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Jamie Samman

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How do you perceive butterflies and moths?

I'm spending my final year of study at Northumbria University looking specifically at what design can do to protect the diminishing species of butterflies and moths in the UK. I'll be exploring how we perceive butterflies and moths, and the potential to change peoples' attitudes towards conservation.

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Closing Statement from Jamie Samman

Hi everyone,

I'd just like to say a massive thank you for all your contributions, you've all been a great help!

My project is really gaining speed now, I've spoke to a butterfly conservationist and an entomologist, and am in the process of contacting a farmer to talk to, so I can get a good picture of the implications of farming to butterfly conservation.

The emotional side of butterflies and moths is something you've made me really excited about, and the power of these insects as an educational tool is fascinating.

Thanks you all so much,
Jamie

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    Nov 22 2013: It's interesting~. I 'd like to tell you what our Chinese traditionally perceive butterflies and moths in our culture.

    Butterflies: Because they're beautiful and flying around everywhere, they're usually likened to some beautiful women who don't want to settle down in one place or devote themselves to one relationship. But they're also used to describe as a happy couple in pair who can love each other with as much freedom as they want. We have a very famous musical work:"Liang shanbo and Zhu yingtai "(kind of "Romeo and Juliet"). In the love story, after the two characters commit suicide because of love, they turn into two butterflies being able to live with each other at last.

    Moths: They don't seem to be smart in our culture because they always tend to fly into a flame to burn their body to death. We have a saying to use the moths to express someone seeks his own doom without wisdom.( And personally I don't like their powder on their bodies).
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      Nov 23 2013: nice story :-)
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      Nov 23 2013: Its a pity, isn't it, that some humans tend to judge the smartness of another species on knowledge they themselves don't possess.
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        Nov 23 2013: I don't get it. What's the knowledge do you mean?You mean the moths are smart with what reason?
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          Nov 24 2013: Imagine you are a night animal and your major source of orientation in darkness is light, 'natural' light, such as the light of the moon or that of bright stars. Imagine further, that this, your orientation, works perfectly well for hundred thousands of years - until another species sparked more and more 'artificial' light sources all over the place, which renders your once reliable compass useless. And as your inbuilt 'GPS' is now confused and brings you right at those new light sources - the moon and stars were out of reach before - you not often burn to death in open flames, yet also exhaust pretty often at close range to bright lights, because your instinct keeps dragging you there, as it lost track of the original sources. And while you die in large numbers, because evolution can not upgrade your navigation system fast enough, you are seen as stupid, or suicidal, by this species, who began to lit the night for their comfort...

          Is your orientation ability linked to your smartness?
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        Nov 24 2013: Hi, Lejan~, anyway, hope you enjoy the butterfly legend too. Please see the link
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liangzhu_(Chinese_legend)#Legend
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          Nov 24 2013: I always wondered how beautiful young woman, disguised as young man, managed to stay unnoticed. Either, legend made them more beautiful as a woman than they were, or, man in those times didn't have much interest in basic femininity ... :o)

          Yet she was the ninth child, which certainly helped ... ;o)

          As you may noticed, I am not that much into this kind of stories, sorry ...
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        Nov 24 2013: If I were a night animal and I could fly, I'd like to be an owl instead. Owl is smarter than a moth. However, I agree moths have their inborn limitation and their uniqueness is fearlessness. They represent a spirt of sacrificing for their belief.:)
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          Nov 24 2013: Its not about choice and not about spirit. Its about noise on a frequency one have to have clear for senses to work as they developed. So let me ask you again ... is your orientation ability linked to your smartness?
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        Nov 24 2013: Usually Chinese women have a flatter upper body than that of western women. And some women have a voice just like a man's.(You can also find some men's voice is very feminine )We had a famous true ancient story about a young girl " Hua Mulan", who took place of her weak father to serve the army compulsorily and became a successful soldier in all battles. She returned home in full glory and changed back to a woman‘s dressing at last. It's a very inspiring story and even Disney adopted it to make the movie" Mulan". Here's the link of "Hua Mulan", hope you like it~!
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hua_Mulan
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          Nov 24 2013: I assume basic femininity in China is not reduced to a womans 'upper body'.
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          Nov 24 2013: And, did Hua Mulan destroy the Wu empire and thereby changed the history of belongings or did her deeds made other history possible at a different time?

          Honestly, I don't see any reason to glorify warriors, as it conserves a wrong message.
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        Nov 25 2013: I don't quite understand your point. I can say I also have my inborn limitation: I can't fly like a bird. But in general, I'm much smarter than a moth. And we also compare animals' intelligence with one another: like dolphins and chimpanzees being smarter except humans. Why can't say moths aren't smart?
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        Nov 25 2013: And you have confused the historic character among Chinese dynasties.The only female Chinese sovereign is " Wu Zetian" who belongs to the Tang Dynasty: Please check the link out.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Zetian

        She's inhumane when she carried out her plan to grab the power of ruling the country. She killed her own newly born baby(daughter) and succeeded in putting the blame on the Empress Wang to make the emperor abolish her empress' title and treat her badly. She also ordered people to kill the empress after she took over the reign by cutting all her legs and arms off and ordered people to marinate her torso into a jar full of something like alcohol. Despite of her cruelty ,she still contributed a lot to the whole country's development.
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          Nov 25 2013: Certainly deeds of a superior smart species.

          Yet I didn't confuse historic characters, as I was referring to a past conversation we once had about wars and the change of possessions. Never mind either.
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        Nov 25 2013: Hua Mulan didn't change the history, but her story influneced a lot of people and some of them made it into plays and poems to pass on her spirit from generations to generations. It did contribute to our culture.
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          Nov 25 2013: So Hua Mulan managed to spent years in the army, actively, yet never killed an opponent or ordered to kill any? Interesting, because if she did, she would have changed history, wouldn't she?
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        Nov 25 2013: Hua Mulan was recorded in the literary works with some historical descriptions .
        But still it's said she may be a legend with people's skepticism. She doesn't have anything to do with the Wu dynasty.
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          Nov 25 2013: It seems you don't remember our past conversation, or you pretend not to. Anyway, if not in the Wu empire, then other people have certainly been dispossess by her wars in other empires she fought against. Or did she exclusively fought in a civil war?
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        Nov 25 2013: Never mind. You can think your moths are smart. And I think Wu Zetian owns the talent in leadership. And she's beautiful in her time.But she can't fully represent the smartness of humans because she's not humane. Some really smart people don't like to control or kill people but to invent all kinds of new things to help people or change the world for better.
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          Nov 25 2013: As I said, you didn't understand my point about moths.

          Yet certainly irritating to me is your ability to view Wu Zetian as 'beautiful' considering certain 'details' you reported about her. As by those alone, I could and would not award her any 'talent', especially not in leadership, which you, in my view, confuse with cruelty and cold-blooded gain and retention of power. And no, smartness has never been an antidote against brutality, on the contrary, as at times it even perfected oppression and dictatorship, as history tells us.
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        Nov 26 2013: Sorry to hear you've been irritated by my words yet I didn't notice anything. Please don't take it personally and calm down. Let me answer your question as follows:

        "Anyway, if not in the Wu empire, then other people have certainly been dispossess by her wars in other empires she fought against. Or did she exclusively fought in a civil war? "

        Her real existence is still under exploration. No records were found about her battles. I think she at most took part in some battles or wars. She didn't launch any war.

        And about Wu Zetian, I think we have the simillar views on this kind of person but with different expressing ways. And you don't think she's a good leader. Your words " And no, smartness has never been an antidote against brutality, ..." made me think.
        After all, I only extended some humble views of my own.
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          Nov 26 2013: How could you have noticed my irritation before me stating it? As long as we are not getting our crystal balls to work reliably, I am not expecting this.

          Let me be precise on what I meant about Hua Mulan weather she was an existing figure or not or weather she didn't launch a war on her own. As you stated, that she didn't change history, my standpoint is, that anyone who takes the life of another being does change history.
          The fact that we can never know in which way this change turns out is thereby irrelevant.
          So by assuming she was an existing figure and did kill as a regular solider another regular solider, even though she didn't started the war herself, she, by this alone, already did change history. Thats all I was pointing at,

          On Wu Zetian I am not certain if our views are actually similar, as you assume, as my forming of an opinion about a person - dead or alive - is always holistic and never reduced to certain 'positive' outcomes.

          For example, if there was evidence, that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a pedophile and would have acted upon it, all his legacy would turn worthless to me, as it would have lost its foundation of validity.

          So if Wu Zetian killed her own child as part of political tactics, how could she ever be a good leader to other people if she has the capacity for such cruelty? Leadership to me is separate from having power or control over people, in fact, its the absolute opposite.

          Taking the history of my own nation, I get extremely angry with some people who honestly believe, after all what happened, that Hitler also did something good for our nation during his time of dictatorship. He got all people out of unemployment, he build the infrastructure of nationwide highways and restored national independence from the Treaty of Versailles ... and similar rubbish of this sort. As if any of this matters in relation to what this person caused and as if none of this could have been accomplished in any peaceful manner. Stupidity is persistent!
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          Nov 26 2013: Yet it seems we've gotten quite a bit off topic here ...
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      Nov 24 2013: great story Yoka! it's not often I get an insight into the cultural significance of butterflies in China, your story was really inspiring. One of the earliest memories I have of them is going to a local country estate home, that had been converted to a large butterfly sanctuary inside. I vividly remember, even though it was some time ago, a butterfly resting on my hand, it was a wonderful experience!
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        Nov 25 2013: Thank you Jamie. I'm very glad to hear you like the story. It must be amazing to feel a butterfly standing on your hand, which sounds very lucky~!
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        Nov 25 2013: Jamie and Yoka,
        I visited a butterfly farm in Costa Rica years ago, where hundreds of butterflies were fluttering around, and a few landing on us. It was very lovely:>)

        I have not heard that it is lucky for a butterfly to land on us, but it certainly felt very lucky to me! It is said that dragonflies landing on us is lucky, so why not butterflies as well?

        "Known in folklore as a messenger from the natural world, a dragonfly in the garden is thought to put you in touch with nurturing spirits to create magical transformations". :>)
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      Nov 24 2013: Nice story Yoka. I wonder if that is where the saying started....s/he is a social butterfly? S/he flits around?
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        Nov 25 2013: Thank you. But I don't get your meaning by "the saying". What's it?
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          Nov 25 2013: Hi Yoka,
          What I meant by a "saying" is cliché....a trite phrase or expression, which often has roots in an actual behavior, belief, or practice:>)
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        Nov 25 2013: Hi, Colleen,I know the word "saying", but I don't know what you referred to specifically. In the story, the two people are not social butterflies, they are butterflies in love with each other. We have a Chinese phrase: "Shuang su shuang fei",which means a couple “flying everywhere in pair”.
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          Nov 25 2013: Oh Yoka....sorry I misunderstood your question!

          The part of your story that prompted my thought of the cliché.....a "social butterfly" is.....
          " Because they're beautiful and flying around everywhere, they're usually likened to some beautiful women who don't want to settle down in one place or devote themselves to one relationship".
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        Nov 26 2013: Hi, Colleen, that's all right.
        What I said was our traditional perspections about the butterflies: one is likened to beautiful and a little playful women which are not in pairs;another is the imagination of pairs of lovers with freedom when they are in pairs. And one example of the latter perception is the "Liang Zhu" story.

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