Gaffe-ter Effects

The only one British Prime Minister candidate Gordon Brown will be able blame if he loses this election, as he seems about to do, is himself.  After referring to a woman he had just met as a bigot, it came as no surprise that British voters began to turn their backs on the incumbent candidate. Brown supporters argued that he never used the word “bigot” but instead called the woman a "big ot, "as in large otter. This excuse may have backfired, as the U.K. (Wales in particular) has enough otter aficionados -- even some Otter Supremacists -- to have cost Brown more than a few votes.   

Brown's gaffe is the most recent in a long history of hitherto obscure faux pas that altered it --history--with far more dire results than a lost election. The first gaff, occurred not when Eve bit the apple (Applegate is the rough translation of the original Hebrew)--that wasn't even a gaffe but a fully knowing and conscious act. The truth is that God began looking for an excuse to give these two lovebirds the boot after Adam told Eve, “Ugh. I have a head cold. God can be such a tool sometimes.” Adam knew that God was omnipresent but didn't know that He was omni-auditory. The angry creator couldn’t exactly banish the couple for such a minor offense, but, being also omniscient, He could set up the Apple scenario with a very good idea of what would happen.

 Napoleon’s fall at The Battle of Waterloo, or Waterloo-portillon, as the French press called it, was also caused by a simple slip of the tongue, when Napoleon softly said to himself, “That Prussian soldier over there looks like a fat biscuit.” (The meaning gets somewhat lost in English.)  Napoleon, who himself liked biscuits quite a lot and thus meant his remark almost as an endearment, didn’t realize that voices carry like crazy at Waterloo and  the enraged, offended Prussians rallied in support of the mocked soldier, and easily crushed Napoleon’s forces.

Similarly, the Russian Revolution was the product of an offhand remark. Tsar Nicholas II, upon meeting with a local farmer, muttered under his breath, “This man? He look like moist ferret, no?” We’re not here to argue if Tsar Nicholas actually spoke in broken English. But this comment, which unbeknownst to the Tsar was recorded on a nearby wax cylinder that was just lying around, incited the people of Russia and soon Communism took over.

Years later in Cuba, Dictator Fulgencio Batista was enjoying his reign over the Cuban people, and everyone loved him. Until one day a little spitfire named Che Guevara overheard Batista call a child who was bad at soccer a “sissy.” Che told Fidel Castro, Castro told his buddy Mark who worked at the newspaper, and soon the whole thing was blown out of proportion by the media who called the event “The Fulgencio Oopsie Story”, and later “The Cuban Revolution.” 


And just this morning I learned through a reliable blog comment that our own President, Barack Obama, was caught by a directional microphone using the term “dorkmeister” to refer to a NASA scientist. He was immediately tackled by his PR men and rushed to a media blackout cave where his aides are reported to be working feverishly on his resignation speech.  

"Dan Bergstein" is the nom de plume of the late Haile Selassie.

July 29: On this day in 1878 Don Marquis was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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