Because I Said So

Someone I follow1 on Twitter posted something a couple of weeks ago along the lines of “The retail industry loses $16B a year to people wearing and then returning clothes.” I replied with something along the lines of “That’s a great Internet number, made up and completely unverifiable.”

This led to a couple of exchanges, ending with the other person saying, “there’s a lot of dumb stuff online, but a Duke & MIT study is research driven.”

I’m going to cover the specific issues first, but then we’ll get to the bigger issue, because it speaks to how we make our way through the land mine field that is the world of information today.


Radio listeners in early 1971 were treated to something rare for that time — a song that dealt with adult relationships like an adult. The song began with just a piano and a woman’s almost wispy voice singing of her parent’s in-home estrangement and how it had impacted her. It was remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because the woman singing was only twenty-six.

My father sits at night with no lights on, his cigarette glows in the dark
The living room is still, I walk by, no remark
I tiptoe past the master bedroom where my mother reads her magazines
I hear her call sweet dreams, but I forgot how to dream

After a chorus of sounding less than thrilled at her boyfriend’s proposal, she goes on to sing of all her friends from college and their equally dismal married lives.

Lack of Assurance

In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard followed in the footsteps of W.S. Gilbert1 before him and wrote a play in which two minor characters from Hamlet are the lead actors. Like much of Stoppard’s work, it is absurdist in nature, but is still pretty funny if one is familiar with the source play.

Today we’re taking a page from Mr. Stoppard and looking a little closer at one our minor characters from last time. This disciple uttered the line we examined in the second half of that post, but we know him for something quite different.