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Science Thursday

Here it is again: The Face on Mars! It's hard to write that without the exclamation. The Face on Mars is to exoarcheology as the Great Pyramid of Cheops is to regular, ordinary, sane archeology.

The Face was first photographed in July 1976 by the Viking 1 orbiter, and the image distributed by NASA, with the helpful caption "Face on Mars?" No one paid much attention until the Weekly World News put it on the cover in 1984. Then the paranormalists took charge. Richard Hoagland's "The Monuments of Mars" described not only the Face, but the City, the Fortress, the Pyramid, remnants of battles and explosions, and some kind of complex but highly significant geometry involving angles of 19.5 degrees. From Captured by Aliens:

"The Face spawned a full-blown cosmology, complete with an exploded planet, a doomed civilization, and a rewritten origin of humankind. The builders may have evolved on the parent planet, according to astronomer and ufologist Tom Van Flandern. The parent planet isn't around anymore -- it blew up and became the asteroid belt Van Flandern thinks the Face can be dated to about 3.2 million years ago -- which would mean it was built at roughly the same time as human beings first appeared on the Earth. It could have been that the civilization on Planet X, knowing their world was doomed, migrated to Earth. They wouldn't have been adapted to our planet and would have had to survive by producing a hybrid species."

That would be us.

Which allows a deft transition to the tale of Lucy's Baby! (Can't stop exclaimin'!)

In stunning contrast to the foregoing lunacy, the work of Alemseged et al is a great tale of scientific insight and hard work. It took 5 years to brush away and expose much of the skeleton of the young female Australopithecus afarensis, and it will take several more years to finish the job. "A juvenile early hominin skeleton from Dikika, Ethiopia," published by the journal Nature, is one of those rare scientific papers that makes you sit on the edge of your seat and wonder what's going to happen next.

The new specimen provides an excellent snapshot of evolution in action:

"The foot and other evidence from the lower limb provide clear evidence for bipedal locomotion, but the gorilla-like scapula and long curved manual phalanges raise new questions about the importance of arboreal behaviour in the A. Afarensis locomotor repertoire."

No aliens involved.


Nature is also reporting today that Greenland is melting at an alarming rate. Scientists calculated a 250 percent increase in the ice lost May 2004 - April 2006 compared with the two previous years. The Greenland ice sheet is losing roughly 248 cubic kilometers of ice a year, net.

Message: Seek higher ground.


I haven't read the whole thing, but the Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan, from the Department of Energy, doesn't appear to say very much about conservation. There is no hint that coping with climate change might require a few sacrifices here and there. Maybe I just haven't gotten to that part yet.

The White House puts the priority on economic growth.

Meanwhile, a scientist takes on the Wall Street Journal editorial board.


Someone actually remembers Creeping Surrealism.

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 21, 2006; 1:57 PM ET
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Reposted from previous Boodle, with SCC correction:

Mudge asks: "Aren't we being a bit earthnocentric in assuming that face the Martians obviously carved on Mars is a human earthling face?"

Good point, Mudge. This could be the Martian equivalent of someone sitting butt-nekkid on a copier.

There are a couple of folks I know (could be Grays, or Reds, for that matter. I don't know how to tell without taking unwarranted liberties e.g. lifting the tail), where this would be *preferable* to a face.


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

It's a shadow. And a blurry grainy out-of-focus one at that. I read a lot of that Chariot of the Gods/Bermuda Triangle crap in junior high, but I just can't get worked up over people that latch onto anything mystical and mysterious.

It's a SHADOW!

Posted by: yellojkt | September 21, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Kinda looks like a heaping bowl of Canadian poutine to me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 21, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Technology is conservation. Over the past three decades the efficiency of large building air conditioning equipment has roughly doubled.

The Clinton Administration mandated a 30% increase in residential air conditioner efficiency. Bush tried to trim that back to 20%, but got slapped away.

If you can keep your house just as comfortable with 20% less energy, that's a lot better than fighting with your wife over the thermostat just because Jimmy Carter liked wearing sweaters.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 21, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Shriek, to answer your question from the previous kit, the Pentagon's BRAC Commission closed the Philly Navy Yard in 1995. A Norwegian outfit called Kvaerner took over some of the yard in 1997 and began building a state-of-the-art shipyard, and building container ships for Matson. At some point Aker (of Norway) took over Kvaerner, so now it is the Aker Yard. They're a huge shipbuilding outfit. As far as I know, Ingalls wasn't in Philly, but in Pascagoula, Miss.--but maybe they were, for a little while. At some point, I think Ingalls was bought by Northrup-Grumman.

(I still can't get used to the diversity among defense contractors. Used to be that Northrup and Grumman built airplanes. Now they do shipyards, Lockheed does credit ratings, and Boeing is doing Berlin-Wall-type border towers. Sheesh. Any day now I expect Starbucks and Wal-Mart to bid on the next-generation space shuttle.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 21, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, does that improved residential air conditioner efficiency reflect the new technology available or what is currently being used. Have homes business upgraded inefficient equipment? I agree with the concept, for the new house we bought one of the front loading washers (young kids lots of laundry) it is amazing how little water or electricity is uses compared to the older unit (15 years old).

New technology is great only if it is used.

Posted by: dmd | September 21, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I should add here that if there is a movie version of "Lucy's Baby", I'm not sure I'd want Mia Farrow to star in it.

Definitely don't want Polanski directing it, that's for sure.

Also, I'm afraid to ask which coven that Baby is born to. Because I think I already know the answer.

Re: CCTPSP - sacrifices are typically bad for the economy. And definitely bad for the population. I can see why the Bush Adminsitration might not want to talk about that on the runup to the November elections - besides, with gas prices plummeting (Coincidence? Many think not.), we don't need to conserve, do we?


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

If you want an explanation for the buildings and other artefacts on Mars please see Rchard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon and Broken Angels. It was all made by an extinct civilization of giant bats which invented faster-than-light travel and colonized the universe. The good thing is that Morgan presents it as fiction, in the cyberpunk noir sci-fi style. The bad thing is that the super-bats were destroyed by something or someone... (key in Psycho shower scene music)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 21, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Much as many of us would like to believe in major conspiracy theories regarding oil prices, the facts seem to be that we have dodged any major tropical storms in the Gulf, the situation in Lebanon quieted down, and BP managed to keep some of the oil flowing up in Alaska. Ergo, supplies have grown and demand has steadied.

I have to agree with the entire premise of Chez' rant on creeping surrealism. Not only does all that cr@p warp people's minds regarding TV characters, but it bleeds over into politics and campaigning as well. Look what's gone on with President Arbusto recently. With the 5-year 9/11 anniversary, Rove & Co. decided it was time to scare the wits out of everyone and claim by inference that only the GOP could be trusted to protect you. Any dissident opinions were at best foolhardy and at worst treasonous. They hold the bully pulpit, and the Dems seem to have no way to enter to conversation. Sometimes makes me want to move to Canada.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 21, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1, which forms the basis for most federal rules, only govern new installations and replacements. But since AC units rarely last more than 20 years, they will all get replaced with better stuff eventually.

These improvements are in spite of the efficiency penalties inherent in using refrigerants that don't harm the ozone layer. That particular trade-off is quite controversial. The really bad stuff (HFC-11 and HFC-12) has been outlawed (except in developing countries (they always get a pass on protecting the environment)) for a long time. The most efficient refrigerants left still hurt the ozone layer a little. The ones that don't affect ozone at all are indirectly responsible for more greenhouse gases from power plants.

If the government climate change document didn't put you to sleep, the official ASHRAE Energy Position Document will.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 21, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

the specialty of defense contractors is to take money from the gunmint. It seems they have carved themselves little monopolies in their own specialty.
Regarding Ingalls it's my mistake: the yard was named Newport News when I visited in 94. This was just days or weeks before Bubba was expected to come for the relaunching of CVN-65 Enterprise, after the most costly retrofit in history. This was pandemonium, workers and military personnel alike were actually running around. Many were running with scissors or other sharp or heavy instruments in their hands.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 21, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Veering cheerfully off-topic for a moment, I'm pretty sure that Joel would do well to not comment on the situation at the LA Times this week:

I admire the stand that Dean Baquet is taking, though the Suits don't take kindly being backed into corners. They usually get their pound of flesh sooner or later, and now they may have a clear idea of whose hide they're going to take it out of.

I hope I'm wrong about that.


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting for someone to post a trenchant comment. I just want to see what one looks like, 's all.

Posted by: CowTown | September 21, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

SCC: That is CFC-11 and CFC-12 that are banned. CFC is short for chlorofluorocarbon. It's the chlorine that breaks up ozone.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) have some chlorine, but the hydrogen makes it less damaging to the ozone. By 2010, you will not be able to buy a residential HCFC AC unit.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) have no chlorine but its tricky to find the right combinations for use in comfort cooling. In 2020, HCFC's will be totally banned, so getting an older AC unit fixed will become tough to do.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 21, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I've looked and I've looked and I STILL don't see a face! There go all my loony space conspiracy credentials. Too bad -- I really like the giant bats. On the other hand, I can see the face of Lucy's baby (Selam) clearly, if it is only skeletal. Guess I'm doomed to seeing only what's there. I don't mean that in an existential sense. Oh, never mind.

I love "creeping surrealism", and recognize its rich presence in many government pronouncements. Ebnut, I don't care what bullets we've dodged. Those gas prices were coming down before the election. Someone today reported a correlation between lower gas prices and higher administration approval ratings. It's below $2.00 at some stations here. Of course, the full service station in the fancy part of town is still selling regular for $2.29; probably figures the customers will never know.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 21, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

i think the boodle has spoiled me. i keep reading articles elsewhere and i get to the bottom of the page, and... there's nowhere for me to comment to the author maybe i'll just follow everyone else's lead and post those comments here...

Posted by: sparks | September 21, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Ever notice how frequently people see faces? A quick Google search yields that Face on Mars (!), the Virgin Mary on the grilled cheese sandwich, the satanic face seen behind the video of Osama Bin Laden, and the alien face seen in the x-ray of a duck. Toss in the occasional face of Elvis, Jesus, the Old Man of the Mountain, and, of course, the Man in the Moon and it becomes apparent that we are surrounded by unexplained visages all leering at us. Might I suggest that we see all these spurious faces because we are hard-wired to see faces in high clutter environments? Those that could not see faces, I assert, never lived long enough to reproduce. They got eaten because they failed to see that mysterious Tiger Face in the Jungle detected by everybody else.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

It's the pattern recognition part of our brain insisting that it do its job even when it doesn't need to.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 21, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Pattern recognition, indeed, RD.

Or perhaps pattern misrecognition...


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

All I know is, whenever I look in the mirror to shave, I see Robert Redford staring back at me. Weird.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 21, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

No trenchancy from me, no sir.

Entrenchment...hmm, I suppose so.

Today, anyway.


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I'm with you, I see nothing but bumps. Of course I still don't see the bat in the Batman logo until I command my brain to see it. I loved (?) that piece on Creeping Surrealism. I consider myself one of the least smart people who post here, but I cannot imagine being so guillible, delusional or ok, I'm saying it, stupid, to believe that TV characters are real or news readers necessarily have brains. And that guy Behrendt, well, he's laughing all the way to the bank. I can't improve on what Chez wrote about him or the people who keep hiring him.
An experience with Creeping Surrealism - years ago at Disneyword my daughters and I were walking over the moat at Cinderella's castle and stopped to look into the water. One of the girls asked me if the fish in the moat were real, and you know, I had to look very hard and long to be sure that they were. All these years later with the improvements in animatronics (I think that's what it's called), I'm not sure I would be able to answer that question with any degree of certainty.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 21, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

You know, the argument about inhibiting economic growth goes back a long, long time. Historically, everytime a new constraint is put on the economy it adapts and, eventually, prospers. I mean, somehow we survived economically without child labor and the 80 hour work week.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm still wondering what kind of hotels SD is staying at where he discovers the natural hair colour of the "cleaning staff" (reference to end of last boodle).

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 21, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

VERY very weird, Mudge.
You look a lot better for your age than he does, dude.

I aspire to Marianas Trenchancy, but I'm far too easily distracted.


Posted by: bc | September 21, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Would seem to me that not only has the economies of the industrial world adapted to change but flourished.

I grew up across the bay from large steel mills, in the late 70's they had to change their ways to adapt to stricter pollultion controls. There were two companies, both complied but one went a step further modernizing itself and equipment. Today one is doing well, one in bankruptcy protection (or just emerging), guess which one is which.

Posted by: dmd | September 21, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The Face on Mars is the Likeness of Our Lord Mugabgab! Hail Mugabgab! All Woe upon those who defile His Holy Lands with wheeled robots with little shovels!

Posted by: HolyCow | September 21, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Not to be outdone, Science has a news story on the Great Croatian Pyramid and a report suggesting that most of the mud deposited on the Louisiana coast is dumped by hurricanes. Their analysis of 2005's mud dump by Katrina and Rita is that diverting the Mississippi to dump silt along the coast wouldn't do much good. They think filling the region's canals would be more useful.

I expect a good scientific mud battle.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 21, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Here is the Face on Mars, explained:

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

From the diversity in worship strand:

"Yes, our synagogue is very segregated. Almost entirely northern European Jews, with very few exceptions. What's up wit' dat?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 21, 2006 03:13 PM "

StoryTim-- you tell me.

I know some Orthodox Jewish deaf who feel barred from worship and that Jewish culture basically excuses them from being fully Jewish.
Gallaudet set up an Hillel again, and the Washington Post did a story a bit ago on the fact that those jewish deaf were finally able to have a Seder they could understand. So much of Jewish custom is in the home, and there is a real access problem when the family is hearing.

There is an jewish woman who attends the deaf-blind camp (but steadfastly makes it clear she is not open to conversion) at Christ Church. I also met an Israeli deaf woman who would hang out with a christian congregation (not attend church, never that.). Since I knew of some orthodox deaf I thought there HAD to be something deaf and Jewish she could enjoy in this area.

I phoned the local Orthodox synagogue and what I remember of the conversation was "um, we have somebody who is deaf here but he lipreads, so... um there's a deaf organization but um um um probably not really orthodox, more reformed ummmmmmm."

I passed along what information I could get on that jewish Deaf group, though. It didn't sound like very much compared to full participation in a synagogue.

Anyway, Christianity is full of brotherhood of man and how Jesus helped all the disabilities, so I just feel like more (Christian) churches should be called on to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Sikhism, on the other hand, explictly states that the leaders of the gurudwar should be men physically fit and without impairment or moral blemish as to be the best role models to incoming converts and to the outside world. They're upfront about that, at least. I've always felt welcome visiting the gurdwara, because they have a strong hospitality tradition.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

On the coastal front, the Christian Science Monitor covered a raging controversy about an exotic alien pest plant in Queensland, near Cairns. It seems coconut palms are NOT indiginous to the area, though they grow quite happily. The problem is, apparently, that they displace the unusual native coastal vegetation and (probably more importantly to the local government) they might lethally bonk tourists on the head.

The story blamed the spread of coconut trees on, among other things, bands of hippies.

An ecologist from that area who's been examining cyclone (hurricane) damage on the coast was recently here, but the story appeared too late to get his view of the situation.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 21, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

BPH/SPEAK LIKE A PIRATE DAY PICS! courtesy of wilbrod (since i forgot my camera... bad bph photographer!)

Posted by: mo | September 21, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the pics mo, Wilbrod good job.

Posted by: dmd | September 21, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

That rip on the journal was actually not by a scientist, but an economist (though thoroughly brilliant) Jeffrey Sachs, who is now attempting to save the world one Climate Problem and poverty stricken African at a time. I salute him and every person in the world who can badmouth the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. They have head their head in the sand for years, and have ceased even trying to remove it and take a larger picture of the real world.

Thanks for the link.

Posted by: dodobird | September 21, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, in the midst of my joking about the limitations of our synagogue community, I forgot to include something non-humorous: we have a sign-language interpreter for all Shabbat services. She interprets from both the English and the Hebrew portions of the service.

In case it helps you frined, the synagogue is Oseh Shalom, in Laurel, MD. However, we are not Orthodox, we are Reconstructionist. I don't know how she would feel about that.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 21, 2006 7:09 PM | Report abuse

What makes The Face on Mars, Lucy's Baby, Global Warming, and even Economic Growth so interesting, and frustrating, is that they are all really about interpretation. That is, these things aren't the kind of science that lends itself to controlled repeatable experiments. We can't go back and redo human evolution a statistically significant number of times to see what might happen differently if conditions were slightly altered. Nor do we have handy access to the statistical ensemble of pre-industrial Earths necessary to really understand the subtle dynamics of global warming. We have no way of disproving, through experiment that the Face isn't what the zealots say it is. And, of course, Economic Predictions are about as reliable as weather reports.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Probably hard for her to access as she doesn't have a car and lives near the metro, last I talked to her. I don't know what Reconstructionist is (it's different from Reform, right?).

But that is good news!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

RD, I have to disagree about repeatable sciences. All those things are prefectly repeatable. You don't have to repeat the existence of a thing in to repeat the measurements of its properties. You do not have to reproduce the process of evolution in order to sample a population, make predictions about not-yet-sampled members of the population, and then go sample those members. We don't get a second Face on Mars, but we get lots of opportunities to make repeatable observations of geological processes. We have an ensemble of pre-Industrial Earth residues accumulated over time, with residues formed at many many places under many, many marginally distinct local conditions.

Economics, on the other hand, is a fantasy of people with limited and boring imagination -- dismal, you might say. I don't believe in it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 21, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

What, no portrait of Wilbrod?! I'm crushed!

The sketches are great, Wilbrod. Wish you had done one of yourself.

One day I will get to a BPH...

Yanno, bc, we've always known you're not shallow! Trenchant, but not shallow.

Posted by: Slyness | September 21, 2006 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Here is my (unfair to all concerned, but mostly accurate) shorthand for how to remember the different branches of Judaism:

Chasidic Judaism -- 100-300 years ago, it was the practice of wild and crazy young guys. Loosen up, guys. Live a little, be happy, mon. Since then, it has transformed into the most orthodox of the Orthodox.

Orthodox -- everything you read in the Torah is factually true, even the typos. Do not have anything to do with non-Jews if you can avoid it. Non-orthodox Jews count are considered a bit wobbly.

Liberal branches of Judaism:
Reform -- we believe in the religion (at least, we beleive in its moral and ethical precepts), but we don't care about the traditional practices.

Conservative -- we don't care what you believe (within a reasonable approximation), but the practices must be followed and preserved.

Reconstructionist -- we believe in the religion (at least, we believe in its moral and ethical precepts), and we preserve but modernize its traditional practices. But, you know, we're not weenie about it.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 21, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, SciTim, you are right, of course, in that the underlying principles can often be replicated. However, they call it Natural History for a reason. And predicting the future - be it weather, climate, economics, or what a foreign nation may or may not do - is always risky. I agree we should always try, and employ scientific methods to do so, but we need to be fully aware of the uncertainties.

Naturally I think the Face of Mars as an artificial feature is a non starter. But can you Prove it isn't an artifact that just happens to look like a natural feature? Of course not. You can just point to Occum's razor and the like.

The point, and I admit it may not be a very useful or important one, is that these areas of science have a lot more inference and interpretation inherent in them than, say, the "Cold Fusion" work of Pons and Fleishman.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 8:13 PM | Report abuse

So SciTim, Reconstructionist is a bridge between Conservative and Reform? Makes sense, the difference between the two sounded really extreme to me when I was reading the Rabbi books. ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Joel: "I haven't read the whole thing, but the Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan, from the Department of Energy, doesn't appear to say very much about conservation. There is no hint that coping with climate change might require a few sacrifices here and there. Maybe I just haven't gotten to that part yet."

yellojkt: "Technology is conservation. Over the past three decades the efficiency of large building air conditioning equipment has roughly doubled."

Every time this topic comes up, I plan to repeat my gospel message: it is good news, everybody!! Listen to me: conservation is NOT sacrifice.

Sure, a certain amount of technology can help us live richer lives. But America as a whole is WAY beyond the point where more energy consumption makes our lives better. At this point, anything you do to decrease your energy consumption is likely to significantly improve your life. If you walk to the park instead of watching tv, if you take public transportation instead of driving. If you open up your windows and turn the air conditioner off. If you eat locally grown produce instead of food that's shipped from thousands of miles away. If you make friends with your next door neighbor instead of hanging out on the internet (whoa, now she's gone too far!!) If you use your own coffee mug instead of styrofoam cups at work. If you read books with your kids instead of buying them video games. If you plan your life so that you live and work in the same vicinity. Think of it like a diet: become aware of your energy consumption and then, starting from that standard, do something to decrease it. Your life will be better.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 21, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

If Mo will e-mail me, I'll e-mail her a new sketch ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you're *illustrating* my point about conservation, too!

Thanks for sharing your talent with us--amazing what a person can do with just a pencil and paper.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 21, 2006 8:45 PM | Report abuse

wilbrod - those sketches are very cute. You have captures their inner piraticity, or pirateness, or something. Whatever it is, you have clearly caught it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 8:48 PM | Report abuse

scc = captured. Oh, mitosis. It's almost time for the new CSI. Maybe they will "enhance" something. I always love that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 8:50 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci: you are right. But what conservation does take is thought, and many people don't like to think.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh shoot, I forgot the peg-arm and hook on Mo. ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 9:10 PM | Report abuse

RD, I believe the word you are looking for is "pirattitude."

Posted by: Achenfan | September 21, 2006 9:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, I missed out for a few hours while teaching the natural history that RD is dissing ;-), so I'll just jump in for a bit.

"But can you Prove it isn't an artifact ..."

You can't proove anything, in science or anything else. All you can do is attempt to falsify your explanation.

You can set up a beautiful, quantitative, repeatable experiment that perfectly fits some theory you have. The results match your predictions perfectly every time. You STILL haven't proven anything--all you have done is failed to falsify your theory. So you can keep the theory, and devise a new experiment, and as long as it's not falsified, you can continue to keep it.

The thing is, at no point is the theory EVER proven--there could always be an alternative theory that we haven't thought of that explains the same observations. So all theories, whether based on historical observations or experiments, are interpretaions.

That is the only standard for determining the validity of a scientific idea--is it potentially falsifiable, and has it survived repeated attempts at falsification.

Some theories have been around so long, and survived so many rigourous attempts at falsification, that we consider them as proven as anything can possibly be (evolution, thermodynamic laws, plate tectonics, gravitation, etc.)--but still the only standard that any of them have met is that no one has been able to proove them wrong.

Some ideas, while strictly scientific in the sense that they can be falsified, are nevertheless so far-fetched and so easily falsified that they need not be considered at all--like the Face on Mars, which is philosophically identical to the conspiracy theories we were talking about last week.

Note that historical sciences meet this standard exactly as well as experimental sciences. The only difference is in the nature of variable control--in experimental sciences you can attempt to limit the number of variables to an easily managed number. In historical sciences, you have no control over the variables, so you have to attempt to account for the effects of all the variables (a much more difficult proposition).

This has an effect on the way different sciences are perceived. Experimental science theories appear more "scientific" because they are very easy to interpret--because the variables are so tightly controlled, they don't really enter into the interpretation.

Historical science theories can be rejected with the same standard as an experimental theory--because it doesn't fit the predicted results. But historical theories can be attacked (falsified) on another level--one can attempt to show that all the significant variables weren't considered, or weren't considered correctly. An historical theory, to be accepted, actually has to pass an additional stage of potential falsification before it can be accepted. This means that historical theories are more likely to be modified or rejected outright--but if they survive, they are much less likely to ever be falsified.

And now, I am predicting, based on past observations, that I'm about to go eat a fabulous dinner of homemade steak burritos *salivating*

Posted by: Dooley | September 21, 2006 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Ain't dissing nothing Dooley. Just pointing out the irony that some of the most important questions - where did we come from, what's happening next - are some of the hardest to answer. It's easy to measure the melting point of ice. It's hard to interpret evolution or predict the future.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

You are precisely right. I almost added to my sermonette that the most immediate reward is the increased consciousness that comes from the contemplation of your life and its effects; also the increased blood flow to the brain that results from the application of your mind to a practical problem.

I know about this first hand, and I know what we're up against. I'm a pretty flexible, resourceful, non-traditional person, but for a long time I really thought it wasn't practical or even possible to ride my bike to work. It took some ingenuity. It took some faith, because at first it really did seem like a lot more effort than driving. But from my viewpoint now, having been doing it for 14 or 15 months, I know for sure that it's no sacrifice. It's a bonus, a benefit, a (dare I say it) blessing.

The air conditioning--you know there are times when it's an effort to live without it. But my family saves thousands of dollars a year by not using it, and we breathe fresh air 24/7. I like the argument when people say, without air conditioning, Florida as we know it today would not exist. In response, I just smile quietly to myself, and dream of the paradise Florida could have been.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 21, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk: SORRY! This has happened before, it's so dumb.

The 10:04 comment was TO you, from me. I apologize for the confusion.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 21, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I knew that was you, despite your attempt to deceive!

We've got a rule that we don't turn up the heat till Oct...but let me tell you, it's mighty chilly, not to mention dark, already.

Traffic here just gets worse and worse - luckily working "virtually" (telecommuting) is encouraged, although I don't do it on a regular basis (yet). Gas is $2.57 here, slyness...

Oh, and the fence along the American border is a "virtual" fence - cameras, sensors. I hear a local aerospace company won a contract for that. Yeah, that'll work!

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 21, 2006 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Why can't Canada just deputize their wolf packs?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 21, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I claim to be a good conservationalist. I always take public transportation or carpool. Heck, I don't even turn on the lights when I take a shower, nor do I boodle with the monitor on, but I'm bragging here... enough!

Sweater Weather! Bring it on!

Posted by: Pat | September 22, 2006 5:29 AM | Report abuse

kb - that's okay. I wouldn't have minded taking credit for the 10:04 post. But my wife might have had some rather pointed questions about this family in Florida I refer to.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Wilbrod, you are so right about churches and disabilities. The church I attend has no regard for hearing loss, and sometimes these folks turn that disability around and use it on the one that has it, me. You know they say stuff, I said it, but you didn't hear it? The do the blind folks the same way. And you would think that in a church, one would not have these situations. I would love to see your drawings, where are they?

Got to get out for the walk, I'm late already. I know it's cold out there, and I'm dreading it a little, but going.

Let me thank you folks at the boodle, the books are coming in, and our project starts next Thursday, the 28th. Once again, I thank everyone and the children thank you too. KB, I will do what you asked as soon as I get my group together. And your point is right on about getting out and doing stuff instead of using the technology.

I have said my prayers this morning, and with all the talk of Mars and evolution one can feel left out and a little lost in those conversations, but I hold fast to the spiritual treasures that are told to me in Scriptures, and one of those is that God loves you and me so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. Have a good day folks, and may the blessings of God shine in your life and may they be so much more than you can imagine that you praise God in your heart through His Son, Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 22, 2006 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Pat - driving in this morning the Eastern sky was populated with glowing pink clouds against backdrop of soft blue verging on teal. Do you remember Lava Lamps? Well it looked like one of those.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, some of us are still waiting for an e-mail... :-)

mo, thanks for scanning the portraits!! *hug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Joel mentioned that the Face became big only after the Weekly World News put it on its cover. I love that rag - I've only ever bought one, because it had The Best Cover Picture And Headline Ever:


I framed that sucker. Showed the sun and 9 planets and their orbits. I guess that kid will have to get *that* fixed, now.

Posted by: byoolin | September 22, 2006 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I was riding my bike to the metro for a while, but the last couple weeks i've been lazy and taking the bus. Starting to get cold to wait for the bus tho. may have to go back to the bike to stay warm.

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

When I worked as an air conditioning engineer in Tampa, I used to joke that my job was to make Florida safe for Yankees. I used to have long arguments with developers that wanted floor to ceiling clear glass for their office buildings that it made the AC system too large and expensive. They said the extra rent they could get more than covered it.

Now conservation techniques like daylighting and overhangs are in vogue because they are green and clients still complain it costs too much.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I was using the subway in NYC a long time ago, when a fellow rider leaned over to tell me: "They're here...". Mystified, I said: "Oh, really...who's here?" "The one's from Planet X...". I tried to look casual as I got up and strolled toward the next car.

Posted by: jack | September 22, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

mostlylurking writes:
Oh, and the fence along the American border is a "virtual" fence - cameras, sensors. I hear a local aerospace company won a contract for that. Yeah, that'll work!

Sorry, but the proposal before Congress is not for a virtual fence, but a bricks and mortar (to use the old phrase) fence. I had to provide this detail, since the topic of a *real* fence is quite controversial in these-here parts.

The local paper reported today that a large contingent of big hats affiliated with our local chamber of commerce is heading to D.C. shortly to meet with both elected officials and members of the Pentagon. One of the D.C. honchos to address the visiting Texas delegtion will be Frist. If you haven't been following our local stories, the city across the border from Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, is an escalating cesspool of horrific violence, most of it associated with the drug cartels. (In TV news, Ericka Christensen, Seattle-born and who played Mike Douglas' daughter in the drug film, "Trafic," had a lead role in last night's ABC drama "Six Degrees."):

Sept. 20, 2006
Border lawmakers, officials resist Senate fence proposal
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Much of the 700-mile fence that the Senate began considering today would be built along the Texas-Mexico border, with one of the largest sections stretching 200 miles from Laredo to Brownsville.

The fence was declared a step toward border security by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who previously supported a comprehensive Senate bill that gave a shot at citizenship to the 11 million to 12 million people living in the country illegally.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Mostly, were you referring to the northern border, I believe it will be a virtual fence, parts are already in place. However, the article I linked to was for a Georgia Senator who wanted to commission a study to look into the viability of a bricks and mortor fence for the northern border. It was Senator Leahy from Vermont who thinks this idea is boneheaded.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

RD, it was definitely a Hall of Fame sunrise.

Sad story about a really outstanding young woman, an Army officer, killed in Iraq:

Posted by: Achenbach | September 22, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Over the last few years we have been upgrading the house, new highest energy efficient furnace (no chimney stack), side venting water heater (will be replaced by on demand model soon), new windows, new doors, and feet of insulation in attic, etc. After we had done all that, the government put in place a plan to give some cash to homeowners who upgrade. I'd have rather had a onetime tax credit that could have gone back a couple of years. Obviously.

We used one of these

in an internal bathroom, and it makes a huge difference. Even in our relatively shaded location, its enough light to read there most of the daylight hours.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday I learned that the son of our next door neighbor has been sent to Iraq for a year. Yes, he volunteered, and yes the odds are he will be fine, but it still upset me.
Since we have kids the neighbor came over to give us some groceries that were purchased for this young man but won't last.

Two boxes of Captain Crunch.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse


What a win-win a Solatube is. Adds light to the library and doesn't use electricity. I wish you many happy hours of reading.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

In Style, Paul Begala on George Allen:

"Mel Gibson asked for his contribution back."

Posted by: Achenbach | September 22, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

dr, is that a federal or provincial tax credit, we too need to do some upgrading in the new home in the next few years in particular heating/cooling, some windows, insulation. In my old house I had installed a new high eff furnace, I miss it really made a big difference, and was much cheaper to operate. My in-laws have the solatubes and really like them.

Here's a link to a border story from up here, covers both borders. There are comments at the end, read with caution as they do not have Achenblog civility.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Found this article (below, last) from the Ontario, Calif. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Since we have so many Canucks on the Boodle, does anyone know who built Canada's only tunnel, where and when along the border the digging took place, and why the perpetrators would do it, and if they were ever apprehended?

A Senate vote is expected on the House bill, HR 6061, the "real" fence that Frist is pushing for, on Sept. 25., according to the link for this source (immediately below) Society for Human Resources Management:

House pushing security measures
First of three bills make it illegal to build tunnels from Mexico into the U.S.
By Sara Carter, Staff Writer

The House of Representatives has unanimously approved an immigration enforcement bill that would make it a crime to build unauthorized tunnels across the U.S. border. The proposal was one of three immigration measures that passed the House on Thursday. The bills would increase border security, give local and state law enforcement officials the authority to enforce federal immigration law and extend the detention of all illegal immigrant criminals who cannot be deported back to their country of origin.

Chairman of the House Rules Committee David Dreier, R-Glendora, who sponsored the Border Tunnel Prevention Act, along with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein emphasized Thursday that border enforcement must come first before any compromise is reached with the Senate on immigration reform.

"Many believed that the Senate wouldn't do anything. We can see that there is room for compromise and we are finding common ground in securing our borders," said Dreier, referring to the Senate's expected vote next week on the passage of a bill authorizing the construction of about 700 miles of fence along parts of the 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico.

"We've recognized that border security is national security," Dreier said. "While there's *no evidence whatsoever of a Mexican terrorist*, the threat of someone utilizing one of those tunnels to pose a terrorist threat to the United States is still there."

Since September 2001, more than 40 tunnels have been found along the southern borders of the United States. Only one has been found along the Canadian border, according to Feinstein's office.

*Our local paper on 9/11 prominently displayed on its front-page a feature story about our nation's two borders, making the significant points that the one al Qaeda terrorist who intended to blow up LAX crossed into the U.S. across the Canadian border, as well as pointed out Canada's recent terrorist plot and arrests. Mexico? Nada.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

The sun rose this morning into a partially cloudy deep blue airsea, Sol's photosphere appearing as a orange yellow ball while it slowly cleared the horizon, painting the fingers of altocumulus that reached across the mackerel sky towards me from the east pinkish red, the tips and southern edges of the vaporous appendages purple against the brightening electric blue in the damp cool air.

I embraced the morning.


P.S. 100% more, free! 10 lb. of adjectives crammed into a 5 lb. bag of morning prose available now!

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


They're all sad stories, unfortunately.

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

This morning on the news, the family of one of the soldiers killed in Afghanistan by a bicycle suicide bomber while the soldiers were handing out treats to children.

Go down to the video, "Keating family speaks." I know that Iraq is a different situation, a different matter, but, RD, tell him to watch out for bikes, OK?

Make sure to read the full article too. One step forward one step back.

The full article is interesting too. One step forward, two steps back.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

BOO: I see that RD and JA posted about the spectacular sunrise this AM, while I was festooning that comment.


Posted by: bc | September 22, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, not sure the Canadian tunnel you mean, buy recently a large one was discovered in BC, actually they monitored it for quite a while so they could arrest the people. The purpose like a lot of the illegal stuff across our border - drugs, I believe in this case pot.

Re the LAX plot, it is my understanding the RCMP tipped off the US border patrol.

One of the frustrating this here, and this affects a good friend of mine whose in laws are American, is trying to clear up the early misconceptions that came out after 9/11, that any terrorists came through Canada, none did all entered US but there are still those that believe they came from here. There are many misconceptions about our immigration policies etc as I am sure there is an equal amount of misconceptions about US issues. I try to get as much info as I can from both sides. At our recent family reunion many of the US relatives (there are a large number) were there from all over the US and even then some of the misconceptions were ingrained.

To all the troops US and Canadian, stay save and thank you.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Too bad about the young military officer, female, who was killed in Iraq.:

One of (Lt. Gen William J. Lennox Jr., superintendent of the U.S. Military Aacdemy at West Point) Lennox's few disappointments has been a decline in black enrollment to around 5 percent from 8 percent, well below the target of making the officer corps look like the enlisted ranks. But he suspects there is a silver lining: The decline may reflect the Supreme Court's 2004 decision upholding the limited use of affirmative action for diversity at the University of Michigan.

Of course, the truth of the matter is that all three military academies face declining enrollments--the article below speculates on the reasons, including the Iraq war:

June 14, 2005
Military Academies Face Declining Enrollment

The armed forces aren't the only parts of the military having trouble drumming up recruits. Reuters reports that fewer high school students are applying to the U.S.'s three military academies.

"Applications to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., which produces junior officers for the Army, declined 9.3 percent compared with last year, the academy said. Applications were down 20 percent from a year ago at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and down 22.7 percent at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs."

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

This just in via Reuters at the NYT (been pretty newsy here this is how we got Musharref to cooperate?):

Pakistani Leader Claims U.S. Threat After 9/11

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said yesterday that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks the United States threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate with the American campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

General Musharraf, in an interview with "60 Minutes" that will be broadcast Sunday on CBS, said the threat came from Richard L. Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, and was made to General Musharraf's intelligence director.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, posted at Mo's 6:04

BPH/SPEAK LIKE A PIRATE DAY PICS! courtesy of wilbrod (since i forgot my camera... bad bph photographer!)

Posted by: mo | September 21, 2006 06:04 PM

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Stone Age? Holy Moly!

General Musharraf said the intelligence director had told him that Mr. Armitage had said: " 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.' "

General Musharraf added, "I think it was a very rude remark."

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps that is why Pakistan hasn't exactly been bending over backwards to find OBL. Everytime Pakistan would round up a group of terrorists, the line from Casablanca always popped into my mind, "We will round up the usual suspects".

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Finally got around to reading the "Creeping Surrealism" article. This is why I despise the docudrama. It is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that because a docudrama is "fiction" it need not worry about accuracy. Clearly, people can't tell the difference between what is real and what is imaginary on television at the best of times. The false veneer of authenticity adopted by a docudrama just makes things worse.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Loomis the fence was dug from the US side to the Canadian side on/in (not sure exactly where) the Vancouver area. From what I recall, they knew about the tunnel, and watched the guys build it, and then on the first trip through, arrested them. It was a drug smuggling operation.

The border between our nations is a lot quieter largely because both populations are more equal economically. That does not mean that there are not problems. Cigarettes strangely enough, handguns, drugs come from your side, and we likely send some of that back to you too.

Canada does need to improve our passport controls though, and we need to do some serious work on our immigration and refugee policy. At the same time, thankfully they got the LAX fellow, and none of the other terrorist incidents were perpetrated by people entering via Canada.

I've often wondered if the Sept 11 terrorists avoided Canada, because of the stuff dating back to the Air India bombing (connected to the the LAX person IIRC), and its on/off again prominence in the news here.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

dr, those solar tubes are great, In our house we have an upstairs bathroom down the hall that has no windows; my wife always called it "the cave." A few years ago we put a solar tube in there -- wasn't expensive wand was fairly easy to do -- and the difference has been amazing. The first few weeks we had it, when we'd look down the hall we'd see sunlight coming from the bathroom, and my wife would say, "Who left the bathroom light on?" Well worth the investment. And a few weeks ago I was touring a model home that had two solar tubes installed in the kitchen--was very cool (meaning "neat," not chilly)and bright.

A tunnel prevention act. Jeez. Legal question for our lawyers: how can we pass a law making it illegal to do something in Mexico? Isn't that, like, a foreign country or something? I would think certiorari would be a bit of a stumbling block, no?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "Make sure to read the full article too. One step forward one step back.

The full article is interesting too. One step forward, two steps back."

Take only one and call me in the morning.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Pat, the sky today looks like it would feel like thin oatmeal.

Loomis, the tunnel from Canada to the U.S. was intended for pot smuggling, and in B.C.

I heard last night that one of my best friends (a father of 2) will be going to Afghanistan shortly.

dmd, the funny thing about the LAX story is that I could have sworn that I heard the same thing (it was a tip off that led to the arrest). You may recall that the initial report was that it was an alert customs agent that noticed Ressam's nervousness. Yet I can't find a story about a "tip off" anymore. Either I'm imagining it or there's some kind of censorship at work (or I'm too lazy to keep looking, which is always a possibility that should never be discounted).

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

SoC-- an oatmeal sky? I was just thinking the sky outside down here looks more like a fluffy white persian shed all over it.

You can see some blue, just like you usually can see the original clothing color, but only in bits and pieces. It's a really intense blue though when you can see it.
In one hole you can see a second cloud behind it, creating a very silvery mother-of-pearl glow like one of those Hudson river school paintings.

All clouds are gliding at an even clip, presumably going up to Canada for some weekend fishing.
There's a dark brown or black butterfly trying to flap around at high altitudes, just because the sky is there.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

It seems I had the tunnel starting in the wrong nation. My bad.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

That's strange about Musharraf. Why after five years would he disclose that now? Does he think it will have an effect on the election? Is this an indicator of a falling out?

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Here is some info on Canadian immigration for the Council on Foreign relations, so point with me there is a lot of misconception on this issue. We need to do better but I get really upset when people suggest we let too many people in from "other" parts of the world as if where they were born somehow makes them a criminal, I realize this rant isn't directed at any of you but needed to get it off my chest. I live 45 minutes from one of the most diverse cities in the world, it has problems, issues that need to be resolved but it is great because of the multicultural nature, it works if we let it. Rant over.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the drawings are great. And just love the one with the dog and the hat. I had to smile at that one. And I am partial to Mudge too. I truly hope that someday I can visit Washington and see this place where the boodlers convene for the porching hour. I was just thinking when I sat down to the computer how nice it would be to go to DC in the fall. All my visits of the city have been in the summer, and I think fall is a better time to visit.

I don't know if this is anything to worry about, but his morning when I walked, as I approached the lake walking on the sidewalk facing traffic, a car swerved just ever so slightly as if the driver lost control or, and I hate to think this, purposely let the car lean toward the sidewalk as I am walking. I thought perhaps it was someone I knew, but it wasn't. This same car was driving real slow and there was a line of cars behind it. It was an older car and this is a hill so I'm thinking maybe the car is not running very well. It made me slightly anxious. I guess because I realize how risky it is walking near traffic and how close one is to death. Anyway, I came on in, didn't stay at the lake very long.

Pat, did get a chance to look at the sky and the lake. This morning the sky looked like an artist's palette wherein the painter's brush is used to lightly swish the canvas with an array of colors and tints. There was a bit of blue, just a shade of orange, and threads of white. Clouds trying to be. And all this behind a sun that is so bright one cannot look at it full. And the lake was smooth in part, and ripples creeping along the edge. And the air was not so cold this morning, just a beautiful fall morning.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 22, 2006 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think the funniest bit in the story is this:

"Police installed cameras and microphones in the house, allowing them to watch the three Canadians carry hockey bags and garbage bags full of pot through the tunnel."

Clearly they were actually smuggling hockey equipment into the U.S., and just bringing the pot for personal consumption.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

RD, one can't help but be upset and even sad when we learn of someone going to Iraq or Afghanistan. We know there is great potential for loss of life, and having children of our own, we don't wish that leave on our worst enemies.

I often think about our young men and women that are doing their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think about those that have lost their lives in that hell. I don't like it one bit, but I am not in charge, someone else is, so I just hurt for the families, and pray a lot.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 22, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

SonofCarl writes:
That's strange about Musharraf. Why after five years would he disclose that now? Does he think it will have an effect on the election? Is this an indicator of a falling out?

May be that Musharraf is just becoming one of those uppity firebrands that Eugene Robinson wrote about today in his op-ed. I'm surprised the sulphur fumes comment made by Chavez didn't make it into the Boodle. (Maybe it was actually methane?) Did anyone see the photo of the billboard in Cuba actually portraying Bush with the horns of el diablo?

On a more serious note, the Washington Post (Associated Press) coverage of the Musharraf comments portrays the Pakistani prime minister and Bush as being all kissy-kissy as of their meeting this morning. I like Reuters initial, breaking coverage better. The Reuters has the State Department in classic denial and backpedaling mode. The keyword is still "Waziristan."

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

SoC, even in drug smuggling we have to bring hockey into it. About the LAX story I do remember a tip off, apparently it was a legal thing were we couldn't do anything so we in effect led him to the US border and then gave info to the US officials. Now it was either untrue at the time and just a rumour the papers got a hold of or that info is no longer available.

On a lighter note after my ranting, anyone else interested in the Ryder Cup?

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear your church isn't that helpful to the disabled.

I knew somebody who used to work in a baptist church, mostly black, and she was really surprised at the lack of support and understanding of their needs. She said you'd think with a history of being oppressed and being considered less than other people they'd empathize more, but apparently not. she eventually took over the disabled (mostly deaf) program over from somebody else who was really indifferent to helping the disabled.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

This George Allen and his "hidden" past has me a little bit confused. I have never really understood the distinction between Jewishness as a religion and as a race. I know you can convert to Judaism, but that, clearly doesn't make you a racial Jew, right? So if somebody rejects the Jewish religion, does that mean they are no longer of the Jewish race?

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ref. 2cd Lt Perez, third generation Army personnel
Those stories are all sad, so true mr. padouk. These American military families amaze me with their willingness to put their lives in danger, generation after generation, for far less material compensation than in most other occupation. Hopefully, Mr. Cheney and Rumsfeld will not put an end to this tradition with their ill-advised attempt to reconfigure the Middle-East. My guess is that 3rd generation neo-con, if any, in Iraq are well within the Green Zone.

Good news on another front though, all 400 richest Americans are billionnaires so they don't have to deal with beggars and scum with mere hundeds of millions anymore.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The tribe has spoken, RD. Reject the religion is to reject the community and culture. They're exiled of their own choice.

However, a child being raised Christian and estranged from the community not of her own choice might not be considered as having forsaken Judaism in the same way. I'm curious as well. My guess is that they would have to study and convert back.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Smuggling hockey equipment, SonofCarl? Don't tell anyone, lest you start an equivalent movement here to the south and we get an influx of charreria gear through our numerous border tunnels.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

About my neighbor. I guess it just really hit me that this war is being fought by kids who eat Captain Crunch for breakfast. That wars sacrifice our youth is a concept as old as history, but something about seeing those two brightly colored boxes really brought it home.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Re. Terrorists from Canada The LAX guy was from the North-African flavour of terrorism, things like the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and the Front Islamique du Salut of Algeria. I'm quite sure we still have some of those guys up here but they don't seem to find the local community too welcoming. They haven't bloomed like the Arabic flavour did in London and other European cities. But they did try before Sep 11, sending over firebrand clerics and trying to raise money for their operation. They probably keep a very low profile these days. The sad bit is that the US probably have them buried in as well. Never heard about the leak story on the Ressam business though but I've always found that cute story of the alert border agent a bit fishy.
Until most of the Muslim clerics rise and say that this bombing&killing cr@p will get their armpits infested with the flees of 10000 camels, will make them grow a pig's snout and lead them to eternal damnation there will be religious extremists willing to blow themselves up for the cause.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

being a recovering catholic myself, i am not exactly sure, but what i remember from the samuel sheinbein debacle (maybe it was the law and order episode based on the aforementioned case) is that to be fully jewish, your mother must be a jew, you must be circumcized and bar mitzvahed, but i think you're considered a jew no matter what if your mother is jewish. feel free to correct me.

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Shrieking Denizen-- I agree.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Not to leave a wrong impression, I have no issue with people who immigrate. We need people, we are a nation of immigrants and I hope we continue to be one. I take issue with how the immigration department is operated and how the rules are applied. One instance of the mind numbingly intelligent force of our immigration system was strippergate.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, in addition to the absurdly long and expensive real fence along the US-Mexico border, there also is an effort to build a 27 mile long virtual fence on the New Mexico border (if I heard it correctly), presumably as a test project. Cameras, motion sensors, that sort of thing, with the idea of a semi-autonomous system that alerts a human supervisor only when it detects enough change within in an image field to deduce the presence of moving persons. The annointed contractor is Boeing.

I found a WaPo editorial about it -- apparently, the plan is to build virtual fences at both our southern and northern borders:

Here's a news article on it:

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with strippergate dr ? We should give priority to the immigration of strippers if we as a nation are short on strippers. That is an important, no CRITICAL occupation for the wellbeing of the country. Curb your enthusiasm there Curmudgeon, only female strippers were put on the priority list.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Could be wrong but didn't the courts clear the strippergate issue? But you are right there are problems, I find it a problem that we reward people who come from professional backgrounds, but when we let them in they can't practise until they take our tests/courses but we don't have provisions for them to do that.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Since its Friday, and the day has not yet gone to pot, let me begin its decline. I stayed away from work yesterday, in fact, I lied to my boss and said I was taking a class(truth), but it was a class in this.

I have learned to read and understand this, "Ring five ds, three picots separated by five ds, five ds, close, turn, space", and this, "R 5ds, 3 p sep by 5ds, 5ds, cl, turn, sp" and this, "R 5-5-5-5 cl rw sp"

I am pleased to say that I can now make doilies in 3 different techniques. I must go now and start a chapter of needleworkers annonymous.

If anyone needs a doily, I can make some dilly's.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

New marine biology discoveries:

Posted by: Dooley | September 22, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

dr devises dilly doilies by deviously ducking work...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, there are a couple of good videos of the walking shark and praying mantiss shrimp. I'm sure you can find them with google if you are interested.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

dr, the day may not yet have gone to pot, but we have a man working on it right now in B.C., furiously digging a new tunnel in between periods of the hockey game.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I've always been partial to you, too.

dr dallies doing detailed domestic doily-darning, daunting determined DC drones.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I have a questions that maybe someone can answer, Afgan leader Karzai is in Ottawa and addressed our Parliament today, I noticed that during his introduction he removed his hat but put it back on when he began his speech. I always see him with a hat, is it part of his culture, religion - this is just a curiosity of mine with no relevance buy hey its Friday.

Here's a link to the video if anyone is interested.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

dmd, that was another of a long an unpublished diatribe about the goofiness of immigration stuff. It shall remain unposted, because it was, well, a diatribe. The professional thing is being worked on IIRC, but there still is a long way to go. I think a lot of the really silly, sad and bad issues were due to entrenchment of governing party. I just don't think that a parliamentary system can function well when its operated by the same governing party all the time.

I can't beleive I just said that considering I live in Alberta and we have had the same party in government since 1971. The feds have always been the opposition here it seems.

Please go back to goofiness.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Today's newspaper headline: "DOILY DEFEATS TRUANT"

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Smacks self on head. Of course we do. A tunnel is such a good idea for getting those subversive Canadians in place. Celine Dion is really just a minor operative.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, SofC. (Your 12:41)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

If dr also cans veggies, we should soon be hearing about dill doilies...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

dr, laughing at your 12:40 post.

Just keep in mind that government is run by a lot of public officials who stay despite change in political parties, they determine much of what goes on.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow, cue the Twilight Zone music!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Excellent SoC.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 22, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

This immigration talk reminds me of the time I had the great opportunity to meet G. Hertzberg, a physicist who won the Nobel of chemistry and the father of the spectroscopy in Canada. He was about 86 at the time, still active in his lab and still teaching once in a while. This was at one of these teaching occasion that he told this story. He left Germany for Canada in the thirties after he lost his job at the University because his wife was jewish. One smart dean from Saskatoon (U of Sask ?) offered him a job. The pretty thick Canadian immigration officer in Germany didn't know what a physicist was and did not believe that this 30 year-old could be a University professor. Hertzberg had to take a manual skill at University, as it was customary at the time, and he took courses in watchmaking. So he said to the thick official he was also a watchmaker and sure enough watchmakers were on the desirable occupation list and he was allowed to immigrate in Canada. So our next Nobel could have come-in as a stripper I guess...


Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

About 25 years ago we visited my wife's grandparents that lived in Blaine on the US-Canada border. The border that runs through Blaine was only defined by 2 foot wide 6 inch ditch that run along side a street in the residential area. It snowed on the 23rd and my son that was 15 at the time out outplay in the snow since he hadn't seen it before as we lived in the SF Bay area. Well it was getting dark and my son hadn't returned and we were gettting concerned as he didn't know his step grandparent's name, address or phone number. We went out and while driveing around found him walking down the street. He had been stopped by the INS coming across the border at the I-5 check point. He had no identification, didn't know where his parents were etc, but after a half hour they let him go. Now adays it probably would have cost us $thousands to recover him. Of course the border is now defined by a chain link fence and he probably wouldn't have got over on the Canadian side. The summer before we had a family reunion there and the kids went back and forth to Peace Park and beach every day. Things are mighty different now.

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

SD, the Nobel Piece Prize?

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse


I went to Carleton and if I recall correctly one of the buildings (NRC lab?) is named after Hertzberg? Closest I came to sciences in university was having a class in that building.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

It was probably a shared win that year SoC.


Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

SoC: LOL. I am jealous of your wit sir.

dmd: That is the one. I think the Hertzberg if the physics lab building. The Physics Hertzberg was doing was revealing things that mostly interested chemist, hence the Nobel in Chem and not Physics.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Mudge the Pudge fudges (with humor), smudges (reputations), holds no grudges (c'est vrai?), nudges (others to comment), and budges only when he trudges to the bus. All told, he ain't no drudge, but you be the judge!

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Unusual photo of the space station and Shuttle at

Posted by: Steve-2 | September 22, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC is not if, between other.

I checked dmd, now this is the Physics and Computer Science lab. I my time it would have been the physics and slide rule lab. At any case I went to the U of Ottawa for grad. studies but I had my entries at Last Chance U, in the Stacey building (chem department) ;)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Slide Rulers. Now there is a lost art.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

*madly scrambling to find any words in any of about six languages that rhyme with "Loomis," and coming up desperately short. But of course, I've always been desperately short, so I guess nothing's new.*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse


Bloom is off the rose
room is spinnin round
party now 'cause tomb is dark and dank

Posted by: Tonk | September 22, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

can anyone offer links to some (work safe) information on strippergate? i looked on the standard repository of all knowledge and all it has is information on two separate scandals, one in san diego, and one in seattle.

and props on the alliteration, guys. alliteration is by far my favorite poetic device. (and sibilance is my favorite kind of alliteration, and, which an added bonus, can be described as homological, which is an adjective used to describe words which describe themselves! god, i love the english language.

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Slide Rulers. Now there is a lost art." Boy, you aren't kidding. I came across my slipstick recently and realized I had completely forgotten how to use it. Haven't touched it otherwise since I graduated. Gotta go. Have a sick car to get to Pittsburgh (repairs there are about half what they are here).

Posted by: ebtnut | September 22, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, a tour de force. Still laughing.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

LAST CHANCE U - umbrage taken!! :-). But overall you are right particularly when I went in the early 80's, however I will point out that my program was more difficult to get in and requirement marks to stay in. I will restrain myself from U of O comments, my grandfather started there so I will go easy. I do remember one class in Hertzberg, I remember a big ball hanging from a line - some sort of science thing (technical enough for everyone) it was great.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

In my time it would have been alchemy and counting on fingers lab.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse has several things. Search using strippergate. No photos except of minisetrial types and cabinet types.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Link for Str*pergate, couldn't find the lastest info but the politician Sgro was cleared recently. Like all things Canadian that sound tantalating it was pretty tame. Note work safe.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, focus on LOOM, then define "is". This is really stretching it, I think, but...

Sweep your family cupboard with a broom, does a gloomy skeleton dwell in that room?
His story may be that he's an dead Loomis groom, quiz him about that odd perfume biz with the moniker of Loomis Fumes, and learn all about that old bloom fizz-master, whom says to "Come groom, Ms. Loomis it must be, inherit the family name and fame."

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

This is a Foucault's pendulum. Its shows that the earth is rotating, between other things. Carleton was as good as any in many dept, although the overall reputation was so-so, as you know.
I was semi-kidding about the slide ruler, I missed it by one year in my engineering undergrad program. However I baught and used the hottest PC box in the Eng department around 1986, a Intel 386 WITH the 387 math co-processor and a full 2 MB of memory, for about Cdn $5000. (can't remember the clock speed, does 20MHz makes sense ?) Of course only 640k of the memory was directly accessible, the rest was in the dreaded "extended" universe. Who needs more than 640k of memory anyway ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | September 22, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

SCC: TO inherit the family name and fame." (A directive to keep the maiden name at all costs, not to off husbands, whoops.).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

A Canuckistani minister ecclesiastical
Pulled strings for a stripper ecdysiastical
Citing factors humanitarian
She allowed Miss Balaican to get in
Despite hassles for tassles fantastical

Your tax dollars at work. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge you are brilliant!!

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

SD, probably 16 MHz on that computer.

Ha, loved those drivers (in config.sys, IIRC) to allow apps to use the extended and expanded memory areas. Like trying to eat off of an acrobat's half-dozen spinning plates.

Very nice, Loomis.

Steve-2, that pic is spectacular.

Mudge, were they still offering Pyramid Building when you were in school, or had they moved onto Easter Island Block n' Tackle by then?

I heard "Punch and Judy Appreciation" was a pretty good course, too.


Posted by: bc | September 22, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm probably breaking the SCC rule here, Sparks... but the word for words that dessssscribe themselvesss, my precioussssss, like sssibiliance, is autological (self-word).

Homology, homologous are scientific, meaning structures that are very similiar and likely have a common origin. Homological is an adjective specifically addressing homology in topology.

This Gnome Wrod Power(tm)has been brought to you by Wilbrod.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

And thus with a single Wrod, I bring down the boodle.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

SD, a 386 PC? The first one around here was a 286, didn't do much besides word processing. I think the first one I had on my desk was a 25 mhz, and boy, was that a good one! I could do anything with it?

I still miss Harvard Graphics.

Posted by: slyness | September 22, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

i had to share this with you guys - our little own Annie has gone and written gene a hilarious e-mail:

Dear Gene:

One of the regulars on the Achenblog is a very charming Panamanian woman. She has developed great jealousy over the fact that many, many great jokes have been told poking fun at so many of the other ethnic groups (Irish, Jews, Poles, French (and how!), et al) represented on Achenblog. But for Her People? Nada, as they say.

Good sports that we are, we have tried and tried to think up some good Panamanian jokes. But all we have been able to do is "repurpose" jokes (re stupidity, drunkenness, cowardice, what have you) originally told about other groups. We give up. But we figured that for A TRAINED HUMOR PROFESSIONAL such as yourself it would be a different story. I am still in awe of the way you ho-hummed one of the funniest limericks I have ever read in a matter of about five minutes, in response to just such a cry for help.

Won't you please now help our neighbor, Panama? A country so completely undistinctive that it can't even come up with a name for itself without cribbing from Van Halen?

I will not pretend, Mr. Weingarten. The situation we face is serious. But -- with YOUR help -- Panama, too, can join the community of nations that other nations joke about. Panamanians can smile again!

But you must act now.


Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, well done on the Loomisian musings!

Shriek, 20 MHz in 1986 would certainly be close to top of the line.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse


You've let the cat out of the bag. Let's hope Gene doesn't read the Achenblog and realize it's a set up by boodlers. Very funny letter, annie.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

That's funny, but I was TRYING to be creative in Panamian humor ;).

There must be humor in a country that was basically clipped off from Columbia in order to build the canal, where thousands of men died of yellow fever and malaria building that canal. How France companies went broke and collapsed, then the US managed to do it. Panama!

Maybe we should make fun of the drunken Panamaian who was caught trying to milk the bananas on Carmen Miranda's hats and pled he was just trying to make banana tres laches.

Or that Panama tried to sue the Banana Republic brand for stealing their cultural identity.

Or we could just make fun of sports figures from Panama.

I don't know if these banknotes are funny
...especially since we've started using peach in our own money, but blimey, my eyeballs blistered at that orange.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

First computer:

16 Mhz 386SX with math coprocessor (so I could pirate AutoCad from work), 2 MB of RAM which I upgraded to 4 MB as soon as I could, and a 80MB hard drive. I spent a week reading every single ad in Computer Shopper before I bought it.

Cost ~US$2,000

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

A Boodle blast from the past--

My first computer;

A thermal-paper printer/keyboard/handset modem (maybe 8 baud) device connected to the mainframe at Bell Labs.

Or if you prefer, the original Apple II with TWO, count 'em TWO, 5.25-inch floppies and 512K of RAM (IIRC).


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

duly noted, wilbrod. the word stored in my memory banks is actually heterological, and silly me, i reverse constructed and mucked it all up. and don't worry about correcting me at any point, as the purpose of communicating with others is to expand our own understanding of the universe. Voila! understanding expanded!

and dmd, thanks for the link, but the firewall has blocked it as "internet radio". stupid technology. doesn't it know i'm trying to not get anything done?

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

My boss used his trusty 286 till December 2000. We tried to send it out for bronzing but he declined. So we tried to send it out for donation to the United Way's In Kind program. They declined. We stored it in the back sotre room for 3 or 4 years, and finally tossed it out. Immediately after we tossed it out, they brought in a computer recycling program in the city. Poor beastie. They don't make them like that anymore.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Panama uses the US dollar for currency now. Saves the printing cost and the orange ink supply for other purposes.

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Q: How many Panamanians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. Just wait until a U.S. President demands that it turn on. When it doesn't comply, the U.S. Marines will harass the light bulb with loud music, arrest it, and replace it with a dim bulb that does what it's told.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 22, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

does panama actually use the dollar, bh, or is their currency just pegged to the dollar?

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

sparks, just go direct to the cbc site, you can search from there. Although you may still get blocked because you can access the cbc radio from their main site.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

They probably need all that orange dye for molas to sell to tourists. Here's a nice sample of such:

These are squares of fabrics intended to be front and back of women's blouses, made using applique techniques (sewing fabric on in layers.

If I get this construction right, they use reverse applique sometimes, which is cutting holes in the top fabric and then inserting different colors under to show through, not just sewing on.

The pink-black one with the fish makes it clear it's black on pink and the fish is sewn directly on the black fabric.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm back. Mudge, your 2:06 was great.

No luck on the Panama jokes, so here's for mo:

A Goth-y young lady of Panama
Was known on her blog for her hem and haw
But on family she holds dear,
Her position's quite clear
Not of Pa, but she's a fan of Ma

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Waving madly at yellojkt. Did you have the cool Genus tablet set up with your computer for use with Autocad? According to Mr. dr, the tablet may have been used for other programs, but could be used with Autocad - he can't remember that far back - his words not mine.

I still have one at home. Don't ask me why, but I think it had something to do with space in the rafters in the garage.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten better come back soon. Hax is horning in on his territory:

Two ovaries walk into a bar...: "Can we get some decent cervix, here?"

Carolyn Hax: !

Posted by: slyness | September 22, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the maiden name issue, it's a topic today in WaPo's On Balance column.

I detest the term "maiden name," my dislike a holdover from the rabid feminist period. IIRC, it was Gloria Steinem who said that most women these days have lost their maidenhood long before they marry.
The far more preferable "birth name" will do under all circumstances.

This is on my mind, the topic raised by Wilbrod (also surprised once her gender was revealed), because Ms. Gloria Steinem was in town speaking at San Antonio College last night. I've never heard her speak, in person, but it was a toss-up for her and the season premiere of CSI. Maher is performing Saturday night here--wish I could go.

Wilbrod, if you're still on the Boodle and if you are an expert on dogs, as you seem, I would appreciate your help with a problem I am loathe to describe. My little male sheltie has turned into a p-licker extraordinaire. He appears now to live for these moments, and treats the experience as though he is tasting the premiere wines of California and France. Not neutered, a virgin. Is he lacking something in his diet, does he need to couple, so to speak, more exercise, what? How can we break this habit?

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

panama actually uses the american paper money - they haven't used balboas for ages...
molas are made by the kuna indians - they are taught from a very young age to make them... i have a dozen or so of them, some from my grandmother... i'll try and find a picture of the indians for you - they still dress in traditional garb...

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

my comment got eaten so... um... panama actually uses american coinage as well - all american money

and yes, loomis - molas are only made in panama (authentic molas) by the kuna indians... not so easy to come by here in the dc area but i did see a nice collection in a store in nyc...

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Love molas, and they're easy to come by here. Doubt if too many others have hard of them. (mo may be the exception, but I am unsure if they are a Panamanian art.)That rainbow mola was fun and oh so contemporary. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my! Wilbrod, you must have posted your Panama jokes (the ones you reference above as you TRYING to be creative) when I wasn't checking the boodle. If you remember which kit it was in, I'll go back, b/c I am *sure* they were brilliant, based on the rest of the Wilbrodoeuvre.

As for you two, Storyteller Tim and SonofCarl -- this just goes to prove my thesis that to get men to do stuff, you have to just say "oh, well, that's OK . . . I'll just go ask NAME OF OTHER MAN."

Mo and I beg, repeatedly, with genuine tears in our eyes, for a few, just a few, Panama jokes, and? Silence (except for Wilbrod's, which I didn't know about.)

But when we give up? The hilarity ensues within minutes.

How many times have we been through this, Ladies of the Boodle? How many times has the drippy sink not gotten fixed, or the ominous noise from the car not gotten attention, till the phone call goes in to the plumber or the mechanic?

Sinks, cars, Panama jokes, 'tis all the same thing.

OK, enough teasing and oppressing with gender stereotypes.

Back to professional anxiety and existential dread.

Posted by: annie | September 22, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I was going to do a takeoff on "Lola" using the Pananmanian mola theme, but it really wasn't headed in the right direction...

Discretion is the better part of valor, yanno...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I have booked mark the mola site, but I really should be sending this home so I quit wasting work time. So much heritage needlework, so little time.

The name thing is very interesting. It became legal here the summer before we married. I did think about it, and I still do remember the looks I got, mostly from my mom, who was appalled. This summer, we were invited to 6 weddings, and it was a common question, what name is she using, but all took the gent's name. I know I was just disscussing it with my soon to be daughter-in-law, and she said everyone asks, but there is no controversy no matter what you go with.

You know what I really am uncomfortable with? Being called Mrs. R. That is my mother-in-law, not me. It makes me feel foolish. Just dr is who I am.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not an expert in dogs. All dogs like grooming themselves for the next dog-dog greeting. Even neutered dogs, male and female, will do this.

Dogs also like rituals, so if you've been giving him long chunks of time just waiting for the next thing, he may have started incorporating this as a ritual. Look to see if there's a pattern (during mealtimes etc.).

I do think this behavior may increase with anxiety, dogs tend to lick themselves more when stressed.

Since your dog is a sheltie, he may need a visit to the groomer and a clip. The trousery mats very easily in longhairs and a small mat can be painful.

Practically, your best approach and bet is distraction before he starts that first lick-- when you see him sneaking his nose down, call him to you and engage him in something else. Hopefully you can make a new ritual behavior instead if you do this regularly.

Also, let him lick as long as he does it in private-- in his bed, whatever, so if he is really unstoppable, send him to bed.

Otherwise, it is not good to give it any attention (even negative) since you want to discourage your dog doing it for attention. Stay neutral. A cold shower and a few jogs around the track would work, too. Dogs can always use more exercise and it does help with stress behaviors.

If the dog persists or is showing any other signs of being tense or compulsive, see a vet. Compulsive licking can lead to the dog injuring himself.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Annie, it's funny 'cause it's true.

Here's another (a little subtle):

You've all heard of Italy's famed Umbria
and the view of the Black Sea from Crimea
But from Bogota's main square
to the beaches so fair
There's no place quite as beautiful as Panama

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

soc - that was GREAT! (lol - you have a good memory!)

tim - torrijos (current president) is not dim... not sure about Guillermo Endara (who actually won the election against noriega and was sworn in once noriega was arrested)

panama is home to several different indian tribes - my mother is of Guaymí decent that come from the bocas del toro and chiriqui regions which are further north toward costa rica...

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I just realized I am remiss. mo, you sent a link the other day to land in Panama. When the rest of quaterpelegics get home from vacation, this is going into dicussion. We are always looking for land to dream about over a bottle of wine or 6, and Panama sounds like a just the thing to round out the dreams.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

teasing and pressing???

Hairdo conversation??



Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I went with the "dim bulb" reference because it's a light bulb joke, after all, and these things are designed to be insulting.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 22, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

And if you're talking about pee as on trees, some dogs do that to refresh the smell, since they need the moisture to fully smell it, Loomis.
It just means the stain is kind of old and dry as benefits your current weather.

You may want to buy some Nature's Miracle if you have a problem with him revisiting old pee marks in house, porch, steps, etc. This is an effective pee smell remover, I hear.

And if you REALLY spoil your dog and want to make it easier for him to smell pee, carry some water in a spraybottle and refresh that fine wine odor for him.

Personally I wouldn't go that far, just remove my dog's nose from the tree etc. before he starts licking.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, Linda, I had been unsure of which was the "mommyblog." Man, it is boring over there. The name thread has 500 comments and as far as I can see (I almost fell asleep so I didn't read them all) EVERY ONE of them is on topic. What is up with that?

Maybe we should drop by over there once in a while as an act of charity, drop off some song lyrics or a tomato tale or a sky report, just to let them know the world is multi-topical.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 22, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

OHHHHHHH SoC! you made me teary eyed! i have to print that out for my mom! (tho' i think i'll change bogota for boquete - bogota is the capital of columbia!)

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Q: What do you call a Panamanian?
A: Umm... Panamanian?
Q: Ohhh. You've heard it, then.

Q: You know what's funny about Panama?
A: No, tell me, what's funny about Panama?
Q: I was hoping you knew.

I went to Panama to see the world's mightiest work of hydraulic engineering, and all I got was this lousy hat.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 22, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse


I never had an Atuocad tablet personally, but we used them at work until just a few years ago. Some new version of Windows destroyed all the drivers and they became obsolete. Some places had a lot of effort in custom tablet menus and such.

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

actually - there IS one funny/interesting thing about panama - it's the only country in the world where the sun rises in the "north" and sets in the "south" (panama's geography runs horizontal)

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

dr - the thing about land in panama is that you could prolly afford it! it's very cheap! but apprently there's a bunch of legal mess to deal with when you own land down there (we were looking to purchase land in bocas del toro)

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Been gone from the boodle a while running the dogs. But when I was there about 6 years ago, I paid my bills in US dollars and my Pannaman guest also paid lunch checks in dollar bills. I was doing a industrial vendor bid survey that was made in dollars. Side note: The manufacturing plant owner/manager was the Dutch ambassador to Panama.

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

mo, just so you know, that [Bogota] was the subtle part - it was written with the last word to be "Colombia" and was a reference to the artificial split from Colombia.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

oooo soc - that was downright umbrage worthy! artificial split? hey, panamanians are VERY proud of their independence from columbia! (so much so that columbians and panamanians typically do not get along at ALL) besides, panama (imo)is way more beautiful than columbia! (sorry a bea c!)

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Q. What do you call a Colombian with a really, really long lap pool?

A. A Panamanian.

Posted by: annie | September 22, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Leading Edge 8088 4.7 mhz 512 RAM 10 MiB harddrive and 1 floppy

Posted by: Tonk | September 22, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Good one, Annie!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

There is always legal mess when purchasing land. Fortuantley when one is dreaming, the legal stuff doesn't matter, only the wine, and when one is a gozzillionaire, just hire a lawyer.

In case anyone wonders, gozzillionaire just means a quarterpelegic bought some lottery tickets. We've yet to win anything other than tickets.

Gene is going to have a tough time beating that one Annie.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

A Panamanian I know sipped a cola,
too sore to say much more than "hola"
said "This crazy dentist, in all truth,
put me out, removed a tooth,
when all I said was I wanted a new mola!

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

What do you call something that's split in two and welcomes sailors...

No, better not go there.


Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

SCC: the word should have been bisected, not split...

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

SoC, wowsers.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Good limerick, SoC. Did you ever enter one in that Wagner contest?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

We're recoving from our second server crash of the day here in our building. Don't know what's going on wid yer feral gummint.

To answer your impertinent question, bc, pyramids were pretty much passé by my time; anyway, they were an Egyptian and Maya thing, and never made much of an impression in Europe until the Frogs rebuilt the entrance to the Louvre for the set of "The DaVinci Code." Oh, I'm sorry, instead of "Frogs" make that "French." Certainly don't want to bash anybody or risk reprisals from umbraged mimes everywhere.

No, we were into flying buttresses by then, and there was a lot of cathedral-building going on. You may be interested to know that the flying buttress was first discovered by an engineer from Cracow, Poland, who had come west to seek his fortune. His name was Thadsliewzxscykzxy Bulhocki (In Thadsliewzxscykzxy, the w is silent, but it is otherwise pronounced just like it's spelled; however, we just called him Thads, because ya know, we didn't have all day). At the time I was but a lowly draftsman working on the construction of the now-famous cathedral at Pont-le-Mons Haricort-Vert, renowned for its unusual U-shaped nave and its deviated transeptum (you've all undoubtedly seen photos of it in one of those giant coffee-table books, such as "High Above Byzantine Rubble" or "Ooops: A History of Early Mortar Development").

At any rate, we were having a great deal of trouble building the vault over the U-shaped nave because the vault walls just weren't strong enough to support the weight, and besides the bishop was so tight-fisted we were supposed to use jalousie windows instead of that fancy-schmancy stained glass. I mean, this wasn't exactly Christianity's most glorious moment, awe-inspiring architecture-wise, if know what I mean. So along comes Thads Bulhocki looking for a job, and we put him to work on the wall support problem. And before long he came up with the flying buttress, which works by transferring the weight from the nave wall to the buttress itself. And then you can have larger windows, too. It was win-win. The bishop was so happy that he immediately sent a letter to the pope offering him the secret of this new advance in church building. Unfortunately, the bishop wasn't much of a writer, and his missive read: "Take Thads' U-nave!" By the time this was translated into Italian and then into Latin it had lost some of it's nuance. The pope wasn't amused, and sent the bishop to Spain, where he was put in charge of rack and Iron Maiden development. (If I had been the bishop's speechwriter instead of his draftsman I like to think the course of history might have been a little different.)

Meanwhile, back in Pont-le-Mons Haricort-Vert, Thads Bulhocki and his now-famous Pole vault became all the rage around European cathedral-building circles.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

First computer: TRS80 Model III - 1 5.25" floppy drive, 1 audio-cassette tape drive, 32K ram

Second: TRS80 Model 4 - 64K ram, 2 5.25" floppies, 300baud external modem

Third: Kaypro "portable" w/8088 proc, 128K ram, 2 5.25" floppies, 1200baud external modem (all-metal case, keyboard snapped onto the front, very tiny internal 9" monochrom monitor, weighed about 30lbs)

Of all of them, I miss the Model 4 the most. Cut my GWBasic chops on that old monster.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to be unclear, but our dog's problem is licking other dog's pee, not his own.

It's not a matter of or the act of watering/refreshing his own scent. He dosn't lick his own pecker either, as you suggested in your first reply, nor does he urinate in the house.

Don't know if the source of his gusto and fascination is male or female--but he licks it on the grass, dirt, sidewalk, whenever we're out walking, which is almost daily. Better leash control on my part is a possibility, but I let him off the leash to run a large grassy area in the park or toplay fetch the ball with him there, but if he's not focused on the ball, he's focused on chasing scent and licking.

And as far as strange juxtapositioning, the bloom is hardly off the rose, as someone suggested earlier. Mudge has one of the sexiest brains on the Boodle.

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Since Mudge has mentioned Haricots Vert, I saw Haricots de Mer on Thursday at Pottery Barn, much to my surprise. They were in a plastic bag, but were light, much to my amazement. I immediately read the label.

Apparently these sea beans wash down the Amazon and onto island beaches. These that I held in by hand were from Haiti. They were burgundy in color, but I suspect they were dyed a fall color--maybe yes, maybe no?

Anyone know what Amazonian (or tributary) tree these beans (which look like smoothed river rocks) come from? I was amazed because I heretofore had never seen anything like them. Anyone know their story?

Posted by: Loomis | September 22, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

First computer: IBM 8088 with two count'em two floppy drives of 512K each, circa 1983. No clue what the clock speed was--probably was measured with a sundial or a sand hourglass. No baud, 'cause there was no modem to hook to, and nobody "out there" to talk to. One floppy was to hold the program (WordPerfect, probably 3.0 by then) and the other was to store the actual file. Thing weighed a ton. Came with "state-of-the-art" 9" monochrome monitor (I got the super-duper "green" print instead of that awful cinamon color). Came with a printer loud enough to drown out one of bc's dragsters.

Cost: $4,200. Still can't believe it to this day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Running like he11 for the bus before I figure out what Loomis meant by that. (Or how she knows.)

Everybody have a good weekend.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Panama, the panama isthmus caused a great american interchange of animals etc. north and south of Panama.

Which reminds me, anybody ever found out why so many animals evolved in the US, emigrated, then became extinct here? Dooley, any theories on that?

Why would have the ice age hit North America harder than Asia, for instance?

I know that Paris, France
(Latitude: 48.8667 Longitude: 2.3333 West) is more northernly than Quebec, Canada (Latitude: 46° 50' North Longitude: 71° 15' West)

(Quebec is almost exactly as north as Berne, Switzerland which is 46 57 N ).

As a matter of fact, take Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia at 47 54 N, 106 52 E.

Yet, the seasonal temperatures are much warmer in Paris due to the Gulf current. But this does not cover all of Asia.

What made the dogs, felids, equines, etc. flourish outside North america as many species went extinct within?

Did Yellowstone erupt?

I doubt the arrival of man alone was enough to wipe out all those animals, I mean look at the fact that some very useful animals went extinct-- horses, llamas, (even cheetahs) etc. while deer flourished like the plague.

Posted by: WIlbrod | September 22, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, ask Mrs. Mudge. She can tell you the answer to how we know and we do know.

Mudge, your 4:56? Thank you for levity, when I most needed levity.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

1st computer: PC jr.; word prcessing tasks oly, b/c at the time I ws rather computer illiterate. Some might argue the state is persistent to this day. I'm for non-instructional duty time at the homecoming game.

Posted by: jack | September 22, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

have you guys checked out the new TMX Elmo? (tickle-me-elmo-extreme) it's freakin creepy!!!

Posted by: mo | September 22, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The first computer on which I ever did anything, I never knew what it actually was. 1968, Indiaana University. Typing on a genu-wine Teletype.

First computer on which I actually did any work was an IBM, um... 3011? I forget. We marked our Hollerith cards with a Sharpie. Submit your cards, get your output in half an hour. In college, I graduated to keypunches. At my summer job, I worked on an HP-85A. That was back when HP thought that what people REALLY wanted was that famous bullet-proof HP reliability, performance be hanged. No floppies, just a cassette drive. Tiny monochrome screen. I also worked on a PDP-11/44.

VAX 11/730. VAX 11/750. First computer at my home -- an Atari 1040ST, borrowed from the university.

First computer I owned -- Macintosh si, 25 MHz, 3.5" floppy, 80MB hard drive. Color! Life was good.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, read my second reply on pee on trees. Yes, dogs rarely will touch their own pee or poop for long, I was thinking of other dogs' marks.

It's probably due to the dry weather that's driving him to lick any traces of scents. However, he could be thirsty, so water him well before and also bring water when he plays offleash.

Dogs normally produce copious amounts of drool that help moisten their nose and throats to help odor molecules stick to their noses. If your dog's nose tends to be dry, that may be part of the problem.

My own dog has a near-obsessive avoidance of walking on any poop or pee marks. He's as Felix Unger as you can get.

YET yes, he will sniff pee (at a short distance of 1/2 inch), and sometimes lick them off trees too, so obviously it is just plain part of dog communication and it's instinct that won't drive them extinct. However he does it once in a LONG while, not religiously.

Neutering in fact might help this if it's really a chronic problem. It would work even with mature males.

When off leash, try and keep him moving as best as you can. Otherwise, live with it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

dr, I think I must have missed something important. What are the references to quadriplegics about?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Quarterpelegic= people running on 1/4 of a mind... I don't get it myself, will have to check the greek roots later.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else notice the posts are running a couple minutes ahead of real time?

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Never mind! Need to brush up on reading my computer clock.

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

An in house (ok, bar in Calgary airport based) term, Sci Tim, not quadrapelegic, but QUARTERpelegic, as in functioning with only 1 quarter of a brain. No disrespect to the handicapped, just one of those silly things connected to copious beverage consumption.

You know those really old fashioned key punch machines? Back in the days of key punches my aunt worked at the U of Saskatchewan in that department. At the time of her wedding to my Uncle, her co-workers thought all those little punches would make great confettii. They collected the stuff for weeks, and had bags full of it. You could not go anywhere in the hall without getting a mouthful. Big bouffant teased and sprayed hair was tres chic at the time and my aunt can personally attest that it can take weeks to get little card punches off your scalp.

Wonder what they did with all the old keypunch machines? They went out and gave birth to the hanging chad.

Posted by: dr | September 22, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

My first computer was a Texas Instruments something or other that looked like a big keyboard with a cartridge chute where the keypad is now.

We had an Atari computer too (later)...had it until 1994 in fact. Almost skipped Win3.1 entirely. For kicks I popped a couple of old floppies with Atari text documents (saved using a program called 1st Word) into my Win95 machine a few years ago...and it read them! The spaces were squares, and the formatting was a bit off, but the document opened as readable text. I was shocked. Is there some connection between 1st Word and MSWord?

Posted by: GyppedOne | September 22, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

There's no specific, grand theory on why North American faunas went extinct here but survived elsewhere. A few provisions, though--

On a geologic time scale, North America-Europe-Asia were constantly exchanging faunas over the last 15-20 million years--more porous than the current US-Mexican border :-). So those faunas have been similar for a long time.

Most of the North American species went extinct everywhere during-after the Ice Age--not just here. And a lot of the survivors didn't survive all that well from a diversity standpoint. One of the biggest North American groups were the perissodactyls (odd-toed ungulates), that spread throughout the world and mostly got their butts kicked by the artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates). Horses, rhinos, and tapirs were all diverse in North America, but now most are niche players, with low diversity and limited ranges. (Horses are only a partial exception--they are abundant and widespread, but not diverse--there is only one living genus).

The North American artiodactyls didn't do much better--peccaries, camels, oreodonts, protoceratids and pronghorns were the major groups. Peccaries and pronghorns never spread very well, and aren't that common, there are only a few camels left, and oreodonts are extinct.

The major living North American herbivores are descended from European artiodactyl immigrants--deer and cattle (bison).

A few South American forms managed to succeed in North America, also. Armadillos and 'possums (and possibly porcupines) come from South America, and ground sloths were very successful here until they went extinct everywhere.

Carnivores are tricker. All the native South American carnivores are extinct, but dogs and cats went back and forth between the northern continents and Africa for a long time, and it's not clear where they originated.

So, to make a long answer even longer, the North American groups didn't necessarily do better than groups from anywhere else (except the South American groups, which got clobbered).
But those NA groups that went extinct here and survived elsewhere might have survived because those other places had a greater range of environments available to them. We don't have extensive high-diversity tropical regions in North America (like Africa, South America, and Asia), so there might not have been as great a variety of habitats here for groups to choose from.

Posted by: Dooley | September 22, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I heard that the state universities (MD) had a problem when they were finally able to upgrade. They couldn't unload their punch card machines without selling them because of rules and no one would buy them so they sat for several years until someone was willing to give them like $20 for the lot and dismantled them for scrap metal. Don't remember if it was U of MD or St Mary's...

Posted by: GyppedOne | September 22, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

First computer personally owned was a 486DX2 purchased in 1994. About $3K with an inkjet printer. Gathering dust in my parents' basement since about 2001.

Still using my 1991 VCR and 21" tv, however (about $500 each back then).

Wilbrod, I did call that other one in, but didn't hear anything. I did it too quickly; the timing is off.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 22, 2006 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Dooley, but did they cross over the bering land bridge? What climate during this period are we talking about?

I'm just asking because obviously, many of the animals from Americasia (Laurasia?) are now in Africa, and they must have crossed over millions of years ago (before Panama) as well.

As for successful, well we're talking millions of years ago up to classical times. Obviously there has been a steep extinction rate in the last few thousand years, that doesn't invalidate the fact they successfully spread and went extinct in North America long before the others did. Lions used to roam England when Rome was starting.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow.. what was the original topic of this Kit? Oh yeah... there were several. And you guys are dicussing pretty much none of them as far as I can tell.

I love this boodle.

My first computer, purchased in 1987: Mac Plus, 1MB ram, no HD, two 800K 3.25 inch floppy drives. We bought the Mac, MS Word, SuperPaint and the Apple Imagewriter dot-matrix printer for about $3,400.

I used to sit and just draw boxes. I had previously worked as a typesetter on a Mergenthaler Linotronic, which had a white-on-green screen, but wasn't WYSIWYG, so to draw a line I had to type in the X,Y coordinates. Boxes needed four coordinates. Forget circles; they just didn't happen.

We still have that Mac Plus. It's up on a shelf in my son's room with about 6 more Macs of that era. Every once in a while my son gets one down and will turn it on. They're still fun to play with.

Posted by: TBG | September 22, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

TBG, good to see ya--you survived the dental work!

Posted by: kbertocci | September 22, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

But on the other hand, we're giving Joel plenty of ideas for future kits!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Most of the critters and Africa/Eurasia didn't come from North America--or if they did, it was something like 50 million years ago. They periodically crossed back and forth between NA and Eurasia, via Bering and Greenland--The Ice Age wasn't the only time there were connections between them. During the earlier crossings, the climate was generally much warmer than now--lower sea levels allowed land connections to form.

Almost all the recent NA groups went extinct not only in NA, but everywhere. There are only maybe a dozen species that have recent NA ancestors, that are extinct in NA but still alive elsewhere (horses, camels, rhinos, tapirs), with the exception of NA descendents in South America. Those probably did survive because SA wasn't that cold (compared to NA) during the Ice Age.

If I'm not addressing the right question, tell me--the Piña Colada may be affecting my ability to read and write.

Posted by: Dooley | September 22, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I was told today that we are getting something called a hive computer.
Evidently this is a good thing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 7:49 PM | Report abuse

BTW, boodle, I'm gonna smack the first one of you 20-something whippersnappers who says their first computer was a Mac G-3 or a PC Pentium III with a 17-inch flat-screen monitor, 120 gigs of storage and DSL.

You've been warned.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Mudge, I don't even think I have that RIGHT NOW. Of course, my computer has outlasted most hamsters and may be moving into giving the average rat lifespan a run for its money.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

My first computer was an AT Clone with dual floppy drives, a Hercules Board and a joystick adapter. Then there was the 386 that I upgraded for years. It was sweet. For back in the Golden Age you had to really be in touch with your inner geek to perform an upgrade. You had to understand interrupts and cylinders and jumpers. Every new component promised an epic battle. I spent many a late night struggling with recalcitrant hardware. But that is all gone. The deathblow came when I bought a new hard drive that not only formatted itself, but also automatically copied the contents of the old drive. It was humiliating. I had become emasculated by Plug and Play.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

RD... if you want to reclaim your geekness, try remotely configuring a newly installed SCSI DAT tape backup unit on a SCO Unixware server located in Boulder. I'm no stranger to telnet and command lines (being the Linux geek I am, I actually prefer that to a lot of the GUI stuff), but talk about a P.I.t.A... it has a dual controller that can't seem to remember which channel or bus the darn thing is attached to, then when it finally sees the unit and you can actually have a chance configure it, the telnet connection drops and you have to start all over. It's almost enough to make a grown hippie cry.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Anyone care to argue whether it was growth in the CPU or the HDD that really made the PC a mass-market item?


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

hmm Martoon, may need to give you a call, we just had to have our DAT tape back up drive replaced. We have been having problems with it, our IT guy kept suggesting we format the tape, the only problem being that option is not available. It is greyed out on the menu.

Scottynuke I think price was what drove the mass market.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, dmd, but price in CPUs or HDD storage, that's the question... ;-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I would just say price, once you get beyond the small percentage like those of you on the boodle that truly understand how a computer works, the average person buys because they can, speed, storage all the bells and whistles are less important.

I would be a good example I am able to compare quite a few things for computers but the true item for me is price, I am not skilled enough to use a computer for more than the basics, to me what matter was having a computer with storage, a DVD burner, TV tuner, music, basically fun stuff and that only matter because I could afford it, however, speed is important since I work all day on a computer and have very little patience I try to get the fastest speed I can.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

If we are going to use me as the mass market (a typical user) perhaps a better reason for driving the market might have been the introduction of WISYWIG, or Windows 3.1. For the basic user the ability to see what you are doing was a great leap forward.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 9:36 PM | Report abuse

The faster CPUs haven't hurt, but I think cheaper storage is what drove the mass-marketability of PCs. Cheaper storage is also why operating systems and software are so bloated and buggy and prone to explode without warning. Think about it -- the Apollo onboard computers had less memory to work with than today's recently released Elmo TNG or TMX or whatever it's called. The software that controlled the craft, the navigation system, life support, etc. had to live on something like 64K of memory (I'll leave it to a less-lazy boodler to find the real number). That required some damn good programming. These days, you need a minimum 64MB of RAM just to get a PC to start up.

Aside from allowing programmers to be very sloppy, cheaper (and physically smaller) storage actually made PCs useful to the average person. I remember not many years ago when I though an 80MB drive could never be filled up. If digital photography, digital audio, etc. hadn't come along, that 80MB would still be hard to fill. I have something like 200GB on my home system (again... thought that should be more than enough when I built the box), but between my home recording sessions and digital photos, that's disappearing very quickly. Heck, my recording software needs something like 100MB of disk space for me to work on a 5 minute CD-resolution stereo track. I haven't started playing with video yet, but to do high-quality video editing, you're well into the hundreds of gigabytes.

So that brings us to a factor you didn't mention, Scotty -- physical size. When you tie that in with storage capacity, that's where the market exploded. Two gigabytes of memory on a little stick you can put on your keychain? A wireless telephone that can hold a library of hundreds of songs, thousands of photos, can browse the web, pinpoint your exact location with GPS, take pictures and video -- and it'll fit in your shirt pocket? Who'd a thunkit?

Now they've got devices that can store something like a terabyte of data on a single grain of sand -- literally, a grain of sand. It's not cheap -- I seem to remember a six figure price tag for the unit -- but you know they'll figure out a way to get the cost down enough to be able to sell them at WalMart for $199 and still make a profit.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Good points Martooni, my system at home also has a 200G hard drive, which is for recorded movies/tv shows/photos. It comes down to a chicken and egg scenario did I get such a big hard drive because I needed or because I could afford it.

I been thinking about why we upgraded from various older computers and for home use anyways, it was because we could afford the newer technology.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, for me it was all about the CPU. Through the 1990s our computers were all about running allegedly educational games for the kids, and these games kept demanding faster and faster chips to support the evolving graphics.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2006 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Now, let's not get too dirty talking about computers here.

The only reason I ever upgrade is speed and better monitors, I'm very sensitive to flicker. I never use all my GBs although now I have stuff that can use it up, that may start happening.

Hey, I forgot-- my first computer was a commodore 64. Good days, that little critter could run text-based RPGs, run a very simple word processing program, and even basic graphics. You just had to WAIT. I printed off my first paper ever off that computer and it took over 1 hour for 13 pages on that daisy-wheel printer. Very grey text too and I had to remove the chads. I underwent culture shock using a PC and an actual printer that printed somewhat better.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, forgot all about those daisy-wheel printers. But if you want a trip down Nostalgia Lane, remember those interchangeable font balls on typewriters? And I think you could switch between Pica and Elite.

(I realize, of course, nobody under 40 has any clue what I'm babbling about.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

My first printer was a Radio Shack DMP-2100.

It was "teh hottness" at the time. 24-pin matrix, wide-carriage, could print single sheets or continuous forms. Cost about $1800 at the time (1983).

Print speed back then was measured not by the pages per minute, but by the lines per second. Mine was pretty quick at 6 lines/second, but you had to literally bolt it down to a very heavy, very sturdy surface -- as the carriage whipped back and forth across the paper, the printer (and whatever it was sitting on) would move back and forth with it. Of course, there's nothing like the screeching/buzzing sound those things made. Dentists' drills have nothing on an old dot matrix printer.

I ran that bugger for about 10 years. Only reason it went in the dumpster was because you couldn't buy ribbons for it anymore. I tried re-inking, but the fabric ribbon would deteriorate after two or three recycles and (I learned the hard way) would snag on the print head pins and bend them -- no more perfect dot matrix.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I know all about those typewriter balls -- IBM Selectrics used them, IIRC. We used to liberate them from the typewriters when I was in high school so we didn't have to sit through another boring typing class of "ASDFJKL;" *ding*

The "ding" is what I miss the most. I had an old Underwood manual typewriter and that "ding" was just so satisfying. Get near the end of the line and DING! -- you knew you had ten characters to go and had to decide whether to hyphenate or start a new line. And on those old Underwoods the big chrome return was extremely satisfying to give a whack to. Talk about "old school".

The typing teacher caught on to our thievery though, and ended up Crazy Gluing the damn balls on to the machines. We could no longer switch from "elite" to "pica", as the manufacturer intended, but in her mind it was better we learned to type and she knew we couldn't do that if the balls went missing.

(somehow, that last paragraph sounds dirty)

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh... I almost forgot...

On those old Selectrics, since they were "electrified", they hummed.

It was almost like a pulse, like you were participating in one of those Star Trek Vulcan Spock-like mindmelds with a living thing. Put your fingers on the keys and you'd feel that bugger vibrate and the fan would be whirring and every time you hit a key the most fantastic "chunk" would happen. I always seemed to gravitate towards the "correcting" ones though -- was never good with Liquid Paper(tm).

Okay... now this is bringing back some memories -- and the mother of all tune cooties: "The Typewriter Song". Sorry. Just had to spread it.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Ah, typewriters. I saw one of those once, cleaning out a storage closet at the museum... :-)

Posted by: Dooley | September 22, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Dooley... I'm actually surprised we don't see more typewriters still in action. Even with our fast computers and laser printers, if you need to fill out a multi-copy form or just want to quickly address an envelope, that's what the old beasts were made for.

I've noticed that my bank still has a typewriter behind the teller area -- they use it to type up temporary and cashier's checks. The last place I worked at kept one for doing envelopes -- since everyone shared the laser printer, it took longer to tell everyone "don't print anything -- I need to do an envelope" than to just stick an envelope in the typewriter and be done with it.

But you're right... the chances of seeing a typewriter these days is probably limited to archeological digs in forgotten closets and storerooms.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I bought a secondhand typewriter somewhere around age 14 (even then they were on their way out). And yes, I used it. I did have to ask my mom to help me type a page because I was just making too many mistakes to get through a paragraph without drowning in white-out, but after that I got the hang of it and started typing up index cards.

With regret I finally threw that nice $2 typewriter out shortly before it was announced that no more typewriter ribbons etc. would be made anymore.

Typewriters do have a pleasant click clack feel that a keyboard can't duplicate, but that white-out is a pain in the a%%% to type over. You gotta admire Mark Twain's courage in being the first typewriter author.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of real museum pieces, what about rotary phones? You know, those old dial phones?

We had some nice black numbers too, with satisfyingly heavy wheels with holes in them. You'd put a finger in a hole and then drag that hole to the 0 position on the dial, relase, let the wheel spin back, dial the next number.

It was very tactile, you could feel the click and dinging of the phone. It looked just like the phones in 40's period-piece movies.

Boy. Now I am starting to think I grew up Amish.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2006 11:42 PM | Report abuse

my grandmother still has both a manual and a an electric typewriter. she had a selectric as well, but it died a few years go and ws replace with the current "really fancy) electric. whe also has a computer.

sadly mudge, my first computer was a 3.06 ghz P3 with a 15.4 inch widescreen. laptop. my current rig is a monstrous beast: 2 ghz dual core half terabyte of hard drive space, 2 gigs of ram, and managed to keep it under 800 bucks. and i got one o them fancy lightscribe dvd burners, which i haven't had a chance to play around with yet. oddly enough, it is currently plugged into a 13 year old monitor. i'm getting an LCD tv to hook it up to, but i don't have the free capital for that right now.

i also have some really old computers around here some where. an NEC laptop with the program disk/data disk system (remember when disk was spelled with a "k"?) which would probably flatten your legs if you actually put it atop your lap, and a TRS-80 portable, which i would have to dig out ot get the series number of. i've had some fun playing with those.

Posted by: sparks | September 22, 2006 11:48 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of typewriters and old tech has given me an idea for a Project (with a capital "P").

I want to take an old Underwood and wire it up so that it will work like a modern keyboard -- still gotta put paper in it, but the keystrokes would simultaneously be handled/recorded by a 'puter.

I then want whatever I type on the Underwood to display on one of those 1940/1950s televisions (the ones with the ovalesque B&W screens).

I'm thinking the internet connection should be split so that whatever data comes in or goes out gets converted into an analog signal that goes "ooooeeeeuuuuuuu" like in those old sci-fi movies.

For extra coolness, there should be some jars of bubbling chemical stuff and electrode gizmos that generate random zaps of lightning and go "bzzzzmmmzzzmmbzzz-POP-bzzzz..." and so on.

Of course, I would wear a white lab coat and tease my hair with taunts the French could only dream of. I've also been working on my maniacal laugh (not quite Frankensteen, but close enough for horseshoes and hand-grenades).

In other words, I want to create an "old school" machine that would work with today's technology and would make a traditional mad scientist proud.

Posted by: martooni | September 22, 2006 11:59 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who say, "remember those old rotary phones," here's a link for you. As my son says, the picture of the woman tells the whole story. Make sure you check out the Products link at the left:

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2006 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I have a Royal manual typewriter sitting by the fireplace, And my maniacal laugh is in fine fettle. I could coach you.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 23, 2006 12:13 AM | Report abuse

My parents gave me an electric typewriter for my high school graduation present. I was a terrible typist, so my papers were always messy, and I'd be up all night trying to get through a page without a mistake.

That website about leasing a phone brings back terrible memories. We paid AT&T a nominal fee for years, even though the phone was long gone. They told us we'd have to turn in our black rotary phone in order to stop paying them - but we really didn't have one. I think it got lost in a move. My husband finally called them and got us out of it - not really sure how he did it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2006 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Disk isn't spelled with a "k"? That's how I spell it (and I say day-ta, too).

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2006 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Some days parenting is really hard, even when your kids are fully growed. Son 1 is a motorcycle mechanic, and just after lunch while on a test drive to determine if a bike was repaired he found out the hard way that no, the bike was not repaired. Sometimes luck goes your way, and when you tuck and roll, you don't land on your head, no cars drive over you, and you come out of it more or less whole. Sometimes you just break an ankle and the other leg, possibly dislocate a hip, sprain your pinky and have one of the finest cases of road rash known to mankind, and are really really glad it happened that way. 2 broken limbs sounds pretty darn good tonite. Yessir, sounds pretty darn good.

Posted by: dr | September 23, 2006 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Yikes - you're right, it could have been worse, but it sounds pretty bad to me. Hope he recovers soon - you, too. Everybody, be careful out there!

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2006 2:16 AM | Report abuse

dr, sorry about your son hope he has a speedy recovery.

Posted by: dmd | September 23, 2006 7:14 AM | Report abuse

dr: I have had my share of motorcycle accidents. I hope for a full recovery for your son. I'm off to the first band competition of the season. Driving the bus and helping to set up props is the fare for the day. Our VW Thing, if all is right with our mechanic, is supposed to be ready today.
The restoration took longer than expected. Alas, we won't have time to pick it up until tomorrow.

Posted by: jack | September 23, 2006 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Didn't know you had a Thing, jack. If you're ever in the Northeast Ohio neighborhood, you'll have to stop by and meet my Stella (70 Bus).

This spring I'm going to start my search for a Beetle vert to restore for my daughter. She's only four now, so that gives me 12 years to get it done (which I'll probably need, considering all the other unfinished projects lurking around here).

btw... do you need moon hubcaps for your Thing? I've got a set (no VW emblems, just plain chrome) that would fit 1971/72 and later wheels. They're no use to me because Stella has "early" wheels and the caps aren't deep enough to clear the hubs. You can have them for the shipping if you're interested.

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2006 8:46 AM | Report abuse


I hope your son recovers quickly and fully!


As for the CPU/HDD discussion, I used to write for Data Storage magazine, so you know where my sympathies lie... :-)

Actually, I do realize it was more of a symbiosis in the "old days," since it didn't make sense to have loads more processing power than data, or vice versa. But I DO think the ability to permanently store larger and larger amounts of data outpaced growth in CPU clock speed, and probably nudged the chipmakers to move a little faster. These days, it's no contest -- storage is going WAY faster than chips.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I have an electric typewriter sitting on the floor in my living room, and it hasn't been that long since I stop using it. Guess that gives my age away. Pat, did not walk this morning, so sleepy and tired, I cleaned all day yesterday.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Read the piece about the so-called death of bin Landin? The French saying they don't know that to be a fact.
Also read where Bill Cosby is asking Americans to donate eight dollars for the slavery museum. I just wonder is it possible to tell the true story of slavery in this country? I don't believe everyone wants to hear the true story. I doubt some want to hear the story at all.

Please remember that God loves you so much more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 23, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

You should check out the slavery museum. It's being founded by Doug Wilder. He wasn't too popular as a governor, he was too aggressive with education cuts although his balanced budget goals were good. He's now mayor of Richmond now, though.

I think the story should be told. The website is so right, the plantations and other historic places in VA just gloss over slavery as part of existence. I grew up in Virginny so I'm delighted that there will be an attempt to give a contrasting voice, privately funded by exactly the people most concerned with the story being told.

Fredericksburg VA is accessible from DC by VRE. I don't know how one would get to the museum from the VRE stop. Also, VRE doesn't run on weekends.

As for what Cassandra said-- This exhibit was criticized for making the slave trade sound worse than slavery in Africa, in classical times, etc. "Slavery is slavery." That is still true.

Slavery (aka sex trafficking, human trafficking) is still alive and well in this world, especially in Africa, and it's important not to sugarcoat the concept at all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the link for the National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg is at:

You shouldn't confuse this website with this one:

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

Cassandra, it doesn't matter if people stop their eyes and ears against the story. As long as some people listen, the story will be remembered.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I saw the headline for the speculative news story about the possible demise of bin Laden about an hour or so ago at, when it was a piddly 8-pt. headline under "More Headlines." Now the story has been expanded and is getting full play, with a large headline, on the home page. (I wanted so badly to call it out at the time, but the buzzer on my oven had gone off, and it was time to start baking a batch of oatmeal cookies.)

To expand greatly on Cassandra's call-out, a small French newspaper is reporting that it has learned through sources that bin Laden died on Aug. 23 in northern Pakistan from typhus. According to the report, UBL allegedly suffered partial paralysis of his organs and because he was so remotely located, he was unable to receive the appropriate medical attention.

Chirac won't make further comments, nor will Britain, our State or CIA at this time. Saudis are scrambling to get more facts.

For me, this speculative question raises a host of speculative questions. Is this just another Elvis sighting-type story? It does make me wonder when (date) Musharraf inked his deal, his peace pact, with northern Pakistani tribal leaders (easy enough to Google)? Does only Simon and Schuster know for sure? Is that why Bush, Musharraf and Karzai are meeting in D.C. early next week--or is the timing of this story from a small French newspaper simply serendipitous? Is this Bush's planned or unplanned "September surprise"?

If the story of bin Laden's death turns out to be true, would this change our so-called Global War on Terror? How? Would the Egyption physician and al Qaueda's number-two man al Zawahiri become the next al Qaeda bogeyman? Would the troop strength in Afghanistan and Iraq be reduced and would our men and wonmen who serve in these two locations begin to come home?

Posted by: Loomis | September 23, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's Time magazine's early reporting on the purported bin Laden demise:,8599,1538569,00.html

My error in my previous post: typhus and typhoid fever are quite different. One has only to recall our country's famous Typhoid Mary. WaPo had a chat with an expert on Typhoid Mary about two years ago--the woman prof who wrote the book on Mary Mallon.

Was bin Laden so remote that a common antibiotic such as Cipro was not available? Interesting, too, that Chirac is now instigating a leak investigation. Notable, too, the names and positions of French government higher-ups who received the bin Laden intel report last week, single-sourced.

Judith Walzer Leavitt is a professor of medical history and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public's Health (Beacon Press, 1996), on which the NOVA program "The Most Dangerous Woman in America" was based.

Posted by: Loomis | September 23, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

ABC News reporting--with some humor:

After all, in the five years since the Sept. 11 attacks, there have been several reports of bin Laden's demise.

"He has been reputed to have every disease or every medical condition known to science except pregnancy," [former counterterrorism czar and now ABC News consultant Richard] Clarke said. "And all of that has turned out to be false."

[Whoa, hold on a minute, Clarke. Aren't you exaggerating just a wee tad--every disease or medical condition known to science? Kidney problems, sure. Tinnitus? Acid reflux? Gout? You name it?]

Despite the prior reports of bin Laden's death, he kept churning out audiotapes that suggest he is still alive. The last time he was seen on video was in late 2004.

That may be why one senior American military official had this reaction to the latest reports of bin Laden's death, "Please, show me the body!"

[This senior military official has been watching the movie "Jerry Maguire" on DVD too many times. Next thing you know, this unnamed senior military official will blurt out at his next interview: "Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at 'hello'." ]

Posted by: Loomis | September 23, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse


I lived in Fredericksburg for a couple years, and took the VRE almost every day. Took a look at the Web site, and the location they've identified is just west of where I-95 crosses the Rappahannock. That would be a very long walk indeed, and even a significant (15 min under good conditions) drive from the Amtrak/VRE station downtown. Maybe they should include a shuttle bus in their plans.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, insider knowledge on the slavery museum!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I bet the judge needed this explained twice to get this absolutely straight who was police and who wasn't.;_ylt=ArbUG75i7ZFFX0hrn2U8BXEuQE4F;_ylu=X3oDMTA4cmUwbnA1BHNlYwMxNzAy

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of bizaare tours de force, I'm trying to wonder if it takes longer to train a service dog or to develop skills on domino-like games and then to ACTUALLY do this video.

What say you, physicists?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

that domino thing is crazy! i can't imagine not accidentally setting it off, or parts of it, as i'm sure segements were kept unconnected until the end. way too much patience required.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 23, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see the slavery museum, and sincerely hope that the story is told in truth, not hushed up because some folks might be offended or fear something, what I don't know. I've always felt that this country needed to open the wound of slavery and acknowledge it, and do what one does when hurting another human being, apologize. No one has ever said that, just keep piling on stuff. Always talking about the future, but still dragging the past right along in the future. I guess people think that as time passes the generation that remembers will die out, and everyone can pretend it never happened or it can be watered down that it becomes inconsequential. Some of our kids don't believe that at one time an African-American couldn't walk in the front door of a business or eat in resturants. Some of them even say, "that's what they say" as if they don't believe it really happened. You know like some people say they don't believe the Holocoust happened, that's the tone they use. And that bothers me terribly. Because it speaks to their lack of knowlege and that history not taught. When I went back to school, I took an African-American history class, and it was so watered down, that administrators checked the teacher's daily lesson plan to make sure nothing was taught but fluff. I guess they thought some of us would get up a riot or something and turn the school out.

I know it's a hard subject, and no one wants to really hear it again, but we need to in order to move on. Well, some will say I'm moving on, and perhaps you are, but slavery has left it mark on my people, and on this country. And if it was a case of no trace of this ugliness in today's society the arguement could be made, well we don't have problem, but that is just not the situation.

As I've often said, there is not one thing in this country that race does not touch, it even follows us to the grave.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 23, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

That's sad Cassandra. I learned about the Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement... but you really get to HS before you study the 60's in detail, which is of course the centerpiece.

In a way it is good and bad. It speaks to how quickly we have adapted to the new civil rights situation. 120 years or so ago, there was a popular anti-Irish sentiment-- "no Irish need apply" for jobs. Well, the Irish applied and they became part of US society and can be found in all stratas of society.

African-Americans were held back from achieving success in spite of prejudice ONLY by institutionalized racism, and people who still could keep the fear of slavery and second-class treatment in them. Once the civil rights movement took the lid off that, African-Americans began to achieve better.

Think of Exodus. It took Israel 40 years of wandering in the desert, and that's a lot considering you probably can walk from Egypt to Israel in 2 months even at a pace of 4.4 miles a day, as long as you have the water and supplies with you. Even at 1 mile per day, it would have taken less than a year.

The biblical interpretion as I always learned it was that the people who had been slaves in Egypt had to let a new generation grow up free of the memory of slavery so they could be strong to lead and form a new nation.

(Of course, the second re-taking of Israel was not the same situation at all and they are still paying the price over 50 years later. But anyhow.).

What would you like for them to know the most? What lessons should they remember today? What of biracial children with white and black parents?

Should they also know about apartheid in South Africa? I think so, because even siblings were labelled as white or colored on very superficial differences in color and hair, when in truth most of them were all mixed blood anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW Scottynuke, I just lost your e-mail. If Mo has it, I'll ask her for it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

A column from a book reviewer at Time magazine about his relationships with bloggers and emailers...,9171,1535852,00.html

sample quote:

"...Ed isn't my only weird, ectoplasmic Internet relationship. My life is increasingly being invaded by these people. There's a woman (or a man, or possibly a robot) named MoFlo4Sho who e-mails me a couple of dozen times a day with her various insane thoughts about religion and celebrities. It's one of the singular features of our little social-technological moment that people all over the world whom we otherwise would never even be aware of can effortlessly impinge upon our minds and lives and desktops. We probably see fewer people in person these days, but our lives are populated by an entire chorus of disembodied presences, amplified and directed by the Internet, as if we had all begun to suffer from a mild form of schizophrenia. Everybody talks a little louder now. There's a little less mental elbow room."

Posted by: kbertocci | September 23, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

FINALLY back from the band competition. Carria (my daughter, pronounced CarREE, old family name going back four generations)and the band came home with four firsts: best colour guard, best percussion, best musical performance (Tommy), and best of six bands in their group. I watched the same show with my wife and the other two children Friday night at homecoming and it was awful. It was a great performance. I witnessed today's show at field level, as part of the Pit Crew; I did double duty as the bus driver hither and yon. We had two 1/2 minutes to set up the persussion instruments on the sidelines, the props on the sidelines (large wire spools, flags, large silver "pinballs"), the props in the middle of the field, and this large aluminum contraption upon which the conductor stands. We set up in two min., and loaded out in 1 1/2 min.. I got a workout that rivaled anything I've done in the past six months. Well worth it for the kids' benefit.

Martooni: Thanks for the offer. The Thing isn't ready, but when we get it, it'll have new caps. If yours are German, I may take you up on it. BTW, gravity has yet to claim the cupboard. I think that the cleat bowed on the ends, drawing it away from the wall. It's still on my list, however, as gravity is insidious.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2006 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod: Great sketches from the Pirate BPH. Is everyone, including Wilbrodog, a southpaw? My Dad told me that I was changed to a righty, making me ever the more curious when I read an article regarding the genetics of handedness. Ironically, my left hand is far more damaged than my right; I've the scars and no-nail to prove it.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2006 1:04 AM | Report abuse

i've had trouble posting comments today, so let's see if this works.

the national slavery museum sounds like something really worth supporting.

cassandra, your comments are always very interesting. in l.a. people seem to discuss problems of racism pretty openly, at least compared to other parts of the country. sure there are people who choose to ignore the topic, but it's pretty hard to avoid with l.a. being so diverse.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 24, 2006 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. KB, there is a point in that excerpt. I suspect we do talk to more people over the Internet than we do in person. Lurker, we need a national conversation about slavery and its lingering ugliness, but I don't know if that's possible, some folks are still living pre-Civil Rights days in this country. Wilbrod, it's just not one of those happy topics, and so many variables come up in the conversation, and I believe all the more reason why we as a country should have this conversation. There is a lot under the surface that needs to come out.

I still can't believe what happened in South Carolina between Bush and McCain.

We had a slight earthquake about fifteen miles from where I live early Friday morning. Barely registered on the scale (3.5), but was felt but some. This has happened before in this same area in the late 90's.

I do hope your weekend is going good. I'm up so early, just could not sleep. I want to go to church this morning, and hear a good word from that wonderful book I read most. And in that book, after reading so many of its chapter, I've come to know that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | September 24, 2006 4:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Cassandra! I was up early myself, but not quite as early as you. I love waking up early on Sunday and having the place to myself. It's so peaceful. I can read the paper, go online, and generally prepare myself for the day and the week.

We went to the mountains yesterday, so I was tired and went to bed a bit early. My husband is in the process of realizing a long-held dream: we are buying a small second home in the NE NC mountains. It's under construction and we're supposed to close on it in a couple of weeks. October will be crazy busy, as we work to get everything set up in the cottage, get through a conference the first weekend of the month, and prepare for the wedding of my older daughter's best friend in early November.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2006 8:12 AM | Report abuse

TBG, loved the story about your dad. What a wonderful person!

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Slyness: I sent you a message to the URL thet TBG provided me. Did you get it? I'm still loking for a guest speaker from the CFD. Cool news about your 2nd home. My aunt lives in Hendersonville, giving us a respite from the heat here in the Piedmont when we visit.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, beautiful morning here, it was warm and muggy and rainy yesterday, today is full of blue sky, small puffs of white clouds racing across the sky, cooler temps and windy. A gorgeous fall morning.

Cassandra history was one of my majors in university, it was always a subject I was interested in, I had a good background in it from my family (there is a joke in our family that road trips were basically just tours from one historic plaque to the next), as well I had some outstanding history teachers in high school. By the time I reached university it was well ingrained in me that learning about history should be as honest as possible.

Have a great day everyone.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The "face on Mars" curiosity came about from a combination of shadows, and the low-resolution images of the time. Contemporary high-resolution images of the same area are quite innocuous.

Posted by: Jerry Fritschle | September 24, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Here is the link for the excellent story on TBG's dad:

My apologies if someone has already posted this.

Posted by: pj | September 24, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse


That's a truly wonderful remembrance! And if you ever revealed the Bowie Kuhn connection before, I missed it!!



Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link re. TBG's dad, pj; I've been looking forward to reading that.
A nice story, but I prefer listening to TBG (and the few members of her family I've met) talk about him.

I seriously doubt that Joel's RD this week has any relation whatsoever:

Cassandra, I don't think you'd find anyone who does not think the story should be told. Why not tell it yourself from your point of view? I know I'd want to read it.

Back onto computers for second, I still have shoeboxes in the basement full of punchcards to run cobol and fortran programs (oy). And I have a completely manual Olympia typewriter down there too, so that I can write my own take on things When It All Goes Wrong.

Mudge, I liked the whole Architectural Indegestion bit including the Thad and the Pole vault.

martooni, jack, I know a few VW guys nearby (in MD north of DC) if you're looking for starter projects and parts. There's also a place in York PA on Rt 40 there that has a fleet of VWs for sale, many that look to be in fine shape. I try not to go there, lest I leave with a title and a lot less cash than I walked in with.

dr, I'm sorry to hear of your son's accident, and I hope he has a quick and complete recovery. I've seen a lot of that myself.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Jack, Wilbrodog is indeed a southpaw. I don't think the others are. I'm right handed but left-eyed, so don't pick on my neurological wiring mess.

You've heard that Chrysler about every painting being really a self-portrait of the artist? None of them actually posed so I just drew the swords on MY right, facing the paper. Duh, just felt right.

I've heard a theory that camera obscura were used by the great Renaissance masters because "so many portraits are southpaws."

So either I'm influenced by the masters, or as I would submit-- painting people as lefties is just the over-mirroring of the artist's imagination. ;).

I also often draw fingerspelled hands as left-hands, for the same reason that's the hand I'm looking at when I draw. So I'm much more comfortable drawing left hands in complex postures, I guess.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 24, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

pj, thanks for posting that great story on TBG's dad.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 24, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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