Jut a coincidence? 

A Terrifyingly Accurate Prediction by Edgar Allan Poe

 

In 1838, future horror-god Edgar Allan Poe released a book called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, his only full novel. The book was such a bomb that Poe eventually agreed with his critics that it was “a very silly book”  (yet still good enough to inspire  heavyweights like Jules Verne and Herman Melville to write Moby Dick and An Antarctic Mystery).

Where it Gets Weird:

Poe did a Blair Witch thing with his novel, which claimed to be based on true events.  This turned out to be a half-truth: The real life events simply had not happened yet.

One scene in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket visits a whaling ship lost at sea, taking with it all but four crewmen. Out of food, the men drew lots to see who would be eaten, the unfortunate decision landing on a young cabin boy named Richard Parker.

Forty-six years later, there was an actual disaster at sea involving the Mignonette. It became famous due to the legal consequences of some gruesome events on board, specifically the way the men drew lots and decided to eat their cabin boy...

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

...who was named Richard Parker.

The bizarre story was discovered decades later by Nigel Parker,  a distant cousin of the Richard Parker who got eaten. You can only imagine what the heck went through his mind when he stumbled upon the connection.

And that would go down as the freakiest unintentional prediction of future events in a work of fiction, if it were not completely blown away by...

 

 

Morgan Robertson Writes About the Titanic... 14 Years Early


 

A hundred years before James Cameron turned out his oscar winner, American author Morgan Robertson wrote a little book called ‘Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan,  about the sinking of an "unsinkable" ocean liner. When you see the cover, you figure you're pretty clearly looking at a fictionalized version of the Titanic story.

No surprise there; it's a story that's been told over and over (there were 13 Titanic movies before Cameron's, including one by the Nazis) but Robertson's book was first.

 

Where it Gets Weird:

He was so eager to be first, apparently, that he didn't bother to wait for the Titanic to actually sink before writing about it. The Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898, 14 years before RMS Titanic was even finished being  built.

 

The similarities between Robertson's work and the Titanic disaster are so astounding that one has to imagine if White Star Line built Titanic to Robertson's specs as a dare. The Titan was described as "the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men," "equal to that of a first class hotel," and, of course, "unsinkable".

Both ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, "around midnight." Sound like enough to keep you up at night? Maybe that's why Robertson republished the book in 1912 just in case enough people didn't know that he wrote it.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

While the novel does bear some curious coincidences with the Titanic disaster, there are quite a few things that Robertson got flat wrong. For one, the Titanic did not crash into an iceberg "400 miles from Newfoundland" at 25 knots. It crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots.

Wait, what? That's one hell of a lucky guess!

But maybe the weirdest thing about Titan were points that had nothing to do with the story, but check out after numerous inquires and expeditions to the Titanic wreck site.

For one, both the Titan and the Titanic had too few lifeboats to accommodate every passenger on board; the Titan carrying "as few as the law allowed." While Robertson decided to be generous and include four lifeboats more on his ship than Titanic, it's an odd point to bring up when you consider that lifeboats had nothing to do with the story. When Titan hit the iceberg (starboard bow, naturally), the ship sank immediately, making the point made about lifeboats inconsequential.

It'd be like HAL 9000 addressing the danger posed by O-rings at low temperature decades before the Challenger disaster.

 

The Civil War Keeps Finding Wilmer McLean

When the American Civil War erupted in 1861, Wilmer McLean of Virginia was too old for war fighting. Unfortunately, he also happened to live smack dab on the road between Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, the respective capitals of the Union and Confederacy.

The first battle of the Civil War pretty much happened at this guy's place.  The Battle of Bull Run,  broke out on July 21, 1861 near Manassas, Virginia--McLean's hometown. Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard needed a building to serve as headquarters for his staff and many initials, and when he saw Wilmer McLean's cozy house, he camped there.

 

This immediately subjected the building to artillery fire, and one cannonball somehow found its way down the poor guys chimney.  The entire building should have gone up like the Death Star, yet miraculously no one was hurt.

 



Where it Gets Weird:

But, hey, an insane amount of fighting occurred along that road. A lot of people between Richmond and DC could say a battle happened on their front lawn. And, after this narrow escape with the Reaper in his very own home, McLean figured that moving his family out of No Man's Land would be a smart bet.

However, the man took so long to skip town that when 1862 rolled around, a battle nearly twice as large and four times as bloody exploded just outside his front door again—the Second Battle of Bull Run.  After dodging this second bullet the size of Civil War battlefield, McLean finally sold and moved his family as far away as he could afford.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

When Wilmer settled on a cottage in Clover Hill, Virginia, the town that later changed its name to Appomattox Court House. By 1865, Robert E. Lee's "invincible" Army of North Virginia was too busy having the crap kicked out of it by General Ulysses S. Grant of the Union Army to defend Richmond. So after abandoning their capital, Lee's sorry-excuse-for-an-army was chased by Grant all across Virginia to... Appomattox Court House.

On April 9, 1865, General Lee officially surrendered  to Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. The site for his surrender: the parlor of Wilmer McLean's new home.

 

Once the two armies left (and helped themselves to some furniture as souvenirs), the now-bankrupt McLean remarked: "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor," which is probably the classiest way a man can handle the single most bad-luck in American history.

Should've just moved to Gettysburg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ohio is Full of Astronauts

Quick: What's special about Ohio? Nothing? Well, hold on ….

 

The first two aviators in both Ohioan and American history were Orville and Wilbur Wright, who successfully demonstrated the world’s first airplane in 1903. Yeah, it only flew for 12 seconds, but at least it got them out of Ohio and onto the sandy beaches of North Carolina to test it. Once it landed, aviation was born.

 

So Ohioans helped mankind take to the skies. So what was the next step?

 

Well, 59 years later, another Ohioan heard that the U.S. government was shooting people into space. Since this offered him a chance to get further away from Ohio than any aircraft, he replied "Sign me up." Despite lacking the necessary college requirements, NASA figured "what the hell... he's from Ohio" and let him go. On February 20, 1962, he became the first American shot into orbit. His name is John Glenn. 

 

First in flight, first into orbit, and Ohio was two for two.

 

Where it Gets Weird:

So the Wright Brothers and John Glenn all came from the same state. Big whoop, right? The odds of that happening are like 1:48 (excluding Hawaii, Alaska, and the rest of the freakin' planet). But then John F. Kennedy vowed to land an American on the Moon by the decade's end and this promise was fulfilled on July 20, 1969 by Neil Armstrong. Want to guess what state Neil Armstrong was from?

 

                                                                                    Ohio, the "I'm outta here" state.

 

First in flight, orbit and the moon--Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. And so ends the story of Ohio's great aviation history...

 

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

Oh, wait, no. The state produced another 22 freaking astronauts along the way. The last one you probably heard of was Jim Lovell. Seriously, NASA even has a thing on its website  practically apologizing for the fact that a state containing just 3% of America's population so utterly dominates the frontiers of human flight.


America's Freak Luck During the Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway may be remembered as one of the most spectacular naval battles in history and one of the huge turning points in the Pacific theater, but it started out as a pure fiasco for the Americans.

Despite going into battle with most of Japan's game plan in their pocket thanks to American codebreakers/ Bothan spies, the U.S. Navy had little to show for it in the early hours of June 4, 1942. Just about every aircraft that took on the Japanese that day was destroyed, and all without delivering any serious damage. In short, the Battle of Midway started off like the Battle of Endor, only with every fighter in the Rebel Fleet crashing into the Death Star's deflector shield

Where it Gets Weird:

There was one squadron of American dive bombers lead by Lieutenant Commander C. Wade McClusky, Jr.  that got lost on the way to the battle. So lost that they entirely missed out on the initial bloodbath that got all of their fellow planes killed. Nearly out of fuel and flying blind in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, commander McClusky nevertheless put his enormous balls to the walls and kept searching for the real life Imperial Fleet. 

His squadron started dropping like flies until, in an act of sheer luck that would make even J.K. Rowling roll her eyes, McClusky stumbled across a Japanese destroyer. Once he lifted his eyes to scan the horizon, he saw the Rising Sun of the Imperial Japanese Fleet staring back at him and realized, "Holy Cow! Just the enemy navy I was looking for!" Of course, judging by what had been happening prior to that, this meant certain death.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

While finding the ships at all was luck, by some kind of ridiculous freak luck McClusky's squadron arrived at the precise moment when all three Japanese carriers were reloading and rearming their aircraft.

In a matter of minutes,  Japanese fleet carriers Kaga, Akagi, and Soryu--along with all their airplanes--were destroyed in an attack that cost the Imperial Navy some of its finest sailors and pilots. The fourth carrier Hiryu was sunk in a counterattack the next day, effectively wiping out the same Strike Force  that made up the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This winning of the lottery twice in the same day dealt the Japanese Navy's first defeat in almost 300 years, and a lopsided victory for the Americans that the Imperials never recovered from.

It'd be like this happening four times, and all in one battle.

 

The July Fourth Curse

For those of you who don't keep up with America, July Fourth is a big thing here because that's the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, effectively creating the U.S. (OK, in reality the Declaration was likely signed on a later date  and in intervals, but keeping it to just the one day saves a lot on fireworks).

So it's one of those "more ironic than weird" coincidences that one of the founding fathers and second President of the United States, John Adams, met his maker on July 4, 1826: 50 years to the day after America was born.

Where it Gets Weird:

Right before John Adams died, he muttered, "Thomas Jefferson survives," since the two enjoyed a bit of a bromance in the twilight of their lives (Jefferson of course taking the White House right after Adams).

 

However, little did the Adams's (or the country) know, Jefferson had just died a few hours prior, also on the fiftieth anniversary of American independence.

We admit that having just one of these men die on July 4, 1826 as opposed to any of the 18,261 other days after signing the Declaration is kinda weird, but having both these men die on this day?

 

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

So, two of the nation's first three presidents died on the same day. So by our calculations, it'd be like a thousand presidents before you'd have another die on the Fourth of July.

Or, you know, two. Our fifth President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831. Yep, three of our first five Presidents died on Independence Day.

While we're on the July 4th thing, can we also throw in the Battle of Gettysburg,  the largest and most pivotal battle in the Civil War, a day that determined the fate of the nation Adams and Jefferson helped create? It ended on July 4, 1863.

And that victory was crucial for the Union forces because, in a completely unrelated battle, Union General Ulysses S. Grant's six-month campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi finally ended in the city's unconditional surrender.

Also on July Fourth.

 

By the way, we said July Fourth was a big deal here, that may not go for places like Vicksburg, who didn't celebrate it as a holiday until after World War II. Possibly because they were still bitter over the Civil War thing, or because they're just worried that the vengeful July 4 spirit will return to take out another president.

 

 

 

 

Did you know there were like three different books about gawky, dark-haired 12-year-olds going to wizard school before Harry Potter? Two separate inventors actually filed patents for the telephone on the exact same day.


Just a coincidence????

 

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012