Night on Earth. © NASA.
What is the spirit of our times? What does it mean to live through the turn of a Millennium?
How are the Technological and Information Revolutions redefining global economies and societies, as well as our understanding of life and history, space and time?
Why has politics become so divided and ineffective? Why are religions and empires enjoying a resurgence? How are generation wars playing out in the public eye? How is popular culture reshaping seemingly eternal concepts of right and wrong, heroism and villainy? Where do science and culture merge?
For the origin of the title of this blog, see this post on Sir Isaac Newton. For a retrospective on the main intention behind this blog, see this post on the blog's fifth birthday. This blog is an experiment in writing real-time history, which deals with the impact of digital communications on our understanding of history. There are serious problems emerging in social media, in which opinions are confused with facts, data and sources are available but potentially manipulated, and historical interpretive authority derives from hit counts and technical algorithms determining audience traffic. These problems demand an ongoing and increasingly rigorous reappraisal of historical method and historiography, to take into account the impacts of online behaviour and virtual perception.
This is an apolitical or post-political blog which sometimes deals with political subjects from different parts of the spectrum, but only to understand the underlying cultural and historical phenomena from which these various debates originate.
I do not necessarily agree with any opinions expressed on externally-linked sites; nor do I necessarily agree with commenters who have left remarks under my posts.
About this blog's perspective: I have an academic background in history, which ideally allows neutral discussion of almost any topic (a point many historians have forgotten). Themes I discuss are not aimed personally at anyone or anything. In addition, when I list evidence for an argument or describe others' opinions, I am not necessarily stating my personal opinion about that topic.
This blog presents a history of the new Millennium, from as many different points of view in as disinterested a manner as possible, including some pretty strange material. I do that to say, 'this is evidence of life at the turn of the Millennium; this is what is out there right now; this is what people are thinking and saying.' Occasionally, I post outlandish items from the Internet to demonstrate the gullibility and counter-factuality of the popular Millennial mentality, without always flagging the posts as being unbelievable. This evidence of popular talking points without incessant caveats does not mean that I believe in wild science, conspiracy theories or UFOs. The point to this blog is not to claim that these ideas are true or false, but to collect them here as examples of Millennial cultural history during the Communications Revolution. Whether these oddities actually are real or not is not my primary concern. However, whether people think these oddities are real or not is a focus of this blog.
My depiction of, or discussion on, any consumer product - or related link from this blog to an external Website with a consumer product - in no way indicates my endorsement of it.
Under Fair Use guidelines, I have made limited reference to copyrighted materials for the sole purpose of discussion and review (this site's copyright statement). Wherever possible, I respectfully cite my source and/or the copyright holder. I do not include advertising on this site to abide by Fair Use principles in regard to the limited non-commercial inclusion here of copyrighted matter. Please write to me if you are a copyright owner of any material reproduced here, and you wish to have that material removed.
The image used in the main blog masthead is a section of a painting from 1975-1976 by Donald Davis of a Stanford Torus. The image source is Wikipedia. The painting was a piece Davis did for NASA that has been released into the public domain. Davis commented on this painting as follows: "The 1975 NASA Ames/Stanford University Summer Study worked out the broad engineering requirements for a toroidal shaped space colony design. This painting used the design, but I refused to fill the interior with the 'shopping mall gone mad' clutter of other drawings. Again the challenge of sustaining something like a closed ecosystem was a theme I wanted to emphasize. This design became known as the 'Stanford Torus'. Oil on board for NASA Ames." For more space colonies imagined in the 1970s, go here.
On dead links and dead videos: the Web is an ephemeral place. For the most part, I do not clean up dead links and videos constantly in back posts, due to time constraints and as testament to the nature of this medium. If you see a dead link and want it updated, please send me a message.
Quotations and Inspirations
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
― J. Robert Oppenheimer (On the Trinity Test, detonation of the first atomic bomb, 16 July 1945; his comment was made as he looked back on the event, in a television interview in 1965) (Source).
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
— Philip K. Dick, How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later (1978).
"Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made."
— Franz Kafka (Hat tip: Weimar).
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."
— Stephen Hawking (Source).
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
— William Shakespeare (Hamlet: Act 1, Scene v).
"What we do not make conscious emerges later as fate."
— Carl Jung (Source).
The Social Sins: wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice; politics without principle; rights without responsibilities.
— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Young India, 22 October 1925) and Arun Gandhi (Wiki).
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).
"All the quality of that evening, and all the evenings like it that never came, have remained with me in all their splendour ever since, each memory chasing the next, merging with the next in an endless dreamy chase for lost sensation."
— Sebastian Horsley, Dandy in the Underworld (2007).
"Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible."
— Mao Tse-Tung, after selling 1 billion copies of his poems (Hat tip: Eyeshot; one report states that Mao sold over 6 billion copies of his quotations and half a billion copies of his poems).
"For me, a degree of ambiguity, or mystery, is the key ingredient of any artistic statement."
— Peter Chung.
— Karl Lagerfeld (attributed; Hat tip: Rob Brezsny).
"Listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go."
— E. E. Cummings.