Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Little Consistency, Please

Richard Lamb from the Southern Baptists was interviewed on NPR as a leading voice for Evangelical Christians. When the journalist stated that polls show many evangelicals are now concerned with issues of poverty and justice, he made the following argument (I paraphrase): this may be true, but to ask Christians to be quiet about the sanctity of marriage and life is paramount to telling Martin Luther King that he should have been quiet about equal rights for African Americans.

Where do these people come from??! Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the sanctity of marriage is, as he stated, a command from God to be between a man and a woman -- would not his efforts be far more fruitfully applied to working on the foundations of marriage and the 50+% divorce rate, than dictating who can get married in the first place?? I have to say, as a divorced woman - no gay or lesbian came between either of us...

As to right to life - if it is indeed is so very sacred, why do the Southern Baptists (whom he represents) support the death penalty and the war? Apparently such a stance only counts for a small clump of dividing cells.

Needless to say, this was not the program I should have been listening to in the morning, especially after a poor night of sleep (am reading a good book, couldn't put it down). It wasn't helped by the 10am press conference by "our" President, who invariably speaks to the nation as though WE were the dumb ones...

Keith Olbermann does a nice job of summarizing the Press conference here: Olbermann Compares George Bush to Beavis and Butthead

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Last night there was a REALLY good segment on Primetime's series "What Would You Do?" It came on while I was grading and drew me in completely. The segment is on Islamophobia, and it is quite disturbing.

Sadly, they don't show the whole segment on the ABC website. Shame on them! If I'm missing something and owe ABC an apology, let me know. And/or, if you find a link somewhere, I'll be happy to post it.

Here's the website that gives you some information on the program:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Forensics (again!)

So, for the latest installment of 'This Day in Forensic Anthropology" -- a student writes to me late yesterday afternoon (4 days after the fact) to explain that he missed the exam last Thursday because he was in an accident. He tried to reach me by email, but I "mustn't have gotten the message." Arggh. I might mention that he's also missed all of the quizzes and in-class assignments thus far this semester. Arrrgh. This one the Dean's office gets - maybe pulling the 'big guns' will get thru to them.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Random Bytes

The Bite-Marks Men: Mississippi's criminal forensics disaster.
By Radley Balko, Feb. 20, 2008

Honey Bees Give Clues on Virus Spread

Carl Zimmer, Feb 22, 2008

Birds Do It. Bees Do It. Dragons Don’t Need To.
NY, February 24, 2008

Excavations In Iran Unravel Mystery Of 'Red Snake'
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2008)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Catholic Character

Notre Dame currently finds itself embroiled in a nasty "Conversation on the Catholic Character" (what used to be call the KKK when I first got here) led largely by some donors who think ND should reflect the principles of Catholicism when they were students (I'm guessing we pesky womenfolk should be ousted too if the truth be told ;-)

At a party the other night, one of my colleagues Rahul, mentioned an old article by Umberto Eco that used Macs and PCs as parallels to religious leanings. If this is true, then we may have found a way to up the number of 'Catholics' at Notre Dame (myself included)...
...Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the 'ratio studiorum' of the Jesuits. It is
cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach--if not the Kingdom of Heaven-- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system
work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in
accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow women and gays to be priests if you want to...

And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic...

The above excerpts are from an English translation of Umberto Eco's back-page column, "La bustina di Minerva," in the Italian news weekly "Espresso," September 30, 1994.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Night at the Opera

Well...symphony actually, but I couldn't think of a movie title for that event. Went with Barb (my next door neighbor and my doctor). Found a new restaurant (for me anyway) with pretty tasty Italian food, then to the Morris Performing Arts Center. This 'getting out more' stuff is kinda fun...gotta do it more often ;-)

And, it let me use my skeleton conductor action figure, so winners all around ;-)


Nice evening at Jim McKenna's house. Stephen and I went to celebrate a friend's completion of his Ph.D. Most of the department was in attendance, it was a nice chance for Stephen to see how much the department has changed since the days when he and Hillary were here.

We then ventured over to the Toyo Grill, where I had some of the best Tempura ever! Came home, chatted for some time, and then I took him over to the Amtrak station to head on back to Canada.

Quite the dump I have to admit, and listening to the explanation of the long layovers, perpetually late trains, etc. it struck home that we are a 3rd world country when it comes to our train network. Really quite amazing when compared to the ease of travel throughout Europe thanks to the rail system.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Student Update

Remember our friend from a few days ago who was going to see my "supervisor"? Well, yesterday I gave my midterms. As he turned in his exam, he said in a rather disgusted fashion -- "that was REALLY mean to do to people!" I looked down at his exam and he'd circled all "F" in the T/F section. Since apparently there's no doubt in his mind that he might have gotten something wrong (a concept I thought Catholics reserved only for the Pope...) that made me the bad guy/gal. I just smiled while thinking to myself "yes indeed, that would've been mean, if I had in fact done so." It might have been followed by " little snot" in my head, but I won't swear to it ;-)

Thai One On

Michael, Doug and I took Stephen S. to dinner at Siam Thai, after beginning the evening with a scotch sampling party. My collection has grown thanks to the kindness (and good taste) of friends, we had quite a few to choose from for this little pre-Siam taste-fest (and yes, that's a rice skull to the left).

Visiting with Stephen is always bitter-sweet -- so utterly enjoyable that an evening passes far too quickly, while a reminder of how much we miss on a day-to-day basis with he and Hillary no longer at Notre Dame.

As you can see from the pictures below, Doug assumed the role of cat-whisperer for the evening, and Stephen and Michael clearly coordinated their wardrobe beforehand (feigning surprise at their mutual fashion sense, but we saw right thru it).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Worth a Watch

Tonight they had a replay of the Colbert Report, with his 1st installment of "Better Know a Lobbyest". It is one of his funniest "Better Know" segments, due in large part to Joe Solmonese, the head of a gay lobby, who took "time away from destroying the sanctity of marriage" for the interview.

Colbert Report ‘Better Know A Lobbyest’


‘Better Know A Lobbyest’ part 2

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Visitor from the Great White North

Stephen S. is back in town...I think because it's marginally warmer than Toronoto ;-) I turned the corner late this afternoon and ran into a very friendly face. I haven't been home for a meal for about 1.5 weeks, and it looks like three more days - but this time for fun! He'll be staying at the house starting tomorrow, so there will be some serious housecleaning on the schedule this evening ;-)

Great to see him. An unexpected pleasure!

Growth Opportunity

I'm having new teaching experience this semester, one of my classes is being offered as a general social science elective, so I have a lot of non-anthro majors for the first time. In truth, that's a pretty good run - 14.5 years of being spoiled.

However, my class of mostly Business majors is definite 'payback.' Many definitely suffer from what George Carlin calls the result of "child worship" -- everyone's great, everyone gets a trophy, there are no losers. A sense of entitlement that would make Egyptian pharohs blush.

Today I had a fun exchange -- I have on the syllabus and have announced that "in-class assignments" are just that, and unless they have an excused absence, they can't make it up. That apparently doesn't apply one of my kids, who asked after class when he can make up a quiz he missed while on a job interview. I again explained he couldn't, at which point he told me that the only time available for job interviews is from 1:45 to 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I honestly thought I looked over 40, but apparently I appear to have been born yesterday to this gentleman.

Rather than mention a "turnip truck" fall or something comparably wise-ass, I simply explained that if true, then my course might not be conducive to his schedule. He ended the exchange by asking "what's the name of the Anthropology department chair??"

It took every ounce of self control not to break out laughing. I managed to tell him the name without smiling, and hope against hope that he indeed goes to see Mark. Mark will "hurt" him. Badly. I considered explaining the organizational structure of a university and the concept of tenure to the lad...but decided he could learn all about it on his own.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Been out to dinner or lunch every day for the past week plus. Rubber chicken meals (or I guess in reality - endless pasta) are getting a little old. Lots of job candidates and tonight a dinner with freshman. Actually quite fun, an old friend from Engineering and a new friend from Physics were also at the same table, and we had some dynamic students. I worked on getting all of them to declare themselves Anthro majors - worked on two at least ;-) Surprisingly...none opted for physics.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Disney Greetings ??

My Dad left a message today saying "the cheapest Disney souvenir we could find for you is $ just wire me the money and I'll be happy to buy it for you."

So unloved!

(Actually I chuckled out loud, but shhhhhh, don't tell him).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Random Bytes

Warming risks Antarctic sea life
By Helen Briggs, 15 February 2008,

Pristine Continent, Messy Problem: Garbage In Antarctica Doesn't Decompose - It Freezes - And It's Adding Up,, Feb. 13, 2008

The Greatest Wine on the Planet
By Mike Steinberger; Feb. 13, 2008,

Smaller Version of the Solar System Is Discovered
By DENNIS OVERBYE, February 15, 2008,

5200 B.C. Is New Date for Farms in Egypt
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD; February 12, 2008

Sheep In Human Clothing: Scientists Reveal Our Flock Mentality
ScienceDaily; Feb. 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

No Mickey for Me

My brother-in-law has a conference in California near Disneyland so the whole family is going. Including my parents who I think are along as built-in kid-trackers for the amusement park excursions. Meanwhile, here I sit in snowy old South Bland, writing my blog and feeling forgotten and unloved cuz nobody leaves any comments. Sniff. Woe is me. Sniff. (is this working??)

Okay, so if it did work and you left a comment, here's a little thank you treat. It is a clip from the Colbert Show about alternative careers ("Fallback Position") should his job be outsourced because of the recession. It's pretty funny, I might steal his concluding lecture for my Evolution classes...

Stephen Colbert Astrophysicist!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

O'Brien/Colbert/Stewart Battle Over Huckabee

Last night I found a website that has all the clips of the Conan/Colbert/Stewart battle over who's responsible for Mike Huckabee's success. While it's a shame they're giving him free press on 3 popular shows, there's no getting around the fact that this was a hilarious bit. The link below has all of the episodes in order of appearance, which adds to the fun.

Stewart, Colbert, O’Brien Feud spans three shows in one night

And the fact that I actually have a Conan skeleton action figure, you gotta admit...pretty slick, no??

Happy Valentine's Day

Doug/Michael cleared my driveway of the snow & ice, and my father sent me a bouquet of my favorite flowers. Almost like a real Valentine's day....if you ignore the fact that they are unavailable men and/or relatives.

So....hrrumph and bah humbug ;-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Hilarious bit on "The Daily Show" tonight by Larry Wilmore (the Senior Black Analyst), who stated that Obama's 8 consecutive wins of late are because it's February....Black History Month.

He pointed to Obama's win in Maine as a clear "token" victory, because "they consider Lutheran's people of color!"

Powerpointed Out

I spent the whole bloody day making up one lecture for Forensic Anthropology. All day!! And I'm not done.

Teaching a new class - me no likey. I think Jaime should come back and do it. Gets my vote!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me !!

Or more appropriately, to "Life of Wiley." I've hit the 6 month mark, with 255 skeleton action figures used, no repeats. According to the ClusterMaps tally, the site has received 5,553 hits (the skull counter was added about 4.5 months after the site went on line so is much lower).

I hope to keep going for the rest of the year, so if you find cool skeleton/skull illustrations, please send 'em along!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Little Adventure

I was driving to the airport to pick up a job candidate, and as I sat at a stop sign I was hit from behind. Not particularly hard, but enough to be jarring and to hear an unpleasant crunching sound. I got out of my car (surprisingly un-mad) as did the woman behind me -- she was soooooo apologetic, and I think, really scared. As we each got out of our respective vehicles, we both almost fell on our arses, it was so slick.

My bumper did indeed get dinged, but her car was without damage. So much for the macho Jeep image. She pulled out all of her paperwork, and as I was walking back to my car I thought - it's just a bumper, I'm not going to bother to get it fixed, so why hassle her. In truth, it could've been so much worse if she had been speeding, if I had been pushed out into oncoming traffic, etc.

So I said to forget about it, and she jumped out of the car and hugged me. I think there might have been a few "praise Jesus-es" as I walked back to my car, but I'm not sure ;-)

Random Bytes

Symptoms: Metabolic Syndrome Is Tied to Diet Soda
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR; February 5, 2008

Fully Robotic Observatory Set Up In Antarctica
ScienceDaily; Feb. 7, 2008

The Romans carried out cataract ops
By Jane Elliott, 2/9/08

Report: Peace Corps members asked to spy NewsDaily; Feb. 8 (UPI)

Dusty Clues: Study suggests no dearth of Earths
Ron Cowen; Feb 2, 2008
ScienceNews Online

Lice from mummies provide clues to ancient migrations

By John Noble Wilford; Feb 6, 2008;

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mac Cultdom

I recently saw a student with a new Mac Air computer and I have to say, I was smitten. It is totally illogical, no CD/DVD drive, no firewire, one USB, no ethernet hub, and you can't replace the battery on a long flight, etc. Really quite impractical most of the time. But it looked SOOOOOO good. And was light as a feather. And did I mention, it looked SOOOOO good.

I'm still lusting after the iPhone, am waiting out my Verizon contract (and the next generation phone) to buy one. Oh, and still trying to figure out some scam that'll let me buy it with my grant money. Thus far? Nothin'.

Then again, if there wasn't a Mac product out there to wish for, really, what meaning would life have ;-) Gotta keep up my cult membership.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cat TV

Earlier this evening I had the movie "Eight Below" on the tube while I was working and Lemur was laying on my lap. When the dogs started barking in one scene, he raised his head, moved around so he could see the screen, and I swear he was watching the TV. For awhile. Ears going back when they barked alot, head moving back and forth quickly when they were running. I watched him for quite some time, and I'm pretty convinced he could see the images on the screen.

Maybe I need to get him one of those kittie videos. It was really cute to observe.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bye Bye Mitt

NOW what will Ann Coulter and Rush Linbaugh do??? Oh the humanity!!

I finally came to a conclusion yesterday as to who I'd like to see win. My vote will go to the Democratic candidate for sure, but my hope is -- that candidate is Obama. I've heard the arguments against this choice: a) he can't win because the nation is still too prejudice, b) he doesn't have the experience, c) he's too young, etc.

Yet I can't help but wonder -- what exactly is it at the moment that people think is so good? We're close to hitting $500,000,000,000 for a war we had no reason to begin in the first place - something Obama realized (and had the chutzpah to say back when it was quiet unpopular to do so). Almost 4,000 American soldiers are dead and over 1 million Iraqis. That doesn't begin to address the iceberg that is: the number injured. We've a non-existent environmental policy. The President thinks God speaks to him. Our science policy is frighteningly anti-science. And so on.

Maybe it is time for something potentially quite different. If the argument is that Bush had 'experience' - then the experience argument is mute. If the choice is between a woman, a black man, and a 'liberal' Republican - the race issue may not hold the amount of water some claim. He's too young -- but young can mean fresh, energetic, innovative (as my students show me daily). I would love to see a woman as president, but have been repeatedly disappointed by Hillary's chameleon-esque policies ever since she ran for office in New York.

So, put me down for Obama '08 !! And whether you agree or gotta admit the Ann Coulter skeleton above is pretty funny, no??

Bones Rule (again)!

We're front and center again today on the ND Webpage. Nice timing, since Matt is currently flying off to Annapolis for his Gates Foundation interview. Wouldn't it be coincidental if his computer came on mid-conference and this was projected inadvertently. "Blimey! How did that happen??" (figure he should use the right lingo since it's a Cambridge University thing....;-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Laser-Firing Physicists Take High-Speed Photography to the Attosecond Range
By Paul O'Donnell; 01.18.08

This is REALLY cool. Imagine what the penguin-pooping or whale breaching pictures would've been like with THIS camera??!! Boggles the mind ;-)

Recycled Entries

Given yesterday's Super Tuesday results, I decided to re-post two Mike Huckabee-related entries --

From January 7th --

While I doubt this really applies to anyone reading my blog -- for those who might be considering a vote for Huckabee, here's an example of his ethical grounding. In 1992, while running for the Senate, he said the following:
If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.

It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

Mind you, the mechanisms of AIDS transmission were well understood by the mid-80s. To add insult to injury, speaking on Fox News on Dec 30, 2007 (yes, a week ago), he refused to 'recant' this comment. I think you can see from today's skeleton action figure what I think of this comment...

From January 8th --

Evolution Not 'Just a Theory', and Yes, Huckabee It Does Matter

By Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides; Jan 08, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wooo Hoooo!!

Yeah Bab edh-Dhra!! Yeah Matt!! Check out the ND website today. A built in skull, don't even have to search my stacks today ;-)