Archive for July, 2006

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Ethiopia and an urban Shaman

July 17, 2006

Some people visit Egypt to explore the pyramids. Others travel to Russia to see the Kremlin.

Hank Wesselman, an anthropology professor at Sierra and American River colleges, has made multiple visits to what may be his favorite destination — Ethiopia.

A researcher, Wesselman has worked with an international team of scientists for the past 11 years in that nation’s Middle Awash Valley, surveying the ancient eroded landscapes of eastern Africa’s Great Rift Valley, seeking answers to the mystery of human origins.

This spring, in a paper published in Nature, a respected British journal, the team said it had found fossil evidence for the evolutionary relationships between the three earliest human species, spanning several million years, but all in one place: Ethiopia’s Middle Awash Valley.

Releasing the results of 10 years of research, the team said the oldest fossils included those from the following species:

• Ardipithecus kadabba, which lived nearly 6 million years ago.

• Its descendant, Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago,

• Its descendant, Australopithecus anamensis,which lived in the valley between 4 million and 4.2 million years ago.

“These three forms reveal the existence of a succession of species, ancestors and their descendants, within our uniquely human lineage that begins almost 6 million years in the past, culminating with the appearance of our own species, Homo sapiens, 160,000 years ago, and we’ve got all the intermediate links … ,” Wesselman said.

Ardipithecus, the earliest form that appears about 6 million years ago, Wesselman said, is most likely the famous “missing link” that Charles Darwin predicted would eventually be found — the link between apes and humans.

It’s a theory that has found support among a number of other scientists.

He holds a doctorate in anthropology from UC Berkeley and is widely respected by his peers.

He has been criticized by some, however, for mixing science with the supernatural.

Wesselman, who calls himself “a shaman in training,” has written several mystical books with a scientist’s perspective. Some of the books focus on his “out-of-body experiences” that, he says, have shown him a new world dimension.

“Hey, listen, there’s a part of me that still doesn’t know what to do with these experiences,” Wesselman told The Bee in 1995, after he had published “Spiritwalker,” his first book about what he calls his “expanded awareness.”

At Sierra College, Wesselman may be best known for teaching “Magic, Witchcraft and Religion,” an anthropological class that probes religion and magic in the lives of traditional people.

Full article here, worth registering for.

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You know you’re from rural Wisconsin if…

July 16, 2006

You know how to polka , but never tried it sober…

You know what knee-high by the Fourth of July means.

You know it is traditional for the bride and groom to go bar hopping
between the reception and wedding dance.

You know the difference between “Green” and “Red” farm machinery, and would fight with your friends on the playground over which was better!

You buy Christmas presents at Fleet Farm.

You spent more on beer & liquor than you did on food at your wedding.

You hear someone use the word “oof-dah” and you don’t break into
uncontrollable laughter.

You or someone you know was a “Dairy Princess” at the county fair.

You know that “combine” is a noun

You let your older siblings talk you into putting your tongue on a
steel post in the middle of winter.

You think Lutheran and Catholic are THE major religions.

You know that “creek” rhymes with “pick”.

Football schedules, hunting season and harvest are all taken into
consideration before wedding dates are set.

A Friday night date is getting a six-pack and taking your girlfriend
shining for deer.

Saturday you go to your local bowling alley.

There was at least one kid in your class who had to help milk cows in
the morning… phew!

You have driven your car on the lake.

You can make sense of “upnort” and “batree”.

Every wedding dance you have ever been to has the hokey pokey and the chicken dance.

Your definition of a small town is one that only has one bar

The local gas station sells live bait.

At least twice a year some part of your home doubles as a meat
processing plant.

Pop is the only name for soda.

A few of these are true for me.  I remember that we could take a week or two off of high school for deer hunting.  And I was on a bowling league, Thursdays after school.  My dad and I were Wisconsin State Bowling Champs in the father-daughter category.  My mom still has the trophy.

*thanks, Greg!

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Hooray for Independence Day!

July 5, 2006

I took the kids to a lovely holiday gathering today, we had a great time. David and Annette have a fabulous 1700s farmhouse, decorated in a style that I adore. Friends, fireworks, food…it was good fun. Above is an example of the outdoor decor. Keep clicking for more photos. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Witchcraft now legal in Zimbabwe

July 3, 2006

In 1899, colonial settlers made it a crime to accuse someone of being a witch or wizard – wary of the witch hunts in Europe a few centuries earlier which saw many people burned at the stake after such accusations.

But to most Zimbabweans, especially those who grew up in the rural areas, it has been absurd to say that the supernatural does not exist.

Full article here.

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The Tombstone Guy

July 1, 2006

I just came across a flyer from a show a saw about 10 years ago by photographer Robert Zott.  Laugh-out-loud photos of gravestones. “Shoot first, ask questions later.”