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Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Penwasser History of the World Part V

NOTE:  I'll continue to post this disclaimer.  I'd like to caution against using any of the nonsense below to study for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege and you'll probably be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Although, this is more of an opinion than anything else.  Still, better you should read a book to get actual facts.

What's In a Name?

    Since we've left the dinosaurs, cavemen, and "Make Pangea Great Again" ballcaps of prehistory behind, we'll soon (and, by "soon," I mean "next week"), be getting into those bits of history which were actually written down.  

    Whether hieroglyphics, cuneiform, or Sanskrit (is that a
Huh.  Whaddya know?  It is a language.  
And it's a mother.
language?  I think it's a language.  Sounds like a language.  As always, I don't feel like looking it up.), people will begin writing down political philosophies, business transactions, methods of agriculture, weather observations, and limericks.

"We chopped off the heads of 1,000 Hittites.  You get that down?"
    They had no set reference, though.  Okay, they probably did, but nothing like our standard method of dating.  After all, we're so much advanced than the primitives of the past, with our space travel, electric cars, and poop on sidewalks.

It's the San Francisco treat.
    NOTE:  Judaism uses a different method of dating for their holy days.  While they undeniably date things with the method others use, they also use a system based on the Torah, Abraham, or something like that to confuse the living daylights out of us.  Or drive us meshuggah, if I may.  Isn't it something like the year 4,000 or something?  I don't know.  My head hurts. 

    Since...uh...a long time ago, we've dated civilization using a
"Catheter Sample Packs are a basic human right!  
BC, AD, whenever!"
"BC/AD" convention.  It's worked well as far as I've been alive.  And, since I've been alive longer than most of you, it should work well for you, too.  On the other hand, if you've been alive longer than I, good luck with those Depends, catheter sample packs, and Matlock marathons.
"The frik you mean I gotta wait four years!?"
   "B.C." stands for "Before Christ."  Meaning "Before Christ Was Born" not "Before Christ First Started Shaving."  I know that Jesus was born sometime around 4 B.C. (well, that's what the nuns told us), meaning Jesus was born four years before Jesus was born.  We all get it, Perfesser.  

    "A.D." stands for "Anno Domini," which is Latin-not Greek-for "Year of Our Lord."  It does not mean "After Death," you knucklehead.  If that's what it stood for, then, since Jesus was something like 33 years old when he was crucified, there's something like 33 years (or 37, considering that 4 B.C. thing) unaccounted for.

    In the last years of the 20th Century, though (proving that people have been wacky for decades), a new method of dating things has arisen in academia and general society: that of "B.C.E." or "Before the Common Era" and "C.E." or "Common Era."

    This was done to downplay the influence of Christianity and the Western World.  Don't try to tell me this isn't so.

    Now, okay, I guess I'm okay with that.  I mean, if I wasn't a
"But turkey bacon is totally cool.  Infidel."
Christian, I'd probably have a problem with talking about something which happened in the "year of our Lord."  After all, Jesus isn't the Jews' Lord, an atheist has no Lord (unless you count the "God of Climate Change."), pagans worship sticks, Jehovah's Witnesses worsh...hell, I don't know what they do, and Satanists idolize...uh...Satan.  Muslims would get ticked, I suppose, but they're too busy bitching about ham on airplanes.
   NOTE:  I'm making outlandish generalizations for comedy purposes only.  Get over yourselves.

    The problem I have with this, though, is what exactly is "Common"?  Sure, Christianity and Judaism are common (Buddhism was also around, I think, but I'm trying to make a point here).  You can't exactly say Islam was common, because that religion didn't start raging around the Middle East and Mediterranean until 632 A.D.
   This means that, if you were going for a "common" vibe (using the "Big Three."  And Buddhism.  Happy now?), the year should actually be 1387 C.E., instead of 2019 A.D.  By the way, I know that "A.D." should go before the year, smart guy.  Shut up.

    No, what this is is a politically correct way of changing the name of something without actually changing anything.  The years are still the same.  In other words, Jesus was still born in the same year, except now it's 4 B.C.E.

    If the "C" stood for "Christian," it would at least be an accurate statement of fact.  Even though I'm not advocating that, you couldn't argue that Muhammed was born in 570 of the Christian Era.

    Once again, though, I understand the reticence towards
Wrong Christian Dating
"Christian Dating."
    So, if you want to go away from a Christian lens, why not date things from the start of Islam?  Or maybe the founding of Rome?  The fall of the Western Roman Empire?  Norman Conquest?  Invention of the sex doll?  

    I realize that won't happen because can you imagine the disruption that would cause to our sense of our place in the world, to say nothing of what it would do to Hallmark?

    With that being the case, I'll just go right on using "BC" and "AD,"  thank you very much.  There'll be no silly "B.C.E." and "C.E." nonsense here.  If you're the type of person who is uncomfortable with those terms, rest assured that nothing is different.

    The existence of syphilis was first recorded in 1495 A.D., which is the same as 1495 C.E.
"Well, that's what condoms are for."
    There, that's something you know now. 
Since I mentioned them in the title, I guess I should include a picture.  
But, I thought we left cavemen behind.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Penwasser History of the World- Part IV

NOTE:  I already wrote this, but I'd like to caution against using this for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege. And, you may be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Hey, Who Turned the Frikkin' Heat Off?
The Ice Age

What?  No mammoths or saber-tooth cats?  DAFUQ?

    After the comet, or extraterrestrial Republicans (hey, it could've happened.  You weren't there) put a smack down on most of the life on the planet, very little was left except for Betty White and Twinkies.  Of course, some reptiles remained, such as alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and lawyers.  Insects, too, survived and flourished to disrupt picnics and become Jeff Goldblum.

    But, the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, starting with the Paleocene Epoch (which is Latin-or Greek-for "Old Cene."  Or not) saw the rise of Skywalker mammals.  Initially small furry critters which T-Rexs used as appetizers before ripping the throats out of brontosauruses...or is that brontosauri?...
"I don't know animals."
before using them as toilet paper after ripping the throats out of...whatever, they soon evolved into sometimes massive creatures. 
Some animals became extinct, of course. 
Like this Eobasileus. 
Which is just as well. 
Because it looks goofy AF.
The Earth saw the emergence of woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, woolly bullies, cave bears, care bears, buffaloes, buffalo bills, mastodons, bison, saber tooth cats, vampiric squirrels, giant sloths, Michael Moore (but I repeat myself) and, most importantly for our story, the ape-like creatures who became modern humans.

Alternative View of the Paleocene Epoch
Brought To You By the 700 Club
"Ya know, I'm in the mood for camel."
"Nahhh, not feelin' it.  How 'bout that idiot turkey?"
"Well, okay.  Can we have the pelican, at least?"
"Deal.  By the by, I wish those two would get some clothes on."

   Our ancestors (some of whom still live in New Jersey), first appeared on history's grand stage 5 or 6 million years ago (give or take a million).  Scientists first discovered evidence of their existence in the fossilized footprints of mammoths.
Noted Fossils
    Soon, however, these Australopithicenes (Latin-or Greek-for "Southern Cenes."  Or not) figured they'd never win a foot race with these huge elephant looking monsters.  Better to drive them off cliffs instead.

    Eventually, these early primates developed into what's known as
Probably not an accurate depiction of Handyman.
Courtesy:  CNN
Homo Habilis,
which is Latin-or Greek-for Handyman.  These proto-humans began using sticks to pull bugs from logs, rocks to build big piles of rocks, and dirt to make mud pies.

    The Handymen gave way to Homo Erectus,  which is Latin-or Greek-for "man who walks upright, or erect."  Okay, get it out of your system.

    Frankly, we never covered this much in school, because the teacher could never stop the other boys and me from laughing.

"Ooh, I love those sweaty cavemens!"
"Yes, they could hit me over the head with a club and drag me back to their caves."
"Yabba dabba doo, honey!"

"Yes, I'd like to sue for copyright infringement, please."

    Fossils of Homo Erectus (good Lord, I'm even giggling writing this) have been found in Africa and Asia, most notably "Peking Man," which was unearthed in China.  Discovery of this fossil went remarkably quick, at ten minutes.
NOTE:  Not Chinese

  Finally, man developed into Homo Sapiens, which is Latin-or Greek-for "Thinking Man."  We still laughed when learning about this (after all, it still had that "homo" bit).

    Homo Sapiens were significantly more advanced than those who had come before (think real hard about that the next time you're in West Virginia).  These "thinkers" would go on to develop agriculture, cities, electric power, sex dolls, the telephone, laundromats, Starbucks, television, pet rocks, jet propulsion, the Flowbee, space travel, poop emojis, and nuclear weapons.

    Okay, maybe "thinking" is a bit of a stretch.

    Unfortunately, they were ill-equipped to deal with the most
"PFFT!  Puny humans are too stupid
to know they should wear a coat."
"Not for nothin', Al, they're not the ones
who think it's okay to run off cliffs."
significant climate change this side of Al Gore, the Ice Age.  

    As has happened several times (and will again) throughout history, the planet underwent a drastic cooling process about two and a half million years ago (give or take 500,000 years).  

    Ice sheets covered much of Northern Europe, Scandinavia (okay, I see the redundancy...shut up), Canada, and the Northern parts of the United States (NOTE:  maybe even the Southern Hemisphere, too.  I don't feel like looking it up, though.  Screw them).  This ice remained for many thousands (or probably millions...I'm getting tired and don't feel like looking that up, either) only to make a brief reappearance in The Day After Tomorrow.
Or some other such stupid shit."
    Much of humanity decided to remain in Africa or in time shares in the tropics.  Who could blame them, though?  Who'd want to deal with that frigid wasteland?  On the other hand, people live in Maine so...

"Holy eff, it cold! 
Should have gone to Dominican Republic."
    Those who remained in the north (remember, these folks thought Neanderthals were idiots) adapted by learning to harness fire, move indoors to caves (once they told the bears their leases were up.  Stupid bears) and decided that a mammoth's fur (minus the mammoth) made for a pretty toasty sweatshirt.

    With the decreased temperatures came decreased sea levels.  The
Good thing nobody built a wall.
drop was such that a land bridge developed in the area of the Bering Strait.  This enabled wandering bands of Cro-Magnons (who all looked like Jeffrey Hunter and Raquel Welch, if Hollywood is to be believed) to chase those yummy herds of camels and sloths (who were a snap to catch) from Asia into North America.

    Once the tide came in, they were stuck.  Which was just as well because they were sick of Chinese food.  Fifteen minutes after eating it, they were starving.  

    Besides, nobody had invented boats yet.

    So, these early people remained to become Inuit, Apache, Mayan, Inca, Olmec, Aztec, Navajo, Elizabeth Warren, and Mohawks.

    And countless others.  But, who wants to read all that mess?

They also developed art,
an example of which is this Venus of Willemdorf. 
Used by Cro-Magnon boys in the bathroom
at the back of the cave.
  It wasn't long, though, before the roving bands of hunter-gatherers throughout the world figured it would be a good idea to stop (their feet were sore), build warm buildings, plant the beans the nice prehistoric gypsies sold them, take off the smelly mammoth hoodies, and throw some points on those rocks they found to kill the neighbors on the other side of the ravine.

Next:  BC/AD, BCE/CE, AC/DC  

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Penwasser History of the World-Part III

NOTE:  I think I already wrote this, but if you're using this to study for the History Advanced Placement Examination, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege.  Or you'll be confused with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  The below (and subsequent entries) are meant for entertainment (or whatever) use only.  It's possible (nay, certain) that I'll get some facts wrong.  Carry on.

The Age of Cool Dinosaurs
Brought to you by Sanders 2020
Hand Over Your Wallet

    Following the mass extinction of the Permian Period brought on by Thanos, the remaining Avengers gathered together in….oh, wait.  That's not right.  My bad.

    Anyway, the life which was left poked their heads out of some burrow, turned to their neighbor and asked, "Hey, WTF just happened?  Ooh, the smart-ass dimetrodons are gone.  Cool."

"Well, at least I'll live on in some kid's bag of plastic dinosaurs."

    They really shouldn't have been too cocky, though.  Because, even though they didn't know it (calendars hadn't been invented yet, after all), they found themselves at the doorstep of the Mesozoic Era.  It was during this multi-million year period when the really big (and, let's face it, cool) dinosaurs were born.  Hatched.  Whatever.  I don't know.  Do you know?  I didn't think so.  Shut up.

    And eat them.

    The Brontosaurus (which nerds now call "Brachiosaurus"), Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Pterosaurs, Coldsaurus, and Tyrannosaurus (among many others.  I'm just sticking with the "saurus" theme.  You're welcome.) made their appearance on the world stage during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
    NOTE:  The Bidenosaurus was banished from the dinosaur world, despite offering free massages to juvenile T-Rex's.

"Wait...what?  You gotta go? You just got here."
"Well, I gotta go save the world.  
Thanos, after all.  You understand."
NOTE:  Historically inaccurate.  
Chris Pratt didn't save the world.  It was Iron Man. 
   This included the Velociraptors which nobody really heard of until the movies, amirite?


    Interestingly, during this time, mammals began to slowly
Jurassic Fake News
evolve themselves (not humans yet, despite that painting of cavemen fighting raptors with machine guns on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel).  They were certainly no match for their lizard (or whatever they were…the science has recently been reevaluating...they may have been proto-birds, Kryptonians, or ancestors of Al-Qaeda…who knows?) neighbors, though.
Possibly fake news.  
But, look, how cute! 
Fred using a brontosaurus brachiosaurus at the quarry.
    Luckily for the mammals, though, they were pretty small and,
Mammals were pretty low on the food chain.
The dinosaurs would soon have their own problems, though.
Who's a tough guy, now?

thus, mostly immune from the next mass extinction brought on by a comet strike.  The climate changed abruptly from a mostly humid, tropical, frankly uncomfortable, world (simulated in the modern age by Florida).  A lot (probably most.  Too lazy to look it up) of the life was wiped out.

Some dinosaurs survived in Florida, though.

"Okay, that can't be good."

    Yeah, of course, the neat dinosaurs were killed because they could not survive in their new environment.  And they forgot to put on sunblock.

   Frikkin' comets, right?

    This brought the world into the "Cenozoic Era."  It was here when newer and bigger models of mammals hit the world stage, including the first humans.  
    Apes crawled down from trees they ran up when chased by
They were chased by such animals as the Clintonosaurus.
"Hey, those things were pieces of cake.
Even the triceratops were kicking my ass.  
Plus, I gotta get me some of those lady apes.  
Kinda horny, don'tcha know."
some random punk dinosaur who decided to pick on someone smaller than them.  Deciding to stretch their legs, they began grunting a common language, fashioned rocks into tools, and strolled into that neat-looking garden.
    Where they were killed by Adam and Eve.

    Believe it or not, we are still living in the Cenozoic Era.  This means that, Ruth Bader Ginsberg notwithstanding, we're relative youngsters in what is by far the shortest geologic time period in world history.  Geologists, archeologists, anthropologists, masochists, taxidermists, Scientologists, botanists, phlebotomists... whatever…
"I don't know 'ists.'"
state that this period of time won't come to an end until after another mass extinction.

    Uh, oh.

Next week:  Who Turned the Heat Off?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Penwasser History Part II

Dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs
Brought to You By the Republican Party 

   In our last installment, life (well, animal life.  Please forgive my raging Floraphobia), began to emerge from the sea onto the primordial ooze (I love that phrase) in the Cambrian Epoch (Era...whatever).  Or was that from the primordial ooze onto the land?  Whatever.  I'm not sure.

"I don't know animals."

"Eff.  Well, there's goes the neighborhood."
"Shut up, Fern.  You're always such a downer.  What's the worst that could happen?"

"My bad."
A face only a mother could love.
If the mother was blind.
    Anyway, the first critter to sally forth upon terra firma (which probably wasn't very firma) was a charming little rascal called Perdepes Finneyae (FULL DISCLOSURE:  If you think I actually knew that name and didn't have to look it up, you give me much more credit than I deserve.  I'm mostly winging this, but occasionally I'll need to look something up.  I think its modern cousin is the "Lungfish."  Or Whoopi Goldberg).  Anyway, it could breathe air, as well as live and breath underwater.  I think we call them amphibians.  Or Aquaman.

NOTE:  No Flintstones.  
Or neat dinosaurs like T-Rex and Velociraptors.
    Life went on evolving for millions and millions of years.  The Pre-Cambrian gave way to the Cambrian Epoch which eventually gave way to the Paleozoic when its lease ran out. 

  The Pre-Cambrian was noted for swamp muck and not much of
"Who you calling 'boring?' A-Hole.  
I'd bite your ankle, but I'm not sure I have a mouth."
anything else except for some life in the oceans, like starfish, algae, and the boring trilobites.

  Next up was the Paleozoic Era (fewer letters to type than 'epoch' so I'm going with 'era.' Sue me).  It didn't last all that long.  Relatively.  But, it was marked by a rush of life moving from the oceans onto the land.  Starting with the aforementioned goofy lungfish milling about the ferns, we begin to see (well, not 'we,' exactly.  Maybe Betty White, though.  She's pretty old) more advanced forms of life culminating in a dinosaur looking thing with one hell of a back grill.
"So, Whaddya think?  Pretty bad ass, huh?  
I'd so kick a T-Rex's ass.  Lucky for them they won't be around for a few million years."

    It was during this time that the major land masses of the Earth,
moving around on their tectonic plates, collided together to form a Super-Continent known as "Pangea."  Many people in the past doubted this actually happened, but archeologists digging in what would eventually become Mara Lago, discovered fossils wearing MPGA ballcaps.

    Anyway, it was all for naught (or is that 'nought'?)

"I don't know spelling."
when the Earth suffered its first mass extinction at the end-naturally-of the Permian Period (which was actually kind of fortunate, because the dimetrodons could avoid going to Math during Third Period).

    No one knows what caused this extinction (a comet, plastic straws, or volcanic instability), but what became known as the "Permian Extinction" wiped out over half the life on the land and  nearly everything in the oceans.

    Basically, I bet it sucked.

    Especially, for the tough-guy dinosaurs who wanted to rumble with the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor.

Next week...the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.  Starring cool dinosaurs.

"HEYYYY!!!!  What the fu....oooh, is that a Perdpes Fin....uh, lungfish?"