The New York Times, in a noble enterprise that might signal a shift in the fortunes of investigative journalism, has taken on an old enemy:

Fingernail biting.

It was a timely effort considering what the nation has been through in this most difficult year.

Pandemic. Quarantine. Riots. Election folderol. College football wiped out in the Pacific-12 and Big Ten conferences, among others.

On and on the nightmare goes.

Disproportionate nail-biting.

It afflicts especially those glued — cemented, actually — to television as the crises pile up and the networks and cable operations focus on anything that is either hopeless or might become hopeless if they can nudge it a bit in that direction.

The Times added its generous dollop of agony, tossing in an artist’s conception of fingers (there are five on most hands if you include the thumb).

The report quotes a professor of psychiatry at UCLA as saying people must learn to “resist the urge” to bite their nails.

Yes, that would seem to be a good start.

Often a form of self-soothing, says the Times report, nail-biting can over time disrupt the functioning of the brain’s reward circuitry.


The story suggests reversal therapy to break the cycle of despair brought about by chewing on your nails. It recommends keeping a log, or a journal of nail-gnawing.

It doesn’t mention a chew stick.

But days and days of ceaseless bad news and self-isolation due to the pandemic scare has no doubt increased the amount of nervous nibbling.

Stepping to the forefront, the Times article offered an intriguing remedy for those times when you feel like biting your nails:

Do something else.

What concept ! And it just might work.

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On another matter — this didn’t come from the New York Times — when you’re bragging to a friend about your dog trying to communicate, do you use quotation barks?

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There are many things I don’t understand about potholes. But I know this: If you swerve to miss them all, you might get pulled over for careless and reckless driving.

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They called it the “Wicked Prayer Book” in England. Printed in 1686, it included a dreadful omission in the Epistle for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, to wit:

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry…. they who do such things shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Shall inherit,” of course, should have read “shall not inherit.”

It all begs the question, though, has anyone ever gone to the Netherworld because of a typographical error?

Corky Simpson is a veteran journalist who writes a column for the Green Valley News.