The Christian Way (to Call Someone a Bastard)

A guy was getting ready to tee off on the first hole when a second golfer approached and asked if he could join him.

The first guy said that he usually played alone, but agreed to the twosome. They were even after the first few holes.

The second guy said, “We’re about evenly matched, how about playing for five bucks a hole?”

The first guy said that he wasn’t much for betting, but agreed to the terms.
The second guy won the remaining sixteen holes with ease.

As they were walking off number eighteen, the second guy was busy counting his $80.00. He confessed that he was the pro at a neighboring course and liked to pick on suckers. The first fellow revealed that he was the Parish Priest.

The pro was flustered and apologetic, offering to return the money. The Priest said, “You won fair and square and I was foolish to bet with you. You keep your winnings.”

The pro said, “Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”

The Priest said, “Well, you could come to Mass on Sunday and make a donation…
And, if you want to bring your mother and father along, I’ll marry them.

An Infographic about Infographics

I like the way the people who made this infographic assume that nothing comes before the infographic. (What? They couldn’t even be bothered to read Tufte’s book?) And don’t get me started on their normalizing the Google Ngram results so that the top result is 100 and everything ranges from there. Still, somehow this thing was compelling. Maybe because it argues for how good infographics are at communicating vital information without really having that much information itself?

Leuchtterm Notebooks Are How Much?

When I switched to Leuchtterm notebooks I did so for a couple of reasons: their ruling was lighter; reviews reported better paper; and the price of the notebooks was less than the Moleskine’s I had been using for the past decade.

Well, that decision appears to have bitten me, rather badly:

Leuchtterm Notebook at Amazon

Leuchtterm Notebook at Amazon

The Copyright Valley

> Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)

Some are calling it “the copyright hole”, but I think the copyright valley describes the graph’s appearance, especially when you mash it up with Psalm 23 (above):

The graph, based on recent research using Amazon's database, reveals the drop in sales of texts published between the years 1910 and 1990.

The Copyright Valley

_The Atlantic_ has [the report][], with a link to [the study][].

[the report]: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/07/the-hole-in-our-collective-memory-how-copyright-made-mid-century-books-vanish/278209/
[the study]: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2290181

Some of the Questions I Get

I know I am not alone, neither as an university professor in general nor as a professor of folklore in particular, in getting a wide variety of inquiries by e-mail and by telephone. A recent appearance in an article on local folk healing practices in the local paper, for example, netted me a telephone call from a gentleman wanting to know if he was doing things right. I also regularly get inquiries from journalists, filmmakers, and writers.

A recent inquiry from someone claiming to work for a British television production company, and which had an internal bounce address of `jamieoliver.internal` contained the following:

> Dear Professor Laudun,
>
> I hope all is well with you.
>
> Please forgive the random email but I just wanted to ask you a question regarding an article I found about the Cajun Microwave.
>
> My name is Patrick and I am currently working on a UK based TV series about food. I am currently investigating this cooking instrument (also known as La Caja China, Inversion Cooking Box or The Chinese Magic Box).
>
> My questions to you are:
>
> * What is the origin of this cooking device? (Online there seems to be various origin stories, some suggesting Cuba, some suggesting China as the inventors of this concept).
> * Why is it referred to as a Chinese Magic Box?
> * Are there any unique facts about this instrument that aren’t widely known?
>
> I appreciate it’s a big ask but it would be fantastic to learn more about this item and I know you are the perfect person to ask considering your wealth of knowledge.
>
> Anyway it would be fantastic to hear from you.
>
> Thank you so much for your time and all the very best to you.
>
> Kindest regards,

This was a more precise question than normal, and so I hope my response was helpful. I got a nice note of thanks. Here’s my note:

> Interesting you should ask. I just finished interviewing the man who made several thousand Cajun microwaves in the 1980s and actually several patents on refinements he made.
>
> The larger history is less exotic that perhaps some of your sources might suggest: the Cajun microwave is, like a lot of devices/utensils like it, a version of the Dutch oven — those large cast iron pots with rimmed lids that allowed you to place coals on top, so that cooking can either be accomplished from both top and bottom or only from the top. The Cajun microwave, according to Kurt Venable, the man I interviewed, is a refinement of the Russian camp stove, which is itself a sheet metal version of the Dutch oven.
>
> But you should also know that the moniker of Cajun microwave was applied to a variety of cooking technologies that were seen as perhaps less “technological” in nature. I’ve heard pits dug for pig roasts — called locally “couch on de lait” because it’s usually a suckling pig that’s cooked — that are lined with sheet metal to reflect and intensify the heat called “Cajun microwaves.” It’s a kind of self-deprecating humor that you no doubt have encountered among a number of groups that have a complex relationship to what is generally described as “mainstream” culture.
>
> Because of the high level of acumen with sheet metal work in particular and metal work in general — because of the oil industry — there are a wide variety of local, and individual innovations on common cooking technologies like barbecue pits, smokers, etc. I have seen a lot of metal tanks and pipes cut up and welded together again with a great deal of thought given to careful control of the heat and smoke.

A more typical kind of question looks like the following from a novelist:

> Hi John,
>
> I found you through the UL website. I’m a reporter and novelist based out of Houston. Right now I’m researching Cajun folklore and I’m trying to find out if there is a Grimm Brothers-type of counterpart for Cajun folklore.
>
> My book takes place in 1926 New Orleans so ideally I’d like to know if there was a major folktale collector before or during that time period.
>
> Any ideas?

Okay, I admit it’s a little weird when people write you out of thin air as if you were a long lost friend, *Hi, John*, but you get over it after a while and try to focus on content you can stand behind and that the inquirer might find useful:

> The only collectors active in Louisiana before, or during, 1926 would have been Alcee Fortier, George Washington Cable, and Lafcadio Hearn. Of those three, Fortier was the most systematic in his work. Much of his work is referenced in the two great indices of folklore scholarship, the Aarne-Thompson tale-type index and Thompson’s motif index. Seeking an exact counterpart to the Grimms one hundred years after the Grimms is a bit like seeking good wagon builders in twentieth-century Detroit. The Grimms collection is an interesting one, but flawed in many, many ways — especially as it increasingly responded to being a blockbuster print publication and William kept cleaning things up. But, in general, texts you’ll find collected by folklorists will be much more raw than those that are represented by journalists. Saxon et al’s work is interesting, for example, and reaches back into the era that interests you, but it’s not clear how much has been added by the authors themselves, who were quite accomplished literary entrepreneurs in their own right and enjoying the “authenticity” such materials lent to their own images and publications.
>
> I hope that helps.

And that’s just July 2013. It’s all year round.

re: Funny Stuff

Keep your sense of humor boys and girls

Eight Words with two Meanings
1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female…… Any part under a car’s hood.
Male….. The strap fastener on a woman’s bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female…. Fully opening up one’s self emotionally to another.
Male….. Playing football without a cup.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female… The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner.
Male… Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko- mit-ment) n.
Female….. A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male…… Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female…. A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male…… Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female…. An embarrassing by-product of indigestion.
Male…… A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding.

7. MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female…… The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Male….. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female…. A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male… A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

AND;

He said…. I don’t know why you wear a bra; you’ve got nothing to put in
it.
She said…. You wear pants don’t you?

He said….. Shall we try swapping positions tonight?
She said… That’s a good idea – you stand by the stove while I sit on the
sofa and pass gas!

He said….. What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
She said ….Turn sideways and look in the mirror!

He said….. Why are married women heavier than single women?
She said….. Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to
bed. Married women come home, see what’s in bed and go to the fridge.

SEND THIS TO A SMART WOMAN WHO NEEDS A LAUGH AND TO
THE GUYS YOU THINK CAN HANDLE IT

Anthropology of the Contemporary Moment

[Rick Salutin argues][], in a column in the The Toronto Star, that:

> The strength of anthropology at the moment, I’d say, comes when it turns its eye to our own society as just another tribe or collection of humans trying to make symbolic sense of their experience — rather than looking back on other collectivities as if we alone have reached some satisfying, inevitable progress toward which those primitive versions are striving. It’s less about making sense of the past than casting an anthropological gaze on the present. This seems to unbewitch the level of “achievement” we’ve reached. We start looking like just another weird bunch of human creatures trying to make sense of their odd predicament, like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes when he finally gets it.

I’d agree with him, obviously, as someone working within the sphere of American ethnology, but I am also reminded of something an apprentice anthropologist once observed while we all waited in a classroom for our seminar with Dick Bauman to begin: “Have you ever noticed that the people we send to study other cultures don’t fit very well into our culture in the first place?” It was a brilliant bit of insight, if not entirely true because there were a fair number of rather normal people in the room and in the two programs, cultural anthropology and folklore studies. (The assertion of normalcy will have to be qualified by the fact that the two fields are both highly synthetic and neither offers firm job prospects in the same way that, say, linguistics or paleontology or communications do, so they do tend to attract people with perhaps a little less intellectual and economic focus. Whether that’s good or bad is a debate external to the current topic.)

The same can probably be said who go on to be artists (painters and poets all): they are individuals who at some point in their lives felt or perceived or imagined there was no ready place, desirable place, for them in what we call “the norm” and sought an alternative. How you negotiate that alienation is itself wildly variable. Some people feel the need to rebel really hard; others are just looking for a comfortable place to have a relationship with the perceived center of things. (I’m probably more on the latter end of the continuum, though no doubt my parents would assure you that I passed through some stage of firebrandry.)

It’s a kind of common metaphor to refer to artists as “antennae” of a society, picking up on undercurrents and missed opportunities that larger, more assured forces cannot detect. I would argue that a good chunk of the social sciences and the humanities operate in much the same fashion — which would explain why all three are under such constant attack by conservative organizations. Salutin’s point is, I think, that what anthropologists are doing well is peopling the abstractions that economists discuss and by peopling them, they actually get at the living, breathing dynamic behind all forces in our social world(s).

Tip of the hat to [Jason Jackson](https://twitter.com/jasonjackson2) for the link on Twitter.

[Rick Salutin argues]: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/07/26/the_hour_of_anthropology_may_have_struck_salutin.html

Guide to Documentary Editing Now Open Access

Kline and Perdue’s _A Guide to Documentary Editing_ is now online and open access — that is, it’s no longer tied to having purchased a paper edition of the text. They note: “For the first time, users of the Guide will be able to do full-text searching of its contents as well as move freely through them using the dynamic table of contents. New material will be added on a regular basis and will be prominently featured so users can see at a glance what is new to the edition.”

[Here it is.](http://gde.upress.virginia.edu/note.html)

Weekend Update

So having the Damoclean sword for the boat book manuscript does amazing things. For the second day in a row, I have gotten up at 6:30 on a weekend morning and plunged into that list of tasks that always build up but detract from getting writing done during the week — what Stephen Covey once distinguished as the urgent versus the important. What have I done in the first few hours of these mornings?

– Written letters of support for promotion for colleagues (at R1s, no less, which is weird, because why would they ask me?).
– Mentored a recent graduate who was not my student nor even at my university, but she’s smart and she deserves the support.
– Transcribed notes from meeting with the BSA mobile app group and even accomplished the task therein!
– Caught up with all the stuff for the upcoming MLA meetings — AFS@MLA is back at two sessions, baby!
– Submitted paper for the upcoming conference in China.

Up next? Book some more airline travel and transcribe a recent interview with Kurt Venable (another little piece of the boat book).

Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity

From the [New York Times article][]:

> A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal [Psychological Science][].

[New York Times article]: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/us/study-finds-early-signs-of-creativity-in-adults.html
[Psychological Science]: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/psychological_science