502 years ago today, in St. Remy de Provence, France, Michel de Nostradame was born. As he grew up, he became progressively more educated and weirder. I suppose it is not uncommon for restless, energetic college students to want to redefine themselves, and young Michel was no exception as he affected a Latinized version of his birth name and dubbed himself Nostradamus. He is best remembered as the author of The Centuries, a collection of 942 cryptic poems. They were presented as prophecy, and their combination of intriguing imagery and ultimate vagueness have enabled them to be retrofitted into our history for the past five centuries. His hard-core fans cannot be dissuaded by anything so mundane as common sense, so when a given passage is singled out as possibly predicting several different historical events, they will take this as evidence of his powers of prophecy, rather than as proof of the malleability of a vague phrase.
Now it may seem that I’m being a little hard on poor old Michel. But please note, he knew I was going to say all of this about him, and he never said a word about it, so I think we’re okay with each other.