Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Email is ...

Many people find clever indirect ways to describe their email address, so that some robotic sniffing program is unlikely to harvest it and send them spam. I'm not one of these people. I've tried to be rather public and accessible. And that's a pity, because I accidentally (let's call it a typo) found a new way to obfuscate my email. Please mail me at: .
Got it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Payphone with a restroom:

There are hardly any payphones left these days, but before cellphones came along, they were quite useful. It always fascinated me that restaurants provided a bank of payphones in a relatively private hallway near the restrooms.

Now suppose you needed to go to the bathroom, but you hated to admit that to the people you were dining with. You could say, "I need to make a phone call," and you could disappear, none the wiser.

Even better, suppose you wanted to make a phone call, but you didn't want anybody to know what you were doing. (Use our imagination here.) You could say, "Excuse me, I need to visit the bathroom," and you could disappear, none the wiser.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gifted Athletic Peasants:

In April, William C. Rhoden wrote several columns for the New York Times about college recruiting violations and efforts to prevent them. I wrote to him on April 12, but sadly, he did not reply. I have very strong feelings about these attempts to keep honest rewards out of the hands of college athletes. Here's (approximately) what I wrote:

Dear William Rhoden,
I've been reading your columns on recruiting, and I believe you will have a sympathetic ear for a most important observation about major college sports: the players on these teams are employees. Most of the scandals, recruiting violations and “cheating” among coaches and alumni all arise from one simple matter: the desire of the colleges to keep most of the profits of major sports to themselves.

It's a myth that the players are “amateurs”. They work forty and more hours a week, and they work hard to perfect their abilities so that their college can rake in reams of money. In fact, these players deserve to be recognized as the stars who make their medium a success. They are entitled to the same percentage of total income as the athletes in pro sports. What a difference it would make if colleges were forced to pay their sports employees their fair share:

Alumni would probably fail to back their teams with the same gusto. The myth that these players are 'students' (not employees) stands behind many major alumni bequests.

Colleges would no longer see football and basketball (etc.) as big business opportunities, once the employees got their fair slice. Colleges might go back to offering truly amateur sports as a good way to balance real studies. (As my Alma Mater, Columbia, says: a sound mind in a sound body.)

Please bear in mind that every 'recruiting violation' you report on is yet another attempt to keep college athletes from gaining even the tiniest pittance of profit beyond their college scholarships. “Can I have some more, sir?” Evidently, NO!

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Culinary breakthrough with sour cream:

I'm sure I'm not the first person to get this idea, it's so simple and delicious. And low-calorie, too. And you can vary the recipe to suit your taste. You'll need a hand-blender or a hand mixer for this.

Pour six ounces of Diet Coke into a twelve ounce glass.
Add 1.5 tablespoons of sour cream.
Blend and drink.

You should start the blender at a slow speed, so that the soda does not avalanche out of the glass. You may wish to speed the blender up when the soda is under control. Very satisfying, for about 45 calories.