WEEKEND BRIEFING
Julebryg

Nov. 9 - At 8:59 pm this evening, kegs of julebryg ("Christmas Brew") will be tapped all over Denmark. This means I'll have something interesting to write about on Monday—assuming the computer makes it that long. Meanwhile, here's recycled crap from Almanacs past....

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sklodowski?

Maria Sklodowski was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867. Poland was controlled by Russia at the time, so Maria was referred to as Manya, causing her mother to die. This left Manya and her four older siblings in care of their father, who was caught teaching Polish and therefore prohibited from earning money.

To help support her father, Manya began tutoring a family in the country outside Warsaw. Her sister Bronya moved to Paris to study medicine and become a famous doctor, so Manya sent her money, too. This allowed Bronya to marry another medical student and begin practicing medicine in Paris.

Bronya and her husband invited Manya to live with them in Paris and study at the Sorbonne, where she could call herself Marie. This appealed to the young woman, who quickly earned master's degrees in physics and mathematics. She enjoyed Paris so much she couldn't bear to return to Poland, and to understand her attraction to Paris she began a study of magnetism.

To conduct her magnetism research she needed a larger lab, however, so she married a Frenchman named Pierre and used his.

One of Pierre's friends had been experimenting with uranium, which piqued Marie's curiosity. She began experimenting with it herself, and ultimately discovered something she called "radio-activity." This eventually led to her discovery of radium, for which she received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911.

Marie Curie's research would eventually culminate in the development of the atomic bomb, but unfortunately she died before having the opportunity to see the full flowering of her hard work.

The Original Little Tramp

On November 8, 1923, a general assembly of the Bavarian government began a meeting at a Munich beer hall at approximately 8:00 pm. At about 8:45 pm, the meeting was disrupted by a man in "a baggy, black suit that made him look like a waiter." The man leaped onto a table, fired a couple of shots into the ceiling, then forced his way onto the platform.

"The national revolution has begun!" he shouted.

Having gained everyone's attention, the strange little man announced that six hundred of his own men had the beer hall surrounded (they didn't), that the national and Bavarian governments had been taken (they hadn't), that the military and police barracks had been occupied (they weren't), and that he'd like a word or two in private with the three Bavarian leaders on the platform if it wouldn't be too inconvenient (it wasn't).

Once in a private room, the stranger informed the trio that he'd welcome their participation in his new government. They expressed no interest. He waved his revolver in their faces, but still they demurred. He held the pistol to his own head, then realized this wasn't very persuasive and simply returned to the general hall to announce that the leaders were behind him.

A little later, a prominent Bavarian general arrived at the beer hall and announced his support for the stranger. At this point the three leaders were released from their private room, and they too were suddenly in support of the little stranger. Feeling pretty swell about all this support, the stranger left the beer hall briefly to quell a dispute among some of his men outside the hall.

By the time he returned, he found that the three leaders had left the beer hall and were hastily making the rounds in Munich, retracting what they'd been forced to say. The stranger became apoplectic. He and the Bavarian general then came up with a contingency plan: they would gather some men and storm the government the following morning, November 9.

And so they did. Eighteen of their followers and four Bavarian policemen were killed in the conflict. Two days later, the stranger was arrested at the home of a friend, where he'd been hiding. Ten years later, the evil wingnut bastard was elected Chancellor of Germany.

Et Cetera

Marie Curie shares her November 7 birthday with Dana Plato (1964), Joni Mitchell (1943), Al Hirt (1922), and Billy Graham (1918). The 7th is Revolution Day in Bulgaria, the Queen's Birthday in Nepal, October Revolution Day in Russia, and Ben Ali Takeover Anniversary in Tunisia.

November 8 birthdays include Parker Posey (1968), Mary Hart (1951), Bonnie Raitt (1949), Morley Safer (1931), Patti Page (1927), Esther Rolle (1920), and Margaret Mitchell (1900).

November 9 birthdays: Sisqo (1978), Nick Lachey (1973), Lou Ferrigno (1951), Tom Fogerty (1941), Mary Travers (1936), Carl Sagan (1934), Spiro Agnew (1918), Hedy Lamarr (1913). The 9th is Thanksgiving Day in Liberia (some years), Independence Day in Cambodia, and Flag Day in Dominica.

Enjoy the weekend—or die trying.

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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