February 28, 2013

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival XXVI

New Finds
Graeco-Roman Tombs from Alexandria (via Ahram Online)

Brouhahas
Blog Posts
Articles
Bio-culture
  • 29 Jan - Greco-Roman Sex: Wilder & Weirder than Ours (HuffPo Blogs).  Author Vicki Leon is coming out with a new book, The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love, and Longing in the Ancient World and highlights some of her findings in this post.
  • 21 Feb - 1 Kitty, 2 Empires, 2,000 Years: World History Told through a Brick (The Atlantic).  In addition to shoes, I have a soft spot for hand/foot/pawprints on brick.  A weird brick with a cat footprint found at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Washington state is consistent with a manufacture date/place of Roman Britain.  The brick may have reached the western US via the Hudson's Bay Company in the early 1800s.


February 26, 2013

Bones - Season 8, Episode 17 (Review)

The Fact in the Fiction
Episode Summary
A former investment banker-turned-farmer stumbles across a dead body while aerating his field to grow kale.  The bones are heavily scavenged by coyotes, based on the three-cornered puncture marks, but presence of Nicrophorous americanus and its larvae give Hodgins time of death of 5 days ago.  Flattened anterior and posterior aspects of the femoral neck lead Brennan to suggest the victim was an Hispanic male.

At the diner, Brennan is confronted by a young man with a head wound, ranting about the thing he has for her in his bag.  Booth whips out his gun, the guy slides the bag across the floor, and a bloody head wrapped in plastic rolls out across the diner floor.  The guy is not a crazy, though, but the new intern, Dr. Wells, who tracked the coyotes to a den 6 miles away and retrieved the skull of the victim.  Wells is quirky, with a PhD in physics, master's degrees in astronomy and wildlife ecology, and is two credits shy of a master's in forensic anthropology; he has also passed the bar.  Brennan complains that wrapping the skull in plastic could have compromised the remains because of condensation, but Wells had already calculated how much time he had before condensation started affecting the remains.  Upon examination, Wells finds no cutmarks to the gonial angle of the mandible, the underside of the chin, or the cervical vertebrae, which means the head was most likely removed postmortem by scavengers.  They note a strange glow emanating from the inferior nasal conchae.

The glow came from glow-in-the-dark paint, which they traced to the still-unnamed victim's brother's body shop.  Alex Garcia identifies his brother, Benji, from... a facial reconstruction?  He may also have reported him missing?  Their mom is dead and their dad took off years ago; Benji broke up with his girlfriend Courtney around the time of his death.  Courtney denies killing Benji, as she loved him, but he only had eyes for his truck, a tricked-out '59 El Camino like the one his dad used to own.  Benji was smart, Courtney mentions, interested in time travel.  Courtney's alibi checks out, though.  Wells meanwhile finds a perimortem 20-mm contusion to Benji's occipital bone and slight scoliosis of the spine.  There is also an incomplete perimortem fracture of the right anterolateral tibia and fibula.  

Angela finds that Benji was talking a great deal with Professor Scott Hunter, including using his login information on the Collingdale University server, and had numerous files on his computer about time travel.  Booth and Brennan go talk to Hunter, who has a prior record of electrocuting a student, which is how he lost his job at the university.  Hunter denies killing Benji, accidentally or otherwise, but Brennan finds plenty of equipment in his home lab that could have electrocuted Benji.  They bring some of this equipment back to the Jeffersonian so that Hodgins can run some experiments and see if the current could have caused the fracturing to the anterior and posterior aspects of sternal ribs 9 and 10 and the anterior aspects of vertebral ribs 11 and 12.  After some goo splats Hodgins and Wells, they realize that electrocution was not what killed Benji.

Booth and Brennan go in search of more clues using Benji's phone records and tracking of his ATM withdrawals.  He also borrowed money from Hunter on the night he was killed.  Hodgins' spectroscopic analysis of the soil found on Benji's body points to serpentine soil, the kind found at a strawberry farm in Rockville.  B&B search the area and find a barn with Benji's car in it.  They also find another dead body -- rugged nuchal area on the cranium and convoluted sutures suggest Hispanic male, and the sternal rib ends suggest mid to late 40s.  Booth thinks it's amazing that the body is basically the same as Benji's, only 20 years older, because of course there are no other Hispanic males in D.C.

The second victim suffered a single gunshot wound to the inferior right thoracic region.  This is also what Hodgins and Wells conclude killed Benji, after getting Saroyan to shoot a gelled-up thorax.  Judging by skin marbling and slippage, Saroyan estimates that the second victim was also killed 6 days ago.  This man also has a roughly 20-mm contusion, but to the frontal bone.  Brennan and Wells find a comminuted fracture to the right patella of the second victim with evidence of remodelling, as well as slight scoliosis.  Wells thinks this could be evidence that Benji travelled through time, but Saroyan presents the DNA results: the man was Felix Garcia, Benji's father.  Injuries to the two bodies suggest that Benji was standing in front of Felix, their heads knocked together, and they were shot by the same bullet.

Alex Garcia admits that he told Benji his father was dead, since he was a deadbeat and a junkie.  Booth finds one of Felix's drug dealers, who happens to be Sidney Giran, a man who works at Alex's body shop.  Sidney denies killing Felix, but he did inflict the kneecap damage with his tactical baton, as striations on the bone show, because Felix owed him money for heroin.  The perimortem injury to Benji's leg, though, was made with more force and at a 45-degree angle.  Sweets and Booth return to the body shop to question Alex, who is working on a car with scissor doors.  Booth thinks that Alex was upset that Benji found out his father was alive and killed them.  Alex admits the whole thing: Felix returned and asked them for money.  Benji was going to give Felix his entire college savings, so Alex followed them to the barn at the strawberry farm.  He shot at Felix, but Benji jumped in the way to protect him.  Alex ended up killing them both.

Comments
  • Forensic
    • There is a suggestion that flattening of the femoral neck can suggest African-American ancestry (platymeric index), but I'm not aware of any clear skeletal indicators of Hispanic ancestry.  Also not sure why the flattening of the femoral neck would give Brennan any indication of sex.
    • The introduction of the new intern was just stupid.  Brennan does complain about how he presented her with forensic remains, but not nearly enough.  There is no excuse for bringing remains in to a diner, compromising their integrity and the case itself.
    • They never actually obtain a positive ID on the victim.  They track the paint in his nose to a body shop... and somehow know that it belongs to the victim's brother... who confirms it with... a facial reconstruction?  This was really sketchy.
    • As for the second victim, a rugged nuchal area does generally suggest male, although I'd want pelvic confirmation of that one cranial feature.  Convoluted sutures, though, are largely an ancestry marker for Asian heritage. Many Latinos, of course, have Asian heritage because that's where Native (North/South) Americans came from, but this means the complicated suture is not specific to Latinos.
  • Plot
    • I don't know about you, but if I were confronted with a job candidate who had four degrees in four wildly different subject areas, I wouldn't be itching to hire him.  I'd be questioning his sanity and ability to think clearly.  A PhD in physics and a law degree don't make one qualified to do forensic anthropology.
    • Not sure what "two credits short" of a forensic anthro master's degree is.  I mean, after coursework, you have to take comps.  And write a thesis.  Plus, aren't all the other interns either PhDs in forensic anthropology or PhD candidates in it?  Why is the Jeffersonian bothering with master's students?
    • Why doesn't Brennan get to pick her interns?  Seems weird to have Saroyan decide who gets to work closely with her... Also, she has bad taste, since all the interns are beyond arrogant and all (except Daisy Wick) are men.
    • If Prof. Hunter was fired from Collingsdale University over two years ago, how can Benji access their servers with his login?  Universities in my experience are all too happy to take away your email/library/server access the minute you graduate or quit.
    • Where did Saroyan get the DNA comparison from?  That is, was Felix's DNA on file somewhere?  Not clear how they IDed him, even though it was clear from the plot that the second victim had to be the first victim's father.
  • Dialogue
    • "On the island of Vanuatu, you could be cannibalized for disobeying your tribal chief." "And you could be forced to give your child to my clan to settle this petty conflict." "You're familiar with the Vanuatu?" "My knowledge is vast, which is why I'm here, right? So don't try to cherry-pick facts to win an argument."  -- Pretty much what I want to say to Brennan every week.
    • "Theoretical physicists can be pretty weird..."
    • "Since you have a degree in complicated systems and imaginary numbers..."

Ratings
Forensic Mystery - B-.  This episode was fine.  The mystery was ok; it was pretty obvious that the two victims were related, and that the time-travel thing was a very bad red herring.

Forensic Solution - B-.  Again, a fine episode.  The osteology was reasonable, except for the Hispanic ancestry thing.  The victims were never positively IDed from dental records or DNA (unless Felix was), which was disappointing.  Cause of death was pretty reasonable.

Drama - B-.  Nothing to get too worked up about.  The new intern is obnoxious.  Booth wants to mine meteors.  Everyone discussed where in time they'd go back to, and Angela and Saroyan would go back to have sex with Angela's ex-husband (because of course?).

February 24, 2013

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 7&8 (Readings)

Audio Challenge

Margaret Mead takes to the radio
Anthropologists have not specifically embraced audio media through the years. We have a picture of ethnographers tape-recording (and now digitally recording) their interlocuters, but past presentations of these data were often made in print rather than attempting to incorporate the glorious variation in intonation, cadence, and meaning of language around the world. Jane Goodall stands as an exception; her pant-hooting at nearly every public appearance always gets a surprising reaction from her audience. A small number of anthropological podcasts exists, as well as parody songs (generally in the educational realm), but little is being done on a discipline-wide basis to integrate audio media into anthropological research, presentation, and outreach. In these weeks, we will explore the ways that audio is used in anthropology and create audio-based projects for various audiences, in an attempt to garner interest from earbud wearers attached to their ever-present iPods and phones.
  • Assignment 1: Find a good example of audio media covering an anthropological topic. YouTube and the iTunes store are good places to start.
  • Assignment 2: Alone or in a group, create something based wholly or in large part on audio - ideas include a podcast, a call-in interview with a UWF professor (e.g., NPR's Science Friday), a parody song, an audio lesson or course design (e.g., MOOC), or a downloadable walking tour of UWF campus/archaeological sites ("haunted tour"?). Be prepared to present it, justify your design decisions and audience, and take critiques and criticisms.
Reading
  • Anderson, J. 2010. The past in your pocket: mobile media and interactive interpretation. English Heritage Research News 13:17-19.
  • Bessire, L. and D. Fisher. 2012. Introduction. In: Radio Fields: Anthropology and Wireless Sound in the 21st Century, Bessire & Fisher, eds., Ch. 1, pp. 1-47. NYU Press.
  • Brittain, M. & T. Clack. 2007. In the camera's lens: an interview with Brian Fagan and Francis Pryor. In: Archaeology and the Media, T. Clack and M. Brittain, eds., Ch. 5, pp. 125-134 (esp. p. 129 on radio). Left Coast Press.
  • Catlin, L. 1999. Anthropology radio. Anthropology News 40(6).
  • RadioFrance. Tips for radio interviews.
  • Various. How to make a successful podcast. (Check out several links to see what they all have in common.)
  • Various. On good/bad radio interviews: Chris Lowis blog, NPR, DigitalSpy.
Links
(As always, follow our livetweets using #shareanthro on Mondays from 1-4pm central time.)

February 19, 2013

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 5&6 (Discussion)

For the last two weeks, we've been talking about presenting anthropological information in print, both in terms of news media and in terms of posters/brochures/flyers/etc.  I probably shouldn't hold off on blogging about our discussion until the end of the unit, though, as now I can't seem to find my notes from last week...

We talked a great deal last week about dealing with the media and about how we might approach different audiences.  That is, an audience of colleagues at a conference is different than an audience of the general public.  And yet, reporters are increasingly showing up at research conferences and covering stories that they think are of wider interest.  The line between public and for-colleagues-only is increasingly blurring, and we were largely in agreement that making every presentation accessible to a general, educated audience was the best option whenever possible.  One student suggested that anthropologists might want to learn a bit about journalism and public relations (e.g., how to write a press release) so that we can get better at disseminating our message (without jargon!) in a way that interests the general public.  Not sure yet how to put together a workshop on this topic, but I thought it was a good idea and will be mulling that over for the future.

We also collected examples of bad presentations (generally posters) and discussed what turned us away.  These are my favorite: Doing It Wyoming Style; Who Will Speak for Them? (as featured at Savage Minds); Conservator: The Invisible Hero; and Landscape Dynamics at Monticello (even though I have a soft spot for the place I did my first field school, that can't make up for a title in Comic Sans).  We got a lot of our information and inspiration from Zen Faulkes' Better Posters blog.

Yesterday, we had our first official challenge -- the Print Challenge!  In true Project Runway fashion, each student presented his or her design, and the rest of us offered compliments and critiques in person and on our spiffy Presenting Anthropology cards... (well, really they're just 1/3-sheet slips of paper; hey, I'm at a public uni; no money for fancy card stock here).  I was generally impressed by what the students turned out.  The top three are...

Second runner-up -- Evan Springer.  Evan created a flyer for an entirely fictional Anthropology Career Day here at UWF (our colors are blue and green, by the way). I was a bit disappointed to learn that it was fictional, as the flyer made me want to attend.  I loved the concentric circles (I'm a sucker for circles), but more than that, I could see this design modified slightly and extended to an interactive web page and to other documents that could be handed out or shown at a career day event.  His use of the small icons for date/place/contact was also clever.  Evan's research centers on the anthropology of academic dishonesty, and he blogs about it at Academic Misconduct.


First runner-up -- Tristan Harrenstein.  For his social media project, Tristan is attempting to integrate archaeology and FourSquare, with the blessing of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.  I can't wait to see how he does over the course of the semester getting the Pensacola public involved in local archaeological sites and museums through this social networking platform that I don't know much about.  Tristan's flyer is simple but eye-catching, as the off-kilter cross is distinct but also makes sense with the FourSquare theme.
And the winner of the Print Challenge -- Gregg Harding.  Gregg is currently working at a mid-19th-century industrial brick site.  One of his challenges is to make archaeology accessible to students at local Milton High, and also to get them to do archaeology themselves.  It's a very exciting public archaeology project, and Gregg's presentation (for the upcoming Florida Anthropological Society conference) is visually interesting without being overwhelming.  We suggested some minor edits to this (e.g., desaturate the background a bit, fix the logo transparency issues, and change the spacing in the contact area), but we all liked it a great deal.  For more on Gregg's work, check out his blog Building Heritage Education.


All told, we had a great showing in class yesterday.  There were brochures, posters, business cards, flyers, and infographics.  It was neat to see what the students came up with, and the winners above definitely deserve a round of applause.

Our next unit is on audio, so I can't wait to hear what they come up with!

February 18, 2013

Bones - Season 8, Episode 16 (Review)

The Friend in Need
Episode Summary
A homeless man brings a locked suitcase to a pawn shop, trying to sell it.  As he pries open the lock, he reveals the contents: a giant mass of blood, bone, and decomposing human flesh.  The suitcase is transported to the Jeffersonian, where Brennan immediately identifies the victim as male based on the 90-degree gonion (sic) angle (where the mandibular body intersects with the ascending ramus, Brennan says, like no one on the team has ever taken an osteology course).  The lack of fusion of the sphenooccipital synchondrosis tells Abernathy that the victim was in his mid-teens.  Hodgins suggests that phytoplankton and krill could tell where the body was dumped, but then he disappears for the next 40 minutes of the show, never to bring up that point again.  The fracturing on the bone appears to be mostly postmortem, which is odd since the body was in a locked suitcase the whole time, not banging around on anything.

During the first commercial break, the team apparently positively IDs the body using dental records, as Sweets and Booth head to Martin (Manny) Mantecone's house to give his mother the bad news.  Her friends, Blonde Mom and Kat Martin are also there.  Kat was the last person to see Manny, at a big party two weeks prior.  Booth gets word from Saroyan that Manny's tissue revealed high levels of ketamine, or Special K.  Manny's mom insists he wasn't into drugs.  A search of his room shows Booth that Manny was "fixing" cell phones, and he had a huge wad of cash as well.  Angela works her magic on the cells and finds that Manny was texting Kat quite a bit but also a guy named Nick Pavonetti.  Booth questions Nick at his place of employment - Pavonetti and Sons Moving and Storage.  Nick was the frontman for Manny's operation, selling the "fixed" phones.

Abernathy continues to check the remains for cause of death.  He notices two depressions bilaterally on the frontal bone and one on the left parietal, which Brennan thinks were holding points from a halo traction brace, which apparently Manny was in as a kid due to a car accident.  (This was never explained.)  She also points out osteophytes on one of the cervical vertebrae at the transverse foramina.  Somehow this gives her cause of death, namely that cervical nerves 3 and 4 were severed, causing asphyxiation because of their connection to the medulla.

Throughout the episode, Kat is searching for the person who raped her at the party.  She confesses the rape to Sweets, who tells the cops.  The cops then decide to subject Kat to an invasive medical exam for a rape that happened two weeks prior.  Sweets shares his past with Kat and vows to help her find her rapist.  For a while, they think it's Manny, since he had Special K on him, and Kat's mother confirms that Manny was being creepy.  But histological examination of Manny's liver reveals he didn't take Special K, it was just with him at the time of his death.

Angela meanwhile pores through a site called HipstaShotz looking for clues about Manny's death.  She finds him looking at Kat, and getting into a fight with the kid she was dancing with ("the Saunders boy").  Booth brings the Saunders boy in for questioning, because apparently he's 18 and doesn't need or want his parents there.  He admits to yelling at Manny, but he didn't hit him and just started dancing with another girl.  Later, Angela searches the photos for Kat, and they isolate her in the backyard, upset after Manny got into a fight with her dance partner, and see her being drugged and taken to the garage.

Abernathy finds a pattern in the bone fractures.  There are six avulsion fractures that are symmetrical and nearly parallel, likely sustained after Manny was dead.  The patterning of the fractures is a little more confusing, with injuries to the scapula, T verts, rib, and iliac crest.  Abernathy suspects localized force imparted by three sets of evenly-spaced linear bands.  Hodgins finally gets something to do--apparently there were particulates in the suitcase that he thinks are from a polyfiber woven material used in straps or belts.  When ratcheting belts are placed around a suitcase, they would produce enough force to crush Manny's skeleton in the way the Jeffersonian team was seeing.

Since Nick works for a moving company, Booth and Brennan go question him.  Brennan finds the straps, with blood still present on them, and Booth arrests the kid.  They question him at the FBI (another kid who's apparently over 18 and doesn't feel the need to call in representation).  Nick says that someone paid him and Manny paid in Special K for the phones; Nick then had plenty of the drug to roofie Kat.  He raped her, but then Manny found out and got mad.  Nick then killed Manny and dumped his body with the Special K in the suitcase in the lake.  Booth suggests that he can't charge Nick for both rape and murder, so they get Nick to confess to rape.  And then somehow have him also on a murder charge (that he didn't actually confess to?).  The green eye that Kat kept seeing in her nightmares was a green evil eye pendant that Nick wore around his neck.

Comments
  • Forensic
    • Oh jeez.  Not even sure where to start with this episode.  So very confusing.
    • The age and sex estimation was just horrible.  A 15-year-old boy (especially the one shown in the pictures) would likely not have a sexually dimorphic gonial angle yet.  Besides that, gonial angle is a terrible estimator of sex; any number of things can cause changes to that angle that aren't related to sex. (Also, it's gonial angle, not gonion angle.  Gonion is a term, but it means the osteometric point, not the angle.) Points to the writers for using my favorite osteological term of all time, the sphenooccipital synchondrosis, but negative points for their strange assumption about time of fusion.  That joint (between the sphenoid and the occipital at the bottom of the skull) is probably the very last to fuse in humans; in most people, it's closed by the mid-20s.  So there's no way an unfused sphenooccipital synchondrosis would narrow the age down to mid-teens.  Iliac crest?  Sure, I'd buy that.  (But the iliac crest on the fake skeleton was totally fused when they were talking about injuries, so...)  Also, the fake mandible they were using had three molars; a 15-year-old is very unlikely to have had his wisdom teeth come in yet.  Eesh.  Just terrible all around.
    • They positively ID'ed Manny based on dental records.  During the commercial break.  Argh.
    • Was the fact that Manny was in a car accident and in traction as a kid ever mentioned before Brennan dismissed Abernathy's findings?
    • I was completely unclear on the point of the osteophytes.  Yes, those could definitely result from a childhood neck injury.  But how were they cause of death?  Osteophytes in the transverse foramina... dislodged?... when someone hit Manny?  And if they're seeing osteophytes, how do they know that those caused an injury?  I mean, it's just a complete guess; there's no evidence that that was cause of death.
    • When Abernathy tries to point out the left parietal, he indicates the right (direction is based on the sides of the person's body, not how you're looking at him).
    • So the avulsion fractures actually made a lot of sense.  It was a good forensic touch, but unfortunately with this episode, it was equivalent to shining a turd.
    • Poor Hodgins gets nothing to do until the very end.  He mentions figuring out where the suitcase was dropped, but no one cares because they positively ID'ed the victim during the commercial break.
  • Plot
    • Why do the Saunders boy and Nick both say they were surprised that Kat was only 15?  I mean, she went to school with them.  They knew she was a sophomore.  Also, why would it matter?  (Don't make me look up age of consent in... Virginia?  DC?  But generally three years isn't a big deal, even if one person in the relationship is 18.)
    • So if the two guys who were questioned by the FBI were indeed 18 already and seniors in high school... wouldn't they still be living at home?  And neither one wanted their parents there with them?  Is that not allowed?
    • Do police generally do medical exams on rape victims two weeks after the fact?  I don't know the stats on longevity of foreign DNA in one's system, but I think it's only a few days at most. Just seems cruel to make Kat go through that.
    • Wait, why did Manny owe Nick money?  Wasn't Nick the one selling the phones, then splitting the money with Manny?  And where did Manny get Special K from in the first place?
    • Someone needs to explain to me the whole "gotcha" confession at the end.  Makes not one damned bit of sense to me.
    • Oh right, and there was a plot about Abernathy still dating Saroyan's adopted daughter, Michelle.  It is not worth mentioning, except that we discover Saroyan is still seeing Aristoo, which, well, is also not worth mentioning.
  • Dialogue
    • "Puritanical sexual values are shown to encourage secretive and sometimes deviant sexual behavior."  -- Brennan
    • "In high school, I did a report on the effects of alcohol on muscle coordination."  -- Brennan, the party animal (wait, wasn't she smoking cigarettes with boys last episode?)
-->
Ratings
Forensic Mystery - D.  Not even sure what was going on in this episode.  Aside from the avulsion fractures, the remainder of the forensics was completely sloppy.

Forensic Solution - D.  Again, Brennan seemed to have knowledge the viewer didn't about Manny's medical history that was pretty relevant to the case.  Except that knowledge was delivered in a very confusing manner that doesn't make much of the forensic solution sit well.

Drama - C-.  The Kat plot was more compelling than anything else, of course, hence the PSA at the end from Emily Deschanel.  The forensic drama wasn't very interesting, and the Abernathy-Michelle relationship was a really odd, poorly-thought out parallel to Kat's situation.

February 14, 2013

Osteological 3D Scanning/Printing Update

For the past month or so, UWF grad student Colin Bean and I have been tooling around with my MakerBot Replicator 2.0.  I'm most interested in printing bones -- namely, pathological ones that we don't have in our osteology collection here -- so Colin's done some 3D modelling of bone and I've printed a variety of test cases.

When we were getting started, we were mostly printing other people's models.  So we have the MakerBot printing a whole hand (about 75% complete in this picture):

Hand bones (file)
The problem with printing multiple bones at once, though, is that the filament doesn't completely stop extruding.  This results in a hairy mess.  I'm not particularly interested in shaving my phalanges.  So I did manage to print some individual bones, and they turned out pretty well, without any supports or a raft:

1st metacarpal and distal phalanx

I got excited at that point and wanted to print something larger.  The main problem with bones, though, is that they're not flat.  This means it's hard to print them without supports (extra bits of plastic).  I found this file for a full-size scapula without supports; to print it requires the scapula to be in two pieces, sectioned along a flat plane.  This worked out pretty well, although no amount of sanding could blur the glue joint.  Still, in a few hours' time, I had a complete, full-scale scapula.

Scapula in progress (file)
Finally convinced we could print bone, we got ambitious: Colin 3D scanned this animal vertebra I found in the woods, created a 3D model, and we printed it.  Wonky support plastic aside, it came out much better than we'd expected (to be quite honest):


Circling back to my main goal in getting the MakerBot, I want some copies of pathological bone.  We don't have much beyond the normal pathologies in our teaching collection: osteoarthritis, healed fractures, periostitis.  While we are planning to scan and print some of these, I also downloaded 3D models from the University of Bradford's Digitised Diseases project.  You can download the full 3D model (including texture, which doesn't print but is neat), and the .obj files can simply be loaded into MakerWare (MakerBot's printing software) and printed.

This morning, I printed a model of ankylosis of proximal and intermediate hand phalanges.  Here are side-by-side pictures of the model and my print:








It was printing pretty well until the filament spool got snagged (which happens altogether too often), and I didn't notice for 10 minutes.  So I had to stop the print job at 85% complete, as there's no way to make the printer go back a bit and re-do what it missed.  (The printed bone is sitting on the flat, incomplete side.)  One thing that was a bit problematic: figuring out the right dimensions at which to print the pathological bone (which, of course, doesn't share the same dimensions as a normal bone).

So we're getting pretty good prints, but the support structure is still an issue.  I am considering upgrading to the new MakerBot 2X because it has a dual-head extruder.  This means that, in addition to being able to print in two colors, it's possible to print two slightly different materials -- so the support structures could be made out of dissolvable filament, thereby no longer requiring me to shave random bits off the bones.  (Honestly, my fingers can't handle much more of the shaving.  I keep nicking myself with the scalpel because I'm clumsy and impatient.  Hence why I never wanted to be a doctor.)

More updates to come as we hack on this MakerBot some more.

February 12, 2013

Bones - Season 8, Episode 15 (Review)

The Shot in the Dark
Episode Summary
Brennan and the Jeffersonian team are investigating a body found on the rocks under the New River Gorge Bridge.  The slanted temporal bone, prominent nasal spine, and ectocranial suture closure suggest the individual was male and in his late 30s or early 40s.  Numerous fractures are consistent with a fall from a great height.  Based on insect activity, Hodgins places time of death at 5 to 6 days prior.  Saroyan plans to take samples for a tox screen, then deflesh the body for Brennan to take a closer look at the bones.

Brennan heads home for dinner and to put Christine to bed.  Booth attempts to convince her to go on a family vacation to a cabin in the woods, but Brennan dismisses the idea as impractical with a toddler who won't remember the trip anyway.  Booth accuses Brennan of lacking spontaneity, and Brennan decides to head back to the lab, walking out in the middle of their argument.

At the lab, Brennan starts examining the bones.  Hal the security guard pokes his head in to learn how it's going.  Brennan tells him that injuries to his right supraorbital margin suggest he was murdered before being thrown off the bridge.  She finds a fragment embedded in the sternum, but before she can examine it, she is shot by an unknown assailant.  Booth shows up just in time, though, and gets her to the hospital.

While Brennan is in surgery to find the bullet and repair the damage, she hallucinates seeing her dead mother.  Saroyan is inexplicably scrubbed in for the surgery, and she's trading cranky barbs with a super sarcastic surgeon.  Once Brennan is stable, Saroyan heads back to the Jeffersonian to autopsy Hal's body, as he was found dead in the stairwell, because they could not find a bullet in Brennan, nor an exit wound.  Hal also has no trace of a bullet or exit wound, and the tissue around the bullet's path is cauterized.  Brennan wakes up and complaints about coldness at the wound site, which leads Hodgins to suspect the killer used an ice bullet.

Clark meanwhile notices the fragment Brennan removed from the sternum of the unknown victim, and Hodgins identifies it as a piece of taser prong, a match for Hal's taser.  Angela's facial reconstruction leads them to identify the first victim as Johannes Groot, and Sweets and Blonde FBI Woman check out his apartment.  It's nice, with very expensive tchotchkes and suits, and they find evidence of a struggle and numbered confetti from a taser.  

Hodgins has been doing experiments to see if an ice bullet could make the kind of injury seen on Brennan and Hal, but ice either shatters or melts when shot.  He suspects that the bullet was made of something denser than water, namely blood frozen in liquid nitrogen.  Saroyan and Clark continue to investigate Hal's body, and they notice an antemortem wound above the ear: it's infected, and the particulates inside the wound are sent to Hodgins, who identifies them as 12th century Cretan wood with gold paint.  Angela retrieves the only 12th century Cretan artifact in the Jeffersonian's collection, an icon of the Archangel Gabriel, but there are no indications it was used to hit someone.  Hodgins notices a small hair embedded in the paint, which his magical mass spec tells him belongs to a North American squirrel.  They suspect the icon is a fake and think the Jeffersonian's restoration expert, Dr. Batuhan, may have been in cohoots with Hal and Groot to sell antiquities on the black market.  Batuhan has no alibi for his whereabouts at the time Brennan was shot, and he has the means to make frozen blood bullets.

Brennan goes in for another surgery, to remove the antigens from the posterior portion of her 8th rib, where the blood bullet embedded itself.  When she comes out of anesthesia, we find out that the blood in Brennan was a match for Batuhan.  He is arrested for murder and attempted murder.

(I was not at all looking forward to this episode, and predictably, the parts about Brennan's mother Christine are fairly ridiculous.  First, the writers are pinning seemingly Brennan's entire nature on one thing her mother said to her before disappearing.  I don't doubt that Brennan was seriously scarred by that, but it is extremely lazy character development to offer a deus ex machina instead of complex psychological assessment.  Second, the metaphor of the house/outside the house becomes increasingly unclear throughout the episode.  Brennan leaves through the door early on and wakes up in the hospital; then later Christine leaves through the door... back to heaven?  And finally, for all my griping about Bones, for eight years, Brennan has been a character never before seen on TV: female, highly intelligent, rational, and an atheist.  I could identify with all that if the writers would stop making her so inconsistent.  And using this episode to basically tell the TV audience that Brennan was wrong -- that there is a god, there is a heaven -- is absurd.  It was nice to have Brennan and Booth as foils and lovers, to show that just because two people don't agree on how the world works, they don't have to hate one another.  The writers have undone all of this with just one episode.)

Comments
  • Forensic
    • Ectocranial suture closure is a very imprecise method of estimating age-at-death.  And I'm not sure how "slanted" temporal bone or "prominent nasal spine" got her to male.  Bizarre.
    • Brennan laid out Groot's radius and ulna wrong (as usual), not in anatomical position.
    • Love how Hodgins' magical mass spec tells him everything he could ever want to know about a tiny piece of fur.  That's totally how a mass spec works.
    • Hodgins also needs a mass spec to identify the fragments from Hal's skull, but when he sees paint flecks in Batuhan's lab, he doesn't even use a magnifying glass to assert they're the same.
    • Soooo, anyone know if that's the way blood really works?  I mean, a bullet made out of blood has, what, a tablespoon of blood in it?  And the human body has around 10 pints of blood total.  What are the chances that a small amount of blood of a different type would cause all the problems Brennan was having?  I'm thinking this is wildly unrealistic, but I'm no expert in medicine.  Also, can antigens "embed" themselves in bone?  This is all very sketchy to me.
  • Plot
    • New River Gorge Bridge?  That's like 5 hours from DC.  Hal drove 5 hours away to dump a bloody, decomposing body?
    • Booth is supposed to be putting Christine to bed, not heading to the Jeffersonian.  (I don't know about you, but I do NOT mess with my kid's bedtime, or I incur her wrath.)  Also, when did he get his own access to the lab?  Wasn't there some heated discussion a couple seasons ago, where Booth wanted unfettered access but the Jeffersonian wouldn't give him access to the forensics platform?
    • Why would the lead surgeon let Saroyan scrub in for Brennan's surgery?  And who would allow her to autopsy Hal, seeing how close she is both to him and to Brennan?  The characters are all overstepping their boundaries this season, and it's not pretty.
    • How many security cameras were disabled?  Not all of them, clearly, or we wouldn't see footage of Batuhan leaving and then reentering his lab.  Why didn't he disable that one too?
    • How did the Jeffersonian people know that Hal was interested in Brennan's case?  Was that before he turned off the security cameras?  Or did Batuhan turn off the cameras?
    • Why in the world did Batuhan use his own blood?  I mean, it's way easier to get all the blood you need for making bullets from a butcher shop.  And that can't be DNA traced to you.  Duh.
    • Wait, so, they found the fake icon in a storeroom, but Batuhan was working on the real one?  And no one thinks to ask him, uh, why is there a fake?
    • The entire plot is fairly ridiculous; I mean, if Pelant had returned and shot Brennan (or had someone else do it), that would make some sense.  But introducing two new random characters and making them shady Jeffersonian coworkers is lazy writing.
    • (I do love how Saroyan always has a stylish, tailored Jeffersonian jumpsuit [see pic], when everyone else has to wear bulky, oversize ones in the field and coats in the lab.)
  • Dialogue
    • Would Brennan and Booth not resolve an argument?  She's hyper-rational, which means sticking out a fight to talk it through.  Also, Booth just wants a vacation; what's wrong with that?
    • To Booth, "Your place is here, not working the case." Pot/kettle/black, Cam.  Seriously.
    • "My middle name is danger...  It's actually Thomas." - Clark
    • "I had to catalogue some papyrus Hellenistic epigrams; we're having an exhibit on the Posidippus scroll." - Some random woman who can't pronounce Posidippus or talk about epigraphy properly.
    • "No one ever tests blood on the floor at a crime scene; they just sweep it away." - I think you mean "mop," Hodgins.
    • Brennan told her mother twice that she loved her.  Christine never said it back.  That was kind of sad.
Ratings
Forensic Mystery - C-.  This whole episode was quite confusing.  I'm not sure they ever fully explained the mystery.  Clearly, they'd figure out by the end who shot Brennan, and clearly she'd be ok.

Forensic Solution - D+.  Blood bullet?  Really?  Also found it amusing that Brennan figured out in under 30 seconds what Groot's complicated cause of death was, when it normally takes them the better part of an episode.

Drama - D.  The scenes with Brennan's mother were snooze-worthy.  The writers' heavyhandedness in showing Brennan she was wrong about an afterlife was excruciating.  Most of the rest of the episode was simply bland... and full of glowing, sparkly fades.  Eesh.

February 9, 2013

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 5&6 (Readings)

Print Challenge

Over the next two weeks, we will discuss both the ways that anthropologists present their message in printed media and the way that anthropology is presented by journalists and bloggers "in print." While many scholars are moving beyond traditional research posters and static PowerPoints and getting involved with the more interactive media we'll be looking at in coming weeks, there is still a need to be able to reach an audience through print. We'll take a look at what goes into a printed poster/pamphlet and what makes a bad news story, while generating ideas for best getting anthropological information out through printed media.
  • Assignment 1: Do some web-surfing to identify ways that anthropologists are using printed material to explain their research and opinions.
  • Assignment 2: Find an example of a good poster and an example of a bad poster (or pamphlet, flyer, etc.). Put links to them on the wiki. Be prepared to explain your reasoning.
  • Assignment 3: Create something printed (or print-able; i.e., something we can show on screen) - could be a poster, pamphlet, brochure, flyer, story, osteo/artifact-biography, science news story, PowerPoint/Prezi, etc. Be prepared to present it, justify your design decisions, and take critiques and criticism. If possible, post a link to your printed material on the wiki; otherwise, post a description so others can comment on it.
Reading
  • Bird, S.E. 2009. Introduction. In: The Anthropology of News and Journalism, S.E. Bird, ed., Ch. 1, pp. 1-20. Indiana University Press.
  • Bird, S.E. 2010. Anthropological engagement with news media. Why now? Anthropology News 51(4).
  • Boyd, W.E. 1995. Media coverage of an archaeological issue: Lessons from the press release of initial radiocarbon dating results of a possible pre-Cook European ship at Suffolk Park, norther New South Wales. Australian Archaeology 40:50-55.
  • Brittain, M. and T. Clack. 2007. Introduction: Archaeology and the media. In: Archaeology and the Media, T. Clack and M. Brittain, eds., Ch. 1, pp. 11-66. Left Coast Press.
  • Divale, W. 1976. Newspapers: some guidelines for communicating anthropology. Human Organization 35(2):183-191.
  • Kulik, K. 2007. A short history of archaeological communication. In: Archaeology and the Media, T. Clack and M. Brittain, eds., Ch. 4, pp. 111-124. Left Coast Press.
  • Norman, D. 1990. The Design of Everyday Things. Doubleday. (Read Chapter 1.)
  • Perry, S. 2009. Fractured media: Challenging the dimensions of archaeology's typical visual modes of engagement. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 5(3):389-415.
  • Pollock, S. 2005. Archaeology goes to war at the newsstand. In: Archaeologies of the Middle East, S. Pollock & R. Bernbeck, eds., Ch. 5, pp. 78-96. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Gay Caveman / Responses by: CNN, LiveScience, Killgrove, Hawks, Joyce
  • Bigfoot / Responses by: Disotell, Hawks
  • Arsenic Life / Responses by: NatGeo, The Atlantic, NY Times
  • BetterPosters.blogspot.com, for before-and-after attempts to make posters better. Read all.
Links
(As usual, follow our livetweets using #shareanthro on Mondays from 1-4pm central time.)

February 4, 2013

Bones - Season 8, Episode 14 (Review)

The Doll in the Derby
Episode Summary
Two rookie cops called to investigate a breaking and entering in a slaughterhouse stumble upon a dead person.  The Jeffersonian team investigates and thinks that the killer's plan was to dismember the body and dispose of it down one of the large drains.  Based on insect activity, Hodgins puts time of death at about 8 hours prior.  Based on the size and robusticity of the cranium, Brennan thinks the victim was female, and striations between cervical vertebrae 5 and 6 suggest a crosscut saw was used to dismember her. Saroyan thinks the killer doused the body in corrosive liquid, which seems to have burned the hand of the rookie who accidentally fell into the remains.  Hodgins takes a big sniff of the rotting flesh and thinks it's formic or acetic acid, likely a household cleaner.  He and Saroyan spray the remains with water to halt decomposition of the flesh, much to Brennan's chagrin, so that Saroyan can do a tox screen.

At the Jeffersonian, Wendell examines the cleaned bones and notes that all cuts were made at joints.  Inbending and stellate fractures to the frontal and temporal bones are suggestive of blunt force trauma.  There's also an antemortem fracture to the iliac crest, calluses on the left 5th and 6th ribs from recurring trauma, a fracture to the left nasal bone, and several missing front teeth.  These injuries are consistent with domestic abuse.  Saroyan finds a dental bridge; she runs it for a serial number to identify the victim and finds that the victim was Melinda Perkins, who until recently was married to Dr. Bradley Perkins.  

Angela meanwhile has taken Melinda's fancy sports watch to see if she can pinpoint time and place of death. The watch recorded Melinda's heart rate, which was substantially elevated for the two minutes prior to her death.  The GPS places Melinda across the street from the slaughterhouse around the time of her death.  Booth and Brennan investigate and find that it's a roller derby arena.  Melinda skated under the name Pummel-ya Anderson, with teammates Ivana Kickass and Emily Kickinson.  The manager, Nick Bennett, seems pretty guilty, but he and Emily note that Ivana didn't show up for practice that day.

Booth calls Ivana in for questioning.  She wasn't at practice, she says, because she is going to school to be a physical therapist and had class that day.  She also confirms that Melinda was separated and that she had lived a wild life, with lots of drugs and lots of men.  Saroyan meanwhile manages to get a tox screen from the decomposing remains, and she finds that Melinda had hydrocodone in her system, but also ecstasy, marijuana, and meth.

Angela decides to go undercover as Smackie Kennedy to see if she can find out more information.  She manages to make the team and does some investigating while in the locker room.  Hodgins found particulates in Melinda's head wound from polyurethane and sandarac resin, leading him to believe that she was killed with a skate.  Angela checks the team's skates with a black light, but they all have blood on them.

The length and directionality of the blood spatter on Melinda's shirt suggest to Saroyan and Hodgins that she was stabbed in addition to being beaten.  Brennan and Wendell profile the dismemberment tool: the false start kerf on the left distal ulna is at 70 degrees, meaning it wasn't made by a rip cut saw.  The striae at the cuts on the femora suggest very fine teeth, and the breakaway spurs and deep gullets(?) lead Wendell to conclude that Melinda was dismembered with a wood saw.  Another laceration to the right acromion of the scapula seems to have been made perimortem.

Angela goes out to the bar with Emily Kickinson to get more information.  Emily talks about how things went missing from the locker room and how everyone assumed that Nick was skimming off the top.  Booth brings Nick in for questioning, but he claims he didn't kill her.  He had been sleeping with her, but he thought she was the one skimming.  No one asks for his alibi.

Wendell pores over the sternum and finds microfractures, suggesting someone did CPR on Melinda.  However, the postmortem cuts to the femora are in line with the femoral artery on each side.  The killer knew where to cut the legs and how to administer CPR to prevent arterial spurting; basically, knew how to hasten death.  This leads Booth to suspect the ex-husband again, as he is a doctor.  Hodgins, though, finds on the victim's shirt evidence of vitreous humor.  She was stabbed in the eye before she died.  Nickel, copper, and lint in the bony eye socket are likely from a key.  This clears the husband, who apparently has no keys at all for anything.  Brennan suspects one of the roller derby ladies, as using a key in self-defense is a tactic often taught to women.  Booth and Brennan confront the derby team and ask them to hand over their keys.  One key looks like it could have created the wound, but it has no residue on it.  The key belongs to Ivana, and it goes to the team van.  Brennan swabs the ignition keyhole and finds blood.  Ivana confesses to the murder, claiming she caught Melinda stealing.

Oh, right, and Booth is secretive about helping out sick kids who have neurofibromatosis at the hospital, and Wendell is worried that he's only 29 and his life hasn't amounted to anything yet.

Comments
  • Forensic
    • Size and robusticity of the skull are even less specific than usual on this show.  But since the ID was confirmed through a dental appliance, I suppose I can let that slide.
    • "Residual" striations to C5 and C6?  I didn't realize striations could be "residual."  Not sure what that means.
    • Really, Saroyan can do a full tox screen on a victim whose flesh is gooey, falling off her body, and has been soaking in household cleaner for 8 hours?
    • Wendell is extremely precise about noting the perimortem fractures and antemortem injuries, but he just mentions "three missing front teeth."  Not which teeth they are.  Not even calling them "anterior" teeth.
    • Apparently, the 220 minus age formula for predicting maximum heartrate was discredited... in 2001.
    • The fake skeleton was laid out weirdly this week.  As usual, the radius and ulna were switched (radius goes on the outside in anatomical position).  But there was something odd about the femora... like they'd sectioned the superior and inferior parts of the bone near the epiphyses then flipped the shaft upside down.
    • Unclear why Brennan and Wendell were talking about whether the tool used to dismember Melinda was a rip cut or crosscut handsaw, since in the opening scene, Brennan figured out from the skull that it was a crosscut saw.
    • What was the cut to the acromion about?  And was she stabbed with the key in her shoulder?  Then whacked on the head with a skate?  Confused about the timing of the injuries that caused her death.
    • I also don't get the whole eye injury part.  What exactly did Hodgins swab to find particulates? The bony eye socket?  And he found lint in it after the body was decomposing in caustic liquid and then the skeleton was macerated and cleaned?  How did Brennan know that the bus key was the shape that made the injury?  What evidence on the body gave her information about the shape of the weapon?
  • Plot
    • Jeez, why do people who find dead bodies always shriek?  It's a dead body.  It's not going to hurt you.  You don't need to run away from it screaming.
    • Jeez, Hodgins, stop sniffing stuff!  Don't you remember what happened the last time you did that?
    • Jeez, Angela, stop prying into Brennan's life.  She may share details of her own life with you, but friendship doesn't mean she has to share her partner's life with you.  And stop attempting to guilt-trip her.
    • Jeez, Cam, haven't you ever heard of doctor-patient confidentiality?  Or HIPAA?  I mean, you are a trained medical doctor.  Seriously.
    • Jeez, Wendell, you don't really believe that Saroyan was deputy coroner for the city of NY at 29, do you?  Or that Hodgins had already finished his, what, four different PhDs by the age of 29?  Just to demonstrate what real anthropologists are like: at 29, I had just gotten enough grant funding to go into the field to start my dissertation research.  And I actually went through grad school relatively quickly.
  • Dialogue
    • I didn't realize you could say "asshat" on primetime TV.  But it was in, like, the first sentence of the show.
    • "The remains were found in an abattoir?"  "A slaughterhouse is fine, ok?  French doesn't make murder any classier."  I think that we all need to use fancy French terms to describe mundane objects from now on, n'est-ce pas?

Ratings
Forensic Mystery - C+.  Considering the team was still trying to solve the murder up through the final minutes of the show, the mystery was decent.  The grade would have been higher, though, had it not been painfully obvious that the roller derby chick who was a physical therapist was the killer.

Forensic Solution - C+.  The victim was positively ID'ed through a dental appliance, and there were enough clues to her antemortem and perimortem injuries to make the solution slightly interesting.  Not all of the clues made sense, though.

Drama - C-.  No one believed Booth was sick.  No one cares about Wendell's age.  Angela didn't get to do much in her undercover role.  It was a pretty ehhhh episode of TV tonight.  Probably better than next week, though, when Brennan dies and gets religion.  Not looking forward to that.  At all.

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 3&4 (Discussion)

This two-week mini-unit of Presenting Anthropology has been about social media, which expands on the conversations we had in class on open access, digital humanities, and Web 2.0.

Last week, we were privileged to have Charlotte Noble (USF) skype in to tell us about her inspiration for This Is Anthropology (the Prezi and now the AAA-sponsored website).  Charlotte emphasized the importance of getting a message out through multiple social media platforms, of crafting a message that's accessible and doesn't rely on industry-specific jargon, and of reacting and being present rather than waiting for others to step up.  It was great to have Charlotte reiterating what I'd been telling my students, and we circled back to her comments this week, when the students presented the seeds of their semester-long social media projects.

Please consider following one or more of these 15 awesome graduate students, who are writing about a wide variety of anthropological topics on various platforms:

Each student presented a bit about his/her social media platform(s), goals for the semester, inspirations among other public anthropologists, and ways they plan to quantify/qualify whether or not their attempt at public outreach through social media was successful.  I suspect most of these blogs/twitter accounts will evolve over the course of the semester as the students get feedback and begin dialogues with their followers and the public at large.  So please do comment on their work -- let them know what kinds of things you want to see more of, what kinds of questions they can answer for you.

I am definitely looking forward to finding out more about their anthropological interests over the course of the semester, as most of them are doing work in areas I have little knowledge about (particularly underwater archaeology).  I'm also happy that the majority of the students in my class are women, as women are still underrepresented in science blogging (see Shema et al. 2012).

We didn't have much time for general discussion about blogging this week, nor did we have a particularly fruitful conversation about "public" anthropologists based on the reading last week.  I suspect that if I had put the discussion towards the end of the semester, after they'd worked on their social media outreach for a while, it would have been much better.

But we press onward... the next two-week unit is on presenting anthropology in print (and the reading list for that will be up soon).  I plan to bring in my research posters from the last 10 years.  Not looking forward to unrolling the terrible poster I presented at the AAPAs in 2002...

February 2, 2013

Looking for an MA program in (bio)archaeology...?

The University of West Florida is accepting applications into our master's program through February 15 each year.  Our department boasts two biological anthropologists (including your humble author), one cultural anthropologist, and five archaeologists (maritime and terrestrial) in the Department of Anthropology, and another six archaeologists in the Archaeology Institute on campus.  We're located in Pensacola, Florida, which is an amazing beach town with great climate and loads of things to do every week (we're currently gearing up for a big Mardi Gras parade!).  The city also boasts the headquarters of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and public interest in and support for archaeology in town and at the university is very high... UWF's president, Dr. Judy Bense, is an archaeologist herself.  Our record of placing graduates in either a PhD program or a job is about 90%.

So if you're interested in an MA program, please get in touch and/or apply.  Applications received by February 15 will receive full consideration for funding (tuition and/or stipend).  Come be an Argonaut.  Seriously, just look at this guy!


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