Culture


Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded–here and there, now and then–are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

—  Robert Heinlein, in “Time Enough for Love,” 1973

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That didn’t take long:

Did you ever wonder why we capitalize the word “I” but do not capitalize other pronouns, not even “we”?

This practice vexed the poet-preacher Henry Van Dyke nearly a century ago, and he came up with an interesting explanation.

English is the only major language to capitalize its first-person singular pronoun.

“How monumentally imposing is that upper case ‘I’!” wrote Henry Van Dyke in 1920. “If a writer is egoistic the capitals stretch across his page like a colonnade. When he writes ‘we,’ he descends to the lower case.

“But this orthographic solipsism, mark you, is shared by Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders,–all who use the English tongue. It is therefore not to be set down to insularity, but to individualism,–a stark, ineradicable, valuable quality of these various folks whose thoughts and feelings have been nourished by the same language.”

 

Moral progress in history lies not so much in the improvement of the moral code as in the enlargement of the area within which it is applied.

— Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, p. 101

The Japanese really like their watermelon:

A prized Japanese watermelon fetched nearly $4,000 on Monday at an auction in Sapporo. Yes, $4,000.

But before you choke on your own slice of citrullus, that four-figure price tag is actually a steep fall from the fruit’s peak season several years ago, in what may be a sign that the country’s highly regarded luxury fruit market is the latest victim of tightening consumer purse strings.

The rare Densuke watermelon, a solidly black, smooth-as-a-bowling-ball gourd, sold on the first day of seasonal bidding for 300,000 yen, which translates into about $3,740, according to the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. While the seeds aren’t gold, the fruit is lauded for its crispy texture and extra sweet juice. And grown exclusively in Hokkaido, there are only about 100 of the stripeless watermelons available on the first day it goes on sale each year….

The highest-ever paid price for the fruit was 650,000 yen, or about $8,100, at the Maruka Asahikawa Wholesale Market in 2007.

I’ll stick with the green melons, even if I have to deal with the seeds.

Several compelling statistics remind us to be thankful that we are Americans.

http://www.fubiz.net/2011/05/25/village-of-100-people/#more-160757

Via http://www.fubiz.net/2011/05/23/wadi-rum-resort/wadi-rum-resort10/

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