Sunday, August 21, 2016

Vacation snapshot


After her vacation, Mrs. Smythe's home life was never the same again.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

I salute the Emperor. Long live the emperor!

 In what other city would a harmless madman who supposed himself emperor of the two Americas have been so fostered and encouraged? Where else would even the people of the streets have respected the poor soul's illusion? Where else would bankers and merchants have received his visits, cashed his cheques, and submitted to his small assessments? Where else would he have been suffered to attend and address the exhibition days of schools and colleges? Where else, in God's green earth, have taken his pick of restaurants, ransacked the bill of fare, and departed scatheless? - Robert Louis Stevenson

Joshua Norton was a businessman in San Francisco in the 1800s. In the 1840s, just before the Gold Rush, he tried to corner the market on rice and failed. He went from being very wealthy to being destitute overnight and the experience completely shattered his reason.

A couple of months after this event, he put on a formal admiral's uniform, complete with gold braid and epaulets and strode in to the office of the newspaper. He handed the editor a large, official looking proclamation which stated in quite formal language that, due to popular demand, he hereby declared himself Emperor Norton I of San Francisco, California, and Mexico, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. He bade all his subjects show him loyalty and the other courtesies due a person of such eminent stature.

... At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.  - NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.

The editor, with a rich sense of humor, decided to publish the proclamation on the front page of the newspaper, in all seriousness. The citizens of San Francisco, being what they are, immediately decided that this sounded like a good idea and, by unanimous acclamation, accepted Norton as their Emperor. It is undoubtedly the only time in history they ever had an unanimous vote on anything.

(From the pictures of Emperor Norton, it is immediately apparent that this guy has gone around the bend and ain't coming back. His eyes pointed in different directions, and neither one quite caught straight ahead. His uniform was formal to the point of almost gaudy and, at the same time, it was quite apparent that he and soap were not of regular acquaintance.)



He reigned for about forty years. During that time he ate in all of the finest restaurants and slept in the finest hotels for free -- because he was the Emperor. He had three seats permanently reserved in the front row of the San Francisco opera house -- one for him, and one each for his two dogs. Twice a year he would review the police and fire departments as they paraded by, and then he would make a grand speech to the assembled crowds. He printed his own money, which was accepted in business establishments around San Francisco as legal tender. When bicycles first came out, they got him a bicycle, too, and he looked all the more daft because of it.

When one of his dogs died, 10,000 people turned out for the funeral to console their grief-stricken emperor. When the Civil War rolled around, he graciously offered his alliance and military support to Abraham Lincoln, who politely declined.

Make no mistake about it, the Emperor Norton was as good a loony as you have ever run across and I can't help feeling that a man who was that intelligent must have had some idea of just how completely nuts he really was.

Now here's the problem. During his reign as Emperor, Norton came up with three major ideas:

1) He called upon the other leaders of the world to join him in forming a League of Nations where disputes between nations could be resolved peacefully.

2) He suggested that parts of San Francisco Bay be filled in to make more room to build.

3) He proposed that a suspension-span bridge be built across the spot where the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge stands now. He even laid out a complete design that looks remarkably close to the bridge that was built sixty years after he died. He correctly predicted that only a suspension span bridge would have the strength to span such a large stretch, and the flexibility to stand up under the extreme stress which would be placed on such a structure. He did this at a time when the only suspension bridges ever built were rope bridges in remote parts of Africa.



Of course, when he proposed these ideas, the response was long and uproarious laughter -- the Emperor was up to his old tricks again. In time, all of his ideas became reality.

At the time, no one believed him.

Also, please check out the status of the campaign to rename the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge after our beloved majesty, Emperor Norton.



And so it goes

Sunday, August 7, 2016

At least they don't carry Mad Cow Disease

Once again, New York City has lucked out and has not been plagued, as it has been in the past, with a large number of West Nile Virus cases this summer. Unfortunately, soon the US may be inundated with Zika.  The Zika virus (spread by the infected Aedes species mosquito, the cockroach of the mosquitos, the same mosquito that spreads both the dengue and chikungunya viruses,) is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes) but usuualy there are little to no symptoms. Unfortunately the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean and is thought to be heading towards the US. (There have been more cases of Zika that Mad Cow Disease in the US this year.)




 ACME
takes some pride in this and once again we would like to publish this importance health update:



Mosquitoes can not cause spread the Ebola but do carry the Zika virii. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called Microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika. Contrary to the examples of Microcephaly you see in the newspaper every day — such as Schlitzie and Zippy the Pinhead - microcephaly is a severe condition whose victims would be less likely to wear yellow pajamas with large buttons or performing unwillingly in the circus than to have seizures and hearing loss.



Zika virus is easy to avoid: like most viruses, it's very small, very slow, and not especially bright. Unfortunately, it's often carried by mosquitoes that are bigger, faster, and fiendishly clever.

It's not always easy to discern whether or not a given mosquito is carrying the Zika virus, so the prudent move is to avoid all mosquitoes.



This may be unfair to innocent mosquitoes who mean you no harm--the so-called "moderate" mosquitoes - but political niceties must be subordinated to threats to your survival.



It's important to remember that mosquitoes are masters of disguise. With a little makeup or a fancy hat, any mosquito can take on the appearance of several other species. They cannot, however, conceal their stingers.

Avoid all insects with stingers. If you encounter one that claims its stinger is merely a golf-club wedged into its rectum, do not believe it: insects don't golf.



Do not open your doors or windows to strangers before ascertaining whether or not they're mosquitoes. If they acknowledge being mosquitoes but deny carrying the Zika virus, do not trust them. Some mosquitoes may even offer to show you a doctor's certificate, but such evidence is meaningless: they may have picked up Zika virus in the time elapsed since their doctor tested them.

Be wary of delivery men, plumbers, electricians, and cable guys with stingers trailing from their jumpsuits.



And so it goes.