History

Got Viking?

Posted on November 14, 2013. Filed under: History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dawn Raid

Dawn Raid

Maybe the culture and life-style have changed…   a little…   but, the DNA of the Norse raiders persists to this day.  Yes, they walk among us, and some — my, oh my — walk so much better than others.*

Their group name has changed also.  Instead of the terror-inducing “Viking,” they are now called Scandinavian.  Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland are today’s caretakers of that once-feared genetic pool.

As their culture morphed, so did their method of captivating the world.  Instead of heading out in those wondrous, fabled long ships to terrorize the world into giving up its wealth, the new Vikings have softened that approach — now, they invite the world to stuff its wealth into its wallets, board those modern, sumptuous cruise ships and head for Scandinavia where they can be delighted with the quaint, the modern, and some wonderfully dreamy scenery amid the haunting echoes of history.  (Those in a hurry to hand over the goods can fly via Viking Air…   well…   maybe that’s Scandinavian Airlines).

The Viking heirs still get the world’s money, but, now, in total reversal of methodology, the world hand-delivers it willingly to the Viking homeland without fear of losing a hand…   or any associated body parts.

Responding to this kinder, gentler approach, the world welcomes Viking travelers.  In times past, coastal cities being visited and not pillaged insisted that those ruffians come ashore only in small groups while the rest waited off-shore in their ships.  A small group’s rowdiness could be easily contained, but, there was the fear that a large group might try to paint the town red (a la Freddie…   Jason…   Lizzie Borden.**)  Today, they simply blend in with everyone else on the travel conveyance and are permitted to off load without fanfare…   unless they are celebrity, of course…   or brandishing an Ulfberht. 

I, personally, have much enthusiasm for the blue-eyed, gentler Vikings…   those not named Olaf, Dolph, Karl, Hans or other such.  I favor name types such as Brita, Anne, Annelie, Katarina, et al, complete with appropriate attributes.*  True, in my adolescence, I romanticized those Viking warriors, but, at some point I woke up and appreciated the fact that warrior glory came at a horrific price for those falling to that ethic.  Besides, I was too short to effectively wield a long sword…   hmm!  I had the same problem with golf clubs…   spent a lot more time replacing divots than swinging at the ball.

Through 300 years or more, these seafarers explored, pillaged, and colonized; the New World and the Old have benefitted from their legacy.  Yet, in my little world, the fingers on one hand are far more than needed to tally personal encounters with it…   although…   I did spend about five months with one Dagmar from Denmark.  The most memorable thing about that relationship was, if you failed a test, you kept taking it until you got at least a “D” on it.  She practiced the slogan “No Child Left Behind” long before it became politically chic…   I got out of Latin I with a long string of D’s and a fuzzy recollection of the ablative case.

Ironically, given my adolescent crush on all things Viking, I had no clue she was a DANE possessing the very genetic heritage I then romanticized.  Mrs. Dagmar Root (Latin teacher, Sam Houston Senior High, Houston, Texas a very long time ago), belatedly, I thank you for that close encounter with living history.

Rare and to be treasured are these Norse encounters.  I could use another one.  This is an open invitation to a tall(er) blue-eyed Dane (not named Olaf or such) to share lunch over Viking fare (with emphasis on sea food***) sometime in the near future (a few days…   weeks…   a month?  I’m very patient.)  Since I surmise that the rewards for such an encounter would be heavily weighted in my favor, I will throw in the long ship pictured above to help balance the scales.

Honest!   …the whole ship.

According to the ancient Nordic time wheel (which I just now invented), it is my turn to buy.

_______________________________________

*I’m a guy and still breathing; would you expect less?

**Freddie and Jason are fictional; Lizzie and the Vikings of old were the real deal.

***I am open to other preferences expressed by the lucky lunchee.

___________________________________________________________

In apology to all things Viking, I include the following unsolicited commercial plugs to help funnel money into Scandinavian banks:

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Come to Papa, razzi

Posted on April 21, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cave men understood the value of the story.  In fact, they invented the concept of the wall as seen on today’s social sites.  The excitement of the hunt, if not the sheer necessity of it, got those cave journalists in the mood to go to press paint.  (Say what you will about stone painting as a medium, but it has sure outlasted last century’s newspaper.)  Look!  There’s the stampeding herd, the flight of spears in the air, jubilant hunters all around…   and a hand print?  Researchers have discussed the significance of that, but, maybe, it was just a count of the take on that hunt.  You know…   5.

They even had moving pictures of sorts.  Those caves were dark, except for the light of dying torches and hearths, and the cave walls rough and uneven.  Together, the light and wall texture composed a lively show as the flickering flames sent shadows dancing across the paintings, imparting an almost supernatural feeling of motion right before all those sleepy eyes.  Every night, in the quiet time before sleep, the hunt — in motion and living color — was played out once again.  And, the narrator emphasizing, “We bagged five!”

We don’t do cave walls anymore.  We learned during the Renaissance how to do it right.  We want wall art, we just build a big, stone cathedral, light it with flickering torches and/or oil lamps, hire a da Vinci or Michelangelo, and watch those guys laboriously pound, grind, and mix select ingredients into just the right colors and textures, then turn ’em loose on those walls and ceilings.  WAIT!  THIS JUST IN:  a couple of cases of spray paint, a half-dozen taggers, a city-full of walls and overhead structures just waiting for proper treatment…   and someone in authority saying, “Don’t you dare!”  Actually, with that last example, there isn’t much story line, just lurid, flashy colors,, maybe even some drawings, but, basically, just meaningless stuff that shouts, “Hey, looky here!”  Which brings us to paparazzi and tabloids.

Paparazzo (singular of paparazzi, which is plural of paparazzo) is a character in a movie (La Dolce Vida – 1959) who was an obnoxious celebrity-chaser with a camera and a nose for scandalous and prurient news items.  “Obnoxious” in the sense that he got into people’s faces with that flash bulb and saw/reported only a salacious perspective in every activity in which the stalked celebrity engaged.  Subsequently, that name came to be applied to an entire class of…   can we say photo journalists?…   who regularly stalk and ambush celebrities as they go about their daily activities.  Privacy invasion (with those super telephoto lenses) is no biggie with them.  Nor is a shot in the mouth from a pissed-off celebrity who does not want the individual and his camera getting into the cab with him/her, or preventing her/him from exiting the cab.

Tabloids seem to be the place where all those paparazzi shots are displayed (including the one in the mouth).  Whether the photo journalist submits a story with the hard-won pictures or a tabloid “reporter” reviews the pix, then makes up a story from sketchy information provided by the submitter is a mystery rivaling “Sasquatch” and the “yeti.”  Or, maybe no one is consulted; a photo is submitted and a random story from file…   or somewhere…   is tacked onto it.  Like the old dime novels from the 1800’s that glorified famous and infamous celebrities of the time, an ongoing drama surrounding the big name is fabricated and published as a “developing” story.  Really, how many more times can I believe that Angie and Brad are splitting up?

Next up:  Veracity and responsibility

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Merger

Posted on April 1, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The rise of the experts (specialists in a given field) was important in the progress of human social evolutions.  This focus on specific areas allowed improvements (fine tuning) to innovations in every field, including medicine, engineering, navigation, transportation…   and even blog comment spamming.

Traveling circuses and carnivals of yore used an advance man to stir public interest ahead of their arrival at the next stop on their tour.  Experts, climbing higher and higher in their ivory towers, and, their views experiencing unfamiliar competition from an expanding Smart Dude membership base, found that staying on top wasn’t easy.  Protecting the purity of their intellectual turf required frequent and wide distribution of their assertions.  What they needed was a Gatling gun approach to information dissemination, and, that Gutenberg innovation, attended by a retinue of neophytes, should be compliant enough to fulfill that need for publicity.   …Maybe I should say “public authentication.”

The printing business was meandering along, searching for its identity, and the needs of the Great Learned provided a focus for their efforts.  So, between the story of a bar fight over in Shadyville and the fashion highlights of the attendees at the Grand Opera (strictly an upper-class affair), they could now slip in Sir Isaac Newton’s great revelation that things over you head could fall on your head, given the right circumstances.  It is incredible that mankind had mucked along for thousands of millenia unaware of such a thing.  But, like Al Gore’s invention of the internet, Newton’s invention of gravity opened brave new worlds everywhere.  Chalk 2 up for the Great Learned Experts.

As a union, this merger was not destined to last.  On one side, the individuals comprising the Great Learned camp had turf issues (“My idea is better than you idea any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Besides, you don’t even know what you are talking about.”  That kind of professional objectiveness.)  On the other side, veracity seemed to be an issue; actually, a non-issue with some segments who felt a story ought to be just a story, not necessarily an accurate account of anything;  it’s all about sales.  In street jargon, many of these inkers were just sluts for a scoop.  And, never, never forget they had the big P.  Since, for ink fodder, anything with letters or illustrations could be printed, and business was booming through the industrial revolution, the experts needed the grown-up printing industry more than printers needed the experts.  The apprentice became the master.  Information disseminators were now the experts.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Hot Potato Pass

Posted on March 26, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, Mythology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Okay, everybody enjoy those Spam sandwiches while we continue our cruise through historical straits.  Don’t worry about running short on those delicacies, cuz I got a storeroom full of them. 

It’s quite a legacy Gutenberg and his tryst with Pandora left to us.  On the one hand, we have teeming variants of that original pP fungus while, on the other hand, we are tethered to mind control devices that delude us into thinking that other peoples’ thoughts are actually our own.  Sort of a Terran version of the Vulcan mind-meld. 

(I’m still a little miffed with Sydney ’cause I had to scratch my crotch-rot (the word) as a fungal ailment from my Little p Big P post.  She got out there ahead of me with her “firecrotch” bit.   On another note, it is still a mystery how those mountain folk got their hands on that Thor’s Thunder Juice recipe, which — after a few modifications, and more than a few hair-of-the-dog mornings — they dubbed white lightning.)

Back at Olympus (the mountain), we learn that our old friend, Hermes, was a pivotal player in today’s run-amok social intricacies.  At one of their get-to-gathers, the gods thought it would be a ripping good joke to drop a ton of misery and other ill-fortune on all too mortal humanity.  Since guys sort of ran things, it was decided that loosing a clumsy, misfortunate femme-fatale among them would liven things up.  Hermes suggested equipping that body by Zeus with a little box that had a trick lid, sort of like a jack-in-the-box.  The others went for it, and, as the box was passed around, each put in his own little joke:  Ted Koppel, the pox, litigation attorneys, plague, instant messenger, a-bombs, Meet the Press…  Oh, yeah!  Now this was gonna be a hoot.  Hera suggested the name “Susan” but Hermes won the day with his “Pandora” entry.  Hera would have to wait until the 21st Century to see it her way; she hasn’t missed a single episode of Desperate Housewives.

We already found out that Hermes had dumped that big drag — that gopher-of-the-gods thing — onto Mercury.  That gig got old for Mercury, too, and when he saw  a new species of god emerging (that would be a branch of the Great Learned called “experts”) he groaned and then looked around for a suitable patsy…   protegé…  a suitable protegé.  As luck would have it, on one of his courier runs to the Underworld, he passed a back alley where some local drunks were ardently involved in a contest of whose-puddle-has-the-highest-foam.  He started to rush away in disgust when he realized these bozos had Yohan’s recent improvement on the gossip machine, and — in an epiphimous flash — shouted, “THESE are my BOYS!”  And, just like that, the god-like power of the messenger gig was pissed…   er, passed…   passed on to these fresh, wide-eyed…   street drunks?…   who were all caught up in themselves.

Wikipedia thanks me very much for not mentioning them at all this time.

Next up:  The Merger

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Cynicism Redux

Posted on March 25, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, History, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

All hands on deck…   All hands on deck…   All hands on deck!

What we got here is an OFFICIAL COMPLAINT from a (gasp!) bona fide reader.  She is Mary**** @ some college.  Mary****, who found the RSS and Comments feeds before I did, checked “follow future comments,” an action she now deeply regrets.  Seems she is now innundated with multiple emails of the same comment.  She wishes to “unfollow” them, but, I don’t know how that is done.  Thus, this appeal to blog spammers.  (I know this doesn’t help you, Mary****, but, I have over 300 such comments to winnow through and delete, all arriving in the last two weeks.)

Geeze, people, didn’t you see my post where I said I’m highly skeptical of everything?  For example:  There is a recent television ad about quitting something-or-other, and the happy convalescent brags, “I quit something-or-other in just 2 weeks on this program.”  The Program Voice cheerfully chimes in and says, “Yes!  We’ll send you a free 30-day supply just so you can try our successful program.  If you like your results, we’ll sell you more of this stuff.”  See, right there, doubts creep in.  Look at the time-line:  2 weeks after starting that free program, I am cured of my malady.  I now have 2-weeks’ worth of free snake oil left.  The seller has given me a month’s supply, and I’m not going to buy any more because I am cured.   How is the seller going to make money to pay for that television ad?  Surely, the advertiser is not lying about quick results.

Look, all you virtual stowaways, I read that book on blogging for money tips.  I know about back-links.  I know you can do them manually, as in an honest reply to WHAT YOU ACTUALLY READ, or you can get a plug-in to your blog to mass produce “relevant comments” to other blogs.  It’s okay, I mean a few of them sounded genuine, but, I got wise when I read the identical comment three times in succession with only slightly different URLs.  Also, thanking ME for the USEFUL information in the OMG postings was another give away:  those two postings contain NO information, useful or otherwise.  I know, because I WROTE THEM.  Please, for mine and Mary****’s sakes, take your comment blaster and set it to SEMI automatic.  And, take aim before you fire so your comment sorta matches the “awesome” posting your spam machine detected. 

Can’t hurt either to set your timer to about 100 seconds before your “new post” detector detects a new post.  Really, it’s just another clue to spamming when, 45 seconds after I hit “publish” my smart phone alerts me to an e-mail that Yo-Yo Spin liked my post and thought it was awesome.  (I hope there is no one out there calling him-/herself “Yo-Yo Spin.“) 

Next up:  To Be Announced (That’s not the subject, just a note that I haven’t decided yet.)

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

How A Little P Became A Big P

Posted on March 24, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, language, Mythology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

No!  Definitely NOT a physiology class.  More of a chemistry thing.  Previously, we left Yohan (as his buds called him) nursing a world-class hang over, possibly resulting from a bad guilt trip over his soon-to-be-realized ripple effect on global societies.  Or, maybe, from a cheap wine called Thor’s Thunder Juice – 100% Natural.  Can’t corroborate that because history, like expensive PC software today, does suffer considerable “corruption” of its records.  Unlike software (a planned obsolescence product) you cannot buy an upgrade of historical data because — like the software license disclaimer states no one is taking responsibility for lost data.

Judging from the long-term nausea engendered by printing on demand, I have to conclude that Yohan took time out from his copy of Victoria’s Secret (the cookbook) for a late-night assignation with a mysterious vixen called Dora, only to find out later when he clumsily knocked her “jewelry” box off the bed stand that her full name was Pandora, of Greek descent.  Thunder Juice or no, Yohan got down on the floor with her and they both groped around trying to get those little squirmers back into the box.  Yohan did notice that one of the escaped critters seem to blow him a kiss as it disappeared from view.  He described it later as having button-like studs all over it and a little window displaying the letters “xoxo” (there is but one brief account of this in a moldy, later edition of Victoria’s Secret (the cookbook) under “Letters to the Chef).  Yeah.  That’s my story, and…

Now, about the pP thing.  Back then, it was guys that made the world go around.  And, always with guys, size is important.  In the printing business, I’m sure those inkers were very keen on owning the biggest press available, and, over at the local watering hole that catered to printers, et alia, the boast “my press is bigger than your press” got a lot of laughs.  Rapid printing meant that you could get away from printing slow-changing text books and those old and tired authoritarian government edicts and actually blab about something in almost real-time.  These new blabbers called themselves reporters, an obvious ploy to redecorate the term gossip-monger.  Vying to get the best gossip,,,   story...    to the public first, caused an epidemic of swollen egos floating their pride in lots of suds at the local pub.  But, the competition did not end with the longest belch; out back, at the walled trench that passed for a public rest room, the contestants lined up to see whose puddle had the biggest head of foam on it.  The prize:  the winner could now truthfully boast, “My pee is bigger than your pee!”

Back in the press club, this spore group that would propagate like fungus to become reporters, paparazzi, columnists, anchor persons, journalists, bleah, bleah, bleah, came to a common conclusion:  they were BIG in every way.  Big printers, big egos, big pee, big mouths.  It was inevitable that one of them would see the word press and subconsciously realize that “since my pee is bigger than Ed’s pee, the p in my press ought to be bigger than the p in his press.”  So, whenever you see the phrase “The Press,” you are not seeing a claim to elite status, but a brash boast that the touter has come out on top in an ancient, drunken male ritual called a pissing contest.

Next up:  An update on my cynicism

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Meet The Press

Posted on March 22, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, History, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Not the pompous, condescending one;  rather, the simple mechanical device that put thoughts down on paper or another medium so that multiple copies of an idea could be stored, distributed, then re-read later as originally conceived.  And, introduced the plititicians’ catch-phrases “I was misquoted” and “That was taken out of context.”

It was a grand improvement over the quill and ink pot by increasing copy output enormously while, at the same time, cutting down on between-scroll coffee breaks.  These were required to east the pain of scriber’s cramps, a special problem in the full-page, hand-drawn illustration department.  There were probably other occupational hazards associated with scribing, such as annoying calluses and author-itis.  Production moved at a snail’s pace in those writing rooms.

Enter Johannes Gutenberg, a German of the Holy Roman Empire.  He grew up in a time (mid 1400’s) when the brew screw (a.k.a., the wine-press) was a top-of-the-line techno device and the buzz on the grape-vine was that the printing press was a spin-off from that basic schematic.  Gutenberg grooved to the tune, and — half way through a Saturday night keg and totally engrossed in his Victoria’s Secret book (a cook book of little known culinary tips) — he envisioned letters swimming around in his snoop and thought, “Wow!  If I just move this “p” and that “n” around, I could be using a “spoon” to eat this stuff.”  That thought was punctuated by the sound of his head thudding against the hay-strewn floor as he slipped into an alcoholic stupor.

Sunlight can be cruel, especially when you peep through red-rimmed eyelids to expose blood-shot eyeballs, all to the music of Thor’s hammer richocheting around the inside of your skull.  But, our hero was a metal worker and innovator, enamored (if only a little) with the printing business.  To his credit, he held tight to the snoop-spoon revealed in his wine quest.  His sobered-up version made for the quick and accurate mass-production of moving metal type.  So, to summarize:  Gutenberg got hammered, humankind’s social path got forked, and, not so coincidentally, so did humankind.

Gutenberg’s hammer (pun intended) thundered through the printing industry of the times, and echoes even today as we “lol, omg, u2, bff, xoxo and :)” through that red light back there.  Information, regardless of its source, veracity, or pertinence, is almost instantly available to anyone — and there is the rub.  (Hamlet probably hasn’t slept well since I started hacking at this web log.)

Oh, crap!  A note from Wikipedia We don’t know where you are finding this information, but if you are going to put our name down as source, at least use some of our information.  Fair enough;  the time period and his name are correct and wine press is spelled correctly.  Kudos to Wikipedia.

Next:  How a little “p” became a big “P”

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...