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March 19, 2004

Ammunition, part the first.

Ammunition. What is it? The Webster's defines it thusly:

am·mu·ni·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (my-nshn) n.

1. Projectiles, such as bullets and shot, together with their fuses and primers, that can be fired from guns or otherwise propelled.

2. Nuclear, biological, chemical, or explosive material, such as rockets or grenades, that are used as weapons.

3. An object used as a missile in offense or defense: Rocks were my only ammunition against the bear.

4. A means of attacking or defending an argument, thesis, or point of view.

Okay, so I've been promising to discuss ammunition. Teased you with a picture.

Let's get started. At the beginning. JD - the above paragraph was for you, I'll be covering 1-3, and if you keep being grumpy about no gun pictures, 4.

As artillerymen have known forever - the weapon is what hits the target. The rest is a delivery system. Ammunition is consumed by delivery systems.

As the bumper sticker so fatuously notes, "Mean people suck." It's true now, it was true 160,000 years ago, too. Creationists who don't like dating like that - work with me - it's funnier this way. Bullies have been around as long as people have been around. Even before we climbed down out of the trees and tried that walking upright thing.

D'oh! was out doing a little gathering near the present day village of Herto, in what was to be known eventually as Ethiopia. He'd done pretty well, and had a nice little woven-grass baggie of nuts to his credit, that he looked forward to using to entice M'arg's father to let him do a little foolin' around with her tonight.

M'untz is out looking for food, too. But he prefers to harvest the harvester's harvest. Rather than actually bend over and pick all of the goodies himself, he prefers to bend over the prostrate body of his unconscious/dead victim and pick up the bag, once. Lazy b*st*rd.

So, D'oh!, happily anticipating the night's frolicsome promise, comes into a cleared area in the verge of the forest - and sees M'untz. M'untz has been waiting, knowing that D'oh! always comes this way, having slept through the anti-terrorist briefing - the part where they say vary your routes daily. M'untz, a hulking brute of early Homo Sapiens Sapiens, stood there, slapping his yet-to-be-named-thus knobkerry in the palm of his left hand, grinning evilly.

D'oh! realizes this in Not Good. Last time this happened, D'oh! had bruises that lasted weeks, and he still had a knot on his forehead from a previous encounter with M'untz's knobkerry. Running was no good. D'oh! was fat and slow. M'untz was a ponderous runner - but have seen how fast a rhino can go when it gets up to speed? D'oh! also knew that M'untz wouldn't just take the bag and leave. Some weird concept of honor drove M'untz to think of himself as a hunter, and he had to take down his prey, which meant D'oh! was going to get thunked on the head again. D'oh! really wished that M'untz would go hit something eatable, fresh meat was so much better than what was left after the hyenas left a carcass.

Necessity being the mother of invention, and with terror fueling an adrenaline rush, D'oh! had an idea. Since people who beat on you suck, and people who beat on you with a club REALLY suck, the thing to do was to try to get them before they could reach you with the club. Hmmmmm. Space. Distance. Range. Rock. Rock! There was a nice rock nearby. D'oh! reached down and picked it up, hefting it experimentally (though the concept of experimentation not being known yet, D'oh didn't recognize the pattern).

M'untz started across the clearing, again with that evil grin, this time the knobkerry held up and ready for the knock on the head.

D'oh seized the moment and hurled the rock. However, being the first human to ever throw a rock, he threw like a girl. [Hey! Baseball hadn't been invented yet - *everybody* threw like a girl] The rock went sailing harmlessly over M'untz's head, landing with a rattle and crash in the bushes behind him. M'untz wasn't sure what had just happened, but he knew there had been a Perturbation of the Force. And THAT pissed him off. So he knocked D'oh! on the head and killed him. Picking up the bag of nuts, M'untz went off munching happily with visions of a naked M'arg doing really interesting things by the fire tonight dancing in his head.

Since M'untz was a self-absorbed bully, he never thought anymore about the rock. Since D'oh was dead because of no training in the use of rocks - his idea died with him, not to be raised again for another 10,000 years, when a distant descendant of his, B'art, would actually kill a distant descendant of M'untz, and the idea of launching weapons at your enemy/prey would be born, squalling and squealing, into the toolkit of people who wanted fresh meat, or were just mean and wanted other people's fresh meat, or who needed to defend themselves against people who wanted their fresh meat - even back then, the police didn't always get there in time, Constable B'arney being more common than Officer K'ojak.

In our next installment, we'll skip 150,300 years and get to gunpowder, since I currently don't collect any weapons that don't use chemical energy to hurl the rock. Suffice it to say that whole projectile thingy went through a lot of development, to include the application of mechanical advantage (a concept first introduced by B'art's pal M'artin, with the invention of the sling), through spears, atlatls, bows and arrows, catapults, and other such stuff.

So, here it is. The first projectile weapon, found near the village of Herto, in Ethiopia.

Ammunition 002.jpg

John | Permalink | Comments (4) | Ammunition
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