Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scrooge Is My Hero

Some of my peers have called my atheism militant, while others accuse me of being a relativist. I will admit that it can be difficult to reconcile my disgust for religion with my love of culture; I constantly battle with Evans-Pritchard’s granary, as it were. While there are values in religious practice, the most obvious being enculturation, I must draw the line at extrinsic conflict. It is one thing to say that conflict within a given culture maybe inherent to the customs and practices of that culture, and it is another thing entirely to assert the same between two societies or cultures. Religion seems to be the medium for that clashing of swords.

Anyway, to completely switch gears: I do celebrate Christmas. Furthermore, I am more likely to say “Merry Christmas” than “Happy Holidays,” because that is how I was raised. Despite the utterance of mere habit, I do actually enjoy Christmas, or at least the nostalgia of it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

End of Fall 2011

Well, that’s that! Another semester down, and this guy is officially a junior!

It used to be that when a break came along, I did not cherish it. I wanted more than anything to continue my classes, keep moving, keep going. I could never bring myself to read for fun, because I felt that any time that wasn't spent studying was time wasted. That’s not really the case now, but I’m still torn. I look on the ensuing break as a chance to breathe, but I still look at it as an opportunity to study what I want to study. Reading for “fun” pretty much means reading textbooks or edited volumes, as opposed to reading ahead in the textbooks for the coming semester. I might even let myself play a video game here and there. (I do fear playing Skyrim however, as it may put my relationship with my girlfriend and school in jeopardy.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The American Pantheon

Speaking to a women’s evangelical conference in April of 2010, Sarah Palin defended the union of church and state, saying that our Founding Fathers “were believers [in God]” (Sargent 2010). Palin’s statement is in line with much of political conservatism in the United States; there is a propensity to anchor the party line with an invocation of the Founding Fathers, but the Right are not solely responsible. In response to Palin, only days later, liberal television pundit Keith Olbermann retorted, quoting Thomas Jefferson in an 1823 letter to John Adams. The quote reveals that Jefferson regarded the story of Jesus and the virgin birth as fantastical as the Roman myth of Minerva born from the head of Jupiter (Cappon 1959). “A believer?!” says Olbermann, as if Jefferson is solely representative of the Founders.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My First American Anthropological Association Meeting

The title of this article rings like a child’s story or artwork – “My First Bicycle,” or “My First Vacation.” Typically, these stories are those of great anticipation for someone that may have not yet experienced it in like, but more commonly they are stories that those experiential veterans can read with appreciation, remembering to forgive the writer for naiveté; after all, it is their “first.” I title it this way because that’s how I feel here this week, at my first American Anthropological Association: a neophyte in a sea of weathered professionals and their favored protégés.

This would have been my second, had our Student Government come through on funding last year. Alas, we did not make a solid case to them, and still more, were going for nothing more than personal enrichment. This year is different; this year, our department sent four students to the AAA to present posters. And here I am. So let’s start with what I expected:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prezi: Radcliffe-Brown's On Joking Relationships

I am smitten with Prezi. That much is clear. Here is one that I used for a presentation of A. R. Radcliffe-Brown's "On Joking Relationships." As I make these for my classes (and conferences), I should be putting them up regularly. Enjoy. (I would've embedded it, but it looks awful. Just make sure you hit "fullscreen.")

Asking the Tough Questions about "Zygote's Rights"

It was recently mentioned in my biology class, that some state, somewhere, is tossing around the idea of passing legislation that would give rights to zygotes. Up until that point, the only thing I’d heard with regard to “Zygote’s Rights,” was as a “What if?” curiosity. Upon hearing this in class, I wasn’t surprised – so many state legislators have been working on passing laws that undermine or completely circumvent a woman’s right to choose. It’s not something that I was following intimately (with the Heartbeat Bill in my own backyard), but Why Evolution Is True has brought the details to my attention with “Mississippi about to confer thesame rights on zygotes and adults.” I wonder: Assuming that the legislators have disregarded the scientific implications of such a law, have they even considered the more benign ones?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Changing Our Minds

The Gateway District is where Progressive Field and the Quicken Loans Arena stand today, but until the 1940’s it was a residential and market district. Before the Jacobs brothers built Jacobs Field for the Cleveland Indians (currently Progressive Field), they called in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to do archaeological investigations. The materials that were excised from the lot went back to CMNH and hadn’t really been touched until 2000 when they were donated to Cleveland State University’s library (along with two other collections of historic artifacts). It sat there, dormant, until 2009 when the stewardship was passed on to someone who could put it use: the Department of Anthropology. And unfortunately, the collections came with very little documentation. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Uh...I'll take the mulligan.

This is a mulligan on throwing my hat into the ring on blogging about anthropology, except this time, my effort is not aimless or hasty. Unfortunately I have little time, so I'll be piecing it together when I can. In the meantime, I refer you to some of the great blogs that occupy my time whenever I do have it.

You can follow me on Google+ (+Dick Powis) or Twitter (@plazdiquehardt). And finally, you can watch this video with Ben Goldacre, which pretty much sums up my passion.

Stay tuned!

[Edit: How the hell did I forget Savage Minds? I'm not saying this because Kerim Friedman actually commented on my accidental omission, but because I genuinely feel this: Savage Minds really is, I think, the best anthropology blog out there. Sorry!]