On Friday, the "Daybook" on the UPI city wire carried the listing:
"Press Conference, 2 p.m., Members of the National Draft Board Committee. Fourth Estate Lounge, National Press Club."
By 10:13 a.m., UPI had downed its second cup of coffee, rubbed the sleep from its eyes and sent out a correction:
"The 2 p.m. press conference listed in today's Daybook is being held by members of the National Draft Ford (Ford sted Board) Committee."
There was no great damage done, especially since Ford announced on the following day that he would not run because there had been too little public support for his candidacy.
Maybe people hung back because they were afraid that if Ford was elected, his first official act would be to pardon Jimmy Carter. THE NEWS FROM LORTON
If you're walking around free, you may not be aware of some of the things that cause problems for people who have been locked up for one reason or another.
On the back page of Time and Tide, the inmate publication at Lorton Reformatory, there is a column called "Snake's Remarks." In the January issue, delivered to me just yesterday for some reason, Snake says:
"We can't go into the officer's dining room and take anything out, let alone get in there, so why is it that some of the officers can go into our 'Mess' hall, get food off the line then take it to the officer's lounge to eat. The same officers will give up a Disciplinary Report if we get caught trying to take a slice of bread out.
"According to a recent newspaper article, 50% of Lorton's 1142 population practices Islam, a quick tabulation shows us that there are 571 inmates who don't. The Culinary Supervisor, Eugene Cox, states that he prepares 2,500 porkchops when they are prepared, and that he runs out and has to put something else on the line. Since we are subjected to a physical search every time we come out of the 'Mess' hall, what do the 571 pork-eating residents do with 2,500 porkchops?"
My personal knowledge of porkchops is limited, but if 4.38 chops per resident are insufficient to feed Lorton's pork eaters, there appears to be something awry.
Or perhaps some who practice Islam need more practice in resisting porkchops. LIFE IN THE BIG CITY
Every editor of mine since the first one in 1931 has admonished me to keep a low profile. "Your job," they have counseled, "is to report news, not make it."
When Mike Sager became part of a team of our reporters and photographers assigned to find out what happens on 14th Street at night, he flubbed his instructions. He made news.
He was held up -- "at knifepoint," as we say in the trade. To one who has never been held up, those two words have little meaning. But to Mike and others who have focused their eyes on the tip of a butcher knife held within an inch of their noses, "at knifepoint" has great impact. In fact, the first words in Mike's contribution to the report on what happens on 14th Street at night were, "I could have been killed, you know."
We know, we know. But it would have been worse if the guy had been able to afford a gun.
You outran a knife, pal. Don't ever try to outrun a bullet. If you doubt the wisdom of my advice, ask any of my friends in Lorton. NEOLOGISM DEPT.
After the word scam appeared here, several readers asked me to check into its derivation.
I checked, but I know no more now than I knew when I began. The few dictionaries new enough to list the word indicate that it is an American coinage and guess that it is derived from scheme, but they're not sure.
Richard P. Thomsen of Alexandria offers a suggestion that may be helpful.
He wonders whether scam's parentage can be traced to a mating of "scheme" and "flimflam." Until a more persuasive theory is put forward, that's the best we have.
Incidentally, as a noun, scam means "flimflam game," "confidence game," "scheme" or "illegal procedure, usually intricate enough to be deceptive." The Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary indicates that the word can also be used as a verb that means "to cheat or swindle," but I do not recall ever seeing it used as a verb. The next time I'm in Lorton I'll check with Snake. TIME MARCHES ON
Martin Buxbaum couldn't endure being retired, so now he's writing a monthly humor magazine for the Miles Glass Co.
In his current issue, he notes: "In 1626, you could have bought the whole island of Manhattan for $24. Now it costs that much to park there for a day."