Saturday, January 24, 2009

Decorating Redux...Redux

Oy! I worked half a day at the office, got home at 2:30 and fed the squirrels. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are on commercial t.v. at the moment. I saw parts of the Ladies' Short Program, the Pairs Free Skate and right now the Ice Dance Free Program is on. Let me put it this way - I have been less than impressed! There is no Michelle Kwan or Brian Boitano waiting in the wings, unfortunately. Our Olympic silver medal winners in Ice Dancing (Belbin and Agusto) had to withdraw from this year's nationals due to injury, and the couples trying to move up in the ranks were - well, boring. Tonight is the Ladies' Free Skate (Long Program) - the competition that used to engender so much excitement. Remember Tanya and Nancy? Remember the first time Michelle competed at the senior level, when she was a 13-year old jumping bean who looked about 4 feet tall? Remember Tara Lapinski (well, I don't either)... Of course, one never knows what may happen tonight at the free skate, so I will watch. I have to say, even if the ladies aren't the same calibre skaters as Michelle, Tara, et al., they are a very attractive group and for the short program were exquisitely costumed. Now - to the decorating, or I should say, back to the decorating. Arggghhh! I am glad to report that the second buffet lamp went together in a snap, unlike my experience with the Defective buffet lamp! The second lamp now rests on the dresser in the New York (guest) room, after I wrestled the triple dresser away from the wall, tightened the bolts on the mirror, and plugged the lamp in. It works! Oh, and I wrestled the triple dresser back into place, too. What a work-out! But - darlings, I know you won't believe that I could be this dense, but I was, so what can I say - it occurred to me a day or two ago that, since my new room (the former guest room) and the new guest room (the former den/library/computer room), are exactly the same depth, although not the same width (the new guest room has about 6 inches less width), I could quite possibly create a mirror image in the guest room of the set up in my room which works so well: triple dresser opposite the foot of the bed (and the print above the headboard reflected in the mirror of the triple dresser on the opposite wall, doubling its impact), the bed scooted over enough on the wall to leave room to position a wing chair and bookcase or table next to it, and still plenty of room on the closet side of the dresser to set a luggage rack and for a second person to utilize the opposite of the bed, if sharing, also freely accessing the closet (slider doors) and window. The question is: Do I really want to do that? There would be less space between the end of the bed and the start of the dresser in the guest room if I move the dresser to the wall opposite the headboard, although it would still be passable. But would it look squished? Right now, there is more than adequate space on either side of the bed and plenty of room to pass at the foot of the bed directly to the closet and to the other side of the bed and window, because the dresser in on the hallway wall parallel to the bed (this wall has the entry door and is opposite the window and closet wall). The wall that is currently opposite the headboard, most importantly, is totally bare and that is where I had planned on putting my beautiful (and large) New York posters. (Photo: inside wall, New York - guest - room. That lamp on the dresser is the second buffet lamp, I put it together earlier today. You see my favorite still life print now above this headboard, and on the wall next to the mirror is one of dondelion's photographs of the "optical illusion" floor at the Venetian in Las Vegas). However, by rearranging the guest room to mirror my room arrangement would free up space for a comfy wing chair in the corner - I love having a chair in my bedroom and I know that wing chair was used for reading and watching t.v. when it was the guest room! On the other hand, the nice bare wall perfect for hanging the posters would disappear, consumed by the triple dresser and tall mirror. I suppose I could put one poster on the closet side of the dresser, andput the other poster on the wall above the table next to the wing chair... Guess I'll just have to try it and see if it works. So, it seems more shoving, pushing and heaving of furniture is on the agenda for tonight. Ay yi yi. (Photo: outside wall, New York - guest room. The framed photographs in the space between the window and the closet will have a companion joining them and will be repositioned as needed to evenly fill out the space. One of the black and white striped curtains I had tried out in my room looks much better here. One of my water colors anchors the space next to the headboard; its frame matches the frame on the clock/photo on the table behind the lamp. It holds a picture of Michelle taken in Las Vegas during dondelion's and my November, 2003 visit. In front of the lamp, not really visible, are two couple of inch tall silver-tone plastic models of New York skyscrapers that dondelion found in a dollar store in Montreal. On the plus side, my room is approaching the perfect degree of doneness. Today I put up the new print I ordered (turns out I only ordered one, not a pair as I thought I had, but that worked out just fine because the one new print is LARGE and fills the space above the headboard quite nicely - two would have been too big for the space); the frame is lovely and the bird motif ties in quite nicely with two framed Christmas cards from years ago - bird motifs in matching cheapo plastic frames! They hold down the narrow area of wall between the closet door and the window on the wall opposite the entry. Hey - those for free bird prints work for me, I don't care if they're Christmas cards. They're pretty! One of the birds is a blue bird and is, therefore, that unexpected dash of oddness and/or color that turns the room human - it's my room, not a layout in a decorating magazine. Also, I think the freshly hung print above the headboard is just a wee bit off of center. Oh well. I'll be damned if I'm going to get back up on the mattress and bounce around trying to find perfect center, drive a new picture hanger and plug up the old nail hole with spackle! It can be an inch off center. Still lots to do: I want area rugs on the floors of both rooms, that will entail much shopping online to find the best price for the best rug. I want to switch-out the single rod curtain rods in my room for double rods and try out the red/black/white floral print valances over the toile curtains (entails yet more ironing) to see if they "work" in the room or are just too overwhelming for the small space, and move the white bedskirt from the New York (guest) room to my room, layered over my new 18 inch drop black bedskirt. I'll replace the guest room bedskirt with the cream and black stripe tailored bedskirt that came in the "bed in a bag" set with the paisley comforter and pillow shams, but I have to iron it first. It's going to be a busy weekend. On the plus side, when I'm finally finished I'll have two bedrooms that I absolutely love (about time, I've been in this house nearly 20 years) and I'll have had a great work-out! I am just a couple of pounds off my 2003 Las Vegas weight. I want to be down to my 2002 Madrid weight when we go to New York in May and I'm actually aiming for an even higher weight loss. I've resumed my nightly "dances" around the larger space in my former bedroom to my favorite Youtube videos (Sway; Smooth; old and new versions of Lady Marmalade, including the Mad T.V. take-off of same; the We Will Rock You Pepsi commercial featuring Pink who absolutely, totally ROCKS, Beyonce who sure can shake her booty, and a pre-Las Vegas marriage Britney Spears who almost actually sang; Keep Your Hands to Yourself; Wild Wild West, etc. Better than running three miles in below-zero temperatures...

Carmen Report: Photos from Egypt

The CD with Carmen's photos arrived in the mail today from Madrid! I downloaded all - 75 of them! I won't publish all of them here, but some of them are so lovely - and I'm so jealous that Carmen went to Egypt on tour over Christmas. Well, we'll get there - someday... Photo: Carmen admiring the decorations (Cairo). Her caption in Spanish: Adornos de la escalara al pupito en la Mezquita de Alabastro. This is an exterior shot of the Mezquita de Alabastro (Cairo). Her caption in Spanish: Fachada de la Mezquita de Alabastro

2009 Corus Update

Results Round 7: Group B: A. Motylev - Y. Hou 1-0 Group C: D. Harika - E. Iturrizaga ½-½ Standings After Round 7: Group B: 1. N. Short 5 2. A. Volokitin, A. Motylev, F. Caruana 4½ 5. D. Navara, Z. Efimenko, R. Kasimdzhanov 4 8. F. Vallejo Pons 3½ 9. E. l'Ami 3 10. Y. Hou, K. Sasikiran, D. Reinderman, J. Werle 2½ 14. H. Mecking 2 Group C: 1. T. Hillarp Persson, W. So 5 3. A. Gupta 4½ 4. M. Bosboom 4 5. D. Howell, D. Harika, F. Holzke, A. Bitalzadeh 3½ 9. O. Romanishin, A. Giri, M. Leon Hoyo 3 12. F. Nijboer, E. Iturrizaga, R. Pruijssers 2½

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola! I'm to the point in this redecorating process where I now have a punchlist - only 9 items long but it will probably take weeks to accomplish! One of the items on the punchlist is - clean-up and reorganize all piles of books, research and documents scattered about the entire house... Darlings, I'm far too tired tonight to attempt to assemble the second buffet lamp (reported on in last night's sole post), that will have to wait until after work tomorrow. Yes, that's right, work tomorrow. I hooked up with a ride and so will be in the office at my regular start time of 8:30 a.m. I plan to leave at 1:30 p.m. and head for home well before sun down. The temperature is dropping off a cliff even as I type this, and the winds will be sustained tomorrow causing windchills of down to 25 below zero F. Not exactly good weather to hike 3/4 of a mile from the bus stop home, but a hell of a lot better than doing it twice in the same day! I DID do a little bit of decorating tonight and I may do a bit more (framing up some more of those wonderful New York pics dondelion took during our first visit in 2005). My posters arrived in the mail today and I could not resist - this evening I put up Vitruvian Man in the hallway on a wall that is sort of kitty-corner from the bathroom, and I can see him peeking at me in the bathroom mirror above the sink: he's gorgeous - and naked :) The very large New York black and whites (one a Central Park shot and one of Times Square) are laid out on the family room carpet, slowly relaxing from a wicked curl. The curl wasn't an issue with Vitruvian Man since he was ensconsed inside a 1/4 inch thick plastic poster frame I've had for at least 20 years sitting in a closet - and just exactly the right size (24 x 36) - and I was not going to be defeated in my goal by some stubbornly curling corners. For the large posters, I need to shop for some of those cool poster holder thingys that my wonderful former boss, Don Schoenfeld, used in his office years ago - I believe he purchased them at the Met Gift Shop. Hmmm, I'm a Met member, I'll go shopping at their website and use my discount :) I also installed the Defective Lamp on my dresser. It does look very nice there, all the more outrageous because I paid so little for it - but Goddess, it sure was a pain in the butt putting the thing together. I put in a low wattage bulb and made sure it's plugged into the socket that has the power turned off unless I hit the switch at the doorway, and then I must actually turn the lamp switch on manually. I'm hoping to prevent a fire hazard that way (see prior post about putting the lamp together ). It's twin brother (which as far as I can tell is not defective) will reside in the New York (guest) room. Horrid, absolutely horrible news tonight - the firm I used to work at has let go 12 people today (no attorneys - but then, they don't "do" attorneys the same way they do the peons known as "staff"). Some of these people I worked with during my nearly 13 years there. One of these people worked there for 45 years (started right out of high school) and is 63 years old. What are the odds that she'll get a job that will provide her with health insurance until she can qualify for Medicare? Anyone want to name those odds and place a bet? Did the powers that be think about THAT when they were sitting at the conference room table with their red pencils - curse their monstrous cold-hearted hides. Another person on the hit list worked there for over 30 years, has a severely disabled husband who is not able to work and she is the sole support of their family. She recently suffered through her own severe illness and was working part-time. She's been "let go" at age 50. See what the fricking suits call it - "let go" - as if she and her family will simply float away without a sound into poverty and destitution, and not a hair stirs on the carefully coiffed heads of the suits as this faithful employee and those dependent upon her are left with no means of support. What is the matter with these people? A pox on those who made such cold-hearted decisions without weighing the consequences (or, even worse, if they did know the consequences and said "screw you" anyway). A pox on their families too. Let the sins of the fathers be visited upon the sons and daughters of those suits, let them experience the fine twists of Fate. Sometimes this world really really sucks.

Darwin Was Wrong...

It's only a matter of time until his cockamamie hypotheses are tossed out once and for all, particularly as technology to analyze and decode DNA continues to improve. Story from the Evolution: Charles Darwin was wrong about the tree of life Evolutionary biologists say crossbreeding between species is far more common than previously thought, making a nonsense of the idea of discrete evolutionary branches Ian Sample, science correspondent, Wednesday 21 January 2009 18.32 GMT Charles Darwin's "tree of life", which shows how species are related through evolutionary history, is wrong and needs to be replaced, according to leading scientists. The great naturalist first sketched how species might evolve along branches of an imaginary tree in 1837, an idea that quickly came to symbolise the theory of evolution by natural selection. But modern genetics has revealed that representing evolutionary history as a tree is misleading, with scientists saying a more realistic way to represent the origins and inter-relatedness of species would be an impenetrable thicket. Darwin himself also wrote about evolution and ecosystems as a "tangled bank". "We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality," Eric Bapteste, an evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, told New Scientist magazine. Genetic tests on bacteria, plants and animals increasingly reveal that different species crossbreed more than originally thought, meaning that instead of genes simply being passed down individual branches of the tree of life, they are also transferred between species on different evolutionary paths. The result is a messier and more tangled "web of life". Microbes swap genetic material so promiscuously it can be hard to tell one type from another, but animals regularly crossbreed too - as do plants - and the offspring can be fertile. According to some estimates, 10 per cent of animals regularly form hybrids by breeding with other species. Last year, scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington found a strange chunk of DNA in the genetic make-up of eight animals, including the mouse, rat and the African clawed frog. The same chunk is missing from chickens, elephants and humans, suggesting it must have become wedged into the genomes of some animals by crossbreeding. The findings mean that to link species by Darwin's evolutionary branches is an oversimplification. "The tree of life is being politely buried," said Michael Rose, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine. "What's less accepted is that our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change."

Brazen Dog Shoplifts!

Hola darlings! I found this article from the December 26, 2008 Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel sitting on my footstool in the family room - buried under tons of investment club stuff! I think I must not have published it, but it's so cute, I just have to pass it along. When I did a search I found it reported at dozens of websites/blogs. The original information as reported in my local newspaper was from KSL-TV: (There's a link to the surveillance video at the end of this piece - just too funny!) Here's the story: Pooch grabs bone, makes getaway Associated Press (December 26, 2008) Murray, Utah - A thief remains at large after pulling off a daring heist - in the pet food aisle. Surveillance video at a supermarket in this Salt Lake City suburb caught a dog shoplifting, KSL-TV reported Wednesday. The video showed the dog walking in the front door of Smith's Food & Drug in Murray and heading straight to Aisle 16, the pet food aisle, where it grabbed a bone worth $2.79. The thief wasn't even perturbed by a face-to-face confrontation with store manager Roger Adamson. "I looked at him. I said "Drop it!" Adamson said. "He looked at me, and I looked at him, and he ran for the door and away he went, right out the front door."
LOL! Here's another take on the story from the Shoplifting dog caught on surveillance camera-video December 26, 2:37 AM by Helena Sung, Pet News Examiner Tongues and tails are wagging about a shoplifting dog in Murray, Utah. The canine--who appears on surveillance video to be a gray Siberian Husky--coolly ambled into a supermarket on Christmas Day. After sniffing a young girl near the cash registers, the dog wandered further into the store where his super sense of smell led him directly to Aisle 16--the pet food aisle. The dog picked out a rawhide bone worth $2.79 and headed for the exit when he was confronted by the store's manager, Roger Adamson. "I said, 'drop it!'" Adamson recalled, but the dog chose to ignore the unreasonable request. "I decided I wanted to keep all my fingers, so I didn't try to take it from him." The dog turned away and sauntered out the front door, daring anyone to follow him. Humans, delighted at the tale, can watch the video here...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pssst... I'll Pay You For Putting This Lamp Together

Ohmygoddess! Talk about pushing JanXena to the limits of her short fuse! Happy was I when I arrived home after a long, difficult day at the office to see that my lamps, wing chair slip cover and new prints for above my headboard had arrived from their various retailers. MAD was I an hour later when, profusely sweating and even more profusely swearing, I ripped the assembly instructions (translated from Chinese to "English") into a million tiny shreads and flushed them down the garbage disposal. I was about to hurl the uncooperative lamp across the room when my better angel said "no, JX, better not do that - you should return the offending @^$#*(% and get your money back... So, I just shook it for about 35 seconds - real hard. I had purchased a pair - so I unpacked the second lamp and examined it - but, lo and behold, the lamp "saddle" rested snugly where it was supposed to, not rattling around like a nail inside a jar. Thus, I concluded, the first lamp was DEFECTIVE. The second lamp - which I have not yet attempted to put together (I figured I'd better cool down over the next 24 hours before attempting a second assembly job) appears to be correctly assembled in its parts, which I am somehow supposed to assemble with a 200 foot long cord attaching all the sundry parts together, without "twisting" the cord. It took me 45 minutes just to pull and shove and tug the cord down through teeny tiny holes through the base of the lamp to pull all the assorted pieces close enough together to even begin to "firmly put into place" according to the pidgeon English instructions. Ha! Evidently the Chinese censors would not allow the translator at the factory to use the words "screw" or "screw together." So, tomorrow night I will attempt to assemble the second lamp with the correctly anchored saddle. I expect it will go together much easier than the first lamp, despite not being able to "twist the cord." As for the defective lamp, rather than packing it back up and shipping it back, or hauling it to the nearest retailer (who shall remain nameless) to demand a refund (which may have led to my arrest for assault and battery), I put my 129 IQ to good purpose and jerry-rigged the loose saddle into firmness with tiny bits of cardboard stuffed in strategic places and some Super Glue... And if my house should burn down because I used the lamp after I twisted the cord, this blog entry is my evidence (for I shall be dead, burnt to a crisp no doubt) upon which no jury would find me 50% negligent or more. Therefore my Estate would recover from the manufacturer of the defective lamp that would have caught fire anyway (despite my bits of cardboard and Super Glue) and my ghost shall be rich beyond all imagining. Sigh. By the way, that's not my screwed up lamp, but the way the shade tilts, that is what my new lamp looked like when I first put it together - before severe shaking and treatment with cardboard bits and Super Glue...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Southwest Chess Club of Hales Corners

Hola darlings! I am deep into shopping for new bookcases. I am torn between uber-cheap and uber-expensive. It seems the ones I like BEST are, of course, the most expensive, and the ones that will SERVE best are, at least at Office Depot, the least expensive! The uber-cheap models all come in pieces that have to be assembled, a task I truly dread! I am awaiting delivery of (1) a slipcover for the wingchair in my adopted bedroom (2) two buffet lamps (3) two Chinese-styled bird prints for above my bed and (4) assorted posters, two of which will go into the New York room (the new guest room) and some of which will go into the upstairs hallway to update its rather tattered and dreary look. I still need to order throw rugs - the nice ones are outrageously expensive! I have news, darlings! I should have published this much sooner - but I've been in a redecorating frenzy, as my recent posts will attest :) Anyway, my adopted chess club, Southwest Chess Club of Hales Corners, has a NEW home! Hurrah! Club Location: St. James Catholic Church, 7219 South 27th Street, Franklin, Wisconsin (lower level, Parish Center Building) Not exactly near Hales Corners, but still alive and kicking. I'm glad the club was able to find suitable new digs in which to hold their weekly lectures, get-togethers and tournaments! I do not remember if I published this previously - there is also a new website url. Here are some of the upcoming events scheduled at the SWCC: January 22 Freeze Bowl Swiss Rd 3 2 Secs, G/100 January 29 Winter Blitzzard IV 3 Rds – G/29, G/30 February 5 Chess Valentine Lovers Kiss Rd 1 Quads G/90 February 12 Chess Valentine Lovers Kiss Rd 2 Quads G/90 February 19 Chess Valentine Lovers Kiss Rd 3 Quads G/90 February 26 Snowstorm Blitz-A-Matic 10 Rds Speed Chess March 5 Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss Rd 1 2 Secs, G/100 March 12 Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss Rd 2 2 Secs, G/100 March 19 Annual SWCC Meeting March 26 Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss Rd 3 2 Secs, G/100 April 2 Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss Rd 4 2 Secs, G/100 April 9 Melting Ice Action III 3 Rds – G/29, G/30 April 16 Tulips on the Chessboard Swiss Rd 1 2 Secs, G/100 April 23 Tulips on the Chessboard Swiss Rd 2 2 Secs, G/100 April 25 HALES CORNERS CHALLENGE IX (Saturday) April 30 Tulips on the Chessboard Swiss Rd 3 2 Secs, G/100 May 7 Warm-Up Blend-O-Matic 10 Rds Speed Chess Using my astounding intellect and powers of deductive reasoning, I have concluded that the HALES CORNERS CHALLENGE IX is the next Grand Prix points event sponsored by the SWCC following the HALES CORNERS CHALLENGE VIII which was held in October, 2008. Goddesschess funded some special prizes for the CHALLENGE VIII - if we fund more special prizes for CHALENGE IX do you think we can encourage a few more local chess femmes to play in that event???

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another "Goddess" Born with Four Arms and Four Legs

Oh no, not again. Story reported at Russian News and Information Agency. Girl with eight limbs born in Nepal 18:37 20/ 01/ 2009 NEW DELHI, January 20 (RIA Novosti) - A baby with four arms and four legs has been born in southeastern Nepal's Ramechhap district, local media reported on Tuesday. Januka Ghimire, 30, gave birth late on Monday to the as-yet-unnamed infant, whose gender has not been disclosed [but the title of the article indicates a girl - and if it was a boy child, he would not be compared to the Goddess Lakshmi!]. Both the mother and the child are reported to be in good health. Many locals believe the baby is a reincarnation of Lakshmi, the eight-limbed Hindu goddess of prosperity and wealth. "Januka's house is thronged by people from far-flung villages to have the glimpse of the strange baby," the news portal said.
Last November, an eight-limbed girl was born in a remote village in the northern Indian state of Bihar and named Lakshmi after the goddess. The girl underwent surgery to remove the extra limbs and in now undergoing a rehabilitation program.
Actually, little Lakshmi Tatma's surgery was more than a year ago, in November, 2007. I have reported on her here from time to time. I haven't seen any stories recently, so I assume she is doing very well with her rehabilitation. She will need to undergo additional surgeries as she gets older.
How can this happen again? I thought the odds were astronomical against this kind of conjoined twin birth happening again.

Are We Losing Our Faith in Tough Times?

This story is from the Times of India, but it could just as well have been St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, although I do not believe the Virgin Mary statutes there wear valuable jewels. But valuable statues have been stolen out of churches - right here in Milwaukee - not this year (thank Goddess) but in the last bad economic downturn several statues were stolen, and several poor boxes broken into and their small contents stolen. How pathetic to steal money from a church poor box! Ask the person(s) who stole from the poor box in this temple in India! Antique jewellery stolen from Shivneri fort temple 21 Jan 2009, 0236 hrs IST, Asseem Shaikh, TNN PUNE: Antique jewellery that adorned the idol of goddess Shivai at the Shivneri fort in Junnar taluka were found stolen on early Tuesday morning. Chhatrapati Shivaji, who derived his name from goddess Shivai, was born here and learned warfare techniques. This is the second such incident in Pune rural in past four days. On January 17, some miscreants dug up the mausoleum of Mastani at Pabal near Shikrapur. They had apparently dug up the mausoleum in search of some hidden wealth, which they did not find. Inspector Rajaram Pardeshi, in-charge of the Junnar police station said the suspects in Shivneri cut three iron grills of the temple window with a sharp object and decamped with a mangalsutra and a nath (nose ring) and some money (totalling Rs 10,725) by breaking open the donation box sometime between Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Pardeshi said the incident came to light after the temple priest Sopan Durate opened the temple on Tuesday morning. There is no security guard posted at the temple during night because it is located in an isolated place at the foot hills of Shivneri fort. Pardeshi suspects involvement of local criminals behind the theft, but Additional superintendent of police (Pune rural) Ashok Morale said it looks to be the handy work of professionals since the grills were cut with sophistication. Morale also suspects role of some mischief mongers since other costly items like the television set and the compact disc player were not touched. The police have intensified patrolling and beefed up security at historically important temples to avert similar incidents. Meanwhile, the Sahaydri mountaineering group has appealed to the Pune rural police to set up a police chowkie at Shivneri for maintaining vigilance at Shivai and other temples in Junnar. Second theft in three years The theft at Shivai temple is the second incident of its kind reported in the last three years, according to inspector Rajaram Pardeshi, incharge of the Junnar police station on Tuesday. Pardeshi said that in 2006 the paduka' of goddess Shivai were stolen. However, the suspects had later quietly kept it back in the temple and hence the Kusgaon villagers did not pursue the matter further. Pardeshi said that there are several temples built during the Peshwa's regime like Shivai, Panchaling, Kukdeshwar, Bramhanath and Khanoba, but thefts happen only in goddess Shivai's temple.

2009 Corus

Round 4 Results: Group B: Y. Hou - N. Short ½-½ Group C: R. Pruijssers - D. Harika ½-½ Standings after Round 4: Group B: 1. N. Short, F. Caruana,R. Kasimdzhanov 3 4. D. Navara, F. Vallejo Pons 2½ 6. D. Reinderman, A. Volokitin, A. Motylev, Z. Efimenko 2 10. Y. Hou, J. Werle, E. l'Ami 1½ 13. K. Sasikiran 1 14. H. Mecking ½ Group C: 1. T. Hillarp Persson, M. Bosboom 3 3. E. Iturrizaga, A. Bitalzadeh, W. So 2½ 6. D. Howell, O. Romanishin, A. Giri, D. Harika, R. Pruijssers 2 11. A. GuptaF. Holzke 1½ 13. M. Leon Hoyos 1 14. F. Nijboer ½

Saving the Indus Valley

The Archaeology Channel has a new video presentation. I've no idea of the links embedded below will work. If not, please visit for the next few days until the next video presentation is posted. Link to an index of all Archaeology Channel videos. SAVING THE INDUS VALLEY: GUJARAT, INDIA Location: India Length: 5 min. 56k 300k 700k 56k 300k 700k The remarkable Indus Civilization of India and Pakistan was contemporaneous with other early civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Iran and influenced later cultures, including modern India. Meeting a longstanding need, the Indus Heritage Centre is being established in partnership among Global Heritage Fund (USA), Maharaja Sayajirao University and the Indus Heritage Centre Board of Directors. Promoting education and tourism, the Centre will introduce to the people of India and the world the unique significance and value of India’s ancient heritage.

Wiped Out by Climate Change and Earthquake

Public release date: 19-Jan-2009 Contact: Michael Moseley 352-378-8139 University of Florida Scientists: Earthquakes, El Ninos fatal to earliest civilization in Americas GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- First came the earthquakes, then the torrential rains. But the relentless march of sand across once fertile fields and bays, a process set in motion by the quakes and flooding, is probably what did in America's earliest civilization. So concludes a group of anthropologists in a new assessment of the demise of the coastal Peruvian people who built the earliest, largest structures in North or South America before disappearing in the space of a few generations more than 3,600 years ago. "This maritime farming community had been successful for over 2,000 years, they had no incentive to change, and then all of a sudden, 'boom,'" said Mike Moseley, a distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. "They just got the props knocked out from under them." Moseley is one of five authors of a paper set to appear next week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The people of the Supe Valley along the central Peruvian coast did not use pottery or weave cloth in the settlements they founded as far back as 5,800 years ago. But they flourished in the arid desert plain adjacent to productive bays and estuaries. They fished with nets, irrigated fruit orchards, and grew cotton and a variety of vegetables, according to evidence in the region unearthed by Ruth Shady, a Peruvian archaeologist and co-author of the paper. As director of the Caral-Supe Special Archaeological Project, Shady currently has seven sites in the region under excavation. Most impressively, the Supe built extremely large, elaborate, stone pyramid temples -- thousands of years before the better-known pyramids crafted by the Maya. "They're impressive, enormous monuments," Moseley said. The largest so far excavated, the Pirámide Mayor at inland settlement Caral, measured more than 550 feet long, nearly 500 feet wide and rose in a series of steps nearly 100 feet high. Walled courts, rooms and corridors covered the flat summit. The Supe seemed to thrive in the valley for about 2,000 years. But around 3,600 years ago, an enormous earthquake -- Moseley estimates its magnitude at 8 or higher -- or series of earthquakes struck Caral and a nearby coastal settlement, Aspero, the archaeologist found. With two major plates scraping together not far offshore, the region remains one of the most seismically active in the world. The earthquake collapsed walls and floors atop the Pirámide Mayor and caused part of it to crumble into a landslide of rocks, mud and construction materials. Smaller temples at Aspero were also heavily damaged, and there was also significant flooding there, an event recorded in thin layers of silt unearthed by the archaeologists. But the flooding and temples' physical destruction was just the dramatic opening scene in what proved to be a much more devastating series of events, Moseley said. The earthquake destabilized the barren mountain ranges surrounding the valley, sending massive amounts of debris crashing into the foothills. Subsequent El Niños brought huge rains, washing the debris into the ocean. There, a strong current flowing parallel to the shore re-deposited the sand and silt in the form of a large ridge known today as the Medio Mundo. The ridge sealed off the formerly rich coastal bays, which rapidly filled with sand. Strong ever-present onshore winds resulted in "massive sand sheets that blew inland on the constant, strong, onshore breeze and swamped the irrigation systems and agricultural fields," the paper says. Not only that, but the windblown sand had a blasting effect that would have made daily life all but impossible, Moseley said. The bottom line: What had for centuries been a productive, if arid, region became all but uninhabitable in the span of just a handful of generations. The Supe society withered and eventually collapsed, replaced only gradually later on -- by societies that relied on the much more modern arts of pottery and weaving, Moseley said. With much of the world's population centers built in environmentally vulnerable areas, the Supe's demise may hold a cautionary tale for modern times, the researchers said. El Niño events, in particular, may become more common as global climate change continues. "These are processes that continue into the present," said Dan Sandweiss, the paper's lead author and an anthropology professor and graduate dean at the University of Maine. Affirmed Moseley, "You would like to say that people learn from their mistakes, but that's not the case." The other authors of the paper are David Keefer, a geologist and geoarchaeologist with the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, and Charles Ortloff, a consulting engineer who has spent the past three decades working in the Andes.
Could present-day climate change be threatening one of Peru's most recognizable relics from an ancient age? The "drawings" scratched into the arid Plain of Nazca was damaged recently by FLOODING caused by torential rains. The National Culture Institute says this is the first time and the damage was minor, easily repaired (i.e., won't impinge on tourist earnings). But what if it happens again, and again...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Earliest Cave Dwelling Complex Discovered?

In China? Oh really - sort of reminds me of Ensign Chekov bragging on the original Star Trek t.v. series about Mother Russia... My guess is that the local archaeologists are talking about only China and not the entire world. Still - a cave complex dating back a mere 5,000 years is NOT old! I'm sure I've read of evidence of habitation in caves far older in China. And of course there are Alta Mira in Spain and Lascaux in France. From The Peoples Daily China discovers earliest cave dwelling complex 14:30, January 19, 2009 Chinese archeologists discovered in Shaanxi Province the earliest known cave dwelling residence complex to date. This large scale ancient complex shows that the history of ancient people living in cave dwellings can be traced as far as 5,500 years ago. The private pottery kilns found at the complex indicate that the concept of private property had already developed by that time. The Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology recently organized a large scale excavation. During excavation, archeologists discovered that there are 17 relic cave dwellings in total, spread out in rows out to the edge of a cliff near the bank of the Jing River, close to Yangguanzhai Village in Gaoling County of Shaanxi Province in northwestern China. The cave dwellings are part of the cultural heritage from the Banpo phase IV of the Neolithic Age, roughly 5,500 years ago. A single dwelling covered an area of over 10 square meters, with a simple layout similar to the shape of the Chinese character "吕" (lu). It consisted of a front room and a backroom connected to one another. The front room was an ordinary room, while the backroom was a cave dwelling. Beside the dwellings, archeologists also found pottery kilns and caves used to store potteries where a great number of potteries, greenware sherds and some pottery-making tools were also unearthed. By People's Daily Online

2009 Corus Update

Round 3 results, not a good day for the chess femmes: Group B: D. Reinderman - Y. Hou 1-0 Group C: M. Leon Hoyos - D. Harika 1-0 Standings after Round 3: Group B: 1. N. Short, D. Navara, R. Kasimdzhanov 2½ 4. F. Caruana 2 5. D. Reinderman, A. Volokitin, Z. Efimenko, J. Werle, F. Vallejo Pons 1½ 10. Y. Hou, A. Motylev, E. l'Ami 1 13. K. Sasikiran, H. Mecking 1/2 Group C: 1. E. Iturrizaga, M. Bosboom 2½ 3. T. Hillarp Persson, O. Romanishin, W. So 2 6. A. Giri, D. Harika, A. Bitalzadeh, R. Pruijssers 1½ 10. D. Howell, A. Gupta, M. Leon Hoyos 1 13. F. Nijboer, F. Holzke ½

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Random Round-Up

dondelion has outdone himself this week with an All Chess, All The Time theme for this week's Random Round-Up at Goddesschess, cued on an article provided to Goddesschess for publication by Lawrence Totaro on Dali and chess. Mr. Totaro is a chessplayer, collector of chess memorabilia and author. In keeping with the Dali theme, Mr. Don sent the following photo of himself imitating art imitating artist... Pssst - the guy holding the queen is the real dondelion... I could never love a guy who gave me the finger :)

Unique Chess Gifts

Check out Isis' hand-crafted and luxurious chess boards. This board features midnight blue and gold satin ribbon with faux-pearl trim from Isis' "Silk Road" series of boards. The reverse side features a color-coordinated oriental-inspired print. $34.99 retail (but Isis is open to negotiation). Use your own weighted pieces or purchase a set of glass chess pieces crafted by Isis at Chesstique. Tee shirts! I'm sure you've seen hundreds of run-of-the mill "chess" motif tees. Check out Chesstique at Goddesschess for unique tee designs. Here is a shirt with Goddesschess' very own logo (TM) designed by dondelion.

WGM Kruttika Nadig

Story from Queen on board Pranav KulkarniPosted: Jan 19, 2009 at 0055 hrs IST Inspired by Garry Kasparov’s never-say-die attitude, national chess champion, WGM Kruttika Nadig has all it takes to be a grandmaster She is undoubtedly the queen of the 64 houses. The fact was underlined again when she recently bagged the Women's National title in Delhi. While many believe that black is unlucky, she's won most of her matches playing with black pieces proving that in the brain game, there is no place for superstitions. Woman Grand Master (WGM) Kruttika Nadig's life is all about strategy- half on-board, half about the board. "It is important to practice chess every day. I personally study my game for six-seven hours a day. While internet and computer software are the routine means, there are other sources such as books, practice games with friends in which we discuss the recent trends in chess and so on that keep me updated with the game," says Nadig whose decision to take up chess as the profession, despite the mastered on-board moves, wasn't a planned one. "I started playing chess in the summer vacations when I was seven. What began as a hobby became a serious obsession when I won the Bronze medal in Asian under 12 Championship in the year 2002. In 2003, I grabbed the first national title. It was however the title in 2004 that gave me the confidence that I can be the best in the country and defeat any of the opponents," says Nadig, 20-year-old Arts student. With Vishwanathan Anand's strategies and Garry Kasparov's uncompromising attitude as her sources of inspiration, Nadig recalls meeting Vishwanathan Anand as one of the most memorable moments of her life till date. "I got the opportunity to meet Anand in Chennai on his birthday. Interacting with him after the party was an otherworldly experience. No player normally reveals the secrets of his game, but Anand shared with us the tactics that can be useful," smiles she. Mastering the game of concentration, logic and strategy requires one to isolate from the routine botherations around, and Nadig says, "Like all other games, chess also involves sportsman spirit and killer instinct. In physical games one can push the routine botherations at the back of one's mind by diverting the attention, but in case of chess, since the brain is continuously being stormed, it is difficult to do so. So most of my practice sessions, other than learning the techniques also involve the practice of detaching myself from the world, emotions and stress." Though related to mind and brain, chess as a game still finds a classification as Women's chess and open category. Nadig Comments, "Chess is a mind game - no doubt about it. But nearly ten years ago, there were no women grandmasters in the world where today we have as many as 10 of them. The categories have been made, not to discriminate but to encourage chess amongst women. I am satisfied with the fact that women's chess is gaining momentum in India. And I am happy to be a witness to the change."
There are actually 15 female chessplayers who have earned the GM title.

Prado and Google in Experimental Partnership

Wow - this is fascinating, and exciting news for art fans the world over. From The Jewels of the Prado go under Google Earth's microscope Masterpieces photographed in minute detail available online By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid Wednesday, 14 January 2009 No image can match the real thing, but Madrid's Prado museum has edged closer to that ideal by teaming up with Google Earth in a pioneering project that allows art lovers to zoom in on some of the gallery's best loved masterpieces. Fourteen of the museum's finest works, including Velazquez's Las Meninas, Goya's Third of May and Rubens' The Three Graces have been photographed to such a high resolution that details barely discernible to the naked eye become visible online. Google's first collaboration of its kind with an art museum, presented yesterday in Madrid, allows viewers anywhere in the world to home in on tiny sections of the chosen works, and skim the canvas in a way that is unimaginable in real life. The images are 1,400 times clearer than anything the average tourist's 10-megapixel camera could render, said Javier Rodriguez Zapatero, Google Spain's director. "It's a unique vision. In the museum we cannot get this close to a painting; if we did we'd need a three-metre-high ladder to get these views," said Clara Ribera, of Google Spain. The 14 paintings were photographed section by section in "mega high resolution", then 8,200 photographs were stitched together digitally. For just one of the museum's most popular paintings, Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, which celebrates every aspect of human ecstasy and depravity, 1,600 photographs were taken. "There is no better way of paying tribute to the great masters than to universalise their art, and make it accessible to the greatest number of people," the Prado's director, Miguel Zugaza, said. "An image is no substitute for the direct experience of the work, but these actual-sized reproductions offer prodigious realism." The Prado chose works it considered indispensable for any visitor. They include works by El Greco, Rembrandt, Durer, Raphael, Van de Weyden, Tiepolo, Ribera, Fra Angelico and Titian. "Although in my opinion we could include 1,000 more," Mr Zugaza said. The spectacular images will allow scholars and art lovers to study up close the lines and brushstrokes of each artist, examine the under-drawing, the cracks and imperfections of the varnish, and check the quality of restoration work. * To see the digital reproductions, download the Google Earth program, activate three-dimensional view and click on Prado Museum. Depending on how the pilot is received, Google may extend the initiative to other paintings and other galleries.

Budget Crunch Hits Revered Penn Museum

From The Daily Pennsylvanian Issue date: 1/16/09 Section: News Petition opposes museum layoffs Kathy Wang These days, finding a balance between academics and economics is crucial. That balance motivated the museum's administrators to discontinue 18 research specialist positions at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology last November, effective May 31. But more than 2,000 people in a variety of fields around the world signed an online petition, posted Jan. 7, claiming the museum went too far. The museum defends its restructuring as necessary to maintain fiscal stability and its missions. Gunder Varinlioglu, who received her Ph.D. in Art and Archaeology in the Mediterranean World from Penn, created the petition with Omur Harmansah, professor of Archaeology and Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University. "There was such a public outcry over the issue that it had to be brought together," said Varinlioglu. Several archaeology blogs and letters circulating in academic listservs have also questioned the museum's actions. The museum "has always been about research and not really exhibits, and that's what differentiates it from others," said Varinlioglu, who said the move made the museum seem "like a business rather than the non-profit it is supposed to be." Varinlioglu also criticized the lack of transparency behind the museum's actions, since its finances are not public. "We don't know if they tried to do any fundraising or approached any alumni or exhausted all their resources," she said. "The broader underlying concerns are how you treat your own employees," said Paul Zimmerman, a research associate whose position has not been affected and who wrote a personal letter to museum director Richard Hodges and Penn President Amy Gutmann protesting the decision. Zimmerman and Varinlioglu also raised concerns that those laid off may not be able to find new employment. [Well - duh! Welcome to the real world, where last month 500,000 jobs were shed in the USA. I feel a strong empathy for each and every person who has lost a job because of the economic castrophe taking place in this country, and fear for myself, too. Why should academia be sheltered from the whirlwinds of this economic storm?] But Hodges stressed that the museum has worked personally with each of the 18 researchers to try to help them secure other sources of funding. He added that the Museum announced the restructuring in November to give researchers enough time to explore new positions - even though the timing exposed the museum to criticism. "If you don't work in a museum, you have to put a lot of effort into understanding what's necessary to maintain these high standards," said Hodges. "But the more time I spend with [petitioners and journalists], the less time I've had to support these researchers." In a letter sent to researchers, he emphasized that research remains "central to the mission of the Penn Museum," and that five of the 18 researchers laid off will continue to work with the museum in some capacity. The letter goes on to explain that one of the original goals of the soon-to-be disbanded Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology unit - to raise income - has not been met. As a result, the museum is pursuing a new five-year strategy to better adhere to its original missions of being a research center and a museum while still generating sufficient revenues. "We are the largest research entity in the U.S. and have more expeditions than any other universities," said Hodges. "We're trying to sustain in difficult times, and it isn't always easy."
Cf. this blog entry.

New Egyptian Gallery at British Museum

This settles it - dondelion and I are going to London in 2010 and I'll spend the entire time inside the British Museum. (One of the scenes from Nebamun's tomb - with the tabby cat mentioned in the article "floating" in mid-air above the boat!)
From The Times Online January 13, 2009 New Egyptian gallery at the British Museum The new Egyptian gallery at the British Museum offers a fascinating display of scenes from everyday life under the Pharaohs
Rachel Campbell-Johnston Who says accountants are boring? Some of the ancient world's most entrancing paintings celebrate the life of a man who kept tallies for a living. And this month, freshly restored, they at last go on show again for the first time in almost ten years, when the British Museum opens a new gallery.
This will be dedicated to the display of 11 large wall fragments from the tomb chapel of a relatively low-ranking Egyptian official named Nebamun, a grain accountant who, almost three and a half millennia ago, served the great deity Amun, then the official god of the state. A golden age of Egyptian painting unfurls. These preserved images are among the most famous, most fascinating and most artistically fresh of their day.
When we think of the Ancient Egyptians, we tend to think of the rituals of death. Certainly, the hordes of schoolchildren who daily head for the British Museum's Egyptian galleries come to gaze at the eerie solemnity of the elaborate mummy cases; to thrill at the corpses in their horror-movie bandages; to squirm at the stories of brain-extracting hooks. The mummies are to this great historical collection what the dinosaurs are to the Natural History Museum. They are a guaranteed crowd puller - and all the more popular for their gruesome whiff of the grave.
But if you imagine that the visitors who can now wander on from the mummies into the museum's newest gallery will find only more of the same, think again. The paintings might have come from a tomb; but they have far more to do with life than death.
Here, in what surely counts among the British Museum's most celebrated treasures, is a virile young Nebamun hunting in the Nile marshes, navigating his slender barque among feathery reeds that teem with birds of all species and fluttering butterflies. His fat tabby cat clearly can't believe its luck: as it seizes one flapping waterfowl in its whiskery jaws, it pins down the two songbirds that have already fallen prey to it with greedy claws. Or here, in three wonderfully preserved fragments, is Nebuman in his role as master of great estates, counting the flocks and the herds that slaves bring for his inspection, the ranks of driven cattle and the thick flocks of jostling geese. And here too, in one of the most seductive images the era, is a luxurious banqueting scene, its richly attired guests entertained by a group of female musicians while sinuous dancing girls, naked but for their jewellery and a girdle so slender that it cannot even cover their pubic growth, entwine with the serpentine grace of a pair of cobras.
These still richly coloured pictures, now displayed all together for the first time, are reunited also with a lively quail-hunting scene on long-term loan from Berlin (there are other fragments in France that for the sake of scholarship should also be lent). And what will strike the first-time viewer most about them is how wonderfully vivid, how exuberantly lifelike they are.
You don't need to have the hieroglyphs translated or to be familiar with the complex mythologies or iconographical conventions of the era to relate to these images on a sensual and emotional level. Look at the charioteer who sits on the back of his vehicle while his horses, still in harness, drop their heads to feed. You can almost imagine his legs swinging idly as he waits. Or notice the way that one of the driven cattle panics and tries to barge its way backwards against the flow, or how delicately a worker folds a fragile gazelle in his encircling arms. You can almost hear the kerfuffle and squabble of the chivvied geese, feel the cold pimpled skin of a freshly plucked fowl, run your fingers through the fur of the cat or smell the pungent ointments of the wealthy banqueters.
Very little is known about these works. No one knows precisely where they came from. The Greek grave robber who sawed them from the walls of a tomb chapel sold them to a British collector, who in turn passed them for what he considered “a miserable sum” to the British Museum in 1821, and fell out with curators to whom his erstwhile treasures were valuable prizes. He died penniless a few minutes' walk from the British Museum, taking the secret of where the paintings had come from to his pauper's grave. No one knows exactly when Nebamun lived or much about his personal life beyond the fact that he was married and had two children, who appear in the paintings, and that he worked as a scribe and accountant for the god from whom his name - meaning “my lord is Amun” - comes. Nor does anyone know who the creator of these magnificent works was, nor why someone so talented should have ended up working for some middle manager. It has been suggested that he may have been moonlighting from a job on a far grander burial site near by.
But what is unquestioned is the calibre of this artist. Curators have nicknamed him the Egyptian Michelangelo. And it is worth investing in a copy of the clearly written and fully illustrated book that accompanies this new gallery to find out why.
Though the delightful narratives and ebullient realism are what will first catch the eye of the spectator, there is much that will not be immediately obvious, from the rigorous conventions that dictate the overall design (compositions are divided into four bands or registers) through the meanings conveyed by even the simplest gestures (a hand held up in front of a mouth means that the character is speaking) to the translations of the hieroglyphs - “shut up and get on with it” seems a more or less colloquial translation of one caption. These scenes would once have been read by Egyptians like cartoon strips.
What becomes increasingly apparent is how skilfully the artist reconciled traditional iconography with his own artistic freedom. Here is someone capable of presenting the most complex narratives. We see him mapping out his designs with underdrawings on plaster and then painting them swiftly - occasionally making changes - with mineral pigments. In a world in which anything from your tummy fat to your toenails has its own precise meaning, he attends to every detail. He renders every living organism from the pied wagtail to the pond weed so that it can be precisely identified. It was important, for instance, that his ancient viewers could tell that that fish was a tilapia, because these creatures were commonly associated with rebirth (because they supposedly harbour their young in their mouth). He carefully renders the patterns and textures that make all these things feel real: the mottled hides of the cattle, the pricked crusts of bread, the fluff of bird's feathers, the plaiting of baskets. The eye of the cat, it has been newly discovered, was overlaid with gilt.
And yet even as he attends to such scrupulous detail he improvises, trying out a radical and very rare full-frontal pose complete with foreshortening, tangling the dancers' fingers with expressive sweeps of the brush, sending the musicians' tumbling plaits shaking to their lively rhythms. Improvisations such as this bring the Ancient Egyptians back to life.
In the Natural History Museum they have spent thousands of pounds on an animatronic T Rex that tries to do the same thing for their dinosaurs. It amounts to little more than a fairground entertainment. The British Museum, instead, has invested in a highly sophisticated restoration that, lasting almost a decade, is probably the biggest project of its type yet undertaken. It must be commended for this decision. These wall paintings, spaciously displayed among cabinets of artefacts from the same period, bring Ancient Egypt to life far more fascinatingly than any animatronic mummy ever could.
Even poor Nebamun should be pleased about the project. The reason he would have wanted his tomb painted so vividly would have been to attract visitors who, hearing of the marvels on display, would have been tempted to pop in after visiting their own ancestral burial sites. By remembering his name they would ensure his safe afterlife. But when the god Amun was deposed in ancient Egypt, his name was erased from wherever it was written. Nebamun was nearly forgotten.
Now he has a new chapel - far more visited than he could ever have hoped. Remember to say his name aloud. It was the actual pronunciation that mattered. And besides, Nebamun was an accountant: he will certainly be adding up all those mentions.
The new Egyptian gallery opens at the British Museum, WC1 ( 020-7323 8299), on Jan 21

Treasure Trove!

From BBC News January 17, 2009 Huge Iron Age haul of coins found One of the UK's largest hauls of Iron Age gold coins has been found in Suffolk. The 824 so-called staters were found in a broken pottery jar buried in a field near Wickham Market using a metal detector. Jude Plouviez, of the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said the coins dated from 40BC to AD15. They are thought to have been minted by predecessors of the Iceni Queen Boudicca. Ms Plouviez said their value when in circulation had been estimated at a modern equivalent of between £500,000 and £1m, but they were likely to be worth less than that now. [Really? On what does she base this? The current value of gold? The intrinsic value of the coins themselves to collectors and/or museums?] Wealthy tribes "It's a good, exciting find. It gives us a lot of new information about the late Iron Age, and particularly East Anglia in the late Iron Age. "The discovery is important because it highlights the probable political, economic and religious importance of an area. "It certainly suggests there was a significant settlement nearby. As far as we understand, it was occupied by wealthy tribes or subtribes," she said. Ms Plouviez said the find was the largest collection of Iron Age gold coins found in Britain since 1849, when a farm worker unearthed between 800 and 2,000 gold staters in a field near Milton Keynes. Secret excavations She said secret excavations had been carried out on the latest find in Suffolk after a man reported it to the council's archaeological service in October. The staters, which each weigh about 5g, will now be valued ahead of a treasure trove inquest. "We don't know how much they will be worth but it will be less than they were at the time," said Ms Plouviez. "After the treasure trove inquest, they will be offered to museums at their current value." She said the exact location of the find would not be made public but added "thorough" searches of the area had not uncovered any further artefacts. (Photo from different article).

Ainu (Japan) in Peru 1,000 Years Ago

Interesting - from New DNA links found between ancient Peruvians and Japanese Lima (Peru), Jan 11 : A new study has revealed genetic links between people who inhabited northern Peru more than 1,000 years ago and the Japanese. Japanese physical anthropologist Ken-ichi Shinoda performed DNA tests on the remains of human bodies found in the East Tomb and West Tomb in the Bosque de Pomas Historical Sanctuary in Peru, which are part of the Sican Culture Archaeological Project, funded by Japan's government. The director of the Sican National Museum, Carlos Elera, told the El Comercio newspaper that Shinoda found that people who lived more than 1,000 years ago in what today is the Lambayeque region, about 800 kilometers north of Lima, had genetic links to the contemporaneous populations of Ecuador, Colombia, Siberia, Taiwan and to the Ainu people of northern Japan. The studies will be continued on descendents of the Mochica culture, from the same region, who are currently working on the Sican Project and with people who live in the vicinity of the Bosque de Pomac Historical Sanctuary. According to Peruvian archaeologist Luis Chero, "Currently, the DNA results have great value because they can be understood to show that there were people who arrived in these zones from Asia and who then converted these zones into the great culture of the New World." The results of the studies will be presented at an exhibit on the Sican culture that will be set up for a year at the Tokyo Museum of Science and Nature. Also to be displayed at that exhibit will be gold, silver and copper jewelry found in the tombs of the ancient Sican rulers and priests. --- ANI

Ancient Chemical Warfare

From Scientific American January 16, 2008 Did the Persians use chemical warfare against the Romans? These days, chemical warfare is commonly associated with the modern world, such as the gassing of enemy troops in World War I and the Kurds in 1987-88 by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. But archaeological evidence suggests that it was used in antiquity by Persian warriors when the soldiers suffocated their Roman enemies using bitumen, or pitch (a tarry, sour oil), and sulfur crystals. Archeologist Simon James of the University of Leicester in England says he discovered a "crime scene" indicating that Persian warriors suffocated 20 Roman soldiers in a Syrian mine. The attack occurred around A.D. 256, when soldiers from the Persian Sassanid Empire invaded Dura-Europos, a highly coveted city on the Euphrates River that had previously been conquered by the Romans. Although the bodies, stacked atop one another, were discovered in an underground tunnel in the 1930s, James went back to investigate the cause of their deaths. He didn't buy earlier theories that the Romans had died when the tunnel collapsed. After reviewing archival records showing sulfur crystals and a jar of pitch in the mine, he came up with another theory: The Persians gassed the group to death using highly flammable pitch and sulfur crystals that created sulfur dioxide when the chemicals were burned in a controlled fire. The Persians then piled the corpses on top of one another, using them as a kind of fortress to keep out approaching Romans, and set a large fire to collapse the tunnel. "We know from the finds that the Persians had bitumen, or pitch, and sulfur crystals—highly inflammable, smoke-generating chemicals," James tells "If you'll excuse the pun, it's a smoking gun. Deliberately chucking sulfur crystals onto a fire; in modern terms we call this chemical warfare." Written texts suggest that the ancient Greeks had engaged in chemical warfare several hundred years earlier, using braziers (pans for holding hot coals), bellows and burning feathers against the Romans in 189 B.C. at the siege of Ambracia. But James says that although this is the earliest archaeological evidence of chemical warfare, no accounts of the battle recorded by participants or witnesses have been unearthed. His interpretation shows that "you can create a real story out of battlefield patterns that archaeologists find," Melissa Connor, director of forensic science at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, told Science News. James presented his findings last weekend at the Archaeological Institute of America meeting in Philadelphia.

2009 Corus Update

Updating Round 1 results for Hou Yifan yesterday: GM Yifan Hou (2571) - GM Kasimdzhanov (2687) [C92]Corus, 17.01.20091.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Re8 10.d4 Bb7 11.Ng5 Rf8 12.Nf3 Re8 13.Ng5 Rf8 14.Nf3 Re8 15.a4 h6 16.Nbd2 Bf8 17.Bc2 exd4 18.cxd4 Nb4 19.Bb1 c5 20.d5 Nd7 21.Ra3 c4 22.Nd4 Qf6 23.N2f3 Nc5 24.axb5 axb5 25.Nxb5 Rxa3 26.Nxa3 Ba6 27.Re3 Rb8 28.Rc3 Nbd3 29.Bxd3 cxd3 30.Be3 Nxe4 31.Rc6 Ra8 32.Qa4 d2 33.Nxd2 Nxd2 34.Rxa6 Qxb2 35.Bxd2 Rxa6 36.Qxa6 Qxd2 37.Qc4 Qd1+ 38.Kh2 Qe1 39.Qd4 g6 40.Nc4 Qe2 41.Nd2 Bg7 42.Qe3 Qd1 43.g3 Kh7 44.Qf4 Kg8 45.Qe3 h5 46.h4 Be5 47.Qg5 Kg7 48.Qe3 Bf6 49.Qf4 Be5 50.Qe3 Kf8 51.Qg5 Kg8 52.Ne4 Qd4 53.Qe3 Qxd5 54.Ng5 Kg7 55.Nf3 Bf6 56.Kg2 Qc6 57.Qd3 d5 58.Kf1 Kf8 59.Qa3+ Kg7 60.Qd3 Qc5 61.Ne1 Qc4 62.Ke2 Bd4 63.Qxc4 dxc4 64.Nf3 Ba7 65.Nd2 c3 66.Ne4 c2 67.Kd2 f5 68.Nc3 Bxf2 69.Ne2 f4 70.gxf4 Kf6 71.Kxc2 Kf5 72.Kd3 Kg4 73.Ke4 Bxh4 74.Nd4 Bf2 75.Nf3 h4 76.Ne5+ Kg3 77.f5 h3 Black wins 0–1 Round 2 results: Group B: Y. Hou - K. Sasikiran 1-0 Group C: D. Harika - E. Iturrizaga ½-½ Susan Polgar is featuring live commentary/analysis on some of the Corus games at her blog. Standings after Round 2 (Groups B and C only): Group B: 1. N. Short, D. Navara, Z. Efimenko, F. Caruana, R. Kasimdzhanov 1½ 6. Y. Hou, A. Volokitin, J. Werle, F. Vallejo Pons, E. l'Ami 1 11.K. Sasikiran, D. Reinderman, A. Motylev ½ 14.H. Mecking 0 Group C: 1. M. Bosboom 2 2. T. Hillarp Persson, O. Romanishin, E. Iturrizaga, D. Harika, W. So, R. Pruijssers 1½ 8. A. Giri, A. Gupta 1 10.F. Holzke, A. Bitalzadeh ½ 12.D. Howell, F. Nijboer, M. Leon Hoyos 0
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