Citizen Molli

Nov. 19 - We're taking Molli to the American embassy in a couple of hours. It's an appointment we made months ago. We're putting in her claim for American citizenship, applying simultaneously for an American Social Security Number and an American passport. It's strange to think she's not at all American right now. It's strange to think of my own daughter as a another lousy goddam foreigner.

But only for a few more hours!

(Molli will enjoy, or at least have, dual citizenship until she's either eighteen or has completed her undegraduate studies in Denmark, at which point—if current laws persist—she'll have to choose between being a Danish or American citizen. American law would allow to her to retain dual citizenship for life. Danish law doesn't permit dual nationality.)

I requested this appointment several months ago and was pretty annoyed when they offered this late date as the "first available" appointment. After I got off the phone, however, I reviewed the required documentation from the embassy's website, and began to wonder if it was actually enough time.

Technically what we're applying for is a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad." The documentation requirements are staggering. You'd think we were applying for permission to borrow Air Force One.

And yet, in fairness to my beloved homeland, I ought to mention that this mountain of documentation still pales beside the paperwork I had to submit when applying for Danish residency. Among other requirements, that application asked me to list every single job I've had in my life. From paper-routes and restaurant kitchens in my hometown right up until the day I submitted the application. So I did. And I wish I'd kept a copy, because I agonized over that list. It had forced me to reflect on things I hadn't thought about in decades. Was my paper-route out on Marblehead Neck before or after my paper-route around Devereaux Beach? When was I promoted from dishwasher to prep-cook at Michael's House Restaurant? Which summer did I work as a caddy, '78 or '79? Did I really ever work as a caddy? On a golf course? For a whole summer? Or was that someone else. . .?

I've digressed myself completely off track. I have no idea how to pull this one back together. And so, our rendezvous with the American bureaucracy drawing nearer and nearer, I turn you over to the usual Almanackal idiocy.

Postal Milestones

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. The speech remains an important part of American history on account of its having been written on the back of an envelope despite stringent postal requirements that addresses be printed clearly on the front.

Hard Rock

On November 19, 1620, a group of maniacal religious fanatics reached North America and stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock. (Although today, Plymouth Rock would land on them.) Because America did not yet have a Puritan Government, they developed the Mayflower Compact while still at sea. (William Bradford had argued for a Sporty Coupe, but the more practical John Alden had carried the day.)

Eventually the descendants of these frugal and passionately religious people would invent the Internet and enable the transmission of pornography around the world at light speed.

American Expansion

Thirty-seven years ago the 20th, the United States census reported that the nation's population had passed 200 million for the first time. A couple of years ago it stood around 289 million.

That's a 45% increase.

If that trend continues—and, like all trends, it must—then there will be 419 million Americans in another 35 years. At this rate, in just 805 years—roughly the amount time elapsed since the signing of the Magna Carta, or just a little longer than the average dental visit—there will be one trillion Americans.

Unfortunately, trends also tell us that for every trillion Americans, 149 million would die each year in car accidents.

I remind all my readers to drive carefully.

Enough Said

On November 21, 1921, U.S. President Warren G. Harding signed the Wills Campbell Act, which prohibited the medical prescription of beer and liquor.

He was assassinated two years later.

Because He Said So

Jean Francois Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) was born on this day in 1694. Voltaire is best known for having said things. Here are some of the witty things he said:

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."

"Anything too stupid to be said is sung."

"God created sex. Priests created marriage."

"It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge."

"He was unhappy only when he thought: and that is true of the majority of mankind."

And most significantly:

"A witty saying proves nothing."

(Voltaire did not, however, write that "Mankind shall never be free until the last king is strangled in the entrails of the last priest." I've made that mistaken attribution many times. I have now learned that those were in fact the words of Denis Diderot, an altogether different, although equally snarky, Frenchman.)

One Thing Leads to Another

On November 20, 1974—thirty years ago this weekend—the U.S. government filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. Exactly four years later, "Reverend" Jim Jones led his followers in a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. Coincidence, or what?

Birthdays & What Not

The 19th is Garifuna Day in Belize, Flag Day in Brazil, Coup d'Etat Day in Mali, Prince Rainier's Birthday in Monaco, and Discovery Day in Puerto Rico.

Kerri Strug turns 27 on the 19th. The feisty gymnast shares her birthday with Jodie Foster (1962), Meg Ryan (1961), Calvin Klein (1942), Ted Turner (1938), Dick Cavett (1936), Larry King (1933), Indira Gandhi (1917), Tommy Dorsey (1905), James Garfield (1831), and King Charles I of England (1600).

Most of Bo Derek turns 48 on the 20th. Her organic parts share their birthday with Veronica Hamel (1943), Dick Smothers (1939), Richard Dawson (1932), Estelle Parsons (1927), Roy Campanella (1921), Robert F. Kennedy (1925), Alistair Cooke (1908), and Edwin Hubble (1889).

The 20th is Revolution Day in Mexico, so keep an eye out for revolting Mexicans.

November 21 is World Hello Day everywhere and Flag Day in Zaire. The 22nd is Independence Day in Lebanon. The 23rd is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan and Flag Day in Niger.

Voltaire shares his November 21 birthday with Ken Griffey, Jr. (1969), Troy Aikman (1966), Goldie Hawn (1945), Harold Ramis (1944), Juliet Mills (1941), Marlo Thomas (1938), Stan Musial (1920), Rene Magritte (1898), Harpo Marx (1880), and William Beaumont (1785).

Enjoy the weekend!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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