Ordinary World for 1 Nov 2018


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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13 Responses

  1. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    Hi6: I am probably about the same age as Horvitz; I remember the Jonestown massacre as the very first “big scary” news story my parents weren’t able to insulate me from. We were at my paternal grandmother’s for Thanksgiving, one of the other relatives was watching it on the news. I remember my brother – who is five years my junior – asking my dad “Is God going to ‘take’ us?” (apparently some claim was made that God had “taken” the people at Jonestown). I remember my dad being angry with….maybe it was one of my uncles? For exposing us to that.

    I guess I would have been nine, if it was 1978. It was the beginning of an intimation that the world wasn’t a safe place, which has only been reinforced since then. Maybe that’s the point where my innocence started to die, I don’t know.

    I still reflexively cringe when someone uses the “drink the Kool-Aid” metaphor because I remember that news photo of all the bodies splayed out in the hot sun. It’s not a metaphor I like or will use.

    We lived in the Midwest so I don’t remember the Harvey Milk story, didn’t learn about it until some years later in high school civics or history.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


    I have a minor obsession with colorized photos. It’s another example of making history more accessible for people. My most powerful experiences have always been with physical objects from the past, but these photos really transport you to that moment.

    One of my favorite old photos is this one. I love the juxtaposition between these enormous, modern buildings and people using horses for transportation. It’s probably why that period fascinates me so much. I keep hoping someone will colorize it, but yikes what a lot of detail to cover.

    Also, they actually had color cameras during WWI, though they were not common. I have spent many hours staring at these photos.Report

    • I love them. It’s a thing for me too. Amaral work that is referenced in the piece is one of my favorite Twitter follows.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I got hooked on Denver pictures when I was working for the Colorado legislature. Tucked away here and there in the Capitol and the legislative services building are a number of pictures from 1900-1910 blown up to large size. This is one of my favorites because of all the transportation modes — horses, cars, bicycles, a pushcart, and electric trolleys.

      Another thing that jumps out in pictures of groups of people is that everyone is skinny. To the point that, compared to modern pictures, their heads look too large for their bodies. The one exception is a picture of the floor of the state senate in session — lots of overweight white male senators.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Love that picture. I always marvel at everyone wearing coats, regardless of temp.

        I read an article recently that said that while the average male physic has gotten ’rounder’ in the last 100 years, men have also gotten stronger. Extra weight still creates extra muscle. Also, you will notice the average male chest today is more broad. I think 100 years ago you mostly had people with a climber’s physique. I could beat them in an arm wrestling match, but proportionally they are much stronger. And thanks to medicine, we can all eat like crap and still live into our 80s.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          I always marvel at everyone wearing coats, regardless of temp.

          The official rules for the Colorado legislature require that members and staff on the chamber floors must wear a coat. The Capitol is not air conditioned, and the windows in the chambers don’t open. Unseasonably warm stretches in April and May before the session ends can be… unpleasant. Sometimes the person in charge will relax the coat rule for members, but can’t do so for the staff. I was surprised by how quickly I got used to it, though.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon says:

      Wow – I did not know about the WWI color photo site. Thanks for that link!Report

  3. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Hi1: I like the overall gist of this piece but the title is kind of misleading as to what it’s really about. I think it’s really too easy for everyone to write off our ancestors as monsters rather than wrestling with the truth that people’s culture and surroundings shapes them and that we’re really no better, simply luckier to have been born in a time and place in which most philosophies are better and wiser and less violent than those of the past.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon says:

      I think you’re right that the title buried the article’s point: that human culture has been evolving in terms of what we view as moral/immoral and especially that we have begun to apply standards more generally (e.g., giving the same presumption of human rights and dignity to women, other races, ethnicities, and social classes).

      I have no illusions about my own capacity for evil.

      The article is also interesting juxtaposed with [TT1]. I admit I find hang-wringing over PC language tiresome since back in my youth what’s called ‘political correctness’ was known as ‘common decency’, but the need for some social rules/restraint to limit our worst impulses strikes me as part of shaping us into being less ‘monstrous’.Report

      • Avatar atomickristin says:

        See, I take the human capacity for evil as a warning against political correctness because common decency in public turns into policing others’ behavior in private, all too easily. I prefer “live and let live” over “common decency” simply due to the slippery slope concept.Report

  4. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Hi1: the 20th Century was far and away the most violent and horrific in human history.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Related, colleges are making a push for students to go into the arts and humanities:


    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Macalester’s tactic has been to try to inject some humanities into STEM classes and some practical career training into the humanities. Last year, Rosenberg, the school’s president, brought the faculty together at a retreat to discuss the shifting balance of majors. One outcome was that faculty members were encouraged to pair together courses across academic disciplines so that, for example, a new class in social media might be a blend of computer science and philosophy. Professors in the humanities were also encouraged to give their students more career guidance than in the past, when many humanities students simply went to graduate school or law school after college.

      “The typical English major is designed to get students to go to graduate school,” Rosenberg says. “We need to rethink the curriculum so that it’s more focused on what employers will immediately find attractive.”

      Well good, they might actually find a way for the humanities to survive.Report