Alternate History Blogfest for #AprilFoolsDay2013

April Fools' Day is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other..
1st April
In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other's back as a trick and shout "April fish!" in their local languages (pesce d'aprile!, poisson d'avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Dutch , respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools' Day postcards.

The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 as New Year's Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.

#onthisday #history #aprilfoolsday

The Editor of #Onthisday Dirk Puehl writes - "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year." (Mark Twain)

Today is April Fool's Day in many regions around the world, in different forms, but with a common thread: poking fun at fellow human beings. Some tell just tall tales, some play quite practical jokes and most, at least in Europe, do that for a very long time.

Forerunners might be the Medieval Feast of Fools, celebrated on December 28th, when a King of Fools was voted who ordered the community around him to do various nonsensical tasks, or even the Roman Saturnalia.

Dirk Puuehl
Italy, France and francophone regions have established the tradition of the poisson d'avril, the April Fish, pinning a paper fish on somebody's back.

The idea probably goes back to the 16th century and Charles XIV of France reformed the calendar and put New Year's Day on January 1st instead of the week between March 25th and April 1st. Since rural regions were a bit late to adopt to the change, jokes were played on the rustics who celebrated the New Year at the wrong time. The late 19th century used the opportunity to publish rather surrealistic April 1st postcards featuring fish (as depicted below).

Virgle Project Begins by Jeff Provine

Virgin and Google colonize Mars. Announced on the Google homepage and Youtube as well as by Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, the Virgle Project would prove one of humanity's greatest steps and one nearly missed.

Initially, the project was an elaborate hoax including actual NASA imaging, calculations on survival in a hostile environment, and even practical means of terraforming. People would be allowed to "apply" for the project by going to the Virgle website , filling out a form, and submitting videos.

Most persuasive of the hoax was the fake press release in which Branson outlined his ideals of "Virgle [as] an 'interplanetary Noah's Ark.'"

Google co-founder Larry Page commented, "Virgle is the ultimate application of a principle we've always believed at Google: that you can do well by doing good". They envisioned Mars as a true "open-source" project: thousands, perhaps millions, of people working together for a common good without monetary reward.

Projects such as Linux and Wikipedia revolutionized computing and information, so why not colonization?

Like many others, they held a dream of colonizing Mars, but ultimately held it impractical, admitting on a fake 404 page , that "It isn't real. There. Are you happy? Does it please you to drag us out of our lovely little fantasy world, to crush all our hopes and dreams? Is that really what you need to hear? Fine, you've heard it. Virgle isn't real".

As the days passed, however, more and more public support cheered on the idea of Virgle. Branson, Page, and Brin had opened a Pandora's box of public interest. Lesser men may have settled the applause with admissions of the joke and going on with their daily lives, but the three stepped up to be named among the greatest leaders of the twenty-first, or any, century. Setting aside the comforts of terrestrial business, Branson continued his entrepreneurial experiments with the Galactic White Knight and space-tourism, busily creating advanced chemical-burn rockets and horizontal launches that could effectively jet necessary cargo into Earth orbit. Working alongside NASA, Roskosmos, and other international space institutions, the International Space Station served as a central ground for the interplanetary launch craft.

Meanwhile, Page and Brin used their software expertise to sort incoming capital for the project. While donations were welcome, the true breakthrough came as Virgle became a joint-stock company, the same kind that had colonized North America and other parts of the world hundreds of years before. With crashing housing markets and banks looking for bailouts, Virgle as a long-term investment took Wall Street by surprise, becoming an investment as welcome as bonds of First World nations. While a good deal of capital was required for setup, little pay was required for the Virgle volunteers, who gladly gave up their earthly savings to live a dream of exploration. Even without offering a salary and sorting out the phony applicants, Virgle took in so many skilled volunteers that Branson would be kept busy for decades ferrying them to their new world.

Favourite Prank (from the reader's choices)?

Virgle Project Begins (continued)

While the initial schedule of a manned mission to Mars of 2016 was missed by three years, Richard Branson became the first human to set foot on the Red Planet after a months-long voyage. Virgle Base was established as planned on the Lunae Planum, "the transition between the high Tharsis rise, a giant volcanic bulge, and the northern lowland plains" as mentioned in the initial press release, now housed in the Electronic Wing of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Drilling discovered ice, which made the first settlement inhabitable, but the pioneering process was difficult with required protective gear and cavern housing. A number of times looked like the end for the Virgle Project with accidents or lack of funds, but the unnerved leadership by Branson, Page, and Brin allowed the pioneers to press on.

Virgle City, then a connected series of tubes underground, was formally proclaimed in 2050 as per the initial schedule. Real estate sales, low-gravity refining of native raw materials, and cheap storage for data served as the primary economy of the young Mars until the discovery of a rich gold deposit approximately midway between Virgle City and Olympus Mons. The Martian Gold Rush began, and by 2108, the population surged well beyond the hypothesized 100,000 to over nine million. Settlers continued to flow, skyrocketing the value of old Virgle stock and supplying the capital necessary for the Martian Artificial Magnetic Field, a key component to terraforming. Long-term interplanetary gas-harvesting built up an atmosphere rich in greenhouse gases to stabilize warmth so that, by the sesquicentennial in 2169, a human Martian could run barefoot through an idyllic meadow safer and more comfortable than any on Earth.

And last, but not least, Robbie A. Taylor writes -

Celts of the northern lands slaughtered a small group of Christians that attempted to make fun of them when they celebrated their new year. No one dared play a prank on the Celtic New Year again.

The Oueztecan Empire signed a pact of non-agression with the Wampanoag of the northeast. Considered unnecessary by most of the Wampanoag’s neighbors, it proved to be the main reason for the Wampanoag’s continued freedom when the Oueztec began their conquest of the great northeast.

Jane Austen takes the advice of the Prince Regent and begins work on her first Scientific Romance, Persuasion. This classic tale of love rejected among the moons of Mars has enchanted readers ever since.

A selection of alternate histories by Robbie Taylor
Adolf Hitler, leader of the small National Socialist German Worker’s Party, secured power in Munich, Germany and set his followers in positions of power throughout the region. The abysmal failure of his policies, coupled with a successful propaganda campaign by the Weimar Republic, sent the N.S.D.A.P. into a tailspin and Hitler back into obscurity by the year’s end.

Robbie's Tweets from Alternate History now available on Twitter and his latest e-book "The Tree Of Knowledge (The Chelsea Perkins Trilogy)" on Amazon.
AMC became the victim of a rather expensive prank when the design that engineers sent in as a joke became the Gremlin. When news of the joke hit the street, the car couldn’t be given away.

The Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League debuted a new baseball uniform: shorts above the knees, rayon T-shirts, and knee-high socks. It was meant as a joke, but after winning the game, the team decided to keep them for a while. After winning eight of their first nine games, they decided to use them for the rest of the season. The Stars went on to tie the Oakland Oaks in the standings at the end of the season, and the Stars won the three-game playoff two games to none. The next season, seven of the eight teams in the PCL started the season with short uniforms (the Portland Beavers held out until June before finally succumbing), and the look was adopted by teams in other leagues, including the Brooklyn Dodgers. The influence of the Stars and the PCL eventually led to the PCL becoming the third major league in 1958, after unsuccessful attempts by Brooklyn and the New York Giants to move west.

the BBC airs a documentary about Swiss spaghetti trees on its Panorama programme. After the broadcast, many British restaurants acquired their own spaghetti trees and now it is possible to determine how good a restaurant's pasta will be just by the look of their spaghetti trees.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne found Apple Computers. Apple has since gone on to become one of the biggest and powerful computer companies in the world, although there have been monopoly allegations and government antitrust suits.

News reporters everywhere report of an alien invasion; this is dismissed as an April Fool's Day prank by the public, until the fearsome ships of the Ralv Shera Dowan fleet begin attacking major cities.

Robbie Taylor, Creator of Today in Alternate History Eric B. Lipps, writer for Today in Alternate History Dirk Puehl, Editor of #Onthisday Professor Jeff Provine, Editor of This Day in Alternate History
Haleh Brooks, Guest Reader of #Onthisday Marko Bosscher, tours Natural History museums at Eruditorum Alternate Historian, Editor of Today in Alternate History Eric Oppen, writer of Today in Alternate History
Jackie Rose, novelist for Extasy Books Andrew Beane, Editor of Voice of the Christian Worker Gerry Shannon, Freelance Film-maker Ruairi James Heekin, web master of Sleeping under the Cross.

Today's six-way post includes contributions from the Reverend Robbie A. Taylor, Professor Jeff Provine, Haleh Brooks, Eric B. Lipps and the Editor.

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