Sunday, September 6, 2015

A wacky riff on this day in history, September 6

Exactly a century ago on this day, September 6, the first-ever tank, nicknamed "Little Willie," was tested for war. Little Willie did not live up to expectations. (They can put that on my tombstone too.)

So they built Big Willie, who did a very efficient job of removing souls from bodies long before Fox News was invented.

Tanks are supposedly called "tanks" because, for secrecy, the military told tank factory workers that tanks were to transport water on the battlefield. I do not think that fooled anybody. Even factory rubes would have known you don't deliver water through a 50 mm gun.

On this day in 1522, the one surviving ship of explorer Ferdinand Magellan's arrived in Spain after completing the first ever circumnavigation of the earth.

"How was it?" the king asked in Spanish.

"We lost the other four ships and Magellan got killed in the Philippines, but on the bright side, we found what you sent us around the world for."

"The Starbucks?"

"Yes, your highness. I'll draw you a map."

It is ironic that Magellan is the brand name of a major GPS manufacturer, considering he never made it home. The symbolism is not great. "Your car will make it back, at least" is not a slogan I see selling a lot of units.

On this day in 1628, the Puritans settled Salem, Massachusetts, so that one day there would be no shortage of clothing stating "My parents drowned a witch and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

On this day in 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden and moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson. They soon made a pact that nobody could join their club unless he had a middle name that everybody had to say whenever they said his name. Sadly, Francis Scott Key had died four years earlier.

On this day in 1901, Leon Czolgosz, whom history inevitably reports to us was unemployed, shot President McKinley, who had a job. Czolgosz, who was found to be suffering from too many consonants, was electrocuted by the state.

This is still not the worst thing that has ever happened in Buffalo.

In 1930, game designer Charles Foley was born. He would go on to invent the game "Twister." Before Foley, the phrase "right foot green" had a decidedly more dire connotation.

History has a lot to teach us, you see, none of which you just read.

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