In Retrospect

This morning, after reading about the history of why the black cat is considered bad luck, I started to wonder about things.

Black Cats: In ancient Egypt, cats were regarded as spiritual creatures, and among the most exalted Goddesses was Bast, a black female cat. But in European culture, the black cat became an animal to avoid. Apparently in the Middle Ages, when ignorant peasants were convinced that witches and evil demons were living among them, cats were singled out as suspicious creatures (perhaps because of their silent, fluid movements, or the way they stare, or even their occasionally unworldly wailing). The fact that some of the woem who cared for the cats were old and grizzled – i.e., witch material – probably added to the legend. Ultimately, people came to believe that a black cat was the nighttime embodiment of a witch.


We used to burn women because another person decided that they were indeed a witch. There were never any tests run. Most of the time they didn’t even ask the young woman, “Hey, are you a witch? Do something magical and prove it.” They would just burn them or beat them or chain them up in some damp dungeon. (Actually, I made that last bit up entirely. I have no idea if this was done, but it’s what I pictured.) Sometimes, it took as little as a woman having red hair. (I’d be toast.)

At one time we thought the world was flat. To suggest otherwise, was just pure insanity. And so, a group of men from Spain decided to send some goofy bastard out to decide once and for all. While on his journey, he lands upon the the shores of an eventual America, and decides to take over a section of the world that was totally inhabited by another group of people.

At one time we thought gremlins were the cause of illness and if it wasn’t their fault, demons took the rap.

I have had these thoughts before, and I think I have even written about it before, but what I wonder is what could we be doing right now that the kids of our kids or their kids will find totally and completely bat shit crazy. It occurred to me recently we once believe slavery was A-OK. Slavery, dude. That’s insane. It’s hard to believe that not long ago, Americans deemed it acceptable to put another human being to work much like one might any animal. That blows my mind a little bit. It wasn’t even that long ago.

How will it be in 30, 40, 50 years. How will our children’s children feel about nuclear bombs? Speaking in tongues? Fast food? Strip malls? Gasoline? How will they feel about people who blow themselves up because someone told them that if they carry out an act of Allah, they will experience an eternal paradise. How will they feel about the way we bury our dead? Gay marriage? Polygamy? Abortion? How will they feel about slaughterhouses and the way we treated our animals? How will they feel about public schools, reality television, and Tom Cruise. How will they feel about prayer, two political parties and Cuba.

If you might speculate on what might in the future be deemed as totally preposterous, what might that be?


  1. Hi- I read your blog occasionally- sorry for butting in with a first time total stranger comment :)
    Your post reminded me that in Ireland there are still people who believe that if a black cat crosses your path its either bad/good luck depending on who you talk to- I am in the “good luck” category (here kitty-kitty). But my ALL TIME favourite is that it is bad luck that the first visitor to your home in a new year is a red head. My husband’s mum had a best friend who refused to let any of her kids visit my husbands house on New Years Day for this reason… he still talks about it :)


  2. How will our children’s children feel about nuclear bombs?
    Fucking scared.

    Speaking in tongues?
    Everyone will be doing it to communicate with Jeebus.

    Isn’t the supply projected to run out in like 20 years?


  3. Holy crap, Aisling! No wonder Toby Joe has had three bad years in a row. ;]
    Jonathan, just because the oil supply runs out, won’t mean it won’t be totally seen as bizarre and wasteful. That’s my point. :] They’ll be using trash (hello! Back to the Future! or olive oil or water or something. heh and wondering what the hell we were thinking. Maybe. Or maybe not. Not so deep thoughts by mihow.


  4. well, when it comes to gasoline, i’d guess, our kid’s kids will look back on it like we look back on the horse-n-buggy. see, we’ll never run out of gasoline(just like we haven’t run out of coal), we’ll just stop making it. i think it’s silly to worry about it because it’s gonna be figured out at some point, and it’s our kid’s kids who are gonna do the figuring.

    interesting michele, i’ve got the brain-pan thinking now.

    it’s strange to think about killing, we haven’t really invented any new ways of killing mass amounts of people since the fission bombs back in the 30’s-40’s. sure there’s been attempts at biological stuff, but as a planet, we’ve tried to keep that under wraps. you’d just think that in 70 years, we’d have figured out a better way to kill….i just don’t understand why we’ve been slacking : )


  5. Greg, I couldn’t agree more. It is shocking we haven’t figure that out considering we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time. I think you’re right about biological warfare. Some day they’ll be like, “Dude, you used bullets and guns? Screw that. You can take out so many more people using pure heroin or an ebola pellet.”


  6. “She turned me into a newt!”….”I got better.”


  7. I’m reminded of Paul Graham’s essay What You Can’t Say:If you believe everything you’re supposed to now, how can you be sure you wouldn’t also have believed everything you were supposed to if you had grown up among the plantation owners of the pre-Civil War South, or in Germany in the 1930s—or among the Mongols in 1200, for that matter? Odds are you would have.

    I’d like to think I couldn’t have believed slavery was okay even if I’d grown up in Mississippi in the 1830s. But when it comes down to it, I’m a wuss, and I probably wouldn’t have seriously questioned it. It would’ve lived in my mind as a cognitive dissonance, something I’d be conscious of only in occasional twinges of clarity.

    Like the cognitive dissonance I feel now about eating meat. In the future, I think virtually all meat we eat will be cultured in a lab, not grown on a self-aware being. Or so I can hope, anyway.


  8. Katie, superb link. Thank you for sharing.


  9. Lets hope folks will be shocked by reality t.v., Bush, the fact that we were convinced to ignore his first un-election,not letting Gay folks get married,SUVs,obesity,boy bands, girl bands, enigeering either live on television. Mihow, I think you need a new list!


  10. I really do think that one day folks will all be blown away with the fact that we didn’t allow gay folks to marry.
    I love making lists. Perhaps that’s a good way to enjoy my afternoon coffee jolt.


  11. There are some doomsayers who believe that the really valuable commodity of the future will be fresh water. Future generations may look back on us and marvel at the ways in which we use and abuse it. Similarly, I think our poor stewardship of the environment will be our most damning legacy and embarrasing blindness.


  12. I hope the smokers don’t take offense to this at all. I mean none whatsoever. But I could see smoking being a weird phenomenon in the distant future. You know? It does look weird, after all. Don’t you think? I dunno. Just a thought.
    Charlie, totally. I hadn’t thought about water specifically, but the environment and how we treat it keeps me up at night. For example, tonight I will freak out about what I just heard on This American Life where a man travelled to the furthest part of the ocean, away from land on all sides and discovered a floating trash pile the size of texas. (Taco Belle was mentioned). Wow, are we ever an attractive bunch of losers.


  13. Taco Belle? Is she the madam of that texas trashpile? The Best Little Whorehouse in the Trashpile the Size of Texas?

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

    anywho, that floating trash is terrifying. must learn more about it.


  14. Yes, Taco Belle. I shit you not. The guy found so much trash at one point he said there was a trail of it leading to the mass in the middle of the ocean that went on “as far as the eye can see.” here is the link. first part of the story. Scary. Terrifying. We suck.


  15. sounds like we need to reevaluate the incinerator!


  16. “So…if she…weighs the same as a duck….then she’s…”

    “A witch.”

    “A Witch!!”


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