April Fool's Day. Anthropologists speculate that April Fool's Day derives from the celebration of the Vernal Equinox - traditionally festivals that mark the renewal of the cycle of the seasons, as the Vernal Equinox festival does, are characterized by temporary suspensions of laws, rules and the general social order.
There's also another story that traces the origin of the custom back to the abundance of fish to be found in French streams and rivers during early April when the young fish had just hatched. These young fish were easy to fool with a hook and lure. Therefore, the French called them 'Poisson d'Avril' or 'April Fish.' Soon it became customary to fool people on April 1, as a way of celebrating the abundance of foolish fish. The French still use the term 'Poisson d'Avril' to describe the unfortunate victims of April Fool's Day pranks.
And speaking of French pranks, here's a little tidbit that I find just lovely. According to Reuters:
The French are lapping up a Sept. 11 conspiracy theory that argues the plane that smashed into the Pentagon never existed and that the world has been duped by a murky U.S. government plot.
Thierry Meyssan's book "The Frightening Fraud" is flying off shelves according to booksellers and has topped bestseller lists. Meyssan, president of Reseau Voltaire, a respected left-wing think tank, reckons the American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon in Washington killing 189 on September 11 did not exist and that the whole thing was staged by the government.
"I believe the American government is lying... No plane crashed into the Pentagon," he told France 2 television. Meyssan did not provide an alternative theory for what may have damaged the Pentagon.
He says, "But the events of September 11 gave us a reality so similar to science fiction, that there has been more of a market for paranoid interpretations." Meyssan says key evidence shows witness accounts are contradictory, that there are few photographs of the crash and that those that do exist show no debris from the plane.
He also asks why the facade of the Pentagon did not immediately collapse from the shock of the impact and questions the fate of the passengers on the flight.
[This part is my favorite . . .]
"What became of the passengers of American Airlines Flight 77? Are they dead?" he asks.
Uh, right. It's bad enough that this guy is making loads of euros off of book sales for posing a question like this. But the real crime is that he doesn't have an alternate theory. I'm sorry, that should be a prerequisite for something like this. I mean, even if he wants to suggest that the fire was started by a small electrical fire from a microwave in the Pentagon lunchroom, and the US government seized the opportunity of the confusion of the WTC plane crashes to divert Flight 77 to Roswell for experimental testing - well fine. But to propose that it is all a government cover-up and . . . and . . . nothing! Excusez-moi, monsieur, but that's ludicrous.
[And it is Number One on the www.amazon.fr list - Vive la France!]
Based on the minor amount of tension in the Middle East these days, it would seem that there are natural enemies who will never get along. But here is a story, again from Reuters, about a lioness who has gone against her natural instincts twice this year by adopting a baby oryx -- normally a source of food. She has had two in the past, and on each occasion, she has given the calves affection, protection from other lions, and even allowed their natural mothers to come and feed them.
The first oryx calf was unfortunately killed by another lion, and the second was taken away from her when its condition deteriorated from lack of food. But the lioness is not to be thwarted and has adopted a third oryx calf, about four or five days old. She has allowed the calf to nurse from its mother for a few minutes at a time before herding it back.
[At least there's hope for peace among some species.]
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Quote du jour:
"However big the fool,
there is always a bigger fool to admire him."
Nicolas Boileau (1636 - 1711) French literary poet, critic
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