pasifika styles

Courtesy of Sheyne Tuffery, whose art I’ve recently discovered (and love), heads-up that the University of Cambridge Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology is holding an exhibition called Pasifika Styles from May, with artists, craftspeople, performing artists, and displays of the Museums collections.

I may have to revise my assertion that Oceanic cultural events are few and far between in these isles.

Also, the House of Taonga (taonga means treasures/property, but also accessory or equipment), a collective of Maori artists/performing artists. Fabulous webdesign–for starters–and a talented group of people with an admirable ethic.

virtual anthropological exhibitions

The UPenn Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology has a set of online exhibitions at World Cultures: Ancient and Modern. The celebrities choosing a favourite artifact was a bit gimmicky, but I really enjoyed:

Sailing the ocean without map or compass: Traditional navigation in the western Pacific. Navigation training and technique in the Caroline Islands. I’d love to get hold of the associated PBS documentary.

Eggi’s Village: Life among the Minangkabau. A matrilineal population in Sumatra, the Minangkabau speak an Austronesian language and are part of the set of cultures I’m studying.

science events + weird crustaceans

(I’m sure there’s a pun in there)

Didn’t get a ticket to the Dawkins event next week at LSE (The Selfish Gene: Thirty Years On) as it appears all of London was keen to go also. There’s a video hook-up, so I’ll queue for that if it doesn’t look too arduous. Melvin Bragg (who’s chairing the above) is also doing a TV feature on Twelve Books That Changed The World which’ll feature Richard Dawkins (presumably to talk about Origin), to screen on ITV, Sunday, 23rd April.

On the weird crustacean front, it’s the Fabio Lobster.


L’Oceanie: Peuples des eaux, gens des iles is a fabulous presentation of the geography, (pre)history, people and anthropology of the Pacific Ocean. It focuses mainly on the Eastern Pacific (i.e. New Guinea westwards). There are dozens of fabulous images and great animations. It’d be a terrific teaching tool for a first-year course and makes a good introduction to the variety of human life in the Pacific.

It is however all in French. I have a basic grasp of the language1, but the good thing about academic language is that it’s full of nouns you can recognise. Try a translator like Systrans if you want a word-for-word and your French is not so hot. There is an info page in English, but it’s in a social-anthropology dialect of English.
[1] Really basic grasp, as in I can order food/ask for directions/comment on the weather.

peer reviewing

Two articles about peer reviewing from The Scientist:

  • Is Peer Review Broken: a state-of-the-system report. The table with odds for publication is especially interesting, for a given value of interesting = argh.
  • Truth or Myth: 3 common complaints about the peer review process examined.

The discussion regarding signing reviews is thought-provoking:

Nature journals let reviewers sign reviews, says Bernd Pulverer, editor of Nature Cell Biology, but less than one percent does. “In principle” signed reviews should work, he says, but the competitive nature of biology interferes. “I would find it unlikely that a junior person would write a terse, critical review for a Nobel prize-winning author,” he says.

Less than one percent is mind-boggling. I understand the principles behind anonymity, the candour it provides one to have–and the ability to maintain working relationships and friendships without “you rejected my paper” being an issue–but. My ideal world has an academic environment where the expression of a considered and supported argument does not hinder one’s career, and where rigor is provoked into quality, and I only see that happening when one can be proud to sign one’s name to a review.

expectant dads get fat + parable of hats

New Scientist reports on research in Biology Letters, demonstrating that, in marmosets and tamarind monkeys at least, dads-to-be put on weight during pregnancy as well as the mothers. The hypothesis is that the extra weight gain (about 10%) provides an energetic reserve for when the infants are born and dad has to cart them about on his back.

Pharygula has the most marvellously satiric parable: Planet of the Hats.