Friday, November 6, 2009

Rearview Mirror

I hated studying history in high school. It was too tedious and too time-consuming, relative to the number of hours I felt I needed to teach myself the King Diamond discography on the drums. (Damn you and your infernal triplet fills, Mikkey Dee!) In college, taking a number of constitutional law classes forced me to warm up a bit to history class, though full disclosure dictates that I mention it was actually my instructor who was the unrequited target of my warmth. No small task, that. Try working Neville Chamberlain into your game and see how well it goes. After my formal education years had been wasted, I found I rather liked history on a purely recreational level. In fact, The History Channel is easily one of my top three go-to channels when I just want to plop on the couch, eat a bag of Swiss cheese slices, and paint my third eye black. I'm currently reading Paris 1919, Margaret MacMillan's dense blueprint of how the leaders of the "Big Three" (U.S., France, Britain) met in Paris in hopes of ending World War I. Sexy stuff, I know. But comparing the glacial pace of travel and communication in the early 20th century to that of today, it's strange to realize: there will come a time in the next century when this current period of digital largesse will be regarded as being similarly slow. As Paris 1919 details a time when automobiles were in their infancy, dirigibles were still viable transportation, and steamships carried world leaders across the ocean, so future generations will regard our Twitter, Facebook, TiVo, and YouTube obsessions as quaint technologies of a bygone era. Of course, by then, we'll all be enslaved to The Matrix anyway. Swiss cheese for everyone!

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