I have long entertained the hypothesis that humans first abandoned hunting-gathering for sedentaryism because of property. Simply put, if you wander about, even in a punctuated fashion with a period of a month or so, you can’t accumulate lots of gear (as Burns would call it.) And a lot of what you do have to carry about is food and food processing stuff.

The situation was that the technology was steadily improving and diversifying. The rate of this was not as fast as today, but it was fast enough, I suspect, to cause a certain degree of tension between the stuff that the technology would permit be made and what could be carried about. And no, I’m not talking about large appliances, just the number of things. If everything is made or stone or wood or other vegetation, then there are strong limits of human strength and carrying capacity.

So the hypothesis is that as the technology improved, so did the capacity to gather and hunt foods and at some point this, probably in combination with gratuitous geography and climate, made it possible for humans to become sedentary and amass property.

There is a growing body of data that may support this hypothesis and a datum was added recently according to this article. [Link] Seems that some U California researchers have uncovered a semi-permanent settlement dating back 20 KY in contemporary Jordan. They offer that this settlement was occupied for about half of the year over a period of about a KY. That’s longer than we have been in any city in Nawth Alerika, including St. Augustine or Mesilla.

More evidence that consumerism is part of the human programming. Why? Does it go with intelligence and tool making? Why make tools if you have to leave them behind? Makes for nice cogitation on the nature or evolution and/or creation.


Irrelevant Association

I ran across this cartoon [Link] this morning:

and it put me to thinking about David Dejarnette the Elder.

Fondly called ‘Old Mr. Dejarnette’ to distinguish him from his son, both were archaeologists in the Department at the campus of the Black Warrior, I had him as lecture for a course in New World Archaeology as part of the anthropology track that was part of the course-of-study for my undergraduate degree. Old Mr. Dejarnette was a member of the faculty and curator of Moundville. I was pleased to observe last year when FD SCP and I wnt by there to see the Duck Bowl that the archaeology lab is named for him. Somehow it seems fitting the museum is named for Doug Jones and the lab for him.

He also took off every summer and went down to the Yucatan to dig, taking a host of students along to do the earth moving and such. Camp life was pretty primitive even for those days. Sort of like going to boy scout camp but without the amenities of open wall structures and the activities entailed real work. Trips to the latrine, literally a trench in the jungle, was done in pairs, one person to do their business and another to operate the rifle.

Cooking was one of the few luxuries. It was performed by a local fellow whose summer job was to do just that. The menu mainly consisted of fried eggs, broiled goat meat, boiled coffee, and banana pudding. If asked why the banana pudding, the cook would grin as best he could with absence of front teeth and announce in proud but broken English “Mr. Dejarnette like banana pudding.”

The other luxury was to go into ‘town’ on Saturday night  for a bath and Sunday morning services.

The task set me, not succumbing to the pleas to ass archaeology as a major, was to work on figuring out how to date the extension of some local limestone caves by burning fires in them. I was highly motivated to do this, having to carry all of my instruments and chemicals on my person. I figured out an approach but the sensitivity of the measurement was such that it was finally done only a couple of years ago.

That’s why I became a theoretician. No carrying instruments and stuff, and you don’t have to worry about sensitivity as much. Instruments or people.

And the pyramids didn’t have escalators, then or now.

, , , ,

Bottoming Out

We come to the dragging derrière of the week, sundae. The night was full of storms and the portent of whirlwinds but somehow castellum SCP survived once more. The new portent is of a wasteland of a day stretching before me replete with lack of will and absence of distraction. What no one bothered to tell me about becoming a senior was that your concentration went too.

So once more I turn to cleaning up the tabs that have sunk to the bottom of the queue unremarked and see one last time if they are remarkable. The task seems easier on sundae, as if the absence of intensity permits some communing that is desperate and grasping.

The first thing I note is more evidence of the earlier settling of the Americas. [Link][Link] A settlement of pre-Clovis humans has been found near Austin in the former Republic of Texas by researchers from Texas A&M U.. Or I should say, the remains of a settlement. This site dates back 15 KYA which puts it about 2KY prior to Clovis. As scientists do, there will be many discussions and arguments among archaeologists for years to come over whether the site is pre-Clovis or early Clovis.

The first question is why are there archaeologists at an ‘ag and mech’ (agriculture and mechanics) shul? Is archaeology a new trade? (“Yeah, dude, I got a minor in HIVAC and a major in southwestern archaeology!“) The second question has to do with how this fits into the data about when homo sapiens actually colonized the Americas and how did they get here? The sea rote is looking increasingly more attractive as the entry date moves back putting more years before the opening of the gap between the Cordillerian and Laurentide ice sheets about 12 KYA. Of course that dating of the gap may be off too, since there wasn’t anyone to observe and document it there.

I am not knowledgeable of knapwork (projectile points, choppers, hand axes, ……) but these really do look less developed than a lot of Clovis knapwork I have seen.

Next, the Russians who got the Nobel for graphene can sober up. Seems that the silicon analog has been discovered and offers yet more potential for purposeless consumer electronics. [Link] The strongest comment that bubbles up first is ‘ain’t surprised’. Unlike the way science journalism implies these days, most physics and chemistry nerds do actually study the periodic table and learn of its quantum mechanics. This is not the expectoration from the vacuum of creativity that public affairs bogs portray. We all, the nerds at least who paid attention starting in high shul to the chemistry lectures know the silicon lies immediately under carbon in the periodic table and hence has similar outer shell electronic (read chemical, read quantum mechanical) behavior. If anything we would expect the two-dimensionality to be more pronounced in silicene since the pair of l = 1 (angular momentum quantum number = 1, which indicates a “p” for principal spatial distribution of charge probability) is less tightly bound due to the inner shell shielding.

But I have to admit I ain’t taken with the name. After all, Silicene alludes over into ‘Silly Scene’ all too easily and offers all those jocks taking remedial freshman chemistry a butt to whack.

Finally, another piece of indication that the human sense of smell is quantum mechanical in operation. [Link] The noteworthy thing about this article was the poor literature review; the vibrational mode theory of smell was around back when I was a graduate student, which was a LONG time before 1996. But then, we expect that sort of behavior from the folks at the shuls on the Charles. They have a long history of declaring themselves first and ignoring all those who came before. Its how you get big bucks from rich bogs.

, , ,

Tuesday Findings

Tuesday is usually a good day at gym. The educationalists are predominantly MWF habituates and the science podcasts are generally less whacked than the average. Well, the former held accurate but not the latter. Of the six I have to choose from, all but one were repetitious. With the exception of the Guardian’s podcast, the rest were saying the same things about the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear incident in Nippon and some of them were even interviewing the same experts. The only bright part was that the number of interviews of journalists by journalists was small, which leads me to wonder if the folks who do podcasts are smart enough to know journalists are not experts or canny enough to know that the people who listen to science podcasts pretty well know journalists are not experts.

Sadly, there wasn’t much more to divert my attention since the audio-video electromagnetic receiver news purveyors were all blathering on the matter of the incursion in Libya disguised as a humanitarian gesture. The liberal social engineering purveyors were criticizing the chief executive for being slow and not doing enough while the capitalist facade purveyors were criticizing the chief executive for starting another war without the blessing of congress critters. At least there was some entertainment value in the interference between aristocrats and oligarchs.

On the tab front, there are all sorts of pieces that capture the attention span. Perhaps news does bloom in the spring? First, and this is evidently somewhat dated, I read in Popular Science [Link] that there is a new theory that fabled Atlantis is located in Spain. One of my colleagues, Mass Angular Momentum, was explaining to me about his recent vacation to an apparently sybaritic resort by that name (Atlantis, not Spain – not clear if the land of the Inquisition can be or has to be sybaritic?) and now I have to wonder whether Plato has finally been proven out or is this another instance of advertising trumping accuracy?

Next, a team of astronomers at the Copernicus Observatory (appropriately, somehow) have observed two stars coalescing. [Link] This is exciting because ever since astronomy emerged from star gazing and mumbo jumbo (the other “A” word) and stars were recognized as suns the question has been posited of what happens when they collide. (Physicists are big on collisions, often called scattering but have to be somewhat circumspect about the interest inasmuch as collisions attract lawyers and other undesirables, at least from the standpoint of actually studying collisions.) Anyway, now we have pictures. (Physicists tend to be very visual people, like engineers, the state of communicating/talking can be confirmed by observing the movement of hands and arms.)

And lastly, it seems that Noah has been beaten down from an unexpected direction. In recent years data has been increasing that the so-called ‘Noah flood’ was the breaching of the Black Sea area by the Mediterranean. Now it appears that the process is repetitive. [Link] Based on analysis of geological formations in caves, it appears that this has occurred twelve times in the last two-thirds MY. So Noah may have survived a flood but its uniqueness is busted. Besides, putting the whole story in the Judeo-Christian bible was plagiarism anyway.

, , , ,

Gone but Remembered

It has been a quite righteous week, largely unblogged. On Thursday FD SCP and I motored to Oakville so I could see and walk the Oakville and Copena mounds, and then on to Hartselle so I could walk around behind her while she galloped (?) the antique stores. The latter incidentally is much the more physically demanding because it tends to be of a different timing than my own motion. Anyway, blot forthcoming when I can.

I received word yesterday of two demises, the muchly beloved Nell Spegle who was the whirlwind behind Nell’s Cleaners, which is not only the better clothes cleaning establishment in Greater Metropolitan Arab but the center of Arab for intelligence (in both senses of the word) passed after a mishap with faulty internal plumbing, and the Brindlee Mountain Computer Club, which was most noted for its absence of either. I discovered the first of these belatedly via the web site of the Arab Tribune, and the second was communicated to me by my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force. He described the demise as due to ‘ossification of the intellect’ on the part of the organization’s board of governance, an apparent case of gotterdamerung. Many of us will miss Nell, fewer will miss the BMCC, but at least it can be replaced with some less suicidal leadership.

While we’re on this thread, researchers from U Oregon have unearth a coastal settlement with pre-Clovis artifacts in California dating back ~ 12 KYA.[Link] This could be some of the folks who came across from Asia by paddling along the Bearing land bridge? Anyway, very good looking knapping.

Speaking of good knapping, I ran across a rather lame piece in Scientific American (yes, Qadgop, that is redundant and the lameness was undoubtedly due to the editing rather than the composition) about blog credibility. [Link] The credentials of the researchers wasn’t described, which may be in keeping with the tenor of the article, but is exasperating regardless and is part of why the article is lame.[1] The conclusion of the research was:

having a full set of biographical information, or having nothing but a nickname (of the blogger) made absolutely no difference on how credible the (subjects) thought the blogger was.”

Personally, I tend to give greater credence to anonymous/pseudonymous bloggers because they seem likely to be hiding their identities from the punishments of real enemies. But it is still a bit daunting that a blogger can write the most outrageous opinionated things and be about as credible as if it is something they have real knowledge of.

Next, the NASA folks have figured out that all we need to do to ameliorate global climate change (warming) is to have a ‘small’ (~ 1.5 MT) nuclear war every few years. [Link] Much as it strains good sense and the responsibility of blogging, this is one of the better approaches I have heard. And when we run out of oil in a few years, we have several good places to stage these wars since there will not be much of value remaining in those places. And once the oil money goes away, most of the people living there will have to look elsewhere for employment anyway.

That’s enough. This is getting entirely too weird and believable. Is reading your own blog the equivalent of drinking you own urine? Is this why the yellow Kool Aid is the least seller? Does it tell us something about (modern) Republican denial and why Amerika is in a lemming rush to mediocrity and decomposition?

Enjoy the day. Tomorrow will be worse.

[1]  On this tack, the Wall Street Journal is the greatest of the lame since they manage to call everyone, including women, ‘Mr.’ instead of their actual form of address. They may consider it profession and impartial, I prefer the incompetent designation. 

, , , ,

Speech before Saturday

Now officially on the downhill slope to weekend, with all the angst and agony that portends. I am not a summer person, but then, I am not much of a winter person either, except maybe here in Nawth Alibam and ignoring obsessing over whether the pipes are going to freeze – again. Been there, done that, in some ways worse than heart attack.

That means cleaning up what is in the browser tabs a bit this morning so that after FD SCP drags me around Greater Metropolitan Arab executing errands (extinguishing errands?) I can clear out what has amassed in the RSS feed accumulator over the last few days. After all, I am not British Petroleum and I hardly want the well head that is the accumulator to burst and spew toxic RSS feed articles all over the state.

On which note I was contemplating that Utah still has legal execution by firing squad. Then I decided that was entirely too rapid for such things. But then organ harvesting without benefit of anesthesia is too slow. Not that the Yankee government is going to get its act together and discipline any corporate oligarchs, even with a democrat social engineering administration.

On a more positive note, the renovation of the Moundville museum is complete. [Link] At least until they commence another iteration. I understand by some means of rookery the ‘duck bowl’ has been wrestled away from the Smithsonian? Anyway, a visit is not on my agenda. Say what we may about the absurdity of the machinations of academia, like officializing common knowledge, and enslaving themselves entirely too much to meaningless athletics just for the sake of obtaining adequate cash flow to pay for way too many administrative types, but occasionally they do something actually beneficial to the continuation of the species. I look forward to visiting the site, adding to my knowledge, and honoring the spirits of Dejarnette and Jones.

Next, we discover [Link] that those who perceive they are closer to the deity know fewer words.

and that by denomination christians know fewer words than jews. So if absence of vocabulary is evidence of being the select of the deity, all the evangelical protestants can take heart in learning that catholics are more select than they. I am still trying to figure out the connection between godliness and wordiness? But then I still haven’t gotten the one connection godliness and cleanliness.

I shall refrain from any comments about grunting and ground trailing knuckles. After all, that would be bringing evolution into the discussion and such is anathema to?

On a similar azimuth, the progenitors of HAL are peddling software to help bloggers find things to blog about. [Link] And here I thought the ideas came out of people’s heads? Or is this one of those things where corporations have adopted whacked consultant advice to implement blogging in the organization as a fix for the ills of society and stupid management fads like Knowledge Management? (We may only hope that the anti-survival inanity known as Six Sigma is next on the extinction list.) Then I can see why serf-bloggers have creativity problems. After all, slave artists don’t do very well. Or perhaps it’s because they view the corporation as deity and have scant need for words?