Anthropology

Category archives for Anthropology

This is a great cartoon by Randall Munroe that makes a very important point very effectively. Spread it around, love it, learn from it. Here is an excellent video walkthrough of the cartoon, discussing its value as a communication tool. But do ignore the details of the prehistory because the cartoonist has fallen into the…

Jihad Engineers

A disproportionate percentage of Islamist radical actors, including suicide bombers, come from an engineering background. Why? Right wing and Islamist extremism seem to share this and other traits, while left wing extremism is more commonly associated with individuals from the humanities and social sciences. This is what we learn from “Engineers of Jihad: The Curious…

Turns Out Dick Is Really Interesting.

Have you ever wondered how “Dick” became short for “Rick”? Probably not. But it turns out that the reason, if the following video is accurate, is interesting. I have two questions for the historical linguists in the room. First, is there a name for this rhymification effect? Is is common? Is it confined to certain…

Certain things that come across one’s desktop, on the internet, are hard to turn away from. Train wrecks, for example. For me, this list includes commentary about grammatical errors and proper language use. I find this sort of discussion interesting because I’m an anthropologist, and probably also because I’ve spend a lot of time 100%…

I met a student, I was on his examining committee, who had been a civil engineer for years (he was getting his undergraduate degree late in life). He was politically conservative and cynical about academia. He needed the degree in order to get a major promotion, hated the idea of going back to college, but…

The Great Human Race: How to survive

The Great Human Race is a new production of National Geographic, in three parts. I recently viewed the first episode, “Dawn” which comes with this description: All people can trace their roots to the savanna of East Africa, the home of one of the first members of the human species — Homo habilis. Archaeologist Bill…

Important Thanksgiving Information

First and foremost, depending on when you are reading this, TAKE THE TURKEY OUT OF THE FREEZER. But seriously, Thanksgiving is, to me, one of the more interesting holidays. It is a “feast.” You knew that already, but what you may not have known is that “feasting” is a human activity found world wide and…

There is a new paper in Science linking genetic variation in people living in Greenland with long term selection for managing a marine-oriented diet, affecting stature, weight, and probably, physiological processing of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The vast majority of the variation we seen in stature (height) among humans is not genetic. That is…

I heard yesterday that my friend and former advisor Irven DeVore died. He was important, amazing, charming, difficult, harsh, brilliant, fun, annoying. My relationship to him as an advisee and a friend was complex, important to me for many years, and formative. For those who don’t know he was instrumental in developing several subfields of…

This is nice. Karl Eccleston and Fiona Pepper are amazingly good actors. The writing is excellent as is the directing. The subtext. THE SUBTEXT IS BRILLIANT. When I was living with the Efe Pygmies in the Ituri Forest, they would imitate French and English speakers while ranting about specific people who had annoyed or amused…