I was leading a discussion a few weeks ago on the Protestant Reformation, which I approached from a historical perspective. October 31st of last year was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther doing his thang with those 95 big ideas, and it seemed a good time to look at this momentous event in human history.
I was putting this all in context, trying to nudge us all back into middle school or whenever we learned what we've since forgotten about The Middle Ages, the printing press, etc., meaning when they happened and what happened next.
It was during my research, trying to construct a timeline, that I noticed something about the bubonic plague. The Black Death. The revenge of Yersinia pestis, there have been three incidences of global plague in recorded human history, the Black Death coming more or less in the middle.
And it changed everything, of course. Perhaps 60% of Europe's population died, and world-wide it was roughly 25%. Population wouldn't recover until the mid-17th century, which is when another interesting thing happened.
But only interesting to me, I think. Just a thing with numbers, and a theory I had in terms of population and change. It was a subject I had no business speculating about without a lifetime of study and a couple of doctorates, but that's really never stopped me before.
No one was really interested in my theory. No one ever is. I'm OK with this.
Because I have a blog.
I got a nice email from a reader yesterday, sending me off on more speculation about populations and demographics, subjects I know pretty much nothing about.
This was commentary on a piece published two weeks ago, although that didn't surprise me. Physical media--which is itself an interesting qualification, since media has had physical form, until now--has an entirely different journey, and a surprising one, in a way.
The Internet is forever, sure. There will be millions of bits of Chuck data, possibly for all time, sitting on a hard drive or a quantum drive or a photon drive. No one is going to look.
But find an old book in a dusty store, or a CD tossed into a cardboard box, shoved in the back of a closet, or a newspaper left on a Subway table, and you'll most likely look, listen, or read.
So, with a passion for and a background in journalism, I stumbled onto a platform that ended up having legs. Not in the sense that print journalism has a lifeline; print journalism is on hospice. But it has a shelf life that allows delayed reaction, and I'm used to it by now.
It just made me think about my readership. You go into a Starbuck's, place an order, hang around to wait, think about reading something in the meantime...who's going to pick up a stray newspaper at this point? Instead of their phone?
Yeah. That's my demographic, right there. In the beginning, when I was in my early 40s and there were no smart phones, and the best most of us could do was DSL, I used to hear from high school students all the time. I still do, although now they're in their 30s and have kids. The current crop of teens would probably be baffled by a newspaper, by its purpose and function.
So I know who reads. I try not to think about it. It surely affects the way I write, though.
Which is one of those things I was pondering this morning. One of those not interesting to anyone theoretically alive things.
I was thinking about empiricism, I guess, but really? The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, although actually more along the lines of the observer effect. It's easy to mix up.
Heisenberg postulated that accurately measuring one aspect of a particle's condition--say, its position--means that measuring some other aspect (e.g., its momentum) would be less accurate. This is almost intuitive, although we view reality in classical terms, not quantum. I don't understand any of this; I just like to think about it.
The observer effect just states that the act of observing something--anything--affects it. This is where we wander into empiricism, but again: I don't understand much if any of this.
We started this blogging thing, though. The idea was that a group of us would try to blog more often, and link to these blogs, and other bloggers would read and react, and maybe we'd get a little old-fashioned community of ideas going. Maybe we will.
But I'm used to getting up in the morning and blogging. Often I just journal, something I never really did but which seems to help warm the whatever. I never think about anyone reading it, although I'm sure someone does. I just do it for me.
Now, though, I might actually have specific people, and surely it's affecting me. Just knowing that readers are reading can alter everything, and might keep me from fixating on trivial, uninteresting thoughts and writing them down.
Not yet, though. Thank God.
My hip soreness is almost back to normal, in case you were wondering, and I think I figured it out. It was probably stiff all along, just barely noticeable in my normal activities. Only when I started to jog did it put up a fuss.
And it was tight because I sit too damn much these days. That's pretty intuitive, too, but now I can feel the tightness when I, say, cross my legs, and realize it's been there awhile.
We've all been warned about sitting, and seen standing desks, etc. Most of us haven't done anything about it. I sure haven't.
And I've always sat a lot, since most things I'm at least competent at are done at a desk. The past year or so, though, there's been more of it, and less inspiration to get up. And I think I paid the price, if temporarily.
So I'm doing stretches, and once again: I was thinking run when really? I should have been thinking yoga. Live and learn.
End of journaling.