SEPTEMBER 20, 1839: IT ISN’T RAINING RAIN, YOU KNOW

IT ISN’T RAINING RAIN, YOU KNOW

An English officer, living in Calcutta recorded an unusual phenomenon on September 20, 1839. As he was walking out of doors, it began to rain but it wasn’t raining just rain; it was raining fish. They were small,  just three inches in length, a size you’d throw back but there was no water anywhere nearby to throw them back into. Some fell on hard ground and were killed; others fell on soft grass and were unharmed (of course, they eventually died anyway). Shortly after this event, in a nearby village some 3,000 to 4,000 fish of a different species were found carpeting the ground.

Turns out such showers aren’t really that unusual, and it doesn’t have to be fish. It can rain all sorts of creatures with or without rain rain. According to the folks at Modern Farmer: “Over the years many different animals have reportedly fallen from the sky. Tadpoles over Japan; spiders over Brazil; frogs over Serbia, ancient Egypt and Kansas City; brown worms over Indiana; scarlet worms over Massachusetts; red worms over Sweden; snails over England; a shower of raw meat (thought to be venison or mutton) over Kentucky; blackbirds over Arkansas; eels over Alabama; snakes over Tennessee,” and bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.

Sometimes the animals survive the fall. Witnesses of raining frogs have described the animals as startled (startled indeed!) and exhibiting rainingcats2normal behavior after the downpour (such as croaking, in both senses of the word).

There have been no reliable reports of an actual cat or dog rainfall — at least without the presence of prodigious amounts of alcohol. The origin of the phrase “raining cats and dogs” remains a mystery of etymology. In 1651, British poet Henry Vaughan referred to a roof that was secure against “dogs and cats rained in shower.” But we have no way of knowing whether he had actually witnessed such a shower. It is curious that he, being a poet, didn’t prefer a phrase such as “frogs and fishes rained in shower” with its superior alliteration.

 

The Only Thing We Have  To Fear Is — Oh My God!

Economists disagree on the major causes of the Panic of 1873. Inflation after the Civil War, speculative investments in railroads, a big trade deficit, property losses from major fires in Boston and Chicago, European economic woes. One economist was rumored to have blamed it all on a great storm of cats and dogs. In any event, on September 20 the New York Stock Exchange closed for the first time in its history and stayed closed for ten days. Panic ensued. Dead cats, dogs, frogs, fishes and investors covered Wall Street, triggering a depression that lasted for another six years.

Going Down: Alice in Donaldland Begins

Alice was growing sleepy, sitting next to her sister who was reading a book. “What’s the use of a book if it can’t get you online?” she muttered to herself. Just as she was beginning to drift off, a large White Rabbit ran by. This was rather remarkable in and of itself but even more so as the Rabbit pulled a watch out of its waist-coat pocket and said “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late. The Queen will tweetstorm me for sure.”

Now wide awake with curiosity, Alice jumped up and chased after the Rabbit, just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit hole. Alice went right down the hole herself, never giving it a thought, and found herself falling. Either the well was very deep or she was falling very slowly, for she had plenty of time to look around. The sides of the hole had become walls, and the walls were covered with pictures. Mostly they were grumpy looking old white men, but among them were many pictures of what seemed to be a Queen. She looked a lot like the grumpy old men except for the royal gown and the royal crown nestled in a strange outcropping of very orange hair. The Queen had big hands and, Alice imagined, a big — Alice didn’t finish the thought for she landed with a thud on the floor of an ornate room. It was an odd room with no windows or doors and above her just the blackness through which she had fallen. Then she spotted a single door that she hadn’t noticed before because it was so tiny, certainly too tiny for her to go through it.

The only furniture in the room was a single table. On the top of the table was a small bottle with a note attached that read: Drink me, if you want to become very small. She took a sip from the bottle and, finding it quite pleasant, finished it off. She waited for something to happen — and waited. Nothing. Finally, she picked up the bottle to see if she could get another drop out of it and saw the other side of the note: I lied. The only way to get small is to keep saying over and over that you are small. It’s like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, except there are no boots or straps and it’s down rather than up.

Alice sat down in front of the little door and recited “I am small. I am small.” She repeated these words for the longest time until she saw that the little door was getting bigger and bigger. Or was she getting smaller? When the door looked like a normal-sized door she said loudly: “I really am small.”

A sign on the door read: Welcome to Donaldland, Home of Alternate Facts. She opened the door, stepped through and realized that everything on this side was as small as she was, so she felt like her normal size. “I think I’m going to like this place,” she said.

Next Monday: A Dodo in Name Only

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SEPTEMBER 3, 1993: INFINITE MONKEYS

INFINITE MONKEYS

In Stockholm, Sweden, the newspaper Expressen gave five stock analysts and a chimpanzee the equivalent of $1,250 each to make as much money as they could on the stock market in one month.

Mats Jonnerhag, publisher of the newsletter Bourse Insight, turned in a nice performance. His stock portfolio gained $130. Not good enough. The stock-picking chimp (who went by the name Ola) saw the value of his portfolio climb by $190 for an easy victory.

While the stock experts carefully assembled their portfolios using a variety of analytical tools, Ola put aside such things as price/earnings ratios, volatility measures and technical factors in favor of darts, which he tossed at the Stockholm Stock Exchange listings.

Naysayers will no doubt bring up the infinite monkey theorem: that an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time could eventually write the works of Shakespeare. Or the lesser quoted corollary that seven monkeys with seven typewriters in seven weeks could write the Republican Party Platform.

In a reported real-life attempt to prove either of these theories, two chimpanzees and an orangutan were put in a room with three typewriters. By the end of just 24 hours, they had written “jid;lwer fivcjfdoske flfjwlsjfpos p3mzds[sk,43l;cv kdid,ewodkdjss;djelldsd kdjhdps ddodlsps psvvspap39djk3^jh& jfioermcjd,ud3$m kidelqqwerty” Even more amazing: They had used exactly 140 characters which they tweeted (using the orangutan’s twitter account). It went viral.

Getting a Buzz On

Parade-goers lined the streets of Flint, Michigan, on September 3, 1900, the first Labor Day of the new century to witness tbuzzhe debut of a new automobile, the first ever made in that city. It was not created by General Motors as practically every car to follow was. This car was designed and built by Charles Wisner, a county judge by day and an automotive visionary by weekends.

Wisner’s Buzz-Wagon, as his unusual vehicle was lovingly called, was the first of three he designed and built. None ever went into mass production. That was left for the Chevrolets and Buicks that would arrive later. The Chevrolets and Buicks would offer a smoother ride with a lot less noise, and in an unusual departure from the Buzz-Wagon, they would have brakes. The Buzz-Wagon, it seemed, required a sturdy immovable object such as a lamppost or a large building for it to bump into in order to stop.

Fortunately at the Flint Labor Day parade, the immovable object was unnecessary. Much to the amusement of several thousand spectators, the Buzz-Wagon stalled and had to be pushed out of the parade.

 

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Bedtime for Donald

They’re saying women aren’t going to vote for me. Boy are they in for a surprise on election day. I’m going to win, win big, and women will donald-trumpbe voting for me, because they secretly love me. And I love them, at least the good looking ones. They love me because I’m big, a big television star, a big businessman. I have big buildings, a big plane, big bucks. And I have a big locker room, if you know what I mean. The women love my locker room. They all want to get into my locker room. Big ideas, big hands, big hair, big . . . G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

They’re streaming across the border. By the thousands. Murderers, rapists and illegal voters. They’re trying to throw the election to Crooked Hillary. They all know she can’t win without illegal votes. It’s donald-trumpall rigged. Just like the debates. But I’m going to win. Because the people love me, they love me. And those holier-than-thou Republicans who want you to think they’ve never been in a locker room before, they can scream and whine all they want, because I’m in this to the finish, and I’m going to win. They cross me, they’re going to lose, lose big. Trust me. And on my first day in office, I’m going to throw Hillary in a jail cell and throw away the key. And her husband will be free to chase all the skirts he wants. He’s far worse than me, far worse. You ought to hear him in a locker room. Disgusting. G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

Wheel and deal, that’s what it takes. Everybody’s all tut tut, he didn’t pay any taxes for all those years. I paid plenty of taxes, plenty. Maybe not those taxes, but plenty of taxes. It’s the system. You got to wheel and donald-trumpdeal the system. My book says it all — The Art of the Deal. Maybe I’ll do a sequel — The Art of the Wheel. That broad Leona Helmsley said it: “Only the little people pay taxes.” Tough broad. Ugly, but tough. And I say only losers pay taxes. You got to wheel and deal. That’s what I’ll do when I’m President. Wheel and deal and make America great again. And none of us will pay taxes. Except the losers. Mexicans and Muslims, if any of them are still here. And Crooked Hillary, boy will she pay. G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

I ran the Miss Universe contest. Talk about experience in world affairs. Herding bimbos is a lot harder than dealing with attachés and ambassadors. That’s work for someone like a Secretary of State — whodonald-trump is a secretary after all,  just a step above housekeeper. Running Miss Universe, that’s diplomacy. I can see me and Putin in the same room when Miss Fraulein Germany swoops by. We exchange knowing glances. If we had exchanged knowing glances back when SALT talks were going on, well, the world would be a much better place today. I’m really the only person who can do foreign policy. I ran Miss Universe. I visited almost every nation, if you know what I mean. Except Argentina. Yes I called her Miss Piggy; it was just a pet name. Doesn’t anyone understand sarcasm or irony or whatever? G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

The debate — rigged, rigged, rigged. They sabotaged my microphones. Democrats. They were all over the place. Crooked Hillary and Barnacledonald-trump Bill (if you catch my drift). CNN,the New York Times, USA Today, even some of my own advisers. (I’m like Julius Caesar surrounded by a bunch of Et Tu Brutuses.) I won that debate, even with all the rigging. I demolished Crooked Hillary. And now my own people want to have Fat Boy Chris Christie coach me. It’s OK. Fat guys are cool; fat guys are fun. Fat women, ugh. But I love them, even if they’re fat. And I love Mexicans and Muslims and Argentinian bimbos and colored people and LGBTs and LSMFTs and everybody. I love everybody. They want me to be a big tent, how’s that for big tent? My tent is sooo big. G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

Tax returns! What’s the BFD about tax returns? I’m telling you, no one cares. They’re boring. Just a bunch of numbers in there. Mind candy for accountants and other loser types. I never look at them. No ideadonald-trump what’s in there. Doesn’t matter because I’m sooo incredibly rich. And I give millions and millions to charity. The Washington Post tells lies. So does Harry Reid. He’s a liar and a loser, and he’s got a weird eye. Would you like it if I said I wanted to see your tax returns? I think not. G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

I’m your commander in chief guy. I’ve been commander in chief of Trump Industries for a long time. I tell thousands and thousands of people what to do. And on the very, very first day of my administrationdonald-trump I’m going to gather up all my generals and tell them I want a plan for eliminating all terrorism on my desk by noon. Every single terrorist. I’d have gotten Bin Laden before Obama did if I’d been President, before Obama was even president. Before 9/11. Before W. was president. What a wuss. I’d have gotten Bin Laden when he was a little kid. I’d have gotten Bin Laden’s mother before he was even born. I’m a Commander in Chief. G’night.

Bedtime for Donald

Everyone got all hot and bothered about what I said to my second amendment guys. Don’t they get it? It’s like that old game. Donald saysdonald-trump second amendment guys, stand up and be heard. Donald says second amendment guys, we don’t want any more liberals on the Supreme Court. Donald says second amendment guys, get out and vote. Second amendment guys, get Crooked Hillary right between her beady eyes. Gotcha. I didn’t say ‘Donald says’ that time. It doesn’t count unless I say ‘Donald says.’ It’s sarcasm. G’night.