Category Archives: Religion

Mesa Verde Builders Possibly Used Geometry in Sun Temple

A plan view of Mesa Verde national Park's Sun Temple with geometric figures overlaid.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Towers.

A sacred site built in southwest Colorado around 800 years ago hints that the ancestral Pueblo people might have used geometry.

The analysis of the Sun Temple at Mesa Verde National Park offers the first hard evidence that a prehistoric North American society possibly employed such figures in construction.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Geometry Possibly Used In Mesa Verde Sun Temple Construction

Rude Burials Might Have Fueled Blood Feuds Among Ancient Sonorans

Photo of cacti at sunset
Photo by Tomas Castelazo.

Bodies buried  in unusual postures and without funeral rites could suggest a history of revenge and blood feud in certain ancient Sonoran Desert cultures, according to a paper in the August 2016 edition of Current Anthropology.

The authors say a rude burial would have deeply distressed the victim’s family and community — and sent a message of dominance and defiance. Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:

Haphazard Burials May Suggest Revenge, Blood Feud Among Sonoran Desert Cultures

Found in Translation: The Risks and Rewards of Video Game Localization

Video game localization has come a long way since a sub-par port of Zero Wing gave us the classic “All Your Base are Belong to Us” meme. As  game companies have gone international, and as their products have ballooned from small-batch text-and-sprite diversions to interactive blockbusters, the industry that makes those games accessible to other cultures has done its best to keep pace – despite too often being treated as an afterthought by game companies .

Find out how this process has evolved from basic text translation to fully embrace cultural norms, preferences and taboos as I explain …

How Video Game Localization Works

 

A Bizarre Bazaar of Food Facts

Smashed buildings and detritus litter a flooded street following the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919.
The aftermath of the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919. Photo courtesy Globe Newspaper Co.

Food is both mundane and magical, ephemeral and essential – the ultimate cultural touchstone. Our religions proscribe taboo foods, oblige sacred meals and employ food as a conduit for sacred power. Our myths abound with divine edibles that grant gods immortality, while our folktales counsel against feasting in fairyland lest we trap ourselves forever.

But for all the reverence we pay them, many comestibles arose from humble, bizarre or even disgusting sources, while what we choose, or are compelled, to eat is driven by everything from necessity to neurosis. For better or worse, food scientists, molecular gastronomists and, yes, marketing  firms channel these impulses in profitable (if not always healthy directions). The results are, shall we say, appetizingly bizarre …

10 Weird-but-true Food Facts

The Scientist and the Sea Serpent

Monstrous tree roots break the surface of the sea, silhouetted by the sun.
Sea monster — or tree trunk? Photo by Colin Park.

Most seafaring cultures have sea monster myths or folktales. They are preserved in manuscripts, in the margins of old maps, on the walls of Hindu temples and in the rock carvings of American Indians. Tales tell of monstrous sea gods and their fearsome servants as well as other assorted briny beasts. But is there a drop of truth to any of these tall tales? And how might we find out? Join me as I explore…

How Sea Monsters Work