Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Do the Rock Carvings at Gobekli Tepe Record a Catatrosphic Earth-wide Event?

Food for thought.

Ancient people left a frightening message for us, and scientists just found it

 Mike Wehner,BGR News 6 hours ago 

10,000 years from now (assuming humans haven’t been wiped out by a plague, space rock, or our own destructive tendencies), it’ll probably be fairly easy for the average person to research what life was like in 2017. For us here today, finding out what life was like in 11,000BC is much more challenging, but by studying ancient stone carvings and pairing the somewhat confusing messages with archeological data, researchers believe they’ve discovered concrete evidence of an apocalyptic event that may have altered the future of mankind: a comet strike.

The study, performed by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh (PDF), suggests that a potentially cataclysmic comet strike rapidly and dramatically altered the Earth’s climate for hundreds of years, sending humanity into a mini ice age with nearly glacial conditions. The time period when this occurred is known as the Younger Dryas, and has been well documented thanks to ample evidence of the cooling found in core samples, but its cause has been theorized and debated for a long while. Now, thanks to stone carvings left by ancient people in modern day Turkey, researchers believe that a comet was the culprit.

The carvings are remarkably preserved and appear to have been created to document an apocalyptic event which devastated the land. Figures depicted in the carvings, including apparently deceased, headless human bodies and other wildlife, were made at around the time the Younger Dryas began, suggesting that the event archived in stone could have been the same one that caused the thousand-year cold snap. The carvings were found at what is considered to be one of the oldest and most important temple sites on the planet, and for the images to appear there suggests that they have enormous historical significance.

The Younger Dryas is often credited with pushing ancient humans to band together out of pure necessity, forming the foundation of modern agriculture and other huge advancements in civilization. The idea that a comet may have been responsible for pushing humanity forward is an extremely interesting, and potentially frightening possibility.

The findings are far from an iron clad confirmation, but the timing matches up shockingly well, and would have to be a fantastic coincidence if the two events are actually unrelated.

More on the Younger Dryas period from NOAA (one of the agencies Orange One, er, El Trumpo, American Dictator wannabe, wants to wipe out in 2018.)

More on Gobekli Tepe.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXV - Results for the Ladies!

Hola hola on this beautiful day.  The cross-table isn't up at the U.S.C.F. website yet so I don't know the individual scores, but I have a full list of the chess femmes who participated and what, if any prize money they received.

First of all, a minor correction:  I believe I indicated yesterday that there were eight femmes in the Reserve Section - there were actually 9.  That is a participation rate of 18.9% (14/74 players).  I am waiting to get a final count of the number of players, as there are usually players who register the morning of the tournament.  Depending on that, the percentage may go down.

However, as of now, that percentage is - as far as my memory serves - the highest yet of chess femme participation.  Congratulations to the female players for turning out in such numbers yesterday for this great event.

Photo is from chess buddy Ellen Wanek.  Player Sandra Hoffman is missing:

From left to right : Simran Bhatia, 
Anupama Rajendra, Susie Ulrich, Megan Chen, Miriam Luevano. Radhika Gupta ,Ellen Wanek (the blonde in the front row), Manasha Ghai , Gauri Menon, 
Ashwini Murthy , Salli Ball, Maddie Weber
Open Section:
Susanna Ulrich: $150
Anupama Rajendra: $125  
Gauri Menon: $100
Madeline Weber: $75
Megan Chen: $50

Reserve Section:
Simran Bhatia: $60
Sandra Hoffman: $60
Radhika Gupta: $50
Mirian Luevano: $40
Aradh Kaur: $40
Ellen Wanek: $40
Mansha Ghai: $20
Salli Ball: $0
Ashwini Murthy: $0

So proud of each and every one of you, and thank you for the photo!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Hola darlings!  I hope you will all enjoy today - Earth Day.  The one day we should at least spare a few minutes to think about our beautiful sparking blue and white and green and brown jewel of a planet hanging in the midnight star-spangled expanse of the universe.


Earth is photographed with a high-definition 121megapixel camera - creating the sharpest image of our planet yet.....WOW,...LOOKS VERY NICE FROM AFAR....GREAT PIC:
From The Daily Mail, May 11, 2012, Eddie Wren for Mail Online
Photo taken by Russian weather satellite Electro-L with
resolution of 121 megapixels.  


Please, think about what we can all do, individually and together as countries and, hopefully someday, as a single united people the world over, to keep her safe, secure, and beautiful for all.  When enough of us do the "small" things, it has an enormous impact.

Use natural gardening practices, stop using pesticides and poisons; recycle; grow your own fresh vegetables in the summer and learn how to preserve them for use through the winter; encourage energy-saving technologies by harnessing the power of our waves, our Sun, and our wind.  Conserve, re-use, re-imagination and recreate.  Plant trees.  Volunteer to help clean up public parkways and plant flowers.  Hound your Congressional representatives and Senators to keep our water and our air and our soil free from pollutants and to clean up our "Superfund" sites.  In your home, when old appliances die, recycle them, and buy new water-conserving models of washers; hang your wash in the backyard to dry (if you have one) instead of using a dryer; replace old water-wasting toilets with low volume/high air velocity flush toilets; get those dripping faucets fixed, you'd be amazed how much water drips down the drain every single day.  Go energy efficient with your windows, insulation, roofing, and indoor lighting and heating/cooling.

We can each do more than we think we can, and it all makes a difference!  Love your Mother Earth.

Friday, April 21, 2017

11th Annual Grand Pacific Open

Hola!  Goddesschess has provided sponsorship for female chessplayers for this event for several years now.  This year we had ten female players in all sections, five (5!!!) in the top rated PREMIER Section.  The women in the PREMIER section took all of the Goddesschess prize money this year.

The event is held annually over Easter in Victoria, BC, Canada at the beautiful Grand Pacific Hotel.  This year's GPO was held April 14 - 17, 2017, with a guaranteed prize fund of $5,000 Canadian.  Prizes are slated to the top five female players in the PREMIER Section; if there are fewer players than five, remaining prizes are awarded to the top female finishers in the next highest rated Section, and so on.

Here are this year's results!

Premier Section (33 players)
1.  8th place, WFM Adela Fratila (2038) 3.5/6 $125.00
2.  15th place, WFM Valeria Gansvind (2254), 3.0/6, $90.00
3.  17th place, WFM Naomi Bashkansky (2018), 3.0/6, $90.00
4. 25th place, Shi Yuan (Sherry) Tian (1818), 2.0/6, $50.00
5.  32nd place, WFM Chouchanik Airapetian (2015) (former U.S. women's chess championship competitor), 0.5/5, $25.00

Under 2000 Section (37 players)
6.  9th place, Anna Vang (1469), 4.0/6

Under 1700 (45 players)
7.  31st place, Bo Wen (Angelina) Yang (1013), 2.5/6

Under 1200 (31 players)
8.  11th place,  Gillian Mok (852), 3.5/6
9.  14th place, Amanda Yang (731), 3.0/6
10.  17th place, Shannon Gong (UNR), 3.0/6

Congratulations to top overall female chess femme WFM Adela Fratila, and to all of our prize winners, and two thumbs up to all of the chess femmes for their fighting spirit.

WFM Airapetian had a "not so good" tournament this event,  She has played rather sporadically over the past several years, but I remember her well from prior U.S. Women's Chess Championships for her sunny smile and always upbeat spirit and disposition.  In 2004, Airapetian made American chess history by becoming the first female player to earn a spot in the U.S. Chess Championship, by She was a favorite amongst players at the U.S. events.  I hope she will come back next year and try again!  

Stay tuned.  We are considering changing up the prize structure for this Canadian event to more closely align it with the sponsorship format we provide to the Hales Corners Chess Challenges in Milwaukee.  Our goal is always to encourage more female chessplayers to participate in such events and to reward them for their hard play.  I only wish we had unlimited financial resources to be able to make it so, all across the U.S. and Mr. Don's beloved Canada!

2017 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Final Resorts (Very Late - Sorry, Darlings!)

Mea culpa!  I totally lost track of the U.S.'s premiere female chess event, held in St. Louis, Missouri in the beautiful (but small!) Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

Without further ado (as if you didn't know!), the winner is:

WGM SABINA-FRANCESCA FOISOR (2272).

Foisor took clear first place with a score of 8.0/11.  Well done, and congratulations.

Here is a dramatic description of the final game, which took place less than three months after WGM Foisor's mother, IM Cristina Foisor (five-time Romanian women's chess champion) in January, 2017.  Tensions mounted as Foisor and her fiance' watched in the downstairs commentary room and waited for the results of IM Nazi Pakidze's game to see if there would be a play-off.

Cross-table (final) with results/standings:

Cross table after round 11

RankNameRating123456789101112Score
1WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca2272x½ 0 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 1 8.0
2IM Paikidze, Nazi2369½ x1 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 7.0
3GM Krush, Irina24441 0 x½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 6.5
4IM Zatonskih, Anna24510 1 ½ x½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 6.0
5WGM Sharevich, Anna22570 ½ ½ ½ x1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 6.0
6WIM Yu, Jennifer R2196½ 1 1 1 0 x0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 6.0
7WCM Feng, Maggie21621 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 x0 ½ ½ ½ 1 6.0
8WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev23640 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 x½ 1 ½ 1 5.5
9WGM Nemcova, Katerina23590 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ x1 1 ½ 5.5
10WFM Virkud, Apurva22620 0 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 0 x1 1 4.5
11WFM Yip, Carissa22340 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 x1 4.0
12WIM Nguyen, Emily21730 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 x1.0
Generated by Swiss Master for Windows on 09-04-2017 at 17:43

It was a tough outing for WFM Carissa Yip, the player I chose to eyeball this year to see how she'd do.  No doubt lack of age and experience, despite her extensive (and impressive) record of play, had a lot to do with her overall performance.  She is only eleven, after all.  At eleven, I was dancing to the Four Seasons and Bobby Rydell on the radio and experimenting with Annette Funicello hairstyles, har!  I also was skinny and cute (but had awful hair!), and sassy as all get out, and had my first serious boyfriend, Jimmy Celeste (sigh, so Italian and so handsome),  just so you know.  My games were cribbage and five card stud, deuces wild, with Grandpa Newton.

The chess baton seems to have been passed to a younger generation of players, most of whom do not have the kind of international experience necessary to really get their ELOs "up there," if you know what I mean.  Sadly, I see a decline in the overall quality of female chessplayers on our national scene, not an improvement.  We lose too many to the practicalities of life - such as - MAKING A LIVING and RAISING FAMILIES!  Drives me INSANE, this drift backwards, not forward.

Okay, end of my angst session.

The China Institute Presents a New Gallery Show/Program: Dreams of the Kings

WOW! I would love to see this.  Hmmm....


Discover China Through Art (DCTA)
Program in conjunction with the exhibition
Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou

May 30 – November 12, 2017
Discover China Through Art (DCTA), China Institute Gallery’s innovative art education program for groups, will introduce participants to our new exhibition Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou. Each group visit consists of a three-part program featuring an introductory video presentation, a docent-led gallery tour, and a hands-on art workshop, all of which can be adapted for different age groups and interests.
By exploring great collections from the Xuzhou museum at close range in the Gallery, participants will see a rare jade burial suit, terracotta performers, and carved stone animal sculptures. These objects are extraordinary testimony to customs and beliefs surrounding life and death during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 8 CE).
Two workshops are offered:
I. Color and Decorating Workshop (K – 3rd grade)
II. Pattern Making Workshop (3rd grade – adult)

Schedule: Available for booking weekday
Mornings 10:30 AM-12:00 PM & Afternoons 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Please reserve a tour at least two weeks in advance of the requested date.
Please contact us for evenings and weekends programs.
Speaker Name
Gallery Docents
Fee: Weekdays: $120 per group
Evenings & weekends: $160 per group
Up to 30 participants per group; we can accommodate 2 groups at one time
Contact: Yue Ma 212-744-8181 x 147 or by email at yma@chinainstitute.org

About Discover China Through Art (DCTA)

Discover China Through Art (DCTA) is an innovative art education program that China Institute Gallery offers to schools and the general public. Created in 1992, DCTA introduces audiences to Chinese art and culture through a three-part interactive program that complements the Gallery’s exhibitions. The participants experiment with Chinese art through an introductory video presentation, a docent-led gallery discussion, and a hands-on art workshop. It is in these popular workshops that our participants experience Chinese art up close and have the opportunity to learn and apply fundamental techniques.
The program also offers special Chinese art and culture workshops in between of exhibitions, which consist of an interactive video presentation and an experimental hands-on workshop.

nyculture
Discover China Through Art is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
nyculture

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXV! It's Tomorrow, Darlings!

Update April 22, 2017:

Hi darlings!  Great news!  Got the final count of chess femmes from the wonderful folks at Southwest Chess Club who run the Hales Corners Challenges, and there are FIVE chess femmes in the Open Section and EIGHT chess femmes in the Reserve Section, out of 73 players, for a total participation rate  of 17.8%!!!!!!!! (Notice I'm using Trumpian punctuation here - he actually stole the idea from me, I've been doing THAT for years, as you all know, darlings :))  Other than scholastic events, I cannot think of any other event in which female players make up such a large percentage of players.  WHOOP WHOOP!  I'm proud of you, ladies!
_________________________________________________________________

Hola everyone!  Happy spring, which in Milwaukee is always celebrated by the Hales Corners Chess Challenge, at least in my little corner of the world :)

Goddesschess first began providing prize money to the HCCC way back in Challenge VIII, and we've consistently improved our prizes and increased the amounts since that time.  We have also been successful in achieving our goal, with the eager cooperation of the people of the Southwest Chess Club, of increasing the participation of female chessplayers in the tournaments, and we now can brag of some of the highest percentages of female participation in open mixed tournaments in the US.  That's something to be proud of, and our female players have made it possible!

This year, Challenge XXV is TOMORROW!!!!!!  You can find all of the details here.

Goddesschess prizes are awarded in addition to any other prize that a female participant may qualify for, they are not mutually exclusive.  (In October HCCC, Goddesschess also provides two special prizes for male players in honor or our late webmaster and partner, Don McLean).  For Challenge XXV, we offer the following incentives to participating female chessplayers:

Open:

$50 per win; $25 per draw; $80 prize for a perfect score of 4.0
Entry fee paid if top scorer participates in next HCCC

Reserve:

$20 per win; $10 per draw; $40 prize for a perfect score of 4.0
Entry fee paid if top scorer participates in next HCCC

I haven't played at the Olympia Resort but I understand it is a great playing venue and provides very nice accommodations for those staying overnight.  So -- please come out and join us, and help us once again make good on increasing our female chessplayer rate of participation in Goddesschess sponsored events!

Fingers crossed we have the best participation rates of ALL players ever!  Good luck to all.  I'll be following along on the SWCC blog.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mary Magdalene: Not a Prostitute, But Deliberately Maligned As One

In honor of Marys everywhere, and mindful of the Goddess Eostre holiday coming soon, this, from The Washington Post!

On Easter, Mary Magdalene will be maligned as a prostitute. Except she wasn’t

Petula Dvorak, Columnist April 13 at 6:02 PM

Here’s who Mary Magdalene was: one of Jesus Christ’s original followers, the last to stay with him while he was nailed to the cross and, Christians believe, the first to see his empty tomb and his resurrection.

Here’s who she wasn’t: a reformed or forgiven prostitute. Yet on Easter Sunday, Christianity’s holiest day, that’s exactly how she will be described in some sermons and how she continues to be portrayed in much of popular culture. The woman dubbed in the Bible the “Apostle of the Apostles” has spent two millennia being reduced to a seductress.

In some ways, Mary Magdalene’s story is the story of modern women everywhere.

From the relentless focus on the looks of female leaders to the nude photos being circulated of female Marines, women who dare to work among men as equals get sexualized and marginalized.

In Mary Magdalene’s case, it’s a 2,000-year-old slut-shaming that a group of Christian women is trying to stop. The Junia Project, a California group preaching egalitarian theology, is using social media to spread its public service announcement: “As you preach this Sunday, please note: Mary Magdalene was NOT a prostitute. Thank you.”

They have to be proactive. Even a popular Easter sermon on the Sermon Central website repeats the myth. “Mary Magdalene was a forgiven prostitute,” reads the second line of the sermon reminding people what to remember about the first Easter.

Hollywood loves casting Mary Magdalene as a sex worker. She was a hooker in “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 1973, in “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988, in “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004 and even in last year’s “Risen.” It’s a delicious story, Jesus being so cool that he even forgives a prostitute. It’s “Pretty Woman” in the tunics-and-sandals age.

Gail Wallace, one of the co-founders of the Junia Project, hates the way Mary Magdalene gets maligned. "For me, the bottom line is that we are fed up with the way women’s stories in the Bible have been retold in a way that sexualizes them unnecessarily and in ways that aren’t supported by the biblical texts,” she said.

Biblical scholars and historians have been trying to make the same point for decades. The Catholic Church acknowledged and tried to correct the widespread misperception in 1969 [after having spent only 1,500 years or so lying about Mary to their ignorant parishioners]. But somewhere along the telephone game that is Christian history, the prostitute label stuck.

“Women looking to the Bible for inspiration already have limited choices of female role models,” wrote Chicago nun and professor Barbara Bowe, before her death in 2010. “When we suddenly cut Mary Magdalene off at the knees and turn her into some kind of evil sex pervert, we deprive men and women, but especially women, of a figure with whom they can identify.” Kate Wallace Nunneley, another of the Junia Project’s co-founders, said she saw the Mary Magdalene myth repeated in modern seminary texts, too.

That’s okay, though. Because now Team Mary’s got the Internet. And every year, after the Junio Project runs their PSA about Mary Magdalene on social media, they hear from people about what was said in church. “Around Easter is really one of the only times in general evangelicalism that women get preached about,” Nunneley said. “After we first ran that PSA . . . we heard from so many women who said they still heard [the myth]. One woman told me, ‘I sent this to my pastor and he still preached about her being a prostitute.’ ” This is, of course, part of a larger debate about the way women are treated in other arenas.

Take those women in the Marines who have been serving their country in the most macho branch of the military. How did the guys who couldn’t handle their success deal with it? They circulated nude pictures of them. Even after they were busted, they kept at it.

Nunneley considers that the modern parallel to Mary Magdalene. “As we see with the story about the women in the Marines, their personhood gets overlooked and the men want to only focus on their sexuality,” she said.

It’s an old story. A tired story. And it’s time for it to end.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If You Could Improve Your Chess Winning Performance by Up to 15%, Would You Take a Drug to Do So?

This just scares me no end:

On Cognitive Doping in Chess (and Life)
The Atlantic Magazine (online)
James Hamblin
March 21, 2017

Have you ever wanted to play better chess? To think and work more effectively, seeing moves 10 steps ahead? Vanquishing opponents with mental energy to spare? Well now you can, with cognitive-enhancement drugs.

That’s how the first half of the pharmaceutical commercial might go. The small-print, fast-talking second half would say that limitations apply. Some of the drugs are addictive and likely to alter one’s sleep habits and heart rate and general sense of self. The drugs don’t work if you don’t know how to play chess.

For professional chess players, though, medicinal “neuro-enhancement” (as it’s sometimes dubiously known) could bring in somewhere between 6 and 15 percent more wins. That’s according to the first large study of “highly skilled tournament chess players” comparing their performance in states of medication and sobriety—a study that the World Chess Championship’s publication World Chess has called “landmark” and “groundbreaking.”

A collaborative experiment from researchers throughout Germany and Sweden led by psychiatrist Klaus Lieb at the University of Mainz found that two prescription medications improved chess-winning rates: modafinil (sold most commonly as Provigil) and methylphenidate (sold as Ritalin).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

It's that time of year and once again the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis is hosting the 2017 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.

This year, a field of twelve of the U.S. top female chessplayers will compete over 11 rounds.  Rounds: March 28 - April 9, 2017.  The women will be competing for total prizes of $100,000.  Nice, but not the $194,000 the male players will be competing for in their separate championship (SEXIST, as always).

This year I'll be monitoring the progress of Carissa Yip.

By the way, Gata Kamsky really needs a haircut.  Geez, dude - too scraggly by half.

Prizes:

PlacePrizePlacePrize
1st$25,0007th$5,000
2nd$18,0008th$4,000
3rd$13,0009th$3,500
4th$10,00010th$3,000
5th$8,00011th$2,500
6th$6,00012th$2,000
Total Prize Fund$100,000
In addition, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will sponsor the “$64,000 Fischer Bonus Prize”. Any player that finishes the U.S. Championships field with a perfect 11-0 score shall be awarded an additional $64,000.

The players list.

You'll be able to follow the action live on U.S. Chess Champs.  The link isn't working yet so I didn't include it.
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