March 14, 2006

In late Pleistocene, marine environment finds you!

The above is taken directly from my class notes on today's Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology lecture. See, from about 20,000 years ago to about 6,000 years ago there was a constant rise in sea levels due to the melting of glaciers and polar ice. Given the gradual slope of most shore environments, a single vertical meter becomes a colossal horizontal change bringing the shore hundreds of meters farther inland. In the Japanese archipelago, the change amounted to 140 vertical meters, causing people living in extremely inland areas to suddenly have access to marine environments. Since marine environments are famously resource-rich and able to carry higher populations than other environments, this provides one of the explanations for how the Jomon, Japan's prehistoric hunter-gatherers, supported a complex society and occupational specialization without engaging in agriculture.

The thing about me and learning is that it works best when a fact can be combined with some kind of obscure in-joke which is actually too ridiculous to forget. This is why I should never be allowed to teach classes.

Posted by dianna at March 14, 2006 02:28 PM

Since when has a predilection for corny jokes been an impediment in academia? If anything, it should help you get on the tenure track.

Posted by: Zach S. at March 14, 2006 08:58 PM

Okay, can somebody please explain to me why "In Soviet Russia, T-Shirt Wears You" is funny? Where's the joke there? What does it mean? Nobody's ever been able to satifactorily explain this to me. Just like that stupid "Tournee du Chat Noir" poster that everyone had in college.

Posted by: holohan at March 14, 2006 09:53 PM

Wait, Holohan, is the problem that you know the original joke and object to it being overapplied to contexts where it doesn't make any sense (like the got-blank? problem), or that you don't know the original joke? I can't help you with the former, but with the latter, if necessary, I'll do my level best.

Posted by: Dianna at March 14, 2006 10:17 PM

i don't know the original joke. help me.

Posted by: didofoot at March 15, 2006 03:03 PM

Since Dianna is too busy "learning" and "taking midterms" to answer questions in the comment section, here goes:

Temporary comedy sensation Yakov Smirnoff made a career in the 80's with material all about being an immigrant from Russia. He specialized in what some people call the "Russian Reversal": the joke construction which went, "In [place name - usually America], you [verb] [object]. In (Soviet) Russia, [object][verbs] you." An example is: "In America, you watch TV. In (Soviet) Russia, TV watches you!" The presence of "Soviet" in the above construction depends on whether Smirnoff was performing before or after 1991, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

This was parodied by the Ben Stiller Show a long time ago, but more recently, I saw it on an episode of "Family Guy" - part of their bread-and-butter, "Hey! Remember that thing from the past!" material.

The Russian Reversal also shows up on a lot of In-ter-net message boards as one of those "inside jokes" shared with thousands of other virtual people. Nowadays, the joke construction doesn't require a pun, or sense-making, and can be applied to subjects having nothing to do with Soviets or confused immigrants.

Posted by: sean at March 15, 2006 03:34 PM

Dianna - It was the underlying joke that I didn't get. I'm okay with over-application of jokes to unrelated subjects, with the two glaring exceptions of "Got ____?" and "[Superlative] [nound] EVER!"

Sean - Ahhhhh.... Thanks. That's been bugging me for a while. The shirt joke still isn't funny, but at least now I know where it came from.

Now can someone explain to me why every woman who went to college between 1997 and 2003 bought the "Tournee du Chat Noir" poster?

Posted by: holohan at March 15, 2006 03:47 PM

noun, not nound. damnd it.

Posted by: holohan at March 15, 2006 03:48 PM

Maybe the poster shop was out of "Kiss by the Hotel de Ville"?

Posted by: sean at March 15, 2006 04:28 PM

Sean, your explanation of the joke was much more comprehensive and historical than mine would have been. Thank you. You did, however, skip my favorite version of it. See, in America, you go out and find a party. In Soviet Russia, party finds you!

Somehow it's always the exclamation mark that gets me. I was introduced to the whole idea through Jacob, whose delivery is really much more gleeful than the joke calls for. I love it.

Posted by: Dianna at March 15, 2006 06:10 PM

nound of the baskervilles!

(damn that was a stale reply)

Posted by: Erik at March 21, 2006 12:55 AM