Institutional Memory -- A Thing of The Future

When I was younger (pre-30s), I most often hung around with people who were older than I was, because the people "my age" didn't seem all that interested in what I was interested in (poetry, politics, thinking, etc.)

Now, I find that I often hang around/resonate with people who are younger than I am, because most of the people "my age" don't seem all that interested in what I'm interested in.

I find that many people "my age" are interested primarily in their stocks and bonds, property values, retirement funds, etc. -- even though they used to be hippies (hmmm -- guess I have a judgment about that).

I'm a pretty "live and let live" kind of gal, so I tend to respect their choices, but choose to share my deepest interactions with people who are more interested in personal transformation, evolutionary thinking, etc. (no matter what that might mean for their financial "bottom line").

I know. Call me wacky.

One of the only things that troubles me about interacting with friends who are much younger than I am is this: I've actually watched a half-century pass, and I have (I believe) a few insights about certain things which are cyclic, and things that are truly new.

With my younger friends, I work very hard to not be uber-pendantic about what I affectionately refer to as "institutional memory". At the same time, I sometimes want to wave a big red flag in front of them (about one inch from their eyes) and scream: "Helloooo!!!! This is not a 'new' drama! It's been done!!!"

This relates to both personal and political situations.

I want to learn to share what I know with my younger friends without bludgeoning them over the head with my half-century of experience, and going all "elder" on their asses, because I realize that some/most of them were not even alive during the Nixon era, much less the original moon-walk (not the Michael Jackson version), or JFK's assassination. While most of my younger friends are old enough to have completed college, I realize that many of them may not have studied history in any real depth.

However --for friends who are my age or older I find that I don't have as much tolerance for their "institutional amnesia". I want to say: "Hey! Eyes up here!! Wake up! We've been through this before. Don't you remember?"

I do tend to grant some level of dispensation to those who have had "conversion" experiences over the past half-century -- people who started out as die-hard conservatives and later became die-hard liberals -- folks who used to think that life was simply suffering, but who now realize that life could just be an amazing circus ride -- people who didn't have a clue about why civil rights were important for everyone, but who had an awakening that brought them to the understanding that "if anyone is oppressed, everyone is oppressed" -- stuff like that -- because I realize that there may be nuances to past situations that were completely transparent to them at the time, and in some arenas of society, there have been a fuck of a lot of changes since 1956.


If you're over the age of 30, you've been able to buy booze since 1998, and able to vote since 1995. You were at least a teenager when the first "Gulf War" was fought.

If you're over the age of 40, you were a legal adult by 1985, so you witnessed the craptacticness of "Reaganomics".

If you're over the age of 50, you were a legal adult by 1975, and . Etc., etc., etc..

If you were college-educated, you had ample opportunity to study history.

So, I thought I'd come up with a little "Institutional Memory Test", to help oldsters sharpen up their skills, and give the youngsters the benefit of my rather long and jaded memory, plus my mad history skillz.

  1. Prior to George W. Bush, what other democratically elected leader of a western nation did all of the below:

    • Was elected to office without the majority of the popular vote, due to oddities of "proportional voting" schemes.

    • Circumvented previous protections in the national constitution which allowed infringement on the privacy of personal communications of the citizens of his nation (post, telegraph, and telephone).

    • Initiated a war on foreign soul against a nation that had never attacked his country.

    • Permitted the use of enhanced/sharpened "interrogation" techniques such as 1) sleep deprivation, 2) exhaustion exercises, 3) darkened cells, and 4) physical brutality as long as a doctor was present for some types of physical brutality, in the case that "the prisoner can give information about important facts, connections or plans hostile to the state or the legal system".

    Please pick up your pencils and begin now. You have 15 minutes.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:30 PM  


Anonymous said... January 11, 2008 at 7:57 AM  

All 4 of those?
I want to say John Adams in 1796. The Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans really screwed the pooch with their schemes to rig the VP election. He also instituted the Alien and Sedition Act, but the Barbary war was Jefferson, not Adams.

So, I'm going to say Woodrow Wilson, who did not have a majority (although a higher % than his opponent), brought us into WW1, and instituted the Espionage and Seditions Acts of 1917.

Nixon is too obvious.

Am I close?

PortlyDyke said... January 11, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

Sorry -- I realize "western nation" might be misleading. I'm including Europe.

Anonymous said... January 11, 2008 at 10:37 AM  


NameChanged said... January 11, 2008 at 1:57 PM  

Hitler? I didn't want to go there, as the whole Republican=Nazi narrative is insulting to many, but if I am correct I may just weep.

Anonymous said... January 11, 2008 at 4:58 PM  

No, you were not misleading. Just showing my nation-centrism. I know, that wasn't a word, but it is now!

I give up.

PortlyDyke said... January 11, 2008 at 5:24 PM  

The answer will be revealed later tonight (after my class). Stay tuned.

liberalandproud said... January 11, 2008 at 5:54 PM  

I have to lean toward Hitler myself. Yeah, unfortunately, I'd buy that.

JackGoff said... January 11, 2008 at 5:57 PM  

Hitler, I was thinking, but that seems too easy. Stalin wasn't democratically elected by any stretch of the imagination.

LB said... January 15, 2008 at 7:44 PM  

Here's my guess..Ronald Reagon or Bill Clinton. Both were huge ignorami. Both were stupid. Both were totally ok with preventing equal human rights. Oh, did I mention, both were stupid? Oh? Is it a tie? they were both friggen stupid? Do I get half credit for answering?

Hillary should not get elected because she stayed married to a very stupid man and is using him to get where she wants to go. Bleh. Power hungry person riding on the coattails of a very stupid man. It isn't pretty.

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