September 18, 2014
"Violence in any form is not love. Let us make sure first to learn that lesson. And then if we do nothing else, let us teach it to our children."

Brittney Cooper at Salon. The racial parenting divide: What Adrian Peterson reveals about black vs. white child-rearing

Black parenting is often too authoritative. White parenting is often too permissive. Both need to change

September 10, 2014
The Bonding Power of Shared Suffering

This study reminded me of a photographic essay of Xhosa male circumcision ceremony.

There are many good reasons not to click on the link below. First of all there are a few images of the circumcisions themselves and some further nudity. Secondly the photographs and the essay were made by a white South African. To click the link is to learn a little about a cultural practice and to gain some understanding of its importance and significance.

Lister Haig Hunter at Gallery Ezakwantu. Male Circumcision Ceremony

Initiation to Manhood

Presenting in colour slides the story of the Abakwetha.

Photo Set A

The Abakwetha

In the Xhosa Language, aba means a group, while kwetha meats to learn, hence the word “Abakwetha”, meaning a group learning. What are they learning? To become men through circumcision. Five youths at a time are circumcised, ages 17 to 20 years The group of five live together in a specially constructed hut (sutu), which becomes their home for three months while they undergo the transformation from youth to manhood. 

September 9, 2014
"The role of grandparent was personally rewarding and also culturally significant to Mead. She understood that grandparents needed grandchildren “to keep the changing world alive for them.” As she wrote in the Redbook article, through the stories grandparents told, their grandchildren not only learned about the world as it had been for the grandparent but also what their parents’ childhood had been like. Grandparents thus linked the past to the present, while grandchildren linked the present to the future. Mead saw the value of the link between the generations that grandchildren established as a model for mutual learning across generations, as a means whereby the gap between generations was bridged."

Nancy Lutkehaus Margaret Mead: The Making of an American Icon 

September 4, 2014
3quarksdaily: Perspectives on Cultural Evolution

Last May at the Sante Fe Institute, Daniel Dennett gathered Susan Blackmore, Robert Boyd, Nicolas Claidière, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Joseph Henrich, Olivier Morin, Peter Richerson, Dan Sperber, and Kim Sterelny to discuss cultural evolution (via Dan Sperber). Over at the International Cognition and Culture Institute, there are summaries of each of their comments.


It’s quite old but Dennnett’s 1999 article at Edge,The Evolution of Culture is a useful overview of Dennett’s approach to the subject.

Tim Lewens article, Cultural Evolution, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philiosophy doesn’t reference Dennett, but does provide context for some of the other scholars at the workshop.

September 4, 2014
"Natural selection is often used to argue that the individual is defined by the struggle for survival. But random variation seems to suggest instead that people (and not just people) are too random to be predicted or defined. We can’t predict why, or how, a new baby will vary from everyone before or since."

Noah Berlatzky at Pacific Standard. True Darwinism Is All About Chance

September 3, 2014
"Some things, it seems, just get lost in translation."

Marc Hinton at Stuff. Haka has no history in basketball world

August 28, 2014
"And one of the things that struck me most profoundly in college—and maybe some of you in this room know what I’m talking about—is that by going to college and becoming educated, I was becoming someone who was less like the community I came from and less like the family I came from."

Cheryl Strayed interviewed by Amitava Kumar in Guernica Magazine. Redeemed

The bestselling author of Wild on the Pacific Crest Trail, bringing consciousness to bear on the work, and how success has been met with a backlash.

August 8, 2014
"Water spinach became a metaphor for something greater. The refrain: This is our culture. We can’t get employment otherwise. Your wars brought us here. ‘I know over 100 families in Rosharon that got no skill, no education,’ one participant, Chelsea Tang, told the Texas agency. ‘They depend on water spinach.’"

Terrence McCoy at Miami New Times. Illegal Cambodian Weed Sales: Authorities Are Clueless

The invasive plant water spinach is banned in some states — and essential to Asian cooking. In a small village outside Houston, relocated Cambodians are growing and selling it across state lines, hoping to get rich.

A long read, but very fascinating!

August 1, 2014
Nice People

One of the great pleasures of the Internet is encountering the work of nice people by surprise.

Via post here in my Tumblr from Indian Country Today a link to a story there: “Spirit of a Proud Nation: What We Can Learn from the Lakota” by Ms. Biba S. Kavass showed up and I clicked through to read.

I’m getting ahead of myself, because I didn’t notice who the author was until I was finished reading it. A wonderful piece of writing and especially beautiful in telling something important about Lakota culture through telling a Lakota teaching story.

I was curious whether Ms. Biba S. Kavass, the author of the article, was Native American? I don’t know the answer to that question. While I didn’t ask, what I found out  is that Ms. Biba S. Kavass is one heck of a teacher. And it’s so cool she puts online some of what she does with her students.

One of the best parts of her Teacher’s Web site is she posts her resume on her About page. It’s impressive, but what really caught my attention is the curriculum she has developed. So much thoughtful work is in evidence.

Read Kavass’s article at Indian Country Today. And maybe take a moment to remember there are some great teachers in our communities who deserve appreciation. I was quite delighted to see Ms. Biba S. Kavass’s work today.

July 11, 2014
"People in loose states are happier."

Chris Mooney at Mother Jones. Forget Red State, Blue State: Is Your State “Tight” or “Loose”?

A new theory about the cultures of different regions could go a long way toward explaining why the United States is so polarized.

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