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Check out the display cases at the ground floor entryway of ten Hoor and adjacent to ten Hoor's room 30. There are three brand new exhibits on the topics of “Anthropology in the News,” “Anthropology in the Movies,” and “Jobs in Anthropology.” There is a lot of important information in these exhibits, which I am sure will be of interest to many---especially to students interested in jobs available to Anthropology majors and minors. Thanks to graduate students Brass Bralley, Angelica Callery, Camille Morgan, Clay Nelson, Cynthia Snead, and Ashley Stewart for putting together these terrific displays.

And speaking of exhibits, does anyone recognize the curator in the lower right?

Harvard's Hall of the North American Indian exhibit at the Peabody Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary this month. Still up and running.
Harvard's Hall of the North American Indian exhibit at the Peabody Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary this month. Still up and running.

2-yr-old thinking of his next pivot
Cigarettes & smartphones, a 2-yr-old Indonesian meme's best friends...

Actually, I quote some other folks & said it's important & can have an immediate impact.  I wrote a piece comparing smartphones to cigarettes back in May based on some brainstorming I'd been doing in the classroom while teaching & even drew an original piece of art work for it that I thought quite clever.  Then, unlike the penis diversity post I later did inspired by someone else's blog post about weird turtle wangs & based on my primate sex lectures that use Allan Dixson's monkey penis drawings that rocketed to among the most viewed posts by hundreds on the EvoS site, the smartphone piece got a measly 20-something hits.  Well, today I got a call from's Doug Gross to interview me about that essay for a story he published today on the ubiquity of iPhones. They are out there, people, & they're reading (albeit in small print on their smartphones).

Here's the piece:

 Have smartphones killed boredom (and is that good)?

Doug Gross, CNN

Doug Gross, CNN

(CNN) -- Take a look around today at people in line at Starbucks, on the train platform or waiting for their bags at the airport.

Odds are, a huge chunk of them are staring down into a glowing mobile device -- passing time by checking on friends, catching up on texts or e-mail or playing a video game that would have required a PC or home console just a few years ago.

"That's me," said Jeromie Williams, a 36-year-old social media manager and blogger from Montreal. "If I'm on the bus. If I'm waiting in line somewhere ... .

"The other day I was at a restaurant with a friend. He got up two times -- once to smoke a cigarette and once to go to the bathroom. As soon as his ass was off the seat, 'Boom!' iPhone in hand."

Thanks to technology, there's been a recent sea change in how people today kill time. Those dog-eared magazines in your doctor's office are going unread. Your fellow customers in line at the deli counter are being ignored. And simply gazing around at one's surroundings? Forget about it.

Between smartphones, tablets and e-readers, we're becoming a society that's ready to kill even a few seconds of boredom with a tap on a touchscreen.

Smartphone ownership in the United States, and elsewhere, hit a tipping point in 2012. More people now own a smartphone in the United States -- 45% of adults -- than own a traditional cellphone, according to a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life project.

And 42% of all mobile phone users say they expressly use their phone for entertainment when they're bored. (Presumably, non-entertainment uses like texting and e-mail would jack that number up even higher).

"I do everything with my phone," said Alexandra Reed, 39, a self-employed single mom from Charlotte, North Carolina.

"I have five e-mail accounts for different things. I have two phones, one for business and one personal. I use apps -- Mapquest, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, CNN, ESPN ... ."

Is it a boredom killer? Absolutely, she said.

"Even when I'm driving, I might have Facebook open," she said. "At a red light the first thing I (do is) just look at my phone. I get a little anxious if I see a notification and don't read it."

Researchers say this all makes sense. Fiddling with our phones, they say, addresses a basic human need to cure boredom by any means necessary.

Christopher Lynn, an anthropology professor at the University of Alabama, compares tapping at smartphones to smoking a cigarette. Both can be "pivots," he says -- things that quickly transfer us from the monotony of everyday life into a world of "unscheduled play."

"Smartphones are like cigarettes are like junk food are like chewing your nails or doodling ...," Lynn wrote in a May essay for the Evolutionary Studies Consortium. "Does the naked space of your own mind and the world around you send you screaming into oblivion when you walk across campus, across a street even? Pull out your smartphone and check your email again -- that car will swerve around you."

With their games, music, videos, social media and texting, smartphones "superstimulate" a desire humans have to play when things get dull, Lynn told CNN in an interview. And he believes that modern society may be making that desire even stronger.

"When you're habituated to constant stimulation, when you lack it, you sort of don't know what to do with yourself ...," he said. "When we aren't used to having down time, it results in anxiety. 'Oh my god, I should be doing something.' And we reach for the smartphone. It's our omnipresent relief from that."

So, our phones are brutally efficient at addressing an ancient desire. But is that always a good thing?

At Oxford, England's Social Issues Research Centre, researchers fear it is not. In their view, by filling almost every second of down time by peering at our phones we are missing out on the creative and potentially rewarding ways we've dealt with boredom in days past.

"Informational overload from all quarters means that there can often be very little time for personal thought, reflection, or even just 'zoning out,' " researchers there wrote. "With a mobile (phone) that is constantly switched on and a plethora of entertainments available to distract the naked eye, it is understandable that some people find it difficult to actually get bored in that particular fidgety, introspective kind of way."

Williams, the Montreal blogger, admits as much.

"One thing that unfortunately I do miss out on is that sort of quiet time where I can think about something I want to write ... where, if I'm bored, I'm flipping open Word and punching something out," he said. "Instead, out comes 'Infinity Blade II' and I'm killing titans.

"Before smartphones came out, you had that down time where you sit on the bus and your mind just kind of wanders and you think of these amazing things. You get out that old thing called pen and paper and you jot it down."

But Joel Marx, a 25-year-old research assistant in Baltimore, Maryland, disagrees. Marx juggles two jobs and sees his phone as a way to be productive, and keep up with the news, during gaps in his hectic workdays. He relies on it for fun, but also for research and scheduling.

"I feel like it gives me a break from what's at hand," he said. "I even find it helps to keep me going through the day as I can get in touch with things in the outside world. Most of the time, I would have done nothing during those times anyhow."

Reed, the Charlotte mom, admits her phone use sometimes distracts her from work or even watching a movie. But compared to other time-killers, she thinks the phone is a good option.

"I actually feel more productive reading things online and on social media like Twitter and Facebook than if I was just sitting and watching a TV show," she said. "I follow people who are mostly sports and news anchors, people like that -- interesting people I know I can learn something from."

blowing your mind with geeky stuffThe main purpose of the UA Anthropology Blog Network is to engage in public anthropology, but it is also about networking. Of course, these are both related. Engaging in public anthropology is a great way to get yourself known as a scholar. But what's with the throwing things out into the virtual void & hoping the right quiet voyeur sees it? Yes, you could skip the modern day armchair anthropology & get yourself to a conference, or you could just be a more aggressive armchair anthropologist! How did Frazer & the other Victorians amass enough material to write volume upon volume of those hoary snoozefests (that you dutifully read, no doubt!)? They wrote letters & asked for people to send them stuff. I love this blog post from ProfHacker on the Chronicles of Higher Education blog site:  "Expand Your Academic Network in 5 Minutes."  How could that possibly be effective? Sadly, here's why:

We all know that the audience for academic publications is small, & one result of this is that you might never hear from anyone that has read something that may have taken you a better part of an academic year (or longer) to see into print. [WHAT WHAT?!?]  Writing to let them know that you enjoyed the piece is not only kind--something that we academics could spend some time working on in general--but also provides an opportunity to get to know someone new whose work is related to yours.

You don't have to buy personalized stationary (seriously, don't buy personalized stationary).  I have intuitively thought to track down my fellow lonely-academic-in-an-office-waiting-for-the-postman-to-arrive after a fashion (hey, with the advent of email, this is not rocket science), & it totally works (but not always--I generally strike out on cold emails about primate sexual behavior).  The real key is just finding any excuse to write to fellow scholars to talk to them about their work.  I always put it in an equally pathetic way to students--even that person who is a rock star in your field, that you have put on their pedestal, is just Tom, Dick, or Harry (or Sally, Jane, or Mary) to his/her neighbor who wishes they would mow their lawn more often or whatever, & who could care less about our little field ("Anthropology? You dig bones or work on CSI or somethin'?").