Gun Safety is a Philosophical Issue

YES to far more sensible gun-purchase background checks and restrictions. YES to more comprehensive mental health treatment options. It’s not EITHER-OR. I don’t know how we’ve gotten to the point that one of these strategies is assumed to exclude the other. (By “we,” I’m referring to the U.S. More on

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What Do Hair Salons Have to Do with Prayer, Magic, and the Development of Literacy?

It turns out, the first complete sentence ever written by a human (at least, as of what we know now) concerned hair. New archaeological evidence — discovered in Israel in 2016 and analyzed recently — confirms that “the oldest instance of a sentence written using the alphabet is on an

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Why “The Great Replacement Theory” is not a Theory, and why that Matters

The notion of a “theory” comes from science. As such, the term conveys all the legitimacy upon which the scientific method relies. It should not be tossed around casually like a frisbee in the park. The so-called “Great Replacement Theory” we are now reading about in mainstream publications is not

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Ten Treasures (and a Bonus): A Selection of Anthropological Gems You Might Have Missed from the Past Few Years

I began interviewing authors of fabulous new anthropology books for this space back in 2016. While completing 11 interviews, I also amassed a backlog of more terrific books whose authors I planned to interview. One thing led to another, and my embarrassingly accumulating backlog fell hostage to a pandemic. I’ve

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It’s Not “Just” a Symbol

The new Maya Angelou quarter is a symbol, yes. But not “just” a symbol. Because, symbols matter. If they didn’t, they would just be like other, ordinary stuff. If symbols didn’t matter, we wouldn’t fight over them. As in, people burning or otherwise desecrating flags when they’re mad at their

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What Should Teachers Teach?

Educators are wringing their hands these days about how much students have “fallen behind” the past year. But students everywhere have learned a great deal the past year. What they’ve learned is far from the classic facts that they get tested on in English and math classes. Knowledge about the world is up. Way up. This may be the biggest teachable moment in any contemporary schoolteacher’s career.  Teachers: grab it! What might new syllabi look like?

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A Tale of Two [Unvaxed] Women

We needed to find a new plumber. I called around. The first business that seemed willing to clean our boiler and replace a problematic hose spigot had availability soon. Before settling on a date, I remembered to ask the woman answering the company’s phone–let’s call her, Mary–a non-plumbing question: Will

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