Fascinating little tidbit that I ran across today: In 1854, 1 in 155 residents of Martha's Vineyard were deaf—compared to 1 in 5728 as the national average.
Historians trace those high rates of deafness back to a genetic variation common in Weald, England. People from this rural, sparsely populated region moved to Martha's Vineyard in the late 1600s, where they joined a pretty genetically isolated population, with few off-island marriages. The result was a high rate of this specific kind of deafness. That's interesting enough, but what's really amazing is how the genes shaped culture.
Until the 20th century, deafness was an unremarkable, normal part of life on the island—akin to the level of "oddness" or handicap we'd ascribe to left-handedness today. Pretty much everyone, deaf or hearing, spoke a local version of sign language, which made it possible for the deaf to be fully integrated into society without anybody really missing a beat.
Martha's Vineyard Sign Language is mostly dead today, but it has an important legacy. In the early 19th century, children from the island brought their language to America's first school for the deaf, where it mingled with French Sign Language and other colloquial home sign traditions to create modern American Sign Language.
WeWantPlates is a subreddit featuring weird plates, plates made of weird materials, and food served on things which are not even plates. The interplay between amused detachment and seething contempt is a microcosm of something much larger.
Brexit is not the cause of Britain’s renewed interest in its weird folk heritage, in the joys of cults and pagan sex. But the sudden veering into that world’s darker side, where violence and groupthink and human sacrifice rule, seems guided by its anguish and sickly glee. Here’s Michael Newton on the new flowering of […]
Liam Williams was given money by the BBC to explain the success and culture of YouTube vloggers. A search for the next megastar vlogger finds an unlikely victor in struggling comedian, Liam, who must undertake a series of challenges in order to win a £10,000 prize. Along the way, several successful YouTubers give him help […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]
Guaranteeing your privacy online goes way beyond checking the “Do Not Track” option in your browser’s settings. To ensure that your internet activity is totally hidden from Internet Service Providers, advertisers, and other prying eyes, take a look at Windscribe’s VPN protection. It usually costs $7.50 per month, but you can get a 3-year subscription […]
This project management bundle will help you get organized and learn how to lead a team to success. You can pay what you want for these five courses when you pick them up from the Boing Boing Store.To help you become an invaluable asset for your company, this bundle includes a curated collection of professional […]