A second-hand treasure

Finding classic ethnography in second-hand bookstores or charity shops is one of my great pleasures. This weekend I rumbled a copy of Te Rangi Hiroa Sir Peter Buck’s “The Coming of the Maori” for the bargain sum of £2.50.         Te Rangi Hiroa was an amazing man – an anthropologist, politician, doctor, health … Read more

An ethnography of grant review

Over the last couple of weekend lunches I’ve read Michéle Lamont’s  How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment. Here’s the (slightly hype-y) blurb from Harvard University Press: Excellence. Originality. Intelligence. Everyone in academia stresses quality. But what exactly is it, and how do professors identify it? In the academic evaluation system known as … Read more

on science and science fiction

There’s an engaging conversation in Nature this week with four science-fiction writers who concentrate on the life-sciences in their writing: The biologists strike back. I have this tremendous block about sci-fi. I have dabbled on the fringes and read Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks like everyone else, but virtually no classic sci-fi. Genre fiction intimidates … Read more

evolution 2007

Radio silence for the last couple of weeks as I was in New Zealand at the Evolution 2007 meeting. Yes, there is internet access on my small island home, but I’m not one of those superstars who can multitask a big conference and blogging. So before it all dribbles out of my brain, here’s a … Read more

book rec

I absolutely reccommend This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson to anyone looking for a juicy and riveting read this summer. It tells the story of Robert Fitzroy's two journeys captaining the Beagle to South America and beyond, the second with Darwin on board. The friendship between the two men, and the testing of that … Read more

Books to read

Graphs, Maps and Trees by Franco Moretti. UCL Library doesn’t have this, wah. The amazon.com reviews said that he had a chapter attempting to create what sounded like phylogenies of literary motifs, such as the clue in detective fiction. Intriguing… hopefully over in the bookshop for a browse.