Hang on – the concluding Dick Davis tips are on their way. And who knows what other divertissinvestment and investmentia. But today:


Monty Goolsby: ‘The day after I read your coffee column I was at this grocery store and counted coffee from over 45 countries. There were more but my girlfriend made me quit looking. I wonder how many people get their livelihood from that one store.’

Dean Cardno: ‘You might also look at a couple of books by Margaret Visser, a South African anthropologist, called Rituals of Dinner and Much Depends on Dinner. In each, she describes a pretty ordinary dinner, then goes into painstaking detail on the ingredients, their history of cultivation, and their importance to the cultures that grew them along the way. Do you know why an olive branch is a symbol of peace? Because it takes an ungodly long time for an olive grove to become productive, and it is a long and tedious time for a raw olive to be made edible. So in the days when olives first became a cash crop, they represented a civilized peaceful location where people would be willing to commit to the years of planning to plant an olive grove and wait for it to mature. Really good books – not as scientific-technical as the James Burke books others have mentioned. (They are good, too, although I get a little tired of James Burke – all bouncing from one idea to the next, and not enough thought about each one as he goes by.)


And speaking of a cup of coffee – ‘a cup of Joe’ – did you see the really charming little profile of my friend Joe Cherner, the tobacco industry’s worst nightmare, in Thursday’s New York Times? It will make you smile.


I suppose the end of summer is an odd time to be writing about iced tea, but as many of you know, I have a small stake (equi-Tea) in a company called Honest Tea, started two or three years ago by a Yale School of Management Professor and one of his students. Well, sales have been growing like crazy (easy to do from a small base), and the publicity has been amazing (for an iced tea). It’s even been featured in Oprah Magazine. On the latest Top Tea best-seller list, in the health-food category, Honest Tea has six of the top ten.

But where I quibble is with which six. And with which varieties Barnes & Noble cafes (all of which carry Honest Tea) choose to stock.

Yes, I can see why Moroccan Mint is #1. It’s got a little caffeine kick (one-fourth the caffeine of coffee), 34 calories a pint, and the ‘green tea’ health caché. I can buy that. But where is First Nation, the caffeine-free peppermint varie-Tea? Barnes & Noble leans heavily toward Black Forest Berry and Assam, Decaf Ceylon and Kashmiri Chai, which are okay, I suppose, but hardly the stuff of Web columns. Instead, they should carry Gold Rush Cinnamon and Jakarta Ginger, which positively zing with flavor and a clean, healthy feeling.

[Note: No one likes ice more than me – I don’t care that the Diet Coke is cold, it must have an equal height of ice in the glass to be right – but, oddly, with Honest Tea it’s better to just drink it cold, right out of the bottle.]


I am willing to grant that Honest Tea is not for everyone. There will be those who just need the sugar and the carbonation – or fermentation – of something else. Fine. But I cannot imagine someone who, once exposed to TiVo (in which I also own a few shares, but only out of wild enthusiasm for the product, not because it’s a good investment), could ever be happy again without it. Charles and I go nuts when we are watching TV the old way. Our thumbs instinctively click the replay button – what did he say? – or the pause button when the phone rings or the fast-forward button when a commercial comes on. Be honest: could you live without remote control? You could not. You will feel the same way about TiVo. It saves me 3,000 minutes a year on the Nightly News alone (which now takes a maximum of 20 minutes to watch instead of 30). And we never have to worry about missing a show we like. No, it’s not cheap, but this is why Santa Claus invented Christmas. And, no, it’s not completely simple to set up, but this is why God invented teenagers.

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