Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Links, links, links...

Why have humans domesticated cats? Dogs do lotsa work and are easy enough to train (or so I'm told) but cats do nothing constructive whatsoever. Granted, they're great fun to play with, and waking up to find a purring cat leaning against you (hopefully not in your face) is a nice start to a day, but seriously, they've got our species duped, haven't they? Here's Scientific American on the issue.

One of my favourite books of all time is Guns, Germs and Steel, it being the most interesting summary of human history I've ever read, minus the fiddling about with dates, politics and nations, and just telling the story of the human race as just another interesting animal on our big, blue planet. Since reading that book, and a few others, Jared Diamond has been one of my favourite authors of all time. So I was a bit dismayed to find out about his article in the New Yorker being mostly fiction, and in breach of journalistic and anthropological standards. As such, he is presently in deep shit, and I'm not quite sure what to think of his books. :-(

On a related note, shortly after I'd read Guns, Germs and Steel, I despaired, because everything seemed to point towards a future in which humanity blithely bumbled into the Malthusian nightmare. I have since learned that though this may be true, there's no point in living in perpetual dread, because life's simply too short for that. Still, it's good to be reminded of what's coming every so often. Maybe the right people might actually do something about it.

I've suspected the existence of linguistic relativism to some small extent long before I'd read about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. As yet, I'm not convinced that any given language really determines cognition as much as reinforces the cultural norms in which said language developed. In any case, one thing that far too many Malaysians simply don't get is the sheer importance of achieving an adequate level of proficiency in a language, and the vulgarity of their command in any language they come into contact with shows in every aspect of their being. Here's an article from the Edge which gathers together much of what I've encountered in Kovecses' Language, Mind and Culture, and more.

Lastly, wanna know why Japan isn't taking a more active role in nipping North Korea's nuclear arsenal in the bud? Here's why:

That's right. When the going gets tough, the Gundam comes out to pop a can of whupass on you. More pics here.

Right, time to give those useless cats a bath. Seriously, sometimes I wonder just who owns who...

No comments: