Today in Hystery January 31st

   On this day in 1627, the Spanish government went bankrupt. This is a habit they’ve got to put an end to. Seems Spain is very much like a well-thrown football; always in the hands of the receivers.

   On this day in 1696, the Revolt of the Undertakers hit the streets of Amsterdam after funeral reforms were brought in. Isn’t ‘revolting undertakers’ redundant?

   On this day in 1849, the Corn Laws were abolished in Britain. The Corn Laws were set up to protect British corn growers from competition. The other set of Corn Laws have never been abolished in Britain, as witnessed by this joke from The Two Ronnies, “And we’ll be talking to a car designer who’s crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo and come up with The Hatchback of Notre Dame.”

   On this day in 1851, Gail Borden announced the invention of evaporated milk. He was a brilliant U.S. inventor, and he needed to be brilliant because he was a guy named “Gail”.

   On this day in 1871, millions of birds flew over San Francisco, darkening the sky, but whitening up everybody’s roof.

   On this day in 1928, Scotch tape was first marketed by the 3M Company. If you’ve ever wondered why they called it “Scotch” tape, here’s the answer; 3M was trying to cut the cost of producing it by only putting adhesive on the edges, rather than completely covering one side. An employee remarked that the stingy Scotch bosses needed to put more adhesive on it, and the name stuck. The stingy Scotch bosses were so mad at him they thought about hanging him but didn’t want to pay for the rope, so they just glowered at him.

   On this day in 1933, Hitler promised parliamentary democracy in Germany. That promise is right up there with three of my other favourites; the cigarette ad from the 1950s that said, “Lucky Strikes are less irritating”, then there’s the sign on all carpet stores that says, “Going out of business” and, of course, who could forget George W. Bush’s famous speech from 2003, “We found the weapons of mass destruction”.

   On this day in 1950, U.S. President Truman publicly announced the development of the H-bomb. Now, this is a matter that confuses me. We all know about the A-Bomb in 1945, but then, 5 years later, they developed the H-Bomb. What happened to the B, the C, the D, the E, the F…okay, pardon me. We’re all very familiar with the F-Bomb.

   If your birthday is January 31st, you share it with German comedy writer Louis Angely who was born on this day in 1787. I must admit I’d never heard of any of his comedy so I looked him up. His funniest bit which killed at all the German comedy clubs in 1817 was called “List and phlegm”. I guess you had to be there.

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