Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 National Open in Las Vegas Getting Ready to Rock 'n Roll!

Note to self, next trip I plan to LV, make sure it's while this tournament is running!  I wanna see it in action!

The National Open (Open prizes guaranteed at $80,000), June 6 - 9, 2013 at the venerable Riviera Hotel.  I have fond memories of the Riviera, stayed there several times during my visits to Las Vegas, including in 1999 when I watched the FIDE World Championship Knock-Out tournament at Casesar's Palace -- the first and last time I saw Judit Polgar in action live!  The memory still thrills...

The big guns registered thus far (who have their eyes set on clear first place in the Open and the guaranteed $6,500 first place prize): 

1 2728 GM Wesley So CAN
2 2698 GM 2620 Ray Robson MO
3 2687 GM 2585 Aleksandr Lenderman NY

Holy Hathor! Wesley So now plays for Canada?!  Thus far, 60 players are pre-registered for the Open.  I am very fond of Ray Robson, a native son, and I absolutely adore Alex Lenderman, whom I "met" when I read the wonderful book "The Kings of New York."  There is just something about him that touches my heart, don't know what it is and no, darlings, it's not a sexual thing, LOL!  I'm old enough to be his grandma :)  I do think he's cute, though.

There are several chess femmes pre-registered for the Open as well:

2407 WGM 2280 Tatev Abrahamyan CA
2267 WFM 2103 Patrycja Anna Labedz TX
2243 WFM 2098 Sarah Chiang TX
2212 WIM 2181 Paloma Gutierrez AZ

Abrahamyan is coming off another good performance at the recently-concluded U.S. Women's Chess Championship in St. Louis, Missouri; Sarah Chiang also premiered in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship this year.  She performed better in the second half, once she got her chess legs underneath her.  Here's the final cross-table from that event:

Cross table after round 9

1IM Krush, Irina2470x1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 8.0
2IM Zatonskih, Anna24660 x½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.5
3WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev22800 ½ x1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 6.5
4WIM Zenyuk, Iryna22430 0 0 x½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 4.5
5WGM Baginskaite, Camilla2278½ 0 0 ½ x1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5
6WGM Foisor, Sabina2300½ 0 0 0 0 x0 1 1 1 3.5
7WGM Belakovskaia, Anjelina22630 0 0 ½ ½ 1 x0 1 0 3.0
8WFM Kats, Alena21440 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 x0 ½ 3.0
9WFM Chiang, Sarah20980 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 x1 2.5
10WIM Ni, Viktorija22620 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 x2.0

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Training for the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII

Long story short -- I promised the chess femmes that I would play in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII.  I just noticed tonight, how could I have missed this? - that Challenge XVIII is scheduled for October 12, 2013.  That is the anniversary date of Don McLean's death (my Mr. Don). 

What was I thinking???  Surely I knew that date before I made my promise?  Oy!  How could I have committed to playing in a chess tournament on the anniversary date of Mr. Don's death.  What was I thinking?  But - my memory isn't so good these days, which puts paid to trying to become a championship level chessplayer at this point in my life, har!  Perhaps I had a good reason for saying I would do this, I just cannot remember it right now.

Ach!  Well, I've lost my mind many times over the years, and maybe it happened to be lost at the time I made the promise that I would appear and play at Challenge XVIII.  But I keep my promises, insane or not.  It's a personal thing, and a family thing too.  Grandpa Newton was very big on giving one's word and then keeping it, no matter what.  These days giving one's word is a "sport" ala "Survivor," which has popularized lying with a phoney smile on one's face to someone who decides to trust you, all for the sake of winning fithly lucre. 

Anyway, just a little while ago tonight I realized, while checking the date for Challenge XVIII, that I will, in fact, be playing in a chess tournament on the anniversary of Mr. Don's death.  And I don't know whether to cry or to laugh. 

Be that as it may, I have been "in training" since shortly after whatever date it was that I said I would play in Challenve XVIII.  My buddies, Ellen Wanek and Shira Evans Sanford, are my chessly sparring partners, and right now I have a game going with a player at that I do not know.   I've lost every single game I've played since the start of my training, and it's really ticking me off, let me tell you! 

How could I have hung a rook on my back rank - it was like move 12?  Geez Louise!

And I resigned my last game against Shira when I could see checkmate in 2.  I mean, at that point, what's the point in playing to ignominious checkmate, I ask you! 


Yes, I've thought about quitting, and now I have a very good excuse, don't I.  But after licking my bruised ego for a few days for being such a crappy hopeless chessplayer -- and who DOES NOT hate to lose???? -- I challenged my buddies to new games and we are slogging along once again.  Ellen keeps talking about openings and I'm like "What?????"  Finally figured out, with her gentle prodding, that pawn to d4 as an opening move is a Queen's Opening.  DUH!

Oh, I also know (I think) that white's first move pawn to e4 is something called the Ruy Lopez, after a dude who lived in the 16th century (or was it the 17th century?) and was a very famous chessplayer of the day.  I could probably write a credible essay on Ruy Lopez and his influence on the modern game of western chess and earn an A from a non-chessplayer.  Doesn't mean I know squat about playing chess, though.

And I don't know squat about playing chess.  I ask myself all the time, how can that be, since you dream up the most brilliant games and are many times world champion, kicking the butts off players such as Shirov, Anand, Kasparov, and Carlsen is now in my sights...

Alas, dreams are not so easy to translate to the reality of the 64 squares in the light of day.  Since I seem to have next to no memory these days (sad to say), even if I desired to memorize certain moves and sequences of moves, I do not know that I would be able to do so.  But I see no practical reason to desire to try to memorize sequences of moves in an attempt to recognize "patterns" of play and how to respond thereto.  I seriously lack motivation, other than to assuage my own ego.  And right now, darlings, ego ain't winning this battle.  How to reconcile the reality of my limited brain capacity, my limited amount of time to devote to learning (and do I want to?) and my overall lack of chessly skill with my generally competitive nature - well I guess that's a question for Plato or Aristotle, but both of those dudes are dead.

Doesn't sound very promising, heh?  LOL!  So, I'm slogging along, losing game after game after game, and I'm pretty sure I'm not learning a thing.  Well, I did learn that d4 is a Queen's opening.  Thanks, Ellen!  Does that make a whit of difference to me or my chessly abilities?  Nah.  Not when I cannot remember the same moves that I must have played dozens of times over and over already, all to the same losing result.

Now I'm just moving pieces here and there, well -- try this Jan, try that Jan. When desperate, one is willing to try crazy things and frankly darlings, right now, I've no idea what is going on in any of my chess games except they all seem to be quite insane.  Not that I'm the sanest person to begin with, mind you.  I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm doing except trying to use the simplest and yet complex rules of Susan Polgar's learn how to play chess lessons to infants aged 2 and under: always guard your pieces with placement of your other pieces, always look for a way to attack, use retreats strategically.  Ok.  Makes perfectly good sense.  Got that?  NOPE!

Pathogen That Caused 1840's Irish Potato Crop Failure Identified

This is absolutely fascinating!  Imagine preserving evidence of the potato famine for so many years.  How, and why?  Who did it, and when?

From BBC News

Irish potato famine pathogen identified

Ancient Fish and Seafood Eaters and Their Surprising Relationship with Dogs

The findings from the research in this study appear to have surprised some scholars.


Prehistoric Dog Lovers Liked Seafood, Jewelry, Spirituality

An analysis of ancient dog burials finds that the typical prehistoric dog owner ate a lot of seafood, had spiritual beliefs, and wore jewelry that sometimes wound up on the dog.

The first domestication of dogs might have taken place 31,700 years ago.
“The most remarkable difference between these dogs and recent dog
breeds is the size of the teeth,” paleontologist Mietje Germonpré said.
This particular specimen was found with a still-visible mammoth bone in its mouth.
Mietje Germonpré
[Someone took the time and loving care to put a bone in this doggy's mouth
to accompany it to - wherever they thought it might be going...]

The study, published in PLoS ONE, is one of the first to directly test if there was a clear relationship between the practice of dog burial and human behaviors. The answer is yes.

"Dog burials appear to be more common in areas where diets were rich in aquatic foods because these same areas also appear to have had the densest human populations and the most cemeteries," lead author Robert Losey, a University of Alberta anthropologist, told Discovery News.

The discovery negates speculation that dogs back in the day were just work animals brought along on hunting trips.

"If the practice of burying dogs was solely related to their importance in procuring terrestrial game, we would expect to see them in the Early Holocene (around 9,000 years ago), when human subsistence practices were focused on these animals," Losey continued. "Further, we would expect to see them in later periods in areas where fish were never really major components of the diet and deer were the primary focus, but they are rare or absent in these regions."

For the study, Losey and his team researched dog burials worldwide, but focused particularly on ones located in Eastern Siberia. Siberia appears to have been an ancient hotbed of dog lovers, with the earliest known domesticated dog found there and dating to 33,000 years ago. Dog burials in this region, however, span across a more recent 10,000-year period.

The researchers found that most of the dog burials in this area occurred during the Early Neolithic 7,000-8,000 years ago. Dogs were only buried when human hunter-gatherers were also being buried. When pastoralists later came through, they did not bury dogs, although they did sacrifice them from time to time.

"I think the hunter-gatherers here saw some of their dogs as being nearly the same as themselves, even at a spiritual level," Losey said. "At this time, dogs were the only animals living closely with humans, and they were likely known at an individual level, far more so than any other animal people encountered. People came to know them as unique, special individuals."

The burials reflect that association. One dog, for example, was laid to rest "much like it is sleeping." A man was buried with two dogs, one carefully placed to the left of his body, and the other to the right. A dog was buried with a round pebble, possibly a toy or meaningful symbol, placed in its mouth. Still other dogs were buried with ornaments and implements, such as spoons and stone knives.

One of the most interesting burials contains a dog wearing a necklace made out of four red deer tooth pendants. Such necklaces appear to have been a fashion and/or symbolic trend at the time, since people wore them too.

"The dog buried wearing the necklace was buried in a region where human diets were relatively rich in riverine fish," Losey said. "The dog, however, was consuming relatively little fish, having a protein diet with more emphasis on terrestrial game. This suggests the dog was likely a recent arrival in the region, and its body chemistry had not yet adjusted to the local fish diet."

All of the hunter-gatherer dogs were similar in appearance to large varieties of huskies, similar to today’s Siberian huskies.

Erik Axelsson, a researcher at Uppsala University’s Science for Life Laboratory, has also studied prehistoric dogs. He too found that human and dog diets, burial practices and more often paralleled each other, revealing how close the dog-human bond has been for thousands of years.

Axelsson said, "Dogs and humans share the same environment, we eat similar food and we get similar diseases."

Based on the number of burials, we also often spend eternity together too. [I sure hope so.  I miss my doggies so much -- all of them, going back to childhood.]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Were Clothes Invented?

An interesting question, and one I've wondered about myself from time to time.  Archaeologist Becky Wragg Sykes (@LeMoustier), a postdoctoral researcher working on Neanderthal archaeology, responds in a column at The Guardian Online:

Sifting the Evidence
By Suzi Gage
Hosted by The Guardian

Who invented clothes? A Palaeolithic archaeologist answers


"Who invented clothes?" It's one of those brilliant questions that children ask, before they learn that the big things we wonder about rarely have simple answers. It's the kind of thing that archaeologists like me get put on the spot about when chatting to kids, and we love to have a crack at answering.

there's a whole lot we know about the invention of clothing. Many TV reconstructions and book illustrations of stone age (Palaeolithic) people really don't do them justice. People were already making finely worked bone needles 20,000 years ago, probably for embroidery as much as sewing animal skins, like the thousands of ivory beads and fox teeth that covered the bodies of a girl and a boy buried at Sunghir, Russia, around 28,000 years ago. This was some serious bling, representing years of accumulated work.

And – caveman stereotypes aside – stone age clothes weren't just animal skins. We've known since the 1990s that people were weaving fabric back then, revealed by impressions in baked clay from the sites of Pavlov and Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic. We don't actually know for sure that these were used for clothes, but the materials weren't heavy duty, and the variety in weaving styles suggests a long tradition. And at Dzudzuana Cave in Georgia, 30,000 year old spun plant fibres were found which had been dyed: pink, black and turquoise blue!

But what about the really old stuff (because 30,000 years ago isn't really old in human evolution)? As Harriet asks, who were the first fashionistas? People are still debating what, if anything, our close relatives the Neanderthals were wearing.

Neanderthals lived in Europe for much longer than our own species, and for some of that time, it really was an ice-blasted world. Research into how mammals – including humans – keep their body temperature at healthy levels suggests that even during the warmer parts of the last ice age, they would have needed decent body coverings. Skins thrown over their shoulders – Palaeo-pashminas? – wouldn't have cut it.

Another study looked at what modern day hunter-gatherers wear according to the local climate, and built a model predicting what Neanderthals would have needed to wear to stay warm. Even after correcting for Neanderthals being able to cope better with the cold, the results suggested they would have needed to cover at least 80% of their body during cold periods, especially hands and feet.

Quite astonishingly, there is physical evidence that Neanderthals more than 100,000 years ago were tanning animal skins – a stone tool from the site of Neumark-Nord in Germany has preserved scraps of organic material stuck to it that were soaked in tannin, the substance in oak bark used to make leather. It was probably part of the tool handle that got wet while the hides were being worked.
Although they lacked fine needles of the sort found much later, Neanderthals didn't need these to sew their leather, as their abilities to make stone and wood tools were easily enough to produce a sharp piercing object for threading thong.

Further back in time things get more fuzzy, but also really interesting. We have to get down and dirty – with lice. Body lice are adapted to living in clothes, and so must have evolved once humans started to wear them. DNA evidence suggests this happened at least 170,000 years ago and so people must have been wearing clothes even earlier than the oldest archeological evidence.

And here's the intriguing thing: when we get back this far, hundreds of thousands of years ago, we're talking about multiple kinds of humans. Even 40,000 years ago, there were still three "species" we know of: early members of our lineage, the Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans, a species represented by fragmentary remains of three individuals from one cave in Siberia. Given that very recent (and ongoing) genetic analysis is showing breeding between all three groups, very likely at different times and places, it's quite possible that the lice we have now hopped from one group to another, even if they weren't all wearing clothes all the time.

So, Who Discovered Australia?

What does "discovered" mean?  Was the land "discovered" by the prehistoric human arrivals, who came 60,000 to 40,000 years ago (with some disputed evidence claiming a date of 120,000 plus years ago...) and stayed? Was the land discovered by the first people who laid claim to it in the name of some sovereign or other?  What about casual visitors, or shipwrecked souls?

This is interesting, but to my way of thinking who "discovered" Australia was settled when the first "aborgines" arrived.

From The

X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history

Ancient African coins lead experts to question who discovered islands

GM Josh Friedel Lecture at Southwest Chess Club!

Hola everyone!

While the weather today is horrid (cold and raining), the news is great! 

GM Josh Friedel who now resides in Wisconsin (didn't know that) will be giving a lecture at my adopted Chess Club, Southwest Chess Club, on May 30, 2013.  Here are the particulars:

We are pleased to announce that Grandmaster Josh Friedel is once again coming to our club. He will give a 3-hour lecture at 7 pm, May 30, at our normal club meeting location in Hales Corners.

GM Friedel is currently the #1 player in Wisconsin, #40 in the US, and has participated in the US Championships (6th place in 2009).  Professional website.

Josh will be presenting a lecture entitled: Practical Tournament Situations (with a question and answer session following the lecture). 

There will be a $5 charge for adults (club members or non-members, pay at door), and Free admission for Juniors (18 and under).

Southwest Chess Club meets at the Hales Corners Village Hall Police Station, located at 5635 South New Berlin Road, Hales Corners, Wisconsin, in the downstairs Community Room. Club open at 6 PM.

Southwest Chess Club website.
Southwest Chess Club blog.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma: Small and Large Miracles

You've no doubt heard of the horrific F4 tornado that devasted a large swatch of Moore, Oklahoma yesterday afternoon as parents were at work and children were in school. 

An aerial view shows Briarwood Elementary School with vehicles thrown about after Monday's tornado, Tuesday,
May 21, 2013, in Moore, Okla. At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed in the massive tornado that
flattened homes and a school in Moore, on Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The death toll is grim, injuries worse.  The destruction is - unimaginable.  Tonight NBC has a special report on the latest. 

Miraculously, in one badly damaged school everyone was safe.  Unfortunately, in another grade school many young children (K through 3rd grade) were killed or seriously injured as the school was totally destroyed.

No basements to hide in.  To save money.  No basements put in, or storm shelters, either, because well, it just costs too much.  Nobody wants to pay higher taxes to protect our children...

Teachers -- here in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans have made them PUBLIC ENEMY #1 - greedy bastards and bitches only ripping off the taxpayers while not giving a hoot about the kids they were "supposed" to be teaching -- teachers in Moore risked their lives and limbs, using their bodies as human shields over their students.  Some of them were killed.  Heroine after heroine, because these days as you know, in the United States most teachers are women, and therefore being a teacher has somehow become a second-rate career choice, meant only for those who can't do anything better, tsk tsk, people who are lazy and corrupt and no good and lousy teachers not worth the incredible salaries and benefit packages they all receive.  Yeah - do you know any teacher who's a millionaire?  I sure the hell do not!  But today that's the fashionable attitude toward these protectors of our children, encouraged as gospel truth by those almighty bible thumping gospel-spewing hypocrites of the Tea Party.  These saviors of our children are Persona Non Grata and if you believe all the propaganda from the nut cases on the far right, they are gutter garbage.

Thanks to NBC for showing so many of these heroic teachers on commercial television this evening and telling their stories.  Thanks to the press for having the guts to do the same on line and in print.  How much is the life of a child worth, that politicians in Oklahoma wouldn't come up with a program to pay for storm shelters to be added to schools?  Did the politicians' aides do benefit-costs analyses that I learned how to do in Econ 101 in 1976 and conclude that spending millions of dollars to save childrens' lives in school buildings wasn't worth the cost?   How much is the life of twenty - or more - children worth?  Ask yourselves that question, taxpayers...

I salute the heroic teachers of Moore, Oklahoma, who laid it all on the line to save "their" children - our children - their pupils. 

Jessica Hartogs /
CBS News/ May 21, 2013, 4:48 PM

From The Mail Online

'I love you, please don't die with me': Hero teacher who shielded students with her body in bathroom stall at Plaza Towers school reveals the children's terror as monster tornado tore down the building around them

  • Seven children have been killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma
  • One little girl told how she clung to her school desk as the tornado roared through the small town on Monday
  • Fourth-grader Damien Kline said teacher Rhonda Crosswhite saved his life as she sheltered the children in the bathroom stalls while the school collapsed
  • One rescuer broke down as he told how they lifted a car to find a teacher underneath, her body covering three children

These are just a few of the stories that you can find online this evening about our heroic teachers who, in some cases, gave all to save the lives of their students.  Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin Scott Walker and his Republican majority continue to war on women and children. 

There is one other story I want to share with you.  You probably don't know, because I did not start this blog until April, 2007 and the last of my doggies, Tasha, had died more than 3 years before.  As I built this house in the winter-1989 through summer-1990, I already owned two dogs, both dogs that I saved from uncaring owners.  There was little Spencer, a very expensive "peek-a-poo" with a bad attitude, and the loving but nervous and jumpy Jocques, a miniature Schnauzer who was terrified in thunder storms.  They - and I - moved into this house in August, 1990.  A year or so later, I saw a story on television about a brave heroine of a dog, a resident at the time at the Milwaukee Humane Society, who had been rescued with a full litter of pups from underneath the porch of an abandoned house in one of the poorest, crime-ridden areas of the city.  She not only nursed her pups until they were weaned and all of them successfully adopted, she also subsequently nursed other puppies who were found abandoned -- pups who were not even hers.  Well, about me and 10,000 other people jammed the lines of the Humane Society offering to adopt this mamma dog.  Mamma dog was long gone by the time I got through, but I was invited to come down and look at the other dogs and, of course, bleeding heart liberal and soft-touch that I am, I did go down the very next night.  I rooked a friend into taking me there and saw 4 dogs I wanted to adopt.  Impossible, of course.  I did adopt one - my sweet natured, gigantic and clumsy lug of a Doberman-Brown Lab mix, Tasha, who was 11 months old at the time and did lots of chewing damage around the house until she was done "teething."  LOL!   It was love at first sight.

Well, I won't go into all the details.  My heart was broken when Spencer died during a horrible brain seizure that happened in March, 1999.  And then, Jocques was diagnosed with canine diabetes and went blind during a critical episode and spent 4 days at an animal hospital.  Thousands of dollars later, I brought a blind Jocques home.  He survived for 13 more months.  I was not able to give him his shots of insulin 2x a day -- my hands shook too much and my nervousness transmitted to Jocques instantly, of course.  So, instead, I hired a veternarian technician to come to the house 2x a day, every day, and paid $300 a month to have this service performed for me.  I have to say that Jocques loved Laurie, my tech, and she loved him back fiercely.  When I called her the day he passed and broke down crying as I gave her the news, she broke down crying too.  Sweet, wonderful, loving Laurie.  I will always be grateful to her for her fine care of Jocques those last months of his life.

Tasha was getting older.  She was getting grey hair (just like moi), and she was slowing down, and had bad cataracts.  She could no longer jump up on the bed at night to share it with me, and so I bought her a feather bed to sleep on and put it as close to the bed as I could but placed so I wouldn't step on her when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (you know, us post-menopausal women, we have to pee in the middle of the night sometimes...).  One day, Tasha couldn't get up.  Her legs wouldn't hold her up. 

So, I know about the fierce permanent unseverable bonds that exist between a human and her doggies, my faithful companions for many years, who had the amazing ability to know when I needed to be comforted because of various heart aches, or when I was sick and ailing, or when I was angry, and happy, or sad.

So, I hope this news video will bring tears to your eyes, as it did to mine, and warm your heart, too:

At Newsmax

Dog Found on Live TV: Pooch Buried in Tornado Reunited as Cameras Roll

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 02:16 PM
By Stephanie Hinderer

An Oklahoma tornado survivor found her missing dog among the rubble of her house and was reunited on video while being interviewed by CBS News. Footage of the buried dog and his owner are going viral on social media.

Barbara Garcia tells the story of sitting on a stool in her bathroom clutching her dog while waiting for the tornado to pass. She said the electricity went out at the same time she felt the stool move from underneath her as the tornado hit. She “rolled around a little bit” and called for her dog. He didn’t come.

In the video, as CBS News’ Anna Werner asks Garcia her what she thinks of the devastation, the reporter suddenly exclaims, “the dog!” and the camera moves to reveal a scruffy face peeking out from the rubble.

Garcia asks the news crew to help her rescue him, and as they pull away the rubble, the dog crawls out and stands while his owner pets him.

Garcia thanks God, then says, “Well I thought God just answered one prayer to let me be OK, but he answered both of them. Because this was my second prayer,” she said, referring to her little dog, who appears to walk away without even a limp.

Emergency crews continued to search the wreckage of Moore, Okla., on Tuesday after an F4 tornado hit the town Monday. At least 24 people were killed by the storm. Earlier reports put the toll at 51 deaths, but it was revised after officials said many people were counted twice.

President Obama called the tornado “one of the most destructive” in history and declared that Oklahoma “needs to get everything it needs right away.”

The twister followed a similar path of a tornado that hit the area in May 1999. This was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998.

The destruction comes almost exactly two years after a deadly tornado hit Joplin, Mo., killing 158 people.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Curator Lepper Disses Theory Put Forward in 1960's by Female Archaeologist

The largest ever genetic study of native South Americans identified a sub-population in Ecuador with an unexpected link to eastern Asia. The study, published in PLOS Genetics, concluded that Asian genes had been introduced into South America sometime after 6,000 years ago ... 

But Lepper doesn't believe it.  Well, read the article and judge for yourself.  A large DNA study isn't good enough evidence for Bradley Lepper, evidently.  What kind of evidence do you require, dude?

From The Columbus Dispatch
Archaeology | Studies examine clues of transoceanic contact
Sunday May 19, 2013 8:33 AM

Pottery offers a bonanza of information for archaeologists. It represents a revolution in container technology, and the clay from which it is made provides a canvas with many possibilities for self-expression.As a result, differences and similarities in pottery decorations can offer clues about cultural relationships over space and through time.

Residues on pots reveal important clues to how people used their pottery. An international team of scientists reported last month in the journal Nature the results of chemical analyses of the charred gunk on the surfaces of pottery shards from Jomon period sites in Japan. They determined it was composed mostly of the oily residue from cooking ocean fish.

The Jomon culture was mentioned in other news this month. The largest ever genetic study of native South Americans identified a sub-population in Ecuador with an unexpected link to eastern Asia.The study, published in PLOS Genetics, concluded that Asian genes had been introduced into South America sometime after 6,000 years ago — the same time the Jomon culture was flourishing in Japan.

Back in the 1960s, the renowned Smithsonian archaeologist Betty Meggers argued that similarities between the pottery of the contemporaneous Valdivia culture in Ecuador and Japan’s Jomon culture indicated that Japanese fishermen had “discovered” America about 5,000 years ago.

Few archaeologists took this idea seriously. Gordon McEwan and Bruce Dickson, writing in a 1978 issue of American Antiquity, pointed out significant flaws with the hypothesis. [Such as...]

First of all, Pacific Ocean currents did not provide a direct route from Japan to Ecuador. [So they could not possibly have landed in South America and travelled along the coast?  Or landed and travelled on land near the coast?] Second, Jomon dugout canoes were unlikely to have been sufficiently seaworthy to allow a crew to survive an extended voyage across the ocean. Finally, food and fresh water would have been difficult to obtain. [After Kontiki and Kontiki II, are you frigging kidding me?]

Writing in 1980, Meggers expressed frustration that transoceanic contact as an explanation for cultural similarities was dismissed by dogmatic colleagues as “cult archaeology,” and she complained that “no amount of evidence” could convince them. [Guess what - she was right, judging by this dude!]

I can appreciate Meggers’ frustration [no you can't], but although it’s likely that no amount of the same type of evidence that she marshaled in support of her original argument could make a thoroughly convincing case, I believe that most archaeologists could be convinced if compelling new evidence for transpacific contact were uncovered. [And what, precisely, would be compelling enough to you to prove that Meggers was correct in her original instincts, hmmmmm?]

The discovery of an apparent genetic link between eastern Asians and Ecuadoran natives provides intriguing independent support for Meggers’ hypothesis. [Apparent genetic link?] Moreover, the fact that Jomon pottery was used predominantly for cooking seafood suggests that Jomon fishermen would have had little trouble feeding themselves on a long ocean voyage.

Transoceanic contact long has been a popular explanation for cultural similarities, such as the occurrence of pyramids in both Egypt and Mexico. Archaeologists have demonstrated, however, that such similarities are largely superficial and meaningless. When closely examined, Egyptian and Mayan pyramids turn out to be fundamentally different things. [And this is what you accept as conclusive evidence that NO Japanese ever stepped foot in South America during the period in question?  Bwwwwwaaaaaahhhhaaaaaa!  Perfect quote from The Ten Commandments:  Ann Baxter as Nefertiri, to Yul Brenner as Ramses: Do you hear laughter, Pharaoh?]

Meggers might prove to have been right after all about the origins of Valdivia pottery, but she was wrong to attribute the rejection of her ideas to scientific dogmatism. [Not wrong, dude.  Until you've walked in her shoes, how can you possible make such a silly assertion?  How old are you?  Twelve?]  Meggers simply didn’t have the extraordinary evidence to support her extraordinary claim. [And where is your extraordinary evidence to disprove she was wrong, heh?  I think it's quite clear that you have utterly failed to convince me that you are right, but you certainly have convinced me that you are a Schmuck - with a capital "S."]

Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.

2013 Asian Women's Zonal 3.1

As reported at The Week in Chess:

Held May 4 - 12, 2013
Dohar, Qatar

Asian Zonal 3.1 w Doha QAT Sat 4th May 2013 - Sun 12th May 2013
Leading Final Round 9 Standings:
1Zhu ChenGMQAT24918.50.032.508
2Hejazipour MitraWIMIRI22368.00.029.007
3Ghader Pour ShayestehWIMIRI22427.50.025.007
4Dahdal LougainWIMJOR19725.50.015.255
5Saleh Nora MohdWIMUAE18924.50.010.753
6Jalloul Maya M.WFMLIB19624.00.07.504
7Al-Khelaifi SalamaWFMQAT18103.00.55.002
8Al-Khelaifi AishaQAT16813.00.54.752
9Faqeeh AseelPLE01.00.00.001
10AL-Ramadan NadyaKUW00.00.00.000
10 players

Continental Americas Championships 2013

May 7 - 15, 2013

So proud of this young lady!  She finished in 5th place overall (her brother finished in 4th place also with 8.0/11):

1Granda Zuniga Julio EGMPER26599.507265.5
2Ortiz Suarez Isan ReynaldoGMCUB25988.507458
3Flores DiegoGMARG2586807355.5
4Cori JorgeGMPER25468067.550.5
5Cori T. DeysiWGMPER2430806145.5

Deysi Cori "qualified for the world chess."  Not sure if this means the overall knock-out championship that will determine the next challenger to the World Chess Championship, or if this qualifies her for the Women's Chess Championship knock-out (?) event.  Oh yeah, there were lots more players.  One chess femme finished in 27th place overall, hooray for her:

21Sarkar JustinIMUSA24376.507039
22Martinez Alcantara Jose EduarFMPER22086.5067.540
23Pacheco MarcoIMPER23846.5066.538
24Hambleton AmanIMCAN24686.506638
25Cueto JonnyIMBOL22636.5062.533.25
26Aguilar AndresARG22336.506234
27Chumpitaz AnnWIMPER21556.5058.533.25
28Gemy Jose DanielIMBOL23206.5057.534

As you can see, Chumpitaz finished in a group of players who finished at 6/5/11, all of whom have higher ELOs than hers.  Way to go!

Other female players and their final standings (from

WFMAliaga Fernandez Ingrid YPER21845.
Ramirez M. EugeniaBOL19965.50.050.522.2544.0185593.54.03-0.5315-7.9
WCMBorda CarlaBOL19505.00.051.520.5044.51962932.440.56158.4
WIMCordero DanielaBOL20744.50.050.520.7544.01996114.55.65-1.1515-17.3
Prado AlexandraBOL17904.50.049.519.5043.52018114.51.792.711540.7
WIMEstrada LuciaBOL20344.
Mattes Del Castillo AddyBOL03.
Molina JessicaBOL15853.

(It looks like 93 players actually competed).

Chess Ladies Vienna

Hola darlings!

This team event takes place May 18 - 26, 2013. 

I love the translation to English at the official website :)  The three items below are from the official website of the Austrian Chess Federation.  Standings below are from
Of 18 to 26 May, there is an international women's grandmaster tournament in Vienna House of chess. At the start, the Austrian women's team with Eva Moser, Anna-Christina Kopinits, Catherine Newrkla, Anna-Lena and Veronika Maritschnegg Exler. In a tournament neunrundigen the Austrians will face strong international competition. From Russia and the Ukraine, the United champions Anastasia Savina and Tatiana Kostiuk come. The International champions Elena Boric (BHI) and Anne Have (NED) and the FIDE champion Nargiz Umudova (AZE) complete the field. Umudova sensationally won a few days ago in Vienna Tschaturanga open before the higher assessed International Masters Twan Burg (NED), Georg Froewis, Siegfried Baumegger (both AUT) and Vienna's grandmaster Nicholas Stanec. The tournament is a part of the preparation for the European team, on the other hand the possibility to achieve standards. (Wk) results in Chess-Results To Broadcast ... (Sat-Sat respectively 15:00, Sun 10:00 Final Round)
An encouraging opening victory of the young Tyrolean Anna-Lena Maritschnegg there are at Chess Ladies Vienna. Schnegg defeated the Aserbeidschanerin Nargiz Umudova that began their stay in Vienna with a surprise victory in the Open Tschaturanga. A tough fight Anna-Christina Kopinits and Eva Moser deliver it. The duel between the reigning national champion and Austria's longtime number 1 brings the end but no winner. The Viennese Catherine Newrkla starts with a draw against Ukrainian Tatiana Kosiuk (2321) in the tournament. Win succeed even against the Dutch Anne Have Veronika Exler and Russian Anastasia Savina against the Bosnian Elena Boric. The opening made ​​by organizer John Pöcksteiner in the presence of President Christian Hursky Vienna, ÖSB Vice President Robert Zsifkovits and the Austrian "EM-hero" Mark Ragger and David Shengelia. (Wk) results in Chess-Results , photos in the photo gallery ÖSB To Broadcast ... (Sat-Sat respectively 15:00, Sun 10:00 Final Round)

The Women's 4-country battle begins at Pentecost 2013 in the idyllic Styrian Graz Semriach at the foot of the mountain Schoeckl house with two clear wins by 4-2 against Upper Austria Burgenland and Lower Austria to Styria. Upper Austria owes the success of victories by Christa Hackbarth and Andrea Nagy, the Lower Austrians win by Michaela Hapala, Monika Molnar and Catherine Hapala three times. For the favored Styrian inside a victory by Barbara Schink is too little. The organizing team with Andreas Schmidbauer and Alfred Harrer offers generous playing conditions and an active social program. The event was opened by Mayor James Semriachs Taibinger. (Wk) results / matches at Chess-Results , ÖSB photos in the Photo Gallery

Results R3:


3. Runde am 20.05.2013 um 10:00
Br.2 SteiermarkElo-4 OberösterreichElo6 : 0
1.1WFMSchink, Barbara2179-WMKNagy, Laura18371 - 0
1.2WMKZechner, Andrea1987-WMKHackbarth, Christa17821 - 0
1.3WMKKlinkan, Elisabeth1980-Bernhard, Julia17191 - 0
1.4WMKLandl, Margot1812-Lasinger, Melanie15951 - 0
1.5WMKSchmidbauer, Andrea Mag.1758-Nagy, Andrea15941 - 0
1.6Steiner, Magdalena1544-WMKAlmert, Margit14931 - 0
Br.3 NiederösterreichElo-1 BurgenlandElo4 : 2
2.1WMKHapala, Lisa2061-WFMHorvath, Maria19691 - 0
2.2Trippold, Denise1849-Rampler, Evelyn18441 - 0
2.3WMKHapala, Michaela DDr.1803-Tschida, Verena17281 - 0
2.4WMKMolnar, Monika1787-WMKUnger, Eva1681½ - ½
2.5WMKHohendanner, Sonja Mag.1529-WMKArtner, Waltraud1641½ - ½
2.6Hapala, Katharina1445-Steininger, Barbara16190 - 1

And this is individual win/loss count on each board (6 boards) thus far:

Die besten Spieler je Brett: nach Prozent

Mindestpartieanzahl 60%

1. Brett
1WFMSchink Barbara2179Steiermark100.03.03
2WMKHapala Lisa2061Niederösterreich66.72.03
3WMKNagy Laura1837Oberösterreich16.70.53
4WFMHorvath Maria1969Burgenland16.70.53
2. Brett
1Trippold Denise1849Niederösterreich83.32.53
2WMKZechner Andrea1987Steiermark66.72.03
3WMKHackbarth Christa1782Oberösterreich33.31.03
4Rampler Evelyn1844Burgenland16.70.53
3. Brett
1WMKHapala Michaela DDr.1803Niederösterreich66.72.03
2WMKKlinkan Elisabeth1980Steiermark66.72.03
3Bernhard Julia1719Oberösterreich50.01.53
4Tschida Verena1728Burgenland16.70.53
4. Brett
1WMKUnger Eva1681Burgenland66.72.03
2Lasinger Melanie1595Oberösterreich50.01.53
3WMKMolnar Monika1787Niederösterreich50.01.53
4WMKLandl Margot1812Steiermark33.31.03
5. Brett
1WMKSchmidbauer Andrea Mag.1758Steiermark83.32.53
2WMKHohendanner Sonja Mag.1529Niederösterreich50.01.53
3Nagy Andrea1594Oberösterreich50.01.53
4WMKArtner Waltraud1641Burgenland16.70.53
6. Brett
1Steininger Barbara1619Burgenland66.72.03
2Hapala Katharina1445Niederösterreich50.01.53
3Steiner Magdalena1544Steiermark50.01.53
4WMKAlmert Margit1493Oberösterreich33.31.03

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Check Out this Isis Ivory Carved by Phoenician Artisans

Volume 91 Issue 20 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 20, 2013 | Web Date: May 17, 2013

It's exquisite!  The detailed carving of the wings, the depiction of the double crown of Egypt, and Isis holds lotus plants in her hands.  I wonder if Nephthys was on the other side of the broken ivory.  She is often indistinguishable from Isis, except for her headwear (the "cup.") And the figure in the middle - Bes? 
This Phoenician sculpture made of ivory was once gilded.
Credit: Courtesy of Musée du Louvre/R. Chipault

Archaeology’s Hidden Secrets

Ancient Ivory: Metal traces on Phoenician artifacts show long-gone paint and gold
By Sarah Everts
Ancient ivory carvings made by Phoenician artists some 3,000 years ago have long hidden a secret, even while being openly displayed in museums around the world: The sculptures were originally painted with colorful pigments, and some were decorated with gold.

Researchers based in France and Germany report chemical analyses showing that 8th-century B.C. Phoenician ivory artifacts bear metal traces that are invisible to the naked eye (Anal. Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ac4006167).
These metals are found in pigments commonly used in antiquity, such as the copper-based pigment Egyptian blue or the iron-based pigment hematite. The metals are not normally in ivory nor in the soil where the artifacts were long buried, explains Ina Reiche, a chemist at the Laboratory of Molecular & Structural Archaeology, in Paris. Reiche led the research, which was performed on ivory originally unearthed in Syria and now held at Baden State Museum, in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Phoenicians were seafaring Semitic traders who pioneered the use of an alphabet later adopted in ancient Greece, and they controlled the valuable royal-purple pigment trade throughout the Mediterranean during the period 1500–300 B.C.
Scholars had suspected that Phoenician ivory sculptures might initially have been painted, but to date most studies had examined just a few spots on ivory surfaces, Reiche says. Her team used a synchrotron to do X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to analyze the entire surface of the artifacts with micrometer resolution, revealing the spatial distribution of the lost pigmentation.
“Knowledge of an object’s original appearance can help us understand why it was so visually powerful to ancient viewers,” says Benjamin W. Porter, an archaeologist at the University of California, Berkeley. And there are plenty of important objects to examine, he adds. “This technique is transferable to other kinds of ancient art whose pigments have been weathered, from the palace wall reliefs of the Assyrian empire to Egyptian tomb paintings to everyday ceramic vessels whose decorations have been worn.”
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society
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