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Friday, September 24, 2010
Dinner for Ten: A Parable of Tax Cuts

THE FOLLOWING PARABLE has floated around the Internet in various versions for a while. The author is in question but may be one Don Dodson, who submitted a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune printed on March 4, 2001. My slightly adjusted take stands apropos to the current debate on the expiring federal tax cuts.

Over lunch two friends discussed the proposal to extend the Bush-era federal government tax cuts. "I'm opposed to those tax cuts," the college professor declared, "because they benefit the rich. The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you and me and that's not fair."

"But the rich pay more in the first place," his businessman friend argued, "so it stands to reason that they'd get more money back." He could tell that his professor friend was unimpressed by this argument, still contending that the "rich" get a free ride in America.

Then the businessman told this parable: Suppose that every evening ten men go to a restaurant for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. They paid the bill the way we pay our federal taxes. The first four men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $17. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $60.

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 3 + 7 + 12 + 17 + 60 = $100 cost of dinner

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve. "Since you're all such good customers," the owner said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." Now dinner for the 10 would only cost $80.

The first four are unaffected; they still eat for free. So, how are we to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share? Divided among the six equally, $20 is $3.33 each, but if we subtract that from each share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner worked out the amounts each should pay by using reductions proportional to what they were paying. Now the first four still paid nothing, the fifth man paid 80 cents, the sixth pitched in $2.40, the seventh paid $5.60, the eighth paid $9.60, and the ninth paid $13.40, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $48 instead of $60.

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + .80 + 2.40 + 5.60 + 9.60 + 13.40 + 48.00 = $80 reduced cost of dinner

Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I just got a measly 20 cents out the $20," complained the fifth man, pointing to the tenth, "and he got $12!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the sixth man. "I only got sixty cents. It's unfair that he got twenty times as much as me!"

"That's true," shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $12 back when I got less than $3? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor."

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + (-.20) + (-.60) + (-1.40) + (-2.40) + (-3.40) + (-12.00) = (-$20) savings on dinner

Then the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something: they were $48 short!

And that, boys, girls, and college professors, is how America's progressive tax system works. Those who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table any more.

After all, there are lots of good restaurants in Monaco and the Caribbean.

Gary D. Gaddy has figured out who the rich are -- everybody who has more money than he has.  

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 24, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:31 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:18 AM EDT
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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Here's a different lesson on taxation: A reply to a reply

BELOW IS A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Chapel Hill Herald written by North Carolina State Senator Eleanor Kinnaird in reply to the column above: "Dinner for Ten: A Parable of Tax Cuts."  It is a classic liberal response:  all heart and no head.  Although Ellie is as sweet as can be, her malign characterization of how the wealthy diners in her parable became wealthy makes me want to beat them up too.  Any chance any of the wealthy got there by making good personal decisions, studying diligently, working hard, investing their resources well or taking prudent risks on good business ideas, all of which benefited not just them and their families but their communities and their countries as well?  Didn't think so.  (And as for the primary point of the column, that if you cut taxes it will be the people who pay taxes who will get their money back, is there any reason that there are no observations on that point?)


The Letter:  Here's a different lesson on taxation

Gary Gaddy in his column posits a tax lesson using an example of 10 friends who go to dinner together weekly and split the bill in increasingly uneven ways. Those who end up paying the least push the balance onto the unlucky few, who, as a result, abandon the dinner altogether and find restaurants in Monaco and the Caribbean and presumably another group willing to split the bill evenly.

I will posit a different set of friends going to dinner together. Two are hedge fund managers who specialized in collecting mortgages lent to poor people who didn't understand the devastating terms of the loans. Two are industrialists who closed their U.S. plants and moved them off shore where they can pay low wages and ignore safety and environmental standards. Two are factory workers who lost their jobs when the factories closed. Two are single women whose husbands took off and left them with children to raise by themselves. Two work for fast-food restaurants at minimum wages.

In the beginning, they can all split the bill evenly. But after a while, the factory workers run out of unemployment payments, those with the balloon payments on their mortgages are losing their homes to foreclosure, the single women no longer get support payments and the fast-food workers' cars blow up, leaving them without a way to get to work. (There is no transit in their town.)

In the meantime, the hedge fund managers get $10 million bonuses, the industrialists buy homes in Monaco and the Caribbean, and all four stop going to church, where they are commanded to take care of the poor and love their neighbors as themselves.

Eleanor Kinnaird

This letter to the editor was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Wednesday September 29, 2010 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:20 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:44 AM EDT
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Friday, September 17, 2010
How I met my wife: The true story finally revealed

WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME how I met my wife I usually respond with a question: "Do you want the story we told our parents or the true story?" Or, if I am in a hurry, I say "On a tennis court" (which is true – and is the short version of what we told our parents). You, my loyal readers, deserve better: the unexpurgated, the unadulterated, the unabridged, and only slightly edited story of our romance.

We did meet on a tennis court. This is true. The first time I ever saw Sandra was in the parking lot of Cedar Falls Park on the way to the tennis courts – for a match with her. Saying "we met on a tennis court," of course, does not explain how we both came to be there.

This is the part that we weren't so sure our parents would understand, so we kindly left out. (Now that they are all over 80 years of age, we think they can handle it. I guess shortly we will find out if we are right.) The true story is we met through a personal ad.

Do understand that personal ads weren't quite as sleazy in 1994 as they are now. Normal people could meet normal people through an Independent classified then. I would like to say it was through the ad that I ran – but she never responded to mine. (I am not sure which part of my ad may have dissuaded her from contacting me: "Looking for a Cindy Crawford/Mother Teresa mix," or the reference implying I enjoyed listening to Barry Manilow, or the final "No navel rings!" line – or perhaps it was because she never read it at all.) But the truth of the matter is we met when I responded to her ad.

This is shocking, isn't it? Shocking that I would have to stoop to reading personal ads to find a mate. Shocking that my lovely and talented wife would have to stoop to running a personal ad to get a date. Shocking that the ad was a fraud.

I wish I could find the original ad so I could quote it verbatim. I tore it out of the paper and kept it for a long time – and I remember it pretty well. Here are some of the key phrases: "Uptown girl looking for a downtown guy" and "Over-educated white female" and "Not fat, not skinny" and "Is willing to lower her standards, this once, just because she needs a tennis partner." She sounded perfect to me.

I fell for the person who wrote that ad – and here’s the fraud – she didn't write it. She didn't even submit it to the Independent. Her good buddy Bill – her regular tennis and squash opponent – who was a professional single (he once ran a dating service, probably to get dates), and a con man extraordinaire, "helped her write it" and "ran it for her."  

But after a while – that is, the first moment I saw her smile as she greeted me in the Cedar Falls parking lot – I was falling for her, too.

Need some proof? Here are some song lyrics (which are still looking for music after all these years) that I wrote just days after we first met.


Perfect For Me

My eyes are open. I'm looking too.
I'm still falling in love with you.

I can see flaws, imperfections and lots of scars,
And I feel I know a lot about who you are.

I'm not looking at perfection. I still like what I see.
You're not perfect. You're just perfect for me.

(Written May 8, 1994.)


But, of course, over time things change. Just the other day, I wrote in one of my ubiquitous little notebooks, this sentence: "When I met my wife, she was perfect – but since then she's gotten better." It wasn't a joke.

Gary D. Gaddy lost 6-0 and 6-0 to his future wife on their first-date tennis match, and is still looking for proper tennis revenge.


A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 17, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy



Special addendum for my on-line readers

Following my post, my California friend Jerry Meadors commented on Facebook:

Such a charming story -- and then you brought her to Richmond and came through the front door of my house and introduced Sandy to me from a great height -- that was because I was up on a ladder in my living room. And I was thrilled to meet her and certain she was a perfect mate for the likes of you. Of course, your referring to yourself in the personal ads article as "normal" still has me thinking! Sorry, you are far too eccentric to be reduced to "normal."

Then Florida friend Jan Wilhelm added:

lol....would have to agree with Jerry. Has anyone ever called Gary normal?

These multiple comments seemed to require that I defend myself thusly:

Sorry if I implied that I was normal. Not in this lifetime. After Richmond we went to Sandra's 20th Sweet Briar reunion. I wrote "Gary Gaddy" on my name tag. Underneath my name I put "Acme Dating Service." I spent most the night I apologizing for it, saying, "Sorry, but I had to, it's company policy." As I said, "Not in this lifetime."

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:50 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:22 AM EDT
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Friday, September 10, 2010
NCAA and UNC football inquiries end as players cleared

CHAPEL HILL -- The ongoing internal and external investigations of the University of North Carolina football program came to an abrupt end Thursday as the NCAA acknowledged that both prongs of inquiry, the first into alleged "improper agent contact and inappropriate benefits" and the second into to alleged academic improprieties, were both the results of gross misunderstandings.

"Several UNC players," said Lissa Broome, UNC's former faculty athletics representative to the NCAA, "readily admitted to 'improper academic assistance' when being interviewed by NCAA investigators -- but we failed to clarify that this was not assistance received but assistance given."

Further, when UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin traveled to a party in Miami, supposedly sponsored by a registered agent for professional athletes, it had been assumed that when Austin had said that "a financial contribution was involved," that that meant that the agent had funded his attendance at the party. In neither case, the NCAA now realizes were the original assumptions of improper conduct valid, according to Broome.

In an exclusive interview over dinner at Provence in Carrboro, the embattled Austin explained how the misunderstandings arose -- and what actually happened.

Austin began by saying, "Jeanine [Editor's note: This is apparently the previously unnamed tutor implicated in the investigation into improper academic assistance] was struggling in her graduate-level English class, and we (teammate Greg Little and Austin) felt, given all the help she had given us in organizing our study time and properly allocating our efforts preparing for examinations, that the least we could do would be to help her in return."

"Writing comes easy for me, as is evidenced by the 2400 tweets I posted on my Twitter account before Coach (Butch Davis) asked me to shut it down," said Austin, "so it was not hard for me to help her get off the schneid with her writer's block."

"Now, we didn't write the paper for her; we just helped with some ideas and some clever phrasing," said Austin. "It is clear from the spelling, if nothing else, that she didn't just cut and paste verbatim passages from my work," Austin said.

"I actually don't know that much about medieval characterizations of chivalry -- but I do know knights had bling. That I do know about. Greg and I have got the Black Knight thing going on, for real," Austin added as he straightened the collar on his meticulously pressed pink shirt.

As for receiving assistance from current pro and former UNC football player Kentwan Balmer this summer, Austin said, "I sold two of my nicest gold neck chains to pay for trainers to work with Kentwan in the off-season. We (Austin and former UNC player Cam Thomas) just came along to help guide the workouts. Kentwan was struggling from paycheck to paycheck at the time. If helping a friend is an NCAA violation, then so be it."

Austin, as he fiddled with his mesclun and arugula mix, also explained the purpose of the hundred or so texts and phone calls made last fall between recently resigned associate head football coach John Blake and Gary Whichard, the agent implicated in the now discredited accusations against the UNC players.

"A lot of the phone calls between Coach and Gary were to make sure that I didn't cross any lines that the NCAA has established for contact between amateur athletes and their professional counterparts," said Austin.

"Gary really knows exactly where all those lines are," added Austin.

Austin said he and Little did make a trip to Miami, but it was a field trip as an applied component of Austin's oenological studies, according to Austin. In addition to his regular full course load in the spring, Austin was enrolled in a correspondence course in Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration entitled "Wines and Spirits," which develops finer aesthetic appreciation for various libations, and which was highly recommended to him by several former UNC athletes, including football player Julius Peppers and basketball player Rasheed Wallace.

“I did attend a South Beach affair," said Austin, "but only while acting as a volunteer sommelier for this educational event. I personally brought along a full case of wine with an array of lesser-known Finger Lake appellations, but drank only two small carafes.”

"I know I am a big boy [Editor's note: The official UNC football roster lists Austin as 6'3" and 310 pounds] but I'm sorta the opposite of that scrawny little Kobayashi dude who can eat 50 hot dogs and he's just getting started," said Austin as he sipped his pinot noir. "With me, a couple of tasting glasses of petit chablis and I'm like totally tipsy and tweeting the stupidest stuff you ever read," said Austin.

Gary D. Gaddy noticed that the LSU game on Saturday night really went south for UNC right after Marvin Austin was featured on the screen.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 10, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:00 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 25, 2010 10:57 PM EDT
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Friday, September 3, 2010
Dear Anne Marie: a thank you note to my niece

DUE TO MY HEAVY INVOLVEMENT in my niece's wedding this past weekend, I did not have time to write a column. In lieu thereof, I am publishing a copy of my thank-you note to her. My regular column should return next week.


Dear Anne Marie,

First off, I would like to thank you for hugging me right after your Uncle Cliff finished singing the song I wrote. (Well, me and Earl Scruggs, but you know what I'm talking about.) As you approached me, I will admit, I experienced a little trepidation. I confess that I thought you might slug me instead of hug me. In light of that I was working on a defense of my words -- but I am glad I didn't need to use it.

[Note: Defamation, which is, according to Wikipedia, also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for published words), communicates a claim of fact, express or implied, that cast an individual in a negative light. To be defamation, this claim must be false and communicated to someone other than the person defamed. Truth is often the best defense against a charge of defamation.]

After everything you had done to make for a perfect wedding (six beautiful bridesmaids, six handsome groomsmen, stunning you and suave John arriving in a horse-drawn carriage all adorned with flowers, flower petals strewn down the grassy aisle, and a romantically lit and decorously decorated reception hall), I clearly knew that you wanted a storybook ceremony and reception. So, I probably could have anticipated that hearing bass and banjo playing the theme music to the Beverly Hillbillies was not quite what you had in mind just after the cake cutting. (After looking over your single-spaced, three-page "Timeline for Anne Marie and John's wedding weekend," I can see that there is no entry labeled "Be embarrassed by aunt and uncles performing corny hillbilly music.")

We understand that Pachelbel's Canon in D was more what you had in mind. As for the Ballad of Anne Marie, I certainly did not intend to make any comparison between you and Jed Clampett, express or implied. I am sure you understand that that song simply provided the musical and lyrical framework by which a story might be told.

Please consider that you did become a vegetarian -- while living in a household of omnivores -- by your own decision when you were in kindergarten and have remained so ever since. This is well established, as are your dad's stories about having to order McDonalds Cheeseburger Kiddie Meals for you -- then telling them to "hold the burger."

Reliable sources at that first first-grade parent-teacher conference also state that your teacher claimed that when she tried to teach you to write your name "correctly," you said to her, and I quote, "Well, that's how you make your 'A,' this is how I make mine."

I am sure you realize that the story of your secretly feeding Daisy chocolate when you were both just pups only shows your giving nature. Sorry if any unpleasant memories of the cleanup afterward were evoked.

Also, I am sure that John understood that when our song told him that he should learn to say "Yes, ma'am," "I'm sorry" and "You're right again, honey," that is sound marital advice for any husband. (At least, that's what Sandra tells me -- to which I always reply, "You're right again, honey.")

And, despite the rhyming "gloat" and "thank-you note" lines in the song, I wouldn't really expect you, or anybody else, to write a thank-you note for what we added to your perfect wedding -- though your dad already has.

And, another thing, even though I was standing right next to the bucket of sparklers when they exploded sending all of the wedding guests scrambling and setting off the fire alarm, it wasn't my fault. Really.

Hope you and John are enjoying St. Lucia.

With love,

Your Uncle Gary

p.s. The cheeseburgers at the rehearsal dinner were really good. Tell John that I said thanks.

Gary D. Gaddy is very proud of his favorite (for this week at least) niece who is almost as hardheaded as her favorite (before this week anyway) uncle and just about exactly twice as sweet and thoughtful.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 3, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:33 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 3, 2010 10:33 AM EDT
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Friday, August 27, 2010
It's time for a timely yet timeless column

SOMETIMES I LIKE TO WRITE timeless columns. Now many authors have written timeless works, like Mark Twain writing Tom Sawyer, or Tolstoy writing War and Peace, or Shakespeare writing one of those plays he wrote. My timeless columns are not like that. They are the columns that I write before I go out of town, or for when I get lazy, columns which deal with eternal questions of truth and beauty, and as such are not tied to mundane day-to-day events, so they can run anytime. Like today.

U.S. brands Rolling Stone a terrorist organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a sniper affiliated with the periodical took out the commanding general of United States forces in Afghanistan with a single shot, the U.S. State Department has added Rolling Stone magazine to its official list of terrorist organizations.

"The End of History" sequel released

NEW YORK – Francis Fukuyama, the author of "The End of History," released today the much awaited sequel. In a radical departure for modern literature, the book, "The End of Mathematics," will have no page numbers.

Gaddy enters Times bestseller list at one

NEW YORK – While the literati have long debated the many reasons the literary works of Gary D. Gaddy have never appeared on any of the New York Times Bestseller Lists, the most obvious is obvious: he doesn't write for the narrowly defined categories to which the Times confines all literature, namely fiction and non-fiction.

Writing what would best be described as non-faction (which is a post-post-post modernist genre in which the socio-cultural boundaries are repeatedly erased and redrawn until the paper disappears and only the essence of the inter-subjective reality of reader-author mutual delusions remains), Gaddy entered the newly unveiled Times non-faction list at number one this week. There were no other entries.

Budget deficits come to halt as red ink runs out

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal deficit ceased growing this week for the first time in almost two decades as spending temporarily ground to a standstill while Congress seeks to find a new source of red ink.

"The printing presses are fired up and ready to roll out currency. That's not the problem. We have plenty of green ink. What we don't have is enough red ink to print Office of Management Budget charts," said Fred Pfundmaker, head of the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving.

Experts say the shortage occurred as the People's Republic of China works to corner the market in red inks, dyes and tints, to be used for its printing of a new edition of the world map.

Congress All-a-Day Holiday bill to end recession

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the recession continuing on and unemployment still at or near a 70-year high, Congress acted decisively today to boost the economy by declaring every day of the year a paid holiday. Sponsors of the All-a-Day bill say it will stimulate the travel and tourism industries, help retail sales with the greatly increased number of holiday sales and reduce congestion from rush-hour traffic.

"A Monday off every now and then is fine but it wasn't the continuous push the economy needs at this time," said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Also under consideration as a recession-busting measure is a special sales tax on items on sale.

NOW sues Mensa to allow womyn members

NEW YORK – The National Organization of Womyn has filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to force Mensa, the international society which limits membership to those with high IQs, to take womyn as members.

"We are puzzled by the suit frankly – and we're not puzzled by much," said Mensa president Leopold Leuchtend. "We always have allowed women – which is, by the way, spelled with an "e" and not a "y". In any case, we are, as a result of this suit, reviewing our entrance requirements and may not in the future," said Leuchtend.

The NOW suit also asks the court to require that Mensa change its name to Mynsa.

Elvis impersonators charged with identity theft

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – A nationwide sting operation has led to the arrest of over 25,000 individuals for a massive scam involving the systematic theft of the identity of Elvis Aron Presley. Despite extensive efforts, this column's reporters were unable to reach Mr. Presley for comment.

Gary D. Gaddy thinks this column may have been written by a Gary D. Gaddy impersonator.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 27, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:03 AM EST
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Friday, August 20, 2010
"Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus," a cautionary tale

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – I really would like to say that it wasn't my fault – but I can't. I really can't. Four years ago on the weekend of the Fourth of July, I made one of those fateful decisions that changes the course of a life – or two. I bought my wife a banjo.

I was careful to buy her the cheapest banjo money could buy. (What you buy your 10-year-old child for Christmas so you won't be out of too much cash when it gets played for two days before it starts gathering dust – as I figured this one would.) It was the Yugo of banjos. And I got an instructional book "With CD!" thrown in "for free" on the deal – the aptly named "Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus."

As usual, my wife did not stay an ignoramus for long. My lovely and talented wife, you see, is addicted to learning stuff. Math, computer science, law, and now, the banjo. She buys banjo books and reads them. She orders CDs and listens to them. She has me order instructional DVDs and studies them. She has Sirius radio in her car permanently attuned to the bluegrass channel. Further, she goes to banjo lessons, banjo seminars, banjo lectures, banjo camps – and she has figured out that if she is willing to drive for one hour one way, she can go to twenty-some bluegrass jams each month. (Which she hasn't done all in one month – yet.)

I quickly figured out that if I ever wanted to see her again, I needed to play a bluegrass instrument. I tried harmonica. Then, under duress from our Up Cane Creek band mates, I bought an acoustic bass guitar. (Not an upright on which there are no frets and cannot be played by someone with a tin ear – but one that looks like a pregnant guitar, like the bass they use in a mariachi band.)

Which is how the two of us ended up in Elkins, West Virginia, attending two consecutive weeks at the Augusta Heritage Center studying bluegrass and old time music. My wife came to study melodic, three-finger banjo pickin' and clawhammer frailin'. I thought I was going to study bass.

For Bluegrass Week we lived in an un-air-conditioned college dorm. And, as for the sonic booms emitting from every door closing – at all hours of day and night, I can't say they didn't tell us to bring ear plugs. We figured out the solution to that – stay up late enough jamming and you can sleep through anything.

And it was reunion week for us as there were 10, count'em 10, MerleFest JamCamp veterans at Bluegrass Week, including Dave. Dave, who wore a nametag that said Dave-Bob – to avoid confusion with the other JamCamp Daves – also wore a bright red-and-white bowling shirt that had "Frank" embroidered above the pocket. (Dave is a single dad and his 11-year-old son proudly gave it to him for his birthday.) Dave, or Dave-Bob, said he doesn't mind being called Frank.

Other notable attendees included Dr. Jon, who drove from Colorado Springs – in Colorado – to attend all five Augusta sessions, who says he is a doctor who works one week a month, and does things like going to Augusta for the other three. He made a respectable showing in the flat-foot dancing contest.

Before the two weeks were over, I had not only studied bass, but also songwriting, harmonica, harmony vocals, whistling – and yodeling from the Maudlin Brothers. And I fell in love, the most in-love I have been (with a teacher, that is) since my fourth-grade teacher, Miss Yates, announced her engagement. Miss Yates was deposed by Ms. Emily Eagen, the world whistling champion who taught harmony singing. She is, as I described her to her father – in a slight understatement – "the best teacher in the universe."

Sandra also took "Fiddle from Scratch" – which was affectionately known as "Fiddle from Screech" – by those fortunate not to be too close to the class when in session.

I have a favor to ask of my readers, will somebody please tell me not to buy her a fiddle?

Gary D. Gaddy will perform with Up Cane Creek this Saturday morning at the Summer Celebration at Reno Sharpe's Store. Lots of good music, so y'all come. (Go to to see festival schedule.)

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 20, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:03 AM EST
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Friday, August 13, 2010
What it was was futbol -- again

A WHILE BACK MY WIFE'S FIRST COUSIN (once removed), Bobo Herring, came down from Traphill up in Wilkes County to visit his eldest son. Willy Bob, who now goes by William, is attending the University of North Carolina on a Morehead Scholarship. This is what Bobo told the folks back in Wilkes when he got home from his visit.

* * * *

The first thing Will-ee-um tolt me after I showed up down thar on that lil’ Chapel Hill was next see-mester he was a-goin' to "study a broad." I tolt him he shouldn't oughta talk that a-way about the ladies and he oughter be keepin' his eyes to hisself. Will-ee-um said he didn't mean it like that. He meant he was goin' to a furr'en country to study "another language and culture."

Seems to me Chapel Hill oughta be about another enough. And I sure couldn't rightly see why anyone would want to go to a furr'en country where they speak a language cain't no one understand. Besides, when that boy talks these days, I'd be lucky if I kin git one word of what he says. Will-ee-um says he got "diction" now. I'll be dog if'n I know what that’d be.

After meetin' what Will-ee-um said was one of his favorite perfessers, Dr. Klinegarden, it's clear as corn likker Will-ee-um could talk worse. The perfesser talked so furr'en Will-ee-um had to trans-a-late fer us.

Will-ee-um said Dr. Klinegarden had a named chair in the English de-part-ment. I tolt Doc Klinegarden that that was real nice but back home I had a whole set a-rockers up on my porch -- but I didn't call 'em nothin'. Will-ee-um and him, they laughed and laughed. Why the fore, I do not know.

Then Will-ee-um said he was goin' to take me over to Felzer's field, where I was 'spectin' to see some cows or corn or somethin' worth the while, but it was another'n a-them sportin' contests Chapel Hillers are likin' so much. The field was akin to that'n I saw from that there Pope's Box over in Kingdom Stadium last fall but there wadn’t so many lines on it and these boys they weren't so big as them football young'uns.

When we got up closer, I could see they weren't no boys at'all. They was girls! I never seen the like of it. Them girls was runnin' all over the place in their skivvies, what like them tall young'uns was wearin' in that Dean's Dome last winter. Some of those gals was wearin' baby blue but other'n of 'em was wearin' skimpy outfits red as a devil suit. Will-ee-um said they was a pack of wolfs; and they sure did act like it, knockin’ them blue girls down ever chance they got.

Will-ee-um said it was football. I said it weren't. I seen a football match and this weren't it. Will-ee-um then said, real slow, it was fútbol, not football, and that's how they say it in Spain, where he says he's a-goin' to study a-broad. He said he was a-goin' to study Spanish which is what they talk in Spain and over at that Mex-ee-can restaurant we went to over in Boone once't.

On the field, them convicts was back, this time the only thing they was a-doin’ is a-blowin' their whistles and a-handin’ out lil’ red and yeller cards, sorta like them car sellers over in Hick’ry when you walk on their lot.

Anyway, them girls was runnin' back and forth and back again, like they was bein' chased by a whole nest of hornets -- but kickin' a head of cauliflow'r as they was a-goin'. Every now and agin, one of ‘em would smack that cauliflow’r with their forehead, just like Verne Thomasson did to Elmore Pritcherd's noggin when he got in a tussle with them Pritcherd boys over Lula Mae Alcott.

There was big scoop nets sittin' at both ends of that field. (Them scoop net were like you'd use to get minners at Lineberger's Store when you're a-goin' up to Macedony Pond fishin' 'ceptin' way bigger.) It seemed kinda like most of 'em fútbol gals wanted to kick that cauliflow'r in one or the other of 'em nets, but they was two big gals standin’ right in 'em who'd have nothin' of it. They'd punch that cauliflow'r, and hit it and kick it back to the other end. Then they'd all start over again.

I never could fer the life of me figger what was the point to it. Nobody never did get a cauliflow'r in one of 'em nets.

After that convict blew his whistle one long last time, them girls lined up and shook hands as nice as can be. But I'm thinkin' if they're anything like Lula Mae Alcott, that won't be the end of nothin'.

Gary D. Gaddy never played fútbol with any girls.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 13, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:57 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 25, 2010 11:06 PM EDT
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Friday, August 6, 2010
Living easy in the fourth-ranked state of laziness

I GOT UP LATE yesterday morning. I was still lounging around in my pajamas, reading the saved up papers, trying to catch up on the news I missed while on my beach vacation. I was feeling kind of hurried -- since my wife and I are leaving for a two-week-long mountain hiatus on Sunday -- when I read an article that stopped me in my tracks.

This preposterous article was a news report that came out last week saying that North Carolina is the fourth laziest state in the United States. I was disappointed, dismayed and ready to dismember whoever authored this ridiculous report. How could anyone suggest that our beloved North Carolina is the fourth laziest state? We are far better than that.

I can tell you this, we're not behind Louisiana, Mississippi or Arkansas in anything -- and certainly not laziness. I refuse to accept that we Tar Heels are any lower than first.

These so-called scientists say we're fat (ranked 10th) and don't exercise enough. Leisure time spent on “physically inactive” activities, including surfing the Web, they don’t consider "exercise." Obviously, these researchers have never seen me "surfing the web." I get more exercised "surfing the web" than Lance Armstrong gets climbing the Pyrenees. When I started researching this article on-line, my heart rate doubled and my blood pressure about went through the roof. Man, I was exercised.

These guys probably never visited our fair state. I say, along with Lamar Caulder, of Raleigh, "Let them come to see if we're lazy." I say, "Come with me to any Golden Corral in North Carolina, and watch the people hiking back and forth to the food bar dozens of times, and then tell me we don't get any exercise."

Sadly, based on the letters to the editor following this article, some North Carolinians think that being lazy is a bad thing. Obviously, these people aren't thinking very much. (Do note that thinking too much is one of the factors that got North Carolina a fourth-place, rather than a first-place, finish in the lazy race.)

Laziness, my friends, is not a problem. Laziness is the solution -- to about every problem.

Laziness is the engine of progress

Most Americans don't realize that the problem with America today is not too many lazy people; it is that there aren't enough lazy people. The real progress of mankind has not been made by the hard work of diligent laborers, as the ignorami suppose. Real progress comes from work-shirking lazy people. At my best, I have been one of those deliverers of progress. At times I have been so lazy that I spent all day trying to save five minutes worth of work.  

"There has got to be an easier way" is not just the catchphrase of the sluggard; it is the mantra of progress. Every labor-saving device was invented by a lazy person. The hard-working worker gets out a shovel and digs a hole. The lazy man gets out of the hole and invents the backhoe. Which would you say, despiser of the lazy man, does more good?

Robert Heinlein, who wrote books for us to read in our leisure time, said it well: "Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."

I read the biography of Thomas Edison who patented more than a thousand inventions while sleeping something like two hours a night. My thought, how many thousands would he have had if he had ever gotten a good night’s rest? The great chemist Frederick Kekulé discovered the circular molecular structure of benzene in a dream about a snake biting its own tail. You don't get that kind of deep revelation catching catnaps like Edison.

 So, relax as you meditate on this thought-provoking column, knowing you are helping North Carolina take its place at the top.

Gary D. Gaddy works hard at being a man of leisure.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 6, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:32 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, July 31, 2010 6:37 PM EDT
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Friday, July 30, 2010
Plumlees' gain majority, wrest power from Krzyzewski

DURHAM -- Duke University head men's basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski's 30-year coaching reign effectively ended on Tuesday, say multiple sources close to the program. The Plumlee Family Syndicate, LLC, now has full operational control of the basketball program in respect to every decision from making the season schedule to managing individual players' playing times to selecting targets for future recruiting, according to an unnamed source on the basketball staff.

Krzyzewski will remain as figurehead, losing neither his position nor pay, just his power, the insiders say.

The shift involved no action on the part of the Duke University athletic administration or the university as a whole. Neither Duke Athletic Director Kevin M. White nor University President Richard H. Brodhead knew of this seismic shift in the university's premier athletic program at the time of this article's first press run.

"What happened here is unprecedented in college athletics," said John Feinstein, who is a sports writer, sports analyst and a Duke graduate with connections inside the Duke basketball program.

"This occurred purely as a matter within the basketball program -- and even then it was not a revolt of the coaching staff or the players, but a legally mandated transfer of power within the program. It was something that could only happen in a purely democratic organization like a Krzyzewski-led basketball team," said Feinstein.

Every decision on the Blue Devil team, from starting lineups to last-second play calls, has always been made by straight one-person, one-vote by the team, with Krzyzewski only voting to break ties, according to Feinstein. "It is the same system he used with the Olympic team," said Feinstein, "except with Team USA, of course, K (Krzyzewski) doesn't break the ties, (former Duke player Carlos) Boozer does that."

How this happened, Feinstein says, is clear: Krzyzewski was caught off guard in what he thought was a recruiting coup of the first order. Even as a master manager, some rivals say manipulator, of people, Krzyzewski never foresaw the full ramification of one recent recruiting decision. Many outsiders thought the tipping point occurred with the commitment to Duke of Marshall Plumlee, the younger brother of two current players, rising-junior Miles Plumlee and rising-sophomore Mason Plumlee -- but Feinstein said not.

The key event was the signing of a written contract made between Krzyzewski and Perky Plumlee, the father of Miles, Mason and Marshall, before the eldest son, Miles, would commit to Duke. According to Feinstein, the contract guaranteed scholarship offers to "any Division-I-eligible Plumlee family member" -- which is the clause that got Krzyzewski commitments from Mason and Marshall -- as he expected -- but also brought commitments to five other family members.

These include the Plumlee brothers’ father, Perky, their mother, Leslie, their uncle, Chad Schultz, another uncle, William Schultz, and their grandfather, Albert Schultz.

After gaining a majority voting bloc on the Duke University men's basketball team, the Plumlee family immediately took full control. Perky spoke frankly earlier this week about what the family's overall commitment means for Duke. "It means all Plumlees, all the time," said Perky.

Incredibly, it is not clear, college basketball analysts say, that the Blue Devils will not actually be better over the next several years with the little-used Plumlees and their kin dominating the Blue Devil roster than the past season's national championship team.

Perky, besides being a lawyer, played basketball at Tennessee Tech. Uncle Chad played basketball at Wisconsin-Oshkosh from 1983-1986. Uncle William played basketball at Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the NAIA national runner-up team for the 1971-1972 season. And Grandfather Albert played basketball at Michigan Tech in 1944 and the U.S. Air Force Service Team in 1945.

Mother Leslie played basketball at Purdue, and, analysts noted, is a trained pharmacist.

It is unclear whether the youngest Plumlee sibling, sister Madeline, has any interest in basketball, but if she does, she will also be guaranteed a spot on the men’s roster.


Gary D. Gaddy’s favorite niece (this week anyway), who used to be someone who spit after saying the name of Tyler Hansbrough, recently wrote of herself: "Anyone who knows me will tell you that I bleed Carolina Blue."

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 30, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 8:31 PM EDT
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Friday, July 16, 2010
The Decision: Gaddy to stay put at The Chapel Hill Herald

CHAPEL HILL -- Swirls of speculation and unprecedented journalistic frenzy -- stirred by the recent Lebronathon -- came to a head this week with the growing recognition that a local iconic superstar could bolt on The Chapel Hill Herald, like James did the Cleveland Cavaliers, at a moment's notice.

Gary D. Gaddy's free agency, they came to realize, had created an opportunity for him to re-sculpt the local media landscape for a generation, a prospect which frightened The Chapel Hill Herald's management almost as much as it excited its competitors and exhilarated the remaining reading public.

Rumors were rife that Gaddy, The Chapel Hill Herald's leading regular Friday columnist, was being actively courted by an array of media outlets, including The Carrboro Citizen, Carrboro Free Press, The Chapel Hill News, The Daily Tar Heel, The News of Orange County, Community Sports News, Chapel Hill (magazine), WCHL-AM, WCOM-LP, WUNC- FM, WUNC-TV, Southern Neighbor and The Peoples Channel.

Insiders in Gaddy's camp quickly quashed speculation that Gaddy might move to Carolina Woman, which includes Orange County in its distribution area.

Despite initial indications Gaddy was set on leaving for greener (in dollar value) pastures, sources close to people close to lower middle management in the Paxton Media Group (of Paducah, Kentucky) say that The Chapel Hill Herald continued to work overtime with Gaddy's coterie of lawyer and agent to keep him on their non-payroll.

"My team talked to other teams about building a new team, but the Herald people just teamed up on me," said Gaddy.

"My Dan (CH Herald editor Dan Way) has been a lot smarter than their Dan (Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert) in dealing with prospect of a superstar leaving for a place with more championship mojo," said Gaddy in a news release leaked to the press by Gaddy's media handlers.

"I don't want to compare myself to LeBron James -- who knows if he can even write 141 characters in a row on single topic? -- but, like BronBron, Gary Gaddy has to do what will make Gary Gaddy happy," said Gary Gaddy via a post on

"That's not selfish. If Gary Gaddy is not happy, nobody in his entourage is going to be happy," said Gaddy.

Gaddy explained The Decision to stay at The Chapel Hill Herald this way: "I have a great supporting cast at the Herald. (Dan) Way doesn't screw with my stuff. (Bob) Ashley only feels compelled to respond every now and then to my columns. And (Nancy) Wykle fixes the Herald website instantly whenever I ask. It's like staying at a really nice Motel Six. They always leave the light on," said Gaddy.

"When (Neil) Offen (formerly the titular head of the Chapel Hill Herald) got bumped to Durham, I considered a move then. But I decided to give the new guy a try. Both of them (Offen and Way) are knowledgeable and experienced journalists, so neither of them ever had a clue what to do with my stuff. But they’re both just smart enough to just leave well enough alone,” said Gaddy.

"They don't even mess with my spilling and grammer. In fact, after 'correcting' some of my non-errors into errors (Yes, it is the Geneva Conventions, with an 's' on the end, guys), they even stopped 'fixing' my tpyos. Every writer wants to work at a place like this. Talk about fredom of speach, I got it,” said Gaddy.

It is reported by people close to people close to WCHL’s Ron Stutts, that despite Gaddy's broadcast-quality voice, Gaddy had quickly eliminated local market radio and TV from any serious consideration.

"Anybody who knows me, knows I am only here on earth for one reason: to win. I keep my eyes on the Prize. It's all about Pulitizers for me. No disrespect to the Emmy, but 'Frasier' won 37 of the things," Gaddy said in an exclusive interview with

"And radio? Nobody even knows what their awards are called. How lame is that? Who stays up late listening to the Marconi's?” Gaddy asked.

The next stage of The Decision is in preparation: a 16-page full-color supplement to The Chapel Hill Herald, entitled “The Decision,” which will be a pictorial history of Gary Gaddy's illustrious career, thus far, with The Chapel Hill Herald.  The Decision will feature hand-selected advertisements from Gaddy’s favorite area eateries, including Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café in the Courtyard on West Franklin, Squid’s on Fordham Boulevard, Saratoga Grill on Churton Street in historic Hillsborough and Carrburrito’s in Carrboro on Rosemary near the intersection with Main.


Gary D. Gaddy remains, decidedly,The Chapel Hill Herald's leading regular Friday columnist.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 16, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:52 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:58 AM EDT
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Friday, July 9, 2010
Documenting the undocumented workers

I HAD BEEN HEARING ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, and I wondered what all the brouhaha was about. I looked up illegal and found out it meant "not legal" -- and so it seemed like that this could be problem. This inspired me to investigate more deeply. So, I started reading the newspapers and newsmagazines and found out that according to their coverage these individuals weren't illegal after all; they are just undocumented.

I was relieved. That sure is better. This seems like a much more tractable problem. They just need to find their documents. I have had the same problem on occasion myself. For example, on my wedding day, I couldn't find my marriage license. Since I wanted to go on a honeymoon with my wife, I thought I might need one. (Wouldn't it have been embarrassing if the motel desk clerk had asked to see our marriage license and I had to say, "I'm sorry I don't have it with me." It's possible the clerk would have accepted the evidence of rice in my shoes, but I didn't want to risk it.)

Anyway, I did eventually find my original marriage license -- but only months after my wedding. (It was in my office file cabinet, filed under "M.") This experience makes me think that I could be of some help to these undocumented individuals in finding their missing documents. My technique then was to be persistent. If you just keep looking, you will, in my experience, eventually find the missing documents. But, over time, my frequent experience in losing and then finding things has led me to a better way.

Here's how you start: Think about the last place you would have put the document. (Not the last place you remember putting the document -- that almost never works. That’s usually the first place you look, and, in my experience, it is never there.) No, think about the last place you would even think of putting it. Look there. My experience is that whenever you look for something you have lost or misplaced, you will find it the last place you look. So, start there! It saves a lot of time and energy.

But, if that doesn't work, my further advice is to look elsewhere. Instead of giving up, look in a completely different place. I usually start looking for my lost keys under the street light. Although it is easier to see there, that usually doesn’t seem to work. What I do then is go back and see if I left them in my house.

So, if the undocumented persons can’t find their documents anywhere in their dwellings where they are staying now, it may be they should consider that they left them at home. If they would go home and get their documents that would solve everything, it seems to me. And, then, even if they have a hard time finding them, at least they will be at home while they look.

I know some people could be reluctant to do that because their homes are far away, many even in other countries, and it would take a while to go and get their documents. So, perhaps the U.S. government could help with bus tickets or airfare to get them back home. People without documents should consider taking the help, since after they went home and got their papers, when they got back here they wouldn't be undocumented anymore. That, it seems to me, would be better for everyone, because I am not sure anything will get done around here until they get back.


Gary D. Gaddy, when he travels to foreign countries, always carries his documents with him and a photocopy in his luggage.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 9, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:27 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 9, 2010 9:31 AM EDT
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Friday, July 2, 2010
The gravity of the law: defy it at your own peril

THE LAW OF GRAVITY IS.  No point in discussing it, because you are not going to change it. You don't have to like it, but you will obey it -- and you ignore it at your own peril. On this, I hope, we all agree.

There are many laws that we may think that we can choose to ignore because their consequences are not immediate and obvious, but that does not mean that disobedience is without consequence. You may, for example, ingest small amounts of a toxin every day without any obvious physical costs, but, if you continue, the odds are you will pay. Consider most aging cigarette smokers.

We may appear to be able to choose not to obey many laws, but in doing so we put ourselves in jeopardy. In the case of man-made laws, we risk the justice of man. Our prisons are full of those who have done that. With or without a commandment chiseled in stone, stealing risks the wrath of man.

In the case of so-called natural laws, we risk facing the brunt of nature. Our hospitals and graveyards are filled with tightrope walkers who worked without a net, figurative and otherwise.

Besides natural physical laws, there are natural moral laws. We may think that we are free to live as we like, but not without natural consequences.

There are natural consequences to moral, or immoral, actions -- whether we realize it or not. Those who lie as a matter of course may see some temporary benefits, but in the long haul, as most of us have seen, the person who does so will live a life bereft of any meaningful personal relationship.

[I know some of you don't believe in God, but play along with me for a while, if you will.]

In the case of God's laws, we risk the even more consequential consequences defying of an eternal God. It would, I would think, behoove us to know and obey those laws, as much if not more so than the laws of man or the so-called laws of nature.

I remember hearing as a child, in regard to man's dictates, that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." Saying "Officer, I didn't see the speed limit sign" won't get you too far with most law enforcement officials. "Son, they were sitting right there. Not my job to read them to you," the highway patrol officer might say. The great majority of us would accept that as the way it is.

Most of us understand that we didn't create the laws of nature. It is pointless to fulminate at the natural order when we let go of a brick and it lands on our foot.

There are natural economic laws as real as the law of gravity. There are natural moral laws as immutable as the conservation of matter. And there is a spiritual realm more real than material universe that we can touch and feel. That's right, more real.

If there is all-powerful, all-knowing spiritual being who created the order which comprises the world we reside in, then it follows that the material realm was derived from the spiritual realm, that the spiritual realm, despite its obscurity to our physical faculties, is a higher realm than the material realm.

Here's the point. If there are spiritual laws, we would do well to find out what they are -- and we had better obey them. While defying the earthly law of gravity may be death defying, defying the even more fundamental spiritual laws may really matter.

So, what if there are laws more certain than gravity, more powerful than E = mc².  Got any idea what those laws might be?  [Here's a possibility for the first one: there is a God.]

Gary D. Gaddy always liked the bumper sticker that read "186,000 miles per second. It's not just a good idea: It's the law!"

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 2, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 10:47 PM EDT
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Friday, June 25, 2010
Living by John Wooden's five-and-a-half-point creed

WHEN A GREAT MAN DIES, great words get written about him. Earlier this month, at the age of 99, a truly great man, John Wooden, died. The legendary coach of University of California, Los Angeles, men's basketball team had many fine words written about him, including a wonderful elegy in the New York Times, that, sadly, also redacted his life.

Many people like to read the biographies of men and women so they can learn their creeds, so they can live like them. Wooden carried his creed in his pocket.

This is how the New York Times obituary put it: "Wooden was a dignified, scholarly man who spoke with the precise language of the English teacher he once was. He always carried a piece of paper with a message from his father that read: 'Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day.' Wooden said he lived by that creed. . . ."

That's a wonderful creed. There is only one problem: this is not what John Wooden lived by, it is an edited piece of its "precise language."

More than a week later, after lots of Internet grief, only then did the Times did correct their "five-and-a-half-point" creed to its original seven points. "All the news that fit to print"? How about "All the ideology that's edited to fit our worldview"?

Here is Coach Wooden's actual creed from his official website ( "Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day."

What the New York Times left out was not incidental; it was what was most important to John Wooden, that which was most central to his life: "especially the Bible" and "praying for guidance and giving thanks every day," that is, his Christian faith.

If we want to emulate John Wooden, we will start, like Wooden, by reading a little bit of the Bible every day.

Wooden noted once that some Christians criticized him for not being more vocal about his faith, according to Kelly Boggs. "I served as a basketball coach at a public institution; therefore I never felt it was appropriate. I always had a Bible on my desk and I intentionally led by example based on Christ's teaching," said Wooden.

"Some evangelical Christians thought of me as liberal,” Wooden continued, “because they disagree with my decision to let my life speak for my faith. At the same time, liberals consider me to be way too conservative." Wooden added, "I know you can't please everyone, so on this issue I haven't tried. I have only wanted to please God."

Here is one example of how Wooden lived his Christian principles. "In 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues, Wooden declined an invitation to the NAIA tournament – then the equivalent of today’s super-hyped NCAA Tournament – because tourney organizers told Wooden an African-American player had to stay [home]. Wooden refused," reported Peter Elliott.

David Burchett tells us that Coach Wooden said this about what really matters. "Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters," Wooden said.

Fascinating to learn is this clear fact: the man who was perhaps the winningest coach of any team sport ever, never talked about winning, ever -- and to top that off, downplayed the significance of the game he loved so much and taught so well.

"Basketball is not the ultimate," Terry Mattingly cites Wooden as saying. "It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere," said Wooden.

This is the legendary John Wooden, as he really was.

Gary D. Gaddy would like to emulate the unedited life of John Wooden. 

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 25, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:00 PM EST
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Friday, June 18, 2010
Exterminating the insidious evil of "We" and "They"

IN MAY OF 2000 my wife and I spent three weeks in Sarajevo, courtesy of the U.S. State Department. Four and a half years after the end of hostilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, reminders of the war were still very visible. One example: we played tennis on courts in the middle of the Zetra Ice Rink where the 1984 Olympic speed skating competitions were held. While playing we had to jump across the potholes left by mortar shells. And as we gazed across the hills surrounding the rink, we looked over hundreds, if not thousands, of bright white crosses and crescents adorning the graves of those killed in the war.

While in Sarajevo, we learned some valuable lessons, but most important was the insidious evil of "We" and "They." Something to which we here in America, all of us, would do well to pay close attention, because when you don't, the Bosnians could tell you, tens of thousands can end up dead. Some will be them; some will be us.

In July 1995, Serb troops occupied the United Nations "safe haven" of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, then massacred 8,000 Bosniak men in what has been ruled genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. That was only part of the war's death and destruction.

This conflict was not really about religion, although the Bosniaks are of Muslim heritage, as the Croats are Catholic and the Serbs, Orthodox. One pointed Bosnian joke highlights these supposed distinctions. How do you tell a Serb from a Croat from a Bosniak? Easy, a Serb is someone who doesn't go to an Orthodox church, a Croat is someone who doesn't go to a Catholic church and the Bosniak is someone who doesn't go to the mosque. The point is that the ethnic divisions in Bosnia (and all across the pieces of the former Yugoslavia) were built on ancient animosities, not current religiosity.

Actually telling a Serb from a Croat from a Bosniak can be tricky. They all look the same. (Here in the United States historically we had the decency to color-code people so you can easily tell them from us.) What you do in Bosnia is ask their name. (Jakov and Naida are Croatian; Jovan and Slobodan, Serbian; while Samir and Tarik are Bosniak.) Then you know whom to hate. You just need to know who is "we" and who is "they."

I was sent to Bosnia to help nurture a tiny piece of one of the social institutions that make for a civil society, in this case, a media organization that wasn't based on bias and bigotry. The media in Bosnia (and Serbia and Croatia), which should have been part of the solution, were a big part of the problem. Their distortions and hate mongering were part of what led to the genocide.

I am not predicting an imminent civil catastrophe in the United States, because we are not there -- yet. But neither was Germany in, say, 1928. We, like the Germans were, are, however, headed in that direction and the media are part of the problem here, too. Freedom of the press says media personalities (for example, Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann) can act like vicious idiots. But we have an equal freedom not to watch them. So don't. Then they’ll go away. (If you think only one of them is part of the problem, I'm afraid you are part of it too.)

We read the news reports from around the world and think: "It can't happen here. We're not Rwanda. We're not Uganda.” Sadly, history tells us that civilization is a thin veneer -- everywhere. Yugoslavia, like pre-Nazi Germany, was an educated and economically advanced nation, not a tribal society. If we keep up with this "Repugnican and Dimocrat" nonsense, we will find out how dim and repugnant we all can be, because when we dehumanize those who don't look, think or believe like we do, it has one primary effect: to dehumanize us all.

Here's a thought: How about we stop before we start on digging the mass graves?

Gary D. Gaddy has good friends with whom he agrees on just about nothing politically or religiously.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 18, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 10:18 PM EDT
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Friday, June 11, 2010
Mister Unmannerly's Guide to all Manner of Mannerlessness

I HATE TO ADMIT IT but sometimes I read Miss Manners. (Of course, sometimes I read just about everything, so don't be too shocked.) I will tell you this: Miss Manners does not work. Now I do not mean that the person who goes by the nom de plume of Miss Manners is not diligent in her daily activities. Carefully studying etiquette guides and such, if nothing else, is hard work. No, what I mean is that the newspaper column entitled "Miss Manners" is not effective in accomplishing its purpose of improving the manners of those in the American public who most need their manners improved.

In column after column Miss Manners gives advice for women to women by women, which is of absolutely no value to men. (What women can tell men that is useful is all contained in "Helpful Hints from Heloise," advice that can be succinctly summarized as "use vinegar.")

Here's the problem with Miss Manners: only women with manners actually heed Miss Manners. I don't think there is anything that Miss Manners can do about this. She is who she is. So, I thought, what can I, the Chapel Hill Herald's leading Friday columnist, do to close this gaping manly manners gap?

Thus, I present the first edition of my column manufactured mainly for manly men: Mister Unmannerly's Guide to all Manner of Mannerlessness (which follows the time-honored advice column Q&A format).

Dear Mr. Unmannerly: My wife saw a tee-shirt at MerleFest that read, "Mess with me, you mess with the whole trailer park." She wants one. Would this make a better birthday, anniversary or Christmas present? Where would be the best place to buy one? GG from Orange County

Dear GG. Whichever one comes soonest. The best place to buy one of these fabulous and telling garments would be the Walmart at Hampton Pointe in Hillsborough. If they are out of stock, you can always purchase one off the person in line in front of you at a reasonable price.

Dear Mr. Unmannerly: I pick my nose. My wife picks her banjo. Which is worse? GG from Orange County.

Dear GG. Nose-picking (termed rhinotillexomania when compulsive) is the act of extracting dried nasal mucus and/or foreign bodies from the nose with a finger. A very common habit, nose-picking can or may be used as a body-focused repetitive behavior and, as such, become a medical issue -- though most cases do not meet this pathological threshold.

Ordinary non-clinical, nose-picking, despite its common practice, is a mildly taboo activity in most cultures. Observation of the activity in another person often provokes mixed feelings of disgust and amusement. Banjo picking, on the other hand, is universally greeted with unalloyed expressions of disgust and very little amusement. So, I would say banjo pickin' is worse -- unless you are in a old garage, unused barn or abandoned country store, where such activity is highly valued.

Dear Mr. Unmannerly: My grandmother used to "dip a little snuff." She would spit in a can. My wife is about to become a grandmother, should I be concerned that she will start "dippin' a little snuff"? GG from Orange County

Dear GG. Snuff (ground or pulverized tobacco), as you know, is generally insufflated or "snuffed" through the nose, and has a long history in this hemisphere. (Snuff taking by the native peoples of modern-day Haiti was observed by a monk named Ramon Pane on Columbus' second journey to the Americas during 1493-1496.)

Although currently more common among the grandfatherly and grandmotherly, I would not be concerned as there is little likelihood that your spouse will initiate this habit at her advanced age, unless she also starts playing baseball, or hanging around places where bluegrass music is performed, such as old garages, unused barns or abandoned country stores.

Next week: Etiquette tips for the whole family at the all-you-can-eat buffet.


Gary D. Gaddy, aka Mr. Unmannerly, is not related by birth, marriage or demeanor to Judith Martin (née Perlman), better known as Miss Manners, although both are American journalists, authors, and etiquette authorities.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 11, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:03 PM EDT
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Friday, June 4, 2010
Some (relatively) good news on the Gulf oil spill

FIRST OFF, LET ME STATE that I am not a petro-geologist or a marine biologist or an expert of any kind on the effects of petroleum on the ocean's flora and fauna. For a while, based on my reading of newspaper reports, I was afraid no one else was either.

I don't want to understate the magnitude of the pollution of the Gulf of Mexico as this uncapped oil well will likely continue gushing for months. This is an unnatural disaster of substantial proportions (a government-estimated 20 million to 43 million gallons of crude, thus far). But I have reason to believe that most of the media, as they are wont to do, have exaggerated the disastrousness of this "unprecedented" spill..

Long story short: there is a precedent for this oil spill and the natural order is more robust than many seem to give credit. While the current undersea gusher is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, it is not yet the worst in the history of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report by the Miami Herald's Nirvi Shah.

"Everybody keeps saying the spill in the Gulf is unprecedented,'' said geologist John Amos, founder of SkyTruth (, a nonprofit that investigates environmental issues using satellite images. "That is such [B.S.]. We had perfect precedence.''

Amos is referring to the largest spill in Gulf history which occurred on June 3, 1979, when the Ixtoc 1 platform off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula exploded, releasing approximately 140 million gallons of oil.

Mexican marine scientists feared the worst when they examined sea life in the sound once oil workers finally capped the blowout in March 1980.

"To be honest, because of our ignorance, we thought everything was going to die," said Luis A. Soto, a Mexican deep-sea biologist who studied the spill's impact after the well was sealed.

First evaluations of the Mexican spill did find harsh effects on sea life. "I found shrimp with tumor formations in the tissue, and crabs without the pincers," Soto said. Wes Tunnell, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, said, "I measured 80 percent reduction in all combined species that were living in the intertidal zone."

But by the second year, scientists noticed how fast the marine environment was recovering, helped by naturally occurring microbes that ate the oil, degrading it.

"We were really surprised. . . . After two years, the conditions were really almost normal," said Mexican marine biologist Leonardo Lizarraga Partida.

Aquatic life along the Texas shoreline returned to normal within three years -- even as tar balls and tar mats remained along the beaches, sometimes covered by sand, according to Tunnell.

It is worth noting that that spill differed from the current one in that it was in relatively shallow (160 feet deep) waters and much of the oil stayed on the surface. Perhaps because of that, it broke down faster and became less toxic by the time it reached the Texas coast.

One reason that un-natural spills are not as catastrophic as we might think is that "natural spills" occur all the time. Natural oil that seeps from the seabed releases the equivalent of one to two supertankers (about 84 to 168 million gallons) of crude in the Gulf of Mexico each year, according to Tunnell.

"The good side of having all that seepage out there is that we've got a huge population of microbes, bacteria that feed on petroleum products in the water and on shore. So that helps the recovery time," said Tunnell.

Not to minimize the significance of the damage to Gulf fish, mammals and birds, to tourism or to the seafood industry, there is real hope that the Gulf will, once it is over, recover from this precedented oil spill.

Worldwide, we live in an oleic society, that is, one derived from oil. We cannot escape that fact. If all the petroleum in the world were to disappear overnight, the financial impact would make the current global recession look like a tea party (and I use that term in its genteel, lace doilies and crumpets sense).

Not to repeat myself, any who want to blame "Big Oil" for drilling for undersea oil need to remember the great philosopher Pogo’s admonition: "We have met the enemy and he is us."


Gary D. Gaddy was the co-owner of a short-lived solar energy and energy conservation company in 1977.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 4, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 6:16 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, June 5, 2010 6:30 PM EDT
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Friday, May 28, 2010
The freedom to "Choose Life" -- or perhaps not

I RECENTLY GOT a specialized license plate for my car. The special plate I chose has an interlocking "N" and "C" on it, but there are also plates honoring, and funding, Clemson, NC State and Duke (not to mention the mystifying one for Purdue University which is located in West Lafayette, Indiana).

The state of North Carolina currently offers over 130 different such special license plates. Surely you have seen some of them, each of which allow the driver to promote a personal cause, while supporting it financially and at the same time giving a few extra dollars to the state.

With a special license plate, you can support, uncontroversially, Litter Prevention and, bizarrely, Watermelon. You can support stock car racing 26 different ways, including displaying a lovely Jimmy Johnson plate, an ugly Tony Stewart one, or, for the noncommittal, a NASCAR® Generic Design edition.

While there is a "Kids First" plate (which provides funds to the North Carolina Children's Trust Fund), so you can support children after they are born, there is one plate you can't get: one that says "Choose Life," which would support children being born. Funds from the sale of the proposed, but not voted on, "Choose Life" plate would be used to help women who elect to give birth by offering them pregnancy support services, placement in a maternity homes, or adoption placement of the baby, which ever the women choose.

In 2009 alone, 50 specialty plate bills passed out of the North Carolina legislative committee which first hears them. But for the past eight years, the Democratic leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly has chosen not to allow the full legislature to vote on this one particular specialty plate.

According to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, the umbrella organization that would distribute the funds raised by the "Choose Life" plate, it is the only proposed license the committee refused to let out for a vote. Other states do not consider this plate controversial. The "Choose Life" license plate currently is available in 24 states, including all the other southeastern states.

NC drivers can get an "Animal Lovers" plate (which says "I Care"), and a "Save The Sea Turtle" plate (which supports sea turtle rescue), but they can't get one if they care to support the rescue of baby humans.

The proposed new plate has been held up, it is said, by a general rule prohibiting political viewpoints on specialty plates. But while "Choose Life" is said to be too political, one currently offered plate supports the National Rifle Association. The NRA is not political? News to me. What is political is suppressing a vote on a bill, for whatever reason.

Some argue that the "Choose Life" plate should not be allowed because it is religious (a very tenuous argument), but one plate which is currently available says, "In God We Trust" (which supports the NC National Guard Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund) -- which I would say is a religious statement by pretty much any definition.

Planned Parenthood opposes the "Choose Life" plate because it would distribute proceeds to groups do not give women information about abortion as an option. Of course, Planned Parenthood could have their own plate, if they followed the same procedure that Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship has followed -- and they got the votes to allow it.

These special license plates are not, in my view, a state-government endorsement of anything -- unless we are in a very confused state -- which we may be. These plates simply allow NC drivers to visibly support causes they individually endorse. It's called freedom of choice.

The real question is, from my perspective, is this how a democratic legislature should operate? (Which should be contrasted with how a Democrat-controlled legislature actually does.) I say let the legislators vote, then let the people choose. I guess the fear is they might "Choose Life."


Gary D. Gaddy mostly displays his support of various causes via this column. 

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 28, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 6:20 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, June 5, 2010 6:25 PM EDT
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Friday, May 21, 2010
The Gulf oil spill disaster: Who is to blame?

FOLLOWING THE RECENT EXPLOSION and oil-pipe rupture at the British Petroleum drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama, in an unusual display of emotion, said, "I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings . . . (oil executives) falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn't." Obama then added there was "enough responsibility to go around."

I too want to stop the blame game, so I will -- by telling who is actually to blame: You. Yes, you.

If you ever bought gas from BP (or one of their competitors), or if you ever rode in a car, bus, train or plane, you are to blame.

If you got up this morning from your polyurethane foam bed, put on your polycarbonate eyeglasses or polymethyl methacrylate contact lenses, brushed your teeth with your nylon toothbrush with some water from your PVC plumbing pipes before you drove off to work, after strapping on a polyester seat belt, while sitting on your vinyl car seat, drinking juice from a styrofoam cup, using a polypropylene drinking straw, guess what?  Petroleum products all. You are to blame.

And even if you rode to work on a bicycle with "rubber" tires, since most "rubber" tires are synthetic, made predominately of petrochemicals, and the roads you rode are paved with asphalt made from petroleum, you are still to blame.

If you are reading this newspaper, you may think that since its ink was made from soybean oil, you are excused.  Sorry.  Just as with corn-based ethanol fuel, soy-based inks are produced from plants grown using, primarily, you guessed it, petrochemical fertilizers and fuel -- you're still to blame.

If you are an environmentalist who opposed drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- a much, much, much less risky place, environmentally, to drill for oil and gas -- then you are to blame.

If you think it was the owners of BP (and other oil and gas companies) who are at fault, well, if you participate in a retirement account, pension plan or investment fund that holds pretty much any index, large-cap or energy-based mutual fund -- which is a whole lot of you (whether or not you know it), you are one of the owners of BP -- and so you are to blame.

If pressure on BP employees and contractors to cut costs and speed up production was a factor in the disaster, then you are to blame -- if you ever bought an energy product where the price was lower or complained about high gasoline, natural gas and heating oil prices.

And you are definitely to blame if you are a Prius-driving, "Local Voices" columnist who before the disaster suggested that off-shore drilling was a good idea. (That, for the record, would be me -- and President Obama, as well, except for the columnist and Prius-driving parts.)

Off-shore drilling is not a good idea; it is just a necessary one -- and will be done now or later -- if we wish to continue living the life to which we have grown accustomed. We live in a petrochemical-based world, where our wealth may as well be measured in joules, ergs, BTUs or kilocalories as in dollars and cents.

Our only significant readily available non-petroleum energy substitute is coal. (Alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind and biofuels, produce, worldwide, only about 1.25% of our energy, and have little prospect for generating, anytime soon, anything close to what either oil, gas or coal now produce.)  And if coal were to become our primary energy source, it would make for worsened carbon dioxide emissions, more mountaintop removal and more future West Virginia mining disasters.

And, finally, if you are a federal government regulator, a congressman or senator or an oil company executive, you are to blame as well – for giving us what we asked for.

Gary D. Gaddy is not actually a pessimist, despite the tenor of this column.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 21, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 9:03 PM EDT
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Friday, May 14, 2010
College basketball, the season now under review

JUST AS THIS WAS THE SEASON where college basketballdom discovered the wonderful innovation of stopping every game with 14 minutes left to go in the first half to spend several interminable minutes determining whether a toe was on the three-point line or not (which is, I am sure, what all of us fans watch basketball for), now is the time for me to put this season under review.

I hate to be the one to say it -- but if I don't who will? Roy Williams is a bad loser. Now, don't get me wrong, he is not a sore loser. Williams is as gracious in defeat as any coach -- and far better than many. No, he is not a sore loser; he is a bad loser. He doesn't know how to do it -- which could be construed, generally, as a good thing. Seriously, until this season, he hadn't had much experience at it. This did mean, however, that he did not know how to rescue a sinking ship -- all his previous ships just went plowing through the water like destroyers at battle speed.

Williams has always had, he says -- and I believe him -- to deal with teams with inflated egos. He never had to massage wounded ones. He has always had to push team egos down, never boost them up. (Based on what I have seen and heard of the incoming freshmen, he won’t have self-confidence problems with them.)

In more than one basketball conversation in this post-season, I have heard local fans of both blue persuasions say that Coach K would have done better in the same sinking situation. Au contraire! They seem to have forgotten, or, more likely, if Duke fans, repressed their memories of 1994-1995. I haven't -- of course. I was there for "the season Krzyzewski's back went out."

For those of you who need your memories refreshed that was the year of two coaches – absentee Krzyzewski who went nine and three and conscript Pete Gaudet (who earned about $300 a week as a "restricted earnings coach") who went four and 15. My lovely, talented and Duke-degreed wife thinks it was the Clemson loss that put his back over the limit.

[My wife and I well remember the season if for no other reason than we attended the February 2, 1995 game between Duke and UNC at Cameroon Indoor Stadium, standing in the student section, rooting for our beloved Tar Heels. (This made possible because she was a ticket-holding Duke law student and one of her classmates was money-grubbing enough – imagine that! -- to sell his ticket to me, Tar Heel fan.) This game was projected to be no contest, by the records and the rankings, as it was between one of the best teams in major college basketball (that would be UNC) and one of the worst (that would be Duke). Instead, it ended up being a game for the ages, one that when ESPN made a reel of a dozen or so college basketball highlights included three plays from this glorious game (which, incidentally, UNC won 102 to 100 in double overtime).]

Roy Williams’ back didn't go out this season but you may remember him wearing his Alexander-Julian-designed arm sling for his painfully torn labrum -- whatever that is. When Roy Williams had surgery on his left shoulder, the Tar Heels were ranked No. 11 in the AP poll. The Tar Heels finished the season as runners up in the also-ran NIT. (And, you know, when you think about it, "barely better than Butler," really doesn't sound all that different from "not quite as good as Dayton," does it?)

Which leads me to the following anecdote I heard recently after a tennis match at Hollow Rock. Note that this is hearsay, not admissible in a court of law. During a concert in Chapel Hill a few days before, one of the band members, in a lull between songs, asked from the stage, "Say, what's up with the Tar Heel basketball team?" Got only a general moan. When he brought it up again, someone from the audience yelled out: "We'll be alright. . . . Just wait 'til last year."


Gary D. Gaddy is proud to say that he and his basketball-loving wife attended every home game of Matt Doherty's 8-22 season.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 14, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:40 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 9:07 PM EDT
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