June 16, 2001
I recently realized something. I tend divide history into two sections: everything that happened before my conception, and everything that happened after. And I don't let myself really criticize anything that happened before, since it might have ended up with "me" having never been here in the universe... my parents' choices of schooling and careers? Great! My dad's background in downstate Ohio? Cool! The Bay of Pigs invasion? Fine by me! Great big honking tailfins on cars in the 1950s? Super! The mongol hoards sweeping across Eastern Europe? Let 'em at 'em! I just don't know what tiny tiny factors may have resulted in my unbeing, caused some ancestor of mine to have acted just a little bit differently, and thus launched a never ending cascade of differences from the timeline that produced me.
I know this is not an entirely reasonable viewpoint, though it goes along with my materialist viewpoint on the nature of consciousness.
Update: Talking with Ranjit, we figured that maybe it's not criticism per se that I can't do (as he points out "if one object of learning from history is to avoid repeating it, you have to feel free to criticize it"), but I have to make a distinction between criticizing, and actually wishing it had been otherwise.
Quote of the Moment
"Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied."
News Link of the Moment
Did you know Angelina Jolie wears a vial of her husband Billy Bob Thornton's blood? Very romantic, but really creepy.