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Archive for January, 2010

Sketch 2

 

Interesting Face

 

This is a sketch based on this image.

I’ll get a scanner someyear.

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Unknowing Host

 First off, this is mostly recycled from some writing I did over winter break. I’m posting this because I’ve been getting more interested in psychology related stuff the past couple weeks. So, do you have time to watch a 20 minute video (or read a transcript)?

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/sapolsky09/sapolsky09_index.html

This is an interview Robert Sapolsky did on recent research on the clever parasite, Toxoplasmosis gondii.
I’ve read some things about how parasites can change a host’s behavior in order to jump to other species, but listening to how its actually done in this case is spooky, and a bit cool. 
If the link between Toxo and car crashes is legitimate, are cat owners more likely to engage in risky behavior than dog owners who might not be exposed to this parasite? Ok, that would be just about impossible to demonstrate since you don’t necessarily need to own a cat to become a host and this can be a very indirect thing, but its fun to think about. 
Also, I love how it takes seven minutes of craziness for him to get to the “utterly bizarre” stuff.

P.S. When I was reading over the previous paragraph, I wondered if James Dean owned a cat. Thanks to the cat files I know the answer.

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Coco

I generally don’t pay much attention to what goes on on the tube. As far as I can tell, that show “jersey shore” I’ve heard about is some sort of soap opera about human growth hormone abuse and punching women. However,  I do try to catch Conan on the tonight show every once in a while. I thought this video pretty well represents the ridiculous situation he’s is in right now. 


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Sketch 1

My computer has about 11 minutes of battery life left!
No time to type!
drew a skull, used photo booth as a scanner, hp u lke it
gtg

December 21. 2009.

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Dun Dun Dunnnn

You may have heard of Jared Diamond. He wrote the pulitzer prize winning book “Guns, Germs and Steel”. More recently he published “Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed”, which focuses on instances of societal collapse which he often attributes to changes in the environment.

I bought the book before my first year in college and didn’t get much of it read by the time classes started. I did, however, get through one section of this book which was dedicated to his most extreme example of society failure, Rapa Nui (Easter island). Diamond used a few different pieces of evidence to show that people destroyed their already unstable ecosystem. For example, Constructing Moai and their platforms, he says, would have required immense amounts of timber and Sediment cores taken from Rapa Nui show that palm forests that once thrived here were decimated some time after the island was settled. Long story short, Diamond attributes the extinction of palm tree forests and numerous birds to a local population which aggressively used up its resources.

The picture he draws of the consequences are stark. He leaves readers with the feeling that Easter island would have been a horrible place to live after this, and that the folks who lived on the island had nobody to blame but themselves. In a particularly heart rending paragraph, Diamond writes: “I have often asked myself ‘What did the easter islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?’ Like modern loggers, did he shout ‘jobs, not trees!’?”

It is a horrifying thought. Nobody would like to think that someone could bring themselves to do this. How could you do such a thing? This is the ultimate example of a resource hungry humanity, unable to see past the desire for just a bit more, and willing to condemn its descendants. I glanced at the back of my copy of the book and saw that this example resonated with a reviewer at Time magazine: “With Diamond’s help, maybe we’ll learn to see our problems a little more clearly before we chop down that last palm tree”.

Not everyone has been swept off their feet by the ideas that Diamond writes about.Two archaeologists, Professors Terry Hunt from the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo from California State University published an article in response to Diamond. They attribute the decimation of palm trees on Rapa Nui, not to its human inhabitants, but in large part to the rats they introduced! They draw the Ewa plain on the south western extreme of the island of Oahu in Hawaii as a parallel example of what they say happened on Rapa Nui. Upon being introduced, rats could destroy a forest in a relatively short period of time before those forests see any human settlements. Sediment cores show that palm forests of the Ewa plain. were indeed destroyed before any archaeological evidence of settlement on this part of the island. As Hunt and Lipo write:

“The ecological catastrophe of Rapa Nui had a complex history that cannot be reduced to psychological motivations of people who cut down the last tree. Indeed, the “last tree” may simply have died, and rats may have simply eaten the last seeds. What were the rats thinking?”

"Jobs, not trees!"

I started thinking about this topic because Dr. Hunt leads a field school at Rapa Nui which I am considering taking part in this summer. While researching the field school I stumbled on the paper and remembered that chapter I read in “Collapse”. I think Diamond wrote a recent article in Science about easter island specifically following up the research he did. If it was published after the Hunt article I’d like to see his responses.

Aside from the actual causes of deforestation on Rapa Nui, I think that Diamond’s scenario had a needlessly apocalyptic tone considering that a sizable population was still thriving on the island after the deforestation occurred.

Hunt, Terry and Carl Lipo

2010 Ecological Catastrophe, Collapse and the Myth of “Ecocide” on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). In Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability and the Aftermath of Empire, edited by Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee, pp. 21-54. Cambridge University Press.

Diamond, Jared

2005 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Penguin Books, London.

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Hello world!

 

Waimea Bay

Your humble blogger

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while, if only as an exercise in keeping my writing sharp over and during breaks in the Ol’ Baylor University school year. With Christmas break about half done, I figured now would be a good time to fire this baby up.
So, I have a blog now. great!

Now what the heck do I write about? I should start with the title of the blog “ke kaula”. This is Hawaiian for “the cord” or “the rope”. I decided to follow the local crowd in giving a synonym for “rope” as the name for a publication relating to Baylor university. I consider Hawai’i to be home, so Hawaiian was a natural choice. Otherwise I would have gone with latin, but the blog would end up being called something godawful like “funis” or “”rudens”. As an English speaker, Latin words like those just look bad to me without definite articles. Words like “the” or “ke” would go a long way to make them look distinguished and blog-title-worthy.

As for me, myself, I, the author (posterior view pictured above), I am an Anthropology student. I absolutely, without a doubt want to pursue a career as an archaeologist in Hawai’i… Or I might get into late classic Maya archaeology… On the other hand I’d love to work on provincial Roman archaeological sites in Turkey. Then again, I could delve into ethnohistory and study Hawaiian documents from the early 19th century… Or maybe I could go towards underwater archaeology and use it to research trade patterns in the mediterranean… err… *cough* let us just say that my interests are broad. I skateboard, surf, draw a bit, and cook.
Thats enough for now.

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