Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anthropology News essays on science

Anthropology News has a series of essays on science up on its website.  My contribution is titled Illustrating Science Through Language.  My essay argues that the scientific method can be applied to cultural artifacts and is not limited to quantitative analysis.  The essay is essentially a lesson plan that introduces the concepts of data, evidence, contrast, objectivity, hypothesis, falsification, and theory through the analysis of a small piece of language.  By acting as the data-collectors, students play a key role in working through this exercise and also begin to develop an idea of what linguistic fieldwork is like.

Monday, July 8, 2013

ULL still abusing faculty...

A friend/colleague at the University of Louisiana/Lafayette met his first class of the summer term today.   Since the class is somewhat "under-enrolled" he still does not know how much less than the usual $2300 for a short summer course he's going to receive. (Note: that's already less than we pay adjunct faculty per course at my university, and this colleague is a permanent faculty member.)

Update (July 10, 2013):
I just learned that my colleague will be paid $1500 for teaching this three-credit class to a small number of students.  An adjunct at UNF would receive at least $2000, and likely more depending on how much they had been teaching for us.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

On a lighter note...

A monument to lab rats used in DNA research; Novosibirsk, Russia.  Not sure who the photo really belongs to.


Another July 4th

It's another July 4th.  I've written down some thoughts about this holiday here and also here. What I wrote in those posts still holds pretty much true, but I want to throw a little more fuel on the fire:
  • While we have (finally) more or less pulled the troops out of the ongoing disaster that is Iraq, we have continued the certifiably insane policy of using drones in various places to take out people identified as enemies of the US.  While we're about this, we also routinely blow up random people who happen to be near the people we are targeting.  There is no way that this isn't a violation of at least a couple of international conventions.
  • We continue to keep a number of people captured early in the "war on terror" at our offshore detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Some number (probably all) of these people should not be there. President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to close this facility, and yet he does not appear to have the moral/political will to do it.  This, too, has to be a violation of something.
  • Meanwhile, our own Supreme Court has decided that the the part of the Voting Rights Act that pertains to ensuring that states with a history of preventing people, especially non-white people, from voting have to clear any changes to their voting rules with the Justice Department is no longer necessary, apparently because systemic racism is a thing of the past.  Immediately after that decision was announced, Texas legislators began working on voting regulations that would make it harder for non-white people in Texas to vote.  Hmmm...   And at the same time, we have the spectacle of southern bad food purveyor Paula Dean going down for having used the "N-word," among other things.  And, we have an African American witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of George Zimmerman being publicly ridiculed for speaking one of the three languages she is fluent in: Black English.  She is also fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole. Despite this intellectual advantage that she holds over most other 'Muricans, her testimony can't be trusted because of the language she expresses it in.
  • And now we have this case of Edward Snowden, who made public for the American people documents showing that that their own National Security Agency has been building a vast database of "metadata" on their emails, phone calls, etc.  For this, Snowden has been labeled a "traitor" and "spy," and as I understand it he has been or is about to be formally charged with "espionage."  Can anyone explain to me how it's "espionage" when someone lets US citizens know what their own government is doing to them?  This seems pretty Orwellian to me.  Orwellian, but I guess understandable considering that we now live in a Police State.
  • Rethuglicans in the House, meanwhile, have again, for the 37th time I believe, tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act popularly (and often derisively)  referred to as "Obamacare."  They appear to be completely uncaring about the positive effects the ACA has already had for many people.  In fact, they just don't care about non-elite folks at all; they holler "class warfare" whenever someone brings this up, but they are in fact the ones carrying out class warfare against everyone who does not belong to their class, and that's a lot of us.  Never mind that "Obamacare" is not what many of us wanted: the abolition of the health insurance industry and the institution of a single-payer health care access system. 
I've said it before and I'll repeat it here: The "American Revolution" was not a revolution.  In a revolution, the people on the bottom end up on top.  What happened in the British colonies that eventually became the United States was a beheading.  The level of rulers at the very top, the British Crown, was lopped off.  The people at the top in the colonies remained on top, while slaves remained slaves, women remained women, Native Americans remained pretty much nobody.

But we've been fed this unsatisfying meal of apple pie, ice cream, and hot dogs for so long that hardly anyone questions it.