To see some of the stuff I have written before my online column was created, click the links to the left.


05.07.03 New Car Hell This article has an Audio Column!

02.28.07 A Major Beef With "Minor Surgery"

08.24.05 Worrying About Not Worrying
04.30.03 Bed And Breakfast Bewilderment This article has an Audio Column!

03.07.02 Let Sleeping Lawyers Plea
10.03.03 Are We Raising A Nation Of Wimps? This article has an Audio Column!

07.03.02 The Shortest Presidency

10.25.02 Slobs Make Better Lovers

08.16.02 The Fighting Pacifists

01.08.02 Paris On Two Prozacs A Day
06.16.04 Guess Who's Coming To DinnerThis article has an Audio Column!

08.06.04 Parents, Iraq And Worry
02.12.03 The Swimsuit Issue This article has an Audio Column!
05.14.03 This Water's All Wet This article has an Audio Column!


New Car Hell
May 7, 2003

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

(CBS) My car is 12 years old. That's not that old. Okay, in dog years, it's 84, but my dog doesn't drive the car. I've been getting a lot of pressure from family and friends to get a new one.

They're probably right. More and more expensive things are starting to go wrong with it. So, every once in a while, I test drive a few cars and seriously think about buying one. But whenever I feel myself getting really tempted to get a new car, I get my old one washed instead. It looks shiny, and I forget about a new car for a while.

I hate the process of buying a car. They let you drive around the block while the salesperson is jabbering away about emissions and service packages, and then you're supposed to decide if you want to buy something that costs twice as much as the house you grew up in. I don't want to hear about the alleged gas mileage, which parts of the engine are made of aluminum, or that the interior colors are called, "shale, taupe, and biscuit." And I certainly don't want to hear, "I'll have to talk to my manager about this."

Deep down, I must know that it's time for me to get a new car. I've noticed lately that sometimes I'll leave it unlocked. I've also taken to parking it in that dangerous foul ball territory during my daughter's softball games. And I no longer think it's cute that I can't always open the rear driver's side door.

So, what's really stopping me from buying a new one? I hate to bargain. I really hate to bargain. Why can't buying a car be like buying a shirt? An expensive shirt with cup holders. Why can't they treat it like every other product -- just put a price tag on new cars, and let that be what it really costs? All I can think of while the salesperson is going through the motions of writing all those figures on that white pad is, "Just tell me the price. I know you already know!" I'm not good at pretending that I'm going to leave and never come back unless they give me the car for a dollar less. And I can't stand them asking me, "Are you prepared to buy it today at this price?" They don't ask me that in the shoe store.

I know some people love to negotiate and are thrilled when they think they've gotten a bargain. They view the deal as a battle with a winner and a loser. For them, it's fun. Not for me. I assume the salesperson is better at selling than I am at buying. I also assume that I'm probably better than he or she is at some other things. So, it's not about my ego. I don't feel I have to vanquish the car dealer. I don't feel any more manly if I get them to throw in free floor mats. In fact – don't tell the car dealers in my area – but if it would get me out of the showroom a couple of minutes faster, I'd probably be willing to pay a few extra bucks. I know that's not how you're supposed to play the game, so I keep postponing the game.

But that's silly. I'll bet I can be just as good a bargainer as anybody else. I can pretend I'm interested when they talk about overhead cams and torque. I could tell them with a straight face that I've gotten prices from five different dealers. It will be worth it, because, let's face it, there's nothing like a new car. It smells fantastic, everything works, and it's fun to drive. You feel good just looking at it. The more I think about it, there's absolutely no reason for me to put it off anymore. Tomorrow I'm definitely going to go shopping for a new car. I'll go first thing in the morning. Well, either that, or I'll go get my old one washed.

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A Major Beef With "Minor Surgery"
Feb. 28, 2007

(CBS) I had some "minor surgery" recently, and I have to say I was deceived beforehand. No, I wasn't tricked by my doctor. He was great and told me exactly what it would be like. But I guess I didn't believe it would be that bad because it was just "minor surgery."

Years ago, when my wife was pregnant, none of the medical people ever used the word "pain." They would always say, "discomfort." I learned that in medical terminology, discomfort is somebody else's pain. Similarly, "minor surgery" is surgery on somebody other than the doctor talking about it.

I know that the operations erroneously dubbed "minor surgery" should not be put in the same category as brain or heart surgery or anything that's life-threatening. On the other hand, they shouldn't be lumped in with skinned knees.

In our culture, we tend to laugh or make light of certain ailments, body parts, and medical procedures. We're taught at a very young age by the movies that any kind of pain involving the rear end, the nose, or the genitals is supposed to be funny. And audiences laugh hysterically when a guy on screen throws out his back or drops a brick on his toe.

Of course, this doesn't make sense. These body parts hurt just as much as any other parts. Maybe in other cultures, people laugh when people hurt their jaws, knees, or ribs.

Here's my point: this stuff hurts. For the person having it done, there's no such thing as "minor surgery." So, be nice when your employee wants an extra day off after having his wisdom teeth removed. Have a little compassion for the woman with the broken toe. Don't laugh at the guy wearing the neck collar even if he looks like he's going to be represented in court by Whiplash Willie.
I'm urging everyone to stop using the term "minor surgery." I want it removed from all dictionaries and medical texts. Let's just call it "surgery" from now on.

You think I'm wrong about this change of wording?

If it's so minor, why did I have to pay for the "facilities" in advance?

If it's so minor, why do they knock you unconscious? (My anesthesiologist felt compelled to tell me a joke before the surgery. Believe me, I laughed. I didn't want him getting mad and giving me too much or too little of something.)

If it's so minor, why did I have to fill out more forms than when we bought our house?

If it's so minor, why were there more nurses involved than in a sweeps episode of "ER? "

If it's so minor, why did I have to sign something saying that I wouldn't sue anybody in case they accidentally killed me? (Note to lawyer: I had my fingers crossed.)

If it's so minor, why did they make me wear one of those gowns that you have to be a contortionist to close, and then you've still got stuff hanging out the back?

If it's so minor, why is a sneeze a major event for me?

If it's so minor, why did I watch so much TV while recuperating that I learned far too much about Anna Nicole Smith, professional bull riding, and this device that costs only $14.95 that can enable you to hear what your neighbors are talking about hundreds of feet away? (Not available in stores.)

So, I hope you'll join me in getting rid of the word "minor" from the medical vocabulary. If you're not convinced by all of the above reasons, I think you'll come aboard when you think about that thing that comes in the mail from the doctor. After all, there's nothing "minor" about the bill.

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Worrying About Not Worrying
Aug. 24, 2005

(CBS) President Bush passed his recent physical with flying colors — and I mean "flying." He's 59 years old, but does not need cholesterol-lowering or blood pressure drugs. He eats healthy foods, and has lost 8 pounds since December. And the most amazing revelation is that his resting pulse is 47 beats per minute. That's not the kind of pulse rate usually associated with people in high-stress jobs or situations. It's the kind of pulse that well-trained athletes have.

To put it in perspective, the average pulse rate for a healthy male is about 72 beats per minute. (Unofficially, the average pulse rate for a writer on a deadline is 102). President Bush's remarkable 47 is down from an also exceptional 52 beats per minute in December. Obviously, I'm thrilled that he's in such good health. But I have to admit that part of me would feel more comfortable if his pulse were just a little bit higher.

I wouldn't want a president whose heart rate went off the charts every time there was a crisis in the world. But it would be nice if there were some indication that President Bush, like the rest of us, had some physical reactions to world events. History is filled with world leaders who grew old before their time, especially when their countries waged war. We can read about leaders who were unable to sleep, incapable of eating properly, and could never take their minds off the killing that was going on. I don't wish that on President Bush, but he seems to be on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.

People have continued to die every day in Iraq, and his pulse hasn't gone up a beat. In fact, it's dropped five points since December.

Terrorists strike London, but his pulse is still a 47.

Opposition to the war, even from members of his own party, is at an all-time high this summer. He's still at 47.

Gas prices soar, and his pulse is still a 47.

The grieving mother of a young man killed in battle, Cindy Sheehan, wants to meet with the president a second time. He's still at 47.

She camps out near his ranch. 47.

People point out that to diffuse the situation, all he'd have to do is cut one of his bike rides short by twenty minutes and meet with her. He refuses. 47.
I'm not suggesting that he doesn't care. Everybody reacts to tragic events differently. It's just surprising that he doesn't seem to have the kind of physical reactions that most people have to these events. My pulse goes up when I watch the news on TV. He actually is the news, but his pulse stays low.

So, the question is whether being in such good shape and having a low pulse is an advantage for a world leader. In ancient times, when the heads of countries would actually fight each other, being in great physical shape was an obvious advantage. Today, we could still probably shout to various foreigners, "My president can beat up your president," but it wouldn't mean very much. These days, world leaders don't put on armor and fight. They send others to do the fighting. So, while they're home and others are fighting, how important is it for them to ride mountain bikes and remain so calm?

Some might say that calmness should lead to rational behavior and decisions. I can see that point. Others might say that it's only when you get upset and are affected in your heart and gut by world events that you'll be motivated to take some action. I can see that point, too.

So, let me just reiterate that I'm very happy that President Bush is in such great health. But ironically, ever since I've learned that his pulse has gone down over the past few months, mine's gone up.

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Bed And Breakfast Bewilderment
Apr. 30, 2003

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

(CBS) When we went on a trip last week, my wife surprised me by booking us into a Bed and Breakfast, rather than an ordinary hotel. The owners were a friendly family, the room was tastefully decorated, and the grounds were picturesque. We had real maple syrup with our French toast at breakfast. In other words, I hated the place and couldn't wait to leave.

I know it's not hip or "in" to say this — and you can call me an uncultured boor with no taste or class — but I would rather stay in a cookie-cutter, charmless chain hotel than in an "adorable" B&B.

I've never understood their appeal. Why would I want to stay at some stranger's house so I could have the privilege of eating breakfast with other strangers? I like to meet people, but I like to meet them when I'm standing up, not at the breakfast table. And at that breakfast table, you don't get a menu or a choice of items. They place food in front of you, and they expect you to eat it. Of course, nobody forces you to eat whatever they give you, but if you don't like it, you feel just as uncomfortable as you would at your Aunt Shirley's house. So, you're given food that you may or may not want to eat with people you may or may not like. Does that sound like a vacation to you?

At a B&B, if the dresser drawer happens to be broken — as it was in our room — they just stick it back in the dresser, and you're supposed to consider it "charming." You'd think a creaky Bed and Breakfast would at least be a bargain. Think again. It was more than twice as much as the uninteresting, but comfortable, hotel we stayed in the night before.

At a hotel, you don't have to choose between hot or cold water. You can actually get a combination, something called "warm." I also like having that store in the hotel lobby, even though it outrageously sells two aspirins for 75 cents and a mug with a monkey's face for 19 bucks. It's nice having an ice machine down the hall. I like those incredibly crisp hotel sheets and the little light on the phone that tells me if I have any messages. I even like the little bar of soap that only takes me five or 10 minutes to unwrap.

Am I such a bad person because I enjoy having a newspaper waiting outside my door in the morning instead of the owner's cat? I like a place with room service, even if I don't end up using it. And of course, there's the Biggest Perk of All — you can have as many fluffy, white towels as you want. You'd never think of disturbing the owners of a Bed and Breakfast to ask for more towels. They might be sleeping or trying to calm that cute, screaming baby.

I don't care about being in a room where George Washington or Jackie Onassis slept. I just want to sleep in one that's clean and gets HBO.

So, what is it about Bed and Breakfasts that some people like so much? They must enjoy them because they're homey. The thing is, if I want homey, I can stay at home. When I go on a trip, I want hotel-y. I want something different from my home when I'm away from home. So, there's only one logical conclusion I can draw about those who consider it a special treat to stay in an old house when they travel: When they're not traveling, they must live in hotels.

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Let Sleeping Lawyers Plea
Mar. 7, 2002

(CBS) CBSNews.com Special Contributor Lloyd Garver finds something that we've always suspected is legally true: having a lawyer who is awake does not necessarily help your case.

I should've been a lawyer. Do you know what stopped me from becoming one? Lies. I didn't do particularly well on the Law Boards when I was in college, so my adviser told me I shouldn't go to law school. Over and over again, I heard about how difficult it was to be an attorney. All lies. I learned recently that a three-judge panel in Texas ruled that it was OK for a lawyer to represent a murder defendant even if the lawyer slept through a great deal of the trial. I can sleep. I would've been a great lawyer.

In an appeal, these wise judges ruled that a defendant in a murder trial does not have an absolute right to an attorney who must stay awake during the trial. The panel -- which issued a 2-1 ruling -- said that they were not "condoning sleeping by defense counsel during a capital murder trial." However, they added that it was "impossible to determine -- instead only to speculate -- that counsel's sleeping" actually hurt the defendant's case. So, something that we've always suspected is legally true: having a lawyer who is awake does not necessarily help your case.

The accused is named Calvin J. Burdine. No one disputes the fact that Mr. Burdine's lawyer kept falling asleep during the trial. I don't fault this attorney. I get sleepy at work sometimes, too. And who among us has never fallen asleep at a meeting where the stakes were the life or death of a fellow human being? However, Mr. Burdine appealed again.

All 14 Fifth Circuit judges heard the appeal. They ruled in Mr. Burdine's favor, opening up the way for a new trial. However, this was decided by a 9 to 5 vote. So, five of these judges also felt that he got a fair trial even though his lawyer slept through it! If they believe it's okay for a criminal lawyer to fall asleep during a murder trial, they obviously wouldn't find fault with lawyers falling asleep while performing less serious duties like writing contracts or wills. So, we shouldn't be surprised if attorneys start billing us not just for the hours they work, but for the time they put in on that office couch as well.

One of the three judges who originally ruled that a capital criminal defendant does not necessarily have a right to an awake attorney is Edith H. Jones. The really good news is that Judge Jones, a Reagan appointee, has been mentioned as a possible nominee for the United States Supreme Court if President Bush gets to name a new Justice. One would assume that Judge Jones would be able to convince the other eight Supreme Court Justices of the wisdom of her decision. After all, none of them is all that young, and I'm sure they all appreciate the importance of napping. So, it's bound to become the Law of the Land. That's great news for lawyers. Just as some of them have been doing for years, they will all be able to do their work in their sleep.

Mr. Burdine hired a new attorney for the appeal. His original lawyer -- the sleepy one -- died. According to the legal thinking in Texas, I assume that Mr. Burdine could still have his first lawyer if he wanted him despite his being deceased. After all, if it's OK for him to have a lawyer who sleeps through the trial, why couldn't he have one who just happens to be dead? In fact, perhaps it would be to Mr. Burdine's advantage to choose a dead lawyer. He could choose any lawyer in the history of jurisprudence. I know if I ever get a speeding ticket in Texas, I'm hiring Clarence Darrow.

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Are We Raising A Nation Of Wimps?
Oct. 3, 2002

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

(CBS) I'm not for going back to the bad old days of bullies running the playground, corporal punishment, or throwing a kid into a pool to see if he can swim. I don't think we need teachers and coaches who spend their days embarrassing and yelling at kids. But in our desire to be more humane towards children, I wonder if our politically correct urge to be sensitive has gone too far.

An elementary school in Santa Monica, California recently expressed a negative opinion of a game that it not only considered physically dangerous, but potentially harmful to a child's self-esteem. The name of the dangerous game is "tag."

The school newsletter contained the admonition that "The running part of this activity is healthy and encouraged; however, in this game, there is a 'victim' or 'it,' which creates a self-esteem issue."

When I was a kid, back before self-esteem issues were invented, I thought tag was fun whether I was "it" or being chased by "it." Obviously, just like any children's game, injuries can happen while playing tag. However, it seems more logical to make sure there is enough adult supervision so kids can play tag, rather than getting rid of it. Nobody wants kids to get hurt, but that doesn't mean they have to start playing things like "Velcro The Tail On The Donkey."

But the anti-tag faction seems more concerned about possible psychological damage than the physical risks. Among others, Dodge Ball and Red Rover have also come under fire in school districts across the country. These games supposedly "encourage aggression," and reward the strong, the swift, or the clever kid. These games have winners and losers, and sometimes a child is eliminated and has to sit out while those remaining play. Guess what? That's not the end of the world. So far, I've seen no statistics that prove conclusively that the major cause of depression is Duck, Duck, Goose.

Is it really a bad thing for kids to learn that sometimes they win and sometimes they lose? Isn't learning how to be a good winner and a good loser just as important as learning how to diagram a sentence or reduce a fraction?

Kids are tougher and more resilient than many adults think. Often, while the Little League mom or dad is still fretting about how upset little Johnny must be for striking out, Johnny has already moved on and is now roller-blading happily down the street.

How well are we preparing our kids for the future with this over-protective "everybody wins all the time" approach? If they don't learn to deal with disappointment, how will they handle it when things don't go exactly as they want them to? They're going to be thrown when they get a little older and realize there's no such game as, "Everybody Gets Into A Great College Without Even Trying." And later, they'll probably search in vain for the game "Everybody Automatically Gets A High Paying Job And A Life They Love."

Do we really want children to only play politically correct games? Will "You Don't Have To Find Me If You Don't Want To" be as much fun as "Hide and Seek?" Must our kids play "Visually Challenged Man's Bluff?" After kids get tired from playing "Cowboys and Native Americans" or "Capture the International Banner," will they come indoors and play card games like "Peace" and "Go Fish But Make Sure To Catch and Release?" Will "Simon Says" become "Simon Requests?" Does "Freeze Tag" really make the kid who's giggling too much to freeze feel bad? If you drop a "Hot Potato," are you going to spend decades on the couch lamenting how that event spoiled your life?

Here's my suggestion. The next time you're home with your little kid, touch him or her gently on the shoulder and say, "You're it!" Smile, and start to run away. Your kid will smile back and start chasing you. And don't worry about them enjoying themselves too much. Their fun will stop soon enough. They have to go back to that school playground tomorrow.

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The Shortest Presidency
Jul. 3, 2002

(CBS) Last Saturday, Dick Cheney was President of the United States for two hours and fifteen minutes. He got this position without controversy, without spending a dime campaigning, and without the Supreme Court making a dubious ruling.

President Bush invoked the 25th Amendment making Cheney the temporary President while Mr. Bush underwent a routine colonoscopy. The only other time the 25th Amendment had been used was when Ronald Reagan had colon surgery and transferred his powers to the first President Bush. Historians will note that, so far, this amendment is only used when it involves both a George Bush and a colon.

The official version of what happened during Cheney's two hours and fifteen minutes as the most powerful man in the world includes an intelligence briefing and staff meetings.

Yeah, right. Isn't it a lot more likely that what happened during those 135 minutes was Dick Cheney getting a kick out of being President?

He probably sat in the big chair, put his feet up on the desk in the oval office, and phoned all his old friends, saying, "Guess where I'm calling from?" I wouldn't be surprised if he put in a special call to that high school teacher in Wyoming who said he'd never amount to anything. If you peeked in the White House during those hours, you might have seen Cheney joyously dancing to "Hail to the Chief." And would he really be able to resist calling to make dinner reservations for "President and Mrs. Cheney?"

If he's the prankster that many think he is, maybe he toyed with his aides by saying things like, "What happens if I press this red button? Oops!"

At 9:24 AM, Mr. Bush sent a fax to the White House, telling Mr. Cheney that he was no longer the temporary President. How tempted do you think he was to pretend that he never received that transmission?
AIDE: "Now that you have the fax, it's time to surrender the Presidency back to President Bush, sir."

CHENEY: "Fax? What fax? I never got a fax. I'm going to take Air Force One for a little spin now. See you later."
I find it interesting that the Amendment was invoked because President Bush was going to be unconscious for about twenty minutes. Certainly this was not the first time, nor the longest time, that a sitting President had been unconscious while in office.

And why invoke the amendment while the President was asleep because of the anesthetic, but not every night when the President is just asleep? That way, we could have a daytime President and a nighttime President. While Congress will probably spend years and millions debating my proposal of a Night and Day Presidency, I have a suggestion that requires more immediate attention:

The most significant thing about those two hours and fifteen minutes while Cheney was president is that nothing bad happened. No new wars were declared, the stock market didn't plunge, and not one politician was arrested for a felony. Was there ever a more successful Presidency in the history of the United States?

Does this mean that Dick Cheney has the stuff to be the greatest President ever? Not necessarily. What it means is that two hours and fifteen minutes is not enough time for a president to get in any trouble. Or, for that matter, it's not enough time for a president to get our country in any trouble.

Therefore, I propose that we take another look at, not the 25th, but the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. That's the one that says that the longest a president can serve is eight years. I propose that those eight years be reduced to two hours and fifteen minutes. That's how long we should elect our presidents for. It seems like the perfect length of time for a person to do no harm to the country, but still enjoy sitting in that oval office and bragging to his friends and old teachers.

On second thought, maybe we'd better round it down to two hours. These people can get in trouble awfully fast.

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Slobs Make Better Lovers
Oct. 25, 2002

(CBS) According to a recent poll, guys with messy sock drawers have sex three times more per month than those who organize their socks. I never knew there was such a direct connection between socks and sex. Maybe soon, schools will be offering courses in socks education.

The poll was conducted by IKEA, the home furnishings people. It was part of their "You Can't Be Too Organized" survey. I guess this "more sex" result was not something that the pro-organized people at IKEA predicted. And those who are disorganized don't just have more sex. According to the poll, their relationships might be better in other ways, too. Those couples that don't have closet organizers argue three times less per month than those who do. (I don't know what a "closet organizer" is, so I guess we don't have one. I could ask my wife if she thinks we should get one, but that might just cause an argument.)

Also, men who don't own Palm Pilots are more likely to remember their wives' birthdays than men who do own them.

These results are not all that surprising. If you spend all your time organizing your socks or entering data in your Palm Pilot, you will have little time for anything else. Also, if you are compulsive, and must do things like make sure all the dishes are clean before going to bed, or check to see that all the doors are locked several times before you can relax, your spouse will probably be asleep before you're ready to settle in for the night.

Being organized seems almost by definition to be un-sexy. How many people fantasize about a romantic stranger who makes lists? How many people dream about a sexy somebody who has a calendar on his watch? How turned on would you be if you heard, "I'll be right with you. I just have to color-code my shirts?"

On the other hand, while a disregard for order might be sexy in the beginning, what about a long-term relationship? According to the survey, married men were four times more likely to leave their pajamas on the floor in the morning than single men. I wonder what percentage of wives find that sexy.

There are other curious results of the poll. Registered Republicans were three times more likely to color-code their T-shirt drawers and organize their closets than registered Democrats. However, Democrats were five times as likely to color-code their files at work than Republicans. What conclusions should we draw from this data? That Republicans are less likely to have sex at home and Democrats are less likely to have sex at work? I don't think recent history supports this.

Despite the messy socks-good sex connection, the people at IKEA maintain that being organized is a good thing. They believe that you can gain a great deal of quality time by reducing all the minutes and hours you spend looking for keys, glasses, or the remote control. (By the way, according to the survey, men spend an average of 80 minutes per week looking for the remote control. Women spend 7 minutes.)

I'm not so sure about this quality time benefit. Almost daily, while I'm looking frantically for my keys, glasses, or the remote control, I'll come across something that I lost a week or two ago. I might never have found that thing if I had a regular place for my keys, glasses, or the remote control.

Let's put this whole survey in perspective. It was conducted by a home furnishings company. Is this really where we should be getting our information about sex and relationships? Traditionally we learn about these things on the playground or from daytime TV. Besides, how unbiased can a company that sells organizers be about organization?

And this isn't just any furniture company. It's IKEA. That's the place that sells you furniture in a million pieces that you put together after you get home, working from directions that always seem upside down. I'm not sure that this company should be considered experts in sex. If I bought a bed from IKEA, I'd probably spend more time trying to assemble it than I would using it.

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The Fighting Pacifists
Jan. 8, 2002

(CBS) There's a crisis in sports today. I'm not talking about the high salaries and ticket prices, the drugs, or the abominable Designated Hitter rule. I'm talking about the state of team names and mascots. Political correctness and social consciousness have changed nicknames that were once sacrosanct.

Opposition to racism has been the prime motivation for the change. Understandably, Native Americans did not like having their culture portrayed as simultaneously goofy and war-like. They felt there was more to their heritage than tomahawks and face paint. In response to this, hundreds of teams have changed their nicknames. Some remain. Despite all kinds of opposition including a public denunciation by Hank Aaron, the Atlanta Braves remain the Atlanta Braves. Possibly worse, our nation's capital is represented in the NFL by a team shamefully called, "Redskins." Think about it: the color of someone's skin is the actual name of a team.

I'm not against getting rid of the offensive names. It's just that dubious ones often replace them. The problem is that almost every name might insult somebody. So, how do we find names that conjure up the proper images for sports teams without offending people?

In addition to racism, those in charge have tried to rid sports of sexism. This has resulted in some pretty odd names. For years, the men's athletic teams at the University of South Carolina have been known as, "the Gamecocks." Obviously a gamecock is a male animal. So, as women's sports became bigger at the school, they had to come up with a name for the women's teams. They call them "Lady Gamecocks." What exactly is a lady gamecock?

In the NBA, some people thought the "Washington Bullets" sounded too violent. They changed the name to the "Washington Wizards," thereby offending those who don't believe wizardry is an appropriate image for a sports team. Similarly, how about "Blue Devils," "Red Devils," and "Demons?" There are plenty of people who probably don't want their kids to root for a team whose symbol personifies evil.

What about teams named "Conquerors," "Pirates," or "Marauders?" Do we really want to have teams named for people who killed and plundered? How much longer can the Idaho "Vandals" exist without protest? The "Brewers" promote alcohol, something sports can probably do without. And I'm sure some religious people are offended by teams like the "Monks" of St. Joseph's College or Centre College's "Praying Colonels." However, I guess the Whitman College "Missionaries" are probably good at converting extra points.

There are other names that just don't seem right for all kinds of reasons. The men's baseball team at California State University at Long Beach is called the "Dirtbags." Do the "Runnin' Rebels" of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas imply a cowardly Confederate army? Richland High School in Washington state is near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, one of the sites involved in producing the first atomic bomb. The nickname for that school? "The Bombers." And the athletes at Yuma High School are known as, the "Criminals."

There are many team names that probably don't offend anybody. But do they really sound like the name of a team you can cheer for? What image does the University of California at Santa Cruz "Banana Slugs" bring to mind? Do the "Purple Cows" of Williams College sound ferocious to you? How about the Amherst Lord Jeffs? Or the Freeport High "Pretzels," or the Washburn University "Ichabods?" What's the cheer for the Teutopolis High School "Wooden Shoes?" – - "Clog 'em?" And are visiting teams really intimidated by Scottsdale Community College's mascot: the "Fighting Artichoke?" I can't help wondering about any team that goes well with vinaigrette.

I don't know what the answer is, but we'll have to work harder to try to come up with names that are not offensive but still evoke an athletic image. The WNBA is trying its best to go with names that don't hurt anybody's feelings. Maybe they're trying too hard. They have a team called, the "Miami Sol." To me, that doesn't sound like a sports team. It sounds like a retired guy who hangs out at a deli.

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Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
Jun.15, 2004

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

(CBS) For many people, this is an anxious time to travel to a foreign country. However, I was in Paris for ten days over the Christmas/New Year's holiday, and I'm so happy that anxiety didn't keep me home. (Often it keeps me from just going into the next room.) Traveling forces us to see things in a refreshingly different perspective. It's healthy to be in the minority once in a while. It may be somewhat humbling, but, unlike the rich foods, you can't have too much humility.

If you're someone who's panicky about world travel right now, you might benefit from some things I learned on my trip:

If you don't smoke, start now. You might as well. You're going to be inhaling an enormous amount of tar and nicotine over there. It's not just the "City of Lights." It's also the "City of Lighting Up." Forget about "Smoking" and "Non Smoking" sections. Apparently, they have areas that are designated as "Smoking Required." After dinner one night, while my wife was waiting for her coffee, I went outside the restaurant to not have a cigarette.

All Smoking All The Time is just something you'll have to put up with. It's worth it because of all the other wonderful things, like the great artwork. My favorite work of art was the city itself. Every neighborhood, every street, every building seemed to be the result of talented people with amazing taste. Of course, they have museums, too, but they were really crowded. Limit yourself to one museum per day. That's about all your eyes and feet will be able to take. After being in Paris about a week, my big question was why did all those wonderful artists have to paint so many pictures? Three or four each would've been fine.

The food is fantastic. Keep in mind that this is a country that considers bakers national heroes. And don't worry about rude waiters. We didn't run into one until our third day. (Or else, we just didn't understand what they were saying for the first two days).

That brings us to language. Even if you only know a little French, use it. The French will appreciate it. My wife and I both took French in school, and we had a few refresher classes before the trip. However, to be honest, our French didn't sound much like the French the Parisians spoke. I soon realized that if we had something private to say that we didn't want them to understand, the best thing for us to do was to say it in French.

They have a reputation for not being nice to Americans. I didn't find this to be true, and you probably won't either if you remember that you are a guest in their country. If they give you a weird look because you don't know the word for "spoon" or because you mispronounce "salade nicoise," think about how you react to a foreign visitor who speaks botched English or doesn't understand the nuances of baseball or a Reuben sandwich. Also, I suggest trying to avoid phrases like, "How much is that in real money?" or "I know you can speak English, so stop pretending," or "We really saved your butts in World War II, didn't we?"

They have a different culture, but it's a culture worth appreciating. They must have brilliant scientists because they have come up with a substance harder than diamond — their toilet paper. But how can you not love the French? They have a lingerie shop at the airport!

One postscript: it's a very child-friendly city and culture. Unless you really want to have a good time, there's no reason to leave your small children at home. And if you have a baby, don't even bother bringing any pacifiers. Just do what the French do — stick a cigarette in its mouth.


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This Water's All Wet
May 14, 2003

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

As we head towards summer and people are getting more and more thirsty, I want to talk about the popularity of the fastest-growing beverage in today's modern world. This miracle drink has 0 calories, 0 sodium, 0 fat, and 0 carbohydrates, so no wonder it's becoming increasingly popular. The drink is called "water." Bottled water. The stuff that used to be for the rich and pretentious is now being lapped up like, well, like water. And I'm not talking about flavored water or bubbly water. I'm talking about Americans spending billions of dollars just to drink something that they could get out of their tap.

Everyone who has seen "Erin Brockovich" knows that not all water is safe (and that not everybody should wear a push-up bra). However, assuming that the water in your area is not poisonous, why buy the bottled stuff? There is the assumption by the consumer (and the impression by the advertiser) that somehow bottled water is healthier for us than regular water or other drinks. Considering that the most popular bottled waters are sold by Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and Nestle, it's hard to think of them as health foods.

The various brands try to appear as healthy as possible. Descriptions on their bottles include, "spring water," "pure spring water," "natural spring water," "mountain spring," "natural artesian water," "crystal fresh," "naturally filtered," and "purified drinking water." And at least one boasts my favorite label slogan -- "arsenic free." Is this bottle just telling me that it contains no arsenic, or is it also implying that those without this disclaimer may be loaded with arsenic? I mean, Krispy Kreme doesn't label its donut boxes, "Plutonium free."

There is a huge range in price and snobbishness among bottled waters. In case you haven't gotten your copy of "Beverage Digest" lately, let me remind you that no less of an authority than its editor and publisher, John D. Sicher, says they are all basically the same and "all hydrate equally well." The most popular brand of water is Pepsi Cola's Aquafina. And the most amazing thing to me is that this water actually costs more than Pepsi! So, it's conceivable that the following conversation could take place: "Want some water?" "No, I don't want to spend that much. I'll just have a Pepsi." Evidently, when it comes to water, the higher the price, the more people buy.

People are very proprietary about their favorite brands, claiming that theirs tastes best and helps keep them in good shape. Bottled waters can cause all kinds of arguments – and not only about taste or health. My neighbor was recently buying some Evian in the grocery store when another customer chided him for not buying American products at this time. Then the angry "patriot" drove away in his Porsche.

When it comes to water, I don't have a very discriminating taste. Yesterday, I bought eight different brands of water -- varying in price from 34 cents to about 2 dollars. I conducted a blind taste test, and even included tap water. They all tasted pretty much the same to me. Maybe I should have had a sip of wine in between each taste to cleanse my palette. I know that some people -- maybe even most people – are better than I am at distinguishing the different brands, but is all this clear liquid worth the hype and money? If you tell me that your favorite brand tastes better than all the rest and makes you feel healthier than the others, I believe you. But I can't help thinking that those in the bottled water business are laughing at us consumers and thinking that we're suckers -- especially when you consider what Evian spelled backwards spells.

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Modern Times: The Swimsuit Issue
February 12, 2003

Lloyd Garver :: Audio Column

(CBS) As you read this, you are participating in history. This is CBSNews.com's first swimsuit edition of a column.

I have mixed feelings about being the author of this historic column, but the realities of today's competitive market have forced my hand. For years, sex, skin, and swimsuits have been used to attract people to products, publications, and productions. Many of us in the media have resisted joining the flesh peddlers for as long as we could. But when National Geographic came out with a swimsuit issue this month, that was the straw that broke our sunscreen-slathered backs. No, you won't see sexy pictures in this column. But I am wearing a swimsuit as I write.

As I sit in my 100 percent nylon made-in-Hong Kong "Tommy Bahama" suit, I should tell you that Sports Illustrated started the whole thing with its first swimsuit issue in 1964. Every year since then, the issue has grabbed readers' attention during that winter lull between the Super Bowl and the baseball season. Sports Illustrated's wise editors have continued to display beautiful people in bathing suits in the middle of winter, frolicking in warm, sunny places. That way, the reader whose car may be buried in snow can vicariously be on a beach, looking at some model wearing a ridiculously expensive suit that nobody would ever actually swim in.

Looking out my office window here in Southern California, watching the wind kiss the palm trees as the mountains hover watchfully in the background, I'm reminded that the success of Sports Illustrated's famous issue got the attention of other magazines. Over the years, many publications have put out their own swimsuit editions. Of course, while all this was happening, the rest of our culture was also being inundated with images of scantily clad folks. Semi-naked models sell everything from cereal to soap, and many movies and television shows would be considered conservative if their actors wore things that covered them up as much as bathing suits. And it's impossible to avoid seeing sexy images on the Internet.

But many in the mainstream refused to participate in this frenzy. Until now. National Geographic's February swimsuit issue opened the floodgates, and there will be no way to hold back the water that models will dip their pedicured toes in. Of course, the people at National Geographic and other highly regarded publications are quick to point out that their swimsuit issues are "tasteful." Furthermore, National Geographic's editor says that this issue is all about "fun and wonder — as well as total astonishment at what some people will wear in public." Nice rationalization. If this is completely true, I guess we'll soon be seeing a special edition of National Geographic devoted to "100 Years Of Ugly Golf Pants." If it's an anthropological and sociological study, why didn't they choose "The Majesty Of The Loose-Fitting Flannel Shirt?" or "Sweat Pants Worn by Those Who Made a Difference?" No, they chose swimsuits, because they're swimsuits.

I'm not a prude. I like gratuitous sexiness as much as the next person. But it's just gotten to be silly. (By the way, now I've changed into my blue Nautica suit with the orange trim). It seems to me that there are places that are appropriate for semi-dressed people to be displayed, and places that are not appropriate.

Who's going to be next? Health and Fitness could easily justify a swimsuit issue. Scientific American could accompany the photos with explanations of gravity-defying design techniques. Are Newsweek and Time going to have issues devoted to, "The Swimmers of Congress?" And Reader's Digest should have no problem showing us even briefer bathing suits.

Having switched to my 100 percent polyester Polo Sport suit with the little fishes on it, I can honestly say that I'm not sure where all this will end. But I will give you one promise. I will never ask you to read a column that I've written while wearing a thong. Well, if I do, I promise it will be a tasteful one.


Paris On Two Prozacs A Day
Jan.08, 2002

(CBS) The other day, I received an invitation from Tom DeLay, HYPERLINK "http://www.majorityleader.gov/" \t "new" Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. Some people would probably say it's just a computer-generated form trying to elicit a contribution to help reelect the president. However, I felt compelled to reply:

Tom DeLay, M.C.
Majority Leader
United States Congress
H-107 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman DeLay:

I just received the invitation to serve as an Honorary Chairman of the House Majority Trust and to come to the 2004 President's Dinner in Washington. I accept.

Since you invited me personally — it said "Lloyd Garver" right on the envelope, and the letter started off "Dear Friend" — you are apparently familiar with and, I guess, a "friend" of my column. Perhaps one reason you invited me was so I would share with the other guests the views expressed in your favorite columns of mine. With that in mind, I will be prepared to discuss such things as the First Swimsuit Column,Dan Quayle as a possible running mate for John Kerry, and the survey that determined that slobs make better lovers. I don't mind admitting that I was flattered when you said, "some of the best and wisest decisions will come from working together with exceptional individuals like you."

As a columnist, I have often been rough on politicians from both sides of the aisle. I have certainly not treated the current president with kid gloves. In fact, I have often expressed how appalled I've been at things President Bush has done and said. And yet, you still invited me to this occasion. I am very touched. Until now, I had dismissed the president's description of himself as a "uniter, not a divider" as so much political rhetoric. But because of your desire to include me in this group and at this dinner, I must view the Republican Party as the party of inclusion.

Similarly, I was pleased by your admission that "the Democrats embrace an agenda far different from the principles and ideals of our Republican Party." I think that such an admission may be the first step to correcting the mistakes of the Republican Party, and I congratulate you on your bravery in making this admission public.

I noticed that you put "M.C." after your name, so I guess you will be the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. I have a couple of suggestions about that. The Republican Party is often accused of not being the party of minorities, so I would lay off the ethnic humor. The safest thing might be for you to just do a few impersonations. You could start with the old, stiff Al Gore and end with the new, ranting Al Gore. But if you feel yourself losing the audience, just say how optimistic you are about America and mention the words "national security." It always works.

Now, to a ticklish topic. When I got to the end of the letter and saw that you were asking people to donate $5,000, well, frankly, I was shocked. You don't invite someone to dinner and then ask them to pay you for the privilege of being invited. It's okay to ask a guest to bring a bottle of wine, a dessert, maybe a side dish. But $5,000?!

Now that I think about it, asking me for a contribution must have been some sort of computer mistake. Someone with your experience is certainly aware that as a columnist, it would be unethical for me to make such a donation. So I guess somebody on your staff "cut-and-pasted" when they were just supposed to "paste." No biggie. Don't even bother trying to find out who messed up. Sometimes the chain of command gets awfully fuzzy. Besides, everybody will probably just say they were following orders.

So, obviously, I won't be contributing any money. But from your letter, it's clear that this dinner is not about money. It's about ideas, people, and, yes, America. So I know that you won't rescind my invitation just because I'm not contributing financially.

I look forward to seeing you on July 21st, and don't worry about me. I can just take a cab to the dinner.


Lloyd Garver
Honorary Chairman

P.S. If there is going to be Japanese food, I'd rather not sit next to the president's father.

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Parents, Iraq And Worry
Aug. 6, 2004

(CBS) I'm usually the guy who tries to make you laugh, or at least smile. But there are some things that I just don't find funny, yet still feel the need to write about.

Yesterday I was in the dentist's chair at 8:30 in the morning. It's never a great place to be. But as I was getting my teeth cleaned, I had a fascinating and moving time, listening to my hygienist. She told me that some people she talks to say she is a "bad American."

Her stepson is 20 years old and is fighting in Iraq. She and her husband get a phone call from him every few months, and a short e-mail every few weeks. She doesn't mind how brief the e-mail is, because at least it's a demonstration that he "still has the use of his hands." So far, he's healthy and doing OK.

His parents, on the other hand, are filled with rage and fear. Fear that something will happen to him, and rage that he's been sent to fight in a war that doesn't make sense to them. Some people tell her that not supporting this administration's policy means she's not supporting the troops. She desperately would love for every soldier to return home safely. What could be more supportive of the troops?

She says she doesn't know if the administration purposely lied to us about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's imminent threat to America. She thinks it's possible that they were just honestly misinformed by bad intelligence. So, in her view, they were either liars or incompetent. Those are the only two possibilities that this concerned parent can see.

So she doesn't understand how Bill Clinton could've been impeached for lying about his sexual affairs, but George Bush may be reelected president even though he sent men and women off to risk their lives based on false information.

Her stepson's first job over there was to drive a Humvee into clearings to draw enemy fire. That way, our troops could discover the location of snipers. Now he has a safer job. He's training coalition forces — a 20-year-old with no experience is training the forces that are supposed to take over.

He doesn't feel he's fighting for an important cause. He doesn't feel like a liberator. He feels he's caught up in something that is "all about oil" that "only politicians and rich guys" understand. This perception may be completely inaccurate. He may have fallen for anti-Bush propaganda. But it's still what's in the heart of at least one of our soldiers over there.

This young man is due to come home soon for a two-week leave. But he doesn't want to do it. He's afraid that it will just be too hard for him to come home to family and friends and hamburgers and ice cream and a real bed, just to return to the dangers and the desert of Iraq two weeks later.

Is my friend, the hygienist, demonstrating against the war? No. Is she telling everybody she sees to vote for John Kerry? No. As a matter of fact, she just says she wants everybody to get out there and vote. She wants us all to listen to the candidates, have open minds, and be involved.

She has two big wishes. One is for her kid, and all the kids, to come home unharmed. The other is for us to never go to war again unless it's the last resort and we have all the correct information. She sounds like a pretty good American to me.

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