DAILY BRIEFING
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Aug. 17 - Yesterday was Monday, August 16. No almanac appeared yesterday. This is despite the fact that an almanac had in fact been fully prepared for yesterday. The ugly truth is that I forgot to post it.

Today's bloggish almanac appears below. Some of it is from yesterday. Some of it's fresh from this morning. It doesn't matter which is which. As James Thurber once moralized fabulously (is that usage allowed?), "Don't get it write—just get it written."

* * *

Saturday was busy and uninteresting until evening rolled around. We decided we'd take Molli out to dinner in Tivoli.

And so we experienced Molli's first ride on the Metro, Molli's first ride on the S-Train, Molli's first appearance in central Copenhagen, Molli's first visit to Tivoli, and so on. I tried to take pictures of each and every first. Midway through the evening I realized I'd become ridiculous. Would there really come a day when I'd cherish photographs of Molli's carriage parked in various parts of Tivoli?

I suppose there might be—I can get pretty sentimental when it comes to things like parked baby carriages. Be that as it may, I have to overcome the urge to photograph every goddam thing our daughter does. No, that's not technically true: I don't have to overcome my itchy photo finger, because the beauty of digital photography is that I can shoot as many pictures as I want without having to pay a penny for film or development. The problem is that I shoot dozens of photos at every opportunity because I know I'll have the ability to delete the bad ones. Later, when I've uploaded them onto my computer and I'm reviewing them on my monitor, my moral courage fails me. It feels like a crime against nature to delete a photograph of my daughter. Yeah, it's blurry, and you can't really tell if it's her head or her ass sticking up from under the blanket—assuming that's a blanket—but hey it's Molli, and won't I always cherish every photograph of this miraculous child?

You think I'm joking? Look at this:

Important photodocumentary evidence of Molli's existence.

It's such a terrible photograph on so many levels—it's compositionally awkward, the lighting is awful, there's a blurry, disembodied hand interjecting itself into the frame, and all you can see of Molli is a crescent-shaped smear between her hat and her blanket. And yet I cannot bring myself to delete it. My hard drive has room for about 40,000 more photographs at the moment. What if there was a crime being committed in the background, and someday my photo is the only evidence on earth that can convict the perp? Would I really want a perp to walk free just because I wanted a clutter-free hard-drive? What if someday twenty years from now Trine and I befriend a couple and we get to talking and one of them says, "We used to hang out a lot at Tivoli back in '04..." Wouldn't it be cool to look through all the backgrounds of all my Tivoli pictures to see if we could find them? But these are just hypotheticals. The larger argument remains: with storage so cheap, why delete anything? If you owned a big empty room the size of the Super Dome, would you ever throw anything away? Wouldn't you be much more likely to say, "Well, the chair's only got three legs left, and the paint's all peeling, and I get splinters in my ass every time I sit in it—but maybe there'll be a really cold winter one of these days, and I'll need the kindling."

Maybe that's the real problem... maybe in this world of unlimited virtual storage, there are no costs associated with being a virtual pack rat. On the other hand, why should there be costs? Why shouldn't we all have our entire lives chronicled to the extent that not a moment of our lives passes without photographic testament? It was Plato himself, I think, that said the unexamined life wasn't worth living. Plato would approve of my pathological photography.

And that's the main thing, isn't it?

* * *

Do you know who defeated the Spanish Armada? Was it Christopher Columbus? Horatio Hornblower? How about Gandalf?

If you thought it was any of those three, you're in good company—well, at least you're in company. It gets better: "15 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds thought the Orangemen were celebrating [each July 12] victory at Helmsdeep, the fictional battle that marked the climax of The Two Towers, the second novel in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy."

I don't know who the Orangemen were, or are, or why they're orange—are they related to Oompa-Loompas?—but I don't think I'm supposed to. This was a British survey, which is nice because it suggests American students aren't the only morons out there. It's good to know our British peers are just as wildly misinformed.

Two things bother me about these kinds of surveys, though. First, they don't seem to take the possibility of youthful prankishness into account. I might have chosen Gandalf myself, even if I knew the right answer, just as a joke. Secondly, you never see anyone correlate these results with other survey data. We're often told that 20% of Americans can't find Europe on a map, or think John Wayne was the first governor of Texas, or think the Roman Empire was based in Japan. How do such figures correlate to political beliefs? If I know that 20% of the electorate thinks Gandalf defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Helmsdeep, for example, I can't help wondering what those 20% of likely voters are going to do with their ballots this November. Fold them into paper hats? Or what?

You know why we don't get those correlations? Because people are afraid. But things are getting so nasty out there—they're always nasty out there, they're just getting more efficient with their nastiness—that I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing surveys like, "64% of Candidate X supporters believe Germany defeated in Korean War."

* * *

This is why I wonder about the wisdom of putting anyone's security in the hands of the UN. Until it's possible to stop a heavily-armed murderous mob by dialoguing them into a state of stupefaction, you probably want real soldiers looking out for you.

* * *

Some fun mail came in over the weekend:

...Being an old mother is the reason I am contacting you. (That just sounds bad, doesn't it??) I read of your plight (if indeed you consider it one) in today's (Aug. 13th) copy of the Almanac and am here to tell you--been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt and left.

My husband and I are still in the process of raising 6 children (fabulous children, by the way) and have run into the "everything's pink" problem on several occasions, namely when the aforementioned children began actually doing the laundry. I felt the need to just mention...bleach! For those things that began as white things, there's nothing quite like it. Warning: too much bleach can wreak havoc on elastic...

It's embarrassing to acknowledge, but we hadn't actually thought of trying bleach. We'll get to it later this week. I'll be sure to let you know how badly we damage our clothing.

* * *

My grandmother turned 90 yesterday. She shares her birthday with Angela Bassett (1958), Madonna (1958), James Cameron (1954), Eydie Gorme (1932), Charles Bukowski (1920), and Menachem Begin (1913).

Madonna, my grandmother, and Charles Bukowski. There's a dinner party!

Today is the birthday of Sean Penn (1960), Robert De Niro (1943), V.S. Naipul (1932), Jiang Zemin (1926), Maureen O'Hara (1920), and Mae West (1892).

August 16 was Assumption Day in Acadia, National Restoration Day in the Dominican Republic, and Franz Josef II's Birthday in Liechtenstein.

August 17 is Jose de San Martin's Death Day in Argentina, and Independence Day in both Gabon and Indonesia.

Happy Tuesday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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