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January 31, 2007

Four Stone Hearth #8

Be sure to head over to Northstate Science for the latest edition of the Four Stone Hearth carnival, the latest in anthropology related blogging. Boas Blog will be hosting on February 14th so stay tuned for submission information.

Posted by Will at 10:36 PM

January 30, 2007

Break out the champagne!

Not only has an archaeology news item made the front page of CNN.com, it's also the most read story as of about 1:30pm. Unless Paris Hilton does something ridiculous in the next few hours, the story should stay up for a while (see screenshot and update below the fold).


Update (about 10 seconds after writing the previous sentences): The gas station explosion in West Virginia has knocked the archaeology story to #2 most popular story. Also notable, as of 1:30pm the top three stories are all real news that matters (some would disagree about the Stonehenge village I suppose), with "Stun guns used on streaker" dropping several slots. This isn't the America I know!

Posted by Will at 01:34 PM

January 28, 2007

Nail on the head


Take the quiz here (via Afarensis).

Posted by Will at 10:40 PM

Pirates and indians, oh my

This is probably the fourth or fifth post I’ve written to let the few people that read this blog know I’m alive (I recently found out a that couple of my grad school colleagues here at USF have discovered my embarrassing little nerd secret…hi Diana and Jamie). I just haven’t had anything worth while to post about. The semester is steaming through at full speed, although I’m not always on the train. This weekend was completely useless as far as work goes. Ever look at your calendar, know you have things that you have to do, yet you don’t do them in your spare time just to get them out of the way? That was me this entire weekend: I got one chapter of Osteology read and the first section of a GIS lab due in a couple of weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that would be like setting out to paint the house and getting a set of shutters done. But hey, I like my shutters perfect.

The Gasparilla pirate festival was this weekend in downtown Tampa. I didn’t go because although I am fond of pirates (and of females in revealing pirate costumes) I didn’t want to deal with the parking, the drunk frat boys, and the even drunker middle-aged men who think drinking Miller Lite from a plastic bottle and donning plastic Marti Gras beads takes years off (just browse the Gasparilla photo album at the St. Pete Times website to see examples of all of the above).

I also spent the bulk of Saturday evening digitizing and organizing my Radiohead discography, perhaps the nerdiest activity I’ve done in months beside write this blog. Nearly 13 hours of music, 200 song files, and over a gig later I discovered that I’m more obsessed with Radiohead than with what brought me to Tampa in the first place (interestingly, someone has actually written a legit doctoral dissertation about Radiohead at the UT-Austin).

I also finally saw Apocalypto this weekend, Mel Gibson’s less than flattering treatment of the ancient Maya civilization. I’m not going to write a review because it’s been analyzed to death elsewhere on archaeology/anthropology blogs, but I will say that I am on the fence about it. On the one hand, I agree with those who say that there are some important inaccuracies that need to be addressed, but I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is an overtly racist portrayal. Traci Arden (U. of Miami) in Archaeology magazine mentions the colonial history that has wreaked havoc on indigenous Maya since the 16th century all the way up to modern times. Andrea Stone of U. of Wisconsin, also writing in Archaeology magazine, addresses the smallest details that do not match with the archaeological record. For example “She [Jaguar Paw’s wife] has loose hair (Maya women put their hair up in neat buns and tresses), an absurdly short, pubic-length tattered skirt (they wore mid-calf skirts and dresses of cotton cloth), stacks of tiny beads conveniently covering her breasts (never seen that before), and tight, woven armbands. Some Maya scholars have criticized Apocalypto by citing such minutia because we don’t have evidence for it. While much liberty was taken with respect to certain aspects of the film, complaining about something as obscure as hair length borders on denying the ancient Maya of variability within their own culture (in other words, I’m sure there was a Maya woman somewhere at sometime who wore her hair long on a regular basis). Overall, it is a good film, beautifully filmed and costumed, with quite a bit of inaccuracies that have been addressed elsewhere. Is it dangerous in the sense of focusing too much on Maya brutality and blood-thirst and emphasizing the “saving” effect of Christian Missionaries? Perhaps. But history is not owned by anyone and Gibson’s is but one interpretation; academic archaeologists do not have a monopoly on what happened in a long-disappeared culture.

Posted by Will at 12:04 PM

January 19, 2007

Why Florida is great in the Winter, Pt. II

Reason #2 why Florida is a good place to live during the Winter months, and not in Scotland:


Yes, that's a cow up to it's neck in snow. Photo from the New York Times.

Posted by Will at 10:16 AM

January 18, 2007

Why Florida is great in the Winter

Reason #1 why Florida is a good place to be during the Winter months, and not in Portland:

Posted by Will at 02:20 PM

January 17, 2007

Four Stone Hearth #7

The seventh installment of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is up at Aardvarchaeology. Check it out for some great reading, as always.

Posted by Will at 11:35 AM

January 12, 2007

Isn't it ironic?

Cheers to the Freethought Weekly blog, who shares my frustration with the absurdity of mainstream news reporting and what the major outlets feature most prominently on their websites. Delta, who provides some amusing screenshots of various news sites, writes:

Anyway, I just downloaded this great extension for Firefox which lets me save screenshots of the web pages I go to. I made some comments on the news websites I visited. As you'll see, the US media is utter bullshit. Al Jazeera, however, was quite impressive. You may want to click on the photo to make it larger and easier to read. Am I the only one who thinks that ongoing, escalating, and upcoming war is something that should be the focus of reporting in a civilized society?

Interestingly, I too recently discovered the usefulness of the Al Jazeera English website. They may have a bad reputation among Americans, but they are literally the only news site I read on a regular basis that consistently features the most important world news stories prominently on the front page. Ironic, huh?

Posted by Will at 05:14 PM

January 11, 2007


Enjoy this photo of one of the two gators that live in the lake behind my apartment here in Tampa. And this guy or gal is the smaller of the two!


Posted by Will at 01:32 PM

January 07, 2007


As I write this the little countdown timer in the right sidebar indicates that I have 343 days until I receive a master’s degree from the University of South Florida, assuming all goes to plan. Having already extended my tenure in Tampa an extra summer and semester, I am determined to graduate with a strong thesis in my hands, a boatload of quality coursework from a good department, and a the satisfaction of knowing that in the long run I made the right decision. I started Nomadic Thoughts about 21 months ago to document this period in my life, and for better or worse I am anxious to close the chapter.

Tomorrow morning is the first day of my second to last semester of graduate school. Cultural Resource Management begins at 9:30am and I already have pages of reading a discussion question to submit before midnight tonight. On Tuesday and Thursday I have Osteology, essentially a class about human bones. Indispensable to many archaeologists, especially those working in Central America, but it's not the most interesting part of archaeology in my humble opinion. Wednesday nights will be spent learning Geographic Information Systems in another department, which will prove to be my most useful class this semester because my thesis is going to use GIS technology.

So I’m not sure how much blogging I’m going to be doing over the next few months because besides classes, I am beginning extensive background research and preliminary write-ups of my thesis. Additionally, this summer's "Honduras Blogging 2007" should prove more interesting than last summer's. Stay tuned...

Posted by Will at 03:18 PM

January 05, 2007

Looting arrests east of Tampa

Good news coming out of a small Florida community:

On Thursday, law enforcement officers arrested five men suspected of "poaching" prehistoric artifacts from this federally protected site just north of Interstate 75 in Thonotosassa, a rural community east of Tampa.
The Thonotosassa artifacts predate the Seminoles, he said, going back to prehistoric times. As such, they're highly sought after by collectors. Still said the arrowheads and tools found at sites like this turn up at flea markets, on eBay, and at tourist gift shops. Some people will work on unfinished tools they find to turn them into half-faked arrowheads, he said.

Full St. Pete Times story here.

Posted by Will at 12:55 PM

January 04, 2007

Four Stone Hearth is up

Be sure to check out No. 6 of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival, up at Bipedal Locomotion. Some interesting reads this time around.

Posted by Will at 05:53 PM