A Week of Anthropology.

Why yes, I did slightly change the blog banner! Thanks for noticing!

Monday we watched the first of a four part BBC mini series called “The Human Face”. “Face to Face” talked about how we have forgotten the benefits of being with others. The human face has the ability to do over seven thousand expressions, our computers can barely do half that. Or sure, we have emoticons that pretend to show others how we feel, but it really is not the same as sitting with someone face-to-face. We can tell when people are lying; and funny enough, we aren’t really that good at reading other’s expressions. It really is the only way we can “read someone’s mind” and get a wee bit of an idea at what someone else is thinking. It really is quite important to watch people’s face when they’re talking even more so if you are arguing with someone. There are just the tiniest clues that tell a world of things, but you’ve got to know what you’re looking at and of course actually be looking.

For instance right  now you probably have no idea how I’m feeling. How could you? The previous paragraph gives no clues at all at my feelings. Perhaps a little of my opinion of what I believe when it comes to face to face interactions, but not at all that I am feeling tired, stressed, sad and lost. Now of course if we were face to face you might have been able to pick up on some of what I am feeling just by how I look and act. Seeing as this is the Internet and there is a great chance you have never met me (knowingly at least) outside in the real world you probably have no idea how I normally look and act so you might not notice.

You ever wonder why there is no “pedestrian rage” as there is “road rage”? Know what the ONLY difference between pedestrians and drivers is? If you said a vehicle, you’re right. Pedestrians can actually see each other as they’re walking and if you have ever not paid attention where you were walking and almost plowed into another walking person you probably muttered an apology or at least flashed one on your face. Do the same thing in a car and you get the other driver making obscene gestures in your general direction and probably saying stuff that would make their Great Grandmother blush. Even if you say or look sorry, how can the other driver see it? They generally cannot as so for some reason we take great offense when someone almost plows into us when we’re driving. Of course there is the obvious fact that plowing into someone in a vehicle can be more deadly than if you are walking (unless you are carrying loads of really hot McDonald’s coffee or knives or have pointy things coming off your person of course) it is the facial expressions that keep us from beating or yelling at each other on the sidewalk–usually at least.

Laughter is the best medicine. I am sure like me you have heard that many times. Well it is an actual truth. Who knew? Except perhaps the person who coined that phrase originally (yeah you know I’m googling that now don’t you. Seems like no one knows who actually coined that phrase, but you might want to check out the side note paragraphs.). But I am sure you know it is true. But did you know there are 600 laughter clubs in India who all they do is get together and for 15-20 minutes do nothing but laugh. It’s easy to laugh when everyone around you is laughing and the best part is it doesn’t have to be heartfelt laughter to work. The body cannot tell from fake or real laughter so either type will do you some good, so laugh. Who cares why, who cares where (best wait till after lecture though) , just laugh for 15-20 minutes and you’ll feel better. So the mysterious “they” tell us!

Side Note: It’s always fun to find things related to what you Google for (you loose this with Bing apparently but I don’t care to use Bing as I am happy with Google and it’s wealth of information), and I came across another popular phrase about laughing: “I died laughing”. Like me you probably take that as something was extremely funny and so you laughed so hard it hurt and you were hurting so much that it could feel like dieing. But apparently (and I didn’t go looking more into this and I know better to trust everything off of Wikipedia) some people actually have died from laughing:

Historical deaths attributed to laughter

* In the third century B.C., the Greek stoic philosopher Chrysippus died of laughter after giving his donkey wine, then seeing it attempt to feed on figs. Cheshire Note: I don’t think I’d have died laughing at this, but I am sure that was one hell of a funny sight!

* Martin I of Aragon died from a lethal combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter

* Pietro Aretino, who died in 1556, “is said to have died of suffocation from laughing too much”.
* In 1660, the Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English Thomas Urquhart, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.

Modern deaths attributed to laughter

* On 24 March 1975, Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King’s Lynn, England, died laughing while watching the “Kung Fu Kapers” episode of The Goodies, featuring a kilt-clad Scotsman battling a vicious black pudding with his bagpipes. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter, Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and died from heart failure. His widow later sent The Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell’s final moments of life so pleasant.

* In 1989, a Danish audiologist, Ole Bentzen, died laughing while watching A Fish Called Wanda. His heart was estimated to have beaten at between 250 and 500 beats per minute, before he succumbed to cardiac arrest

* In 2003, Damnoen Saen-um, a Thai ice cream salesman, is reported to have died while laughing in his sleep at the age of 52. His wife was unable to wake him, and he stopped breathing after two minutes of continuous laughter. He is believed to have died of either heart failure or asphyxiation.

Fictional deaths attributed to laughter

-J. P. Cubish from Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters.
-The “Killer Joke” sketch by Monty Python.
-The Toon Patrol in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
-In one of the Give Yourself Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine, it is possible to get an ending where chimpanzees tickle your feet until you die of laughter.
-Kenny McCormick, a character on South Park, suffers said fate in the fifth-season episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die”.
-Ana in the play, The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl.
-Jerry’s friend, Fulton, in the Seinfeld episode entitled “The Stand-In”.
-In the Batman franchise, famed villain The Joker often kills his victims using a poison that causes uncontrollable and quickly fatal fits of manic laughter – the victim’s corpse is often left with a huge ghastly smile reminiscnt of the Joker’s own. In the 1989 film, a news broadcast reporting on a scheme involving this very toxin (named “Smilex” in this film) is cut short when one of the reporters begins laughing hysterically, as if amused by the sinister plot, before collapsing dead with the characteristic rictus.
-At the end of the film Mary Poppins, Mr. Dawes, Sr. (Dick Van Dyke) is said to have literally died laughing after being told a joke: “I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.” “Really? What’s the name of his other leg?”
-In Episode 12 of Season 1 of 1000 Ways to Die, a man dies after laughing continuously for 36 hours at an unknown joke.
-In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs where the heroes cross the “Chasm of Death”. The chasm is filled with gas fumes (a mixture of helium and laughing gas, causing anyone who breathes in it to laugh uncontrollably while speaking in a high-pitched voice). Although the gas is not the actual cause of death, victims usually cannot stop laughing and thus die while trying to cross the chasm.

Kuru (disease), also known as “laughing sickness”

Wednesday I didn’t go to class. Now this is NOT something I would normally do, miss a class I like, but it was Halloween and I decided to dress up and go to class. Got to school and sat in the parking lot looking around. Not a single person dressed up. Not a costume to be found, so instead of getting out and going to class, I started the car and went home saddened to the core that not even community college students had the desire or gumption to dress up (of course any other day of the year…). Halloween is a big thing for me, always has been and it broke my heart to see no one seemed to share my enthusiasm for the holiday (we don’t need to get into histories of the holiday or what Halloween really is suppose to mean-save that for another post), which is something I am not used to. Last year I dressed up and went to class and some people had also dressed up. Of course I wasn’t wearing an overly eye catching costume last year either, but it isn’t something that normally bothers me. I do have the lecture powerpoint and of course I can (and have a little) read the chapter, so this one I’ll have to get back to you on. I know it’s about money and how in the past we worked with our kin (that’s old speak for family) so there was no need for a bring your kid to work day as they’d be there with you already anyway and how we struggle with the need to work and bring in money and our need to be with our family. For some reason between then (possibly 10,000 years ago) and now we separated work and family. I’ll finish reading the chapter and looking over the slides and get back to you on it sometime this weekend.

Until then, dress up for Halloween. There is no age limit or they wouldn’t have adult costumes. Granted some of those are really stupid and not quite tasteful, you can always create your own unique costume. Never lose that inner child, it really isn’t worth it.

Categories: Anthropology | Leave a comment

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