Happy Cakeday Charlie Chaplin!

On this day in 1889, the popluar silent movie star and inventor of the Hitler Moustache, Charlie Chaplin was born in London, England.

Born into extreme poverty, Chaplin was twice sent to the Workhouse before the age of 9, enduring the typically appalling treatment meted out to poor children in the Victorian era.  Victorian England is notable for raising child abuse to the level of artform, sending children as young as five years of age into mines and up chimneys. Punishment for children routinely ended with the victim requiring medical treatment, and it was not uncommon for a child simply to die from the wounds inflicted by the stern disciplinarians of the era.

Somehow negotiating the near certain death that the Victorian world offered the youngster, Chaplin made it out of England alive and quickly graduated to international stardom. Ironically, Chaplin made his fortune playing ‘The Tramp’, a caricature of the poverty he had seen back in his native England.

Perhaps Chaplin’s most famous role was when he played the part of Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania, a thinly disguised parody of the massively popular dictator (at the time), Furher of NAZI Germany, and lover of German Shepherds, Adolf Hitler. This was rumored at the time to be Chaplin’s way of retaliating against Hitler, who Chaplin felt had stolen the whole ‘little moustache’ idea.

It’s likely that Hitler might have wanted to have a few words with Chaplin, had Germany won the war, so it was fortunate for the Little Tramp that Hitler ended up shooting himself in the head some time in 1945. Chaplin being Jewish most likely wouldn’t have gone down too well with Adolf either.

Chaplin was quoted as saying, “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” At the time this was heartfelt and meaningful. Today, however, this sort of quote makes up 50% of the posts on social media, and now it just makes people grind their teeth.

Hitler stole Chaplin’s moustache idea. Chaplin responded by stealing Hitler’s Lunatic in an Army Uniform schtick.

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Happy Birthday Dear Glorious Leader Of The DPRK! (Deceased)

On this day in 1912 the world celebrated the birth of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea first Glorious Dictator, Kim Il Sung… probably.

North Korea is notoriously imaginative when it comes to what constitutes a fact, so when it’s claimed Kim Il Sung was born on April 15th 1912, you should take that information with a grain of salt the size of the calcium deposit on the back of Kim Il Sung’s neck.

At the age of 14, when most kids in the West were doing little more than trying to keep their hormones in check,  Kim was forming the ‘Down With Imperialism Union’, an organisation tasked with fighting both Japanese imperialism and destroying the International Capitalist Conspiracy.

Again, pinch of salt, but that’s what we’re told so… hey… just passing along the info, for what it’s worth.

Joining the resistance against the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1935, Kim Il Sung would conduct hit and run raids against the invaders,  eventually fleeing into the Soviet Union when things went south. He would later reach the rank of Major in the Red Army.

Returning to Korea in 1945,  following the defeat of the Japanese, Kim rose to become leader of North Korea by 1946, a task made easier by the fact he had the Soviet Union backing him for the position of Top Dog.

Uneasy at Kim’s cosy relationship with the Soviet Union, the southern portion of the Korean peninsula would declare its independence from the north in 1948. Kim Il Sung took this turn of events entirely in his stride, and showing there were no hard feelings he invaded the south in 1950, sparking off The Korean War.

The Korean War was perhaps the last true mobilization of the United Nations into an effective fighting force, tasking the Democratic nations with expelling the Soviet backed North Koreans from the south of the peninsula. This would in turn lead to General McArthur, the gung-ho American General in charge of Allied forces, to demand the release of nuclear weapons to stop the advance of International Communism.

Fortunately the American government was at least partially more sane than McArthur, and rather than giving the mirrored-sunglasses-wearing cowboy nuclear weapons to play with, decided to replace him with someone more in touch with reality.

Kim’s forces were eventually joined by the Chinese, and following appalling losses on the communist side an uneasy truce was declared right back where the original demarcation line had been… the 38th Parallel.  So that was a worthwhile war, wasn’t it?

North Korea was left economically destitute following the Korean War, and Kim instituted a series of ineffectual Glorious Five Year Plans in order to restore North Korea to the status of Industrialized Nation. Unfortunately these plans succeeded in working a whole bunch of North Koreans to death and not a whole lot else.

Kim’s legacy was to initiate a line of father-son dictatorships, consistent in their ability to maintain North Korea as the worst place to live in the history of forever.

Death camps, matching grey uniforms for civilians, the bicycle as the pinnacle of transportation, starvation, bizarre haircuts, and more political backstabbing in a week than in 5 seasons of Game of Thrones, these are the things that North Korea has come to be known for,

Currently there are over 500 statues of Kim Il Sung in North Korea, so no civilian has to travel far to see a real life representation of the asshat who screwed their country over. This is fortunate, because you can’t get spare parts for bicycles in North Korea, so walking is the primary method of getting around.

It is possible to travel to North Korea as a tourist, however you may be expected to read a denunciation of the United States on camera. No, really.

Each year thousands of North Koreans flock to see giant statues of the guy who starved their relatives to death.

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Disagreement Leads to Murder!

 On this day in 1865, as he sat in the Presidential Booth at the Ford Theatre in Washington DC, Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, was shot in the back of the head by famous assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Booth had been angered by a recent speech of Lincoln’s, in which the President had suggested that it might be a pretty good idea to let the black folks have a vote too, what with them being all free and suchlike. This was a sentiment with which Booth strongly disagreed, and as is the norm in polite society, he decided blowing the President’s head off his shoulders would show the lanky doofus that giving blacks the vote was unacceptable.

The problem presented to Booth was that, as is the norm for important folks, Lincoln had muscle backing him up in the form of a personal bodyguard.

Fortunately for Booth, the President’s bodyguard was a certain John Parker, and history tells us that Parker saw the job of protecting the President’s life as something he did when he wasn’t drinking. Unfortunately for Lincoln, it just so happened that on the night of his assassination John Parker was next door in the pub, knocking back the beers rather than keeping a keen lookout for potential killers of the guy he was being paid to keep alive.

Seizing this window of opportunity, Booth sidled casually up behind Lincoln, past the absent guards, and planted a bullet right in the back of Abe’s head as the soon to be former President sat watching Our American Cousin.

Booth then sauntered back out of the theatre and off into the night, presumably past the bar John Parker was boozing in.

If Booth’s plan for shooting Lincoln in the head had been one of changing the President’s mind about granting voting rights to the freed slaves then, not surprisingly, this plan failed. Lincoln died the next day.

While Booth had admittedly executed his plan flawlessly, it seems he should have put more thought into the actual repercussions of the plan. While it’s all very well killing someone with whom you strongly disagree, the chances of them later coming round to your way of thinking are practically zero.

Tracked down to a farm in northern Virginia, Booth was cornered by Union soldiers, shot in the neck, set on fire, paralysed, and finally died from the extent of his injuries.

In a final twist, it would later be clamed that Booth had actually escaped capture, and that a lookalike had in fact been killed in his place. Booth, meanwhile, had retired to Texas under the assumed name of ‘John St Helen’,  There, in the early 1900’s, he would make a deathbed confession regarding his true identity.

In 1907 the writer Finis L. Bates would acquire Booth/St Helen’s mummified body, stick it in a box, and ride around the country exhibiting the corpse for all to see, like some kind of grotesque P.T. Barnum freakshow.

America!

Despite being a lanky 6′ 4″, Lincoln felt Presidents should be much taller, and took to wearing a giant hat. 

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Helsinki’s Belsinkis, The Hun Is At It Again!

On this day in 1918, during what would come to be known as The War to End all Wars*, German forces captured the city of Helsingfors (now Helsinki) from the Red Guard, a military force still loyal to the Russian Bolsheviks. Finland had only been an Independent state for a few months, taking advantage of the revolution in Russia to create its own, sovereign nation.

Supreme Head Honcho and Chief Big Cheese of the Imperial German Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm II,  ordered an invasion of the newly created Finnish state both to support anti-Bolshevik forces under Baron Karl Gustav Mannerheim, and to bring the short-lived Finnish Civil War to a rapid conclusion. This goal was officially attained on 15th May, 1918, though no actual peace treaty or surrender was signed.  It’s always a good idea to not have the defeated party sign a surrender. That could NEVER come back and bite you on the ass.

* A stupendously optimistic thing to call World War ONE.

Ecstatic Finnish locals ‘Raise the Roof’ in support of their German liberators. 

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B-52s Bomb Stone Age Country Back To… Stone Age.

On this day in 1972, American B52 Bombers for the first time dropped ordnance on North Vietnam. Although initially denying the operation, the United States government later confirmed that B-52s had targeted AA defences around 145 miles north of the DMZ.  The SAM sites were described by U.S. officials as “…the most sophisticated air defence systems in the history of air warfare”

Presumably these air defences were not manufactured locally, given Vietnamese military technology had only recently attained the level of ‘matching black pyjamas’  for their armed forces. Suspicion was directed towards the Soviet Union regarding the supply of SAM missile batteries, compounded by the fact that 17,000 Soviet ‘missile technicians’ coincidentally happened to be vacationing in North Vietnam at the time.

Vietnam. The war voted Best Soundtrack by fans of wars. 

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Norway? More like No way! … amirite?!?

On this day in 1940, the despicable Nazi horde commenced its invasion of Norway and Denmark. This invasion was deemed necessary by the German High Command for several reasons, including securing ore shipments for the Reich, limiting Allied naval operations in the Baltic, and increasing German military presence in the North Sea. Most of all, though, the Germans invaded Norway and Denmark because that’s the kind of shit the Nazis were notorious for doing. Even if there had been no strategic reason for it you can bet the Germans would have gone ahead and invaded anyway.

German Soldiers perform their infamous Stampy March in Bergen, Norway. Dicks.

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