You just know that this is going to have Atlantis theorists all over it

here we go. It’ll be all over the place in hours:

Giant 8,000-year-old tsunami is studied

PISA, Italy, Nov. 28 (UPI) — Italian scientists say geological evidence suggests a giant tsunami resulted from the collapse of the eastern flanks of Mount Etna nearly 8,000 years ago.

The collapse of the volcano, located on Italy’s island of Sicily, was studied by Maria Teresa Pareschi and colleagues at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. They modeled the collapse and discovered the volume of landslide material, combined with the force of the debris avalanche, would have generated a catastrophic tsunami, impacting the entire Eastern Mediterranean.

Simulations show the resulting tsunami waves would have destabilized soft marine sediments across the floor of the Ionian Sea. The authors, noting field evidence for such destabilization can be seen in other studies, speculate such a tsunami might also have caused the abandonment of a Neolithic village in Israel.

The study — entitled “The Lost Tsunami” — appears in the current issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Still, if it was a real tsunami, then it definitely would have affected human culture of the area affected.

500 million dollar budget goal for Bush presidential library

This post lead me to this story. Nevermind that Bush is an incurious buffoon that has little interesting in reading, despite those silly press releases about his contest with Rove as to who can read the most this year. Nevermind that $500 million is over twice what Clinton spent on his library.

Bush wants to rescue his “legacy” according to the story. What legacy? This is the administration which aspires to be completely opaque, refusing to release any documents that might question its autocratic rule. What is released is redacted beyond use. This library is a farce. It cannot be a repository of information. It should be a solid monolith, an enormous chunk of brushed concrete as sterile and homogeneous as the brains that masterminded the Bush administration.


now i have to track down Kharmis’ Incidences and OBERIU

I was reading this year end list in the Guardian, to have George Saunders set me on a new quest:

Daniil Kharms’s Incidences (Serpent’s Tail). These crazy, concise little pieces strip narrative down to its bare bones and make you acutely aware of your reader-mind: what is the nature of suspense, of drama, of action, and where does meaning come from in literature, anyway? They are also funny as hell, anticipating the Marx Bros, Beckett and Monty Python. Kharms, known in his life as a children’s book author and crazed performance artist, starved to death in a Stalinist prison camp; there is a beautiful justice in his work gaining popularity at this insane historical moment. Kharms’s work sometimes feels to me like a kind of banana-peel resistance: absurdity as antidote to brutality.

In looking this up, i noticed that there is a new translation of Incidences coming out this January. In reading about Kharms, i found out about OBERIU, of which i was completely ignorant.

gene-culture coevolution expressed through lactose tolerance

Genetics is not my strong point. However, with all of this talk about the huge variations in human DNA, this post about how human tolerance of lactose and variations of the lactase gene in cattle is damned interesting. The study says coevolution in humans have been observed with humans and the genes of parasites, but this is the first study that is not disease related. They said that it may represent “a rare example of cultural-genetic coevolution between humans and another species,” but i’m betting this is going to turn out to be a common aspect of evolution. I know that story about variation in human DNA is supposed to be about another characteristic of DNA, but I like the illusion of something like microspeciation to fit into various environments and niches rather than poorly made copies.

tombs of Sican Culture excavated in Peru

Ah, the tumi in context…. wonderful. Actually, this is my first exposure to the tumi. Here’s the Sican Culture wikipedia entry and now the story:
Peruvian Archaeologists Excavate Tombs By MARTIN MEJIA Thursday, November 23, 2006
FERRENAFE, Peru – Archaeologists said Tuesday they have unearthed 22 graves in northern Peru containing a trove of pre-Inca artifacts, including the first “tumi” ceremonial knives ever discovered by archaeologists rather than looted by thieves.The find, which prominent archaeologist Walter Alva called “overwhelmingly important,” means that scientists can study the tumi _ Peru’s national symbol _ in its original setting to learn about the context in which it was used.

“This discovery comes as an important contribution to know the burial rites of the elite of this culture,” said Alva, who was not involved in the dig. He confirmed that no tumi had before been unearthed by archaeologists.

The tombs, more than 900 years old, were found next to a pyramid in the Pomac Forest Historical Sanctuary, 420 miles northwest of the capital, Lima. They are from the Sican culture, which flourished on Peru’s northern desert coast from A.D. 750 to 1375.

The occupants “are clearly from the social elite and therefore some of them have gold objects, some of them have copper-gilded objects, but they are quite complex, well-endowed tombs,” said Izumi Shimada.Shimada, an anthropology professor at Southern Illinois University, began excavations at the site in July with Carlos Elera Arevalo, director of Peru’s Sican National Museum. He said 10 tumi knives were found, including a 14-inch copper alloy tumi bearing the image of the Sican deity.

“The tumi has for many years been the symbol of Peru, and yet no decorated tumi has ever been found or documented scientifically,” he told The Associated Press.

All known tumi knives were looted by grave robbers, Shimada said. Sican artifacts, he has argued in his research, were often misidentified as coming from the later Inca Empire because they were always seen out of context.

“It is the first time that such a tumi has been found in context, in a scientific manner, and therefore we will be able to speak a lot about the cultural significance of this object,” he said.

Alva agreed that the discovery could help explain the history of these ceremonial weapons, with their figurine handles and arched-shaped blades.

“Finally, archaeologists have the opportunity to show a scientifically excavated tomb where the context can be known for these objects,” said Alva, who led one of Peru’s most famous archaeological digs, which uncovered the Lords of Sipan tombs in the late 1980s.

The archaeologist gave President Alan Garcia a tour Tuesday of the Pomac Forest excavation site, where Shimada said his team has found 22 tombs at up to 33 feet below ground level.

“This is an extraordinary find,” Garcia said.

One grave contains the remains of a woman about 25 years old buried with 120 miniature clay “crisoles” or crucibles, Shimada said, which he believes were made by each member of the funeral ceremony “as a sort of last offering to be placed in the burial chamber.”

I guess these finds will wind up at the Sicán National Museum.

update on Project Mojos

Remember the Mojos culture (also refererred to as Moxos) of Bolivia from last year? Here’s more:
Team finds more traces of lost Amazon civilization
Kyodo News

A well-known Japanese archaeologist said Tuesday a team he is leading has found further evidence of a little-known ancient civilization in the Bolivian Amazon.

Katsuyoshi Sanematsu, a professor of anthropology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, completed an excavation in August of a massive man-made mound, or “loma,” in Bolivia’s northeastern Beni state.

Such mounds mark settlements of the Mojos civilization, which is thought to have flourished in the Amazon region for thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish.

The excavation is the second stage of a three-year study by Japanese and Bolivian researchers called Project Mojos that began in 2005.

Sanematsu, author of numerous books on ancient Central and South American cultures, said the main objective of this year’s work was to gather more data on the loma, one of some 20,000 in the flood plain of the Bolivian Amazon called the Llanos de Mojos.

The four-week excavation confirmed that the mound, called Loma Chocolatalito, is full of pottery and animal bones.

“There were over 10,000 fragments of pottery unearthed from the top 100-cm layer of just one of the units,” he said, referring to a sectional cut from the loma.

“Also we discovered numerous animal bones, some of which had been worked and painted. All this suggests that this place was densely populated in ancient times.”

Among the most interesting objects are a fish hook made of animal bone and a pottery fragment with a carved design that Sanematsu believes may be a map.

The project team, which includes seven other Japanese researchers and experts, brought 39 samples back to Japan for analysis.

Sanematsu said although it isn’t possible to draw conclusions based on a few years of research, the results indicate an important civilization once existed in the Llanos de Mojos, but what caused it to disappear remains a mystery

the haul 11/19/06

i went to New Orleans today. It was a quiet trip, but fun one. I finally figured out that my favorite used record place, the Magic Bus, closed its doors after Katrina. Yeah, it only took me a year… (They seem to be in Austin on 3800 Congress?) I was disappointed.

Beckham’s Bookshop is still there though. It was a pretty good haul for $19.50:

E.M. Cioran. The Trouble with Being Born
Julio Cortazar. The Winners.
John Fowles. The Aristos.
Richard Burgin. Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges.
Ishmael Reed. Mumbo Jumbo.

It was Cioran that i first found, and was most excited to find at time. He’s leaving me exhausted though. As soon as i began reading the opening pages of each few books, i’m intent on reading Reed first, as that one left me most eager for more.

readings late in November 2006

Just finished Dirda’s memoir An Open Book. It wasn’t what i was hoping for at all. In reading some reviews, he’d turned me onto some great stuff that i might not have gotten around to until years from now otherwise, and had me re-read things that i had abandoned. Eh… It had been sitting on my shelves for weeks, and i read it practically in a single night. Now i barely recall anything the next morning. He’s a nice guy though.

If i had my druthers, i would have probably been happier reading Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana again. Dirda is polite and charming, but i relate better to Eco’s obsessive collage.

I had Kadare’s Agamemnon’s Daughter up next, but considering that i just finished The Palace of Dreams, it might be time to give him a break. A book that i bought and promptly misplaced resurfaced, so i might read Perec’s Species of Space. Unfortunately, i feel lazy, so i might want to tackle a more conventional book in the just purchased Julian Barnes, History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.

McCarthy’s The Road still has not been attempted. I’ve had enough babies on spikes for awhile. Speaking of babies on spikes, after a coworker mentioned his desire to read All Souls’ Rising, i remembered that i meant to read Alejo Carpentier’s The Kingdom of This World. Spiking babies like a shrike only makes me think of Eddie Izzard anyway.

The real problem is that i’m blowing most of my allotted book money on comic books. I was getting some “serious” graphic novels in buying most of Joe Sacco’s stuff, but the bookstore that i work for has started a 3 for 2 promo with anything DC or Dark Horse related… leaving me buying every Vertigo and (quite a few Wildstorm and ABC as well) title that i can lay my hands on. Soon i’ll have all of the Grant Morrison Animal Man and Doom Patrol runs. I’ve already read all of this stuff, but i want to own it all, as i’ve turned on quite a few people to comic books that they would never have read otherwise in the past few years.

Still need to write a post devoted to David B’s Epileptic… which is damned well awesome.