Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sad News

It is with heavy heart that I report sad news received today about the death of Janet Ulrich, one of the most wonderful and uplifting women it was ever my pleasure and privilege to have met.  Janet lost a battle, as her husband, Jim, put it, after being checkmated by cancer.

I met Janet only a few times at tournaments here in Milwaukee held by my adopted Southwest Chess Club.  She emanated joy, love, and a light-filled, glowing energy from every fiber of her being.  When we were able to meet, we didn't just chat, we talked about everything and anything for hours on end, and although we came from very different walks of life and backgrounds, I felt in Janet a kindred spirit.  I think perhaps she made everyone she met feel that same way.  I will miss her enormously and I grieve for her loss and for her family's loss. Besides her husband, Jim, Janet leaves four children, all of whom are chessplayers:  Thomas, Anne, Rachel, and Susanna.

Visitation and funeral will be held on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 129 South Mason Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, visitation between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., funeral mass at 11:00 a.m.


In the arms of the angels
Far away from here
I will lay myself down
Where the air is so clear
I will lay myself down
Upon golden angels' wings
And in the arms of the angels
I will find some comfort there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spittle-Drooling Gutter Slime Running for Republican Presidential Nomination

How do I really feel about 2016's crop of Republican/Tea Party/Nazi presential wannabes?  If you haven't figured it out yet, you shouldn't be here reading this blog, darlings!  Not even the Idiot Bloviator Cruz's statements today about global climate change being based on "psuedo-science" could displace the Big Mouth Kewpie Doll With Bad Hair from the front pages.

Cover page of The New York Daily News, courtesy of Vox.

Stone Carving Represents Herod's Temple

From The New York Times

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel — The carved stone block is about the size of an occasional table. It has held its secrets for two millenniums. Whoever engraved its enigmatic symbols was apparently depicting the ancient Jewish temples.

But what makes the stone such a rare find in biblical archaeology, according to scholars, is that when it was carved, the Second Temple still stood in Jerusalem for the carver to see. The stone is a kind of ancient snapshot.

And it is upending some long-held scholarly assumptions about ancient synagogues and their relationship with the Temple, a center of Jewish pilgrimage and considered the holiest place of worship for Jews, during a crucial period, when Judaism was on the cusp of the Christian era.

Known as the Magdala Stone, the block was unearthed in 2009 near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, where a resort and center for Christian pilgrims was going to be built. Government archaeologists are routinely called in to check for anything old and important that might be destroyed by a project, and in this case they discovered the well-preserved ruins of a first-century synagogue and began excavating.

Yael Yolovich/Israel Antiquities Authority

"Shadow Painting" Discovered Under Mona Lisa

Hola!  The lovely lady is back in the news.  This is pretty interesting, but really, it is not that uncommon for "under paintings" or even entirely different paintings to have been discovered underneath the top-most layer of old paintings.  This is garnering more than the usual attention, though, because - well - it IS the Mona Lisa :)

Hidden portrait 'found under Mona Lisa', says French scientist

  • 8 December 2015
An image of a portrait underneath the Mona Lisa has been found beneath the existing painting using reflective light technology, according to a French scientist.
Pascal Cotte said he has spent more than 10 years using the technology to analyse the painting.  He claims the earlier portrait lies hidden underneath the surface of Leonardo's most celebrated artwork.  A reconstruction shows another image of a sitter looking off to the side.
The Louvre Museum has declined to comment on his claims because it "was not part of the scientific team".

Instead of the famous, direct gaze of the painting which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the image of the sitter also shows no trace of her enigmatic smile, which has intrigued art lovers for more than 500 years

But Mr Cotte's claims are controversial and have divided opinion among Leonardo experts.

The scientist, who is the co-founder of Lumiere Technology in Paris, was given access to the painting in 2004 by the Louvre. [What?  It has taken 11 years to come out with this news???]

He has pioneered a technique called Layer Amplification Method (LAM), which he used to analyse the Mona Lisa.  It works by "projecting a series of intense lights" on to the painting, Mr Cotte said. A camera then takes measurements of the lights' reflections and from those measurements, Mr Cotte said he is able to reconstruct what has happened between the layers of the paint.
The Mona Lisa has been the subject of several scientific examinations over more than half a century. More recent techniques include infrared inspections and multi-spectral scanning.
But Mr Cotte has claimed his technique is able to penetrate more deeply into the painting.  He said: "We can now analyse exactly what is happening inside the layers of the paint and we can peel like an onion all the layers of the painting. We can reconstruct all the chronology of the creation of the painting."

'Shatter many myths'

Leonardo is believed to have worked on the painting between 1503 and 1517 while working in Florence and later in France.
There has long been debate about the Mona Lisa's identity. But for centuries, it has been widely believed that she is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant.
But Mr Cotte has claimed his discoveries challenge that theory. He believes the image he has reconstructed underneath the surface of the painting is Leonardo's original Lisa, and that the portrait named Mona Lisa for more than 500 years is, in fact, a different woman.
He said: "The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo's masterpiece forever.  When I finished the reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini, I was in front of the portrait and she is totally different to Mona Lisa today. This is not the same woman."
He also claims to have found two more images under the surface of the painting - a shadowy outline of a portrait with a larger head and nose, bigger hands but smaller lips. And he says he has found another Madonna-style image with Leonardo's etchings of a pearl headdress.

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