Saturday, June 12, 2010

Emerald "Pearl" Found in Cao Cao's Mouth?

Well, I'm not sure exactly what this headline means, as the text of the artitcle said nothing about this emerald bead (it is not a green-colored pearl, it is a polished emerald bead) being found in the mouth of Cao Cao's mummified remains! 

Rare emerald pearl inserted in Cao Cao's mouth found
13:12, June 12, 2010

Archaeologists have found an emerald pearl in Cao Cao's tomb with an estimated value of more than 10 million yuan, according to Chengdu Business.

The first 100-square-meters chamber of Cao Cao's tomb has been ransacked by thieves many times, but archaeologists still unearthed nearly 300 complete artifacts from it. Of those, the most special and valuable is the emerald pearl. According to an expert on collection, the pearl could be the only one in the world and nobody has ever seen it except in history books.

In addition, they also found a complete iron sword at the tomb passage. Archaeologists said they have found iron swords before, but none of those was as complete as this one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Southwest Chess Club: Early Summer Events!

A reminder of action starting this Thursday, June 10, 2010:

Summer Steamy Humid Swiss: June 10, 17 & 24
3-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and U1600). Game/100. USCF Rated.
EF: $5. (One ½-Point Bye Available for any round (except round 3) if requested at least 2-days prior to round).
TD is Fogec; ATDs Grochowski & Becker.

Games begin at 7:00 sharp this Thursday night, so please arrive early enough to register.
Contact if you would like to play in the event, but want to request a Round 1, 1/2-point Bye.

EXTRA: "David's Endgame Prize"
There will be a $5.00 "Endgame" prize for this tournament, which will be awarded by David Dathe. This prize will be awarded for the most interesting endgame played in the tournament. Mr. Dathe will be the judge of any games submitted, and he will annotate the endgame for the Southwest Chess Club Blog. Mr. Dathe plans to continue this for all our longer time control tournaments this year (not rapid or blitz games), and one of the rules is that no one can receive the prize two tournaments in a row. All tournament players are encouraged to submit a game. Please submit the game to the TD. The game needs to be legible (readable) so the endgame can be properly analyzed.

The Southwest Chess Club will be at Polish Fest again this year, hooray!

Come out Saturday night, June 19 to play 4-time Wisconsin State Champion, NM Bill Williams.
Southwest Chess Club at Polish Fest, June 18-20 (Milwaukee Summerfest Grounds - at the Lakefront - just go east until you can't go anymore, and ask for directions - Milwaukeeans are happy to point you in the right direction :))

Here is the schedule of Southwest Chess Club Simuls at Polish Fest:

FRIDAY, June 18
12-4 NM SheldonGelbart
4-8 NM Mike LaBudde
7-11 Allen Becker

12-4 Nolan Hendrickson
4-8 David Dathe
7-11 NM Bill Williams

SUNDAY, June 20
12-4 Ray Hayes
4-8 TBA
7-11 Tommy Schneider

Visit the Southwest chess Club blog to learn more about their activities.

Visit the Polish Fest website - one of the oldest ethnic festivals in Milwaukee held during our "Summer of Festivals" at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park (popularly called the Summerfest Grounds, after the very first summer festival established by our long-time mayor, Henry Maier, back in the 1960's) on our gorgeous Lake Michigan shoreline.

Spain to Reopen Altamira Caves to Tourists Despite Warnings

Oh my Goddess.  Is Spain really that hard up for tourist money that they are willing to most likely inflict irreparable harm and ruin on an irreplaceable sacred place of early mankind?  Un-fricking-believable.  What the hell are those dudes thinking?

Story from The New York Times
Published: June 8, 2010
Filed at 1:30 p.m. ET

MADRID (AP) -- A cave complex boasting prized prehistoric paintings will reopen after eight years of closure, despite scientists' warnings that heat and moisture from human visitors damage the site known as the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art.

The Culture Ministry and the site's board of directors said Tuesday that visits to the Caves of Altamira in the northern Cantabria region will resume next year, although on a still-unspecified, restricted basis.

The main chamber at Altamira features 21 bison painted in red and black, which appear to be to charging against a low, limestone ceiling. The site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. The paintings are estimated to be 14,000 to 20,000 years old.

Discovered in 1868, the cave complex became a tourist magnet and by the 1970s received 3,000 visitors a day. Body heat and moisture from people's breath were blamed for a gradual deterioration of the images, and from 1982-2002 only a handul of visits were allowed each day.

The cave was completely shut off to most visitors after scientists detected green mold stains on the paintings in the main chamber.

A replica of the caves was built in a museum in 2001.

In April of this year, the government's main scientific research body, called the CSIC, recommended that the caves remain closed. ''The people who go in the cave have the bad habit of moving, breathing and perspiring,'' CSIC researcher Mariona Hernandez-Marine wrote then.

The site's board voted to reopen, however, calling the caves too valuable to keep closed.

''Altamira is an asset we cannot do without,'' the Cantabria region's president, Miguel Angel Revilla, said.

He said he had had the misfortune of saying no to Jacques Chirac when the former French president once asked to see the caves, and more recently to the visiting president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon.

''The other day I suggested we could even invite (Barack) Obama. The important thing is that at least somebody can see this symbol,'' Revilla said.

A committee has been appointed to set the new rules for how many people can visit the caves each day and will meet for the first time next week.
See the Altamira Museum in Spain.

Iranians Fake Video of Defector and Say He Was Kidnapped

Yeah, so according to the official script of the Iranians, this dude was abducted by the Great Satan's Agents of Evil and forced to spill all of the Iranian government's nuclear development secrets. He was mercilessly tortured and drugged - they would know all of the intimate details, of course, since the Iranians are so good at torturing their own citizens. And lo and behold, this kidnapped, abused and tortured scientist just happens to have free and easy access to a computer with a camera and headset so he can make a video of himself to tell everyone in Iran that he was abducted and tortured, and now he's living in the American Southwest and doing just fine (presumably after the Agents of Evil turned him loose). Oh - almost forgot -- and the fabulous Agents on the Side of the Angels, Allah's Raiders, somehow managed to get hold of this video and it is now being broadcast on Iran's official news network.  Right...   Well, I suppose there are some Iranians who may believe it, no matter what.  Remember what P.T. Barnum said...

From BBC News:
Videos deepen mystery over Iran nuclear scientist Amiri
Tuesday, 8 June 2010 20:02 UK

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ark of the Covenant: Interesting Twist!

Story from
Published 15:36 30.05.10
Latest update 15:36 30.05.10
Scholar's Ark of the Covenant claims spark African storm
Tudor Parfitt claims 700-year-old bowl-shaped relic is a copy of the sacred object made by one of Israel's lost tribes that may have wound up in Southern Africa.
By The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Tudor Parfitt has spent years chasing a theory that a lost tribe of Jews wound up in Southern Africa. But his latest leap has landed him in a minefield.

The subject at hand is this British scholar's contention that the remains of a 700-year-old bowl-shaped relic which he tracked down in a Zimbabwe museum storeroom in 2007 could be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant that carried the Ten Commandments. (Image source).

According to African legend, white lions of God and a two-headed snake guarded the "drum that thunders" in a cave in southwestern Zimbabwe's sacred Dumbwe mountains. Parfitt's theory has sparked fierce reactions from some Zimbabwean scholars, who suspect a plot to superimpose foreign origins on what is purely a product of African culture.

Having long disappeared from public view since its discovery in the 1940s, the artifact is now on display at the Harare Museum of Human Sciences. It is about 45 inches by 24 inches in diameter and 27 inches tall with a pattern of shallow engraving on the outside that could have held gold threads. Scorch marks on the base inside were possibly left by primitive gun powder.

Parfitt, a professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University of London's prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies, says he first heard of the vessel during his two-decade search for Jewish tribes lost in Africa.

At the center of that research is a southern African ethnic group variously called Lemba, Remba or waLemba. Parfitt says 52 percent of them carry a Y chromosome known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH) - unique to ancient priestly Jewish communities and raising the possibility they are descended from Aaron, Moses' brother. Other groups in Zimbabwe have no CMH.

The waLemba are also set apart from other tribes by such Jewish customs as observing a weekly Sabbath, practicing circumcision, shunning pork and slaughtering animals by methods similar to Jewish kosher rules.

Parfitt acknowledges that theories counter to his are "wholly plausible," and the museum is careful not to take sides. The materials accompanying the exhibit that opened this year outline both the theories behind the relic.

One says the original Ark of the Covenant may have been destroyed when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem in 586 B.C., that several copies likely were made and that one was taken to Ethiopia by Prince Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Another could have found its way to ancient Zimbabwe, says the exhibit.

The other posits that it is a purely African relic, and that according to legend, was made by waLemba craftsmen for royal elders to give them magical powers.

In the Zimbabwean Shona language, the artifact is called "Ngoma Lungundu," the "drum that thunders," while the waLemba call it "the voice of God."  Parfitt says that according to oral tradition, the waLemba could have been among peoples who left Judea in biblical times and migrated through Yemen to east Africa, Ethiopia and beyond, bringing the ark with them.

Eminent Zimbabwean historian Rob Burrett disputes Parfitt's theories.

"He is on the wrong track. Wooden drums - ceremonial drums and war drums with great powers similar to those attributed to the ark — are an integral part of African culture," Burrett said.  The genetic test "doesn't prove anything," he said, noting that early European explorers of the east African coast found a strong presence of Arab and Jewish traders moving into the African interior. "These people were certainly not celibate and would have created mixed-blood communities along the way," Burrett said.

African traditionalists believe the Ngoma is a royal drum so powerful that it imploded and was rebuilt on the original wooden base 700 years ago. Indeed, a splinter from the top of the artifact has been carbon-dated to about 1300, making it probably the oldest surviving wooden object in southern Africa.

Only carbon-dating of the entire object, including its scorched base, would resolve the debate, but Zimbabwe authorities are reluctant to let that happen. In a nation striving to eradicate tribalism, a result favoring Parfitt's claims might stir tribal divisions by implying the waLembas' origins are not truly African.

"Everyone has placed this object in a context of their own," conceded Giles Mutsekwa, co-minister of home affairs, the body in charge of archives and antiquities.

One context that arouses anger in Zimbabwe is race. During the colonial era, Europeans defended white-supremacist ideas by arguing - wrongly - that Africans could not have built advanced civilizations such as the massive citadel of stone houses called Great Zimbabwe. Harald von Sicard, the Swedish-German missionary who discovered the Ngoma, theorized in the same vein — that the artifact couldn't have been crafted by Africans. Burrett describes von Sicard as "an old-fashioned, Old Testament" preacher whose views bordered on racism.

Parfitt says he spent weeks living in a waLemba community looking for clues about the ark and getting nowhere. He says he was about to give up when he met a retired train driver in a bar in the southern city of Bulawayo. The man said he recalled hauling a boxcar of artifacts 440 kilometers (275 miles) from Bulawayo to the capital, Harare, for safekeeping during the country's war of independence.

Parfitt searched the Harare museum in 2007, and there it was - in a dusty storeroom littered with mouse droppings. But after he published his findings a year later, controversy flared.

"Some people thought it was all a sinister plot and I was interfering. There was open hostility," he said.

Tempers erupted at a February meeting on the topic at the main Zimbabwe university, with one Zimbabwean academic, historian and former education minister Aenias Chigwedere, storming out of the discussion, denouncing the presence of the British scholar.

Ken Mufuka, a professor of history from Zimbabwe who teaches at Lander University in South Carolina, called Parfitt a "publicity-monger" and "a charlatan" in a newsletter published in Harare.

Burrett, who is also an associate researcher at the Bulawayo museum, said the furor is rooted in the nation's more recent political history.

"There is a fear of undermining the post-independence myth that we are one people, not divided by tribe or origin," he said. "It's as though we are in denial of having a multicultural society."
Here is an article on the subject from a few years ago:  article from Time Magazine, published on February 21, 2008.

The Oriental Institute Has a Blog!

Well, the OI may have a dozen blogs - but I found this one tonight!!!!

The Oriental Institute: Fragments for a History of an Institution

Tres cool, check it out.  BTW, great graphic!

Evidence of Ancient Navigation?

From Thaindian News Online:

Boffins find mystery seafaring ancestor in the Philippines
June 4th, 2010 - 6:07 pm ICT by ANI -

London, June 04 (ANI): Anthropologists have discovered a foot bone during an excavation of Callao cave in Luzon, which has led to researchers’ claim that humans reached the islands off south-east Asia at least tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Armand Mijares of the University of the Philippines Diliman, and his colleagues insist the bone is definitely human, and they are provisionally calling it a lightly built modern human.

Mijares pointed out that its shape was unusual, and its size fell within the ranges of Homo habilis and Homo floresiensis.

It suggests that humans arrived on Luzon, the largest and northernmost major island in the Philippines, at least 67,000 years ago.

“The arrival of people in Australia 50,000 to 60,000 years ago is a good comparison,” New Scientist quoted expedition member Florent Detroit of the National Museum for Natural History in Paris, France, as saying.

“It seems coherent for us to think that in; south-east Asia and Australia, humans had sea-faring capabilities by 60,000 to 70,000 years ago.” (ANI)

CONFUCIUS: His Life and Legacy in Art

Information from the China Institute in New York (a wonderful place, BTW):


His Life and Legacy in Art
ends June 13, 2010

During this final week, a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue of CONFUCIUS will be sold at half its original price.

CONFUCIUS: His Life and Legacy in Art
by Lu Wensheng and Julia K. Murray

Exhibition catalogue, 2010. Paperback; xvii, 117 pages: ill.
NOW $16.50 (50 % OFF the regular price of $33.00)

Please check our China Institute Store at GET DISCOUNT SHIPPING PRICES FOR ONLINE ORDERS.

Although the arts of Buddhism and Daoism are well known, the study of art forms related to Confucianism is only just beginning. Confucianism, a philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius (551 BCE - 479 BCE), pervades the customs of many Asian cultures from ancient times to the present day, but we are left to wonder, who is Confucius? In this ground-breaking exhibition, intriguing aspects of Confucius and Confucianism are explored through material and visual culture, explaining his teachings and ritual practices. Selected from the Shandong Provincial Museum and the Confucius Museum in Qufu, Shandong, the hometown of Confucius, this group of artworks, including paintings, bronzes, jades, books, costumes, stone carvings, and enamel vessels represent the first exhibition organized in the United States that illuminates Confucius as an historical figure and how he has been venerated for the past 2,000 years.

Gallery Hours:
Monday - Sunday 10am - 5pm
Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 8pm FREE admission from 6pm-8pm
Closed in between exhibitions and on major holidays.

Adults $7/ Students and seniors (with valid ID) $4/ Children under 12 FREE
Members of China Institute, Asia Society, and Channel Thirteen FREE

Experience the exhibition online at

Discover China Through Art (DCTA)

Our art education program combines an introductory video and hands-on workshop with a gallery tour for a complete experience of Chinese art and culture for groups of up to 30 people. To make reservations, please call 212-744-8181 x 147 or email

This exhibition is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

China Institute
125 East 65th Street
New York, New York 10065

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chicomecoatl and Chimalman

I think these two goddesses must be related - I found them in Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" --

Mexican Goddess similar to Demeter, called Heart of the Earth, and ancestress of all peoples.  No god could equal her in power.  She was usually accompanied by a young savior son, a fertility-sacrifice.  Her angelic messengers were seven serpents.(1)

Neumann, G.M., 182.

Virgin mother of the Aztec savior Quetzalcoatl; one of "three divine sisters."  She was the same Triple Goddess worshipped around the world in Virgin, Mother, and Crone aspects.  See Trinity.

So it doesn't seem to make any difference - Old World or New World - the goddess archetypes are the same.

When Did "Bitch" Become a Bad Word?

I came across this website about cuss words in Hebrew which had me laughing. In looking over the list, several of the words had to do with females.  For instance, #shar-moota - slutty slut.  Er, just how does one be more of a slut than a slut is already?  Is a slutty slut like the Queen of Sluts?  What determines what makes one particular slut more slutty than another slut?  Is it the number of sexual encounters she has?  Something else (the mind pales at the thought of what that "something else" might be...) What makes a slutty slut?  Is there a name for a male slut - you know, the dudes who brag about those "marks on the bedpost" or "notches on the belt."  Is it something related to  gunk or the like???

There are two words on that list of Hebrew cuss words for bitch:  zonna - whore, bitch; and kelba - bitch. While my linguistics are rusty, I believe that kelba is from a Semitic root word (klb -- kalb or kelb) for dog and the addition of the "a" at the end denotes a female = bitch, the classic definition that exists yet today in English and used in dog-breeding circles to designate a "female dog." 

That got me to wondering - has BITCH always been a derogatory term for a female?  Or was it corrupted somewhere along the line?  Why would the ancient Semitic peoples use the term "female dog" in a derogatory sense as applied to human females, and when did this come about? 

According to my trusty "The Woman's Eycyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" by Barbara Walker:

[Bitch] became a naughty word in Christian Europe because it was one of the most sacred titles of the Goddess, Artemis-Diana, leader of the Scythian alani or "hunting dogs."  The Bitch-goddess of antiquity was known in all Indo-European cultures, beginning with the Great Bitch Sarama who led the Vedic dogs of death.  The Old English word for a hunting dog, bawd, also became a naughty word because it applied to the divine Huntress's promiscuous prietesses as well as her dogs.(1)

Harlots and "bitches" were identified in the ancient Roman cult of the Goddess Lupa, the Wolf Bitch, whose priestesses the lupae gave their name to prostitutes in general.(2)  Earthly representatives of the Wolf Bitch ruled the Roman town of Ira Flavia in Spain, as a queen or series of queens named Lupa.(3)

In Christian terms, "son of a bitch" was considered insulting not because it meant a dog, but because it meant a devil - that is, a spiritual son of the pagan Goddess.


(1) Potter & Sargent, 208.
(2) Murstein, 76.
(3) Hartley, 237.
Hmmmm, well, I don't think the term became an insult just during the advent of Christianity, although I think Walker raises some key points.

I won't pretend I've studied this - and I've got to get outside and prune some more hedges while the sun is shining so this is going to be conveniently short :) - but I think it is more a cultural thing.  The speakers of semitic languages (such as the cultures stemming from Mesopotamia, including the Hebrews) seemed to hold dogs in little regard while speakers of hamitic languages (such as the ancient Egyptians) and pre-Christian speakers of Indo-European languages seemed to hold dogs in higher regard.
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