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Wednesday, August 07, 2002
Today's Quiz

Who said:

"The first thing is character. Before money or property or anything else. Money cannot buy it."

Clue: It's not any President of the United States, living or dead.

Give up? Read Robert J. Samuelson's
column in the WP for the answer.

posted at 11:31 AM
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
Spirit in the machine

"What would a perfect search engine look like? we [Jason
Bait & Switch] asked."

To which Sergey Brin, cofounder and president of technology at Google, responded: "It would be the mind of God. [Cofounder] Larry [Page] says it would know exactly what you want and give you back exactly what you need."

Thanks to Dane Carlson for the link.

posted at 2:35 PM
Monday, August 05, 2002
When we were young

Bill S_____ and I met in college in 1974. We liked each other's way of cruising through life. I admired his knowledge of jazz. He liked my unpredictablility.

Bill wanted to know why I had spent so many years hitch hiking around the country. I couldn't explain it well. I said I would show him. We decided to hitch hike to California the long way. We started in Washington, DC, where we lived, and set out first for Boston, where I had a brother we could visit.

That trek north has always been the least interesting, most gas strangled part of any trip in the U.S. The New Jersey Turnpike is the most direct route to NYC. It's long and boring. I never thought of going the pretty way. I don't know if there is one.

It's kind of a kick to see a new person get the thrill of seeing the New York skyline for the first time. You're caroming along the NJ Turnpike amid a stream of thousands of cars and big trucks. 60 miles an hour with 2 feet between vehicles. The refineries stink. They stink really bad. They cast their smoky gloom even in the dead of night. The tall buildings across the river are unmistakable from all the pictures that everyone has seen. Oh my god! This is really what it looks like. Yeah. Wow. We're really here.


We roll across a bridge while the truck driver we're with explains about the way he makes a living. Bill is curious as I was years ago. He wants to know what it's like to travel all over the country all the time. He thinks it must be exciting.

Going through Connecticut we begin to suspect there's a conspiracy in that state to mess with hitch hikers. Several times cars slow down and even stop as if to give us a ride, but then they speed away as we approach. A frustrating night. Maybe Bill will see that it's not all fun out here.

Next day we blow through Rhode Island and find ourselves in Boston in a few hours. It's wonderful. There's a vibrant city here. Lots of activity, history, scenic and architectural beauty. Everything that anybody travels for. We hook up with my brother and his friends. We spend several days and nights going to bars and clubs with them, failing to pick up girls, talking into the night about everything there is. We might as well be Kerouac et al.

One day we're on Boston's rickety old subway talking about the fact that we both appreciate the purely natural things in life. We don't like all the sham and fakery we see in everyday life in America. As we are talking, a woman gets off the train in our station. She is astoundingly beautiful. We stop talking.

She is wearing makeup and clothing that must cost more than either of us earned last year. Her golden brown hair is perfect. The green dress she wears sways with her walk like music. Jewelry glints in all its silvery and stony glory, yet weakly against the glow of her exquisite skin.

We immediately start hedging. After all, even makeup and clothing can be done especially well. We admire the art, the style, the expertise.

We're so young and full of shit.

posted at 2:15 PM


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Tom Gallagher is
the web editor at He has been Webweaver for Bet Mishpachah Synagogue and headed web related operations at ELS Language Centers in Washington, DC.