The World’s Smallest Violin Plays for the Rich
- The NYT reports that the rich are walking away from their mortgages “at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.” I guess all that hard work and talent that won them their high stations in our meritocracy just wasn’t enough. It’s so unfair!
Academia in the MSM
- Also in the NYT, does this story seem familiar to you? Across the U.S. college and university budgets for administration and recreation are growing while the budgets for instruction are shrinking. Call it the resortification of academia. We may be teaching our courses with TA’s and adjuncts, but we’ve got a awesome new rock climbing wall!
- Another story that hits close to home, WaPo reports that it’s tough as hell to be a mother and get tenure. Does this sound like you, or your significant other? “Working mothers who devote day and evening hours to parenting duties end up repaying the time at night and on weekends, feeling somewhat like perpetual graduate students.” Here’s a link to the AAUP findings that prompted the news report.
- In case you missed it, here’s Yohannes Haile-Selassie on NPR’s Science Friday talking about the new partial Afarensis skeleton, Kadanuumuu. The news story from Science is here. This guy must keep pretty busy. Wasn’t he just lead author on that Ardipithecus article?
Heads Up from the AAA
- The U.S. State Department is raising the fees on American passports by 35%. Don’t forget if you’re going to the AAA’s in Montreal that you’ll need a passport. I’m saving my pennies already and apparently I’ll need a few more, mine expired last month.
Differences of Degree, or Kind?
- Primatology.net ran a thoughtful post, ‘Do animals keep pets?’ The thought experiment began with a piece in Psychology Today, not a journal, I know, but still an intriguing question. The crux seems to lie in the PT author’s definition of pet as an animal without utilitarian value to its keeper. You don’t need to be Donna Haraway to see the problem with this, mandating a distinction between work and play is a central value to Western cultures. Perhaps the PT author has fallen into the classic trap of naive realism. I see no reason why there should not be a very broad, inclusive definition of pets that subsumes some non-human interspecies relationships.
Bringing Knowledge to the People
- Here’s some good news, a mall in Dallas, TX, now has its own public library branch. I love my public library, I’m there every week, but its walking distance for me. By making the printed word more accessible (CD’s and DVD’s too, I know) public libraries keep themselves relevant and at the forefront of voters’ minds. And as the parent of small children I know that I seldom go to the mall to shop, usually I’m there because the weather is bad and I’m looking for something to do with my kids. This sounds like a big win and I hope it catches on.
- Who is WEIRD? People from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies are WEIRD. The International Culture and Cognition blog has the abstract of a recent study that claims that the lack of cross-cultural research study participants has skewed behavioral science. Neuroanthropology has a article summary and extensive commentary.
Timewaster: For this week’s web video, a pre-industrial Estonian Simpson’s parody. Enjoy!
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