Saturday, April 18, 2009

Italian Quake Reveals Underground Caves

From Italy: Abruzzo quake unearths prehistoric dwellings Rome, 17 April (AKI) - Last week's powerful earthquake in the central Italian Abruzzo regional capital L'Aquila has unearthed prehistoric dwellings there, according Italian daily La Stampa. Some of the vaulted caves measure up to five metres in height, according to Italian geologist Gianluca Ferretti, quoted by the daily. "We are exploring them," said Ferretti, who teaches geology at L'Aquila's university. One the biggest caves is located near L'Aquila's bus terminal, in via di Collemaggio. The caves date back 15,000 years, according to geologists. "Some of the caves were hollowed out by the first shepherds to inhabit the area, who would also use them as shelters for their animals," said Ferretti's colleague, Antonio Moretti. But while they represent a fascinating archaeological find, the caves' emergence has worried geologists. "It shows the fragility of the sediment on which the area is built," said Ferretti. The magnitude 6.3 quake last Monday destroyed or seriously damaged several thousand buildings in L'Aquila and surrounding villages, killing 295 people and leaving 55,000 homeless.

CAIS Report

Iraqi Drought Reveals Sasanian City of Peroz-Shapur and other Archaeological Treasures 15 April 2009 By: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro Edited by CAIS LONDON, (CAIS) -- Today oil-rich Iraq, apart from foreign invasion, terrorism and sectarian wars, is also suffering from one of the worst droughts in decades. While this is bad news for farmers, it is good news for archaeologists. The receding waters of the Euphrates River have revealed ancient archaeological sites, some of which were unknown until now. For Ratib Ali al-Kubaisi, the director of Anbar province's Antiquities Department, the drought has opened up a whole new land of opportunity. Rest of article.

Weekend Earth Day Clean-Up in Milwaukee

Today we were blessed with our best weather of the new season - it was sunny, very dry air, dry ground and, best of all, mild breezes and warm temperatures! Where I live (about 7.5 miles west of Lake Michigan), I think it was about 70 F or so. I headed to the supermarket shortly after 10 AM in a long sleeved fleece shirt and jeans and worked up a sweat walking back with two canvas sacks of groceries (that's part of my work-out routine - I carry about 5-6 pounds in each sack.) Now I've got the news on television and it warmed my heart seeing lots of kids out today for the annual Earth Day park clean-up in Milwaukee County. Here is press coverage from the local newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Photo: Jack Orton Daniel Joannes, 12, with Boy Scout Troop 27 from St. Pius in Wauwatosa, and troop volunteers Tony Balcom and Mike Lisser try to pull a large metal bicycle rack out of the Menomonee River in Hoyt Park as they took part in the Keep America Beautiful 2009 Great American Cleanup. River cleanup draws 3,000 volunteers By Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel Posted: Apr. 18, 2009 1:09 p.m. Wauwatosa – Amid the old shoes and clothes, rusting car parts and dirty bottles that were picked up by volunteers Saturday along the banks of the Menomonee River in Hoyt Park, Colin Brown discovered something in the mud that made him do a double take. It was a cardboard sign that read: "The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river." "It was kind of funny," Brown said. "The sign reminds you to take action. You have to do something." Brown was among thousands of volunteers who scoured area parks, woods and rivers in the Milwaukee Riverkeeper's annual Spring River Cleanup. The big event is designed to collect trash that can foul waterways as well as raise awareness about preserving the beauty of Wisconsin's landscape. Wednesday marks Earth Day, the event that was founded by Gaylord A. Nelson, the former Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senator. The first Earth Day was launched in 1970. Armed with trash bags, work gloves and rugged shoes, everyone from Boy Scout troops to senior citizens fanned out along the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers. They cleaned up along the Hank Aaron State Trail in the Menomonee Valley. And they picked up trash in the northern watershed in locations around Cedarburg, Grafton and West Bend. And along the way, they discovered some unusual items, like a toilet, kid's wagon, a towel with an Olympic logo and a full bedroom set complete with headboard, mattress, box spring and matching table. Paul Schwarzkopf, who organized the event, estimated 3,000 volunteers participated, the count boosted he said by Saturday's warm weather, the addition of 10 sites, and the continued revival of the Milwaukee River. Organizers handed out 6,000 garbage bags and by mid-morning they received calls that more were needed. "People are starting to turn toward the river, not away from it," he said. "People are looking at the river as a vital water resource." He said the cleanup reminded people what they have in their hometowns and neighborhoods. Hoyt Park, a popular recreation spot in Wauwatosa, was abuzz with activity, as 153 volunteers scattered in the woods and parking lots to clean up. A Boy Scout troop discovered an old park bike rack in the woods, along with a green-slatted park bench. "You kind of raise consciousness about littering," said Kathleen Ellis Stifter, who served as site captain. "If you're going to change the next generation you have to get them involved while they're young." Ashley Lentz, among 20 employees from WaterStone Bank to participate, gathered a bag full of old bottles. "I've been going on these park trails since I was a kid," she said. "It's a nice event to come out and preserve what I had growing up."

New Rock Art Discovered at Machu Picchu

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: UCA professor finds ancient rock painting in Peru BY DEBRA HALE-SHELTON Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009 (Photo: Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/REINALDO MORALES JR. Reinaldo "Dito" Morales Jr., an assistant professor of art history at the University of Central Arkansas, will formally announce his finding of an ancient painting at Peru's Machu Picchu at next week's annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Atlanta.) CONWAY - A University of Central Arkansas professor said Thursday that he has discovered an ancient rock painting at an Inca burial site in the Peruvian Andes and believes the work could be anywhere from 500 to 2,000 years old. Tens of thousands of tourists each year pass the nearly 50-foot rock at Machu Picchu, a site scientists have studied for nearly a century. But apparently no one has paid attention to the barely visible painting, said Reinaldo "Dito" Morales Jr., assistant professor of art history. Morales is to announce his finding formally April 24 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Atlanta. Morales, 45, first saw the rock art in 2000 when he was a graduate student. At the time, he said, "I figured [that] this place is so famous, surely everyone knows about it." But after he later obtained funding to return to Peru in December 2008, he began digging into the area's art history. "I've been scouring every journal, book, any kind of publication that discusses Machu Picchu or the rock art there" and haven't found even a mention of this work, he said. The black painting - likely done with charcoal or the mineral manganese - is partly obscured by a calcium deposit, which Morales said could take hundreds of years or longer to form. No one really knows what the painting depicts or who created it. But when a drawing of it is su- perimposed upon a photograph Morales took, the painting appears to be "some kind of animal imagery," said James Farmer, an associate professor and chairman of the art history department at Virginia Commonwealth University, where Morales did his doctoral dissertation. Morales said, "I don't know if it's supposed to represent something or if it's just some sort of abstract geometrical marks. That's the question of the century for rock-art studies." Farmer, who has traveled to Peru since the discovery and saw the drawing, said, "Someone probably has seen this [painting in the past], but ... what is significant ... is that no one has ever really paid much attention to it if, in fact, they had seen it. ... Apparently, [Morales is] the first modern person who certainly noticed it and brought it to the attention of anybody. "It's very easy to miss," Farmer said. "Even knowing where it was, I had to go up there and look for it. It doesn't jump out at you. It's hard to locate, and it's hard to see." Art historians already knew of engravings at Machu Picchu. But Morales said, "This is the very first painting ever documented at Machu Picchu." Historians believe Pachacuti, the Incas' first emperor, built Machu Picchu as a royal winter retreat in the Andean mountains in about 1450. Morales and Farmer believe the work predates the Incas' presence at Machu Picchu, which translates to big mountain or big peak. Morales said he's convinced the image is not of Incan origin "because Incan art is typically dominated by rectilinear geometric patterns, whereas this painting is primarily curvilinear." Farmer said the painting "stylistically looks rather similar to other rock-art traditions ... that we know are much earlier. "Just in terms of what the image appears to represent, it just doesn't look very Inca," he added. "You could be talking about something that dates back to 5000 B.C.," Farmer said. "It is stylistically similar to some other things in the Andes" from that time. But some parts of the painting are in goodenough condition that it might be just 500 years old, he said. While it's probably not Inca in origin, the question of "whom we would assign origin to is going to be a much more difficult question to grapple with," Farmer said. "I think that would be sort of the first wave of research." Because Morales does not want to risk damaging the work, he has not even touched the painting. "It's not worth ruining, just for temporary satisfaction," he said. Carbon dating, which would involve scraping off a tiny piece of the work, would ruin that small portion and might not even work if there's not enough organic material to test, Morales said. The International Congress of Rock Art has accepted a paper Morales wrote about the discovery and will meet this summer in Brazil.

South America Under-20 Chess Championships

(Photo of the top three finishers from male and female sections, from the official website) Report from Chessdom: This event was held April 8 - 13, 2009, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Girls section had only nine participants. The new champion is Carla Heredia of Ecuador with 6.5 points (8 games), a full point ahead of the silver medalist WFM Gabriela Vargas (Paraguay) and third placed Paulina Orejuela (Ecuador). Here are the chess femmes' complete final standings from ClasificaciĆ³n Final tras 9 rondas Rk. 0 Nombre FED Elo Pts. Des 1 Des 2 Des 3 1 Heredia Serrano Carla ECU 2097 6,5 22,00 5 2,5 2 WFM Vargas Gabriela PAR 2090 5,5 21,25 5 3,5 3 Orejuela Chango Paulina ECU 1883 5,5 17,50 4 1,5 4 WFM Feliciano Vanessa BRA 2112 4,5 12,75 4 0,5 5 Romero Echeverria Abigail ECU 2057 4,0 14,50 3 2,0 6 WCM Borda Carla BOL 2022 3,0 11,50 2 2,0 7 WCM Estrada Lucia BOL 1887 3,0 9,50 2 1,0 8 Cordero Daniela BOL 1969 3,0 9,00 2 1,0 9 Mendoza Samanta BOL 1827 1,0 3,00 0 0,0 Only nine chess femmes entered this event from an entire continent! My hope is that as this event matures more chess femmes will enter each year. I note three chess femmes entered from Ecuador. One of my nephews is married to a beautiful young lady, Osayo, from Ecuador; most of her immediate family lives there.

2009 WSCF All Girls Tournament - RESULTS!

Hola darlings! I'm terribly delinquent in reporting this important news - mea culpa. Without further ado, here are the final standings of this fantastic all-girls tournament held on February 28, 2009, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (my hometown, yah!). These are only the individual results. Team results are not included in this post; for that information, please see the full results tables. Elementary K-3 Section WSCF Rated Individual Results Place Name Team Grade Rating Pts 1 HUANG, SABRINA GLPK 2 667 5.0 2 KHUNGER, SIMRAN (no team) 3 747 4.0 3 WONG, CHLOE DBEL 3 507 4.0 4 SCHNEIDER, CLAUDIA STOR 2 650 4.0 5 SAYCOCIE, VANISA GREL 2 659 4.0 6 JEFFERSON, MAKAYLA GREL 3 526 4.0 7 HILDEBRAND, GABRIELLE MEDS 2 422 3.0 8 LENZ, MARISSA MSOW 1 505 3.0 9 SUBRAMANIAN, UMA MSOW 3 372 3.0 10 GALIEN, SIERRA StBERN 3 163 3.0 11 DOUANGVILAY, INPATIDA GREL 2 354 3.0 12 OLSON, MISTIE BESC 3 261 3.0 13 CAYEN, EMMA GMEL 3 139 3.0 14 MEKHTIEVA, KAMILLA USM 2 393 3.0 15 SWISSDORF, ANDROMEDA FREL 3 602 2.5 16 RATHORE, SRISHTI OLEL 3 425 2.5 17 MANI, MADHAVI MSOW 1 273 2.5 18 ISHA, CHEKURI MSOW 2 324 2.0 19 GIRGA, MATEYA GMEL 3 327 2.0 20 SIEGEL, KAYLA DBEL 1 236 2.0 21 ANTHES, JACKIE FREL 3 188 2.0 22 GALASZEWSKI, EMILY FASC 1 224 2.0 23 TRAMBURG, MORGAN FREL 3 264 2.0 24 RAUH, MAIA StSEB 1 100 2.0 25 ULATOWSKI, GRETA BRAC 2 131 1.5 26 WATERWORTH, CORRIN FREL 3 118 1.5 27 MCCAULEY, MIRANDA StSEB 3 100 1.5 28 FERNANDEZ, MERCE MGIS 1 105 1.5 29 NOEL, NICHOLE MSOW 1 205 1.5 30 SCHNEIDER, MAYA LBEL 3 213 1.5 31 SAGER, SABRINA CUEL K 100 1.0 32 WHITE, ALEXIS MSOW 2 100 1.0 33 MABBETT, ERICANNA StSEB 1 100 1.0 Elementary + K-6 Section WSCF Rated Individual Results Place Name Team Grade Rating Pts 1 HUANG, ALENA GLPK 3 1128 4.0 2 KHUNGER, SHAGUN (no team) 5 720 4.0 3 PFEIL, CYAN SMMS 6 475 4.0 4 LEA, EMANI MSL 6 543 4.0 5 CHIESA, EMILY GMEL 4 657 3.5 6 ULATOWSKI, HANNAH BRAC 4 485 3.5 7 MILLER, SARAH (no team) 4 532 3.0 8 ADUSUMILLI, ARIANNA USM 4 404 3.0 9 LEWIS-TAYLOR, DONNA GMEL 4 350 3.0 10 LENZ, EMMA MSOW 4 386 3.0 11 MCCAULEY, ALANNA StSEB 5 661 3.0 12 ESVELD, MICHAELA FREL 4 206 2.5 13 MURALI, ANANYA ATEL 5 684 2.0 14 DOUANGVILAY, INPANET GREL 4 136 2.0 15 HURT, SHEMARIYA GREL 5 153 2.0 16 NANGIA, RHEA BRAC 4 225 2.0 17 RUCKSTADTER, ALEXANDRA MPSC 4 100 2.0 18 FIELDS, KATHERYN BRAC 4 197 2.0 19 LANGER, SHANNA FASC 6 100 2.0 20 PIEPER, ALLISON KOES 4 121 2.0 21 WANIOREK, LYDIA KOES 4 100 1.0 22 VANCE, ALEXIS GREL 5 100 1.0 23 JOHNSON, CAPRECIA GMEL 4 100 0.5 Open Section WSCF Rated Individual Results Place Name Team Grade Rating Pts 1 MURALI, ANJANA SHIS 7 940 5.0 2 HUANG, JOANNA EMHS 9 1371 4.0 3 ALEXANDER, DANAE M MSL 9 774 3.0 4 SAGER, STEPHANIE WBMS 7 730 2.0 5 CASPERSON, DARBY (no team) 9 295 0.5 6 MCCAULEY, CASSIDY StSEB 7 260 0.5 Congratulations to all of the chess femmes who particpated in this great event! I am disturbed to see such a drop-off in participation rates of the young ladies from grades K-3 into the middle school grades (7-9) - and no chess femmes in high school participated (grades 10-12) in this year's tournament. I am happy to see a slight increase in participation rates over the past 3 years: 2007 had 57 chess femmes; 2008 had 59 chess femmes; and 2009 had 62 chess femmes. Hooray!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cutting Back For Awhile

Hola! We've finally got a nice Saturday coming up (tomorrow) where I haven't previously made plans, so my intention is to start spring clean-up. It may get up to 70 F, sure hope it does! Sunday is our April investment club meeting; next month we're skipping a meeting because G and I are both going to be out of town. I'm still busy trying to get the house ship shape for dondelion's visit next month. I'm busy working on two articles, one of which I intend to finish in time to publish for Goddesschess' TENTH ANNIVERSARY on May 6, 2009! And tonight I'm cutting it short because I've got TWO new Amanda Quick novels that I want to wig-out reading and my DVD of "Lost in Austen" arrived a few days ago, so I'm going downstairs and plugging that into my as-yet-unconverted 27" t.v. to watch tonight! So, things may be a bit sparse around here for the next month or so. While we're in New York from May 12 to May 19 there will be no posts - hmmm, that sounds rather barren, doesn't it. I hadn't even thought about lugging my laptop along. Maybe dondelion would tote it for me - well, we'll see.

Galapagos Volcano Erupting

Oh goddess! One of the ladies from the investment club is headed off for a Galapagos adventure next month - and here is this volcano erupting its head off on what I understand to be one of the larger of the islands (?) The eruptions started a week or two ago, and have been happening off and on since then. I emailed G about a news reports I saw some time last week. At the time, we joked about hoping her mother didn't find out! But the eruptions haven't ceased - drat! G, I do hope your long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime tour won't be unduly affected. Here's the latest: From Volcanic eruption takes toll on Galapagos wildlife April 16th, 2009 Image: Aerial handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park (PNG) on April 12, 2009 of the eruption of the La Cumbre volcano in Fernandina island, Galapagos, Ecuador. A volcanic eruption over the weekend has taken a toll on the wildlife of the ecologically-fragile Galapagos Islands, causing the deaths of numerous fish and various sea lions, said officials on Thursday. *************************************************************************** Not exactly what I'd want to see during a once-in-a-lifetime trip: dead animals floating on the ocean. Oh my.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Narmin Kazimova In The News

All right! She's a young player I've had my eye on since her performance in the 2008 European Women's Individual Chess Championships, where she played some outstanding chess. Kazimova's performance at the 2008 EWICC was enough to earn her a Featured Chess Femme in my May, 2008 column at Chessville (alas, now defunct). (Photo: Victoria Cmilyte v. Kazimova, 2008 EWICC). This news from Chessdom: Narmin Nizami Qizi Kazimova going to the World School chess Kazimova is the number 1 female player U16 of Azerbaijan The number 1 female player U16 of Azerbaijan, Narmin Nizami Qizi Kazimova, will be one of the top players at the World School Chess Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece. High performance is expected by Kazimova, after being part of the Olympic team for her country and participating at the European Individual Chess Championship. The young talent is currently rated 2165 and expects an ELO boost of over 40 points for the April FIDE rating list. She gained most of the points at the National Championship of Azerbaijan, scoring 7,5/10 and defeating strong players such as Zeinab Mamedjarova, Khayala Mardan Abdulla, and Nargiz Umudova. Rest of story.

The Day of the Dolphin - Chinese Style

Is this story for real? Thousands of dolphins block Somali pirates 2009-04-14 11:18:17 (Photo caption: Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday. Photo: BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday. The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's. The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while. China initiated its three-ship escort task force on Dec. 26 last year after the United Nations Security Council called on countries to patrol gulf and waters off Somalia, one of the world's busiest marine routes, where surging piracy endangered intercontinental shipping. China's first fleet has escorted 206 vessels, including 29 foreign merchant vessels, and successfully rescued three foreign merchant ships from pirate attacks. About 20 percent of Chinese merchant ships passing through the waters off Somalia were attacked by pirates from January to November in 2008, before the task force was deployed. A total of seven ships, either owned by China or carrying Chinese cargo and crew, were hijacked. Tianyu No. 8, a Chinese fishing vessel with 16 Chinese and eight foreign sailors aboard, was captured by Somali pirates on Nov. 14 and released in early February. The second fleet of Chinese escort ships arrived at the Gulf of Aden on Monday to replace the first fleet. (Xinhua and Cri contributed to the story) ***************************************************************************** Let me get this straight - Chinese merchant ships under escort of the Chinese Navy come under attack by Somali pirates? The pirates are either insane or they were banking on the fact that the weapons on board the Chinese escort ship(s) were made in China and therefore wouldn't work right. And then the day was saved by a school of dolphins - THOUSANDS of dolphins, but the photo seems only to show perhaps 100 dolphins. Er, right.


Holy Goddess! What is this world coming to? And renowned actress Isabella Rossellini (image) is involved as a shill for this - this - this - GREEN smut, no less! Oh, the infamy, the infamy! Ingrid Bergman (may goddess bless her spirit) must be rolling in her grave.

More Treasure Trove!

From Treasure trove found on Funen Published 16.04.09 15:21 Ancient Islamic coins and silver jewellery were discovered in one of the biggest finds of its kind on Funen by a local man with a metal detector An amateur archaeologist hit the jackpot when he discovered a hidden cache of... An amateur archaeologist hit the jackpot when he discovered a hidden cache of buried silver in a rural field on Funen earlier this year. Odense City Museums has since taken advantage of the recent stretch of fine weather over the past few days to further unearth the unique and valuable Viking-age find. So far, archaeologists have found 41 silver coins, a silver bracelet and half of a highly decorative Thor’s hammer. Most of the coins originate from the ancient Islamic times of the caliphs, while some are from the area covered by present-day Russia. The bracelet and hammer are thought to be Scandinavian in design. The find lay undiscovered in the field near Ringe for more than 1,000 years and museum curator Jesper Hansen said that is the biggest coin find of its kind on Funen. Odense City Museums indicated that the foreign coins are ‘yet another sign of the vast connections and trading relations, which were an integral part of Scandinavia during the Viking age’. It is likely that the treasure finder, Benny Pennerup, will receive a finder’s fee from the National Museum.

Treasure Trove!

From The Belfast Telegraph 3,000 year-old bracelet found in Tyrone field Thursday, 16 April 2009 A County Tyrone family could be in line for a reward after finding a rare Bronze Age gold bracelet on their land. Farmer Gary Sproule accidentally unearthed the precious artefact while ploughing over a field at Castlegore near Castlederg last April. The intricate item is believed to date from almost 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. An inquest was held yesterday in Belfast at which the item, which would have belonged to an important warrior or priest, was officially classified as treasure. Under the law, a ‘treasure trove’ inquest must be held by the coroner to determine the significance of such finds. The finder of the item, as well as the landowner, are often then entitled to a discretionary reward. Speaking after the inquest, Mr Sproule said he was pleased that the bracelet had been dealt with through official channels. “I can’t believe something like this has been in the ground all this time,” he said. “Three generations of my family have lived here. It’s hard to believe the last time this land was ploughed was when my ancestors were using smaller ploughs or even horses. “When I saw it I knew it had to be something special. It looked extremely old but it was in amazing condition. I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been damaged, as it’s about 3,000 years old. It’s amazing to think that there were Bronze Age settlers right here on my doorstep.” His wife Valerie said the family had been “blessed” to find such a rare object. “It’s not every day you can say you found a piece of Bronze Age history in your back field,” she said. “It’s important for Irish history that we uncover these treasures and I’m just delighted it was found after all this time.” Expert witness Richard Warner, a former archaeologist at the Ulster Museum, said that although a detailed analysis of the bracelet had not been carried out, similar objects have been found to contain 80% gold and 15% silver. “It would have been owned by a wealthy person, possibly a priest, a high ranking warrior or tribal chieftain,” he said. Mr Sherrard described the bracelet as a “remarkable find” and urged anyone else finding such items to ensure that they are reported to the authorities. According to the National Museum of Ireland, a similar piece dating between 900-700BC was found around 300 years ago in Killymoon, Co Tyrone, although unlike the find at Killymoon, which was a plain design, this recent discovery is highly decorative. The Coroner also ruled yesterday that a separate find of a gold Bronze Age purse or ‘bulla’ should be considered a treasure. The item, which is around the size of a 50 pence piece and dates from 950 to 800 BC, was discovered by Bangor man Glen McCamley, using a metal detector on land belonging to farmer John Kennedy at Inch in Downpatrick.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hunt for Cleopatra's Tomb

Isis sent me this information: Egypt to search 3 sites for Cleopatra's tomb By REBECCA SANTANA – April 15, 2009 CAIRO (AP) — Archaeologists next week will begin excavating three sites in Egypt near the Mediterranean Sea that may contain the tombs of doomed lovers, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. ******************************************************************************* They're pretty sure they found Cleopatra's sister Arsinoe (well, maybe), now they're going after Cleopatra. Ach - can't they just let these women rest in peace?

Judit Polgar/Garry Kasparov, Linares 1994

Part 2. Part 1, see prior post. More from Linares! Linares! A Journey Into the Heart of Chess, by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, from "La Nina:" Judit is not convinced, even though she has the paralysing feeling that there is nothing she can do about it. The next day, …she pours out her heart to her sister, Sofia [who has arrived in Linares for a brief visit]. At supper, she says she is almost certain that Kasparov released the Knight. From the faces of Vishy Anand and the American grandmaster Alex Serzer, who are having dinner with the sisters, she can tell that they don’t want to contradict her but that they can’t even begin to believe her. Sofia, at least, shows some understanding. Why don’t you just ask him again?", she suggests. Judit shakes her head and argues that it is no use. "He’s only got to say that it’s not true and who’ll believe my story then? I can see it. How very unsporting of such a young girl. You can tell she is very young. She is in time trouble, she is lost and tries such a cheap trick. And against Kasparov too, who would be the last to permit himself such a thing. In plain view of the arbiter, of a whole crowd, and, as if that were not enough, of a camera crew as well." She had thought of the camera crew before, but in the wake of the game she was so downcast that she had mainly been reasoning what little chance there was of it having had its equipment running at the right moment, and from the right angle too, for it to shed any light on the matter. Still, she mentions the camera crew when Carlos Falcon catches a fragment of their conversation and comes over to ask if there is a problem. Judit doesn’t beat about the bush: "I have the strong impression that Kasparov released the Knight after he played it to c5. But I’m not certain. Would it be possible for me to see the footage?" Falcon doesn’t hesitate. Helpfully and correctly, he replies that it doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. He will see what he can do. It was a problem. If Carlos Falcon thought for a minute that he could settle the matter smoothly, he was sadly mistaken. It turned out the next day that the video tape was not available, because the camera crew had unexpectedly returned to Madrid And also, the chief arbiter himself suddenly began to hold a very strong view of the matter. That night, Carlos Falcon added a short statement to his daily round report in an effort to squash any rumours that an irregularity had taken place in the game between Judit Polgar and Garry Kasparov. For whoever might still think so, he wanted to stress once again this was not the case. If these interventions – in which Rentero had unmistakably had a hand – were meant to put a stop to the various suspicions and insinuations, they couldn’t have had a more adverse effect. Everyone now began to have an opinion about the incident. The call to have the camera crew return from Madrid with their tape grew louder by the hour. The Knight that Kasparov did or did not let go became the only subject of discussion at the Hotel Anibal. … The uproar at the Hotel Anibal only grew worse when news began to spread that the game between Polgar and Kasparov had been filmed in its entirety, and that it was clearly visible that Kasparov had released the Knight for a fraction of a second. All uncertainty would come to an end, because a car with the all-revealing video tape on board was on its way from Madrid to Linares. It had taken the film makers a few busy days to find the relevant footage and edit the tape. To all this excitement, Rentero reacted once again with a letter. A lettter which highly surprised me. Shortly before it was made public, Mauricio told me that Rentero himself had been on the telephone to the film people in Madrid. It was true, he told Mauricio, Kasparov had illegally taken back his move. But this information could not be reconciled with Rentero’s letter. What Rentero was playing at was a mystery to me. It seemed that he was trying to vindicate Kasparov but if so, what was his intention with this letter? Had it escaped him that Kasparov had called on the press to make sure that the video tape turned up if it really existed? And what had been discussed in the private meeting that Kasparov had demanded with Rentero to make clear that he was taking the matter very seriously indeed? Rentero’s letter, written in a peculiar kind of English, raised more questions than it answered. First, it summarized the tournament director’s own version of what had taken place and after that, it gave his verdict: "Luis Rentero, Technical Director of the Chess Tournament ‘Ciudad de Linares,’ informs of the press media that the comments concerning the 5th round game between Mrs. J. Polgar and Mr. G. Kasparov occurred in the following way: ‘I was close to the mural of said game, and right when Mr. Kasparov moved his knight to the c5 square to leave it there for a few seconds, without releasing his fingers from the piece, he returned the knight back to its original square, d7, from where he moved it to square f8, I turned to the referee saying, Carlos, whereupon he answered: He has not released the piece!’ "The referee has the main responsibility in the Playing Hall and his decisions are accepted, not only by me, but also by the Organizing Committee of this Tournament. "Consequently, as responsible of this Tournament and in the name of the Organizing Committee I do not admit other versions of the referred fact and we will not permit speculations or comments of bad taste towards the Organizing Committee since they have accepted the referee decision, as main responsible of the Playing Hall. "Having information that on Tusday, March 15th, a video of this case is intended to be projected, I would like to inform that neither in the Tournament Hall, nor at the Anibal hotel, nobody will be allowed to make such projection. "To me, as Technical Director of the Tournament, Mr. Kasparov is an exemplary sportsman, that has not required of any tricks to be three years the winner and two year second of this world renowned Chess Tournament. "The tournament has been, is and will be a good faith Tournament and we will not permit that nobody spreads unfounded rumours, that all they do is to damage the reputation of the players and even of this Tournament." If Rentero had thought to get Kasparov off the hook with this letter, he only achieved the opposite. Everyone was now dying to see the video and the arrival of the car from Madrid was eagerly awaited. At the same time, tension also mounted over the question whether the video might be shown anywhere in the hotel at all. … …[N]ot much was done to prevent the video from being shown once I had arrived. Thronging the hotel room of one of the reporters and craning their necks, a whole crowd were looking time after time at Kasparov moving his Knight to c5 in slow motion and, yes, releasing his fingers from the piece for a very short moment. One of the viewers was Carlos Falcon. Even in advance of the closing ceremony, he had a statement go out in which he frankly admitted that he had been wrong. For the record he stated: "Played in slow motion, the video clearly shows that Kasparov released the piece. However, as he was shielding the piece with his hand, this was impossible for me to see form the position where I was standing." Several years on, Judit Polgar and I reminisced about the heroic feat she performed on the day of departure. In the middle of the lobby, she went to stand in Kasparov’s way. He had been hiding himself in his suite most of the time but now he was legging it at high speed towards the exit to take a walk outside. Straight out, she asked him: "How could you do this to me?" Judit laughed when she thought back to the mettle she showed as a seventeen-year-old in calling the world champion to account. It had been brave but not without consequences. "Yes, and then he didn’t speak a word to me for three whole years." Something came back to my mind which she perhaps didn’t even know. "I remember he wasn’t quite sure himself. When he came to complain to me in the restaurant, I asked him what he thought had happened himself. Did he let the Knight go or didn’t he? He hesitated and said he wasn’t quite sure. It was just a matter of a split second. But he didn’t think so." It was no surprise to Judit. "That’s what I’ve always said. I was convinced he must have felt it. When you’ve played chess for so long, you feel this. But he was confused, because he didn’t know what to do when there was no reaction [from me.] That’s why he sat thinking for three minutes. Not about what move to make but about what to do. And then he took his move back." "And felt guilty." Judit kept the images running through her mind for a while before answering: "You know, the problem was that no one was any the better for it. It was bad for Garry’s reputation. And it spoiled the tournament for both of us. Everyone kept calling me about the scandal and I don’t like scandals at all. I should have gone about my games more calmly after that but I was too eager to prove all sorts of things." ****************************************************************************** Dear Anonymous Poster who asked me to provide more information about the "infamous Knight" incident, I hope you have enjoyed what I posted here and in the prior post. Dirk Geuzendam was present at Linares when this event occurred; he spoke with Judit Polgar about it, he spoke with Garry Kasparov about it; he spoke with other people about it, and what I have written is directly quoted from his most excellent book about the various Linares tournaments that have been held over the years.

Judit Polgar/Garry Kasparov, Linares 1994

In response to a comment in this post on Easter Sunday. An anonymous posted a videotape of the famous (infamous) Kasparov "knight move" in a game with then 17-year-old Judit Polgar at the 1994 Linares tournament and asked if I could provide more information about the event. I post: From Linares! Linares! A Journey into the Heart of Chess, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, New In Chess, Aklamaar, The Netherlands, 2001, the following is excerpted from the Chapter entitled "La Nina:" As I listen politely to Rentero pitying himself [about the Linares tournament of 1988 when Women’s Chess Champion GM Maia Chiburdinadze played in the event and had a disastrous outing], I know that it is in fact a different story he wants to tell. He wants to bring up the incident that would never have caused such a stir if it hadn’t been for the involvement of Judit Polgar. An unfortunate incident, which may put chess in a bad light and should therefore better be forgotten, so he wants me to believe. And then again, knowing Rentero, perhaps not, because all attention for his tournament, in whatever form, is more than welcome to him. In order to meet him halfway, I ask the question that he undoubtedly wants to hear: "Do you really intend to maintain the ban on showing the video tape of the game between Polgar and Kasparov here in this hotel?" Decidedly and with rising indignation, Rentero tries to remove any doubt: "That is out of the question. Kasparov is the world champion and a guest in my house. I will not allow his reputation to be besmirched here." The fuss arose in the fifth round, on the day when seventeen-year-old Judit Polgar played her first game ever against Kasparov. The Spanish press had been enjoying the historic moment in their previews for days. The youngest and most ambitious of the chess-playing Polgar sisters was to prove in a direct confrontation with the world’s strongest grandmaster that women also could play chess. … … When she shakes Kasparov’s hand at the start of their game, practically no seat in the playing hall is left unoccupied. She herself is tense but not exceedingly nervous. The first four rounds have passed off reasonably well. For a defeat against Illescas, she made up with a victory over Topalov. In the games with Black against Gelfand and Ivanchuk that followed, she had good changes of getting more than the draws she achieved in the end. She had a good premonition today when she had lunch in the Restaurant Himilce. But this feeling soon disappears when after some twenty moves she loses control of the game. Kasparov is teaching her a strategy lesson in one of his favourite defensive systems. Judit sees the black pieces getting more and more threatening and gaining the upper hand. She feels that she has been outplayed to such an extent that toward s her thirtieth move she seriously begins to consider resigning. She puts it off for a bit longer when Kasparov opts for another continuation rather than the deathblow she feared was coming. Then it is Kasparov’s turn to make his thirty-fifth move. With great composure, he picks up the Knight from the d7-square and brings it forward, to c5. Judit feels disbelief flushing her heart. This is an impossible move. A downright blunder. When Kasparov actually lands the Knight on the c5-square, her heart leaps into her mouth. Is she being given the unlikely chance here to make one simple move and, as if by magic, convert an imminent collapse into a position that may even be winning? Try not to think of it, she warns herself in a thousandth of a second, but it is too late. The mistake has entered the field of tension surrounding the board, and she feels that the far-reaching results of the move that Kasparov is executing have now registered with himself as well. But she has also seen that this awareness came too late. For a very short moment, almost imperceptibly, he released the Knight that he is still keeping in the c5-square but now firmly gripping it with three fingers against. Judit is certain. For a very short moment, for a split of a split second, his fingers let go of the piece. There is no need for a chess player to see such a thing clearly. You feel it. It is in your system as a player. These are the first important rules you learn when you begin to play competitive chess. To touch is to move, and to release is to have moved. When you touch a piece or a pawn, you have to move it, even if it means losing the game. Once you have released a piece or a pawn, your move has become irrevocable. This goes for all levels of play. Young Bobby Fischer, for instance, concentrating deeply in a game against German grandmaster Unzicker, happened to be fiddling with his h-pawn in the assumption that it had been captured and taken off the board. When he realized to his dismay what he was doing, he didn’t have to think twice before accepting the consequences of his mistake. He moved the h-pawn, causing irreparable damage to his position, and lost quickly. It is a code of honor. Touch a piece and you will have to move it. Let a piece go, even for the shortest possible moment, and you will have to resign yourself to the move you have made. You bring down shame on yourself if you break this code of honour. Not knowing what to do about the situation, Judit raises her eyes to look at Kasparov. He is holding on to the Knight, which is still on the c-5 square. Showing no feelings whatsoever, he sits there, thinking. His face, normally so explicit, is impassive. Not the tiniest muscle moves to betray what his thoughts are. Then, without further ado, he retires the Knight to the square from where it came and pores over the position. He is clearly aware that he will have to move the Knight but the expression on his face also indicates that he intends to consider calmly where it will go. Judit feels alone. She looks at Rentero, who is following the game from a few yards away. She looks at Carlos Falcon, who is standing next to him and who, being the arbiter, should have intervened. Uncertain, she looks at her mother and her eldest sister, who are sitting on the front row in the hall. It doesn’t help her in the least. Three long minutes go by before Kasparov makes his move. He picks up the Knight, moves it back in a flowing movement to the f8-square and writes his move down. Judit looks around again, knowing that she is going to lose this game after all. For ten more moves she tries to order her thoughts. It doesn’t go too well. When she has resigned and is handing her score-sheet across the table to Kasparov and he is handing his to her for signature, she cannot restrain herself. As neutrally as possible, she asks Kasparov: "Did you let got of the Knight or didn’t you?" Kasparov is prepared for the question. With a fatherly smile, he reassures her: "Come on, what do you think, with a few hundred spectactors as witnesses?" More to follow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mars Rover Mysterious Reboots

A mystery, heh? As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating." Mars rover has mysterious reboots Last Modified: 14 Apr 2009 Source: PA News Nasa's ageing Mars rover Spirit has rebooted its computer at least twice for unknown reasons. Rover project manager John Callas at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said the rover is in a stable operations state called automode and can remain that way for some time while the problem is diagnosed. The reboots occurred during the past weekend. Callas says Spirit's batteries are charged, its solar arrays are producing energy and its temperatures are within allowable ranges. The rover team is investigating whether the problem could be related to recent updates of the rover's onboard software. Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, have been exploring the cold and dusty red planet since 2004. ****************************************************************************** When I think about it, I find it absolutely amazing that this project, funded basically on a shoestring (for NASA and JPL), is still going strong! We should give good old American ingenuity a pat on the back! It's taken a beating lately; critics are saying "oh, India is going to pass us up," "oh, China is going to pass us up." Yeah, 20 years ago they were saying that Japan was going to pass us up. Well, I think the critics are flat out wrong. I have a feeling that under the Obama administration's push to get renewal energy sources really rolling in this country, we're going to be seeing some truly remarkable things and as a world we're going to finally realize that hey, we're just a year away from making it into the second decade of the 21st century. Now, about those mysterious reboots - is is really just a new software problem? Or are there some kind of invisible (or really really miniscule) Martians running around playing April Fools tricks on us???

Board Games Studies - Jerusalem 2009

Information from the Board Games Studies website: BOARD GAMES STUDIES COLLOQUIA XII Jerusalem, Israel Wednesday, April 22nd - Saturday, April 25th, 2009 Program: 22. 4 Wednesday 0900-0945 booking & reception 0945-1030 Morphing Sudoku from Newspapers to Children Books to Wooden Playground Toy to Plastic Hand-Held Product. - Rafael Sirkis & Daria Ackerman 1030-1115 Computer-Assisted Board Games - Alda Carvalho,Carlos Santos, JoĆ£o Pedro Neto, Jorge Nuno Silva 1115-1200 Playing with Children - Haim Shafir 1200-1330 Lunch break 1330-1415 The Modern Eurogame Revolution - Yehuda Berlinger 1415-1500 Games and Moral - Jorge Nuno Silva 1500-1545 Board Games in Museum and Education. - Piotr Adamczyk 1545-1615 Coffee Break 1615- 1815 Prof Aviezeri games Free Evening 23.4 Thursday 0900-0945 Bondage of Indians with Board Games from Ancient to Modern Times - V.Balambal. 0945-1030 The Game of Chaupad in India - Ute Rettberg 1030-1100 Coffee break 1100-1145 Adventures with the Lewis Chessmen - Irving Finkel 1145-1230 Hyde and seek - David Parlett 1230-1400 Lunch break 1400-1445 From Trictrac to Backgammon. Enlightenment, revolution, the rise of the bourgeoisie and their impact on the culture of play around 1800 - Ulrich Schaedler 1445-1530 Anti-Semitic Games - Simon Cohen 1530-1600 Jerusalem in Games - Gadi Kfir 1600-1630 Coffee brake 1700-2100 Opening ceremony and visiting the Museum of Israel - Cocktail - Honored by: The mayor of Jerusalem, Professor Shalom Sabar, Professor Israel Uman- Nobel price winner Friday 0900-1100 visit & play at the GaMe Exhibition in Jerusalem Science museum 1130-1215 A method to evaluate math games - Piet Notebaert, Luc Blomme 1215-1300 New designing Old tricks Effective redesigning of games - Yoav Ziv 1300-1430 Lunch brake 1430-1545 The game "Academie" of Mr. Van der Gaag - Fred Horn 1545-1630 Invention of Games as a Way of Expression - Klod Hayat 1630-1715 Communication in Board games. - Uri Globus 1700-1730 coffee Break 1730- 1830 walk around the campus of the Hebrew University, Mount Scopus - Gadi Kfir 1900 International games evening - Everybody brings a game from home all participants play in routine 25.5 Saturday 900-1300 Tour through ancient city, from Lion's Gate along the via d' la Rosa to see Roman games, ending at the Notre Dam church. - Nehama Shafran 1300-1430 Break for lunch 1430-1600 Discussion: Board games of the 21 century - Uri Globus 1600-1700 Jerusalem in art of Christian, Moslem, Jewish - Shalom Sabar Colloquium summary and future programs of BGS

Massive Wooden "Stonehenge" at Tara?

A new television special reveals the latest findings using new technology: Wood you believe it? Stonehenge find at Tara By Louise Hogan Saturday April 11 2009 SCIENTISTS have unearthed what appears to be a mammoth wooden version of the famous Stonehenge monument at the Hill of Tara. In a revealing new RTE documentary, many theories and insights into the country's prehistoric past and 150,000 ancient monuments are unveiled and explained. For the first time, people will be able to view a computer-generated recreation of what archaeologists believe was a major wooden structure -- a version of Britain's Stonehenge -- at the ancient seat of the Irish high kings in the Hill of Tara in Co Meath. Archaeologist Joe Fenwick revealed a LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) laser beam had been used to scan the ground surface to create a three-dimensional map, which revealed more than 30 monuments around Tara. Using another technique -- described as taking an X-ray through the hillside -- archaeologists discovered the huge monument, a ditch stretching six metres wide and three metres deep in the bedrock. The ditch, circling the Mound of the Hostages passage tomb, separated the outside world from the ceremonial centre of Tara. It was believed the ancient architects had also surrounded the ditch with a massive wooden structure on each side -- a version of Stonehenge -- on a large scale. Its sheer size meant a whole forest would have had to be cleared to build it. "In scale, it is comparable, for example, to Croke Park's pitch. The Hill of Tara had enormous ritual significance over the course of 5,000-6,000 years, so it's not surprising that you get monuments of the scale of the ditch pit circle," said Mr Fenwick, from the Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway. Cutting-edge technology is helping to provide a new insight into the lives of our ancestors, according to the documentary makers behind 'Secrets of the Stones'. Civilisation It shows Ireland's first civilisation began 7,000 years ago, they withstood major climatic changes and voyaged throughout Europe, returning with new religions and mementos. An RTE spokesman said the broadcaster, along with the Department of Education, would be sending two free copies of the book accompanying the series to all second-level schools in the country. The first part of the 'Secrets of the Stones' will be shown on RTE One at 6.30pm on Easter Monday. - Louise Hogan

New Theory About Xi'an Terracotta Army

Expert says terracotta army of servants, not warriors 2009-04-13 21:34:37 (Story contains a cool video, but I have no idea how to do embedding) BEIJING, April 13 -- A Chinese professor is out with a theory that could turn one of the country's most important archeological discoveries on upside down. Liu Jiusheng at Shaanxi Normal University says the famed Terracotta Soldiers of Xi'an aren't soldiers at all--they're royal servants and bodyguards, most likely modeled after high-ranking Qin dynasty officials. Most historians believe the 2,200-year-old clay statues buried near the emperor's tomb represent an army custom-made to guard him in the afterlife. But Liu argues ordinary soldiers weren't allowed to get close to the emperor, even in death. Furthermore, Liu says the figures stand at around 190 cm, much taller than average Chinese past or present. Liu theorizes the clay statues were probably made taller to show their elevated social status. Though not widely accepted, experts say Liu's argument is worth studying. The 1,000-strong terracotta army was discovered near Xi'an in 1974. It was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in December 1987, Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Xi'an. (XHTV) Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Maia Chiburdanidze Cup

The "Maia Chiburdanidze Cup" (International Open Women's Chess Tournament) takes place in the Chess Palace, Tbilisi (Georgia) 4th-13th June 2009. The Tournament is open to all women players. Each player must herself (or her federation) cover all her expenses: entry fee, transportation, accommodation and board. 9 round Swiss. Rate of play: 90 min for all moves, increment 30 seconds per move. Details available from the addresses below. Contact IA, FM Varlam Vepkhvishvili E-mail: or Phone: (995)32-997736 - Federation (995)32-960199 - Home (995)99-771974 - Mobile Official site:

Monday, April 13, 2009

53 New Mummies Found in Egypt???

Story at Middle East Online First Published 2009-04-13, Last Updated 2009-04-13 09:10:28 Painted mummies found in ancient Egypt necropolis Mission finds dozens of mummies in 53 rock-hewn tombs dating to Egyptian Middle Kingdom. CAIRO - Archaeologists working in an Egyptian oasis have found a necropolis containing dozens of brightly painted mummies dating back as far as 4,000 years, the country's antiquities chief said on Sunday. "The mission found dozens of mummies in 53 rock-hewn tombs dating to the Middle Kingdom" from 2061-1786 BC, Zahi Hawass said. "Four of the mummies date back to the 22nd Dynasty (931 to 725 BC) and are considered some of the most beautiful mummies found," he said. The linen-wrapped mummies are painted in the still-bright traditional ancient Egyptian colours of turquoise, terracotta and gold. The necropolis was uncovered near the Ilahun pyramid in Fayoum oasis south of Cairo. Abdel-Rahman el-Ayedi, who headed the mission, said that a Middle Kingdom funerary chapel with an offering table was also found, and that it was probably used up to the Roman era which lasted from 30 BC to 337 AD. The team also found 15 painted masks, along with amulets and clay pots, Hawass said.
What "mission," exactly? Is this an Egyptian "mission?" Sponsored by whom? Hmmmm, is this for real? No dates are provided in this article as to when the discoveries were first uncovered - or how long the excavations have taken. Is this a Hawi hose-job? Oops - I lapsed into my former irreverent ways from message boards long ago and far away... - I meant to say - is this a Zahi hose-job? The mummy in the photo is very pretty - is it a she, or a he? No identification information given. Why not? If this is spur of the moment news with on-site photographs,, why has the sarcophogus of the mummy been so carefully dug out and cleaned of all dust and clumps of clay??? More importantly, where is Hawi - I mean, Zahi Hawass? He's usually got his face somewhere nearby any photograph of an important ancient Egyptian discovery. Is this just a rehash of much older news??? Well, we know the Iranians do it, so why not the Egyptians too? I suspect this is just a re-report of an earlier discovery.

Israeli Newspaper Edits Out Women Cabinet Members

Story from Middle East Online First Published 2009-04-05, Last Updated 2009-04-06 08:31:23 Image from the story: top photo is the "before", bottom photo is "after" editing to remove the two women. Israeli newspapers edit out women in Cabinet photo Newspapers aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers tamper with inaugural photograph of Israeli Cabinet. JERUSALEM – Two women serve in Israel's new Cabinet, but some Israelis would rather not see them. Newspapers aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers tampered with the inaugural photograph of the Cabinet, erasing ministers Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver. Ultra-Orthodox newspapers consider it immodest to print images of women. The daily Yated Neeman digitally changed the photo, moving two male ministers into the places formerly occupied by the women. The weekly Shaa Tova simply blacked the women out, in a photo reprinted Friday by the mainstream daily Maariv. No response was available from the two papers. During the election, campaign posters featuring female candidate Tzipi Livni were defaced near ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. (AP)
Absolutely disgusting. This is no different than the treatment of females by the Taliban. They worship the same god, just by a different name. The denigration of women by both sects is the same. We won't see this on the 6 PM news in the states, and that's disgusting, too. Why can't we see the truth of radicalism on both sides of the equation in the Middle East on prime time news coverage in the USA? This treatment of women is TOTALLY ABHORRENT to the norms of a modern secular society.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This and That

Happy Easter! I ate way too much, I feel like a bloated bear! But my sister makes the best ham and gravy, yum!
Here is some reading that I found interesting:
Russia is facing a depopulation time-bomb
Check out the - as the Daily Grail put it - "cosmic hand ripping the fabric of the universe" (image above). So cool!
How do you tell a shaman from a priest? Sounds like the lead-in to a one liner...
Epigram of lamb - who knew it was something to eat? Not me!
Susan Polgar's latest column is available in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Foxwoods Open

April 8 - 12, 2009: Final standings for the chess femmes in the Open Section (127 players): 40 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2322 PA W111 L11 D109 W114 L52 L51 W83 W81 ~50 4½ 42 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2315 NY D100 W125 W91 L5 W83 L6 W54 L19 ~53 4½ 88 WIM Sonia Zepeda 2126 ELS L23 W60 L56 D76 W74 L46 L49 W106 ~78 3½ 108 WFM Liulia Cardona 2181 CUB L20 L45 L101 W127 D68 L110 W111 L90 ~— 2½ 114 IWM Lorena Mar Zepeda 2202 ESA D16 D47 D37 L40 L23 D91 L97 L95 ~119 2 127 Natasha Christiansen 1865 MA D46 L105 L52 L108 L118 L96 L102 U— ~120 ½

Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant Joins GM Ranks

Another woman has earned the coveted GM title! In an article in the about newly-minted GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant who lives in and plays under the flag of Scotland, it states there are now 15 women in the world with the GM title; However, I counted more, and this list compiled from the top 100 women in the world currently active players at the FIDE website does not include GM Susan Polgar and GM Nona Gaprindashvili, who are inactive - there may be more inactive female GMs I've missed. This list shows current world ranking, title, country (flag), current rating, and date of birth: 1 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2693 (1976) 2 Koneru, Humpy g IND 2612 (1987) 3 Hou, Yifan g CHN 2590 (1994) 4 Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2549 (1979) 5 Dzagnidze, Nana g GEO 2541 (1987) 7 Zhao, Xue g CHN 2531 (1985) 8 Cramling, Pia g SWE 2528 (1963) 9 Sebag, Marie g FRA 2527 (1986) 11 Kosteniuk, Alexandra g RUS 2516 (1984) 12 Chiburdanidze, Maia g GEO 2506 (1961) 16 Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan g SCO 2492 (1968) 18 Zhu, Chen g QAT 2491 (1976) 19 Hoang Thanh Trang g HUN 2490 (1980) 21 Xu, Yuhua g CHN 2479 (1976) 24 Lahno, Kateryna g UKR 2478 (1989) 34 Socko, Monika g POL 2456 (1978) 45 Peng, Zhaoqin g NED 2439 (1968) The FIDE list shows 17 active female GMs; adding S. Polgar and N. Gaprindashvili brings the count to 19. Please feel free to add others I've missed - maybe I'm not putting the right search terms into google, but I could not find a current list of ALL female GMs on the internet!

The Templars and the Shroud of Turin

Those pesky Templars, they keep cropping up in the strangest places! Here's a story that says that for awhile, they were holders of the shroud reputed to be Christ's burial wrapping. Normally I would raise an eyebrow at a story like this and move on, but this information is coming from Vatican experts - sooooo... Of course, that still doesn't answer the question everyone wants to know - is it real or is it a medieval fake? From The Times of London April 6, 2009 Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican Richard Owen, in Rome Medieval knights hid and secretly venerated The Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican said yesterday in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic’s missing years. The Knights Templar, an order which was suppressed and disbanded for alleged heresy, took care of the linen cloth, which bears the image of a man with a beard, long hair and the wounds of crucifixion, according to Vatican researchers. The Shroud, which is kept in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral, has long been revered as the shroud in which Jesus was buried, although the image only appeared clearly in 1898 when a photographer developed a negative. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives, said the Shroud had disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and did not surface again until the middle of the fourteenth century. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Dr Frale said its fate in those years had always puzzled historians. However her study of the trial of the Knights Templar had brought to light a document in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times. Dr Frale said that among other alleged offences such as sodomy, the Knights Templar had been accused of worshipping idols, in particular a “bearded figure”. In reality however the object they had secretly venerated was the Shroud. They had rescued it to ensure that it did not fall into the hands of heretical groups such as the Cathars, who claimed that Christ did not have a true human body, only the appearance of a man, and could therefore not have died on the Cross and been resurrected. She said her discovery vindicated a theory first put forward by the British historian Ian Wilson in 1978. The Knights Templar were founded at the time of the First Crusade in the eleventh century to protect Christians making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Order was endorsed by the Pope, but when Acre fell in 1291 and the Crusaders lost their hold on the Holy Land their support faded, amid growing envy of their fortune in property and banking. Rumours about the order’s corrupt and arcane secret ceremonies claimed that novices had to deny Christ three times, spit on the cross, strip naked and kiss their superior on the buttocks, navel, and lips and submit to sodomy. King Philip IV of France, who coveted the order’s wealth and owed it money, arrested its leaders and put pressure on Pope Clement V to dissolve it. Several knights, including the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, were burned at the stake. Legends of the Templars’ secret rituals and lost treasures have long fascinated conspiracy theorists, and figure in The Da Vinci Code, which repeated the theory that the knights were entrusted with the Holy Grail. In 2003 Dr Frale, the Vatican’s medieval specialist, unearthed the record of the trial of the Templars, also known as the Chinon Parchment, after realising that it had been wrongly catalogued. The parchment showed that Pope Clement V had accepted the Templars were guilty of “grave sins”, such as corruption and sexual immorality, but not of heresy. Their initiation ceremony involved spitting on the Cross, but this was to brace them for having to do so if captured by Muslim forces, Dr Frale said. Last year she published for the first time the prayer the Knights Templar composed when “unjustly imprisoned”, in which they appealed to the Virgin Mary to persuade "our enemies” to abandon calumnies and lies and revert to truth and charity. Radiocarbon dating tests on the Turin Shroud in 1988 indicated that it was a medieval fake. However this had been challenged on the grounds that the dated sample was taken from an area of the shroud mended after a fire in the Middle Ages and not a part of the original cloth. After the sack of Constantinople it was next seen at Lirey in France in 1353, when it was displayed in a local church by descendants of Geoffroy de Charney, a Templar Knight burned at the stake with Jacques de Molay. It was moved to various European cities until it was acquired by the Savoy dynasty in Turin in the sixteenth century. Holy See property since 1983, the Shroud was last publicly exhibited in 2000, and is due to go on show again next year. The Vatican has not declared whether it is genuine or a forgery, leaving it to believers to decide. The late John Paul II said it was “an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age.” The self proclaimed heirs of the Knights Templar have asked the Vatican to “restore the reputation” of the disgraced order and acknowledge that assets worth some £80 million were confiscated. The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ, based in Spain, said that when the order was dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1307, more than 9,000 properties, farms and commercial ventures belonging to knights were seized by the Church. A British branch also claiming descent from the Knights Templar and based in Hertfordshire has called for a papal apology for the persecution of the order. ***************************************************************************** Lo and behold, there is an American Templars organization.
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