The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverant Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits
I took a week off of work last week and used it to clean and do laundry and just veg. I think I needed it because I've fallen so behind with everyone staying with me. I'm still not caught up but it's not unsurmountable and that's just a relief. I also voted and dropped off the ballots for everyone else in the house. It was a group trip. No idea how this election is going to go but I've done my bit.
There's also a hurricane somewhere in the ocean (or a bad storm) because my nerves are on fire. My migraines have shifted and now I have a pronounced sensory aura. When WebMD says that you can have "pins and needles, or burning" it really underestimates what that means. Burning, for me, feels like my nerves (which I can feel) are on fire. It stops me cold. I'm also getting nauseous.
BUT the head pain itself is less. So, it's a trade off I'll take. I guess the medicine is working. Although my doctor pointed out that the aura might have always been there in some form but I didn't notice it because my head pain was so bad and constant. So now I notice all the other things. That was a sobering thought.
Whatever. I'm going to be slow today but it'll get done eventually. I read this book over a period of weeks as it's a lot of information. I think it's a basic recap of what you (should have) learned in high school/middle school history class. Unless you went to the charter school in Texas my cousins (and a few state/national representative's children) went to. They're....dumb. That's not nice to say but there were some hefty payouts for college admission (the "normal" way, not the Operation Varsity way) and lots of remedial courses. I guess dumb isn't the right word, they're uneducated because the charter school failed them. Of course, since there are no (or few) regulations around charter schools there wasn't any safety net where administrators could come in and clean it up. Their mom is furious because my safety school wouldn't admit any of her kids. I don't really understand the total of Texas social scene but apparently the state school which was my safety is where a certain social class goes. I don't know. She explained it to me when I was applying and I had it as a safety as my family was nearby but I chose a different school in the end. I tutored two of her kids through the remedial classes by phone. On top of the tutoring they got at college. So they passed eventually but those remedial classes don't carry the same level of credit as the history 101 stuff if I remember correctly. I asked a lot of questions about their charter school (middle + high) because I couldn't figure out HOW they had graduated without knowing the basic stuff. They learned creationism (and ONLY that) and that all dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as the Early Civilization peoples (ummm...). Also, they learned that Benjamin Franklin was a President (he was not).
I feel like I've blabbed on a few things I probably shouldn't have. There are just certain children of certain politicians who have been ill served by the environment their fathers (and grandfathers created). I guess you get what you vote for. Not my problem...except now we have a huge bunch of idiots running around.
We should talk about the book. Yup.
Title: Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits
Author: Eric Sass, Steve Wiegand, Will Pearson, and Mangesh Hattikudur
Page Number: 397 (hardcover)
Genre: history, nonfiction, humor, reference
Publisher: Harper Collins
“An irreverent romp through history’s best bits,” The Mental Floss History of the World is an amazingly entertaining joyride through 60,000 years of human civilization. As audacious as it is edifying, here is a hilarious and irreverent—yet always historically accurate—overview of the ascent (or descent) of humankind, courtesy of the same rebel geniuses who brought you Mental Floss presents Condensed Knowledge and Mental Floss Presents Forbidden Knowledge. Updated with all the hot topics and events of the past few years, The Mental Floss History of the World is proof positive that just because something’s true doesn’t mean it’s boring.
This book reminded me of those Uncle John books that were "bathroom books." I swear I got then at Costco or something. I have no idea where I picked up the Mental Floss book but somehow it ended up at my house and I decided to power read it during lunch over the course of a few weeks.
A lot of the stuff inside is fairly basic (as they cover quite a few subjects). I would note that it's far more Western/European focused. There are other parts of history in other parts of the world mentioned but there were only a few new (to me) moments that caught my eye. I wrote in my notes that "'History of the World' is a bit grandiose, it's a huge focus on European history with occasional looks at China, Japan, India and the Americas upon European contact. I think parts got convoluted because of Imperialism and world spread of Empire building.
You'll notice that I didn't even mention Africa or Oceania. They have a segment of Bantu history and few other paragraphs of other events in Africa (it's a large continent!). Other parts of Asia or Oceania get a paragraph or ignored. Which is why I mentioned it's Euro-centric.
After awhile (like by the second chapter) I wrote sporadic notes on events or quotes I liked. So I was a bit rubbish on writing down my thoughts like I normally do. For instance, I noted that their explanation of Holland's Tulip Bulb Bubble was simplistic but overall decent. There have been books written on this time frame of Dutch history and it's used as a historic case study in quite a few economic classes (between the myth and truth). I also noted that their mention of the slave trade to the Americas only noted what happened to many slaves in North America. Slavery existed in South/Central America as well and sometimes gets left out of history, which is unfortunate as it lessens the horror of the global slave trade during this time. Many issues that affect North America also affect areas of Central/South America and the Carribeans. Obviously, a tid-bit book like this can't cover everything in depth but that's not the point of it. It's one of those points that could be both in a pro et contra conversation.
I also wrote things like this "Chile pepper to China-interesting" and " Longitude/Latitude-book on this" which isn't helpful in the long-term. What book was I referring to!! The chile pepper thing is in reference to actual chile peppers and how these peppers went around the world and eventually ended up in cuisine from other countries, specifically in this case to many Chinese regional cuisines. The article and other places spell it chile but I've always spelled it chili and I've spent far too long checking how it's spelled worldwide (chili seems to be American-ish, chile is a Spanish spelling (including Hispano-Americans as well!). Dorkily thrilling.
Other random tidbits I took note of were the (forced) reopening of Japan to the American market in 1853. This was done under Commodore Matthew Perry during Millard Filmore's presidency. A couple of pages later, the American Navy fought the Barbary pirates at Tripoli (which is a line from their anthem as well). I wrote down Sherman (moving to the Civil War now) quote because I thought it was apt no matter the age.
Source: AZ Quotes
I also noted that the book covered some more cultural aspects of history. Childbirth in Europe (or at least the UK as that's the only country listed here) considered the pain that occurred during as God's punishment's for Eve's original sin in the Origin of Man story from the Bible. Obviously this was all created by a dude. Same misogynistic nonsense that's been going on forever. Anyways, Queen Victoria, the non-feminist but trend setting matriarch, had chloroform during her childbirth, letting the public ease up on childbirth rules. Well, stupid rules. Now, the book said it was from Prince Arthur in 1850, but another book has it as Prince Leopold in 1853.
There's an excerpt of the book on the publisher's website, as well as links to where to buy the book.
Overall, the book is a nice quick, basic look at snippets of history (mostly Euro-centric). If anything is of interest, there are more books that deal with that (i.e. childbirth, the Qin Emperor, witchcraft, Zulu history). I believe I've kept this but with the knowledge that it's mostly Euro-centric and there wasn't a ton of "new" things in it for me to learn. It's a fun little coffee book and I think that's a good place for it.
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