Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kapuscinski Talks About Time

Noted Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski wandered the world as the sole member of the Polish communist foreign press corps. He saw and wrote of many things,his books included the The Soccer War and Shah of Shahs and The Emperor. In his treatise on Africa, The Shadow of the Sun, he comments on the differences between the Europeans and the Africans in the concept of time.

 The European and the African have an entirely different concept of time. In the European worldview, time exists outside man, exists objectively, and has measurable and linear characteristics. According to Newton, time is absolute: "Absolute, true, mathematical time of itself and from its own nature, it flows equably and without relation to anything external." The European feels himself to be time's slave, dependent on it, subject to it. To exist and function, he must observe its ironclad, inviolate laws, its inflexible principles and rules. He must heed deadlines, dates, days, and hours. He moves within the rigors of time and cannot exist outside them. They impose upon him their requirements and quotas. An unresolvable conflict exists between man and time, one that always ends with man's defeat--time annihilates him.

 Africans apprehend time differently. For them, it is a much looser concept, more open, elastic, subjective. It is man who influences time, its shape, course, and rhythm (man acting, of course, with the consent of gods and ancestors). Time is even something that man can create outright, for time is made manifest through events, and whether an event takes place or not depends, after all, on man alone. If two armies do not engage in a battle, then that battle will not occur (in other words, time will not have revealed its presence, will not have come into being).

Time appears as a result of our actions, and vanishes when we neglect or ignore it. It is something that springs to life under our influence, but falls into a state of hibernation, even nonexistence, if we do not direct our energy toward it. It is a subservient, passive essence, and, most importantly, one dependent on man.

The absolute opposite of time as it is understood in the European worldview.

 In practical terms, this means that if you go to a village where a meeting is scheduled for the afternoon but find no one at the appointed spot, asking, "When will the meeting take place?" makes no sense. You know the answer: "It will take place when the people come."

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Best Way To Torture Fish

Minneapolis Star-Tribune outdoor writer gives some advice on the best method to catch a walleyed pike and then return it to the water:

Mille Lacs anglers are catching a lot of walleyes this summer, all of which must be returned to the water. The trick while water temperatures continue to warm is to ensure as much as possible that released fish live. Chances this will happen increase if anglers use jigs instead of sliding sinker rigs, which are a favorite on Mille Lacs. Often walleyes will take hooks fished with sliding sinkers deep in their mouths, making their safe extraction problematic. Better now as midsummer approaches to fish Mille Lacs walleyes with jigs — or at least pinch the barbs off hooks used with sliding sinkers, making a walleye’s release quicker and safer.
Dennis Anderson

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Of course, the best way to insure that the fish survives is to find some other amusement and leave the fish alone.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Badger State on Course to Get Rid of Woodchucks

According to the Associated Press:

MADISON, Wis. — The Legislature's outdoors committees have approved a bill that would create a woodchuck season.
The Republican bill would remove woodchucks from the Wisconsin's protected species list and establish a hunting and trapping season that would run from July through December with no bag limits.
The Assembly's Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee amended the measure Wednesday to establish a year-round open season on the animals on an 11-2 vote and passed the bill 9-4.
The Senate's Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee met on the bill on Wednesday as well. That panel signed off on the amendment 5-0 and passed the bill 4-1.
Committee approval clears the way for votes in the full Senate and Assembly.

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Badgers are carnivores. Woodchucks are vegetarians. In fact, badgers look at woodchucks like college students look at pizzas. Both dig holes that can present problems. For people. The hunting of woodchucks hasn't really been hunting as such. It's mostly been shooting, plinking at living, and sometimes moving, targets. Few people, if any, eat them, they're rodents, distantly related to rats and mice, after all. They might be trapped for purposes of eliminating their construction of burrows but for no other purpose. No one makes coats or stoles out of their hides. Maybe there's a demand for stuffed woodchucks, woodchucks that taxidermists preserve in interesting postures, perhaps holding a small US flag or riding a miniature bicycle.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Beheading Update

A short time ago we explored the once popular artistic subject of beheading here at Pulverized Concepts. In the last couple of hundred years, however, it doesn't seem to be seen as often as it once was, unless you're in an art museum.

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The 17th century master Michelangelo Caravaggio used the event in more than a few of his works, which were hung in places where they could be seen then as they are now.  Above we see Judith decapitating Holofernes. This made the Jews happy then and the Christians happy later.

People are bent out of shape over the efforts of minor league comedienne Kathy Griffin and photographer Tyler Shields to depict something that has been brought back into the public consciousness by the maniacal villains of ISIS. But they're not really beheading anyone. The photo is a fake! It doesn't mean that they're going to actually chop the noggin off of anyone. And, indeed, how could they? Their version of Holofernes is surrounded by agents sworn to protect him from Colombian prostitutes and other mal hechors.

Tyler Shields has done a number of somewhat irreverent video projects like this one:

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Decoration Day Memorial

This monument is found on the grounds of the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis, just a short distance from picturesque Minnehaha Falls. It honors the youthful Union soldiers that served in the War Between the States. A total of 2,334,568 boys age 18 and under, 25 of them as young as ten, fought for the Grand Army of the Republic between the shelling of Fort Sumter and Lee's surrender.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Observation by Adam Ferguson, 1767

Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Adam Ferguson makes this point in his An Essay on the History of Civil Society:

... the inhabitants of Britain, at the time of the first Roman invasions, resembled, in many things, the present natives of North America: They were ignorant of agriculture; they painted their bodies; and used for clothing the skins of beasts. Such, therefore, appears to have been the commencement of history with all nations, and in such circumstances are we to look for the original character of mankind. The inquiry refers to a distant period, and every conclusion should build on the facts which are preserved for our use. Our method, notwithstanding, too frequently, is to rest the whole on conjecture; to impute every advantage of our nature to those arts which we ourselves possess; and to imagine, that a mere negation of all our virtues is a sufficient description of man in his original state. We are ourselves the supposed standards of politeness and civilization; and where our own features do not [126] appear, we apprehend, that there is nothing which deserves to be known. But it is probable that here, as in many other cases, we are ill qualified, from our supposed knowledge of causes, to prognosticate effects, or to determine what must have been the properties and operations, even of our own nature, in the absence of those circumstances in which we have seen it engaged. Who would, from mere conjecture, suppose, that the naked savage would be a coxcomb and a gamester? that he would be proud or vain, without the distinctions of title and fortune? and that his principal care would be to adorn his person, and to find an amusement? Even if it could be supposed that he would thus share in our vices, and, in the midst of his forest, vie with the follies which are practised in the town; yet no one would be so bold as to affirm, that he would likewise, in any instance, excel us in talents and virtues; that he would have a penetration, a force of imagination and elocution, an ardour of mind, an affection and courage, which the arts, the discipline, and the policy of few nations would be able to improve. Yet these particulars are a part in the description which is delivered by those who have had opportunities of seeing mankind in their rudest condition: and beyond the reach of such testimony, we can neither safely take, nor pretend to give, information on the subject.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Carl Menger Points Out the Truth

“There is no necessary and direct connection between the value of a good and whether, or in what quantities, labor and other goods of higher order were applied to its production. A non-economic good (a quantity of timber in a virgin forest, for example) does not attain value for men since large quantities of labor or other economic goods were not applied to its production. Whether a diamond was found accidentally or was obtained from a diamond pit with the employment of a thousand days of labor is completely irrelevant for its value. In general, no one in practical life asks for the history of the origin of a good in estimating its value, but considers solely the services that the good will render him and which he would have to forgo if he did not have it at his command…The quantities of labor or of other means of production applied to its production cannot, therefore, be the determining factor in the value of a good. Comparison of the value of a good with the value of the means of production employed in its production does, of course, show whether and to what extent its production, an act of past human activity, was appropriate or economic. But the quantities of goods employed in the production of a good have neither a necessary nor a directly determining influence on its value.”

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