Friday, July 1, 2022

The History of the World Too


A multi-column series originally published in 2016

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  

Glossary 

Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device 

"The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes." -Mark Twain


Dear Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I'm spending the summer in a cabin on a beautiful lake somewhere in the Swiss Alps, working on my memoirs, and trying to decide if this column will resume post-Labor Day. The market has found me wanting; I'm buying most of my own coffee just now. So be it, I remain an unrepentant supporter of capitalism. 

My big brother Eddie is currently my only financial patron so I'm starting to feel like Van Gogh... without the world-class talent, but with both ears. I'm also considering publishing only when the spirit moves me. Cranking out columns week after week, while enjoyable, is hard work — well, intellectually speaking — at least for me. 

{It sure ain't roofing or the like you whiney b...}

In the meantime, I'll be republishing (relatively) gently edited columns with updated statistics and fun facts in [brackets].


In our last episode, we covered the period of time stretching from the Big Bang (Bigus Bangus) to the invention of agriculture (the Burgeriniumbun Finalae era) to Mesopotamia, where history really got cooking.

Next, depending on how you look at it, an awful lot of history happened — or a few things happened over and over again — and once in a great while something really cool/awful happened. Kind of like the life of the modern-day average Joe/Joan/J. Bagadonuts, but often subject to even more random acts of violence. They attacked us or we attacked them in the name of cash, conquest, revenge, God, the gods, hunger, honor, slaves et cetera.

Fortunately, God was on our side or it would have been even worse. As Hobbes pointed out, life is indeed “...solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Mr. H. was arguing that this is the natural state of man (he was right) and that’s why we need an all-powerful ruler to keep us on the straight and narrow (he was wrong), but we do need some form of gummit. That way we can direct our energy to defend our playground or, if necessary, to slaughter them.  

Once in a while, peace would break out but Mother Nature provides us with a way to stave off boredom and complacency, natural disasters, and disease.

For example, say King Bob is sitting in the privy waiting for nature to take its course and his mind starts to wander because the only copy of The Dark Ages Digest at hand is more than a year old. He’s been giving a lot of thought to attacking a kingdom just down the road because he’s got his fair share of bloodthirsty warriors and greedy nobles to keep happy and if he doesn’t keep them busy they may turn on him or each other for entertainment and booty.

He’s been through that before and knows that even if he and his allies triumph, invariably lots of innocent serfs, peasants, and slaves are slaughtered. Collateral damage, sure. But since they're the ones that do all the heavy lifting and since most of the population live out their lives at this level and die by the time they’re 30, you need to maintain a good inventory to dodge some significant downsides.

He’s short of virtual slaves, actual slaves, and cash from last season, not one of his better ones, and short of potential solutions as well. Things are so bad he’s considering hiring one of those expensive consultants his buddy King Steve favors. He’s heard good things about a firm called DPD, Diabolical Plots by the Dozen, founded incidentally, by a distant ancestor of Vladimir Putin.

His ruminations are interrupted by a hysterical minion pounding on the door and screaming, “Your majesty, your majesty there are reports of plague (or flood, or fire, or hairy weather, or rapacious insects, or blight, or famine, etcetrine) in the kingdom!” This solves the problem, short term at least. Now, survival becomes everyone's job one. Assuming this isn’t an apocalyptic-level crisis and assuming that King Bob is one of the survivors, he can deal with his other problem later.


This is how things rolled most days in most places. Why? Well, it’s either because we’re naked apes living in a dangerous world, or, someone screwed up the paradise we were provided with by God and he/she/they are still mad (details depend on which creation myth you subscribe to). It wasn’t all bad though. Once in a while, Joe or Joan or J. Bagadonuts was fortunate enough to have an actual boring day. Also, as mentioned above, once in a great while, something truly cool happened.

Somebody came up with the wheel, someone perfected bronze, iron came along, the printing press was invented, Mr. and Mrs. Vermeer had a baby — that sort of thing. Being the clever creatures that we are, we even came up with all sorts of ways to use these breakthroughs for things other than killing each other.

H. sapiens are religious by nature, including the ones who claim not to be. Various entities, or his/her/their messenger(s), have regularly stopped by to light the path to paradise. This phenomenon continues apace, right up to this very moment. Nowadays, the entities and/or their messengers may be politicians, pundits, Greenies, Wokies, etc. The field has broadened considerably.

We're the ones we've been waiting for... so let's make America great again! I think that...

{Whoa, Sparky, focus dude.}

Thanks, Dana, I've gotten ahead of myself. Where was I...? Oh, okay.

And then, in 1776, the planet Earth finally caught a break.

To be continued...

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day


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