October 13th, 2005

dance centipedes vagina

It's like homework

5 details about me:
Overeducated and underqualified
Manage to collect tons of crap I almost never use or only use a small % of that goes through genre cycles that have included video games, anime, and board games.
I hate hippies
I've felt over the hill since I was around 17 or so
Make up one for yourself

5 details about my appearance right now:
Weight loss seems to be stable. I've been eating lotsa candy and crap lately because of wedding leftovers (Sister had a 'candy bar' of sorts where people could pack up a takeout container full of various chocolate covered treats)
My hair seems to go through cycles of thinning which make me ponder if I'm eventually going to be bald or something.
My skin is dry enough that it's peeling thanks to meds. Don't care.
I seem to have giant bruises from old wounds all over the place.
I'm an innie

5 favorite movies:
Nightmare before Christmas
The Princess Bride
Lord of the Rings (I guess that's a 3 in 1 so I'm either one over or one short)

5 memorable things I have done or about me:
Wrote and got funded a R3 grant
I'm distinctive enough looking I find I never have to bother to remember anyone. They'll end up recognizing me.
Have managed to not commit murder yet
Is a high GRE score memorable?
Just got mentioned in a dungeon article

5 things that make me happy:
A restful langorious sleep
Rain/snow on a chill night
Getting a really good deal/something for free
A good book
Warm bread and soft butter

5 things that impress me:
Artistic talent, but not the fruity hippie treehugging type
A good singing voice
A sweet and giving nature
Piety and humility
Success through adversity

5 things that don't impress me:
Snot-nosed kids
People on 'My List'
Kitty Chaos
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dance centipedes vagina

We've got hobbits, people

Bone of Hobbit-like species uncovered

Tuesday, October 11, 2005; Posted: 4:12 p.m. EDT (20:12 GMT)

(AP) -- Scientists say they have found more bones in an Indonesian cave that offer additional evidence of a second human species -- short and hobbit-like -- that roamed the Earth the same time as modern man.

But the vocal scientific minority that has challenged that conclusion since the discovery of Homo floresiensis was announced last year remains unconvinced.

The discovery of a jaw bone, to be reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, represents the ninth individual belonging to a group believed to have lived as recently as 12,000 years ago. The bones are in a wet cave on the island of Flores in the eastern limb of the Indonesian archipelago, near Australia.

In 2004, scientists announced their original, sensational discovery of a delicate skull and partial skeleton of a female, nicknamed "Hobbit" and believed to be 18,000 years old. In addition, they found separate bones and fragments of other individuals ranging in age from 12,000 to 95,000 years old.

The findings have ignited a controversy unlike any other in the often-contentious study of human origins.

The tiny bones have enchanted many anthropologists who accept the interpretation that these diminutive skeletons belonged to a remnant population of prehistoric humans that were marooned on Flores with dwarf elephants and other miniaturized animals, giving the discovery a kind of fairy tale quality.

If true, the discovery grafts a strange and tangled evolutionary branch near the very top of the human family tree.

The conventional view of human evolution is that several types of primitive ape-like ancestors appeared and faded over a span of about 4.5 million years. Modern Homo sapiens developed about 100,000 years ago, and quickly overtook other large-brained competitors like Homo erectus and Neanderthals. Modern humans were thought to have roamed the Earth without competition for at least the past 30,000 years.

Fully grown, Homo floresiensis would have stood about 3 feet tall, with a brain about the size of a chimpanzee.

Its discoverers, led by Australian anthropologist Michael Morwood of the University of New England, speculate it evolved from Homo erectus, which had spread from Africa across Asia. They attribute its small size to its isolation on an island.

However, the researchers acknowledge that the Hobbit shares a bizarre and unexplained mixture of modern and primitive traits. For example, its long, dangling arms were thought to have belonged only to much older prehuman species that were confined to Africa.

A vocal scientific minority insists the Hobbit specimens do not represent a new species at all. They believe the specimens are nothing more than the bones of modern humans that suffered from microencephaly, a broadly defined genetic disorder that results in small brain size and other defects.

And, at least two groups of opponents have submitted their own studies to other leading scientific journals refuting the Flores work.

"This paper doesn't clinch it. I feel strongly that people are glossing over the problems with this interpretation," said Robert Martin, a biological anthropologist and provost of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Those caught in the middle of the debate say it is a real test of what we know about human evolution.

Daniel E. Lieberman of the Peabody Museum at Harvard said the specimens are so unusual that they deserve a more detailed analysis in order to adequately answer the critics' complaints.

"Many syndromes can cause microencephaly and dwarfism and they all need to be considered," said Lieberman, who wrote a commentary in Nature. "The findings are not only astonishing, but also exciting because of the questions they raise."

In the latest Nature study, the same team of Australian and Indonesian scientists working in Liang Bua cave on Flores report finding a variety of additional bones buried at various depths.

Among them, bones from the right arm of the previously discovered 18,000-year old female. They labeled her LB1.

And, they report finding the lower jaw bone that does not belong to any of the previously discovered individuals. An analysis of firepit charcoal found nearby in the excavation layer suggests the jawbone is 15,000 years old. It suggests a weaker chin with smaller tooth dimensions than LB1, but otherwise shares the same characteristics.

"They almost certainly belong to the same species," Lieberman concluded.

I'm just waiting for some crazed batch of nutbags to claim that this shows that maybe there really were dwarves and elves and whatever else once upon a time and maybe even magic in the distant past. It'll be just like one of those fantasy novels where there was once a magical world full of fairy creatures and other gobbily gook but then some horrible disaster happens or over time things change and you discover, gasp, that it's really earth all along. If there are idiots out there embracing 'Jedi' as their official religion, I don't see why we can't expect some LotR whackjobs to claim their delusion is reality too.
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dance centipedes vagina

Geek Fest '05 (Renn Faire Edition)

Alrighty, so I figured I would do some catch up and post a few pictures (well, more than a few really) from the renn faire trip. It was only, what 2 months ago, so it's not really all that late, right? Besides, half the time when I pop these things up I figure I'm only entertaining myself anyway. I'm also motivated by the fact that I managed to find my digital camera and downloaded all the pictures off of it. That means that not only do I have a few gencon pictures in the queue, but pictures from the rehersal dinner and wedding as well. If I don't at least try to clear the backlog, I'll never get around to it.

The sad part about the wedding pictures is my digital camera ran out of batteries pretty much after the wedding. The damn thing had always seemed to have an infinite amount of power that it's never been something I'd worried about. I'd charge it up whenever I got around to it and had never gotten burned before. Anyway, that's neither here nor there and has notta to do with the Renn faire. Just a preview of disapointments to come I guess. I'm sure my sister will get the official wedding photographer's pictures when she gets back from the honeymoon and I can paste a few of those up.

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