Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Loons and Bilge Bumps

I was practicing kayak "self rescues" yesterday, which consist of getting my lard butt out of the water and up on a kayak with the help of an outrigger you make out of a paddle and an inflatable bladder,  while trying to rescue various items that have floated out around you.  Then, getting said lard butt back into the cockpit without flipping back over the other way.  (A very entertaining site from shore, I imagine)   Finally, after getting  in the boat, I was pumping out the water with my bilge pump when a distressed loon screamed right behind me, loud enough and close enough to make me nearly flip again.  I looked around to see a pair of loons.  As I sat still, they floated off in another direction, till I started pumping again, then they returned, and one of them started raising up out of the water, wings flapping.  I imagine the splashing of the pump sounded like a rival bird.   This might explain why sometimes loons are very curious about the kids who swim at a nearby raft.   

A hierarchy of noise: the short course

I have been working in Northern Wisconsin this week, where it is relatively quiet.  Of course, there are exceptions to the quiet.    That reminded me of a project I wanted to undertake: Making a study of the ethics of  human-made sound.     I would start with an Aristotelian gathering and classifying different kinds of sounds.   (What types of human-made sound are there? When is a sound a noise? )  Then I would try to examine human-made sound through the lenses of  ethical ideas.  
   But I get ahead of myself.  For now, just the short version: Let's say you are on a small, quiet,  northern Wisconsin lake and you are wondering whether your radio is a sound or a noise to other people enjoying the lake:  Its a noise.  

And if you are wondering if you have an equal ethical warrant to make that noise as another person has to be free of it: No,  you don't.