Wednesday Round Up #128

Microsoft’s Kinect gaming hardware is out this week, turning your body into the controller. It looks like it will be a hit. And yes, that’s the Kinect hardware on top of a robot body.

The image is by Sam Spratt, and comes from Kotaku’s article, The Future Of Kinect: How Microsoft Plans To Put A Video Game Controller In Everything. Since I’m covering video games this week, it seemed appropriate.

So top of the list, anthropology, mind, mental illness, education, and video games this week. Alva Noe’s essay, my favorite piece of the week, is at the start of education. And I’ve got some videos in the video game section, along with links to good reads. Enjoy!

Top of the List

Sarah Willen, Who Picked the Strawberries You Ate for Breakfast? “Afflicting the Comfortable” as Pedagogic Strategy
*Thought provoking piece on how to make others question their assumptions about migrant workers and access to healthcare in the U.S.

Laura Frazier, Crashes Increase at Corners Where Traffic Cameras are Rolling
*Good news for opponents of traffic cameras – they might actually increase accidents.

Daylina Miller and Timothy Lahaie, Community Pitches in to Revive Sulphur Springs
*Read about students and professors at the University of South Florida involved in efforts to revitalize a local community through the establishment of a museum and after school programs for neighborhood children.

Thomas Eriksen, Tunnel Vision
*Great article on the history of the divide between biological and cultural anthropologists.
-For more from Eriksen, see his website:

USF Globalization and Community Health Field School: Monteverde, Costa Rica
*Still figuring out what you will be doing next summer?
-Check out USF’s field school in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health

The Portfolio shares a way to create more compelling, effective and persuasive messages that resonate across the political spectrum. We hope that this research and the way we have applied it is helpful to broader audiences.

Cliff Kuang, Infographic of the Day: How Segregated is Your City?
* A tangible geographic testament to ethnic segregation. And 40 more US cities by Eric Fischer


Anne Eisenberg, When a Camcorder Becomes a Life Partner
*Wearable cameras: all sorts of possibilities for research!

Navel Gazing Midwife, No Woman, No Cry
*Model Christy Turlington is working on a documentary about maternal mortality in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Tanzania, and the U.S.

Dave Algoso, Don’t Try This Abroad
*A critique of Nicholas Kristof’s article on “DIY foreign aid” for its simplified view of complex problems and overlooking how local communities know their needs, not outsiders.

Pam Belluck, As H.I.V. Babies Come of Age, Problems Linger
*Interesting article on children born HIV+ and what happens as they grow older and aware of their status. Make sure to check out the interviews with some of the adolescents in the article.

Jen Laloup, Worth a Thousand Words
*The collapse of lobster fishing yields in Chile – the uses of ethnography in showing local ecological knowledge and ecological impact of human activity

John Horgan, Margaret Mead’s War Theory Kicks Butt of neo-Darwinian and Malthusian Models
*Horgan is on a Margaret Mead kick! Mead answers the following question best for Horgan. Though I don’t think she’d like him calling war a “self-perpetuating meme.”

War is both underdetermined and overdetermined. That is, many conditions are sufficient for war to occur, but none are necessary. Some societies remain peaceful even when significant risk factors are present, such as high population density, resource scarcity, and economic and ethnic divisions between people. Conversely, other societies fight in the absence of these conditions. What theory can account for this complex pattern of social behavior?

Nancy O’Shea, New Statistical Model Moves Human Evolution Back 3 Million Years
*The evolutionary divergence from chimps: Back to 8 million years, combining genetic and fossil evidence

Joe Palca, Humans’ Big Brains Tied To Chimps’ Immunity?
*Chimpanzees might be healthier than humans – evidence suggesting that chimps might be better equipped to fight off infections than humans.

Martin Rundkvist, Thor Heyerdahl and Hyperdiffusionism
*There are amateur archaeologists who have conducted pseudoscientific studies, such as Thor Heyerdahl who used sailing trips to support hyperdiffusionism.

Science Daily, Language May Help Create, Not Just Convey, Thoughts and Feelings
*Do bilingual individuals have two different ways of viewing the world?
-A study of bilingual Arabs and Hispanics indicate that their perceptions may change depending on the language spoken.

Eduardo Mendieta, Religion as a Catalyst of Rationalization
*Excellent piece exploring the work of Jurgen Habermas on religion and social theory.

Jesse Bering, The Fattest Ape: An Evolutionary Tale of Human Obesity
*Interesting discussion on how human fatness has evolved from our early ancestors to today.

Ian Sample, Language and Toolmaking Evolved Together, Say Researchers
*The development of complex tools coincided with increases in language.

Kristen Minogue, Stone Age Toolmakers Surprisingly Sophisticated
*Our early ancestors were involved in designing complex tools, not just clubs as you might’ve imagined.

Prototyping Cultures: Social Experimentation, Do-It-Yourself Science and Beta-Knowledge
*The Spanish National Research Council recently held a conference on prototyping cultures.

National Geographic, Gigapan: Prehistoric Cave Art of Niaux
*Cool interactive picture that allows you to explore 13,000 year old cave art in France.


Kristina Grifantini, Sensor Detects Emotions through the Skin
*Now we can measure skin conductance responses during everyday activities – or getting electrophysiological studies out of the lab. You can find a critical reaction here

Christian Beckmann et al., Investigations into Resting-State Connectivity Using Independent Component Analysis
*An examination of how fMRI imaging and probabilistic independent component analysis can be used to identify resting-state patterns. Also gives a useful overview of what we know about resting state patterns

Flavia di Pietro, Lions and Lollipops. The Brain’s Amazing Race for Meaning
*Survival processing rather than emotion processing – and the visual cortex can do that too

Mo Costandi, Phineas Gage and the Effect of an Iron Bar through the Head on Personality
*What we know, and don’t know, about a foundational figure in neuroscience

Scicurious, Neural Networking and Damage Recovery
*Fascinating review of a recent study on how quickly the brain compensates for injury in stroke patients.

Physorg, How Some Brain Cells Hook Up Surprises Researchers
*The microglia are not just involved in the immune system, but also in regulating synapses.

Brian Mossop, Neurologists Call for Strict Sports-Concussion Guidelines
*Make sure your kids wear helmets! Disturbing new trend in younger kids (8-13 years) being admitted to hospitals for head injuries.

Ben Goertzel, Is Precognition Real? Cornell University Lab Releases Powerful New Evidence that the Human Mind Can Perceive the Future
*I saw this one coming…

Karen Hopkin, Mice Prefer Treats They Worked Harder to Get
*Your parents were right – the harder you work for something the more you appreciate it once you get it.

Bradley Voytek, Voytek Neuron Paper: “Dynamic Neuroplasticity after Human Prefrontal Cortex Damage”
*Great coverage of his research, but also of how peer review happens – a scientist on the process of doing science

PhysOrg, Differences in Human and Neanderthal Brains Set in Just After Birth

Both Neanderthals and modern human neonates have elongated braincases at the time of birth, but only modern human endocasts change to a more globular shape in the first year of life. Modern humans and Neanderthals therefore reach large adult brain sizes via different developmental pathways.

Mental Illness

Jason Goldman, What Is Mental Illness? A Mini-Carnival
The Thoughtful Animal hosts a great selection of articles on mental illness and psychopathology – definitely check this out. One to highlight is BPS’ What is Mental Illness?

Benedict Carey, Genes as Mirrors of Life Experiences
Epigenetics and mental illness in this NY Times article

Pam Belluck, For Edge on Alzheimer’s, Testing Early Treatments

The world’s largest family to experience Alzheimer’s disease, an extended clan of about 5,000 people in Colombia, many of whom have inherited a genetic mutation that guarantees they will develop dementia, usually in their 40s. Except for its clear genetic cause and that it strikes people so young, the Colombian condition is virtually identical in its disease process to more common Alzheimer’s, which has unknown causes and afflicts millions of elderly people.


Alva Noe, Students Are Not Products And Teachers Are Not Social Engineers
*The best thing I read all week.

A wise man I know once made the same point but in rather different terms: the job of a good teacher is to put a firecracker up your rear-end and light it. How you respond to that — what you get out of it — that’s up to you.

Politics is the enemy of teaching and yet today, everywhere, I see teaching bending itself to politics. Let me explain.

Susan Basalla May, Zigzagging Through the Real World
*Inspiring interview with John Fox, an anthropologist, who decided against a traditional academic career path and instead chose positions in the “real world”.

Gina Barreca, 5 Reasons Teaching Keeps Me Up at Nights
*Really resonated with me – I’m in the midst of grading. Ugh.

Karen Kaplan, Academia: The Changing Face of Tenure
*A decline in tenure track positions might not be such a bad thing.

Miles O’Brien, Science Behind Bars
*An interesting environmental study that used prisoners as research assistants on how to best cultivate slow growing moss.

GrrlScientist, Science Saved My Soul
*A moving video on this universe, science, and finding meaning, with some anti-religion ranting thrown in for good measure

National Prescribing Center, Information Mastery 3 – Making Decisions Better
*A great online learning workshop for clinicians on making good decisions.

Bill Caraher, A Defense of Asynchronous Teaching
*Reflections on the best way to teach an online course and how asynchronous teaching allows for more flexibility for both students and professors.

Matt Thompson, Around the Ed
*Instead of the usual Around the Web posting at Savage Minds, Matt Thompson takes a look at the state of higher education in the U.S. Lots of good stuff.

Kevin Sieff, For Migrant Students, A Cycle of Dwindling Opportunities
*A look at some of the challenges migrant students face in obtaining an education.

Matt Might, The illustrated guide to a Ph.D.
*Great visual on how learning happens, and where grad students end up and the need for a big picture

Video Games

Dan Bull, Take Me to Oblivion
*A rap ode delivering an open letter to Bethesda, makers of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I heartily agree!! The words also capture what video games deliver to people.

Seth Schiesel, A Home System Leaves Hand Controls in the Dust
*Microsoft just released Kinext, a home entertainment system that doesn’t require hand controls but actually responds to voice and body commands!

Kokatu, The Problem with Microsoft’s New Way to Play Video Games
*Not everyone’s thrilled about the new Microsoft system and believe the lack of a controller takes away from the experience of playing video games.

Adam Liptak, Justices Debate Video Game Ban
*There maybe more stringent restrictions on the types of games sold to minors.
– The Supreme Court recently heard a case about a law in California that banned the selling of extremely violent games to anyone under the age of 18.

Kokatu, Highlights Of Today’s Big Supreme Court Video Game Case
*Read excerpts from the feisty exchange among the Justices and lawyers in the recent case involving the regulation of violent video games.

Leigh Alexander, Video Games Keep Tricking Us Into Doing Things We Loathe
*How games might get us to do activities we dislike, like running.

Tom Chatfield, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain
*Interesting Ted talk on why we find games so entertaining.

Filip, Today I Die
*Check out this new iPhone app that’s a poem game, which won this year’s Independent Games Festival.

John Timmer, Good for Something: Tracking Social Influence Through Farmville
*There might be some redeeming qualities to the Facebook game Farmville in terms of gauging social connections.

Call Of Duty Black Ops Ad: Starring Kobe Bryant & Jimmy Kimmel
*The brand new Call of Duty just came out, and it looks like it might be the biggest launch in entertainment history. Here’s an overview of the game and its reviews. But what I want to show is the tv ad that played over the weekend – a “we play the game” rather than the “game itself” approach

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