Here's something strange from classic American culture: John Singleton Copley's 1778 painting, Watson and the Shark.
Brook Watson, the boy in the water, was a personal friend of Copley. Watson suffered a shark attack in the waters near Havana, Cuba at age 14. Altthough he lost the lower part of one leg, he went on to become the Lord Mayor of London. Just call him Mayor Peg-Leg.
A copy of the painting was hung in Christ's Hospital, West Sussex, England where it was thought to be "a most usefull Lesson to Youth.". Like, "Stay away from sharks"?
On the home front: More Squawkertainment. I noticed today that Squawker looks different somehow, then I realized -- he's got his winter coat! His black fur is softer, thicker and sleeker. Even his face looks puffier. Good "fur" you, Squawker!
Yesterday, I was putting a new sheet on my bed. My cat, Squawker, jumped on the bed, rolled in the sheet, wrapped it around himself, bit and kicked it, and attacked it as if it were alive.
"Squawker," I said, "That sheet is for me to sleep on, not for you to play with."
Squawker didn't care.
So, I picked him up and threw him off the bed. He immediately jumped back on and rolled in the sheet again. I realized that if I kept throwing him off, he would keep jumping back on, until either I gave up, or he gave up.
After being tossed off the bed over and over, Squawker finally turned around and darted away. Then, I could hear the thundering of his little paws as he dashed madly up and down the stairs.
Daffy Duck -- who, despite his species, is incapable of unaided flight -- joins the USAF and is shot down over Germany, where he confronts Hitler in person. His attempt at assassination is no more successful than von Stauffenberg's -- probably because this was made in 1943 and the producers wished to emphasize that der Fuhrer was still at large.
Notice how Daffy's airplane gets shot away from underneath him, leaving behind only the engine and propeller. The engine is an early rotary model. Instead of turning a shaft, the engine itself spins around, driving the propeller to which it is attached. Rotary engines fell into disuse after WWI, but there's an new model called the Wankel rotary engine which is popular in private planes.
Toward the end of the cartoon, Hitler is shouting something in garbled German that sounds like, "Mein Pumpkin! Meine Welt!" It's interesting that he references a fruit native to North America. In fact, it's really an American sentiment: "The world is our pumpkin. Let's make pie!"
I've been thinking about Nietzsche's "Revaluation of Values": his maxim that whatever creates strength and power is good, whatever causes weakness is bad. I think this principle is valid, as long as strength is defined in a broad sense rather than a narrow one. In particular, I would include the Taoist idea that apparent weakness can sometimes be strength; that the soft, yielding and pliable can in some situations triumph over the hard and rigid, and resistant, as water wears away stone.
I am reminded also of the Taoist theory of the elements, which contains as sequence similar to the game of "Rock-Paper-Scissors", in which the elements are presented in the order in which one element destroys or overpowers another: fire burns wood, water extinguishes fire, etc. The sequence comes round in a circle; the weakest element is also the most powerful.
Thus, an ethic based on power as the primary good need not be a crude, simplistic creed of "Might Makes Right", but instead can utilize a complex, subtle and sophisticated understanding of power as true efficacy, incorporating characteristics such as adaptation, feedback, and sustainability.
Here, however, Zarathustra could no longer restrain himself; he took his staff and struck the wailer with all his might. Stop this, cried he to him with wrathful laughter. Stop this, thou stage-player! Thou false coiner! Thou liar from the very heart! I know thee well!
I will soon make warm legs to thee, thou evil magician: I know well how — to make it hot for such as thou!
Leave off, said the old man, and sprang up from the ground. Strike me no more, O Zarathustra! I did it only for amusement!
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, "The Magician".