We like to make comics here at CollegeHumor - and occasionally when we're making funny/goofy drawings, we like to TRY to teach you something. A few things about science, maybe a bit of history every now and then - nothing fancy, just enough so that you don't feel like you've completely wasted your time and might walk away with a little nugget of knowledge.
So here are 9 comics that will teach you SEVERAL nuggets of knowledge!
Force yourself to smile
Everybody knows that when people are happy, they smile, but can the reverse also be true? What about when you feel like a flaming trash-heap, and smiling feels like the last thing you would ever be capable of doing?
Well, studies have shown that MAKING yourself smile can actually cause a chemical reaction in your brain that releases the hormones dopamine and serotonin, which make you feel happier and less stressed. I know that seems incredibly stupid, but our BRAINS are also incredibly stupid, so it all adds up in the end.
Adopt a confident posture
Smiling to generate happiness isn't the only way that our brains work in exactly the opposite way we think they should; the same rules apply to our CONFIDENCE as well.
If you're anything like me, then odds are, at this exact moment, you aren't in what one would call a "power pose." You're probably slumped over, shoulders hunched, head down, slowly caving in on yourself like you're in a lifelong process of implosion. Now try this: straighten up, pull back your shoulders, raise your chin, maybe even put your hands on your hips like Superman. Feels better, right?
Studies have shown that just standing in a more confident manner actually MAKES you feel more confident and powerful. It tricks your brain into thinking the confident version of yourself is in charge now, and is ready to GET SHIT DONE. You may look like a giant dingus doing this, but who's gonna step to a person as confident as you? NO ONE, that's who.
Learn how to complain effectively
It's no surprise that complaining all the time can be a one-way ticket to Bummertown, Population: YOU and no one else because everyone is sick of listening to you. What MAY come as a surprise however, is that complaining EFFECTIVELY can have the exact opposite impact.
Effective complaining involves stating your problem in a way that invites solutions and change. If you complain to your friend about your slow internet for 2 hours, you're going to be even MORE pissed about your slow internet. If you complain to the CABLE COMPANY about your slow internet for two hours, and then they come fix your internet, you end up feeling more empowered and positive about your ability to create change in your life.
AND your internet is faster! Win-win!
Say positive things about yourself (even if you don't believe them)
This is another one of those weird brain chemistry things that seems like bullshit, but DOES work for some reason. Bear with me here: as it turns out, the things you say aloud actually impact the neural pathways in your brain, forming connections between your words and your feelings about yourself.
If you are constantly putting yourself down, your brain will start to believe that you DESERVE to feel bad. On the other hand, if you make a concerted effort to only say POSITIVE things about yourself, even if you don't actually think the things are true, your brain will eventually start to BELIEVE those things and will form new neural pathways in regards to your self-image.
Your words are literally fucking magic spells that shape your own personal reality to your whims. Our brains don't make any sense.
When in doubt, hug it out
If all else fails, just find yourself a buddy and give them a big ol' hug. Hugging someone does WAY MORE than just feel real nice for a minute. It causes the release of the chemical oxytocin, which promotes bonding between people, reduces stress, and even lowers blood pressure.
Some studies have shown that oxytocin can actually improve immune function and pain tolerance as well. ALL OF THIS FROM A HUG. What are you even waiting for? Go hug someone right now!
The Golden Age of Sailing was often pretty harrowing (not to mention disgusting) for the people who sailed on those beautiful ships. Between poor living conditions, cruel punishments and the constant threat of violence, a life at sea certainly wasn't all grog and shanties. Here are just a FEW reasons that being an old-timey sailor was THE WORST:
Mythology and folklore have given us stories of all kinds of crazy animals, from dragons to mothmen to extremely rude-looking magical raccoons. But if you're really looking for monsters, just look outside! Turns out the natural world is full of creatures just as strange, eerie and ridiculous as anything from a poorly-sourced cryptozoolgy blog.
The Northern Grasshopper Mouse
The Great Tit
The Surinam Toad
The Pigbutt Worm
Welcome to "History Is Rad," where we recount historical events and figures that were probably never taught to you in school, even though they totally should have been (because they're rad). Today, we will tell you about the life of Julie D'Aubigny, otherwise known as "La Maupin" or "the most badass swordfighting bisexual gender queer professional opera singer rogue who ever lived."
The Tale of Julie D'Aubigny:
The Swashbuckling Bisexual Genderqueer Opera Singer Your History Teacher Never Taught You About
Julie D'Aubigny was born into the court of King Louis XIV of France in 1673. Unlike other young women in such positions, Julie learned fencing, reading, and drawing - thanks in part to her father's occupation had him training the other court pages.
And most unlike other girls of her age and situation, she was known to often dress as a boy.
Her reputation as a wild spirit truly began when - while in the midst of an affair with a fencing master - she fled Paris with her lover after he had killed a man in an illegal duel.
They made their way on the road by singing at local pubs and taverns (D'Aubigny had a legendarily beautiful singing voice) and by giving fencing showcases for locals - during which D'Aubigny would frequently dress as a man, although not attempt to conceal her gender. At one stop, a man accused D'Aubigny of actually being a man, as he felt no woman could be so talented at fencing. D'Aubigny responded by removing her blouse, which settled that.
What truly cemented Julie D'Aubigny as a next-level historical rogue was her affair with a young woman whose name has been lost over time. Upon discovery of the affair, her parents sent her away to a convent...and D'Aubigny followed, introducing herself as a traveler looking to join as a nun.
She and her lover plotted an escape that would allow them freedom from the woman's family - D'Aubigny stole the body of an elderly nun who had died in the night, placed it in her lover's bed, and set the entire room ablaze to give the appearance her lover had died.
The deception was discovered, however - and D'Aubigny was tried in absentia and sentenced to death...by fire.
She and her lover went on their separate ways eventually - and D'Aubigny one day found herself accidentally bumping into a nobleman, who immediately challenged her to a duel (not realizing she was a woman). They dueled, and D'Aubigny won, driving her blade through his shoulder.
Instead of seeking vengeance, the nobleman apologized - and she nursed him back to health, after which they became lovers.
After getting a pardon from the King (to deal with that whole "death by fire" situation), D'Aubigny was able to pursue a career at the famous Paris Opera - where she sang for years, and became a favorite of audiences and critics alike thanks to her singing talents and acting prowess. She starred in every one of the Opera's major productions from 1690 - 1694, and became known simply as "La Maupin" (after her first - long-since-abandoned - husband).
Of course, she was still the same firebrand as before - and after kissing a young woman at a soiree while dressed as a man, three noblemen challenged her to separate duels. She told all of them to meet her outside - where she proceeded to duel them all simultaneously AND WON. Why does famous duel-loser Alexander Hamilton get a musical and bisexual genderqueer nun-conning opera star fencing legend La Maupin doesn't?!
Anyways, duels had been made illegal in Paris, so La Maupin was forced to flee to Brussels (where she took up with the Elector of Bavaria, stabbed herself on-stage with an actual dagger, and threw away 40,000 francs out of spite, etc. Just your usual La Maupin stuff.)
Her last relationship was an intense affair with the Madame la Marquise de Florensac - until de Florensac died of a sudden fever a few years into their relationship. La Maupin could not deal with the death of de Florensac, and retired from the opera in 1705.
And while the precise details of her last days are anecdotal, she supposedly took refuge in - of all places - a convent, where she soon passed away at the age of 33.
Welcome to "History Is Rad," where we recount historical events and figures that were probably never taught to you in school, even though they totally should have been (because they're rad). Today, we will tell you about the life of Ching Shih, who was possibly the greatest pirate lord who ever lived and basically all of the most badass Game of Thrones characters combined into one human being.
Ching Shih's early life remains a mystery - but we know she was working as a prostitute when she was taken by pirates and married to their leader, Cheng I.
She was no ordinary wife - Ching Shih took on her new role with gusto, becoming a partner in her husband's life as a pirate and joining him in raids and attacks. And with her help, Cheng I was able to create an alliance of Cantonese pirate fleets - creating the Red Flag Fleet, which boasted over 300 ships and between 20,000 - 40,000 pirates in its ranks.
So, she went from "prostitute from Nowheresville" to "Pirate Queen" almost instantly. Pretty rad.
It wasn't long after that Cheng I died - and while he had named his adopted son Cheung Po Tsai as his heir, Ching Shih used her wits and charm to gain the loyalty of the essential captains of the Red Flag Fleet and take over as commander. And to solidify her leadership, she took Cheung Po Tsai as her second-in-command and eventual husband.
And with that, Ching Shih became the most powerful pirate lord of the Qing Dynasty. Like, she is almost exactly Daenerys Targaryen except real.
Shih knew maintaining a pirate fleet so massive could easily fall apart if she didn't rule with an iron fist - so she set out her own code of laws:
1. Anyone giving orders that did not come from Ching Shih or her lieutenants or disobeying the orders of their superior was immediately beheaded.
2. Anyone caught stealing from the group's funds or from villagers who assisted the pirates would be severely punished.
3. All stolen booty had to be presented to a group, so that everyone could inspect the goods and evenly distributed by the fleet leader.
4. When actual money or gold was taken, it was to be given to the fleet leader - who would give a small portion to the person who stole the cash. Most of the money was used to purchase supplies for less successful ships to keep everyone properly provisioned.
"Immediate beheading" might sound like kinda a harsh punishment for not following orders, but then again WHY WOULDN'T YOU FOLLOW THE ORDERS OF THIS PIRATE QUEEN?
The consequences for violating these laws included flogging, clapping in irons, quartering, and disfigurement (in addition to beheading). And there were even a special set of laws dictating what would happen to female captives in particular - raping a woman was an immediate death sentence, and consensual sex between a pirate and a female captive would result in them BOTH being put to death (the pirate by beheading, the woman by drowning). And if a pirate in her fleet took a captive as their wife, they were required to remain faithful to her.
The result of these laws and their strict enforcement was one of the most disciplined, powerful pirate forces in recorded history. So, there was a little Euron Greyjoy in there too. Like, 20% Euron Greyjoy and 80% Daenerys Targaryen - AND without all of Daenerys' plot armor.
The Red Flag Fleet sailed up and down coastal China - sacking villages and markets, plundering ships, and defeating various armies and mercenaries that got in their way. Forces from the Qing Dynasty, the Portuguese Navy, and the East India Company attempted to take on the Red Flag Fleet, but were met with bitter defeat at every outing.
HBO, I know Game of Thrones is ending - MAKE A SHOW ABOUT THIS NEXT, OKAY?
Those who defied or fought back against Ching Shih met with gruesome fates - in one instance, a village who put together a militia to resist the Red Flag Fleet lost 80 men to beheading, and most of the women and children were captured and sold into slavery. When the Chinese Imperial Army sent a massive force to dismantle Shih's fleet, they lost 63 ships - and one captured officer was nailed to the ship's deck and brutally beaten. A Navy Admiral by the name of Kwo Lang committed suicide to evade capture and torture the Red Flag Fleet was infamous for.
But, there's no way ANYONE could keep this kind of thing going indefinitely, right? She had to get taken down eventually - after all, she was an INFAMOUS PIRATE LORD WHO MADE PEOPLE KILL THEMSELVES IN TERROR. That kind of reputation can't go unpunished.
Oh wait no it totally can.