Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon Bomber Suspect #2 Alive and In Custody

Was anyone not glued to their televisions and computers this evening as this unfolded? 

I am very thankful that this young man was taken into custody alive.  From what I understand by an interview of a close neighbor of the owner of the boat in which Suspect #2 was found in (covered boat on a driveway next to a residence, being stored for the winter, wrapped with typical covers to protect against snow and rain), when the stay in residence order was lifted by the Governor of Massachusetts, he went outside into his back yard, was looking around, probably savoring the mild night air and some momentary freedom after being cooped up inside the house all day per police orders, when he noticed something awry with the covering on the boat.  This homeowner then grabbed a ladder, put it against the boat, went up the ladder partially and noticed - blood.

He then lifted the cover(s) partially and saw what appeared to be a human body inside his boat. He got the hell out of there in a big hurry, ran into his house and called the police.  That is how the suspect was discovered.

Will we get some answers to the questions everyone has, at last? 

I have to give kudos to Yahoo News -- yes, that much skewered news service, for providing an excellent platform of streaming commentary from on-the-scene witnesses and reporters in conjunction with ABC News (Diane Sawyer was just EXCELLENT this evening) as I watched online, occasionally looking at my television on in the background with sound turned on very low.  I do believe that Yahoo News was the first to report that the suspect had been taken into custody and was still alive.  Nearly simultaneously, as I glanced at my television screen across the room, I saw a flash at the bottom of the screen that the suspect had been taken into custody.  It wasn't until over a minute later, at least, that Diane Sawyer interrupted the report that was going on to announce that the suspect was alive and had been taken into custody.

Good night to all.  While all of Boston comes out of hiding after being "quarantined" indoors all day long, and celebrate the capture of Suspect #2, I feel pity for this young man, who went so wrong, and had so much promise in him.   It is horribly sad.  But he did the crime.  It is horribly sad that an eight year old boy and his mother also met their deaths because of Suspect #2's actions, and another's life was cut off too.  The survivors, several horribly maimed, losing their limbs.  Some may yet lose the battle to keep their lives as they succumb to their severe injuries.

So many lives touched, damaged, destroyed.  And for those of us who were helpless witnesses to the carnage, so much trauma, anger, despair, rage.

And for what?  Why? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award for 2013 U.S. Women's Chess Championship!

We're baaaacccckkkk.... I am very pleased to announce that the Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award is back at the USWCC!
Source: Copyright Chess Queen.
Chess Queen GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, 12th Women's World Chess Champion, has agreed once again to act as Judge to select this year's winner! Woo woo!

Goddesschess has sponsored a special prize at the U.S. Women's Chess Championship since 2007, except for 2012.

2007: Goddesschess "Brillancy Prize" of $300 and was awarded to Elizabeth Vicary Spiegel for her win against Camille Baginskaite. As you know, Elizabeth is one of the coaches at IS 318 in Brooklyn, New York, a program that has gained international recognition for its excellence!

2008: Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award of $500 was awarded to Tatev Abrahamyan by judge GM Susan Polgar for Tatev's performance of 6 wins and 3 losses - no draws! Goddesschess' contribution was $350 and those wild and crazy guys over at contributed $150 to make the total prize $500.

2009: Anna Zatonskih not only swept away the entire field of players and finished the Championship with an oustanding 8.5/9, she also won the Fighting Chess Award. She did not sit back in the later stages of play and coast to victory, even after it was clear that no one would be able to catch her.

2010: Goddesschess teamed with 9 Queens and offered a Fighting Spirit Award (which I kept calling the Fighting Chess Award) of $1,000! The winner, selected by our new judge, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, was Tatev Abrahamyan, for her uncompromising play: she finished in 3rd place, although tied with Anna Zatonskih (who finished in 2nd place overall) with an incredible 7.5/9. Tatev had 7 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss.

2011: GM Alexandra Kosteniuk chose Sabina Foisor as the winner! This is what she wrote at her blog about selecting the winner of the 2011 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award:

I was chosen as the judge for this award, and I had a very hard time, as many players are deserving, starting with the eventual winner, Anna Zatonskih, but also certainly Tatev Abrahamyan who fought to the end, and Irina Krush, who won the initial tournament. However, after looking over most of the games, I saw that Sabina Foisor's style was also uncompromising, and she was the only player to have beaten Irina Krush in the preliminary tournament. I have decided to vote for the Fighting Chess Award to go to Sabina Foisor, congratulations!

In 2011, in honor of the other players considered for the Award by GM Kosteniuk, at the conclusion of the tournament Goddesschess donated $100 each to 9Queens in the names of Anna Zatonskih, Tatev Abrahamyan, and Irina Krush. It was truly an outstanding championship.

We are very grateful to have obtained the assistance and judgment of great players in awarding the Goddesschess Fighting Chess/Fighting Spirit Award! And despite her busy schedule, GM Kosteniuk agreed to act as our judge again this year! Thank you so much!

An interesting and varied field has accepted the invitations to St. Louis for 2013. Who will be the winner this year???
The 2013 U.S. Women's Chess Championship will be held in the beautiful headquarters of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, which will be celebrating its 5th anniversary of hosting the prestigious U.S. Chess Championships!  If you can possibly attend one or more sessions, I urge you to do so.  The Club is fantastic.  I had the pleasure of visiting in person in September, 2011 while in St. Louis and greatly enjoyed sitting in the lower level to listen to the live commentary during the Kings v. Queens match at which, incidentally, GM Kosteniuk was part of the Queens' team. 
Full coverage of the Championships will be provided at U.S. Chess Champs.  Stay tuned! 

Ancient Han Dynasty Tomb Discovered in Lujiang County, Anhui Province, China

Updated: 2013-04-11
A tomb dating back around 1,700 years is excavated in Lujiang county of East China's
Anhui province on March 29, 2013.(Photo from

A tomb dating back around 1,700 years was unearthed in Lujiang county of East China's Anhui province on March 29, with the coffin inside well preserved and showing few traces of rot, Hefei Evening News reported.
The tomb, measuring about 3 meters by 3 meters, was found by a local worker when he was operating an excavator on a construction site. Large as it is, only a dozen funeral objects were dug out and many of them turned out to be pottery ware.
"Many burial objects are supposed to be unearthed in such a big tomb, but as we excavated it, we found an opening suggesting it had been raided," Yang Biyu, head of the Lujiang administration of cultural relics said regretfully, adding that judging from the hole, the tomb suffered a raid as early as the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD).
Inside the tomb, a 2.5-meter-long coffin has been surprisingly preserved intact, with few signs of decay found in its 20-plus planks.
It will not be known for whom or in which year the tomb was built, nor its historical value until all the antiques are studied by archaeologists. "The objects will help us to get a glimpse of the county in the Han Dynasty if any writing is discovered on them once the centuries of dirt is rubbed off," the official said.

Stones with Ancient Pictish Writing Discovered -- But

-- we can't read it (yet...)

Pictish written language discovered in Scotland

Holy Stag! 

Study Confirms the Gospel of Judas Was Written in Third Century CE

A fascinating study!  As you know, the Gospel of Judas was ultimately rejected as "canonical" and thrown out of the Bible.  A missing link of -- ink...

Egyptian wedding certificate key to authenticating controversial Biblical text

April 8, 2013

A scientist who helped verify authenticity of the fabled Gospel of Judas today revealed how an ancient Egyptian marriage certificate played a pivotal role in confirming the veracity of inks used in the controversial text. The disclosure, which sheds new light on the intensive scientific efforts to validate the gospel, was made here today at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
 "If we hadn't found a Louvre study of Egyptian wedding and land contracts, which were from the same time period and had ink similar to that used to record the Gospel of Judas, we would have had a much more difficult time discerning whether the gospel was authentic," said Joseph G. Barabe. A senior research microscopist at McCrone Associates, he led an analytical team of five scientists who worked on the project at McCrone, a consulting laboratory in microscopy and microanalysis in Westmont, Ill. "That study was the key piece of evidence that convinced us that the gospel ink was probably okay."

 Barabe's team was part of a multidisciplinary effort organized in 2006 by the National Geographic Society to authenticate the Gospel of Judas, which was discovered in the late 1970s after having been hidden for nearly 1,700 years. The text, written in Egyptian Coptic, is compelling because—unlike other Biblical accounts that portray Judas Iscariot as a reviled traitor—it suggests that Jesus requested that his friend, Judas, betray him to authorities.

Barabe's presentation was part of an ACS symposium on archeological chemistry.

After analyzing a sample, Barabe and his colleagues concluded that the gospel was likely penned with an early form of iron gall ink that also included black carbon soot bound with a gum binder. While this finding suggested that the text may have been written in the third or fourth century A.D., the researchers were perplexed by one thing: The iron gall ink used in the gospel was different than anything they'd ever seen before. Typically, iron gall inks—at least those from the Middle Ages—were made from a concoction of iron sulfate and tannin acids, such as those extracted from oak gall nuts. But the iron gall ink used to produce the Gospel of Judas didn't contain any sulfur. And that, Barabe said, was troubling.

"We didn't understand it. It just didn't fit in with anything that we had ever encountered," he said. "It was one of the most anxiety-producing projects I've ever had. I would lie awake at night trying to figure it out. I was frantically searching for answers."

Ultimately, Barabe found a reference to a small French study conducted by scientists at the Louvre who analyzed Egyptian marriage and land records written in Coptic and Greek and dating from the first to third centuries A.D. Much to Barabe's relief, those researchers had determined that a wedding certificate and other documents were written in ink made with copper, but little or no sulfur.

 "Finding that study, and realizing its implications, tilted my opinion a little in the direction of it being appropriate for the era," Barabe said. "My memory of that experience remains quite vivid. I had a sudden feeling of peace that things were okay, and that I could submit my data without qualms."

 Barabe now suspects that the ink used in the Gospel of Judas was probably transitional, a "missing link" between the ancient world's carbon-based inks and the iron gall inks (made with iron sulfate) that became popular in medieval times.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII -- Postscript 2

Robin Grochowski of SWCC emailed me the official Goddesschess prizes for the chess femmes this morning.  Total Gchess prizes were $540 - guess I've lost my skill to do simple addition!

Open Section ($180):
Rachel Ulrich won $140.
Alena Huang won $40.
Reserve Section($290):
Anne Ulrich won $70.
Sabrina Huang won $70.
Ritika Pandey won $40.
Manisha Vootkur won $40.
Ellen Wanek won $40.
Divya Pandey won $30.
Rachel wins entry to HCC XVIII open section ($40), and Sabrina Huang wins entry to HCC XVIII reserve section ($30) on tie breaks. ($70).
Here is a photo of chess buddy Ellen Wanek receiving her Goddesschess prize check, courtesy of Robin:
After Challenge XVII Saturday night, I pledged to Ellen that I would play in Hales Corners Challenge XVIII in October, ready or not.  I am starting my "training," LOL!  Games against Ellen and my other chess buddy, Shira Evans Sanford, a new mommy, at  I can but try... 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Khufu Harbor Discovered in Egypt

Egypt, oh Egypt?  What shall become of you?  You are engulfed in ongoing unrest and revolution. Your lifeblood - tourists - have fled, particularly tourists from the west - we who spend the most money. Liberated women from the parts of the world where we have broken our shackles of slavery to mere mortal men shun you for your shameful treatment of all females, domestic and foreign.  Your government, meanwhile, rallies unemployed young men in the streets for a loaf of bread a day, crying out that this is all the fault of the United States, expecting that we will believe your lies while you let rapists of foreign female reporters and female tourists roam your streets unpunished.  Did you think we would not hear about these things, that they are not publicized for all to read and think about?  Do you think at all, Egypt?

Egypt, oh Egypt, you have become sickened with a dread disease, and I fear you are dying.  And if you die, what else will die with you as the vultures sweep in and carry away your legacy, bit by bit, piece by piece?  Either destroyed by religious fanatics or sold off to the higest bidders.  I am mourning for you, Egypt, and mourning for myself, that I will never, now, travel to you and see your wonders for myself, but may yet live to see them all destroyed forever. 

The information in the final paragraph of the article (below) about ships' ropes and stone tools being discovered in the caves, that sounds familiar. Perhaps this story was reported on earlier.  Iran does the same thing - keeps regurgitating old news and presenting it as new in official and semi-official mediat outlets, with the intent of fooling westerners into believing that ongoing research and discoveries are taking place, that nothing actually has changed from the 'good old days,' when the reality is so different. 

From ahramonline

Egypt's King Khufu's harbour in Suez discovered

French-Egyptian archaeological mission discover the oldest commercial harbour from fourth dynasty Egyptian King Khufu at Wadi Al-Jarf area, 180 km south of Suez

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 11 Apr 2013
(Video at website)

On the Red Sea shore at Wadi Al-Jarf area along the Suez-Zaafarana road, a French-Egyptian archaeological mission from the French Institute for Archaeological Studies (IFAO) stumbled upon what it believed to be the most ancient harbour ever found in Egypt.

The harbour goes back to the reign of the fourth dynasty King Khufu, the owner of the Great Pyramid in Giza Plateau. The harbour is considered one of the most important commercial harbours where trading trips to export copper and other minerals from Sinai were launched.

A collection of vessel anchors carved in stone was also discovered as well as the harbours different docks.

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced that a collection of 40 papyri, showing details of daily life of ancient Egyptians during the 27th year of King Khufu’s reign, was also unearthed during excavation work carried out.

“These are the oldest papyri ever found in Egypt,” asserted Ibrahim.

He also stated that these papyri are very important because it reveals more information on the ancient Egyptians’ daily life, as it includes monthly reports of the number of labours working in the harbour and details of their lives.

The papyri have been transferred to the Suez Museum for study and documentation.  French Egyptologist Pierre Tallet, director of the archaeological mission, pointed out that it is very important to carefully study the information in these papyri because it will introduce plenty of information about this period. The papyri will also show the nature of life that the ancient Egyptians once lived, their rights and duties, which we know little about, Tallet added.

The mission has also succeeded in discovering remains of workers’ houses, which reveals the importance of this harbour and area commercially whether among the different cities of Egypt or abroad, said Adel Hussein, head of the Ancient Egyptian Sector at the Ministry of State for Antiquities.

A collection of 30 caves were also discovered along with the stone blocks used to block their entrances, inscribed with King Khufu’s cartouche written in red ink. Ship ropes and stone tools used to cut ropes and wooden remains were discovered as well.

Post-script on Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII

Hola darlings!

What a shock this morning to wake up to SNOW!  But my heart is warmed by the great results for the chess femmes who participated in the Hales Corners Challenge XVII. 

My chess buddy, Ellen Wanek, wrote to me after she got back home after a long long day at the Challenge.  She is such an uplifting and encouraging influence in my life, I'm so happy to have made her acquaintance.   She sent me a couple photographs of the chess femmes at the Challenge, since I was not there in person -- they are all so beautiful! Ellen wrote that they were saying "Hi, Jan" in the top photo!  Thank you all - so sweet!  Brought tears to my eyes. 

One last email I opened last night, from Allen Becker, was a link to Rachel Ulrich's USCF ratings track and it was just awesome to see her progress graphed out -- in fact, so awesome to see the rise in her rating over the years that I snatched a copy of it and here it is!

Source: USCF

Allen wrote:  13 year old Rachel gained 77 ratings point and is Wisconsin's newest Expert.  Woop woop, arm pump!

I also wanted to mention that Anne Ulrich, who tied for first place in the Reserve Section, recently won the 2012 USCF Junior Grand Prix (hope I have that title correct) and, we believe, is the first-ever female to do so.  I looked for but could not find any comprehensive records of prior Junior Grand Prix winners to officially confirm this. 

And Sabrina Huang's performance!  I've seen her in action at the few Challenges I've attended and have tracked the performances of she and her sister, Alena Huang (who played in the Open Section again this Challenge, challenging herself and I'm sooo proud of her) at Challenges over the years.  Both sisters are delightful young women.  I am soooo proud of Rachel, Anne, Alena, Sabrina and, indeed, all of the ladies who played yesterday, including my buddy, Ellen, who improved her performance to two wins in this Challenge! And how cool is it that we have been lucky enough at the Challenges to have THREE sets of sisters playing, because another dynamic duo of sisters, Ritika Pandey (2.0) and Divya Pandey (1.5), also did very well.  Manisha Vootkur also finished in the Reserve at 50%, scoring 2 wins.   It gives me hope for the future to see all of these young women playing into and hopefully through their teen years and beyond.  We need MORE of you, chess femmes!  Pat Foat, where were you? 

For those of you who don't know Ellen Wanek very well, I've posted articles about her at this blog and you can find them by doing a search of her name. Ellen is based in Sheboygan and is very involved in a chess program that teaches kids how to play chess and, indeed, has extended the program to a Chess in the Park series where all are welcome and newcomers can visit and learn how to play the game in a casual, relaxed setting. She is one of my heroines and I admire her greatly.

Sandra Pahl, played in the Open again, and a young lady whom I don't believe has played in a Challenge before because, just like the first time I played in a Challenge, I did not have a USCF rating either, Carolyn Marta, who played in the Reserve, didn't score any points. Hey - I know that feeling! Did your head feel like it was going to explode, too? That's what playing in a Challenge (the few I've played in) makes me feel like! All my zeros were worth it, though, because I did earn a USCF rating, so I'm officially on the USCF books as a CHESSPLAYER, ha ha ha! Hang in there, chess femmes. I actually managed to win a game in the last Challenge I played, and Sandra Pahl has scored in the Open before, I know she'll do it again. And Sandra, I would love to continue our conversation on the interesting topics we got into the first/last time we chatted!

I visited my adopted chess club's blog this morning and read the updated news on Challenge XVII, and copied this out:

Four-way tie for first in Open:
Erik Santarius
Ben Smail
Brady Harder
Rachel Ulrich

Three-way tie for first in Reserve:
Sabrina Huang
Anne Ulrich
Xavier Loomer

I had complained to Allen Becker last night (Yes, it is true. This woman [moi] knows no limits when it comes to gall) about how they publish the final results because they do it from highest ratings to lowest instead of who actually finished in what place by virtue of tie-breaks (at least, that was how it was explained to me once but that may not be correct, that's just the way it was assembled finally in my brain).  That method makes no sense to me because how can I use that to determine who actually finished in FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, etc.  It's drives me frigging nuts, and that's the truth.

So when I saw the above fresh information posted, now I know that Sabrina edged-out Anne on tie-breaks, and in the Open, Rachel lost FIRST "first place" on tie-breaks (next Challenge maybe she'll come out on TOP, hey, no pressure...) -- so now at least I see it in a format that makes sense to me.  I will NEVAH understand the other way of doing it, NEVAH! 

Okay, ladies, here's a challenge for you.  In Hales Corners Challenge XVI, you took home a record amount of Goddesschess prize money, the highest Goddesschess prize payout yet.  You did not break that record in Challenge XVII.  How do you feel about going for it in Challenge XVIII?
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