Richard Stacey: “You’re right about the cadence of groups of three in English, which is why Churchill’s original ‘blood, sweat, toil and tears’ is so frequently quoted without the toil. It reminds me that I heard that not all languages follow this pattern, and that some school children in one of these places, on hearing the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, said ‘please miss, what happened to fourth bear?'”

Fair enough. There is also the SAT nature of the thing, where the other three — blood, sweat and tears — are all liquids, and toil clearly does not fit, and where, additionally, it would appear to be redundant with “sweat.” Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak? But seriously, is it me, or is the scoring of the SATs getting easier? I have this friend who just got 760 on his math boards, another who got 780 on her verbals. Are kids today smarter than we were? Or did you get 800 on both?

Martin dellaValle: “Re the credit card with the owner’s picture on it — don’t count on its being a great deterrent. On a previous job, my boss constantly gave me his credit card to go buy office supplies and other stuff with The card had his picture on it, and he and I look nothing alike. But I never encountered a single problem using it and signing my name or his name or just scribble whatever came to mind. NOBODY EVER PAID ATTENTION. Which I find pretty frightening.”

Frightening — except that your liability with a stolen card is ordinarily minimal, and the thing is, you have such an honest face that, even though it didn’t look like your boss’s, the clerk could tell at a glance you’d never do anything shady.

Craig: “I must know why you are still using AOL. There are so many better services. And for people like me on a ghetto budget, there are several free ISPs (for example, http://go.freei.net/www/ and http://www.netzero.com/). It also works to just keep switching around and taking advantage of all the 30-day trials.”

Well, if you must know, there are several factors, prime among them: I am lazy and I am stupid. On top of that, having been frugal for my first few decades, I don’t have to worry much about the $22 a month. I like the fact that my address is easy for people to deal with — everyone knows AOL. And I like the way other AOL users can see the strange fonts and colors I use. And I guess I feel that even if they have some outages or whatever, they will always be around, and continually improve their capabilities. But if I had a little more time — and need — to experiment (if I were, that is, young and smart and poor), I would definitely consider a switch.

I figure this will all be different soon anyway, what with DSL or cable hook-ups.

And here’s an idea for AOL competitors: Quick! Register the name BOL. That way, your ad campaign could be, “Everyone’s switching to Better On-Line because it’s . . . better. And cheaper! And all you have to do to change your address is change a single letter. We’ve pre-reserved your AOL names for BOL and won’t let anyone else have them. If people don’t find you at your old address, don’t worry — they’ll know where to look. BOL.”

 

 

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