Lots of Links

Busy busy busy– but stuff just keeps coming in. Thanks to all!

We had a good visit from Dan and his hounds last week– well, good except for that seat belt ticket. The weather was almost too hot to run dogs, but we have had two snowstorms since! He chronicles it all there, with pics.

Darren chronicles the unholy amount of plastic crap in the oceans- I had no idea of the magnitude. Watch his spot next week for something weird, entertaining, and utterly different.

The best and funniest music video of– the year?

From a commentor at Rod’s, a little background:

“The Leningrad Cowboys is a Finnish rock and roll band famous for its humorous songs and concerts featuring the Soviet Red Army Choir.

“Currently, the band has eleven Cowboys and two Leningrad Ladies. The songs, all somewhat influenced by polka and progressive rock, and performed in English, have themes such as ‘vodka’, ‘tractors’, ‘rockets’, and ‘Genghis Khan’, as well as folkloric Russian songs, rock and roll ballads and covers from bands as diverse as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, all with lots of humour.

“The Red Army Choir (Choir Aleksandrov) is a performing ensemble that served as the official army choir of the former Soviet Union’s Red Army. The choir consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and a dance ensemble. The songs they perform range from Russian folk tunes to Church hymns, operatic arias and popular music.

“In 1991, The Red Army Choir participated in Roger Waters’ The Wall concert celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall. They performed an anti-war song ‘Bring the Boys Back Home’.”

Bad enough when an inanimate object like a gun is demonised. But now they are going to demolish a building where a shooting happened, to spare students’ feelings. I fear for our sanity.

A creepy tale. But how can anyone test the veracity of something that happened in a closed society like the old Soviet Union? (I have seen some strange things there myself, things military people here tell me I couldn’t have…)

Andrew Campbell is back from Mongolia— scroll down for the rest of the trip.

Mike shows the world typical western distances. I live just to the right of those hazy mountains on the left, about 100 miles from where he snapped that photo– and there is not a lot in between.

Science? Walter Hingley has been busy sending me links. Tuataras have DNA that is changing faster than that of any other creature studied, while keeping their dinosaur- era form., Why?– perhaps Darren may have some idea.

Feathers in amber shed light on the early evolution of feathers. Nice Luis Rey pic here.

Crows learn to use coins in vending machines. I don’t know if that is funny or scary.

Mike Spies sent a copy of the new bill to criminalize killing a migratory bird. Well, OK, but don’t these nitwits even know that it is already illegal?, and has been for many years? What is this blind passion to pass laws? (Anyone have a link?)

Speaking of which, Arizona has jumped on the mandatory spay- neuter bandwagon. The proposed law is one of the worst yet– since I cannot show my perfectly purebred tazis, they would not be up for exemption. I do not understand government’s attempts to make more and more outlaws.

Let us turn to less depressing subjects. Patrick is always thought- provoking, but the most amazing thing in his latest “Coffee and Provocation” is that wolves are returning to Massachusetts! I used to live not far from Shelburne, and I find that utterly amazing.

Finally, from Annie D, something as funny as the Leningrad cowboys: Dogs in Elk.

Pix of various subjects & more soon..

Prehistoric Trails

One of the things I have found fascinating about archaeology here in the Yuha Desert are the prehistoric trails that criss-cross the area. They are quite common and easily distinguishable from trails made by modern vehicles. As with the lithic scatters and pot drops I posted about earlier, it’s astonishing how long things can stay intact here. You can plainly see one just below my two crew members in this picture. So many rocks have been kicked over to the side of the trail they almost form kerbs. I suppose if you were walking barefoot or in yucca sandals across the desert pavement you’d be kicking rocks out of the way, too. The trails are the result of hundreds of years of this sort of thing.

This picture shows the trail plainly curving off to the northeast, heading to the old Lake Cahuilla shoreline. My colleague Josh is walking this stretch of the trail with his GPS unit in hand to map the route. When the fieldwork is complete, we’ll use the GIS data on the routes along with high-resolution air photos to link the segments up and make a prehistoric road map.
As one would expect, there is evidence of lots of prehistoric activity along these trails. The picture above shows distinct activity areas near this trail by clusters of pin flags marking artifact locations.
It also appears that the trails weren’t simply utilitarian facilities, but also served ritualistic purposes. We have found a number of circles near trails, like the one above… …and this one which has its own small path linking it to the trail in the background. It is likely that these are related to what the local ethnographic literature calls power circles. The power circles were used by travelers along the trail, both during actual travel and “dream travel” (during trances) to pray and meditate to obtain power for the successful completion of the journey. A recent archaeological project conducted nearby used a Least Cost Digital Elevation Model to plot hypothetical extensions of known trail segments. The reasoning here was that people using the trails would take the shortest and easiest routes between points. Field checks showed that the model was a poor predictor of trail locations – the presumption being that trails were routed to link important ritual locations rather than following the physically easiest route.


In our younger years, Connie and I spent a fair amount of time around Bill, Wyoming, a bump in the road between Douglas and Gillette. So when the NYT had an article about the place it caught my eye. According to the Times, the business boom there has brought the population all the way up to 11.

A whole generation of archaeologists passed through Bill while working on projects related to the massive coal mines in the Powder River Basin. Caps sporting the “Bill Yacht Club” logo really were a hot commodity back in the early 80s. While working on a vegetation survey for a mine near there, Connie had a mail drop in Bill, which if I remember correctly was “Shoebox #2”. That was about the time when the mayor of Bill was an elderly German shepherd named Mayor.

That Vienna

Spent a week in Vienna, thankfully away from all those hideous Englishmen (wink wink, just kiddin’ ha ha), saw all manner of good stuff, a Monet to Picasso show that was an education (not to mention awesome and gorgeous and amazingly empty) a Durer exhibition that was sort of religious, a Max Ernst show that was exactly as expected (that is: Great) and a bunch of Richters that were a fillip to the Monet-Picasso show (starring Munch and Bacon(I mean, god was this a hell of a good day)). So this was Vienna. Did I say I got lost about seven times because I said, ‘Okay, Phill, here’s a big gorgeous Austro-Hungarian Palace, when you see it you’re here,’ only to find out that there’re about seven such palaces all around Vienna and that locating oneself thereby is foolhardy at best, and masochistic at even better than best. If you happen to hate your feet.
No hotel because for those preterite who can’t cop a room in the Four Seasons Intercontinental Hilton on short notice downtown Vienna is unique amongst European tourist locals in having no place to stay. So, like any good tourist, I hit bars, and wound up hitting nails into a stump with the claw of a hammer for sport, then staying up hanging out badmouthing the country I love for free drinks until 10 am with one Eurogreasy bartender and three waitresses. It was grand.
Then: Klimt, and [Ed’s note] I’ve always loved Klimt and ikons both, mainly owing to Kleist (Read Kleist!) but holy god! The Belvedere Palace is the palace taken over by, in its lower quarters, Viennese artists of today who’re super good, and in its real palatial realm, by Klimts, which are far far beyond good.
I don’t want to go on too much here on Steve n them’s spot, but suffice it to say that the way gold and abstraction resolves into the pure uncluttered beauty of a woman’s face tilted to one side and beyond the world in pure contentment, well, it’s something. Saw Mozart Beethoven shows with headphones on, there’s a Museum Quarter that’s nice, saw that, but mainly I saw Vienna as a sort of challenge to any greatness that can’t back it all up with one thousand years. It was sort of cool.
Saw more, but nothing more worth mentioning.