Sorry I doubted you, Great-Uncle Landon

My cousin Aubrey’s genealogical research indicates that my great-uncle Landon, who died institutionalized, had patented “a method for transmitting mail by electricity.” When I saw the research a few years ago, I was Intrigued by the description but wasn’t able to find out anything about it. Last time I was back in North Carolina, I told my Dad I wondered if the patent had been issued or just applied for.

Today, with nothing much to do except “supervise” the refinishing and replacing of our floor, I looked up the patent in the PTO’s database, and found it: Number 847076, “Mail-Transportation System,” issued March 12, 1907. No on-line text, but there are six TIFF images of the patent drawings and claims. Pretty cool—he had an idea for an engine that would deliver mail to a series of regular stops, propelling itself by unspecified means along a suspended wire. Not as far fetched as shooting mail through a vast network of underground tubes using compressed air, which actually happened.

Bush: Who said that, again?

Washington Post: A Sound Bite So Good, the President Wishes He Had Said It. The Post catches Bush lifting from Al Gore, of all people, in his famous comment about not allowing the budget to go into deficit “except during war, recession, or national emergency”:

In this space last week, it was noted that President Bush often tells audiences that he promised during the 2000 presidential campaign that he would allow the federal budget to go into deficit in times of war, recession or national emergency, but he never imagined he would “have a trifecta.” Nobody inside or outside the White House, however, had been able to produce evidence that Bush actually said this during the campaign.

Now comes information that the three caveats were uttered before the 2000 campaign — by Bush’s Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore.


Take that, debunkers

Salon: Debunking Deep Throat’s debunkers. Hilarious article by Ken Hughes, associated with the University of Virginia Miller Center for Public Affairs project on the Nixon tapes. Hughes takes on a series of arguments made by two recent books that attempt to claim that Deep Throat and Bob Woodward could not have exchanged messages by marked newspapers and balcony flags by actually going to Woodward’s building and trying it out himself. A sample:

“If Deep Throat wanted a meeting — which was rare — there was a different procedure. Each morning, Woodward would check page 20 of his New York Times, delivered to his apartment house before 7 a.m. If a meeting was requested, the page number would be circled and the hands of a clock indicating the time of the rendezvous would appear in a lower corner of the page. Woodward did not know how Deep Throat got to his paper.”

Woodward’s a bit dim, Hughes thought, not for the first time. Deep Throat did not have to get to his specific copy of the Times. He just had to get his hands on a copy of the Times before 7 a.m. and leave it outside Woodward’s door. In American society, such work is often given to children. They are called “paperboys.” Or “paper carriers.” Or “newsies” by those with a taste for archaism.

Hughes had been a paperboy once, long ago. He knew the things that paperboys know.



Brutal marathon painting session last night, after the floor guys left. But at least 99.9% of the walls in the great room are painted. We ran out of paint, upper body strength, and patience at about 10:30 last night, and still need to get the corners of the ceiling with a trim pad and touch up a few spots. All things considered, though, not bad for 4.5 hours and some 25-foot walls. (Cathedral ceiling = hard to paint room.) My arms may talk to me again in a few hours.