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Re: A slap on the hand [another rant]



Not directed at anyone personally... and I don't plan to continue  
participating in this thread, at least not onlist. I just think a few  
things should be said in public. 
 
(Just for the record, to state the obvious, academics who behave like  
Marsh & Cope did ought to be punished for the same things in the same ways  
as anyone else. I haven't read so far that anyone doubted this.)  
  
HP Tim Williams wrote:  
  
> In response to Michael Schmidt, a friend of a friend asked me to forward  

> this to the list.  
>  
> "I agree totally with Mr Schmidt.  I often like to wander the Bighorn  
> Basin,   
> digging up the biggest and sexiest fossils I can find.  Do you have a   
> permit, I hear you ask?  Hey, I pay taxes.  I don't need no permission   
> to explore federal land.  What is this, Soviet Russia?  
  
The USA are a free country. Right? Fine. My freedom ends where yours  
begins. And vice versa. Don't I have the freedom to be a nerd and do  
research on just those fossils, including the biggest ones?  
  
> But enough about those pencil-necked fat-cat bureaucrats trying to rob   
> us hard-working collectors of our hard-earned cash.  
  
Hard-working? Just digging cash out of the earth? I know this is an  
oversimplification and an understatement, but compared to how hard a  
university professor or school teacher works... and how such people get  
paid... ouch. (Ignoring extreme cases like the one professor of the 
Institute for Food Science here who has to deal alone with 2,000 students. 
No diploma theses at that institute...) 
  
> And anyway, who cares if the skull is in less-than-perfect condition?  
> Except a bunch of nerds in white lab coats.  
  
Let the nerds rule the world. The normal people have been proving for  
7,000 years that they can't do it. I'm serious.  
  
>  They'll probably want me to "donate" the skull to a Museum or   
> something.  That's right, I won't get a cent for my labors.  What is   
> this, Soviet Russia?  
  
No -- because according to what little I know, museums and universities  
actually got real money in the Soviet Union. Blame the government (oh, not  
just the US one, by far not) for not funding _public_ institutions so they  
can't even pay fossil collectors _for the good of all mankind_. Now I  
don't want to defend communism or anything (quick, did 85 or 100 million  
people die from communism?), but it's not like _everything_ has become  
better since 1991.  
  
> I tried to dig up the rest of the skeleton.  But heck those bones are   
> fragile!  A few just snapped the moment I dinged it with the shovel.   
> Rulers of the Earth, my ass!  Some of those bones were dust by the time   
> my pickup rolled up the driveway.  I couldn't get all the skeleton out   
> of the ground - I'll leave that for those aforementioned nerds.  
  
Wouldn't a whole, undamaged skeleton bring more money (while, for  
scientific purposes, the right or left half of such a skeleton would yield  
almost exactly as much information as the whole)? Or what have I  
misunderstood here?  
  
> He assures me he's a scientist -  
> the walls of his mansion are covered in these   
> feathered dino-what-nots from China.  
  
Well... it's illegal to export fossils from China, isn't it? Not that I  
would wish anyone to be in a Chinese prison, but...  
  
> Hey, what's the big deal if I   
> make a bit of cash.  I worked hard for these specimens.  
  
That's not the problem (apart from, probably, combining an understatement  
with an exaggeration).  
  
> A man can't make an honest living these days.  
  
We could discuss if digging for world-unique fossils, which the whole  
world has a right to see, is an honest way to make a living...  
  
> It's all a conspiracy!  
  
As I wrote: let the nerds rule the world. Normal people appear to be in 
constant grave danger of turning lack of information into paranoia.  
  
[/rant] 
  
BTW... just _one_ Nigerian businessman has contacted you? And no relative  
of, say, a murdered farmer from Zimbabwe, or of Mobutu? Is spam so  
localized? ~:-| I know someone who _collects_ foff mail. His fortune would  
already have surpassed that of several poor countries together.  

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