Saturday, November 1, 2008

Treasure Trove!

From BBC News 'Exceptional' Roman coins hoard Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008 One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove. Nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April. After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner. It is hoped the coins will be donated to National Museum Wales, which has called the find "exceptional". Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away. The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion. Derek Eveleigh, 79, from Penarth, who came across the hoards in a field of sheep, has kept his find a secret until the outcome of the inquest. He said: "I had a signal first and when it was deep I thought I better dig it - and that was it." The coins now will be valued by an independent committee. Edward Besly, the museum's coin specialist called it an "exceptional find". He said: "The coins provide further evidence for local wealth at the time. They also reflect the complex imperial politics of the early fourth century." 'Time of danger' It is thought the two hoards were buried by the same person, possibly two years apart. A similar find was uncovered in the area in 1899. "There was quite a bit of Roman activity in the area at the time, southwards from Cardiff Castle, where there was a Roman fort, to the Knap at Barry where there was an administrative building and there were farms in the Sully area," said Mr Besly. "There's a human story there somewhere but it's intangible, we can't really get to it but certainly somebody buried two pots of coins." "It could have been they were buried for safe keeping, possibly at a time of danger." It is hoped the coins will be given over to the museum for further study and to go on public display. Mr Eveleigh added: "All I found before was thrupenny bits and bits of metal. "I have had to keep it quiet all these months. Someone told me that when you find one hoard you find two." Also declared treasure by the coroner were two bronze axes from Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan. Discovered in June 2008, they were buried together as a small hoard. The two complete bronze socketed axes have ribbed decoration and are examples of the south Wales type, dating to the late bronze age (1000-800 BC).

In Perspective: Chess In Africa

It's good to keep in mind that as tough as we think we have it in this country with the current economic downturn, things are a lot worse elsewhere. Here's a story about getting financing to send the Ugandan chess teams to the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden Germany: Olympiads get financial boost James Ssekandi Story from the Sunday Monitor November 2, 2008 Kampala National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Kampala Club and Civil Aviation Authority (CIA) have supported the chess team set to represent Uganda at the 2008 World Olympiad in Dresden, Germany this month. NSSF has offered 1150 euros (about Shs2.7m) towards the players’ travel while Kampala Club contributed one return ticket. CIA has offered a cash contribution of Shs1m. “UCF (Uganda Chess Federation) highly appreciates the support received so far and strongly appeals to other corporate bodies and well wishers to assist the national chess team,” said Vianney Luggya the federation’s publicity secretary. UCF intends to send both men and women for the tournament that runs from November 12 to 25. The trip will cost the federation about Shs34m.

The Women Behind the Champion

'I’m not the only woman behind Anand’s success' Ankita Pandey and Vijay Tagore Sunday, November 02, 2008 03:34 IST (from How did Viswanathan Anand do it? Ankita Pandey and Vijay Tagore try to find the secret while chatting with wife Aruna, who is also his manager. Excerpts: You should know this best. What it takes to be a world champion? Lots of hard work and patience and the ability to rise above oneself. Anand consciously keeps away from controversy and politics. At times this has been very expensive for his career. But rather than complaining Anand would try to just play his chess. For example, in 2002 there was a plan to have a world championship and in that scheme only player who got a bad deal was Anand. He was unfairly kept out. It was a very difficult moment for us. We went for a holiday and came back and Anand said the only thing I can do is play my chess and enjoy it. He went on to win two chess Oscars in 2003 and 2004. This was some of the happiest moments of our life. When did the Bonn preparation start? Before Mexico we understood that Kramnik would have the privilege to get a match irrespective of what happened in there. It didn’t feel right but Anand said let me win Mexico and only then do I need to worry. He played some of his best chess in Mexico and won. Then within an hour the talk about the Kramnik match started. I really felt bad but Anand said I would like to play a match and not have a career where I haven’t got the chance and moreover I want to do something different. “Not for winning the match but when I look back at my career I want to feel proud that I played d4.” He risked and played something. It was when Anand said this, it really impacted me. It was at that moment we decided that we would give Bonn all that it takes and the whole Team Anand rose to the occasion. In Anand’s case, he never got a privilege and never tried to reason with his critics. He just said I will play and win and the rest takes care of itself. It is a quality that is very special not only in a champion but in a person. Does the privilege of being the world champion come with a baggage? Of course it raises the level. But Anand has been among the Top 3 since 1996. So he has been able to keep the pressure and play well. He is someone who doesn’t get too influenced by ratings and numbers. He likes to enjoy the game. He will try out different formats. He will try new variations take risks. In 2001, he understood that if you tried to hold on to your title you lose it some other way. You have to have the confidence of rising up to the challenge constantly. You are his manager. How do you manage his affairs? It was just a matter of convenience. Anand has a professional manager in Chennai who takes care of his endorsements and appearances. I take care of his tournaments and all the travel. In Bonn we had a close team of hans Walter and Frederic and myself. Our job was first to make a list of what Anand wanted and see that we provided him with that. At no point was Anand to find that he needed something. In fact, the negotiations started within 24 hours after Mexico and from the beginning we tried to get conditions that we thought were necessary. Keeping in mind that the match was organised by some of Kramnik’s closest friends and the organisation had members who were also Kramnik’s managers. We had to work doubly hard so that Anand felt comfortable. How difficult is managing a world champion’s affairs? It is fun. The greetings and wishes. Sometime people say why couldn’t he win before we can’t take the tension. There is a lot of travel a lot of fun. Anand and me have an ability to laugh off most things. So it’s nice at the end of the day when the whole team sat together and told each other how the three weeks had passed. It makes everything worth it. What are your duties and responsibilities?Basically putting Anand in a bubble. His only focus is chess.The logistics of travel, press and other obligations are just taken off his back.How do you handle his moods — post win and post defeat?Victory is always easy to handle. But in Bonn when he went 3 points up we understood that Kramnik would now show his true prowess and we expected at least one game could go badly. Before every game we would ensure Anand was confident at the board. His team put in an extraordinary effort. They would sleep only when Anand played so they gave 100 per cent. Before the game I would just tell him to be calm. How did he handle the 10th game loss? After he lost his 10th game I went back stage and Anand looked very calm. The only thing he said I should nail this in the next game. The team also just decided to forget the game. They had expected one game at least where Kramnik would get in his novelty and the move Re1 was very difficult to solve on the board. In fact we were extremely calm. Normally when Anand loses, the first hour is the most difficult and then you realise that you have to play the next day. But saying that the last three days were difficult. We found it difficult to sleep and understood that the half point meant a lot more. How does he cope with the criticism and the praise? He generally takes both well. He doesn’t really bother too much about what people say. At the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself. The rest doesn’t matter. During the match he hadn’t checked mail or the internet. So after winning he enjoyed a bit of ego surfing! Is there any particular defeat that rankles him? Anand has a terrific memory but he also has this ability to block out memories that are painful. Many times if you ask him about to something that was painful he would say he doesn’t remember much. Is there any particular win that you both remember and enjoy? Every win is special. Ok Bonn is big. Finally, you are the woman behind Anand’s success? There have been many women! First Anand’s mother who introduced him to the game. Then there is Nieves perea. She was Anand’s de facto Spanish mother. She doted on Anand more than her own children. When Anand was alone in Europe she would ensure Anand never missed home. When I married Anand and went to Spain she became my de facto mother in law too. We really miss her and it’s a pity she died in 2004 and could not see Anand climb the highest rungs of his career. Anand and me are a team. We try to be there for each other. All of us family and friends ensure that Anand feels comfortable in the event but the hard work and the chess is Anand’s. If he didn’t do that, the jigsaw puzzle would be incomplete.

Wisconsin 4th Annual All Girls Scholastic Chess Tournament

Soon the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation will be announcing details for the 4th Annual All Girls Scholastic Chess Tournament - I understand the particulars of the 2009 Tournament are being put together. I realize this is somewhat late in reporting (lol!) but I've only recently become aware of this important event in my home state that promotes chess for younger chess femmes! Way to go WSCF! Here are the individual standings in the K-3, K-6 and K-12 classes from the 2008 tournament, held on April 26, 2008: K-3 Place Name Rating Pts TBrk1 TBrk2 TBrk3 Rnd1 Rnd2 Rnd3 Rnd4 Rnd5 1 HUANG, ALENA 1019 5.0 14.0 16.0 32.0 W21 W9 W8 W3 W2 2 CHIESA, EMILY 648 4.0 14.5 16.5 23.0 W24 W12 W17 W4 L1 3 CATALAN, ANGELICA 450 4.0 14.0 15.0 20.0 W32 W15 W10 L1 W11 4 SCHNEIDER, CLAUDIA 519 4.0 13.0 14.5 21.0 W6 W23 W25 L2 W8 5 RATHORE, SRISHTI 458 4.0 11.0 12.5 20.0 W18 L17 W29 W13 W9 6 LEWIS-TAYLOR, DONNA 407 4.0 10.0 11.0 14.0 L4 W33 W23 W29 W17 7 ROBINSON, DESTINY 249 3.5 11.5 14.0 19.5 W11 L8 W12 D17 W19 8 ULATOWSKI, HANNAH 442 3.0 15.5 17.0 16.0 W28 W7 L1 W10 L4 9 O'CONNOR, HÉLÈNE 318 3.0 13.5 15.0 12.0 W16 L1 W24 W25 L5 10 LENZ, EMMA 397 3.0 12.0 14.0 14.0 W26 W14 L3 L8 W21 11 HUANG, SABRIN 611 3.0 12.0 14.0 13.0 L7 W19 W20 W21 L3 12 ILCHENKO, ISABELLA 313 3.0 12.0 14.0 13.0 W27 L2 L7 W18 W20 13 SCHNEIDER, MAYA 311 3.0 11.0 13.0 14.0 L20 W27 W14 L5 W22 14 REBHOLZ, MADISON 306 3.0 10.0 11.0 10.0 W22 L10 L13 W34 W24 15 RAJENDRAN, JASHMI 301 3.0 10.0 11.0 9.5 W33 L3 D18 D20 W25 16 SIDDIQUE, MANAAL 194 3.0 9.0 9.0 7.0 L9 L18 -B- W23 W29 17 ADUSUMILLI, ARIANNA 279 2.5 11.5 16.5 13.5 W34 W5 L2 D7 L6 18 GONZALEZ, MARINA 122 2.5 8.5 14.0 11.0 L5 W16 D15 L12 W31 19 SUBRAMANIAN, UMA 214 2.5 7.0 12.0 9.5 D30 L11 W22 W26 L7 20 DEPALMA, NATALIE 270 2.0 10.5 13.5 10.5 W13 D29 L11 D15 L12 21 HILDEBRAND, GABRIELLE 193 2.0 8.5 13.5 5.0 L1 W32 W28 L11 L10 22 GALIEN, SIERRA 112 2.0 8.5 11.5 6.0 L14 W31 L19 W28 L13 23 CHRYST, BAILEY 213 2.0 8.0 12.0 3.0 W35 L4 L6 L16 W33 24 ZIETLOW, MARIAH 111 2.0 7.5 11.5 3.0 L2 W35 L9 W33 L14 25 ULATOWSKI, GRETA 100 2.0 7.5 11.5 3.0 -B- W30 L4 L9 L15 26 MCCAULEY, MIRANDA 115 2.0 7.0 10.0 6.0 L10 D34 W30 L19 D27 27 OKORO, CHIKA 100 2.0 7.0 10.0 4.5 L12 L13 W35 D30 D26 28 PEREZ, ERIKA 100 2.0 5.0 8.0 2.0 L8 -B- L21 L22 W34 29 PETZOLD, GRACE 221 1.5 10.0 14.0 5.0 W31 D20 L5 L6 L16 30 WHITTOW, KATIE 100 1.5 6.5 9.0 5.5 D19 L25 L26 D27 D32 31 CAYEN, EMMA 100 1.5 5.0 7.5 2.0 L29 L22 D34 W35 L18 32 HILLER, MARLA 100 1.5 4.5 8.5 1.5 L3 L21 L33 -B- D30 33 RUCKSTADTER, ALI 100 1.0 8.0 12.0 2.0 L15 L6 W32 L24 L23 34 TROMPETIR, HAILEY 100 1.0 7.5 10.5 3.5 L17 D26 D31 L14 L28 35 RUCKSTADER, EMMA 100 1.0 5.5 7.5 0.0 L23 L24 L27 L31 –BWSCF K-6 Place Name Rating Pts TBrk1 TBrk2 TBrk3 Rnd1 Rnd2 Rnd3 Rnd4 Rnd5 1 EMERY, ELIZABETH 606 5.0 11.0 11.0 22.0 W11 W14 W3 W2 -X- 2 HOLZ, MARY 564 4.0 14.0 17.0 25.0 W8 W4 W5 L1 W3 3 DUBROSKY, JASMIN 377 3.0 14.5 16.5 16.0 W15 W9 L1 W7 L2 4 SMEATON, MORGAN 388 3.0 12.5 13.0 11.0 W18 L2 W10 L5 W12 5 SAGER, STEPHANIE 587 3.0 12.0 12.0 16.0 W12 W6 L2 W4 -F- 6 LEWIS, ABBY 544 3.0 11.5 13.5 14.0 W7 L5 W13 W11 L9 7 RAJENDRAN, RASHMI 301 3.0 11.0 12.0 12.0 L6 W8 W14 L3 W16 8 MERAZ, ODALYS 293 3.0 11.0 11.5 9.0 L2 L7 W17 W14 W13 9 MCCAULEY, ALANNA 722 3.0 10.0 12.0 14.0 W13 L3 L11 W12 W6 10 PATTERSON, HEATHER 224 3.0 9.0 10.0 10.0 W16 L12 L4 W15 W11 11 MISEY, ROSE 315 2.0 11.0 15.5 10.0 L1 W15 W9 L6 L10 12 GOMOLL, RACHEL 301 2.0 10.0 13.5 8.0 L5 W10 W16 L9 L4 13 WHITTOW, JESSICA 294 2.0 7.5 10.5 3.0 L9 W17 L6 W16 L8 14 MCKAY, RACHEL 413 2.0 7.0 11.5 2.0 W17 L1 L7 L8 W18 15 REDLINGER, JULIA 132 2.0 6.0 9.0 2.0 L3 L11 W18 L10 W17 16 MCCAULEY, CASSIDY 263 1.0 7.5 10.5 1.0 L10 W18 L12 L13 L7 17 MARLIN, LAURA 100 0.5 6.5 9.5 0.5 L14 L13 L8 D18 L15 18 STAUDT, SARA 100 0.5 5.5 8.5 0.5 L4 L16 L15 D17 L14 K-12 Place Name Rating Pts TBrk1 TBrk2 TBrk3 Rnd1 Rnd2 Rnd3 Rnd4 Rnd5 1 HUANG, JOANNA 801 4.5 11.5 12.0 21.0 W5 W3 W4 W2 D2 2 LANGE, CHARLOTTE 406 3.0 13.5 14.0 13.0 W3 D6 W5 L1 D1 3 KIM, MARY LIZ 730 3.0 11.5 12.0 9.0 L2 L1 W6 W4 W5 4 UNGER, DEBORAH 458 2.0 5.0 9.5 4.0 W6 W5 L1 L3 -U- 5 STEARNS, MADDIE 113 1.0 8.5 13.0 0.0 L1 L4 L2 -B- L3 6 FILALI, SARA 249 0.5 5.5 8.5 3.0 L4 D2 L3 -U- -U As you can see, there was a great drop-off in participants between the K-3 and K-12 level: from 35 girls to 6. As GM Susan Polgar has repeatedly pointed out at her blog, young girls who start out eager to play chess tend to drop out of the game in their early to mid-teens. Just speaking selfishly, as a nation, we could potentially be losing some female players who could develop into outstanding chess talents - and we cannot afford to lose even one of these potential stars! I mean, darlings, it's not as if we're churning out top 10, 20 or 50 world-class players on a regular basis. I would like to see more American players in the top 10 of international competitions - and in world events put together for children (World Youth Chess Championships) and teens (World Junior/Girls chess Championships). What's to be done? GM Susan Polgar has led the way in the United States by developing and promoting national girls-only events - we can do more. Programs to encourage girls to play chess and continue to play chess can be developed at local levels, in our own communities, and at state levels. But - it is local players who participate in the big national events that GM Polgar has been putting together, offering great scholarships and other prizes for the all-female participants. (GM Polgar also sponsors a great national boys event offering great prizes, so no promising young U.S. players are excluded from perhaps winning a 4-year college scholarship, laptop computers, and other great prizes). We must start at the local level to promote chess among our children. The benefits of young people playing chess has been well documented and I won't go into that here - I will post links to some articles that discuss the topic and provide much better information that I can do in my own words! This morning I had a lengthy telephone conversation with one of the members of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation. It was an eye-opener for me, and very informative. Perhaps because of reading so much about GM Polgar's efforts to promote chess as an educational tool (as well as a route to individual personal development) I was under the impression that scholastic chess in the United States is pretty well funded. That is not necessarily the case, at least - not here in Wisconsin. The WSCF, operating on a shoe-string budget (funding is primarily comprised of individual donations and net funds raised from entry fees for tournaments and chess camps) and run by non-paid volunteers (primarily parents of scholastic chessplayers), offered a total of $700 in prizes in 2008 for their girls-only tornaments, in the form of U.S. Savings Bonds. I hope I got that right! Can we do better? I know we can - we just need more people wrapping their brains around how to get better funding and how to better promote these fantastic events for our young players. I mean really, darlings, wouldn't you rather see our young people going head to head over a chessboard, using their brains, developing skills and abilities that will serve them well for the rest of their lives, than acting out their competitive instincts as gangbangers on a one-way trip to dead before 21? How about volunteering to assist at a local chess club? Or if your state has a scholastic chess organization, volunteer to assist it? How about contributing $25, $50 or $100 a year toward funding prizes for our kids? Imagine the impact on a state chess organization if just 50 people contributed $100 each. Wow! Think about it.

Thoughts on Voting, Etc. Follow-up

Here is a photo from this morning's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel showing a long line of people waiting to cast early ballots at the Municipal Building in downtown Milwaukee. People will be able to cast early ballots in Milwaukee through Monday. The photo was taken yesterday. The Municipal Building is across the street and down the block from the building in which I work, I know the area well, so I can tell you that the line of people stretched down two sides of the block in addition to snaking up the stairs to the doors into the building where the voting machines are set up. Wow! I'm thrilled to see this much early turnout. Some information from the article:
  • In Milwaukee alone, 14,000 to 15,000 people had voted by absentee ballot in person as of midday Friday, nearly twice the 8,000 figure from 2004. Others will vote today and Monday. And thousands more in the city had requested ballots by mail. (Milwaukee has a population of about 620,000, about half of which are eligible to vote).
  • Four years ago, about 365,000 of the state's 3 million votes were cast by absentee ballot, about 12% of the total. Officials have predicted about 15% of the projected 3.2 million votes Tuesday will be cast by absentee ballot, either in person at clerks' offices or by mail. Early numbers, while incomplete, suggest the early voting percentage could be surpassed.
  • According to the state Government Accountability Board, at least 211,472 absentee ballot requests had been processed as of Friday afternoon [state wide]. That tally does not include such large cities as Waukesha, Green Bay and Racine, which - among many other municipalities - do not track requests within the state's new computer system.
  • In Milwaukee, residents will be able to cast ballots today at the Zeidler Municipal Building, just east of City Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. In all communities, absentee ballots can be cast in person until 5 p.m. Monday.

In another article from today's Journal/Sentinel, I read that some election officials are predicting as high a turnout of 70% eligible voters in the city of Milwaukee. Milwaukee County, about 1,000,000 people, traditionally is dominated by the population of the City of Milwaukee, which votes Democratic. Indications from early voting point once again in that direction - more registered Democrats voting early.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hola! Thoughts on Voting, Etc.

No Friday Night Miscellany tonight - I'm just too wound up by the non-ending "news" about the election. Pray Goddess it all ENDS on Tuesday, I'm so sick of it all. The commercials are the worst - some are outright lies, others are blatant distortions, still others are almost relevant by pointing out differences in potential policy approaches (those are few and far between). I've had enough of both Presidential candidates in the U.S. running large frigging pep rallies all around the country. It's like - snore - so what? I'm tired of hearing John McCain's "My Friends," sick of Sarah Palin's phoney corn-pone accent, bored with Biden's too-wide smile (does he wear a toup???), and impatient with Obama's equanimity. I want to see a little PASSION, Mister! And what if I'm one of the millions of people in this country who does NOT own a computer or have internet access? How do I find out about the candidates' stands on issues then, heh? Someone who wants to know will NOT generally find in-depth analysis of the candidates' respective stands in their local newspapers (unless one happens to subscribe to The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, or The Washington Post), and certainly not from political hack ads on television and radio being paid for by the campaigns, the respective national party organizations for the Democrats and Republicans, and various private organizations. On the plus side, I have been extremely pleased to see as much as one-third of the potential electorate casting early ballots during this election. I did the same. I voted early in 2004 but I had to do so in person at City Hall - not a pleasant experience, as there were several hundred other people already standing in a snaking line in City Hall's small atrium when I got there at 4:00 p.m. after taking off work an hour early on purpose just to vote. It took hours! I didn't get home until 7:30 p.m. that night - I live less than a mile away from City Hall. I suppose I waited too long and I confess I had not educated myself enough on the process, so I don't know if it would have been possible THEN to send in an application for an "absentee ballot" (they don't call it "early voting" here) and vote by mail, which is exactly what I did this year - convenient, painless, easy. I downloaded the "application" from the internet from the City Clerk's website, filled it out and mailed it in. I could have faxed it but - call me old-fashioned - I felt uncomfortable with the idea of doing so. Yeah, I know, doesn't make sense - can't explain it, it was just one of those things, darlings! In Wisconsin, one does not have to provide a "reason" for casting an early ballot, so one does not have to come up with a "dog ate my homework" type of excuse. I got my ballot a week ago last Thursday in the mail and mailed back to City Hall on Monday of this week. It's done, and I feel glad, happy - and relieved - to have done my citizen's duty. Only silly thing - you need a WITNESS! Yeah - I mean - how silly is that - as if one couldn't cheat about the witness? There was an enclosure with the official ballot along with a postage-paid return envelope (taxpayer dollars at work, finally an expenditure I benefit from!!!) explaining that I had to exhibit my BLANK ballot in front of my witness, then vote in secret (I made my witness cover her eyes and swear she wasn't peeking), I filled out the ballot in #2 pencil, folded it up, placed it in the envelope and sealed it. Then I signed and then my witness signed and provided her address as requested. I wonder - do they check those addresses of every "absentee ballot" witness to see if they're valid or not? How would they do it if, say, a person is a renter and not a property owner (so no property tax bill data base), not a driver, as I am not (therefore no drivers' license data base to check from), and not a person who has voted in the past several elections - or ever voted, for that matter (therefore does not show up in any state-wide canvass of local voter registration lists). Hmmmm...would that mean my absentee ballot would be thrown out? Oh oh, now I'm getting paranoid. Hmmm... At any rate, I am glad for the early voting opportunity and the ease of execution to vote early in Wisconsin. Thank you, Wisconsin! In other states the process has been much more problematic, and I'm worried about that. If people come to vote early and are confronted with long lines that will take hours to work through, will they be daunted and just go back home without voting? And if they do go home without voting from early voting, will they show up at the polls next Tuesday? I live in a suburb of Milwaukee; Milwaukee has opened a large early voting center downtown, where a lot of people work and, I have to say, readily accessible by bus from any part of the city. I understand, on average, 1500 people a day have been voting since this center became available - but I don't know how long it has been available. But you know, any amount of congestion that early voting relieves from the polls next Tuesday is a triumph; as I understand it, "experts" are predicting the largest nationwide voter turnover - over 63%! - in more than 40 years. I suppose I'm being naive, though, in praying that there will be no legal challenges filed by partisans of Republicans and Democrats caused by legitimate and illegitmate reasons for discarding votes, or sending people home without voting, or mysteriously disappearing ballots or - oh Goddess, this is all giving me a headache. You'd think we were living in a third world country where stealing elections is commonplace! Geez! I'm going to go relax in one of my comfy wing chairs now, with a glass of wine, and open up "The Fire" where I left off a few days ago. I'm doing my first pass through Neville's novel slowly, savoring every moment...

Review of Katherine Neville's "The Fire"

From the Sun Cult classic author Katherine Neville makes next move By Oline Cogdill Mystery Fiction Columnist 11:18 AM EDT, October 31, 2008 Before The Da Vinci Code, there was Katherine Neville's The Eight. More than 20 years ago, this computer consultant's ambitious debut mixed a magical chess set dating back to Charlemagne with mythology, music and math. Set during 1972 and 1790, The Eight flitted from New York and Algeria back to the French Revolution. It featured more than 60 characters, including historical figures. With such far-flung settings and a plot that at first blush would seem to be a mess, The Eight should not have worked. Yet, it became a cult classic, one of the finest, most original examples of historical thrillers, opening the door for novels steeped in mythology, before it all got tangled up with Dan Brown. While Neville has written two other novels, The Fire is the long-awaited sequel to The Eight. Just as ambitious as its predecessor, Neville re-creates her fresh approach to storytelling. In The Fire, the search for the chess set is now up to Alexandra Solarin, the daughter of The Eight's heroine Catherine Velis, and her mother's best friend, Lily Rad. The story smoothly moves from contemporary Colorado, Washington, D.C., Russia and Algeria, then back to the 1800s Rome, the Loire Valley and Morocco. Lord Byron, Keats and Napoleon make cameo appearances. A chess set has never been more exciting than this one created by Neville. However, The Fire is even more complicated and it is easy to get lost in the story's various mythologies. The plot lags in the middle before Neville gets her chess game back on track. A 20-year wait for a sequel is too long, though The Fire nicely wraps up some secrets and twists that were never solved in its predecessor. Readers will want to first learn what The Eight's fuss was all about before tackling The Fire.

Temple of Artemis (a/k/a Diana) To Be Rebuilt in Ephesus

If it's true, this is a major story and a major financial commitment. The English translation is a bit "iffy" in places, but generally very understandable. From the Turkish Daily News Temple of Artemis to revived once more in Selçuk Thursday, October 30, 2008 The Temple of Artemis was built in the seventh century BC. But according to myth a madman set it on fire 400 years later. But as Christianity began to spread throughout Anatolia, a Christian ecclesiast outlawed the cult of Artemis in the fifth century. The temple was destroyed during the early period of Christianity in Anatolia. Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, will be rebuilt in Selçuk in present day Turkey The Temple of Artemis, or Artemision in Greek, recalled in both Greek and Byzantine anthologies for its magnificence, was once one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After decades of vandalism, religious conflict and decay it is finally to be rebuilt. Erected at the expense of the Lydian king, Karun, at Ephesus (modern-day Turkey) in the seventh century B.C., the Temple of Artemis was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, or Artemis of Ephesus, the daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of forests, hills, virginity and fertility. Artemis of Ephesus is often thought to be a cult of Cybele, the fertility goddess worshipped in Anatolia. Historians say that Cybele came to be known as Artemis over time. According to Christian literature, the Virgin Mary succeeded Artemis in receiving the devotions of the people of Ephesus. Bank of the time Numerous myths have existed surrounding the Temple of Artemis, the construction of which lasted a hundred years, and its plan belonged to prominent architects of the time. One of the myths tells of how the temple was burned down. According to the myth, an insane man named Herostratos set the temple on fire in 356 B.C. When people asked why Artemis could not protect the temple against a madman, certain wise men replied to them that Artemis had gone to help in the birth of Alexander the Great. The Temple of Artemis was not only a religious structure; it was also the largest and richest bank of the time. According to Turkish writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (the fisherman of Halicarnassus), it was not a madman that set fire to the temple, but the guardians of the temple, who got away with all the money kept inside. After the great fire, the temple was rebuilt. Alexander the Great offered financial support for the reconstruction but the people of Ephesus rejected his offer, saying one god could not give votive offerings to another god or goddess. The Temple of Artemis became less popular as Christianity became more widespread throughout Anatolia. The Temple of Artemis was pillaged, as Artemis was seen not only as the predecessor to, but also as a rival of the Virgin Mary. In the fifth century, Johannes Chrysostomos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, outlawed the cult of Artemis. The roof, the altar and the columns of the temple were removed and disposed of. Narratives suggest many of the columns were taken to Constantinople and used in the construction of numerous buildings. The first archaeological excavation of the site where the relics of the temple were located took place in 1869. It was during this excavation that the exact location of the temple was discovered on the western side of Ayasoluk Hill. Between 1965 and 1994, the area set the stage for a series of excavations led by Dr. Anton Bammer of the archaeology institute at the University of Vienna, Austria. During this period, experts searched for the techniques on how to rebuild Artemis. New temple not an imitation Dr. Atılay İleri, the founder of the Selçuk Artemis Culture, Arts and Education Foundation, met with Bammer 10 years ago to realize the reconstruction of the once magnificent Temple of Artemis. With support from Austrian scientists, İleri had Swiss architects prepare a plan for the reconstruction of the temple. İleri, who has dreamed of reconstructing the temple for 10 years, said: “When completed, the temple will not be a copy or an imitation of the original Artemis but the Artemis itself. And its sisters of the past will set their eyes on it with pride and emulation.” The original Temple of Artemis had 120 columns. Thirty-six of them were placed on cubic circles. If completed, the new temple of Artemis will be the third Temple of Artemis constructed in history. Its size will be the same as the original. A total of 25,000 cubic meters of solid marble, the original construction material of Artemis, will be used in the construction of the third temple. Sixty of the 120 columns of the new temple will have base plates. To find the best sculptures to adorn the restored temple, a lottery will be held to form a selection committee chosen from representatives of 196 U.N. member countries. Each selected representative will then select two sculptors from the nation they represent. The selected sculptors will then take part in workshops run by the Artemis Culture, Arts and Education Foundation. The sculptors will first begin work on the cubic bases for the columns, with sculptures to be inspired by either of two sayings attributed to Heracleitos of Ephesus: “War is the father of everything” and “Everything flows and nothing abides.” An international jury will then choose two sculptures from all the pieces produced by artists to be featured in the temple. One of the winning sculptures will be displayed on one of the cubic circles and the other will be displayed in the temple's yard. İleri said the project would rock the world of art. “When the temple is completed, the workshops will start serving as a school of sculpture. Selçuk will be the center of world sculpture,” he said. Expected cost $150 million The Artemis Culture, Arts, and Education Foundation was opened in Selçuk in September 2007. The foundation's mission is to reconstruct the Artemis Temple. The project is expected to cost $150 million. The foundation will complete the project with no financial assistance from the state. İleri said the Culture and Tourism Ministry welcomes the project. The foundation applied to the ministry for the allocation of land via the Selçuk Municipality. The new temple will be constructed on an area called Kurutepe, 1,500 meters away from the temple's original location. Construction will begin when official permission is provided for land allocation.

Oldest Hebrew Writing Yet Discovered?

'Oldest Hebrew script' is found Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008 Five lines of ancient script on a shard of pottery could be the oldest example of Hebrew writing ever discovered, an archaeologist in Israel says. The shard was found by a teenage volunteer during a dig about 20km (12 miles) south-west of Jerusalem. Experts at Hebrew University said dating showed it was written 3,000 years ago - about 1,000 years earlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other scientists cautioned that further study was needed to understand it. Preliminary investigations since the shard was found in July have deciphered some words, including judge, slave and king. The characters are written in proto-Canaanite, a precursor of the Hebrew alphabet. King David Lead archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel identified it as Hebrew because of a three-letter verb meaning "to do" which he said was only used in Hebrew. "That leads us to believe that this is Hebrew, and that this is the oldest Hebrew inscription that has been found," he said. The shard and other artefacts were found at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Valley of Elah where the Bible says the Israelite David fought the Philistine giant Goliath. Mr Garfinkel said the findings could shed significant light on the period of King David's reign. "The chronology and geography of Khirbet Qeiyafa create a unique meeting point between the mythology, history, historiography and archaeology of King David." But his colleagues at Hebrew University said the Israelites were not the only ones using proto-Canaanite characters, therefore making it difficult to prove it was Hebrew and not a related tongue spoken in the area at the time. Hebrew University archaeologist Amihai Mazar said the inscription was "very important", as it is the longest proto-Canaanite text ever found. "The differentiation between the scripts, and between the languages themselves in that period, remains unclear," he said.

Late Gallo-Roman Altar to Goddess Fortuna Found

30-OCT-08 Limestone altar Discovered at Dalheim Roman Dig Following previous archaelogical discoveries at the Dalheim dig (see, another artefact has been discovered. The site of the former Gallo-Roman baths has now produced what is described as an "exceptional archaeological discovery". The National Museum of History and Art (MNHA), led by the young German archaeologist Heike Posch and overseen by the curator John Krier, has uncovered fragments of a large 1.3m high limestone altar. The discovery dates from the 3rd century AD and has a Latin inscription showing that the altar was dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. The text over 10 lines mentions not only the people of Ricciacum vicus, but it also describes the return of the portico of the building baths, destroyed 'by violent barbarians', probably during an incursion by Germans. The curator of the work undertaken at that time was a soldier of the 8th Augusta legion stationed in Strasbourg. The fragments have been transferred to the MNHA workshop in Bertrange where they will be restored. Other major surprises are not excluded in further excavation work at the site.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Story That Will Not Die

From the San Francisco Chronicle: Ossuary hoax case may collapse Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service Thursday, October 30, 2008 (10-30) 04:00 PDT Jerusalem - -- The high-profile trial of two Israeli antiquities experts accused of faking a burial box containing the remains of Jesus' brother and other priceless artifacts faced a humiliating collapse Wednesday after a Jerusalem judge advised the prosecution to consider dropping the proceedings after more than three years in court. "After all the evidence we have heard, including the testimony of the prime defendant, is the picture still the same as the one you had when he was charged?" District Court Judge Aharon Farkash pointedly asked public prosecutor, Adi Damti. "Not every case ends in the way you think it will when it starts. Maybe we can save ourselves the rest." The discovery of an ossuary or burial box inscribed "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus" created a sensation when first displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2002. If authentic, it would be the only physical evidence ever discovered directly linked to the family of Jesus. But the owner of the ossuary, Israeli engineer and collector Oded Golan, was arrested by Israeli police in 2003, and then charged a year later along with four others on 18 counts of forgery, fraud and damaging archaeological artifacts. 'Unholy Business' In her new book on the case entitled "Unholy Business, A True Tale of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land," author Nina Burleigh appears to believe that Golan is guilty, but suspects his lawyers have raised enough doubts to avoid conviction. The often explosive testimony has given a rare insight into the shadowy world behind the apparently cultured facade of priceless antiquities. Witnesses have described furtive encounters with Arab grave robbers, international smuggling and transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a handshake. But the collapse of the prosecution's case would be a major embarrassment for the Israeli police and Israel Antiquities Authority. They maintain the defendants faked the burial box along with other biblical-era relics that were then sold for huge sums of money and sent to major collections and museums around the world. "This was fraud of a sophistication and expertise which was previously unknown," said Police Comdt. Shaul Naim, who headed a two-year police investigation. "They took authentic items and added inscriptions to make them worth millions." Scholars appointed to a special committee convened by the Israel Antiquities Authority accused Golan and his co-defendants of taking valuable ancient relics and adding inscriptions to increase their value. Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, had described the charges against Golan as "the tip of the iceberg. These forgeries have worldwide repercussions," he said after the indictments were filed. "They were an attempt to change the history of the Jewish and Christian people." But under cross-examination by defense attorneys, many experts recanted some of their findings. Judge Farkash's comments, which were excluded from trial transcripts but said in open court, came after more than 80 witnesses and 10,000 pages of testimony including evidence and cross-examination of Golan and leading archaeologists and scientists from around the world. No definitive proof "Have you really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that these artifacts are fakes as charged in the indictment? The experts disagreed among themselves. Where is the definitive proof needed to show that the accused faked the ossuary?" Judge Farkash asked prosecutor Damti. "You need to ask yourselves those questions very seriously, and if necessary consult with your superiors in the public prosecutor's office." The two most important items said to be fakes were the James ossuary - a limestone burial box in use during the time of Jesus and a black stone tablet inscribed with 14 lines commemorating renovations to the Temple in Jerusalem by the biblical King Joash. Golan, a 57-year-old world-renowned expert who started collecting antiquities when he was 8 years old, has consistently denied all charges during the more than three years of proceedings. "The James ossuary and the Joash Tablet are 100 percent authentic. I have never faked an archaeological artifact in my life," he has said. To date, witnesses have included antiquities dealers, museum curators, experts and professors of archaeology, history, epigraphy and chemical isotopes from leading universities and museums in Israel and around the world. In four days of testimony, multimillionaire collector Shlomo Moussaieff described scenes where dealers, professors and even Israeli diplomats came to his home, produced rare antiquities from their pockets and negotiated sales worth thousands of dollars. On one occasion, Moussaieff sent his personal banker with Golan to buy some rare seal impressions from a Palestinian villager. They parked their car on a dirt road near the border with the West Bank and when the Palestinian arrived they gave him a bag containing $150,000 in cash. Charges dropped for 2 Charges against two of the defendants were dropped during the trial. Another man pleaded guilty to a minor charge unrelated to the main accusations, leaving Golan and antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch, who were alleged to have been the leaders of the supposed forgery ring. "I have never faked anything nor committed any crime," said Deutsch. "The authorities have ruined my reputation and I have lost my university teaching position because of the baseless charges leveled against me. When this is over, I will sue them for slander." Meanwhile, Judge Farkash has advised the prosecution to think about continuing the case before reconvening the trial in January. E-mail Matthew Kalman at This article appeared on page A - 15 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Oh Those Randy Phoenicians!

Phoenicians Left Deep Genetic Mark, Study Shows By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD Published: October 30, 2008 The Phoenicians, enigmatic people from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, stamped their mark on maritime history, and now research has revealed that they also left a lasting genetic imprint. Scientists reported Thursday that as many as 1 in 17 men living today on the coasts of North Africa and southern Europe may have a Phoenician direct male-line ancestor. These men were found to retain identifiable genetic signatures from the nearly 1,000 years the Phoenicians were a dominant seafaring commercial power in the Mediterranean basin, until their conquest by Rome in the 2nd century B.C. The Phoenicians who founded Carthage, a great city that rivaled Rome. They introduced the alphabet to writing systems, exported cedars of Lebanon for shipbuilding and marketed the regal purple dye made from the murex shell. The name Phoenica, for their base in what is present-day Lebanon and southern Syria, means “land of purple.” Then the Phoenicians, their fortunes in sharp decline after defeat in the Punic Wars, disappeared as a distinct culture. The monumental ruins of Carthage, at modern Tunis, are about the only visible reminders of their former greatness. The scientists who conducted the new research said this was the first application of a new analytic method for detecting especially subtle genetic influences of historical population migrations. Such investigations, supplementing the traditional stones-and-bones work of archaeology, are contributing to a deeper understanding of human mobility over time. The study was directed by the Genographic Project, a partnership of the National Geographic Society and IBM Corporation, with additional support from the Waitt Family Foundation. The international team described the findings in the current American Journal of Human Genetics. “When we started, we knew nothing about the genetics of the Phoenicians,” Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England, said in an announcement. “All we had to guide us was history: we knew where they had and hadn’t settled.” It proved to be enough, Dr. Tyler-Smith and Spencer Wells, a geneticist who directs the Genographic Project, said in telephone interviews. Samples of the male Y-chromosome were collected from 1,330 men now living at six sites known to have been settled in antiquity as colonies and trading outposts of the Phoenicians. The sites were in Cyprus, Malta, Morocco, the West Bank, , Syria and Tunisia. Each participant, whose inner cheek was swabbed for the samples, had at least three generations of indigenous ancestry at the site. To this was added data already available from Lebanon and previously published chromosome findings from nearly 6,000 men at 56 sites throughout the Mediterranean region. The data were then compared with similar research from neighboring communities having no link to Phoenician settlers. From the research emerged a distinctive Phoenician genetic signature, in contrast to genetic traces spread by other migrations, like those of late Stone-Age farmers, Greek colonists and the Jewish Diaspora. The scientists thus concluded that, for example, one boy in each school class from Cyprus to Tunis may be a descendant of Phoenician traders. “We were lucky in one respect,” Pierre A. Zalloua, a geneticist at Lebanese American University in Beirut who was a principal author of the journal report, said in an interview. “So many Phoenician settlement sites were geographically close to non-Phoenician sites, making it easier to distinguish differences in genetic patterns.” In the journal article, the researchers wrote that the work “underscores the effectiveness of Y-chromosomal variability” in tracing human migrations. “Our methodology,” they concluded, “can be applied to any historically documented expansion in which contact and noncontact sites can be identified.” Dr. Zalloua said that with further research it might be possible to refine genetic patterns to reveal phases of the Phoenician expansion over time — “first to Cyprus, then Malta and Africa, all the way to Spain.” Perhaps, he added, the genes may hold clues to which Phoenician cities — Byblos, Tyre or Sidon — settled certain colonies. Dr. Wells, a specialist in applying genetics to migration studies who is also an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, suggested that similar projects in the future could investigate the genetic imprint from the Celtic expansion across the European continent, the Inca through South America, Alexander’s march through central and south Asia and multicultural traffic on the Silk Road.
Fascinating article, and it goes to show that we still have a long way to go before we can really start talking nuts and bolts about DNA. Exciting times ahead in this developing area of research.

This Is Not Funny

Regardless of what your politcal stance may be, in this election and outside of it, this is not funny - and neither is the report mentioned in the article below that an effigy of Sarah Palin was hung. Pathetic, disgusting. I hope they ream the full force of the law up the butts of both of the a-holes. 2 Arrested for Hanging Obama Effigy on Ky. Campus By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: October 30, 2008 Filed at 8:40 p.m. ET LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Two men have been arrested for hanging a Barack Obama effigy from a tree on the University of Kentucky campus. University police say 22-year-old student Joe Fischer and 21-year-old Hunter Bush turned themselves in Thursday afternoon. Both men were jailed Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct, burglary and theft. Jail officials did not know who the men's attorneys were. UK Police Interim Chief Joe Monroe says university police interviewed the men, who described the incident as a ''stunt that had gotten out of hand.'' The effigy was found hanging from a tree with a noose around its neck Wednesday morning. Monroe says the men told police they decided to do it after seeing reports about a Sarah Palin effigy.


"Penis," Hindu symbol of any god, usually Shiva. The lingam-yoni is still the supreme symbol of the vital principle, representing male and female genitalia in conjunction.(1) Its verbal equivalent is the Jewel in the Lotus. Sometimes the lingam appeared as a phallic pillar in the cella or Holy of Holies, the core of the temple which stands for the Goddess and is called "womb" (garbha-grha).(2) Shiva bore the name of Sthanu, "Pillar," and was shown emerging from a lingam-pillar with his "jewel" or phallic eye displayed in the center of his forehead, a graphic illustration of the transforamttion of the whole lingam into a man-shape.(3) It was a Hindu custom to have brides deflowered in the temple by Shiva's carved lingam to make their firstborn children God-begotten (see Firstborn). Temple harlots were made "brides of God" by the same ceremony of the lingam, as was also the custom in the ancient Middle East, Greece, and Rome.(4) Besides these man-sized examples there were large pillars, which often became objects of pilgrimage. Many miracles were said to have taken place in the vicinity of Shiva's lingam.(5) Notes: (1) Rawson, A.T., 51. (2) Zimmer, 127. (3) O'Flaherty, 195. (4) Rawson, E.A., 29, 88. (5) Mahanirvanatantra, 335.


From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Lily The flower of Lilith, Sumero-Babylonian Goddess of creation; the lilu or "lotus" of her genital magic. The lily often represented the virgin aspect of the Triple Goddess, while the rose represented her maternal aspect. The lily was sacred to Astarte, who was also Lilith; northern Europeans called her Ostara or Eostre, the Goddess of "Easter" lilies.(1) Because of its pagan associations with virgin motherhood, the lily was used to symbolize impregnantion of the virgin Mary. Some authorities claimed the lily in Gabriel's hand filtered God's semen which entered Mary's body through her ear.(2) [Huh?] Mary's cult also inherited the lily of the Blessed Virgin Juno, who conceived her savior-son Mars with her own magic lily, without any male aid.(3) This myth reflected an early belief in the self-fertilizing power of the yoni (vulva), which the lily symbolized and Juno personified. Her name descended from the pre-Roman Uni, a Triple Goddess represented by the three-lobed lily or fleur-de-lis, her name stemming from the Sanskrit yoni, source of the Uni-verse. In 656 A.D., the 10th Council of Toledo officially adopted the holy day of Juno's miraculous conception of Mars into the Christian canon, renaming it the Festival of the Mother of God, or Lady Day, insisting that it commemorated Mary's miraculous conception of Jesus with the aid of a lily.(4) Christian artists showed the angel Gabriel holding out to Mary a scepter surmounted by a fleur-de-lis on a lily stalk. A scroll usually issued from Gabriel's mouth, with the words Ave Maria gratia plena, the seminal "Word," which made Mary "full." Aphrodite's dove, that other yonic symbol, hovered above the scene.(5) Celtic and Gallo-Roman tribes called the virgin mother Lily Maid. Her yonic emblem appeared not only as the French fleu-de-lis but also as the Irish shamrock, which was not originally Irish but a sacred symbol among Indus Valley people some 6000 years before the Christian era. Christianized France identified the Lily Maid with the virgin Mary, but she was never completely dissociated from the pagan image of Juno. Among the people, Lady Day was known as Notre Dame de Mars.(6) The Easter lily was the medieval pas-flower, from Latin passus, to step or pass over, cognate of pascha, the Passover. The lily was also called Pash-flower, Paschal flower, Pasque flower, or Passion flower. Pagans understood that it represented the spring passion of the god, like Heracles, for union in love-death with the Virgin Queen of Heaven, Hera-Hebe, or Juno, or Venus, all of whom claimed the lily. When Hera's milk spurted from her breasts to form the Milky Way, the drops that fell to the ground became lilies.(7) Sometimes, the Easter flower was not a white lily but a scarlet or purple anemone, emblem of Adonis's passion and called identical with his bride Venus.(8) Notes: (1) H. Smith, 201. (2) Simmons, 103. (3) Larousse, 202. (4) Brewster, 146. (5) Cavendish, V.H.H., 68. (6) Brewster, 146. (7) Guthrie, 71. (8) Agrippa, 103.

Padmini Rout Wins Under 14 Gold

Padmini Rout bags gold in World Youth Chess Championship 30 Oct 2008, 2307 hrs IST , PTI BHUBANESWAR: Padmini Rout of Orissa has won the gold medal at Under-14 Girls' World Youth Chess Championship held in Vietnam, official sources said on Thursday. The international master bagged the title with one round to go by beating Georgia's Jalabadze Natia in the tenth and final round, taking her points tally to 9.5 in the match held at Vung Tau on Wednesday. Congratulating Padmini for her achievement, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, "Her success has made not only the state but the entire country proud." "Padmini would now be a source of inspiration for young chess players in the state," Patnaik added in a message, expressing hope that she would bring more such laurels in future. According to sources, this was the fourth international title Padmini bagged. She had won Asian under-12 Girls' title twice and Asian under-14 title once before.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Lilith a/k/a Lilit Adam's first wife was a relic of an early rabbinical attempt to assimilate the Sumero-Babylonian Goddess Belit-ili, or Belili, to Jewish mythology. To the Canaanites, Lilit was Baalat, the "Divine Lady." On a tablet from Ur, c. 2000 BC, she was addressed as Lillake.(1) Hebraic tradition said Adam married Lilith because he grew tired of coupling with beasts, a common custom of Middle-Eastern herdsmen, though the Old Testament declard it a sin (Deut. 27:21). [Not the most auspicious of beginnings for a marriage...] Adam tried to force Lilith to lie beneath him in the "missionary position" favored by male-dominant societies. Moslems were so insistent on the male-superior sexual position that they said, "Accursed be the man who maketh woman heaven and himself earth."(2) Catholic authorities said any sexual position other than the male-superior one is sinful.(3) But Lilith was neither a Moslem nor a Catholic. She sneered at Adams's sexual crudity, cursed him, and flew away to make her home by the Red Sea. [Note the wings - an allusion to the ancient bird goddesses]. God sent angels to fetch Lilith back, but she cursed them too, ignored God's command, and spent her time coupling with "demons" (whose lovemaking evidently pleased her better) and giving birth to a hundred children every day. So God had to produce Eve as Lilith's more docile replacement. [Note: according to one of the biblical accounts of the creation of Eve, she was made out one of Adam's ribs; so, every time he made love to Eve, was he really making love to a clone of himself? Yechy!] Lilith's fecundity and sexual preferences show that she was a Great Mother of settled agricultural tribes, who resisted the invasions of nomadic herdsmen, represented by Adam [a/k/a man from the red earth - from the Bible, from dust you came and to the dust you shall return...]. Early Hebrews disliked the Great Mother who drank the blood of Abel the herdsman, after his slaying by the elder god of agriculture and smithcraft, Cain (Gen. 4:11) [Gen. 4:11: And now art thou {Cain} cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; - King James Version]. Lilith's Red Sea was another version of Kali Ma's Ocean of Blood, which gave brith to all things but needed periodic sacrificial replenishment. There may have been a connection between Lilith and the Etruscan divinity Leinth, who had no face and who waited at the gate of the underworld along with Eita and Persipnei (Hades and Persephone) to receive the souls of the dead.(4) The underworld gate was a yoni, and also a lily, which had "no face." Admission into the underworld was often mythologized as a sexual union. The lily or lilu (lotus) was the Great Mother's flower-yoni, whose title formed Lilith's name. The story of Lilith disappeared from the canonical Bible, but her daughters the lilim haunted men for over a thousand years. Well into the Middle Ages, the Jews were still manufacturing amulets to keep away the lilim, who were lustful she-demons given to copulating with men in their dreams, causing nocturnal emissions.(5) Naturally, the lilim squatted on top of their victims in the position favored by ancient matriarchs. [No doubt thereby triggering lots of control issues and deep psychological wounds in their male "victims."] Greeks adopted the lilim and called them Lamiae, Empusae (Forcers-In), or Daughters of Hecate. [The ancient Greek men would have hated and dreaded these Forcers-In because of their cultural preference at the time for homosexuality, copulating with females usually only to produce children.] Christians also adopted them and called them harlots of hell, or succubae, the female counterparts of incubi. Celebate monks tried to fend them off by sleeping with their hands crossed over their genitals, clutching a crucifix. It was said that every time a pious Christian had a wet dream, Lilith laughed. Even if a male child laughed in his sleep, people said Lilith was fondling him. To protect baby boys against her, chalk circles were drawn around cradles with the written names of the three angeles God sent to fetch Lilith back to Adam - even though these angels had proved incapable of dealing with her. Some said men and babies should not be left alone in a house or Lilith might seize them.(6) Another common name for the Daughters of Lilith was Night-Hag. This term didn't imply that they were ugly; on the contrary, they were supposed to be very beautiful.(7) As with their brothers the incubi, they were presumed so expert at lovemaking that after an experience with a Night-Hag, a man couldn't be satisfied with the love of a mortal woman. Notes: (1) Graves & Patai, 68. (2) Edwardes, 157. (3) Graves & Patai, 67. (4) Hays, 183. (5) Graves, G.M. 1, 190. (6) Cavendish, P.E., 99. (7) Scot, 512.

China: Now It's Bad Eggs!

I read a report yesterday morning at The New York Times about eggs being taken off the market in Hong Kong when it was discovered they were polluted with melamine. Now this report today: Eggs recalled, exports halted as China's food crisis worsens by Peter Harmsen Peter Harmsen – Wed Oct 29, 3:58 pm ET BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese retailers pulled eggs off shelves Wednesday and a supplier was ordered to stop exports, amid fears the toxic threat of the chemical melamine was far more widespread than first reported. Dalian city in northeast China said it had imposed an export ban on Hanwei Group, which sold to Japan and other parts of Asia, after some of its products were found to contain melamine. "We have told Hanwei to immediately recall all problem eggs, and we have halted the company's exports for the time being," said a statement issued by the city government of Dalian, where Hanwei is based. The problem emerged over the weekend when Hong Kong authorities said eggs from Hanwei were tainted with melamine, the same chemical that was mixed into China's milk products and led to the deaths of four babies. Officials and China's state-controlled press reported on Wednesday that eggs from other suppliers had also been found to be contaminated with melamine, which can give food the appearance of higher protein levels. Against this backdrop, some supermarkets in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities announced they were recalling various brands of eggs, although others appeared unsure what to do with the central government yet to give directives. A staff member at the Parkson Shopping Centre's supermarket in Beijing said eggs from Hanwei were no longer on sale. "We will not put them back until we receive test reports from the company that show the eggs we have do not have the same problems," she said. In Shanghai, a spokeswoman for the Lotus Supermarket chain said all the Kekeda brand of eggs from Hanwei had been removed from all its outlets across the city. "We are concerned about better protecting consumers' safety," spokeswoman Xiang Jun said. Meanwhile, authorities in Hong Kong and the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou reported eggs contaminated with melamine had been detected in brands other than Hanwei, and that they came from different areas of China. The discovery of melamine in eggs has raised concerns that the chemical could be infecting much of China's food chain. Initially, the problem was believed to be isolated to milk and other dairy products. In a scandal that made global headlines last month, it emerged melamine, which is normally used to make plastics, had been routinely mixed into watered-down Chinese milk to give it the appearance of higher protein levels. Four babies died of kidney failure and more than 53,000 others fell ill this year after drinking tainted milk powder and consuming other dairy products. The scandal led to governments around the world banning or recalling Chinese dairy products after many of them were found to contain melamine. The discovery of the chemical in eggs raised concerns that it could be in many other Chinese foods, with the suspicion that it was mixed into livestock feed to also give it the appearance of high protein. Authorities in Dalian said Wednesday melamine may have been mixed into chicken feed and led to the contamination of Hanwei's eggs. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in China told AFP on Tuesday that melamine may be present in a wide range of other farm-raised foods such as meat and fish. FAO China programme officer Zhang Zhongjun said the organisation had asked China's agriculture ministry for answers on whether melamine had been mixed into farming feed. Premier Wen Jiabao pledged over the weekend that China's food exports would meet international norms and win the trust of people globally, as he promised lessons would be learnt from the milk scandal. But the agriculture ministry and the body in charge of the nation's food quality have remained silent about the contaminated eggs, leaving some shoppers confused and angry. "We are just helpless," Liu Lihe, a 70-year-old-retiree told AFP as she shopped in a Beijing supermarket. "I don't feel completely safe whatever food I buy. I don't know what to buy."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fatricide for Property

Story reported at October 28, 2008 Woman accuses brothers-in-law of killing her husband to occupy his property By Younis Chandio HYDERABAD: A woman namely Ms. Zaiban, widow of Manzoor Jat, resident of village Chak No.56 near Sanghar staged a protest demonstration outside the Hyderabad press club, alleging her two brothers-in-law of killing her husband to grab property and throwing her out of home after snatching her two children. She told newsmen that she was married to Manzoor son of Nazir by caste Jat Punjabi and was living peacefully with her husband and 3 children. She said two brothers of her husband namely Naseer and Baseer wanted to grab the property of her husband that included also 32 acres agriculture land. She alleged that on 5th October 2008 her husband’s elder brother killed her husband over a quarrel. She told that accused Naseer was arrested by police. The next day her husband’s another brother from Multan arrived at her home Sanghar and allegedly after torturing her involved her in her husband’s murder. She said he took away her two children 8-year son Zulfiqar Ali and 3 and half years daughter Zunera and threw her out of her home.She complained that her brother in law has grabbed her and her husband’s all property which includes 32 acres agriculture land, two shops, 4 residential houses in Sanghar town, one plot at Hyderabad bus stand, cash in bank account, one motor cycle, 15 goats, 3 buffaloes, their home with furniture and fixtures. She further alleged that Baseer also got prepared a false divorce paper (Talaq Nama) in her name. Woman [notice, now she doesn't even have a name] said she has no place to live. She also expressed fear of life. She demanded action against her husband’s both brothers and recovery of her family’s land and other property from them. She also demanded protection to her life. An human rights body Peace and Human Rights Trust wanted to help her but an official from women development center in Hyderabad took her to the center with promise to provide her required help.
What is most striking about this article is not the fact that such horrific acts are still being carried out with, basically, impunity, under the current local judicial system in this Indian state; it's that the rest of the article includes news about sewer charges and the celebration of Diwali; it's that this kind of horror story - the murder of a man for his property by his brother(s), the abduction of his children, the torture of his wife, the production of false papers to prove a non-existent divorce to further dispossess the wife of her widow's property - is nothing out of the ordinary! Just another day in the course of a poor woman's life in India. For Shame, India. For Shame!

Samhain: Pagan celebration honoring the dead

I was raised a Roman Catholic; I believe this holiday was incorporated into the RC Church as "All Souls Day" that used to be celebrated on November 1st. I was taught in Catholic school as a child - and literally spent half a day in church (not voluntary) - praying to God to release souls from Purgatory. I haven't been a RC for a number of years, so I do not know if this holy day is celebrated any longer. From The San Francisco Chronicle ( By Susan Fornoff, Chronicle Staff Writer Tuesday, October 28, 2008 Word on the street's been pretty kind to witches in recent years, what with kids embracing the sorcery of the Harry Potter novels and Broadway glorifying blond Glinda and green Elphaba in the fluffy "Wicked," loosely based on the smart and rather dark novel by Gregory Maguire. Add to that the unblinking Bay Area acceptance of all that is different or outrageous, and this just may be the year to party with the pagans. The fast-growing community's biggest holiday - or sabbat, as holidays are also called - Samhain, arrives this weekend, mixing themes of harvest, renewal and communing with the dead. The latter isn't all that wacky, and in fact sounds like a form of prayer, with the addition of a celebratory "spiral dance." "I wouldn't know anyone who conducts a seance," said witch Deborah Oak Cooper, a member of the Reclaiming collective. "At the Spiral Dance (expected to draw more than 1,000 celebrants to Kezar Pavilion on Saturday), there's a trance journey, where you go to the Isle of Apples and visit your beloved dead. It's a meditation period: You go and look around and see who wants to visit." "You might create an altar and make an offering," said Starhawk, a political activist and the Bay Area's best known contemporary witch. "Then you can sit down and talk: 'Hey, Mom, sorry I was such a hard teenager for you to deal with. Now I understand how that must have been for you, and I wish you were here so we could sit and talk about it.' " Starhawk often represents paganism in mainstream media and events, but she admits that there are no definitive statistics on participation, partly because paganism covers many, many traditions. Imagine a religion with hundreds or even thousands of churches with congregations of no more than 13 (the number of full moons in a year, considered the maximum size for a coven). Modern paganism defies not only quantification but even definition. Try this one, from the Pagan Educational Network: "a broad, eclectic contemporary religious movement that encompasses shamanistic, ecstatic, polytheistic and magical religions. Most of the religions termed Pagan are characterized by nature-centered spirituality, honoring of pre-Christian deities, dynamic personal belief systems, lack of institutionalization, a quest to develop the self, and acceptance and encouragement of diversity." So there are Neopagans and Wiccans and Rosicrucians, Faeries, Druids, Gardnerians, Asatru, worshipers of the God, worshipers of the Goddess, worshipers of nature. "There's no clearinghouse," Cooper said. "It's the most disorganized religion, and that's part of the appeal." But negative stereotypes and stigma aren't. One pagan man who lives in Florida didn't want his name published because he said his neighbors surely would raise eyebrows; on the other hand, Bay Area witches said they don't need to hide their brooms in any closets. Several witches, in fact, stepped up eagerly to lay claim to the "pagan Martha Stewart" apron. (That apron would surely be black. Said Starhawk: "Witches often do wear black because night is a time of power and mystery, and also because black is slenderizing and doesn't show dirt.") "Martha and I both find crafty uses for herbs, flowers, home decoration and recipes," said Rabbit, proprietor of the Sacred Well metaphysical shop in Oakland and high priestess of the Come As You Are Coven. She added, rather craftily, "Our definitions of 'craft' might be different." Indeed. Starhawk was eagerly awaiting Dinner of the Dead, a feast that features food the participants' ancestors would like, creating a potentially global menu. Cooper was making sugar skulls - symbolic of ancestral wisdom - and votive candles to memorialize her beloved dead on her altar; there'll be a martini set out for Dad on Saturday. Astrologer Fern Feto Spring ( will pour a glass of wine and fix a plate of food for her grandfather. "I put flowers, usually marigolds and anything else that catches my fancy and seems like something my dead might appreciate," she said. And Rowan Fairgrove was practicing Samhain songs for her pagan singing group, maybe even a "calling on" song or two for taking blessings to houses that are visited on the holiday. Paganism sounds so much like other religions, and Samhain like so many other rituals, because, celebrants say, it is based on Celtic traditions and moon rituals. The celebration of the harvest sounds like Thanksgiving, the introspection brought by summer's end (technically, for pagans, when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio, or Nov. 7 this year) so much like New Year's Eve. And Saturday's festivities sound like the Day of the Dead celebrated elsewhere in Cooper's neighborhood, the Mission. "A lot depends on the mythos of the tradition people follow," said Marilee Bigelow, renowned tarot reader at Ancient Ways in Oakland. "I always have an altar in honor of Persephone, and so I always have pomegranates out." Last weekend, there were several spiral dances and dinners with the dead in the Bay Area, and also the Witches Ball in Santa Rosa. Rabbit's CAYA celebration Friday night will start with a potluck "dumb supper," based on an ancient tradition of dining silently with one's ancestors and beloved dead. Then priestesses and priests will "aspect" various gods and goddesses - high theater, said Rabbit. "Typically, the priestess or priest enters into a light trance and offers prophesy, wisdom and advice in the voice of the deity being aspected," she said. "Costumes, props and other theatrical components complete the overall effect. "After aspecting, our ritual will then move forward to the crowning of our winter king and queen. The premise is that when we appoint these individuals to represent the health, prosperity and safety of the community during the winter season, it is then the community's obligation to keep them safe, prosperous and healthy until they are relieved of their duties in May by the May king and queen. ... Finally, we complete the ritual with a spiral dance - an ecstatic, celebratory dance that serves to represent the turn of the Earth toward the next seasonal phase." The big events on Saturday include a spiral dance at Kezar Pavilion, where there will be altars set up for air, fire, water and earth, as well as for guests to honor their dead. One might call it Bay Area paganism's annual coming-out party - except that here witches feel little need to hide. "Mostly what I have experienced," Spring said, "is people making jokes of 'Wriggle your nose and make that traffic go away.' " Pagan celebrations Here are three local Samhain celebrations that welcome public participation this weekend. All are alcohol free and family friendly. Friday Come as You Are to Samhain: Potluck Dumb Supper (Dinner With the Dead) and ritual honoring deities of the Otherworld. 7 p.m. supper. 8 p.m. ritual. Bring a clearly labeled dish to share or your own brown-bag meal. $10-$20 sliding scale. Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Main Hall, 1924 Cedar St (at Bonita), Berkeley. Saturday NROOGD Public Samhain: Crafts, divinations, honoring the dead. 7:30 p.m. doors open. Ritual at 8. Suggested donation: $10-$20. No one turned away for lack of funds. San Mateo Unitarian Universalist Church, 300 E. Santa Inez, San Mateo. Reclaiming's 29th Annual Spiral Dance Ritual: Reclaiming's largest ritual. 6 p.m. doors open. Ritual at 7:30 p.m. Admission: $20-$100, sliding scale; 60 and older and 15 and younger, $10 and up. No one turned away for lack of funds. Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St., San Francisco. Take a closer look There's no clearinghouse for all of the nation's covens, sects, affiliations and practitioners of paganism, and Google can take one on quite the meandering exploration. Search "spiral dance ritual" on YouTube, and try these resources to learn more. Ancient Ways Book Store keeps a bulletin board and binder, and, in February, presents the annual PantheaCon, which brings together many practitioners of paganism in San Jose. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 4075 Telegraph Ave., Oakland (at 41st Street). The Come as You Are coven of many cultures is an example of the many choices available for Bay Area pagans. This group of 250 is celebrating Samhain on Friday night, with a potluck Dumb Supper and ritual in Berkeley. Covenant of the Goddess, a national umbrella for Wiccan congregations and practitioners, calls Berkeley home. Community Seed is an active pagan center in Santa Cruz that is holding its Samhain celebration Saturday at the city's Masonic Lodge. It has events year-round. The New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn, now in Berkeley, originated in 1976. Rooted in magic and Goddess worship, this San Francisco group seems to be one of the largest and most organized. This is one of the newer metaphysical shopping spots, and the fledgling Web site has a blog about magic and other pagan issues. 536 Grand Ave., Oakland. The author and political activist is the best-known witch in the Bay Area, and her frequently updated site contains information and events related to all of her passions. The Fellowship of the Spiral Path brings Northern California neopagan groups together. Perhaps the closest thing to a national directory for pagans, this site contains easily accessible listings by locale of groups and events, as well as lots of essays and information. - S.F.


Hola! The Showgirls have been sending me updates from Bonn, but none of them make much sense. It seems they are up to their beautiful ears in intrigue. Bambi seems to be claiming responsibility for GM Kramnik's win in Game 10 yesterday to bring the score to Anand 6/Kramnik 4. Play resumes tomorrow. Kramnik would have to pull off a nearly impossible feat - winning the last 2 games, just in order to force a play-off with Anand (rapid chess and then blitz and then - the dreaded Armageddon game if it comes to that), and he would have to win in the forced play-offs in order to reclaim the title from Anand. Depending upon what further reports I get (or not) from the Girls, I'll cobble a report together soon. Things will reach a climax - one way or another!!! - if it comes to a Game 12 in any event. We'll see, darlings. Meanwhile, good news is - I finally lost that blasted 10th pound! Weighed myself this morning and it was gone, vanished! Hopefully, forever! I'm a week behind schedule - target date for losing the next 10 pounds is November 25th. In celebration of my 10 pound weight loss, tomorrow I'm treating myself to an exclusive spa haircut - but since I'm pinching my pennies just like everyone else seems to be these days, it's only because I got a 50% off coupon. I haven't gone to this place before, but the hairdresser seems very sweet - young enough to be a daughter and outside today handing out coupons without a scarf or gloves on! She took my half-kidding scolding in good course so I made an appointment practically on the spot. I'm going for a "Posh" Beckham layered, angled bob (with bangs). Will let you know how it turns out, darlings!

Goddess Diwali: Prayer - It Can't Hurt!

Diwali: Can Goddess of wealth help plunging market? 2008-10-28 10:20:00 By Radha Kant Bharati Light is the symbol of prosperity and joy. In the Indian sub-continent a great tradition coming down from centuries is Deepavali i.e. festival of lights. It is celebrated after twenty days from Dashahara on Amavasya 15th Day of dark fortnight of Kartika month of Indian calendar. Diwali or Deepavali signifies different things to different people of our Indian society. Popularly it is believed that on this day Lord Rama returned back to Ayodhya after completing period of 14 years in exile. Thus the occasion of Diwali is the celebration of victory of Lord Rama. Side by side it is also celebration of Naraka Chaturdashi, the day when the Demon of Darkness and Dirt Narakasura was destroyed by Lord Krishna. According to another popular believe the festival is linked with Laxmi Goddess of wealth and prosperity. On this day Goddess Laxmi goes around visiting clean, lighted and decorated houses during the night and distributes gifts and blessings. The festival of lights is celebrated in different ways in different regions of Indian sub-continent. On this pious occasion feasting, merry making and joyful get-togethers are main features. Nowadays, all over India the festival of Diwali is celebrated with pomp and show and with bursting crackers well past midnight. All our festival seasons coincide with an increase in air, water and sound pollution levels. Noise levels have been a matter of concern as they are harmful to health and welfare of all. Noise pollution can cause both physiological and psychological problems. Subjected to 45 decibels of noise, an average person cannot sleep. At 120 decibels the ear registers pain, but hearing damage begins at a much lower level, about 85 decibels. Apart from hearing loss, noise can cause lack of sleep, irritability, heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, high blood pressure, and possibly heart disease. Noise-induced stress creates severe tension in daily living and contributes to mental illness. Keeping in view the increasing trend in noise levels, various regulations have been issued from time to time to control noise pollution in ambient air, at source and at manufacturing stage. The Supreme Court has literally put a cap on ‘noise’, crackers can emit. It is 125 decibels on an average. The ruling has had a salutary effect. In pursuance of the judgement and to collect bench mark data, all the regulatory agencies of the State Government/ Union Territories have been advised to comply with stipulated norms and to draw an Action Plan for ensuring the compliance of the directions. The concerned agencies have also been advised to strengthen/establish environmental cells at the State and District levels to check noise pollution and also to undertake survey in major cities specially before and after the festivals to ensure compliance. Intensive campaigns are also launched in print and electronic media about deleterious effects of noise pollution. For creating awareness, most of the State Governments sent their monitoring reports of survey undertaken before and on Diwali day and the reports so far have revealed that there has been a reasonable success in arresting the menace of noise pollution. The conflict between competing interests in society - safety, health, and calm on the one hand, and tradition on the other hand, has evolved over time, and the health effects are receiving greater attention. There has been a concerted effort over the past few years to reduce noise pollution by opting for light based fireworks as-well-as maintaining the spirit of Deepavali. Courtesy: Press Information Bureau

Monday, October 27, 2008

16th North American FIDE Invitational

One of the USA's promising young female chessplayers, WFM Alisa Melekhina, participated in the 16th North American FIDE Invitational in suburban Chicago October 18 -24, 2008, put together by the North American Chess Association. Here are the final standings: 1st - IM Valay Parikh - 7/9 2nd - IM Ben Finegold - 6.5/9 3rd - IM Angelo Young - 5.5/9 4th-5th - FM Peter Bereolos & FM Florin Felecan - 5/9 6th-7th - FM Dale Haessel & IM Emory Tate - 4/9 8th - FM Mehmed Pasalic - 3.5/9 9th - WFM Alisa Melekhina - 3/9 10th - FM Aleksander Stamnov - 1.5/9

2008 Cap d'Agde

Two teams facing off.

The ladies are having a tough time of it, while young Fabiano is running away with the thing!

Here are the results through the first game of Round 5 - second game of Round 5 and further is tomorrow:

Leaderboard Groupe A Group A -

-- Le classement Leaderboard Fabiano Caruana (2640) : 4,5 4.5
Vassily Ivanchuk (2786) : 3,5 3.5
Maxime Vachier Lagrave (2716) : 3,0 3.0
Ivan Cheparinov (2696) : 2,5 2.5
Bu Xiangzhi (2704) : 2,5 2.5
Alexandra Kosteniuk (2525) : 2,0 2.0
Katerina Lahno (2488) : 1,5 1.5
Marie Sebag (2533) : 0,5 0.5
Average Elo 2636

Groupe B

Magnus Carlsen (2786) : 3,5 3.5
Teimour Radjabov (2751) : 3,5 3.5
Hikaru Nakamura (2704) : 2,5 2.5 Anatoly Karpov (2651) : 2,5 2.5
Hou Yifan (2578) : 1,5 1.5
Humpy Koneru (2618) : 1,0 1.0
Sebastien Feller (2526) : 1,0 1.0
Almira Skripchenko (2455) : 0,5 0.5
Average Elo 2634

Essent 2008

GM Marie Sebag, who earned the GM title in early summer playing in the "Open" section of the Individual European Chess Championships, was the sole chess femme in this event (held in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands, I just love that name), and she had a rather rough time of it, taking some lumps, scoring 2/6, earning a sub-par performance rating. Sokolov ran away with the tournament this year. 1. Sokolov, Ivan NED g NED 2650 5 2847 2. Adly, Ahmed g EGY 2586 2½ 2538 3. Smeets, Jan g NED 2604 2½ 2532 4. Sebag, Marie g FRA 2533 2 2488

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ancient Carved Stone Discovered in Denmark

This is a really interesting discovery. Sensational Stone Age discovery October 20, 2008 An ancient stone with a phallic motif provides new information on Stone Age art and symbols. A young couple walking along Horsens Fjord in August this year made a sensational discovery – a 5-7,000 year old stone with a scratched motif. The 13x10x4 cm. limestone shows a man with an erect phallus and two fish. Archaeologists at Horsens museum were taken aback, and immediately passed the stone on the National Museum to determine whether the motif was indeed from the Stone Age or simply a later work of art using an ancient style. Ertebølle Culture “But now we’re sure. We believe the stone to be from the Ertebølle Culture between 5,400 and 3,900 BC. It’s the sort of discovery that is only made once a decade,” says Horsens Museum Archaeologist Per Borup. Apart from its phallic representation, the man in the motif seems to have some form of head dress with animal ears – possibly in the tradition of an Indian shaman. Edited by Julian Isherwood

Hatshepsut: Pharaoh of Egypt

AUB president sheds light on female pharaoh Daily Star staff Friday, October 24, 2008 BEIRUT: The American University of Beirut's (AUB) new president, Peter Dorman, who is also a professor of archeology and an expert on ancient Egypt, gave a presentation Wednesday about Hatshepsut, the only woman to reign as a male pharaoh over ancient Egypt. Organized by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum and held at the AUB Archeological Museum, the illustrated lecture was titled "Gender Trouble in Ancient Egypt: The Case of King/Queen Hatshepsut." It attracted a large audience, including Culture Minister Tammam Salam and his wife. In his talk, Dorman highlighted the uniqueness of the reign of Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, who assumed the role of male king of ancient Egypt, through her garb and title, as depicted in the hieroglyphs contemporary to her time of rule. Hatshepsut is the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (1500 BC) of Ancient Egypt and wife of Thutmose II - also Hatshepsut's half-brother - who died a few years after becoming king without a direct heir to the throne. Thutmose III, Hatshepsut's stepson and nephew, was too young to assume kingship at the time. As a result, Hatshepsut claimed power as queen regent, and then usurped it, by claiming to be the legitimate heir, by virtue of being the daughter of a king. Seven years into her rule, she also assumed the role of male king. "Hatshepsut holds a unique place in ancient Egyptian history since she is the only woman to rule in the guise of a male ruler," said Dorman. While surveying the circumstances that led to her becoming queen then assuming legitimacy for rightful heir for kingship, Dorman supported his observations with archaeological evidence - mostly derived from her funerary temple in Dayr al-Bahri on the banks of the Nile - that showed the evolution of her role from queen to king. "Hatshepsut no longer claimed legality for being wife of a deceased king; rather, by being the eldest surviving heir to the throne, and tracing legitimacy to her father in life and death," said Dorman. In conclusion, Dorman noted that Hatshepsut's images were intentionally and meticulously desecrated and destroyed after her death by Thutmose III, and experimented with possible reasons for this fact. "Hatshepsut may have been forgotten, but with research we have been able to recover important aspects of her life," Dorman said. Dorman is an international leader in the study of the ancient Near East, and in particular the field of Egyptology, in which he is a noted historiographer, epigrapher and philologist. He is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt and is probably best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period. His most recent monograph, "Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery, and Allusion in a Corpus of Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Egypt" (2002), examines artisanal craftsmanship in light of material culture, iconography, and religious texts. In 2007, he and Betsy M. Bryan of The Johns Hopkins University came out with an edited volume titled "Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes." Since 2002 Dorman has chaired with great success the distinguished department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations at one of the world's top research universities, the University of Chicago. Prior to that, he spent nine years (1988-1997) heading the epigraphic efforts at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. From 1977 to 1988, he worked in curatorial positions in the department of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. - The Daily Star
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