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.
Years ago, I read a bit of advice in The Whole Earth Catalog, which said a great way to get up to speed on a subject you are interested in is to read a children’s book about it. It’s excellent advice, and I’ve made use of it many times over the years. The best children’s […]
I came across Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life when I took my kids to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2009 and found it in the gift store. It was written by philosopher Roger-Pol Droit, a researcher at the Centre de Recherche Scientifique and, as the title indicates, […]
We’re at the midway point of 2020. So…how’s the year going for you so far? Yeah…we can guess. But while there’s a lot about 2020 we can’t directly control, maybe a little retail therapy can help make you feel better. Sure, the 39 items we gathered together can absolutely bring a smile to your face. […]
When revved-up kids used to dribble a basketball through the kitchen or practice their footwork with a soccer ball in front of the television, exasperated parents would often just send ‘em outside to play. But these days, sending kids out might not be the best course of action. Despite all the changes, many budding young […]
When you sit down to play a new AAA video game like The Last of Us 2, you probably assume it was created by gaming experts with insane levels of artistic and technical talent. And…you’d be right. Top developers are craftsmen of the highest order, pouring literally thousands of man-hours into creating the greatest gaming […]