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Tectonic Upheaval

    At Point Lobos, near Carmel, there's a type of coarse sedimentary rock embedded with stones, fist-sized and larger, obviously smoothed and rounded by water. It's called the Carmelo Formation. The helpful brochure explains that these stones fell into an underwater canyon, long ago, and were buried in sediment. Presumably the whole business was cooked and pressurized at depth, then uplifted by tectonic forces, shoved onto the flank of California, where now it erodes, yielding coves to the sea, offering sea lions a smattering of stacks to serve as barking lounges. A spur of harder granite extends into the ocean to the north, covered with weatherbeaten Monterey cypress, wildflowers, poison oak and tourists.

    Biology is shaped by geology and astrophysics; take a squirrel and study it long enough and you'd figure out the size and atmospheric composition and rotation of our planet, the chemistry of the soil, and perhaps, for extra credit, the size and age and radiance of our star, and even the presence of the moon.

    My one gripe with geology is that I fear the scientists are making the whole thing up and snickering behind my back. People are always trying to make me look like an idiot. How come you never see any of this alleged tectonic upheaval? I stared for at least half an hour. Nothing moved. Not a mountain built. Not a marine terrace raised. No faulting -- normal, reverse, strike-slip or otherwise. Geologically the whole place was listless, inert, unambitious. I know you can't exactly set your watch by these geological changes, but I hung around until the park was getting ready to close, and still, nothing, nada, zilch.

     Maybe it was an off day in California, tectonically. But I can't help but notice that Science asks us to believe in things we can't see. Quarks? Never seen one. Black holes? Ditto. Circulation of the blood? Seems to me it just pulses in place. Earth spins on its axis? Not that I can tell. Gravity decreases with the square of the distance? My math shows it decreasing with the cube. You are supposed to take all these radical ideas on faith. I'm starting to get tired of scientists telling me to believe in things I can't grab in my hands and squeeze for verification. I'm about to make it official that I wasn't born yesterday and I'm onto their game. Tectonic upheaval -- riiiight. Tell me another one.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 16, 2005; 10:25 AM ET
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joel - it could be a rift in space/time continuum caused by the impending End-of-the-Universe-J/G-Game - maybe now all biological activities will cease??

Posted by: mo | August 16, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

You are so wise: "take a squirrel and study it long enough and you'd figure out the size and atmospheric composition and rotation of our planet, the chemistry of the soil, and perhaps, for extra credit, the size and age and radiance of our star, and even the presence of the moon."

Indeed. We live in a holographic Universe.

And yes, science does ask us to believe in things we can't see. Calabi-Yau spaces? Never seen one.

Even things we CAN see are dubious: matter itself seems to be insubstantial. Could it be that all of this really is just an illusion?

And yet we continue to believe. But we believe selectively.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 12:32 PM | Report abuse

You're approaching the spot where a few surfers have mastered an utterly nasty monster wave that occasionally pops up right off the Pebble Beach golf course.

Posted by: Dave | August 16, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Japanese would agree with you today.

Posted by: sharon | August 16, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I almost missed your sea lion/barking lounges comment. Almost, but not quite...

Posted by: TA | August 16, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse


I like your science a lot.

Posted by: melvin/a | August 16, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'll give you another one, Joel.



Posted by: bc | August 16, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The beauty of science is in its predictive capability, based on inferences from the past and the present. We can predict where and when a hurricane is going to land though you never see the satellites zooming over head. Or what kind of killing power the quarks will have if weaponized! Science is not faithfully believing others - rather science says that you should "trust, but verify"!!

Posted by: Ram | August 16, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I am getting chills down my spine -- don't know if it's because of bc's comment about evolution, Sharon's comment about the Japanese earthquake (poor Joel -- bad timing; glad there were no fatalities from what I can tell, or this faux pas would have been so much worse), or melvin/a's comment about liking my science.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought Ram said "what kind of killing power the sharks will have if weaponized." And I thought, "I'm guessing a lot, since sharks can be pretty deadly without weapons." And then I re-read it correctly and it makes more sense to me.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 1:05 PM | Report abuse

As a teenager, I shocked my mother by telling her I didn't believe in God. That didn't faze my dad, but he wasn't happy when I told him I also didn't believe in electrons.

Nowadays, I believe in all kinds of stuff. Last night the topic at my Bible study was Creation, and about 20 minutes into the discussion, I spoke up and said, "Have any of you heard of 'evolution'?" That kind of stalled the conversation for a while, but it recovered and we all stayed friends.

Faith is a useful human trait.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 16, 2005 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You are a very sardonic man, Achenbach. V.g. Scientists are not that different from scientologists anyway. While you're in California (land of the prophets Cruise and Travolta), you might consider reporting on their views on intelligent design. Doesn't it have something to do with freeze-dried bacteria from outer space? Should be at least as amusing as their views on the treatment of post-partum depression.

Posted by: econvolution | August 16, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Faith is a useful human trait". Precisely said. I have faith in myself, my dog and my friends and family. But to morph this word into blindly believing something that is not verifiable is stupidity - it is even more stupid to teach this to our children as fact!

Posted by: Ram | August 16, 2005 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Science never asks us to believe in things we cannot "see". Science provides us with observations of the universe and attempts to explain those observations. Science estimates what reality is using those observations. All of the phenomena you mentioned have been observed if not by the naked eye, then by instrumentation sensitive enough to quantify and observe them. You can, of course, choose to ignore those observations or perhaps you can even make some observations of your own and come up with your own explanation for the geological formations your describe in your article. But make sure it isn't something I'll have to take on faith. I'm a scientist.

Posted by: Mike Lane | August 16, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Faith hellped America win over Communism.

But we have fears of faith-based programs that president Busch wants.

Religion and government do not mix. Look at near East.

Also, is strange president do not believe in evolution. Even government scientists will tell him that is wheere we come from.

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Joel: If you're weirded out about faith in tectonics, did you know that there's an entire universe in soil science! Literally- fractals as far as the eye can (+ can't) see. Its never ending, for stuff that just sits under your feet.

We take what we've learned about the soil universe, and can figure out what was happening at the earth's surface during the Late Triassic.
Science is pretty amazing, but I hate scientific analysis. It makes my brain hurt.

Posted by: Parasaur | August 16, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Faith didn't help America win over Communism! There is huge Communist nation still in Asia called China. There are lots of other little communist nations that are still around. If you are referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union, then you can look it up that it collapsed under its own weight due to its lopsided budgets and deficits accumulated over the years with no one to pay them. Now we are in a similar budgetary situation, but you don't feel it because other countries are buying up our debt. But that might not last forever ...

Posted by: Ram | August 16, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mike Lane:
I think Joel is just saying that it would be cool if once in a while we could watch these processes as if through a time-lapse camera. Joel is a joke-maker. He embraces his inner child. But he gets science. Joel is no dummy.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but your observations struck me as...moronic, even if they were meant to be cute and amusing.

Posted by: fred | August 16, 2005 1:32 PM | Report abuse


Is the last sentence in your last post due to your faith in Joel, or have you verified this scientifically!

Posted by: Ram | August 16, 2005 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Four and 4 only Communist states: China, NK,
Vietnam, Cuba. Not lots.

China economic star in capitalist way.

SU collapse muchly due to ability of USA to get Kremlin spend big for Defense. That is why 'former' SU countries are poor, even Russia in some aspect.

Yes in our USA we will spend over to disaster. And Busch is Republicann. Communist are bad managers, but US is looking that bad. The long war in Iraq is wrong in budget too.

Posted by: Gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse


We do have the evidence.

(It's all on line, you can look it up.)

Joel is knowledgeable in a variety of areas, from American history to astronomy and beyond--and he's so smart that when he makes stuff up, it still sounds good!

Posted by: kbertocci | August 16, 2005 1:48 PM | Report abuse

My conclusion is based on a meta-analysis of the Achenliterature. I have seen, and I believe.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The late Richard Feynman said "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself." There are many things we desperately hope are true about the Universe. Science eventually teaches us that the more an idea appeals to our emotional need for comfort and security, the less likely it is to be true!

Posted by: Karl | August 16, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The late Richard Feynman said "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself." There are many things we desperately hope are true about the Universe. Science eventually teaches us that the more an idea appeals to our emotional need for comfort and security, the less likely it is to be true!

Posted by: Karl | August 16, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, to your point, much of the time I think we Observe what we want to believe, and filter out any quanta that don't conform. Demosthenes said something to that effect 2000+ years ago, and so have many others since.

kbertocci, an argument I have with people espousing fundamantal creationism is that the very radios they're listening to "Focus on the Family" with, the computers they're surfing the latest hot Evangelical Church's Website with or the Point of Grace CD they're blasting out of their Ford Escape hybrid, all resulted from scientific method. As does Darwinian evolution.

Perhaps there's a path for humanity between nihilism (and associated cultural decay) and clerical fascism.

"God is dead." on one hand, and "Allah akbar." on the other.

Dreamer, your middle ground, perhaps:
"Thou art God"?


Posted by: bc | August 16, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You beat me to it, kbertocci. Indeed: "so smart that when he makes stuff up, it still sounds good" -- I like that. I think our love of this made-up stuff is what separates us achenfans [generic usage] from the achen-haters. (But really, what's to hate? Don't be hatin' . . .)

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse


I have since read that your article was tongue-in-cheek rather than straight commentary. I thought that, given the attitude of many of today's "commentators"
and of certain elected officials coupled with the fact that I've never read your column before may have made me jump onto a soapbox when it wasn't necessary. Sorry if I've drawn the wrong conclusion from the data I had available to me. Even scientists are human, at least the ones we can observe.

Posted by: Mike Lane | August 16, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

**************Public Notice****************
Effective Immediately, all observations of tectonic movement during Park hours is discontinued until further notice. Thank you for your cooperation.

U.S. Dept of Interior
Forestry Division
Pt. Lobos Park

Posted by: Dept of Bovine Tranquility | August 16, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse


I saw a statement from some guy who is president of a theological school, he said something like "I am a young-earth creationist; I believe that the Bible says all we need to know about creation."

I wanted to ask him, does the Bible also say everything we need to know about astronomy? physics? medicine? engineering? Why is it just this narrow area of biology that we have to stop studying about because the Bible is the final word on it?

Posted by: kbertocci | August 16, 2005 2:13 PM | Report abuse

What's that old saying--

"Against ignorance, the gods themselves contend in vain."

Posted by: kbertocci | August 16, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

i think - therefore i am

Posted by: mo | August 16, 2005 2:21 PM | Report abuse

You're right about Observing what we want to Observe, bc. In the words of William Tiller, "WE are running the holodeck."

As for your problems with fundamental creationism, I would add this:
Fundamental creationism seems to imply that the world was made for humans and that we are in charge of it, can do what we want with it. It implies that humans are somehow different from the other biological creatures on this planet and that we can somehow separate ourselves from the rest of nature and be immune from its laws. But we are part of nature. And our current civilization and all its associated religions represents a mere blip in the hisotory of the planet.

Also, creationism seems to imply that humanity in its current state is as good as it gets. There is no scope for improvement, for evolution into a species beyond man. But maybe it's arrogant to assume that we're it. Maybe compared with what may come -- if we let it -- we are dinosaurs.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I bet you buy "Intelligent design" hook line and sinker. No, I guess you have to take that one of faith too. If I were you, I wouldn't trust anybody.

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Intelligent design? Are you kidding? What lummox "designed" the possum? Butt ugly, inedible, too stupid to stay out of the road, only skill is in getting into garbage cans. What, were they "designed" on a Friday? Huh?

Posted by: CowTown | August 16, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, yeah, a lot of geologic processes are never directly seen, and are hard to comprehend. But sometimes earth systems surprise you with their simplicity and elegance.

The Pacific plate moving over an active hotspot leaves a trail of volcanic seamounts and islands, the most recent we call Hawai'i.

We can predict the type of volcano and its rock type by knowing the nearby plate boundary. (not quite up to timing them yet, though!)

Even the basic rock categories (sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic) interlock in surprisingly intricate ways.

Geology's broad concepts really appealed to me when I first learned them. However the devil is definately in the details with this science.

Posted by: Parasaur | August 16, 2005 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Mike Lane:
That was very human of you (in a good way!) to write such a nice apology to Joel; I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Joel: You're in the wrong place at the right time...Get yourself over to Japan so you can "grab it in your hands and squeeze for verification!"

Japan Earthquake Said to Leave 62 Injured

The earthquake was powerful enough to sway skyscrapers 185 miles away in Tokyo. And with an estimated magnitude of 7.2, it had the potential to cause catastrophic damage. But this time, Japan got lucky.

No one died in the quake that rocked a wide swath of northern Japan on Tuesday. The scene of the worst damage was an indoor pool where part of the roof caved in, injuring a couple dozen swimmers, many of them young children.

Still, the jolt underscored the fragility of the lifelines of even the most modern, quake-resistant cities. It forced highways and railroads to close, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded, and 17,000 households lost electricity. And with Tokyo overdue for a major quake of its own, it was a psychological jolt for many.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 16, 2005 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The reasons to believe these things which cannot directly be observed are soundly and logically derived from observable facts. Moreover, in a free and rich society, these reasons are available to be learned by anyone who wants to know. Intellectual laziness is not something to celebrate or embrace. It's not funny. In fact, it's killing us.

Posted by: Unamused | August 16, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

This is why I thank god every day that journalists can't actually make policy, only comment on it...

(not like the guy we've got is any better, but oh well...)

Posted by: Joel | August 16, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean inedible? Granny used to cook opossum belly all of the time!

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

possum belly

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Some would say the possum designed itself; it got the face it deserved.

(By the way, I liked your Public Notice from the Department of Bovine Tranquility -- very funny.)

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Unamused: please sir elaborate on 'intellectual laziness."

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Here is to hoping I don't get flamed. The bible is a selection of ancient texts choosen from among a group of ancient texts and letters. There was a point in the middle ages when they choose what books would make up the bible. This of course was the catholic bible because this predates the reformation. Since the reformation there have been all kinds of translations / reinterpretations of the book. To say the bible is infallible would be wrong because the humans interpretting it can be wrong.

The most wonderous thing about our planet and our universe is that we don't know, we can only theorise. If we had all the answers, how would we entertain ourselves here in the boodle?

Posted by: dr | August 16, 2005 3:20 PM | Report abuse

We would never flame you, dr! But even if we did, remember this: if you've never been flamed in the boodle, you're not taking enough risks.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Geologists tell great stories, don't they? Even the physicists are big jokers coming up with stuff like charmed quarks. Of course they are snickering. They are big kids having fun.

The amazing thing is that you can now use the GPS navigation satellites to measure precisely, in real time, the tectonic displacements that build mountains and cause earthquakes. The only faith that's required is faith in human progress.

Posted by: George | August 16, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

please PLEASE LP tell me you haven't eaten possum belly!!! and the poor creatures are blind! i'm with you cowtown - some gs'r on a fri afternoon had the task to design the possum before they could leave for a long weekend so they put this thing together and said "there ya go!"

and isn't it interesting how you can tell dr is in canada by his "theorise" instead of "theorize"...

Posted by: mo | August 16, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I live in Missouri across the state line from Kansas where the intelligent design/evolution debate has been raging for years with no sign of letting up. The Kansas Board of Education spends an inordinate amount of time debating whether to include alternative "theories" in the science curriculum in Kansas schools, despite the protest from science teachers in the state. The Kansas City Star receives frequent letters to the editor in support of teaching intelligent design. It's quite a sideshow.

Dreamer - I like your science, too.


Posted by: Susan | August 16, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

note: LP and LB are not the same person.

thank you.

Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, Trekkie -- we knew that.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

achenfan, I am Canadian. Its a citizenship requirment that we not take risks. Its not the boodlers I fear but the rest of them. Occasionally I have weird beleifs. Okay, I am right loopy most of the time.

Also because I am Canadian, is intelligent design the new term for creationism? Or is this another new theory?

Posted by: dr | August 16, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The only intelligent part of Intelligent Design is the name. The FDA should study it to see if it is safe for over-the-counter sales.

I do appreciate a god that would need to have a version of SIMS to imagine what a partially evolved world would be like and then create it. I assume that those empty parts and cold parts were due to cost overruns.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | August 16, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like you've come to the conclusion I came to in my eleventh grade physics class.

Sceintists pretty much spend most of their time trying to prove their (or a rival's) prior discoveries/conclusions wrong.

Remember when the neutrino had no mass? Life was so much simplier back then. Sillier too, if you consider the fact that we were building nuclear reactors under that false assumption.


Posted by: Constantine Flux | August 16, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Here I thought that the whole world subscribed to National Geographic Magazine and was familiar with Joel's monthly column there. I guess I was mistaken. But those of us who do know that Joel is Secretly Smart when it comes to science and nature.

Then again, I suppose the "Intelligent Design" camp doesn't much like that Darwinian propaganda.

Posted by: Pixel | August 16, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I can relate -- in addition to being loopy and fearing the rest of them, I often have the urge to spell -ize words with an s.

As for intelligent design, from what I can gather it's a kind of halfway point or compromise between evolution and fundamentalist creationism, although its opponents claim that it's just creationism in disguise. (And, of course, pure creationists claim that it doesn't go far enough.) I like to think it represents progress in the sense that it's not an extreme, but that's just my interpretation of what "intelligent design" means. It seems to mean lots of different things to lots of different people.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Thank God intelligent design hasn't spread to the North yet.

Posted by: jw | August 16, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Thank God intelligent design hasn't spread to the North yet."

Yep! There aint nutt'n up there that's smart!

Posted by: Hayseed | August 16, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

never gonna live that down, am i?

Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Joel writes for National Geographic. He also does some NPR commentary. That is just too cool. You know what this means, of course. He's simply playing devil's advocate (more bait for creationists) to stir up the Boodle. Like dropping a pebble in a pond. A very deep pond.

Posted by: CowTown | August 16, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Did you just call us deep, cowtown?

Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 4:01 PM | Report abuse

what is Natural Geographic?

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Actually, geology is fairly easy to learn and understand. Not a lot of higher math involved, it just takes a little time to learn the basics. The evidence is abundant and everywhere, you just have to wrap your head around the fact that things happen very slowly. The fastest plates move at about the same rate as your fingernails grow. (You can stare at your hand all day and not see anything.) But plate movement can and has been measured by GPS and laser altimetry. However, we were able to ascertain the basics of earth history without all that high-end technology. Even radiometric age dating simply adds more detail to a fairly recognizable fact that the Earth is very old and, actually, very dynamic.

Posted by: rockdoc | August 16, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Either that or else we've been likened to creatures living in a pond.

Mo and Sara: re your bat obsessions -- I was in line in the checkout at the grocery store last night and one of those really grotty tabloids (the ones that are black-and-white newsprint, no color photos, no celebs) featured on a cover story about giant bats attacking airliners. I thought of you both immediately.

Posted by: grtc | August 16, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

LP - my apologies! i just knew you couldn't be eating possum bellies and yet my eyes deceived me into thinking it was you! not a trekkie loving, joel fearing boodler like yourself!

i have the urge to spell color - colour and theater - theatre...

and i've never understood the whole evolution vs bible thing - i mean, science can prove evolution!

Posted by: mo | August 16, 2005 4:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry for today: please disregard the superfluous preposition in the above post.

Posted by: grtc | August 16, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse


All of this bait on creationism and neither you nor Achenfan have brought up the Platypus? There's a lot of humor in that one, and the "15" are very good at humor. Although the possum is a good one too.

Posted by: RA | August 16, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry this post hast nothing to do with plate tectonics, but it really is what I most need to say right now.

I thought I was going to have work today. A manager set up a morning meeting then changed it to afternoon because of too many meetings in the AM. The back story is that the task was supposed to be complicated and possibly difficult because the person who dreamed it up had difficulty in explaining it. Once my manager was able to extract the relevant info from this other manager we got together and spent two minutes explaining it to me. And guess what? I already had a program to provide exactly the reports wanted. Ah such is the life of the super efficient. Today I feel like nothing. At least there was a new kit and chatological humor.

Posted by: omnigood | August 16, 2005 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Dear Author,
the cultural level of your article is incredibly low. I'm awfully sorry to say this but your article contains not even a gram of meaning. This is what I believe. I'm really surprised to read it on the pages of a well known newspaper, but maybe I don't know Washington Post enough! I'm without words. What is your article? A reflection about the unconditional Faith of Men in Science? About our awkward convinctions? What did you expected to see that day at Point Lobos?
You don't believe in blood circulating in our body? Your mathematic shows that gravity decrease with the cube of the distance? Do you want to squeeze atoms and galaxies in your hands? Why do you tell us such worthless ideas from the pages of a worldwide spread newspaper? Do you want to make us aware that scientists are trying to cheat us? I'm really perplexed....

Posted by: Palomar | August 16, 2005 4:13 PM | Report abuse

thanks, mo.

And actually, I'm a vegetarian, so no possum bellies for me.

Science may be able to prove evolution, but i think most people are too numb to even attempt to understand it - or to even try to grasp that it doesn't necessarily try to disprove the existance of God or a god, or whomever they want to believe in.

Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if the possum was designed by clock-watching GS'ers at 4:45pm on a Friday afternoon while waiting for happy hour, then the platypus was dreamed up by the hangover on Saturday morning

Posted by: grtc | August 16, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

well, I have never indulged in possum belly, but Jethro, Ellie May and Jed used to.

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

As long as nobody's eatin' squirrel...

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | August 16, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

LP: Yep, constant kidding and frivolty aside, this is a very erudite and thoughtful group. Deep as Crater Lake.

Posted by: CowTown | August 16, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

What is with some of these postings? Don't people realize that the article was written with the purpose of humoring its readers? I think some of these people need to take a chill pill, eat some possum belly, and read the "Natural Geographic".

Posted by: 2serious | August 16, 2005 4:17 PM | Report abuse

that tabloid is the weekly world news, they used to have some really interesting stuff about Clinton

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 4:17 PM | Report abuse

grtc, I'm not necessarily obsessed with bats. I just caught one using a garbage bag. It was trapped in one of our conference rooms. Though they can be cute as long as they're not swarming and looking to bite you. But haha! I love tabloids. I especially like it when they do those stories on giant bats attacking planes or 3000 pound cats terrorizing Queens or something of a similarly ridiculous nature. Thanks for thinking of me, though. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one that sees things that remind me of fellow bloggers.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"The fastest plates move at about the same rate as your fingernails grow. (You can stare at your hand all day and not see anything.)"

Not true! I've been doing it for five minutes now, and I still see my hand, and my key board, and the rest of my office. And when I close my eyes I can see the negative of my hand (the explanation of which could make for some good blog talk). When I open and close my fingers, it gets all wrinkly. Mountains?! Intelligent design?!

Posted by: Bigloaf | August 16, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I have a friend from Arkansas that tells me his granny used to eat fried squirrel brains and eggs, and my dog likes to eat em (the whole squirrel, not just the brains).

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Some of us (most actually I think) are "Challenger deep", some others are sometimes just puddle deep.

Posted by: flamer | August 16, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Palomar, he wasn't being serious...

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 4:21 PM | Report abuse

About Clinton? Did Clinton attack airliners, too? Or was it photos of him and Hillary eating possum bellies? No wonder the Bushes got a new White House chef...

Posted by: grtc | August 16, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

achenfan, surely you have noticed by now my sometimes odd spellings of words like neighbour and colour. Spelling is also a citizenship requirment and I stand forever near losing mine.

If the world were planned with a godly version of Sims, perhaps its the empty part he was meaning to create, and the rest of us are the error.

Posted by: dr | August 16, 2005 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I bought the Sims for x-box a few weeks ago thinking, "Everyone likes it, so it can't be all that bad." But that is one really slow game.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

it was mostly about him having affairs with aliens and stuff

Posted by: LB | August 16, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse


If you are still in CA, you should try to make your way down to San Diego. They have a great bar down there called the Lahaina Beach House. Enjoy a beer and watch the sun set. You will not only witness the strange Southern California denizens but also catch a potential "Green Flash" Has anyone ever seen one of those? They are incredible.

Posted by: Cali | August 16, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of spelling: I very often find myself fixing my spellings because I seem to have the habit of using British forms. Strange huh? But even weirder is after watching a good British comedy I find my thoughts in my head have a British accent hours after even though I can't fake a British accent to save my life.

Posted by: omnigood | August 16, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse

You're right about the platypus. But I don't think it's got anything on the star-nosed mole, which I once saw described in a magazine (think it was National Geographic) as having "the face that nature forgot to finish."

As for possums, I must point out that the possums in Oz are much prettier than American possums -- they have big brown eyes instead of little beady black ones.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse

And for the record I was educated in the suburbs of Indianapolis and Philadelphia if any one wonders about a possible explanation for my spelling stranges. You see there isn't one.

I've been to San Diego twice. Four days and twoo weeks and was most disappointed as I spent every evening at the beach while the sun set and never saw the Great Green Flash.

Posted by: omnigood | August 16, 2005 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I read that article too achenfan - weird! (the animal, I mean)

Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

You think Joel was just being funny? Hah! He's playing us like marinettes. He drops the pebbles, we chase the ripples. We're mere pawns in his tawdry blogespheric game. He's at the Ventana Inn, taking on some sun, drinking $11 mohitos, and chuckling at us right now.

But I can't help myself. Must chase the ripple.

Posted by: CowTown | August 16, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

SCCs: stranges--->strangeness

Posted by: omnigood | August 16, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Religion is in its last throes! Christianity rests on the rock of creationism. Admitting that it is false would hasten the fall down a very slippery slope.

Posted by: RA | August 16, 2005 4:37 PM | Report abuse

That's so true, CowTown. And the thing is, there are so many ripples. You chase one, and then you realize there was another one you let slip right by. The A-man is indeed brilliant. He could find a way to stir up the boodle by posting a recipe for apple pie.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LP | August 16, 2005 4:43 PM | Report abuse


Leave it to the 'boodlers. I forgot about the star nosed mole. Saw it on Discovery. Your absolutely correct. Strange indeed. It leaves me wondering about all the strangeness we haven't seen that's in the sea...

Well, 4:35 and I must be packing up from work. I shall look forward to laughing with you all tomorrow. I'm still laughing about things from yesterdays postings. Truly erudite indeed.

Oh, and Mo, Theatre is the only spelling that people in the business use.

Posted by: RA | August 16, 2005 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Jesus was a creationist? (Or do people just SAY he was one?)

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Sara, I didn't mean to hurt the Author. Anyway I haven't caught the humor, if there's any... The unconditional faith in Science is a big problems in our times. The article completely misses the point. I've felt concerned in the matter (maybe also because I'm a geologist...;))

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

There is a very long article in the current issue of The New Republic on Intelligent Design written by Jerry Coyne, who teaches at the University of Chicago. He is not a fan of it. Or ID.

Posted by: pj | August 16, 2005 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I had a friend once who said he believed in the bible as literal truth. He always struck as a pretty smart guy and when he said this jaw just dropped. My house proceeded to rip him to pieces as a moron but wasn't able to get any traction, while I got the bible out and opened it to Isaiah 30:26, which reads: "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Using Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute temperature of the earth (-300K), gives H (heaven) as 798K (525C). Then turning to Revelations 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. I think I learned all this from one of Asimov's non-fiction work. He called me a rather nasty name and went home. Wouldn't talk to me for days after that and neither of us ever brought up the subject again.

Posted by: omnigood | August 16, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse


Chinese believe bats sign of good fortune. Bats appear in fine Chinese designs, for example vases.

Posted by: Gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"Unintelligent Design"... there's quite a difference. I've looked for it. Thank you for the information.

Posted by: Palomar | August 16, 2005 5:06 PM | Report abuse

A sign of good fortune until the dog's tail knocks over and breaks the priceless antique Chinese vase...

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | August 16, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Sara, the sims is no good on the game platforms (I gave up on the Urbz in disgust after about 10 minutes). But do try it on the computer. It is a much more engrossing game that way. (And then you find yourself talking about it way too much: "So Bob got abducted by aliens and had little green babies, and then Sheila got taken away by death on the cell phone with hula girls, ...")

Posted by: AbaZoe | August 16, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-- Benjamin Franklin

I'm afraid I have to disagree. This is merely proof that He likes us. For if He truly loved us beer would poor freely from the kitchen faucet.

Now I must dodge lightning bolts on my way home. See yall tomorrow.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 16, 2005 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Resolved then, the Believers among us don't buy this ID stuff any more than the agnostics and panthyists (I know I spelled that wrong)? Perhaps it's ID that's the product of "intellectual laziness" that a previous poster (thank you) mentioned.

Just dropping a late afternoon pebble...

Posted by: CowTown | August 16, 2005 5:14 PM | Report abuse


The Urbz is what I have, I think. I bought it used, so at least I'm not out much.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I love chasing ripples. In fact, my friends frequently throw rocks just to watch me go. They enjoy watching and I enjoy the exercise. All that to say, I don't take myself too seriously, so don't get two wound up over my comments (though feel free to have fun with them).

I find it interesting that so many people think that scientific and religious belief cannot co-exist. I both believe in evolution and a God who caused it to happen. I do take issue with social Darwinism, but that's another conversation for another day. My point is that there are things in life that can be explained through scientific study and things that cannot. Where science ends is where faith begins. That doesn't mean science isn't significant or "true," but rather that it has limitations. I will be the first to admit that so do our perceptions of God and religion. But our own cognitive limitations don't necessitate the non-existence of a greater power, merely that our understanding of him/her/it is incomplete.

I'd like to take issue with RA's comment, "Religion is in its last throes! Christianity rests on the rock of creationism. Admitting that it is false would hasten the fall down a very slippery slope." I can tell when JA is joking, but sometimes with 'boodlers I have trouble distinguishing between a tongue and cheek comment and a serious one. So, if this comment is meant to be the former, I suppose the joke is on me. I don't think Christianity rests on the rock of creationism. Yes, Christianity rests on the rock of the existence of a God and his/her/its movement through history. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that admitting that strict creationism isn't the way to go is an admission that God doesn't exist. Quite the contrary, it is the acknowledgement that God exists and is more dynamic then our "in the box" interpretation of him (too exhausting to type him/her/it every time - know that that's my intention) is a stronger statement than adhering to a strict interpretation. I think it is significant that almost every culture has a story or narrative to make sense of how we've ended up on this earth. It would almost seem instinctual to connect to a greater power in making sense of creation.

Anyway, I could write a novel on faith and science. Lets just suffice to say I don't think they're contrary to one another, and in fact I think they can complement each other quite well if approached with and open and inquiring mind. The end.

By the way - I'm pretty sure this topic came up in another post, and I was too lazy (or short on time) to read all the comments. If I'm simply rehashing an old conversation, forgive me. By the way, I get it that JA was being tongue in cheek, and I found his post quite funny.

Posted by: ME | August 16, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Please do not be concerned. What Joel has written is an off-the-cuff blog item, not really an article as such. From what I understand, he will be writing a more serious article later -- that's why he's in California researching geological phenomena. He LIKES geology. It's not really correct to say that he has missed the point. With blog items, there doesn't always have to be a point. And if there is a point, it is for Joel -- as the author -- to decide what that point is. As readers, it is up to us to either get the point or go and read something that is more to our taste. The world is full of things to read, and our time for reading is limited. We must find authors whom we enjoy. Those of us who read the Achenblog on a regular basis enjoy Joel. He is a funny man.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

SCC -- While it's not necessarily grammatically incorrect, it is poor taste to use "by the way" in two consecutive sentences (last paragraph). Ugh.

Posted by: ME | August 16, 2005 5:27 PM | Report abuse

After 3 1/2 hours on the phone with Microsoft yesterday, and another two hours today, I do for a fact know that evil exists in this world.

That aside, however, I find it interesting that on the one hand, religion appears to find comfort in absolutes, and on the other hand, science finds comfort in just the opposite (which is a great coping mechanism). Myself, I am absolutely on the side of the scientists, having abandoned religion (if, indeed, I was ever either interested in or a part of it) as a very young tyke. And no regrets, either.

A fundamentalist approach to life appears to block out a whole lot of good stuff. Too bad, that.

Okay. I'm done for now. Back to growling at my ^*&))%^*(&%^&% computer.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 16, 2005 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you on this, science tells me to beleive in alot of things I cannot see and they totally are against what the bible tells me, so its all got to be fake, I can see the bible, I cannot see animals changing and coming up with new abilities.

Posted by: Allen Stoner | August 16, 2005 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Ok Achenfan,
I understand what you say. Maybe he was just making fun of the matter. But I'm from another country and cannot perceive some nuances in the language. For this reason his ideas seemed so absurd to me.....

Posted by: Palomar | August 16, 2005 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Having spent 20 years of my life in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and yet questioning the sanctity that is the Bible, I'm used to being regarded as nothing more than a hedonistic pagan heathen person.
For the most part I am that person, but I still believe that someone(thing?) sparked the Big Bang. Something allows for the conditions for organisms to evolve. Its not all random chance.
To me this is where science and religion meet. Once upon a time (pre-Christian) science, religion and philosophy were all one and the same. I'm not exactly sure when, but it is a time close to the rise of Christianity beyond a cult, the three split into different areas of study. I think that Dreamer would agree with me that the truth lies in the realigning of science to religion to philosophy.
On that heavy note, I will also add that I'm still shaking my head over the fundies in my backyard who tried to force my local Zoo to have a creationism exhibit.

Posted by: TulsaFan | August 16, 2005 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for responding, Palomar. You're right -- nuances in language are important. Joel's ideas do indeed seem absurd (sometimes even to people who are from THIS country) -- but they are absurd in a good, well-intentioned way. :)

Posted by: Achenfan | August 16, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Don't have time to read all the comments, but I must say that is you did a good job of questioning religon. Watch out you may have to go court and argue that intelligent designs is only for right handers.

Posted by: notyou | August 16, 2005 6:25 PM | Report abuse

To Allen Stoner -- huh? Animals are in a constant pattern of adaptation. Learning and changing are essential elements for survival. For human animals, too, by the way.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 16, 2005 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I like the ripple thing too. People who have attention deficit disorder use the ripple effect to describe how they think. (yes I know this is a whole new direction but its a ripple thing)

I always think of the debate between science and relgion is best defined by the answers to the questions How long was God's day, and were you there to time it? Maybe to him/her we are on day 1.

You know, going back to Joel post yesterday (does the ripple effect ever cross its origin?), there is a part of me that would like to stand one foot on each side of the fault line, and feel myself turn as an event happened. This would be the loopy part of me of course.

Posted by: dr | August 16, 2005 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I saw a t-shirt recently: "Stop Plate Teutonics."

I told the wearer I liked it. He said, "Legislation is the answer."

Scientists can be very droll.

Read "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. Plate teutonics are another one of those realities that even the Republicans don't have enough power to stop.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2005 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Palomar, absurdity is part of why the blog is so much fun. And Joel, thanks for picking up on sea lions vs. seals.

Posted by: Former Cal Girl | August 16, 2005 6:33 PM | Report abuse

TulsaFan, this is for you:

"That I am at one with the great being that brought me here and formed the galaxies and the Universe, etc. -- how did that get taken out of religion? It was not HARD."

"If I do this, I'm going to get punished by God. If I do the other thing, I'm going to get rewarded. This is a really poor description that tries to carve out a path in life for us to follow. But with deplorable results. Because there is really no such thing as good or bad. We're judging things far too superficially that way. Does that mean you're in favor of sin and licentiousness an depravity? No. It simply means that you need to improve your expression and understanding of what you're dealing with here."

-- Miceal Ledwith, Ph.D., in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

[this guy -- I think he's an ex-priest -- has a wonderful Irish accent, so imagine how great it sounds when he says "deplorable results" and "sin and licentiousness and depravity"]

Posted by: Dreamer | August 16, 2005 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Your chronology is a little off. Christianity emerged by the 2nd century and was pretty pervasive across the Roman world by the 5th century. Science, religion, and philosophy were considered one field of study, if that's what you want to call it, until perhaps the 15th century. And one could make a claim that they were the same thing until the 19th century German rationalists divided universities into "departments." "Religion" didn't appear as a field of study, per se, until the 20th century.

To everyone:
I have no strong opinion about creation, evolution, or intelligent design. In fact, it makes no difference to me. But intelligent design emerged as a critique of Darwinian evolution in the 1990s. It is NOT the same thing as creationism. In fact, its critiques are very specific--that certain biological developments could not have taken place through natural selection.

It's completely within the realm of science to critique intelligent design's arguments. But it's unscientific and anti-intellectual to just call people names without grappling with their ideas.


Posted by: Jay | August 16, 2005 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel- I've said it before and I'll say it again. Iceland, dude, Iceland. You want to see tectonics? Iceland.

Possum is kinda greasy but squirrel is OK if you can get enough of them to make a meal.

Saying Intelligent Design is less extreme than Creationism is like saying Hannibal Lecter is less extreme than Adolf Eichmann.

Sara, you be careful around those bats. They are frequently carriers of rabies. Wait till they're on the floor to catch them. They have to climb up and drop to fly and are pretty helpless on a horizontal surface. Use a pooper scooper or wear really heavy gloves. You need to make the "Daily Humor and Observations" line above the blog really really big because a lot of folks seem to have missed it.

And now whatI really wanted to know. I have a friend who recently had a double mastectomy (she's fine thanks for asking) and is getting implants and reconstructive surgery. She told me that when she goes to the boob doc (her term)she's the only grownup there. All the other patients are high school girls getting breast augmentation as a graduation present from their parents. Now, I am an adult. I am a parent. I have a 21 year old daughter. This just creeps me right out. Am I alone in this?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 16, 2005 8:11 PM | Report abuse


Not only that, but botox is very popular among the under-20 set, I understand...Neurotic (not to say, insane) mothers take a lot of the blame in my book. The same mothers that have been driving their daughters to anorexia and other forms of craziness. But doctors (!)--what are they thinking? Cosmetic surgery for purely idiosyncratic motives, not to correct a deformity, just to "improve" on nature, that's not medicine and it seems completely unethical to me.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 16, 2005 8:22 PM | Report abuse

you want ethics? look at your president Busch. He believe he 's ethical. Yet this country try force "democracy" on others that dont necessary want it. He is religious man playing with someone elses religion. I do not believe what Soviet used to say about America in most respects. But this respect is kind of colonialism and religious discrimination. Do not care which came firstk, Christianity or Muslim. Keep them separate in order to save lives. Is this not 'intelligent design."?????

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 16, 2005 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Of course, Joel is going to Japan (soon?) where it is rocking and rolling all the time.

kurosawaguy, you are quite right to be creeped out. I suppose the doctors are making a buck, but I don't understand the trend toward surgery to "improve" yourself. I'm sure your daughter has more sense.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 16, 2005 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Snarky Squirrel, please accept my apologies for anything derogatory I may have said or implied about you and your kind. I did not know you were an actual poster (perhaps even one of the SAO-15?).

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 16, 2005 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Who under 20 needs botox? You still have bouncy skin at that age. Who at any age needs botox? That's just crazy. The breast augmentation for graduation is also crazy.

And kurosawaguy, we didn't touch the bat. We caught it in a garbage can. We were trying to scoop him from the air or have him fly stupidly into a can. We finally got him scoooped. And whenever it came too close to anyone we ducked or leapt out of the way. So we were pretty terrified of the bat and even said, "It's probably rabid..." but someone had to get it out of the building and most people we're running away girly-screaming, even some men.

Thanks for the warning, though.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 10:50 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking, I might be wrong, but I think Snarky Squirrel is grtc. I think grtc is the one who first used the words snarky and squirrel together, and it was latched onto. So Snarky Squirrel started posting.

Posted by: Sara | August 16, 2005 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Sara, thanks for the clarification. I do have trouble keeping everyone straight.

My sister in PA had a bat in her house recently (not for the first time). Her neighbor helped chase it out, but a window was broken in the process. I think a broom was involved. Your method seems much better.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 16, 2005 11:15 PM | Report abuse

It occurred to me last night that if Joel gave up trying to get the earth to move after just a half hour of Observation, he should have considered the idea that Observers affect the experiment.

He could have brought a bottle of wine and some candles.

And don't be in such a hurry. Sheesh.


Posted by: bc | August 17, 2005 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you on the breast augmentation thing -- creepy indeed. I think the world would be a better place if people spent as much time on their minds and their souls as they spend obsessing over their physical appearance and consumer goods. If only parents had something better to teach their children. (And by "parents" I of course don't mean you, k'guy -- sounds like you've done a fine job.)

It occurred to me last night that Joel may have caused the earthquake in Japan through his desire to witness tectonic upheaval in California. He kind of of got what he wanted; it just happened at a different point in the space-time loaf -- a week or so before he is actually going to be in Japan.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 17, 2005 9:13 AM | Report abuse

That all the books of Moses
Were nothing but supposes;
That he deserv'd rebuke, Sir,
Who wrote the Pentateuch, Sir,
'Twas nothing but a sham.
--Popular London coffee shop ballad:

Who nature's Treasures would explore,
Her mysteries and Arcana know
Must high as lofty Newton soar,
Must stoop as delving Woodward low.
--Richard Bentley, master of Trinity College, Cambridge

Some drill and bore
The solid earth and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn
That he who made, and reveal'd its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age.
--William Cowper, "The Task" (1785)

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 17, 2005 9:24 AM | Report abuse

It sounds as if you think they should be teaching "Divine Intervention" in biology classes. Only kidding !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Miami Connection | August 17, 2005 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I knew a co-worker once who received implants as a Christmas gift from her boyfriend. What a thoughtful, caring gift. It was especially sweet that she brought her new toys to the holiday party (or as she called it - their "coming out" party) in a dress with a plunging neckline. She was super skinny so I was just waiting for her to fall over from their weight.

I have a bat(s) at my house. While I'm fascinated by them and look for them while I'm out with my dog, they still freak me out a little. My fear is that they'll smack into me!

Posted by: AJ | August 17, 2005 9:31 AM | Report abuse

couldn't have said it better myself, bc.

Posted by: LP | August 17, 2005 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I can take one bat at work on a very rare occassion, but if I had to worry about them around my house I'd be a little weirded out. Some probably live in my attic, though. No one goes up there anymore.

Posted by: Sara | August 17, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

thankx all for ignoring your president Busch and talking about squirrels while the children die

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Strange scepticism...we have to accept that a great part of what we learn (in all areas of science and human knowledgment) cannot be based in direct, concrete and personal`s almost impossible. That´s why we have to, somehow, be resignated to faith. If we didn´t believed in science and in the achievements of few ones, we wouldn´t probably be here discussing this topic. Anyway, resignation doesn´t mean full trust in everything .Doubts are absolutely important in mankind evolution.
Apart this very basic thaughts and in a strictly personal level i want to thank and salute some persons who make this blog a particulary special place - kbertocci, achenfan, sara- you make my self-esteem grow and my eyes shine. I just came from fantastic summer holidays and i promise that i will try to come around more often (and put some of my professional problems behind- sick and tired of my clients and all their legal problems, sick and tired of criminal laws, sick and tired of colleagues we cannot trust). A great day for the three of you and best wishes for all.

Posted by: paulo assis | August 17, 2005 10:26 AM | Report abuse

That gorbydoll, trying to stir up the 'boodle again . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Paulo, thank you so much for your kind words. We love having you around here, too. That was a great post.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

dr: I actually have ADD! So I guess everything makes sense now...

Posted by: ME | August 17, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I think gorbydoll is bananabanabodana...the strange need to talk about Bush...getting mad at us when we don't because the topic has already been exhausted and we don't want to talk about it all fits.

Posted by: Sara | August 17, 2005 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I think bananabanabodana is gorbydoll's evil twin (or triplet, or quadruplet -- I haven't quite decided). And I think gorbydoll is rather clever.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Re: Teenage augmentation.

Personally, I draw the line at braces.

If teenage girls *really* knew teenage boys (or, sadly, males of any age), they'd know that there is really no need for such measures.

5 minutes of friendly undivided attention from a smiling lady is enough to make guys' neurons misfire. We're very simple contratptions in such matters. And a teenage boy, brimming with surges of testosterone, and lacking self confidence and/or maturity... he's a goner.

Could teenage augmentation of young women be more about impressing other girls than boys/men?

Re. bats. Reminds me of an old fella I knew who had a bat fly into his house. He freaked out, pulled his shotgun down off the mantle, and blasted a few holes in his living room walls before the bat flew back out the window it came in through.

I used to go outside with my kids at dusk and watch a pair of bats swoop around and eat bugs. We named them "Ren" and "Stimpy", and they were pretty amusing. My kids and I think of bats as mice with wings, not very scary.


Posted by: bc | August 17, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

SCC entry:
Split en-dash. I hate it when that happens; it looks so sloppy.

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | August 17, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I think most of what girls do is to impress other girls, whether they realize that or not.

Posted by: LP | August 17, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I think you hit it on the nose, bc. Teenage breast augmentation is most likely more to impress other girls and incite jealousy than it is to get guys. I figure that guys just like that they're there.

Posted by: Sara | August 17, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

gorbydoll - i don't agree with Bush (i love the way he spells it busch - like the beer - bad beer that!) going into another country but we are there and we can't just leave... i support our military to the fact that they are doing their jobs and believe that it is protecting the american way of life - that being said, i don't want to stir up the boodle, just want to acknowledge what you said and why the boodle is prolly staying away from it! this is a HUMOUR blog/boodle after all!

boob jobs for graduation presents are totally creepy - i'm with you guys on that - i've always had a problem with ppl that are so obsessed with looks... i agree with kbertocci that it's the parents making the children obsess...

i've always wanted a bat as a pet but of course i understand how impractical that is (sara - i love how you said they were running away girly-screaming! made me giggle) i've also wanted an owl as a pet (too much harry potter maybe) but as i have a snake as a pet i believe an owl would not be the wisest descision. can you tell i love animals?

Posted by: mo | August 17, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

okay. i talk about what you think important. so let us talk about breat implants on squirrels in midst of earthquake in Kalifornia. to make interesting, consider one of Busch girls at line of fault standing on one leg while sing Puff Magic Dragon. this should combine all of our interests. am I valid, or not?

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SCC entry squared:
It wasn't even an en-dash; it was an em-dash. I am a doofus.

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | August 17, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh, gorbydoll is GOOD; gorbydoll has been paying attention.

mo: I just LOVE owls! Oo-hoo!

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

for Sara. topics of Busch & Iraq 'exhausted'? when blog discuss eithe?

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Quite awhile ago, gorbydoll. Before you started commenting.

mo, I want an owl, too. But I'd want one that can talk, like Archimedes (I may have just butchered that...) on the Sword and the Stone. Or Owl on Winnie-the-Pooh, though I'd prefer him to be less pompous because Owl on Winnie-the-Pooh really is a know-it-all. So basically, I think I'll be sticking with dogs.

Posted by: Sara | August 17, 2005 11:15 AM | Report abuse

gorbydoll, stick around though and we're bound to circle back around to politics.

Posted by: Sara | August 17, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Just say the magic word, pompous, and I appear to perform whatever pompous act that would tickle you.

Posted by: Pompousass | August 17, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

puff the magic dragon
lived by the SEA

and frolicked in the Autumn Mist
in a land called hannah-LEE!

Posted by: jenna b | August 17, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

See the June 13 Kit "Solving Our Iraq Problem" in the Achenblog Archive.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 17, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

jenna b: you are a real 'trooper'--and probably no need for implant or stand on one leg during quake. thankx you very much.

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 11:21 AM | Report abuse

whoopsiedaisy, just been handed "blog warning' message from sup. at Center.

will blog off for awhile and come back w other handle in near fut. this not to confuse you but to confuse the sup. who does snooping for living and who has me no respect.

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

No respect for gorbydoll? Say it isn't so!

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

is this why call self jac---s? u said, not me.

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Is what why, gorbydoll? I thought I was being nice to you. Must be my weird sense of humor. Sorry if I offended you -- that certainly wasn't my intention.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

bananabanabodana is not gdoll. again, I try not to come here because of sharp-tongued hussies always breaking my chops.

Posted by: bananabanabodana | August 17, 2005 11:48 AM | Report abuse

yeah! sharp-tongued hussies....

Posted by: jenna b | August 17, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

yup, you and your sister--but not for anything said on this blog. i admire you two greatly for your, ahem, savoir faire and better humor than your pappa.

Posted by: bananabanabodana | August 17, 2005 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I was once called a hussy by pompousass.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, Ms. Fan, the notion may ccur to more than one persona. Kapisch?

Posted by: bananabanabodana | August 17, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I wonder where melvin/a is? I miss melvin/a.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 12:11 PM | Report abuse

gorbydoll, I'll talk with you about president Busch and our dying children. I respect Cindy Sheehan for camping out at his ranch, demanding that he speak with her. She is not a nut case; she's a grieving mother, mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. An exercise in futility though because Busch refuses to discuss anything with anyone who doesn't totally agree with him. there is nothing more devastating than losing a child, especially when your child was put in harms way based on elf-serving lies and deception. I DO support our troops; I do not support the war. And it isn't just OUR dying children, but the Iraqi's dying children too. John Fitzgerald Kennedy said "We all breath the same air. We all cherish our children's future. We are all mortal." And then they killed him.

Posted by: Nani | August 17, 2005 12:14 PM | Report abuse


In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie that we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is that the Russians love their children too

-- Sting, "Russians," from the album "Dream of the Blue Turtles," 1985

Posted by: Dreamer | August 17, 2005 12:25 PM | Report abuse

damn those elf-serving lies!

Posted by: LP | August 17, 2005 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Initially I thought that was a typo too, LP. But then I remembered the way Tom Toles draws Bush, and I thought, yeah, that could be right.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 17, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LP | August 17, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, you have captured my p-heart, even if that great song is about thermonuclear war.

And, yes, the casualties on all sides are our children.

Now, I must speak out of both sides of my mouth as I brief the press.

Posted by: melvin/a | August 17, 2005 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Whew, the things I learn on Achenblog:

The star-nosed mole is indeed a fabulous poster-child for the Unintelligent Design movement:

Some people have no sense of humor (though I already knew that, living here in DC)

firsttimeblogger: Evil can be banished with three letters: M-A-C

I can't help seeing and hearing Leonid Brezhnev when reading Gorbydoll's posts. (Get the unibrow waxed, as necessary)

Parents who would allow their teenage daughters to get breast augmentations have rocks in their head. (Breast reduction surgery is entirely different, however.)

Posted by: Pixel | August 17, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Why thank you, melvin/a. I'm touched.

Yeah, I know the song doesn't totally fit the current situation. If it did, we probably wouldn't BE in this situation -- we would have learned from experience, if not from the song. All these conflicts are slightly different, and yet they are the same.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 17, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I really can't go back and read all the comments, mostly because Gorbydoll's Riddley Walker-esque writing makes my head hurt. But I can't beleive I missed a whole convo about boobies!

Dial-up is sucking my will to live. Goodbye, cruel world.

Posted by: jw | August 17, 2005 12:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: believe.

And because of the dial-up, it was staring at me longer than usual.

Posted by: jw | August 17, 2005 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon watching Buffy re-runs on FX. Suckers!

Posted by: jw | August 17, 2005 12:52 PM | Report abuse

uh, Pixel: u should think of Mr. Gorbachev, the man who threw out LB when u hear my name. G was a teenage hero of mine where I was living then.

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I love the boodle. Really, I do. You guys make the most hectic day at work (I'm on lunch break now, at my desk, still working but also reading) seem funnier.

Posted by: AbaZoe | August 17, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

damn you, jw! DAMN YOU!

dial-up? what is this you speak of?

Posted by: LP | August 17, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Gorby, I know it makes a lot more sense to picture, uh, Gorby, but it's either Brezshnev or Boris from Rocky & Bullwinkle that comes to mind. Sorry... I'm just a product of the Cold War.

Posted by: Pixel | August 17, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

am product of CW too but perhaps not from here side. we all win in end

Posted by: gorbydoll | August 17, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

That woman(Mrs. cindy Sheehan) deserves all the support. However, all the hype and fuzz around her may not be positive for the anti-war in Europe everybody underestimated Mr. Bush for too much time.That has changed when he had been reelected, even thought all the "inteligentzia" in the French, German and British media reacted whit surprise, disbelief and criticism to his thaugts about "inteligent design"(wich, i confess, a great majority of persons never heard or knew about). That is precisely the kind of thing that turns Mr.Bush into a controversial character.

Posted by: paulo assis | August 17, 2005 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Sadly I too know am familiar with dial up. Its what we have at home, where there is no service BUT dial up. If you ever want to try something fun, try downloading adobe acrobat reader via dialup or any antivirus program and virus updates. I am becoming seriously annoyed with a companies who design software and who think that there is no longer any such thing as dial-up. I am also seriously annoyed at telecommunications companies who call me offering me highspeed service and then say "wait we don't serve your area".

Posted by: dr | August 17, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

trust jw to prove bc's point about men and boobies - all you have to do is mention them and men turn into jello! LOL

Posted by: mo | August 17, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

and melvin/a - what's a p-heart??

Posted by: mo | August 17, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

SCC and I have no idea what to call it. I too Know/am familiar.... one or the other, dr.

Posted by: dr | August 17, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

mo--that is a very old concept. in my recent experience, women are more interested in that than men. women about women. which is fine. today's man looks beyond the obvious. I know from experience.

since this subject is too close to the forbidden topic of s_x, better hush up, shouldn't we? last week, the slightest hint of things sexual got complaints of "impolite" and "coarse."

love in all its forms makes the world go round. Even Bush would admit that.

Posted by: bananabanabodana | August 17, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes and make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song?
How long? how long...
'cause tonight...we can be as one
Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall
Sunday, bloody sunday
Sunday, bloody sunday
Sunday, bloody sunday (sunday bloody sunday...)
(allright lets go!)
And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Wipe your tears away
I wipe your tears away
(sunday, bloody sunday)
I wipe your blood shot eyes
(sunday, bloody sunday)

And it's true we are immune
When fact is fiction and tv reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

The real battle yet begun (sunday, bloody sunday)
To claim the victory jesus won (sunday, bloody sunday)

Sunday Bloody Sunday U2

Posted by: mo | August 17, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I wondered that too, mo. Then I thought I'd better not ask -- maybe it's rude! I was still flattered, though.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 17, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: melvin/a | August 17, 2005 1:24 PM | Report abuse

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... politics have a heart?

Posted by: mo | August 17, 2005 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"have a heart."

"I think I will."

from "I Hold Your Hand in Mine,"
Tom Lehrer, c. 1963

Posted by: pompousass | August 17, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Bush was REELECTED? Ohhhh, we thot he stoled it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 17, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The new Kit appears to be totally un-controversial. The 'boodlers are speechless.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 17, 2005 1:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: #200 | August 22, 2005 8:37 AM | Report abuse

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