Friday, August 20, 2010

Anthro Reader, Vol. 3

Notable in anthropology and science around the web: the spill in the Gulf may finally be capped (soon) but there's plenty of reason to worry, digital data collecting, camel jumping, and Harriet Tubman's hymnal.


David Beriss has a post up at the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition that reminds us that we can't rest on our laurels about the Gulf Coast just yet:
The BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico (named, it seems, for the fictitious town invented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”) has been capped, top-killed, sealed and may be bottom-killed as well. Last we checked, the government and BP were looking into adding a new blowout preventer to the well. We have a whole new vocabulary that we can try to work into class lectures, articles and blog entries. However, this new set of oil spill words should not distract us from a simple fact: the Gulf Coast remains in danger.
Why? Well, there are a number of things to consider. First, the seafood industry continues to flounder (bad pun, I know). Second, residents are still dealing with and will continue to face the oil that remains on the beaches and in the wetlands. And third, Beriss emphasizes the cultural impact of the oil—the loss of a way of life. He discusses the efforts of a group trying to have New Orleans declared a UNESCO site as a City of Gastronomy, which would help draw awareness to and preserve these threatened lifestyles.

Neuroskeptic shows us how the Internet can be used to gather medical information and inadvertently reminds readers that their actions are not as private as they might think. In a study meant to track patient views on side effects, researchers
designed a script to Google the names of several antidepressants in the context of someone who's taking them, and checks to see if they describe any side-effects.
They learned that there seemed to be a lower rate of side effects "in the wild," but Neuroskeptic rightly has some objections to this assessment and some suggestions on how these methods may be employed. This post is definitely a contribution to our understanding of digital sociality.

There are a few neat pieces available from Smithsonian Magazine. The first deals with camel jumping—yes, you read that correctly. Camel jumping. It's big among the Zaraniq of western Yemen who hold competitions. And you also may want to review the slightly longer piece on Harriet Tubman. The Smithsonian recently acquired her hymnal and a few other artifacts. Readers are treated to an nice synopsis of her life story with a leaning toward a personal perspective

As an added bonus, you may want to hop on over to Ephemeral New York for a look at an amazing photograph of New York in the 1920s.

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