Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Egypt Pictures from Carmen

Christmas trip, December, 2008: Scenes from Abu Simbel

Tracking the Mathematics of Go

From Coupons help evaluate game of Go Game theory math might clarify complexity of chess By Laura Sanders Web edition : 8:03 pm (Image: Chinese Ladies playing Go [Weiqi]) CHICAGO—A new twist on the ancient board game Go may clarify the complicated mathematics behind games like chess, suggests research from the mathematical field known as combinatorial game theory. Using “coupons” to quantify the value of moves in the game allowed researchers to describe the math behind the game more precisely, mathematician Elwyn Berlekamp of the University of California, Berkeley reported February 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Go is a popular game in Asia thought to originate 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Using a board with 19 squares on each side, players put stones on the grid in an attempt to surround and capture an opponent’s stones. Although the rules of Go are simple, the strategy of the game is very complex. A chess board has more than 1040 legal configurations that the pieces can be in at one time. The Go board has about 10171. The complicated mathematical fallout of all those possibilities prevents computer programs from seriously challenging top-tier Go players. “For every move, you have to look at its impact on the whole board,” says Berlekamp. Without a significant handicap, no computer program has yet beaten a top-tier Go player, designated 9p. To understand the mathematical rules that govern Go, Berlekamp turned to some of the best Go players. He wanted to know why the players thought certain moves were good or bad, what Go players call bigger or smaller moves. But Berlekamp ran into a problem. “Go players don’t want to have mathematics discussions,” he says. “They want to play.” To get around this obstacle, Berlekamp created a version of Go called Coupon Go, in which players have the option of either putting a stone on the board or taking a coupon. The coupons, which have different point values, showed Berlekamp what the most valuable moves were. Using the resulting map of moves, Berlekamp developed a mathematical model to predict the most favorable moves near the end of a Go game, when move options are constrained. A large Go Coupon tournament among professional players is being organized to take place in China in 2009.

Bangladesh Women's Chess Championship

Article from The New Nation February 14, 2009 Shirin, Masuda take joint lead in Women Chess after 6th round UNB, DhakaSharmin Sulatana Shirin (Narayanganj) and Masuda Begum (Barisal) took joint lead in the Parachute 30th National Women Chess Championship with five points each after the sixth round matches at the Chess Federation hall-room here on Friday. Nazrana Khan Eva (Manikganj) and Farjana Hossain Anne (Muktijoddah Sangsad) followed the leaders with 4.5 points each. Zakia Sultana, Rokhsana Titli, Ahely Sarker and Protiva Talukder were in the 3rd position with 4 points each. In the day's sixth round matches, Shirin beat Titli, Masuda drew with Eva, Anne drew with Zakia, Protiva beat Dilara Jahan Nupur, Ahely beat Mehnaz Ahmed Mithila, Runu drew with Amena Begum and Tanzina Akhter Tani beat Reshma Jebin. The last round matches begin today (Saturday) at 3:30 pm at the same venue.

What Recession? More Redecorating...

Hola darlings! I was out and about shopping today. The streets were loaded with traffic and the two places I went to - Menard's (a locally-owned home improvement center) and Kohls (mid-price department store) - were packed with shoppers. You would not know there is a severe recession going on in the country by the number of people who were in those two stores. The checkout lines were busy. Perhaps there is a psychological component to my shopping sprees and urge to redo the house over the last few months, aside from the fact that the house will be 19 years old this August and other than the powder room downstairs which I repainted in 2003, very few things have changed since 1990. You know, spending in the face of all the bad things going on around me, pretending that everything is just fine, doing the classic shop and feel better (most women will understand this feeling). I don't know, and frankly, I don't know if it's important that I do know. I'm not spending a fortune (a good thing) and with such good bargains available these days, why not get what I want? To finally get this house looking just the way I've always wanted it to look, but was too cheap (or too busy with other things) to do before? Hell, I'm going for it. Maybe that means I'll have crown mouldings put up in every room!!! I was looking for area rugs for the New York (guest) bedroom and my room and a new light fixture for the upstairs bath. Yes, I have decided to redo the upstairs bathroom so that it is somewhat more color-coordinated with the New York room and my room and soon to be revamped pink bedroom. I found a perfect cream/black toile shower curtain on sale online, and had a certain style of light fixture in mind. I found one I liked today on sale at Menards, the price was right! I took the opportunity to pick up a drywall patch kit to patch the hole in my ceiling downstairs left by the plumber, and some painting supplies in preparation for when dondelion paints the pink room during his May visit. I looked at rugs at Menards but found nothing I liked (or even did not like) in my price range. Next it was on to Kohls, where I found one rug for the New York room on sale for 50% off, a cushion for my desk chair downstairs discounted 40%, and some new towels for the anticipated bath revamp at 50% off. I already have the perfect paint and my lovely black still life will finally have a new home - above the large towel rack. Now I must locate and retain a reasonably priced electrician to take down the old fixture and install the new one. Tomorrow after our investment club meeting I will take down the wallpaper border in the bath and give the walls a good scrub. I would like to install a new floor covering in the bath - I am leaning toward trying the job myself with peel and stick vinyl tile. In 1986 when I bought my first house I successfully laid a black and white vinyl tile floor in the kitchen, after studying the method in my Readers Digest manual of home improvements and repairs :) So, I am no stranger on the method to calculate the layout so all squares end up evenly spaced around the perimeter. The bathroom presents more challenges. First, there are no "hidden" corners so if I make a mistake in my layout calculations, it will be there for all to see; secondly, I need to take up the existing cheap vinyl flooring because it has shrunk away from the walls in two areas and a bubble has formed in one spot underneath the linen cabinet. I have nightmares of endless glue and months of scraping and sanding to try and get a smooth surface - not to mention working around and under the toilet! Yikes! But today while I was showing my sister around the improvements upstairs and explaining the changes I wanted to make in the bath, I tested a corner of the vinyl that has shrunk away from the wall by the vanity and lo and behold, it lifted up quite easily. I was able to pull it up a couple of feet and looked at the subfloor beneath. It appears as though whatever daubs of glue were once anchoring the floor have long-since dried up - at least in front of the vanity. However, there is no assurance it would be that easily removed from the remainder of the room. I would also have to buy or borrow the proper tools to remove the quarter-round trim (I do not want to break it if at all possible) around the perimeter of the room and figure out how to remove the metal divider between the carpet in the hall and the vinyl in the bath. Maybe it's a really easy thing, but it looks intimating to moi! And the toilet remains a problem. I sure ain't gonna attempt to shut off the water, unscrew and unseat the toilet myself just to lay vinyl tile around it. Plus I'd have to stuff the hole with rags so no sewer gas would escape (gag). This is not something I'm willing to undertake after the plumber went to such pains to shim the toilet so it is steady and firm and replaced the worn-out wax ring that had caused the leak in the downstairs ceiling which I now have to patch (that should be an adventure)... So... I think I need a nap. By the way, that photo above of the beautiful bedroom is from a blog, Bargain Hunting with Laurie (a woman after my own heart). It's HER bedroom, and it's gorgeous. And it's the color scheme I'm using in my bath. My walls will be a very similar color, just a wee bit lighter because there are no windows in my bath and I don't want it to be overwhelmingly darkish, also more tan/taupe and less mustard - but the color saturation is spot on. I have a dark cherry vanity with white (just a hint of cream) laminate top and dark cherry linen cabinet with similarly stained woodwork, comparable to Laurie's dark-stained furnishings. The cream and black toile shower curtain (en route from the merchant) and the black towels I purchased today will add just the right touch of sophistication. My current area rugs in the bath will remain - they are very neutral tan/taupe and in good shape. The vaguely French style of the new light fixture, which has a "waxed bronze" finish and three alabaster bell-shaped shades, will be the perfect compliment to the color scheme. Even without a new floor or "waxed bronze" finished towel holders (my shiny brass ones purchased 19 years ago when the house was built are still in near perfect condition and I just cannot justify the expense of replacing them), the room will be transformed. The floor I would eventually like to install in place of the sad, cheap cream and grey tile-pattern sheet vinyl I currently have will be a black and gold/tan marble look vinyl. Ahhhh, perfection. Future wish list includes replacing the large sheet mirror with a smaller framed mirror centered above the sink, light sconces added on either side, and possibly stencilling a suitable design around the ceiling perimeter, if I can fix upon the right color and design! New bath rugs and towel rods.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Eternal Female: Worship of the Mother Goddess

Hola darlings! This is my final post for the time being, and perhaps for the night. I'm hungry and I have fixings downstairs for my infamous stick-to-your spoon, ribs, kidneys, liver and intestines cheeseburger casserole calling out to me. Tomorrow I am going shopping for a new bathroom light fixture for the upstairs bath and some area rugs for the upstairs bedrooms and hallway. If I am successful in finding a reasonably-priced light fixture, I will hunt for a reasonably-priced electrician (har!) to install it! Then it's on to painting. dondelion won't recognize the place when he arrives in May... (Image: Minoan snake goddess, circa 1600-1500 BCE) Talk about synchronicity. I recently posted about the importance of the vulture goddess and the snake goddess in ancient Egypt, and about the serpent goddes symbolism incorporated into one of the most ancient twenty squares game boards ever to be uncovered in the form of intertwined serpents forming the playing surface: the wooden game board from the Burnt City in the borders area of Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan, dating to about 2400 BCE. Tonight I came across this post - it was a headline at The Independent, but I received an error message when searching for the article there. From (Seems a rather strange place to have an article about the Mother Goddess, but as I've said before, what do I know?) The eternal female: Worship of the mother goddess From: Jack Linthicum Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 05:28:34 -0800 (PST) Stonehenge, Crete, Thera, pretty much a tourist's tour of the Bronze Age, and earlier, cultures that honored or featured women. But the author has missed the revelations about the Phaistos Disk. The eternal female: Worship of the mother goddess Thursday, 12 February 2009 Some experts believe megalithic societies were matrilineal, with womenplaced at the apex of the civilisation – not as rulers, but as birth-givers. Perhaps a line can be traced from the Natufian women of Lebanon, or even as far back as the 24,000-year-old Venus ofWillendorf . After all, women were the original seed-gatherers while men went out to hunt. It was they who probably developed the most intimate expertise in agriculture, using instinct and common sense to select the best seeds for the next year's crops, unwittingly instituting what we now call artificial selection. The mother goddess took a variety of different forms. Sometimes she was a snake, or a vulture, or the Moon. Each symbol represented a cycle of death, birth and regeneration: the snake hibernates, then wakes up and sheds her skin; the vulture recycles dead flesh by eating it; and the Moon dies and is reborn every 28 days, mirroring the feminine menstrual cycle. Moon worship was very highly advanced in megalithic times. It has recently been recognised that temples such as Stonehenge were originally built to glorify the Moon as well as the Sun. Every month, shafts of moonlight line up perfectly with gaps in the massive stones, the architects having positioned them precisely to accommodate the subtly shifting patterns of the Moon's rising and setting cycles, that repeat themselves exactly every 18.6 years. The full moon has had historic and religious significance going back thousands of years,since it was by the light of the full moon that many hunter-gathering tribes hunted, providing the best opportunities for a good catch. Matriarch island: The enigmatic civilisation of Minoan Crete Europe's mother goddess culture grew to its climax on the Mediterranean island of Crete in the second millennium BC. Here it also survived longest. Crete thrived on trade routes that linked the Mediterranean with the rest of megalithic Europe and North Africa. The flowering of the island's Minoan civilisation coincided with the growth of the Indus Valley civilisation, from c3300 to 1700 BCE. Homer, a Greek poet who wrote in the eighth century BCE, claimed there were as many as 90 cities on Crete, and archaeologists have found a number of "palaces", including the largest of all at the island's capital, Knossos. The discovery of this ancient island civilisation was chiefly the work of Sir Arthur Evans, an eccentric but meticulous Victorian archaeologist. As soon as he set foot on Crete in 1894, Evans rigorously pursued the mystery of the mythical King Minos, who, legend has it, ruled from a fabulous palace at Knossos which housed an appalling monster, the minotaur. Half-man, half-bull, this beast lived in an impenetrable maze and feasted off the flesh of still-living virgins. Minoan Crete was like a heart pumping at the centre of the Bronze Age trading system. Its trade links stretched as far as Mesopotamia in the east, to Spain in the west. Tin and copper were imported and exported for smelting into bronze, while luxury crops such as bright yellow saffron were grown in the island's fields and exported as flavouring for food. Evans discovered that the people of ancient Crete followed the megalithic tradition. Women and men had equal rights. Wall paintings from the palaces of Knossos and Phaistos show that women were able to express themselves freely. They are depicted as bare-breasted, wearing short-sleeved shirts open to the navel and long, flowing, layere dskirts. Statues, vases and wall paintings show images of sporting contests where women competed equally alongside men. The island's favourite sport was the impossible-sounding bull-vaulting. An acrobat (sometimes female) would grab the horns of a bull and somersault on to its back. Then, in a second somersault, she would leap off its back and land upright, with her feet back on the ground. No wonder Minoan women were the first people known to have worn fitted garments and bodices – essential prerequisites, you would think, for a sport like this. Women did not dominate society, but they did oversee it. Frescoes at the palace of Thera, on the island of Santorini,100km north of Crete, show women standing on balconies overseeing processions of young men who are carrying an animal for sacrifice. Most priests on Minoan Crete were female. In Minoan law, women retained full control of their property. They even had the right to divorce at pleasure. It was a tradition, too, that a mother's brother was responsible for bringing up her children. Customs such as these, which seem strange to us today [what is so strange about a woman having control of her own property and the right to divorce at will? In western civilization, these rights are taken for granted, they are the norm], lingered long in the Mediterranean mind. Minoan palaces were not mighty and dominant like those in Egypt or Sumeria. Rather, they functioned as the region's communal administrative and religious centres, providing a place of work for craftsmen, storage spaces for food and temples for goddess-worship. One look at a model reconstruction of the palace at Knossos and you can understand why Greek invaders might later imagine that the corridors and irrigation channels resembled an impenetrable maze. Like the traders of the Indus Valley and other European megalithic people, the Minoans had their own form of symbolism which shows that their civilisation was culturally and technologically advanced. In 1903, archaeologists excavating the palace of Phaistos, on the southern side of the island, made a discovery which has had historians baffled ever since. The Phaistos Disc, currently on display at the archaeological museumin Herakleion, Crete, is thought to date from some time between 1850 and 1600 BCE. It contains 45 unique symbols arranged in a spiral shape, resembling the swirls found on vases at Knossos, or even in European megalithic tombs such as that at Newgrange in Ireland. No one really knows who made the disc, or what the symbols mean, but it does show that the people of Minoan Crete were artistic, prosperous and highly ingenious. Following excavations at a site called Akrotiri in 1967, the Minoans are now known to have spread to the island of Santorini. There, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a vast, ancient island city which had been buried for thousands of years under thick layers of volcanic ash. Although only the southern tip of the town has so far been examined, houses three storeys high have been unearthed with fine wall paintings, stone staircases, columns and large ceramic storage jars, mills and pottery. Minoan Akrotiri even boasted a highly developed drainage system, featuring the world's first known claypipes with separate channels for hot and cold water supplies. A distinct pattern is discernible from the evidence that has been left by these early civilisations. Stretching from the ancient Indus Valley, right across the mountains of Anatolia, to the islands of the Mediterranean and as far as the topmost island of Orkney in Scotland,what emerges is a series of like-minded civilisations whose temples and graves bear witness to a lifestyle of peace and a veneration for mother nature. Their common belief in the continuous cycle of birth, death and regeneration is personified by their worship of a mother goddess in all her forms: snake, vulture, pregnant woman or moon. Excellence in craftwork, technical skill and exquisite art are some of their legacies, along with a spirit of natural equality. This was not to continue. During the second millennium BC, the last of these early civilisations fell. New power in the form of military might was sweeping across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. [made possible, in no small part, by the invention of the eight-spoked wheel that enabled the invention of a light-weight and swift war chariot, I posted about a day or two ago.] Warriors had worked out how to prey off the profits of others, ushering in an age when human elitism, ruthlessness and terror had their true beginnings.

A Winner at the North American Open!

I'm publishing this story because it's from Isis' home town and it's good news. Today was generally a real downer; we could all use some good news. From Teen Wins Major Chess Championship Updated: Feb 13, 2009 05:54 PM CST Las Vegas is now home to a national chess champion. Cheyenne High School senior Michael Thomas didn't even start competition in chess until last year, and now he's taken took top honors for his division in the North American Open Chess Championship held at Bally's Hotel and Casino. "It's all about problem solving and putting your intelligence to the test, and I really like that," he said. The teen competed against 60 others, mostly adults, from 14 different states. He earned nearly $60,000 that he plans to use for college. "He's really a force to be reckoned with in chess, and his opponents now realize that and are intimidated, because when they sit down across from him, they don't just see a teen, they know they're dealing with someone who is going to control the game," said Michael's chess club coach Robert Tinnell. Thomas has already won several individual tournaments within the Clark County School District. He was also a member of the Cheyenne High School chess team that won the 2008 Nevada state championship.
So who is Michael Thomas? Wow! I checked USCF ratings and found one Michael Thomas listed for Nevada, which I assume is our young man. He has a rating of 1455 (I believe this is a rating adjusted for his results at the North American Open). I checked the North American Open results (started on December 26, 2008 at Bally's, the day dondelion and I left Las Vegas for Milwaukee). Thomas won Section 6, which had 60 players, all with ratings below 1300. I do not know where the news report got the $60,000 figure. For winning Section 6 outright with 6.5/7, Thomas won $8,000. This is certainly not chump change, but it's not $60,000 either! Will Mr. Thomas continue to play chess once he gets to college? Will he actually go to college if he has $60,000 in his pockets (or in the bank)? How many high school seniors do you know who would weigh the long-term consequences of spending the money on earning a college degree versus buying a hot car, silly clothes, bling, and being broke in a month?

Indian Women Fight Back the Smart Way

From The Lede at the New York Times. February 13, 2009, 11:36 am — Updated: 12:58 pm --> Indian Women Use Facebook for Valentine’s Counterprotest By Robert Mackey (Image: Fundamentalist Hindu men burn a Valentine's Day card) Tens of thousands of Indian women have joined a protest organized on Facebook to strike back against “moral policing” by religious conservatives who are trying to stop the celebration of Valentine’s Day in India. The Facebook group, called “A Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women,” was formed to combat plans by the conservative Hindu activists, known as Sri Ram Sena (”the Army of Lord Ram”) to intimidate Indian women on Valentine’s Day. As of Friday morning, the Facebook group had more than 34,000 35,000 members (and it still growing: the group has added 1,000 members in the hour after we first published this post). Last month in the Indian city of Mangalore, young male activists from Sri Ram Sena attacked young women for visiting a pub. The women were driven out into the street and several were knocked down as video cameras recorded the scene. A video clip of the men attacking the women was broadcast repeatedly on Indian television, in reports about what called “India’s Taliban.” Last week, the Indian channel NDTV reported that Sri Ram Sena “seems to have taken the outcry against its attack on women in Manglaore as encouragement.” and planned more attacks against Valentine’s Day. Another Indian television station, IBN Live, reported that the conservative group’s leader, Pramod Muthalik, “now out on conditional bail in the Mangalore Pub attack case, has made it clear that his outfit will disrupt Valentine’s Day celebration as it is against Indian culture.” IBN showed Mr. Muthalik claiming that Valentine’s Day is one of several “international conspiracies against our culture” by Christians. The counteroffensive, led by the group that is using Facebook to organize, began with a campaign to get young women to send pink women’s underwear to Sri Ram Sean’s leader, Mr. Muthalik. The BBC reported on Friday that thousands of pairs had been sent: A spokeswoman for the group, Nisha Susan, told the BBC it was giving chaddis (Hindi colloquial for underwear) as they alluded to a prominent Hindu right-wing group whose khaki-shorts-wearing cadres were often derisively called “chaddi wallahs” (chaddi wearers). “We chose the color pink because it is a frivolous colour,” she said. On their blog, the Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women explained the action and what they hoped to achieve: It does not matter that many of us have not thought about Valentine’s Day since we were 13. If ever. This year, let us send the Sri Ram Sena some love. Let us send them some PINK CHADDIS. Look in your closet or buy them cheap. Dirt-cheap. Make sure they are PINK. Send them off to the Sena. [...] What happens after Valentine’s Day? After Valentine’s Day we should get some of our elected leaders to agree that beating up women is ummm… AGAINST INDIAN CULTURE. After some reports circulated that Sri Ram Sena might be backing down and calling off its protest against Valentine’s Day, the consortium’s spokeswoman, Nisha Susan, answered a question about the group’s future in a Web chat on IBN’s Web site (Hotpars is the screen name of a reader): Hotpars: What are your short-term and long-term expectations from Pink Chaddi Campaign? Nisha Susan: It seems weird to think about the long-term expectations of a campaign that is one week old. So let me talk of what we wanted to do. Many of us feel isolated in our unhappiness with right-wing groups of any religion disrupting our way of life. This campaign was aimed to protest the climate of fear being created by right wing groups in Mangalore. And to an extent we have succeeded in creating a dent — giving people a sense of hope. But what would be truly rewarding is for the 30,000 plus people in the campaign to continue to shame political leaders into getting the Mangalore women justice: those of the pub incident, the abducted school girl, the 15 year old who committed suicide two days ago — all in Mangalore. On her blog Bloody Mary, Sagarika Ghose wrote that the battle over Valentine’s Day epitomized “the dilemma of most educated Indians today” over what in Western culture is really worth defending. Ms. Ghose, who joined the consortium on Facebook, said that though the protest was right, the objections to Valentine’s Day were thought-provoking: Most of us are scandalized by the Sri Ram Sene’s actions, horrified at being told that “love” is foreign to India. We would like to remind the Sene that the love stories of Shakuntala and Dushyant or of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur show that some of the greatest love stories of all times were made in India and in our country love has always been a socially revolutionary force destroying taboos of caste, class and religion. St. Valentine is only a newly arrived upstart in our centuries-old experiments with romance. Also, where does one draw the line at the “western” influences on India? Does the Sene know that the potato and even cottage cheese from which mithai is made, were, among other foodstuffs, “foreigners” to India, being introduced here by Portuguese traders? The custodians of “hindu sanskriti” are not just absurd, they don’t know their history. Yet the dilemma is that groups like the Sri Ram Sene force the thoughtful Indian to defend things he may see as a fundamental right, but does not necessarily want to defend. However much we may hate the Sene, upholding the commercially-driven Valentine’s Day as a supreme cultural resource, or seeing the pub as the shining symbol of our social “freedom” may not be forward movement for India. If young people are choosing urban lifestyles that are desi imitations of “Sex And The City,” this is hardly a matter of celebration.
Yes, but they should still have the right to choose without threat of violence from religious fanatics and women-hating nut cases. If you don't like the choices they make, education people to make better choices. But to deny anyone the right to make choices in the first place because you don't care for the choices is a step back to repression and facsism. Why are these men so terrified of women having the right to make their own choices in life? Maybe I'll mail a pair of pink chaddis to Mr. Muthalik.

Iranian Women Fight for Rights

Article from the New York Times. Starting at Home, Iran’s Women Fight for Rights By NAZILA FATHI Published: February 12, 2009 TEHRAN — In a year of marriage, Razieh Qassemi, 19, says she was beaten repeatedly by her husband and his father. Her husband, she says, is addicted to methamphetamine and has threatened to marry another woman to “torture” her. Rather than endure the abuse, Ms. Qassemi took a step that might never have occurred to an earlier generation of Iranian women: she filed for divorce. Women’s rights advocates say Iranian women are displaying a growing determination to achieve equal status in this conservative Muslim theocracy, where male supremacy is still enscribed in the legal code. One in five marriages now end in divorce, according to government data, a fourfold increase in the past 15 years. And it is not just women from the wealthy, Westernized elites. The family court building in Vanak Square here is filled with women, like Ms. Qassemi, who are not privileged. Women from lower classes and even the religious are among those marching up and down the stairs to fight for divorces and custody of their children. Increasing educational levels and the information revolution have contributed to creating a generation of women determined to gain more control over their lives, rights advocates say. Confronted with new cultural and legal restrictions after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, some young women turned to higher education as a way to get away from home, postpone marriage and earn social respect, advocates say. Religious women, who had refused to sit in classes with men, returned to universities after they were resegregated. Today, more than 60 percent of university students are women, compared with just over 30 percent in 1982, even though classes are no longer segregated. Even for those women for whom college is not an option, the Internet and satellite television have opened windows into the lives of women in the West. “Satellite has shown an alternative way of being,” said Syma Sayah, a feminist involved in social work in Tehran. “Women see that it is possible to be treated equally with men.” Another sign of changing attitudes is the increasing popularity of books, movies and documentaries that explore sex discrimination, rights advocates say. "Women do not have a proper status in society,” said Mahnaz Mohammadi, a filmmaker. “Films are supposed to be a mirror of reality, and we make films to change the status quo.” In a recent movie, “All Women Are Angels,” a comedy that was at the top of the box office for weeks, a judge rejects the divorce plea of a woman who walked out on her husband when she found him with another woman. Even men are taking up women’s issues and are critical of traditional marriage arrangements. Mehrdad Oskouei, another filmmaker, has won more than a dozen international awards for “The Other Side of Burka,” a documentary about women on the impoverished and traditional southern island of Qeshm who are committing suicide in increasing numbers because they have no other way out of their marriages. “How can divorce help a woman in southern parts of the country when she has to return after divorce to her father’s home who will make her even more miserable than her husband?” said Fatimeh Sadeghi, a former political science professor fired for her writing on women’s rights. Janet Afary, a professor of Middle East and women’s studies at Purdue University and the author of “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” says the country is moving inexorably toward a “sexual revolution.” “The laws have denied women many basic rights in marriage and divorce,” she wrote in the book. “But they have also contributed to numerous state initiatives promoting literacy, health and infrastructural improvements that benefited the urban and rural poor.” To separate the sexes, the state built schools and universities expressly for women, and improved basic transportation, enabling poor women to travel more easily to big cities, where they were exposed to more modern ideas. Ms. Afary says that mandatory premarital programs to teach about sex and birth control, instituted in 1993 to control population growth, helped women delay pregnancy and changed their views toward marriage. By the late 1990s, she says, young people were looking for psychological and social compatibility and mutual intimacy in marriage. Despite the gains they have made, women still face extraordinary obstacles. Girls can legally be forced into marriage at the age of 13. Men have the right to divorce their wives whenever they wish, and are granted custody of any children over the age of 7. Men can ban their wives from working outside the home, and can engage in polygamy. By law, women may inherit from their parents only half the shares of their brothers. Their court testimony is worth half that of a man. Although the state has taken steps to discourage stoning, it remains in the penal code as the punishment for women who commit adultery. A woman who refuses to cover her hair faces jail and up to 80 lashes. Women also face fierce resistance when they organize to change the law. The Campaign for One Million Signatures was founded in 2005, inspired by a movement in Morocco that led to a loosening of misogynist laws. The idea was to collect one million signatures for a petition calling on authorities to give women more equal footing in the laws on marriage, divorce, adultery and polygamy. But Iran’s government has come down hard on the group, charging many of its founders with trying to overthrow it; 47 members have been jailed so far, including 3 who were arrested late last month. Many still face charges, and six members are forbidden to leave the country. One member, Alieh Eghdamdoust, began a three-year jail sentence last month for participating in a women’s demonstration in 2006. The group’s Web site,, has been blocked by the authorities 18 times. “We feel we achieved a great deal even though we are faced with security charges,” said Sussan Tahmasebi, one of the founding members of the campaign, who is now forbidden to leave Iran. “No one is accusing us of talking against Islam. No one is afraid to talk about more rights for women anymore. This is a big achievement.” Women’s advocates say that the differences between religious and secular women have narrowed and that both now chafe at the legal discrimination against women. Zahra Eshraghi, for example, the granddaughter of the revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, signed the One Million Signatures petition. “Many of these religious women changed throughout the years,” said Ms. Sayah, the feminist in Tehran. “They became educated, they traveled abroad and attended conferences on women’s rights, and they learned.” Because of the government’s campaign of suppression, the process of collecting signatures has slowed recently, and many women do not want to be seen in the presence of a campaigner, let alone sign a petition. Most feminist groups limit their canvassing now to the Internet. But while the million signatures campaign may have stalled, women have scored some notable successes. A group that calls itself Meydaan has earned international recognition for pressing the government to stop stonings. The group’s reporting on executions by stoning in 2002 on its Web site, — including a video of the execution of a prostitute — embarrassed the government and led the head of the judiciary to issue a motion urging judges to refrain from ordering stonings. (The stonings have continued anyway, but at a lower rate, because only Parliament has the power to ban them.)
Yeah, stone the female but not the male. It takes two to commit adultery and fornication. Guess the dudes in Iran haven't yet learned how to count. What are they so afraid of that they have to stone women to death? How pathetic they are - they're not real men, they are terrified little boys in men's bodies.

Chocolate Chess Sets

In honor of Valentine's Day, for chess lovers, chocolate lovers and lovers in general! From JaCiva's (image), traditionally styled Staunton chess pieces in white chocolate and milk chocolate. For the $49.95 price, the chess board is included (but it's not edible). The Candy Warehouse is offering a handmade gourmet Belgian chocolate chess set with edible board for $179.50. Over 2 pounds of chocolate in the set. Astor Chocolate is offering a similar or the same set (by the same maker) for $175.00. It's a beautiful set presented in a lovely gift box complete with pull-out drawer for the chess pieces, but perhaps a little pricey.

Tata Sponsors WIM Kiran Manisha Mohanty

Good luck to Mohanty on her quest to earn her WGM title this year. From Orissa Sports News TATA to sponsor Chess player Kiran Manisha Mohanty Friday, February 13, 2009 Report by Orissadiary correspondent, Bhubaneswar: Tata Refractories Limited, the premier refractories company in the country, along with Tata Steel Sports Foundation have announced to sponsor Ms. Kiran Manisha Mohanty, the “1st Woman International Master” in Chess from Orissa in order to help her achieve Woman Grand Master Title. An amount of Rs Five Lakhs has been committed for this purpose. The amount will be utilized by Kiran to attend coaching camps and participate in National / International tournaments during the calendar year 2009. In a function organised at Bhubaneswar on February 09, 2009, the announcement was made by Mr. C.D. Kamath, Managing Director, Tata Refractories Limited. Mr. Kamath handed over a promissory note for Rs. Four Lakh, on behalf of Tata Refractories Limited to Ms Mohanty, which will be spent over the calendar year 2009. On this occasion, Ms Mohanty was also handed over a cheque for Rs. One Lakh by , Mr Rajesh Chintak, Chief Resident Executive and Mr Sanjay Pattnaik, Chief Raw Material Sourcing, Tata Steel on behalf of the Tata Steel Sports Foundation. Dr Tarapada Dash, Vice President (Human Resources), Tata Refractories Limited emphasized on the need of supporting the cause of sports in the state and expressed his confidence that with the financial support extended by the Tatas, Ms Kiran Manisha Mohanty would definitely be able to realize her dream of getting the Woman Grand Master Title during the year 2009. Mr B B Panda AGM & Chief Resident Executive from Tata Refractories Limited proposed the vote of thanks. Kiran, after accepting the sponsorship deed, in presence of her parents and her coach, thanked the house of Tatas and said that she was thrilled to receive this timely support. Her aspirations to scale new heights in Chess have no bounds now. Kiran’s proud mother Mrs Manjubala Mohanty has all praises and good wishes for the House of Tatas. She says that but for this timely help, it would not have been possible on their part to provide the requisite training and exposure needed for Kiran to achieve the coveted “Woman Grand Master” title. Tata Refractories Limited, located at Belpahar in the District of Jharsuguda, Orissa, is celebrating its Golden Jubilee year this year, after successfully completing fifty years of its existence. In the true spirit of the house of Tatas, the company has been relentlessly undertaking various community development and social welfare programmes including promoting sports and games in the district of Jahrsuguda to help the community. Sports, in any form have been a priority for the house of Tatas since its inception. The Group has not only supported thousands of sports talents throughout the country but also has set up the State-of-the Art Sports Academies, such as, Tata Football Academy, Tata Athletic Academy, Tata Archery Academy etc.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wells: The Waters of Life

Some interesting information on wells, sacred springs, etc. from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Affirmation of the extremely ancient association of sacred springs and other water sources with the Goddess. The Goddess' ancient and extremely potent symbolism of water/life was expropriated by the worshippers of the Hebrew storm god Yahweh (modeled after the Canaanite storm god Baal) and, later, by the followers of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, who was the son of Joseph (Yahweh) and Mary (Mother Goddess Mari, the consort of Yahweh). The Bible has many references to the "waters of life" and similar analogies: Isaiah 12:3: With exultation YOU people will be certain to draw water out of the springs of salvation. John 7:37-38: Now on the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus was standing up and he cried out, saying "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said 'Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.'" Revelation 7:16-17: They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, (17) because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes. Wells Springs, fountains, ponds, wells were always female symbols in archaic religions, often considered water-passages to the underground womb, in northern Europe asosciated with Mother Hel, whose name also gave rise to "holy" and "healing." Many pagan sacred springs throughout England received the name of Helen's Well during Christian times, and chruchmen claimed all these wells were named after Empress Helena, Constantine's sainted mother. But the real "Helen" was Hel, or Dame Holle, whose water-womb was called the source of all the children on earth.(1) There were also many wells named after the Goddesses Morgan and Brigit. Coventina, "Mother of the Covens," was associated with healing wells. Margaret, a traditional witch name, also designated wells and springs. Lancashire legend speaks of a statue called Peg o' the Well beside a formerly holy spring in Ribblesdale, said to claim a human sacrifice every seven years.(2) Ecclesiastical canons of the 10th century expressly forbade "well-worshipings," but they continued nonetheless.(3) The Danish poem Water of Life drew on the pagan tradition of resurrection through the Mother-symbol of a sacred well called Hileva (Hel-Eve). With this magic water, a divine queen put her dismembered lover back together and made him live again, as Isis did for Osiris.(4) [I believe this speaks to the extremely ancient tradition of king sacrifice in many cultures, the king being sacrificed by the sacred priestess/queen, in order to bring the world back to life again]. The grotto and fountain of Lourdes once had a similar pagan tradition, now revamped to the service of the church. In 1770 a curate of Bromfield forbade pagan ceremonies, wakes, and fairs at a spring called Hellywell (Hel's Well), to which site the ceremonies had been moved after they were evicted from the churchyard at a still earlier date.(5) The ceremonies had been going on for a very long time. A medieval Life of St. Columba mentioned them in connection with a fountain-shrine "famous among this heathen people, which foolish men, blinded by the devil, worshipped as a divinity."(6) Notes: (1) Rank, 73. (2) Phillips, 112, 160. (3) M. Harrison, 143. (4) Steenstrup, 186. (5) Hazlitt, 78. (6) Joyce, 1, 366.

Tutankhamen Statue Found in Kurdistan

From Middle East News Found in Iraq: King "Tut" Feb 12, 2009, 16:48 GMT Dohuk, Iraq - A Kurdish archaeological expedition announced on Thursday that it had found a small statue of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen in northern Iraq, a Kurdish news agency reported. Hassan Ahmed, the director of the local antiquities authority, told the Kurdish news agency Akanews that archaeologists had found a 12-centimeter statue of the ancient Egyptian king in the valley of Dahuk, 470 kilometres north of Baghdad, near a site that locals have long called Pharaoh's Castle. He said archaeologists from the Dahuk Antiquities Authority believe the statue dates from the mid-14th Century BC. Ahmed said the statue of Tutankhamen showed 'the face of the ancient civilization of Kurdistan and cast light on the ancient relations between pharaonic Egypt and the state of Mitanni.' The kingdom of Mittani occupied roughly the same territory spanning Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran in the 14th Century BC that many Kurds now hope will one day form an independent Kurdistan. 'Historical information indicates familial and political ties between Mittani and Egypt,' Ahmed said. 'The discovery of this statue shows us that the name of Pharaoh's Castle, was not invented out of vacuum, but rather arose out of historical fact,' Ahmed told Akanews. 'This calls for strengthening archaeological research ties between the territory of Kurdistan and the Arab Republic of Egypt.' (c) Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The Mittani were the original "horse-whisperers." They spoke a language that was neither Indo-European nor Semitic - it was Hurrian, and an exquisitely detailed horse-training manual originally dictated in that language by the great horse trainer Kikkuli, was translated into Hittite and Akkadian in the 14th century BCE. According to Robert Drews ("The Coming of the Greeks", 90), "[t]he fact of translation into other languages shows how great a value was put upon the expertise of a famous [horse] trainer". This was during the great age of chariot warfare and the Mittani horse-whisperers were in great demand in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and the Levant. In the Hittite language, these horse-training men (a literal translation) were called LU.ashshushshani. The reconstructed proto-Indo-European root word for horse is ekwo, perhaps originally derived from oku. Words descended include equestrian, equine, equitant, from Latin equus, horse; second derivative line of words is hippus, hippocampus, hippocene, hippodrome, hipogriff, hippotamus, from Greek hippos, horse. In Sanskrit (India) this became something like ashwa; in Pahlavi (Persia) asp; in Farsi (Iran) asb. In the Hittite phrase LU.ashshushshani, the PIE root word for horse - ash- is evident. The specially bred long-legged horses that were the most highly coveted to pull these light-weight war chariots were imported from the land that is today Armenia, the same place that, according to Drews, the eight-spoked chariot wheel first appeared in about 1800 BCE. By about 1650 BCE the swift, light-weight war chariot ridden on two strong but aerodynamic eight-spoked wheels enabled the Hkysos to conquer most of Egypt. Personally, I have always thought that the ancient PIE root word for horse - ekwo - and the word Hyksos have a linguistic connection. Some day I hope to have the time to learn more about linguistics, a fascinating field, and etymology. I think learning more about these subjects could yield valuable clues about the true meanings of the names of the ancestors of the chess pieces we use today.

Inuit/Viking Contact

Article from The Artic Inukpasuit, Inuit and Viking contact in ancient times RONALD BROWER February 12, 2009 at 10:44AM AKST There are many stories of ‘Qavlunaat,’ white-skinned strangers who were encountered in Inuit-occupied lands in times of old. Stories of contact between these foreign people and Inuit were passed down the generations and used mostly to scare children to behave “or the Qavlunaat will get them.” This sparked my curiosity to explore both sides of the encounters from written records and Inuit oral legends to see if some of these events can be correlated. One must recall that these legends were passed down orally in the Inupiaq language. Inuit myths and legends of contact with other people were passed from one generation to the next through story telling traditions. Many people have heard Pete Sovalik, a well-known Inupiaq story-teller tell this shortened version of a story relating to Qavlunaat and other races. Taimaniqpaa_ruk - In Times of Old – Qavlunaat were one of the children of an Inuk woman who refused to marry; a Ui_uaqtaq. Her name was Sedragina, also known as Sedna in other Inuit regions. In her youth she was just an ordinary person – A young Inuk girl (agnaiyaaq) who grew up disliking men because of abuse committed to her as a child. Having grown into a beautiful marriageable maiden, niviaq_siaq, men from many lands sought to marry her but she rebuked all men. One time she was courted by a rich shaman’s son to no avail. Angered by her reluctance, the rich shaman called upon other equally strong shamuses to punish her. Together they cast a great spell upon her father’s lead dog that was transformed into a handsome young man by night but by day, he was just an ordinary lead dog. Every evening he relentlessly pursued her for sexual favors until she was worn and tired for lack of sleep wherein she, in a weakened state, gave way to his wishes. In due time, she bore a litter of human and dog-like children having a variety of skin colors as many litters often do. These became the other races of man. As they grew, she decided to send her children away toward the East, for they became a menace to the surrounding communities because of their wild behavior. Her father had also decided to end her miserable existence - to be rid of her and the shame she brought to his house. In Inupiat legends her story is seen as the beginning of all other human races and of the sea animals. Hence modern Qavlunaat now know her as the Mother of the Sea, a Goddess deity, but in reality Inuit do not have gods. They believe that the visible world is pervaded by Anirniit, the powers, invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living. The story teller weaves in a passage of time when the children of Sedragina would return to their kin the Inuit. Their return would mark a time of change for the Inuit but the story tellers would not say what kind of change was to follow. As hundreds of centuries passed, vague stories were heard of the return of these people now known as Qavlunaat but they slowly faded from legends passed down over the generations. During the time when we lived in our little village of Iviksuk, our great uncle Owen Kiiriq would also tell tales during the dark months of winter in our little dwelling. Recalling a time that Inuit encountered another kind of race who already lived in our lands. Kiiriq recalled that elders would call them Tunnit or Inukpasuit, the giants. They were treated as fearsome coastal dwellers and were considered enemies of Inuit. They spoke an Inuit language of an archaic type understandable to our ancestors. Kiiriq would continue his tale and describe how Inupasuit were viewed as unkempt and unclean by Inuit standards. They were considered a danger to Inuit because they at times waylaid and captured unwary hunters. Being smaller then them, our ancestors were considered a delectable prey. Once captured, they would be cooked and eaten with relish. Thus Inuit feared these giant beings and would attempt to wipe them out if they could. They were considered slow of thought but clever in their means of pursuit of game. Inuit were ever moving eastward and the Inupasuit soon fell into the lot of myths and legends in our great grandparents’ time. My research led me to Farley Mowat, author of Westviking, who includes descriptive appendices called “The Vanished Dorset”. Mowat provides a description by the Norse who encountered the Dorset (Tunnit) around A.D.1000 as being swarthy and ill looking with remarkable eyes. Mowat refers to another encounter of the Tuniit in the Floamanna Saga where the Viking Thorgisl Orrabeinsfostri shipwrecked in Baffin Island around 997. There, he and his men encountered a giant people, describing the Tunnit. The Tunnit had lived in the Arctic for a long period of time before contact with either Inuit or Vikings. They developed a culture based on seal hunting and wherever their sod houses are found they show a long period of occupancy as noted by their middens of mostly seal remains. As climate changed, seals moved further north following the sea ice. Mowat suggest that as seals shifted their range, so did the Tunnit following their primary food source. This may be why Erik the Red did not encounter Inuit or Tunnit when he explored the Greenland coast around 981. Inuit myths and legends have passed through generations of story tellers. Many have changed but a little over time. A number of Inuit legends are being studied by scholars to see if they can be historically correlated to evidence found in archeological sites in several locations. Look for an interesting conclusion of this exposition in part two. Ronald Brower is an Inupiaq language professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Wisconsin Scholastic Chess: 4th Annual All Girls Tournament

A reminder about this fantastic event put on by the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation. $1,000 in scholarships will be awarded to this year's winners. Saturday February 28, 2009 Location: Divine Savior Holy Angels High School 4257 N 100th St, Milwaukee, WI 53222 (414) 462-3742 Format: Three Sections K – 3 5 Round Swiss G30 K – 6 5 Round Swiss G30 Open (k-12) 5 Round Swiss G30 WSCF K - 3 Three Team Trophies. Individual trophies to top 5 players. WSCF K – 6 Three Team Trophies. Individual trophies to top 5 players. WSCF K – 12 Open Three Team Trophies. Individual trophies to top 5 players. Medals to all participants. Scholarships: K – 3 $ 100 to Champion K – 6 $ 200 to Champion Open $ 400 to Champion, $200 to 2nd Place, $100 to 3rd Place Entry: Register on line at before Thursday Feb 26th at 11: 00 pm. Payment only on day of tournament. $10 for advance registration on line. $15 on site On Site Registration: Registration is from 8:00 am to 8:45. Those arriving after 8:45 will be paired in round 2.

U.S. Amateur Team - North

List of teams (from for the Open section (chess femmes highlighted - I may have missed some). I don't know how current the list is: 1) Chicago Industrial Chess League -- Avg. Rating 2177 Board 1: WFM Anastasia Antipova 2238 (FIDE +100) Board 2: Matthias Pfau 2223 (FIDE +100) Board 3: Fred Scott Allsbrook 2128 Board 4: Yuri Fridman 2109 Alternate: Robert D Morris 2020 2)Kistler's Team -- Avg. Rating 2036 Board 1: FM Dennis Monokroussos 2354 Board 2: Kevin D Fyr 2077 Board 3: Leslie C. Kistler 2027 Board 4: Mathew Leach 1641 3) Green Machine/ NN -- Avg. Rating 1891 Board 1: Kelly Borman 1956 Board 2: Josiah Stein 1936 Board 3: Luke Ludwig 1900 Board 4: Tim Bogenschutz 1772 4) University of Chicago A -- Avg. Rating 1885 Board 1: Jeremy Kane 2183 Board 2: Sam Devenport 1841 (FIDE) Board 3: Marcel Knudsen 1781 Board 4: Ngai Seng Kenny Yeng 1734 5) You've been ROYALLY FORKED -- Avg. Rating 1849 Board 1: Lawrence Cohen 2026 Board 2: Christopher Baumgartner 1801 Board 3: Jon Bonwell 1801 Board 4: Daneil Parmet 1769 Alternate: Bryan Villareal 1637 6) Mate in Four -- Avg. Rating 1837 Board 1: Allen Becker 2041 Board 2: James J Coons 1866 Board 3: Andrew Grochowski 1762 Board 4: Robin Grochowski 1677 Alternate: NONE 7) NN -- Avg. Rating 1788 - need to pay Board 1: Alexander Velikanov 2046 Board 2: Peter Velikanov 1905 Board 3: Nolan Hendrickson 1814 Board 4: Jordan Smith 1385 –paid 8) NN -- Avg. Rating 1637 Board 1: David Jin 1913 Board 2: Derek Sachs 1773 Board 3: Tiayne Zhang 1536 Board 4: Henry Vander Hill 1325 Alternate: NONE 9) NN-- Avg. Rating: 1598 Avg. Rating Board 1: John Veech 1852 Board 2: Andrew Gorectke 1582 Board 3: Troy Zimmermann 1508 Board 4: Thomas George Schneider 1448 10) NN -- Avg. Rating: 1503 Board 1: Hongkai Pan 1907 Board 2: Neil Thomas Strugnell 1676 Board 3: Suhas Kodali 1255 Board 4: Timothy Robert Broman 1172 11) Exchange-Down Technique Avg. Rating 1325 Board 1: Jason Juett 1943 Board 2: Jeremy Madison 1906 Board 3: Brandt Skilling 830 Board 4: Kimberly Hudson 620 12) University of Chicago B Avg. Rating 1173 Board 1: Mike Mei 1775 Board 2: Jason Cigan 1037 Board 3: Ken Yuan UNR Board 4: Allison Hegel 707 13) NN -- Avg. Rating Incomplete Team Board 1: NM Erik Santarius 2299 Board 2: Joseph P Richards 2097 Board 3: TBD Board 4: TBD

U.S. Amateur Team - North

Thanks to Allen Becker for the information on this great Wisconsin event: U.S. Amateur Team - North Feb. 13-15 or 14-15 Waukesha, Wisconsin Two sections: Open and Scholastic (Saturday only) 5SS, 30/90, SD/60 (rounds 1-2 for 2-day schedule G/60; scholastic section G/60 all four rounds). Milwaukee Marriott West, W231N1600 Corporate CT, Waukesha, WI 53186. Chess Rate of $85.99 is valid until Feb. 1st. Reserve early (262) 574-0888. OPEN: Open to 4 player teams with one optional alternate (individuals can enter and be assigned teammates). Team average (4 highest ratings--2008 Annual Rating list) must be under 2200. EF: $140 ($141 if 2-day schedule) postmarked by 2/5/09; $180 after or at door. Prizes: 4 clocks to top two teams, 4 clocks to top teams with average rating u1900, u1600, and u1300. Prizes to best team composed of juniors (high school and younger). Special prizes to top score on each board. Best game prize. Schedule: 3-day: Late Registration: 6-7pm on 02/13. Rounds: 7:30pm; 10:00am-4:00pm; 10:00am-4:00pm. 2-day: Late Registration: 9-10:30am on 02/14. Rounds: 11:00am-1:30pm-4:00pm; 10:00am-4:00pm. Saturday Night Special: dessert + blitz tournament with $$ prizes. SCHOLASTIC: Open to 4 player team with one optional alternate (all players must be High School age or younger; individuals can enter and be assigned teammates). Team average (4 highest ratings--2008 Annual Rating list) must be under 1200. EF: $120 postmarked by 2/5/09; $150 after or at door. Prizes: Prizes to top team overall, top three High School Teams, top three Middle School Teams, top three Elementary School Teams. Special prizes to top score on each board. Schedule: Late Registration: 8:30-9:30am on 02/14. Rounds: 10:15am-1:00pm-3:30pm-6pm. Saturday Night Special: dessert + blitz tournament with $$ prizes. Information/Help with Teams:, 414-234-1005 or Make Checks Payable to and Send Entries to: VICA, 6822 North Crestwood Dr, Glendale, WI 53209. Please include captain’s email and phone number. 2008 results.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Esther Reed Gets Four Years

I've posted about Esther Reed before. It's an incredible story. What I do not understand is why she is being sent to prison. The CIA should be hiring this woman! What money did she steal? Who did she rob? Who did she kill? She used other people's names, but in the end, who did she hurt? Anyone? I don't get it. Story at the Huffington Post Vicky Ward Contributing editor, Vanity Fair Esther Reed: How An Ordinary Girl Faked Her Way Into The Ivy League Today in a courtroom in South Carolina, Esther Elizabeth Reed's fantasies finally ended. The 30-year-old brunette, who has spent eight of the past ten years on the run, often entering Ivy League schools under adopted fake identities, and evading cops with an extraordinary web of deception, faces up to over four years in prison. For one man, Jon Campbell, a slight, sandy-haired tenacious investigator in the police department of the tiny town of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, it is the end of what became an obsessive case resembling the plot of Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks as the FBI detective Carl Hanratty always hotly in pursuit of his prey. Campbell was Reed's Hanratty. In summer 2006 Campbell had received a phone call from a police officer in New York. Campbell was informed that Brooke Henson, a beautiful young woman who had disappeared in peculiar circumstances from her family home in Travelers Rest in the early hours of July 4th 1999 when she was just twenty -- and had since become the town's only unsolved missing person -- had been found. She was, so Campbell was informed an honors student at the Ivy League school of Columbia on New York's upper West Side. New York police had gone to seek out the young woman on the Columbia campus after a New Yorker from whom she had been seeking part-time employment doing housework had googled her and seen she was listed as a missing person on the internet. Brooke Henson told police who interrogated her that she had no desire to be reunited with her family since she was a victim of domestic abuse. She wanted to be left alone to get on her with studies. She was very convincing. The New York police officer told Campbell that they intended to close Ms. Henson's file. Campbell replied that they could close the case if they liked but there was no way the woman they had found was the real Brooke Henson. "Take some DNA" he suggested. "The Brooke Henson I knew could never have got into Columbia" he said into the phone. The girl he knew was a high-school dropout, a party girl. Something in his voice made New York officer go the extra mile. The next day Campbell's phone rang again. Brooke Henson had failed to show for her DNA test. Campbell wasn't surprised. When, weeks later, New York cops forced entry into her apartment, they tripped over a pile of calling cards from New York officers. They had been dropped through the mailbox. They found no hair, no trace of anything that would have DNA. But they did find a video card, signed in Boston, MA bearing the name "Natalie Bowman." Once again they called Campbell and relayed their findings. Who was the young woman if it wasn't Brooke Henson? Officially this was his case. Campbell rolled up his sleeves and went to work. A 40-year-old graduate of Bob Jones university, he was more anxious than anyone to solve a mystery that had preyed on his mind and exasperated him for years. Back in 2001 he had been assigned the case and handed two boxes of "indecipherable" material. He had re-interviewed dozens of local people and taken DNA samples to try solve what had really happened to Brooke Henson and found himself thwarted at every turn. "Everyone in this town had a theory about what happened to Brooke," he said. "But none of them was right." Particularly exasperating for him were the prank calls. There was a medium who claimed to have seen her body beside "yellow rope" and then there was the inmate from a neighboring jurisdiction who got cops to drive him around in the pouring rain and dig. He was pretty sure Brooke Henson had been murdered and he thought he knew who had done it and even probably where. He had just never found a body -- much to his chagrin. So, he was intrigued by whoever this impostor was, pretending to be Brooke. Maybe she had information that could help him; maybe she had known the young woman. First he had to find out who she was. He began a lonely few months of phone calls and paper trails. He called Kim Finnergan head of security at Columbia. Finnergan was helpful at first but then stopped sending him documents once the school got "lawyered up." Thereafter they cited privacy laws. Campbell had to get a federal subpoena to force them to continue to help him. It was like pulling teeth. He learned there were two Natalie Bowmans. One was a dead end in that she is a bona fide medical graduate student at Columbia and a former graduate of Harvard. Another one showed up, before two years at Columbia, in Harvard's records. He saw she had been on the debate team there in 2002. From there she had apparently vanished. Harvard had no record of her graduating. Like Columbia, Harvard was not helpful. But Campbell learned that in both places her file was flagged as a victim of domestic abuse. It is possible both knew "Natalie Bowman" or "Brooke Henson" was not her real name. Campbell retraced the steps of Harvard debate team in 2002. Harvard had taken on West Point. A few more phone calls led him to Natalie Bowman's former boyfriends -- cadet officers who had been on West Point's debate team and who had since left to take senior military postings, including the supervising of others in Iraq. He called the parents of one young man, in Detroit. Finally he got the name he was looking for; the young man's parents believed the woman calling herself Natalie Bowman was really one, Esther Reed. They'd seen her driver's license which been issued in Seattle. Rest of story.

Hawass Couldn't Wait

Like a first grader who has to pee and hops from one foot to the other broadcasting his intentions, Zahi Hawass just couldn't wait, and foolishly opened the rare intact sarcophagus recently discovered in a Saqqara burial chamber (along with as many as 29 other mummies, including the mummy of a dog). I hope the ghost of that mummy haunts the jerk for the rest of his life! This is an act of gross malfeasance, done purely for the publicity. Opening such a rare prize in totally uncontrolled conditions! What a schmuck! The Egyptians should run the dude out of office and strip him of his fancy title and salary. And he calls himself a scientist, an egyptologist. Ha! (Image: photo credit (Mike Nelson/Pool/Reuters) The idiot Hawass poses in a corner of the burial chamger while the skull of the mummy is exposed to an uncontrolled environment. It would serve him right if that mummy disintegrates before they can get it to Cairo.) Egypt finds rare intact mummy near Saqqara pyramid By Cynthia Johnston Cynthia Johnston – Wed Feb 11, 9:48 am ET SAQQARA, Egypt (Reuters) – Egyptian archaeologists found a rare intact mummy dating to pharaonic times when they opened a sealed limestone sarcophagus on Wednesday in the shadow of the world's oldest standing step pyramid at Saqqara. The well-preserved mummy, which escaped plunder by thieves in ancient times, could contain scores of gold amulets in the folds of its linen wrappings, Egypt's chief archeologist Zahi Hawass said. "It is a typical mummy of the 26th dynasty...This mummy should contain amulets, golden amulets, to help the deceased go to the afterlife," Hawass told reporters after ascending from the mummy's burial chamber, accessible only by a rope pulley. "To find an intact mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus is not common. It's rare. It's very rare," he said. Archaeologists found the ancient mummy when they removed the lid of its sarcophagus deep in a burial chamber in the desert on the western side of Saqqara, about 20 km (12 miles) south of Cairo. Thirty other mummies were also found in the same room. The 26th dynasty ruled Egypt from about 664 to 525 BC, immediately before Persians occupied the area. Hawass said the mummy found in the sarcophagus, believed to be the original owner of the burial room, would undergo scans to determine if it did contain amulets. It is unusual to find intact burials in well-known necropolises such as Saqqara, which served the nearby city of Memphis, because thieves scoured the area in ancient times. MORE TOMBS COULD BE FOUND Hawass said the mummy's burial room, built via a shaft next to a much older burial chamber, was one of three tombs archaeologists had recently unearthed near Saqqara that were thought to be part of a much larger cemetery. "I always say that we have found 30 percent of the Egyptian monuments, and still 70 percent is buried underneath the ground," Hawass said. "We expect to discover more tombs. You have to wait. Every week (there) will be a tomb to be discovered in this area. This is the beginning of the cemetery," he said. The identity of the main mummy found in the tomb was not known, but Hawass said he would have been wealthy. The lid of his sarcophagus was cracked, but Hawass said it had been sealed with mortar in antiquity, preserving the mummy. "If a mummy is inside the limestone sarcophagus, it means this person is rich," he said. Of the roughly 30 mummies found inside the burial chamber alongside the limestone sarcophagus and its mummy, Hawass said some would have been poor and some wealthy. They may have been relatives of the original owner. Most of the additional mummies were found in niches in the walls of the burial room, about 11 meters (34 feet) below ground level, and they included four mummies buried with a dog. But the finds also included two anthropoid wood coffins with hieroglyphic inscriptions. Hawass found a 26th dynasty mummy in one of the wood coffins when he opened it on Wednesday after brushing away loose sand. The other wood coffin was deemed too fragile, and would be opened later after conservation efforts. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

From Gs to Gents

I don't have cable television so I'm out of the loop (way out) on most of the popular t.v. shows these days, but even if I had cable I probably wouldn't watch MTV. But today I came across mention of the show "From Gs to Gents" that a new season was starting. I didn't know what "Gs" meant but I know what "Gents" means so I figured it must be some kind of reality make-over show. I did a quick Google search and found the official website which includes the full first episode of the new season, where the 16 Gs are introduced. I learned that Gs are "ganstas" - oh please! If it's one thing I utterly despise, it's that ghetto crap talk complete with profanity that is so profuse, it becomes meaningless. I was intrigued by the premise though. If these guys were truly Gs, could they make the changes necessary to learn the way toward becoming a true gentleman? Are some of these guys "ganstas"? Some of them wouldn't scare Edward G. Robinson, but I suppose some of them are ganstas (believe me guys, that is not a compliment) and if I saw any one of them walking down the street toward me I'd probably think "trouble" along with a twinge of disgust at such a worthless specimen. Some of these fellows have had brushes with the law (on the wrong side), at least one has been to prison for armed robbery (ironically, one of the better spoken of the guys who seems he could get something on the ball), and several of these young "men" have children themselves. To a man, the ones who had children said they were doing this for their children, so that they might have better lives. Yeah, well, if your lives suck so much, dudes, why did you bring new life into the world when you are not equipped to care for it? Didn't think about keeping it in your pants, did you? I get sick of the BS, you know? I watched the show online during my lunch hour. Is there a way to skip the commercials? Probably not - it's not as if it's on a VCR where you can zap through the commercials. The commercials were truly awful, but I found the show interesting. Some of the fellows have very sad life stories, some of them were just silly-butt jerks, and a couple of them were so utterly clueless - they were the saddest of all. I felt sorry for them. They were truly pathetic. The most clueless of them all is "Riff-Raff" from Texas, who has colored wool (or something) woven into his awful hair (it looks as if cooties could jump out at any second and eat the camera), disfiguring tatoos all over, gold foil or whatever it is on several of his teeth (he was constantly picking at his teeth throughout the show), his eyebrows have hash-marks shaved into them. He talks trash and ghetto combined, wore absolutely awful clothes but I guess in his mode of life he is considered somewhat fashionable. His life consists of getting drunk and drunker on the weekends and then waiting through the rest of the week until the next weekend comes. I believe he is a drug dealer, but I could be wrong about that. If he was cleaned up, all the silly clothes removed and given a decent haircut, he would look like a young Woody Harrelson - until he opened up his mouth. Part of the process in show one was a one-on-one interview with the head of the Gentlemen's Club - I do not know who he is so I cannot tell you his name or what he is famous for. But he is famous, judging by the reaction of the Gs. They were equal parts envious and impressed with this man. During one of these interviews, the G said he knew that if he showed up at a job interview dressed as he was (with those silly saggy pants that show underwear and butt-crack, the backwards hat, the gold chains, the athletic shoes that cost hundreds of dollars and are useless for anything athletic) and he opened his mouth and out came ghetto, he would not get a job. Gee - ya think? That particular G showed something resembling introspection and the ability to relate his actions to something other than ghetto and gangs and a dead-end life. Poor Riff-Raff, on the other hand, said he was in school for 11 years and did not remember a thing. And when he said that, he didn't know whether to look proudly defiant, or just plain scared. If he was trying for proudly defiant, he failed miserably. He just looked plain scared. Very very sad. What I wonder is - do any Gs or wannabe Gs watch this show and, if they do, do they learn anything from it? One of the things that an education does is to teach a person that he/she does NOT have to make the same mistakes of those who went before. Do they get it? By the end of the show I had a few favorites and I will check from time to time to see if there are updates on the show about who makes it through, and who doesn't. The winner receives $100,000. It could be life-changing. But hopefully, just being on the show for several weeks will teach at least some of these fellows a few life lessons worth learning. It does matter how one dresses, walks and talks. And ghetto is a sure ticket to the wrong end of the street. I hope some of the guys get the message.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Deities of the Canine Kind

(Image: Traditional eastern depiction of a dog-headed St. Christopher: an icon from the Byzantine Museum, Athens).

Goddesses have been connected to ancient board games from the earliest times. For instance, the Shar-i Sokhtah game board, a twenty squares game board made of wood whose playing spaces are formed by the bodies of two intertwined serpents (c. 2400 BCE), reflects the serpent connection to several ancient goddesses; twenty squares game boards excavated at Ur and other places have certain squares marked with an eight-pointed square or "rosette" - a symbol of Inanna.

Dogs have also been companions of ancient goddesses since time immemorial, some as hunting companions but, more often, connected to a goddess' role as arbiter of birth/death/rebirth. Dogs and other canines (as well as birds - another story) were carion eaters, fulfilling a necessary role in the never-ending cycle of life. (Vultures also fulfilled this role in Upper Egypt, and were so revered in that culture that one of the protectoresses of Pharaoh was the Vulture Goddess Nekhbet, who formed part of the Double Crown along with Uadjet, the Serpent Goddess).

In several ancient board games the playing pieces were either fashioned after dogs or other canines (such as jackals), or were called "dogs." This may reflect ancient "hunt/race" iconography in the board games of which we have surviving examples (in earliest times dogs were trained as game hunters and personal body guards), or it may be a reflection of the canine companions of one or more unnamed goddesses who were so familiar to the players of those games and so intimately connected to those games that it was commonly accepted and everyone knew who the goddesses were, and there was no necessity for more overt references.

Here is some information about canine deities, reflecting the obvious importance of canines to early mankind - so important, they were deified.

From the ShukerNature blog Sunday, 8 February 2009

Probably the most famous canine deity of all is Anubis - the jackal-headed son of Osiris, god of the underworld, and Nebthet, a funeral goddess. Sometimes represented as a coal-black, bushy-tailed jackal or pointed-eared dog in a crouched or lying down position, Anubis was worshipped in Egypt from c.2700 BC to the close of ancient Egyptian history in c.400 AD, and was venerated extensively at the necropolis in Memphis.

He originated as a god of putrefaction, but eventually emerged with a more specific (and less unappetising) role - as the mortuary god who presided over embalming. Indeed, Egyptian priests supervising official embalmers wore jackal-headed masks to signify the presence of Anubis during these preparations. Moreover, according to traditional Egyptian lore, Anubis invented funeral rites, presiding over the funeral and mummification of his own father, Osiris. [As far as I am aware, Osiris only fathered one son -- Horus.  Horus, was conceived by Isis after she was partially successful in reconstructing the body of Osiris from the 12 -- or 13 -- pieces scattered all around the land after he had been abducted, killed, cut up and scattered all over by his brother, Seth or Set.  Isis collected the pieces of the body of Osiris and put them all back together, but his penis was missing, and so she used a twig or branch from a tree to represent that part -- thus her ancient connection to being a bird (a kite or swift) was echoed in the ancient tradition.  She was able to partially ressurect Osiris from the dead by having intercourse with his "aroused" corpse, having sex with a part of a tree, essentially, and Horus, the Falcon-god, was conceived and born.  This myth probably represents the merging of separate religious traditions from one or more cities into what became the eventual Egyptian pantheon. The ancient Egyptians were very successful as glossing over inconsistencies in various regional religious traditions and myths, merging them all into a more or less harmonious whole.]

Once mummification of a dead person is complete, it is Anubis who leads the dead into the presence of his father, Osiris, in the underworld, to be judged by him. Anubis also weighs the dead person's heart, in the Hall of the Two Truths, to determine its ultimate fate.

Another, less familiar canine-headed deity of Egyptian mythology is Upuaut. Originally a warrior god, Upuaut is variously represented as a dog-headed, jackal-headed, or even wolf-headed man who leads the funeral cortege at the festivals of Osiris. He also steers the boat of the sun as it journeys through the dark realm of the night between dusk and dawn.

Interestingly, in the later glosses of traditional beliefs (particularly after the Greek Ptolemy dynasty was established), Isis is not directly associated with the canine deities of death.  In her earliest forms, however, the dogs of death walked closely next to her as she performed her various functions as Virgin, Mother, and Crone. 


After the Greeks and Romans took over Egypt, the cult of Anubis became assimilated with that of the Greek messenger god, Hermes, and a new, combined deity was created - Hermanubis. Just like Anubis, Hermanubis was represented as a canine-headed man, but his functions changed. Instead of being strongly associated with funeral rituals and embalming, emphasis was placed upon his role as a guide, leading the souls of the dead through the underworld. Moreover, just like Hermes, Hermanubis came to be portrayed with winged sandals, and held a staff or caduceus, with two snakes entwined around it, in his hand. Nevertheless, as with the priests of Anubis, those of Hermanubis wore canine masks - a tradition leading scholar Hugh Trotti in 1990 to propose a most intriguing theory.

By the first century AD, worship of Hermanubis had spread beyond Rome-ruled Egypt, reaching Rome itself - where Germanic troops recruited into the Roman armies would have seen statues of this canine god, as well as his dog-headed priests. Such sights would no doubt have been remembered and spoken of by the Germanic people after the Roman Empire's fall - and Trotti has speculated that distorted accounts of these may ultimately have inspired legends of werewolves, i.e. humans who could transform themselves into wolves.


Another notable canine deity is Xolotl, one of the principal gods of Aztec mythology in ancient Mexico, who created mankind by leading them up from the spirit world and bestowing upon them the gift of fire. [In other words and traditions, the Goddess of the Dead lead the deceased souls toward life and resurrected them by instilling the "fire" of the Holy Spirit into their "souls."] 

Due to his magical ability to assume any shape, Xolotl has been depicted in many forms, but is most commonly represented as an oddly-formed dog, with rear-running feet, and ears that can point backwards or forwards. Xolotl is the twin of the sky god Quetzalcoatl, and represents the evening star, Venus, hauling the sun downwards each evening into the gloomy vault of night. A deity with varied associations, he is also the god of twins (as a twin himself) and ball games, as well as a deity of the underworld, corresponding to the Pek or lightning dog of Maya mythology.

Today, Xolotl's name is still linked to dogs in zoological nomenclature, though only very indirectly - sharing it with the axolotl, a form of aquatic Mexican salamander, whose larval form is reminiscent of a dog and hence is sometimes referred to as a water-dog.


In Hindu lore, Bhairava, a door guardian, is a fearsome canine deity. One of the forms assumed by the god Siva, he is often portrayed either as a huge black dog, or as a human riding a black dog. Terrifying to behold, Bhairava has many arms, three eyes, long matted hair, and sometimes has a serpent entwined around his body, with a collar of skulls around his neck.

Food sellers plying their ware outside Indian temples dedicated to Siva sell tiny dogs carved out of sugar, which can then be presented as an offering to Bhairava. In northern India, a canine deity was formerly worshipped by certain Dravidians. So too were dogs in Nepalese villages, during a special festival called Khicha Puja, in which a garland of flowers was deferentially placed around the neck of every dog in each village.


Down through the ages, many saints have been accredited with miraculous powers, or have led unusual lives, but one of the most remarkable histories on record must surely be that of St Guinefort, who may well be the only canonised greyhound!

It was in c.1250 AD when a Dominican priest called Stephen of Bourbon first learnt of the tomb of St Guinefort, located in a sacred grove within the remote Dombes region north of Lyons, France. [Note: I believe this is one of the areas of France that is a former "hot bed" of Goddess worship, later became a hot bed area for the worship of the Virgin Mary, her substitute upon the ascendence of so-called Christianity in the region.] Upon further enquiry, he was amazed to discover that this saint had actually been a greyhound, which had been wrongly blamed for the death of a local lord's infant. Only after it had been slain by the enraged lord was the discovery made that in reality the dog had been protecting the baby from a snake. [How ironic -- one symbol of death protecting the infant from another symbol of death according to "Christian" tradition.]

Stricken with guilt and remorse for his rash action, the lord erected a tomb, in which the dog's bones were placed. Soon, stories began to emerge of miracles occurring at the site of this tomb, featuring the inexplicable restoration to good health of sick children brought here by their parents, and the dog duly became known as St Guinefort.

Stephen of Bourbon, however, was horrified by what he deemed to be this unholy, sacrilegious activity, and swiftly instigated the destruction of the tomb and its grove. Yet the cult of St Guinefort survived in secret long after Stephen of Bourbon's own demise, with a chapel dedicated to the slightly re-named Saint-Guy le Fort existing in the 17th Century on the site of the original tomb, and with the greyhound saint's name restored to its original form by the 1800s.

Even today, St Guinefort's story is well known in the Dombes region, and researchers have revealed possible links between this history and the famous Welsh legend of Gelert - another noble dog that died a martyr. They do say that every dog has its day - but in St Guinefort's case, it has lasted several centuries!
Posted by CFZ: Cryptozoology Online at 12:41

I'm going to be visiting this blog now that I've discovered it! It's creator is Dr. Karl Shuker, a cryptozoologist and author.

It was in a comment at ShukerNature that I read about a dog-headed image of St. Christopher and did a quick Google search to come up with the image above (different than the image mentioned in the comment)! Never knew that - or about the dog-saint, St. Guinefort! What an amazing world we live in! Of course, St. Guinefort the dog was in France - that bastion of goddess worship - Black Madonnas and Marian cathedrals thick across the breadth and height of the country. The dog-saint was buried in a sacred grove (code for ancient goddess worship; I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were also local legends about a sacred spring in or quite near the sacred grove in ancient times). This Guinefort legend, it's absolutely fascinating.

Important Conference on Indus Civilization

Reappraisal of the Indus /Vedic Civilization Tuesday, 02.10.2009, 03:41am (GMT-7) Â LOS ANGELES: An international conference on the Sindhu-Sarasvati Valley Civilization will be held on Feb 21 and 22 at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles. Prominent scholars particularly archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists, historians, religious specialists and geneticists will discus the nature of the interrelation between the Indus or Sindhu and the Sarasvati or Vedic culture(s) from about 3000 BC to 1000 BC. They will attempt to bridge the chronological, linguistic and racial gap between the material and literary cultures of the Indus and Vedic. A few fundamental questions raised are: Who were the people of Ancient India Civilizations? Were they Vedic Aryan or Indo- Aryan, Indo- Iranian or Dravidians? Has archaeological evidence confirmed the existence of common features of Vedic and Indus culture(s)? Is there an indigenous continuity of the culture in India and Pakistan or did the people come from outside the subcontinent? How does the scientific evidence of the drying of the River Sarasvati play a role in the interpretation of the history and chronology of the civilization. How is the genetic evidence corroborated with archaeological evidences especially regarding the antiquity of the Indian gene? Prominent scholars who examine the issues include Jonathan Mark Kenoyer (University of Wisconsin), Carl C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Dr. B.B. Lal (Archaeological Survey of India), R.S. Bisht (Archaeological Survey of India), Louis Flam (City University of NY), S.R.Rao (Archaeological Survey of India, National Institute of Oceanography), Edwin Bryant (Rutgers University) Shiva Bajpai (CSUN) , Vijendra Kumar Kashyap (India's National Institute of Biologicals), Subhash Kak (Oklahama State University), Ashok Aklujkar (University of British Columbia) , Jim G. Shaffer (Case Western Reserve University, Dennis Frenez (University of Bologna) and Nicholas Kazanas (Omilos Meleton Cultural Institute, Athens). The interpretations by scholars in the conference will be rooted in scholarship and presented with clarity and brevity for the sake of the educated public. They will touch upon areas of consensus and contentions with a temporarily conclusive interdisciplinary understanding upon the topics: Indus and Sarasvati: ecology and culture, Indus and Aryan: Race and Language, The Indus Script/Language, Population: Migration and Settlement, Sociopolitical Organizations and DNA and Astronomical evidences. The conference enhances our historical understanding of the period in the Sindhu-Sarasvati area. The overlapping evidences and ambiguities will be confronted by scholars who examine their inter-relationships, and arrive at a consensus. It will be of significant intellectual and educational interest to all students and scholars of science, humanities and social sciences, and more importantly, the educated public.

Aztec Resistance Fighters (?)

Love the headline, but further study is needed. Mexico mass grave may be Aztec resistance fighters By MARK STEVENSON – 2 hours ago MEXICO CITY (AP) — Archaeologists digging in a ruined pyramid in downtown Mexico City said Tuesday they found a mass grave that may hold the skeletal remains of the Aztec holdouts who fought conquistador Hernan Cortes. The unusual burial holds the carefully arrayed skeletons of at least 49 adult Indians who were buried in the remains of a pyramid razed by the Spaniards during the 1521 conquest of the Aztec capital. The pyramid complex, in the city's Tlatelolco square, was the site of the last Indian resistance to the Spaniards during the monthslong battle for the city. Archaeologist Salvador Guilliem, the leader of the excavation for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, said the Indians might have been killed during Cortes' war or during one of the uprisings that continued after the conquest. Guilliem said many burials have been found at the site with the remains of Indians who died during epidemics that swept the Aztec capital in the years after the conquest and killed off much of the Indian population. But those burials were mostly hurried, haphazard affairs in which remains were jumbled together in pits regardless of age or gender. The burial reported Tuesday is different. The dead had many of the characteristics of warriors: All were young men, most were tall and several showed broken bones that had mended. The men also were carefully buried Christian-style, lying on their backs with arms crossed over their chests, though many appear to have been wrapped up in large maguey cactus leaves, rather than placed in European coffins. The mass grave contained evidence of an Aztec-like ritual in which offerings such as incense and animals were set alight in an incense burner, but Spanish elements including buttons and a bit of glass also were present. Susan Gillespie, an archaeologist at the University of Florida, said the grave was unusual, both because it was unlikely the Spanish would have bothered with such careful burial of Aztec warriors, and because the Indians themselves would have been more likely to cremate any honored dead. But Gillespie, who was not involved in the excavation, also noted that little is known about the period immediately following the fall of the city, when Cortes razed most pyramids and temples, then abandoned the largely destroyed metropolis. He lived on the city's outskirts before returning to rebuild a Spanish-style city on the ruins. It may have been in that interim period after Cortes left that the Aztecs returned to bury their dead, Guilliem said. Gillespie agreed the burials could be those of disease victims or rebellious Indians from later years, rather than warriors who fell in the 1521 battle, and said more research was needed, such as a skeletal analysis to show cause of death. Another possibility, she said, was that the men could have been held by the Spanish for some time and killed later. That was the fate that befell the leader of the Aztec resistance, emperor Cuauhtemoc.
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