I have this great column about chickens and taxes I am dying to write, but each time I get ready to fry it up, you distract me with your more-interesting e-mails and the clock runs out. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime:


Randy Wolff: ‘Assuming your towel question was not a joke, the reason you should wash a towel is it has gotten wet. The moisture, plus some delicious skin flakes you left on the towel, make a great picnic lunch for billions and billions of microscopic living things floating around in the air, chiefly mold and mildew. They will establish vast civilizations on your hapless towel, and their waste products [there is no polite way to say it] will really stink.’

Randy Mahoney: ‘When you emerge from the shower, your skin is very clean, but also the stratum corneum (the outer layer) sloughs off quite easily. This detritus finds its way into every nook and cranny in that fluffy towel. Now think forward a few days, when each time you dry off, you are adding a great deal of moisture to that increasingly rich organic slurry on the towel. Pretty soon, things start to decompose, and you are now drying your clean body with a wet rag soaked in rotting flesh. (Sorry for the graphic description, but we in Dermatology tend toward the dramatic sometimes.) So THAT’S WHY you should wash your towel!’

Dana Dlott, Professor of Chemistry: ‘Maybe I should be embarrassed, but I have actually given some thought to this. When you wash a towel, it gets very clean. The laundry detergent is more powerful than the soap you use in the shower. The fabric softener gets the salts out that are left in by the detergent and the water. After you shower, you are only as clean as the soap and rinse water can make you and you are covered with the water. The water has dissolved salts. So the towel is cleaner than you are. The towel picks up the water, which dries out and leaves salts in the towel. This makes the towel get stiff. The towel also picks up whatever skin oils and skin flakes remain on you. After a while the towel gets dirty and stiff and you should wash it.’

☞ Oh, all right!


Judy: ‘Here’s the link to the New Republic article you referenced in Monday‘s column about the Arab-language students who were discharged from the military.’


Peter Amstein: ‘I spoke with Congressman Brian Baird yesterday. He’s truly one of the good guys. He instantly distilled my version of the message down to this: ‘The Republicans think football would be a better game without referees. I’ve seen it played that way and I disagree.”


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