The author, holding a bokken (wooden sword).

The Weapon as Mere Object

  This is an edited version of an article that I wrote for the Aikido World Alliance newsletter in the Fall of 2013. As far as I know, Malala Yousafzai has never studied Aikido. Ms. Yousafzai is the Pakistani teenager who, while advocating for the education of girls in the Swat valley, was shot in an attempted assassination. After being shot in the head and recovering, she has gone on to become a global advocate for the rights of women and girls. In doing so, she is directly challenging the …

Online Education

Online Education

Starting this summer I have been developing some online classes for both International Studies and Anthropology at the University of Memphis. I’m excited by the prospect, and at the same time I am facing what I hope will become a productive tension between the technology of learning and the technology of the Internet. In this blog post I want to unravel that tension and jot down some fragments of ideas for the future. For any students who might be reading this, when I use the term “technology” here I am talking …

Knitting, Materialism, and Spirituality

Knitting, Materialism, and Spirituality

The hardest part is maintaining just the right amount of tension. Too little and the yarn doesn’t maintain its shape. Too much and you can’t fit the needle through on your next pass. I don’t normally knit during meeting: I worry that the clicking of the needles will be a distraction to others. But, one day in the spring I brought my knitting in with me to work on a project. As I sat in the meeting house I started to reflect on spirituality and materiality. My key point in …

FYI: My Erdős-Bacon Number: 9

FYI: My Erdős-Bacon Number: 9

For those who enjoy such things, a quick calculation of my Erdős-Bacon number.  One’s Erdős number is the number of links, via co-authorships in scholarly publications, it takes to reach mathmetician Paul Erdős. Similarly, the Bacon Number is the number of links to reach actor Kevin Bacon via screen appearances. The Erdős-Bacon number is the sum of those two, for people who have finite numbers for each. Carl Sagan has an Erdős-Bacon number of no more than 6, and Steven Hawking has an Erdős-Bacon number of no more than 7. We use the …