The Moron's Weekend Briefing

Sep.13 - Today is Friday the 13th and therefore bad.

Fridays falling on the 13th day of the month are known to be unlucky. Scholars have repeatedly demonstrated the unluckiness of such Fridays and modern science is unable to develop an antidote.

On September 15, 1776, the British occupied Manhattan. Outraged by the rents and discouraged by the lack of parking, however, they left shortly afterwards, leaving only journalists behind.

Ivan Pavlov was born on September 14, 1849, which may or may not have followed a Friday the 13th. Pavlov was a Russian scientist who discovered that dogs drooled whenever bells were rung. Only after his death were his ideas discredited, by a group of Swedish scientists who determined that dogs also drooled when bells were not rung. In the decades since, science has repeatedly and conclusively demonstrated that dogs will sometimes drool or not drool.

As a member of British Parliament in the post-Waterloo era, William Huskisson probably imagined dozens of ways in which history might remember him. On September 15, 1830, however, as he chatted amiably with the Duke of Wellington at the grand opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the right honorable gentleman distinguished himself for posterity by becoming the first human being in history to be run over by a train. (The Duke of Wellington, on the other hand, is remembered for his Beef.)

On September 15, 1864, another hardy British soul, the explorer John Speke, was probably confident he'd be remembered as the first European ever to have seen Lake Victoria in Africa. He is not. He is remembered as the first European in Africa to see Lake Victoria and then accidentally shoot and kill himself while hunting partridges.

The Germans occupied the Sudetenland in late summer of 1938. This enraged the British and the English, who both feared for the loss of the Sudetenland's celebrated pea crops. On September 15, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to meet Hitler at Bertesgaden to discuss the situation. Hitler assured him that there would be plenty of peas to go around, and Chamberlain returned to England with the famous proclamation of Peas in Our Time. World War II was therefore avoided and did not break out until some time later.

On September 15, 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered that the mold penicillin had an antibiotic effect. Had he cleaned his laboratory every night and put all his things away like a good little boy, he never would have discovered penicillin, and half of us would be dead right now.

The 14th is the Battle of San Jacinto Day in Nicaragua.

The 15th is celebrated as independence day in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and as Respect for the Aged Day in Japan.

This particular Friday the 13th happens to be the birthday of Fiona Apple (1977), Nell Carter (1948), Jacqueline Bisset (1944), Mel Torme (1925), Roald Dahl (1916), Claudette Colbert (1903), and Sherwood Anderson (1876).

Saturday the 14th will be the birthday of Sam Neill (1947), Joey Heatherton (1944), Nicol Williamson (1938), Harve Presnell (1933), Clayton Moore (1914) and, of course, the aforementioned Pavlov.

Sunday the 15th will be the birthday of Britain's Prince Harry (1984), Dan Marino (1961), Tommy Lee Jones (1946), Oliver Stone (1946), Merlin Olsen (1940), Jackie Cooper (1922), Fay Wray (1907), Agatha Christie (1891), Robert Benchley (1889), William H. Taft (1857), and James Fenimore Cooper (1789).

Enjoy the weekend.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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