On his deathbead, Copernicus published the book that founded modern astronomy.
Three centuries before, Arab scientists Mu’ayyad al-Din al-‘Urdi and Nasir al-Din had come up with the theorems crucial to that development. Copernicus used their theorems but did not cite the source.
Europe looked in the mirror and saw the world.
Beyond that lay nothing.
The three inventions that made the Renaissance possible, the compass, gunpowder, and the printing press, came from China. The Babylonians scooped Pythagoras by fifteen hundred years. Long before anyone else, Indians knew the world was round and had calculated its age. And better than anyone else, the Mayans knew the stars, eyes of the night, and the mysteries of time.
Such details were not worthy of Europe’s attention.
I just went to look something up in an actual dictionary, something I haven’t done in a while, and here’s what I learned:
Hollywood, as a noun describing the American motion-picture industry, came into usage in 1923. A mere 5 years later, in 1928, it became an adjective as well, representing a certain lifestyle or a type of ending. Didn’t take long, did it?
Usually I use merriam-websterunabridged.com, a trusted source to be sure, but I forget the joy of flipping through a dictionary and letting your eyes settle random words on random pages.
“Google is so strange. It promises everything, but everything isn’t there. You type in the words for what you need, and what you need becomes superfluous in an instant, shadowed instantaneously by the things you really need, and none of them answerable by Google… But the charm is a kind of deception about a whole new way of feeling lonely, a semblance of plenitude but really a new level of Dante’s inferno, a zombie-filled cemetery of spurious clues, beauty, pathos, pain, the faces of puppies, women and men from all over the world tied up and wanked over in site after site, a great sea of hidden shadows.”—
The unemployment rate in Bouazizi’s hometown is upwards of 30%. Like most of his fellow Tunisians — those without personal connections to the country’s long running dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — Bouazizi survived by doing odd jobs for a few dollars a day. Yet at every point in his young life, as he struggled to scrape a living out of the most menial and dehumanizing work, Bouazizi was confronted with the stark nepotism of Tunisian society, the rank corruption of government employees, and the hard fact that there wasn’t, and would never be, anything to do about it.
That final thought — that this was the way of the world, that it could not be otherwise — must have gone through Bouazizi’s mind when the policewoman approached him on the dusty streets of this impoverished town, 190 miles (300 km) south of the capital Tunis, and asked to see his license to operate the produce stand. In Tunisia, as in much of the Arab world, “license” is code for bakhsheesh. Bribe. What the policewoman meant was that she had not yet been paid to look the other way as young Bouazizi peddled his overripe fruits and vegetables for a few pennies each.
If all of these types of sports were available for watching at the same time, this is the order I’d watch them in. I had to learn this the hard way, when Women’s World Cup, Wimbledon, and Red Sox were all happening at the same time. And if it’s not listed here, I don’t really care about it. Does that make me a bad sports fan?
So, why does it seem like it’s always real estate issues that force local businesses to close? Do people automatically become greedy assholes when they become landlords? Can all they see is potential-for-more-money and not cultural-value-of-existing-institutions? I know that a gentrifying neighborhood isn’t always a bad place for a bookstore to be, but it still kind of sucks. Why can’t cool people be owners of buildings? Building changes hands, local businesses close. The equation is way too common.