Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Matrix Unloaded

Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate. Academic Latin for don't make up stories unless you have to.  I don't think that's an argument for making up facts to shore up wishful assumptions, do you?

I had one of those "never assume" moments this summer; a conversation with a stylish and charming young lady with a degree in nursing from Washington State at a Yacht Club dinner. We were discussing healthy diets and it came out that she and her husband would provide all the meat for her family by shooting a moose and perhaps a deer or two every year.  Who would have guessed? An avid gun enthusiast without all the "symptoms!"

I remembered it when a guest on Bill Maher's show opined recently that "nobody hunts any more" with the kind of off-hand certainty that buttresses too many conversations about life and politics.  Of course the opinion originated in the desire to make guns seem irrelevant and unnecessary and therefore to invalidate the argument for the right to own them.  It was the kind of invented fact that William of Occam warned against creating without necessity and it reminded me of another similar pronouncement someone made to me about the hobby of Amateur Radio being in steep decline  because of cell phones. Both arguments triggered some 6th or 7th sense of having been cooked up to support another argument much in need of a factual basis -- and so I did what is so easy to do these days.  I looked up the facts. 

Of course Amateur Radio is booming with more of us today than ever, and doing more things with new technology than the average guy can comprehend, but surprise, surprise as Gomer Pyle was wont to say -- more people are hunting and fishing than ever according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.Whether it's about economic necessity or the growing desire for "natural' sources of food, I can't say, but there's more of it.

Almost 38 percent of Americans participated in some wildlife-related activity in 2011. 12 and half million are hunters who buy over 620,000 firearm hunting licenses every year. That's a lot of people. 2.6 million Americans hunt wild turkey - double the number 40 years ago. 10.7 million hunt big game. almost 13 billion dollars are spent annually on hunting. Hunting alone supports a million jobs.
Nobody hunts any more? 

 Many people in this affluent county supplement their diet with fish caught from beaches, boats, bridges and piers. Many of  my county's poor benefit from the donation of wild boar meat shot by local farmers and land owners. America hunts -- from the bayous to the North Slope of Alaska, from Maine to Montana. It seems to be a way of life unknown to Brooklyn Boys and Valley Girls, unless they watch such people on TV, but Americans are and always have been outdoorsmen and without them, we wouldn't have national parks and conservation laws and the only wildlife in Yosemite would be Mickey Mouse.
With the increased urbanization of American life, it can be too easy to assume that everyone lives in cities and gets their food wrapped in plastic from refrigerated showcases in supermarkets and that that meat is produced in factories. That's a valid assumption for some, but an assumption with a political motivation. Fly over America and tell me it's an urbanized hive paved with concrete and plastic where New York's Central Park is "Nature" and where nature exists as a sort of health club for running and skating and 'doing cardio.'  This artificial view may be in part an artifact of the business of making life artificial -- a product to be sold us like tract houses  and theme parks and packaged vacations and is inhabited by people who do one specialized thing all their lives and long for things authentic and "artisinal" they can buy at the mall.

Is it any wonder that more people long for the woods, the lakes and rivers and hills, dream about finding their own food and being self-sufficient?  Such people don't fit into the plan and don't provide as much profit for those who need to sell our lives to us and so they tell us they don't exist, they're fading away, they're dangerous, old-fashioned, laughable, obsolete -- dangerous.  Now forget them. Think about the good life, about your cubicle and all the good things that Apple, Toyota, Disney, Nike, Coca Cola, McDonalds and ATT&T provide for you. Just watch the screen and relax.

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