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Musings + Links (III)

How Many Times Was Writing Invented?

There is still debate on this question, but between two and four times. Going with four, it was invented in Mesopotamia (ca. 3400 BCE), Egypt (ca. 3250 BCE), China (1200 BCE), and Mesoamerica (ca 500 BCE). It is difficult to put a precise date on any of these because writing develops gradually and there is no clear dividing line between "real writing" and "proto-writing".

The Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources may have a common origin. Also, scholars assume China invented writing on its own because there is no known contact between China and the Near East at this time, but given how little we know of history during this period this may be an unfounded assumption. The independent origin of Mesoamerican writing is more certain because of the difficulty (probably impossibility) of traveling between the Near East and Mesoamerica at that time.

  • Why is every empire fated to fall?
  • You are likely breathing formaldyhede at home and at work.
  • "During all his life Max had a devastating dislike of the superficial and an incredible capacity to penetrate with lightning speed to the significant core of any problem." The National Academy of Sciences has an excellent biographical memoir of Max Mason.
  • "Lyman never married; he was the last representative of a mode of life that will not be seen again in this country, an aristocrat in the best sense. Brought up in great wealth, and always possessed of ample means himself, he looked the part and impressed all who met him[.]"
  • Some decent information on the future we're headed into.
  • How to think about software design via the design of a logging library. This guy's entire site is full of wisdom acquired from years of doing software development.
  • Very impressive 3D renderer showing a variety of modern techniques. It was things like this that made me want to learn programming, but it took me about 10 years of doing it before I was capable of making something like this.
  • "How did Temujin unify the roughly 1 million tribal Mongols spread out across a vast steppe under a single ruler after centuries of non-stop stealing, murdering, kidnapping, raping, and blood feuding?"