Saturday, July 19, 2008

Medieval Russian Chess Piece Excavated

Archaeologists find 600-year-old chess piece in northwest Russia 14:51 18/ 07/ 2008 VELIKY NOVGOROD, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - Archaeologists in northwest Russia have discovered a chess piece dating back to the late 14th century, a spokesman for local archaeologists said on Friday. "The king, around several centimeters tall, is made of solid wood, possibly of juniper," the spokesman said. The excavations are being carried out at the site of the Palace of Facets, in the Novgorod Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod. The palace is believed to be the oldest in Russia. According to the city chronicles, chess as a competitive game emerged in Veliky Novgorod, the foremost historic city in northwest Russia, in the 13th century, but was banned in 1286 by the church. However, besides the king, archeologists in the region have found a total of 82 chess pieces dating back to at least the 14th century, showing that the game remained popular among the local population despite the church ban. In late May, archaeologists in the ancient city uncovered a number of medieval baby bottles. Medieval Slavs made feeding bottles by attaching leather bags to the wider part of a cow's horn. The babies drank milk from holes made in the tip of the horns. The first historical mention of Veliky Novgorod was in 859 AD. City chronicles say that by 862 AD it was already a stop on the trading route between the Baltics and Byzantium. The city will celebrate its 1150th anniversary in 2009.

What Does This Stone Really Mean???

Vacation has begun. Posts until 7/28 will be sporadic. From the Academics ponder riddle of church’s ancient stone By Liam Murphy July 19, 2008 (There is a photograph of part of the "stone" but I'm not going to use up valuable bandwidth publishing it here, it does not show anything!) AN ANCIENT Viking burial stone kept in a south Wirral church has become the centre of an archaeological dispute. The stone at the Church of St Mary and St Helen, in Neston town centre, which has been broken over time prior to its discovery, clearly depicts a man and a woman with an angel flying overhead. Archaeologist and TV presenter Mark Olly said the stone is “as unique as the death mask of Tutankhamun”, but has disputed the interpretation placed on it by other Viking experts. The stone depicts a warrior and a woman who – say orthodox archaeological interpretations – are a couple, with the stone possibly marking their joint burial site. But Mr Olly insists the woman depicted on the ornately carved stone is actually a Valkyrie, which would make this already unique artefact even more intriguing. The stone itself has had a chequered history, having been used as a lintel in the church in the 1980s, and eventually recovered and put on display. The top portion of the stone has been broken off at some time, taking with it key parts of the carving. Mr Olly said: “This stone shows the story of a Viking’s life, you see him with a spear, deer hunting, and it could also be the oldest depiction of jousting. “I think it shows a warrior and he is dying. When you look at the other carved characters, they are all men.” This view is disputed by other scholars who see this particular part of the imagery on the stone as a wife beckoning her husband. Wirral Viking specialist Professor Stephen Harding prefers the view that the stone is already fascinating for a number of reasons. He emphasises that he and the other members of the research team working on the cross, Dr Martin Cooper of National Museums Liverpool, Dr Roger White, Academic Director of the Ironbridge Institute in Shropshire and Dr Peter Rossiter believe the Viking couple are the deceased man and wife whom the cross is commemorating. In a bid to come to a conclusion over the real meaning of the stone, it has been scanned by experts from NML and an animation shows it being attached to what could be the missing portion. The scanning process also means the rock could be recreated – in stone or some other substance, depending on cost – and used as a tourist attraction for Neston and the church.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chinese Authorities Attack Grieving Parents

From The New York Times Grieving Chinese Parents Protest School Collapse By EDWARD WONG Published: July 17, 2008 BEIJING — Hundreds of parents protesting shoddy school construction that they said led to the deaths of their children in the May earthquake were harassed by riot police officers on Tuesday and criticized by local government officials, the parents said Wednesday. Local officials were also trying to buy the silence of the parents by offering them about $8,800 if they signed a contract agreeing not to raise the school construction issue again, several parents said. The confrontation between the parents and the police officers erupted on Tuesday morning as 200 parents protested outside government offices in Mianzhu, a city in the earthquake-ravaged Sichuan Province, said Liu Guangyuan, a protester who lost a son when a school collapsed. It was the latest in a series of protests held by grieving parents, many of whom lost their only child in the earthquake. With an eye to the approach of the Olympic Games in Beijing next month, however, the Chinese authorities have ordered the police to crack down on the rallies. Chinese news organizations have also been told by the central government not to report on the schools, and all journalists have been barred from approaching the collapse sites. The parents in Mianzhu on Tuesday were demanding that the government offer a full report on why Dongqi Middle School collapsed, killing at least 200 of the school’s 900 students. The Chinese government has reported that a total of 7,000 classrooms collapsed during the May 12 earthquake, and by some estimates 10,000 of the nearly 70,000 confirmed deaths were of schoolchildren. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, many local governments promised to investigate the school collapses, but parents across Sichuan Province complained that they had yet to receive any reports. The parents of the Dongqi schoolchildren gathered at 10 a.m. and demanded to meet the mayor, but no officials came out for any serious discussion, said Mr. Liu, a carpenter. Instead, an official, saying that the parents were violating public security laws, “ordered us to leave within two minutes,” Mr. Liu said. “Then the riot police started pushing and dragging. Some of the outraged parents got into physical confrontations with the police. I saw eight or nine parents carried away to patrol cars parked on the side.” Mr. Liu said he had heard that the parents were taken to a police station, but it was unclear exactly what happened to them. A person answering the telephone at the Mianzhu government offices on Wednesday said officials were in a meeting and could not talk to reporters. Mr. Liu said that the parents of Dongqi students were offended by the offer of money from the Sichuan provincial government if they agreed to drop the issue. The amount “is far from enough to appease the grief,” he said. Mr. Liu said the parents of children who attended Dongqi Middle School would petition their case at higher levels of government. Dongqi Middle School was built in 1975 and renovated in 1981, Mr. Liu said. “When my son entered the school in 2006, they promised to build new buildings,” he added. “This was written in the enrollment welcome letter. But they didn’t keep their word, and then the earthquake happened.” Zhang Longfu, whose daughter died in another Mianzhu school that collapsed, said parents at that school had also been offered $8,800 plus a pension upon retirement in their 60s if they signed a contract acknowledging that their children died in the schools because of the earthquake and agreeing not to disturb reconstruction efforts. “Parents are generally concerned about the contract and are not willing to sign it because they’re afraid that by signing it, they’ll be admitting that their children’s deaths are not related to the shoddy school building,” said Mr. Zhang, whose daughter died in the collapse of Fuxin No. 2 Primary School. Mr. Zhang said some leaders of the parents group met on Tuesday with the vice mayor of Mianzhu, who he said acknowledged that the schools were poorly built and had some hidden safety problems but insisted that the earthquake was ultimately responsible for the collapses. Hundreds of parents also held a rally on Tuesday in Shifang to protest government attempts to give them compensation in return for silence, according to a report from Radio Free Asia, a nonprofit news agency that receives financing from the United States government. The report said that the local government was offering to hand out $14,600 to each household in which a child had died in a school collapse. Zhang Jing and Huang Yuanxi contributed research.

Mosaic Mystery

What happened to the Roman era mosaic floor that was reported there in the 1930's? Mosaic mystery 8:50am Wednesday 16th July 2008 By Emma Clark » FEARS have been raised that parts of the city's old Roman town - which lies beneath Verulamium Park - have disappeared. Archaeologists say there is a genuine concern that parts of the old town could be missing. Their concerns came to light on Sunday during a dig. The experienced team from St Albans District Council dug up part of a second century manor house buried under the park expecting to find a colourful mosaic tiled floor, discovered by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930s. But instead they were greeted with remains of the room's foundations. Simon West, who heads the team, believes Sir Mortimer could have taken the ancient pieces and sold them on for a penny each in the 1930s. Now he fears that other ruins recorded by him in the area may not be there either. Mr West, who has been digging with his team since last Monday, said: "It was certainly a surprise to discover that it was no longer there. "We wanted to dig up this room to take modern records and see if it had changed, so we have fulfilled our brief but unfortunately in a negative way. "It does make me worry whether this is a one-off or whether other parts of the old Roman town that were recorded by him are also missing. "We will have to look into making further excavations to find out." But there could be other reasons for the mystery. Mr West added: "There could be two other explanations. Mr Wheeler could have taken the pieces to complete another more important mosaic or he could have sent them off for conservation work which was never completed, but you would have expected him to have recorded that. "This is not a criticism of him if he has taken them and sold them on, there were no controls in those days so he would have been quite free to take them, but it would have been nice if he had told us." Verulamium Park, named after the Roman town, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country and is recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The site was dug up for the first time in the 1930s by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who was hoping to find a British Pompeii, and recorded all his discoveries. Two months ago the council was given permission by English Heritage to excavate the small area - the first dig on the site for ten years - and tied in the work with National Archaeology Week.

Supporting Local Chess: Announcements

  • From the Advocate, for Berkshire and Bennington Counties North Berkshire Chess Club, ongoing, Wednesdays 6-9 p.m., membership free and open to all. Mass MoCA, 85 Marshall St., North Adams, MA. Info: Rick Dovey, 802-823-5545.
  • From (Northwest Arkansas News) - I don't know if this is a weekly meeting or an announcement for a special event. Fayetteville Chess Club, 7-11 p. m., Arsaga's, 2418 N. Gregg Ave., Fayetteville; 521-7018.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Goddess Adeona a/k/a Abeona

I'd never heard of this Goddess! I came across her name tonight under a search for "goddess news" in a service that offers to track down your stolen laptop computer, LOL! Well, no laughing matter to someone who has had a laptop stolen.

The ad said Adeona was named after the Roman goddess credited with guiding children back to their parents.

So, I thought I'd do some digging about to see if I could find out more about her.

According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, in a brief entry by Micha F. Lindemans: The Roman goddess who guides the child back home, after it has left the parental house for the first time.

Not very informative. Then I found this intriguing tidbit at Wikipedia: 145 Adeona is a rather large Main belt asteroid. Its surface is very dark, and composition likely of primitive carbonaceous material. The Adeona family of asteroids is named after it. It was discovered by C. H. F. Peters on June 3, 1875 in Clinton, New York and named after Abeona, a protector of children in Roman mythology.

So, the goddess is also called Abeona? She is also called Adiona according to this entry from "The Obscure Goddess Online Directory" (goddess, I just love the internet!):

Adiona is the Roman Goddess of Safe Return. Like Abeona, She is sometimes considered an aspect of Juno; They both protect children, like Juno, who as the Roman Goddess of Mothers is especially concerned with the young. Together Adiona and Abeona teach the young child to walk and watch over her or his first steps; this theme of protecting the first steps of a child also extends to their protection of grown children who move away from home for the first time. Adiona's name comes from the Latin verb adeo, "to approach or visit" as well as "to take possession of one's inheritance"; perhaps the connection between these two meanings lies in the idea of "to come home again". Adiona is believed to watch over children as they go to and from school, and to especially preside over bringing them home safely. She is also said to protect travellers. Though it might look it, Her name is not related to the Spanish adios, "goodbye", which means "go with God". Alternate spelling: Adeona

Abeona is specifically a Goddess of Partings: She is usually mentioned with Adiona, who is in charge of returning the child home safely.

Her name is not related to Spanish 'adios?' Really? So the experts say. But I've formed my own personal opinion on the subject, and I'll never again hear the word "Adios" without thinking of this Goddess who is in charge of guiding the footsteps of grown children home safely once again. After all, my Webster's says that 'adios,' from Latin root words a (from ad) and Deus (God) is "used to express farewell." Notice what this Webster's Dictionary definition does not say: it does not say this means "go with God." Ha!

I understand that vayo con dios mean "go with God," too. Well, they could mean the same thing, but common sense tells me that adios is the older usage that got co-opted by the patriarchy with its original meaning being erased over time, a mother goddess guiding the steps of her grown children back home once again.

Armed Forces Chess Star Becomes U.S. Citizen

From Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah
New citizen soldier looks forward to voting
By Amy Macavinta
Published: July 16, 2008
(Photo: Airman 1st Class Elena Dulger)

Some Americans have never registered to vote, and some who register don't always make it to the voting booth. And yet Hill Air Force Base Airman 1st Class Elena Dulger's face lights up the room when she talks about her first chance to participate in a democratic election.

Dulger, 21, is taking her oath of citizenship today, seven years and one day after meeting her father at JFK International Airport in New York. After becoming an official U.S. citizen, Dulger will get her passport, and she plans on registering to vote.

"A lot of people don't realize how important (voting) is," she said. "It is a privilege."

As an American, with her new passport in hand, Dulger will be traveling to Brussels, Belgium, where she will represent the U.S. Air Force in the NATO Chess Championship in August. She just won second place in the 2008 Armed Forces Inter-Service Chess Tournament in Arizona and will now be the first female player to compete in the NATO competition.

Dulger was born and raised in Moldova, a country that was once part of the Soviet Union. Both of her parents were teachers, but teachers there make $20 to $30 per month, and often less in small towns, she said.

Dulger's father taught her and her brothers to play chess at an early age. But it never was just a way to pass the time. It was a way "to jump over that Iron Curtain." Looking back, Dulger thinks her father had a grand plan for a better life.

It isn't always easy to obtain a visa for work, Dulger said. But a visa to represent Moldova in a competition was a different story. She has competed in France, Spain, Ukraine, Greece and other countries.

She arrived in the United States when she was 14, joining her father and a brother, who had arrived six years earlier. Her mother, who is divorced from her father, only recently immigrated, and another brother remains in Moldova.

In Moldova, poverty was much more than lacking the monetary means for survival. Dulger describes a culture difference that is so vast it is "like another planet." In her native country, a person could work two jobs and still have a hard time providing for a family. Volunteer work is simply not an option.

"You are so into trying to take care of your family that you don't have time for it," she said.

Dulger said the average life expectancy in Moldova is 50 to 60 years. In contrast, she stands amazed in a country where people can return to school to get a second degree and start a whole new life at 50.

Even education is entirely different, with options available here that are not even career fields in Moldova.

"You don't have to be what anyone expects you to be," Dulger said. "You can be anything you want to be."

That wasn't an easy choice for Dulger. She had gone through high school and enrolled in college. But she dropped her classes before the term had even begun.

"I wanted to do everything but was passionate about nothing," she said. "I didn't want to get a degree that I wasn't passionate about."

Dulger enlisted in the U.S. Air Force two years ago. Immigrants into the United States are allowed to join the military on a temporary basis, under certain restrictions. One is a provision that they become citizens before they are allowed to re-enlist. While military service is required in Moldova, it is an option in the United States — one that also gives her an alternate means of completing her education and a sense of accomplishment.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is something Dulger has waited a long time for. "I can do more," she said. "It opens a lot of doors for me, even in the military."

© 2008 Deseret News Publishing Company All rights reserved

Chess - Scares Away Drug Dealers

Cleveland, Ohio
July 16, 2008
Buckeye statue designed to inspire neighborhood renaissance

CLEVELAND -- There's a new statue that's starting to get attention in Cleveland, not just because of its size, but because of where it is.

On East 118th Street and Buckeye Road, what people talk about the most is the size of the new statue/sculpture. It towers over anyone walking or driving by.

It's an 18-foot, one-and-a-half ton green figure of a man celebrating with one hand while playing a trumpet with the other. A little dog listens on the side.

"My daughter keeps running up to the dog, because she thinks it a real dog," said neighbor Denise Thomas.

The statue celebrates the yearly jazz and blues festival on Buckeye. One was held just last weekend.

There's a broader and deeper purpose though, for the sculpture and the plaza that surrounds it.

The $400,000 plaza is the result of a collaboration of several private, public and foundation organizations -- The Buckeye Area Development Corporation, The City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Progress Inc., Cleveland Public Art, RTA, Parkworks, and Charter One Bank. "The plan is to turn Buckeye into an arts and cultural district," said Buckeye Development Director John Hopkins.

Through the year, the corner has has been known for fights, drug and gang activity. Now it has been reconstructed with the hope of building up the neighborhood rather than tearing it down. There's a tile bench surrounding the statue with pictures and information about musical instruments. There are also tile chess boards.

City Councilman Ken Johnson says he's already seen some older men playing chess there at 8 p.m. recently. "You know the drug dealers are not going to hang around when you've got guys playing chess," he said.

The sculpture artist is James Simon of Pittsburgh. The tile seating was done by artist Angelica Poza, who did the well-known "peanut painting" that could be seen for years on the Peterson Nut building across the street from what is now Progressive Field.

As with any work of art, there are some who are not impressed. "Frankly, I think it's ugly," said neighbor Brenda Davenport.

However, most of the response has been like business owner Christina Christian. "It shows so much culture", she said. "It makes you feel like we're keeping Buckeye alive."

Channel 3's Obie Shelton stood next to the new trumpet sculpture as well as the Free Stamp downtown. See the comparison. © 2008 WKYC-TV

For What It's Worth - a Roswell Stone!

I'm not into Roswell and UFOs and things that go zipping around the skies at night. But the PATTERN on this stone caught my attention for reasons I'll explain at the end of the article:

From the Roswell Daily Record
Strange rock raises questions
Frank Levine
Record Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A strange rock with unusual magnetic properties - deeply scored, with what appears to be moon phases, a solar eclipse and the depiction of a supernova -- has been unearthed on the outskirts of Roswell. Its discovery has startled researchers, scientists and all who have examined it.

If proven to be of extraterrestrial origin, it will mark the second time in less than a century that the Roswell area has received communications from outer space.Roswell Mayor Sam D. LaGrone, who actually saw and touched the rock over the weekend, said, "It is a very strange looking rock.... I touched it, I felt it, and I just don't see how it could have been produced."

The rock, he said, adds another element to "the strangeness of Roswell," 61 years after the purported 1947 UFO crash and alleged cover-up by military authorities.

The deep wine-red colored rock, measuring less than two inches across, and weighing about 40 grams, was unearthed in September 2004 by Roswell businessman Robert Ridge, 50 , who said he found it while deer hunting in Cedar Hill, 17 miles "as the crow flies" from the 1947 purported UFO crash site.

"I saw some fresh tracks and followed them," he said. "That's when I noticed the partially exposed rock on the side of a sand pit. But I didn't pick it up at first because I thought there were deer up ahead, and didn't want to break off the pursuit."

When he realized the tracks were just goat tracks, he headed back the way he came, picked up the rock, and put it in his pocket, he said. After showing the rock to family and friends, he decided to keep it in a safe deposit box until last year, when curiosity to discover the truth about it got the better of him.

"In July 2007, I was introduced to UFO investigators Chuck Zukowski and Debbie Ziegelmeyer, and they were astounded at what they saw," he said.

Zulkowski said the investigators where so impressed, they presented the rock to a number of experts, including prominent New Mexico anthropologists, "all of whom claimed they had never seen anything like it."

"They said there is no way this rock could have been scored or drilled in the way it was, without sophisticated modern equipment, like lasers and high speed water-fed grinders and drills," Zukowski said. [Well, if it's an "artifact from the aliens of outer space, ahem, then wouldn't this be expected?] The artifact's image appears to be literally "pulled" from the surface of the red iron ore rock.

Apart from its strange appearance, Zukowski said, the rock has "peculiar" magnetic properties. "It retains its magnetic polarity by which it will spin a compass needle and register its magnetic field on meters," he said. The oval rock will also spin, depending on the position of a magnet over the image surface, he added.

Zukowski and Ziegelmeyer said that archeologists requested that the rock be submitted for further laboratory analysis, in what they describe as phase two of their investigation.

One anthropologist reportedly described the rock as being similar to a "lodestone." Lodestones have been mentioned in literature for centuries as having magical and mystical properties. There are ancient accounts of people reporting that when holding lodestones, their hands and body shook, and that the stones cured a wide range of illnesses, including snake bites and headaches. Native Americans reportedly used lodestones as protection against snakes.

Meanwhile, investigators claim the artifact mirrors crop circles that appeared in Liddleton, England, in 1996, indicating a possibility the stone bears a message from space.

Priscilla Wolf, of Tijeras, a native American woman known to have "powers," visited the site were the rock was found last weekend, and said she felt a vibration in her hands when she held the rock, and that "light came down from the skies" when the rock was deposited at the site. [Deposited by whom? And when? Didn't Ms. Wolf's "powers" give her any clues to that important information???]

Although the rock was found partially exposed on the surface, Zukowski said, the sandy area in which it was found is known to erode and shift, possibly uncovering the rock."It appeared to have been buried at one time," said Ridge, who believes the rock represents more than just an interesting object.

"After I had it a few months, I began to think about it and began to think that it may be a beacon of some kind, or a message," he said. "And I believe the message is that if we don't learn to get along with each other, we will be destroyed," he said.
Well, I don't know about any message - secret or otherwise - from outer space aliens. That's not my thing, darlings! This is the description from the article of the carving on the stone:

"with what appears to be moon phases, a solar eclipse and the depiction of a supernova."

Yes, the dark carved circle might be the moon and the crescent probably does represent the moon. But where are the solar eclipse and the supernova? Somebody, give me a road map!

This is what I see when I look at the stone - keeping in mind this is TINY - only 2 inches across: A yin/yang pattern; a sun (full circle), moon (crescent) and a square, which in Chinese iconography represents the earth, and may also represent a "field" (square of land). Also, the stone is not "oval" as the article said - it's a triangle with rounded edges. Overall I'd say the iconography is Chinese. My guess is that it's a personal talisman, not something meant as a "message" from anyone to anyone!

There is, of course, no way of knowing how old the stone is. But if it only dates back to the infamous alien spaceship craft at Roswell back in 1947, it's not ancient at all. For all we know, it could have been planted by the perpetrators of the 1996 Liddington crop circle, or someone who admired the creators of that crop circle, just to hoax things up a bit.

And what are the chances that this could actually be a Chinese artifact? Except for a few voices crying out in the wilderness, the "accepted science" doesn't even have Chinese explorers on the radar, and certainly not exploring in New Mexico at ANY time!

Call me crazy, but that's what caught my attention about this Roswell rock - the Chinese angle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More on the Phaistos Disc

From The Daily Posted July 15th, 2008 by Greg Phaistos Disc a ... Phake?!... The provenance of one of archaeology's most mysterious artifacts, the 'Phaistos Disc', has been called into question by Jerome Eisenberg, a specialist in faked ancient art. Eisenberg believes that Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier may have created the Phaistos Disc, and planted it at the palace of Phaistos in Crete, in order to outdo the discoveries of contemporary, English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans: Dr Eisenberg, who has conducted appraisals for the US Treasury Department and the J. Paul Getty Museum, highlighted the forger's error in creating a terracotta “pancake” with a cleanly cut edge. Nor, he added, should it have been fired so perfectly. “Minoan clay tablets were not fired purposefully, only accidentally,” he said. “Pernier may not have realised this.” The Greek authorities have refused to give Dr Eisenberg permission to examine the disc outside its display case, arguing that it is too delicate to be moved. His misgivings could be laid to rest by a thermoluminescence test — a standard scientific dating test — but the authorities had refused, he said. One of the key mysteries surrounding the disc is the spiral of stamped symbols upon it; no-one has successfully identified or decoded their meaning. Under Eisenberg's theory, there would be a good reason for that - they are meaningless. Defenders of the Phaistos Disc have brought up the Arkalochori Axe - which features some characters similar to the Phaistos Disc - as a possible hitch in Eisenberg's hoax claim. Eisenberg's findings are published in the July-August edition of the archaeological journal Minerva.

Water Wars!

Oh, this is just too precious to pass up posting. From that BASTION of Truth, Justice, and the former SOVIET (now RUSSIAN) Way. What's the opposite of the movie "Water World?" Yikes! Mankind to wage wars for water by 2025 15.07.2008 [What - 2025? Come on, darlings! We'll be whacking off each other's heads and swiping out each other's eyeballs for the fluid by 2015, if not before...] The shortage of fresh water on planet Earth is likely to become the biggest problem ever during the forthcoming decades. Experts from the International Water Management Institute said in their recent report that the water crisis in the world would occur because of the growing number of population. According to the UN, the population of planet Earth will grow from 6 to 8.5 billion people by 2030. One person living in an industrially developed country consumes up to 3,000 liters of water a year. If the global population grows by 2.5 billion, it will be necessary to find additional 2,000 cubic kilometers of water for their living. “The global consumption of water has increased six times during the recent 100 years and will double by 2050. There are countries that have already run out of water reserves for the production of their food. The shortage of fresh water will inevitably boost prices on this resource,” the Director of the International Water Management Institute, Frank Rijsberman said. The accelerating urbanization and the rising living standard will set forth new requirements to the quality of water. Drinking water and industrial water is obtained from one and the same sources. It may just so happen that agricultural producers, for example, will face serious problems with the required volumes of water. Mankind will have to deal with a serious shortage of water in 25 years. Earth’s fresh water reserves will not be enough to feed the growing population of the planet. Specialists say that one should take urgent measures now to solve the water problem. The list of measures includes the construction of water reservoirs, the use of rain water for irrigation of fields and gardens, etc. It is not the first time when futurologists raise the water crisis subject. They believe that the crisis may occur even before the planet runs out of its fresh water. The shortage of water can be accompanied with large-scale military conflicts. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon raised the subject in December 2007 at the first Asian-Pacific Water Forum, which took place in Japan. Ban Ki-moon said that one-third of Earth’s population lives in the areas, which already suffer from the lack of water. More importantly, about 1.1 billion people living on the planet nowadays do not have access to fresh water which poses no health risks. Humans still pollute water sources irresponsibly and do not seem to care about the consequences. Rest of article.

"Aryan" Race Fight Continues in India

I've been reading about this endless fight for years. Here's more fuel to add to the fire: From (Reflection of the Truth) [Hmmm....] Aryan race did not exist, claims Suryanath Kamath S.O. News service, Monday, 14 July 2008: Bangalore: “Indus Valley civilisation and Vedic civilisation are not two different civilisations but the former was only an urbanised version of the latter,” historian Suryanath U. Kamath said here on Sunday. Dr. Kamath, former Director of Karnataka State Gazetteer, was speaking on “Ancient India: Overseas Connections” organised as a part of Mythic Society's centenary year celebrations. Refuting the existence of Aryan race or an invasion by them, he said: “The Vedas speak of a war between light and darkness which was wrongly interpreted by European scholars as a war between light-skinned and dark-skinned people. The term Dravida means 'inhabitants of Tamil Nadu' and not a race, and the term Aryan means 'noble'.” On the Indus Valley civilisation, he said: “There are factual evidences of a river that ran parallel to the west of the Sindhu and this was home to the Vedic civilisation but [river] dried up around 1900 BC which brought an end to the civilisation.” Dr. Kamat spoke extensively about the Indian trade connections with Persia and Rome during the Indus Valley civilisation. “There is a Roman settlement in Puducherry, established for commercial activities around 2,000 years ago. Romans had a penchant for Indian perfumes, diamonds and garments and in return, there was a constant flow of gold into India,” Dr. Kamat said. [Yes - but 2000 years old is a far cry from 4000 years old - the point is - what, exactly? Does a pattern of later trade across a wide area presuppose that the same was true 2000 years before? This may very well be the case, but it certainly isn't stated in the article and cannot be implied from what IS stated there]. He said: “Indian seamen had knowledge of sea routes much before the Western sailors could have, and [they] were also well versed in ship building as we can find description of ships in the Rig Veda. “This is proved by the fact that various artefacts of Harappan civilisation were found in countries as far as Rome and Mexico,” Dr. Kamat said. [No evidence cited to support artifacts in Mexico and Rome; Rome, I can believe but Mexico? When and where?] Dr. Kamat said that the Indian connection with foreign lands was not just limited to trade but also extended to culture. “South-East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines are largely influenced by Indian culture and we can see such influence in Buddhist Stupas and Hindu temples in these countries,” Dr. Kamath said. [Harappan civilisation existed, according to conventional dating, from about 2600 BCE to about 1900 BCE, and collapsed on itself for reasons that are still in dispute; those people went - somewhere, they didn't all just die off, there's no evidence for massive deaths and burials of the remains as far as I'm aware. That suggests that the surviving Indus/Harrapans migrated out of the areas where the rivers dried up. However, what is the relative timing of the civilizations in these neighboring countries? And does the author mean to imply that those civilizations are a direct result of a supposed mass exodus from a collapsed Indus/Harrapan civilizations?] *********************************************************************************** If you think race relations in the United States are a sticky wicket, you should spend some time reading about race relations in India under the guise of this "Aryan invasion" stuff. As far as I am aware, generally speaking, lighter skinned peoples populated and continue to populate the northern part of the Indian continent; darker skinned peoples populated and continue to populate the southern part of India. And never the twain shall meet...

My Ancestors Were Cave Men. Well, Duh!

According to present scientific opinion, we're all descended from apes that once "evolved" (I have yet to read an explanation of just how or from what, precisely, we evolved, unless they're still teaching we're descended from amoebas - like they said way back in high school, lol!) who lived in Africa, and those apes slowly walked out of Africa on all fours and spread across the world in "waves." The questions surrounding "genetic anomolies" that crop up every now and then in the archaeological record are dismissed or, if they are addressed at all, are belittled as "bad science." Those African apes who came "out of Africa in waves" became modern man - except for all the lines that died out, and except for "Neanderthal Man" that the African apes killed off, evidently, during the last "wave" of migration out of Africa, starting some 60,000 years ago. Where did so-called "Neanderthal Man" come from? What happened to the period of time between 60,000 years ago and 35,000 years ago, when so-called "Cro-Magnon Man" first appeared on the scene? How did African apes become Cro-Magnon? For that matter, how did Cro-Magnon become Homo Sapiens-Sapiens, so called "modern" man? How was the "kill off" of "Neanderthal Man" accomplished? NOBODY KNOWS... Well, I don't buy the current orthodoxy for an instant. Never have, never will. At present, our research into DNA, particularly with respect to our human antecedents, is in its infancy. There are just too many unanswered questions, too many uncertainties, too many variables, and to much uncertain science still in its primitive stages, to accept SCIENCE'S time line on "human evolution." Talk to me 100 years from now - only you won't be able to unless you can resurrent the dead because 100 years from now I'll be long gone! Damn! I found this article interesting because it traces some "cave" ancestors back to about 1000 BCE in this specific area. It doesn't purport to go back to 1,000,000 BCE, 100,000 BCE or even 10,000 BCE; it doesn't purport to go back to the original "Eve" and "Adam." Smart move, researchers. I don't know why it became fashionable to equate living in a cave with being backward or something less than fully human (as that term is accepted today; sometimes I wonder if we aren't de-evolutionizing? Is that a word? You know what I mean - some modern humans are going backwards!) At the time, it may have been by far the smartest thing to live in a cave. Modern man, we are such know-it-all, judgmental jerks! From The Times July 15, 2008 Cavemen and their relatives in the same village after 3,000 years Roger Boyes in Berlin The good news for two villagers in the Söse valley of Germany yesterday was that they have discovered their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents — give or take a generation or two. The bad news is that their long-lost ancestors may have grilled and eaten other members of their clan. [No evidence whatsoever was presented for this teaser throw-away comment in the article]. Every family has its skeletons in the cave, though, so Manfred Hucht-hausen, 58, a teacher, and 48-year-old surveyor Uwe Lange remained in celebratory mood. Thanks to DNA testing of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age bones, they can claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world. “I can trace my family back by name to 1550,” Mr Lange said. “Now I can go back 120 generations.” Mr Lange comes from the village of Nienstedt, in Lower Saxony, in the foothills of the Harz mountain range. “We used to play in these caves as kids. If I’d known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldn’t have set foot in the place.” The cave, the Lichtensteinhöhle [LOL! Aptly named!], is made up of five interlocked natural chambers. It stayed hidden from view until 1980 and was not researched properly until 1993. The archaeologist Stefan Flindt found 40 skeletons along with what appeared to be cult objects. It was a mystery: Bronze Age man was usually buried in a field. Different theories were considered. Perhaps some of the bodies had been offered as human sacrifice, or one generation had been eaten by another. [Yeah, right. What about an ancestral burial ground, nimnuts???] Scientists at the University of Göttingen found that the bones had been protected by a thick layer of calcium: water dripping through the roof of the limestone cave had helped to create a sheath around the skeletons. The analysis showed that all the bones were from the same family and the scientists speculated that it was a living area and a ceremonial burial place. About 300 locals agreed to giving saliva swabs. Two of the cave family had a very rare genetic pattern – and a match was found. The skulls have been reconstructed using three-dimensional computer techniques and placed in a museum. “It was really strange to look the man deep in the eyes,” Mr Lange said. The bones of history — The oldest human genetic material is thought to have been discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves near Johannesburg in 2001 — Fossilised faeces found in Oregon this year contained DNA dating back 14,000 years, placing people genetically similar to Native Americans in the area 1,000 years earlier than previously thought [Actually, there is evidence scattered all across the United States, from west coast to east coast, of habitation dating back to as far back as perhaps 50,000 years ago] — Australian scientists announced in 2001 that they had extracted DNA from the country’s oldest human skeleton, 60,000-year-old Mungo Man, who is distinct from the line that previously suggested all modern humans traced back to Africa [You won't read about Mungo Man in scientific journals; he's too "inconvenient" - doesn't fit into the established and accepted "norm."] Source: Times archives ********************************************************************************** Added as a postscript: Just how wrong is the conventional chronology? LOL! I found this quote staring me in the face right after I posted the above, and visited The Daily I just love it when a plan comes together...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Goddesschess Update

Random Round-up has been updated. Since the core group of Goddesschess is going to be on vacation starting July 18th for 2 weeks, there will be no RR updates. I'll blog as I can. In addition to the usual RR miscellany of interesting items, we've added two articles of note to our Chessquest section: The Sacred Bone by Brian Stross pdf file 3.1 M instant download While Goddesschess is on vacation during the next two weeks, this article oughta hold ya! Formally titled "The Mesoamerican Sacrum Bone; Doorway to the Other World", here you will find 54 pages of excellent research on the subject of dice and related traditions. Thanks Brian! See also: html link - a good portal but lacking important graphic content. (July 13, 2008) The Sacred Game by J.C. Hallman Goddesschess "enthusiastically" presents this informed thoughtspiece from the pen of J.C. Hallman. (July 6. 2008)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

India's D'Souza Sisters

(Image: Andrea D'Souza right, Vanessa D'Souza left)
Mangalore July 14, 2008:

The student of Derik's Chess School(DCS) Vanessa D'souza has won the State Under 13 girls Chess Championship organised by Belgaum District Chess Association Under the auspices of United Karnataka Chess Association from 11th to 13 th July 2008 at Belgaum.

Vanessa D'souza scored 5 points in 6 rounds to bag the honour. In the scintillating final round she won against her younger sister Andrea D'souza to secure first place. Andrea D'souza also scored 5 points in 6 rounds and was placed Runner Up. The result of their direct encounter helped Vanessa to clinch title, though Andrea was ahead in progressive score.
Both the sisters will represent Karnataka in the forthcoming National Under 13 Chess Championship. These young prodigies are the daughters of Victor D'souza and Avith D'souza and are studying in St Agnes english Medium School, Mangalore.

Egyptian Antiquites on Display

I may have already posted about this - but I just love this sculpture so much I'm posting it again! When I first saw it, I thought "cycladic art." But it's Egyptian - Naqada II! Very old and reflective of the world-wide "bird goddess" and "mother goddess" imagery that can also be found in European artifacts of the same age. (Image: Female Figurine Predynastic Period, Naqada II Period, about 3650 B.C. - 3300 B.C. Terracotta, painted 13 3/8 x 5 x 2 1/2 in. (34 x 12.7 x 6.4 cm) place excavated: Burial no. 2, El Ma'mariya, Egypt, Africa. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund.)

July 13, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art will be the first venue to host To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum, which will be on view July 13 – September 7, 2008. Featuring approximately 120 objects dating from 3600 B.C. to 400 A.D. from the world-renowned Egyptian art collection of New York’s Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition will illustrate the range of strategies and preparations the ancient Egyptians developed to defeat death and to achieve success in the afterlife.

“The IMA is pleased to be the first museum in a multiple-city tour for this exhibition,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. “Through a vibrant selection of artworks from one of the world’s leading collections of Egyptian antiquities, our visitors will gain real insight into the ancient quest for survival into eternity.”

The exhibition explores the belief that death was an enemy that could be vanquished, one of the primary cultural tenets of ancient Egyptian civilization. In order to survive in the next world, Egyptians would purchase, trade, or even reuse a variety of objects—statues, coffins, vessels, and jewelry for example—that would protect them in the afterlife. The exhibition explains the process of mummification, the economics and rituals of memorials, the contents of the tomb, the funeral accessories—including the differentiation of objects used by upper, middle, and lower classes—and the idealized afterlife.”

Exhibition highlights include:
 a vividly painted coffin of a Mayor of Thebes (about 1075-945 B.C)
 the mummy and portrait of Demetrios, a wealthy citizen of Hawara (95-100 A.D.)
 two mummies of dogs (664 B.C.-395 A.D)
 stone sculpture and statues
 protective gold jewelry made for nobility
 amulets (items for protection in the afterlife)
 canopic jars (used to store the body’s major organs)
 ceramic vessels

“Many of the objects in the show have never been exhibited before,” said Theodore Celenko, curator of African art at the IMA. “And one piece in particular—a limestone statue of a father, mother and child that’s more than 2,000 years old—will only be shown in Indianapolis.”

In addition to the exhibition, the IMA will host a lecture by the exhibition’s curator Edward Bleiberg. On Sunday, July 13 at 2 p.m., Bleiberg—the curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum—will discuss religion, aesthetics and immortality of ancient Egypt in relation to the exhibition.

More on the Imbalance of Men and Women in China

Dark clouds on the horizon in China. What does that mean for us? Excerpted from No Country for Young Men China's testosterone problem. Mara Hvistendahl, The New Republic Published: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 [The] macho violence spurting forth through outlets like war games is a growing trend in Chinese society--and China's one-child policy, in effect since 1979, is partly responsible. The country's three decades of iron-fisted population planning coincided with a binge in sex-selective abortions (Chinese traditionally favor sons, who carry on the family line) and a rise, even as the country developed, in female infant mortality. After almost 30 years of the policy, China now has the largest gender imbalance in the world, with 37 million more men than women and almost 20 percent more newborn boys than girls nationwide. By the time these newborns reach puberty, war games may seem like a quaint relic. In the 2020s, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Zheng Zhenzhen, estimates in a People's Daily interview that 10 percent of Chinese men will be unable to find wives, which could have a huge impact on Chinese society. Historian David Courtwright suggests in Violent Land that sexually segregated societies in the United States--frontier towns flush with unmarried men, immigrant ghettos in early twentieth-century cities, mining camps--are behind our propensity toward violence. The immigrants and westward migrants who shaped early America, Courtwright says, were largely young single men, who are-- today as well as then--disproportionately responsible for drug abuse, looting, vandalism, and violent crime. A long-term study of Vietnam veterans in 1998 may explain exactly why: The subjects' testosterone levels, which are linked to aggression and violence, dropped when they married and increased when they divorced. Eternally single men, by extension, maintain high levels of testosterone--a recipe for violent civil unrest. The one-child policy was instituted in an attempt to hamper the wild growth of the Chinese population. But, in the process of plugging one hole, the government may have left another open. The coming boom in restless young men promises to overhaul Chinese society in some potentially scary ways. Lianyungang, a booming port city in a Jiangsu province economic belt, is ground zero for some of these changes. According to the China Family Planning Association, it's the city in China with the most extreme gender ratio for children under four--163 boys for every 100 girls. One sunny Saturday morning at verdant Cangwu Park, I count six boys and three girls bouncing on the inflatable castle. Near the ice-cream stand are a dozen sticky-faced kids, seven boys and five girls, feeding pigeons. The children running after kites adorned with Olympics mascots and China's Shenzhou VII spaceship: three and two. The drivers of the cheerful little tanks circling an electric track: three and one. These numbers work fine on the playground, but, for China's many match- making services, they may prove troublesome. At the Good Luck Marriage Introduction Agency, in a town a few hours' drive west from Liangyungang, two whiteboards mounted on the wall advertise the age, height, and income of available singles. On the day I visit, founder Tao Hui, a fortysomething woman with a bouffant, is watching soap operas in her sweatpants. She hasn't felt the shortage yet, she says. On the whiteboards, a few dozen nameless men line up nicely to a few dozen nameless women. For now, many in the early wave of surplus men are marrying younger women. "We'll see real problems in eight or ten years," Tao predicts. Her 17-year- old son, she assures me, has good prospects. But she already turns away a lot of single males from outlying villages with no money or education. "If they're ugly and can't find work, there's nothing I can do. No one wants them." Preliminary returns from the first generation of population-controlled kids suggest how all those unwanted men might fill up their time. Over the past decade, as the boys hit adolescence, the country's youth crime rate more than doubled. In December, Chinese Society of Juvenile Delinquency Research Deputy Secretary General Liu Guiming told a Beijing seminar that today's teens were committing crimes "without specific motives, often without forethought." The Chinese government--which, policy-making blunders aside, hardly wants a population of hopeless, volatile men under its rule--has been vainly trying to undo the damage. At a symposium on the policy last August, family-planning commission head Zhang Weiqing said the gender ratio harbors a "hidden threat to social stability." In February, officials publicly debated the timeline for phasing out stringent population planning targets, citing the gender ratio along with a rapidly aging population. "In the past, everyone thought we didn't have a problem," says Gu Baochang, a demographer at Renmin University in Beijing. "Now they're starting to pay attention." In the meantime, the government is adopting a softer tone in its propaganda. The red characters painted on village walls throughout the countryside have evolved from the 1980s slogan YOU BEAT IT OUT! YOU CAN MAKE IT FALL OUT! YOU CAN ABORT IT! BUT YOU CANNOT GIVE BIRTH TO IT! Now they read: IMPLEMENT FAMILY PLANNING FOR THE GOOD OF ALL CITIZENS. And, recently, the government added BOYS AND GIRLS ARE BOTH TREASURES. In 2003, it unveiled the Care For Girls program, which gives stipends to parents of girls in some provinces. But, as Chinese couples make more money, fertility is naturally declining-- meaning that today's bachelors will form an even larger proportion of China's future population than officials expect. Wang Feng, a sociologist at the University of California-Irvine who's part of a group of scholars advocating phasing out the one-child policy, says the outlook is grim: "Each successive birth cohort is going to be smaller. When younger cohorts get smaller, you have fewer females. It's a double whammy." **************************************************************************************** Article on the same subject, but not about China, it's about declining birth rates in many countries in the rest of the world: From Reason On Line Baby Bust! The world is panicking over birthrates. Again. Kerry Howley July 2008 Print Edition Worth reading if only for the fascinating demographic information it contains. Bottom line - the WOMB controls the world - and don't you guys ever forget it!

Amsterdam 2001 Part 2

Hola darlings! It's an absolutely gorgeous day today - there's a strong breeze (about 25 mph), the air is DRY and I feel totally energized. The grass out back has been cut, articles have been read, critters have been fed. While doing some housecleaning today in preparation to receive my guests (dondelion will be here on Friday and Isis and Michelle arrive a week from Tuesday) I came across some old photographs from my 1999 trip to the FIDE World Chess Championship in Las Vegas. I will scan and post some of them. That reminded me of our 2001 trip to Amsterdam, and that I did not finish my "travelogue." So - here goes: While the Initiative Group Koenigstein symposium at the Max Euwe Centrum ran only three days, from November 30 - December 2, 2001, we were in town a few days afterward to take in some of Amsterdam's sights. I'm an early riser. Sunday December 2nd dawned with a watery sunlight - the first I'd seen since our arrival in Amsterdam! I quickly got dressed, grabbed a hard-boiled egg and some bread and butter from the empty common room and headed out before 8 a.m. The city was deserted - the streets were wet; it was humid, the air was soggy, but the sunlight cast the buildings in a manner that took my breath away and I took a leisurely stroll in the area around the Hotel Schmitt, ending up at the Rijksmuseum. I took several photographs during my stroll, but my camera was cheap and old and the photographs were disappointing. This was in the days before digital cameras turning every shot into a winning shot! I got back to the hotel shortly after 9 to a full common room, everyone was eating breakfast (it was included in the cost of our accomodations). Several of us walked to the Max Euwe Centrum for the final half day of the IGK Symposium. It ended with a discussion I knew would never amount to anything - the writing and compiling of a "new" and improved history of chess (actually, more about the origins of chess and the games from which it may have been derived, which is what we at Goddesschess are most interested in). I left early. Unfortunately, by doing so I missed out on an impromptu lunch afterward with The Chief (Ricardo Calvo), Carmen (his wife and faithful Librarian and research assistant), Ken Whyld and others. They and Gerhard Josten, our German acquaintance who had been instrumental in introducing us to The Chief, were all leaving on afternoon trains to go back home. Later that afternoon dondelion, Isis, Michelle and I trekked over to the Rijksmuseum and spent hours oohing and aahing at the incredible collection of art. I know I've got some photographs from that day other than those I've already posted (in the left hand margin of the blog), I'll see if I can dig them out, scan and post them. Now the couch is calling - I need a nap...
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