Scholarly Roadkill

Mitch’s Blog

Welcome to Scholarly Roadkill

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mitch’s blog, Scholarly Roadkill, is part of a consulting business, Scholarly Roadside Service, detailed on this website.The blog will cover topics I'm interested in, not only scholarly publishing, but archaeology, dance, the university, writing, scholarly life, and the absurdity of the 21st century universe.  We have no facility to sign up followers, but if you click Like on our Facebook page, you’ll get announcements of new posts. Guest blogs welcomed, just let me know what you want to write about. 

Teaching Barefooted

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Spending as much time as we do on Vancouver Island, why not teach an archaeology class or two in their community education program for seniors, Elder College? I had enjoyed teaching at a similar program at the local junior college here in the Bay Area. Students showed up on time, politely waited their turns to speak, and brought a wealth of lifetime learning, tourist experiences, and half-remembered National Geographic specials with them. They also didn’t show up to class with their burrito lunches and their dog to snack on what gets…

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Breaking News: Aliens Built the Pyramids

Sunday, August 02, 2020

“Aliens built the pyramids obv”

Ok, you see a lot of this on Twitter. But the source? Some 15 year old conspiracy nerd sitting at his computer in Muskegon? No. Elon Musk.

Yes, that same Elon Musk, someone who has innovated in technology to build creative new cars, space ships, computer programs. Of all the people who know what can be accomplished with enough wealth, power, labor, technical support, and time, it would be him. And Fourth Dynasty pharaohs had way more of all of those elements than Musk can even dream of having.  

And, being Elon Musk, his…

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Writing Sistan

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A  big day yesterday. I wrote the first bits of my book Archaeology of the Helmand Valley and Sistan Basin. This is the project I’ve been working on for four years now, pulling together the publication of an archaeological project I was part of in the 1970s when I was a budding graduate student.

I’ve been through all 40 notebooks, 10,000 photographs, 4000 slides, and 250 site drawings. I’ve presented over a dozen papers on the project. I’ve had people create over 30,000 scans of the material from the project. I’ve excavated Bill’s garage-- William B. Trousdale, director…

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Virtually My First Conference

Thursday, July 23, 2020

I know academic conferences. All shapes, all sizes, all fields, all levels of expertise. I’ve been to conference venues on 6 continents, over 400 of them. At one point, I calculated that I had spent 4 years of my life in conference hotels. So the one this week shouldn’t have been a big deal. Except that it was my first virtual conference.

That changes everything. We’re all going to be doing virtual conferences for a while, so I thought my first impressions might be useful to some who haven’t experienced them yet.

The invitation came via a colleague in Rome…

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Catbituary, Lucky 2005-2020

Sunday, July 12, 2020

We didn’t misname her when we called her Lucky. There was a history there. Her mom, Leah, had been called Leo until she delivered a litter to our friends Sherry and Jack. They were anxious to get rid of an unexpected passel of kittens, so we were strong-armed into taking one. The timing was right, our senior cat Boots was old and ill and would not last much longer. 

Lucky was warm and personable, providing lots of lap sitting and purring. And then Minnie came along. She seemed nice enough at first, but turned alpha cat and soon Lucky was…

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How a Copyedit Review Ruined My Day and Enriched My Life

Friday, May 22, 2020

One of every author’s nightmare days. The copyedited manuscript comes back pointing out all the inconsistencies, poorly drawn phrases, missing references, and unintelligible sentences. (Why didn’t the copyeditor understand that sentence?) That day was yesterday. Rather than it being a faceless edited file coming from the publisher’s automated workflow program, I had the advantage that my copyeditor was Michael Jennings, with whom I have worked for well over a decade at Left Coast. His eye is as good as it gets and I know I can trust his edits.

Michael’s copyediting was for the book I just edited from…

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Truth is in the Basement

Thursday, May 07, 2020

If this were an average street in Boston, Dino and Joy’s food truck would not elicit a second glance. Drinks on one side, sandwiches and salads on the other. The grill for burgers and meat ball sandwiches is in the back.  Dino does the grilling, Joy collects the money. And have for the past 27 years. Or 57, if you count the fact that Dino’s father did this for three full decades before they took over.  No trendy, flash-in-the-pan kale burritos here. Just basic Boston comfort food.

Why a second glance? Because Dino, with his South Boston r’s bouncing off…

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Culling the Copies

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Hoarding is in an archaeologist’s DNA. After all, that is our job. Find old stuff and hold onto it. It is the source of regular ridicule from my kids, for whom discarding something usually means just pushing the delete button. One of the chief “when are you ever gonna use this again?” taunts from my kids concern the bank of four overflowing filing cabinets in the garage, each a meter deep and 5 drawers high. What is in them?

Photocopies. Photocopies of articles, of chapters in books, of research papers sent to me, of articles from National Geographic, Antiquity, and…

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Dreaming in Tarakhun

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I had been to Tarakhun, I just didn’t remember it well. Until today.

It was a late stop on our three day trip to the Afghan/Iran/Pakistani border as part of our archaeological work in Afghanistan in 1975. A memorable trip in the company of Khan Hajji Nafaz. The desert between our field camp and the border was a no fly zone unless you were accompanied by Hajji Nafaz, who had family and political contacts all through the area. He knew which unmarked dirt tracks would get us to Jali Robat and the border station. He had Mohammad Osman,…

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