I spent a great deal of time in the steam room today. Yesterday I woke up with a savage sore throat that only partially responded to my usual regimen of green tea, gargling with a hydrogen peroxide solution and pain-numbing medication. It was a little better this morning, perhaps because I ate lots of chicken soup for dinner, the sort from a can that has enough salt in it to throw off the ionic balance of all but the hardiest bacteria. Still, I was not happy this morning and decided that I would try to steam myself into health. The jury is still out on that effort -- I feel better, but not great -- but I did learn that extended sitting in a steam room makes a man feel, not healthy, wealthy and wise, but like a mid-level Soviet bureaucrat. My thoughts grew increasingly turgid. I grunted when spoken to. When someone in the locker room later made a case for linking Obama's victory with the American entrepreneurial spirit that inspires innovation, I countered with the tale of the T-34 tank, which did more to win World War II than any other technology, and which was designed and produced at the height of Stalin's murderous reign. More troubling still, my telling of this tale triggered a desire to defect or, failing that, eat lots of meat on a stick while getting boisterously drunk.