The Moron's Daily Briefing

May 1 - May 1 is recognized as May Day pretty much everywhere but the United States, Canada, and South Africa. Modern May Day celebrations throughout the world typically feature huge outdoor gatherings of people, brightly colored signs and banners, and a whole lot of tear gas.

The holiday has its root in the American labor movement of the 1880s, specifically the Haymarket tragedy of 1886. Depending on whom you ask, the Haymarket tragedy was either caused by overzealous cops with way too many guns, or overzealous anarchists with way too many bombs (i.e., one).

Actually, it no longer matters whom you ask, because all eyewitnesses would give you pretty much the same answer (i.e., none).

Either way, nervous, well-armed cops and edgy, bomb-throwing anarchists are not a combination one encounters often in the annals of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, Americans ignore May Day and instead celebrate Labor Day, which features plenty of beer and barbecues and very little tear gas. We may be complacent, but dammit, we know what to do with a steak.

I'll be looking in on Copenhagen's communist extravaganza during my lunch hour, and will provide the stellar analysis you've come to expect from other websites in tomorrow's briefing. (Unless it's raining, because although I'm a curious moron I'm not a complete idiot, which is what I'd have to be to stand in the rain watching a bunch of affluent, educated folks celebrate an ideology that killed tens of millions of their fellow Europeans in the last century. Of course, they're probably not celebrating Communism so much as enjoying the day off, but I'd like to confirm that visually and with beer.)

I should also take a moment to celebrate an accomplishment of my own that I achieved yesterday afternoon: I walked into a store, asked for a couple of rolls and some cheese, paid for them, thanked the merchant, and left--without the use of English or pantomime.

It was an extraordinary moment for me, one that I'm sure I'll cherish the rest of my life. Am I lowering my expectations a wee bit too low? Possibly. But if a middle-aged guy is willing to count a visit to the bakery as a personal triumph, what kind of sick bastard would take that away from him?


On May 1, 1961, Cuban leader Fidel Castro decided things were going along so well that he absolved the Cuban people of ever having to go through all the bother of another election. Only last week he arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned a throng of leading Cuban intellectuals and journalists for their efforts to confuse the people of Cuba by promoting dangerous talk of rights, liberties, and other destabilizing principles.

On Monday, Cuba was reelected to membership on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

On May 1, 1915, a thoughtful German government took out advertisements warning anyone on ships flying British flags that they did so at their own risk. That very day, the oceanliner Lusitania left New York, flying a British flag.

You do the math.

It's Kate Smith's birthday. She'd have been 94 today. It's also the birthday of Rita Coolidge (1945), Judy Collins (1939), Terry Southern (1924), Jack Paar (1918), and Glenn Ford (1916).

Today is not only May Day, but also the Pagan holiday of Beltane, Flag Day in Austria, Patriots Victory Day in Ethiopia, and Constitution Day in the Marshall Islands.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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