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Why Inspections Didn't Catch On Till 1975


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It was November 1798 and a crowd was gathering in the square outside of Buckingham Palace in London for the monthly executions of criminals. The brits had just begun to use a fantastic new invention of the French, the guillotine, and everyone was excited and anticipated a great show.

This month, there was a murderer, a rapist and a home inspector due to be beheaded. The home inspector, John Muddledman, was the very first of his kind and had garnered a reputataton amongst Londoners as being very competent and very thorough. Unfortunately, John had been found guilty of witchery and had been ordered to be executed. His crime? He'd failed to disclose the presence of some mold in the thatch of a cottage roof.

Muddledman had never even seen the mold, but that didn't make any difference to the owner. The homeowner complained of headaches and "visits by demons" and blamed it on exposure to the mold, which he'd found when he'd gone to re-thatch his roof. As proof, he'd offered up evidence of mold from what he'd read in his bible.

Since the previous homeowner had never had a problem ,it stood to reason, said the Chief Magistrate, who also made a separate living facilitating the purchase and sale of real property for those looking for new homes, that the home inspector had to have done something to have caused the mold to form and the demons to "nest" in the home.

First up was the murderer. The crowd roared its approval as he was forced, struggling, into the device. The executioner looked to the Chief Magistrate for the signal and upon receiving same, yanked the lanyard to release the blade.

Nothing happened. The crowd, stunned, was silent. The executioner, embarrassed, glanced nervously at the Chief Magistrate, who, seeing that the crowd was restless and wanted their monthly ration of gore, angrily motioned for the executioner to get on with it.

The executioner reset the blade and pulled the lanyard again. Still nothing happened. Suddenly, a priest in the crowd declared that it must be devine intervention and implored that the Chief Justice be merciful, whereupon the crowd took up the chant, "Mercy! Mercy!".

The Chief Justice, ever mindful of how he must appear to be doling out "justice" in these matters, reluctantly agreed to pardon the murderer. The murder was taken out of the block, untied and released. The crowd, some disappointed, others excited to see God's hand at work, settled back down and waited for the rapist's execution.

The rapist was forced into the block with great difficulty by at least four strong men and then the crowd began pelting the sod's head with rotten fruit. One fellow even ran up onto the scaffolding and urinated on him to the great delight of the throng.

The executioner looked to the chief magistrate, and upon receiving the signal pulled the lanyard. Again nothing happened. No silence this time - the crowd roared with delight. God was certainly present on this day! The Chief Magistrate was becoming frustrated but he had no choice. The rapist was released and ran away with his victim's family chasing him down the street pelting him with cobblestones.

Well, as luck would have it, John Muddledman, not the sharpest tack on the bulletin board by any measure, had always been fascinated by the "workings" of things, which is why he'd begun inspecting homes in the first place. Poor John had been carefully observing the way the guillotine worked and now he couldn't contain his enthusiasm any longer. "Oy Sir," called out John, "It's not devine intervention. I can see exactly what the problem is. You see you have to..."

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