People & Culture

Anthropology, archaeology, sociology, psychology, and cultural phenomena, including public figures.

Killing in the Name of Honor

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture
How to be an Indian Women

Image by Heavenhated via Flickr

An Indian village on the edges of Delhi is reeling, and the whole world is in shock over the honor killings of two teenagers in love. They were beaten and tortured for hours, and eventually killed, by the girl’s father and other relatives. The reason? They wanted to get married, which was forbidden because they came from different castes.

The boy's family is asking for the death penalty for the killers. But the girl's family stands resolute in their belief that it had to be done to preserve the family's honor. The reason for the torture is less clear.… Continues …

Rethinking Royalty

— Filed under: Politics & Government, People & Culture
Crown princess Victoria of Sweden at the Swedi...

Image via Wikipedia

Sweden's Princess Victoria

With most of the world drifting toward democracy, or at least toward some sort of representative government, the question arises whether royal families are still needed.  Certainly, monarchies have gradually become less popular over the last few hundred years, as they are ousted by coups or just abolished outright.  But even in those countries where the monarchy still exists in a symbolic role only, the debate is growing as to whether they serve any useful purpose.

The upcoming wedding of Sweden's Princess Victoria has started some grumbling about the enormous cost to the state (estimated at $2.5 million USD), especially at a time when so many are struggling financially.  Many Swedes feel that the royal family is symbolic of the divide between the rich and the poor, an imbalance which is simply unacceptable to many in this day and age.  The article linked above also references a poll suggesting that support for monarchies is dropping throughout Scandinavia.… Continues …

Female Genital Mutilation "Lite"

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture

Source: Afrol NewsSource: Afrol NewsThe American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) has ignited a firestorm by suggesting that perhaps we should allow a small "ritual cut" instead of aiming for the elimination of genital mutilation altogether. They've since retracted the statement, but the debate rages on: is allowing a small symbolic cut the lesser of two evils?

Some condemn this idea and adopt a zero-tolerance view. But some people are starting to suggest that by making a small cut more available to families, performed by a doctor in a sterile environment, that we might be able to reduce the instances of infection and other complications.

Dena Davis, a professor at Cleveland State University, says that this kind of compromise might be effective in terms of "harm reduction", and uses Indonesia as an example, "where cutting has died out, according to the WHO, but a ritual form persists, involving a symbolic scratch of the clitoris."

Concerts in Cemeteries - Disrespectful of the Dead?

— Filed under: People & Culture, Business & Finance
Cemetery IV

Image by Bête à Bon-Dieu via Flickr

From the mummification rituals of ancient Egypt to the funeral pyres of the Vikings, every culture throughout history has had their method of honoring and commemorating the dead. Ground burial has been common to many societies around the world for thousands of years. In fact, burials may provide some of the earliest evidence of religion, according to Philip Lieberman.

It's no surprise then, that people have come to regard cemeteries as sacred places where a certain amount of decorum and dignity should be observed - generally in silence. "Respect for the dead", it's called.

Cemeteries, however, are reinventing themselves.… Continues …

Children: To Have or Have Not?

— Filed under: People & Culture

The Case Against Having Children

— Filed under: People & Culture
Parents & child; with cheese

Image by slightlywinded via Flickr

Is it really right to bring children into this world? Wouldn't it just be better for everyone if we didn't have kids?

In a recent NYTimes blog posting entitled "Should This Be the Last Generation?", Peter Singer posits that we shouldn't give birth, for the sake of our unborn children - and for humanity.

With the state of the world as it is, with global calamity and resource shortage, and the chance of our children enjoying happy lives appearing quite slim, this argument seems to make a lot of sense. Our offspring would seem doomed to a quite miserable existence, of our own making.… Continues …

A Eulogy to the Beautiful Game

— Filed under: People & Culture

Bafana-BafanaBafana-BafanaOver the next four weeks I will forget about going grey or my expanding waistline, worrying about paying bills, getting a pension, credit cards, shopping lists, licence renewals, healthy eating, sensible bedtimes or any of the other drudgeries that make up everyday life, because this week starts the biggest celebration of humanity in the world: The Football (or Soccer if you must) World Cup.

In South Africa, teams from the four corners of the world will arrive for a tournament that will be the talk of pubs, coffee shops and dinner tables from Addis Ababa to Zagreb. Every scope of human emotion will be displayed: joy, tragedy, hope, fear, bravery, stoicism, disappointment. Heroes and villains will arise, Davids will fight Goliaths and previously unheralded players from North Korea or Ivory Coast or Paraguay will capture the world's attention.

"Spiritual But Not Religious" - A Big Cop Out?

— Filed under: People & Culture
118/365 - meditate

Image by lisadragon via Flickr

"I'm spiritual, but not religious."

It's a phrase heard all the time these days. It refers to feeling connected with some higher power, but resisting organized religion. This has led to an acronym (SBNR) and a Facebook page. SBNR has been alternatively described as "Burger King spirituality" (have it your way) and "going on a spiritual walkabout". According to a recent Newsweek poll, 30% of Americans now refer to themselves as "spiritual but not religious". In England, only half of the citizens call themselves Christian.

So why is organized religion proving so unpopular these days? Certainly, daily news stories about the Catholic abuse scandal have added to an already growing disillusionment with the church in general. There is also a perception that religion espouses hatred, which is wholly unacceptable for most people in the age of tolerance for diversity. As Lady Gaga tells the Times Online:… Continues …

Evolution vs. Creation?

— Filed under: People & Culture, Science & Technology

Gun Spree in Northern England Raises Questions

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture
Google StreetView: Home and Taxi of Derrick Bird
Derrick Bird's home and taxi

It is with a heavy heart that I bring to your attention another unforeseeable and utterly pointless mass murder in the UK. Derrick Bird, a self-employed taxi driver from Cumbria, Northern England went on a rampage that lasted around 3 hours and ended with the gunman taking his own life. 12 people have been killed and several others injured. To read the full story click here.

This is the third mass shooting in the UK. In 1987 Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people and injured another 15 in Hungerford, Berkshire and in 1996 Thomas Hamilton gunned down 16 children and their teacher at their school in Dunblane, Perthshire.

The Dunblane tragedy led to a campaign to tighten gun controls and succeeded in making it illegal to buy or own a handgun.… Continues …

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