Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » More from "Collapse"

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08/22/2005: More from "Collapse"

This is yet one more *interesting* tid-bit from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, but mostly for Len, who I know is a fancier of Sherlock Holmes trivia.

“In their range of hunting strategies, the Inuit were the most flexible and sophicticaed hunters in Arctic history. Besides killing caribou, walruses, and land birds…The Inuit [used] their fast kayaks to to harpoon seals and run down sea birds on the ocean, and in using umiaqs (boats) and harpoons to kill whales in open waters.

Not even an Inuit can stab to death at one blow a healthy whale, so the whale hunt began with a hunter harpooning the whale from an umiaq rowed by other men.

That is not an easy task, as all you devotees of Sherlock Holmes stories may remember from “The Adventures of Black Peter,” in which an evil retired ship’s captain is found dead in his house, with a harpoon which had been decorating his wall thrust clean through him. After spending a morning at a butcher’s shop, vainly attempting to himself to drive a harpoon through a pig’s carcass, Sherlock Holmes deduces correctly that the murderer must have been a professional harpooner, because, an untrained man no matter how strong cannot drive a harpoon in deeply.

Two things made it possible for the Inuit: the harpoon’s spear-thrower grip that extended the throwing arc and hence increased the hunter’s throwing force and impact; and, as in the case of Black Peter’s murderer, long practice. For the Inuit, though, that practice began already in childhood, resulting in Inuit men developing a condition called hyperextension of the throwing arm: in effect, an additional built in spear thrower.”


I will be posting some other book trivia stuff - but as I have to type all this up (and you'all know I am NOT a typist. LOL) it will take some time. And this is the last push of activities before getting my kids back-to-school on Wednesday. (Yippee)

Karen on 08.22.05 @ 10:35 AM CST

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