Looking Back and Looking Forward

Posted on December 27, 2014


In order to celebrate the start of a new year, the January 2015 issue of National Geographic is chock-full of “firsts” throughout the history of the world. 

NatGeo starts with the Earliest Ideas. The very first was fire. Fire was great for about a million years.  Now we only use it when we go camping or watching a film of a roaring fire in a fireplace on TV. Other Earliest Ideas are on their way to becoming passe also, like stamps, paper money, and Congress.

The First Time: Sexual initiation is important for every species on the planet. NatGeo, having endless examples of sexual initiation from which to choose, decided to have it represented by the male hump-winged Grig. Grig waits all his life for a good romp between the sheets.  What he gets, in addition to loss of his innocence, is loss of his body parts.  The female Grig, the ultimate golddigger, chomps on the male during sex, giving rise to the popular phrase, “She took me for everything I was worth.”

The First Human and Animal Figures: Two hundred and sixty-five thousand years ago, volcanic rock was discovered in Israel that bore a striking resemblance to a female figure. Breasts, hips, thighs, and butt are all prominent. Or, scientists admit, it may be an ordinary rock viewed as sexual by a bunch of archaeologists who have been out in the field for entirely too long.

The First Cave Painters: Thirty-nine thousand years ago, some men left the actual hunt in order to paint representations of the hunt. It was likely that their mates didn’t understand the significance of what they had created, instead screeching “What!? Am I supposed to eat a picture of a mammoth?!”  For the next 39,000 years, artists have followed this path and have been generally misunderstood.

The First Year of Life: The first year of life is critical for humans.  It is during this period that sleep, energy, and brain matter are transferred from parents to their children. By the end of the first year of life, many babies are walking, talking, and becoming sociable.  Parents are drooling, sleep-deprived beings, who dine on mashed food and lose the capability to absorb anything other than books with lots of pictures and printed on heavy cardboard.

The First Glimpse of Dark Matter and Dark Energy: There is probably a lot of fascinating stuff about this topic in this section. Life in the Boomer Lane admits to not only not understanding any of the words in this section but also not understanding any of the photos. The only photo caption she was even vaguely able to appreciate was one that said “A Survey of Cosmic Repulsion.”  This sounded like the subtitle of an article about online dating. But LBL believes this was, perhaps, not what the writers of NatGeo intended.

The First Humans in North America: The section starts with a reconstruction of what NatGeo calls the “face of the first American.” It’s a female, probably a young teen, found in a Yucatan cave.  She died about 12,000-13,000 years ago. Had she lived into the twenty-first century, she would be able to provide us with a wealth of information about her world.  This would consist of boys she had crushes on, teachers she hated, and best friends who were dissing her for other friends.

The Earliest Human Habitation in North America: Kudos to a valley in central Texas, settled about 15,000 years ago. This valley was an outstanding site for hunter-gatherers, the evolution of high school football, and the discovery of child beauty pageants.

Most scientists would agree that there have been more Firsts in the last hundred years or so than there have been in the million or so years before. With the exception of chocolate being introduced to Europe in 1519, and the introduction of coffee Haagen Dazs in 1960,  LBL isn’t able to process any of them. Instead, she proposes a toast to 2015, in which even more amazing and incredible technology will be developed that will change our lives in very profound ways. But none as much as chocolate and coffee Haagen Dazs.