1598

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Humor Is About to Become Funny

The word "humor" comes from the Latin word meaning "bodily fluids." Medical theory of the 1500s teaches that one's basic personality is determined by a balance of internal fluids called humors and a severe imbalance causes disease. When one says, "He is in bad humor," it means he is not feeling well. On stage, standard (humorous) characters are recognized by the audience. In the modern day, these standard characters are: the hovering mother, the air-headed friend, the vain beauty queen or king who struggles to turn away from the mirror. They are usually played for laughs so when the new comedy "Every Man in His Humour" becomes popular, the term "humor" becomes associated with comedy. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Comedy usually points to the absurdity of our existence. For example: when my wife and I arrived for my doctor appointment, my wife complained about my account on the new online medical system. I broke into the conversation...
"Hey! She has been accessing my medical records!" (Laughter)
"Call the FBI," I bleated. "I want her arrested!" (More Laughter)
The office staff knows perfectly well that my wife has my implied consent to access my records. Yet the law requires everyone to act as if she is totally unrelated to me... a stranger. When I observed the strict letter of the law, they were confronted with the absurdity of that law and laughed.

How Pieces of Eight became the Dollar *

Spain begins minting the peso de a ocho or pieces-of-eight. It has the virtue of being divisible into 8 royals or reales (ray-ALL-ehz). The wide coin is meant to be the equivalent of the German "thaler" (rhymes with dollar) which is a reference to the Bohemian valley where a major silver mine exists. Thus "thaler" means "from the valley" in Bohemia. The Spanish dollar will become the standard coin of the New World and will remain legal tender in the United States until 1857. [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There were times when Great Britain could not supply enough coinage for commerce in their colonies. The Americans then used the more plentiful Spanish pieces-of-eight. Printed paper money began in 1690 in Massachusetts. They issued an IOU for government debt until the coins arrived, but officials noticed that the people were trading the IOUs (at a discount) like money. Then someone had the brilliant idea of printing more IOUs than the government could possibly pay back in coins. The people discounted the IOUs even more ... and the whole system collapsed. I'd like to say that we know better today. I'd really like to say that. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

A side note on slang: The phrase "shave and a hair cut, 2 bits" is a reference to the pieces-of-eight aspect of the dollar. If a dollar is 8 bits, then 2 bits is a quarter or 25 cents.

Japan Invades Korea, Round 2

Here we go again. Japan has shaved down its ambitions. It will attack only Korea and leave all of China until later. 200 ships sail for Korea and land along the southern coast. As it turns out, the Koreans are well equipped and extremely well motivated all by themselves. Apparently the 1st invasion was the tip-off. Exactly what happens next is difficult to credit. Either Japan is beaten senseless and barely makes it home alive, or Japan manages to conduct an orderly retreat with most of its forces intact. Bottom line is... Korea 2. Japan: 0. Have a nice day. [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am making light of what was a determined invasion and a heroic defense. This is not the last time that Japan and Korea will come to grips. There are very good reasons why there remains a visceral dislike between the two countries. It began here in the 1590s and continues into the modern day, especially when North Korea launches its rockets into the Sea of Japan. [12] [13]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1598, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. "Humorous", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Houghton Mifflin. “Naturally, it was tempting to present a play in which an individual had some stock characteristic--he was always bragging or always in a fury or always falling in love. [...] In 1598, Ben Jonson wrote a play in which every character was like this and called it Every Man in His Humour. Because humors were invariably played for laughs -- and got them -- humorous became synonymous with 'funny,' and so it is still.” 
  2. Ben Jonson. Every man in his humour. Longmans, Green. 
  3. Humorism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 24 June 2015. “Humorism, or humoralism, is a system of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by the Indian Ayurveda system of medicine, Ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person — known as humors or humours — directly influences their temperament and health.”
  4. Narcissism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.”
  5. Spanish dollar - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 April 2015. “The Spanish dollar was the coin upon which the original United States dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857.”
  6. The Checkered History of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coin. coincollecting.answers.com (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “The coins are struck out of 90-percent silver, 10-percent copper, which is an alloy used for centuries to make valuable but durable currency. Each also contains 0.77 ounces of pure silver, which is the same weight as the original Spanish dollars the American dollar coin was based on.”
  7. Gold Price. goldprice.org (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  8. Arthur Nussbaum (November 1937). The Law of the Dollar. Columbia Law Review. 37. Columbia Law Review Association, Inc.. pp. 1057-1091. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1116782. 
  9. Gordon, John Steele. An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power. HarperCollins, 46-47. ISBN 0060093625. “"The Massachusetts government [beginning in 1690], issuing more and more paper money, soon drove gold and silver coins out of circulation, owing to the operation of Gresham's law (“Bad money drives out good”). People passed the paper money but kept the specie in the mattress because they regarded it as a superior store of value, which it was."” 
  10. Money in Colonial Times. Philadelphia Fed. (2011). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “When the colonies did not have metal to coin, they frequently used paper money. Most colonial notes were 'bills of credit' notes meant to be redeemable in coin. Colonial paper money rarely lasted very long because the colonies generally issued too much of it and the resulting inflation made the bills worthless.”
  11. Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “After the failed peace negotiations of the inter-war years, Hideyoshi launched the second invasion of Korea. One of the main strategic differences between the first and second invasions was that conquering China was no longer an explicit goal for the Japanese.”
  12. North Korea fires three short-range missiles into Sea of Japan. Japan Times (June 14, 2015). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “North Korea fired three short-range ship-to-ship missiles off its eastern coast into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, according to South Korea.”
  13. North Korea fires projectiles. CNN.com (July 30, 2014). Retrieved on 25 June 2015. “North Korea fired four projectiles on Wednesday morning toward the Sea of Japan, an official with the South Korean Defense Ministry told CNN.”

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