Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, December 12, 2021

It’s truly mind-boggling to me that, for all the content that’s dumped onto the Internet (and then echo-chambered throughout various sites), you can’t find one of historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s most famous quotations online.

I’ve actually found it, but only incidentally, in a 1995 journal article archive. In an attempt to digitally safe-keep it, I’m going to reproduce it here, with some of the context:

This mood of triumph prevailed throughout the following centuries: “Here we are on the top of the world, and we have arrived at this peak to stay there - forever! There is of course a thing called history, but history is something unpleasant that happens to other people.” That is how Arnold Toynbee, in his childhood memories, remembered the mood at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

The pertinent part is that “History is something unpleasant that happens to other people.” Meaning that, as most history is recounted via cataclysmic events like wars and social upheavals, the illusion sprung up in the late 19-Century West (particularly Europe) that a more stable, progressive existence was an insulation against world events. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the mindset in an elite tier of global living, versus what happens everywhere else.

There may or may not be an extension to Toynbee’s reminiscence, citing the U.S. Civil War. Something about, had he been a Southerner boy at the same time, he “should not have felt the same”. As with the main quote, this one is practically nonexistent online; best I could find was a sketchy blog comment. I do remember it personally though, from some past reading; but I’m not dead certain that Toynbee actually originated it (it might have been Southern historian C. Vann Woodward). So I’ll leave that citation as I’ve just laid it out.

Sure, I could run down to the library or bookstore and crack open a book on these subjects. But this is the Internet Age — I shouldn’t have to touch a dead tree by this stage.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/12/2021 04:06pm
Category: Creative, History, Wordsmithing
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There’s no question that we’re in the thick of an economic crisis of historical proportions. While we’re all losing our shirts, we should come up with a name for our pain.

Except that mid-stream may be too soon for such labeling:

One day, perhaps, the slow-motion downturn of the economy will receive the same one-name treatment as Vietnam, Watergate and Iran-Contra. But for now, the language of the current economic woes remains understandably murky, despite the impulses of journalists…

CNBC, which has seen sharp ratings gains in recent months, initially called the economic situation a “credit crisis.” Eventually it became a “Wall Street crisis,” and before long it was a “Wall Street/Main Street crisis.” In the last week, “Great Recession” has become a popular phrase.

“Great Recession” might just be the ticket, since “recession” has supplanted the more negatively-tinged “depression” in econo-speak, even though it essentially means the same thing. Meaning that after all this blows over, we’ll have to find a semantically-softer word for future downcycles. I’m picking “correction” to rise from its current second-tier status and assume the new mantle, leading to a “Great Correction” sometime this mid-century.

Back to the present: People are chiming in with their titles. Something with “Meltdown” would be to my liking.

Better yet, why not take a page from the corporate naming-rights game in sports and entertainment venues, and sell the naming rights to this epoch? It would christen these bad times with a friendly business logo, and stimulate sales in some sector or another, thus contributing to recovery — in theory, anyway. Doesn’t “The Poulin Weed-Eater Economic Slump” have a nice ring to it?

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/12/2021 01:58pm
Category: Business, History, SportsBiz, Wordsmithing
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