December 3, 2014

“Although we wore four pairs of pants and two pairs of socks, we still felt cold,”

Filed under: Humor, Pop culture — acagle @ 8:11 pm

I hear ya, sister: College Student Documents Her Archaeological Life with Cartoons

“I was greatly influenced by The Secret of Grave Robber and Ghost Blows Out the Light, two popular Chinese novels with plotlines built around archaeology,” explained Li. “In my mind, archaeology simply consisted in digging ancient tombs, unearthing dinosaurs and evaluating antiques.”

However, when she attended university, Li found that what she learned in class was rather boring: The program focused primarily on the historical elements of archaeology and was not at all the great adventure she had imagined it would be.

Haven’t seen anything translated yet, I’m hoping someone does that at some point.

Jim’s Journal is, of course the best college comic strip EVER.

September 25, 2014

I’ll take a Galaga and a Battle Zone please.

Filed under: Historic, Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:25 pm

Historical nonetheless. And decaying. Comments Off

August 3, 2014

Atarchaeology update

Filed under: Historic, Pop culture — acagle @ 10:30 am

The Video Game Graveyard

In 2013, media companies Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox acquired the rights to create a documentary about the video game crash of the early 1980s and to dig the Atari dump site, if it could be found. As both an archaeologist (and Director of Publications at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens) and a child of that early video game boom, I contacted Fuel to ask about how the archaeology—excavation, documentation, reporting—would be handled. They invited me to take part, and I assembled a team that included Richard Rothaus of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and Bill Caraher of the University of North Dakota, veterans of excavations in the Mediterranean and the Americas, as well as video game historian Raiford Guins of Stony Brook University and historian Bret Weber of the University of North Dakota.

Not much new there, I don’t think, although I really like the photo of the dusty old game controller. They do make a good point about recent archaeology: Even from just 30 years ago we’re not all that sure what exactly happened out there apart from the basics of thinking there was something there. Be nice to get some of the witnesses to describe what they saw, too.

July 3, 2014

Should I be happy or sad?

Filed under: Egypt, Pop culture — acagle @ 8:30 am

Fox cancels sexy Egypt fantasy ‘Hieroglyph’ before premiere

Hieroglyph was an adventure series from creator/executive producer Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim, Clash of the Titans) that was was seen by some as Fox’s attempt to get into the fantasy genre in the wake of HBO’s Game of Thrones. In the words of the show’s official description, the drama followed a “notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, forcing him to navigate palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and divine sorcerers, as he races to stop the downfall of one of history’s greatest civilizations.”

This is actually the first I’d heard of it. I liked what was in the trailer, so maybe HBO or something might pick it up. That would, of course, mean more gratuitous nudity.

May 13, 2014

Lost civilization Civilization. . . .found. On iOS.

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 6:45 pm

Archaeology Adventure Lost Civilization now available for iOS Mobile “Offering a haunting blend of puzzle-solving and investigation, this archaeological thriller, accessible for all skill levels, challenges players to discover whether or not alien life exists on Earth as they explore the globe’s most far-flung corners. ”

There you go.

May 1, 2014

A bit of cultural trivia

Filed under: Modern artifacts, Pop culture — acagle @ 8:17 pm

So, Alan Parsons Project, Ammonia Avenue from way back in the 1980s. There’s the line that goes “And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray”. I always liked that line and was totally impressed that they’d come up with that.

And then I’m reading a book of English poetry (shut up) and come across “The Deserted Village” by Oliver Goldsmith (1770) where there’s this:

“And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.”

So, harumph.

March 30, 2014

Speaking of pop culture

Filed under: Media, Pop culture, Rome — acagle @ 7:44 pm

One of the hottest songs these days, apparently*, is this one:

That’s “Pompeii” by Bastille. I like it. The lyrics are rather a nice ode to the doomed city:

And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
. . .
We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settled around us

The “pose” obviously refers to the casts of the people (and critters) who were caught in the pyroclastic flow. The video doesn’t have a lot to do with Pompeii and Vesuvius

I wonder if, in the realm beyond death, the citizens of Pompeii are at all pleased that we’re still singing songs about them two thousand years after their passing?

* Actually, I’ve heard it quite a bit on one of the local stations, which is why I noticed it.

February 22, 2014

Gaming academia

Filed under: Academia, Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 4:05 pm

Well, not really. . .but close: How to effectively use Civ IV in higher education

Is there a place for games at higher levels of education? Schwartz would definitely argue yes, but he suggested that the role of the games would be different. Rather than developing basic skills, the games help give people an intuitive grasp of a subject, after which explanations for their intuitions can be supplied in the classroom.

. . .

The big surprise is that this effect spills over to commercial games that aren’t designed for educational purposes at all. Schwartz’s team had junior college students play about 15 hours of two different games: Civilization IV and Call of Duty 2. Afterwards, they were given short descriptions of real events from World War II that either focused on international relations or on tactical situations. The students were asked to formulate a series of questions they’d ask to better understand the circumstances.

Hmmmm. Not sure about all of this. But there’s this:

In this sense, Schwartz seemed to be arguing, games can help people develop an intuitive feel for everything from math to diplomacy. Classroom instruction can then build on these intuitions, providing explanations for specific behaviors and familiarizing students with the terminology involved in the field. In turn, the gaming experiences can make the classroom material seem less dry and more likely to have applications outside of class—and maybe outside of the virtual worlds of the games.

I can see using a game as something of an adjunct as it’s presented here, but I see that as a very minor role, especially in science: As much as you can make science “fun” by doing experiments and stuff, the basics are still theory and math, math and theory. Science is as much ideational as it is phenomenological; you really can’t do science without, for example, F=ma. I mean, it’s really kind of fun to drop things of similar size but different weight and watch them hit the ground at the same time, but that’s kind of a parlor trick. The real guts of it comes in applying the theory and the equations to tell you why things do what they do and how to use that to predict other things.

I think I’ve commented on Civilization before though. I like how it makes certain inventions dependent on other inventions — e.g., you have to have pottery before agriculture, for example — and it makes you consider tradeoffs, like if I build up my army I won’t have enough money to support agriculture or what have you. It can, I think, introduce students to history in a general way. But it’s limited because the rules of the game are very specific to the format. Still, I like the way Schwartz describes it as giving students an intuitive feel for the subject before getting into the nitty gritty.

February 21, 2014

Really, it’s practically a documentary

Filed under: Egypt, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:57 pm

Although I don’t quite get the Twinkies and Cheetos. . . .

UPDATE: Ha! Really!

January 18, 2014

A couple of historical items

Filed under: Historic, Media, Paleoanth, Pop culture — acagle @ 4:57 pm

Snipped from Althouse:

First, the history of Velveeta cheese

In America, James L. Kraft became perhaps the most recognizable face of processed cheese when he discovered that heated cheese with added emulsifying salts would form into a solid mass when cooled–and would keep much longer than non-processed cheese. Processed cheese was immediately welcomed by American consumers because of its consistent quality and increased stability.
In 1918, Frey figured out how to use similar technology to help recoup some of the factory’s waste. He learned that by adding a by-product of cheesemaking called whey, which is the liquid released from curds during the cheesemaking process, to the leftover Swiss bits, he could create a very cohesive end-product. Frey named the product Velveeta, and in 1923, the Velveeta Cheese Company became its own corporation.

I have no real history with Velveeta. I vaguely recall my parents always having some in the fridge but I honestly don’t recall ever consuming it. I don’t have anything particularly against it, but I don’t have much desire to eat it.

Also: What’s Wrong with the Paleo diet:

he paleo diet is hot. Those who follow it are attempting, they say, to mimic our ancient ancestors — minus the animal-skin fashions and the total lack of technology, of course. The adherents eschew what they believe comes from modern agriculture (wheat, dairy, legumes, for instance) and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables — foods they claim are closer to what hunter-gatherers ate.

The trouble with that view, however, is that what they’re eating is probably nothing like the diet of hunter-gatherers, says Michael Pollan, author of a number of best-selling books on food and agriculture, including Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. “I don’t think we really understand … well the proportions in the ancient diet,” argues Pollan on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast (stream below). “Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate — I think they’re kind of blowing smoke.”

He explains some of the rationale for cooking food and the changes that processing certain foods undergo to release more calories and nutrients. He makes the basic case, which I’ve made here many times, that there is no single “Paleo” diet: People in different areas and in different times ate whatever was available and it’s devilishly difficult to get anything like a precise read on what they were eating and in what quantities.

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