Herodotus Writes a History of the 20th Century -The Toast

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Herodotos_Met_91.8If you enjoy this, perhaps you will also like Marcus Aurelius, Sports Broadcaster.

On the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906:

Concerning the great earthquake, I was not able to gain any information from philosophers or scientists, nor could I gain any satisfactory explanation from the inhabitants of the city, who could explain neither why the great city had toppled nor why it had burned.

Some academicians, wishing to seem clever, have attempted to explain the motions of the earth in this place in the following way. They posit that all the earth is comprised of great plates of rock, like the ridges on a turtle’s back, and these float together on a sea of molten earth, and sometimes bump into one another like boats at anchor in the harbor, and that these jolts produce great perturbations of the earth. This is of course is absurd, for if the earth were so composed, then what is the turtle eating?

I will therefore proceed to explain what I think is the reason for the periodic quaking of the earth in these parts. The city of San Francisco is on the Pacific Ocean, and this ocean is cold in every part of the year, and the sun is unknown there. Now, when the waters of the ocean are cold it is necessary that the great fish that inhabit these waters would remain slumbering because of the action of the cold water on their blood. But should the sun pass too close to the water due to an unusual wind, it stands to reason that the great fish would wake up from their long slumbers, become enraged and thrash their tails, disturbing the natural course of the tides in this place. These tidal waves, in turn, would thrust themselves against the unprotected shores, resulting in exactly the type of earthquake that so devastated this unfortunate city.

G._RasputinOn the Death of Rasputin, 1916:

In the old days, the people of Russia declared that they would overthrow the Romanovs, whom they called despots, and install a government of the people. The Romanovs in those days were greatly influenced by a priest and scholar called Grigori Rasputin and so during the February Revolution the Russian people conspired to murder him by means of poison. When poison failed to kill him, they attempted first to shoot him, then to beat him to death. At last he was wrapped in a curtain, still alive, and thrown off a bridge into the Malaya Nevka River, where he at last ceased to breathe. But there are others who say Rasputin survived these tortures by secretly drinking a mixture of ginger ale and pigeon’s blood, and that he roused himself from the river bottom and fled Russia together with his son, who was a lion.

On the Stock Market Crash 1929:

As things are at present, the leaders of nations would do well to remember the story of the great market crash and the misfortune that followed, for the wise will declare that immoderate greed is the cause of all evil things.

On the Assassination of Trotsky, 1940:

Trotsky and Stalin were also in conflict over their position on the Republic of China which had been established that year in the east. Stalin hoped that Chinese Communist Party would unite with the Kuomintang to bring about a class revolution, but Trotsky was critical of Soviet support for the right-wing Kuomintang. Stalin and Trotsky also disagreed over the pace of industrialization and economic reform. In the winter of that year, Trotsky rode a dolphin to Mexico.

imgresOn the Moon Landing, 1969:

For on the moon the sand is made up of very large diamonds, which are polished by the actions of the atmosphere, and are naturally made smooth and perfect. And among these diamonds live a type of dogs, which are similar in size to a baby elephant, and which are very ferocious. And these dogs have the head of a cat, and the body of a boar, and the tail of a peacock, with hooves like a goat, and a moose’s antlers, and a zebra’s stripes, and a call like a chimpanzee, and no part of them in any way resembles a dog at all. And these dogs, as I have chosen to call them, fill their cheek pouches with smooth moon diamonds and hold them in their mouths to quench their thirst and in place of drinking water, for the water on the moon is noxious. And the astro-men who conquered the moon were wary of them, for these moon dogs are the most territorial and aggressive of all the animals on the moon.

On the Watergate Scandal, 1972:

Following the release of the audio tapes, Nixon immediately committed suicide by sitting cross-legged on a river bank, which everyone knows to be fatal.

On the Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989:

It is the custom of the Germans to build massive concrete walls to commemorate important feast days, and to decorate these walls with pictures and inscriptions in brightly colored paint, and to set guards and towers and barbed wire and trenches along the walls to decorate them. The Berlin Wall was the greatest of these feast walls. The wall was four hundred feet tall and eighteen feet wide, and at the base was a moat twenty feet wide and filled with water and oil that was kept perpetually boiling by means of a sieve. I know this for a fact, I have seen it with my own eyes when I traveled to Berlin, which I did, personally, and on more than one occasion.

On the Establishment of the World Wide Web, 1990:

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee constructed a giant net of woven fibers and cast it over the earth, from which the “web” gets its name.

Summer Block has published essays, short fiction, and poetry in McSweeney's, The Awl, The Rumpus, PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other publications.

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