I just watched this 2003 TED Talk video lecture by Wade Davis, the pioneering ethnobotanist and anthropologist who has lived with an amazing array of indigenous cultures around the world. Of course, Davis is best known for his studies of ritual use of psychedelics and also the zombification practices among Vodoun acolytes in Haiti. I've found Davis's work to be personally inspirational, provocative, and mind-expanding. This TED Talk, titled "Cultures At The Far Edge of the World" is no exception. In it, he tells an amazing story about an wonderfully resourceful Inuit elder. Davis retold the same story in a recent Discover magazine interview, but I highly recommend the TED video too because it features many his breathtaking photographs. From Discover:
Davis: The Inuit didn’t fear the cold; they took advantage of it. During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand. As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form. He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.
We’ve covered Theodore Gray on Boing Boing a lot, and for good reason — he’s amazing. His Mad Science book was filled with spectacularly fun science experiments, he built a Periodic Table table with little compartments to hold samples of elements, and now he has a new coffee table photo book called The Elements: A […]
An appropriate book for this time, Soviet-era dystopian fiction grandmasters Boris and Arkady Strugatski considered Snail On The Slope “the most perfect and the most valuable of their works.” Snail on The Slope is comprised of two separate storylines, taking place in and on the edge of The Forest. Together they paint a vivid picture […]
(I originally reviewed this in 2008, but thought it was worth reposting, for obvious reasons. — MF) In World Made By Hand (2008) by James Howard Kunstler, the population of the United States (and most likely, the world) has been decimated by an energy shortage, starvation, plagues, terrorism, and global warming. The story takes place […]
Python is everywhere. Just look under the hood of virtually every major tech player of the 21st century and you’re likely to find a whole lot of Python-based coding language staring back at you. Case in point: Netflix. You may not know it, but from its security protocols to its much-hyped recommendations, it turns out […]
There are definite benefits to the whole work from home thing. The commute is a breeze. The dress code is supremely casual. And your boss has to work a lot harder to actually find you. Despite the joys, there are still some clear downsides to the whole home office thing as well. Job focus can […]
If you’re routinely prone to being stressed out, hurried or generally made out-of-sorts by the hectic pace of the world and life changes, then…yikes. We don’t envy what you must be going through these days. Right about now, even the most zen and centered among us are bound to be feeling some level of anxiety […]