View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, July 11, 2003

A finance project that's starting to look like the tail-end of a James Cameron Production. Homework that hasn't been done in days. An office slowly succumbing to the demands of entropy. Ah, leave it to the New York Times Corrections page to get the day started right. Almost always, tucked in among the misspelled, mis-stated, or just plan forgetten names, there's something sure to cheer up the faint of heart. This morning, there are two, one fun, one pretty damn serious.

First, the ridiculous. Some reporter and his editor actually thought that there had been 3 billion heart-burn prescriptions written last year. This is actually the number of pills taken. I eat a lot of spicy food, but that's enough prescriptions for every man, woman, and child in the country to have 10 of them. I don't know what passes for the FDA over in India, and I'm sure there's a thriving export market for these kinds of pills, but even then.

Before we get serious, visit the Corrections page yourself, and just imagine a world where life imitated the Times. Record books would show mysterious gaps. What? No-one won the Tour de France in 1990? Or else bets settled by Guiness one night would have the opposite result the next. People usually look in the new phone book for their own names, expecting all the basic info to be there and be right. Now, who knows? I can't get people to spell "Sharf" right when I'm standing in front of them spelling it for them. How would things be when the spelling actually does change day to day? Half the world - literally - can't keep their food from burning a hole in their throats. Perfectly good marketing dollars go to waste on sports teams that don't exist. Science fiction from the 1950s that regularly featured parallel universes, only slightly different from our own, wouldn't even qualify as fiction.

Now, for the malign. The Catholic Church has gotten good and beat up, and rightly so, for priests that can't keep their hands off their young charges, and for moving these guys around from parish to parish, hoping for rehabilitation. So when someone makes a charge, a specific charge, about this happening to a particular priest in a known parish, you'd think the paper would call up the local clerical authorities for a response. Not only didn't they do so, but the guy who made the charge has now retracted it. I don't know if they could have cleared up the mess before it made it into print, but surely the Camden Diocese deserved the chance to go on the record about it.

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