DAILY BRIEFINGThe Moron's Daily Briefing
Jun. 19 - Blaise Pascal was born in France on this day in 1623. At the age of 17 he wrote a paper entitled "Essay on Conic Sections," which quickly became the best selling paper on conic sections in European history.
By the age of 22 he had invented a calculator. Unfortunately it would still be several centuries before the battery could be invented, so Pascal turned to religion.
In 1647 he proved that a vacuum existed. The famous French philosopher Rene Descartes visited Pascal, inspected his vacuum, and bemoaned its lack of attachable hoses. This caused a split that has endured to the present day.
"The more I see of men," Pascal observed at about this time, "the better I like my dog." This was a famous quotation and can be found in many greeting cards.
In 1653 he discovered Pascal's Law of Pressure. A year later he was involved in a carriage accident that reminded him he had turned to religion. He turned back to it.
He began work on his famous Pensees ("Blather") in 1656 and worked on it for three years. In the book, Pascal proved that if God didn't exist then believing in Him wouldn't hurt, whereas if He did exist, not believing would hurt like Hell.
(It has been observed that if Pascal was wrong, not reading his book wouldn't hurt, and if he was right, it still wouldn't hurt.)
When he was 39 a malignant growth in his stomach spread to his brain and he died horribly.
Also born on June 19: Paula Abdul (1962), Kathleen Turner (1954), Pauline Kael (1919), Lou Gehrig (1903), Guy Lombardo (1902), and Moe Howard (1897).
I haven't previously included years of birth when listing birthdays in the Daily Briefing. I will do so from this point forward to prevent confusion as to whether, for example, I'm referring to Moe Howard the celebrated Stooge or Moe Howard the Emperor of Byzantine Rome.
It's Labor Day in Trinidad and Tobago and it's Jose Gervasio Artigas' Birthday in Uruguay.
© 2002, The Moron's Almanac