Will We Look Like That To The Future

Apr 22, 2012
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Hello to all of you,

This is the first time I have ever entered the "Gilded Age" forum. I don't have a question, but I have been pondering something lately, and I would like to hear all of your opinions on the subject.

As you read the biographies of the Titanic's crew members and passengers, about their lives and what they were caught up in at the time, do you ever stop and think that the time we are living in today will, in time, look to future generations as the age and time of the Titanic looks to us now?

I find that interesting, even if it sounds stupid. Who knows, perhaps far into the future there will be a group just like us studying the very time we're living in now. And we will seem extremely outdated and even sometimes strange to them.

Plus, who knows, maybe there will be another disaster/tragedy of even greater proportions than the loss of the Titanic, that will be studied in the future. And, some of us here tonight might just be a part of it. I get a chill when I think of my name, biography, and photographs being on a futuristic website for a tragedy, on whatever, if any, machine replaces a computer. It can get you thinking.

So, am I all alone here and a total idiot, or has anyone else ever thought about what it would be like for this to happen?

-B.W.
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Well, of course, our time will be studied, and we will seem quaint in many ways to those in the future. But as we have gained wisdom from the past, they will too glean whatever wisdom there is about our times, and will hopefully learn from our mistakes.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Brandon, this is far from a silly observation on your part. We look back at the turn of the twentieth century, and we laugh at how comical and stuffed shirt those living at the time appear to be. Yet, I have to wonder if we will look just as silly to those watching at us through the historical magnifying glass at the turn of the 22cnd century.

Political causes, "alternative cures" an obsession with all natural anything, diet fads, pet rocks, bungee jumping(A good way to get "Darwined" if you're just a little bit wrong)....plenty of room for humor from a future citizen's point of view!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Apr 22, 2012
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...Not to mention the Backstreet Boys!

Seriously, though, it certainly can get 'ya thinking. I mean, who knows what ordeals we'll see in this century that the future could be very interested in. This is not to mention, like you said, our fads and such. Glad I'm not the only one to ever think this!

-B.W.
 
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Kelly Beth Vogelsong

Guest
Another disaster/tragedy of greater proportions than the Titanic? 9/11 is already being pondered, studied, and re-lived over and over. Sometimes it doesn't have to be far into the future before people become obsessed. My sister already collects the books, shirts, ashtrays, etc. (in the hopes that every cent will go towards some form of recovery for the families)...and also, she says, because the whole situation WAS SO UNBELIEVABLE!!!

I can't believe it myself...the Titanic was an incident of arrogance and accident. Terrorism is a completely different thing to look back upon.

L8r~

KB
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
I can't believe it myself...the Titanic was an incident of arrogance and accident. Terrorism is a completely different thing to look back upon.
Actually, American arrogance does play a part in the terrorist attacks that have been plaguing us for the past 10 years or so. Do you notice it is not the African embassies of Canada or Denmark that are being bombed? Do you notice that it is not the barracks of Britain or Germany's armed forces that have been attacked in Lebanon? Do you wonder why that is? It's because we alone are perceived to be running, by our national policy, roughshod over the rest of the world. To the extent that we have supported, and are supporting, cruel governments around the world, we are hated by the people those governments exploit. We supported Batista in Cuba, and Fidel Castro was the result. We supported the Shah in Iran, and Ayatollah Khomeni was the result. We supported the right-wing death squads in Central America, and the Sandinistas were the result. Do you see a pattern emerging here? Do you see what is being carried out by the governments we support in the Middle East, and against whom?

Suppose I am driving down the street, and I inadvertently (or intentionally, for that matter) do something that upsets another driver. He waves a signal of his displeasure, and I reciprocate. He pulls out a gun and shoots me. Can I be completely absolved of any responsibility in my death? After all, if I hadn't flipped the guy off, he wouldn't have killed me. His was an act of savagery, but my attitude towards him was the catalyst. To say that I was instrumental in my own demise is not to "blame the victim." It is to acknowledge that the attack on me wasn't completely without provocation.

Is the terrorist situation parallel? I think so. The acts of violence we condone by our presence in the Middle East is the finger waved in the faces of the Arab loonies who regard C-4 as an instrument of national policy. The similarities to Titanic are breathtaking, for it is the arrogance and sense of invulnerability of our government that puts at risk the "passengers," ordinary citizens like you and me. What happened to our favorite ship 90 years ago has taught nothing.
 
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Kelly Beth Vogelsong

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Wow...um, ok. The only thing I was trying to point out was that hitting an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic (even after getting iceberg warnings) is by no means premeditated. They were going too fast because (in some ways) they were too cocky. They didn't intend to kill all those people on board.

The incident on 9/11 was premeditated in a most drastic sense. And from what I've read and seen (especially on the past bombing of the WTC), it is not American arrogance which causes these acts, it's American stupidity (as far as our government is concerned, that is). Pardon me for saying and quote me on this one also, if you like, but there have been quite a few cases in which the American government saw these acts and took no measures against them happening again.

Except for the fact that in both cases, innocent people lost their lives, I see few similarities worth mentioning. I still believe that terrorism and accident (9/11 and Titanic) are not on the same scale. The Titanic taught us a great deal about shipbuilding and sea travels and both incidents forced people into the same sense of grievance (thus they banded together). Anything else is questionable...but that's a start.
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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As an aside, it amazing at how quickly the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and in Pennsylvania acquired its own shorthand buzzword term of "9/11". So far as I'm concerned "911" is the number I call to get a police dispatcher.....
 
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Kelly Beth Vogelsong

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I never referred to 9-1-1 as 9/11, or the other way around. Two totally different ways of wording. I think they use it as such because some people, not necessarily forget, but automatically think of WTC and not the entire event when they speak of it. I live in Pennsylvania and I know people who live right by where that plane crashed. Assuming you believe what actually happened on that plane, in that there was a separate target meant to kill hundreds more people but that the passengers stopped it, it's heartbreaking.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Actually, American arrogance does play a part in the terrorist attacks that have been plaguing us for the past 10 years or so. <<

Or it makes a very handy strawman to whip up the masses into a frenzy. Now understand that I am not condoning any shortsightedness on the part of U.S. policy, the policies of any other nation state, or it's consequences to those on the recieving end. They are certainly fair game for debate and reform. However, those are seperate issues, and Ossama Bin Laden and company could care less about any of this.

He's not interested in the wealth of the United States or any other western nation. Not with hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money in the bank.

Nor is he interested in our ideas on "social justice". (Whatever the hell that is! Opinions seem to vary.)

His "crusade" is entirely religious in nature that being his taking offence at "infidels" in what he views to be the Holy land. To lose sight of that is to make the mistake of assuming he thinks as we do and has the same concerns and interests that we do. I've seen no evidence whatsoever to support that notion, but if we fall for it, we make one of the biggest mistakes in warfare that one can make. These people are not like us and don't even remotely share the same values.

Ossama Bin Laden is not interested in peace, freedom and justice in the sense that we understand or any other things that we seem to hold dear in the Western world. And considering that he and the Taliban which supported and sheltered him think of public executions in the soccer stadium is wholesome family entertainment, they hardly have grounds to take offence at anyone elses foibles.

In other words, they would do well to get the log out of their own eyes befor they worry about the beam in ours.

In light of that, I have a hard time trying to compare the 9-11 outrage to the Titanic. The Titanic was a nasty accident. 9-11 was a deliberate act of war being waged by a man whose idea of utopia is a Medieval theocracy.

And now having dabbled in politics for the day, I now step off the soapbox and go to wash my hands.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
The Titanic disaster and the World Trade Center tragedy were both caused by equal measures of folly, complacency, arrogance, and human frailty.

So are most catastrophes, of every scale, including two World Wars that deprived posterity of two generations of young men, and the world calamity that is brewing in Iraq.

The events of 9/11 did not happen in a vacuum.
 
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fred pelka

Guest
"Folly, complacency, arrogance, and human frailty."

These are, sadly, constants in history, and I doubt any society at any time has ever been immune to them. That said, I think our own era may well be remembered as one in which all were in more than usual abundance. Tom has pointed out some instances where American foreign policy was, at the very least, extremely short sighted. I would add to that list the current invasion/occupation of Iraq. It has to be said that part of the problem we're having now is that our government seems to have greatly underestimated the difficulties we would face as an occupying power in the Middle East. This comes at least in part, I think, from our American "exceptionalism" which is another word for "arrogance." We Americans really do believe that somehow we are smarter, better, wiser, than anyone else. How else to explain our blithe assumption that while British, French, Turkish, and Israeli occupations in that region of the world have been marked by violence, anger, grief and atrocity, that somehow ours would be different? Every occupier believes that its occupation is for the good of those occupied, and most every occupation is also marked by resentment often leading to violence. Gandhi once said something to the effect that most people prefer their own bad government to a good government imposed by someone else. And considering the fact that we can't even run our own elections, provide health care to our own people, or keep our own power grid up and running, there does seem to be a certain arrogance in believing we can somehow do all these things for a people half a world away.

Another example of twenty-first century shortsightedness and arrogance that no one has touched on yet is our continuing destruction of the environment. Surely, future generations will look at us and wonder whatever possessed us to think we could endlessly ravage the very planet we live on without consequence to ourselves and our descendants. What sort of foolishness is it that has us willing to spend a billion dollars a week trying to impose "order" on another country, and hundreds of billions a year on luxury and entertainment, but at the same time has us believing that saving what's left of the environment and instituting relatively simple measures of conservation would "cost too much?"

So I'm afraid that future historians, if there are any, will have plenty of material about our own era to file under the headings "arrogance," "foolishness," "selfishness," and "out and out delusional." To me, this means we should be very careful in making arrogant judgments about the past and the flawed mortals who inhabited it, just as we should try to be honest (but compassionate) with ourselves and each other.

Thanks again for this wonderful soapbox. It's always a pleasure to check in and see what folks are saying.

Fred
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
Tom Pappas is on the right track.

Although 9/11 was deliberate, its scale and stage were set by same thinking which created TITANIC.

Lest anyone forget, the skyscraper and airplane were innovations of the Gilded Age as well.

"We can now erect buildings higher than 13 stories. How big can they go???"

"Flight is now a possibility. Someday, great airships will serve the same purpose that our great luxury liners do."

Thus, the overall thinking throughout the 20th century was "if we can we make 'em even bigger, we can accommodate more people - and display our superior technological intellect."

The fact of the matter is: should massive man-made creations come into being???

Is it really in humanity's best interest to put so many human lives at the mercy of what seems a marvel of technological innovation?

A severe fire on floor higher than the 10th floor will defeat most fire companies. Anything above the 20th is out of anyone's control.

Large airplanes with their necessary fuel loads are essentially flying bombs. (Amazing that it took a third-world org to figure this out!)

The Trade towers were like the Titanic, the jets which flew into them were their icebergs.

Eerie parallels here: land vs. sea, fire vs. ice, night vs. day.

Total lives lost at the WTC: just under 3,000 - which breaks down to almost 1,500 per building.

Titanic's official final count was 1,507.

Hmmm...
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The fact of the matter is: should massive man-made creations come into being???<<

Yes. These things serve our needs, desires, aspirations and goals. Just because bad things can happen or be done with them is no reason to give up.

>>Is it really in humanity's best interest to put so many human lives at the mercy of what seems a marvel of technological innovation? <<

As opposed to what? Crawling back into the jungle and climb back into the trees our distant ancestors came from? Being subject to the whims of rival human tribes, predetors, rampent uncontrolled disease, famine, drought, etc?

Bob, with all due respect, the rationale your employing seems to be "We should stop doing these things because bad things can happen or be done with it." The problem with that sort of thinking is that bad things can happen if we do none of those things anyway. Nothing is served by quitting or "going back" simply because technology and ideas can be abused.

Life happens no matter what...good times, bad times and all.
 
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fred pelka

Guest
I don't think, Michael, that one needs to advocate going back to the Stone Age to ask whether our obsession with bigger, faster, flashier is always for the best. The Concorde might be an example here. It was decided by whoever decides these things (engineers, corporate planners, etc.) that there was a market for a jet that could fly faster than the speed of sound, for people who evidently needed to get from one side of the ocean to the other in two or three hours rather than five or six. Personally, I don't know anybody whose time is THAT valuable, but there you are. So a plane was designed, built, and flown which a) had some fairly serious technical problems and b) didn't fill much of a need anyway. It might, given the financial and human cost, have been better if folks had thought through some of the problems a bit more thoroughly, before rushing ahead with this technology simply because they thought they could.

The broader question that Bob raises for me is: are technical advances always for the best, by definition? Are we, for instance, better off as a society, and better off individually, because some of our cars can hit 130 MPH, instead of only 110 or even 75? If we had stopped at 75, might there be fewer traffic fatalities? And are the benefits we derive from some of us being able to hit 110, instead of 75, worth the cost?

I think it was Camus who coined the phrase "the cult of efficiency." I wonder if we aren't indulging in a "cult of progress" that took root in the Gilded Age (if not earlier). And like all cults, I wonder if this doesn't sometimes make us put our brains on hold, pushing ahead out of fervor (and arrogance), rather than acting in our own better interests.

Totally irrelevant thought: if you haven't taken time yet to see Mars through a telescope somewhere, do it soon. It's really a spectacular and awesome sight.

Fred
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Actually, the Concord was as much a product of Cold War politics as anything else, but technical problems aside, the aircraft has a pretty good safety record. Throughout a service career spanning over 30 years, it only has one crash, and the cause of this was debris it encountered which had fallen off a different aircraft. Classic foreign object damage, and this has killed other planes befor.

How many other aircraft can claim a similar record?

>>Personally, I don't know anybody whose time is THAT valuable, but there you are. <<

The passengers willing to book a seat clearly thought otherwise. I don't think it's your place or mine to tell them they're wrong. We don't know them or why they belived this. It's enough that they did.

>>I don't think, Michael, that one needs to advocate going back to the Stone Age to ask whether our obsession with bigger, faster, flashier is always for the best. <<

Some do, and in that vein, what pray tell is ever accomplished by looking back to the "Good Old Days" which overall weren't that great to begin with? The future lies with the people with the courage to solve the problems and take the risks that go with the game. Always has, always will. It's never been with the people who quit whenever we get a bloody nose and never will be.

By all means, ask the tough questions and get the answers, but always strive to make things better.

>>It might, given the financial and human cost, have been better if folks had thought through some of the problems a bit more thoroughly, before rushing ahead with this technology simply because they thought they could.<<

Rushing ahead with what?

The roots of the Concord can be traced back to the late 1940's when the idea was first mooted and it wasn't until 1961 that SUD revealed it's proposal at the Paris Air Show. From there, it was 8 long years of research, testing, evaluation, and development befor the first flight took place on 2 March 1969. The first revenue flight didn't take place for a few more years.

Where's the rush?
 
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fred pelka

Guest
I stand corrected on the Concord, in terms of its safety record, though I don't know that eight years of research is really that long a time before marketing a cutting edge technology to the general public. Are there plans to reinstate the service, do you know? And if not, are American or Japanese airlines going to fill the gap?

Whatever the case, there are plenty of other examples I could have cited. For instance: Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM). It's been a few years since I researched the topic, but the last I heard quite a few observers of the technology believed that it was rushed into use before it was ready, resulting in far too many "false positives" (the machine telling doctors that something was wrong when it wasn't) which in turn resulted in an upsurge of probably unnecessary cesareans. In this case, the new technology, designed to improve the health of women in child birth, may actually have led to more health problems -- in the form of post-op infections, difficulties with anesthesia, etc. -- than it cured. So here we may well have a case where waiting a couple of years might have been the better choice. Similarly, I think we all can agree that the marketing of thalidomide in the early '60s (late '50s?) was a tragic instance of rushing ahead before all the risks were fully understood.

Still, I wouldn't feel comfortable saying that pure research, conducted in an ethical and serious way, should ever be discouraged. Generally speaking it's better to know than not to know. It's what we do with what we know (or think we know) that is at the heart of the question here, and whether or not, as Bob seems to be saying, our own hubris doesn't sometimes lead us into some pretty horrific mistakes.

Fred
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
>>The fact of the matter is: should massive man-made creations come into being???<<

>Yes. These things serve our needs, desires, aspirations and goals. Just because bad things can happen or be done with them is no reason to give up. <

Well - people got along fine without the internet 20 years ago. Now what? We have a massive network of connectivity - one which leaves its users open to identity theft, child abusers, elaborate ripoffs and psychopaths who are obsessed with shutting down that network for the mere challenge of it.

The latest innovative fad is "flash mobs": people connect on the internet and agree to meet at a specified time and place and do a wild stunt. As such, it's only a matter of time before people start gathering to accomplish something not-so-harmless. This is progress?

>>Is it really in humanity's best interest to put so many human lives at the mercy of what seems a marvel of technological innovation? <<

>As opposed to what? Crawling back into the jungle and climb back into the trees our distant ancestors came from? Being subject to the whims of rival human tribes, predetors, rampent uncontrolled disease, famine, drought, etc?<

Well, thanks to technology, vast population explosions have taken place in areas formerly not so human-friendly. Sounds great, but then, subsequent sudden environmental and economic downturns have resulted in "rampent uncontrolled disease, famine, drought, etc.". The accompanying human losses far outweigh those which would have occurred in the absence of technology (look at Africa and Iraq).

Disease is another real concern.

Yeah - we can travel from one end of the globe to the other. But did anyone ever stop to think how that changes the spread of disease and foreign microbes. Look what happened with AIDS and SARS.

And just look at all the pollution which has resulted from the Age of Technology.

Finally, consider that automobile accidents claim more lives each day than anything else.

Great - technology has saved us from the plagues of the past, only to deliver us to another, more efficient manner of death.

One is forced to ask: "Might ignorance be bliss?"
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Are there plans to reinstate the service, do you know? And if not, are American or Japanese airlines going to fill the gap? <<

Not at Present though Mr. Branson of Virgin Atlantic is trying to get some of the airframes. Somehow, I doubt he'll succeed, but I wish him the best if he does.

>>though I don't know that eight years of research is really that long a time before marketing a cutting edge technology to the general public.<<

This was actually a rather protracted gestation period for the time. Remember that the 8 years was from the Time SUD displayed their model and proposal at the 1961 Paris Air Show to the time of the first flight of a prototype. It's actual entry into airline revenue service didn't happen until 1976. That's a 15 year gestation.

>>It's what we do with what we know (or think we know) that is at the heart of the question here, and whether or not, as Bob seems to be saying, our own hubris doesn't sometimes lead us into some pretty horrific mistakes. <<

Exactly. Technology is nuetral. It's what people decide to do with it that causes the problems. Nuclear fission can be used to satisfy an entire regions electrical needs for a decade between reactor re-corings or turn a city into a glassed over smoking hole in 5 microseconds...all depending on the whim of the people who push the buttons.

>>Well - people got along fine without the internet 20 years ago. Now what? We have a massive network of connectivity - one which leaves its users open to identity theft, child abusers, elaborate ripoffs and psychopaths who are obsessed with shutting down that network for the mere challenge of it. <<

Okay...so what's really changed? Bob, the scams your talking about have always been around in one fashion or another. The internet is just a new venue whereby the players can try to pull off more of the same old thing. Overall, I think the internet is a major plus in a lot of respects. It's awesome power as a research tool is exemplified on this forum every day where ideas, theories, and research on the very cutting edge is exchanged and discussed every day.

>>The latest innovative fad is "flash mobs": people connect on the internet and agree to meet at a specified time and place and do a wild stunt. As such, it's only a matter of time before people start gathering to accomplish something not-so-harmless. This is progress? <<

So people never agreed to meet and do stupid things befor? Befor the internet, it was telephones and CB radios. Befor that, it was collage frat parties or lynch mobs. People have never wanted for ways to do the stupid and the dangerous.

>>Well, thanks to technology, vast population explosions have taken place in areas formerly not so human-friendly. Sounds great, but then, subsequent sudden environmental and economic downturns have resulted in "rampent uncontrolled disease, famine, drought, etc.". The accompanying human losses far outweigh those which would have occurred in the absence of technology (look at Africa and Iraq). <<

Look at what? Technology isn't all that much in evidence in Africa and most all of the problems there have been political, not technical. Were people in a position to use the technology, I have no doubt that major portions of Africa could well be a breadbasket rather then a dusbowl of civil and racial/tribal strife bogged down in superstition.

Much the same applies to Iraq. Cultural discord, tribal rivialries, etc are the problem. Not the tools.

>>Disease is another real concern.

Yeah - we can travel from one end of the globe to the other. But did anyone ever stop to think how that changes the spread of disease and foreign microbes. Look what happened with AIDS and SARS. <<

Yes it is...but what's really going on? It's not lost on me that the AIDS problem is at it's worst in the nations/regions that aren't all that technically advanced. In the nations that are, it's at least controllable and controlled. Befor AIDS however, it was syphillis and it was uncurable as well up until the last century and it didn't need technology to spread. All it needed was laddies and lassies who were a little too eager to "get it on."

As for SARS, most of that was media hype. That's not to say it wasn't a concern, but the media played it up to make it look much worse then it actually was. Neither SARS nor even AIDS is even closeto being in the same ballpark as the Black Death which several hundred years ago wiped out nearly a quarter of Europe's population.

>>And just look at all the pollution which has resulted from the Age of Technology. <<

And look at how the same technology developed further has cleaned a lot of it up. The cities today may not be the brightest spots on the planet, but they're sparkling clean compared to the coal dust mired air and the sewage and waste clogged rivers and lakes of a century or even forty years ago.

>>Finally, consider that automobile accidents claim more lives each day than anything else.<<

As opposed to what? Wars, famine, shipwrecks, other types of accidents.

>>Great - technology has saved us from the plagues of the past, only to deliver us to another, more efficient manner of death.<<

And even more efficient cures and solutions.

>>One is forced to ask: "Might ignorance be bliss?"<<

No I'm not.

Unless one thinks that it might be better to go back to the trees and take our chances with plagues, drought, famine, and Leo the hungry lion. If that's your idea of paradise, you're welcome to it. I'll pass.