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armchairs, & other topics



1)  I certainly irritated some people with my comment on "armchair 
paleontologists" depite the smiley face with glasses.  Perhaps the 
standard smiley face would have been better? Ah, well.  
2)  there were quite a few suggestions about how to improve the 
dinosaurs in JP-II, toys, etc. by forming an organization to help 
Speilberg, etc.  Actually, Speilberg got all kinds of free and not so 
free offers to act as consultants, including from Bakker.  Speilberg, 
however, picked Jack Horner.  I once asked Jack why he, not Bakker, got 
the job.  He said he wondered the same thing and even asked on the set 
one day.  Speilberg, who was standing nearby, said that he didn't need 
another prime donna.  Evidently word has gotten around.  Bakker managed 
to piss off Mark Davis who was here at the Denver Museum filming a NOVA 
program.  Mark told me that Bakker was trying to tell the light man how 
to set up his lights.  When he was ignored, Bakker exclained, "Nobody 
listens to me!"  To which Mark retorted, "That's OK, nobody listens to 
himwhen he talks about dinosaurs."
  Don't forget that the Dinosaur Society was created in part to act as a 
clearing house for scientifically correct information on dinosaurs.  Don 
Lessem accompained Horner to the JP set a few times.  The DS has its 
"seal of approval" that it puts onto items (toys, books, movies, etc.) 
that meet its standard of correctness. Except for items made by the DS 
(books, mostly) few items have the DS seal. Part of the problem I 
suspect is that the DS hasn't marketed itself very well.
3) on the topic of education, every museum I have ever worked at, from 
the smallest (Mississippi Museum of Natural History - staff of 12) to 
the largest (National Museum of Natural history - staff of several 
hundred) has an education department.  All also have out reach programs 
where museum educators go to schools to make presentations in the 
classrooms with objects or animals the children can hold.  These 
education departments also provide teacher kits to educate the teachers. 
These departments rely a lot on volunteers to help make the museum and 
outreach programs successful, so if you are concerned with education in 
today's school, why not offer to help out for half a day a week or day a 
month?  
4) despite what some may feel about paleontologists describing privately 
owned secimens, Phil Currie and I are writing a paper on the most 
complete skeleton yet known of the theropod Acrocanthosaurus. J.D. 
Stewart (LA County Museum) and I are describing about two dozen fossil 
fish from the Cretaceous Bear Paw Shales.  I have a manuscript with Matt 
Smith desribing the forearm of Sue.  And finally, Karen Alf and I just 
started preparing a dinosaur embryo belonging to those enigmatic giant 
18" long elongatoolithid eggs from China (I have invited Zhao to 
coauthor the paper but haven't heard back yet).  I My feeling is that 
making a written and photographic record of these specimens is more 
important than having nothing.  Besides, once the owners of these 
specimens realize the scientific importance of these specimens, the 
specimens tend to get better care.  The owner of the fishes now realizes 
that he can not adequately care for the specimens and is thinking of 
donating them to the Museum of the Rockies.
5)  I don't foresee museum displays being replaced by on line visual 
reality "museums" because of the enormous amount of money to get and 
maintain a mainframe, and to digitize images.  Besides, given a choise 
between looking at a photograph of the Grand Canyon and standing on the 
rim, isn't knowing you are looking at the real thing part of the awe?  
If you've never been to the Canyon, then I can not possibly describe the 
FEELING (not the look).