Lion of the Blogosphere

Our nation’s declining capabilities

According to this Wikipeda article, in just six years, between 1863 and 1869, a 1,912-mile railroad line was built to connect the east-coast rail network to California. And they had to deal with stuff that we don’t have to deal with today, like massive buffalo herds and hostile Indian tribes.

Not that I’m saying that California needs a high-speed rail line (they probably don’t), but if they wanted to build one, then it’s pretty pathetic that it took 11 years to study a 450-mile-long line, less than one-quarter of what was built in the 1860s, and then scrap the project.

We used to be a nation that got stuff done, but today we can’t do anything despite having huge technological advantages compared to the 1860s.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 14, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Economics

74 Responses

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  1. We’re a declining country. We hit the peak at the moon landing and it’s been downhill ever since.

    Mike Street Station

    February 14, 2019 at EDT am

    • OK well I’m gonna be a PITA here and say that I don’t think the moon landing was the peak of our capabilities compared to what our society had the capacity to do. I think that the moon landing was to be expected. It was a great achievement but my point is that we had such capacity after WW2, so many scientists and engineers & pilots, If we hadn’t achieved this it would have been a head-scratcher.

      IMO The Hoover Dam was a greater accomplishment. It was physically much more difficult. It took more money. It was built in a killing, barren part of the desert. Can you imagine what it was like to be a high scaler on the Dam? Don’t forget these weren’t elite fighter pilots. They were just regular working stiffs.

      gothamette

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • You’re simply giving another example to my point. Do you think we could build the Hoover Dam today?

        Mike Street Station

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Speaking of the Hoover Dam, 96 workers died in its construction. The first of these deaths and the last of these deaths occurred 13 years to the day apart, and were father and son.

        Peter

        ironrailsironweights

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • No we could not. I’m simply saying that I think the Hoover Dam represented a higher level of engineering skill and sophistication relative to the rest of society. It was a truly remarkable feat. I don’t think the moon landing was as remarkable.

        But I’m a weirdo.

        gothamette

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • The Hoover Dam was competed two years ahead of schedule and under budget, during the Great Depression. It might as well be from a sci-fi novel.

        njguy73

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Another Hoover Dam fan!

        gothamette

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

    • but who isn’t?

      the whole idea of a new world country is dumb, but i’m old enough to remember when americans feared japan would eat their lunch. now it’s the chinese. but despite their probably higher visuo-spatial IQ, mongos are un-impressive people and the chinese will likely never even make it to japan level.

      and the EU is “dead man walking”. re-creating the carolingian empire is impossible. and the fact that euro countries have “hate speech” laws means their leaders are DUMB.

      the whole world is slouching toward mediocrity or just imbecility.

      mustard in my slacks

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • We are a declining country because our institutions denounce and attack our greatest minds, those of young white men.

      Then they fund scientists to figure out newer, faster ways to get a lot of fried chicken into the bellies of fat NAMs whose medical bills are shouldered by white and Asian taxpayers, while other scientists work tirelessly, valiantly to prolong their slow, graceless deaths.

      From improving fuel economy, to scheduling algorithms, to food preservatives, to heart stents… what purpose would our civilization serve without fat NAMs eating fried chicken to the point of heart failure? Think of how proud our ancestors would be.

      Lowe

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • We hit the peak at the moon landing and it’s been downhill ever since.

      The success of 1960s US space program was largely due to a few sassy middle-age black women that were good at arithmetic. For high speed rail to be successful in the US, it will need more sassy middle-age black women.

      enwurd

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  2. The government land grant railroads were total boondoggles back then, too. Most of them had to be ripped up and rebuilt correctly.

    bobbybobbob

    February 14, 2019 at EDT am

    • Yes, there was no market-based justification for the construction of cross-country rail lines at that time. The railroads made money by laying down inferior track for federal subsidies and selling nearly worthless land to unsuspecting immigrants hoping to farm there, which was hopeless given the aridity of the region.

      ice hole

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  3. The US Department of Defense literally forgot the process how to manufacture FOGBANK, a classified material vital in the production of nuclear warheads.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOGBANK

    https://inmilitary.com/lost-technology-a-weapon-so-classified-even-the-us-government-forgot-it-existed/

    https://www.weeklystandard.com/jonathan-v-last/the-fog-of-war

    Oswald Spengler

    February 14, 2019 at EDT am

  4. The US has become like India in terms of being a “permit raj”. You need so many permits and such to do anything. In Connecticut, it is particularly crazy because there are 169 separate towns, all with their own zoning boards and such. Two highways (15 & 7) don’t have a full interchange in Norwalk and they’ve never been able to complete the interchange because of environmentalists complaining about a handful of trees, judges issuing injunctions and all the other crap.

    I’d imagine California is really difficult to get all the permits, lawsuits, etc.

    GMR

    February 14, 2019 at EDT am

    • Wait till the states start enforcing interstate online sales tax. That’ll show you how pleasant America is with its draconian/byzantine measures in every facet of your life, adding to the multicult and diversity toxicity of humans, let alone the different policies/tax laws/regulations concerning each state and local gov’ts.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  5. Bruce Charlton has argued that human civilization peaked or plateaued around 1975 (with the end of the Apollo space program), and has since been in slow decline since then. He attributes this loss of capability not to a decline in technology as such, but to an increasing lack of expertise, organizations choked with bureaucracy, and affirmative action leading to promotion of the most “diverse” candidate not the best qualified individuals.

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/06/human-capability-peaked-about-1975-and.html

    I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75 – at the time of the Apollo moon landings – and has been declining ever since.

    This may sound bizarre or just plain false, but the argument is simple. That landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achievement of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans. 40 years ago we could do it – repeatedly – but since then we have *not* been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability.

    Of course, the standard line is that humans stopped going to the moon only because we no longer *wanted* to go to the moon, or could not afford to, or something…– but I am suggesting that all this is BS, merely excuses for not doing something which we *cannot* do.

    It is as if an eighty year old ex-professional-cyclist was to claim that the reason he had stopped competing in the Tour de France was that he had now had found better ways to spend his time and money. It may be true; but does not disguise the fact that an 80 year old could not compete in international cycling races even if he wanted to.

    Human capability partly depends on technology. A big task requires a variety of appropriate and interlocking technologies – the absence of any one vital technology would prevent attainment. I presume that technology has continued to improve since 1975 – so technological decline is not likely to be the reason for failure of capability….

    Oswald Spengler

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • His claims are supported by all the economic evidence (read Robert Gordon) that the rate of innovation and productivity growth in the period from the late 1970s to today was far below that of the period from the early Depression till the mid 1970s. Neither a total collapse of the normal economy nor a devastating world war stopped the US from making big, world changing innovations that dwarf the puny gains over the last 40 years. The personal computer and the internet are the big exceptions and they have done much less to change lives for the better than jet planes, the interstate highway, penicillin, the polio vaccine, the Green Revolution, the first computers and electronic calculators, TV, tape, transistors, integrated chips, synthetics, etc. When I was dreaming of the what the future would hold in the late 1970s, I never imagined that 2019 would be so pathetic in terms of technology and social policy.

      ivan1917

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • This is a contentious area. I would argue that the internet and mobile phones have completely transformed the way we live, and their value to society is nowhere near being accurately measured by the data for national output and income. I completely agree that developed economies are becoming less dynamic and less productive due to excessive regulation, various demographic changes in the work force, the massive growth of non-jobs in the private and public sectors, etc etc. But I think the US is still head and shoulders above the rest. (And one reason you can’t build railways any more is simply because they aren’t wanted; they’re outdated technology and will be superseded fairly soon by autonomous vehicles. The development of AVs demonstrates that the US is still an innovative powerhouse.)

        lioncub

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Who is going to develop all these autonomous vehicles? The white people who were going to pioneer these innovations were never born. The future Elon Musk talks about isn’t coming.

        Lowe

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

      • Foreigners in science fields. That is the cause of decline.

        map

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  6. This is an understudied phenomenon. Most people assume it has something to do with legal regulations, especially environmental ones.

    Jokah Macpherson

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  7. It’s nothing, but costly disease:

    The value transference parasite needs to feed its share or else NOooo projects are to be completed.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • O/t but related – The Amazonian Jungle is not being grown in Long Island City.

      I think the protests from the NAMs in the nearby housing projects is what drove the last nail in the coffin.

      The headquarters isn’t a warehouse for low IQ individuals to put packing tape on shipping boxes.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • I didn’t see your post and wrote about the same thing lower down.

        It’s a perfect example of leftist idiocity. Bezos is already harassed by leftists in his home town of Seattle.

        Frau Katze

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

      • Bozo is a leftist, and all the power players involved with this Amazonian deal are leftists. It was leftists Cuomo and De Blasio working in tandem to bring Amazon into the fold with Long Island City. Equally formidable, were leftists in disagreement who ensured this would never come into fruition.

        The real underlying issue isn’t about the loss of economic development or job creation, or a loss of tax revenue. It’s about race and how to do these different camps of leftoids deal with NAMs.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

      • Bezos is not a leftists if he doesn’t want his company unionized. He might be socially left, but not economically,

        Frau Katze

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

      • “Bezos is not a leftists if he doesn’t want his company unionized. He might be socially left, but not economically”

        He’s pretty far left. However like most leftist businessmen, he doesn’t let that interfere with making lots of money. I’ve no doubt he loves unions…in other companies that are not his.

        Mike Street Station

        February 16, 2019 at EDT am

  8. I hate to say it, but this is one of the benefits of totalitarianism. China is run by gangsters, but they get things done. Regarding high speed rail, check out this eye-opener from Fred Reed:

    https://fredoneverything.org/cheng-two-more-notes-on-two-weeks-in-china/

    Brendan

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • High speed rail loses money hand over fist all over the world. It’s a government boondoggle absolutely everywhere. People visit somewhere and think the trains are a great accomplishment, when in reality they’re cash furnaces.

      In a few select routes in the USA there should be extremely reliable old-fashioned inter-city train service that goes pretty fast. The problem in the NE corridor is not really lack of high speed rail; it’s that the trains are very often late. It’s not a high tech problem, just mismanagement.

      Air travel and bus lanes make vastly more sense in most cases. There should be more small airports, and they should be efficient enough that you can show up twenty minutes before departure without worrying about it. They should be able to get your checked bags to the carousel in less than fifteen minutes, too.

      Congested commuter highways and interstates should have a lane separated off for passenger bus travel only. Bus rapid transit and intercity bus service makes more sense in almost all the cases where people are calling for light-rail or rail.

      bobbybobbob

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Dedicated bus lanes are something a major, congested American city should seriously consider trying on a large scale. Take Queens, New York City, for instance. The challenge would be to carve out routes devoted solely to buses, off the current traffic grid as to avoid stop lights. We won’t need rail, or electrification, just a slim bit of road that only buses could travel on Couldn’t elevated lines be built, at a fraction of the cost of elevated rail, owing to the simplicity of the traffic and technology, and the lesser weight to bear? For starts, I can imagine a line traversing Northern Blvd, from the 59th street bridge all the way out to Long Island. The bus stopping every 10 blocks. Just need the will to execute.

        Daniel Heneghan

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • The bus rapid transit system in Bogota has been a slam dunk. They did exactly what you describe with elevated lanes as needed and avoiding traffic signals.

        Modern diesel buses are simply far more energy and capital efficient, and more flexible than anything you can do with rail. The rail fixation is really based in irrational nostalgia, not hard nosed accounting.

        There are companies now producing buses with sophisticated digitally controlled active suspension so the ride is glassy smooth. There are a couple routes operating between SF and LA with sleepers, at very cheap prices. You get a curtained off private bunk on a smooth ride and wake up at your destination. It’s just a matter of enabling these sorts of private operators to drive even faster and have better terminal facilities.

        bobbybobbob

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

      • High speed rail should in principle be economically viable of routes of the right length (to compete with short-haul flights) and high traffic (able to sustain, say, ten trains an hour for several hours a day). There are almost no routes in the world that meet those criteria. Tokyo-Osaka is one such. I imagine there are probably some in China.

        Peregrino Nuzkwamia

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

    • …this is one of the benefits of totalitarianism.

      Plenty of totalitarian regimes got nothing done or went backwards.

      There is more involved: national character; leadership ethos; incentives; etc.

      bomag

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  9. In the past, Canada we built the highways and railroads and many giant hydro electric dams. Today we can’t do a damn thing without aboriginals and greens blocking everything in court.

    Rosenmops

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • The great Canadian railroad trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot is one of my favorite songs.

      I guess it would be considered racist and cultural appropriation now.

      gothamette

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • We are not technically unable to build these things. But a large fraction of our population is suffering from inability to see reality.

      An excellent example (from the US, but similar arguments hold): Amazon has backed out of its plan to open a large complex in or near New York City.

      The leftists in New York state then began acting in character: screaming and yelling about Amazon not being unionized, about being evil in general because all companies are evil, about tax breaks offered to entice Amazon to NYC.

      You might ask, why did Amazon want to open in such a hostile place as NYC? This was not going to be a mere distribution centre. Bezos has big plans and he required a place with lots of tech workers.

      He cannot use illegal Mexicans or diversity hires to do anything significant. Apparently the leftists of Seattle are already harassing him, rather than being happy to have such a company in their city.

      Leftists really thinks money grows on trees, no joke, Just look at the Green New Deal.

      Frau Katze

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  10. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone commented that the Chinese will colonize the solar system, and the U.S. will still be squabbling over the design of transgendered bathrooms.

    Jimmy Ellis

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Ya but US embassy will have a line out the door trying to immigrate here but nobody wants to migrate to China.

      mpt

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • Because China won’t let them, not because people don’t want to. I don’t think you really understand what is going on in the world right now. Almost every country that can feed its people will have endless line of potential immigrants, this is even including developing countries like Thailand or Colombia because there are so many poorer people in their close vicinity.

        Hashed

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • If another civilization makes that kind of technical breakthrough, they will probably wipe out all competitors in order to optimize terrestrial production in the early colonization phase. In the best of circumstances the smarter westerners will be operation paperclipped into China to work on solar colonization projects.

      Issac

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • They aren’t as competent as you think. If you saw what their 2nd-tier cities and below are like, you wouldn’t be as worried.

      Perturabo

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • I think I said that, although I don’t preclude others saying it as well. It seems obvious enough that multiple people could have thought that up.

      Mike Street Station

      February 16, 2019 at EDT am

  11. There was a lot of corruption and financial chicanery involved in building the railroads. And they were largely built by hand by importing masses of cheap labor from China and elsewhere.

    Tom

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Yes but they managed to do it. Same in Canada. It was quite a technically demanding task to build railways in the mountainous west of North America.

      Frau Katze

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  12. The construction of the transcontinental tailroad was almost a giant boondoggle. Most of the early railroads were built by people who had no interest in operating a railroad. They just took the government money and land grants, overpaid themselves for the construction and then let the resulting railroad go bankrupt.

    What drove the building of the trans continental railroad was California. California became a state in 1850. Gold was discovered in 1848. In the 1850s the only way to get to California was the long overland route that could take months or by ship around South America. People in California felt separated from the US and wanted a faster way of travel and shipping to connect them to the rest of the country. The railroad company that got the contract to build west starting from Council Bluffs, Iowa thought the whole project was a boondoggle because looking west they saw just barren desert and could not imagine any customers for a railroad going west. It was not until they learned that construction was underway over the Sierras at Donner Summit that they started serious effort to build the line west. In California the business men knew they had a market for a railroad going east if they could get it built.

    MikeCA

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • but why did cali become world hq for the globo-homo-gay-plex?

      inside a dog it's too dark to read.

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • …world hq for the globo-homo-gay-plex?

        Cali was positioned to become wealthy; wealthy areas tend to become decadent.

        bomag

        February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  13. Dan

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • I’m not sure if most of these Republicans in Congress are snakes are just exceedingly stupid.

      Dan

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

      • an evil person has a low moral IQ.

        strike & mike

        February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • This piece is essential reading. The cucks are in the chicken coop. The cucks are a bigger problem than the Democrats.

      Daniel Heneghan

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  14. Can’t get stuff done? Believe me we’re not too bad compared to the rest of the world. Case in point, Airbus just announced end of production of A380s their high profile superjumbos due to a lack of demand. Doesn’t say much for European industry if they can’t even forecast demand for a project of such high caliber. Say what you want about US capabilities, our industry still has more foresight than the rest of the world combined.

    Armando

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  15. It’s just as bad, if not worse, in Europe. The one thing that the EU leads the world in is incompetent bureaucracy and regulation, hence the continent’s progressive economic decline.

    lioncub

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  16. On the same note, Airbus has just decided to end production of the A380, the biggest and possibly one of the most technologically advanced civilian airliners in human history.

    PrinzEugen

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • A350 is more efficient and going to get most of can celled orders. A380 lasted longer than its usefulness. A350 and B787 are much more fuel efficient

      mpt

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  17. All great projects in the history of the United States were completed by white men, who are publicly denounced, mocked, and legally discriminated against, in the modern era. Talented white boys from the middle and lower class are ignored, even discouraged from competing with precious minorities.

    Many of the rich and influential badmouth white men publicly, and demonstrably care more about Africans and Middle Easterners than the poor of their own country and race. Why is it any surprise that we accomplish nothing?

    Accomplishing anything of significance would require an ideologically shift that would take decades at minimum, but at this point centuries is more likely, because the demographic transition to Latin American socialist state is almost irreversible, and once past that American society will be even more stagnant.

    Lowe

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Yes, it’s like depriving young boys of West African ancestry of adequate nutrition and opportunities for exercise while growing up, telling them from as early an age as they can remember that their dominance in sprinting is an unearned privilege and they have unfairly excluded other races from sports involving fast-twitch muscle action, that they’re evil oppressors for doing so, that it’s long past time for them to step aside and fade Into oblivion and allow other races a chance to compete in these sports, deny them places on track and field team rosters to give preference to Asians… and then wondering why 100m dash times are slower than they used to be.

      Hermes

      February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  18. Měiguó rén shì wúnéng de báichī

    That’s Mandarin for “Americans are incompetent idiots”

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  19. another example is the empire state building vs the freedom towers.

    and it can’t be blamed on the mafia…which was much bigger in the 30s.

    strike & mike

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  20. Or take the Golden Gate bridge as another example, it was build in a mere five years between 1933 and 1937, on time and budget, still using horses and hand rulers, but the eastern span replacement of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge took twice that time to complete, from 2002 to 2013, with a final price tag of $6.5 billion, a 2,500% cost overrun from the original estimate of $250 million, and they had to import Chinese welding experts to even make that deadline!

    guest

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  21. the US can still be a shining city on a hill. it is still “the last best best hope for mankind”…

    enough would be a great president who would…

    1. re-iterate that the the US isn’t only about freedom (including economic freedom), but also about equality of opportunity, and also about equality full stop.

    2. re-iterate that the US is european… and those non-europeans who would make their home here must take up european ways. and those non-europeans who were forced to make their home here must stop bitching or be sent back…liberia is not a nice place.

    there’s so much hang-over from the cold war no one remembers how the US used to be the world’s most “socialist” country.

    the john birch society and the kochs are just as red and treasonous as trotsky…had trotsky actually ever had any effect in les etats unis.

    choose econ ideology over family and you've chosen decline and death.

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  22. Numbersusa says the bill is awful :

    https://www.numbersusa.com/news/numbersusa-opposes-budget-deal-advocates-continuing-resolution

    Looks republican who made the deal were treasonous

    Bruno

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  23. Trump to build wall from military emergency?
    https://beinglibertarian.com/trump-declare-emergency-border-wall/

    The Old Libertarian

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  24. Why so much whining? I think most of you could benefit from some sort of an intensive reeducation camp program.

    My 2¢

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • …an intensive reeducation camp program.

      LOL

      We’ve all been through one, but reality keeps smacking us in the face.

      bomag

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  25. Smollet update! Police are now investigating if it was a staged attack. Motive was to put himself in the spotlight because he was getting written off empire.

    Alex

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  26. Give the president line item Veto and shit will change for the better.

    Moldbug

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  27. Someone should check and see if there’s any long-term correlation between the increase or decline in our nation’s capabilities and the proportion of white people in the population at large, or of white men in the workforce.

    Blue Tribe Dissident

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

    • In our age of technology and forthcoming automation, humans are useless with no useful purpose. black americans are already seen as obsolete, now that we import millions of immigrants from Latin America and Asia, who are replacing them in the labor force. The average White American is just a consumption sheep entrenched in monetary rewards, with no particular usefulness in the higher order of things.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      February 15, 2019 at EDT am

  28. It’s Leftism. Before about 1960 both the Left and Right were Progressives. But around that time the Left turned against progress and began emphasizing environmentalism and universalist morality above all.

    CamelCaseRob

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  29. Just look at the Bronx Zoo – after all the polar bears died they aren’t being replaced with new ones! This tells it all.

    Yakov

    February 14, 2019 at EDT pm

  30. Somewhat related-
    I have long thought that USA 1940-1970 will be remembered as one of the historically great civilizations (like Ancient Greece, Renaissance Florence, etc). Partially through its own competence, partially through lucky circumstance.

    Lucky circumstance? We defeated Hitler. Hitler will go down as one of history’s monsters (like Attila the Hun, or Genghis Khan) in a way that Napoleon won’t. And America defeated him. I realize that America didn’t defeat him alone (or even the most: the Russians get credit for that). But America was a democracy, and Russia was an Autocracy (and Britain was a declining Aristocracy). If WWII were against a conventional enemy (say, the Kaiser II) it wouldn’t be as memorable.

    Our own competence? We developed the atom bomb (and the rest of the world didn’t). We dominated the entire globe-dominated the Pacific, invaded and reconquered Western Europe. We created the technological present in a way that Great Britain and Russia didn’t.

    And then what happened? The Cold War, against the last old-school centralized State (Russia)-and we won.
    And then what happened? The moon landing-one of the two or three most significant events in human history (maybe Gutenberg Press, the Atom Bomb, and maybe-maybe-the Internet are among the others). And we did it.

    All in thirty years.

    Most people don’t know, but the Golden Age of Ancient Greece was a similar miniscule stretch of time. All those names you’ve heard of? Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, even Alexander the Great? They were around at the same time. Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates knew each other. Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great. There is this vague sense that since Ancient Greece was 2400 years ago, there must have been a bunch of accomplishments, spread out over hundreds of years. Not the case. Basically, one generation of greatness, then thousands of years of mediocrity.

    Same thing with Renaissance Florence. (same thing with classical music. A remarkable number of the names you’ve heard of but don’t really know were around at basically the same time in Vienna over a 40 year stretch).

    Its almost as if the Western World peaked in 1945-1968, and Americans were fortunate enough to be that peak.

    Obviously, my argument isn’t purely technological (it includes the will to win the Cold War and fight WW2, and the moral/political conditions that created the spread of democracy and end of aristocratic Europe), but it is at least tangentially related to the scientific arguments here. America was at its (and perhaps Western Civilization’s) peak 1940-1970, and its not at all surprising that that peak is gone, nor that it was so short.

    anon

    anonymousse

    February 15, 2019 at EDT am

    • Curiously enough however, the best educated Greeks of that era said the golden age was in the Mycenaean past, and the Renaissance greats looked back with the greatest respect for the early church in classical times. Mid 20th century America looked back at the Civil War era (both sides!) with the most respect.

      Anonymous Fake

      February 15, 2019 at EDT pm

  31. http://www.unz.com/article/the-rise-and-decline-of-the-west/

    “The Rise and Decline of the West”

    Book Review “At Our Wit’s End” by Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley

    By F. Roger Devlin

    “At Our Wit’s End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for Our Future”

    By Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley of Menie Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2018

    We in the West have long become accustomed to the idea that scientific and technological progress is the normal state of things, although decline—technological deterioration and loss of knowledge—is by no means uncommon across world history. The contemporary West may be declining in many ways, but what stage in our history could we point to as the summit of our scientific knowledge and technological capability if not the present? And wouldn’t it be absurd to suppose this progress has reached its completion?

    Authors Dutton and Woodley, however, would note that a civilization may pass its peak long before the sum of its achievements is complete. We may look for our greatest era not when our knowledge and capabilities were most extensive, but when they were growing most rapidly. And that point, they believe, is already well behind us….

    Oswald Spengler

    February 19, 2019 at EDT am


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