Specifically, tooth #31 in my head. This was much easier than pulling tooth #32, which was a huge and perfectly healthy wisdom tooth, decades back, when I was a wise guy, before Novocain, and they had to tie a rope to it and tie the other end of the rope to a horse standing outside the dentist’s office window and then SLAP the horse – and out it popped. Boy was that painful.

This one involved my choice of flavored topical anesthetic (I went with mint; “piña colada” struck me as trying too hard), followed by a shot of Novocain (made mintily painless) to numb me up for the serious shots of Novocain, which I also did not feel – and then a quick SLAP of the horse and some sutures and I was on my way. In my pocket, I had a prescription for an antibiotic; four Advil; and the advice to chomp down on a tea bag if needed (it’s like gauze, but the tannic acid in tea is a great coagulant). In his pocket, the oral surgeon had enough to buy warrants on 2,000 shares of ALBA. More power to him.

Might we pause to consider how unbelievably fortunate we are – at least those of us with access to it – to have painless dentistry? Can you imagine the untold millennia of misery our forebears endured?


I don’t often write about golf. That one time, with Warren Buffett, was the beginning and end of it. But one of you sent me an anecdote recently I just love – even though it’s not true – and I felt the need to pass it on.

The question: why do golf courses have 18 holes?

Why not 12?

Why not 20?

The answer: they were sitting around the St. Andrews golf club in Scotland back in 1858 debating this very thing. The president of the club listened to the discussion for a while and then cut it off: “There will be 18 holes in a game of golf,” he said. Because there are 18 shots in a fifth of scotch, and when you’ve finished the bottle, it’s time to stop.

Forgive me if I have butchered that, or if it’s entirely untrue. I still love it. (And no, do not feel compelled to send me the story of why the width of the space shuttle was determined by the width of a horse’s ass – we’ve all seen that one by now.) (And, yes, this golf story apparently is entirely untrue.)


Here is an interview with Rory Stewart in Salon. You may need to sit through a short ad – or even pay something – to read it. (I don’t know; I subscribe.) But he had to walk 500 miles through Afghanistan. In the winter!

Well, didn’t “have to,” actually – chose to. And then, at 33, chose to spend a year governing a province in Iraq.

He says the Afghanis are better off than they were – they are more secure and the economy is growing at 18% a year – and he thinks that, even after the coalition forces withdraw, Iraq will not descend into full-scale civil war, bad though things will be.

These days, that opinion qualifies as “hopeful.”

(Pat Davies: “Our economy could grow at 18% too if we legalized growing opium. The longterm worldwide effects of the spike in opium production in ‘our’ Afghanistan are staggering. With oversupply comes lower prices and inevitably more addicts.”)


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