Crystal Skulls

May 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm (Dissertation, History, Horror, Movies)

Let me start off by saying that I loved the new Indiana Jones movie. I’ve heard a number of different reviews, good and bad, and as far as I’m concerned, it was absolutely pitch-perfect Indy action and adventure. Of course, archaeologists around the world have been trying to ride Indy’s coattails to the top, with mixed successes. One article that I found very interesting was Archaeology Magazine’s investigation into the actual crystal skulls that inspired the legend that is at the core of the film. It’s a fun read, with some good links. Given my macabre tastes, it shouldn’t surprise either of you that one of my favorite parts of the inset note and photo about the French obsession with skeletal images, either! Now, if only going to see Indiana Jones movies somehow made me work on my dissertation faster…

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New Year’s Resolved

January 3, 2008 at 9:42 pm (Dissertation, General, Writing)

Although most of you will find this hard to believe, I am my own harshest critic. Although I might wax publicly about how awesome I am, I spend (and always have spent, at least since I was a teenager) a significant portion of my waking hours depressed, because I feel that I do not measure up against some internal yardstick. Usually, the measure at which I fail is discipline, inasmuch as I haven’t yet completed my dissertation, even though I’m 30 and ought to be done already and getting on with my life, and why can’t I just buckle down for eight hours a day like everyone says I’m supposed to, and… Well, you get the idea. I’m like that about everything that I try doing: Languages, school, writing, art, cooking, etc. I’ve always had a short attention span, and that makes it hard to get anywhere with a specific project. Read the rest of this entry »

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Academic Publishing and the Digital Age

November 5, 2007 at 6:31 pm (Dissertation, Economics, Education, Languages)

I’m currently participating (mostly as an observer) in a workshop here at UCLA sponsored by the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, discussing the “future of cuneiform scholarship,” specifically digital scholarship. One of the key questions to which conversation keeps returning is that of models for electronic research projects, of which there are two types, as one of the participants astutely pointed out: Models for acquiring funding or another form of support to ensure the endurance of the project, and models for ensuring participation and support within the academic community. The former I will perhaps deal with at another time, but the debate about the latter has been so vigorous and fascinating that I feel compelled to note down some of my comments here (for Bryan’s benefit, more than anyone else, since I think he’s my only reader who will find this at all interesting!). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Failed Experiment

November 1, 2007 at 1:36 pm (Dissertation, Family, Travel, Writing)

Sadly, I have been forced to mark my recent trip to Connecticut as a failure. Not because of any lack of fun or happiness in the trip itself; we had a great time, got to see a lot of family and friends, and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely. However, in terms of my “grand experiment,” to blog the entire trip on a daily basis, I was (as you can see from the lack of posting on the blog) rather unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »

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I passed!

June 22, 2007 at 10:13 am (Dissertation, Horror)

For those of you who read this blog in a valiant (if doomed) attempt to keep up on what’s actually going on it my life: It’s official, I have advanced to candidacy. On Monday, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal before my faculty committee, and they approved it. It’s not all roses and bonbons, though; now I have to actually write the darn thing… Read the rest of this entry »

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Otherwise Occupied

March 27, 2007 at 6:40 pm (Computers, Dissertation, General)

To all five of my readers:  Sorry that I haven’t been posting lately.  A combination of finals week, working on my dissertation proposal, our PC’s power supply melting twice, and getting a new Macbook laptop with which I want to play, has kept me from posting lately.  Of course, it also helps that, with the play over, I’ve nothing interesting to talk about!  There could be worse fates…

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Religion, Science and the Development of Society

March 10, 2007 at 3:23 pm (Books, Dissertation, Economics, Education, History, Languages)

I’m finding Goody’s book exciting not just for the ideas contained within, but also because he is giving me a whole new vocabulary with which it explore ideas of my own, ideas that I’ve been playing with in my head for months and years but have never had the words to properly express before now. For example, as part of my research over the last few weeks, I’ve been repeatedly encountering the question of the distinction (if any) between the magic, religion and science in human societies. It is clear to any observer that there are dramatic differences in this aspect (as in others) between different societies, both contemporaneous and not (e.g., the difference between religion and technology in Sumerian Mesopotamia in 2500 BC and American Los Angeles in AD 2007). The real questions are, how do we describe those differences, and why do they exist? Read the rest of this entry »

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An Amazing Book

March 10, 2007 at 3:21 pm (Books, Dissertation, Education, History, Languages, Writing)

I’m reading a new book. And it’s blowing my mind. In a good way.

No, honey, it’s not a comic book. And it doesn’t have any zombies in it (at least, not yet). In fact, it is an academic book that I’m reading as part of researching my dissertation proposal. Despite all of those shortcomings, however, the ideas that it presents, and the arguments that it uses to defend them, are echoing around in my skull like atomic poolballs. I’m only two chapters into it, and its already changed the way that I look at world history and human behavior dramatically. Not bad for 35 pages, huh? Read the rest of this entry »

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A Useful Assyriology Tool

February 25, 2007 at 1:01 pm (Computers, Dissertation, Education, Languages)

Since I started this blog, I’ve been throwing around alternative career ideas for myself, besides straight Assyriology. One of the ones that I’ve found appealing of late is travel-writing, because (a) I’d like to think that I’m a decent writer when I set my mind to it, and (b) I do like to travel. Of course, it’s hard to make a living at that, so it would just be a “side” gig, that I’d do in addition to some other job that lets me work from home and/or otherwise control my schedule. However, in order to do this, I’d need a computer so that I could write and blog easily on the road (I know, I could use a pencil and paper, but I edit a lot, and a computer just makes that more efficient). Now, the UCLA Bookstore has a deal on Apple Macbooks where you get a $1300 computer for $1000, which is a pretty good deal. However, to really justify that expense, I figure I’d have to start using it for school and other work, as well as my writing, which got me thinking about what the ideal computer setup for translating cuneiform texts would be… Read the rest of this entry »

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Some Thoughts on My Future

February 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm (Dissertation, Education, Languages)

While doing laundry and cleaning today, I spent some time thinking about where I might like to end up, career-wise, and I started thinking about my dream professorship, at LMU, of course. I’d be teaching both Mesopotamian languages and archaeology. There would be a couple of intro courses, and I would give a talk on the Archaeology major and minor at the end of each semester, for anyone who was interested. The major would require them to learn two languages, one dead and one living (French or German), plus write a certain number of papers that could be added to the CDLI wiki on various archaeological sites or topics. If I had funding, then I would have a team of undergrads, each of whom would be responsible for becoming an expert in a particular area of the ancient Mediterranean, and they would write overviews with bibliographies for the wiki, gradually populating it with information and making it easier for future students to get informed. Ultimately, they’d also have to write a senior thesis which would/could be a publishable article. Read the rest of this entry »

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