History, Humor, Humans


Bad news for the Neanderthals: dig-sites in South Africa show sophisticated techniques were involved in making very fine stone blades 71,000 years ago. Adding those to the existing tool-box of  spears, arrows and teamwork and there was no stopping H. sapiens as we moved out of Africa.

A fresh glimpse of the cosmopolitan Baghdad of 1000 years ago: the well known and revered 11th-century scholar of the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi knew well that even the most serious minded person needed a bit of levity. To this end he penned “The Art of Party Crashing“, a tongue-in-cheek guide for party crashers. According to Emily Selove of the University of Manchester, who did the translation, “Though it’s light and really quite an enjoyable read, there are serious messages too. The book is about generosity and encouraging individuals to express themselves eloquently and clearly.” It’s got some good jokes, too.

A new chemical study of old English coins are helping unravel the centuries-old mystery of what happened to all the silver that Spaniards dug out of the New World and adds hard data to theories linking the transatlantic influx of silver to price inflation across Europe from about 1515 to 1650.

‘E was born in Wales, I tell thee! A usurper Kynge of foreign birth and not from around here! He drippeth in Socialism and is bounde to seize our bowes! Dr. Cliff Davies says his research shows the term “Tudor” was barely ever used during the time of Tudor monarchs, possibly due to the need to establish legitimacy in the eyes of their English subjects and the name’s association with Wales. 

Low word-play and franchised sequels were as common in world of 17-century English porn as they are today.  A New Description of Merryland (1741), in which  ‘Merryland’, a fictional pornographic utopia in which the terrain is described as a woman’s body, sparked a set of a set of prints entitled A Compleat Set of Charts of the Coasts of MerrylandThe School of Venus, a translation of the French pornographic work, L’Escole des Filles, was another popular title. Having read it thoroughly, Samuel Pepys described the book in his diary entry for February 9th, 1668 as ‘a mighty lewd book, but yet not amiss for a sober man once to read over to inform himself in the villainy of the world’. He did, however, quickly burn it, fearing his wife might find it.

From printing, to photography, to the internet: all new communications technologies have been driven by porn and there is no reason to suppose this will ever change.


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