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‘Arrival’ Is Smart, Stylish Sci-Fi About Language, Not Laser Beams

The premise sounds quite interesting. Realistically I doubt I’ll have the chance to see a movie until Christmas, but this is something to look forward to. So it’s time to move onto written language, and the most thrilling elements of the film are the geekiest ones: when Louise gets to explain what she’s trying to teach the aliens and why. To broach the essential topic (“What is your purpose on…

Scientists Trace Society’s Myths to Primordial Origins

Ancient cultures from Africa to Asia to the Mediterranean share core myths such as the animal pursued by a hunter who is transformed into a constellation, or a sculptor falling in love with a statute that comes to life, or a clever hunter outwitting a monster who keeps animals in a cave. This Scientific American article describes a method to trace the origin of stories through waves of human migration…

Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing.

When my students refer in passing to “the media,” I know what they mean, but I ask them to be more specific, noting that handwritten notes, carvings on stone tablets, and papier mâché are all examples of “media.” So I agree with this WashPo observation that the term is so general it is meaningless. Not too long ago “the press” was a perfectly well-understood nickname for print journalists. When working…