Tag Archives | Primates of the Past

Ten indisputable facts about Canada
(Part One: History)

To commemorate Canada Day tomorrow, I thought it might be useful to clear up some common myths people have about Canada and Canadian history. Many of the readers of The Skwib come from outside Canada, so this brief history may be especially helpful to you (though we Canadians can always learn more about our rich history too):

One: The Vikings

Leif the Abbrasive and his butch roadiesThe first Europeans to arrive in Canada were the Vikings, in 1009, making this the 1000-year anniversary of this important (factual) historical event. Their leader, Leif The Abrasive, was told by several Irish monks that a “vast and rich land” lay across the Atlantic Ocean. Leif, who was torturing them at the time, took them at their word and immediately launched a massive invasion. Many of the longboats sank in the crossing, but the core band arrived in Newfoundland (which the Vikings hopefully called “Vinland”, as they expected to find many fine wines in this new world — a hope which would not be fulfilled until the early 1990s.) Initially, the Viking settlement was successful, winning several Juno Awards — a kind of Canadian Grammy — but soon they split because of “creative differences”. Little was heard of them afterwards, but one of the members later had an interesting show about the early days of Viking rock on CBC Radio.

Two: Other Invasions

The preferred method of trapping beaverThe next massive invasion came from the French, who had an insatiable thirst for beaver. Eventually, the British invaded too, declaring that they too had a hunger for “beaver and other pelts”, but really they were just jealous of the French, who were so good at trapping and mating with the cute, industrious rodents. Throughout this period, the aboriginal populations of Canada (erroneously called “Indians” because of the navigationally challenged racist Christopher Columbus), tried to cope with their perverted new neighbors, though they never understood them.

Three: Canada” does not mean “village”

Lord Alfred O. Canada, shortly before he incinerated York (now Toronto)Many people believe the name Canada is based on the Iroquois word “kanata” or “village.” The sad truth is Canada is named after Lord Alfred O. Canada, the first Twit Plenipotentiary sent by the British Crown to rule over the beaver-addled country with an iron fist (he’d lost his original hand in the Battle of Ipswich — fought between the Dutch, the French and the British over who was going to pick up the check at the annual Let’s Rape the New World Convention and BeaverFest) and his laser-beam-firing eyes. (He is a ancestor of Queen Victoria.) Though he was a twit, his powerful eyes were capable of leveling cities and the primitive flintlocks used at the time could not penetrate the force shield he was able to generate with the power of his idiocy. He fed himself on a steady diet of French babies and British virgins (who were plentiful in the Age of the Pox). Many were lost in the battle against the depredations of Lord Alfred or “he who should not be named”, but eventually, he was tricked into getting into a canoe just upriver of Niagara Falls. (The clever rebel force had placed a sign on the canoe that said, “fresh French baby here”.) When he was in the canoe, confused by the lack of baby, the plucky freedom fighters pushed the canoe into the swift current. The heroic rebels were vaporized by Lord Alfred’s fiery gaze, but their plan had succeeded: the Twit Plenipotentiary fell to his death as not even his incredibly stupidity field could save him. Niagara Falls is a venerated site because of this history, and most Canadians will, at some point, make the pilgrimage to Niagara Falls where they will watch with reverence as they gaze at the power of the natural wonder for at least five minutes. They will then spend the afternoon looking at freaks. Canadians decided to take the name that they has formerly been afraid to utter, and use it to remind themselves of their resilience and fortitude. Furthermore, early Canadians immortalized this story by turning it into Canada’s national anthem:

O. Canada,
You evil, nasty man,
Never again will babies be e-a-ten!
With glowing hearts we see thee fall
Thy hand of iron a weight.
From far and wide, O. Canada
With you we’re quite irate.
God keep our land, British twit free!
O. Canada we stand on guard from thee.
O. Canada we stand on guard from thee.

Four: The National Capital Region

Rare dagguerreotype of morlockDespite the victory over Lord Alfred O. Canada, the British Crown continued to make decisions for thepeoples of Canada — they just stopped sending the twits here, and made their determinations in the UK; this is why the capital of the country is in Ottawa. Sitting on the south bank of the Ottawa River, the city is the fourth-coldest capital within parsecs. The only colder capitals are Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), Moscow (Russia) and Pakit! (Hoth). What many people do not realize is that it is also a) one of the most humid capitals in the world (in the months of June-August) and b) the center of an underground civilization populated by Morlocks. The Morlocks, as you know, see human beings as a food source, but they are quite conservative in their culling practices, which incorporate a model of sustainability and eugenics rarely seen. The Morlocks have found that it is most efficient to eat only the most intelligent males in the National Capital Region. This explains the predominance of women in the civil service (one of Ottawa’s major industries). One supposes the Morlocks do not cull the intelligent females, because they are confident that the remaining male population will be of little interest to them. In fact, Queen Victoria’s twits actually knew about this, which is why they built Canada’s parliament in this region, ensuring the safety of Canada’s politicians for generations to come. (At this point in history, they still held out hopes that they might return to Canada and rule in person.) Note: Many textbooks will tell you that Ottawa was not made the capital until 1867, but this is, in fact, a typo. It was 1847.

Five: The BNA Act

John Alexander Despite their alleged abhorrence of violence, Canadians have traditionally been fierce warriors. During the War of 1812, for example, Canada was defended from US invaders not by the British Army, nor our own irregular troops (they were all engaged in a real war with Napoleon Bonaparte), but by a cadre of little schoolgirls and one-legged lumberjacks. (Thus explaining the draw, or if you’re a student of American history, the “victory”.) No warrior was more fierce than the Scottish-born firebrand John Alexander “The Madman” Macdonald. He rose to prominence during the first Zombie War, 1837, and was elected to Parliament. (It is worth noting that The Madman is one of the few intelligent politicians to survive Morlock culling practices; while he was still young and hale, The Madman would spend many an evening in the underground world, doing a little culling of his own. (He led a group of Morlock-hunters called the Association of Really Ripped Gentlemen (ARRG) in his off-hours.) As he aged, The Madman discovered that he was able to feign stupidity by keeping himself “well-medicated” with scotch. Despite this impediment, he was still able to convince the British crown to allow Canada to govern itself, forming a “Confederation” under the Beaver Not Actually needed Act. (BNA Act.) This forms, essentially, the constitution of Canada. After achieving Confederation, Macdonald went on to enlist the help of the Association of Really Ripped Gentlemen (ARRG) in building a railroad across Canada, eliminating all the vampires from the Northwest Territories, and inventing the game of hockey.

Part Two (Culture) here!

Thanks to Maxarchivist for the viking pic and Andrew for the beaver & Whatsthatpicture for the shot of O. Canada.

Alltop has a fondness for rodents of unusual size. Originally published in June 2009.

The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Sir Thomas More Edition)

Sir Thomas More, painted by Hans Holbein, circa 1527Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide three

  • several religions
  • sun-worshipers, moon-worshipers, Uranus-worshipers (the worst of them)
  • but the best religion worships an incomprehensible Deity.

Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide five

their most ancient law:

  • no man ought to be punished for his religion
  • not even the evil-smelling Uranus-worshipers.

Sir Thomas More presents “The Religions of Utopia” (circa 1515) –> slide six

  • liberty needed so they can decide:
  • which religion is true and which is false
  • also, dignity of human values more important than religious dogma.

Sir Thomas More presents “Burning Lutherans” (circa 1530) –> slide 5

  • heresy against Church is a disease
  • started with burning Protestant books
  • now onto followers of Martin Luther
  • (but I only burned six).

Sir Thomas More:

“A man of an angel’s wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.” ~ Robert Whittington (1520, before More’s “pyro” phase)

In addition to being an all-weather dude, More also was burner of heretics, or Lutherans as we know them now. Alltop is burning hot with humor. Originally published Dec. 7, 2007.

A Brief History of the Unicorn: Part One, The Bible

An arty photo of a kickass sculpture of a unicornWikipedia claims the unicorn is a mythological creature, and I call bullshit on that.

The unicorn is not mythological. The kraken is mythological. Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, is a mythological beast. These are animals that defy logic and the physical rules of the universe — seriously, a snake that encircles the earth? The unicorn, however, is just a superior, yet extinct, animal.

The unicorn, or onus cornu, was once plentiful on the subcontinent of India, and in survived in secluded glades throughout Eurasia up through the 17th century, until humans hunted them into extinction. (As we are won’t to do with all the really cool animals, such as jabberwocky and jackalope.)

This brief series is intended to explain the nature of the unicorn, and its part in human history.

The Unicorn through the Ages

Part One: The Bible

References to unicorns are scattered throughout the historical record, no more obvious than in Deuteronomy, where Moses discusses the nature of the unicorn and God:

Adam looked at the beast, and said: “This shall be a horse.”

And to Jaweh he said, “truly lord, you are magnificent, what could be more awesome?”

The Earth shook, and Jaweh said, “screw you Adam. What could be more awesome. I am more awesome.”

And Adam said, “well, that goes without saying ye who have created, literally, everything. You are the tops. But I meant in terms of non-predatory beasts. What could be better than a horse? It’s fast. It carries a great load. It’s gait is proof of your existence. And it even smells nice.”

Jaweh said, “what if it smelled like marshmallows?”

And Adam asked, “oh tell me, Lord, what is a marshmallow?”

This just angered Jaweh, and he said, “you know what would make this more awesome? Something that let it kill predators. Like a giant freakin’ horn made of gold. And it should have a kick-ass beard like me, and something flashy for a tail. Like the one I did for the lion. And instead of a regular hoof, it has cloven hooves. And only virgins can ride them. And they shall be immensely strong.”

Adam was stunned by the beauty of the unicorn, and he wanted to ride it, but Jaweh said only Eve could ride it, and only before it had taken her as a man takes a woman.

And Adam said, “who is Eve?”

Jaweh said, “oh, right. We haven’t got there yet.”

Alltop definitely doesn’t smell like marshmallows. Photo of Mardi Storm sculpture via Gabe Gross.

Refugees from the Zombie Apocalypse

It was their last refuge — the sea.

Having escaped death at the hands of brain-hungry zombies, these poor people have now had to endure days at sea on this makeshift raft. At first, it was kind of fun. They played “I Spy”, the geography game, and when the seas were calm enough, charades. But then they ran out of food and good spirits. Of the 150 survivors for the zombie apocalypse who got on the raft, only 15 survived the days of madness, starvation, dehydration and an ironic bit of cannibalism.

Then they landed on the coast, where they were eaten by waiting zombies.

Of course, this tale is only a bit less horrible then the historical event it is actually based on. The Raft of the Medusa was painted by the French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault in 1818-1819; he picked this topic because he knew it would be controversial and help to launch his career. The historical event, the scandal it caused, and the painting it inspired are all described in Death and the Masterpiece.

Alltop doesn’t think it should be called cannibalism if you only ate one foot. See the gallery of all the Famous paintings with SF Titles here.

Selected Media Fads Through the Ages

Von Willendorf venus statue, circa 24,000 bce

24,000-22,000 BC: chunky fertility goddess statues (pictured at right: notice the prominent and large brains.)

10,000 BC: cave painting

4,000 BC: ziggurat construction

3,000-1,250 BC: pyramid raising (later revived by Mesoamericans and I.M. Pei)

1480-1700: Witch burning

1500s: homoerotic sonnet writing

1600s: pirate singing

1700s: pamphleteering

1760-1762: spreading syphilis

1790s: opera

1800s: novel-writing

1900-1914: being optimistic about the future

1919-1922: cutting up pieces of paper and pulling them out of a hat, also, painting

1925: jazz music

1927: soap-based radio

1933: burning books (mostly in Germany)

1951: find-the-commie (kind of like peek-a-boo, but with Senators)

1964: screaming (usually Beatle-related)

1966: TV

1976: disco

1977: DIY pet rocks

1982-1988: taking odds on Reagan-related nuclear holocaust

1987-1997: making answering machine messages (see below)

1998: web sites about your cat

1999: cappuccino drinking (related to dot-com bubble)

2000: looking forward to the future (this didn’t last as long as the previous fad in this genre)

2003: Friendster

2004-2005: blogging

2006: MySpace

2007: Facebook

April 2008: Twitter

2009 (Jan.-Aug): talking/writing/broadcasting about Twitter in MSM.

2009, Sep. 15: Blogging (again, briefly, but only about Dan Brown’s latest “masterstroke of storytelling”

2010 (Jan.-Feb.):getting really excited about the release of the iPad.

2010 (Mar.-May): trying to remember what all the fuss about the iPad was all about.

Answering machine messages: the most important creative outlet of the nineties!

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Video here if it doesn’t beep. (via)

Alltop and enjoys their Bebo. Originally published September, 2009.