Not Piling Onto Foley Here, Condi Rice Meeting
End Oct. 16 Column

Just Rolling Along

My friend Clark Smith coined the best spontaneous witticism I ever heard: a person who is slow to pick up a bill is suffering from shellout falter (I think you have to be over 45 to get that).

As close as I came this week was complimenting myself on a Pity With-it-cism (when I meant pithy witticism)

The witticism in question? I was talking about one of the numerous ironies of my wasted MIT education. I knew people who were working on Arpanet (or, for that matter, Unix, and its predecessor Multics), and who tried to explain it to me. Later, this little government system grew up to become the Internet. Despite my stubborn ignorance about the mysterious inner workings of TCP/IP and such, I've had a pretty good run as on the content side of the Internet, which led me to comment to my wife Vicki:

You don't have to know anything about plumbing to flush the toilet.

That's the best I've got this week.

(Ironically, again, during my term as house manager of MIT Student House, every single one of the house's seven toilets failed, and I fixed them without the help of plumbers, despite knowing nothing at all about toilets or plumbing. But that's another story).

Speaking of MIT, the Smoot who won the Nobel Prize last week is the cousin of MIT's LCA fraternity member Oliver Smoot, who was rolled across the Harvard Bridge in the 1950s, when it was discovered that the bridge is 364.4 Smoots "and one ear" long. Smoot marks still adorn the bridge, despite its complete reconstruction.