WEEKEND BRIEFING
What's in a Name?!?

Sept. 24 - It's one of those good news-bad news things.

The good news is, a reporter from the New York Times is doing a story on the bizarre Danish naming law and we were able to speak with her at some length yesterday about our particular saga. She came to our home and even brought a photographer—a Cowboys fan, but otherwise a decent guy—who got plenty of pictures of our still officially nameless daughter. Hopefully her story, enhanced by Molli's funny little mug, will appear in the Times in the near future, bringing our terrible plight the international attention it deserves. (Yeah, yeah, it's wedged a little into my cheek....)

Now to the bad news. The reporter and photographer had already met with some of the officials responsible for implementing the naming law, and although they didn't mention our case specifically to those nefarious powers, their impression of the way these laws are being enforced suggests that the Danish government is going to slap "Molli" down as a first name. They'll probably insist we go with "Mollie" or "Molly."

It all seems to boil down to spelling, which is apparently one of the ministry's pet peeves. (I don't know that it's actually a "ministry" that handles this, but I noticed Trine's recent letter was addressed to Kirkenministeriet, or "Ministry of the Church.") It's apparently the ministry's position that if a name is traditionally spelled a certain way, there's no sense in changing that spelling. The problem with "Molli" is that is not now, nor has it ever been, a traditional spelling in any culture, anywhere, in any era, ever. A quick Google search reveals less than 10 human beings and a handful of dogs named Molli, whereas there are uncountable thousands of Mollys and Mollies.

I originally began sharing this story because it seemed to be one of those cute, quirky things about Danish culture that warrant description. I now find myself quaking with indignation.

Indignation is neither humorous nor especially interesting, so I'll cut myself off right here and hope to recover over the weekend.

Yet Another Brilliant Idiot

On September 24, 1896, a young Minnesota woman gave birth to a depressive young alcoholic named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. The boy did badly in school and went to train for war in 1918. While training at Camp Sheridan in Alabama, he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the mentally unstable daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. The war ended before Fitzgerald could be sent overseas and shot, however, so he went to New York to become rich and famous.

He became neither, so Zelda broke off their engagement.

Fitzgerald then moved to Minnesota. A year later he became a famous writer. He moved to Connecticut, Zelda married him, and they became drunken celebrity wrecks.

They spent a lot of time in Europe. This lasted until Zelda went mad and Fitzgerald died.

Fitzgerald is best remembered for having said the rich were different, even though Hemingway made fun of him. Also, he wrote several books.

The Glorious Ninth

On September 25th, 1789, Congress proposed twelve amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Habeas Corpus Christi and Freedom from Unreasonably Surging Seashores were ultimately rejected but the other ten passed and have come to be known as the "Bill of Rights."

Each year, in honor of this important anniversary, I have chosen to celebrate my favorite amendment in the hopes that it may also soon be yours. I am speaking of the Ninth Amendment.

Like that of Beethoven, the Constitution's Ninth is the standard against which all others must be measured. Unlike Beethoven's, it doesn't climax with a resounding choral tribute to Joy (but that could be fixed).

Here is the ninth amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

This important amendment should not be neglected just because of some awkwardly placed commas.

Under the first amendment, for example, I have been given the right to say any stupid thing that pops into my head. (This should not be confused with the responsibility of doing so, which is reserved to journalists.) This is an enumerated right. My right not to have to listen to anyone else's idiotic opinion is not enumerated, but it's just as important.

In the second amendment, in order to preserve peace and order in the state, I have been granted the right to stockpile dangerous weapons. Unenumerated but no less important is my right not to be caught in the crossfire while you fire off a couple of clips at a Sunday School picnic.

Under the eighth amendment, I have the right not to be drawn and quartered, boiled in pitch, burned at the stake, or belittled by a British producer on national television. But this does not overrule your right to be entertained.

Let us all take a moment to give thanks to the Ninth Amendment, which preserves us not only from the tyranny of government, but the far more dangerous tyranny of one another.

He Packed Up His Bags and He Went Around the World...

On September 26, 1580, Francis Drake returned to Plymouth, England, ending a three-and-a-half year journey around the world. It was nearly four more centuries, however, before "The Beverly Hillbillies" premiered on CBS (on this day in 1962). The lengthy lapse between these watershed events has never been explained.

Birthdays & Holidays

Beside Fitzgerald, others born on the 24th include the prematurely dead trifecta of Phil Hartman (1948), Linda McCartney (1941), and Jim Henson (1936), as well as Anthony Newley (1931), Sheila MacRae (1924), and Jim McKay (1921).

The 25th is the birthday of Catherine Zeta-Jones (1969), Will Smith (1968), Scottie Pippen (1965), Heather Locklear (1961), Christopher Reeve (1952), Mark Hamill (1951), Cheryl Tiegs (1947), Michael Douglas (1944), Juliet Prowse (1936), Glenn Gould (1932), Barbara Walters (1931), and William Faulkner (1897).

The 26th is the birthday of Serena Williams (1981), Linda Hamilton (1956), Olivia Newton-John (1948), John Coltrane (1926), Julie London (1926), Jack LaLanne (1914), George Gershwin (1898), T.S. Eliot (1888), and John Chapman (1774).

The 24th is Heritage Day in South Africa and Republic Day in Trinidad and Tobago, but it's Bag Your Own Groceries Day in Lillislip, Minnesota, so you'll want to avoid grocery shopping in the North Star State.

The 25th is Flag Day in Cape Verde, Revolution Day in Mozambique, and Establishment of Republic Day in Rwanda.

The 26th is Constitution Day in Liechtenstein and Revolution Day in Yemen. It is not Skew Whiff Day in Australia.

Enjoy the weekend!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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