Timing is Everything

You should all feel very fortunate.  We here on the planet earth are living in a very fortunate time.  And no, I don't mean just those of us lucky enough to live in (insert favorite/favourite country here).  Every single person on Earth has had the good fortune to be born during a wonderful period.  I mean, think about it...if you consider only the past up until now, there have been only a few really good times to have been around.  The number of seriously bummer years you could have been around for is staggering.  I'll break it down a little to show you the point:

Years ~4,000,000,000 BC to ~2,000,000,000 BC  (2 billion years)

Most of this time, there was no ground, just lots of swirling gasses, although eventually there was some nice fresh molten lava to hang around on.  Eventually things cooled down a bit, and you could safely stand on some of the cooler rocks, but the atmosphere was probably pretty lousy, and believe me, you'd have had to have gotten used to eating rocks, because there was nothing else there.  No plants, no animals, not even yummy green algae for most of this time.

Years ~2,000,000,000 BC to ~1,999,900,000 BC  (100,000 years)

A pretty cool time.  There were some really neato plants all over the place, and a few little animals were starting to show up, although most of them were fish, and monofilament fishing line won't be invented for *just* a bit yet, so you'd better be able to swim.  This would probably have been a really relaxing time to be around, especially if you are kind of a loner.  You'd have to be, as you would, of course, have been the only intelligent life form on the planet.

Years ~1,999,900,000 to ~500,000 BC  (almost 1.5 billion years)

Hope you didn't miss the last little time period, it was a nice one.  Unfortunately, about this time the little animals that started crawling up out of the ocean began learning to eat each other, and I'm sure that you would have been on the menu as well.  Not to mention that the 'little' animals seemed to have developed a knack for growing 40 feet tall and having 2 foot long teeth.  And, if you could have managed to avoid being snacked upon by lizards the size of small buildings and birds the size of small planes, there were the occasional planet-wide disasters that killed off everything for tens of thousands of years except cockroaches and lawyers .

Years ~500,000 BC to ~100,000 BC  (400,000 years)

Quiet, but boring.  Most of the big animals that might have considered you a quick snack are gone, but that was half the excitement, right?  All you have to look forward to during this time is glaciers that couldn't quite seem to decide where they belonged.  If you're an avid ski enthusiast, this might have been the time for you, but if not, you'd better hope your fire-building and mastadon-hunting skills are good, or else you'd be in for a REALLY long winter.

Years ~100,000 BC to ~10,000 BC  (90,000 years)

This is where things start to get exciting.  Somewhere in there, you finally have the opportunity to be around *people* for the first time in the history of...history.  Maybe not the kind of people you are used to, but beggars can't be choosers.  Sure, they're a little short, more than a little hairy, much more than a little ugly, and not much on conversation, but...umm...taxes were low?

Years ~10,000 BC to 3,000 BC  (7,000 years)

This period is pretty much all a drag.  Someone went and invented numbers, which lead to the discovery of Math, and most of the GNP of the world was spent trying to force-feed arithmetic down the throats of anyone who wasn't busy trying to invent an alphabet that didn't have to be written on clay tablets.  The would-be writers must have been in a union, because even at the end of this period they hadn't succeeded.  But I understand that the pay scale was approximately 2 chickens and 10 pounds of salt for every year worked, so assuming you lived to the ripe old age of 40, you could retire with your own chicken ranch, assuming you didn't eat anything...ever...

Years 3,000 BC to 1,000 AD  (2,000 years...hell, you can count the rest yourself)

Assuming you didn't subscribe to certain religious beliefs, this wasn't a bad time.  Kind of like camping out for your whole life.  The food wasn't bad if you like simple fare, like sheep and grain.  Or, fish and rice, depending on where exactly you lived.  A great time for would-be farmers, as the world population was about 1 person for every billion acres of land.  Oh, but the laws of supply and demand were invented in here somewhere, so it wasn't all that easy to get a good price for your produce, something like 2 chickens and 10 pounds of salt for 150,000 acres of wheat.  At least the bread was cheap.

Years 1,000 AD to 1,700 AD

If you check the population during this time, you'd think that someone had finally gotten around to inventing sex.  People started coming out of the woodwork (which really put an end to the whole sex rumor), and society was born.  OK, not the kind of society you see on Melrose Place, but at least someone had the decency to start coming up with rules about the way humans should behave.  Unfortunately, it took a  few tries to get right.  The rules about catching plagues every few years that wiped out huge parts of the population turned out to be *really* unpopular.  But with civilization comes change, and things started looking up.  It was now entirely possible to earn enough chickens in a year to feed yourself, assuming you were a peasant or a vassal or just didn't get a whole lot of exercise.  The population was getting large enough that people started trying to find new places to live, but for most of this time period all they could find were places that *other* people lived, and they made do with invading their neighbors.  Pretty soon the line to invade a country across the convenient roads became so long that people started sailing boats around as a shortcut.  The worst of the sailors would get lost, leading to the discovery of Iceland, Greenland, and the Americas.

Years 1,700 AD to 1,850 AD

Very bad.  This was not the time to be around at all.  Advertising was invented.  The US Post Office was invented.  People stopped using those cool feather quill pens.  In fact, most of this era was centered around *paper* of all things.  How to make it, how to use it, how to make it white, how to recycle it (which the Japanese had figured out how to do almost 1,000 years before, but they were too busy taking martial arts lessons to tell many people about).  At least someone invented the eraser about halfway through all this, so it wasn't a total loss.

Years 1,850 AD to 1,950 AD

OK, this wasn't such a bad era, but it could have been a LOT better.  At least some of the really *important* things in life were developed during this time.  The automobile was invented.  Television was invented.  JRR Tolkien started publishing his world-shaking novels. Food was invented (assuming your definition of 'food' is 'stuff you can eat that is pretty good and you don't have to work to get', ala McDonald's).  But, there were a few downsides.  More than a few dozen people died in wars around the world.  Much of the world was doing *really* badly but didn't have the advertising budget to get Sally Struthers to beg people to send them food.  The whole nuclear bomb thing was a drag, especially if you live(d) in Japan.  Also, the first birth pangs of the computer era began here, although I'll leave you to decide if that's a good thing or not.

Years 1,950 to today

The modern era.  I won't go into the good things here, since you are living in the middle of them.
Anyway, the odds of you ending up in a good era through all that were pretty slim, just do the math.  (No, don't think about it, just go with me on this).  Of all of the 4 billion years this place has been around, we're really sitting right in the middle of the best quarter of a millionth of 1% of the fun.  And things just might be looking up...after all, Bill Gates can't live forever...

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