Saturday, August 28, 2010


George Perkins Marsh is an essential figure in the conservation movement. His address to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County on September 30, 1847 was a catalyst for commencing discussion regarding the preservation of lands, especially forests, and the effects of agriculture on the greater environment. Why did I read this address on a Sunday morning? Good question, and must be answered in two parts. First of all, I'm a nerd. Secondly, by examining the origins of an idea or a movement, we can better understand and appreciate that movement (but seeing as I'm a believer in conservationism, it's probably a greater dose of the former rather than the latter) Anyway, I highly recommend the address:

In reading the address, I was again reminded of the former power of American political speech. Speech used to stretch the mind, argue elegantly for new ideas, and inculcate passion. Let's do a little comparison. G.P.M. "So far then as telluric influences are concerned, it be may assumed, that the results of agricultural labors are in the main subject to calculation, and depend entirely upon the intelligence and industry of the husbandman." Compared with G.W.B. "Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?" Granted this is somewhat of a cheap shot, so let's just look at Marsh. First of all, the language is far from the middle school level to which too many speeches and newspapers have dropped their standards. We will not improve our lexicon without necessity, and so it is the responsibility of our leaders (and leading publications) to drive us to the higher standard. (By the way, telluric means 'of or pertaining to the earth, terrestrial') Secondly, I love the image he paints with this phrase. On the surface, agricultural productivity is dependent on smart choices coupled with hard work, but by including the phrase husbandman, he deepens the connection between the farm and the farmer. Not only is the farmer to work the land to the best of his ability, but he is also to serve the land as a husband would to his wife; talk about imagery!

Apologies for a post centered on enhancing your useless knowledge, but Sundays are usually slow and today is even slower because there's no futsal this week since we were unable to get enough guys to commit. Oh, a fun piece of news, my cell phone bill from my entire time in Indonesia thus far has been $5.50. Arguably this is considerably better than my previous relationship with Verizon :)

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