Friday, November 5, 2010

The Anthro Reader, Vol. 14

This edition: elevators, Facebook, PPD, and Coca Cola. Let's get to it!

Elevator from The Overlook Hotel in The Shining.
See, elevators can be scary places.
DId you ride in an elevator today? I have a guest post at Scientific American that explores our relationship with these mechanical necessities:
Have you ever tried to avoid someone on the elevator? Maybe you let the door "accidentally" close before they could board? Or maybe you timed your arrival at the elevator bank to “just” miss the car? Or are you someone who holds the door only to find you're rudely ignored? No eye contact, no thank you, no acknowledgment of any sort. Do you press the “Door Close” button repeatedly?
Anthropology is everywhere, folks. You heard it here first!

I strongly suggest you visit Fran Barone's analog/digital where she has posted excerpts from a conversation held at the Open Anthropology Cooperative that delved into the depths of Facebook and explored three propositions about the social network:
1) That Facebook radically transforms the premise and direction of social science.
2) That Facebook is a medium for developing a relationship to god.
3) That Facebook, like Kula, is an ideal foundation for a theory of culture mainly because Facebook and Kula are practically the same thing.
Be sure to read Part II of this discussion as well, and if you're so inclined, head on over to the OAC and add your own thoughts.

Emily Anthes has a new post at Slate discussing post-partum depression in dads:
PPD for dads remains understudied, under-recognized, and controversial. Even among scientists who research the baby blues in new fathers, there's debate about whether "postpartum depression" is the right term. One researcher told me that when talking about men, he prefers "depression during the postnatal period." Whatever you call it, distress after a baby is born is much easier to explain among moms. Pregnancy and childbirth, of course, are hugely taxing and exhausting for women. And, of course, these processes can wreak havoc with a woman's hormones and, thereby, her psychological wellbeing.
It is a thoughtful piece that draws attention to what has been a largely silent struggle for some new dads.

Coke Classic © Coca Cola
Do you have a preference for Coca Cola over Pepsi? Or vice versa? Or perhaps you're a fan of Mexican Coke—long held to be made with sucrose and not high fructose corn syrup. It's supposed to be tastier. Well Jonah Lehrer of The Frontal Cortex says the taste difference is in your head. Jonah discusses how brands can trump taste:
For whatever reason, certain brand names are able to excite our nostalgic emotions, and those emotions influence our preference. (The scientists argue that the hippocampal activation is a sign that we’re accessing these commercial memories.) The end result is a strong preference for Coke, even though it tastes identical to Pepsi.
And finally, a walk down memory lane from Ephemeral New York: Times Square in the 1940s.
From Ephemeral New York.
I expect to be back on track next week with a new post on sports (baseball may be over, but at least one person is watching football in my household), Twitter, and possibly another book review for you as well.

Please share with me anything that you're reading or that you've written—I need material for the Anthro readers! Contact me via email or on Twitter

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