As I hurtle towards the inevitable end of the semester, it’s a good time to polish up some of the drafts that have been piling up. Instant content, just add coffee.

Yes. Well.

In my Anthropological Research Design seminar this semester we’ve been, um, designing research. Specifically, ethnographic research. (As a biological anthropologist, this is not something I do often).

I knew I wanted to do something involving Floridians and alligators. I’d read Laura Ogden’s Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades and her scholarly articles on the cultural and political constructions of nature and the concept of ecosystems but I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. (Here’s an interview on the Anthropology and Environment Society blog with Ogden about the book – it’s fascinating).

I was flailing about on a Friday night in late February, knee-deep in a literature review, when I decided to take a brief twitter-break. That’s when I saw that uber-scienceblogger Brian Switek had tweeted this::

My fear of a world where apes evolved from men kicked into high gear and I quickly responded.

Later I discovered my Tivo, Overlord II, had been trying to give me nudges in the right direction all week:


Amidst all this chatter, and the inevitable branching twitter conversations, I realized I was thinking too narrowly. Reading Ajay Gandhi’s ethnography, “Catch Me if You Can: Monkey capture in Delhi” was a turning point. My ideas were sound, but my theoretical model was all wrong. I don’t think that multispecies ethnography (see references at the end of the post) is really going to be The Next Big Thing, but the possible applications are intriguing.

So the moral of the story: Twitter is not always a waste of time and Tivo is your friend and it just wants to help. Also, beware the Ricardo Montalban Effect, which I still haven’t fully explained but intend to in the very near future. I thought I had an old post explaining it, but I was mistaken. I’ll fix that, but probably not until the semester is over.

In related news, Brian Switek’s new book, My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, is waiting for you to buy it. It’s pretty great.


Fuentes, Agustin
2010 Naturalcultural encounters in Bali: monkeys, temples, tourists, and ethnoprimatology. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):600 – 624.

Gandhi, Ajay
2012 Catch me if you can: Monkey capture in Delhi. Ethnography (13): 43-56.

Kirksey, S. Eben and Stefan Helmreich
2010 The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):545-576.

Ogden, Laura
2008 The Everglades Ecosystem and the Politics of Nature. American Anthropologist 110(1):21-32.

Yesterday’s Science Times had a cool article about cobras, “How the King Cobra Maintains Its Reign.” (Don’t click that link if you don’t like pictures of snakes).

I wanted to post a link to that article because I thought it was interesting. It popped up because I have a google alert set for cobras, not because of Halloween.

Still, snakes are pretty spooky, so they make good Halloween post fodder. Yesterday’s Washington Post contained an article, “Evolutionary psychology explores ancient and newer roots of instinctual fears,” that was pretty interesting.

Cars kill a lot more people than spiders, bats, snakes and wolves, but why don’t we fear them in the same visceral way? When’s the last time you saw a jack-o’-lantern carved in the shape of a BMW?

The drugstore Halloween images of dark and hairy critters touch off sensations deep inside us, pointing bony fingers at instincts that go back millions of years, evolutionary psychologists say.

On a related note – I don’t know about your house, but mine has become the Kingdom of the Spiders lately and I’m not enjoying it. I know we’re not alone in our neighborhood, the local hardware store is doing a brisk business in glue traps. Yuck.

p.s. if you read these posts via email, I apologize for the last post you received. The email you received was of an early draft and it was a mess. The correct post is on the site.

The Natural Capital has a post about dragonflies. I think the pictures they chose are awesome, but the fact that one of them is mine might have played a teensy-tiny role in my pronouncement.


I was catching up on their site and I see that, more recently, they posted a nice little piece about goldfinches. I’m a sucker for goldfinches. Yesterday there was an especially large flock partying it up in our coneflowers, which are right in front of my kitchen window. I didn’t get a lot done yesterday.

This is a cool blog, you should check it out right now, before you get distracted and forget.

I just spent an hour completely hypnotized by the World Parrot Trust website. You should go and learn about Parrot conservation efforts and look at the pretty pictures.

Speaking of pretty pictures, hooray for Lori, who had one of her nice photos posted on DCist yesterday.

Also, happy Talk Like a Pirate Day. This is my brother’s favorite holiday, so if you find yourself in the neighborhood of Iraq and you happen to run into him, say “Arrrr” to him for me.

I’ve been thinking I was overdue for a snakehead post, and surprised to see it’s been over a year since they last made an appearance here. Too bad that isn’t the case the Potomac river and it’s tributaries haven’t been so lucky, as evidenced by the recent discover of two adult snakeheads and 165 babies. In a puddle.


I’ve been thinking about snakeheads lately, though, having recently caught the tail-end of the SciFi opus, Snakehead Terror. I love the part where they break into the house and march up the stairs. Or is it down the stairs? I’m always laughing too hard and never remember exactly. The real snakehead situation? No laughing matter.

Tomorrow is the High Holy Day known more commonly as the Water Lily and Lotus Asian Culture Festival at the beloved (at least in our house) Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Today, Saturday and Sunday Artscape takes over a big chunk of Baltimore.

For those who don’t want Visual Art messing with their musical experience, there’s also Whartscape. Line-up is on the website, but with the disclaimer, “Schedule subject to incomprehensible changes at the drop of a hat!” which has an honesty to it I appreciate.

As a sidenote, I’m annoyed to see that we missed Mark Hosler preforming Negativland’s new project, Thingomatic last night as part of Whartscape. I recently tried, not very successfully (my fault), to explain Negativland to Sean and Rania.

Speaking of Sean, he’ll be at X Saturday night, which you should also go to.