Meta Mike Little

Someone at Binghamton sent me this photo today. It’s my advisor from graduate school, Mike Little, reading this blog. This made me smile.

Mike, if you’re reading this, thanks for everything. I hope seeing this isn’t too meta.

Mike and me.

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A New Semester

These are the class rules and motivations I gave my students this semester, borrowed from the good people at KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I thought it would be better to keep things simple and positive, and these sounded a lot better than a list of “don’ts.”  Continue reading

Review 2012

Below is a quick look at the most-read posts that were written in 2012, with a brief summary, in case you’re interested.* Thanks very much to everyone for visiting, and to those who have shared these writings and commented on them.

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1) Part 6. Humans are (Blank)- ogamous: Many Intimate Relationships. May 17

This was the most viewed post written this year. It looked at the variety of intimate romantic relationships that humans have negotiated into various socially recognized structures. I tried to go beyond looking at humans as naturally monogamous or promiscuous, which I think are overly simplistic arguments, taking a look at how this complexity may have arisen. There’s also a nice graphic, borrowed from David McCandless.

We obviously have a lot of cultural diversity in humanity with substantive differences in worldviews and which behaviors are deemed acceptable, but cultures – and individuals – are tasked with how to balance sex, love, intimacy, and commitment, as well as reproduction and parenting. I think this interplay between individual drives and cultures provides an alternate model of looking at things rather than trying to discern what humans ‘are’ in terms of our sexuality.”   

2) Human Nature, Humility, & Homosexuality. Feb 10

A pointed response to one conservative’s argument about homosexuality being against human nature, and the need for tolerance and the need to avoid making overly confident claims about human behavior. “I would recommend that if we have a choice, then choose humility. Choose tolerance. Choose love.”

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Inspiration

I had a burst of inspiration today, and feel pretty good about it. Let’s see if I can convert this into something more tangible. 🙂

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Why Academia Should Be More Social

A friend asked me to write something about the benefits of social media like blogging, Twitter, etc. among academics. A few days ago, she posted it on her website, Impassion Media. My approach was that there are many ways to use social media, some of which can be a waste of time, but it can also be productive. I included a few anecdotes in there too.

I’m an academic and an anthropologist, so I’ve tailored my social media use for those fields. Others may have different experiences. Certainly, I may use it for connecting with friends or family, sharing music or humor, or just venting. This isn’t to dismiss the personal – academics are people too! (so I’ve heard) – but there are more substantive benefits… A partial list includes: sharing news on research, professional networking, and engaging with a wider audience through blogging.”

The rest of the post can be found here.

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The Evolution of the Audacity of Hope

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and an unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. – Bertrand Russell

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched… And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle. – Ian MacLaren

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This is the 100th post for this blog, which is hard to believe. I began this site for personal reasons and to share biological anthropology with a wider audience, and didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to watch it grow slowly in readership. I’m grateful for those of you who’ve visited, found some of the things written here worth sharing, and who have made me think with your comments. Thank you.

I’ve not posted here in a while for a couple of reasons: (1) I am on sabbatical and have been focused on other things; (2) I have been thinking for a while that the 100th post should be meaningful and have been waiting for some burst of wisdom to fall from the sky. Wisdom seems to be rather elusive these days, but I’d like to reflect on a few things, including the sabbatical and crossing the tenured threshold, why I’m still in love with anthropology, and why I’m still hopeful about humanity despite all of its faults, and all of the pain out there (in the world in general and among people I know). I’ll try to avoid excessive navel gazing.

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A Conversation with Soo Na Pak

Earlier this week, the writer/ documentary filmmaker Soo Na Pak and I had a conversation about anthropology, which she transcribed and posted on her blog. She emailed me after finding the post I wrote on the loss of my brother titled “Life is Beautiful,” and asked if we could talk about some of these things more in depth on the phone. The discussion was a lengthy one that spanned a variety of topics, but I think the main themes were about how we can find some anchors in science which provide optimism, resilience, and hope under difficult circumstances. We also talked about the evolution of humans as a biocultural species, plasticity, and whether some of our more powerful emotions – like grief and love – can be considered adaptive. There’s also some personal stuff in there too. It was a fun experience. Thank you, Soo Na.

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Link: http://soonapak.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/were-all-cousins/

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