Difference between revisions of "1979: History"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
(Explanation: typo)
m (Explanation)
Line 8: Line 8:
  
 
==Explanation==
 
==Explanation==
{{incomplete|Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.}}
+
{{incomplete|Needs to be expanded, and explain the title text. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.}}
  
 
This comic quotes a [https://www.newspapers.com/clip/19134214/httpswwwxkcdcom1979/|a lengthy section of the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph's September 30, 1881 issue]. The tragic event referenced throughout is the assassination of President James A. Garfield. Interestingly, the article is about how closely studied the incident will or will not be in the future. Garfield's assassination is rarely more than a quick note in a history class, leaving only the "dry and tedious" historians to comb through the details.
 
This comic quotes a [https://www.newspapers.com/clip/19134214/httpswwwxkcdcom1979/|a lengthy section of the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph's September 30, 1881 issue]. The tragic event referenced throughout is the assassination of President James A. Garfield. Interestingly, the article is about how closely studied the incident will or will not be in the future. Garfield's assassination is rarely more than a quick note in a history class, leaving only the "dry and tedious" historians to comb through the details.

Revision as of 10:11, 11 April 2018

History
HISTORIANS: We've decided to trim the past down to make things more manageable. Using BCE/CE, would you rather we lose the odd-numbered or even-numbered years?
Title text: HISTORIANS: We've decided to trim the past down to make things more manageable. Using BCE/CE, would you rather we lose the odd-numbered or even-numbered years?

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs to be expanded, and explain the title text. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic quotes a lengthy section of the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph's September 30, 1881 issue. The tragic event referenced throughout is the assassination of President James A. Garfield. Interestingly, the article is about how closely studied the incident will or will not be in the future. Garfield's assassination is rarely more than a quick note in a history class, leaving only the "dry and tedious" historians to comb through the details.

The punchline comes from not how insignificant this assassination has come to be viewed, but from Megan and Cueball being baffled by the sheer scope of information contained in the past.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.


comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

Heh. I accidentally misread the line, so I thought it said: "I honestly have enough trouble with just the president". Linker (talk) 11:48, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

Same here. Then I thought "What the heck?" and read the last line again. Lol. Herobrine (talk) 13:20, 11 April 2018 (UTC)
And same here, lol! I was actually wondering about what the possible motivations could have been to use Megan as the character to say that. Then I read it again :D 162.158.255.172 14:26, 11 April 2018 (UTC)
Considering Randall's opinion on Trump, it made a little sense. But he hasn't ever attacked him directly.Linker (talk) 15:22, 11 April 2018 (UTC)
It's a reach, but it's POSSIBLE this was the intention. Planting the seed by talking about a president, then a comment closely resembling "I honestly have enough trouble just with the president". It may have garnered the intended response. 162.158.255.172 14:04, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

I only make comments, and let others figure out how to edit it into the above. I once read someplace that there is a reasonable limit to accurate historical research at about 3 centuries- events more than 300 years in the past become more mythological than factual, and events more than 500 years in the past are so remote that we can't even begin to understand the culture in which they occurred. While there are famous exceptions to this rule, they occur entirely in the realms of either archaeology or theology and religion, not in the science of history.Seebert (talk) 13:32, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

What is "accurate historical research"? No scientist would use those words. And a historian as an expert - let's say of the Roman Empire or the medieval - would strictly disagree. --Dgbrt (talk) 15:12, 11 April 2018 (UTC)
Even shorter periods of time. There were a lot of changes in the twentieth century. I was born in 1960. At that time, there were people alive before the automobile, powered airflight, the telephone. How about photocopiers which really got going in the 1970s? Can any of you younger people understand not being able to photocopy something? Then, there are the developments in computers and mobile phones.
On a USENET newgroup that I follow -- alt.talk.royalty -- there is one monarchist who posts a series of posts on Queen Elizabeth II. Sort of. He takes the current length of her reign and goes back that far before it (less a day, I think). He then describes the world at that time and finishes with "Consider all the changes, natural and manmade, visited upon the world in all the time since. And now consider this...Queen Elizabeth II has been on the Throne for MOST of that time since then." Twice her reign length from present time is now in the 1880s. A very different world.
108.162.216.220 15:16, 11 April 2018 (UTC) Gene Wirchenko [email protected]

My maternal grandfather was born in 1873. When I was a child, he told me glorious stories about living in a log cabin in Michigan as a child, riding his penny-farthing bicycle as a teenager, and moving to a boomtown called Venice (CA) in the 1920s. He was 30 when the Wright Brothers made their first flight, and he wound up manufacturing aircraft parts during WWII. 172.68.54.106 08:36, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

The link to the actual page of the paper is fantastic - especially the ads along the right side - "Anti-Morbific, the Great Liver and Kidney Remedy" and "Trash's Magnetic Ointment". So, a question - there's no by-line. Is there any way to figure out who wrote this? I assume maybe multiple people, like and editorial board? DanB (talk) 13:36, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

Regarding the link to the actual page of the paper, the article immediately after it talks about a discussion over the tariffs on whiskey, beer, and tobacco covering the differences of opinion within the Democrat and Republican parties and protectionism vs free trade and producers vs consumers concluding that the tax is good because it could be used to pay down the national debt and finance national education initiatives. Despite burgeoning taxes the speculated benefits never arrived. We deceive ourselves if we believe that the discussions we have today were never debated before. The debate is eternal and the promised goods are never delivered. Rtanenbaum (talk) 21:15, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

I think this comic is referencing how so many people are commenting on how unprecedented Trump’s presidency has been, how it’ll be the sort of think future students will read about in history classes, and overall how dramatic it is, like you’d find unbelievable, even in a movie. This comic is commenting on how people in the moment often think that way, yet Trump’ll likely be a footnote in 200 years too. PotatoGod (talk) 19:24, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

I need to comment, but I'll do my best to temper it a bit. I think it's a stretch to think this is saying anything about Trump. It seems like this comic is just a reflection on how difficult it is to ever have a complete and thorough account of everything that happens in the history of our world. The best we can hope for is a summary of the general facts, but that will always omit important details - as it says, history is BIG! In summary, can we not make every comic about Trump, please? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 20:43, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

There is an erroneous period at the end of the first line of the last paragraph: "...the present. period may...". I added the period to the transcript, but I'm not sure if the local policy is to include "[sic]" in the transcript, to note that in an "errors" section, etc. I'd invite someone who knows the policy to edit the page accordingly. --172.69.69.46 20:50, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

Seems to me like most of the major events in history classes (at least the events I can remember the year of) happened on even years: 1066, 1492, 1776, 1812, ... 162.158.79.251 23:29, 11 April 2018 (UTC)


Second lesson

I think, there is a second lesson in this strip: We tend to massively overestimate the importance of current events, and Americans specifically tend to overestimate the importance of their presidents. Today, Garfield is just a cartoon character one of many presidents, in 100 years Kennedy will also be seen as just one of even more presidents, and one day, even 9/11 will be only something that happened sometime in the distant past.

In other words: Not only is history bigger than we think, we also tend to exaggerate the importance of current events. --141.101.77.170 12:51, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

Conkling vs Garfield

Quoting the current version of the article:

For example, it cites the defeat of Roscoe Conkling as a serious event that would fade in importance when compared to Garfield's assassination. Conkling was a senator in Garfield's party who resigned in protest of Garfield's policies, then failed to achieve re-election; contrary to the writer's belief, both these events have faded into roughly the same level of obscurity.

I'm going to disagree that Conkling's defeat & Garfield's assassination are events at the same level of obscurity. First off, Garfield is at least mentioned on lists of U.S. presidents and lists of presidents who were assassinated. This type of material is available in, for example, pretty much every U.S. elementary school. I believe I've got a placemat with Garfield's name, face, and dates (along with those of all the other U.S. presidents) in my kitchen at this very moment. Kids love it . . .

Meanwhile, Conkling's name is not widely known at all even in the U.S. and his re-election defeat is not even mentioned in the top-line summary of his Wikipedia article (it's way down in the detail section halfway through the article, but doesn't make the article summary). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscoe_Conkling

I don't know how you objectively measure the prominence of one historical character or event over another, but just for example Garfield's wikipedia article is about 4X as long as Conkling's. And mentions the assassination in the very first sentence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield

172.68.150.52 14:18, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

The number of Google searches might also be a useful indicator https://trends.google.de/trends/explore?date=all&q=%2Fm%2F0b22w,%2Fm%2F03x0cd 162.158.88.68 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Aha, yeah. That puts the Garfield/Conkling ratio at 34/2 over about 14 years of Google searches. So Garfield is searched for roughly 17X as often as Conkling.
Abraham Lincoln compared with Garfield comes out as 37/1. So Garfield is indeed far more obscure than Lincoln, but Conkling is more obscure yet, according to the Google searches. 172.68.150.52 21:54, 16 April 2018 (UTC)


Boldface?

Can anyone speculate on what Randall was trying to achieve with the selective use of boldfaced text in the comic? JohnHawkinson (talk) 16:41, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

Interesting question. I've entered it into the incomplete reason. --Dgbrt (talk) 17:25, 12 April 2018 (UTC)
I believe it's Randall's way of providing a "TL;DR" version, that anyone not inclined to read that entire (rather large) block of text can just read the bold parts to grasp the gist of what the article, and by extension Randall, is trying to say (I DO feel like if someone only reads the bold text, they'll get the point of the article, at least the part that's striking Randall/Megan). NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:16, 13 April 2018 (UTC)