Chain letters continue to circulate in astonishing numbers, especially the "prayer" that threatens death and financial ruin for those who break the chain. In one recent day's mail I received seven weren't really superstitious but would feel more at ease if I broke the chains for them. I did, of course. . . . Ishmael C. Goings of Arlington raises an eyebrow at a recent article in this newspaper that said, "Two D.C. riot troopers locked me in a full nelson and dragged me by the ponytail into Dupont Circle." A full nelson is a wrestling hold in which both arms are placed under an opponent's armpits from behind and the hands are pressed against the back of his neck. Presumably one "riot tropper" applied the full nelson while the other reached over his shoulder to yank on the ponytail. . . . Mrs. H. M. C. Luykx of Frederick wonders why Snoopy, the dog who sometime thinks he's a World War I flying ace, said in a recent "Peanuts" comic strip, "These infantry types don't appeal to the lasses like we glamorous flying aces." Perhaps it was because Snoopy went to obedience school rather than grammar school. . . . And Robert F. Kieckhefer of Silver Spring notes that Mary Worth recently said, "I'll see if I can convince him to come back." Most authorities on usage disapprove of convince followed by an infinitive and prefer persuade him to, or a construction that avoids the infinitive, e.g.: convince him that he should. . . . Virginia Germino of Charlottesville found ad nauseam spelled ad nauseum in a recent Washington Post article about grammar. She adds that if it is of any comfort to me, The Times Magazine misspelled supersede recently. It came out as supercede . No, Virginia, it gives me no comfort to know that other publications are also put out by fallible humans, but I'll tell you one thing that did comfort me: Not one Washington Post reader made the mistake of thinking he had caught staff writer Henry Mitchell in a misspelling when Henry deadpanned the pun pandamonium into a story about the unromantic romance between Ling-Ling and Chia-Chia.
Question from William E. Connors: "Could there have been a space program without computers?" My guess would be: No, not the kind of space program thatorbits a vehicle ona precise course and then brings it safely back to a predetermined landing area. If it were not for one characteristic of computers, I would consider them man's greatest achievement to date. The darn things do what they're told to do -- even when the order is an inadvertent error. One of these days I'm going to learn to be more careful with the "Delete" button on my computer terminal. . . . John D. Morton of Fairfax shook his head in wonderment when he read a recent letter to the editor that said the 55 mph speed limit should be abolished because the chances of being involved in an accident are decreased when one speeds and therefore spends less time in an auto. There's also another reason for speeding, John. If you're low on gas, you may reach your destination before the tank goes dry. When "Mutt and Jeff" used those reasons 50 years ago, people laughed.
It is generally believed that people are more likely to report poor service than good service, but Washington Post staff write Jack Eisen offers evidence that it ain't necessarily so. Metro has in recent days received written commendations from its passengers for the good work done by operator Wilbert Parker, attendant Morris Newby, operator Marvin H. McClease, Transit Police officer Ronald J. Phillips, operator James A. Bowden, operator Harold J. Calvin, operator James S. Poindexter, operator Robert L. Abney, attendant Edward F. Wilson, operator Alfred V. Anderson Jr., operator Johnnie Ware Jr., operator Marva Banks, operator David L. Taylor Jr., operator Rayford E. Jones, attendant Freddie H. Larkin, operator Chester Bilbro, operator William J. Smith and operator Mico V. Johnson.This column offers a tip of the hat to all 18 and to every other Metro employee who helps make commuting easier for us. . . . Danny Klayman notes: "Fifty is the age when it takes twice as long to rest and half as long to get tired.". . .Bob Orben tells about the company that offered a $500 prize for the best suggestion for saving money. The winning suggestion was, "Cut the prize to $100."