Knowledge is quite big, so for convenience it is divided into history, geography, science, French, Latin and PE. PE is a special branch of knowledge that is done by running about and climbing on things, so is not suitable for an online PhD. All the rest of knowledge you can learn here and, on payment of $50, you will receive your Certificate of Knowing Things. It is printed on good quality paper and well worth the money. There’s a ribbon and a dangly thing on it too.
The most interesting thing about history is that it all happened in geography. Everything's got to happen somewhere. If only headmasters realised this they could halve their teaching staff, at least in the geographical arts and historical sciences. What was geography like yesterday and who was walking on it? That's history, that is. By the same reasoning it can be proved that Latin is a branch of astronomy. I leave that as an exercise for the student (that’s you). If you do your exercise well you can count it as a pass in PE too.
Since history is just olden-days geography you can skip it and read the next section instead.
Geography is about where things are and why they aren’t somewhere else. Why is France in France when it might equally well have been in Germany? This is a deep question and one that has occupied my mind for hours. For an extra $10 this knowledge too can be yours. For the purposes of your PhD you can assume that France is both the name of a country and the place where that country can be found.
For most of geography you don’t have to know where things are, you can rely on an aeroplane to get you there and the pilot to know the way. In fact, memorising that sort of thing is a waste of time unless you want to be a pilot yourself. We’ll say no more about it.
Geography has maps in it. This is what distinguishes it from chemistry, which has no maps at all. The first maps of the world came from the Middle Ages (see? I told you geography was history) and were called mappae mundi (now you won’t need to bother with Latin either). The first one was no use at all since there was only one of it and you needed another map to tell you where it was. Historical people were not at all impressed and just got on with their mud and oxen and other hobbies of the time. Things continued this way until somebody invented the A to Z and made lots of it.
At this point the student (that’s you again) should draw a picture of an oxbow lake. It’s traditional. If you’re Australian you can draw a billabong, but remember that Australian isn’t knowledge, only French, so don’t start asking for extra marks. If you can colour it in without going over the lines, you’ve passed the course.
It’s hard to be an evil world-dominator’s henchman without at least a basic appreciation of science. You can do evening classes for the henching. Science at school is done with water and weights and homework and is not very interesting at all. At PhD level you can start thinking seriously about blowing up the world and it becomes very interesting indeed.
The first thing you’ll need is a laboratory. In the olden days you needed access to lightning and dead body parts but nowadays there’s mains electricity and monsters are old hat, usually with a second-hand head to put it on. If you’re serious about world domination you should build your laboratory in an extinct volcano but for this course a bedroom will suffice.
The next thing you’ll need is a science machine. If you try to get one cheap on eBay it will probably have sparks jumping between two silver balls, which will mark you out at once as an amateur. Your machine is your reputation, I’d go as far as to say your identity, at the very least your dearest friend, so don’t skimp. Get the best you can afford.
Now for your appearance. In simpler times it was enough to don a white lab coat, but these days there’s fierce competition and you need to stand out. You could practice talking dreamily about the majesty of the galaxy, but if you want to make an impression you’ll have to experiment (physics depends so much on experiment) with a style of your own. Forget wheelchairs, facial hair, German accents, limps, and so forth. All the obvious ones have been done. Get a scientist makeover from a reputable plastic surgeon.
As soon as you’re ready, plug in your science machine and turn it up higher than anybody has ever turned it before. There will be a knob for this. If it has a missile-launching attachment, now would be the time to deploy it. Stand by the machine rubbing your hands gleefully until something happens that could previously only be done with CGI. If you survive, you’ve passed the course.
This is the language you need if you want to talk to French people. Most English people don’t and the feeling is mutual. It is also the language to go for if you are interested in irregular French verbs. Most people aren’t and the feeling is mutual.
The thing to realise about French is that it’s just like English only done with different words, like Cockney rhyming slang without the rhymes. Most scholars agree that the French only do it to be annoying and that when they’re alone they all speak perfectly good English. The first thing to try if you are unlucky enough to meet a Frenchman is to shout. If he pretends not to understand, shout louder and make meaningless hand gestures. If he still refuses to understand, make rude hand gestures and call him a surrender monkey. Don’t say this if he’s carrying a monkey or he might really surrender it and then you’ll be responsible for its upkeep and education.
The point of learning French is to woo French women. In the olden days French lingerie made it all worthwhile but now that underwear knows no national boundaries you’ll have to decide on a course by course basis which delicate morsels are worth the effort. Service à la russe, you might say. That’s French, by the way, and shows the other reason for learning it: you can drop it into sentences to confound your enemies. Make sure first that they don’t speak more French than you do.
To learn French you should buy a French-English dictionary and memorise as many words as you want to know. Learning to count up to ten is as far as most people ever get, so once you’ve done that you’ve passed the course.
Latin is just ancient French but you need it if you want to be posh. The same rules apply, except that Latin underwear wasn’t up to much and you can’t chat up Latin women unless you’re keen on bones. Also, it’s not so common for people to count up to ten in Latin, so that’s one way to get ahead. It goes like this: Eye, eye-eye, eye-eye-eye, ivy, vee, vee-eye, vee-eye-eye, vee-eye-eye-eye, eye-ecks, ecks. Anybody who says ‘hello sailor’ or ‘what have we here?’ while you’re reciting your knowledge should probably be avoided.