The Edge Effect

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Dog Blogging - Puerto Rico Style

I was planning to do some SAA blogging from Puerto Rico. I even took some pictures for this purpose. But I'm in San Juan with 2000 of my closest friends so the likelihood of that happening is quite low. However, I can't miss Friday Dog Blogging and I do miss my little puppies. So here are a couple of Charlie and Sadie looking sad. I hope they aren't too sad, but I still hope they miss us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SAA Travel Advisory

I've already complained about the organization at the SAA meetings, but what about the social bits? Below is a travel warning I recently received from the SAA administration in preparation for this week's meeting. Note that this advisory is not specific to Puerto Rico, but is a forecast based on past conferences. In fact, I have been affected by all of these problems myself. The standard irritations to be prepared for include:
  • Wandering eyes syndrome. This happens when you are talking with someone who would really rather be networking with more 'important' people, but you are all they could find. The primary symptom is that the afflicted person's eyes look anywhere but at you. They are constantly scanning crowds and nametags of passers-by in the hopes of identifying a 'bigger' name.
  • Nomophobic occular distractive disorder - The opposite of Wandering eyes syndrome, NODD occurs when the person with whom one is talking either forgets a name or wants to get some information off of a nametag. The primary symptom, known colloquially as nodding, involves staring intently at the chest of an interlocutor without ever making eye contact. In another context this could be mistaken for lewdness, but at SAA it is a clear indicator that a conversation partner doesn't know a name or affiliation and desperately needs that information. A kind observer will politely slip the required information into conversation or even re-introduce her/himself to the nodder in order to aid recovery so that the conversation can return to a vague sense of normality.
  • Inflamed field-credomania. Though this is our field's largest and most significant professional meeting, it contains divergent tensions that are hard to reconcile. The primary tension is between academic professionalism and rugged, field-credible informality. Sufferers of inflamed field-credomania can be spotted easily by their ripped jeans, grungy hiking boots, and internal-frame backpacks with many dangling caribeaners and Nalgene bottles. Yes, even though the meetings are held in a Hilton conference center on a Caribbean island thousands of miles from most of our field sites, many archaeologists will sport a look that says "Hey, I just stumbled in from the field and happened upon this conference. Too bad I don't have any other clothes." One of the things I love about archaeology is that we are a relaxed bunch, not overly hung up on formality, but I think a lot of what one sees at SAAs is a projection of field-chic because of the great value associated with "dirt archaeology" by many folks in opposition to "uppity theory." It has been suggested that this is not a disorder at all but simply a symptom of my own deep-seeded inadequacy in the field-cred and ruggedness department, but no respectable researchers actually support this theory.

There are other afflictions to watch out for at the SAA meetings, so be vigilant. Let this small guide help you in the discursive production of inter-subjective space time in the negotiated fields of alterity and solidarity within the situated arena of San Juan's Hilton conference center.

Eagle Lake Zooarchaeology Conference

Over at North State Science there is information about a conference specifically for zooarchaeology. It's the Stanley J Olsen Eagle Lake Zooarchaeology Conference and it's happening at the field station for CSU Chico. It looks like a lot of fun so those of you interested in Fauna should consider checking it out.

I'm looking forward to SAAs in San Juan (leaving at 6:00 tomorrow morning), but there's something about these smaller, more specialized conferences that is really nice. One of the best conference experiences I've had was a little over a year ago at the Flint Hills Conference in Council Grove, Kansas. All of the student-types and a couple of friends with jobs (about a dozen altogether) got a cabin together on the lake nearby. Besides having a great time with everybody, several of us brought along artifacts from projects we were currently working on. I got a lot of input on materials I didn't recognize and I saw some things in other collections that looked more like my stuff than it should have. On the downside, my friend HC pointed out that if a meteorite hit that cabin, the world would have lost an entire generation of Kansas archaeologists. That seems like a risk not worth taking.

I understand that the Pecos conference in New Mexico is also quite an event, but we haven't made it there yet. It looks like the Eagle Lake conference is held at a field station so there is good opportunity for fishing, hiking, and otherwise enjoying mountain life.

SAA is a fun conference and there is something nice about getting 2000 archaeologists together to talk about all kinds of research. But the sheer volume of the conference has gotten out of control. Based on the preliminary program, I count 38 events happening concurrent with my session on Thursday morning. This includes symposia, general sessions, poster sessions, forums, and working groups; it does not include committee meetings, ethics bowl, exhibits, book sales, and the jobs fair. It's so overwhelming that it's basically impossible to hear all the papers you are interested in.

I don't really know that there is a solution to this, a lot of people complain that SAA should reject more papers, but I don't think the correlation between abstract quality and paper quality is tight enough to use this as a deciding factor. Also there is something nice about being able to give a paper no matter what its merits if for no other reason than to have the experience of giving a crappy paper and knowing how to avoid it in the future. I gave my flaming-ball-of-crap paper at a much smaller conference, which actually meant that every single person at the conference knew about it and it was hard to blow off. Hopefully that will never happen again.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dangers of Fieldwork

We all know that fieldwork has it's dangers. Scorpions, snakes, heat stroke, exotic diseases, and goofy hats for starters. When I worked for the Forest Service we had to watch out for treasure hunters who thought we were hiding Spanish gold, Mormon gold, and god knows what else. These folks could get territorial and usually carried weapons. The illegal artifact trade in the Southwest involves some pretty violent and unsavory people. And now it looks like there is a connection between crystal meth production and artifact trading in some areas. Today I got an e-mail from a regional list. It follows:
There has been a relevant discussion on the list that a significant number of dealers in meth drugs are "arrowhead hunters" and that they trade in artifacts. Incredible as this might seem, indeed law enforcement has begun to track drug dealers and abusers through this underworld of artifact collecting, digging, and trading
Sketchy. An attached message included this warning as well:
By the way - and just for field personnel's situational awareness - the meth makers have developed a new way of making product that we have seen in the past couple of years. Everything is placed in a single can (1 to 5 gal whatever can), and left somewhere until the 'process' is complete - usually 3-5 days - then it is retrieved and refined. Because the reaction going on inside the can is potentially lethal and the can can rupture, they will leave it in the woods someplace until it is 'cooked.' Field personnel finding one of these during survey/inventory need to steer well clear...

Just one more thing to look out for.

Am I Web 2.0 Yet?

I'm not really a techie, just sort of a tech groupie. By the time I first heard about Web 2.0 it was probably already passe for the Red Hat crowd. That's probably not even a good referent of geekdom anymore.

In fact I don't really even know what Web 2.0 is. I guess you just know it when you see it.

Anyway, I'm trying hard to get Web 2.0-cred. I found this little stylesheet and you can expect to see all of these tips put into practice on The Edge very soon. Feel free to cheat off of it yourself.

Blogger Comments Back

Okay, I got rid of Haloscan comments in favor of the old Blogger format. Christina found a way last night to install trackback without changing the comments format so I just had to a little reverse-engineering today to get mine up to speed. Does it kill me that she figured this out first? Yes.

Gas Prices

In case you haven't already seen it, this map is an interesting look at gas prices across the country by county. Ann Arbor looks to be about average. Check out this page for a cool (but incomplete) map of local gas prices, or click here to find the cheapest gas in the land.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dead Bones

I just stumbled onto an interesting blog by an archaeologist in California. Check out North State Science, and while you're there be sure to read this post about zooarchaeology, paleoanthropology, and bad ID analogies.


Christina is upset with DTE about the gas bill. Can this really be legal?

(OK, I'm just testing the trackback with this post, but it's still an important issue.)

First They Came For Butt Plugs

As the culture wars rage on, the stakes hit closer to home. If there is any doubt in your mind that the fundamentalist footsoldiers are after more than limited access to abortion and marriage, you can put it to rest. A bill is being considered in South Carolina that would make the sale of sex toys a felony. That means a dolphin-shaped vibrator could cost you five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

You may remember that earlier in the year Missouri banned health clinics from providing birth control including both contraceptives and "natural family planning" (i.e. the rhythm method).

The agenda of the radical religious right is about far more than "traditional family values." They intend to tell you how and with whom you can have sex. They also intend to make family planning decisions for you. And all of this is being facilitated by "tax-cut Republicans" who find the religious right offensive but are willing to play along as long as their stock dividends aren't taxed. Look no further than "straight shooter" John McCain for a poster-child of the mounting power of theocrats. His cuddly relationship with Jerry Fallwell in the name of wooing a conservative base empowers a very dangerous element in our society.

If you can come up with any compelling interest for the government in deciding how consenting adults have sex, please let me know.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

I've added commenting and trackback to the Edge. That made previous comments disappear. I know, comment triste. Let me know if you like or hate Haloscan, we can always go back.

The Love Boat

I've posted some photos from the Curators' Ball. I don't think there's anything too incriminating in there. Enjoy!


So I was randomly flipping through by clicking the "Next Blog" button at the top of this page, just to see what is out there. It turned out that the first blog after mine was written in Chinese, then a bunch of deep thoughts on the injustice of life written by a teenager with a thesauraus.

But numer three was Sexmate, a blog by someone way more hip than I am posting truly bizarre celebrity gossip. Most of it is the kind of US Magazine/Entertainment Tonight coverage that bores me to tears. But down at the bottom of the page is this set of photos that allegedly show the stars of Harry Potter smoking weed and drinking underage.

I don't see the drugs in the pictures and I don't know enough about Harry Potter to really recognize these actors. Somehow though this strikes me as newsworthy so I thought I'd share.

If you're looking for something a little more creepy, check out Sexmate's story about P-Diddy (of Detroit legal system fame) using kids to advertise his new clothing line.

Friday, April 21, 2006


In the tradition of Friday Dog Blogging, please allow me to share a discovery. I'm sure you are all aware of The Daily Puppy. Well, I just discovered that there is a section of that site for Grownup Puppies as well. Pretty cute!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pirates in Ypsi? No More!

It looks like Ypsilanti has been saved from a dreaded pirate radio station. Seriously, I only find out about things this cool when they are finally shut down.

How Do You Like Them Bones?

Here are a couple of photos of bones. These are the most-complete scapulae fom the Swantek Site. They are all bison with the exception of one from a deer (slightly left of the scale ).

Most have smoothed distal edges - digging or hoeing usewear - and some have a worked notch in the middle like in the second picture. It is my understanding that this is related to hide and sinew working. Somewhere on my desk there is an article about that.

No good reason to photograph them all like this, but I wanted to see them all together.

That's a bunch of buffalo shoulders, huh?


This is getting a lot of attention after being linked by Pharyngula. It's a story about finding emotional support in grad school. Your experience might be different, but it's well written and worth a look.

Prairie Ayatollahs

I hate to keep ripping off Red State Rabble, but this one is too good to pass up.


This morning I noticed that one of the ads running on the right side of this blog was for the Honda Fit. The ad was slick and it looked like there were some new electronic goodies in the Fit, so I checked it out.

I have to say, the webpage was less spectacular than I had expected. The car looks a lot like the Pontiac Vibe, which I think is kind of lame. But it's also a little bit reminiscent of the Honda Element, which I think is a pretty cool vehicle. So maybe there is hope. The page extatically announces "an innovative 60/40 split 2nd row Magic-Seat" that apparently allows innovative butt configurations. As near as I can tell, that just means that the back seats are split asymmetrically and lay down. Our lame Focus does that.

The part of the ad that really drew me in was the "drive by wire" throttle system. I was hoping for some serious Knight Rider stuff here. It turns out that they have just replaced the throttle cable with a computer system that will undoubtedly cost $1000 every time it breaks.

They really don't salvage any cool points with lines in the description like
One glance at this impetuous, bite-sized wonder and you just might think "The Fit is go!"
On the plus side, there is a photo of this car with a llama inside so it's probably a decent dog-transporter. Also, I suppose the drive-by-wire is a cool piece of engineering, and with a base price under $14k this is the cheapest Honda with four wheels.

Honda, I hope you know what you're doing. That Ridgeline abomination has me doubting and don't get me started about the mechanized doors on the Odyssey. It's nice that you're offering something at the entry-level, but please have some style and originality here!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Header

Hey folks. You may have noticed the new header. I know you are in awe of my photoshop and html skills. You may bow before my virtual knees.

So, let me know what you think. Specifically let me know how it looks in your browser. I use firefox and it looks fine, C uses IE and it's screwed up. But in IE on my machine it looks ok. Hmmmm? Maybe I'll download Opera and Netscape to see how they handle it too.

Thanks for the input.


Juan Cole Leaving Ann Arbor?

I hadn't realized it, but Juan Cole is apparently being wooed by Yale. It would be a shame for UM to lose him, but I don't really know what his situation in the History department here is like. Maybe it would be better, and presumably he would maintain his incredible blog.

Sadly though, it looks like some wingnuts have opened a smear campaign aimed at preventing the job offer from ever happening. The charge is basically that Cole's criticism of the neoconservative movement is antisemitic. Nasty business.

Growing Pains

More fun stuff from home. A science teacher in Wichita, KS has been asked by a state school board member to take down a picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster hanging on her classroom door. The board member spotted the picture while touring the building and asked the principle to have it removed. In a respectable move, another board member on the tour informed the principle that the board had no jurisdiction over the teacher and the principle should do as he saw fit. He did not ask the teacher to remove the picture and only told her about the request when she asked. The last I heard (i.e. what it says in the article), the picture is still hanging.

This is all very nice, but I actually wonder if the cause of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism would benefit were the teacher forced to remove the picture. The only reason that she could conceivably be compelled to do so would be to comply with guidelines about displaying religious iconography on public property. If this reason were used and upheld by a court, we would have de facto legal recognition of the FSM as a religious figure and FSMism as a religion. Then Bill O'Reilly would be free to rant about the war on the good FSM-fearing people of Kansas like he does about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Ok, I'll admit that I basically stopped reading halfway through since it's way over my head. Anyway, this is totally freakin' cool. NASA seems to be working on a spaceship running on antimatter. Yeah, far out stuff huh? Honestly I'm not even physics-savvy enough to know if this is a hoax article, it sort of has that feel to me, but I think it's real. Maybe someone out there knows enough about this sort of thing to let me know? Bob, I'm looking at you...

Easter Turducken

Now this is genius! I had never thought of applying the Turducken concept to other foods before. Apparently eating Easter turducken at the same meal as a regular turducken would be considered heresy, but I'm willing to put myself on the line.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Burrito Blog

Okay, I know my last couple of posts have been a little bitter and heavy. So in the interests of levity, I present to you a new find - The Burrito Blog. These guys really did their homework and seem quite sensible. They even managed an even appraisal of Taco Bell, which is probably quite difficult. But I do have to disagree with their take on Del Taco. Sure it's mysterious and a bit unfamiliar, but taken in the right context and with the right sense of adventure, Del Taco can be exceptional.

Permanently Liminal?

Liminality isn't a concept I find particularly useful. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fine idea and I can see that it has many good applications for other anthropologists. It just isn't something that has ever really factored into my work. At least not in a way painfully obvious enough that even I had to notice. The upshot is that I don't really have a working knowledge of the concept's intricacies.

My question for you, dear reader, is this - Is there a statute of limitations on liminality? How long can an individual maintain a liminal state? Since the concept was developed in thinking about rites of passage, I would expect that a normal liminal state could last anywhere from minutes to days. But what about years?

I know it's probably a trite usage of the term, but I'm wondering if the graduate school experience qualifies as a liminal state? I suppose this is right up there on the depth-o-meter with all the papers Anth 101 GSIs get examining the liminal nature of some sorority induction event or the communitas experienced in the student section of the Big House. But then I didn't come here to be deep, I came here to rant.

So on with the rant:

This state of quasi-permanent quasi-liminality that passes for graduate school is getting really old. (How's that for a rant?) There is plenty to complain about, but specifically it's really grating that after seven years of professional work and some serious research I still can't be a grown-up. C'mon people! It's hard enough to convince my non-academic family and friends that I'm an adult. Now we're trying to buy a house - talk about hoops. You'd think that the bank here (remember this is college town USA) had never heard of graduate school.
"You do what for a living?" "You really get paid for that?" "Well, who employs you?" "What do you mean you get paid through the payroll department but don't get a W-2?" "What are estimated taxes?" "So where do you work?"

So even though we have (near) perfect credit, have been homeowners in St Louis for five years, and have been getting regular substantial paychecks for the past five years (seven in my case), we are not considered good borrowers because we don't have any real income. Seriously, they calculate our debt to income ration figuring that I make $500/month. I don't make a lot but I make enough that all this runaround shouldn't be a big deal. I can document my paychecks for seven years, but since it comes from a variety of fellowships, grants, and temporary jobs it isn't as "good" as seven bucks an hour for pulling coffee at Starbucks. Does this make sense to you?

I can't really blame the bank, they have their procedures and their own well-fed asses to cover. But this is just one more way being a graduate student kind of sucks. I mean, if you're really fast you can finish your PhD by the time you're 30. Given the usual delay in getting a permanent job, then the several years before tenure, a very diligent social scientist will have some job-security and life-stability some time in their mid-to-late-30s. That's about when most of us, unless lucky or extremely savvy, can start thinking about saving money for retirement and buying a home. For those of us on grants, it's also when our paychecks start paying into social security. And for many graduate students, that's the first time that health-insurance becomes a possibility.

I know that is the life we all signed up for and believe me I didn't get into this to get rich. But I would really like a little damned respect. For gods' sakes we are professionals doing significant research, teaching students, and trying to put together a little life. Is it too much to ask that fellowships and grants be treated like real income? Is it too much to ask that seven years of continuous income be considered "secure?" Can those of you who are not academics but know us as family or friends not treat us like freshmen who are just lolling through college waiting for Spring Break when we'll have, like, all week to just hang out and not worry about stupid school anymore? Can you please realize that we are professionals with major responsibilities and careers, not just some quaint hobby to tell your friends about at cocktail parties?

I know it could be much worse. I know if I'd busted my ass more and slept less I'd probably have gotten done in six and a half years and be unemployed now instead of underemployed. I know I'm whining and have it pretty good in the bigger picture, but that's not what rants are about.

For all those other irritating questions:
No the U won't have a job for me when I'm done with my PhD. No that isn't how it works. No I don't care about dinosaurs or Egypt. No they aren't holding me back until I'm "good enough" to deal with dinosaurs and Egypt. Yes I'll have to take any job I can get. Yes there are only about 10-15 jobs each year that I am qualified for. Yes there are at least 100 or 200 other qualified people applying for each of those jobs. No I don't have any idea which one I'll get, when, or even if I'll ever find work. No I don't plan to make much money in my field. Yes I get paid to do research right now. No I don't think that's putting an unnecessary burden on the American taxpayer. No I don't wish I'd found a useful field to go into. If medicine or nuclear physics are such great damned fields why don't you go get a PhD in one of them.

See, It Isn't Just Kansas

You may have heard that the Creationist/Intelligent Design bunch had set their sights on Michigan in the past couple of years. A strictly you-must-teach-IDiocy-in-the-classroom bill was defeated last year. But the anti-evolution forces continue to adapt under pressure. Apparently the legislature and school board are environments that provide pressure favoring obfuscation. Young earth creationism became creation science, which later became intelligent design in order to create less-sectarian language and mask the movements real goals. Now the buzz-word is critical analysis.

This is really insidious since none of us can rightly take a stand against critical analysis. Heck, it's what most of us out here on The Edge do for a living. Michigan House bill 5251 is part of the "teach the controversy" strategy and it seems to be working. If they claim enough times that there is a controversy within the scientific community and that there is evidence against evolution, then people will start believing it. If they frame legislation in terms of critical analysis and proclaim loudly enough that there is evidence against evolution that deserves to be analyzed critically, then voters will believe that scientists are repressing it.

The notion that there is a body of evidence against evolution really gets my pet goat. As most of you are aware of course, there is extremely little (if any) solid evidence in the natural world that argues against evolution. There are plenty of gaps to be filled in - this is the nature of science and it is why we continue to research. And there are plenty of debates about how evolution happens and how humans evolved, but I don't really think elementary and high school biology classes are ready for the intricacies of MtDNA mutation rates and the Out of Africa-Multiregionalism debate.

I might be underestimating school kids, but it doesn't really matter since this bill isn't about how many major migrations of hominids left Africa, the reliability of the mitochondrial clock, or the nature of speciation. No, this bill is about teaching that there is strong evidence against evolution altogether. If they intend to use evidence from the natural world, this leaves only two options - 1) they can fabricate evidence entirely. 2) they can contort logic and twist the evidence to fit their needs. I doubt that most science teachers would be willing to do either of these and the major anti-science organizations like the Discovery Institute know they are being watched too closely to create false data outright. I suspect that 'educational' materials such as the infamous Wedge Document and the many (rapidly changing) public manifestos of the ID movement will be disseminated to school districts who believe them when they claim to represent a major portion of the scientific community.

Michigan House bill 5251 is working its way through the state assembly right now. This kind of stuff made Kansas a laughing stock and continues to tear down the education system that reared me. Michigan has enough problems without letting these folks make our students less informed. If you have a chance, contact your congress critter and let her or him know how you feel. The bill was drafted by a representative from Macomb Township, if you have any friends there, encourage them to make their voices heard on this issue.

Red State Rabble has a roundup of this bill and plenty of history in their archives.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

So we went to see a couple of movies over the past couple of days. Thank You for Smoking was fun. It looks like a movie about the tobacco lobby and it does a nice job of dealing with that mess without being too preachy. But it's more a movie about lobbying and moral ambiguity. It really isn't too preachy on that point either. Mostly it was funny and I identified with everyone a little bit, even though nobody came out looking good. Probably the best part is that Jonah Goldberg apparently thinks the lead is the kind of sympathetic conservative every-man that has been missing in hollywood. Funny stuff.

Also, went to see Inside Man with the in-laws. That was way better than I expected. Plenty of formulaic downtrodden cops just tryin' to do the best they can in an unfair world, brilliant-yet-misguided criminals with possibly-noble motives, loving-yet-needy cop-fiancees, and a mysterious Jodie Foster for good measure. Despite the predictable bits, the movie was quite clever and interesting. Spike Lee was involved and that really came out in a couple of scenes, but I kind of found those points a little rough compared to the rest of the movie. Also, what's the deal with Bollywood music for opening and closing credits?

Oh yeah, also saw Herbie: Fully Loaded on cable. Really not as bad as it looked, kind of fun but don't go out of your way to see it.

How 'bout you?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Intelligent Delivery

Finally somebody willing to teach the controversey regarding the Easter Bunny. This is really too funny and nicely captures the essence of the teach-the-controversey meme. And as a bonus, it turns out that this blog is run by the daughter of PZ Myers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Hmmm... Does this seem like a big deal to you? I mean, I'm pretty sensitive to political correctness. Being inches from a PhD in anthropology and living in this modern-day Gomorrah that passes for a liberal college town will really do that to you, no? I guess I'm vaguely aware that spaz is not a word for polite company, it isn't a word I find particularly tasteful, and I don't think I'd say it to a reporter on the record. But does spaz have a particular etymology that makes it verboten? Is it meant to refer to a particular group of people or some medical condition specifically? I've never given it much thought and I suppose I could make some guesses, but I always thought it was more of a general term like doofus.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Megabus is Coming and You Can't Stop It

But why would you want to? According to Arbor Update, the Megabus will have cheap non-stop service to Chicago. How cheap you ask - starting at $1.

Holy poo! As I was writing this I just realized that Mark Dilley is responsible for most of the posts at Arbor Update. Mark Freaking Dilly! How cool, I guess I should e-mail him and see what he's up to.

Update: ok, maybe not most of the posts, but a bunch anyway.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What's It To Ya Two-Eyes?!

The more arguments I hear from creationists, the more bizarre their world seems.

This cartoon relates to an (apparently serious) argument that bilateral symmetry disproves evolution. You see, if evolution really happens, each species would begin as a more simple (non-bilaterally symmetrical) type and evolve towards the more fit variety. Thus all of the two-eyed animals we currently know should have cyclopic counterparts in the fossil record. Or so the specious (heh heh) argument goes.

Not strange enough for you? Well, I found this cartoon on the Lost World Museum website. That institution is apparently dedicated to debunking evolutionary theory through a combination of cartoons and a dead kitten.

Check out Pharyngula for all the juicy details.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Well I Never Thought Of Her That Way Before

From the too-strange-to-be-fiction department -

Paris Hilton is apparently at the top of the casting list for a new film about... wait for it... nope still too soon... ok, Mother Theresa. I shit you not, apparently some facial recognition algorithm thinks Paris "whore-off" Hilton looks like Mother Theresa. Maybe it has an ISDN line and surfs !E online when nobody's looking.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Research News

From the most reliable source for research news - Goddamn Findings Fail to Support Researcher's Hypothesis. I've been working on an article for American Antiquity, but maybe I should consider Cock-Sucking Science.

Porn 101

Hey, why not teach human biology using visual aids provided by the seedier corners of the interweb? Awesome idea! (Completely Safe-For-Work)

Found by way of Red State Rabble, go check it out if you're interested in god's country.


Yeah, what Jesus said!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I like to think of myself as well-traveled and at least a little bit worldly. At a minimum I should be familiar with the political geography of Western Europe, n'est-ce pas?

Well, color me humbled!

It turns out that in the North Sea - just off the coast of Sussex, England - there is an entire country that I had never heard of until a couple of weeks ago. The principality of Sealand occupies an abandoned British Navy installation known as Roughs Tower. I'll let you read the full history of Sealand - as told by Wikipedia of course - but here's a brief hi-lite reel:

  • Roughs tower was a WWII HMS Navy base in International waters that fell into disuse after the war
  • Roy Bates, a pirate radio broadcaster with a history of occupying abandoned Naval installations took control of Roughs tower in a physical confrontation with squatters in 1967.
  • In 1968, British government personnel servicing buoys in the area came under fire from the Bates group, leading to the arrest of Roy and his son Michael Bates later in the year.
  • The judge hearing the case ruled that he had no jurisdiction over things happening at Roughs Tower because it is in International waters.
  • The Bates family can now cite this ruling as a de facto recognition of sovereignty.
  • 1978 - Terrorism! A group of Dutch and German rivals raided Sealand while Prime Minister Roy Bates was away. They took Michael Bates as POW and later released him in the Netherlands.
  • Roy mounted a helicopter assault on occupied Sealand and retook the micronation. After visits from German diplomats, Sealand repatriated most of the hostiles, but charged one with Treason.
  • The diplomatic contact and the UK's statements distancing themselves from responsibility in the matter add to the argument for de facto sovereignty.
  • The evicted terrorists established an 'exile government' in Germany and began operation as a rival organization.
  • Since that time, Sealand has operated as a principality claiming the waters within 12 miles of Roughs Tower and apparently using force to enforce their claim on at least one occasion.
  • Sealand has issued stamps, money (pegged to the US dollar), and passports although the passports have been revoked due to the production and use of counterfeits in some high-profile crimes.
  • Sealand continues to operate as an independent entity committed to sovereign, libertarian existence.
  • A web-based company called HavenCo is now based in Sealand and serves as a web-services provider for companies that have a hard time finding other places to host their content.
  • HavenCo has had a and it is not clear to me what its status is currently.
  • Sealand is trying to expand its subject base by offering Dukedoms for sale. Cheap too!
So my question is this - Why isn't there a movie about Sealand yet? It's all there - action, suspense, political intrigue. Just throw in a little love interest for Prince Michael - maybe Scarlett Johansson - get Wes Anderson and Bill Murray involved, add some trendy music, and I think you've got a real winner. I'd pay to see it. Heck, I'd even go see it at the Quality 16 BEFORE it got to the dollar theater.

There's a ton (tonne?) more to write about Sealand, but I'll save it for later. For now the major shortcoming I see is that there isn't a national anthem.

Today's Photo Rorschach


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Curators' Ball Photos

A good time was had by all at the C-Ball last night. I'd estimate that about half of my readership was there, so you know it was quite a bash. As the night went on though, things got a bit out of hand. This photo was taken about 1:30 and pretty acurately shows what was going on.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The High Seas

Just so you all know - By the time I get done with it, that Love Boat's gonna look more like the Lust Boat!