Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Tutorial in Human Behavioral Biology

If you read only one book this holiday season, make it all of the following twenty or so!

But seriously … I’d like to do something today that I’ve been meaning to do, quite literally, for years. I want to run down a selection of readings that would provide any inquisitive person with a solid grounding in Behavioral Biological theory. At the very outset you need to know that this is not about Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology is something different. I’ll explain some other time what the differences are. For now, we are only speaking of fairly traditional Darwinian behavioral theory as applied generally with a focus on sexually reproducing organisms, especially mammals, emphasis on humans and other primates but with lots of birds because they turn out to be important.
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Be There Now: Friday, Bar Abilene, Minneapolis

This is almost like a Free Thought Blogs meetup, because there will be three or four of us Free Thought Bloggers there. If you are in the Twin Cities, go to Pharyngula and tell PZ he needs to come on over! (I have no idea what his plans are at the moment.)

To preserve sanity in the event of changing plans or other contingencies, I’ll send you HERE to get the details. Check bat at that location for updates, should there be any.

Kevin Drum on Black Friday’s Origin

The term “Black Friday” is said to refer to the day that so many people shop in US retail stores, the day after Thanksgiving, that retailer’s ledgers go from red (debit) to black (profit). But this appears to be a more recent use of the term which has been in use since the middle of the last century to mean something different. It was still used by retailers and other concerned with the hoardes of people shopping on Thanksgiving weekend, but not in relation to the ledger books. Rather, “Black Friday” was a bad day because it was when all those obnoxious shoppers, brats in tow, came into the downtown shops (in those days there were downtowns with shops) and annoyed everybody. And, the term seems to have been born and used for a long time nearly exclusively in Philadelphia. The term may have even started with the city police. And, the big Army Navy game held on that weekend was related to the crowds.

… all the evidence points in one direction. The term originated in Philadelphia in the 50s or earlier and wasn’t in common use in the rest of the country until decades later. And it did indeed refer to something unpleasant: the gigantic Army-Navy-post-Thanksgiving day crowds and traffic jams, which both retail workers and police officers dreaded. The retail industry originally loathed the term, and the whole “red to black” fairy tale was tacked on sometime in the 80s by an overcaffeinated flack trying to put lipstick on a pig …

Read about this fascinating story here at Mother Jones.