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Various Stuff

Been away for most of the past couple months and boy have
things gotten a bit testy out there. Chill out people!

Despite what some think, there is no great plot to make
sure birds are dinos. I don't know one dino paleo person
who, if confronted with a fossil that would seriously throw
a monkey wrench into the dino origin theory, wouldn't put
out the publication right away and giggle the whole time at
the mischief he/she has just caused. Saying that including
birds within the dinos somehow makes them a taxon of lesser
value is like saying that Philadelphia is a better city than
Washington, DC because you can drive right to the middle of
it on Interstate 95 rather than take some accessory roads
like you have to do in DC. Now Phillly may be a better city
- I certainly enjoy my time there, although Bob Walters and
Tess Kissinger have lots to do with that - but it is not
because you have to travel fewer routes to get to the

And let's remember the past and not get too misty eyed
about Linnean taxonomy. Those of us who have some years
behind them remember all the awful wastebasket groups that
abounded within the system and how difficult it was to do
many useful things. Cladistic methods can, at times, be a
pain in the butt, but many of us are awaiting a better way
that just never seems to come from those who complain so
loudly about it.  Actually, I still see some use for many
standard categories as successive samples of the species
level that makes Sepkoskian (actually Raupian, oh actually
Simpsonian) studies quite useful for many things. We just
can't get so hung up on levels and anthropomorphizing levels
by equating them with quality or their being
interest-worthy. Otherwise we'd all be entomologists.

Now, on a lighter note, just got back from Chicago and
Milwaukee (and Philadelphia for sculptor Paul Sorton's
wedding). Saw Sue in person and was mightily impressed by
the specimen. From the standpoint of emphasizing the size of
the animal - which is what the marketing of Sue has
emphasized - I'm not crazy about the pose of the mount,
especially in the incredibly expansive room it is in.
Tourists around it where constantly commenting on how
"small" it was. When I asked them how they would feel having
it chase them, they inevitably said "good point". However,
from my standpoint as a paleontologists it is tough not to
love the old lady, although she obviously had a really tough
life given the pathologies. Liked the mount better than the
photos I saw of the mount, a lot more. From a paleo stand
point, I think Chris has done a remarkable job around the
specimen and am looking forward to the monograph. Congrats
on Chris' new job, by the way.

While in the area Hans Larsson and and Chris Sidor
defended. Good for them and we are looking forward to Chris'
company starting in January on a post doc. Saw Rud Sadleir
and spent an afternoon with him and Lanzie (John Lansendorf)
at Lanzie's art-filled apartment. John's my hero in that he
has even less wall space left than I do - the only wholes
are where he has removed stuff for the Trex art show 
currently at the Field - well worth the effort to see it.
John's apartment is dino art central and I;m looking forward
to seeing all in Mexico City. Saw my first live amphisbaenid
at the Shedd Aquarium and was thrilled. The wonderfulness of
that experience was a bit hidden to most of the tourists,

Spent a couple days with Rolf Johnson, one of my other
favorite people, and we crawled around the Milwaukee Public
Museum - a nice one with lots of wonderful dioramas - but
especially Rolf's Torosaurus mount and videotaped the joints
with voice over by Rolf and I and Linda deck on how we
should use and modify the mount to do Triceratops here. The
miniature bones we did really made a difference in all this
and pete kroehler and Steve Jabo are busy at work rebuilding
Mr. T.

Andy Farke is finishing an internship here - they made him
work on spiders to round his training out a bit, although he
was very well-prepared before he got here [and he already
had dinos covered, well covered] - and his talk is today on
clade diversities. He's been a pleasure to have here and we
started some work together - on ceratopsians, of course.

A month ago was in Marin County, Calif and was in the park
they filmed the Endor scenes of the Star Wars films in. Was
pretty much a Mesozoic feel as close as I have ever gotten
with some REALLY BIG TREES! Was cool.

That's it for now, but remember to chill out a bit. Life's
too short to have big arguments while typing. Discussion,
yes, but - out of context here - if it's not fun you're not
doing it right.

Ralph Chapman