WEEKEND BRIEFING
Swede Nothings

Aug. 6 - Today we begin Week 39 of the pregnancy. The Literature informs us:

It is really neat to examine all of the changes that take place in your body as the pregnancy continues... Your baby will descend into your pelvis, sometimes called engagement or lightening, usually before labor in first time moms and during labor in subsequent births.

So much, alas, for the Literature. Saturday will mark Molli's fifth full week of existence, and it's still two weeks until her original due date. She continues to thrive and amaze. She passed the 3-kilo (6.6 pound) mark earlier this week and is beginning to develop healthy little rolls of fat around her arms, legs, and neck. She has the distended belly of a middle-aged hillbilly drunk. In the five weeks since her birth, she has increased her bodyweight by 50-60%.

Yesterday marked several milestones for little Molli Malou, the most impressive of which was her first (and quite authoritative) demonstration of projectile vomiting. Her curiosity was also finally piqued by the big box in the television that changes colors and makes sounds, and she entertained herself for nearly half an hour with a mirror before giving herself a terrible fright and turning away from the horrifying creature on the other side of the glass.

At 1 o'clock this afternoon (Friday), we take her in to the hospital for a thorough check-up. If all signs are good, and we have no reason to think they aren't, she will be officially discharged from the hospital. We will no longer be "leasing" our daughter from the hospital. We will own her outright.

And as grateful as I am to the place, I hope never again to set foot in Hvidovre Hospital.

Your regular almanack follows...

Swede Nothings

August 8 is the Queen's Name Day in Sweden and the 29th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation as President of the United States. Because this is an American Almanac, I have opted to ridicule foreign pomp rather than pick at domestic scars. Today's briefing will therefore instruct the reader on the curious institution of the Swedish Monarchy.

The current Queen of Sweden is Queen Silvia. She is married to King Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus, of the Bernadotte Dynasty. They have three children: Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine.

Since 1974, the Swedish Constitution has ruled that succession in the royal family should go not to the eldest male heir, but the eldest heir of either sex. Victoria is therefore the Crown Princess and will some day be Queen.

It is difficult for someone as antipathetic to the institution of monarchy and as apprehensive of the nefarious Swedes as I am to behold the young and lovely Crown Princess. It is difficult to think of her as the "titular head of state" without blushing.

Every crowned head of Sweden has been permitted to select his or her own motto for the period of their reign. These mottos provide an abstract history of the forces at work on and within the Swedish monarchy, and are easier to review than actual events, people, or political papers.

The practice apparently began in 1523, with Gustav Vasa selecting the motto, "All Power is of God." His successor, Erik XIV, elaborated further that "God Gives to Whom He will."

The first Swedish monarch to ditch God from the motto was Sigismund (1592-1599), whose optimistic phrase was "For Justice and the People." This from a king who wanted to rule Sweden from Poland, and was finally repelled by force of arms. (He continued as king of Poland until 1632.) The next two mottos were "In God I Trust" and "With God and Arms Victorious," the latter coming from Sweden's first legless king, Gustav II Albert.

The next Godless motto came from the celebrated Queen Kristina (1632-1654), who proclaimed (probably sarcastically) that "Wisdom is the Prop of the Realm." She abdicated in 1654 and dashed around Europe on a white horse, wearing men's clothing and studying philosophy. It was nearly a hundred years before anyone else chose a motto that didn't mention God.

During that period, mottos included "In God My Destiny - He Shall Perform It," "The Lord is Become My Defender," "With God's Help," and "In God My Hope" (twice).

Adolf Frederik, who ruled from 1751 to 1771, reigned with the secular motto, "The Prosperity of the State my Felicity." His successor was more nationalist, choosing "The Fatherland." In 1792, God made his last appearance in the Swedish motto, and one can sense the changing political tide implicit in Gustav IV Adolf's "God and the People." His successor, Karl XIII, chose "The Good of the People my Supreme Law." In subsequent mottos the so-called People received all the obsequeties previously reserved for the deity, only to be gradually supplanted by Law, Truth, and Duty through the middle of the last century.

The current king's motto is "With the Times," an interesting variation on Rudy Giuliani's former motto, "With the Post."

Bits & Pieces

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. August 6 is also noted historically as the official end of the Holy Roman empire, which collapsed on that date in 1806.

The German spy Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was born on August 7, 1876. She was executed by the French on October 14, 1917. There was not much actual evidence of espionage, but she had been seen naked with German officers and the French found this distasteful enough to kill her.

Louis Leakey was also born on August 7, but in 1903. Mr Leakey was a prominent British archeologist who discovered that either mankind was much older than had previously been supposed or that mankind had not actually been mankind but some other kind instead. The archeological world was convulsed for decades by arguments over what to name this strange new species and the struggle drove Mr Leakey to become a spy for the British government and cheat on his wife (though seldom simultaneously).

Birthdays & Holidays

August 6 is Independence Day in both Bolivia and the Central African Republic. It's the birthday of Jon Benet Ramsey (1990), David Robinson (1965), Andy Warhol (1928), Robert Mitchum (1917), and Lucille Ball (1911).

August 7 is Battle of Boyaca Day in Colombia and Independence Day in the Ivory Coast. It's the birthday of Charlize Theron (1975), David Duchovny (1960), Garrison Keillor (1942), Stan Freberg (1926), and Billie Burke (1884).

August 8 is the birthday of Donny Most (1953), Keith Carradine (1949), Connie Stevens (1938), Dustin Hoffman (1937), Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (1927), and Esther Williams (1923).

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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