Tuesday, 24 June 2014

In praise of metal detecting. 7. And what not to share

Lao Tze on his donkey
Bronze incense burner,
 China, Ming dynasty.
George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
photo: Daderot (public domain)

According to legend, when the sage Lao Tse
was about to leave town on his donkey and
never return, the gatekeeper asked him to,
first, record his wisdom for posterity. This was
the origin of the Tao Te Ching
Clare reminds me, this morning, of an important distinction I did not make yesterday. When I talk of sharing, I refer to raw data and not to personal hypotheses and theories. The former would include written data and images of the things we use to form our ideas for the latter. The decision on whether to share our theories and techniques is always a personal matter and no one should be made to feel guilty about such decisions. If you are good enough, there is no need to prevent others from learning by making raw data unavailable, besides, it pretty well identifies your weaknesses if you have to resort to stopping others. We know who you are, we know your lack of any real skill.

I developed a method for making printed maps with more layers of clearly understandable information than was previously thought possible, and maps that were able to actually calm people down in emergency situations. When we were producing such maps for flood evacuation purposes, the utility company with which we had a contract thought that they could save a lot of money by violating our contract and then attempting to produce the maps themselves. As it was far more difficult than they imagined, they failed in the latter, but as we sent them an invoice, they were able to convince the Canadian Government to harass us for taxes on money we never received. This, after the company first demanded that we hired more staff and got more computers to do the work faster and then cut back on their map orders leaving us cash poor. A government agent told us on the phone: "We know what we are doing, we are putting you out of business." They seized our bank accounts, harassed our other clients and eventually forced us into bankruptcy.

So after spending more than eleven thousand dollars on lawyer's fees in the contact/intellectual property case we could no longer pursue it. Our bank manager had been so confident that we would win the case. It seemed so open and shut to him that he had granted us a large line of credit. My poor wife fell apart at the seams with the stress of us having to live by our wits and losing our company after having to lay off all of our devastated staff. Her breast cancer that had been "cured" eight years earlier came back as a result of this intense stress and it killed her four years later. The stress from both of the events let me off lightly with a mild heart attack . I swore to myself never to have a business in this country again. My map process will die with me. Essentially, the Canadian government killed my wife as surely as if they had put a gun to her head. I view such government employees as sociopaths with no sense of personal guilt or responsibility. Such people are drawn to bureaucracy as a convenient vehicle for their personal madness.

My health is much improved, and I no longer even take any medication as I prefer to follow Linus Pauling's  more natural methods. I have not had any symptoms of heart disease for many years now. There are a number of potential projects that I do share on this blog as they might well take longer than my remaining time, as I am nearly 65 years old now. Also, my daughter will be able to better know about what she will inherit, and my grandchildren can learn more about grandpa once they can read. This is my "Tao teh ching". Now, I'm not claiming that this blog has anything even approaching that level of wisdom, and I hope that some of my hypotheses will be disproven in my lifetime as we can only really learn well from our failures while our successes can lead to psychological inflation!

Nowadays I am a poor, independent, scholar. I'm very fit and I have never been happier!

If you are a metal detectorist, you are a prospector. How you set up your instrument, your favorite fields and more is your intellectual property. Don't allow anyone using the "cultural heritage" excuse to make you feel guilty about not revealing certain things. It is vitally important that any reporting is voluntary. Provided that you are following the laws where you live, the ball is your court and you should follow only that which you believe in yourself.

You can still share, if you want to, but this can take the form of showing your finds on websites or blogs (and allowing people to use such images in their own research). If you want to sell some things in order to buy other things, there is nothing wrong with that either. Don't be lured by academia into thinking that trade is immoral. They, too, are often mainly taking care of themselves with what they do and they often don't have the honesty to even admit that.

But don't also think that archaeology and archaeologists are the enemy. Seek out the best in that field for advice. In all of my years, some of the top archaeologists have helped me greatly and not one of those ever criticized me for being a collector. Often, they are far too busy to waste their time criticizing detectorists and collectors. If you get any criticism, simply ask what they have published, and what they have done, other than being critical of others. The best archaeologists will like you if you share their passion, and that is how you will know them.

Thanks, again Clare!

Tomorrow, some advice for those detectorists who want to take things further.

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