Clickbait History!

clickbait

One of the latest trending convulsions of our troubled times is the girls and boys down at the “cancel culture” collective.  They’ve spent the last few months in an orgy of indignation, replacing place names and knocking down statues.  Their idea is – uh – I’m not really sure what their idea is, aside from the childish notion that if you don’t say it or see it, it will magically go away.  (Nobody’s ever going to accuse the 21st century of being sophisticated!)  However, in the short term, revisionist history is a pain in the ass, so responsible people need to find a way to safeguard the facts from these zealots.  Simple solution?  Clickbait!  If we turn history into clickbait (the heroin of social media) not only will people get exposed to history without them even knowing it, but it will also preserve the truth until this modern day “Reign of Terror” burns itself out.  Here are just a few examples to get the ball rolling.  (And thanks so much to AJ for being the inspiration behind this post.)

1 — Disabled man brutally shot in front of his friends and co-workers.

Admiral Horatio Nelson dies at the Battle of Trafalgar — 1805

2 — Privileged British healthcare worker shuns traditional healing and medicine.

Dr. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin — 1928

3 — Over 250 illegal immigrants killed by angry local militia.

The Battle of the Little Big Horn — 1876

4 — After years of frustration, displaced migrants lash out, topple statues and burn public buildings.

Barbarians destroy Rome – 410 A.D.

5 — Tyrannical leader announces a controversial wall to keep out illegal immigrants.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang builds The Great Wall of China – 221 B.C.

6 — After years of struggle, ridicule and even imprisonment, a man with mental health issues is finally accepted by society.

Adolf Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany — 1933

7 – Teenage girl who gained fame and a huge following when her activist message changed government policy, convicted of terrible crimes.  Guilty or not?  You decide!

Joan of Arc burned at the stake — 1431

8 — 95 reasons your parents’ religion sucks.

Martin Luther nails his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Wittenberg church – 1517

9 – Jaw-dropping evidence that an unemployed Italian sailor scammed millions out of a Spanish royal.

Queen Isabella finances Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America – 1492

10 – Charismatic leader caught in sex romp with steamy Middle Eastern beauty.  Senate takes decisive action to remove him from office.  Read the startling details.

Julius Caesar assassinated – 44 B.C.

11 — Photographic evidence of a strange “craft” in the skies over North Carolina.  You won’t believe your eyes!

Wright brothers fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk – 1903

12 – 56 wealthy landowners, businessmen and lawyers who used their influence to manipulate the government and get massive tax breaks.  You’ll never guess who’s on the list?

American delegates sign the Declaration of Independence — 1776

13 — US military man ruins pristine wilderness.  Experts say damage could last 1,000 years!

Neil Armstrong steps on the Moon – 1969

14 — Disturbing play glorifies teen suicide.  You won’t be able to hold back the tears.

Shakespeare writes Romeo and Juliet — 1595

15 — Sex worker dies in prison.  You won’t believe her shocking ordeal.

French execute Mata Hari for spying – 1917

16 — New technology destroys ancient storytelling industry.  Folklore threatened!  Thousands of jobs lost.

Johannes Gutenberg invents moveable type – 1450

17 — In a tirade of hate, an elderly man threatens violence against home invaders.

Churchill’s “We will fight on the beaches” speech – 1940

18 — Corrupt leader admits he used public funds to buy an extravagant gift for his wife.  Refuses to apologize!

Shah Jahan builds the Taj Mahal – 1643

19 — Radical religious cult denounces modern society, defying local authorities to open a well-armed wilderness “colony” on private property.

The Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock – 1620

But I think my favourite is:

20 – College students across the country take action to remove offensive material from their campuses.

Nazi youth groups burn thousands of books at several German universities – 1933

 

Time Is A Telescope

clock

Next Sunday in North America, we are switching to Daylight Saving Time, which means we move our clocks ahead one hour.  What a crock!  That’s like cutting the top end off a blanket, sewing it to the bottom and saying you’ve got a longer blanket!  Here’s the deal.  Time is a telescope.  It contracts and expands and, depending on how you look at it, throws everything out of proportion.  For example, an itch in the middle of your back can seem like an eternity; whereas a kiss, no matter how long it lingers, is always gone too soon.  When I was a kid, Saturdays were too short, summers were too long and February frequently had 35 days.  Now that I’m an — uh — older gentleman, days, weeks, months and even years are flashing by at warp speed.

The reality is, though, time is actually getting bigger.  The rotation of the Earth is slowing down ever so slightly, so a second is now an itty-bitty bit longer than it was when we first discovered them.  Luckily, the international time people (Coordinated Universal Time) have noticed this, and they add a leap second to the clock every once in a while so we don’t stray that far from solar time.  Cool fact, huh?  Here are a few more that might change your concept of time.

It takes most people more time to tie their shoes than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 metres.

There are only 525,600 minutes in a year.

Cleopatra’s reign in Egypt is closer to our time than it is to the time when the Pyramids were built.

Oxford University is older than the Aztec civilization in Mexico.

Spain was a predominantly Moslem country for 200 years longer than it’s been predominantly Christian.

Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone the same year Crazy Horse and his buddies killed General Custer and all his troopers at the Little Big Horn.

The 10th President of the United States, John Tyler, who was born in 1790, has a grandson, Harrison Tyler, who is alive today — and living in the family home, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Virginia.

This year’s Oscar presenter Eva Marie Saint is older than the Empire State Building, Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Barbra Walters, Christopher Plummer and Anne Frank were all born in the same year.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show toured Germany and Austria in 1906 — when Adolf Hitler was 17 years old.

William Shakespeare and Pocahontas were contemporaries.

But my absolute favourite is:

According to The Economist, the median age of all the humans on our planet is 28 years– which means that half the people on Earth were born after the first episode of The Simpsons!

Playboy Changed The World

vargasNow that Playboy magazine has renounced nudity, it’s become an easy target — a misogynist relic of the 20th century — more silicon than substance.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.   Like most people, I don’t actually read Playboy anymore, so I’m in no position to judge.  However, I do know this.  If you’re over 35 and not dead, you’re part of the massive impact Playboy has on our society.

Take a look:

The Playboy Interviews read like a history book of our times:

Malcolm X, Jimmy Hoffa, Federico Fellini, Fidel Castro, Orson Welles, Ralph Nader, Marshall McLuhan, Ray Charles, Germaine Greer, Tennessee Williams, Jimmy Carter, Barbara Streisand, David Frost, Marlon Brando, G. Gordon Liddy, Lech Walesa, Ansel Adams, Jesse Jackson, Carl Bernstein, Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, Yasser Arafat, Donald Trump, Martin Scorsese, Michael Jordan, Salman Rushdie and on and on and on.

In one single year, 1964, Playboy interviewed Vladimir Nabokov, Ayn Rand, Jean Genet, Ingmar Bergman and Salvador Dali.  And Playboy didn’t just follow what was trending; it tried to understand.  It interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965; Timothy Leary, when mainstream drug use was a brand new phenom in ’66 and Steve Jobs, immediately after getting booted out of Apple in 1985.  Plus, Playboy took some chances, like sending Alex Haley, the author of Roots, to interview George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party.

Yes, Alex Haley wrote for Playboy and so did Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson and Gore Vidal.  There were others too, but the list of fiction writers is even more overwhelming:

Joseph Heller, Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Ray Bradbury, Bharati Mukherjee, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, Ursula Le Guin, Martin Amis and, once again, on and on — including four Nobel Prize winners: Saul Bellow, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Doris Lessing.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the boobs, Playboy would be considered a literary magazine — one of the best.

But what about those boobs?

Some of the most beautiful women in the world have voluntarily taken their clothes off for Playboy:

Farrah Fawcett, Olivia Munn, Robin Givens, Katarina Witt, Ursula Andress, Tia Carrere, Kim Basinger, Elle Macpherson, Kate Moss, Catherine Deneuve, Shari Belafonte and Raquel Welch among many, many others.  The numbers alone take Playboy pictorials beyond sleazy.  Besides, is there any great distance between Charlize Theron and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” or Naomi Campbell and Goya’s “The Nude Maja?”  Argue all you want about objectifying women, but if you want a lesson in that go to the pages of Vogue or Fashion or Harper’s Bazaar.  Rhetorically speaking, is a pouting, uber-skinny supermodel a more acceptable female image?  Or is it just that she’s covered up their naughty bits?

At 62, Playboy magazine is old and grey and nodding by the fire.  In a one-click universe where the most outrageous porno is at your fingertips and few people are willing to wade through serious pages of unbroken prose, Playboy is passé.  Eventually, it will dissolve into history — the history it helped shape.  Like it or not, Playboy changed the world — no doubt.  But, mostly, it let us be adults about sex and it single-handedly transformed sexuality from Downtown smut to Uptown sophistication.  It made smart sexy, and that’s what made Playboy cool.