6 Creepy Warnings From History (Are Totally Coming True)
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.
Japan'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.
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.
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.
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.
Dwight 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.
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 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.
A Speech From 1847 Says Global Warming Is Real And We're To Blame
Despite stone-stubborn denial from those who insist that climate change and global warming is bullshit because sometimes it snows in October, global warming is a pretty much a universally-accepted truth by now. However, it wasn't always that way. Folks in the 1800s had bigger fish to fry, like slavery and bears. But in 1847, George Perkins Marsh, a congressman from Vermont, looked around at all the burnt coal, drained swamps, deforestation, and increased average temperatures, and decided it was a bad way for the world to be. So at a meeting with the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Marsh delivered a speech which, when you strip away the weird old-timey language, boiled down to "We're going to die, but in the future."
"Not the usual death, either. More the 'planet ruled entirely by bugs eating our rotting corpses that we're too extinct to properly bury' death."
Here, check out a couple of quotes:
"It is certain that climate itself has in many instances been gradually changed and ameliorated or deteriorated by human action."
"The mean temperature of London is a degree or two higher than that of the surrounding country, and ... the climate of even so thinly a peopled country as Russia was sensibly modified by similar causes."
Because if anything makes working in the permafrosted potato fields fun and enjoyable, it's -11 degree heat versus -13.
This means that back in 1847, Marsh knew that because we were screwing with the land so much, the temperature was going up little by little every year -- and America hadn't even gotten to its own Industrial Revolution yet. That's like predicting that your aunt is going make the Thanksgiving turkey too dry while she's still at the supermarket. Unfortunately, Marsh's words of warning went largely unheeded, despite coming from an extremely educated mouth, and even publishing a book about his findings didn't do much. The idea that Man could overheat an entire planet simply by using up all its natural resources was simply too crazy and out-there for the times.
"Quit whining. Earth's still got lots of water. And she can just rain on herself and make more if she has to."
It wasn't until well over a century later that science started catching up with Marsh's vision, and only several decades after that did much of the world finally utter something to the effect of "Dammit, that guy was right."
A Book Nazis Burned In 1933 Foreshadowed The Holocaust
Not even the most cynical anti-humanist could've predicted that anybody could pull off something as terrible as the Holocaust, but here we are. His name was Heinrich Heine, and all he did was write a play. Let us explain. See, the Nazis weren't only interested in eliminating people; they wanted to get rid of all evidence that any "non-Aryans" even existed. Which brings us to the massive book-burning spectacle of May 10, 1933, in which the nation's college students proved they sure as shit weren't there for the education when they set ablaze any book deemed "un-German" by their new goose-stepping overlords. All in all, over 25,000 books met an ashy end, with students bidding auf wiedersehen to each one through chants like, "I throw into the flames the writings of Remarque, I throw into the flames the writings of Freud" -- which, to be fair, is probably something psychology majors everywhere still do.
Hateful bigot or not, nobody wants to be told how badly they want to fuck their mom.
One of those books, an 1821 Heine play called Almansor, all but screamed that mass genocide was about to happen. In the play, Christian fundamentalists behind the Spanish Inquisition publicly burn the Quran, plus any other book that doesn't support their very un-Christlike way of promoting Christ. These actions prompt one character to prophesy to another, "Dort, wo man Bucher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." Translated, he's telling us, "Where men burn books, they will burn people also in the end."
Between that and this magazine cover, we're beginning to think that Heine had people issues.
He wasn't wrong then -- the Inquisition burned more people than a YouTube commenter -- and he sure as shit wasn't wrong come Holocaust time. And yes, Heine was Jewish, so he definitely had a vested interest in making sure that what happened to his people during the Inquisition didn't happen again. Yet his words of warning, along with just about every other word Heine wrote, went up in smoke.
A 1975 Article About The Internet Warned Of The Potential For Spying Over The Internet
The idea (check that, reality) that our government has legal access to every email, private message, and search engine entry we've ever written unnerves a lot of people. Despite knowing that the FBI doesn't up and arrest people merely because they typed something questionable and disgusting into Google (half the Cracked staff is probably on some kind of watch list), the paranoia that they could (and would) runs deep. But this is nothing new; we've had people fretting about the potential for Internet spy games since the 1970s.
"Shhh, not too loud. He'll hear us."
In 1975, the Internet was but a couple years old, still known as ARPANET, and mainly a commercial/industrial tool (which is a shame, because we could have had some great fanfiction mashups from a 1975 version of Tumblr). But writer Tad Szulc saw the potential for ARPANET to be something more ... Bond-esque. In the December edition of Washington Monthly, Szulc spelled out why he thought ARPANET would spell the end of privacy for all who dared exist, both online and off:
"The most significant thing about ARPANET is that it permits the instant connection of computers of different types ... allowing these computers to 'talk to each other' considered a major technological breakthrough. The question that goes on haunting civil libertarians is whether ARPANET can be used for domestic intelligence by being hooked into CIA, FBI, military intelligence, White House, or other computer systems ... the question lingers: Could the next Nixon order ARPANET to be turned into a police instrument, instantly telling every government agency everything there is to be known about every American citizen whose name has been recorded somewhere?"
The next Nixon being some goober football player hardly mattered -- the machines were already our Forever Presidents.
The guv'ment didn't need to wait ten Windows to start virtually looking through ours. They didn't even need to wait for ONE Window; they were pulling this shit from the start. Take a look at this map of 1975-era ARPANET:
And you thought Verizon's coverage was a nightmare.
See the circle? That's the NSA, hooked up and ready to pounce in case somebody over at UCSD or TYMSHARE tried anything screwy. And now, because nobody bothered to heed Szulc's warnings, the NSA, FBI, and even your local beat cops are on the cyber-prowl, eyeballing every Tom, Dick, and HelloKitty69 to make sure they're not running a criminal empire from their perma-dark bedrooms.
Sure, we could've listened to Szulc and refused to allow the Internet into our homes, thus guaranteeing us the privacy and anonymity we cherish so dearly. But that would mean having to leave the house to forage for porn, so clearly we made the right choice.
A Pilot Writes An Article About Being Locked Out Of The Cockpit, Right Before It Actually Happened
It's hard to think of any aspect of the airline industry that didn't change after September 11, 2001. We've had a huge uptick in airport security, but one thing you may not have known is that we stepped things up on airplanes themselves as well. Cockpit doors now lock from the inside. This is presumably so that the terrorists (and really annoying children) can't get in, but it has unfortunately already been used tragically.
It's hard to keep terror locked out when terror's the one doing the locking.
On March 24, 2015, the secretly suicidal co-pilot of a Germanwings A320, Andreas Lubitz, hijacked his own plane. He did so by convincing his copilot, Patrick Sonderheimer, to go to the bathroom (which must have been a great conversation) and utilizing this locking cockpit. Sonderheimer attempted to break open the thick, bulletproof door while screaming "Open the damn door!" to no avail. Lubitz instead put the plane into a descent and crashed it into the French Alps, instantly killing everyone and himself, just as planned.
Where this gets chilling is that about two months prior to this incident, a fellow pilot named Jan Cochret had a public premonition that the well-intentioned security system could ultimately prove worse for the pilot than any bad guy. In a column for Piloot En Vliegtuig (Pilot And Plane) magazine, Cochret openly worried that the wrong copilot could exploit the system and doom himself and his passengers some day. As he put it, "I seriously wonder who's sitting next to me ... I hope I never find myself in the situation where I go to the toilet and return to find a cockpit door that won't open."
Even if you had just taken a shit, if this happens, trust us: You're shitting your pants.
He couldn't have been more right on the money if he were on the plane itself. But while many of us would react to discovering mutant psychic abilities by hitting the casino, buying a lottery ticket, or putting all our money on the right bobtail nag, Cochret merely expressed sadness. As he wrote on his Facebook page, "Inmiddels is duidelijk dat dit verschrikkelijke verhaal werkelijkheid geworden is." Facebook's auto-translate changes that to "Today it is clear that this terrible story reality is" which, after doing Facebook's job for it, basically says "I was right, but goddammit, I didn't want to be."
What do Chuck Norris, Liam Neeson in Taken, and the Dos Equis guy have in common? They're all losers compared to some of the actual badasses from history whom you know nothing about. Come out to the UCB Sunset for another LIVE podcast, April 9th at 7:00 p.m., where Jack O'Brien, Michael Swaim, and more will get together for an epic competition to find out who was the most hardcore tough guy or tough gal unfairly relegated to the footnotes of history. Get your tickets here!
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They say if you don't observe history, you're doomed to repeat it. But it's hard to observe what they don't tell you about. See what we mean in 6 Horrifying Facts That Get Left Out Of History and 5 Real-Life Horror Movies Deleted from Your History Books.
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