The First Word.
A new Electric Sheep
comic by Patrick Farley on the psychedelic origins
of language. [NSFW, Via]
An Era in Ideas.
"To mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, The Chronicle Review
asked a group of influential thinkers to reflect on some of the themes that were raised by those events and to meditate on their meaning, then and now. The result is a portrait of the culture and ideas of a decade born in trauma, but also the beginning of a new century, with all its possibilities and problems." [Via]
The Ashtray: The Ultimatum.
Part one of a series by Errol Morris on meaning, truth, intolerance and flying ashtrays. [more inside]
Information-age math finds code in ancient Scottish symbols.
"The ancestors of modern Scottish people left behind mysterious, carved stones that new research has just determined contain the written language
of the Picts
, an Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from 300 to 843. The highly stylized rock engravings, found on what are known as the Pictish Stones
, had once been thought to be rock art or tied to heraldry. The new study
, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, instead concludes that the engravings represent the long lost language of the Picts, a confederation of Celtic tribes that lived in modern-day eastern and northern Scotland."
The universal grammar of birdsong is genetically encoded.
"A new study
, published online
in the journal Nature
, shows that the songs of isolated zebra finches
evolve over multiple generations
to resemble those of birds in natural colonies. These findings show that song learning in birds is not purely the product of nurture, but has a strong genetic basis, and suggest that bird song has a universal grammar, or an intrinsic structure which is present at birth."
Scholars at odds over mysterious Indus script.
The Indus script
is the collection of symbols found on artifacts from the Harappan civilization
, which flourished in what is now eastern Pakistan and western India between 2,600 and 1,900 B.C. A new analysis
using pattern-analyzing software
suggests that the script may constitute a genuine written language. [Via]
"Cultures at the far edge of the world"
) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual"
). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis
) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
Don Berto’s Garden.
"The plants of the ancient Maya whisper their secrets to those who speak a shared language."