Anthropology

Category archives for Anthropology

You’ve heard of Homo naledi, the strange “human ancestor” (really, a cousin) found a while back in South Africa. There were many skeletal remains in a cave, in the kind of shape you’d expect if they had crawled into the cave and died there, not much disturbed. They look enough like other members of our…

Why I ate a Pangolin

The Lese people practice swidden horticulture in the Ituri Forest, Congo (formerly Zaire). Living in the same area are the Efe people, sometimes known as Pygmies (but that may be an inappropriate term). The Efe and Lese share a culture, in a sense, but are distinct entities within that culture, as distinct as any people…

You all know about this: It is being said that the OK sign is used to indicated “White Power” and this use has been spotted among politicians and celebrities everywhere. Is this real? I don’t know. Is it a valid symbol for “White Power”? Certainly not. The problem with the white power symbol is that…

America is part Mexican

The Dogs Still Bark in Dutch I grew up in the old Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now known to you as the State of New York. There, I carried out extensive archaeological and historic research, and along the way, came across that phrase, “the dogs still bark in Dutch.” It is an idea that…

Should I eat my placenta?

Well, not my placenta exactly, but … well, someone’s? Did you now that the placenta that is born out of a female primate’s body is an organ of the infant also being born? It is the first body part you lose. I use the term “primate” here because, even though all the “placental mammals” as…

A brief update: This morning, Senate Republicans set aside the rules that say that both parties must be present, with at least one member, for a committee vote to advance a Presidential nominee for a cabinet appointment. In other words, as outlined below, our system is based not only on enforceable laws but also on…

It is a good idea to occassionally experience history. This helps us understand ourselves, and our possible futures, better. Much of this is done through reading excellent texts. For example, I’m currently reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin’s objective is to contextualize Lincoln by looking at…

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…