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August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
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Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The Planet of the Dead

Loved last night’s Long Now lecture — actually a debate between Niall Ferguson and Peter Schwartz. It was historian vs. futurist, conservative vs. liberal, pessimist vs. optimist. Unfortunately it was also incredibly great speaker vs. merely good speaker as well, so I feel the futurist/optimists didn’t quite get their fair shake… but so be it.

My favorite phrase, and image, from the entire evening was this one. Niall Ferguson countered the claim that the past is a foreign country, saying: No, it’s a foreign planet… a planet of the dead… and its population far outnumbers our own.

And historians try to understand that strange place. Ferguson said, with no little glee: “I prefer the company of the dead to the company of the living. And it’s a good thing, because I spend most of my time with them.”

The counterfactual anthology Virtual History, edited by Ferguson, is great. I haven’t read any of his solo books yet, though.

April 29, 2008 / Uncategorized

One comment

Man, the diction on this entry is weird. “With no little glee?” Did I actually write this?

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