Jul 19, 2006

Such a Nerd!

By B.E. Earl

07/19/2006 08:13 PM EST

Hey kids! And no…I’m not talking about Slyde. I’m referring to myself, actually. I was watching TV last night and I realized that more and more I am watching the programming on The History Channel and The Discovery Channel. Yes, I know the more enlightened of you have been watching for some time now. But if it wasn’t reality TV, a Yankee game or a good movie, it was likely that I wasn’t going to watch it.

When did that change? When did I become an info-tainment geek? I have no idea, but those two channels have gradually become my daily stomping grounds in the land of cable. Here are some of the fun things that I’ve learned on the boob-tube in the past few weeks:

The Little Ice Age (14th - 19th century) – This was never in any history book I read while I was in school. This period was hi-lighted (in my opinion) by the Year Without a Summer in 1816 following the 1815 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia. Heavy snowfall and frost were reported that year in much of New England and Northern Europe in both June and July! 1816 was also known as the Poverty Year or as Eighteen hundred and froze to death. Many New Englanders, fearing the worst, struck out for the West in an unprecedented move to warmer climates. The wet and cool summer of 1816 forced Mary Shelley, John William Polidori and some of their friends to stay indoors. They invented a writing contest to see who could write the scariest story. The results were "Frankenstein" by Shelley and "The Vampyre" by Polidori! How awesome is that?

Saladin ruled! – Muslim warrior and famous enemy of the Crusaders from the 12th century who united the Arab states under his extraordinary military prowess. Saddam Hussein likened himself to a Saladin, often referring to himself as a “modern-day Salah al-Din”. Curious in that Hussein waged a war of genocide against the Kurds in Northern Iraq, while Saladin himself was a Kurd. That, my friends, is how I like my irony served.

Paper crossbows don’t work – Apparently it is nearly impossible to construct a crossbow out of cardboard and paper and use it effectively to escape from prison. Well, I guess I kinda already knew that already. Oh yeah, and a helium-filled football will only travel slightly more than a regular air-filled one.

Asteroids will eventually kill us all! – Large meteors, asteroids or comets have hit the Earth in the past. Some believe that the extinction of the dinosaurs was a result of a large collision with one of these objects. It has happened before, it will happen again! Wait…never mind. I learned that last one from the Charlton Heston introduction to the film Armageddon. See…movies are educational.

Bigfoot was REAL! – Well at least there may be some scientific evidence that both man and a giant ape classified as Gigantopithecus blacki co-existed in Asia around 300,000 years ago. Although tales of its enormous size, largely due to its name, are hard to substantiate, it is possible that this co-habitation led to tales of the Yeti and Bigfoot-type creatures in many mythologies. Neato!

Eureka! I've done it! I've at long last proved the existence of Grape Ape!"