It's been a slow year in this blog - only eight posts, though most of them proved surprisingly popular. The post on Aztec political thought, in particular, was an unexpected hit, with more than 8,000 views so far, and my review of Randall Collins' Interaction Ritual Chains was even republished, with minor changes, as a more or less proper book review here. Many posts were about ritual, since for the first time I feel like I've "got" ritual; a friend told me recently that I was like a man with a hammer now, seeing ritual everywhere. In any case, thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared these rather irregular footnotes!
In the season's spirit of sharing, here are some links for your reading pleasure, some older than others:
- Phil Schrodt writes a dispatch on the insidious War on Yule:
Yes, the outward signs surround us: the evergreen wreaths on doors, the houses and streets festooned with lights against the darkness of December, the ubiquitous gaily-decorated trees—aluminum, plastic, occasionally real, all invoking the world-encompassing Yggdrasil—and festive gathering of friends and family  before the blazing Yule fire  to feast and drink mulled wine. Even that ever-present “Santa”: obviously an odd synthesis from many cultures, but coming out of the northern skies in a sled pulled by reindeer and accompanied by elves. The signs of Yule are everywhere.But this has become shallow amid the crass materialism, the anodyne references to “the holiday season” and the confusion of social obligations. Where has our appreciation of the true Yule gone?: the blessings of the wisdom of Odin, the protection given us by Thor, the abundance bestowed by Freya? Recognition that with the passing of another year, the guardians of Asgard have again held off the Frost Giants , Ragnarok is again deferred, and in a few months the light and warmth of summer will return?
- The Cognition and Culture Institute is hosting a Book Seminar on Ara Norenzayan's book "Big Gods" that is well worth reading.
- What happens when you program a bot to mashup the King James Bible and Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. (Via Charlie Stross).
- These Chavez and Bolivar murals from all over Venezuela cry out for further analysis. (The better ones appear earlier - scroll down for some truly striking ones).
- My family and I have really enjoyed the WTF evolution tumbler all year.
- On Pekka Hamalainen's "The Comanche Empire." (Via Cosma Shalizi).
- A Soviet adaptation of Winnie the Pooh.
And now for your regularly scheduled solstice extremophiles blogging:
Deep Lake in Antarctica. Crawling with haloarchaea.
Happy Yule/Winter Solstice/Summer Solstice!