Posts filed under “History”


On this day in 1794, the entire French nation was officially converted to a new religion called the Cult of the Supreme Being, which was instituted by Maximilien Robespierre. The religion ended a month and a half later with the execution of its Supreme Being, Maximilien Robespierre.


On this day in 1381 in England, it was discovered that the peasants were revolting. Historians suggest that the revolt would have ended much sooner had the nobles not been rolling on the ground laughing at the outrageously amusing pun this discovery invited.


…that Samuel Johnson knew more than fifty insulting terms for Scottish people, but put only seventeen of them into his Dictionary?

…that the islands of Japan form the Chinese character for “laundry detergent”?

…that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is still legally banned in Alabama?

…that world events are the product of inevitable social forces and human agency is an illusion aggressively promoted by Hallmark Cards, Inc.?

…that the extinct nation of Phoenicia is owed several thousand years’ worth of back royalties on the alphabet?

…that the black hole at the center of our galaxy is largely metaphorical?


On this day in 325, the First Council of Nicaea was called to order. Emperor Constantine’s idea of summoning all the bishops to a big meeting to settle the little difficulties in the Church proved a roaring success; and ever since then, whenever a small disagreement arises among Christians, a formal meeting is called, and everything is soon put to rights. Since Nicaea, however, it has become traditional for the council fathers to remove their halos for the group portrait, so that the bishops in the back rows are not obstructed.


In the year 1922, James Windbreaker Klunck, then just beginning to establish his reputation as a futurologist, wrote down a list of predictions of the state of the world a century in the future. He deposited his list in a time capsule at his local F. W. Woolworth five-and-dime store, on the grounds that it was the one institution in the neighborhood that he could confidently assert would still be flourishing in the next century. The owner of the discount tattoo parlor now occupying the building has carefully preserved the box, and opened it yesterday to great fanfare. These were Dr. Klunck’s predictions for the world of 2022:

Governors, representatives, judges, etc., will be chosen by competitive examination, and the science of psychology will be so well understood that a list of five questions will be sufficient to select the President of the United States.

The various inferior disk systems will be abandoned once their impracticality becomes clear, and all sound recordings in 2022 will be issued on reliable and durable cylinders.

Pocket watches will run for more than 72 hours at one winding.

The science of eugenics will be so confidently understood, and so universally practiced, that all men will be named Alvin and all women will be named Alvina, and they will live to the age of 138.

Paper shortages will be a thing of the past, as books and newspapers will be printed on thin sheets of cheap and abundant mercury.

Education will no longer take up twelve or more years of a child’s life; instead, knowledge will be distributed in pill form, with the dosage regulated by careful psychological supervision.

Musical taste will be improved by the new educational methods, and jazz and ragtime will give way to the most artistic fugues.

Selective breeding and injections of certain vitamins will produce cats that come when you call them.

The design problems of inkwells will at last be solved, rendering them completely spillproof.

Prohibition of alcohol having succeeded in eliminating drunkenness, reformers will turn their attention to the lemonade menace.

No respectable business or government agency will invest in any projection or scheme without first soliciting the advice of a professional futurologist.


On this day in 1536, Henry VIII’s marriage to Wife II, Ann Boleyn, was annulled. Two days later she was beheaded, having been convicted of treasonously spelling her name “Bullen” like a common washerwoman.


On this day in 1838, John Wilkes Booth, the famous actor, was born. His assassination of President Lincoln in 1865 was widely considered the worst thing an actor had ever done until the advent of Nicholas Cage.


I am King Warpalarpa of Tuwanuwa, the father of nations, the blessed of Tarhunna, and my name is not funny at all.

And my father King Tappalappa of Tuwanuwa reigned before me, and he was gathered to his fathers, and I sat on the throne of my fathers and I said, I am King Warpalarpa of Tuwanuwa. And my brother was named Wopolopo, and behold, he said that my name was funny. And I slew him and his retainers, and I held the throne of my fathers.

And there came to me the ministers of my father, and they said, Rule wisely and well, for you must know that you have a funny name. And I slew them, and I held the throne of my fathers.

And there came to me the priests of Tarhunna, and they said, Behold, we are not as your father’s ministers; we will not laugh at your funny name. And I slew them, for that they had said my name was funny, though they had not laughed, and I held the throne of my fathers.

And there came to me the chief men of Tuwanuwa, and they said, O father of nations, blessed of Tarhunna, behold, we are your servants. And I saw that they were stifling giggles, though they had not spoken my name. And I slew them, and my name is not funny at all, and I held the throne of my fathers.

And I heard distant laughter in Tuwanuwa, and I knew that the people had called my name funny. And I burned the city with fire and leveled it with things that flatten, and the people perished, and behold, they knew that my name is not funny at all. And there was none left, yea not one, and no one said that my name was funny, and I held the throne of my fathers.

And I lifted this stone with my own hands and set it for a memorial, that the world may know my deeds. And I, King Warpalarpa of Tuwanuwa, the father of nations, the blessed of Tarhunna, have inscribed these words with my own hand, and my name is not funny at all.


On this day in 1992, the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution came into force after completing the usual 202½-year ratification process. When great legal minds speak of acting “with all deliberate speed,” this is the sort of thing they mean.