Brace for Impact

Those currently afflicted knew it was coming… yet what preparations were made? Scientific data offered warnings. Of these warnings nothing came; Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Tibet are now all experiencing the repercussions.

Kanak Mani Dixit states that “This was a very class-conscious earthquake, in town & country it targeted underprivileged households with mud-mortar construction.” It is no coincidence that those who have been most affected by the earthquake are also those oppressed by poverty and weak communication infrastructure. I found it interesting that for many, the main form of preparation came in the form of prayer. Why was no preparatory action taken by the government or by members of the U.N.? Perhaps for the same reasons sea levels of New Orleans were never addressed.

On Saturday, April 25th 2015 an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude rocked central Nepal. Carole McGranahan speaks to the many unknowns that remain stating that there are “entire regions from whom we have not heard”. This being said I was surprised to learn that social media is the primary form of communication in this crisis. However, this reliance on social media must only further damage and prolong the effects of the earthquake.

Sources:

http://savageminds.org/2015/04/30/gone-the-earthquake-in-nepal/#more-16849

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A Place for Poor People?

Issues presented in the blog post A Place for Poor People? Peri-Urban Land and “Development” in Lesotho by Charles Fogelman and the anthropological article Vulnerability and Place: Flat Land and Uneven Risk in New Orleans by Craig Colton emphasized the importance of social stratification. Both accounts highlighted the unequal social repercussions experienced by the poor due to disparities caused by “economic growth” (i.e., the changes that impact the rich, but do not “trickle-down” to the poor). Interestingly, both authors seem to have alluded to individuals being able to help themselves. Fogelman emphasized the latter by stating, “the poor need to truly be at the forefront of planning and execution”. Though this appears to be a feasible approach, Colton presents a real world issue, which stems from the divergence between the wealthy and the poverty stricken.

Structural violence is oppressive and can be underscored in both accounts. In general, the social limitations, which are placed upon the poor, inhibit them from accessing their basic needs. In Vulnerability and Place, the individuals of New Orleans are prevented from remaining safe via their topographical location (i.e., below, at, or above sea level). Where as in A Place for Poor People the individuals of Lesothlo are unable to achieve social and economic growth based on the government’s decision to develop a golf course on land used for small-scale agriculture.

In general, cycles repeat themselves and the tendencies that form each cycle are difficult to change, especially when entrenched in a static and/or steadfast social setting. Would changing these stagnant environments be feasible or are there specific places that the poor do not belong?

Sources:

http://savageminds.org/2015/03/27/a-place-for-poor-people-peri-urban-land-development-in-lesotho/

Vulnerability and Place: Flat Land and Uneven Risk in New Orleans by Craig Colton.

“Savage Minds Reader Survey Results Part I: Demographics”

The blog post “Savage Minds Reader Survey Results Part I: Demographics” depicts the ethnicity, age, gender, and educational background of its blog visitors. A total of 430 people responded to the survey over the course of one month, with most of the visitors stating that they were from North America (270 people). It is amazing to me how this group dominated the survey. I expected a higher percentage of people to be from Asia (specifically China and Japan) and Europe, since there are more developed countries in those regions. Perhaps the reason why there were very few readers from these regions is because there are not many people familiar with the site, or perhaps not many people possess the technology they need to access the site. The blog also stated that most of its followers go to the site when they see something interesting on Facebook or other social media sites. This may be a big reason why North Americans account for the overwhelming majority of people who visit Savage Minds. North Americans love social media, especially Facebook, and it is one of the main ways Americans get their news. It is estimated that for every 5 webpage views, 1 was made through Facebook. What did not surprise me was that the age group of the sites most frequent viewers were in their 20s and 30s (32.1 and 37.7, respectively). This is most likely due to the fact that 90% of social-networking Internet users fall between the ages of 18-30.

I think it was clever how Savage Minds conducted an anthropological survey regarding its anthropology blog site! I think to make the survey better and more valid concerning its viewers, there would need to be a lot more than just 430 survey respondents, considering that 31,003 people visit the site, according to Google. There is also a risk that when you put out a survey, people will not answer it truly. To be more precise and have a better understanding of the groups visiting the site, more data must be taken.

Sources:

http://savageminds.org/2015/04/25/savage-minds-reader-survey-results-part-1-demographics/

https://zephoria.com/social-media/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/ 

http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Comment for “Is MRI Imaging the Answer for Diagnosing Mental Illnesses?”

One must take into account the rapid rate at which advances occur in both the scientific community and medicine when constituting something as “relatively new”. As the first MRI scan performed on a human dates back to roughly July 1977, I ask that you please reconsider your stance that Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a “somewhat new science”.

I must strongly disagree with your referencing of the field of Magnetic Resonance Imaging as “new age phrenology” as the article you reference articulates what appears to be a very sound study.

  • These researchers reported to have pooled data from 193 different studies resulting in
  • An (experimental group) of 7,381 patients with either schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and or some form of anxiety disorder.
  • Which they then compared with 8,511 MRI’s from healthy patients

The data being presented suggests a reliable correlation of mental illness with the three identified regions of the brain (dorsal anterior cingulate, right insula and left insula). To me this does not present as “blindly assigning”.

Phrenology is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules.

Pseudoscience: a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

Sources:

http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2015/02/06/common-brain-mechanisms-mental-illness/

http://www.teslasociety.com/mri.htm

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/phrenology?s=t

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pseudoscience?s=t

Kids Treat

In the article The kids form other neighborhoods, the author Matt Thompson discusses how “having kids makes the holidays more fun!” Halloween is one holiday in particular that is a “big deal” for the Thompson household. Having recorded giving out 30lbs of candy, roughly 100 glow sticks, and 200 stickers in a night. While some neighbors discourage the presence of “kids from other neighborhoods” trick-or-treating. Matt Thompson and his family recognize that they do not live in an average neighborhood. The Thompson’s reside in Hilton in Newport News Virginia. Hilton is a space that was shaped by a federal housing project for the shipyard workers of WWII. This resulted in Hilton being developed into a place that optimizes the land to fit the greatest number of houses. The neighborhood now home to predominantly white middle class has been redefined as a neighborhood perfect for trick-or-treating! Sporting sidewalks on either side of the street and houses very close to one another, it’s no wonder “kids from other neighborhoods” travel to trick-or treat here.

As one learns of the initial reasons for Hilton’s layout one can identify theories of space and place as the neighborhood transitioned from housing for shipyard workers of WWII to a neighborhood ideal for Halloween.  This redefined neighborhood is undoubtedly having a  direct impact on the childhood culture in Newport News Virginia.

http://savageminds.org/2014/11/04/the-kids-from-other-neighborhoods/

One More Game

In an interview with Natasha Dow Schüll the study of addiction is discussed and its applications outside of drugs and public health issues examined. Consumer interfaces and technology such as online gambling, social media, and apps are all less obvious forms of addiction. These interfaces are unlike drugs in that they are easily accessible by all ages and can be abused quickly, frequently, and without regulation. Natasha Dow Schüll says that the people in the world of game and app design don’t see themselves as in the business of producing addiction. However, in the fast paced society we live in it is easy for one to resonate with the wanting of the “reward” that is often just a click-away. This article examines the concept of implementing government regulation on the amount of hours that one is allowed to spend on online gambling and other interfaces such as Facebook. I believe that the introduction of a regulative body would be refuted and instead bring more attention to such addictive contemporary experiences.

“Solving the algorithm” of why technologically advanced cultures are transfixed with these interfaces? Is perhaps not as important as the impact downloadable apps/games are having on the younger generations. Even hospitals are changing the way in which they pacify children in waiting and recovery rooms; often providing the child with an Ipad to “keep him or herself entertained”. I fear that too many parents are not regulating the amount of time that their child or children are playing videogames.

http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2015/02/09/the-addiction-algorithm/

SHHH!

In the article “Unpacking an Erotic Icon: The Sexy Librarian” Dustin (Oneman) unravels the blog post Naughty Librarians and the Eroticism of Intellect by J.M. McFee. Dustin adds a historical and western cultural perspective to how the librarian, schoolteacher, and nurse became sexualized and turned into enduring erotic icons.

The article draws the reader in by analyzing so-called “radically desexualized” western cultural features; two fabrics being hairstyle and clothing. The article presents hair as a universal symbol for sexuality and in some cases a sexual status. “In the West hair is a link to the wild and animalistic – and “civilized” people keep their hair trim, just as they keep their sexuality in check.”

Dustin identifies that as women of the late 19th early 20th century began entering the workforce, librarians along with schoolteachers and nurses had to “wrap themselves in an aura of respectability”. It is ironic that this same “aura of respectability” “heightened desires to attain the prize underneath.”

Why is it that when something is made intentionally ambiguous that it receives more attention than it otherwise would? It seems as though ambiguity instilled curiosity, and with a twist of oppression, founded some today’s most popular erotic icons. These icons are deeply rooted in our western sex culture playing roles in movies, TV shows, commercials, erotica, and even come to life every Halloween.

http://savageminds.org/2014/03/26/unpacking-an-erotic-icon-the-sexy-librarian/