Tag: Language

Talking monkeys

June 12, 2010 | By | Reply More
Talking monkeys

Robert Seyfarth describes how monkey calls used by Vervet Monkeys might be precursors to language. Vervets give different types of calls in reaction to different kinds of approaching predators. These calls are simple. They are not language, though Seyfarth suggests that these types of calls are precursors to language.

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Texas jury: It’s OK to say “shit” when referring to cat shit

June 5, 2009 | By | Reply More
Texas jury: It’s OK to say “shit” when referring to cat shit

According to a Texas jury, it was OK for a man to say “shit” when referring to cat shit to a 13-year old neighbor child. More precisely, his use of the word “shit” didn’t constitute “disorderly conduct.”

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The Happiness Project says: live better by deceiving your kids.

February 18, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
The Happiness Project says: live better by deceiving your kids.

I usually like the online magazine Slate. I listen to many of Slate’s podcasts, read several of the site’s posts a week, and peruse their author-run blogs on occasion, too. The site isn’t perfect, but I usually carry some respect for the site’s authors and its generally thoughtful, funny content. Exceptions being boneheaded pursuits like their recent attempt to track down the evolutionary origins of Facebook’s 25 Things meme (Hint to Slate: that trend dates back to the years before Facebook, the golden days of Livejournal).

But for all of Slate’s occasionally out-of-touch, misguided posts, nothing beats The Happiness Project. Authored by ex-lawyer and non-Slate author Gretchen Rubin, it’s a recent addition to Slate’s blog roll, and not truly a “part” of Slate itself. I still hold Slate somewhat responsible for sharing the drivel that the blog spews. I’ll give you a pretty representative taste: Five Ways to Outsmart Your 3-Year Old.

Let’s take Way #1. Gretchen writes:

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He’s/She’s doing “computer work.”

December 18, 2008 | By | 5 Replies More
He’s/She’s doing “computer work.”

Isn’t it time that we do away with the sentence, “He/She is doing computer work?”  It made sense 20 years ago, when everyone was spending inordinate amounts of time trying to get their computers to work at all.  But now we use our computers to actually accomplish an amazing variety of specific tasks, such as: […]

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Using the “war” label

October 16, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More
Using the “war” label

We can label our attempts to stop politically motivated violence in a variety of ways.  We could use the law enforcement metaphor or we could use the social epidemic metaphor.   The Bush administration, however, has consciously chosen to invoke the metaphor of “war.”   An article in the current edition of Scientific American Mind, “Talking about […]

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The annual non-sequitur of Easter (Or is God’s “gift” based on a warped version of the moral accounting metaphor?).

March 23, 2008 | By | 9 Replies More
The annual non-sequitur of Easter (Or is God’s “gift” based on a warped version of the moral accounting metaphor?).

Imagine that a neighbor walks up today and tells you that he really cares about you.   In fact, he loves you like a daughter/son and he wants to show his love.  You might be delighted to hear such an expression of affection.  Then imagine that he tells you that he wants to prove to you […]

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I wish all of those silly people would quit believing things that they can’t prove.

January 21, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
I wish all of those silly people would quit believing things that they can’t prove.

If you’ve ever had this thought that intelligent people never believe things they can’t prove, consider that some of the world’s sharpest and most skeptical minds have confessed in writing that they too believe things that they can’t prove.  You can read all about it in the 2005 Annual Question at Edge.org.  The question:  “What […]

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Introducing…

January 9, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More
Introducing…

Missouri’s first State Poet Laureate.  Walter Bargen. I can’t tell you how pleased I am by this.  Walter is a first-rate poet and, just if not more importantly, a decent human being. He will be formally introduced on February 13th at the state capitol.  After that, he will serve a two-year-term, administered by the Missouri […]

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Don’t mistakenly conclude that “experts” are wise.

January 2, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More
Don’t mistakenly conclude that “experts” are wise.

Edge.org has just released it’s Annual Question.  This year’s version: WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?”  I’ve read a couple dozen answers so far. As always, the answers are intellectually stimulating, challenging to common sense and entertaining. Television producer Karl Sabbagh weighs in this year with his realization that expertise has serious limitations.  I agree with him […]

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