March 15, 2013

Beware the Ides of Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

If Julius Caesar had done scenario planning, Shakespeare might have been a little more funny and a little less stabby.

44BC: Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and several other senators stab Dictator of the Roman Republic Julius Caesar to death. Each of them drops their knife, but there are not enough cannolis to go around, so civil war eventually erupts.

1493: Christopher Columbus arrives back at Palos, Spain after his voyage to the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola, which he will insist are islands near China until the end of his life. But others are of a different opinion: an Englishman writes him a letter in 1497 saying that merchants of Bristol had already known of a large land mass to the north. The same year, John Cabot (born Zuan Chabotto in Chioggia (see yesterday’s entry)) plants the English flag on Newfoundland, turns around, and sees about 1,000 Basque fishing boats offshore. For this reason, perhaps, for his next voyage, Columbus decides to leave from the Basque port of Vizcaya, with six ships outfitted by Juan Perez de Loyola, older brother of the future St. Ignatius Loyola, and manned by wily Basque pilots Lope de Olano and Martin Zamudio. And don’t get me going on the Greenland Norse landing parties who went to Canada and perhaps Cape Cod in the 1000s, or St. Brendan, who legendarily voyaged to the west somewhere between 512-530 AD. The plot thickens.

1783: George Washington gives an emotional speech to his officers, who have been planning a coup d’etat against Congress, which has decided not to pay the army for months because of a contingent that insists on budget cuts. Washington tells them, "Let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that, previous to your dissolution as an army, ...they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you for your faithful and meritorious services." Amazingly, this works, the coup is canceled, and the Continental Congress (and its successor, the federal government) gets it together to pay the soldiers, despite cynics insisting that the new federal government can never do anything right. (The federal government never does anything right ever again, with the paltry exceptions of ending slavery, winning two world wars, extending voting rights to females, African-Americans and persons without property, digging the Panama Canal, rescuing hundreds of thousands of distressed mariners, responding to hundreds of emergencies, killing terrorists, creating the interstate highway system, extirpating yellow fever and other diseases, splitting the atom, and putting 12 men on the moon.)

1952: A new record for daily rainfall is set for the European Union. The island of Reunion, an overseas department of France, receives 73 inches of rain in 24 hours. Since Reunion is part of France, this is the French record; since it is (the farthest-away) part of the European Union and the euro zone, this record holds for them too.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Thoughts?