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(Slate)   Once, we as a society respected great leaders and thinkers like Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Teddy Roosevelt, and Margaret Thatcher. Now, we glorify Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. What happened?   (slate.com) divider line 436
    More: Scary, Marie Curie, Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Thomas Edison, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, human beings, Barneys New York  
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12110 clicks; posted to Main » on 27 Apr 2012 at 12:33 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-27 01:20:24 PM
You don't go civilization building with the leaders you want.
You go with the leaders you have.

We got nuttin.
 
2012-04-27 01:20:57 PM
FTFA:

"Yes, my head is filled with pathetically stupid thoughts about inconsequential people, and so, quite frankly, is yours. We are all in the same boat. And why on earth do we privilege the most superficial idiocies of popular culture over more substantial fare? The answer is simple: We have lost our fascination with accomplishment."

This insipid tool needs to realize he speaks only for himself. He may be obsessed with this pointless bullshiat, but that doesn't mean everyone is. It's because of articles like this that I haven't visited Slate's site since Krugman got his NYT gig.
 
2012-04-27 01:21:21 PM

markie_farkie: "Go away. 'batin'!!!!!" Is what happened.


Idiocracy reference. Done in one.

/electrolytes are what plants crave
 
2012-04-27 01:21:28 PM

CrispFlows: ph0rk: [ecx.images-amazon.com image 300x300]


and


"[M]y ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." --Asimov

Goddammit, that book could've been useful for my final paper and I just handed it in yesterday!


Read it anyway. It is worth it.


Muta: Mark Twain talked about short live celebrity news in his autobiography. It existed back then and he found it just as annoying.


Twain had so much to tell us. Everyone thinks of him as a writer of amusing coming-of-age fiction, though.
 
2012-04-27 01:21:31 PM
Yeah, I remember the joyous shouts when all of America rejoiced at Teddy Roosevelt having Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House.
 
2012-04-27 01:22:00 PM
Our society became huge and media became invasive so that even if only a small portion of 'society' is vapid enough to care about Kim Kardashian, it is still millions of people.

Pretty simple really.

/knows many people who are AWARE of Kim Kardashian
//knows no one who 'glorifies' her.
 
2012-04-27 01:22:30 PM
www.yalibnan.com

Because people who succeed are considered evil & vile & corrupt & greedy.
 
2012-04-27 01:22:53 PM

LordJiro: [i.imgur.com image 640x456]

Obligatory.


That comic is wrong.
 
2012-04-27 01:23:03 PM
Humanity has always been nuts about whoever the times equivalent of a celebrity was. Just pre mass media area many of those celebrities tended to be local rather than national or international. Over time history tends to forget them and focus on people who actually made a difference. Modern times is no exception. In a hundred years all but the most special of the celebrities will be completely forgotten and history will once more focus on people who made a real difference.
 
2012-04-27 01:23:17 PM

mbillips: [0.tqn.com image 160x206]
Have the Kardashians killed anyone by sodomizing them with a Coke bottle? I mean, that we know of?


I came for someone mentioning Fatty, and found it. And it's allegedly, and I thought he crushed them... but in any event, his accuser was someone who was blackmailing him....


Look, point is, every age is FULL of Kim Kardashians and Fatty Arbuckles, they will simply not be remembered.... historical figures are remembered by history, and later fondly, SOME are even loved at the time... but Edison? During his own time? While warring with Tesla and Westinghouse? Not a lovable mythical figure who invented things and loved everyone. The man was a psycho prick bastard, but he was a productive one.

The rose colored glasses worn by people who bring this up as a societal issue are epic; Matched only perhaps by their nostalgia for a time they DIDN'T ACTUALLY LIVE IN!

If you're going to stupidly pine for a different time, at least pine for one you existed in.

SideNote: We still give nobels, if you can't name any recent recipients, then I guess you're the damned problem - so stop blaming those "masses of idiots".
 
2012-04-27 01:24:02 PM

RexTalionis: The internet made it so that every idiot has input into who's important and worthy of worship, rather than the editorial boards of a few publications like it it used to be.


Yep it's a giant voting machine and the people have voted for Kim Kardashian.
 
2012-04-27 01:24:02 PM
I'm reading a charming fictional account of Lavinia Warren, who was a little person in P.T. Barnum's employ. She charmed many heads of state in the US and Europe and was all the rage everywhere she went. She was a lovely lady who was about three feet tall and was basically "exhibited". Her marriage to another Barnum employee, Charles Stratton aka "General Tom Thumb" drew a huge crowd.

Nothing has changed, except for the fact that Mrs. Stratton conducted herself with dignity and did not show off her beaver to local journalists like these gimmicky celebrities do now.

The reason why we only hear about the great thinkers of previous times is because historians have the good grace to write about people who made a solid contribution to the world's body of knowledge, with people like Mrs. Stratton et al as a footnote to show the hysteria of crowds.

Great thinkers don't really actively seek out the kind of crowd-based publicity that less useful people do, but there are exceptions. If someone doesn't know who Stephen Hawking is, they have to be living in a van down by the river, for example.
 
2012-04-27 01:24:34 PM

James F. Campbell: LordJiro: [i.imgur.com image 640x456]

Obligatory.

That comic is wrong.


Indeed. But despite (or because) of its popularity, XKCD != truth.
 
2012-04-27 01:24:57 PM
Look at it this way, Stephanie Meyers would be seen the same way as Emily Bronte is seen now.

/ *shudders*
 
2012-04-27 01:25:04 PM
Politicians figured out (cause consultants told them) they could get 30% of the vote just by being an R or a D without compromising, and then they just had to get another 20% to vote against the other guy.

We don't vote for ideas anymore we vote for labels and looks.
 
2012-04-27 01:25:24 PM

CrispFlows: PT Barnum is over 120 years ago and that's relatively recent. Performers were also celebrated in the past, such as the Rome's love affair with gladiators.


True, but they weren't the most celebrated of all people, they way entertainment celebrities clearly are today for so many worshippers of media. The ratio of ink and air time between actual achievements and fluffy nonsense is way, way off. People have always celebrated performers, but the context has changed. Now they are perceived as noteworthy on a parallel with real people doing real work. And the worthless celebrities are easier to access than the real local heroes, exacerbating the problem even further through convenience. That is why we have these "nothing celebrities". When the issue of substance is removed from the equation for notoriety, a Hilton becomes the inevitable and well-deserved result.
 
2012-04-27 01:25:46 PM

the stugots


Woody Allen bathes in nostalgia and then brushes his teeth with the water, and finishes by spitting into an enema bag. Wait... i think my parents called the EB a 'hot water bottle'. A lost noun from a more civilized age.


Great.

I just thought the quote was rather fitting for the discussion at hand.
 
2012-04-27 01:25:47 PM
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
― Isaac Asimov
 
2012-04-27 01:26:08 PM

SurfaceTension: Diogenes: I think it started with the Jerry Springer type shows. The greater your dysfunction, the greater your celebrity.

We've created a society of the people on the Long Island drunk train.

"You think you better than me?!" *drink to the face*

Yeah, because freak shows are such a new phenomenon. it's the medium that changed, not the appeal.

[www.bookdrum.com image 500x380]


Beat me to the punch! *shakes tiny fist* 1893 Kim Kardashian
 
2012-04-27 01:26:16 PM

historycat: Politicians figured out (cause consultants told them) they could get 30% of the vote just by being an R or a D without compromising, and then they just had to get another 20% to vote against the other guy.

We don't vote for ideas anymore we vote for labels and looks.


Well, anyone that tried to actually campaign on ideas would get slaughtered. The cult of personality is the iron cage of politics.

/Only you can set you free.
 
2012-04-27 01:27:15 PM
FTFA:

"Though none are as globally revered as Mahalia, we still have star gospel singers. One category of accomplishees, however, has disappeared entirely from the landscape. I'm talking about "the celebrity philosopher." This notion now seems rather quaint, sort of like having an ornamental hermit living in a grotto in your backyard."

What does this moron think he, and every other blogger on the planet, does for a living? As much as I disagree with him, what is Andrew Sullivan if not a "celebrity" philosopher? All it takes to be a public philosopher is to put your thoughts out there to be judged. If you have a public platform, and share your opinions about things, then you're a public philosopher. That doesn't mean you're Bertrand Russell, just that you make your living by writing about what you think.
 
2012-04-27 01:27:35 PM

TrainedWalrus: FTFY


Wozniak is much more of a genius than Bill Gates can ever be.

/ But Gates are definitively better for humanity due to his philanthropic efforts.
 
2012-04-27 01:28:18 PM

DamnYankees: Sorry to say, but society at large has not changed at all. Every generation has its Kim Kardashian, they are just forgotten by history.


See this guy?:

In the early centuries AD you could have purchased this or something like it at the souvenier shop in the Coliseum. This was basically the early AD equivalent of a baseball card and the now anonymous figure's name would have been as familiar to you and everyone around you as the emperor's. and you would likely have thought him THE paragon of manhood and virtue and screamed your lungs out chanting his name in the arena. Now? all he ever was is just more of the dust of history.

Ars longa, Vita brevis and Fame? it's the most fleeting of all
 
2012-04-27 01:28:37 PM

AverageAmericanGuy: I'm not going to defend that idiot Kim Kardashian.

But Justin Bieber has got talent and charisma. He stands to become very important in the next few years as he matures into a more bluesy and less pop artist.

As much as we may have respected great leaders like Edison, Curie, and Roosevelt, we still flipped out over the Beatles, Stones, and Bon Jovi.

Maybe you're just too old, subby.


I don't care for Beiber's music. but the kid has participated in dozens of make -a - wish meetings with sick kids and he gave a half million to the local Childrens Wish Foundation in Toronto. So he is a kind and generous annoying twerp.
 
2012-04-27 01:28:52 PM

IrateShadow: maliklockett: How famous were Marie Curie and Thomas Edison while they were alive? I would venture that most of their popularity came after they were dead.

Edison was fairly well known, but that's mostly because he was a ruthless bastard and shameless self promoter. And there are plenty of academics that were well known in their time, but it usually only happens when they do something big. Einstein and Salk immediately come to mind, and more recently we've had Hawking, Sagan, and Feynman.


==================

Yup, Edison was not much of an inventor. The phenomenon of electrically induced incandescence was discovered by an English scientist decades earlier...in fairness, said English scientist didn't think his discovery could have much practical value.

Edison was not a trained scientist/engineer. As far as anyone knows, his knowledge of math was no greater than 9th grade algebra. He went about inventing the light bulb by trial and error, without understanding any of the physical properties of the materials he was testing. Tesla described Edison's invention of the light bulb as, "A man looking for a needle in a haystack by removing and examining each straw one by one."

Edison had very little to do with most of his other inventions. He hired naive engineers and scientists to do the grunt work. When they produced something that looked promising, he had them sign over the patent, and then he would fire them.

At one point, Edison claimed that he owned the copyright of any film produced with an Edison movie camera. Imagine if the guy who sold you paper and pencils claimed that he owned the copyright to your novel. Eventually the courts struck it down.

He "proved" that the competing Westinghouse AC systems were dangerous by going around the country and electrocuting various animals in public displays...mostly dogs and cats, but including one circus elephant. The film of Edison electrocuting an elephant still exists, you can see it here: Edison Elephant BBQ

Edison was notorious for not paying wages owed or even his personal bills.

All around, an unpleasant man.
 
2012-04-27 01:28:57 PM

Heron: What does this moron think he, and every other blogger on the planet, does for a living? As much as I disagree with him, what is Andrew Sullivan if not a "celebrity" philosopher? All it takes to be a public philosopher is to put your thoughts out there to be judged. If you have a public platform, and share your opinions about things, then you're a public philosopher. That doesn't mean you're Bertrand Russell, just that you make your living by writing about what you think.


Link
 
2012-04-27 01:29:48 PM
www.politicker.com

If Americans paid attention to what is going on in their country today they would be hunting Republican voters in the streets and hanging them from trees. But instead they watch reality TV as they wait for death.

Stick a fork in it, this country is done.

/it would take a civil war to fix this country, and a mass extermination.
//and even that would only last a generation.
 
2012-04-27 01:30:00 PM

Magorn: Nothing at all. Previous eras glorified thier sports stars, and "it" girls and minor celebrities just as much as we do. But their fame faded quickly as they had never done anything really worth remmebering, That's why the only people we remember from bygone eras were those whose contributions were of real note. The dross melts away and only the truly exceptional endures. It's the same reason we always believe that the music of a bygone era is " better" than today's, all the crap has been forgotten and only the really excellent music remains.

and BTW Thomas Edison was not a thinker or a man of any real note. he was a thief and shameless self-promoter who built a myth around himself that has been enshrined as the truth by lazy "historians"


Other papers of the time reveal a very broad distrust of TE. Think of

Geotpf: majestic: maliklockett: Did we revere scientists? Especially during their day?

How famous were Marie Curie and Thomas Edison while they were alive? I would venture that most of their popularity came after they were dead.


It would seem to me that most of the people who were famous while alive were famous for more dubious exploits: athletes, outlaws etc. People who were well known for their scandals

Don't know about Curie, but Edison was a farking rock star back in his day.

The modern version of Thomas Edison is Steve Jobs, or maybe Bill Gates.


Remember kiddies, history is written right or wrong because a library survived.

In our world "history" is being written by Murdoch and his sycophants.
Or the Bush Library if it survives.

Feeling well educated?

Edison was a puke that got lucky, more like Al Gore.

/good news is Edison was correct
 
2012-04-27 01:30:57 PM
 
Oak
2012-04-27 01:31:37 PM
Societies never decline.

Every civilization ever developed is still around today, becoming more and more prosperous, healthy, free, and fair.

There's nothing to worry about, because there's no such thing as "decline," and never has been.

It's all just a bunch of old folks grumbling. Go back to sleep.
 
2012-04-27 01:31:59 PM
It's because people these days respect flash and glitter, but not substance
 
2012-04-27 01:32:18 PM
My niece is 10 yrs old and when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up she stated " I want to be famous ! " I asked what she wanted to famous for, being a doctor,lawyer, artist , etc.. She told me " I just want to be famous like the people on TV but Mom says I'm not allowed."
 
2012-04-27 01:32:24 PM

ph0rk: Braindeath: Since Nicolas Tesla didn't get showered with whores and cocaine, I'm going to ignore this.

Well he electrocuted all those sheep and called Edison an asshole, so of course no on liked him.


I'm going with the guy who could start earthquakes every time.
 
2012-04-27 01:32:31 PM

CrispFlows: TrainedWalrus: FTFY

Wozniak is much more of a genius than Bill Gates can ever be.

/ But Gates are definitively better for humanity due to his philanthropic efforts.


I believe the referrence was to the sourse of Gates' sourse code.
 
2012-04-27 01:34:00 PM
The Real World San Francisco happened. That's when the nosedive went steep.
 
2012-04-27 01:34:35 PM

Braindeath: ph0rk: Braindeath: Since Nicolas Tesla didn't get showered with whores and cocaine, I'm going to ignore this.

Well he electrocuted all those sheep and called Edison an asshole, so of course no on liked him.

I'm going with the guy who could start earthquakes every time.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gOR91oentQ
 
2012-04-27 01:34:56 PM

Popsicle: Hey, remember Evelyn Nesbit? No? Good. And no one will remember Kim Kardashian in 100 years either.


I agree to some extent, however, I think a large part of the issue is that "news" sources have learned that pandering to idiots isn't just easy, but it's profitable. Why spend all that money on hard hitting investigations that report actual news, worrying about ethics and lawsuits and paying for good talent, when they can simply report what Kim said about her latest ex and have 4x as many stay tuned? Hell, half of their audience would have trouble understanding what a credit default swap wit a five minute explanation. The rule of thumb I have to dumb people: thinking is hard, don't make things hard for them or they'll shut down or leave, well, unless that's your motivation anyway.

Oh, something recent that made me sad. I was playing Lego Batman with my nine year old nephew. After about fifteen minutes he told me he didn't want to play anymore, he's tired of having to think, let's play such and such racing game. WTF, it's Lego Batman, my three year old can play it. He's also thirty pounds overweight, can't kick or throw a ball, can't ride a bike, can barely "run," can't ice skate, can't swim, etc. I told my wife all this and she told me he's just slightly below average in her opinion, and she should know because she's been an elem reading spec in a huge county for twelve years. I do believe it will get worse before it gets better.
 
2012-04-27 01:35:00 PM

snocone: Remember kiddies, history is written right or wrong because a library survived.


Yeah - I'm not too happy about the library of Alexandria being burned down in three separate occasions, one of which 'to prevent the enemy getting anything'.

Oh, also f*ck the conquistidors for destroying priceless 'heathen' artifacts and architecture.
 
2012-04-27 01:35:17 PM

orclover: If Americans paid attention to what is going on in their country today they would be hunting Republican voters in the streets and hanging them from trees.


This is what some people consider progressive enlightenment.
 
2012-04-27 01:35:42 PM
If you want to be famous fast, be loud and stupid.

If you want to be famous for a long time, make a lasting, major contribution to the world.

If you want to be famous forever, enforce an ideology by killing several million people.

"Bread and circuses" isn't a new concept, though.
 
2012-04-27 01:35:54 PM

CrispFlows: snocone: Remember kiddies, history is written right or wrong because a library survived.

Yeah - I'm not too happy about the library of Alexandria being burned down in three separate occasions, one of which 'to prevent the enemy getting anything'.

Oh, also f*ck the conquistidors for destroying priceless 'heathen' artifacts and architecture.


Only a fool blames the shovel.
 
2012-04-27 01:36:49 PM

James F. Campbell: LordJiro: [i.imgur.com image 640x456]

Obligatory.

That comic is wrong.


So Erasmus had more children than Aaron, the poopsmith of East-Buttfarkeningtonshire? I seriously doubt it. Idiocracy is not how genetics works, and it was never meant to be. Did you believe there really was a land peopled entirely by 3 centimeter tall human beings the first time you read Gulliver's Travels?
 
2012-04-27 01:37:18 PM

StaleCoffee: "Bread and circuses" isn't a new concept, though.


Not new, but relatively obscure.


Otherwise people might look up from the miasma of beer, cheeseburgers, and reality television and see it for what it is.
 
2012-04-27 01:37:28 PM
yeah, there were no Kardashians back then...

28.media.tumblr.com

/the Gabors
//Zsa Zsa was married 9 times
///Kim only has 7 more to go to beat her!
////can she do it?
 
2012-04-27 01:39:08 PM
What happened is that our society has grown to hate the intelligent, and no longer have any patience for anything. Great thinkers like Thomas Edison and Madame Curie and Teddy Roosevelt speak on equal terms with the educated, and thier plans require time. Now, politicians and the intellecual elite in our society use buzzwords, and are retweeted, reyoutubed, and reshown over and over again. Those buzzwords create the illusion of progress and itelligence. We want it now, but won't listen those who tell us we can't have it "now." As a result, we elect and give money to people who say buzzwords, but get things done half-assed.
 
2012-04-27 01:39:53 PM

StaleCoffee: If you want to be famous fast, be loud and stupid.

If you want to be famous for a long time, make a lasting, major contribution to the world.

If you want to be famous forever, enforce an ideology by killing several million people.

"Bread and circuses" isn't a new concept, though.


=============

There is more to it than that. Both Mao and Stalin piled up the bodies higher than Hitler, but Hitler is the guy everybody knows today. If you want to go by percentages, Pol Pot offed half the population of Cambodia....a world record, but whho knows Pol Pot today?
 
2012-04-27 01:41:23 PM

Fissile: StaleCoffee: If you want to be famous fast, be loud and stupid.

If you want to be famous for a long time, make a lasting, major contribution to the world.

If you want to be famous forever, enforce an ideology by killing several million people.

"Bread and circuses" isn't a new concept, though.

=============

There is more to it than that. Both Mao and Stalin piled up the bodies higher than Hitler, but Hitler is the guy everybody knows today. If you want to go by percentages, Pol Pot offed half the population of Cambodia....a world record, but whho knows Pol Pot today?


Jello knows.

Pol... Pot... Pol.... Pot....
/polpot!
 
2012-04-27 01:42:20 PM

Fissile: StaleCoffee: If you want to be famous fast, be loud and stupid.

If you want to be famous for a long time, make a lasting, major contribution to the world.

If you want to be famous forever, enforce an ideology by killing several million people.

"Bread and circuses" isn't a new concept, though.

=============

There is more to it than that. Both Mao and Stalin piled up the bodies higher than Hitler, but Hitler is the guy everybody knows today. If you want to go by percentages, Pol Pot offed half the population of Cambodia....a world record, but whho knows Pol Pot today?



Pol Pot had a bad PR firm.
 
2012-04-27 01:42:27 PM

simrobert2001: Now, politicians and the intellecual elite in our society use buzzwords, and are retweeted, reyoutubed, and reshown over and over again.


I don't think you know what these words mean. Talking heads and pundits != intellectual elite.
 
2012-04-27 01:42:37 PM

The Third Man: I knew a lot of people at Somerville College, Oxford--Thatcher's old college. A statue of Thatcher was put up by the college administration after she retired...that same night a large group of students tore the statue down and broke it into pieces. The administration rebuilt the statue and re-dedicated it...and that night another large group of students tore the statue down and threw it in a garbage skip. Thatcher was hated, hated, hated at Oxford.


A picture of the statue builder...

img401.imageshack.us
 
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