Some fairy tales may be 6000 years old

Fairy tales are transmitted through language, and the shoots and branches of the Indo-European language tree are well-defined, so the scientists could trace a tale’s history back up the tree—and thus back in time. If both Slavic languages and Celtic languages had a version of Jack and the Beanstalk (and the analysis revealed they might), for example, chances are the story can be traced back to the “last common ancestor.”…

Privacy and reporting on personal lives

Interesting guidelines, phrased as suggestions and best practices rather than rules, from a project designed to help bloggers and independent journalists — and professional organizations too — develop their own codes of ethics. Celebrities know a loss of privacy is a cost of fame. Politicians and other public servants know their power brings public scrutiny, and they carry that awareness into many of the decisions they make. That doesn’t mean, however,…

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Topical Satire Is Not “Fake News.”

While I’ve been preparing to teach a class on memes and “fake news,” my complaints are all about propaganda that misleads in order to wield influence or make money. I am not talking about the “fake news” which is clever satire, such as these two posts which made me belly-laugh. The Sanders pic I found in my Facebook feed, where it had been posted on P-diddy’s page. The Obama pic is…

Little Things

I recently came across an abandoned stash of tiny doll shoes. When TeenGirl was little, she would take the tiny shoes off her tiny dolls, and if she momentarily lost one, she’d be distraught. My wife finally got all the shoes in one place, put them on a ledge, and we all forgot about them. This magazine article describes a subculture based on the aesthetic of miniatures, and the mastercrafting…