Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blast from the Past: 2004 World Youth Chess Championships

Harika regains sole lead November 12, 2004 19:39 IST Women Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika regained sole lead after settling for a draw with Alisa Melekhina of United States in the ninth round of the under-14 girls' section in the World Youth Chess Championships in Heraklion, Greece. Harika now has 7.5 points out of a possible nine and is half a point ahead of her nearest rivals, Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, Elena Tairova and Melanie Ohme of Germany. With just two rounds remaining in the event, Harika needs just one victory and a draw to secure the world title. . . . Meanwhile, things worked in favour of Mary Ann Gomes in the under-12 girls' section. Having been in lead once, Mary defeated Abrahamyan Tatev of United States and moved to seven points. The Georgian duo of Maka Purtseladze and Bela Khotenashvili continued to lead the table after drawing their ninth round games and amassed 7.5 points. J Mohana Priya came back into reckoning for a medal in the under-10 girls category with a finely crafted victory over Diana Baciu of Moldova even as Mary Arabidze of Georgia continued to torment opposition and secured the gold medal with two rounds to spare. Arabidze recorded her ninth victory in as many games and now Mohana Priya is in joint second spot on 7 points. . . . Important results after 9th round (Indians unless specified) . . . Boys: Under 10: David Khachykian (6, Blr) lost to Hou Yifan (7, Chn)... Under 18: Nana Dzagnidze (6.5, Geo) beat Ian Nepomniachtchi (6, Rus)... Girls: Under 10: Mary Arabidze (9, Geo) beat Samadzade Sevinj (6.5, Aze); S Tejaswini Reddy (6.5) drew with Qurbonboyeva Sarvinoz (6.5, Uzb); Diana Baciu (6, Mda) lost to J Mohana Priya (7); Camacho Chardine Cheradee (6, Phi) beat Sirisha Gutta (5). Under 12: G Madanasri (6.5) drew with Mariya Muzychuk (6.5, Slo); Anne Haast (5, Ned) lost to P Lakshmi Sahiti (6); Irine Kharisma Sukandar (6, Ina) beat Anjali Datta (5); Amisha Parmar (5.5) beat Adam Andrea (4.5, Rom); Narmin Kazimova (4, Aze) lost to Devangi Patankar (5). Under 14: Alisa Melekhina (6.5, USA) drew with D Harika (7.5); Anna Muzychuk (7, Slo) beat Tairova Elena (7, Rus); Ohme Melanie (7, Ger) beat Saulyte Gabriele (6, Ltu); Anjanaa N Sowjanyaa (5.5) drew with Elena Ostroverkhova (5.5, Ukr); Sobierska Wioletta (5, Pol) lost to K Lakshmi Praneetha (6). Under 16: Maka Purtseladze (7.5, Geo) drew with Joanna Majdan (7, Pol); Bela Khotenashvili (7.5, Geo) beat Foisor Sabina-Francesca (6.5, Fra); Nebolsina Vera (6,Rus) lost to Atousa Pourkashiyan (7, Iri); Mary Ann Gomes (7) beat Abrahamyan Tatev (5.5, USA). Under 18: Anna Burtasova (6.5, Rus) beat Kadziolka Beata (5.5, Pol); Vera Papadopoulou (5.5, Gre) lost to Marina Guseva (6.5, Rus); Lovece Ruth (3.5, Arg) lost to M Rajadharshini (5).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! Hard to believe, but I actually survived another week. It's been tough at the office; some changes are in the works (I'm not responsible for all, not by a long shot, but for a few, yes, I admit) and the tension is thick enough to slice with a knife. In the end, I hope for a better situation for myself, but who knows? Be that as it may, it's been crappy weather here - we're about 15 degrees F below normal temperatures for this time of year, and today we dodged several bullets in Milwaukee County by avoiding any tornado touchdowns or really severe weather. The danger is not over, though, more of the same is on tap for tomorrow. So much for yard work! I'm not into squishing 3 inches into muck while attempting to rake, no thank you! This has all the makings of a classic "La Nina" spring/summer - which means no spring, and then one day it's 90 degrees F with 200% humidity for the next 2 months before it drops t0 30 below zero. Welcome to Wisconsin! Maybe the yard work won't get done this year... Except I must do SOMETHING, as it's an absolute disaster in my backyard, after a season of endless windstorms and norwesters totally trashing my trees (and I don't even want to talk about what my "lawn" looks like, no no no) and Isis, Michelle and dondelion will be visiting again in July, yippee! I switched gears today and updated Chess Femme News with the latest on the 2008 European Individual Chess Championships (chess femmes only, of course!) so please check it out for the latest news. There's a lot of BS out there, per usual (baloney sausage, that is, ahem), and most of it isn't even worthy of putting up a link here (I have a very exclusive readership after all, double ahem). For what it's worth, here are my selections this week. Hope you enjoy! England passed a law recently attempting to regulate phoney-baloney "psychics": The Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 is being scrapped, and they will in future come under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. Let the commentary begin. LOL! How J.K. Rowling and her "Harry Potter" novels were systematically deleted off the "Best Sellers" lists - and triumphed anyway. Very enlightening about how New York Publishing works - what a bunch of schmucks. Oh oh! Exposed: the great GM crops myth/Major new study shows that modified soya produces 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent. Why am I not surprised? Great ball of fire! Nomads saved astronauts Startled people saw a burning capsule fall from the sky down to Earth Okay, I'm not even going to attempt to write a by-line for that headline... The Black Death changed the world. It wiped out approximately 50% of the world's population at the time - in some villages, everyone died. It is estimated that at the time (during the 1340's) some 75 million people were killed by the Plague. So, what would it be like today, if something similar would hit us and wipe out about half of the world's current population - some 3 billion plus people? Think about it. What would it be like? Leave it up to a female...

Another Take on Akhenaten's Medical Condition

We all know him as the "heretic Pharaoh" who was married to the most beautiful woman who ever lived, Nefertiti, whose bust (which Egypt lusts after) is housed in a museum in Germany. Here's a new take on the medical condition that may have caused his rather unique appearance: AP The Androgynous Pharaoh? Akhenaten had feminine physique By ALEX DOMINGUEZ – 15 hours ago BALTIMORE (AP) — Akhenaten wasn't the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead. So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures. The female form was due to a genetic mutation that caused the pharaoh's body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes. And Akhenaten's head was misshapen because of a condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age. The pharaoh had "an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters," Braverman said. "But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique." Braverman, who sizes up the health of individuals based on portraits, teaches a class at Yale's medical school that uses paintings from the university's Center for British Art to teach observation skills to first-year students. For his study of Akhenaten, he used statues and carvings. Akhenaten (ah-keh-NAH-ten), best known for introducing a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt, reigned in the mid-1300s B.C. He was married to Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, may have been his son or half brother. Egyptologist and archaeologist Donald B. Redford said he supports Braverman's belief that Akhenaten had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by lengthened features, including fingers and the face. Visiting clinics that treat those with the condition has strengthened that conviction, "but this is very subjective, I must admit," said Redford, a professor of classic and ancient Mediterranean studies at Penn State University. Others have theorized Akhenaten and his lineage had Froehlich's Syndrome, which causes feminine fat distribution but also sterility. That doesn't fit Akhenaten, who had at least six daughters, Braverman said. Klinefelter Syndrome, a genetic condition that can also cause gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, has also been suggested, but Braverman said he suspects familial gynecomastia, a hereditary condition that leads to the overproduction of estrogen. The Yale doctor said determining whether he is right can easily be done if Egyptologists can confirm which mummy is Akhenaten's and if Egyptian government officials agree to DNA analysis. Braverman hopes his theory will lead them to do just that. "I'm hoping that after we have this conference and I bring this up, maybe the Egyptologists who work on these things all the time, maybe they will be stimulated to look," he said. Previous conferences have examined the deaths of Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale and others. Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Update: Treasure Ship Found in African Diamond Mine!

Prior post. From the International Herald Tribune: Treasure trove found on shipwreck off Africa The Associated Press Published: May 2, 2008 JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: The ship was laden with tons of copper ingots, elephant tusks, gold coins — and cannons to fend off pirates. But it had nothing to protect it from the fierce weather off a particularly bleak stretch of inhospitable African coast, and it sank 500 years ago. Now it has been found, stumbled upon by De Beers geologists prospecting for diamonds off Namibia. "If you're mining on the coast, sooner or later you'll find a wreck," archaeologist Dieter Noli said in an interview Thursday. Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture of the government of Namibia and De Beers, first reported the April 1 find in a statement Wednesday, and planned a news conference in the Namibian capital next week. The company had cleared and drained a stretch of seabed, building an earthen wall to keep the water out so geologists could work. Noli said one of the geologists saw a few ingots, but had no idea what they were. Then the team found what looked like cannon barrels. The geologists stopped the brutal earth-moving work of searching for diamonds and sent photos to Noli, who had done research in the Namibian desert since the mid-1980s and has advised De Beers since 1996 on the archaeological impact of its operations in Namibia. The find "was what I'd been waiting for, for 20 years," Noli said. "Understandably, I was pretty excited. I still am." Noli's original specialty was the desert, but because of Namdeb's offshore explorations, he had been preparing for the possibility of a wreck, even learning to dive. After the discovery, he brought in Bruno Werz, an expert in the field, to help research the wreck. Noli has studied maritime artifacts with Werz, who was one of his instructors at the University of Cape Town. Judging from the notables depicted on the hoard of Spanish and Portuguese coins, and the type of cannons and navigational equipment, the ship went down in the late 1400s or early 1500s, around the time Vasco de Gama and Columbus were plying the waters of the New World. "Based on the goods they were carrying, it's almost certain that it dates from that time," said John Broadwater, chief archaeologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "This find is very exciting because very few vessels from that period have been discovered," he said, adding that many early ships were thought to have wrecked in that area. It was, Noli said, "a period when Africa was just being opened up, when the whole world was being opened up." He compared the remnants — ingots, ivory, coins, coffin-sized timber fragments — to evidence at a crime scene. "The surf would have pounded that wreck to smithereens," he said. "It's not like 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' with a ship more or less intact." He and Werz are trying to fit the pieces into a story. They divide their time between inventorying the find in Namibia and doing research in museums and libraries in Cape Town, South Africa, from where Noli spoke by phone Thursday. Eventually, they will go to Portugal or Spain to search for records of a vessel with similar cargo that went missing. "You don't turn a skipper loose with a cargo of that value and have no record of it," Noli said. The wealth on board is intriguing. Noli said the large amount of copper could mean the ship had been sent by a government looking for material to build cannons. Trade in ivory was usually controlled by royal families, another indication the ship was on official business. On the other hand, why did the captain have so many coins? Shouldn't they have been traded for the ivory and copper? "Either he did a very, very good deal. Or he was a pirate," Noli said. "I'm convinced we'll find out what the ship was and who the captain was." What brought the vessel down may remain a mystery. But Noli has theories, noting the stretch of coast was notorious for fierce storms and disorienting fogs. In later years, sailors with sophisticated navigational tools avoided it. The only tools found on the wreck were astrolabes, which can be used to determine only how far north or south you have sailed. "Sending a ship toward Africa in that period, that was venture capital in the extreme," Noli said. "These chaps were very much on the edge as far as navigation. It was still very difficult for them to know where they were." Rest of story.

Chess News Update

Chess Femme News has been updated, May 2, 2008, to reflect the final standings of the 2008 European Individual Chess Championships, and more. Enjoy!

If you didn't know it before, you do now -

This information has been out for some time, the consensus being that the book purportedly written by Bobby Fischer in December, 2007 "My 61 Memorable Games" was a fraud. Here is the article by GM Larry Evans from the Bobby Fischer book appears to be fake May 4, 2008 "No other chess figure has had, has or will have more autograph imitations than Bobby Fischer GUARANTEED!" — Fisching for Forgeries, by Lawrence Totaro Last December, a month before Bobby Fischer died in Iceland, an auction on eBay Canada announced a new revised edition of his classic My 60 Memorable Games called My 61 Memorable Games purportedly written by him. Bidding reached $3,050 for the first 50 copies when eBay pulled the plug: "We recently suspended this seller's trading privileges. Due to privacy concerns we cannot share further details." Fischer angrily denied writing it. Yet the seller denied any hoax and insisted the auction was withdrawn solely because of death threats received online from someone called "Jews Against Fischer." "So what should I do with all these books then?" said the seller. "Why not send them — if they exist — to Fischer in Iceland?" I replied. In extensive e-mails over the next three months the seller repeatedly promised to send me a copy of the new book but never did. I think it may exist on someone's computer but it has not yet appeared in print. Obviously a strong player using a computer did a lot of work updating the manuscript. But Fischer had nothing to do with it and the seller's story appears to be a fairy tale. The Canadian came up with excuse after excuse for not sending me a copy of the book. I played along to gather more information, then encountered one falsehood after another — too numerous to mention. In order to convince me the book exists, the scammer sent me a photo of the cover and page 79, naively asking who this Weinstein was that Bobby kept attacking (knowing full well that Weinstein was Kasparov before he changed his name). This sample page pointed out a flaw in analysis by Kasparov in his series My Great Predecessors (Volume 4). To mimic Bobby's sarcasm, the author was called "Weinstein" and then boasted: "I'll say this only once — Fischer beats Kasparov!" If the book does surface one of these days, we can rest assured it was NOT written or authorized by Fischer. For the full story, see Chess Life Online ( Larry Evans is a five-time U.S. chess champion and nationally syndicated chess writer. Write to him at P.O. Box 1182, Reno, NV 89504.

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Standings after Round 10: 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 8.0 (W, defeated Kovalevskaya) 2 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 7.5 (drew with Ushenina) 3 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 7.5 (drew with Zhukova) 4 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7.5 (drew with Skripchenko) 5 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 7.5 (drew with Cramling) 6 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 7.0 (drew with Anna Muzychuk) 7 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 7.0 (drew with Natalija Pogonina) 8 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 7.0 (B, defeated Margarita Voiska) 9 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 7.0 (B, defeated Sopio Nikoladze) 10 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 7.0 (drew with Houska) 11 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 7.0 (drew with Cmilyte) 12 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 7.0 (B, defeated Tatiana Stepovaia) 13 IM Socko Monika 2505 POL 7.0 (B, defeated Melia Salome) 14 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 6.5 15 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 6.5 (B, lost to Lahno) 16 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 6.5 (B, defeated Jana Jackova) 17 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 6.5 18 WGM Demina Julia 2337 RUS 6.5 19 IM Repkova Eva 2381 SVK 6.5 20 IM Rajlich Iweta 2411 POL 6.5 72 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 5.0 (W, defeated WIM Popova Natalija 2239 BLR) In round 11, Narmin (B) faces FM Petra Schuurman (NED 2295), also with 5.0. It’s Lahno’s tournament to lose; behind (W) she will have her hands full with Ushenina (B). Interesting to note that of the top 16, five players won with the black pieces in Round 10.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tse-whit-zen artifacts languish in storage

Law suits filed by "native Americans" and cut off of Federal money prevent examination of results from the largest excavation ever undertaken in the state of Washington. By Jonathan Martin Seattle Times staff reporter Story - One of the Pacific Northwest's most astonishing archaeological finds in a generation has languished for more than a year, lingering on metal shelves in a Seattle warehouse, unseen by the public and unexamined by scientists. No one questions the discoveries — artifacts from a 2,700-year-old Native American village excavated from the Port Angeles waterfront amid great public interest — should be exhibited, analyzed and celebrated. But the 900 boxes of artifacts — such things as spindle whorls carved from whale vertebrae, along with animal bones and shell fragments — remain hung up in a bureaucratic no man's land. Questions about who owns and controls access to the collection are still in dispute. And there's also another all-too-familiar problem when the government gets involved: The money to study the collection evaporated. The federal government had promised analysis of and public education about the village, Tse-whit-zen, but backed out when excavation mushroomed in scope and controversy. There's some hope that the local congressional delegation may step up. But until then, frustrated local historians evoke the final scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when, after all the adventure and fuss, the Ark of the Covenant is crated and carted into obscurity inside a cavernous government archive. "This is a big, important site, and it is sad that it is languishing on the shelf," said Steve Denton of the University of Washington's Burke Museum, which is taking care of the collection for the time being. Time of the essence Tse-whit-zen (pronounced ch-WEET-sen), nestled in the elbow of Port Angeles' Ediz Hook, was once a thriving fishing village inhabited by the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. It is the biggest Native American village found in the state since the Ozette village, once inhabited by the Makahs, was unearthed in the 1960s. In August 2003, state contractors began digging a dry dock on the site to build bridge pontoons to repair the Hood Canal Bridge. Although crews began finding artifacts and human bones within weeks, the project was not shut down until 2004, after a tense, emotional clash of cultures involving the tribe, the city of Port Angeles and state and federal transportation managers. About $90 million in state and federal money was spent on the failed dry-dock site, including about $10 million for archaeological work. The result is more than 80,000 items or samples excavated from Tse-whit-zen, including carved bone harpoon points, fishing hooks and stone tools such as hammer stones and a finely polished adze head. For some, the star of the collection is a delicate bone comb, crowned by an exquisite carving of cormorants hovering over a child. Ken Ames, a Portland State University archaeologist who specializes in Native American coastal tribes, said the site is so large and well-excavated that "you could reconstruct life 2,200 years ago." Even shell fragments found there could be useful: Molecular analysis could show the water temperature of the Strait of Juan de Fuca thousands of years ago, helping global-warming researchers. But time is also of the essence, Ames urges. Records could be misplaced. And artifacts deteriorate. "At some level, I'd say they might as well have not excavated it if they don't analyze it," he said. A question of ownership Once the village began to be unearthed, an agreement among state, federal and tribal authorities in 2004 called for exhaustive analysis of the site and public education about the findings. How did villagers make tools? Had there been a tsunami there? What shellfish were prevalent? But the agreement was changed in 2007, after more than 300 human remains were dug up and tensions erupted into lawsuits. The new agreement allowed the tribe to focus on reburying its ancestors, and gave local officials, angry about losing jobs from the aborted pontoon project, millions of dollars. But because the flow of federal road-building money stopped when the project was killed, money for the analysis and education was stopped, too. Tom Fitzsimmons, who negotiated the project as Gov. Christine Gregoire's chief of staff, said he was focused on resolving the disagreements, leaving the issue of analysis for the future. "There are differences, and emotions, but we untied the huge Gordian knot to do this," said Fitzsimmons, who has since left state government. Under the agreement, the state will hold the artifacts in storage until the tribe builds a museum-quality education center on land leased to the tribe by the state. At that point, the artifacts will be released to the tribe. But one big part of the deal remains contested: ownership of the artifacts. Fitzsimmons argues the state Department of Transportation owns the collection because it owned the land where the artifacts were found. That gives the state — not the tribe — power to grant access to study the collection. But the tribe vehemently disagrees. "As far as we're concerned, they are the tribe's artifacts," said Frances Charles, the chairwoman of the tribe. The tribe successfully stopped carbon dating of the human remains, and is also opposed to testing of the other artifacts, she said. "The archaeological firms are interested in the scientific methods," Charles said. "Ours is the sensitivities and culture part of it. Science is science, and culture is the culture. We don't want you dating the bones, and also dating the artifacts." For now, the tribe is more focused on plans to rebury their ancestors in a ceremony this summer, but members also have begun planning an education center and trying to find a way to pay for it. "We'd like to tell our story," Charles said. "Enormous" potential Nonetheless, a group of Pacific Northwest scientists from Portland State and other universities is preparing an application to the National Science Foundation for money to study the artifacts. Archaeologists estimate a thorough study could be done for about $1 million, a relatively minuscule amount compared with money already spent. "We spent a lot of money excavating an archaeological site and for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly, the public won't get to obtain the scientific value of the material," worries Allison Brooks, the state historic preservation officer. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who supported stopping the dry-dock project, is willing to support the application — or find other funding — if he were asked, said his chief of staff, George Behan. Thus far, Dicks hasn't been asked. So for now, the collection still sits in the Burke Museum, in bubble wrap, at the back of a huge UW warehouse on the former Sandpoint Naval Air Station, unavailable to the public. One day last week, Denton, the held-in-trust program manager for the UW's Burke Museum, lifted the cherished cormorant bone comb out of its special acid-free box and suspended it on a piece of twill cloth. "This is one of the most significant excavations ever in Washington," he said. "The research potential is enormous." Then he lowered the comb back into the box, closed the lid, and put it back in a metal filing cabinet. Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Columbus Era Shipwreck Recovered - in a Diamond Mine!

From De Beers Finds Shipwreck, Treasure From Columbus Era (Update2) By Chamwe Kaira April 30 (Bloomberg) -- De Beers, the world's biggest undersea diamond miner, said its geologists in Namibia found the wreckage of an ancient sailing ship still laden with treasure, including six bronze cannons, thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins and more than 50 elephant tusks. The wreckage was discovered in the area behind a sea wall used to push back the Atlantic Ocean in order to search for diamonds in Namibia's Sperrgebiet or ``Forbidden Zone.'' ``If the experts' assessments are correct, the shipwreck could date back to the late 1400s or early 1500s, making it a discovery of global significance,'' Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government, said in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Windhoek, today. The site yielded a wealth of objects, including several tons of copper, more than 50 elephant tusks, pewter tableware, navigational instruments, weapons and the gold coins, which were minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s, according to the statement. The Namibian government will claim ownership of the treasure found, Halifa Mbako, group corporate affairs manager at Namdeb, said in a telephone interview from Windhoek today. Namibian Law ``By Namibian law, discoveries of this nature belong to the state,'' he said. ``The discovery was found in our mining area, but the treasure belongs to the state.'' The Namibian government is in consultations with the governments of Spain and Portugal to try and identify the ship, which was most likely a trading vessel, given the goods on board, said. On April 1, Bob Burrell, the head of Namdeb's Mineral Resource Department, found some rounded copper ingots and the remains of three bronze cannons in the sand. ``All mining operations were halted, the site secured and Dr. Dieter Noli, an archaeologist and expert in the Sperrgebiet, was brought into the project and identified the cannons as Spanish breach-loaders of a type popular in the early 1500s,'' Namdeb said. The find may be the oldest sub-Saharan shipwreck ever discovered, Namdeb said. ``If this proves to be a contemporary of the ships sailed by the likes of Diaz, Da Gama and Columbus, it would be of immense national and international interest and Namibia's most important archaeological find of the century,'' according to the statement. Diamonds have been mined along the south-western coast of Namibia and in its coastal waters for the last 100 years. De Beers, the world's largest diamond company, is 45 percent owned by Anglo American Plc, 40 percent held by the Oppenheimer family and 15 percent owned by the government of Botswana.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

God-Fearing Women Doff Blouses

From Malaysian National News Agency April 27, 2008 16:14 PM By P. Vijian SALEM (India), April 27 (Bernama) -- Paying homage to gods and goddesses comes in many forms, but the women in a rural village in southern India have an uncanny way of worshipping their goddess. They still refuse to wear blouses for fear their favourite goddess might punish them if they violate the age-old belief. It has been a century-old practice in Thottiayanur village, near Salem, about 350km from Chennai, for women of the Thotianaicken community to wrap themselves with only sarees and bare their bosoms. Only the saree's "pallu" (the throw of the saree) covers their upper body, the only reason being their fear of Goddess Bommakka, the Goddess of Earth who is the village's guardian goddess, punishing women who wear blouses. "Both females and males firmly believe that their goddess would punish them. This stigma etched in their mind cannot be wiped out until now," K. Sridevi, a social worker with the All India Democratic Women's Association, told Bernama. She said some women wear blouses without the knowledge of their families when they travel out of the village but remove the top and hide it in their bags upon their return, fearing that village elders would ostracize them. Fearing ill luck like diseases or natural calamity befalling the village, the community would excommunicate any female caught wearing blouses. Sridevi said the villagers often prohibit outsiders from entering their homes and only young girls are allowed to be clad in any normal dress until they attain puberty. "Some younger women have the desire to wear blouses now after they are influenced by television and movies but they are scared to give up their belief." Since the custom of baring their top without wearing a blouse has been deep-rooted in this community for generations, it cannot be done away in a moment," she added. So, even in the 21st century, wearing blouses remains a taboo for women in Thottiayanur village. **************************************************************************************** An interesting custom, but only a century old? I wonder - what did the Goddess do more than 100 years ago if a female villager wore a blouse? Or did the issue never come up until 100 years ago, because the women didn't wear clothes before that time? The clothing style of leaving a woman's breasts bare was quite common in the ancient Middle East and the Mediterranean - in Egypt, for instance, and on Crete; also among the Etruscans. I assume we're all familiar with photographs from those 1950's National Geographic magazines showing bare-breasted women of various African tribes (the photos the boys also giggled over); and I believe bare breasts were also the custom of female dress among the Polynesians and Hawaiians into the 18th century (before Europeans "visitors" corrupted the people). These Indian women, who modestly cover themselves with the "pallu" (the long trailing part of the saree that can be draped around and across the shoulders) are actually quite modest in comparison to other bare-breasted cultures!

Goddess Adishakti Draupadi

From KARAGA FESTIVAL Spectacle under the full moon The Karaga festival is a well-known tradition of the Thigala community in Karnataka and Bangalore in particular. A Citizen Matters pic feature. By Amoghavarsha JS 29 Apr 2008 [There are lots of photographs accompanying this article] Karaga is one of the oldest festivals in Karnataka and is also celebrated in Tamilnadu. In Bangalore, the Dharmarayaswamy Temple in Thigalarpet (central Bangalore, between the City Market area and Richmond Town) has been the focal point of this festival. Karaga ran its course in the third week of April this year. These pictures were taken on the night of 20 April, a full moon. About Karaga Adishakti Draupadi is the community deity of the Vanikula Kshatriya Thigala community, and Karaga is the 9-day festival observed by them in reverence to the Goddess. The Thigalas believe that Draupadi Shakti (power) brims over during the Karaga festival and the Karaga carrier dressing as a female is symbolic of Draupadi. The karaga itself is a mud pot, on which stands a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carrier's head. The karaga-bearer himself symbolises goddess Draupadi and is therefore adorned like a woman. The karaga-bearer leaves the temple around midnight. The goddess is brought for the darshan of the devotees from the temple on the head of the karaga-bearer. The festival's route in Bangalore begins at the Dharmarayaswamy temple and snakes through the old city via Cubbonpet, Ganigarapet, Avenue Road, Dodderpet, Akkipet, Balepet, Kilari Road, Nagarathpet and surrounding areas. The karaga is expertly balanced on the carrier's head. The carrier, in his temporary avatar as Draupadi, goes to the houses of the Veerakumaras where their families perform pooja to the karaga. The carrier is practically in a trance even as he dances along with the Veerakumaras (who are carrying their swords). By the time the procession returns to the temple it is dawn. ⊕

Chess Life May, 2008

Great Cover on the May, 2008 edition of Chess Life magazine, which was in the mail when I got home this evening. The photo, by Jeff Weiss, is a beauty, featuring Jennie Liu, Anna Matlin, Eve Zhurbinskiy and Alena Kats, who competed in the U.S. Amateur Team East event in February. I love the name of the team: "Real Gentlemen Would Resign." So true, so true... The oldest (I use that word advisedly) player on that team is 14! I hope we're seeing the future of American chess in these young femmes and that they play for a long long long time!

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Ladies' top standings after Round 9: 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 7,0 (draw with Cramling) IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 7,0 (draw with Muzychuk) 3 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7,0 (draw with Lahno) 4 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 7,0 with B, defeated Dembo; moved up from 5th to 4th, Dembo fell from 6th to 13th) 5 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 7,0 (defeated Stefanova) 6 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 6,5 (defeated Eva Moser, who fell from 21st to 35th) 7 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 6,5 8 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 6,5 (draw with Ushenina) 9 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 6,5 10 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 6,5 11 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 6,0 12 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 6,0 13 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 6,0 (lost to Zhukova) 14 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 6,0 15 WGM Stepovaia Tatiana 2378 RUS 6,0 16 WGM Melia Salome 2413 GEO 6,0 17 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 6,0 18 GM Peng Zhaoqin 2455 NED 6,0 19 WGM Voiska Margarita 2339 BUL 6,0 20 IM Socko Monika 2505 POL 6,0 21 WGM Zimina Olga 2363 ITA 6,0 22 WIM Nikoladze Sopio 2249 GEO 6,0 23 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 5,5 (Whoa! Stefanova lost with W to IM Almira Skripchenko (FRA 2443) who moved up from 7th place to 5th, and Stefanova fell from 8th all the way to 23rd!) 94 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 4,0 All right, good girl. She had a draw today behind B against WGM Marina Makropoulou (GRE 2254) and moved up from 100th to 94th. Tomorrow: Board 58: Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 4,0/4,0 WIM Popova Natalija 2239 BLR Only two more rounds to go! I'm rooting for Kazimova to finish at 50%, which I think would be a great result for her against the competition she has faced in this event.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2008 Individual European Chess Championships

Standings after Round 8. It's obvious that at least some of the ladies came to play chess, and they're not content for draws hoping someone above them makes an "oops." Cramling made a move; so did Yelena Dembo (good for her). Round 11 is coming up fast! 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 6,5 2 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 6,5 3 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 6,5 4 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 6,0 5 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 6,0 6 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 6,0 7 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 6,0 8 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 5,5 9 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 5,5 10 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 5,5 11 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 5,5 12 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 5,5 13 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 5,5 14 WGM Voiska Margarita 2339 BUL 5,5 15 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2466 GEO 5,5 16 WIM Batsiashvili Nino 2304 GEO 5,5 17 WGM Melia Salome 2413 GEO 5,5 18 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 5,5 19 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta 2397 POL 5,5 20 IM Gvetadze Sopio 2350 GEO 5,5 21 IM Moser Eva 2395 AUT 5,5 100 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 3,5 Narmin was not able to win with W against WGM Anna Sharevich, and dropped more than halfway down the standings. Tomorrow in Round 9 she will be black: Board 57: WGM Makropoulou Marina 2254 GRE 3,5/3,5 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE.

Monday, April 28, 2008


From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Python Great Serpent born of Mother Hera without the aid of Zeus, which meant the Mother's firstborn serpent antedated all father-gods, like the Ophion-serpent of the creatress Eurynome. Also like Lucifer, Python was the lightning-serpent who descended into the Deep to fertilize the Goddess. Mother Hera also bore Hephaestus without the aid of any male god, and Hephaestus was the same lightning-god who "fell from heaven."(1) Python personified the prophetic spirit of the Delphic oracle, whose prietstess was always the Pythoness even when the shrine was taken over by Apollo. Python lived in the earth-womb and knew its secrets, which is why he was an oracle. Some myths said Python was a Lord of Death because Apollo had killed him. But, like all other light-and-dark twins, Apollo and Python were really the same god. Sacred kings of Delphi always killed their predecessors, who were laid to rest in the stone omphalos where the Pythoness sat to commune with the oracular spirit.(2) Sometimes Python was the nether aspect of Apollo himself, the Black Sun corresponding to the celestial sun. This serpent-figure was the familiar Sata, Thoth, Ouroboros, Okeanos, Hermes, and other subterranean oracle-gods. Notes: (1) Guthrie, 73. (2) Graves, G.M., 1, 80-82.

Oooh, Treasure Trove!

Boy, 9, and grandfather find medieval silver treasure in Sweden Posted : Mon, 28 Apr 2008 13:36:04 GMT Stockholm - A 9-year-old boy's search for shrapnel on an old battlefield resulted in a huge find of medieval silver coins near the Lund in southern Sweden, local media reported Monday. Alexander Granhof, 9, and his grandfather made the recent discovery, dubbed "silverado" by archaeologists. "We went out on the field looking for cannonballs," Alexander Granhof told the online edition of the Sydsvenskan newspaper. "I found a piece of metal and thought at first it was shrapnel from a shotgun. I shouted to grandfather and then we discovered more and more coins," he added. In all, the pair found more than 4,600 coins on the field. Archaeologists, using metal detectors, boosted the tally to 7,000 but did not rule out that even more coins were hidden in the soil. "This is incredible," Bernd Gerlach of the Lund University Historical Museum told reporters. Both Alexander and his grandfather Jens Granhof are interested in archaeology and went treasure hunting after reading about a treasure buried somewhere in the province of Scania. No reward sum has yet been determined but the silver in the treasure alone was estimated to be worth 1.5 million kronor (250,000 dollars). During the 13th century when the coins were hidden, the sum could have fetched some 15 serfs, museum head Per Karsten said. The coins had been placed in two urns that were wrapped in cloth. The treasure was likely buried during troubled times, and one theory was that the coins were church taxes collected from nearby farms. The find included thousands of English coins with a high silver content and some other markers that likely were used locally.

Oooh, Jewelry!

2,200-year-old gemstones found in Iran
Sun, 27 Apr 2008 10:23:37

Ancient priceless gemstones and jewels belonging to postdated Achaemenid era have been unearthed in Iran's southern province of Fars.

Archeologists succeeded in discovering over 20 pieces of 2,200-year-old bracelets, necklaces and earrings adorned with agate, ruby and opal in ancient graves behind Salman-e Farsi Dam in Iran's southern city of Yarj.

“The discovery of such gemstones is a unique achievement. Agates in various colors, ivory, opal and rock crystal (Quartz) in many colors were used to embellish the bracelets, necklaces and earrings,” said Alireza Ja'fari Zand, head of the archeological team at the dam.

“Discovery of jewels and gemstones in Sassanid and postdated Achaemenid graves is unprecedented,” he added.

Opal, which is described by Shakespeare as a miracle and the Queen of Gems, is depicted as a symbol of hope, happiness and truth in the East.

Ivory and clay were also used in making some of the necklaces.

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Here are the standings of the top 20 after Round 7: 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 5,5 2 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 5,5 3 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 5,5 4 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 5,5 5 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 5,5 6 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 5,5 7 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 5,5 8 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 5,5 9 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 5,0 10 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 5,0 11 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 5,0 WGM Stepovaia Tatiana 2378 RUS 5,0 13 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 5,0 14 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 5,0 15 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2466 GEO 5,0 16 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 5,0 17 WGM Melia Salome 2413 GEO 5,0 18 IM Moser Eva 2395 AUT 5,0 19 IM Peptan Corina-Isabela 2415 ROU 4,5 20 WIM Nemcova Katerina 2344 CZE 4,5 69 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 3,5 Narmin dropped in the standings after losing her Round 7 game, and is now at 50%. Let's see what she does with W in Round 8: Board 47: Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 3,5/3,5 WGM Sharevich Anna 2311 BLR So far, there are no real surprises in the top 20. The usual crop of the higher rated players are settling in at the top. I would like to see Cramling make a move.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

PBS Secrets of the Dead

I've seen this show from time to time on our local PBS stations, but it is not broadcast on a regular basis, unforunately. The summary of this show particularly caught my attention:

From The New York Times
Going for the Grisly Gives a Show Staying Power

... The series, produced by WNET in New York, starts its eighth season on Wednesday on most stations. It has been well received by critics and has scooped up numerous awards, including several Cine Golden Eagles, which honor documentaries, and three Emmy nominations.

“The stories that work either shed some light on a moment in history we know a lot about or a moment that has been forgotten,” said Jared Lipworth, executive producer of the series.
There are also few well-known names attached to “Doping for Gold,” the May 7 “Secrets of the Dead” episode, which goes back to the East Germany of the 1960s, ’70 and ’80s, when officials systematically gave testosterone and steroids to athletes. The story has particular resonance, Mr. Lipworth said, because of today’s sports steroid scandals.

At the centerpiece of the “Secrets of the Dead” episode is the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, when the artificially enhanced East German delegation won 40 gold medals, and its women’s swim team captured 11 of 13 events.

Behind the scenes the young female athletes — without their knowledge or consent — were given so many drugs that one was masculinized and underwent a sex-change operation. Others later suffered serial miscarriages and serious health problems.

“They were very strong women; they were very fast; we thought they were machines,” Wendy Boglioli, a member of the 1976 United States swim team, says in the film.

If nothing else, the episode is an important cautionary tale for young athletes today about the dangers of doping, Ms. Boglioli said in an interview. “If you don’t buy that cheating is wrong, look at what it does medically,” Ms. Boglioli said. “That’s what’s paramount in this film.”

I cannot say that I remember the summer Olympics from 1976; I vaguely recall doping scandals from much later Olympics. So - who were these women and what happened to them?

The photo is Kornelia Ender, who won 4 gold medals for East Germany at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. I cannot believe that no one questioned the physique on this broad back then! I've never seen a woman who looks like this in real life. For Goddess sake!

I found this little information about the after-effects of the massive drugs that were (supposedly without their consent) given to the East German female athletes:

The women on the 1976 swim team were teens and preteens when they were given these steroids. Now, they report many adverse effects from this “secret” drug use including birth defects, enlarged hearts and gynecological problems – including one team member who has had multiple miscarriages (Naimzadeh).

Wow! A Turner to Be Auctioned!

I am hot hot hot for Turner - have been for years, since I first saw a few of his paintings in some of those cheesy coffee-table art books more than 30 years ago. He does something with light that I've never seen any other artist ever duplicate. Unfortunately, I cannot even afford to buy a scrap from a Turner painting. This one will start at $10 million! Ohmygoddess! From The New York Times Arts, Briefly Turner Landscape to Be Auctioned Compiled by LAWRENCE VAN GELDER Published: April 25, 2008 A landscape by the British master J. M. W. Turner will be offered at auction by Sotheby’s in London on July 9 at a starting price of $10 million, Reuters reported. The oil-on-canvas painting, “Pope’s Villa at Twickenham,” a depiction of the destruction of the poet Alexander Pope’s house, was bought by the art patron John Leicester in 1808 as soon as it went on view in Turner’s gallery. In 1827 Leicester sold it to the collector James Morrison, whose descendants have passed it from generation to generation. Referring to the artist’s interest in Pope’s house, Emmeline Hallmark, head of British art at Sotheby’s, said Turner “couldn’t understand how an artifact from the past could be wantonly destroyed.” The proceeds will help pay for the restoration of Sudeley Castle, where the work has hung for 40 years.

Update: Lewis Chess Pieces

From Stalemate for Lewis chessmen Published Date: 22 April 2008 By David Maddox NEIL MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, has rejected calls to return the Lewis chessman to Scotland. Mr McGregor said the historic chess set, famously found on a sand dune near Uig on the Isle of Lewis in 1831, should stay in London. He also claimed the Scottish Government's bid to have the relics repatriated was shaky. "When they were found the first decision of the Scots was to sell them," he said. "The British Museum bought them as a collector of last resort to keep them together." Currently there are 82 figures in the British Museum and 11 in the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We will continue to campaign for a reunited set of Lewis chessmen. It's very clear that, if found today, the chessmen would have been allocated to museums in Scotland."

Temple of Cybele at Balchik

More Unique Findings Unearthed in Cybele Temple in Bulgaria's Balchik 23 April 2008, Wednesday A total of four antique statues were unearthed in the temple of the Phrygian Goddess Cybele in Bulgaria's coastal town of Balchik on Wednesday. The team of the archaeologists Igor Lazarenko, Elina Mircheva and Radostina Encheva discovered two Cybele's statues and two other, believed to be statues of Aphrodite and Dionysus. During the excavation works, there have been found also two relieves and a limestone slab with a lion embossment. The first finding in the temple, believed to be the biggest one in Bulgaria, was discovered at the end of April last year, when archaeologists found a 30-centimeter-long marble statue of Cybele. "The statue has no head and part of the goddess' palm is also missing," the curator of the local museum Radostina Encheva said. It emerged that a column with a Latin inscription and an architectural element with bulls' heads were discovered on the same spot. Among the other precious findings, discovered on the spot is a 50-centimeter-high Doric column with a well-preserved inscription addressed to the Roman emperor Valerius Licinianus Licinius. The temple's walls were at least 2.5 meters high, and the base of the building is huge, compared to other important buildings of the same age. A huge fire or a disastrous earthquake destroyed the temple, the archaeologists believe. Originally a Phrygian goddess, Cybele was a deification of the Earth Mother who was worshiped in Anatolia from Neolithic times. Like Gaia (the "Earth") or her Minoan equivalent Rhea, Cybele embodies the fertile earth, a goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature, wild animals. Her title "potnia theron", which is also associated with the Minoan Great Mother, alludes to her ancient Neolithic roots as "Mistress of the Animals". She becomes a life-death-rebirth deity in connection with her consort, her son Attis. *********************************************************************************** From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Cybele Great Mother of the Gods from Ida - Magna Mater Deum Idea - brought to Rome from Phrygia in 204 B.C. Her triumphal procession was "later glorified by marvelous legends, and the poets told of edifying miracles that had occurred during Cybele's voyage."(1) Her holy aniconic image was carried to Rome by order of the Cumaean Sybil, a personification of the same cave-dwelling Goddess herself. As the Great Mother of all Asia Minor, she was worshipped especially on Mt. Ida, Mt. Sipylus, Cyzicus, Sardis, and Pessinus in Galatia.(2) Her festivals were called ludi, "games."(3) A highlight of her worship was the Taurobolium, baptism in the blood of a sacred bull, who represented her dying-god consort, Attis. Her temle stood on the Vatican, where St. Peter's basilica stands today, up to the 4th century A.D. when Christians took it over.(4) She was one of the leading deities of Rome in the heyday of the mystery cults, along with Hecate and Demeter of Eleusis.(5) Variations of Cybele's name - Kubaba, Kuba, Kube - have been linked with the Ka'aba stone at Mecca, a meteoric "cube" that bore the Goddess's symbol and was once known as the Old Woman.(6) Other names for Cybele assimilated her to every significant form of the Great Goddess. She was the Berecynthian Mother (genetrix Berecynthia). She was Rhea Lobrine, Goddess of sacred caves, known as her "marriage bowers."(7) She was called Augusta, the Great One; Alma, the Nourishing One; Sanctissima, the Most Holy One. Roman emperors like Augustus, Claudius, and Antoninus Pius regarded her as the supreme deity of the empire. Augustus established his home facing her temple, and looked upon his wife, the empress Livia Augusta, as an earthly incarnation of her.(8) The emperor Julian wrote an impassioned address to her: Who is then the Mother of the gods? She is the source of the intellectual and creative gods, who in their turn guide the visible gods; she is both the mother and the spouse of the mighty Zeus; she came into being next to and together with the great crator; she is in control of every form of life, and the cause of all generation; she easily brings to perfection all things that are; she is the motherless maiden, enthroned at the side of Zeus, and in very truth is the Mother of all the Gods.(9) Fathers of the Christian church vehemently disagreed. St. Augustine called Cybele a harlot mother, "the mother, not of the gods, but of the demons."(10) One of her names, Antaea, made her the mythical mother of the earth-giant Antaeus, who was invincible as long as his feet remained in contact with his Mother's body, the earth. Heracles conquered him by holding him up in the air. Churchmen believed the powers of witches came from the same sort of contact with Mother Earth. Arresting officers often carried witches to prison in a large basket, so their feet would not touch the ground.(11) There was a Christian sect founded in the 2nd century A.D. by Montanus (Mountain man), a priest of Cybele, who identified Attis with Christ. [Indeed, the similarities in the myths of both gods are compelling]. Montanus maintained that women were agents of the Goddess, and could preach and prophesy as well as men. This contradicted the orthodox Pauline sect, which followed St. Paul's rule that women must never speak publicly on holy subjects.(12) During the 4th century, Montanist Christianity was declared a heresy, and many of its adherents were slain. Some Montanists in Asia Minor were locked in their churches and burned alive.(13) Notes: (1) Cumont, O.R.R.P., 47. (2) Encyc. Brit., "Great Mother of the Gods." (3) James, 246. (4) Clodd, 79; Frazer, G.B., 408. (5) Angus, 143. (6) Vermaseren, 22; Harding, 41. (7) Gaster, 609. (8) Vermaseren, 27, 53, 83, 85, 177-78. (9) Vermaseren, 86-87. (10) Vermaseren, 181. (11) Robbins, 334; Lea unabridged, 814. (12) Reinach, 278. (13) Chamberlin, A.M., ch. 1. Related: Bibi Nani (Cult of Nania). Compare: Kubaba.

Items from Isis

A couple of items from Isis:

Egypt: Tomb of Cleopatra and lover to be uncovered

Cairo, 24 April(AKI) - Archaeologists have revealed plans to uncover the 2000 year-old tomb of ancient Egypt's most famous lovers, Cleopatra and the Roman general Mark Antony later this year. Zahi Hawass, prominent archaeologist and director of Egypt's superior council for antiquities announced a proposal to test the theory that the couple were buried together.

He discussed the project in Cairo at a media conference about the ancient pharaohs. Hawass said that the remains of the legendary Egyptian queen and her Roman lover, Mark Antony, were inside a temple called Tabusiris Magna, 30 kilometres from the port city of Alexandria in northern Egypt.

Until recently access to the tomb has been hindered because it is under water, but archaeologists plan to drain the site so they can begin excavation in November. Among the clues to suggest that the temple may contain Cleopatra's remains is the discovery of numerous coins with the face of the queen. According to Hawas, Egyptologists have also uncovered a 120-metre-long underground tunnel with many rooms, some of which could contain more details about Cleopatra.

Born in Rome, Mark Antony was a military general and commander, as well as supporter of Julius Caesar. He was also Cleopatra's lover and bore him a son, called Caesarion. After Julius Caesar's assassination in March 44 B.C., Antony formed a triumvirate with Octavian, also known as Augustus, and Marcus Lepidus. Civil war ensued in Rome due to disagreements between Antony and Octavian, who was Julius Caesar's heir and who later became Rome's first emperor. Antony was subsequently defeated by Octavian and he later committed suicide.

Cleopatra, who came to power at 18 years of age, was once the ruler of Egypt and considered the last of seven queens of the same name. She was famous for her intelligence, her beauty and her political power. Cleopatra who also bore Mark Antony twins, committed suicide after his death in August 30 B.C.

What happened to the children?
Show Danica The Money
By Tom Van Riper, Apr 25, 3:43 am EDT

It’s official: Danica Patrick is no longer a novelty. She’s a champion.

And it’s only matter of time before sports marketers see her in a whole new light, as both an individual endorser and for what she can bring to the sport of auto racing. By capturing first place in Sunday’s Indy 300 race in Motegi, Japan, Patrick shook free of critics who have downplayed her sports celebrity as more flash than substance.

Being the first female driver to hold a lead in the Indianapolis 500, as Patrick first did three years ago before ultimately finishing fourth, does plenty to get you noticed. But to make it last, it’s best to get that first win under your belt.

“It translates into seven or eight figures in marketing and endorsements,” says Darren Prince, who runs Prince Marketing Group, a sports and entertainment company that counts Magic Johnson and Dennis Rodman among its clients.

Patrick, recently turned 26, has already scored heavily on the endorsement circuit. The $5 million she raked in between June 2006 and June 2007 ranked her fifth on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list of female athletes, behind tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, and golfers Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam. After signing on with Andretti Green Racing, Patrick has secured Motorola as her chief car sponsor, backed up by XM Satellite Radio and Go Daddy.

She also pitches the Civic sedan for Honda and Secret antiperspirant for Procter & Gamble.

“In the eyes of brand decision makers, she was a personality who happened to be a very good race car driver,” says Dan Migala, who runs a sports business newsletter called the Migala Report. “Now she can be marketed as an athlete. She has the label of racing champion.”

Until now, Patrick has often been lumped into that space traditionally linked to tennis whizzes Anna Kournikova, a highly ranked player who failed to win a major tournament, and Andre (“Image is Everything”) Agassi, in the days before he broke through and won a Wimbledon title.

And that could continue if she doesn’t follow through as a consistent top-10 driver who nets an occasional first-place finish in major races. That’s what will determine whether she goes down as auto racing’s version of Chris Evert, a multiple champion whose popularity and endorsement opportunities lasted long past her playing days, or of Tracy Austin, who had just a brief run as the world’s top-ranked female player before faltering. One-hit wonders only go so far too.

“Multiple wins could carry her to legacy status,” Migala says.
Sports marketing experts don’t particularly expect Patrick to succeed in wooing too many traditional male racing fans, who tend to only grudgingly accept a woman on the circuit. The value of her breakthrough comes in potential numbers of new fans and new dollars that could be drawn to the sport. Cultivating a new fan base usually starts with a novelty.

Not that the classically good-looking Patrick, who recently posed for a spread in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, doesn’t have her share of male fans. Without winning, marketing through sex appeal only goes so far. But as a complement to winning, it’s a pretty big asset in getting to the next level. Just ask Tom Brady and Derek Jeter.

The top five:
1. Maria Sharapova: Slideshow
2. Michelle Wie: Slideshow
3. Serena Williams: Slideshow
4. Annika Sorenstam: Slideshow
5. Danica Patrick: Slideshow
World’s Top Earning Female Athletes

Danica Patrick's official website - PLEASE ditch the flash and the music, yech!

Chinese Thugs

Throngs of Han Chinese "students" attacked protesters in South Korea during the Olympic Torch Relay. Story from The New York Times Sunday April 27, 2008 I have admiration for the Chinese civilization - at least, the ancient part. Now it seems the ethnic Han Chinese are just thugs. They do not understand the exercise of free speech, political freedom and the right of free people to peacefully assemble and protest. They beat up anyone who disagrees with the official Communist line and are acting like "1984" automatons. These people are described as college students, but they are frigging idiots - no doubt future leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. I hope the South Korean government arrests every single one of them and deports them back to China and never lets them back into their country. When lone protesters demanded that China stop repatriating North Korean refugees, they were quickly surrounded by jeering Chinese. Near the park, Chinese students surrounded and beat a small group of protesters, news reports said. In another scuffle, at the city center where the five-hour torch run ended, Chinese surrounded several Tibetans and South Korean supporters who unfurled pro-Tibet banners, and kicked and punched them, witnesses said. Norbert Vollertsen, a German doctor and advocate for North Korean refugees, found himself surrounded by jeering Chinese students on Sunday. “This torch run reminds me of Hitler, who first invented it in 1936 to divert world attention from human rights problems in Germany under the disguise of 'world harmony,'” he said.

The Recession Diet

Peanut butter and jelly instead of Hamburger Helper and dog food mixed with human food instead of beef stew. Why aren't we having food riots here in the United States? From The New York Times By MICHAEL BARBARO and ERIC DASH Published: April 27, 2008 Stung by rising gasoline and food prices, Americans are finding creative ways to cut costs on routine items like groceries and clothing, forcing retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to decode the tastes of a suddenly thrifty public. Spending data and interviews around the country show that middle- and working-class consumers are starting to switch from name brands to cheaper alternatives, to eat in instead of dining out and to fly at unusual hours to shave dollars off airfares. Though seemingly small, the daily trade-offs they are making — more pasta and less red meat, more video rentals and fewer movie tickets — amount to an important shift in consumer behavior. In Ohio, Holly Levitsky is replacing the Lucky Charms cereal in her kitchen with Millville Marshmallows and Stars, a less expensive store brand. In New Hampshire, George Goulet is no longer booking hotel rooms at the Hilton, favoring the lower-cost Hampton Inn. And in Michigan, Jennifer Olden is buying Gain laundry detergent instead of the full-price Tide. Behind the belt-tightening — and brand-swapping — is the collision of several economic forces that are pinching people’s budgets or, at least, leaving them in little mood to splurge. The price of household necessities has surged, with milk topping $4 a gallon in many stores and regular gasoline closing in on $3.60 a gallon nationwide. Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.” “It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,” he said, “but it is certainly headed in that direction.” Rest of article.

Queen's Gambit

A book review from (Richmond Times) Sunday April 27, 2008 By JAY STRAFFORD TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER When art and life connect, can the intersection of art and death be far behind? Not in Diane A.S. Stuckart's The Queen's Gambit (336 pages, Berkley Prime Crime, $23.95). It's 1483 in Milan, and Ludovico Sforza, the acting duke, has arranged a living chess game to settle a dispute over a painting with the French ambassador. The painter is none other than Leonardo da Vinci, whom the duke chooses to arrange the game. When one of the bishops is found fatally stabbed, the duke gives Leonardo the task of discovering the killer. With the help of one of his apprentices, Dino (the basis of a fascinating subplot), Leonardo solves the case. And there's a clue that's reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Stuckart creates her plot with confidence and describes Renaissance Italy with expertise. "The Queen's Gambit" is perfectly played.

2008 Individual European Chess Championships

Standings of the top 20 after Round 6: 1 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 5,0 2 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 5,0 3 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 5,0 4 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 4,5 5 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 4,5 6 IM Peptan Corina-Isabela 2415 ROU 4,5 7 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 4,5 8 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 4,5 9 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 4,5 10 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 4,5 11 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 4,5 12 WIM Batsiashvili Nino 2304 GEO 4,5 13 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2449 GER 4,5 14 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 4,5 15 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2466 GEO 4,5 16 WGM Golubenko Valentina 2253 CRO 4,5 17 IM Matveeva Svetlana 2420 RUS 4,0 18 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 4,0 19 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 4,0 20 WGM Stepovaia Tatiana 2378 RUS 4,0 39 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 3,5. Kazimova has had a tough two rounds. In Round 6, she lost with W to IM Monika Socko (POL 2505), who had 3.0. In Round 5, she lost with B to IM Victoria Cmilyte (LTH 2466) who had 3.5. In Round 7, she will once again have B against IM Sopio Gvetadze (GEO 2350), with 3.5. Key match-ups in Round 7: Board 1: IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 5,0/5,0 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR Board 2: GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 4,5/5,0 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS Board 3: GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 4,5/4,5 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2449 GER Board 4: IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 4,5/4,5 WIM Batsiashvili Nino 2304 GEO
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