CLOWNIC BRIEFING
Klovenhæren (The Clown Army)

Sep. 8 - In the Danish news last night I noticed, and blogged, the story of Copenhagen police busting up an apparent "clown army" on Christiania. I was moving briskly and didn't have much time to dig into the details: I just wanted pictures of cops in full riot gear mixing it up with clowns in clown gear.

I did see some television coverage of the event last night (also, alas, without any cop-on-clown footage), and the news sites offer plenty of coverage this morning.

Here's the deal: toward the end of July eleven trailers full of "young activists" parked themselves out on Christiania. The administrative body responsible for ensuring lawful residency on the island (or "in the free state") determined in August that the trailers were illegal. Toward the end of the month the trailers were moved to another part of Christiania (Fredens Eng, "The Valley of Peace"). They were, it was reported, part of the circus set up there. The police subsequently informed the trailer-dwellers that even though they were part of the circus, they were still dwelling illegally on Christiania and that their trailers would still have to be removed. They gave them a deadline of September 6. The deadline passed and the trailers remained. So in the course of forcibly removing the trailers on September 7, the police also made 105 arrests.

The persons arrested apparently submitted peacefully and without resistance.

And This Involves Clowns How?

The circus itself was apparently a long-running "happening" designed to shine a light on Copenhagen's housing shortage, particularly as it's affecting the young. (There's a certain amount of irony in their having chosen to make the point on a chunk of a land that was settled thirty years ago by squatters who closed the doors behind them. I don't know whether the irony is intentional or not.)

Based on my own initial reading and viewing of the news, I wasn't sure whether or not the clowns actually had anything to do with the happening or the trailers or any of it. So I decided to check them out.

They're reportedly part of the clown army, whose manifesto reads as follows (in my own on-the-fly translation):

The clown army is a non-violent defensive army defending the every-day clown.

The clown army is the friend of trees. All animals are friends of clowns.

The clown army works in all nose-wise [wordplay that doesn't work at all in English] and necessary situations toward:

- smiling and creating enjoyment
- that there should be fun
- protecting the weak
- defending the culture
- reducing the psychological and physical pressure on Christiania and other places
- walking in big shoes
- wearing red noses with style
- being a clown
- that there should be fun

I'm all in favor of all of these items, even though I don't see why Christiania is any more deserving of levity than the rest of us. In fact, as a deranged young man in Chicago in the middle-1980's, I wore a big red clown nose around for several months as a kind of social experiment. (Surprising result: most people appreciated the levity in most situations, and the nose made a great ice-breaker with attractive young women in bars.)

I was all set to enlist in the clown army until I dug further into their site and saw they'd gone political. They weren't in Christiania yesterday to walk in floppy shoes and wear their red noses and ensure there should be fun, although surely they did all three. No, they were there to make a scene and complicate the conflict between the trailers and the police who'd been ordered to remove them. I suppose that would come, by their lights, under "protecting the weak" and "defending the culture," but under mine it doesn't. So I'm in the unhappy position of being unable to enlist in an army of clowns for ideological reasons.

I guess I've got to hold out for the ideologically ambivalent clown army.

* * *

Trine brought some interesting articles about a recent Danish scientific development to my attention this morning. The Danish articles are here and here, but the limits of my Danish vocabulary are sorely tested by scientific language, so I'm relying on this English article, which is just a glossed-up version of this press release from DTU.

Here's the nub:

Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark have invented a technology which may be an important step towards the hydrogen economy: a hydrogen tablet that effectively stores hydrogen in an inexpensive and safe material.

How does it do that? I won't try to summarize, because I'd surely screw it all up:

...the tablet consists solely of ammonia absorbed efficiently in sea-salt. Ammonia is produced by a combination of hydrogen with nitrogen from the surrounding air, and the DTU-tablet therefore contains large amounts of hydrogen. Within the tablet, hydrogen is stored as long as desired, and when hydrogen is needed, ammonia is released through a catalyst that decomposes it back to free hydrogen. When the tablet is empty, you merely give it a “shot” of ammonia and it is ready for use again.

Why is this important?

Should you drive a car [400 miles] using gaseous hydrogen at normal pressure, it would require a fuel tank with a size of nine cars. With our technology, the same amount of hydrogen can be stored in a normal gasoline tank,” says Professor Claus Hviid Christensen, Department of Chemistry at DTU.

That's good for obvious reasons: viable hydrogen power means less dependence on fossil fuels. Less dependence on fossil fuels means less dependence on Middle East oil. Less dependence on Middle East oil means less involvement in the Middle East, which translates to fewer body-bags all around in the long-term. Hydrogen-powered cars would also offer less pollution (although Denmark currently generates more pollution from wood-burning stoves than from automobiles—so why is this Norwegian encouraging wood-burning cars?).

Et Cetera

On this date in 1628, John Endicott arrived in Naumkeag, Massachusetts, as the leader of a group of Puritan Bastards who had purchased land patents from the Plymouth Council in England. A previous group of settlers had established themselves in Naumkeag in 1626 but had no patent and were therefore Villainous Heretics. They gladly surrendered their claim in the face of the newcomers' Superior Moral Virtue, which came in a variety of gauges.

Later Naumkeag became Salem and developed witches, ultimately resulting in a profitable cottage industry.

* * *

Constantine the Great's three sons, Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius II, named themselves Caesars and divided the Roman Empire between them on this date in the year 337. But it was nearly sixteen hundred years before Sid Caesar himself was born, on September 8, 1922.

* * *

It's La Vierge de Meritxell in Andorra, and the birthday of Patsy Cline (1932), Peter Sellers (1925), the aforementioned Caesar, Claude Pepper (1900), and Siegfried Sassoon (1876).

Happy Thursday, and a very happy kickoff to the 2005 season of NFL football!

Go Pats!

© 2005, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Discuss]
[Daily Briefing Archive]