Spoon at the Spanish Moon was tonight

And i didn’t hear one radio spot, spot a single flyer, or see a single email until it was far too late to change my schedule.

I’m extremely fucking irritated with the scenesters of Baton Rouge right now. It’s almost as if they don’t really want anyone to show up at shows like this, so that they can keep it to themselves. I could enlisted half a dozen people to see this show with just a little notice, and far more with better warning. I truly do not understand what motivates them.

With just a little less effort, they can announce their damned shows after they actually occur, and be even more smug about being in the know. Self-satisfied exclusionists…

Live Action Role-Players in Brazil Slaughter a Family…

Article here.

My only experience with live action role-playing (LARPing) was when I worked with a guy a few years ago who played some game on the weekends where he and his friends basically fought with foam swords. He embarrassed the shit out of me at work by demonstrating his moves and supplying crudely-wrought sound effects (“ching ching SWOOSH”). Harmless.

Apparently, they take LARPing seriously in Brazil.

The crime was shocking by any standard — a family of three bound, drugged and shot in the head at close range in their beds. Then, a twist: The killers said it was all a game, and the penalty for losing was death.

They said the killings were part of a role-playing game whose rules required the loser to let the winners kill him and his family.

“The suspects are very cool about what they did. They know what they did was wrong and that they will have to pay,” said Espirito Santo state police inspector Alexandre Lincoln Capela. “But I believe, from what I have seen, even going to prison is part of the game for them.”

Police said the game that left the Guedes family dead lasted only five hours. Guedes assumed the role of a policeman named Flavio, Mendes played a demon and Rodrigues was the wizard who ran the game.

Police said it wasn’t clear how Guedes lost, but when he did, the players went to the bank where Guedes cleaned out his account, withdrawing $1,745.

Guedes then helped the two others to tie up and drug his elderly parents, Douglas and Heloisa, and watched as both were shot in the head. Finally, he was subjected to the same fate.

The suspects stole a computer from his house before leaving, police said.

Wait a minute… this guy HELPED them tie up his family, WATCHED them shoot them, the SUBMITTED to the same fate? Wow. Talk about not being a sore loser. I can honestly say that I would reneg on the rules long before my parents got killed. I guess I’m a cheater.

Rodrigues and Mendes were working-class men who had known each other for more than 10 years and met the middle-class Guedes only on the day of the killing.

THEY ONLY MET HIM THAT DAY???!!!?!?!! How the hell did they convince him to play?!? I am certain that either Guedes was crazy/suicidal or these dudes made up the game bit after they got popped for killing and robbing these folks.

Click the article link for a picture of the culprits.

return the sith, buy the new oasis.

pitchfork fuck off.

nostalgia.
nos·tal·gi·a
n.

1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

george lucas squeezed the last bit of it from my bones with his long, dull, overhyped, piece of shit episode three. i wanted that movie to be good. i left the theater numb. i couldn’t believe i bought into the hype machine. i was so fucking angry. the thing that upset me the most was the fact that i didn’t have high expectations for it as a film. i just wanted to participate in a fun outerspace adventure. i got a fucking eye candy outline. mascara over a marble. the mummy. empty nostalgia wrapped in bandages.

don’t believe the truth, on the other hand, makes me smile.

let’s make this clear: oasis aren’t going to save the world. if you’re searching for a group that’s going to reinvent rock: it ain’t them.

they’ll get into your chest. you might move your head. you’ll probably want to call your friends.

oasis: you can snort cocaine off their cd case and it sorta makes sense.

oasis: a band you can sing along with without feeling stupid.

oasis: fun. put your problems aside for a little while. let go. don’t think too much. relax and rest your mind. it’s okay to be yourself.

be glad, they have that indescribable vibe again. drinks at my place.

snarkiness in NYT about the Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Oh, this is just brilliant:

At Oxford, Dr. Dirk Obbink, a lecturer in Greek literature and papyrology who directs a project that among other things puts images of the papyri on the Internet, took the unusual step of issuing a statement that tried to put some of the assertions in context. “The article surely should not have said (if it did) that all the papyri had been discovered yesterday, only that we made significant (and sufficiently exciting) advances,” the statement said.

So is Obbink admitting that he did not read the original article in the Independent? I did read that original article and it did not say that papyri were just discovered. It read that technology had been developed that made text previously illegible to be legible. That is true. I read regurgitated stories, breathlessly delivered, from AP wire about science stories that are years old day after day. They appear in the NYT too. It’s not an overhyped story. Why shouldn’t people (I was and still am damned giddy over it) be excited about this if they were ignorant of the story previously?

However, that is not the best bit. Obbink’s just issuing a statement after being hassled by people who misinterpreted the original article. The real snarkiness is here:

As is so often the case with British newspapers, the Independent article turned out to be both true and not true.

That sentence is the whole reason why this article appears in the NYT, a catty little shot about the quality of British newspapers.

Hey, New York Times, what about Iraq? You certainly had that nailed down better than any British paper, eh?

….you fucking know-nothing cowardly shits.

Homo floresiensis article in the Asian edition of Time magazine

from here:

“In those days we ate our meat raw, like animals.” The speaker is Viktor Jurubu, an Indonesian farmer in his 60s, who, in his T shirt and sarong, looks little like the cavemen he’s describing. Except for his height, which is about 140 cm. In the world of anthropology, Jurubu’s small size is big news because he and his 246 fellow villagers of Rampasasa on the remote island of Flores say they are descended from a tribe of tiny, hairy folk whom they call “the short people.” “We didn’t have knives but used rocks,” he explains. “We didn’t even know how to make fire.” Jurubu, a soft-spoken man with close-cropped gray hair, high cheekbones and deeply inset eyes, looks to the 30 or so villagers sitting in a circle around him for confirmation. They nod and grunt assent, and he proceeds to talk about the time their shy ancestors hid themselves from the outside world in Liang Bua, a high-ceilinged cavern scooped out of a limestone hill about a kilometer away. Again a chorus of agreement. “Tell how Paju left the cave and married one of the normal humans,” calls out a voice from the crowd, “[and] how we came to live here in Rampasasa.” Jurubu hesitates. After a pause, he opens his mouth to speak, but his words are drowned out by an impatient babble of voices competing to tell the story.

The inhabitants of Rampasasa insist their claimed genealogy is no tall tale. Indeed, among the rattan-and-thatch shacks of what otherwise seems an ordinary if very poor Flores village, it’s hard not to notice the large number of very short people, particularly among the older folk, some of whom are the same height as a typical 10-year-old. Some six generations of intermarriage with outsiders, says Rampasasa’s headman Alfredus Ontas, have left few truly tiny individuals. But to prove their antecedents, he and other locals eagerly display photos of recently deceased relatives whom they say were of purer “short people” stock. “The brothers in this photograph were only 110 cm,” Ontas says proudly, his broad smile revealing jagged teeth stained ox-blood red by betel nut. Another elder is introduced, who, as well as measuring only 135 cm tall, has a pelt of hair covering his arms and legs. “It was because we were so hairy that our ancestors hid in Liang Bua,” says Jurubu. “They were embarrassed.”

Today, it’s the villagers of Rampasasa who are causing others to be, if not embarrassed, then at least flustered. Liang Bua is where a team of Australian and Indonesian scientists reported in Nature magazine last October that they had discovered the bones of seven individuals ranging in age from 13,000 to 95,000 years old. (Another set was found later.) Among the findings: a nearly intact skeleton that the anthropologists said belonged to an adult female who lived as recently as 18,000 years ago yet was only the size of a modern-day 6-year-old. Because the female skeleton looked humanoid rather than human and the brain size was small, the researchers concluded she was not a Pygmy—a short but otherwise normal version of Homo sapiens you still find in equatorial Africa and pockets of Southeast Asia—but a member of an entirely new species whom its discoverers named Homo floresiensis. This species, say the scientists, probably branched off from Homo erectus, the commonly accepted ancestor of Homo sapiens. The news meant that the two different human species H. sapiens and H. floresiensis had been living parallel lives on earth at the same time. (The existence of H. sapiens dates back 250,000 years.) The story made headlines worldwide—TIME covered it last November, and National Geographic ran a lengthy feature in its April 2005 edition.

Now, however, the presence of small people living within strolling distance of Liang Bua has cast doubt over the separate-species theory, and sparked a bitter split in scientific circles over its validity. Battle lines have been drawn, with each side vigorously trying to discredit the other. Rampasasa “makes the short-stature argument completely irrelevant,” says skeptic Alan Thorne, an anthropologist at the Australian National University. “There are plenty of Pygmies in that area. In the case of these bones, it was probably a diseased Pygmy.” Counters Peter Brown, the University of New England paleoanthropologist who co-wrote the Nature report with a colleague, archaeologist Michael Morwood: “Of course, there are small-bodied people on Flores, but they don’t have brains one-third the size of ours, or unusually shaped pelvises or very long arms like H. floresiensis. They are just small modern humans.”

For Henry Gee, an editor at venerable Nature who was responsible for overseeing publication of the original H. floresiensis article, such squabbling is par for the course. “Science is a disputatious business, and human evolution is notorious for being even more disputatious. historically, whenever anyone discovers a new hominid, a lot of people come along and say it’s an ape or a diseased human.” Gee, who says the critics haven’t shaken his belief that a new species has been found, cites the example of another hotly debated discovery, that of Australopithecus africanus in 1924, the so-called “missing link” between apes and human ancestors. “Nature published that paper too and all the great and good in the scientific establishment refused to believe it.” It took 25 years, but eventually the discovery was accepted, Gee says, noting that it will be a while before H. floresiensis achieves complete acceptance as well. “They’re going to have to discover some more bones that prove this, but we have history on our side.”

Critics of the H. floresiensis hypothesis, meanwhile, are working overtime to disprove it. Thorne and a colleague spent three days in February examining the Liang Bua bones in Jakarta on the invitation of Teuku Jacob, Indonesia’s most senior anthropologist, who gained possession of the bones for a brief period before handing them back to the Australian-Indonesian team that made the discovery. Thorne and another Australian scientist subsequently wrote a paper flatly rejecting the idea that a new species had been discovered. Jacob, who is among the fiercest critics of the H. floresiensis theory and has been accused by Brown of damaging the bones while they were in his possession (a charge he denies), led an expedition to Rampasasa in April to determine if its residents could indeed be classified as Pygmies (the height threshold is 150 cm or shorter). Jacob measured more than 70 villagers and says 80% of them qualified. The theory that Thorne, Jacob and other like-minded anthropologists are propagating is that the Liang Bua female was an ancestor of a Rampasasa villager and a Pygmy, but that she suffered from microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormally slow skull growth. Says Jacob: “They say they have eight specimens. But there is only one skull and that could be microcephalic. The rest could just be Pygmies and that is even more likely now that we know people in the area around the cave are also Pygmies.” Brown’s response to Jacob’s assertion: “Complete rubbish” and “sour grapes.”

The virulence of the invective isn’t surprising given what’s at stake. If proved correct, the existence of H. floresiensis would be nothing less than a revolution in the understanding of human evolution. It’s not just that a new species has been claimed to be found, itself an event of seismic proportions. Conventional anthropological wisdom holds that animals, in the absence of big predators, shrink to adapt to life on small, closed habitats like Flores, a phenomenon known as island dwarfism. Humans, however, are thought to have evolved linearly, developing bigger bodies and brains. H. floresiensis, relatively modern yet small—but not a Pygmy, according to its supporters—explodes that theory. “[It’d] go completely against the flow of human evolution,” says Thorne. “This would undo everything that we are.” Even if the island-dwarfing process did indeed shrink H. floresiensis, says Robert Martin, curator at the Field Museum in Chicago and author of a widely cited textbook on human evolution, the grapefruit size of the brain is too small. “Brains do not shrink proportionally to bodies in a species but remain relatively large,” says Martin. “That’s why the heads of small dogs, for example, are proportionally large for their bodies compared with larger dogs. To get a brain this size, H. erectus would have to have shrunk to about 3% of its previous 60-kg size. That’s about the size of a house cat’s.” Martin says one thing would persuade him—more physical evidence: “Show me eight more similar skulls from the site and I’ll shut up.”

The argument should have been at least partly settled by a study conducted by a group of Australian, U.S. and Indonesian scientists (including Brown and Morwood) earlier this year that used computer tomography and 3-D reconstruction techniques to model the brain of H. floresiensis. The resulting paper, published in the journal Science in March, contended that the findings supported the theory of a new species and strongly downplayed the possibility of a disease like microcephaly playing a role. But critics remained unconvinced, citing flaws in the study, such as the suitability of skulls used for comparison. Even one of the paper’s authors, Washington University radiologist Charles Hildebolt, conceded that secondary microcephaly (the type not inherited but acquired during life) could not be ruled out.

Controversy over the existence of Pygmies in Indonesia’s numberless islands is centuries-old. Writing in the 14th century, Marco Polo described how natives of Sumatra would try to sell the mummified bodies of Pygmies to visitors. But, wrote Polo, “’tis all a lie and cheat. Those … little men … are manufactured on the island. There is a kind of monkey on the island which is very small and has a face just like a man’s. They take these and pluck out all the hairs except on the beard and chest and then they dry them and stuff them and daub them with saffron until they look like men.”

In the village of Rampasasa, Viktor Jurubu harbors no such doubts. He has the floor again and is recounting the story of how Paju, a famous warrior, ran into one of the “normal” people in the woods one day while out hunting. “This beautiful lady lit a fire and cooked the wild boar Paju had killed,” Jurubu says. “She wanted to marry him and knew she could tempt him with the taste of cooked meat. He did like the taste, so he agreed to marry her and come out of Liang Bua with the rest of the tribe, founding a new village.”

And the bones in the cave? “Of course, they were our ancestors,” says Jurubu, with a touch of rheumy indignation. “They must have retreated into the cave after a hunt and got caught there when the river rose. Who else could it be?” That’s proving to be a question for the ages.

It disappoints me that he article does not addresss Jacobs’ unprofessionally poor treatment of the existing bones, how he has sequestered them from scrutiny from anyone with a different opinion from him or how he handled the shipment of what he did return.

Azitis

I saw the list of Ten Albums that Changed My Life by Stephen Malkmus in Spin this month, and have been trying to track down the stuff i haven’t heard. (Morgen & Zephyr are the other two.) One of them is a Christian rock band from the early ’70s named Azitis.

Azitis “(Creation) Lord I Saw You Cry” What’s peculiar about this is that although i hear all of that folky Crosby, Stills, and Nash stuff on here, and anything affiliated with that movement, which makes me only want to shake Malkmus for being a conman (as i have little affinity for this kind of music, Christian or not,) i hear Will Oldham in this. Really. Just wait until the singer hits that O Lord and goes for that vulnerable tremble. I’d be shocked if he didn’t own this record when he started out.

blue, roots, and hair metal

I love Stylus, but this UK Singles Jukebox (a brilliant steal from the Freaky Trigger playbook) entry on the White Stripes perturbs me. The labels of macho cock rock, hair metal, ect are all true, but the commentors all seem vaguely disgusted and guilty to be listening to such drivel. Okay…

The White Stripes “Blue Orchid” Um… have they forgotten that Jack White was the backing vocals for the Electric Six’ “”Danger! High Voltage?” When the singer wears a codpiece that lights up and winks about it seeming homoerotic, it’s cool. When it seems vaguely serious, it’s uncool. Check. Got it.

Electric Six “Rock & Roll Evacuation” I can understand why there would be comparisons between the new White Stripes single and bands like Do Me Bad Things and the Darkness, but the Electric Six makes more sense. They even released an album this year. Weird that this connection wasn’t made when so many seem to be struggling to connect this sound with the blues and roots sounds.

(Now that i’ve seen the video for “Blue Orchid” the comparisons between that and “Danger! High Voltage” are even more obvious.)

one redeeming feature in Radar magazine

Yes, it’s hard to believe that they’re trying to pass this relaunch as the premiere issue, but so it goes…

What i did like in it was a six page comic towards the back, done by illustrator Brian Wilcox when he was teamed with Kareem Fahim for some work with the Village Voice in 2003. It details the life that the reporters led after the fall of Saddam, but before the country slid into what is an unacknowledged civil war. The style is a little rough, more in line with a self-published zine than a polished graphic novel, but there is a perspective fo the American presence in Iraq that doesn’t reach the mainstream in it, something that deflates the rigid framing that is received in the U.S, something that shows how completely unprepared for the road ahead America was. I’d wish that Wilcox devoted more time to work like this than coloring books mocking Bush.

Merowe Dam in Sudan covers archaeological sites

Sudan has enough problems. Despite the need to modernize though to increase the national power supply and create more arable land, the Merowe Dam will cost more than the $1.8 billion price tag.

But modernization comes with a price. The dam, which experts say is the largest hydropower project under development in Africa, is expected to create a sprawling 100-mile long lake that will displace 50,000 people who live in villages along the river.

Also to be submerged are some of Sudan’s ancient sites, where archaeologists are now working feverishly to find what they can while they still can. The affected locations, according to government scientists, include the noted Pharaonic and Napato-Meroitic towns and cemeteries at Gebel Barkal, the post-Meroitic tumuli of Zuma and the Christian monastery of Ghazali, among others.

Actually they don’t even know what’s really going to be submerged.

The work is already producing surprising results, said Dr. Ahmed, who has devoted his career to the area. Before the hurried digging began, many archaeologists did not consider this particular stretch of the Nile to be a major settlement site. But the ancient buildings, tombs, pots and other finds are proving that wrong, he said.

“This dam has a negative side but it also has a positive side,” Dr. Ahmed said. “This area has been ignored by archaeologists. It has never been surveyed properly. We are mostly relying on surveys from British occupation. We’re learning that the area is far more interesting than anybody thought.”

It seems that every time a dam is built, this story is repeated, with new place names and cultures plugged into the equation.

The current inhabitants of the land to be flooded always get an even rawer deal too, with inadequate compensation that’s administered in a haphazard fashion.