March 22, 2002
At least four times a week one of the pseudo-educational cable channels runs a documentary about ancient Egypt. Each one promises that it’s "Egypt the way you’ve never seen it", which is why at least one of this week’s documentaries is about what the pyramids would look like if the ancient Egyptians had known about LSD and spray paint. I’ll admit I think ancient Egypt is an amazing place, and will be high on my list of places to visit if I ever get a time machine, but I’m getting tired of hearing about the ancient Egyptians every twenty minutes. What about the Phoenicians, the Cappadocians, the Hittites, or the Assyrians? The Babylonians did some pretty cool things, including those famous hanging gardens. Until the pseudo-education channels wake up to the fact that there were other ancient cultures that were just as interesting, here are some of the basic facts about ancient Egypt, so you won’t feel guilty about switching over to some awful sitcom instead of watching yet another documentary about the pyramids:
The Egyptians built the pyramids. If aliens built the pyramids, they would have used materials like metal and plastic and drywall, not big heavy rocks. There’s not a lot to do in the desert, and the Egyptians had two choices: build the pyramids, or figure out how to keep the sand out of their food so they wouldn’t break their bicuspids at every meal. They made the right choice. The pyramids were good for tourism, and eventually somebody (probably an Egyptian) invented dentures.
The Egyptians invented paper, because it was really uncomfortable carrying stone tablets into the bathroom.
The Egyptians invented the first written language. The Sumerians had an earlier system that was believed to be a language, but which was actually just an accounting system. The Egyptians wanted something more interesting to read in the bathroom than how many sheep equalled a cow.
The Egyptians were the first transvestites. The men wore dresses, wigs, and makeup. The wigs and makeup had more to do with not getting sunburned than style. They didn’t have an excuse for the dresses.
The first major world leader who was also a woman was Queen Hatshepsut. She was also a transvestite. She wore a fake beard and a man’s dress. What’s a man’s dress? It buttons on the other side.
Queen Hatshepsut’s son Thutmose III had her name and records wiped out, as though she never existed. This was because he’d never gotten over the embarassment when he had a playdate with a Hittite king’s son and she spit on a piece of papyrus and used it to wash his face.
Finally, the Egyptians made beer. Admittedly, the Sumerians did that first, but the Egyptians made their own beer, and any culture that does that deserves acknowledgment. And remember about eight years ago when "red" beers–some of which just had "red" in the name and some of which really were red–were popular? The Egyptians invented that. The only catch is theirs was made with red clay, so the next time you belly up to the bar for a mug of your favorite "red" beer, make sure it’s not an Egyptian brand.
There’s a lot more I could say about monotheism, mythology, mummification, dynastic divisions, but pretty soon there will be an Ancient Egypt channel, complete with its own fashion show ("This season’s most popular accessory–the dung beetle!") so I’ll leave the rest to them. Or you could just go to the library and check out a book. At least then you won’t get commercials.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
You may think you’ve heard this before, but hang with it until the end…
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The students laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. "Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life.
The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff."
"If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal."
"Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
A student then took the jar which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer.
Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar making the jar truly full.
The moral of this tale is:
That no matter how full your life is, there is always room for BEER.