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.
Number 1, of course, is the source of the Amen Break. But a surprise or two lurks in the top 10, as calculated by Who Sampled, a truly amazing website that tells you the when and where and what of samples for singles over the last few decades.
LA is chock full of beautiful theaters, but the one to be at on Wednesday nights is the famous Fais Do-Do Ballroom. It’s not because of the rich history that oozes from its architectural pores – it’s because that’s where Scot Nery will be. And when you go to his show, don’t be surprised if […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
I’ve never really felt the need to purchase a smartwatch because a lot of them aren’t very functional, but at just shy of $30, the Martian Notifier Smartwatch was worth checking out. For that low of a price, it actually does feature an impressive amount of functionality, and comes in handy when you don’t want to be carrying around your […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]