Does anyone really know what time it is? November 10, 2007 5:28 PM   Subscribe

If you don't know what century you're in maybe this isn't a question you should try to answer.
posted by timeistight to Etiquette/Policy at 5:28 PM (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I've been really hoping the OP shows up in that thread to clarfiy what he was talking about, but it's a weird vague question that seems to be encouraging similar answers. That said, I agree with you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:30 PM on November 10, 2007


I wish you had pointed that out to me before I signed an online petition to impeach Teddy Roosevelt.
posted by wendell at 5:36 PM on November 10, 2007 [13 favorites]


You mean a telegraph petition.
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


The OP is clearly Benjamin Franklin in his time machine. Just answer the damn question, dudeman has serious business to attend to here!
posted by SassHat at 5:38 PM on November 10, 2007


Sometimes I start to delete something but get caught up on the deletion reason. "This has a provocative, loaded premise but no context or detail" is pretty much what I had in mind, but I'm right there with jessamyn at this point—and I saw this thread get posted while I was deliberating.

It'd be great if the OP could in fact follow up a little. I'm not sure the question as presented should stick around, but I'm not sure it shouldn't, either. But as presented, it may just attract a lot of trouble.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:41 PM on November 10, 2007


Centuryist.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 PM on November 10, 2007


20th Century Fox did start out with promise, but after they signed Shirley Temple it was all downhill.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2007


The question is stupid and should be deleted.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:51 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


The OP is clearly Benjamin Franklin in his time machine.

"Am I the only one tired of this Ben Franklin motherfucker?"
posted by deern the headlice at 5:52 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


It'd be great if the OP could in fact follow up a little. I'm not sure the question as presented should stick around, but I'm not sure it shouldn't, either. But as presented, it may just attract a lot of trouble.

Hark! Trouble is heading our way in that buggy!
posted by phaedon at 5:52 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank ye, thank ye! I'll be here all year.
posted by phaedon at 5:55 PM on November 10, 2007


On second look, I think the gowrong tag has huge potential around here.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2007


It's a poorly phrased question, that's for sure. Trying to answer his initial question is pure chatfilter and, if that's all the thread is going to be, then it should be deleted.

That being said, asking about where to find sources about the theory that the 20th century had a downfall is a perfectly valid AskMe, though most of the answers have nothing to do with that.

In short, the OP pretty much sabotaged that one from the get-go.
posted by dhammond at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


You mean a telegraph petition.

No, I don't. You are apparently more confused about what century it is than the OP. But good news: tonight VH1 has a new episode of "I Love the Gay 90's".
posted by wendell at 5:59 PM on November 10, 2007


And if FOX is going to keep it "20th Century", then who are we to fight it?
posted by wendell at 6:01 PM on November 10, 2007


The OP is not confused, the first responder was. (As are all the people who think the 20th century was peachy keen because we all got computers.)
posted by languagehat at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2007


The 20th Century actually ended pretty good for me personally, since I joined MetaFilter "sometime in 1999". And in 2004, I did get paid to write an article titled "It's Too Early to Love the 90s", which summed up my feelings very well.

But still, based on the wording of the original post, it's really a tossup whether the Asker was really asking about the recent 20th or the current 21st. And why the heck doesn't anybody talk about the 19th Century anymore????
posted by wendell at 6:23 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Flawed premise, question-begger, chatfilter and apparently an excuse for some to ride out on their hobbyhorses.

Did I miss anything?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:28 PM on November 10, 2007


Hey, this thread ended wendell.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:29 PM on November 10, 2007


Kids these days --- don't even know what century we're in!

Now get off my fucking pasture lawn 'paved-over Paradise parking lot!'
posted by ericb at 6:30 PM on November 10, 2007


Yeah, on the balance, nixed. If exphysicist345 wants to try again next week with a cleaned up redux attempt, cool, but this one really is a mess.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:32 PM on November 10, 2007


aaaw, I was really enjoying that thread. But yeah, I knew its days were numbered.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2007


Industrialised slaughter and various states harnessing new techniques and technology to get right into the nitty-gritty of everyday life were quite the bummer, but percentage-of-humans-massacred-or-starved-wise wasn't it pretty much business as usual? Bit pulled out my arse as a theory, but thinking of the crises of the mid-17th century or 1848/Taiping/U.S. Civil War etc. It's only global population inflation that upped the ante. And we got old age pensions and health care in Europe as compensation.
posted by Abiezer at 6:51 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, the thread led me to this link, which makes for some good reading.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:55 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


This was a really bad deletion; the deleted question was one of the most interesting ones I'd seen on the green in some time.

The poster asks for references to accessible discussions about what went wrong with c20. Frankly I have no clue as to why this should be regarded as "chatfilter" or what the poster would need to do to clean it up.

Imho the thread should be undeleted and put back at the top of the page.
posted by washburn at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well good luck with that, washburn.
posted by puke & cry at 7:30 PM on November 10, 2007


This was a really bad deletion

Not really. If you are going to ask something like this at least define what you mean by "wrong." My comment in the thread at the OP probably should have been deleted if it stayed, as it did not answer the question, and was more of a niggle at its messy form. As LH said, it was others who missed the date by 100 years (and this century does seem off to a bad start). Perhaps the OP did too, but, I don't really think so based purely on the question. The issue is, what was wrong with the 20th century? There were good and bad things. You have the people who couldn't find the silver lining in a million dollar winning lottery ticket claiming that of course it was the worst century ever, but you can make the same claim for just about every one preceding it. Cortex got it just right in his reasons for deletion. He loves to make a joke there and be kind of obnoxious, but not this time. The post truly contains the nub of what could be a very good question, it just remains a bit too nebulous. I hope it gets asked again with more precision, or perhaps the OP will drop in here and it can be settled here in MeTa.
posted by caddis at 7:52 PM on November 10, 2007


Aren't we a little better off trying to figure out what's gone wrong with the 21st century? Because we've got about ninety-two years left to go up in this bitch, and so far, I think we've kinda fucked it up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:01 PM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


On the bright side, great new century so far, huh? Huh?
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2007


This was a really bad deletion; the deleted question was one of the most interesting ones I'd seen on the green in some time.

You're out of your mind.
posted by boo_radley at 8:30 PM on November 10, 2007


Has the light gone out for you?
Because the light's gone out for me.
It is the 21st Century.
It is the 21st Century.

PS: that question sucked. I was going to answer it with a parody of Life of Brian (what has the 20th century ever done for us?), but I flagged it instead.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 8:31 PM on November 10, 2007


washburn: Frankly I have no clue as to why this should be regarded as "chatfilter"--

It's pretty vague; it's more suited to open-ended discussion than to definitive answers.

--what the poster would need to do to clean it up.

More details about the specific page he was looking for would have been helpful.

When I posted my answer, I was a little surprised the question hadn't been deleted already.
posted by russilwvong at 9:01 PM on November 10, 2007


If you are going to ask something like this at least define what you mean by "wrong."

I don't see why that would be necessary. If the poster really wants to know what went wrong, he or she is unlikely to be able to figure out what "wrong" means. Would a tally of needly killed persons cover the wrongness? Or is the problems something deeper? Some lost principle, or form of alienation? Something else entirely? A narrower question focusing on some one specific abuse in the c20 would be a fine one too, but inherently different from one that asks for broader considerations about what the trouble with the last century might have been.

My own response to this question is probably shaped by having worked for a while cataloging the correspondence of H.G. Wells. It is absolutely the case that thinkers like Wells and many others began the century with a sense of optimism, and then watched in incredulity as clueless leaders and small-minded capitalists, nationalists, and totalitarians lead the century into disaster. Noting the change between Wells's optimistic pre-1914 early work and, say, The Mind at the End of its Tether, written in despair in the midst of World War II reveals a tragedy that seems to be playing itself out all over again. Thoughtful people who lived at the beginning of the last century watched as their best hopes failed and the century went horribly wrong--and they were very much aware of this happening.

Kittens for breakfast points out that we'd better start thinking about what's going wrong with the 21st century, and of course he couldn't be more right. But part of that process involves looking back at the eerily similar first decades of the last century, so that we can avoid reliving the events of that period as a tragical farce.

On preview: I wish those those helpfully chiming in that "You're out of your mind," or "that question sucked" would provide even the slightest justifications for their out-of-hand dismissals of what strikes me is about the most important and worthwhile question I've ever seen in the Green.
posted by washburn at 9:04 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's a stupid question, no matter what century he was talking about.

You need to narrow the focus there a bit before it's an interesting question, because in a lot of respects, the 20th century was a vast improvement over the 19th.
posted by empath at 9:15 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


On preview: I wish those those helpfully chiming in that "You're out of your mind," or "that question sucked" would provide even the slightest justifications for their out-of-hand dismissals of what strikes me is about the most important and worthwhile question I've ever seen in the Green.

I seriously doubt anyone explaining it to you would make a difference. Really, "the most important and worthwhile question I've ever seen in the Green." You've got to be fucking stupid or something.
posted by puke & cry at 9:25 PM on November 10, 2007


washburn: if it can only be properly answered with a book-length discussion, then it's too broad to be effectively answered on AskMe. It can be an interesting question but still unsuitable for AskMe.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:35 PM on November 10, 2007


LobsterMitten writes:
if it can only be properly answered with a book-length discussion, then it's too broad to be effectively answered on AskMe.

Yet since the poster was looking for help finding "discussions of the topic," wouldn't it have been appropriate to refer him or her to the relevant "book-length discussions"?

Puke&Cry:
The name calling isn't impressive. Next time try explaining why only a person who's "fucking stupid or something" would be interested in a range of answers to the question of what went wrong in the twentieth century.
posted by washburn at 10:05 PM on November 10, 2007


the way i read it, the OP himself thinks this is the 20th century. the bit that says "started with promise, now thinking back..." implies he was there at the start. which is unlikely.
posted by quonsar at 10:40 PM on November 10, 2007


Yes, but washburn, it was posed in a way to highlight the question "what happened to the century?" rather than "help me find a specific discussion, that I have already read, of this question". So it invited a lot of half-assery and also people bitching about half-assery.

To say that it's one of the most interesting and thoughtulf questions in a while suggests that you yourself are focusing on the first question, not the much narrower question about helping this person track down a specific article. The broader question is ill-suited to AskMe, interesting question though it is.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:12 PM on November 10, 2007


Also: Thoughtulf is the king of the hill people.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:14 PM on November 10, 2007


Well, first of all, I'm almost positive that the OP was wondering about the 21st century, as in, the one we're in now. Which is embarrassing enough to screw up. But even if he was actually looking for a history lesson, framing the post with a loaded question like "How did The 20th Century go so wrong?" is a piss-poor way to post on askme. The fact that it's such a terribly composed and thought out question leads to my opinion that your statement: "the most important and worthwhile question I've ever seen in the Green" is ridiculous and has no basis in reality.
posted by puke & cry at 11:29 PM on November 10, 2007


"Yet since the poster was looking for help finding "discussions of the topic," wouldn't it have been appropriate to refer him or her to the relevant "book-length discussions"?"

Wait. You think "Help me find the page, or other discussions of the topic" to be the most important and worthwhile question you've ever seen in the green?
posted by Bugbread at 12:18 AM on November 11, 2007


Here's a page that may or may not be what the poster was looking for, but which he may find interesting. If he posts the question again, whatever details he can remember about the page would be helpful. Was it a newspaper or magazine site, or a personal page, for example. Does he remember anything about when it was published? Any images on the page? One page or several pages? One main author, or contributions from several? Etc.
posted by taz at 12:28 AM on November 11, 2007


If nobody else is going to claim it, I will, god damn it.

It's my fucking century now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 AM on November 11, 2007


I agree that the question wasn't perfectly formed, as it didn't prohibit stupid off-the-cuff answers.

Still, there's no reason to assume that this person was really asking about the 21st century. I mean he *wrote* "twentieth," didn't he? It's hard to see any reason to assume that the poster meant something other than what he actually said (even if one misrepresents the post by changing "look back" to "think back," as quonsar does, there seems little reason to assume that one can't consider the past century retrospectively).

So sure, if you take the poster to have meant something absurd, despite what he actually wrote, then fine, I guess he meant something really odd. But (for good reason) that's not the way most people go about reading things.

It's hard for me to see how asking about how the c20 went wrong is "loaded." I won't insult you by rehearsing the wars and gulags and genocides of the period, or by listing the mortality figures of the developing world. But suffice it to say that most people would agree that the century failed to live up to the expectations that Wells and many others had for it at the beginning of the period. Was the c20 better than the nineteenth? Quite possibly; but that certainly doesn't mean that the twentieth century fulfilled its best potential, and I have a hard time thinking of anyone who would find that an objectionable or "loaded" claim in any way.

In the end, I acknowledge that the question might have been better phrased; however that's true of every Askme question, and I do wish that such an important question, which elicited some good answers (in additions to some lame ones) might have been treated with a bit more mercy.

At a time when the international situation is becoming more and more perilous, it's a shame to see the historical consideration of such matters being cut off on merely technical grounds, even when the discussion lost is just a humble thread on AskMe.
posted by washburn at 12:43 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


bugbread writes: Wait. You think "Help me find the page, or other discussions of the topic" to be the most important and worthwhile question you've ever seen in the green?

Well, yeah. Not because it was brilliantly assembled, but because I'm haunted by a sense that we're reliving the early twentieth century. Having left the bi-polar world of the Cold War, and now that the US has led the way towards marginalizing the UN as an agent of international governance, I fear we're fast moving towards the early twentieth century system in which, absent any UN or any "superpower," states align themselves on the basis of shifting interests, and nationalist sentiment. I view the long term drift towards nineteenth century models of foreign policy as inherently dangerous, and I see quite a bit of evidence to support this interpretation.

So, yeah, I think the poster here asked a question that deserves the most serious consideration. An AskMe thread that assembled a list of key views on this subject would have been a great resource for anyone Googling about this issue.

Alright. With that, I'm off to catch some shuteye.
posted by washburn at 12:59 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The question was curiously aligned with my paranoid fantasies, so I don't think it should've been deleted.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:39 AM on November 11, 2007


I played hopscotch at twilight in the twentieth century....
Check out Tom Andrews' text for Martin Bresnick's "My Twentieth Century." It's a surprisingly moving piece.
posted by bassjump at 6:04 AM on November 11, 2007


> If nothing else, the thread led me to this link, which makes for some good reading.

Yes. And thanks for transferring the link over here since I wouldn't have seen it in the original post, now bit-bucketed.


> the bit that says "started with promise, now thinking back..." implies he was there at the start. which is unlikely.

Those of us who were present at the creation don't find it so.
posted by jfuller at 6:55 AM on November 11, 2007


washburn, I hear what you're saying. For the good things you see in the question, I'm pretty much in agreement, but I can't give you the argument that, because AskMe question aren't always phrased optimally, we shouldn't delete ones that are presented unusually badly. It's a function of the site and the community response to it: sometimes things seem broken, despite their merits, and that's why we just delete the questions rather than ban the askers or prohibit the topic.

I hope the poster sees this, gets what's problematic about his first go, asks any questions (in thread or in email or whatever) to clarify what he's going for, and asks again next week.

Now, this:

It's hard for me to see how asking about how the c20 went wrong is "loaded."

It's loaded because it's presuming a specific failure or set of failures according to some unstated criteria, and leaving it to AskMe to divine what the hell those criteria are without any context. It makes the unstated subtext of the question "amirite? Do you hear what I'm saying?"

It's presenting a really contentious, unbounded argument-starter as a question, which is a lousy execution.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:26 AM on November 11, 2007


Lousy execution, like throwing the switch five times before giving up and squeezing off the coup de grace into the eye of a well-insulated sizzler?

Or lousy execution, like shepherding a flea circus through these hard economic times?
posted by breezeway at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2007


so, so dirty: throwing the switch five times before giving up and squeezing off the coup de grace into the eye of a well-insulated sizzler
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:36 AM on November 11, 2007


Metafilter: The 20th century was peachy keen because we all got computers.
posted by Kwine at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The 20th century started with promise.

Yeah, World War I and the Influenza pandemic really shone the light on a bright, bold future, there, didn't they? Please hope me, I'm terribly lost.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2007


To gently massage a dead horse: Cortex, It's hard to see how the author was "presuming a specific failure or set of failures according to some unstated criteria"---I mean, the poster is asking MeFi why the c20 is often seen as having failed in key respects. Since he's asking us what criteria have been used to characterize the c20 as a failure, he can't reasonably be required to elucidate those criteria himself, can he?

In any case, I'm glad to move on. The world will keep on turning, and I'll still be grateful for the smart moderation that keeps MeFi similarly spinning.

A final recommendation for those interested in looking back at the twentieth century. Bruce Bernard's Century is a momentous and reflective photographic testament to the era we've just concluded, which I'd recommend to anyone, in either its large or small versions. I notice that even the large versions of this book have lately been in the bargain sections of Borders and Barnes and Noble for less than twenty bucks a pop. In addition to providing some perspective on the last century, Bernard's book must surely also be among the most striking collections of published photography I've ever encountered.
posted by washburn at 12:15 PM on November 11, 2007


The 20th century started with promise.

Yeah, World War I and the Influenza pandemic really shone the light on a bright, bold future, there, didn't they? Please hope me, I'm terribly lost.


If you think the 20th century started in 1914, I guess you think the current one hasn't started yet. In other words, yes, you are terribly lost. Buy a calendar and/or a history book.
posted by languagehat at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2007


Jeez, berate a guy for answering a question slightly out of context early in the morning. If you just take what I said and imagine I was present enough to have said, "went just great", you can spare yourself the bunched-up panties.

Poor question anyway, what difference does it actually make?
posted by baphomet at 12:44 PM on November 11, 2007


If you think the 20th century started in 1914, I guess you think the current one hasn't started yet. In other words, yes, you are terribly lost. Buy a calendar and/or a history book.


If you bought that history book, you may hear about something called "The Short 20th Century", which ran from 1914-1989/91.

Eras in history don't always follow the calender.
posted by spaltavian at 2:27 PM on November 11, 2007


That's all well and good, but said short century isn't the first that comes to mind, even for historians.
posted by breezeway at 2:43 PM on November 11, 2007


The question century is stupid and should be deleted.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:09 PM on November 11, 2007


Required reading.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:10 PM on November 11, 2007


throwing the switch five times before giving up and squeezing off the coup de grace into the eye of a well-insulated sizzler

I love this, and I don't even know what it means.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:06 PM on November 11, 2007


If you bought that history book, you may hear about something called "The Short 20th Century", which ran from 1914-1989/91.
I'm sure it was Eric Hobsbawm (or Derek Frogspawn as we so comically christened him) who referred to the long 19th century that finished at that same date too. Though Google and Wiki says he has it running up to 1918.
posted by Abiezer at 4:20 PM on November 11, 2007


If you think the 20th century started in 1914, I guess you think the current one hasn't started yet. In other words, yes, you are terribly lost. Buy a calendar and/or a history book.

What was so promising about the first thirteen years? Seems like things went from bad to worse, until the end of WWII, at which point they improved significantly until the 1970's, (not counting The Bomb) then everything started to go to shit again, except for isolated pockets of the US and Northern Europe.

(that's sort of the Anne Elk version of the 20th century)

I may not be The Great Language Hat, but I do read history voraciously, so you can level out a bit on the condescension, if you don't mind.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:26 PM on November 11, 2007


If you think the 20th century started in 1914

Centuries in the way we're thinking of them here (and decades, too) rarely 'start' in line with calendar dates. Saying that the 20th century started in 1914 (to pick a year) is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, if you define your terms up front.

One hopes that in retrospect, the first decade or so of the 21st century will turn out to be the nasty mindraping vinegar strokes of the 20th century, and a Bright New Day will come when the corner is turned in like 2012 or something.

But one doubts it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:00 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Devils Rancher:

I'm not the GLH either, but let me make a point anyhow: There was plenty of room for optimism---misplaced, it turned out---in the early c20. Electricity, telephones, airships, automobiles; things were changing in ways that promised to create enough goods and food for everyone, for the first time. Remember the Columbian exposition of 1893? Lots of authors expressed at least qualified optimism during the time, but one I've mentioned in this thread already (who lived to see his predictions go to hell) was H.G. Wells. Have a look at the conclusion of his Anticipations of the Reactions of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought, for a representative example.

And re condescension, I might be mistaken, but it seems like you might find a bit of it here, if you look closely enough.
posted by washburn at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2007


World War I didn't just crop up out of nowhere in 1914. The Russian Revolution had really begun in 1905, after the Romanovs had their asses kicked by the Japanese, the Turks were busily giving Europe a primer in genocide by the same year, and elsewhere in the world, things were pretty out of hand, too. The Belgians were in full-swing wrecking the Congo with a hammer, and Mexico was thrown into full-blown chaos by 1911.

Sure technology was showing promise, but it was also handily being shown to hold lots of new promise in mass destruction, as well. Military aircraft, tanks, mustard gas, and submarines were being unleashed on the world as surely as were the light-bulb and the automobile.

And I really only mind condescension when it's directed at me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:37 PM on November 11, 2007


wendell: "The 20th Century actually ended pretty good for me personally, since I joined MetaFilter "sometime in 1999"
Please don't tell me that you are one of those who think the 20th century ended in 1999? Please god, no.

While I'm being a pedantic arsehole, the whole "..ended pretty good for me ..." and "he went good" and various other permutations of the misuse of the word "good" when it should be "well" really, really, pisses me off.
posted by dg at 12:07 AM on November 12, 2007


Nobody thinks it ended in 99. Some people think it ended with the first tick of 00, some 01. wendell is just saying that spending the last year (or two, depending on his religion there) as a metafilter member made for a necessarily positive way to close out the century. Which silly quip were now dissecting, because this is Metatalk and it ever must be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:43 AM on November 12, 2007


but I do read history voraciously

Not voraciously enough, if you don't understand why the first thirteen years of the century were promising. Go back to the library and try again.

To all the "long/short century" fans: Nice try, but when normal people talk about "the twentieth century" they mean the period 1901-2000 (or, of course, 1900-1999, depending on dweebitude/practicality).
posted by languagehat at 6:51 AM on November 12, 2007


Are you saying there is something abnormal about Derek Frogspawn, lh? Other than the obvious of failing to leave the Communist Party after Hungary '56 and defending the Soviet invasion ad nauseum thereafter, that is.
posted by Abiezer at 7:15 AM on November 12, 2007


Not voraciously enough, if you don't understand why the first thirteen years of the century were promising. Go back to the library and try again.

Okay, I am all over the map with my reading -- I just finished off six books about the Manhattan project, and the above-ground testing period, immediately post-war, (let's talk about cancer rates) but am definitely spotty on American history of the late-19th-early 20th century. My point was though, that while things might have looked promising in America, and the British Empire perhaps, the prelude to WWI was already building in other places at pretty much the beginning of the century. I guess it depended upon where you lived.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:36 AM on November 12, 2007


Thanks for your polite reply to my excessively snarky comment. I certainly agree that "the prelude to WWI was already building in other places"—and of course there was a military prelude in the Balkans in 1912-13—but there has never been a period of human history without "wars and the rumors of wars"; the striking thing about the early twentieth century was the widespread (in the West, sure, but don't forget China had its revolution in 1911 and people briefly thought it would lead to good things) sense that history was on the upward march: medicine and science were making huge strides, the arts were flourishing (I happen to think the period just before WWI was probably the greatest sustained burst of artistic genius since the Renaissance), and there hadn't been a big war in decades. There was a sense of pressure building in Europe, with the military buildups and the increasingly jingoistic saber-rattling in the press of most countries, but I don't think anyone expected a big war so soon, and certainly nobody expected a long one, let alone the utter devastation it produced (and the horrors it led to: the Bolshevik takeover in Russia, Nazism, WWII, etc.). That's why the century looks like such a tragedy (and presumably why the poster asked the question).
posted by languagehat at 9:19 AM on November 12, 2007


It's my fucking century now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 AM on November 11 [+] [!
]

So, pedants, would this year be 0 AZ or 1 AZ?
posted by rmless at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2007


Metafilter: I really only mind condescension when it's directed at me.
posted by washburn at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2007


Twelve hours late to defend myself...

I did not mean to claim that the 20th Century ended in 1999, although I used my 1999 MeFi Membership so that it would be clear to both '00 and '01 century partisans. And the "good" was an intentional affectation to put more emphasis than just "well", but looking back at it, I should've just gone whole-redneck with it and said "real good" with quotes.

Now, if you had clicked my link, you would have seen me bring up the "when do decades/centuries end" issue in mostly Pop Culture terms...
I love the ’00s?

Historical perspective takes time, and the farther you go back, the fuzzier the lines become between what we consider a decade. What most people identify as the ‘60s didn’t really get started until The Beatles came to America in 1964, weeks after President Kennedy was assassinated.

And you could just as easily stretch the end of that decade well into Watergate. The smartest move the creators of “That ‘70s Show” made was by starting the series halfway through 1976 — on the other hand, their dumbest move was thinking they could stretch 3½ years in real time into seven TV seasons with a rapidly aging cast. But I digress.

If you’re going to base the turn of a decade on big events, the Y2K crisis was a dud, and the last day of the 20th century would be Sept. 10, 2001.

M.C. Hammer is considered a ‘90s phenomenon, but his first hit “U Can’t Touch This” balanced on the cusp between 1989 and 1990, and it was all downhill from there. Both the 10-year run of “Friends” and the seven-year run of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” were almost perfectly halved by the turn of the Millennium; so why are Ross and Rachel considered a ‘90s thing while Spike and Angel are not? Did “Seinfeld” become the TV show of the ‘90s just because its long run was totally enclosed in the decade, like “Dynasty” (1981-1989) for the ‘80s, “All in the Family” (1971-1979) for the ‘70s and “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968) for the ‘60s?
posted by wendell at 6:46 PM on November 14, 2007


I should've just gone whole-redneck with it and said "real good"
I think that should be "reel gud".
posted by dg at 11:16 PM on November 14, 2007


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