June 13, 2008

It's the End of the World As We Know It

ABC News asks:

Are we living in the last century of our civilization?

Well, that would depend on how we define civilization now, wouldn't it?. Since Lord Clark admitted that he couldn't define it, I'm not sure I can either. However, I am certain that civlization, as I understand it, is more likely to end if these neo-Luddites get their way than it is otherwise. But I digress.

So, what is civilization, and how useful is it to try and project it out one-hundred years? If you could go back in time and grab a half dozen people from 1908 and whisk them back to the present, how many of them would recognize America, or much of the world, as it is now, as the same civilization?

Here are just a few events and differences to think about from 1908:
- Pre-WWI geopolitics, lots of royalty, no communist states, the British Empire is peaking (though this is far from obvious at the time), the Congo Free State is annexed by Belgium.
- Artists in France begin to demonstrate their out of the box thinking via, ahem, Cubism.
- The First International Congress of Psychoanalysis is held in Salzburg.
- No Hollywood; no TV; no radio; Google and YouTube? Please.
- No X-Rays in the hospital emergency rooms, much less CAT Scans, MRIs, etc.; no antibiotics; perhaps 40,000,000 people were yet to die worldwide in the Influenza pandemic ten years later; no blood was yet stored for transfusions.
- Experiments in Vienna indicate that polio is infectious.
- The state of Georgia votes to abolish peonage the following year.
- The first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line; optimists believe automobiles will solve the pollution problem New York City has with horse manure; General Motors files papers of incorporation.
- The discovery of oil in Texas just eight years earlier had reduced the price of it down to $0.03 a barrel; in some boom towns water cost $0.05 a barrel. In another 30 years oil would be discovered in Saudi Arabia.
- Glenn H. Curtiss is awarded the Scientific American trophy for a public flight of over 1 km!
- Barney Oldfield establishes a new world record for a mile in 51.8 seconds.
- The 46th star (for Oklahoma) is added to the United States flag.
- The Games of the IV Olympiad in London featured 22 countries competing in 22 sports.
- The Hydrox cookie first appeared. [ed. note: Kellogg discontinued it in 2003.]
- If you were a white male, your life expectancy just hit 50 years. If you were a non-white male, you should expect to dead by age 34.
- No man had ever set foot on the North Pole or the South Pole.
- Veterans gathered to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. [ed. note: We are 64 years away from D-Day.]
- There are approximately 10,000,000 phones in the United States, or about one for every 10 people on average. [ed. note: Approximately 135,000,000 cell phones were thrown away last year.]
- A few folks born in 1908: Edward Teller, William Randolph Hearst, Jr., Milton Berle, Lyndon Johnson, Simon Wiesenthal, and Edward R. Murrow.
- The nuclear model of the atom had not yet been released by Ernest Ruthford or Niels Bohr.
- The Chicago Cubs won the World Series! [ed. note: Now there's a portent of the end times.]

But of course, it isn't technology, transhumanism, or radical Islamism that has ABC News' panties in a bunch, but ..., wait for it ..., anthropomorphic global warming and the usual "we're running out of everything" hysteria.

Sigh. But I feel fine.

Posted by Charles Austin at June 13, 2008 03:27 PM

Panties in a bunch indeed. How f!@#in' similar between then & now.

Posted by: Yours Truly at 03:38 PM