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Humans as Composite Organisms, etc.

As you know, humans are composite organisms in which the vast majority of the cells and the genes in our body are not actually humanoid. Now comes news that scientists have "defined the collective genome" of the human gut. It's interesting that the two subjects who contributed the, um, material for the study had different numbers of species of bacteria, and thus you can see that one's gut microbial community could be akin to a "fingerprint" used for identification.


In other science news, scientists say they've found a 300-mile-wide crater under the ice shelf of Antarctica. This is going to stir a lot of pots. They hypothesize (or, you know, guess) that the impact from this object caused the Permian Extinction, the worst mass extinction in history other than the one we're about to unleash. This new crater, if the discovery holds up, makes the Chicxulub crater look like a mere pothole. Something mighty big hit the planet to make a hole like that. (Press release: "The Chicxulub meteor is thought to have been 6 miles wide, while the Wilkes Land meteor could have been up to 30 miles wide -- four or five times wider." My math says that's exactly five times but I should double-check with a calculator.)

New word: "mascon." As in "mass concentration."

Deploy snidely.

Via BrothersJudd we see this list from The Guardian of the 50 best movies adapted from books. It's a very weird list. ("Remains of the Day" at 5? Something called "Kes" at 6?? I love "L.A. Confidential" as much as the next bloke, but it's at 9 while "Schindler's List" is back at 20?? And Judd is right: Where's "Double Indemnity"?)

My story "The Tempest," about global warming skeptics/deniers, incited a debate at the blog Crooked Timber. Here are just a few samples:

Steve Labonne: The article uses most of its space to provide a soapbox for the loons, and the less than careful reader could easily come away with the impression that the passages you quote are just a statement of "one side" of the "debate". The whole thing comes across as a typical instance of fatuous journalistic "balance", no matter what "signals" Achenbach may have inteded to send.

William Goodwin: Joel Achenbach is a writer, looking at what is essentially a political subculture, full of people who genuinely (at least in some sense) believe certain crazy things about global warming. He wrote a piece about these people, letting them speak in their own words, etc., while making clear early on that he thinks they're wrong. What more do you expect him to do? He wasn't writing an Op-Ed piece, he was writing a feature. Is it now unacceptable to look in detail at the beliefs of people who think crazy things? Should he have followed every quote with the statement: "This is wrong."

John Emerson: Am I saying that Aschenbach should have spelled out his conclusions in direct, unmistakable language? Yes! What problem would there be with that?... Journalism isn't Chekhov or Henry James. You don't let the reader figure out from subtle hints that the narrator is unreliable. You show the reader directly that the narrator is unreliable, by juxtaposing the facts and the falsehoods. that's what good journalism should be. But what I'm really saying is that Aschenbach was thinking about the less-than-careful reader. He (or the Times [sic] editors) wrote a deliberately mushy article so that the right-wing political commisars wouldn't get mad. The commissars don't care what well-informed people think. Bush wins elections with the careless readers."

"jr": John Emerson- what you call 'burying the lede' is the standard format for Washington Post magazine articles. These are done on the cheap: the reporter gloms on to someone (local celebrity, teenage girl with terminal cancer, government whistleblower, man with disfiguring facial injury who is a top amateur ballroom dancer, whatever) - and follows that person around for a few days, then makes a few calls to fill in some stuff, types up the notes in a laconic, uninflected style, and calls the thing an article. Having a point of view seems to be strictly forbidden.

There's more. Goodwin and others eloquently defended the piece. My impression is that the vast majority of readers got the gist of the story just fine. No rhetorical sledgehammer necessary.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 2, 2006; 2:39 PM ET
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Next: Blog Forces Change In Hillary's Official Bio


>Should he have followed every quote with the statement: "This is wrong."

Kind of like South Park's Scientology episode, when flashed "THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS" over pictures of 30 million year old aliens and bad spirits flying out of volcanoes?

Joel, maybe you can re-introduce the old BLINK tag for the online copy.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Achenbach, for your fair and balanced article about the Colon Community. As you aptly described our strength lies in our diversity. Thank you for your fine article.

Posted by: CowDung | June 2, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me why DARPA--Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research would be funding the microbial colon study? Somebody call Mudge--the press release deals with methane.

Posted by: Loomis | June 2, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

And who is Joe "Aschenbach," anyway. Talk about careless readers.

Posted by: CowTown | June 2, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Dooley (If you're still out there),
While you were gone, on the whale-legs Kit, yellowjkt provided a link that Joel copied into his Kit, that elaborated on research Univ. of Michigan paleontology professor Philip Gingerich had done in Pakistan on the subject? Are you familiar with this research?

"Over the next 10 years, Gingerich searched in Pakistan, where he had found older whale fossils in the late 1970s. To his frustration, the fossils he found were nearly complete but lacked hand and foot bones."

Where in Pakistan? Why Pakistan, of all places? Just wondering, and was meaning to ask you. Is Pakistan now the hotbed of paleontology research? Any problems getting permission from the Musharraf government or security concerns?

Posted by: Loomis | June 2, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I was all ready to start a critique of the top 50 movies adapted from books, but don't actually have much issue with a lot of their picks. Kudos for putting Blade Runner in the top ten, and also for To Kill a Mockingbird and Apocalypse Now.

Gist. A quirky old word. Sounds vaguely anatomical, or maybe nautical, doesn't it?

Origin: C18; form OFr, third person sing. pres. tense of (i) gesir (/i) 'to lie', in Anglo-Fr. legal phr. (i) cest action gist (/i) 'this action lies', denoting that there were sufficient grounds to proceed. (Concise Oxford)

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 2, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

And annuder thing, Aschenbach...HEY who took my beer. I love youse guys.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 2, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I saw the Antarctic crater and the gut bug items this AM as well.

"Mascon" *is* a keeper.

On the "Aschenbach" tangent, there is a rather talented young race car driver up in Gathersburg named Lawson Aschenbach. Probably didn't write anything about Global Warming for the WaPo recently, though.

Glad the Boodle's back online after the Dark Ages this afternoon.


Posted by: bc | June 2, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I checked your math on the crater size. You're right. It is exactly five times larger. ;)

Posted by: Willow | June 2, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Reposting, just to wish everyone a great weekend.

Close your eyes, think Louis Armstrong...can't you just hear him?

Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worry at the doorstep
Just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street

Can't you hear that pitter pat? That happy tune is your step
Life can be so sweet on the sunny side of the street


I used to walk in the shade with those blues on parade
Now I'm not afraid
This rover's crossed over

If I never have a cent, I'll be rich as Rockefeller
Gold-dust at my feet
On the sunny, the sunny side of the street!

Posted by: Nani | June 2, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

If it's giant potholes you want, just come drive the streets of San Antonio. Ours'll put the antarctic Wilkes Land crater to shame. Known to cause the mass extinction of many a tire and axel. Some swaller cars whole.

Posted by: Loomis | June 2, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy a new crater!, no twelve year old loves stuff that goes bang more than me. They should be able to date the impact better by going out and looking for a thin layer of iridium rich clay laid down around 250 million years ago. I predict that impact will dated to April 3 249,653,999 BCE.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

How Dare Aschenbrach make any statements that in Any Way acknowledges the existance of "skeptics" of Global Warning. Doesn't Achinbob know that George's Minions will use this information to further destroy the atmosphere and enslave the world's inhabitants? The Aspenblog should be shut down and Ackenbok dismissed immediately!!

Posted by: WeirdCow | June 2, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

100 trillion microbes? 1000 species? Twice the number of genes as the human genome?
Good golly. The next time somebody tells me I'm full of doodoo I guess the logical response is to say,
"And darn proud of it!"

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 2, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Joel, point of order, Mr. Chairman! Point of order! We're not s'posed to hurl invectives at fellow boodlers, according to the rules. But are we allowed to hurl at posters on OTHER blogs, such as oh, to give a purely hypotehetical example, John Emerson of, oh, let's say, the "Bent Woods" blog? Or, perhaps, say, Stevie LaBonehead?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Loomis, in answer to your 4:09, just two words: sonic disruptor. *Winks, nods*

To our fellow Canadian boodlers: for about an hour there, you had a bunch of us thinking perhaps the Canuckistan takeover had begun, starting with the decapitation of the boodle as the "first strike." It appears this was incorrect, so I apologize. (But if you think I'm letting my guard down, think again, you wily Haute Mainers! You try and lull us into somnulence with your curling and your spelling bees, but I'm not fooled! *adjusts tinfoil hat to a rakish angle*)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Man I can't get past that 100 trillion microbe number. I creeps me out almost as the time I learned about the tiny little critters that live in my eyebrows.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 2, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Loomis' 4:09. Maybe the researchers correctly thought they could get some of that DHS largesse by capitalizing over errors of the meaning of "GI".

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 2, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

What if the point of human evolution is to provide a warm place for these microbes to live? Depressing in a way, but it would provide a perversely satisfying answer to that whole existential angst thing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 2, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

>wily Haute Mainers ... curling and spelling bees

True story. The 'novelty' hole at the golf tournament I was at yesterday included teeing off with a curling broom. Everytime I think we're past the stereotypes something like this happens. You can't make this stuff up.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 2, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

SoC, what no Happy Gilmore hole.

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

John Emerson said: "He (or the Times [sic] editors) wrote a deliberately mushy article so that the right-wing political commisars wouldn't get mad."

God, I'm glad Joel didn't piss off the right-wing political commisars. On top of everything, that would be catastrophic (spell check, please).

Posted by: CowTown | June 2, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

That idea isn't so far fetched, at least from the wee critters' microbicentric point of view.

If you want to get a severe case of the itchies, look up Morgellen's disease. It's the new name for what used to be known as "matchbox psychosis"

and this about suicidal grasshoppers:

And of course, look up the well-known connection between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia... keyword to find what happens to toxo-infected mice and why they tend to wind up in cats' mouths.

But good news! Tinfoil (especially to cook meat throughly) and a few other basic household ingredients can fight off malaria and toxoplasmosis!! And they thought we were mad for yelling "en garde" with our Right Guard Sticks... bwa ha ha ha

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

There is a iridium layer dated around 250 million years ago. While some scientists say that the newly discovered crater is further evidence explaining the Permian/Triassac extinction event, Human Resources and Traffic Analysis scholars at the Discovery Institute argue that since the impact occured before time zones had been instituted any accurate timeing of the incident is impossiible. The White House has dipatched a crack team gastrointerologists to probe futher.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, DO NOT look up Morgellen's disease. Trust me, you'll be happier.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

It happens that Pakistan and Afghanistan have deposits of the appropriate age and environment to preserve the early stages in whale evolution--recent events have put a bit of a crimp in research there. Never been there myself--the whales I work on are quite a bit younger, plus I don't want to get shot.

Most of the well-known early whales (Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Kutchicetus, etc) come from that area. These are all older and much more "primitive" than things like Basilosaurus from Egypt and the US. Gingerich, his former student Mark Uhen, Hans Theweissen, and a several others have been the leaders in studying the earliest whales.

As I recall, Gingerich and Uhen published a paper in Paleontologica Electronica a few years ago, looking at the timing of whale transition into water (as it turns out, this transition predates the loss of back legs). Apparently the transition happened pretty quick by evolutionary standards--just a few million years.

Creationists like to argue that whales could never have lost their legs and moved into the water that fast, but of course, they didn't--they still had back legs when they moved into the water. Basilosaurus still had rudimentary back legs almost 20 million years after whales returned to the sea, and non-functional back legs still show up as individual atavisms in a small percentage of modern whales.

Posted by: Loomis | June 2, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

fyi, from a National Geographic piece I wrote that was published in November:

'"We're really a composite of species. We have human cells, but there are ten times more microbial cells," says Jeffrey Gordon, who researches intestinal microbial communities at Washington University in St. Louis.

It raises an interesting question, Gordon says, about what it means to be "human." Certainly the water molecules in our bodies are not, in and of themselves, human. You might argue that our DNA is human, but that gets into another humbling area, as we have many of the same genes as other animals. Factoring in the microbes, we see that most of the genetic information carried in and around our bodies is nonhuman.'

I hope everyone has a rockin' weekend....Stay offline! But at some point check out the Rough Draft column this weekend, on Hillary.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 2, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I think 5:09 was Dooley posting to Loomis, not Loomis posting?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Joel, so are we really real? Dreamer?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak to the Permian Mass Extinction. But my mother-in law was around for the End Cretaceous extinction that killed off the dinosaurs, and she gave me the definitive history of that one.

As everyone knows, many of the dinosaurs (and most of the large ones) were vegetarians. What most people don't realize is that this was a life-style choice, at least for the dinosaurs in the "first world." They felt a responsibility for the world around them, especially for the hairy, defenseless little mammals struggling for their place on the planet. And it was this love for other creatures that led to their downfall.

For, what happens when large animals ingest large quantities of vegetable matter in one end? Why, large quantities of methane gas come out the other. Dinosaur scientists discovered a correlation between the increasing levels of methane gas in the atmosphere and an increase in overall global temperatures. The Cretaceous period was pretty steamy to begin with, and getting worse. "This is terrible" said the dinosaurs. "What will happen to the poor, defenseless little mammals? We must do something." The loudest cry came from some of the (frankly) least intelligent dinosaurs. These were the very largest dinosaurs - so large that they had developed two small brains rather than one large brain - one in their head and one in their hindquarters. The dinosaur word for brain is "b'ral." So these dinosaurs, with their brains in their hindquarters, were rather mockingly referred to (Dinosaur being something like French) as le-b'rals.

The dinosaurs took their problem to the Dinosaur UN. "We must reduce the emissions of methane gasses" said many of the wisest dinosaurs. "We must completely eliminate the emission of methane gasses" cried the le-b'rals. At the time, the UN voting was on the basis of body mass, so the largest dinosaurs had the greatest say. When you think of it, this makes about as much sense as giving disproportionate say in a future UN to a small group of victors in a war 60 years past. But no UN is about common sense. It's about doing good! And the dinosaurs wanted to do good. So after much negotiation they hammered out a treaty to completely stop all emission of methane gas by the dinosaurs. (The head of the dinosaur UN at that time, and a leader in forging consensus, was a lizard. The treaty was named after him, and has come down to us known as the Komodo Treaty.)

Well, everyone knows what happens next. The dinosaurs all swore to uphold the treaty, and they did. They held in the methane gas, with the expected results. Their intestines swelled with the unreleased gasses. The microbes in their guts went ballistic. They were all in pain, and all increasingly cranky. As they got more and more cranky, there was less and less dinosaur whoopee. Fewer and fewer dinosaur babies. And in the space of a generation, the dinosaurs were gone. Killed off by the unanticipated consequences of the le-b'rals poorly-conceived attempt to save the world for the poor, defenseless mammals.

Well, I managed to make it to 5:00 with this story. Everyone have a great weekend!

Posted by: Steve-2 | June 2, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

>What if the point of human evolution is to provide a warm place for these microbes to live

RD, yes indeedy. Talk about reason for humility...

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh. My. God. He did a Hillary column. Batten down the hatches! bc, scotty, battle stations! Sulu, plot a course to get us out of here! Mr. Scott, get that warp drive up NOW! Fus the damned dilithium crystals if you have to!Deflector shields up!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC: fuse, of course. But you knew that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Hence the admonition to stay offline, I guess.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 2, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I feel strangely conflicted.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Buh Captain. I canna make'er goo any fauster, oonless ah get oot an' PUSH'er!

Posted by: CowTown | June 2, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Joel, the critiques that you quoted from Crooked Timber were ... spectacular.

With cultural critics like them, who needs puff pieces?

I especially like the one from the bonehead who says that it is your solemn duty to kill off any sense of prose style or writing quality in order to bludgeon the reader repeatedly with the message that you are quoting people that you do not think are correct. After all, it's journalism, so you shouldn't be able to read it to the end with your eyes open. That's what internet porn and the Penthouse Forum are for. Not that I would know anything about that.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 2, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

That was weird. I Previewed my 5:35, and the Preview button took me to a crude and primitive text page unlike any that I have seen of late. What's up with that?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 2, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Time Warp! You were sent to the Paleoblog in an alternative line where whales never evolved because they couldn't get rid of their gams and so got eaten by sharks as snacks.

As a result, some key people never went whaling, and so on until the entire civilization is basically run by people who are trying to metabolically engineer people to be aquatic, because heck, we're running out of landspace. As a result, websites are primitive in order to be operated by flippers and mouth-pens.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

It would be neat if people who moved around a lot as kids (think military brats) turned out to have richer and more sophisticated colon communities than stay-at-homes, especially those from overly sanitary suburbs.

Regrettably, Florida these days has few right whales, no gray whales, and no monk seals. And no condors to dine on their washed-up corpses (but that's a story for another day).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 2, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

In this Paleoblog universe, a famous novel is Dick Moberables, the saga of a man who was hunted down mercilessly for revenge and gained supernatural powers of the spirit in the process, then saw his pursurer (who kept muttering "Ja, vert" all the time) come to an evil end.

Be glad you escaped back to this universe.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Roger that, captain. The last 5:09 was A. Dooley. If you think Uhen and Theweissen and Paleontologica Electronica roll off my tongue at the breach of a whale, then you are sadly verruckt!

Posted by: Loomis | June 2, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I just spent a little time at the Crooked Timber website. It's contributors seem to be Economists, Philosophers of Science, Philosophers of Political Science and Philosophers of Psycology. What,no Philosophers of Philosophical Economic Science? If I needed to read any more expensive, highly credentialed Mr. Smiley food I'd read some more Cammile Paglia, at least she has a sense of humour.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga
Oh, the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga
Oh, the monkeys have no tails, they were bitten off by whales, oh...
The monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga!

Posted by: nellie | June 2, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

>crude and primitive text page
Tim, got one of them myself just befeore it all blew, and caused my double-post. My guess is it died trying to render the global.css style file. I see them once in awhile.

I just hit preview and got that as well as the entire boodle at the bottom as if it were trying to wwrite it all into the same page instead of a new one.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Installing the new inferior preview page is probably what caused the problem that prevented the display of previous boodle postings. I suspect this is the work of Philosophers of Renewing the Operational to Ensure Continued Employment.
Can philosophers provide a spell check or would that be too culturally priviledged?

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Who said philosophers could spell? I think half of the reason they keep making up words from the Greek is because they can't spell or speak plain Anglo-saxon/French fusion languages.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 6:59 PM | Report abuse

>is probably what caused -nasty
probably caused

Posted by: Anonymous | June 2, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure this is not exactly new territory, but think about it. A genetic mutation could occur resulting in an organism that is exquisitely adapted to its environment and irresistible to the opposite sex, but if it doesn't keep those trillions of gut critters happy, well, it's toast. Makes you realize who's really in charge.

Now I am going to pour myself a little Shiraz and watch King Kong with the offspring.

Don't tell me how it ends.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 2, 2006 7:25 PM | Report abuse

RD, I am still laughing at your 4:37 post. What a subject. The stuff Joel comes up with, and I was eating while reading this kit. Finished that real quick. Have a good weekend folks. Get some rest, kiss your wife and your children, give God some of your time. I certainly look forward to reading Sunday's article on Mrs. Clinton.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 2, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, 5:09 was me (sorry Loomis). Guess I got sunstroke on the excavation.

Posted by: Dooley | June 2, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

It's all very nice that they've identified the DNA of the myraid of beasts that inhabit our gut, I'm still not sure that until they can tell us what this DNA codes for and how it interacts with the DNA of the cells lining our gut codes for they are telling us very much past, Gee Whiz.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:01 PM | Report abuse

AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! head.... set to .... explode .... too much ... fact .... (pant pant gulp fall back exhausted) ... in one ... single .... blog entry .... water, please ...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 2, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Smart boy needed

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

> and how it interacts with the DNA of the cells lining our gut

Well, mine sent me off to a pizza place for a cheesesteak tonight, how's that for interaction?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

ok, that was me ... my head didn't explode yet - but really, wasn't that a months worth of blogging in several short paragraphs? Giant craters, complex mathematical calculations, good books made into good films but a bad list of them, outside input amounting to completely transparent self-criticism, plus how to identify people by their colon prints. I was once finger printed - the mind bloggles!

Posted by: clang | June 2, 2006 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Cider House Rules

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I didn't mean to write how it interacts with the DNA of the cells of our gut.
I meant to write how it interacts with the products that the DNA in our gut cells code for?
If it interacted with the DNA of the cells of our gut it would be bird flu or something.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:24 PM | Report abuse

>completely transparent self-criticism

Clang, if that's your name, perhaps you should attend more meetings.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Error : Do you go to cheesesteak places for pizza? Seems unnecessarly complicated to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 2, 2006 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the hyperlinks are back!

Posted by: kbertocci | June 2, 2006 8:45 PM | Report abuse

The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass banned by the Ontario Censor Board.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm.... Boko999 ... if that's your name ... maybe you should too. Maybe we could attend more meetings together! Heck, maybe the whole damn blog could do a meeting together.

Posted by: clang | June 2, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"Each cell is definitely alive, and each cell has a consciousness -- particularly if we define consciousness as the point of view of an Observer. There is always the perspective of the cell."

-- Candace Pert, Ph.D., author of "Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine"

"There are different worlds in which we live. There's the macroscopic world that we see. There's the world of our cells. There's the world of our atoms. There's the world of our nuclei. These are each totally different worlds. They have their own language. They have their own mathematics. They're not just smaller -- each is totally different. But they're complementary, because I am my atoms -- but I am also my cells. I'm also my macroscopic physiology. It's all true. They're just different levels of truth. The deepest level of truth uncovered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity. At that deepest subnuclear level of our reality, you and I are literally ONE.

-- John Hagelin, Ph.D. [discoverer of supersymmetric flipped SU grand unified field theory] [What!?!? You don't know what that is?!?!?!]

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

Posted by: Dreamer | June 2, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

What happened to "The World According to Garp" OK north american audiences can't stand the protaganist dying, but John Lithgow was brilliant. It was a perfect cast. I have a copy of Altman's Popeye and can't think of a more perfect adaptation of cartoon to cinema verite outside of National Lampoon's "Dying Wino"

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Do you only watch films by people with PhD.s? or have you only seen one film ."What the Bleep Do We Know"

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Error, I have a tip for you that you won't believe, but it is true. I was born and raised in Philly, and am an AUTHORITY on the one-and-only "proper" Philly cheesesteak. What Weingarten is to comics, what Gugliotta is to megacraters, what Achenbach is Carbucks--I am to Philly cheesesteaks. OK, so much for my impeccable world-class credentials.

When I moved down here to Merlin lo these many years ago, I lamented the absence of places that knew how to do a proper PCS. Oh, people claimed to have them--they even named shops after them, but they lied. I've even seen or been offered alleged PCSs that had lettuce, tommato and mayo on them, which is an abomination even worse than astroturf and the designated hitter rule, so we're talking something so evil it is just this side of Satanic child-murder.

And two Saturdays ago, I happened to go into a place that just started offering a "new" item, yes, a Philly cheesesteak. And not only that, a PCS with pizza sauce--the n'est plus ultra of fine South Philly cuisine (with fried onions, I might add, although that is of course understood by all true aficionados).

I, of course, snorted with contempt that such an establishment as this could possibly concoct anything remotely close to an authentic PCS/S&O. But of course, I had to try one, simply to register my disdain.

You won't believe this, Error, but it was like I was on my knees at Lourdes and could suddenly walk. Yes, I could hear choirs of cherubs and seraphim singing, "Where do all the hippies meet, South Street, South Street." The PCS/S&O was not just "good," not just "acceptable," it was The Real Thing. I swear it. It was a miracle.

Where is this establishment, you ask? You aren't going to believe this.


I know what you're thinking. The Mudge has finally slipped his moorings. He's sniffing model airplane dope. Somebody left the nitrous oxide turned on too long.

They come in 4-inch, 6-inch and 10-inch sizes. Order the Philly Pizza Cheesesteak variant, get extra cheese, sauted onions, and salt and pepper (and nothing else). I'd recommend provalone, though of course there is a school of thought that accepts the flaming orange Cheese-Whiz variant. Either way, you have to try it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

What exactly is a Philly Cheese steak?

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh,jeez you had to

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

A Philly cheesesteak sandwich is a heart attack on a plate.
Or should I say, in a tin foil or wax paper wrapper.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 2, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Relax, Boko.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan is correct. It's not often in life that you get to feel your own coronary arteries seizing.

Quite a rush.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 9:28 PM | Report abuse

It was an honest question, I really do not know. All I can picture is either throwing cheese wiz on a steak, or something resembling poutine from Quebec (fries,gravy, cheese curds and I think something else).

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 9:30 PM | Report abuse

When I was driving truck I've stopped and had the truckstop version of the local favourite. But it's not until you penetrate into the heart of the burg that you experience what the locals are telling you about. The idea of saurkraute on a sandwich still disgusts me and no matter how much velvteeta you slather on it my reaction will be the same.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Now, chicken fried steak is a completely differenrt kettle 'o fish.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, Boko -- you're kinda mean, no!?!?
But to answer your question:
Yes, I have seen more than one movie. I especially like those of the weird and wacky variety -- and I don't select them on the basis of whether there are Ph.Ds in them. But "Bleep" is a film that I feel passionate about. (Regular contributors to this blog would probably say that's the understatement of the year.) "Bleep" is one of those mind-blowing, potentially life-changing films that packs a lot of interesting and important information into an entertaining and easily digestible format that non-scientists can understand and serves as a good starting point for further reading and thinking.

There are plenty of folks who disagree, of course. As one of the directors of the film said, some of the fundamentalist Christian groups were upset by the film's suggestion that God is in everyone. According to them, the film is the work of Satan. The film has drawn plenty of criticism from scientists, too, including our own ScienceTim. All this criticism makes me think there must be something to it.

Another one of the directors (there were three) said he wanted to make a film that would make people drop their beer. Well, if I'd been holding a beer while viewing the film, I probably would have dropped it.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 2, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

As my school cafeteria served it, a philly cheesesteak consists of thin slices of extremely grey beef that can't be called roast beef-- maybe boiled beef... with incompetently fried onions and a load of poor pale cheese-- not provolone, which I love, but I think it was swiss or some kind of ungodly hybrid cheese, all served on a stale white bread bun. Yet it was extremely popular at the college, I heard.

I'm not sure about the WaWa ambrosia Mudge is talking about, but I actually had the chance to stomaach another cheesesteak after it... and yeah, it was better. Anything would be better.

I do agree that mayo, tomato, and lettuce would wreck the taste, especially the mayo.
Good provolone-- heck, about ANY decent cheese should never be insulted with mayo.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Ok Dreamer you deserve an honest answer.
If we are talking about the same film. (the one with the hot deaf babe ?) We seem to have seen entirely different flicks. There's nothing in there about your cells being aware. You seem to be making the same mistake the people who take the bible as inerrent make, confusing allegory with reality. Why do you insist that there is a perception beyond what your incredibly compelex brain can make. Don't even try to lay any 'Well I've done' crap on me I grew up in the "60's know what I mean. Castanada was a punk. You, and everthing that you percieve, feel and think originates in the meat locker balanced on top of your shoulders. Mess with it at your peril.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Of course, you could always have PART of a philly cheesesteak along with a nice salad?

I heard in the City of Brotherly Love they just call it a "knuckle sandwich" but I could be wrong. (ducks)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, your description of cafeteria food made me laugh. Although I am a little crushed as a big cheese and mayo fan, suddenly I feel quite gauche.

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I've actually seen someone order mayo on a corned beef sandwich. In Russia they'd be sent to a mental hospital. They must be crazy. Bad ideas do work like genes, while their adoption may kill the holder the propagation effects the population past the life of the mutation.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, more tetchy people! Fight! Fight! Fight! Throw dem knuckle sandwiches!

Never saw the movie nor the book. I find it disingenuous to challenge science or downgrade it to a cultural artifact, though, since it actually depends on measuring and determining shared reality and extremely complex logical reasoning and testing for consistency.

As Einstein said "the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."

Logically there is no reason whatsoever that math or logic should apply to the universe. We evolved without understanding more than what we basically observed. Okay, so the sun rises every day, and a day is when the sun does its job and then goes home.

Even sun calendars can consist of merely putting down rocks at a certain time of day as a kind of daily abacus and then realizing, hey, we have a year here already.

But we are able to build upon that and move past limited personal observation with language and external memory devices (rocks, notches, pictures, writing).

But we are basically spinning webs around our perceptions, to increase our knowledge and understanding of the world. Like a spider relies on the twang of the silk to tell him a fly has been caught, so we rely on the web of knowledge we build up.

It's okay to admit to ourselves that this web is very gossamer and doesn't cover all of reality (i.e. we can't see on the quantum level, we don't routinely monitor all the electromagnetic frequencies taht exist in all directions, we don't smell everything, etc....)...

but like the spider, what the web CAN tell us is still very significant.

And now I think I shall go into my parlor and look for food.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 10:19 PM | Report abuse

A PCS/S&O with a side salad? Whaddayou, nuts? It's fries or onion rings, and possibly a Philly pretzel for dessert. We're talking serious heart-stopping manfuel here.

A salad. Probably with a light raspberry vinaigrette. How you gonna plug the superior vena cava with that rabbit food? Jeez. We're talking a major brachiocephalic vein here. You need major stopping power to send one of those babies into spasm.

*snorts, shakes head sadly*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

It's okay if it's BAD cheese (very salty, the whole thing). Then the mayo is rescuing your tastebuds by mixing in with the cheese, as if it was a different cheese ;).

Provolone is a very mild cheese-- one of the few cheeses I like (I can count them on my fingers), and it just couldn't stand up against mayo.

Posted by: Dmd | June 2, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm reading the ingredients of that sandwich or sub, and I have heartburn something fierce, and reading that makes it worse. Sounds delicious though, but it would probably complicate my life real bad with this acid reflux. Heart attack on a plate or in foil, that's good.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 2, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

If you really want to clog the arteries with that sandwich, have a side order of poutine with it. Go big or don't go at all.

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

>Logically there is no reason whatsoever that math or logic should apply to the universe. We evolved without understanding

We're here because, we're here because we're here

Inform the Captain, teology acheived.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 2, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Had something like poutine at RiRas in Bethesda-- it was called "curry fries". Very interesting... I'm SURE I've tasted that "curry" before.

But you can't get real poutine outside Canada.

I think in a hotel in Delhi that was very "Anglo". I kept expecting to see mustachoied and muttonchopped English majors coming around the corner there. A perfect backdrop for any movie about the British Empire.

However, that curry doesn't taste like anything I've ever eaten that was cooked by an actual Indian.

Anyway, can you post a poutine recipe for those awkward americans? What kind of gravy, for instance is standard in Haute Maine?
Roadkill woodchuck gravy or Moose gravy? Details, details.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 2, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge Mudge Mudge....

Come home son. Just a short trip. Ok, maybe not so short.

My very first job was making cheesesteaks in Trenton. We did it a little different: instead of chopping the steak up, we got Prime Australian Beef Rib Eye and cut it into 4 four slices per 2 oz steak, 4 steaks on a large Italian roll from People's or Barbaro in the 'Burg. Lovingly pressed into a hit grill with just enough stuff built-up, the onions producing superheated puffs of steam through small holes in the roll, and then, when it had all worked itself up into the finest, golden-toasty color of steak and onions you lifeted them, ever just so, not to disturb the art even still shaping itself into your own personal cheesteak.

Come on home Mudge, I'll make you a cheesteak.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Boko -- didn't mean to make you angry.

Actually, I think we both agree that everthing we percieve, feel, and think originates in the meat locker balanced on top of our shoulders -- i.e., what you said.

As for whether we saw the same film, and whether it did or didn't say anything about cells being aware, that quote I posted above was copied directly from the transcript of the film -- I didn't make it up myself.

I guess we can agree on one of the film's main points: We perceive what we want to perceive. My beliefs work for me, and yours work for you.

But hey, at least you've seen the film. A lot of the film's critics haven't actually seen it -- as with so many things.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 2, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, Cassandra, you got that heartburn right. Sometimes it'll kick in about halfway through the sandwich, and you gotta finish the thing hunched over and tapping your sternum. On a winter's day, though, it'll stave off hypothermia for 15 to 20 hours.

Putting mayo on provalone is, like they say in the Mafia, an infamnia.

I'm not familiar with this "poutine" you keep mentioning, dmd, but I Googled it, and I have to admit, there are limits beyond which even *I* will not go. And I think poutine may be it.

Once (just once, and never again) I tried the Checkers french-fry special, topped with cheese, sour cream and bacon bits, and it brought me to my knees. It was like a near-death experience. Something kept calling me to walk into the light. I'm lucky to be alive today.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Here you go a link to all things poutine, for fun scroll down to the Poutine in Politics links. I didn't see a recipe, you may want to look at the picture before you investigate how to cook.

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Error, Error! The Trenton Variation! With Australian Rib-Eye! And the Barbaro roll!

O I am slain!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 2, 2006 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Angry ? Not to worry. I've collected the required fluids to make this weekend interesting, Gas for the outboard and mower, beer for myself and guests. As long as I can differentiate between the two I'll be fine. May I suggest listening to anything by F. Zappa? That gentleman had a firm grip on reality.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, my personal favorite: 3 steaks on a half roll with extra cheese, onions, hot peppers, etc.. Sometimes I'd throw a few fries on in a tribute to the 'Burg's Casino dogs.

Accompanied by fries and a chocolate shake where the lump of ice cream gets blopped out into your cup.

If I had any brains I'd chuck the IT gig and open up a cheesteak house.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dmd | June 2, 2006 11:24 PM | Report abuse

My son's been talking about The Philly Cheesesteak Challenge: go to Philly, get a cheesesteak and return back before school's out. That means he has from 7:20 a.m. until 2:05 p.m. to drive to Philly from Fairfax, Va., and back. I'm not real excited about this. But he tells me he's going to do it next year (his Senior year) so at least he's being honest.

I just don't think I want to know the day he does it until he returns.

And only then if he brings me one of those delicious, heaven-sent beauties.

Mudge... where should we get one next time we're in your hometown? We never quite know where--everyone has his own opinion (note Error's error in judgement). I think I will trust you to be the final word.

And what did Boko mean when he said, "The idea of saurkraute on a sandwich still disgusts me and no matter how much velvteeta you slather on it my reaction will be the same." ? No saurkraut on my cheesesteaks.

Posted by: TBG | June 2, 2006 11:38 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing that some of the best and worst sandwiches are found on either end of Pennsylvania: Philly's cheesesteaks (yum!) and Primanti Bros. sandwiches in Pittsburgh (ugh).

One has thin layers of tasty meat, joined with rich cheese, sweet fried onions and perfectly simple seasonings on a delicious roll.

The other is a pile of dry, tasteless meat, piled high with white, undercooked, pasty french fries (yes: french fries) between two slices of thick dry, crumbly slabs of white bread.


But the absolute BEST subs I've ever had were at Mr. Fooz on Main Street in Blacksburg, Va., in the mid-to-late 70s. I've spent years trying to find or make their equal.

[Reminds me of Principal Skinner talking about his days in Vietnam: "I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right!"]

Posted by: TBG | June 2, 2006 11:51 PM | Report abuse

>I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right!"]


Posted by: Error Flynn | June 2, 2006 11:55 PM | Report abuse

I may be mistaken but is not saurkraut an integral ingredient of an Philly Cheese Steak? It's always infested any one I've been offered. The only variable offered cheese whiz or velveeta.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 2, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Do you like your crap sliced or spread?

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh no, Boko... (that's fun to say!) you must be thinking of a Reuben sandwich.

A cheesesteak is simply thin-sliced steak, cooked on a greasy grill (griddle-type, not charcoal), chopped up, and stuffed into a bun with goopy cheese (provolone or Cheez Wiz), slowly cooked (browned) onions and perhaps topped with pizza sauce (per Mudge). Salt and pepper complete the package.

A Reuben sandwich is corned beef (or pastrami), with saurkraut and swiss cheese grilled on rye bread with Russian dressing. Now that's a good sandwich, too.

I must be hungry. I guess it's time to go to bed.

Posted by: TBG | June 3, 2006 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Are you talking to me, Boko, or to my gut's microbial community?

Posted by: TBG | June 3, 2006 12:09 AM | Report abuse

>I may be mistaken but is not saurkraut an integral ingredient of an Philly Cheese Steak?

No no no no no. And I'm no friend of Velveeta, although some may enjoy it (hey it's food, I'm no one to judge) but we did slices.

I'm contemplating a deal with a bartender friend - we'll have cheesesteaks, Cuban pressed sandwiches and Long Island Iced Teas.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 3, 2006 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Cubans! Oooooooohhhh, Error Flynn!

OK.. good night. I've GOT to go to bed now.

Posted by: TBG | June 3, 2006 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I stand corrected, yes, I was thinking of a Reuben sandwich, however I find that there could be any confusion between provolone and Cheeze Whiz an indication of the depths to which American culture has sunk. It's my fault, you see I still have the unused marriage licence I purchased with a young Brooklyn girl.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The first woman I lived with was from Buffalo. You see, I love Americans. Small doses.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 12:32 AM | Report abuse

> Go big or don't go at all.


In St. Louis, MO, they "Eat-Rite or Don't Eat at All."

At Eat-Rite, the waitress does double duty as cook and cashier and, in no time, will dish you up a "slinger," which is not a drink but a plate of hash containing unadulterated and unbuffered potatoes, onions, hamburger, eggs, cheese, and chili beans.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | June 3, 2006 12:41 AM | Report abuse

When Russell Crowe was on the Daily Show just before he had his meltdown he said something to Jon that I think Stewart missed. He said,'Americans should travel more." Jon seemed to think he meant something like "expand your horizens, or get past your borders, get out and see the world." No! That wasn't the point. What you have to do is show the world that when your'e not dressed alike and carrying heavy weapons, you are not (something rude).

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 12:45 AM | Report abuse

>What you have to do is show the world that when your'e not dressed alike and carrying heavy weapons, you are not (something rude).

Um, wait a minute man... do you KNOW any Americans?

I mean, the people I love most are still pretty rude. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 3, 2006 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Sure, Peanut's Mom threw me out of her house and I had head back to Canada by way of Michigan St. in Buffalo. It was two days after New years and I ended up spending my time jamming with people I'd never met. Ah the '70's

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Loomis met Molly Ivins, I wonder if she could introduce me to the greatest guitarist in the world. Johnny Winter.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Error: if I may, technically Velveeta is a "pasteurized processed cheese product." I do not believe it actually constitutes "food," although it does melt really well. I suspect it might actually be a well-disguised petroleum product.

On a related note, I had never before heard of poutine, and am now grateful that I know enough never to order it by mistake or out of curiosity. Blech! My francophilia (or pseudofrancophilia) only goes so far.

Posted by: Boodleaire | June 3, 2006 2:24 AM | Report abuse

It seems I'm not the only one who expressed umbrage at the Department of Homeland Security's decision to cut funding to DC and NY at the expense of the Greater Floyd's Knob Metropolitan Area, viz.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 3, 2006 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Article about suspected terrorism arrests in Toronto last night, too soon for any real information.

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 6:30 AM | Report abuse

From the link a forgot to post about poutine. This is funny and really did happen and was broadcast nationally in a weekly show here. Also so no one gets the complete wrong impression, the food overall is outstanding in Quebec which is why poutine stands out to me.

In an election 2000 segment, Rick Mercer of the television series This Hour Has 22 Minutes convinced then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush that Canada's Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, was named Jean Poutine and that he was supporting Bush's candidacy. A few years later when Bush made his first official visit to Canada, he joked during a speech, "There's a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine." The remark was met with laughter and applause

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I'm up and ready for the walk, and it's raining. Can't complain, we need the rain. The boodle should check out the Colbert King's op-ed piece this morning. Interesting comments. I'm still suffering from the burn this morning after reading all those comments on that famous sandwich. I have quarterly missionary meeting this morning, looking forward to that. I do hope your weekend is good, and you enjoy it the most. Know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

A question, why is the WasPost paying out money to hide informants?

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 3, 2006 6:36 AM | Report abuse

TBG... about the Primanti Bros. sammich. Did you get yours from the "original" shop down in the Strip or the "branch" shop up by Pitt? I can't speak for the branch's quality, or the recent quality of food at either (haven't been dahntahn in about 4 years), but my experience at the Strip location has always been excellent. My fav is the roast beef loaded with coleslaw, fries and provolone and for an extra buck, they mix in a scrambled egg. Comes on fresh Italian bread baked right around the corner. mmmmmm...

Damn do I miss living in the city.

Posted by: martooni | June 3, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

TBG, you've asked a very contentious question: the best place to get a Philly cheesesteak (except at Error's house, of course) (and I have a tip for your son when he does the Philly Cheesesteak Challenge, not that I would EVER encourage a fine young student to skip school or anything):

The traditional answer is that there are basically two main choices everyone talks about: Pat's Steaks, or Geno's. (see Patskingofsteaks dot com and genosteaks dot com) and Jim's Steaks often getting a mention. Pat's is THE original (1930; Geno's is 1937, IIRC), and is at the intersection of 9th St. and Passyunk Ave, where it crosses Wharton--a 3-way intersection (and ya just got love the way the name Passyunk rolls off the tongue--a Philly-sounding name if ever there was one). Geno's is like half a block away on 9th St.

Blood has been shed arguing over which of these two is better.

A third choice (and possibly my choice) would be Jim's Steaks, which is a "newbie" and only 60 (sixty) years old, and which has four locations. If you are in center-city Philly (aka "The Big Scrapple") doing the tourist thing at the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, you can walk south a few blocks for lunch at Jim's at 4th and South Street. One advantage to Jim's is that they will Fedex their cheesesteaks, which the first two won't do. So for you outlanders, that's an option for you. I don't know if they'll Fedex to Canuckistan, but give 'em a try.

Here's tip #1. Jim's has a location at 469 Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Pa., southwest of Philly, and if I were a high school student looking to cut my travel time, and if I was heading up I-95, I'd consider shaving some time by going to Jim's ( instead of going into Philly proper. The Penna. State line will have been crossed, and since Jim's has other shops in Philly proper, I would regard the Springfield location sufficient to meet the challenge rules.

Tip #2: Alternatively, if I was also heading north on I-95, I might consider jumping off at the Route 420 North exit and going to Leo's at 1403 Chester Pike, in Folcroft (610-586-1199). Leo's has a strong reputation, too. I've had one of theirs as recently as about six months ago.

If you are in the northern suburbs in the vicinity of Willow Grove, Pa., you might try Luigi's in the Willow Grove mall (upper deck/3rd level, IIRC). Luigi's used to have three local hole-in-wall shops, one opposite the old Willow Grove Park where John Phillip Sousa used to perform (and the scene of much of James Michener's novel The Fires of Spring, which features a couple of scenes that are...ah...well, let's just say, memorable). Luigi's had PCSs that were to die for, and they are still pretty good. (Fair disclosure: Luigi's is now owned and operated by a woman I went to high school with, and her family. Hi, Joan!)

For the uninitiated, a few tips about ordering: you need to know the lingo, especially at Pat's or Geno's, where they will yell at you if you aren't prepared.

You can order "with" or "without," pronounced "wid," and "wid-owd." This refers to onions. If the cook asks you "Wid?" don't reply, "With what? I don't understand." People behind you in line will get angry, snicker openly at you, and possibly shove you out of line. (Philly can be a tough town; they once boo'ed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs at an Iggles game.)

"Cheese" automatically refers to Cheez-Whiz, so it would be "Cheese, wid" to get a traditional cheesesteak with onions. If you want provolone, say "Provolone," otherwise you'll get the glop. Then list other items as you prefer--peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Have your order AND your money ready by the time it's your turn. If you think Seinfeld's Soup Nazi was bad, see what happens if you get up to the front of the line and you say "Gee, I dunno, maybe I'll try..." 'cause you're OUTATHERE by then.

A colyumnist named John Fisher has some other sage advice:
"There are a number of things you need to consider in your search for the perfect cheesesteak. First, there's the cheesesteak itself. As already noted, a proper Philly cheesesteak is made with real beef -- fresh, not frozen. It is cooked on a grill using grease."

"As it is cooked, it should be chopped to bits. You then choose which cheese you prefer and whether you want onions, peppers or other toppings. When the sandwich is served the juices should drip from your cheesesteak. In order to avoid ruining their clothes, Philadelphians have learned, what is referred to as, the "Philadelphia Lean", bending forward to eat the cheesesteak, instead of bringing it to your mouth."

dmd was sincerely unfamiliar, and Boko was confused about sauerkraut, and so here is a recipe as well as a photo: patskingofsteaks dot com/recipe.htm and genosteaks dot com/menu.php

Note in the photo from Geno's the presence of a sliced tomato. To me this is anathema, an infamnia, but it reflects The Decline of Western Civilization As We Know It that Geno's would cave in to people who would desecrate a PCS with lettuce and tomato.

There is a Web site with a map of the USA at bestcheesesteaks dot com/ that lists what are supposedly the best places in each state (sorry, Canada) to get a Philly Cheesesteak. Caveat emptor.

Several words of caution: a "Steak-um" is to a proper cheesesteak-type meat as a Yugo is to a Ferrari. Also, the "proper" rolls are Amoroso's, if they have them in your area (with all due deference to the People's and Barbaro's in Trenton, which may also be used, pace EF).

For the health-conscious and those who wish to live past 50, I'd recommend no more than one PCS quarterly.

Final note: it wouldn't be out of line to have handy some Tums, Pepto, Pepcid, Tagamet, etc., for post-prandial relief. And if you are looking for an all-natural laxative, few things will "free you up" faster than a good PCS.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 3, 2006 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Mudge,that was a wonderful way to start a Saturday - thanks

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 8:39 AM | Report abuse

This boodle began with a discussion of what comes out and has evolved into a discussion of what goes in.

Nobody can ever claim we aren't thorough.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 3, 2006 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you know my opinion of the DHS grants. More toys, more toys!

Why is Charlotte receiving $8,970,000 next year, an increase of 64%? Because we have a very active multi-agency group that's on the ball and has its act together to identify and justify "needs."

Did you know that Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the US of A, after NYC? Bank of America and Wachovia are headquartered here. And we have two nuclear power plants within 10 miles of the center city. Yup, we've got some issues. And we aren't shy about going after the money.

As I see it, the problem with the grants is that its all for equipment. No money for the personnel to use the equipment, although I think training can be justified.

My guess is that the cities that didn't get as much didn't put the time and effort into making professional proposals. It's all about organizational priorities.

Posted by: Slyness | June 3, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

So this morning I went for my walk around the local lake (2.5 mile perimeter) where there are many, many Canada Geese, especially right now.

But plopped right there in the little-league baseball field surrounded by probably 20 or 30 Canada Geese was a gray, storybook-looking fat goose with an orange beak. According to a Google search it is a Greylag or Gray Goose. I've never seen one here before.

I have named her TBG because she sat there happily surrounded by her Canadian (Boodler) buddies.

Posted by: TBG | June 3, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge... thank you so much for your Cheesesteak Manifesto. I've always needed to know that stuff. We love Philadelphia and go there as often as possible. And when we take our Patented G Road Trips we follow the stomach, sometimes going many miles out of our way for a recommended local establishment.

We are always on the lookout for local delicacies, often discovering things we've never heard of: the Goetta in Cincinatti and the Fried Mush in western Ohio are just two quick examples I can come up with.

Now it's time to get back outside and follow Joel's advice to stayy offline. Can I handle it? I certainly hope so.

Posted by: TBG | June 3, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

*shakes head, muttering*

"What I have done to those good folk in Floyd's Knobs?"

Posted by: Loomis | June 3, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Am I to understand that, theoretically at least, we could all be here as exoskeletons for warring colonies of bacteria who pull us between salads and cheesesteaks all our life? The angel(cake) and devil(food) on our shoulders? Broken into further sectarian strife between the Velveeta vs sliced cheese and feta vs antipasto crowds?

It's the foodie version of Hitchikers Guide!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 3, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

RD, you crack me up with that dry wit. I guess paying folks to talk or give out secrets is part of the job of a newspaper. How else would they get their information? I doubt seriously folks want to volunteer information, of course some of us do. Mudge, that's a lot about a sandwich, manifesto, is a good word. And a sandwich that gives heartburn galore. I'm now going to get something for my tomatoes to help them out, they have blooms. I'm just holding my breath hoping the dogs or the critters don't snatch them. I need to tie them up too. We're getting rain here, so I might have to wait until later. I do love tomatoes.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 3, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

'mudge's Cheesesteak Treatise is essentially accurate, but I prefer the Tony Luke pork with provolone and rabe. Much more flavorful than the traditional chhesesteak and conveniently near the sports complex on Oregon Avenue.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 3, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Umbrage alert. I must make two comments after reading thru this kit and boodle:
1. It is a travesty that the list of "best movies from a book" does not include Being There. This is one of the great movies ever made, book-based or not, and contains an amazing performance by Peter Sellers in what unfortunately was his next-to-last film. It's the only movie I've seen after reading the book where I felt the movie was clearly better than the book upon which it was based.

2. En garde, TBG! A real Primanti Bros. sandwich is an amazing eating experience. You can knock the Pittsburgh habit of putting fries on odd things--we're taking about a city in which restaurants put french fries on salads--but to denigrate Primanti's is just the kind of uniformed, unprovoked attack we've come to expect from the city of brotherly love (see "Claus, Santa" or "Philly sports teams, fans of").

Not that us yinzers have anything against Philly cheesesteaks n'at.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 3, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I would have to second Being There, a favorite of my. I would also add Ordinary People, although it is a purely sentimental pick. I read the book several times in high school and was happy with the movie portrayal. Who new Mary Tyler Moore could be so cold.

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Being There! I hadn't even thought of it.
It should have headed the list. Didn't Jerzy Kozinski(sp?) write that? Sellers was a genius. I'm ashamed of myself for not thinking of it. In pennance I'll listen to my Goon Show tapes.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Did you hear about the RCMP busting some alleged terrorists in Pickering, On. A friend of mine works at the nuclear powerplant there. I wonder if that was the target of the alleged terrorists?

Posted by: Boko999 | June 3, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

My wife is from Lancaster County. She favors a cheese steak made with thinly-sliced steak, provolone, tomato sauce, and fried onions and peppers. They are extremely good. In fact, in honor of the Achenblog, we are having these for dinner.

But don't tell her. She thought it was a spontaneous suggestion.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 3, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Re terrorist arrests in Toronto, don't think Pickering Plant would be a target, doesn't sound like they would have enough explosives, that place is build pretty strong.

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

For anyone keeping track Pickering is eighteen miles east of Toronto, not west as the article states on the front page of

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Before this topic completely peters out, let me speak up for the global warming contrarians. There's nothing wrong with a weather watcher with a lifetime of experience opposing the whippersnappers. Sometimes the Cranky Old Men are right. Toward the end of his life, Feynman issued a critique of string theory that still looks valid. That's what a scientific community does: argues for different points of view. Mach's opposition to the atomic theory is the canonical example of this phenomenon. Nothing wrong with being wrong, if you're honest about it.

The problem occurs at the policy level, where the task is not to find Truth with a capital T, but to make policy based on scientific consensus. This is ideally a completely different level; no Congressman should be arguing whether global warming is a solid theory. It's way beyond their expertise. What they should be arguing is whether a solid consensus exists on the reality of global warming. Congressional Republicans like James Inhofe don't take that tack, of course, because they'd lose the argument in a second or two.

Places like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, of course, exist to blur the distinction I've just described. But those guys have always baffled me. I used to lean libertarian, but most people who describe themselves as libertarian seem to think of all environmentalism as a cover for communism. When in fact the Econ 101 fable "The tragedy of the commons" is an environmental story, and many environmental regulations can be described as an attempt to assign and enforce property rights. You'd think that would make them happy.

Posted by: fizz | June 3, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Back to humans as a composite organism (and not a compost organism as I initially read.)
I believe that all attempts to define our intrinsic humanity in terms of structure are doomed to failure. You end up talking about the pineal gland and the soul.

I suspect what makes us human is not structure, but function. The essence of being human is a process. It is not the brain, but the thought. It is not the hand, but what we create with our hands. It is not the gut, but what we have done to keep those microbes happy.

I have no doubt that this is a stunningly unoriginal concept.

Blame it on cheese steaks.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 3, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Who, exactly, is trying to define "humanity" in terms of structure? What is the soul? Who has discovered it and named it? Does everyone have one? Are there some who don't? Why or why not? Is the soul something that can be measured or quantified? If not, how do we know it exists and what accounts for it?

Since you raised the subject...

Posted by: Loomis | June 3, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

To follow along on the same train of thought, Ted Bundy and Jeff Dahmer were human. They had some pretty bad thoughts and did some pretty awful things with their hands. Hmmmm...

Posted by: Loomis | June 3, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

You miss the point. Clearly you are itching for a fight on the soul, but that is not at all what I am saying. Far from it. Joel's basic question was if microbes in the gut are part of what makes us human. Then he suggests DNA as an option for defining our unique human nature. I am saying that structural considerations of humanity, such as these, lead to contradictions that lead naturally to the fuzzy concept of the soul. Since I reject the amorphous concept of a body spirit, I reject the notion of a structurally-based definition of humanity. For if you accept microbes in the gut as being a component of what makes us human because they are a prerequisite of continued existence, then you must also grant this distinction to everything else in our infrastructure that keeps us alive. Since I am not willing to assign humanity to the air that I breath, I reject the whole formalism in favor of one based on process.

Now I have a little girl to kiss goodnight.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 3, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

The press release on "gut bacteria" says this:

The new study advances the growing field of metagenomics, or the study of many genomes found in a given ecosystem. Scientists at TIGR and elsewhere have recently scooped up whole environmental samples, from soil to sea, to study the diverse genomes contained within them. The idea is to survey a complex community in one fell swoop, examining how whole ecosystems of genomes respond to environmental perturbations--and, in the case of humans, how microbial ecosystems contribute to health and disease.

"This study is an important first step toward identifying microbial differences between healthy people and those with conditions ranging from Crohn's Disease to cancer," says co-author Karen Nelson of TIGR, who has previously studied the guts of termites and other animals. "We might compare different individuals, with different diets, for instance."

You ascribe to me an affinity for fight, but I prefer discussion. These gut microbes are indeed part of what makes us human. Does DNA define human nature? It sure as heck defines humans and a myriad of other life forms, and as we unravel DNA's complexities and better understand proteomics, we may have more answers about human behavior, or "nature" as you like to call it. In the case of mutant and artist Toulouse Lautrec, DNA certainly defined his perspective on life.

We are aerobic and the Krebs Cycle and oxygen are central to our ability to be human. Oxygen, though it doesn't have DNA, is part of our ecosystem that maintains life, unique to this particular planet. How many life forms are anaerobic?

Because your language is so imprecise, Padouk, it's hard to decipher exactly *what you are saying.* Maybe it's time to delve into Matt Ridley's 2003 book, "Nature via Nuture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes us Human." And are you not interested in how microbial ecosystems within the homo sapien digestive tract contribute to health and disease? Our health keeps us alive and makes us human over a longer time span. It bothers me not in the least that we have symbiotic relationships with other life forms--in our gut or elsewhere.

Posted by: Loomis | June 3, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

>Since I am not willing to assign humanity to the air that I breath, I reject the whole formalism in favor of one based on process.

As a famously black-box testing kind of guy, I dig that.

But I still wonder what the rocks think about it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 3, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I am trying to respond to the specific question Joel asks in his Friday 05:17 post regarding the tricky question of what it means to be human. I am suggesting that the philosophical concept of humanness rests in neither our physical bodies, nor a mystical soul. I assert that both options lead to profound pragmatic difficulties. I suggest a third option that is, I believe, linked to certain concepts advanced by the computer pioneer Turing. What makes us human is the way we behave.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 3, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Would that mean what makes us human is that we have a choice in which behaviour we choose?

Posted by: dmd | June 3, 2006 10:10 PM | Report abuse

So RD, I guess you'd say you really are what you eat. I like the functional approach to describing humanity's essence, and it has the added benefit of not being completely anthrocentric. Do dogs have souls? I dunno, but they sure do sniff things.

On the soul and existence questions, Chance the Gardener had as good an approach as any. Just another plug for Being There; remember, the movie is better than the book.

Boko, Jerzy Kosinski did write Being There. I read 5 or 6 of his books in a burst 20 years ago or so, and it's the only one I recommend. The Painted Bird is good, but very powerful stuff, suitable only for folks with a strong stomach. The others were way too mysognistic and violent.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 3, 2006 10:19 PM | Report abuse

The terms "soul" and "personality" are often used interchangeably, but sometimes I wonder if maybe the soul is not so much something we *have* as something we tap into.

Perhaps if humans were to evolve into a species beyond human, we'd still have, or be able to tap into, this same soul. Maybe we'd be *better* at tapping into it. By the same token, maybe dogs could, in theory, tap into this same soul -- but maybe it would take an exceptional dog to be able to do that (the dog Nani sometimes refers to, for instance -- the one in Texas who recently had puppies).

As for what makes us "human," it seems that being human covers a wide range of thoughts and behaviors. I've heard it said that the difference between the "average" human and more exceptional humans -- the great philosophers and scientists, say -- is much greater than the difference between the average human and the average chimpanzee.

[I might have paraphrased wrong. Let's see if I can't dig up the quote . . .]

Posted by: Dreamer | June 3, 2006 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, you're getting Jungian with that soul tapping reference. Or perhaps closer to a buddhist assessment of the illusion of individuality, wherein we are all part of the universal whole, and our perception of our separation from that whole is the source of our suffering.

Apologies to Jungians or Buddhists whose belief systems I have just grossly mischaracterized, I was much more familiar with these things when I was younger and ingesting more drugs.

Or as Bobby Zimmerman said, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 4, 2006 12:14 AM | Report abuse

[Found it.]

"When you come to think of it, almost all human behavior and activity is not essentially different from animal behavior. The most advanced technology and craftsmanship brings us at best to the super-chimpanzee level. Actually, the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human. The realm of real spirit -- the true artist, the saint, the philosopher -- is rarely achieved. Why so few? . . . He11, the Greeks 3,000 years ago were just as advanced as we are. So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question, and that's this: Which is the most universal human characteristic -- fear, or laziness?"

-- Louis H. Mackey, 1926-2004, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin

from the film "Waking Life" (2001), directed by Richard Linklater

Posted by: Dreamer | June 4, 2006 12:20 AM | Report abuse

silvertongue, I couldn't have said it better myself:
"We are all part of the universal whole, and our perception of our separation from that whole is the source of our suffering."

Posted by: Dreamer | June 4, 2006 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges, soon," said I
Proud 'neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"Rip down all hate," I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
"Equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

(My Back Pages by Bob Dylan)

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 4, 2006 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I believe that we are all part of a "universal whole" - and when I say we, I mean all life forms - humans, plants, animals, yes, even microbes (possibly rocks). But that's about all I got - can't go deeper or be more articulate, except to say we're all connected. Wish I understood Noam Chomsky's language theory - how humans are "wired" for language - but I don't.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 4, 2006 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Geewiz, poutine is getting a rough time. The mix seems strange at first, I resisted trying it for the longest time but finally broke down and got a classic fries/cheese curds/gravy. I was converted. Unfortunately, as noted by Mudge for his beloved PCS, you can actually feel your arteries getting clogged by the greasy deposits as you eat. Sadly then, having a poutine has become a yearly event for me. No italian (tomato souce) or galvaude (chunks of wieners) poutine for me, thank you very much.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 4, 2006 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Shriek, I think I'll have to take a pass on the poutine, and its Italian and galvaude varients, but thanks for sharing. But are there some other local French-Canadian (or Frogo-Canuckistani) dishes we Americans might be unfamiliar with?

Discuss. (Thanks.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 4, 2006 7:26 AM | Report abuse

A popular treat at the school "tuckshop" when I was a kid was Sausage Roll in a Bun. That's right -- as if the carbs in the pastry of the sausage roll weren't enough, the thing had to be stuffed into a bread roll. Thankfully no mayo or gravy was involved, just ketchup (aka tomato sauce, aka sauce, aka dead horse).

Some people also enjoyed potato chip sandwiches, as well as sandwiches made out of cheese doodles (aka Twisties, which are *much* better than Cheetos).

Posted by: Achenfan | June 4, 2006 7:30 AM | Report abuse

good morning! I've been out of the boodle since the whole thing went weird Friday afternoon. However, I just read Joel's piece on Sen. Clinton. Very cool. I guess I'll go read the biography at her website, too. Not that I doubt what Joel is saying, just that I should start thinking whether I'd vote for her or not.

Posted by: a bea c | June 4, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Gee, I hope I'm not what I eat or else I'm in big trouble. I certainly want to be more. Hope the weekend is going pretty good. My tomatoes are thriving. My neighbor put some stuff on them yesterday to help them grow. I wasn't too keen on that because I bought something to put on them, but he so wanted to do it, I caved in. It did smell a little strong. I asked him when did you buy this, and he said last year. My heart sunk, but maybe it will be okay. I don't want to get "overly" with the tomatoes. I've read the piece on Mrs. Clinton. Joel brought out some points, but it seems he may have been just a tad "hard". I don't know if anyone can really do a piece on women, especially if they're men, and it not come out like a beating. I'm on my way to Sunday school and church. Please know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 4, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Achen. I'm just getting up and you must be about ready to call it a day.

Being from the Trenton area, there's a dish I'm sure Error must be familiar with--Taylor's Ham, aka pork roll. It seems to be a regional think in Joisey and Penna., but I don't know how far beyond that it spreads. Grocery stores here near DC carry it, but it seems to be relatively obscure here. When I got married, my wife had never heard of it, and is now as addicted as I've always been. I eat it three different ways: (1) sliced fairly thin and fried, on a hamburger roll (the "traditional" way; in a pinch, I've used plain bread or even toast); (2) as the meat side dish with scrambled eggs; and (3) diced into 1/4-inch cubes and generously sprinkled on the top of bake-at-home pizzas (esp. Elio's long rectangular pizza) (my own "invention"). On a sandwich, Taylor's Ham *must* be accompanied by mustard.

The local BJs sells it in big rolls about 18 inches long, which I cut up and slice down and put into a dozen or so ziplock bags, and freeze for future use. Much more economical than buying those little rolls, or the boxes with four slices.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 4, 2006 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Here's an artery clogging sandwich for you, a popular breakfast when I was young. Toast with peanut butter and then you add well cooked bacon. Sound awful but quite tasty.

Posted by: dmd | June 4, 2006 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey, 'mudge.
Are you talkin' to me? Are YOU talkin' to ME?
(When you address me as "Achen," I can't help thinking, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!")

I won't be calling it a day just yet. I was surfing through the movie channels and happened across "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America." Makes me think there must be something to this we-create-our-own-reality thing -- just today I was thinking I'd like to watch some Beavis and Butt-Head, and I'd started thinking about places here in Hong Kong where I might be able to get my hands on some DVDs, and now, there it is!

Heh . . . heh heh heh. I am the great cornholio! Heh . . . heh heh heh.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 4, 2006 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Another popular breakfast:
Toast with banana and Vegemite. (*Much* healthier than peanut butter and bacon.)

Posted by: Achenfan | June 4, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I think just about anything is healthier than peanut butter and bacon. What is in vegimite. Another (I believe) Canadian sandwich would be Canadian Bacon on a bun, my preferred additions being mustard and old cheddar. Canadian Bacon is less fat than regular bacon.

Would vegimite and bannana be like a peanut butter and banana sandwich?

Posted by: dmd | June 4, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Vegemite is yeast extract.
The British equivalent is Marmite. It tastes a bit like Bonox, a beef-broth-tasting beverage. (Tempted yet?)
It's very low in fat and cholesterol, and high in Vitamin B. But unless you were raised on it, you'd probably hate it.
I guess you could say that Vegemite is to Australians what peanut butter is to Americans, even though Vegemite is nothing like peanut butter. I do quite like peanut butter -- but I could never understand the use of peanut butter in *candy*, e.g., Reese's pieces, Butterfingers, etc.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 4, 2006 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I am with you on Reese's pieces, but I do like Reese's peanut butter cups - just chocolate and peanut butter. I think North Americans just have an addition to sugar/chocolate and peanut butter.

Posted by: dmd | June 4, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

sorry addiction not addition.

Posted by: dmd | June 4, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

[Hey, new Kit/column, folks.]

Posted by: Achenfan | June 4, 2006 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Yes, peanut butter and bacon on toast is well-known in the Philly region. I like peanut butter well enough, I suppose, but I was never really all that crazy about it as many other people. To me a PBJ was the "sandwich of last resort" when you ran out of--or couldn't afford--anything else (along with a baloney sandwich, which I never understood either).

On the other hand, I love a good liverwurst/onion/mustard sandwich on rye, which will actually make my wife flinch and run from the room (she's a Suthin' gal also partly raised in San Diego, so she finds some of my Yankee customs a bit obnoxious).

And of course the n'est-plus-ultra breakfast sandwich: lox, cream cheese, a thick slice of Bermuda onion, and a slice of tomato on a toasted bagel. Absolutely to die for. (Also de rigeur for a late-night snack. Right after college, my significant other and I after a movie or play would go to a diner near her house [about three blocks from the factory where they make Oreo cookies, in far northeast Philly, not that it is relevant to anything] and have lox/bagels. The goodnight kiss and ...uh...related activitity...aren't a problem as long as BOTH of you have had lox/bagels/Bermuda onion, but if only one of you has, it creates some ... unpleasantness.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 4, 2006 8:38 AM | Report abuse

If 'mudge is still there John Updike is about to appear on George Stephanopolos

Posted by: Boko999 | June 4, 2006 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I will wish you all a Good Morning by sharing this blessing with you.
Toasted peanut butter and tomato sandwich.

Posted by: Boko999 | June 4, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Just missed him, but thanks for the heads-up, Boko. That's what I get for leaving the room.

Off to run some errands now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 4, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

You didn't miss much. They gave him about 4 minutes. Updike has a new novel "Terrorist" that tries to get inside the mind of a young,well educated american born jihadist. Sounds like a desciption of the young gentlemen arrested in Toronto.
Anyway, with a new book out I'm sure we'll be seeing more him.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

oh God.. I dont know how many cells my body has got. i wouldnt know if someone never told me if i have a spleen or intestines. I am happy as long as my body works fine. now that i know there are more stuff in me to be ME.
thats cool.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 7, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Achen, are you TRYING to provoke us resentful non-Americans with your casual put-downs? The Guardian list of the 50 best movies adapted from books is "weird" only in that peculiar local sense of "not being entirely American to the exclusion of all else", as in when I hear "you have a weird accent". It was compiled by a
left-wing English newspaper and can hardly be expected to resemble YOUR all-time faves. Presumably, when you ask about the inclusion of Kes, you have other superior depictions of British working class life in mind, hmmmmm? Maybe you should release your "Top 50 list For British viewers"? As it happens, the film Kes is a must for any movie buff and the refreshingly bleak novel is short enough to be done full justice on screen in under two hours. It has the added virtue (American and Indian novelists please note) that it doesn't take much longer to read. Ken Loach is something akin to Oliver Stone - a brilliant artist with a weakness for sermons. In Kes, he is faithful to the novel and produces an understated masterpiece.

Posted by: bg | June 11, 2006 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Re: easier soccer teams to beat: Tasmania isn't a country, although it is a very nice state of Australia. This morning, just before the USA game, Australia beat Japan 3 goals to 1.

Posted by: BrettM | June 12, 2006 6:36 PM | Report abuse

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