Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Happy Leif Erikson Day!

It's late, late, late, so just a quick one.

In this era, it may seem like nobody named Barney can possibly accomplish anything. Barney Google was a comic strip, Barney Fife was a deputy who couldn't be trusted with bullets, Barney Rubble had that annoying laugh, and, well, Barney T. Dinosaur.

(Although there was also Captain Barney Miller of the 12th Precinct.)

Nevertheless, Bjarni Herjólfsson is thought to be the first European to catch sight of mainland America, in 986. That would be a shade more than 500 years before Cristoforo Colombo (a.k.a. Cristóbal Colón, Christophorus Columbus, and Christopher Columbus) stumbled upon the island of Guanahani and called it San Salvador.

Okay, so Bjarni was a little off-course at the time of the sighting. But Columbus thought he was in an entirely different hemisphere!

It took Columbus two more trips, and six years, to reach the mainland (Venezuela). And it took Leifr Eiríksson (a.k.a. Leif Erikson and Leif the Lucky) eight or ten years to get around to following up on Herjólfsson story and discover Newfies and Labs.

And it took another 964 years, more or less, to establish Leif Erikson Day. Which is today, October 9. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a widely recognized Talk Like a Viking Day. But you can get a Viking name for yourself. As mr_ed I'm Eirík the Berserker, and as Mister Ed, Grím the Drunk.

A few other tweaks to my name give Egill the Violent, Björn Deathbringer and Ásbjórn Doomslayer. And other, quite silly, stuff.

Happy Birthday to Camille Saint-Saëns, Alred Dreyfus, Charles Walgreen, Aimee Semple McPherson, E. Howard Hunt, Fyvush Finkel, John Lennon, Trent Lott, John Entwistle, and Jackson Browne, among many many others.

Including, for the royalty watchers, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (a.k.a. Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Edward George Nicholas Patrick, Duke of Kent, Earl of Saint Andrews, Baron Downpatrick, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty).

Note that on this date, the Chicago White Sox finished handing the Cincinnati Reds the 1919 World Series by deliberately losing games. I'll write about more recent sports scandals soon.

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