Six really strange coincidences

The world is a really strange place filled with strange things and strange people.  Really, more than anything, when all these factors combine it allows some really strange occurrences to…um..occur, I guess, for the sake of redundancy.  We’ve all experienced coincidences that kind of stopped us in our tracks and made us say, “wow”, but given the sheer age of recorded human history, there have been some truly strange occurrences.  Here are six ranked in no particular order of strangeness.

6.  Henry Ziegland’s bad luck

Some of the most truly horrible films I’ve ever seen are installments of the “Final Destination” franchise, which all are famous for the spectacularly graphic depiction of unlikable teenagers being horribly killed, but notable because of their shared, cryptic message; you can’t cheat death.  Of course, people cheat death all the time, whether it involves a lifesaving surgery, a miracle, or attempting to eat a meatball sub while in the HOV lane.  Henry Ziegland cheated death.  You see, back in 1883, Ziegland was a bit of a heartbreaker; not so much in a Pat Benatar sense, but a “divorce his wife and she’s so heartbroken she’s driven to suicide” kind of sense.  Obviously, Ms. Ziegland’s suicide is no laughing matter, and it’s certainly a tragedy, but it’s not really Ziegland’s fault.  Unfortunately, Ziegland’s brother-in-law didn’t see things that way.  Broken up about his little sister’s untimely demise, he hunted down Ziegland to bestow a hot, steaming pile of revenge all over the heartbreaker.  The brother-in-law found Ziegland, shot him in the head, and then turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.  Ziegland, however, displaying a Rasheed Wallace-esque “ball don’t lie” bit of fortune had the bullet simply graze his cheek, as his potential fate with the grim reaper whizzed by and became lodged in a nearby tree.  After breathing the sigh of relief to end all sighs of relief, Ziegland went off to presumably bed some unfortunate 19th century woman of the night.

Where things really get weird

Years after his brush with death, Ziegland, apparently sick of seeing a constant reminder of one of the most harrowing moments of his life, decided to cut down the tree which housed that fateful bullet.  Since Ziegland lived in Texas, he decided to forgo the traditional ax route of tree cutting and opted for the “Texas” way of doing things ( by this I mean he used several sticks of dynamite to blow up the tree).  Unfortunately, the dynamite blast was too powerful, blowing the tree to smithereens and dislodging the long-lost bullet, which promptly shot into Ziegland’s head, killing him instantly.

5.  Shaq escapes death

1993 was a pretty great year for Shaquille O’Neal: he was in his second season in the NBA, averaging nearly 30 points per game as a member of the Orlando Magic, and most importantly, he had just recorded a song with an up and coming rapper from Brooklyn named Christopher Wallace, or as most know him, the Notorious B.I.G.  Biggie and Shaq became fast friends, and remained such even when O’Neal shipped out to Los Angeles to resume his Hall of Fame career.  In fact, Shaq and Biggie were such close friends that Biggie, despite being a key figure in a metaphorical “east coast-west coast turf war”, decided to visit his buddy in LA one night in March 1997.

Where it gets weird.

Biggie was chilling at a party, presumably dead right, with his head tight, sippin’ on booze at the House of Blues when he decided to head to a different party.  On the way he would stop to pick up his friend Shaq, since he wasn’t able to make it to the first party.  Later that evening, Biggie was gunned down in his SUV and died in the hospital a few hours later.  Several years ago, Shaq acknowledged he was all ready to go “in a white suit, white hat and all that” and about to head out the door.  However, Shaq ended up falling asleep and missing his ride to the party in the backseat of an SUV with one Christopher Wallace.  The next day, Shaq’s mom called him and asked if he had gone to the party the night before and then revealed Shaq’s friend he been murdered in a drive by shooting moments after departing the party.  Had Shaq made it to the party that night, he could have potentially been killed, ending a Hall of Fame career and forcing the sports world to view a Lakers team with only Kobe Bryant as its premier star.  Yuck.

4.  Ilan Ramon and the Columbia disaster

Israel has come a long way.  Despite some lesser minded folks viewing it as a dusty sand country, Israel is one of the most technologically and militarily advanced nations in the world and remains the tightest of bros with the United States.  Specifically, Israel possess a world-renowned Air Force.  That being said, it was only a matter of time before one of their ace pilots moved on to a new frontier.  Ilan Ramon, that aforementioned ace, was the chosen one.  Ramon eventually landed a job with NASA, becoming the first Israeli astronaut in history.  In 2003, NASA was planning to man a 16 day flight to do science and research and other space stuff, and Ramon was slated to be part of the team.  It was truly groundbreaking, because Ramon stated his intentions of honoring Jewish traditions, most confusingly eating Kosher meals in flight, which I guess still beats pre-packaged space food by the narrowest of margins.  On January 16, 2003, Ramon and six other astronauts loaded their stuff into their rocket ship, the Columbia…

The Columbia disaster is one of those transcendent moments where people usually remembers a lot of details about what they were doing that day.  During the initial launch, the crew noticed some debris had fallen off the shuttle, and engineers (rightfully) concluded this might be a bit of an issue.  Either way, the mission resumed, and the crew figured they would just attempt reentry the good ol’ fashioned way despite the damage to the shuttle.  Tragically, the shuttle began to break apart during reentry, eventually entirely disintegrating (or exploding, depending on sources).  Debris from the damaged ship then fell down all over parts of eastern Texas…

Where it gets weird.

In a little town called Palestine.  Palestine, Texas, probably most famously known as Adrian Peterson’s birthplace became the de facto graveyard for the Columbia.  Ramon, one of those who perished in the crash, if you remember, was born in Israel….

3.  Luck’s dethrones Manning’s

This is a tale of fathers, sons, and one of the most unlikable coaches in football history.  Back in 1982, when the Houston Oilers were still a thing, the team had just built a pretty decent quarterback duo; trading for Archie Manning and drafting West Virginia standout Oliver Luck in the second round.  Of course, the elder Manning was the incumbent passer, but the young Luck quickly dethroned Manning and took the reigns as starting quarterback of the Oilers.  Of course, quarterbacks are dethroned all the time so it’s not like this is a huge deal.

Where it gets weird.

Years later, in a seemingly different realm of football reality Jim Harbaugh was busy orchestrated one of the poorest seasons in Indianapolis Colts history.  He played pretty well from a statistical standpoint, but had a 2-9 record as the starter, as the team finished with a league worse 3-13 record and “won” the first overall pick in the draft.  Since a young kid from the University of Tennessee had the makings of a franchise quarterback, the Colts went ahead and traded Harbaugh away and drafted this new kid named Peyton Manning, who is the son of Archie Manning.  After an unspectacular remainder of his football career, Harbaugh eventually landed a pretty sweet gig coaching the Stanford football team.  He caught wind of a young man in Texas who was being compared to John Elway but lacked the surfer boy attitude.  So, Harbaugh went ahead and added Oliver Luck’s son Andrew to his Stanford roster.  The younger Luck went on to become one of the best quarterbacks in college football, eventually earning some of the highest pre-draft grades in NFL history, with some scouts calling him the great prospect they’ve ever scouted.  Fortunately for the Indianapolis Colts, they held the number one pick in the 2012 draft.  Unfortunately, their franchise QB Peyton Manning was injured, as the team finished with a 3-13 record….  So the team released Manning who was replaced by Luck…again.

2.  Tsutomu Yamaguchi pretty much has the worst luck ever

Tsutomu had a pretty good life back in 1945.  Despite his country being on their heels in a losing two-front war, he was employed as a businessman, living in his comfortable home in Nagasaki.  On August 6, 1945, however, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip, presumably sucking down strawberry margs and living the high life.  Until he looked into the sky, saw an airplane dropping something, and flying away.

Over 100,000 people were killed in the Hiroshima bombings as the result of trauma, blast burns, and being incinerated by science.  In fact, everything within a one diameter had basically turned into a parking lot while more far spread damage from shock waves and heat caused damage even further away from the blast site.  While Yamaguchi wasn’t sucking down strawberry margs, he was returning to his work place to retrieve an item he had forgotten, only about a mile and a half from the blast site.  He recalled seeing a “great white flash” in the sky before noticing the fact his eardrums had ruptured, he was rendered temporarily blind, and burns were now covering about half his body. Miraculously, he crawled his way to a shelter to ride out the remainder of the ordeal.  Relatively unhurt, he decided to cut his three-month business trip short and return to his home…

Where it gets weird.

..in Nagasaki.  While still probably unable to suck down strawberry margs, Yamaguchi was recovering in his home.  For most people, the sniffles calls for at least a three-day recovery period.  For Yamaguchi it calls for a return to work in Nagasaki, three days after surviving the world’s only nuclear bombing.  Dazzled by Yamaguchi’s luck, his boss called him up to his office to describe his harrowing ordeal.  There, in the office, Yamaguchi began describing the hellish scenario that had unfolded only three days earlier.  Then, as he was saying “You should’ve been there boss, it was cra….” another flash of white light appeared outside the window as another 90,000 people were killed when a second bomb was dropped, this time in Nagasaki.  This time, Yamaguchi survived with almost no injuries, although his bandages were ruined, giving him a case of the sniffles.  I assume he took more than three days off of work after this.

Japan recognizes Yamaguchi as the only person to survive both atomic bombings.  Tragically, Yamaguchi contracted stomach cancer and passed away….in 2010, at age 93.

*Disclaimer: This last entry is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen*

1.  The Kennedy-Lincoln parallel

My least favorite thing about conspiracy theories is how people try to nit-pick specific issues to prove the points. “9/11 was orchestrated by Microsoft because when you change a certain strand of letters to wingdings it looks like a plane crashing into a tower.”  Oh yeah?  Why are you using wingdings in the first place, idiot; you can’t read them.  Anyway, there are obviously less ridiculous examples that involve Saddam Hussein’s birthday coinciding with Tupac’s death or something like that, but at the end of the day reaching for a controversy is kind of ridiculous.  That is, until you see the unbelievable coincidence that is the parallel between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Where it gets weird.

We’ll start with a relatively benign fact; Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and President in 1860, while Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946 and President in 1960, with both men defeating incumbent Vice Presidents to win the presidency. Okay, big deal, they just took the same two positions exactly 100 years apart, that’s not too strange.  They are both remembered for being civil rights pioneers, despite neither man particularly caring “that much” about civil rights.  The Presidents who followed them were both named Johnson (Andrew for Lincoln and Lyndon for Kennedy) and were born in 1808 and 1908, respectively.  Still not too weird, but getting weirder.

Both men were assassinated while in office.  This itself is strange, but not unheard of.  Not really a coincidence.  But they were both killed on a Friday following a major holiday while in the company of another couple and their wives.  In fact, the husband that accompanied the President and First Lady was wounded in each assassination attempt.  John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassins, were each Southern males in their mid-20’s.  Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre, escaped, and was captured in a warehouse.  Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse (the Texas school book depository) escaped, and was later captured in a theatre.  Oswald and Booth both avoided trial, as they were both shot on killed prior to their appearances in court.   Boston Corbett, a former military man, shot Booth and killed him.  Jack Ruby, a former military man, shot Oswald and killed him.

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