July 29th, 1976 – Son Of Sam’s Dog Still At Large

On July 29, 1976, the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, began his terrorization of New York City, when he shot two women sitting in a car in the Bronx.  Over the next year, Berkowitz struck five more times, before an unpaid parking ticket finally led to his arrest on July 31, 1977.   After his arrest, Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor’s dog, Harvey, was to blame, as it was possessed by an ancient demon and had instructed him to commit the murders.  While Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of his murders, Harvey the dog got off scot-free because at the time it was still impossible to prosecute a dog in the U.S. judicial system (this was prior to “Fluffy vs. The State of California”of 1981).  Veterinary records show that Harvey continued to instruct people to commit murders over the remainder of his life, but after so much publicity no one took him seriously.

Here are a few more animal inspired crimes:

October 8, 1871 – The Great Chicago Fire; Mrs. O’leary claims a cow kicked over a lantern in the barn starting the fire.  In actuality, Mrs. O’leary had always been a bit of a pyro and the cow had just convince her that starting the fire was a good idea.

June 21, 1933 – John Dillinger robs his first bank at the insistence of his neighbors canary, Franklin.  When Franklin did not receive his promised cut of the “take” from the bank he became enraged and staged a plan to turn Dillinger in to the authorities.  Dillinger learned of the plan in advance and ate Franklin.  This is where the phrase “singing like a canary” comes from, in reference to confessing criminals.  This was left out of the historically inaccurate Johnny Depp film of 2009.

January 5, 1991 – Well before production, George Lucas’ cat, Mr. Pickles, convinced the famous Star Wars director that the character Jar Jar Binks would be a good addition to his prequels.

dog_in_jail

July 26th, 1908 – The FBI is founded, then is promptly investigated by itself.

On July 26, 1908, a group of newly hired federal investigators were assigned to the Office of the Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice, thus setting the groundwork for the future FBI.  One year later, after an extensive and expensive investigation that revealed many American’s were secretly making fun of their name behind their back, the Office of the Chief Examiner changed its name to the Bureau of Investigation, and then finally to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

The FBI gained much visibility in the public eye under its outspoken Director J. Edgar Hoover, who led the charge against organized crime during the prohibition era.  Those who know anything about Hoover, also know the biggest rumor about him and I’m here to tell you its true.  He was, in fact, a firm believer in the existence of Bigfoot and other mythical creatures.  Without approval from his superiors, Hoover went so far as to create a secret separate branch of the FBI to investigate these creatures called the Bureau Of Grossly Understudied Species, or B.O.G.U.S, for short.  To lead BOGUS, Hoover reached out to long time investigator and “untouchable”, Eliot Ness.  Some believe that Hoover tapped Ness for this specific assignment simply because he was suspicious that Ness might have unshared information regarding a certain Scottish monster that shared the same name.

Over the next 20 years, BOGUS produced mixed results in their investigations but were unable to produce any conclusive findings to support the existence of the “species” they were “studying”.  In 1961, the long secret organization was exposed to the public, when tourists in Yellowstone National Park caught on tape, two BOGUS Agents water-boarding a grizzly bear for information on a rumored Sasquatch in the area.  When the news broke, Hoover quickly disbanded BOGUS to avoid further public embarrassment, though it’s known today that he actually kept the agents on as private contractors and tripled their previous salaries.

Sasquatch

*Image sketched by a BOGUS Agent shortly before the Yellowstone water-boarding scandal, or Grizzly Gate, of 1961.

July 19th, 1799 – Rosetta Stone And Pablo Stone Are “Found”

On July 19, 1799, the Rosetta Stone was “rediscovered” in Egypt.  Though the path it traveled over the centuries is uncertain, this ancient stone was eventually used as construction material in the building of Fort Julien, in Rashid (Rosetta), Egypt, used by the French during the Napoleonic Expeditions.  This is where the stone was rediscovered by a French Soldier and ultra-amature archeologist, Pierre Francois-Bouchard.  The stone as we know it today carries the same script repeated in three sections, in three languages: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and ancient Greek.  By using the translations of the ancient Greek and Demotic text, scholars were able to translate the previously misunderstood Egyptian hieroglyphs, offering a new understanding of this ancient language and culture.

Here’s what you don’t know….

The Rosetta Stone we know today, stands a little over three feet tall.  When the stone was originally found in 1799, it stood at 5’8” and contained another section of text above the hieroglyphs, as well as some illustrations and a pretty jazzy title at the top.  The stone’s original height stood two inches taller than the expedition leader, Napoleon “Dynamite” Bonaparte.  Normally this would not have been a problem, but some insensitive French soldiers, drunk on wine and what they described as a “Rediscoverer’s High”, placed the stone next to Bonaparte’s tent door with a sign at the top reading, “You must be at least this tall to conquer Egypt.”  In a fit of understandable rage, Napoleon had the stone broken in two and the soldiers mummified.

Print The fourth section that was broke from the Rosetta stone contained a previously unknown language and fell into the possession of a Spanish stablehand named Pablo who worked on Fort Julien.  It was then smuggled back to Europe.  While the Rosetta Stone eventually fell into the hands of the British and now resides in a British museum, the Pablo Stone bounced around Europe for another 185 years.  Finally, after being won in a high stakes poker game by a newly millionaired Bill Gates, it ended up in Seattle, Washington.

Gates became increasingly fascinated with the Pablo Stone and it wasn’t long before he was able to decipher the unknown text.  Though the rest of the Rosetta Stone contains a bunch of boring dribble about a decree of a new king, the Pablo Stone, when read backwards, opened a portal to another world (presumably the same world that the aliens who built the pyramids came from).  Anyway, long story short, Gates opened the portal during what was supposed be a friendly golf game between rival billionaires in 2005, and cast the real Steve Jobs inside.  He then shut the portal and smashed the Pablo Stone for good.

What you don’t know about what you don’t know…..

The inscriptions on the Pablo Stone became the basis for Bill Gates’ ludicrously useless “Wing Dings” font on Microsoft Word.

July 7th, 1930 – Building Of The Hoover Dam Begins… Again

On July 7th, 1930, construction began on the current Hoover Dam.  History books tend to leave out that there were numerous other attempts to build this great dam prior to its current design.  Its original idea was conceived in 1902 by engineer Arthur Powell Davis.  Various “Projects” were contracted out by the U.S. Government to construct the dam over the years, before its final version began construction in 1930.  The following are a couple of the Projects over the years:

Project Morningwood (Most unfortunately named of the projects):

On April 6, 1917, America entered World War I.  With the countries young men shipping off to war and its resources being used for the war effort, the U.S. Government looked to environmental interest groups to find a cheap natural way to build the dam.  Winning the bid for the dam contract was, “Earl’s Big Beaver Construction” which claimed its army of “trained” beavers had constructed many other large scale projects in the past.  No one in Congress bothered to check on this before cutting them a check.  Needless to say, the required dam was much larger than Earl had anticipated and after his beavers unionized, it became clear the project would never reach completion.  In August of 1918, Earl disbanded his beaver army for good and was never heard from again.

Beaver Dam

 

*Earl doing a progress check in early 1918, shortly after the first beaver strike.

Project Buzzkill:

With the enactment of prohibition in January of 1920, the U.S. Government entrusted the next dam project to a special interest group of social reformers whose plan included the use of old booze barrels and the employment of individuals recruited from substance abuse centers (the employment of those less fortunate for this project later became the basis for many of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s programs in his New Deal during the Great Depression).  Once again, the groups leaders failed to realize the scale of the project and the wood from the booze barrels was not nearly enough.  Before contractors could be found to bring in concrete, a contingent of disgruntled beavers from the previous project chewed through some of the old full booze barrels, became intoxicated, and wreaked havoc on the unsuspecting camp of recovering alcoholics.  By morning the camp was abandoned, except for a select few who had stayed to get drunk with the beavers.  To this day, it is illegal to give booze to beavers in Nevada, except in Las Vegas.

There were many other failed projects before the dam’s final construction started in 1930, but the rest of them were pretty lame, so who cares.

“Just Ask Brett” Response – July 11, 2014

On July 11, 2014, reader “T.R.” asked:

“It is said that “you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose …but you cannot pick your Friend’s nose” …. Does this apply to politicians that also pick your pocket ?   Hmmmmm”

Dear T.R.

First and foremost, I think we need to address the initial portion of this question, which is the notion that you cannot pick your Friend’s nose.  I firmly believe this to be false.  I think it is EXTREMELY possible to pick your Friend’s nose, though more often then not it is against their will and often requires a third friend to restrain them.  Furthermore, there have been numerous studies done by highly respected anthropological organizations that conclusively prove that in many subcultures around the world, picking a friends nose is a sign of mutual respect (see the article ,”Toddler Daycare Subcultures”, Anthropology Gazette, Sept. 2013 Issue).

Finally, concerning pick pocket politicians, I will answer your question with another question.  If politicians pick our pockets and we pick our politicians, are we in fact picking our own pockets?

Since I find it irritating when people answer MY questions with more questions, I will answer my own question.  “Yes.”

Thank you for you inquiry,

Brett

July 4th, 1776 – ‘Murica Day

George and Eagle

Most people recognize this day as the day that the United States gained its independence from the British Empire.  What most people don’t know is that this is also the very same day the the U.S. Air Force was created.  The inaugural flight of what was then called the U.S. Army Air Corp, came when Gen. George Washington, riding on the back of giant bald eagle, flew out over the Hudson River Bay and sank the British flagship, H.M.S. Freedomhater, by bombarding it with flaming barrels filled with a highly combustible mixture of corn based moonshine and freedom (some argue that these two ingredients are the same thing).

When asked by a reporter how he had tamed the bald eagle enough to ride it, Gen. Washington informed him that he did not tame any eagle and that the eagle actually sought him out and volunteered its service.  He could tell the reporter didn’t understand the significance of this, so after a snarky remark about the liberal media, he open palm slapped the man, shouted “Murica!” and flew off into the night.


HAPPY ‘MURICA DAY, EVERYONE!!!!!

July 1, 1898 – The Battle For San Juan Hill

TR_San_Juan_Hill_1898

The Battle Of San Juan Hill was a decisive point in The Spanish American War, which was a war fought to assist the Cuban people in gaining their independence from the Spanish Empire, and therefore securing the uninterrupted flow of high quality cigars and cheap labor into the United States.  In order to more quickly end the war, the American’s knew they must take the city of Santiago De Cuba, but to do that, they must first take the fortified hill tops of San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill.  In the bloodiest battle of the war, units of American Cavalry and Infantry charged against the heavily fortified positions, eventually overpowering them.  Rumors abound that the charge may not have been as successful, had the Spanish troops not been so tired from missing their afternoon siestas.  After San Juan Hill was taken, the siege of Santiago De Cuba began, ending the war only a few days later.

Perhaps, the most famous of the stories of the Battle of San Juan Hill are those surrounding Col. Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, also known as the 1st Volunteer Cavalry.  A rag-tag band of western cowboys, east coast blue-bloods, and professional Yosemite Sam impersonators, Teddy and The Rough Riders were given much of the credit for the victory that day by the news publications of the time, which is the reason it is illegal to this day to own or transport a teddy bear in Spain.  On the flip side, it is traditional in Cuba to leave a teddy bear at the crest of San Juan Hill when visiting the memorial there.  Leaving  a hand drawn likeness of Yosemite Sam is also acceptable.

Few people know that most of the fiercest fighting on San Juan Hill was done by some of the U.S. Army’s African American units or Buffalo Units (most notably the 10th Cavalry).  The Buffalo Soldiers earned their name when U.S. Army budget cuts forced the African-American Cavalry units to give up their horses.  As a substitute, these soldiers began riding buffalo’s into battle.  Yeah, thats right… buffalo!  How hardcore is that!?!  SCOUTS OUT!!!

*For more on Theodore Roosevelt, please see this week’s Fake Quote Of The Week.