The Bernie Meme—An Example of Cultural Diffusion

Knitters and Others are Spreading the Bern     The Bernie meme is giving us all a lot of laughs now that we have a new president as well as a vaccine coming our way. There’s Bernie on the Eifel Tower, sitting in the New York subway, hanging out with Batman, and on and on. Every time I see one of these altered photos I burst out laughing, and as an anthropologist, I am also so please to see the swift cultural appropriation of a cold guy at a traditional Western ceremony…

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Anthropologists In Space

The Otherworldly Tale of Anthropologists and Space Aliens     On October 4, 1957, Russia launched the first satellite, the first human-made object, to orbit the earth, calling it “Sputnik” which is Russian for “traveler.” America wanted to be the first in space — after all, the Cold War was raging, and the space race was part of that war — but it took a year before they launched a similar U.S. satellite. Those launches, and the space race in general, were signs of a massive, universal, culture shift for the human…

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Why Numbers Matter

    Numbers are drawn symbols, or figures, that represent something else. The sign 2 is not just a slinky line; it is a collectively recognized and agreed upon symbol for two of something. Throughout history, that representation has made life a lot easier for transactions among people — it’s a lot easier if I write “I owe you 2 cows” than bringing the cows physically into the conversation and parading them around and forcing you to see that there are indeed 2 cows. Numbers are also the symbols used in counting, a numerical…

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