March Update

Completely irrelevant photo I took of Woody and his little friends in Kazakhstan, circa 2005

I’m trying something new today this month — an update of the stories that caught my eye over the past month but didn’t make it into full length blog posts. Here then, in alphabetical order, I present:


I think these headlines say it all:

From Study Suggests Chimpanzee Cultural Diversity Under Threat

From Humans are Wiping Out Chimpanzee Cultures

From the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology via, Chimpanzees lose their behavioral and cultural diversity


The upside of CLIMATE CHANGE 

It started with a comment I made on Marian Beaman’s blog, Plain and Fancy.

She’d written about her oak tree and asked us to write about ours. I wrote that I was now growing oak trees here in Vermont where, previously, it had been too cold for oaks to survive.  With thoughts of a possible upside to climate change in my head, I was drawn to  this article from the BBC entitled “Mount Everest: Melting Glaciers Expose Dead Bodies.

Yes, thanks to the melting of the glaciers on Mt. Everest, bodies of dead climbers are surfacing for the first time. Macabre, but good news I think, in its own way. Yes?

FOOD (Always A Good Source For Posts On Cultural Difference)

From (The Science of Everything) comes this goody:

Do you like your sushi raw? Turns out there may be a really interesting future for you. Here’s a brief excerpt to get the juices flowing. Or not.

Embracing the idea of putting arthropods on the menu – or, ground up into flour, in the bread – faces a number of attitudinal hurdles in cultures where insect-eating is not historically sanctioned. One of these, disgust, correlates strongly with willingness to eat raw fish. 

Do arthropods have a future on your dining table? Only time will tell.


The tragedy in Christ Church offered a model for how governments can respond when there is a will to do so. This is not the first time. We know Australia made a similar move following their mass shooting in Tasmania, their Port Arthur Massacre, that killed 35. Read more about how the Australian gun law changed in 1996 and an update on homicide rates there since in this article on from 2017. 

For further reading on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement  of “a national ban on all military-style semi automatic weapons, all high-capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns used to kill 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch last week” see the following links (on the photos).

“What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” she said, adding: “It’s about all of us, it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Both are from The New York Times.  First the news story from March 20:

And this photo below for the op ed piece by the Times‘ Nicholas Kristof.

I’ve thought often over the past six years of writing about gun control and the gun lobby in this country and our rather unusual love affair with weapons of various configurations, but I couldn’t find the paradox, the question, or the dilemma.  To me, the issue is simple and obvious. This is as close as I’ll come to writing about it.

Will gun laws change in the US in my life time? Only time will tell.

KAZAKHSTAN — the rare sighting

The president resigned.  This may not be a big story to the average American, but it is to those of us who’ve watched our friends and former colleagues in Kazakhstan struggle to build a life for themselves and their families. For example, while billions have been poured into making the capital (formerly called Astana, the Kazakh word for “capital”) into a modern archaeological mecca, the majority of Kazakhs living in rural areas are still without indoor plumbing.

The big question in Kazakh politics has long been, Who will succeed the aging President Nursultan Nazarbayev when he leaves office?  The big answer that usually followed, though not generally out loud, was His daughter, Dariga.

Sure enough, Nazarbayev’s hand picked Senate Chairman, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, moved into the President’s seat as stipulated in their Constitution and Dariga Nazarbayevna became Chair of the Senate.  See this article from Eurasianet for the story.

What will change in Kazakhstan as a result of this transfer of power — other than that Astana is now known as Nursultan — only time will tell.


I turned off Comments for this post. (Though my Contact page is available if something’s really pressing). I’ll be back at the end of April with another update (I hope). What will catch my eye over the next few weeks?  What will catch your eye? Only time will tell. (I’m picking up a theme here.)

Next Week — the Survey Monkey results

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