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Inventing Internet Journalism

Washingtonpost.com is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and has posted a history of itself, which tragically but predictably fails to mention me, or my heroic efforts to invent Internet journalism as we know it. The phrase "glaring omission" comes to mind. Also "shocking oversight." Only a deep sense of inner security prevents me from being wounded by the epidemic of underappreciation that haunts my sorry existence.

Let me take you back in time to a misty era in which, at the end of a long day of fact-finding and source-mining and shoe leather on pavement, a reporter would pound out a thousand words and file it to an editor by around, oh, 6 p.m., initiating a process that would involve, deep into the night, large contraptions called presses that applied ink to paper and culminated in a product hurled from a passing car onto a person's front lawn. Actually that still happens. Delete the "misty era" stuff.

But there came a point, in the latter half of the 1990s, when it became clear that the future of the newspaper business would involve giving it away for free on the Web rather than asking people to pay for it in print. And that the future would involve, to some degree or other, delivering news directly and quickly to readers during the day as they sat at their desks, searching for some kind of neurochemically pleasant distraction when their boss wasn't looking. Thus was born online journalism.

In the summer of 1999 the word spread in the newsroom that we were going to start a midday edition of washingtonpost.com, called the PM Extra. This would require a change in the culture of the newsroom. It would require, specifically, that people start working early in the morning. You cannot imagine how radical this seemed at the time. Mornings were for reading the paper, shooting the breeze, and planning lunch. This cultural revolution would require that Tracy Grant, the editor of the new edition, get up at the crack of dawn and begin the onerous process of charming and cajoling reporters into filing copy by noon. "Beg" is another word that I believe Tracy would not object to.

Because I was a morning person, and tended to fall apart in the afternoon and distintegrate by dusk, I spied a professional opportunity, and volunteered to write something several times a week -- maybe just a paragraph or two, off the morning news. The morning we were going to launch the Extra, the system crashed. Just went kablooey. We couldn't file anything -- indeed, Tracy at one point told me to start writing my piece longhand, on paper. An inauspicious start to the new digital age.

But eventually the technical stuff worked, and at 1 o'clock we had everything up on the site, including my columnette, Rough Draft, which then vanished at 4 o'clock, never to be seen again. An early lesson: Glory is ephemeral on the Web. Although there were many vexing moments in the months to come (for example, for a long time the stuff written exclusively for the Web couldn't be found using the Search function, because, for inexplicable technical reasons, only the print-edition stories were searchable), eventually, under the leadership of Tracy and editor Lexie Verdon, the PM Extra proved so successful that it ceased to exist altogether, because we became a 24-hour newsroom.

The history piece on washingtonpost.com mentions some tension betwixt The Post's downtown newsroom and that of the digital Post across the river. I will not speak of that tension, other than to say that,

on a daily basis, I did my best to heighten it.

Some years ago I wrote about this transitional period in the introduction to my book "It Looks Like a President Only Smaller." Here are a couple of excerpts:

"The Internet is not a medium well suited to those who like to polish their prose and contemplate at leisure the nuances of political discourse. It's a medium for spewing. This is its worst attribute, and, simultaneously, its great virtue. Much of what runs on the Internet is just chatter. Facts are outnumbed by assertions -- it's almost talk radio. But there's also some charm in that. The writing on the Net tends to be conversational, honest, direct. Like food, journalism is fresher when it's not heavily processed. There's no time for journalism-by-committee. When online writing is effective, it creates the sense of being at a dinner party with a lot of smart, loud, opinionated people who are still several drinks away from being completely soused."

"I have a system: Start writing in my attic around 7:00 A.M., pause to make breakfast and school lunches, write some more, and then, around 9:00 A.M., abandon the column and call Tracy at the office, telling her that I have no ideas and nothing to say and should probably quit writing 'Rough Draft" and return to real journalism. Tracy invariably will respond by saying that I can have an extra fifteen minutes to file but no more. I drive to the office, enter my pod, and ask David Von Drehle, the reporter next to me, what I should write. He tells me. I type real fast for two hours and file at noon. Tracy and Mary [Hadar] edit the column, taking out the stuff that will get us sued and destroy the reputation of one of the greatest news organizations on the planet. The column then zooms electronically across the river to the editors at washingtonpost.com. With astonishing speed they review, copy-edit, and format the piece and somehow, through a digital miracle, publish it on the Web site at 1:00 P.M. By about 1:15 P.M. I get the first e-mail saying that I am scum, the lowliest slime on the planet, a detestable putrescence. The process has a beautiful, natural rhythm, culminating at about 6:00 P.M. when suddenly I can't remember what I wrote that morning."

Them was the days. Fast, furious, fundamentally futile. Since then, of course, we've made some drastic changes, such as banning alliteration and diving headlong into the "blog" format, which is basically the same old thing, only with comments, or what we call around here the Boodle, a swarm of commentators who have free run of the place and keep things hopping round the clock. It's all evolving. Clearly my own role is dwindling here, and I may eventually duck out entirely -- hoping, without looking back, that someone will eventually notice.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 20, 2006; 7:31 AM ET
 
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Comments

"...searching for some kind of neurochemically pleasant distraction when their boss wasn't looking."

This is why I can't take up golf or heroin. I already boodle.

"When online writing is effective, it creates the sense of being at a dinner party with a lot of smart, loud, opinionated people who are still several drinks away from being completely soused."

Joel has predicted both the Boodle and the BPH, except in the latter's case, "away from" needs to be changed to "past".

Posted by: yellojkt | June 20, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I still read the A-section in dead-tree format every morning with my coffee; Sundays in the summer are made for leisurely absorbing the entire Sunday Post at poolside.

There is room in my life for both electrons and wood pulp.

Posted by: Pixel | June 20, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I met a websurfer from an antique land
Who said: a vast and archive of stories
Stand in the internet. Near them, on the same page,
Half corrupted, a shattered visage lies, whose frown (I think it is a frown),
And flyaway hair, and sneer from cold coffee,
Tell that its digital editor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"This is the Ozymandiablog:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck of a website, boundless and bare
The inane commentary of the posters goes on far too long.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I remember the Rough Draft well. It was a fun to watch Joel make up a new style of journalism on the fly. A style to which Joel seems very well suited. Once, after Joel wrote a brilliant but decidedly daffy bit about something fascinatingly irrelevant, he reported having received a critical email. As I recall, Joel's response was something like "What do you expect for free?"

Oh, it was a simple and innocent time.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"There is room in my life for both electrons and wood pulp." Yes, I agree. I normally begin the day by scanning the A-1, then hitting the Comics section, from which almost all relevant news is delivered. The comics are much better read from print, IMHO. I really believe that the guys who do Tank MacNamara can sometimes outdo Toles. After the comics, a scan of the Sports section to see what new way the Nats have discovered to lose. Get to work, open up the web, hit the kit and boodle, and we're ready to face the day.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 20, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I posted on the last boodle for you. Too much to repost.

I agree with yellojkt.
"the sense of being at a dinner party with a lot of smart, loud, opinionated people who are still several drinks away from being completely soused." A brilliant forecast, Sire Achenbach.

Surely they should have mentioned you for this alone.

Posted by: dr | June 20, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I will often read articles in a print newspaper that I wouldn't click in the online version, but the online versions are so much more convenient. And I love all the extras - blogs (especially this one, of course), the ability to avoid most advertising, searches, constant updates, etc.

The ability to read multiple newspapers (or at least their opinion sections) from across the country and around the world on the day they are published is something that still amazes me. And then I get to the NYT, and can't read their columnists without paying, and dive back into the washingtonpost.com.

Posted by: axe | June 20, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the dead tree version-- it's a long way to recycle for me, and I'd hate to make the Post headlines for dying due to being trapped from getting to the door by a year's subscription of the Post.

I'm longing for digital paper in broadsheet size that could be reprogrammable by a simple download (paid of course). I want comics in my hands, too.
http://mobilemag.com/content/100/102/C2393/

I like Tank McNamara, they usually focus on sports that I'm not so fanatic about, but when they hit what I like, they really hit.

There was a cartoon a few years ago about the Kentucky Derby hopeful (or winner) who was thinking, and delibrately hurt his leg so he'd be retired to a life at stud. I thought about that cartoon when Barbaro got injured.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 20, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"Pixels and pulp". Pithy. As a Presidential politics junkie I became addicted to online national coverage (Post, NYTimes) several years ago. I also read our local paper online because I can't bear to pay the overlords for a subscription, but find it professionally useful to know where the crime is and what's going on in the Capitol. I subscribe to the WSJ print version, and read our local independent (read: liberal) weekly. Also weekly magazines, just to get that pulp ratio up. By the time I stumbled into online journalism it already bore a startling resemblance to a "real" newspaper. I'm referring to content and format, of course, not physical attributes. It is inconceivable to me that WaPo could publish a history of its online foray without prominently featuring Joel.

SonofCarl -- Ozymandiablog. Stunning.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 20, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Off hand, I would say that print journalism is dead. Actually, mainstream journalism is dead. I stopped subscribing to my local newspaper three years ago and read everything on-line. When the NYT started charging for access to some of their editorials and stories, I voted with my feet, deleted them from my "favorite" and simply read news and commentary from sites that do not charge. I know that millions of readers are just like me, too, and the NYT has suffered as a consequence. It's rather like outsourcing jobs - since you can get almost the same thing for free (or cheap) somehwere else, why on earth would you pay for it?
Couple all of this with the fact that most mainstream journalist appear to be more concerned about not offending offical Washington (or New York), than actually asking tough questions. I mean, Comedy Central's John Stewart and Colbert ask more penetrating questions and feature commentary that actually is insightful and no holds barred. Mainstream newspaper and television reporters give the appearance of being star struck groupies. What ever hapend to people like Walter Cronkite? Look what has happened to Mike Wallace in recent days! If "the press" expects to survive, it had better get itself independent of politicians and corporations get tough with them. Do that and I'll subscribe, I'll pay money for on-line access, and I'll support you (hell, I'll riot in the streets!) when the government arrests you for reporting "state secrets" and other truths.

Posted by: Miie Brooks | June 20, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

It is easier to read the paper on the Internet, but I still read the paper version too.

As to the lack of appreciation for your efforts in the beginning, Joel, perhaps the Post is planning something really big for you.

I wonder if there is tension between the younger writers and those that have been on the scene awhile because of this new electronic way of gathering news. And does the quality of the news change because of the change in technology? Did pounding the beat make for better reporting or is it all the same? I don't know, it just seems that being there and in the thick of it all is always better.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 20, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what anyone says, the guy from CNN, Anderson Cooper, I thought did a fantastic job during Hurricane Katrina. I was riveted to the televison when he came on. He just really seemed to be into it, digging in it with everything he had. Didn't back away from any of it, and said what he thought. Of course, CNN, put the spotlight on the situation by putting the guy down there with the camera while those in power were lying through their teeth at various press conferences.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 20, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I thought Anderson Cooper did a fantastic job during Hurricane Katrina. I was riveted to the television set when he came on. I mean he dug through everything and seemed to speak his mind, regardless. Of course, CNN, put the spotlight on the situation in New Orleans by sending the guy down there with camera that showed just what was going on while some folks were holding press conferences giving us bull instead of facts.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 20, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, boss!! Why weren't you out (un)covering this??? We demand full dis-clothes-ure.
"Perusing reports of this month's World Naked Bike Ride in San Francisco, I was impressed by the way the acres of sagging mottled flesh stayed ruthlessly on message: 'RE-ELECT GORE' was the slogan on one man's bottom, as fetchingly dimpled as a Palm Beach chad, while beneath the 'GORE' of his butt his upper thighs proudly proclaimed 'NO WAR' (left leg) 'FOR OIL' (right).

"'I'D RATHER HAVE THIS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT' read one lady's naked torso with an arrow pointing down to the presidential material in question. What a bleak comment on the bitter divisions in our society that even so all-American a tradition as nude bicycling down Main Street should now be so nakedly partisan. It's as if the republic itself is now divided into a red buttock and a blue buttock permanently cleaved by the bicycle seat of war."

No pictures. I checked."

(Borrowed from Howie's column)

Posted by: ebtnut | June 20, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post, but I was informed that the first comment didn't go through, so I wrote another, using different words, yet trying to get the same message across. I've heard people say here that comments get eaten, but I am a little surprised the way that one turned out.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 20, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Miie Brooks said: "I mean, Comedy Central's John [sic] Stewart and Colbert ask more penetrating questions and feature commentary that actually is insightful and no holds barred."

You say that as if it's a surprise. The power of the satirist always has been the ability to take cover behind the pretense that it's all a joke, a lightweight frivolity. Satire of any quality confronts matters of desperate seriousness, while the pretense of inanity tricks the listener into hearing a message that he otherwise could ignore. Those guys are not lightweights, and they know exactly what they're doing. It should be no surprise that they can get into issues that the MSM cannot. That's their job. It's a tradition of thousands of years' standing. Funny is not equal to stupid.

You may have missed this fact, but The Daily Show and The Colbert Report do no reporting of their own. They don't have to do it, because the MSM already do it. Their (Comedy Central's) job is to connect the dots in the way that the fact-based media are not permitted to do, because it would terminate their ability to work. So, they objectively report what they uncover, and trust there are others who are smart enough to put the pieces together. Sober is not equal to clueless.

But I still wonder -- what's the deal with Colbert's obsession with bears?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | June 20, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I watched the PBS show last night with Lehrer and Bradley, and was ultimately disappointed. I mean, REALLY disappointed. There were some good comments about journalism, but it came off too much like a couple of old friends getting together to noodle about their profession -- which I guess was what it was supposed to be about -- but if the premise was a discussion of the First Amendment, I think it fell short. As my fellow boodlers know, I am of the opinion that MSM has fallen *waaaayyyyyyyy* too short in its so-called reporting on the Bush/Cheney (or is it the other way around?) administration. I mean, the First Amendment has to be continually fought for and protected and not allow it to become an endangered species or even extinct. Self-congratulations by a couple of established journalists (retired or not) doesn't help us. Very disappointing, and to my regret, as I admire these guys generally.

I was even compelled to watch the last part of the Stanley Cup finals, mourning over the demise early on of the Red Wings (and then the Pistons for G's sake!), which gives you an idea. . . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 20, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the pronoun-agreement problems and the ambiguous pronoun antecedents. I feel so ashamed.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks ivansmom.

My first highspeed internet access was at work, and I had a whole list of news sources I cycled through. The main attraction was the feeling of getting it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, especially with respect to the Middle East. I recommend Haaretz from Isreal and the Daily Star from Lebanon for those interested.

For obvious reasons I have managed to limit myself to just a few links at work; here, the WP site generally, and Globe and Mail.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, after yesterday's Boodle I'd say that Colbert is not the only one obsessed with bears. Seems like everyone has a bear story, if only about the absence of bears, or somebody else's bears.

I think it is the word itself. Bear. Say it a few times. Write it over and over. It is a friendly word, lending itself to repetition and interpretation.

This is not true of the word "chicken". "Chicken" should be repeated only for the sake of amusement.

I agree that satirists build on the reporting of others. That was a nice point -- it is easy, when everyone is a blogger and thus a writer (hah) to forget the distinctions between various forms of writing. And I'm talking about category only, such as satirist vs. reporter, not about critical distinctions such as "good" and "bad".

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 20, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Shomebo'y wrote: "still several drinks away from being completely soused."

Well, *I'M* certainly not several drinks away. I've been tanked for weeks. I had no idea we were expected to boodle sober.

Killjoy. Hmmmph. *burp*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I noted that too. Whazzat, sum kinda public serfus announcemunt that we're sposed to stay sober?

Posted by: ShunnufCaaaarl | June 20, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I get the Post delivered at "home", but since I travel often, that only comes out to about 6 months a year. I'm glad to read the paper via the net, keeping up on the comings and goings around town. And then I tripped across this blog, and have been hooked ever since.

For the longest time, I thought SoC was the alter ego of ScienceTim, but have since learned the difference (both can make me feel like I bought my PBK membership).

About staying sober -- I'm officially on vacation, so I fail to grasp the point.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Pixel, your post up top has touched the muse deep in my soul, and I believe I do feel a song coming on. Yes...here it comes now, and I think it may go...

a little something...

like this:

Good news, bad news, cripplin' and kind.
Dead trees, many things I can't refine.
Occasional spice, kits and boodlers who mind.
Wood pulp and electrons, the color of time.

Who cares what news we viewed?
Little to read, but nothing too crude.

Wood pulp and electrons, meaningless nouns.
Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around.
Look at yourself, look at yourself,
Yeah, yeah.
Look at yourself, look at yourself,
Yeah, yeah,
Yeah, yeah.

'pionions split the cockeyed world in two.
Throw your pride to one side, it's the least you can do.
Moonbats and politics, nothing is new.
A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view.

Who cares what news we viewed?
Little to win, and your stories are boo'ed.

Good news, bad news, crippled and kind.
Dead trees and many things I find sublime.
Oh gotta work and I'm three kits behind.
Wood pulp and electrons, thank god it's not mime.

Who cares what news we viewed?
Little to win, screwed, blued and tatoo'ed.

Wood pulp, electrons, wood pulp, electrons.

Sha-la-la, sha-la-la....

(Before somebody under 30 asks and I have to shake my head sadly: "Incense and Peppermints," Strawberry Alarm Clock. Sheesh. Green kids. That's what they're sending me. Green kids. Nani, Loomis, you see what the world's comin' to?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

>"Incense and Peppermints," Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Don't worry Mudge, they got a taste of it in "Austin Power's International Man of Mystery".

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

A boodle-inspired movie-to-be:

Curmudgeon: International Ham of History.

SEE whales puns harpooned!
EXPERIENCE Boodle Logic
ADVENTURE in the wildlife Kingdom!
THRILL at the exploits of Mr Stripey

WITH POSTS OF THOUSANDS & TONS OF ELEPHANTS (AND THEIR DUNG)

Posted by: wilbrod | June 20, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

How many elephants do you need for 'tons?' Will one do?

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that was great (although I think your category of 'whippersnapper' is going to have to be broadened to under 40 as I wouldn't have got that were it not, as EF notes, for Austin Powers).

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I am clueless.

Strawberry Alarm Clock?

PBK membership?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I, too, confess to not knowing PBK.

Regarding Strawberry Alarm Clock: Tim, you'll just have to let that on go, or take it on trust.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

>For the longest time, I thought SoC was the alter ego of ScienceTim, but have since learned the difference (both can make me feel like I bought my PBK membership).

Here's a handy desk reference:

ScienceTim: NASA Astronomer
SonofCarl: NSA Watchlist
ScienceTim: PBK member
SonofCarl: had to google "PBK" (peanut butter and ketchup?)
ScienceTim: alter ego StorytellerTim
SonofCarl: unnamed alter ego appears after drinking 17 beer to prevent prostate cancer

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Also, SoC too thick to sign own post at 4:49.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

PBK--Society of people who think reading history books is fun. Secret decoder ring and everything.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Not technically a NASA astronomer; NASA-contracted astronomer.

Third alias: "Tim", for when I'm feeling political and non-authoritative in any way. But I still don't know what PBK means. Pre-Burger King? Pretty Big Kitchen? Pitiful Baffling Klutz?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

As a result of google-searching, PBK is Phi Beta Kappa. I guess I would have at least have heard of it but in Haute Maine they call it Gold Key Society (I think).

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh. I has googled it and now I know that PBK = Phi Beta Kappa. No, I is not a member. I is too dum. Them PBK folks is really smart guys. Or humanities majors. These disciplines with objective standards of evaluation, like physics, can be really unforgiving, you know?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Phi Beta Kappa ya goof! Sheesh! Now I really know how much these distinctions are worth. I'll have to print this out, send it in with my dues, and try to explain that I really do think you all are the brainiest bunch of nuts in the dish.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"brainiest bunch of nuts in the dish"

I like that. It's certainly better than "brainiest bunch of nuts in my shorts."

I yam so crude. I yam a bad man.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Also a big Popeye fan? (Saw it on Spanish tv today..they pronounce it Poop-A-Yeah).

SoC...thanks for the handy desk reference. I'll tape it down, next to the pic of Joel (when do you think they took that pic? First thing Monday morning, or 5:00 on a Friday)?

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Tim also travels under the alias ConceptualTim.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

phi beta kappa my foot, PBK=professional boodler klub

Posted by: newkid | June 20, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Trying to think up some cool name for the acronym. Can't. Must be the Baileys.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Phi Beta Kappa? Hah! Would it help you to know that in college, I took five classes in economics? I took Ec. 101 three times, until I passed, and then had to take Ec. 102 twice. (Both required, dammit). And, yes, the textbook was that *&%$#@& Samuelson. Of the five teachers, only two were native-born and spoke passable English. And one of them, a retired Army colonel from the South named Cuthbertson, was a slow-talker and a whisperer. The man was a human dose of walking, talking thorazine. During my senior year, when I was editor of the paper and working fulltime at it, my class cut/attendence ratio was about 35 percent.

PBK indeed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

When I was in school, there was this woman, and EVERY class, her sweater matched her earrings, which matched her socks. I was lucky if my socks matched each other.
I think that was part of the criteria for the honor.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

It's been said before (and probably by me), but it's harder to take the online version into the bathroom.

I'm just saying.

Posted by: TBG | June 20, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

LiT, the boodle gave Achenbach a lot of grief over his photo a while back (April? I've only been hanging around since Feb/Mar). There was a National Geographic photo that was a good one we found on internet searching, and some ... others. Either he's impervious to the criticism, or form 423(b) was not filled out properly in triplicate to change his photo.

It could be worse; I would bet that Emily Messner looks better in real life than her blog photo.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

It does have a certain.....how do you say without being offensive....Eddie Haskel look to it. But who I am to talk? I do my best to stay on the other side of a camera.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stripey has sprouted a green tomato! Oh the joy! The boundless, joyous, Celine Dion-type tears!

Try to get news like this anywhere else...

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom writes:
I think it is the word itself. Bear. Say it a few times. Write it over and over. It is a friendly word, lending itself to repetition and interpretation.

This is not true of the word "chicken". "Chicken" should be repeated only for the sake of amusement.
***

For your afternoon amusement, a litle chicken song--scroll down until you see the first song--and only--with chicken in the title, then click:

http://www.arizonaopry.com/

Posted by: Loomis | June 20, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth "Boodle Logic" would be a decent handle.

Also I feel it's my public duty to pass on the news that Fox has released a new (old) set of Charlie Chan movies. "Charlie Chan In London.. Paris..Egypt" etc.

Very cool. My old VHS copies have been coming apart.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

PBK...

A little story here. At the end of my freshman year at Humboldt, I wrote my friend, now author, Brock Thoene, at his college in Texas, informing him that I had been tapped to be in the FOP. He wrote back, suggesting that I was, of my four roommates, "the first one pregnant."
(Hardly, I was still a wirgen at that time.)

"No dummy," I wrote back in a furious flurry, "the Freshman Orientation Program!"

Posted by: Loomis | June 20, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Now that internet journalism has been invented and is here to stay, I wonder about the future of news itself. New media in the past have always added to the previous versions and delivery of information; radio supplemented newspapers, television news supplemented radio, cable networks supplemented broadcast, etc.

But now I don't know how well the business model of newspapers works, and I'm not alone, as media execs struggle to figure it out.

What we seem to have is increasing atomization of news and information, begun by cable proliferation and now exploding with the internet. Some current outlets will wither and die, as afternoon newspapers and most local radio news did. Local television news probably follows, inasmuch as it presents mostly the day's best crashes and the latest info on colorectals.

What I worry about most is the survival of robust national media able to question and even fight when government runs out of control. But as their audiences shrink and some of their viewers and readers choose other alternatives, they could be diminished.

We already live in a nation where it's possible for Washington Times/Fox News/Limbaugh consumers to occupy an alternative universe from that inhabited by Post/Times/NPR types.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 20, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim...the only physics I ever took was Physics for Idiots (I kid you not) and my abilities at pool and darts improved dramatically. (Being a lefty, people assume I'm really bad at games requiring any kind of hand-eye coordination. Usually, they're right.) I am in awe of those of you to whom sciencific concepts come easily.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 5:44 PM | Report abuse

All right, where is my secret decoder ring, dagnabit. I'm sure I sent in my application ages ago.

Mudge, I remember listening to that song while ironing dish towels. With laundered-in starch. Mothers used to make teenagers do these things. The young females of the family carefully embroidered cutesy little teapots and fruit with smiley faces on those towels.

We also had Sunday dish towels. The Sunday dish towels were noted by a swankier embroidery on them done by mothers and aunts.

I feel so old I'd better go lie down. Sara, and anyone else younger, you have no idea how lucky you are.

Posted by: dr | June 20, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

" those of you to whom sciencific concepts come easily"

Who said they come easily? There's a reason I fritter away so much time here. It's to avoid the gnawing fear that I'm really an inadequate doofus with no aptitude for this stuff at all. It's a pretty common fear in the sciences.

Science is a mentally brutal discipline. Every concept that you face in life is measured by the profoundly negative standard "what's wrong with my understanding of this situation?" It's very satisfying when you come to the conclusion that you understand what's going on around you. It's even more satisfying when you realize that you're the first one to get it right. But then you become an obnoxious prig, because you have to establish your priority by sharing your insight with people who probably, for the most part, don't give a hoot. And so we come back to the experience of deep-seated self-loathing.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I've gotta say that I think this is one of the best-written Kits of all time. I just love reading it over and over. This should be part of The History of Washingtonpost.com.

I want to pick out some examples, but then I would be pasting the entire Kit here and that'd be pretty stupid.

I'm just saying.

Posted by: TBG | June 20, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I listened to Linda's little ditty and I feel much better now.

Posted by: dr | June 20, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

That sounds an awful lot like parenthood, except for the part of understanding what's going on around you. My take on what was going on around me usually involved a felony.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the genesis of washingtonpost.com, I present to you this sentence fragment:

>... in his hand-written memo, sparked after attending an Apple-organized conference in Hakone, Japan...

What are the chances Bob Kaiser would have been similarly inspired at a Microsoft conference?

Posted by: TBG | June 20, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I love the term fritter away. It's right up there with lollygagging. Definitely a science term.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The Schemer claims he's replacing the photo any day now with a Richard Thompson cartoon. I hope so. That's the same pic they've been running for 7 years. And, uh, they ain't been kind.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 20, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

So very sorry. Didn't think you'd read the ENTIRE boodle. (Can everyone say Evelyn Wood?) On the up side...Eddie Haskel always had a girl who thought he was the cat's meow.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

TBG, in the PC alternate universe that sentence would have read:... in his hand-written suicide note (relating to a fortunately unsuccessful attempt), sparked after attending an Microsoft-organized conference ...

LiT, I liked "gnawing fear that I'm really an inadequate doofus" since that's something we can all share with scientists (sometimes replacing "gnawing fear" with "realization").

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a question for Joel: you mention, in your Excellent Kit, that the mornings once were for reading the paper. Also, that the original concept of Rough Draft was to react to the morning news. Which morning news is that? Did you wait to see what came out in the printed Post? Was there an internal proof-sheet version? Did you pass around copies (dittos, even, since these were the Olden Days) of your proudest bits of prose, hoping the other kids would like it enough to read it? Was there a headline news service in the newsroom? "These are today's stories of which the editors are justifiably Proud!" I'm just wondering how much ahead of us hoi-polloi you Posties get to be -- seconds, minutes, hours, years?

The conspiracy-theorists would imagine that there's a chart of news events for the next 5 years in a secret windowless room of the Post.Commissariat. Makes it easy to come up with a reaction to news if you get to make it up yourself. "I'd like to make a comment upon the coarsening of political discourse -- you got a story to go with that?" Draft story skeletons already are written, waiting only to be fleshed out with current colorful detail ("The Pope unexpectedly [hah!] decided to visit Paraguay today" + additional detail = "wearing a sweater reminiscent of a popular politician's style"). Be careful not to print articles bylined by reporters long-since dead or not yet hired, until the bylines have been corrected.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Funny SoC. I'm not inadequate at being a doofus. That's one of the few things I have down to a science.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

>Draft story skeletons already are written, waiting only to be fleshed out with current colorful detail.

ScienceTim.. I think that's exactly what people think happens at places like NASA and other science-type hangouts.

Posted by: TBG | June 20, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I managed to get brutally excoriated by Jobst Brandt, author of "The Bicycle Wheel" on a Usenet group about bicycles. It was very sobering and helped to instill a profound mistrust of my own cleverness. It inspired me to consider whether physicists' explanations of daily life are in any way correct. We have our own set of cherished myths -- in that case, it was the myth that bicycles are stabilized and steered by conservation of angular momentum. Ultimately, I had to experiment -- I drilled a hole through the headset of a cheap bicycle, put a bolt through it so that the bicycle could not be steered, and tried to ride it. Mr. Brandt was right, and I was wrong -- angular momentum does not stabilize bicycles.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, you guys. Such gloomy thinkers. First, you think Fox/WashTimes/Limbaugh are anything new? Trashy newspapers and ideological fruit baskets have been with us since the invention of moveable type got co-opted into printer the first newspapers in the 1740s. (See? I did stay awake in History of Journalism class, and remember John Peter Zenger, the Penna. Gazette, The Yellow Kid (q.v.), Hearst, Pulitzer (the guy, not the award).

It's all well and good for everyone here to have their own opinions about stuff, but sometimes you need background information and the "long view" of things to have a, shall we say, more informed opinion. None of this crap is new--just the transmission mechanism and the demographic numbers. The rest is --yawn -- old hat. You think Tony Snow or Scott McClellan are some sort of new phenom? Pshaw.

As for statements like "print journalism is dead" and/or "mainstream journalism is dead," that's just plain hyperbolic crap. Declining, dying, circling the drain, in transition, whatever, if that's your opinion, or just simply changing somewhat(which is mine). But dead? Look up "dead" in the dictionary. It ain't dead until it has ceased to exist, so be careful of the exaggerated language.

The simple fact is, society is unable to operate without some sort of news. Even the most perverted and twisted of modern totalitarian states need ways of communicating stuff, even if it's just weather forecasts and sports scores. So the only thing to quibble about are the mechanisms and the issues pertaining to national and international news.

When PC computers were first invented in the 1980s, "everyone" said we were moving to a paperless society. Have you been in a bookstore lately? One-third of the space in any Borders or Waldenbooks is books about the wonderful paperless computers. People need to look around and do some reality-testing. Paper ain't going away.
Paper in one form or another is nearly 3,000 years old. You think it's gonna die now? Pshaw. Harrumph.

Anyway, there will always be some sort of newspapers, because as a breed we newspaper types are too ornery to die. And there will always be a pressing need to find something to wrap fish in.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I have tried to write draft papers, devoid of fact, that await actual data to fill in the details and pick which conclusions to use. It doesn't work very well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 20, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim - I believed in the importance of angular momentum to bicycle stablity until I went to college. My enlightenment had nothing to do with the classes. Rather, we had an alarming number of unicycles. Mess around with one of them awhile and the ugly truth becomes clear.
Eventually, though, I healed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The Baileys has kicked in, the muscle in my neck/shoulder that usually could be used to tie ships to port has loosened up a bit, and the guy in the room next door has finally turned off the television (I think his futbol team lost, as there were no gunshots). It's very late here; time for me to get some shut-eye. Goodnight all. See you in the funny pages.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 20, 2006 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I missed who said print or newspapers or mainstream journalism are dead or dying, and I'm too lazy to scroll back. Some particular outlets have indeed died or are less vigorous than in the past (local radio and television news, for example). My point is that the proliferation of sources makes a common understanding of "facts" more difficult.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 20, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

>My point is that the proliferation of sources makes a common understanding of "facts" more difficult.

So true. I loved Google News before it started including Blogs (sorry Joel).

Posted by: TBG | June 20, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Mike Brooks at 2:47.

Some news outlets die, and others are born. Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post are gone or nearly so, and now we have Slate. So? What's changed? TV Guide? Goin' strong. Nat'l Geographic, with articles by that Achen-whats-his-name dude, still going strong and remarkably little change in 80 years, and STILL got the yellow cover.

Absolutely agree with your point about proliferation making things (much more) difficult--you always have that difficulty with too many choices and fractured markets and niche markets. But that's way different from thinking that mass communications in general is either dying or dead. Changing, distorting, altering, sure, no doubt. Decreasing or dying? No way. As population grows, quantity of communication grows. The only question is how. Mass comm. will die only when culture and society as a whole die. And if that happens, the role of news is utterly moot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Gotta run for the bus.

I seem to remember how in the 1950s TV was going to kill radio. Been a long slow death, I guess.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

TV was going to kill the movies, too.

Posted by: nellie | June 20, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree, and also think the problem that some people mentioned about power vs. government will not be as big as feared. In fact, as more media get consolidated as transnationals there will be LESS power for governments over information control. Time was when a government might be able to convince an editorial board to not report/delay a story for certain national interests.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

That could be, SonofCarl. I was thinking less of government control of the news than of media becoming too lazy or timid to try to hold government accountable.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 20, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and some people said broadsheets would fade away.

Wait a minute.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, I have just been told that some consider modern newspapers "broadsheets," so perhaps they really are immortal.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

kt, that's quite possible at the same time, isn't it? A large transnational media corporation might very well have the power to subvert censorship, but view its own interests for continued access trumping a responsibility to challenge a government line. Isn't that what is claimed to have happened with CNN in Iraq pre-war?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of alpha males of the Boodle, where's bc?

And to "frittering away" and "lollygagging" I would add "wool gathering."

Posted by: Achenfan | June 20, 2006 7:51 PM | Report abuse

A-fan, bc said that he was at the beach this week with his family IIRC.

Do you have wool gathering on your mind from being in Oz?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 20, 2006 7:55 PM | Report abuse

>TV was going to kill the movies, too.

For me it certainly has. There are some people who just like to go out to the theater, but if you have the money and space you can have a very nice home theater. I haven't been to a real theater in years, and I'm a huge movie fan.

Point a $800 projector at a blank wall, pop $300 for a surround sound system and you're in. You can stop the movie for a break, make any kind of foodstuffs or beverage, and skip the rude public which in my area often includes brawls/knife fights in the lobby and stolen cars (no longer) in the parking lot.

And this is in the suburbs.

Between the cost of the ticket and your popcorn you've already covered the price of OWNING the movie on DVD.

You want immersive? A 12 ft. throw on my projector gives a 98 inch image on the wall in a 12x15 ft room. In summer I take it outside and have my own drive-in, just hang a 9x12 ft drop cloth on the side of the house.

So it can happen, and it will to some extent happen with print newpapers too. I buy one once in awhile for local ads, but I can get all the news I want on the web. I can change the font to suit me, and when I was commuting on the train I used to download sites and read on my PDA. Not optimal, but it worked and your hands aren't filthy when you're done.

What they need to do is come up with a better way of making money in the process. Ads can be blocked, subscriptions are a little heavy-handed when you go to more than one place often. It has to either be pretty cheap subscription or some kind of micro-payment setup if you're someone that doesn't read that outlet often.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the future will hold an increasing bifurcation between pixels and pulp. Pixels will deliver instantaneous news and host interactive discussions of the same. Pulp will yield more scholarly and contemplative pieces that are suitable for more leisurely consumption in whatever room of the house strikes one's fancy. Plus it will facilitate Sudoko

For many reasons, including issues of public safety, I suspect this blog will continue to be unique.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 20, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that little ditty brought a tear to my eye... or maybe it's the wine.
--
Don't forget "Video Killed the Radio Star." Or not.

We really can't predict what each new medium will morph into but damn, it's good for those of us with the attention span of a gnat!

Posted by: Pixel | June 20, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Given Joel's link and the "Kaiser memo," does anyone know when the NYT went electronic? The story to which Joel linked gives the WaPo history. 1992--gigantic leaps forward in information technology had already been made in Silicon Valley. But for a behemoth like the Post to take the leap...

Somewhere in the deep recess of some cardboard storage box or on my bookshelf--if I take the time, I may have answers to the questions I pose. But when was Time Warner (IIRC) experimenting with Internet connectivity and information delivery on a trial/limited basis in Florida? Joel was down that way, he ought to know. Videotext has indeed come a very long way.

In '88 or '89, I had traveled to a wrap-up meeting of the California effort to nab the federal Superconductor Supercollider. State senator and governor-wannabe John Garamendi had been its been leading proponent and cheerleader. That evening, the public had finally been given a (fiscally conservative) budgetary breakdown of the cost of lobbying for the SSC to be located in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Following the presentation, I recall handing Garamendi's aide my business card for Supercomputer Systems, Inc. He looked up and asked, "What's this line of funny text on the bottom?

"My Internet address, " I replied.

About 16 years ago.

So, I'm curious where the WaPo decision to go electronic fits in the greater history of this type of delivery system for news, as far as major papers with substantial circulation numbers?

Heck, I'm still curious about Robert Kaiser himself. He graduated Loomis Chaffee in '60, joined the Post in '63, and, not too much later, was posted to London. Is it because his dad was there? Was Robert Kaiser's father part of the diplomatic corps under the Truman administration? Did Kaiser complete college in just three years?

Posted by: Loomis | June 20, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, if I worked in physics or such an related field, I'd feel incompetent ALL the time. Fortunately in biology there are more opportunities (and methods) to make discoveries than with limited telescope time every night. Not that I do hands on research anyhow!

I'm glad to know it's not just me that feels that kind of anxiety when trying to pin rules on the universe.


Posted by: Wilbrod | June 20, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Omni, et al., a carry-over from yesterday's Kit.

I have a non-Intel mini (PowerPC) and it runs Linux apps without recompiling just fine (launching from command-line.) So, if the apps you need are already ported to Linux, they may work under MacOS. The sales goons* in the Mac store will not answer this question with confidence, trust me.

You can mail me at katt at obscure dot org if you have questions.

-Pix

*No offense; I work in a sales org.

Posted by: Pixels & Pulp | June 20, 2006 9:53 PM | Report abuse

hey Joel... we'd miss you if you were gone :) so don't leave just yet.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | June 20, 2006 10:09 PM | Report abuse

>So, if the apps you need are already ported to Linux, they may work under MacOS.

It needs to be compiled for the PPC or Intel chip to just run, but it's pretty common to find both. Also they supply the basic development tools for free.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Padouk makes an excellent point. There will always be room for newspapers. They are a good medium for analysis and investigative journalism -- imagine Woodstein putting together the Watergate story for the Net's real-time sensibility. Someone has already mentioned the superiority of comics in print. Most important, while it is possible to do the crossword puzzle online, it just isn't nearly as satisfying.

ScienceTim, disciplines like music also generate few PBKs -- too many hours taken up with practice and performance.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 20, 2006 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, the mention of Linux by Pixels & Pulp leads me to think the position of print media to electronic is sort of like the position of Microsoft to Linux.

A tightly-controlled and paid-for subscription model usurped by a community-driven "free" access model made possible by a change in technology. Oops.

The rules change.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Feeling the scientific euphoria of successfully collecting a 1000-lb fossil whale skull today (with the help of 8 other people)!

Tomorrow, I have to start writing a scientific paper on some fossil land mammals, and can go back to feeling like a complete imbecile who shouldn't be trusted with anything as dangerous as a pencil.

Plus waiting on the peer reviews of a manuscript to come back, to see how my latest masterpiece of scientific literature and insight has been shredded by some "peer" (if it isn't rejected outright).

For me, the imbecilic days are much more numerous.

Posted by: Dooley | June 20, 2006 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and gents, don't know where you've been for the last 90 minutes, but you can write in your diary that the time slot from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST on June 20 marked the moment of collapse of the Bush administration. The Frontline program "The Dark Side" was more devastating than I had ever imagined it could be, and I must have read about six stories about it yesterday and today--Froomkin, Barton Gelman's Style Section book review, etc.

This was like the Alexander Butterfield revelation that Nixon had taped his conversations, or John Dean's cancer-on-the-presidency testimony.

I think there's going to be so much buzz in the next 48 hours, and echoed over the weekend in the Outlook-type sections all across the country, that we're going to see a 5-point drop in Bush's approval ratings and/or drop in war support. If anybody polls Cheney's approval ratings, he (and Rumsfeld) may go into single digits. And I'd predict that Cheney's resignation due to health reasons before the end of 2007 are virtually assured. Ditto Rummy. Both guys are toast.

Now I'm not saying this is all going to happen tonight, or this week, or this month, or this year. It's going to take time to implode, just like it took Watergate a long time to implode. But that show marked a turning point.

It isn't that the show made any claims we haven't heard before; all have been made ad nauseum. The difference was, this time it was the participants themselves--mainly on the CIA side of the aisle--who were making the allegations. The thesis is that Cheney and Rumsfeld were and still are running the war, and that Bush is their tool. In short, it isn't Bush's war, it is Cheney's war, and it isn't Bush who's been lying and twisting the evidence, it is Cheney. It posits an internal battle bween Cheney and Rummy on the one hadn, and the CIA in the person of George Tenet and to a lesser extent Colin Powell, on the other. And that Cheney/Rummy won the war, and that Tenet finally caved, and after he caved he lied to his staunchest ally, Powell, and to some extent to Bush, with the "slam dunk" assertions.

The piece is essentially the CIA's revenge on Cheney and Rumsfeld, and that'
s what makes it fatal. It isn't Froomkin, or Howard Dean, or "liberals" or whomever making claims. It is the CIA people themselves denying virtually ever "pillar" of the Cheney thesis ---and they are completely believable and credible. I've never seen anything like it. We just witnessed a group of retired CIA officials character-assassinate a sitting vice president of the United States.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 11:05 PM | Report abuse

FYI, bc is on vacation until the 24th. He'll probably pop in here Sunday or Monday.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 20, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Go Dooley!

>Ladies and gents, don't know where you've been for the last 90 minutes

Mudge, watching season 2 of The Time Tunnel. The one about Machiavelli.

Funny, huh?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 20, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Ok, Mudge, you have convinced me to tape over the French Open final (Federer losing to Nadal) which I haven't watched yet...Taping it so my dear husband can watch The Dark Side at his leisure.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 21, 2006 12:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm just lucky that I did a stack of dishes this afternoon and was listening to NPR, where I heard a segment/promo with the producer of the PBS show this evening that Mudge alluded to, "The Dark Side."

The radio tease was enough to commit me to watching the 90-minute broadcast--powerful programming and makes me want to go to the PBS website/link for additional footage of the various interviews. You can also view the program there if you missed it. The show also kindled my desire to either peruse at some length or buy Suskind's book.

I have to agreed wholeheartedly with the last sentence of Mudge's review of the 90-minute broadcast: "I've never seen anything like it. We just witnessed a group of retired CIA officials character-assassinate a sitting vice president of the United States."

Shall we take wagers on the time for the material to implode with the American public?

In the same NPR program that I listened to, "The World," NPR discussed the U.S. Embassy memo about living conditions in Baghdad for workers who are employed in the Green Zone and the fact that the Washington Post broke the story about the leaked memo over the weekend--and that I mentioned in the Boodle. So, 72 hours on that one.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I also think Condi is pretty badly clobbered in the telling of the story, as well.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 12:24 AM | Report abuse

The story of the 10th anniversary of washingtonpost.com is beginning to hit a little bit closer to home because the piece that Joel linked to mentions Mary Lou Fulton, managing editor of wapo.com at the time and now in charge of audience development with the Bakersfield Californian, my hometown paper.

The paper was family owned and operated for decades, first by Alfred Harrel, and then by his descendants, brothers Don and Ted Fritts. Don inherited the Huntington's disease gene and died just last month. An excerpt written by Robert Price of the Californian:

http://www.hdfoundation.org/news/Fritts-05042006a.php

Fritts was formally diagnosed in 1981, but as he told his longtime secretary, Fay Walters, he knew he'd had Huntington's since he was 31. "He was able to effectively hide it until (about) 1977," said Walters, who worked as Fritts' administrative assistant from 1975 to 1994.

Dr. John Mazziotta, a neurologist at the UCLA School of Medicine and director of its brain-mapping division, told The Californian in 2000 that Fritts was already, in all likelihood, the longest-surviving diagnosed Huntington's disease patient in the world -- and certainly the longest-surviving HD patient he had ever treated.
***

Shortly after I was diagnosed with my very rare genetic disorder, I had written Nancy Wexler at the Huntington's Disease Foundation and received communiques from her organization, which is how I learned about the death of Ted Fritts, Don's brother, from AIDS, since he had been involved with Wexler's group.

The "[Ted] Fritts mansion" was also just four blocks from my childhood home and just a block from the elementary school that I attended. We were very aware of the owner of his house and his prominent status in the community.

In another piece by Price, he describes the home:

Fritts was The Californian's editor and co-owner -- and a party host of Gatsby-like proportions. His mansion at the corner of Oleander Avenue and Chester Lane in Bakersfield, nestled among many of the city's most historic homes, was the scene of frequent social events.

According to people close to Fritts at the time, then-Gov. Jerry Brown was known to have visited; so had then-Sen. Alan Cranston, presidential daughter Maureen Reagan and Randolph Duke, the clothing designer. Steve Perry and his mates from the rock band Journey stopped by. Actress Dyan Cannon once visited, using the occasion to pitch a movie project. Actress Sally Kellerman and columnist Ann Landers, who knew Fritts through the Hereditary Disease Foundation, were guests on separate occasions. Singer Barry Manilow showed up.

So did local politicians.
***

Until I Googled the Fritts tonight, I had no idea that Ted Fritts was a member of "The Lords of Bakersfield," described by Price:

For more than a generation, Bakersfield was run by a cadre of men who led double lives. To the public these men were members of the community's most visible institutions, its justice system and the media.

But in truth, according to Lords lore, these men -- a sprinkling of county executives, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, even the newspaper's publisher -- were part of a loose-knit, secretive network.

http://www.inoohr.com/articles/homopedo/lordsofbakersfield.htm

Tommy Tarver, who was mentioned in the series, and who who died from his wounds, was in my high school graduating class.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Getting ready to go out the door, and thought I would pop quickly. Rough day yesterday, but hopefully better today. VBS going well. RD, I know you're proud. Joel, "they aint been kind", I laughed when I read that. I don't take good pictures, and I'm sure it the thing that's in front of the camera, me. It's so very hot here. One cannot be out after lunch. I mean smoking. Have to keep the kids in the apartment, too hot to go out. And that's not good. We had a screaming match yesterday. Finally got outside about eight o'clock. I know you know this, but it bears repeating, God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 21, 2006 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, SonofCarl -- I've been boodle skimming and am having trouble keeping up.
Not doing too much wool gathering, either -- so far the only sheep I've seen was a dead one on the side of the road. (Haven't seen any live kangaroos yet, either.)

The weather has been perfect for going to the movies. Today I saw "Colour Me Kubrick," starring John Malkovich, based on a "true-ish" story about a disturbed individual who pretended to be Stanley Kubrick. Fantastic; absolutely fantastic. (I heart John Malkovich.) A few days ago I saw a film from New Zealand starring Anthony Hopkins, called "The World's Fastest Indian," also based on a true story, and before I leave for Hong Kong I hope to see the Australian film "Ten Canoes."

Ah, this is the life. (Winter in Canberra is cold -- and boring.)

Posted by: Achenfan | June 21, 2006 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I love it when my daughter reads me the comics on Sunday and the adds entertain my wife for hours. Print is not going extinct any time soon. As far as the electronic versions of news services go, I chose the WashPost soley because of the "Printer-Friendly" link. I wunder if anyone else uses that link to view articles, or is it just there for blind folks?

Posted by: Pat | June 21, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Hi Achenfan. I also heart (What did you say the name was? Malkovich?") and Kubrick; that does sound like a great film. I finally saw kurosawaguy's beloved Rashomon. Have you seen it? Stunning, absolutely stunning.

Mother taught us to read using the Sunday newspaper comic strips. Daddy made kits out of newspapers. I heart newspapers even though they do get my fingers all inky.

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Here's a link to the Frontline program Mudge mentioned:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darkside/

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Daddy made KITES (not kits) out of newspapers. I yam beneath contempt.

Joel, we'd miss you, terribly. In the mid-80s I got a second job, late nights, typing ads for the classified section of the Tallahassee Democrat. The ads were boring, but the atmosphere was exhilirating! Reporters, wearing those funky visors/caps, sleeves rolled up, slurping coffee, smoking stogies, yelling across the room "COPY! COPY!"

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The Frontline episode was excellent.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Shales on Rather:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/20/AR2006062001637.html

The guy had an incredible career, it's a shame it ends disputatiously. I heard his new company is going to be called something like "News and Guts."

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

i usually only lurk in the daytime (and if i start posting too much, tell me to go work on my dissertation - and don't be nice about it).

but i saw on the pbs site that there's a wapo online chat today with michael kirk, producer of "the dark side" and thought some of you might want to catch it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/06/12/DI2006061201204.html

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 21, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't here yesterday and just read Loomis' and Mudge's earlier posts on Frontline. The Dark Side will rerun Thursday in my area; check out Joel's link to see when it will rerun in your neck of the woods.

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

i forgot to say that the online chat is at 11am.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 21, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Boss, I continue to idolize anyone who can use "disputatiously" is a sentence and still have it flow.

Posted by: Dooley | June 21, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"Disputatiously"

Good one, Joel.

I have the Frontline show recorded and am now wishing I had watched it last night but I was certain I'd fall asleep and miss something important.

I have been cutting stuff out of the Post to mail to my parents, who are pro-everything-Republican. This batch includes the Magazine with the "Fatal Inaction" story, along with the American Embassy in Baghdad's memo from Sunday's paper, and the review of Suskind's book, which sounds like he had the same sources as Frontline.

The Magazine piece really upset and infuriated me. I'm hoping that the (former) Bush-supporting Texas Republican father's change of heart might sway my fingers-in-her-ears mother. How much longer can people just sing "La La La La La, I can't hear you!"?

(BTW, it was I posting as Pixels & Pulp, in case anyone didn't get that.)

Posted by: Pixel | June 21, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else seeing teeny tiny print once I click on this kit and boodle or is it just me?

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Ahh posting fixed it.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick check of an old, 1982 textbook by McGraw-Hill, "Teletext and Videotex in the United States" shows various entities involved at that time in videotex (informtion delivery) trials and services:

QUBE--provider of various info services
The Source-- " " " " "
CompuServe--Publishers, others
Comp-U-Star--Private corporation
BISON--Publishers
OCLC--Library bank, others
Green Thumb--Various
Dow Jones--Publisher
EIS--Telco
Viewtron--Various
INDAX--Various
Times Mirror--Various
CBS/AT&T--Publisher
Continental Telephone--Various
Express Information--Bank, others

At the time:
A consortium of 13 newspapers and the Associated Press had launched a test of electronically delivered news over CompuServe. While this test is aimed initially at home computer users, other teletext and videotex users could easily follow. Several large U.S. newspaper companies have begun developing their role as information providers, either through participating or sponsoring their own tests (e.g., Knight-Ridder, Times Mirror, and the Dallas Morning News).

Was Robert Kaiser's move/memo really so prescient?

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I hope you are right in your prediction of 11:05 last night, Mudge. My fear is that the Dark Side becomes just another in the increasing list of times when insiders with credibility (e.g., Richard Clarke) have made damning assertions that appear to be mighty waves, only to have them crash on the shoals of callow media spin and public indifference.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 21, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, you don't write THAT bad... just consider it a ritual of hazing to fit their format and be non-english enough for international scientists to understand.

Congs on a whale of a discovery. Drop the name of the journals you've published in and I'll give you a look-up.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 21, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The Lords of Bakersfield?

Bakersfield, from what a friend tells me, is a really red-neck town and anti-diversity in all forms. It's a bible belt town in CA.
She was miserable there. Whether they were in power or not, any gay person'd have to be really closeted.


Posted by: Wilbrod | June 21, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, Lindaloo did say "Bakersfield was run by a cadre of men who led double lives."

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Can anybody here tell me what are the codes of conduct for military personnel using government property to spread their political opinions to strangers?

A nutty marine has been forwarding some stuff about how peace activists are undermining the military because bam bam you can't really support the military if you don't think their mission is honorable and you don't support the present president, etc.

If she was a civil service employee we all know she'd be in DEEP trouble for that. Civil service employees aren't allowed to practice blatantly political speech, certainly not on government property. I don't know the rules for military employees, but I was rather offended because I know plenty of marines who would disagree with her perspective, and I felt she was attempting PR release for the marines that was way too political.

What's next, arguing for the logic of a military-backed coup to keep Bush in power? I was really bothered by this even though her language was a cut above our recent "friends."

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 21, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh yes... My friend couldn't wait to leave Bakersfield and she's not even gay.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 21, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, try Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Jeffersoniana, or Virginia Museum of Natural History Memoirs.

Posted by: Dooley | June 21, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Pixel, I was kind of wondering if "Pixels & Pulp" wasn't the name of a 60s or 70s rock duo I'd missed, kinda like Mickey & Sylvia, Peaches & Herb, Mitch & Mickey (viz. "A Mighty Wind" and admittedly somewhat obscure), Dick and DeeDee, etc.

Dooley, that ancient whale skull isn't the one that was found in the bank of the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland about three years ago, was it? (I happen to know a lot about that one, is why I ask.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you weren't there when the whale was slain, I hope?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 21, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Print newspapers serve as a buffer against ideological polarization. For when presented with a bunch of glowing hyperlinks, it is tempting to click only upon those likely to support a comfortingly familiar point of view. When the full articles are brazenly staring at you from a large sheet of newsprint, however, it is more likely that you will actually read all of them, even if you suspect they will put you in a foul mood.

Plus, a newspaper costs money. Since you've paid for all those words, some might find it sinfully wasteful not to read each and every one.

But perhaps that last bit is just me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod,
Don't get me started. I think Robert Price's series of articles, to which I linked, in which he exposes the many men who were homosexual and in high places in Bakersfield's upper professional eschelons, the crimes they committed with underage boys and particularly the fact that none of these prominent men was prosecuted says it all.

Beach Park, the pick-up spot along the Kern River, mentioned in Price's work, wasn't but three or four miles from our home. The Greyhound Bus Depot, where other pick-ups occurred, was downtown and not too far from our family home either, as was the building that housed the operations and presses of the Bakersfield Californian. Ted Fritts, of the publishing family, was literally a member of our neighborhhod, but of a much higher social class and income.

My close friend Marie tried to tell e to Tommy Tarver'd death, and I looked him up in my high school senior yearbook last night, quite late, but I had no idea of the extenuating circumstances and how he died so gruesomely.

Bible-belt, sure. Just look at how Brock Thoene, my bright high school boyfriend, evolved, and the writing career he has established with his wife. Brock certainly wasn't that interested in the Christian evangelical lifestyle when I dated him. Ditto with Carl Gifford, my high school biology class partner, whose dad was first cousin to Frank Gifford. To know the Giffords is to know the history of the twins, Sheldon and Weldon. Just look at Frank Gifford's book about his football career and, by Frank's own admission, how holy-roller that family was. It was the reason I couldn't get truly serious with Carl after our respective divorces.

Robert Kaiser is the assistant op-ed page editor here at the San Antonio Express-News. We met for a beer to talk over old times. He relayed that his father was liberal and once a fellow employee at the Bakersfield Californian threatened his father with a pair of scissors. Or just look how rough the town was in Earl Warren's day.

Like all towns, we had a little bit of everything--some great families, some great schools, access to the coastal beaches and the Sierra Nevada. And poverty, and ignorance, and lots of low-paying jobs for men either in ag, in the oilfields, or on the railroads, and crimes and secrets, as the coverage of the Fritts publishing family exposes.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, I just looked at the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. I can't BELIEVE we missed having you here when the kit related to whales!

Incidentally, I just went back to that boodle and someone has posted something in Russian at the very end.

Lords of Bakersfield: who knew? Hmmm. Is "walk the streets of Bakersfield" a double entendre?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Pat, in answer to your question, I print out anything that I can't read in a reasonably short period, but would like to. For example, Achenbach's The Tempest and Curmudgeon's history of signal flags.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Robert Seltzer is in Bakersfield as assistant op-ed page editor, not Kaiser. My bad for having Kaiser-on-the-brain.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Seltzer is in San Antonio curently. Aaaccckkk! Coooffffeeeeee, please!

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

And Mudge, how about the King and Queen of Cajun DooWop, DALE & GRACE:

This Time I'm Leavin' It Up To You-ooh-ooh
You decide what you're gonna do
Now do you want my lo-o-ove?
Or are we through?

That's why I'm leaving it up to you-ooh-ooh
You decide what you're gonna do
Now do you want my lo-o-ove?
Or are we through?

I've got my heart in my hand
I-I-I I don't understand
What have I, what have I done wrong?
You know I even worship the ground that you walk on

That's why I'm leavin' it up to you-ooh-ooh
You decide what you're gonna do
Now do you want my lo-o-ove?
Or are we through?

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, how do you know about the St. Marys whale? That one was collected by my friend Stephen Godfrey at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, and is on exhibit there now (shameless plug--for those of you in the DC area, Calvert Marine Museum is well worth the drive--paleontology and maritime history).

The whale had been exposed by erosion caused by Hurricane Isabel (at that time I was in Westmoreland County collecting a fossil sea turtle that had been exposed by the same storm). Stephen had the advantage of Pax River NAS sending a helicopter to lift that whale; I just have to recruit whatever idle hands I can find, and use brute force and stubborness to move specimens.

The one I just collected was only discovered last month, at a quarry in Caroline County (south of Fredericksburg) that we've been excavating for the last 15 years or so. It has produced several thousand fossils, including more than a dozen whale skulls, over that time.

Posted by: Dooley | June 21, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The internet and blogging have certainly heralded a revolution in journalism and news management. And that is a good thing.

As a freelance writer whose views are sometimes not conducive to the mainstream media, I have had many contributions, including letters to the editor, spiked in the past by several publications.

Now I just publish on my blog or go to the relevant organ's blog, if they have one. I have yet to figure out a surefire way to earn a living from it, though.

Can I interest the Post in syndicating my blog. Health warning: it may be too harsh for some American sensibilities.

http://www.ebeefs.com

Posted by: Lahai J Samboma | June 21, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I don't really know if I had anything to do with killing that whale way back then or not. Gotta gimme some sort of time frame, approximate year or geologic period, etc. But I doubt I'm THAT old.

Er...it didn't have gray hair, did it?

Quick, somebody get Loomis a triple mocha latte expresso con carne from Carbucks! (Sorry if I messed that up--I don't speak Columbian coffetano very well.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm so extremely excited. If I weren't mired in this swamp I'd sneak off and go home. I can hardly wait till this work day is over....

Posted by: omni | June 21, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone claimed "detestable putrescence" as a Boodle handle? I kind of like it. I wish I were clever enought to insinuate it into a paragraph.

Posted by: CowTown | June 21, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

if you tell me the date of the whale kit, i can tell you what the russian post says (if anyone is interested). although being in the humanities rather than the sciences, i don't necessarily promise a scientifically viable translation.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 21, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2006/05/how_whales_lost_their_legs.html

L.A. lurker, what's your dissertation about?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2006/05/how_whales_lost_their_legs.html

The date was May 24.

L.A. lurker, what's your dissertation about?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Cowtown, go ahead and switch to that handle if you want it. It's kinda long, though, so you probably won't mind if we shorten the diminutive to just Testa-pu.

Tried twice to post a response to Dooley but Moveable Type ate it.

Nope, it ate it again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

SCC: double post. The first time the link didn't look like it would be hyperlinked, and I noted that the date wasn't on it.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Trying again to respond to Dooley: I know about the Pax whale because I copy-edited the story (written by a friend and colleague). I tried to post the link to that story, but I think that's what MT keeps eating.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

An expresso *with meat*?

Al parecer es Mudge un hombre muy culto.

Posted by: Senora Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Oí a señores de Bakersfield como un poco de carne con su café.

(Gracias, Altavista Babel Fish)

Posted by: HijodeCarlos | June 21, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, L.A.! Just wanted to send greetings from another diss-avoidance Achenlurker. I wonder how many of us there are. OK, unplugging the ethernet cable now.

Posted by: bia | June 21, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

bia, you have gone and done it now. You are officially out and once out, you cannot go back. The shop steward will back me up on this.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

hi sonofcarl,

my diss is on russian lit - i'm in slavic.

as it turns out, the russian post is spam-related. it's basically saying that the blog has been a target of spam and that if you email that email, they'll take care of it (which is obviously highly inadvisable). then it says something i can't quite figure out - something about discarded resources.

hey bia, we can form a support group!

well, have to go now. happy boodling day to you all.


Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 21, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

...need help from some sciencey types on this: the term "Ma" means "at time of discovery, doesn't it?" Am also a humanities type, but verge into science details sometimes. Never totally recovered from college geology electives.

Great news about discovery of a complete mammoth fossil north of Casper, Wyoming! NASA funding is supporting the dig to determine age and reasons for climate change; the skeleton is well preserved. The pelvis rib cage and vertebrae are intact.

They are taking people out to the site. Husband and I hope to get out to see it.

It was discovered unders what was to be a
drilling rig platform.

Posted by: Gunde | June 21, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Internecine blogwar, from HuffPo, in the "Obsess Much??" category:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-rost/a-troll-inside-huffingto_b_23387.html

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Gunde, the term "Ma" in effect means "millions of years ago." I'm sure it has some good technical definition, that boils down to "millions of years ago." The oldest known fossil discoveries of known provenance are on the order of 0.0002 Ma (200 years ago), so I wouldn't fret too much about the inaccuracy of stating ages in a relative sense with "Ma", rather than some sort of absolute geologic dating. Heck, the oldest known permanent agricultural settlements are about 0.01 Ma. Our civilization will have to get considerably more mature before the flimsiness of our geological dating becomes a pressing matter of concern.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 21, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

>Internecine blogwar, from HuffPo, in the "Obsess Much??" category:

I have to say the HuffPost hasn't had much appeal to me. Not the first time an immature techie took things into his own hands though.

Just glad it could never happen to our proprietary electronic voting systems.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell me why Dark Side is going to make this administration implode, when nothing else has? I didn't see PBS last night, too tired, but why is this going to be different from anything else that has been presented? I keep thinking when Clinton was in office the fact that he lied had everyone ready to string his neck through the loop, but when that same situation is presented in this administration everyone just says, oh, and moves on. What's different this time, and I really want to know?

I live in what is termed the "Bible belt", and we have more churches here than Carter has liver pills, but it just might be a tad hard to see a lot of good? Let me explain. Last week someone in the community wrote a letter to the editor of the daily paper endorsing abortion. This person not only wrote the letter once, but twice. And this was a person that called herself a pre-school teacher. Then we had a letter from someone saying that the only Christians in the county were Republicans, and if one happened to be a Democrat, all bets were off. You get my drift here?

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 21, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

They found a mammouth fossil in Wyoming north of Casper? Up just north of Salt Creek? Big fella, maybe 16,000 to 18,000-pounder? Stands about 12 feet at the shoulder? Left tusk kinda bent and gnarly? Lying over on his right side? The one we used to call "Crazy Charlie"? If he's the one I'm thinking of, it took about 10 of us to bring that fella down. Had a temper, too. Got him right before the Blizzard of minus 0000008, so we didn't get all the meat off of him before we had to hunker down in a cave, and by the time the spring thaw came around he was pretty much past the jerky-making stage. (Woolly mammouth jerky is some good eatin' by the way, though there was some liked the smaller, tenderer Jefferson's mammouth better, but I always thought they were a little gamey.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Con leche y azucar granulado. No me gusto mucho mi cafe con carne. Art Carney y Los HoneyMooners, maybe.

Posted by: Senora Loomis | June 21, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I reluctantly agree with Cassandra. People used to say Reagon was Teflon-coated (before they discovered that Teflon at high heat can make you sick) but this administration beats all. Seems like no matter what they do, and who denounces it, people just say "Oh" and move on. I hope I'm wrong. It does remind me of the Doonesbury cartoon during Watergate -- "If he'd just knock over a bank. We'd have him then!" Or something like that. Not that I'm suggesting the president himself has committed a criminal act. As we all know by now, "high crimes and misdemeanors" doesn't begin to encompass the ways in which an elected leader can betray the country's trust.
Whoops, I'll step off my soapbox now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 21, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge,
You have any good recipes lying around for Woolly Mammoth, maybe with oil and gas a la Wyoming? Or Woolly Bully Barbecue sauce? Or Meaty Mastodon ribs? Or Tureen de Tusk?

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"the Blizzard of minus 0000008" -too funny.

I'm not sure what to think about that Huffington thing. Obviously, if there's a techie tampering with their site that's a serious issue. Until you get to that point, however, I was surprised by the degree he went to to "out" his "challenger".

If the person at issue is tampering with the website, shouldn't that have been handled within that organization?

If he isn't, that's a pretty extraordinary effort made to "expose" that person. Most of us here have varying degrees of comfort with actual identity, and everyone seems to respect each other's privacy.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Briefly drifting on-topic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/16/AR2006061601754.html

This is about Jason Leopold, who got the "scoop" that Rove had been indicted in the Plame affair. Not true, of course. The concluding lines are particularly damning:

"After reading his memoir -- and watching other journalists, such as Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today, crash and burn for making up stories or breaking other rules of newsgathering -- I think there's something else at play here. Leopold is in too many ways a man of his times. These days it is about the reporter, not the story; the actor, not the play; the athlete, not the game. Leopold is a product of a narcissistic culture that has not stopped at journalism's door, a culture facilitated and expanded by the Internet.

"In the end, whatever Jason Leopold's future, he got what he appears to be crying out for: attention."


Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Gunde, ScienceTim is right about Ma. The technical term that Ma stands for is "Mega-annums".

If your in that area, Mammoth Site in Hot Springs SD is worth a visit. A sinkhole preserving something like 30 mammoths, largely complete. They built a museum over the site.

Posted by: Dooley | June 21, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, this is the way it was explained to me. When Clinton was in office, the majority of Congress was Republican and so they had a majority vote to try to impeach him. The majority of Congress is still Republican, so that's why nothing has been done about the Bush administration. Yet. Maybe there's hope?

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"vsrying degrees of comfort with actual identity" -- has a kind of Sybil-esque tone to it, no? And checking my handy-dandy desk reference, I see SoC is listed as NSA Watchlist member. So your identity is known to many, many people, from travel agents to baggage handlers.

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

make that varying. Duh. Typing on a laptop (as if that's a good excuse)

Posted by: LostInThought | June 21, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

A reasonable question, Cassandra. My view is that all the previous news and info has come out pretty much piecemeal, and usually in print. Richard Clarke is the only one who had extensive "face time" on TV, so that a lot of people could get a look at him and judge his credibility.

In the previous print stories, you had to read about what this, that or the other guy said, and there was the (unavoidable) filter of now seeing the actual person. And the subsequent commentary and analysis, even by serious people, was lengthy and difficult to follow and piece together.

What was different this time, IMHO, were several things:

1) For the first time, we got to see perhaps 10 or 12 different people, talking fairly extensively, and you could judge their credibility directly in a way you can never do in print. (Not always a reliable thing, but the cumulative effect last night was really powerful.) Paul Pillar, David Kay, Gary Berntsen, Col. Wilkerson, GarySchroen (sp.?), Tyler Drumheller, Micahel Scheuer, Mike Malooh, and Clarke again-- these guys are NOT Democrats or flaming liberals, or anti-war, or anything else. And they were insiders. And they were quite impressive.

2) The overall assertion, that it was Cheney and Rumsfeld's war, not Bush's, has always been an open question (at least for me) until last night. Now, I would regard it as pretty definitively shown. I think the big body blow to Bush will be that many of his supporters will now see that he has a bunch of people--starting with Cheney and Rumsfeld--who are loyal not to Bush but to themselves and their own operation, who have been running amok, and have gotten Bush into the mess he's in. That doesn't make Bush the "good guy" or the "innocent" one, nor necessarily the dummy, as many have claimed. But it shows the Emporer has no clothes.

3) It has also always been something of an open question about how much the admin. (Cheney & Rumsfeld) "lied" about the intell, versus how much was self-delusion, how much was cooked and how much was possibly real but just vague or open to interpretation. To some extent, making those distinctions might be somewhat irrelevant, because the bottom line is the intell was just plain wrong. (But for those keeping score, it was fairly easy to see which parts were cooked and which were simply wrong, or planted by Chalaby, or whatever.) And as the intell unravels, you see the collapse of Colin Powell's UN speech, as he learns he's been duped, and finally lied to by his one ally, Tenet. That was a pretty devastating moment to watch. And you watch Tenet "fight the good fight" against these guys, until one day he just caves in. He's not the villain of the story, but very much the Shakespearean/Greek tragedy figure. The difference is rather than reading any of this in print, you see the faces of the men telling the story.

4) There's one section where an organization chart of the White House and OVP (Office of the Vice President) are laid out, and underlined in red are the names of the Cheney loyalists. The thesis is these are people who are loyal to Cheney, not Bush, and they are running the White House and admin. At one point, one of the talking heads say about new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten: "Bolten isn't Bush's man. Bolten is Cheney's man." And when you see it on the screen, it makes the hair on your neck stand up, it's that spooky.

5) I don't think this will affect Dems, liberals, and half the moderates in any way--we've all written these people off long ago; the only change might be to fine-tune various parts of our disdain/contempt/disrespect. I think the people who will be most affected will be the non-NeoCon Conservs and moderate Repubs, who will see that neither they nor their party nor their guy is running the government. It isn't ideological any longer; it isn't about having a Conserv running the White House. It's that the guy in charge isn't in charge. That is intolerable, regardless of one's ideology.

There is also an underlying irony here of almost unbelievable proportions. It is this: The show demonstartes that a lot of Cheney and Rumsfeld's motivation stems from their early days together in the Nixon White House, and their view that Watergate and a lot of subsequent stuff have "chipped away" at the powers of the Executive Branch (i.e., the president), and they want to restore as much of that power as they can. They have accomplished that goal. But here's the irony: they haven't restored the power to the presidency; they've restored it to the vice-presidency. They've taken back the lost power and taken it for themselves, because they can, and because the guy in the Oval Office wouldn't know what to do with it anyway. Somewhere Sophocles and Euripedes are laughing their asses off.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Senora Loomis, no crema fluffitado on that Carbucks?

Posted by: Boodleaire | June 21, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel - I wonder if you saw *all* of the BPH photos? It looks like you really missed out on a great party!

(Is that Al Gore sitting behind Omni?)

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ot_off_topic/detail?.dir=/f029scd&.dnm=d1b1.jpg

Posted by: ot | June 21, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you're forgetting that it wasn't oil and gas back then, just a swamp full of rotting vegetation. (Believe me, if I'd have known back then how valuable rotting jungle compost was eventually going to turn out to be, I'd have bought up thousands of acres of the stuff. Believe me, it was EVERYWHERE, and no real estate people back then wanted any parts of it. It was all caves, caves, caves, plus high ground and warm springs, which were in pretty short supply. So who knew?)

But yeah, if you want some recipes, I'll see what I can dig out of my cookbook (it HAS been a while, you realize...). Basically the trick to mammouth is removing the hair without blanching the meat too much, and then letting it marinate. Took about two days to apply the dry rub, though, and when we (the clan) were done, we were covered in cayenne, which starts to burn your skin and get in your eyes.

I know a guy tried to make beer can mammouth once, but that didn't turn out so well. I tried to convince him we had better kill the mammouth before we made it sit on that beer keg, but would he listen? It wasn't pretty what happened next, but we gave him a nice funeral, and did some cave paintings showing the whole doomed procedure. Kids, don't try this at home.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

BTW, you had to see the look on the face of the mammouth. Just priceless.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

>Hey Joel - I wonder if you saw *all* of the BPH photos?

ot, nicely done!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, most excellent. Especially the details.

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

Wowo, I believe ot is right: That does look an awful lot like Al Gore. One question though: does any one else remember a BEAR at the BPH?

Posted by: omni | June 21, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

You know, that pic of the BPH ought to run on the blog permanently. Meet the Boodlers! (Wasn't that the name of the album that made John and Paul and George and Ringo famous?)

Some good stuff here as Slate celebrates its 10th:

http://www.slate.com/id/2143252/nav/tap2/

And surely you've all read this, which is not for the faint of heart:

http://www.slate.com/id/3487/

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I was suprised yesterday when you signed off saying it was late; are you in Europe?

Regarding my psychological disorder, my original handle was Illegitimate Love-Child of Carl Jung.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

In Europe for a few more weeks, then back in swampy DC for a few. And you? Where are you?

Posted by: LostInThought | June 21, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The locals had a number of mammouth recipes in the old "Northern Exposure". I can't say if a NE cook book has been published though but it should have been. Many an episode revolved around food. Maurice had a banquet where a "fond" served with the roast was the reduction of a whole cow !

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 21, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

LiT, way up here in Alberta.

ot, you are a master craftsman.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I guess SoCarl is better than SoJean-Paul. Simone as biological mother might tend to screw anyone up. Of course, with Carl, there are those pesky dreams.

Alberta...nice place. I've been up to Jasper, Banff, etc. Hiked Mt. Edith Cavell. Springtime at the bottom, big-time BRRR up top.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 21, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Another question about the Mac mini: How does one go about connecting to the internet (My old PC has an internal modem).

Posted by: omni | June 21, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope Cigar will be allowed to rest on his laurels even though he can no longer bring in the big bucks. Horseracing is beautiful to watch, but what a cruel industry. Drugs to mask frailties. Drugs to clot blood instantly so when the tiny veins in the horses' lungs burst from running so hard, the public won't be offended by blood gushing out the horses' noses. Run for your life, indeed.

Posted by: Nani | June 21, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I should clarify: connect via dial-up.

Posted by: omni | June 21, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

omni, you'll need a USB modem ($50 from Apple) to do dial-up with a mini, it doesn't have a built-in modem. Just search for "USB modem" on the Apple site, it'll come right up.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I would venture the thought that there's more than a small chance that Cigar might end up on the menu of some European restaurant. Thoroughbreds are almost useless for almost any other "horse stuff" except running real fast.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 21, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

If you're interested in the world of information, research, data, newspaper journalism, etc., you might want to check out this blog by my friend, and former Herald colleague, Liz Donovan, researcher extraordinaire. She worked here at the Post back in the Watergate era:

http://newsresearch.blogspot.com/

And here she is commenting on the death of Martin Dardis, a key Watergate figure perhaps overlooked by history:

http://newsresearch.blogspot.com/2006/06/another-watergate-myth-dispelled.html

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge for answering my question. You know children really should listen to their fathers. My dad has always from day one said that Bush was not in charge. That it was Cheney's show, and Bush was just someone that these folks could get around. That is so sad. And I really felt sorry for Colin Powell because when he made the case for war at the UN, I said to myself, well perhaps there is something here that we don't know. The people may not have the facts here, and I seriously believed that Colin Powell would not lead us wrong. But then, it was found out that the information was wrong, and my thinking was that Powell was used, and used badly. But also felt there was a deeper thinking in place. This act before the UN and America would also diminish any chance of running for the highest office in the country, when it found that the information submitted was wrong as two left shoes. One kills two birds with one stone. Lies and deceit. I was hurt for Colin Powell. I've always regarded him as an intelligent man with much integrity.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 21, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I mostly agree, but I think he's still got a shot, at least as Veep. Unfortunately, my guess would be that he's fed up with the whole turkey shoot, and is enjoying those things that were back-burnered for so long...home and family.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 21, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for the link about Martin Dardis. I hadn't fed my Watergate obsession for a long time. I'm not surprised he didn't like his portrayal in the Woodstein book; they really did kind of make him out an idiot. I always wondered whether that was fair. After all, the reporters admit he put some of the money trail together, and gave them the information. According to their account, he just wanted something out of it. Didn't everyone.

Thanks Mudge and Cassandra for your comments on why this Frontline story may be different in its effect from previous news reports (print and online, gosh that is sort of on-topic, scary).

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 21, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I agree heartily with Cassandra's assessment of Colin Powell as a man of integrity and intelligence.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

So far I agree with everything everyone's said today.

Thanks again Error Flynn. It's strange that the salesperson didn't mention this when I got the Mac mini.

And the second best news for me so far this week is that I've drained the swamp and am no longer mired.

Posted by: omni | June 21, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I have to chime in with the cynics. All these books and documentaries are connecting the dots, butthe people that want to have seen the picture for a long time. The ones that don't want to see the picture never will.

Cheney's as veep is in charge? How did he get that job? Oh, yeah he gave it to himself. Shocker.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 21, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the links, Boss. You are a shameless self-promoter, and we love you for it.

Posted by: CowTown | June 21, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that needs one big SCC. It's too late in the day.

And Joel got paid to watch a stallion "cover" a mare. What a great euphemism. Not to disparge Joel's way with words, but Tom Wolfe pretty much nailed the definitive horse mating set piece in "A Man In Full."

Posted by: yellojkt | June 21, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

omni, hang on to that drained swamp, or at least make sure you have the mineral rights to it. In a couple of eons that property is going to be a cash cow. (Or cash mastodon, as we used to say back in the day.)

I think Powell is now a Man Without a Party. And after his experience with the Bushies, I'm certain he has no stomach for politics now. He was never a Conserv, and never a NeoCon. He was used and abused, and knows it. The GOP is about to go into an internal ideological pogrom in prep for 2008 the likes of which it has never seen before, and you'll have to have a real fire in the belly to dive into it--and Powell doesn't. The guy was a soldier from Day One, and it was another of those Shakespearean twists that his sense of service and duty made him a Judas goat.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Joel - I loved your horse breeding article. As I am a latecomer to Slate, I missed it first time around. It was like finding one of those missing books of the Bible I've heard tell of.

Well, maybe not quite.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Now that everyone's curiousity is piqued by the Boss' Slate article, here's an interesting fact: Bulls don't "cover" hefers, they "jump" them.

You may continue...

Posted by: CowTown | June 21, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

ot - you are a genius with photo editing! loved the blueberries and sliced tomatoes!

Posted by: mo | June 21, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I understand that one party rules at this time, but what about what the people think? Don't the people count? I see suffering and hard times for people everyday because of high gas prices, and I don't know, it is sort of like a depression that won't go away. It's like if I can just make it one more day, things will get better, yet the next day one is still trying to figure out how to keep the tank full and buy groceries, and deal with that everyday stuff. And these are folks that have jobs. For those without jobs, it's even worse. I worry so much for my father because he lives alone, and theives have taken the county section by section and just break into people's homes and move on to the next section. I mean people will do just anything, and justify it by stating the obvious, which doesn't make it right, but then, what do you do? They steal gas, they steal food. They go in people's houses and take their stuff. It's like a pot that's boiling, you know eventually it going to boil over, and then what?

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 21, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Excellent job, ot. Seems there's always a crowd of rowdies behind the Boodlers.

Posted by: CowTown | June 21, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

mo (and ot), re: blueberries and tomatoes, I didn't even notice that the first time around!

ot, are you accepting new work?; I would like to rewrite my experience in junior high school and some (heavily) edited photos would really help to make me look cool.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

'Powell is now a Man Without a Party'

This is what I like about him. He had avoided the nomination for President when called on by parties because he promised his wife. He only back into public service when his country called. He is a good soldier, the peace loving kind. No matter what one's view on the current war, I think most people agree that the best soldiers are ones who hate war, but will do what their country calls on them to do.

Besides he has that voice thing that just makes me go batty. You know David McCullough, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones. Same kind of tone, same kind of timbre, delivered in a way that just makes us believe.

We need more voices that make us believe.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I feel like such a yutz. I've looked at the BPH pictures a couple of times and only just now noticed the portrait in the background. To quote a far superior source'Jeezy-Peezy'.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Who's the man with the specs and the white hair next to Lonemule and standing above mo?

Like the wall art, specially Twain and 'Bach.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

..oops. getting near closing time for you east coasters. Thanks Science Tim and Dooley for the info. The Wyoming mammoth found--named 'Dee" in honor of the bulldozer operator who alerted somebody there at the site--is described as "dwarfing other mammoths. The center of one of his vertabrae is 9 inches in diameter. Compare that with the 6 inch center of the largest specimen at S. Dakota's Mammoth Site..."

Posted by: Gunde | June 21, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"Dee," huh? Still pretty sure that was Crazy Charlie.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Funny you should mention that, Gunde. Here's an interesting fact: bull mammoths don't "cover" or "jump", they "dwarf".

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

That's true, SonofCarl, but they weren't much for cuddling afterward.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Here's a little challenge for Achenburgers:

Find one of the 36% of Americans who still rate Bush's performance highly. Ask if he/she saw Frontline. Condense the story into a few sentences of your own choosing: "These CIA guys revealed how Cheney and Bush.... Their nickname for Cheney was Edgar, for Edgar Bergen, because he's pulling Bush's strings."

Report the reaction here. This will be a slight anecdotal test of my assumption that many Americans won't be able to agree on "the truth", other than that yeah, Frontline ran that stuff.

Another point raised by Joel: the validation function of the mainstream media. The Leopold story about the Rove indictment was believed by many, or at least spread in the days immediately afterwards, until no one else ran it.

An additional minor example: One of Joel's Florida Gator football players was accused of assault by his girlfriend. A Florida State University Seminole fan website broke the story, but no "established" media confirmed it for a couple of days. FSU fans believed it and that the Gator-loving media were burying it. Gators thought the Seminole people were making it up.

When newspapers finally reported the charge, Gators backtracked--slightly. Now the fight is over what it really means. Think we're polarized politically? Don't get between a Seminole and Gator when either is in high dudgeon.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 21, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, you are bang-on about the Wolfe passage in manninfull. I read that and thought: Oh. So THAT is what it would be like to be a writer. As opposed to this thing that I am. At least my scene was published first.

Well, I dunno about the rest of you folks, but I am feeling mighty solstitial. It's the kind of night where you catch fireflies.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Look at me, I'm Mr. Dee
Impressive in my gigantity
"Dwarfed" 'til dead, now they're mounting my head
Come see!; I'm Mr. Dee

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reminder Joel. I've been planning to stay up late for the solstice. My plan is to stay awake till the sun goes down, and if I am doing ok, till its so dark that I need a light to read.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Omni: I recommend getting into your time machine and hitting fast-forward. What is this dial-up thing of which you speak?

On the reaction to Frontline: Those of us who already "knew" what was going on will either continue to say "A-HA! There's the smoking gun!" or we suffer from "Outrage Fatigue" and can't really get too worked up about it.

Those who think this administration is "noble" and "moral" will say, "La la la la la... PBS, just another arm of the liberal anti-American conspiracy!"

But I really, really hope I'm wrong. I'm going to go watch the recording from last night right now.

Posted by: Pixel | June 21, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

dr what time will it get dark there tonight?

Posted by: dmd | June 21, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Dang Moveable Type ate my comment. How can you people stand it? I'm calling the Schemer.

I was just saying something very pithy about this Vanity Fair whiner Michael Wolff complaining in Slate about how the Slate writers are overachieving smartypants:

http://www.slate.com/id/2143234/

Posted by: Achenbach | June 21, 2006 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel. Really now. I understand it is the Solstice, but come on. The bonfire. The naked dancing. What will the neighbors say?

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I read all of the "why I hate Slate" articles and thought some of them made some decent points. But I still like to read it though. I also think Prudence is kinda hot.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

RD don't laugh but there is a labryinth in the park near me, for the summer and winter solstice a group of people come out dressed in white flowing gowns, tamborines,drums and celebrate the solstice. Watched it one time during my daughters soccer practise, it was quite interesting.

Posted by: dmd | June 21, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Colin Powell missed an opportunity to be an American hero. He still could do it.

He needs to stand up and say, "I was misled and these guys have been lying to all of us."

Throughout US history there's always been a defining moment or person that happened along to "save the day." Just the other day, someone was writing about the Civil War turning when Lincoln put Grant in charge. Turning point.

Powell's got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

American hero.

Posted by: TBG | June 21, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

>I understand it is the Solstice, but come on. The bonfire. The naked dancing. What will the neighbors say?

RD, that's why you need a big backyard on the far side of a farm field. Location location location.

Shame we have to do the bonfire in a chimenea, but just because I'm naked and drunk doesn't mean I'm irresponsible.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

TBG - That's why I became a civil servant. To save the day. To set the Community upon the righteous path of Science and Logic.

So far the results have been more subtle than I had hoped.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Now I need to go water Mr. Stripey. Now that he is "with fruit" he has been really moody.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 21, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I really like Colin Powell, but I think there would always be in the back of peoples minds that perhaps he was aware how shaky the evidence he presented at the UN was but went ahead anyways. It would seem he could have had that turning point moment if he had refused.

Perhaps I am less trusting than most people but I did not find his presentation to the UN that convincing. He seems much smarter than myself and have a difficult time believing he didn't know something was fishy.

Of course I could be totally wrong perhaps he was kept in the dark.

I have a question someone may know leading up to the war their was a UN inspector, American, who was quite vocal that there were not weapons in Iraq. I have heard nothing from him since. Anyone remember him?

Posted by: dmd | June 21, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

dmd, sunrise/sunset timings worldwide:

http://www.sunrisesunset.com/

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks SoC, so sunset in the Edmonton area would be between 10:15 and 10:30, it only lists Calgary. Must be so nice. One of the things I noticed going out west early in spring was the longer days, getting off the plane and it still being light was wonderful. Enjoy!

Posted by: dmd | June 21, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

With a high of 94, summer is definitely incumin here. RD, several of my cherry tomatoes are turning red, so I will be picking them in the next couple of days.

My success as a public servant has been subtle also. As I contemplate my career, here in my last six months, I think my most significant achievement was that I survived. There's something to be said for that, I suppose, but I wish I could point to concrete action that leaves the organization better than I found it.

Posted by: Slyness | June 21, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel, in his last sentence, Wolff seems afraid of a rebuttal, challenging Slate to let him have the last word.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 21, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

dmd, the guy you're thinking of is Scott Ritter. Here's a link to a story about him:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/11.25D.bearak.ritter.htm

I think in the end he was considered to be a flawed advocate for either side, despite the credentials.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 21, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

>I have a question someone may know leading up to the war their was a UN inspector, American, who was quite vocal that there were not weapons in Iraq. I have heard nothing from him since. Anyone remember him?

dmd, maybe Scott Ritter?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Ah, and after the sunset, there is twilight. I figure that I should be able to read till almost 11:30. Ok that would be without my glasses, and really really nose-in-book, but hey, I am trying to set a personal best here.

All bets are off if I fall asleep. Once I fall asleep, they could pretty much steal the house around me, and I would miss it.

Posted by: dr | June 21, 2006 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Good luck dr!

Thanks SoC and Error that is indeed who it was. Flawed or not he was not totally off base.

Posted by: dmd | June 21, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I just think Powell can regain what he lost in credibility if he stands up and does the right thing now.

From Wicked: "The most celebrated are the rehabilitated."

That's the bet Virginia Democrats are taking with Jim Webb vs. George Allen this fall. Keep watching that campaign. Allen's been advertising for weeks. Now his ads show him in jeans, plaid shirt. Trying to look "regular," I guess.

He just looks scared if you ask me.

Posted by: TBG | June 21, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Halfway through the Frontline piece and Very Bad Words are flinging themselves from my mouth to the TV images of Rummy and Dead-Eye Dick. Very, very bad words.

Hey, at least I /was/ a sailor, and came by my salty vocabulary honestly.

Posted by: Pixel | June 21, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, your 6:54 had me (and still has me) chortling and snorting.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 21, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

>Padouk, your 6:54 had me (and still has me) chortling and snorting.

Why do I keep hearing Ray Romano when I think of Mr. Stripey?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 21, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you physicist-type boodlers can help me out here. Will an unwrapped ice cream sandwich present properly (and tastily) if returned to the freezer after three hours on a counter? If not, well, it's only a minor casualty of distracted parenting.

If it's important to the analysis, it's a tofutti "cutie," not actual ice cream.

I can report the results back in a few hours. More likely tomorrow; I'm feeling more tired than solsticial. For many years the solstice and the equinoxes were the only holidays I celebrated consistently. Now I'm a recovering pagan, though I'd be thrilled to celebrate the solstice by seeing Paul Winter's solstice show at the Cathedral of St John the Divine once again.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 21, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

...all of this attention! It's going to my head. Even poems, or rhymed whatevers!

Sadly, so far anyway, Dee has no head and/or tusks. Maybe mounted on some neanderthal's cave wall? What to do with Dee is a problem, after getting him out with paint brushes, dental picks, etc...surface rights in this state belong to the owner. There will, no doubt be several entities vying for his carcas. We hope to go out to visit him next Tueday.

Posted by: Gunde | June 21, 2006 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Happy summer!

Achenfan, happy winter to you in Oz.

SonofCarl, thanks for the sunrise/sunset site. Very cool. I've been revelling in the long days here lately. And it's been clear and sunny, so it has been light till almost 10 pm here (Seattle). I love this time of year.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 21, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

And to put all the horse lovers' minds at rest, Cigar is alive and well and living in Kentucky -
http://www.kyhorsepark.com/khp/champions/cigar.asp
What a great place to visit someday!

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 21, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Nadia McCaffrey is from Tracy, Calif., and Tracy was our home for eight years. How shocking to see that the details of her son's death in Iraq are finally being released--and it appears there is as much cover-up by the Pentagon with this incident, as there was with the news about the death of Pat Tillman.

Iraq patrolmen, trained by U.S. forces [here's the real clincher], had fired on McCaffrey's unit twice--and the third time they hit and killed human targets, McCaffrey being one of them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062101295.html

Shame, shame, shame on the Pentagon for taking so long to tell the truth.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Nine months after the report was completed in Sept. 2005, and two years after the soldiers were killed in June 2004. The shame.

Posted by: Loomis | June 21, 2006 11:32 PM | Report abuse

ot... great picture of the BPH.

But I want to know why you made me look so ridiculous by putting that silly tinfoil hat on me?

Oh.. and that's certainly not MY copy of Captured By Aliens on the table.

Posted by: TBG | June 22, 2006 12:18 AM | Report abuse

What I found most amazing about Bakersfield is the food. The Basque restaurants are fabulous and inexpensive. The regular coffee shop style places serve incredibly huge portions, presumaby designed for oil field and farm workers.

Posted by: jg | June 22, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Gunde, the little "poem" at 6:26 was inspired by "Sandra Dee" in Grease, so that's the tune.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 22, 2006 1:16 AM | Report abuse

TBG, sorry about the hat...

LL, the guy next to LM is HH.

btw, those are Mr. Stripey tomato slices! Served as a side order for $1.99.

Posted by: ot | June 22, 2006 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. We are out the door, time for that walk. Just wanted to say hello, and add a little something to the Powell conversation. Perhaps loyalty was the thing that lead Powell to go along with the bad information. His loyalty may have been questioned, like people question other people's patriotism when they voice different opinions about the war. And I see no one touched my assesment of what it's like out here in the world, the world of poor people. Wonder why? My friends, I hope you have a good day, and that God blesses you, and loves you, more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 22, 2006 6:35 AM | Report abuse

I think we need to recruit this guy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062102058.html


Posted by: RD Padouk | June 22, 2006 7:52 AM | Report abuse

And to put all the horse lovers' minds at rest, Cigar is alive and well and living in Kentucky -

Thank you mostlylurking! I thought about Cigar before falling asleep last night.

Cassandra, it's hard for a person to relate when they haven't walked in your shoes. My home was invaded a few years ago, thankfully while I was at work, and the thieves really cleaned me out, even taking food from the freezer. The worst part was the loss of sentimental family treasures things that can never be replaced and it caused me to lie to my g-girls for the very first and hopefully last time. When they subsequently asked what happened to my Rosary, or my photos of jazz musicians I lied and said I took the photos to my office and sent my sister the Rosary as a gift for her birthday. I didn't want them to know the truth because they'd be frightened. On top of that, the police who responded to my call acted as if I was imposing on their time. They were impatient and rude. While demanding a complete list of everything that was taken they actually said "C'mon lady, we don't have all day". I'm sure it's because they considered me trailer trash. And of course people who live in trailers don't count as much as the folks who live in brick houses. I scrubbed that trailer wall to wall and even the ceiling with Lysol and it never quite seemed like home again.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Quiet today

Posted by: tonk | June 22, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

*whispering* Too quiet.

Cue spooky music...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 22, 2006 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning! I have a conundrum...hmmm...cut a countertop and tile it, then install the doors on the cabinets in the kitchen and complete the punchout, or watch the USA v. Ghana match?
"...[The internet] is a medium for spewing." Right on.

Posted by: jack | June 22, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Nani, I'm sorry to hear about your loss and the attitude of the police. That's unacceptable! You should have complained. Even around here, the police have been exposed to customer service principles.

Jack, watch the match! If you don't, you'll be distracted and more likely to make mistakes.

TBG, is the collegiate world series as big a deal at your house as it is at mine? Life comes to a screeching halt when Carolina is playing.

Posted by: slyness | June 22, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

>I think we need to recruit this guy.

From the article: "Don't bring up the new "Battlestar Galactica" series with him; he doesn't want to hear about it."

Ah, a man after me own heart.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 22, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to the named universe, Hydra and Nix. Science Tim, any cool insider knowledge?


http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060621_nix_hydra.html

Posted by: dr | June 22, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

We are all feeling the pinch in costs, and I can't imagine what it's like for people who make less than I do. My effective income, not glamorous to start with, has shrunk around 20% in the last few years.

I used to be able to afford a 2BR now I am struggling to find an affordable 1BR on my very modest salary. My salary was not bad a few years ago, but prices have shot up considerably.
I have concluded I will need to move out of this area or get a job paying what I should be paid (a lot more).

I am fortunate at least I decided to make my life so I could give up a car and driving years ago or I would be in deep financial problems right now. And I am not raising any kids on an shrinking income.

So I am keeping my head above water for now. But I know many people wouldn't be able to do the same in my place.

I try not to be too negative because I just cannot believe how underpaid our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are for what they do, and how their families must be struggling. It took public pressure to give our soldiers an increase in pay.

If our grand leaders keep up this bickering and lack of solutions, communism and socialism may start sounding good again.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 22, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

If the talk is veering even slightly to old TV shows, last evening my husband noted that both Ilya Kuryakin, and Napoleon Solo (in their alter egos as their actor selves)now are on regularly schdules tv series. Robert Vaughn in Hustle, and David McCallum in NCIS.

Posted by: dr | June 22, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Another example of dispute about "true facts" and the proliferation of media is Rick Santorum's assertion yesterday that WMDs have been found in Iraq. Fox and the conservative blogosphere, including Joel's friend Hugh Hewitt, are all over it (see www.memeorandum.com).

In the sane media, there's a five-paragraph story in the Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062101837.html)
reporting: "Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."

I think we'll hear many people who will believe henceforth that "They found the WMDs."

Posted by: kindathinker | June 22, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I thought people didn't pick up on your comments about poverty because you said it so well. The poor and relatively poor are having a hard time right now. I live in a place with very little public transportation, and my side of town, where many low-income people live, (maybe 10 or 15 square miles) has only one shabby, high-priced grocery store. My neighbors and I can always drive to other parts of town to shop, and to get to work, but lots of people can't, or are making those hard choices. The disconnect between the "recovering" or "strong" economy (depending on who you listen to) and the lives of most working-class people is getting worse daily. Here, everything is going up except wages, and the stronger labor market does not translate into a better life for workers.

On the bright side, it is raining. Perhaps my Mr. Stripeys will recover their luster and good spirits.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 22, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Ooh, The Avengers was a great tv series. We never missed it. Diana Rigg is such a good actor. I loved her droll wit in that spy series; she was hilarious in Agatha Christie's Death Under the Sun and so cold-blooded and calculating in Mystery Theatre's Mother Love.

Posted by: Nani | June 22, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I think I missed meeting Nadia Mccaffrey at Camp Casey II in Crawford by a day--the danged heat and bugs. I wonder if the report about the real cause of McCaffrey's son's death was held back from her because of her activism with Cindy Sheehan, and the fact she invited photographers to document her son's flag-draped coffin when it arrived in California. It makes one wonder, me certainly:

http://electroniciraq.net/news/2112.shtml

The following Gold Star and Military Families are in Crawford now, or will be arriving in the near future. All are available for interview:

Becky Lourey of Kerrick, Minnesota, arrived in Crawford Thursday, August 18th. Becky Lourey is a State Senator in Minnesota who spoke out to oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq before the war started. Becky's son Matthew Scott Lourey, a combat helicopter pilot and Chief Warrant Officer assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, was killed in action when his helicopter crashed from hostile fire on May 27, 2005 near Baquba.

Mimi Evans of W. Barnstable, Massachusetts arrived in Crawford on Tuesday, August 16th. Mimi's son serves in the U.S. Marine Corps; he will be deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in the next week.

H. Elaine Johnson of Cordova, South Carolina will be arriving in Crawford today, Friday, August 19th. Her son, Army Specialist Darius Jennings, was killed on November 2, 2003 when the Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down in Iraq. That crash took the lives of 16 troops including Spc. Jennings.

Rose Brooks of Orangeburg, South Carolina will be arriving in Crawford today, Friday, August 19th. Her son and daughter-in-law are in the Army, serving in Iraq.

Nadia McCaffrey of Tracy, California arrived in Crawford earlier this week. Her son, Sergeant Patrick McCaffrey, was killed in an ambush in Balad, Iraq on June 22, 2004. In defiance of the order that prohibits the media from filming flag-draped coffins coming in to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Ms. McCaffrey invited reporters to the airport to photograph her son's flag-draped coffin as it landed in California.

Posted by: Loomis | June 22, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

You want to talk poverty? Bienvenidos to Texas! From a very recent column by metro columnist Crlos Guerra:

But don't be surprised if they [the candidates in a highly probable five-way governor's race] also start talking about how poorly Texas ranks in other areas, because there is plenty of ammunition.

Last I checked, Texas ranks 49th among states in per-capita tax revenues, 45th in mental health spending, 45th in public health, 37th in overall spending on education, 46th in public welfare and Medicaid, 48th in parks and recreation, 42nd in highway spending, 49th in police protection, 46th in environmental protection, and 50th in total general expenditures.

We rank 40th in what we spend, per child, on public schools, 46th in the percentage of adults with high school diplomas and 47th in SAT scores.

Texas ranks 44th in hourly earnings, and only five states have higher poverty levels. Only two have higher percentages of malnourished people and only one has a higher percentage of people who go to bed hungry.

We rank dead last in the percentage of fully immunized 2-year-olds, 44th in the percentage of the poor covered by Medicaid and first in uninsured children, adults and seniors.

We do lead the nation in a few things. Unfortunately, these are: Executions, the percentage of adults in the criminal justice system and the number of registered machine guns in private hands. Oh, and we are also No. 1 in traffic fatalities and road-rage deaths.

In short, Texas is rapidly turning into Mississippi on steroids.

Posted by: Loomis | June 22, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, if it makes you feel better, Oklahoma leads the nation in women incarcerated. We're right there with you on most of the other numbers, too. But we have great pre-school and kindergarten programs, so maybe in a generation or two we'll climb a little higher.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 22, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, where does most of the state spending go?

Posted by: dmd | June 22, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

We went through a time where we were very not well off, and farming at the best of times, is not like winning the lottery. But with farming, there is at least some self sufficiency. There was space available for a huge garden, where you grew enough vegetables to last you through the whole year. You pickled and made jam, you went out back to the grainery and got lentils or peas, to make soup with. You took wheat to the mill and traded it for flour. It was hard to count yourself as poor even though there was no spare cash.

Though I skirted being poor, though we lost pretty much everything, its a very different kind of thing than what people without the resources of land go through.

Though governments should do a better job of providing aid to those in need, the first best thing you can give a poor person who is capable of working is the skills to have and hold a job that provides a living income. It should start with equal educational opportunities, but sadly does not.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

fyi, new kit.

Posted by: omni | June 22, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

ot, I thought that was HH in the background, but I didn't want to say anything in case it was a boodler!

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 22, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

SofC, I thought about putting a Clinton/Gore cap on his head!

Posted by: ot | June 22, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Seems a shame that the original article failed to mention the glorious Vic Sussman

Posted by: witchy | June 23, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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