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Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can't Scare the Old Gray Lady:

"Good journalism for an intelligent general audience is hard. And we’re really good at it. Taking on The Times is not as easy as waving a credit card and proclaiming yourself 'fair and balanced. . . .' We have every reason to feel confident that we can hold our own if [Rupert] Murdoch decides to build The Journal beyond its business-reader base. In all the Murdoch parlor-gaming, I don’t hear anyone suggesting that he would attempt to match the depth of our coverage in culture, science, education, health, religion, sports, lifestyle, etc., etc. Not to mention business coverage that even devout Journal readers find they can't afford to miss."

-- Bill Keller, editor, New York Times, on Murdoch's promised Wall Street Journal challenge to Times national dominance, Oct. 16, 2007


Good roommate instructs slackers on how to do dishes

By G. Christopher Terry

September 20, 2007 | This is a story about a guy whose roommate didn't know how to wash dishes the right way. The roommate would treat the faucet as a prerequisite which had to be left in the ON position before any work could be done. The main character would stand there, trying to decide whether to be the pain-in-the-neck roommate who had to control the fashion in which dishes were cleaned.

Invariably, the good dishwasher would bottle his rage in to avoid the "control freak" label and go read a football magazine or something. Until a few hours later, when the bad roommate's friends were drinking cheap domestic beer and smoking cigarettes on the front porch and the good dishwasher had to go outside and tell people not to lean on the iron railings which surrounded the porch and were sagging dangerously from the aggregate downward force of scores of overweight haunches.

After the bad roommate and his no-account friends had gone to the bar, the good roommate would finish cleaning up the kitchen, stewing to himself. "Someday," he would say to himself, "I have simply got to teach my roommate how to do the dishes.

"It's so simple. First, you dump all the cold water which may have accumulated in the bowls, plates and glasses down the drain and arrange your dishes, stacking them by type. All the flatware goes in a big heap. I might be anal but I am not anal enough to sort forks and spoons. Then you give all your dishes a quick prerinse with hot water, to remove the biggest chunks of rotting food and the film left by the cold, greasy water. Some people will wash with cold water to save energy, but since cold water congeals grease while hot water melts and loosens it, they will end up using more water and their dishes won't be clean.

"Next, fill a cereal bowl with hot water. This basin of hot water has to last while you are scrubbing every single dish, so use it wisely! We live in a freaking desert. The washing portion of the task does not require that the hot water be flowing the entire time. That is sooooo wasteful. One cereal bowl is more than enough water to wash an entire sink-full of dishes. You only need enough water here to remoisten the sponge on the head of your hollow-handled soap-distributing device from time to time."

As he pondered the magnificently crafted tool he used to clean his dishes, the good roommate laughed to himself. He was thinking of all the unfortunate fools who, due to poor judgement or ignorance, used inferior tools for their dishwashing. Some used those wooden things with a bristly head and a wire hook on the butt end. Others favored simple square sponges, or those green scrubby thingies. These crude implements were to the good dishwasher's sponge-on-a-handle-which-doubled-as-a-soap-reservoir as a sharpened stick is to an F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Why would anyone choose to wash dishes with anything but a sponge that was always infused to the optimal level with the cleaning power of orange-scented Palmolive dish soap?

As he finished clearing up, the good roommate thought about how washing all of the dishes using a limited amount of hot water before initiating rinsing procedures not only made him a good global citizen, but lowered his utility bill from Logan City by cents each month.

"Damn, I rule," he said to himself. "What makes me even more cool is the way I heap all the silverware beneath the faucet, so that the entire time I am rinsing bowls, plates, glasses, mugs, spoon rests and butter dishes, I am pouring water down on the silverware too, shaving precious seconds off the time I have to spend washing forks, spoons and knives in the end. 'Why do you always wash the silverware last?' someone might ask me. With a knowing smile, I would explain how washing the silverware last saves water and time. The only problem I ever have is with the spatulas and pancake flipper. I always was those second-to-last, right before the silverware. But is there a better way?"

Those self-doubts were fleeting. As the greatest washer of dishes in the world watched a pre-bedtime episode of HBO's "The Wire," his only thoughts were for Detective McNulty, who was in hot water with the Lieutenant again.



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