Murphy’s law is the secret foundations of the universe. You can always trust it to occur, just like death and taxes, and it will often find a way to involve one or both of them in a thoroughly comic fashion.
The general notion is that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If you have a dentist appointment that afternoon, you’re going to get a flat tire. If you have a spare tire in your trunk, you’re not going to have a jack. If a friendly driver stops and offers you his, it will turn out that he’s a serial killer. You get the idea.
The law supposedly gets its name from Edward Murphy, an aerospace engineer who was trying to determine how much stress the human body could withstand during rapid deceleration. His experiments took place between 1948 and 1949, and as you might guess, constant screw-ups occurred.
The main incident involved a rocket sled and a chimpanzee. Murphy ordered his assistant to attach strain gauges to the chimp’s harness, so he could measure the g-force that was exerted on them. The sensors did not activate for some reason, and it turned out that they had been wired backwards. Murphy was absolutely furious, and declared “If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” This statement was eventually simplified down to its current form.
Unfortunately, there is no way to protect yourself from Murphy’s Law. No matter how well you prepare, and how many contingency plans you set up, the universe will find a way to screw you. To put it simply, the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlights of an oncoming train.
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Posted in Bad Mojo on February 23, 2009|
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For one hundred and forty-one years, American presidents who were elected in years ending in a zero died while they were in office, without exception. Statistically speaking, this is something of an anomaly. If the nation’s leaders were to die just as frequently when elected in other years, it could probably be shrugged away, but the only example of this happening is Zachary Taylor, who died of acute gastroenteritis. Everyone else lived through their term (or terms), though some undoubtedly felt like they had been shot in the back a few times.
This bad mojo can supposedly be traced back to Tecumseh, chief of the Shawnee people. When he was defeated in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, he reportedly made the following curse: “Harrison will die, I tell you, and after him, every Great Chief chosen every 20 years thereafter will die. And when each one dies, let everyone remember the death of my people.” The American soldiers just laughed at his primitive superstition, but the mysterious supernatural powers set in motion by the fabled leader would play out over the next century and a half as follows:
1840 – William Henry Harrison – Died of Pneumonia
1860 – Abraham Lincoln – Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth
1880 – James Garfield – Assassinated by Charles Guiteau
1900 – William McKinley – Shot by Leon Czolgosz
1920 – Warring G. Harding – Died from a Heart Attack
1940 – Franklin Roosevelt – Died of Cerebral Hemorrhage
1960 – John F. Kennedy – Assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, CIA, Mobsters, Rosicrucians, The Illuminati, and Joe DiMaggio
The fated deaths would last until 1981, and the election of Ronald Reagan. The Republican president would experience an assassination attempt at the hands of John Hinkley, Jr. (who thought it was a really great way to impress Jodie Foster), but managed to successfully survive the attack, thus bringing an end to one of the longest curses in American history.
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Posted in Bad Mojo, tagged The Scottish Play on December 15, 2008|
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Macbeth is a classic tale of a doomed king that has been performed by acting troupes for centuries. It remains one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, though theatrical productions have long been said to be plagued by accidents. There were a lot of powdered-wig related calamities in the olden days. This was supposedly due to the inclusion of actual witchcraft in the play, more specifically the “Double-double, toil and trouble” routine which clued in astute viewers towards the many despicable uses of eye of newt and blind worm’s sting.
It was thus a common superstition that anyone foolish enough to say the name ‘Macbeth’ would have horrible tragedy befall them. Such misfortune could theoretically be prevented by spitting over one’s left shoulder, twisting the person’s nose, or speaking a sentence from one of Shakespeare’s other plays. “If we shadows have offended…” was generally considered a suitable choice, but “He will give the Devil his due” was not a good idea. The actor had already drawn the attention of Old Scratch, and didn’t want to give the nasty fellow any ideas.
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Chain letters are a common form of written superstition that offer great rewards (or great misery) to the reader, all depending on whether or not he or she is willing to break the chain. If the reader is willing to do this, then he has the reward of knowing that he possesses above-average intelligence. If he is not, then he has the misery of realizing that he’s that annoying guy that everyone hates who sends out chain letters. They have been encountered by millions of people in a countless variety of forms over the years, though usually in Middle School, and tend to go something like this:
WARNING! This letter is MAGIC and you NEED to SEND five COPIES to people you KNOW in the next WEEK! If you DON’T, something HORRIBLE will happen to YOU and your LOVED ONES! A fishmonger from Spokane DIDN’T pass the letter along and he DIED when a FISH came back and ATE HIM! A goat herder from Wyoming DID send the letter and he’s now PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES! This is TRUE! The overuse of CAPITAL LETTERS proves it!!!
With the advent of the internet, chain letters have taken on a whole new annoying dimension. While it’s frustrating and time-consuming to copy out a letter five times by hand, it’s pretty easy to just forward the email on to hundreds of unsuspecting people. This has inadvertently caused the world wide web to become a sort of mystical channeling device, and if the internet were to one day fail, all of that bad mojo would be instantly released and great horrors would undoubtedly ensue (most likely, a significant increase in productivity and face-to-face social interaction.)
On a side note, if you do not purchase five copies of How to be a Villain, your goldfish will die.
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Curses are a delightfully sinister method of enacting retribution on one’s enemies. They are one of the most widely held occult beliefs in the world, and have appeared in different cultures across the ages. Though sometimes just a verbal condemnation, the majority are a form of sympathetic magic in which a symbolic action is done to an physical object that represents the victim. You can construct a doll out of candle wax, for example, making sure that it resembles the victim in every way, and then stomp on it repeatedly with your boot. Terrible things are sure to follow.
A sixteenth-century physician named Johann Wier wrote on this, stating that the most widely known symptoms of cursing was the “vomiting of bones, nails, needles, balls of wool, bunches of hair, and other things, some of which were so large that could not have passed through the throat by any natural means.” Wier claimed to have witnessed such phenomena himself during his studies, and he was a respected man of science, though his fondness for the purple-spotted mushrooms that grew outside his house might have also had something to do with it.
Curse methods (for evil revenge purposes only):
– Driving a nail into someone’s footprint
– Burying an egg on a person’s land
– Writing a curse on a lead tablet and placing it inside a tomb
– Throwing a wax figure of the person in a fire
– Pointing a spirit bone at someone
– Placing a billy goat in their path
– Leaving a few pennies on their doorstep
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