Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! I had my last summer PTO day today, and it sure was gorgeous outside! Sunny, low dew point, and 80 degrees. I actually watered the lawn out back, it was so dry it was lying down flat and I want to cut it tomorrow, so I had to get it standing back up. Only way to do that is to water... I rearranged the front room today and got the new lap top moved from the kitchen table to the desk overlooking the front window and the fireplace. Whew - what a chore that is, shoving heavy furniture around - and I moved the 8 foot tall curio cabinet! That baby hasn't been moved in probably 10 years! First, everything had to come out of it, a job in and of itself just trying to find places to stash the stuff it holds, geez! Then I had to remove the glass shelves; then I "walked" the empty hulk over from one side of the room to the other. Took 20 minutes just to do the "walking" about 15 feet. It was worth the sweat equity though, it looks real nice in its new position. After bumping and shoving the rest of the furniture around, positioning the desk just so, dusting, vacuuming, and beginning the laborious process of rearranging the accessories and artwork to fit the new furniture configuration, I ran out of steam. Then I had to run upstairs and clean up and make myself presentable - scrubbing off, hair, make-up, clean clothes. A friend was coming by shortly after 6 to pick me up. She was shopping for her very first computer, she wanted a laptop, and she wanted me along for security I think, more than anything else. Also I can be very intimidating, particularly when I put on my glasses... When we were out at dinner a few weeks ago I mentioned the purchase of my new Toshiba laptop and the fantastic price I got it for, and she went WOW! That got her thinking she could afford one herself. As she didn't have much knowledge of laptops (neither did I, before I started shopping for one over a year ago), I scouted the ads for her and searched around online, and found a couple of good deals. She got a crash course in what is included and what is not in a sale price "basic" laptop. We went and inspected a laptop in person tonight, she checked out the keyboard (important to people who make their living doing lots of typing, like yours truly), we got a detailed list of the specs and went through them, she got answers to the questions she had about "what is this" and "what is that" from a knowledgeable manager, and she closed the deal! She's going wireless so we also picked up a router for her. Now all she has to do is get DSL. I showed her how to shop online for discounted software (she wants Microsoft Works) and we're practically good to go! I got her set-up for a net cost of a little over $500 (she does have to apply for a $100 rebate on the computer) including the $90 or so she'll have to pop for the Microsoft Works. Last night when she went to a place that shall remain nameless that was offering some months free financing in addition to a good sale price on a "brand name" laptop, they tried to job her for $1,000 for basically the same set-up we got tonight, scaring the crap out of her talking about anti-virus protection and security and extended service contracts. Did you know that viruses can grow inside of a computer while it's sitting in its box, unplugged and never used? Neither did I. That's what the sales kid at the unnamed store told my friend last night. Ohmygoddess! So, tomorrow, the curio cabinet glass sides, shelves and mirrored back get thororoughly cleaned, the shelves put back in, and the contents dusted and/or washed before being replaced, including my precious collection of pink elephants. A good time to rotate things out and pack some stuff away. I also unpacked and set up the new HDTV that arrived a few days ago. Can't get the damn menu feature to work right and channel 4 is coming in positively crappy, but as every other channel is coming in perfectly clear it must have something to do with the channel 4 transmission. The Brewers beat the Cubs AGAIN tonight at Miller Park, whoopppeeee! If we win tomorrow and the Mets lose that means we're in the play-offs for the first time in 26 years! This city is excited. Poop noodle little Milwaukee with 636,000 people generated over 3,000,000 in attendance this year, cha ching! Just a few things to mention tonight, I'm tired and it's way past bedtime! What the hell is this b.s. about Sarah Palin, ex-mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, charging rape victims for their rape kits (used by the police to gather evidence of sexual assault). Fifi the Alaskan Attack Dog strikes again! What the hell - am I living in an alternate universe where the police charge the victims to do their job??? Weird, very very weird. The night terrors taken one step beyond. Yeah, I "see" things in my bedroom almost every night, but I've never eaten a cat... Methane gas bubbling up from underneath "Arctic lakes" were either a symptom of or cause of the end of the last Ice Age, around 13,000 years ago (11,000 BCE, give or take a few thousand years). Guess all the hot air coming out of Washington these days is just speeding up our current melting of the ice caps. Will archaeologists soon uncover an archaic version of Washington, D.C. or the Kremlin, the poor suckers petrified in their seats forever with their mouths open, pumping out the last bits of hot air in their beings, as massive floods of water and mud swept down upon them... 14,300 year old poop proves the Bering land bridge theory of when man first arrived in the new world is full of crap... On that note, darlings, I'm calling it a night. Sweet dreams.

Women's Chess in Barbados

From The Barbados Advocate Keen action in ladies' chess Web Posted - Fri Sep 26 2008 DEFENDING ladies chess champion, Corrine Howard, who is looking to make this her third consecutive title, has encountered some early turbulence in the BOA/CGI National Ladies Championship which is being played at Bridge House, Cavans Lane, The City. From the first round the 6 finalists trying to take Corrine's crown showed they meant business. In her round one clash against the experienced Juanita Garnett, the defending champion found herself under tremendous pressure early in the game. However, she put up tough resistance and managed to salvage a draw. Round three, however, proved to be a dramatic round as Cherie-Ann Parris of squash fame defeated the reigning champion in an intense battle. Parris, determined to make up for her round two loss against Comarie Mansour, played aggressively from the start and never relented until she claimed the full point inflicting a rare defeat on the defending Champion. This has left the tournament wide open with only two rounds remaining and the action should be intense this weekend as the players jostle for the top spots. Cherie-Ann Parris on four points, holds a slight 1/2 point lead ahead of Corrine Howard and Juanita Garnett, both on 3 1/2 points. Comarie Mansour and former Ladies Champion Rashida Corbin, who has returned to competitive chess after a few years' break, are both on three points but still have a rescheduled game against each other. This a key game as the winner would join Parris at the top of the standings. Katrina Blackman of Coleridge and Parry has two points and the baby of the competition, 10-year-old Cherise Austin is yet to score, although she has been playing well and missed an opportunity to draw against Mansour in round three. Round six will be played tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Bridge House, Cavans Lane, The City. Entry is free to the public. The action can also be followed on the Federation's website,ý

Ancient Metal Works Found in Bam

Ancient metal workshop found in Bam Fri, 26 Sep 2008 16:52:29 GMT Archeological studies in the city of Bam have led to the discovery of a metal production center in Iran's southeastern Kerman Province. Excavations in the Darestan region, located some 22 kilometers to the east of the city of Bam showed that the area was once a rich metal production center. “In the space of 3,400 to 3,500 BCE [this actually should be 3500 to 34oo BCE] the area was filled with metal workshops in which metals such as copper were extracted,” said team director, Omran Garajian. “The team found a number of honeycombed metal seals, which were popular around 2,600 to 2,100 BCE,” he added. “Similar seals dating back to 2,400 BCE were previously found in eastern Iran. The newly discovered seals were made in 3,400 to 3,500 BCE,” Garajian he said. Archeologists also unearthed a skeleton, a skull and some jewelry. TE/HGH

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Goddess Akka

Proto-indo-European word for water: ak(w)-a; important derivatives are island, aquatic, ewer, and sewer. 1. Island-from Old English ig, ieg, island, from Germanic *agwjo. 2. Aqua, Aquarelle, Aquarium, Aquatic, Aqui-, Ewer, Gouache, Sewer, from Latin aqua, water. From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encylopedia of Myths and Secrets." Akka Eponymous ancestral Goddess of Akkad, called the Old Woman, the Grandmother, or the Midwife. She was the "Water-drawer" who brought gods to birth out of the primal deep - the feminine prototype of Aquarius. A similar Central-American Goddess figure had curiously similar names, Acat or Akna.(1) [Why curious? If the experts are correct, old world peoples populated the new world, and they would have brought the names of their gods and goddesses with them. The root word for "water" most likely goes back far far beyond proto-Indo-European, back to the time when language was just beginning.] Akka had many related names. Greeks called her Acco or Acca, "she Who Fashions."(2) To Laps and Finns in northern Europe, she was Mader-Akka -- Mother Akka -- who created humanity.(3) To Romans, she was Acca Larentia, or Acca the mother of the Lares, which were archaic ancestral spirits left over from pre-Roman Latium. Acca Larentia was variously called the first Vestal Virgin, or a temple prostitute, or a rich courtesan, or a virgin bridge of God -- roles tha may seem mutually contradictory but were not so (see Prostitution; Vestal Virgins). As the divine midwife, she helped Rhea Silvia give birth to Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. She drew the divine twins out of the floating basket on the river tiber, just as Akka of Akkad drew Sargon out of his floating basket on the river Tigris, and "Pharaoh's daughter" drew Moses from the Nile. Acca Larentia was honored every year at the roman festival of the Larentalia. She was assimilated to the cult of Heracles, who became one of her husbands. In his Roman temple, Heracles was mated to "Acca, the Maker."(4) Notes: (1) Larousse, 439. (2) Graves, G.M. 2, 190. (3) Larousse, 306. (4) Graves, G.M. 2, 190.

The Great Ganges in Trouble

From The Times of India: Save the river Ganga 23 Sep 2008, 0000 hrs IST, KAILASH VAJPEYI Yoga guru Swami Ramdev has been campaigning to save the Ganga from pollution, as have so many others in the past including religious heads and members of civil society. He wishes that the river that is considered holy by millions should be given heritage status. At least then, he reasons, polluting the river would be considered a punishable crime. Swami Ramdev started his campaign from Kanpur since it is here that the river receives large volumes of toxic effluents from the city's tanneries and other small-scale industries. The Ganga is both goddess and river. Sitting on the banks of the Ganga is in itself an uplifting experience, as the ambience is rich with the meditations of sages from time immemorial. As the consort of Shiva, flowing from his matted locks as Shakti, her waters are believed to have the power to wash away all sin. How the Ganga was brought down to earth is told in the story of Bhagiratha who obtained permission from the gods for the river to descend to earth so that the sacred waters might wash over the ashes of the sons of his ancestor, Sagar. The Ganga came down but Shiva absorbed the force of the mighty torrent by letting it flow through his hair. From the head of Shiva it flowed down as the Sapta-Sindhva or the seven sacred rivers. The Ganga is also called Alaknanda - from the locks of Shiva; Deva-Bhuti - heavenly; Gandini - ever-shining; Hara-Shekhara - Shiva's crest; Jahnavi - from Jahnu; Khapaga - flowing from heaven; Kumarsu - mother of Kartikeya; Mandakini - gently flowing; and Tripathga - flowing through the three worlds of heaven, earth and hell. If the Himalayas are supreme among mountains and Kashi is supreme among holy cities, the Ganga is supreme among rivers. Jawaharlal Nehru said: "The Ganga especially is the river of India's age-long culture and civilisation, ever changing, ever-flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga." Poet Jagannath, in his poem, 'Ganga Lahri', approaches the Ganga with total surrender: "I come to you as a child to his mother/ I come as an orphan /To you, moist with love/ I come without refuge/ To you, giver of sacred rest/ I come a fallen man/ To you, uplifter of all./ I come undone by disease/ To you the perfect physician/ I come, my heart dry with thirst/ To you, ocean of sweet wine/ Do with me whatever you will." It is not only in India but in other parts of the world also that rivers have been referred to as mothers. Volga is Mat Rodanya, that is, mother of the land. Ireland's river Boyne is worshipped as a goddess. The Thai river Mae-nau translates literally as Water Mother. In ancient Egypt, the floods of the Nile were considered the tears of the Goddess Isis. The name of Ganga appears twice in the Rig Veda. We find references to the Ganga in the Valmiki Ramayana, the Brahmanda Purana, the Devi Bhagavatam and the Mahabharata. A number of Sanskrit poets, including Adi Sankara, have composed beautiful verses in praise of the Ganga. Our great rivers, including the Ganga, are dying. If we do not succeed in a determined effort to save these important water bodies, we are risking the right of future generations to a healthy, life-enhancing environment. Veda Vyasa said: "Anyone who cuts trees and pollutes rivers commits suicide." (The writer is member, executive committee, Sahitya Akademi)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hales Corners Challenge VIII

10 Grand Prix Points!!! Chessplayers ! Our popular Hales Corners Challenge (held each year in April and October) is coming soon. Mark your calendar now ! Tournament information is below, and a flyer is attached to this email (or go to ) NOTE !! NEW LOCATION THIS TIME ! Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee (Phone—414-481-8000; formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport). October 4, 2008 Hales Corners Challenge VIII GPP: 10 Wisconsin 4SS, G/60. Two Sections: Open & Reserve (under 1600). Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee (Phone—414-481-8000; formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport). EF: $35-Open, $25-Reserve, both $5 more after 10/1. Comp EF for USCF 2200+, contact TD for details. $$ Open (b/25)=1st-$325 (guaranteed), 2nd-$175 (guaranteed), A-$100, B & Below-$75; $$ Reserve (b/25)=1st-$100, 2nd-$75, D-$50, E & Below-$40. Reg.: 8:30-9:30, Rds.: 10-1-3:30-6. Ent: Payable to Southwest Chess Club, c/o Allen Becker, 6105 Thorncrest Drive, Greendale, WI 53129 ( Questions to TD Gary Wright 414-226-5753. Hales Corners Challenge VIII Sponsored by The Southwest Chess Club Sturday, October 4, 2008 Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600) FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day USCF Rated TIME LIMIT: Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player) ENTRY FEE: $35 – Open; $25 – Reserve Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+ (call TD for details) both sections $5 more after October 1, 2008) SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking * Prize fund in each section is based on minimum of 25 players in that section; however 1st and 2nd prizes in Open Section are guaranteed ***Special Additional Prizes provided by*** Top Finishing Female Player--$50/Best Game by Female Player--$25/Best Game by Male Player--$25 Tournament Director: Gary Wright Assistant Tournament Directors: Tom Fogec/ Allen Becker /Robin Grochowski SITE: Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee—414-481-8000 (formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport) ENTRIES TO: Allen Becker —6105 Thorncrest Drive— Greendale , WI 53129 QUESTIONS TO: Gary Wright—414-226-5753 USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Irrevocable half point bye available in any round, except round 4, if requested prior to first round ____________________________________________________________________ Checks payable to Southwest Chess Club Please indicate section desired) __Open Section __Reserve Section Name: __________________________________________________ USCF ID#: ________________ Rating: _______ Expire Date: ___________ Address: ______________________________________ City: _____________________ State : _______ Zip: _________ Phone: __________________ e-mail Address: _______________________

Southwest Chess Club of Hales Corners New Events

An announcement from my "adopted" local chess club for a new event! Hello Chess Players, This Thursday, September 25, marks the start of a new tournament, the Cool Autumn Breezes Blowing Swiss, a four round event with one game each night of the tournament. There will be two sections. Register at the playing site between 6:20 and 6:50 pm. If you know you will be late but wish to enter, please contact me in advance. Remember, we are now meeting at the Layton State Bank in Greendale, located at 5850 Broad Street (lower level). Details below. Cool Autumn Breezes Blowing Swiss: Sept. 25, Oct 2, 9, 16 4-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and Under 1600). Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5 members, $7 others. (One ½ Point Bye Available for any round (except round four) if requested at least 2- days prior to round). TD is Fogec; ATD is Grochowski Tom Fogec Southwest Chess Club 414-425-6742

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did Government Pressure Lead to Poison Milk Cover-up?

Delay since as far back as December, 2007 and certainly since June, 2008 in reporting to government officials evidence of widespread milk poisoning and ordering product recalls may have been due to pre-Olympics government pressure that no bad news be released. China Says Complaints About Milk Began in 2007 By DAVID BARBOZA Published: September 23, 2008 SHANGHAI — One of China’s biggest dairy producers received consumer complaints about its baby milk formula as early as December 2007 — much earlier than previously thought and 10 months before the producer ordered a nationwide recall because of concerns that the formula had been adulterated with a toxic industrial chemical, state media said Tuesday. The disclosure, in a government report publicized by the official Xinhua News Agency, is the latest indication that the producer, Sanlu Group, had repeatedly tried to hide information about its contaminated dairy supplies from the public. Powdered milk formula in China tainted by melamine, a chemical compound, has already sickened more than 53,000 infants and killed three children nationwide, according to the Health Ministry, leading to recalls of Chinese-made dairy products in China and other parts of Asia, devastating this nation’s huge dairy industry and casting a renewed pall over the quality of Chinese food production. Officials at the Sanlu Group, which is based in northern China’s Hebei Province, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The government report did not include details about the nature or number of consumer complaints but put the timing of when they began at least six months earlier than first reported. Earlier this month, government investigators said that Sanlu officials had delayed acting on consumer complaints and warnings in June, and that local government officials in Hebei knew of the problems in early August, just before the Olympic Games opened in Beijing. Sanlu announced a nationwide recall in early September. The Fonterra Group of New Zealand, which is one of the world’s biggest dairy exporters and has a 43 percent stake in Sanlu, says it pressed its Chinese partner to announce a recall in August, but company and local government officials refused. Food safety experts say the delays may have allowed the tainted powdered milk supplies to spread more widely, making tens of thousands of children ill. The delays have led to widespread speculation in China that Sanlu and some government officials were trying to cover up the problem during the Olympics because Beijing had pressed Chinese journalists and companies not to release negative news. In the two weeks since reports spread about the contamination and sickness, though, the milk recall has mushroomed, with worried parents rushing to hospitals, supermarket chains pulling dairy products off shelves and dairy farmers dumping milk because no one is willing to drink it. China’s dairy industry has been booming for more than a decade, with the aid of a government initiative to get Chinese to drink more milk. But worries about baby formula tainted with melamine, which is used to produce plastics and fertilizer, led to government checks that uncovered evidence that products made by 21 other dairy producers, including some of China’s best known dairy brands, have also been tainted by melamine. On Monday, the government announced that the head of the nation’s quality watchdog had been forced to resign for failing to properly supervise the dairy market. Several government officials from Hebei Province have also been forced to step down, along with the chairwoman of the Sanlu Group. The government announced Tuesday that more than 7,000 tons of dairy products had been removed from store shelves. Also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture said the nation’s dairy collection system was “out of control,” The Associated Press reported, making it possible for unscrupulous businesses to intentionally spike dairy supplies with melamine, which can be used to illegally and artificially inflate the protein count in milk and other foods.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ancient Writing Sample Found in Philippines

From Shard find in Intramuros shows early form of writing September 22, 2008 A NATIONAL Museum team has dug up a pot shard with an inscription around its shoulder, similar to the world-renowned Calatagan pot, at the San Ignacio archeological site in Intramuros. The find, lying 140 centimeters below the surface at the ruins of the San Ignacio church, is seen as evidence of another ancient form of writing in the Philippines. Most of the writing systems in the Southeast Asian region are derived from an ancient script used in India. In contrast to other countries, the Philippines has very few artifacts that provide evidence of the earliest form of writing. These include the Laguna copper plate (900 AD), Butuan ivory seal (9th to 12th centuries), Butuan silver strip (14th to 15th centuries) and the Calatagan pot (15th century). When Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came in 1567, he observed that inhabitants read and wrote in their own system of writing using an alphabet. The Tagalogs had their own alphabet, the baybayin, which was similar to those used by people in the South. The baybayin was in wide use in the 16th century, but its users began to wane in the following century. Among ethno-linguistics groups in the Philippines, only three have retained the use of their syllabic scripts: the Hanunoo and Bahid Mangyan of Mindoro, and the Tagbanwa of Palawan. The archaeological excavation at San Ignacio is another project being implemented jointly by the Cultural Properties and Archaeology Divisions of the National Museum and the Intramuros Administration. This project is undertaken in connection with the plan of the IA to develop the area where the church ruins stand into an ecclesiastical museum. Digging was started in June by the National Museum team made up of curator Angel P. Bautista, researchers Alfredo Orogo and Carmencita Mariano, artist Ernesto Toribio Jr., and Jimmy Fingcale. Excavation in five squares yielded 500 pieces of archaeological material, of which the pot shard with inscription is considered the most significant find.
What an exciting discovery. I hope more will be published on this find. I continue to find it amazing how much history has been lost in recent historic times. It's a sad testiment to our lack of care, prejudice and ignorance.

Treasure Trove in India!

From The September 19, 2008 131 Mughul period gold coins unearthed in TN village Dharmapuri (TN), PTI: A treasure of ancient gold coins dating back to the Mughul period was unearthed at a village near Dharmapuri. The coins numbering 131 and kept in a earthen pot came to light when Nadumadhu (40) and his wife Kannammal of Kalkundapatti village, 47 km from here, were digging their piece of land for constructing a house, officials said. On being informed about the treasure, a team of revenue officials led by Palacode Thasildar T Duke Ponraj rushed to the village yesterday and took possession of the coins, each of which weighed around six grams. A pair of ear rings was also recovered from the site. As the coins had markings in Urdu it was beleived to be of the Mughul period, officials said. The couple were questioned by the revenue and police officials. The coins and the ear rings, seized under the Indian Treasure Act, were handed over to the District Collector for further action.
Did the finders notify the authorities of the find, or did someone else turn them in? Why were the couple questioned by revenue and police officials? Do the authorities think the couple who found this treasure trove have more hidden away somewhere??? Will the couple who uncovered these coins receive a percentage of their value under the Indian Treasure Act? What "further action" will take place - an inquest (similar to what they do in England when treasure trove is found)?

The Man Who Saved The World

From The Soviet chess enthusiast who saved the world September 23, 2008 Twenty-five years ago this week, a Russian soldier averted a nuclear holocaust, writes Philip Jacobson When Lt Col Stanislav Petrov arrived to work the graveyard shift at the secret command bunker near Moscow from which the Soviet Union's early warning satellites were monitored, he was anticipating another routine stint of checking screens and communications systems, with a few chess problems to help pass the time. But shortly after midnight on September 26, 1983, alarms started blaring and a red button on the console in front of Petrov began to flash the single word: "Start". This signified that an American ballistic missile had been launched and was heading towards the USSR: then the computers linked to the satellites reported that four more missiles were on the way. As commander of the bunker, Petrov, a 44-year-old rocket specialist, was responsible for deciding whether the horrifying launch data was accurate. If it was, standing orders required immediate notification of the Soviet high command, which would then consult the Kremlin about initiating a swift and massive retaliatory strike against the US. "For 15 seconds we were all in a state of shock," Petrov recalled years later. "We needed to understand with absolute certainty what came next." After five minutes of frantic activity, with his staff begging him to stay cool, Petrov concluded that the incoming launch reports were almost certainly false. A central tenet of the USSR's Cold War strategy held that any nuclear attack by America would involve the simultaneous launch of hundreds of missiles. In Petrov's judgment, nobody would carry out a first strike with just five: he was also aware the system had a history of malfunctioning. "My gut feeling was that we were experiencing another systems failure, so I made the decision to report a false alarm." Petrov's hunch was subsequently confirmed by an official investigation: the satellite alerts that might have created a nuclear holocaust were triggered by an unusual combination of sunlight and high-altitude cloud formations, wrongly interpreted by the computers as a missile launch. But although Petrov's conduct under intense pressure initially drew high praise from superiors - there was talk of a medal - an official investigation later accused him of serious disciplinary offences. Petrov was formally reprimanded, demoted and shuffled into a much less responsible post. Convinced he had been made a scapegoat for exposing flaws in the early warning network, he chose to take early retirement and, by some accounts, suffered a nervous breakdown. It was not until the late-1990s, as President Gorbachev's policy of glasnost (openness) took hold, that the story of that dramatic night in the bunker became public knowledge in Russia. An American expert on Soviet defence doctrines during the Cold War described the incident as "the closest we've come to an accidental nuclear conflict". Contemporary US intelligence reports indicated that the then Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, and his top brass were extremely nervous about the possibility that President Ronald Reagan might authorise a devastating first strike against what he had famously dubbed "the evil empire". By then, Petrov was surviving on a meagre military pension in a squalid apartment block in a town near Moscow, drinking too much and mourning the death of his devoted wife from cancer. He would tell Western journalists that he did not consider himself a hero, just a conscientious officer who did his duty at a moment of great peril for mankind. Yet within a few years, as word spread of his role in averting what could have become a global catastrophe, he was being feted in the West. In May 2004, the US-based Association of World Citizens awarded him a trophy and $1,000: two years later, health seemingly restored, he was invited to UN headquarters in New York to receive a second award. Twenty-five years on, a documentary film about Petrov - working title The Man Who Saved The World - is being prepared. It is due for release next summer. FIRST POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Christ the Magus

An interesting article only in Spanish (couldn't find an English translation online). I'm no linguist but I could make out a few words and checked a few more with the aid of Alta Vista's Babelfish translator. Of main importance is that this cup or small bowl, found in Alexandria, Egypt (possibly under water?), has a notation in Greek "Dia Chrstou o Goistais," translated into Spanish for the article ""por Chrestos el mago" -- my take on this is FOR CHRIST THE MAGICIAN. Wow! I confirmed that "mago" in Spanish means magus, magician, the same as the title given to the ancient Persian wise men. Since I don't read Spanish, I'm guessing that the references to 50-51 CE are references to the age of the artifact. If that proves to be correct, I believe this could be the earliest reference ever found to the historical name of Jesus Christ. Here's the article: PODRÍA SER LA REFERENCIA MÁS ANTIGUA A JESUCRISTO La vasija de 'Cristo, el mago' --Hallan entre las ruinas de Alejandría un tarro con una enigmática inscripción --La leyenda fue tallada en el año 50 y probablemente alude al Mesías --La valiosa pieza se expondrá en Madrid hasta finales de noviembre Actualizado viernes 19/09/2008 17:14 (CET) CHANO MONTELONGO MADRID.- Un equipo de arqueólogos y egiptólogos acaba de descubrir, entre las ruinas sumergidas de la mítica ciudad de Alejandría, una vasija de cerámica con una enigmática inscripción en griego que podría ser la referencia más antigua que existe de Jesucristo. Según explicó a Franck Goddio, uno de los arqueólogos submarinos más prestigiosos del mundo y el responsable del hallazgo, el objeto muestra una inscripción en griego, 'Dia Chrstou o Goistais', que se interpreta como "por Chrestos el mago". Entre las teorías que se barajan, "bien podría tratarse de una referencia a Jesucristo, en aquel tiempo el máximo exponente de la magia blanca", indicó el investigador francés. El valor del descubrimiento se incrementa al comprobarse su antigüedad, ya que los egiptólogos que han estudiado la pieza aseguran que la vasija, procedente de Asia Menor, es del siglo I a.C. y que la inscripción fue realizada antes del año 50 d.C. Esto convertiría el hallazgo en la primera referencia del mesías que se conoce, honor que hasta ahora ostenta una carta del apóstol San Pablo del año 51 d.C. en la que habla de "su maestro". No obstante, ésta no es más que una de las dos o tres teorías que barajan los expertos sobre el origen y el significado de esta valiosa pieza. El descubrimiento se produjo el pasado mes de junio cuando su equipo trabajaba en uno de los yacimientos situados en la zona oriental del Portus Magnus de Alejandría, concretamente dentro de un templo situado cerca de la isla de Antirhodos, muy cerca de la costa. "Las excavaciones presentan varios estratos que coinciden con una fecha concreta en el tiempo. Esta vasija fue hallada en el piso correspondiente al siglo I d.C., aunque pruebas posteriores han confirmado que su antigüedad se sitúa un siglo antes de nuestra era. Se encontraron junto a varios objetos y columnas del templo", explica Goddio. Durante los últimos meses, los mejores egiptólogos del mundo han trabajado en esta pieza y han dado varias teorías sobre ella. Se cree que la vasija se utilizaba en ritos adivinatorios. Se vertía en él una fina capa de aceite cuyas huellas se interpretaban por un mago en forma de predicciones futuras. fue testigo, en un acto privado, de la llegada a Madrid de este objeto, donde permanecerá expuesto al público dentro de la muestra 'Tesoros Sumergidos de Egipto', en el Matadero Legazpi, hasta el próximo 26 de noviembre. Entre fuertes medidas de seguridad y ante la supervisión de egiptólogos y representantes del Gobierno de Egipto, propietario de la pieza, Franck Goddio extrajo de una caja fuerte el objeto y lo depositó en una urna de cristal instalada al final del recorrido de la exposición, que contiene más de 500 piezas procedentes de tres yacimientos sumergidos del Antiguo Egipto. En la inscripción en griego 'Dia Chrstou o goistais', la palabra 'goistais' significaría «mago», mientras que Chrstou designaría el nombre del celebrante, aunque también podría significar el Mesías. En este caso, la vasija habría sido utilizada por un mago que, para legitimar sus poderes sobrenaturales, habría invocado a Cristo. «No es descabellado pensar esto, ya que hay que tener en cuenta que en la época de la que estamos hablando, en el primer siglo de nuestra era, la comunicación del Portus Magnus de Alejandría con la región de Palestina era muy fluida, con barcos que llegaban de allí a diario. Es muy probable que en Alejandría estuvieran al corriente de la existencia de Jesús y de los milagros que estaba obrando no muy lejos de allí y que los magos realizaran ritos en su nombre», explicó Goddio. A pesar de que la vasija está expuesta en Madrid, un gran equipo de expertos investigadores continúa investigando sobre la pieza y su origen y, es probable que en los próximos meses, las teorías sobre el significado de la inscripción se simplifiquen. Texto íntegro de este artículo

"Braided Lady" Mummy to be Examined

Here's another interesting article - Associated Press - September 20, 2008 7:14 PM ET WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An ancient cold case has brought a leading Egyptologist to Wichita this weekend. Bob Brier plans to study a mummy on display at the Museum of World Treasures to see if she was connected to a 3,000-year-old murder plot involving an Egyptian pharaoh. Brier, a Long Island University professor, is sometimes called "Mr. Mummy" after a television special he made a few years ago. The mummy he's studying at the Wichita museum is known as the "Braided Lady" because of her hairstyle. Museum officials say the woman stood about 4 feet, 10 inches when she was alive and suffered from a curvature of the spine. But little else in known about her. Brier says he plans to closely examine the Braided Lady's teeth, bones and fingernails in an attempt to learn more about her life. Information from: The Wichita Eagle, Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sasanian Burial Practice Indicates Special Status for Women

Interesting - CAIS NEWS © Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World Discovery of a New Sasanian Burial Method in Pahlauj 21 September 2008 LONDON, (CAIS) -- An anthropologist said that the nails around the ancient Pahluj skeletons imply an unknown style of burial carried out for females during the late Sasanian or early post-Sasanian era (650-851 CE). “We face an unknown style of burial, in which nails have been located upside down on the earth, maybe in order to hold a sheet of wood above the bodies in the graves,” Farzad Foruzanfar told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday. “The bodies have not been buried in coffins because no remains of wood have been found under the skeletons. However we have found a brown powder of wood on some of the nails’ points,” he added. The graves were discovered during the rescue excavation, which has begun at the site near the village of Mirar-Kola in northern Iran in late August. Pahluj, which is home to several sites dating back from 1000 BCE to 9th century CE, will be completely submerged under water and mud when the Alborz Dam becomes operational. Pahluj is located in the Savadkuh region of Mazandaran Province. “The nails have been used in the females’ burial and they have not been found in the males’ graves. This indicates that females were buried in a unique manner during that period of the times,” Foruzanfar explained. “The nails were located parallel at specific points at the same distances,” he added. Mehdi Abedini, the director of the archaeological team working at the 3000-year-old site had previously said that the bodies were buried with nails beside their knees and beside their left shoulders, and bunch of nails over and under their heads and feet. “The existence of bunch of the nails over and under the bodies’ heads and feet is very strange indeed and we have no explanation for them yet,” Foruzanfar said. The archaeologists have also discovered silver spoons, bracelets, and beads made of lapis lazuli at the graves. Due to the discoveries, experts believe that women enjoyed a special status during the late Sasanian, early post-Sasanian period in the region.
These burials are well within the historical period, and yet there evidently is no written record of this particular burial practice and its meaning! Will it ever be known? Here is an initial report of the discovery on September 10, 2008 from the Fars News Agency: Pre-Islamic Necropolis Found in Northern Iran TEHRAN (FNA)- Archeologists have discovered a burial ground and a unique burial ritual dating back to Sassanid and post-Islamic eras in northern Iran. Recent excavations in the northern province of Mazandaran uncovered a burial ground, and brought to light a unique burial ritual. Nails were discovered around the ancient bodies, but archeologists say that these did not come from any coffin. The nails were found in a deliberate pattern. One nail was found beside the knee, one beside the left shoulder, some on top of the head and a few others under the feet, CHN reported. The specific practice has not been observed in any other historical study. Archeologists therefore believe the discovery of the burial ground could be of great importance. The graves all belong to young people and children, and the nail patterns have turned into a puzzle which archeologists are keen to try and solve. Silver spoons and bracelets, as well as turquoise beads were found near graves. Further studies of the burial site and the relics are expected to reveal more clues as to the meaning behind the nails, and the identities of those buried.
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