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Ivory-billed Woodpecker Goes Extinct Again

You may recall that nearly a year ago we were quite excited (if horribly irreverent and giggly and hillbillyish) about the sighting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, long believed to be extinct. "It is kind of like finding Elvis," an ornithologist said at the time.

Well, perhaps it's more like finding an Elvis impersonator. Because a new report in the journal Science claims that the bird seen by ornithologists in the Big Woods of Arkansas was a pileated woodpecker.

The story last April: "By magnifying and analyzing individual frames of the video clip, [John] Fitzpatrick and his colleagues identified the bird as an ivory-billed woodpecker based on its size, specifically the distance from wing to tail, and the black and white markings on its wings and body."

The new report: "David Sibley and his coauthors argue that reanalysis of the video taken in April 2004 indicates that the bird in the video is a normal pileated woodpecker. They claim that the original research team misinterpreted the posture of the bird in flight and at rest, and thus misinterpreted its size and plumage pattern. They hold that the extensive white visible during flight can be accounted for by the underside of the pileated's wings, and that other aspects of the wing pattern are inconsistent with ivory-billed woodpeckers. Sibley and colleagues find that the quality of the video is not good enough to clearly see white stripes along the bird's back that are characteristic of ivory-billed woodpecker. And they do not believe that the available comparative data on wingspan and flight style are sufficient to distinguish between the two woodpecker species."

Rebuttal by Fitzpatrick et al: "They argue that their interpretation of the bird's launch posture is more accurate than of the alternative offered by Sibley and colleagues and thus that their previous calculations of the extent of white plumage are supported. They also note that the angle of view in the video shows white plumage on the upper surface of the wings that is unlike the pattern in pileated woodpecker and that the black trailing edge on the underwing characteristic of the pileated is 'consistently absent' in the video .... " And so on.

Who knows? I personally can't tell a parakeet from a vulture.

But you know the Sagan rule: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 16, 2006; 1:58 PM ET
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This poor little woodpecker story is starting to feel like bigfoot.

Posted by: dr | March 16, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Professor Sagan was right. I just hope the Bush Administration remembers it when they start quoting the noted scientist who has figured out that global warming is caused by increased cosmic ray activity not by greenhouse gases. But, even given that Sagan was right, don't you hope it was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker? Don't you find the world to be a slightly more interesting place given the possibility.

Posted by: Reade Davis | March 16, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

What does it say about me that this makes me sad. There's just nothing good in the news these days.

Posted by: Jim | March 16, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Boggy Creek monster ate the woodpecker.

"The Legend of Boggy Creek", now there was a good urban legend movie. Somehow "In Search of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker" just doesn't sound as thrilling.

Speaking of Sagan, I read the first chapter of "Contact.." last night and Carl comes off a wild-eyed naif.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Once again, we see what we want so see, don't we?

Who says Quantum mechanics doesn't scale up?

We see something quick, blurry, kinda looks like an IBWp; we know *exactly* where it was, but aren't sure what it *is*.
A year later, we've measured it rather precisely and know what it isn't, collapsing the probability waves. Anyone know exactly where Woody is so we can get another look at him?

I didn't think so.



Posted by: bc | March 16, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Remove "so", insert "to".

Feh. Back to basketball.


Posted by: bc | March 16, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah... I'm extinct. That's the ticket.

My cousin from Cuba came by the other day. He was able to catch a plane over the water with the Cuban team in the World Baseball Classic. We don't particularly care about feet wet/feet dry, but trying to avoid being seen when flying over the ocean is a pain in the tailfeathers.

Gotta run. The librarian is giving me the evil eye for my hunt-and-peck typing. Frankly, I think she's being speciesist.

Posted by: Bill the IBW | March 16, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Sagan was also a proponent of nuclear winter fear mongering. Maybe if we let Iran get The Bomb, they can stop global warming.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This story reminded me the the Ig Noble's. I decided some of my time should be spent looking for who and what these fun awards are. And I found this.

On shich page I found this notice. "ATTENTION members of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS): please see special notice at bottom of this page."

Which took me to this:

ScienceTim, Joel, heads up.

Posted by: dr | March 16, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, Joel, I'm up to chapter 12 in "Capturted by Aliens" (which, despite the risk of earning another suck-up award from K-guy, is quite good), and the woodpecker dispute sounds a lot like the MacKay-Gibson brouhaha over the Martin "worm" found (or not found) in that rock sample, ALH84001, as well as some of the other disputes you detailed.

Speaking of which, is Ann Dryan (Sagan's widow) still alive, and if so, do you maintain contact with her, Tim Ferris, et al.? What was Ferris' reaction to Sagan stealing his fiance away from him?

I was one of those college students in the mid/late 60s totally enamored with Gerald O'Neill and "The High Frontier," Sagan's books and TV shows, "Dragons of Eden," etc. Ate all that stuff up with a big spoon.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 16, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

You journalists really oughta refrain from telling us what's in Science until 5pm, when the rest of us can see the fresh issue.

I just hope there's still some ivory bills lurking in Cuba. Not to mention that I still trust John Fitzpatrick. The Florida scrub-jays thought highly of him before he moved north to Cornell.

Posted by: Dave | March 16, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Druyan

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 16, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

As A. Whitney Brown once said, there are species that come and go so fast that we don't even have the chance to exploit them.

Posted by: Bayou Self | March 16, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Jim writes:
There's just nothing good in the news these days.

How's about: Hollywood's Jessica Simpson refuses to meet President Bush at a Republican fundraiser. Good for Jessica and great for the wonderful charity she represents.

Posted by: Loomis | March 16, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

What the whole thing says is that you're STILL a hillbilly, that whether the species is or isn't isn't the point...rather the serious scientists find and smart alec worthless bloggers mouth off.

Posted by: Lille | March 16, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I would gently suggest that "whether the species is or isn't" is actually quite an interesting point, if perhaps not, in the most grandiose sense, "the" point.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 16, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It might explain a few things to know that this particular Kit is linked to on the WaPo homepage with this description:

Achenblog: Delusions of Superiority

Posted by: TBG | March 16, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Instead of "Contact.." it should be "Joel's Book About Nutcases That Should Be Doing Better Things Than Looking For Aliens That Either Aren't There Or Don't Want To Be Found".

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Thought/thread from last Boodle. Yes, I'm following Dan Brown's trial in London closely. Have read in the WaPo that Henry Lincoln, one of the HBHG authors isn't avilable for comment. Have read that Lincoln is old and feeble--had a source in England say pretty much the same thing this morning.

If they, the lawyers in the case (both sides), are looking at marriages in which husband/wife work as a team on book/product, they should examine the union of Brock and Bodie Turner Thoene. He researches historical facts and creates the storyline, while it is Bodie who fleshes out the story--just the opposite of the Browns.

Their take on religion as either evangelicals or born-agains is also 180 degrees different than the Browns. (As you recall Brock was one of my H.S. boyfriends. Too bad I can't post to the Boodle his high school B&W photo from his senior year--or his autograph in a small whimsical book that he gave to me when we were home from college as freshmen during Christmas break.)

Posted by: Loomis | March 16, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

And has anyone seen the video that these wonks are obsessing over? I have a hard enough time telling that there's a bird in image. It makes Zapruder look like Spielberg.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My post was "held for review". What gives?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse


I saw a B&B Thoene book recently while shopping with my son. I pointed to Brock's picture and said, "He's an old high school boyfriend of Linda Loomis'," just like my son knew who the heck you are.

I got his typical 17-year-old's "I really don't care but I'll be nice" response: "Cool."

Posted by: TBG | March 16, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Lille, seriously if you are looking for serious scientists, refer to the links noted above.

Posted by: dr | March 16, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Telling a parakeet from a vulture. Easy, the vulture has an American flag in it's lapel.

Posted by: Jim McCulloh | March 16, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod writes:
My post was "held for review". What gives?

Wilbrod, you've been "Hal the Schemered."

Posted by: Loomis | March 16, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

wait, jessica simpson knows who president bush is? i thought she spent all her time seducing adolescent boys in pizza commercials. i guess that is good news.

Posted by: tangent | March 16, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we can un-exist and therefore, while I mourn the plight of the bird I'm not sure how to prevent its extinction without becoming extinct myself.

A real conundrum.

As someone may have pointed out, some species have come and gone so quickly they haven't been able to be a 'cause celebre' and therefore pass on into oblivion without mourning or mention.

And we discover new species every day.

The world is a constantly changing place; it's not static. Those speciesthat cannot survive will lose out to those who can, which has been the way for millions of years.

I think it is unrealistic to think that we would be able to preserve all current species indefinitely; it approaches hubris and smacks of a bit of egotism -- as if the species that are alive today are more worthy of preservation and protection than those which were eradicated long before now...

That doesn't mean clear-cut until one's heart is content, it simply means that we must balance what is realistic with what is simply 'unnatural' in expectation.

Posted by: amo | March 16, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

No "Held For Review" comment has ever seen the light of day. It is a euphemism on par with "aggressive interrogation tactics". My only advice is that if you hit the back button immediately upon the error, you can salvage your draft and try to figure out what offended the Wordy Dird Filter™. It does not like "past watch" spelled as one word and if you are talking about dikes around Florida to prevent flooding from global warming, make sure you do not accidentally offend lesbians with you spelling.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Did someone here say they had Oklahoma in the Final Four?

#11 WI Milwaukee 82
#6 Oklahoma 74

Posted by: TBG | March 16, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

And I forget... which bracket are the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers in? Do they play tonight?

Posted by: TBG | March 16, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

There might be an interesting Kit using all the "Held for Review" comments a la Ariana's ClooneyKit.

Posted by: TBG | March 16, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Versus Stanford.

Posted by: Bayou Self | March 16, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of questionable science, did anyone read the review of "American Inventor"? Is it possible that it will be such a freak-show that it becomes one of the most entertaining things on TV? I'm picturing 2 hours of real-live Professor Frinks.

Posted by: jw | March 16, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse


The point of preservation of endangered species is to NOT destroy with finality a part of the ecosystem. Extinction is capital "F" Forever. Without a very clear understanding, and I submit that we do not have one, of the ripple effects of extinction of ANY species, we should not be lightly accepting it "has been the way".

What you present as a pragmatic approach to the issue ("balance what is realistic") is just cover for a destructive short term view, IMHO. A similar argument is the rhetorical last stand for CO2 emission apologists.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 16, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Ha, TBG. I changed my Oklahoma dark horse pick this AM to Villanova coming out of that bracket. I had Ok winning that game, but losing to JA's Gators in the next round, despite my nagging memory...

Speaking of Bird-Brain Thursday featuring Infinite Lunch, some would call that a chicken-$7!t move, but at least it lessened the damage that this first round is doing on me.


Posted by: bc | March 16, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I had linked to some science daily articles in that post, I tried hitting return, but alas, too late (flushing).

I do recommend that site for "good news" headlines. Invention has little to do with science, usually involves using pre-existing technology in new ways.

I can easily think of 1-2 inventions I could really use in my life, although I don't know mine would be marketable. But I'm kind of tired of voice technology being accessible to the blind, not to the deaf.

I'd kill for an general voice-activated "computer voice monotone reply" saying:
"The person you have just attempted to contact verbally no longer has functional ears. Please shut up and try another person. Have a nice day."

I'm with Cassandra on how many people just glare at deaf people like they've committed murder simply because they had their back turned and had no idea that anybody could possibly want to talk to them.
From what I hear, the better the lipreader, the harder it can be to convince people that YO, deaf means "ears are out of service".

Obviously a tape recorder of some sort, but when you realize the user will be unaware wether the device is on, or what message is being displayed, without an better interface, then off-the-shelf won't work. And, the person may not even want to fumble for the tape recorder to activate it, so a remote button design would have to be worked in...

I hope to see on "American Inventor" some really fun designs for problems nobody usually thinks of. Somebody said "identifying the problem is half of the solution" and that's so true for inventors.
Look at how Edison decided having no light except candles and keresone lamps was an HUGE problem. And yes, Edison was hearing-impaired (deaf in one ear).

Alexander G. Bell invented the telephone as a device to try and help the deaf hear. He was the son of a speech teacher and his deaf student.
Instead, his invention created a million problems for the deaf as the rest of society became addicted to the phone.

And his tremendous wealth went to fund failed educational programs focused on making deaf people speak rather than think, including lobbying educators over 20 countries to renounce any kind of sign language instruction, but that's a whole 'nother story.

It's only within the last 25 years that it's became possible for the deaf to use the phone for anything but calling another TTY (machines based on the old teletypewriter, adapted from newsrooms!);

Now videophones do in fact exist, and relay calls are fully supported to provide fair access for the deaf. Even so, quite a few deaf people don't even have phones anymore, which can create problems for credit card activation, ubiquitious "Phone number?" requests.

And all this from what was essentially a glorified hearing-aid/ microphone combo connected by a wire. Makes you think.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

SCC-- too many to count. Blood sugar at a low, I think.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

ok - here's my question - and it's a dumb one... they've only seen ONE ibw ever - on one else has ever, ever seen another one (recently)... ok - um... seems to me it takes at least TWO ibw's to make ONE more ibw... so if you've seen ONE ibw, wouldn't it at least make sense that you'd see at least one more? that someone SOMEWHERE had seen another ibw? i mean, one questionable sighting of an other-wise thought to be extinct animal/bird... just seems... well... i think you know where i'm going with this... NEED MORE PROOF DARNIT! (and if it was you, bill the ibw, - aren't you lonely being the only ibw out there? or do you go for other species of woodpeckers?)

btw - i love woodpeckers - i think they are cute - i rarely ever see any though...

Posted by: mo | March 16, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't think any of us are actually competing or watching from the rafters. My final two have Ohio and Texas with Texas winning it all.

Then again, I always have bet with my plumage.

Posted by: Bill the IRB | March 16, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I just hope the basketball's wood-like coloring won't tempt Bill and the other IRBs from attempting to feed and therefore delay the games.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 16, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

and is woody the woodpecker an ibw or a pileated woodpecker?

Posted by: mo | March 16, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

bill - what's an irb?

Posted by: mo | March 16, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

SCC: into attempting to feed and therefore delaying the games

VERY low blood sugar

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 16, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Son of Carl,

"The point of preservation of endangered species is to NOT destroy with finality a part of the ecosystem. Extinction is capital "F" Forever. Without a very clear understanding, and I submit that we do not have one, of the ripple effects of extinction of ANY species, we should not be lightly accepting it "has been the way".

Why not? How many 1,000s if not millions of species have become extinct or had to evolve to make it? It's part of how nature handles things. To think that we must and are even remotely capable of stopping every extinction is just unrealistic in any sense.

Are other species going to stop being predators? Is the only reason a species goes extinct due to humans and encroaching humanity? Not by a long shot; anything from climate change, to shifting land masses, to altered predatory patterns can cause a species to be extinct. Even humans can become extinct should our climate, etc, change. LOL

A good reason to be environmentally conscious, if nothing else, is to prevent our own extinction. Animals, in that case, would be a secondary concern.

"What you present as a pragmatic approach to the issue ("balance what is realistic") is just cover for a destructive short term view, IMHO. A similar argument is the rhetorical last stand for CO2 emission apologists."

Well, there sure was a lot of presuming going on in that last paragraph. I certainly am no CO2 emission apologist, LOL, and I do understand global warming and the effects of humanity, technology and chemicals on the environment. I am not denying them, nor (as I said in my last entry) am I advocating clear-cutting or any environmentally risky enterprise.

However, it is specious to say humans are the only reason any species goes extinct. It is also fallacious to presume these species would not go extinct anyway.

You're entitled to your opinion but I still think it's unrealistic to expect all evolution (and evolution includes the altering up and until extinction of any species) on this planet to go static at humanity's whims. Nature is constantly changing and is has processes completely independent of humans. Some of those processes can be affected by humans, sure, but they were there long before us.

It seems to me that what current environmental activists want is for nothing in the environment to change at.all.period.

And that, in my view, is rather unrealistic. Tectonic plates shift every day; volcanic ash creates new islands; temperatures change; polar ice caps melt...all of these things will cause extinct species, too. I am fervently hoping you're not proposing 'stopping' these things because that would not only be futile, but ridiculous in the extreme.

Posted by: amo | March 16, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Just had one held, Wilbrod, myself:
Uncle died from cancer after smoking pipe.
Beeg Tubakkah movies.
Center for Desist and Cease in Georgia.

Posted by: Loomis | March 16, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, my 16 yr. old granddaughter is learning sign language (she is not hearing impaired) at a rehab center where she volunteers. Some "words" are quite lovely to "see". She taught me how to sign the alphabet and we practice talking to each other this way.

mo, when we lived in N. Fla., we often had woodpeckers take up residence in our trees. It is amazing how they can chisel (drill?) almost perfect holes in their chosen tree homes. Noisy, but I agree, very cute!

Posted by: Nani | March 16, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh Wilbrod, I meant to ask why did Bell wish to have signing renounced. Does it do more harm than help? It is still being taught.

Posted by: Nani | March 16, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

as for opportunities for deaf people - elliot yamin (one of the 11 contestants left on the american idol) is completely deaf in one ear. i know that doesn't mean he's completely deaf but come on - it's hard enough to make it that far on american idol without the disadvantage of having full hearing and he made it to the top 12!

(sorry to bring in american idol - but i'm a dolt and i'm hooked!)

Posted by: mo | March 16, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

But Amo, extinction has accelerated considerably in the past thousand years or so. We're talking over 100 times the historical extinction rate as near we can figure out.
Some species are more important than others. When a keystone species goes extinct or is removed, an entire ecosystem can destabilize totally.
There is evidence that Wolves in yellowstone help keep deer populations under control and encourage growth of trees and forests even though a wolf doesn't plant anything (they do water trees, tho.). You see, a hungry overpopulation of deer will strip saplings to death in winter. The net result was a very very low regrowth of new forest.

Granted, sometimes we can introduce species that take over the role of keystone species. For instance, where the buffalo once roamed, we could let cattle roam and keep the grass etc. pretty much as it was before. But such examples are fairly rare.

It is also a truism that species diversity increases exponentially nearest the equator, and that S-species (the slower-colonizing specialists) tend to actually evolve into new species much faster than the fast-colonizing R-species (the fast-colonizing, generalist species-- like rats).

Therefore in Africa there are many subspecies of gnu each with unique mouths that are tailored to specific vegetation.

Elephants, being a classic S-species, specialized in being big and foraging freely, have evolved many, many species that went extinct due to climate and ecosystem change. I remember having a magazine once that showed the wild variety of the proto-elephant ancestors-- huge shovel teeth, funny trunks of all sort, and so on.

However, there always have been elephants of some sort in Africa, and many animals benefit by their massive ecosystem impact. You can't say that because elephants routinely go extinct that it's OK to let African elephants be deep-sixteened.

And it is possible to reverse extinction without being unrealistic. Nearly 200 years, it was thought that grey squirrels were in danger of going extinct due to dogs, hunting, habitat loss, fur trade, so conservation steps were taken, and now grey squirrels routinely taunt our dogs, bust into our attics, and so on.

Likewise, many animals were in danger of extinction due to fur and feather trade. Once that ceased, those species bounced back considerably.
What we need to do is draw back from driving a species to extinction.
We drove the passenger pigeon extinct for food. Just 150 years ago they coated the skies in flocks of thousands. We are in danger of overfishing many of our common food fishes as well.

We need to be realistic about THAT.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

ibw - ivory billed woodpecker
irc - internet relay chat
ibc - root beer
irb - ???

I think this is the first year in over a decade that I have not filled out an NCAA bracket anywhere. With GT 4-12 in the ACC and Maryland in the NIT and only four teams from the ACC (Tobacco Road and BC) getting invites, I just don't have enough dogs in the fight.

I also have the dilemna that the wife doesn't let me watch sports on the new 26" LCD in the bedroom and the family room TV has surround sound but no digital picture.

The solution is obviously a $4k 42" plasma in the family room, but after new kitchen counters, that is at least a year away.

Enough about my problems. At least I'm not a very lonely male ivory billed woodpecker. Which of course makes me wonder how there could be just one.

In David Brin's "Earth", IIRC, one of the subplots was that the world was down to just 13 rhinos left which was the bare minimum for a sustaining population. Once the number went to twelve the species was considered extinct.

Finally, that also brings up the controversy about whether breeding Florida panthers with mountain lions has saved the species or destroyed it.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 16, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

amo, I think you are missing Son of Carl's point. Species certainly do pop in and out of existence all the time. The problem with respect to the Ivory-Bill, and numerous other species, is that their extinction was brought on by us. Unlike the natural world, we have the ability to make choices in our behavior, and that means that there are moral consequences. Ivory Bill Woodpeckers were extinctified not by the inexorable forces of change, but by the actions of humans who could have chosen differently if they had been paying attention. At least, I think that's what happened. The truth is, I'm having a little trouble remembering what conspired to harm the IBW to the point of disappearance. I think it was a combination of hunting and habitat-loss, since they disappeared long before DDT and widespread pesticide use. Hunting was not for food, it was for trophies and decoration. We may argue over the legitimacy of such hunting of healthy species, but I think it's hard to argue that it's an acceptable practice to hunt a species into extinction. Yes, I feel certain that the hunters didn't mean to erase the species. That lessens the responsibility a bit, in the same fashion that manslaughter is a lesser crime than murder. But the victim is dead, either way.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 16, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Ivory Bills were done in by logging. They peel bark off of dead trees, gobbling up the larvae and whatnot that they expose. It takes a lot of old trees to keep an Ivory Bill population fed.

Posted by: Dave | March 16, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse


Isn't Brian Wilson completely deaf in one ear? He's done okay, I think. Of course, being a genius helps a bit.

Posted by: pj | March 16, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I'm beginning to think it's impossible to hold a dissenting point of view on this blog.

But, for those who have postulated that it is possible to prevent extinction, just how will that be done? Are we going to legislate our way out of it? I guess I'm not that optimistic about the possible legislation.

Curious. You make it sound so darn easy and yet all the scientific studies I have read seem to say it's rather difficult to do that, considering there are certain things beyond our control.

Perhaps I'm reading the 'wrong' studies?
LOL Well, I'm sure someone will set about giving me the 'right' ones.

Is this woodpecker an 'anchor' species? I didn't see anywhere where that was implied, but it really doesn't matter.

Again, with the 'holy grail-ness' of it all. We should stop all human activity on the planet and then all the species would be safe -- only we'd be the ones extinct. To me, it's like people who like animals more than other people. There's something 'hinky' about that.

The thing is, no one here can provide me with the empirical data; it's all supposition, personal opinion and theory. Long on 'feelings', short on solutions.

Not one of you can show me that this isn't the way it's supposed to be; we haven't been around long enough for that.

Who knows? And that is exactly my point - no one does.

Posted by: amo | March 16, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

That is truly a question that's hard to answer, Nani.
Bell signed himself, he was supposedly a "wicked signer." His mother did not like being deaf and looked down on other deaf people as common. His father was a speech teacher. He married a deaf woman himself.

The reason for his anti-sign bias, was not merely the idea that it made teaching speech harder, giving an "easier way of comunication" (although this concept is often promoted by oralist educators.).

What Bell was interested in was ending "A deaf variety of the human race." Eugenics. He saw that deaf people who signed tended to marry each other due to having a common language, and often being 'isolated' from the main world.
It is believed by deaf people of that time that he really had a visceral reaction of some kind when he visited Martha's Vineyard (at that time, called St. Martin's Vineyard) and saw the prevalence of congenital deafness. He misunderstood the cause. It was due to a recessive gene spreading into an inbred island population-- what we call a founder effect, until distant cousins marrying each other would have deaf children.
At that time, almost everybody on Martha's vineyard signed in varying fashion. For some reason this came as a massive culture shock.

What we do know about that island at that time was that deaf people often held important positions, as they were sent to the mainland to be educated, and often got better education than the islanders. So there was significant social equality between deaf and their hearing relatives and neighbors. I recommend you check wikipedia on Martha's Vineyard Sign language for further information.

The hearing people also apparently spoke their own dialect of English, which might have created an pretty dismal image to Bell, of the proliferation of deaf sapping the human race of the ability to converse in clear speech. Or something like that. We still don't know very much about what he perceived except he was completely disgusted beyond belief.

He preached against allowing deaf to marry each other and creating a "deaf variety of the human race". Never mind that most deafness is not inherited dominantly and most deaf children are born to hearing people.
Attempting to "mainstream" deaf people and prevent them from communicating with each other and thus intermarrying was probably a large motive behind his rancor against sign. It didn't succeed anyway.

He also advocated and lobbied for state laws mandating compulsive sterilization of people belonging to the defective variety of human race. This didn't just affect deaf, it also affected the poor, 'insane', the immoral, and minorities such as french-canadians in some states.

I am not completely familiar with the state eugenic laws on the books, but when we talk about the Nazis, remember that AMERICA actually was doing this kind of stuff first.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

by proper stalking it is possible to observe or to be truth.

there are universal truths that exist within the fabric of
reality...ameliorating each other...with peanut butter and apricot
jam...snickering with baffled expressions

a spring when compressed or a pendumluum when moved off center moves back
and forth in a cyclic behaviour to try and _reach center_ again

or balance again

you can drawa chart plotting distance moved off center versus time plotting
the oscillations back and forth

the oscillations trace a sine wave of diminishing signal strenth until there
is a flat line, at the same point as the start

this is normal system could apply it to any change in a
system _in general_

that has a tendancy to reach a stable point or region

predator prey balance

right wing left wing


an argument/awar/feelings associated with

there is a line which can be drawn through the chart of the oscillations
that the pushed off center penduluum or spring will make which is a smooth
line, a curve

note: geometry is an ideal that doesn't exist within this reality in is a concept which exists within the body of reality...what
I'm talking about is the same, the concept is pervasive and does not exist
in perfection or as a seperate thing/it'sembedded....there is no such thing
as a straight line or a point except in the abstract and in approximation,
and within context of whatelse is affecting reality in physical space..

on debate:
that's one reason why debate is in a sense a load of crap as a final
arbiter, absolutes do not exist only conceptswithin context...debate could be
part of the process, but at some point it has to cease and a common or
shared insight traversed...debate is useless at doing more than arriving in
the vicinity of what will be walked together...

a damped reaction will smooth out the sine wave to a dc line and the
penduluum/spring will return to balance...non oscillating very quickly

damping ina physical case would be a shock absorber, or in the case of a
pendulum possibly immersion in a a denser gas

damping in a social situation would consist of training in "allowing"
"listening" "non reactive" behaviours...buddhist energy
training sadness/anger....having practiced being-aware/staying-present during the process of
aging/wisdom...exposure to a wide range of situations and
behaviours...ambassadorial training...reading on behaviours...thinking about
and so on

what is true on a physical level is to some degree true on a
spiritual/emotional/nonphysical level in most cases....this is to some
degree the basis for divination

on explaining:

to explain it most perfectly to you I would have to know you better and find
a way to demonstrate it within the context of your experience

for you to understand it most easily would require that you hold the state
of _maybe/nonconclusion_ as a way of being

Posted by: pithy comments from beyonde... | March 16, 2006 5:04 PM | Report abuse

in-human activity on the planet and require a learners permit for those unqualified to think...

my comment wasn't held for review, what's up with that?

et tu tabloides criticale

Posted by: I think we should stop all | March 16, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt & Mo--
IRB -- typo from my hunt and peck. Should be IBW. Mea Culpa.

Woody was before my time. He looks a lot like my cousin Harold and behaves a lot like Harold's kids. He's probably one of us.

When one of us dies, we still have enough to gather for a Kadesh in my community. We use arranged marriages (we mate for life... mostly because the females won't go for the other alternatives) to play zoologist and make sure no chicks end up with three wings.

We hang out on the porches of our nests, watch NASCAR when it is on broadcast. Someone disconnected the cable we had intercepted, so we can't watch the trucks race.

I think it is a human trait to assume that because you can't see something that something must not exist. Just because I didn't see Harold or hear his kids being bumpkins doesn't mean that Harold and his kids don't exist. Our paths just didn't cross. I should be so lucky that I don't cross paths with Harold's kids as often as I do.

Posted by: Bill the ivory-billed woodpeckers | March 16, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

amo, thanks for your reply. I will try to respond while also struggling to do "work".

My short response is that tectonic plate movements etc are not relevant to this discussion in the same way that the historical patterns of climate change are to the global warming debate.

In both cases you have to ask the question: are humans significantly affecting the situation?

If yes, will there likely be consequences? For global warming, the answer is easier. For endangered species, the problem is that we don't know the full effect of losing any individual species.

We DO know the loss of a species can have consequences far beyond those expected. Here's a link to USFWS list of "unsexy" endangered conifers and cycads. Which of these are we prepared to say "this will have no effect on the ecosystem"?

The honest answer is, of course, we don't know. Sweeping statements about evolution don't help when we're getting specific. Can anyone here name a single species that has gone extinct by natural causes in the last thousand years?

I hope that at the very least at this point you can agree that IF POSSIBLE, we don't WANT species to go extinct by (or contributed to by) human activity.

If you're still with me, then the last issue is, all right, how much is is going to cost me in terms of dollars or inconvenience?

In normal circumstances, one can put the response in the terms of Judge Learned Hand, who opined a general rule in the context of steps that should be done to prevent injury to self and others in U.S. v. Carroll Towing, 159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947):

[T]he owner's duty, as in other similar situations, to provide against resulting injuries is a function of three variables: (1) The probability that she will break away; (2) the gravity of the resulting injury, if she does; (3) the burden of adequate precautions.

Learned Hand's rule has since been expressed as

B < PL

where B is the cost (burden) of taking precautions, and P is the probability of loss (L). In other words, it is a breach of a person's standard of care to not prevent an injury or loss up to the point where the cost of doing so is equal to the probability of a loss, multiplied by the cost of the loss.

Returning to our specific problem, we are again confronted with the problem that neither of us can specifically define L. However, its indeterminate nature favours assigning it an amount appropriate to the priceless nature of a species, rather than defining it as 0 due to the lack of certainty. Don't you agree?

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 16, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

gather small collections of powder of the wheat...

put this
within a frying pan.

add a small amounte of oil of the sun not smoke...

move the two together as if you wished them to become friends...

let that occur as you add small amounts of heat.

le boulevaard.

Posted by: en treatemente foix graux | March 16, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Amo, when I read the papers or history, I find myself liking animals more than people. Nothing hinky about it. I'd take a cherry tree over Bush anyday, too, doesn't make me "hinky" about trees. It means I really don't like Bush.

We evolved to live in a world with people AND animals AND plants. We got where we are by learning how to study,domesticate, hunt, and herd animals. It's only in the last 500-200 years we've been able to replace animals with machines. Edward O. Wilson had a nice book called "Biophilia" which he suggested that we may have an instinctive hunger for nature. Research indicates we usually select a savannah-like environment as "the best" out of pictures of various landscapes. We make our golf courses just like savannas, see.

Some of us are going to be psychically starved in towns or cities, being unable to relate with animals daily except through pets (or hitting birdies).

Many animal-lovers, I think, tie up their love of animals to an certain moral innocence lost by humans. I find this annoying myself. Animals aren't partial humans, they're fully realized beings in their rights. I think this is the due to an unspoken judeo-christian concept of the "garden of eden", which you rightly criticize, Amo.

I'm not saying your opinion is wrong, but "being realistic" can be code for "don't even bother to find a solution," for if we don't try, our problems will only increase anyway.

The position of PETA activists, I just don't understand, though. I think it's an case of idealism on a rampage, seeing animals as a symbol for innocence being plundered by a cold heartless society, and inappropriate projection/anthromorphism of their own emotional issues onto animals.

There are valid concerns for treating animals as more than objects, which unfortunately has been wrecked by PETA's lunacy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC: a few grammar points. Blood sugar still wonky.

To clarify what I meant by problems increasing-- for instance, if if we say "oh it's unrealistic to stop fishing salmon", then well, hello, we won't have any salmon to fish anyway in 20 years, except sluggish, mutant, one testicled- farmed salmon half choked on pollution, doped up on mercury, which has to be dyed pink to LOOK like "salmon".

THAT'S reality. We are learning that fish can live over a century or more, and that the growth rates of our favorite food fishes aren't as fast as we thought.

We stopped eating turtle soup more than a century ago, started making "mock turtle soup" with lamb instead, because turtles just don't reproduce that fast to meet the appetite of humans, eulogized by Lewis Carroll's excellent "Beeyooootifulllllll moccccckk turtle SOUUUUPPPPP" song.

You can easily read about a lot of animals eaten in the 18th century that we don't even have around as food anymore.

Gorillas and chimps are being hunted for bush meat and being eaten a lot faster than they can reproduce to make up for it.

When all animals are extinct and our cultural habits unchanged, watch out for Soylent Green... it is people.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Dang, now I'm hungry for some polluted salmon now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 16, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, did we make the boodle extinct?

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 16, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

amo, you mentioned that you thought it was hard to have a dissenting opinion here. I agree with you, but I suspect not for the reason you think. I think it's hard to have a dissenting opinion here because there are so many different opinions available. Which ones count as social consensus, and which ones count as dissent? I recognize that we have a lot in common here, and that there are certain matters of dogma. However, the dogma mainly concerns civility, grammar, and spelling. On matters of topic and content, the majority of people who post may be relatively like-minded, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room for another opinion to be expressed.

If you express an opinion in vigorous terms, you shouldn't be shocked (shocked!) to receive an opposing argument. If the majority of voices rolled over and immediately accepted a dissenting opinion, then it wouldn't be much of a dissent, would it? You have to disagree with some perceived majority in order for it to be a dissent. I happen to think you're incorrect about equating human influence on species extinction with the normal course of natural selection, but I have neither the power nor the desire to silence you. I just want to persuade you. If I'm not able to persuade you, then either I'm not persuasive enough, or you're not interested in being persuaded. Either way, we can have a civil conversation. So, it's easy to have a dissenting opinion here, so long as you're able to identify a majority opinion from which to differ.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 16, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

dr, I am not a candidate for the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. I'm unwilling to let it grow to the point of luxuriant flow, as it gets all hot and itchy in the summer, and staticky in the winter. Also, if I skip a day of washing, out of laziness or morning time-constraints, I really look like a scumball. But at least I still have hair on top. Although my ScienceSpouse tells me that it appears to be thinning.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 16, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I notice that in my post to amo, I go back and forth on whether there really is a consensus or not. What can I say, I'm conflicted. I just meant that I really couldn't interpret amo's initial comment about the difficulty of holding a dissenting opinion -- was it a real complaint, or an ironic commentary on the scattershot character of the discussions in the Boodle? I'm lost. Must be my Asperger's syndrome.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 16, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Achenblog: Where seldom is heard an Aspergian word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 16, 2006 6:11 PM | Report abuse

We are a lonely species. We need all the friends we can get.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 16, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Naw, ScienceTim, though it might be a lack of Luxuriant Flowing hair. Of course, you must take note that lack thereof has been labeled as the new sexy, so you may consider thinning to be a good thing.

On further reading, this august organisation was begun by a comittee of AAAS members. I am compelled to ask Joel, if at the latest gathering of science types attended by yourself if there was a scholarly select group of Luxuriantly flowing haired scientists expounding on matters of science great and small.

Posted by: dr | March 16, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Ann Druyan is very much alive and well. As is Ferris, by the way, and you might enjoy any of his books. He's done quite well for himself.

Thanks for reading that book. It takes some abrupt turns. Then falls apart completely. Narrative just disintegrates. But that's all part of the literary plan, ya dig.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 16, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

dr, I will check my notes, re: lugubriously flowering hares.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 16, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"Coming of Age in the Milky Way" by Ferris is an excellent book. As has been said before, it should be mandatory reading for anyone who has ever looked up.
Also, I see Bush has named Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho as the new Secretary of the Interior. I hope he isn't the type who will search for the Ivory-billed woodpecker by clear-cutting Arkansas and seeing what flies out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 16, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse


You know, when the Developers were tearing down the last of the Old Growth forests in the South to make way for chemical plants, new houses, etc the Republicans did nothing, and neither did the Democrats, who ran much of that part of the country at the time.

Now everyone wants to cuddle up to a creature which has undoubtedly been extinct for at least three or four generations (15 years equals a generation). But for which they and their parents generation did NOTHING to save.

If I were an Ivory Billed Woodpecker, a Carolina Parrotket, or Great Auk, I would choose not to come back, out of sheer spite for humanity.

Posted by: Kurt | March 16, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

discussing "what is science" .

SCIENCE is PATTERN recognition,
not truth
and the truth is always opinion.

or something close.

I could agree with you that science is not simply pattern
recognition, ultimately.

Originally it is just that, however, and that is what I am most interested in, the seeing or realization that something is happening or repeating itself.

- that's what the word pattern implies,
before the percieved pattern gets dragged back into the labyrinth

of the dreaded abstract mind, where it is dismembered, still screaming and made to fit our precious models.

We build models and call them reality, while ignoring real reality as being too "changeable."

However, if we don't "have a good feel" for reality we build our models incorrectly.

Additionally, we face the danger that if we don't know that we may have built our models incorrectly or if we build them without allowing for change we end up defending them because we don't know any better,

or it's too much work to change them, or we have too much ego invested, or we don't see the need, or we don't see the mistakes.

The biggest danger is not seeing the possibility of a mistake, which exists because we all have marvelous smoothing algorithms built into our minds that help us to fit things together,

perfectly - witness the fact that we are hardly ever aware of the asymmetry of our own faces or of others' faces.

If we proceeded as if a comparison to
reality were the ultimate judge or test of veracity rather than
a comparison to accepted theory, if we know how to think rather
than parrot, if the accepted body of knowledge is treated as
reliable information rather than the gospel. Suppose...

Suppose the truth is an animal. Suppose that the truth
existed in more dimensions than our normal 3+ dimensions.

Suppose the truth left behind trails that we name "patterns",
then much like the flatlanders in Goedel's example we
would percieve only fractions of the truth at a time.

Suppose we called these little traces TRUTH without knowing
what a whole truth was.

If we hold our mind's open to the
possibility that the truth is percievable only in it's
entirety, then it is only by the assimilation of all the
patterns into a single group at one time that we could percieve
this truth. But I've already said that that was impossible by
definition, we could at most build a pattern perciever, a tool of
perception, not a model and using it glance along the body of the
truth, pass truth through the tool to get an understanding, a feeling -
all the while using patterns in reality as tuning forks, to maintain
our objectivity.

Picking up and trying different views, forgetting
that one was math based, one psychology based, one religion based.
Suppose this tool was called a lens - suppose this particular lens
was called something snappy like:

"the point at which all things converge, where there is
no thing(yet) and all things(beginning)."

Suppose this tool was alive.

Sound familiar yet?

Then we would build our models differently or at least we not worship
them as false idols - or we would build fewer models and look for the
patterns - they exist without any help from us, we do not need to hold
onto anything, the truth exists and is there for the picking with the
fingers of our minds. Again, the point is that reality is sacred not
the models. A matter of emphasis, a different way of thinking. You
need different tools in addition to the old ones. No sacred cows are
being slaughterd.
Trust me.

A small experiment -

try to read the rest of my words without reflection.

Listen to me without opinion. Hear the cadence of my words, don't
think - percieve, read my sentence as one thought, at once. Picture
this - the first time you hear a record, do you hear it without
anticipation? Or do you unconciously or conciously try to figure
out what the next beat, sound will be, what the next words are, what
song it reminds you of - do you try to sing along?

Hear without anticipation -


See without interpretation -


Your experential history gives
you grounding and order, trust it, let reality arrange itself,
take your hands off, let things move where they want to - let the
order of the world ground you. You brought order to your personal chaos
by recognizing order within the world - it is still there, you are safe,
release your model, let it drop to the floor - if it's true it will still
be true when you pick it back up. Only a master could listen to a record
and hear it. What are these masters, masters of - reality - perception.
Your beliefs are based upon reality, whatever that is, and it doen't need
your belief to exist - it will still be there - if you can just resist the
temptation to anticipate knowing what it will be - it will still be what
it would have been, maybe. Why all this talk about seeing through the
eyes of a child? They see without anticipation - their reality is not
wrinkled or distorted by anticipation their perception is clearer
- it's not a theory it's a method - use it. Reality is my guide and
I shall not fear though it may turn out differently than I
anticipated for I AM reality and so are you.

You can start thinking again now. Let your models build themselves
as your needs dictate. Let different models exist simultaneously,
in the same space, for varied is the world. Let different models
exist concurrently for reality is fruitful, and yet let them be
one in their beingness for together they make truth. Do not bear
false witness against other models. Covet not another's model
for it is only a model..and so on. Variations on a theme y'all.


What I mean by "truth is opinion" is that interpretation of patterns
is always ultimately opinion in that we may use them predictively,
however, in finality they are always theory. We can not know the true
place or depth of a thing when we can not comprehend the totality of
the universe. We can only come close. It may seem, at this level of
our awareness, very close - however...

Posted by: being sciency... | March 16, 2006 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I think -- for the most part -- the 'boodle's come a long way in the year since Joel's initial IBW post (although I did receive a minor static shock upon entering the 'boodle this morning).

Here are some of my favorites from that happy day last April:

[Names have been omitted to protect the cantankerous.]

"Wow. I thought Achenbach was a little more sensitive and environmentally aware than that last ridiculous post would suggest."

"Another spot of ignorant, senseless and
and annoying verbal diarrhoea from our boy Joel here *eyeroll*
he has misnamed this idiotic rant-the only people reading it right now are birders and conservationists, who are unlikely to find his uneducated frat boy musings on the subject intelligent or humourous..."

"Perhaps the most extraordinarily bad taste I have ever seen in the Post. 15 hearty boos for a boob of a writer."

"Are they going to have a real writer address this incredible story?"

[Ah, yes -- the all-powerful "they."]

I'm reminded of a quote from the Post's Carolyn Hax:

"It's the rudest people who demand civility most."

[End of jackassy post. We now return you to your regularly scheduled 'boodle.]

Posted by: Achenfan | March 16, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

To being sciency...
Thoughtful, intriguing post -- thank you.

"For the mind of man is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced."

-- Francis Bacon

Posted by: Dreamer | March 16, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Here is a great article on why things like losing (or at least misplacing) a species is worrisome.

I like the National Geographic. They hire some pretty decent writers.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 16, 2006 7:37 PM | Report abuse

that's what is meant by

"being empty"

"clear light awareness,"

as Bacon said.

Posted by: thank you... | March 16, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

IMHO, this branch of science (especially the extinction issue) is probably responsible for a good deal of the enmity we often see between the average Joe and the scientific community, to the detriment of other scientific endeavors.

If we hunt something out of existence, or pave their *only* proven habitat then we can certainly take blame. The problem is more often than not someone gets dragged through the court system and loses their property because a toad was found in his yard which according to the scientists involved is the only group of that critter found in N years, and the only habitat they can live in. And then two years later, they're found in abundance a half mile away, living on a slightly different flavor of grass! Oops.

So what you have is the intersection of environmentalist do-gooders vs. business or private property owners, and it's not a small thing for them. The burden is on the biologists to prove these are truly not found anywhere, which is attempting to prove a negative. Like gee, who would've thought it would be hard to find a few 1/2 inch long green toads in many square miles of green grass! Well, duh. Of course it is.

Consider the Rat-Squirrel of Laos, for instance. Last spring it was thought to be a new species never before seen by science, although apparently eaten regularly by the locals! Now they say it's in the fossil record, went extinct and CAME BACK! Hmmm, any possibility the little buggers are shy and can smell a biologist a hundred miles away?

Maybe they were never extinct, but they just HID, like they were, I dunno, WILD ANIMALS or something?

I'm very sympathetic to critters. I don't kill anything unless I need to eat it or it's threatening me. I escort ladybugs out of the house on a regular basis, and leave spiders alone unless they're crawling on my pillow. But I'll be **mned if I'm going to lose my hard-win property and let some twit set himself up for a 10 year govt funded study because he found an interesting toad in my stream. They'll be "Crunchy Toad" chocolates in no time.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 16, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Closer to home, as far as species extinction:

Texas' Edwards Aquifer region underlies portions of six counties: Kinney, Uvalde, Medina, Bexar (San Antonio), Hays and Comal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worries that the combines current level of water withdrawl for all consumers from the Edwards Aquifer will adversely affect the aquifer-dependent species located at both Comal and San Marcos Springs during low flows.

Deterioration of water qulaity and/or water withdrawal from the Edwards Aquifer may adversely affect eight federally listed species: Comal Springs riffle beetle, Comal Springs dryopid beetle, fountain darter, Peck's Cave amphipod, San Marcos gambusia, Texas wild rice, Texas blind salamander, San Marcos salamander.

Sine January 1, San Antonio has had less than an inch of rain, when the normal total for this time of year is four inches. We have had less than 25 percent of the rain we mormally receive.

Given our propensity as a species to overpopulate, I think it high time churches begin to teach members of its congregations how to use birth control and perhaps the lessons should begin in Sunday school.

Posted by: Loomis | March 16, 2006 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Bill the IBW, glad to see you (so to speak)! Wish you'd fly by here more often.

Achenfan, thanks for posting some comments from the IBW Kit last year - one of the best, in my estimation.

I love woodpeckers. Downy woodpeckers (little guys) and flickers come to my backyard birdfeeders often. A few years ago, a pileated woodpecker came by 2 or 3 times - as big as a crow, very loud (sounded sort of like a chicken clucking, and it also does a jungle bird cackle). Amazing bird - looks a lot like a pterodactyl. I hope the IBW's still exist.

One of my favorite sounds is woodpeckers drumming - I hear that a lot this time of year, which I find pretty amazing because I live in a city, but in an area with big, big trees. My other favorite sounds (Nani, wait for it) - the clip clop of horse hooves, and the sound of horses munching grain...

Maybe the IBW's are just painfully shy, or like me, mostly lurking...

(Horse with No Name - there's a handle I might start using!)

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 16, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

mo, I meant to mention that I read somewhere(?) that Woody the Woodpecker is based on the IBW - that topknot thing, anyway, and maybe the annoying cackle. Not one of my favorite cartoons, actually, but if it helps the IBW, I'm all for it (just kidding! - I'm sure the profits never got to them). Bill the IBW, maybe you can sue...

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 17, 2006 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Haven't been able to keep up with the boodle. Stayed in the doctor's office all day yesterday, and came out with a bag of medicine. Feel so bad, combination flu and respiratory(?) infection. Slept for awhile, now up. Mudge, I don't care what anybody says, your writing is just wonderful, it really is, and I so enjoy reading your comments, even when I don't understand everything you're talking about. Same thing with Joel, and so many of you. RD, I hope you read the response from me concerning your comments in one of the other kits, I can't remember which one, and thanks Nani, for your kind words as always. And Linda Loo, what an interesting life yours, and how good for us.

As to the lady that sat down and didn't say anything to anyone, the reporter, that's a hard one to call. There could be any number of reasons for that situation, but I have to lean on the side of Mudge's take on that. If the Washington Post has hired her as a reporter, she certainly shouldn't be a shrinking violet, and as a reporter, she certainly isn't allowed the luxury of picking and choosing who to talk to concerning a news story, curiousity(?) might lead anywhere. That's the great attribute of it, there are no limits.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

SCC - drat the dreaded double word! Not my fault, not at all...

Posted by: Horse with No Name | March 17, 2006 12:40 AM | Report abuse

The movie "Thank You for Smoking," starring Aaron Eckhardt, opens in theaters today, March 17. In regards smoking: Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

Cassandra, the bug that you have is a nasty one. Hope you feel better soon.

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, hope you feel better. I read an article in the paper about a hospital that has a program for people to come to so they can laugh. It helps ease pain and stress -

Read the woodpecker kit from last year that Joel linked to today - the comments crack me up. Angry birders - talk about taking umbrage!

Drink plenty of fluids, rest. Lemon tea is good too...

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 17, 2006 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see the boodle survived my burst of verbosity. I hope Nani had her question answered. Short answer: Sign language is good. It is beautiful and that alone is enough, but there are more reasons.

Deaf people (and blind people to a lesser extent) are extremely at risk of having permanent language impairment if they don't learn the rules of normal language and grammar in their first year.

It doesn't even have to be the language they become fluent in later, but it has to be full-blown language exposure. I have met enough deaf people who never got that first flowering of language and, while they learn language lifelong, they have some characteristic concept and language dysfunctions that do not fit with an ESL speaker at all.

Some hearing people can develop such language dysfunctions due to repeated ear infections as infants, auditory processing disorder, yes.

Without an accurate diagnosis, they're going to be labelled slow because they of necessity will be visual and tacitle learners in an environment that rewards auditory learners with complete language basics. I am thrilled to see early childhood language research being done so throughly.

Forcing deaf children to be basically deprived of language and practice oral movements as though they were trained dogs or parrots to communicate sounds they can never hear or understand... it is unspeakable child abuse. And I am glad the research is actually being done to look at this subject fairly.

The best "oralists" almost always were children who became postlingually deaf-- deaf after they had learned to speak and understand language, (or were only mildly hearing impaired), so they had something to work upon. BTW, Helen Keller was actually post-lingually deaf and blind from a fever, not born deaf-blind. She had to relearn language... in a tactile mode, using hands.
Helen had learned the rules of conversation and not interrupting, how to solicit information, how to track patterns in speech and word use patterns... the skills needed to learn language and grammar that every child masters fluently by age 1, or never.

I cannot overstate the number of existing deaf adults who are functionally illiterate... and functionally illinguate (for lack of a better word), thanks to profound language deprivation as a child.

Just a reminder, always get your child tested for hearing in first year of life... and help them learn speech by reducing noise when you're talking to/around them. Even a TV or a radio can blur their ability to absorb what you're saying.

Language, the thing we brag makes us unique above animals, is actually much more fragile than we realize. The constant state of language change is proof of this.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 17, 2006 1:12 AM | Report abuse


Your comments concerning deafness are quite insightful. I became deaf as an adult from an inner ear disease. I have been to numerous sign language classes, but just cannot get into them. And I know it because of the years of using language and a mental block for signing. Deaf children pick up signing quite easily, but for adults, it a nightmare, at least it has been for me. For years I refused to wear my hearing aid, but now I have no choice. I lost what little hearing I had in one ear, after surgery to make it better, and the other one is in bad shape, hence, the hearing aid. I believe hearing-impaired people should try as hard as possible to stay within the main stream of society, as much as their disability will allow, but I also value the comforts of being around those like me. I believe people are sometimes ashamed of people when they have disabilities, and just can't deal with those situations, but I also feel that those of us that suffer with these afflictions have to be patient with people because so many times they just don't understand. Sure there are folks that don't want to understand, but I feel sometimes it just that people don't know what to say or what to do when placed in a situation with someone with a disability. My mother was blind most of her adult life, and it was very hard for her, but she never ever gave up. She was someone to be reckoned with, pistol and all. The woman was blind and carried a pistol, and was not hesistant to pull it out. We all knew this, and definitely gave her a wide berth, yet loved her dearly. Imagine being in the room with a blind woman and a pistol. At one time we tried to get it away from her, but she hid it and we could never find it. I'll never forget one morning I got up, and someone had left the back door open, and I run back and tell my mother the back door is open, and she immediately gets the pistol. We all ease to the kitchen slowly as if expecting someone to jump out, and something in the kitchen made a noise, something in the sink, and my mother shoots the gun. A bullet runs across the table, and bounces off a couple pieces of furniture and ends up in the shag carpeting in the dining room. Mind you I'm standing in the kitchen the direction she's shooting in. By the grace of God, I did not get shot. We scolded my mother so about that incident, but we couldn't help but laugh, and I know, it wasn't funny in the least when it happened. Another time I got off work late one night and came home and she was standing in bathroom window armed with pistol talking about she heard someone outside talking. And I asked her, how was she going to shoot with it being dark, which way, I said you can't aim. She just felt I suspect safe with that pistol. She informed me that when she shot, whoever was out there would be on their way. Good point. Unless you shoot them. I don't believe she wanted to shoot anyone, just think the pistol gave her a sense of safety, but, we never had that sense of safety.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the long post, just have not been able to sleep tonight. Thanks for the "get well wishes" from all. Hope everyone has a good day, and that God blesses you beyond your expectations, through Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, hope you're feeling better this morning! Your story about your mother is wonderful. My dad lost sight in one eye and used a cane because of a service-related back injury, but I never thought of him as being disabled. He just went right on about his business. I can imagine that it's difficult to deal with people who don't have any idea of how to relate to those with disabilities. What morons they are not to stop, think, and take the time to be empathetic.

Posted by: slyness | March 17, 2006 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

ScienceTim, I was being ironic. I can hold my own. LOL It was a bit overwhelming, however, to have all the contrasting points of view aimed at me all at once and released with both barrels. I don't mind persuasive argument as much as 'lambasted until in agreement'. And honestly, I wasn't trying to aggressively state any point of view; if it read that way, then that's my mistake in how I wrote my post. I was simply stating a different point of view. However, it has been my experience in previous conversations of this time that there is a 'holy grail' mentality, i.e., that people should never question the science, never debate the subject. It comes down to 'you're bad if you don't believe XXX, you're okay if you believe like us', as if it's some giant 'either/or' and you must choose sides now. Apparently, I have gone over to the Dark Side of the Force, LOL, but the good news is that there's still a chance for some Yoda out there to save me...That approach is one of the huge problems that environmental advocates face in dealing with the public at large.

Son of Carl,

"I hope that at the very least at this point you can agree that IF POSSIBLE, we don't WANT species to go extinct by (or contributed to by) human activity."

Of course not! I don't anyone to go around deliberately eradicating any species and yet the range of human activity is so extensive. How do you know what activities to stop? Yes, yes, beyond the obvious ones like hunting, strip-mining, dumping chemicals or clear-cutting? I'm talking about everyday life, like building houses, paving roads, people owning businesses, etc. There have to be species affected by these things; how can one possible defend them ALL? And so therefore, which ones are the most important to defend? Who makes the determination and how? And do we have enough data to support the contention? And if we're wrong about the data, let's say because we find a new species previously unknown and our efforts fail -- what? Can we at least say we tried?

That is not to say don't do anything, it's just extraordinarily hard to know what TO do or what NOT TO do. To the point where I am sure the average person, such as myself, can't fathom it beyond reduce, reuse, recycle.

As Error pointed out, it's frustrating for some homeowner or whatever to be told they built a home in the last remaining habitat of the fuzzy whatever...

I agree there is a strong *moral* argument, no matter how one slices the issue. And there are people who really dig animals more than humans, and I apologize for offending anyone but I still think it's weird to prefer four-leggers to two-leggers (but the world is made up of all types of people, so who am I to judge really?)...

I just don't know if we're working with a flawed model here...After all, recorded human history is only an infinitessimal speck when compared to the history of the Earth so it comes back again to 'how do we really know'?

And the answer is, it seems, that we don't so it's better to stick with the status quo?

Posted by: amo | March 17, 2006 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Wolbrod, your comments about the hearing aid made me remember something. Has anyone noticed that since those Bluetooth cell phone earpieces have debuted, some people have take to leaving them on their ear even when not actually using them? This drives me completely bonkers, and I've actually had to ask someone to removed hers, because she was planning on sitting down to lunch with me while wearing the blasted thing. So, my question is, how long is it before the technology is affordable enough to offer Bluetooth enabled earpieces which fit inside the ear canal, Jack Bauer-style? And what will that mean for civilization as we know it?

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Holy smokes. No typing before coffee. Period. Yikes!

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

From today's WaPo, a review of the film adaptaion of "Thank You..." (that's for you, LindaLoo:


Posted by: bc | March 17, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

SCC: forgot the ")".

Cassandra, I too hope you're feeling better soon.

The IBWp Kit and Kaboodle from last year *was* classic.

Now, I'm going to see how my brackets fared in comparison to the other folks in the pool. I fear that my brackets are in SHAMBLES. Chaos. Utter and complete disarray.

And I'll be out $10.


Posted by: bc | March 17, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, so many enlightening and beautifully written comments. Thank you Wilbrod. My inability to articulate a comparable response is frustrating. So these are probably more "nani sequiturs".

Marlie Maitlin (sp), Children of a Lesser God, is a talented actress. Why isn't she given roles that aren't focused solely on her hearing impairment? She's so much more than a deaf person. When one of the contestants in Survivor disclosed to the others that she was deaf they immediately grouped up, excluding her from the conversation, and concluded that she wouldn't be able to hold up her share of the necessary teamwork. A few episodes later she was voted off.

Shyness is a disability. People who are shy have been programmed or brainwashed at an early age by their environment (or perhaps it is hereditary). Telling a shy person they "shouldn't" be shy is like telling a deaf person they shouldn't be deaf. Shy people are very aware of and do try to compensate for the discomfort they unintentionally cause others by trying extra hard to be a good parent, employee, friend.

Animals. In another boodle, someone mentioned cow-tipping as a rite of passage. Rite of passage into what? Yes, I agree that PETA sometimes goes too far, but it is nothing more than abuse to knock down a defenseless sleeping cow risking broken bones. I'm not against racing horses or dogs. But it is abuse to drug these animals so they can keep running at maximum speed despite injuries.

Posted by: Nani | March 17, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Kurt -- thank you for the words of support of our position TO BE LEFT ALONE, especially by the birders. I sort of wish the crews wandering around would figure out that passive sound and visual collection devices powered by solar panels sending their findings by radio mean that they hassle us a lot less than by paddling around in their canoes. If the goal is to confirm our existence, confirm our existence. If the goal is to be the One Big Birder who has seen us, then follow your ego. I'm not a line entry in someone's log book.

Mostly Lurking -- good luck suing the media companies. If they claim the character Woody to be a parody, we're pretty much sitting on a nest of empty eggs. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have standing to sue in Federal court.

I'm just glad that with the new PATRIOT USA ACT that section 415 about library records has never been used by the DoJ to track us down. For communication over long distances, it's a lot easier to IM or e-mail than it is to pound out a long message with your beak on a hollow log.

Posted by: Bill the IBW | March 17, 2006 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, thank you for your concern about my daughter. Truthfully, that she might lose her hearing is one of the least of my worries regarding my dear little fixer-upper.
Hope you are feeling better.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

The first deaf school in the United States was opened in Connecticut...just wanted to share this little bit of history with you:

In April of 1817, the first school for the deaf in the United States opened in Hartford, Connecticut. It was first called the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons; and, later, was renamed the American School for the Deaf.

The first class in the school had eight students. They quickly learned many of the signs that Gallaudet and Clerc taught them. For the first time in their lives, they were able to ommunicate with others. Other people quickly learned about the school and, by the end of the first winter, the enrollment grew to thirty students.

Gallaudet's school was a success. By the end of the first year, the president of the United States, James Monroe, had paid a visit to the school. This led to the
government granting a large piece of land and a three-story building for the growing school.

By 1864, Congress authorized the Institution to confer college degrees, and President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law. Gallaudet was made president of the entire corporation, including the college, which that year had eight students enrolled.

President Gallaudet presided over the first commencement in June, 1869 when three young men received diplomas for having completed the entire four-year course of studies. Their diplomas were signed by President Ulysses S. Grant and to this day the diplomas of all Gallaudet graduates are signed by the current U.S. President.

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm Irish!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If anyone is wearing that bluetooth toy around the office, they are claiming superiority and you have every right to say, 'How's it going 7 of 9?"(Obligatory Star Trek reference on seeing the things)

Posted by: dr | March 17, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Haha. I usually grumble something about how it's going in mission control.

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I'm Irish, too - from both sides of the Pale. The first emigrant in my dad's family left Dublin and settled in Kershaw County, SC around 1735 because he and his wife were disinherited for leaving the Catholic Church and becoming Baptists. My mom's family is Scotch-Irish, being among the lowland Scots who were settled by James I in what is now Northern Ireland in the first two decades of the Seventeenth century. They emigrated to Lancaster County, PA around 1760 and moved south along the Great Wilderness Road to settle in Cabarrus County, NC. So...Happy St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

Posted by: slyness | March 17, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra: I hope your convalescence is rapid...we've been playing pass-the upper-respiratory-bug at our house...LindaLoo: Your insights into teaching poeple the values of conrtolling population growth should be heeded by all...If we as a species fali to heed the most basic of ecological principles, we could , in a worst case, unwittingly accelerate the collapse of the entire biosphere. There's an increasing number of articles out there that document climate change on an ecosystem level...NatGeo, in their January 06 publication regarding polar bears; the 10 Mar issue of Science documenting climate change in the Arctic biome, particularly the Bering Sea. The latter has a particularly interesting take on the future of the fisheries in the Bering Sea...put simply global warming affects the plants' survival/reproductive rates; this affects the ability of animals to feed; keystone species survivability becomes precarious, perhaps to the point of extinction; food chains collapse; food webs collapse...our food source becomes affected...the proverbial snake eating its tail problem, w/ apologies to Kekule. Happy St. Patrick's day, even if you're of Irish-Protestant descent as I am...

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Okay, somebody please let me know which of the following I should be most worried about.

1) We are in the midst of the biggest die-off of species in 65 million years.

2) Our planet may be morphing into an Easy-Bake oven.

3) The party of "Tax and Spend" has been replaced by the party of "Don't Tax but still Spend."

4) One of the Big Bosses is Irish and I forgot to wear green.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

(4) RD...offer up a CB/cabbage lunch to score those lost points.

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

RD: as long as you're not wearing Orange, you should be ok.

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Boodle Nov 11, 2005 12:40 p.m.

It was quite a surprise to learn that our family has Irish blood--in the form of Dermot MacMurrough, whose name, to this day, lives in Irish infamy!

One of the five kings of Ireland, MacMurrough (he from Leinster) was responsible for the first British invasion of Ireland in 1169. (The underlying cause: sex--yes, sex.)

The mercenary he engaged, British (Norman) Marcher baron and knight Richard Strongbow, took, as his recompense, the hand of Dermot's daughter. The fighting continued for several years and when Strongbow arrived in 1170 to take Eva's hand as his prize, legend has it that the marriage took place on a battlefield so awash in fresh blood that the hem and lower portions of my distant great-grandmother's gown turned bright crimson! (Wouldn't that be an heirloom to be passed down!)

The British (Norman) invaders soon held the land from Waterford to Dublin, and when Dermot died in 1171, Richard "Stongbow" de Clare proclaimed himself king of Leinster.

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Cameras have been only a fairly recent invention of mankind. But charcoal, the canvas, and oil paints and watercolors are not. The artist Daniel Maclise

decided to commemorate the marriage of my distant great-grandmother and great-grandfather in a painting titled, "The Marriage of Pricess Aoiffe of Leinster with Richard de Clare." The painting currently hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland. Barnes and Noble used Maclise's artwork on the dustjacket of one of their books (printed by B&N), "History of Ireland" by Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry.

(Some of the elements of the painting look very much like scenes from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail.")

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I apparently need to start with a coffee at home. No green. Why did I have to wear my bowler hat and orange jacket today?

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 17, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I'm pretty sure you can see Launcelot just entering the painting, stage right, mouthing the words "my idiom" with great vigor.

But I AM sure Aoiffe puts Princess Lucky to shame in the overally "regal bearing" department.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

sorry that I can't type...started with too much coffee at home

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

No green in the coffee is a good thing, SoC.

Although some Irish Cream creamer might work well.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

SCC: overall "regal bearing"

Where's my creamer???

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

About deafness:

Last night I went to see Billy Joel at the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center) in DC. It was great and I won't go into too much detail about how our seats had been co-opted by the spotlight guy so they upgraded us to fabulous 5th-row next to the stage seats where Billy was looking us in the eye when he was on the piano.

Nope.. that's not my point.

There was a section to our right, with a great view of the stage, of about 20-25 deaf people and their friends. There was a woman signing all the songs for them and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. When Billy sang the song "We Didn't Start the Fire," the interpreter held up signs with the lyrics because they are fast-paced and include mostly names and quick references to history that would be lost when signed that quickly.

During the chorus, which repeats "We didn't start the fire, it was always burnin' since the world's been turnin'" several times in a row, a man stood by her and signed the words. The signing was very dramatic-looking, what with the words "fire" and "world turning" included. By the middle of the song the entire section was signing the words along with him! They were singing along in sign language--something I never thought about. They all were dancing and had the happiest faces on while they were doing it.

I wonder how many opportunities a deaf person has to sing along with hearing folks? It was very moving for me to see. And so fitting after reading this boodle yesterday.

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Shafer basically owns the Judy Miller story:

Sorry there's no new kit this ayem, but I have to columnize AND prepare to give a speech tonight, and will post it maybe this weekend unless I can recycle the jokes for a column or, you know, a novel or screenplay. I get nervous before a speech, not because I think it will go badly, but because I'd rather be monosyllabically loitering in the corner of the room near the exit. I am getting my tux altered because, as the guy at the tux place said, it clearly had shrunk over the years while hanging in the closet.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 17, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse



I'd gladly donate to a charity to see this! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I like the lyric-sign idea. Makes me think of the Van Halen "Right Now" video. Did the person holding the signs flip each one into the crowd when she was done with it?

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Er, that was me. TO TBG. Going bye-bye now for a while.

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse


Is it that light-blue tux you wore to the prom? The one with the frilly shirt?

You look awesome in that and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

On the Judith Miller story: The bloggers have spoken... the bastards.

Posted by: Tim | March 17, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra I also send my wishes that you feel better soon. I had that bug about a month and half ago, and still feel it a little.

I also have bad hearing, born with nerve deafness (which means hearing aids are of no use to me). In fourth grade I had a teacher who on discovering this while looking at my transcripts (I had just transferred from another school district) decided that being hearing impaired also meant I would have a speech impediment. So she sent me off to the schools speech therapist. I was supposed spend an hour each week with this very nice lady. After fifteen minutes into our first meeting she sent me back to class. The note she gave to give my teacher said I had a larger vocabulary than just about any student she's ever worked at that age, and wasn’t speech impaired in the least, and the only words I had trouble with were those of French origin (I pronounced them the way they were spelled, silly me). The reason: I was an avid reader. I fell in love with books as soon as I learned to read.

In my experience, when I tell someone of my hearing problems they are almost always accommodating and apologetic if they forget “the rules”. “The rules”: Never in the dark, always face me when speaking and never whisper (a whisper sounds like wind and nothing more).

I’ve only ever met two people who didn’t even try to understand and had no compassion. And here’s a little anecdote about the worst of these two. A friend is trying to have a conversation with me from another room. I explain I can’t hear around corners. She try’s to continue conversation with her back turned. I explain that this is the same to me as around corners. She speaks in very soft voice, almost a whisper. I explain that this sounds like wind to me. She then tells me that she’s upset and that I am the most difficult person she has ever tried to talk with. So I explain that if that’s true she’s very lucky. Then very irately she say’s things to me that won’t pass the “wirdy dird filter” (did I spell that right). So I explain that she only has this problem when she trying to have a conversation with me. I have this problem with EVERY conversation I have with anyone ALL MY LIFE. And can you believe, she still thought I was being deliberately difficult.

Posted by: omni | March 17, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm not Irish, but there are Bells of Ireland budding in my flower bed and I can sing you a song:

McNamara's Band
Oh! Me name is McNamara,
I'm the leader of the band.
Although we're few in numbers
We're the finest in the land.
We play at wakes and weddings
And at ev'ry fancy ball,
And when we play to funerals
We play the march from Saul.

Oh! The drums go bang,
And the cymbals clang,
And the horns they blaze away;
McCarthy pumps the old bassoon
While I the pipes do play;
And Hennessey Tennessee tootles the flute,
And the music is somethin' grand;
A credit to old Ireland is McNamara's band.
Oh! My name is Uncle Yulius and
From Sweden have I come,
To play with McNamara's band
And bear the big bass drum,
And when I march along the street
The ladies think I'm grand
They shout "There's Uncle Yulius
Playing with an Irish band"
Oh! I wear a bunch of shamrocks
And a uniform of green,
And I'm the funniest looking Swede
That you have ever seen.
There's O'Briens and Ryans
And Sheehans and Meehans
They come from Ireland, but by Yimminy
I'm the only Swede in McNamara's band.
Oh! The drums go bang,
And the cymbals clang,
And the horns they blaze away;
McCarthy pumps the old bassoon
While I the pipes do play;
And Hennessey Tennessee tootles the flute,
And the music is somethin' grand;
A credit to old Ireland is McNamara's band.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Posted by: Nani | March 17, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke *L*
Yes, there is a Lancelot! (See about halfway down the list--I'm 28 generations later, from the top!) Unfortunately, I shall probably never be able to show my face in an Irish pub on St. Paddy's. Sorry about all the oppression our family caused you, my fellow Irish--men and women!

Marshal lineage:

Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster
Aoiffe MacMurrough/Richard “Strongbow” de Clare (also Fitz Gilbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Isabel de Clare/William Marshal, (4th Earl of Pembroke)
(whose effigy was usd in Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code”)
Maud Marshal/William de Warenne
John de Warenne/Alice de Lusignan
Eleanor de Warenne/Henry de Percy
Henry de Percy/Eleanor de Arundel
Henry de Percy/Idoine de Clifford
Isabel de Percy/William de Aton
Katherine Aton/Ralph Eure (or Evers)
William Eure/Maud Fitz Hugh
Ralph Eure/Eleanor Greystoke
William Eure/Margaret Constable
Ralph Eure/Muriel Hastings
William Eure/Elizabeth Willoughby
Ralph Eure/Margery Bowes
Anne Eure/Lancelot Mansfield
John Mansfield/ m. 2nd Elizabeth ?
Elizabeth Mansfield/Rev. John Wilsom
Rev. John Wilson Jr./Sarah Hooker
Susanna Wilson/Rev. Grindal Rawson
Edmund Rawson/Elizabeth Howard (granddaughter of Experience Mitchell, settled Plymouth in 1623)
Nathan Rawson/Mary Chase
Edward Rawson/Lucy Jones
Hannah J. Rawson/Benona B. Rogers
Emeline C. Rogers/Thomas Benton Loomis
Benton Benoni Loomis/Jenny Freiwald
Merwin Benton Loomis/Lillian Swanson
Linda Loomis/Bill Barton

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Just to let you know, I'm going to drastically cut back my blogging on the Achenblog to attempt to work during the next two monhts toward achieving this dream I have. I shall pop in at the Achenblog from time to time. Nothing like doing different on one's birthday. Here's my dream/wish/desire--nothing like verbalizing it and putting it to paper:

Dan Brown's wife, Blythe Newlon Brown, hails from Palmdale, Calif. Drive east from Bakersfield (Calif.) to Mojave, out on the desert, drive due south, and you'll arrive in a fairly short time in Palmdale. Do you think our (Blythe amd my) physical proximity in growing up near each other will help me with my request/dream, below:

I would like to attend the Cannes Film Festival to see the opening of Ron Howard's movie, "The DaVinci Code." My reasons are several and important. First, I am a descent of William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke, whose effigy is used as a plot device in Dan Brown's book, on which the film is based. May 17 is my birthday and I shall be 55. Tom Hanks and I attended the same college--Cal State Sacramento. The family history of Loomis is located at the Loomis Chaffee School website. My antecedents also include the Rev. John Wilson, first pastor of the First Church of Boston, and the Rev. Thomas Hooker, founder of Hartford, Conn. I live with a very rare genetic disorder. For all these reasons, I would like to be able to attend the film's premiere in Cannes, two days before it opens worldwide to the public.

Happy St. Paddy's!!!

Posted by: Loomis | March 17, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"rather be monosyllabically loitering in the corner of the room"

Oh sure, let's go THERE again.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 17, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

*making note of future Tarzan reference possibilities when LindaLoo returns* :-)

Best of luck and safe travels, Linda! *hugs*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Just to jump on the bandwagon-- my dad suffers from otosclerosis and although I'm not exactly sure about how it's passed on, I figure I've got at least a 25% of having it later in life as well. I suppose the good thing is that now I know about it and can be on the lookout for syptoms, although there's not really a treatment for it. My dad had a stapedectomy, but I still suspect that he's only at about 50%.

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Chris Matthews is taking all sorts of heat for his extra-cirricular speechifying. I guess WaPo wage slaves can earn some coin on the side anyway they can.

If Joel wants to call being a wedding DJ "giving a speech" that probably fits within the confines of an elastic face-saving euphemism. I guess he can't wait for the royalty checks from all the books we bought last week when he was flogging them so hard.

He needs to learn some HTML so he can slip the Donate To The Porch College Fund button on the page.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 17, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

That's hearing loss AND a rare genetic disorder. A two-fer!

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Break a leg, Joel.

Reminds me of an episode of "The Office" a few weeks ago when one of the sales guys delivered a doctored Mussolini speech as the keyote to a conference, complete with gesticulating, yelling, and podium pounding. "The Revolution begins HERE!"

C'mon Joel, you *know* you want to.


Posted by: bc | March 17, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that owning your own tuxedo is a critical element to developing the gravitas, the personal throw-weight, the sheer glamour required to excel as a Postie. No normal human owns his own, unless he can rent it out for spare change -- maybe make enough to pay for having the Rolls waxed by an outside contractor, give the chauffeur the afternoon off.

I did have a friend in grad school with his own tux. He needed it as a singer with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, thereby defining him as "no normal human." It's a professional expense, you know. This bit of personal property induced me to recruit him as Special Emergency Backup Best Man -- if my Primary Best Man were delayed in arriving at the wedding site, I'd have it covered.

As it happened, the best man was on time, possibly for the first time in his life, but the ScienceBride was over an hour late, and forgot to bring critical elements of the ScienceGroom's clothing from the ScienceApartment. My best man and I had to do a certain amount of clothing-swapping between his regular clothes (black, Goth-ish) and his wedding clothes (black, Goth-ish) so that I could wear the extras. He's about 4-5 inches shorter than me, but I have stubby legs. I wore my father's shoes and socks. It was a team effort.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

This is really too bad. Everyone loves Ivory-billed Woodpecker. What ever happened to the blue footed booby?

The Guide to Getting More Out of Life

Posted by: The Beautiful Life | March 17, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Wedding stories are always the best, ScienceTim! When I married my first husband, his father went to pick up his mother and sister (who was a bridesmaid) at their hotel. They got caught in the traffic surrounding a parade to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., and were late...the best photo was of all the guys, standing on the landing to the church, looking for them.

Posted by: slyness | March 17, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse


Shouldn't that be the StorytellerApartment et al?

Where were you prior to the ScienceWedding that you did not have said critical elements?

Re: Joel's post. What the heck is "columnizing"? Did I just learn a new word for what I do all day (hint: not work)

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 17, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Son of Carl dares to question me:

"Shouldn't that be the StorytellerApartment et al?"
The ScienceSpouse is not into the storytelling scene, man, and therefore is not the StorytellerSpouse (although she is the spouse of a storyteller). A little bit of ScienceLeaven doth leaveneth the whole lump, hence it's all ScienceXXXX references.

"Where were you prior to the ScienceWedding that you did not have said critical elements?"
Possible answers:
(1) That would be telling. Or,
(2) Trucking chairs and other paraphernalia to the wedding site, an historic mansion in Howard Coounty that used to be cheap to rent (Waverly Mansion). It ain't cheap anymore. I was only without my shoes. Um, ballet slippers. And my tights. I asked, when I left the apartment, "should I take these things with me, so you won't have to worry about them?" I was scolded and sent on my way. So you see, it's not my fault, not my fault at all.

I porbably should have stayed mysterious, and used Answer #1.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Joel, remember that for your speech you can always use snippets from all the boodling that's been "held for review" and no one will be the wiser (most of all you) ha ha ha

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Well, heck, looks like a Word of the Day to me.

Main Entry: col·um·nize
Pronunciation: 'kä-l&m-"nIz
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -nized; -niz·ing
transitive senses
1 a : to establish a column in or on or of b : to establish in a column
2 : to make efforts related to a newspaper product that may include first-person references and/or opinion, traditionally including a mugshot photograph in addition to a standard writer's byline
3 : to connect letters into words, words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs such that ideas are formed and editors are mollified
4 : to work oneself into a state where blisters may form on fingertips
intransitive senses : to make or establish a column : WRITE STUFF
- col· noun

Posted by: Bayou Self | March 17, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

In the interest of accuracy and clarity, we would wish to point out that Bayou Self's recent posting should have carried the label "Fake Word of the Day." We regret the error of omission.

Posted by: Bayou Self's Public Editor | March 17, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse


You know you couldn't have stuck to Answer #1; StorytellerTim would have never forgiven you. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 17, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I've worked with several deaf persons, but due to my own limitations (a lack of any skill whatsoever, when it came to signing), we mostly wrote our conversations. One girl and I rode the bus to and from work everyday, and had what must be the most private conversations ever had on public transit, on the pages of her note pad. We talked a lot about idiot bosses on the way home so she could destroy the evidence without fear of any workmates seeing it!
I have tried over the years to become better versed in sign, like anything use it or lose it. All that I retain is please and thankyou.

Mr. dr and I were married at the very end of the blue tux era. He despised coloured tuxes, and choose a white tuxes with black trousers for the gents. It means I can look at my wedding pictures and not be appalled at how bad blue tuxes were.

Linda, good luck to you. As ever should you be successful in your mission, we expect a full report!

Posted by: dr | March 17, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Omni, my family is the worst for that, and I think it because I became deaf in adulthood so they haven't come to terms with my condition. They hide their face, turn their backs, talk from another room, all kinds of things, and it gets really tiring. Mine is also nerve deafness, but has its cause in the inner ear from disease. And you are so right about the speech situation, people naturally assume one cannot talk because of the deafness, and in my case I talk too much, so that always throws them off. People assumed because my mother was blind, she was also deaf, and as long as they kept that to themselves, she was okay, but let them say it, and the party was over. I know I'm giving perhaps a bad impression of my mother, and that is not my intention, because I truly loved her and still love her although she isn't here, but she was one fiesty(?) lady.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, hope you make it to Cannes and have a wonderful time. My eldest had a weekend there when she did the unpaid internship in Paris two summers ago. I have da*ning evidence: the photo of her and a buddy topless. Beware the beach!

Posted by: slyness | March 17, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

A short story related to deafness ...

In one of my high school classes, journalism class it was, I could look out the window at the elementary school next door. It was a special ed school. And I remember one day when kids were playing four square, that game with a ball and four squares (duh) where you attempt to bounce the ball past opponents and move from square #4 to square #1, or is it the other way around? Anyway, I was fascinated because the kids playing it that day were deaf. The ball would bounce around until a play was finished and then all the kids would be signing in rapid fashion to each other, apparently chatting and joking about the play that had just been made. At first, it seemed odd. Then, it seemed perfectly natural. The kids looked like they were having a good time.

Posted by: Bayou Self's Public Editor | March 17, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Because of my daughter's hearing problems, as well as other reasons, her speaking was delayed. We taught her a few basic signs. Once, while grocery shopping, she started to sign "more" over and over again with great enthusiasm. (Visualize one of those little wind-up monkeys with the cymbals.) Anyway, it took us a moment to figure out why. Then we realized that we had parked the grocery cart, with my daughter in it, directly in front of the cookies.
Given sufficient motivation, communication will always occur.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that when a blind lady brandishes a pistol and says the party is over, there are just no two ways about it.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 17, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Here hoping your dream comes true, Linda Loo.

Joel, good luck with the speech, and isn't it unforgiving when a tux gets too small? I know it isn't your fault, because you probably haven't gain a pound since you bought it. Right?
I can't sign a lick, not one lick, not even the hello and goodbye. I've been to more sign language classes than I have department stores, and have never been able to comprehend the art of signing. I am not giving up though, I'm going to try it again, because the hearing aid doesn't help sometimes. I get so depressed sometimes because I can't sign, and I need to know how.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Joel. Just don't tell him you like his belt.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra. Touch your chest. Cross your arms in front of you. Point to your child. That's the most important one to know.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I just reviewed NASA's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2006 amended announcement (ROSES-06). NASA wants to explore the solar system, so I hear, but they don't want to give away the punchline before they can get people there. Therefore, they are stripping away any programs that might give us too much prior knowledge.

They also seem to be abandoning most of the Earth sciences program, including funding for using the data from the Earth Observing System satellites. It turns out that there is a way to muzzle Jim Hansen, after all.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I personally hate the emphasis that NASA is putting on manned space flight. Sure, it is sexy in that "Right Stuff" kinda way, but a project like Huygens is far more impressive to me than blasting our fleshy bits into orbit. As one of those Trekkie kids I love the mystique of space travel as much as anyone. One of my earliest memories is watching the ghostly image of Neil stepping down, and it was good. However the moon was low hanging fruit from a different era. I want Voyager on steroids, not Apollo.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I nominate this for the Boodle of the Month Award:

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 01:37 PM:

Cassandra. Touch your chest. Cross your arms in front of you. Point to your child. That's the most important one to know.

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

C'mon SciTim, you know robots don't have The Right Stuff. People do.

How's NASA gonna get anyone to pay attention (or to send money) if they don't give people a *very interesting* Reality TV show to watch?

I just wrote a really snide bit of satire here that I decided to delete because I was being capricious about people's lives, and didn't feel good about it.

I'm not in the business, but it seems to me that you've got it right, SciTim. Being human, we *want* to explore space for ourselves; to actually *go* there. I'm all for doing that in a sensible manner. It would be very helpful to those folks making the trip if we had a very good idea of what we were getting them into.


Posted by: bc | March 17, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

NASA and the space program have often been thinly disguised military research programs. We wouldn't have the Mission to Earth type technology if we couldn't also use it for spying on Iranian weapons labs. This pure science stuff doesn't give us the technology we need to beat the Chinese to Mars.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 17, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

From a nonscientist point of view, it seems to me that throughout history those people sending others into the unknown to explore were sending "robots" as far as they were concerned. I don't think the kings and queens of Europe really gave a hoot, personally, for the men they sent off in ships around the world. If they fell off the edge of the flat earth, well then we found out that it was really flat, didn't we?

It was this attitude that allowed the world to be explored.

But to use one of my dad's catch phrases:

What the he11 do I know?

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree, one hundred percent, TBG, and thanks RD. Have a good and blessed weekend everyone, be careful, and enjoy your families, and give God some of your time through Christ. My love to you all. I'm going to seriously work on this bug.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 17, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Nice call on "The Grate Race II: Missin' to Mars" yellojkt.

I'm off to run an enduro down south this weekend. No, Error, not Sebring (though I do have some friends racing there this weekend), but some Club races at VIR.

Ciao for the weekend.


Posted by: bc | March 17, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

good luck bc...may you run wfo, and long may you run

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little unusual in the science community in that I like the manned flight program. It's not the manned program that is killing us. Science at NASA costs a smallish fraction of the manned program, so ripping the science programs to pay for manned flight is a joke. That amount could easily be restored with nary a blip in the budget, if that's what the Administration wanted to do.

I am becoming convinced that for once, my cynicism and pessimism were well-placed -- I think that the purpose of the "Vision for Space Exploration" is to kill NASA. Give NASA a job that obviously belongs to NASA, then make sure that it has inadequate resources. The goal of the Bush Administration insofar as NASA is concerned is to make sure that before they are out of office and have to stop gutting it, NASA will be a "failed agency". Even if a Democratic administration that is rabidly pro-space comes in next, they'll be faced with a NASA that has been reduced to the capability of 1965, something that will take at least 10 years to rebuild infrastructure. Not to mention that engineers and scientists are smart people -- how many current students will be stupid enough to stay in space sciences on the hope that eventually the country will once again want those abilities? We're eating the seed corn. We're turning into England -- a formerly great country that will become a satellite to another country that has drive and a vision of itself in the future. Canada, maybe? Australia?

Interestingly, this is all pretty much what I said in my very first Boodle comment as ScienceTim, responding to Joel's WaPoMag cover article on "True Believers."

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I should have included Germany or France, too. China, maybe, but their "Vision," like ours, is being imposed from above. India, perhaps.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

My advice to the next generation of science students: "if you love science, work hard in your language classes. This country has given up the future."

Bitter, aren't I?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 17, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

SciTim: I agree with you.Technology and the accident record associated with the manned spaceflight program necessitates exploration via the various umnmanned craft that exist. I graduated with a fellow that, among other things, was a project manager for the ill-fated Mars probes that, respectively, crashed to the surface of Mars and was lst due to the computer programming/navigation glitch that sent the probe careening out of the solar system. Despite this, my peer continues to persevere. Generally the lack of federal funding afforded the sciences coupled with the rejection of the conclusions reached from federally and internationally funded research does not bode well for policy decisions that have been made in recent years on our side of the pond. I tend to think that our national policy is cherry picked to the detriment of the general public. By the way, my wife and I were married in the courthouse in our small town by special arrangement. We decided to get married on Friday afternoon, had the courthous opened especially for us on Saturday (courtesy of my mother-in-law, who is friends with the magistrate), and were married on Sunday, by the same special arrangement afforded to us Saturday, before (of all things) thirteen witnesses. Pulled the whole thing off, reception and all for 400 clams by baking our own cake. Unfortunately, our dog ate the top tier on our first anniversary as it was thawing.

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

See ScienceTim, Canuck neakiness strikes again, bwhahahaha.

I don't think it will be Canada, I think you'd be more on target with China. China is just so large in terms of people that I have difficulty beleiving that we all won't be working for them soon.

Posted by: dr | March 17, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC Sneakiness.

Posted by: dr | March 17, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I feel your pain. Since I'm not a religious person I don't do prayer. But I do do wishes (stop laughing everyone), so I will wish that your family comes around to an understanding of what it's like for you and that things get better.

My supervisor gave me permision to go home over an hour ago so what the he11 am I still doing here.

Tchau. Have a great weekend everyone, and if your celebrating St. Paddy's remember to be careful and responsible. Oh yeah, and stay away from green beer, I mean YUCK.

Posted by: omni | March 17, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

SciTim: You're not bitter, your advice is to be taken seriously. Consider that I teach in a rural school district...few of our students have mastery over reading, writing, nor basic math...I'm blesssed to have three children that, at this writing, are in kindergarten, 4th grade, and 7th grade. They leave their peers in the dust, and our eldest outperformed 12% and 15% of the seniors in, respectively, the ELA and math sections of the SAT when she took it in January as part of the TIP pool of students identified by Duke Univ..

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Jack, the smart kids are around. My younger child graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Math, so I've seen them. Are there enough of them to keep us going? Will they have the discipline to do the work and the perserverance to be successful? Time will tell.

Posted by: Slyness | March 17, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

So what you are saying SciTim is that the Bush Administration is taking all the management lessons they learned at FEMA and applying it to NASA.

I expect lies and misdirection from politicians, but the level of hypocricy between the platitudes and the actual policy by Rove and Co. is just staggering.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 17, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse


Just make sure you keep your kids away from Duke.

Go 'Heels

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse


Your pessimism is probably warranted. One suspects the plan vs. budget in recent years to be a science version of the "starve the beast" theory that normally is applied to social programs.

However, I see absolutely no chance that NASA, the US, or both, will be a satellite to anyone in the near future. Canada's Space Agency budget, from my review, has never exceeded $500 million ($CDN). I couldn't even find the Australian agency. The ESA budget in 2005 was apparently 2.9 billion Euros. Russians: 25 billion rubles (quoted as approx $900 million). NASA's budget, even with the flaws in direction, management etc. is currently between $15 and 20 billion (I just searched, but couldn't find the exact figure easily).

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 17, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

TBG: My children will have to qualify for major scholarship $, otherwise our residence precludes attendance at anything but a land grant university in SC. I will be satisfied if our children maintain their current appetite for academia and make it to any post secondary study, preferably college. Ironically, our fourth grader has had her poetry published as a result of being chosen from a pool in a national contest...she has her heart on becoming a chef. SciTim, among others, have made the point that one needs to pursue their passion. Emma and our other children willl certainly do that. My Dad was always fond of saying "You can be a ditch digger, as long as you're the best ditch digger there is." (He never wanted me or my sibs to be ditch digggers...he abhorred my career choice in education, although I think he was at peace with it before he passed.)

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Slyness: I had the good fortune to teach at Hawthorne when it was one of the two magnet schools in Clt. I met my wife there. The children were incredible, as a matter of fact, one of the kids I coached on the soccer team is now an occasional commentator on world affairs on all of the news networks, has numerous books, etc.. The talent pool is still there and will become deeper. The pendulum of school reform will cause this to be so. Despite this there is much to be learned by our students in terms of a sound work ethic and values in order that our children remain competetive.

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

omni writes,
"I don't do prayer. But I do do wishes (stop laughing everyone)"

omni, no way would I laugh at that.

And here's my wish for today:
I wish k'guy would come back. (That guy makes me *laff*!)
K-man, phone home!

Posted by: Dreamer | March 17, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

bc, I'm running an enduro this weekend too--sans internal combustion engine of course ;)

Good luck!

Posted by: jw | March 17, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree Dreamer. Come back K-guy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 6:25 PM | Report abuse

hey bc, good luck!

My big tip: keep the wheels pointing generally *down*.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 17, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Jack, you can get a good education at a land grant university...but I'm sure you knew that. My ex and I told our two that, unless they were going to get major scholarhips, they could go to any state university in NC, except East Carolina (I didn't want to drive that far). So elder child graduated from Appalachian and young one is a sophomore at Carolina.

My elder has a good friend who emigrated from the Ukraine when she was a young teenager. She also went to ASU. She won a scholarship for her first year, and my mother, my ex, and I assisted her with her tuition for the next three. Best thing I ever did. Hope I can find the funds to do it again for another kid who might not ever have the chance otherwise.

Posted by: Slyness | March 17, 2006 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that, with the exception of the first few years, it doesn't matter as much where you go to college as it does what you major in. That's why I am trying to convince my son that the way coolest kind of colleges are the ones that offer in-state tuition.
That said, nobody with college age children should avoid checking out small private colleges. Many of them offer very generous scholarships. I went to a tiny private college in Southern California yet paid little more than if I had gone to a state school.
I'm pretty sure most of the DC boodlers are hanging out outside the Hilton with signs.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

RD, that's where I'm pointing my son (he's a Junior in HS). He's excited about possibly attending a college that's 1/2 the size of his high school. Pennsylvania's full of small private (and public) colleges that I think would be great for him. They don't cost that much more than in-state Va. schools and do seem to offer lots of money.

What's going on at the Hilton?

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

hey jw, good luck to you too!

electric car? :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 17, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess there is no harm at this point.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow... the boss sure will look nice at the space club in his baby-blue tux. Does he get to hold up one of those big phallic devices, too?

Posted by: TBG | March 17, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, when I saw it I was reminded of the classic Far Side cartoon entitled "Vegetarians Return From the Hunt" hoisting a giant carrot over their head.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm avoided "Deal or no Deal," tonight by internet surfing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I cannot type this evening. Must be the Gewurztraminer.

Joel, I hope you wowed 'em.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 17, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- now I understand why Joel needed the tux.
(And here I was about to flippantly suggest that he wear a toga.)
(Togas are less prone to shrinkage than tuxes are.)

Posted by: Achenfan | March 17, 2006 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Interesting boodle, I knew Cassandra had hearing loss (and I was guessing adult-onset), Omni, that's a surprise. I have a friend who was deafened around age 4 and has speech just fine, although she's been known to mispronounce some words she's only heard, not read.

As for sign language, I have been known to teach it, so if Cassandra's within the DC metro area, let me know. She also might want to check out whether cued speech might work for her, it's relatively easy for family for others to learn and it helps cue lipreading. Even your blind mother could learn it.

I don't like cued speech myself because it cognitively clashes with fingerspelling (you have to think of it sort of having to learn how to read in the hebrew alphabet).
A friend of mine has devised a form that combines fingerspelling and resolves the problem for any native signers to pick up cued speech. People who already use cued speech don't see the point in it, but all I know is, I was able to understand it immediately.
Even with a few cued speech lessons I couldn't get the hang of it because I kept seeing a certain handshape as a B when it meant at least 4 different things and none of them were B. I learned Latin, Spanish, French, some aksara, some chinese ideograms, and so on... YET I just can't have the normal cued speech stuff stick in my head because it's clashing with old habits, kind of like French clashed with Spanish, only infinitely worse.

So I have sympathy for you, Cassandra. Your attitude that deaf people should stay in the mainstream as much as possible, I totally agree-- and I think it is entirely every deaf person's choice to find what kind of level they are comfortable with and can succeed with.
It is difficult to deal with frustration all day, and people are happier when they truly can be with others as they are meant to be, in easy communication.

I routinely fanastize about every arrogant blowhard becoming deaf for a day or a week and see what REAL frustration is-- better yet, make them incapable of coherent speech as well. A nun once took a vow of silence for a week, not even writing down anything. By the end of the week, she said, she realized how much of her language was oriented towards manipulating people to do her wishes-- "turn on that light, turn off the radio, clean the dishes just right"... and she learned a big lesson from that which probably lasted until the next time she lost her temper.
But she did resolve to try and communicate more about the Lord and love rather than commanding people.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 17, 2006 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's an article from the Seattle Times about sign language interpreters at rock concerts:

Sweet Honey in the Rock, the wonderful DC-based acappella group, has always had a sign language interpreter as part of the group - Shirley Johnson (I think the name's correct.) What a wonderful group of musicians they are!

I was at the U2 and McCartney concerts, and even though I knew there would be sign language interpreters, I didn't see them. It must have been a combination of being too high in the rafters and too mesmerized by Bono and Sir Paul. I'm glad deaf people have a chance to enjoy a great concert.

TBG, glad you had a great time at the concert!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 17, 2006 10:05 PM | Report abuse

What in the wide world of sports is going on at the Hilton?? I would have advised Joel to pick an alternative tux, perhaps a salmon pink crushed velvet After Six dinner jacket. The VP was at a fundraiser here this afternoon. I had half a notion to join the crowd at the protest area, however, it was more than likely posted somewhere far from the actual event site. Like somewhere near Gaffney. Being short of bail money in the event of some unforseen circumstances, I stayed put to groom our dogs and do the pizza/popcorn/movie/tuck-in-the-bed/normal routine with my children as my wife and eldest are out of town. Discretion is always best.

Posted by: jack | March 17, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse

It seems Joel is the keynote speaker at the National Space Club's 49th Annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner. [Phew -- that's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it?]
As the Space Club's Web site notes, the dinner is SOLD OUT.

Like your alternative tux suggestion. Another option would be purple velvet with a yellow trim, to match the cover of the paperbach version of "Captured by Aliens" cover.

[Oops! We're making fun of him again . . .]

Posted by: Achenfan | March 17, 2006 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I probably should have said *I* like your alternative tux suggestion. As written, it sounds like I'm saying your suggestion is sold out. (I don't even know what that means, but it sounds a bit like something a person could justifiably take umbrage at.)

Posted by: Achenfan | March 17, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Another SCC:
I said cover of the cover.
I am the nitwit.

Posted by: Achenfan | March 17, 2006 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I would have advised Joel to go with the white James Bond jacket.

Posted by: Bayou Self | March 17, 2006 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, and did you see that Joel got a BA in Politics - magna cum laude. No wonder the blog is beneath his contempt (but there is a plug for it on the Space Club site).

My husband wore one of those light blue tux's with the frilly shirt for our wedding - too funny. We referred to him as the riverboat gambler. My dress, in retrospect, was a bit too snug - but my hair was perfect! (Cue Warren Zevon.) That was when I had the great hairdresser in Rockville...and younger hair...

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2006 12:07 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Joel sees the 'blog as being beneath his *own* contempt; rather, he aims to keep it beneath the contempt of Rovestormers and other contemptuous parties -- below the radar (angry birders excepted).

At least, that's my take on it from behind my rose-colored glasses. (The brutal alternative is that we are the scum he has chosen to speak for.)

Posted by: Achenfan | March 18, 2006 3:42 AM | Report abuse

[P.S. I liked your suggestion that ivory-billed woodpeckers are painfully shy and, like you, are mostly lurking. Ha!]

Posted by: Achenfan | March 18, 2006 3:45 AM | Report abuse

The line about the shrinking tux might not be completely original, but it made my husband laugh out loud, so it definitely scores. (When he laughs at "Archie"* he always does so in spite of himself, because he officially scorns the blog and everything about it, on the basis that I am obsessed with it and spend all my time reading it instead of cleaning the house or drawing him a bath or something.)

Studies show that 99.9% of people fail to achieve their New Year's resolutions, so once again, Joel is in the company of the elite.
*Archie is my husband's name for Achenbach; he means for it to be denigrating, I guess, but he also has a way of getting names wrong that is all his own; for example he calls our Secretary of State "Credenza Rice."

Posted by: kbertocci | March 18, 2006 6:17 AM | Report abuse

That's funny that your husband laughed at "Archie"'s joke.
I had a similar experience today with my husband, who, as I've mentioned before, also pretends that the 'blog is beneath him. He's been away in mainland China for a few days, and tonight I was telling him that one of the 'boodlers (the person known as unknown to most) had recommended a Hong Kong hairdresser to me. He said, "Yeah, I know -- on Pottinger Street, right? I read that on the 'blog."
Ha! He's been lurking!

Posted by: Achenfan | March 18, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Achenfan, there is a recent Slate article about the worldwide plague of faux Irish pubs. I am curious if you have noted any infestations in Hong Kong.

Tell your husband to talk to my wife. They could form a new group dubbed SOAA (Spouses Of Achenblog Addicts)

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Haven't noticed any yet, RD, but I'm sure they're here.
(Of course, now that you've mentioned them, I'm bound to start seeing one on every corner.)
We did go to a British pub in the Exelsior Hotel when we first came here. They were holding their weekly British Quiz Night, and I surprised myself by being able to answer a good portion of the questions. (Note: There were several rabbit-related questions, e.g., about Beatrix Potter and Watership Down [also a fave of jw's].)

Posted by: Achenfan | March 18, 2006 9:05 AM | Report abuse



Plate o'shrimp.

Posted by: RepoTim | March 18, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Let us hope that we'll never hear from RepoTim again.

"This is intense!"

Posted by: The *Tims | March 18, 2006 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Joel, wish I'd known about this keynote address a few days earlier--I could have loaned one of my cummerbunbds (black, gray or red). BTW, which color tux did you pick??

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 18, 2006 9:28 AM | Report abuse

A 'bund for every occasion!
(In the morning, in the evening, ain't we got 'bunds.)

Posted by: Achenfan | March 18, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Joel slacking off? Why didn't he graduate summa cum laude?

Posted by: Loomis | March 18, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

My sister was at the concert on the Monument grounds for Clinton's first inauguration. There was a sign-language interpreter there, too.

According to my sister's friend, who is fluent in ASL, the interpreter was doing a great job, but when Bob Dylan was singing, apparently she was signing only "words and music, words and music" because his singing was unintelligble.

Funny how the words "singing" and "signing" are nearly identical. Please accept any necessary SCC in advance for mistakes made between those words in the above paragraphs.

Posted by: TBG | March 18, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Just magna cum laude? Everyone knows the grade point inflation at these diploma mills in Jersey is just outrageous.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 18, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I worked at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Labs back in the day. Went to an audio conference in NY, and of course the badges couldn't hold that long of a name so it just said "Princeton University".

Amazing how much smarter I became when people saw the badge.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 18, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I have a relative who went to Yale and manages to bring it up in almost any conversation you have with him (he's 47 years old). My husband always says to him, "Yale. That's in New Jersey, right?"

Posted by: TBG | March 18, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

FYI, I posted the Sunday column. The speech went very well, it's always good to get up after everyone's had too much to drink. It's easy, you make a couple of Gilligan's Island jokes and you're off to the races. I was terrified of course, there were 2,500 people there, it was like the Space Woodstock, only in black tie...if that makes any sense...maybe at some point I'll post a description and an excerpt.

And per someone's comment, just in case anyone is worried about this sort of thing, no I wasn't paid -- the club put the speaking fee (and I don't even know what it would have been) toward scholarships.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 18, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse


Not sure if a description of the Science Woodstock is necessary. I think the picture on the space club website says it all (the "hoisting" picture).

Posted by: TBG | March 18, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I apologize if I was out of line by leaking your speaking gig. Although I have been professionally trained on Internet searches, I have also pledged never to use my powers for evil.

Whether or not you were paid certainly never entered my mind. That you may have actually helped raise scholarship funds is very noble. May I suggest the “Dependents of Achenblog Boodlers” (DAB) as a worthy recipient?

Like many, I assume, I am envious. I have been known to speak to large groups from time to time, but they have always been financially compensated to be there. The idea that anybody might actually pay to hear my words is far beyond my experience.

Plus, in a weird cyber way, we feel a bit of pride in seeing you honored.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

RD Padouk,

With apologies to Don Adams and "Get Smart" I'm sure glad you decided to use your powers on the "side of niceness".

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 18, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

where's the coverage of the latest incursion into the hateful territories of Iraq?

what happened to the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air?

perhaps they're committing atrocities or dropping bombs in the desert and doing nothing....

we wouldn't know would we?

why is that?

...the first time and second time it was 24/7 coverage...

or perhaps it's like pakistan, we throw a couple of missles in and the president of pakistan tells us "we were successful," got to keep those ratings up!

see yah.

Posted by: hello, | March 18, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Joel gets no respect - we make fun of him, we accuse him of slacking off (ok, I nearly made a crack about why he didn't graduate summa cum laude). And yeah, I don't think the blog is really beneath his contempt - just a joke he makes from time to time, and sloppy wording from me late at night (obviously I need an editor!). Hey, sometimes speeches like this wind up on C-SPAN2 at 2 am...

TBG - that's so funny about Dylan. He changes the arrangement of his songs too - when I saw him, often he would be well into the middle of a song before I would catch a phrase that I recognized! The guy beside me would give an audible sign of recognition about 2 notes in...

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

That's interesting that Sagan would say that and still not believe in the bible's version of creation... hmm...

Posted by: Ian | March 18, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2006 2:17 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: John S | September 2, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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