Read all about it! Headline from Garden of Eden Gazette

Friday, November 16, 2001

Just when you think you can't be more amazed by something you read in the newspaper, it happens again. Consider this headline:Study finds beauty

affects male brain

like food, drugs

Wow! Did you know that?

Of course you did.

This is a so-called revelation that has been common knowledge since creation.

I call it a headline from the Garden of Eden Gazette.

It might have been news to Adam and Eve, but most folks these days are pretty familiar with the urges of men in their mid-20s like the ones sampled in this scientific study.

Every time I see the published results of studies like this, I jump to several conclusions.

Conclusion No. 1: I'll bet this study cost a lot of money.

Conclusion No. 2: I'll bet the government paid all or part of the cost.

Conclusion No. 3: I'll bet any student at the junior high school could have provided the same information in no time at all. For free.

I've always said that if I wanted to start my own business, I'd start writing grant proposals for major government-sponsored studies of the obvious.

Take the strong attraction of men to power tools. Does the government know everything it needs to know about that?

Sullivan & Co., experts in consulting, divination and make-believe, at your service.

I figure a proper study of why men's brains turn to mush around unsold power tools is worth a gob of money.

Certainly a lot more than the $12,000 our fair River City of Roses was about to spend to get a consultant to tell the feds we don't need to restrict parking at our airport while armed National Guardsmen patrol the terminal and maintain order among the throng of air travelers hustling and bustling to board major flights to exotic destinations.

As it turned out, the feds were just as easily persuaded by a phone call which, I hope, did not cost $12,000.

Studies are the latest fad in decision making. If you have a tough decision to make and don't want to take the heat, hire a consultant. That's how City Hall handled recent concerns about our police department to the tune of $40,000-plus -- the approximate cost of one patrol officer for a year. As many police officers said when the first draft of the study came out:

"I knew that."

Of course they did. And so did just about everybody else.

Before consultants took over the world, crucial decisions were made by committees. Share the blame. That was the motto of the rule-by-committee culture.

Even further back, our destiny-changing decisions were left to seers and wizards who found Truth and Wisdom and Right Choices in the flesh of rotting chickens and the hearts of persimmon seeds.

I'd like to think there once was a time when men and women, called upon to make critical choices, simply made a decision. Alone. Without a lot of hubbub. Much like working mothers -- who are finishing their college degrees while their ex-husbands welch on child-support payments but still find time to bake eclairs for the second-grade Thanksgiving party and change the alternator in the 15-year-old car they are driving -- do every day, all day without a second thought.

Memo to myself: Send grant proposal to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding a study showing why the opposable thumbs of male humans are genetically predisposed to the operation of remote-control devices and predicting that a hundred years from now all male humans will be born with a thumb on one hand and a clicker on the other.

There's a reason the Bible makes no mention of wallpaper.

Check it out for yourself.

There's handwriting on a wall

There's Jericho and the walls that couldn't stand up to jazz.

There's China's Great Wall -- no, wait. That's not in the Bible either.

But no wallpaper.


Because the words used by most do-it-yourself wallpaper hangers are essentially the same words used by men who don't read the instructions to power tools.

I don't see how those words would fit into any book you'd want on your coffee table or beside your bed.

The reason I'm thinking about wallpaper is this: Two friends have recently returned to the area and are in the process of decorating the house they just bought. They are wallpaper people. My wife and I, on the other hand, have made it our mission in life to rid the world -- or at least any house we live in -- of wallpaper.

Some of those special words come in mighty handy when you strip wallpaper, just like they do when you hang it yourself.

So, good luck, friends. Just don't expect any help from us. I'll gladly paint, lay bricks or wash windows.

But no wallpaper.

It was sad news, indeed, to hear of the death this week of Dr. Bill Seabaugh, a physician who loved fast horses. My wife and I got to know Bill and his lovely wife, Pat, during our trips each June to matinee performances of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. I suspect Bill knew a lot more about opera than we did, but if he was ever displeased by anything he saw or heard on stage, he never let on. Instead, he always found something positive to say about every performance.

At intermissions, however, his thoughts were always on one of his horses or an imminent race. And, even though I know less about horses than I do about opera, Bill always made racehorses sound interesting and exciting.

Our sympathy goes to Pat and all the Seabaugh family.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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