I have been musing about cultural change recently. I'm increasingly under the impression that brilliance is in decline, that the high point of genius was roughly 1913, and that our current era, even before the huge demographic changes discussed by the Opinionator fully slam home, is increasingly dominated by pastiche, triviality, and lack of ambition. Perhaps all the talent is just going into things I will never, ever care about, like video games, but that doesn't seem to be a reason not to be curmudgeonly. When I imagine the culture of the future, two words come to mind as what will be the predominant interest of humanity: celebrity gossip.
If we're lucky, perhaps the future will look like the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century AD under the "five good emperors." Gibbon called it the happiest era in human history, but I suspect he would have been bored, and that he himself was much happier living in the 18th Century.