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The Short(ed) Month

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  • Rick Osmon
    Hello Loopers! In this issue: This Week s Show: The Short Month Op/Ed: War of Words Other news: Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age (buy extra
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2008
      Hello Loopers!
      In this issue:
      This Week's Show The Short Month
      Op/Ed: War of Words
      Other news:  Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age (buy extra blankets)
      *Please send event schedules for your organizations and I will publish them.
      Last week's show:   One Year Anniversary Show
      This Week's Show The Short Month
      How February got robbed! The Gregorian calendar is but the latest version of man's attempt to quantify and predict the passage of time.
      Other news: 

      Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

      Iran's Kelar mound dated to 4000 BCE - 3 days agoOxford scientists have determined the exact date of Iran's northern site of Kelar Mound by studying ancient coal and bone samples. Although many archeologists believed that the area was not... Possible turbine site includes burial grounds in Florida - 3 days agoRecent archaeological surveys show prehistoric Indians in Florida (USA) made their homes and buried their dead along the banks of Blind Creek, an area that has drawn controversy as a... Orkney islanders asked to help heritage - 3 days agoOrkney islanders (Scotland) have been invited to assist the draft of a new management plan for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (WHS). The aim is to maximise... Mysterious pyramid complex discovered in Peru - 3 days agoThe remnants of at least ten pyramids have been discovered on the coast of Peru, marking what could be a vast ceremonial site of an ancient, little-known culture, archaeologists say.... Ancient Scottish burials reveal links with the Netherlands - 3 days ago

      Vikings did not dress the way we thought (thanks Judi, this blew my whole image of rough n tuff)


      A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant

      Maya Mask Splendor Enhanced With Sparkling Mica (I wonder how much of that Mayan mica was mined from Cave In Rock, Illinois)

      *Please send event schedules for your organizations and I will publish them.
      Op/Ed: War of Words
      What is the "Culture of America Today?" Britney Spears, iPods, DVD's, plastic drinking straws, Biggest Loser?

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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      Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate,") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Different definitions of "culture" reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity.

      Culture is manifested in music, literature, lifestyle, painting and sculpture, theater and film and similar things.[1] Although some people identify culture in terms of consumption and consumer goods (as in high culture, low culture, folk culture, or popular culture)[2], anthropologists understand "culture" to refer not only to consumption goods, but to the general processes which produce such goods and give them meaning, and to the social relationships and practices in which such objects and processes become embedded. For them, culture thus includes art, science, as well as moral systems.

      Cultural Anthropologists most commonly use the term "culture" to refer to the universal human capacity and activities to classify, codify and communicate their experiences symbolically. This capacity has long been taken as a defining feature of humans. (although some primatologists have identified aspects of culture among humankind's closest relatives in the animal kingdom.[3])

      Defining "culture"

      Culture can be defined as all the behaviors, ways of life, arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society." As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the arts and gastronomy. [4]. Although, I think "law" better fits under the term "civilization".

      Various definitions of culture reflect differing theories for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. Edward Burnett Tylor writing from the perspective of social anthropology in the UK in 1971 described culture in the following way: "Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."[5]

      More recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) (2002) described culture as follows: "... culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs".[6]

      While these two definitions cover a range of meaning, they do not exhaust the many uses of the term "culture." In 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions.[7]

      Culture as civilization

      Many people today have an idea of "culture" that developed in Europe during the 18th and early 19th centuries. This notion of culture reflected inequalities within European societies, and between European powers and their colonies around the world. It identifies "culture" with "civilization" and contrasts it with "nature." According to this way of thinking, one can classify some countries and nations as more civilized than others, and some people as more cultured than others. Some cultural theorists have thus tried to eliminate popular or mass culture from the definition of culture. Theorists such as Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) or the Leavisites regard culture as simply the result of "the best that has been thought and said in the world”[9] Arnold contrasted mass/popular culture with social chaos or anarchy. On this account, culture links closely with social cultivation: the progressive refinement of human behavior. Arnold consistently uses the word this way: "... culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world".[9]

      Culture as symbols

      The symbolic view of culture, the legacy of Clifford Geertz (1973) and Victor Turner (1967), holds symbols to be both the practices of social actors and the context that gives such practices meaning. Anthony P. Cohen (1985) writes of the "symbolic gloss" which allows social actors to use common symbols to communicate and understand each other while still imbuing these symbols with personal significance and meanings.[11] Symbols provide the limits of cultured thought. Members of a culture rely on these symbols to frame their thoughts and expressions in intelligible terms. In short, symbols make culture possible, reproducible and readable. They are the "webs of significance" in Weber's sense that, to quote Pierre Bourdieu (1977), "give regularity, unity and systematics to the practices of a group."[12]

      Cultures within a society

      Large societies often have subcultures, or groups of people with distinct sets of behavior and beliefs that differentiate them from a larger culture of which they are a part. The subculture may be distinctive because of the age of its members, or by their race, ethnicity, class or gender. The qualities that determine a subculture as distinct may be aesthetic, religious, occupational, political, sexual or a combination of these factors.

      In dealing with immigrant groups and their cultures, there are essentially four approaches:

      • Monoculturalism: In some European states, culture is very closely linked to nationalism, thus government policy is to assimilate immigrants, although recent increases in migration have led many European states to experiment with forms of multiculturalism.
      • Leitkultur (core culture): A model developed in Germany by Bassam Tibi. The idea is that minorities can have an identity of their own, but they should at least support the core concepts of the culture on which the society is based.
      • Melting Pot: In the United States, the traditional view has been one of a melting pot where all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention.
      • Multiculturalism: A policy that immigrants and others should preserve their cultures with the different cultures interacting peacefully within one nation.

      The way nation states treat immigrant cultures rarely falls neatly into one or another of the above approaches. The degree of difference with the host culture (i.e., "foreignness"), the number of immigrants, attitudes of the resident population, the type of government policies that are enacted and the effectiveness of those policies all make it difficult to generalize about the effects. Similarly with other subcultures within a society, attitudes of the mainstream population and communications between various cultural groups play a major role in determining outcomes. The study of cultures within a society is complex and research must take into account a myriad of variables.

      Enough Info! Now the opinion!

      We need to stop using the wrong words to describe things. We should not use the word "culture" to describe a population, a time frame,  a geographical region, an economy, a technology (e.g., "Clovis"),  a use of resources, a set of beliefs, a set or behaviors or rituals, or,  most importantly, a civilization or society as used in archeological contexts. It leaves too much room for speculation and ambiguity. Yes, all those things are interconnected and somewhat interdependent, but they are distinct aspects of human activity. Let's go back and examine the UNESCO definition of "culture" above: "... culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs". That definition could just as easily and accurately apply to "society" if you swap population for "society or social group". Why keep re-inventing the wheel? Just use the words that say what you really mean.


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      Thanks for listening
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      Rick Osmon, aka Oz
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