Neanderthal News: Obviously the big news this week is the publication of a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome in the May 7, 2010, issue of the journal Science. If you’re like me you need to know how this effects you Gen Anth lectures. Check out this awesome blog published by the Special Libraries Association – Biomedical and Life Sciences Division, which leads with the keen observation that Science has become a major player in paleoanthropology publication. As expected other blogs picked up the Neanderthal story including the reliable John Hawks. Best LOLZ goes to Boing Boing with a pic of a couple of skeletons caught in a compromising position, the comments section is also a riot. In other Ice Age news, some guy in Manitoba brought Wooly Mammoth blood back to life Jurassic Park style. Can’t wait for the petting zoo!
Habban in the House: And while I’m name checking Boing Boing, check out this cool picture of an Arab musician playing some kind of bagpipe-like instrument, which we learn through the miracle of crowd sourcing is called a Habban.
Coastal Archaeology and the Oil Spill: According to retired archaeologist Noel Stowe, the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and its clean-up poses an imminent threat to thousands of archaeological sites along the Gulf coast. Stowe claims that if the oil spill washes ashore and comes into contact with shell middens then it will be impossible to carbon date them, moreover the use of heavy machinery in the clean-up could potentially crush shell middens into dust.
Mapping with Lidar: More archaeology news! Husband and wife team Diane and Arlen Chase successfully used airplane mounted laser sensors, or lidar, to map a Mayan urban complex in Belize known as Caracol. After decades of on-the-ground surveys and field research they were astounded when lidar completed scanning the area in only a matter of days. The Chases estimate that at its peak, the site hosted a population of 115,000 spread over 80 square miles and are convinced that lidar will revolution the archaeology of heavily forested tropical environments.
Teaching with Twitter: I read with great interest this report by Bill Caraher about using Twitter to communicate with students in a large lecture class, for I too will teach an introductory course that meets once a week at night this fall. Somewhat disappointed, Bill notes that Twitter did not provide “the social media plus education utopia” he had hoped for, but he plans to try again.
In the Nick of Time: Female circumcision, is there anything that prompts more westerners to say, “You know, somebody ought to go over to that African continent and just straighten the whole place out.” The American Academy of Pediatrics released a surprising statement promoting the practice of reducing genital mutilation in the United States by offering to “nick” baby girls (their words) in a ritualized bloodletting that one of the author’s compared to an ear piercing. The comments section on this article are quite interesting.
NYC Underground Scene: Better than any episode of Dirty Jobs is this article about the working lives of “sandhogs,” tunnel diggers laboring 600 feet below the surface of Manhattan. No word yet on the CHUDs.
Obligatory Depressing Arizona Paragraph: Last week the governor of Arizona signed a bill prohibiting ethnic studies courses in public schools, a move advocated by the State Chief of Schools who claimed that Tuscon’s schools were teaching Mexican-Americans that they oppressed by Whites. WaPo blogger, Valerie Strauss sees a pattern here, “Legislators in many states seem intent on dictating to educators how to do their jobs, even though the lawmakers don’t really have a clue. We tried this once before, in a big law called No Child Left Behind, which was designed with the input of not a single teacher, and which spectacularly failed in its goal to close the achievement gap.” Syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson saw the move as adding insult to the injury of SB 1070 writing, “Mexican American students, it seems, should not be taught to be proud of their heritage.” It’s just the latest in a series of provocations that has included: President Calderon protesting SB 1070 to President Obama, the City Council of Los Angeles voting to boycott contracts with Arizona businesses, and a gang of White boys in Morgan Hill, California, having the wise idea of wearing American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo as some sort of boneheaded statement. Sigh Chuck D said it best, yo.
Shades of Marvin Harris And finally, who among us hasn’t wondered, “Why don’t we put more cows on treadmills?” I’m definately using this next time I teach India’s Sacred Cow.
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