Wednesday Round Up #118

This week it’s long, overwhelming even. I want to link to lots of people, make sure they know we’re in our new place. I also want to make sure you get your good stuff – especially our new readers. And this is just our second post. What better way to create a first impression than by overdoing it?!

So here it is, the 118th version of our Wednesday Round Up. I’ve linked to my new PLoS friends at the top, given my selection of other great material out there after that. Then I go into orgasm, talk about it, get mindful, want to escape, then distract myself, get condemned, go round the world, and finish off with review. Oh, and finally have the last word.

The photos today are from my friend and colleague Ryan Anderson, featured in his post Primates on Two Sides of the Glass.

The PLoS Special

Some of my new PLoS colleagues already have some really great pieces up. So here they are!

Steve Silberman, Oliver Sacks on Vision, His Next Book, and Surviving Cancer
Steve gets an interview with the elusive Oliver Sacks, who was using the term “neuroanthropology” way before we did

John Rennie, Crazy as a Bedbug Researcher
Bedbugs are making a comeback!

Travis Saunders, What Hurts Fitness More: 30 Years of Aging or 3 Weeks of Bed Rest?
Find out the answer over at Obesity Panacea!

Brian Mossop, The Niche Blog Network: Lessons From the Past, Visions for the Future
Brian, our new community manager, discusses his view of the present and future of science blogging, including the PloS Blogs initiative

Top of the List

Vaughan Bell, Visions of a Psychedelic Future
Up in the Colombian mountains, Vaughan discovers a real mind hack – the hallucinogen yage. He comes back to report on his experiences.

Krystal D’Costa, Why Do Some Like It Hot?
Chili peppers – now that’s a way to get at the encultured brain and body, with some history thrown in too. And those of you looking for some hot sauce recommendations, see Rachel Ray’s best hot sauces.

BU Arts and Sciences, Body Beat
Chelsea Strayer puts together drumming and the relaxation response to get at understanding human healing – complete with a great video

Christian Jarrett, Feeling Clean Makes Us Harsher Moral Judges
So much for pure morals. Another in the latest push on how embodied experience shapes our thinking and actions.

Colleen Morgan, Creature Comforts & Happiness in the Field
Ah, anthro humor. Beer really does fix it all.

Katherine Bouton, Peeling Away Theories on Gender and the Brain
A glowing review of Cordelia Fine’s excellent new book, Delusions of Gender, which is critical in the best ways possible of the scientists peddling reductionist views that gender is just something hard-wired in the brain.
Mark Liberman over at LanguageLog also adds in more scholarly depth and reflection

Alok Jha, Guardian Science Blogs: We Aim to Entertain, Enrage and Inform
All right, go check out the competition. The Guardian has started its own site for science blogs.
For a good one, go check out Mo Costandi’s (of Neurophilosophy fame) post, Psychedelic drugs return as potential treatments for mental illness

Alan Leshner, Coburn-McCain Report Goes Too Far
The former head of NIDA provides an informed critique of the recent senators’ report that “mocked” and “ridiculed” federal funding for science

David Dobbs, Archeology Grad Student Pulls the Cover off Gitmo Growth
Neuron Culture digs this archie’s work using satellite photos from Google Earth to show what the US government has been trying to hide


Scicurious, Back to Basics 5: Weird Science Edition: The Ladies Science
Discussion on Grafenberg’s “Treatise on the Female Genitalia and Orgasm,” a classic in the sex literature and in sexism. Scicurious is at her hilarious, critical, and informative best in this one!

Andrea Kuszewski, The Science Of Pleasure: Part III- The Neurological Orgasm
Rogue Neuron talks extensions – as in having the longest orgasm possible

Mara Altman, Rutgers Lab Studies Female Orgasm through Brain Imaging
Personal experience and imaging combine in the murky depths of an fMRI machine


Jeffrey Quilter et al., Traces of a Lost Language Discovered.
Fascinating research on how a lost language in Peru was re-discovered from a letter by a Spanish traveler. You can also see a video about the discovery.

Lea Boriditsky, Lost in Translation
Does language shape cultural values, or does the influence go the other way, or both?

Guy Deutscher, Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
Language’s power over the mind. For Greg’s great commentary, see his post The new linguistic relativism.


Things have been stressful, though in a good way, with the launch. The chance to redo things, like our About Neuroanthropology page. The anticipated splash in the media. New colleagues to try to impress. And all of it is online – this is PLoS Blogs after all. So of course I had to lose my Internet at home!

Not the end of the world – I have access at the university, there are wifi spots nearby, even the local library. But sometimes I do wish the Internet could disappear like that, out of my hands. No sites to check, no round up to create. Just me and a computer screen and a keyboard. Or me and a book.

But I communicate largely through email now. I put a lot of my writing online. I find ideas here. It has become, for better and for worse, an integral part of how I work.

Yet I had an office in Bogotá once, near 92nd and 15th, and my window looked out on a magnificent tree. There it was just a desk, some books, a laptop, and me. It was a room of my own.

Could I even do that again, in today’s connected world? Would I have the fortitude? I don’t know. In some ways it doesn’t matter. Kids run through my office at home. Books surround me in my office at work. I still have this screen. I still write.

Is a blog just a bigger, more interactive room, yet still my own?


Tom Chatfield, Why Games are the 21st Century’s Most Serious Business
Play, technology driver, and the power of vitality.

Seth Priebatsch, The Game Layer on Top of the World
The game layer: “a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce”

Michael McWhertor, DeathSpank, Like Diablo With A Sense Of Humor, Hits July
If you’re looking for a fun game, this is one I definitely want to try on Xbox. But the 8-year old son of my assistant swears by his Battle of Giants: Dragons Nintendo game

Alexander Nehamas, Plato’s Pop Culture Problem, and Ours
Violence in video games? That’s so Greek. Or how Plato is relevant to the debates today.


Lorenz, Floods in Pakistan: On Silent Anthropologists and Real Heroes
Good reflection on disasters and the anthropological voice – uneven, lacking, but sometimes there in important ways.

Eric Olson, DIY Stone Tools: A How-to Video of a Technology That Helped Our Species Succeed
Make your own stone tool! And yes, DIY is Do-It-Yourself

Maximilian Forte, Human Terrain System in the Media
Zero Anthropology captures the latest slice of reactions to the Human Terrain System

Charles Choi, Cultured Chimps Invent and Share Back-Scratching Tool
Our closest cousin likes the good life too!

Lisa Wade, Banal Nationalism
Are we all gun-toting, flag-waving “extremists” for home and country? For a riff on this idea, see Basem’s International Football and Banal Nationalism

Andrew Lawler, Iceman May Have Been Buried in a Ceremony
Otzi gets some dignity with the help of pollen. Here informed social analysis takes down our assumptions of “red in claw and tooth” about evolution and the past – rather than lone hunter murdered, it could have been ceremonial burial of valued chief!

George Johnson, Den of Antiquities
Review of the book Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession in the NY Times

Hanspeter Reihling, ‘I’m so cross that I smack her’: Domestic Violence from the Perspective of a Perpetrator
Marital abuse from the smackers perspective – it’s not pretty but it shows us domestic life in South Africa

Chris Garces,Teaching Critique of Humanitarianism: A Syllabus for Comparative Study
Theoretical approaches to humanitariasm – or charity, philanthropy, and general “do gooding” worldwide. You can even get Chris’ syllabus. Part of Somatosphere’s recent push to get more syllabi online

Tony Waters, Working Class, Upper Class, Community Colleges, and Harvard U.
The less than secret inverse relationship between the quality of teaching and the status of the institutions.

Matt @ Savage Minds, Illustrated Man, #2 — My Neighbors the Yamadas
A look at the American importation of Japanese popular culture, in this case an animated film


Janelle Ward, Communication from the Condemned
Open-access article that delivers you the last words of death-sentence prisoners

Karen Franklin, Report: Sexual Abuse Rampant in U.S. prisons
New research reveals what most suspected – and it’s not a joke


John Lehrer, How To Raise A Superstar
What else you need besides 10,000 hours of practice to raise a star.

John Hawks, Brain Slice Art
And it’s a museum piece!

Novalis, Diagnosticism
When do conditions cross the line and become disorders…becomes the question, is disorder labeling impeding scientific progress?

Deric Bownds, Upstairs-Downstairs Pathways Regulating Our Cravings
How different parts of the brain work together, in craving or in control

David Berreby, Why A Good Friend Has the Same Effect As a Warm Fire
Snuggle up with a friend.

It Takes 30, A Surprising Connection Between the Munchies and Obesity
The endocannaboid system in your gut. Did it get the munchies?

Wiring the Brain, Coloured Hearing in Williams Syndrome
Music and sound stimulate visual activity and perceptions in Williams patients.

Andrew Kahn, Lady Gaga Not Only One Misinterpreting Ideal “Poker Face”
Beware the trustworthy face.

Zen Faulkes, Neurons in the Wild
Scientists follow crickets into the wild – cool research happens

Adam McDowell, Westerners vs. the World: We Are the WEIRD Ones
Nice photo of Joe Henrich doing his research with the Machiguenga – for more, Greg has got us both WEIRD and MYOPIC in his extensive review of Henrich et al.’s paper

The Neurocritic, Ketamine for Depression: Yay or Neigh?
Great consideration of the pros and cons of using Special K for depression

Dr. Shock, Where does Resilience against Depression Reside in the Brain?
In the mix of genetics, environment and development, and specifically in white matter integrity in the right inferior fronto-occipital fascicilus

Online Review – Changing Traditional Blind Peer Review

Drug Monkey, Online Commentary on Papers Allows Scooped Authors to Argue Their Priority? .
A call for more transparency

Melody Dye, Eyes Wide Shut: The Anonymous Workings of Peer Review
Opening peer review? Stand by your reviews in the name of science.

Ed Yong, Two Heads Better Than One (If the Heads Talk and Know How Competent They Are)
Here’s the potential – open, informed review could create this type of phenomenon.

Jonah Lehrer, The Brain Eating Vaccine Conspiracy
But a cautionary tale about what online “review,” in this case popular commentary, can lead to.

Richard Harter, A Book Review: Merchants of Doubt
Why this approach could help. Evolving Thoughts reviews the recent book with the tagline, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. These were the scientists who didn’t do peer review, or even open access in any form – they were paid by corporations to spin science in their favor

Alexandre Enkerli, Are We All Misunderstood?
For some anthropological context, see Disparate’s general post on “academics are misunderstood,” or at least feel that way

Last Word

Something quick this week:

Robert Frost: “The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

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