Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Day the Universe Changed

The smug looking fellow above is one James Burke, and today is not his birthday, but he is a hero nonetheless. His actual birthday is December 22nd, 1936, and he was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. Since today was lacking in heroes born on this particular day, I figured I would trot good, old James out for today's spot on the hero podium.

The major reason for his placement on the hero podium is that he is quite simply a fucking genius. Many, many moons ago, when I was but a struggling history student, I got the privilege of watching (for a class) Mr. Burke's wonderful TV series entitled "The Day the Universe Changed." It was quite simply breathtaking, the depth, and width of his knowledge was astounding, and he then went on to do three series of a show (written by him of course) called "Connections." It is exactly what it sounds like, Mr. Burke takes crayons and shows how they are connected to corn flakes, taking giant leaps, both forward, and backwards in time, to show how all sorts of things are somehow "connected." That without one French peasant doing one certain thing a certain way, we wouldn't have automobiles. All three of the series are amazing, and if you haven't seen them, you should. I guarantee you will learn something that you didn't know, and you will be amazed at his talent to connect things to each other at breakneck speed. It is a bit like the "six degrees of separation" done history style by a genius, and you just try to keep up with him if you can. I tried to keep up, and I did my best, but there were times that I was as lost as last year's Easter eggs. But, for making all those connections seem so effortless, James Burke (December 22nd, 1936-present), you are my (332nd) hero of the day.

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