General discussion

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  • #2189155

    Major innovations that have changed history


    by surflover ·

    Bricks… Just so everyone will understand I’m not just talking about “high tech” innovations, I though a good place to start would be bricks.

    They (and dressed stone) were the fundamental material which allowed the creation of large public structures… The Mayans built incredibly intricate palaces and roads, the Egyptians built the great pyramids (which BTW, we can’t reproduce either the Mayan roads or the Pyramids to those tolerances with our current technology)… bricks were the key issue that cause the Hebrews to revolt from the Pharoh in Egypt… the Romans used bricks and stone to build roads and aqueducts which allowed them to conquer most of the known world at the time… which in turn spread a common language to the peoples who were conquered (Koine Greek)… which in turn provided a vehicle for the spread of Christianity…

    And eventually, with the advent of the F4 Phantom in the 1960’s, we proved that with enough power, even a brick can fly :^O

    What innovations do you feel are significant?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3068574

      I would say that…

      by anykey??? ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      cement or concrete whatever you may call it, is right up there with bricks.the romans were instumental in the creation of the stuff and now we can’t get enough of the stuff. In the area I am in it is up to almost $100 a cubic yard which is absolutely unbelievable.

      We can match the egyptyians in quality and tolerances, the problem we have is that we can’t enslave thousands of skilled craftsmen to get it done.

      • #3071823

        Yes concrete is a good one

        by surflover ·

        In reply to I would say that…

        I almost included it in my post as it was essential for the Roman aquaducts… and as to the tolerances, if you include the accuracy of the compas alignment, we can’t reproduce what the egyptians did, and one of the Mayan roads has such small tolerances in the joints that it (supposedly per the discovery channel) can’t be duplicated today…

      • #3045296


        by absolutely ·

        In reply to I would say that…

        Negative numbers are fairly obvious to anyone in debt or extending credit, or anyone trying to describe both an aqueduct (or anything below ground) and a building (or anything else above ground) to the same emperor (or fellow highwayman). But the idea of symbolically representing the absence of value made all of quantitative science possible.

        • #3045273

          I agree, Abs

          by levannah44 ·

          In reply to Zero

          I think zero was an Arab invention which originally might have come from India, and it arrived in Europe courtesy of the Muslim invasion of Spain in the early middle ages.

          However, the Greeks seemed to get on pretty well without it, maths, science and all, and if the great library at Alexandria hadn’t been burnt to the ground around the time of the establishment of Islam, we’d still have been able to see all this for ourselves today.

          But it does make you wonder how we got on without it before the Arabs!


    • #3068557

      Marco Polo travelled to China

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      where gunpowder was used for fireworks.

      Marco brought gunpower back to the west, where it was used as a weapon, thus enabling various European countries to colonise and plunder half of the known and unknown world.

      If the early settlers in America had only the same weapons as the indigenous peoples, then the injuns might just have kept the cowboys at bay.

      Great discussion topic, by the way.

    • #3068548

      The pyramids at Giza

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      I am not at all convinced that the Great Pyramids could have been built with the known technology and available materials of the time, nor could they be reproduced today without the original as a guide.

      It is not widely known that the Great Pyramid was originally finished in polished stone to reflect the sun. Regrettably all but a small portion of the outer casing was removed and used for building other structures.

      Here is a little information about the Great Pyramid.

      • #3045271

        Cheops (Khufu) and all that

        by levannah44 ·

        In reply to The pyramids at Giza

        The pyramid complex at Giza, and I suppose pyramids in general, were certainly a terrific achievement for their time, however they were made. I especially love the Arab proverb always quoted with them; puts all of us securely in our places.

        However, it still remains a mystery about what they were actually used for. The discovery (when they were initially explored several centuries ago) of burial chambers and empty sarcophagi naturally pointed to them as tombs in the first instance.

        Many other theories for their use have since been offered over the years, some wholly fanciful, others more serious, and while they will always hold a certain amount of mystery for us today, I fail to see how they have changed our lives in any innovative way, Julian.

        Their own structure was definitely innovative for the time, but more than that it’s hard to see. And if they are indeed tombs, then where are all the other pyramids of the kings and pharoahs of ancient Egypt?

        The number so far unearthed, and the number of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, comes nowhere near the number of kings generally listed on the Egyptian King Lists over nearly thirty dynasties.

        Which means, either there’s still a helluva lot to discover under the sands of Egypt, or the pyramids were used for something we don’t yet know about.

        There are far too few of them to have been tombs.


    • #3071854

      The Babbage Machine

      by jmgarvin ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      It gave me my job 😉 Computing has moved us forward more in the past 50 years than any other innovation!

      On that note: Why does it seem like only dead white guys invent anything?

      • #3071606

        What about

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to The Babbage Machine

        the abacus.

        Seems the Chinese were a very inventive people.

      • #3071555

        How about Issac Merritt Singer?

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to The Babbage Machine

        He invented the Sewing Machine which while he was a black person from the deep south of the USA meant that he didn’t get the credit or money for his invention his owner got it all. 😀

        But there is one Dead Black guy who invented something that is impossible to do without today! :p

        Col ]:)

      • #3058022

        Not to be confused with the Cabbage Machine

        by montgomery gator ·

        In reply to The Babbage Machine

        Invented in medieval Korea for making Kim-Chee.

    • #3071851

      Smokeless powder and the telegraph

      by itgirli ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Military commanders had been complaining since the Napoleonic Wars about the problems of giving orders on a battlefield that was swathed in thick smoke from the gunpowder used by the guns. In 1886 Paul Vieille invented a smokeless gunpowder called Poudre B. Made from gelatinized nitrocellulose mixed with ether and alcohol, it was passed through rollers to form thin sheets, which were cut with a guillotine to flakes of the desired size. Vielle’s powder was used in the Lemel rifle that was adopted by the French Army in the late 1880s.

      The French Army was the first to use Poudre B but it was not long before other European countries followed their example. Vieille’s powder revolutionized the effectiveness of small guns and rifles. Firstly because practically no smoke was formed when the gun was fired and secondly because it was much more powerful than gun powder, giving an accurate rifle range of up to 1000 yards.

      In 1887 Alfred Nobel also developed a smokeless gunpowder. This eventually became known as cordite, a powder easier to handle and more powerful than Poudre B.

      This smokeless powder was evenutally used in the old west, first by law men. It aided in a great many shoot outs and gave those who had it a great advantage. They could hide behind objects and their would be no smoke to give away their location. However with the onset of technology and the telegraph, also came the first “hackers”. Much information was sent through the telegraph line, such as the codes of safes being shipped and the trains personal safe code. Bandits would tap into the line, decode the info and then just show up at the Train depot and walk in show them that they had received the telegraph and could open the safes, and they would just take everything and wal out. Kind of funny, the old west.

      • #3071820

        Nice post Girlie, but I think you read too much

        by surflover ·

        In reply to Smokeless powder and the telegraph


        • #3071813


          by itgirli ·

          In reply to Nice post Girlie, but I think you read too much

          But I also love the History & Discovery channels.

        • #3071769

          Me too

          by surflover ·

          In reply to yep

          I rarely watch anything else… except football and drag racing sometimes

        • #3071763

          Drag racing

          by m_a_r_k ·

          In reply to Me too

          Why do you enjoy watching drag queens race?

        • #3071671

          Drag KINGS !!!!

          by surflover ·

          In reply to Drag racing

          (I dissed you prtty good in the what fads would you like thread… I know you haven’t seen it… ’cause you will definately have to respond :^O)

        • #3053420


          by m_a_r_k ·

          In reply to Drag KINGS !!!!

          [i]”I dissed you prtty good in the what fads would you like thread”[/i]
          Oh yeah? No, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll have to hop on over there and see what that’s all about and decide if it’s worth my precious time to respond to it. It probably isn’t! haha

        • #3053412

          Looks like it was good enough

          by surflover ·

          In reply to Drag KINGS !!!!

          to warrant the use of your precious time for a reply hahaha :^O

        • #3071670

          but you know…

          by surflover ·

          In reply to Drag racing

          those drag Q’s can really get a swish on at high speed :^O

        • #3071543

          Drag Racing is a total waste of quite a lot of

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Me too

          Perfectly great engineering.

          When I build a motor I expect it to live for a few hours not a few minutes. 🙁

          I’ve only ever built one engine for a Drag car and when it was finished it was matt Black so it could dissipate as much heat as possible. Of course when I saw it latter before the first meeting all the black had been removed and everything including the oil Cooler was chrome plated. So I gave the guy an Oil Temp Gauge one of those VDO units with a little red button on it that kept the highest reading that it displayed. He was rapt but not quite so happy when half way down the first run the engine destroyed itself. He had quite a lot to say about the poor quality of the engine building and when I went to the Oil temp Gauge and pushed the red button and saw that the Oil temp was off the scale which ended at 180 C I suggested that maybe he had a lubrication problem and not an engine problem as I’ve yet to run across any lubricant that works at that temp. 🙁

          One engine for that so called sport was 25 too many. :p

          And I will not mention how he attempted to get hold of the motor without paying for it after he lost his sponsor. 😀

          Col ]:)

        • #3071795

          also the compass and sextant

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to Nice post Girlie, but I think you read too much

          those were very useful inventions, though the first mention of a compass comes from around 3000 BC in China (though theirs pointed south) it was not widely put to use until this past millenium. Most sailors believed it worked by black magic.

        • #3071553

          What about the Harrison Time Pieces?

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to also the compass and sextant

          Without them the Sextant would be useless as there is no way of knowing what the GMT was so that the Longitude could be calculated. :p

          At least if memory serves me correctly they where Known as The Harrison time Pieces all 3 are currently on display in the UK now and where the first time pieces that attempted to keep correct time while at sea. Only the third one worked properly but the first two where remarkable pieces of engineering.

          And all where made by a Carpenter with no training in clock making.

          Col ]:)

        • #3070930

          But Harrison did have a little help

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to What about the Harrison Time Pieces?

          From what I understand, King George III helped Harrison get funding from Parliament and personally assisted in the testing of the time pieces, according to a documentary I saw about it. It is good to have friends in high places.

        • #3060730

          Well actually the funding was

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to But Harrison did have a little help

          From the Admiralty not Parliament and that was for the third time piece something like a large Fob Watch. Even then the money allocated was an advance on the Prize for being able to come up with a device that allowed you to establish Longitude.

          On the first sea trial of the original time piece the Admiral had a sailor hung for keeping a dead reckoning of their actual position which was dramatically different to what the Admiral insisted the fleet was at and coincided with Harrison’s position. It placed them extremely close to rocks which would have sunk the entire fleet luckily they managed to save the fleet but the sailor was still dead. It kind of reminds me of the guy from HHGTTG who invented the Infinite Improbability Drive after all the top scientists in the universe had proved that it couldn’t be done he was awarded his prize and then strung up by his fellow scientists and hung on the gates to his research establishment which just proves “No One Likes A Smart A#S!” 😉

          Actually if I remember correctly Harrison never received the prize I seem to remember that he had died when it was accepted that what he had managed to do was correct and because he was a carpenter with no education everything was done to prevent him from succeeding even with King Georges help the best that he ever achieved while alive was to get some money for all the work that he had put in and even when the Admiralty came to collect their property they brought a unsprung waggon to carry the time pieces in and actually managed to break the glass of the enclosures on the original two pieces. It must have been the ultimate insult that they didn’t accept that these things which where the basis for such an advancement where not considered as important enough to actually look after.

          Col ]:)

        • #3060575

          Hey Col!

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to Well actually the funding was

          “No One Likes A Smart A#S!”

        • #3060565

          Well I’m so sorry!!!!!!!!!

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Well actually the funding was

          But I do have a good memory. Once I see something I tend to remember it if it interests me. :p

          Incidentally being called a Smart A#S is much better than being called a Know It All Barsteward. 🙂

          I’ve been called both quite often and I much prefer the former to the latter. :^O

          Col ]:)

        • #3044710

          That’s okay

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to Well actually the funding was

          I don’t think a day goes by that i’m not called a smart a#s. Especially by my mother.

        • #3045300

          Gee ITGirli you get it easy

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Well actually the funding was

          My mother calls me far worse than any of those things and means it as well. It doesn’t matter that she’s now 76 and keeps telling me that she’s booked herself into a nursing home. 😉

          She’s just got her Letters from Trinity College so she can now officially Teach Speech & Drama and is constantly insisting that I address her properly and when I say she should be calling me Dr she just laughs and says something about bringing me into this world so she can treat me as she likes. 🙁

          But I still get called over there at any hour to change a toner in her new photocopier as she hasn’t managed to master that one yet. With the last photocopier she could empty the new toner into the copier but was unable to remove the empty bottle so I had to go over there and remove it every time that she was doing something for the Local Speech & Drama Teachers Association. While I haven’t pulled this stunt with the new copier I used to say that I now had grounds for having her put away and I could get my house back while she was locked away in a nursing home drugged to the eyeballs so she didn’t create any trouble. After all she only had that photocopier for 5 years and it was exactly the same as the previous one as far as refilling the toner which she had for 5 -6 years and she couldn’t remember how to remove the empty bottle. It really looked funny seeing the copier working its little heart out with an empty toner bottle stuck on the top right hand side. :^O

          I haven’t rubbished her about the new one as she broke it on the very first time that she used it and I put the old one back into service as she had only run through 200 odd copies out of several thousand. But I did get a good laugh last time she ran out of Black Toner she followed the destructions by opening the cover then opening the Toner cover and then she tried to pull the drum which is in a totally different part of the machine, but I suppose it’s under the same cover. That is the main one and the only one that she can open. It will be interesting when it eventually runs out of staples as she currently insists that she knows exactly how to replace the empties but can not even remember that they are in the finisher and she constantly opens the photocopier to show me where she needs to put the staples. 😀

          Col ]:)

        • #3071762

          I think she plagiarized that thesis

          by m_a_r_k ·

          In reply to Nice post Girlie, but I think you read too much

          Sounds like it came directly from the encyclopedia. 😉

        • #3071753

          only a few parts.

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to I think she plagiarized that thesis

          I edited it and added my own comments.

        • #3071668

          D*mn, She IS

          by surflover ·

          In reply to I think she plagiarized that thesis

          a walking encyclopedia 🙂

        • #3046529

          More evidence that ITgirli is the perfect woman

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to Nice post Girlie, but I think you read too much

          She is interested in such esoteric stuff.

        • #3046446

          Thanks, but

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to More evidence that ITgirli is the perfect woman

          I’m something, but I don’t think it’s “perfect”.

          Thanks though, it’s nice to feel special, well.. the good kind of special.

        • #3046425

          The short bus kind of special is how I feel typically

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to Thanks, but


    • #3071791

      The Wheel, Fire and the Written Word

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Without which, you wouldn’t have many of these other innovations.

      • #3071789


        by itgirli ·

        In reply to The Wheel, Fire and the Written Word

        My personal favorite……The printing press!

        • #3071765

          Your printing press

          by m_a_r_k ·

          In reply to and……

          Is that b/c you read so much? 😉

        • #3071751

          yes it is

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to Your printing press

          Thank you for noticing.

        • #3071726

          You’re welcome

          by m_a_r_k ·

          In reply to yes it is


        • #3071667

          Like anyone wouldn’t notice

          by surflover ·

          In reply to yes it is


      • #3071767

        Which version of the wheel?

        by m_a_r_k ·

        In reply to The Wheel, Fire and the Written Word

        At my job, we reinvent the wheel all the time.

      • #3071095

        Language and mathematics

        by levannah44 ·

        In reply to The Wheel, Fire and the Written Word

        And even before the wheel, control of fire, and the written word, what about the spoken word? Language? Without communication that was understood by everyone, nothing could have been invented.

        And next to language, mathematics, or at least what passed for math at first — measurement, I daresay — but what later developed into mathematics.

        And reasoning. Put ’em both together, and that’s what they become. Reasoning and logic.


        • #3071029


          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Language and mathematics

          You watched that Doco on the Star Disk didn’t you? Well it should be obvious from that Doco that painting was the first big achievement that started everything else. :p

          Col ]:)

        • #3060703

          The case of the star disk

          by levannah44 ·

          In reply to Gret

          Yes, I did watch it, Col, and I’m still reeling. I mean seriously.

          What stunned me the most was not the disk itself, which was fairly straightforward in its interpretation once it was explained, but the AGE of it. ‘Time can’t be faked’, was the comment of one of the experts on the show, and I tend to agree, especially after all those tests.

          I thought it was a great doco all round, and I intend to discuss it with my archaeology and history class, because I got ’em all to watch it too, but I just can’t believe 16,000 years!

          That was still during the last ice age, for heavens’ sake, and humanity hadn’t even moved into cities. And, as you say, painting, a forerunner of ‘picture writing’, was probably the only real way of communicating ideas other than the spoken word, probably at a very rudimentary stage at that time.

          On the other hand, the whole star disk episode pointed to a very sophisticated culture indeed, so what are we meant to believe now? That humanity’s a helluva lot older than we realised, or civilisations are or what?

          Col, do me a favour and knock me on the head with a brick and hessian! It’s bad news to get me going on one of my hobby horses!!


        • #3060622

          Gret, was that the Horizon documentary?

          by neilb@uk ·

          In reply to The case of the star disk

          It would have been on the BBC over here as they commission all of the Horizon stuff.

          I saw a documentary early last year about a gold-inlaid bronze disc found in Germany that showed a picture of the night sky but they dated that to 1,600BCE, ie 3,600 years ago. The excitement was over where it was found as Germany was generally regarded as being pretty primitive in those times.

          It must be the same documentary as I remember the “Time can’t be faked” quote.


        • #3060571

          That’s the one Neil

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Gret, was that the Horizon documentary?

          But the thing about faking was in relation to the size of the crystals of corrosion of the copper in the Bronze. That was where the Time can’t be faked was used. :p

          Col ]:)

        • #3046609

          The Star Disk

          by levannah44 ·

          In reply to Gret, was that the Horizon documentary?

          That’s the one, Neil (we get all that stuff ages after you!) and Col’s quite right when he speaks about the quote of not being able to fake time by finding out how old the corrosive bits on the disk were.

          I’m glad I taped it (for my archaeology and history class to discuss at a later date), because now you’ve got me confused. I was positive I heard ‘16,000BCE’ years old, not 1600BCE! And I’d better get it right before presenting it to my class or I will have egg on my face!

          The thing is, with all the pre-hype on telly before the show was aired, it was ‘going to change the way we think about evolution’ and ‘change our ideas about early civilisations’ and all that, so maybe I was already thinking ‘extremely ancient’ before the thing was even shown!

          I must admit though, that it was a jolly good program and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is an archaeological dig now proceeding at the site where the disk was found, just to see what else can be brought to light.

          It’ll be interesting to follow what’s found there in the future.


        • #3046592

          Gret: Check the BBC’s website

          by neilb@uk ·

          In reply to The Star Disk

          They have loads about the Horizon series and you may be able to find a transcript.

          My recollections are that the suprise was that such an artefact should be found where – until then – they’d only found swords and fairly primitive metal brooches.


          Maybe I’ve saved you from a bit of an egging?


        • #3046587

          Bless the good ol’ Beeb!

          by levannah44 ·

          In reply to The Star Disk

          Thanks for that, Neil. Don’t know why I didn’t think of the obvious myself!

          However, I would probably have played the tape before I fronted my class anyway, just so it was fresh in my mind again.

          It should be a good discussion anyway and it does raise new issues about archaeology and where the disk was found, etc.

          Be nice if they found a few more artefacts of the same calibre as the star disk, though.


    • #3071764

      Has anyone mentioned….

      by m_a_r_k ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      …sliced bread? 😀

      • #3071749

        you are too funny.

        by itgirli ·

        In reply to Has anyone mentioned….

        I can’t read anything you post without laughing.

        • #3071665

          ME EITHER

          by surflover ·

          In reply to you are too funny.

          I’ve become addicted to this “misc” forum because of you 2, and a few others… There’s nothing better than a good laugh at the end of the day!… I hope I can contribute a few myself :^O

      • #3071748

        Changed for better I think was the idea

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to Has anyone mentioned….

        You could easily make the argument that sliced bread was the beginning of the end of “real” food. In general unsliced loaves are usually better than sliced ones.


      • #3071739

        Nobody has mentioned green garbage bags!!!

        by sleepin’dawg ·

        In reply to Has anyone mentioned….

        They’re also known as Polish suitcases.

        [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

    • #3071741

      The Tooth Brush and baths

      by bob in calgary ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Two things that probably did more for the population on the planet than anything else

    • #3071738

      The wheel, domestication of horses, dogs, cattle……………………..

      by sleepin’dawg ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      and last but not least the plow. You also might want to add fire to the list.

      [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

    • #3071724

      The Internet

      by m_a_r_k ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      If ol’ Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet, we wouldn’t be having this scintillating, thought-provoking discussion.

      • #3071661


        by surflover ·

        In reply to The Internet

        I was one of the SW engineers writing communications drivers for Arpanet in the late 70s and early 80s…

        I NEVER heard of Al Gore until he was VP or something with Bill somebody or other who made beer in Arkasas and liked praying (kneeling ?) women or something like that :^O

        • #3071657


          by bob in calgary ·

          In reply to M_a_r_k

          I installed the BBN stuff in the UK in the early to mid eighties. I’m pretty sure The C10’s and C30’s were the same as used in Arpanet.

        • #3071647

          Yes they were

          by surflover ·

          In reply to Cool

          Nothing like being an old fart, eh? :^O

      • #3071552

        Well in that case

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to The Internet

        Is it too late to take out a contract on Al? :^O

        If he had not of invented the Internet I wouldn’t be getting piles of Spam each and every day. I also wouldn’t be getting deluged with false e-mails asking for my user name and password so that they could empty my bank accounts or sell items on my E-Bay account that do not exist and try to give me a bad name. 😉

        But then again there wouldn’t be hackers out there who keep me employed with constant security updates. 😀

        Col ]:)

    • #3071710

      What everyone is forgetting is the drive behind these inventions…

      by mickster269 ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Was the ability to distill /refine caffine from various sources. Be it tea leaves, cocoa beans, or coffee beans.

      Without the abilty to fuel the bodies for late night brainstorming sessions, how many of the inventions listed would have been thought of? I would venture to say most of the inventors would have just bagged it at sunset, and gone to bed.

      Also, the invention of Pizza must be given it’s due in history.

      • #3071580

        Stimulants and relaxants

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to What everyone is forgetting is the drive behind these inventions…

        Every society of which I am aware, from the most primitive to the present day, has used both stimulants and relaxants.

        I will now horrify any non-smokers who may be eavesdropping by saying that nicotine is known to be a brain stimulant. I have smoked on and off during my life. During my last period of smoking, whenever some keyword like “God” or other thought provoking term crept into a discussion, I would automatically reach for a cigarette because I knew this would enable me to focus my mind better.

        When I used to write songs (haven’t written any for 10 years) I would need to be in a mood of elation for the initial inspiration. To keep my mind at that creative level I used to eat chocolate.

        Peppermint cream dark chocolate was the best for that purpose.

        • #3071551

          BS Jules

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Stimulants and relaxants

          It has to be Swiss Chocolate that just melts in your mouth and you can eat heaps of it without any adverse side effects. 😉

          So I’m addicted to Allen’s Oddfellows and Swiss Chocolate the smokes i can take or leave but without my Peppermints and chocolate I couldn’t continue working. 🙂

          Col ]:)

        • #3053492

          Alas, as a poor, struggling undiscovered artist

          by jardinier ·

          In reply to Stimulants and relaxants

          I could not afford the luxury of Swiss chocolates.

          I had to make do with whatever was on special at the supermarket.

          BTW, I have recently discovered Lindt with a high Cocoa content.

    • #3071704


      by cortech ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Need I say more?? ]:)

    • #3071702

      As a single guy, I would say

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      nudie mags are a good thing. What did we do before we had nude pictures of women to study the real beauty of the female form? (I AM refering to the playboy style, not the farm animal style)

      • #3071605

        “What did we do before?”

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to As a single guy, I would say

        We were obsessed with both sex and curiosity.

        Nowadays we are merely obsessed with sex.

        And where were those X-rated movies when I REALLY needed them — when I didn’t know what I was supposed to do?

        [I should mention that I am 64 years of age — there was NOTHING to give me any guidance when I was a teenager and young man.]

      • #3071549

        Well before Playboy

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to As a single guy, I would say

        There where always the Old Masters who did a lot of nudes but without the embellishments that are impossible to really have. :p

        I remember one old Cowboy movie that I saw on TV many years ago now, where some salon owner was supposed to have a treasure in this establishment that was worth a fortune. So the guys in the Black Hats killed him and tore the place apart looking for the money which just wasn’t there but the nude painting over the Bar was the real treasure which was frowned upon by the town elders and little boys where dragged away and spanked for looking at it.

        Then when they found out what it was, it was not only acceptable to look at it but considered as mandatory. Just goes to show that one persons Porn is another’s Art. 🙂

        But at the end of that movie I couldn’t help laughing at one of the kids who asked why it was alright for him to view the painting now when last week he was belted to within an inch of his life for looking at that “Dirty Picture!” :p

        Col ]:)

        • #3053405


          by ozi eagle ·

          In reply to Well before Playboy

          You’re not referring to Chloe at Young and Jackson’s, in Melbourne, are you?

        • #3058184

          No I haven’t had the pleasure

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Chloe

          Besides I try to avoid Melbourne I never know how to dress for the day when I’m there. 😉

          The last time I was down there I arranged to meet someone at Finders Street Station and with a bit of time to kill I sat outside taking in the sights. It was then that I noticed that all the trams had a “Ground Effects” system designed on their undercarriage to keep them on the tracks. Now I don’t think that they go so fast that they need this but it’s far more likely that it breaks up the ice that fell as rain 10 minutes previously. :p

          But at least you could pick out the real women quite easily with those little extra bumps on their chests. :^O

          Col ]:)

        • #3072524

          Over the road

          by ozi eagle ·

          In reply to No I haven’t had the pleasure

          What! You were at Flinders St station, over the road from Chloe.

          Typical gear to have for a day in Melbourne – a towel and bathers, light slacks and a wooly jumper.
          I’ve experienced a temperature drop of 20 deg F in five minutes. From quite warm to bl**dy freezing.

        • #3072447

          Well actually I was over the road

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Over the road

          I got some better pictures from Diagonally opposite the clocks at the entrance to Finders Street Station.

          That whole day it was uncomfortably warm {Must have been a Freak Day for Melbourne} but on the up side I did manage to sneak into Melbourne and out again without any of my relatives knowing. :p

          Being QC’s and me picking up a Classic Mercedes probably would have resulted in me being arrested for removing National Treasures from Victoria. But what can I say what they don’t know can’t hurt them. :^O

          Col ]:)

        • #3072251

          Before even then (Ancient Rome)

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to Well before Playboy

          The Romans liked to decorate their homes and bath houses with naughty pictures with sexual and pornographic themes. Many examples were found in Pompeii. Some of them looked like a Roman version of the Kama Sutra.

    • #3071643


      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Edmund Cartwright, a genius.

      Mustn’t forget the guy who invented beer as well.
      Ladies and gentlemen a toast !

    • #3071609

      The hourglass, the clock and the calendar

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      without which modern society could not function.

      For any of you who may be interested, the calendar was discussed in great detail in another thread.
      Start here, and read the next few posts:

    • #3071579

      The Protestant Work Ethic

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      It is believed by many that the Industrial Revolution was spurred on by the Protestant Work Ethic.

      Here is a brief description:

      The Protestant work ethic – also known as the “Puritan work ethic” – is a biblically based teaching on the necessity of hard work, perfection and the goodness of labor. Protestant preachers preached on the goodness and the necessity of labor and its efficacious effect for humans personally and on Christian society as a whole.

      • #3053574

        Probably a coincidence

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to The Protestant Work Ethic

        but a lot of priests were the younger sons of well to do families.
        Not sure that self interest is an invention they can lay claim to.

      • #3058017

        You may be right, but

        by montgomery gator ·

        In reply to The Protestant Work Ethic

        I have known plenty of hard-working Roman Catholics, also. 🙂

        • #3072432

          But they only work hard

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to You may be right, but

          Because they are frustrated and not getting any because the Pope insists that they can not use contraceptives. So they have to work themselves into the ground so they fall asleep at night without anything else being thought of. :p

          Col ]:)

    • #3053525

      Sailing ships

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      without which we would all be still living in the countries of our ancestors.

      In terms of changing the course of history, I would suggest that sailing ships, combined with gunpowder weapons, changed the course of history more than any other innovation.

      However I stand to be corrected if someone can come up with a more significant innovation.

      • #3053442

        But Jules

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Sailing ships

        Without the wheel the sailing ships that you are thinking of would not have been possible as they relied very heavily on pulleys to hoist the sails, change their settings and work the rudder. Without the Block I tackle that was used on these ships they would have required far more men to work them and would have needed to be so big that they couldn’t have held a full complement of men to actually sail them in any meaningful manner. Without something as basic as the Caspian they could not have brought up the anchor so they could even move the ship once they had parked it in a place without moorings. 😉

        Col ]:)

    • #3053517

      Agriculture – it’s the only answer

      by neilb@uk ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      As far as can be deduced from Neolithic archaeology, for most of our species? existence on the planet we have lived in small groups organised around mutually beneficial social relations, with scarce resources held in common as social property.

      The emergence of dominant classes such as chiefs, kings, aristocracies of birth and wealth is a very recent event, 10,000 years ago, or less, depending on which culture is considered. These almost invariably began with the emergence of wealth in the form of a surplus beyond subsistence with settlement agriculture where individuals first coordinate the more complex agriculture and then seize this social surplus. This surplus then provides the material means for creating a “palace guard” to enforce the relations of domination and finally institutionalise the ownership of that stolen social surplus.

      The Native American, for example, never reached this stage in societal ?development?.

      The most recent version of this process, capitalism, is around 500 years old in Britain and newer elsewhere. Capitalism took control from feudal estates and their lords and started the ongoing trend for buying, selling and owning to become the primary determinants of human life. Capitalism?s need for capital accumulation then led to the conquest and colonisation of a good chunk of the rest of the world by Britain over the subsequent five centuries. And we all know where that got us?

    • #3053500

      2 that have made a huge change

      by jaqui ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      and we are still adjusting to:

      electrical generators that create a usable amount of energy.

      the light bulb.

      until the light bulb was invented society did very much come to a complete stop shortly after dark.
      even in major cities it was the end of a lot of activity once the sun set.

    • #3053485

      The pill

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      First let me reintroduce myself. jul646@ will now be recognised as “jardinier.”

      I believe the contraceptive pill has had a major impact on affluent societies.

      It is especially noticeable that young couples defer starting a family until they are more financially secure, and thus achieve a higher standard of (material) living.

      I believe that lack of effective birth control is a major cause of poverty in third world countries.

      • #3053470

        You may have got that backwards

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to The pill

        Lower infant mortality is what made contraception socially acceptable. If we were suffering the same low survival rates, our women would be still at home making babies every nine months and crossing their fingers.

      • #3053402

        Backwards? I don’t think so.

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to The pill

        The contraceptive pill was first used in Puerto Rico in 1956.

        It was not even available in Sydney when I had my first sexual encounters.

        When it was introduced, it was used primarily by single girls who wanted to have the pleasure of sex without the fear of pregnancy. In due course it was probably used by some married women who already had children and did not want any more. I have never personally known a married woman with children who used the pill.

        The strong social mores of the time (late 1950s – early 1960s) dictated: “Thou shall not have sex before marriage.”

        So it was not infant mortality that was the issue to the best of my knowledge, but BOYFRIEND mortality.

        In fact the fear of facing an irate father more often than not led to the girl having an abortion which was not only illegal in those days, but it was quite difficult to find a medical practitioner who was willing to perform the procedure.

        And it was an expensive procedure: $AU 70 in the early 1960s, which represented 2 – 3 week’s pay.

        So it was all about enjoying sex without the fear of becoming pregnant, which has evolved to the scenario which I have described — young couples deferring starting a family until they were established financially.

        An understanding of and availability of birth control measures is desperately needed in poor countries not just to reduce infant mortality, but also to at least slow down the spread of AIDS.

        The recently deceased Pope John Paul II vigorously resisted making contraception available in some of the places where it was most needed.

        This is illustrated in the following newspaper article published in April, 2005:

        There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. And yet the Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul II, instructed its priests to condemn condom use.

        Worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms.

        Some examples since the mid-1990s: in Honduras the church intervened to prevent the distribution of 1 million free condoms; in Kenya senior church officials burnt condoms and safe-sex literature and released a pamphlet claiming that condoms cause AIDS; in Nicaragua the church persuaded the Government to pulp a sex education guide that mentioned contraception; and in Zambia officials withdrew a government AIDS prevention campaign because of church pressure.

        In these nations, and many others, the proclamations of John Paul II have meant millions have died, and will die, from a preventable disease.

        • #3058189

          And Jules you got it in the wrong thread

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Backwards? I don’t think so.

          This one really belongs in “Does Religion Do More Harm!” :p

          Col ]:)

        • #3057922

          Missed the point

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Backwards? I don’t think so.

          What I’m saying is that in the western world medical advantages made contraception socially acceptable, without them it wasn’t and wouldn’t have been.
          Equally you are never going to ‘sell’ contraception to africa when most of their kids don’t make it to their teens, whether through disease, malnutrition or war.

    • #3058021

      The Flush Toilet

      by montgomery gator ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Along with sewer systems, made it a lot easier to go poo and get rid of it. A lot better than taking a dump in a pot, then dumping it out your window on the street below.

      • #3057931

        Sir Thomas Crapper

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to The Flush Toilet

        Like Ford didn’t invent the automobile, Crapper didn’t invent the flush toilet but he did invent the one that was used for the first time in many homes – the popularizer if you will.

        In my political days I happened to work with one of his descendants – and he ironically used to work in the speaker’s bureau of a political party in Ottawa. Go muse on that for a while. BTW one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met….not sure if his sense of humour came from having to deal with all the bad jokes he got about his name.


        • #3072253

          Elizabethan and Roman toilets

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to Sir Thomas Crapper

          I had heard before that Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, just improved on it. Saw a show on the History Channel about the history of plumbing. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a flush toilet was invented by a man named John, and that is why it is sometimes called the “John”. Apparently, his invention was so noisy, that Queen Elizabeth I was afraid to use it.

          The Romans also had flush toilets, except they worked with a constant flow of water through them, instead of flushing when you are done. They were arranged in a semi-circle over a trough with running water, all together in a room, 20 or 30 of them, with very little space in between them. People took dumps together, and it was a social event in ancient Rome. They wiped using a sponge on a stick, which they rinsed (for the next person to use) in a smaller trough in front of the toilets that also had running water. I am glad that toilet paper was invented, a lot better than using a sponge on a stick that is shared by everyone.

        • #3071074

          The douche

          by jardinier ·

          In reply to Elizabethan and Roman toilets

          Many years ago a journalist colleague was invited to take a short trip on the Dutch sailing ship “Esmeralda.”

          As he couldn’t find any toilet paper, he pressed a button on the wall and got a jet of water up his *ss.

    • #3072494

      Evangelistic religions

      by jardinier ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Primarily Christianity and Islam.

      Definitely “innovations” and DEFINITELY having a major impact on the course of history.

      • #3071085

        Religion . . . a downside

        by levannah44 ·

        In reply to Evangelistic religions

        Wouldn’t you say ALL religions, Julian? I know at the moment the religions having the most influence in the world are probably Islam and evangelical Christianity, but neither of them would be where they are today without the invention of religion in general, probably way back in the stone age or even before.

        Without religion and gods, the world wouldn’t be in the tragic position it is today because of it.


      • #3071078

        Emphasis on “Evangelistic.”

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to Evangelistic religions

        There have always been religions, and I am quite sure there will continue to be religions for at least as long as you and I live.

        However it was (and to an extent still is) Christianity and Islam which spread aggressively to most corners of the world to replace or disrupt existing religions.

        Hinduism is not evangelistic. Judaism is not evangelistic. While Buddhism spread peaceably to become the predominant religion in East and South East Asia, it did so without destroying existing cultures.

        This thread is about ?innovations? and evangelistic religion was an innovation.

        So there have always been religions, but Christianity and Islam are the ones that especially changed the course of history.

        • #3071168

          We never stopped being ‘marranos’

          by levannah44 ·

          In reply to Emphasis on “Evangelistic.”

          Given that interpretation then, yes, I’d have to say I quite agree with you, Julian.

          It’s happened before — sort of — in Spain, for instance, when the Inquisition was established to ‘convert’ the Jews (and presumably Arabs/Muslims as well) in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. These ‘conversos’ were known colloquially as ‘marranos’ (tilde over the ‘n’!), a very degrading term meaning ‘pigs’.

          That was forced conversion, of course; today it’s a little different, but still just as sinister.


    • #3060555

      Innovation with the biggest impact.

      by jck ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Petroleum refining

      • #3046437

        I think you’re right

        by m_a_r_k ·

        In reply to Innovation with the biggest impact.

        Petroleum refining affects just about everything we do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some good effects, some bad. The combination of oil refining, the wheel and human beings have made an absolute mess of civilization as we never knew it. That’s wierd…I used “affect” and “effect” in consecutive sentences. And I think I used them grammatically correct too! 😀

        • #3043450


          by jck ·

          In reply to I think you’re right

          If you think about it, petroleum refining is a major contributor to the following things:

          – Transportation
          – Power generation (many American power plants are “forced fuel” generation, i.e.- processed crude oil and water mix burned to increase turbine pressure)
          – Lawn maintenance
          – Home heating
          – etc. etc.

          Nonetheless, most crudes are pretty useless as is out of the ground. Refinement given us products that have driven technologies that have furthered a lot of things in the modern industrial USA.

    • #3044422

      Living with dogs

      by dc guy ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      We used to live in tribal groups of 100 or so, only modestly more social than chimps and gorillas. We felt a sense of community only with people we knew personally, most of whom were blood relatives.

      The people in the next tribe down the river were “the others.” Strangers to be wary of during good times, enemies competing for scarce resources during hard times. We’d occasionally marry one of them to keep the gene pool clean and maybe once a year we’d all get together for a drunken festival. That was the extent of our “getting along with others.”

      Humans and dogs (DNA analysis has recently proven that wolves and dogs are a single species so I’ll just call them all dogs) kept running into each other. We couldn’t help noticing our complementary hunting skills. We’d follow them as they tracked game only they could smell and keep up with, then they’d watch in awe as we with our pointed sticks could kill a frelling rhinoceros!

      Cooperative hunting was inevitable for two social species that observe a pack hierarchy. But it kept getting better. As they got closer to our camps they discovered that we had the wonderful habit of dropping perfectly good food ON THE GROUND. It was true love. Our fires to loll by and their furry bodies to snuggle made winter more bearable. Their night vision, amazing hearing and smell, and willingness to risk their life against huge predators made the camp safer. Our medical skills enriched and lengthened their lives. They protected our young, we fed their old.

      The world’s first voluntary multi-species community came into existence, somewhere in what is now China, around 11,000 B.C.E. It happened only once! All domestic dogs are related to the wolves that still live there.

      Before we knew it, we had learned to get along with “people” who were so incredibly different from us that we couldn’t even communicate very well.

      The next time that other tribe from down the river asked our flint napper to give theirs a few lessons or wanted to trade some baskets for some furs or wondered where they could find some good herbs, they didn’t seem so strange any more.

      Today, we can feel a sense of community with people on the other side of the planet. People so different that they don’t look like us, don’t speak a language anything like ours, have a culture we barely recognize, and worship different gods. We’ve never even seen them and don’t know their names. They are nothing more than abstractions.

      But we care about them.

      That is what we call civilization.

      It might never have happened if it weren’t for dogs.

      Give your dog an extra hug tonight.

      • #3046440


        by m_a_r_k ·

        In reply to Living with dogs

        I’m not sure what this has to do with any sort of innovation that changed history, or any innovation at all. But I like your story about dogs. Dogs are cool. I’ll hug my dogs an extra time or two tonight. 🙂

        • #3043746

          Cooperative hunting was a major innovation

          by dc guy ·

          In reply to Innovation?

          For two social species to learn to hunt as a single pack and leverage their complementary skills was a tremendous innovation.

          Dogs could smell gigantic prey from miles away and run fast enough to catch them, but they couldn’t bring them down. Humans had the technology to kill large animals but not the noses to find them or the legs to keep up with them. A multi-species hunting party was able to do both.

          This may very well have given rise to the first surplus: the ability to bring in so much food that everyone didn’t have to spend all their time finding food. A surplus permits division of labor, which is the engine that drives cultural progress. In this way alone our partnership with dogs may qualify as an innovation that changed history.

          But I was speaking specifically of the fact that the partnership with dogs, which probably sneaked up on us before anyone consciously realized how remarkable it was, got us thinking in a new way. It’s not just okay but beneficial to cooperate with and care about “people” who are not members of our tribe. Without having that idea planted in our brain, would we have ever invented civilization?

        • #3043604

          A compelling thought

          by ozi eagle ·

          In reply to Cooperative hunting was a major innovation

          A compelling thought

    • #3118813

      The Zipper

      by jack-m ·

      In reply to Major innovations that have changed history

      Before the zipper….buttons and buttonholes. Complimentary but not as convenient as the zippper.

      • #3118608

        But Velcro is easier to use

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to The Zipper

        And far less painful than a zipper. 🙂

        Col ]:)

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