The Bloody Bistro

Oct. 10 - Howard Dean sucks.

He's the worst presidential candidate to impose his self-righteous ass on the American public in the history of our republic. Howard Dean is a pestilence. I wouldn't want to see that gaseous windbag elected as president of my high school chess club, much less the United States of America. I could go on. And believe me, in the days and weeks ahead I probably will.

But why? Wherefore this sudden heedless plunge into partisan politics?

Because of one little paragraph that appeared October 8th in The Hill:

"Dean has done other things to maximize his online fundraising punch, like reinvesting money into expanding donor lists and paying 'bloggers' or professional Internet surfers to keep the enthusiasm up on his website."

This blogger has steered altogether clear of presidential politics until now. But effective immediately, I'm waging a one-man war on Howard Dean—until I get a piece of that sweet, sweet pie. (Attention Dean campaign: I'll want to be paid in Euros or Danish Kroner.)

* * *

It's going to be an exciting weekend. We're going to a 15-year-old's birthday party on Saturday—my first Danish birthday party! During that party the Danish national soccer team is playing Romania in a match that could clinch the Danes qualification for next year's European Cup. On Sunday we get a sneak peak of the new Metro station opening right around the corner—Solbjerg station, I think. Or Sjolberg. Anyway, they're opening the station and I think we can even get a free ride on the train. Very exciting.

So there'll plenty of Danish stuff to talk about Monday, in addition to more invective against that bloviating scumbag Dean. For now, though, I'd just like to share yet another story I like to revisit every year: the Parable of the Bloody Bistro. It goes like this:

The Parable of the Bloody Bistro

You're hanging out with a friend, catching each other up on your busy lives, when he suddenly exclaims, "Oh! I found the greatest little French restaurant!" (Remember, this is a parable, so it doesn't have to be French or a restaurant—it could be a remote golf course, a cool bookstore, a cozy little bar, a crack house, anything.)

Whether or not you actually care, you feign interest because this person is your friend and, God knows, we all have to feign for our friends. And our friends, being our friends, usually know that we're feigning. It doesn't bother them any more than it bothers us. So they go on:

"Julie and I wound up in a new part of town the other night, and we were both starving, and we stumbled into this fantastic French bistro."

(All right, your friend is David and Julie's his girlfriend. You probably never really liked Julie, but that's beside the point. David's trying to communicate. Give the poor guy a chance.)

"The service was spectacular, the place was elegant but casual—very romantic. The food was out of this world, the wine was exquisite, the service exemplary, and it was still the cheapest dinner I've had in years."

(David's always using words like spectacular and exquisite and exemplary, but stifle your nausea just a little longer. He needs to get this off his chest.)

"We couldn't believe our luck. I mean, we found it by accident—made a wrong turn off Bridge Street, and there it was. What a discovery!"

He's waiting for you to prompt him. Nod. Good. Smile. Very good.

"Well, you know me. I'm not about to walk away from a discovery like that. You know what we did? I asked the waiter to introduce us to the owner. When she came to our table, I distracted her while Julie snuck up from behind with a steak knife and slit her throat. We herded the wait staff into the walk-in, locked them in, painted our names on the sign in front of the restaurant, and now it's all ours!"

Don't be too hard on David... he's only following the historical precedent set by Christopher Columbus, who "discovered" the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.

Don't get me wrong. I admire Columbus, but it seems to me that in calling his conquest of the Bahamas a "discovery" we do grave injury to the indigineous peoples of that island nation, and still graver injury to the English language. David and Julie didn't discover their French restaurant—they stumbled across it. They liked it. They took it.

A few centuries ago there was nothing shameful in that kind of behavior. Anyone who's ever studied Latin or done a couple of crossword puzzles knows that Caesar even bragged about it. "I came, I saw, I conquered," he said. He certainly didn't say, "I came, I saw, I spread the beneficent light of western civilization into hitherto benighted cesspools of squalor."

That's because for most of human history there were only three types of territory: places you could take, places that could take you, and places you weren't so sure about.

So instead of praising Columbus for his discovery, or damning him for his conquest, it might be more appropriate simply to recognize him as history's most aggressive tourist.

The wave of aggressive European tourists that followed Columbus is often criticized for having brought war and pestilence to the primeval bliss of the Americas. This is unfair. The New World wasn't some happy little Eden of loving gentlefolk sitting around the campfire and eating s'mores. It was a bloody killing field for competing empires. just like Europe, and Asia, and Africa. War and pestilence already existed throughout the New World; her peoples just hadn't yet become sophisticated enough to commercialize them. Human history is just the side-effect of our gradually improving ability to kill one another. Aggressive European tourists helped the budding civilizations of the New World acquire in decades what it had taken Western Civilization centuries to develop on its own.

Where's the gratitude?

* * *

On October 12, 1960, at a U.N. general assembly, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev pounded his desk with his shoe. This resulted in the popular stereotype of the Soviet Dictator who pounds his desk with his shoe.

Many Soviet Dictators did not pound their desks with their shoes.

Also worth noting: On October 11, 1899, the Bores of South Africa declared war on Great Britain in the hopes of generating Interest.

On October 10, 1911, the Chinese revolution began in Hankow. The revolution spread rapidly, resulting in the abdication of six-year-old Henry Pu-Yi, the Academy Award-winning "Last Emperor" of China. On the same day, the Panama Canal was officially opened, resulting in a popular palindrome. No palindrome was developed for the Chinese revolution, and this would later result in civil war.

On October 11, 1976, the Gang of Four were arrested in Peking.

Birthdays and Holidays

October 10 is the birthday of Brett Favre (1969), Tanya Tucker (1958), David Lee Roth (1955), Ben Vereen (1946), Harold Pinter (1930), Thelonious Monk (1917), Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1924), Helen Hayes (1900), Giuseppe Verdi (1813), and Henry Cavendish (1731).

October 11 is the birthday of Steve Young (1961), Elmore Leonard (1925), Jerome Robbins (1918), Eleanor Roosevelt (1884), and Henry John Heinz (1844).

October 12 is the birthday of Kirk Cameron (1970), Susan Anton (1950), Luciano Pavarotti (1935), and Dick Gregory (1932).

October 10 is also Alexis Kivi's Birthday, which happens to be a national holiday in Finland, and Double Ten Day in China and Taiwan, which presumably has something to do with the aforementioned revolution.

Canadians foolishly celebrate Thanksgiving on October 11, a full five to six weeks before the holiday actually occurs. It's also the date of Revolution Day in Panama and Flag Day in Uzbekistan.

October 12 is Dia de la Raza in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. But it's Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Independence Day in Equatorial Guinea, and Columbus Day in the US (see above; observance varies).

Enjoy the weekend!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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