Friday, November 12, 2010

The Anthro Reader, Vol. 15

Have you read the latest edition of Four Stone Hearth yet?  Duane Smith of Abnormal Interests hosts the latest round of the anthropology blog carnival, with posts on sexy Neanderthals, confabulation, UK monuments, penguins, Zenobia, language, and my post on football fandom. It's certainly an abnormally interesting collection!

How much of your day do you spend on Facebook? In many ways, it's a record of our lives—our moods, our love affairs, our drunken revelries, our humanity. Max Luere has a video on YouTube detailing the life of one man (in approx. 3 minutes) as told by his Facebook activities. Some of it is painful, some humorous, and some sweet. (Hat tip to Loomnie for sharing the video.)

On Terra Nova, a blog that I recently discovered, has a post exploring the idea of an exodus recession: "an economic downturn caused by the movement of human attention and energy into virtual environments." Author Edward Castronova argues that as people buy into the idea of a robust or ailing economy they tend to act in self fulfilling ways. In an ailing economy, they withdraw from the market, and with the availability of today's technology, they're increasing retreating to the digital realm to socialize and interact in lieu of spending:
Facebook is a great way for people to connect. In some FB games, you can buy someone else a beer. You can poke them, write on their wall, friend them. None of this causes anything in the real world to be moved or changed. There are 500m people on FB, hundreds of millions more on other, similar social networking sites. If you’re friending people on FB, you’re ever so slightly less likely to be sending them a real Hallmark card, ever so slightly less likely to write them a note on paper, ever so slightly less likely to give them a call. That’s probably not going to turn around, either. Our ability to socialize online puts a crimp in our general need to move stuff or change stuff in the real world.
It's an interesting thought experiment.

Credit: Wally Gobetz
On anthropologyworks, hold on to summer a little longer with an interview with Steve Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible. I am a huge barbecue enthusiast, and I'm very particular about how I like my 'cue. And I'm not the only one. Cooking with smoke and fire is popular around the world:
Barbecue is intimately intertwined with human history, in ways both obvious and unexpected. For example, the discovery of eating meat cooked with fire by a human ancestor called Homo erectus about 1.8 million years ago had a profound effect on human evolution. Advanced reasoning, speech, our communal social system, technology, and even the division of labor–all stem from barbecue (in the sense of cooking meat with live fire).
My interest in Raichlen's book is definitely piqued.

What would happen if an asteroid hit the Earth today? CFeagans links to an online simulation from Perdue University that lets you explore just that. Of course, he ran his own simulation and shares the following with us:
(T)he impact had the energy of 1,660 megatons of TNT. The average interval between impacts of this magnitude somewhere on Earth is somewhere around 50,000 years. The fireball, at over 500 km away, is well enough below the horizon that Dallas doesn’t suffer any ill effects, but we do get an air blast that arrives 25.3 minutes after impact, raising the wind velocity to about 6.21 mph and the blast can be heard to a level about as loud as heavy traffic. Long before that, however, somewhere around a minute and a half after the impact, an earthquake at 6.6 on the Richter Scale is felt 500 km away, but feeling like a passing truck hitting a pothole in the road nearby.
And for those of you headed down to NOLA for the AAA meetings, David Beriss encourages you to eat the local seafood:
I will continue to eat Gulf seafood.  Despite my misgivings about food regulation in the U.S., Gulf seafood is under more scrutiny now than most of the rest of the food—including, no doubt, imported seafood—that you will find at your local grocery store.  I also believe that we need to make a commitment to local seafood (and to local food in general) if our food system is going to be sustainable over the long term.  We need to make it possible for people to make a living in the seafood industry in this region.  Frankly, I also trust the fishers, shrimpers, oystermen, seafood retailers and chefs who provide these products locally.  I hope you will eat Gulf seafood while you are here.  You also need to be an active voice for strong regulation of the industries that bring us these disasters and for real regulation of our food system.  We need to work to insure the safety of our food.  We also need to make sure that the people who provide us with that food can make a good living.
New Orleans is known for its rich culinary history, and sea food plays a huge part in the cultural experience of the city and the people. I hope those of you attending the AAAs will be able to experience some of this!

To wrap things up, if you're looking for a new book, Barbara King sent the following recommendation via Twitter: She's reading The History of White People by Nell Painter. She says it's "wonderful." The book brings together anthropology and history on questions of race.

For even more "around the web" type features, you may want to visit the following and consider adding these blogs to your reader for regular weekly roundups:
If you know of an anthro/science/history round up or write one not listed here—there are likely many that I haven't named—feel free to add it to the comments below to share with AiP readers.

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