Archive | October, 2015

What Halloween Masks

31 Oct

Thoughtful anthropological analysis of this holiday from Cindy Dell Clark and AAA.

Welcome to the AAA Blog

October 31st is America’s curious anomaly.  On October’s last day, as trees defoliate and nature ebbs towards the deadness of winter, parents mark the day by lifting  prohibitions.  From sugar treats to stranger visiting, what is usually forbidden falls within kids’ reach.  That day children lampoon adults, dressing up in roles of mature power (princesses, firemen, astronauts, pirates); kids arrive at strangers’ doorsteps and ceremonially threaten the grown-ups within with a veiled threat, “trick or treat.”  Without further ado  adults  hand over candy, normally a controlled substance in children’s lives.

Remarkably moms and dads don’t resent the entailed power inversion.  They support it – helping with children’s costumes and following close enough behind as young ones ring doorbells. Parents say they enjoy seeing their kids range around the neighborhood to collect booty.   On this festival of inversion, when the small powerless become mighty and the big powerful do their…

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Scientists engage in civil disobedience, share copyrighted papers

27 Oct

Why Evolution Is True

I can’t say that I’m encouraging this activity as that would be encouraging scientists to break the law, but I will call your attention to a piece in The Atlantic describing a new development. Scientists, or anyone, can now request paywalled academic papers on Twi**er, and authors or others who have the paper (you surely have to use Twi**er to see the request) can respond by sending the pdf file to the requestor.  Added bonus: the hashtag is cat-related. An excerpt:

Most academic journals charge expensive subscriptions and, for those without a login, fees of $30 or more per article. Now academics are using the hashtag #icanhazpdf to freely share copyrighted papers.

Scientists are tweeting a link of the paywalled article along with their email address in the hashtag—a riff on the infamous meme of a fluffy cat’s “I Can Has Cheezburger?” line. Someone else who does have access to the article downloads a pdf of the paper…

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Bayira, an ancient Ethiopian skeleton, provides the earliest African genome

15 Oct

Welcome to the AAA Blog

John_Arthur_ Kathryn_Arthur_Matthew_Curtis in Ethiopia John Arthur, Kathryn Arthur and Matthew Curtis in Ethiopia

In 2012, an archaeological team funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Kathryn and John Arthur (both of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg) and Matthew Curtis (Ventura College and UCLA Extension), excavated Mota Cave in the Gamo Highlands of Southwestern Ethiopia and recovered a 4,500-year-old male human skeleton that has provided the first complete ancient human (Homo sapiens) genome sequenced from the African continent.  Jay Stock (University of Cambridge) conducted the skeletal morphological analysis and Andrea Manica (University of Cambridge) and Ron Pinhasi (University College Dublin) headed a team responsible for the DNA sequencing and analysis.  The results of this research were recently published in Science.

Mota Cave_5 Mota Cave

The archaeologists have given the ancient man of Mota Cave the name Bayira, meaning “first born” in the Gamo language.  Bayira’s skeleton and the archaeological…

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