A Sophomore History Of The World – Part 3

Everything was going along just fine — until the Europeans learned how to build boats.  For the next 300 years, they sailed around the world being total dicks to everybody.  They’d show up uninvited at various pristine locations and start cutting down the trees and peeing in the rivers.  Then, when the locals, who were invariably running near-utopian civilizations — tidy, peaceful, and cultured — calmly suggested they stop, all hell would break loose.  The Europeans would go for their guns (products of the early Military-Industrial Complex) and start shooting people and stealing their best stuff.  Somehow, this always came as a complete surprise to indigenous peoples — even though the pattern was repeated over and over for 20 generations (1492 – 1776.).  (It should be noted that, although women have always made major contributions to the world, they had absolutely nothing to do with this nasty business and only concerned themselves with the good parts of history.)

In 1776 (although nobody knew it at the time) there was a major shift in world power when a bunch of rich, Virginia farm boys decided they didn’t want to be Europeans anymore: they wanted to be something even nastier – Americans.  They succeeded beyond their wildest expectations – but more about that later.

In the rest of the world, things were pretty much status quo.  Europeans were running around raping, pillaging, raiding, plundering, exploiting, kicking widows, spitting on orphans and staying awake nights, thinking up other horrible things to do to the planet and the people on it.  Eventually, they came up with the Industrial Revolution.  Wow!  What a game-changer!  Suddenly, raping, pillaging, raiding, plundering, exploiting, kicking widows and spitting on orphans wasn’t just a hit-and- miss proposition anymore; it was part of the system.  And here’s the nastiest bit!  The sneaky bastards called it “capitalism” and convinced the entire world it was a good thing.  Anyway, the Military-Industrial Complex loved capitalism the way a French pig loves truffles, and that kicked both systems into high gear.  Pretty soon, Europe was spewing arms and ammunition like a freshman at a frat party.  But it was a case of too many weapons and nobody left to kill.  By the 20th century, Europeans had already fought everybody — including the Maoris, the Nepalese, the Bhutanese and the Ethiopians. There was only one thing left to do: fight with each other.  Which leads us to World War I, World War II and Adolf Hitler – the meanest man in history.

But wait!  There’s more!

Remember those Virginia farm boys?  They’d been hiding out in North America, quietly practicing their own brand of nasty on anybody they could get their mitts on for 150 years.  They took one look at the Europeans going at each other, thought, “Hey! Here’s our chance! That Charlie Chaplin lookin’ sucker can’t be that tough.” and proceeded to kick his ass.  Suddenly, nasty had a new Numero Uno: America.

So here we are in the 21st century, the peak of human knowledge and social understanding, with a bunch of problems created by dead Europeans and America is busy making them worse.

The End

Disclaimer:  Folks! – please!  Before you send me that email questioning my knowledge, my ancestry and my sanity, remember: this is satire!  It’s meant to lampoon simple interpretations of complex problems.

Life On Mars

It’s been 40 days and 40 nights since New Year’s– when we finally kicked 2020 to the curb.  And even though every person on this planet shouted “Goodbye and good riddance!” (I know I did) we’ve largely forgotten about it.  The hats have been thrown away, the champagne bottles recycled, and the resolutions … well … the resolutions really didn’t stand a chance this year, did they?  But not to worry.  You can renew those resolutions with a clean slate and a fresh start all this week– because last Sunday was also New Year’s Day – on Mars.

I’ll grant you, unless you’re a NASA scientist, it’s not something you think about, but now that you are, it definitely makes sense, doesn’t it?  After all, Mars has a different rotation from Earth and a different orbit around the sun, so our time – 24 hours/365 days – just doesn’t apply.  Actually, the Martian day, called a sol (pronunciation still in doubt) is 24 hours, 39 minutes long.  (That 43-minute difference is just enough to screw things up.)  And it takes Mars 687 days to get all the way around the sun – a Martian year.  So, since Mars has four seasons (just like us) a quick pen and paper calculation and you have 12 months (BTW, you can name them anything you want; nobody’s done that yet!) and there’s your Martian calendar.

Of course, none of this really mattered before we started sending our machines to Mars to have a look around.  But the minute we did, we discovered we needed a way to keep track of them: Earth time just wasn’t going to do it.  For example, right now in the Pacific Time Zone, it’s about 5:30 p.m. and the sun is going down, but on Mars (where the Rover is) that same sun is shining in the middle of the afternoon.  So far, so good.  But tomorrow (relative to me) Martian time is going to slide backwards 43 minutes, and it’ll do it again the next day, and the next.  By this time next month, me and Mars are going to be out of sync by nearly a whole day!  Oops!  So what NASA did was lengthen the Martian second by (approx.) 1.027.  Then they chose the Martian Spring Equinox as Day One of the Martian year. That allowed them to measure and schedule Martian time accurately from that fixed point.  (FYI, this is no different from Great Britain setting up Greenwich Mean Time in the 19th century, Pope Gregory XIII rebooting the calendar in 1582, or Julius Caesar naming the 7th month after himself when he was running the show.)  Anyway, for some reason (I can’t find out why) NASA decided to backdate Martian time to begin with Year Zero on Earth Year 1955.  That makes this Martian Year 36!

Ever since humans dropped out of the trees and looked up into the sky, the Red Planet has captured our imagination.  It’s our nearest celestial neighbour.  We can see it flickering red with the naked eye.  It has mysterious canals, polar ice caps, volcanos and canyons.  It’s been part of our literary culture for two centuries and part of our scientific world for nearly as long.  So, go ahead and celebrate the hell out of this Martian New Year — cuz the next one isn’t going to happen until December 26th 2022!

The Day That Dare Not Speak Its Name!

Warning: This blog contains information about events that happened over 500 years ago.  It acknowledges their existence and does not apologize.  This blog contains humour, satire and ideas that could provoke thought and is intended for a sophisticated audience.  Therefore, it may not be suitable for university sophomores or adults who act like them.  Reader discretion is advised.

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Shhh!  (I wish my computer had a whisper font, but anyway…)

Yesterday was Columbus Day.

[Serious Silence!]

I know, I know: I’m pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, but that’s just the way I roll.  Besides, I have a burning need to set the record straight before Chris disappears from the North American landscape.  (I’m lookin’ at you, Columbus, Ohio!)  Here’s the deal.  In my lifetime, Christopher Columbus has gone from being a determined, visionary explorer, willing to put his life on the line to expand the collective knowledge of the world to being – uh – an asshole.  It’s a spectacular fall from grace.  Unfortunately, the social justice lynch mob who dragged the guy off his pedestal and put the boots to him got the wrong man.  Saying Columbus is responsible for the last 5 centuries of Western Hemisphere history is like saying a person who bought a ticket to get into the stadium is responsible for the football game.  That’s idiotic!

First of all, Columbus only crossed the Atlantic four times, he probably never set foot on South America and sure as hell never get north of the Rio Grande.  Secondly, the boy was basically lost.  He always insisted that India was just over the horizon and had no idea there were two gigantic continents in the way.  (It’s a good trick to be a total dick to millions of people when you don’t even know they exist!)  And finally — and here’s where the vegan ate the liverwurst — the guy died in 1506.  That was 10 years before Cortez showed up in Mexico, over 20 before Pizarro and his band of cutthroats visited the Andes and over 100 (that’s an entire century!) before Powhatan turned to Pocahontas and said, “You stay away from those Europeans!  Mark my words, young lady: they’re going to be nothing but trouble!”  The truth is Columbus was out of the rape and pillage business before it ever even got started.

So, how did Columbus become the supervillain of America history?  One simple reason — convenience!

Deny it or not, in the 21st century, we’re wading in the shallow end of the intellectual swimming pool.  Most people don’t know enough history to fill a mouse’s ear.  Names like Coronado, De Soto and Mendoza mean nothing, and people are perfectly content to live with that ignorance.  (After all, it’s a lot more fun to take a Facebook quiz about Disney Princesses than read a boring essay on dead Europeans!)  However, there is one dead European everybody knows: Christopher Columbus.  Meanwhile, when the good folks of North America recently found out that the indigenous people of this hemisphere have spent the last few centuries getting screwed, they started looking around for someone to blame.  (In our video culture, the villains are clearly marked.)  And take one guess who they looked at first?  The only one they knew: Christopher Columbus.  Ipso facto, he must be the bad guy.

So, so long Christopher Columbus; it’s been nice knowing you.  In a few years, you’re going to be as forgotten as Olaf the Ugly, that unknown Norseman who actually got to North America.