Friday, January 5, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed)

Chapter One

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Not again!" -History

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

We H. sapiens living in the current era are reminded daily that if global warming/climate change doesn't get us, the Artificial Intelligenci, a deadly global pandemic, or _______ probably will. 

As a public service, I've put together a condensed history of the world that will be featured in this space over the course of the next several weeks. 

{Public service?}

Assuming there are survivors, Dana, they'll need help reconstructing the past once they start to rebuild. Perhaps my feeble scribbles will somehow survive and I can be of service from beyond the grave. Also, I freely admit that this is world history according to yet another ugly American. 

The universe we inhabit appeared 13.772 billion years ago on a Tuesday

A single, unimaginably dense point began rapidly expanding and a lot of complex stuff happened and continues to happen. The most interesting thing that resulted, from an Earthlings perspective, is that 4.543 billion years ago, the planet Earth pulled itself together.

Roughly 300,000 years ago anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, emerged in Africa.

{So we're all Homos and we're all Africans?}

Yours is a unique perspective, Dana, I like it.

Or, to one degree or another, the stuff mentioned above, and what follows below, happened because God decided when and if it should be so.

The details depend on your personal beliefs. I know some very nice, perfectly normal H. sapiens that believe what I consider to be some very strange things (of course I’m not talking about what you believe). I freely concede that one of them may turn out to be right and that I may be wrong. 

I’m wrong with disturbing regularity so I try to keep an open mind. I highly recommend this approach as I’ve found it to be the only effective defense against blind panic when a high-velocity radioactive fact comes crashing through the roof of my thought structure like a blazing meteorite.

Irregardless, tools already existed by the time we came along although hardware stores did not appear till much later on. The controlled use of fire for warmth, light, and most importantly in my semi-humble opinion, cooking (I've never cared much for cold cuts) also likely preceded us but this is a matter of some dispute. 

Along the way, the attributes that distinguish us from the other animals on the planet such as language, art, religion, ever more efficient ways to kill each other, etc. developed.

Agriculture came along roughly 12,000 years ago and changed everything.

Our ancestors had been hunters/gatherers for thousands of years. Since grocery stores hadn’t been invented yet everyone had the same job, killing something or gathering something to avoid starving to death. Now, on a good day, this wasn’t a half-bad way to get by. 

If you or you and the gang (odds are you belonged to some sort of tribe or odds are you would be dead) managed to find something to gather up and/or kill to eat without getting killed and/or eaten in the process you could go home early. Assuming you had found enough food, you were free for the rest of the day.

Of course, this could be quite boring as there wasn’t much to do since they had neither cable nor computers, not even smartphones. This was why sex was invented. I refer to sex as practiced by H. sapiens, which tends to be a somewhat frequent and obsessive activity as compared to most other animals.

Various people at various locations gradually figured out how to plant and nurture crops as well as how to domesticate animals. While this required a lot more work than hunting and gathering, and having a diet that provided less variety could lead to health problems, it was a more reliable way to keep from starving to death.

Also, there's some evidence that suggests that getting loaded was a significant motivation as well. Turning grains into beer is easier than turning them into food, and beer was as popular then as it is now, even without the ubiquitous commercials — please drink responsibly. 

Eventually, we got good enough at this agriculture thing to produce more food than was needed for the gang to scrape by. This made it possible to settle down instead of wandering all over the place hunting and gathering enough calories to keep body and soul together.

Men, women, and others are by nature and necessity, social animals. 

It takes quite a few years before we reach maturity and we’re dependent on our parents much longer than the average creature. Also, survival is considerably easier and our lives are potentially much more pleasant when we work together. For example, everyone knows that bringing down a wooly mammoth with the tribe's help is much easier and more efficient than trying to do it yourself. 

That’s why most people naturally prefer to hang out or at least affiliate with a clique of some sort, it’s a  survival mechanism. Getting along with the inhabitants of the other huts on the block not only promoted regular meals and security, it also enabled you to get your fair share of woolyburgers without having to slay the neighbors to get theirs.

Social cohesion increases the likelihood and quality of survival. Having to share the playground with the other kids is where morality (Rules&Regs) comes from. Please see, The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt. 

Speaking of sharing, monogamy was invented. If all the dudes could count on access to, um, regular companionship, it made the cooperation needed for the hunt less prone to drama. The dudettes could also count on access to, um, regular companionship... and protection for the kids. 

This arrangement was/is disproportionately beneficial for dudes. Dudes need a significant dudette to be, among other things, a good mom, a good wife, and nowadays, often as not, willing and able to work outside the hut — and to counter a dude's tendency to rapidly devolve into a naked ape when left to his own devices.      

We figured this out long before agriculture made villages not only possible but necessary and H. sapiens began clawing their way to the top of the food chain (the original corporate ladder). 

When we reached the point where we could produce more food than we needed it was only natural that people began to specialize. Most people remained farmers, but surplus food made it possible for some people who had abilities that benefited the community to do their thing without having to farm. 

A relatively reliable supply of food and water (and beer) leads to an increased population. If enough people can produce enough food to keep themselves alive — and have enough left over to feed specialists such as craftspersons, cops, kings, insurance salesmen, etc. — before you know it, a village becomes a town becomes a city becomes a civilization. The rest is history.

Civilization began in Mesopotamia, an area that corresponds roughly to greater modern-day Iraq (ain’t that ironical?). This happened about 3,500 BCE.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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