, that we live in France, where the system works entirely to the advantage of bureaucrats and police – one is presumed to be guilty unless one can prove oneself innocent! If one only reads chess blogs, it seems that a majority of the posters to these blogs have already concluded that Mr. Truong and/or Ms. Polgar are "guilty" – although Mr. Sloan’s action is a civil action, not a criminal case, and "guilty" is not a concept in civil actions. This assumption of "guilt" is based on alleged evidence that few (if any), have seen in its entirety, other than the creator of this alleged evidence (Mr. Mottershead), and the import (or lack thereof) and accuracy (or lack thereof) of which has been fiercely argued. The remainder of the alleged "guilt" of the multiple defendants is based on Mr. Sloan’s innuendo and allegations that he has been leveling against everyone and anyone at all connected with the USCF since at least 1999, when I first started reading on the internet. To keep this all in perspective, a "majority of the posters" mentioned above is, I suspect, a couple hundred people – but – perhaps, may be (gasp) a couple thousand people. Whoo whoo! In the real world (not the small, insular world of chess), most people have probably never heard of Mr. Sloan although some may have heard of Ms. Polgar because of her remarkable accomplishments in the male-dominated chess world. Most people probably could care less about Mr. Sloan’s law suit, although some of them with a prurient bent might enjoy some of the contents of Mr. Sloan’s websites. In the chess world, I suspect that any one who is familiar with Mr. Sloan and/or his websites (other than those few who support him, for whatever purposes) has already dismissed everything that Mr. Sloan has ever said and ever will say.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bluuuuuueeeeee Tonight, Darlings

Hola darlings. I don't know what it is - the weather? It was beautiful this weekend, we got up to 77 degrees on Sunday and it was mostly sunny, not a drop of rain, and breezy both Saturday and Sunday. Except for the Invasion of the Flesh-Eating Asian Beetles (they are fake ladybugs - they look like ladybugs except their shells are orange with black dots, not red with black dots like the true ladybugs - and the fakes BITE), it was gorgeous outside and I did enjoy it as much as I could, while dodging flesh-eating beetles. But I have the blues. Wooh hoo hoo, really got 'em bad. Don't know why. Maybe hormones? I didn't think I had any left, LOL! Well, whatever. Still got the blues, I'm going to go make supper in a few moments and at 9 p.m. The Bachelor comes on. Now darlings, don't ask me why I watch such a silly program - I have a confession - I also watch Dancing with the Stars. EEK! Now if only I could stick my head and face on top of 56 year old Jane Seymour's fabulous body (we're the same age), I'd rule the world, I swear I would... Enjoy tonight's posts. I'm feeling so out of it, I haven't felt much like posting, it's been an effort to do these few posts tonight (see below). I managed only one on Sunday. Geez! Hope this blues funk is over soon.

The Beat Goes On: Women Fight, Men Die

I'm in the developmental stages of a new article for Goddesschess on the female warrior tradition in pre-Islamic Arabia and neighboring countries - there's some library research that has to be done, and then the really hard part, sitting down and actually writing it in a way that is clear, concise, educational and never ever boring, darlings! Given the demands on my "spare" time, don't know when it will be done, if ever. I've got several other article simmering away on the back burner, some for several years now. Yeah, well, whatever I dish up is worth the wait, darlings. Ha!

It was the beautiful women in this photograph who caught my eye tonight. These women are Kurds - and warriors.

Published: October 23, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 — Deadly raids into Turkey by Kurdish militants holed up in northern Iraq are the focus of urgent diplomacy, with Turkey threatening invasion of Iraq and the United States begging for restraint while expressing solidarity with Turkish anger.

Yet out of the public eye, a chillingly similar battle has been under way on the Iraqi border with Iran. Kurdish guerrillas ambush and kill Iranian forces and retreat to their hide-outs in Iraq. The Americans offer Iran little sympathy — Tehran even says Washington aids the Iranian guerrillas, a charge the United States denies. True or not, that conflict, like the Turkish one, has explosive potential.

On a recent reporting trip to the Iran-Iraq border, Salih Shevger, an Iranian Kurdish guerrilla, was interviewed as he lay flat on a slab of rock atop a 10,000-foot mountain, with binoculars pressed to his face as he kept watch on Iranian military outposts perched on peaks about four miles away.

He and his comrades recounted how they ambushed an Iranian patrol between the bases a few days before, killing three soldiers and capturing another. “They were sitting and talking on top of a hill, and we approached, hiding ourselves, and fired on them from two sides,” said Bayram Gabar, who commanded the raid, and who like all the fighters here uses a nom de guerre.

The guerrillas from the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or P.J.A.K., have been waging a deadly insurgency in Iran and they are an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the P.K.K., the Kurdish guerrillas who fight Turkey.

Like the P.K.K., the Iranian Kurds control much of the craggy, boulder-strewn frontier and routinely ambush patrols on the other side. But while the Americans call the P.K.K. terrorists, guerrilla commanders say P.J.A.K. has had “direct or indirect discussions” with American officials. They would not divulge any details of the discussions or the level of the officials involved, but they noted that the group’s leader, Rahman Haj-Ahmadi, visited Washington last summer.

Biryar Gabar, one of 11 members of the group’s leadership, said there had been “normal dialogue” with American officials, declining specifics. One of his bodyguards said officials of the group met with Americans in Kirkuk last year.
Iranian officials have accused the United States of supplying the fighters and using them in a proxy war, though these claims were denied by the American military. “The consensus is that U.S. forces are not working with or advising the P.J.A.K.,” said an American military spokesman in Baghdad, Cmdr. Scott Rye of the Navy.

A senior American diplomat said that there had not been any official contacts with the group and that he was unaware of its having received any support from the United States. He also said that Mr. Haj-Ahmadi, while in Washington, did not meet with administration officials.

Chess and Women

Edward Winter does his turn writing about Chess and Women - from an historical point of view. Whenever I see Edward Winter's name I think of Edgar Winter, and whenever I do that, I automatically start hearing "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" playing over and over in my brain. It's a good screaming bluesy song with great guitar..."free and on my own, that's the way I used to be, but since I met you baby, Love's got a hold on me..." Only goes to show more white guys than the Righteous Brothers can wail the blues.

Durga Puja Celebration Ends for Another Year

All across India people gathered to conclude the celebrations for the Goddes Durga and her many manifestations. Orissa bids adieu to Goddess Durga KalingaTimes Correspondent Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, Oct 22: Durga Puja came to an end in Orissa with the burning of the effigies of Ravana on Sunday evening. But the curtains on the annual puja celebrations finally came down on Monday with lakhs of devotees bidding a tearful farewell to Goddess Durga with immersion of the idols of the goddess in various rivers across the State. The idols of the goddess were immersed in different rivers as thousands of devotees took Goddess Durga in processions to perform the immersion ritual. In the Millennium city of Cuttack, around 50 idols were immersed in Kathjodi river by late on Monday evening. Most of the idols that were worshipped in the city were likely to be immersed in the night. Some idols would be immersed on Tuesday. As the puja pandals wore a deserted look during the day, all roads led to the immersion site by afternoon. Lakhs of people were out of their homes to witness the colourful processions in which the idols from different pandals were carried for immersion. In keeping with the tradition, the idols were first brought to Choudhury Bazaar for a congregation called `Melan'. Then they were taken in procession one after the other to the immersion place at Devi Gada. Heavy security arrangements were made on the procession routes to ensure smooth conduct of the immersion ceremony. In Bhubaneswar, the idols were taken in processions on different roads for immersion in Kuakhai and Daya rivers. Traffic came to a halt as the processions passed through several main roads amid tight security arrangements. Thousands of people stood on both sides of the procession routes to bid farewell to the goddess. The processions that started in the afternoon continued till late in the evening.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Scholastic Chess - Big Money In The USA

No wonder some people are so bitter against Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, who got elected to seats on the USCF Executive Board. They had a chance to grab for the gold ring, and they lost it. Cha ching - down the tubes. Bye bye, $$$. Where’s the Real Action Now? In the Nation’s Schoolrooms By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN Published: May 20, 2007 Scholastic chess has become the game’s lifeblood. Almost 60 percent of United States Chess Federation members are under 18. The most exciting scholastic events are the national championships. In late March and early April, more than 1,000 players competed in the junior high school championships in Sacramento. That was followed last month by the high school nationals in Kansas City, Mo., with more than 1,400 players. The cycle ended last weekend with more than 2,000 children, some only 5 years old, playing in the elementary school championships in Nashville. And yes, even children this young can show talent. One Georgia family seems to have chess running in its veins. Ryan Joseph Moon, 11, who goes by Joseph, won the K-6 section with a score of 6 ½ out of 7. His ranking is almost that of an expert, which makes him better than more than 90 percent of adults who play in tournaments. Joseph’s brother Benjamin, 9, won the K-3 section, also with 6 ½ out of 7. It may not be the last such sibling act: They have a brother, Richard, 2 (who has yet to begin playing). Henry Moon, the boys’ father, an associate professor of management at the London Business School, who commutes between London and Georgia, said the family traveled to more than 20 tournaments a year. He and his wife are home-schooling Benjamin because he missed too many days of school. Moon said it was difficult to balance chess and school. “You are always trying to dance between the two,” he said. “I think that is true for any parents of kids who compete at a national level.” He said the family spends more than $15,000 a year on travel and lessons.
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