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"Field Notes From a Catastrophe"

    It's Global Warming Tuesday! Always a fun day on the blog. This morning I started "Field Notes From a Catastrophe," by Elizabeth Kolbert. I have only read a little bit but already I have a feeling that, in the end, everyone's gonna die. I have a sixth sense when it comes to stuff like that. For example, I can tell, just from the title, that it's not a comedy.

    She opens her tale in an Eskimo village on an island in the Bering Sea, where the sea ice has gotten so soft and slushy in the spring that people can no longer hunt seals using snowmobiles. Soon we're near Fairbanks, where the permafrost is steadily melting, turning into what the Russians call "talik." Deep holes in the permafrost, called thermokarsts, appear here and there where the permafrost gives way. The way Kolbert describes it, it's as though the terrain is breaking out in a pox. It's straight out of a disaster movie.

    'Across the road, Romanovsky pointed out a long trench running into the woods. The trench, he explained, had been formed when a wedge of underground ice had melted. The spruce trees that had been growing next to it, or perhaps on top of it, were now listing at odd angles, as if in a gale. Locally, such trees are called "drunken." A few of the spruces had fallen over. "These are very drunk," Romanovsky said.'

    I met Kolbert a few days back at the AAAS meeting in St. Louis, where she received a prize for her stories in The New Yorker about global warming (which turned into Field Notes). She was smart and charming, as you would expect, and a group of us hit the Annals of Improbable Research party and then the hotel bar. Her life of writing for The New Yorker while living in some quaint college town in New England sounded rather spiffy. I considered seething with jealousy. I mulled the possibility of frothing over with envy. (I settled for the usual self-loathing.) I couldn't help but notice that the AAAS science-journalism prizes went to really talented people like Kolbert who work for top-tier journalistic institutions, such as The New Yorker and Nova, whereas the Achenblog was ignored (shunned?) once again. The situation reminds me of that recent New Yorker cartoon with the starlet who bitterly complains to a friend (I'm pulling this from memory), "Have you noticed that all the good roles are going to the really good actresses?"

     This is the second day in a row we've had to discuss The New Yorker, and we shall desist. But I do want to mention something I think I heard Calvin Trillin say once, when he came to talk to a writing class circa 1982. He said people were always asking him how he managed, again and again, to write humor that was just a little bit funny -- gently humorous, civilized, New Yorkerish -- but not super laugh-out-loud, bust-a-gut, knee-slapping, spittle-spewing hilarious. Trillin's answer: "Actually, I'm going pedal to the metal."

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 28, 2006; 9:53 AM ET
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Next: Boodlers Rescued From Doomed TypePad DeathStar


Just in case I'm batting leadoff, let me point out that I'm just trying to lay down a bunt and beat it out for a hit. That's all.

In a movie trailer, if somebody says "nobody get hurt" or "nobody gets killed," then any number of folks are sure to get hurt and killed.

Posted by: Bayou Self | February 28, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Okay, somebody pick up a bat and get up there.

Posted by: Bayou Self | February 28, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Infield fly rule is not in effect.

Posted by: Bayou Self | February 28, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

You know the saying, "A bunt single is as good as a walk."

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I have been reading about the Back Death lately. It killed around half of Europe. This horrific death toll was partly because of the relatively primitive technology of the time. However, this same lack of technological sophistication within the society also made it easier to recover from these waves of death.
This got me thinking about global warming. Clearly our technological infrastructure, in addition to contributing to global warming, makes us much more vulnerable to its effects. Given that I fear nasty things are coming from global warming, what can we do to prepare? What scenario planning can we do? We need smart people to think about this. I suggest we not leave it to DHS (although I personally know some fine, fine people who work there.) Instead, I am counting on this blog to lead the way.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Hard for a real leadoff batter to start off one of these -- he'll take two strikes just to make the pitcher work.

Posted by: jg | February 28, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

A friend e-mailed me this an hour or so ago:

Climate scientists issue dire warning

David Adam, environment correspondent
Tuesday February 28, 2006
The Guardian

The Earth's temperature could rise under the impact of global
warming to levels far higher than previously predicted, according to
the United Nations' team of climate experts.

A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) report will tell politicians that scientists are now
unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere
will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase. The report draws
together research over the past five years and will be presented to
national governments in April and made public next year. It raises
the possibility of the Earth's temperature rising well above the
ceiling quoted in earlier accounts.

Such an outcome would have severe consequences, such as the collapse
of the Greenland ice sheet and disruption of the Gulf Stream ocean current.
The shift in position comes as Tony Blair is expected to pledge
today to work towards a date for stabilising international
greenhouse gas emissions when he meets Stop Climate Chaos, the
climate change equivalent of Make Poverty History. The group is
campaigning for a target date of 2015 for stabilisation, saying a
later date would endanger the planet.

The new IPCC report will underpin international talks on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions when the first phase of the Kyoto protocol
expires in 2012.
Set up in 1988 by the UN, the IPCC brings together hundreds of
experts to summarise the state of climate science for policymakers.
It has produced three reports since 1990, each of which has been
instrumental in establishing national and international strategies
to address global warming. Government officials have until June to
comment on the new draft, when scientists will gather in Bergen,
Norway, to produce a final version.

The IPCC's removal of the upper temperature estimation is posited on
new predictions about how the atmosphere would react to the carbon
blanket wrapped around it. The three previous reports assumed that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase average
global temperature by between 1.5 and 4.5C. Since then, computer
models have foreseen increases as high as 11C, and some scientists
wanted the naturally conservative IPCC to raise the upper end of the range. Others said such a move would be increase would be misleading
and alarmist.
According to sources who have seen it, the draft now assumes a
doubling of carbon dioxide would cause a likely temperature rise of
between 2 and 4.5C, but says higher increases are possible.

The shift follows several high profile studies convincing some
scientists the atmosphere may be much more sensitive to greenhouse
gases than they had thought. Peter Cox, a leading climate expert at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Winfrith, Dorset, said: "The
scientific agenda has moved from improving the predictions to
thinking about what are the chances of something awful happening."

Dr Cox said the IPCC's move is significant because it will force
governments to seriously consider extreme scenarios that are
unlikely but potentially devastating. "The most probable thing is
not the most important thing to worry about. The upper end is where
the big problems are, because the impact rises as the temperature does."
If we continue to burn fossil fuels at current rates, levels of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reach 550 ppm (parts per
million) - double pre-industrial levels - by around 2050. The most
recent IPCC report, published in 2001, said this would increase
global temperatures by between 1.4 and 5.8C by 2100, and that sea
levels would rise by between 0.09 and 0.88 metres.

Climate scientists remain divided about the likelihood of the
worst-case scenario being realised. James Annan, a British climate
scientist who works on the Japanese Earth simulator supercomputer in
Yokohama, says the risks of extreme climate sensitivity and
catastrophic consequences have been overstated. He is about to
publish a study showing that the chance of climate sensitivity
exceeding 4.5C is less than 5%. He said: "It seems to me that some
people seem to be talking up the possibility of disaster in order to
scare people into doing something."
Dave Stainforth, a climate modeller at Oxford University, said:
"This is something of a hot topic but it comes down to what you
think is a small chance - even if there's just a half per cent
chance of destruction of society, I would class that as a very big risk."
The IPCC findings mirror a British report on avoiding dangerous
climate change published last month, in which Mr Blair admitted that the risks may be more serious than previously thought. It included a
warning from Chris Rapley, head of the British Antarctic Survey,
that the huge west Antarctic ice sheet may be starting to
disintegrate, an event that would raise sea levels around the world by five metres. "The last IPCC report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change," he said. "I would say it is now an awakened giant. There is real concern."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 28, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

That, and by taking a pitch or two, you settle down. That brief burst of adrenaline fades. You get a feel for the ump and the strike zone. You step out and spit, and then tap the bat against one of your shoes. Then you step back in and focus.

I know I'm way early with the baseball references, but spring training is underway. And where I'm at, it's warming up nicely today. Unless the warming is due to climate change, in which case it's warming up badly.

Posted by: Bayou Self | February 28, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Are we talking baseball or permafrost here, guys? I'm totally confused(as usual).

Just wonder if anyone would crawled through shards of glass for me, albeit, I am not blue-eyed and blond? Probably not. My, my, the things we say and do. Just plain old me, black, brown eyes, really curly hair, and let's not forget, I am a fatty. I'm so glad I am loved, and loved by Him that created me, because He saw the beauty in me, and those like me. May God bless each and every heart, no matter the cover, through the One that died for us, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 28, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

And then, after getting on base, you look for someone like Curmudgeon to hit you in.

Posted by: Bayou Self | February 28, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

You're shard-worthy in my book, Cassandra (which BTW is my middle daughter's name).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 28, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

>where the sea ice has gotten so soft and slushy in the spring that people can no longer hunt seals using snowmobiles

Ah, so sad to see the ancient ways die out!

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

At my age, I'll take the walk over the bunt.

I've been talking about the WAIS and global warming for about a decade - and in community planning for places like Cedar Key have been given icy stares. I may not live to see it, and that's good.

Doomsday prophets ala Yeats and Velikovsky are considered less credible than the epitaph "See, I told you I was sick."

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Error, it's back to kayak time. Come to think of it, the kayak v. canoe debate has already taken place..

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh Boy! Science time. Tell us the part about the drumlins and eskers again Uncle Joel, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 28, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

You want a sad tale from the land of the permafrost? It doesn't get much more tragic than this, an intellectual property that actor Kevin Spacey was, at one time, very interested in turning into a movie. Spacey writes the forward to the book:

Give Me My Father's Body : The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo

At last returning to print, Give Me My Father's Body is the thought-provoking tale of Minik, a young Inuit boy brought to New York by Robert Peary around the turn of the 20th century. Told simply and interspersed with personal letters and newspaper clippings, the book examines Minik's life both as a cross-cultural meeting place and a deeply personal search for a place to call "home."

Photographs throughout of Minik give a glimpse into the incredible differences between the multiple worlds he inhabited, and how impossible it must have been to live in these worlds successfully. The title derives from one of Minik's more harrowing experiences--finding his father's bones displayed in a natural-history museum as a "curiosity"--and his attempts to retrieve the bones for a more respectful burial.

Author Kenn Harper, while including many facts and articles about Arctic exploration, refrains from sharing opinions about the various explorers or their methods, choosing to share this story--and his years of research--plainly.

From the death of Minik's birth father to the financial ruin of his American foster family, the events of Minik's childhood seem like one disaster after another, and his adulthood--the successful return to Greenland, followed by disappointment and a subsequent return to New York--is an unhappy struggle to find some kind of personal fulfillment.

Questions of racial and cultural differences make an inescapable larger framework for Minik's life, and the emotions brought forward in answering those questions make reading this book a powerful experience.

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of baseball and "Field Notes from a Catastrophe"...

Freud would have had a field day in our family.

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I became concerned about global warming during the last century.

My response: a new house on top of a hill, but rigged the foundataion with drainage and sump pumps. You never know.

I'm quietly gathering equipment to put up windmills in a hurry. If the infrastructure collapses during a big climate change, one thing you can count on is a strong headwind.


Posted by: bc | February 28, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe reading this one--Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye"--since Joel writes of envy, and Cassandra writes about the comfort and beauty of her own skin:

You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.... And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it.

There are far uglier things in the world than, well, ugliness, and poor Pecola is subjected to most of them. She's spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is--yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye.

This vein of self-hatred is exactly what keeps Morrison's novel from devolving into a cut-and-dried scenario of victimization. She may in fact pin too much of the blame on the beauty myth: "Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion." Yet the destructive power of these ideas is essentially colorblind, which gives The Bluest Eye the sort of universal reach that Morrison's imitators can only dream of. And that, combined with the novel's modulated pathos and musical, fine-grained language, makes for not merely a sophisticated debut but a permanent one.

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The conjunction of several events, what Carl Jung might have called a "synchronicity" - or meaningful coincidence in time -led me to compare the ancient rivers and coastline of that part of Iraq formerly known as (no, not Prince) Babylonia/Karduniash. The coastline was, at the time civilization began, about a hundred miles closer to Baghdad. Places like Eridu (see Song of Gilgamesh), Ur and Nasariyah were in the Sealands area of the Persian Gulf. Waterfront property being more valuable, investment in Nasariyah may be a good idea after the present unpleasantness has passed. Providing, of course, that civilization does not end where it may have begun.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Haven't we hashed this global warming thing over and over? You talk like its important. Some polar bears lose their homes and people in Tahiti have to build the grass huts a little taller. So what?

Two weeks ago we were all bitching about gas prices and bragging about how low we keep the thermostat. Make up your mind.

You are missing the positive aspects. Start looking for those silver linings.

More room in the coat closet.
Wearing shortsleeves to the park if and when the Orioles and Nationals meet in the World Series.
Submarine tours of Venice.
Beachfront property in Arizona.
Water skiing in Central Park.

Super special bonus: No more stupid Winter Olympics.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 28, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

On the subject of eye color, maybe blue is on the way out...,,2087-2058688,00.html

Posted by: jg | February 28, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

>I'm quietly gathering equipment to put up windmills in a hurry.

bc, I did some research on this because I have a very reliable north-south wind coming over the fields. If you find something reasonable do let us know. Everything I looked at turned into $30-40k when you add the battery system. I thought it still might be doable if you just grin and bear it when the wind's down.

And yes, the house is also on a hill with a retention basin next door. By the time any water gets to my door most of the eastern seaboard would be underwater.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

All those avoidable deaths in Europe. If only they had had chiropractors.

Oh, the humanity.

Posted by: md 20/400 | February 28, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm a do-it-yourselfer kinda guy, and a bit of a junkyard/dumpster diver, so I hadn't even looked at kits or existing products.

Got a couple of generators, some pulleys of various diameters, some CV joints and driveshafts, a couple of transmissions, and a friend who lives near an airfield and can get end-of-service-life prop assemblies for next to nothing. Just haven't been motivated to get over there to look 'em over, or to bite the bullet on aluminum or stainless tubing.

No hurry. Yet.

I suppose I'll be out there McGyvering it together when the poop hits the fan (as it were), having spent too much time blogging or watching GA.

When it all goes to hell, $30 -$40k might not seem like all that much money...


Posted by: bc | February 28, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Found this on Gene's chat. For area folks, it's hilarious. For others, not so much.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 28, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Global warming? You can't pass that farce off on me for all the beans in Texas!

Posted by: Cheesehead | February 28, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

jg writes:

First, I learn that I'm a mutant in terms of the calcium-sensing receptors. Then at the start of the year I learn I'm a mutant as far as skin color. Now jg informs me that I'm a mutant in terms of eye and hair color. Sheesh! When does it end, I tell ya!

And to learn on top of all this--this potpourri of genetic soup--that my ilk are a dying breed! Martin Luther said if he knew the world were ending tomorrow, he'd plant a tree today.

*returning to plant spring blooms in the garden*

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

And that's a lot of beans, folks, not to mention Artic beans. Heard of them? Well Artic beans require the most heat - you have to hit 'em with a blow torch. But once you get 'em good and hot, stand back because they'll blow a hole in the permafrost clear through to Australia and we'll all be up to our ears in icewater. Which is good if you're from NFL
on waterfront property near a "refreshment stand" like some folks around here.

Posted by: Cheesehead | February 28, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

>When it all goes to hell, $30 -$40k might not seem like all that much money..

True, but it sure is now. I'm inclined to wait until the "end is near" and then probably cobble as you mentioned. I'll have to dust off the old electric motors & generators book too, I've been living in digital-land for too long.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

In fact, windmills would be a GOOD thing, a very good thing, in that eventuality.........

Posted by: cheesehead | February 28, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Cheesehead writes:
Global warming? You can't pass that farce off on me for all the beans in Texas!

We've got pintos by the passel-load. Just remember to keep your Sears mail order catalog in the outhouse!

Cheesehead, if you're not from Texas, jis know that you're messin' with what comes under the heading of my bidness.

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Partying with the Improbable Research guys -- Marc Abramoff and company! Here is where I struggle with the envy and jealousy stuff -- but stay away from the self-loathing minefield.

I've read tons on global warming for years now; wish folks could understand it's not just about the end of polar bears or wearing shorts most of the year.

I'll settle for the fact that my once arch-conservative father (W has pushed him towards the center) used to believe the warming debate was all just liberal propaganda. He now believes otherwise (this may have something to do with my ending of our verbal wars on this topic).

sigh . . .

Posted by: anon | February 28, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Loomis writes:
We've got pintos by the passel-load..
Cheesehead, if you're not from Texas, jis know that you're messin' with what comes under the heading of my bidness.

Ah that humble dicot, phaseolis vulgaris frijol pinto! Sierra, Burke, Othello, Maverick and Anasazi.

Othello? Wait a minute.....

These pinto beans mean bidness.

Posted by: Cheesehead | February 28, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Linda that thar Sears Rareback catalog ain't no dang good- too many slicky color pitchers. Get you a phone book, big one, some place like San Angelo or Waco, or even Dallas if'n it's a two holer. Books from little spots like Karnes City and Langtry don't last no time atall.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 28, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Now out west we hear about the spotted pinto bean and, well, it's impolite to snicker and folks down south whose chromosomes are just a little addled on account of some just can't take the heat.
Here, we have Black turtle beans, the brassy, swaggering frijol negro:Domino, Black Magic, Blackhawk, and Nighthawk.
Wanna talk bidness?

Posted by: cheesehead | February 28, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Now we're getting warmer:
The light green Flageolet bean is taken very seriously in France and soon the heirloom Chevrier will come under a controlled label reminiscent of the wine "Appellation d'Origine Controllée" called "Label Rouge".

This bean is so potent it's a controlled substance! But is consumed with every meal
in France and Spain (remember they have siesta there).

Chevrier (gives goat cheese it's zip)
Elsa (roars)
Flambeau ("speaks" for itself)
Flamingo (and we're back to NFL)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you wouldn't also happen to be a mutant Ninja turtle, would you? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 28, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse
By Patrick Radden Keefe
Commentary: Your telephone company is most likely cooperating with federal wiretapping programs. And guess what? It's illegal.
February 24, 2006

Posted by: ANON | February 28, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Just back from the refreshment stand on the corner, Cheesehead, but they're limited to beer and cheesey wines like Ripple Redeux, Diego Rouge, and Red Zinger NFL Iced Tea.

Solar is the way to go in NFL, although we do get some pretty good winds blowin' in from Texas.

We might even consider hydropower if the creek keeps risin'

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the stories I could tell! I've been meaning to e-mail you, but am going to mtg tonite re: sprucing/reconfiguring grounds in front of Alamo.

Spater, alligator! (The turtle part no. You know the symbolism for turtles in Native American culture, don't you?)

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry cheesehead, the only Domino I know is the game and the white sugar. (See Mintz on the history of sugr.)

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Forget global warming. Worry about litter boxes.

Belated SCC: Black Death, not Back Death, although the latter is funny. At least I didn't talk about the Boobonic plague.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Langtry--oh, Lillie Langtry!

Posted by: Loomis | February 28, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

AUTHOR: cheesehead
DATE: 02/28/2006 03:48:26 PM

Posted by: cheesehead | February 28, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

For a hilarious take on the phone company spying on us, see "The President's Analyst" starring James Coburn. Pat Harrington (Schneider from "One Day At A Time") has a great part in it too.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 28, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

RDP says:

>Forget global warming. Worry about litter boxes.
The Natty G article says:

"The way sea otters get infected is from the oocysts shed in cat feces," Conrad concluded.

Her team's theory is that oocysts released outdoors by domestic and feral cats slowly make their way into streams and eventually into the ocean."

Pixel says:
Indoor cats are unlikely to carry the toxoplasmosis parasite. Yet another good reason to keep cats indoors.

Posted by: Pixel | February 28, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Pixel, I wasn't trying to dodge the conclusion that house cats are less likely to cause this sort of pollution, I just thought "litter box" was classier than "kitty poop." I mean only a total clod would say "kitty poop."

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. The world seems to have changed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Tiny type is here, I see. I'm shrinking.....

Where'd I put that damn magnifying glass?

Posted by: pj | February 28, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Were there really no posts between 3:57 and 5:40, or did everything go all ephemeral? Also, don't try to find the magic screen. It appears to be gone.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, Joel said that when this switch is made, some posts would disappear into the nothingness. My guess is that is what happened. Maybe we will find them in Area 51.

Posted by: pj | February 28, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, this is small type. Have pity on us old geezers, eh?

Posted by: pj | February 28, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The words are so tiny. I'm going to need new glasses, and a magnifying glass to read this. When I first came on, I got Achenblog has moved, and then this page came up. Can someone tell me what's going on?

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 28, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

This is horrible.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I apologize to the boodlers who got vaporized. My gosh this is just the worst thing ever. The blog is doomed.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Chin up, Joel, we're still here, and whatever it takes we're going to be here. I need new glasses anyway. It just looks odd right now because it new. The faithful will stay. The blog is not doomed, you're still our guy, at least mine any way. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Come on guys, Joel, needs cheering up.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 28, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Changing the font-size under view in explorer has no effect. It also looks the same under Opera. I have no idea if this information helps.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

There was still a discussion going on the old Boodle. I noticed that a new Kit seemed to have been posted, with the potentially distressing title "Achenblog has moved" (Oh no! I thought. Has Joel been canned? Am I to be Boodle-less?). I went on up and reloaded that baby. Some text about a slightly changed web address appeared, I started to read, then MYSTERIOUS BOOM OVER OCEAN! (part of the discussion over on the old Boodle) and I found myself back at Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Come to tbe boodle (noting that the links look different from what they did this morning, more like Fisher's page), and I discover that the Boodle has divereged into two incompatible discussions. We have speciated!

Sadly, Kane, Bayou Self, Curmudgeon, and others too numerous to recall, appear to have been trapped in that lost and mythic realm of the Boodle with legible font sizes. So sad, so sad.

Posted by: Tim | February 28, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Eh? Whadja say? Speak up!

Posted by: jg | February 28, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I read the blog pretty faithfully, don't post much for lack of witty/interesting comments. But to help Joel out, every time I hear another report about global warming I think about taking those survivor classes you see advertised in outdoor magazines (IMO, don't bother investing in private windmills. If you have anything of value you'll be required to defend it when all heck breaks loose. If you're a pacifist like me, best to run-off and avoid human contact until things settle down. Sorry to be such a downer, I'm actually a very positive person (note to self: avoid reading hobbes).

Posted by: agl | February 28, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Why are Eskimos allowed to chase down seals using snow mobiles? Certainly this is no historic, cultural activity. Why not let them machine gun seals from airplanes? What about the Canadian farmers who produced thousands of tons more wheat? No one gets awards for, "Global warming solves world food crisis" or "World's filthiest crime ridden flesh-pots to be cleansed by rising tides".

Posted by: JB | February 28, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Say, that's a lot of misspellings (and why isn't it mysspellings?) and metaphors in that there posting.

I see that Loomis, Wilbrod, and Nachomama also are busy propagating away in one of blogolution's blind alleys.

Posted by: Tim | February 28, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

This font is because I said "kitty poop," isn't it? I was reading Gene Weingarten and got confused. I promise never to do it again.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I hope new features will balance small font, but I'm not giving up on the Boodle!

Posted by: Slyness | February 28, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Where's Shiloh, Loomis, Nani, Curm, Mostly, dr, and the rest of the crew?

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 28, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The rest of the boodlers are still at
We are now at
Note the lost "s" They have been alerted.
Hey, it's what I do.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

re. small type, in Safari (Mac OSX) go to View->Make Text Bigger (or Option +)

In Firefox View->Text Size->Increase

They both work fine.

RD, re. IE, friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer. Switch, you'll be better off.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

You are right, EF. I usually use Opera at home, where I am now. Here I can zoom in fine. Unfortunately at work we only have IE, and it is still alarmingly popular with people.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The old site seems to have totally vaporized. I just pray all escaped safely. I am going to go hide now and hope all is well in the morning.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 7:10 PM | Report abuse

In IE, go to tools, Internet options, accessibility and then check ignore font sizes.

Posted by: nellie | February 28, 2006 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm here. The boss was trying to get out of the office, there is the beginning of a snow storm, and some of our young fellers seriously irritated him. It seemed wise to keep my nose off the boodle today for my continued fiscal health.

Does this small font mean that I am going to have to get the new lens prescription filled so that I can read, or should I jsut give up and move my screen closer to my nose?

Posted by: dr | February 28, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

nellie - What a brilliant solution. It works! Although I am sure Hal and Joel will fix things without such work arounds.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Course now the rest of the internet on IE is messed up...

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

fear and loathing in St. Louis...

Posted by: jack | February 28, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Nellie's brilliant solution is, as RD points out, a scorched-Earth fix that garbles the home page and presumably the rest of the Intercosmos. I think we just have to lobby the "design committee" at to change the design specs on comments on the blog. I have asked and have been told that they are sympathetic to those of us who can't read the small type. They want to hang on to the precious, advertiser-coveted 45-80 demographic that is drawn to this blog.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 8:23 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, just stand by, we will fix this stupid type font.

I have found my way back into the TypePad deathstar to rescue boodlers trapped there. The LAST comment in the TypePad version of this blog is from Shiloh, to wit:

Ch: Although I am, admittedly, prepositionally challenged, I think the citation was correct to the original. But, due to refreshment stand standing, I may be wrong.

[God knows what he was talking about.]

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Just change the text size back after you have viewed the blog. Just a couple of key strokes. In Mozilla, hit CRTL + to increase the size and CRTL - to decrease it. Not the best solution, but a good workaround.

Posted by: pj | February 28, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I once was lost, but now I'm found. I made the silly assumption that the silence around me was due to the hour of commute. As it went on, I attributed it to the evening news, and then to some obscure programming, until, finally, I realized that the world as I know it had come to an end. I was a voice in the wilderness - until one lone soul (go find out for yourself) sent a weak signal - and I breathed,like Tim, a *sigh* not of relief, but of regret for all the wisdom the rest of you had missed.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Egad, does this prove that Lonemule was correct? I mean, this new font size does stink, doesn't it?

Posted by: pj | February 28, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not seeing the "improvement" here. We still don't have html capabilities, we don't have editing, we no longer have the magic page where you can make your name a hyperlink, and the font is smaller. More reliable? The old version went down One Time, as I remember it.

I hope this is better in some way for somebody.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm just saying...

Posted by: kbertocci | February 28, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse

...and another thing: my browser keeps saying "done, but with errors on the page." Is that my browser's problem, or is that a blog source code problem? Or what?

Posted by: kbertocci | February 28, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I bought into global warming nearly 25 years ago. At the time it was enough to compel me to put off fatherhood, for fear of bringing a child into a world that might well be the worse for wear and tear. How is it that the administration justified non-participation in the Kyoto protocol and strategies that would decrease greenhuse emissions? A couple of weeks ago I read of some legislation that would protect the habitat of the polar bears. Oy.

Posted by: jack | February 28, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

kb: "Done - but with errors on the page" means that it's actually reading what we post.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

>"Done - but with errors on the page"

Yeah, I'm still here.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Karen, send me your email address again. I hate the "errors on the page" message because it seems like such a direct insult to my writing. I mean, I try to get it right. Anyway, the main diff betwixt TypePad and Moveable Type might take a while to show itself. The new blog software is on the Post's servers, meaning the Post ( is much more hands-on with the technology. Conceivably we'll even be able to (gasp) post pictures!!! The main reason this blog is so primitive and 1997-ish is that I am just a poor feeble typist who doesn't know much about manipulating the technology -- plus, I don't even have the password to the blog. The Schemer has it. I don't know, for example, how many page views we get. I don't know what blog items are most popular. But I've learned to like that ignorance -- it kind of takes the pressure off, in a way, and is analogous to print journalism, when we can't see how many eyeballs are reading a given story. The problem with blogs is that every blogger (except me) can carefully monitor what "sells" and what doesn't, and this leads to the tabloidization of the blogosphere. (Though I don't see any sign of that at Read-Think-Live, to be sure!)

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 8:56 PM | Report abuse

The more things change, etc. I used to get the "Done, but with errors on the page" message, but always shrugged it off with "sure, everybody knows that."

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Joel, it is probably best to keep yourself away from that password. Have you learned nothing from your tragic battle with compulsive Amazon rank checking? Besides, it is the quality of your audience that matters, not the size. (I'm pretty sure this is how golf survives as a televised sport.) You have a loyal, if somewhat eccentric, following who will not abandon you over a little issue like eyestrain. Clearly, though, the title of today's kit was prophetic.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 9:06 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I haven't gotten any errors messages under Safari, Firefox on OSX, Internet Explorer or Firefox uon Win XP.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 28, 2006 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Things work great under Opera as well. No errors except self inflicted ones.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 28, 2006 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting a new phrase, simply stated, more concise statement: "Errors on page." And I'm IE firefoxed. I won't be able to get Opera until Saturday at 1:30 on NPR.But, the same shrug applies. More importantly, God knows I don't even know what i'm talking about.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 9:24 PM | Report abuse

RD, "kitty poop" is far too polite and delicate a term for the product that my cats produce, but since we're all so polite here, I won't go into detail. Lone Mule's got it right with regards to my cats: They Stink!

Posted by: Pixel | February 28, 2006 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm also using Firefox and turned up the volume, so to speak, on the font using the "Apple +" command, which works great. Even better is that only the window I'm in is affected while the other tabs are not. I could get to like this feature!

Posted by: Pixel | February 28, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Pixel: Does this mean that a prior place discussion of the Bartonella henselae protozoan and Toxoplasma gondii bacteria was lost in the ethernet, or does it mean that you are serious about joining the "Kill Your Cat -Tribe?"

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

The switch has undone me. Of course, the protozoan and bacteria are reversed.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 28, 2006 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I have posted a new kit that attempted to rescue some of the doomed boodlers caught in the Period of Darkness this afternoon as we switched from one blogging tool to another.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 28, 2006 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Gadzooks, boss.

What the hell are you still doing on here?

I just finished watching a double episode of NOVA featuring 19th century British cannibals and some Norwiegan dude who found his way through the Northwest passage only to end up at the South Pole hating women.

Note: this does not sound like a quick shipping route.


Posted by: bc | February 28, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

My eyes!

Joel said:
They want to hang on to the precious, advertiser-coveted 45-80 demographic that is drawn to this blog.

Thank you! (I think)

(and the type in the comments box looks huge in comparison now - bizarre)

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 28, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I should add that Global Warming should make the Northwest Passage as navigable as the Chesapeake by the second half of this century.


Posted by: bc | February 28, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

SCC: delete second "navigable".

Damn me.


Posted by: bc | February 28, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh, I'm merely advocating that we cat owners keep our beasts inside.

The otters and songbirds and gardeners shall rejoice, each in their own way.

Posted by: Pixel | March 1, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

i promise that "field notes from a catastrophe" has a happy ending. (you just have to have a more expansive view of happiness.)

Posted by: elizabeth | March 3, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

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