Tag Archives | Thank You Please May I Have Another

Double Double Toil and Trouble

[cross-posted at POT and facebook]

Future historians will look back at the history of the u.s. in the 20th (and early 21st) century with the gravest suspicion.

According to the received chronology, they’ll note:

  • From 1901 to 1909, a president named Roosevelt, formerly governor of New York, held office, promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
  • From 1933 to 1945, a supposedly different president named Roosevelt, likewise formerly governor of New York, held office, likewise promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
  • From 1914 to 1918, a worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; Germany lost.
  • From 1939 to 1945, a supposedly different worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; once again, Germany lost.
  • From 1950 to 1953, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on an Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia giving assistance to the northern side.
  • From 1961 (or so) to 1975, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a supposedly different war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on a supposedly different Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia once again giving assistance to the northern side.
  • In 1988, a New England preppy turned Texas oilman named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
  • In 2000, a supposedly different New England preppy turned Texas oilman likewise named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he too sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to (the same) Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The historians will say: it’s clear enough what’s happened here. Evidently two somewhat inconsistent chronologies have been overlaid on each other, creating a series of artificial doublets. Surely there was just one president Roosevelt, just one Germany-versus-u.s.-plus-everybody war, just one northern-Communists-versus-southern-u.s.-allies Asian peninsular war, just one president George Bush, and just one u.s.-versus-Iraq war.

After all, no one in their right mind would choose to live through any of those things twice.

If another member of the Trump family gets elected president in the next few years, the hypothesis will only be confirmed. (As it would likewise have been had a second president Clinton been elected in 2016.)


The Fountain Dries Up

[cross-posted at POT]

So here’s a mystery. It seems that Amazon no longer carries The Fountainhead (except secondhand copies). This link, which worked last month, no longer works:

They still carry Atlas Shrugged; and Barnes & Noble still carries The Fountainhead.

Hmm. Well, I’ll ask my contact at ARI (yes, I have one!) if they know what’s up.


Flipping the Bird

Earlier this week, DC Universe posted a poll asking viewers to vote on whether or not Jason Todd should survive his “50 story plunge” at the end of the previous episode of Titans. With a nod to the famous 1988 poll in which readers voted to kill off the character’s comic-book incarnation, the text read “This isn’t the first time that Jason’s fate was left to the whims of others” – which made it sound as though DC would actually allow the poll results to determine the outcome (though many commenters have been skeptical).

Well, once today’s new episode went online and the poll closed, a new message appeared on the poll page: “Check out the latest episode of DC Universe’s ‘Titans’ to see if your speculating was correct – did Jason Todd survive his fall?” (emphasis added).

In other word – you thought you were making a difference with your vote? Ha ha, you were just speculating about an already-determined outcome.

The original 1988 poll, which actually did determine the outcome (though the results were reportedly skewed by one reader making hundreds of calls).


Geworfenheit

Addendum to my recent mediæval-related posts:

In Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy, the chapter on Aristotle ends like this:

[A] few months after leaving Athens (322 B.C.) the lonely Aristotle died. In the same year, and at the same age, sixty-two, Demosthenes, greatest of Alexander’s enemies, drank poison. Within twelve months Greece had lost her greatest ruler, her greatest orator, and her greatest philosopher. The glory that had been Greece faded now in the dawn of the Roman sun; and the grandeur that was Rome was the pomp of power rather than the light of thought. Then that grandeur too decayed, that little light went almost out. For a thousand years darkness brooded over the face of Europe. All the world awaited the resurrection of philosophy.

And then the next chapter is on Francis Bacon.

When I teach either Hellenistic philosophy or mediæval philosophy, I sometimes read that passage to my students and then throw the book across the room. (Such violence toward books is not my usual wont, but it’s a cheap, sturdy paperback, and it does serve to wake them up.)


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