What We Have Learned From the 20th Century

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The List

  • Beware of metaphoric wars (e.g. War on Drugs, War on Poverty, Metaphorical War on Everything).
  • Don't get involved in a land war in Asia.
  • The power of the atom is infinitely more powerful than that of human conscience.
  • Free market leads to Libby, Montana and Bophal, India.
  • Labor must take some lumps from the Pinkertons to win the right to organize.
  • From space, our home looks like a tiny blue dot, inconsequential in the universe.
  • That of the billions of stars... some are actually galaxies with billions of stars within.
  • There is a universal desire and right for man to live freely and control one's own destiny.
  • Military might cannot defeat the collective desire of a nation to be free
  • Control of information = control of society
  • By Decade
    • That sausage is gross (1900s)
    • Poison gas is bad (1910s)
    • The stock market can crash (1920s)
    • The government has a duty to help the poor and elderly (1930s)
    • Women can do men's work (1940s)
    • Censorship sucks (1950s)
    • Even democratically elected governments lie (1960s)
    • Oil dependency is bad (1970s)
    • Greed is bad (1980s)
    • Sex scandals trump all(1990s)
  • Pure capitalism fails
  • Fascism fails.
  • Communism fails.
  • Everything is connected to everything else whether DDT in arctic birds or entangled subatomic particles half a universe apart
  • Everything is a lot more complicated and beautiful than we thought in 1900, whether an ecosystem, the workings of our own cells, or international relations.
  • Absolute certainty is impossible (Heisenberg).
  • Attention to details is critical (bulkheads in the Titanic, O-rings in the space shuttle, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, etc).
  • The universe is so vast and our whole world is so inconsequential, our clashing empires are like two dust mites fighting over a speck of dust.
  • The universe is not only stranger than we imagined, it is stranger than we can probably can imagine.
  • But that isn't an excuse to stop trying.
  • People everywhere have the same dreams and are haunted by the same demons
  • The ends don't justify the means


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