Wednesday Round Up #61

So after the favs, it’s some evolution (hobbits and phalluses, anyone?), then anthro and neuro, onto education and finishing off with some stuff on Colombia. Enjoy!

Top of the List
Courtney Humphries, Untangling the Brain: From Neuron to Mind
Feature article from Harvard Magazine which addresses the question, “how do individual neurons link to one another in networks that somehow result in complex brain functions?”
The striking picture at right leads off the article, and shows a human fibroblast on a bed of nanowires. They also have some good online videos about simple creatures and how they navigate the world.

Roberto Casati, Book Review: The Art Instinct by Dennis Dutton
Culture & Cognition takes on the claims of art by evolution while preserving sympathy for the overall evolutionary effort. For the fun version, see Colbert’s interview with Dutton – art for propagation!

Heather Tompkins, Derek Albeck
Street Art! Skulls meets urban portraiture! Hat-tip to Sue!

The Neurocritic, Neural Correlates of Admiration and Compassion and Envy and Schadenfreude
Both critical and informative on the blow-up of novel research and media sensationalism

Declan Butler, Web Usage Data Outline Map of Knowledge
Pdf of a recent Nature News piece – here’s what impressed me about this take on the PLoS paper, “A striking difference in the usage maps is that journals in the humanities and social sciences figure much more prominently than in citation-based maps. Along with journals in some other fields, such as psychology and the environment, they also emerge as gateways between clusters that are otherwise poorly connected, and so act as key bridges between disciplines.”


Jesse Bering, Secrets of the Phallus: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?
The man tool and the secrets of human sexuality over at Scientific American. An entertaining and fun read, with some impressive research. But doing reverse engineering without considering female choice is a rather one-sided account of human sexuality.

Afarensis, Evolution of Human Sex Roles
So here are those other factors…

Katherine Pollard, What Makes Us Human?
Comparing human and chimp genomes, and figuring out what’s unique about our sapiens DNA

Nova, Alien from Earth
The new PBS documentary on the hobbits – a lot of online materials to supplement the show itself. I saw some of it, and was quite intrigued by the idea of the hobbits as descending directly from Australopithecines. In any case, certainly shaking up our view of the family tree.

John Noble Wilford, A Tiny Hominid With No Place on the Family Tree
The NY Times gives its version of the latest research on the hobbits – “the black swan of paleontology — totally unpredicted and inexplicable.”

Elizabeth Culotta, Hobbit Specialists Gather on an Island
More on recent research, this time from Science


Matthew Guttman & Catherine Lutz, Becoming Monsters in Iraq
Following soldiers to Iraq and back – a powerful piece from Anthropology Now

Harvard Magazine, On the Medicalization of Our Culture
Report from an interdisciplinary conference at Harvard – sounds like a stand-out meeting

Chip Brown, Enlightenment Therapy
Buddhism and psychoanalysis – the marriage of two cultural forms of self-management & healing

Ben Orlove, Darkening Peaks
An anthropologist covers his book on how retreating glaciers worldwide are impacting local peoples and local environments


Natalie Angier, Bone, A Masterpiece of Elastic Strength
Besides being really cool in itself, this line caught my eye: “bone quickens to the touch of serotonin and oxytocin, signaling molecules more often associated with happy moods, friendship and cuddling together in a straw nest than with the integrity of the backbone.”

Diane Rehm, Jerilyn Ross: “One Less Thing to Worry About”
An extended interview with the respected clinician and author of the recent book, One Less Thing to Worry About: Uncommon Wisdom for Coping with Common Anxieties. Quite a good show, and interesting to hear how Ross interacts with callers suffering from anxiety

Patti Neighmond, Exercise Can Improve Balance for Older Americans
NPR piece on how exercise improves balance, linking neuroplasticity to activity

Culture and Cognition, Noga Arikha at Google
The history of the Four Humours, and how that still shapes ideas about mental illness and brain function today. Vaughan at Mind Hacks has some great commentary on Arikha’s work.

PsyBlog, 18 Ways Attention Goes Wrong
From cocktail parties to insomnia

Lindsey Tanner, Study Links ADHD Medicine with Better Tests Scores
At least for kids with ADHD, the meds seem to help with testing


Chris Kelty, Et Tu Mark Taylor?
Savage Minds gives a good rant about the recent NY Times op-ed, End the University as We Know It. As Chris says, “this op-ed sucks.” Kerim points to another great rebuttal from Marc Bousquet. The readers’ comments at the Times are also much more illuminating than the op-ed itself.

Scott Summers, Alternative Models of Higher Education?
Emerging countries, emerging models for education?

Maximilian Forte/John Stanton, Counterinsurgency for the Masses: Educating Americans for Campaigns of National Interest
Keeping America at war and keeping the public blind

Naomi Schaeffer Riley, So You Want to Be a Professor
Grad school admissions getting cut – the Wall Street Journal asks why? Marc Bauerlein critiques the WSJ logic over at Brainstorm

John Jackson, The Offer Letter
Thinking about what should be in a tenure-track offer letter


Simon Romero, Wider Drug War Threatens Colombian Indians
In the war over drugs and between guerrillas and the government, indigenous peoples are being displaced and killed. The Moises Saman photo that accompanies the article is a beauty.

David Kushner, Drug-Sub Culture
Drug subs from Colombia!

Infolatam, Colombia: Inteligencia interceptó teléfonos de opositores y periodistas
El DAS sigue grabando, dice la revista Semana

Infolatam, Colombia: gobierno destituye a 11 funcionarios de inteligencia
Al menos hay unas consecuencias

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