Flammable Challenge

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Tue, 14 Jun 1994 20:02:33 -0700

can think of a couple of different reasons for the lack of posting on
my topic, one closely related to an earlier thread on this list -
my signature. Yes, I am no longer an "academic" although I once was.
Yes, I make my living by developing applications using Informix 4GL.
It's not entirely un-anthropological, though. My applications deal with
processing codified human behaviour (I write applications programs for
attorney offices - Please keep your fingers on your irony-filter
toggle switches). At one time I was a student of Geography. I acquired
a Master's Degree by climbing around in alpine and sub-alpine regions of
the Sierra Nevadas (in the mid to late '70's). I would have stayed in
academia except that I had developed a particular skill at alienating
figures of authority (ie Thesis Advisors and Department Chairs). My areas
of interest included Post-Pleistocene climatic fluctuations and glacial-
periglacial geomorphology. I also spend a good deal of time with topics
of environmental perception. And, while I was waiting for my thesis to be
approved I wandered around the halls of the anthropology department talking
about migration patterns of circumpolar peoples.

I was fortunate, for a while anyway, that I was able to find employment
as a geographer. I went to work for the Corps of Engineers as a
"Professional Cartographer" (there is a great deal of irony in this that
I won't go into here). I got to spend a great deal of time developing
Geo-Based Information Systems long before personal computers had come on the
scene. Number crunching was done on a large Burroughs computer in the back
sections of the EROS Data Center. I even got published (see Assoc. of American
Geographers, 1980). I taught a 400 level course in Remote Sensing of
Environments at Portland State University. I started with 25 students and
ended with 3. It seems that I actually wanted them to go to the library to
find articles. And, I actually wanted them to complete a project. I guess
I was just expecting too much. Anyway, my skills at alienating figures of
authority kicked in again (Section, Branch and Division Chiefs) and my job was
eliminated. Reagonomics were cited as the reason. I've been involved in a
whole slough of other things since then and now, here I am playing with
computers to make a living. Danny Yee, you may enter this stuff in your
database if you really think it's appropriate. I'll even send you a resume'
if you'd like.

I feel fortunate, however. My venture into programming has lead me to the
Internet where I've found a plethora of exciting mailing lists that remind me
of my old Grad school seminars. And you know, the more things change the more
they stay the same. What do I find here but alot of whining about how the
world owes us a living. It sounds like so many baseball players and movie
actors. I suppose one can blame it on the summertime. Most practicing
anthropologists are out in the field doing research while the ones left behind
can only bemoan the fact that no one wants to pay them to have fun. That's
what it is, you know, fun. If this were truly a democracy and everybody had
a vote on what the government spends it's money on, there probably wouldn't
be any Departments of Anthropology. About the only "higher" education you'd
find would be Accounting Departments and some fields of Engineering. So, I
think you all should be grateful for whatever slice of the pie comes you're
way. Anthropology and indeed all fields of human inquiry will exist whether
or not society decides it wants to pay for it. The search for truth and
understanding will persist with or without fiscal remuneration. Some people
just can't help themselves, rather like artists or authors, it just has to
be done.

For those who think they may be the best qualified or most appropriate for
a job or position, I would refer them to Mark Twain's piece _Extract From
Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven_. Just for some perspective, you know.

I must say here, however, that I did receive some wonderful pieces of private
mail in regard to "The Invention of War". I couple would have made me blush
if anyone else had seen them. To these people thank you very much. For
those of you that thought about my questions but didn't respond, I'm sure
you are familiar with processes of cultural development and can at least
hazard a guess on a couple of the points mentioned. To the rest, I'm sorry
there is no money in this and posting to this topic will not get you any points
towards achieving a stable academic position anywhere. But it might stretch
your brain a little bit.

For the insecure - Go Ahead, Flame Me
For the rest - consider this a good natured challenge.

----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <sholmes@netcom.com> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------