The Moron's Weekend Briefing

May 8 - I'll be in London Thursday through Sunday night, so the weekend briefing comes a little early this week.

I should mention that as part of the overhaul I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to start posting software I've written that you can download and use for free. The first application will be posted toward the middle of next week.

It's been invaluable to me since my arrival--I wrote it the first full day I was here and have used it almost every day since then. You just type in a number and hit enter, and it converts your value from inches to centimeters, centimeters to inches, grams to ounces, ounces to grams, Celsius to Fahrenheit, Fahrenheit to Celsius, cat-years to dog-years, and so on and so forth. If you're an American who's ever tried cooking or working out on this so-called "Metric" system, you're going to want a piece of that.

So come back and get it next week. (See how this works? After all these years I might finally be getting the hang of it.)

Until then, here's your regular dosage of weekend briefing...

* * *

I've been agitating to make May 9 a national holiday for a number of years but I haven't been getting anywhere. This is partly because I've only been agitating in after-hours bars where my audiences have been less than receptive, but I'm sure it's also the man trying to keep me down again.

The man should stop trying to keep me down. Even the man should appreciate the significance of May 9. On that date in 1960, Congress passed a piece of legislation that revolutionized our culture (if you're willing to grant that we have one). Unlike other important legislation, like Murphy's Law or the Law of Gravity, this was a law you could get excited about. This was a law you could love. This was the legalization of The Pill.

Interestingly, this legislative watershed came almost exactly twenty years after an important commercial innovation: on May 15, 1940, the first nylons went on sale.

1940, nylons. 1960, oral contraceptives. 1940-1960, the baby boom.

Any questions?

* * *

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill was sworn in as British Prime Minister. He is best known for having been the most Churchillian leader ever. Three days after being sworn in, however, he told parliament that he could offer only "blood, toil, tears, and sweat." This was eventually deemed satisfactory by a palpably disappointed parliament, but only after he agreed to be fitted with an IV.

On May 10, 1871, France and Germany signed a peace treaty in which France had to give up a lot of land (Alsace-Lorraine) to Germany. They weren't happy about it, so after World War I they took it back. In the second World War the Germans reclaimed it. After the war the victorious allies held it briefly but decided not to get involved. They gave it back to France, where it remains to this day.

On May 11, 1949, Siam changed its name to Thailand, because everyone was getting tired of those jokes where one guy would say, "Are you familiar with this place?" and the other guy would go "Yeah, Siam," and the first guy would go, "You gonna tell me where we are?" and the other guy would be like, "Yes! Siam!" and it would go on and on and they'd never give it a rest. Had anyone foreseen the glut of restaurants trading on the new name, however--Beau Thai, Thai One On, etc--they might still be called Siam.

May 8 is the birthday of Melissa Gilbert (1964), Toni Tennille (1943), Don Rickles (1926), and Harry S. Truman (1884). It's Liberation Day in Norway and the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Armistice Day in France.

May 9 is the birthday of Tony Gwynn (1960), Billy Joel (1949), Candice Bergen (1946), James L. Brooks (1940), Albert Finney (1936), Mike Wallace (1918), and Howard Carter (1873). It's Victory Day in Croatia, Russia, and Ukraine, as well as Flag Day in Germany.

May 10 is the birthday of one-name wonders Bono (1960) and Donovan (1946), as well as Pat Summerall (1930), David O. Selznick (1902), and Fred Astaire (1899). It's Constitution Day in Micronesia and Inauguration Day in South Africa.

May 11 is the birthday of Louis Farrakhan (1933), Salvador Dali (1904), and Irving Berlin (1888), and it's Mother's Day in the U.S. and Minnesota Day in Minnesota.

Enjoy the weekend.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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