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Fifty years, makes me an old man. Fifty years ago I was a 12 year old kid in central Jersey as the 1960s began. The decade of Camelot and the Viet Cong, the Beatles and Bob Dylan, bell bottoms and shagging hair, the civil rights movement and woman's lib, what might be considered the beginnings of the world we live in.

Looking back at the changes wrought over the last half century there are some real incongruities. Many of the cultural trends that originated in the 60s are still playing themselves out. We landed on the moon and won’t be back for another decade or more. Of course there have been major changes as well. Computers, the internet, and cell phones were just glints in the eyes of visionaries 50 years ago. Many Kossacks weren’t even born yet, although the collective memory of TV and other media make the past 50 years part of even a pre-teens virtual experience.

Reflecting on the last half century got me thinking. How much change occurred during previous 50 year time spans relative to the last 50? I thought it would be interesting to conduct a poll to see how we view the past and future in terms of the changes and upheavals that occur over 50 year periods looking backwards and forwards from the decade just ended. So here it is. Feel free to comment on what you think were the most significant periods of change over 50 year time spans during the last 250 years. And what about the next 50 years? Will the changes to come be as significant as those that have already occurred?

Originally posted to detler on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 11:45 PM PST.


Which 50 year time span saw or will see the most change?

45%35 votes
23%18 votes
23%18 votes
3%3 votes
2%2 votes
1%1 votes

| 77 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

    by detler on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 11:45:47 PM PST

    •  I AM SHIVERING (0+ / 0-)

      i just voted for 1910-1959. Two World Wars, and spinoff civil wars killing in excess of estimated 100 Million people (the majority civilians; destruction of most of the industrialized world); remapping, regoverning, reorganizing of at least 3/4 of the world population; the effect of desperation - political, economic - and it ain't over.

      "America is ruled by the moral philosophy of the dollar."

      by runningdoglackey on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 05:26:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The next (5+ / 0-)

    50 years will hopefully have us do a sharp turn away from our current "let's use it all up till there is no more" culture. Climate change, water scarcity, increasing violence tied to the extraction
    of fossil fuels, they should all rub our noses in the need to try something radically different.

  •  I can never understand... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    how people answer questions like this. How do you measure? I mean, the flushing toilet was invented sometime in the late 1700's - that's a big honkin' load of change right there. What about the sewing machine in the 1800's? That changed everything. Or a lot, anyway. I would be so bad on a game show.

    •  yup (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueteam, Chacounne, petral, Prinny Squad

      people always tend to overestimate the import of changes that occurred in their lifetime; they also tend to do the exact opposite with respect to changes that happened a long ago.

      my opinion, the greatest change came along when we invented fire. oh and agriculture. and when we migrated out of africa (good thing there was no uscis back then to throw a wrench into the whole thing huh?). and of course, the things you mentioned like the flushing toilet (big big deal, helped us live longer). how about the invention of penicillin? antibiotics have done a lot for mankind too.

      but screw all that. none of that beats the iphone.

      •  Oh, yeah, fire - nice one. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        agent, Chacounne, budr

        I remember writing a paper in college about some damn thing, have no idea what now, but I had a big digression in the middle of it about how people had to learn to walk directionally on sidewalks during the Industrial Revolution because they found themselves, for the first time, in pedestrian traffic and they had to sort out the chaos. I love that stuff - the bigness of that.

      •  And then there is paper ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        agent, Prinny Squad

        I think, in terms of communication and idea and information decimination, paper, the printing press, the telephone, the computer, and the internet (including email and IM) have made immeasureable difference in making this an ever "smaller world".

                     Just my two cents,


        Planning a March for Legal Accountability for Torture

        by Chacounne on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 12:29:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  um, language would be high on most lists n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Weather satelites best change (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when you live in any major convergence zone during springtime.  When the red alerts start popping in north Texas, its like preparing for a raid during the blitz.

  •  railroad and telegraph are my favorites (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    With the railroad we went from one or two horses (or a few more in special arrangements) to hundreds of horsepower.

    The telegraph married information and electricity which essentially divorced information from material stuff.  We're still unpacking the possibilities of that.

    These two were the beginning of overpowering the natural limits of the world we evolved in and lead (quickly) to domesticating the planet.

  •  Yes the times are a'changing (0+ / 0-)

    No, I can't answer the poll - same reasons as others, but I decided to take most issues with your first sentence.

    YOU ARE NOT OLD.  Or rather, I'm just a couple of years older and do not consider myself old.  ERGO...

  •  This diary wouldn't be complete... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    without Bobby's input~! :)

  •  it's a moving target (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember thinking, back in the late '60s, what an enormous amount of change my grandfather had seen in his lifetime.  Born in the late 1880s, he could remember the first airplane he ever saw.  He and some buddies chased it on horseback for miles, trying to get a better look.  In 1969 he and my grandmother sat up late, watching the moon landing.

    When my father was a youngster growing up on the farm, a normal part of farming was walking down the rows with a hoe, chopping weeds one at at time.  He learned modern scientific agricultural methods at Oklahoma A&M and went on to produce crop yields that would have seemed magical only a generation before.  Of course those incredibly productive methods were predicated on a limitless supply of cheap petroleum among other things.

    When I was maybe eight or ten, I asked him once, "What happens when we use up all the oil?"  He gave me one of those humor the child smiles and said with a little wave of his hand, "Oh, no.  The earth is so vast, we'll never use it all up."

    Late in his career he began to see the handwriting on the wall as the price of fuel and fertilizer began to accelerate faster than the prices he could get for his crops and chemical residues from intensive farming practices began to build up in the soil.  His was the first generation to seriously bump up against the limits of a finite planet.

    I've gone from hand wired electronics to how many million (or is it billion now) logic gates can be put on a single silicon chip.  In high school, about the time that cheap transistor radios from Japan were becoming a common thing, I confidently predicted to a friend that before long we would see "molded circuits," like the printed circuits in those radios but in three dimensions.  I imagined something the size of a child's building block containing an entire radio.  I had the right idea, but I was at least an order of magnitude off on the size.

    My sons take for granted near universal real-time connectivity and access to an information stream that dwarfs anything I ever imagined at their age.  And while they will enjoy virtually limitless access to information, they will have to learn to live in an increasingly resource-bound, finite planet, with the now-inevitable and largely unpredictable effects of climate change.  They will likely witness species extinctions and a massive die-off of an unsustainable human population, with economic, political, and humanitarian implications that I can only imagine.  They will face challenges far beyond anything Granddad, Dad and I ever contemplated.  I do not envy them.

    What part of "international war crimes" do you not understand?

    by budr on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 06:24:39 AM PST

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