In this remote Indian village, every person's name is a song

In the village of Kongthong, villagers don't call each other by their name; instead, they call out using unique, bespoke tunes that resemble birdsong.

Image source: BIJU BORO / AFP / Getty Images
  • In the remote mountain village of Kongthong, villagers call out to each other using short tunes that resemble birdsong.
  • These songs act as a second name for each villager, and are used more frequently than a villagers "real" name.
  • The practice is called jingrwai lawbei, which translates to "song of the clan's first woman."
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7 new things we’ve learned about the brain

Brain plasticity. Mindful superpowers. Pokémon invading our grey matter. Scientists have only begun to learn about the human brain.

  • In 1848, Phineaus Gage kicked off our modern neuroscience after blasting a tamping iron through his skull.
  • We explore 7 things scientists have since learned about this important, complex organ.
  • Many mysteries remain such as where consciousness originates and how we evolved such a multipurpose mind.
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Superhuman innovators: How experimentation and struggle fuel new ideas

Why Django Reinhardt might just be the greatest musical innovator you've never heard of.

  • David Epstein recounts the incredible life of 20th-century Roma guitarist Django Reinhardt, who couldn't read or write and who suffered a horrific accident that made two of his fret fingers useless.
  • Reinhardt didn't stop playing, instead he invented a new style that revolutionized the music scene and gave birth to the modern guitar solo, inspiring artists like Jimi Hendrix.
  • Anyone can innovate, says Epstein, it is in no way dependent on a formal education. In fact, our creative work may fare better if we learn like babies do: through trial, error, and struggle.
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Why the community that sings together stays together

Singing is universal. It is found in all cultures and, despite protestations of tone deafness, the vast majority of people can sing.

Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), the movie about the British band Queen, the scene that sticks in my mind depicts the Live Aid concert in London in 1985.

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Reactionaries love it, but country music has a progressive heart

Country music deserves better cultural ambassadors.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Donald Trump took the first international trip of his presidency to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, another US icon also travelled along as part of the celebration of the alliance between these two countries: the country-music star Toby Keith.

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