A little while ago I sat down here at common grounds for a cup of coffee. I’m supposed to be working on a presentation for my historical archaeology class, but I had to check a few blogs first. John Hawkes’ paleoanthropology blog is one I always stop by in order to get a bead on whats going on in that field. Well, today’s post describes how some researchers have written about the full draft of the Neanderthal genome. These researchers determined that modern humans (people living today) have genes inherited from Neanderthal populations!

At that point of the post, I was glad I wasn’t sipping my cowboy java brew, otherwise I would have spewed it towards the poor girl sitting across from me.

This has been a point of debate for quite a while. While there has been a good amount of evidence for human and neanderthal populations being in regular contact with one another,  this seems to be the first solid evidence of of successful mating between human and neanderthal individuals.

If you’re at all interested in this, check out the post for a very detailed analysis, and check back often. This will likely be a topic of discussion there for a while.



Still Alive

I am not quite dead yet. It is the end of the semester and I haven’t had a whole lot of spare time to write epic blog entries. I think a recent post over at http://zinjanthropus.wordpress.com/ describes my situation pretty well:

“Posts from me have been and will continue to be a little slow due to the End-of-semester Slowdown: As the semester goes on, the life history of your assignments gets longer and increasingly more k-selected.  Of course, sometimes this means that more r-selected things (like blog posts and facebook status updates) out-compete and proliferate much more than the larger, more important assignments like research proposals and papers.”

Right now, I’ve got more revisions to do than you can shake a stick at. Back to work!

The LHC works!

After a few false starts and problems, the Large Hadron Collider is finally smashing particles at ridiculously high energies. Once results are analyzed with a bit of science-ing, the researchers may confirm the existence of the Higgs boson. If you’re interested in keeping up with the LHC day by day, its twitter page is perfect for that.

While this is exciting, at least one individual has vehemently opposed any further experiments. Mr. Cole, a man claiming to be a time traveller showed up at the site declaring that he intended to change the course of history and went on to describe the world he was from.

“Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I’m here to stop it ever happening.”

Not only is this too awesome to not be true, but Mr. Cole apparently wore a great deal of tweed and spoke with a British accent. That is proof enough.



Sketch 3

Plainview drawing.

Its blurry, but you get the idea.

Spring break is halfway done for us Baylor students. I’ve been spending it in about as frugal a way as you can imagine. I’m staying at my apartment and working in order to save up some money. The Texas Collection library employs me as an archival assistant; I’ve been spending much of the week there keeping an eye on the researchers who stop by. Besides working, I spend my time not buying things and finding amazing ways to stretch out my food supply. If you could picture some montage from a movie of a kid smashing his piggy bank, looking under the couch for change, and selling lemonade all for the sake of buying a new shiny red dreambike, that would be how I’m living my life right now.

Baylor class ring savings fund? Raided.

Stock I bought when I was 14? Sold.

21st birthday gift-checks? Not spent on booze.

I’m doing all this for just one reason: I will be going to Jordan this summer to take part in the 2010 el-Hemmeh excavation at Wadi el-Hasa (funded by National Geographic) along with some Stanford undergrads.

I just really need a plane ticket.

The fact that a significant portion of that statement was both italicized and bold-faced should show how excited I am about this. I’ve got my passport, my Jordanian Antiquities Department security forms are fine, and I’m purchasing my first Marshalltown trowel as I write this very sentence. Did I mention my excitement?

I just don’t have a plane ticket.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find out what the market value of a kidney is.

P.S. Baylor Vs. UT at Kansas City tonight. Sic ’em Bears!

A while after I wrote that post on Jared Diamond and the Easter island research that was published in Yoffee and McAnany’s Questioning Collapse, Rhonda Shearer of Stinkyjournalism.org commented on it with some links to new posts on that site. Jared Diamond had a book review of Questioning collapse published in the February 18th edition of Nature. Although the book itself is practically dedicated to discrediting much of Diamond’s research, there wasn’t any sort of disclosure in nature about his position in regards to the book. Needless to say, the review is heavily critical. At the very least, the editors of Nature were not giving McAnany and Yoffee a fair shake without letting the readers know about the potential biases that Diamond may have brought into his review. So, this is an interesting example of a science media ethics debate.

Stinky journalism has been regularly updated with new information on all this. I’ve got some links for you.

first report on Diamond’s review

Later update with Nature‘s response

Comments section of my post.

… That Ken Starr?

Over the past 24 hours or so, word has been spreading that Kenneth W. Starr would be appointed president of Baylor University by the school regents.
At around noon, I along with every other student, faculty and staff member received a mass e-mail which made it official: Ken Starr is the 14th president. The range of reactions to this so far hasn’t stretched far from confusion and surprise.
It’s no secret that the Baylor presidency (which has been empty since July of ’08 ) has been in a bad way the past few years.
Still, nobody expected Ken Starr (yes, THAT Ken Starr). I’m sure that plenty of people will be upset with this choice for various reasons: too controversial, not baptist, too conservative. After reading up on him this morning, I am impressed at what he has done, particularly in representing death row inmates pro bono. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out over the next year.
Starr will be introduced as president by the regents tomorrow at 3pm. If I can make it, I’ll be attending.
You can get some more information on this whole affair and a link to a live stream of the event here: