When Christopher Columbus landed by mistake in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, I'm sure he had no notion of Columbus Day being "observed" more than five hundred years later - no notion of the sales, the bank and post office closings and general inconveniences that would be visited on his remote descendants, just because of his bad navigation.
We just celebrated, or perhaps forgot to celebrate, an important moment in intellectual history. Denis Diderot was born on October 5, 1713 in France. This may not seem like the most dramatic piece of news to hear on a Monday morning three hundred years after the event, but every time Mr. Google, Wikipedia, or any of the online search engines answers one of our questions we are benefitting from the genius and determination of Denis Diderot.
Reading a nineteenth century novel, I was struck by the fact that one character described another as "Intelligent, but not very wise." We would never say that now. We might describe a person as being not very sensible, or not very talented, but never as lacking in wisdom. The word has dropped out of the language, along with other useful descriptive words like stupidity, usury, and posterity.
Vacations by the sea, as I remember them from childhood, were always a bit of an ordeal. There was nothing to do on the beach except get sunburn or hypothermia, depending on the weather, but one bright spot was the “Punch and Judy” puppet show: a beach entertainment that never failed to attract a crowd of kids, including me. The show was always exactly the same, but we didn’t care. Just like modern kids at the movies, we were there for the violence and the political incorrectness.