Friday, March 22, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #69: Two-Year Blogiversary Edition

Yay everybody, today is my two-year blogiversary! Two years ago today, I started Don’t Call Me Marge with my first post, in which I explain my not-actually-very-crippling-at-all fear of fish. At the time, I think I might have been fish-sitting a Black Moor goldfish named Mr. President. That’s the kind with the big buggy eyes.

Like this.

Since it’s Friday, I want to do the Friday Facts you know and love. But since it’s my blogiversary (or blog birthday, I think that’s what I called it last year), I want to do a special commemorative theme. So, I thought I’d do a “this day in history” thing because that covers both facts and anniversaries (sadly, I couldn’t find many facts about anniversaries anywhere, unless you’re interested in knowing that the traditional gift for a seventh wedding anniversary is wool).

Baaaah. ~Gavin Schaefer

On this day in 1457, the first Gutenberg Bible was printed, according to this dodgy website that is probably incorrect. This is my blog and I can cite questionable sources if I want. 

 The Gutenberg Bible is believed to be the first printed book. People back in 1457 had no imagination, and if they did, it was sinful.

The printing revolution Gutenberg started would change the entire world, so much so that his moveable type printing press would be named the greatest invention of all time by a television program I watched when I was in high school. By 1480, there were 110 printers working in cities across Europe, from France to Poland. By 1500, there were 270 such shops across Europe, and they had produced more than 20 million books. By 1600, there were between 150 and 200 million printed books in Europe.

Many people like to point out that moveable type printing was first invented in Korea in the 1200s. While this is true, the Koreans failed to invent the mechanical press that made it possible for European printers in the 15th and 16th centuries to produce up to 3,600 pages a day. Ancient Korean printers rubbed the back of the page by hand to transfer the print. They were able to produce a maximum of 40 pages per day.

On this day in 1621, the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims (sounds like a football team) signed their famous peace treaty with the local Wampanoag people. In the treaty, the Wampanoag agreed to cede ownership of 12,000 acres (49 square kilometers) of their tribal lands to the English. It is extremely likely that the Wampanoag did not understand the European concept of ownership. It was, however, kind of a moot point, because the Wampanoag had recently suffered a decade of war with the neighboring Pequots and Mi’kmaqs, followed by a devastating plague that may have killed up to 90% of their remaining population. So that 12,000 acres was mostly already empty anyway.

Whether or not the first Thanksgiving happened the way they say it did, there is some evidence that the goodwill between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag lasted for at least a couple of decades, until those asshole Puritans arrived and fucked everything all the way up.


On this day in 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed gaming tables as well as the possession of dice and cards. Plenty of things were illegal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, including sleeping during church, “profane” dancing (I would have thought they didn’t have stripper poles in the colonies but I guess I’d be wrong), pulling hair, kissing (WHAT?), riding behind two men (huh?), smoking tobacco, and “abusing your mother-in-law.” On this day in 1638, Puritan midwife and mother of 15 Anne Hutchinson was expelled from said colony in punishment for her religious beliefs and her role in the Antinomian Controversy, which threatened the colony’s leadership. Among other things, Anne professed a belief in mortalism, the doctrine that the soul dies along with the body. She also went around calling herself a prophet, which is never a good idea.

On this day in 1984 (we’re skipping ahead a bit now) charges of satanic ritual abuse were filed against the teachers at McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. This event colored my childhood, as my poor mother spent the rest of the 80s convinced that Satanists were going to kidnap me and use me in their arcane rituals before chopping my head off and selling it to a witch doctor, probably.


The allegations of satanic ritual abuse that took America and other English-speaking countries, including those in Scandinavia, by storm in the 1980s and early 1990s turned out to be a moral panic, a sort of mass hysteria that seizes a population when it feels its status quo is threatened. Another example of a moral panic would be the witch hunts that occurred periodically from the late 15th century to about the mid 18th century, or the post-war McCarthy era.

To make a long story short (and seriously, I just spent like an hour reading about this crap on Wikipedia), satanic ritual abuse was based on the idea that there were as many as one million Satanists in the United States, infiltrating every community, and operating child care facilities in order to gain access to the young children they needed for their Satanic worship rituals. Elements of satanic ritual abuse supposedly included bizarre forms of sexual and ritual abuse in an occult context, the sexual exploitation of children, and the use of children in sacrifices. Ritual torture techniques were allegedly used to control the minds of children, creating drug mules, assassins and sex workers who lived normal lives until someone roused their alternate Satanic personalities with a specific code word. 

Thousands of people recovered memories of satanic ritual abuse in therapy, and the idea gained a lot of credence in the mental health sphere for over a decade, but no real evidence was ever found. In 1990, Peggy McMartin Buckey, administrator of McMartin preschool, was cleared of all charges. Her estranged husband Ray Buckey, who taught at the school, was released after five years of imprisonment and two hung juries. He was never convicted.

It's okay, Mom, you can come out now.