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‘This Day In History’ Category

  1. This Day In History: The Origins of Groundhog Day

    February 26, 2010 by nick

    Traditionally those in the United States and Canada associate Groundhog Day with February 2nd, and it consists of the eponymous animal emerging from his burrow and making a weather prediction. Unsurprisingly, the cultural roots of this North American holiday lie in their mother island of the U.K.

    Indeed, to ancient Britons every February was a time for great speculation. The name of the holiday comes from the Norse term grisa, -de, -t — (1) What a sow does when she gets piglets. (2) To behave like a pig, typically in conjunction to a party. The residents of each village in Southwestern England near Wales would spend all of February holding rudimentary boxing tournaments amongst eligible young men. The worst fighter would then be put into a pit, unarmed, with the largest wild boar that the villagers could find.

    The ensuing fight would have profound importance to the morale of the tribe. If the boar was victorious – as was overwhelmingly the case – the village would celebrate, and consider it a sacrifice to nature. The Britons believed that it would be the precursor for a strong growing season. On the very rare occasion that the poor fighter managed to subdue the boar, he would be given all of the alcoholic beverages in the village and told to dance until he passed out.

    An amendment to the healthcare bill to bring back this tradition was proposed by a coalition of Democratic and Republican Congressmen and is the focus of Barack Obama’s Healthcare Summit. Proponents say it will help fix American crop yields, while opponents say it doesn’t do enough and should be far more extreme.

  2. This Day In History

    October 17, 2009 by nick

    On this crisp October the 17th, I shall return to the dusty tomes and scrolls to divulge more of history’s secrets, long lost to man.

    Many attribute the United States’ entry into WWI to various factors – entrenched financial ties with Great Britain and France, the sinking of the Lusitania passenger ship by a German U-Boat, and the Zimmerman Telegram proposing a Mexican invasion of the United States. These reasons were all certainly contributing factors, but none were nearly as significant as a reason withheld from public knowledge.

    Kaiser Wilhelm II, ruler of Germany, invited luminaries in American Society to high tea in Berlin in order to perhaps win over Americans to the camp of the Central Powers in the fall of 1916. Present at the secret, star-studded event were Charlie Chaplin, former president Teddy Roosevelt, and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.

    The occasion began without difficulty. Wilhelm was at his most cordial, proud to speak to his guests in the rudimentary English he had developed. Things turned south for the German leader when he made an abortive attempt at humor, making a comment that Americans “adore the African man.” Ty Cobb immediately leaped out of his seat. German guards restrained him, and prevented him from attacking the Kaiser – however, the Georgia Peach managed to slit the throat of one of the guards using a shiv hidden in the sleeve of his Tigers jersey.

    Cobb was hauled off to a German prison, spitting racial slurs all the way. The resulting uproar behind closed political doors pushed the Americans into the war.

  3. This Day In History

    October 9, 2009 by nick

    hot dogWe all know about the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Every year we gather our families together around the radio and listen to Vin Scully paint pictures with words. As he describes the gallant men consuming dozens upon dozens of hot dogs, every young boy imagines one day growing up and having such eating prowess, and every young girl imagines growing up and marrying one of these titans.

    Yet October 9th marks the anniversary of the first officially sanctioned, major eating contest which took place in 1942. However, there used to be a little twist. During Japan’s invasion of China in World War II, soldiers competed to prove their supremacy in all facets of depravity. Most famous is the anecdote regarding the beheading contest between two Japanese army officers.

    Less famous, however, was Hirohito’s eating contest – which translates literally to the name of “Honor Food Storm Garden” – which was issued as a challenge to his officers. Instead of seeing how much could be eaten within a time limit, a group of officers were each presented with ten pounds of salmon and the winner would simply be the man who could eat it the fastest. Also in attendance at the contest would be 5,000 Chinese prisoners of war – civilians and soldiers alike – whom the Japanese had starved in a pit for a week prior to the contest.

    The victor was presented with an ancestral sword. The losers committed ritualistic suicide.

  4. This Day In History

    September 16, 2009 by nick

    758228ee56e31a90_landingEverybody ignores September the 16th. For that, they are fools.

    As we all know, the forces of Heaven and Hell constantly wage war over the dominion of Earth and the souls of its inhabitants. Joseph Stalin is remembered as one of history’s greatest villains, and for all we know, rightfully so. However, all of this was a ruse. Stalin was selected at a young age by the Archangel Gabriel to construct a Force Altar, a shrine dedicated to goodness that could actually channel holy energy and smite Satan’s minions.

    In order to do so, however, Stalin would need to obtain unopposed, unlimited power, and the rise of the Soviet Union provided just such an opportunity. Each day of tyrannical totalitarian rule yielding limitless death and fear caused Joseph a sleepless night of self-flagellation and penitence.

    On September 16th, 1952, Stalin finally completed the Force Altar. However, as he moved to activate it, Nikita Krushchev leaped out of the shadows and wrestled Stalin to the ground using unholy power granted to him by the hideous Archdemon Rek’zuul. Struggle though he might, the elderly Stalin was no match, and Krushchev would corrupt the Force Altar and use its power for evil.

    Stalin lingered for several months after the struggle, miserable and broken, his only vengeance would be sketching images of Krushchev fellating farm animals in his private diaries. Krushchev was not upset by this, as he actually did fellate farm animals as part of his pact with the nether realms.

    Perhaps further delving into the scrolls of This Day In History will reveal the rest of this tale!

  5. This Day In History

    August 29, 2009 by nick

    muhaliRepeatedly, the day of August 29th has had a tremendous influence on the course of human history: The beginning of the 7 Years War in 1756, Brazil achieves independence from Portugal in 1825, the United Kingdom Abolished slavery in 1833, and the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. And who could forget the last Beatles concert, or the official demise of the Soviet Communist Party?

    Still, all of these pale in comparison to the significance of this day in 1805. Muhammad Ali Pasha continued to consolidate his new dynasty in Egypt. On his side was his ingenuity, and willingness to reform. Many do not know, however, that he also possessed a secret advantage.

    Beneath the ruins of the Library of Alexandria, Pasha’s retainers discovered a glowing blue portal. On the other side, they discovered the Golden City of Detroit in the year 2015. The reader is certainly familiar with the unprecedented success seen in this once-failed city after discovering a new form of energy unleashed upon the crucifixion of Chevrolet spokesman Howie Long. This energy allowed the carving out of an independent nation in America’s heartland, ruled by Joe Dumars. Pasha’s explorers managed to trade gold to an amused Jim Leyland in his holographic compound in exchange for several plasma rifles, which were more than enough to subdue neighboring 19th century territories.

  6. This Day In History

    August 17, 2009 by nick

    August 17th. Arguably the best day in human history.

    In the year 2674, humanity stumbled upon an ancient energy source on Saturn’s moon, Titan. This energy source allowed for traveling between stars. After another decade, humanity created a portal which they believed would transport them to a paradise. Unfortunately, it sent them back to 1999. Humanity sought to undo history and help N’Sync turn out on the top spot of TRL (Total Request Live). As the elite squad of soldiers burst into MTV studios in New York, they subdued the guards and made their way to the inner chamber.

    When they arrived, the holograms of audience members vanished at a gesture from Grand Vizier Daly. His chest erupted into tentacles and sucked the life out of the intrepid explorers of our future. With the sweet nectar of their anachronistic bodies, OverCarson subdued the governments of the end of the 20th century and subjugated all of humanity.

    All hail Carson.

  7. This Day In History

    July 25, 2009 by nick

    July 25th. A glorious day in the history of man. On this day in 1915 something incredible happened.

    The scene is Dublin, as the citizens of a British-occupied Ireland struggle to determine their place in the world as its oppressors fight a war abroad. Many Irish soldiers did indeed go off to serve, and fight, and die in mud of Flanders or the Somme. Some believed that it meant an opportunity to achieve independence, with England’s resources devoted towards the European continent. William Butler Yeats, the legendary poet and dramatist, was supremely concerned with the voice of thought of the Irish nation.

    As such, on July 25th, William Butler Yeats staged his abortive attempt at a follow-up national holiday to supplement Saint Patrick’s Day. To start the festivities, Yeats had purchased several German children on the black market, and had them tied to a post on the middle of the Ha’penny Bridge over the Liffey. Then he released his mutant, carnivorous swans upon them. The children screamed as they were devoured, but it could not be heard over the roar of the crowd. Yeats’ first, and only, “Festival of the Harp” erupted into pagan, ritualistic violence that resulted in the burning of significant parts of Dublin’s slums, and several reported acts of cannibalism.

    When criticized for the destruction and violence his holiday had caused, Yeats responded, “Only the artist may decide what is truly destruction”. He then wrote four letters to Maud Gonne and cried himself to sleep.

  8. This Day In History – Ryan’s Discovery

    July 20, 2009 by nick

    Listener Ryan (not to be confused with Engineer Ryan) has discovered a hidden scroll in the bowels of the Amazon rain forest. Although four members of his party were killed by the traps and guardians left by the ancients, he was able to translate this message from the hieroglyphics:

    Today is the 10th anniversary of the first ever reported Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) fatality. It was reported that ten years ago today a group of American college students studying abroad in China were killed while LARPing. Apparently the students were avid D&D players back in the States, and continued their obsessive role playing while abroad. However, on the evening of July 20th, 1999 the students decided to take their obsession a step farther. Realizing that they were in the land of monks, and presumably shadow monks, they decided to pursue a LARP game in the hills of China. Fortunately for the beginning LARPers the Wizards of the Coast had recently released their new D&D expansion Forgotten Scrolls which featured “far east” characters and recreated powers based on Chinese folklore. So the students, donning their home made Shaolin robes, plastic foam swords, and Chow Yun Fat pony tails they headed into the forests on the outskirts of of the city. The group split into factions and began playing their game. Running through the forests shouting “+2 damage!” and attempting their best kung fu panda impressions frightened the locals. Chinese authorities, fearing that this was a Tibetan monk uprising against the Communistical Chinese government, responded quickly to the forest where they first found 16 empty 2-liter Mountain Dew bottles strewn around the rough “camp site” that the students were using. As the students, returning to replenish themselves with the Mountain Dew, Chinese authorities, who had taken up positions in the trees around the site, would fire repeatedly upon the unsuspecting LARPers. All students in the group were gunned down in this way. The Chinese authorities only comment was, “we expected much more from a group of level 18 half elf monks.” And that is this day in history for July 17th.

    Thanks, Ryan! With help from listeners like you we will fully uncover the important histories of our world.

  9. This Day In History

    July 4, 2009 by nick

    PolkpolkJuly 4th – truly a day replete with history. Much of it is well known, but did you know that on this day in 1846 something extraordinary happened?

    James Polk, beloved 11th president of the United States, was still hale and healthy, though he would die at the age of 53 in 1849. As such, to celebrate the nation’s 70th birthday, Polk arranged for a small private party amongst America’s finest. Former President Martin Van Buren, the parents of Thomas Edison, Joseph Lister, and Alfred Lord Tennyson were all in attendance at Polk’s impregnable mountain fortress Gul’Taroth. The joyful occasion featured dancers from Araby, serving girls from the Orient, and Polk showed off collections of rare artifacts from the dark places of the world.

    Sadly, the frivolities were briefly interrupted by a surprise attack of the undead zombie lord Aaron Burr and his skeleton minions. Fortunately they were repulsed by Benjamin Disraeli’s Sword of Light, and the American work ethic.

    The rest of the evening went off without a hitch.

  10. This Day In History

    June 28, 2009 by nick

    Emperor Huang TaijiOn June 28th, 1643, the first Qing Emperor Huang Taiji was approaching death. In order to celebrate a life of general prosperity, the integration of different ethnic groups under his power, and lifetime achievement in warfare, a huge festival was held in Manchuria.

    For months, Taiji had been gathering the world’s greatest fighters from around the world, with 74 combatants representing every continent except Antarctica. No weaponry was allowed, and all fights were to the death. Jean-Claude Van Damme would eventually win the tournament, despite being temporarily blinded by sand in the final battle.

    The victorious Van Damme was granted eternal life as a prize for fighting so heroically.