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The History of Coruscant
ubw_uwf
No, I'm not going to go into a detailed history of the city-planet from the Star Wars universe (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Coruscant), but instead focus on the thinking that its inhabitants would have to have gone through. For those of you that do not know, Coruscant is a planet whose entire surface is completely covered by sprawling cityscape. Most of the indigenous life has been wiped out, and the only place to build is up, on top of pre-existing buildings.

My problems come into play as I'm taking this Methods of Historic Preservation class. In it, we are learning how to go about saving and preserving buildings as "progress" happens around them. Examples have been given of plans to gut existing structures in New York City, leave the facade of the building intact, and then build a skyscraper upwards. This is given as a "BIG NO-NO," example.

So then we look at Coruscant. The city engulfs the entire world, and is one or more miles thick. The current tallest building is about half a mile for scale reference. So, they have had to build on top of existing buildings. Hell, even the Venetians did it because they are constantly sinking!

So, will we, in the future, face this same problem? Will our cities grow to such a size the entire world is engulfed by man-made structures spanning every square centimeter? Are there times in which it might be considered “OK” to destroy history, or at the very least alter an existing structure for the sake of “progress”? I feel like if we save every building ever, we are shooting ourselves in one foot, but if we tear down or alter the historic structures, we are shooting ourselves in the other foot.

It would be interesting to know how “Coruscantians,” dealt with this conundrum in their history. How did they pick and choose? And yes I know they are a fictional race, but we might end up becoming fiction one day ourselves.

Why is treasure hunting bad?
ubw_uwf
Recently, thousands of artifacts have been recovered by various Florida departments acting in a sting operation.( http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/FWC-Recovers-Thousands-of-Stolen-Artifacts-193670681.html ) These artifacts have reportadly been taken off of state and federal land, and then sold black-market style across two states. Many of the comments for the video voice the opinion of many state taxpayers who are shunning the state government for doing this, and rising to the defence of the alledged looters. Additionally, SourceFed just did a report on an eccentric millionare who buried treasure and left clues behind so that people can go out and find it ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOzZkBRLdSQ&list=UU_gE-kg7JvuwCNlbZ1-shlA&index=1 ).

Now, background information on the laws. It is OK to dig on your own, private land (or someone elses with their concent) and take whatever you find. As soon as you move to state or public land, however, things change. You now have to get the concent of the state or the Fed's concerning any digging you might do. This even applies to picking things up off the ground. "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."

This is because atrifacts are a finite resource who's information is based on where and in what context it is found. Digging and recovering artifacts destroys the context it is in, so you better make sure you get as much information about the artifact as you dig it up. Information like soil color, depth, features it was found in or near-by.

This is what archaeologists do when they dig, and psrt of the reason it takes so long to diseminate information to the public. Because all of these context clues give us the insite to make educated interpretations about the past and the people that lived then.

Looting removes that artifact from the posibility of adding anything to the history of people in the past. There is no context associated with looted objects; you just have an item from the past. That's it. It can't add to the conversation of past cultures. It is simply a dead end.

Now, people have been claiming that the states have over stepped their bounds. That archaeologists in their Ivory Towers want to lock things away and hide them from John Q. Public. That the past should be open to everyone. However, the process of recovery can be quite destructive to nature, as well as near-by artifacts. Once those artifacts are taken, they are put into private collections and are truely hidden away from the public. Museums once, but no longer, bought these artifacts. Now looted artifacts sit in peoples homes, outside of any scientific context.

The timing of the SourceFed video could not have been worse. While the man's idea is fun and innovative for getting people to go outdoors and experience America, he is doing it in such a way that promotes looting and the recovery of our history. Increased digging has the potential effect of unintentional looting of sites that people misinterperate as the site of the "treasure." It might have been better if he stuck with geocaching ... cash.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

Anthropology vs Sociology
ubw_uwf
In what ways does anthropology differ from sociology? This is one of the more difficult questions I've been fighting since I was an undergrad. On the surface, sociology deals with the here and now, while anthropologists deal in the past. But, then anthropologists deal with current societies, compare them to our own society in there here and now. So, when is sociology sociology and anthropology anthropology?

Funeral Practices
ubw_uwf
Last weekend, I traveled back to Michigan for my maternal grandmothers funeral service. She had died in early/middle January, and I'm not sure exactly why it was decided on now to hold it, other than her birthday would have been the day after the service. I have been to a number of different services over the years, including a latin mass and a military funeral complete with 21 gun salute. But this seemed to be a totally different affair from what I had experienced in the past. My grandmother had been cremated, and at the funeral home there was a room with various things representing my grandmothers life. A violin, pictures of grandma, her senior yearbook, picture boards featuring her, and a looping video showing various old home movies that my uncle (her youngest son) had made. The close family showed up early, and we floated around talking to everyone as various friends of the family came in. And... that's how it went. No speaches, no real ceremony, just memories. And while it seemed odd to me, in reflection, it still seems right. Some of my earliest and strongest memories of my grandmother are of her christmas parties, where the adults would mingle upstairs, and the children were hidden away in the basement. That sounds much cruler than it actually was. But I remember my grandmother always loving parties, and I think she would have rather had this than a more traditional service.

Kickstarting Archaeology
ubw_uwf
Yesterday, on NPR's Science Friday, they had a discussion about using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to start up scientific projects. This is a completely new way for me to think of funding a project, since in the past I knew of NSF grants or museums to fund the cost of a project. However, with sites like these, it seems to me that you don't have to be quite as accountable to those funding your research, which can be a boon. In this way, you arn't pressured by the higher-ups to find a specific solution, or be tied down with "pork barrel" stipulations just to please the people that gave you the money.It was also stated that crowdfunding a project with a smaller budget can lead it into a project that can get an NSF grant. A psudo example I can think of is how Roy Chapman Andrews auctioned off a dinosaur egg to help fund one of his expeditions.

My question is: is it better to have a lot of small poorly funded projects, or a few large big-budget projects?

Day one (kinda)
ubw_uwf
So, for an anthropology project, I'm supposed to keep a blog, or do something with social media. I've decided to do this thru two mediums. The first being notes on facebook. The second being a live journal with the same information/ideas/questions asked. I've chosen these two because of their similarities to one another, but also because I think of one as being a dead medium. I hope to compare the interactions between the two, and see which, if either, is a good medium to use.

For this first post, I'm going to reference an exercise we did in class while waiting for a guest speaker to arrive. We were all asked how and why we chose anthropology as our major.

I have always been interested in shipwrecks, or, at least since elementary school, which is a large enough portion of my life. Ever since I found a book about the Titanic I have been wondering what other historical objects lie benieth the waves. Originally, I thought only oceanographers looked for shipwrecks, since that's what Bob Ballard was, and did. It wasn't until my third or fourth year of college (first or second year at GVSU) that I understood that there was this thing called "Archaeology" and a portion of them, "underwater/maritime archaeologists" looked for shipwrecks, EXACTLY LIKE I WANTED TO! I didn't have to do geology/oceanography and then stumble onto shipwrecks, I could go out with the intention of actually finding what I wanted to find!

Which brings me to this question: how often does anthropology, or more specifically archaeology, steal away people from other majors into their fold? Is this because children arn't introduced to it in K-12? That we have an idea of what we want to do, but arn't introduced to it until later in life? Or is it people find out how awesome it is and then they want to join the awesome club?

The first day of the future
ubw_uwf
For a class project, I have to make a public site dealing with Anthropology and some such. I can't quite remember the details, and my brain is calling for rest, to which I reply "Soon, my child soon." But, what I hope to accomplish here is a dissemination of information, as well as spurring of intellectual thought. How effective I might be in this endeavor has yet to be determined.

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