Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Such Good News About Women from Around the World

In contrast to what's going on here in the USA and elsewhere that is upbuilding, generous and loving involving women (see posts below), here are two stories from earlier today that - well, they speak for themselves:

Doctors remove nails allegedly hammered into maid by employers
By Iqbal Athas, For CNN
August 27, 2010 9:43 a.m. EDT
Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- Doctors at a Sri Lankan hospital operated for three hours Friday to remove 18 nails and metal particles allegedly hammered into the arms, legs and forehead of a maid by her Saudi employer.

Dr. Kamal Weeratunga said the surgical team in the southern town of Kamburupitiya pulled nails ranging from about one to three inches from Lahadapurage Daneris Ariyawathie's body. He said doctors have not yet removed four small metal particles embedded in her muscles.

"She is under heavy antibiotics but in a stable condition," Weeratunga said.

Sri Lankan officials, meanwhile, met with Saudi diplomats in Colombo to urge an investigation into the incident.

"It was cruel treatment which should be roundly condemned," said L.K. Ruhunuge of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.

He said the Sri Lanka government has forwarded to Saudi authorities a detailed report on the incident including statements from Ariyawathie.

Ariyawathie left Sri Lanka on March 25 to work as a housemaid in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after the bureau registered her as a person obtaining a job from an officially recognized job agency.

She was held down by her employer's wife while the employer hammered the heated nails, Ruhunuge told CNN. She apparently had complained to the couple that she was being overworked, Ruhunuge said.

The nails were hammered into her arms and legs while one was on her forehead, he said.

Rest of article.

Officials: Schoolgirls, teachers sick from poison gas
August 25, 2010
Dozens of schoolgirls and teachers were sickened Wednesday by poison gas in Afghanistan, medical and government officials said.

The latest incident, this one at a high school, is the ninth such case involving the poisoning of schoolgirls, said Asif Nang, spokesman for the nation's education ministry.

Dr. Kabir Amiri said 59 students and 14 teachers were brought to the hospital, and were faring better.

"We don't have good equipment to verify the kind of gas that they were poisoned with, but we have taken their blood tests to send to Turkmenistan for verifying the type of gas" that was used, Amiri said.

Many Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school during the Taliban's rule from 1996 to 2001. Girls' schools began reopening after the Islamist regime was toppled. The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, estimates that 2 million Afghan girls attend school these days.

But female educational facilities, students and teachers have come under vicious attack as the insurgency has strengthened and spread from Taliban strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

A report compiled last year by the humanitarian agency CARE documented 670 education-related attacks in 2008, including murder and arson. Much of the violence in what CARE called an "alarming trend" occurred at girls' schools.

June: Another suspected poisoning at girls school
May: What caused illness in girls school?
April: Taliban suspected of sickening students

CNN's Matiullah Mati contributed to this report.

If you think I'm being hysterical, I remind you that less than a week ago the Taliban publicly stoned a woman and a man to death for wanting to marry each other against the wishes of their families.  This was called "adultery."

Taliban stones couple for adultery in Afghanistan - USATODAY.comAug 16, 2010 ... Taliban militants stoned a young couple to death for adultery after they ran away from their families in northern Afghanistan, ...

Taliban stone couple to death for adultery - World news - South ...Aug 16, 2010 ... Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan stoned a young couple to death for adultery, which a rights group said was the first confirmed use ...

Taliban Stone Couple For Adultery: First Confirmed Case Since 2001 ...Aug 17, 2010 ... Human rights activists are indignant as the Taliban stone a couple for the first time since 2001 in Kunduz, Afghanistan. ...[Human rights activists are indignant?  They are INDIGNANT about such an atrocity?  What fricking planet are those people living on?]

Taliban Stones Couple to Death for Illegal... | GatherAug 17, 2010 ... Aug 17, 2010 The Taliban stoned a couple to death for illegal adultery in Afghanistan over the weekend in what was called the first time ...

We know what stripe the Taliban are.  Why is it so hard to believe they are attacking innocent children and teachers?  Every single Muslim in this country should be standing up on her or his rooftop shouting at the top of their lungs condemning the actions of these barbarians.  Why am I hearing - nothing?

Chess Femme News!

More Jen Shahade on women and chess.
USCF has a nice follow-up article at its website of which, coincidentally (ahem, cough cough) Ms. Shahade is webmistress.  Wait - is that sexist?  Hmmm, how about Webmaster?  Neh.  How about Webdominator - yeah, I like that.
Jennifer on Mainstream Chess: From NPR to the Flat Screen
By Jennifer Shahade
August 22, 2010

The latest from 9 Queens.
9 Queens has instituted a "Rewards" program for participants in 9 Queens events.
Upcoming 9 Queens events:
9 Queens Academy, August 29, 2010
Third Annual Kings & Queens Chess Tournament, September 4, 2010
Second Annual All Queens Chess Day, October 9, 2010

Current Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk has a busy schedule through the end of 2010 - from her blog (right column, tab "Next Events and Tournaments").
September 17-18: Women's World Blitz Championship, Moscow
September 19-October 4: Chess Olympiads, Khanty-Mansiysk
October 9: Simul, Switzerland
December 2-25: Women's World Chess Championship - Kosteniuk will be defending her title against a line-up of some very hungry chess femmes, including GM Koneru Humpy, GM Hou Yifan, GM Antoanetta Stefanova, Anna Ushenina, Lilit Mkrtchian, GM Pia Cramling (I believe she is playing), and an ever-expanding crowd of talented Georgian players!

Computer Labs for Kids: South Central Los Angeles! End Game!

Prior post on Classes 5 and 6. 
Prior post on Classes 3 and 4.
Prior post on Class 2 and Extra - the Pakistan Project!
Prior post on start of the South Central LA Project.

So much has happened!  Here is Shira Evans' blog on Class 7 along with several pictures of the kids.  Everyone looks extremely happy and having a good time. 

The graduates and Shira (she's the tall one at the end).
Last class - information, review and questions/answers and then it's actually Graduation!  August 17, 2010! 

Here is the most recent - perhaps the last - blog on this project - from August 28, 2010.  A well-deserved and heart-felt tribute to my bud, Shira. 

Probably by now Shira has 100 or more project requests backed up - all needing funding and, of course, needing her time to do it.  She has a job like most of us do, to support herself, so all of the organizing, fund-raising, planning, communications, arranging for volunteers, project support, purchasing, travel arrangements, etc. etc. etc. she does in her "spare" time.  Har! 

And, demon woman that I am about chess, I got her playing chess again - at least, online - and - well, guess what!  Oh, you'll never guess in a million years so I'll tell you - Shira made the August, 2010 USCF Quick Ratings List for Chess Femmes in the USA!  See - I told you she was good...

1 Abrahamyan, Tatev (12851435) CA USA 2220

2 Marinello, Beatriz (12537449) NY USA 2177
3 Ross, Laura R (12630804) NY USA 2156
4 Battsetseg, Tsagaan (12719650) MD USA 2121
5 Melekhina, Alisa (12726115) PA USA 2009
6 Robinson, Darrian (12925651) NY USA 1992
7 Chiang, Sarah (13091081) TX USA 1976
8 Mateer, Amanda Rae (12752032) AZ USA 1972
9 Zhu, Caroline (12888833) TX USA 1964
10 Root, Alexey Wilhelmina (10374651) TX USA 1949
11 Vicary, Elizabeth (12477355) NY USA 1942
12 Kats, Alena (12980885) NY USA 1940
13 Marshall, Abby (12784803) VA USA 1938
14 Tilenbaeva, Janyl (14245930) CA USA 1915
15 Niemi, Nicole (12640884) WI USA 1890
16 Yang, Sylvia Siyuan (12909161) TX USA 1883
17 Jamison, Courtney Nicole (12746751) TX USA 1873
18 Kerr, Julia K (12696374) NY USA 1868
19 Zhurbinskiy, Eve D (12878963) NJ USA 1858
20 Matlin, Anna R (12876169) NJ USA 1854
21 Peters, Epiphany M (12937939) MI USA 1846
Acon, Jennifer C (13313093) CA USA 1846
23 Litvak, Eve V (12799901) NJ USA 1841
24 Kennedy, Shernaz (11322000) NY USA 1838
25 Lelko, Rebecca A (12851444) OH USA 1832
26 Skidmore, Jennifer M (12457851) MI USA 1820
27 Wong, Kinsleigh (13314143) AZ USA 1817
28 Dai, Yang (12897613) VA USA 1814
29 Katz, Alanna (12621290) NY USA 1800
30 Liao, Simone (13228302) CA USA 1795
31 Ginzburg, Anna (12758604) NY USA 1790
32 Datta, Anjali (12783131) TX USA 1779
33 Diaz, Linda V (12908194) NY USA 1776
34 Xiang, Ellen (21029572) TX USA 1775
35 Christiansen, Natasha C (11366805) MA USA 1772
36 Flewelling, Heather (12605124) HI USA 1753
Mcgrew, Bethel (12842583) MI USA 1753
38 Goodkind, Lauren (12778910) CA USA 1744
39 Ferguson, Tamara (12778340) PA USA 1739
40 Venkataraman, Madhumitha (12911395) TX USA 1730
Xu, Yue (13533641) IL USA 1730
42 Goodkind, Barbara (12778604) CA USA 1728
Dong, Alice (13398051) NJ USA 1728
44 Munoz, Claudia E (13481236) TX USA 1720
45 Jones, Julia E (12811694) TX USA 1709
46 Bohannon, Angel (12782586) TX USA 1700
47 Liu, Rebekah (12933645) CA USA 1695
48 Poteat, Lilia Meilan (12920065) NY USA 1694
49 Chen, Jasmine (13217481) NY USA 1675
50 Koong, Joanne (13136738) CA USA 1673
51 Xiang, Evan (12966415) TX USA 1670
52 Francis, Emily (12800537) GA USA 1667
53 Liu, Hannah (13466272) TX USA 1665
54 Foley, Sayaka B (12918743) AZ USA 1656
55 Sobel, Simone (12607573) CA USA 1655
56 Alarie, Donna (12447542) MA USA 1651
Hua, Margaret M (13289400) MO USA 1651
58 Kormanik, Katharine (12641476) UT USA 1643
59 Evans, Shira L (12653192) CA USA 1640
Murra, Mayra (12880265) CA USA 1640
61 Chen, Michelle Xueying (12918779) MA USA 1634
62 O'Neill, Julie Anne (10457262) TX USA 1627
63 Carson, Anthea J (12614322) CO USA 1625
64 Walsh, Sara R (12457717) NC USA 1624
65 Regam, Jessica Shor (13467370) PA USA 1622
66 Vohra, Sonya (12902778) IL USA 1620
67 Wright, Polly P (11041957) NY USA 1618
68 Hung, Charlina (12878777) TX USA 1616
69 Karamsetty, Madhu Spanditha (12887934) VA USA 1614
70 Abderhalden, Katherine Louise (13405085) ME USA 1612
71 Alilovic, Miran (13184893) OH USA 1606
72 Ravi, Saisree (13334345) MN USA 1604
Tallo, Emily (13526540) IN USA 1604
74 Lin, Jessica (13039505) TX USA 1603
75 Costescu, Sanda (12430617) VA USA 1600
76 Zhang, Victoria (12923386) TX USA 1599
77 Mccreary, Taylor (13656773) CA USA 1597
78 Garg, Elisha C (12760037) CA USA 1594
79 Ahlemann, Brenda (13144702) UT USA 1593
80 Virkud, Apurva (13464694) MI USA 1591
81 Pierson, Emma J (12926393) VA USA 1589
Zhao, Annie (13473022) TX USA 1589
83 Lauser, Jessica T (12593821) AK USA 1587
84 Treiman, Lauren Sara (13190697) UT USA 1586
85 Mc Roberts, Holly J (12822112) NM USA 1581
86 Ramos, Kristin N (12862965) TX USA 1580
87 Bailey, Taylor (12824524) OR USA 1575
88 Roy, Ananya, Ms (12921220) GA USA 1572
89 Gibson, Graham (12777372) TN USA 1563
90 Eng, Rachael (13189664) AZ USA 1556
91 Ding, Kimberly (13218531) NJ USA 1552
92 Hu, Dianna (12938312) NY USA 1548
Fermin, Jasmine M (13281136) NY USA 1548
94 Tran, April (13446290) VA USA 1547
Wise, Katherine Elizabeth (14092530) CO USA 1547
96 Liu, Emily (13321018) TX USA 1543
97 Erabelli, Saroja (12932122) VA USA 1542
98 De Sa, Jacquelyn M (12837187) AZ USA 1536
99 Ballom, Stephanie (12757909) TX USA 1531
100 Kulkarni, Sukhada Nitin (13277014) OH USA 1529

Way to go, kiddo, and it's your move in our current game :)  Just wait until I retire and have the time to take some more lessons from Laura and Dan Sherman - just wait Shira, and World - there's a chess genius somewhere inside of me, just waiting to learn the difference between a pawn and a Queen, whom I regularly sacrifice with reckless abandon. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Huge Structure Discovered Near The Bent Pyramid

Still more news out of Egypt.  With those ever-shifting sands, archaeologists will still be discovering ruins 1,000 years from now!

At Heritage Key
'Huge' structure discovered near Snefru's Bent Pyramid in Egypt may be an ancient harbour
Submitted by owenjarus on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 18:27

The passageway of the newly discovered causeway.
It can easily fit two fully grown men. Its walls are three meters high and
built with mud brick. They end with a vault at the top. The walls
have bits of undecorated white and yellow plaster on them. Archaeologists
can tell that these walls have gone through four phases of plastering.
They believe that this causeway was maintained for at least 40 years.
Copyright: Cairo Department of the German Archaeological Institute.
Archaeologists have discovered a large structure – to the northeast of the 4,600 year old Bent Pyramid – which may be the remains of an ancient harbour. It connects to one of the pyramid’s temples by way of a 140 meter long causeway.

. . .

The structure itself is U-shaped, 90 meters by 145 meters. It was built with mud brick and has no wall on its east side. “Maybe this structure can be interpreted as (a) harbour or something like that,” said Dr. Nicole Alexanian of the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo. She said that it may have been beside water, “it’s possible that ships could enter by a canal in this area.”

Harbours are known from later Egyptian pyramids and may have served as a receiving point for the body of the pharaoh. It is unlikely, however, that the newly discovered structure was used for the burial of the Bent Pyramid’s creator – the pharaoh Snefru. It is widely believed by Egyptologists that his final resting place was the Red Pyramid, located two kilometres to the north of the Bent Pyramid.

. . .

The causeway runs due east of the temple and has a vaulted roof. This appears to be the earliest known instance in which a roofed causeway was used in an Egyptian pyramid complex.

“The walls - they built them to a really astonishing height, almost three meters,” said Dr. Alexanian. “It was like a tunnel - astonishingly it’s also very steep.”

The interior of the causeway contained a passageway more than 2.5 meters wide. Its walls were lined with undecorated white and yellow plaster which appears to have been maintained for a long time.

“Four phases of the plastering could be distinguished which attest that it was renewed several times,” said the team in a recent report. “From (the) state of weathering of the different plaster layers it can be inferred that the causeway was used for a substantial period of time i.e. at least 40 years.”

More on the "Lost City" Found at Kharga Oasis, Egypt

Curiosity, determination, and a little luck lead to the discovery of a lost city.

Yale Alumni Magazine (Online)
The Lost City
A discovery in the desert could rewrite the history of ancient Egypt.
September/October 2010
by Heather Pringle

Heather Pringle is a contributing editor at Archaeology magazine.

For much of the twentieth century, Egyptologists shied away from explorations in the vast sand sea known as the Western Desert. An expanse of desolation the size of Texas, the desert seemed too harsh, too implacable, too unforgiving a place for an ancient civilization nurtured on the abundance of the Nile. In spring, a hot, stifling wind known as the Khamsin roars across the Western Desert, sweeping up walls of suffocating sand and dust; in summer, daytime heat sometimes pushes the mercury into the 130 degree–Fahrenheit range. The animals, what few there are, tend to be unfriendly. Scorpions lurk under the rocks, cobras bask in the early morning sun. Vipers lie buried under the sand.

When Egyptologists finally began investigating the Western Desert, they gravitated first to the oases. But in 1992, a young American graduate student, John Coleman Darnell, and his wife and fellow graduate student, Deborah, decided to take a very different tack. The couple began trekking ancient desert roads and caravan tracks along what they called "the final frontier of Egyptology." Today, John Darnell, an Egyptologist in Yale's Near Eastern Languages and Civilization department, and his team have succeeded in doing what most Egyptologists merely dream of: discovering a lost pharaonic city of administrative buildings, military housing, small industries, and artisan workshops. Says Darnell, of a find that promises to rewrite a major chapter in ancient Egyptian history, "We were really shocked."

Map ©Mark Zurolo ’01MFA

Umm Mawagir, as the city is now known, flourished in the Western Desert from 1650 to 1550 BCE, nearly a millennium after the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza. This was a dark, tumultuous period of Egyptian history. Entire villages lay abandoned in the Nile River Delta, victims, perhaps of an ancient epidemic. Taking advantage of the turmoil, Bedouin groups from Syria and Palestine edged westward under the leadership of wealthy merchants, gaining control of the delta. Meanwhile, far to the south, Sudan's powerful Kerma kingdom expanded into southern Egypt. In the wake of these incursions, Egypt's pharaohs presided over a diminished realm whose capital lay at Thebes, in present-day Luxor.

For decades, Egyptologists thought the foreigners roamed the Western Desert at will, controlling the lucrative caravan trade. But the discovery of Umm Mawagir, in concert with finds from the more westerly Dakhla Oasis, says Darnell, reveals clearly how the Theban dynasty succeeded in extending its power and military might more than 100 miles into the hostile desert, building an entire city, and controlling a vital crossroads of trade routes. Umm Mawagir, says Darnell, is a testament to "the incredible organizational abilities of the Egyptians."

. . .

The growing mountain of data revealed just how much traffic once flowed along the Girga Road, which stretched 110 miles westward from Thebes in the Nile Valley to remote Kharga Oasis in the Western Desert. "This was a major route in antiquity," says John Darnell. And it possessed an impressive infrastructure to keep traffic moving. Along the road, the Darnells discovered a series of official outposts that had served as food and water depots for travelers. These depots dated to Egypt's Middle Kingdom, a period extending between 2125 and 1650 BCE. Yet the earliest Kharga Oasis settlements then known to scholars had been built more than 1,000 years after the end of the Middle Kingdom.

Who had created this elaborate desert infrastructure, and why? While mulling over these questions, Darnell recalled an inscription left by an unidentified Middle Kingdom pharaoh, most likely Monthuhotep II. In the text, the pharaoh proudly described his decision to incorporate the Western Desert oases into his Nile Valley realm. Most Egyptologists had flatly dismissed the statement, believing, says Deborah Darnell, that "pharaonic Egyptians had not the technological ability or knowledge to exploit the water resources in Kharga Oasis." But the string of Middle Kingdom outposts lying along the Girga Road suggested otherwise.

To the Darnells, all the new evidence pointed to the existence of a large Middle Kingdom city at the terminus of the Girga Road, in Kharga Oasis. No such urban center had ever come to light. But in 2000, while visiting the ruins of a temple in Kharga Oasis that dated to a much later period, Deborah spied a small fragment of a pharaonic-era amphora, protruding from a thick scatter of other pottery. "Few people know what pharaonic oasis pottery looks like," she notes—possibly the reason no one had ever before noticed it at the site. Strongly suspecting they were closing in on the lost city, the team began carefully surveying the immediate region.

In 2005, the team found a dense litter of ceramic molds for baking bread—vestiges of a large industrial bakery—about half a mile north of the temple. And this summer, John Darnell and his colleagues located the expansive ruins of a major undisturbed city, including the foundation of a significant mud-brick administrative building. Darnell, who leads the excavations there, named the desert metropolis Umm Mawagir—an Arabic phrase meaning, memorably, "Mother of Bread Molds."

. . .

While long years of patient excavation and research remain at Umm Mawagir, Darnell believes that the desert city will ultimately shed crucial light on a shadowy time in Egyptian history. For years, scholars have wondered how an impoverished and much diminished royal dynasty at Thebes in the late Middle Kingdom eventually managed to repel Egypt's foreign invaders and rise to grandeur once again in the New Kingdom—the age of Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, and Ramses the Great. The finds at Umm Mawagir now hint strongly at an answer. "The Theban dynasty," suggests Darnell, "may have used its military and economic control of the Western Desert to win the war against the invaders."

For Darnell, however, the real wonder is the administrative genius that went into creating a city in the desert more than 3,600 years ago. "People always marvel at the great monuments of the Nile Valley and the incredible architectural feats they see there. But I think they should realize how much more work went into developing Kharga Oasis in one of the harshest, driest deserts on Earth."

Trade Routes to the Nile Through Ancient Syria

New discoveries in Syria reveal ancient trade routes to Nile
Aug 26, 2010, 16:41 GMT

- An academic excavation team said Thursday it had uncovered artifacts which indicate that an ancient Bronze-Age kingdom in northern Syria had strong international trade relations with Nile river dynasties.

Peter Pfalzner, a professor at the University of Tuebingen and head of a joint German-Syrian archeology team, said that gifts originating from the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia were discovered in burial chambers at the ruins of a once royal city near what is now the Syrian city of Aleppo.

He believes the ancient kingdom enjoyed great wealth and wider international trade than previously thought, the Syrian news agency SANAreported.

The Qatna Kingdom wielded an extensive regional influence during its peak, from 2200 BC until 2000 BC.

The presence of a stone sphinx at the site dedicated by Ita, daughter of Amenemhet II of ancient Egypt, had already suggested the existence of some relations between the Nile pharaohs and Qatna. Thousands of kilometres separated the two kingdoms.

Pfalzner said that about 50 ancient gifts dating back to the late Bronze era (1650-1600 BC) were found in his latest dig, including a gold and lapis bracelet, a sheet of gold with a depiction of a palm tree, a small crystal jar, and a stone statue of a hippopotamus of Egyptian origin.

The area around Aleppo, located along the Euphrates river, holds several important ruins and archaeological sites.
(c) Deutsch Presse-Agentur

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Chess is identified as an extremely racist game in this week's "The Spoof" because it is, after all, darlings, based upon a black team versus a white team.*

Oh - I forgot to add it is also classist and homophobic. Homophobic? Oh well...

Govt urges people to boycott "Chess" because it's racist, classist and homophobic
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
After the fiasco about banning Medal of Honour on the ground that it encourages players to kill British soldiers (even though there are apparently no British soldiers in the game), the government now wants people to stop playing chess!

The government says that chess is all about racial domination, with players assuming an army based entirely on skin colour. To make matters worse, they use tactics which stereotype and belittle underprivileged members of society, such as sacrificing pawns. But worst of all, the game is homophobic because of its use of the Queen as the most powerful piece. A Home Office Minister said "The Queen is clearly intended to be a gay general".

More - if you dare...
Well, not quite.

Early Chaturanga pieces, from which, most chess historians tell us, our western chess is directly evolved, often used playing pieces with red and green markings on their "heads" so that players could tell the pieces apart. Highly prized Indian chess sets carved of elephant ivory (before the international ban went into effect that proscribed the trade of ivory items internationally, which has not stopped the trade for a single second - more slight of hand BS from our legislators) often show traces of the original red and green colors. 

Red men versus green men.  Hmmm... Communist Chinese versus Martians, anyone?

Depression-Era "Monopoly" Celebrates 75th Anniversary!

Honestly, not sure where I got this from.
Will Parker Brothers sue me?
Since we're in a frigging Depression right now in the USA (let's get real, economists - I have a degree in Economics, I know what the hell is going on), this is a good time to be celebrating the birthday of "Monopoly."  Won't get into all the details about law suits, etc., on who first invented the game and how - allegedly - Parker Brothers stole the game.  That's another story, unfortunately, one we seem to keep hearing over and over and over again with respect to lots of others things on how average but enterprising Americans keep getting ripped off.  It's a rigged game, darlings.

I don't know how long this link may remain interactive, but for now, try it out, at the BBC Online:

25 August 2010 Last updated at 11:06 ET
7 questions on board games

P.S.  I didn't take it.  I figured it's rigged somehow or other. 

Three-Time U.S. Women's Chess Champion Starts Own Chess Program

WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia came to the U.S. as a rebellious teenager and, through discipline and determination learned from the School of Hard Knocks, created a brand new life for herself. Along the way, she happened to win three U.S. Women's Chess Championship titles (1995 co-title, 1996, 1999) - but that's another story :)

From The Arizona Daily Star Online
Chess champ starts program to help kids develop life skills
Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 12:00 am

Unable to find a suitable chess program for her 6-year-old son, Anjelina Belakovskaia took matters into her own hands.

The three-time U.S. women's chess champion launched an academy in the Catalina Foothills where she began to work not only with her own son but with other children as well.

Before launching the program, Belakovskaia wanted to test the waters, so she started a summer session at Mathnasium, 4777 E. Sunrise Drive, Suite 127.

Nearly a dozen children enrolled to learn the game of chess, but little did they know that their instructor intended to teach them about life as well.

"It's about developing strategy, logic, creativity, improving memory and building self-confidence," Belakovskaia said. She knows her program will work, having taught it in New York for five years and being a product of it herself.

"It's a comprehensive program on how to use your brain to its fullest potential," Belakovskaia said. "I teach the kids not to rush decisions - don't look for the most obvious move; look at the different possibilities. The same goes for life - if you do something, what is going to happen afterward, and how will you react to the situation?"

Pleased with how quickly her students were developing, Belakovskaia decided to continue the program and expand it to include three levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Rest of article.

Copyright 2010 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
More on Angelina Belakovskaia:

Chess for Parents - How to Teach Your Child
An older personal website that contains links to some interesting articles
List of U.S. Women's Chess Champions with a brief history of women chess champions in the USA, from the St. Louis Chess Club
Chess games of Angelina  Belakovskaia, from
Wikipedia biography

Ming Dynasty Coins Found in Kenyan Village

This is another build-up to the "discovery" (ahem) of some of Admiral Zheng He's ships sunk off the coast of Kenya.  We shall see.  It could well be.  And I don't mean to be speaking in rhymes, honestly. But, honestly, I wouldn't put it past the Chinese to outright lie about their discoveries.  And who's to say nay, heh?

From People's Daily Online
Ancient Chinese coins found in Kenya
08:10, August 25, 2010

The underwater archaeological team from the National Museum of China will visit Kenya in Africa in November to search for the legendary "sunken ships of Zheng He's fleet." A few days ago, the land-based archaeological team that has already arrived in Kenya sent a piece of news back that they found some Chinese cultural relics, including "Yongle Tongbao," which are ancient Chinese coins used in the Ming Dynasty, in a local village.

The China-Kenyan Lamu Islands Archaeological Project, launched by the National Museum of China, the School of Archaeology and Museology of the Peking University and the Kenya National Museum, was officially launched in July 2010. The project's main purpose is to confirm the authenticity of some local villagers' claims that they are "descendants of the ancient Chinese people" and to salvage the ships in Zheng He's fleet, which were sunk 600 years ago.

The aboveground archaeological team led by Qin Dashu, an archaeological professor from the Peking University, arrived at Kenya at the end of July and has began to search for Chinese cultural relics left in Kenya. After searching for nearly one month, the archaeological team has found many relics, including the "Yongle Tongbao" of the Ming Dynasty.

The land-based archeology project chose a historic site near the Mambrui Village, Malindi, Kenya as the excavation site. The most convincing evidence archeologists have found are the "Yongle Tongbao" Ming Dynasty coins and the Long Quan Kiln porcelain provided only to the royal family in the early Ming Dynasty.

Qin said that he has studied the place where the porcelain used in the imperial palace was made and the characteristics of the porcelain found in the early Ming Dynasty. Now they have found this kind of porcelain in Kenya, he believes that it may be related to Zheng He because as an official delegate, Zheng may have brought some imperial porcelain there as rewards or presents.

"Yongle Tongbao" are coins minted during the Yongle Emperor's reign. According to historical records, during Zheng He's voyage to the Western Seas, he carried large amounts of "Yongle Tongbao" coins with him. The discovery has a significant meaning and is convincing evidence of China's trade with Africa hundreds of years ago.

As for the credibility of some local villagers claiming to be Chinese descendants, Qin said that there are over 20 families claiming to be Chinese descendants, and since African history is preserved by word of mouth, there is certainly some credibility in those villagers' words.

Qianjiang Evening News contributes to this article.

3,500 Year Old Oasis Settlement In Egypt

From Yahoo News
Egypt discovers 3,500-year-old oasis trading post
By PAUL SCHEMM, Associated Press Writer Paul Schemm, Associated Press Writer – Wed Aug 25, 12:44 pm ET

CAIRO – Egypt's antiquities department announced Wednesday the discovery of a 3,500-year-old settlement in a desert oasis, showing the existence of vibrant desert trade routes that stretched from the Mediterranean down into Sudan from the early days of the Egyptian civilization.

The settlement at Umm el-Mawagir in Egypt's Kharga Oasis, more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) south of Cairo, has been excavated for the past year by a Yale University expedition, whose initial findings suggest it was an administrative post with massive baking facilities, possibly to feed local troops.

"The amount of bread production was pretty amazing," said John Darnell, head of the expedition, citing discoveries of ovens, bread molds and storerooms at the site, far out of proportion to its size.

"It's probably a good bet they were basically baking enough bread to feed an army, literally," he said.

The site was home to a few thousand inhabitants and also includes remnants of mudbrick buildings, similar to those used for administrative purposes in the Nile Valley to the east, suggesting close contact between the two regions.

The settlement sheds light on ancient Egypt's Second Intermediate Period (1600-1569 B.C.), when the Egyptian pharaohs were trapped between the Hyksos invaders of Asia in the north and a Nubian kingdom in the south. The oases and their trade routes were likely key to the survival of the Egyptian kingdom.

The ancient routes stretched from the Darfur region in Sudan through the oases and the Nile Valley up to the ancient Palestine and Syria, with long caravans of donkeys bringing wines, luxury goods and wealth along with them. It would at least be 1,000 years before the camel made its appearance.

"The oases were large well watered nodes along major Egyptian caravan routes that had traffic coming in from all over the known world," said Darnell, contrasting their importance in antiquity to their relative isolation in modern times.

"2,000 years ago these (oases) were major trade emporia where you would have been passed everyday by caravans bringing in much more exotic material than you could find in Kharga Oasis today," he added.

The discovery is part of Yale University's 18-year Theban Desert Road Survey which seeks to rediscover the old trade routes and ascertain the level of interaction between the peoples of the Nile and the Sahara Desert in ancient times.

Discoveries over the last several years, have increasingly highlighted the importance of the oases in ancient Egypt. Finds such as the "golden mummies" dating from a 1,000 years later discovered in 1999 in Bahariya Oasis indicate these communities' wealth and prosperity.

Intact Roman Bust Excavated in Albania

It's being called the most important find in Albania in the last 50 years.

From Yahoo News
Archaeologists hail unique find in Albania
Fri Aug 20, 11:59 am ET
AFP/Apollonia Archaeological Site – A marble
bust of an athlete dating back to the Roman era,
has been unearthed in the ancient city of Apollonia.
APOLLONIA, Albania (AFP) – Archaeologists unearthed a Roman bust from the 2nd century AD hailed as the most important archaeological find of the last 50 years in Albania, experts said Friday.

"It is an exceptional discovery, the most important in the last 50 years in Albania because the bust is still intact," French professor Jean-Luc Lamboley, who led the dig at Apollonia with Albanian archaeologists, told AFP.

Experts say the bust of an unknown athlete found at the Apollonia site, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Tirana, was of a remarkable quality.

Apollonia is one of the biggest archaeological sites in Albania and the fact that no modern town was built on its ruins makes for excellent excavating conditions.

The team of French and Albanian archaeologists digging at the scene are studying how Apollonia evolved from a Greek colony founded in the 7th century BC to a Roman settlement in the 3rd century AD.

"This spans a thousand years of history and we can study here how the classic Greek civilisation was transmitted, evolved and enriched in Roman times," Lamboley said.

"For security reasons the bust was moved Friday to the Tirana archaeological museum as the Apollonia museum still has no security system in place," the French expert added.

After the fall of communism in the early 1990s and following public unrest in 1997 several art works were stolen from Albanian museums probably to be sold to foreign art lovers at very high prices.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Discovery Reveals Unknown Language and Numbering System


Unearthed 400-year-old document shows how Peruvian natives used numbers
August 24, 2010 By Faith Sutter

In the early 1600s in northern Peru, a curious Spaniard jotted down some notes on the back of a letter. Four hundred years later, archaeologists dug up and studied the paper, revealing what appear to be the first traces of a lost language.

The back side of an early 17th century letter shows translations for numbers from Spanish to a lost language.
Photo by Jeffrey Quilter
“It’s a little piece of paper with a big story to tell,” said Jeffrey Quilter, who has conducted investigations in Peru for more than three decades.

Quilter is deputy director for curatorial affairs at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, as well as director of the archaeological project at Magdalena de Cao Viejo in the El Brujo Archaeological Complex, where the paper was excavated two years ago.

The writing is a set of translations from Spanish names of numbers (uno, dos, and tres) and Arabic numerals (4-10, 21, 30, 100, and 200) into the unknown language. Some of the translated numbers have never been seen before, while others may have been borrowed from Quechua or a related local language. Quechua is still spoken today in Peru, but in the early 17th century many other languages were spoken in the region, such as Quingnam and Pescadora.

Information about them today is limited. Even so, the archaeologists were able to deduce that speakers of the lost language used a decimal system like our own.

Quilter said that this simple list offers “a glimpse of the peoples of ancient and early colonial Peru who spoke a language lost to us until this discovery.”

“The find is significant because it offers the first glimpse of a previously unknown language and number system,” said Quilter. “It also points to the great diversity of Peru’s cultural heritage in the early colonial period. The interactions between natives and Spanish were far more complex than previously thought.”

The name of the lost language is still a mystery. The American-Peruvian research team was able to determine it was not Mochica, spoken on the north coast into the colonial period but now extinct, and pointed to Quingnam and Pescadora as possible candidates. Neither Quingnam nor Pescadora, however, have been documented beyond their names. There is even a possibility that Quingnam and Pescadora are the same language but they were identified as separate tongues in early colonial Spanish writings, so a definitive connection has not yet been established.

Best medicine in Mesa pediatrician's bag may be a chess set

From The Arizona Republic
by Connie Midey - Aug. 24, 2010 12:00 AM

Diagnosed with a life-changing disease, Alyssa Schreiner was spending the first winter break of her college years in a hospital instead of celebrating the holidays at her Tempe home.

She needed a distraction, and pediatrician Norm Saba provided one.

Though the 19-year-old had outgrown her pediatrician, Saba, a family friend, looked in on her at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa each day during the five-week period when she was hospitalized, released and hospitalized again.

"He would come into my room to visit me before he went to check on his patients (in the hospital's pediatrics department)," says Schreiner, now 20 and a University of Arizona transfer student. "One day he brought in a chessboard and gave me his phone number and said, 'We're going to play chess.' "

From her hospital bed, she sent her moves to Saba via text message, and he responded with his in between seeing patients at his Mesa office.

Sometimes, the best medicine in Saba's bag is a simple chess set. It's a remedy he has seen succeed time after time, and Shreiner, too, felt the healing effect with every texted move.

"It was a really hard time for me," she says. "I was just diagnosed with Crohn's (a chronic gastrointestinal disease) and had to go into surgery, and I couldn't go back to my college in Colorado. But playing chess with Norm kept me active and kept my spirits up. He always put a smile on my face."

Strong body, strong mind

The doctor, 56, encourages kids he treats at his office to take up the game. And he plays it bedside with patients at what is now Cardon Children's Medical Center, a separate facility on the Banner Desert campus.

On rounds at the hospital, Saba carries a magnetic chess set in his pocket. Unfolded, the board is 3 by 6 inches. When patients feel up to a game, he sets everything out on a table in their room, an invitation to set aside health worries for a while. A few moves usually are enough for his pajama-clad opponents, and then it's on to check on another patient.

Recently, Saba pulled a set from his pocket, only to have the hospitalized boy and his mother start a game on the spot. The doctor left the board with them.

"The hospital is all about being healthy," Saba says, "and that means having a strong body and a strong mind. Chess is another way to help children be healthy."

It keeps their minds active and their stress at bay while they're confined to bed, "and they can play for their rest of their life," he says.

Fun may be foremost, but chess can be good for players in other ways. Its positive impact on brain fitness has been documented in numerous studies, and anecdotal evidence suggests it helps the rest of the body, too. With the social interaction inherent in matching wits with others, emotional health likely is another beneficiary.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' "School Health Handbook" includes a section on the benefits of chess, inspired by a resolution Saba wrote in 1999 when he was president of the academy's Arizona chapter.

And chess master Leroy Dubeck, a physics professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, remembers research by one of his graduate students decades ago. It showed that competing in a chess tournament delivers a surprising workout.

"We did find," Dubeck says by e-mail, "that players hooked up to physiographs had their breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., increase (for some) as much as typically happens to a football player on the field."

Recruiting players

Saba believes so strongly in the power of the game that he and 25-year-old son Daniel - the oldest of his three kids - set up a 10- by 10-foot chessboard in the Cardon lobby. Serving as a healthy distraction for the parents and siblings of hospitalized children, it inspires even the littlest of visitors to lug chess pieces up to 2 feet tall from space to space, placing rooks and knights and queens willy-nilly.

Kids visiting Saba's office for routine treatment often leave with a chess set of their own. The pediatrician buys the sets in bulk and has given away hundreds annually for almost five years. In the room where he updates his notes, he plucks copies of Yury Shulman's "Chess! Lessons From a Grandmaster" from a crowded bookshelf and gives them to novice players.

On a recent day, it's Matthew Easter's turn.

The Mesa 8-year-old, there with parents Kathy and Dale, is undergoing his annual exam when Saba spots a potential chess player in the boy's quiet attention during questioning.

Matthew tells Saba that computer class is his favorite. He doesn't know how to play chess, but he'd like to learn.

That's what the doctor likes to hear. He surprises Matthew with a chess set and copy of Shulman's book that are the boy's to keep.

"Chess is exceptional for kids' learning skills and memory," Saba tells Kathy and Dale. "It helps them concentrate and form a plan and implement it. If they make a wrong move, they suffer the consequences. But they learn from their mistakes and get to start all over."

At home that evening, Kathy peeks into the kitchen and spies Matthew at the table with the chessboard before him, pieces all in place, and the instruction book open to Page 5. He's writing notes to himself in a tablet.

"He was very intent on what he was doing," she says later. "His brother (Robert) was busy, and Matthew must have figured, 'I'm not going to wait for anybody.' "

He has tackled the game, methodically and regularly, ever since.

Captured his queen

Saba understands that kind of intensity. His passion for chess took root when he began playing competitively in his senior year at Buckeye High School and flourishes today.

Studies at University of Arizona and then Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine left limited time for play. These were the days long before the Internet made it possible for chess fans to challenge anyone in the world to a game, at any hour of the day.

But Saba stuck with the game, and it has brought him decades of rewards. It even gave him an unconventional gambit when he met the woman who would become his wife.

Pam was a nurse in the newborn intensive-care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was doing his pediatric internship.

"Somehow our discussion got onto whether or not she knew how to play chess," Saba says.

She didn't. So in what is unlikely to make any list of most romantic gestures, he bought her a copy of the book "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess."

Days later, one of Saba's medical-school classmates saw Pam reading the book at lunch.

"That evening," Saba says, "he calls me in a fit of excitement that he just met this awesome blonde who was reading a chess book and says he needs to set me up."

Pam's interest in chess wasn't lasting, but she and Norm have been married for 27 years. They regularly host events in their home for local and visiting chess players and help organize tournaments with Cardon as one of the beneficiaries. Norm also is a sponsor of the annual Summer Chess Academy in Tempe, a program for kids.

Although a strong player in his own right, Saba is most pleased by his patients' and other kids' accomplishments when they pursue chess. Mastering the game, fulfilling as that can be, is not the point.

Children who learn the lessons chess has to teach "have a huge advantage when they tackle the other hurdles life will bring," Saba says.

Southwest Chess Club Action!

End of Summer Dog Days Quad
August 26, September 2 & 9

3-Round “Round-Robin” (a “Quad”). Four chess players to a Quad. Game/90 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5. TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec.

The next three Thursdays (August 26 and September 2 and 9) the Southwest Chess Club presents for you “End of Summer Dog Days Quad” (see below for details). We plan to start games this Thursday promptly at 7:00 p.m. Registration is 6:20-6:50 p.m. Early registration via e-mail is welcome and encouraged! (Robin Grochowski's contact information is given below).

Note that this is a “round-robin” event. Players are put into a quad by ratings (top to bottom), so it is extremely important to let me know whether you are going to play prior to assigning players to the quads. Quads will be assigned at 6:50 p.m. Once quads are assigned, it will not be possible to enter the tournament. If you want to play and are going to be late please let the TD know of your intentions of playing, by 5;00 pm this Thursday, so you can be assigned to the proper quad. Also, since this is a round-robin tournament, it is extremely important that if you sign up to play that you play all three rounds. If you are unable to make all three rounds, DO NOT sign up for this event, as there are no byes. August Supplement is used for ratings.


BEFORE THE GAMES at 6:00 pm, we have LECTURES the next two weeks:

Aug. 26 - Sheldon Gelbart: "Gambits and Positional Sacrifices."
Sept.  2- Nolan Hendrickson: "Combinations"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nebra Sky Disc Was Discarded - ?

So say these dudes - but I have my doubts.  For one thing, if the Disc was "desecrated" as they stated, why did early reports of the discovery exclaim over what remarkable condition the Disc was in?  Sure doesn't look desecrated to me.

Nebra sky disk discarded because of volcanic ash, scientists say
By Thomas Schoene Aug 23, 2010, 15:49 GMT

Image from Goddesschess Archives: Scroll down to
October 13, 2009 on linked page for further information.
Halle/Mainz, Germany - A catastrophic volcanic eruption spewing huge clouds of ash about 3,600 years ago was behind the burial of the Nebra sky disk, one of the most spectacular archaeological finds in recent years, according to scientists at Mainz and Halle-Wittenberg universities in Germany.

The 3,600-year-old disk, discovered in 1999 near the town of Nebra in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, is the oldest known representation of the night sky. It is thought by some to have been used as an astronomical clock to determine when to add a thirteenth month synchronising the lunar calendar with the solar year.

The disk would be held against the sky, and when the position of the celestial objects matched those on the disk, the intercalary month would be added. Scientists said the disk became worthless after the eruption on the Mediterranean island of Thera - north of Crete and also known as Santorini - which ejected ash that obscured the sky all the way to Central Europe for 20 to 25 years.

Average temperatures dropped one or two degrees during this time.

'There were cool, wet summers with devastating crop failures and exceptionally cold winters,' said Francois Bertemes, a professor at Halle-Wittenberg University's Institute of European Art History and Archaeology.

The changes were inexplicable to people of the Bronze Age, who were followers of a sun cult. Their faith in the gods was shaken, Bertemes remarked, and 'they called the priests and (the priests') rituals into question.'

Scientists said the 32-centimetre-diameter bronze disk, with gold-leaf appliques representing the sun, moon and stars, was desecrated as a cult object and buried as an offering to the gods - along with two swords decorated with gold, Bronze Age spiral bracelets and bronze axes - on then sacred Mittelberg hill.

'The natural occurrences were almost certainly very bewildering to prehistoric people in Central Europe,' said Frank Sirocko, a sedimentologist at Mainz University's Geosciences Institute.

Sirocko and a team of researchers have analyzed the effects of weather and climate on human development for years. He has also looked into the Thera eruption.

'It was surely a watershed in the Bronze Age and it's no coincidence that use of the stone circles at Stonehenge ceased 3,600 years ago, and that the Nebra sky disk was buried,' Sirocko said.

'Maybe the act was meant to make the gods merciful and get them to restore the previous conditions,' said Bertemes, referring to the disk's burial.

The Nebra sky disk has been on permanent display at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle since 2008. Nebra Ark, a multimedia visitors' centre with information on the disk and its history, is located near the site where the disk was discovered.

(C)Deutche Presse-Agenteur

Chess Femme News

Dylan Loeb McClain blogs about the wife and husband chessplayers who won the respective Women's and Men's - oops - "Overall" French Chess Championship titles:  Almira Skripchenko and Laurent Fressinet. 
August 22, 2010, 6:52 pm
An Unusual Double: Husband and Wife Win French Chess Championships

Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff talk in passing about the strength of women chessplayers in China - in fact, the entire article should have been devoted to the subject!
Chess notes

Gauging the growth of chess in China
By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff
August 23, 2010

The Chess Federation of Honduras is hosting the Men's and Women's Sub-zonals 2.3 (August 20 - 27, 2010).  Current standings of the chess femmes after R4:

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 Mencos Claudia GUA 1912 4,0 4,0 10,0 0,0
2 Madrigal Ana Daniela NCA 1884 3,0 3,0 9,0 0,0
3 Aguilar Marcela ESA 1805 3,0 3,0 8,0 0,0
4 Sotomayor Villatoro Silvi GUA 1777 3,0 3,0 7,5 0,0
5 Torres Hernandez Leslie Caroli HON 1940 3,0 3,0 7,5 0,0
   Alarcon Pamela NCA 1869 3,0 3,0 7,5 0,0
7 WCM Mora Oviedo Andrea Melissa HON 1807 3,0 3,0 7,0 0,0
8 Barria Raisa PAN 1850 3,0 3,0 7,0 0,0
9 WIM Mazariego-K Carolina GUA 2086 2,5 2,5 7,5 0,0
10 WCM Sanchez Ingrid ESA 1971 2,0 2,0 6,0 0,0
11 WCM Duron Godoy Sari Esther HON 1905 2,0 2,0 6,0 0,0
     Gamboa Alvarado Leticia CRC 1682 2,0 2,0 6,0 0,0
13 Eshraghi Roya CRC 0 2,0 2,0 5,0 0,0
14 Granados Maria NCA 1958 2,0 2,0 5,0 0,0
     Gonzalez Yaribeth PAN 1890 2,0 2,0 5,0 0,0
16 WFM Pastor Tania ESA 1942 2,0 2,0 4,0 0,0
17 Figueroa Julissa GUA 1792 2,0 2,0 3,5 0,0
18 Hernandez Bera ESA 1812 1,5 1,5 4,0 0,0
19 Mendieta Kathya NCA 1648 1,5 1,5 3,5 0,0
20 Dominguez Ana ESA 1765 1,5 1,5 3,5 0,0
21 Ortiz Katherine Berenice HON 0 1,5 1,5 3,0 0,0
22 Rodriguez Marxia GUA 0 1,5 1,5 2,5 0,0
23 Naira Alejandra HON 0 1,0 1,0 3,0 0,0
24 Muñoz Alba PAN 0 1,0 1,0 2,5 0,0
25 Calderon Any HON 0 1,0 1,0 2,0 0,0
26 Fernandez Mirna Graciela HON 0 1,0 1,0 2,0 0,0
27 Ortiz Rosa Daniela HON 0 0,5 0,5 2,0 0,0
28 Mendieta Rodriguez Tamara NCA 0 0,5 0,5 0,5 0,0

Baku Open
August 22 - 31, 2010
GM Gata Kamsky heads the list of GMs at 2713.  A total of 159 players, many of them Azerbaijani chess femmes, are participating.  Round 1 was played earlier today.  One of my favorite young chess femmes, WIM Narmin Kazimova of Azerbaijan, is playing.  She caught my eyes a couple of years ago when as a very young player she had an impressive run of wins against much higher rated players in the 2008 European Women's Chess Championship, before being knocked off.  But her potential for such level of play has been a lure to me ever since.  Unfortunately, she doesn't often travel out of Azerbaijani, probably for financial reasons, and so her playing has leveled off. 

The top chess femme is 20 GM Zhukova Natalia 2499 UKR.  Because there are so many playing, I'll provide a report on the final standings of the chess femmes at the conclusion of the Open.  In the meantime, several sources are providing daily coverage, including Susan Polgar's blog

Scota and - Uri Geller???

No less than The Wall Street Journal published this article that was on page 1 today.  What is the world coming to?

AUGUST 23, 2010

Uri Geller's Mind-Bender: Egyptian Loot in Scotland
He Claims an Island He Owns Is Stuffed With It; Neighbors Dubious

NORTH BERWICK, Scotland—When Uri Geller saw a rocky lump off Scotland's eastern coast was for sale a couple of years ago, the famed spoon-bender says he knew he had to have it.

"I didn't know why. I was somehow drawn to it," Mr. Geller recalls. He put in a successful £30,000, or about $46,000, offer.

Today, the 63-year-old paranormalist says he now understands why he bought the uninhabited, 100 yard-by-50 yard Lamb Island. Buried inside, he says, is an Egyptian treasure including relics supposedly brought there by a pharaoh's daughter some 3,500 years ago.

Mr. Geller was once one of the most famous people in the world in the 1970s, regularly appearing on television and baffling audiences with his spoon-bending exploits. He continues to draw a crowd, and his sudden interest in "The Lamb," as it's known locally, is raising eyebrows among skeptical Scots.

Tales of Scotland's ties to ancient Egypt date back to the 15th century, but many regard them as a bit of nonsense. According to the legend, King Tutankhamen's half-sister, Princess Scota, fell out with her family and fled to Ireland and then Scotland, thereby giving the country its name. Some say the alignment of the Lamb and two nearby islands closely mirrors the layout of the pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, not to mention the three main stars in the Orion's Belt constellation.

"Tosh!" says Edinburgh-based historian and author Stuart McHardy. Mr. McHardy and other historians reckon the Egyptian connection evolved to provide Scotland with a fresh identity while English invaders were claiming the whole British Isles were named after Brutus, a Roman consul supposedly descended from the Trojan hero Aeneas.

"That, of course, meant we had to have an equally 'ancient' story," Mr. McHardy says.

Many locals in the nearby town of North Berwick are baffled by the island's new-found historical provenance. Previously, the salt-sprayed area was best known for witch trials in the 1590s and its sandy beaches, which Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have recreated in his novel "Treasure Island."

The Egyptian treasure "isn't even an old fisherman's tale," says Graham Kinniburgh, manager of a wine and whisky store on the town's main street. He sells malt whiskies named after three other local islands, but not Mr. Geller's Lamb.

"Before Uri came along I don't think anybody had ever heard of all this Egyptian stuff," says 55-year-old Drew McAdam, who grew up in North Berwick idolizing Mr. Geller. Inspired by Mr. Geller's 1973 performance on the British Broadcasting Corp., Mr. McAdam himself now travels Britain and Europe bending spoons and performing other feats.

Mr. Geller got interested in the Lamb in 2008, when he saw on the Internet that it was for sale, and the idea of owning an island appealed to him. Not even the island's status as a protected seabird colony ruffles his feathers: Mr. Geller is a vegetarian.

Buying property in Scotland, however, wasn't all plain sailing. Some Scots best know the Israeli-born Mr. Geller, who lives in England, for claiming to determine the outcome of a Scotland versus England soccer match in 1996 by using his telekinetic powers to nudge the ball just as Scotland's captain was about to strike a penalty kick. Scotland lost the game. "I received around 11,000 hate mails for that," Mr. Geller says.

Now that Mr. Geller is the best-known landowner in this corner of Scotland, 26 miles east of the capital, Edinburgh, he is eager to improve his reputation.

On his first trip to North Berwick in March, Mr. Geller ran up a local landmark, a 613-foot-tall hill called "The Law," in a bid to endear himself to locals.

He then lunched on a baked potato with ketchup at the Scottish Seabird Center. He impressed staff by apparently using his mental powers to bend some teaspoons, several of which are still in drawers in the center's kitchen.

In the evening, he gave another performance, at one point producing mustard seeds that suddenly sprouted when he handed them to a member of the audience. "He had everybody eating out of his hand," says Lynda Dalgliesh, who works at the center.

"He made a big impression on everybody, even my mother," says Mr. McAdam, who Mr. Geller invited to perform.

The next day, Mr. Geller chugged the ten minutes to the island on a fishing boat to spend a night on the Lamb, among tens of thousands of seabirds and an English adventurer. "It was excruciatingly cold, with not a single flat spot to lay a sleeping bag," Mr. Geller says.

Some local businesses are beginning to wake up to the island's allure since Mr. Geller turned up. Some boat operators, for instance, take tourists around the Lamb and recount folklore surrounding the island.

"A wee bit of bulls— doesn't hurt anybody," says Dougie Ferguson, a 52-year-old skipper.

Another skipper, Cameron Small, says Mr. Geller's purchase has generated enough interest for him to advertise trips around "Uri Geller's Lamb Island."

For his next trick, Mr. Geller hopes to really astonish the locals by locating the ancient trinkets he thinks are buried within the volcanic rock of the Lamb.

Using dowsing—a technique Mr. Geller says he previously used to detect oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico—he reckons he has pin-pointed a place on his island where treasure might be buried.

He hopes to excavate if he can secure permission from the Scottish authorities—and only if it doesn't offend the Lamb's legions of gulls, cormorants and shags.

Rob Sinclair at the local council's planning department says Mr. Geller doesn't need legal approval to dig on his land. "But he might like to talk to our Council archaeologist about whether it would be worth his time and energy," Mr. Sinclair says.

"I'm certain there are ancient Egyptian artifacts there," Mr. Geller says. "It's only a matter of time until we find them."

And if there wasn't any treasure on the Lamb before, there is now. Mr. Geller says he has strengthened the island's mystical powers by burying a crystal orb that once belonged to Albert Einstein.
There are several different versions of the story of how Scota came to Scotland.  Many versions agree that (1) an Egyptian princess was involved (2) Scota was what she was called - a title of some sort - but her name has been lost to history and (3) the Scythians or Scythia is involved.

Scotland's Namesake - from (an interesting genealogy website devoted to the Carothers and Carruthers families in America and Scotland)

Scota: Namesake of Scotland - from - yes, I know I know, LOL!  But actually the article is quite factual, setting forth several different versions of the Scota legend. 

Scotland's Past Links with Ancient Egypt -

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is There a "Twin" Temple at Didyma?

Interesting, but brief, article.  We'll have to wait and see what develops.  Cf. this interpretation of the meaning of the word "didyma" from which is run by OTTI, Inc. - perhaps something to do with a governmental office of trade and tourism?

From Voices, Altinkum's English Printed Newspaper
Apollon's twin perhaps?
Posted on Saturday, August 21 @ 12:35:06 CDT

A view of the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, from
GERMAN archaeologists are looking at a new find which could suggest a second temple close to the Temple of Apollo.

They have extended their excavations away from Apollon and have discovered a wall which they consider to be part of another temple – maybe that the Temple is for Artemis – the twin of Apollon.

Representative of Ministry of Culture and Tourism Ferhan Büyükyörük said: “An illegal dig was done in the area previously, which revealed the remains of a wall.

“The excavations team is searching this year to see if there is more to the wall and if it belongs to a structure. Its size and location suggests a building to the south of this wall. Didyma means twin; Apollon was the twin brother of Goddess Artemis.

“This wall might belong to an Artemis Temple. We will see what the excavations unearth.”

The works will continue until September.
More on the Temple of Apollo at Didyma

Petra Cave Paintings

Detail of a winged child playing the flute, before and after
cleaning. Photograph: Courtesy of the Courtauld Institute
Fascinating article at the  Here is a lovely image - of a restored area of the cave paintings.  It definitely is three-dimensional in a way that is very familiar to us today, but would have been astounding to medieval European painters and probably condemned as the Devil's work by fathers of the Church!

Discovery of ancient cave paintings in Petra stuns art scholars
Exquisite artworks hidden under 2,000 years of soot and grime in a Jordanian cave have been restored by experts from the Courtauld Institute in London
Dalya Alberge
The Observer, Sunday 22 August 2010

[Excerpt] Spectacular 2,000-year-old Hellenistic-style wall paintings have been revealed at the world heritage site of Petra through the expertise of British conservation specialists. The paintings, in a cave complex, had been obscured by centuries of black soot, smoke and greasy substances, as well as graffiti.

Experts from the Courtauld Institute in London have now removed the black grime, uncovering paintings whose "exceptional" artistic quality and sheer beauty are said to be superior even to some of the better Roman paintings at Herculaneum that were inspired by Hellenistic art.

Virtually no Hellenistic paintings survive today, and fragments only hint at antiquity's lost masterpieces, while revealing little about their colours and composition, so the revelation of these wall paintings in Jordan is all the more significant. They were created by the Nabataeans, who traded extensively with the Greek, Roman and Egyptian empires and whose dominion once stretched from Damascus to the Red Sea, and from Sinai to the Arabian desert.

Such is the naturalistic intricacy of these paintings that the actual species of flowers, birds and insects bursting with life can be identified. They were probably painted in the first century, but may go back further. Professor David Park, an eminent wall paintings expert at the Courtauld, said that the paintings "should make jaws drop".

Women in Archaeology: Jennie Eberling

From the Evansville Courier & Press (

UE professor digs into history of women in ancient times
By Sara Anne Corrigan
Evansville Courier & Press
Posted August 14, 2010 at midnight

Here is a thing that all women who have thought about it know: Those who recorded the earliest history of civilization - men - almost exclusively have, at the very least, marginalized women.

For the most part, women's history remains unrecorded.

Jennie Ebeling, assistant professor of archaeology at the University of Evansville, has responded to that omission by digging — literally — into the ancient history of Israel, Jordan and the Middle East at archaeological sites dating to the Iron Age.  "1120 to 1080 BCE — before Solomon and David, after the Exodus," she said.

She also has studied the research and conclusions of those who have preceded her in this field.

She assembled what she knows into a book — "Women's Lives in Biblical Times." It was published by T&T Clark International earlier this year.

It tells of "a time before the God/Yahweh of Israel, when Israel was just beginning to come together. Women were still very much into goddesses, so religion and spirituality run through (my book), but that is not its central focus," Ebeling said.

"Women's Lives ..." outlines the life story of a fictional Hebrew woman whom Ebeling calls Orah, with copious footnotes to support her story, drawn from numerous historical and archaeological sources.

The Hebrew Bible, she said, is one source for historical information to support or preclude archaeological findings but, she said, "the Bible does not do women justice ... none of the texts were written by women and not by men in little villages, cooking and raising families."

Although Orah is a fictional character, "I am not a fiction writer," Ebeling stressed. "I do a realistic story, in a documented academic textbook style.

"I show day-to-day activity, cover the seasons and what women were doing at those times ... to broaden the information (about women in ancient times).

"I pooled resources from all sources. This is a reference or research (book) but in a more palatable style."

In creating Orah's story, Ebeling's friend and colleague of more than 10 years, Elise Friedland, said, "Jennie has employed what some are calling 'fictional reconstruction,' in her creation of the character Orah, and her anchoring each chapter (of her book) on short vignettes related to the various stages of that fictional character's life."

Friedland, assistant professor of classics at George Washington University, added, "Though there are many academics who shy away from such fictionalization, believing it requires too much fabrication of detail for which we have precious little hard, archaeological, textual or other evidence, I agree wholeheartedly with Jennie that by transporting our readers back in time to a specific place, culture and series of personal interactions, we create much more immediate and fulsome access to the ancient world than through academic prose."

Ebeling, a Maryland native with a doctorate in archaeology from the University of Arizona, lived, studied and dug in Israel for several years, and the focus of her archaeological studies is centered there.

She said she is able to pursue these interests at UE, "one of few archaeology programs in the U.S. to focus on Greek, Roman and Near East (history) ... we do not teach New World archaeology here."

© 2010 Evansville Courier  & Press. All rights reserved.

Chess Femme News

Some coverage on the recently concluded Girls U-20 World Chess Championship in Poland.  USA's Alisa Melekhina is mentioned for her top-10 finish (best by a US player since 1999)  but you wouldn't know it by reading the title of the article!
Chess: Dmitry Andreikin wins world junior title
Los Angeles Times
By Jack Peters, Special to the Los Angeles Times
August 22, 2010

The Russian Women's Team in the China v. Russia match gets mentioned in a New York Times article:  The Russian women beat the Chinese women, 64 to 61.  Yep, that's it.  The rest of the article is about the games of the second-string Russian Men's Team.  Go figure.
In Race for Global Dominance, China Is Gaining on Russia
Published: August 22, 2010

A new column by GM Susan Polgar is available at Lubbock Online.  This week she pays tribute to the graduating members of the Knight Raiders Chess Team at Texas Tech and provides an indepth analysis of a game from the FIDE Women's Grand Prix at Jermuk held earlier this year, in which Nan Dzagnidze ran away with the tournament.  Antoaneta Stefanova – Nana Dzagnidze. 
Lubbock Online
(Lubbock Avalance Journal)
Polgar: A fond farewell to the graduating Texas Tech Knight Raiders
August 21, 2010

This next is not chess-femme related news, but it mentions a player I developed a fondness for way back in 1999 when FIDE staged a Knock-Out World Chess Championship in August in Las Vegas.  The ultimate winner was GM Alexander Khalifman.  Khalifman was mentioned today in Andy Solstis's column at the New York Post online:
Double blunder-itis
Last Updated: 8:05 AM, August 22, 2010
Does anyone remember the K-O Championship of 1999?  Probably not.
But I won't ever forget it, because it was the first and only chess tournament I've ever attended, and it was the one and only time I was within touching distance of chess stars like GM Judit Polgar, GM Alexei Shirov (who was very cute back them, but then, weren't we all!), GM Michael Adams who had no grey hair back then and his nose seemed must shorter than it does now, and GM Vladimir Akopian, who was quite the hunk in 1999, etc. etc.  I was in the live audience watching quarter-final play at Caesar's Palace on Friday, August 13, 1999.  Polgar was playing against Khalifman, whom I didn't know anything about.  She needed a win to stay in the championship but could only muster a draw and with that, she was out of the tournament.  Khalifman would go on to win the K-O title.
Well, back in those days I didn't know a thing about chess - and I still don't - but then, as now, that didn't stop me writing about it, LOL!  So, if you are interested, I did a bunch of posts at the old Art Bell message board, the fore-runner of a blog) which we saved, and I also compiled some interesting commentary on the 1999 K-O by renowned chess writers.  I still find it lots of fun to read over those old posts - and recall many fond memories from that trip to Las Vegas.  Darlings!  Who the hell goes to Las Vegas in August, the hottest time of the year in an already hot city?  Only crazy people like me - and FIDE. 
And if you need any proof that nothing ever changes in the world of chess politics - NOTHING - you've only to read some of the articles about the 1999 K-O to confirm that, as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the Sun...

Vegas Views from Chess Cafe's "Skittles Room" Archive - by Hanon W. Russell

High Anxiety from Chess Cafe's "Dutch Treat" Archives, August, 1999 - by Hans Ree

Las Vegas: Surprise, surprise!! from Chess Cafe's "An Arbiter's Notebook" Archives, September, 1999 - by Geurt Gijssen

Is Khalifman the Real World Champion? from Chess Cafe's "The Kibitzer" Archives, September, 1999 - by Tim Harding

Odd One Out from Chess Cafe's "The Miles Report" Archives, September, 1999 - by Tony Miles

Chess writer and columnist Manisha Mohite writes this week at the Deccan Herald online about proper use of a Queen sacrifice - great stuff even if I understand perhaps one ounce of it.
Chess Checks
Make full use of the Queen sacrifice
Manisha Mohite, August 22
The Queen is the most powerful and attractive piece on the chessboard and games always become interesting and exciting after this piece is sacrificed.
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