October 7, 2013

"Learn to Love our Natural World." [UPDATED with a list of 9 annoying things.]

Seen yesterday:

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Meade points to the signage — orders from The State:

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(Click photo to enlarge.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Peter says:
Those photos show a world that's "natural" in the same same sense that downtown Chicago is "natural"- that is, they show the natural world as it's been shaped by humans and their activities for many, many centuries.

The landscapes shown in these photos surely look far different then they would without the presence of humans and the various human activities that have shaped and altered them.
Yes, and the least natural thing is the government imposing signs, and this sign is especially ridiculous, telling people who are already out walking in the nature preserve that they must learn to love nature. Quite apart from the annoying inference that we do not already love nature, I was annoyed by:

1. The presence of any signage infringing on the direct experience.

2. A sign that provides no specific information (such as the names of plants and the history of the restoration).

3. Government seeing our emotions as within its domain of command.

4. The selection of "love" as the specific emotion that should be dictated.

5. Presenting the sublime emotion of "love" as something that is achieved through a process of education.

6. Stimulating an anti-authoritarian impulse that drives me away from love.

7. Stimulating an anti-education impulse that makes me resist learning. (If you want me to learn, give me some information to learn here, not instruction to love.)

8. A subtle state-sponsored atheism.

9. Stimulating a list-making response in me that provokes me to write an item — that last one — that makes me annoying and proud of being so annoying.

47 comments:

Peter said...

Those photos show a world that's "natural" in the same same sense that downtown Chicago is "natural"- that is, they show the natural world as it's been shaped by humans and their activities for many, many centuries.

The landscapes shown in these photos surely look far different then they would without the presence of humans and the various human activities that have shaped and altered them.

madAsHell said...

A woman's touch.

Tom said...

I've always thought Wisconsin looks like The Shire. Very nice!

betamax3000 said...

Weren't You Supposed to Have Brought a Few Orange Cones With You? The Government Can't Do It All Alone, You Know.

wildswan said...

In a deep sense though the whole botanical world was basically shaped millions of years ago and is almost unaffected by humans. The families of plants, the way chlorophyll works, the Calvin cycle, interaction with insects - it's all unchanged. There's just a few details about which plants and animals and insects are interacting which would be different without humans. But these few details are what we see with our eyes so we say it would be "different", meaning "look different to us." That's a very anthropomorphic viewpoint. A silicon-based world would BE different

David said...

You can go to a few places in Wisconsin--Menominee County for example--to see small patches of the original virgin forest. Other than those few, everything in Wisconsin has been transformed by man. Wisconsin has a bucolic cultivated beauty. Since man is part of nature, I view all of this, even the cities, as part of the natural world. A human city is as natural as a giant anthill. And almost as impressive.

betamax3000 said...

The Second Photo Reminds Me of Wyeth's "Christina's World". Except There are Trees in the Photo. And The Farmhouse is Missing. And the Barn. Landscape A Bit More Overgrown. Also: No Christina.

Other Than That.

Ann Althouse said...

"Weren't You Supposed to Have Brought a Few Orange Cones With You? The Government Can't Do It All Alone, You Know."

We were joking about putting orange cones around a single flower, doing performance art like that, with photographs.

betamax3000 said...

"Stimulating an anti-authoritarian impulse that drives me away from love."

Nice Usage of a Sting Lyric.

tim maguire said...

It's called base-line budgeting. If they didn't spend the $100 dollars on that sign (and I bet you they did spend $100 on that sign!), that $100 dollars may have gone unspent.

Under baseline budgeting rules, that would mean a $100 budget cut next year. Better to spend the money stupidly, even offensively, then to lose that money next year.

In bureaucratese, less money means less power. More money, even if wasted stupidly, means more power. And power is what it's really about for the bureaucrat.

betamax3000 said...

"Presenting the sublime emotion of "love" as something that is achieved through a process of education."

It Depends Where They Place the Electrodes.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Park Ranger Robot Says:

Indirectly Infringing on the Infringement of Direct Experience Is Punishable By a Fine. We Will Put Up a Sign About That.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Park Ranger Robot Says:

The selection of "love" as the specific emotion that should be dictated was Amended to the National Park System Mission Statement in 2011. We Can Show You Pamphlets.

PH said...

Wait. How were you able to take pictures of nature? I thought the government shutdown prevented people from enjoying nature. Oh wait, that's just national parks...

MathMom said...

Ann said:
7. ...(If you want me to learn, give me some information to learn here, not instruction to love.)

betamax3000 said:
The Second Photo Reminds Me of Wyeth's "Christina's World". Except There are Trees in the Photo. And The Farmhouse is Missing. And the Barn. Landscape A Bit More Overgrown. Also: No Christina.

Other Than That.


betamax3000 stimulated in me the desire to learn something, by giving me some information to learn.

So, I Binged Wyeth Christi which was enough for Bing to provide for me, this!

I said all that just to say, betamax3000 is right.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Park Ranger Robot Says:

Emotions Elicited By Government Parks Are within the Government's Domain of Command While on Federal Land. This Includes, But is Not Limited to, Parking Areas and Rest Rooms. While On Federal Land Such Emotions are Considered as Federally Funded. Please Stay on the Mandated Paths.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Park Ranger Robot Says:

The Purpose of Signs that provide no specific information (such as the names of plants and the history of the restoration) is Explained in the National Park System Style Book, Located in the Chapter About Acceptable Font Usage on Signs. The Style Book Provides for a Consistent Experience in All of Our Parks.

Please Do Not Italicize In Our Parks Unless in Specifically Designated Areas.



Lance said...

The landscapes shown in these photos surely look far different then they would without the presence of humans and the various human activities that have shaped and altered them.

I think the progressive response would be "you didn't build that."

Kelly said...

Tim, that reminds me of being in the army when the end of the fiscal year rolled around. I was ordered to go to the office supply store and buy whatever I could, to spend the money left in the company account. I just grabbed gobs of stuff, boxes upon boxes of pens, type writer ribbon, it didn't matter what.

My Sergeant Major explained we wouldn't get as much money the next year if we didn't spend all we had for that year. It didn't make much sense to me then, either.

This was during the big campaign of stopping "Fraud, Waste and Abuse", and here I was participating in it under direct orders. I assume all federal agencies still do stuff like what I did.

Wa St Blogger said...

I always thought it odd that we refer to any man-made alterations to the environment as "UN" natural. What? Did we get ported to the earth from some alien world a few hundred thousand years ago? Are our changes any less natural than a beaver dam? A tree marked by a bear? Tent caterpillars? Wasp nests? I do have to admit that I prefer scenic views that have a minimal of man-caused alterations to it as compared to ones without man-caused alterations.

Edmund said...

8. A subtle state-sponsored atheism.

Not athesim. They are trying to promote druidism.

Inga said...

Number 9, is divine.
Makes me feel so very fine.
Signs to align to nature sublime.
Whilst orange cones like Maginot Line.
Our country awaits the realign.
Sitting on benches of knotty pine,
Sipping on some table wine?

No that's not right.

swierczekml said...


I believe the sign was *implying* that we do not already love nature, not inferring it!

swierczekml said...
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Inga said...
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Inga said...
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Tyrone Slothrop said...

You're lucky it wasn't federal land. The sign would have forbidden you from loving nature.

Inga said...

Sitting on benches of knotty pine,
Watching melon vines intertwine?

No that's not right either.


Sitting on benches of knotty pine,
Thinking of Congress in Great Decline.

Yep, that's it.

rhhardin said...

The state likes to stand between individuals and nature. It teaches the citizens an important lesson about pecking order. The sign just carries that plan.

Try raising an orphan baby Robin and see what happens if the state finds out.

Whereas raising a baby Robin is if anything an expression of care for animals.

(Legal trick for raising baby Robins: raise them outside unconfined. They'll stay in their box for the right nest time and hang around for food afterwards. The area has to be cat free, and bird-seeking dog free for that matter.)

oneredquilt said...

That bench sign sounds like something a benevolent parent would say to a child. The government is the adult and the public is a child that needs to be taught the enlightened way of living. They also tell us what to hate. All of that used to be the provenience of the church/religion.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

Where's the "After" picture?










(You guys did practice some civil disobedience, didn't you???)

mrs. e said...

You seem to be assuming everyone who is there is there by choice and appreciates nature. Plenty of folks (including kids) are there at the suggestion or the strong influence (tagging along) of friends and family and are, at a minimum, indifferent.

I take the ‘love’, here, to mean ‘admire’, not the emotion. I also hear it as a suggestion, not a command. You know, as in teach yourself something – read a book about it.

“8. A subtle state-sponsored atheism.”

Some see God in everything. So, there’s that side of it, too.

Finally, could the sign have been posted at the suggestion or action of a 'Friends of' group?

Inga said...

mrs.e,
I was thinking on the same lines. Perhaps that boardwalk and the benches were donated by that fiends group and they were allowed to personalize the particular bench they paid for.

Inga said...

That should be FRIENDS, those sign loving fiends! :)

Earnest Prole said...

There’s another tell in the sign: the word “our” is lowercase, like that other unimportant word, the preposition, while Natural World, like God, is capitalized.

R. Chatt said...

It may be directed at a specific audience:

Black Folk Don't: Camp

David said...

Hardly surprising that black folk don't camp. The slave cabins were pretty much camping 24/7--leaky roofs, open fires, no windows or doors. Just like camping except for the backbreaking work 6 days a week.

My father had loved camping as a teenager. Long canoe treks, mountain climbing, open fires, etc. And in the 1930's where there wasn't the gear there is today.

Then he lived in a tent for two and a half years during WW 2. Never camped again. Refused.

Luckily, he transmitted his disdain for camping to me. I do not do it.

The black people and my dad had it right.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Learn to Love our Natural World."

Umm...as opposed to our supernatural world?

TML said...
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TML said...

I don't believe AA penned this as she would never make an imply/infer error

David said...

Professor, you left "stupidity" off your list.

Peter said...

The least that sign could say is, "Your ability to enjoy this bench and the natural beauty surrounding it is brought to you by the government of the United States, Barack Obama, President."

Sort of like the signs on the Illinois Tollway, reminding you of who the current governor is.

Michael said...

Learn to behave. Goddamnit.

heyboom said...

This is probably a little off-topic, but as good a place as any to say it. I remember while stationed in Upper Michigan a group of us went down to Milwaukee to play a round of golf towards the end of winter. We played at the municipal Brown Deer golf course (when the PGA was still playing there) where the temperature was 39 degrees. And yet, the course was as green as any I have ever seen, with lush fairways and perfect greens. I was always amazed by that.

And the fact that it only cost us $7 to play there.

Crunchy Frog said...

Sitting on a park bench
Pointing at a sign with bad intent
Hey, Aqualaurence

Lem said...

I liked it.

Craig said...

Signage faulted for preaching to choir.