Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Bob and Mickey and BloggingHeads

Stupidly I've agreed to participate in this bloggingheads videoblog thingamajig that Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus have cooked up in their quest for world domination. You know Bob as the science writer who decodes the fundamental secrets of the universe (see "Nonzero"); Mickey is the pioneering blogger and ellipses-monger ("Kausfiles"). They put a camera on one another and trade insights and insults and bon mots, what they call a "diavlog." The New York Times gave the fellows a nice write-up. Bob is persuaded that this is the next huge thing, that the dozens of people who have clicked on this site so far and watched Bob and Mickey yammer away will soon turn into an audience that may measure in the hundreds.

Bob was supposed to diavlog (can that be a verb, too?) with someone this afternoon, but the someone canceled, and Bob, knowing that I am in his debt because he gave me a ride to the Trenton train station recently, asked me to fill in, stipulating that I was not and would never be his first choice for a conversant. We're going to talk a little bit about climate change, because I have a story on global warming coming out in Sunday's Post magazine. Beyond that, I don't know what to expect. I'm apprehensive. Bob arranged for me to obtain a laptop with a camera and a microphone, and then he sent me a terrifying list of instructions on how to operate the gadgetry. The whole thing strikes me as cockamamie. And Bob is a scary man. He's the Uber-brainiac. I'm not sure he's a carbon-based life form. He talks about stuff that is so cosmic and mindbending that the listener wonders if Bob is the smartest man on the planet, or simply the most stoned.

Here are some passages from his book "Nonzero":

"...even if meta-natural selection itself isn't a scenario I'd bet money on, it has its virtues as something to ponder...In this view, the entire 3-billion-year evolution of plants and animals is a process of epigenesis, the unfolding of a single organism. And that single organism isn't really the human species, but rather the whole biosphere, encompassing all species. The human species -- not to belittle the job -- is just the biosphere's maturing brain."

[Bob, take another hit....]

"...when it comes to our most sublime, most meaningful moments -- feeling love or empathy, joy or epiphany, even abject but profound remorse -- kidneys and bacteria just won't get the job done. Brains are where the action is. So it's fortunate that large multicellular animals with great behavioral complexity seem to have been in the cards. My point is just that these brains are a continuous outgrowth of something at life's very essence: a primordial imperative to process information. Given the apparent connection among information processing, sentience, and meaning, it seems fair to say that evolution by natural selection was from the beginning a veritable machine for making meaning."

[Suddenly I've got the munchies.]

So I don't know how this will go today. I fear Bob will try to stump me with questions like, "Is it possible that evolution is itself the product of evolution?" and "Why aren't humans unconscious zombies who do all the usual things that humans do, only without self-awareness?" and "True or false: The rise of human civilization and, for that matter, the entire evolution of the cosmos is nothing more than the logical consequence of what I have cleverly termed non-zero-sumness."

[Now for something really interesting, if a bit dense and, well, incomprehensible: Jaron Lanier on what's wrong with computers.

Also, for the mystics: "The Mental Universe," by Richard Conn Henry: "The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things....The Universe is immaterial -- mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy."

Yeah? I refute it thus. (Kicks rock.) OUCH.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 26, 2006; 7:31 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Moaning Paper and Cheney's Penknife
Next: Global Warming Skeptics: The Tempest


Bob Wright is always high in my opinion.


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Hey, boss, better you than any of the rest of us! You've got a better handle on this stuff than anybody but ScienceTim, Omni, and yellojkt.

There's an idea! Why don't you call them to go on with you?

Posted by: slyness | May 26, 2006 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I noticed right off they have t-shirts and mugs for sale.

Posted by: dr | May 26, 2006 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Video. Joel, could you draw a bit of attention to the powerful incisors by accompanying yourself with a toothy plush animal? Maybe a nice Gator, Tiger, or even an Attack Beaver from Oregon State?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 26, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The kit just reminded me I saw this article in the Herald today, but it's a Washington Post story:

Posted by: kbertocci | May 26, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Wright on himself:

"I was raised a Southern Baptist, and I still remember going to Calvary Baptist Church in Midland, Tex., my family's hometown as well as Mr. Bush's (though, because my father was a career soldier, I lived there only one year). I also remember the only theological pronouncement I ever heard from my father: 'I don't think God tells you which car to buy.'"

Wright and Bush families share the same hometown of Midland, Texas?--I sense joke material (w)right there!

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

kbert: Since the study you referred to took place at the David Geffen School of medicine, I wonder how much of the Geffen catalog courses through the building's PA.

Posted by: jack | May 26, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

That Bob guy sounds like he could be on to something.
I think he should heretofore [sp? 'mudge?] be referred to as The Guru.

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

[Actually, maybe the word I was looking for was "henceforth."]

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

You know, that bloggingheads site looks pretty cutting edge to me, right down to the lime-green background.
If I were Joel, I'd be feeling pretty, pretty intimidated right about now.
(Just as well Joel is above all that.)

Posted by: Achenfan | May 26, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Joel's end-of Kit question:
"True or false: The rise of human civilization and, for that matter, the entire evolution of the cosmos is nothing more than the logical consequence of what I have cleverly termed non-zero-sumness."

Clinton defines non-zero-sum game, speaking at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC, Sept., 2000:
There is an astonishing new book out, been out a few months, by a man named Robert Wright, called Nonzero--kind of a weird title unless you're familiar with game theory. But in game theory, a zero-sum game is one where, in order for one person to win, somebody has to lose. A non-zero-sum game is a game in which you can win and the person you're playing with can win, as well. And the argument of the book is that, notwithstanding all the terrible things that happened in the 20th century--the abuses of science by the Nazis, the abuses of organization by the communists, all the things that continue to be done in the name of religious or political purity--essentially, as societies grow more and more connected, and we become more interdependent, one with the other, we are forced to find more and more non-zero-sum solutions. That is, ways in which we can all win.

Clinton defines the game in terms of people; Joel, in his question, in terms of the evolution of the cosmos. If we apply the concept of *non-zero-sum* to the cosmos, I would say the dodo bird, brought to extinction by man's hand, certainly was not in a win-win sitution. Are we better off because of the "rise of human civilization?" Can we, as a species, be intelligent and stupid at the same time?

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but to me, Wright sounds not so much like the Guru, but the Giant Windbag. A brain may be our "information processing center," but it could never operate independently of a kidney. What does he mean when he says behavioral complexity must have "been in the cards," for example? (IMHO, the man just needs to study more biology.)

And, if you closely examine the history of the sociology of technology, it's very vogue in each epoch to define life systems in terms of whatever technology is at the fore. Uber-brainiac, my eyeball!

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I especially enjoyed the "Error Alert/dumb mistake found in table" link on the Nonzero site:

"You may ask yourself: How could the author, having written the text that accompanies the table, not have noticed the glaring discrepancy between text and table while reviewing the book in its various phases of production? The author has asked himself this same question."

Posted by: Tom fan | May 26, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Oh my gosh.. I am SO PROUD today! You won't believe what I got in the mail at the office.

Be it known to all who bear witness...

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Loomis writes:

>Clinton defines non-zero-sum game, speaking at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC, Sept., 2000:
There is an astonishing new book out, been out a few months, by a man named Robert Wright, called Nonzero--kind of a weird title unless you're familiar with game theory. But in game theory...

Oh, but what wouldn't I give to have a president who could speak like that now. Can you believe our country voted TWICE for someone who can't?

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Boss, here's two devices for extricating yourself in a tough spot today. Emergency use only.

1. These are sure tough questions, but I can't tell you how happy I am to be here on this divalog. What? Oh sorry, diavlog.

(kudos to bc, who I think got it right the first time)

2. That may be true, but I think Hegel would have a lot to say about that.

(this is an academic discussion stun grenade; use and then run for the door)

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I just told our web designer to lose the lime-green background on his latest proposal (although it is a favorite color of mine in real life). I guess I don't know hip.

[But Joel.. please tell Wright that he looks a lot like Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies. Ask him if he can sing a little "Break Your Heart" for us.]

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

And remember, too, Joel... pronounced it "Basch" instead of "Bach" to sound really erudite.

Of course you'll have to figure out how to get the name into the conversation... er, I mean diavlog.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Shots have been fired in the Rayburn Building Complex and it has been locked down.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I meant to read Wright's Moral Animal book when it came out but I didn't get to it. Now if I add that along with Nonzero to my reading list, I think I'll be "booked up" until Thanksgiving at least. But I have a feeling he has been doing some of my homework for me.

I like this paragraph, from his website:

"Some people who find moderation easy can't understand why for others abstinence is necessary--and still less why it would demand a spiritual framework. I don't find moderation easy, and, even leaving that issue aside, I find being human so deeply challenging that I can't imagine it without an anchoring spirituality in some sense of the word. So I respect Mr. Bush's religious impulse, and I even find Chambers's Scottish austerity true and appealing in a generic way."

Posted by: kbertocci | May 26, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

In the spirit of the Kit, you *do* represent "...the highest Rebublican ideals and principles...", TBG.

Now if we could add a line to the bottom of your Platinum card for a signature from Tommy Chong or Snoop Dogg, it'd be perfect.

Wait, I think those signatures go on the next level up: The Panama Red Card.


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

>The kit just reminded me I saw this article in the Herald today, but it's a Washington Post story:

Gee, you mean the lack of cyanide and sulfur and 130 other happy chemicals actually makes a difference? Who'd-a thunk it?

As far as the kit goes, all I have to say is: Praise Bob!

And let's listen to the rocks and streams for a change. Big ape brains talking about sentient, feh.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 26, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Whoops, shots fired?

Not good.


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sounds of gunfire and apparently thers's a firing range nearby. It may just be CNN over-reaction. The Senate is still in session. No victim or shooter was seen. The gunfire was reported on G3 of the parking garage by a single staffer.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

does anybody know where Cheney is???

Posted by: omni | May 26, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

oops, I may have been premature with that post...

Posted by: omni | May 26, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Although why the marital status of the staffer is considered germaine I don't know.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

From Kessler's WaPo reporting today:

Blair, desperate to hang on for at least another year, is already viewed as a lame duck -- and Bush also is increasingly seen as one, even though he has nearly three years left in his term.

As the Economist magazine put it earlier this month, the Bush-Blair partnership has become the "axis of feeble."

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I don't know if I'd be honored or insulted by receiving one of those...probably insulted. Of course, I'm not a Republican. I didn't vote for Elizabeth Dole, either.

Posted by: slyness | May 26, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

As a tolerant non-spliffer, I have never found the quest to equate marijuana with tobacco as equally deadly or dangerous very convincing. Pot use is by its very nature fairly self limiting. Very few people can toke the equivalent of two packs a day and remain even alternative music store clerk functional. On the other hand, you have to smoke at least half a pack a day of tobaccy just to keep the nicotine in your system.

And Bob seems to have gotten a snortful of Gaia-hocus pocus going on. I'm not sure I like this whole multi-media trend whether you call it podcasting of v-blogging or whatever (and diavlog is a lame whatever). The information is not dense enough. I can skim a crappy blog much fster than I can fast forward through a dopey quicktime movie. And it's very hard to make a Michele Malkin video rant look like a Word document from the other side of the room.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Taillard de Chardin (been there, done that)

Posted by: jacib | May 26, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It appears that the report of "the sounds of gunfire" triggered a pre-established security response. 45 minutes have passed without sighting gunman or victim. I would guess nothing serious has happened. Sorry for the interuption.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Teilhard de Chardin--one of those influential writers I've missed out on. Maybe I've gotta visit the noosphere.

Thinking of Bush and Blair, I spotted something titled "Bush Lost His Man Date" this morning. I was thinking Tony Blair had left for London early, but no, someone merely misspelled "mandate."

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 26, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse


You continue to amaze me. "tolerant non-spliffer" could almost be my blog handle. And more to the point, you are the first to bring up the elephant in this room--the fact that we mostly need to be looking as if we at least might conceivably be working. Video just isn't practical for us.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 26, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If Joel won't say "divalog" he can at least say "diaflog".


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

bc, ha! Although it may be too subtle. Between that and TBG's "basch" pronunciation, the first question will be "Joel, are you drunk right now?"

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Point of personal priviledge:
Neither my literary type post at 8:55PM nor the cleaned up repost at 12:18PM generated any reponse, except slyness, thank-you dear. I don't like to whine but without some feedback I won't know whether to buck-up, shut up or buzz off.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

slyness, I'm not insulted, I'm entertained--and just a little puzzled. I do get some Republican direct-trash at home, but that's because I have voted in a couple of Republican primaries.

What? TBG? Republican primaries? I will explain...

In Virginia, voters do not register a party affiliation. We can vote in any primary we'd like to, but we must swear that we are voting in only one party's primary (there may be some way for them to prevent it, but I am honest so I've never tested it). And we don't always have primaries; some years a party will have a caucus, sometimes there are no opponents.

So.. one year I voted in the Republican US Senate primary because the Va. Republicans were trying to punish John Warner (US Senate; R-Va) for publicly NOT backing Oliver North in his failed attempt to defeat Chuck Robb in the previous US Senate election (thank God!). I voted for Warner in the primary for 2 reasons: 1) To thank him as a Virginian for taking such a courageous stand and 2) because his opponent was a very-right-wing guy who I did NOT want running. Warner won the primary and the election and continues to represent us well, I think. I would rather see a Democrat in his seat, but if it has to be a Republican I'm glad it's someone like Warner--an old-time consensus builder who for the most part votes his conscience.

Another time I voted in a local primary for our Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman. A very conservative woman was giving up her seat on the Fairfax Co. School Board to run for the Chairmanship. A former Chairman (a very moderate Republican) was coming out of retirement to try to keep her off the ballot--a move I really admired. I voted for him to keep her off the ballot, also. She ended up winning the primary but lost the election, so we won on two counts: she was not our Chairman and also off the School Board.

But it still doesn't explain why I got the Republican "honor" at work and no one else here did.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

In keeping with Joel discussing Global Warming I saw this today was in the post.

Not to encouraging, even worse when our newly elected government seems to want to follow a similar pattern.

Posted by: dmd | May 26, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

>buck-up, shut up or buzz off.

Boko999, with that handle I'd say buck-up me hearty. I'm reminded of Vonnegut everytime you post anything, and that alone is a great contribution as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 26, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to knock the video trip until I see how it goes.

I sorta get "Nonzero", which may say more about my status as a retired Glaucoma Test Pilot (motto: "Let's Light This Candle!"), than any actual understanding of the text.

P.S. Glaucoma is a serious disease. I don't make light of it, or the suffering of those that have it.

I *do* mean to have a bit of fun at the expense of those who *claim* to have it (and don't) in order to justfy posession, distribution, and/or use of illegal substances. That is all. There was more, but I forget what I was going to say.

Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I added a couple of mindbending articles to the end of the kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 26, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Having more hole than matter in your memory bc ? It's common to all experienced glaucoma test pilot, retired or otherwise.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 26, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Desmond Dekker is gone. Rest in peace. I'll have to go home and dust off my old DD CD and replay. I hope this is a tune cootie you'll be glad you caught.

Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir,
So that every mouth can be fed.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

My wife and my kids, they are packed up and leave me.
Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Shirt them a-tear up, trousers are gone.
I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

After a storm there must be a calm.
They catch me in the farm. You sound the alarm.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Poor me, the Israelite.
I wonder who I'm working for.
Poor me, Israelite,
I look a-down and out, sir.

Posted by: Nani | May 26, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Nani, I had such a deja vu moment when I saw your post since I sent the news of Desmond Dekker's passing and the song to a few friends this morning. I'd like to know where you got the lyrics, I couldn't find an authoritative source.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 26, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Error, I just found them on google, but don't know if they are authoritative or not. Mr. Nani and I could never understand the lyrics except "....ahhh ohh, the Israelites!" and "...Bonnie and Clyde", so when we sang along we just made up words. We wore out our vinyl 45 record playing it constantly. Our kids liked it too.

Boko999, I thought your post was witty and entertaining. Actually, it was way more than witty, wise and entertaining, but I couldn't find the right words to tell you how much I liked it, so I just kept my mouth shut. Remember the old saying "If you can't say something intelligent, don't say anything at all"? It haunts me.

Posted by: Nani | May 26, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Several years ago I read an article describing medical researchers attempting to seperate cannabis' theraputic benefits from the euphoric effects. We wouldn't want chemotherapy patients to experience any euphoria now would we? This is the peculiar mindset of the Abrahamic religions. I refer to Prohibition and recreational drugs in general.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Boko, choose one (all are true)

1. Expanding on your choices, I would say "put up" (as in more!).

2. The later the posting, the less likely you are to get "instant" gratification. Besides, creativity is its own reward. (insert something about teleology here).

3. I would have thought getting to engage the unknown boodler was reward enough. I commend his/her taste in scotch, BTW.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

bc, you were going to ask if Dave was here, now weren't you?


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

bc, LOL over "retired glaucoma test pilot."

Perhaps you should form the AARGTP so you (read: we) could get group insurance, car rental discounts, and nostalgic get-togethers to eat entire boxes of WheatChex (sans milk) at 3 in the morning.

(Why don't I think Chuck Yeager is likely to join? I dunno...)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"glaucoma test pilot" - that's good. In Haute Maine we say "performance enhanced snowboarder".

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

jack - that's funny, but actually there are a lot of medical buildings in cali sponsored by and named for directors, actors, etc - cedars sinai, alone, has the spielberg center for pediatric research, the gilda radner cancer detection program and the burns and allen research institute...

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I heard that the records of millions of retired glaucoma test pilot veterans have recently been lost, but its mostly a matter of having forgot where they were put down.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for kind words. I'm still getting used to this form of communication, time lags, furious scrolling and the like.
It's still a bit intimidating though. I've got Word and Google open for spelling and researching what the heck was that about.
When 'Mudge is on I'm near paralytic.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

can i just mention that all this cerebral stuff is just way too... well... cerebral for me on a fri before a 3 day weekend?

(oh, and i'm 3 blocks away from the "gunfire" - hopefully it is nothing!)

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

mo - Don't go looking out the window to see if it is "something." If I were you, I'd be boodling from under my desk - not that anyone here would notice, mind you.

Posted by: CowTown | May 26, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the AARGTP (ha!) would get some serious car rental discounts. I mean, how often would they actually *find* their cars in the big lots?

I wasn't so big on the Wheat Chex, though beggars can't be choosers. Now, an entire box of Ho Hos ("Hey, they're wrapped in aluminum FOIL!"), or a bag of Little Tavern burgers...

Scotty, I used "Dave's not here.." within the past week. I think. I shan't go there at this time. Wasn't saying "Tommy Chong" enough?


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I doubt it really needs mentioning, but for our fellow American Boodlers...

As a veteran, may I humbly suggest taking some time Monday to honor the spirit of the holiday and remember those who gave all in serving the country.

Thank you.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

cowtown - i think this may be the only time working in the basement with no windows is to my advantage, no? *L*

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

bc, there's always something to be said for the gift of selective memory. *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

My last post was confusing (to me at least). I meant to say that if "I" boodled under my desk, no one would notice. It was an attempt to be wry and cleverly sarcastic. It was, alas, a shameful and dismal failure. [Hangs head in shame]


Posted by: CowTown | May 26, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I slogged through about half of Lanier's treatise. Reminded me of Hawkings' book--you can get some clue, but you really have to be inside the box to get it all. I think what he's really getting to is that in order to make any real progress with bigger and more complicated programs, we need to alter our thinking from getting an absolutely correct answer to one that is a "close approximation" based on previous experieces and assumed expecations. In the abstract, for most any of us the approximation and the absolute will appear to be the same. Sort of like not caring that much how many billon places we get for pi, when 3.1416 gives us what we need.

And Boko: Don't be put off by non-responses. Sometimes we just say "wow", that was great. Nothing I can add to it. Keep up the good work. You and Mudge ought to collaborate on something some time.

Posted by: ebtnut | May 26, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Not sure I'd be as harsh as Loomis, never having read Bob Wright in the raw.

But when I read those excerpts I certainly thought, "Thank god I'm not that bad in most of my writing." Or sounding THAT clueless.

Research indicates that our stomach and intestine have neural nets that might be pretty complex on their own and which sends signals back to the brain. The enteric nervous systems contains as many neurons as the spinal cord, and THAT takes care of a lot of reflexive actions.

So "feeling it in your gut" isn't all that bizaare.

Ever thought you could find Alzheimer's in your bowels? Maybe wearing Depends should panic you.

We say our heart feels our emotions because it does in fact rev up and slow down according to our state of arousal, and blood is shunted to various body parts as needed.

Also, heart disease or the pre-heart attack state is highly correlated to depression. When you're depressed, watch out for your heart's health. Dying of a broken heart isn't that fictional.

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Hmm. Maybe this isn't so metaphorical either.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I am startled, my world is shaken, to see Dick Henry in the Kit. Whuddayaknow.

We have a saying in my biz (at least, one of us has this saying, and I have lifted it from him): "If you can't explain the value of what you're doing in terms that a fifth-grader can understand, then you probably don't really know what you're talking about."

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke re: Memorial Day
One of my greatest regrets was dissuading my Dad, a WWII RCAF pilot, from wearing his uniform jacket to our November 11 Rememberance Day services. The jacket was a bit tatty and not from his dress uniform but I know the vets there would'nt have cared. The next year he was too ill with altzheimers to attend and a year later he was gone. I don't know what I was thinking then and still shudder thinking about it now.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

There's something about computer programmers, beer, music, and memmory loss that just seem to go together. I just can't put my finger on it.

Posted by: Pat | May 26, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'll say what we're all obviously thinking....

What the $&(% is a firing range doing in the garage of the Rayburn building?

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Boko, here's some immediate feedback on your post about your dad and his uniform...

That's a very sweet thought. Isn't it funny how we move from being highly embarassed "for" our parents to not giving a damn what people think?

My daughter is now 12 and is always afraid of how I'm going to embarass her. She is absolutely terrified of us meeting our current governor (he is a very good friend of some very good friends of ours--a delicate connection, I know) because she's convinced I'm going to say to him, "Shine y'er shoes, guv'nor?"

It's going to be really, really hard NOT to say it to him if we do meet him, but I will hold back for my daughter. What we all do for love.

I should make her read what you wrote above about your dad. That'll make her feel bad. (*And isn't that what good parenting is all about?*)

*Insert sarcasm tags here.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"What the $&(% is a firing range doing in the garage of the Rayburn building?" It was probably installed when Cheney was in the House so he could pop off a few when things got heated.

Posted by: ebtnut | May 26, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of spirituality, apparently a hormone that controls blood pressure is as or more important than neurotransmitter levels.

Some of us are just born to dance out our emotions as part of the cosmic pulse. And others are born to trip over their feet.

So tune into "So you think you Can Dance" or other dance stuff and muse.

This blog also has other cool genetic stuff. I found this article of interest:

Frankly, I think this is more likely to the reduced prevalence of cretinism in Europe thanks to sufficient iodination of water, allowing normal brain development to proceed.

If this thesis is correct-- that mediveal skull development was stunted environmentally, we could look at mediveal skulls from other areas, or from ancient times in coastal regions and not see a dramatic difference in forehead/face size.

If the trend holds correct with little change until recently, then environment is not ruled out.

It is possible that a few epidemics predominantly selected for people who also happened to have more vertical skulls with smaller faces.

For instance, during the Black death,

The world population DROPPED 15% or more from 1340 to 1400 in most estimates. It was around 350-374 million in 1400 or so. Not all of that would be the actual gene pool leading to today's ancestors.

World population took around 100 years to bounce back to pre-epidemic levels, best estimate. That's a population of growth of 20%

Now since 1950, world population has grown over 100%.

From 1900-1950 world population grew 54%, even allowing for two major world wars and the 1917 flu panepidemic.

Obviously, very different factors were at work back in the 13th and 20th centuries.

On the other hand, it seems to have reversed global warming.

"In 2006 a scientific study by Dr Thomas van Hoof (Utrecht University) suggests the Black Death contributed to the Little Ice Age. Pollen and leaf data, collected from lake-bed sediments in the southeast Netherlands, supports the idea that millions of trees sprang up on abandoned farmland soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus cooling the planet. The line of research is new and there are questions and further research is needed, but it does pose an interesting theory that man-caused climate change is older than current theories suggest."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

tbg - u would be AMAZED at what some of these gubment buildings house - my building alone is a self-contained mini-city (and i wouldn't be surprised if my building had a shooting range!) - apparently the capitol police are at the rayburn building - they have their own force...

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I just hope it's not Dick Cheney quail hunting out of season.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

TBG, too funny. I think your Platinum GOP membership gets you access to that range. One more level and you get to practice your marksmanship on The Most Dangerous Prey (Texas lawyers).

Curmudgeon, is paralysis inducement a compliment you have received before?

Scottynuke, Curmudgeon, jw and any other U.S. veterans of the Armed Services and Merchant Marine out there: a toast to you for Memorial Day. For this weekend I recommend renting The Devil's Brigade which tells the early story of the joint U.S.-Canadian First Special Service Force.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

...someone asked early on "where's Cheney?"
He will be a commencement speaker at his old ALma Mater, in Casper, a couple blocks from here. Some are thrilled, some students less so because they want their own graduation to be for themselves and families...we live a couple blocks down and enjoy all the black cars, and the Secret Service people trying to look inconspicuous. he may be temporarily at his big, big mansion at Jackson...a place everyone should go to. Most likely there are still patches of snow around some of the lakes, baby animals all over, trumpeter swans...

Posted by: Gunde | May 26, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

You can get Alzheimers in your stomach???? Oh, great, just what I needed, one more thing to worry about. And now I can't remember what I ate for lunch...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Gunde... would those "baby animals all over, trumpeter swans..." be victims of Cheney's famously sportsman-like hunts?

Just kidding.... I hear Jackson's a beautiful place--Casper, too!

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Gunde, are those trumpeter swans, like, still alive? Dead? Seriously wounded?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, they used to call me the Human Stun Gun.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Back after a week of actually working and discover I've missed politics, alien physiology, the nature of the Boodle, and time & space itself for all I know. I did point out to my son the "sonic hedgehog" gene and he was deeply appreciative. There ought to be a tie-in with the game and toy -- that'll raise science awareness among the pre-teen set.

I truly enjoyed the approximate third of the Lanier article I read. As I feebly understand it he's suggesting that perhaps we could base systems on something other than linear temporal patterns. Since most of the failed large software systems one reads about (including one here in our own humble state agency) are designed more like social systems, to bring together bunches of constellations of information, that makes sense to me. Also I like the whole idea that the time & the universe are circular.

Joel, the standard answer in our house to any awkward question: "That's a very interesting question. What do you think about it?" or, when truly pressed, "That's a very interesting question. Why do you ask?"

Posted by: ivansmom | May 26, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut: In the abstract, for most any of us the approximation and the absolute will appear to be the same. Sort of like not caring that much how many billon places we get for pi, when 3.1416 gives us what we need.

For those who need more...

Posted by: GyppedOne | May 26, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

totally off topic:

looks like Bush and Blair are actually manning up a little and admitting that their gameplan for Iraq was, um, flawed.

"too little too late," but maybe a step in the right direction. i was hoping for more of a "Hey, we really screwed up, manufactured evidence, and are now in a quagmire," but, musn't get greedy. after all, that would require some honesty.

Posted by: tangent | May 26, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This article in SciAm mag on super volcanos dicusses some enviromental effects of eruptions. Expelled sulfur dioxide (SO2) combines with the ozone layer to form sulfer dioxide (H2SO4)which cools the planet but depletes the ozone layer. Can't win.
This one is for all the retired glaucoma test pilots. No link between lung cancer and pod use.
BTW: There is a rifle range in the basement of the Supreme Court of Canada. My Dad used to take me there back in the '60. Come to think of it the only time my Dad and I weren't having knock down drag outs was when we had rifles in our hands. Shared interest? Prudence?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 26, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm sorry but please someone tell me what good this will do:

All public schools in the District went into lockdown today as a result of the situation around the Capitol, a spokeswoman for the school system said. School officials want to err on the side of caution, she said.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

TBG: Massively over-react? This government? Surely you jest!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Schools in lockdown too? Maybe the pre-end of school jitters got to somebody. My recollection from living in DC when it was Murder Capitol of the Country was that they didn't even lock down for shootings inside a particular school building, much less somewhere as removed from the schools -- in every significant way -- as the Capitol/Rayburn complex.
You know that wasn't the teachers' idea.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 26, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, maybe it was just a routine weapons count.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank God, Congress is safe from rampaging elementary school children! All Glory to our Leaders in Washington!

Posted by: CowTown | May 26, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

In the Palm Beach (not WPB) police station, just a couple of blocks from the trendy shopping of Mizener Avenue, there is a three lane police shooting range in the basement. The ventilation for the range is cleverly disguised as a beige stucco belltower on the roof. Don't ask me how I know this.

Moral: There are all sorts of things everywhere that you never realize.

Here's a picture of the police headquarters:

The gabled roof on the front right is where the fans are hidden.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey, cool: Arlen Specter (Pa.) was the only Republican to vote against Hayden.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Pot smoking may not cause cancer, but what about the collateral heart disease from eating too much Ben and Jerry's?

And you may want to get Dr. Evil to doublecheck digit 743,972 in pi.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Any schematics showing where the evidence room is?

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Lest you thought even for one tiny moment that Conservatives haven't gone completely 'round the bend, here's the list of the 50 "top Conservative" rock-n-roll songs:

Now we know what happened to all the performance-enhanced snowboarders--they're working for the National Review, 'cause somebody over there is doin' some mighty fine herb.

Posted by: Curmduegon | May 26, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse


Take comfort in knowing he knew you were trying to help him look his best. Sometimes that counts for more than the actual uniform.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - um... i hope that was a typo and not u partaking of glaucoma research! hah!

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

ok - whoever came up with that list is not only smoking the wacky weed, they must have their heads firmly implanted up their tuckus or in the clouds! the clash conservative? the FREAKING SEX PISTOLS CONSERVATIVE? kid rock pro-life? oh... wait a minute... they don't understand sarcasm and double-entrende... that's GOTTA be it!

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

current google ads:
The Zealot in my Closet
A story about searching for God in all the wrong places.

Ensatina eschscholtzi
Speciation in progress: a classical example of Darwinian evolution.

The Human Species
Get this popular educ. book free. Free shipping. Sign up now.

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

You want honesty--honesty from the Bush White House? ROFL--*crying and cackling and laughing out loud like a madwoman, pounding both fists on the floor, for the sheer ridiculousness of the concept*. Paul Krugman at the NYT makes the case for it in his op-ed today:

"I won't join the sudden surge of speculation about whether 'An Inconvenient Truth' will make Mr. Gore a presidential contender. But the film does make a powerful case that Mr. Gore is the sort of person who ought to be running the country.

"Since 2000, we've seen what happens when people who aren't interested in the facts, who believe what they want to believe, sit in the White House. Osama bin Laden is still at large, Iraq is a mess, New Orleans is a wreck. And, of course, we've done nothing about global warming.

"But can the sort of person who would act on global warming get elected? Are we -- by which I mean both the public and the press -- ready for political leaders who don't pander, who are willing to talk about complicated issues and call for responsible policies? That's a test of national character. I wonder whether we'll pass."

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

My lone google ad below:

Kaplan Test Prep
Maximize Your Score - Comprehensive review and proven strategies.

What does that say about this boodle?

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

mo, I told you there was something bizarre going on over there.

Which typo did you have in mind, BTW?

re: Ensatina eschscholtzi --I can't figure out if that's the name of an intestinal bacillus or Spanish/Swiss noodles-and-veal dish. Sounds kinda yummy, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 26, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke: Thanks, if he hadn't been affected by altzheimers he wouldn't even have considered it. You don't wear uniform or insignia unless your'e a serving member. He was very strict about stuff like that. Too strict to my mind, but that was his ethos. It would have made him happy at the time though.
Altzheimers interferred with his speech requiring me to finish his sentences
"You, you"- never turn the lights out?-shakes head.
"You, you" - never amount to anything?-shakes head
You, you" - never listen? and he would smile seraphically.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - you spelled your name Curmduegon

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

or, i should say, at 2:44 u spelled ur name Curmduegon

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised "Louie, Louie" didn't make the list. I'm sure no rockin' Republican Party Reptile shindig happens without that chestnut.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I stole "smile seraphically." -Python

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I just want to state for the record, I never smoked pot, I only inhaled deeply.

Posted by: dr | May 26, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, you caused me to flash on an image of Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter on their backs on the floor with their arms and legs in the air doing "Shout."

hmm, mo, I kinda like Curmduegon now that you mention it.

bc, pass me the medicine--I seem to feel my eyeballs going all cloudy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon (or Curmduegon) | May 26, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Ha, dr, I liked that one. And that's it for me, every have an enjoyable and safe long weekend. And of course let's not forget why it's long...

Posted by: omni | May 26, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

*turning on the exhaust fan in here*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

ok - do you guys believe this??

"Law-enforcement sources at the Capitol said Friday that suspected sounds gunshots heard in a House office building were made by a mechanic using a pneumatic hammer on an elevator."

Posted by: mo | May 26, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Appropo of nothing in particular:
This is the funniest thing I ever read(from the script of "Ripping Yarns" Michael Palin, Terry Jones)

I remember the time Spiffy Farnsworth ate some sheep's testicles on bet.

D**ned thing nearly kicked him to death.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

re: Ensatina eschscholtzi.

Silly. Col. Ensatina Eschscholtzi was the protagonist's CO in Hemingway's Farewell to Arms. That character was based on the real-life Col. Ensatina Escholscholtzi, who was the commander of the 103rd Fusilli Parmagiana, in the WWI campaign in the Tyrolean Alps, and opposite (then) Lt. Erwin Rommel.

You're probably curious why I felt the need to fabricate this last paragraph. Lets just say we don't call it Haute Maine because of topography, and I was on the Haute Maine national snowboarding team.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

..western report here: It's a big no no to hunt anything in our National Parks! You know that.! Though Wyoming citizens got a bit grinchy when a special area of a river in Teton County was stocked with large trout so DaddyBush could fish! Letters to the editor...YOu eastern types can fly to Atlanta, Denver, up to Cody, Wyoming, and rent a car and drive all over Yellowstone and then to Jackson. Truly spectacular. I was raised in northern Wyo and still have property inherited from my parents, in Story, Wyoming, just out of Sheridan. The Big HOrn Mountains are also beautiful--more foothills; Tetons don't have any foothills to speak of.

Posted by: Gunde | May 26, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Hello, Joel, today I'd like to talk about Ron Howards movie/ film, "The Da Vinci Code" because, I saw it last night and I've come to a couple of conclusions, as if, I were to enter Ron Howards mind or it's creative side and decipher some of his thoughts on his project, "The Da Vinci Code."
So far as I know, he isn't talking about his interpretations in any interview, heck, I think he knows what he's done and simply wants now, to sit back, listen and wait for the "pundits" and "talking heads" to lambast, lamb-baste(?) his triumphant work.
It is in this veign/ vane/ vein that I wish to venture,
God help you or grant you patience.
Many of todays critics from around the globe have been overly harsh on the merits of the movie, the terse, longwinded dialogue, the lack of intensity, the poorly edited/ spliced scene transitions, the lame sound track which is so un-emotional as to sound dispeptic or dare I say, uninspired, the bad lighting, oh, the list goes on and on. Heres the thing.
What if there were no God, which is the core pretext of Howards work, what if there were no devine power? Huh? Think about it. It's at I believe the center of Howards purposeful reason to not match his true potential in the making of this movie, we all know he could have done better, don't we? But I think if I may get Freudian, he wanted to fall short of his true talent and vision, but why? To prove a point about the pointlessness of life without a God. Brilliant.
Why strive to do your best if not for Gods Glory, sure, personal satisfaction counts for something but beyond that, what would "push" one to create at a level or realm that would apease and make happy, "their God?" RH wants to prove a point, why should I make the or a majestic film if not to honor my God? After all the point of this movie is that there is no God, just a man, mortal. Who could that inspire to try their hardest, not me, not Mozart, not Da Vinci, not anyone. For to strive for your creative zenith, as Melville surely did, a purpose higher than ones own has to be breached, or the mediocre and mundane would be "good enough."
Because RH had/ has so many glaring flaws of technique and a lousy soundtrack to boot what was he trying to evince? I'll tell you what, without devinity and God, this movie in all it's abysmal dreariness of artistic flair, is just good enough for all of us mere mortals. No God, the world is truly a flat place. Thanks RH, you are a genius, so go view his latest unflashy work, now I think you know why it is how it is.

Posted by: cookkenusa | May 26, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

A group of 6 graders could shut the entire city of DC down with a $10 box of bottle rockets on the Metro.

Posted by: Pat | May 26, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Now I know why "Zardoz" with Sean Connery was so bad.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

"Are we -- by which I mean both the public and the press -- ready for political leaders who don't pander, who are willing to talk about complicated issues and call for responsible policies?"

Howard Dean. I was ready.

Posted by: Nani | May 26, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Boko, that's the funniest. Absolutely ROTLF.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

cookkenusa, Judaism is perfectly comfortable with a religion in which there is a God but no divine human personage. Lots of transcendently beautiful art and music has been created by Jewish persons. Go listen to a (good) cantor on Yom Kippur.

Posted by: Tim | May 26, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse


ROTLF, of course, refers to my special "laughing floor" I keep next to my desk, right in front of the built in drawers (cajones).

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Islam, too, now that I think of it. Mohammed and other prophets are special. But they're men, they're not God.

Posted by: Tim | May 26, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure there are non-trintarian Christians. Newton comes to mind.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, but what wouldn't I give to have a president who could speak like that now. Can you believe our country voted TWICE for someone who can't?" Excuse me. You mean Bubba, who, under oath, blurted, "It depends on what the definition of is, is."

"You want honesty in the Bush White House?"

You mean Bubba, saying on camera, "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky." Thumb gesture, looking into screen at the world.

Both parties are incompetent and corrupt.

Puhleeeeeze, save me the "honesty" of the William Jefferson (Clinton) Party schtick. Please. And, the Duke Cunningham Party should pack for prison. Washington is rotten to the core.

Posted by: DutyHonorCountry | May 26, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody...all of you have a great weekend. I think some of you have already started. We plan to see "DaVinci" tonight if the lines aren't too long. Been a sellout for a couple days.

Posted by: Gunde | May 26, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Too far, sorry. Have a good weekend.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 26, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Since it's Friday afternoon and things seem to be going downhill here on the Achenblog in a hurry, I am glad that you and Mudge posted your historical offerings after the little ditty/cojones poem I provided yesterday. Although the link between the noun and verb are perfectly obvious in retrospect, I had never truly given much thought to the origin of the legal term, "testify." So, it's nice to have a lawyer on the Boodle.

But does it ever make you wonder why we don't have a similar term for "giving honest witness," such as lactify or pendulify. (I see breast and bosom are both of Icelandic/Danish/German origin.)

Back in Boodle history--ancient in our annals, someone posted in Latin. I tried to respond in Latin, but my talking Latin is so poor. The unnamed person was trying to point out the ancient custom of intiating a pope--and also mentioned Pope Joan, several posts later, I believe. That unnamed person tried to tip off the Boodle with "habet et bene pendentes." I Googled it and, needless to say, was quite surprised at the results--and story involved. Maybe this is known by most folks, but it was new material for me at the time--say about six months ago on the Boodle.

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you knew, of course, that I couldn't resist googling some latin. Funny. Since, as you say, Friday afternoon and downhill and all that, I offer my favorite latin limerick:

There was a young man named Rex
Who had tiny organs of sex
When charged with exposure
He said with composure
De minimus non curat lex.

In my attempts to "catch up" with the backboodle, I also came across a Princeton joke/song found by you that was very funny. My brother-in-law is there, and it was immediately copied and sent.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I swear by my thighs and loins it's raining and thundering and booming here fit to beat the band; they may even lock down the building momentarily, so I'm running for the bus.

Everybody have a good weekend.

--Lt. Ensatina ("El Curmujo") Eschscholtzi

Posted by: Lt. Ensatina Eschscholtzi | May 26, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh, how we beat up and hang our Saviour in this life. We want to make Him like us in bringing him down to our level because we refuse to reach up to His level. I believe everyone knows exactly how I feel about this, but just in case there's some doubt, let me tell you. I believe in God, and I believe that Jesus is His Son. I believe that Jesus is divine and Holy. I believe that Jesus died for my sins, and that on the third day He arose. I believe the Scriptures that state that we must accept Jesus in order to go to Heaven. That in rejecting Him we reject salvation. I believe this with everything that is in me, and I pray God will have mercy on my lack in Jesus' name. I have not read the DaVinci Code, and I doubt I'll read it. I read the Holy Bible, and pray God will open my understanding of His holy word through Christ. Man is a most miserable being. Man knows that his heart is evil and he knows that within himself is no good thing, yet he denies and rejects God's love through His Only Begotten. As is said in the movie,(can't remember the name) belief is what will get you there. And Christ died not only for my sins, but He died for yours too. Accept Him while it is today, for tomorrow is not promised.

Scotty, thank you for reminding me of why we celebrate Memorial Day. I have a relative in the war, so I will remember those who have gone on in giving service to our country. Have a nice weekend everyone. Today has been a blessing for me in so many ways. My numbers were good for the blood pressure, but I was taking the medicine incorrectly. Have some more to take. And God in His infinite wisdom sent me a blessing to ease my mind and calm my fears. I am a witness folks that if you put your trust and faith in God through Christ, He will give you more than you can imagine. I love you all, and pray for you everyday.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 26, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Teeny meeney moe
Catch a puppy by the toe...

Some dog breeds have polydactyly written in the breed rule.

Beaucerons are required to have no less than SIX fully boned, working toes on the hind legs or it's no-go. They're very picky about the dog having anything than fully functional toes, which makes sense.

I once saw a dog (probably a ludehound or mix) with those double dewclaws on his front legs, they do look like thumbs, very remarkable.

Double dewclaws on the rear legs help spread the weight, especially in snow or climbing rough terrain.

Great Pyreenes also are required. Some giant breeds often have double dewclaws even if the breed standard requires dewclaws or not.

This is totally meaningless and unrelated, I just thought it was nifty to know some breeds in fact WANT those extra toes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse


When I was nostalgic for Clinton, did I mention the word "honesty?" No. The word I was going for was "intelligent."

Or maybe "curious," or "empathetic," or "well-read," or even "intellectual." That might be the best one.

Honesty is nice, but intelligence, curiousity, empathy and a real intellect are very important, too.

Of course, it's best to have all of those qualities.

I'll leave you with a sentiment someone sent me the other day: "I'd rather have a president who screws an intern than one who screws my country."

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh and DutyHonorCountry,

Please note that I am a Platinum Member of the Republican Presidential Task Force.

So I obviously know what I'm talking about.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Boy, it's really nice to have credentials.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

show off. ;)

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes it is nice to have credentials.

I keep getting rejected for the All-American Wingnuts Of the World (AAW-OW).

It hurts.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

TBG, can you get, like, discounts on car rentals or Arby's and stuff? Damn Democratic party doesn't have any benefits or fringe benefits. Has a fringe element, though.

Posted by: CowTown | May 26, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it gets you dibs on getting crazy bills on the House floor.

Even after we have been systematically hit, Congressman and veteran alike by identity fraud... NOW they want to open ourselves to the risk of livestock identity fraud for small farmers.

Big brother, Big government, big databases, big corruption. And get this... it's about "fighting terrorism."

Apparently, a child could be fined for failing to report he took his pet goat to a 4-H fair. Ooooh, Yellow alert! Yellow alert!

NOW that's Big Brother. It will do nothing to check disease, it will not stop illegal imports.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Here's a website from people who sound like the real republicans used to sound like, long ago.

Their solution to a lot of problems: downsize government.

They have interesting things to say about REALID and NAIS.

I thought at least we could put up some sites from political wingnuts who CAN write and know their issues. Just so people can read or not as they choose, you know?

By the way, George Orwell's "Animal Farm?" Good book. Read it. It's nothing to do with NAIS... or does it?

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Just came in from terracing part of my lawn and see in the wopo that there wern't any gun shots in the Rayburn building but the lock down didn't impair the government business as all the representives had already left the capitol for a *four* day weekend?

Posted by: bh | May 26, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

yeah, it is kinda funny when one actually uses the words "honesty" and "White House" or "Bush" in the same sentence. I'm too dang hopeful i guess. Kinda like hoping that the U.S would win the World Cup. but thats more likely than the White house coming clean.

re Clinton: sleeze ball. but i do think it is funny that in my experience, as soon as I criticize Bush, people (speaking in general, not to Achenbloggers) automatically assume that i am a card-carrying Clintonite, and vice-versa. the term "moderate" seems to have fallen out of style.

Cassandra: (5:16 post) Amen. God bless, and have a great weekend

Posted by: Anonymous | May 26, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

6:01 is me. lo siento.

Posted by: tangent | May 26, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Tangent, forget "moderate". How about the phrase "thinking person?" ;). You might like downsizedc, then.

Back to toes...

"It is particularly in places where consanguineous marriages are prevalent that supernumerary digits persist in a family... The inhabitants of the village of Eycaux in France, at the end of the last century, had nearly all supernumerary digits either on the bands or feet. Due to their isolation in an inaccessible and mountainous region, they had for many years intermarried and thus perpetuated the anomaly. Communication being opened, they emigrated or married strangers and the sexdigitism vanished.
Maupertuis recalls the history of a family living in Berlin whose members had 24 digits for many generations. One of them being presented with a normal infant refused to acknowledge it. There is an instance in the Western United States in which supernumerary digits have lasted through five generations. Cameron speaks of two children in the same family who were polydactylic, though not having the same number of supernumerary fingers."

I want to know how those families recited "this little piggy goes to market..." What are those missing verses?

We now segue to Stephen Jay Gould's book, "Eight Little Piggies" as recommended evolutionary reading (if you like Gould).

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm guessing the extra verse in polydactylic families is "this little piggy squealled like a pig" (Deliverence).

Since you're still around, Wilbrod, how about a recommendation for a book? After all the recent discussion I'd like to read some human evolution. I actually haven't read Gould or the others recently mentioned.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 26, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I am re-reading The DaVinci Code just because and one thing struck me in all the post-book/pre-movie debate.

The story's central issue is the place of Mary Magdalene in the Catholic bible and the early church. The contention in the book is that the early church wanted her branded as a sinner and wanted her to be cut out of the biblical texts. The more I think on it, the more I find that basic premise lame.

The message that Mary Magdalene brings to the story in the Catholic New Testament is quite different. Mary Magdalene is considered as a sinner when she first appears, but her story is one of salvation and redemption. She sinned and washed the feet of Jesus and was forgiven, and at his death, stood at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother. Most of the other Apostles hid. If that does not show her prominent place among the women of the bible, I'm not sure what does. I grew up Catholic in a most Catholic town and Mary Magdalene's story was always about how she was saved when she repented.

Much of the discussion that has arisen from the book, talks about what ancient texts were left out of the Catholic Bible but part of me began to really wonder why my knowledge of her was so very different than the books view. I also began to wonder about what was left in about her. Surely these things deserve some discussion too. I went looking for just how my faith views her and just what my big book at home says about her.

Faiths view Mary Magdalene quite differently. Eastern Orthodox faiths believe there to be 3 Mary's: "the "sinner" of Luke 7:36-50; the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and Mary Magdalene."[The Catholic Encyclopedia]. Protestant faiths believe there to be 2 or 3 Mary's. There are 14 mentions of her in the Catholic bible, and in Catholicism, Mary is viewed as one person.

When you take the divergent views of who she was in the bible into account, its easy to see that like, Da Vinci, like the Templars, and like a lot of details in the book, they used what would fit and follow the premise of the story they wanted to write. If I took the time to read 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' I wonder if I would find the same mistaken premise about Mary's place in my bible.

Its a novel, and a fairly good one. Its likely an ok movie. I am willing to suspend my disbelief while reading it, as I will suspend my disbelief while watching the movie but if you have even my limited knowledge of the bible and its history, with a little thought its easy to get the giggles at people who take the whole thing too seriously.

Posted by: dr | May 26, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I loved the book and can't wait to see the movie. I don't think it is a documentary

Posted by: Breezy | May 26, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed that quote from "The Mental Universe" by Richard Conn Henry.
I mean, duh -- of *course* the only reality is mind and Observations.

Try kicking a rock while you're dreaming sometime, if you think of it -- chances are your foot will not pass directly through it. It will probably "feel" solid (although, granted, it probably won't hurt as much as it does in waking life).


"There were philosophers in the past that said, 'Look, if I kick a rock and I hurt my toe, that's real. I feel that. It feels real. It's vivid. And that means that it's reality.' But it's still an experience, and it's still this person's perception of it being real."

-- Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of "Why God Won't Go Away"

"The brain does not know the difference between what it sees in its environment and what it remembers."

-- Joseph Dispenza, author of "Theater of the Mind"

"We all have a habit of thinking that
everything around us is already a thing, existing without my input, without my choice. You have to banish that kind of thinking. Instead,you really have to recognize that even the material world around us--the chairs, the tables, the rooms, the carpet-- camera included--all of these are nothing but possible movements of consciousness. And I'm choosing moment to moment out of those movements, to bring my actual experience into manifestation. This is the only radical thinking that you need to do. But it is so radical--It's so difficult, because our tendency is that the world is already out there, independent of my experience. It is not. Quantum physics has been so clear about it. Heisenberg himself, codiscoverer of quantum physics, said atoms are not things, they're only tendencies. So, instead of thinking of things, you have to think of possibilities. They're all possibilities of consciousness."

-- Amit Goswami, Ph.D., author of "The Self-Aware Universe"

from the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey, what happened to Joel's diavlog?
I hope I didn't miss it . . .

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 8:09 PM | Report abuse

You're right, dr--and it was pretty easy for me to also suspend belief that a house in Kansas landed on a witch in Oz.

Fiction is just that: fiction. I can't believe anyone is making any kind of big deal about it.

But it's great that it brings folks back to reading history--or the bible, if you wish--for discovery or rediscovery.

Posted by: TBG | May 26, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, I think they're in edit mode, and there may be an embargo until Sat. (since the WaPo Mag won't hit people's front porches until then.).

Don't worry, we'll all get a chance to see how much weight being on a webcast adds.


Posted by: bc | May 26, 2006 8:19 PM | Report abuse

More from Amit Goswami:

"When we think of things, then we make reality more concrete than it is...and that's why we become stuck. We become stuck
in the sameness of reality. Because if reality is concrete, obviously, I am insignificant. I cannot really change it. But if reality is *my* possibility--
possibility of consciousness itself--then immediately comes the question of how can I change it? How can I make it better? How can I make it happier? You see how we are extending the image of ourselves? In the old thinking, I cannot change anything, because I don't have any role at all in reality. Reality is already out there. It's material objects moving in their own way from deterministic laws, and mathematics determines what they will do in a given situation. I, the experiencer, have no role at all. In the *new* view, yes, mathematics can give us something. It gives us the possibilities that all these movements can assume. But it cannot give us the actual experience that I'll be having in my consciousness. *I* choose that experience. And therefore, literally,
I create my own reality. It may sound like a tremendous, bombastic claim by some New Agey without any understanding of physics whatsoever, but really, quantum physics
is telling us that."

[I especially like the part about the New Agey with no understanding of physics whatsoever -- I can really relate to that character.]

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

So I didn't miss the diavlog? Yay!
(I was beginning to worry I'd made a bad choice as to which waves of possibility to bring into my experience.)

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

dr, if you're interested in the real history behind The DaVinci Code, my pastor did a series of lectures on it a couple of years ago. Here's the link to the first couple (I dunno what happened to lecture 1. I guess it was an explication of the plot.):

The Crusades were a convoluted time. I had difficulty following it all.

Posted by: Slyness | May 26, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite lines from The Da Vinci Code is the reminder that the Bible was not faxed to us directly from God. Sometimes I think people forget that.

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 9:00 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, you might do better to start with Dawkins if you want human-only stuff-- he'll introduce you to the basic concepts about disease genetics, population genetics etc.
Gould is a chewy read-- the books are a series of essays on different stuff-- think of the chewiest parts of those blogs boiled down in a book.
But he really does discuss Darwin in detail. I would also recommend "The beak of the finch" as a beautiful read, it reads like travel/nature lit, telling the story of those finches.

Dreamer! Nice quotes.

Our brain constructs what we see-- we literally see black and white separately from color and separately from curves and separately from lines and so on. However it is wise not to think too hard about it.

I once sat in biology class and thought about my brain constructing reality.
I started thinking "wow, what cool 3-D graphics" and decided to stop before I got in a permanently stoned level of consciousness without benefit of drugs. Somehow "high on life" isn't that well appreciated by those who are not high.

Still, I always recommend people to get off the PC and stare at the horizon, clouds, nature, etc. to really utilize their brain's graphics card to the max once in a while. Monitors just ain't good enough yet.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 26, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

A book that you might consider browsing or reading, "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail."

Margaret Starbird's theological beliefs were profoundly shaken when she read [Baigent/Leigh/Lincoln] "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a book that dared to suggest that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalen and that their descendants carried on his holy bloodline in Western Europe. Shocked by such heresy, this Roman Catholic scholar set out to refute it, but instead found new and compelling evidence for the existence of the bride of Jesus--the same enigmatic woman who anointed him with precious unguent from her "alabaster jar."

In this provocative book, Starbird draws her conclusions from an extensive study of history, heraldry, symbolism, medieval art, mythology, psychology, and the Bible itself. "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar" is a quest for the forgotten feminine--in the hope that its return will help restore a healthy balance to planet Earth.

And of course, Baigent's latest.

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

In central Florida, the Rainy Season arrived today, precisely on its average date-of-arrival. It came with warning, preceded by several humid, cloudy days.

Now mango trees will think the Indian monsoon has arrived and their fruits will plump up and the trees' owners will curse the squirrels.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 26, 2006 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Because of you and knowing that you started "The Lost Gospel," the Natty G book out in the last month, I bought it-- after sitting and reading it in the store on two different occasions. I'm still working my way through Baigent as time allows. I think the key word is "Irenaeus," isn't it? How many more gospels were not included! Baigent also takes the reader on the journeys to Qumran and Nag Hammadi.

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Coonties' David,
Send some of the H20 our way, would you? On May 5, we had 4 inches of rain at our house, but the airport got 1.66 inches. That rain, as measured at the airport, was the most we had in one storm in more than a year and a half. The aquifer goes down a foot a day now, and it's seven feet until we have mandatory water rationing. We'll be able to water our lawnsjust one day a week--only on Wednesdays, because of the ending digit of our own particular street address. Forecasters say a "baking summer" is in store, with no real drought relief in sight. Temperatures in May have been more typical of August.

I remember going to art lecture once., given by the man in charge of the Charlie Russell collection in Cody, Wyo. He spoke of both Remington and Russell, who painted the waning days of the Old West, saying Remington, whose studio was in the East, once remarked that if he had the opportunity to boy property in hel1 and Texas, he'd chose hel1. That sums it up pretty well.

Posted by: Loomis | May 26, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Loomis.
I've got Baigent's "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" but haven't started reading it yet. Looking forward to it.

Glad you liked the quotes. And you're right, high on life isn't really appreciated by those who aren't high. But I'm not sure that we should avoid thinking too hard about these concepts -- to do so could be to avoid progress, or even enlightenment. Maybe we just need to practice feeling more comfortable with them, so they don't freak us out so much.


"So how can we continue to see the world as real, if the self that is determining it to be real is intangible?"

-- Ramtha

"WE are running the holodeck."

-- William Tiller, Ph.D.

from "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

[Sorry, just one more:]

"The closest science has ever come to explaining Jesus' interpretation that the mustard seed is larger than the kingdom of heaven -- the only science that can fit into that analogy . . . is quantum physics."

-- Ramtha

Posted by: Dreamer | May 26, 2006 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, Ramtha misunderstands that parable.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed...Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." Matthew 13:31

Or as the Romans said: "Multum in parvo" (much in little). Or as cold fusion enthusiasts would go-- "hydrogen is where it's at!"

The smallest atom known--hydrogen-- in increasing its size fuels the sun and makes all the other elements known in nature.

Inside the mustard seed, there is the potential for a lot more than the eye can see, not juat for its own physical structure but in how it affects other lives (the birds).

Quantum physics is not the only science that can fit in. Biology and math does, too.

Loomis... you chose to live in Texas. In tribute to your woes, here's a traditional texan hymn: "The Devil Made Texas". I send it to ANYBODY who admits they actually chose to live in Texas of their own free will ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 12:06 AM | Report abuse

SCC: just, not juat.

Have a good weekend y'all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article about the jet streams (ruh roh):

Hope everyone has a good long weekend. Thanks to those who have served or are serving in the military. Thanks to those who work for peace.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 27, 2006 1:38 AM | Report abuse

I chose Texas? With all the reluctance that it is physically possible for genes to express! I assume that you're not married (feel no compunction to reply.) A relocation decision made by a couple is far more complicated than a decision by a single individual to pull up stakes (or respond to a corporate move).

I'll say two simple things without going into relationship dynamics. I was seduced by the affordable housing in Texas as compared to California. The glossy Chamber of Commerce brochures do not come with Humid-O-Vision. The song lyrics you provided, Wilbrod, made me laugh--more than once!

Some day I do hope to live in some place where water--its year-round availability--is never a recurrent issue.

Posted by: Loomis | May 27, 2006 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, Texas seems to veer from deluge to drought. On a longer term, so does Florida. A dry spell in 1955-1956 resulted in the Okeefenokee Swamp and vast pinelands around it burning to the ground. Under those conditions, I guess we'd have to tow icebergs from Greenland to keep the southeast urban area operating.

I've gotta visit Fort Worth to see the museums.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Choosing"-- not running out of the state screaming within the first 5 minutes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company