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Critiquing Today's Paper

   This morning I have to write an in-house critique of today's Washington Post. It's a daily ritual in the newsroom, started just a few months ago, and it's great fun, because we get to lavish praise on one another and then kvetch about the certain doom of our industry. Some of the critiquers have come up with brilliant ideas for stemming circulation decline, such as cutting the newspaper to one-tenth its current size, putting the comics on the front page, making staffers drive to the homes of subcribers and read the paper to them over breakfast, etc. In any case, here's an appeal: In the Boodle, opine about what's in The Post today (print version or online version), or, if you wish, opine about what's in some other newspaper of note. What are people buzzing about, and have we covered it adequately? I'll check back around 10:30 or so and will try to incorporate some of the comments in the critique. Thanks!

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 23, 2005; 7:28 AM ET
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The most glaring omission is no "Today's Staff Critiquer" photo on the front page...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, they want to lure people in, not repel them. Though you're onto something: Why no Angie Jolie on the front page? Isn't she speaking to some government panel SOMEWHERE?

Posted by: Achenbach | November 23, 2005 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Seriously (for once);

Just a front-page layout criticism -- The Padilla indictment and the conviction of the "assassination plotter" stuck in the left-hand gutter? And Padilla below the fold, given the larger implications of the case?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Fearless Leader:

"Pretty people" bait on the front page? I thought you worked for WaPo, not NewsMcNuggets Today...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I'm in a festive holiday mood, so I'll be nice.

The Post does provide a lot of value for amazingly little money. (I buy 3-4 a week and use the on-line version every day, so my investment is circa $1.25/week).

A couple suggestions (emailed previously and respectfully but never answered by staff): you have to check out the search engine--it consistently produces bizarre or incomplete results. For example, I tried to find this month's "Sky Watch" column, nothing.

Also, please tell the sports guys to update the "on the Air" column on weekends. This is the one time we sportsfans have to watch what's "on the air" and it really ought to be updated.

As for editorial policy: fire Woodward, cancel Novak. I can't deal with journalists that give me spin and deception--I have elected officials for that.

Overall, a fine paper and I'm sure very fine people. Happy Thanksgiving.

New on EWM: "Schmidt calls Bush Coward after President Pardons Turkey"

Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | November 23, 2005 7:57 AM | Report abuse

*overly snarky pre-holiday comment"

Shouldn't the EWM headline have been "Schmidt: Friend Called Bush Coward after President Pardons Turkey"???

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Daily gripe about online version: It looks like the Discussion links are updated to reflect the next day's chats before the Wa Po Online staff goes home at night. But many of us like to sit down in the evening and see what chats happened that day. These links are much harder to find; the "In Case You Missed It" page on the "Transcripts" link doesn't even show all the Discussions, just a sampling.

The WaPo's Live Discussions are a huge part of what sets the site apart from other online papers. It would make more sense to leave the day's Discussions easy to get to during the evening and update the links the next morning.

Does this make any sense? Thanks for the chance to gripe.

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 8:11 AM | Report abuse

This paper stinks! It should go out of business and re-open in someplace that it would be appreciated....Say, North Korea. The writers, editors, and management of this paper have but one goal....The end of a free America.

And, don't come to my house to read me the paper. I couldn't handle the B.O!

Posted by: The Lonemule | November 23, 2005 8:23 AM | Report abuse


Again, I'm pretty sure we're discussion WaPo, not the Washington Times...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 8:25 AM | Report abuse

SCC: discussing, not discussion...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 8:25 AM | Report abuse

The business section -- help it!!! The online coverage is great, the reporters are good and have interesting angles but the print edition runs like 2 stories -- its really kind of embarrassing...

Posted by: pkc | November 23, 2005 8:35 AM | Report abuse

This is the top headline in the online Washington Post, and the only thing I object to on the front page. "Three Brigades May Be Cut in Iraq Early in 2006" That is not news and it's not an appropriate headline. Tell me a supportable fact in the headline, not that something "may" happen. California "may" experience an earthquake early in 2006, but that's not news. That's my early-morning nit-picking, just for you, Joel.

I looked over the whole online "front page"--I really like the convenience online that the headlines from all the sections are right there to scan. The headline that induced me to click to the article was "Clooney: 'Syriana' Was Torture." It's my habit with the real paper version of any newspaper to read the comics first and the celebrity gossip second, and then the news. And that headline combines several interests of mine: George Clooney, the Middle East, movies, torture. So I clicked on it and read the whole article. Then I was more or less out of time (multitasking here). I'll check the New York Times later for the international news. I already read the Miami Herald before I came to work.

Posted by: Reader | November 23, 2005 8:39 AM | Report abuse

General bitching:

The sport section is one reason I keep up my Sun subscription. It is nearly impossible to find an ACC schedule recap in the Sunday sports despite the fact that 25% of the conference is of local interest. Virginia Tech is in Blacksburg, but a lot of alumni and fans are in the DC area. I myself am a GT (Georgia Tech, not Georgetown) alumnus and can't move further north and still get ACC basketball on a local television station. Well, now I can go to Boston if I so desired.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 23, 2005 8:41 AM | Report abuse

i'd like to see more advertisements and comics. get rid of all those depressing "news" stories - we've seen that stuff at least 10 times already somewhere else on the internet.

oh, and more feature stories about Condi Rice's clothing. Yeah, really love that stuff.

Posted by: bdcpa | November 23, 2005 9:06 AM | Report abuse

*thinkin' bdcpa is REALLY gonna like tomorrow's paper*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Could someone please explain the point of running a horoscope column? Does the International Herald Tribune still run the feature with events from 25, 50, and 100 years previous? If you are just looking for filler the latter would be as good as any.

Posted by: Historian | November 23, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I've honestly thought about cancelling my WaPo subscription, because 99% of what I read is online now. Especially this blog, of course.

But then, damn it all, my 10-year old started to read the Sports page. He even trots out to the curb early in the morning to pick up the paper. How can we teach him that reading is an important skill, then cancel the one thing he enjoys reading? Easy -- we'll just upgrade cable. Used to be that getting 4 channels was a big deal, now HBO offers more than that!

Clearly, the direction papers need to go is: more is more. Reprint everything you can find online. Sports section alone would be 50 pages. Business 100. The newspaper should be a vertiable log. Literally. After reading, it shouldn't just help start a fire in the fireplace, it should be the fire -- no logs necessary. That would save me a lot of money on that half cord of firewood, and much more convient, too.

Posted by: Kane | November 23, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

More fried squirrel recipes! Also, more ads for Mariah Carey videos, especially ones where she's horizontal! Maybe some more editorials about how we should stay in Iraq indefinitely but not hurt anyone while we're there, and then around Election Day, an endorsement for every Democratic candidate in every race everywhere, no matter how corrupt or stupid he or she is.

Posted by: Huntsman | November 23, 2005 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Although technically I'm an adult, I must admit to enjoying KidsPost, on the back page of the Style section (after I've read the movie reviews and the horoscopes, of course). This morning's story about the ugliest dog in the world (R.I.P.) was outstanding. Fantastic; absolutely fantastic.

Oh, and speaking of movie reviews, it took me some time to get used to the new system of allocating reviews between the Weekend and Style sections. I had previously relied mostly on Weekend for film reviews. When the new system was introduced, I was so lost I couldn't go to the movies for weeks. I finally adjusted, the end result being that I now read the Style reviews exclusively, barely glancing at Weekend. I have found that this is the only way to cope with the new system.

(Is it possible I've been the victim of a Style conspiracy? One thing I can say is, nothing will ever be the same again. Everything changed that day . . .)

But seriously, I love the Post and would have trouble coming up with something to complain about. (Except the lack of serial commas and the tendency to say "a couple" instead of "a couple OF.") [That last one really gets my goat.]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 9:29 AM | Report abuse

SCC entry:
Unintentional emoticon at the end of my penultimate paragraph above. Clearly there's some sort of Typepad conspiracy going on.

[Actually, I wouldn't have bothered to post an SCC entry for this if not for a piece of advice I found in my horoscope this morning: "Call yourself out. Be stringent when it comes to your rules for yourself."]

[Sorry, Historian.]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the headline writers and the folks who lay out the links for the on-line front page struggle with things like this, but the original front page link to this article;
Had the word "Naked" in it (as the article headline still does), but it appears to have been revised around 8:35 AM or or so to say "Man Dies in Jump from Downtown Office".

Sure, someone caught on to the idea that using the word "Naked" sensationalizes and to some degree trivializes a very tragic incident where a man apparrently suffering from some sort of mental illness took his own life.

On the other hand, the link and headline that inlcudes the word "Naked" draws people's attention. This, of course, is how tabloids make their money.

I consider an experiment:
Write multiple hyplerlinks to the same articles/content using different words and phrases in the tag text, and evaluate the number of hits to, and the length of time readers stay on, that given content based on which link it's coming from.

The goals of course, are to develop a style guide for hyperlink text for the WaPo, and to learn how to constuct links that are effective in taking readers to what they expect/want to find.

If the Post already has such a thing, well, never mind.

Next: evaluating the Post's News Search functions.


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 9:36 AM | Report abuse

SCC: for above, remove "I" from the line, "Consider an experiment:"

I'm going to give myself acid reflux this AM.


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I wrote to the ombudswoman last week about this: it's almost impossible to find a link on the website that gives her email address. Try it.

By contrast, the NY Times has a link to the public editor prominently displayed in the left hand column with links to the editorial and letters pages.

If the Post _really_ wants to hear from readers, shouldn't they make it a bit easier for us?

Love the blog; keep it up, Joel.

Posted by: KTZ | November 23, 2005 9:40 AM | Report abuse


If it's accurate information, I say leave the headline be. I cannot see any sensationalization in pointing out what was nakedly apparent (sorry, Super!) to everyone on the scene. There ARE times when staff get overly sensitive to people sensitivities...

And I agree with the earler boodling about the search function. Inconsistent, occasionally inaccurate and generally annoying.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I used to subscribe to the Washington Post until our dear leader began his ill-fated invasion of Iraq. As the government prepared for the War and then bungled it, I became increasingly furious about the Post's Editorials. Who writes it? Who are these people and what are their background? Did they ever read a history book about Iraq (Please check on this one)? Do they actually read the articles the Post journalists write about the mess that is unfolding in Iraq? Do they actually sleep at night as the War they cheered for has turned Iraq into a black hole that is sucking the air out of the Middle East and continues to divide our country?

But I do miss the Post. I can go to a single-issue site like and get plenty of information about the Iraq War, for example, but its focus is narrow. What I miss about the print edition (which is not the same feeling you get about the online version of the Post) is that you can stumble into an article that you would not have been interested in and learn something new and interesting. I bought the print edition today and the little nugget I found today was about the trials in Peru in the World section.

My recommendations is that the Post should seriously consider the damage its position on the Iraq War and its defense of Bob Woodward are doing to its reputation (see the Woodward Cover-Up by Paul Sperry at I find his critique compelling. In the end, he calls on readers to support sites like I am not there yet but if this is the future of journalism, then we have lost something. As readers, we do not have the time or the energy to easily track all the important events in the very complex world that we live in. We rely on Papers like the Post to do so. On the coverage of the Iraq War, you have failed to adequately challenged our leaders. I speak here about your Editorial Board in particular. At least the Bush Administration will be gone in 3 years. Is the Editorial Board at the post planning an early retirement by any chance?

Posted by: Ian | November 23, 2005 9:49 AM | Report abuse

In a way I hate to complain, because I like 98% of the WaPo, and griping about the other 2% distorts my opinion.

However, I would like to echo TBG--I, too, have complained before about the daily chat links being updated about 5 or 6 p.m., when I think they shouldn't be updated until about midnight, or so. At 8 p.m. at night, it does the reader absolutely no good whatsoever to know what tomorrow's chats are going to be. (However, there is one glaring exception--it is sometimes irritating to open a chat about a PBS show, only to learn the show was on the evening before, and I missed it. I can't think of a solution, but it is a problem waiting to be solved. The chat links themselves don't say "Watch the XYZ show tonight because we'll chat about them tomorrow." Yet that's exactly the information I need.

I've also been miffed that the WaPo makes it incredibly hard to contact them in "real time" if somebody spots an error or problem. On numerous occasions, I've seen something, and have had to send an e-mail to a "back channel" who had to relay it to the proper department. I realize that a more readily available link will result in a flood of stuff you (the WaPo)would have to deal with, but that's the price you pay.

OK, enough complaining. I want to send major props to Liz Kelly and her entire department for the great job they do, especially putting up with the likes of Weingarten, Leiby, etc. (And Achenbach??)The woman must be a saint. Yes, there are glitches from time to time, but that's just part of the wonderful (note sarcasm) computer age we live in.

Regarding Woodward: Weingarten's defense of him yesterday was the most correct and best written of all the defenses of him I've read. Yes, Woodward screwed up, but that's been acknowledged. The people out for his head on a platter are people who are anti-WaPo anyway, and there's a tremendous amount of ideological "noise" drowning out the common sense.

The people who say, "I can no longer trust the paper" are idiots first, and liars second, because they didn't trust the paper in the first place, and should say so instead of feigning sudden disillusionment, as though they were shocked to discover there was gambling going on in the back room of Rick's nightclub. Puh-leeze. They are idiots because they claim to be unable to discriminate between news ("hard news"), political news versus routine police blotter stuff and the 10,000 other routine news items, between blaming the messenger for the message, etc. What, do they think because Woodward screwed up or that Judith Miller was in the pocket of the Bush Administration that the Post got the score of the Gonzaga basketball game wrong, too, and that Gonzaga actually lost instead of won? Do they no longer "trust" the NYT classified ad that says there's a vacant apartment for rent on 93rd Street? Gimmee a break.

Major props to all you in the newsroom who resist surveys about "what readers 'really' want." They are crap. You know it, I know it. "The customer is always right" is almost always invariably wrong. My wife is a real estate agent, and that industry there is an unspoken motto that never gets out in public. It is this: "Buyers are liars." (It refers to the very common tendency of house buyers to say they want one thing, and then go buy something not remotely close to what they said they wanted. It also applies to a fairly high percentage of buyers who routinely lie on their mortgage applications, and then credit checks turn up all sorts of stuff they lied about.) That motto applies to buyers of newspapers, too. (And probably a lot of other stuff. In fact, somebody should do a story about it.)

Does the Post screw up from time to time? Sure. So what? What institution, organization, company, outfit, or human being doesn't from time to time? Mistakes aren't nearly as important as whether they are part of a pattern, how they are handled, whether somebody learns from them, etc.

The Post is one of the top five or six best newspapers in the country, period. I know it, you know it, your colleagues in the industry know it, and Washington itself knows it (even though part of Washington hates that fact, precisely because it's true).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon's in high dudgeon for the holidays, I see... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 9:54 AM | Report abuse

there is still an uneasy tension with advertising, and of course i'm going to suggest more deference for the non-paying customers

opinion page layout team needs a firm lecture. i generally have to go crawling through the bushes looking for jim hoagland

all of us over here on the blog team are doing great!

Posted by: kp | November 23, 2005 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and get rid of that *&%^$#*^%$#@ Laosil toenail ad. I'll pay NOT to have to see it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Lamosil

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Mostly my complaint is that the distribution system does not work well in the suburbs of DC. I'd love to be able to purchase a paper at the train station, but there isn't a place that sells them.

Admittedly, I work in Chicago and live about 40 miles further west. Still, if the NY Times can do it, so can the Post.

Posted by: Dave R | November 23, 2005 9:56 AM | Report abuse

It would be nice if you could adjust the size of the paper to fit exactly into the bottom of a standard birdcage.

Posted by: Tweety | November 23, 2005 9:58 AM | Report abuse

And ditto, more fried squirrel recipes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 9:59 AM | Report abuse

BC, on the subject of headlines, I suggest you check out the novel "Dwarf Rapes Nun, Flees in UFO". This was considered to be the perfect tabloid headline, combining all elements of the genre.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 23, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse very thankful for the inet version
as the newsprint version would be both
pricey and dicey getting on a daily basis
to this part of the world................ read white house briefing and media
notes often...and visit achenblog often :-)

...perhaps an area to explore for future
growth would be a THE ONION or THE DAILY
SHOW type of section...humor and comic
eyepoking being a great leveler that quite
often can make the world seem not so bad
after all....and sometimes even worth one
more day of putting up with........:-)

...thank you for taking time and giving
space for comments...a newspaper without
readers or a reader without newspapers
is not a full equasion...we do need
each other...keep up the good work..:-)

Posted by: an american in siam.... | November 23, 2005 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I rather liked a tabloid headline I saw several years ago: "JFK Seen at Own Grave!" And they even had the photo to prove it! (I think it was in the Weekly World News.)

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I have a subscription to the Washington Post and read it every day while eating breakfast. I echo Ian's statements about finding nuggets like the Peru article in todays edition. I like the Post primarily because you guys have a lot of stories that don't get headlines both in the National and World parts of the A-section.

As for "complaints", read/view Tom Toles' cartoon today for one of the glaring problems facing journalism today. The over-use of "anonymous" sources means that we readers have to trust the author implicitly and aren't given the opportunity to fact check for ourselves. Who are these mysterious sources and what are their potential agendas? We never know. And given the current environment of "he said/she said" stories, where objective facts aren't even discussed, the reader is left to infer the political agenda of the source or the writer, which undercuts their journalistic objectivity and credibility.

And for all the people in this blog that believe the Washington Post is a left-wing nut job rag, why didn't the story today on the plans for pulling out of Iraq read "Despite Protestations, Bush Administration is Planning to Cut and Run out of Iraq"? That would have not only sold more newspapers but also forwarded the left-wing agenda that some believe the W. Post promotes...

Posted by: DC Fan | November 23, 2005 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I read the online version. I read (besides the 'blog) Froomkin, the columnists (who, with the exception of the raving idiot Krauthammer, are almost uniformly excellent---see for example, Meyerson today). And VandeHei(sp?) and Priest and company are usually excellent. The transcripts of the online QandA sessions are fun, especially the ones during the election. I do wish the Post would focus on stories for longer than a day or two, and perhaps increase some coverage of environmental issues. Rob Pegoraro is great. So what's not to like (besides the turd Krauthammer)? The problem with Krauthammer is simply that he is stupid (read his piece in which he feels that religious feelings should be shouted out from every rooftop!). I write this as a standard Northeast type conservative, a species destined for extinction.

Posted by: wapo-excellent | November 23, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I hate it when this happens. I can't remember enough details to make this comment completely cogent, but here goes: Maybe last week or the week before, I read something in the Post on an inside page (probably the first section), wherein the "reporter" made a clearly gratuitous comment within her article about Ralph Nader, calling his comment "typical Naderese" (or something like that). What he posited caused me to sit up straighter (and, no, I can't remember what it was), but the reporter never went further than to trash Nader. Now, I'm no particular Nader fan, but I don't hate him, either. For this reporter to it would appear go out of her way to be so gratuitous was stupid. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. If you think you're funny, especially at the expense of someone else, go to the comics!

Another gripe I have is that in the preponderance of the articles I do read in the Post, there is a great deal of repetition -- within the same article -- two or three times. We're not stupid, folks. Don't dummy it down.

The editorials do seem a bit sanctimonious at times. I do like Colby King, though.

And, as I've ranted before in previous Kits, if you're going to do investigative journalism, DO IT! And do it consistently. Afraid of losing your sources (re: Woodward)? Find out the scoop in another way. Work for it!

I still miss the Post of yesteryear (Woodward's contribution thereto notwithstanding).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 23, 2005 10:12 AM | Report abuse

TBG and Curmudgeon,

After the chat schedule has been updated around 5:00 p.m., just click on the Weekly Schedule link. It pops up a new window that is still on that day's schedule of chats. That's how I get back to Weingarten's chat whenever he updates it. Which he hasn't done for the last three weeks, but that's another story.

Other than that, Curmudgeon, I second what you say in your post about The Post, especially Weingarten's description of l'affaire Bob Woodward and your praise of Liz Kelly and crew. Yes, she must be a saint with what she has to put up with.

Another complaint I have about readers are those who send in questions saying "Why aren't the media covering subject X" when you know they read about it in the paper, saw it on-line or on TV, or heard about it on the radio. I saw a perfect example about this in another chat room I visit. Someone was complaining about the lack of coverage of the French riots. As 'proof' of this lack of coverage, he included an editorial about the riots from the New York Sun. A paper writes an editorial and somehow that's 'ingoring' it. Oy!

Posted by: pj | November 23, 2005 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I'll summarize what I think about search functions in general and the WaPo in particular:

A search function is only as good as you make it.

Using keywords in the metadata headers of an html doc is a flag to search engines, "Hey! Over here!". Some writers at the Post use them unevenly, most don't at all from my non-scientific sampling.

I can only conclude from this that there aren't any metadata keyword standards/policies (or that they aren't followed), and if there has been some taxonomy developed for the online WaPo (which can be a bit different the way a site's organized, btw), it doesn't look like it's applied well or extended to the search function. When I search for 'political', why don't I get the WaPo Politics Section towards the top of my search results, in the same way that I do when I search for "politics"? This is what makes me think that there isn't much of a search taxonomy applied...

If the WaPo wants the big search engines (google, yahoo, etc.) to pick their content up, they should develop a plan, policies and procedures to implement metadata w/keywords, and a related taxonomy to utilize those keywords for what I think would be a significantly improved WaPo site search.



Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'll ad my gripe regarding the "random" search engine and the disappearing chats. Otherwise, I look forward to every online issue (can't get paper WaPo in FlyOverLand). The paper is the most balanced (both lefties and wingnuts hate it) and useful media outlet in the market. And, the fact that it allows the continuing experiement of the Kit & Kaboodle shows that it's a paper that encourages new ideas and wants to serve its readers any way it can. You don't need Angeline. Keep Joel.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

SCC on me again for inconsistent use of quotation marks in my 10:14 comment.



Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I should add that I only singled metadata keywords for my examples.

There are a whole host of standard and custom metadata types that can be leveraged to improve search and many other kinds of site functionality.


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The solution for the print version is not to have to carry the online version. Solution, make us pay for the online version. I think that I am ready. I can hear the boos and hisses now, but we pay for so many other things for which we don't get our monies worth... Verizon, for instance, that we have got to get to the point to accept that the ONline version is of value.

Joel, you do have my home address to which you must now send that check.

As far as fixing stuff, get a sports staff to cover local sports. Your feature guys are great, but the content is heavily slanted towards pro coverage.

AND, get someone like Coleman McCarthy in your paper again. It's a trend, that social justice thing. Come the first of January, we may learn that Social Justice may very will be IN.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 23, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Well, some past complaints about my local paper, the San Antonio Express-News.

When the Washington Post was putting the Woodward story on page A01, the San Antonio Express-News ran it on page A15, on the bottom left of the page, next to the gutter, about as deep inside and low (on the page) as a layout editor can go. Bob Woodward who? Scooter Libby who? Judith Miller who? Unnamed source who? The San Antonio bury-the-news cowboy yodel.

Cindy Sheehan will be in Crawford, Texas, over the Thanksgiving holidays. Don't know if she'll be camping in the ditches near Bush's ranch compound since the county government in the Crawford area passed an ordinance restricting most of the camping, parking activities that took place as a result of Sheehan's protest outside Bush's acreage last August.

My point, however, is that the AP article about Sheehan that the Express-News used said Sheehan is a resident of Berkeley, Calif., when, in fact, Sheehan's former hometown is Vacaville, Calif. Vacaville, a farming town known as the onion capital of California, is no Berkeley. Did Sheehan move to Berkeley? Is that the answer for this geographical reporting conundrum? That's the only possible answer that I can postulate...

Sorry, no RFK story last night. Too worn out.

Posted by: Loomis | November 23, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm limited to the online section and I agree with a previous post here - I live in the sticks but can get the NYTimes, why can't the Post do that as well? If a print version were avilable to me I would definitly take it up.

Posted by: LP | November 23, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what CowTown thinks about where Sheehan lives?


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Before I forget again...

*bowing head*

Let us give thanks to the Great Kit 'n' Boodler for this, our daily Boodle, and for Fearless Leader's untiring efforts to prod us into greater Boodledom...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 11:04 AM | Report abuse

And with that out of the way...

*needlessly nit-picky headline criticism to follow*

"Snyder Says He Has Won Six Flags Votes"

For those of us not already familiar with Napoleon Tinymite, one might wonder if he has to win seven or more "Flags" votes to get a prize...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

One small footnote to my post:

O.K., my dander is up about our lack of local news reporting about Bob Woodward, so I went to our recycling bin and pulled out the hardcopy--Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005.

The Woodward story ran page A15, as I mentioned in my previous post, on the bottom left, next to the gutter, in a Knight Ridder story written by reporter Shannon McCaffrey. The mention of Woodward is actually embedded in a story headlined, "New grand jury to hear evidence in CIA leak case." of our front page on Saturday last was devoted to a local feature, with two accompanying front-page photos. The story's suject matter? "End of 20-month ban brings back a favorite."

Grab your seats, folk, because this story by staff writer Lisa Marie Gomez is important NEWS! (I vividly recall complaining about these two stories' importance and page placement to my hubby that morning, which prompted my sprint to the recycling bin five minutes ago as a fact-checking exercise.)

"Pull up a chair and grab some napkins. They're back!

"After a 20-month hiatus, thanks to a ban by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a South Texas tradition has returned to the table.

"Tripas, which are made from the tubing than [sic] connects the two stomachs in beef cattle or the small intestine, were ordered off the market in January 2004 because of their possible connection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease.

"Slaughterhouses abruptly stopped producing tripas when the ban went into effect...."

The photo of Fernando Cruz of Culebra Meat Market No. 1 with a tube full of frozen beef intestines also went particularly well with my morning coffee and toast.

The tripas feature jumped to page A06, where it and another huge photo took up another one-third of that page.

I could make some tripe-related comment about my local paper, but I shall refrain...

Posted by: Linda Loomis | November 23, 2005 11:10 AM | Report abuse

with a tube full of frozen beef intestines

with a large plastic tub full of frozen beef intestines

Posted by: Loomis | November 23, 2005 11:14 AM | Report abuse

My grandma used to bake tripe into lasagna, and slip it to us kids, thinking we'd ignore the funny-looking noodles.



Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 11:16 AM | Report abuse

SCC: please to ignore extraneous "," in above post.


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the Latin root for cow "vacca" is the basis for the Spanish word for cowboy, "vaquero," as well as the current term for inoculation, "vaccine," and I suppose California's Vacaville, as well.

Posted by: Moo Loomis | November 23, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

An extraneous "","" should never be ignored. Actually, I would argue that there's no such thing as an extraneous "",""


[No prizes for guessing who]

Posted by: "," | November 23, 2005 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The worlds are colliding! -- is Moo Loomis CowTown, or LindaLoo?
(I'm guessing it's LindaLoo. Nevertheless . . .)

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I just thought of something else:

Beef LindaLoo!

[Get it? Vindaloo? No?]

[Oh, I kill me . . .]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Vacaville's almost dead center between Vallejo and Davis (the other "Cow Town"). I call from an undisclosed midwest location that features a prodigious quantity of creatures of bovine charactor. Most of them are cows.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I love the WaPo. We stopped getting the dailies because it took so darned much time to read in the morning that I never did it to an extent that seemed to justify the delivery of so much paper. I probably still read that much of the Post on-line at work, but here it's procrastination in little dribs, so I have time to recover partially from the pangs of guilt before my next plunge into procrastination.

Posted by: Tim | November 23, 2005 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'd guess LindaLoo, too. And bc, that tripe lasagna story just got rid of my hungry feeling, so thank you.

Posted by: Sara | November 23, 2005 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I live in Connecticut, so seldom have access to the print edition of the Washington Post. There is one book store in New Haven where I can pick up the Sunday edition. I started reading it when both of my grown children were in college in DC, and both now live there--the oldest in DC proper and the younger one in Bethesda. I think WaPo has the best coverage for national news--especially political items.

They know that when I come down to visit, as I will this Christmas, that I buy one the minute I get to the train station. And I buy one each day while I'm visiting. Then I bring at least the entire Sunday edition home with me, along with tear sheets of articles that particularly "grabbed" me. As a matter of fact, one of my gifts to them this Christmas is going to be a subscription for each to your paper.

I am a seven days a week home delivery subscriber of the New York Times, but I prefer your paper.

I wish I could get delivery of your publication. I would pay for an on-lilne subscription, too. My dad, long deceased, had a forty year career as a newspaper editor, so I grew up knowing that there is no other resource like a paper--at least a good one. Our local New Haven Register is not a quality paper, so I only buy it to keep up with the obits and some local news coverage. The Hartford Courant is a much better publication, which I buy on Sundays, and certain week days when there is something going on in the state for which I want good, solid reporting.

Posted by: aroc | November 23, 2005 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see an increased use of tittles. But, damn, I'm at home on a PC and not at work with a MAC today, and am not able to slap a bunch of them into this post because the addition of diacritical markings with a PC is critically difficult.

Anyway, it would surely attract the eyes of the reading public if the Post would make it the house style to put umlauts over many of the U's, circumflexes over some of the I's, tildes over numerous N's (and not just the Spanish-flavored ones), a sprinkling of random accent marks (the ones that go from upper-left to lower-right as well as the ones that go from lower-left to upper-right), a dash of dashes to make things more dashing and Icelandic (or is it Norwegian?) slash marks through all the O's.

The dashes may not technically be tittles, but I was kind of on a roll there.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 23, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I tried, years ago, to go without my daily delivery of The Post. You don't realize how many conversations during the day begin with, "Did you see in the paper today...?"

I grew up here and we always had The Post and The Star delivered daily. To this day, I sometimes think late in the afternoon, "I wonder if The Star is here yet?" Yikes... where does that come from? Hasn't it been about a billion years since The Star folded?

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't think people realize that's why The Post has so many comics... they took over most of The Star's comics (of course leaving out such wonders as Funky Winkerbean and The Lockhorns).

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't know when you left Calee-for-knee-i-a, but perhaps this is after your time. When Stanislaus State was built south of Modesto, it's nickname for some years--in the California college system, because of the surrounding "farms--was "Turkey Tech."

Oh, I have a story...

Posted by: Loomis | November 23, 2005 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Example of well-done headline, of which the Post might emulate ...

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 23, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The search engine really, really sucks.

Posted by: MxWPFan | November 23, 2005 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I am bothered in political coverage by the extent to which it is combat, not debate -- "Mr. X made powerful and controversial statements that were red meat for his partisan supporters, but infuriated his opponents." This is the standard phrase in most political coverage, WaPo and otherwise; only the identity of Mr. X changes. I realize this is not an original sentiment.

We had a boodle-quote some weeks back from Castaneda -- I can only paraphrase -- "those who do not remember history are fated to repeat it" or something like that. Well, the Mr. Xes of the world quite frequently make political propositions that are part of the historical record. We've tried that experiment before, usually not so long ago, so let's recall what went wrong and what went right and report the case with a little objective analysis.

How about "Mr. X made numerous statements that appear to be at odds with reality and the historical record" and then an analysis? Or, "Mr. X marshalled an impressive array of evidence to support his argument?" At best, what we get is "Mr. X quoted an extensive array of arguments. Mr. Y will have a lot of work to do to counter them." Well, either Mr. X's facts are correct, or they are not; the paper should not have to wait for Mr. Y to do the homework in order to make an objective statement about whether Mr. X is full of it. Obviously, Mr. Y must be held to the same standard. This is not editorializing. Editorializing would be to critique Mr. X and Mr. Y's policy positions that they claim from the evidence. A critique of the evidence itself and a comparison with Mr. X or Y's interpretation can, and should, be in the arena of objective analysis. As a scientist, this is my daily work (when I'm not procrastinating on the Boodle). We collect data (evidence); we desribe it, as objectively as we can; we interpret whether the evidence supports or falsifies a proposition. Only after that do we propose a 'policy' to reconcile the evidence into a program for the future. That last part is editorializing and it's the part that our colleagues critique (plus critiquing whether they think we accurately collected the evidence, of course).

Posted by: Tim | November 23, 2005 11:50 AM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Sara.

I'll spare you details of other failed lasagna experiements of my dear departed grandmother: tuna fish (out of the can) and eggplant. Together.

Might be someone's cup of tea, definitely not mine.


Posted by: bc | November 23, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

My father used to love the occasional Sunday drive. We'd pack sandwiches, and a thermos of hot chocolate if it was cool, and usually head to the foothills. One of our favorite destinations was California Hot Springs, because of its cool pool with diving boards, the small hot-spring-fed pool and large hot-water fountain. This area is where the progenitor of the Bakersfield Gifford clan (Frank Gifford)was mysteriously murdered.

We'd leave in the morning so that we could have lunch in the scenic mountain park with its pretty little stream, roam on a hike around the area, and then go swimming or soaking.

On the way east into the foothills, once we turned right at the four-way stop of Ducor, we would invariably stop at a large turkey ranch. This is where I first learned what turkeys really looked like.

But my father is the story here. He would stand next to the fence nearest the roadway, and place his right hand up to his throat and start a jigging motion. Then he would part his lips and make this turkey noise or holler. It would get all the turkeys riled up and worked into an absolute frenzy. Not only the turkeys next to us, but the turkeys in the pens hundreds of feet beyond.

The sun was always rising in the east when we stopped, so all those wattles and snoods of the turkeys would be backlighted, gleaming and glimmering a warm rosy pink as far as the eye could see. Not to mention the commotion--the noise they made is beyond analogy. Oh, lordy! My sister and I would try to attempt my dad's technique, but we would rouse nary a peep out of those birds. And the sad thing is, neither my sister nor I ever learned the story of how my father acquired this particular skill of his.

After my dad had had his fun, he would pile back into our '57 Chevy station wagon and head for the hills. The days my father performed his incredible turkey stunt weren't Thanksgiving, but to this day, his almost annual song to the turkeys is my favorite holiday memory.

Posted by: Loomis | November 23, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

An op-ed piece on guilt for not raking leaves? By a women? Superficial at best, mind-numbingly irrelevant at worst. Besides, she doesn't provide enough sensible mention of the importance of organic matter for the clayish ground. The headline pun, Leaf Well Enough Alone, doesn't help. Where is M. Dowd?

Posted by: sisjen | November 23, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Although not an excuse for the occasional misstep by the WaPo, consider the alternatives left to most of the county. In my traveling around the country on business, nearly all local papers (in mid-level media markets) contain little national news, virtually no international reporting, and certainly, no critical opinions. Most are full of truck ads.

When I visit my mother in Fort Myers, a complete read of every section of the Fort Myers Daily Blatt takes about 20 minutes. Most of the news is 'dog bites boy'. One has to wonder how residents get sufficient news coverage to make intelligent voting decisions. It is truly scary what qualifies as a newspaper for the great majority of Americans.

Even with the occasional flaw, I simply could not survive without my morning WaPo, the online updates, and the evening re-reads of interesting articles.

Posted by: waterboy | November 23, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

sisjen, I have to disagree. I love Anne Applebaum. I'm saving reading her editorial until later, although I glanced at the beginning. She never fails to have something worth reading, both for the subject matter and for the beauty of her writing. She writes about politics, yes, but she also writes about Life (not just life). Life is made out of a million trivialities that we dispense with at our loss. The ostensible subject may appear trivial, but theat doesn't mean that the subtext is trivial. It's about what makes us people, with interests and foibles.

Then again, I haven't read the column yet. Even the best don't write a winner every time, although my late introduction to Marjorie Williams suggests I may have to change that personal maxim.

Posted by: Tim | November 23, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Tim, it was the philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
(The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905)

A friend just e-mailed me this from the NYT (not to change the subject much):

November 23, 2005
Ruth M. Siems, Inventor of Stuffing, Dies at 74

Ruth M. Siems, a retired home economist whose best-known innovation will
make its appearance, welcome or otherwise, in millions of homes
tomorrow, died on Nov. 13 at her home in Newburgh, Ind. Ms. Siems, an
inventor of Stove Top stuffing, was 74.

The cause was a heart attack, according to the Warrick County coroner's
office in Boonville, Ind.

Ms. Siems (pronounced "Seems") spent more than three decades on the
staff of General Foods, which introduced the Stove Top brand in 1972.
Today, Kraft Foods, which now owns the brand, sells about 60 million
boxes of it at Thanksgiving, a company spokeswoman said.

Prepared in five minutes on the stove or in the microwave, Stove Top
stuffing comes in a range of flavors, including turkey, chicken, beef,
cornbread and sourdough.

Comforting or campy, Stove Top stuffing is an enduring emblem of postwar
convenience culture. Its early advertising tag line, "Stuffing instead
of potatoes?" remains in the collective consciousness.

As Laura Shapiro, the author of "Something From the Oven: Reinventing
Dinner in 1950's America" (Viking, 2004), said in a telephone interview

"Stove Top made it possible to have the stuffing without the turkey,
probably something no cook would ever have dreamed of but people eating
Thanksgiving dinner might well have thought of: 'Take away everything
else; just leave me here with the stuffing!' It's kind of like eating
the chocolate chips without the cookies."

Stove Top's premise is threefold. First, it offers speed.

Second, it divorces the stuffing from the bird, sparing cooks the nasty
business of having to root around in the clammy interior of an animal.

Third, it frees stuffing from the yoke of Thanksgiving; it can be cooked
and eaten on a moment's notice any day of the year.

In 1975, General Foods was awarded United States Patent No. 3,870,803
for the product, generically called Instant Stuffing Mix. Ms. Siems is
listed first among the inventors, followed by Anthony C. Capossela Jr.,
John F. Halligan and C. Robert Wyss.

The secret lay in the crumb size. If the dried bread crumb is too small,
adding water to it makes a soggy mass; too large, and the result is
gravel. In other words, as the patent explains, "The nature of the cell
structure and overall texture of the dried bread crumb employed in this
invention is of great importance if a stuffing which will hydrate in a
matter of minutes to the proper texture and mouthfeel is to be

A member of the research and development staff at General Foods, Ms.
Siems was instrumental, her sister Suzanne Porter said, in arriving at
the precise crumb dimensions - about the size of a pencil eraser.

Ruth Miriam Siems was born in Evansville, Ind., on Feb. 20, 1931. She
earned an undergraduate degree in home economics from Purdue University
in 1953, and after graduation took a job at the General Foods plant in
Evansville, where she worked on flours and cake mixes. She moved to the
company's technical center in Tarrytown, N.Y., not long afterward. Ms.
Siems retired in 1985.

Besides Ms. Porter, of Copley, Ohio, Ms. Siems is survived by another
sister, Rosemary Snyder, of Chicago; and a brother, David, of Milford,

As a mark of just how deeply inscribed on the American palate Ms.
Siems's stuffing has become, there are several recipes, available on the
Internet, that promise to reproduce the taste of Stove Top from scratch,
using fresh ingredients.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

That's a great story, Linda. It makes me want to head out into the countryside to become one with the turkeys. (Although, I suspect I'm better at making chicken noises than at turkey hollering. Ber-kerk!)

"It would get all the turkeys riled up and worked into an absolute frenzy."


Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Which raises the obvious question, which type of Stovetop Stuffing goes with fried squirrel? Decisions, decisions...Joel, something for the editorial board to ponder.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 12:40 PM | Report abuse

sisjen, wrong paper. Mo Dowd is in NYT...of course, what Ms. Applebaum doesn't realize is that leaves will mat down and kill the grass and the plants in the beds. They need to be raked and shredded and composted to make them useful. Where's Adrian Higgins when we need him?

Posted by: slyness | November 23, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I love the online Soduko puzzle; for some reason it seems easier to do these on a screen than on print (plus the wonderful, addictive positive reinforcement when I complete a line or block).
But Sokuko is addictive, which leads me to wonder whether Japan has invented all these diversions (Soduko, video games, walkman, anime videos,etc.) to sap the intellectual vigor, concentration & productivity of America's youth & adults?
I know that my household chores have been neglected since my exposure to Soduko. (On our recent vacation, I left my Sokuko book at home to avoid endangering my marriage....)

Posted by: Lindy48 | November 23, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh,.I forgot to add that I also love the Crickler - wonderful blend of a current events test & a crossword!

Posted by: Lindy48 | November 23, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

And I know that my Soduko chores have been neglected since my exposure to the Achenblog.

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The paper's great. The content is great. It's unrivaled. My question: When will the Post make the "Leap of Faith" and charge for on-line content? It would infuriate many who have come to expect Free Everything Online. The NYT's pay-for-premium experiment seems to be, despite a mountain of skeptics, performing OK. The news business is in deep trouble, and it's going to take Organizations with Balls (ahem, not mine) to break trail to where on-line content from top newspapers makes subscriber money, because the dead tree version is not the future (though it remains a cash cow by any standard measure). So WaPo Smart Folk: I say step up and show us the way. I'd pay $15 a quarter to dig Joel's blog and the goodness that is the WaPo. There will be hell to pay when launched, but in the long run you'll help save the news business because Wall Street will finally figure out that people will pay for excellent content. My organization doesn't have the stones to make this leap. I hope someday WaPo does...

Posted by: FellowHack | November 23, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I love Anne Applebaum's writing. I can't get enough of it.

Posted by: omnigood | November 23, 2005 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I hate to mess up the blog, but with everyone going on vacation and all, and beside's it's timely and time sensitive. And, Achenfan suggested it. Who can say "no" to her?

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Washington D.C

James Shelby hung up the phone and immediately began to bask in the anticipated glory of a man whose career has suddenly taken flight. As he leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head, Dale Coffin strode into the office holding several file folders. He stopped short when he saw Shelby's beatific smile. Ever since Shelby had become a Project Manager at FEMA, Coffin had noticed a transformation from Shelby the indefatigable worker to Shelby the scheming self-promoter.

"What's up now," Coffin asked, bracing himself.

"Just something that will make us hero's again," replied Shelby, smugly swiveling in his chair, "We're delivering Thanksgiving dinners to the long-suffering people of New Orleans."

Coffin was about to utter something expressing approval, but Shelby raised a hand to cut him off, "Here's the kicker. You'll love this. It's an air drop. It'll be huge on television!"

"You're delivering food from airplanes?"

"Helicopters!" roared Shelby, "As we speak!"

Jefferson Parish, New Orleans

Gloria Hearly came in from the back porch and shuffled to the kitchen to make some tea. She had been painting the back porch for most of the day, and while the work was not arduous, all the reaching and standing for hours made her elderly frame weary. She sat at the kitchen table waiting for the water to boil and thought a little despondently about her late husband.

Her reverie was short lived, however, as soon she heard the rapid cadence of a helicopter passing over the neighborhood. Gloria lived in a quiet section of the parish that knew little crime, so the appearance of a helicopter was rare. And this one sounded big, really big. The clatter of the helicopter blades roared louder as it approached her house.

As Gloria rose to look out the kitchen window, a thundering crash shook her entire house and nearly caused her to fall to the floor. Collecting herself, Gloria crept toward the living room, the source of the horrendous noise. Lying in the middle of the room and covered in dust and fragments of wood and drywall was a boulder the size of a small television set. A gaping hole in the ceiling, still showing small bits of debris, revealed how the object had entered the house. Gloria approached the mass cautiously; the shape was oddly familiar. Kneeling, she carefully brushed away some of the white gypsum dust to expose the word, "Butterball."

The White House

Karl Rove sat at his desk carefully painting miniature lead figures of the army of King Cyrus when an aide to the President stormed into his office.

"There's a situation," the aide announced breathlessly, "A problem in New Orleans."

"Call FEMA," Rove muttered, clearly irritated, "I don't do natural disasters."

"This one's man-made. Actually, FEMA made it," the aide replied. Rove looked up at the aide with a look of both annoyance and confusion.

"FEMA's carpet bombing parts of New Orleans," the aide stammered.

"What!" Yelled Rove, "How?"

"They're using frozen turkeys."

Washington, D.C. (AP) - At a press briefing today, White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, tried to deflect mounting criticism of the Administration related to the FEMA "turkey bomb" fiasco in New Orleans. While acknowledging that a serious error was made by FEMA officials in deciding to drop frozen turkeys from National Guard helicopters, McClellan chided Administration critics, stating, "If FEMA had used fresh turkeys, like critics seem to propose, there would have been substantial danger of salmonella poisoning and other dangers to public health. And even more people would have been killed." McClellan did not identify who had proposed dropping fresh turkeys on New Orleans neighborhoods.

On Capitol Hill, Representative Jean Schmidt remarked to reporters, "Democrats would have preferred that FEMA pour hot mashed potatoes and gravy on the poor hungry people of New Orleans. They don't consider the consequences of their ideas. That's why they're not in power."

Hartford, CT - Continental Insurance Company Headquarters

Terrance Bowers tapped at the door frame of his supervisor's office. Tom Peterman turned to him and raised his eyebrows inquiringly.

"Uh, Tom," Terrance began, "There's a policy holder in New Orleans with an unusual claim."

"What's it for?" asked Peterman.

"She says it's for 'FEMA-damage,'" said Terrance, "Do we cover that?"

Posted by: The Cud Report | November 23, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope everyone read this editorial. It is an excellent summary of a vitally important issue.

Posted by: Reader | November 23, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I have to side with FellowHack on this one. Although I live in California, the Post is indispensable to me and I'd happily drop $50 a year for online access.

But the Post could do it because it's a great paper with a devoted readership and easily the best website in the business. Will it work for lesser papers? Consider mine: it's decent, not great in any way, and has a website that looks and performs like it was designed by a dull 6-year-old. Could we get away with charging for it? Ain't no way.

As someone who's come back to newspapers after a hellish stint in the trade mags, I'm betting the industry survives, but we're gonna have to take a page from the Post's playbook and get our online poop together or we're road kill.

Posted by: hominid | November 23, 2005 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, CowTown--simultaneous posts make for non-sequiturs.

That's a funny story. "FEMA damage!" Thanks for sharing.


Now, get serious and read the torture editorial.

Posted by: Reader | November 23, 2005 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, CowTown!

"a boulder the size of a small television set"!
"carefully painting miniature lead figures of the army of King Cyrus"!
"'I don't do natural disasters.'"!


Thanks for coming up with the goods yet again, CowMan. Looks like you put a lot of work into this. I hope you didn't have to spend *too* much time ruminating over it and chewing the midnight cud. [Ugh -- this is why these stories are best left to CowTown, not me.]

[You do know you CAN say no to me, right? I'm really not *that* scary, am I?]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Hmm I agree with others from out of your local. I do see NYT at small new shops, but no WaPo. I'd pay for it. I would also pay for online. I can say honestly that I have not seen anyother paper that I would pay for online. Canadians have chains not locals and there are none I currently pay for nor would consider doing so in the near future.

The other thing, 35 cents????? Is that all you pay? We pay 75 cents daily for the locals, and more for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. WaPo is a bargain even without taking the content into account.

Posted by: dr | November 23, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

And would all you deep-pocket types please stop VOLUNTEERING to pay for the Washington Post online!!??!! How would that benefit you? The paper is not on the verge of bankruptcy--they are perfectly solvent. If they decide to charge, then we can make our individual decisions about whether or not to pay. But in the meantime, can we just be grateful and quietly enjoy our "free" (ad-supported) content?

Posted by: Reader | November 23, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

That should read small news shops.

Posted by: dr | November 23, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

[Trying to come up with a Canadian-quarters joke in response to dr's 75 cents comment, but I'm getting nothing.]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

OK - here is my problem with the Post, and I worked at their corporate headquarters for 6 years so I'd like to think I have some sort of baseline that I am coming from.

Now being on the 'other side' of several stories that they have run, I am amazed at how out and out deceptive the articles are.

Maybe I was niave to view media as some sort of independent source of information but through careful inflection, word choice and time revisionism, it is amazing just how much distortion is possible.

I just wish people would realize that the news media is really just opinion media driven by a desire to sell. They should be open about it instead of pretending to 'serve the greater good' of being an independent source of information.

Gone are the days when someone like Kay Graham had the nerves of steel to enter in to a staring contest with Nixon and have him blink first.

Now the post dutifully aquieses to the bully tactics of our current president to ensure that they get invited back to the 'cool kids' table day after day.

They are the ultimate perpetrators of shadenfreude.

Yet here I am... But I only read Achenblog.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 23, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Reader, thanks for the link. Fascinating, and depressing, editorial.

I also agree with you about paying for online content. The ad revenue should hopefully defray the cost of producing the online paper. If it doesn't though, I'll pay for it. Will WaPo take a check?

Another consideration: Does "expanded quotability" (of WaPo articles) have a value? Something to consider when considering whether to charge for online content.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 2:03 PM | Report abuse

And, Achenfan, of course you're not "scary," just - uh - influential.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Me? Influential? I'll take that as a compliment, DiploMadCow. Thank you.

["I'm not bossy -- I'm influential!"]

["Oh, you are so Acheninfluential!"]

[And this one for Reader: "I wasn't torturing him -- I was just influencing him!"]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 2:10 PM | Report abuse

For the record, Reader, I don't *want* to pay for the Post online, but I would if I had to. I think paying for online content is inevitable, and my point is that to survive we're gonna have to provide a whole lot better product than what most of us are doing.

But at the risk of seeming to contradict myself, I do agree about the implication that greed is driving some of this. Take Times Select. There's something about it that just pisses me off, and I won't subscribe, even though I miss Krugman, Rich and Dowd. The Times is turning a handsome profit, and I decline to be pinched.

Posted by: hominid | November 23, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse

those toenail ads are disgusting!

Posted by: ot | November 23, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Continental Insurance Co. HQ in Hartford. Ha, you certainly know Connecticut!

I've only known for about 17 months that Rev. Thomas Hooker, considered one of the founders of Hartford, Conn., is a distant great-grandfather. This is my favorite story about him and I offer it in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

In the latter part of autumn, Mr. Hooker, being suddenly awakened by an unusual noise, thought he heard a person in his cellar. He immediately rose, dressed himself, and went silently to the foot of the cellar stairs. There he saw a man with a candle in his hand taking pork out of the barrel. When he had taken out the last piece, Mr. Hooker, accosting him pleasantly, said, "Neighbor, you act unfairly, you ought to leave a part for me."

Thunderstruck at being detected, especially at being detected by so awful a witness, the culprit fell at his feet, condemned himself for his wickedness, and implored his pardon. Rev. Hooker cheerfully forgave him, and concealed his crime, but forced him to carry half the pork to his own house.

May all be fed this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, Boodle!

Posted by: Linda Loomis | November 23, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

[I can't believe I only just remembered to post Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving Song]

[Edited in the interest of decency]


Love to eat turkey
Love to eat turkey
Love to eat turkey
'Cause it's good
Love to eat turkey
Like a good boy should
'Cause it's turkey to eat
So good

Turkey for me
Turkey for you
Let's eat the turkey
in my big brown shoe
Love to eat the turkey
At the table
I once saw a movie
With Betty Grable
Eat that turkey
All night long
Fifty million Elvis fans
Can't be wrong
Turkey turkey doo and
Turkey turkeydap
I eat that turkey Then I take a nap

Thanksgiving is a special night
Jimmy Walker used to say Dynomite
That's right
Turkey with gravy and cranberry
Can't believe the Mets
traded Darryl Strawberry

White meat, dark meat
You just can't lose
I fell off my moped
And I got a bruise
Turkey in the oven
And the buns in the toaster
I'll never take down
My Cheryl Tiegs poster
Turkey and sweet potato pie
Sammy Davis Jr.
Only had one eye

Turkey for the girls and
Turkey for the boys
My favorite kind of pant
Are corduriys
Gobble gobble goo and
Gobble gobble gickel
I wish turkey
Only cost a nickel
Oh I love turkey on Thanksgiving

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry by proxy:

"My favorite kind of pants are corduroys."

[Lyrics copied from the Internet]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 23, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our U.S. boodlers! I was cut off yesterday by an inadvertant glitch in the world of high speed internet.
I also realize I'm late to the party, with respect to the Post, but one of my biggest gripes with the MSM is the acceptance of "words that don't exist." eg. Impacted. Sorry if this was brought up before, but one can only read so fast...

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

SCC, just fix in your mind. I should have spell checked.

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"Impacted" is one of my pet peeves too, RA.

Also "transitioned."

Posted by: Tom fan | November 23, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Although, Tom fan, I could agree that Katrina "Impacted" NO, but I need to see the parts that were shoved into the ground. Otherwise, the several storms that have hit the coasts of the America's have had an impact on the local people, and I wish that real English would come back into regular use.
Also, I guess I've "transitioned" into the realm of the "under-employed" for the moment. Arrgh.

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

And "tasked."

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

You crack me up!
Let's see, You've been "tasked" to the job. Management has "tasked" us with the mission, We've been "tasked" with the objective...
Oh, this could go on and on...

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:22 PM | Report abuse


Welcome back to the Boodle. It's a sad fact that while "recess-depression" of the early 21st Century took longer to reach the Midwest than the coasts, the recovery has also lagged behind. Best of luck to you. Buck up.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

You're probably on the back porch, getting ready for turkey et. al. But if you have the chance, please comment on the quality of the English language when it comes to the MSM. I'm just wondering why we feel the need to dumb down all of the information out there right now. Can none of us get a dictionary any more? Linda and several others, (Achenfan) send us all to our reference books, why can't we be smart?
Or at least teach?

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, CowTown, I know you're within flyover distance from me. Outsourcing and all kinds of other things are having their effect, but thank heavens for a college education. I hate to think of my collegues out ther without one. Eeek.

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Another one:

"comprised of"

That phrase is never correct. The whole comprises its parts. An orange comprises orange segments; the orange is compOSED of segments. The Boodle comprises Boodlers; it is not "comprised of" Boodlers.

Posted by: Tom fan | November 23, 2005 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Two things.

I wonder if the Boodle needs a new name. I love the name Boodle, but I'm just wondering if we need to move on. What if the kit (just thinking out loud here) became the garret and the boodle became the garage, also known simply as the 'rage, spelled Raj, and thus whenever there was a big uproar over something it would be a Raj rage. And sometimes I'd pop into the Raj but mostly would be in my garret.

The other thing is, I posted to our in-house critique the following three messages from today's Boodle:

Eyewitness Muse: "A couple suggestions (emailed previously and respectfully but never answered by staff): you have to check out the search engine--it consistently produces bizarre or incomplete results. For example, I tried to find this month's 'Sky Watch' column, nothing."
TBG, praising the Live Online chats, writes: " It looks like the Discussion links are updated to reflect the next day's chats before the Wa Po Online staff goes home at night. But many of us like to sit down in the evening and see what chats happened that day. These links are much harder to find; the "In Case You Missed It" page on the "Transcripts" link doesn't even show all the Discussions, just a sampling."
An American in Siam writes: "Perhaps an area to explore for future growth would be a THE ONION or THE DAILY SHOW type of section. Humor and comic eyepoking being a great leveler that quite often can make the world seem not so bad after all."

I hope everyone has a Happy Thankgiving! I will not be blogging until Monday, unless the world blows up. Thanks everyone for all the great boodling.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 23, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

TBG, anyone else,
From todays paper,(Mine)
"The City Council has been tasked"
"The Decision Impaced the Workforce"
"The storm impacted the county"
"The air base transitioned from surgery to a flight school."
Like fingers down a blackboard... :)

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan,
Your're so correct. I don't know why, (ok yes I do) correct English has a cadence and a correctness to it, when it gets messed with, it sounds pretentious and dumb. SCC for everything.

Posted by: RA | November 23, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

OK, Boss, if the world blows up, we expect to read about it in The Rough Draft. I'm holding you to it. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Posted by: CowTown | November 23, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Blog dead. Poor Blog. [snif]

Posted by: SadCow | November 23, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I thought JA meant that if the world blew up he would blog before Monday. But I guess I'm an optometrist.

Posted by: omnigoof | November 23, 2005 5:30 PM | Report abuse

you knows what i mean

Posted by: omnigoof | November 23, 2005 5:31 PM | Report abuse

word of warning: I'm drinking Becks bier while omnibad is hitting the blorph, so expect sum silliness in all possible posts from us.

Posted by: omnigood | November 23, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you still there? I'm trying to think of a way to e-mail something to you offline (without either of us posting our e-mail addresses). Got any suggestions?

Omni****, your "optometrist" made me snort soda out my nose. Nicely done.

Happy turkey, everyone!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will not do another turkey, but I might do some sweet potatoe pie in your honour!

Posted by: dr | November 23, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

JA suggests name change
BPH never the same
plese do not change name

Posted by: omnigood | November 23, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

the blorph is in
SCC:please not plese

Curmudgeon, I hope it was diet, cuase I hate regular.

Posted by: omnibad | November 23, 2005 6:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: SCC: | November 23, 2005 6:29 PM | Report abuse

blorph is bad for

Posted by: posting | November 23, 2005 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Diet, and caffeine-free. A twofer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 23, 2005 6:31 PM | Report abuse

that was bad

Posted by: omnigood | November 23, 2005 6:31 PM | Report abuse

blorphing, urp i mean posting out of order

Posted by: omni | November 23, 2005 6:33 PM | Report abuse

for me it must be with caf

Posted by: omniack | November 23, 2005 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Back to my regularly scheduled programming.
Back in a Jiffy Lube.

Posted by: omnigoof | November 23, 2005 6:37 PM | Report abuse


You just need to start your own blog and then anybody who wants to can go there and have semi-private conversations with you.

It's free.

Long live the blogosphere!

Posted by: Reader | November 23, 2005 7:23 PM | Report abuse

OK fellow 'boodlers, we've got to keep this thing going on our own for four days. Should we list what we're thankful for? With a group like this, that could take a couple of days right there.

I'll start....

I'm thankful for my new 'boodle friends.

(Oh, come on.. you KNEW I would be saying that).

Now it's your turn for something more original...

Posted by: TBG | November 23, 2005 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, I almost forgot the last part of my/David Uhler's three-part Thanksgiving story.

The Power of the Purse
Thanksgiving Day history, Part 3 (last)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt broke with [presidential] tradition [of proclaiming the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving] in 1939. Bowing to a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, which wanted to extend the holiday shopping season, the president pegged Thanksgiving on the next-to-last Thursday of November. Mass confusion ensued, according to a history of Thanksgiving on the Web site of the Library of Congress.

FDR's proclamation only applied to the District of Columbia and federal employees, but state governors traditionally followed the president's lead with their own proclamations for the same day. In 1939, however, 23 states observed Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, while 23 other states celebrated it on Nov. 30. Texas and Colorado had holidays on both days.

"Football coaches scrambled to reschedule games set for Nov. 30, the Library of Congress' Web site notes. "Families didn't know when to have their holiday meals, calendars were inaccurate in half the country and people weren't sure when to start their Christmas shopping."

Two years later, Congress introduced the legislation FDR signed--which permanently established the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day--to make sure future presidential proclamations wouldn't impact the scheduling of the holiday.

Fanklin Delano Roosevelt is a descendant of four founders of ancient Windsor, Conn.: blacksmith Eltweed Pomeroy, tanner John Strong, speculator and business investor Thomas Marshfield, and cowherder and deputy/grand juror/juror to the general court Thomas Ford. Each of these four gentlemen has an interesting story.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | November 23, 2005 9:07 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I am thankful for having a cozy little house with a yard big enough to play in - which for me means stuffing it full of beautiful plants.

Linda, thanks for posting your Thanksgiving stories. It's nice to know that Lincoln was the president who made it an official holiday. What a great man he was.

And to the frequent Kaboodlers, the lurkers, the newbies, the ones we haven't heard from in a while, and especially to Joel - Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 23, 2005 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm grateful that no one posted rabbit recipes today (although the fried squirrel comments made me squirm).

And may I recommend a couple of movies - Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (charming and fun and silly, which should suit most of us)

Good Night, and Good Luck (well done and relevant)

Linda, I've heard good things about Syriana although I haven't looked in the Post yet. Memoirs of a Geisha looks promising too - I haven't read the book yet but it's in my library pile.

Hope everybunny has a great holiday.

Posted by: Caged Rabbit | November 23, 2005 11:10 PM | Report abuse

everybunny, haha lol, good one Caged Rabbit. Hope you're out of your cage for the feast...

Posted by: omnigood | November 24, 2005 2:26 AM | Report abuse

I love the Post.

As far as I'm concerned they are certainly the leaders of the pack for breaking BIG stories.

My only knock is what someone else mentioned previously. I could not locate the public editors email address.

I had a question/comment about a Howard Kurtz article (11/22) that I read online in the wee hours of the morning, where I thought he misrepresented a Woodward statement from the Larry King appearance this week.

I had to send my email to the ombudsman because I could not find the email for the public editor. I assume that sending it to the ombudsman will delay the response.

Posted by: pmorlan | November 24, 2005 4:45 AM | Report abuse

Today's story on the arrests of antiwar protesters suggests several times that there was no identifiable opposition to the Iraq war until Cindy Sheehan appeared at the Bush's prefab "ranch" in Crawford TX in August.

Your reporter says that since then antiwar sentiment has "expanded" beyond the roads of Crawford. Actually, tens of millions of Americans in all parts of the country have opposed the war since before the invasion, and hundreds of thousands have marched in protest against it.

She further refers to Ms. Sheehan as the the most "pointed" critic of the war. Wrong again: Ms. Sheehan became the most visible and reported upon war protester, but tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of American citizens have made pointed criticism of this war throughout, in print and on-line through letters to the editor, questions to C-Span guests and presenters, comments to Congressional representatives, blogs, and guest columns -- this in addition to professional commentators like Joe Conason, Ariana Huffington, David Corn, and dozens of other constant critics.

Posted by: JayBee | November 24, 2005 5:49 AM | Report abuse

What would I like to see in the Post? I'd like to read about the GOOD things that our troops are doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd like to see the terrorists' daily body count alongside that of our own soldiers. I'd like to read articles that report the atrocities of the enemy, its brutality against Iraqis who are trying to create a new government. In other words, I'd like to see some balanced and firsthand stories that reflect the reality of our progress, not just the daily unrelenting doom-and-gloom. Where's the Post's Ernie Pyle and Murrow? Hiding in the relative safety of the Green Zone and the paper's offices in the DC area. Second-hand, third hand, I heard from somebody who heard from somebody else anonymous sources are bogus; I give no credence to such "information." Why would/should I?
Finally, and most importantly, I would like the Post to acknowledge the complaints of bias in its news stories made by conservatives instead of pooh-poohing them as far-right wing fanaticism. Since so many of its staff profess to be liberals and Democrats, the paper (imo) is unable to identify bias in-house, so it should hire someone one is outside the Beltway and the Washington blame game. Since the majority of voters in this country identify as conservatives and Republicans, such a move might help staunch the "dropping like a rock" subscription numbers. I doubt, however, any of this will happen, given the mindset of its newsroom. However, until it does, I will continue to read the online edition for my daily "what is the Left saying?" news so that my money does not go to support it. If the Post begins to charge for this service, it'll be ta-ta and I'm outtta here.

How far the standards of the Post have fallen since the days of Graham and Bradlee.

Posted by: Chrislynn | November 24, 2005 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Let me ask you something, Chrislynn... You say, "I'd like to see some balanced and firsthand stories that reflect the reality of our progress, not just the daily unrelenting doom-and-gloom."

Our progress? So far our progress has been to get rid of (albeit a bad man) a secular leader and set into motion the adoption of an untolerant religious government. We have let into a country terrorists who were not welcome there before.

You say to show "the atrocities of the enemy, its brutality against Iraqis who are trying to create a new government." The death toll of innocent Iraqis who are killed by these terrorist-murderers is on our heads. Our ill-planned invasion and subsequent occupation created this situation. Our government's plan to send in Americans to do the work that Iraqis should be doing set off these terrorists.

Who do you think built Iraq's infrastructure in the first place? There are millions of capable, ready-to-work Iraqis that are being shut out of the economy. Iraqis are watching their jobs go to foreigners. Does that sound familiar?

Granted, Americans aren't resorting to terrorism over the fact that some of our jobs are going overseas, but what if we had a foreign army occupying the U.S.? How do you think we would be reacting? Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT advocating or making excuses for the murderers in Iraq. But we do have to look at the entire picture. And we need real leaders who have everyone's best interest at heart to figure out how to get us out of there.

And you also say that the majority of Americans are conservative? Not true. Acccording to polls conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, more Americans do say they are conservative (35%) than liberal (22%), but even more say they are moderate (43%). I think the past two presidential elections have shown us that. But for a few votes in one state each time the outcome would have been different.

Posted by: TBG | November 24, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I have to read both your paper and the NY Times to feel I have gotten the main stories of the day.
Today I would like to have seen a story on how Dubya, Chertoff, Brownie and others are spending their Thanksgiving versus those dislocated by Katrina. Somebody scooped you on homes made available to those still in hotels: homes were offered by the hundreds but FEMA rejected the offer. Thanks to the light of the press, that decision is being revisited. More light from you would probably speed up the effort.
Avid news junkie that I am, my time is limited and I am still unsure if there are people living in the AstroDome. I fear that we are letting the story of the displaced slip away.

Posted by: DoubleVision | November 24, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

My paper edition of the Post has front page articles on Thanksgiving among the displaced. The gossip column has coverage of Thanksgiving among the wealthy and politically powerful. So Page A1 for the poor; third page of the fluff-news section for the powerful. Probably both should have been on A1, in order to hold feet to a fire. Then again, I haven't read the A1 stories yet, so they may do that. I probably won't read 'em; I have a house to clean, a feast to cook, and infrared spectroscopy of the atmosphere of Titan to understand and write about before COB tomorrow. I just happened to glance at the boodle while moving my computer out of the way.

Posted by: Tim | November 24, 2005 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Chrislynn, TBG is exactly right about the percentage of coinservatives in the country, but just for argument's sake, let's suppose you were right and "a majority of voters in this country identify as conservatives and Republicans." So freaking what? The Post should alter it's political stance because 51% or 52% of the entire country might be (in your biased opinion) conservatives/Republicans? There should only be newspapers representing "the majority" of voters? No "minority" papers allowed? What about the period 1992 to 2000, when Clinton was elected, let's see, how many times? Twice? Was it OK for the Post to be liberal then, but not OK now?

And what about this? Even if you were right, you are citing national statistics (or your view of them, anyway). That's an even bigger "So freaking what?" The Post, like the vast majority of newspapers, is a regional and local paper first. Does that mean it's OK (IYHO) to be a liberal regional paper if the region is liberal? And if the region is conservative, then it should be conservative? Let's see, D.C. itself is about 80 or 90 percent Democratic. Neighboring Maryland tends to be mostly Democratic most of the time. That leaves Northern Virginia, which is...gee, Chrislynn. NoVa tends to be mixed, too.

And, uh, you think those fuzzy-headed liberal reporters who are cowering in the Green Zone ought to be out in the field taking enemy body counts, so you can have the satisfaction of keeping a better score.
Let's see, how many journalists have died over there already? As of August 2004, more than a year ago, the number was 51. (Source: I was too ticked off to try to find a more recent figure. Fifty-one dead journalists not enough for you so far? I guess they were the ones too dumb to find safe haven in the Green Zone. Anyway, they were probably mostly liberals and foreigners anyway, so it's no great loss, right?

And you want the Post to stop pooh-poohing rightwing fanaticism.

Enjoy your turkey.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 24, 2005 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Tim, it's comments like this that keep me coming back to the boodle -
"infrared spectroscopy of the atmosphere of Titan to understand and write about"


Posted by: mostlylurking | November 24, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I haven't bought a WP for abt 18 months--conscious decision-- and I certainly wouldn't pay for the online edition.

You all should rename the rag Pravda on the Potomac and apply for government funds. Ought to be some kind of payoff out there for five years of editorial and national news knee-pad work. Woodward could lobby for you.

Actually Wp does have a current use for me:

I get 1-2 dead Sunday editions from my local convenience store and use them to drain deep-fried foods.

Tripas, squirrel, and Stove-top Stuffing stuffed with tripas(SST) are all exquisite when deep-fried and properly drained.

Posted by: Eric | November 24, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Chicken livers and gizzards too!

Posted by: Eric | November 24, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Anne Arundel County. Whenever the WaPo does an article with area or regional stats, you never seem to include it. That would be a much appreciated change.

Posted by: Xgiving in PA | November 25, 2005 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Somebody just e-mailed me the following, which is probably floating around the Internet somewhere. But if you haven't seen it yet (I particularly like the counting of the "22" steps at the end):

22 Easy Steps to Gooder Grammar

1. Don't abbrev.
2. Check to see if you any words out.
3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
4. About sentence fragments.
5. When dangling, don't use participles.
6. Don't use no double negatives.
7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
8. Just between You and i, case is important.
9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
10. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.
11. Its important to use apostrophe's right.
12. It's better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized.
15. a sentence should begin with a capital and end with a period
16. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
17. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas
to keep a string of items apart.
18. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
19. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
20. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
21. A writer mustn't shift your point of view.
22. Don't write a run-on sentence you've got to punctuate it.
24. A preposition isn't a good thing to end a sentence with.
25. Avoid clichés like the plague

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 9:12 AM | Report abuse


Hi, good to know I'm not the only one at "work" today...

That list would be funnier if the items on it weren't so familiar. (I mean: I see them too often in real life.)

Still, humor is welcome, especially since I was starting to experience the post-holiday let-down, Achenblog-deprivation depression. Is it lunchtime yet?

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm back here, too.

Posted by: Tim | November 25, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Tim--

Are ScienceTim and Tim the same person? (sorry if that's a dumb question)

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Yep, we are the same. I am ScienceTim when I presume to contribute in a technical area about which I can claim some bit of expertise; when it's just my opinion, it's Tim.

Posted by: Tim | November 25, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

That's what I thought. I was going to say, what's new in science today? But I wanted to be sure. SO--What's new in science today?

(What's new in my chosen Achenfield, literature, is that the New York Times is running their annual 100 Notable Books of the Year article. It's on my other window

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Tim, when you are Science Tim, what is your particular area of expertise/training?
(Just idly curious.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Tim, your explanation mirrors my own system perfectly. When I am commenting outside my area of expertise and\or knowledge, I use the name kurosawaguy. So far it has served in all cases.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 25, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Reader, without revealing more than you are comfortable with, what do you do within the field of Achenliterature? Presume from your handle you are in fact a reader at a publishing house?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, as I have said before, "my life is an open book"--I have no particular career; reading is my avocation (my "Achenfield", the subject that everything reminds me of, like Kurosawa films for K-guy). What I do for a living involves database management and can be summed up as "helping rich people make more money." I thought I was going to be an eccentric, unmarried elementary school teacher, but fate had other things in store.

What's your story?

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The usual checkered career of a J-school newspaper type, in and out and in again and out again of the newspaper business, with various side trips into the Dark Side (corporate writing, government, etc.). Sometimes I feel like one of those apostate Graham Greene characters, the priest/believer who loves the Church (in my case, the Church of Journalism) but hates it, too, and wants to leave it but can't. (Though I'm not Catholic, just using the metaphor.)(And I'm a Graham Greene fan.)

Somebody once said there are "10 traps" for a writer--booze, drugs, sex, early fame, money (too much or too little), ego, etc.--can't remember them all. But one of them was "domesticity"--the one thing on the list most people would never guess or anticipate. I am a victim of the trap of domesticity, and like the others the biggest part of the problem is it sneaks up on you, and you don't realize it until it is too late. (Would kinda like to have had to tackle, oh, too much money, or early fame, or too much sex, but no, I drew "domesticity." Jeez.)

(Anybody know that whole list of ten things?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The straight dope on ScienceTim/Tim:
I'm an astrophysicist, high-resolution infrared spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres, although I have some motivation to do some stellar work, too. My background is in straight physics, so I feel qualified to the extent that I remember the subject. I do a fair amount of education & public outreach work (E&PO), which has compelled me to become reasonably knowledgable about other areas in planetary science, and I've had to pick up some trivial familiarity with geology and geochemistry. And I absorb a lot of science outside my particular professional areas.

I'm also a professional storyteller on the side. I encourage all boodlers in the DC area to show up for local storytelling events, which you can find out about from the web site of the Washington Storytellers' Theatre (, Voices in the Glen (, or the Folklore Society of Greater Washington ( If you're not in the DC area, look for local storytelling, anyway.

My E&PO organization doesn't currently have a web site. We just transferred to a new home a few months ago, and we just got our final name arranged on Monday. Otherwise, I'd be happy to send you the URL. In keeping with my personal credo, I have nothing to hide, except for the amount of time I spend on this silly blog. One of these days, I really must develop a modicum of self-control. I'm scheduling that development for June 21, 2008.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 25, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

And, yes, I have my own web site as a storyteller:

You may feel free to hire me. But not for free.

Posted by: Tim | November 25, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

News item: "Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job."

This guy STILL just doesn't get it, does he?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

This is fun--anybody else out there have a story? No, I mean, is anybody else out there, and what's your story? Today's theme is how your work interferes with your life, and vice versa. Or, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. Or, whatever.

Tim, Curmugeon, and Kurosawaguy I am glad you stopped by the A-blog today because my office is relatively deserted (as is the blog, for that matter).

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

SCC!! Don't take offense, Curmudgeon, I'm sorry I spelled your "name" wrong!

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I know, my outfit is like a ghost town, too. Plus, since it's "dress-down Friday," I think I could have come in naked (if it wasn't so cold outside) and nobody would have noticed.

I don't think we've heard from K-guy yet, about his actual job.

Tim--your Web site seems to indicate you are a (recreational) sailor. Yes? No? What kind of boat(s)?

Loomis must be sleeping in this morning.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's a long, long story, but basically what it all comes down to is this- I am the world's leading authority on the spleen in extraterrestrial life forms. I have witnessed and\or conducted hundreds of alien autopsies in my career, and although we have not yet identified a single ET spleen, I have high hopes. That's really as much as I can reveal without proof of clearance or access to perform a memory wipe.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 25, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

There are people here! I thought I'd be feeling Achendeprived all alone.

I am not worthy. One plan for my life was to farm. Been there, done that, told the story. The one thing I never wanted to do was work in an office, ever. I thought simply working in an office would be boring. It is sometimes and I do... work in an office, that is, doing accounting. Not bad for someone who wrote poetry during high school math. Now that I think on it, my history has prepared me well for Achenblog. If I have the luxury of time and vision, I intend to get a degree in history after which I will proceed to do nothing at all with said degree but study more. I used to think it would just be medieval history, but as I read more and more classic literature, I find myself fascinated by all it all.

Posted by: dr | November 25, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm here too. (I'd rather be blogging than shopping.)

Say, did everyone see Tom's essay in the special Thanksgiving edition of the Magazine yesterday? Sigh. I wish I could write like that.

Unfortunately, the essay doesn't seem to be on-line yet. I tried entering "Tom Shroder" into's search engine, but the only thing that came up was Tom's Dumb Question on Dog Evolution. {How weird is that? It's almost as bad as when you Google the Achenbro and all you get is the Achenblog.) ;) :) "," ")"

[Speaking of the Achenbro, I wonder if he's ever attempted beer-butt turkey?]

Posted by: Tom fan | November 25, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

K-guy: You got a lot of 'spleening to do! (Hey, a little alien autopsy humor. Gimmee a break. It's not a subject that normally lends itself to much humor.)

I forgot about your occupation: you are the Quincy of Area 51. I remember now. (The memory wipe might be wearing off.)

Got a question you or Science Tim the astrofolkloretometrist might be able to answer: Why are the current crop of space aliens all so short? Is it due to smoking? When I was a kid, your average space alien was tall and imposing (if not downright threatening), viz., James Arness, Michael Rennie and Klaatu, the gigunda things that climbed out of those capsules that landed in New Jersey in 1939, et al.

Oh, and what's with the little internal light bulbs in their fingers and skinny chests? Or do only aliens from the planet Motel 6 have them?

(If the answers aren't classified, I mean. Sorry to be such a pest about these things, but I got four more hours to wile away.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

As nearly as we can figure, the limitation of statures among Off-Worlders has to do with the cramped nature of their intersteller vehicles. It's sort of like Space Mountain in reverse. "If you are taller than this sign, you can't go on the ride."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 25, 2005 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Jeezy-peezy, we're calling them "Off-Worlders" now? What, the PC police got to guys in Area 51? (And how did they get in?) The space aliens got all tetchy and "sensitive" about being called Space Aliens, Monsters, etc? Sheesh. Go ahead, tell me those awful reptilian aliens that went after poor Sigourney Weaver prefer to be referred to as "mucus-challenged"? Is there now going to be a Jerry Lewis telethon for the Victims of Runaway Salivary Gland Disorder?

On a different note, have you all seen the trailers for the new King Kong? I don't know whether to really like or really hate the idea of Jack Black taking the role once held by the likes of Bruce Cabot and Charles Grodin. My fear is that, since he's normally so over the top (which I like), if they tone him down a little, it'll be a waste of his overthetopitude. If ya know what I mean.

Hey, dr, hey, Tom fan. Welcome. It's like, one by one, all the pod people are slowly waking up and crawling out of their giant endive salad leaves, brushing away the foam, and joining the boodle. Cool.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim gets the prize for coolest job title - astrophysicist. It's like marine biologist, or architect. I do computer support for a large corporation, and people try to puff themselves up and call themselves "architects", when mainly what they do is listen to sales pitches from vendors. Or they "architect a solution", which I hate.

Anyway, Tim, it's even better that you're a storyteller too! Way cool.

As for me, I started out as a foreign language geek, then got into computers and have been there ever since. I figured out a few years ago that I should have been a copy editor. I have a knack for editing, but it's really hard for me to fill a blank page - which is why my dream of being a writer has never happened. I've always wanted to live on a farm too, but that hasn't happened either. I finally shrunk my expectations to a postage stamp sized yard in the city.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 25, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, ML.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the article "Your Mama Looks Like E.T." in last Sunday's Opinion pages? Here is a (slightly) condensed version:

"Accounts of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens have one eerie similarity. When serious researchers like psychologist Frederick V. Malmstrom have asked self-proclaimed abductees what their out-of-this-world kidnappers looked like, they inevitably describe beings with large heads, big eyes, gray skin, smooth features, a barely visible or absent mouth and smallish bodies.

"Malmstrom, a visiting scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy, now thinks he recognizes that face. It's Mommy -- or at least the image of a 'prototypical female face' that's hard-wired into a baby's brain and helps newborns instantly respond to their mothers.

"The key, researchers have concluded, is the eyes and nose. A newborn's blurry vision tends to soften facial features and smudge the eyes into large dark blobs. In fact, when Malmstrom optically altered a photo of a woman in a way consistent with the characteristics of a newborn's vision -- astigmatism, an extremely shallow focal plane -- the resulting face looked remarkably like those big-eyed aliens drawn by self-declared abductees, he reports in the latest issue of the magazine Skeptic.

"Virtually all of the [alien abduction] cases considered credible enough to study occurred when the abductees reported they were either falling asleep or were 'remembered' while the subject was under hypnosis. The feeling of being halfway between wakefulness and sleep is called a 'hypnagogic dreamlike state' and shares many of the same characteristics of being hypnotized.

"Malmstrom suspects that 'the alien face perceived in hypnagogic dreamlike states is also produced from the same primitive facial recognition template.' In this state, the mind reverts to basics to make sense of its imagined out-of-this-world surroundings, in this case summoning up the image of the archetypal mom, says Malmstrom."

-- From "Your Mama Looks Like E.T.," Washington Post, Sunday, November 20, 2005; Page B05

Posted by: Tom fan | November 25, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan,

Here's a Thanksgiving present for you, a feature article by Joel with an introduction by Tom, annotated by the guy who posted it on the internet. If you read it, you will understand why I'm still sad that Tropic Magazine is no more, seven years after it ceased publication.

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for giving me something wonderful to Read, Reader! I'm on it like white on rice . . .

Posted by: Tom fan | November 25, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm back, too.

I made a beer-butt turkey yesterday. It was great, except for the shrapnel. I put the can of beer in the bird but did not open it.

After about 3.5 hours, it blew, injecting brew in all the right parts, but also lots of aluminum, most of which I picked out.

I am such a jackass, I did not even tell my
bf and his family who came to dinner. But no one complained. They all liked it

Posted by: Douchebag | November 25, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Actually Curmudgeon, the new King Kong will feature Adrian Brody in the Bruce Cabot boy hero love interest role of Jack Driscoll. Jack Black plays Carl Denham the bulldozer bundle of energy film director leader of the expedition performed in the 1933 original by Robert Armstrong. This role was supposedly based on the personality of the first film's director Merian C. Cooper. I am glad to see that Peter Jackson has chosen to do the film as a period piece rather than updating it as in the vile 1976 remake with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. Brody seems to me a bit more of an Icabod Crane than a damsel rescuing, vine swinging he-man, but I'm willing to be persuaded.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 25, 2005 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, K-guy; you're right. I meant the Carl Denham character, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Reader, that's a great article about Paul. Maybe Joel will revisit it sometime - Paul's new album is the first one I've even listened to all the way through since his first solo album. He really benefited from having an editor who was willing to tell him, that's crap!

The only rock group that's had the same effect on me as the Beatles is U2. Interesting that they are known as hard workers too, plotting their rise to the top when they were 18 year olds in Ireland.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 25, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who want print editions of the Post in faraway places should note that in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Chiang Mai,
Thailand, and undoubtedly many other places in the world you can get a "digital fax" version of the Post about two hours after it is printed in DC. I've paid about $5 in both places and gotten a hard copy, slightly reduced in size, that contains every page of the original. The technology exists. I don't know why we don't have a storefront that does that in every city in the US for the Post and any other widely-read paper in the world.

Posted by: dc | November 25, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that's a great article, all right. That Achenbach fellow may have a career as a wordsmith in front of him.

In the article, he quotes the rock critic Albert Goldman as follows:

"Is it any wonder that Paul got a little bossy, betraying his impatience with Ringo (who had gotten worse over the years) or with an uptight, crib-boo guitarist like George, or a sullen, apathetic drug addict like John?"

My question is, can anyone define "crib-boo" for me?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 2:45 PM | Report abuse

How aboput some serious reportign on white phosphorous use by the military in Fallujah? This has been out there for over a week...

Posted by: TDC | November 25, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I wasn't sure what "crib-boo" was supposed to mean either, although apparently it's not a compliment. Paul speaks highly of George now - John too. I think Ringo and George's contributions to the "genius" of the Beatles is underrated. Which is the amazing thing about U2. They decided early on to credit their songs to the whole group, even though the music comes mostly from Bono and The Edge, and the lyrics exclusively from Bono. But they realized the contributions from the other two were important, and that no one of them would be as good without the others. Makes you wonder what the Beatles could have done if they'd stayed together or gotten back together at some point.

Interesting too, that Dylan, in the 60 Minutes interview, seemed a bit awe-struck by the songs he wrote in the 60's. He knows he can't come up with stunning lyrics like he did then - and said they just came to him.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 25, 2005 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Missed the 60 Minutes thing, ml, but was wowed by the PBS "No Direction Home" piece (on my Xmas list now that the CD is out). In a way, it is difficult to believe the wizened, semi-inarticulate Dylan of today was once that baby-faced kid who wrote that great stuff back then. I suspect the parallels between McCartney and Dylan, genius, and how genius fades, are pretty strong.

Gotta catch a bus...back after dinner.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 25, 2005 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Reader, thanks much for that article about McCartney. To tie it to the subject of this Kit, can you imagine any Sunday newspaper magazine (the few that still exist) publishing an article that long? I don't think either the Post or the New York Times would take up that much editorial space now. Hell, The New Yorker might not print one that long nowadays.

It would be interesting to hear any comments that either Tom the Butcher or Joel have about that article. I think it needs some more editing - some points seem to go on too long for me - but I'd like to hear what Tom fan thinks. In any case, thanks to Joel for including a paragraph from Lester Bangs. I'm not sure there's anyone writing rock criticism like that today.

Posted by: pj | November 25, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what "crib-boo" means either. At first I thought maybe baby talk, but that doesn't really make sense within the context of the sentence (alongside "uptight"). Maybe it means childish? As in Wah Wah? (George was the youngest Beatle, after all.) Bah. What the bleep would I know. When I find out what it really means I'll probably feel like a bit of a nitwit.

Posted by: Dreamer | November 25, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Let's see:
Sailing is something I used to do. Now I have a small sailboat that I use in the traditional way -- it keeps my driveway from blowing away in a strong wind, although it is helping the driveway to slide downhill.

Science news of the day -- no idea. I haven't seen the latest Alien Spleen Weekly. I'm hunkered in the bunker, trying to get out a paper -- nothing earth-shaking, an incremental contribution. Unfortunately, it's an increment that I won't get out the door today.

Aliens -- I think they are now depicted as little guys as we move out of the "bigger is better" phase of American society and come to revere tiny efficient things. Big Aliens were aliens who were more mighty than us; Small Aliens are aliens who are more efficient and effective than us. Looks like a fear of inadequacy in either case. It's also probably an effort to differentiate from earlier depictions that is easier than coming up with something truly alien. On Stargate, you've got to admit that it's funny to have the alien who played the part of the Norse god Thor be a tiny little shrimpy guy 4 feet tall. You would think they might have at least made him a burly 4-footer, like Gimli.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 25, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It's Tom the Surgeon, pj; Tom the SURGEON. Sheesh!

One thing I found interesting about the Tom/Joel John/Paul piece is that it was written approx. 15 years ago. As brilliant as the article is, it shows that neither Tom's surgical skills nor Joel's writing skills had yet reached the exceptional standard we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy today.

[I anticipate a visit from the "Suck Up Detective" in the near future.]

As for the length of Sunday magazine articles generally, I think we still see some fairly long stories in the WP Magazine today -- only they don't *seem* long, because of the way they're written and edited. The style is very crisp. (Also, I'll concede that the long stories we see today cover a lot of ground that probably justifies their length; they present many sides of often-complex issues. The equivalent of Joel's April 1990 John/Paul story might not be as long if it ran in the Magazine today.)

But again, what the bleep would I know. Tom may very well be ready to butcher me when -- actually, IF -- he reads this. Joel too.

Posted by: Tom fan | November 25, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

douchbag, I've been laughing since I read about your beer butt chicken. Its a good thing that my office is empty or they would all think I am nuts. They are all out because this is Grey Cup weekend. One Football game preceeded by many days of parties, junk food and beer. Baltimore was part of the CFL for a couple years, and last I heard, though the team is long gone, there still are people who come up from Baltimore for the week just for the party.

Posted by: dr | November 25, 2005 5:35 PM | Report abuse

re: "crib-boo"

I think it's a typo, meant to be "crib-book"--that goes with the "uptight," implying that George isn't a loose, artistic, improvisational kind of musician, but rather the kind who plays the song the same way every time.

Posted by: Reader | November 25, 2005 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"One plan for my life was to farm. Been there, done that, told the story."

dr - you didn't tell me the story. i'd love to hear it. or read it somewhere. (i've been dreaming about farms these days...)

Posted by: ot | November 25, 2005 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link. Now I can connect with storytellers in my area.

Posted by: DoubleVision | November 26, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I am spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Which is cool because they are fun people with a well stocked bar and open minds. Also, they have an extensive collection of this obscure magazine known as "National Geographic." Those of you who do not have a subscription, be sure to get one. Our favorite Joel is a regular contributor, and his columns are well worth the price of admission. Even better than the naked natives. Well, almost better...

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 26, 2005 5:06 PM | Report abuse

That's "nude."

Posted by: Tim | November 26, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I am not sure I get the distinction between "nude" and "naked"-although I have been lead to understand that "naked" and "nekkid" are significantly different. In any case, the point I want to make is that if any readers of the Boodle are unaware that Joel writes regularly for National Geographic, they should be sure to find some copies and read his columns. Whether they do so nude, naked, or in some other state, is entirely up to them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 26, 2005 6:40 PM | Report abuse

.premptive SCC (um clothesless?)
i thought that was clothesless


Posted by: omnigoof | November 26, 2005 6:48 PM | Report abuse

possible SCC:boodle out of oder?

intent malfunction: the c word was lined up perfectly in the comments window, one above the other (the period was there for effect,SCC:again?)

Achenfan, I fell your pain.


Posted by: omnigoof | November 26, 2005 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The Post has definitely gotten too cozy with power. Why on earth did Dana Priest agree to hide from her readers which Eastern European countries are home to the U.S. torture centres? Why does Bob Woodward care more about protecting sources like Dick Cheney than in informing his readers about Bush administration crimes?
Cozy, cozy, cozy.

Posted by: John Wilson | November 26, 2005 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Why? Because those were the rules in effect at the time of the interviews, and Priest and Woodward understand something which you clearly don't, which is that if you violate those rules, you'll soon be out of business.

The only argument one might make is that the reporter shouldn't have made the agreement. And sometimes that could certainly be a valdid complaint. But it can NEVER be a valid complaint that, after making such an agreement (good, bad or indifferent), it's OK to break it.

But we've all been over this a thousand times, now, and I suspect you already know it. The burden isn't on Priest or Woodward to defend the rules; the burden of argument is on you to explain why they should break the rules, publish one (and only one) story, and therefore effectively end their careers. And you can't do it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 26, 2005 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Priest never made any such agreement in return for the information that was the basis for her story. The Post agreed ex post facto to the administration's request to censor the information she had gathered.
As for Woodward, he should know that the principle of source protection is meant to protect whistleblowers -- not to help the powerful punish whistleblowers, and do so with impunity. That's what was done by Woodward's "source" who tried to use Woodward to out Plame in order to punish whistleblower Wilson. Ever eager to curry favor with his White House sources, Woodward thought his duty to protect this source outweighted his duty to inform his readers of an administration crime. He even went so far as to spin on his source's behalf on national network television.
At a certain point, source protection becomes an alibi to complicity with administration crimes. Woodward and the Post are by now so co-opted that neither seems able to see that basic point.
The Washington Post: mouthpiece for the powerful.

Posted by: John Wilson | November 26, 2005 11:32 PM | Report abuse

You are absolutely right: Woodward thought his duty to protect this source outweighed his duty to inform readers. Yes! You finally got it! Even if it's a bad bargain, even if in hindsight blah blah blah, your first duty is to protect the source. Hulllloo-oh! That's what some of us have been saying. ('Cause, see, those are the rules. You don't like the rules? Fine. Don't play the game. Or get everybody to agree to change the rules.)

For a minute there, I thought you'd never get it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 26, 2005 11:48 PM | Report abuse

OT (hanging head in shame) It was the day I yelled at Mike.

The long view and final result is that whenever I see my world as under stress, I buy vast quantities of legumes.

Posted by: dr | November 27, 2005 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I subscribed to the online version of the Wa Po today`s worth every penny.`s free, but let`s move on. I have a beef about a quote from your opine piece on the " No Child Left Behind " program.

"The trouble is, there isn't any evidence that American schools or American teachers are making great progress in the classroom. On the contrary, the results of recent standardized tests show that on average American children are making very little progress."

Without bolstering that notion with a few facts for us cynical types, the writer forges ahead. According to the NAEP`s 2005 assessment results, mathmatics performance improved for the nation across the board. The average scores among Black, Hispanic and White students were higher in 2005 than any previous assessment year. Reading was a mixed bag, but still a modestly positive trend. I realize the column was an opinion and that phrases like "very little progress" are subjective, but the fact remains that scores are improving. I don`t expect a "Tribute to our President, Education Reformer" column anytime soon but I thought I`d address this one item.

Posted by: bender | November 27, 2005 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Neo-cons!! Moonbats!! Secularists!! Theocrats!! Multi-culties!! Race baiters!

Whew...Now this looks more like a typical blog.

Posted by: bender | November 27, 2005 1:59 AM | Report abuse

No, Curmudgeon, I get it all too well. YOu clearly have no problem with the Post censoring newsworthy information that one of its reporters learned so that it can curry favor with the Bush administration - which is precisely what happened with Priest's story. No source-protection issues there: the Post knows where the secret U.S. torture centres are in Eastern Europe but is hiding that information from its readers - not to respect some deal with a source but simply to abide by a request from the Bush administration. The administration is happy; we readers are left in the dark.
As for Woodward, your argument appears to be that source protection should weigh so heavily in a reporter's mind that it should lead him help cover up an administration crime. Woodward knew a senior White House official had leaked Plame's name and status to him. Rather than report this information (which wouldn't necessarily have required him to name his source), he concealed it from his readers and, moreover, acted as an advocate for this source and his interets on national television, never letting on his own involvement.
That leads me to believe that Bob Woodward is a dishonest, manipulative phoney - a man so co-opted by the Bush White House that his loyalties are less with reporting the truth than with preserving access to his club of administration buddies.
In both cases, valuable, newsworthy information was withheld from readers - not to protect sources, but to protect the administration.
Get it?

Posted by: John Wilson | November 27, 2005 2:11 AM | Report abuse

In the fourth sentence: "subcribers"

Posted by: spellcheck | November 27, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Welcome bender! You're right. I think we have all learned how to "make the truth by saying it" just like our fearless leaders in the administration. Don't like the way things really are? Then just say they are the other way! Works like a charm every time. Even got this bunch elected twice.

The Post has no business doing it, either. Above all, even editorial writers should be (or have) fact checkers.

And one of the things that's so dangerous now is trying to back up your ideas with "facts" from the Internet. Anyone can publish anything. Every blog now looks official--and they even show up in Google News searches. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, so that great site can't really be relied on for the truth every time.

Are we overloading ourselves with "truth"? I guess that's the question for the day.

Posted by: TBG | November 27, 2005 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Since we may choose not to pay to read the columnists at the NYT, your columnists may become the go-to read of the day. So my suggestion is to make sure your op-ed section is nothing less than excellent. Woodward has lost his credibility because he actually tolds us that we aren't important to him. Just listen to that! So find writers who will really work for US, who will be both accurate and provoking, and we will read them consistantly. Good columns bring readers. Oh--secrecy? I believe good journalism and secrecy are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: gail | November 27, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I think the dif between "nude" and "naked" is "nude" is art and "naked" is..every thing else but some beaches

Posted by: omnigoof | November 27, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge for taking care of all of that.

Posted by: newkidontheblog | November 27, 2005 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind welcome. Your summation of common "truth" was righteous humor and right on.

"Don't like the way things really are? Then just say they are the other way!"

Lol. Comedic excellence is often borne of emotional trauma and ongoing angst. Let`s all hit the stage!

"Are we overloading ourselves with "truth"? I guess that's the question for the day."

Nope. Take all you can carry. I read everything I can get my hands on in an attempt to form some rational perspective on topics I care about or find interesting. Sifting through the staggering volume of information and disinformation available online, in print and (*gags ) on t.v. is good, twisted fun. I particularly enjoy the mindless partisan bickering/posturing/rump-biting of our elected officials and their screaming fans. Gotta go.

Posted by: bender | November 28, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

One suggestion - remove that silly Sudoku game, I'm sure no one plays it. Actually here in Harrisburg they just added it to our local paper, and it is quite entertaining because the square takes up about 1/8 of the broadsheet. People here are kinda dim though, so maybe they need to be able to write all 9 numbers in each box then erase the ones that don't work.

Posted by: Gene | November 28, 2005 12:21 PM | Report abuse

After Americans have been sold so many things that aren't good for it, is it possible to convince it that changing it's diet would be good for it? Or are all of it's citizens addicted to sacchrine? Would they know real food if it showed up and said, "What you're eating isn't really food, it's an ad campaign that sells you what they need you to do, and make you eat it and pay for it too....and you don't have a choice, because you have Pavlovian responses to words like homo, gun control, gay marriage, patriotism, they-attacked-US-and-threatened-your-masculinity-on-another-ohsopredictable-level." How sad, so much and yet with so little, how pathetic....and the people in control have no choice but to frame their responses to things in a way that meet the current spun projections of the "way things are." Take a chance and look at the way things really are....there are choices, and good food actually tastes like good about giving us some and knock off the with the left overs.

Posted by: It's about the truth | December 1, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey kids, don't be afraid....we'll talk about petty stuff later....and you can watch all the teevee you want and and we'll eat LOTS of eye-candy...and you can buy lots of things you don't need, just 'cause your neighbors got one....and you need one too. Hamsters on a wheel....reet....reeet.....reeeet. Going for the gold.

Posted by: Apparently not | December 7, 2005 6:50 PM | Report abuse

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