Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cretan Bird Goddess

From the March/April 2009 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review Worldwide (p. 72) Crete With lavish painted ornamentation and a dramatic pose, this female figurine commands attention. The bird perched atop her head announces her divine status, as birds such as doves and pigeons were symbols of a goddess throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. Found at the center of a small communal shrine at Knossos, on the island of Crete, this 8.5-inch, clay figurine from the 14th century B.C. represents a Minoan goddess. According to scholar Giorgos Rethemiotakis, the goddess’s oversized arms and accentuated eyes “vividly bring to life the message and content of the prayer, the immediate visual and mental contact of the goddess with the praying faithful.” Minoan religion centered around goddess worship; there also is evidence of a powerful female priesthood. Since the language of the Minoans has never been deciphered, mot of what we know of the civilization comes from Greek and other neighboring cultures.

"At Sixes and Sevens"

[Moses cartoon from BAR] Mr. Don pointed out these intriguing letters in Biblical Archaeology issues for January/February, 2009 and May/June, 2009 -- I have yet to read either magazine! He found both of them in my stack of reading material piled on the kitchen counter: January/February 2009 (p. 68) Queries & Comments AT SIXES AND SEVENS I'm the mad linguist who wrote a caption to the hilarious cartoon showing Moses with the two tables numbered in roman numbers (see Strata, p. 22 of this issue for winning entries). It cracked me up. Here's Moses fresh from speaking with the Almighty in the form of the Burning Bush and jotting down the most important document for all humankind - and in stone, no less - but he's gone and put Roman numerals on his rocks, of all the silly things. of course the romans hadn't even been thought of yet, much less started writing numerals. Let me explain why I was so keen on those numbers. I had just been doing research on number words around the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age. It seems rather astonishing that the words for "six" and "seven" are so similar, not only in Semitic languages (like Hebrew, Akkadian and Assyrian) but also in Indo-European languages (like Latin, Greek, Hittie and Luwian). This is especially strange because none of the other number words are anything alike. Even etruscan, which isn't related to anything else, seems to share those two words. Just think about it: Six and seven in Hebrew are shisha and shiva; Akkadian, shishshu and sebe; Assyrian, shishshu and siba; Latin, sex and septum; Greek, hex and hepta; Sanskrit, shash and sapta. Even in Etruscan seven is semph, and six is either sa or huth (I vote for sa). Very odd, isn't it? I think this is no coincidence. I think somebody borrowed from somebody. I believe it was because all those Sea Peoples, like the Phillistines, were wandering around at the end of the Bronze Age (c. 1200 B.C.). Diana Gainer Via e-mail Ed: Does anyone out there have a better explanation? May/June 2009 (p. 10-11) Queries & Comments "AT SIXES AND SEVENS" Egyptian Sixes and Sevens In the January/February issue Diana Gainer finds that six and seven are represented by similar words in many languages (Q&C, "At Sixes and Sevens"). I also noticed this someyears ago. My primary field of interest is Egyptology. In ancient Egyptian, six is ses and seven is sefekh. There are many other words that sound similar in many ancient languages, such as words for "Mother." It's mysterious, but that's how I like it. Bonnie Long Phoenix, Arizona Hungarian Sixes and Sevens Diana Gainer comments on the similarity of the names of the numberals six and seven in several languages, including English, Latin and Greek, among many others. I may add to this list my native Hungarian in which six is written hat and seven is written he't. This is probably a coincidence though, as Hungarian is not even an Indo-European language, but rather belongs to the Finno-Ugric group that includes Finnish and Estonian besides Hungarian. I don't speak either of the last two, but perhaps a reader who does could confirm (or deny) that in those also the six-seven similarity persists. Andrew Lenard Blomington, Indiana Spanish Sixes and Sevens Diana Gainer surmises that since there was such similarity in the numbers six and seven for such diverse peoples that there must have been an interaction at some point. I fully agree. One might add seis and siete, Spanish six and seven and the Italian and Portuguese equivalents to her list. This may be but one of quiete a number of similarites between civilizations that popped up all over the globe at roughly the same time several thousand years ago. Dale Carter Fellsmere, Florida
dondelion and I discussed this earlier this morning. I'll let him speak for himself (if and when he gets around to posting here). In the meantime, I was curious about the origins of the phrase "at sixes and sevens," so I did a little quick research and found some interesting information: From The Phrase Finder: Meaning A state of total confusion and disorder, or of disagreement between parties. Origin The derivation of this phrase is rather difficult to trace, not least because it has changed in both form and meaning over the nine centuries or so that it has been in use. The phrase was originally to set on six and seven and is thought to have derived in the 14th century from the game of dice. The meaning then was to carelessly risk one's entire fortune. The earliest citation in print is Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, 1374: "Lat nat this wrechched wo thyn herte gnawe, But manly set the world on sexe and seuene." The dice game from which the phrase "set on six and seven" is thought to have originated is hazard (an old dice game), which itself has an interesting derivation: ...hazard first came into the language to refer to the dice game (via the Old French hasard and the Spanish azar from the Arabic az-zahr “luck, chance”, based on an Arabic or Turkish word for dice), and only later took on the meaning of danger or risk, or as a verb, to venture something, because the dice game was so risky to bet on. The modern game called craps is a simplified form of hazard. (World Wide Words) None of this, of course, answers the intriguing question as to why "six and seven" show similarities in so many languages belonging to entirely different language families!

Blast from the Past: Egyptian Hieroglyphics Translated 1,000 before Champollion

Hieroglyphics Cracked 1,000 Years Earlier Than Thought ScienceDaily (Oct. 7, 2004) — Western scholars were not the first to decipher the ancient language of the pharaohs, according to a new book that will be published later this year by a UCL researcher. Dr Okasha El Daly of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology will reveal that Arabic scholars not only took a keen interest in ancient Egypt but also correctly interpreted hieroglyphics in the ninth century AD – almost 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. It has long been thought that Jean-Francois Champollion was the first person to crack hieroglyphics in 1822 using newly discovered Egyptian antiquities such as the Rosetta stone. But fresh analysis of manuscripts tucked away in long forgotten collections scattered across the globe prove that Arabic scholars got there first. Dr Okasha El Daly, of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, explains: “For two and a half centuries the study of Egyptology has been dominated by a Euro-centric view, which has virtually ignored over a thousand years of Arabic scholarship and enquiry encouraged by Islam. “Prior to Napoleonic times little was known in the West about the ancient civilisation of Egypt except what had been recorded in the Bible. It was assumed that the world of the pharaohs had long since been forgotten by Egyptians, who were thought to have been incorporated into the expanding Islamic world by the seventh century. “But this overhasty conclusion ignores the vast contribution of medieval Arabic scholars and others between the seventh and 16th centuries. In reality a huge corpus of medieval writing by both scholars and ordinary people exists that dates from long before the earliest European Renaissance. Analysis reveals that not only did Moslems have a deep interest in the study of Ancient Egypt, they could also correctly decipher hieroglyphic script.” Following the Roman invasion of Egypt in 30 BC the use of hieroglyphics began to die out with the last known writing in the fifth century AD. While Western medieval commentators believed that hieroglyphics were symbols each representing a single concept Dr El Daly has shown that Arab scholars grasped the fundamental principle that hieroglyphics could represent sounds as well as ideas. Using his unique expertise in both Egyptology and medieval Arabic writers, Dr El Daly began a seven year investigation of Arabic writing on ancient Egypt. “The manuscripts were scattered worldwide in private as well as public collections and were mostly not catalogued. Even when they were, they were often wrongly classified so I had to go through each one individually - it is not like researching in modern books with an index which you can check for relevant information,” says Dr El Daly. “A specialist in only Arabic or Islamic studies reading these manuscripts would fail to grasp their significance to Egyptology. Conversely Egyptologists think that Arabs and Moslems had nothing useful to say about ancient Egypt, so there wasn’t any need to look at manuscripts that were mainly the domain of scholars within the disciplines of Arabic/Oriental studies.” The breakthrough in Dr El Daly’s research came from analysis of the work of Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Wahshiyah, a ninth century alchemist. Ibn Wahshiyah’s work on ancient writing systems showed that he was able to correctly decipher many hieroglyphic signs. Being an alchemist not a linguist, his primary interest was to identify the phonetic value and meaning of hieroglyphic signs with the aim of accessing the ancient Egyptian scientific knowledge inscribed in hieroglyphs. “By comparing Ibn Wahshiyah’s conclusions with those in current books on Egyptian Language, I was able to assess his accuracy in understanding hieroglyphic signs,” says Dr El Daly. “In particular I looked at the Egyptian Grammar of Sir Alan Gardiner which has a sign list at the end, it revealed that Ibn Wahshiyah understood perfectly well the nature of Egyptian hieroglyphs.” Dr El Daly added: “Western culture misinterprets Islam because we think teaching before the Quran is shunned, which isn’t the case. They valued history and assumed that Egypt was a land of science and wisdom and as such they wanted to learn their language to have access to such vast knowledge. “Critically they did not, unlike the West, write history to fit with the religious ideas of the time, which makes their accounts more reliable. They were also keen on the universality of human history based on the unity of the origin of human beings and the diversity of their appearance and languages. Furthermore, there are likely to be many hidden manuscripts dotted round the world that could make a significant contribution to our understanding of the ancient world. Dr Okasha El Daly is based in UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, one of the world’s largest collections of artefacts covering thousands of years of ancient Egyptian prehistory and history. On Wednesday 6 October UCL launches the biggest university fundraising campaign, Advancing London’s Global University - the Campaign for UCL, which will seek to raise £300 million over the coming decade, including £25 million to build a purpose built museum, the Panopticon, that will house UCL’s collections of Egyptology, art and rare books in an environment that preserves them for all to see. The Panopticon, which means ‘all-visible’ in Greek, will be unlike any other museum in the UK because the entire collection will be on display and publicly accessible. Other highlights will include works by Durer, Rembrandt, Turner and Constable; an unrivalled collection of John Flaxman’s drawings and sculpture; the first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost and the George Orwell archives. Adapted from materials provided by University College London.

World's Oldest Manufactured Beads Older Than Thought

World’s Oldest Manufactured Beads Are Older Than Previously Thought (Image: Dating from 82 000 years ago, these beads are thought to be the oldest in the world. (Credit: Copyright Marian Vanhaeren & Francesco d'Errico / CNRS 2007) ScienceDaily (May 7, 2009) — A team of archaeologists has uncovered some of the world’s earliest shell ornaments in a limestone cave in Eastern Morocco. The researchers have found 47 examples of Nassarius marine shells, most of them perforated and including examples covered in red ochre, at the Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt. The fingernail-size shells, already known from 82,000-year-old Aterian deposits in the cave, have now been found in even earlier layers. While the team is still awaiting exact dates for these layers, they believe this discovery makes them arguably the earliest shell ornaments in prehistory. The shells are currently at the centre of a debate concerning the origins of modern behaviour in early humans. Many archaeologists regard the shell bead ornaments as proof that anatomically modern humans had developed a sophisticated symbolic material culture. Up until now, Blombos cave in South Africa has been leading the ‘bead race’ with 41 Nassarius shell beads that can confidently be dated to 72,000 years ago. Aside from this latest discovery unearthing an even greater number of beads, the research team says the most striking aspect of the Taforalt discoveries is that identical shell types should appear in two such geographically distant regions. As well as Blombos, there are now at least four other Aterian sites in Morocco with Nassarius shell beads. The newest evidence, in a paper by the authors to be published in the next few weeks in the Journal of Quaternary Science Reviews, shows that the Aterian in Morocco dates back to at least 110,000 years ago. Research team leader, Professor Nick Barton, from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘These new finds are exciting because they show that bead manufacturing probably arose independently in different cultures and confirms a long suspected pattern that humans with modern symbolic behaviour were present from a very early stage at both ends of the continent, probably as early as 110,000 years ago.’ Also leading the research team Dr Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, from the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine in Morocco, said: ‘The archaeological and chronological contexts of the Taforalt discoveries suggest a much longer tradition of bead-making than previously suspected, making them perhaps the earliest such ornaments in the world.’ Rest of article. Earlier related: Discovery Of The Oldest Adornments In The World ScienceDaily (June 18, 2007) Earliest Known 'Bling' Revealed ScienceDaily (June 24, 2006)

2009 U.S. Chess Championship

How'd the chess femmes (Krush and Zatonskih) do?

14. IM Krush, Irina (20).......... NY 2496 D11 A12 0.5
22. IM Zatonskih, Anna (19)....... NY 2503 L5 A18 0.0

Round 1 pairings:
7. IM Anna Zatonskih (0) 2503 0-1 GM Varuzhan Akobian (0) 2664
8. GM Gregory Kaidanov (0) 2662 ½-½ IM Irina Krush (0) 2496

Round 2 pairings:
7. GM Joel Benjamin (½) 2650 - IM Irina Krush (½) 2496
10. IM Anna Zatonskih (0) 2503 - GM Ildar Ibragimov (0) 2628

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blast from the Past: New World Ancient Writing

I found a newspaper clipping from 2006 with this article when I was cleaning off the top of my microwave that died Tuesday night (the new one was delivered yesterday morning). These images provided by the journal Science show the Cascajal block from Veracruz, Mexico, and a drawing of the block at right. The stone block inscribed with patterned images is believed to be the oldest example of writing in the New World. dondelion tracked down the article for me earlier today - it's still online (amazing!) Stone reveals ancient writing system 2,900-year-old text represents oldest known New World inscription By Andrew Bridges updated 1:12 p.m. CT, Thurs., Sept . 14, 2006 WASHINGTON - It’s more than idle doodling, and the meaning is unclear. But there’s one thing researchers are sure of: The insect, ear of corn, inverted fish and other symbols inscribed on an ancient stone slab is the earliest known writing in the Western Hemisphere. The arrangement and pattern of the symbols suggest the ancient Olmec civilization was using written language roughly three centuries earlier than previously proposed. “We are dealing with the first, clear evidence of writing in the New World,” said Stephen Houston, a Brown University anthropologist. Houston and his U.S. and Mexican colleagues detail the tablet’s discovery and analysis in a study appearing this week in the journal Science. The patterns covering the face of the rectangular block also represent a previously unknown ancient writing system — a rare find in archaeology. The text covers the block’s face, which is almost exactly the dimensions of a standard legal pad. However, at 5 inches (12 centimeters) thick and tipping the scales at 26 pounds (12 kilograms), the tablet is decidedly more hefty. The face is smooth and slightly concave, which suggests it may have been worn down in antiquity as it was inscribed and erased multiple times, Houston said. Discovered years ago Villagers in the Mexican state of Veracruz discovered the tablet sometime before 1999, while quarrying an ancient Olmec mound for road-building material. News of the discovery slowly trickled out, and the study’s authors traveled to the site earlier this year to examine and photograph the block. Based on other materials, including pottery sherds, believed found with the slab, team concluded it is roughly 2,900 years old. Isolated signs similar to those inscribed on the block also appear on even older figurines found elsewhere in Mexico. In 2002, other experts claimed an Olmec cylindrical seal and chips from a stone plaque contained the oldest examples of writing in the Americas. Some have disputed their interpretation of those symbols, which date to roughly 650 B.C. “This is centuries before anything we’ve had. People have debated whether the Olmecs had any writing. This clears it up. This nails it for me,” David Stuart, a University of Texas at Austin expert in Mesoamerican writing, said of the new find. Stuart was not connected with the discovery, but reviewed the study for Science. Was it a dead-end script? The block contains 28 distinct glyphs or symbols, some of which are repeated three and four times. The writing system doesn’t appear to be linked to any known later scripts, and may represent a dead end, according to the study. Other experts unconnected to the study agreed with Houston and his colleagues that the horizontally arranged inscription shows patterns that are the hallmarks of true writing, including syntax and language-specific word order. “That’s full-blown, legitimate text — written symbols taking the place of spoken words,” said William Saturno, a University of New Hampshire anthropologist and expert in Mesoamerican writing. The Olmecs flourished between about 1200 B.C. and 400 B.C., before other great Central American civilizations like the Maya and Aztec. They are best known for the massive heads they carved from stone. The village where the block was found is close to a site called San Lorenzo, believed to be the center of the Olmec world. “To me, this find really does bring us back to this idea that at least writing and a lot of the things we associate with Mesoamerican culture really did have their origin in this region,” Stuart said. The small size of the block and the faintness of the inscription imply the text wasn’t a public document, but instead was meant for intimate reading, Houston said. Some suggested it may have had a ritual use. © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Scorpion Goddess

For Carlos:
The scorpion appears in ancient Egyptian iconography (as the Goddess Serkert, for instance), and in the carved game boards discovered in Jiroft, Iran in 2001, and here in Mayan iconography.
dondelion says the symbolism is universal. Mother Scorpion, who dwells at the end of the Milky Way and is many breasted, reminds me of the ancient Ephesian Artemis who was many-breasted. Rhea was said to have pressed her breast and her milk formed the stars of the Milky Way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mayor's Cup - Mumbai

A 415 player event. Round 9 is in the books - how's GM Koneru Humpy doing? She's doing great! Currently in second place. Humpy was in 5th place with 6.5 after Round 8. A Round 9 victory over IM Suvrajit Saha (2380), a game she should have won, and did, moved her up in the standings as the remaining five of the top six boards all drew their games. Things are really tight at the top - here are the leaders, all within a point of each other: Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 1 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2657 8,0 57,5 45,5 50,00 2 GM Koneru Humpy IND 2612 7,5 58,0 45,0 47,25 3 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J IND 2482 7,5 56,5 44,5 44,75 4 GM Miroshnichenko Evgenij UKR 2680 7,5 56,5 44,0 45,75 5 GM Panchanathan Magesh Chandran IND 2462 7,5 51,0 42,0 42,00 6 GM Deviatkin Andrei RUS 2566 7,0 56,0 44,5 41,75 7 GM Timoshenko Georgy UKR 2550 7,0 55,5 44,0 41,50 8 GM Belov Vladimir RUS 2623 7,0 54,0 42,0 41,50 9 GM Iuldachev Saidali UZB 2497 7,0 52,0 41,0 38,75 10 Thakur Akash IND 2308 7,0 51,5 41,0 38,00 11 IM Himanshu Sharma IND 2403 7,0 51,5 40,5 38,25 12 GM Safin Shukhrat UZB 2485 7,0 51,0 39,5 38,25 13 GM Zinchenko Yaroslav UKR 2531 7,0 51,0 39,5 37,75 14 IM Saptarshi Roy IND 2396 7,0 50,5 39,0 37,75 15 GM Kostenko Petr KAZ 2490 7,0 50,0 40,0 37,00 16 IM Prakash G B IND 2404 7,0 49,5 39,0 38,00 17 IM Kamble Vikramaditya IND 2351 7,0 48,5 37,0 36,50 Humpy will have her work cut out for her in Round 10, when she plays the black pieces against the No. 1 seed in the tournament and currently in 4th place: GM Evgenij Miroshnischenko (UKR 2680). Good luck Humpy! Here are the current standings of some of the other chess femmes playing. I did not have time to check all of the names on the FIDE ratings list to confirm the player's sex (I am sorry, I cannot usually tell by the names alone) and I stopped after I got to player 154! 40 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2307 6,5 46,5 36,0 32,75 50 WGM Meenakshi Subbaraman IND 2303 6,0 50,5 39,5 31,50 62 WIM Thipsay Bagyashree Sathe IND 2177 6,0 47,5 37,5 28,75 63 WGM Ramaswamy Aarthie IND 2191 6,0 47,0 36,0 28,00 65 WFM Swati Mohota IND 2096 6,0 46,5 36,0 28,75 80 WIM Dhar-Barua Saheli IND 2154 5,5 52,0 40,0 29,25 83 IM Harika Dronavalli IND 2474 5,5 50,5 39,0 30,25 87 WCM Gagare Shalmali IND 2117 5,5 49,0 39,0 26,75 119 WIM Priya P IND 2186 5,5 41,5 31,5 22,00 128 WIM Padmini Rout IND 2238 5,0 48,5 38,5 23,50 130 WIM Meera Sai IND 2155 5,0 48,0 38,5 23,75 135 WIM Gokhale Anupama IND 2119 5,0 46,5 36,0 23,75 143 Preethi R IND 2154 5,0 45,5 34,5 20,25 153 WIM Kiran Manisha Mohanty IND 2182 5,0 43,0 32,5 21,75 Very unusual to see IM Harika Dronavalli off the pace of the top chess femmes. I hope nothing is wrong.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tletl, and Mathematics and the Number of the Goddess and - OH MY

Hmmm, on top of everything else that has happened today, some new men have appeared in my life. I am harried and have too much to do in a short period of time. dondelion (Mr. Don) will be arriving in two days. I have SO much to do, including getting my hands on a new microwave so I can actually cook something other than in the oven or stove-top on my old faithful stove (thank Goddess THAT still works but - come to think of it, the stove is as old as the microwave was. It too could die at any time. EEK!) So these new men have appeared, some sending me emails with mathematical formulae, one posting here under a topic I posted months ago. What is a chess femme to do? Well, I will do my best, that is what I will do. But tonight I need to do online shopping for an emergency delivery microwave. And so, Carlos, I am going to add your website to my list of websites to be visited, because I believe you certainly have the magic of the Goddess. I do not know what to make of you, Carlos. You are rather overwhelming. To HHH and friends who have been sending me emails with esoteric formulae of numerological and gematric significance - I will post some of your information here in due course. You have caught me at a really bad time! So please, be patient. (Not that I will have much to add to the discussions you seem to be intent on generating, since I do not understand most of what you are saying!) My vacation starts on May 7th when Mr. Don arrives, and I won't REALLY be back "here" until May 26th. It is true I now have my new Acer netbook toy, but my intention is to use that primarily to post photographs and notes from our New York trip. My time with Mr. Don comes first and foremost. And when I go back to work on May 26th, my office is going to be pure CHAOS! That may take some time to get things back under control. Carlos, you are being provocative. Cut bones - Yes. As you are no doubt well aware, the earliest gaming pieces were made out of animal bones - knuckle bones were the fore-runners of modern dice. During the long cold winters in caves during the Ice Age, people spent their time carving exquisite ivory figurines of women, birds, animals, and goddesses who were bird-women. Ivory - Yes. The oldest ivory game pieces of which I am aware were carved by ancient Egyptians, in about 3500 BCE. They predate Narmer. Chess going all the way back to the Ice Age? Even I have not dared go ack in time that far! I have said chess is as old as Noah and the Ark, and the place we should be looking for it's origins is in the mountains of Ararat. In the Caucasus Mountains, near Lake Van. Now I really have to shop online for a new microwave. It MUST be delivered Thursday morning.

Tonight Out in the Garden

Hola darlings! Tonight when I got home from the office it was really nice out. The sun was starting to set and my deck faces west, so I get that last blast of sun and warmth this time of year, which is really welcome after the horrid winter and cold cold spring we've had! So I unload my stuff - more about that later on - and pour myself a really BIG glass of cheap wine, grab a hand-full of in-the-shell-almonds for the squirrels, and head to the deck. I settle in and start reading the last quarter of an Amanda Quick novel. I just LOVE Amanda Quick. I toss out the almonds, whistle for my squirrels, who came running, and I settle down to read the rest of the novel. About 10 minutes later, I notice the Crazy Squirrel at the end of the yard. I don't even know if I can begin to describe Crazy Squirrel. I don't know if it is a he or a she. This is the second year that Crazy Squirrel has lived in or close to my yard. He or she is just - crazy. At first I thought Crazy Squirrel had the same disease that Mr. Tipsy Squirrel had. Sadly, since the last time I wrote about Mr. Tipsy Squirrel, I have not seen him, so I think he has died. But the last time I saw him, he was stuffing himself full of almonds and lots of other in-the-shell mixed nuts and he was happy. I could tell. Back to Crazy Squirrel. Crazy Squirrel hops and jerks and jumps and runs; Crazy Squirrel startles at nothing to cause alarm in the other squirrels, and runs a hundred miles a hour straight up a tree trunk, and then turns sommersaults like a Pong Ball in the upper limbs until he finally climbs back down and disappears to - I don't know where. Tonight Crazy Squirrel was bouncing around the yard as usual, and suddenly makes a bee-line for my 18-year old daffodil bunch. Actually, it started out as a house-warming gift 19 years ago from my sister-in-law Heidi. One day in fall, after I'd been here a couple of months (moved here in August, 1990, when construction was completed), Heidi came over to help me paint my upstairs bathroom (the same one I am now attempting, unsuccessfully thus far, to re-paint), and when we took a break she dashed out to her car and then dashed out the "grove" of then really small trees at the bottom of my backyard, and said she had a surprise for me. That day, Heidi planted at least 50 bulbs in that wasteland area that then constituted the grove. The next spring, only five things came up: a single daffodil, two tulips, and two grape hyacinth. The bunnies promptly attacked the tulips and hyacinth. They stopped appearing more than 10 years ago. But every spring since 1991, my first spring here, the daffodils have appeared without fail, each year the clump getting a little bit thicker. Seeing Crazy Squirrel ATTACK my clump of daffodils was totally shocking! He did it for at least five minutes. Flinging himself over and over into the midst of the clump and rubbing down into it! Running around and around underneath the outer-most edge of the greenery, and then casting himself once again into the middle of the clump. On his back, like a doggy rubs his back in the spring-time grass, that is what Crazy Squirrel was doing in my clump of daffodils! When he finished, my poor clump of daffodils was pretty much flattened to the ground. DAMN! But I didn't have the heart to get up and yell, stomping toward Crazy Squirrel, to chase him away. I mean, after all, he IS crazy! So, I drank my wine and finished the novel. When I had finished the novel, I came inside and uncovered my latest purchase and newest toy. A total extravagance that I should not have bought, but I bought it anyway. Well, darlings, it was on sale :) I've got myself one of those tiny netbooks to take to New York! The one I settled on is an Acer and I have totally fallen in love with it. It looks like the daughter of my much larger Toshiba laptop color-wise, a gold sparkle-filled blue (no idea what the color is called). After I unwrapped it I tried the keyboard out - it's small. Really small - the screen is only 8.9 inches wide! But I managed to type "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country" relatively rapidly and didn't make too many errors. I'm so happy. And I'm so bummed. I put a microwave dinner into my faithful old Carousel II that I purchased in 1986 and set it for the requisite number of minutes. When I went downstairs a few minutes ago to retrieve my supper from the microwave, I discovered, much to my horror, that it has died. Totally deadsville. I tried it in a number of different electrical outlets, just in case I blew a circuit breaker (although all of the lights are working just fine in the kitchen). Nothing. Well, it survived nearly 23 years. It would have been 23 in August, 2009. Alas, poor Carousel II, I knew thee well. Tomorrow morning I will reverently carry you out to the curbside and lay thee gently down, where I hope you will be retrieved by an enterprising junkman. You died just in time to miss this morning's garbage pick-up, so you must be destined for greater things than the City Dump. Now I have to buy a new microwave. In a BIG hurry! Mr. Don will be here in less than 2 days, expecting to be fed! EEK!

Southwest Chess Club: Warm-Up Blend-O-Matic

Wooo wooo! My adopted chess club, Southwest Chess Club, is holding a tournament this Thursday night. Be there - be 64 square! (Okay, maybe that's lame. Be there just to show me that despite my being lame, you won't hold it against me). Here's the information: Hello Chess Players, This Thursday, May 7, 2009 we are holding a Blitz Tournament. That means a time control of Game in 5 minutes. The event is the Warm-Up Blend-O-Matic. Sign up by 6:50 PM on Thursday night, so we can start promptly at 7 PM. This will be a round robin tournament with one or more sections, depending on entries. Cash prizes awarded based on entries. These games will not affect your regular USCF rating. They will only impact your Quick Rating. Robin Grochowski will be the Chief Tournament Director and I will be the Assistant Tournament Director. Details follow below. Tom Fogec 414-425-6742 Warm-Up Blend-O-Matic: May 7 10-Round (Round-Robin) in One or more Sections (depending on number of players). Game/5 minutes. USCF Quick-Rated. EF: $5 members, $7 others. TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Whoa! Was Seth Right After All?

Those of you who have read Jane Roberts know who "Seth" is - and Seth's mantra - WE MAKE OUR OWN REALITY. Basically, by what we think. Yes, that sounds rather trite these days, doesn't it. But I first read it some 20 years ago (maybe even longer) in a book I think was called "The Nature of Personal Reality," and it's stuck with me ever since. Here is some evidence that suggests Jane Roberts and Seth are correct. From MIND MATTERS Wray Herbert Just Say No to Aging? A provocative new book from a Harvard psychologist suggests that changing how we think about our age and health can have dramatic physical benefits. Apr 14, 2009 Updated: 10:28 a.m. ET Apr 14, 2009 Imagine that you could rewind the clock 20 years. It's 1989. Madonna is topping the pop charts, and TV sets are tuned to "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown." Widespread Internet use is just a pipe dream, and Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Montana are on recent covers of Sports Illustrated. But most important, you're 20 years younger. How do you feel? Well, if you're at all like the subjects in a provocative experiment by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, you actually feel as if your body clock has been turned back two decades. Langer did a study like this with a group of elderly men some years ago, retrofitting an isolated old New England hotel so that every visible sign said it was 20 years earlier. The men—in their late 70s and early 80s—were told not to reminisce about the past, but to actually act as if they had traveled back in time. The idea was to see if changing the men's mindset about their own age might lead to actual changes in health and fitness. Langer's findings were stunning: After just one week, the men in the experimental group (compared with controls of the same age) had more joint flexibility, increased dexterity and less arthritis in their hands. Their mental acuity had risen measurably, and they had improved gait and posture. Outsiders who were shown the men's photographs judged them to be significantly younger than the controls. In other words, the aging process had in some measure been reversed. Rest of article. Herbert writes the blog We're Only Human at
Wray's "review" of Counterclockwise by Ellen Langer does not give ISBN, publisher or cost! Interesting. So, here it is: Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility Written by Ellen J. Langer Category: Psychology & Psychiatry - Applied Psychology; Health & Fitness Format: eBook, 224 pages On Sale: May 19, 2009 Price: $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-345-51480-6 (0-345-51480-7) Also available as a hardcover.

Zahi Hawass Strikes Again!

But this time, it's a great marketing idea for archaeology :) Now darlings, bear with me, because I have no idea how to embed the code needed to post a You Tube video here (much to my dismay), so I'm just going to give you the url link (I hope). I have to say, it's a good one, and I'm no fan of Zahi Hawass. Found this at The Daily Grail: Restoring the Step Pyramid May 4, 2009 Here's a new video on the restoration of the Step Pyramid of Djoser (and uncovering of his massive granite sarcophagus), featuring - of course - Dr Zahi Hawass. Djoser's pyramid is one of the earliest examples of monumental work on a truly massive scale, predating the Giza pyramids by a couple of centuries.

Bahrain Scholastic Chess News

From the Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) online: Wafa'a and Mansoor claim chess crowns Posted on » Monday, May 04, 2009 WAFA'A Fakhro of Al Noor International School claimed the secondary girls title while Mansoor Bukhalaf of Shaikh Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa School came on top in the secondary boys section in the first Chess Championship at the Talented Students Care Centre Gym. Seventy-four students, representing 36 government and private schools of all grades, took part in the day-long tournament which was organised for the first time by the Education Ministry. Sanabis School students Sara Al Afoo and her younger sister Zaynab, daughters of international chess arbiter Shaker Al Afoo, came on top in the intermediate and primary girls categories respectively. In the boys sections, Khalil Bukhalaf won the boys intermediate competition while Ahmed Essam Al Qazzaz of Busaiteen School claimed first place in the primary section contest. The prize-distribution ceremony was attended by Education Minister Dr Majid bin Ali Al Nuaimi who honoured the winners in each category.

2009 U.S. Chess Championships

It's coming up fast - Round 1 is on Friday May 8. Tickets are free to members of the Chess and Scholastic Center of St. Louis; tickets cost $12 to non-members, with reduced price for full-time students. Information page. My interest in this event is primarily because of the two chess femmes playing: IM Irina Krush and IM Anna Zatonskih, current U.S. Women's chess champion. People may recall the hoo-haa last year during the Armageddon play-off between Krush and Zatonskih that resulted in Zatonskih's winning the U.S. Women's title. I believe a lot of people are hoping to see a lot of drama, maybe even a cat fight between the two women. I'd be very surprised if that turns out to be the case, but I expect at least some members of the U.S.C.F. Executive Board are rubbing their hands in glee over what they anticipate will be a banner event for the first time since America's Foundation for Chess dropped its lucrative sponsorship of the open and women's championships in 2006. Viewership online is bound to be up. Me, I'm interested because other than GM Susan Polgar, who is inactive and therefore not on the list, these two women are the highest rated female players in the United States, excluding GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who plays for the Russian Federation but now, I believe, resides in Florida.

Marilyn French Has Died

Just saw this at The New York Times: Marilyn French, Novelist and Champion of Feminism, Dies at 79 By A. G. SULZBERGER and HERBERT MITGANG Published: May 3, 2009 Marilyn French, a writer and feminist activist whose debut novel, “The Women’s Room,” propelled her into a leading role in the modern feminist movement, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 79 and lived in Manhattan. The cause was heart failure, said her son, Robert. With steely views about the treatment of woman and a gift for expressing them on the printed page, Ms. French transformed herself from an academic who quietly bristled at the expectations of married women in the post-World War II era to a leading, if controversial, opinionmaker on gender issues who decried the patriarchal society she saw around her. “My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world,” she once declared. Her first and best-known novel, “The Women’s Room,” released in 1977, traces a submissive housewife’s journey of self-discovery following her divorce in the 1950s, describing the lives of Mira Ward and her friends in graduate school at Harvard as they grow into independent women. The book was partly informed by her own experience of leaving an unhappy marriage and helping her daughter deal with the aftermath of being raped. Women all over the world seized on the book, which sold more than 20 million copies and was translated into 20 languages. Gloria Steinem, a close friend, compared the impact of the book on the discussion surrounding women’s rights to the one that Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” had had on racial equality 25 years earlier. “It was about the lives of women who were supposed to live the lives of their husbands, supposed to marry an identity rather than become one themselves, to live secondary lives,” Ms. Steinem said in an interview Sunday. “It expressed the experience of a huge number of women and let them know that they were not alone and not crazy.” Ms. French continued publishing novels as well as books of essays and literary criticism with the common theme of male subjugation of women, whether the arena was Shakespeare or modern history. “Men’s need to dominate women may be based in their own sense of marginality or emptiness; we do not know its root, and men are making no effort to discover it,” she wrote in “The War Against Women” (1992). Critics accused her work of being anti-male, frequently citing a female character in “The Women’s Room” who declares, after her daughter has been raped: “All men are rapists, and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.” In 1992 Ms. French, a longtime smoker, was given a diagnosis of esophageal cancer and told she had just months to live. She chronicled her winning battle against the disease, which included a 10-day coma, in “Season in Hell: A Memoir” (1998). “I cannot say I am happy I was sick,” she wrote. “But I am happy that sickness, if it had to happen, brought me to where I am now. It is a better place than I have been before.” Nevertheless, the disease and its treatment took such a sharp physical toll that, friends said, for a while afterward she questioned whether she should have survived. “She was in pain for 15 years but she was extremely brave,” said Carol Jenkins, a friend who runs the Women’s Media Center, an advocacy group in New York. “She fought through it, she wrote through it and carried on her life. The printed word was a source of life for her.” In the years since her supposed death sentence, Ms. French continued to publish prolifically; she has a novel scheduled for release this fall and was working on a memoir at the time of her death. Her most significant work since her illness was the four-volume “From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women,” published by Feminist Press and built around the premise that prevailing histories had denied women their past, present and future. Despite carefully chronicling a long history of oppression, the last volume ends on an optimistic note, said Florence Howe, who recently retired as director of the publishing house. “For the first time women have history,” she said of Ms. French’s work. “The world changed and she helped change it.” In recent years Ms. French struggled to get published, partly because of the gains in women’s rights she had helped bring about. “It was a source of embitterment to her and outrage to me,” said Robin Morgan, a writer, feminist activist and close friend. Marilyn French was born on Nov. 21, 1929, in Brooklyn, the daughter of E. Charles Edwards, an engineer, and Isabel Hazz Edwards, a department-store clerk. She studied philosophy and English literature at Hofstra College in Hempstead, on Long Island, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and a master’s in 1964. She was an English instructor at Hofstra from 1964 to 1968, then earned a doctorate from Harvard. She was an assistant professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., from 1972 to 1976. She married Robert M. French Jr., a lawyer, in 1950. They divorced in 1967. Ms. French is survived by her son, Robert, of East Brunswick, N.J., and a daughter, Jamie French, of Cambridge, Mass. While Ms. French was pleased by significant gains made by women in the three decades since her landmark novel, she was also just as quick to point out lingering deficiencies in gender equality, friends recalled. “She had,” Ms. Steinem said, “higher standards and higher hopes.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Added to the Recommended Reading List

"The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype," by Erich Neumann (translated by Ralph Manheim) [Note: this is a soft-cover edition, ISBN 0-691-01780-8) and contains a separate section entirely devoted to photographs, 185 pages long, in addition to the illustrations and photographs integrated into the text. This is a great resource.] "The Language of the Goddess," with foreword by Joseph Campbell, by Marija Gimbutas [Note: packed with illustrations and photographs on nearly every page.] "Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times," by Elizabeth Wayland Barber -- I haven't got my hands on this one yet, I'm buying it from today :) Wayland Barber wrote the fabulous book "The Mummies of Urumchi," also on the Recommended Reading List.

The War Against Women

How well I remember reading Marilyn French's novel The Women's Room. It had an enormous impact on my life in ways I'm still measuring, more than 30 years later. The one phrase in the book that has stayed with me all these years is "shit and string beans." Any woman who has read The Women's Room will know exactly what that means - and why it resonated then and continues to resonate today. Today girls are told that if they get the same education as men, they will earn the same money as men; that they are as good as men; that they can do anything a man can do, barring certain physical limitations. The fact remains that even with an identical four-year college degree, a woman earns 89 cents to a man's dollar. That's better than when I started college in 1975, when it was 74 cents to a dollar. But it's not equal. Why not? Ah, that's the rub. So - now I've got yet more to pile on to my list of books to read, for today I discovered that Marilyn French has written a series on the history (perhaps I should use herstory) of women. They sound absolutely fascinating. Here's the book review I came across at The New York Review of Books. Volume 56, Number 7 · April 30, 2009 The War Against Women By Hilary Mantel From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women, Volume I: Origins by Marilyn French, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood Feminist Press, 352 pp., $19.95 (paper) From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women, Volume II: The Masculine Mystique by Marilyn French, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood Feminist Press, 477 pp., $19.95 (paper) From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women, Volume III: Infernos and Paradises, the Triumph of Capitalism in the 19th Century by Marilyn French, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood Feminist Press, 385 pp., $19.95 (paper) From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women, Volume IV: Revolutions and the Struggles for Justice in the 20th Century by Marilyn French, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood Feminist Press, 608 pp., $19.95 (paper)

Who Should Own the Rosetta Stone?

A case is made for keeping looted artifacts in the museums where they are: A museum director fights back The best place for 'looted' artifacts? Right where they are Robert Fulford, National Post April 18, 2009 Ideology, politics and bone-headed provincialism come together comfortably when they make war on the world's great museums. The issue is cultural property. Countries believing that colonialists stole their spiritual heritage are uniting in a send-back-our-stuff campaign. They envision populations and art objects moving in opposite directions: While citizens try to emigrate to Europe and North America for better lives, art objects should travel the other way, delivering national identity and self-esteem through ancient artifacts. Greece yearns for the return of the Elgin Marbles, owned by the British Museum since they were taken from the Parthenon in 1803. Peru wants Yale University to return thousands of Inca artifacts discovered by the Yale historian who uncovered the lost mountainside town of Machu Picchu in 1911. Turkey, China, Cambodia, Guatemala -- they all pine, if you believe their political leaders, for fragments of their distant past that are held abroad and must be brought "home" where they "belong." And then there's Egypt. The government has its eye on the Rosetta Stone, a fragment of rock that opened up ancient Egyptian culture. It was carved for a temple in 196 BC but later abandoned and used as building material. French soldiers accidentally discovered it in 1799 while rebuilding a fort in the city of Rosetta during Napoleon's brief reign over Egypt. When the British moved in, they shipped it to the Brit-ish Museum. The text inscribed on the stone, itself a document of craven colonialism, announces an agreement between Egyptian priests and Ptolemy V, the Macedonian ruler of Egypt, praising the generosity of Ptolemy and promising to demonstrate loyalty by erecting statues of him in the holiest places. It's utterly boring but it's trilingually boring, in ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic (the everyday language of contracts). In 1822 a French Egyptologist cracked the hieroglyphics code and thereby learned to translate ancient Egyptian. Who now deserves to own such a wondrous object? The state of Macedonia, or maybe the Macedonian part of Greece? Unfortunately, populations have shifted so much in two millennia that neither can demonstrate historical continuity with 196 BC. Nor can Egypt. No one pretends that 2009 Egyptians are the same people who pledged fealty to that alien king. Modern France has a case, for guessing the text's importance in 1799 and decoding it just 23 years later. But on fifth thought, perhaps the Rosetta Stone should remain in the British Museum, where it's been well treated for two centuries. That's more or less the argument behind Whose Culture? The Promise of Museums and the Debate Over Antiquities (Princeton University Press), by James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, and nine fellow professionals. Cuno, the author of another book on the same subject last year, has emerged as the champion of museums who want to keep their holdings -- and not a moment too soon. Rest of article.

Numbers Magic

Within a couple days of each other I received email with information on the number sequence 4-3-2 (the number of the Goddess) and 3-4-5, used by the ancient Egyptians to create true right angles when staking out foundations for buildings, and sometimes this sequence was reflected in tomb paintings and carvings. (Image from Budge, Ch. IV, The Book of the Dead). Here is the information on 4-3-2 provided by RHHannaHH (in two separate emails):
4 x 3 x 2 = 24 24 x 6 x 6 = 864 Circle of Time (432 x 2 ) 360 degrees x 60 min x 60 sec = 1296 Circle of Space 432 x 3 432 x 6 - Equinoctial progression (2592) 432 / 4 - 108 /Pi =343774677 WMS CI 360 / 2 Pi = 5729578 R R / 3/5 = 343774677
(Second email):
.432 / 11111111 ( square ONE) = 3888 / 36 - 108 / Pi = 3/5 R (WMSCI)
[I have no idea what WMSCI stands for]
(Image: Offering table from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutmosis III, "The Quest for Immortality" exhibit. The top, left side, shows 4x3 circular shallow carved depressions; the center shows a 3x3 enclosed square of depressions; the right shows 5x3 depressions). A link to this website was provided by АНДРЕЙ ТКАЧЕНКО. As you'll see, it's in Russian, but it does offer a neat little gadget that translates the site into other languages. The translation into English leaves much to be desired, but it gave me a general idea of what the creator of the website is talking about (not that I understood most of it!) The graphics alone are worth a visit - they are really cool!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...