Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XI! Update - 4:37 p.m.


A quick update.  First - total registered players 78!!!! That's one more than in Challenge X, which is great.

NO chess femmes playing in the Open.  Rachel Ulrich, who was the last femme standing in the Open, opted to play in the Reserve section instead after Sandra Pahl pulled out of the Open and Nicole N. withdrew due to illness.  In Rachel's shoes, I would have made the same decision.  At least in the Reserve section she will be playing for one of 2 Goddesschess cash prizes; there were no prizes offered in the Open for 1 chess femme playing.

The good news is that as of the end of Round 2, Rachel is 2 for 2 and among the leaders! Yippee!

R 2 cross-table for the chess femmes:

3. Pahl, Sandra R (3)............ WI 1508 L13 W32 A25 -U- 1.0
7. Huang, Alena (7).............. WI 1435 L18 L11 A29 -U- 0.0
9. Huang, Joanna (9)............. WI 1394 W19 L17 A35 -U- 1.0
12. Ulrich, Rachel J (12)......... IL 1345 W2 W15 A17 -U- 2.0
30. Ilchenko, Isabella (30)....... WI 917 L22 L35 A33 -U- 0.0
32. Ulrich, Susie (32)............ IL 750 W24 L3 A23 -U- 1.0

Some Pictures of the Backyard

It's too brisk for me to comfortably work outdoors today, but I did take a break from searching for my ancestors long enough to run outside and take a few shots of the blooming Newport plum trees in the backyard.

KL Open Chess Tournament

The 3rd Kuala Lumpur Chess Championship 2010 (Malaysia) April 6 - 12, 2010, was won by GM Hou Yifan (CHN 2570) in clear first with 7.5 of 9.  Hoorah!

The little girl is growing up.  I have to dis the outfit (don't they have fashion magazines in China?), but she looks great - love the "edge" she's given to her usual short haircut - those long bangs and side fringe frame her face nicely and she's got cheekbones! 

WIM norms were earned by two Indian women players: Bhakti Kulkarni and Mitali Patil.

I tried to pick out the other chess femmes who participated in this 111 player event (it's difficult because I am not familiar with the naming conventions, so I'm going mostly by their earned titles and the few players whose names I recognize as chess femmes) - final standings:

24 WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram VIE 2318 5,5
30 WGM Sukandar Irine Kharisma INA 2316 5,5
45 WIM Muminova Nafisa UZB 2338 5,0
48 WFM Medina Warda Aulia INA 1959 5,0
50 WCM Sihite Chelsie Monica INA 1957 5,0
52 CM Bhakti Kulkarni IND 2242 4,5
53 WGM Fatianova Tatiana RUS 2303 4,5
58 WFM Mitali Madhukar Patil IND 1981 4,5
66 WGM Melnikova Yana RUS 2272 4,0
80 WFM Dewi Aa Citra INA 1945 4,0
82 WCM Ivana Maria Furtado IND 1839 4,0
84 WIM Hoang Thi Nhu Y VIE 2200 3,5
91 WFM Smith Vivian J NZL 1806 3,5
93 WCM Kadek Iin Dwijayanti INA 1887 3,0
97 WFM Nur Najiha Hisham MAS 0 3,0
101 WCM Nur Nabila Azman Hisham MAS 1829 3,0

My apologies to any chess femmes I may have omitted.  A complete list of players and their final standings at

Hikers Discover 1500 Year Old Ruins in Kashmir

From Yahoo News (India):

Expeditioners find ancient artefacts in Kashmir
Thu, Apr 15 11:33 AM
Two Expeditioners of South Kashmir's Anantnag district have stumbled upon what they believe to be a 1500-year-old archaeological site in Zalangam village, 85 kms from here, and have suggested to the ASI to undertake excavation work there.

"When we set out for an expedition in the forest, little did we know that we were to discover an ancient civilization," Malik Tariq, an oncologist at S K Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, and Abdul Rouf, an engineering student told reporters.

They said they were researching the springs of Zalangam when they stumbled upon the site where artifacts, bricks, Neolithic-age rocks, stone sculptures and coins were present. The site is located in a forest at a distance of two km from the famous spring of Kokernag in Anantnag.

"It is a prospective archaeological site. It might prove that Kashmiris were exposed to industrial culture much before 5th century when iron ore was used", Rouf and Tariq said.

The duo said they could not excavate the entire field "without any official authorization" and instead consulted the valley's renowned archaeologists and historians.

After discovering the site on February 28, they have been scanning the area and collecting artefacts like pottery, terracotta tiles, bricks, stone sculptures, metal slag and ancient coins.
The duo also released a monogram 'Zalangam: Archaeological Discovery' that offers vivid details of the findings.

The duo suggested that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) take over the site and initiate excavations.

Noted historian Fida Mohammad Hassnain said artifacts like pottery; tiles and bricks found at the site were of the Buddhist era. "Buddhist monks who participated in the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir may have visited the place before 5th century," he said.

Hassnain, who is also the former director of archives, archaeology, research and museums, said, "The discovery also depicts that iron ore was used by Kashmiris in the past".
Oh no - removing artifacts from context - bad, bad, bad!  And they "wrote a monogram" on their discoveries?  What?  Oh yeah, nothing like inviting all the looters into the area, if they haven't already been there.  Geez!  Why not give out GPS coordinates while you're at it, dudes!  If - and that is a big if - the ASI ever gets someone out to investigate the site, there won't be anything left to investigate. 

Looting Matters: Extending the Memorandum of Understanding/USA and Italy

From PR Newswire:
Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Italy

SWANSEA, Wales, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on next month's hearing to consider an extension to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the US State Department and Italy.

In January 19, 2001 a "Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Italy Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archaeological Material Representing the Pre-Classical, Classical and Imperial Roman Periods of Italy" was signed. One of the aims was to reduce the trade in antiquities that had been removed from their archaeological contexts by illicit means.

A hearing of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) has invited further submissions for its meeting in early May 2010. The committee has to decide whether or not to renew the MOU.

The past decade has seen well over 100 antiquities returned from high profile North American museums. Among the pieces are the Sarpedon krater from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, a marble statue of Sabina (wife of the Roman emperor Hadrian) from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, and an acrolithic statue of Aphrodite from the J. Paul Getty Museum. As recently as 2009 three antiquities were seized from a New York auction-house and returned to Italy; in addition, a fragment of a Roman wall-painting from Boscoreale was spotted at an unspecified New York gallery.

Italy has made major strides forward in reducing the amount of looting sustained by its archaeological sites. It appears that the MOU with the United States has reduced the demand for recently-surfaced antiquities. Museums, private collectors and dealers have been less willing to acquire or handle objects whose documented collecting histories cannot be traced back to the period prior to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Sebastian Heath, Vice President for Professional Responsibilities at the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), says: "The MOU between the US and Italy serves the interests of the international community by reducing looting and preserving information about the Ancient World. Works of Greek and Roman art, both large and small, are of most value to scholars and museum goers when we know where they came from so that we can better understand their role in the cultures that produced and used them. Extending the MOU will demonstrate the joint commitment of the United States and Italy to expanding knowledge of our shared heritage."

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XI!

Today is the day, and it's a beautiful but brisk one here in Milwaukee.  The sky is clear blue and the sun is warm and bright, but the wind is off Lake Michigan so it's coolish out there - definitely jacket weather!  It's a perfect day for a good turnout at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XI.  Action starts at 10:00 a.m. local time (about an hour from now).

Pre-registration was 60 players.  "Walk-up" registration has been pretty good the past few Challenges - averaging around 20 players.

Registration in the Open for chess femmes wasn't great - there were three, but when I checked the list this morning there was only one listed.  That won't qualify her for a prize, as the number of prizes for ladies in the Open was dependent on how many play - and at least two are needed to play for one prize, three for two prizes, four for three prizes.  One of the ladies who had pre-registered had to withdraw due to illness, and it looks like another switched to the Reserve section.

Two Goddesschess prizes are offered in the Reserve section and five chess femmes have pre-registered.

So, our experiment with the prize structure to try and encourage more chess femmes to play in the Open has been a dismal failure. 

I expect the folks at the tournament will be updating the Southwest Chess Club blog periodically -- Good luck to all the players!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Java Dates of Homo Erectus All Screwed Up!

Hmmm, Homo Erectus was co-existing with modern humans on Java?  This is news to me but then, I'm not an anthropologist or archaeologist.  Personally, I think it's baloney - and this latest article does, indeed, demonstrate that the dating is totally screwed up.  It cannot be trusted.  The dating of the layers cannot be trusted in which the remains were found - and that goes for the layers above and below, too.   I think it's rather funny (got a good laugh out of it when I first read the article), but also sad.  I don't understand why this problem is not being addressed by anyone.  Are the people who work in these fields all too frightened to rock the boat? 


'Java Man' takes age to extremes
New dating of Indonesian strata produces unexpected results
By Bruce Bower Web edition : 2:34 pm

ALBUQUERQUE — New age estimates for Homo erectus fossils on the Indonesian island of Java have physical anthropologists scratching their crania.

After convincing most of their colleagues that H. erectus may have persisted on the Indonesian island of Java as recently as 30,000 years ago — late enough to have coexisted in Asia with modern humans for more than 100,000 years — anthropologists presented new analyses April 14 suggesting the fossils in question may actually predate Homo sapiens by hundreds of thousands of years.

It all depends which radiometric method you use to assess the fossils’ age, New York University anthropologist Susan Antón reported at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Antón and an Indonesian colleague lead a team that first announced in 1996 that sediment at two H. erectus sites on Java dates to between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago. Those “remarkably young” dates, based on analyses of radioactive elements in fossil-bearing sediment, suggest that H. erectus survived well into the era dominated by modern humans, Antón said. Many researchers now accept those dates.

But a new analysis, based on measurements of radioactive argon’s decay in volcanic rock above and below the fossils, puts H. erectus’ age on Java at roughly 550,000 years. It’s not clear why these estimates differ so dramatically and which one is more accurate, Antón said.

“It’s confusing right now, but I suspect that Homo erectus’ age on Java is still relatively young,” said Christopher Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum. A new analysis of sediment on Java suggests that animal fossils on the island date to between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago, providing a possible framework for when H. erectus lived there, he added. [This is a classic CYA response.]

Ancient Writing: Texts Show Similarities Between Ugaritic and Arabic

Maybe it's just because I'm tired - this article seems vague.  At first I thought it was perhaps implying that ancient Ugaritic stemmed from ancient Arabic languages, but then after reading it again I thought it meant the other-way around.  Still not precisely clear and too tired to read it again tonight!  Is it talking about findings from a current specific dig taking place in Syria? Perhaps you can figure it out and let me know.

From the Global Arab Network
Archaeologists: Ancient Texts Show Similarities between Arabic and Ugaritic Languages
Friday, 16 April 2010 01:33

According to archaeologists, the ancient texts found in Ugarit revealed important information on the intellectual and cultural life in Ugarit, detailing the various aspects of life in the ancient city.

The finds highlight similarities between the Ugaritic language and Arabic in terms of meanings and grammar.

Director of Lattakia Department of Archaeology Jamal Haidar said excavations in Ras Shamra uncovered documents that illustrate the attempts of an Ugaritic scribe at teaching his students the alphabet, noting that scribes were respected in the city and royal court of Ugarit and that they were highly cultured and knowledgeable.

Ancient texts show that Ugaritic scribes learned foreign languages and taught them in addition to giving special attention to their mother tongue, the Canaanite language.

Haidar pointed out that the discovered small clay tablets show that the alphabetical order of the Ugaritic language is very similar to the Arabic and Greek alphabets with only few differences.

He added that the Ugaritic language is also close to Arabic in grammar and terms, with around 1000 words that are the same in Arabic, making up more than two thirds of the Ugaritic vocabulary, noting that some Ugaritic words are not found in classical Arabic, but rather in the common dialect of Lattakia.

Director of the Ugarit site Ghassan al-Qaiem said that, according to British scientist John Healey, the people of Lattakia are the heirs of the people of Ugarit, which makes it natural for Ugaritic terms to remain in the local dialect, adding that this facilitated the study of Ugaritic texts.

The Ugaritic language, discovered by French archaeologists in 1928, is known only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit, near the modern village of Ras Shamra, Syria. It has been extremely important for scholars of the Old Testament in clarifying Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed more of the way in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures.

Ugaritic was "the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform[1]". Literary texts discovered at Ugarit include the Legend of Keret, the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel), the Myth of Baal-Aliyan, and the Death of Baal — the latter two are also collectively known as the Baal Cycle — all revealing a Canaanite religion.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death by Childbirth Declining Around the Globe

If it is (I'm sceptical), I applaud the news.  In the 21st century it is entirely unacceptable that women are still dying while trying to give birth to children!  Children - and their mothers - are our most precious commodity.  Without them - there is no 'us.'  There will be no world of  - people - without women having children.  So why are women (and often their unborn children with them) still dying?  Why has this not become a critical political issue, particularly in countries where the birth rate has dropped drastically?

Story from The New York Times
Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe
Published: April 13, 2010

For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980.  [Big caveat:  In the United States the rate rose from 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1980 to 17 in 2008.  Article from Reuters, April 14, 2010.  Why?  Certain pundits would have us believe it's because more women are choosing to have delivery by C-section; evidently they think this is a lazy woman's way of delivering a baby.  Yeah, right.]

As you know, I've been spending a lot of time lately delving into the ancestry of my family.  Yeah - I heard about and read about women who died after being worn out by year after year of childbirth - way back in the Olden Days, of women in their 50s giving birth to children because menopause had not yet caught them and given them some blessed relief!  But until I started digging around in my family's past, I didn't realize --

My paternal great-great grandmother Marie Louise Adele Seguin dit Laderoute, who was born about 1828 in Quebec, bore the following chlidren for Antoine Villeneuve:

Edward, about 1851
David (my great-grandfather, who emigrated to the US in about 1878 or 1879 and changed his name to Newton (ville = town; neuve = new), about 1853
Joseph, about 1856
Noe (also called Noah in the English translation), about 1858
Mary (Marie), about 1861
Peter, about 1863
Nettie, about 1874
Benjamin, about 1877

Benjamin was born when Marie Louise Adele was about 50 years old, possibly 51.  She bore at least these eight children, and perhaps more who may have died in-between the 10-year censuses in Canada, which started in 1851.  (I could not locate a record for the family in 1851, 1861 or 1881; I have census information from 1871, 1891 and 1901, when Marie Louise Adele was about 73 years old).

My paternal great-grandmother, Laura Bailey Newton (married David Villeneuve a/k/a David Newton in 1880), bore the following children:

Pheobe, about 1881
Florence, about 1884,
Frederick, about 1885
Gertrude, about 1887
Edith, about 1891
Myrtle, about 1892
Joseph Leonard (also known as Leonard Joseph), about 1896
Margaret, about 1902
Pearl, about 1903

Nine children.  I know Margaret died because she was not listed on the 1910 U.S. Census and she was too young to have been married at that point.

On the maternal side of the family I haven't advanced as far in my research. My mother's maternal grandmother, Mary Makoski (various spellings - Makuskie, Makuski, Makeskie), bore the following children:

Florence, about 1895
Dora, about 1897
Martha (my maternal grandmother), June 12, 1899
Edwin, about 1902
Walter, about 1903
Vladdie, about 1904
Lucy, about 1905
Bonaslav, about 1909

Martha, my maternal grandmother, had eight children - seven daughters (Lorraine, Ruth, Caroline - my mom, Christina a/k/a Christine, Dorothy (Dolly), Lillian, and Marjorie (Margie)), all of whom survived childhood, and her last child, a boy, who either died while being born or shortly after, according to what my mom told me.

My mother's paternal grandmother, Josephine Jablonski, bore at least 17 children according to the 1900 U.S. census.  I have record of the following children:

Annastasia, about 1878 (did not survive to the 1890 Census)
Severy (a/k/a Severin), about 1880
Balbina, about 1883
Salomia, about 1884
Walter, about 186
Hannah, about 1887
Martha, about 1889
Johanna, about 1891
Susannah, about 1892
Benon, about 1895
Julia, about 1897
Joseph (my maternal grandfather), about 1898
Tekla, about 1898 (I don't know if Joseph and Tekla were twins, or just born about 10 months apart)
William, 1900
Theresa, about 1902
Esther, about 1904

I'm not listing all of these offspring to toot the horn of my prolific family.  I find it sad, actually, that once my ancestresses said "I do" - they sure as hell did - to a life of constant pregnancy until they either wore out and died from nearly yearly pregnancies (which none of them did, amazing to me) or managed to reach menopause - or perhaps they kicked their husbands out of the bedroom for awhile.   The numbers of children that these women bore don't lie.  They demonstrate how it was back in the day of little or no birth control for "proper" married women (other than abstinence - ha - you can see how good that worked!) and "timing."  Unfortunately, this is a situation that is still very much with us today in countries that can least afford to continue to produce more children than can be sustained.  Aw, don't get me started.

Tomb of New Kingdom Scribe Uncovered

From Yahoo News:

By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Writer Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press Writer – Wed Apr 14, 6:34 pm ET

CAIRO – The elaborate tomb of an ancient royal scribe has been unearthed in a discovery that will help illuminate the relationship between Egypt and its eastern neighbors, the antiquities chief said Wednesday.  (Image: Undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, details are seen in the tomb of Ken-Amun, an overseer of the royal records during the 19th Dynasty (1315-1201 B.C.), near Ismailia, 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Cairo in Egypt.)

The intricately decorated tomb belonging to Ken-Amun, who was in charge of overseeing the royal records during the 19th Dynasty (1315-1201 B.C.), was unearthed in the village of Tell el-Maskhuta, 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Cairo, said Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Tell el-Maskhuta was a settlement in the Ismailia governorate containing a garrison that supplied and armed the ancient Egyptian army before the troops went on military campaigns east of the border.

Ken-Amun's tomb is that first Ramesside tomb to be discovered in Lower Egypt and is built from mud brick, consisting of a rectangular room with a stone-domed ceiling. Hawass said the inscriptions would aid in the understanding of Egypt's relationships with its neighbors to the east.

Inside the tomb, the walls are decorated with reliefs of funerary scenes, including Chapter 12 of the Book of Dead — an ancient text intended to help the deceased in the afterlife — and a scene of women mourning.

The wall's inscriptions tell that the scribe's wife was called Isis and worked as a musician for the God Atum. A large limestone pillar also was discovered depicting the God Set, the god of darkness and chaos, in front of the 19th Dynasty king of the time, whose name was not written. On the same pillar, the name of the capital of the Hyksos — an Asiatic people who invaded the eastern Nile Delta in the 12th Dynasty was found. [What would the name of the Hyksos capital, which was in power about 300 years earlier (controlled parts of Egypt about 1650 to 1550 BCE), be doing on a memorial in this tomb?  The explanation that occurs to me is that it was recycled from a Hyksos memorial or tomb, and perhaps a lazy worker did not chip out what he was supposed to chip out from the stone, and the construction overseer looked the other way.

People continued to use the site as a cemetery, and 35 Roman-era graves were also discovered during the same excavation.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities also said a stolen toe belonging to the father of King Tutankhamun has been returned to Egypt. [How do they know it is Akhetnaten's toe without doing DNA tests???]

The toe of King Akhenaton, which was stolen in 1907 during the examination of the pharaoh's mummy, was returned by Frank Ruehli, a DNA specialist, according to Hawass.

Hawass made the announcement Wednesday after signing an agreement with Switzerland to combat smuggling antiquities.
Associated Press Writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of "Hyksos" in 6th graf)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Elephants and Hannibal

Those poor elephants.  Loyal, faithful, intelligent and generally peace-loving creatures. Incredibly strong - and sensitive. Their pods are ruled by the oldest female.  They would follow the human trainer that they bonded with through hell and high-water.  And, unfortunately for those 37 elephants who accompanied Hannibal on his march through the Alps to conquer Rome, they did just that.

In today's modern era elephants are still herded over the Alps - to raise money for charities. Poor elephants. Who gives a hoot about them?

Not sure how I missed this, but here it is now, from The Times Online:

February 17, 2010
Hannibal’s real Alpine trunk road to Rome is revealed
Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent

. . . What Hannibal, the Carthaginian leader, did in 218BC is well known: “I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome,” he had vowed at the start of the campaign. With Rome poised to attack Carthage across the strait from Sicily, he decided the best way to tackle the Romans was head on.

His army of more than 30,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 37 battle elephants from Morocco marched through the autumn from Spain, which he had taken. When they reached the Alps some of Hannibal’s soldiers died of exposure in the bitter cold, while others fell to their death; only about half of them reached northern Italy.

Argument still rages over where the Alpine crossing took place. While there is general agreement that Hannibal moved up the Rhône from Avignon almost to Valence, from there onwards every valley and pass has had a case made for it being the route across the mountains into the plain of the Po near Turin. In 1959 an elephant called Jumbo was taken over the Col du Clapier by the British Alpine Hannibal Expedition to prove the route’s feasibility. This adventure was immortalised in John Hoyte’s book, Trunk Road for Hannibal. In 1988 the cricketer Ian Botham did the same thing, but with three elephants, in aid of leukaemia charities.  . . .

Miscellany - on Tuesday Night!

I haven't done a Friday Night Miscellany for quite awhile.  Today I found four stories I thought would be great for this format, so here it is - Tuesday night, I'm watching "The Biggest Loser" and thinking about how the heck I can find the correct Marie Louise Adele Seguin dit Laderoute who was my great-great grandmother on my father's side and anxious to get back to digging through censuses, marriage, birth and death records for my ancestors.

So, without further ado - TA DA! Tuesday Night Miscellany!

A different perspective on the sexual abuse of children scandal currently engulfing the Church of Rome by Maureen Dowd.  I don't always see eye-to-eye with her but in this column she's sooooo totally right on.  Those priests - gutter scum - every one who committed sexual crimes against children should be taken out, shot, and left to rot for the carion.  But first I would cut off their nuts and stuff them down their throats.  Crude - yes - but effective.

To shave or not to shave, that is the question
Seems some women want to walk around with hairy legs and think they're making some kind of "statement." Yeah, wow, some statement, ladies. Just be sure you shave your pits. Unshaved arm pits smell, even if you use antisperspirant. I've travelled a little in Europe where women aren't as keen on personal hygiene as most Americans - they just think we're anal and bourgeois. But let me tell you - unshaved pits SMELL BAD, even in the winter-time. And you don't have to get too close to a funky underarm either, to experience the, er, aromatic effects. Eeeeuuuuuwwwwwww. The epitome of Euro fashion - a drop dead gorgeous frock, perfect hair, make-up and accessoriess, hairy legs, moldy crotch "perfume" and funky underarms.

On Chinese hacking into computers
From a reporter based in China whose yahoo email account was hacked.  No one wants to say what the truth is that's staring everyone in the face - it's the frigging Chinese doing all the hacking.  They are liars and thieves and worse, and believe they are SUPERIOR to all races and cultures in the world today. The Chinese in mainland China today think they can do whatever they want to get ahead - and there are no consequences for breaking laws, stealing, lying, cheating, killing.  The government approves, too.  They think the rest of us are cockroaches to be stomped out.  They don't care that they're depleting all of their ground water and polluting their land for the next 1,000 years.  They're looking to take what WE have - first in Russia, then in Europe, and finally, here in the Americas.  Think I'm paranoid?  Just take a look at who's running things in China today - and why.  That provides all the answers.  Do a litle digging.  Don't just accept what Newsweek or NYT or Fox News says.  And be scared.  Be very, very scared.

More on China and cheating as an accepted lifestyle
There are no consequences even for those who are exposed as plagerizers and cheaters. In fact, people who refuse to cheat are not trusted and are considered abnormal - they are blocked from promotions and ostracized in other ways, too.
I got a good laugh reading this article from The Wall Street Journal:
Millionaires going bankrupt and facing foreclosure - boo hoo hoo, my hearts bleeds - NOT!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Breast Cancer and the 'Fat Taboo'

From Isis:

Discovery News
Analysis by Benjamin Radford

Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:57 AM ET
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and obese women are up to 60% more likely to develop cancer as compared to healthy-weight women. A new study found that up to a third of breast cancers in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more.

This is wonderful news, and has important implications for human health. Will women take the advice to heart and start eating less and exercising more?

Fat chance.

Two-thirds of American adults are overweight—more of them women than men—yet fewer than one-quarter are dieting. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control found that women eat over 300 more calories a day than they did in 1971. Fewer than one-third of Americans get regular exercise.

Most Americans, including women, are fat and happy. Of course everyone would love to cut their cancer risk by one-third—unless it means skipping that extra scoop of ice cream, or jogging three times a week. Reducing cancer risk isn't that important. Until you get it.

As Associated Press reporter Maria Cheng noted, there is a reluctance on the part of many doctors to make too much of this study: "Any discussion of weight and breast cancer is considered sensitive because some may misconstrue that as the medical establishment blaming women for their disease."

That's right: there is an institutionalized "fat taboo," in which some fear that if women (most of whom are overweight) are (truthfully) told that they can reduce their risk of cancer by slimming down will blame themselves if they get cancer. Some activists are also concerned that encouraging overweight women to lose weight will somehow lead to an epidemic of anorexia. The reasoning goes that it may be better to just pretend that there's nothing women can do to reduce their risk of cancer than to tell them to slim down and get in shape. Of course, this advice cuts both ways: If women (or men, for that matter) are told that they can cut their risk of cancer by as much as a third, it means they are empowered to do something, to take charge of their own health.

No one should be "blamed" for getting a disease, but nor is it a good idea to simply ignore the person's lifestyle choices that greatly increase their chances of getting that disease. If a person chooses an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.), doctors should not be shy about warning them the risks they are assuming.

As Cheng noted, some breast cancer groups agree: "Karen Benn, a spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group, said it was impossible to ignore the increasingly stronger links between lifestyle and breast cancer. 'If we know there are healthier choices, we can't not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty,' she said. 'If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women.'"

Personally I find the idea that women need to be treated like children insulting; I believe women are smart enough that they can handle the knowledge that they have a significant amount of control over their chances of developing cancer. Knowledge is power, and if, in the process of saving lives, some women get their feelings hurt because they are told to lose weight and get fit (or feel guilty if they don’t), then too bad.

Unusual Roman Era Female Mummy Uncovered in Bahariya Oasis

From Yahoo News:

Roman-era mummy found in Egyptian oasis
By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer Diaa Hadid, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 52 mins ago
CAIRO – Egyptian archaeologists discovered an intricately carved plaster sarcophagus portraying a wide-eyed woman dressed in a tunic in a newly uncovered complex of tombs at a remote desert oasis, Egypt's antiquities department announced Monday.

It is the first Roman-style mummy found in Bahariya Oasis some 186 miles (300 kilometers) southwest of Cairo, said archaeologist Mahmoud Afifi, who led the dig. The find was part of a cemetery dating back to the Greco-Roman period containing 14 tombs.

"It is a unique find," he told The Associated Press, confirming that initial examinations indicate a mummy is inside the coffin.

The carved plaster sarcophagus is only 3 feet (1 meter) long and shows a woman wearing a long tunic, a headscarf, bracelet and shoes, as well as a beaded necklace. Colored stones in the sarcophagus' eyes gave the appearance she is awake.

Afifi said they had not dated the new find yet, but the burial style indicated she belonged to Egypt's long period of Roman rule lasting a few hundred years and starting 31 B.C.

He said his team first thought they had stumbled across a child's tomb because of its diminutive stature, but the decorations and features indicated it was a woman. Afifi said it was still unclear who the woman was but said it was most likely she was a wealthy and influential member of her society, judging by the effort taken on the sarcophagus.

Mummies of people of diminutive stature have been unearthed in other parts of Egypt, where they appeared to have importance in local religions at the time, he added.

The archaeologists also found a gold relief showing the four sons of the Egyptian god Horus, other plaster masks of women's faces, several glass and clay utensils and some metal coins.  The metal coins are being checked to see whether they can date the era of the tomb more precisely.

Afifi said the find suggested the presence of a larger tomb complex, but said humid weather in the area may have destroyed similar sites.  He said none of the other 13 graves were as complete as that of the woman.

The find was made after archaeologists had made a series of exploratory digs ahead of a local council plan to build a youth center on the land. The area is known for its relics from the Greco-Roman period.

Bahariya Oasis rocketed to fame a decade ago with the discovery of the "Valley of the Golden Mummies," a vast cemetery that has yielded up hundreds of mummies, many covered in gold leaf, from the Greco-Roman period.  Those sarcophagi were decorated in a more traditional ancient Egyptian style, rather than the Roman style of the current find.

The discoveries from this period indicate the comparative wealth and prosperity of the oases at the time due to their location on major desert trading routes.

Southwest Chess Club: Action this Thursday!

Blossoming Flower Power Swiss: April 15, 22 & 293-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and U1600). Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5.00. (One ½ Point Bye Available for any round (except round three) if requested at least 2-days prior to round). TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec.

Action starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. Registration is 6:30-6:55 p.m. Registration closes at 6:55. If you arrive after first-round pairings are prepared, you will have to take a 1/2-point bye in the first round.

However, if you want to play but anticipate being a few minutes late, please e-mail Robin Grochowski or Tom Fogec, or call Robin (414-744-4872 or 414-861-2745) prior to 5:30 p.m. on April 15, so he can include you in the pairings. If you need a first round bye please let Robin or Tom know as soon as possible and you can have one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Augusta - They Allow Tiger But They Kill the Squirrels!

Oh, barf  - and barf, barf, barf, barf...

No squirrels to be found in Augusta during the 2010 Masters' Golf Tournament, at which (gag me) Tiger Woods, the ultimate representation of what a man should not be, is - front and center- and he's getting all the hoo-haww press attention.  Did I mention gag me?

More important to me is the absence of squirrels at the Augusta golf course - which means the course manager is using poison to kill any squirrel who may happen to visit the course's trees. Almost as disgusting as Tiger Woods.

Story.  I much prefer the card-playing squirrels.  Much more intelligent than Tiger Woods.

What Men Like -

Based on personal experience, men want beer, booze and good food, served by babes with big hooters and big butts, but if it's an intimate one-on-one dinner, they'll take you instead.  Men are not picky when it comes to who they do the hoochey-koochey with... That is, if they are able to get to the point, er - point.  They think they want sex afterwards but they poop out shortly after the last spoon-full of food shoved down amidst various tones of belches (deepest is best)- and then they're out - as in passed out - for the rest of the night.  A good wife/mate/female companion/other makes sure to mess up one's hair and snuggle close to the near-corpse of the dearly beloved just before he starts to stir, so that the first thing he thinks he sees is a partner who had a rousing good night of sex (evidence = messed-up hair) and couldn't get enough of him because she/he is now entwined with him like a  - make up your own metaphor here.

Further evidence that men think with their penises first and their brains - well, almost never - second. Take a look at the article

What I do like about their Number One choice is that this was in the days before breast implants and Ursula Andress had her real breasts and that was her real body - and damn, she must have had to work really hard to get that "spare ribs" look (photo from article).  She was HOT long before the term was first coined and she was actually a real woman who, as far as I know, had no artificial body enhancements (breast implants and strategic lipo-suction, etc.)

The Top Five Women guys chose are:

1. Ursula Andress, as Honey Ryder (oh, please), 1962, "Dr. No"
2. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the "Alien" saga (INMO, she got better as she got older)

3. Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia  (in the gold bikini chained to Jabba the Hutt???)
4. Jane Fonda in 1968's "Barbarella" (yeah, she was hot, I saw the movie back then, mistakenly thinking it was a sci-fi epic and the then-boyfriend who took me was probably laughing up his sleeve all the whil.  But I distinctly remember, I did NOT let him kiss me when he brought me home, even though he was really cute, had a cool Beatles' cut and wore glasses! - I have always been a sucker for a man in glasses, don't know why)
5. Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961).  This one was a surprise!  I love AH's movies, particularly "Love in the Afternoon" with a masculine favorite actor Gary Cooper, they made it work despite the vast difference in their ages.  But frankly, Audrey in "Tiffany's" was not convincing to me as a pricey prostitute and her uber-thin body (no boobs or butt) has always struck me as concentration-camp era.  Hmmm, I guess some guys like their grown women in the pre-puberescent state, or looking nearly starved to death...eeeeuuuuuuhhhhh...

Women's "favoriite female actress in movies" picks:

1. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" - the judges thought it may have been because of AH's fabulous wardrope and "BOO-LAH" hair
2. Julie Andrews as Maria, 1965 "Sound of Music"
3. Julie Andrews as the Governess/Nanny in 1964 "Mary Poppins" (photo, right)
4. Judy Garland, 1939 "The Wizard of Oz"
5. Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, prostitute, in 1990 "Pretty Woman"

Board Game Studies XIIIth Colloquium: April in Paris...

April in Paris.  Ahhhh, romance, romance, and more romance...  Here I'm stuck in Milwaukee dreading doing yard clean-up, which I should really be out there doing right now.  Ach!  But I can dream about Frank Sinatra serenading me during a moonlit stroll along the Thames...

This is the one Board Games Studies Colloquium I wanted to go to, but couldn't - right at the end of tax season and NO ONE, I do mean NO ONE, gets off during the end of tax season, which culminates at the April 15, 2010 deadline and mad rushes to the post office to get things postmarked prior to midnight.  Sigh.

This programme is provisional and may be modified without previous notice.

Wednesday 14 April
morning — Chairperson: Ulrich Schädler

9:30-10:15 : Jean-Marie Lhôte (invited speaker), Opening Lecture
Coffee break — Registration

Mathematical Games in History

11:00-11:30 : Jorge Nuno Silva, "George Berkeley's Ludus Algebraicus"
11:30-12:00 : Alda Carvalho, João P. Neto, Carlos Santos, Jorge Nuno Silva, "History of Nim Games"
12:00-12:30 : Discussion

afternoon — Chairperson: Alex de Voogt
Ancient and Medieval Archaeology

14:00-14:30 : Anne-Elizabeth Vaturi, "Fragments of a game of 58 Holes among the Pratt ivories in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)"
14:30-15:00 : Claudia-Maria Behling, "Games involving nuts as a topos for childhood in Late Antiquity and pre-Christian time"
15:00-15:30 : Marko Jankovic, "Board game accessories in Roman graves of Moesia Superior (more or less present Serbia)"
Coffee break
15:45-16:15 : Mark A. Hall & Katherine Forsyth, "On the compatibility of Gaelic ‘Fidcheall’ and its P–Celtic cognates with the Roman introduction of Tafl-like games to the British Isles"
16:15-16:45 : Mark A. Hall, "Black to move: a look at some jet chess pieces from Britain"
16:45-17:15 : Ulrich Schädler, "Le plateau de jeu d'Autun : romain ou Renaissance ?"
17:15-17:45 : Discussion

Thursday 15 April
morning — Chairperson: Jorge Nuno
Maths, Computers & Games

9:30-10:00 : Tristan Cazenave, Abdallah Saffidine, "Monte-Carlo Hex"
10:00-10:30 : Fabien Teytaud, "The Game of Havannah: nice challenge for computers"
Coffee break
10:45-11:15 : Jean Mehat, Tristan Cazenave, "Ary, a general game playing program"
11:15-11:45 : Olivier Teytaud, "The Game of Go: recent progress for an old game"
11:45-12:15 : Tristan Cazenave, Nicolas Jouandeau, "Towards deadlock free Sokoban"
12:15-12:45 : Discussion
Lunch / Déjeuner

afternoon — Chairperson: Thierry Depaulis
20th-Century Archaeology

14:00-14:30 : Michel Boutin, "Les jeux de pions en France dans les années 1900 et leurs liens avec les jeux étrangers. L’invention d’un jeu singulier : l’Attaque"
14:30-15:00 : Edward Copisarow, "Chronologies using British 19th-century Intellectual Property records: Ludo, Agon and Reversi"
15:00-15:30 : Gadi Kfir, "Hunting for Board Games in Poland"
Coffee break
16:00-16:30 : Fred Horn, "Lost treasures: hidden gems of abstract/strategic board games within the pages of Games & Puzzles nos 1-77 (1972-80)"
16:30-17:00 : Tom Werneck, "The impact of the Award ‘Spiel des Jahres’ on the Development of the Market for Board Games in Germany"
17:00-17:30 : Discussion

Friday 16 April
morning — Chairperson: Anne-Elizabeth Vaturi
Games in History

9:00-9:30 : Arie van der Stoep, "Footsteps of the past" (On alquerque and draughts)
9:30-10:00 : David H. Caldwell & Mark A. Hall, "What do we really know about the Lewis chessmen?"
10:00-10:30 : Phil Winkelman, "A∂ elta stelpur: an Icelandic chimera"
Coffee break
10:45-11:15 : Thierry Depaulis, "Three early 17th-century printed board games by the Veuve Petit in Paris"
11:15-11:45 : Phillippa Plock & Adrian Seville, "The Rothschild Collection of printed board games at Waddesdon Manor"
11:45-12:15 : Bruce Whitehill, "‘The Checkered Game of Life, 1860 – Milton Bradley’s First Game"
12:15-12:45 : Discussion


Visits of the Louvre (Oriental and Egyptian Antiquities)
and of the Cabinet des Médailles (BnF)

Groups 1 and 3 leave FIAP at 14:00; Group 2 leaves FIAP at 15:00.


Official dinner at the “Au Moulin Vert” Restaurant, 34bis rue des Plantes, 75014 Paris

Saturday 17 April
morning — Chairperson: Jean Retschitzki
Traditional Games

9:30-10:00 : Alex de Voogt, "The archaeology and anthropology of Syrian mancala"
10:00-10:30 : Peter Michaelsen, "Haretavl - hare and hounds as a board game"
Coffee break
10:45-11:15 : Piotr Adamczyk, "Short history of board games in Poland (from around 1st cent. A.D. till 17th cent.)"
11:15-11:45 : Irving Finkel, "A very early counting system in traditional Indian games
and some implications"
11:45-12:15 : Paul Lequesne, "Des contes et des jeux"
12:15-12:45 : Discussion
Lunch / Déjeuner

afternoon — Chairperson: Tristan Cazenave
Games in Theory and in Practice

14:00-14:30 : David Parlett, "What’s it all about? – Abstraction and representationalism in games"
14:30-15:00 : Michel Van Langendonckt, "Vers une typologie des interactions sociales dans les jeux de pions"
15:00-15:30 : Michele B. King, "From gangsta’ to gamester: an entertainment-education strategy for a school-based gang prevention program"
15:30-16:00 : Dores Ferreira, Pedro Palhares, Jorge Nuno Silva, "The ability to play games and its connection with pattern recognition"
Coffee break
16:15-16:45 : Michel Quenault, Tristan Cazenave, “General Gaming : une classification des jeux basée sur les mécanismes possibles de l’arbitre pour une généricité des jeux plus étendue”
16:45-17:15 : Carlota Dias, Jorge Nuno Silva, Pedro Palhares, "Mathematical Games for the Blind"
17:15-17:45 : Manouk Borzakian, "Pistes pour une approche géographique des jeux de plateau"
17:45-18:15 : Discussion

End of colloquium

Further information on the Board Games Studies colloquia here.

Restoring 'Lost' Languages of Native American Tribes

From The New York Times:

Indian Tribes Go in Search of Their Lost Languages
Published: April 5, 2010
As far as the records show, no one has spoken Shinnecock or Unkechaug, languages of Long Island’s Indian tribes, for nearly 200 years. Now Stony Brook University and two of the Indian nations are initiating a joint project to revive these extinct tongues, using old documents like a vocabulary list that Thomas Jefferson wrote during a visit in 1791.

The goal is language resuscitation and enlisting tribal members from this generation and the next to speak them, said representatives from the tribes and Stony Brook’s Southampton campus.

Chief Harry Wallace, the elected leader of the Unkechaug Nation, said that for tribal members, knowing the language is an integral part of understanding their own culture, past and present.

“When our children study their own language and culture, they perform better academically,” he said. “They have a core foundation to rely on.”

The Long Island effort is part of a wave of language reclamation projects undertaken by American Indians in recent years. For many tribes language is a cultural glue that holds a community together, linking generations and preserving a heritage and values. Bruce Cole, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which sponsors language preservation programs, has called language “the DNA of a culture.”

The odds against success can be overwhelming, given the relatively small number of potential speakers and the difficulty in persuading a new generation to participate. There has been progress, though, said Leanne Hinton, professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, who created the Breath of Life program in California in 1992 to revive dormant languages in the state.

Representatives from at least 25 languages with no native speakers have participated in the group’s workshops so far, she said. Last month Ms. Hinton and a colleague at Yale received a federal grant to create a similar program based in Washington, D.C.

Rest of article.
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