DAILY BRIEFING
Just Desserts

Jul. 8 - Sorry for the lack of a briefing yesterday. I was busy. It happens. But I had an interesting trip up to northwest Sjślland on Sunday and will try to blog that out a little in tomorrow's briefing.

Just Desserts

July 8 was a Sunday in 1881, so when a hot young man entered Edward Berner's drugstore in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and ordered an ice-cream soda, his request was denied. Ice-cream sodas could not be served on the Sabbath owing to the ancient Mosaic injunction against them.

The hot young man pleaded his case so eloquently, however, that Berner felt sympathetic and came up with a compromise: he plopped a scoop of ice-cream into a dish and poured the chocolate-flavored syrup directly over it.

This religious dodge quickly became popular and came to be known as the Ice Cream Sunday. (The spelling was later changed to conceal the heretical origins of the dish.) Since that glorious day, hundreds of millions of Americans have consigned themselves to Hell.

I've reported this story previously without touching on some of the theological points it raises, but they're troubling. If I had serious religious convictions, for example, I don't know that I'd think it was quite so easy to pull one over on God. If God didn't want me to enjoy an ice-cream soda on the Sabbath, could I really "trick" him by calling it a sundae?

And if I could—well, is that any kind of a God?

Such thoughts must have tormented poor Edward Berner, and probably torment him to this very day—in Hell.

Peter the Hermit

Peter the Hermit died on this day in 1115. Peter is notable for his invention of The Crusades. He whipped up support for the first Crusade as an attempt to dislodge the Seljuk Turks from Jerusalem: over three hundred thousand Christians perished in less than a year, during which they destroyed hundreds of villages throughout Europe and Asia Minor and killed tens of thousands of European Jews and fellow Christians on their way to a holy land they never reached. As a result of this astonishing success, the Crusades were serialized and ran for several centuries.

The Modern Age

The crank-operated machine gun was patented on this date in 1856 by C.E. Barnes of Lowell, Massachusetts, and the revolving gun turret was invented exactly six years later by Theodore Timby. Both inventions enabled mankind to kill itself off with unprecedented ease and efficiency, thereby launching the modern era.

The first smallpox vaccine was administered on this date in 1800. Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (no relation to Price) of Massachusetts administered the vaccination of cowpox serum to his five-year-old son Daniel and a household servant. Neither ever contracted smallpox and the vaccination was determined to have been an udder success.

Today is the birthday of Kevin Bacon (1958), Anjelica Huston (1951), and both Nelson (1908) and John D. (1839) Rockefeller.

© 2003, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]