Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Women's Day 2014

Hola, darlings!  Happy Women's Day to all of my sisters by gender, wherever you may be. Today, March 8, 2014, women around the world are celebrating and commemorating where we have been, how far we have come, and where we have yet to go in our communal journey living on our beautiful Earth as human beings. 

In the image above, ancient Egyptian Priestess, Meretites, and her husband, Kahai, a singer and Director of Music at one of the ancient temples, share a loving moment.  Notice the eye to eye contact and how Meretites is depicted not as a miniature woman at her husband's feet, but as an equal.  It is Meretites initiating the intimacy by placing her arm around her husband's shoulders, her hand resting near Kahai's neck.  This beautiful painting is from their joint tomb, found at Saqarra and dating to about 4,400 years ago.  Women in ancient Egyptian culture had many rights not granted to women in other cultures (sadly, still today in many cultures), including the right to work for pay and keep their own money, the right to own property and to run their own businesses, the right to enter into contracts in their own names, the right to legal process before the courts, and the right to inherit property and devolve their own property to others.

The website for International Women's Day 2014 has a brief history of how this memorial day for women came about.  Celebrations and special events are planned for this day all over the world.  Today, please take a moment to reflect upon the women in your own life, and what your life would be like without them.

Message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon
From Ahram online, March 8, 2014, "The Brave Women of Egypt: A History in Pictures"
From Leymah Gbowee of Al Jazerra online, March 8, 2014, "On International Women's Day, working to make it right
From One India online, March 8, 2014, "Celebs, politicians convey their wishes on International Women's Day"
From ANI, March 8, 2014, at Yahoo news (India), "Women Across Country Participate in Marathon and Walkathon"
From China Daily USA online, March 8, 2014, "Let International Women's Day Inspire Change"
From BBC News online, March 8, 2014, BBC republished this telling graphical report that shows - in maps - just how women fare throughout the world, originally published on October 24, 2013, "Women gain as gender gap narrows"   Highly recommended because it expresses visually, well, you know, "one picture is worth a thousand words..."

Dear Mom, Please Write... wrote ancient Egyptian soldier Polion while serving with a Roman army unit in Hungary some 1,800 years ago.

 We don't know if his family received the letters, or if they replied, or if they did reply, that Polion ever received their letters in return.  No instant messaging or email back then and no U.S. Postal Service or FEDEX.  Did the Romans have a form of postal service for its soldiers scattered all over the known world at that time?  Yes, they did!  This is what a sidebar in the article says:

The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion's family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead.

Article at Live Science

Ancient Egyptian Soldier's Letter Home Deciphered

Statue of Princess Iset Discovered in Tomb of Amenhotep III

Reported by Reuters

Statue of pharaoh's daughter unearthed in Egypt
CAIRO Fri Mar 7, 2014 8:14am EST
(Reporting By Maggie Fick; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Photo from Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities
(Reuters) - A statue of the daughter of King Amenhotep III, grandfather of Tutankhamen and ruler of Egypt around 3,350 years ago, has been unearthed by a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists.

The statue of Princess Iset was discovered at the temple of her pharaoh father on the western bank of the Nile in the southern city of Luxor, the Egyptian antiquities ministry said on Friday.

The new discovery is the first known representation of Iset alone with her father, the ministry said, noting that sculptures on display at the Egyptian Museum depict her and her siblings together with the 18th Dynasty ruler.

The statue is only 1.7 meters (yards) high and is part of a huge, 14-metre alabaster statue of Amenhotep III himself that has been excavated in recent years, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency MENA.

The statue was found between the feet of the seated king. Iset's name and royal title are inscribed near her feet, but her face has suffered from erosion.

Amenhotep III presided over an era which saw a renaissance in Egyptian art. He was succeeded by his son Akhenaten, the sun-worshipping pharaoh credited by some for starting the world's first known monotheistic religion.

Some of ancient Egypt's biggest monuments were constructed during Amenhotep III's reign.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hindu Fundamentalists Score Victory Against Free Speech

Fundies are fundies:  The Taliban, so-called "Christian" (ha!) Bible-thumpers here in the USA, and now, certain Hindus objecting to scholarship based on their own HIStory -- all looking to erase truth in favor of lies and hypocrisy. Lengthy article, WORTH THE READ.  Bullies are in the ascendant everywhere in the world today, it seems.  Do you know the only real way to deal with a bully?  You have to beat the shit out of him - or her - or IT.  Sometimes you can't take the high road.

What is the ultimate irony:  if this fascist Hindu group thinks it will now forever suppress the reading of Wendy Doniger's book, ooooh yeah, dudes (fools)!  Just keep on believing that...

From The Indian Express

Law for bad behaviour

February 21, 2014 11:05 pm
These are grim times for scholars who study India. For years, in both India and the US, the RSS and its allies have bullied and attacked scholars of ancient history and religion who do not portray the past and the gods according to their narrow orthodoxy. What is different now is that the politics of fear is in the ascendant. People previously committed to open scholarship and public debate are running for the hills. And now, with the withdrawal and pulping of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, the bullies have scored a major victory. Penguin, after fighting the legal case against Doniger for four years, suddenly folded, saying that it would be difficult to continue defending Doniger without “deliberately placing themselves outside the law” — the law in question being Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which forbids “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens”. [Sounds suspiciously like a certain bill passed into law that was recently vetoed by the reluctant Governor of the state of Arizona that was labeled a "freedom of religion" law that would have allowed blatant discrimination against anyone who the business owner or an employee, based soley upon his or her own impression and "instinct," deemed religiously persona non grata!)

Penguin’s claim is ridiculous. The lawsuit is extremely weak. It is poorly written and argued, contains absurd errors (even the purported quotes from the book are inaccurate), and its attempt to satisfy the law’s demand for malicious intent is childish — accusing Doniger, a secular Jew, of “Christian missionary zeal” and suggesting that her historically accurate references to sexual elements in the tradition were motivated by her being “a woman hungry of sex”. Ironically, the parts of the book that, according to the lawsuit, show Hinduism in a bad light are simply parts that are true and there: the Hindu tradition is replete with non-judgemental allusions to a variety of sexual desires and activities, including those of the gods, whether the new Hindu fundamentalists like this or not. So how could anyone be convicted of defaming a religion simply because she points to texts that some people would rather forget? As Doniger said recently in The New York Times, the shoe is on the other foot: it is they who say parts of their own religion are bad, whereas she admires Hinduism’s treatment of sexuality as natural and beautiful.

2014 Mediterranean Flowers WGM Tournament

Taking place March 2 - 8, 2014, in Rijeka, Croatia.  Here are the standings after Round 7 (2 more to go):

Rank after Round 7

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgIPts. TB1 TB2 TB3 Rpnwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMFoisor Cristina-AdelaROU23676.01.00.062864665.001.001010.0
WGMNikolova AdrianaBUL23416.00.00.052375765.710.29154.3
WGMVidenova IvaBUL22515.50.00.05236475.54.540.961514.4
WGMMedic MirjanaCRO22353.50.50.01211273.54.57-1.0715-16.0
Jacimovic SaraBIH20173.00.00.522125732.190.811512.1
Tonel GiuliaITA20363.00.00.522102732.540.46156.9
WFMNovak KsenijaSLO20823.00.0-1.022134732.610.39155.8
WIMBerke AnaCRO20932.50.50.01208262.52.65-0.1515-2.3
WFMPurgar IvonaCRO21111.50.50.00196071.52.81-1.3115-19.6
Ljikar TamaraCRO18870.00.00.001367701.38-1.3815-20.7
Tie Break1: Koya Tie-Break
Tie Break2: Direct Encounter (The results of the players in the same point group)
Tie Break3: The greater number of victories

2014 European Individual Chess Championship

The Armenian Chess Federation is the host of this year's 2014 European Individual Chess Championship, taking place March 2-15, 2014 (play dates March 3-8, rest day March 9, March 10-14).  Official website.

Top prize is $20,000, and there is some tough competition, with 263 players!

Among them are some chess femmes, including GM Judit Polgar!  Glad to see her playing and I was shocked -- I thought she was retired!  Here are the ladies according to players' list:

Judit ranks 17th by ELO overall:

17GMPolgar Judit 700070HUN2693w
106GMDzagnidze Nana 13601903GEO2546w
127GMStefanova Antoaneta 2902257BUL2486w
132GMDanielian Elina 13300210ARM2467w
134IMMkrtchian Lilit 13300601ARM2465w
140IMMelia Salome 13602446GEO2453w
148WGMGoryachkina Aleksandra 4147103RUS2428w
166IMBulmaga Irina 13903063ROU2375w
168WGMArabidze Meri 13604040GEO2374w
179WGMCharochkina Daria 4180917RUS2359w
187WGMKursova Maria 4129709ARM2326w
188IMGalojan Lilit 13301314ARM2317w
198WGMCherednichenko Svetlana 14105551UKR2270w
214WIMPavlidou Ekaterini 4213262GRE2192w
215WIMHairapetian Anna 13303554ARM2188w
218WFMGevorgyan Maria 13300270ARM2180w
234 Imnadze Nato 13600974GEO2100w
236 Bykova Anastasia 4164970RUS2097w
238 Sargsyan Shushanna 13304372ARM2093w
241 Babayan Armine 13304135ARM2085w
251 Karapetyan Lusine 13303163ARM1985w

After 4 rounds, here are the top players and whatever chess femmes I could pick out of the list:

Ranking Crosstable after Round 4

RankSNo. NameRtgFEDPtsRtgØ
153GMNajer Evgeniy2633RUS42551
19167WGMCharochkina Daria2374RUS32599
2718GMPolgar Judit2693HUN32583
76104GMDzagnidze Nana2546GEO2½​2573
78132IMMkrtchian Lilit2465ARM2½​2568
114166IMBulmaga Irina2375ROU22640
119129GMStefanova Antoaneta2476BUL22616
124186WGMKursova Maria2326ARM22564
127147WGMGoryachkina Aleksandra2424RUS22526
149131GMDanielian Elina2467ARM22415
170160WGMArabidze Meri2388GEO1½​2616
181137IMMelia Salome2453GEO1½​2553
187211WIMHairapetian Anna2188ARM1½​2512
190232 Sargsyan Shushanna2093ARM1½​2480
192216WFMGevorgyan Maria2180ARM1½​2460
208194WGMCherednichenko Svetlana2270UKR12618
212188IMGalojan Lilit2317ARM12583
227226 Bykova Anastasia2132RUS12449
230231WFMImnadze Nato2100GEO12414
241212WIMPavlidou Ekaterini2188GRE½​2519
249241 Gaboyan Susanna2043ARM½​2385
250246 Karapetyan Lusine1985ARM½​2360

I'll report again when the tournament has advanced some.

The Vikings Are Taking Over the British Museum!

EEK!  Seriously, I saw this great photograph of some "beserkers" from what has to be the Lewis chess piece horde, pictured at Minerva's home page:

Minerva, from the March/April 2014 edition
Don't you just love them!  Each one is slightly different from the others - different helmets, different shields.  And the gnawing on the shields -- great touch!  I believe (but am not 100% certain) that these are pawns. 

I hopped over to the British Museum's website to find out more about the exhibition.  I've been fascinated by the Vikings for a long time, not least of which I still remember the old movie "The Vikings" with Tony Curtis as an improbable Greek slave flashing traces of a Brooklyn accent, and Kirk Douglas flashing endless muscles (were those really his arms???), chewing up the scenery every chance he got!  Say what you will about their acting skills, they sure were sexy back in the day :) 

Check out the special page "BP exhibition Vikings Life and Legend" that started today (March 6, 2014) and runs through June 22, 2014. There is a separate admission fee for this exhibit, 16.50 Pounds if paid in person (although members get in free), and additional charges apply for booking tickets on line or via telephone. 

Discover the world of the Vikings in this major exhibition – the first at the British Museum for over 30 years.
The Viking Age (800–1050) was a period of major change across Europe. The Vikings expanded from their Scandinavian homelands to create an international network connecting cultures over four continents, where artistic, religious and political ideas met.

The Vikings’ skill in shipbuilding and seafaring was central to their culture and achievements, and at the heart of the exhibition will be a 37-metre-long warship. Found in 1997, and dating to around 1025, it is the longest Viking ship ever discovered. Many other new discoveries, including part of a mass grave of Viking warriors, will be on display for the first time showing how our understanding of the Vikings is still being changed by new excavations and recent research.

The exhibition will also present personal objects, including jewellery, amulets and idols, which help to reveal more about how the Vikings saw themselves and their world. Exquisite objects, including the magnificent Vale of York Hoard, demonstrate the global reach of the Viking network of trade, plunder and power – a network that left a lasting legacy in countries from Ireland and the UK to Russia and Ukraine.

Enter a world of warriors, seafarers and conquerors to discover the many fascinating aspects of a history that is both strangely alien yet remarkably familiar.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Harappan Civilization May Have Been Killed by 200 Year Drought

Not good news for the southwest USA, for sure, where we've been in a long-term drought going on 50 years now.  Snail shells tell the tale...


Two-hundred-year drought doomed Indus Valley Civilization

Monsoon hiatus that began 4,200 years ago parallels dry spell that led civilizations to collapse in other regions.

China Institute Gallery Open House!

I will forever be grateful for the two trips I was able to take to New York City (2005, 2009) with Mr. Don, Georgia and Michelle Albert. During the 2009 stay in NYC, one of the places we visited was the China Institute:

Mr. Don and I were in the lobby of the Institute, photographed by Georgia (Isis).  This exhibit we saw, the Tombs of Mawangdui, including some artifacts from the tomb of the Countess Dai and a replica of the silk banner that had been, somehow, preserved in her tomb, AWESOME!

It may be relatively small in space, but when it comes to putting on blockbuster exhibits, the China Institute ranks with the best!  The 2009 Noble Tombs of Mawangdui was just one of many incredible exhibits, bringing to the United States things we would otherwise only see online (maybe).  So I'm very happy to publish this announcement:

Asia Week New York 2014
Gallery Open House
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 ~ 6:00-8:00pm
China Institute, 125 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065

In conjunction with Asia Week New York 2014, join us for an intimate evening of dialogue with curators and artists, exploring our current exhibition, Inspired by Dunhuang: Re-creation in Contemporary Chinese Art. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free of charge and open to the public.

To register for this event, please contact Jennifer Lima at or 212-744-8181, ext. 146.

Like the old masters before them, modern and contemporary luminaries, such as Zhang Daqian, Zhang Hongtu, Liu Jude, Liu Dan, and Yu Hong, have sought inspiration from Dunhuang's ancient sculptures and murals. Inspired by Dunhuang presents the breathtaking results of their painstaking and creative efforts, which capture the experience of Dunhuang in ways that are powerfully transformative. With its carefully curated group of paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, photographs, and mixed media installations that encompass a variety of themes and forms, this exhibition is a pioneering exploration of the historical, literary, artistic, and conceptual nature of the inspiration and influence exerted by Dunhuang's thousand-year-old tradition on contemporary artistic creation. Organized by China Institute Gallery, this exhibition is curated by Willow Weilan Hai, Director of China Institute Gallery, and Jerome Silbergeld, the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, the Chair of the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, and the Director of Princeton's Tang Center for East Asian Art.
This exhibition is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the generous support of the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and China Institute Friends of the Gallery.
Sounds sooo fricking cool -- right there, being able to talk face to face with the curators and the artists!  If you are in the New York city area, or are planning on being in NYC on March 18th, please check into it further.  By the way, the area surrounding the China Institute is built for walkers, loaded with shops, delis, sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and bars (taverns? -- not sure what they call them in NYC, here in Milwaukee we just call 'em bars), not to mention wonderful architecture and you know those beautiful well-dressed women you see at Advanced Style - well, I'm just saying you see them all over the place in this neighborhood!  Even better than walking up Fifth Avenue toward the Met. 

9Queens 7th Annual Chess Fest!

Hola, darlings!

I have just finished shopping online for the items to go into the gift bags for the top female finisher in each of the Open and Reserve Sections at the upcoming Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX on April 12th.  I LUV shopping online - so easy!

Received in my in-box this morning an announcement from the 9Queens organization, based in Tucson, Arizona, founded by Jean Hoffman and Jennifer Shahade.  Jean is currently the Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation and continues her close association with 9Queens, while co-founder Jennifer Shahade, a two-time women's U.S. Chess Champion, continues to make special chess appearances and delights us all with her savvy and salient commentary at various U.S. chess events, often paired with GM Ben Feingold and GM Maurice Ashley, in addition to her work for the U.S. Chess Federation -- see her latest there, by the way:

Jennifer on Ted X, Toys and Chess Networks
By Jennifer Shahade   
March 2, 2014

...and she plays high stakes poker, too. Oh, did I mention she has also written a couple of best-selling chess books?  And is on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chess Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri, which is located across the street from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.  It's a beautiful area and the museum, it's fabulous!  Go visit -- but not in August -- too damn hot and humid.

Back to that email announcement from 9Queens!  Here are some of the particulars, and it looks like it is stacking up to be the biggest and bestest yet:

On April 26, 2014 from 12-3 pm, Hotel Congress will play host to 9 Queens 7th Annual Chess Fest, a community wide celebration, with special guest 19 year old Rochelle Ballantyne. Featured in the inspirational documentary Brooklyn Castle, Rochelle sits on the verge of history as she becomes the first African-American female chess Master.
"Rochelle is the perfect embodiment of what the 9 Queens Player of the Year Award is about. She represents an individual with incredible passion for the game and someone who has shared her talents with youth in her community. She serves as a fantastic role model for how hard work and dedication pay off, and can ultimately lead someone to achieving their dreams. 
- Amanda Mateer Women's Fide Master and recipient of the 2013 9 Queens Player of the Year Award 
Goddesschess fans, if you have not yet seen the remarkable documentary Brooklyn Castle, which has aired on PBS, please find it and watch it.  I cannot say enough about the people behind the making of this documentary and the dedicated people who work with the young people at IS 318 in Brooklyn, day in and day out.  It is one of the most incredibly successful chess programs in the United States and PROVES that just because a child comes from a disadvantaged background doesn't mean that child is stupid or lazy and cannot excel.  I am a big Rochelle Ballantyne fan.  Ms. Ballantyne, now 19 (I believe) currently attends Stanford University.  Dedicated, resourceful, talented, powerfully driven -- all of these things are Rochelle Ballantyne:
File photo from 2012, included in New York Daily News article 01/06/2014.
The 9Queens 7th Annual Chess Fest is doing a fundraiser right now.  9Queens' goal is to raise $5,000 toward the costs of holding the 9Queens 7th Annual Chess Fest in Tucson by April 19, 2014.  So far, $2,066 has been raised, so they're nearly half way to their goal!  I hope you will consider making a donation to 9Queens for this event.  Any donation, no matter how small you may think it, add up to making this Festival possible for the women and kids of Tucson.  For U.S. citizens, donating to this U.S. approved charitable/educational institution, your contribution is tax-deductible if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

1200 Year Old Church Uncovered Within Structure of Mainz "Dom"

Article from

Second oldest church in Germany uncovered

Published: 27 Feb 2014 16:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2014 16:32 GMT+01:00
Archaeologists have discovered Germany’s second oldest church hidden within a cathedral in the west of the country.
In the so-called "Old Cathedral" in Mainz, which is today the evangelical Church of St John, archaeologists found the remains of another church built 1,200 years ago in the time of Charlemagne, Deacon Andreas Klodt said on Tuesday.
Only Trier on the Mosel River has an older church, with its cathedral dating back to Roman times, making the find the second oldest church in the country.
Professor Matthias Untermann from the Institute of Art History in Heidelberg said the remains of the Carolingian walls stretched from the basement to the roof.
“This is a big surprise,” he said.
The Rhineland-Palatinate state curator Joachim Glatz said: "This is the only surviving Carolingian cathedral in Germany."
Usually a bishop would build a cathedral in the Middle Ages at the exact location of the previous building, getting rid of the older church.  But in Mainz the 1,000-year-old "Old Cathedral" was incorporated into the Carolingian one.

And according to Knöchlein two human skeletons have been found during the excavations - remains of earlier burials in the church.

The building has been used since the 19th Century as a church by the evangelical community.

During World War II, it was largely destroyed by fire after a bomb attack. Demolition was considered but was rejected. The dig is continuing.
So, WHO was buried in those two graves uncovered????? Royals?  Any guesses as to how old the tombs are?  Male?  Female?

Highlands Reveals Neolithic Cup and Ring Decorated Boulder - Decorated on Both Sides!!!

Extremely rare.  Actually, I don't recall ever reading about a "stone" being decorated on both sides with cup and ring markings.  That doesn't, of course, mean they are not out there, just that I don't remember reading of them.

John Wombell and Susan Kruse with the stone at its new location.
February 2014 Last updated at 05:20 ET

Rare Neolithic or Bronze Age rock art in Ross-shire

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Easter Eggs Are REALLY Made...

Got this from one of my nieces, it made laugh!

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