28 June 2006

Thoughts about “On This Day”

Filed under: General

As part of my morning routine I read the New York Times’ On This Day section, which is a collection of events that occurred on this particular day and contains a list of famous people whose birthdays are today, split into living and dead columns.

Something I’ve noticed over the last few months is that the majority of birthdays of people who are dead are some seriously big people. Not necessarily anyone you would have heard of before you started reading, but French statesmen, Nobel Prize winning physicists and philosophers.

However, nearly everyone listed in the living column are either actors or musicians. I have never seen, and I’ve been reading this for several years now, someone in the living birthday list who was not either a politician, sports star or entertainer. For instance, I’ve never seen Kary Mullis, my favorite Nobel Prize winner (Chemistry 1993) listed there.

I think it’s an interesting statement as to what is important to us and what isn’t. If you’re famous now, you can entertain us. If you’re famous after you’re gone, we can learn from you. Sad really. I’d much prefer to read about the birth date of the person who discovered the polymerase chain reaction than Gopher from the Love Boat.

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