Hang Out With Some Horses, I Guess? (AD S4E3)
I don’t really have much to talk about this week so this is going to be a short issue mostly focused on links that caught my attention, sorry!
“Dragon in the clouds”, 1832, Totoya Hokkei
Neat Linguistic Theory of the Week
Language Hat this week quoted from a book arguing that Papua New Guinea has extreme linguistic diversity not due to any geographic restrictions — indeed, linguistic diversity in Papua New Guinea is highest in the most densely-populated regions — but instead due to a cultural desire to differentiate from other cultural-similar groups nearby, using the medium of language to do so.
Don’t forget the comments! Various commenters bring up Bangime — a language isolate in southern Mali whose speakers apparently insist that they are Dogon ethnicity, even though other Dogon claim they are not and Bangime is not actually mutually intelligible with any Dogon dialect — and Boontling — an extremely-divergent-to-the-point-of-unintelligibility dialect spoken only in the small town of Boonville, California.
Meditation? What Is It Good For? Absolutely — Well, Let’s Not Be Hasty
Here’s an interesting article from Harper’s about the potential downsides of meditation, particularly intense mediation like vipassana, particularly those already at risk for developing psychosis, and how many practitioners (intentionally?) downplay the possibility. The articles does point out that there’s very little evidence that “average” meditation is harmful, especially for those who are healthy, but it is an interesting counterpoint to the narrative that mindfulness is an unalloyed good. It also underlines the fact that meditation was… not really a Thing™️, being mostly relegated to the monastery until the 20th century.
More On How History Is Unknowable
After last week’s discussion of history and how it’s, er, unknowable, historian Bret Devereaux (whose blog I’ve recommended before) has a post about the nature of ancient evidence and how it’s, er, light on the ground.
What Is Equus?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a New York Times article with as much baffled incomprehension as this profile of Equus, a service where you pay a few thousand dollars to… hang out with some horses, I guess? Sorry, I mean “commune” with them. But not ride them, that’s crazy. The most amusing part is when the journalist calls a vet to get their opinion. (h/t to Laura Olin’s newsletter, who called it “horse girl link bait”. I like to think I was a horse girl in another life even if I didn’t get to be one in this life, so of course I clicky-clicked right away.)
And I Thought These Newsletters Had Bad Titles
Here’s a Wikipedia article about a court case titled *United States vs. One Package of Japanese Pessaries (in case you didn’t know, because I didn’t, a “pessary” is a form of diaphragm for birth control). Amusing title aside, the background of the case is somewhat interesting — a doctor at one of Margaret Sanger’s (mother of birth control/eugenicist) clinics ordered pessaries from Japan in 1936, which were then confiscated under the Comstock Act (which apparently criminalized using the USPS to send contraceptives, sex toys, or letters with any sexual content??).
What’s New, Rooby-Doo?
It’s been nice and sunny in San Francisco this week, so Rooibos has been enjoying sunning himself: