A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘anthropology

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling looks at the art scene in Istanbul.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with Tyler Cowen’s support for school vouchers.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes signs that the ephemeral Martian lakes were temporary creations of methane outbursts, and considers how to use WISE to hunt for Planet Nine.
  • Far Outliers looks at Britain’s contracts with petty German states for soldiers.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas looks at Trump in the context of the conflict between orality and literacy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Donald Trump’s complication of the United States’ China policy and reports that Seattle’s new minimum wage has apparently not led to job loss.
  • The LRB Blog reports on The Gambia on the eve of the elections.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that truth is essential for liberty and freedom.
  • From the Heart of Europe’s Nicholas Whyte looks at the strange history of an enclave on the border of Belfast.
  • pollotenchegg maps language in Ukraine.
  • Savage Minds announces that the blog will seek a new name, and that they are looking for suggestions.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s fertility uptick will not alter the dynamics of population loss, and reports on a Russian radical’s astonishing suggestion that Russia is now in the same position versus Ukraine as Nazi Germany was versus Poland.

[LINK] “Donald Trump, the First President of Our Post-Literate Age”

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I wonder if Joe Wiesenthal’s Bloomberg View essay is unduly unkind to traditional oral cultures. Honesty has almost always been praised, after all.

[A]ll this focus on fake Facebook news obscures a much bigger story about the way social media — the endless public opining and sharing of information — is reshaping politics. Even if you’ve never given much thought to its meaning, you’ve probably heard someone say “the medium is the message,” the famous dictum of media theorist Marshall McLuhan.

But what does that mean, and what does it mean specifically for the 2016 election? A possible answer can be found in the work of Walter J. Ong, a Jesuit priest and a former student of McLuhan’s at St. Louis University. In his most famous work, “Orality and Literacy,” Ong examined how the invention of reading and writing fundamentally changed human consciousness. He argued that the written word wasn’t just an extension of the spoken word, but something that opened up new ways of thinking — something that created a whole new world.

The easiest way to grasp the difference between the written world and the oral world is that in the latter, there’s no way to look up anything. Before the invention of writing, knowledge existed in the present tense between two or more people; when information was forgotten, it disappeared forever. That state of affairs created a special need for ideas that were easily memorized and repeatable (so, in a way, they could go viral). The immediacy of the oral world did not favor complicated, abstract ideas that need to be thought through. Instead, it elevated individuals who passed along memorable stories, wisdom and good news.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes city opposition to a new subdivision in Weston.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on KIC 7917485b, a massive gas giant found in close orbit of a star.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog dissects the idea of this being a season of giving.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Clinton’s vote lead over Trump surpassed two million.
  • Language Log looks at Chinese transcriptions of Donald Trump’s name.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money remembers Scott Eric Kaufmann.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the protests outside of Trump Tower.
  • Savage Minds considers the relationship of anthropology to racist founders.
  • Torontoist looks at new plans for Old City Hall.
  • Transit Toronto reports on holiday trains delivering goods to food banks.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how Uzbekistan has been settling disputes with its neighbours.
  • Arnold Zwicky reports on gardens and nature art from California.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Antipope shares a guest essay by an author pointing out how duelling was a social plague.
  • ‘Nathan Smith’s Apostrophen shares an essay noting that being a Donald Trump supporter who reads gay romance is a contradiction.
  • Beyond the Beyond notes new European Union interest in defense integration.
  • blogTO reports that a Torontonian designed the new Starbucks holiday cup.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders how much our parents shape us.
  • D-Brief looks at Semantic Scholar, an AI tool for scholars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on methane humidity near Titan’s surface and an active drainage system.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the interest of Florida attorney-general Pam Bondi at the interest of serving in the administration of Donald Trump.
  • Language Hat shares a lovely poem translated from the Russian.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the upsurge in hate crimes post-election in the United States.
  • The LRB Blog shares one man’s memories of Leonard Cohen.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the problems of Saudi Arabia.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the largely negative effect of the Internet, and social media, on the election.
  • Savage Minds notes how anthropology teachers can teach the Trump election.
  • Towleroad shares RuPaul’s horror at the election.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues the Gary Johnson candidacy helped Hillary, though by not enough.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that a state ideology would make Russia totalitarian.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond notes an upcoming exhibition of photos of Vaclav Havel.
  • blogTO notes a local controversy over the demolition of a community-built skate park.
  • Centauri Dreams considers how advanced starfaring civilizations might deal with existential threats.
  • Crooked Timber looks at how presidential debates could be used to teach logic.
  • Language Hat examines the origins of the evocative Slavic phrase “they perished like Avars.”
  • Language Log notes how “Molotov cocktail” was confused by a Trump manager with “Mazel tov cocktail”.
  • The LRB Blog notes Brexit-related insecurity over the rule of law in the United Kingdom.
  • The Map Room Blog notes an exhibition in Maine of Acadian-related maps.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the Hong Kong press has been influenced by advertisers.
  • The NYRB Daily looks an exhibition of abstract expressionism.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at what we can learn from Rosetta.
  • Savage Minds considers the place of archeology in anthropology.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus’ commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution and considers the dispute in Kazakhstan as to whether the country should be known as Qazaqstan.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • ‘Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith talks about when it is appropriate to judge a book by its blurb.
  • Beyond the Beyond examines the remarkable scandal in South Korea involving with the cult and its control over the country’s president.
  • blogTO notes unreasonably warm weather in Toronto this November.
  • Dangerous Minds shares a corporate sales video from the early 1990s for Prince’s studio.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the effect of Proxima Centauri on planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Extremo Files notes unorthodox ways of finding life.
  • Language Log talks about the language around Scotland and Northern Ireland and their relationship as complicated by Brexit.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting inheritances reduce inequality.
  • Savage Minds talks about an anarchist archaeology.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers a controversy at the Library of Congress.

[LINK] On a 19th century Inuit encounter with the walking dead … of the Franklin expedition

The National Post‘s Tristan Hopper reports on how the oral traditions of the Inuit describe their encounter, in the 19th century, with the “walking dead” of the Franklin expedition.

It was easily one of the most unearthly and chilling visions that had ever struck the land that would soon become Canada.

Eight or nine lurching figures: Their eyes vacant, their skin blue, unable to talk and barely alive.

It was sometime before 1850 at a remote Arctic hunting camp near the southwest edge of King William Island, an Arctic island 1,300 km northwest of what is now Iqaluit, Nunavut. And these “beings” had seemingly materialized out of nowhere.

“They’re not Inuit; they’re not human,” was how a woman, badly shaking with fright, first reported their arrival to the assembled camp.

They were all gathered in an igloo. The men of the camp were away seal hunting, leaving only the women, children and one old man.

As the group tried to process the terrifying reality of what they’d just heard, the crunching footsteps of the strangers got closer.

“Everyone got scared. Very, very scared,” was how the Gjoa Haven shaman Nicholas Qayutinuaq described the encounter to historian Dorothy Eber in 1999. The story was included in Eber’s 2008 book Encounters on the Passage.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm