Wednesday, January 4, 2012


No year's end reflections or new year's resolutions here. Working on my tenure file, which I will be submitting in a few weeks. 'Nuff said.


Being an anthropologist who has published on fetal ultrasound imaging and having just uploaded about 20 photographs from Christmas, it seems fitting to ponder this, from Jana Prikryl's review of Errol Morris' new book, Believing Is Seeing: Observations in the Mysteries of Photography, published in the December 12th issue of The Nation:

On Facebook, intimate, life-altering information is often delivered in the form of a pictogram rather than a written "status update" - the ur-example being the dim, grainy sonogram news flash, which gestate as the mother's profile picture and then bursts forth into religious iconography with the posting of the Madonna-and-child snapshot. Births, bar mitzvahs, vacations, graduations, weddings and car accidents tend to be announced by way of their visual documentation. Compared with whatever we choose to write about ourselves, these snapshots seem to offer incontrovertible proof that how we wish to be seen is, in fact, precisely how we look.


StraightMan posted a tribute to archaeologist Elizabeth Brumfiel, who died on New Year's Day. I wanted to make mention of this here because without her willingness to take a chance on hiring an inexperienced instructor, it is likely that StraightMan would have quit academia. So, he and I both owe her something for both being working anthropologists today.

As a parenthropologist, who I particularly appreciate is that Professor Brumfiel's research as a specialist in Aztec archaeology turned attention to women and ordinary people. When she visited StraightMan's college to give an invited lecture in 2008, I became convinced that there could be almost nothing more fascinating to study than spindle whorls! I think that this is because she was interested in gaining insight into what life and work and family must have been like.


In college, a friend, observing the aggressive scribbles in the margins of my books, remarked that I needed to be a more "relaxed" reader.

I do not like to relax with books. I like books to make me change my mind.

YA author Walter Dean Myers speaks against a romanticized notion of reading in favor of a radical one:

“People still try to sell books that way — as ‘books can take you to foreign lands,’ ” Myers tells The New York Times in an interview published on January 3, 2012. “We’ve given children this idea that reading and books are a nice option, if you want that kind of thing. I hope we can get over that idea.”

“I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life."


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