strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Why Babies Still Take Daddy’s Surname

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 24, 2011

Why do kids still typically get their Dad’s surname, 50 years after the rise of feminism?  Today’s New York Times offers an explanation that hadn’t occurred to me:

Traditional practices grew out of a male-dominated culture and a need for simple rules. But there is another, less obvious motive: to hold men accountable for their offspring.

“How do you attach men to children?” said Laurie K. Scheuble, a senior lecturer at Pennsylvania State University who has done several studies on naming practices. Names are “a very functional and practical way” to do so.

The article goes on to suggest that “perhaps, in an age when men wear BabyBjorns, it is no longer always necessary.”  But despite our delusions of modernity, the writer inadvertently reveals that  even college professors apparently still rely on another ancient means of keeping restless and paternity-insecure  males attached to family:  Jocular talk about how much the kiddies look like them..

When Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, 32, an English professor who lives in Portland, Ore., married Laura Rosenbaum, he toyed with the idea of a creative synthesis.

But “Rosenpollackpelznerbaum sounded like a weapon of mass destruction,” he said. When they had a son, giving him Daniel’s last name seemed too complicated, so they gave the baby Laura’s.

Mr. Pollack-Pelzner initially worried that having a different name would arouse suspicions, leading to airport frisks and other indignities. But since his son was born, “I’ve hardly thought about it at all.” No one has ever challenged whether he is the toddler’s father: “The poor guy is cursed to look just like me.”

You can read the full article here.


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