Brand New Year

We have crossed the Rubicon, people. Our feet are firmly set in 2003. And again, on New Year's Eve we all debated what this decade should be called: Aughts. Zips. Zeroes. Nothings.

Historically speaking, no-one remembers what happened between 1900 and 1910. 1900: Boxer rebellion in China. In the US there are 96 auto deaths and 115 lynchings. 1901: McKinley assassinated by an anarchist; Roosevelt sworn in. William Taft arrives as first US governor of Philippines after quashing Filipino guerilla rebellion against US "Benevolent Assimilation." 1902: Japan and Great Britain sign a treaty of military alliance against the perceived Russian economic threat. 1903: Turks brutally suppress Macedonian uprising. Russian pogroms against Jews. Socialist party splits in two: Bolsheviks and Menshiviks. 1904: British forces invade Tibet. Russo-Japanese war starts; Japan wins. Germans put down revolt in Namibia; within a few years, the uprising Herero population is cut from 80,000 to 15,000. 1905: Norway separates from Sweden. First Russian Revolution starts. 1906: Dreyfus Affair ends with Dreyfus exonerated. US troops occupy Cuba. 1907: French warships bombard Casablanca; later they commit 15,000 troops to "protect French citizenry." Ghandi begins passive resistance against the Brits. 1908: Congo Free State becomes Belgian Congo, after long rule by King Leopold and embarrassing discoveries of the brutality there. Oil discovered in Persia; beginning of the scrabble for oil in the Middle East. 1909: US intervenes in Nicaragua and helps weaken president Jose Santos Zelaya. He resigns, and US backed conservative government is elected. 1910: Japan annexes Korea and remains there until after WWII. Union of South Africa formed.

So, here we have a decade in which there is all this imperial and colonial strife and intervention; revolution, struggle, and resistance (including suffrage, the Dreyfus Affair, the NAACP's formation, socialism batting against the czar) assassinations all over the place (including Italy, Serbia, the US...) and it's pretty tough remembering any of it, isn't it? You have to wonder if it's because it never had a good sales pitch like all of those other decades: "Roaring Twenties," "The Depression..." The teens and the forties are pronounced by World Wars, the fifties by McCarthy and Chevys. The 60's recall drugs and revolution; the 70's decadence, Studio 54, and the oil embargo. The 80's are almost unmentionable: junk bonds, Reagan, good punk rock and bad metal. The 90's are a little too close to see yet, but at least you can called them "the nineties" and everyone will know what you're talking about.

So here we sit in the 'aughts'. Do you think that the long view of history will just glance by us since we don't have a good name? I mean, I'm sure that our present government would hope that the historians look kindly upon their insane policies, or just forget how bizarre "Homeland Security" sounds. But I hope for all our sakes that we'll not be the victim of bad advertising, and that history won't forget us in the same way we now struggle to recall anything from the first years of last century.

**I will add new links for the other events when I get inspired. I mean, I'm still trying to recover from the effects of beer abuse.