Saturday, November 15, 2008

Treasure Trove in The Netherlands!

Ancient Celtic coin cache found in Netherlands By TOBY STERLING Associated Press Writer © 2008 The Associated Press Nov. 13, 2008, 12:22PM (Photo: This hand out image made available by Amsterdam's Free University or VU and the city of Maastricht, Netherlands, Thursday Nov. 13, 2008, shows gold and silver coins. A hobbyist with a metal detector has found a cache of ancient Celtic and Germanic coins in a cornfield in the southern city of Maastricht. The city says the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins are dated to the middle of the first century B.C. The hobbyist, Paul Curfs, 47, found several coins this spring and called attention to the find, which eventually led to an archaeological investigation by Amsterdam's Free University. (AP Photo/ VU/Gemeente Maastricht, HO) AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — A hobbyist with a metal detector struck both gold and silver when he uncovered an important cache of ancient Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. "It's exciting, like a little boy's dream," Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular find was made public. Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was minted in the middle of the first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic tribes in the area. Curfs said he was walking with his detector this spring and was about to go home when he suddenly got a strong signal on his earphones and uncovered the first coin. "It was golden and had a little horse on it — I had no idea what I had found," he said. After posting a photo of the coin on a Web forum, he was told it was a rare find. The following day he went back and found another coin. "It looked totally different — silver, and saucer-shaped," he said. Curfs notified the city of his find, and he and several other hobbyists helped in locating the rest of the coins, in cooperation with archaeologists. Nico Roymans, the archaeologist who led the academic investigation of the find, believes the gold coins in the cache were minted by a tribe called the Eburones that Caesar claimed to have wiped out in 53 B.C. after they conspired with other groups in an attack that killed 6,000 Roman soldiers. The Eburones "put up strong resistance to Caesar's journeys of conquest," Roymans said. The silver coins were made by tribes further to the north — possible evidence of cooperation against Caesar, he said. Both coin types have triple spirals on the front, a common Celtic symbol. The two other known caches of Eburones coins have been found in neighboring Belgium and Germany. Maastricht city spokeswoman Carla Wetzels said the value of the coins is not known — their worth is primarily historical. The Belgian cache of similar size was estimated at around 175,000 euros ($220,000). The farmer who owned the land agreed to sell his interest to the city for an undisclosed sum. Curfs, a teacher at a nearby junior college, continues to own the 11 coins he found, but has lent them to the City of Maastricht on a long-term basis. The coins will go on display at the Centre Ceramique museum in Maastricht this weekend. Curfs said he considers his metal detector habit a meditative hobby and not an obsession. "I have advice for anybody hoping to get rich like this," Curfs said. "Forget it."

Viva Las Vegas!

With this horrid recession digging in for what looks like a long stay (would not be surprised at all, darlings, to see unemployment reach 10.5% in six-seven months), I have been reading article after article about the big hit that Las Vegas has taken -- tourists aren't visiting! Well, hell, who has the money? This is worrying to me, though, because our Goddesschess partner Isis and, of course, our fabulous friends the Las Vegas Showgirls (Bambi Darlin and Candy Kane), live in Las Vegas. Hotels and casinos have been cutting hours and staff. Tips are way down (dealers in many of the hotels make mininum wage, relying on tips to earn a living wage, the same holds true for housekeeping help and other hotel staff). Building projects have sputtered to a halt; large condos have gone off the board and those underway are being pummeled by worried buyers demanding back their downpayments. Because of the credit freeze, commercial project financing is more scarce than water on the Sun. The Wall Street suits (and criminals - one in the same if you ask me) who run the mega-conglomerates that now own most of Las Vegas and BIG gambling all around the world are actually worried! Of course, they are mostly insulated - suits don't generally lay off other suits - and they inflict the most pain on those far down the economic ladder from where they perch. When I practiced law these types of people were called New York snakes. Gave snakes a bad name. delion and I last visited Las Vegas in November, 2003. We were planning a trip to visit our friends NEXT November (2009). But after being bombarded the past couple of weeks with emails from Travelocity advertising cheap airfares and hotel deals to LV, I spent most of last night checking out hotel room rates and "last minute" airfares to Las Vegas. I started at Travelocity but soon moved to Kayak to check out the airfares, and then direct-shopped the hotels on the Strip to see what rates were being offered. The upshot is that dondelion and I will be headed to Vegas, Baby, for Christmas, arriving on 12/24 and departing on 12/26. We'll visit our friends Isis and Michelle and check out the latest changes since our 2003 visit. At least three major new hotels/resorts have opened up along the Strip since our last visit - plenty to see and do and cram into our short time in LV. We're not gamblers, we may plug some nickles into the slots if we can find nickle slots anywhere on-Strip (the last time we played nickle slots was at the Westward Ho in November, 2003, now torn down and replaced by an expensive mega resort). Unbelievable room rate for a "deluxe" (i.e., standard room with two queen sized beds) obtained at the Imperial Palace of $35 and $39 special online rate a night for the two nights we'll be in town. Also got a decent round trip airfare on AirTran (but I would not consider it "fantastically cheap") although AirTran did charge me $6 extra for each seat for selecting online seat assignments for dondelion and I! RIP OFF! That added $24 to our round trip fare total. Yeah, I'm a cheapskate! Times are tough! Money is tight! You know things must really be tough in LV when the reservations clerk at a giant hotel (Imperial Palace is part of the Harrah's franchise) chats you up like you're a long-lost friend! I do have to say that she was very sweet and friendly, and I enjoyed talking with her a lot. So, I envision dondelion and I sharing a quiet steak and turkey dinner at the Sahara steak house with Isis and Michelle on Christmas day, and driving their neighborhood nuts by going around singing Christmas carols off-key while dressed in shorts (where we're coming from, 50 degrees in LV will feel positively tropical!) Viva Las Vegas, Baby! I just love that city. It energizes me just like New York does.

2008 Chess Olympiad

Hola! No posts last night, I was just too tired after spending some time reporting on Round 2 of the Olympiad at Chess Femme News. I just concluded updating Chess Femme News with Round 3 information - on the link above click on November, 2008 and then click on November II for the latest news. There are plenty of photographs available through links at Susan Polgar's blog, there is also lots of photos at Chessdom and Chessbase. I find the level of press coverage on this Olympiad has been - quite frankly - remarkable! I've been writing about the chess Olympiads for years, in current and defunct websites and I've never seen this level of interest before. I have no explanation for it - perhaps something is going on behind the scenes with Susan Polgar (in charge of English-speaking press relations and serving as an Ambassador at Large for the Dresden organizers) pushing for coverage in the international media. In any event, the Associated Press has been publishing stories every day (thus far); press in India always follows events where they're countrymen and women are participating closely (USA papers could take a lesson from the Indian chess coverage); press in the Philippines is eagerly following young GM Wesley So's and their national team's progress. Jamaica has press coverage. So does Indonesia. A young Indonesian female player, Irene Kharisma Sundakar, is a star in her home country and has generated lots of interest in the Olympiad. The UK; Azerjaiban; Armenia; etc.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Record Oracles Bones Discovered in China

Dem bones, dem bones... Story from China Daily Record find of oracle bones in Shaanxi By Ma Lie (China Daily)Updated: 2008-11-12 07:10 XI'AN -- Archaeologists in Shaanxi province have unearthed more than 1,100 oracle bone characters, shedding new light on the number of such inscriptions in existence. The find was made at a cluster of tombs in Qishan county that date back to the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-771 BC). Lei Xingshan, head of the dig team, said in Xi'an yesterday: "Prior to our discovery at the Temple of Duke Zhou, less than 1,100 Chinese characters written on pieces of bone and tortoiseshell had ever been found." Members of the team have been unearthing scripts almost every day since the excavation began on Sept 1, and there are now more than 1,100 readable words, which is a new record, he said. Among the finds is the character for "king", which could help archaeologists learn more about the lives of the Zhou kings and the region in which they lived, Lei said. Also, after excavating more than 100 commoners' tombs in the area around the duke's temple, the team has built up a large collection of pottery and bronze ware that will help paint a better picture of the lives of ordinary people during the Western Zhou period, he said. "Coincidentally, we also found several items from the Yangshao period of the neolithic era (5,000-7,000 years ago); the first time such relics have been found near the Temple of Duke Zhou," he said. Zhou Chunmao, a researcher with the Shaanxi archaeology research institute, told China Daily Tuesday that the discovery of the new oracle bone scripts has great significance for the understanding of the formation of the Western Zhou dynasty and the structure of society at that time. Since the first oracle bones were found in 1898, Chinese archaeologists have unearthed more than 100,000 pieces of bone and tortoiseshell inscribed with characters. Archaeologists' interest in the area around the Temple of Duke Zhou was aroused in December 2003, after a team led by Peking University Professor Xu Tianjin found two inscriptions featuring 55 characters there. Prior to the record haul by Lei's team, 760 inscriptions dating from the Western Zhou Dynasty had been found in the area. Duke Zhou was the fourth son of the founding King Wenwang of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and regent to to his nephew King Chengwang.
Divination may be at the root of the earliest forms of "board" games. Chess historians pay scant attention to this aspect of the development of games, seeming to insist that chess is somehow "different" (hint: it's not, darlings). Theory suggests that the earliest "boards" were drawn in the earth with a stick or a finger. The shamans of the Dogon to this day continue to construct complex board-like structures by drawing in the earth in preparation for divination. Another line of thought traces the earliest development of "board" games to the development of agriculture - it is fascinating to see depictions of "fields" and the layout of entire towns along "chessboard" like grids that date back to 8000 years ago.

Women Gain in Education but Not Power

New study. By REUTERS Published: November 12, 2008 GENEVA (Reuters) — Women still lag far behind men in top political and decision-making roles, though their access to education and health care is nearly equal, the World Economic Forum said Wednesday. In its 2008 Global Gender Gap report, the forum, a Swiss research organization, ranked Norway, Finland and Sweden as the countries that have the most equality of the sexes, and Saudi Arabia, Chad and Yemen as having the least. Using United Nations data, the report found that girls and women around the world had generally reached near-parity with their male peers in literacy, access to education and health and survival. But in terms of economics and politics, including relative access to executive government and corporate posts, the gap between the sexes remains large. The United States ranked 27th, above Russia (42nd), China (57th), Brazil (73rd) and India (113th). But the United States was ranked below Germany (11th), Britain (13th), France (15th), Lesotho (16th), Trinidad and Tobago (19th), South Africa (22nd), Argentina (24th) and Cuba (25th). “The world’s women are nearly as educated and as healthy as men, but are nowhere to be found in terms of decision-making,” said Saadia Zahidi of the World Economic Forum Middle Eastern and North African countries received the lowest ratings over all. The rankings of Syria, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia declined in 2008. The report said the inequalities in those countries were so large as to put them at an economic disadvantage. [Heh heh, they think their oil will last forever, foolish men.] “A nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent. To maximize its competitiveness and development potential, each country should strive for gender equality.”

Population Control in the 21st Century

We'll just choke the "excess population" to death with pollution. I mean, who gives a flying rip, right? Report Sees New Pollution Threat By ANDREW JACOBS Published: November 13, 2008 BEIJING — A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations. The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, cooking on dung or wood fires and coal-fired power plants, these plumes rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America. But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002. “The imperative to act has never been clearer,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, in Beijing, which the report identified as one of the world’s most polluted cities, and where the report was released. The brownish haze, sometimes in a layer more than a mile thick and clearly visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. In the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California. The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots, among them Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Tehran and Seoul, South Korea. It was issued on a day when Beijing’s own famously polluted skies were unusually clear. On Wednesday, by contrast, the capital was shrouded in a thick, throat-stinging haze that is the byproduct of heavy industry, coal-burning home heaters and the 3.5 million cars that clog the city’s roads. Last month, the government reintroduced some of the traffic restrictions that were imposed on Beijing during the Olympics; the rules forced private cars to stay off the road one day a week and sidelined 30 percent of government vehicles on any given day. Over all, officials say the new measures have removed 800,000 cars from the roads. According to the United Nations report, smog blocks from 10 percent to 25 percent of the sunlight that should be reaching the city’s streets. The report also singled out the southern city of Guangzhou, where soot and dust have dimmed natural light by 20 percent since the 1970s. In fact, the scientists who worked on the report said the blanket of haze might be temporarily offsetting some warming from the simultaneous buildup of greenhouse gases by reflecting solar energy away from the earth. Greenhouse gases, by contrast, tend to trap the warmth of the sun and lead to a rise in ocean temperatures. Climate scientists say that similar plumes from industrialization of wealthy countries after World War II probably blunted global warming through the 1970s. Pollution laws largely removed that pall. Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow Rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these glaciers have shrunk by 5 percent since the 1950s and, at the current rate of retreat, could shrink by an additional 75 percent by 2050. [I fully intend to live this long - I will be 99 years old in 2050]. “We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the United Nations scientific panel. “When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it’s blown somewhere else.” Although the clouds’ overall impact is not entirely understood, Mr. Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said they might be affecting precipitation in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent. He said that some studies suggested that the plumes of soot that blot out the sun have led to a 5 percent decline in the growth rate of rice harvests across Asia since the 1960s. For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and wood-burning stoves. “The impacts on health alone is a reason to reduce these brown clouds,” he said. Andrew C. Revkin contributed reporting from New York.

$250,000 Chess Program - Out of Business

Ohmygoddess! How low-life can you get - ripping off parents and kids who just want to play chess. Where is the money? Families Duped Out of Money Popular After-School Chess Program Suddenly "Checks Out" November 13, 2008 FREMONT, CA (KGO) -- Parents from as many as three dozen Bay Area schools are wondering tonight if they'll ever get the estimated $250,000 they're owed from an afterschool program. A popular children's chess program has suddenly closed up shop. Know Chess rented space from public and private schools in the East Bay, South Bay and the Peninsula. The closures came without warning. Shubham Mandal of Palo Alto enjoys a game of chess with his dad. The 8-year old is one of an estimated 1,300 Bay Area children enrolled this semester in Know Chess. But the afterschool program suddenly closed down a few weeks ago. "It feels bad because I like chess a lot and they're stopping it," said Mandal. The closure left parents like Michelle Biche disappointed for her child and wondering about a refund of her $204 tuition payment. Her son Owen attends first grade at Delaine Easton in Union City. "I want to get better and beat my dad once," said Michelle's son Owen Biche. "I hope other people see this, and other people get involved. And that this woman doesn't go on and continue to do this because it's just going to disappoint children," said Michelle Biche. The Know Chess' office in Fremont appears closed. A neighbor says he hasn't seen anyone there in a month. Calls and e-mails by parents to Know Chess have gone unreturned. So 7 On Your Side went to owner Angela Hughes' condo in Fremont. There, we found a Know Chess parent also looking for Hughes. We followed her to Hughes front door. Hughes refused to open the door, but later told 7 On Your Side she's been busy responding to e-mails and phone calls and promised refunds in six to eight weeks. "It sounds like she's trying or wants to refund people their money. I'm not sure she knows when that's going to happen, and that's causing the anxiety," said Suzanne Ogawa. Meanwhile back at Delaine Easton, Know Chess is being replaced by a competing program, U.S. Chess Mates. The school district's nonprofit foundation has stepped in to cover the tuition for parents. "It's the right thing to do. Our job as a foundation is to work with the community to provide access to extracurricular, pro-curricular activities," said the president of the New Heaven School Foundation Phillip Crosby. We were the first to break the news to some of the parents. "This is nice. It's nice to see that you know our district cares as much about the kids that they say," said Michelle Biche. The donation covers children at Delain Easton. But the parents of 1,200 other children are still waiting for their refunds. We'll keep you posted. (Copyright ©2008 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

2008 Chess Olympiad

I've put up a brief report on the chess femmes Round 1 results at Chess Femme News at Goddesschess (find it on the navigation bar). Both American Teams won their respective matches today, hooray. After a quick perusal, it appears that the favorites did what they were advertised to do. I saw that GM Wesley So of the Philippines won his game behind the black pieces against a much higher rated player. The official website is a hopeless mess - I got my news directly from Susan Polgar's blog and I just do not understand how a website cannot offer current results! I don't want to see "live" games 12 hours after they were held! I want to see the team match-ups and the scores! Is that too much to ask, Dresden organizers? Whatever you have paid your web designer, it's too much!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Edition of "My 60 Memorable Games" Discovered

I was visiting YouTube tonight and did a search under "chess" when up pops this video, about a fellow's visit to a "dollar" store, where he visits the used books shelves and discovers a nearly pristine first edition of Bobby Fischer's "My 60 Memorable Games." I don't know if it is for real or not but it was interesting! He paid $1.00 for the book. Yes, that is One Dollar American. Amazing, absolutely amazing.

Egyptian Goddess - Who Knew?

Intellectual Property Watch 12 November 2008 Egyptian Goddess Puts Teeth Back In US Industrial Design Rights Posted by William New @ 5:17 pm By Steven Seidenberg for Intellectual Property Watch For the past two decades, industrial design rights have received little respect in the United States. But no longer. The recent court ruling in Egyptian Goddess, Inc v Swisa, Inc has dramatically strengthened industrial design rights in the US, bringing the country’s protections for these rights back into line with international standards, according to many experts. Please note: this article is password protected and only available for IP-Watch Subscribers. Well, I'm not a member of IP-Watch Subscribers but I did read the decision simply by clicking on it and voila! There it was in PDF! Ah, it brought back pleasant memories of the days of my own brief writing and oral argument! Of course, the opinion is boring as hell and after having been out of it for over 20 years, it took a bit to track, but I guess once a lawyer, always a lawyer. Damn!

2008 Chess Olympiad

I'm impressed - AP has actually put out a press release on the opening of the event! Of course, it's only about the men's teams (they euphimistically call them "open" teams now, but we all know they're men's teams, with an occasion chess femme thrown in for a little spice) but it's international press coverage. The Indian press is already putting out articles - here's one from the English-language The Hindu: New format to help India in Chess Olympiad. The Indian women's team is very strong: reigning World Junior girls champion Dronavalli Harika,Tania Sachdev, Swati Ghate, Nisha Mohota and Mary Ann Gomes. The Indian Women's Team finished in 12th place at the Turin Olympiad in 2006. Tonight is the grand opening. GM Susan Polgar was the torch lighter for this Olympiad. Here is a photo from her blog, which I presume was taken by Paul Truong, who is acting as the official photographer for the Olympiad. Truong has taken many of those great photos at SP's blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chess News

Hola! L'echecs des Femmes November 1st column is now up and running at Chessville. dondelion has posted a brand new Random Round-up (right hand column, scroll down to RR) at Goddesschess, and I've done some updating of October and November news at Chess Femme News. Enjoy! The 2008 Olympiad opens tomorrow in Dresden with play starting 11/13. GM Susan Polgar is acting as a sort of ambassador at large and the English-language news liason with the press and I understand she'll be publishing a daily review in Dresden's largest newspaper and also doing a daily television spot (this is per the Parrot at Chessville).

Katherine Neville "The Fire": Another Review

I've lost count! Book - The Fire: A Novel By Elizabeth de Jager Nov 11, 2008, 9:20 GMT Twenty years ago, Katherine Neville's book, The Eight was published to great acclaim. It defied genre - it was a swashbuckling adventure, it had romance, the epic worldwide settings, intricate mysteries, strong female characters and sexy Russian chess masters. I have tried reading The Eight at least once every two years since I first picked it up in high school. If I had to choose a book that changed the way I saw authors and their skill, it would be The Eight. Because of The Eight, I learned to play chess (badly), my love for adventure and mystery novels were born, and importantly my obsession with quest novels - I can't get enough of them. The long wait for the sequel has been worth it. We are introduced, from the very first pages, to Alexandra, Cat and Sasha's daughter. Through Alexandra we take each step forwards to uncovering the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance. The Game has begun again - pieces of the mysterious and beautiful Montglane Service has reappeared, triggering the start of a new adventure for the various players. The author deftly describes far-flung places as if it is her habit to take weekend jaunts there. She pulls us effortlessly into the past and history comes to life as she uses real events to elaborate on her storyline. Ms. Neville has always excelled in drawing vibrant characters and in The Fire she reprises the roles of many of the characters from The Eight. Favourites are Lily Rad, Alexandra's one-time chess tutor and the other is Ladislaus Nim, Alexandra's uncle, enigmatic recluse and computer genius. Ms. Neville is also one of the best dialogue writers I've ever seen. The dialogue rolls and characters' stories are told in flashbacks that do not detract from the existing urgency in the novel - and that in itself is hard to do! (Read ANY book on writing and you will see that they warn aspiring writers about flashbacks/back stories - they slow the story down, they are boring and should be used sparingly, etc. etc. ) Ms. Neville flies in the face of all of this and comes out trumps. The action is relentless. Intermingled with chess analogies you are taught bits of history, alchemy, the occult, poetry, religion and cooking and you are never bored by any of the characters as they all manage to hold their piece of stage by being plotted and created with a deft hand. If you've not had the chance to read The Eight, but you would like to get stuck into The Fire, do so - although it would be an advantage to have read The Eight, The Fire is very much its own creature and stands alone very nicely. The Fire is a feast - it delves deep into mythology and legend and demands your attention - there are no skipping scenes here, because if you do, you will miss crucial information to help uncover the new players of The Game. The story is multi-layered and it a strong compelling read.

2008 Chess Olympiad

Here is the Indonesian Women's Team: Sebastian Simanjuntak heads the women's team, which consists of Irene Kharisma Sukandar, Evi Lindiawati, Kadek Iin Dwijayanti, Desi Rachmawati and Dewi Citra. Irene Kharisma Sukandar is one to watch. She has been playing against male players in various events in addition to women-only events and has been sharpening her skills. Full article.

2008 Chess Olympiad

Here is the Azerbaijani Women's Team: Zeynab Mammadyarova, Turkan Mammadyarova, Nargiz Umudova, Narmin Kazimova (the main staff) and Khayala Iskandarova (a reserve player) will perform within the Azerbaijani female combined team. Anar Allahverdiyev is the chief coach of the women’s combined team. Full article. I'll be keeping my eye on Narmin Kazimova. She had some sparkling moments at the 2008 European Individual Women's Chess Championship.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Lady of Kazan: Another Black Madonna

I read about this Marian icon of Kazan earlier this evening in Katherine Neville's "The Fire." This image is from Wikipedia - see entry below. She is one of the "black" Madonnas - so-called both because of the often dusky color of their skin (in some cases, after cleaning, attributed to the accumulation of generations of soot from candles burnt under the images) and because in many cases they were either excavated from underground ruins or were originally worshipped in underground caverns, perhaps due to Marian persecutions. A famous Black Madonna around these parts is "Our Lady of 'Chestakowa' (spelled phonetically), revered by generations of Polish Catholic immigrants - Milwaukee's south side was originally settled by Polish immigrants and the grand basilica of St. Josephat's on South 6th Street and West Lincoln Avenue stands as a testimony to their dedication to the Roman Catholic Church. There is a Roman Catholic Church on the corner of South 6th Street and West Mitchell Street (don't know the name), with a large mosaic representation of Our Lady of 'Chestakowa' on its south side, just around the corner from the main entranceway stairs. Here is information from Wikipedia on the Black Madonna of Kazan: Our Lady of Kazan, also called Theotokos of Kazan (Russian: Казанская Богоматерь), is a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church. It has been considered a palladium of Russia for centuries. Two major Kazan Cathedrals, in Moscow and in St Petersburg, are consecrated in her name, as are numerous churches throughout the land. Her feast days are July 21 and November 4, (which is also the Day of National Unity). The icon was credited by the Russian commanders - Dmitry Pozharsky and Mikhail Kutuzov - with helping the country to repel the Polish invasion of 1612, the Swedish invasion of 1709, and Napoleon's invasion of 1812. The icon was discovered on July 8, 1579, underground in the city of Kazan, after the Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a Marian apparition revealed its location to a little girl, Matrona. The original icon was kept in one of the monasteries in Kazan, whereas its ancient and venerated copies [my emphasis added] have been displayed at the Kazan Cathedral of Moscow, at Yaroslavl, and at St. Petersburg. In the night on June 29, 1904 the icon was stolen from a cathedral in Kazan where it had been kept for centuries. Thieves apparently coveted the icon's golden setting, which featured many jewels of highest value. When several years later Russian police finally apprehended the thieves and recovered the precious setting, they declared that the icon itself had been cut to pieces and burnt. The Orthodox church interpreted the disappearance of the icon as a sign of tragedies that would plague Russia after the Holy Protectress of Russia had been lost. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, there were plenty of theories speculating that the original icon was in fact preserved in St. Petersburg and later sold by the Bolsheviks abroad. Although such theories were not credited by the Russian Orthodox church, one of several reputed originals [this should be - copy] (dated by experts to ca. 1730) was acquired by the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima and enshrined in Fátima, Portugal in the 1970s. In 1993, the icon was given to Pope John Paul II, who took it to the Vatican and had it installed in his study, where it was venerated by him for eleven years. In his own words, " has found a home with me and has accompanied my daily service to the Church with its motherly gaze."[1] John Paul II wished to visit Moscow or Kazan in order to return the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church. When these efforts were blocked by the Moscow Patriarchate, the icon was presented to the Russian Church unconditionally in August 2004. On August 26, 2004 it was exhibited for veneration on the altar of St. Peter's Basilica and then delivered to Moscow. On the next feast day of the holy icon, July 21, 2005, Patriarch Alexius II and Mintimer Shaymiev, the President of Tatarstan, placed it in the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kazan Kremlin. The icon is enshrined in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the site where the original icon of Our Lady of Kazan was found. Plans are underway to make the monastery where the icon was found into an international pilgrimage center. References "Liturgy of the Word in honour of the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan - August 25, 2004". Retrieved on 2008-10-13. External links John Paul delivers Our Lady of Kazan to the russian church, july 18 2005 (English) Rediscovered Holy Treasure. (English) Ikons: Windows into Heaven. (English) The Miraculous Icons—an entry on Our Lady of Kazan at (English) OrthodoxWiki entry on Our Lady of Kazan.

2008 Chess Olympiad

Here is the Philippines Women's Team: Catherine Perena Shercila Cua Daisy Rivera Cheradee Chardine Camacho Christy Lamiel Bernale The 60th ranked 2006 Team finished in 23rd place (a very good showing), composed of the following players: Sherrie Joy Lomibao Sherily Cua Beverly Mendoza Catherine Perena Full article.

More Ancient Coins Discovered

Treasure trove! From BBC News Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008 700-year-old coins found in field Three 700-year-old coins which were found in a field have been declared treasure by a coroner at Flint. The silver pennies date back to between 1307 and 1314, to the reigns of both Edward I and his son Edward II. Archaeology enthusiast Peter Jones, from Holywell, found a coin in 2006, then returned to the same spot a year later, when the other two were found. The coins were analysed by experts at Cardiff's National Museum of Wales who discovered they were 90% silver. Mr Jones regularly scours a field owned by his friend Ron Davies, for pre-historic items. He said he has found hundreds of old tools, made from flint, some of which dated back thousands of years before Christ. He told the inquest he did not usually use a metal detector and found the first coin in 2006 just "lying on the surface". The following year he took a metal detector to the same spot, and again found two similar coins on the surface. He said: "I just rubbed them with my hand and they came clean." John Gittins, Deputy Coroner for North East Wales, declared the coins treasure under the Treasure Act 1996. He said the coins were now the property of both Mr Davies and Mr Jones, and they were entitled to have them back. The inquest heard there was also interest from the Flintshire County Museum Service to put them on public display. Mr Jones, who is still deciding where the coins should go, said after the hearing: "Back in those days, this would have been a couple of days' wages for a soldier. "Whoever lost them would not have been happy." The inquest was not told where the coins were found, although Mr Jones described it as a "cracking site".

Breathtaking Pearl and Gem Earring Discovered

This was all over the news today - with good reason. This earring is a timeless creation, breathtakingly beautiful. Imagine wearing a pair of these beauties - the hair would have been up-swept or swept away from the face so that the earrings would be clearly visible; they would have dangled against the wearer's jawline. I love pearls - these, of course, are all-natural pearls from a time way before cultured salt and freshwater pearls were invented. I'm not an emerald fan - but these emeralds are not faceted (I believe they did not have the technology back then to facet gemstones like emeralds, sapphires, rubies, diamonds, etc.) and the color reminds me a lot of the semi-precious stone malachite, which has a rich varigated/streaked green color that I find irresistible -- like grass and budding leaves in spring. November 10, 2008 2,000-year-old gold earring found in Jerusalem By SHAWNA OHM – 11 hours ago JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli archeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old gold earring beneath a parking lot next to the walls of Jerusalem's old city, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday. The discovery dates back to the time of Christ, during the Roman period, said Doron Ben-Ami, director of excavation at the site. The piece was found in a Byzantine structure built several centuries after the jeweled earring was made, showing it was likely passed down through generations, he said. The find is luxurious: A large pearl inlaid in gold with two drop pieces, each with an emerald and pearl set in gold. "It must have belonged to someone of the elite in Jerusalem," Ben-Ami said. "Such a precious item, it couldn't be one of just ordinary people." In a statement released Monday, the authority said the piece of jewelry was "astonishingly well-preserved." Finds from the Roman period are rare in Jerusalem, Ben-Ami said, because the city was destroyed by the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. Shimon Gibson, an American archaeologist who was not involved in the dig, said the find was truly amazing, less because of its Roman origins than for its precious nature. "Jewelry is hardly preserved in archaeological context in Jerusalem," he said, because precious metals were often sold or melted down during the many historic takeovers of the city. "It adds to the visual history of Jerusalem," Gibson added, saying it brings attention to the life of women in antiquity. Though Gibson dates the piece slightly later than the antiquities authority, to sometime between the second and fourth centuries A.D., he said its quality and beauty were impressive. Ben-Ami added that he expects more small, luxury items to turn up in future excavations. Earrings similar to this one have been found at archaeological sites throughout Europe, Ben-Ami said, where the Roman Empire also flourished. The authority said the earring to be crafted using a technique similar to that depicted in portraits from Roman-era Egypt. Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Bend and Snap

I'm rolling on the floor right now watching "Legally Blonde" - the 2001 movie that I laughed my way over the Atlantic Ocean watching on our flight to Amsterdam a few months after 9/11 in 2001. Elle gave a lesson at the beauty salon on the "bend and snap" maneuvere. Check it out - good for what ails you, darlings! I particularly appreciated the male hairdressers getting into the spirit of the moment...

Review of Katherine Neville's "The Fire"

Another review of "The Fire." I'm a little more than half-way through the book now, savoring a section of a chapter at a time, usually wrapped in an afghan with a glass of wine near by, late at night, when the house is creaking and groaning with noises you never hear during the day. Great read - and, yes, even more complex as far as "puzzle" and working one's way through the symbolism to get to the truth of the matter. Neville is a few years older than I am and may want to retire - can she write a sequel to the sequel? I'm not ready to say goodbye to this "never-ending" game on the global chessboard and the unique insights she brings to her readers! Please, KN, bring us more! 'Fire' more complicated than 'Eight' By OLINE H. COGDILLSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel Published: November 09. 2008 12:01AM Before "The Da Vinci Code," there was Katherine Neville's "The Eight." More than 20 years ago, this ambitious debut by a computer consultant 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, many of them historical figures such as Robespierre and Napoleon. 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" (Ballantine Books, $26) is the long-awaited sequel to "The Eight." Just as ambitious and far-reaching 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. Characters and the scenery are vividly portrayed. However, "The Fire" is even more complicated than "The Eight" and it is easy to get lost in the story's various mythologies and myriad of characters. The plot lags in the middle before Neville gets her elaborate 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 "The Eight." Readers will want to first learn what "The Eight's" fuss was all about before tackling "The Fire."

The Phoenix

Here is a beautiful example of cross-cultural influence on artwork in ancient Persia (Iran) after the Mongol invasion - evidence that Islam did not prohibit the production of images of living beings in art and artifact; indeed, Islamic artists were masters at producing beautiful works of art incorporating elements of eastern and western design, depicting animal and human figures and along with intricately composed geometric patterns. This piece was featured today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website. here are the particulars about the piece: Tile, frieze, ca. 1270–80; Ilkhanid period (1206–1353) Made in Probably Kashan, IranFritware, molded, painted in luster and blue under a transparent glaze; H. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm) W: 14 1/4 inl (36.2 cm)Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.49.4) Description This tile, with its bold design of a phoenix soaring on a background of cloud bands and its lotus border, is an excellent example of the Chinese influence on Iranian iconography following the thirteenth-century Mongol conquest. The tile, one of a long frieze with alternating phoenixes and dragons, most likely was once set on the walls of the Ilkhanid summer palace known as Takht-i Suleiman ("The Throne of Solomon") in northwestern Iran, built in the 1270s. Provenance Takht-i Sulaiman, Iran
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