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Thursday, September 02, 2004

And This Guy's a Standup Comic

Bob Harris reports this from his travels in Turkey:
And finally, you just open your eyes and look at the amazing mound of human residue before you, whatever the hell it was: this "Troy" wasn't just one city, but 9 different major settlements (and dozens of smaller yet discernible redevelopments) constructed, destroyed or abandoned, and then rebuilt over thousands of years.

Think about that. Thousands of years.

People built entire civilizations on the spot. They flourished. They rose. They were pretty sure they knew what the hell they were doing. And then they were gone.

And a few hundred years went by. And somebody else got things together, and rebuilt right on top of what came before. And they flourished. They were sure they were the real deal. And then... poof.

Over and over and over again.

and then
Someday there will be people speaking languages vaguely resembling our own but indecipherable if we could eavesdrop. Their maps will not be our maps. And they will look at our wars over half-forgotten gods the same way you and I look at the struggles between the tribes of Ur, very possibly while killing each other in the name of gods which do not yet exist.

They will dig and puzzle and speak of the Oil Age and how its brevity stunned humankind toward the end.

UPDATE: As part of a visit to Normandy recently, we did a bit of shell and fossil collecting along the beach. We discovered lots and lots of exposed cookie-sized bivalve shell fossils. Later, we took a trip to the local fossil museum and noted that the age of these particular artifacts was around 200 million years plus or minus a couple dozen million years. At the time I thought the time range seemed narrow, as if the creatures and their progeny lived a fleeting existence. But then later, upon reflecting on it a bit more, I realized that, given any two fossils, found within a separation of a few feet, that they probably lived millions of years apart. And then two hundred million years later, they happened to wash up on the beach at roughly the same time.

Our fossil oil will get used up in a scant 100 years. Will there be any evidence that this mysterious substance even existed 200 million years from now?


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