‘Coffee Names’ and ‘Szechuan Names’


NPR picked up on this Village Voice weblog post by Shefali Kulkarni and I heard her interviewed today. She describes how, five months or so ago, she started to order her coffees at Starbucks under the name  ‘Sheila’ instead of being burdened to spell her unfamiliar foreign name for the baristas. She is apologetic about racial profiling, but she began to notice that those on the coffee lines with foreign names often did the same thing. Now coffee snob that I am, I would never be caught in a Starbucks, but this reminds me of somethng I do which in effect turns this situation on its head.

Being a fiend for Asian food, with which my neighborhood is quite well-endowed, I noticed about thirty years ago that when I ordered takeout the Asian restauranteurs often had difficulty understanding my name ‘Eliot’ and I began ordering my food under the name ‘Wes’. Unambiguous, didn’t require spelling, etc. Within a few months, however, my favorite Szechuan restaurant started identifying me whenever I came in for a table or a pickup as ‘Mr. West,’ and ‘Hello, Mr. West’ it has remained.

This was before I used credit cards. When that changed, I recall worrying about the confusion it might cause at the restaurant if ‘Mr. West’ paid for his food with a card belonging to ‘Eliot Gelwan’, but they never batted an eyelid. After I had children, once they became old enough to notice, my son and daughter on the other hand have been shaking their heads in consternation whenever my restaurant  greets me. I think I’ll have to point them to the ‘coffee names’ post to vindicate msyelf…

What to Avoid Now?

Poster promoting early diagnosis and treatment...
Top 5 Suspected Everyday Carcinogens in American Cancer Society’s Scary New Report: “Some carcinogens you already know and fear: cigarettes, asbestos, smoked meat.

But what about the ones you’ve never even heard of? That’s the crux of a new report from the American Cancer Society (ACS), which rounds up 20 “suspected carcinogens” the organization would like to see studied more extensively.” (AOL News via Lloyd)

R.I.P. Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr

Journalism Legend Dies At 93:

“Daniel Schorr, a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at
home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate, has died. He was 93.Schorr, who once described himself as a “living history book,” passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. His family did not provide a cause of death.As a journalist, Schorr was able to bring to contemporary news commentary a deep sense of how governmental institutions and players operate, as well as the perspective gained from decades of watching history upfront.” (NPR)

I have enjoyed Schorr’s NPR commentaries for years. Anyone on Nixon’s Enemies List has a certain amount of caché with me to begin with, but add to that that Schorr continued to plug away for the causes in which he believed well into his 90’s. It did become abit painful to listen to him in the past year or two, as he was obviously slipping, needing alot of prompting in his commentaries, and speaking in banalities. But we got to continue to bask in the presence of living history. Here is NPR host Scott Simon’s remembrance of him.

That Was Fast

Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...
Amazon Says E-Books Now Top Hardcover Sales: “Monday was a day for the history books — if those will even exist in the future. Amazon.com, one of the nation’s largest booksellers, announced Monday that for the last three months, sales of books for its e-reader, the Kindle, outnumbered sales of hardcover books.In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition.” (NYTimes.com)

A New Term for Lousy Parenting

“The Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell coined a new phrase last week and began a war of words.

Mitchell, who is African-American, and who has long been a strong voice tackling parenting challenges she sees as particular to her community, blamed what she called “ghetto parenting” for condemning children to failure.

In a column titled “Ghetto Parenting Dooms Kids: Deck Stacked Against Those Who Were Raised in the Streets,” she defines her new term like this…”  [more] (New York Times )