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Today's stories [10.3.09]

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Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona served as lead military translator during
America's negotiations with the Iraqis at the end of the Gulf War:

"Good morning, sir," Francona told an arriving Iraqi general one day. "I 
am Major Francona from General Norman Schwarzkopf's staff. If you will 
step out of the car, I will take you to meet the general, and we can 

When the general remained motionless, recalcitrantly glowering, Francona
leaned in closer and rephrased his request in Arabic slang: "Get out of 
the car, f---face."

The negotiations began shortly thereafter.


Of the Greek prime minister Plasteras, Winston Churchill once remarked:
"Well, I hope he doesn't have feet of clay, too."


I suppose some degree of commerce would grind to a halt if telephone 
solicitors weren't able to call people at home during dinner hour.
But that doesn't make it any more pleasant.

Now Steve Rubenstein, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has 
proposed  "Three Little Words" based on his brief experience in a 
telemarketing operation that would stop the nuisance for all time.  The 
three little words are "Hold On, Please."
Saying this while putting down your phone and walking off instead of 
hanging up immediately would make each telemarketing call so time-
consuming that boiler rooms would grind to a halt.  When you eventually 
hear the phone company's beep-beep-beep tone, you know it's time to go 
back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.  
This might be one of those articles you'll want to e-mail to your 
friends.  Three little words that eliminate telephone soliciting.


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