Has medical science conducted any formal research on whether David Brooks is a proven laxative?

class=img_thumbleft>In the annals of anonymous


, there may be few stranger chapters than the case of our toilet philanthropist. There's one stall here on the sixth floor of CPHQ, and beyond the unsettlingly high-pressure flush, nothing unusual can be said about its commode. Except this: Every day, someone prints up highlights from the New York Times' Op-Ed section and leaves them folded over the handicap rail.

As many readers probably know, in September of last year, the NYT began charging for online access to its columnists in various sections of the paper. For $49.95 a year, subscribers can read "premium" content--that is, business and sports and opinion pieces that they'd long read for free. The paper's management has crowed that more than 150,000 users have signed up for the service. That said, I don't know a single person who has, and I don't know anyone who knows anyone who has, either.

And so it is a singular act of benevolence to share the fruits of one's private account with everyone else who works on the floor: the Russian computer programmers, whose whiteboard is always festooned with inscrutable diagrams; the casting agency that attracts a steady stream of nubile, floral-scented women into the sluggish elevator. I naturally wonder who it is, this patron of the WC, this doo-doo do-gooder. Why doesn't he read the columns online during lunch break? How clean does he keep his hands?

But none of those questions troubles me as much as this: What kind of sad-boweled bastard can't occasionally wait for the privacy of his own throne?

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