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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Public Archaeology

UPDATED: I won't be blogging for some time, so I will leave you with this lament for the Middle East, a particularly prescient quote from Richard Dawkins' documentary, Root of All Evil?

"I’m here on the Mount of Olives looking out over this beautiful old city. We’ve heard some pretty extreme statements, some hatreds, some bigotry such as I haven’t really heard before…

"I don’t see what future the world has as long as people think like that, and people are going to go on thinking like that as long as they’re brought up from childhood, from the cradle, to think that there’s something good about faith, to think that there’s something good about believing because you’ve been told to believe, rather than believing because you’ve looked at the evidence.

"I want to say that killing for God is not only hideous murder—it is also utterly ridiculous. Unlike religion, science doesn’t pretend to know everything. There are still deep questions about the origins of the universe that are yet to be explained."

—Richard Dawkins

I, too, wish to emphasize that I condemn both Islamist terrorism and Zionist extremism. It all sickens me. Here, again, are two ideas that are popular in the minds of the common people—the call for blood by Hezbollah and other fanatical groups, and Zionist predestination (as opposed to the average secular Israeli's desire for a democratic nation)—just as creationism is popular in the minds of so many Americans. It's wrong. Too bad that this nation deems Richard Dawkins' statements as too strident for this country to hear, for they're aren't just his ideas, after all.

Peace, everyone.
Fortunately, I am taking time from work and traveling along the West Coast for the next few weeks, which unfortunately also means a vacation from the Mill Ruins Park archaeological dig.

I have been showing up on Saturdays to help excavate several sites along the Cataract Mill complex, a line of mills that once stood along the Mississippi. The public is invited to scrape and sift alongside professional archaeologists and graduate students every Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., through August 12.

It's slow going, since the mills went up and were torn down in quick succession, with various types of fill thrown in so that another mill could be erected almost immediately on the same site. Most of the children who show up want to be told that they could find dinosaur bones, but of course, we're searching for human artifacts from the past 100 years. What we have found are nails, piping, ceramic pieces, clunkers, coal, mortar, agates, rodent skulls, paper clips, some newspapers, bricks (the softer, cheaper yellow and the expensive red), a few buried insects, and a even purple leather jacket from the 1950s!

There's something hypnotic about scraping; I'll go at it for two hours at a time without looking up, even if we don't find much. The people guiding the visitors at the sites are mostly young naturalists who don't get paid enough, in my opinion, and are not necessarily specializing in the field of archaeology; I spoke with a young man who has a degree in biology and a master's in education, and another young graduate student in ecology. They teach and do research in addition to working at the site, and they're great with the kids. School groups have been working on the sites during the week; my sig. other, John, recently made a short film about the project.

The park is very close to the new Guthrie. If you're in the area and have a chance, stop by on a Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to get your hands dirty.


Blogger Dan said...

Sounds like great fun, and rewarding, too. I always wanted to do some field archaeology, but there's just not much call for it in musicological circles, these days.

July 15, 2006 2:31 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

It is great fun, but of course, it's not related to my work, either.

We did some amateur archaeology in our yard, which had apparently been filled after the old carriage house burned down--we found old Grain Belt bottles (probably from the 1930s), ceramics, flagstones, utensils, and the cover to something, perhaps a well.

So, who knows? If you have an old house, archaeology may be all around you!

July 15, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

I agree with Dan - that looks like fun. Well, as long as it's not 95 degrees out like it has been lately.

July 31, 2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Basement Activist said...

Hey Kristine, over at Kansas Citizens for Science they like to tell the public that science doesn't deal with religion...and here you are quoting Dawkins who says it does, as you obviously believe.

You have said at Red State Rabble that science can't deal with absolute truth and yet here, and elsewhere you use it to attack religion.

Do you think they are lying about their position over at Kansas Citizens for Science and are really atheists?

(I mean, I KNOW they are but I wonder what you really think.)

After all, if religion can be a motive for pushing ID why can't atheism be a motive for pushing evolution?

July 31, 2006 11:06 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Yes, it is fun, though I picked a good two weeks to go AWOL.

One thing about the "we can always recognize design" argument, is that it doesn't stand up when you actually scrape the ground. People keep finding things and think that they are artifacts, when later it turns out that they're hard pieces of dirt. Go figure.

As to Kansas Citizens for Science, I have no idea if they're atheists or not. I've never even been to Kansas.

Evolution was discovered and developed by theists, perhaps excluding Darwin himself, who nevertheless did train for the clergy at one time. If you don't like evolutionary theory, I guess you don't want to see the church married to scientific research, as it was in Darwin's time.

For the bazillionth time, I became an atheist long before I ever heard of evolution. I also became an atheist long before I ever heard of algebra. Is atheism the motive for algebra, or is Islam the motive, because algebra was developed by a bunch of Muslims?

The concept of zero was formulated in India. Holy shit! It's Hindu propoganda!

Come on. Evolution is the best explanation of the facts that we have. Yes, that is a provisional statement. (Apparently you were asleep when I posted that if evolutionary theory were discredited tomorrow--and do you want a bet?--I wouldn't be crushed, but would just say, "Back to the drawing board." Science is not a religion.) It's a big, complex world out there, and there are a lot of people who can't understand that science doesn't deal in what they mean when they think of "absolute truth." They're thinking mystically, in terms of an absolute authority to meekly follow--well, guess what. Stating that something is a fact does not put that fact in place of God (Dawkins does not do that and neither do I). Stating that something is a fact empowers us to utilize that fact, and that's completely different from the groveling obedience to the "facts" of religion. But whatever, Basement Activist, you're just not going to get it.

I hope you go have a fun vacation sometime, and get out of that basement a little. (Man! How you must have missed me!)

August 01, 2006 1:41 PM  

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