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.

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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

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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”

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