The Moron's Daily Briefing

May 5 - Today is Cinco de Mayo ("The Fourth of July") in Mexico. It doesn't appear to be a significant holiday here in Denmark, which may have something to do with the lack of Mexican nationals here. Denmark is so quick to honor every holiday that drifts by, however, that I suspect there may be sinister forces at play in their Cinco de Mayo snub. Perhaps they still object to Mexican Independence. Maybe they believe that if the Habsburgs had held on to Mexico just a little longer, Austria wouldn't have been eclipsed by Prussia and Schleswig-Holstein never would have been ceded to Bismarck.

Who knows?

The DMB thinks it may have something to do with May 5 being Liberation Day in Denmark (and the Netherlands)--a fact also responsible for the candles burning in windows across the nation last night. Perhaps.

The lack of Mexicans here has other unfortunate side effects, such as a shortage of Mexican restaurants in Copenhagen. There's actually a "Mexican" restaurant around the corner from me, but their idea of a burrito is a garden salad wrapped in a tortilla. As a five-year veteran of Los Angeles with a further ten years spent in heavily Latinized neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, I'm having to make a serious adjustment.

In fact, a lot of my favorite ethnic foods don't seem to exist here, or to exist in some kind of weird Danish parallel universe. We ate at a Chinese place Friday night, for example, and ordered spring rolls as an appetizer. The DMB had to explain to the puzzled waiter that we wanted to have the appetizer before the rest of the meal, not with it.

When the spring rolls arrived they looked like eggrolls so I asked for hot mustard. Our waitress, neither Chinese nor Danish but apparently some flavor of Eastern European--and about as fluent in Danish and Chinese as I am--didn't understand what mustard was in English or Danish. The waiter (for some reason there were two of them waiting on us, although we were the only patrons) understood what it was, but seemed flabbergasted that we should want any. He advised me to put some hot chili oil paste on my spring roll instead. So I did.

It worked. I will now put hot chili oil paste on anything I can. I may begin brushing my teeth with it. It's probably also useful as an adhesive.

There is one peculiarity of the Danish language I feel like mentioning because it's only just come to my attention and the novelty may wear off soon. It's their numbering of tens, which is based on twenties. Their word for sixty, for example, is actually an abbreviation of "three times twenty." Fair enough. Seventy is "three and a half times twenty," which is a little awkward but makes enough sense. Eighty, naturally, is "four times twenty," but the world is turned upside-down with their word for ninety, the literal translation of which is "five and a half times twenty."

Granted I'm a moron, but even using a calculator to double-check my math I can't come up with any way of converting five-and-a-half twenties into a ninety. It's 110 pretty much any way I cut it.

I'm assuming there must be a Danish Math, some Scandinavian variant of the New Math (which was never properly explained to me anyway). In this Danish Math, twenties reproduce in new and unexpected ways. It makes mathematics more interesting, if a little less consistent, and it certainly takes some of the luster off Nils Bohr.

It's Karl Marx's birthday (1818). Other celebrants include Tina Yothers (1973), Tammy Wynette (1942), and Tyrone Power (1913).

Today is also Europa Day in the EU, Children's Day in Japan, Mother's Day in Lithuania, Senior Citizens' Day in Palau, and Coronation Day, Thailand.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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