History is full of spots when people should have easily seen what was coming -- like when we elected a guy who played sultry saxophone music on talk shows, only to later see him embroiled in a sex scandal. Hindsight is always 20/20, but sometimes the foresight is pretty much 20/20 too, and we might want to start doing a better job with that. Here are some warnings we probably should have heeded earlier on.
6Japan's Coastline Is Dotted With Ancient Stone Tablets Inscribed With Tsunami Warnings
A fun way to piss off Californians is to tell them that their state is going to break off into the sea. But that's pretty much exactly what happened to Japan long, long ago. The archipelago sits smack-dab in the middle of the Ring of Fire, the incredibly unstable border of the Pacific Ocean whose main hobby is earthquakes all the damn time. Unfortunately for Japan, earthquakes plus ocean tends to equal lots of tsunamis.
Gringer / Wiki Commons
I went drown, drown, drown, and the waves went higher.
Japan's coastline-dwelling citizens have centuries of experience in the water-dodging field, including where best to lay camp if they don't want to wake up drowned one morning. Their conclusion: Build everything as high up as fucking possible. Through trial and fatal error (in particular, the 1896 Sanriku tsunami, which killed 22,000 people), they learned where tsunamis hit and how high up the waves go. Then, they erected stone slabs everywhere -- some of them six centuries old and over ten feet tall -- wrote warnings to not build anything below them, and hoped future generations would remember to read the blasted things.
T. Kisimoto / Wiki Commons
It's the analog version of "I agree, I have read the terms and conditions."
The above stone, erected roughly a century ago near the tiny village of Aneyoshi, reads: "High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point." Aneyoshi heeded its warning and built their eleven houses even higher than the stone recommended. Each one survived the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, as did most of their 34 residents.
Ko Sasaki/The New York Times
It's easy to account for an entire town when a lone father and son are six percent of them.
Unfortunately, the rest of the coast (population: way more than 34) built their homes below the rocks. The concrete seawalls built after the 1960 Valdivia tsunami worked fine for them ... until Tohoku, when 120-foot waves stepped right over the 30-foot walls and killed 29,000 people. Japan's solution? Build bigger seawalls, this time 40 feet tall, while their ancestors who carved those stones utter endless profanities from beyond the grave.
5Dwight Eisenhower Predicted Holocaust Denial
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but if that opinion is "the Holocaust didn't happen," the rest of the world is entitled to mock its owner, shun them, and stay further away from them than we would a pack of rabid bats. Children who deny eating cookies before dinner, while they're eating the cookies, have more credibility.
Shortly after invading Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, General Dwight Eisenhower and his troops took a field trip to see exactly what was inside these infamous "concentration camps" -- and by that, we mean only Eisenhower dared venture inside. Everyone had an idea of the nightmarish piles of death that awaited them, and just about everybody chickened out of actually seeing it. No less a badass than George Patton refused to enter the camps out of fear that he would be sick.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
When a guy nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" backs away from seeing exactly that, you know shit's serious.
Eisenhower, however, knew he had to go in. He knew enough about people that he didn't put it past them to dismiss the systematic murder of 11 million minorities as exaggeration at best and pure hokum at worst. We know this because the man said so himself: "I made the visit [to Gotha] deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"
He then immediately rang up both Washington, D.C. and London, imploring them to send over photographers, reporters, editors, representatives, and anyone else who could record these atrocities firsthand immediately, so that no bigot could dismiss them in the name of "healthy skepticism" later on. Presumably, he also recommended whoever come eat before they get there, lest they word-that-rhymes-with-comet upon seeing their first horrifying pile of death.
And how was Eisenhower thanked? Apparently, some former Holocaust deniers now say there was a Holocaust, but one perpetrated by Eisenhower himself.
They needed something new to do after decades of calling black people the real racists.