The Moron's Daily Briefing

Feb. 10 - Tensions are running high around the world right now, and rightly so. February is a bleak month. And yet I feel compelled to contribute to the general anxiety by reflecting on February's dismal history in drenching detail.

Bad Endings

King Richard II of England, who had been deposed in 1399, died "mysteriously" on February 14, 1400.

Timur Lenk (also known as Timur the Lame, Tamerlane, Tamberlaine, and Mr Tambourine Man) died "mysteriously" during an expedition to China on February 18, 1405.

King James I of Scotland was assassinated on February 21, 1437.

George, the English Duke of Clarence, was convicted of treason against his brother King Edward IV and murdered in the Tower of London on February 18, 1478.

On February 13, 1542, Henry VIII of England's Vth wife, Catherine Howard, was executed for adultery.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546.

On February 12, 1554, Lady (and former queen) Jane Grey was executed for high treason in England.

Michelangelo Buonarotti died on February 18, 1564.

Roman philosopher and mathematician Giordano Bruno was betrayed to the Inquisition and burned as a heretic on February 17, 1600.

Celebrated French dramatist and comedian Moliere collapsed on stage and died on February 17, 1673.

Captain James Cook was murdered in Hawaii on February 14, 1779.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant died on February 12, 1804.

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky died on February 9, 1881.

On February 13, 1883, German composer and posthumous Hitler idol Richard Wagner, best known for writing the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now, died. Almost exactly eleven years later (February 12, 1894), German pianist and composer, and the first husband of Wagner's wife Cosima, also died.

A bunch of Al Capone's thugs killed seven members of the Bugs Moran gang in a Chicago garage on February 14, 1929. (The infamous "Lupercalia Massacre.")

Nobel laureate Andre Gide died on February 19, 1951.

Congo's first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, was "mysteriously" murdered on February 12, 1961.

Malcolm X was murdered in New York on February 21, 1965.

The father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, died on February 18, 1967.

Theolonius Monk and Lee Strasberg died on February 17, 1982.

On February 22, 1987, Andy Warhol died.

Supreme Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping died on February 19, 1997.

Bad Beginnings

Michael Romanov was elected Tsar of Russia on February 21, 1613, beginning the oppressive Romanov line.

Napoleon Bonaparte established himself as the first consul in France on February 19, 1800.

On February 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as president of the Confederate States of America.

The U.S. battleship Maine blew up "mysteriously" in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, beginning the Spanish-American war.

Emperor Pu Yi of China's Manchu dynasty abdicated on February 12, 1912, allowing the establishment of a provisional republic under Sun Yat-sen, eventually causing Red China.

The German army launched an attack on Verdun on February 21, 1916; the battle would last nine months and claim over 970,000 lives.

Friedrich Ebert was elected the first president of the German Republic on February 11, 1919. President Ebert brought about the Weimar constitution that eventually resulted in Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy announced on February 9, 1950, that he had evidence that there were Communists in the State Department.

Fidel Castro was sworn in as the prime minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959.

Misplaced Optimism

On February 16, 1918, Lithuania proclaimed its independence from Russia. On February 9, 1929, the governments of Poland, Romania, Estonia, and Latvia signed a pact with Russia renouncing war. Exactly five years later, Romania signed a mutual defense agreement with Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey.

Total World War II death toll for these nine countries: 7,107,200.

Good News, Bad News

A bomb exploded in the dining room of St. Petersburg's Winter Palace on February 17, 1880. Tsar Alexander II survived.

George Stephanopoulos turns 42 today. He shares his birthday with Greg Norman (1955), Mark Spitz (1950), Roberta Flack (1939), Robert Wagner (1930), Lon Chaney (1905), Bertolt Brecht (1898), Jimmy Durante (1893), and Boris Pasternak (1890).

It's St. Paul's Shipwreck Day in Malta.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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