Savage Minds Around the Web

Science Fiction’s Second Coming: Apropos of the recent end of Battlestar Galactica, (agnostic SciFi?), Benjamin Plotinsky at the City Journal wrote a piece on the the overlap between recent Science Fiction and Christian allegory.

In Front of the Crowd: Lorenz at antropologi.info reported on the The Radical Anthropology Group, who is organizing the protests against the G20 summit meeting in London. Lorenz goes through the news articles and the University of East London’s statements on the summit that two of their faculty, Camilla Power and Chris Knight, are organizing against.

Surf is Down: The Chronicle of Higher Ed ran a piece on laptops in the classroom and the distractions they cause. Some professors interviews believe that the chronic laptop users have poorer grade performance. The article suggests many solutions from outright banning of laptops to documenting correlations between laptop use and grades and convincing students that laptop use (and checking email) in the classroom will cause them to do worse. Of course, that may also lead students to believe that as long as they get good grades, they should be able to do whatever they want in the classroom? (Thanks to Sociological Images for commenting on this story first. Here is there reaction.)

(More) Barthes on Barthes: Benjamin Ivry writes at the Chronicle writes on two unearthed personal diaries of Roland Barthes and mixed attitudes about publishing them.

The Theory that Moveth My Soul: This was a curious letter to the editor of the smart set.

I am a Ph.D. student in a political science program, and I’ve been getting more and more annoyed. Most of the major voices in the field want to pin human behavior down to a series of standardized, quantifiable measures. Not only is this approach terribly boring to read, but it totally ignores the complexity of the individual or society. Is there any way I can use poetry in my work in order to fight these trends

Kristen Hogatt from the Smart Set responds by offering some poetry by Tasmila Nasrin, Andrew Kaufman, and Kay Ryan. Sounds like, if you can’t beat em…

Lolinguisits: Eric Bacovic at Language Log takes on all the haters of LoLCats (did I spell that right? Wait, does it matter?) Oddly enough, the person he takes issue with is an American TIME magazine reporter who finds American English-language version annoying and stupid, but the American imitation of the Russian lolcats to be hilarious? Looks like a little mistranslation can be a good thing.

Who Stole m’ Syllabus? Arggh: So what breaking news in anthropology has everybody talking, from the Chicago Tribune to the Wall Street Journal? (He says in his best page six voice. Does page six have a voice?) It’s Shannon Lee Dawdy’s class on pirates at the University of Chicago. The course, which covers intellectual piracy as well as those traditional seafarers has been picked up several papers. Get your joke in now, because the last laugh is saved for Dawdy, who is quoted as saying: “It is almost too fun for the University of Chicago, so I will make sure they read a bit of theory every week.”

8 thoughts on “Savage Minds Around the Web

  1. It’s not a comment about this post, specifically, but more about anthropology around the radio. Did anyone else hear the interview with Wade Davis (of Haitian zombie fame) on NPR last week, talking about Australian Aboriginal DreamTime? He was introduced with the comment that ‘if anthropology has anything like a rock star, it’s Wade Davis’ — which struck me as odd, since I always thought of him as a botanist, and hardly rock star status even within botany. Davis offered a fairly simple description of the dreamtime, most of which seemed drawn from other sources, or at least identical to what anthropologists have been saying for decades. At least Steven Pinker actually has an academic job as a psychologist!

  2. That UChicago course sounds great, I would definitely take it if I had the chance.

    Re: Wade Davis, I think the reason he’s portrayed as a rock star anthropologist is because he’s a really compelling speaker. I saw him earlier this year at UBC and I was blown away. And he travels all over the place! He’s definitely not a big academic or anything but I think that’s why people like him, he’s not super obscure.
    By the way, I always saw him as more of a photographer than anything.

  3. Re: laptops in the classroom, it may be worth checking out SpEdChange’s many posts on the issue from the standpoint of disability and access, for example this recent one on the Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference:

    http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2009/03/csun-2009-freetech-ubiquitous-universal.html

    His point is generally that technologies often seen as mere distractions by thoughtlessly abled types actually provide decisive support for students with a range of learning complications, and that all students can benefit from the strategies developed by these pioneers.

    From this standpoint, the discussion at the CHE is downright primitive.

  4. I am extremely disappointed to hear news of Chris Knight’s suspension. I can’t say I share his political creed, but I think he deserves to be far better treated than this. His work on the evolutionary origins of language packs a punch, and having attended one of his evening classes in Camden Town, I was impressed and excited to see the way in which he had people engaging with anthropology. It was great to see the subject taught in a way that shows how anthropology matters, and how the issues anthropology deals with are fundamental to all our lives. Chris Knight and his students deserve a great deal of credit for making this happen. I am sorry to see that he is being mistreated just because he sticks his head above the parapet and doesn’t behave like a nice boy who only concerns himself with research funding and university strategic targets. We could do with more people like him in my department. Vice-chancellors are always going on about how they wish their academics got more press visibility. I guess this isn’t the kind of thing they wanted? Well, tough.

  5. The City Journal has it wrong.
    The story of the hero goes back at least to Gilgamesh.
    Science fiction superheros are merely another chapter in that genre.
    But his biggest error is saying that Lord of the Rings is not religious…any Christian would know that the “failure” of Frodo is an archtype for the “meek shall inherit the earth” strain in Christianity..

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