It’s the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine.

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No more revisionist history!

Until now I have been content to let things slide, but enough is enough. Following in the footsteps of thinkers like T. S. Elliot and Monroe Beardsley, I have to declare that George Lucas is absolutely and unambiguously WRONG. Lucas may well have intended to have Greedo shoot first. It would have been idiotic, since it violates Han’s character and it requires a ridiculous suspension of disbelief to have Greedo miss at that range. Nevertheless, he might indeed have intended to show that. However, what Lucas intended to show is utterly irrelevant. What he did show in 1977, unambiguously, was Han shooting first. Not only did Han shoot first, but as a result Greedo didn’t get a shot off at all.



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Filed under Space, Uncategorized

Not the most useful product I’ve ever seen.

Another find at Amazon. This one has to be seen to be believed (go ahead, it’s mostly SFW). I guess this is intended for people who’ve seen way too much fantasy art and want a modern version of the “traditional” chainmail bikini. And it’s not like there are any vital organs this outfit doesn’t adequately protect, right?


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Filed under Weirdness

I haven’t blogged about Gunwalking in a while

That is, the Justice Department’s scheme to allow thousands of guns to go to Mexican drug cartels without any surveillance, allegedly so that they could identify the “big fish.” Only now it turns out that the “big fish” were working for the FBI. According to the story reported in the Arizona Republic, the cartel associates being targeted by BATFE were FBI informants.

In view of this new information, I have to revise my previous assessment. These people make the Underpants Gnomes look like Nobel Prize candidates.

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Some statements are just impossible to disagree with

“Firing bottle rockets out of one’s own anus constitutes an ‘ultra-hazardous’ activity.”

Story here. I guess some people are just desperate to win the coveted Darwin Award. This also reinforces my longstanding belief that the most common words spoken immediately preceeding death are, “hold my beer and watch this!”


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In my old neighborhood

Well, close to my old neighborhood, anyway. The local paper reported on a fascinating excavation going on adjacent to the San Gabriel Mission. This is the kind of thing project that can almost make me wish I hadn’t left California; an early historic and ethnohistoric site that even has a connection with railroad history.

I also noticed in the video that the dirt is being screened under some kind of portable shade. There have been more than a few times when I would have loved to have had that! In fact, if somebody will invent a motorized shade that can follow me when I’m surveying, you’ll be my hero forever.

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Filed under Archaeology

More security theatre on trains

CNN has the story about yet another intrusion by the TSA that will do nothing to make anybody safer. This agency of thugs, thieves, and perverts has long since made it clear that when it comes to civil rights, their view is that you have none. They have also made it clear that they don’t know the first thing about security, as illustrated in the article by the ridiculous screening of passengers getting off a train. (What would they do if somebody refused to allow the search? Make them get back on?)

The idea that spot checking will cause terrorists to cancel their plans is beyond idiotic. In the unlikely event that a TSA team happens to be present at the time and place the terrorists intend to board, they would simply leave and return later, or go to another station. Or they would attack the people waiting in line. This is assuming they ever planned to board the train in the first place, rather than simply plant a bomb somewhere along the 140,000 + miles of railroad track that crosses the country.

The TSA needs to be disbanded yesterday.


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Filed under Politics, Railroad

Things that can not be explained

Surely everybody in the developed world has had some exposure to archaeology. From museums to elementary school science classes to Indiana Jones and Stargate, it seems impossible that anybody could grow up completely unaware of archaeology. So why does it seem that whenever I tell somebody that I’m an archaeologist there’s at least a 50/50 chance they’ll ask me about digging up dinosaurs?


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Social networking in the past

Popular Archaeology has an intriguing article about social networking among the Hadza, a nomadic people living in East Africa whose primary form of subsistence is hunting and gathering. A team led by Coren Apicello found that the Hadza form social networks among themselves very similar to those formed using Facebook and other modern communications tools. The finding suggests that this form of human interaction may be very old.

I have one disagreement with the article, however, and that is that it too quickly assumes that the behavior of modern hunter-gatherer peoples is necessarily the same as that of peoples living thousands of years ago. This is not a valid assumption. It is widely recognized in archaeology that ancient cultures often differ in significant ways from those visited by anthropologists. This study of social networks therefore can only suggest how people might have interacted in the past, not definitely show that they behaved that way. Regardless of this, though, it is still a very interesting finding that should prompt further research.


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Filed under Anthropology

Again with the train porn

Over the Christmas holiday we traveled up Highway 395 into Oregon and then west to Portland. Along the way we stopped in Lakeview long enough for me to get a few shots of the Lake Railway, a short line running from Lakeview to Perez, CA where it interchanges with the Union Pacific.

This is the engine house in Lakeview. In the distance you can see the railroad’s one and only locomotive.


Here is a closer shot of the engine house, taken from the other direction.


A closer shot of the locomotive, an EMD GP49 formerly owned by Alaska Railroad.

And finally, one more picture of the locomotive. I was told by someone working at the agricultural inspection station just inside the California border (which is adjacent to the track) that the locomotive has broken down and the railroad is using a modified tractor-trailer as power instead. I would have loved to get a picture of that running down the track, but unfortunately we didn’t happen to see it.


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Filed under Railroad