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Linking is Easier than Writing

I've given up writing. I just link now. Writing is hard, involving complicated grammatical and syntactical issues and word choices and run on sentences and dependent clauses bouncing and bopping all over the joint and little individual rogue prepositions insisting that they be the thing the sentence ends in. I just can't and won't do it anymore.

That's why they invented links.

Here's our story on Gore's Global Warming solutions. New York University posts the transcript:

"This debate over solutions has been slow to start in earnest not only because some of our leaders still find it more convenient to deny the reality of the crisis, but also because the hard truth for the rest of us is that the maximum that seems politically feasible still falls far short of the minimum that would be effective in solving the crisis....

"... many Americans are tired of borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the Persian Gulf to make huge amounts of pollution that destroys the planet's climate..."

Lots of ideas here -- no silver bullet, but he cites McKibben's "silver buckshot" concept -- and notes that he thinks nuclear isn't the solution, because of economics (plants too costly) and nuclear weapons proliferation.


Ardent nationalist to be the next prime minister of Japan. Said it here before: History is written by the victors, but only for so long. The emerging narrative in Japan is that WW2 was resistance against Western economic imperialism. Textbooks soften or omit Japanese war crimes. Shinzo Abe, the next PM, handpicked by outgoing PM Junichiro Koizumi, recently published a book questioning the legitimacy of the war crimes tribunal.

'Though Koizumi infuriated China and the Koreas by visiting a shrine that honors Japan's military dead, including convicted war criminals, he unambiguously upheld the government's landmark 1995 apology, which recognized World War II as an act of Japanese aggression. Abe, in contrast, has been less clear, saying he recognizes the "spirit" of the apology but suggesting that historians should be the final judges of Japan's past actions.'


Journalism students should study David Remnick's profile of the globe-trotting Bill Clinton. Remnick may be editor of the best magazine in the country, but he's also an old-fashioned reporter. He not only tags along with Clinton but manages to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, when Clinton, as always, craves an audience. Clinton is seen moving at full throttle, traveling from Colorado to Germany for the World Cup final, then on to Africa, all in the same day. He is trying to save the world even while monitoring U.S. politics and keeping an eye on '08. The story's not online, but Remnick did a Q & A about it:

"You may not like Bill Clinton, but one thing he is not is boring or inert. He can be tiring, in the sense that there is no unspoken thought."


Since today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day we turned immediately to Dave Barry's blog, since Dave is, as you know, very piratical. [Checking Webster's...yes!] Apparently there's a "pirate movement."

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 19, 2006; 9:53 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Green Zone Echo Chamber
Next: The Monty Hall Problem Revisited


I love the quote about Clinton never having an unspoken thought. Reminds me of my fifteen year old son.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Arr mateys. (Or is it maties?)

Posted by: TBG | September 19, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

When I told "S" that today was Talk Like a Pirate Day, he emailed me: "I was going to go with "Our team doesn't have a chance this year" but realized that that could be a Red Sox fan as well as a Pittsburgh fan."

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I laughed the whole time while reading that op-ed piece. It seems this woman did not lead a dull life. What came up, came out. Thanks.

Bad sneakers, I agree heartily, and you put it so beautifully.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I am revolted by the more extreme historical revisionism advocated by some Japanese. Yet, I also understand that tolerating, while not endorsing, such revisionism may be a necessary part of coaxing Japan into taking a more productive role in world affairs. The confidence needed to take part in something larger than yourself requires the ability to look at yourself in the mirror without wincing. I think we need to allow the Japanese this luxury.

Besides, the thing about revisionist history is that it feeds on itself. Wait long enough and you will have another generation of Japanese eager to indulge in the masochism of national self-flagellation. They need only look at the West to see how it is done.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

And regarding that whole global warming Apocalypse sort of thing, I guess I have become a little fatalistic. Yes, I do the whole energy conservation bit, but I recognize that my own actions really will not change things a whole lot.

Besides, history shows that humans are far better at reacting to events than anticipating them. And when we do try to anticipate bad stuff (like, say, WMDs in Iraq) the results are sometimes not what we expect.

The point is, sometimes, as little insignificant people, it is better to pray for the strength to endure bad stuff rather than to pray that nothing bad will ever happen. The success rate for the latter is woefully low.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I recall a story on the Globe Theatre in London--they did a production in which the actors would speak based on research into how the Elizabethans really talked. It turned out they talked like pirates.

I don't know whether the hurricane surf of a few days ago uncovered any Spanish coins on the local beaches.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | September 19, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Writing is almost as hard as clouds, yanno...



Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"something crucial floated out of the space shuttle"

They forgot to shut the cargo bay????


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The people who originally "invented" Talk Like A Pirate day were featured on last night's Wife Swap (naturally they called it "Wench Swap"). Apparently being a pirate includes not washing your clothes regularly, having a house full of fleas and not paying your utility bills until somebody comes to the door to ask one last time. Go fig.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | September 19, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Shuttle having a problem:

Posted by: Achenbach | September 19, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love that wormhole... *giggle*

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I am indulging in self-quoting from the previous Boodle, because I feel so strongly about what I wrote that I polished and polished until Joel had already gone and posted a new Kit. Anyway:

annie asked: "ScienceTim -- what part bothers you? That an *innocent* man was subjected to such a nightmare? Or that our nation engages in torture *at all*?"

That we do it at all. Arar's innocence merely happens to explain why the story has come to light. Torture is indefensible in every way:

(a) it's of no value: a man with a real secret may be able to hold that secret against torture, but a man with no real secret will say whatever it takes to make the torture stop. Having a real secret, a secret that matters, can give you something to hold onto. So long as I keep my secret, I defeat you.

(b) It erodes our ability to recruit allies. The world was with us after 9/11. We could have led them anywhere and accomplished great things that would have been derided as idealistic claptrap beforehand. Now, the world doubts us. We have made ourselves as bad as those who oppose us. If you were one of our erstwhile allies, wouldn't you suspect that there is greater safety for everyone in letting the U.S. be weakened by its overt enemies? A weak "torturer" state is less frightening and dangerous to other nations than a strong "torturer" state. We have assured our allies that it is better, and safer, to desert us.

(c) It destroys us. It undermines the essence of the shared values that make it possible to operate as a democratic state. How can I be sure that these tactics never will be used against me or other citizens? There's no reason to think the government would stop short of using it against political opponents; maybe not today, but what about tomorrow? Other governments do it. Which means, the survivalists and black-helicopter crowd may be right. It's every man for himself. We need to be prepared for war against our own government, because our government is on the path to illegitimacy.

(Please note: I am describing the nature of the slippery slope. I don't think we have reached the bottom yet, by any means. But we need to act soon to reverse our slide. We can see where the slide ends up.)

(d) It's simply, purely, evil. We do not purify the world by torturing evil persons, assuming we can even be accurate in identifying them. We simply transfer their evil to ourselves. Mortification of the flesh does not exorcise demons. Mortification of someone else's flesh simply multiplies the (metaphoric) demons. It replaces the one evil person in the room, the victim of torture, with a whole roomful of evil persons, the torturers.

As an individual, I find (d) the most persuasive. However, it is unfashionable these days for a secular person like myself to advocate morality, and religious morality is routinely abused and reinterpreted to justify the policy of the moment. Points a-c are arguments that we serve our self-interest better by refusing torture. Torture is impractical and destructive, regardless of whether you (the metaphoric you) are sufficiently depraved to think it would be personally satisfying to torment someone that (you suspect) holds a desire to do us harm.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Scientists making life difficult for paramecia:

"Cranking the field intensity even higher, Valles and Guevorkian could test the limits of protozoan endurance. At about eight times normal gravity, the little swimmers stalled, swimming upward, but making no progress. At this break-even point, the physicists could measure the force needed to counter the gravitational effect: 0.7 nano-Newtons. For comparison, the force required to press a key on a computer keyboard is about 22 Newtons or more than 3 billion times as strong."

Posted by: Achenbach | September 19, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Years and years ago I saw Sir Ian McKellan do a reading of various Shakespeare works in authentic English of the time (just after the great vowel shift but before regional dialects and accents had been submerged in Standard English. It was wonderful. And yes, it sounded just like a pirate.

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Impressive linking, JA. Gives you more time for the writing. Don't be tellin' Tom you have more time. That gets a person into all kinds of trouble.

I'm really glad it's Global Warming Tuesday. Not 5 minutes ago, my boss asked a client , "What is the status of the permafrost?"

While the question itself is very integral to what we do at work, its really sad that it has to be asked. Its sad because it usually means the permafrost was not paid it's due when things were put in place, and sad that part of the reason we got that call is that permafrost ain't so perma these days.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

More on the Shuttle here:

I'm guessing the mystery object tracking the shuttle is a camera. From a news network. Not Of This Earth.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 19, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Since Astrolab Tim has re-hoisted, I will too:

I takes it as a given, true as the North Star, that the heaviest ball on the brass monkey when the enemy was the pox-y Reds was that we was in large part on the side of the angels, and every swabbie over there knew it, even when they were shinin' ol' Cap'n Ivan's boots.

Some marks you can't scrape off the deck, and if we want this ship to make it all the way 'round the Horn, we should keep in mind that either ye practice the keel-hauling and cat o'nine tails or ye don't.

Posted by: Scurvy Son o' Carl | September 19, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I have long suspected that the force of Gravity is not constant. Monday mornings, in particular, it seems to get quite a bit stronger.

Now we know why.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think NASA may have to invest in some of those hi-tech RFID thingies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Tim, since you reposted your torture comment, I'll repost my response to it:


Tim, my feeling is that it has a lot to do with "American exceptionalism," which from my vantage point is deeply anchored in the American psyche, and in turn in most Americans.

How can a leader of a country that considers itself morally superior could ever do anything immoral?

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse


Torture sends a message: Be nice to Americans! Or else they will bring you democracy.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I read Round the Moon a few months back. Any chance it's the dog?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 19, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

'tis a foul mess brewing in Siam:

Posted by: Scurvy Son o' Carl | September 19, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

JA, not being space savvy myself, is the shuttle in real danger here? That Post article did not give much detail. I'm assuming something hanging out of the cargo bay cannot be good when re-entering the earth's atmosphere or perhaps before that time?

Science Tim, all of what you said makes sense to me, but I'm sure there are persons out there that believe we have to be hard (their take, not necessarily mine) and not give an inch, and torturing would fit right in that kind of thinking. That's my guess on that situation, the operative word being, "guess".

Bad sneakers, I was referring to your post in the last kit.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'll do the reposting thing too:

ScienceTim -- thank you for your thoughtful answer. Here's another question: Suppose you had in captivity a person whom you knew was in possession of information which, if passed along to you, you could use to avert the murders of hundreds or even thousands of innocent people. Suppose further that this prisoner was not willing to share the information out of the goodness of his heart, and that the attack was imminent.

I would argue that in such a situation you have the right, indeed the *obligation*, to extract the information -- by torture if he makes that necessary.

So the question in my mind therefore is when, not whether, torture is justifiable.

It gives me no pleasure to hold this position, need I add.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Notice that Weingarten's chat today is cancelled. I don't admire him as much as I do the Boss, but I sure hope his family is OK.

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Annie, an interesting moral dillemma.

Whatever the answer may be, I think that Cassandra and Nani had a very interesting points that may apply from the Massaoui verdict kit and boodle. (If someone could help me out and find a link, I would appreciate it - a lack of search skills at play).

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

egawds annie - that's a terrible scenerio to have to be in! i think in that case, don't the lives of many count more than the life of one? no matter what it entails to extract the information? very slippery moral tightrope there!

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, what you said regarding torture - I agree wholeheartedly. I would also point out that torture doesn't work very well. There was a great article in the New Yorker either last week or the week before about an al Quada (sp?) member who came to us back in '95 or '96. We have gotten a lot of useful info from him (he's now in a witness protection program) and it wasn't by torture but by treating him well, even bringing his family over here. One of the interrogators said that some of the best intel they got from him came not from direct questioning, but in casual friendly conversations. I'm sorry I can't reference the article, I seem to have misplaced the magazine, it's probably being used as a shim under the kitchen cabinets.

Of course that wouldn't help if the threat was imminent, but I'm still not convinced that torture would yield a truthful response in any event. I assume if someone tortured me, I'd tell them lies, truths, anything they wanted just to get them to stop.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, the mysterious object following the Shuttle is a Space Pirate who has forgotten to turn on his cloaking device.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

superfrenchie, I will remind you that it was France whose secret agents blew up the Rainbow Warrior at the dock in an allied country. That wasn't us.

The Nazis had plenty of willing helpers for their actions. That wasn't us.

The Khmer Rouge murdered vast numbers of their own people. That wasn't us.

The Cultural Revolution in China slaughtered millions in order to embrace a new and more perfect future. That wasn't us.

The list is extensive, both ancient and modern.

You have an irritating fixation on arguing that the U.S. is uniquely guilty of the evils of this world. It is, frankly, counter-productive. We all are capable of evil, and power corrupts, regardless of nationality. The conviction that evil, stupidity, and cupidity are uniquely problems of "those guys over there" is one source of the distraction that makes it possible for them to flourish "over here." That applies to any example of "there" and "here."

When you make the claim that evil is fundamentally and specifically an outgrowth of being an American, it puts us in a position of defending our national existence, rather than policing our actions. I am an American, and I am damned proud of that fact. I am ashamed of the policies of our current President, and I am infuriated that he has cast a stain on what it means to be an American. But, I remain an American. My goal is to make my country better, not to tear it down.

But, according to you: We are a religious people, which makes us a delusional theocracy. We believe that a government of the people is uniquely legitimate, which makes us arrogant. We acknowledge the citizenship of persons who do not understand science, which makes us stupid. We speak but one language within our vast borders, for the most part, which makes us ignorant. We have a troubled history with racism, which makes us institutionalized bigots.

It seems that you come to this forum in order to let us know that you despise us and consider us to be cretins, culturally, morally, and intellectually, without exception. It's tiresome. You have a choice -- why do you choose to live here, among us savages? Were you banished from France for some terrible crime of which you dare not speak? I do not recall you making a single positive statement about any benefit of living in this country. Perhaps my memory is faulty on this point. You come from an enlightened country that you vastly prefer, a moral place in which there is no oppression of minorities, who never riot nor express their pent-up anger through violence. A place in which the government embodies the noble traditions of its people and never acts in a way that is shameful or wrong. A place of clear-thinking intellectual giants who never resort to cliché in their thinking of other nationalities. France is simply better than this cespool of degradation called the United States. I applaud you for choosing your nationality well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

annie - The problem with this scenario is that it assumes infallible knowledge. It requires the interrogators to know for certain that there is an imminent catastrophe, to know for certain that this individual has essential information, to know for certain that the subject will not lie under duress, and to know for certain that there are no other realistic ways to get the information in a timely matter. Given all those assumptions the morality becomes roughly equivalent to traveling through time to intercept young Mr. Hitler. However, I assert, the likelihood of your scenario happening is about as remote.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse


It could just be Space Ghost checking in to make sure all's well.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Found the link to the article, it was from the September 11, 2006 issue, by Jane Mayer, titled "Junior"

A worthwhile read.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I think that NASA's being cautious about manuvering near the "object" because they don't want it bumping into the Shuttle, which could cause damage to the heat shield tiles. Granted, with everything moving in the same orbit together, it's unlikely to cause a Columbia-type tragedy, but they're not taking any unnecessary chances.

Hopefully, the object isn't the Shuttle keys. It's bad enough that they had to test with the valet key they keep in a magnetic box under the rear bumper.

Hmm, it could be a beer can they left on the roof from when they were doing all that work on the ISS solar panels, or maybe they found that lost nut from last week...

On a related note, I see that the Soyuz with Ms. Ansari aboard should be docking with the ISS tomorrow...



Posted by: bc | September 19, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - Why does the monkey wear a mask?

Okay, I lifted that one from Fairly Odd Parents..

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim -- I really, truly do *heart* you after your fine post above.

I always find it (somewhat painfully) amusing that bullies in particular equate obedience with respect. Obedience is really a coping and survival strategy which can rear up and bite you in your veritables, and you (the generic "you" -- not, you know, *you*) are never safe with it -- you have to test it all the time by continuing the bullying, and you will never, ever get any respect.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 19, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Annie, about your scenario:

1. It's very unrealistic: it has never happened before, and is unlikely to happen.

2. How would you know that someone has information about imminent threat before you interrogate him/her? If you know as much as a. who is in charge of it (the terrorist you're holding) b. the means of delivery (a ticking bomb, presumably, since you're talking about "hundreds or even thousands of innocent people") and c. the timing of the attack ("imminent"), how come you don't know where it's gonna happen? After all, you already know who, what and when. It seems very unrealistic that the only thing you wouldn't know is the where.

Torture is immoral. Period.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure of that. If a child of mine were in danger, all bets would be off.

And let's not forget -- the ticking bomb five years ago was an airplane.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 19, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm way over-posting, so I'm going to sign off after this one:

annie, if torture worked, your scenario would raise a moral dilemma. But it doesn't work. There are thousands of years' worth of evidence that torture elicits confessions, regardless of guilt. That the "facts" gained by torture are generally false. That there is no way to distinguish the false facts from the true ones. Therefore, the only reason to torture someone is to seek the satisfaction of vengeance. It will not save one single life, and it will cost you your soul.

And, there is no way to "un-torture" a tortured innocent man. The closest we could come is to put the instruments of torture into the hands of the victim and give him his tormentors. But, that's just compounding his torment, by encouraging him to give up whatever he has retained of his own soul.

The FBI and the police manage to get incriminating confessions out of very, very bad people every day. They don't do it by beating them. They do it by convincing the dolt that he's among understanding friends who really agree with him and just want to help him out. They know how to do it. They are professionals, and they are very good at their work. So, why do we insist on handing over people with REAL information into the hands of brutish amateurs?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 19, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, re your 12:21, standing and clapping here, very well said.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim: //When you make the claim that evil is fundamentally and specifically an outgrowth of being an American, it puts us in a position of defending our national existence, rather than policing our actions.//

I made that claim?

Where? When?

//It seems that you come to this forum in order to let us know that you despise us and consider us to be cretins, culturally, morally, and intellectually, without exception.//

Actually, the reason is that I was told it was a great place to meet chicks.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse


I have heard that question posed before. It's a good one. In theory, the answer is, torture away. You have every right and a moral obligation to protect the innocent, even if it means hurting the "bad guy."

OTOH, real life gets way more complicated. How certain are you that a) this person b) has the information c) and will give it to you d) in a form that is actionable that e) will prevent the death of the innocents. Hard to go back later and say - sorry about the fingernails.

A related question - what if this person had information and was unwilling to share it for whatever reason. But this person was not, themselves, personally responsible for the action that would result in the deaths? Can they be tortured?

It's very similar to the death penalty argument. In my opinion a case can be built for either at a theoretical level. But the potential for making an error when applying them in the real world should deter us from their use.

Posted by: Steve-2 | September 19, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Some interesting reading on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of torture based on the French counter-insurgency in Algeria:

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 19, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim: //But, according to you: We are a religious people, which makes us a delusional theocracy. We believe that a government of the people is uniquely legitimate, which makes us arrogant. We acknowledge the citizenship of persons who do not understand science, which makes us stupid. We speak but one language within our vast borders, for the most part, which makes us ignorant. We have a troubled history with racism, which makes us institutionalized bigots.//

Your post is dishonest. I simply never said any of the things you wrote between each of the "which" and the period. Sometimes, I did not even talk about what's before. Show me a single comment where I say something about your "one language".

You're making it all up.

That you don't like foreigners to comment on your country is one thing. That you invent what they say and think to justify your dislike is deceitful.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I mostly lurk, and don't have the time to read everything, but it does seem to me that ScienceTim encapsulated the ideas you've espoused pretty well. Maybe not word for word, but it seems to be accurate.
So how about proving us all wrong, and say only the nicest things about our country for the next few days?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 19, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

between loomis and sf i'm beginning to think maybe this ISN'T the nicest place in the world - maybe error and nani are right - maybe i need to take an achenbreak. i'm tired of unreasonable people who say mean and petty things for no particular reason except to make themselves feel superior.

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

and sf - you've been living in THIS country for how long now? time to get used to the idea that this is now YOUR fording country! get used to it! if it's so darn terrible than why are you still living here? get over yourself!

(ok - my panties are getting in a twist but i'm getting real fording annoyed these days!)

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

What annie is describing is called "the ticking time bomb scenario," a "thought problem," which envisions a sort of Jack Bauer situation inwhich you have captured a terrorist, and you know there's a ticking time bomb (the presumption is a large one, perhaps nuclear, or chem/biological, and you have a very limited amount of time to find/disarm it, meaning that you can't use other means (house-to-house search, etc.) to find it. The way the scenario is set up, your only means of preventing the bomb from going off (and killing hundreds/thousands/hundreds of thousands) is to somehow to get the terrorist to tell you where it is, and/or how to disarm it. This is where the question of torture enters into the picture. (See The scenario or "thought problem" has been around for 15 or 20 years, and the noted (very liberal) lawyer Alan Dershowitz surprised everyone when he came out with a limited acceptance of torture as a method to solve the problem.

One of the problems with the scenario is its "slippery slope" nature. If we grant that torture might be acceptable as the (only) way to get the terrorist to talk, that "acceptability" soon slides into lesser areas. If it is acceptable to torture the suspect, is it also acceptable to torture his wife or kids instead, to get him to talk? How big a bomb does it have to be/how many potential victims does it have to kill before torture can kick in? Suppose its only just a small bomb, a hand grenadee, say, that might only kill four or five people? Exactly how sure do we have to be that the bomb (big or little) really exists? Suppose we only think "maybe" it exists? And exactly how reliable is torture anyway? Exactly how willing is the suspect to undergo torture to keep the secret? (Presumably he is willing to die/become a martyr.) Will he lie instead of telling you where the bomb is? Will he tell you where the bomb is knowing that you can't disarm it anyway? (In which case you're screwed, and you've tortorued somebody for nothing.) Suppose the whole thing is a disinformation campaign, and the terrorist tells you there's a bomb, and you torture him, and it turns out there was no bomb, but now the story breaks that you've been torturing people, yadda yadda. And then the final problem is that even if it's deemed OK to torture someone to solve the ticking bomb scenario, is it all OK to torture people just for general background information, etc.

What no one seems to have focused on very much, IMHO, is the fact that the whole scenario is just a variant of the very general ends-justifies-the-means (or doesn't) argument, which has been around for hundreds if not several thousand years (harking back to our biblical history thread of a few days ago), and which is the core of any sophomore year philosophy of ethics 201 class. (And sometimes freshman Intro to Philosophy 101.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

yeah, but between sciencetim, mudge, cassandra, et al, all the meanness gets drowned out. most of the corners of the intarweb are full of mean people, without any nice ones.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I suspect -- not *know* but suspect -- that my hypothetical is not as farfetched as others think it is. I merely submit for your consideration that the men and women who work in our intelligence services are people with horribly difficult judgment calls to make rather than unhinged sadists who simply wake up in the morning gleefully eager to torture innocent people. I submit that it is a leetle more complicated than "Torture is immoral. Period." But then again, I am not the leading expert on every topic under the sun as well as the moral tutor for all humanity.

FWIW, I had an interesting (to me) conversation last year with my boyfriend, who is Haitian. I was getting ready to go to India on business and he was hitting the road to campaign for one of the thirty candidates for president of Haiti.

Our respective destinations prompted him to say, "You know, it matters who colonized you. Being colonized stinks no matter what, but if you have to be colonized, pray for the British. Everywhere the British were is so much better off than where the Spanish or the French were. India? Taking off. East Africa? Getting there. Not to mention America and Canada. Even Australia, their *prison colony* for God's sake, is a powerhouse. Now take a quick glance at West Africa. And don't even get me started on Haiti."

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

No, mo, don't go!

I don't want to be the hall monitor here. But I would strongly suggest retiring the internecine squabbles. This would be a good time to tone it down. I think it's a waste of time and I tried to post plenty of topics today in the kit to drive a discussion here. The rule here is that we do not make personal attacks on others.

ScienceTim I am always impressed by your protean intelligence. I'd be interested to hear what you and others think about nuclear power as a possible solution to global warming. Gore addressed it in his speech linked above. I didn't link to it, but there was a huge advertisement in the A section of the Post today from the "Nuclear Energy Institute," featuring three photographs of what we all associated with nuclear power: happy children. A couple of boys jumping off a dock into a lake. Two girls playing with a laptop computer. Two girls on a tire swing. [Not shown: Two huge nuclear power plant cooling towers just out of camera range.] Ad copy: "We need secure, domestic sources of electricty for the 21st Century -- and we also need clean air. With nuclear energy, we can have both."

But is that true? Seems like nuclear power isn't exactly green technology. Lots of fossil fuels goes into the construction, mining, transportation, etc., involved in large-scale energy generation even if at the core it's not a fossil fuel being burned.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 19, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

re: superfrenchie

you're arguing semantics on tim's lambasting of you. the other day, when i asked you how old you were, i was going to guess 15.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Arrr, The problem is that we don't do the normal anti-troll strategy on regulars-- which is t' yawn at their inflammatory remarks.

I thought we war piratin', but Scitim wants t' talk about torture. Me 'ote we kneel haul him in the drink. Gar

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

yeah, mudge - good example! i can think of another one that's actually quite current... we think a country has weapons of mass destruction and said country is run by an oppressive ruler who we think kills millions of his own people and blatantly and arrogantly refuses to follow UN sanctions and warnings and in general poses a threat to the whole country of the united states of america (with said wmd's)... do you attack this man's country and kill thousands upon thousands of his country's people (not to mention your own) for what you THINK he may or may not have and what he may or may not do with that stuff??

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, the US State Department issues a report every year on human rights and torture for every country in the world.

1. It's the only country in the world that does that.

2. It does not include itself in the report: no mention was ever made of Gitmo or Abu Graib or renditions in these reports.

Explain to me how that's not American exceptionalism. Or why others would not view that as American exceptionalism gone awry?

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Why torture when you can use drugs and trickery? If you know that much, you can get family in and wiretap him, etc.

Just give the terror suspect some pot and a few cocktails and he'll be blabbing it all out as he'll be thinkin' the interrogator is a giant purple kangaroo. Yeah, you might get some false confessions and a lot of extraneous babbling, but it's kinder than torturing and should yield about as much reliablity.

(Sleep deprivation makes people hallucinate about the same and it's much less kind.)

You're telling we pour billions in this fordin' pharmaectual industry and all they can do is give us gross toenail commericals? Whatever happened to the "in vino, veritas" credo of the Romans?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

More on ticking time bomb:

"Advocates of the ticking bomb often cite the brutal torture of Abdul Hakim Murad in Manila in 1995, which they say stopped a plot to blow up a dozen trans-Pacific aircraft and kill 4,000 innocent passengers. Except, of course, for the simple fact that Murad's torture did nothing of the sort. As The Washington Post has reported, Manila police got all their important information from Murad in the first few minutes when they seized his laptop with the entire bomb plot. All the supposed details gained from the sixty-seven days of incessant beatings, spiced by techniques like cigarettes to the genitals, were, as one Filipino officer testified in a New York court, fabrications fed to Murad by Philippine police."

Posted by: Achenbach | September 19, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

What annie is describing is called "the ticking time bomb scenario," a "thought problem," which envisions a sort of Jack Bauer situation inwhich you have captured a terrorist, and you know there's a ticking time bomb (the presumption is a large one, perhaps nuclear, or chem/biological, and you have a very limited amount of time to find/disarm it, meaning that you can't use other means (house-to-house search, etc.) to find it. The way the scenario is set up, your only means of preventing the bomb from going off (and killing hundreds/thousands/hundreds of thousands) is to somehow to get the terrorist to tell you where it is, and/or how to disarm it. This is where the question of torture enters into the picture. (See The scenario or "thought problem" has been around for 15 or 20 years, and the noted (very liberal) lawyer Alan Dershowitz surprised everyone when he came out with a limited acceptance of torture as a method to solve the problem.

One of the problems with the scenario is its "slippery slope" nature. If we grant that torture might be acceptable as the (only) way to get the terrorist to talk, that "acceptability" soon slides into lesser areas. If it is acceptable to torture the suspect, is it also acceptable to torture his wife or kids instead, to get him to talk? How big a bomb does it have to be/how many potential victims does it have to kill before torture can kick in? Suppose its only just a small bomb, a hand grenadee, say, that might only kill four or five people? Exactly how sure do we have to be that the bomb (big or little) really exists? Suppose we only think "maybe" it exists? And exactly how reliable is torture anyway? Exactly how willing is the suspect to undergo torture to keep the secret? (Presumably he is willing to die/become a martyr.) Will he lie instead of telling you where the bomb is? Will he tell you where the bomb is knowing that you can't disarm it anyway? (In which case you're screwed, and you've tortorued somebody for nothing.) Suppose the whole thing is a disinformation campaign, and the terrorist tells you there's a bomb, and you torture him, and it turns out there was no bomb, but now the story breaks that you've been torturing people, yadda yadda. And then the final problem is that even if it's deemed OK to torture someone to solve the ticking bomb scenario, is it all OK to torture people just for general background information, etc.

What no one seems to have focused on very much, IMHO, is the fact that the whole scenario is just a variant of the very general ends-justifies-the-means (or doesn't) argument, which has been around for hundreds if not several thousand years (harking back to our biblical history thread of a few days ago), and which is the core of any sophomore year philosophy of ethics 201 class. (And sometimes freshman Intro to Philosophy 101.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I have no clue how my post got posted twice, but apologies all around. I had gotten a message that said Moveable Type had eaten it for lunch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel! Y'all just calm down now. I think Superfrenchie doesn't mean to come across as vehemently anti-US as we sometimes take him to be. In fact, I think that the opposite is closer to true, judging from his persistent and often funny presence here. But, SF, sometimes it SOUNDS (ie reads) different than what you wrote. Funny -- that's like the Kits & Boodles on France, and the French response. Let's all look in the mirror now.

Off to Pointless Meeting II. But THEN, folks, THEN, I get to go to the State Fair! Expect a full report soon.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 19, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

sparks: //you're arguing semantics on tim's lambasting of you.//

I am not arguing semantics, I am arguing facts. You cannot argue that I said something that I did not say, implied or even talked about. Show me where I have even brought up the subject of English, or racism.

//the other day, when i asked you how old you were, i was going to guess 15.//

OK, now you're flattering me. How can I even get upset with you?

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Mo. You know what untwists one's knickers like nothing else?

A nice cold beer and $1 cheeseburger.

I am told these items and more are obtainable at McCormick & Schmicks.

You in?

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

annie - you just KNOW how to talk a girl down don't you! OF COURSE I'M IN!

now joel - you know i aint goin anywhere - i am a true achenaddict - i guess i just needed to vent...

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

JA, re your comments on nuclear power generation. You state: "Lots of fossil fuels goes into the construction, mining, transportation, etc., involved in large-scale energy generation even if at the core it's not a fossil fuel being burned." That's all true - but also true for coal, oil, or gas-powered plants. The big differences in greenhouse gas emisions come (I think, can't really prove this) from the actual generation of electricity.

If your sole focus is on reducing carbon emissions, nuclear power generation is a wonderful answer. But it has it's own problems. Which problems are most important and need to be dealt with? I tend to think that nuclear power is the "best" answer for today - but acknowledge that it brings it's own set of issues that have to be addressed.

Posted by: Steve-2 | September 19, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Excerpts from an article in the Washington Post, Sept 1 edition:


Attempts to explain the vehemence of anti-U.S. feeling abroad correctly home in on Iraq and other unpopular policies of the current administration. But over the past three decades the kudzu-like growth of another U.S. practice, used by Congress and by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has nurtured seething resentment abroad.

This is what might be called "foreign policy by report card," the issuing of public assessments of the performance of other countries, with the threat of economic or political sanctions for those whose performance, in our view, doesn't make the grade. The overuse of these mandated reports makes us seem judgmental, moralistic and bullying.

The degree to which public reports accompanied by the threat of sanctions have been institutionalized in U.S. policy is stunning. A partial list:

Each year we issue detailed human rights reports on every country in the world, including those whose performance appears superior to our own. We judge whether other countries have provided sufficient cooperation in fighting illegal drugs. We place countries whose protection of intellectual property has been insufficient on "watch lists," threatening trade sanctions against those that do not improve. We judge respect for labor rights abroad through a public petition process set up under the System of Generalized (trade) Preferences. We publish annual reports on other countries' respect for religious freedom.

And more: We seek to ensure the adequacy of civil aviation oversight and the security of foreign airports through special inspections and categorizing of government performance. We ban shrimp imports from countries whose fishing fleets do not employ sea turtle extruder devices and yellowfin tuna imports where the protection of dolphins is in our view inadequate. We report on trafficking in persons and categorize the performance of every country where such trafficking is a problem, which is just about everywhere. And we withhold military education, training and materiel assistance from countries that do not enter into agreements with us to protect our nationals from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The point is not that these goals are illegitimate. The large majority of Americans would probably support most if not all of them and would be reassured to know that the government is working assiduously to promote them. It is also true that foreign governments do sometimes improve their performance to avoid sanctions or the embarrassment of a critical public report.

But in the aggregate, our public reports have reinforced the view abroad that we set ourselves up unilaterally as police officer, judge and jury of other countries' conduct.


It is critical, though, that we refrain from using this tool as we seek to promote new objectives -- however worthy -- in the future. The tolerance of other societies for being publicly judged by the United States has reached its limits.


Take it up with John Hamilton of the Post (likely another one of those America-hater)

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Mo -- good. We can (over numerous beers) discuss this achenaddiction of yours. I am sure there is help for you. As for me, no achenaddiction, nope, not me. I can quit anytime I want to, I just don't want to.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

sf - where do you bring up race? let me refresh your memory...

Agro: Look, I've had that debate a million times. Some call it racism because it's exactly the same thing: irrational hate towards a group not for what they may have done, but simply because they exist.

On the other hand, some believe strongly in the concept of race and reply that the French cannot possibly be a race. I would argue that the concept of race doesn't really exist scientifically: none of us is really white or black or yellow. We're all some kind of mix, and thus the term racism simply designates hate towards a group.

So if you prefer chauvinism and it makes you feel better that French-hating cannot possibly be associated with being a racist, then fine, although I think the words bigotry and xenophobia would be more appropriate.

Posted by: superfrenchie | August 29, 2006 05:59 AM

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

SF, i'm pretty sure tim did not mean to imply that you had actually said any of those things, i believe he was taking issue with your tone, which, while amusing at times, has become grating over the past few days, due (i am certain) to the sensitive topics of discussion, and no intention of malice on your part.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

mo: OK, but that still doesn't relate to what Tim talks about:

Tim: //We have a troubled history with racism, which makes us institutionalized bigots//

Where did I bring up your "troubled history with racism"? Or call Americans "institutionalized bigots"?

There's probably plenty to attack in what I do say. No need to make it up and attack things I did not say.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, bc, for answering my question. I hope the space shuttle gets back without incident. We don't need another tragedy of that kind.

mo, i hope you will change your mind and stay with us here. even if i didn't participate in this blog, i believe it to be one of nicest forums around.

ja, i'm reading your book "captured by aliens", so far, good.

annie, after nine-eleven, I was so hurt by the loss of life, and the pure meaness of it all, and I suspect I fell into the category of those seeking to hurt anyone that could do something that evil. I know now it was just the hurt and scare of the time that was speaking. Fear is usually what leads us to make bad choices in everyday life and sometimes in our national life. The world it seems to me can be a vicious place and it has always been that way. We live and die, and another generation takes over, but it is always the same old stuff we're fighting or trying to fix. And men never lose their taste for war and blood, never. Seldom are wars in defense of life and limb, some, but many are just based on the fact, that one man has something the other man wants, so he takes it. We like to think it's complicated, but not so in most cases.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

i tend to think of french-bashing less as racism, bigotry, or xenophobia and more as a popular pastime, not unlike jaywalking, here in the district of columbia. Most people don't really mean anything by it, it's just funnier than blonde jokes, and less discomforting than dead baby jokes.

while we're on the subject: "The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know." -P.J. O'Rourke

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel, am I the only one who thought that the research by Valles and Guevorkian sugges an innovative technique of birth control?

Evidently, the answer is yes.

Which is really just as well...

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with annie that the ticking bomb scenario (hereafter TBS) isn't as far-faetched as some people claim. Of course, it needn't a bomb, per se, but any decent-sized plot will do. Say, for instance, the FBI had captured one of the 9/11 hijackers (other than Massaoui) on the night before or morning of the attack, and were able to discern enough right away that a major incident was about to happen. For me, that would be sufficient to invoke the TBS and to begin asking these questions.

But to me the TBS itself isn't that much of a problem. Rather, it is this: Bush keeps using TBS-type language and scenarios as his justification for asking for the legislation for torture (my word for what it is he claims he wants the military and the CIA to be able to do in Iraq, etc.), NSA wiretapping, etc. In short, he makes out the worst-case scenario and asks for carte blanche to get it. The problem is, he and his administration are utterly untrustworthy that they will use such power wiesly and in limited ways. Many of us suspect (rightly, in my view) that Bush wants to use these powers very broadly, and for political as much as for security reasons.

One of his main claims is that he wants CIA officers, etc., to be indemnified against law suits, war crimes arrests/trials, etc., for their actions. But I believe this is basically a pretty bogus claim (and is used to try to get what he wants). I think it is bogus for this reason: the other night, the George Clooney/Nicole Kidman flick "The Peacemaker" was on, about an Army Ranger (Clooney) and nuclear expert (Kidman) who race to stop a terrorist from exploding a Nuke in NYC.

Now, here's the question: suppose in a similar real-life situation, Agent X (A CIA man, FBI, whatever) captures the guy and (invoking the TBS) Agent X comes to understand that torture is the only way he can get the info he needs. He proceeds to torture the bad guys, gets the info at the last minute, and finds and/or disarms the bomb. Major crisis averted, and Agent X is the hero. (As Johhnie Carson says, "you buy the premise, you buy the bit." To proceed, you all have to accept the above terms.)

Now, enter the Bush arguments. According to Bush, Agent X could be prosecuted for various and sundry mayhem (our lawyers amongst us have a better handle on the charges: assault, torture, possibly manslaughter or murder if the bad guy dies, war crimes if it happens offshore, jaywalking, etc.) The exact nature of the charges doesn't much matter; suffice it to say they are real and severe.

Now, my questions:

1) If Agent X is even halfway worth his salt, he's not going to stop at the last second and ponder the morality of his next intended actions. If he's any damn good, he's going to do what he's going to do, knowing full well there may be consequences. (The most serious consequences, IMHO, are NOT that some ACLU lawyer is going to smack him with a lawsuit, but that either he will die in the course of his mission--in which case who gives a rat's behind about a lawsuit--or that he will fail in his mission and a hundred thousand people will get blown up --him probably among them. In which case, who cares about a lawsuit?)

My conclusion is, Agent X won't give a darn about any potential down-the-road lawsuit.

2) Suppose, just suppose, all this happens, Agent X saves the day, disarms the nuke like Clooney did in St. Patrick's Cathedral (or whever they were) and then gets smacked a couple weeks later with criminal charges and/or a civil suit or war crimes accusations.

What D.A. is going to have the cojones to even charge this guy? Whre are you going to find a grand jury to indict? Where are you gonna get an impartial jury? Not on Planet Earth you aren't. I want to see the jury, criminal or civil, that is going to vote to find against/convict the guy who just disarmed a nuke and saved a hundred thousand people, or disabled an anthrax bio weapon, or whatever. I want to sit on that jury--because you'll see jury nullifcation so freakin' fast your head will spin.

Suppose some international tribunal at The Hague indicts him for a war crime? Which U.S. Justice Department is gonna allow this guy to be extradited to The Hague? (And which Agent X, a functionary of a major U.S. intelligence or military unit is dumb enough to allow himself to be arrested by INS people and shipped overseas, without a little scuffle?)

Let's be real: the thing Bush claims he wants to protect agents from ain't gonna happen. In short, it's all a giant red herring for something else.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

sparks: //SF, i'm pretty sure tim did not mean to imply that you had actually said any of those things//

I have no idea what he meant. What I know is what he wrote:

//When you make the claim that evil is fundamentally and specifically an outgrowth of being an American//

I never made that claim. Period.

For one good reason: it has never even crossed my mind. I'm million miles away from thinking that.

//But, according to you [follows 4 sentences about what I supposedly said]//

He made it all up.

Finally, he says:

//You come from an enlightened country that you vastly prefer, a moral place in which there is no oppression of minorities, who never riot nor express their pent-up anger through violence. A place in which the government embodies the noble traditions of its people and never acts in a way that is shameful or wrong. A place of clear-thinking intellectual giants who never resort to cliché in their thinking of other nationalities. France is simply better than this cespool of degradation called the United States.//

Where did I even begin to imply any of these things?

Science is about the honest reporting of facts and evidence. Tim has demonstrated over and over that he lives up to his nickname. Not in that comment!

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Also, I am on record, so to speak, of advocating a new nuclear power initiative in this country. I think the technology as evolved far enough that it should be seriously considered as part of the mix. The key phrase being, of course, "the mix." Monoculture of anything is always bad because if increases vulnerability. I am very interested in some of the new fuel cell technologies, even if the threat of free atmospheric hydrogen still needs to be carefully examined. And the notion of doing better things with gaseous CO2 than belching it into the atmosphere seems a hot topic (no pun intended) as well. Reinjection is interesting, but I have problems with burying it and hoping that it stays there. (Yes, I know this is an objection to nuclear power. I never claimed to be totally internally consistent.)
The thing is, we are a clever people. I think there is a lot we can do.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I guess the international courts could use the standards they have used in the past to try others, if US Nationals meet those standards then they should be tried, as far as I know there isn't an exception for US citizens. If US citizens can't be tried how can anyone else, two separate rules - how is that democratic?

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Ahoy, I don't think you'd enjoy romance at 8 gees, Rd.

Nor would any woman enjoy bein' "'accumed" at an acceleration equali'ent t' 8 Gs, which in my clumsy math is roughly 78.45 meters per SECOND.

A pence for an old man o'de sea?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Not really related to torture, but more the question of "just war," if there is such a thing. Below are 7 requirements for a "just war," as thought of by Thomas Aquinas.

1) War must be the last resort
2) It must be sanctioned by a legitimate, sovereign authority (no vigilante or individual stuff)
3) It must redress a wrong-suffered; think mainly self-defense
4) There must be a reasonable chance of success
5) The goal has to be an establishment of peace that is preferable to the ante-bellum peace.
6) It should be proportional to the injury suffered
7) Non-combatant immunity; little to no collateral damage

Again, not having to do with torture directly, but more justice and war in general. Just some food for thought and discussion, cuz I don't really want to weigh in on the french/american stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Methinks a couple of youse guys need to take a powder and a nap. Just the thing to take the edge off.

my $.02: Torture and capital punishment are wrong. Neither will score any points in your quality of afterlife column.

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

sparks: I replaced the word "French" by the word "black", and changed the context a bit, in O'Rourke's piece:

//"i tend to think of black-bashing less as racism, bigotry, or xenophobia and more as a popular pastime, not unlike jaywalking, here in the district of columbia. Most people don't really mean anything by it, it's just funnier than blonde jokes, and less discomforting than dead baby jokes.

while we're on the subject: "Blacks are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in the District and drink Courvoisier, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know."//

I hope I don't need to comment any further.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

According to Thomas Aquinas, Iraq doesn't even come close to one of the requirements.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I momentarily thought about posting something about "finally making the earth move" but decided against it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the nuclear issue;

All I can say is that I agree with Steve-2 and RDP (including the "mix" part of things). Perhaps I can say more later.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but unfortunately as Karen Pryor observed in "Don't Shoot the Dog!" Using punishment tends to be rewarding to the punisher no matter what the actual benefit is, so somebody can easily start relying more and more on punishment even when it becomes obviously less and less effective.

I keep realizing this in my journey in dog training to transform myself into a better trainer by being smarter in use of positive techniques and not spiraling into knee-jerk NOs. For a while there I had gotten in the habit of saying NO too often and it was having an effect on my dog (he's rather sensitive that way.).

Also, the point made is... if you rule and dominate by punishment (beat out confessions) you can't be sure the confessions are accurate or that the person will cooperate at all at a later date. In fact, it builds hostility. It also increases the odds that the dog (or person) will try and find loopholes in everything to undermine your authority.

I recommend this book for anybody who wants an serious overview on the basic strategies of changing a behavior in any species.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of later;

annie and mo are in for a SLAPDBPH, and I'm ready to add my name. Who else?


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

why do i always do that? i don't have self-esteem problems, really.

the 3:09, just war thing is mine.

Posted by: tangent | September 19, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

mo, you may not be aware of it, but there is an excellent 12-step program for achenaddiction. Step 1 is you have to come to meetings. These are held at M&S; I believe the brethren and sistern are holding just such a meeting this evening. Step 2 is you have to admit you have a problem, by saying, "Hello, I'm mo, I am an achenaddict." (Everybody else replies, "Hi, mo!") Step 3 is to order a half-pound cheeseburger for $1.99. Step 4 is to throw yourself on the mercy of your Higher Power, which is usually (but not necessarily) a Yeungling. Steps 5 through 9 involve venting over what a jerk a certain person is. Step 10 involves ceremonially decorating the achenfish. Step 11 is having silly photographs taken. Step 12 is settling the bill with the achenwaitress and leaving a good tip.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to go, but can't today. Does the meeting of the minds happen often?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 19, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

ok, let's be fair to PJ. First, he's a humorist. second, only the second half of that post was his. Nonetheless, point taken.

Although i think there's a difference in that people who bash on black people tend to make the claim that blacks are inferior, whereas most french bashing focuses around the french being less superior than they feel themselves to be.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I may come early, not a good day to be upright for me, so I'm gonna see.

(Just as long as the ritual doesn't include hoisting gnomes.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Pedantic point of nomenclature. I have it on good authority that employees of the CIA are referred to as "officers" and never agents. Agents are people who are recruited in foreign lands. Also, it is my understanding that said officers want to be able to legally refuse to do things they might find morally repugnant.

Ambiguity is bad.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

LiT, they seem to be happening more and more often.

I think this is a good thing.

I also think someone's going to petition M&S to create a hotspot so we can Boodle from the BPH. Although I'm not so sure that would be a good thing.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Sparks, you mean the french are just uppity? Like blacks who talk like white people and all that?

I'm with Superfrenchie on that one. O'Rourke was over the line.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

well, i was gonna work late, but it really just doesn't feel like that's gonna happen. I'm down for a cheeseburger and a laugh (although sadly, i'm not eligible to converse with higher powers in public for another 380 days)

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Couple of thoughts as I engage in drive-by Boodling:

1. Re: The ticking time bomb scenario.
It depends on the situation, of course.
I suppose I should mention that I'm another who thinks torture is not an effective tool for extracting good information.

In the context of the US Government, it is difficult to imagine that they didn't know what was going to happen when arrested suspects were sent to secret prisons and/or deported for detention in certain foreign countries. In fact, one could make a case stating that's *exactly* why they were sent out of the US.

"I saw five lights."

2. Re: nuclear power. I've always thought it was a reasonable alternative to fossil fuels as a means of generating electrical power.

I'm not sure there's a "green" way of making electrical power on a large scale whatsoever. Including wind.

Posted by: bc | September 19, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Questions for the ticking bomb scenario:

Does the ticking time bomb scenario inherently include a temporal element that the events in Iraq may not support? Lets say 3,000 people were at risk. How many will die over the long term, in part, as a result of the torture? (not to mention any other costs) Does that offset the 3,000 at risk? How does one define innocence in this case (or any case for that matter)? I have not really thought these out too far, just top of the head questions.

Posted by: sometimelurker | September 19, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

sparks: Except that you are making assumptions about us "feeling superior". Do you have facts to back that up?

Let me quote a favorite of this blog, Gene Weingarten, who actually went there to investigate the claim:

"And so it goes throughout the day. The French people are open, not suspicious. They are self-deprecating, not arrogant. They are almost gallant in their treatment of a stranger. They are defying stereotype.

They are being contrarian. How damnably French of them"

Call me whatever name you feel like if you feel I deserve it. But leave my family alone.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's a Mark Twain quote (with FROG and Frenchie replacing two words).

Pa: "Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free FROG there from Ohio -- a Frenchie, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane -- the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that FROG vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me -- I'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the cool way of that FROG-- why, he wouldn't a give me the road if I hadn't shoved him out o' the way."

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"I saw five lights."

OK, bc, I admit to being geek enough to recognize the Star Trek reference.

Posted by: Dooley | September 19, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

That quote is from Huckleberry Finn, and we can all guess what "Frog" replaces in the above text.

This example of mean-spirited hatred of the other and resenting items that seem to symbolize a belief in his innate superiority (clothes, money, education), unfortunately remains a textbook case of bigotry in America.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Re Nuclear, I have few reservations about using nuclear energy, I have worked for a few firms that sell to the nuclear industries and have a relative that does the same. I had an opportunity to tour one of the facilities just prior to its start up, although I was at first nervous as we toured they explained the various safety measure built in to the system.

Going forward I would like to see us (very broad us) use a much wider spectrum of sources of energy and look at newer alternatives. I would like to think we won't wait until the the situation gets too critical but I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I want to thank ScienceTim for lucidly explicating my own thoughts on torture. It's wrong. It doesn't work. It's counter-productive.

Every captive we took to Abu Graib should have gotten a five-course meal and a night in a feather bed with 400 count sheets. We would have had terrorists showing up at the door once word got out.

The president's torture fetish is unseemly. I really have no idea what we expect to gain or learn with that sort of process. The devil's argument is that we never hear the dog that didn't bark. We have no idea how many incubating plots got rolled up when we had the wholescale ethnic cleansing right after 9/11 (except of course for the Saudi families that funded the terrorists). I think not many, and I want to know how many enemies we made that month both at home and abroad. Good people lead by example.

The Canadian case teaches the lesson of trying to humor a zealot. If they had known what would happen to the guy, I think they would have thought twice about filling their quota of terrorist tips with random rumor.

We like to fill out those report cards, but dismiss Amnesty International's harping on our brutal and arbitrary capital punishment policies. We can't have it both ways.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 19, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

i would go with snooty, not uppity. would he have been over the line if he had made a joke about the irish drinking (which he did, in that quote)? there's a big difference between saying "they think they're better than everyone else" and "they think they're as good as everyone else" which is the distinction i was trying to draw between bashing blacks and bashing the french. weren't we just talking about how bad it is that americans think they're morally superior to everyone else? why can't i say (essentially) the same thing about the french?

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Aye, mateys. I have posted Cassandra's list of books fer her young scalliwags on me blog.

Do what ye can.

My favorite pyrite is iron.

Posted by: yellerrrrjkt | September 19, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Sparks, the time warp sucked my boodle back in time. Check the posts right after SF's Weingarten quote.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

sparks: //weren't we just talking about how bad it is that americans think they're morally superior to everyone else?//

I "sort of" made that claim, not "we" (although I did not say "how bad"). But one thing I did along with it was to back it up with facts.

//why can't i say (essentially) the same thing about the french?//

You can. As long as you back it up with some facts. Show me for example where the French Foreign Ministry makes a report about how every country in the world (except our own) behaves according to our standards.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Just because the French feel free to criticize America, that does NOT mean they think they're morally superior to everybody else, Sparks.

As a deaf person, I have to put up with people being insulted and being angry with me because they think I'm ignoring them. I'm not.

I'm just being deaf, and the French are just being French. They don't dress chic to make fun of ysnkees and they don't speak in French just to make us feel uneducated barbarians. It is who they are.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

hey superfrenchie - let me give you an award! a trophy even! because - guess what? YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT! ALWAYS! WITHOUT A DOUBT! clearly, we are to be humbled to be in your shining presence! oh, and YOU GET THE LAST WORD TOO!! does that make you happy? i'm going to offer up this quiche in your honour!

Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Easy on, Mo. We all know Bush is the one who's always right and that's the one we should all be honored by in his shining presence.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

mo: Thanks, but there's no merit. That's just part of being born a superhero. ;)

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Easy on, Mo. We all know Bush is the one who's always right and that's the one we should all be honored by in his shining presence.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

ok. i have been taken way too seriously, and i demand that it stop immediately.

SF, if i offended you, i apologize. that was not my intent. I spent a few weeks in france about 2 years ago, and i greatly enjoyed myself. I only met one frenchman who satisfied the stereotype, the rest were all very pleasant, and more than accomadating of my less-than-parfait french.

wilbrod, the problem with your quote is that the character is claiming that the "frog" has no place wearing the trappings of a white man, which is part of the distinction i was trying to make: inferiority versus superiority. weingarten would do a much better job of explaining this, but i'll do my best: the humor lies in exploiting stereotypes to make broad, but clearly untrue generalizations about a culture. it only becomes bigotry, racism, or xenophobia if you believe these generalizations to be generally true.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

To quote one of my all time favourite movies (kurosawaguy, where are you now) Joel has told us quite nicely to "zip, zzzzzzzzzz..." (loose quotation from 'Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery'). It is his blog after all.

I suggest we do that. We've been a better than average place BECAUSE we choose to build. We all have to look at how we build up from this and I beg each of you that we start working on that right now.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse


I keep trying to get us back to SLIAPD and the BPH, really I do!

Arrrr, avast, ye mateys!


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

First, a glass house advisory. I admit to being as dumb as the next guy, and having made dumb comments (including one about the French for which I apologize. I'm well acquainted with the skill and professionalism of the French military, and from first hand knowledge while in Yugoslavia.)

Second, however, superfrenchie denies feeling superior and asks for facts. This is not "gotcha" and I happen to like superfrenchie's posts. I just happen to recognize the smug anti-Americanisms that many of us foreigners drop, particularly when in the company of American liberals who have an internal gripe with their own current Administration are who aren't likely to call the foreigner on it.

M.R. Caretaker: //The last time they helped us was 200+ years ago. //

Well, we tried to help as much as we could 3 years ago. But you just wouldn't listen, and you've been pouting like a 12-year old ever since!

Posted by: superfrenchie | July 8, 2006 01:11 PM

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 19, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

well superfrenchie, i can't show you that, but i can remind you that france was against the war in iraq, despite the fact that saddam was in direct violation of UN sanctions, and had been since 98, and then, when we did invade iraq, without their help, it turned out that they had been helping saddam subvert the oil for food program.

wilbrod, i was not suggesting that they did. it was a quote from a humorist. these are commonly referred to as "jokes".

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Nobody has countered SciTim's marvelous 12:21 post against torture. In my view, this is because to deny the point is to agree to a descent into the abyss (or hell, or whatever your metaphor for evil happens to be).

If you want to use the TBS scenario as a "yes, but..." justification for torture, my first response is that this seems to be the product of too much "24" watching. But let's play it out. You've got the perp in hand, and the perp ain't talking, and you're convinced that you MUST DO SOMETHING to prevent the bomb from going off. So you torture the perp, even though it's illegal. This decision cannot be taken lightly.

To decide to torture you may not expect legal cover for your actions. You must believe that obtaining the information is more important than your own life (or soul, to get back to SciTim's point d). Any individual who sees torture as the only legitimate option must be willing to risk their own freedom as a consequence. Preventing a nuclear explosion will have to be reward enough while you wait for your pardon.

Extreme situations may call for extreme actions. But governments build systems, and a system legitimizing torture is inherently corrupt.


Posted by: silvertongue | September 19, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

sorry guys - my bad... clearly, i need a beer and a burger... where's my eyepatch?


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Posted by: mo | September 19, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Is this a reflection on me or something, here's my google ads.

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Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

And it be off to the BPH isle I be sailin', ye scurvy sons of the Sea Hag!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

sparks, I would prefer to follow dr's advice and not get into an Iraq discussion, but there is simply no evidence that the French government had anything to do with oil for food. Look up the reports all you want, you won't find a single piece of evidence that the French government had anything to do with it.

Some French individuals, certainly. Some American individuals, as well, although far fewer.

Besides, France does one billion dollar worth of business with the US daily. To jeopardize that for a few dollars from a deadbeat nation would have been exceedingly foolish, especially if the motivation had been money.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Barely on topic: It seems a peculiarly American practice to present ourselves in the worst possible light in our history books. It would be an interesting practice to psychoanalyze. I really can understand the habit of other countries to downplay and sugarcoat episodes that don't reflect well on the national character.

I send my regrets to the Pirate Edition BPH. Tonight is Back To School Night and I must see which of my son's teachers are much too young and pretty.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 19, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

How much money did the Pirate pay to have his ears pierced?

A buck-an-ear.


Posted by: sometimelurker | September 19, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Mark Twain said "The only thing lower than the human race is the French." I would only add that the only thing lower than the French are American Republicans.

Posted by: T. Sawyer | September 19, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Since some o' us BPH from a distance, maybe th' folks could get a photo o' one o' these mythic burgers? I considered askin' fer freeze dried, but I reckon 't wouldna be th' same.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Yaaaar, I be weighin' anchor meself hereabouts, now that it be strikin' one bell in the dog watch. Shiver me Metro fare card, says I!


Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

SF, i agree. perhaps my mistake was in referring to this as "bashing". perhaps a better term would be "ribbing". i wouldn't make fun of you if i didn't like you. as i said, i really do like the majority of the french people i know (actually, now that i think about it, i probably like a higher percentage of the french than americans), and i think the things you say are valuable, even if they are less than nice in tone at times.


here's another, less controversial o'rourke quote, which is in theme for global warming tuesday:
"A pleasant natural environment is a good-- a luxury good, philosophical good, a moral goody-good, a good time for all. Whatever, we want it. If we want something, we should pay for it, with our labor or our cash. We shouldn't beg it, steal it, sit around wishing for it, or euchre the government into taking it by force."


Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

yello: //It seems a peculiarly American practice to present ourselves in the worst possible light in our history books.//

You gotta be kidding, right?

Although you are perfectly correct about other countries downplaying their own bad episodes. The French War of Algeria would be a perfect example of that. It's gotten better, but 20 years ago (before I was even born, Sparks...), it was hard to find a single mention of torture in our history books. Heck, the entire war was barely mentionned.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm jealous of the piratical adventures soon to take place in DC.

On a happier note, Himself and I got married twenty-five years ago today (whenever I say "twenty-five years" I hear the Twilight Zone theme in my mind). I have chilled a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, and will soon leave the office to make a nice dinner:

- Rack of lamb with mustard/rosemary breadcrumb crust
- White beans simmered with garlic, fresh savory, a touch of white wine and chicken stock (SF, is there a proper name for this delightful and oh so French accompaniment to lamb?)
- Roast asparagus
- Mixed green salad
- a bottle of Malbec

- chocolate souffle with raspberry coulis
- coffee

- grapes

Later this month we are off for a long weekend in Chicago where we will look at pictures and architecture, hit Second City for a laugh, and dine.

Not bad for an old married couple.

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my! I am lower than the French. The shame, the disgrace, the self-loathing. Superfrenchie, I feel your pain, like I never thought I would.

And speaking of feeling Superfrenchie's pain . . . I was in your town on Sunday, SF. Our company picnic was at this big farm in Gaithersburg. It took an hour to get there. On a Sunday, it took an hour. (QUESTION FOR THE BOODLE: Would you rather (a) drive two hours round trip on a beautiful weekend day that represents 50% of the free time available to you during the week, in order to eat a hamburger with people you see 50 hours a week anyway; or (b) go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?)

Anyway, Superfrenchie, I don't know how you do it every day. I truly don't. You have my sympathy and my admiration. Me, the fact that I now have to ride the subway four stops to my job instead of being able to walk there just seems to me the most intolerable inconvenience.

I hope you have a really comfortable car. And satellite radio.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, congratulations!!!!Have a great evening.

Yello, I also think that some of the American history books tend to overplay or gloss over certain issues. I remember a particular International Relations Professor warning us not to us US sources when dealing with the War in the Pacific, in his viewpoint (British) the books were too biased, he was also quite the joker in class so don't take seriously. I think history books tend to reflect the time period they were written, the authors views etc.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

annie, i think i've been to the farm you're talking about, although i can tell you neither its name nor it's location. i used to live in gaithersburg and go to school in dc, and let me tell you, it was a helluva commute.

well. i guess i better get out of here and drop in on the bph, at least momentarily.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: no idea about the dish's name.

annie: I live in Darnestown, not Gaithersburg. But I did hear about that traffic jam, as I was in the area that day for an event. Apparently, the jam was due to Old Town Day in Gburg.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yelljkt, that site is beautiful and so long. Oh, I do thank you much. And the kids thank you too. It is just beautiful, and your input is so great. The wording and everything is right on target. Bless you much and all those you love.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Smokey Glen Farm?

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

that's the one i was thinking of, SF.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

And Annie, I'm my own boss, so I try not to commute at rush hour. Also, my clients are all over the place, not just in DC.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Correction to my 4:48pm: Replace "hard" by "impossible".

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

sparks, I live about a couple of miles up from Smokey Glen Farm, between River Rd and 28.

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, indeed, it was Smokey Glen Farm. It is beautiful (once you get to it) and the people who run the place are great, too.

I think I passed through Darnestown en route to Gaithersburg. At least I was on Darnestown Road for quite a while -- *very* glad to hear that you don't have to drive into DC every day, SF, much less during rush hour.

Taking off in 10-15 for the BPH. Refusing to talk like a pirate, though -- think about it, people, we don't want others thinking we're eccentric or anything.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Annie, so what happened at the interview re: Afghanistan?

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 19, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, Happy Anniversary. That meals sounds lovely.

Would you be my cook if I should ever become a gozillionaire. I think I offered the job to Mudge, he right smartly declined, so the postion is still open.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

So annie, do you think I can show up at the aprty downtown? Or will I be ejected? (Hi Mo)

Posted by: superfrenchie | September 19, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, SonofCarl, thanks for asking! Friday's interview was a phoner. They're doing the first round that way, then bringing in the candidates who make the first cut for the second round, face to face.

I think I did fine, but it's so hard to tell when you're talking to people you've never met and whose body language you can't read (and who can't read yours, or see your eager, intelligent, engaged expression, thoughtful frowns as you say "That's such a good question" etc.).

Anyway, I find out on Friday whether I advance to Round Two.

The security arrangements, as you might imagine, are as tight as they possibly could be. But it's a program *in Afghanistan*, *in the south (Helmand province)*, *to promote alternatives to poppy cultivation.*

This is not a decision I plan to make lightly, assuming that I am given the decision to make.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, Happy Anniversary and know that I'll be thinking of your dinner tonight with great envy as I eat my frozen 'pizza for one' which I can now at least cook because the electrician, bless his heart, came and fixed the problem with the wiring.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Superfrenchie -- by all means, come! You know those hot-blooded Panamanians (finally! at least a reference, still working on some actual jokes). But Mo would never eject you, I am sure. All God's children have a place at the BPH table. (And yes, SF, I am sorry, I couldn't resist, I called you one of God's children purely to annoy you. It was wrong of me!)

Slightly delayed, but am still coming. Please don't everyone bail on me. V. irritated that *once again* I miss a Curmudgeon Sighting.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Yoki... happy anniversary. I'll reach that milestone in two years. And then I'll have been married half my life. Yikes.

I've got to miss tonight's BPH. I'll be working very late--later even than the gang will be partying at M&S. That's one of the joys of having an editorial deadline.

And now, just for fun.. here are MY Google ads (I think the Hypnosis Scandal one is my fave):

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Posted by: TBG | September 19, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I finally got around to checking out the book list for Cassandra's kids and I must say the Boodle came up with some great selections.

However, I noticed there were no poetry recommendations (surprising, considering all the limerick writers here). Don't know if it's too late to offer up suggestions, but here's a couple off the top of my head:

"Where the Sidewalk Ends", by Shel Silverstein
"Still I Rise", by Maya Angelou

In any case, I'll be happy to post the list on my poetry site (and send a few books myself).

Posted by: marrrrtooni | September 19, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Good mention of Shel Silverstein Martooni, my older daughter begged me to buy a set of his (?) poetry when she was in Grade 2 or 3, she has been a fan of poetry ever since. She is the sensitive one and seem to "get" poetry/human emotion. She is 11 now would you recommend the Maya Angelou book for her? I have not read it myself.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Hmm - my google ads are all about blocking spam. Personally, I have found that the best way to avoid spam is just to ignore it. By all means never, ever, click on those links that claim to remove you from their mailing list. That just encourages them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I was sick for a few days so I missed the book recommendations, but on the subject of kid's poetry, I loved Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses when I was little(r). "My Shadow" and "My Bed is a Boat" were my favorites.

Posted by: GyppedOne | September 19, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I'll cook for everybody! If we ever organize a Canadian BHP, I offer to cater.

Tomorrow I go to Toronto for meetings for the remainder of the week. Don't say anything interesting while I'm gone, K?

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, pack a sweater and jacket it is going to cool off tomorrow.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Sf, Face to face is good, and yes you should go. Its one thing to blog to imaginary friends, and fully another to meet them face to face, to really meet them. And having met them once already, you know that like brothers and sisters, you can fight but when you get together you have a good time anyway.

Posted by: dr | September 19, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

dmd... I'd only recommend it if she's a mature 11 and you're prepared to discuss serious issues with her like racism, sexism and other "isms". That said, it's more about empowerment -- especially from a female perspective -- and "rising up" (as the title suggests). I personally gravitate toward the wild and crazy poets like Buchowski and Ginsberg, but Maya is such an amazing poet -- an absolute master of language and emotion and imagery.

In other words, yes. Definitely. But read it with her.

I would also recommend her autobiography series (four or five books), but for older kids -- like 16 or so.

Posted by: martooni | September 19, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

lots of funny stuff in here today - i haven't dropped by for a while.

Tim, I loved your post about torture and I wholeheartedly agree.

The ticking bomb scenario - I am a person tragically addicted to 24 and to Jack Bauer and his bizarre mad COMPLETELY MADE UP world. I shouldn't love that show so - I know it. It is totally without true morality or any kind of believability - a place where Jack Bauer tortures and is morally tortured in turn by the 'reality' of what he has to do to keep us all safe at night. I can just hear Jack bauer saying, just like Jack Nicolson's character A Few Good Men - You can't handle the truth! Jack pulls out a dental drill and pops a suspects tooth with it and voila! valuable information flows! Jack shoots a woman in the leg to get her husband to talk and then when the guy STILL doesn't talk, Jack calls him an SOB for making him hurt his wife.

I love the world of Jack Bauer's 24 but I do not believe in it. It's a cartoon done on real film. I do not believe that out there in the dark reaches of this scary world that there are Jack Bauer characters of absolute moral centre who only torture and kill for the safety of the rest of us poor lambs. Even if this kind of person was sane to start off it with, this kind of life would drive them mad and destroy the moral compass they began with.

But this idea that out there somewhere, there are boundary riders who will know exactly what to do when the you know what really hits the fan, is very comforting. But I say it again, it's simply not true. The idea that torture has merit could be argued for under certain circumstances except for one thing - like so many other situations, it works really fine in theory until you add actual human beings - the torturer who is probably mad or headed there if he's been at his job for any length of time and the torturee who will say anything to get you to stop hurting him.

Posted by: one eyed clang | September 19, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Yoki.

And to those of you attending the Porching Hour, have fun and take care.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I think if you want to free the boodle from personal invective and spite you either need to avoid hot-button topics or be a more vigilant hall monitor. Either that, or insist that all prolonged no-win arguments be conducted in Latin.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

This boodle, even with the occasional disagreements is still much more polite than most on the internet.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, replied earlier about Maya Angelou and my daughter but somehow it didn't post. My daughter is has a high EQ, I am often surprised at what she understands, not just the substance of the topic but the emotions behind it, I think she would like Maya. As for ism's we speak of them all the time, we live in a very nice town but it is not reflective of the area of the country I live in, too sheltered and still too WASPY although it is changing. I try to make them aware of what goes on in the outside world.

She is a great girl (and I am totally biased) but is not very confident) she understands how people feel, what is right and wrong, but struggles with math and spelling and in her world that is what matters. Seems that the world is a little tougher for kids who don't fall into the norm now of gearing up for a career in maths, sciences or computers. She is very bright just in different ways.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

dmd - I will take your word for that since I never visit any other blogs. My concern is that the very people who make it such a nice place may get scared off. A community like this is very unstable - and I mean that in a good way. Further, if the comments get too nasty I fear Joel may not find it worth his professional time anymore. I would find that very sad.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse

dmd, she sounds a wonderful child. And she's lucky to be appreciated by her Mum. I'm sure as she grows up she will find even more things in which she excels, and each one will build her confidence.

Do you have a dog? I know that sounds like a silly question, but my less-confident #2 built a lot of self-esteem through her working with the big dogs; they love her, she trained and worked with them on various activities and has a special communication with them.

And now, at 18, she is ready to take the last steps out into the world, sure she can do most anything (which is true, she's an all-round great kid).

Posted by: Yoki | September 19, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, KB, where are you? Missed you today.

Going to bed now. It's has been a long day. I pray for peace in all things, not just here on this blog, but in this world that we try so hard to live in. Sweet dreams, friends.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 19, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

dmd - also, I know all about kids who aren't in the norm. They are a lot of work. Sometimes I think God sent them to us because He figured we were tough enough to handle it.

Either that or He's just really ticked off.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

RD, I agree, I have always been fascinated by peoples opinions, in particular on hot button issues. A while ago the Globe and Mail here started allowing comments at the end of articles online, it is a paper I have always like, somewhat conservative traditionally but intelligent but the comments sometime make the comments here seem like sandbox disagreements.

Other blogs I have read are not much different than the comments on the Globe somedays, so I see this, even though there are some questionable comments as a safe haven of highly intelligent (myself excluded) conversation and a learning tool for me. Not to mention great humour.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes we have a big dog, shepherd, collie, husky that adores her, she is the quiet one that pets him, the younger one just rolls on him.

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Since the dust seems to be settling, I surmise that the DC boodlers aren't tearing ecshothere limb form limb. Of course, with golden beverages in the mix and considering it is Pirate Day, anything is possible. Like you, RD, I don't read other blogs unless there's a link. The discourse here, as has been pointed out repeatedly, is mainly civil. It is unsettling to have barbs pitched about lately and I always seem to post then there's a storm. I'm reminded of a fellow on late night tv in Cleveland called the Ghoul. He showed these awful Japanese monster films: Gamera the Turtle, Return of the Mushroom People and other classics. Occasionally he'd blurt out "Time to cool it kids...with the coolit box!!!" The latter was fabricated from a box of animal crackers with a little push button operated fan, which he waved about in typical Ghoul fashion. He was also fond of blowing things up with large fireworks. Bad tv...but appealing to a teenage sense of humour.

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

SCC: each other, but one can make sense of the rather phonetic run together spelling. I think I need the coolit box.

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 8:24 PM | Report abuse

That was a great post Jack! Maybe we need a "coolit box" for the boodle. And I loved the movie references. Back when I was a kid, in the ancient days before CGI, fine cinema was defined by a Japanese guy in a rubber suit. I especially liked Gamera. (He was a friend to children you know.)

Now I have to go tend to two difficult children. My wife is at "back to school night" so I have to deal with them both myself.

Those educators just never consider the human cost.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Yoki!! :-)

SLIPDBPH update: I got there first and held onto a table, repelling a fierce boarding attempt by some beady-eyed corporate types. 'Mudge arrived just in time to whack the stragglers with his trusty cutlass. Or perhaps his eyepatch and hook scared 'em off. Anyway...

Special Guest Appearance by: Wilbrod and her trusty service dog! Yes, the dog DOES understand ASL! *L* And Wilbrod happens to be a great sketch artist; she did pirate versions of me, 'Mudge and the late-arriving mo. mo has promised to scan and post the "portraits of shame." Thanks to Wilbrod, this was undoubtedly the quietest BPH ever -- so much scribbling of notes on napkins!

'Mudge had to run for the bus, and I followed a while later, leaving mo and Wilbrod to hold down the fort. Future posters will have to report on whether annie and SF made it.

Sparks, were you in somewhat casual clothes, with a brightly colored backpack? 'Mudge and I noticed such a person go up and down the bar a few times, but no contact was made. If it was you, we apologize.

*note to self -- get a BIG "BPH" table sign made for next time*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - sounds great! I would have loved to have meet Wilbrod. And yes, as I posted in Pirate Morse: "Wish I could be there!"

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it was a pretty subdued BPH, and as scotty reported, lots of scribbling. Wilbrod had a school-type notebook with her and we were all writing notes back and forth, in the notebook, but also on napkins, everybody writing away and then passing the messages back and forth. Wilbrod "told" (wrote) a very funny story about her dog almost getting eaten by tigers at the zoo--I'm not gonna ruin her story by telling it, but she should.

mo forgot her trusty camera, but we took a few pix with scotty's phone (I'm so freakin' old technology that I still can't get used to the idea of taking pictures with that thing Bell invented. Next thing ya know I'll be chatting with some old high school pal on my Hassleblad). Perhaps scotty can get them posted somehow.

Sad to say, I had to leave before annie showed up. Ships that pass in the night...*sigh*

dr, did I really turn down the opportunity to be your cook if you become a gazillionaire? I have no recollection of doing that; what could I have been thinking? Did I have a reasonable reason? (Can't imagine what it would be. Unless it was the fact you live north of the Arctic Circle or something.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I want to start a new discussion thread: did anybody see the premier episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" Monday night, and if so, what did you think?

Shales gave it a mediocre write-up before it aired in his season summary, but other critics seemed to have liked it (one said it was the best new show). I liked it quite a lot. It had all the famous Aaron Sorkin touches--and was basically "about" two guys like Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme. Of course, it was written by Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme.

I was never a big fan of Amanda Peet (didn't like her at all in "Saving Silverman") but I liked her quite a bit in this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I saw it Curmudgeon and liked it a lot, I think as it progresses it will get better, they introduced so much in the first episode it will take a while to sort through everything. Good chemistry between Matthew Perry and Brandon Whitford (hopefully I got both names right).

Posted by: dmd | September 19, 2006 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I found Amanda Peet's role in "Igby Goes Down" quite memorable, and not just because of the naked bits. I was also impressed by how she did in "The Whole Nine Yards," given it was such a silly movie. She certainly does have a unique look, which I suspect is a big part of being a star.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 19, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I saw Studio 60 and liked it. Because I always loved The West Wing, I was looking forward to it. I just like Sorkin's style. When Matthew Perry was on the WW, I remember being pleasantly surprised by his acting ability. I like Bradley (?) Whitford and was happy to see him back in a series. Was Peet the boss or the blond ex girlfriend of Perry (sorry to be so clueless)? I thought the beginning "Network" type scene with Hirsh was maybe a bit more contrived than I would have prefered. I will definitely keep watching it, there are so few shows that I even bother with anymore.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Cassandra! I'm around, just verrry busy. Lots going on at work, budget meeting at church, getting ready for a conference my husband has put together for the first weekend in October.

I am SOOO ready to retire! I just don't have time to go to the office any more, there are too many things to do otherwise!

Posted by: Slyness | September 19, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Peet was the boss lady, the one on her first day on the job.

The blond, one of the three stars of the SNL-type show who is also a Christian, is supposedly modeled on Kritin Chenoweth, who was on WW, and was Sorkin's girlfriend for a while--and who is said to be a Christian, like the blond in the show. "Studio 60" is VERY self-referential. Both Perry's and Whitford's characters have drug problems, as, of course, did Sorkin.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 19, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

First of all,
when I heard about the coup in Thailand, my first thought was, I hope an american in siam is ok. And the other occasional boodlers from "the land of smiles". I hope they get things straightened out soon.

I watched Studio 60, but missed the first 10 minutes (I think I lingered too long on the boodle) - so I didn't know what the heck the scandalous skit was...Thought it was ok, pretty funny at times.

For some unexplainable reason, I watch the Amazing Race. This season started in Seattle - here's what a local snarky young reviewer wrote about it:
"I'm pleased to report that not only did the teams enjoy a very wet welcome to our fair city, but they also got stuck in really bad I-5 traffic. Team Kentucky impressively managed to detour to Highway 99, while the Muslim team started praying to Allah. Nothing against your religion, but when it comes to Seattle traffic, I honestly don't think that's going to help."

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of kids' books,
there was an interesting chat today with Andrew Clements:
I like that quite a few kids submitted questions. I don't know his work at all - does anyone here? I've been revisiting beloved old horse and dog stories - found a book on Amazon that I have unsuccessfully looked for in libraries and bookstores - Champion Dog Prince Tom, about training a castoff dog to become an obedience champion.

And speaking of dog training - Wilbrod is a woman? I've been picturing her as a man all this time!

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Chenoweth, I never much cared for her character on the WW. Just didn't seem credible that she would have the job she did in a Bartlett White House. Also, she is just so short!! And before anyone takes umbrage here, I'm 5'2" on a good day, so I have nothing against my own kind, she just always looked so tiny next to the other actors. But that's irrelevant and I digress. My other pet peeve is the portrayal of "recovering" addicts on these shows. John Spencer's character had a slip on the WW, and here's Witford's character with the same issue. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I worry that the general public will get the idea that "all" of us just fall off the wagon every now and then and immediately see the light and get back on track. I've got almost 17 years now, and having had a slip or two before that, I can tell you it's very painful and not at all easy to get and stay sober after a slip.
Ok, I've vented. Must have been that frozen pizza I had for dinner.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Report re BPH (late shift edition): This will probably be rambling and flat, due to the influence of the wine to which Superfrenchie treated us all. (As everyone knows, the French are a corrupting influence.) But here goes.

I arrived ca. 7:00 (according to Mo, just minutes after Scottynuke bailed). I knew I would miss Curmudgeon, because of that whole stupid *bus* issue. When will people just SEE THE LIGHT and live downtown? But we must sometimes sacrifice, and I agreed with Mo that the next time a BPH is scheduled, I am just going to take a vacation day. This is what it takes. And I do what it takes. It's a code.

So Mo and Wilbrod and I were talking/writing happily away -- Mo allowed as how the day's earlier boodling re torture had given her some fine ideas of what to do with Superfrenchie when he showed up, if he still dared. Wilbrod and I pleaded and cajoled and appealed to her better judgment and cooed soothing Panamanian lullabies. Then we deployed the ultimate weapon: we changed the subject. She seemed mollified. But I had an almost cinematic sense of foreboding that the pacification of Mo was temporary and fragile.

As if on cue, the revolving door spun, and the room grew darker, and vaguely threatening cello music filled the bar.

In walked Superfrenchie.

No blows were exchanged. (Which is kind of a shame, because there hasn't been a really juicy barroom brawl in a K Street bar that's mostly a lobbyist hangout in a long time. dmd and RD Padouk, et al -- please get busy forming the Canada chapter. I have to think that any BPH held in bars where the other patrons are lumberjacks and sled-dog drivers is going to yield more drama. [INSERT UMBRAGE HERE].)

But they did have a pointed exchange of points of view which boiled down to, in my humble opinion:

MO: The earth is round!

SUPERFRENCHIE: No, you're wrong! The earth is 75% water!

In the end, we all agreed that a lot of the clash of civilizations could be averted, or at least drained of its animus, if everyone would just drink wine together.

We all stayed longer than we intended. I proposed that, after we paid the check, we all hold hands in a circle and sing "Let us drink wine together on our knees."

But I was vetoed. It was pointed out that it was I who had said earlier that maybe talking like pirates would be weird. You know, in a bar and everything.

Mo was kind enough to give me a ride home. (Last time, I walked home. It was only a few weeks ago but it's already a lot darker a lot earlier. See Joel's post railing against all that. I am right there with him.)

So I stroll in at 9:30, smelling of wine and another dog (Wilbrod's). Mr. Luke unamused. Making amends now.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, I thought Wilbrod was a man also! It's going to take me some time to adjust my brain now when I read HER posts.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 19, 2006 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge & Scottynuke, I will neither confirm or deny any rumors of my appearance at the BPH. Remember the Achensecrets...

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Great BPH update! But, RD is, like, American - not sure he can even pass for Canadian with those wild shirts and shades. I thought *you* might be the one to torture SF! He must really, really like us, despite his tone and pitbull-like tendencies (I say that with fondness, SF - please, no more umbrage today).

Bad Sneakers, I love Kristin Chenoweth because she is so short! And feisty - gotta love feisty.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 19, 2006 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers, WOMAN? I take umbrage. I'm actually a cupboard-living gnome as I've always said I was. Don't pay any mind, those pirates were so drunk, they thought Wilbrodog was a lab.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Sparks (and LostinThought and anyone else similarly situated ) -- re Scottynuke's earlier post, I repeat my offer, available to any first-time BPHer but especially to the women, to wait for you on the sidewalk and walk together to the BPH table.

I am a fairly extroverted person by nature. But even for me, it was weird to walk into a crowded bar by myself and randomly walk around trying to intuit which table might be my imaginary friends. The process was not helped by the staff asking, "Well, how many people are in the party?" or "What do they look like?"

I know that for others, this is a nonissue.

But this is an offer I am pleased to extend to anyone who, like me, may be extroverted but is not particularly bold.

Posted by: annie | September 19, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry I missed it too.

One last Arrrrgh! for the day.

And I'm disappointed I didn't get to meet Wilbrod in person.

I'm glad everyone had a good time or at least no physical blows were exchanged.

Yoki, happy anniversary!


Posted by: bc | September 19, 2006 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy! Ahoy! Agrrrrrrr!

I got petted a lot tonight and I think the waitress really liked me, she held my head half the night. It sure made the night go faster, that and a doggy bag (but not big enough though--bad owner)!

Everybody was nice to Wilbrod and me. I don't think I am a lab, but if people want me to be, just tell me how and I'll be one. Do I wear a white coat?

Hey! Hey! Mo is gonna scan a portrait of me and you can decide if I am a lab or not then. Agrrrrrr....!

Posted by: Wilbrodog | September 19, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

that's odd...i seem to recall thinking of wilbrod as a woman. but for some reason, i thought slyness was a man. that husband thre me for a second. then i realized that men are usually not so much sly as clever.

i did drop into m&s, but not dressed casually. i was in a green dress shirt and celebratory ARRRRRRgyle tie, but i had been considering just going home on the train, and when i got there and could not find the droids i was looking for, i decided to hang out outside for a few minutes to see if anyone in an eyepatch showed up, which they didn't, so i took that as a sign from the deity of your choice and went time i promise to make a real appearance. when i read that SFand mo were going i was disppointed that i didn't go (it's been many years since i've seen an intercontinental brawl). ah well, there's always next time.

Posted by: sparks | September 19, 2006 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a sign would be in order, Annie. I know if I was looking for the pirate BPH, not that I was SLAP happy or anything today, I'd probably come early enough to look for Mudge. He is highly recognizable from those old BPH photos.

And maybe make it non-smoking, no? Anybody breathing fire shouldn't be porching anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 19, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow.. I'm so sorry I had to work (still here, by the way). I wanted to meet Wilbrod--and see everyone else, too.

Hey.. what would happen at a BPH if Wilbrod and Pat both showed up?

That would be a Boodle Porching Hour I'd love to be a part of.

Posted by: TBG | September 19, 2006 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Greetings and salutations to Wilbrodog! If The Blonde had to make me wait an extra two hours for my dinner tonight, I am highly delighted that it was for her to make a new friend! With a dog! Which you are ! Like me! Because I am a dog too! Plus she felt so guilty that she took me for a longer walk! Down to the Capitol, not just the Court! And much food and love and scratching of bellies and rubbing of my knobby head!

We both have our ways of gathering social data -- The Blonde sits at the computer and I make a point, whenever we are on our walks, of carefully reading the "pee-mail." But sniffing her clothes tonight told me a great deal about you. I hope we can meet someday, unless you are only allowed to mingle with other dogs who have jobs and aren't going to be distractions!

Hah! We should make a plan!

Posted by: mrluke aka anniesdog | September 19, 2006 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Happy anniversary, Yoki. May you be blessed with many more.

Slyness: I wonder if you would be so kind as to guide me to a person in the CFD associated with haz-mat or similar environmental conundrums that would be interested in speaking to my Env. Studies class. Thanks in advance.

RD: My scheme for Gamera includes having bottle rockets installed in various rear orifices of a paper-mache replica of the friend of children. The Ghoul would light him up and Gamera would be whisked away on a wire at breakneck speed across the studio, toward certain doom at the opposite end of the wire.

Posted by: jack | September 19, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I was a lurker/skimmer today, like slyness, just amazingly busy. Missed my chances to weigh in on all these vital issues of the day:

Torture? I'm against it. I appreciate the well-articulated positions put forth by several people here today. I posted my rant on the subject months ago.

I'm in favor of French boodlers, though, especially coyote and Superfrenchie; also in favor of partially-Panamanian boodlers, even if they get cranky sometimes...

I'm on the fence about the new ultra-linky Achenbach. For me, the introductory paragraph was worth more than all the links put together.

As for Talk Like a Pirate Day--totally stoopid. I'm glad it'll be over in 15 more minutes.

My day was about meetings and reports and training and corporate bs. My evening was spent with my interfaith women's group.

I only wish I was a better writer, to tell the story of what happened at the interfaith meeting. A few months ago, a boy from south Florida, Daniel Wurtz, was killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv. His mother and grandmother were at the meeting tonight. Sheryl, the mother, told the story of his life and death, and she cried and we all cried. A Muslim woman from Pakistan, my friend Naheed, stood up and walked across the circle. She said, "I have a son, and if anything happened to him, I would never be so brave as you, I would not have the courage to speak out the way you have. If there is anything I can do to help, just tell me" and she gave Sheryl a warm hug. Then another Muslim woman, a Palestinian, hugged her too and the tears flowed again. In that circle of women, where tonight I was the only Christian in the room--there were Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, a Unitarian, some Bahai's--that is the only place in the world right now where I don't experience any alienation at all. Maybe you can't measure the progress that was made towards peace tonight in that encounter. But it was better than nothing. A lot better.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 19, 2006 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Avast! Yon scurvy dog dare say talkin' like a pyrite is stupid?


Well of course it is! You think we pirate because we got bored of Harvard and corporate raiding?

Anyway, that is such a good thing you experienced tonight, kb. It's good when people are able to put down their defenses and truly care. I love discussing with people of other faiths/branches of christanity precisely because of that moment of sharing that occasionally happen when theology is adroitly dodged for common ground.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 12:01 AM | Report abuse

mrluke, if I am not working we can always do a playdate. You must have a good location in mind, because proper dog play must be done offleash. I hear from Wilbrod that you are bigger than me. All the better!

Posted by: Wilbrodog | September 20, 2006 12:05 AM | Report abuse

i finally made it to the end of the boodle, skimming a lot. it's hard to keep up with you folks...and glad you had fun at the bph. (waiting for phone photos...)

a couple of you expressed my thoughts on the tbs exactly - better that torture is illegal. if the highly improbable tbs were ever to occur, the agents or whoever would have to make the decision whether it was worth breaking the law and deal with the legal later. but it's infinitely better to keep torture illegal, otherwise you're opening up a very dangerous door.

and who the hell do we think we are trying to rewrite geneva conventions? now THAT is american exceptionalism. and if any other country did to american citizens what we're doing, like waterboarding, we'd be all over them (this point came out in a recent discussion, but i don't have the reference). the reason we're so internationally hated right now is precisely because of american exceptionalism and arrogance, most embodied by arbusto himself.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 20, 2006 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. KB, that sounds really nice, your inter-faith group. All those religions in one room and the gift of just being women, and helping each other, was certainly a good place to be and a good day to be. Slyness, you sound busy as I shall be next week. And my daughter called wanting me to take the g-girl for a couple of days. Won't that just throw more work in the game?

I hope everyone checked out yellojkt's site and the book list. It is so great.

Glad you folks had a good time at the porching hour. I do hope to visit one day. And Wilbrod is a woman. I just would have never guessed that. You go, girl.

And to Loomis, let us bury the axe? Your contribution to this blog is important and you are very much a part of this group.

Must go now, time to walk. Didn't do that yesterday because I thought it was going to rain, and not a drop fell. Now my weekend will be taken to make up.

Have a good day folks. I have prayed this morning, and asked for mercy and blessings for you and me, and that we all come to the knowledge that God loves us so much more than we can imagined through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

You know, KB, would it be just wonderful if men could get that?

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 20, 2006 7:05 AM | Report abuse

goodmorning! I poked my head outside and it appears that fall is beginning to drop over the DC area. I heard the telltale signs of dead leaves rustling over the back deck. I've also sneezed 20 times already this morning, but I'm not worried about catching a cold. I read somewhere that a cold is all in the head and it's possible to get rid of one simply by maintaining a good attitude. So me, being the gullable person that I am, began believing this perposterous article, and ever since, have not caught a cold. I also have a backup plan which will go in effect today... I have these 2 inch long red hot peppers that when bitten will turn on the saliva glands and tear ducts like a spicket and melt the wax out of one's ears. In effect, they are a cure for the common cold.

For the last week, I fell behind on the boodle. My computer at work broke and it only took 5 days for the techies to fix it. I'm a known troublemaker for the technical staff, (not me really, I'm friendly), it's just that the voice software, once loaded on my computer, gives sighted people fits when they try to work with it.

So I missed the BPH, once again. Drats!

I hope nobody minds me plagerizing the sky report that so many of you have contributed to the boodle much to my delight. I'm going to use a few of them as a backdrop to the paper roses that I plan on giving my wife for our anniversary. Hope it works out.

Oh yeah, Yogi, Happy anniversary!

time to get the kids off to school! check in later.

Posted by: Pat | September 20, 2006 7:32 AM | Report abuse

sparks, best I can recall, I've always been female...must be the fire department association, no? SLY are my initials; a colleague called me slyness and it stuck.

Sure, Jack! I may have to tag along for the fun of it. Email TBG at for my email address and give me a hollar.

Posted by: slyness | September 20, 2006 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm rather frustrated to report the attempts at transferring the phone photos to any other medium is going glacially. Even for me, the technophile!!! *pounding fist on desk* Haven't given up yet, though!!

Annie, SF, sorry I missed you!

*noting the beginnings of a weekend BPH thought in the back of my cavernous skull, and quieting down so as to not disturb the process*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 7:53 AM | Report abuse

When boodle-people have a Canadian bhp, all the boodle-pooches should have a playdate. Our Yoki knows an offleash area that is acres and acres if shortgrass prairie with wooded coolies. When we go there, Libby runs around and around all the other dogs and plays keepawy and tires everyone out and then goes into the woods to look for mud puddles. Broc stares intently into gopher holes and barks (a lot) to scare away the coyotes. Yeoman greets all the other dogs and their people because that's just the kind of dog he is.

What do Bernese Mountain Dogs say to Collies? "Why the long face?"

Posted by: yoki'sdogs | September 20, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Seems like Sen. Allen's off his bipolar meds again (front page)...

Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) said for the first time publicly yesterday that he has Jewish ancestry, a day after responding angrily to an exchange that included questions about his mother's racial sensitivity and whether his family has Jewish roots.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 8:03 AM | Report abuse

A Canadian BPH would be fun, unfortunately for me I live closer to DC than Alberta by a long shot.

Posted by: dmd | September 20, 2006 8:08 AM | Report abuse

It does seem to me that Sen Allen's reaction and response were designed to stir controversy. If he had just answered the question (was your grandfather Jewish?) calmly ("Why, yes, I just recently learned of that myself."), it wouldn't have been even a tiny blip on the radar screen.
Anyone else notice how his ads don't even mention Virginia? 2008 Presidential ads masquerading as 2006 Senatorial ads.
Headlines seem to be the goal.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 20, 2006 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Studio 60 got a write-up in WaPo today. It seems the numbers were good, not great. And worse, after about a half hour people started turning off in droves. Tom Shales's theory is that the most brain dead show on tv is not the best lead-in for the smartest.

Sorkin shows take effort since so little is ever summarized by Dr. Exposition. Here's my attempt:


The network hard-ass demanded a skit be pulled because it made fun of Christians. This made Judd Hirsch channel Peter Finch. The suit demanded that he be cut-off, but Alf's stepdad kept the camera rolling.

The eversexy Amanda Peet decided the best people to save the show would be Chandler, who was flying on 'shrooms his chiropractor gave him, and Josh Lyman, who does all the stuff Hamilton Jordan always denied.

Chandler used to bang Galinda until she sucked up to Pat Robertson. Ironic twist: She was supposed to be in the Christian-mocking skit that Chandler and Josh had written years ago but which had been plagiarized by the current head writers. The skit itself was never seen and probably never will be. It's one of those rules about shows-in-shows.

And least that is what I saw. YMMV.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 20, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton must know that many Americans still see him as the "Zen-Master" of politics and government and someone that can connect the dots when it comes to creating a working climate that facillitates the growth of the economy and personal income, history and the facts make this indisputable. He knew how to "throw a summit" on whatever the subject. That enthusiasm is sorely lacking in the higher echelons of power as this is typed. Catalysts of change, ideas....huh? Where are the leaders, those that would take up the reigns? Clinton had/ has the tools, yet he sits on the sidelines as the morass widens, thickens, darkens. Americas economic engine has a cracked manifold, the chassis is up on blocks, someone get ahold of a good mechanic, please.
There is no debate out of Congress, just those collecting a paycheck and that blessed pension and don't forget the health care package afforded our Congressional Representatives. And where is the return on our investment? Chatting it up about and over nothing of relevance. Oh Bill, won't you please come back.

Posted by: cookkenusa | September 20, 2006 9:03 AM | Report abuse

yeah, i really have no idea where that idea came from, slyness.

i think a boodle pooch day (poodle day? Booch day?) would be fun. of course, Lucky would never want to leave.

scottynuke, if you're still having problems, i can help you out.

Posted by: sparks | September 20, 2006 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I was dreaming Mudge. I thought I asked you to cook for me, one day when you were writing about food (which you do very well). The offer is open, Would you cook for me if I become a gozillionaire?

You would of course sensibly refuse because I am in a province that is as landlocked as you can get. Even the Arctic holds better chances of sailing than Alberta.

And then there is that whole gozillionaire thing...

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

If you want a quick and easy way to send a message to your Senators that you oppose legalizing torture, here you go:

Posted by: kbertocci | September 20, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Pat, this morning was definitely a fall day. The air was chilly and crackling. And when I arrived at the lake, the sun was announcing itself in a big way. Just peeping over the trees with rays so big and bright the trees, the lake, even the people walking seemed to turn and admire. The lake was smooth and glassy, with just a fringe of ripples around the banks. And in that brightness the green of the trees and the vegetation around the lake just drank in the light and one could feel the joy of that warmth. Oh, Pat, God is so good and His creations are wonders that never cease to amaze and stretch that sense of wonder and awe.

I'll shall be busy today talking about my favorite book in all the world, the Bible. Have a good day folks.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 20, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I caught the second half of Studio 60, and then later in the evening the caught the first half. Second half was way better and hopefully will be what the series will play like. It could be good, but right now I can say, its no Monk.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I lost interest in West Wing when it started moving round the schedule to fit in certain reality shows. I figure more than anything American Idolisation killed it.

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I am glad the BPH did not degenerate into bloodshed. We should be setting a good example for the world since I have it on good authority that there is an international audience for this blog far greater than many expect.

Yes, I am an American. It's in my job description.

I do have a huge soft spot for Canada though.

Gamara Rules.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 20, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

dr, I'd be delighted to become your household's personal chef, even up near the Arctic Circle where you live. Of course, I have something of an ulterior motive: if you become a gazillionaire, I assume you'll be rich enough to relocate your entire household (plus personal chef) to some tropical isle, Mexican resort, Riviera, Pacific paradise, etc., where they have both warmth and water. Please let me know the moment Ed McMahon arrives on your doorstep with the ten-million-dollar check from Publisher's Clearinghouse. In fact, call me the moment his car pulls up at the curb.

Wow, don't know about a lot of you boodlers. but on my screen at the moment the top Google ad is this:

George W. Bush
Should He Step Down As President? Vote Now To See Survey Results!

Yeah, like there's really a chance of *that* happening. I've got a better shot at becoming gazillionaire dr's chef.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I better get off my meds and kick this cold so I can keep up with the boodle again. A BPH was had, and I didn't even see anything about it until the recent reviews. Would not have been able to make it anyhow--between the cold and working late, too much stuff and not enough me. The autumn air is definitly pouring in. The sky right now consists of those big flattish cloud decks with patches of blue in between and the flags on the library are flapping pretty well.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 20, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey, just saw that one of my all-time fav mystery writers, Michael Connelly, is doing a chat today at 1 p.m.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

You are on, Mudge. There certainly has been disscussion on the topic of island purchases, exotic resort locales, but you may have to face an occasional high arctic summer or two. But only the nice weather parts. The disscussions take place under the guise of "Quarterpelegics", so named because they only are operating on a quarter of normal brain power. Wine only has a little to do with it.

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

FYI, I'll post a kit later today. I need to talk about the Arianna book party last night. "On Becoming Fearless" is the book. More here:

I hope everyone checks out the Michael Connelly chat at 1.

Blog item about him in May 2005:

Posted by: Achenbach | September 20, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "to work on a race car".

Geez, you'd think I could hold off the mistakes longer than the first full sentence.

Feh upon me.


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

September 19th: Sirius Rising.

I was not actually at that most unPiratical of events - a cosmetics party - last night, but went to a friend's to work on race car for an event next month.

When I arrived at my friend's house, he had just arrived home from the Emergency Vet hospital. His dog had been attacked on his property by a couple of local dogs that were running loose, and had been injured quite severely. Sadly, these same dogs also attacked the next door neighbor's dog, which was so gravely injured that it had to be put to sleep.

Anyway, I helped him get his dog (a reasonably large mixed breed, about 12 years old) inside and settled, but she was licking the stints and stitches, so I suggested that he get a protective collar for the dog to allow the wounds to heal (and the antibiotics to work) without the poor thing accidentally causing further injury or hampering the healing process.

So I suggested he go to the pet store and said that I'd keep the dog company while he was gone. After my friend left, I sat with the dog while she lay down, speaking softly and stroking her gently until she fell asleep. As I watched her breathing slow into a gentle susurrus, I couldn't help but think about the folks next door who'd lost their pet, and the other neighbors who were going to face charges over the incidents. A sad situation all around.

Soon enough, my friend came home, and we put the collar on, speaking praise and reassurance to the dog. He gave her some meds wrapped in turkey cold cuts, which put a little smile on the dog's face. A wry one, I think. The dog went back to sleep as the meds took effect, and we went out to the garage to work, knowing that my friend's daughter would be home soon and would keep an eye on the dog.

About an hour and a half later, the daughter came out to the garage, asking us to look at the dog's right front leg, as it appeared to be swelling. The dog was shaking a little bit when she put weight on it and not smiling even after a little bit of ham. After a quick consultation with the Vet's office, we put the dog back into the car for x-rays. I went home and gave my dogs some extra attention as I let them out into the yard for the last potty trip of the night, particularly the oldest one. She's 15, and requires more and more frequent visits to the vet.

As I waited for the dogs to finish their business, I scanned the night sky as I often do, this time searching for Canis Major in the southeast. Then I remembered that during the Dog Days of summer, Sirius didn't rise until closer to dawn.

I found myself wryly smiling as I recalled that Canis Major and Sirius are harbingers of fall and winter in the night sky.


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

beautiful, bc.

Years ago, I was walking the dog and we were ambushed by a pack of about four other dogs running loose. Theye were an oddly mismatched gang led by some sort of boxer. I kicked the dogs away, but one did get ahold of my dog. He ran all the way home and cowered in his crate. The skin wasn't broken and there was no bleeding so we didn't go to the vet. All the scars were psychic.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 20, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Kristin Chenoweth is only 4'11". Wow, I had no idea as I've never watched WW. I do know she sings, but her voice sounds a little funny to me. Kind of like a little girls.


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Been a real pain at work lately. People here are actually expecting me to do stuff. Finally catch up to learn there was a pirate BPH last evening and I missed it. Double damn. I mean I heard a couple mentions of it, but thought the first mention, by a lurker, was just a joke, and the second was just asking if it were true. Didn't think it would actually happen less than three weeks after the last one, which I also missed. Triple damn.

Posted by: omni | September 20, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Padouk: "Gamara Rules" ?????

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow bc... being able to SCC yourself BEFORE you post is quite remarkable.

Nice stuff about the dogs, too. Hope your neighbor's dog is OK.

Posted by: TBG | September 20, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

TBG, you beat me to it... bc's mastered the wormhole!

*faxin' a Wormhole Rider certificate to bc*

I also hope the dog's OK.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse


I agree with RD, Gamara Rules.

A giant rocket-powered flying turtle that befriends kids, but seems to misbehave in Tokyo every so often. Sorta like Lindsay Lohan.

What's not to like?


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Gamerra, Mudge -- the Flying Turtle. From the Godzilla movies! I love the old Godzilla movies and have rigorously instilled this in the Boy. What they could do with a little plastic, a rubber suit and some golf balls . . .

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 20, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"TBG, you beat me to it... "

Not necessarily, given the nature of the Achenrift/wormhole.

How do you know the thought you just had isn't a thought that hasn't actually happened yet?

Posted by: Dooley | September 20, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, let me try the Wormhole Rider tactic out here....


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I'll try again.

Engage, 11:11 AM


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

The problem is, I have no idea who, what or where Gamara is/was/will be. I gather from your post, bc, that it is some sort of Japanese sci-fi thing? I googled it, but got nothing comprehensible, just a bio of some soccer player. Spelling it gamarra was no better. I tried gemarrah, but already knew what that was, but that made even less sense than some soccer player I never heard of.

Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, I recognize. Unfortunately.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Ok, once more, 11:13.



Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Here you go, Mudge-san.


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Apparently it is spelled Gamera--no wonder. OK, found it. This appears to be from the late 60s, so it had slipped past my radar screen by that time. I was no longer watching Japanese monster flicks by then, and was visualizing giant flying turtles all by myself for completely different reasons during that period.

I remember Godzilla and Mothra, and that's about it. Then it Ganja. No, don't look him up in your Japanese filmography compendium.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

so sad about the dogs! i think one of the worst things is having to decide to put your pet down (outside of losing a human friend/family member of course) - the guilt associated is enormous!

as for islands - panama has a bunch as islands (actual whole islands!) for sale! there's one for sale for less than $500,000!!!!

Posted by: mo | September 20, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

For all of you curious about the lurking terrapin...

bc: Sorry to hear of your friend's dog...didnt read you entire post; I hope the rest of the evening wasn't a wash.

Posted by: jack | September 20, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Having to contend with off-leash dogs being aggressive to my dog is a nightmare for me. However I find that most dog-aggressive dogs aren't people-aggressive, so I just try and make sure they go through me first. If they bite me, at least I can sue and get a 911 call in. My dog, no such protection.

Surprisingly, after being jumped by an elderly weinmaraner and being charged by 2 aggressive labs, he's actually doing better focusing around dogs. I think he realized I can be counted on to handle dogs for him if he lets me know.
I am CERTAIN he once baited a dog-aggressive female lab to run into my waiting hands by just going over and having the lab charge him, running back to me and dodging to the left of me at the last possible minute, too late for the lab to turn around once she saw me. She skidded into me, and I grabbed her collar and returned her to the owner. The owner decided playtime was over for her, and we had the place to ourselves.

Did he plan it just that way? I'm not so sure he didn't.

However, we met an unstable Presa Canario puppy-- only 13 weeks old, that had something wrong with it, absolutely no ability to behave like a normal dog-- no submissive signals, no anxiety signals, no curiosity, no playfulness. Just this tense, withdrawn body with a hard stare. My dog broke a stay to rush to me, then I saw he was herding it off me, and then it growled at him (and at me, apparently.).

This breed is known as a "manstopper" and it's the breed that killed Diane Whipple and another woman in florida recently was killed by her own Presa Canario when bathing him. The woman said it'd be 180 lbs. I then told her MY dog was 74 lbs. "He's big."

Well... yeah, why do you need a 180 lb dog that is never gonna be good around strangers, other dogs, or little furry animals for? Protection? That dog can and will kill you when it's full grown if it doesn't like what you do. Fat protection it will be.

You'd be better off getting a yappy watchdog and a GSD together. I hear DC is considering a pit bull ban because of the dogfighting issue. I'm worried Presa Canarios will be the next "in" breed, and those dogs ain't no pit bulls. If they gotta ban, they need to keep the laws open to ban any larger breeds that may be shipped in for dogfighting instead.

I'd rather face down a pitbull than a Presa Canario (they go for the jugular.)

Oh, Bc and yellojkt, you gotta tell me which town(s) to avoid with my dog. Thanks!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Okay, everyone. First State Fair Report. Joel, you should do a State Fair article. If there aren't any good ones back East, have the Post send you out here. Oklahoma puts on a great State Fair. The Boy & I went yesterday evening. We didn't have a lot of time so went right for the Midway. He won several small stuffed animals playing darts. Until this year I've only let him do darts games because he can always win something, but this year I let him try one of the ball-in-a-tub booths, so he'd see they AREN'T easy and it is possible to lose money and win nothing. Ah, the cruelties of life at ten.

Although the Boy is very conservative when it comes to iron rides, he went out on a limb this year. We went on a roller coaster (short but satisfingly swoopy) and something that has little carriages connected in a line and goes around very fast -- lots of centrifugal force -- but no up & down motion or spinning. Wheee!

At the Pirate Ship show, we saw a woman pirate dive into a small tank of water from an impossible height, then another pirate got set on fire and jumped in. Golly. That was right next to the giant Percheron draft horses, who remained unimpressed.

We also enjoyed watching the people, particularly on the Midway. A true cross-section of Oklahoma comes to the fair. Even though it was evening it was a weekday and the crowd was pretty tame. Lots of OU shirts.

It was a lovely clear evening, the sky went from blue to translucent dusk, with cool air and an intermittent light breeze. From the top of the roller coaster, when I briefly opened my eyes, you could see the Midway spread out. There was a riot of color and lights just begninning to come on as the sun drifted down.

A corn dog and lemonade were ceremonially consumed. We also visited the Agtropolis, an astonishly clean building with live farm animal exhibits, fun facts, a scavenger hunt, and helpful teenagers. We enjoyed seeing chickens hatch in the incubators, fancy chickens and rabbits, pigs with fluffy ears, and friendly cows, without the smell and clutter of the animal exhibit buildings (though I like those too). Agtropolis also has an exhibition vet surgery, where you can actually see various operations performed at certain times, and a mock news studio where kids can be on camera. A great idea.

We're going back to see everything else this weekend. Besides, the Boy wouldn't let me near the winery tent.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 20, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I distinctly recall Godzilla using Gamera as a frisbee in one movie. I'm sorry to say, however, that I don't recall Gamera making it into the be-all and end-all of Japanese monster movies, "Destroy All Monsters." The only reason I can think of is that they had to make room for Baby Godzilla.

I am such a geek-san.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that sounds like major fun, the way childhood ought to be! Look forward to the report from the winery tent...

Posted by: slyness | September 20, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, the fine film "Destroy All Monsters" has been desecrated with a video game of the same name. By all accounts it is great fun -- you get to be one monster and destroy others. Poor Tokyo gets it every time.

When the Boy was learning to read we enjoyed the classic children's picture books, "Monster Island" and "Mothra". I love that movie, too -- especially the little singing women. Okay, everyone, let's sing the Mothra song together. Oh, come on, you do too know it.

Posted by: Ivasnmom | September 20, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse


The Mothra song can only be sung in an octave that, for me, would require serious rewiring to even attempt. Such rewiring is not on my to-do list.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The Gamera reference goes back to a brief exchange of posts Jack and I had last night. I pointed out that I have very fond memories of all those Japanese Monster movies. Alas, they have not held up too well. After you have seen CGI, a Japanese guy in a suit just doesn't illicit the same thrills. But it's still way cool though.

Though not as cool as Gigantor the Space Aged Robot..

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 20, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, one of the unexpected privileges of parenting has been the chance to revive my own childhood by participating in the Boy's. I never would have thought I'd try to rollerblade (successfully) or skateboard (oops) after I turned 40. Learning new tricks and playing are worth the sleep deprivation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 20, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Or Racer X.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 20, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

ivansmom, great suggestion for the Achentopic. You did a good job of reminding me how important the fair was to people back home--even though the original reason for the fair is largely irrelevant now (although, less so in Oklahoma than some other places) the excitement is a tradition, and it's at the beginning of the school year so it's an important social event for kids of all ages. But I'm sure Achenbach could do a wonderful State Fair article/column/kit. Joel, heads up: tax-deductible family outing alert!!

Re: dogs. Hm. I have always liked dogs, but my attitude now illustrates the cliche, "once bitten, twice shy." A couple of years ago I was bitten pretty badly by a dog ON A LEASH. It was the weirdest thing. The dog had already sniffed me and I was just chatting with her owner, who was holding the leash. No tension in the air, no warning whatsoever. The dog walked away from me and then just came back and made one pass and took a bite out of my leg on the way by, like a shark. I needed staples, a drain tube, antibiotics, and a tetanus shot. I was in pain for weeks and have a lifetime scar. I no longer tolerate dogs within biting distance of me unless we are well-acquainted.

What I find excruciatingly ironic is that Florida has this NRA-sponsored law that says if you feel threatened by a person, it's okay to shoot him--but there is no comparable permission for dogs.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 20, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

And you have to admit, Godzilla wasn't even particularly shaped right in the head to be a T-rex. So these movies really don't hold up so good. Of course, we can't expect Jurassic park thrills... ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The boy wouldn't let you near the winery tent? C'mon, ivansmom--you gotta file a writ of mandamus on his little butt.

A state fair! Wow, I haven't been to one of those since I was about 12, but I remember it vividly to this day. My folks took my brother and me to the Pennsylvania State Fair, which was held in Kutztown [proper pronunciation note and sidebar: Kutztown is about 40 or so miles from Philly, but is in Berks County iside the edge of the Penna Dutch/Amish zone of the state. Kutztown is properly pronounced Kutz-tahn by the locals, as in "Yah, diss iss Kutztahn und velcome you are."] [I believe it was the PSF, although nowadays Kutztown has its own fair every year, so maybe it wasn't the Penn state fair after all. But it was great.]

It was my first major introduction to "foreign" foods (no slur intended): pierogis, halupkies, real Penna Dutch cooking, Polish cooking, you name it. The smells were wonderful, the small booths and tents with food vendors were wonderful. I was a little reluctant to try some of the "strange" stuff, but had what turned out to be the single greatest ham sandwich in my life. I know it sounds weird, but this ham sandwich was unparalleled. There was this little Penna Dutch stand, and that's about all they made--ham sandwiches. They were served on snowflake rolls, and the ham was shaved on a slicer to the thinness of onion-skin typing paper. You needed a micrometer is measure its thickness (or lack of thickness, in this case). You could almost read through it. But it was stacked up about two or three inches deep. It was to die for, and it has ruined me ever since for "ordinary" boiled ham, especially pre-packaged stuff.

And of course there were funnel cakes, made right before your eyes, and caramel popcorn, and a thousand other new experiences.

I've been addicted to Penna Dutch cooking (they serve potato salad warm or even hot, which was mind-blowing the first time I had it) ever since--it ain't fancy, and you'll never find it served on some chi-chi nouvelle cuisine cooking show. But oh...........

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Ladies and Gentlemen, Exhibit A: the esteemed Curmudgeon, overcome with memories of a single fair, visited millenia ago. A testament to the power of the State Fair. I ask you all to search your hearts and minds for your own fair memories. Then run to the nearest State Fair with your children and grandchildren, to enjoy the magic. I rest my case.

On our honeymoon Ivansdad & I went to a county fair somewhere in Canada, in a little town west of Stratford on the border of some Lake (Huron?). They had a great Ferris wheel.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 20, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Your talk of Japanese monsters reminds me of an action figure my nephew got one Christmas. His name was Stinkor (a He-Man character).

Someone said, "What planet is he from?"

Without hesitation, my father said, "I think he's from Uranus."

Posted by: TBG | September 20, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Amen to state/county fairs. I've only visited 1-2 so far. One wasn't impressive, but the state fair in Oregon was-- piglet racing for oreos, art shows, food, livestock, etc. This area has some fine county fairs, I hear, but never been out to see 'em.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I am imagining dog-owners taking umbrage at the idea of shooting a dog and want to be very clear that I'm not in favor of shooting any of God's creatures, but especially not people.

Thinking in this defensive mode, I was reminded of a strange phenomenon that illustrates how much of a "dog person" I am. When I buy cat food, I feel self-conscious; I feel like I'm giving people the wrong idea about what kind of person I am. I want to say, "It's for my daughter's cat! It's not my cat." In fact, this is a true story that just happened yesterday: I was in the store and needed to buy cat food but didn't know what aisle it was on, and I asked the cashier, "where is the dog food?" knowing the cat food would be next to it. I laughed at myself, it was such a funny kind of dishonesty, not wanting anyone to think I was a "cat person"--or, worse, a "cat lady."

And now, I can rest assured that I've insulted both dog lovers AND cat lovers.

I better just get back to work.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 20, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Been to both the Montgomery and Frederick County Fairs recently... Ahhhhh, funnel cake.

But make sure you enjoy such treats well before admiring all the fine livestock displays. *L*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

That's an nasty incident, Kb.

Signs of anxiety and tension in dogs can be actually much subtler than people think. Just a yawning, avoiding looking at you, ears back, tail down (anxiety, fear)... or worst yet a stare at you.

A dog that initates an encounter then walks away from somebody after a sniff/greet is basically doing a power move on ya, basically saying "hey, talk to the tail."

That's one reason why I don't like people petting my dog without permission, you would be amazed at how many people will pet a dog that is obviously misbehaving, shooting his manners to blazes.

I just can't trust people who think a dog is friendly when it is in fact trying to establish dominance.

I had to teach my dog that this was not acceptable as a young dog to approach people for a sniff and then walk away-- this was in his "testing his limits" age. He's a good dog oh yes, but I can't slack off just because he knows the rules now.

I also realized that my dog needs to be down or sitting by my side if I am chatting, or otherwise standing calmly.

I also was lunged at by a dog that was acting restless. He took one sniff and lunged at me. The damn owner said he was only playing. I wanted to shoot the owner, not the dog, though.

Well I have many reasons not to go to Florida, and you added another one for me. ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I'd feel as ashamed to be seen as a "cat lady" as you are, Kb. although I really don't even think of most catowners as "cat people" unless they own more than 1-2 cats and have lots of tins with names such as fancy feast etc. that seems to add up to far more than my dogfood costs for a dog that's 6 times a cat's weight.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

hey now wilbrod! my dearly departed Gomez was a very very picky eater and would only eat fancy feast! (i bought it in bulk at costco to keep the cost down) i'm not a big fan of the wet food but he was introduced to it during a stay at the vets (after he was attacked during halloween - he was an all black cat - shocker, i know, ME having a black cat) and refused to eat his dry food from then on...

thankfully, aristotle eats his dry food just fine and is not the slightest bit picky...

Posted by: mo | September 20, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel!

Can you use your vast influence at the Post to get the Achenblog on the new wireless

I mean who really cares about high school football scores? I want to Boodle on my phone.

[Takes cover from heaps of umbrage]

Posted by: TBG | September 20, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

One of the worst things about being away at school is not having my dog around. I mean, you can talk to family and friends on the phone and email and stuff, but you can't talk to your dog. I love running on the trails close to my school because I almost always meet other runners or walkers with dog(s) in tow, so I get my dog fix that way. Not the same though.

Posted by: tangent | September 20, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Back to torture. A good while back the FBI was in charge of interrogating people suspected of having ties to, or being, terrorists. (Sorry, I lost the article on this) They were getting a lot of good information, but for some reason were pulled off the detail and replaced by The Company, which promptly employed its methods, think torture. No more viable or valuable information was forthcoming from the prisoners.

Apparently the FBI was furious about the whole incident particularly because they were on the verge of getting some really important stuff. (I have yet to read ANYTHING written by professional counterintelligence agents in support of torture if its information you're after.)

Posted by: felicity | September 20, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, umbrage from the kitty owner! I guess Gomez was short for Gomez Addams, right?

Actually many leading vets think that dry cat food is too carb-rich and addictive for cats and it can lead to obesity and diabetes in kitties, so nothing wrong with serving wet cat food.

You kind of knew what I meant, though. Why do cats get all those fancy toys anyway? ;).

Someday we'll have a top 10 list of "how to know when cats have taken your life over."
1-10: You own a cat. And you ENJOY it. ;).

You can clicker-train a cat, BTW... cats don't do well with negative punishment (other than being sprayed with water), but they sure will work well for food and by some accounts they have no shame about doing anything to get some food.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no one has commented yet on Samuelson's article about blogging:

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 20, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

My $0.02 re the dogs issue (so those uninterested in dogs can skip) -- it is so easy for those of us who love dogs (or Canine Americans, to use the preferred term) to lose sight of the fact that not everyone does.

I am with Mo, in her estimation that having to put down a dearly loved dog when he's sick or injured is one of the hardest things a person can ever have to do.

But even harder, I think, is to do the right thing and put down a perfectly healthy animal if he has a history of aggression. A neighbor of mine had a dog with a history of aggression towards other dogs. She tried everything: always keeping him on leash, intensive training, sufficient exercise, you name it. It got better, but he still had incidents.

When he bit my neighbor's toddler nephew, however, it was game over. That was his last night on Earth.

The guilt and grief that my friend felt was pretty overwhelming. But she did the right thing. Too many other owners of irredeemably aggressive dogs refuse to, and although I am normally not a big fan of human-relations-via-lawsuit, those people must be held accountable.

bc, I will keep your friend's dog in my thoughts today. I am glad you were on the spot to help.

Posted by: annie | September 20, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else kinda picture the space shuttle dragging around a little piece of toilet paper on its shoe?

Or maybe like bc describes his cat and the string it sometimes eats?

Posted by: TBG | September 20, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse


Perhaps we haven't beacuse its only connection to us is the word "blog?" I mean, I don't see a whole lot of exhibitionism here. Healthy sharing, sure!


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 20, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Dog-dog aggression doesn't always mean aggression to people, but toddlers are at particular risk with dog-aggressive dogs since they are too easily perceived as another dog rather than a person.

I'm on an aggressive dogs support group (just to observe), and I must say quite a few people do a lot once they realize they have a problem. They simply don't have the background in dog behavior to succeed without help. So they get help. However most dog trainers suck at really addressing dog-aggression problems.

The vet should be the first stop for any warning signs of aggression. Hypothyroidism and some other maladies can make a dog really short-tempered, bark/growl for brief periods of time (even bite) just to end the stressing encounter.

Loss of sound or sight can also make a dog much more anxious and thus on edge against any threats.

However, most dangerous or lethal dog bites are due to irreponsible owners who knowingly keep the dog in an environment ill-suited for it, even after known incidents of biting people or killing other dogs.

I believe in one thing: bite inhibition. If you teach it properly as a puppy, the dog knows not to snap at a person in play.

A dog with GOOD bite inhibition is that much less likely to go to the teeth no matter what it is feeling, although it doesn't treat aggression from other causes (fear, dominance aggression).

I also believe in another thing: training, not to keep the dog under control, but to increase the bond between owner and animal, and to teach the owner to read signs of stress.

Too many dogs bite kids because the kid is allowed to pester the dog nonstop and the kid or toddler is not aware of the dog's body language, and thus bites happen.
Also, a screaming and charging toddler looks to a smaller dog exactly like it is attacking.

It is always best never to leave kids under the age of 8 or 10 and dogs alone together even for a few minutes.
How's your dog going to tell the kid he's out of line?
How's your dog going to protect itself against a kid determined to drag it or do things to it?

I hated to do it, but I asked the mother of a boy dragging a young poodle puppy around the store that she needs to put a harness on the puppy, not a collar, and not let the boy walk the dog alone and he is just not old enough to know everything about dogs yet.

That dog should not have been 1) around the toddler and 2) been safely crated or in a room where he would not have been disturbed or 3) put in a lie-down stay and 4) the owner removed the dog when it seemed aroused or afraid.

Almost any small dog will snap to defend itself from a toddler even without any prior aggression history. My dog loves my toddler nephew, but my nephew has hit him on several occasions.

Now, he's a big dog and those smacks don't do him harm-- but I always stop my nephew because that is unacceptable behavior to dogs.

Once he delibrately smacked my dog after he bent over my dog as he was lying on his back, and a paw caught him as my dog got up. OW.
I told him as best as I could, don't bend over a dog on his back, that will get you a paw in the stomach.

As a matter of fact, when a dog is on its back it's often NOT asking for a tummy rub and is begging for its space from a overly dominant person or dog.

Little dogs just won't stand the abuse from toddlers bigger dogs can. This is why you don't see shelters and rescues rushing to adopt little dogs with families with toddlers.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Sure Scottynuke, sure. I really like his last line, almost JA worthy but not quite.

"Thoreau famously remarked that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thanks to technology, that's no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try."

Samuel Pepys had a diary, we have blogging. And then there was Mr. Brown whose diary's Queen Victoria burned. In century's to come, just think about what they are going to think about people around the year 2000. We should be very afraid.

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

TBG..I read Verne's 'Round the Moon' a few months back, and keep picturing the dog that didn't survive take-off, aptly named Satellite. But they're saying it looks to be two rings and a piece of foil, so a better mental picture might be some old pop-tops and a hot dog wrapper (proof that there are baseball fans everywhere).

Posted by: LostInThought | September 20, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I've taken my kids to the same county fairs Scottynuke's been to.

They're fun, but my favorite county fair memories are more about participation than about Observation.

Demolition Derby.

There, I said it.


Posted by: bc | September 20, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Scroll down to Day 127 to get a good look at a 2 1/2 year old boy with a puppy.

Notice the threatening look, posture. And the text as to what the boy was doing, and what the trainer did to resolve the situation-- obedience and SUPERVISION.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The best fair I have ever been to is the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida every February. It's waaay better than the Maryland State Fair and it has great strawberry shortcakes.

I could watch the guys make cinnamon buns all day long. And the smell is intoxicating.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 20, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Read the Samuelson column. What Scottynuke said.

I mean, I take Samuleson's point: there's a lot of posturing and point-scoring and attention-seeking in the blogosphere. But there are blogs and then there are blogs. It's like TV. Someone once said that 90% of TV is crap, to which someone else supposedly replied, "Yes, but 90% of *everything* is crap." 90% of books are crap. Hands up, who's anti-book?

Thought so.

What I really love and appreciate about the boodle is precisely the fact that there are no tiresome show-off oversharers, and that there *are* a lot of smart, thoughtful, kind, and oh yes VERY FUNNY contributors. I always learn something new and interesting every time I drop in, whether about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of torture, the status of Pluto, body language of dogs, whatever. And I always get *at least* one out-loud, snort-enhanced, total-body chuckle.

So I say: hooray for us.

This is not to pretend that this blog is free from its own dark motivations.

I refer, of course, to work avoidance.

Posted by: annie | September 20, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

It's a tin can with Major Tom inside singing the blues...hehe

Posted by: omni | September 20, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Moveable Type eating my coment again. Grr.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Moveable Type eating my comment again. Grr.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I thought you didn't have a dog?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

oh man. i missed so much, just by being out for the morning. here goes:

Fairs: i love the fair. i usually enter the baking contest in the MoCo Fair, but not this year. I'm disappointed, because apparently there's an article in WaPo today about it, and they interviewed a bunch of people. (not sure if it was montgomery or somewhere else, they just said county fairs). the best thing about the fair is definitely carnie food. the most decadent of all carnie treats: fried oreos. usually they serve them in a set of 6. the most i have ever eaten at once is 4, and i have a stomach with an iron will.

ham sandwiches: the best place to get a ham sandwich is at robertson's off exit 200 on I-40 in oklahoma. It is the only thing i like about driving through oklahoma (no offense, ivansmom, i think i just always end up doing it on days with terrible weather or traffic). the billboards just say "robertson's ham sandwiches and beef jerky", and man are they good.

Dogs: I love dogs. i have a GSD/Husky who's about 9 months old, and about 65 pounds. he's smart as a whip, which unfortunately means he knows that he doesn't have to do what i say. he's usually really good, but sometimes he'll run off and refuse to come when called. does anyone know how to fix this problem?

I was once (almost) bitten by a rottweiler. i was working with hurricane dogs in mississippi, and we were cleaning out a kennel, and the dog, which had, by all accounts, never been anything but friendly, started growling at me, so i put out my hand to let him sniff at me, and he tried to bite me. when i pulled my hand back, he lunged for my groin. needless to say, i got out of that kennel as quick as i could. he tore a 4 inch gash in my favorite pair of jeans, but didn't manage to get his teeth in me. i have never been particularly comfortable around rottis or pit bulls, and that event cemented my feelings on rottweilers, but working there helped me get over my prejudice against pit bulls, many of whom are absolute sweethearts, and only really dog aggressive (which is why they are used for dogfighting).

only one more dog story, i promise! when i was in austin texas, i met a girl with an anatolian shepherd dog mix (i don't remember the other breed) that weighed 125 lbs (it was 6 mos. at the time) she said the vet thought it was going to double that by the time it was done growing, which i find a little difficult to believe, but that dog was already really big; i can't imagine trying to control a dog much bigger than that.

Posted by: sparks | September 20, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

My aunt used to have a very small dog, which she claimed would not hurt a fly, but which barked like mad and growled while flashing it little pointy teeth at you when you dared set foot on her porch (yes a real actual porch, slamming screen door and all).

I have a cat.

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

i have had many cats. i've lived with a total of 6, and loved all of them, but nothing gives you perspective on cats like taking care of feral cats, and taking care of tame rats. cats and rats are remarkably similar. cute, clean, and affectionate when they're tame, but let them live in the wild, and they're nasty, terrified (sp?) of people, diseased, dirty, and quite likely to attack if cornered.

Posted by: sparks | September 20, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

When I was a kid the highlight of the year was the Western Washington Fair, or, as we natives called it, the Puyallup Fair. Local schools would let out early on "Fair Day" and hundreds of students, armed with complimentary tickets and earnings from a myriad of summer jobs, would descend upon the fairgrounds and stay until they set off the fireworks after the grandstand show. It was a place where you could see a beehive behind glass. You get close enough to a llama to actually smell it. You could buy ice cream made from milk that was guaranteed fresh because you could see it being harvested in a glass-lined stall. There was a wooden roller coaster, and, way back before the fire, the legendary Old Mill ride. You could get Fair Burgers pile high with fried onions, and the ultimate in recreational eating - Fisher Raspberry Scones, for which people have been known to wait in line for nearly an hour. It was, of course, where romances bloomed and romances ended. Oh the thrill of walking hand in hand with a girl, especially if some of your friends saw you. It was a wonderful magical place the likes of which I have never found again.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 20, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Actually we had dogs when I was a kid, and I would not mind one now. But dogs need a whole lot more attention than a cat.

One of our dogs was named Honey, and she used to love to follow us down the country roads as we biked about. There was a gent at the side of the road one time,a friend's dad, with hood raised on his vehicle. The darn dog, went over and was jumping on the poor fellow, so naturally I called to the dog. Trust me, calling 'here Honey' was not one of my finer moments.

Posted by: dr | September 20, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

wilbrod - very good advice! i got bit on the face by a dog as a child - yes, it was my fault... the dog sitting was my height (can't remember what kind of dog - maybe a shephard) and i kept messing with his face - his opened his mouth and (from what i remember) gently snapped at me, but considering his open mouth was as big as my head, as his positioning, he managed to put a gash in my face around my left eyebrow... all my mother saw was blood and rushed me to the hospital - i don't remember if i had stiches - the owner felt so so bad and bought me ice cream (but really truely it was my fault and the dog really truely wasn't trying to hurt me)

i LOVE LOVE LOVE rotties!!!! i know they can seem dangerous but trust me when i say they are the biggest love bugs in the world! i had a friend who had three of them and they were the sweetest creatures EVER! (even sweeter than my kitten aristotle!)

Posted by: mo | September 20, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

(Trying again)

This just in:

Greenwire -- Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Calif. judge reinstates Clinton roadless rule

Dan Berman, Greenwire senior reporter

In a major, sweeping decision, a federal judge in California today reinstated Clinton-era protections of 58.5 million acres of national forests.
Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco sided with four Democratic attorneys general and 20 environmental groups in reinstating the Clinton rule and throwing out the Bush administration's roadless petition plan. The Clinton rule put 58.5 million acres of national forest off-limits to roadbuilding, logging and other development.

OK, now the other thing I've been trying to post:

Good point about 90% of everything being crap, annie. I read the Samuelson piece and thinks it's generally overblown. Yes, it is a new form of social networking, yes it is electronic, and yes, the numbers are staggering but social networking itself isn't new by any means; it is an integral part of the human condition. It isn't much different than the establishment of coffeehouses in London in the 18th century, or people hanging around tap rooms and beer halls, or a couple of housewives chatting over the backyard fence as they hang up their laundry. They tell stories, show off pictures of their kids, vent, complain, hope, brag, posture, make up funny stories, tell inappropriate jokes, exchange information and gossip. Been going on for oh, as long as I've been alive, around 1,300 or 1,400 years or more. And my granddad used to tell me about the same thing going on in Sumer. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (I invented that cliche about 600 years ago, and it got raves, back before all the rest of you started stealing it and wearing it out.)

I see that Loomis and I both got Michael Connelly to respond to our questions.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Anatolian shepherd dogs? I don't think they go 250 lbs, they generally do average out at 110 lbs to 150. My dog at 9 months basically was 80%-90% of his full adult weight. The other breed mix must have been an English mastiff, a newfoundland, or a saint bernard or something like that.

Here's how I solved the "run away/refuse to come." Number one, train a recall offleash using the 4 D's, verbal praise and treats/pets etc

Distance-- start close and gradually lengthen the distance once a dog reliably comes at a specific distance.
Duration-- your dog has to stick in front of you to get his treat. No "run-past recalls"). The obedience standard is that the dog comes and sits in front of you. The dog doesn't sit just far enough to make you move to give you his treat. He moves, not you.
Distraction-- you'll see Matt Margolois and some other trainers swing a leg over the dog and other distracting movements. They always praise the dog after every distraction the dog obeys through. This is key-- don't expect your dog to endure new distractions without any reinforcement.
Diversity-- different environments

Difference-- different order of command, different body position, etc, difference in any of all the other 4 D's. That is when you know a command is proofed.

Note that a recall that is good at 10 yards can fall apart at 50 yards. Dogs don't see you very well from a distance if you're not moving, so this is part of the problem. Always use very large, moving signals for a recall or use something like a whistle for distance-- shouting is hard to do with the positive tone you want.

You must train every D separately in every recall you do-- you can't expect, in one lesson, or even 100 lessons, to teach your dog to learn how to recall past 10 rabbits, over hill and dale, 1/4 mile and then brake in front of you and stay as long as you need on the first try, and have that be reliable. It ain't gonna happen, especially with a young dog.

Now to training the basic recall: your body language can throw a bright dog off. A little lean, an implication you might grab at the dog, and the dog wants to play keep-away.

Again, you do not play keep-away. I followed this rule and my dog would start bounding away trying to get me chase him whenever my leash dropped, After a while he'd bound only a few strides and then come back. Eventually in many situations he would act like the leash didn't even drop.

Just remember a young dog needs his ya-yas out, and it's sometimes better to ignore it and then ask for a recall when he's ready. This will improve the odds he will comply, and thus feed the habit of obeying willingly better. Carrying treats whenever he may be off leash is also a good idea.

What can you do, when in despite of all your efforts your dog gets loose and seems determined to chase rabbits to kingdom come, and you know there is no likelihood he will recall?

Not much. What you can do is NOT chase the dog. You can turn your back on your dog and walk away in the dead opposite direction.

This communicates to your dog that you are not interested in rabbits and as pack leader you're going to go somewhere else. Almost any well-bonded dog will eventually run up to you (and usually past you, if you don't have any treats).

I usually ask for a sit or a down in that circumstances because he is very proofed on those commands. Even if he won't come to me, he will hold a sit and I can go up to him and leash him.

My dog is not perfect on the recall, but when he refuses, it's a signal to me he wants me to follow him for something, generally when he grabs non-toys. Last night we came home, his bowl was half-full and I went to sit down in another room. He came in with a roll of papertowels which he knows he's not allowed to use as a chew toy. He's looking for attention. I get up (score!) call him over for paper towel removal and he goes and leads me to his food bowl which is now empty. Aha! He's also grabbed paper in plain sight of me and bolted and then refused to retrieve it, making me get up and go look-- to find it neatly dropped next to a big pile of drool next to his bed that he wanted cleaning up for.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

My St. Bernard causes some difficulty for me around strange dogs on occasion. When she has been boarded at the vet, they always comment on how friendly she is to people and other dogs. With us, she does well with people (unless they come to our door), but with strange dogs she'll sometimes give a low, throaty growl and strain at her leash (but never snap or show teeth).

Very occasionally, she'll do this as a genuine threat (if the strange dog is overly attentive to one of us, especially my son, she's not happy). But generally, her behavior really is initiating play--we have two dogs, and our neighbor has two, and the four of them love to wrestle each other.

But now she now thinks this is an appropriate way to greet a new dog (she's not necessarily the brightest).

Unfortunately, what the other dog sees is not an oversized puppy looking to romp around, but a 130 lb. shaggy beast that's growling at them. They get scared (understandably), and their reaction scares her, and she has to be lead away. Sometimes, even if she doesn't growl, the other dog (and their owners) will get scared just at the sight of such a big dog. Fortunately, she listens well to instructions from Mrs. D. and me, so things never get out of hand.

We deal with this by trying to keep her out of situations that could lead to escalating threats. If another dog comes around, I take her leash--I don't think she would ever disobey me or Mrs. D., but if she tried, I'm strong enough (and heavy enough!) to control her.

On the plus side, constant training and positive reinforcement has greatly improved her behavior. Typically, she doesn't growl anymore, unless the other dog acts threatening in some way.

Posted by: Dooley | September 20, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Uh, is anybody else uncomfortable with this WaPo headline caption: "First Lady Playing a Major Role on World Stage"?? I mean, all she's doing is hosting some sort of seminar. Is that "playing a major role"??? She replacing John Bolton or something?? Making policy decisions? Invading Paraguay?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

And, oh always praise a recall. Never use a short blunt tone of voice, always be happy your dog came back, even if you are really ticked off at him for running off-- remember, he came back when you called. Don't ruin that.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 20, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

New kit!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 20, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Feel free to repost some of these comments on the new kit. I hate to interrupt like this.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 20, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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