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Around The Horn - What's Going On Around These Parts?...By Nelson Lardner

What's new, Pussycat? . . .


MW's favorite politician, Frist returns to Old Nassau this fall. To quote last week's Princeton release on the subject:

"(Frist) will be appointed for the 2007-08 academic year as the Frederick H. Schultz Class of 1951 Professor of International Economic Policy, with the rank of lecturer of public and international affairs . . . (he) will teach a graduate course in the Woodrow Wilson School on health policy during the fall semester and an undergraduate course on a similar subject in the spring."

Frist makes this move after retiring from the U. S. Senate after serving two full terms, and gaining the Republican Majority Leader post in 2002 . . . though his overt presidential ambitions were met with broad yawns, and most of we locals have a special place in our hearts for the dear fellow, after he railroaded the UIGEA through Congress in the dead of night as a rider attached to a port security bill that would have been a political poison-pill for virtually any legislator voting against.

All-around, '06 was anything but a vintage year for the ol' Frister, after failing to sustain his active medical license, essentially for not undergoing the continuing medical education needed, in a timely manner. To quote the AP story, from late last August:

" . . . Frist did not meet all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active - even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had, his office acknowledged . . . Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon who is considering a 2008 presidential run (Ed. Note: but . . . but . . . !) submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he has fulfilled that requirement."

Whoops . . . though my understanding is that he's since straightened this out with the Tennessee State Board of Medical Examiners. Better late than never . . . I guess . . . but still, lying about it off the top of the deck is blatant bad form, eh, wot?

As an emeritus trustee of Princeton, Frist will fit right into the ol' college town, in our view. While the site of many beautiful homes, interesting shops, and the grave of former President Grover Cleveland, it's also the home of more eccentric busybodies than any other Ivy League settlement. Jersey residents might just be fortunate enough to be able to audit a class or two, or run into Frist at the Blue Point Grill, Laheire's, or the Witherspoon Grill, thus gaining the opportunity to enlighten Frist with their thoughts regarding his words and deeds during his Senate career.

Frist's Terri Schaivo rantings were a national embarrassment. His UIGEA skullduggery was a shining example of giving the public (not to mention the nation's banks) precisely what they DON'T want.

BETCHA.COM: The new kid on the block . . . owned by something called the Internet Community & Entertainment Corp. - not publicly-traded. Originating out of the Pacific Northwest (by a Mr. Nicholas Jenkins, it appears), Betcha is the result of considerable time and energy dedicated to structuring a non-seeded person-to-person betting platform . . . perhaps even one capable of gaining its sea legs - while staying clear of the ire of the Department of Justice.

Those who play at and other well-known venues already have the general idea . . . if you don't see a price you like, structure a proposition you're willing to live with, post up, and see if anyone else in cyberspace is willing to take you up on your proposal. Here, you must post up in order to attempt to make a market on your own . . . and the twist - once an event is completed, payments are to be made on the honor system, with subsequent thumbs up/thumbs down ratings attached to individual participants, in the eBay mode.

Wish 'em no ill, though the difficulties of a start-up in this field, especially given the smallish positions on offer, are forbidding - and never mind constantly looking over your shoulder at the Feds in a situation where U. S. citizens are expected to play through a stateside-based entity. But there's a measure of precedent on Betcha's side, in that what Betcha has done is offer a home for the old-time, man-to-man, handshake wager. There's plenty of judicial precedent riding in favor of unharassed man-to-man betting in the States - previous cases from close to a century ago gave the all-clear signal to golfers and contract-bridge players wagering among themselves, on their own prowess.

Heaven knows, the current administration has far bigger fish to fry (though that hasn't stopped the boys from sticking their noses into a number of tents most responsible observers had thought to be an unsuitable usage of valuable time and energy). Bon voyage, and godspeed . . . though the utter lack of assurances regarding actually being paid on a significant winning wager casts dark shadows over even this well-meant ship.

Nelson Lardner

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