Thursday, November 29, 2012

American History & Elections

Although I scored an A- in my American history college class, I hardly remember everything from it. There is a certain etchaschetchyness to my brain that has let so much of my college education vanish into the shaken sands that is my memory. Unfortunately my student loans do not do the same.  However, as history classes throughout my life repeat themselves I remember the more famous bits of history thanks to that repetition. One thing in particular that seemed to repeat each time was the Lincoln Douglas debates. As much as I enjoyed watching all of the debates this election year, I so wish I could have witnessed those 7 debates. According to the famous historian wikipedia, "The format for each debate was: one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute 'rejoinder.' " I can't imagine talking for a solid 90 minutes. I could barely speak for 60 about Star Trek, with 5 different youtube clips to break it up.

I suggest you check out the wikipedia page:–Douglas_debates
the thing that struck my interest was how the different news papers spun their bias by editing out errors for their perspective guy. It's not like it could be broadcast live. Even if it could we still have that pesky thing called editing. One thing you could do, in this case, was just buy both newspapers and you would have both unedited versions of the debates. Unfortunately watching Fox News and then flipping over to MSNBC does not yield two halves of the unadulterated truth. I admit, technology today has its perks, you can watch all the debates in their relatively unadulterated forms, but when it comes to the rest of the electoral process, much of what we see is pageantry, pandering, and another clever p word I'll think of later.

I received an email from one of the Joshes about how the electoral process has become like a great big video game, much like my Halo and Red vs Blue analogy! I think this video encapsulates the point I was trying to make but with much more evidence and clever editing... a fair and balanced kind of editing.

Thanks Josh! I don't feel like I know the truth of either of these people, we get biased soundbites and snippets of their past. I guess it would be impossible to really see an unbiased complete history of these men, as it would be more impossible to see an unbiased complete history of the world.

It would be awesome to have the time and resources to see how the history of the world really played out. That is what I hope will take up the first 10,000 years of the afterlife, a 10,000 year long Ken Burns style documentary including all the free heavenly popcorn you can eat. I guess even Ken Burns documentaries have some bias to them, but you get the point. I do have a lot of respect for historians, archeologists, sociologists, and all the other pros who are dedicating their life work to uncover history.  

Much of history was written by the people who have had the most power throughout all the ages who have had the resources to change and manipulate history as they saw fit. Maybe this is why I like wikipedia so much, it sort of levels the historian playing field in a way. As technology improves, and we have more people documenting life, the quality of history will improv, or maybe everyone will just get really good at editing and we'll have 7 billion different versions of history for our future generations to sort through.

One semi unrelated thing I wanted to point out was that sometimes I say things that I think are coming off as sarcastic, but I forget to tell my voice to over exaggeration, and as a consequence there may be many of you who think I really do base my vote on how my dad votes, that is only 95% true. And pulling off 5% sarcasm takes an incredible subtlety that I've not yet mastered, but I'm working on it. My dad and I do disagree on about 5% of political issues. So thanksgivings are relatively nice.  I hope yours was too. I think the reason for this is mostly based on proximity of perspective. We have had similar world views, but there is a large generation gap, I went to a more liberal college than he did. As I get older my view of things differ  more and more from the generation before me. It intrigues me to think how the people 20 generations back saw the world. Most generation gaps through history haven't  been effected as much by technological growth as in recent history. The way our future generations will see the world is going to be mind blowingly different than how we see things today. I'm jealous.


  1. Can I have a penny? :-)

    1. Actually the answer I was looking for was

      but the next time you find a lucky penny, it was from me.

  2. Pretension? Pomposity? Pseudoscience? Great post, Aaron.

    1. Thanks Nick, all those p words would have fit in perfectly.