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May 16, 2014: Prehistoric skeleton in Mexico, Bobby Fischer’s dad, blog name change, David Foster Wallace

13,000-year-old skeleton found in underwater cave in Mexico:  A near-complete skeleton of a 15-16 year old girl has been found at the bottom of what was once a pit in the ground, surrounded by the skeletons of other ancient elephant-like mammals called gomphotheres, saber-tooth cats and giant ground sloths that fell into the same hole over time, all now part of an underwater cave system.  At the time she would have fallen into the hole, during the late Pleistocene timeframe, the last ice age we’ve seen on earth, the water was lower than the ground where her skeleton was found, but over time, the water has risen to cover all of these skeletons, preserving them.  This girl would have been a contemporary to the woman known as Arlington Springs Woman whose bones were found on an island off the California cost in 1959 by Phil Orr.

The sociopolitical love affair drama around Bobby Fischer’s real father:  In a random conversation today at Kingdom Coffee about Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, and chess, all because one of my coworkers has never seen the 1993 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, we ended up looking up Bobby Fischer’s Wikipedia page to figure out when he died.  We were surprised by the World War II-era drama around the question of who his actual father was.

Fischer born in 1943 in Chicago to Regina Wender Fischer, an American citizen of Polish-Russian Jewish descent who was born in Switzerland but raised in St. Louis, Missouri.  While studying medicine in Moscow, she married Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, also known as Gerardo Liebscher, a German biophysicist, in 1933.  He is listed as Bobby Fischer’s father on the 1943 birth certificate.  But Bobby’s mother had fled Russia to Paris due to anti-semitism, and then in 1939, she fled to the United States under the threat of German invasion of France.  Hans-Gerhardt Fischer tried to move to the US as well, but he was never allowed into the country due to his German citizenship.  They had separated in Moscow but were not divorced until 1945.

Fischer’s mom became pregnant in June 1942 and was effectively homeless in 1943 when she had Bobby.  She moved around quite a bit and raised Bobby and his older sister as a single parent, eventually settling in Brooklyn, New York, obtaining a master’s degree in nursing and beginning a career as nurse.  A 2002 investigation has shown that the FBI tracked Bobby’s mom and her circle of friends in the 1950s under the suspicion that she had Communist sympathies, and in that process, the FBI determined that Paul Nemenyi, a Hungarian Jewish physicist was actually Bobby Fisher’s father.  The FBI tracking shows that Mr. Nemenyi made child support payments on occasion, once reported Bobby’s mom to social workers, and paid for Bobby’s schooling until Mr. Nemenyi’s death in 1952.   After his death, Bobby’s mom wrote a letter to Mr. Nemenyi’s son, asking if anything had been left in his estate for Bobby’s benefit. The whole story could be read, though, that Mr. Nemenyi just had a concern for Bobby and wanted to watch out for his well-being.  On top of it all, Bobby’s mom gave differing details to social workers about Bobby’s father.  On one occasion, she told a social worker that she hadn’t seen Hans-Gerhardt Fischer since 1939.  On another occasion, she told the same social worker that she’d traveled to Mexico in June 1942 and seen Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, and that Bobby was conceived during that visit.

This is the type of historical intrigue you’d hear on the Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast.  It’s fun to sort through history because humans are such a scrappy bunch.  A while back, I bought the domain name, and I’m thinking of switching this site over to that domain instead of its current  It’s a little longer, but it’s easier to spell and means a little more than just on the name I use for social media.  I like the positive feeling it creates.  So, I may shift over this blog to use that name in the next few days.

David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture: We live in strange days, and it’s interesting to what how irony and cynicism has become so constant, especially in technology. It’s rampant on social media, comments, forums and it’s migrated to television and movies. It’s inherent in our culture, but it seems to eat at our ability to be introspective, mindful and sober in our thoughts. I’m good with a little irony and cynicism, but it seems to be eating up our culture like a uncontrollable virus. I’m intrigued to see what comes next. History typically sees a counterbalance come into play to even out such an extreme, but I’m curious to see in what form that comes about.

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