I'm currently reading a book1 called Mastering Modern World History. It's a little bit arguable exactly how "modern" the history involved is, since the book was published in 1982, before I was born. In fact, the chapter I've just finished reading states "Germany remains divided and it's difficult to imagine the circumstances in which she could become united again." Aside from this, and aside from the fact that it's incredibly geeky2, it's actually a really, really interesting book which is teaching me many things I didn't know.
One of the most interesting things I've learned so far is the derivation of the term Third World countries. It turns out that the term didn't originally have anything to do with the wealth of the nations. The term derives from a conference held by leaders of many newly emerging, mostly Middle Eastern and African nations that came about due to the declining imperialism after the Second World War. They wanted to make it clear that they wished to remain neutral in the struggle involving the other two worlds - communism and capitalism, and so they announced that they considered themselves as a Third World. Because most of these nations were very poor, the meaning of the term changed over time simply to describe poor nations, or nations with high poverty levels3. I would assume the term First World Countries came about later to describe the opposite, that is, countries that are very wealthy4.
I'm not in the habit of posting any of the many forwarded emails I get each day5, but I thought this one was pretty cleaver (especially so given my new knowledge about world events prior to my birth).
Hmm, perhaps the following may be British propaganda ? As many are aware, the French government recently announced a raise in its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The normal level is "General Arrogance", and the only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and Collaborate". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability. It's not only the French that are on a heightened level of alert: Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate military posturing". Two more levels remain, "Ineffective combat operations" and "Change sides". The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdain" to "Dress in uniform and sing marching songs". They have two higher levels: "Invade a neighbour" and "Lose". Seeing this reaction in continental Europe the Americans have gone from Isolationism" to "Find another oil-rich nation for regime change". Their remaining higher alert states are "Attack random countries (ideally those without any credible military)" and "Beg the British for help". The British are also feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to "Bloody Nuisance". The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the Great Fire of 1666.
The forwarder of said email also added the following:
I am sure there is another paragraph there somewhere about Australia raising its Terror alert status from Alert but not Alarmed and issuing Fridge Magnets, to Alarmed but not Effeminate and issuing Souvenir terrorist teaspoons. Only two categories remain higher than this 1. Effeminate but not Hysterical and issuing Bumper Stickers and 2. Hysterical but not a Kiwi and issuing Snow Flake Domes Maintain your Ridicule
Where do I get my souvenir terrorist teaspoon?
- And it's taking a while, I have to admit. I got distracted by How to Get Things Done. [↩]
- It's actually a text book, which I didn't realise until questions appeared at the end of the first chapter (and every chapter since). No, I'm not doing the questions. [↩]
- I'm aware that these are the kinds of things that people only a few years older than me may consider general knowledge, but I'm pretty sure most people my age and younger don't really know this kind of stuff. [↩]
- Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on that. [↩]
- Because I hate them. If you send me a forwarded email expect abuse. Especially if you put me in the to or cc boxes because that gives my address to everyone else you forward it to and every one they forward it to and everyone they forward it to, and before long my email address is in the hands of yet more spammers! If you must send me a forward, first please put me in the bcc box, and second, expect abuse in return. [↩]