lemming watch

Check out these edits to the mission statement proposed by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (HT: SS). Goodbye “science”! And, goodbye the use of anthropology “to solve human problems.” In its place: a whole lot of “understanding.”

Says a former NSF program officer for anthropology: “another step in the conversion of Anthropology from a social science into an esoteric branch of journalism.” (see blog here)

ask a scatterbrain: departmental colloquia

What do your departments do for departmental colloquia? I have seen various different models; I’d love to hear:

  • Are presenters mostly internal to your department/institution or from outside?
  • Do you have funding for the colloquium? How much?
  • How often does the colloquium happen?
  • Who attends? (Grad students? Faculty? Others?)
  • Is food provided?
  • Does the series have any particular theme or approach?



the whole university

I’ve been worrying a lot about how public universities will survive in tough political and economic times like these, and associated with that I’m concerned that universities (like UNC) are often “sold” to the public as:

  1. Low-cost undergraduate education;
  2. Exciting athletics; and/or
  3. “Innovation machines” for producing technical advances.

I do not dispute that  universities are all of these, but they are much more too, and I worry that we shoot ourselves in the intellectual foot by emphasizing only these three in underwriting the value of a public intellectual engine. Imagine my delight, therefore, to see the below video displayed on the giant screens at the Smith Center at the Barton College game:

There it is – the whole university in all its glory. Great job, UNC News Services!


better than i should be

I used to play the violin pretty seriously. I don’t play much at all anymore, in part because of time, and in part because of my vision. But recently I agreed to help a friend play through a piece he had to learn for an upcoming concert. As usual, I was swamped and put off learning my part until I basically had to learn it during a plane ride. That was an experience. But an even greater experience was when we actually played through the piece (Brahms piano quintet).  Our pianist was sick and so subbing in was none other than Richard Goode. For those of you who don’t follow classical music, Goode is a truly phenomenal musician, one of the best pianists in the world. It was an experience I’ll never forget — getting to play though a bunch of repertoire with him. And as we played through things, I was better than I should be. Much better. It got me thinking about the social scenarios wherein you’re better than you should be. “The Goode effect” (ha!) was, in this case, due to raised expectations, excitement, and at times mimicry (he played something beautifully, and I would echo). But there are other scenarios where I’ve been better than on average, and not because I was interacting with a true virtuoso.

Continue reading “better than i should be”