A strange letter arrived yesterday from Frank MdAnear of Arlington. $1
It asked: "Can you tell my why a bunch of old crows have been caucusing outside my bedroom window at the break of day? Why don't they caucus on Capitol Hill instead of in Arlington? Surely one of the rights reserved to the people is the right ot be free of crows making noise outside one's bedroom window at daybreak."
I am thoroughly puzzled by this inquiry. I thought all the crows in this metropolitan area caucused outside my bedroom window.
To solve this mystery, we should probably put the crows under surveillance. Close observation could answer such basic questions as:
After the crows keep me from falling asleep, do they fly to Frank's house to wake him?
Or do the crows wake Frank and then fly to my house to keep me from falling asleep?
It is possible there are two flocks of miscreants rather than just one?
What is there about bedroom windows that makes them so attractive to crows?
Do crows avoid Capitol Hill because they can't compete with all the other noise up there? Or is it because there's such a shortage of bedrooms on the Hill that the crows would have to use the Capitol steps?
In the old days, it would have been easy to obtain a government grant for a two-year research project on crow activities and their environmental impact on urban areas in which minorities are in the majority. However, it is becoming much more difficult to get this kind of funding since the role of president was assigned to a new actor. My best chance to win a grant now may be to find a defense angle and ask the Pentagon to fund the research.
For example: Has anybody bothered to find out whether the Russians are ahead of us in crow caucuses? Are the crows that keep us from sleeping (and therefore reduce our productivity) being aided by Soviet advisers? Is the USSR instigating this activity?
It's high time we found out. CHAIN REACTION
No statistics are available, but it appears that more chain letters were in circulation in 1980 than in 1979, and that 1981 is running ahead of 1980.
Perhaps private industry should fund a study of chain letters. Most of the letters are photocopied on office copiers, put into company envelopes, and mailed at company expense.
I have received photocopied chain letters from employees of at least 100 private companies, as well as from most government agencies. The money wasted on this superstitious trash could have sent dozens of bright students through Caltech, M.I.T. or good medical schools. IT'S NOT GOODBYE, WALTER
Walter Cronkite was a newscaster for Washington's Channel 9 the first time I watched him work.
I saw no prompting device, no cue cards. The only "script" in front of Cronkite was a single sheet of paper. I wondered how he knew what to say.
When the program was over, I examined the single sheet of paper. It contained a dozen sentences, each on a different subject. At best, the "script" had reminded Cronkite about the stories he wanted to talk about.
"How can you do a newcast with just a list of topics?" I asked.
Cronkite shrugged. "I spend most of the day studying these stories as they developed," he said. "I know what happened. The details are in my mind. I don't need a script. All I need is a reminder of the order in which I plan to report on the stories. I used to be a newspaperman myself, you know."
Yes you certainly were, young fellow, and one of the best. But now they think you're old and should be retired. If The Washington Post had applied the same standards to me, it would have kicked me out four years ago.
Maybe rules for mandatory retirement make sense, Walter, but if they do, the logic eludes me. I think your departure from broadcasting will leave all of us poorer.
I hope you will remain active in public life and continue to bring a measure of comfort to those of us who have begun to wonder whether anybody in government can run an agency with rock-solid honesty -- not just pocketbook honesty, but intellectual honesty.
I refuse to say "Goodbye," Uncle Walter. "Hasta luego," is as far as I'll go. Arrivederci. And keep in touch with the desk.