The Moron's Daily Briefing

Aug. 1 - It's August, which means it's National Catfish Month. It's also National Golf Month, National Eye Exam Month, National Water Quality Month, Romance Awareness Month, Peach Month, and Foot Health Month.

How did a single month become so important? Like almost everything else that's difficult to understand, the history of August begins in Ancient Rome.

The Roman calendar was a mess. Not just because there were VII days in a week and XXVIII days in a month, but also because the calendar was being managed by a high priest. In 46 BC, for example, autumn began in January. This irritated Julius Caesar, who demanded that the calendar be reformed to make sense and that the priests assigned to manage it be prohibited from getting high.

Caesar's new calendar went into effect on January 1, 45 BC. The fifth month of the year, Quintilis, which was actually been the seventh month of the year, was renamed July (short for Julius) in honor of the General's work on the calendar. (Calendar professionals still refer to July as the "Caesarian section.")

Years later, after Caesar's grand-nephew defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra and became emperor of Rome, the Senate decided to name a month after him. They chose the month of Sextillus, the sixth month (and therefore eighth), and renamed it Gaius Octavianus. Fortunately the Emperor renamed himself Augustus before any calendars had been printed.

The Emperor was not entirely pleased. His month had only 30 days, whereas his grand-uncle's had 31. The Senate immediately added another day to August, removing it from February in the hope of losing one day of winter to gain one of summer.

August 1 is Independence Day in Benin and National Day in Switzerland. It's the birthday of Jerry Garcia (1942), Yves Saint Laurent (1936), Dom DeLuise (1933), Herman Melville (1819), Francis Scott Key (1779), and William Clark (1770).

And it was on this date in 1793 that kilogram first appeared in France. Developed by priests and scientists, the kilogram flourished as soon as it was released into the wild and can now be found thriving throughout the world. The kilogram does exist in the United States, but encountered too many indigineous predators to establish dominance.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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