Monty Hall, host and co-creator of “Let’s Make a Deal,” died recently and this has led again to discussion of the “Monty Hall Problem.” At the end of his show, a contestant was offered a wonderful prize and two clinkers. They were hidden behind three doors. The contestant would pick a door. Hall, who knew what was behind each door, did not immediately open the selected door but would instead first open one of the two remaining doors to expose a booby prize. The contestant would then be allowed to keep his or her selected door or switch to the remaining door. Should the contestant switch? I remember reading Marilyn vos Savant’s column in Parade magazine where she demonstrated that the contestant’s odds of winning the big prize were two-thirds if the contestant changed the pick to the unselected door. The column caused a storm with many people, some highly educated, saying the odds were 50-50 no matter what the contestant did. But, of course, vos Savant was right.
The newspaper article indicated that the owner of the Dallas Cowboys professional football team had proclaimed that no Cowboy would play if he showed disrespect for the flag. Accompanying the article was a picture of the Cowboys lined up standing, many with hands over hearts, during the national anthem. In the foreground of the picture were several Cowboy cheerleaders in their famous outfits of short shorts and a skimpy top with a bare midriff. Question: Do those barely covered asses, as cute and delectable as they may be, show respect for the flag?
The client with the Italian surname, hardly more than a child but charged with serious robberies, asked me if I were Jewish. I asked why he wanted to know. He replied, “Because Jews make the best lawyers.” I replied, “No, I am not Jewish; I already have enough problems.” But I remained his lawyer.
“In nineteenth century-politics, as much as now, the side with the best metaphors often wins.” Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals, and the Making of Modern America.
I have a book in my hand. It seems permanent, not so much the physical object, but the content. And, of course, to some extent that is true. I have read books that were published a century, two centuries ago, but most books, even well-received ones, are quickly forgotten. Whenever I get a book out of the library, I look at the return dates stamped in the book. Most of the older ones have not been checked out in years. A physical book may still be on somebody’s shelves, but does it really exist if it is not read?
As I was waiting for a prescription to be filled, a twenty-something woman made some purchases and asked Rose behind the counter, “Do you sell toilet brushes?” Rose said that the store did not. The young woman continued, “Do you know where I might buy one around here?” Rose shook her head. I then suggested a hardware store a few blocks away. The woman thanked me and said, “My parents are coming tomorrow. . . . They have high standards.”
The author’s autograph is inscribed right below his name on the title page. That struck me as a little sad because I had bought the novel at a used book store.