Monday, January 30, 2017

Halley's Politics

Yesterday, America's most popular scientist, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, tweeted this:

Seems the World goes batshit crazy, every few decades. Just long enough to forget the last time the World went batshit crazy.

Since he's best known as an astronomer, that made me think of Halley's Comet, which takes 75 1/2 years to go around the solar system and be visible from Earth once again.

Its 1986 appearance wasn't particularly up to the hype. It won't be back until 2061. I would be 91 years old. I had a great uncle who lived to be 90, and a great aunt is now 89. But as far as I know, no person from whom I am descended has ever lived to be 91. So I probably won't get a better chance than I got in '86.

Is Tyson right? Is the idiocy of Trump, Brexit, Netanyahu, Prime Minister Abe in Japan, and far-right movements all over the globe -- including the "radical Islam" that these other right-wing nuts hate so much -- an example of "Halley's Politics"?

Let's crunch the numbers:

2016-17: You know what's going on. Subtract 75 or 76 years, and you get...

1940-41: The peak of fascism in World War II, Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union, their collision in Eastern Europe, and Japan overruning the Pacific from Burma to Pearl Harbor.

1865: America's Civil War ends, but while the forces of freedom won the war, the forces of racism killed Abraham Lincoln and won the peace.

1789: The French Revolution.

1714-15: The War of the Spanish Succession ends, the Ottoman-Venetian War begins, and King Louis XIV of France dies, leaving his 5-year-old great-grandson as King Louis XV.

The pattern comes up a little short, but the 1640s was the decade of the English Civil War, and the temporary overthrow of the monarch by Oliver Cromwell. He was so brutal in his rule of the British Isles that, after he died in 1658 and the monarchy restored 2 years later, his corpse was dug up and beheaded, and the head stuck on a pike. To this day, his name is considered a profanity in Ireland.


Or is the pattern shorter than 75/76 years? Maybe it's every 24/25 years.

2016-17: This crap.

1991-92: The fall of the Soviet Union, the Yugoslavian Civil War, and George Bush the father going from a 91 percent approval rating to 37 percent of the vote as he runs for re-election.

1967-68: Revolutions from Jerusalem to Paris to Chicago, and Tricky Dick Nixon gets into the White House despite getting only 43 percent of the vote.

1942: The depth of World War II. At that point, an Axis victory still looked more likely than not.

1917-18: The Russian Revolution, World War I, and the chaotic aftermath of both.

1892-93: The pattern falls short here, but in 1893 a depression began, there was an increase in colonization, and labor unrest peaked in America in 1894.

1867-68: It's fizzling out, although North America saw the end of the French occupation of Mexico, the independence of Canada, and, in the U.S., continued resistance to Reconstruction and the impeachment and very nearly removal of President Andrew Johnson.

Apparently, my "Halley's Politics" theory makes more sense if you use the 75/76 years of Halley's Comet as your guide.

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