Saturday, February 21, 2009

Asian American Queen of Cinema

The Reigning Queen of Asian American Hollywood Pacific Citizen, News report, Lynda Lin, Assistant Editor Posted: Feb 21, 2009 (Image: Tamlyn Tomita in 2008) Tamlyn Tomita throws her hands in the air and confesses that the last few years have been a transitional time in her career. The actress, 43, who famously launched countless boyhood crushes as Ralph Macchio's love interest in "The Karate Kid, Part II," is starting to move into mom roles. "I've been mom how many times this year or last year. Wow!" she exclaims with a laugh. Let's see, there's the popular ABC series "Heroes," where last year she played Masi Oka's onscreen mother and George Takei's wife — despite in real life only being nine years older than Oka and 28 years younger than Takei. If there ever was any doubt that Hollywood is cruel, remove it now. Because while sitting in the lobby of the Miyako Hotel in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo and talking community and history with the Pacific Citizen, she's still every inch as lovely as her "Karate Kid" Kumiko character and sophisticated as Waverly in "The Joy Luck Club." Occasionally flashes of spunky Kana, her 1994 role as the Japanese Hawaiian plantation worker in "Picture Bride" bubbles to the surface too. "It's just a natural part of life," says Tamlyn, a Sansei who was born in Okinawa. "I won't be able to go up against actresses who are in their 20s anymore." But she doesn't mind. "It's just a matter of really taking delight in the roles that are out there and saying 'Oh my God! I'm a mother? No way!'" And with over 20 years in Hollywood, while many other former young actors have fizzled (Hello, have you seen VH1's "Confessions of a Teen Idol"?), Tomita has been a steady force with a lengthy Web page to prove it. In the last few months, television projects have been popping up non-stop: "The Mentalist," "Eureka" and maybe even "Heroes" again ("You never know!"). She names the projects between snaps of fingers and pauses to reflect. "I've been very, very lucky." 'Karate Kid': 23 Years Later After all this time, people still recognize Tamlyn in the role that launched her career. She could be walking down the street and hardened businessmen in suits would just melt remembering scenes from the film where Kumiko coyly dances in her kimono. They usually say, "You're that girl!" and maybe even start thinking about the chorus of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love." "It's cute, very sweet." Before sharing screen time with other Japanese American legends like Pat Morita and Nobu McCarthy, Tamlyn was a history major at the University of California, Los Angeles and Little Tokyo's Nisei Week queen in 1984. From the beginning, her career and the community have always intersected. The idea for Tamlyn to audition for the "Karate Kid" came from Helen Funai, another former Nisei Week queen. When she landed the role, Tamlyn's father, the late Shiro Tomita, said Funai had to be her manager. "She basically mothered me through the first few years of my career. I wasn't alone." Shiro, who was interned at Manzanar during World War II, was a Los Angeles Police Department officer who helped to form the nation's first Asian task force. "I remember growing up and feeling that sense of community here in Little Tokyo." Tamlyn's mother Asako, who is half Okinawan and half Filipina, experienced the other side of WWII. "With English being her third language it was very difficult for her to tell her kids about what it was like growing up in the war on that side." In the fourth grade when Tamlyn finally read a very abbreviated version of the U.S. internment of JAs in her schoolbook, she rushed home and asked, "Dad, did this happen to you?" In response, Shiro gave his daughter a copy of Estelle Ishigo's book, "Lone Heart Mountain." It's partly her parents' influence that she says drives her to be an active community leader. She's been a Nisei Week host for the past eight years and a constant presence at community functions. "It's that sense of trying to retain that sense of history and to pass along these ideas of what it means to be Japanese American." This year during Nisei Week, Tamlyn brought her uncle as part of her "entourage" and had him sit in the thick of ondo dancers. I said, "'Yeah, that's right. This is all our people.' "Itinerant Actor" "I think with actors unless we're super successful — like a Tom Hanks or a Julia Roberts — we're always itinerant workers. It's from job to job." It's the kind of lifestyle that even after so many years makes Asako worry about her daughter. Even with the big budget splashy movies like "The Day After Tomorrow," Asako would ask, "Okay, what are you going to do next?" In Wayne Wang's 1993 film "The Joy Luck Club," Tamlyn made history as part of the Asian Pacific American cast in the first APA film to be released into mainstream America. She still gets recognized as Waverly Jong, the grown up chess champion. Since then, Tamlyn has seen Hollywood evolve to include some more roles for APA actors. "It does feel like it's opening up, but the bottom line to me still is that change is occurring slowly," she said. "There are more opportunities for roles that are not ethnic specific, but they're not leading roles." Once in awhile, APA actors pop up in the peripherals of new films and television shows, provide some comic relief or added drama and then just disappear. "We're just the seasoning. We're just the flavor still." That's why she doesn't shirk from the label of community leader. "You have to take it with the sense that by the fact that we're of a non-white face, it's a political statement. We're here to play. I'm going to sit at this table representing a whole group of people behind me. And I know there are people who would love to have the opportunity to speak and say something ... I happen to be very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to say what I need to say in order to propel our community and say, 'Hey, we're here! Count us!'" In the recent politically charged presidential elections, whenever Tamlyn would hear pundits talk about "black and brown" ethnic communities, she would want to shout out "yellow!" She leans forward and smiles. "Actually, I like to say 'golden.'"
Lyrics to Peter Cetera's "The Glory of Love" Tonight it's very clear As were both lying here There's so many things I want to say I will always love you I would never leave you alone Sometimes I just forget Say things I might regret It breaks my heart to see you crying I dont wanna lose you I could never make it alone I am a man who will fight for your honor I'll be the hero youre dreaming of We'll live forever Knowing together that we Did it all for the glory of love You'll keep me standing tall You'll help me through it all I'm always strong when you're beside me I have always needed you I could never make it alone I am a man who will fight for your honor I'll be the hero youve been dreaming of We'll live forever Knowing together that we Did it all for the glory of love Just like a knight in shining armor From a long time ago Just in time I will save the day Take you to my castle far away I am a man who will fight for your honor I'll be the hero you're dreaming of We're gonna live forever Knowing together that we Did it all for the glory of love We'll live forever Knowing together that we Did it all for the glory of love We did it all for love We did it all for love We did it all for love We did it all for love

Mehen: An Ancient Egyptian Board Game

More info on Mehen. This Mehen board is from the British Museum, c. 2800 BCE. Sorry, I don't have the exhibit number or provenance saved in My Pictures and when I looked for it today, I could not find it archived at the British Museum's website. Drat! Doesn't this remind you of the "ALL SEEING EYE" with sun-rays coming out from it??? We don't know the rules - but we have examples of the playing pieces in several museums. The following information comes from P.S. Neeley's website on Mehen, where you can also download a version of the game: ‘Mehen’, which means ‘coiled one’ or as a verb, ‘to coil’, in ancient Egyptian was played on a spiral game board – most often explicitly in the form of a snake – with varying numbers of slots (playing squares), six sets of differently colored marbles (the playing pieces, with six marbles to a set), and six special playing pieces in the form of a dangerous, predatory animal – most often lions (but sometimes dogs or even hippos). It is the only multi-player ancient Egyptian board game known – the others were contests between two players (or teams), while Mehen could accommodate as many as six contestants. Strangely, it also seems to have ceased being played in ancient Egypt from just after 2000 BC. (during the early Middle Kingdom)... The Petrie Museum (among others) has a collection of archaic lions that date to Naqada III (pre-dynastic and Dynasty "Zero"). (Image from Petrie Museum, from My Pictures). According to P.S. Neeley, a form of Mehen may have survived into the early 20th century: In the 1920s, anthropologists, explorers, and adventurers found a curious, spiral based, game being played by Baggara Arabs of the Sudan -- The Hyena Game (You can see the rules for this game in The Rules section of the help file). Tim Kendall writes: " In all essential details the "Hyena Game" seems to have been identical to Mehen. It was played on a spiraling track, employed stick dice of precisely the kind known from Archaic Egyptian contexts, and had two types of pieces, one representing a predatory animal. The only difference would seem to be that the ancient Egyptians allotted six counters to each player rather than only one." [But, see Piccione's comments, below] Here are Dr. Peter Piccione's comments on Mehen from the old ANE Digest message/bulletin board: From: "Peter Piccione" Date: 30 Nov 1994 17:23:28 USubject: Re: Phaistos/games/duplicate Reply to: RE>Phaistos/games/duplicate On 11/22 Dr. John Baker asked about the Phaistos Disk (Crete, 17th century BC),"can it have been some sort of table game?" As I recall, this possibility was mentioned and discussed at the Colloquium on Board Games of the Ancient World, held at the British Museum in September 1990. Timothy Kendall of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presented a fine paper on the Egyptian game of *mehen* (entitled, "The Egyptian Game of the Snake"), and I think he may have noted the similarities between the game and the Phaistos Disk. Unfortunately, the proceedings of that symposium are still in press, and I don't know that a publication date has even been set yet (but that's another matter). On 11/23, Dr. Joanna Smith wrote that the game in question is the spiral-form "game of snake" (citing W. Decker, SPORTS AND GAMES OF ANCIENT EGYPT, 131-33). She then broached the subject of small inscribed clay balls found on Cyprus about which Dikaios earlier conjectured were marbles for gaming (P. Dikaios,ENKOMI 2, p. 516). These balls are clay and impressed with Cyprio-Minoan signs, meaning uncertain (E. Masson, STUDIES IN MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY31/1). Dr. Smith noted the similarity between these balls and small Egyptian gaming balls (viz. "marbles"), which were associated earlier with the "game of snake." Those balls are made of stone and are incised with decorative text. She described an illustration of an inscribed Egyptian marble in association with that game, published by G. Hart, ANCIENT EGYPT, p. 53 [middle left] (BTW, the source for this photo is noted on p. 64, "p. 53ml"). She quotes Hart's description of the marble, "the stone counters are sometimes carved with thenames of Egypt's earliest pharaohs." My own extensive research into Egyptian board games and their religious associations has shed some light on the game of *mehen* (as the "game of snake"is properly called in Egyptian). The "mehen" is both the coiled serpent of that gameboard, as well as the proper noun, Mehen, denoting the specific serpent-deity embodied in the game. Regarding this game, note the following recent references: Decker, W. and Herb, M. BILDATLAS ZUM SPORT IM ALTEN AEGYPTEN: CORPUS DERBILDLICHEN QUELLEN ZU LEIBESUEBUNGEN, SPIEL, JAGD, TANZ UND VERWANDTEN THEMEN.Vol. 1, TEXT, pp. 608-11, 633-42. Vol. 2, ABBILDUNGEN, pls. 355-59. Handbuchder Orientalistik. Abteilung 1. Der Nahe und der Mittlere Osten 14. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994. Kendall, T. LEXIKON DER AEGYPTOLOGIE, ed. W. Helck and E. Otto. Vol. 5, 653-55.Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz. S.v. "Schlangenspiel" [in English]. Kendall, T. "An Ancient Egyptian Board Game among the Khababish?" In his"Ethnoarchaeology in Meroitic Studies." MEROITICA 10 (1984): 711-15. Piccione, P. "The Historical Development of the Game of Senet and Its Significance for Egyptian Religion," 41-42, 217-27. Ph.D. dissertation,University of Chicago, 1990. [Available through University Microfilms] Piccione, P. "Mehen, Mysteries and Resurrection from the Coiled Serpent."JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN RESEARCH CENTER IN EGYPT 27 (1990): 43-52. N.B., the still important seminal study (although outdated in certain conclusions and syntheses): Ranke, H. "Das Altaegyptische Schlangenspiele." SITZUNGBERICHTE DERHEIDELBERGER AKADEMIE DER WISSENSCHAFTEN 11. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1920. The archaeological and artistic evidence for the game of *mehen* is found only in contexts dating from the Predynastic Period through the Old Kingdom (perhaps as late as the First Intermediate Period). Later in the Saite Period, the play of the game is again depicted on the walls of two tombs, as part of the neo-Memphite revival--when Old Kingdom artistic motives and themes were temporarily revived for socio-political purposes. The pattern strongly suggests that the *mehen*-game ceased to be played in Egypt after the Old Kingdom. Representations in the tomb of Hesyre and various other mastabas reveal that 2-6 people played at any one time (probably forming 2 teams of 1-3 players ea.) Gaming pieces included: 6 sets of marbles (6 per player) and 2 sets of feline draughtsmen (3 couchant lions and 3 couchant lionesses), probably 1 set for each team. That the game quickly developed significant and deep-seated religious associations (if these were not actually original to the game!) is indicated by the game's occurence and function in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts (q.v. Piccione, "Mehen," passim). While marbles were an important component of the game, none have ever been found together with any *mehen*-gameboards. Thus, the photograph of marble and board in Hart's ANCIENT EGYPT represents a false assemblage, composed, no doubt, for illustrative purposes (a common practice in museum display). That marble does not belong to that *mehen*-board. Because marbles were also in popular use with games other than *mehen* (e.g., Petrie, NAQADA AND BALLAS, p.35, pl. VII [1]), their occurence in an archaeological context does not necessarily indicate the presence of a *mehen*-game, specifically. Dr. Smith asked about the significance of Egyptian marbles which happen to be inscribed. Actually these are very rare, given the large number of uninscribed marbles recovered in Egypt. Most of the known examples are published by Peter Kaplony, DIE INSCHRIFTEN DER AEGYPTISCHEN FRUEHZEIT. Supplement, pp. 28-31[1050-1052], pl. 2. Aegyptologische Abhandlungen 9. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1964. The specimen published by Hart, now in the British Museum, is incised with the name of King Aha. The marbles of Kaplony's corpus are incised with the names of kings of the Archaic Period, specifically. They usually derive from the mastabas and cenotaphs of these kings and are probably inscribed as such to denote them as the property of their owners. The kings whose names are found inscribed on such marbles include: Aha (c. 3050-3016 BC), Djer (c. 3016-2970 BC), Wadji (c.2970-2963 BC), Anedjib (c. 2949-2897 BC), and Ninetjer (c. 2815-2778 BC). Uninscribed marbles have also been found in the tombs of these and other kings of the period. Other than this limited group of royalty, no other inscribed marbles are presently known to me (but that's not saying too much!). Note that the draughtsmen of other games (e.g., *senet*) are also rarely inscribed with the names of their owners (royal or otherwise). These incised Egyptian marbles probably were associated originally with*mehen*-boards in the burials. To my mind, though, there is almost certainly no connection between the Egyptian incised marbles and Dr. Smith's inscribed balls from Cyprus. (BTW, despite Dikaios' suggestion that these balls are gaming pieces, I am not convinced they are marbles for gaming. There is nothing to suggest that they could not, otherwise, have been used in some fashion as counting stones, for divination and sortilege, etc.). Whether or not the *mehen*-game was actually the inspiration for the Phaistos Disk of Crete or for stone slabs on Cyprus carved with patterns of coiling dots or for the Hyena Game of The Sudan is another more vexing question, and it is better kept for another discussion. Those interested should see S. Swiny, "Bronze Age Gaming Stones from Cyprus," REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTIQUITIESCYPRUS 5 (1980): 54-78 and Kendall's article in MEROITICA (cited above). However, because of chronological considerations--although I do not deny the possibility, I am far more cautious and hesitant than Swiny and Kendall in identifying such stones on Cyprus and games in the remotest backwaters of The Sudan specifically as *mehen* or as descendents of *mehen*. Peter Piccione
Here is some information about the ancient Egyptian Goddess Mehen: Mehen Patron of: defender of the Sun Boat Appearance: A serpent-headed man holding a spear, standing in the prow of the Sun Boat, or as a giant snake coiled around it. Description: In the Old Kingdom and in predynastic literature, Mehen, along with Set in his original form, fights Apep daily as the sun travels across the sky. Mehen wraps his coils around Apep, while Set strikes at Apep with a spear. Yes yes, darlings, I know - Mehen is referred to as a "serpent-headed man" in later ancient Egyptian references (all long past the Archaic Period) and the early 19th century adventurers who excavated Egypt just assumed that Mehen was a god. But think about it: (1) Mehen was paired with Set in his original form (Set was the original husband of the goddess Nepthys, sister of Isis). The Egyptians often paired their goddesses and gods together (think of the four pairs of gods and goddesses that make up the original Egyptian Ogdoad). (2) There were TWO GODDESSES on one of the sacred crowns of Egypt, signifying the uniting of the Two Lands (Upper and Lower Egypt): the Vulture Goddess and the Serpent Goddess who, together, guarded Pharaoh. Depictions of Mehen encircling the Sun God Re (Pharaoh incarnate) on the Royal Barque remind me of a fetus within a womb. I haven't done a study on the subject, but my guess is that the serpent-enclosed depictions of Pharaoh are older, and the depictions of Mehen as a serpent-headed male with a spear on the Royal Barque are much later interpretations of the ancient texts that New Kingdom Egyptians incorporated into tomb paintings of Re's journey through the "underworld", which those artists no longer perfectly understood.

Conserving Books: Not Just a Job

After long obscurity, it's prime time for China's "book doctors" 2009-02-20 16:27:07 by Xinhua writers Fu Shuangqi and Zuo Yuanfeng BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Du Weisheng calls himself a "book doctor." In a 35-year career, he's saved many old tomes that got drenched, were bitten by rats, became rotten in damp storage areasor began to fall apart because of their old age. China held its largest-ever exhibition of intangible cultural heritage items in Beijing over the past two weeks, and Du was there. While other craftsmen displayed beautiful stitchwork, paintings and silver jewellery, his booth showcased a worn, old book. Almost every visitor regarded the book skeptically. Could it be saved? The thread-bound antique volume had obviously gotten soaked a long time ago and never properly dried. Most of its leaves were stuck together and many were fragile and broken. "I can fix it," Du told visitors. He showed some of them to peel a fragile leaf from the book with a thin piece of bamboo. "I do not like to do it with so many people watching. It is a delicate job that requires concentration," he said. "But I do it here so that more people will return home with some knowledge of book repair." LIFETIME LABOR OF LOVE Du joined the rare book division of the National Library of China in 1974. In the years since then, he has helped restore the 161 volumes of the 600-year-old Yongle Encyclopedia, as well as manuscripts from Dunhuang written between the 5th and 11th centuries. Dunhuang, a famed cave on the Silk Road, was unearthed more than a century ago. It was found to contain tens of thousands of relics. "When I joined the library at the age of 22, I knew little about book repair, but I did love books. I spent lots of time in secondhand bookshops as a kid," he said. "My first idea when I got the job was that I could read books freely." He soon realized how wrong he was. "This job is a painstaking art. It requires no less concentration than that shown by a real surgeon," he said. "You won't have time to read the books before they are fully restored." For about three years, he learned from two older masters before repairing a book on his own. Actually, that kind of apprentice system was the traditional means of teaching book-repair techniques. "Now, universities teach book repair courses. That's good because students can learn the whole set of skills systematically," he said. "An apprentice will inherit both skills and flaws from his teacher, even a bias against other schools of repair techniques," Du said. "It's best to get systematic training in a school and then follow a master for further education." LUXURY FOR GOOD TIMES Book repair has a long history, but it's a low-profile profession. "It only receives attention when society is prosperous and there's extra money," he said. "People don't care about the condition of books when they're hungry." For years, book repair was a marginal division in libraries. And as new books got cheaper, there were fewer secondhand bookshops, which were major sources of book-repair work. But as Du honed his skills in the quiet library studio, out of the public eye, the world outside changed. The government and public became more aware that antique books were an important part of China's heritage and needed better preservation. In 2007, the country started a national project to preserve millions of ancient books. A state-level rare book restoration center was established in the National Library of China for protection and education. The center has held seven short-term training programs for book-repair staff of museums and libraries nationwide. Du taught some of the courses. "The training is free. We plan to train about 500 people," he said. The State Council, China's Cabinet, released a list of the first 2,392 books in the National Rare Ancient Book Directory last March, following a nationwide survey. NOT JUST A JOB But increasing attention also led to misused resources. "There are about 20 colleges nationwide that train book-repair staff. They usually take high school graduates and give them three-year courses. But there are not so many positions in libraries and museums," Du said. It would be better to provide postgraduate courses, he said. "Investment in education should be increased but the money should be spent on a limited number of people and give them quality training." First, he said, a person must love books instead of just wanting a job. "Unlike my generation, young people now have less affection for books in general, not [to] mention ancient books," he said. "You can't sit there eight hours a day, doing repetitive work, without a passion for books and knowledge of their content." But for those who really love the printed word, "this is the best time ever for this business," Du said. Editor: Zhang Xiang

New Discoveries at Luxor

Egyptian archaeologists uncover ancient statues in Luxor 2009-02-19 07:25:34 CAIRO, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian archaeologists on Wednesday uncovered a statue of pharaoh and a bust of the famous woman pharaoh Hatshepsut in the southern city of Luxor, the state MENA news agency reported. The three-meter Amenhotep statue was "dug out with only one damage in the nose and one in the teeth," said Moustafa el-Waziri, director of the archaeological mission, adding that more antiques would be unearthed in the future. Amenhotep III, or Amenophis III, was the ninth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. He ruled the country from 1411 B.C. to 1375 B.C. after his father Thutmose IV died. Hatshepsut, or Hatchepsut, generally regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs, was the fifth monarch of the eighteen dynasty which dates back to 15th century B.C. Being a woman, she wore a false beard to reinforce her authority while acting as the regent of her son, Thutmose III.

Eastern Zhou Horse/Chariot Burial

From Chariot and horse burial chamber excavated in Henan Source: CRI 02-19-2009 08:52 The excavation of some Eastern Zhou period tombs that had ancient chariots and horses buried underground has been completed, an official from Luoyang's cultural relics office told Dahe Daily on Tuesday. This is another latest uncover of ancient tombs following similar discoveries in surrounding areas in 2002. The excavation site contains 29 tombs, including two imperial wooden chariots and two dead horses. Field work for this excavation began in August 2008 and took archaeologists three months to finish. Many artifacts such as pottery, bronze weapons and jade were found despite the fact that most of the tombs had already been plundered by grave robbers. The horses, laying back to back in an orderly arrangement, were evidently killed before the burial. The two wooden chariots had rotted away, leaving only dusts. According to local archaeologists, this is also the first time a burial chamber with two horses and two chariots has been discovered in the Luoyang region. The chamber is located beneath a restaurant undergoing renovation. The restaurant, Luoyang Jujia, plans to encase the burial chamber in an underground culinary museum.

2009 Aeroflot

Standings after Round 4. I noted the chess femmes and a few Ms of interest :) Tournament A1 Standings After Round 4 (78 players): Rank Name Score Fed. M/F Rating TPR 1 GM Kurnosov, Igor 3.5 RUS M 2602 2927 19 GM So, Wesley 2.5 PHI M 2627 2639 52 IM Kosintseva, Tatiana 2.0 RUS F 2497 2614 65 IM Kosintseva, Nadezhda 1.5 RUS F 2486 2497 66 IM Robson, Ray 1.5 USA M 2455 2499 67 WGM Shen, Yang 1.5 CHN F 2448 2490 Tournament A2 Standings After Round 4 (84 players): Rank Name Flags Score Fed. M/F Rating TPR 1 GM Rakhmanov, Aleksandr 3.5 RUS M 2541 2785 6 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 3.0 USA M 2519 2614 8 WGM Romanko, Marina w 3.0 RUS F 2451 2727 25 GM Peng, Zhaoqin w 2.5 NED F 2461 2585 27 IM Krush, Irina w 2.5 USA F 2457 2502 32 Ju, Wenjun jw 2.5 CHN F 2392 2599 35 GM Ivanov, Alexander 2.0 USA M 2541 2431 48 WGM Munguntuul, Batkhuyag w 2.0 MGL F 2425 2471 49 IM Melia, Salome w 2.0 GEO F 2422 2508 64 WFM Gunina, Valentina w 1.5 RUS F 2400 2413 69 WIM Pourkashiyan, Atousa w 1.5 IRI F 2272 2350 80 WIM Kashlinskaya, Alina jw 1.0 RUS F 2302 2258 81 WIM Zhang, Xiaowen w 0.5 CHN F 2357 2139 82 WGM Gu, Xiaobing w 0.5 CHN F 2283 2108

Friday, February 20, 2009

Decorating...The Upstairs Bath

Some photos of the upstairs bathroom redo in progress. Okay, so I'm crazy undertaking all of these projects in the midst of the Second Coming of the Great Depression. The new toile shower curtain arrived yesterday; it's the "Antoinette" pattern that you can probably find by doing a search online. It's printed on a textured 100% cotton shower curtain in true black and creamy background - it's definitely not stark white, so now I can complete the rest of the decor; the goal is a sophisticated and yet comfortable black/white (cream) bathroom. I thought about taking "before" photos of the bath - too late! Darn! The old cheapo light fixture (it was basically a box that stuck out from the wall a good 9 inches with three half-light fixtures using those tiny base round "Hollywood" style bulbs) was taken down Monday and put out to the curb; it was gone Tuesday morning when I thought to pull out the digital camera and take a fare thee well snapshot. Oh well. The original shower curtain is still up, along with bits of the matching bordder along the ceiling line - also forgot to take photos of that before I started ripping it down! The original art work is in place. The mirror shot shows the new light fixture which throws off too much light! The electrician asked me for and installed three 60-watt bulbs which were blindingly bright in the small space. I later replaced them with three 40 watt bulbs, but they stick out too much below the line of the shades (I don't know if you can tell from the photo), and I am not used to so much brightness! I purchased some 40 watt appliance bulbs which are much shorter than a standard-size light bulb and are clear (so they will be transparent, hopefully), I will put them in tomorrow and retain the brightness, which is great for putting on make-up with these much older eyes. The third lamp in the old fixture had shorted out several years back, so the bath was lit by only two 25-watt bulbs. No wonder I couldn't see anything... Anyway, these photos give you an idea of what my 8 ft. long by 5 ft. wide bath upstairs (not including the tub width) is like. Pretty typical, I think. I will have to take a shot of the flooring - but not tonight, it's too yucky to contemplate tonight! So - the plan is to paint the walls medium tan, replace the artwork with black toned pieces and eventually redo the floor with black marble-look vinyl. I am also thinking about wallpaper or some decorative paint treatment once the walls are repainted. I am leaning toward a harlequin print wallpaper in black and tan on one or more walls, perhaps just on half-walls, or a varigated stripe in black and various shades of tan with a marbelized background... The dilemma is where to install such paper, if I go in that direction. Then - do I need a border if I decide to do only a half wall or two? What if I limit the wallpaper treatment to the little bit of wall that shows just above the shower, and on the opposite wall where the linen closet door is located? Oy, problems, problems... I also really like the idea of a lamp on the vanity - it's wide enough where water splash would probably not be a problem (since I do not have teenagers or children living in the house) - and I could shop for a tray to rest the base in to protect it from water splash-up. Then again, what kind of lamp would I get? And I'm considering several options regarding the overwhelming plate-glass mirror that takes up so much of the wall opposite the entrance. Framing it, perhaps? What about suspending a black wood-framed oval mirror by chains over the current mirror centered over the sink area? What about framing the current mirror into several different sections - perhaps a vaguely oriental motif? What about removing the current mirror altogether and going with the aforesaid black wood-framed oval mirror, flanked by two sconces on either side? Budget is, of course, always a consideration...

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola Darlings! Last night I was home late and so did not blog. It was a night out with a good friend - good drinks, an even better dinner, the excellent company of my friend and all the $$$ we spent went to supporting a locally family-owned establishment bar/restaurant called Kegel's that is time-worn around the edges but still serves dinner on crisp white tableclothes and wine is under $5 a glass. Oh - the food is uniformly excellent too. No nouvelle cuisine, just good German and American dishes presented on a modest two page menu in a no-nonsense manner. The dishes offered are all excellent. I usually get a filet mignon or the veal liver, Ann gets the German-style beef tips in gravy over thick homemade noodles. By the way, their baked potatoes are NEVER over-done. I've eaten at some high-brow restaurants where that was not the case. The prices have gone up a dollar here, and dollar there, since I've been visiting Kegel's the past 3-4 years, but the service has remained the same - relaxed, friendly and unassuming. It's the kind of place a woman alone can feel comfortable sitting at the bar to have a drink or two after work or spend some time alone, and not feel uncomfortable. All age groups visit Kegel's but the droopy drawers set who think they look cool (har!) don't hang out there, thank Goddess! Last night on our way out from dinner I was introduced to a fellow legal eagle who was sitting at the bar working a crossword puzzle. She had what I believe was a martini in the trademark-shaped glass, and what looked like dark beer in a stubby glass waiting on the side :) Now that's the south side of Milwaukee for ya! So, posting tonight, I'll see how long I last. I'm very tired; it is our busiest time at the office (through April 15) and Sunday night the critters in the attic reappeared with a vengence, waking me up at quarter to three in the morning; I finally gave up trying to get back to sleep upstairs where I could here every little scuff and scratch and, I fancied, even a few squeaks from time to time. Arrrggggghhhh! I finally removed to the recliner in the family room downstairs on the opposite end of the house from my upstairs bedroom. Suffice to say I didn't get much decent sleep. Monday night I slept in the guest room, but the mattress is hard, ouch! I need to get a better mattress pad for that bed - that will entail an extensive shopping trip to the local mall, I'm sure. Tuesday night I slept in my room, and I again heard the critters in the attic, so Wednesday night I moved back to the guest room. Last night I returned to my bedroom and it was a quiet night, thank goddess! I suppose until the excess mouse population has been disposed of through the unfortunate method of poison I will continue to experience these critter home invasions. Sigh. You can be sure bright and early Monday morning I was on the telephone with the critter people. We'll see if it's quiet tonight and the next few nights...
A storm is on the way later tonight, we may get as much as 6 inches of snow, starting at midnight. Blechy! I am SO over winter. Here it is February 20th, we've got probably another 4 to 6 weeks of winter and perhaps even April and May. I cannot wait to get on that jet and fly away to New York. It's generally mild there in May - at least milder there than here! That trip is coming up fast! I'll be on vacation from May 7 - May 26th, yippee!
Some items that you may find of interest - they may make you laugh, they may make you cry: Here's a good one - the Chinese scientists have caused an uncontrolled blizzard of man-made snow that closed 12 highways. So much for being able to control the weather, har! Melt-pools 'accelerating Arctic ice loss' One of those "duh" articles - it took them HOW long to figure this out??? I mean, geez, it's only been reported for the past twelve months or so that the polar ice caps are melting faster than anticipated by ANYONE, but they didn't know why! Oh come on guys, don't you cook? You can thaw a totally rock solid frozen steak by wrapping it in plastic to be water-tight and floating it in a tub of cold water for 30 minutes or so. Isn't this the same effect, basically? I don't know the science, I only know it works. You're the scientists - why did it take you so long to figure this out??? The Candidate's chess match between American hopeful GM Gata Kamsky (who used to play for Russia years ago when he was an underweight teenager) and Bulgarian hopeful GM Vesilin Topalov is taking place right now. Today game 3 was played, and Kamsky playing with the black pieces drew the game, coming back from a defeat behind the white pieces in game 2. The score now is Topalov 2/Kamsky 1. Game 4 proceeds tomorrow. I believe the match is 8 games - not much time for either player to achieve a dominating position, so look for some fireworks tomorrow at this half-way game. GM Susan Polgar has provided live commentary on all of the games; here is her commentary on game 3. Others are also providing live commentary and analysis of these games, but I prefer SP's analysis. I can follow along much better with the action than when I read other GMs' comments/analysis. I am NO expert, that's for sure - but SP's analysis is usually spot on, and she explains how the game is proceeding in a way I can grasp. Perhaps it comes from all of the teaching courses and videos she has put together over the years, to help kids (and the rest of us) learn how to play chess :) She's got the knack of informing without being obscure, and presenting potential lines of action without being overwhelming. I highly recommend reading SP's commentary on the games, and playing the moves out on a chessboard as you go along. I cannot do that at work, but she's so good at what she does I can sometimes "see" the chessboard in my head as I sneak a peek at the progress of the games, which totally amazes me! Life goes on, the world keeps spinning around the sun, and the sun won't blow up for another billion years or so, at which point I won't give a damn cuz I'll be dead in less than 100 years (barring a miracle, darlings). Why, then, does this article about a new "Atlas" of dead and dying languages make me so sad? A fascinating story I read earlier today at the Wall Street Journal. I know next to nothing about the world of art (as in paintings and sculpture), but I know what I like, and I like a lot of the "Old Masters" because their paintings at least are recognizable as people and things and animals and plants! LOL! So I'm a barbarian - but I do speak the Queen's English properly (for the most part). Anyway, darlings, when I spotted this person's phiz in the print edition of today's WSJ, my first thought was "My Goddess, that's a woman disguised as a man!" My second thought was "what happened to her face, ohmygoddess!" Well, it turns out that he is - or was - not a she. He was a he - Harold Smith, who fathered at least half a dozen children, so I guess I cannot build up a proper fantasy about a "man" taking a great secret to her grave :) It's still a fascinating story - about an art heist and the people who investigated it, including Harold Smith, an iconic figure in the world of art - one of the best experts ever on recovering stolen art, who tried to track down the perpetrators and recover the stolen art. Really good stuff. I will read this book: The Gardner Heist" (Ulrich Boser) review by Guy Darst 2/20/09. Sorry - no link, but there is that photo of Harold Smith... Harold Smith's face was disfigured by a decades-long battle against skin cancer. A lesson for all of us who think skin cancer is relegated to a mole or two that can be easily excised by a doctor's scalpel.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Windows to the Soul of a Woman

Fascinating... From By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent Last Updated: 6:43PM GMT 11 Feb 2009 Women's faces 'are windows to the soul' Women's faces really are the windows to the soul while men's are closed books, a new study suggests. Researchers found that volunteers could tell if women were lucky, religious or trustworthy, simply by looking at them. But studying men's faces gave no hint as to their character, the study found. The experiment was designed to test the theory that physical appearance can reveal essential truths about the person within. Scientists are torn as to whether certain traits can be linked to how someone looks. Some believe the expectations of society can make us act differently, for example encouraging blondes to be more dizzy. The researchers asked 1,000 people to send in photographs of themselves and fill in a detailed questionnaire about their personality and beliefs. The team then isolated those who described themselves as strongly in one camp or another on four key aspects of their character and conflated the photographs into composite faces. More than 6,500 people then logged on to a website to guess which set of faces were linked to which personality feature. The findings show that they were able to identify lucky women 70 per cent of the time. They were even more accurate about which women were religious, correct 73 per cent of the time. And although the score for identifying trustworthiness was lower, at 54 per cent, the researchers described it as "statistically significant". The only woman's face which they did not identify correctly was of those who thought of themselves as funny. However, men's faces do not reveal as much of their true character, the findings of the study, reported in New Scientist magazine, suggest. The volunteers did not guess any of the faces correctly, only identifying the lucky face 22 per cent of the time. Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, and Rob Jenkins, from Glasgow University, who carried out the study, said that there were a number of reasons for the results. "Perhaps female faces are simply more informative than male ones. "It could also be that the men who sent us their portraits were less insightful when rating their personalities or less honest. "Or perhaps the women were more thoughtful when selecting the photographs they submitted." Studies have previously shown that people thought of as good looking were also more likely to be considered outgoing, powerful, intelligent and healthy. Researchers have also found that people with wider faces are both more likely to be aggressive and to have higher levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, in their bodies. Although people can conform to behaving according to how they look, others can confound expectations, scientists warned. One study showed that baby-faced boys were more likely to be argumentative and aggressive and to grow up to be academic high achievers.

Russian 15 Year Old Becomes WGM

From Chessdom: I think they need to get a more current photograph of the young lady. Fifteeen does not look ten these days, darlings! Alina Kashlinskaya becomes WGM at 15! February 11, 2009 The Russian chess prodigy achieves her third norm at the Moscow Open Alina Kashlinskaya became WGM after achieving her last norm at the Moscow Open, informs the Russian website This is her second top record achievement in a row. In 2007 Kashlinskaya became Europe’s youngest Women International Master, now in 2009 she is already Europe's youngest WGM. The previous norms were achieved in August 2007 at a tournament in Croatia and in October 2008 at a tournament in the Ukraine.The Russian Chess Federation will send a request to FIDE’s next congress for the title of the chess prodigy. Read more.

Easter Island - More to the Story

From Science Daily: Easter Island’s Controversial Collapse: More To The Story Than Deforestation? ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2009) — Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has gained recognition in recent years due in part to a book that used it as a model for societal collapse from bad environmental practices—ringing alarm bells for those concerned about the health of the planet today. But that’s not the whole story, says Dr. Chris Stevenson, an archaeologist who has studied the island—famous for its massive stone statues—with a Rapa Nui scientist, Sonia Haoa, and Earthwatch volunteers for nearly 20 years. The ancient Rapanui people did abuse their environment, but they were also developing sustainable practices—innovating, experimenting, trying to adapt to a risky environment—and they would still be here in traditional form if it weren’t for the diseases introduced by European settlers in the 1800s. “Societies don’t just go into a tailspin and self-destruct,” says Stevenson, an archaeologist at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They can and do adapt, and they emerge in new ways. The key is to put more back into the system than is taken out.” While evidence suggests the Rapa Nui people cut down 6,000,000 trees in 300 years, for example, they were also developing new technological and agricultural practices along the way—such as fertilization techniques to restore the health of the soil and rock gardens to protect the plants. As a result, every rock on Easter Island has probably been moved three or four times, Stevenson said. “The story that Chris’s research team is piecing together on Easter Island with the help of Earthwatch volunteers—rock by rock, sample by sample—is one that offers us hope in the human spirit of innovation, and the power of people to change. What a timely lesson,” said Ed Wilson, President and CEO of Earthwatch. Other archaeological evidence indicates that the Rapanui people radically changed their societal structure from one dominated by chiefs to one that was much more egalitarian in nature, too, which effectively leveled out their consumption patterns.“That was the big adjustment that gets the population back to being more or less sustainable,” Stevenson says. “It was like telling today’s corporate head that the company can’t afford the million-dollar remodel of his office,” Stevenson says. “But it didn’t matter because BANG, the Europeans arrive with their dirty diseases”: the final nail in the coffin, he said.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Helen of Troy

Interesting information from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" about Helen of Troy: Incarnation of the Virgin Moon-goddess, daughter of Queen Hecuba, or Hecate, who embodied the Crone. Helen was also called Helle or Selene. She was worshipped as an orgiastic deity at the Spartan festival Helenphoria, featuring sexual symbols carried in a special fetish-basket, the helene.(1). Trojan Helen married Menelaus, "Moon-king," who was promised immortality because he made a sacred marriage.(2) However, Helen left him and went home with her new Trojan lover Paris, so Menelaus lost both his immortality and the Trojan fiefs that Helen's "matrimony" brought. He sailed with his armies to get her back, and this was the start of the legendary Trojan War which pitted patriarchal Greeks against matriarchal Trojans.(3) [It was all about the money, darlings! Menelaus didn't give a rat's butt about Helen.] As Elen, Elaine, or Hel-Aine, the same Moon-virgin became the queen of pagan Britain, a "Lily Maid" who made the first alliances with emperors of Rome. (See Elaine.) The oldest British histories said the first British king was a Trojan named Brutus, Helen's relative.(4) After Troy fell, he sailed west to the island of Albion [probably meaning "white island", named for the white chalk cliffs of Dover] and founded a city, New Troy, later renamed Lugdunum (London) after his descendant, the god Lug.(5) Notes: (1) Graves, G.M. 1, 208-9. (2) Knight, S.L., 125. (3) Graves, G.M. 2, 276. (4) Briffault 3, 431. (5) Guerber, L.M.A., 309. Related is Helice: "Willow," a title of Hecate in her virgin form as the new moon and the Helicon or "willow-stream" surrounding the Mountain of the Muses. Like Artemis, Helice the Willow-maid was associated with both the moon and Ursa Major, eternally circling the pole, known as Helice's Axle.(1) Witches thought a willow wand a microcosmic axis mundi. See Willow. Notes: (1) Lindsay, O.A., 251. Following the lead: Willow Water and willows represented the Goddess Helice, "Willow," virgin form of Hecate with her willow-witye grain-basket.(1) Willow wants invoked the Muses, whose mountain was encircled by the Helicon, "Willow-stream." The Dionysian thyrsus, like the later withche's wand, was willow. As Dionysus was once a major god of Jerusalem, the willow figured prominently in municipal ceremonies there. A "Great Day" of the Feast of Tabernacles was known as the Day of Willows, with rites honoring fire and water.(2) Willow wands gave protectin in the underworld, where Orpheus carried one to show the way.(3) Willow wands were sacred to the Moon-goddess as late as the 17th century A.D., when an English herbal said the moon owns the willow. Witches used willow bark to treat rheumatism and fevers; i9t was the source of salicylic acid (aspirin), one of Hecate's cures. Some said wicca or "witchcraft" evolved from a word meaning willow, cognate with "wicher" (willow-withe weaving). Magic cats were supposed to grow from pussy-willows or "catkins," to become witches' malkins (familiars): hence the saying that all cats were gray in the beginning. The catkins were harbingers of spring, appearing on the willow as graymalkins. (See Cat.) Winding up for tonight, Elaine: (Var. Elen, Hel-Aine, Eileen) Britain's "Lily Maid," the virgin Moon-goddess bearing the same name as Helen of Troy; British tradition claimed the ilsand were colonized by Trojans. According to the bards, the Roman emperor acquired Britain only by marrying its queen, Elen. The people agreed to help build Roman roads because she ordered them, and the roads were called Roads of Elen of the Hosts: "The men of the Island of Britain would not have made those great hostings for any save for her."(1) Elen or Elaine became the mother-bride of Lancelot-Galahad in Arthurian romance. Lancelot the father begot on her his own reincarnation, Galahad the son [I believe this is just a retelling of the ancient legend of Seraimis, the Queen of the original city of Babylon, married to Nimrod, the first king and builder of cities according to the Bible]; but Lancelot in his youth had been named Galahad, and his mother was Queen Elaine. The Lily Maid gave Lancelot her sexual-symbolic charm to make him invicible: her pearl-bedewed sleeve of red silk. The womb-symbol of the Holy Grail was displayed in her castle, tendered by her dove-soul, Colombe. Galahad saw this vision again in his last moments, as he expired at the altar in ancient sacred-king style.(2) Notes: (1) Mabinogion, 85. (2) Malory 1, 377; 2, 268.
The Lily and the Dove can be traced back to the ancient Middle East, and probably more specifically, to ancient Egypt. Both symbols figure prominently in the pages of the Bible, which borrowed much imagery (and prayers/paeons) from the Egyptians. The lily is most likely the Egyptian lotus (also prominent in Indian iconography), embodied in later versions of iconic art such as the fleur-de-lis and trefoil, which came to represent the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity of Father-Son-Holy Spirit or Sophia (representing the hidden female aspect of creation - the fathers of the church did not want to give it a name or a sex, but everyone knew it was Sophia and, in later years, the Virgin Mary, the "Holy Mother of God.")

2009 Aeroflot

Ladies' Standings After Round 1: Tournament A1: 58 IM Kosintseva, Tatiana w 0.5 RUS F 59IM Kosintseva, Nadezhdaw0.5RUS F 78 WGM Shen, Yang w 0.0 CHN F Tournament A2: 15 GM Peng, Zhaoqin w 1.0 NED F 21 Ju, Wenjun w 1.0 CHN F 41 IM Krush, Irina w 0.5 USA F 43 WGM Romanko, Marina w 0.5 RUS F 49 IM Melia, Salome w 0.5 GEO F 56 WIM Zhang, Xiaowen w 0.5 CHN F 59 WIM Kashlinskaya, Alina w 0.5 RUS F 60 WIM Pourkashiyan, Atousa w 0.5 IRI F 71 WGM Munguntuul, Batkhuyag w 0.0 MGL F 76 WFM Gunina, Valentina w 0.0 RUS F 84 WGM Gu, Xiaobing w 0.0 CHN F

The Art of Chess

A new exhibition in Iceland. Here is a press release - I found it at The Week in Chess: 32 Pieces: The Art Of Chess PRESS RELEASE by Larry List Artists of all eras and cultures have been interested in chess, "the Royal Game" of rulers, soldiers, prisoners, and exiles. From the early 20th century to the present this interest has paralleled major social (re)evolutions, with artists increasingly using chess imagery and ideas in their art. During such times, chess has provided a universally acknowledged societal model in miniature, that artists re-design based on patterns of love, war, and play. Sigmund Freud viewed chess as parallel to psychoanalysis - a mapping of the mind - while French-born Marcel Duchamp saw chess as art. In 1944, art theorist Andre Breton insisted that "...what must be changed is the game, itself, not the pieces." The Fluxus artists of the 1960’s made a grand game of- making-the-game and transformed chess into a sensory questioning of identities. In this exhibition, prominent contemporary artists Fryer, Kruger and Turk push the boundaries of interactivity while Kusama, Tunga, Clegg, the Chapman brothers and Cattelan explore mental states, real or imagined. Emin and Ronay transmute chess courtship rituals into heated intimacies and through serious or nonsensical creative play Mackie, Hirst, Whiteread, Friedman and McCarthy each reconstruct a new identity based on the game via the deconstruction of a chosen environment. Marcel Proust once explained that what is needed is not a new landscape, but, rather, a new vision. These leading contemporary artists offer new viewpoints from which to reconsider the creative social landscape through chess, while the timeless conceptual landscape of "the Royal Game" stands ever-ready to lend itself to future visions. The exhibition is co-curated by Larry List, Mark Sanders and Julia Royse for the Reykjavik Art Museum in Iceland (24 January - 12 April 2009) Catalogue will be available from the end of February 09. More details and some images at: and a lengthier version of the press release at: Art of Chess Press Release

China Tries to Stop Auction

From People's Daily Online Chinese lawyers try to stop Christie's sale of stolen relics 21:48, February 10, 2009 A team of 81 Chinese lawyers has written to auction giant Christie's in an effort to stop the sale of two bronze relics, which were looted from an old Beijing palace. The two artifacts, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze rabbit and rat head sculptures, will be auctioned by Christie's in Paris from Feb. 23 to 25. They were expected to fetch 8 million to 10 million euros (about 10.4 to 13 million U.S. dollars) each. "We've sent a letter to Christie's representative in China through e-mail," Liu Yang, one of the lawyers working on the case, told Xinhua. The letter will also be sent to Christie's headquarters by a liaison person in France, he said. Liu said they hope Christie's could give a second thought to the sale of the Chinese relics, withdraw them from the auction and persuade the owner of the stolen artifacts to return them to China. The two bronze head sculptures were housed in Yuanmingyuan, Beijing's Imperial Summer Palace. They were stolen when the palace was burnt down by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860. The rabbit and rat head sculptures currently belong to the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and were put up for auction by Pierre Berge. Liu said his team had also sent a letter to Pierre Berge, asking him not to auction the relics and return them to China. He said his team would sue Pierre Berge if there were no "positive feedback from them (Pierre Berge and Christie's) within a reasonable period". Christie's would be involved in the lawsuit as the third party. But he declined to say how long his team would wait for the "positive feedback". Christie's Public Relations Officer in China Chen Yan confirmed that the company's Beijing office had received the letter. Chen said the sale of all the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge collection will go for charity. All the articles, including the two Yuanmingyuan bronze sculptures, have legal documents showing that they are possessed by their keepers legally, she said. "Therefore, the auction will go on as scheduled," she said in an e-mail to Xinhua. Chen said Christie's understands that the auction of the two bronze sculptures is "sensitive" in China and hopes to work with other parties to find a "satisfactory" solution. China and France signed the 1995 Unidroit Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, which stipulated that any cultural object looted or lost because of reasons of war should be returned without any limitation of time span. Liu refuted Chen's comments and said Pierre Berge does not have legal ownership of the two sculptures. He said according to the principle of the Civil Law System, the right of the owner of an article will not exceed the right of the article's previous owner. "The fact that the sculptures were stolen from China and illegally possessed by some people previously, means that the ownership of their current keeper is not legal," he said. Christie's carried a detailed introduction of the two bronzes on its website, saying that the two formed part of the zodiacal clepsydra that decorated the Calm Sea Pavilion in the Old Summer Palace of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). "Constructed between 1756 and 1759 under the supervision of the famous Jesuit priest Giuseppe Castiglione, the heads are characterized by a distinctly western style," Mathilde Courteault, head of the company's Asian Department, was quoted by the website as saying. "The clepsydra comprised the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac each of which, in their turn, spouted water to mark the various hours of the day with the exception of midday, when this elaborate hydraulic mechanism triggered all of the animals simultaneously," Courteault said. Early reports said Liu and his team had had trouble finding an appropriate plaintiff to sue Christie and channeling enough money for the lawsuit. But Liu said those problems were gone as the Global Aixinjueluo Family Clan, a civil society registered in Hong Kong, has agreed to be the plaintiff. Aixinjueluo is the clan name of the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. A company in Shenzhen in south China agreed to donate 400,000 yuan (58,823 U.S. dollars) to the lawyers to cover the legal cost, Liu said. He declined to release the company's name and said his team still need to sign an agreement with the company before they get the money. The action of the lawyers has gained support from many Chinese netizens, who are furious about the auction. Many netizens pasted comments on the forum of, saying that "looted relics must be returned to China for free." China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) said earlier that Christie's auction of the two stolen relics is unacceptable and China will not try to buy them back. Song Xinchao, director of the museum department with the SACH, said the best way to deal with the issue was to ignore it, because some business people might use the patriotism of the Chinese people to raise bidding prices for monetary gain. The American auction house Sotheby's tried to put a bronze horse head for auction in 2007. But Macao billionaire Stanley Ho bought the relic at a price of 69.1 million Hong Kong dollars (about 9 million U.S. dollars) before the auction and donated it to the Chinese government. China's Special Fund for Rescuing Lost Cultural Relics from overseas had negotiated with the keeper of the two relics in 2003 and 2004, but were deterred by an asking price of 10 million U.S. dollars for each artifact. So far, five of the 12 bronze animal heads have already been returned to China, while the whereabouts of five others is unknown. Source:Xinhua

Monday, February 16, 2009

Antiquities Theft in the U.K.

Thieves still find it more lucrative to plunder archaeological sites - and they steal everyone's heritage by so doing. Article from the Nighthawks hitting historic UK sites By Chris Greenwood, Press Association Monday, 16 February 2009 Britain's archaeological heritage is being plundered by illegal metal detector users who face little danger of being caught, a report said today. The first comprehensive national survey of its kind revealed thieves armed with state-of-the-art equipment are raiding some of the nation's most sensitive heritage sites. Researchers found knowledgeable criminals, dubbed nighthawks, are using auction websites such as eBay to cash in on what was once an illicit hobby. Police said some thieves have formed loosely-connected networks who trade information, often in online forums, about new and vulnerable sites. One senior Kent officer said there have been cases of farmers being threatened after confronting groups of men trespassing on their land at night. English Heritage, who commissioned the study, said many stolen items are worth very little, but their valuable historical context is lost for ever. But although the threat of nighthawking remains high, experts said the chances of prosecution remain at an all time low and penalties are "woefully insufficient". Sir Barry Cunliffe, English Heritage chairman, called for better guidance for police and a national database to accurately portray the extent of the problem. He said: "Responsible metal detecting provides a valuable record of history, but illegal activities bring responsible ones into disrepute. "Nighthawkers, by hoarding the finds or selling them on without recording or provenance, are thieves of valuable archaeological knowledge that belongs to us all. "Even in the case when the finds are retrieved, the context of how and where exactly the finds were found has been lost, significantly diminishing their historical value. "In the cases of internationally important material the loss of the unique evidence that these objects provide on our common history and origins is especially poignant. "By painting a clearer picture of the crime, this survey will help us to combat it more effectively." Nighthawking is the search and removal of antiquities from the ground using metal detectors without the permission of landowners or where the practice is banned. The problem emerged in the early 1970s as metal detecting first became a popular hobby and has become increasingly prevalent. English Heritage said 240 police reports of raids between 1995 and 2008 are likely to be just a fraction of the true scale of the under-reported crime. The study found only one in seven landowners who discovered they had been targeted by illegal metal detector users informed the authorities. Rural counties such as Norfolk (23), Essex (14), Oxfordshire (13), Suffolk (12), Lincolnshire and Kent (both 11) recorded the highest number of sites hit by nighthawking. Researchers also found about one in every 20 archaeological excavation sites are targeted by thieves. Roman sites often serve as a honeypot for thieves and can be targeted repeatedly, particularly after the land has been ploughed. More than a third of sites attacked by illegal metal detectorists (88) were scheduled monuments, key sites of historical interest. Only 26 cases resulted in legal action, with most offenders handed a small fine which in one case was just £38. Dr Pete Wilson, head of roman archaeology at English Heritage, said better guidance is required for police and prosecutors. He said this should outline the best ways of collecting evidence and lead to more successful prosecutions. Dr Wilson said antiquities sellers should be forced by law to prove the provenance of their goods and called on auction websites to monitor items put up for sale more closely.

2009 Aeroflot

Here is a list of the chess femmes participating in this year's gigantic, humungous Aeroflot Tournament (hope I got them all): IM Tatiana Kotsinseva (RUS 2497) Tournamet A-1 IM Nadedhza Kotsinseva (RUS 2486) Tournament A-1 WGM Shen Yang (CHN 2448) Tournament A-1 WIM Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS 2303) Tournament A-2 IM Irina Krush (USA 2457) Tournament A-2 IM Salome Melia (GEO 2422) Tournament A-2 WGM Bathuyag Montonguul (MGL 2425) Tournament A-2 WGM Marina Maranko (RUS 2451) Tournament A-2 GM Peng Zhaoquin (NED 2461) Tournament A-2 WGM Marina Romanko (RUS 2451) Tournament A-2 WIM Zhang Xiaowen (CHN 2357) Tournament A-2 There are also B and C Sections - too tired tonight to scroll through and try and pick out the chess femmes!

The Dolcinists: Condemned Greed, Gave Equal Rights to Women

My my, no wonder they were hunted to extinction by the early Roman Catholic Church! Just read about all of their horrible "sins!" Here is some interesting information on this sect from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Enclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Dolcinists Medieval heretics formerly called the Apostolic Congregation, founded by a peasant named Segarelli, who tried to join the Franciscan order and was rejected. Believing himself nevertheless a true spiritual son of St. Francis, he gathered disciples and preached against the worldly wealth of the church. He was caught and burned, but the Congregation continued under Fra Dolcino, who preached the oncoming doomsday, the fall of the sinful church, and the triumph of the poor and simple over the theocracy. Dolcinists admitted women to their ranks, and granted their "sisters in Christ" the same right to preach and lead prayers as the men, one of the worst manifestations of their heresy. Dolcinists claimed to renounce sexual relations; so when Dolcino's particular "dearly beloved sister in Christ" Margherita di Trank bore him a child, it ws brought about through the miraculous agency of the Holy Ghost, they said. The Inquisition harassed the Dolcinists until they took refuge in the high mountains. Three crusades were preached against them. In the winter of 1307 they were finally reduced to starvation, trapped, and slaughtered. Dolcino was captured alive, unfortunaely for him. After watching his Margherita burn, he was torn to pieces by red-hot pincers on a cart rolling slowly along the roads for all to watch. Despite this edifying example, Dolcinism persisted for another century. Two Dolcinist Apostles were captured and burned in Germany in 1404.(1) Notes: (1) Lea unabridged, 614-23.

Susan Polgar National Open for Girls

The results are in for the 2009 Susan Polgar National Open for Girls. Here are the qualifiers for the SP National Invitational for Girls to be held at Texas Tech University (July 26-31) in Lubbock, Texas:
  • Diamond Shakoor (OH) scored a perfect 7-0 to win the SPNO Primary Section, a Dell Laptop, a Digital Clock.
  • Rebekah Liu (CA) scored a perfect 7-0 to win the SPNO High School Section, a Dell Laptop and a Digital Clock.
  • Sayaka Foley (AZ) scored 6 points to win the SPNO Girls Middle School Section and a Toshiba Laptop.
  • Kristen Sarna (TX) tied for 1st in the SPNO Elementary Section with Aiya Cancio (AZ)(in group photo). Kristen won the coin toss in the 5 minute Blitz Playoff for the Dell Laptop. She chose black and won the game. (Both girls qualify for the SP National Invitational for Girls).

In addition, Rebekah Liu and Sayaka Foley are the winners of the scholarships to Texas Tech University (each value at $36,000).

Congratulations to the winners/qualifiers of the 2009 Susan Polgar National Open for Girls. I am very happy to see so many girls playing chess and loving it!

Thanks to Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University-Kingsville for the scholarships! Thanks to sponsors Chess Emporium and the City of Peoria, Arizona! Thanks to the Susan Polgar Foundation for once again putting a wonderful event together. May it be even bigger and better next year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bad Moon Over North Korea

See my comments in earlier post today about state-controlled media. North Korea is another example, besides Russia. Yeah, I know what that ring is around the moon over Korea - it's called scummy toilet moon. From Yahoo News Mysterious halo heralds Kim's birthday in North Korea By Jon Herskovitz Jon Herskovitz – Sun Feb 15, 4:53 am ET SEOUL (Reuters) – The moon over hermit North Korea gave off a mysterious glow and citizens pledged undying loyalty to leader Kim Jong-il ahead of his birthday. The rest of the world is wondering whether the head of Asia's only communist dynasty might be ready to mark his 67th year by testing its longest-range missile that could, in theory, carry a warhead as far as the United States. On top of that, Kim's health problems have set off fresh speculation over who might succeed him as leader of one of the world's most isolated and impoverished states, whose efforts to become a nuclear weapons power mean it is never far from the international community's list of major concerns. Deified at home as the "Dear Leader," and vilified elsewhere as a dangerous tyrant, Kim celebrates his birthday on Monday, labeled by North Korean state media as "the most auspicious day of the nation." By some accounts, he may be fortunate to have made it this far after suffering a suspected stroke in August. [Are we really sure it's him - it could be a body double, like Saddam Hussein had body doubles - only Kim's is controlled by the North Korean military establishment]. Kim, who took power after his father and state founder Kim Il-sung died in 1994, has vexed the world for years with his nuclear arms program and the constant threat of sending his one million-strong army across the border that has divided the Korean peninsula for over half a century and into the South. He has also led his country deeper into poverty and, in the late 1990s, a famine estimated to have killed about 1 million of the then 22 million population. The reclusive Kim has relied heavily on military threats, with some success, to squeeze concessions from regional powers to help keep his ravaged economy afloat. In recent weeks, the level of angry rhetoric has increased sharply, including a threat to destroy the wealthy South in anger at the hardline policies of its President Lee Myung-bak. The saber-rattling has been accompanied by reports that the North is readying a test-launch of its Taepodong-2 missile, which failed in its first and only test in 2006 but is thought to have the potential to go as far as Alaska. GETTING NOTICED Many analysts say Pyongyang's motivation in raising tension is to grab the attention of new U.S. President Barack Obama and ensure it is high on Hillary Clinton's agenda when she flies to Asia this week for her first trip abroad as secretary of state. On Friday, Clinton offered North Korea a peace treaty, normal ties and aid if it eliminated its nuclear arms program. There has been no response yet from Pyongyang. [Good move, Clinton - calling the Tin Man's bluff. Of course, we know what the eventual response will be.] North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, does not have the technology to make a nuclear warhead for missiles, experts have said, but it can threaten South Korea and Japan with a proven arsenal of short-range and ballistic missiles. In North Korea, the birthday means festivals with singing soldiers, dancing in the street, a few extra handfuls of rice for workers and sweets for children. State media is relentless in its praise of Kim and his achievements. A few days ago above Mt. Jong-il "an unprecedented phenomenon of moon halo was observed," the North's KCNA news agency said. "The surroundings of the peak became as bright as daytime to make the night view above Kim Jong-il's birthplace in the Paektusan Secret Camp brilliant." It is not unusual for Kim to miss the public birthday celebrations. But his absence in the past year from events he usually attends raised concern about his health, his grip on power and who might be making decisions about the North's nuclear arms programs. Kim appears to have recovered although his trademark paunch presses less clearly on his mud-grey jumpsuits, the hair has thinned in his bouffant and he appears to have given up wearing platform shoes -- with speculation in the South that, post-stroke, these are harder for him to balance in. (Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Dean Yates)

Supporting Local Chess: Announcements

MICHIGAN Chess — A free chess club meets from 6-8 p.m. at Howelling Coffee, 120 W. M-59, Howell. Chess coach Matthew Trujillo, reigning Class E tournament champion, will be on hand to help players to refine skills. All ages are welcome. Bring your own speed chess clock. For details, call (517) 552-5501 or e-mail Michael@ CALIFORNIA Santa Clarita Valley Signal, CA New class at the Senior Center Will be held at the SCV Senior Center, 22900 Market Street in room A1. The Chess Club will meet from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m Fridays. Pleasanton, CA Chess ClubResidents are trying to start a Pleasanton Chess Club, primarily for kids. Anyone interested can email Please provide email address, name, phone number and USCF rating, if any. GEORGIA Savannah, GA Savannah Association for the BlindThe organization is looking for volunteers to help at the agency, located at 214 Drayton St., as well as in the homes of some of the group's clients. Some activities volunteers participate in include manning the Talking Books Library, bowling with clients, playing chess and other board games, writing grant proposals for the agency, grocery shopping, assisting with writing and paying bills and more. Call 232-6048.

Susan Polgar's Texas Column

From Polgar: Battle of the Gender matches between chess champs Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Sunday, February 15, 2009 Story last updated at 2/15/2009 - 1:47 am The question of the week is has there ever been a chess match between World Chess Champions of opposite gender, something similar to the Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King tennis match back in the '70s? The answer is yes.

Lost and Found Treasure at the Met

Friday, February 13, 2009 Lost and found treasure at the Met 3,300-year-old artifacts on display at renowned museum. By: Steve Humeniuk Issue date: 2/9/09 Section: Features (Image: From the Met Exhibit - Nude female figure Uluburun shipwreck Late Bronze Age, ca. 1300 B.C.Bronze, gold; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.4 cm); Max. W. 2 3/8 in. (6.1 cm) Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Turkey, 52.7.95 (KW 3680) One of the most valuable objects on board the Uluburun ship, this youthful female figure was cast in bronze using the lost-wax method and embellished with gold overlay. A tenon at the feet would have affixed it to a base (now lost). The gold collar highlights her elite status, while her nudity and gestures suggest her divinity—her clenched fist is ready to hold a scepter and the left palm is open in an act of blessing. Perhaps she represents the Canaanite goddess Asherah, a protectress of sailors, kept on board to guard against the very fate that befell the ship, its crew, passengers, and rich cargo.) Texas A&M University's Institute of Nautical Archaeology was awarded the distinction of having artifacts on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. According to Associate Professor of Anthropology Cemal Pulak, the artifacts are dated circa 1300 B.C. and are some of the oldest known artifacts discovered from a seafaring vessel. Pulak and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Nautical Archaeology George Bass began recovering the artifacts from a sunken sea vessel off the coast of Turkey in 1983. After more than a year of excavating, Pulak took over the project and recorded every fragment of archaeological evidence until the excavation was completed in 1994. "I started the excavation and started the first few phases and then turned it over to Cemal," Bass said. The artifacts are included in an exhibit "Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C." The artifacts came from a wreck, the Uluburun promitory, where 20 tons of raw materials and artifacts were found. "The Uluburun shipwreck is part of the Late Bronze Age," Pulak said. "It is one of the wealthiest [shipwrecks] ever found." Ten tons of copper ingots and one ton of tin ingots were recovered. These metals had a special significance to the Bronze Age. "An ingot is a way of pouring metal to be shipped," Bass said. "They had the perfect ratio for forming bronze." The potential of the metals found on the ship to be melted into bronze is what makes the Uluburun shipwreck important to the study of the Bronze Age. Bass said they had enough raw metals on the ship to conceivably fuel an army. Other valuable discoveries included the oldest book ever discovered, the only gold scarab ever recovered in honor of Egypt's famous Queen Nefertiti, the largest collection of Canaanite jewelry and the earliest dated collection of glass ingots. "What made it unique is that they had items from all over the world at the time," said Keith Randall, associate director of communications and marketing. Evidence of this is not only found in the wide array of raw materials that were recovered, Bass said. Also in the hippopotamus teeth, ostrich egg shells and elephant tusk that were excavated from the site - reinforcing the belief that items from the wreck originated in places like Africa, Syria, Cyprus, Greece and northern Europe. "The ship originated from somewhere in the East Mediterranean," Pulak said. "It shows the nature of the trade at the time." With more than 100 items on display, the artifacts of the Uluburun wreck are the most prominent items in the exhibit. Pulak said archeological pieces from different sites are also on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to portray parts of the middle and late phases of the Bronze Age. "To be able to have objects of your research displayed at the Metropolitan Museum is a great thing because it is one of the most prominent museums in the world," Pulak said. Bass said A&M graduate students conducted the majority of the excavation. "I think that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's greatest museums, and to have our artifacts on display is a tremendous achievement for both A&M and the Institute for Nautical Archaeology," Bass said. Bass founded the Institute for Nautical Archaeology in 1973 before becoming affiliated with A&M in 1976. "He's kind-of a legend at A&M," Randall said. "And he's kind-of a legend in the underwater excavation world." Pulak credits Bass as the "Father of Underwater Archaeology." "In 1960, Bass was the first person to excavate a shipwreck as per underwater excavation standards," he said. The Institute for Nautical Archaeology is a nonprofit organization that focuses on research and excavation. Pulak said the organization donates recovered artifacts to the countries where the pieces are found. The artifacts are on display with permission from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Bodrum, Turkey. "Our philosophy is to acquire information," Pulak said. "All artifacts belong to the world. In a way, it is a gift to mankind and humankind in general, and the information is then published and available to the world."

Egyptian Treasures on Display

From Columbus Local News Art museum takes wraps off ancient Egyptian 'treasures' * Demetrios the mummy highlights the collection of artifacts on display at the Columbus Museum of Art this weekend through June 7. By EILEEN RYAN Published: Monday, February 9, 2009 9:17 AM EST (Image from Columbus Museum of Art Exhibition Gallery: Queen Neferu having her hair done) Ancient Egyptians who sought to defeat death by surrounding themselves with objects to protect them in the next world could hardly have imagined what form their immortality would take in this one. They'll live on at the Columbus Museum of Art's exhibit "To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum," which opens Saturday, Feb. 14. The exhibition includes objects that range in date from 3500 B.C. to A.D. 100. It includes stone and wood sarcophagi, amulets, stone sculpture and statues, canopic jars that were used to store the body's major organs, two dog mummies and a human mummy named Demetrios. Along with his mummy is a portrait of Demetrios, allowing visitors to see how he looked when he was alive. "It's really quite impressive to have this mummy who's named," said Dominique Vasseur, the museum's curator of European art. Preservation of names was important, as well as preservation of bodies, because of the spells that protected ancient Egyptians in the afterlife, he said. "Your name was important, and the fact that we know the names of these particular coffins -- there is the idea that they are alive, at least in our minds." The exhibition "is really about the afterlife and the tomb and the procedures and processes an Egyptian would go through to guarantee life in the afterlife," Vasseur said. "To Live Forever" is divided into four sections that will show visitors Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, including papyrus fragments of the Book of the Dead; the mummy; the tomb and the objects that were placed in it; and how those objects would have differed from the tomb of a wealthy Egyptian to that of a one who wasn't wealthy. The painted wooden sarcophagi may be the most fascinating items in the exhibit, Vasseur said, "just in their scale and in all the visual information that is painted on them." Children, especially, are going to be amazed by the mummy itself, he said. "It's not too often you actually have a person and you know they're in there." "To Live Forever" gives Central Ohio residents a rare opportunity to experience such a fine collection of Egyptian art, Vasseur said. "Egyptian culture fascinates us because, in one respect, it seems so understandable," Vasseur said, though it is essentially an extinct culture. "It had a formative nature on subsequent cultures. A lot of underpinnings of our own world and belief system came out of Egypt." Residents can fuel their undying fascination with ancient Egypt until the exhibit closes June 7. Admission to the exhibit is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 60 and older and students 18 and older; $5 for children ages 6-17; and free for museum members and children 5 and younger. For more information, call 614-221-4848 or visit the Web site

Treasurer Trove! Indian Coins Discovered - and Sold

Contrast this story with the previous post about the discovery of Roman coins near Exeter, England. If India had a law in place similar to England's to encourage people to turn over finds to local archaeological authorities with the promise of recompense and recognition, more of its heritage might be preserved instead of sold illegally. What a shame - it is probable none of the coins dug up by these villagers will ever be recovered. More history lost forever. From The Times of India Villagers unearth ancient coins 15 Feb 2009, 1437 hrs IST, PTI NOGARPARA: Villagers in a remote area along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya have unearthed ancient coins and clay wares while digging a pond. The articles were found at Nogarpara village near Mahendraganj, about 60 km from the West Garo Hills district headquarters of Tura. Villagers said that over 100 metal coins, bricks and several wares made of clay were found when they were digging a pond few weeks back. However, the villagers have sold most of the coins at around Rs 25,00 each to 'merchants' of Bangladesh and Assam. "I got a handful of coins. I sold all but one," C Marak, one of the villagers, said. While some of the clay wares still lay scattered in the digging site, district administration officials, who were informed of the matter, have visited the site for verification. The coins bore inscriptions written in Arabic, and district administration officials say they could be from the Mughal era. The deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills F R Kharkongar has asked the Achik Tourism Society, an NGO, to investigate the incident and submit a report.

Treasure Trove! Rare Roman Coins

From Rare Roman coins a 'find of a lifetime' Thursday, February 12, 2009, 09:29 A METAL detector who dug up an invaluable hoard of Roman coins in a South Devon field has been told: "You can't keep them." The 243 coins were thought to have been stashed away by Roman Britons more than 1,500 years ago just as the Empire was on the verge of collapse. Newton Abbot metal detector enthusiast Geoff Fox, 38, and his friend Shaun Pitts discovered the haul of copper coins in woodland in Denbury and then took them to Exeter Museum on the bus. The find is thought to be the life savings of a family who may have lived in Roman Exeter and hid their wealth miles away. But at a treasure trove inquest, coroner Ian Arrow said the find, which is thought to have little monetary value, is so historically significant that it should go to a museum. Geoff said after the hearing: "I picked up a signal and started digging. I realised it was a Roman coin and I saw the emperor's head. "I thought it was Constantine but it turned out to be Valentinian." Then the metal detector was picking up signals everywhere. "I found a Roman family's life savings and I was the first person to touch them since they were buried," said Geoff. The pair took 'three hours solid' to dig out the coins which were buried from between three inches to a foot in rough ground. He said: "It is something magical to touch history and to link directly with our ancestors. "It was a find of a lifetime." The coins have been analysed by leading Roman coin exert Sam Woodhead, of the British Museum. They were minted throughout the empire in France, Germany, Rome and Turkey. Danielle Wooton, Devon archeological finds officer, told the inquest: "There was a lot going on at the time these coins were hidden. The Empire was falling apart. "The coins are a really late date and because of the find is very interesting. We think that the nearest Roman settlement was at Exeter and they would have been hidden where no one would find them. "It is only because a metal detector has found them and recorded them in this way that we know and it is this type of record that is changing the way we think about archaeology in South Devon." The find is likely to be acquired by Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum, currently undergoing major improvements works. But it is unclear whether the coins will go on display. The rare coins date from AD 330 to 378, while Emperor Constantine to Emperor Valentinian were on the throne, and are the furthest south of any finds of its kind. Mr Fox said: "All I want is to see the coins on display with my name and the landowner's name next to it. That would be fantastic, The money is not important. It is the history that counts."

New Book About the Antikythera Mechanism

From the Dan Agin Author/Neuroscientist Posted February 14, 2009 11:21 PM (EST) Book Review: Tackling the Mystery of a 2,000-Year-Old Computer The trouble with the history of ancient civilizations is that they've left us debris, and from the piles of bits and pieces we try to reconstruct who the people really were and how they lived. The usual line about the ancient Greeks is that they were good talkers and philosophers and sculptors and sailors but miserable scientists and technologists. Except, of course, for Archimedes, who outclassed everyone of his time in science and engineering. Most popular historical lines about antiquity sooner or later get revised. In 1901, halfway between Crete and the Greek mainland, Greek sponge divers discovered an ancient Greek sunken ship off the rocky island of Antikythera. From that ship came statues, pottery, glassware, jewelry, coins--and also a corroded lump of bronze later separated into three corroded pieces. The pieces lay around for most of the 20th century, until in the 1970s they were subjected to x-ray analysis that shocked archaeologists and historians alike. The pieces contained the remnants of an elaborate device, a system of 30 cogwheels laid on cogwheels, and after much study the consensus decision was that the Antikythera Mechanism, as it came to be called, was in fact an ancient analog computer. Jo Marchant, a British science journalist, has given us a fascinating new book about this ancient Greek device (Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--And the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets. Da Capo Press, 2009.) In ten chapters of clear prose she lays out the background, discovery, and analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism, an intriguing journey into science, archaeology, and history. There are intellectual consequences of the existence of the Mechanism, and some of the consequences may require revisions of certain views of the history of antiquity. Technology and science can never really be separated, since one produces the other. Science produces new technology, and new technology produces new science, which in turn produces new technology, and so on, and so on. It's one reason why it's so difficult to predict the science or technology of the future. It's also one reason why when we look at the technology of the past, we need to ask about the science that had to exist to make that technology possible. The current view of the Antikythera Mechanism is that it was used to predict eclipses and to track the paths of the Sun and Moon through the zodiac--and maybe even to track the movements of the five planets known at that time. The current view is also that no device of such technological sophistication appeared again until a thousand years later. The question that confronts us is simple: Where are the records of the science that had to exist more than 2,000 years ago in order to produce the technology implied by the device? Was Archimedes involved? We don't know. Jo Marchant's book is an intelligent account of what is apparently the world's first analog computer. The book and the story are well worth your time. *************************** Who's to say the mechanism was of Greek manufacture? It could have come from Alexandria, India or China. The knowledge needed to construct the mechanism was probably lost during one of the times the Great Library at Alexandria was burned - or it may have been destroyed thousands of years before with the mysterious artifact surviving as an item of curiosity in some ruler's treasure house. Whenever barbarians take power, they attempt to destroy the knowledge base of those who came before - thus the destruction of libraries and book burning. The saying "knowledge is power" is more true today than ever before. It is the reason the Roman Catholic Church did not want people to learn to read and it was against the laws of several kingdoms to own the Scriptures! It is the reason the Mullahs insist that only they have the authority to interpret the Qoran. It is the reason repressive regimes around the globe attempt to control the internet and do control content in newspapers, magazines, television and radio.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...