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Suggestion for Bush Speech

I'm somewhere called Naperville, Ill., which is one of those boomtown suburbs with an aging central district thoroughly transformed into Bethesda. That's my impression, though the heavy cloud cover and sunlessness has disoriented me and it's possible I'm actually in Indiana. I'm in the Midwest. Last night I ate at Sullivan's, a fine steak house in which I took over most of the bar in front of the plasma and had heated flesh with a side of iceberg lettuce and blue cheese dressing. Also horseradish mashed potatoes. It's all quarks and gluons, gussied up. I told them to hold gluons and they didn't listen.

Story idea for Style: The quest for iceberg lettuce. Can iceberg lettuce be rehabbed? What about Wonder bread? What about Cheez Whiz? Do today's younger folks realize that there's a highly processed ham loaf named after unwanted emails?

I had an idea for Bush's speech tonight. I'll try to post this before the speech to see if he can work it in. Here goes: We should designate Reduced Kinetic Energy Zones in certain urban areas. It's not the speed that matters, it's the overall energy. E equals M times V-squared -- something like that. (Or is it F equals MA? Heeeelp meeeee....)

Google leads me to this Amory Lovins piece about why we should switch to lighter vehicles:

"A modern car's engine, idling, driveline, and accessories dissipate seven-eighths of its fuel energy. Only one-eighth reaches the wheels. Of that, half heats the tires and road or heats the air that the car pushes aside. Only the last 6 percent accelerates the car (then heats the brakes when you stop). And since about 95 percent of the mass being accelerated is the car, not the driver, less than 1 percent of the fuel energy ultimately moves the driver--unimpressive, considering it is the fruit of 120 years of engineering effort."

Smaller cars of composite materials might get a couple of hundred miles to the gallon and be a perfectly acceptable means for zipping around inner suburbs and commuting to a job a few miles away. But we'd have to do something to keep such motorists from being crushed by an SUV or an 18-wheeler. So you just outlaw anything over about 2,000 pounds (except buses). Regulate the kinetic energy the way you regulate speed.

This doesn't mean that people can't buy and drive a Chevy Suburban (an '05 is 5,268 pounds -- empty!), or a Chevy Tahoe (5524 pounds!). Just not in my neighborhood.

This is probably idle overcaffeinated speculation: MSNBC reports that GM is still banking heavily on monster SUVs:

"Even though Detroit has been roundly criticized for its overdependence on big, truck-based vehicles, industry analysts and executives say it is far too soon to begin writing the obituary on the SUV category, which rocketed to prominence in the 1990s and now accounts for one of every four vehicles that roll off dealer lots."

[At the Starbucks in Naperville this morning I found this pretty good newspaper called the New York something or other, and it had a story on the billion-dollar presidential campaign and how it will obviate (gosh I love that word -- probably misusing it) the federal campaign financing program.

But the really amazing piece, for those who would like to see The Surge discussed less abstractly, was by the New York something's reporter who camped out at a new U.S. military outpost in one of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad. They call this outpost "the Alamo."
Great foto too of U.S. medic helping a sick Iraqi girl.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 23, 2007; 2:11 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: On "Hillary" vs. "Sen. Clinton"
Next: SOTU: What did you think?


I was struck at age 11 by that scene in the original "The Fly" where Andre's head on the fly struggling in the spider's web screams "Hellllllp Meeeeeee". I always worried though about the logic. Clearly Andre had his own brain after the transformation because he acted rationally (under the circumstances). But what, then, was the fly using to scream? Maybe Bush could address this issue tonight?

Posted by: miamibob | January 23, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

you know what really ticks me off? bush is cutting into my american idol time!

Posted by: mo | January 23, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous Kit...

Think being the worst president in US history doesn't take its toll? Compare this picture...

With this one...

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This is not one for the book.

CulinaryTim's Helotes' Soup

1 Red Cabbage, with the outer leaves showing brown spots, too dried and wrinkled to use. The center should still be OK though.
½ lb. of white mushrooms, left too long in a plastic bag so they are a bit slimy but they should be OK after washing them and cutting out the worst parts
½ lb. of Portobello mushroom caps, with the tops showing some dark spots and the lamellae starting to get pretty dark and sticking together.
2 medium onions, starting to smell funny but they should be OK if one or two outer layers are removed.
2 tbsp butter, that has been kept in the same compartment as Spanish blue cheese (kosher/vegetarian version) or
4 slices of bacon slightly discolored but still smelling about right. High heat will take care of it anyway.
2 tbsp instant chicken bouillon powder, dried into a block inside the can.

Pare the cabbage and shred the leaves that are good enough to keep in thin strips. A slight sulfurous smell is OK, brassica always evolve a tiny bit of hydrogen sulfide while maturing. Cut in really thin strips if the yield is lower than expected.

Peel the onion and remove any soft layer or brown spots. Dice finely. Start the ceiling fan and open the windows (should have done that first thing).

Wash the mushrooms in plenty of water; forget about the delicate brushing these things they were grown in horse manure after all. Remove the really soft dark bits. It's OK if the mushrooms are a little bit slimy; it's because of the plastic bag. High heat will take care of it anyway. Slice thinly.

Melt the butter or the slices of bacon cut-up in small strips in a large pot. High heat will take care of the cheese smell or slight rendering plant aroma. Add the onions then the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms render their vile, dark juices. Add the cabbage. Stand back, most of the hydrogen sulfide will be released right about now. Let the veggies wilt in the fat, that shouldn't take long in the state they were to start with.

Repeatedly pour boiling water in the can of dried bouillon to soften it up. Add the broth to the pot of veggies. Pick at the hard residue with a paring knife or other pointy instrument. Put the chunks in the pot and add 2 pints of Helotes water. Boil about 30 minutes and serve hot.

@Shieking Denizen

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 23, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh, great, I get so far behind miss an entire boodle (I posted that link for mo blind), plus Tom fan is slacking: Third sentence in previous Kit has a typo. I mean what is this place coming to.

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I liked the part in the remake of The Fly when Brundlefly puked on his doughnuts and sucked'em back up.

Kinda puts me in mind of what we will hear tonight. Talking points that have been vomited upon and sucked back up just to be regurgitated later, in an even more offensive form.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Note to self: if ever having a meal with SD, I do the cooking. And apparently, the grocery shopping.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 23, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Yep, ShriekD, that's just about right. Those mushrooms were getting pretty funky, so I boiled 'em for a good long time before puréeing the whole mess with a blender.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | January 23, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Don't give that trite time dilation excuse "Dr. Einstein." You clocked out at 200KJ easy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

De-dorked-Tim, there are indeed 79 episodes of the original Star Trek series. I had heard somewhere that there were originally 80 but one episode never aired, but I find that suspect because I would expect that to be included on the DVD. Isn't that the standard practice: to include un-aired episodes (unless of course it was lost).

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

If you do not have access to Helotes, TX well water, an acceptable substitution is an entire container of Liquid Smoke mixed with two cups of raw sewage.

Mm Mm Good!

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Last night, the Daily Show reviewed Mr. Bush's previous SotU speeches. There was one clip in which he pronounces some patent nonsense about how the Iraqi people are now liberated and safe from bad people, after which his eyes sharply flicker to the side. You can see that he's checking to see if anybody's buying it.

Hey, Joel, your links in the addendum are no good. No good, I tell ya! They just lie there, complicated and unlinky. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

Posted by: Tim | January 23, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait there are 80 if you count the pilot, but I'm still mystified by the unaired episode, which if it does exist would make 81. I'm confused in addition to mystified now. Please ignore me now

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

See, that would be about 100mph in a 1000 pound car. Get it? Ha HaHa.

Tough room.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Dang, so I forgot the correct number of Star Trek episodes. Isn't the "missing episode" the original version of The Menagerie, for the original pilot? It was cut up to make the two-parter episode with the classic cast, but I seem to recall that enough bits have been recovered that it was possible to reassemble a pretty fair version of the original production. It should be on some DVD edition.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | January 23, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Here is your unofficial State of the Union drinking games rules, good luck all.

Posted by: dmd | January 23, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for Reduced Kinetic Energy Zones. In fact, I think this might be the energy solution which pushes Arbusto over the edge. One way or another.

Iceberg lettuce is still food, though not really. Cheez Whiz is not. Wonder finally gave up and fortified Wonder Bread with everything, including fiber. I think it is cardboard fiber, but it goes well with the Cheez Whiz and iceberg. I'm glad to hear they served Joel iceberg, though - the mark of a true Midwestern steakhouse.

Which is the quark and which the gluon? I look forward to reading about Fermilab. If it weren't Joel writing I know I wouldn't understand a word of it. I've been ruminating about auntie-protons, tia-protons, tio-tons, etc., since yesterday. Perhaps we could measure SUVs in tio-tons.

Still no water at my house.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 23, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Amory Lovins, whoever you are, and thank you Joel for bringing that article to our attention.

I liked the kicker at the end of the Lovins article, too:

"The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. government."

No kidding...

Posted by: kbertocci | January 23, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh great. I have now sunk to the point where I can burn food in a microwave. I am sure it was set for 1 minute. Honest. &*$$%@&

I currently drive a Ford Focus. Its most important features are that it has heated seats, a cd player, and is yellow. Since its not so great on fuel for its size, mrdr is pushing for a new model of something else. I guess I will since he is not falling for the list of features.

The big SUV's and trucks are going to still have a home in Alberta. All these young people with too much spare bucks and not nearly enough brains seems to translate into foolishly sized toys.

Regarding Spam, that mighty meat substitute makes occasional forays on r family camping trips. What can I say. It keeps. Its just right for those times when you might get stuck in high mountain campgrounds by storms and washed out roads. It is every parents responsibility to make sure his children know spam so they can avoid it, just like email.

Posted by: dr | January 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Bad links? Jeepers. No quality control round these parts. Let me see what can be done.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, although kinetic energy goes in proportion to mass, it goes as the square of velocity. Drop your speed by 10% and you decrease your kinetic energy by nearly 20%. That means the best way to conserve fuel and keep yourself and others safe is to drive just a little bit more slowly.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ya think anybody will figure that one out, RD? I try to stay at or just above the speed limit and it just kills me when people fly by, only for me to catch up at the next light. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Dangerous, too.

Posted by: Slyness | January 23, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Amory Lovins:

Posted by: Grimm | January 23, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Cheese Whiz in a spray can is an entertaining way to spend a dull evening. Just get out some of those little chicken-flavored crackers and before you know it you have a remarkable detailed model of the Taj Mahal. But with more sodium.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Typo and links fixt, I think. Thanks for the flares.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 23, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

A game that can be played alone or with a friend.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - I've done that too. Although I do think it wisest to keep the smug look off my face when I catch up with Mr. Big Truck with Gun Rack.

This whole small-vs-big vehicle should be familiar to any of us who must drive the DC Beltway. I know from first hand experience that a little Saturn Ion is no match for one of those big 72 wheelers. (Fortunately the excuse that the driver couldn't see me because my car was too small didn't wash with Friendly Mr. Trooper.)

And when I suggested to my wife that I might get a motorcycle to save money she simply inquired if I wanted cremation or open casket.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Cheese whiz,they still make that stuff,and spam...wew that would make a pretty nasty sandwich....unless of course it is between 2 slices of wonder bread

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 23, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the article a while back that tells about the troops in Iraq using Silly String to check for booby-trapped rooms? Maybe Bush will mention the Silly String.

Posted by: Dave | January 23, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

RD- If you get a motorcycle, PLEASE don't go for open casket. Save us the awful memories.

I have my VW Beetle TDI, which gets pretty good mileage, in the same driveway as my father-in-law's monstrous quad-cab dually (or is it Dooley?), whose gas mileage is questionable, to say the least. Suffice to say, I live on both sides of the fence. I love the efficiency of a car I don't have to fill up but once every three weeks. On the other hand, I am literally King of the Road in the monster truck, plus it can carry a crapload of stuff in the extended bed. I am conflicted.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Cheez Wiz from a jar makes a dandy sauce for Broccoli au Gratin. Heat a little olive oil or butter in a sauce pan, add frozen broccoli and stir vigorously until soft enough to eat, then add the Cheez Wiz, turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for a few minutes. Stir before serving or eating straight from the pan (you *know* you want to).

College students, you just can't get this kind of important cooking tip from parents, who are too inclined to say "eeewwwwwww!" This is because they spent many years eating the same sort of thing as a dietary staple. Remember, vary your diet; your parents wish that they had done so. Between Cheez Wiz, Ramen (many flavors), ketchup-and-water soup, breakfast cereal, and a few occasional vegetables, you should be able to satisfy your nutritional needs, your budgetary needs, and your laziness needs for years at a time. And never underestimate the mighty bean, source of food goodness and the creator of, shall we call it, the Zone of Privacy. Mix a can of refried beans with a can of chopped chilies, scoop it up with tortilla chips, and you have a fine Mexican meal.

Another helpful tip -- always locate departmental parties and cruise the vegetable trays. It doesn't matter whether you were "invited"; it's your school, too, dang it! The offerings may not be your flavor preference, but it gets you those important amino acids and other trace nutrients.

At my university, we had two resident homeless persons (who appear, subtly disguised, in Stanley Elkins' novel "George Mills"): Sam and Betty. One, or both, somehow managed to get wind of every single event in which food was offered in some sort of free buffet-like configuration, even if there were no advertising at all. You knew that you were nobody if Sam or Betty didn't deign to graze your offerings. If Sam and Betty could make a lifestyle from university mooching, despite a near-total lack of personal hygiene, then you should be able to do it, too.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | January 23, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

the best way to watch the SotU is to be well prepared: Two hours before the start of the speach drink one shot of blorph (your favorite brand will do, mine as most of you know is Jim Beam) followed by a few swigs of a good beer (I prefer Becks). Finish that beer in a half hour and repeat. By the time the speach begins you will have had four shots and four beers and will also be sound asleep. When you wake up with a nasty hangover the speach will be long over. I'm positively sure that a nasty hangover is preferable to watching a shrub give a speach...

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I have it on good authority (my wife) that Cheez Whiz (R) has mysterious anti-cancer agents deep within its molecular structure. And it's even healthier on a whole-grain cracker.

Posted by: CowTown | January 23, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The incredible shrinking television season. A full season of TV in the Honeymooners era was 39 episodes. Once someone invented VTR and realized they could run repeats, it shrunk to 26 episodes in Star Trek era.

Season 1: 29 episodes
Season 2: 26 episodes
Season 3: 24 episodes

The standard television season is now just 22 episodes except for things like '24' where we would notice them cheating us.

Cable networks will order anywhere from 8 to 20 episodes as a season. In Britain, the standard season is just six really good episodes.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I am not going to watch the speech. I will just read the transcript. Because when I read I can stop and calm down a little before going on.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Joel's in the Upper Midwest! That's MY neighborhood. *Feverishly straightening desk, tipping over dry vase full of dead flowers, which fall into gap between desk and wall* Drat!

Posted by: CowTown | January 23, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

This really relates to yesterday's Kit, but I just got an email from a friend that says...

At last! A bumper sticker that is available for both parties. FINALLY, someone has come out with a 100% bipartisan political bumper sticker. The hottest selling bumper sticker comes from New York State.


Democrats put it on the rear bumper.

Republicans put it on the front bumper.

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I can't win, either. After 18 years in a minivan, I was ready to downsize and had picked Matrix/Vibe as my model of choice. My husband, who has a Dodge Dakota, vetoed that. We compromised on a Rav4, but he insisted on the largest engine Toyota offers. I made him pay the difference. OTOH, nobody - NOBODY - passes me if I don't want them to. The car can fricking fly...

Rav4 averages 24-25 mpg, the Dakota 13.

Posted by: Slyness | January 23, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Eugene V. Debs is frequently invoked in hushed reverence by the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. I don't have a concordance, but I'm pretty sure he gets a mention in at least three of them.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Tim - I'm amazed! Sam and Betty lived with me and *my* Sci-Tim the whole summer of 1981. I sent Bill McClellan my memories of that summer recently in an e-mail and he said he might use it in his follow-up after the memorial, but he didn't. Had enough material without it, I guess. Loop apartment, no a/c, two cats, two homeless persons - what could be more romantic?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 23, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

time to go home and prepare to prepare.

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What can I tell you, Yellojkt, great minds think alike.

Posted by: kbertocci | January 23, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute - Sullivan's? As in "Steak Martinis and Jazz?" When I was last in Naperville (not Fermilab but that other place up the road a spell) we ate there. Totally destroyed my per-diem, but good stuff. And the mushrooms were top notch.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Life is full of coincidences, Wheezy. I once dated a woman who, sensibly, dumped me. She later married a guy named Tim, who is in my scientific field, broadly speaking (it's her field, as well); whose father is in the same field as my father; whose principal hobby is the same as my principal hobby back then; and there were a few other parallels as well. Life is weird.

For whom was the memorial? For your Sam and Betty, or for your Tim?

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "Steak, Martinis, and Jazz."

"Steak Martinis" are just scary sounding.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I recenlty finished Hocus Pocus and that's the first thing I thought of when I read the name E.V. Debs. There is a character in it named after Debs: Eugene Debs Hartke, the main character.

Really gonna go now, been at it 8 hours 48 minutes and I don't get no overtime...

Posted by: omni | January 23, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Tim - Betty died 12/26 - they had a memorial for her at the School of Social Work last week. Sam, who is 85, is still alive and trying to clean up the mess she left in their house (they had a house the last 10-15 years, left to them by their other brother).

I couldn't follow your web of coincidences. Only part I could take away was that you were dumped once by someone who married another sci-Tim. Not me - I never dumped anyone named Tim. Married one, but that's another matter. My Tim's degree was in physics.


Posted by: Wheezy | January 23, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Waitaminute -- are you talking about a real Sam and Betty? Washington University in St. Louis? 1981?

Do I know you? You can e-mail me by checking my storytelling web site,

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

A chap named Colin Chapman built cars many years ago with a philosophy, "Add lightness."

His cars won a lot of races, a lot of championships, and were known for some significant leaps in automotive technology.

Colin was very aware of F=MA and Issac Newton and Bernoulli and a lot of other intersting folks. Colin died in 1981, and while he wasn't a perfect guy by any means (and neither was the build quality of his cars, frankly), but the ideas he propgated are still around today.

His company, Lotus, is also still around, and makes a variety of featherweight sportscars that have the performance of larger, more powerful equipment, simply due to that same philosophy 50 years later.
Lotus engineering also provides their lightweight chassis designs for a couple of electric and hybrid cars I'm aware of, FWIW.

I can not tell you how many hours I've spent taking weight out of race cars to try to get them to be more efficient machines. I have a pretty good collection of trophies as evidence that it *does* work, including some "Index of Performance" trophies, which we won not by blowing people's doors off but by figuring out how to go further on resources (fuel, brakes, etc.)than the other guys. If you can run a long race having to stop fewer times than your competitors, you don't have to chase a win, sometimes it comes back to you.

Get rid of that junk in your trunk tonight, and you'll be a little more fuel efficient tomorrow.


Posted by: bc | January 23, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Pretty sure I don't know you, Tim. I am talking about Wash U in 1981, though. My Tim got his BA that year in physics. My browser won't cooperate with that e-mail platform and it doesn't list your e-mail so I can paste it into my Netscape/Yahoo e-mail. Are you old enough to have been there way back then?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The other coincidences were not intended to include you, Wheezy, but to show that odd coincidences occur. Sometimes, we really can have a Doppelganger. My ex-girlfriend married a guy who sounds, on paper, just like me. In practice, of course, we are quite different -- I have no crazy notions that she was pining for me and took a substitute instead.

Anyway -- apparently, you and I were in college together. Have we been over this before? I don't recall it. Or were you faculty? Or what?

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I dropped out of Wash U in 1978. I lived in the neighborhood and helped support a classmate of yours, though. Then, after kicking Sam and Betty out, we moved to New Jersey to Bell Labs. This is what I sent to Bill McClellan (columnist for the P-D):

Betty slept in our sunroom/front entrance hall for
most of the summer of 1981, a student apartment in the
Loop. Sam slept on the patched genuine Naugahyde
recliner in the living room. They seemed so ancient
to me then, when I was 21. Doing the math, Sam was
only a little older then than I am now (he'd be better
at the math than I am, obviously!). She had a nice
little junk pile, about 3'w x 1'd x 4'h, going right
beside her bed, just inside the front door. It was
mostly slightly used brown paper towels from public
restrooms. But there were good things in there, too!
Once, driving in to our parking lot we saw an
abandoned flip-flop stuck in the asphalt and joked
that we should get it for Betty. No joke - by evening
it was atop the pile!

Ah, but Sam could quote the opening lines of the
Odyssey from memory. He was such a sweetie, too.
Betty mostly complained about how hot our apartment
was. They tried to stay out of our hair - came in
late in the evening and left early in the day. Woke
us up at 6 or 7 a.m. by scooping our cat box and
flushing the messes down the toilet, their
(self-imposed) contribution to the domestic economy.

They would eat our food only if I insisted that
otherwise I intended to pitch the leftovers. Betty
accepted a skirt from me when I claimed it no longer
fit me. They took nothing else from us, except the
ability to use our living room after 9 or 10 at night.

Then a friend in a crisis needed to stay with us, so
we told Sam and Betty they had to go elsewhere. And
I've felt guilty about that for almost 30 years.
Betty never took any of her pile, although we
encouraged her to, and when we moved out of state a
few weeks later the landlord dealt with it.

Since moving back I would see or hear something about
them occasionally but thought they had died some time
ago. I hope Sam knows that when you Google him his
name shows up on a site crediting Math professors with
their students' successes. He's got one or two grad
students whom he taught who listed him as their

Anyway, I've been thinking about them since your story
and wanted to post this to a blog, but couldn't find
one, so I'm sending it to you.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 23, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I am about three years younger. My BA was 1984, in physics. Yes, I'm that old (the picture on my web site is a few years old, by now).

email: tim tales at comcast dot net

Translate as appropriate (remove spaces, translate characters) and you'll get me.

Wow! This *is* an interesting development.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"Get rid of that junk in your trunk tonight, and you'll be a little more fuel efficient tomorrow. "


I have been trying to lose the last five pounds of it for the past year, but still my efficiency suffers.

As does my belt.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

bc - I had a feeling you would *weigh* in on this topic! (Where's that rimshot when you need it?)

Tim - As you probably recall the coincidences don't end there. You are clearly some sort of nexus in the time space continuum.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

How about reducing the impact of speed by making them low momentum (mass times velocity) zones? To reduce unfortunate large/small vehicle "interactions" we could have low momentum lanes, perhaps slightly separated from conventional lanes on the freeways.

We use the low momentum lanes as an inducement (avoid congestion), with the following twisted reward system: you want to use the special lanes to go fast during busy times. But to go fast and qualify for the lane, you need a light vehicle. If you try to qualify for the lane with a heavy vehicle driven slowly, you get blasted by horns from light vehicles. AND (super bonus extra feature) when traffic's really congested and everyone's going slow, all the lanes can be used by everyone going 15 MPH.

Everyone's still free to drive whatever vehicle they want; they just get fewer choices with a heavy car.

I like momentum because then you can say, "low momentum lane" or "low momentum zone" and it sounds suitably bizarre.

People didn't like the 55 MPH limit in the energy crisis of my youth, but the save time incentive might appeal.

Posted by: Fifty | January 23, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Wheezey at 4:05 says "Are you old enough to have been there way back then?", referring to the year 1981, which was an entire decade after I marched happily away from my alma mater. Sheese, I'm feeling a bad case of 'Mudginitis coming on.

AND, I got junk in my trunk. Tons of it, and I don't mean my automobile. Hellllpp meeee.....

Posted by: Don from I-270 | January 23, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

One thing (out of many) that bugs me about Fearless Leader's "new" plan is the way that criticism is dealt with. Is it a new rule or something that nobody's allowed to say anything about any plan unless they immediately have a better, proven strategy to counter it? I sincerely wish that this rule had been in place when the neocons were talking about taking us to war in the first place. We all see the reception that those who have different suggestions get: ISG is marginalized, former generals are ignored, current generals are replaced... The list goes on and on, and the administration's response to criticism that this rehashed boat won't float is, "Oh yeah? So what's your plan, smartypants?"

And some of you actually voted for this petulant little boy.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the low-momentum lanes, but you would need to maintain an entirely separate low-momentum road network. Otherwise, you would still have low- and high-momentum vehicles crossing each others' path in order to enter/exit the highway, and that could lead to badness. I suppose you could do it by having left exits for low-momentum vehicles and right exits for the tanks. It would require a lot of construction, no matter what.

Yes, apparently I *am* a space-time nexus. I should tell my parents.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the somewhat dated bumper sticker that I saw on Friday: "Don't blame me. I voted with the majority."

Unfortunately, the joke is less resonant since 2004.

Posted by: Tim | January 23, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Wait - Tim - you mean *you* have parents too?

Okay, so that one is reaching a bit.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Ok, bc and you assorted engineers, hot-rodders, gearheads. et al. riddle me this:

Sticking (for once) to the topic of fuel efficiency and wasted energy, I've been told that much of the fuel waste is the result of the fact of incomplete combustion due to the inefficient atomization of the fuel droplets. That is, even the most finely atomized droplet burns only about 12 to 15 percent during the combustion stroke. This is compared to about 80 to 90 percent burn rate of a pure gas vapor.

So, why don't we vaporize gasoline before it enters the combustion chamber, rather than atomizing it? I'm picturing a little flash chamber and vapor pump rather than fuel injectors.

Somebody once told me that a bunch of inventions along these lines have been made, but the patents are all held by big oil companies, who, obviously, don't want them being used.

Is that just so much urban legend? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | January 23, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Not only do I have parents, I have a superfluity of them. The ScienceKids are down to just one grandpa (ScienceGrandpa) fallen from an ordinary high value of 2, but they have 4 grandmas. Sometimes that seems like it's not right, but there's no ethical way to cull the herd.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

As far as adding lightness goes, it's well known that the fastest, most reliable, and easiest to maintain parts of a complex system are the ones that aren't there.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Urban legends usually have a grain of truth in them, and sometimes that grain is a boulder. Oil companies (with)holding patents for engine efficiency sounds like a boulder to me, but I am paranoid.

And I dislike oil companies almost as much as I dislike prosports.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I have hitherto avoided all the calls for recipes on the Boodle because my cooking is completely based on previously published works. But CulinaryTim's mention of college student eats made me nostalgic for the college quarter when I ate nothing but spaghetti nearly every night.

Brings back the memories.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

That makes THREE boodlers that have a connection to Tim outside the Boodle.

Remember DadWannaBe? (Is he still around? Hope he's doing OK.) Doesn't he have a work connection? Or bought a bike from Tim, or something like that.

Wow, Tim. You *really* get around.

Wheezy, you sound like a nice person, letting homeless folks set up in your apartment. Don't feel guilty about what you *didn't* do. Sounds like you did plenty.

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of our *Fearless Leader*
Everytime I hear that term I think of Bullwinkle and him attending Whatsamatter U

Now that was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 23, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any suggestions for Bush's speech; I have the entire text of the State of the Union speech itself, which I found on a park bench near the White House this afternoon. Here it is, in it's entirety. (This will save you from having to watch it tonight. You'll thank me tomorrow.) One may note that it contains instructions to the president in brackets which it is hoped he doesn't read aloud, but merely follows, god willing and the creek don't rise.

Good ev'nin', my fellah Muricans. T'night, before I get inta the meat, the beef, the...uh, ya know, main section of my speech, I'd like to welcome the new faces I see before me in the Congress. And in a spirit of bipartisanship, I'd like to welcome you members of the Democrat Party who have successfully completed a coup against the majority party, the TRUE party, that ought to be rulin' this great country of ours, if only people had more common sense. Anyways, in a spirit of that bi-whatchamacall it, I'm sayin' howdy, and I'm lookin' forward to workin' with ya to do things my way. [Pause for applause]

And right behind me sitting on the dias for the first time in history we got one of the lovely members of the distruff side, the first woman Speaker --or mebbe I should call her speakerette, heh heh heh - of the House, Ms. Nancy Pelluchi [pause for applause], representin' the fine folks of Haight-Ashbury, many of whom I'm sure are perfectly fine heterosexual people. It just shows you that great things can happen for a woman who is willing to give up her life as a homemaker and mother and to abandon her children in the care of other people all just so she can advance her personal goals and agendas [pause for applause]. And so I salute you, Madam Lady Speaker. [Turn to shake Speaker Pelosi's hand. Try not to grab her by the shoulders from behind or give her a noogie. She's as prickly as that Kraut b1tch, so watch yourself, Mr. President.]

And next to the Little Lady from Napa Valley I'm sure many of you may recognize Vice President Dick Cheney [pause for applause], whose picture has been in the newspapers from time to time. We've wheeled him out here from his secure undisclosed location in a bunker under some hotel resort place we got out in West Virginia, Sweetbriar or whatever they call it--whoops! hey, guess it ain't so undisclosed, now, hey Dick?--anyways, I want to thank Vice President Cheney for the swell job he's been doing fightin' the War on Terra for me as well as the War on Terra Insurgents in Iraq and running herd on the fine folks at NSA and other security services who are monitoring any and all communications coming in or out of these United States to seek out and destroy the enemies of democracy who hate us for our freedom [pause for applause]. Dick, thank you. [Turn to shake hands with the Vice President. Be sure to sanitize your hands afterward from the gunshot residue on Cheney's hands; there's a bottle of Purell's on the top shelf under the podium.]

Now, as to the State, the stature, the standing, like, the condition, ya might say, of this here Union. Ya see, heh heh, I been runnin' things now for six years, and doing a pretty good job. Oh, sure, there was a couple bumps along the way, but bein' president is hard, it's hard. And I work hard. Ever' day I work hard, and I come home at night to the White House...well, I work here in the White House -which I guess is over there down the road, actually, but you get what I'm sayin'...anyway, I come home ever' night to the White House and I say, Laura, I worked hard today. Hard. Worked hard for the Murican people, even the ones in the Democrat Party whether they deserve it or not, because I believe in bein' the president of all the people, not just the good ones like you and me [pause for applause].

So, anyways, like Richard used to say on Allie McDill, "Bygones," right? And then they'd play an old Barry White song and dance. So I say we in the Murican government need to remember that great lesson of healing and comin' together and singing Barry White songs in the bathrooms of the Murican workplaces, and, uh, the baňos that make this such a great country. [Pause for applause.]

So speaking of bygones, right, I think we can agree just to disagree about Iraq and go on to other matters as quickly as possible, such as cutting taxes [pause for applause], honoring Murica [pause for applause], fixin that outmodaled Social Secureness, ah, Securitivity, uh, Secureablity, that was re-enacted back during the Great Depression, which I never did think was all that great, but in any event Murica is no longer depressed, least ways I know I'm not depressed, nor are any members of my ministration, and so we need to join together in a spirit of biparticleship and eliminate that Social security threat to the future of our oft-sprung children and our children's offsprings and those who will offsprang ahead of them for generators to come.

'Nother thing we've got to band together in a spirit of bi-spartanship is fix the Medicraid and Medical Care system that is bankrupturing our young people and not giving our old people the neglect that they come to expect from their loved ones who put them in nursling homes and afflicted-living centers [pause for applause].

Ya, know, as I look up into the gallery here tonight I see sittin' next to my lovely wife Laura some great Muricans who we need to honor tonight. First there's Lenny Scutnick, who did somethin' heroic back in 1987 or somethin' like that, and who was available on short notice, because we had somebody else sittin' in that seat who got the flu that's goin' around and we had to fill that chair. Lenny, yer a great Murican, and I wanna thank ya fer yer service to whoever it was you were serving at the time you did that servin' thing we're honoring you for. And I can't think of a better way to say it that like that.

Next we've got a little crippled kid. I can't exactly see him 'cause he's crouched down in his seat. Or maybe her seat, I can't tell from here if that's a girl or a boy, what with his or her head bein' shaved like that and hey, all bandanas look alike anyway, don't they tough? So anyway, we've got this brave little kid up there fightin' one disease or another, or mebbe even a couple of them, and that's a great testament that's testifying to the fact that there's no durn need to go around using fecal stem cells for research and killing embrions and sternos and things, which I'm sure in a spirit of biparticleship we can all agree on doing it my way and not the way of godless heathens who want to murder helpless babies to accomplish their misbeguided ends.

I think that about does it for the State of the, ya know, the country, and so I don't see any hands for questions so with that said, I'm outa here. [Pause for thunderous applause. Run for exit.]

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Boris & Natasha = Karl & Condi?

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Gomer - I hope the experts weigh in but I suspect there are three problems with the scheme.

First, vaporizing gasoline takes energy. This needs to be taken into account in the overall efficiency of the engine.

Second, the increase in volume that comes from igniting vaporous gasoline is probably a lot less than the increase in volume that comes from igniting atomized gasoline - and hence less work can be performed on the piston.

Finally, I suspect there may be some safety issues involved.

As for conspiracies? I don't think any entity is powerful enough to suppress technological advancement for long.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

If Cobalt Rossi shows up here (no stealing that as a handle), then I'll know that something strange is happening.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - you are a twisted brilliant man.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Don from I-270 - oh, I could go into a long discussion about fuel injection, but I'm going to just say a couple of things:

You're right about gas vapor burning more efficently than atomized liquid fuel, but gas vapor's tricky stuff to move around in a hot IC engine compartment. And to make sure that there aren't problems over the course of car's typical life of 150 - 200k miles. If there's a leak, or worse, an accident in a minivan, and a sudden cloud of gas vapor is emitted, yikes. Product liability lawyers will be all over that.

Liquid gasoline (or diesel) is a lot easier to manage all the way to the injectors, and safer.

Now, carbs and fuel injection have come a long way, with the latest common rail direct fuel injection systems, fuel can be metered pretty precisely into a combustion chamber, and injectors can be controlled on an individual basis with the newer systems rather than batch fire systems (ones that control fuel injectors in batches due to onboard computer and programmatic limitations) that were common until recently.

A lot of this stuff could have been done years ago, but it was very expensive. The piezoelectric fuel injectors for common rail systems weren't ready for production until about 10 years ago, and it's taken a while for manufacturers to redesign engines to be able to utilize them well (and make them worth the money to use).

Sorry about the length. Gotta head home now.


Posted by: bc | January 23, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

RD- Ask and ye shall receive. As soon as you made the request, I Jeannie-blinked bc into writing that reply. He is smart, but I am the bada$$ with magic powers.

Speaking of which, I shall now blink myself home.

BTW, thanks for the speech, Curmudgeon. Looks like I'll be watching something else tonight... maybe a Star Trek marathon's on.

Posted by: Gomer | January 23, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Watergate conspiritor E. Howard Hunt has died at age 88.

Posted by: pj | January 23, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Of course, perhaps the fuel could be vaporized after injection into the cylinder, in the brief instant before ignition... perhaps RF excitation of the cylinder contents? Microwave heating? Hmmmmm.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 23, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the lightly-processed canned meat named after unwanted email made of pork shoulder (i.e. front-end ham)?

I suppose that with the big show tonight, the testimony of Gen. Petraeus may get a bit less attention. The Post and Brand X Newspaper are running entirely different headlines, anyway.

Abu Aardvark's comments on rising anti-Shia sentiments in the Arab world are discouraging (to us, I think, as well as to Shiites, including Iranians).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 23, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the lightly-processed canned meat named after unwanted email made of pork shoulder (i.e. front-end ham)?

I suppose that with the big show tonight, the testimony of Gen. Petraeus may get a bit less attention. The Post and Brand X Newspaper are running entirely different headlines, anyway.

Abu Aardvark's comments on rising anti-Shia sentiments in the Arab world are discouraging (to us, I think, as well as to Shiites, including Iranians).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 23, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post! I solemnly affirm that the Machinery notified me that my first attempt at posting had failed for lack of a comment. I guess it was just a puff of hot air.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 23, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Two Tales of a City and a Mulch Fire

I sashayed into the Helotes City Council chambers after the closed-door meeting of various governmental bodies assembled Monday to discuss the unquenchable Helotes mulch fire. (The room was almost pulsating with body heat from the supercharged debate between the 40 to 50 people who had gathered here, much better than the colder hallway from which I had stepped.) I moved from right to left across the room, until I sidled into a converation between the heavy hitters--those with the best titles, engaged in the most animated conversation, who lingered a long time to hammer on the pressing environmental, health and social issues resulting from the flaming disaster.

The players:

The TB&H, mustachioed, outspoken and fearless Jonathan Allan, mayor of Helotes

The pleasant, middle-aged and truth-tellin' and citizen-protectin' Linda Boyer-Owens, assistant mayor of Helotes

The solid, generous, proud and helpful Mac McNell, disaster services, American Red Cross

The very short, friendly, nonthreatened, non-dismissive and non-finger-flickin' Richard Garcia, head of the San Antonio office of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The GQ poster boy (snappy, snappy dresser!) and seriously intelligent Dr. Bryan Alsip, physician and director of clinical services of the Bexar County Metropolitan Health District

Since access to the meeting was restricted (I'm not a reporter? Dang me, dang me! They oughtta take a rope and hang me!), I do not know the proposals presented or ensuing discussion or arguments that took place during the hour and a half the meeting lasted. However I can pull together facts and issues and the-back-and-forth--a bit of the whole lapalazoola--from the huddle that I listened in on:

Linda Boyer-Owens, assistant mayer of Helotes:
(As you recall, it was she, who replied to the statement after the fire first erupted that the the citizens of Helotes were not having their breathing and health affected by the fire, "It's affecting me!")

In addition to the 80 families that are now being sheltered in local hotels because they cannot reside in their homes because of the polluted air and overpowering stench, Boyer-Owens said that there are at least 80 families who are staying with families, friends, and in hotels of their own choosing. Because of the shifting winds and variable weather conditions, she knows of some families that are gone from their homes two to three days at a time, which is disruptive.

[Discussion about how agencies cannot force people to leave their homes.]

Mac McNell, disaster services, American Red Cross:
The Red Cross can set up and open an emergency shelter in 20 to 30 minutes, once given consent to do so by a school district, McNell said. The Red Cross can maintain a shelter for 30 to 60 days, and after 60 days other options can be considered, he said, adding that keeping a shelter open for 90 to 120 days is doable and not impossible. [Hurricane Katrina, anyone?] The Red Cross, while the firefighting was taking place a week ago, had opened two emergency shelters with very few takers.

[There's talk about shelters that may be open for four months? And TCEQ's Terry Clawson is suggesting that it will take only another two weeks to extinguish the mulch fire? Somebody' a liar, liar with his pants on fire.]

Presently, the American Red Cross is supplying snacks and beverages to the TCEQ Strike Team, contractor Oil Mop, and subcontractor Williams from Vidor, Texas at their job sites. They also have a table of free snacks and beverages set up inside Helotes City Hall. Nice.

Richard Garcia, San Antonio office, TCEQ:
The consensus is not to put water on the fire, Garcia stated, after which Helotes Mayor Jon Allen immediately asked how a fire can be fought without water. [Heeeellpp me!] Garcia then offered somewhat later in the conversation that perhaps the plan can be tweaked to use the minumum amount of water. [What is the minimum amount of water? Water, water everywhere and two known wells with drops that cannot be drunk.]

Dr. Bryan Alsip, director of clinical services, Bexar Metropolitan Health District
[Discussion about long-term effects of breathing unhealthful air with high levels of particulate matter.]

Boyer-Allen raised the question of whether there were problems with intermittent exposure to smoke, especially after two months' time [so far, ONLY 29 days have passed since the fire started]. Alsip replied that four months of light smoke inhalation would be less dangerous than intermittent exposure to smoke in high impact areas. In his reply he used the two words "higher morbidity."

[Somebody's gonna die? Do y'all know where those high impact areas are so the good citizens of Helotes and on the surounding hillsides might skedaddle to cleaner air? There was rapid-fire talk by Alsip about smoke low against a hill or high against a hill. Anyone got the Hill Street Blues or Smoky Views?]

Alsip said that a major concern is the air quality for a three- to four-month time period, and that Bexar Metro Health would need state assistance in order to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Altanta, Ga. and its HDSDR [Health Department Subcommittee Disease Registry? We're gonna be diseased...or deceased?] on the air issues.

[Again, there's talk of a three- to four-month timeframe?]

Jonathan Allen, mayor of Helotes
The curious man, full of questions and given no answers:
The smoke is worse at night. Why aren't you monitoring that?

Can we get some handheld monitors to test visibility?

Can we get data feedback of air quality in real time [so that we can convey this information to our city's citizens]?

Cam the federal Environmental Protection Agency help us with air monitoring [by working through the state]?

Can we get indoor air quality monitors? Can we get them at the schools?

What do we tell the local residents--thet there is no predictive measure of when the air quality will be bad?

Can the CDC folks give us any sort of timeline and tell us what we can do to be more proactive?

How can I reassure citizens?

One person involved in this saga has a story with a potentially very happy ending:

Esequiel Campos was, as you may recall he is the diminutive, ever-so-funny, and quadruple-bypass 65-year-old who ferried me closer to the fire so that I might get a better look. He whispered to me that he may soon be a multimillionaire when he sells his 128 acres of land adjacent to the new Toyota manufacturing plant on the South Side, near what was the old Applewhite farm.

Posted by: Loomis | January 23, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Don, Padouk and bc, you guys are talking about technolgy that vaporizes gasoline BEFORE combustion. There was a variant of that technolgy back in the late 1800s used in boats before electric launches and gas-combustion engines were invented and used in boats. Instead of using (and boiling) water in steam engines, a guy named Frank W. Ofeldt invented what were called "naphtha" engines (naphtha being the old word for gasoline, which at that time was a waste byproduct in the oil distillation and cracking process). Ofeldt's engine burned gasoline underneath a bigger cyclinder also containing gasoline, to heat it to vapor. This vaporized gasoline then turned a turbine, the same way as a steam engine works. The gas then condensed back to a liquid and returned to the boiler.

The advantages to the naphtha engine were many: gasoline boils at a much lower temperature than water; you only needed one tank aboard instead of two for a conventional steam system (a water tank, plus a fuel tank or coal bunker or whatever), which simplified plumbing; gas was a waste product and was dirt-cheap since nobody wanted it; gas condensed easier than water; and because gas boiled and cooled so much better than water, a naphtha engine could be built considerably smaller than a comparable steam engine. Therefore, it could be placed in the stern of a boat rather than in the most dersirable (meaning money-making, meaning the center hold space).

There was only one little itty-bitty teensie-weensie problem with naphtha engines that boiled gasoline: they tended to explode spectacularly from time to time in giant fireballs, which tended to create severe marketing problems for Ofeldt. As soon as electric launches(circa 1892) and internal combustion engines (circa 1895 or thereabouts) came along for boats, naphtha engines disappeared forever.

This Nautical History Moment has been brought to you by Cheez-Whiz, the Official Cheese-like Dairy Product authorized for use on the Official Philly Cheesesteaks everywhere. (Though I'm a provolone guy myself.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Don from I-270 - sorry for making you feel old. I'm feeling ancient today, myself.

TBG - thanks, but we really weren't all that gracious to the old folks.

Curmudgeon - speech was hilarious. Going to force myself to watch how himself messes it up, though.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 23, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I will not forgive you. Since you posted it twice, I open the link and now I have a headache.
I think I will now go kneed some hamburger and turn on the grill

Posted by: bh | January 23, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Excellent speech, Curmudgeon! Hope the Prez finds the unlocked door this time.

Posted by: CowTown | January 23, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, your speech was a gem. Hope you don't mind that I copied/pasted it and sent it to a friend. With full credit, of course

Posted by: Nameless | January 23, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Be my guest, Nameless. I'll just put the $1.95 on your tab.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, have they talked about adding ventilation to make the fire burn hotter faster and cleaner? Of course I have no idea how one would do so (I have a picture in my head of giant blow dryers, worhty of a cartoon by gosh).

I seem to recall reading something about doing that type of thing in stubborn smoky fires. Its like beating the fire at its own game.

Posted by: dr | January 23, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dear. Arguments are beginning in the Libby trial. Can't we all just try to get along?

(There's a cool pix of Libby getting out of his car with his attorney, tennessee Ernie Ford. And here's a shocker: Ol' Ern says Libby's being scapegoated; Karl Rove did it.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Only $1.95 'Mudge? It's worth more than that. But I don't subscribe to paypal or whatever that thing is called where you pay online.

Posted by: Nameless | January 23, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Tennessee Ernie Ford... that's the first time I really DID spit Diet Pepsi onto my keyboard!

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

scc, worthy

Posted by: dr | January 23, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

mo, saw this and thought of you. Goth may now be chic in D.C. Cripes, could you see congressional pages now with black lipstick and lip rings? Cool.

Posted by: CowTown | January 23, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Darned if you haven't completely nailed it, Mudge. It IS Tennessee Ernie Ford!

Posted by: Slyness | January 23, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, do you recall a couple of years ago or so when there was big old tire fire by Tracy, CA? All the experts surmised it would burn for months and smoke up valley so everyone couldn't breath. A couple of Red Adair types came in with drag lines and long reach backhoes with improvised heat shields, tore up the burning edges of the pile and it burned out in a couple of days.

Posted by: bh | January 23, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

There is ONLY one suggestion I could make for Bush's speech which would improve it immeasurably.

You know those geico commericals? Bush should just hire somebody else to give the speech for him.

All he has to do is stand up and say "I am your president. And this is the speech." and sit down and let an actor deliver the goods to the nation, with emotion, passion while he tics away in his seat.

Then maybe I WOULD watch the State of Union address.

It's about time we realized being president is a busy job. We shouldn't ask the poor man to do what he so mainfestly sucks at, when he could be like, saving the world and democracy, you know?

Any nominations for the perfect actor/comedian to be giving Mudge's speech in place of Bush?

Jeff Foxworthy?

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 23, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

*sniff sniff*
*nudge nudge*
*cocking ear*

"The boodle's dead, Jim."

Posted by: Wilbrodog | January 23, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Will Farrell would be great at giving the SotU in Bush's place.

Fortunately, I'm still at work and won't have to worry about accidentally stumbling across the speech while flipping through the channels.

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

It's not dead, dog, it just doesn't want to get involved. My nominee for the stand in for the speech tonight is Lon Cheney, posthumously.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 23, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

That's Lon Chaney, but couldn't resist the homophonic respelling.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 23, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I like that nomination, Shiloh. Alive or dead, Lou Chaney Sr., the man of a thousand faces, and the son of deaf parents, could do a much better job of conveying the emotion anyway.

Also, I bet his W. impression would be KILLER.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 23, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

His son's not bad either. Although it's difficult to see W. selecting a guy famous for horror movie roles to stand in for him.,_Jr.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 23, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I think I saw Lon Chaney, Jr, walkin' with the Queen.

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

More to the sense of the man, Wilbrod, the speech would be SILENT.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 23, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

And we all know silence is golden....

Yep, can't go wrong with that guy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 23, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

TBG - and I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's.

His hair was perfect

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, did he have a Chinese menu in his hand? Walking through Soho in the rain?


Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Just in case anyone needs a quick return to reality, Veronica Mars is on the CW channel, the Sopranos are on HBO, and Syriana is on Cinemax.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

OK, he did that with class.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Warren Zevon references: The universal mark of blogospheric quality.

Make a note of that kids.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 23, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Internal combustion engines are far from my specialty, but I don't think incomplete combustion is one of the low hanging fruits in the search to increase fuel efficiency. Nearly all combustion processes are done with excess air to insure complete combustion. Carbon monoxide is the byproduct when there is the fuel/air mixture is too lean. A well tuned engine puts out very little of that.

The problem is the inherent thermodynamic and mechanical inefficiencies of the four stroke process. It is an awful system that has been optimized by a century of tinkering. Diesel engines are much more efficient because they run at higher temperatures and pressures. All large scale power generation is done with steam turbines which push the theoretical limits of efficiency of the Rankine cycle. Some people have tried to apply Sterling cycle engines to transportation system with little success.

Fuel economy is a matter of power and weight. We are a lot better off working on the weight aspect. Every time you go to buy a loaf of bread, you take a ton of metal with you for the ride. Not exactly a clever thing to be doing.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Stirling Cycle. I need to read the wikipedia entry BEFORE I post.

I have seen the real Lee Ho Fook's. I didn't see any werewolves. I'm sure they would have ripped my lungs out.

Bush said biodiesel fuel out of agricultural waste. {Beavis snicker}

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Yels, I don't think low-hanging fruit will burn too well.

Oh, sorry. I wasn't paying attention.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Listening to the speech. "First we must balance the Federal budget. [loud applause]...without raising taxes." [loud applause] Plus, " Social Security." Oh, my goodness. I know what that means -- every man for himself. Wild West. Eliminate every Federal program except the military. Hope not too many of us work for the government, or are waiting for a cancer cure, or are interested in sub-atomic particles. Oh, wait, "We must increase funds for students who struggle...." Hmmm... wonder where those funds will come from after lower taxes and no deficit. "...private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs." And, incidentally, the best way to meet the needs of insurance companies. Tax savings on medical insurance instead of a national pool. Hmmm. "...asked the Secy of HHS to take existing make private health insurance affordable to those most in need." Emphasis on existing. Medical savings accounts? Self-insure for medical expenses? Makes sense for Bill Gates. "...medical liability reform." [loud applause] Enough for now.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

"...deliver kindly rulings..."????????

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 23, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

It appears that John McCain and the person next to John Kerry are asleep.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 23, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

We must stop their totalitarian ideology by reading your mail, tapping your phone, and locking people up without trials.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 23, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Goodness gracious. Joe Biden is napping, and Nancy Pelosi has agita!

Posted by: m | January 23, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Oooh. This is my favorite part.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 23, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"There's something wonderful about a country that can produce a brave and humble man like George W. Bush."

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

You tell 'em Jim!

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I think I misquoted that last one. It was someone else.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

My daughter's reaction to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tonight:

"Tee hee... he has a girl's name!"

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Do I know you, TBG, or vice versa?

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I meant Jim Webb!

Posted by: TBG | January 23, 2007 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow Joel, you ARE outside of the beltway, or were. So whadda ya hear from the red folks, anyway?

I thought Bush did an experienced speech. Hey, it's his 6th one. Best part--the subway guy. Worst part -- keeping our brave men and women fighting in Iraq. Someone, please, get us out of the chaos.

Posted by: Random Commenter | January 23, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting part of the speech tonight for me was Cheney's reactions (or non-reactions) to what Bush had to say -- he reminds me of a very fat Montgomery Burns. I also found it interesting that they both had a drink of water at the same time -- maybe some ventriloquism going on?

My only wish was that Pelosi would have smacked Bush over the head with her well-earned gavel -- or at least rapped his knuckles with it whenever his trademark smirk came out.

Posted by: martooni | January 23, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Ding Dong, the boodle's dead;
The wicked boodle's dead.

Posted by: maggieo'd | January 23, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, great speech.

I'd love to have heard what Pelosi and GWB said to each other when they clasped hands:

"Go to hell, Mr. President."

"I'm already there and you're presiding over it, Madam Speaker."


Posted by: bc | January 23, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Can you listen to in Pasadena on the net? Chris Hedges will be on at 2 p.m. Wednesday, with SotU fresh in mind.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I watched "Duma," the 2005 movie about a boy, his cheetah, and a long journey. It has to be the perfect movie for 12-year-olds, and it kept an auditorium full of grandparent-aged adults engrossed.

Duma in this case is a Swahili word, not a Russian parliament.

What little of the SOU speech I listened to indicated that the President had carefully practiced his lines, spoke them coherently, and didn't dare say anything off the cuff.

Maybe 8 or 9 months before the last presidential election, Bush seemed to be tongue-tied and I was wondering (along, I think, with James Fallows) whether he'd have to retire because of this unfortunate condition, which I (and Fallows) assumed was something involuntary that he couldn't do much about. He seems to have been in better form since then.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 23, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the 5 Americans killed today in the helicopter shoot-down aren't going to be counted as casualties because they were civilian contractors. I wonder what the contractors' total death toll is by this point. I believe it's at least equal to the soldiers'.

The coalition of the billing.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 23, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Calling all Jack Bauer (24) fans...

Check who's up for adoption here, and his very macho story of survival...

By the way, I think I have a new kitty friend. She's one cool cat.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | January 23, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I wish contractors were referred to by their proper name. Mercenaries.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 1:26 AM | Report abuse

SOTU Wrap-up:

The most disingenuous line in a speech full of lies was this one:

"When we do that, we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East."

We import very little of our oil directly from the Middle East and since oil is fungible, the effect of this half-measure is likely to be insignificant.

There were some bigger and more outrageous falsehoods (there was no plot to blow up "the tallest building on the west coast") in the speech, but this one was the most weaselly.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Is it all over, even the shouting?


Morning all!! *waving*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Just checked the front page of the dead tree edition...

Anyone else think Pelosi was putting in her earplugs when the picture was taken?


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

For all of you who mentioned Warren Zevon late last night: today would have been his 60th birthday.

Sweet Home Alabama, play that dead band's song.

Posted by: byoolin | January 24, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree ScottyNuke.

I also thought the opinion pieces on the home page were extremely strong this morning.

As usual, I agree with Ignatius.

Meyerson is certainly entertaining.

And I think the Marcus article is well worth reading too. The temptation to discount anything Bush says as being, by definition, wrong is just dangerous.

And Samuelson is his usual grumpy and profoundly correct self.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

byoolin - Thanks for that WZ info. I plan on enjoying a sandwich today in his honor.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse


Enjoy away, just don't get too excitable.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Sky Report: It's pouring down snow in Fairfax City

grought to you by my 9 year old.

Posted by: Pat | January 24, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - I feel kinda sorry for those folks who don't know Warren Zevon lyrics. They must feel so left out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I do feel left out!

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

That's OK, RD... they can just bring lawyers, guns and money.

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

mr. curmudgeon, sir: that was brilliant. brings a smile to the face of an otherwise faceless cog DEEP within the bowels of the machine.

Posted by: butlerguy | January 24, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Butlerguy...this deep?

Cracks me up every time.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 24, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

LostInThought... that was great!

I'll show it to my son and he'll complain that I'm 3 years behind, but I still love it!

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Watched an old episode of AFV and Tom Bergeron asked viewers to send in videos of snowmen getting destroyed in interesting manners. Then I thought wouldn't it cool to send a snowman off in a Viking funeral fashion.

Posted by: omni | January 24, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, omni, but it would only melt away!

Posted by: Slyness | January 24, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

And a looped sound track of the wicked witch of the west: 'I'm melting...'

Posted by: omni | January 24, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

TBG...the sound effects get me. What is that? An incredibly old printer? How much time did this guy have on his hands? And I thought my mind twisted unusually...

Back to Dub, did anyone else notice how often he talked about 2005? Didn't he realize SotU means he was supposed to sum up 2006? He didn't talk about it. No facts and figures, no X amount in debt, no we tackled these issues.

And he still thinks No Child is a great program, not even a little tweaking necessary.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 24, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

FWIW, I posted some thoughts on the SotU on the 10thcircle last night:

I'm just an Excitable Boy about Warren Zevon.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

FYI, After much thought, I have decided that yes Joel, obviate is a great word, and is used correctly, but nothing tops crepuscular. Nothing.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

*Charitable Cause Alert*
(It pays to advertise.)

Mulch Fire Apparel (dog and baby items included) available here. (Select your day of the week.)

Monday: "Willie Nelson Chokes Here Every Saturday Night" [a tip of the hat to the John Floore Country Store less than a mile from the fire, a location where Willie Nelson got his start]

Tuesday: "The Christmas Gift that Keeps on Giving"

Wednesday: "Gives your home that rustic, smokey aroma we all love"

Thusday: "Established 2006"

Friday: "What's in Your Mulch Pile?"

Story as reported by our local NBC affiliate station and Randy Beamer/Steve Linscomb. Proceeds to benefit the Helotes Volunteer Fire Department.:

"This is the biggest celebrity in San Antonio," John Largent, owner of the Helotes Mulch Fire Mega Mart Online Store, said. "Forget Tony and Eva [Longoria of ABC's 'Desperate Housewives']. We've got the Helotes Mulch Fire."

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

// The temptation to discount anything Bush says as being, by definition, wrong is just dangerous//
I believe I read a short story with that theme. Something about wolves. Bears?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

LiT, I think GWB summed up his 2006 achievements pretty succinctly.

BTW, thanks for that vid.

dr, I'm kinda partial to "bloviate" myself.

Hmph. Upon further review of that last sentence - well, take it however you want it. I don't get out much.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. LostinThought: i am in so deep that access to the link you posted is forbidden by my owners, uh, superiors. i will be monitored for my transgression. the golden handcuffs will be tightened yet another notch.

Posted by: butlerguy | January 24, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

One subtextual meme that Dubya and Co keep trying to pass off is that everything was going hunky-dory in Iraq until 2006 when the en-serge-ants got their act together. No, chimp-boy, we have been sinking in this quagmire since Day 1. It's just that now we are up to the level where things are getting uncomfortable.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I think Dubya could use some time raking leaves with Liza down on Last Breath Farm.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I like that Bush Pilot video almost as much as I liked the Cheney Shooting gallery video I saw last year......Thanks

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 24, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Suggestions from Loomispouse for extinguishing the blaze:

Airlift 3,000 elephants from Africa, drop them on the blaze and let them stomp it out.

Dynamite the pile.

Get the largest flame thrower known to man and woman and torch the whole thing in a big hurry. (The fight fire with fire theory.)

My idea:
Sew together a giant fire-retardant sheet (similar to what the conceptual artist Christo might envision), get a fleet of helicoptors, and let the helocptors gently release the drape over the fire, and then secure the corners of the sheet into the ground. (The smother the fire and deprive it of oxygen theory.)

And I'm still wondering why the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality didn't hire the guy from Cleveland, Ohio, or the one from Fresno, Calif., at least for their fire-extinguishing expertise?

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

This is touted to be a true story:

A woman, at the end of a long, frustrating day, was in the checkout line at her local grocery carrying a 40# bag of dog food. The woman behind her said: "You have a dog?" Exsperated, the woman turned and said: "No, I'm going back on my Purina diet." "You mean that you really eat dog food???" "Well, yes", the woman said; "the bag says it's nutritionally complete, so I fill a few baggies with the stuff and just pop a few nuggets when I'm hungry. "I lost nearly thirty pounds the last time...until I ended up in the hospital." The other woman gasped, "You weren't poisoned, were you?" "No, I had to go after a car hit me while I was in the middle of the street licking my leg."

Posted by: jack | January 24, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for the speech, Mudge. Brilliant. It rang so true I haven't yet read the transcript of the SotU. As I've mentioned before, I can't watch W at all, but at least I'm saved from certain inebriation by not playing the SotU drinking game (the only way to watch).

ScienceTim mentioned a low momentum lane scheme which would ensure lots of construction. If we can wangle some federal funding - maybe part of our new focus on energy without actually conserving - this should be very popular politically on the state level. In most states, the road construction crews seem to enjoy permanent employment as it is, and legislatures love road projects.

Loomis, it may not be practical, but I really like the mental image of the elephants - and they could all move to West Texas when the fire is out. I think your drape would work, too, but you should just let Christo design it. That way big art donors would pony up private funding. The downside, of course, is that Christo installations take a long time to plan.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 24, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

A co-worker brought up an interesting wrinkle in LTL-CA's idea about making all SUVs commercial vehicles...

You'd also need to get a commercial driver's license for them, and a CDL involves drug testing. Even less incentive to own one of the beasties!! Of course, my idea of exempting parents of large families still applies...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't know Scotty, most of the SUV drivers I have seen/known do not have big families (they drive mini-vans). I think the SUV is more a status than a necessity purchase (trailering excepted). I live in a leafy suburb, weather is fairly moderate, average family size 2 kids, income above average, number of SUV and minivans probably 1 in 3 households if not more.

Although being Canadian there is a need for hockey equipment space, we have cars and squeezing the hockey bag in the trunk can be a struggle :-)

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

NEW KIT! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy, very happy to hear that the troops fighting the war on Terror are getting more assistance. President Bush is doing what is best for our country and our protection. Take the fight to their house.

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