WEEKLY BRIEFING
The Moron's Weekly Briefing

Jan. 31 - I apologize for the brief lapse in publication caused by the Sapphire Worm, but I'm so happy to live in a world with Sapphire Worms that I think it was worth the inconvenience.

We may not have flying cars yet, but an Internet attack by a Sapphire Worm sounds futuristic enough for me.

Renowned physicist Werner Heisenberg reportedly died on February 1, 1976, but accounts of his death are shrouded in uncertainty.

That was the one-liner. The extended cut follows.

On February 1, 1976, Werner Heisenberg died in Munich. Mr. Heisenberg was one of the last century's foremost physicists, a reputation he earned primarily by having confused everybody so completely that many of us remain baffled to this very day.

The famous "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" states that the act of observation changes the state of the thing being observed. This principle is most vividly illustrated by the penis.

Mr. Heisenberg studied with Nils Bohr and Albert Einstein before finally branching out into his own area of highly specialized confusion, eventually dubbed "quantum physics."

He was particularly confused by his efforts to identify the exact location of a given particle while simultaneously identifying another of its characteristics (such as height, weight, or political affiliation).

It was confusing mainly because he couldn't do it.

Also contributing to the general bewilderment of the last century was the work of James Joyce, born on February 2, 1882. Mr. Joyce was one of many drunken Irish geniuses who got the hell out of Ireland as soon as he could afford a passport. Mr. Joyce wrote Ulysses, a famous book perhaps most notable for the fact that no one's ever actually read it. (Readers may familiarize themselves with it by means of a condensed version available here.)

Gertrude Stein was born on the same day, eight years earlier, and was also baffled. She made her own contribution to confusion by writing books that were much easier to read than Mr. Joyce's yet made even less sense.

But the prize for confusion has to go to the Soviet government, under whose authority February 1, 1918 was declared to be February 14, 1918.

* * *

On February 1, 772, Adrian I was elected pope. His election was won largely due to strong Frank support. (This Gallic support system was the precursor to French support, which remains anything but Frank.) Adrian worked closely with Charlemagne, also known as Carolus Magnus ("Big Chuck"), the inventor of France.

In 1626, Dutchman Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan for $24. People often joke about that, but $24 wasn't such an unreasonable price. It was a lot of money back then, and it's not like Peter just turned around and built Times Square. Manhattan was a big rock in the middle of cold rushing waters, and the weather was awful--even for a Dutchman. It wasn't even a city until February 2, 1653, when it became New Amsterdam.

It had a population of 800. It was later renamed New York. In 1996, New York had a population of well over 7.3 million. This represents an increase of 922,513%. At this rate, by the year 2319 New York will have a population of over 68 billion. Something should be done about this.

February 2 is Groundhog's Day in the United States. Celebrate responsibly.

January 31 is the birthday of Justin Timberlake (1981), Minnie Driver (1971), Nolan Ryan (1947), Richard Gephardt (1941), Suzanne Pleshette (1937), Ernie Banks (1931), Jean Simmons (1929), Carol Channing (1923), Norman Mailer (1923), and Jackie Robinson (1919).

February 1 is the birthday of Lisa Marie Presley (1968), Don Everly (1937), Garrett Morris (1937), Boris Yeltsin (1931), S.J. Perelman (1904), Langston Hughes (1902), and Clark Gable (1901).

February 2 is the birthday of Christie Brinkley (1954), Farrah Fawcett (1947), Graham Nash (1942), Tom Smothers (1937), Les Dawson (1934), James Dickey (1923), Ayn Rand (1905), and, as previously mentioned, James Joyce (1882).

January 31 is Independence Day in Nauru and the Queen's Birthday in the Netherlands.

February 1 is Independence Day in Honduras.

Besides being National Rodent Appreciation Day in the United States, February 2 is also the Pagan holiday of Imbolc or Brigid.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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