Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 4

One out of 14 readers on my blog ( Yes, 14 readers this year. That's a 16.67% improvement over last year's count of 12. And 40% growth over five years. Yes, business is good!) ask me why I do this. For those who dont know what I'm talking about, read part 1, part 2 and part 3 to catch up on what has happened so far. Now coming back to the question. To answer this one, I'll quote another infinitely more famous historian who said, "The only way the history will be kind to me is if I take up the job of writing it myself". There! I said too! Feel free to quote me. Now back to your favourite lessons in History:

1500 AD: Peter Henlein of Germany invents the portable watch. He relocates to Switzerland immediately on finding favourable economic conditions, because for the first time in history, time is money!

1503 AD: Leonardo Da Vinci introduces a technique called "Sfumato" or "Leonardo's Smoke" to create an elusive smile on the Mona Lisa. The curators asked him what he was smoking.

1508 AD: Michelangelo misses the deadlines on his "deliverables". He starts working on the Sistine Chapel a few minutes after being told by his employers that the shit has well and truly hit the roof.

1513 AD: Ponce de Leon discovers "Fountain of Youth" somewhere near Florida. Centuries later, senior citizens are still trying locate it.

1518 AD: The world's first rave party is held at Strasbourg. Nearly 50 die after dancing non-stop for days on the trot. Hundreds of others died laughing.

1522 AD: Ferdinand Megallan claims to have circumnavigated the world. His critics believe he just took a u-turn of Atlantic proportions, and confiscated his license for disregard of traffic rules.

1531 AD: At the end of a decade long search of gold, silver and a non-existent passage to China, all that Hernando de Soto discovered were thousands of bottles of super spicy ketchup near Tabasco, Mexico.

1543 AD: Copernicus publishes a paper to tell the church that the Universe doesn't revolve around them.

1558 AD:  Georgius Agricola, the "Father of Mineralogy", publishes his De re metallica. More than four centuries later, his work proves to be a repository of names for noisy musicians.

1570 AD: Hurt by the name people have given him for killing thousands, Ivan the Terrible orders another hundreds of thousands to be killed.

1582 AD: Tired of seeing so many men mess up with their dates, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar.

1591 AD: First flush toilet is introduced by Sir John Harrington of England. He now turns in his grave every time somebody pays him a tribute to him and 'goes to the John'.

Much seems to have happened in the 16th century alone. Well, lets just say things started getting interesting from here on. So until the 17th century, so long.    


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 3

History is fun when you don't have to remember the details. (If you do insist on the details, you can always revisit Part 1 and Part 2, and commit them to memory). However, the best parts of History never seem to make it to the textbooks. Here is another sample of History that you never heard from your history teacher.

1008 AD: Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu writes The Tale of Genji, the world's first ever novel. The writer was so far ahead of her time, that there were no NY Times or Oprah Winfrey to help her sell. As a result, it was never slod, and thrust upon the people by her boyfriend, who was one influential princely types. It was only after the world's second novel came, a good century or so later that people acknowledged the superiority of Genji. 

1043 AD: Lady Godiva protested against the high taxes, and went on to become every young boy’s pin up girl till Playboy introduced centerfolds some 923 years later.

1125 AD: Romans introduced the Roman numerals, just to please their salaried employees from Spain, Greece and the rest of Italy. How else could they be earning a meager amount of LXXXVIII a year, and still fell like they take home a respectable 8-figure salary?

1185 AD: The first windmills appear in Netherlands. Its popularity is credited to a bunch of Marketing execs, who could sell this idea on the strength of some wind.

1215 AD: King John signs Magna Carta Libertatum at Runnymede. Six years later, when he finally read the colloquial translation, he uttered what was perhaps his greatest contribution to the Queen’s language – “Bollocks!”

1291 AD: The Swiss Confederation of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden forms. Together, they decide to go cuckoo!

1297 AD: The world’s first stock exchange set up, but nobody seems to be interested in the Facebook shares.

1337 AD: The Hundred Years’ War begins when the English lay claim to the French Throne.

1338 AD: A good number of soldiers put in their papers when their employers tell them that it would be another 99 years before they would get an increment.

1492 AD: After a drunken night, Christopher Columbus decides to sail to India, but ends up taking a wrong turn.

1497 AD: Without anyone noticing him, Amerigo Vespucci tiptoes his way to take Christopher Columbus’ sea route, names the lands after himself, and returns. The only flaw in his plan was his handwriting, which was so illegible that “Go” was mistaken to be “Ca”.

With the discovery of a new world, historians of the time were suddenly burdened with the task of documenting a whole new set of events. What say we take a break here and resume with another new chapter? Tomorrow perhaps. What’s that you say? Next week? Because one week cannot change the course of a 500-year history? Agreed! Next week then.    

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 2

We'll begin the second post on historical timelines with 1 BC, when our ancestors solved the 6000 year old mystery of what BC really stood for. To understand life before this monumental year in history, read my earlier post.
126 AD - Emperor Hardian builds the Pantheon for all the Roman Gods, who are actually Greek Gods with Italian passports that were not issued in Sicily

301 AD - Magnetic compass invented in China. Cheaper Magnetic compass made in Taiwan. Men still go wrong with directions.

364 AD - The Japanese begin to spread their influence on Korea. The exercise continues till very recently, when LG pipped Sony to become the world's best selling LED TV.

433 AD - A year after St Patrick arrives in Ireland, the first Irish drinking song is written. The famous lyrics "aye di aye di aye di aye di aye di aye" was a contribution of one suitably drunk Di O'Bolic, who was busy introducing himself to everyone at the bar.

458 AD - The use of Zero is documented for the first time in an Indian Mathematical Treatise. The rest of the world responds with a terse "Thanks for Nothing!"

6th Century AD, King Arthur is born sometime in this century. Nobody however, remember his birthday ( or even birth year). He was perhaps the first man in history to have his cake and eat it too.

681 AD - Bulgars arrive in the Balkans. In the absence of any kind of security systems, like the Bulgar Alarms, the visitors set up an empire.

732 AD - Annual travelers around Europe are in a dilemma as to which is a better holiday spot - South France or Andalusia, Spain. This leads to a battle among the promoting countries, that's famously referred to as the Battle of the Tours. 

756 AD - The Mayans declare year 2012 as the end of the world. The entire civilization gets consumed by a Drink-until-you-die promotion launched by enterprising bar owners.

807 AD - The Beowulf turns 100. It was still considered too early to be celebrating with a Google Doodle.

917 AD - The Last of the Three Lions escape from England. They try and negotiate a payment deal with the circus owners at Madrid, Milan or even Munich during the January transfer season.

982 AD -  Leif Ericsson discovers America, but he couldn't find it on the map. Decides to go back home to Norway, and give his shrink a visit.

 We'll begin the next post with another monumental year, 1000 AD - when people were poor with dates, and History still had very few takers.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 1

6732 BC - Man discovers fire. He later uses it to destroy all other documents that provide evidence for his worthless existence up until then. For the first time in history, history is rewritten.

3724 BC - After nearly 3000 years of destroying his surroundings with fire, man discovers the wheel. One enterprising chap puts together three more wheels to use it as a vehicle so as to spread the effects of fire. Once every few years, he gets lost. So he invents a map, and gives it to his wife.

2918 BC - A geometry teacher loses his patience with an Egyptian king, who simply could not visualise the Pyramid. Decides to build a very large pyramid and then bury the king in it. A lesson to students who just refuse to understand.

1876 BC - After being beaten embarrassingly in a game of Jenga, one rich merchant in England swears revenge. After years of training, he beats his nemesis convincingly. And just to make his landmark victory known to the world, he recreates his opponent's moment of failure with 100 tonne stones. Thousands of years later, historians would still wonder what the Stone Henge was all about.

778 BC - Money first appears in Persia

776 BC - China makes its first move to kill world commerce by setting up an industry to manufacture counterfeit money

525 BC - First Naked Olympics organised. Much to the disappointment of male audiences, women refuse to participate!

431 BC - Pepolonnesian war begins. The lawyers on two sides agree on a peace treaty, but fail to agree on the spelling of Polenepposian. The impasse continues for 27 years, as does the war, before they finally zero in on Peloponnesian as a suitably long name to describe a highly confusing war.

214 BC - Tired of pesky neighbours, one Chinese king decides to build a wall. On seeing the noble king lay the first stone, millions of Chinese decide to become a part of history and lay one brick each. Some began to compete with their neighbours, by laying more bricks than the other. This competition goes on till a 1500-mile wall is built, and thoudands are rendered homeless because their families are left on the other side of the wall.

50 BC - Julius Caesar decides to go to France on a holiday, and ends up giving Goscinny and Uderzo enough material for over 30 comic books.

4 BC - Calender Manufacturers are given a four year deadline to standardise the measurement of years. Many try and attribute some significance to the year, so as to rename it. 

( The next installment of the timeline will begin from the time when man discovers the latest form of entertainment - blasphemy!)