TX Red On Nature

*Ladies, Gentlemen, and those who just looked down to figure out this difficult conundrum, put your hands together (not there, geesh) for our very own TXRed who is here to discuss on nature, nature (the other one) and the environment.*

Environing Your Nature: the Difference between Nature, nature, and Environment.

“I’m an environmentalist.” “The First Nations/Amazonian tribes/Sami lived in harmony with nature.” “There is no such thing as a natural disaster.” “They are destroying the environment!”  “I’m a naturist.”  All these phrases . . . Hey, wait a minute! You, yes, you, put some clothes on. This is a PG-13 blog.

Ahem, sorry about that. As I was saying, all but one of the phrases at the start of the previous paragraph work on some basic assumptions, including the idea that nature, Nature, and environment have the same meaning, and that those meanings never changed. As the great moral philosopher Sportin’ Life sang, “It ain’t necessarily so.” This little essay is going to look at the history of nature vs. environment, how ideas about nature changed over time, and what this means for us as writers and thinkers.

A quick fast-forward to modern usage: environment refers to one’s surroundings, be they human made or otherwise. “Nature” (or as I sometimes call it Nnnnnature) is the personified, idealized non-human environment, and nature means whatever modern English speakers believe it to mean at the moment. Clear as mud?

Nature is the older of the two words, and has changed the most over time. It is a direct Latin translation of the Greek word physis, meaning growth, specifically of plants. The Romans added it to their word natura, relating to birth, and gave the word two meanings. One meaning refers to the essential qualities of something, such as in the phrase “human nature” or “the nature of the beast.” The second meaning was that of something not created by a rational being, such as natural vs. artificial (created by skill or artifice).  This is source of later meanings of “nature.”

In contrast, “environment” came into English via the Old French in viron, meaning “in a circle,” from Latin vertere to circle (around something). Environ was first used in English in 1603 and at the time meant a state of being environed, like what the Persians did to the Spartans at Thermopylae. It was not until 1827 when we find the first use of the word in the modern scientific understanding — “a being’s surroundings”  — as a translation of the German Umgebung. We still find the older use when we talk about something or someone’s environs. Unlike the word nature, the meaning of environment has changed relatively little.

OK, now this is where we have to wade through some academic stuff, so please bear with me. (I said, “bear,” not “bare!” Will someone get that naturist out of here? Mike, Wayne, Free Range, please? Thank you.) The idea of nature is a Western concept in large degree, that’s what I’ll be focusing on.

In many ways nature is a human construct. Not all cultures have the idea of “nature” that Westerners do, and in fact most cultures did not or do not view humans as being separate from their environment. Pretty much all historians and anthropologists agree that Native Americans and other tribal groups saw no difference except in shape and form between themselves and their surroundings. They were part of the greater energy system flowing and functioning around them, one to which the landscape, animals, most plants, and humans all belonged. Everyone and almost everything had medicine power, manitou or puha or whatever term they used, to some degree.

The Western idea of nature as being the non-human environment goes back to Aristotle and Plato, when they tried to make sense of things not made by a rational mind, be that the mind of a man or of a deity. Some scholars argue that one can go back further, to the Gilgamesh epic and the walled cities of Mesopotamia. The Romans still believed that nature contained deities, but by the Imperial era, one could find prayers to use when cutting down a sacred grove, sort of “to whichever deity it may concern, I need this more than you do.”

Christian theology came to describe humans as a special creation, unique because of being made in the image of the divine. But since nature had been made by G-d, it remained a textbook and guide for people, a place where one could see G-d’s will and learn to understand Him better. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the best examples of this approach. In some senses, nature was the Lord’s deputy, rewarding and even chastising believers.

Changes began with the Renaissance and accelerated with the scientific revolution.  According to Raymond Williams, in his chapter about “Ideas of Nature” (1980), artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and writers such as Galileo began setting the landscape behind humans, diminishing nature and enlarging the role of man. The Enlightenment then simplified the earlier complexity through developing ideas of natural laws. The English in particular came to value reason and experimentation over the older, perhaps more syncretic view of man and his environment, although even Francis Bacon urged people to “rule by obeying Nature’s laws.” Hobbs and Locke’s writings on man and the “state of nature” in some ways finalized the mental separation of society from nature. This is the age of experimentation, vivisection, and eventually of Rene Descartes’s formulation of dualism. (If you really want more about how this may have come about, Carolyn Merchant’s book The Death of Nature is the classic. There is much to disagree with, but it is one everyone points to. See also Neil Evernden’s The Social Creation of Nature.)

By modern times, we writers have several different meanings of “nature” to sort out, to use or not use depending on our readership and intentions. There’s the idea of nature as the non-human environment (trees, hills, fuzzy bunnies). The popular understanding of nature is almost the same as wilderness, such as when people talk about getting close to nature in a national park or wildlife refuge. A more radical interpretation, voiced most notably by Bill McKibbin in The Death of Nature, holds that nature is something completely without influence of humans, a pristine wilderness sort of thing that no longer exists. And then there’s Nature, a non-human environment (and its denizens) that is morally better than human-created environments. This is the Nature of EarthFirst!, some members of the Sierra Club, Sea Shepherd, and other organizations. A similar, and often related sense is that Nature is where non-Westerners are (the so-called White Man’s Indians and the primitive peoples so beloved of Rousseau and the New Agers.) Yes, you in the back waving your hand. What about women? Sorry, ecofeminism and the idea that females are more representative of Nature than males are is another topic for another day.

Environment first came into common use in the English-language scientific literature in the late 1800s. It retains the sense of referring to all surroundings, be they man-made or otherwise. One can talk about the built environment, the legal environment, an artificial environment (space ship or space station), or the non-human environment. In the 1960s and 1970s “environmentalism” became the term of choice to separate the new activists from the older conservationists (new version of the Sierra Club vs. Ducks Unlimited, for example), naturalists, and naturists. And that’s another topic for another post, too.

So what does this mean for writers? I prefer to use environment as a general term for someone’s surroundings. My characters tend to take a rather jaundiced view of Nature, in part because they are too familiar with the “red in tooth and claw” part to take cries of “slimemold is people too” very seriously. It comes down to the sense that you are trying to capture. Are you describing a manicured park or the River of No Return Wilderness? Is someone protesting terraforming a world? Does a character see himself as a conservationist rather than an environmentalist? Those considerations should affect your use of words, especially words with as much emotional freight as nature and environment.

Any other questions? Yes, on the third row, behind the laptop. Naturist? That’s an Anglo-English term for . . . no, no, you don’t need to demonstrate the meaning. Put that kilt back on right now!


UPDATE: Sarah speaking, I put up a sample of A Few Good Men at Mad Genius Club.

177 thoughts on “TX Red On Nature

  1. A degree of confusion is introduced not just by people being slovenly in their linguistic use but also by the tendency of some to fly under false flags. Many a defender of the environment is in truth merely asserting his own moral authority to dictate your life (see: Watermelons.)

    The bloggers at Powerline recently reviewed the history of the Animal Rights and ELF activist behind the movie Greedy Lying Bastards, an attack on those who would ruthlessly exploit Nature for the benefit of humanity, in contrast to those ruthlessly exploit Nature to the detriment of humanity,

    1. Where can the folks who ruthfully exploit nature for the betterment of humanity– like my folks and the cows they tend– sign up?

      1. I believe they come under the ‘people we abuse and disdain until we are hungry’ category. I preferred Shute’s version of ‘doing the most valuable thing you possibly could’ but people who don’t think about where that food on their supermarket shelf came from seem to regard farmers as ‘a blight on nature.’ I’d like to cast the little darlings loose on a piece of moderately arable with hard work land for a year, with no supermarket, six sheep and a cow in calf… and see how they feel about it all when they’re hungry, when the bugs/mice/sheep/deer-darling bambi/ just ate their crop and left them with some turds as an exchange.

        1. Institute a requirement between sophomore & Junior years of High School (Grades 10 and 11, USA) that all students put in eight weeks on an actual farm, designed for small-hold agriculture. Possibly split it / split the school year to allow it into two sessions, one planting, one harvesting.

          Heh. Think any Amish are crazy enough to accept management/supervision?

          1. Total enrolment of public and private high schools in the U.S., per nces.gov: about 16 million. That means you’d have to find places on these farms for four million kids every year, give or take.

            Total number of farmers and ranchers in the U.S.: about 1.2 million.

            Every farm and ranch in the country would have to take on at least three snot-nosed adolescent city-slickers, and teach them to do something useful — on the job — during the busiest seasons of the year. It’s highly unlikely that the average farmer could put in the time and attention to babysit these kids without destroying his own productivity.

            1. Oh good Lord NO!

              I specifically stated creating small-hold farms for the program. The point of it is not to provide free untrained labor at the producer’s expense (I have heard too many “pick-your-own” horror stories, like the twit who picker strawberries by uprooting the plant so as to avoid all that bending, to think that feasible.) The point of this would be to teach those “snot-nosed adolescent city-slickers” what actual W-O-R-K is like, so that they will be more appreciative of what food producers do and have incentive to avoid ever having to do it themselves.

              These would be like FDR era C.C.C. programs; set up “demonstration” farms where actual, real, farmers won’t be annoyed, run the kids through in staggered two-week intervals – Grp A on week 1, leaving at end of week 6, Group B on week 3, leaving at end of week 8, … Grp M on week 25, leaving at end of week 30, overlapping Grp A’s return on week 27.

              NO actual working farmers/ranchers would be abused. Hire retired/disabled farmers/ranchers to supervise (Many might be willing to pay for the opportunity of making the lives of those “snot-nosed adolescent city-slickers” uncomfortable.

              Any useful produce from these kids would be bonus. Letting videographers document their experience as Reality TV would probably exceed the economic value of agricultural output.

              1. One condition on the videographers: They would have to agree to not get involved in stirring up trouble between people, like they often do on the existing “Reality TV” programs.

              2. I really like that idea, RES. No chance on Earth of widespread implementation, but I still like it very much. Does anyone know if voluntary equivalents of this exist? Like a dude ranch/farm but with real workloads? We’re working on expanding our domestic production (use the garden to capacity, raise some rabbits, plant a fruit tree or five), but we haven’t the space on our lot for things like grains or large livestock and I’d like my boys (or heck, myself) to get more exposure to that kind of work.

                1. I think there is slightly less chance of it ever being implemented than my other idea, allowing every citizen _one_ homicide with no consequences.

                  As for it being done currently, I suspect there are informal arrangements. “Ma married a city feller but her brother stayed on the farm and the kids summer there and earn their keep” type of thing, or possibly some 4H or Church type activities. There may be some Ag College programs covering this sort of thing. If you know somebody (or know somebody who knows somebody) and are well-mannered and willing to actually work and earn your keep it can probably be arranged.

                2. What I could think of would be renting a field and buying bummer lambs or contracting to raising steers, maybe getting the kids into FFA or 4H if you are close enough to a place to do that.
                  There are Organic farmers who hold “educational slots” for grunt labor in areas. They teach things like bio-intensive agriculture and call them extended seminars. (I do not endorse this practice)
                  Some small land owners are growing grass for hay or pasture for the property tax write off, they may be interested in letting your kids learn the hard way on a couple of acres- but most states require a certain revenue from farm products to qualify as a farm, so they may need to charge you rent, and some states are very restrictive on minors working with powered equipment.
                  I never looked into this. The most I’ve done is asked neighbors to let me dig up their back yards to plant gardens.

                  1. I spend the hay season on my uncle’s farm from the time I was four until I was sixteen. No power equipment (this was a small family farm during the 60’s and 70’s, and with no actual family since uncle never married so his goal those years was just to earn his own keep until he could retire) except for cutting down the hay, a neighbor got paid to do that, everything else was done by one horse, a horse drawn hayrake and two-wheeled haywagon, relatives and rakes and hayforks. The years when I was too young for actual work were kind of fun, but I became a bit less enamored of it after I got old enough to do work beyond raking. That included some work with the animals he had too (one aunt, never married either, lived with him, and the cows were more hers, actually), although I never quite learned how to milk a cow by hand (attempts, but not particularly successful ones). I’d say it was very educational.

                    1. I know how to milk by hand. I can even teach how to milk by hand. I just can’t actually MILK by hand for very long, because of my arthritis. It takes about six months to build up the strength in your hands to completely strip a cow of a gallon-plus of milk, twice a day. There’s nothing in the world that tastes better than fresh whole milk, though.

                    2. We never had cows, though we kept poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs (food animal in Portugal) and pigeons (ditto.) I understand before my time we also had goats.

                      HOWEVER farm across the street had milk, and someone walked across every morning to get it right after milking. I’d like to second this.

                    3. I’m with Cyn. I’d much rather milk 30 goats by hand, than one cow. When I was in condition, milking our goats twice a day, I helped out a neighbor once, milking their cow for them. She was a good-natured cow and didn’t give me any problems, but it took me just as long to take care of her as it usually took me to do our whole herd of goats. Of course, I was used to getting a break every few minutes when I switched animals, and I didn’t get that with the cow.

                    4. When I was in Portugal and grandma was alive EVERYTHING STOPPED for the grape harvest/stomping, usually about a week. And because, according to Portuguese custom (at least in the North) grapes grew everywhere they didn’t impede the growth of other stuff, this meant including over the tops of henhouses and storage buildings, and lean tos. Most of it required a ladder (though when I was little I was put to the spots you could reach standing or sitting.)
                      The family who would not let stay home from school short of walking pneumonia (and sometimes not even then) took me off school that week, unless I had major tests (which happened twice, because they were qualifying tests for highschool and college, respectively.) When I stayed home, I RESENTED it, because it was the best time my extended family had together, with everyone working madly. Because some of the properties Grandma’s dad and grandad had sold, they’d sold with retaining the wine rights, the harvest took place over most of the neighborhood and we women carried the baskets of grapes on our heads to the wine press in grandma’s press-building.
                      Yes, we did get centipedes down our backs, and spiders in our hair, and by the time I was 13 — because, for reasons never fully understood, but probably because NO ONE wanted me in the kitchen , I got lumped in with the men/boys — I’d joined the stompers, after the harvest, which is hard work and dyes your legs for days, (Dan got to do it once the year after we were married. For which I shall always be grateful. For him it was an almost shocking experience. I’m just sorry the boys can’t do it.)
                      Being strong as an ox even when I was really skinny, I also hired out to neighbor farms for digging the trenches/laying in potatoes and then for the harvest.
                      The sad part on that last, is that I did not for the pay, but to hear the old field hands talk afterwards. Most of what I know of local folklore and legends were from that time. I worked as hard as they did, so they stopped treating me like an idiot, and would talk normally around me.

                    5. I also know how to milk a cow by hand. Though I haven’t done it in years, and hope to never have to do it again, it is potentially useful knowledge. If you want to have hand cramps, try stripping a cow dry sometime, I can’t verify Mike’s claim to it taking 6 months to build up the strength in your hands, because I’ve never had to do so twice a day for such extended periods, but I can verify that a week or two at a stretch isn’t sufficient time to build up your hand strength though.

                    6. With my aunt one problem was probably that she was a total bleeding heart when it came to her animals, so while she did let me try usually she’d end up rescuing the cow from me after a pretty short while. They were her pets and her children.

                      Didn’t stop her from sending them to the slaughterhouse, however, cows when they got too old and the bull calves which got raised for meat. The pigs were slaughtered home, and eaten during the next winter, but the old cows and bull calves were sold for money. From what I know she’d sometimes cry, but I doubt it ever even occurred to her to consider doing something like letting a cow ‘retire’ and live out it’s life as a pet, once they were past being useful they were meat, no matter how sentimental one might feel about them.

                    7. This was intended as a reply to Mike Weatherford’s comment, but for some reason WP had failed to send me his comment… (we know the drill)

                      It takes time to learn to do milk efficiently and effectively is why I probably never was never given the opportunity to learn milking. It is one thing to put up with the awkwardness and having to follow behind to finish the job when you are in the process of teaching someone who you eventually expect to do the work. Why for do it with a pupil who will be gone before they can master it?

                      I have read that now most dairy farms are using milking machines. It is a sealed system, so there is less exposure of the milk to possible contaminants. The machines don’t tire, they increases yield, and there is a lower incidence of udder problems. Moreover, machines don’t take six month to develop hand strength — or move on.

                    8. I doubt that any dairy farm does milking by hand any more. Even my co-worker, who has 1 or 2 cows and 8 or 10 goats has a milking machine. They apparently come in all sizes and capacities.

                      I saw an awesome video a while back, where this farm had a great milking solution. He had built a “cow carousel”, where the cows walked in on one side of the barn and up into a stall on the carousel. The carousel would carry them around to one station where they had the hair burned off their udders (I know it sounds horrible, but they didn’t even flinch – it’s a quick burst of flame and the video said it doesn’t hurt them, and they stop flinching from the flame after just a few times), then on to the next station where their udders were given a disinfectant wipedown, and at the next station the milking machine cups were put on. I can’t remember how it stayed with them, but I think it was part of the carousel. Apparently, when they’re dry, the cups just fall off, and then they get a lotion rub and off to the exit.

                    9. “I doubt that any dairy farm does milking by hand any more.”

                      Disagreeing just to be polite – and being picky – sure they do, not exclusively and not AFAIK for bulk production and marketing – but for research and quality check – for all I know to keep their hand in – Ag schools certainly do lots of milking by hand even now.

                    10. I guess I should have been more specific. By “Dairy Farm”, I meant one whose primary purpose is the production of milk for sale. Not a school, and not a family farm who also happens to have some dairy cattle.

                    11. At least one commercial mass production for profit dairy farm of my acquantance will quality/health check a given animal – and I believe without actually checking so do most – and many of the county state fair dairy cows will be milked individually for quantity and quality check. It’s a given that commercial production means mass production – get it down and get it shipped – it’s not a given that raising cows for milk is entirely mechanized. At least on the Palouse.

                    12. The little organic dairy down the road has two to four cows, and they have I believe two milking machines– one is mobile for the maybe-three-times-a-year fair showings.

                      Even figuring in that they take every grant they can find, they must be pretty dang affordable.

                    13. I suspect that modern sanitary and FDA(? Ag Dept.?) food handling requirements essentially mandate machine for milk extracted for human consumption. Squeezing it into an open pail in an open barn is BEGGING for foodborne infections.

                      So, if you plan to sell the milk it is probably worth investing in a milking machine.

                    14. Nope, they milked by hand for direct sale– oh, selling cookies and giving away still-warm raw milk– at the fairs until the food-guys came down on them for not washing their hands after doing so and before handing out cookies.

                      There are some boutique places that only milk by hand, usually also organic; fifty-fifty on if it’s raw. (Sold with big stickers that say “not for human consumption.”)

                    15. I trust you are aware of the recent foofaraw over the selling and transporting of raw milk (and raw milk products) across state lines.

                      Neither instance you cite represents selling food for human consumption (in the first example the milk is given away) and thus neither addresses the question of whether milking machines are a business necessity; they aren’t (officially) in the business of selling milk for human consumption.

                    16. If you read carefully, you’ll notice I pointed out that only half of the by-hand boutique places sell it raw and “not for human consumption.” Rough estimate, though, and based on the northern areas of WA.

                    17. Sorry; I read it carefully, what you wrote was

                      There are some boutique places that only milk by hand, usually also organic; fifty-fifty on if it’s raw. (Sold with big stickers that say “not for human consumption.”)

                      which I understood to mean that the likelihood on it being raw was 50/50 — even odds.

                    18. Exactly; even odds on if they label it “not for human consumption.”

                      The Google Bots will show up and spam the heck out of you if you mention someone selling raw milk and don’t explain how they do it by (chants mantra) labeling it not for human consumption. I swear, they use the same scripts as the Ron Paul bots (think this place is probably safe– at least, my spambot catches most of the mechanical ones) or the self defense spray bots (if you mention h*o*r*n*e*t s*p*r*a*y as a s*u*b*s*t*i*t*u*t*e for their products).

                      No wonder computer folks talk in voodoo terms, programs work that way half the time; Dresden File’s metaphor of a “cosmic vending machine” is apt, too.

                    19. Clark, where on the Palouse are you?

                      I worked on a dairy farm, the milk testing was done with a milking machine, as well as milking of any cows with infections or on antibiotics, or ‘just freshened’ cows with clostrum milk. The hose from that cows individual milker was just disconnect from the pipe that runs the milk into the main tank and connected to a milk bucket, when that cow was finished milking you ran water through the milker to rinse it out before you reconnected the hose to the main tank pipe. The only time you milked a cow by hand was when they had a bad udder infection and the milk was so thick the milker wouldn’t milk it, the cow was old and its udder broken down so the milker didn’t get the last of the milk out, these we usually just stripped the last of the milk into the drain by hand (if you don’t milk all the milk out every day, they start producing less) or a new heifer that wouldn’t relax and let the milk flow would occasionally have to be stripped for a couple days until she got used to it.

                    20. For my sins I’m currently trapped in Colorado mostly for pecuniary reasons and as part of the sandwich generation.

                      The milking by hand experience was David Smith’s (married to Debbie Robinson Smith – you may recognize the names if PESFA or Moscon means anything to you) My Aunt Marion is still pictured on the walls of Morrill Hall for her work with extension services.

              3. It would work, and it would do a lot of good. Which is why the “progressives” would never allow it. Lord knows there’s enough land. We have 14 MILLION acres of farmland lying fallow — producing nothing. A small farm — say, 35 acres — would allow for crops and a small amount of livestock (4 5-acre plots, 15 acres for livestock – say four cows and a few goats/pigs, plus 3 acres for bunkhouse, barn, housing for someone to manage the place when the kids aren’t there, chicken house, etc.). Run ’em through 20 at a time for six weeks each (takes that long to actually learn enough to be useful, and any more than 20 would be impossible for anyone to supervise them all). Give the families of the kids the ‘fruits of their labor’ — some of the vegetables, meat from the livestock, a chicken or two, plus eggs and milk, so they understand that they accomplished something, and these are the rewards. Maybe get the Lions, Rotary, Shriners, Moose, Foresters, and a bunch of other groups to join together in promoting it. Four million kids, 40 per farm, take 100,000 farms, 3.5 million acres. The one thing that would kill it would be liability insurance.

                Don’t wait until between junior-senior year. Start it between freshman/sophomore year, with catch-up for those missed between sophomore/junior year. The time between Junior/Senior year is busy for a lot of kids with college prep stuff and school activities. Besides, if you get them between freshman/sophomore year and the learn just how hard work can be if you don’t have an education, they just might try harder in school…

                  1. No way. They will play a full house of race cards on that idea faster than you can say “reparations”. See also Culture is Genetic and Guilt by Association.

                    1. That’s why you make sure it’s focused on animals instead of plants, although including a workshop on growing plants at home would work, too.

                      Most of the race-card idiots don’t know that the freed blacks often went north and took up ranching.

                    2. Heard on NPR the other day some sort of big, surprising study about how stories spread slower than genetics– in other words, just because Grandma is Japanese, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to instantly grok all the mythology in anime.

                      They seriously had to study this…..

                    3. They are SO stupid. Genetics don’t spread culture AT ALL. I could adopt a Chinese baby tomorrow (well, I could if I had the money) and she’d be American, with maybe a few shades of Portugal, particularly in cooking and house stuff. THAT’S it.

                    4. Well, she might have some food tendencies from what her mom ate, and possibly an easier time learning whatever her mom spoke most often, but yeah; my girls will have more odd stuff than that just from having two parents that enjoyed their time in Japan.

                    5. Insert outraged litany about social workers insisting “minority” kids are better shuffling through foster care placements than adopted into families outside their “race” and would put a Hutu child into a Tutsie household rather than an Irish one.

                      Insisting that culture is genetic is, be definition, raaaaacism.

              4. Oh good Lord NO!

                I specifically stated creating small-hold farms for the program.

                I see. The government is going to set up these farms, I presume? Gee, nothing could go wrong with that. Especially when it involves setting up enough such farms (on enough land) to give a crash course on farming to four million kids every year. And then you’d be having to find enough people with actual farming knowhow to run them — in a country that has only 1.2 million farmers to begin with. Shouldn’t cost more than a trillion dollars or so to set up, and obviously it would work like a charm.

                It’s a nice fantasy, nothing more. You might as well set up ‘smallhold’ coal mines and make those four million kids dig coal with picks and shovels — thereby taking those coal fields out of production and turning them into monstrous subsidy sponges. Or you could build camps in the wilderness, and make the kids work at digging holes and filling them up again; that would be just as productive, and at least it wouldn’t inconvenience people who are working for a living in a real industry.

                Or, you know, you could stop fetishizing brute manual labour, and drop the idea that everyone without exception must be drafted to do it. It’s just possible that people can acquire an idea what work is without being compelled by the government to work on the equivalent of chain gangs. It may even have happened at some point in human history; I’d have to check on that.

                In fact, I will check on that. I shall begin by asking a couple of questions. Were you forced into indentured physical labour by your government as a teenager? And do you know what work is?

                1. On your various points, Tom:

                  4 million kids in 10th grade every year? Did you notice it was staggered across the year, into 26 groups, overlapping 3 at a time? Works out to about 500,000 at any given time. Not quite so difficult nor so expensive.

                  As others have noted, there is ample arable land lying fallow. Not an insurmountable problem to employ it.

                  Its purpose would be educational: where food comes from and how much work is involved. Since schools aren’t doing much of a job teaching reading (recent news report by CBSTV-New York says that 80% of NYC High School grads haven’t learned to read well enough to get into local Community Colleges) it seems likely a practicum is required. Schools have great leeway for educational work requirements, such as demanding students perform a given amount of “volunteer” public service in order to graduate.

                  As for my education in work, I grew up in West Virginia where I worked in coal mines every morning to excavate enough coal to light and heat my one-room schoolhouse. I had to crawl into the mine adits reserved for children because their ceilings were too low for adults and break up the coal with an awl because there wasn’t room for a pick. More than that I would walk uphill through deep drifts of snow to get to the mine, where I had to crawl up hill to get the coal out in my little bucket, after which I climbed the slag heaps to reach the schoolhouse. That is where I learned what hard work was like.

                  Had you read more of the thread before reacting, you might have noted my comment at https://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/03/09/tx-red-on-nature/#comment-60935, realized the proposal was tongue-in-cheek, that your leg was being pulled and thus avoided the jerky knee.

                  1. On your various points, Tom: (Counter-points snipped.)

                    Had you read more of the thread before reacting, you might have noted my comment at https://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/03/09/tx-red-on-nature/#comment-60935, realized the proposal was tongue-in-cheek, that your leg was being pulled and thus avoided the jerky knee.

                    I read that comment. I also noted that you were already responding to objections as if your proposal were a serious one and you meant it to be discussed as such. You can’t have it both ways.

                    Now, Sir, as for your days as a child coal miner in West Virginia: What ever did the union have to say about that? And by the bye, did you teach in your one-room schoolhouse as well as being the sole pupil — there being nobody else to scrounge up coal for the place, and no budget for fuel? And more to the point, did your education consist of anything besides learning to chaff people and then blame them for it?

                    1. Golly, Tom, whodda thunk anybody participating in the comments of an SF writer’s blog would be unfamiliar with the concept of a “thought experiment” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment). Asimov, in his dissertation on “The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”.demonstrated that you can, in fact, “have it both ways.” It merely requires people recognize the inherently non-serious thesis and avoid going off on personal attacks, complete with rants about “fetishizing brute manual labour” and “government … chain gangs.”

                      No, it wasn’t a one-person school. There were seven of us and the teacher, dear Miss White. As minor miners we were not eligible for union membership, and the UAW didn’t object to our delving into seams too narrow for adult miners to exploit, especially as we were only mining for our own use (with a small kickback to the union boss for the allowance and, of course, a somewhat larger portion to the mine owner, Old Ebenezeer, to compensate for the depletion of resources.) The education focused on the three Rs, thinking, the value of hard work, a sharp awl and a large bucket … and not taking ourselves overly seriously.

                    2. Golly, RES, whodda thunk anybody participating in the comments of an SF writer’s blog would be unfamiliar with the concept of throughly working out your “thought experiment” rather than leaving it a wish fulfillment fantasy?

                    3. Probably the same kind of person who would think that a thought experiment posted as a blog comment, in response to Dave Freer’s expressed desire —

                      I’d like to cast the little darlings loose on a piece of moderately arable with hard work land for a year

                      — merited the same level of rigor as a full-fledged blog comment? Or the same kind of person who assumes any passing suggestion made in jest is a suppressed “wish fulfillment fantasy”?

                      Apparently some folk have trouble with “off-the-top-of-my-head” suggestions and are the sort of corporate tight**** who would never suggest bagels instead of doughnuts at the weekly staff meeting without first running it through a full-scale pilot program, three focus groups and a Power Point presentation.

                2. Um. Tom, I spent 2 years as conscript, in the medical corps. national service has been a part of many societies, and still is in some countries – oddly it doesn’t seem to have bankrupted any of them (the Swiss are a good example). A surprising amount of that was, besides the military stuff (it was not a Geneva convention ‘war’ – which meant the other side would and did shoot medics) hard labor – much, after boot camp, of which was constructive if temporary (we built clinics, set up field hospitals, and yes, treated people who had little other access to medicine. 1) I hated it like poison as I do not take orders well. 2)it stood me in good stead for the rest of my life, and made me a much more valuable citizen and taxpayer, as what I learned about discipline, hard physical work, teamwork, looking after myself, made me much more productive. 3) The state i was in managed to keep it up for about 30 years, despite sanctions and other attempts to financially punish them. Whatever else nasty and true you may find to say about that regime, they had better infrastructure for the country, more and better support for the poor in medicine than the now state which has none of that cost. And oddly, the white emigres – all the males having gone through this, have a reputation for aggressive hard work, and have achieved top positions WAY out of proportion with their numbers. I often wonder if this did not have an effect on the work ethic of what would otherwise be a lazy, pampered people, unable to compete with others who did not grow up with servants, or black people to do the hard physical lowly manual labor. I was there: many of them had never made a bed or swept a floor before that. Never dug a hole, carried heavy weights. So: Where did they learn to work if not the army? I’ve always said I’d like to see it extended to several ‘modules’ – military and policing training, disaster response – be it beach patrols or filling sandbags or search-lines (which are normally impossible – too few people to do properly, firefighting – country fires (and in the US, Australia, and back in SA, that means men on foot doing hard dangerous work, but really it’s not something you can’t train a kid for fast, not like city fires), Medical, for those who have the aptitude, construction (and before you say it’s cheaper and easier by machine – there are tens of thousands miles of mountain track here, and in South Africa, and almost certainly in many places falling into ruin or not being built, because the only real way you can do it to prevent erosion and excessive habitat damage is by hand, and the labor is prohibitive – A track of about 4 miles here was costed at AU$400 000. For rescue and firefighting these are lifesavers. And yes, i actually think it would be a good thing for any society. Being a nutter, I’d say getting to vote or claim any state benefit should depend on your doing this. But that really is a daydream.

                  1. Um. Tom, I spent 2 years as conscript, in the medical corps.

                    At the age of 16? Doing heavy farm labour to teach you the meaning of work? Some wild intuition leads me to doubt it.

                    1. Some wild intuition leads me to believe you are a raving idiot. If your going to call Dave a liar, why don’t you stop and check your facts first? That is an easily verified fact.

                    2. bearcat, the term you are searching for is “asshat”.

                      This git is making no points and presenting no facts; he’s just sitting there stroking it at the thought of the annoyance he’s inflicting on anyone encountering him.

                      I truly wish Sarah would install Trollhammer..

                    3. Most farm kids start working at 9. Most of them are helping in planting and harvesting by 12. What I learned from bucking hay and standing in a cannery picking out dead mice and rotten beans was that I really needed a more fulfilling job and the best way to do that was to get some better skills and be better at showing up on time than the other candidates.
                      Working does not warp children. Oddly enough, being useful to your family and community helps self esteem better than sitting on your butt watching Bravo.
                      And before anyone goes off on “Forced Prison Camp Labor” and “Crippling Workplace Injuries” and “Exploitative Sweatshops”, well I’m glad you are against that. Are you like the rest of us and against childhood Polio too?

                    4. He specified for the gov’t.

                      And there’s a massive difference between being a farm kid doing stuff and a city kid being sent to do stuff.

                      Given this audience, I’d have thought that someone going “uuuh…. this can go really, really, horrifically bad” would be taken as a matter of course, but it seems folks just have their nasties on on general.

                      God forbid, he made a longer and slightly less polite version of the point I made– to no objection– saying it would just be exploited and that private, volunteer organizations would be a better route.

                    5. I take the point that government led initiatives are often pork barrels that fail in their stated intent. On the other hand your whole school system is a government led initiative that fails in its stated intent, BUT does mean some kids can read who would not otherwise. The problem with volunteers/private is that they’d do a great job… for the people who least need any form of ‘real life/farming’ training. Look, I think the likelihood of any such thing – especially under your current administration – is very low. It seems to be the party of conscription is evul to me. It does have the known side effect, much like the right to bear arms, but more so, of 1)making the ‘graduates’ less tolerant of government interference (trust me. It works the opposite from its intention. Been there, seen it.) and able to effectively put the frighteners on government. 2) It’s usually evaded by the children of the rich – which actually doesn’t serve them well, and does seem to drop the GINI co-efficient in countries that have it. 3)In the medium term, the ‘graduates’ tend to be more conservative than non-graduates. They also tend to have networks and common ground with fellow ‘graduates’ that they would never have met otherwise. None of these would appeal to your current admin.

                      Being an optimist by nature and a pessimist by preparation, I suspect the best answer would be -once youth unemployment gets so high that govts are desperate enough – to have some form of voluntary national service with components of things like fire-fighting and construction as well as military and disaster response training – say for 6 months or a year, which would have valuable tangible benefits for volunteers – say for example cheaper college entry, or 1/2 of the cost of that saving, in cash, if you don’t go to college, or other rewards making it worth doing if you’re young and unemployed. The wealthy Fabians would never let their children do it, thus weakening them, and for those who did, the positive effects would be large.

                    6. Er, actually Dave, my post tomorrow is about how the school almost managed to make illiterate two boys who knew how to read.

                      I think at this point, except perhaps in some rare pockets of sanity, the US school system is doing more harm than good…

                    7. That may indeed be currently true, but rather like a stopped clock being right, right now doesn’t mean it will be true in the future or was in past. A number of countries, including the US, have good records of producing great scientists, technicians, artisans, doctors etc out of their state funded school systems. What’s wrong is the situation at present, not the idea of making worthwhile education available at a minimal cost to everyone. I’m good with penalizing the feckless and lazy for not working. I’m not OKay with saying their kids should be denied a chance to become successful and well qualified people, just because their parents were feckless. US government schools were not bad. That’s what you need to achieve again.

                    8. It seems to be the party of conscription is evul to me.

                      Far from it; the left are very much for conscription– as long as it’s not needed. It gives them lots of power. They get angry when that power is limited to war-time-of-no-other-option proportions. (Every single year, there are bills put forward for universal mandatory conscription– by Dems. A couple of their congresscritters really like the idea of having total power of a year or two of every citizen’s labor…and every other aspect of their lives, just like the military. Check out Jonah Goldberg’s books in the chapters about “moral equivalent of war.”)

                      The people who “need it most” is a value judgement; I would say that those who want to be helped and are willing to help themselves are those who “need it most,” and those are the ones targeted by the standard at-risk-youth programs; those who would be the most helped if they’d just do it are the ones who don’t want to be improved. Those folks can’t be helped, especially if their parents aren’t willing.

                      The Right tends to be against universal conscription, outside of a few curmudgeons, because it’s a horrible change to the basic interaction between citizen and gov’t– a very un-American change, since it supports the “people belong to gov’t” view.

                    9. Long long time ago I lost an argument favoring conscription for universal military service on the Swiss model. I was for it based on my own experience. Kind of fun for the young to have a boy scouts follow a real military model – we had limited PX privileges and used army mess tins with the boy scout compass graduated in artillery mils. Without actually having national tests – the equivalent of the international bacalaureate was common as was what we called the matue – any male was expected to arrive fit for basic training – cf in parts of the U.S. of A. – 80% illiterate and need remedial work in the headlines and on other posts. A very useful function of national service – as Dr. Pournelle points out when he was young and folks were drafted for national service in connection with WWII the general population was literate enough for service.

                      The other guy trumped my peaceful experience by his tale of taking reservists to Korea and watching them die for lack of current intensive training – see also Kratman on the subject.

                    10. Which is why the reservists (ie the basic military training you talked about, and then on the reserve) are in many countries that use this system, given intensive training before any deployment. It wouldn’t appeal to Tom, as this is outside of his experience and he likes known quantities, believing them the only ones that would work, while actually there are many ways to skin a cat. Seriously though it makes a tough rather conservative population, who organize well in disasters, are near impossible to invade, and are very bad at taking orders from those who they do not respect.

                    11. Interesting. Shows both the left and right are narrow, parochial, short-term and rather stupid really. The evidence that it leads to a conservative society which is very ill-disposed to taking orders from anyone they do not respect, is substantive and widespread, with a huge historical data-set, so for the left to be proposing it is the equivalent of dreaming you will be the one to ride the tiger without being eaten. I can only assume that the right are ‘protecting’ the jobs of the full time military who tend to support them (which is what i assume the left wants to get rid of with conscripts) without either side doing the maths. Shrug. Stupidity is it’s own reward I guess.

                      As for the value judgement… i went through the conscript system, and was at a state junior school and a private high. What i saw in both was that people like yourself gave their children every opportunity. Those kids will probably succeed regardless of outside intervention, and will be put in places to grab opportunities. But the world is mostly full of the other 80% parents, who do little or hamper. I have no sympathy for those adults, but one of classmates at the state school father was an alcoholic and gambler. Teddy was a fairly bright kid despite it, and because school was free, and university highly subsidised was able to get to uni, become an accountant. I’m still in occasional touch and know he’s a very conservative teetotaler, with three bright daughter in private schools. My value judgement: he needed a state school that could teach. My friend Dez – I met at uni, and he has made some great contributions to biology – more than you or I ever will. He got there from a state school, and two lovely hardworking parents… who could never have afforded private, or taught him at home… because nice as they are, they’re thick. Mummy has an IQ 80 tops and daddy maybe 100. As with conscripts – where I still have friends who I would never have met from very different social and intellectual backgrounds. Some of them learned SFA from the army. Most of them learned a lot -many of the skills discipline that any farm kid learned, and they learned it from those seed-kids, not the instructors. When you accuse me of making a value judgement – you’re doing the same: who the hell are you to say which ones should have a chance? You no idea who it’ll work for, and you can’t make anyone take that chance, but every kid should have it. I guess it comes down to a difference in belief – I believe that 0.00001% kid that gets the chance and takes it, could be the crucial one that keeps my kids and family my country alive. So I feel they’re worth investing in giving a chance. You think they’re all identical widgets, and if you miss a few good ones, hey, the parents who give a lot will come up with just as good a widget. Well, look at the countries where education is reserved for the elite, and countries where it is available, take it or leave it to all… and see which countries lead, and which have the better quality of life.

                    12. Dave, I very much doubt the politicians on either Right or Left are eager for a populace that “is very ill-disposed to taking orders from anyone they do not respect,”

                      It isn’t as if very many politicians have much in the way of achievement beyond an ability to shinny up greasy poles. Like most pole dancers* they are very good at enticing promises and stimulating propositions, but at the end of the day you’re left poorer and nursing a hangover.

                      *No actual knowledge of pole dancers (or politicians) is held by this writer; all knowledge is based on observation (at a distance) and inference. This correlation is for humourous purposes only and no disparagement (of pole dancers) should be presumed.

                    13. I want to point out the left wants mandatory draft but NOT for military service — oh, deary me, no. Altogether too violent. They envision this as Peace Corps — i.e. suburban American kids teaching African farmers how to farm their own land — writ large and mandatory.

                    14. The public school system in our county has instituted volunteer work as a requirement for graduation from High School. Moreover you may not just do any volunteer work, it has to be for approved organizations. There has been some complaint about the limitations, but not about the whole concept. The Spouse and I have concluded that we live in an interesting world where volunteer work can be still called volunteer but be made mandatory.

                      In most cases those African farmers are no longer on the land they know. If they are actually farmers, they have most likely been relocated (yet again) by their most recent new government. Otherwise it is likely they have been granted a previously working farm as a favor by their friends in the same new government. 😉

                    15. Considering the results that happen when people are taught to be willing to mindlessly take orders from those they do not respect, simply because they are with the gov’t, I much prefer that option.

                    16. He specified for the gov’t.

                      Ho he??? My initial proposal was that a school requirement be instituted. Last I heard there were still private schools in America.

                      The school I attended included a week-long survivalist training exercise* in its curriculum. Now I think on it, Heinlein included such an exercise as a routine element of High School education in at least one novel, so nobody ought find the idea too outre.

                      ‘Twas Tom Simon who introduced the government’s heavy hand and started calling people fascistic. Tom also deployed sarcasm first, and phrases like “fetishizing brute manual labour”, ” everyone … must be drafted to do it” and “compelled by the government to work on … chain gangs” — linguistic practices which some might view as inflammatory personal attack approaching trollishness.

                      None of which recognizes that he had created a nightmare fantasy, imputed it to others, then accused those others of desiring his nightmare.

                      All quite gratuitously, as his points — as you, Foxfire, recognized — could as easily made have been (been more effectively made) without snarling.

                      Tom is usually a pretty sensible fellow and has demonstrated a sound sense of humour in the past, so I do treat him as I would a troll, but apparently some are blind to friendly cajolery, and apparently some toes are tender to the perceived stub.

                      I am confident the world will spin on in its accustomed path and that few will feel any need to take sides in what is presumably an unfortunate mis-communication. I am not a professional writer and am resigned to having some of my comments taken amiss. I have heard dark, unsubstantiated rumours that this sometimes afflicts professional writers, too, so that, for example, some geese have concluded Heinlein, forex, was a male chauvinist.

                      *Outward Bound. I understand it was once a very popular “leadership program.” We can only imagine what kind of “leadership” it programmed.

                    17. My initial proposal was that a school requirement be instituted.

                      “School requirement” is a government thing, usually through the DOE.
                      “Private school program” is totally different.

                    18. Nonsense. Quibbling over linguistic triviality. A school requirement is a requirement of a school. Catholic schools impose a dress code, typically a uniform, as a requirement of attendance without any guidance or support of the DOE.

                      Having previously made clear that the Daughtorial Unit was home schooled through High School you can be confident a) I have scant confidence in government schooling and b) imposed several school requirements without any involvement of the State or Federal Departments of Education.

                    19. Quibbling over linguistic triviality.

                      Yes. When in a purely word-based situation, I pay attention to what the words mean and go off of that. “School requirement” without a limitation is a general– ie, DOE– requirement.

                      I can’t manage mind-reading face to face, let alone across the internet.

                    20. Twaddle. Involving the government is a step beyond necessity. Taking it to the level supposed by Tom was a gratuitous slide down a slippery slope. Y’all built a dream castle on a weak foundation and are trying to shore it up by blaming me.

                      A “school requirement” is that which schools require — the involvement of the Department of Educrats in such a thing is entirely your invention and I would as soon you take responsibility for your careless interpretation.

                    21. I will note that only two people seem to have decided government involvement is necessary for schools to require something. So the mind reading might be on your part — unless you think everybody else is just reading sloppily?

                    22. Thought you had done with it? If you did not mean what it said you should have said it differently.

                      My statement was correct as it stood – you inferred what was not implicit nor inherent. Sarah has declared the matter tedious, I agree. “Touch me last” if you find it fulfilling but I doubt anything more either of us can say will affect a thing, especially as the last three exchanges have largely amounted to you saying “did to” and my responding “did not.”

                      With some added personal attack from you.

                    23. Reviewing the statement made, I find that what was actually said was not school requirement, it was “Institute a requirement between sophomore & Junior years of High School” — nothing about making it a requirement for the schools. So, yes, it could be interpreted as a government requirement but it ain’t necessarily so. Had I been making the proposal as a serious recommendation for a course of societal action (rather than as a toss-off conversation provoker in a blog’s comments) I would have been far more punctilious in my phrasing (as well as my capitalization) and I now comprehend the confusion resulting from my mistaking this for a casual forum.

                      I shall endeavor to keep in mind that some people don’t enjoy puns, jokes, allusions and metaphors, preferring their blog comments written with the wit and clarity of judicial opinions. I accept that not all people will find my comments amusing. Life is full of sadnesses of various sorts.

                    24. 1. I don’t think she needs you acting as hall monitor.

                      2. Accurately, what she said was “this matter grows tedious, now.” Boring is not perfectly synonymous with tedious. I would expect you, paying such close attention to precise meanings and usage of language, would appreciate the difference.

                      3. Such graciousness almost makes me regret my apology and acknowledgement that my initial statement was subject to misinterpretation.

                      4. I predict this will not be the last statement on the matter.

                      5. If you want to drop a topic, drop the topic. Demanding others drop it so that you can enjoy last word seems a mite passive-aggressive. If you’ve nothing substantive to add, stop adding.

                    25. I was under the apparently mistaken impression that you would agree one should respect the wishes of the person that owns the playground one is on; apparently, a basic polite demurring of continuing to carry on after being told stop it strikes you as some sort of claim of authority.

                    26. How peculiar – I was under the apparently mistaken impression that “stopping it” meant stopping it. Apparently it means hectoring others to “stop it.”

                      I think your definition of “polite demurral” and the standard usage of the phrase lack perfect conformation.

                    27. Sigh. Strike “Ho he?” and insert “Who he?”

                      Danged keyboard, danged hands, danged me.

                    28. I thought your meaning was clear, RES, and considering you’re just coming up from the crud, don’t beat yourself up too badly.

                      Unfortunately older son brought crud home again. Ew.

                    29. Holding me to account for what Tom Simon dreamed up as a way of implementing my proposal seems a trifle unfair.

                      It brings to mind Lenny Bruce’s amazement at being convicted on the basis of an undercover cop’s performance of his (Bruce’s) act. Certainly I have made sufficient outrageous comments that it is not necessary to attack me for what Tom Simon wanted me to have said, rather than what I actually said?

                      I will point out that the purpose of some comments is merely to provoke additional comments. Anyone who thought my school farm proposal outre probably doesn’t want to challenge me to make a defense of G-d’s allowing the Nazis to inflict their war and the Holocaust on the world. (Before you go too hyperbolical, be advised I have been mumbling the Sh’ma pretty much since I learned to sit up straight and not mumble, and frequently mutter the Baruch before eating.)

                    30. I only held you accountable for your rather nasty reaction to his reasonable interpretation of what you said.

                      Not being in your head, I can take no responsibility for what you may have meant, only what you said– and you have established that you did not want it actually responded to on the basis of “linguistic trivialities” like what you suggested, or downsides to the same.

                      So there’s not much to talk about.

                    31. “Rather nasty…”?? “His reasonable…”? I beg to differ.

                      Baselessly accusing a people of fetishizing hard manual labor and of wanting to conscript children for chain gangs seems rather beyond “reasonable.” To me, a reasonable interpretation would have entailed drawing out a clarification rather than leaping to a (mis-)understanding and calling people names.

                      Gentle self-deprecating humour hardly seems nasty, especially in response to repeated personal attack. But maybe that’s just me.

                      You and Tom could do with less Talmudic reading of what others write and less perfunctory reading of your own comments. It will help you seem less trollish.

                    32. Guys — RES signaled intent with things like the mine owner’s name and walking both ways through snow. I believe Tom has confessed to Aspergers issues, and I’m going to assume he missed the tone. So he did the equivalent of a critic of a clown-car number. “Not that many clowns could fit in a mini. I bet there are no seat belts for all of them.”

                      That said a “get acquainted with your food” program would be helpful to most kids. Only not Fed administered and at any rate it’s impossible because of “stupid bureaucrats and regulations and accusations of racism” so it’s at best a pipe dream.

                      However, this matter grows tedious, now.

                    33. Mine owner’s name? I thought claiming there were _seven_ of us and the teacher was Miss White was great stuff and the joke could only have been less obscure had I included a mp3 singing “hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go …”

                      I mean, I know I make many jokes reliant upon conflation of obscure cultural references, but I thought that one pretty overt. I guess it is true: on the internet, nobody can see your eyes twinkle.

                      As to this growing tedious now, I disagree. It reached tedious yesterday, at latest. Sadly, as an accountant trained at large account reconciliations, “tedious” just pushes the bow head and keep on plowing reflex. Sorry. Shan’t discuss it any further.

                      Besides, as is obvious from Monday’s blog post, if the schools were teaching digestion we wouldn’t get crap. Where food comes from and the meaning of hard work are the least of their (and our) problem.

                    34. RES,
                      Yes, but I was reading this on lack of caffeine, so it was when I read the mine owner’s name that I went “Oh” and went back to read the rest… I apologize. Coming down with a bug and doing four guest blogs in a day just kind of BEAT me.

                    35. Okay, now I don’t feel so lax for not looking up the name of the mine-owner’s son in How Green Was My Valley and taking the Scrooge reference as an easy cop out.

                      Besides, his name was actually Legree, S. Legree. He hadn’t changed the signage or letterhead because …

                      Last week I was at computer one hour and asleep for three, so I understand the exhaustion. I hope it passes before the next assault.

                    36. At the age of 17, and no it not farm labor. None the less a lot of it was hard labor. Your point was that it was unaffordable and would merely turn into a government money pit and achieve nothing. You went on to say you did not believe any such scheme had ever been undertaken. My point was it has, repeatedly, in the form of ‘national service’ and oddly the countries that have had it, have flourished.

                    37. Most people can recognize a difference between being drafted for military service at 17, and being sent to a gov’t farm to work as education before your junior year.

          2. It would just end up being another subsidy to the gov’t grant farmers– who are usually trust-fund babies anyways, and make a nice side-living manipulating gov’t programs. (Some of them do work very hard and do a pretty good job, I’ll grant; they’re just usually openly hostile to anything that will ease labor for any operation larger than their own. Also, at least in our valley, largely communist. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they’d just get a hint and stop trying to recruit my parents into their “provide everything we need right here, then share fairly” plots.)

            Cattlemen organizations (like the famous beef.org) usually have pretty good outreach programs, if a school will allow them in; my mom loved to take in motherless calves and lambs for kids to interact with, and was part of Cow Belles way back when.

            1. Which is why I suggested that social and fraternal organizations do it instead of government. If you FORCE kids to do something through government, they’ll do it grudgingly, with as little effort as possible. If you ALLOW them to do the same thing as a special treat, they’ll grab it with both hands and do it with zeal. If you told those that were offered a chance to “work on a real cattle ranch, ride horses and see wildlife”, you’d have to bar the door and take applications through the keyhole. It’s all in how you sell what you’re offering, just like books and chocolate.

              1. True, with the one weakness that you can’t save everyone.

                It’s sad, but some folks don’t want to be saved….

                My folks would LOVE to run an “introduce city kids to what ranching is like” place, with horses that are too old to do work for them to get accustomed to.

          3. How about just telling students that the commies in China sent troublesome urbanites to the collective farm as punishment? Maybe find a book that recounts some of their stories of misery and have the students read it.

        2. I’m rather grumpily inclined to agree with you– recently was “treated” to a guy complaining his property taxes on a building down town were more than a farmer was paying, with added whining about crop prices being higher than ever. (Like everything prices aren’t usually higher than ever, outside of the housing market.)

        3. You really do have a taste for animal cruelty don’t you Dave? Think of those poor sheep and the cow. If the cow happened to be a Charolais I wonder how many of them have ever heard of pulling a calf?

    2. MY theory on AGW is that a good chunk of the believers will stop when the glaciers come down the Hudson Valley. they may even have to reach Manhattan for them to belive it. (h/t to Fallen Angels)
      Of course, some of them will say that *that* is anthropogenic as well.

      1. It will probably not matter to the AGW a-warmists. The day a co-worker told me in the break room that she was surprised to find out that the cold weather was caused by global warming was the day I decided that they all were really cool-aide drinkers, and that they would ignore even their own senses to toe their dogma’s line.
        I wish I could figure out how to get people to ignore their eyes and believe that I am incredibly well dressed and handsome.

        1. “I wish I could figure out how to get people to ignore their eyes and believe that I am incredibly well dressed and handsome.”

          Well you have a couple of choices, you can become a rockstar, or a democratic politician (or marry one).

        2. I can actually see how warming in one place could cause cooling in another– but that’s from the same area of knowledge that is horrified at the idea of taking a bunch of temperatures from, basically, random places, averaging them and expecting the result to tell you anything, especially when the theoretical standards for collecting them are wildly different– let’s ignore the well documented failure to follow those standards, or the “adjustments” made, or or or…..

          It just drives me nuts. Like the statistician joke goes, if your feet are in ice and your head is on fire, on average you’re comfortable.

          1. On reflection, I think it is worst than that. People like my ex-co-worker actively avoided and refused to give any credence to evidence that would disprove that their understanding of the AGW hypothesis. It is surprising, when you look at things this way, how prevalent it is in other issues beloved by the progs.

  2. The Daughter is know to reply to those who tell her that such and such will destroy the environment, that, ‘No, it will simply change it.’

    Now if they care to listen further she might explain that the change may render an environment in which a human cannot survive. Not only that, but this might be considered a problem by some people. But even if you bomb all life to extinction there will still be an environment.

    1. CACS, my favorite way to deal with them is to just ask them what the ideal temperature of the Earth is, and how they proved that. Much spluttering ensues…..

  3. Implication of the “whatever they want” definition is always a good thing. It’s like “Social Justice” and “working together” and “bipartisanship”– actual definitions are secondary to the Nice People meaning.

  4. Might throw in the term ecosystem – perhaps a term that would clarify some prose.

    I’m not sure how much difference there is between a manicured garden and The River of No Return Wilderness save the choices of the gardener. (“Float Permit Reservation Information: The application period for the Four Rivers lottery has closed. Beginning February 5, applicants can check the results of the drawing by signing into their account to see if they drew a launch date. Confirmation Required: Successful lottery applicants must sign into their account and confirm their reservation by March 15th”……..)

    I am reminded of reading some 50+ years ago the (not so ever) Everglades might be a nice garden but the wilderness was gone never to return. We left the Miami area in 1972 and just maybe the household well was getting a little brackish. See John D. MacDonald on using the local environment with lyrical description to enrich his story – and pretty good sales.

    1. Weeeellll, Clark, there is a lot of talk about getting ride of the concept of ecosystem because it, too, has become muddied and muddled. Roger V. O’Neill’s talk “Is it time to Bury the Ecosystem Concept (With Full Military Honors, Of Course)” lists the problems that have developed. One is that too many associate “ecosystem” with a closed, isolated system (the classic pond from the biology textbook) instead of using it as a starting point.

      1. Might drop the word ecosystem as being too often used wrongly – perhaps in an effort to lend authority to nonsense – though equally often omitted when ecosystem might serve better than say ecology. Like frex decimate and disinterested (seems to be a current comparative or superlative for uninterested?) modern journalism has used language to impede thought at least for me while I try to figure out the intended meaning. Still, again like disinterested (despite not noticing a public example of disinterested behavior so far this century) the concept remains – how would you define the primitive for ecosystem and what single word do you suggest?

        1. If you want to catch people off-guard, I’d recommend “habitat” or “environs,” although environs has the more limited sense of location. Otherwise, use “ecosystem” or “environment” and provide enough information so your reader understands what you mean. It might be a good place for a little bit of info-dump (in fiction), for example have an expert explaining that no, the ecosystem in question is only part of a larger planetary energy system, and that no one knows yet what will happen if X takes place.

          I cheat by always including definitions in the introductions and appendices to my non-fiction work.

  5. “Christian theology came to describe humans as a special creation, unique because of being made in the image of the divine. But since nature had been made by G-d, it remained a textbook and guide for people, a place where one could see G-d’s will and learn to understand Him better. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the best examples of this approach. In some senses, nature was the Lord’s deputy, rewarding and even chastising believers.

    Changes began with the Renaissance and accelerated with the scientific revolution. According to Raymond Williams, in his chapter about “Ideas of Nature” (1980), artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and writers such as Galileo began setting the landscape behind humans, diminishing nature and enlarging the role of man. The Enlightenment then simplified the earlier complexity through developing ideas of natural laws. The English in particular came to value reason and experimentation over the older, perhaps more syncretic view of man and his environment, although even Francis Bacon urged people to “rule by obeying Nature’s laws.” Hobbs and Locke’s writings on man and the “state of nature” in some ways finalized the mental separation of society from nature.”

    Showing that sometimes ‘irrational’ theology is more rational than ‘rational thinking.’

    Anyone who believes society and nature are seperate is either not rational, not thinking, or more likely both.

    1. Odds are good that such folk have spent the preponderance of their existence in urban environments (hah!) where the closest they come to spilled blood and drink was temple sacrifice: first to big sky children (generally) and later to big gridiron children. Meat comes as it should: wrapped in clean, sterile (double-hah!) plastic and unsullied by dirty human paws. Vegetables appear magically in shining, misted rows divorced from muck, dung and vermin. Historically, philosophers were wealthy, so most of them probably didn’t care to think very hard about where their food came from. It was delivered on plates and dishes by those hired (or purchased) for that purpose, and there was nothing more to it. They had more important things to do, like lie in bed until noon considering the esoteric nature of Natural Man, and his position in the universe vis a vis the crude matter in which his luminous spirit is chained.

      In the interests of full disclosure, my degree is in philosophy. If I sound derogatory toward philosophy, I am not. It’s simply that most philosophers devote themselves to navel-gazing to the exclusion of more important considerations, like GETTING OFF THIS ROCK. I truly enjoy the study of the thought, though I enjoy the exercise of it even more. And most philosophers in history have been rather parasitic, more full of the (arguable, though I consider it justifiable) importance of their Great WorkTM, than they were concerned with uplifting their fellow human beans through their mighty cognition engines.

      1. In a effort to bring a fresh look in a blighted inner city environment (yeah, there that word) the PTA at The Daughter’s elementary school (pre-home education days) instituted a gardening project. The youngest got to plant hardy annual flowers, which gave rather instant reward. The two upper grades worked on a butterfly garden and a vegetable garden. Contrary to what some people suggest, i.e., your child will eat more veggies if they help grow them, we had several children attempt to foreswear veggies when they discovered, ‘they grow in the dirt.’

        1. They grow in the dirt! Imagine that!

          Now I’m going to imagine what the little monsters will go through when they discover where all their other food grows. And I’m going to cackle maniacally whilst doing it.

          1. Speaking of eating things and dirt, a recipe for screwing with their heads: introduce them to the concept of therapeutic geophagy, and the healthy (and not so much) effects of getting a little dirt in your diet. Omnomnom…

          2. Yeah, well. I spent a summer as a mother’s helper watching two boys in Eastern Tennessee dairy country. I didn’t do heavy farm work. Just the helped in the household vegetable garden, also picking fruits and putting up food. I got an opportunity to help neighbors round up cows — that would change one’s mind about images of gentle Daisy. Bossy is not a bad name for a heifer. Obstinate and Stubborn would also do well. And the chickens, well if it weren’t for the domestic turkey, I would use them in a picture dictionary for the definition of dumb, but I will settle with using them for using them for witless.

            (If we don’t address our education system, we will be saying the same about a lot of our high school graduates.)

        2. That just means they weren’t introduced to the process early enough. When they start going into the garden before age 2, they generally will not react that way. On the other hand, it’s still not a sure thing, because even though my father had enough garden for 4 families our size, I still went through a period where all i wanted was hamburgers and mac ‘n cheese.

          1. Well yes, but I believe that is a normal phase for kids, and I doubt your disdain of vegetables arose from the fact that they grew in dirt.

            1. Younger son spent years insisting on eating only white(ish) foods. Chicken and eggs primarily. DO NOT GET ME STARTED. An author who shall not be named got in an argument with me and said my making the kid eat ANYTHING ELSE was child abuse…

              1. While said anonymous author is a twit, isn’t amazing that we as a people are wealthy enough that a kid can have such an obsession?

                1. YES! Mind you, I still wanted to kill him. We had chicken and eggs, mostly and the occasional piece of bread/cheese.
                  It was between three and five or so…

                  1. Its probably all to the best that we don’t have kids. I’d probably have grabbed the blender – “You want white food? I’ll give you white food. Watch this …”

                1. Oh, yes. People who have seen us on panels together are probably sniggering. This author has decided I’m public enemy #1 on pretty much no basis AFAICT (it was before my political come-out.) Every time we met on line or off, she’d pick fights with me. And then I’d get sarcastic.

                  I let her live. She’s written at least one good book and several passable ones.

                  1. I wonder if this author had/has any children? If she had, I’d feel sorry for her children *but* it might be interesting to see if she’d change her tune if she had to deal with children of her own. [Grin]

                    1. glances around furtively … Nobody here but Hoyt’s Huns, right?

                      whispering This brings up a topic I mentioned to Beloved Spouse t’other day. A forbidden topic, the kind that people don’t rebut, they denounce.

                      It struck me, after the discussion about dysfunctional schools, that a big part of America’s problem today, a reason why “boyness” is being suppressed and children forced to live swaddled in bubble wrap, is blatantly obvious.

                      Women in America aren’t having enough kids.

                      No, I am not saying more women ought be knocked up more often. Don’t start pointing accusatory fingers and muttering about “barefoot and pregnant” went out with girdles. If you can figure a way to enable men to give birth, great.

                      There is ample evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, demonstrating that couples … relax … with each subsequent kid. The first child is watched the way a cat stares at the can opener when dinner is late. Second child, less so. By the fourth kid parents are able to stop hovering, have given up on the idea that children need to be “reasoned” into complying with parent’s objectives, should have their dietary preferences catered to absent severe circumstances or that children’s personalities are software and rewritable rather than hardware which has to be accepted and worked with.

                      They would also give up many silly ideas about making the world safe for fools. They would not have the excess nervous energy to attempt to be nannies, and they wouldn’t be nearly so susceptible to governmental regulatory twaddle.

                      Again, and to reiterate and underline, this is not an argument for women to have more children, it is a statement about the effect of their having less children.

                    2. I want other women to have more kids so that they’ll stop saying things like “Oh, I hope it’s a boy, then you can stop!”

                      (I’ve been good, so far– it’s mostly family, and even the ones who aren’t are someone’s family…. Focus on that focus on that focus on that aaaaaarrrgh…..)

                    3. I wanted to have eleven. I love seeing big families, only I get a little cat-eyed and envious. (Anyone making jokes about the over six foot tall boys who dwarf us, in the contest of “big families” gets a fish to the noggin.)

                    4. Uuuh… possibly someone, or rather Someone, already made the joke…..

                      Yes, I do think He does stuff like that, from reading a couple of the prophecies about Jesus.

                    5. As an extension to that, or perhaps a special case, if you will, I suggest that quite a bit of it may have to do with more people having NO children, and many of the ones who make decisions regarding our children being either of this group, or of the group who have little interaction with their children, entrusting their care to others.

                    6. Lord YES. Nothing seems to make a person more of an expert on child-rearing and development than not having any of their own.

                    7. Hey– Hey– I didn’t have any children– but I was taking care of babies since I was seven. Diapers and everything– oldest of nine. I do not tell people how to have children or how many. 🙂 Of course– I am always surprised at how some of those folks who as Wayne said don’t have children or let nannies take care of their children, have such opinions about how to raise other people’s kids.

                    8. It makes sense if you remember that humans like to make big shows to demonstrate that they didn’t do something they feel guilty about; so someone like me, who knows that she has a bad memory and worries about self-bias with details a lot, sometimes comes across as dishonest because I give way too much information. (Trying to avoid it just makes folks get angry that I didn’t give enough. Can’t win.)

                      Folks who didn’t have “enough” kids or aren’t raising their kids “enough” in their own mind are going to be a lot louder about what you’re doing that’s wrong, because how else can they show that they aren’t guilty?

                    9. Actually– I agree totally with your assessment Foxfier. If they are loud and point fingers at someone else, then they were good parents.

                    10. I knew a young man who was the eldest of fifteen. He insisted that he did not want children, not that he thought of them as a burden or that he didn’t want to be a responsible person. No, not at all. He was of the opinion that he had already done sufficient child rearing for one life time.

                    11. Well– it is different when you are in the middle or end of the pack. My sister who is #4 had over ten children and two step-children. #1 child ends up being another parent usually.

                    12. I’ve thought this for some time, and I’m a woman and I can say this: Women should be having more children. NOTHING but nothing is as important as creating and nurturing the next generation. We’ve sold our birth right for a pot of message.

                    13. “There is ample evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, demonstrating that couples … relax … with each subsequent kid. The first child is watched the way a cat stares at the can opener when dinner is late. Second child, less so. By the fourth kid parents are able to stop hovering, have given up on the idea that children need to be “reasoned” into complying with parent’s objectives, should have their dietary preferences catered to absent severe circumstances or that children’s personalities are software and rewritable rather than hardware which has to be accepted and worked with.”

                      While an only child my parents managed to avoid by I believe both coming from large families of almost all boys. (8 boys, 1 girl on my mom’s side; 7 boys, 1 girl on my dad’s)

                      “They would also give up many silly ideas about making the world safe for fools.”

                      There is a saying about this, “No matter how well you idiot-proof something, somebody will just make a better idiot.”

                  2. It is important to remember that the author’s political views are no guarantor of writing quality (for or against.) Equally, a good (bad) writer may nonetheless be politically insane (sound.)

                    Correlating writing ability with intelligence is an error they make. We ought not replicate it.

                    1. Oh, yes. I refused to go see Leonard Cohen in Denver day before the election, even though it’s probably his last tour and oh, I wanted to go. Because one thing is knowing your favorite artists are probably political idiots. Another is having it rubbed in your face, particularly when it’s a sort of low snark with no justification of anything…

              2. Our younger (well, only, but he’s the youngest child) son for some time would eat anything presented to him. As long as it wasn’t orange, or near-orange in color. He has long since abandoned that behavior.

                On the other hand, one day we were prepping the raised beds for planting, and his oldest sister handed him an earthworm she’d turned up. He looked at it, at her, shrugged, and popped it in his mouth. He *trusted* his sisters implicitly back then. She was horrified, he wasn’t.

                1. Oh, well, a worm here, a worm there, no harm done, really, though I guess there would be a chance of winding up with tapeworm.

                2. LOL. Robert. Robert ate EVERYTHING. By the time he was two his favorite food was souvlaki and doldmades. We used to joke the boys tag teamed us, the younger was the opposite of the older in SO many things. Marsh, until he was about five would — as far as I could tell — not only not eat much of anything, but go through crazes.
                  when my mom visited he found out she would make him eggs on command, because my method of putting food in front of him, if he doesn’t eat it he goes hungry horrified her.
                  THAT started the egg craze. Were were actually relieved when it extended to chicken.
                  He still doesn’t eat a bunch of things — it’s possible it’s related to his sensory issues. Most of the food he likes is really bland, and while he now tolerates borderline spicy, he still prefers… flavorless mush. Like, he eats salad, but without any dressing.

                  1. I have a brother who had a real problem with dairy from the time he was born. Finally, Mom got a goat and the kid quit vomiting (I mean he was burping up milk early). He couldn’t even eat ice cream w/o vomiting. It was sad. But no problems with goat’s milk or cheese. We put milk in everything– so no wonder he preferred bland before mixing.

                  2. Is Marshall one of those who can detect odors before anyone else? A sensitive palate and nose often lead to picky eating. Smell is a major component of taste.

                    The Daughter will still starve rather than consider eating some things. Part of this is that she has an incredibly sensitive sense of smell. We discovered this when we walked into a extremely large grocery and she announced that the fish were particularly stinky. The fish counter was in the far back corner. I could smell it once we first entered the aisles. The Spouse noticed it as we got to the back of the store. (Her taste buds are sensitive as well, she can tell you if the chilies are Mexican or Asian types — she says there is a metallic undertone to most of the Mexican.)

                3. Interestingly enough I have always like hot spicy stuff, while neither of parents do. But while I didn’t like salad any way growing up, I refused to eat it with any dressing until I was an adult. I still can’t stand ranch, but find I now like salads, and would prefer most any other dressing over plain salad.

                  1. Older son loves spicy food. When he was little the local thai restaurant often let him eat for free, because he demanded his food “hotter” — so they would bring him “off the menu hot.” I.e. what they ate. And then stood around watching him eat.

                    1. I used to eat at a Chinese restaurant that was that way (served all sorts of oriental food) some of the best cooks I have ever been around, but they didn’t speak English (well the wife thought she did, she would come out and talk to me, but I might understand one word in fifty, on a good day). You could order your food however hot you wanted it and the American waitress would write it on the slip, got to be where the cook would come out with the food and ask me through hand signals if it was hot enough or needed to be hotter (thumbs up) or cooler (thumbs down), until he figured out my preferences, after that the waitress just wrote down my order and told the cook who it was for, he would always get it at the right temp. She told me one day that he would often make a double order when I ordered and eat the other helpin himself, so apparently we liked stuff about the same spicyness.

                      Rereading my earlier post I can see it is time for me to go to bed, when I start mixing tenses and skipping words I know I am getting tired, makes me wonder how bad the editing will be on the thousand words I just wrote. 😦

                    2. I worked with a guy like that; ordered “Thai hot plus”. I now have a working knowledge of what it’s like to be pepper sprayed. 😎

                      My wife cannot handle any spice at all; apparently the version of Eastern European Jewish cooking she grew up with didn’t include hot spices.

                    3. I made noodle kuegel for a friend using her Grandmother’s recipe, and I thought I had ruined it, it was so bland. She, on the other hand was burbling the whole meal saying, “Oh. This is just like Nanas!”

                    4. Did you eat hot stuff while pregnant?

                      I use to think that was a kind of folk-tale, but I had insane cravings for Hot Tamale candies with the Princess and must’ve eaten four bags over the course of the pregnancy– and she eats stuff that I find too hot, but her dad loves. (The only thing we’ve found she can’t stand– not by experimenting, but by her stealing stuff off plates that aren’t guarded enough– is wasabi. Not on peas, but on sushi rolls, the decorative stuff. It was pitiful.)

                      I guess the Duchess isn’t too far behind, we did have “medium hot” curry last night for dinner, but wow.

              3. He had read Bunnicula, of course? Sigh.

                Reading a history housekeeping I came across a section on the early twentieth century and the modern scientific movement. There was a real push for presenting proper meals, which certainly would be unrecognizable as such now. One suggestion was to present monochromatic plates such as a meal of fish with a cream sauce served with white rice and cauliflower.

                The Daughter was a more than picky eater. Consulted the doctor, who advised me to pick my fights. As The Daughter was generally healthy, the doctor suggested not to make a big deal out of food as that could lead to greater problems in the future.

            2. Oh, certainly not. I was just pointing out that the experience doesn’t necessarily help on the eating vegetables thing.

  6. Actually, the history of the term “nature” is a little more complicated. C.S. Lewis goes into it for a lengthy chapter in Studies In Words. First we had the pre-Socratic philosophers, who talked about the physic of everything so much that they dropped the “of everything” and just used physic to mean “everything.”

    Then along came Plato and Aristotle, who thought there were more things than the pre-Socratic philosophers had thought — entirely different classes of being — and instead of saying that physic contains more than they thought, they said there are other things besides physic.

    This started the process that lead to “everything around us that isn’t what we have done” meaning but that meaning did not spring up then.

    1. There are many who contrive by confusing such distinctions to the greatest extent possible in order to profit by the “If by whiskey” ploy

      The label if-by-whiskey refers to a 1952 speech by Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., a young lawmaker from the U.S. state of Mississippi, on the subject of whether Mississippi should continue to prohibit (which it did until 1966) or finally legalize alcoholic beverages:

      My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

      If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

      But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

      This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

      If, when you say Nature/Environment, you mean …

    2. Mary, I was trying to keep things streamlined for the purposes of Sarah’s blog. You are correct, the history of the ideas derived from “physis” and “natura” is more complicated than my little outline suggests, especially if you start bringing in the Augustinian ideas of a fallen creation and the history of the concept of “wilderness” (from the same root as “bewilder”).

  7. all quoted from the BBC
    Britons must “work in harmony with nature” to preserve rural areas for the benefit of “our successors, particularly grandchildren”, the Prince of Wales has told the BBC

    During the programme, Charles – who set up the Prince’s Countryside Fund in 2010 to raise cash to support countryside communities – is shown visiting some of his rural initiatives as well a south London school which has seen improved exam results after helping pupils to grow their own vegetables.

    Countryfile: A Royal Appointment will be shown on BBC One and BBC One HD at 19:00 GMT on Sunday.

      1. I don’t know that it is a good idea to use blooded in the same sentence, much less describing a druid.

        1. Not that kinda druid. That’s part of why the eye-rolling scorn.

          Not that I’ve got huge respect for the whole pagans-sacrificing-people thing, but fops playacting is just eyerolling.

          1. It’s a Welsh thing, man. You wouldn’t understand… mostly because of all the initial mutations as grammatical markers….

            Anyway, the whole order of bards and druids thing is actually a Welsh Nationalist/Welsh language thing from back in the day. Getting the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury to join up is just hilarious historical fun. Anything radical that’s a hundred years past dangerous, the English higher-ups will join it.

            1. Nothing controversial about druids, they’re fine as healers and for dealing with undead as long as they know what they’re doing…..

              *slapping sound*

              Ooops. Sorry. Wandered off into gaming land. It’s kinda like pop-folk-lore, but more solid…..

          2. At which point, I feel moved to recommend Ronald Hutton’s Druids, which analyzes not what is known about the Druids, but the Druids as exploited throughout the centuries as legendary figures.

  8. The tl dr; more or less seems to be that, as I’ve been thinking for some time, per current usage, environment, nature, and so forth are mystical concepts. Making government policy on such is either establishing a religion or finger waving magical claptrap.

    1. currently writing an article where i am avoiding mention of certain uses of an item just because i know it will open that can of worms in the comments section…

  9. A friend of mine give me this “label” for a food item:
    Water, glucose, fructose, galactose, phenolic glycosides, 6-deoxyaldohexoses (fuctose and rhamnose), saccharose, galacturonans, (1-4) linked D-galactopiranuronic acid, pectin, pectinic acids, polygalacturonic acids, pectinestarase, Citric Acid, L-Malic Acid, D-Isocitric Acid, Oxalic Acid, Succinic Acid, Malonic Acid, Quinic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Adipic Acid, 2-ketogluratic Acid, praline, asparagines, aspartic acid, serine, glutamic acid and arginine. oxidoreductases, transferases, hydrolases and lyases, isomerases and ligases, glucosilglucerides, Carotenoids, tetraterpenes, limonin, aslimonoic acid A-ring lactone, neohesperidosides, flavones (3-hydroxyflavanones, 3-dydroxyflavones, O-glycosyl, aglycones C-glycosylflavones, Anthocyanins, (hesperidin, naringin, poncirin, neoheriocitrin, neohesperidin, rhoifolin, rutin, diosmin, sinensetin, auranetin, tangeritin, hydroxyethylrutinosideres, nobiletin cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidina-3.5-diglucoside, peonidin-5-glucoside, delphinidin-3-glucoside, petunidin-3-glucoside, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Pholacine, Vitamin B6, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Biotin, Pantotenic acid, Vitamin A.

    aka an orange.

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