Fall is the time for raking leaves, putting on snow tires and betting on football pools. Stick to the first two. We like a little action ourselves, but the football pools are perhaps the worst possible way to make money. The pool cards are distributed in factories and hospitals, high schools and public libraries, practically every place where there are more than two suckers assembled. On the card is a long list of football games, with equalizing point spreads aimed at making the games as close as possible. You make your picks and lose your money. The reason you lose your money is that the odds are so heavily stacked against the bettor as to be ridiculous. Consider:
If you pick five out of five winners, you are paid 15 to 1. The odds against you are 31 to 1. Pick 8 out of 8 and you get a handsome payoff of 60 to 1. But the odds against you are even handsomer: 255 to 1. Pick 10 out of 10 (a nearly impossible task) and you get back 150 to 1. You should get 1,923 to 1.
To make matters worse, it takes only one tie to make your entire card a loser. The Treasury Department has observed all this and taken steps to smash the pool racket. We suggest that the public take the job out of Treasury's hands and ignore the pools right out of existence.
DANCING IN THE LIGHT
So 44,000 people are in the stands waiting impatiently for the big game between South Carolina and Clemson. There is applause when the orange-coated Clemson Tigers take the field. Thirty-six strong, they begin their pregame calisthenics with grace and finesse. Then they swing into strange gyrations, zigging and zagging in place, shaking their hips, waving their arms, bumping and grinding like a bunch of fifth-rate burlesque queens. The Clemson fans, no fools, know that this is not the Clemson team, but a bunch of phonies from South Carolina dressed like the Clemson team. Down onto the field pour outraged Clemsonites, and battle is done here and there and hither and yon. Thus was The Twist introduced to the gridiron. We doubt that it will appear again.
For the past 25 years an inspired musician named Ludwig Koch has been prowling around the British Isles, recording such sounds as the rustle of the reeds in the marshes of Norfolk and the whisper of the waves on Dover Beach. He has also recorded the songs of 178 species of birds, and while bird song recordings these days are commonplace, those of Ludwig Koch are not: he started such work, and was the first to record the astounding squeaks, chatters, whistles, buzzes, wails, squawks and wild ethereal melodies with which nature has endowed birds.
Driven out of Germany in 1936 by the Nazis, Koch was welcomed in England, where, he said "is everything for za birds and animals. It is amazing how zey understand how important it is." An old-fashioned character who wore a black beret and lemon-yellow spats on his sound-hunting expeditions, Koch began a radio program devoted to bird songs, enthralling his listeners at least in part because of his accent. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain used to go bird watching with him. Sir Julian Huxley is one of his admirers. At various times he has recorded the complete vocabulary of the mute swan, the rarely heard mating call of the camel, the amorous orations of lions and the cracking sound produced when a greenshank sandpiper breaks out of the shell.
A reputable scientist who has been called the greatest living birdman, Koch has a highly developed sense of humor. Once when he was trying to make a night recording of the sounds of a wryneck—a sort of British woodpecker—he appealed to the neighborhood to silence a leaky cistern. Its sound was becoming confused with the lament of the bird and thus was threatening the validity of his research. The cistern was silenced. Last week the British Broadcasting Corporation prepared a special broadcast in honor of Koch's 80th birthday. He was asked if, in his lifetime of bird watching, he had noted that birds watched people. Yes, he said caustically. He was setting up his equipment one day, and a warbler watched him, waited for him to crawl into the bushes to hide, then hopped up to the microphone and yelled, "Go away!"