Category - Agonist

Blogging 3.0

Quo Vadis again again

Blogging 1.0 often replaced the plethora of special purpose forums that were apparently everywhere.

Blogging 2.0 consisted of some special-purpose sites, but the real blogosphere was comprised of many sites very much like The Agonist: covering a wide range of topics, multiple viewpoints, meaningful (and sometimes heated) discussion, generally outside of and frequently in opposition to the MSM.

It seems to me it’s time to ask, “What will Blogging 3.0 bring?” As has been noted elsewhere, the drop-off in activity is not limited to The Agonist but blogs with a specialized focus are still healthy. Generalized blogs are either attached to some other money-making entity, independently funded or dependent on reader contributions.
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Thanks

I know, I’ve been one poor correspondent, and I’ve been too too hard to find, but that doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind…

2014 was a tough year for everyone. I feel grateful and fortunate that I skated past a lot of crap but what I did endure was enough for two years.

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Agonist: The Book

   For over a decade of ups and downs, chaos and dedication, arguments and agreements, The Agonist has earned a place in the blogging community. We have had some marvelous writing, outstanding posts and spirited (to say the least) conversations.

   We are contemplating compiling a Best Of Agonist ebook, to be made available free of charge.

   We are investigating several distribution methods and will pick whatever provides the widest availabilty.

   To that end, we hereby invite all members to submit their favorite posts/writers and let us know via the site Contact Page, since relying on comments here might result in overloading the comment system and emails are easier for me to keep track of.

   Once we have assembled a reasonable list of posts, I will copy/paste/edit them by hand, since all the software I’ve seen to automate this process creates a very ugly and nearly-unreadable product. It will therefore take some time to put together.

   If there are those who specifically do not want their own posts to be included, we will certainly respect their wishes.
Furthermore, we will only publish comments on an Opt-In basis.
Your comments will NOT be included unless you specifically give us permission.

Nota Bene: There may be posts whose names you recall and which show up in a search but turn up missing when clicked on. (We have an issue in the site database). I may be able to retrieve some of these posts from the clone site, as the export/import seemed to have resolved the issue on the clone site. If your favorite post doesn’t display, note it anyway and I’ll try to track it down.

   In addition to providing the posts/comments, we may also ‘blurb’ the writers if requested, so that those who blog or write elsewhere may get a little ‘boost’ in visibility for their non-Agonist world. If that category includes you, feel free to provide us any bio or links you would like us to include.

Final Photos of the Summer

You can find the last batch of photos, about two dozen of old town Queretaro, here.

If you are interested in reading about Mexico you can go here. I’ll be writing up at least one more blog post on Mexico and probably another one on the whole archeology field school experience. Those you can find at www.seanpaulkelley.com.

Here are the links to all of this summer’s travel photos by adventure:

Queretaro

Belize Field School

Silk Road

Peoples of the Silk Road

Enjoy!

Diario de Camino


Queretaro was not a place I’d ever thought I’d visit and yet here I am—and that is a story I will get to in a bit. Yesterday, the 5th of August, was one of those days where everything came together—the magnificent drive from Orizaba (Mexico’s big brewing town) up into the Sierra Madre Oriental, the chain of mountains that runs roughly parallel to the Gulf Coast. I’d boarded the bus the afternoon before at 430 in Chetumal, on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico, at the southern end of the Yucutan.

I’d slept most of the night and woke up just outside Orizaba. At this point, my plan was still get to Mexico City and catch the first bus to Nuevo Laredo, walk across the bridge and catch the first Greyhound home. But for the long drive up Sierra Madre Oriental full of blue skies and lush green mountains I would have. The Gulf Coast is terribly hot and humid but once I began the climb it breaks. After a month of inland Belize heat I had no interest lingering. The mountains here are semi-tropical with deciduous trees dominating until half way up and then the conifers show up. The valleys are impossible—filled with switchback after switchback, large 18-wheelers resembling insects thousands of feet below. I’m pretty sure the towering snow clad behemoth I saw was Malinche, named after the Cortes’ famous interpreter and later wife. As I crest the mountains I’ve arrived on a broad upland plateau that’s almost semi-arid, deceptive-like, but not. To me it resembled the Motagua Valley in Guatemala. But then I saw fields of golden flowers, agaves, century plants and maize everywhere.

I speed past restaurants called “Benedicion” and “Esperanza” and “Dolores Milagro,” the Catholicism runs deep here. And then I speed past towns with names like Huixcolotla, Acatzingo and Tlaxcala and the Nauhua runs deep here too, especially with Tlaxcala, the red city, city of treachery, the great unconquered nemesis of the Aztecs and Cortes’ best allies. Had they not allied with Cortes there would have been no Conquest.

And then my mind wandered, lost in random thought. But the fields persisted: perfect rows of maize bordered by prickly pears or agave, sitting between crystal clear streams running down to the Rio Panuco and cypress lined dirt roads that wooden shacks made of tin roofs and some cinder block lead to. Shepherds punctuate a landscape of lumbering volcanoes obscured by clouds, ready to erupt at any moment.

The high plateau ended as it must. I begin climbing downslope to the Great Valley of Mexico, having taken Cortes’ route. I turned a switchback and then the entire valley came into view. Bernal Diaz’s words, one of Cortes’ soldiers, were never more apt, “And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and the other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico, we were astounded. . . It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before.”

What a world was lost by the Conquest.

More soon . . . in the meantime, photos can be found here.

Field School Update #3

Monday begins the fourth and final week of the Belize archeology field school. This has been an enormous amount of hard work. On Monday my digging technically ended. I am now in the lab analyzing the enormous hoard of ceramics we excavated. As I know nothing of Mayan ceramics it’s been a crash course in analysis and learning. I can now distinguish between Mt. Maloney Late Classic I and II and Terminal. Add to that some Belize Red Ash Ware, a boatload of Cayo unslipped (huge elegantly curved jars) the occasional Alexander’s Unslipped, Dolphin Head Red, Garbutt Creek and a few other and I’m actually learning.

On the last active day of digging our efforts were interrupted when a troupe of Howler Monkeys came in to inspect what we were doing. There were eight of them, just swinging around in the trees right above our excavated units, tossing poop and peeing where ever they wanted to. One almost pissed on my dig partner. He’s a douche and would have deserved it.

Random thoughts: having spent the better part of three weeks looking inside the innards of a Mayan pyramid I am not terribly impressed with their architectural prowess. It’s very rudimentary and ad hoc. On the medial terrace we were excavating, we were looking for and found what they call ‘construction pins’ which serve as a kind of support pier to keep the downward thrust of the pyramid from imploding. They do what they are supposed to do and have held up well. But as architecture goes they’re ugly and asymmetrical. That’s the weird thing about Mayan pyramids, or any city/group structure in general: they are accretive. Few were built in just one building spree like contemporaneous works, take the Samanid mausoleum for example. Elegant, symmetrical and nothing ad hoc about it.

One thing I am aware of every time I dig here in Belize is that the Mayans had no metal weapons, nor did they have beasts of burden like the horse. This had a lot to do with the construction techniques they employed. There are no large dressed stones like the pyramids in Egypt. Every stone in this pyramid could have been carried by one man. And the labor that went into their construction?

The heat is abominable. I am going to sleep in a refrigerator when I return home. The humidity is terrible too.

It’s been an interesting experience, alas, what little curiosity I had in the Maya has been fully satisfied. I’m a desert guy. Jungles are too hot, have too many bugs and are way too loud. There is never any silence in the jungle. Not like that you find in the desert for sure.

You can find the photos and videos of the Howler Monkey invasion here.

Enjoy!

The Road Beckons

Xunantunich's western friezeTomorrow morning I catch the southbound bus to Laredo at 900.

I’ll arrive in Laredo about 1145, walk across the border at International Bridge #1, take the city bus to the new primera classe bus station and catch the first available to Mexico City.

After that, who knows? I have to be in Belize on July 5th, which makes zipping across the Yucatan a tight schedule.

I’ll then be in Belize working on an archaeological dig for 25 days. I will leave August 1 for the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

And then, who knows?

I suspect you’ll be getting a boatload of posts on the ancient Mayans.

This is the best place to keep up with me while I am away.

Half The Population Cannot Remain Silent Forever

I need some help from the ladies.

How does one extrapolate, infer, or deduct and induct the role of women in a society 1,000 years old with pretty much nothing but textile fragments, kitchen and cooking utensils and a very, very thin literary record to go on?

I know I am missing something.

And I know it is right in front of my eyes because half the population of a city cannot remain invisible.

Suggestions welcome.

And please, keep the anti-patriarchal political grandstanding out of this. I am very aware of the problem and I’m looking into the solution.

So save it for another thread.

Pontifical Pondering

Paul VI, John XXIII, Pope John Paul II

Paul VI, John XXIII, Pope John Paul II

I was too young to know John XXIII. I knew his legacy as the order of the text of the Mass changed thru my childhood. His successor Paul VI seemed a distant Italian from another era. I was more interested in the adventures of Biggles and later Batman and Superman. John Paul I, I hardly noticed, even though I was increasingly attracted to matters Roman Catholic.

Then John Paul II erupted onto the global scene. I put this together as he was dying.

The dual canonization today appears significant for many, melding the conservative and reactionary wings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Yet I have moved on, and perhaps the Agonist has too?

Call for Diaries!

(originally published Dec 9, 2013)

Agonist Diaries are back!

One of the best features of the old Agonist was USER DIARIES. After considerable effort, we’ve restored that function to the new WordPress platform.

All Agonist registered users can now create their own Diary entries.  Posts can be on any subject but are subject to respecting the copyright of others and a few other obvious rules. Read More

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