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Sloppy Super Bowl; Barrel Full of Senators

[That was a candidate for Worst Super Bowl Ever. South Florida civic leaders to convene to discuss putting roof over entire southern end of peninsula. We definitely will give the MVP to the Artist Formerly Known As 'the Artist Formerly Known As Prince.' He not only was totally in control of the halftime show but exceeded expectations when he subbed for the ineffective Grossman in the fourth quarter. Two biggest moments: Hester takes opening kick for six, Iraq veterans star in "Oppose the Escalation" ad ("On the other hand..."). In-house food report: Chili, mac-and-cheese, abundant nibblies. Hearty, delectable, probably took a few months off our lives.]

[Ahrens has more on Super Bowl ads. USA Today has its annual roundup of most-liked ads -- the crabs worshipping the ice chest of Bud came out on top.]

[And they say the Era of Big Government is over.]

[My column in the Sunday magazine.]

One of the most underrated attractions in Washington is the United States Senate. It's as nifty as the zoo and a more dependably good show. A lion or a gorilla will often be in a dimwitted torpor, as though unaware of the requirements of being an animal in an entertainment venue, but a U.S. senator will always be striding about, holding hearings, bloviating mightily and fulfilling his or her constitutional requirement to be at all times senatorial.

Which is to say, verbose, self-aware, prepared to exercise any and all senatorial prerogatives and conscious of being part of an elite group that styles itself the "upper body." Congress is the first branch of government (Article I of the Constitution), and the Senate clearly views itself as the primary congressional chamber, the adults in the great Romper Room of government. The House of Representatives? A mob. Rabble. Scum.

A senator is not a god, but does a pretty good impression of one. All senators look good: They're groomed like putting greens. Some appear particularly senatorial, such as John Warner of Virginia, who looks as though he comes with the building. When he retires, he will ascend to a pedestal in an alcove.

It is often said that every senator, when looking in the mirror in the morning, sees someone who should be president of the United States. But that's not true. Some would settle for chief justice.

The senatorial speaking style is civil, polite and pompous -- full of formalities that are as quaint as the spittoons that still can be found in the Senate chamber. A senator will refer to "my friend, the gentleman from Montana," and then calmly explain that the gentleman from Montana is a goose-stepping fascist.

But senators can be rough on administration officials who come to the Hill. The other day, I went to a hearing at which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified about the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq and then invade Iran and keep moving until we'd conquered all the territory to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The senators were not pleased. The hearing lasted as long as a professional football game but was more brutal. The senators beat her as though she were a mangy cur that had limped from a dark alley. They told her that the administration has mired us in the most incompetently managed war since the Trojan. The Republicans were as upset as the Democrats, and the senators not running for president were as outraged as those who were.

At the end, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware said that if the administration attacked Iran, he'd personally see to it that there was "a constitutional confrontation." Which probably sounded far more dramatic to Biden than to anyone listening.

Then everyone strode purposefully somewhere else. No vote was taken, no resolution introduced. The cynic might well have argued that it was all pointless bluster. But the hearing led the papers and the nightly news. Senators command megaphones. A Senate hearing might have an element of theater, but it is theater that gets reviewed.

In practice, the Senate is the chamber of negation and nullity. This is where people are empowered to say no, to block, halt, delay, nix and bury. The slogan of the Senate is "I Don't Think So." They take their spiritual cues from Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Sumner, antediluvian senators who, scowling, unamused, survey the proceedings from portraits mounted outside the Senate chamber. These old senators do not look like a fun bunch. They wear expressions that say, "I would no sooner crack a smile than light my hair on fire."

The basic senatorial move, akin to a golfer's swing or a basketball player's jump shot, is the filibuster. Any senator can stop a bill or block a judicial nomination simply by yammering on the Senate floor, endlessly, even if it means reading and rereading the menu from a Chinese restaurant. By custom, the mere threat of a filibuster is treated as one. It's like having nuclear weapons: To achieve deterrence, you only have to raise the prospect of Mutual Verbal Destruction.

Of course, the Senate can vote to cut off a filibuster, but that takes a supermajority of 60 votes. Impeachment of a president requires a super-mega-majority of 67 votes, which is why everyone knew that Bill Clinton's impeachment would end with an acquittal and that the entire hideous Monica Lewinsky scandal would result in nothing more than parents being forced to explain oral sex to their children.

The Constitution is premised on the self-evident truth that, unfettered, the government will become tyrannical. Congress is set up in such a way as to make it hard for any of these people to do anything. Gridlock isn't the problem, but the constitutional cure. Thus, at the end of a typical day in the Senate, not a lot will have been accomplished, but we'll remain a free people, and Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Sumner will not be forced to come down off the wall and slap folks around.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 5, 2007; 6:23 AM ET
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Good Morning! Sorry to those whose team lost. Congrats to those whose team won.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

When one combines the Superbowl and the Senate there is but a single logical outcome:

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset the committee"
-Nikki Cappelli

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I hope the team won that you wanted to win, did not look at the Super Bowl. Can't get into it since my son is not here to share it with me.

Kbert, you said exactly what I feel, but you said it so much better than I ever could. I wish people would fight the ills of this world, hunger, violence, sickness, the way they fight Christianity, and people that really believe.

Off to the washroom this morning, and boy, is it cold here. Have a good day, everyone.

And Joel, I love this kit. I probably will never see those hallowed halls, but your description I suspect, tells it all.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 5, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

I had my doubts about Prince, but he certainly raised the bar for halftime shows.

Except for that last-minute DIY rain covering for his hair...

I liked the homage to Jimi and Tina especially. Prince was definitely live. Wish the Bears had been too.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Today, Feb. 5, is the fourth anniversary of the date that my cousin (see previous Boodle discussion about Powell genealogy), former Secretary of State Colin Powell marched onto the floor of the United Nations and attempted to convincingly make the case for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and, by extension, the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces. Former director of the CIA, Gerge Tenet, seated directly behind Powell, at the time of this charade.

I was reminded of the date and anniversary thaks to the follwong paragraph from Frank Rich's op-ed column in the NYT yesterday:

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of Colin Powell's notorious W.M.D. pantomime before the United Nations Security Council, a fair amount of it a Cheney-Libby production. To mark this milestone, the White House is reviving the same script to rev up the war's escalation, this time hyping Iran-Iraq connections instead of Al Qaeda-Iraq connections. In his Jan. 10 prime-time speech on Iraq, Mr. Bush said that Iran was supplying "advanced weaponry and training to our enemies," even though the evidence suggests that Iran is actually in bed with our "friends" in Iraq, the Maliki government. The administration promised a dossier to back up its claims, but that too has been delayed twice amid reports of what The Times calls "a continuing debate about how well the information proved the Bush administration's case."

Posted by: Loomis | February 5, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Super Bowl = Super Yawn. My wife, who does enjoy football (an avid Steelers fan) fell asleep somewhere around the end of the third quarter. The Bears, though, seemed to have preceded her. I did note that the announcers made the point that it had been almost an hour since the Bears offense was on the field from the end of the first half through half-time and into the 3rd quarter. That could put you to sleep too.

Speaking of being put to sleep--The Senate--right on, Joel. Having occasionally watched Bob Byrd trying to say something sensical is a unique experience. No wonder the Senate dragged their heels on letting C-Span in.

Posted by: ebtnut | February 5, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Since, Joel, you mention former U.S. senators Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Sumner in your Kit, I feel compelled to bring over the entire Judith Warner column, titled "An Irrational Voter," that ran yesterday as part of NYT Select. How many Boodlers have any idea who these men--Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Sumner--were and what they stood for in the U.S. Senate, as well as when they were members? I doubt more than one or two of us Boodlers.

I bring over to the Boodle the op-ed in its entirety also because it's a rebuttal of sorts to an op-ed that ran recently in the Washington Post. If I have made a mistake in doing so, then let Frank Rich rap my knuckles in person tonight.

Judith Warner, who writes the "Domestic Disturbances" column:

The ever-controversial Linda Hirshman, had an article in the Washington Post this past week, in which she depicted American women voters - and suburban stay-at-home moms in particular - as politically ignorant, disinterested and ultimately self-defeating.

Citing studies and anecdotes culled from a few conversations with Washington-area suburban moms who appear to spend a fair amount of their time sitting around on their living room sofas and reading People magazine, she painted a rather damning portrait of women who don't read newspapers, don't read up on policy, and very often get their information on the outside world from their more tuned-in working husbands. Ignorant of the issues, they cast their votes based on such slippery stuff as "character," and then, in election after election, blow their chances of being "the decisive force that will elect someone who embraces their views."

Women are not "rational political actors," Hirshman writes. "Instead, they vote on impulse, and on elusive factors such as personality."

Some of what Hirshman has to say is, unfortunately, true. Survey after survey shows the consumers of news today to be disproportionately male. In my own anecdotal forays through the living rooms of America's suburbs, I've often been struck by the degree to which women - particularly mothers of young children - don't keep up with world events.

The reasons are quite obvious - for stay-at-home moms in particular, who don't have the excuse of in-office dead time to read the paper or browse the Internet, there are just no free moments in the day. But, however understandable the phenomenon, the results can be worrisome. Hirshman cites a recent Pew Research Center study showing that nearly half the women surveyed said they "sometimes do not follow international news because of excessive coverage of wars and violence"; a New York Times/CBS poll last year found that nearly 10 percent more women than men still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. In an age when Americans are showing a troublesome tendency toward irrational belief (There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark), keeping up, at least minimally, with the news probably ought to be a prerequisite for the job of childrearing.

That said, while Hirshman's statistics on female ignorance of the news are worth note, her conclusions about women's particular irrationality as voters truly miss the mark. These days, all voters vote "irrationally" - if such factors as personal appeal and character can be said to be irrational.

Just look at the presidential election results of 2004: a solid majority of voters said they disapproved of George Bush's handling of the war and the economy. Most voters, furthermore, said they believed the country was headed in the wrong direction. But 70 percent of voters also rated the president as "likeable." They overwhelmingly said they'd rather have a beer with him than with John Kerry and would be much more likely to trust him to walk their dog. No matter where he was on the issues, Kerry's "personality gap" just couldn't be breached.

Look at how John Edwards feels the need to fuss with his hair; how pundits worry that it's his temper and general bonkers factor - not his anti-choice or pro-war votes - that will prove John McCain's undoing. Character, personality, "likeability" as the pollsters put it - they're huge issues for voters now, in particular for the swing voters who don't have strong ideological leanings. Regardless of gender.

"It's sort of the same thing that makes us believe celebrities are one of us," Sherry Bebich-Jeffe, a senior scholar of policy planning at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, told me. "When we see these people in our living rooms all the time, it's as though they are among us, and then it becomes important for us to feel we can relate to them. We all tend to vote on personality. Women are no different than any other voters."
In fact, last October, in the run-up to the Congressional midterm elections, another New York Times/CBS poll found no significant difference between the percentages of men and women who cited "personal qualities" as the main reason they were supporting their chosen candidate for the House of Representatives.

Singling out women voters for alleged soft thinking is misguided, and a little bit bizarre. It reminds me of the arguments used historically by the French left to deny their countrywomen the vote. The ladies, the leftists said, were much too close to their village priests; hence, a vote for a woman was a vote for irrationality - and, of course, a conservative candidate. (This worked; French women didn't get the vote until 1945.)

Hirshman's disdain for the way many women live their lives today shouldn't lead her to underestimate their cognitive skills - or overestimate those of their spouses. Our country may well be sliding towards idiocracy (to borrow from the title of Mike Judge's recent dystopic), but it's not just a girl thing.

Posted by: Loomis | February 5, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

There is no proof that God exists, so don't expect Her to save you. Live this day intelligently and wisely.

Posted by: Loomis | February 5, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

//..Americans are showing a troublesome tendency toward irrational belief (There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark),..//
This is funny and troubling.
While it was rational to beleive Saddam had WMD, only somebody crazy enough to beleive the Ark fable would use them. I wish I was convinced of the sanity of several powerful figures in the US government. From my reading of some religious right websites I find an unsettling eagerness for a war with Iran. They beleive this will help bring about the apocalype and they can scoot off to heaven, leaving the evil and unbeleivers behind waiting for hell.
Let me be clear, this is a small but signifagant subset of the Christocrats. The true reconstructionist think they have to take over the country before attacking Iran.. yadda..yadda.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 5, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Pursuant to last weeks GW news, thought you might like this.

Posted by: dr | February 5, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

That was funny, dr. Thanks.

Posted by: Wheezy | February 5, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra!! *waving* I trust that all is well with you.

Considering that weather was a factor in the Bowl game last night, They should have added the extra challenge of playing in one of the northern venues where they would be frozen, wet, and be in a spot where they would really earn their money. Better yet, Buffalo. Most of NYS is in a deep, windy freeze. Long live the Ice Bowl.

As for the Senate, maybe caning could make a comeback.

Posted by: jack | February 5, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Jack I like your comment, as I went outside yesterday morning I thought to myself this is perfect for a classic Bears/Packers match (the concept if not the exact teams), and thought to myself wouldn't it be amusing to see the Superbowl played on the "frozen tundra". Couldn't have been any worse.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Fear not, science fans, the Webb telescope may yet supercede the Hubble...

Posted by: jack | February 5, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, Loomis, you're insulting our intelligence. Webster wrote dictionaries; Clay won 2nd place in American Idol a few years ago; Calhoun was a character on Amos 'n' Andy, and Sumner was the woman who sang those hot disco songs.

Sheesh. Give us a break here.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

dr, here is a fun article about taking grade 5 students in Toronto curling. Cute perspective of a traditional game being introduced to the new face of young Canadians.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, dmd, it would certainly be interesting to see how modern technology would deal with deeply frozen turf, gusty winds and below zero wind chills. Why not an internatinoal championship between the winners of the CFL and NFL at alternating outdoor venues?

Posted by: jack | February 5, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I thought Sumner was coming back for the Police reunion at the Grammys...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, BTW, I was to express some (real) umbrage over all this nonsense about that *&%$#@ Doritos add only cost "$12." What a load of crap. The Today Show this morning interviewed the gang that made it. Yes, they are five unknown amateurs, but so what? They spent four days making the ad (one part of which required 20 takes). Five people times four days times (an assumption) 8 hours per day = 160 labor hours. They claim that the $12 "cost" was for four bags of Doritos. That they charged approximately...uh...carry the 7....multiply by the square ZERO for their labor and equipment is bogus. Try getting anybody on Madison Avenue to give you 160 labor hours of work for ZERO cast.

And somehow, now that this gang is famous (which I don't begrudge them), I have a suspicion that they are going to charge a little more for their next piece of work.

What disturbs me is how everyone is buying in to the hype.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse


The Doritos crew obviously had high-def cameras and a city street and stuff laying around unused. Nice ad, though.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Football, like the Olympics, should be performed outside to more closely reflect the martial conflicts they approximate.
Football under a dome is only Really Big Arena football.
I wonder what happened to arena baseball.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 5, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Chili-mac. Ummmmmmmmmmm.

Posted by: CowTown | February 5, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"They told her that the administration has mired us in the most incompetently managed war since the Trojan."

"Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a small band of warrior-intellectuals"

Over the wine-red sea comes the mighty and shrewd warrior Petraeus accompanied by his circle of wise men. As the beaming golden orb that shines over Babylon creats a crowned halo over these warriors' craggy visages, the doomed the fallen, the helpless and the hapless, cry out in joy at a releasing salvation--succor from a harsh winter of misery.

"Oh wise Petraeus, a garland for thy brow," one miserable legless man of battle shouts, tears streaming from his hope-brightened eyes.

The simple, yet calculating Shrub, seated afar, rubs his nose, and struts a circle, pondering always pondering his luckless fate.

Posted by: Dave the scribe | February 5, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Prince was the game MVP by a mile. Great song choices (gotta admit, as cool as it was to have him play Dylan by way of Jimi and Tina, playing some Foo Fighters was a pleasant surprise, nice ack that those guys are still making good American music) good arrangements, tasty guitar playing, good production (musically, anyway).

The game went along the lines I suggested, if the Bears play solid football, get some breaks and good special teams play, and disrupt the Colts, they have a shot (see first half). If da Bearz couldn't stop the Colts running game, and have to depend on R. Grossman, well, goodnight and good luck to them (see secong half).

I'd love to see the Super Bowl played in every stadium in the league on a rotating basis, including Buffalo, Green Bay and Chicago. It's football, fer goodness' sake.

Good morning, Cassandra.
Hiya everybody.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

WOOO HOOO, go Peyton! (That's what the "P" in PLS stands for, by the way). That's my boy! Way to win the Superbowl!

We have a few Colts connections in my family, not the least of which is that my husband's grandfather taught Tony Dungy high school history - Grandpa has always had great things to say about the Dungy family.

I made hot dog chili (it's chili with ground sirloin, hot dogs, and onions) from scratch, my famous chicken-and-riso pasta dish with melty parmesean cheese, and assorted dips with veggies and chips. I don't need to eat at all today.

Posted by: PLS | February 5, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "way to go". I swear I actually typed those words and the computer ate them.

Posted by: PLS | February 5, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Even the Boy enjoyed Prince - as well he should, formidable musician that Prince is. That's the only part of the show I sat down and watched; well, that and the Robert Goulet ad. I'm still laughing.

I loved the Kit's description of the Senate. Joel, your powers of observation have been well used. I particularly enjoyed the realization that all this Senate theater so often results in nothing - no vote, no action, just the certainty of air time and a review. And don't forget, the Senate "actors" are paid pretty well. Would that all theater companies had their advantages.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 5, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The Robert Goulet ad was funny.
Of course, my children had never even heard of the guy. And I, naturally, had just assumed he was dead.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Same thing goes for Prince.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I almost went to Sumner High School. But Puyallup High had a better bus schedule.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The White House has come out with the FY 08 budget. Your dollars wisely spent, no doubt.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 5, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

My kids know Robert Goulet from The Simpsons:

Goulet: "You from the casino?"
Nelson: "I'm from *a* casino."
Goulet: "Good enough. Let's go."

The song Goulet sings at the kids' casino?
"Jingle bells, Batman smells...."

First class guy all the way.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I do my best.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Words that best describe my budget: Rounding Error

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Super Bowl ads:

Question at the starting gate: Couldn't CBS sell more of its multimillion dollar ad space for 30- and 60-second spots during the Super Bowl?

We had CBS ads ad nauseum: CSI ads for Miami, Las Vegas and New York, Katie Couric ads up the ying-yang, Survivor Fiji ads, How I Met Your Mother ads, Two and a Half Men ads, Shark ads, a Letterman and Dr.Phil Grudge Match ad, and ads for the premiere of the tonight's debut of Rules of Engagement--the latter shown so often it was like beating a dead horse. There was even a game promo admonishing viewers to enjoy the game--the Slippery Bowl or is it the Fumble Bowl or was it just football wet T-shirt mud wrestling?

Slapping ads:
Well, we've had b1tch-slapping here on the Boodle, now Joel is resurrecting dead U.S. senators from their oil portraits to come down and smack us. There was the slapping portrayed in Disney's upcoming cartoon-for-children movie, "Meet the Robinson's." In the second quarter, there was Bud Light's slapping ad, in which everyone gets whacked, since fist-pumping is now passe. I'll pass on those products, thank you very much.

There was the homophobic Snicker's ad. The Budweiser showed no ads this year celebrating America's fallen heroes, did you notice? Folks in San Antonio are still sore that Rosie O'Donnell was invited to the opening ceremonies of the privately funded Center for the Intrepid here in town last week. I'll also give up all Mars candy bars, thank you very much.

As risky, Nationwide's ad featuring Fresno, Calif's Keven Federline and Prudential's rock ad showing a diamond? By the way, was that a conflict diamond?

Did anyone think Sheryl Crow's tour bus took a wrong tour, so that she ended up at Dolphin Stadium promoting Revlon's Colorist hair product? This one ad seemed out of place, but you have to give Revlon credit for being the only sponsor who had an ad aimed almost exclusively to the distaff demographic.

The ads were really a bust or a yawn this year. Biggest failure: the ads promoting office life as a jungle or combat at the Roman Coliseum. Dollars down the TV drain for them. The ad was scary: their marketing department reminded me of the romp-room atmosphere inside the Texas TCEQ trailers stationed in Helotes.

The running commentary by announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms was lame when it veered away from sports. They announced that February is Black History Month (shouldn't history be taught all the months of the year--ethnic history included?), then said there were scholarly works about it (naming none), but added that the Super Bowl yesterday was "living it by example." Ditto for the dumb remarks by the same talking sportcaster duo about David Spade and Patrick Warburton not having a show that was a big enough of a hit so tht the two actors sitting in the pouring rain could be bumped up to better box seats at the event.

David Letterman had his arm around Oprah. We all know Oprah broadcasts her show from Chicago. What state does Letterman hail from? I really was expecting a followup ad later in the game where Letterman had his other arm around Uma Thurman, so that he could repeat his line from the his less than stellar Oscar-hosting gig, "Oprah, meet Uma. Uma, meet Oprah."

Please know that Jon Allan, mayor of Helotes and a doctor of veterinary medicine at the Southwest Center for Biomedical Research, was a consultant on the BudLight gorillas-at-the-zoo-having-their-picture-taken ad. Did you catch the ad in which African lions speak Spanish for the Taco Bell? Give that animal trainer a raise!

My personal favoraite ad at this year's Super Bowl? The battered heart ad mentioning high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, sponsored by It's just too bad the third-quarter Jack in the Box ad didn't air just before the heart-health spot.

Posted by: Loomis | February 5, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Federal budgets are fun to translate into real numbers. Since I have a family of three and there are 300 million people, more or less, in the US, my family is personally responsible directly or indirectly for one millionth of one percent of each item.

Defense spending is half a trillion dollars, which makes my family share five grand. The National Park Service cost us $21. I gotta say the parks were the better value. Even if you throw in the extra fifty bucks I had to spend for the annual pass to visit Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain parks.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I dearly hope this budget is DOA. Tax cuts permanent? Ooooh didn't see that one coming. You know, if I continually ran up a massive credit card debt, my standard of living would be pretty sweet too. Which, of course, is why the economy keeps humming along. Of course, with personal debt, we owe to the banks. With federal debt, we owe to the Chinese.
Real smart.

I have made the argument that in my learned opinion the best way to keep America safer is to return 10% of my budget to help pay off the national debt.

But Congress won't let me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Loomis: Choosing a national leader by personality and/or character, instead of party affiliation or one-issue stands, may actually turn out to be the wiser criteria. (goodness knows we can't choose one based upon campaign promises!) In today's world, being able to change one's mind, admit mistakes, and make a quick decision based upon the best available information, may be exactly what is needed.

On the other hand, deciding someone's character and personality for national leadership based upon hairstyle and smiling publicity photos - instead of their past & present deeds, and/or grace under (reporter) fire and public debate - is a scary thought. Not to mention taking filtered facts from a spouse (or Fox News) as "information". The article disturbed me for that reason.

Posted by: sevenswans | February 5, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Joel's comment about Bill Clinton's yum-yum scandal, it reminded me of my opinion that the slippery slope leading to the loss of innocence for middle-school children began right there. When oral sex was emblazoned on the evening news and all over the newspapers, the nation's children seem to have found out about something that is "not really" sex, that they now view as second base. Just past a tongue kiss, not enough to get you pregnant, ergo it must be okay. My eyes were opened as a first-year teacher a while back when I sponsored a field trip during which an impropriety of this sort happened between two 8th-grade students. The act was perpetrated in front of a group of kids, to add to the audaciousness of it all. Girls of this age give'em away like lollipops, and boys are happy to take advantage. When I was in 8th grade, I was elated to get to touch my first b00b, and now that is sooooo passe. I lay much of the blame for this loss of innocence at the feet of Bill Clinton and the MSM that publicized his sex life for all the kids to learn about.

Fast forward to today, and Rep. Foley gets in zero legal trouble for his lewd and suggestive emails to kids on capitol hill. Sure, he resigned his job, sullied his reputation, and lost his credibility, but so what? If I or one of my educator colleagues had perpetrated these same acts, we'd be in prison, and rightfully so. So what makes congressmen above the law?

Gotta be the suits. They look so professional and statesmanlike.

"My senator would never________________!"

You fill in the blank.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The woman who cuts my hair will never vote for a pro-choice candidate because "abortion is killing babies."

She doesn't mind killing the children and grownups in Iraq.

She doesn't think the government has any business telling pregnant women not to smoke or drink or take drugs because that will harm the babies.

She won't look at any other issue; if the candidate is pro choice, he or she will not get my hairdresser's vote no matter what the other issues are.

How can you work with a citizenship like that? They may not approve of the way the president is doing his job, but he's out to save those poor unborn babies, isn't he? Based on that one issue, they would vote for him again against any pro-choice candidate.

That's what's scary.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Super Bowl Ads: only watched a few, was chatting with friends and scrounging for food and drink during the commercials.

It's a *football game*, fer cryin' out loud.

And all we football fans have left is the lame Hula Bowl / All Star Game, and then the Long Dark Halftime of the Soul.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Rats! I missed the Robert Goulet ad. He was on my list of "entertainers to see before they die" list. Saw him at Wolftrap in Man of LaMancha. The daughter was 7 at the time and is probably his one and only 17yo fan. I've since seen Wayne Newton and Tom Jones. Rich Little is next.

Prince is the talk of Minnesota this morning, and justifiably so. At last a half time show that didn't make you cringe.

I didn't watch much of the game preferring to spend my time with Alex. After sleeping comfortably through the night in front of the fireplace on her favorite blanket, she died peacefully at 8:15AM CST. Many thanks to all who wished us well. Whether moved by faith, empathy, or National Geographic, your kind words were most appreciated by this newbie to the boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 5, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten, so sorry about Alex. Glad the boodlehugs helped.


Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Yup, gotta blame Clinton for 8th graders' behavior. It's up to -8 here in Northern Illinois, I'm sure Bill is somehow responsible for that too. Damn you Clinton!!!

Posted by: Dave | February 5, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

'I particularly enjoyed the realization that all this Senate theater so often results in nothing - no vote, no action, just the certainty of air time and a review.' Ivansmom
Isn't the whole idea of power balance is to use the slow Senate motion to counter that of rushing House representatives?

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 5, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

'Morning all!

Super Bowl eats were Buffalo Chicken Tenders (wing sauce on gently fried bits of white meat), Taquitos (thank you Costco!), and a (largely uneaten) veggie tray.

I loved the last Careerbuilder ad with the guy walking on coals droning "must improve pie charts." I think I used to work there...

TBG, do we have the same hair cutter?

Hi, Cassandra! Thanks for staying in touch!

Posted by: Raysmom | February 5, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Saw Robert Goulet years ago in a touring show of South Pacific. Can't get excited about him one way or another.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

We joined our "group or tribe" at the synagogue, where the Men's Club had set up a Super Bowl party as a fundraiser for the costs of repairing the building of the Chosen People (Laurel local). Funny thing, professional contractors require money, and we've had enough jokes about the dangers of Jews with power tools. The rumors may hold an element of truth (although actually, there are several engineers and general contractors in the congregation, so it's not MUCH truth). A 1-chance-in-100 raffle was used to dispose of the plasma-screen HDTV that was purchased to show the game; the raffle was based on the final digit in the score of each team. A conscious choice of high-probability scoring values could definitely skew the odds, but one is assigned one's numbers by a random process. I had a couple corned-beef sandwiches and a hot dog (Hebrew National, all-beef kosher, natch), then I retired to the rabbi's study/library and worked on my laptop. Even within the confines of a synagoge community, I am beyond ordinary levels of geekdom. I have verified that somebody won the game, but we did not win the HDTV.

No senators were observed to be bloviating in the vicinity (that's passive voice for ya), so the building fund took a minor hit by the need to heat the air in the room at an uncharacteristic time. A gentlemen who was not aware that the synagogue was not currently hosting the Men's Winterhaven program came by (point being, we're pretty out of the way, so he had to make a special trip) and got a healthy meal and a warm place for the night. Turns out, you don't need to be a synagogue member to be a member of the community.

It's all about the Tikkun Olam, y'all. You can look it up.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Decent article in the New Yorker featuring some of the brain trust we are going to use to hearts and minds Iraq.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, so sorry for you and Alex. Glad you could be there through the end.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 5, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, I'm so sorry to hear about your Alex. She was the best of dogs. I know how hard it is and will be thinking of you.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, I am sorry for your loss, we had a family dog when I was young, their loss is always felt but so too is the joy brought to our lives. Our dog was special enough to get a mention in my mom's eulogy.

My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Likability is an awful way to elect leaders. It cheapens the whole affair to little more than a high school popularity contest with one major difference. You actually have the ability to get to know your candidates for high school elections. No such luck on the state or national scene. We have only to trust the ads the politicians put out about themselves and their opponents, both of which focus on amplifying bull$h1t. Some of the cow patties are positive and some are negative, and we are left to decide which is which.

Also, in my earlier rant, I blamed Clinton and the MSM, but Ken Starr deserves some of the blame for telling us exactly what the former president does with his cigars. I didn't need that, and neither did my students.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the boodle frosty, sorry to hear about Alex.

My favorite commercial was the rock paper scissors Bud Lite, but I just like slapstick a little to much. The dumbest was GoDaddy. I still don't know what the commercial was for and it showed twice. I guess the commercial was put together by that partying marketing depeartment. And the Real Umbrage Award goes to all the drug commercials. They shell out 2.5 mil for a thirty second spot so middle aged can learn about a drug that lets them pee and then they charge how much for that drug.

And I watched the whole game and agree it was a very sloppy game played in very sloppy conditions, but still I liked it. Yay Indy.

Also the halftime show was pretty good (not the biggest Prince fan here).

Only barely paid attention to Billy Joel singing the anthem, but I thought I heard him go off kkey a couple times, and his voice sounded a little scratchy to me.

Thats all. next post will be off topic I assure you...

Posted by: omni | February 5, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about Alex; glad she went peacefully.

Yeah, Prince beats any of the Jacksons at this moment.
He's outgrown his cringe-worthy "Purple Rain" days.
(At least _I_ cringed when watching that ego-bloat movie as a preteen. YMMV)

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- I gotta commend you on that stew recipe -- I salivated just reading it. I don't normally eat red meat, but I may go buy some and make that Breton Stew!

Didn't watch the game so I can't comment on the ads, Prince or even the actual game. I did order a pizza last nite -- and ate 5 or so slices! Delish! Thanks to all who sent me calories -- I'm up a pound by virtue of cyber-calories alone!

frostbitten, so sorry about Alex -- belated boodle-hug.

On Senatorial pontification:

Trying to remember where I read (this morning) a fictional piece by Roger Simon about Joe Biden's exit from the '08 race -- Simon wrote that Biden said, and I paraphrase " A Jew, A Mormon, a black and a woman, all running for president! It's beginning to resemble the bar scene from Star Wars!" I think it was in the NYT. Gotta go check it out again and get the link. The Jew being Bloomberg, and the Mormon of course, being Romney.

dr -- thanks for the link to the "I'm with stupid" cartoon. Normally I prefer the word "humankind" to "mankind" -- but hey, use what works!! :-) (apologies already offered to all men. A lame joke at your expense).

TBG -- sigh . . . your hairdresser's opinions are distressing, and very common down here. I do believe however, that these folks represent a minority of the electorate. Polls show a good solid majority of Americans are pro-choice. I do believe that the 28% or so that still support Dubya is pretty much that part of the electorate made up of people like your hairdresser.

A minority, thankfully.

yello -- glad the replacement of your ACL went well. Thankfully, I don't need the services of a physical therapist -- it's just a matter of gaining the weight and muscle back. Gotta do it myself.

I swam 10 laps yesterday! Slowly, making sure I wasn't stressing the abdominal area too badly. It went quite well and expect I'll be in the water a lot now. My goal is to get back to 40 laps (1 kilometer) in just under 40 minutes -- a nice aerobic workout I can do that's friendly to my fibromyalgia.

Gotta hit the weights again too.

College Parkian and Yoki -- thanks so much for your gardening posts. I loved the poem Yoki -- and I suspect my old garden, the parts of which weren't dug up and stolen, will be blooming with abandon this coming spring and summer. If I were to go visit today, I'd probably be treated to the vision of hundreds of crocus in bloom in the lawn, and early narcissus too. There is still a garden there -- may it thrive unattended.

Posted by: nelson | February 5, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

At least your bloviating senators are elected. Ours are still appointed by our PM in what is usually thought of as a retirement gift for party faithful.

Maybe we can borrow some of your paintings to sit in our senate, as that would be less offensive in a supposedly mature democracy.

(sorry for mini-rant. BTW I see that one of my Google ads is for Ottawa Senators tickets)

Congrats to the Colts. Isn't bill everything from Indiana?

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Magical thinking and the Superbowl:

TBG, you'd need the wisdom of Socrates to get your hairdresser to see her own inconsistency in her thinking. Oh well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

omni - Both my son and I thought Billy Joel had a bit of trouble with the Anthem -especially at the very beginning.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Prince's halftime show rocked. That dude can play the guitar. I'm a bit surprised no comments have been made about his sillouette scene, however. It was a bookend to Janet's nipple reveal. Prince had a wonderful, s$%&-eating grin after the curtain dropped, too ;)

Posted by: untethered | February 5, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Rd, my comment when Billy Joel was singing was, that it made your anthem sound like Piano Man, particularly in the bigging the rest just sounded off key.

SoC - does it help that at least our Senators have very little actual impact (OK probably not - perhaps dwell on the constitutional nightmare chaning their roles would involve). Reading Hansard from the Senate is good comic relief.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

nelson, be careful. I'm chomping at the bit to get back to physical activity but my surgeon recommended 6 weeks off from swimming, running and weight lifting.

dmd, I heard the US system was originally appointment by the senator's state, but evolved to elections without a constitutional amendment. True, anyone?

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The Next American Idle; Your Senator - It's taken me quite a few years since graduation to finally figure out the best use of my degree in English: I wanna write speeches for these guys. No really! I mean, I've watched a coupla senate hearings when they fumble about for the most obtuse words just to hear themselves speak so they can watch it later on C-Span, and it just KILLS me. So I wanna be the one to put their somnorific, pedantic, and often unnecessarily incensed ramblings into perfectly composed and witty King's English, and then Joel, Gene and Jean can vote them off the floor.

(Prince always rocks, regardless of hair fashion, or lack thereof.)

Posted by: Jann | February 5, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, I'm sorry I overlooked your post concerning Alex. My condolences.

TBG, I'm sure you didn't discuss any of the retroactive abortion programs that the Bush Administration is currently supporting with your hairdresser, did you?

For those of us enduring the cold, the Washington DC government reminds us to eat high calorie foods, as our bodies give off slightly more heat processing them. And in my case, the additional layer of blubber helps too.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl -- thanks for the caution. My surgeon actually told me, when I saw him on Friday, that swimming was okay. I'm not about to hit the weights yet. My gut hurts just thinking about it!

But I did handle the ten laps yesterday very well. My normal bull-in-a-china-shop approach would have me going for broke today. But I'm getting older -- thankfully. Will slowly build up the laps, while swimming as slowly as I can.

It's true that originally Senators in the USof A were appointed by the electoral college of each state. This was changed in the early 20th century (in the 20s, I think). Senators now have to stand for election every 6 years. Only 1/3 of the Senate is up for election every 2 years, as opposed to the entire House of Representatives.

Posted by: nelson | February 5, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

SoC I figure if we got to the point where we bother to elect the Senators, then we should give them some responsibility and that is where the constitutional issues would come into play, I also remember something about there being certain numbers of Senators required from the various regions that would take a constitutional change to alter.

Of course my memory is not reliable.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

bc, thanks for the tip I no longer feel bad about the piece of fudge I just consumed - it is keeping me warm in this frigid weather :-)

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, I am sorry about Alex.

I had to take my cats to the shelter which was about ten miles from where I lived, and I cried all the way back home. My neighbor hated cats, and my cats were digging up his yard. Plus I wasn't able to feed them, so I figured the shelter was best. The lady at the shelter called a week later to say the kittens were adopted. That eased my heart some.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 5, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

When one fixates on a single issue to the exclusion of all others, the results can be absurd. This is the point Trey Parker and Matt Stone are trying to make in "Team America" when they show puppet commandoes blowing up all of Paris in the pursuit of a single puppet terrorist.

Although some might not get the connection.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Sportsthink: My husband was telling me about the thread on his Tarheel Boodle on how to win the rest of this season's games (this, after their loss to NC State over the weekend).

I asked what kind of advice his boodlers were handing out. He said, "You know... wear purple socks, don't eat Doritos during the game, only sit on the brown couch when you watch the game and never on the beige one. Stuff like that."

So now you know the reason UNC has won so many national championships.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, forgot to mention, I'm sending to the city to get a dictionary for the program. Thanks a bunch.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 5, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Cassandra.

Nelson, I've been mulling your remark that you tend to avoid red meat, and started thinking about the possibility of substituting chicken for beef in the stew recipe. The red wine and beef broth (you can substitute chicken broth, BTW, and chicken base, too) are going to stain the chicken a dark color, but if you don't mind that, it might work. I'm sure substituting white wine for red won't work, first because the other stuff is doing to darken the chicken anyway, and second because I think the red wine is important for the flavor. But who knows? Maybe a white would work, too. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Rant away SoC. I'm right there with you, and I don't know a soul who isn't.

Posted by: dr | February 5, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, how about turkey drumsticks? Already dark and full of flavor. You could try duck, but you'd want to steam it first in order to remove the fat. That sounds like work.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | February 5, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt--That New Yorker Geo Packer article is indeed good. I think I recommended it some time back.

SciTim--Laurel? When I was in middle school (Waterloo Middle, now Deep Run Elementary damn you Columbia!)), a Laurel kid was after me. In fact, his whole posse wanted to thrash me a bit. I think there was some improper touching of his girlfriend... Anyway, it's nice to hear Laurel mentioned. I hail from Elkridge. And it's good to hear you're Jewish. Now I know you're not my brother-in-law, who would probably call himself SciRon, anyway.

Posted by: Dave | February 5, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

SciTim is the Nexus of the Universe.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, what else do TV commercials, government budgets, presidential sex, and dying pets have in common? Oh yeah--and Texas compost fires.

Gomer, the evidence is that Bill Clinton did everything he could to prevent your 8th grade students from finding out about his sexual escapades. There can be no doubt that the amount of effort that went into publishing every disgusting detail of his sexual practices was excessive, but Clinton was merely an eager participant of the event not the subsequent publicity. I can also personally testify that at least one schoolteacher found teens publically performing overt sexual acts in 1986 (my first year as a teacher) at a time when few people outside of Arkansas were aware of Bill Clinton. I can only suspect that other schoolteachers before me made similar discoveries.

Even if there weren't, imagine what would have happened if President Kennedy's White House escapade with Marlene Dietrich, in which, because of his bad back, she assumed the superior position, had been used by Everett Dirksen or Barry Goldwater for political purposes. Or if Adlai Stevenson had used Dwight Eisenhower's illicit relationship with Kay Sommersby, his WWII companion, during the presidential campaigns of 1952 and 1956. Then we could blame Kennedy, or Eisenhower, for all the illegitimate births since, all those abortions, that 51% of women are unmarried, and Congressmen chasing after pages. We haven't had those scapegoats, but only because there was a sense of honor, and yes, comity that existed in those times; and an understanding that all persons have their frailties, and it is only those frailties that truly affect the public weal that should be used for political advantage. While these modern times have undoubtedly lost inhibitions about sexual matters there has also been a loss of other cultural mores that have had deleterious effects on our society.

Posted by: Monaute | February 5, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Or at least of the Maryland suburbs around DC.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Dave- That improper touching of the girlfriend? That is now considered conversation by middle-schoolers. The point I tried to make in my 11:35 post was that when I was an 8th-grader in 1990, inappropriate touching (and bj's) were a big, no, HUGE deal, but by 2000 the kids are giving them out like stickers.

Now what could have happened in the intervening decade that changed things so much? Hmmmmm, I can't imagine... Can anyone help me out?

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

It is so cold here in the DC area (18 at the moment, and 14 early this morning) that the traffic reports are saying the White's Ferry (a small-rope-operated automobile ferry) across the Potomac is closed due to icing. And they are saying it's going to go down to 9 degrees tonight. From previous posts, I know some of you guys are chuckling about what wusses we are here in Warshington, and it's true.

Oddly enough, when I went out to the car this morning to grab my bus, there were two kids at our corner schoolbus-stop, age about 14. Both were wearing coats suitable for autumn, but not deep winter. Neither had hat, gloves, scarves or earmuffs, etc. At least they had their coats zipped. I would tut-tut over all this, except my own kids are just as dumb. But I just don't get it. (I occassionaly see some adult in his 30s or 40s running around in the winter, on a 30- or 35-degree day, wearing knee socks and those ridiculous coaching shorts, and thinking, Buddy, you're out of your mind. Who wears shorts in winter, and why?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, when I went through some hollows on the way to work this AM, my in car thermometer (which is reasonably accurate) dropped to 8 deg F.

Not the lowest it's ever shown, but pretty close (I saw a 3 last winter).

I've stopped grousing at my teenagers about not wearing heavy jackets, hats, etc. at the bus stop. They'll learn just like we did, Mudge.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, we are even a little colder than you currently and are normally slighter cooler, I live near the High School I went to many years ago. The students wear a uniform, girls a small piece of cloth that substitutes as a kilt and white shirt, boys pants and white shirt. It is rare that I see any of them even remotely dressed appropriate for the weather. Coats only appear about this type of cold, hats, mitts, etc - not happening.

I don't remember being able to ward off the cold like that when I was there age.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, don't feel bad about complaining of the cold. I complain about the weather here in Texas when it goes below 40.

Or above 90.

But, then I AM a wuss.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

After 20 years in the Pacific NW, my tolerable temperature range is 65 to 80 degrees, inclusive.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

{to be read with an extreme southern accent]

...last time I saw Mary,
there she was, sittin'
'neath the syckeemore tree...
buckshots was flyin' all 'round my head
form the shotgun her old man
was aimin'at me...

Posted by: Clay | February 5, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse


I probably skimmed past the New Yorker article the first time you linked to. My bad. The news peg to re-link it is that David Kilcullen featured in the article is now one of Petraeus's Whiz Kidz.

Also, Waterloo Middle School on 108/Waterloo Road went back to being Waterloo Elementary School. Deep Run Elementary School was built in 1990 on Old Waterloo Road and is a completely different facility. Waterloo Elementary was built in 1964 as an elementary school and converted to a middle school to survive budget cuts before growth in Columbia spurred new school construction. It has been an elementary school for at least the past decade.

I have close personal ties to Waterloo Elementary, but wasn't around during your era. One website mentioned that it was the first integrated middle school in Howard County.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, frostbitten, I'm sorry. Pets are a gift to Humanity. They evoke empathy and compassion from all who share their homes with them. If you witness Kevin Drum's "catblogs" at The Washington Monthly, you'll see agreeable comments from liberals and conservatives who normally are hurling insults at one another. Alex was lucky to have you.
It's eleven &$^$*##@ degrees below zero here. Gah!

Posted by: CowTown | February 5, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, some of the other things that happened since the early '90's:
MTV, cable TV, primetime TV all showing much more sexual content - not to mention the ads

Internet - chatrooms, websites, ads (the ad at the top of this page, for me anyway, is a rear view of a bethonged young woman - or maybe it's a bikini - I avert my eyes).

Lots of influences - I wouldn't rank Bill Clinton high on the list. (I bet he was surprised his own self!)

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Best Super Bowl story yet:

One of my good friends hosted the kids from church at her home last night. At one point she looked out to see four kids at the basketball court, two of them playing horse. Keep in mind that it's cold here, maybe not quite so cold as DC, but verrry cold.

As she watched, the guy took off his shoes, then his belt. The girl took off her jacket. The guy kept taking clothes off, till all he had on was his boxers. He lost that shot too, but his opponent, bless her, was merciful.

He will never live it down.

Posted by: Slyness | February 5, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I am indeed the Nexus of the Universe and not merely the Nexus of the DC-MD suburbs (let's not forget the Washington University in St. Louis/Sam and Betty link to Wheezy).

I used to live on Waterloo Rd. (aka MD Rt. 103) and drove regularly past your old elementary school under its current name. However, I did not improperly touch your girlfriend. When I was an 8th grader (1975-1976), I lived in Burtonsville and was not at all certain how one would go about navigating the process of properly improperly touching a girl -- but I knew I sure wanted to find out.

I'm past all that, now.

The Nexus thing may be a little overblown (as it were); I just tend to latch onto mildly unexpected details and follow them to see where they lead. It's a science-guy thing.

I remember reading, years ago, of an experiment to estimate the degree of connectivity between Americans. Post cards were handed out to people, having only a name and city, with the instruction to get the card to the addressee by handing it to persons believed to be more closely connected to the intended recipient. The average number of exchanges was something small, like 3 or 4. The longest chain took 7 exchanges to get to the recipient. The shortest took 0 -- the subject already was slated to fly to the recipient's city and already knew the recipient personally.

Another way to play: how many degrees am I from somebody famous (not counting my obscurely famous mother-in-law)? Well, I know a guy whose second cousin is Paul Reiser. Paul Reiser was in Aliens with Sigourney Weaver. Therefore, I am three degrees of separation from Sigourney Weaver, and four degrees of separation from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Annie Potts, who worked with Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters. Also, Wheezy and I attended the same college as Harold Ramis and the chairman of Men's Wearhouse (which is my connnection to martooni/danghippie). In principle, if I were a charming social climber, I could pull these strings and try to get something out of it. The fact is, we all have funny little connections like this, although we may not always be aware of them. I am two degrees of separation from Weingarten -- I met Eric Shansby's parents at a party and recognized the name.

It's not a big deal. This stuff happens all the time, to everybody. The only difference is in whether we choose to make ourselves aware of it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Strip horse, that's a new one.

I would hardly say that the particular sexual favor now known as a Monica is ubiquitous in the younger grades. I am pretty certain my son made it through middle school without being offered that service. He does now have independent means of transportation and can transport passengers within a month, so all bets were off. All you can do is raise them right and set them off.

I did have a coworker verify the casualness of the behavior. His wife intercepted their fifteen-year-old son's IM messages one evening. He had brushed off a girl three times saying he was too busy to go meet her. She offered "oral" as an enticement if he came over. The request never got relayed and the incident led to a serious father-son talk about casual sex.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I was just north of where 108 turned off towards Clarksville and the continuation of Waterloo Rd. became 103. When I have been up there recently, the whole traffic pattern has been moved around. The school was still Deer Run when I went past it back in '87-'89 (I remember the sign).

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- actually I don't much eat red meat because I don't know what to do with it (and there was the pre-surgical problem of not being able to digest it).

Fact is, it was the meaty part of your stew recipe that had my mouth watering. If I ever get my kitchen clean again I'd like to try the recipe with the red meat.

Someone else can do the chicken test.

Gomer -- although Monaute has a point about presidential sexual escapades and popular culture -- I just don't think it's possible to pinpoint one cultural episode (Clinton) as the source of all the no-holds-barred sexual attitudes of pre-teens and teenagers today.

One has to look at the enire cultural milieu that the kids are stewing in -- musical lyrics that are very explicit, easily accessed pornography on the Web, etc.

I seriously doubt that Bill Clinton was the only president to have explicit sexual dalliances in the Oval Office. He is certainly the only one impeached because of his behavior.

But the whole Clinton-Starr mess alone was not enough to radically alter kids' behavior. IMHO.

Posted by: nelson | February 5, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think a big cause of the continued casualization of sex is the LACK of serious father-son/mother-daughter/parent-child talks about the subject. At the same time as the media has made the subject one that younger children feel perfectly comfortable with, their parents have lost (or given up) the ability or desire or recognition of the need to talk about it.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I used to work with a guy that was a close high school friend of John Goodman. I met and briefly talked to John at the guy's second wedding. Since Elizabeth Taylor was in The Flintstones, that probably connects to everybody.

John Goodman has a Bacon Number of 2 via Marisa Tomei, so I feel pretty well connected.

Plus I have met ScienceTim.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

No SciTim - you are the Nexus of the Universe. You must embrace your destiny.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's a Boodle Connection for you:

One of our regular boodlers here has grandparents buried in the same tiny small-town cemetery I visited last week--where we buried my husband's aunt.

Said cemetery is 1,200 miles from my home and 1,400 miles away from hers. We live about 1,000 miles from each other.

And we met here.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

One of these days, when I'm REALLY bored, I'll have to work out my Bacon number. The closest I can get by casual pondering is a value of 5.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I walked right past Richard Simmons in a hotel lobby in Denver. I don't think that connects me to anyone, but it's one of the few times I could have reached out and touched a famous person.

Alas, I let the opportunity pass without handling the merchandise. -Sigh-

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Just remember -- when I am elected or appointed to high office, I will remember these connections. And I'll be calling you. All of you.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Totally off topic, but I feel like a proud father:

Posted by: Dooley | February 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

My boss's boss knows - no never mind.
I work with a guy who once met - no let's not go there.
Once, during a party I shook hands with - nah I really shouldn't.

Hey! I've met SciTim Too!

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

And well you should be proud Dooley. That looks spectacular. But tell me, jusy how does one pronounce "Eobalaenoptera"?

Besides, of course, carefully.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

This is an interestingly silly bit of self-aggrandizement: I just realized that I have one degree of separation from each of Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn, Michael Jackson, and the Rev. Jim Jones (deceased), each through a different person.

I'm telling you -- you can go crazy if you let yourself think that this stuff matters.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I once met Torquemada. Didn't like him.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I live in the same town as Bruce Hornsby. My pain management doctor and Bruce both have sets of twins who play sports together. She keeps telling me she'll call me on her cell phone from a track meet when Bruce is there (which is often) so I can come listen to his very funny stories about behind-the-scenes escapades at concerts.

But everyone in town knows Bruce. I know people who went to high school with him. Chances are I'll run into him sooner or later on my own.

My mother graduated in the same class from Woodrow Wilson High in DC as Miss Manners. Not sure that this counts as a really big hit. Bud McFarland (Reagan's NSC chair and player in the Iran-Contra mess) also was in the same class. Boring!

We have boxes of family papers -- some of which feature the dance career of my mother's mother in the 20s and 30s, before she got married.

One item is some magazine doing celebrity handwriting analysis. My grandmother is featured on one page, the next page has Clark Gable's handwriting analysis. I guess my grandmother was well-known in her day . . .

This is as close as I can get to any celebs (I don't count who my neighbors were when I lived on Capitol Hill -- too easy).

Posted by: nelson | February 5, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

You know Joel went to college with David Duchovny. And he once met Meg Ryan. Plus, rumor has it, that he once actually talked to Gene Weingarten.

In Person.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- you must have been a good Catholic back in the day if you managed to meet Torquemada and walked away from your encounter with him. :-)

Might you have been Senor Curmudgeone?

Posted by: nelson | February 5, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I have one degree of separation from Eobalaenoptera ("dawn baleen whale with a finger in its nose"), by way of one of the guys in two of those photos. By extension, all the BPH'ers have an Eobalaenoptera number of 2.

Now THAT's a connection that matters.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I used to routinely have brunch with space aliens who secretly control the weather.

But I'm all better now.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

That's great, Dooley.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I have a Kevin Bacon separation number of 3.

Tim.. you know someone in those pictures? Not Dooley? Explain, please.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

As a new father Dooley how nerve wracking was the set up?

Looks good by the way.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. In counting things like the Bacon number, do we count the number of people between you and Kevin Bacon, or the number of linkages between the people? It's a calibration issue. After all, Kevin Bacon, himself, should have a Bacon number of zero. A friend or professional colleague of Kevin Bacon should have a number of 1 (his brother would get 1/2, I'd guess).

I have my Bacon number down to 3. Me --> my storytelling buddy --> Paul Reiser --> Kevin Bacon (who appeared on "Mad About You" in an episode in which 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon was a plotting point). 3 links, but only two people between us.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse


Technically, that is two Bacon numbers. You to the friend and the friend to the celebrity. Anyone that has been in a movie with Kevin Bacon has a Bacon number of one. Only Kevin himself has a number of zero.

The current Waterloo Elementary (and the former Waterloo Middle) is just south of the 108/104 split closer to the newly built Snowden River Parkway. 108 turns west and passes Howard High School; 104 continues north and dead ends into 103. On 103 is the recently rebuilt Ellicott Mills Middle School.

I will have to make inquiries to see if Waterloo had ever been called Deep (not Deer) Run before the current one was built. To further muddy the waters, in 2003 Bellows Spring Elementary School was built over Deep Run Creek. Rather than continue to bore the boodle with details of the Howard County Public Schools, the following website has info sheets and maps of every current school.

If you are driving around any of these schools and see a bicyclist wearing an ugly Georgia Tech jersey, please show courtesy and don't run me over.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I have never been Catholic, Nelson (not that there's anything wrong with that), but the idea that I'd have been a "good" Catholic is hysterically funny. I'd have made Father Guido Sarducci look like a choirboy. (Does that metaphor work? I'm not sure...)

Though I have lusted after a Catholic girl or two in my time, as, indeed, who hasn't?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG, I meant Dooley -- I thought I was the only one of us who had met him in the flesh. I guess I was forgetful.

And now, I really must get back to work. Jupiter awaits.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, in 1991 I was directly informed by a 8th grader of kids having sex in the bathroom and sexual harrassment of her by another 8th grader. I didn't remember such going-ons when I was in 8th grade, either. The junior high school was shortly afterwards dubbed a "den of inquity" by my senior English teacher.

It may have had something to do with the promotion of the junior high principal to our high school. He drastically changed the culture of our high school.

He was an extreme stickler for the rules and a lot of teens didn't like his rules (although quite a few teachers cheered).

Some rules he implemented were: no smoking in the bathrooms, eating in cafeteria only, not in the halls, etc. And kids got dermits for kissing in the halls, let alone what you are mentioning.

I can only surmise his replacement was not as good. I can't venture to give you an opinion on the working conditions in your junior high.

I will say one thing--I've always been flabbergasted by all the TV shows that shows kids actually having time to converse in between classes and propagate their drama/relationships. That was so opposite to my experience as I was always rushing to classes miles away so I wouldn't be late.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Quite nerve-wracking, but mostly I was there to say "lower the nose a little...OK! Stop there!"

When I was in high school I met Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, and I met Stephen Jay Gould when I was looking at specimens at Harvard for my dissertation.

Posted by: Dooley | February 5, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I used to know many Catholic School Girls. They never matched their scandalous reputation. But, of course, that was back in the seventies before teenagers had been manipulated into discovering sex.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

My uncle runs Stephen King's sports-radio station in Maine, and my fiancee's cousin's husband is the guy who takes care of the precogs in Minority Report. That's it for me.

Posted by: jw | February 5, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

There was a reputation I was supposed to live up too? No one tells me anything.

Mudge as for the term good Catholic - that is funny, it only exists in the minds of a few people. As I grew up I decided it was better just to be a good person.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to figure out how Dooley's number-one girl birthed that monster. Little Gomer came out at 9 lbs. 3 oz. and that was plenty big for Mrs. Gomer. That whale has to weigh tons! What a canal...

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh and mostlylurking - about the temperature range in the Pacific Northwest. I used to claim that anything below 45 degrees was freakishly cold. Of course, that was years ago. Things are probably warmer now. Perhaps due to Global Warming. Or Teenaged Sex.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Major BOO on my part. You are correct. Your Bacon number is 3. Mine is 4: Me:Coworker:Goodman:Tomei:Bacon.

Unless you count my picture of Julia Roberts, in which case it is 2.
Me:Julia:Kevin (via Flatliners)

I offer the picture as proof that I have been within flashbulb range of her.

Alas, I have no such evidence for John Goodman.

I have also been shoved my Laura Bush's Secret Service detail, if that counts for anything.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

And 5' 0" Mrs. D didn't even need an epidural...

Posted by: Dooley | February 5, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - that was you?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, it's easier when you don't need to have hips wide enough for birth, yet narrow and stable enough for bipedalism.

His mom probably had very little to wail about.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Catholic girls start much too late.

Posted by: Billy Joel | February 5, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse


I interviewed Bruce many, many moons ago. Probably the best celebrity interview I've ever done. Great guy. :-)

And if we count "professional" interactions, you're all one step away from the Scorpions, Van Halen (twice if you count DLR), and Paula Poundstone, among others.

'Mudge, I ALWAYS wear sweatpants and a sweatjacket when I jog in this weather. :-))

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Did I read the weather report in the WAPO right? DC's high is 24F and low tonight will be 11F? I can't even imagine that kind of cold... Of course, it's cold here too, we got way down to 58 last night. We had to use two blankets! Stay warm everyone!

Posted by: Aloha | February 5, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

yello... anyone who gets that close to Paul Rudd deserves a Bacon rating of whatever number he wants.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I have a Bacon number of 2 for Erma Bombeck, the creator of Marmaduke and many others through the same person.

Bacon number of 2 for Isaac Asimov through a teacher of mine.

I'd find those numbers more meaningful, if I didn't live in the deaf world where you have multiple links to the same 'famous' people through most of the people you know.

But it's always interesting for me to think about the disparate links you have-- not to famous people-- but to people in other countries through your friends and acquaintances.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I am full of opinions, based only on what I have experienced, what I know, and what I think I know. I take no umbrage at those who would critique my talking (shouting?) points, as you are all very polite about doing it.

On another note, I'd like to extend condolences to frostbitten on the loss of your dog. Only a human family member's passing hurts more than the loss of a treasured pet. I feel for you. I don't know what I'll do when my 9-year-old Matilda goes... I just try not to think about that too much.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the old canard about Catholic girls.

When I went to school in Switzerland, in a canton pretty much evenly split between Catholic and Protestant adherents, the Catholic girls always said the Protestant girls would do anything, because for them it wasn't a sin. And the Protestant girls said the Catholic girls would do anything, because they could go to confession and be cleansed of their sin.

It seemed to me that none of us were doing *anything* much less anything, and I was OK with that.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

If someone already told Dooley that the text about Eobalaenoptera should read "sight" rather than "site," I apologize.

I met Michael Jackson back when he was a nice young man on his "Thriller" tour. Think it was "Thriller," it was 1984. His unretouched days, just a polite young man who shook hands with every one -- without gloves!

Posted by: nellie | February 5, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

One of my high school classmates used to write for Howard Stern.

I think I need to find something better.

My dad shared a cab and had lunch with Isaac Azimov. That's better. One can go lots of places from Azimov. Don't know how long it would take to get to Kevin Bacon, though.

Posted by: pj | February 5, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

That is one fine specimen of a fossilized whale (to paraphrase E.B. White). You should be a proud papa.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Er, Michael was the one without gloves.

Posted by: nellie | February 5, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Just add three to your connection to Asimov.

Asimov wrote I, Robot which starred Will Smith.
Will Smith was in Enemy of the State (1998) with Paul Majors
Paul Majors was in The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I never met a Catholic girl who lived up to their reputation. All the ones I knew seemed to feel that they themselves were a hallowed hall to which a heathen like myself did not deserve entry. I think the rep. came from the hopes and prayers of Catholic school boys (who were themselves the hopes and prayers of the Catholic priests). Who ever thought celibacy was a good idea for people who have so much contact with our youngsters? Gotta put a big huge "Duh" on that one.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Let me guess, Mudge... somehow I envision you and Torquey being at the same cocktail party.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod writes this, "And kids got dermits..."

Dermits = demerits, unless, Wilbrod, your school sported a very special language indeed.

My genetic Bacon points:
Exhibit Number 1:
F. Scott Fitzgerald's mother Molly McQuillan of St. Paul, MN had a uncle named Philip. Philip was the second cousin of my gr. gr. grandmother, yet another McQuillan. McQuillan Plumbing trucks still keep pipes clean in the Twin Cities. Wilbrod, I think you are too far north for a client call.

Exhibit Number 2:
I am related through this same family to the current famous Irish writer Colm Toibin, he of near Booker Prize-fame with his tome on Henry James, _The Master_.

Exhibit Number 3:
I am related to a lowly private who was killed fairly quickly in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. We used to call that the Last Stand of Custer.

Other than being sung Happy Birthday at age 13 in Great Falls, Montana by the entire Harlem Globetrotter's team, I have no celebrity sighting Bacon moment what-so-ever.

Oops. Charley Pride lived not far from us in GF; however, he spent winters in Nashville, sensibly.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Nellie, I informed the PR office of their typo.

Posted by: Dooley | February 5, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

How close am I if I worked on the estate of a dead TV actor? I was actually in the home and touched some of the actor's clothes and personal belongings (in a professional capacity), although the person was already deceased. Does that count?

If not, then my only claim to fame is that my uncle is Don Ho's high school buddy. Oh, and I got to meet and chat with Ann Curry about her kids a few years ago.

Posted by: Aloha | February 5, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Dooley... already fixed! An editor's dream.

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I've been on a few files adverse to some moderately well known sports stars. Also, a friend had a 30 minute private audience with the Queen (he was CO of a reserve unit). That's all I got.

Welcome back jw.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I just noticed that my celeb. moments occured out in the wilds of Montana, where the diversity is not what you would get in the Urbs or on the Coasts.

1) Harlem Globetrotters WITHOUT CURLEY; and
2)Charley Price, the great African American Country and Western singer.

And no, for those wondering, I never did see Evel Knieval I or II. They actually hail from Butte, Montana. BUTE is the correct pronounciation, although I will say that it is BUTT cold today in the suburbs of Maryland in plant growing zone 9 (perhaps becoming 8).

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

My father once met Andre the Giant, who was in The Princess Bride with Christopher Guest, who was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

Posted by: Dooley | February 5, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

My other famous-person sighting was the redhead from "Head of the Class." I think her character's name was Simone? Saw her as I came out of the Port-o-John at DC's Earth Day celebration downtown in 1990. I don't think she was impressed by the kid pointing at her saying, "Hey, you're that chick from that show!"

Also, I marched by a reviewing stand in Austin, TX which contained both Bushes, one a former president, the other while he was governor. A dubious claim to fame, I know, but who knew the horror he was to bring upon us?

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Dooley- That is incontheivable!

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I had such a crush on Khrystyne Haje. I never missed an episode, even after Johnny Fever left.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, this might in part explain why younger children are more involved sexually.,8599,1585877,00.html

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

SofCarl: queen connection is very cool and so unUSA-ian.

Do all Canadians know a Mountie? Are they around like police officers in all the provinces?

DO they wear red unies?

I know this sounds dumb, but I am really curious. Living below Alberta and traveling to Lethbridge quite often, I never saw one. Wanted to. Closest would be the park rangers in Waterton Int'l Peace Park.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

That was quick yellojkt. Thanks.

My cousin used to be married to someone who played with Springsteen. He got replaced by Steve Van Zandt.

Posted by: pj | February 5, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

My office-mate and I came up with a geek's one-upmanship of 6 Degrees of ... : count how many Nobel Prize winners you have met (it is fair to include the ones that you met BEFORE the Prize). For fun, compare to the number that you think would recognize you. I'm up to 6 total, 2 who might recognize that they had previously met me. One now deceased, who I met when I was 4 -- I think it should still count. No fair counting yourself, if you already have one or anticipate getting one.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Famous People (or Has-Beens) I have Met and actually Talked with (and some of whom I actually know):


Donald Sutherland (twice)
Genevieve Bujold
Wilford Brimley
Rob Lowe
Nastassja Kinski

Music, Classical:

Luciano Pavarotti
Kathleen Battle
Marc-Andre Hamelin
Angela Hewitt


John deChastelain
Romeo Dallaire

The Plastic Arts:

Jeff Koons
Christo & Jeanne Claude
Moshe Safdie

Writers, Canadian:
Too many to list

Writers, Foreign:

Lots, but the biggest thrill was Ian McEwan


Dick Pound (or should that be infamous).

The movie people I met because our firm in Montreal did a lot of tax work for the movie business.

The other artists were encountered during the normal course for a culture-vulture (gala receptions, arts fests, etc.)

The Military types I met either on public-service-type ocassions.

I know Dick Pound because he was a partner in the tax group of the firm that did the movie work.

I don't know what having contact with the famous or celebrated means, in the overall scheme of things. There isn't any reflected glory, for sure. Maybe just that it is kind of neat to see someone up close who has only been seen or heard through an intervening medium. And some of the people were interesting to talk to, which is always appreciated.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Cp, they got demerits too. the Dermits were ex-hermits that would tail teenagers all day, scratching for fleas, doing occasional religious rants, and being generally smelly and embarrassing. Oh, nobody wanted a dermit.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

CP, the wiki link for the RCMP is quite good.

Quick answers - red unies for ceremonies only.

Personally do not know a Mountie but through in laws I am connected somehow.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

ScTIM; TaDAH! We are connected through John C. Mather!!!!! But you likely really know him, and I just met him in his daze of fame this fall.

I took a class from Tom Schelling who is about my height. I particpated in several trials he used to rethink game theory. However, he through them out for a couple of reasons. Let's say he was not pleased with the reponse of my group.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian, you actually do have reflected glory if you are related to Toibin. I thought The Master was, well, masterful, and my heart was broken by The Blackwater Lightship.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

CP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Gendarme Royal du Canada - GRC) is the national police force, so does FBI equivalent stuff across jurisdictions. Also, other than Ontario and Quebec, the RCMP is also the 'provincial' police force. Most major cities have municipal police forces, however, so the internal joke with Mounties is that GRC stands for "Gravel Road Cops". They also do all the police work in the territories.

All Mounties go through training at their Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan. All of them have the red serge jacket and flat brimmed stetson as their dress uniform.

As it turns out, a Mountie is one of my closest friends.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse


I think my dad can match you on Nobel Prize winners.

By the way, do you know Ned Wright? He's out at UCLA and is affiliated with one of the winners of this year's Physics prize.

Posted by: pj | February 5, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

SciTim asks:
>Hmmm. In counting things like the Bacon number, do we count the number of people between you and Kevin Bacon, or the number of linkages between the people?
No, SciTim, linkages is the sausage number, not the bacon number.

I tipped a couple of pints with Michael Jackson* two weeks ago at his London 'local'. He was not wearing gloves, and he did give me a copy of his new book. Unfortunately, it's in Italian.

*aka "The Beer Hunter"


Posted by: Pixel | February 5, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I know a couple of Mounties. They are pretty much in charge of law enforcement whereever there is no local police force (lots of small towns and vast wilderness areas, as well as rural regions, for instance) except that Quebec (Surete du Quebec) and Ontario (Ontario Provincial Police) handle the same duties in those provinces.

I met my friend Constable Kevin (now Captain Kevin) way up in the NWT Territories; he begged me to write to him when when I returned to what he called "Canada."

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I believe you are winning.
Aloha, dead celeb. touching of effects counts, I believe.

Aloha, you remind me that I knit faux chain mail for a Shakespeare production of Henry V staring Harry Hamlin. I can imagine that he wore a wristlet made by me....

And, I worked on a corset worn by Kelly McGillis in the blood soaked revenger's (Spanishy-Italianate) Dutchess of Malfi.) None of we lower level stitchers were allowed near her. But, I sewed right-sided panels, including the lining. So, this means I am connected to her in a silk-whalebone unmentionable way...

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

A bunch of you are cheating with the Bacon numbers since the linkage refers to acting in movies.

Unless. You're all movie actors! How cool is that!??

Posted by: Fifty | February 5, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

dmd- I asked earlier what happened during the 90s that could lead to this situation in a pretty smarta$$ manner, not even realizing that the internet happened during that time period, too. I used to actually have to go into a library (shudder) to do research. My students now look at me blankly when I suggest a visit to the local library. "You mean we can't just Google it?" I think you've hit the pecker on the head with that insight.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, you said no counting oneself, right? Okay, zero.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Our regular threesome would sometimes be assigned a fourth by the starter. We played with Don Newcombe twice, and Elgin Baylor once. Twice, years apart, I was put-putting down Anzac Parade on my scooter when Queen Elizabeth's small motorcade went past in the other direction. And when little, I was baby-sat by two families where the father later won a Nobel Prize -- Willard Libby and Donald Cram.

Posted by: LTL-CA | February 5, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Gomer that is an interesting choice of words :-)

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, you lovely, polite Canadians about the Mountie trivia. You can imagine that when we crossed the border in our fake wood paneled Ford Country Squire station wagon, that we would see a MOUNTIE. My dad had a five dollar prize on that one.

Yoki, Blackwater Lightship is much more to my taste that the Jamesian tome. You may like _The Heather Blazing_. That book details the dis-ease in post Civil War Ireland. Part of the tail takes place in the townland where CT and I have common ancestors. You will also see that he is of the Townie cousins while my people were considered the hillbilly cousins near Mt. Leinster.

One of most haunting books is _The Story of the Night_ set in Buenes Aires detailing both the time of the Disappeared AND the closetedness of a half-Argentine/half Brit gay man. Shadows of the Malabvinas War or Falklands, if you prefer.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I met a Mountie once, in full dress regalia outside the Canadian embassy on Pennsylvania Ave. I asked what I figured were pretty stupid questions, but he was really friendly and didn't seem to mind educating a dumb American. My only connection to the RCMP prior to meeting Mark the Mountie was Dudley Do-Right, so you can understand my surprise at finding out that Mounties are policemen, similar to our FBI, as so many before me have already stated.

I love the Canadian embassy, with the cool echoing rotunda. It is on my walking tour of DC that I force upon anyone I know who visits there.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, all of my dealings with our Canuck neighbors to the north have been favorable. On my first of four nights in Tofino, I found a stranger willing to sell me some herb for US dollars. He thought he was ripping me off with the price he asked, obviously not realizing that, from my end, I was getting a 40% discount from American-grown buds.

Oh, Canada... That's all I know, sorry.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. I'm thinking about playing - I've met and hung out with and raced with and done radio with and sung with some famous people, and have some "friends of friends" - but I will simply put one name in, and withdraw.

I met Muhammed Ali. Not too many people in this world awe me. He does.


Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

How many Nobel Prize winners have I met? Outside of the Literature and Peace categories I can barely even NAME any Nobel Prizers, let alone having met them. Let's see, there's Watson and Crick, Linus Pauling, Madame Curie, William Shockey...uh...Neils Bohr? Neils Lofgren? Mr. Wizard? Bella Abzug? Jeez.

LTL, you have a regular threesome, do you? Boy, you Californians are everything they say...

Is it possible to have maybe...19 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon? Cuz I got nuthin'.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Another thing about Canada was the number of hitch-hikers I saw. Maybe this is just on Vancouver Island, which is the only place I've been in Canada, but there were hitchers everywhere! They all looked like they were on their way to a Phish show (or a Dead show, for you older fogies), quite different from the scary types you see in the US. Maybe I'm just brainwashed from living down here, but I wouldn't pick any of'em up. But the sheer numbers of them were unlike anything I've seen down here after a lifetime of road trips.

Posted by: Gomer | February 5, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I've met Joel Achenbach, twice! Does that count for anything?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, not only that, but they were "assigned a fourth by the starter". I didn't realize these things were so organized.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

If you can get Joel to a BPH, then maybe that would count for something, Mudge.

(Joel-- don't go. Trust me.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 5, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, as you noticed life is a little different on Vancouver Island, kind of a time warp thing.

I saw a hitchhiker here last week probably the first I have seen in 20 years. I don't think his chances of getting a ride were good.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

SoC, I know what you mean. Takes all the romance out of it, don't you think?



Posted by: bc | February 5, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt & SciTim, last time I visited my brother in Ellicott City, I got lost trying to use Old Montgomery Rd to get from the Columbia Mall back to Ellicott City--and this from the culture that did nothing but drive the county roads during high school (Howard High '70-74). Columbia expands like a metastasizing cancer.

I seem to recall reading that the women who conducted the original seven-degrees of separation experiment had her results debunked. It turned out that she mostly used the Yale community--who all pretty much knew each other anyway.

Interesting note about Petraeus.

Posted by: Dave | February 5, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I had a friend that went to Stanford and we would have debates over the superiority of our respective schools. His trump card was always "How many Nobel Prize winners teach freshman physics at your school?"

I'm with 'mudge in the No-Nobel Club. My only hope is for Bono to get that Peace Prize he's been lobbying for for so long, cuz I have been in the same arena/stadium as him a few times.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I work with retired mounties. Does that count? I can tell you they might look nice in their uniforms... and that is all I am saying about working with them.

I have met several famous peple. I served Pierre Berton tea, and I met John Diefenbaker. I also met a former prima ballerina with the Winnipeg Ballet. I've never considered her a famous person at all, just a pain in the behind.

dooley, please send Mrs D my utmost admiration. That must have stung. Are you having a baby shower or is it a little late for that?

Posted by: dr | February 5, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Debunked? Sheesh. Nothing is sacred.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Running for the dogsled.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Tristan Mimbrez is the handsome, young clerk at Barnes and Noble who has been waiting on me for at least the last two years. We have a rolling conversation each time he interacts with me at the register or takes my special orders over the phone.

This pleasant and hardworking 24-year-old is one of my favorite employees in this particular Barnes and Noble, the newest in San Antonio, but not the largest, located between my home and the Helotes brush fire. I know Tristan so well that I know that his mother was reading the old English work "Tristan and Isolde" while she was pregnant with Tristan or shortly before giving birth to him, which is how this attractive, but not so tall, bookseller got his name.

So when I was in Barnes and Noble about two weeks ago, Tristan and I again began a conversation as he was ringing and bagging a stack of books I had bought. I had worked over the post-Christmas table of clearance books and knickknacks. One of my purchases was "The Daily Show" Jon Stewart's "America (The Book), Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." (Note to Jon Stewart: Jon, I am so, so, so happy that your book didn't sell well at this particular Barnes and Noble location....because I got it for half price! Yippppeee! Yeah, HALF price! )

So naturally, our conversation rolled this time around to the Helotes mulch fire, now renamed the Helotes brush fire, burning since Dec. 25. I told him that I had been in on a Saturday a week before and the store just reeked of smoke, smelling so bad that I feel like I didn't want to stay and shop and browse.

Tristan acknowledged that the store had fire odor problems. Casually, he explained, using the word "mulch" as a catch-all, that mulch had landed on Barnes and Nobles' roof, that mulch, actually a black tarry substance, had been found in the store's vents and had been cleaned out. Details of the cleaning were discussed behind closed doors, he explained.

He added that he had found mulch, or "black stuff," in his car that had sat in the huge parking area in the strip center where Barnes and Noble is located--while he was working inside the store, as well as at his mother's house at Braun Road and Loop 1604, not too far from our own home.

I stopped by Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon and spoke to Cary, the floor manager. She said that whatever had been found in the vents had been found as a result of routine maintenance by a company contracted by Barnes and Noble, but any further conversation would have to be O.K.ed by Barnes and Noble's corporate office.

This morning, I stopped at Barnes and Noble and spoke with store manager Vince Parziale, who outlined the basic maintenance procedures for cleaning the air vents both inside and outside the story and the frequency with which these tasks are completed. However, he was waiting for an email reply from Barnes and Noble's corporate office in New York in order to be able to speak to me at greater length and in greater detail. (No call from Vince.)

Wherever I go to retail businesses in our neighborhood lately I am struck by the anecdotal evidence, since I start up conversations, of the impact the Helotes brush fire is having on local employees, who are also local residents.

Yesterday afternoon we had a late lunch at the International House of Pancakes, just across the parking lot from Barnes and Noble. Our waitress was new--she plump, blonde and young, with her hair worn up in a ponytail. Her name is Heather. She is three-weeks new to her job, having waitressed at a number of San Antonio dining spots in our greater area, but now that she has young children, she prefers an early morning to mid-afternoon shift. She lives inside San Antonio city limits, near Guilbeau and Loop 1604. She is asthmatic. The prolonged mulch fire has cost her more money for more inhalers.

Across Bandera Road from Barnes and Noble the story isn't much different at the hamburger joint, Cheesy Jane's. A waiter we know only as Fish (since his last name is Fisher or Fischer) has also had to spend more on inhalers since he is asthmatic. I learned from one of his coworkers at Cheesy Jane's that Fish has joined the class-action lawsuit against propery owner Harry Zumwalt on whose land the fire sits, the first meeting held last Wednesday at the VFW Hall in Helotes and conducted by the Houston law firm, Mestemaker and Straub. This was the same night that I stayed in the Red Cross shelter in council chambers in Helotes City Hall.

These three retail locations I just mentioned are southeast of the fire. Northwest of the fire is the Mexican restaurant El Chapparal. About two weeks ago we ate there on a Saturday (the same afternoon I found a TCEQ employee downloading video games in one of the Strike Team trailers) and I spoke to our waiter Sergio. He said there had been absenteeism at the restaurant, and three employees with either asthma or bronchitis had missed work.

We ate at El Chapparal last week, and our waiter, the young and gregarious Ivan (pronounced in Spanish like "Yvonne") Martinez checked and confirmed Sergio's story and said that Justin and two other waiters had lost some time away from their jobs because of the smoke. He also said the Spanish-language television station Univision (former Clinton administration secretary and former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros has ties) had been to the restaurant quite recently to interview the owners. We also talked to the Anglo floor manager, but she had heard of no absenteeism because of the Helotes conflagration. So do I believe the two waiters Sergio and Ivan who probably know the other wait staff pretty well and share a common language with them for the most part, or the floor manager who may only work nights?

This last recent occasion that we dined at El Chapparal, the smoke smell in the parking lot was heavy and oppressive. I feigned lack of knowledge about the fire when one of the young hostesses greeted us and led us to our table. She said the brush pile is 180 feet tall, which is a whopper times two regarding the height of the pile of burning brush, but it made me laugh--just momentarily.

Tristan Mimbrez, when finishing our transaction at Barnes and Noble several weeks ago asked, "Have you heard the latest joke about how the mulch fire got started?" "No." I replied. "Well, the joke going around is tht Wal-Mart started it because Wal-Mart wasn't allowed to build in Helotes--an act of revenge," he laughed.

Which gives me a wonderful segue to talk about the current Helotes City Council, which I will do in my next post. I will also include bits of a conversation I had with Newton Renfron, the well-informed editor of the weekly "Echo," Helotes' community newspaper, who passed along some information that surprised me, yet didn't surprise me.

Posted by: Loomis | February 5, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I think it is a lot easier to get access to the great and the good in Canada; it doesn't take much to crack the cultural/political/public-service/corporate organizations that host such types at various events; if you give to the United Way, support the local orchestra, join a political party, etc. you will eventually be invited to meet someone with a name. There isn't so much competition for the places, and the donations made to various causes can be fairly modest, and still buy "leader" status.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Random on-topic posting: "The Constitution is premised on the self-evident truth that, unfettered, the government will become tyrannical. Congress is set up in such a way as to make it hard for any of these people to do anything."

What amazed me, with the House, Senate, and Presidency so recently in the control of just one party, was how quickly government became tyrannical. Somehow, I thought that there would at least be a bit of subtlety and that we would be slowly weaned from our freedoms instead of having them torn away. Things are looking up, but we're not safe yet. And I'm scared about what will happen after 2008, if the legislature and Presidency all just go to the other party (my party). What gives me comfort is the knowledge that the Democratic party is so fractious and disorganized that it would hardly constitute one-party rule.

Posted by: Tim | February 5, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Jumper's First Theorum: Bacon numbers greater than three are by definition inconsequential.

Do you have to actually shake their hand, or act in a movie with them? How about if the writer is dead and they make a movie? Is the Will Smith / Isaac Asimov link valid? Unsure, I am. Can Yoda being a totally artificial fictional construct count in any way in the game?

Do any famous actors post pseudonomously on this blog? How would we know? Is Cassandra really Dolly Parton, the sweetest voice in the known world??

All these questions. I have no answers.

Posted by: Jumper | February 5, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Everyone can meet Joel on Wed at the Corcoran

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

// What gives me comfort is the knowledge that the Democratic party is so fractious and disorganized that it would hardly constitute one-party rule. // A disorganized party might be able to rescind some of what has been done in the past few years, even if they can't agree about creating much that's new. That could be of some benefit. Not passing the budget presented today would be a start.

Posted by: LTL-CA | February 5, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the budget... the budget presented today is FY2008. But FY2007 has not yet been passed, has it? As it happens, because not all of my grant money has yet been made available, I am in imminent danger of being laid off -- until the budget is passed, the money cannot be granted. I can take the salary hit, but it could make real trouble for our desire to buy a new house, and it's a real problem for maintaining health insurance. I don't worry about it so much, any more, because the song is getting old. Still, it's troubling.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 5, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Two questions:

1. Am I missing something when I hear "permanent tax cuts"? I'm thinking this means, short of constitutional amendment, "permanent until the next vote"?

2. SciTim's post raises a question. If you're in one job, and while there develop a health problem, and then have to change jobs, how much does that affect your coverage? Is your old policy transportable without changes? Can a new policy exclude basic coverage for known health problems or jack up premiums? I honestly don't fully know how these things work in the US.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl - Most insurance is paid month by month so typically you only have coverage for 30 days or less after your employment terminates. (This is why you always quit your job at the beginning of the month.)

There is a law known as COBRA that guarantees most people the right to purchase their insurance at the same rate paid by their former employer (typically much, much less than for an individual policy) that lasts, I believe, six months.

After that you are on your own.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Regarding pre-existing conditions, that depends upon the policy and the company. Typically, with larger companies at least, you get group coverage where everyone pays the same regardless of pre-existing conditions. If there are too many really sick people in your company the rates for everyone will go up next year. This is a huge issue. Is it fair for a healthy person to subsidize an obese chain-smoking coworker?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

RD, health insurance is a national disgrace, and I only wish I knew the answer. The first of December, a firefighter in my department died on duty of a congenital heart problem that was undetected. He left a wife and three children. I heard not long ago that the COBRA to cover them was going to be $900 a month...she will have to go to work, since the benefits, though generous, won't cover that.

Posted by: Slyness | February 5, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

And regarding the tax cuts. You are quite right that nothing is permanent. However, the existing cuts are supposed to vanish automatically after a certain amount of time yielding a defacto tax increase without an additional vote. If they are made permanent that means a separate legislative action will be needed to undo them. And most politicians are loath to vote for a tax increase.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the response. I'm thinking of these things more, having had my recent encounter with the medical profession.

Those kind of coverage issues arise for us for income replacement and maybe prescription coverage.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - in theory the answer to this is to carry lots of life insurance for death by natural causes. Yet I understand this is easier said than done when you are young and seemingly healthy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse


Regarding permanent tax cuts--many of the tax cuts passed in the last few years are scheduled to expire under the original legislation. I assume the permanent tax cuts do away with the expiration provisions.

Posted by: OK | February 5, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I mean, every year I sit down and figure out exactly what will happen should I get sick and die. As a Fed, I have far more choices than most. Yet I am the sole wage earner in a family with scary-lots of medical bills, so I make sure I understand exactly how this all is going to play out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

RD beat me to it. The accountant in me was contemplating actually looking up the relevant dates, before I decided I was too lazy to do so. Slowed down my posting.

Posted by: OK | February 5, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks anyway, OK. Makes sense. Still, probably politically easier to introduce new legislation to do away with the so-called "permanent tax cuts" than to introduce truly new taxes (understanding that the counter-argument is that they are "new").

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

FYI, COBRA coverage is for 18 months and is way more money than you'd expect. I'm on it now so I know, it's costing me over $800/month for a single policy, this is why I need to find a 'permanent' job rather than a 'temp' position. It's outrageous but I dare not go without coverage.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 5, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if anyone is aware of it but in Canada, income tax was a temporary measure to help pay for the costs of WW1. (or earlier conflict but I think I'm correct).

Posted by: dr | February 5, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

18 months? Well, that's better than the six I thought. Fortunately it has always been theoretical for me. Good luck getting that position!

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse


It's still a CR for FY 07, unfortunately...

aging-pay eejay-pay!!!

But there is some good news out there, SciTim...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

If I didn't work for a big company with great insurance I'd be toast. I still might end up refinancing the house, but at least I won't have to sell it. The meds are like $3k, and God knows how much the first week of treatment already cost.

All those nice people and big machines ain't cheap.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 5, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

But we're very glad the machines and people are available, Error.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

We're going to beat that Kaiser one of these days, dr.

One of the scare-monger things I see about Canada's system are delays, but I didn't think my experience was too bad. I was in surgery about 10 hours after walking into emergency, and there were blood tests and a CT scan in there as well.

Probably the better comparison is for things like hip replacments or bypass surgery, I guess.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 5, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes we are scotty, yes we are. I had my first rad treatment today, easy and fun.

I'm still waiting to meet Dana, the leggy nurse in mammography.

As Randy Newman would say:
You give me reason to live
You give me reason to live
You give me reason to live!

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 5, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

REB notes "...scary-lots of medical bills..."

Bad Sneakers reminds that Cobra, will possible, is a BIG BITE.

In my family several children have serious chronic medical problems. Portability DOES NOT COVER CHILDREN when they move from family insurance to their own first work-benefit.

Don't get me started on the limits within GOOD coverage for many treatments that keep people I know from becoming disabled. BTW, not a one of my sibs and first cousins are on disability but live and work full time with lupus and the like. Lupus in my fam is the "easy" autoimmune disease.

I live in fear of medical bills since this would move me from middle class to working poor in a heartbeat.

US of A: Not a good place to have chronic health problems.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Bacon, Shmacon... (nothing against the acting profession, but ho-hum)

I suppose if I were to ask all of my ex-professors who they managed to rub elbows with over the years, I may be able to scrape up a connection or two to Nobel winners, but I'm not holding my breath.

My brushes with fame and the famous have been (surprise) of the musical variety.

I sat in (on guitar) with several members of Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band and Barbara Morrison at the grand opening of an acquaintance's jazz club. We did "Stormy Monday" and some other classics. All I can say is "wow".

I jammed with Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) way way way back in the day. He was still playing the bar circuit here with "The Urge" (we grew up about 10 miles away from each other). His band (I think it was still "The Urge") played at my high school prom.

I had a regular gig playing bass with a Greek band at a bar/restaurant called "Platka" (translation: "The Backdoor", not that there's anything wrong with that) in Cleveland. One night, the band called off because John Mayall was in town, so I ended up playing with the "backup" band. Next thing we know, the "regular" band shows up with John Mayall in tow (with his harmonica all warmed up from his earlier concert). Needless to say, the mixture of bouzouki and harmonica drenched in Ouzo and Metaxa made for a very interesting evening.

Remember "The Ohio Players"? "Roller Coaster of Love", "Flashlight"? I used to jam regularly with Billy Beck (he was their keyboard player and wrote quite a few of their tunes).

I've met many more... the drummer from the Psychedelic Furs, The Fixx (had breakfast at Isaly's with the whole band), stepped over all twelve members of "Gangster Fun" on the way to the bathroom (my little sister invited them home one night), got drunk with Lux Interior of "The Cramps", and met Angela Bowie (ex-wife of David) at her club in Atlanta back in the early 90s (where I also spotted Kim Bassinger and the Baldwin she was hooked up with at the time).

Otherwise, I've led a boring life.

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Attaboy, Error. Not that you need incentive to go or anything, but pleasant distractions never hurt...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I met Charlie Steiner, late of ESPN...

At a State of the Union address.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Error! Dude! You're alive!

Any new super powers?

(enquiring minds want to know) ;-)

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

BTW, SonofCarl, the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution provides for the direct election of US Senators - 1913:

I don't know about connections to Kevin Bacon, but I partied with Patch Adams (before he was famous - in Fairfax, VA). My Dad met Jimmy Stewart, who was from my hometown. I took a couple theology classes from Father Richard McSorley at Georgtown - he knew Bill Clinton and lots of Kennedy's (not that I knew who Bill Clinton was at the time, or that McSorley was close to Jackie and Robert Kennedy). That's all I got, unless you count Bono and Paul McCartney and Leon Russell, all of whom have been in the same large space that I have been.

Pixel, jw, nice to see ya!

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "inquiring" minds.

sometimes the squiggly underline thing-a-ma-jig is actually right.

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

RD, the guy had life insurance but hadn't taken the supplemental life policy. He was 36 and an athlete, had his annual physical Wednesday and collapsed and died Friday afternoon while exercising at the fire station. An EKG would have picked up the problem, but why do you do that on a healthy 36 year old? The death benefits will be in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million, but that won't replace the income for a wife and three kids. Fortunately, the benefits do include full tuition at a state college for the children. Sad, sad, sad situation.

Posted by: Slyness | February 5, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculously so, Slyness. I hope the kids will be checked for that congenital problem, too. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

EF -- nice to read your handle. I meant to tell you that I googled your handle, trying to rustle up old movie pages about the actor EF and you appear on myspace as a 22 year old male in Turku, Florida.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - I agree - very sad. And when I was younger I scrimped on supplemental too. There was a period were if I had gone the family would be in a world of hurt. In fact, that is one of the reasons I became a Fed.

I'll never get rich, but we do have really good life insurance. Nowadays I carry so much life insurance I wonder about that gleam I sometimes see in my wife's eye.

I mean, is the coffee supposed to have that odd metallic taste?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

CP - I never realized that the portability restriction you mentioned existed. However, it is still unclear if that will ever be a problem around my house or not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Martooni -- nice music pedigree. My 14 year old drummer has jammed with many greats in the DC Blues society, but the best would be Joe Stanley, saxophonist, who played with Elvis.

For DCist and Terpists, you may like knowing that Stanley played with Elvis in Cole Field house years ago.

Bono did NOT appear in Cole, but did play Ritchie Coleseum.

Lew Alcinders played in Cole during his high schoolb-ball days. And alas for the waste and sadness: Len Bias played Cole, too. Comcast has NOTHING on Coles save for space.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

RD, just trying to understand where you're coming from, not trying to cause umbrage.

//Is it fair for a healthy person to subsidize an obese chain-smoking coworker?//

Is it fair for a healthy person, obese chain-smoking or not, to subsidize a coworker's //family with scary-lots of medical bills//?

Posted by: dbG | February 5, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

RDP -- FED jobs are the only exception I can find. We treated older child off the books starting at 14 because we knew about this wretched state of affairs watching my sibs and cousins.

So, when I look at my savings account I know where it went. Treating two kids off book. This year I taught her to LIE, LIE, LIE, hell.

So when did insurance become the cherry-picking, cream skimming corporate enterprise it is?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

dbG - it's probably not fair in either case. And I thank you for your support.

The difference is the perception, at least, that the obese chain-smoker could strive for a better lifestyle, whereas all that can be hoped for in my family to reduce the medical bills is either a decent diagnosis or an early death. Personally, I'm pulling for the former. And I think I'll stop there.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

When profits somehow became acceptable in health care, CP. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 5, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm pulling for your former, also. Thanks for the reply.

Posted by: dbG | February 5, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

CP asks: "So when did insurance become the cherry-picking, cream skimming corporate enterprise it is?"

Answer: Whenever Republicans take office, deregulate industries that need regulation, and under the guise of "the invisible hand of the marketplace," let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 5, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the sigh, SN. About tin whiskers, again. TW may be implicit in part of the Hubble failure(s) of late. Search on that funny term and the home page of a NASA working group will pop up.

Off to grade 66 papers, 22 of which are about, TIN WHISKERS and intermittant electronic failure.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 5, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

SoC, glad your experience was good, despite our systems failings we have been lucky as well. Dad was able to get by pass surgery pretty much the same day they realized it - but unfortunately it was because they couldn't figure out why he was even alive in the first place.

He spent a month in ICU, in the beginning they told us the cost of an average ICU stay is 50,000 cdn and that is based on less than 48 hours. Can't imagine how we would have coped in a different circumstance.

That said many changes are required and perhaps a very large change in the way things function.

Lets hope improvements come on both sides of the border.

Posted by: dmd | February 5, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Just had a longish post eaten! The horror!

I think focusing on people we don't *want* in our insurance pool (in theory) keeps us from asking why the insurance companies are making so much money, why doctors do questionable procedures in facilities they own and profit from, etc.

Posted by: dbG | February 5, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

This topic is veering close to one I've been thinking about. My brother and I have to make a decision where to send some cash from our mother's charitable foundation, and he wants to contribute to the Friedman Foundation, set up to support school vouchers. I've thought and thought about it, and I don't think I can agree.

It seems to me that elementary/secondary education is a public good and should be organized for effectiveness, not efficiency. By that I mean that the primary focus should be on getting kids educated, not in trying to "improve" the system by making it accountable to market forces. I don't think moving kids from "failing" schools is the answer, the answer is for "failing" schools to be improved.

I would appreciate hearing what other boodlers have to say, especially those with education backgrounds.

Posted by: Slyness | February 5, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

dbG - I want to stress that I do not personally advocate punishing those people who demand more medical care than others - regardless of why. I was just trying to explain the nature of a debate that may get nasty.

Personally I think that just as most other industries have manage to provide more for less, the insurance and medical industries should be able to figure out a way to do so also.

Further, I don't worry quite so much if that requires the Federal Government to get more involved - and to pay more. For what better use of government money and federally funded R&D is there than to help keep the citizens alive and healthy?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

No offense, Slyness... but sad as the situation is, the firefighter you mention is actually leaving his family in better (financial) straits than a very significant number of Americans could even dream of.

I know it's hard to stretch a quarter of a million these days, but I wish I had (or could afford) that kind of coverage. Supplementals aside.

To be perfectly honest, $250K is about 6 years' salary in martooni-land.

Maybe I'm just a long-haired dummy (I'm definitely not a great money-manager), but I don't think I'm alone in the "paycheck away from disaster club". If I were to die tomorrow, Little Bean would get $800/mo. or so from Social Security. Mrs. Martooni would get squat since we're not "officially recognized" as a couple. I have no life insurance (or any insurance, for that matter) through my employer, even though I work full-time, but that goes back to me being a long-haired dummy.

I could buy life insurance, but we need heat right now. And food right now. And a roof. And a car. Speaking of which, the car is the only "member" of the family that is insured. And... well, it goes on and on, just like it does for everyone else in varying degrees of severity.

Life is expensive. So is death.

But paying for life comes first and it sounds like the firefighter you write of made a decision to invest in life instead of buying supplemental death insurance. At 36, I'm sure he thought it was a safe bet.

Seriously... I get your point and I agree that those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve the rest of us should have great benefits... but from my standpoint, the benefits you think are insufficient would be very welcome here.

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... good for you for taking a stand against the school vouchers. I agree that it's more important to improve schools than to move the kids.

This interesting item about the subject appeared in yesterday's Post...

Posted by: TBG | February 5, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Error Flynn is here! And SonofCarl! And we heard from Cassandra a couple of times! *waving*

All is now right with this world.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

RD, I am so sorry if I've caused you any pain with my comments.

I truly didn't think you were advocating punishing high users of insurance.

I had a friend whose daughter was born with a liver disease that required a transplant when she was about 9. Another friend whose 22 year old son suddenly went into kidney failure, no diagnosed cause. I stretch every day with a co-worker who weighs much less than I do. I work out a lot, she works out more. We both eat close to vegetarian and low fat. Her cholesterol is more than twice mine, she has high blood pressure and diabetes, I have neither. So many health problems are a genetic crap shoot.

Like you, I'd be happy to pay more for decent coverage for everyone. I couldn't agree with your last post more. And, again, I'm sorry I was unaware of your specific situation. It must be heartbreaking.

Posted by: dbG | February 5, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

martooni - Your point is very well taken. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have significant financial worries on top of everything else. But, that said, from what you have described "Little Bean" sounds like someone who makes your life rich indeed. Don't ever take that for granted. Just stay healthy and be good to that little person.

Remember, she'll probably be determining if where you end up has cable or not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I guess this might seem like it is directed at College Parkian, but not really.

Have you read John McGahern? Most especially "The Orpnogragher" (trying not to bring the web orpn surfers here) and, even more especially, "By the Lake" (which had a different title in the UK)? I just get weak in the knees when I read him. So true and limpid and earthy.

I think the flowering of contemporary Irish literature is a lesson for Canada; instead of punishing artists (of any sort), why not make their pitifully small earnings go further (by giving tax breaks) instead of forcing them into a day job?

When I was in University, I laughed heartily at JP Donleavy and his confreres; but Toibin and McGahern and Roddy Doyle and (even though he's not really Irish anymore)Frank McCourt (Somewhat misquoted, sans dout: Your miserable childhood is essential for a writer, but your miserable Irish childhood...) are really on an entirely different plane, artistry-wise.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG, I read that story with interest. I think the solution lies more with good leadership. Would that it were easy to teach and learn that!

Martooni, life insurance is only part of the quarter million. Most of it is state and federal death benefits, payable because he died on duty. Given the circumstances, his death on duty was the best possible outcome. If his condition had been known, he obviously wouldn't have been allowed to ride a fire truck. He would have been miserable and he still would have died. But that doesn't make the economics of the situation better for the family.

You are right, of course, about how generous the benefits are. Take care of yourself, your family needs you.

(BTW, do you have a will?)

Posted by: Slyness | February 5, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Slyness-what a sticky issue. I am in the frozen north in part to help start a charter school that will replace my small hometown's regular public elementary school. Part of me is torn because the money that both the federal government and state are pouring into charters as an "innovation" would go a long way to improving regular public schools. The same can be said for vouchers. On the other hand, children in third grade today need help today not when we finally fix public schools.

If your mother's foundation money were mine to spend, and the rules allowed it, I'd find an exemplary school or one trying to be so. Then I'd give it directly to that school. In my experience the more layers school $ go through, the less that ends up in the classroom where it can make a difference.

yellojkt-the husband has met Kilcullen of your New Yorker link several times.

I won't count Abizaid or other Generals as famous since meeting them in a reception line or at the gym isn't all that.

In my days as a server in a Nashville eatery I waited on Leon Russell as well as a whole slew of country music personages. Bobby Bare, Lynn Anderson, Marie Osmond, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill...if the BBQ sauce hasn't eaten through the autographed placemats I'll have to dig them out and see who else.

The daughter met Taylor Hicks at Panera in Tampa.

Except for a few short, and healthy, years in college I've always been covered by the military medical system. Don't really care that I can't always choose my doctor, and a 6 week wait for some routine things like mammograms is not uncommon. But I've never paid a doctor or pharmacy bill. I wonder just how expensive it would be to give the same level of care to all Americans. Whew, a glass of wine on no sleep does make one fantasize.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 5, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

dbG - No, I am sorry for setting you up. I really didn't mean to! And yes it is heartbreaking sometimes. But even more so it is isolating. A child like this drives a family into seclusion.

I mean, why do you think I hang out here?

But enough! Time to put the rabbits back into their luxurious little habitat, make myself a lovely cuppa tea, and go finish my book on Aristotle.

Tonight, right this minute, life is good.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 5, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

>actor EF and you appear on myspace as a 22 year old male in Turku, Florida

CP, poor fellow. Maybe he's the guy who has I had it and threw it back, my mistake.

Anyway, now he'll be blamed for all my weirdness too. :-)

The problem I have with the health tests re. smoking or whatever is this: Everyone does something that some one else can take as a risk factor. Just living in or near a big city like, oh I don't know, maybe Washington for instance. It's reasonable to charge that person more for smoking and they do. But once you've done that the differential is built-in, and they're equal risk insurance-wise. To say nothing of the argument that they'll die sooner and requires less Social Security and elder care.

Any other approach invites govt. supervision of your diet, exercise or lack thereof, recreation choices (no motorcycling for you!) or other stress factors.

My friend had a heart attack triggered by his wife, but he still doesn't want to leave her.

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 5, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, RDP, you didn't set me up. :-)

I can see how the isolation may work, given my past friends. I know one of them felt she was always taking. I felt her friendship more than made up for anything I did.

I'm glad you hang out here. Quite often, your generosity, intelligence and humorous take on topics and others makes my day.

Posted by: dbG | February 5, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, this is the real crux, isn't it?

Some people eat fast-food, some people drive recklessly, some people smoke, some people don't exercise, some people allow the stress of their jobs or daily life to take them over, some people are alcoholics, some people are depressed, some people are bi-polar, some people have bad joints, or small genetic (inheritances? fragments?) that incline them to a disease and it takes only a small environmental factor to tip them over. Mostly, the effects of any of those show up late; so late that those people have already had children and jobs and a whole life worth celebrating.

So who is to decide who gets coverage and who doesn't? As a good Canadian liberal (and Liberal) inclining toward socialism, I think we all look after each other. No moral high-ground can be taken. Remember Bertrand Russell.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Got chased from the stage at the Berkeley greek theater for taking close up photos of Leon Russell playing the piano. Got released from high school in it think '48 to greet Truman coming to town to dedicate Shasta Dam. Got out ahead of the pack to stand on the corner of the road coming out of Hickham AFB on his way to Vietnam to wave at Johnston and had him wave back at the only two of there and heard him say "howdey' to us from his limo loud speaker. (That night there was a tsunami warning for Hawaii and everyone was supposed to evacuate the low areas but Lyndon and Lady Bird stayed in the Royal Hawaiian on the beach. The explaniation given he was on an upper floor). Got some up close and personal tongue lashing from civil engineer coronals when I had their transfer orders changed from Japan or Thailand to Vietnam. what did I know I was just a lowely civilian acting on my superior's orders, that didn't happen to be present that day). My wife and mother attended a speach given by Kennedy dedicating Whisky Town Damn. I had to work that day. (The post office department wanted to close the Whisky Town post office because it would be flooded by the dam. Kennedy intervened and had it moved to higher ground. Something about his daddy). Got up close to Barbara Bush Nov '84 when she rode up in a utility bucket to place the star on the Eclipse Christmas tree. (had a photo of that but lost now)
Had a discussion with two mounties in Golden, BC on the differences between Califorina law and Canadian law on having a deer rifle visable in the back of my pickup and how the mounties can enter you vehicle when you are not there to look for other suspected stuff.

Posted by: bh | February 5, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see that a few people know who Leon Russell is! He still lives near Nashville, but he's on the road most of the time. He doesn't come to the Pacific NW much - usually in September he plays Seattle and Portland, and various other West Coast places. He'll be in Falls Church, VA on Apr 20 (rumor has it that a certain Seattle boodler will be visiting her sister and attending that show). Aloha, he's going to be in Hawaii in early March:

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Health insurance, like all insurance, has always been about paying out as little as legally possible. Recent regulations have actually improved the situation. It used to be you could not switch jobs if you had a pre-existing conditioning. Now you can't be denied group coverage because of it. COBRA was instituted to cover those between job gaps. It is outrageously expensive, more so than the group rates, which is one of its biggest drawbacks.

The best strategy for a two income family is to leapfrog coverages as people change jobs. Sole breadwinners have it tougher, particularly if new coverage doesn't kick in right away.

The best solution in my mind would be completely portable coverage that gets paid out of employer paid benefit packages. The fed workers have the best and cheapest insurance in the country and guard it jealousy. It balances a basket of required benefits with competitive pricing and enormous economies of scale. I know the fedworkers out there will rebut this, but it is the best value available. Policy wonks often suggest opening it to the uninsured, but that would probably destroy the features that make it work.

I have two term insurance policies. One is enough to pay out my son's college. It expires about when he should get his degree. The other is enough to pay off the mortgage. My wife works and I expect her to be able to meet expenses if she owned the house free and clear.

A guy who used to sell insurance told me life insurance is the toughest sell because the purchaser never gets to use it. "Mr. Smith, your wife's second husband will appreciate your generousity."

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

*Waking up from alcohol stupor*

SoC, oh yeah baby!

Posted by: bill everything | February 5, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

RDP... I'm hoping Little Bean follows the "martooni family way" and is willing (even if not able) to pay for her Da's cable if he lives long enough to make it to a "facility".

To clarify... we're not destitute. And to be honest, I'm actually ahead of the game as far as what I've had to spend for med costs over the years (even recently) versus insurance premiums. But then I've also not gone for regular checkups or other "preventive" medicine because of the out-of-pocket costs. If I had insurance (from my employer or in the "universal" sense), I may have gone for those checkups and been able to nip my current problems in the bud (so to speak) and cut the costs even more.

I'm the last person to expect or demand something for nothing. But medical care... I don't expect it for free, but if preventative care was more affordable, I think I (and many others) would be more apt to use it and would find ourselves in better shape because of it. I think the costs for any serious problems discovered would also be much less since they would be caught much earlier.

As far as I'm concerned, the insurance companies have created an unmanageable beast of their own making by demanding expensive testing for every ailment (from sore throats to cancer), yet they complain that the costs for the same testing require that they raise premiums. Your doctor can no longer take your temperature and ask you about symptoms to diagnose an illness... no... you need to go through a battery of tests and blood work just to find out you have something as common as the flu or hemorrhoids.

The problem with health care (as far as I'm concerned) is not with the providers, but with those who get paid (with private and/or public funds) to make it profitable. What really scares me is that the same insurance companies that fight nearly every single claim from individuals trying to get care are the very same companies that hold the malpractice policies of the doctors diagnosing and treating the very same individuals. Who will always win here?

My conclusion is that as long as we're healthy, the insurance companies love us, but if you have the audacity to get sick (or worse, develop a chronic condition), it's in their interest that you die -- as quickly and quietly and with as few litigious heirs as possible.

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse


Most standardized tests, especially in aggregate, are just proxies for parental gross income. That school article is the best one on that subject I have ever seen. It was the inspiration for my blog post today.

And yes, it is really an excuse to post pictures of Soledad O'Brien and of my son with his sax.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 5, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... I do have a will. That's the root cause of most of my problems. ;-)

Peace out, my friend (and the same to all of you other imaginary-yet-real friends).

Time to turn the imagination on and come up with a new story for Bean.

Posted by: martooni | February 5, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

It's "the boy" as so my mom calls me, just to tell you guys, my real name is Ivan. My mom got "the boy" from a show I was in called Christmas Carol. Some of you may have heard of this play, it was written by Charles Dickens in the 1800s. IF you are not familiar with this story, play, or author, please contact my mom. I have been in many other plays as well, if you would like info on that, do the same as before, contact my mother. This is probably the last time my mother is ever going to write on this blog again, so here she is with the typingness of the keybord and the blog.

[I'm still catching up on today's Boodle - just in mid-afternoon - but the Boy was helping me. He wrote the previous paragraph. It certainly isn't the last time I'll write (or is it...? from the boy) but it will be the last tonight since it is clearly bedtime. Perhaps Boodling is genetic. I can't think of any Kevin Bacon connection yet, though Ivansdad may have one.]

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 5, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

On a more serious note:

Is there any candidate in the 2008 race more reprehensible than Rudy Guiliani?

This guy is literally using 9/11 to further his political career (he has in the past used a video of the events of the day before he speaks at GOP events).

The utter breakdown of communication of the public safety officers trying to deal with the crisis that day should have, in itself, led an honest man to resign from office.

Is anyone taking his candidacy seriously out east?

Posted by: bill everything | February 5, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Hello Ivan.

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I just remembered, another brush with greatness. I once drove Gen. Eric Shinseki in my mini-momvan. Nice guy, great thinker and he was right about Iraq.

Posted by: Aloha | February 5, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Ivan! We know all about you - well, from Ivansmom's point of view, anyway.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Katie Couric called Rudy "America's Mayor" - grrrr. It will be interesting how well he does with Republicans - lots of issues they'll disagree with and lots of personal baggage.

Must stop watching Katie. Must stop boodling (for tonight).

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 5, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Tiny anecdote for Ivan:

I was once a good friend to a woman who had one cat and one bird. They were named "Kitty" and "Birdy." This same person had a boy-child and a girl-child. I was almost surprised they weren't named "Boy" and "Girl."

Posted by: Yoki | February 5, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge, out here in Colorado people wear shorts in frigid weather all the time...with sandals, too --but at least some of them also wear socks and jackets and silly hats. It's a high altitude thing.

Joel--hope you will post your baaaaad information talk--look forward to it.

Posted by: Random Commenter | February 6, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

the degrees of separation thing is kind of funny. unless you have 1-2 degrees and actually know something about the person, it's really not that interesting. my college roommate was casting director for a very successful television show, which makes me 2-3 degrees of separation from half of hollywood.
so what.

nobel prize winners are more interesting, but meeting someone in person briefly is much less interesting than knowing people who actually know the recipients fairly well. for example, my academic advisor was good friends with two of the recipients of the literature prize. my dad worked with robert wilson (physics '78) at bell labs. that's way more interesting than my going to see douglas osheroff (physics '96) during office hours when i was struggling in his "light and heat" course (but cf yellojkt's 5:06! ;-).

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 6, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

back on topic, here's a good pan of the senate's iraq "debate":

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 6, 2007 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ivan!! *waving* :-)

Slyness, you SO right about vouchers. What does that amount to? Abandoning a school based on some skewed standard set by legislators. When you consider that not every child learns at the same pace at the same age (who among us aren't STILL learning???), the idea that you can "force" a school to improve its performance is ridiculous.

*note to self -- stick to silly Boodling until second cuppa coffee*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 3:49 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Niall Ferguson, writing at the Telegraph, imagines the House of Lords transformed into something more elective, and Tony Blair as the Senator from Durham.

Flying from Dulles today, I got to see for the first time the Canadian Shield and some of Alaska, including a look at Fairbanks. Lots of open country up there. Very white.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 6, 2007 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Dave, I hope you waved at us DC Boodlers as you were flying out of Dulles!!! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 4:07 AM | Report abuse

5 degrees here in Southern Maryland.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 6, 2007 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Warning--long post coming. Skip to the last paragraph if you're short on time.

Ten years ago today I received an early morning phone call that irrevocably changed my life. My father had passed away.

He was a man of faith who didn't minister with words, but with actions. Over the years he managed to find a host of people down on their luck and hire them to do odd jobs for him--jobs that either didn't need doing, or could have been done better by someone else. He became a surrogate father to a couple of my friends whose fathers were too distant or too busy to recognize their daughters' need for approval and acceptance. Never having much money to spare, he somehow found a way to make his daughter's "horsey" dreams come true. He then guided her to find others who helped her learn how to care for, ride, and train her treasured beasts. Regrettably, he also weathered the storm of a teenage daughter who didn't always appreciate his kind and gentle nature.

Without a high school diploma himself, there are pictures of him bursting with pride in each of his children's college graduation caps. In his later years, he became "my biggest hero" to a neighbor with MS, running errands, fixing her wheelchair, being a friend. And there was always the volunteer work, for the youth group, the Lions, the school, and anyone else who asked.

Dad was also a story-teller who could talk the arms off a chair. He was a lover of jokes and a butcherer of punch lines. The "ghost of Sheckey" made phrases such as "Mr. Ra-bit is here with the manure" into shorthand humor in my family. His memorial service was punctuated with laughter as person after person related stories such as Dad doing a voodoo dance, sprinkling his recalcitrant truck with "holy water" before a service trip to Appalachia.

My point today isn't to seek sympathy--I simply want to share with you how the ordinary can become extraordinary, particularly with the passage of time. And to ask you to please honor this man you never met by doing something kind for a fellow human being today.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 6, 2007 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Just took my daughter to the bus stop. Noogies frozen off.

I'm normally very well disposed toward you Canuckistanis, but this Alberta Clipper thing you've sent us has seriously damaged our relationship. I'd fire up the umbrage machine, except the oil pan seems to be frozen, the battery won't turn over, and the hatch to the umbragemaker unit is frozen shut. You're just going to have to make do with a very perturbed "Harrrrrumppphhhh" until I can get this thing started.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 6, 2007 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom - that is a very sweet story. It started my day out well.

It has moved beyond darn cold and to what I believe is known technically as "ex girlfriend cold"

and yellojkt- No argument about the quality of Fed insurance. As I've said, it was a major selling point.

Busy day today. Stay warm. Stay healthy. Stay insurable.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 6, 2007 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the insane hatred Albertans feel for anything east of the Great Lakes has metastisized to include you Yanks. All Canadians regret that you have been exposed to the crazy brother's wrath and wish to assure you that steps will be taken. Quiet ones, tippytoeing away.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 6, 2007 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Catching up with the boodle. Frostbitten, I am so sorry about your dog. I have a picture of my childhood best friend near my computer, you never forget or stop loving a great dog. Raysmom, a beautiful tribute to your dad. Mine has been gone for 30 years and I still miss him every day. Getting ready to go to my new temp job. Hoping it will turn into a permanant one but I'm only giving it a few months to do so. Nice company, huge improvement over the last place I temped so far. Wickedly cold here, takes at least 10 minutes to get any real warmth from the car on the way to work. Stay warm all! Good morning Cassandra, glad you're back.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 6, 2007 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom, that's a wonderful post, one would call it required reading if we had such a thing on the Boodle. :-)

Funny thing, it seems easier to type with frozen fingers this morning.

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Raysmom, nice rememberance. I'll look extra hard for a way to be of use to someone today.
Stay warm (ha!), and have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 6, 2007 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the story. It's wonderful how heroic ordinary people are.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 6, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

My resident Albertan has insisted I apologize for accussing Albertans of insane hatred. She very reasonably points out that freezing the people you supply heating oil is not insane, just good business. Freezing, miserable easterners is a happy bonus. (Comma optional)

Posted by: Boko999 | February 6, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom-thanks for the reminder that a life well lived touches so many.

Scotty-woke up to the astronaut story on the radio this morning. At first I thought, "I hope it's not the one astronaut I know"(it wasn't). It did remind me that I knew an astronaut, at least before she became one, and I'm sure she wouldn't remember me. I guess this supports the idea that the rules of separation need refinement.

I signed up for the "Small World Project" last summer and still haven't found a connection to my target person. Perhaps some boodlers have had, or will have, better luck. Try:

Posted by: frostbitten | February 6, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Yipes, it's warmed up. I can assure you 11 below is noticeably warmer than yesterday morning's -25.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 6, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom thanking you for sharing your story on a cold day.

SoC, Yoki and dr you have some explaining to do, can you guys stop breathing so hard out there we are freezing!! :-)

Posted by: dmd | February 6, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

According to the desktop weather icon thingy it is -6F here (not including windchill).

To our Canadian friends: "Hello... your cold air mass seems to have drifted across the border, eh? Please call it back home, eh? Otherwise, our Very Organized and Supremely Efficient Department of Homeland Security will be forced to 'send you up the bomb', eh? End of transmission, eh?"

I'm heading out to start the car and plan to leave it running unattended for a while so it might warm up. If someone steals it, so be it.

Posted by: martooni | February 6, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

This may be of interest to govt. employees or anyone else tired of govt. unaccountability.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 6, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Just stepped outside for a minute to see what the weather is like, and boy, is it cold! I have the g-girl, her dad brought her yesterday, and my daughter is talking, and talking, and I don't know what she's talking about.

Error, it is so good to hear from you. I do hope everything is going well for you. We're so glad you're back. I know I am, I think all of us are.

Slyness, you know my feelings about children and education. I work with children that lack just about everything, most living in poverty, as myself. But they're still children, needing what every child needs, lots of love, and someone to help.

For the lawyers here. I have a friend that just moved here about two weeks ago, and she has a daughter that is in junior high. Well, the daughter was approached by a female classmate, and called the "b" word and shoved. My friend's daughter did not respond to the insult, but the classmate slapped my friend's daughter, and a fight took place. My friend's daughter beat the girl. Just to clarify, one girl is White, the other Black. My friend's daughter was suspended for ten days, and the other girl did not get suspended, and her parents took out a warrant against my friend's daughter, but would not allow my friend to take out a warrant. Also the school has informed my friend that her daughter will not be allowed back in school, she has to go to alternative school. The principal of the school that the conflict took place, pulled my friend's daughter out of class, after the suspension, and told the child that information without parent or adult or anything. My friend met with school officials,second from the top, but was not allowed to meet with the superintendent of the schools.

Now my friend has involved television station in this situation, Slyness your end of the planet, and seeks my help. I'm not crazy about children going to the alternative school, because it's a place that allows school personnel to send children that they don't want to deal with. Yet I am not an advocate of violence in school, particularly in school. I know we have not got beyond the race issue in schools or anywhere else for that matter, but my interest is that this child stay in school. And not just this child, but all children. When they leave school, it throws them in the world too fast, and many times they end up on the streets, not good for them, and certainly not good for us.

And another question, why wasn't the same punishment issued for both girls? And why can't this parent take this to the highest authority of the school system? And what allows one parent to take out a warrent, and not the other parent? I don't have all the facts, and indeed facts are needed in this. Just want to know a little about how to approach this matter.

Just got a phone call, my friend wants me to write a letter for her. I really want to help, but I want my help to be for the child, getting her back in school.

I haven't got my clothes on yet, and the mission work has begun. God is good.

Have a good day my friends. Prayers were uttered this morning, and as always, you my friends, were at the top of the list. May you all come to know that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. Peace.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 6, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom -- simply splendid with my coffee. I'll let your lovely paragraphs be my prayer this morning. Such good writing fits perfectly with what I will now write to Yoki.

(pardon to others if contemporary Irish lit bores or bothers...)

Yes to everything listed, but darling girl, that charming Mr. McCourt is as Irish as peat smoke in December. Scratch much of Canada and the US; you'll find that malachite green.

Here is my Roddy Doyle post: I love it all, but expecially _Paddy Clarke: HA,HA,HA_. Getting children right is a miracle. Or course,the _BarryTown Trilogy_ is fab. Waving to others as you may have seem the movie version of one: The Commitments.

_Star for Henry_ is a personal fave since the heroine is simply darlin' and sports my very own grand surname. Never is her front name revealed. _Henry_ can only be understood as magical realism. I was invited to a book club to help explain the Irish history thing, 'specially about the bleak and brute Civil War AFTER Independence. Thankfully, this bloodbath was rather brief as such can go. By the way,this conflict was totally intramural, RC thugs on RC families. The more things change the more they stay the same.....

Yoki, Neil Jordan the film maker, is writing now. I read two haunting books by him this summer. I'll rustle up the titles.

ON TOPIC Close: I love JA's sentences about John Warner....could anyone look more senatorial? Remember his brief marriage with the Violet-eyed, magnificant bosomy Liz Taylor?

Did I imagine that?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 6, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot, when young, much younger, I got hit on by Muddy Waters, does that count?

And today Barry Saunders will speak at Sandhills Community College. Saunders is a columnist for the Raleigh News and Observer. Good writer. I want to go, but cannot. Maybe one day.*sigh*

Morning, Mudge, Bad Sneakers, Slyness, and everybody. *waving* Thanks Yoki.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 6, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Morning Cassandra! *waving*

I don't even play a lawyer on TV, but from where I sit, exposing all the facts as fully as possible would seem to be the best way to get everyone equal treatment. Unfortunately, "the new kid" rarely gets the benefit of the doubt in these cases. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Holy guano, Batman! Dr. Freeze must be on the loose!

Defroster is on full blast while I hang out in the kitchen and "fortify" myself with a glass or two of wine purchased by the gallon, chased with a mug of Irished Folgers. And I'm now late for work.

Posted by: martooni | February 6, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Yoki -- you asked about John McGahern...yes, and he is terribly important to Colm Toibin. But so much of J MCG is very dark. Brutal forces within families, especially against a hard economic backdrop: I limit my reading of thus, movies too, because....well...need more light and air than that.

Filmy note for others. Yoki may agree with me on this one. Hallmark Theater --or what ever that sacharine production company is called -- make Toibin's book _The Blackwater Lighthouse_ into a fine, fine, fine movie. Delicate yet true as steel girders: a gay man comes home to his gran's crumbling summer cottage to die. This is the first news three generations of excellant but brittle women have of 1) his gayness and 2) AIDs at the end stages. Does this lower the mood, yes, but the glimmer of unexpected humanity is gorgeous. Funny stuff in there too.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 6, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Alcohol is not recommended when going out in the extreme cold. In the morning. In your car.

Posted by: BoozyCanadian999 | February 6, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

To Cassandra: the Muddy Waters moment you mention, in my book, wins the "Connected to Greatness" Contest running here.

Reasons: 1) he approached you. 2) your connection is direct without intermediate dots. 3) BLUES RULES and MUDDY WATERS is a GOD in the pantheon of blues me (and women).

I envy you, Cassandra, without any meanness!

Slyness and Cassandra: you have shared interests in the work of the civil rights math teacher Robert Moses and his Algebra Project:

Why does an English professor shill about math so much? Because a lack of math skills (note, not ABILITY) keeps poor children of any color out of higher ed more than any other force besides money. Further, the inability to pass a basic math class in college keeps people once there, from hurts here too.

So, Slyness, have your brother check this out. I may be bold here, but his interest in vouchers may incline him to see the "hard work and personal responsibility" angle key in the Algebra Project.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 6, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh jeez, Cassandra. I hope your friend will continue to stand up for her child against the educational establishment. I wish the girl had gone to a teacher after the first shove and asked for protection; nobody may have believed her, but at least she would have had a witness.

Posted by: Slyness | February 6, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Robin Givhan weighs in on the fall collection:

What fashion needs is a lesson in how to boo.

I love that woman! She has her head on straight.

Thanks for the link, CP. I will definitely check it out.

Posted by: Slyness | February 6, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

CP is right, Cassandra's connection to Muddy Waters trumps everything.

And right again about the importance of math skills.

In the US we track students in a particularly dishonest way. Because of scheduling practices, middle schoolers who take Algebra in 8th grade will find themselves spending the entire day with the highest achieving, best behaved, students in their school. It may even be impossible for a student not registered in Algebra to take a foreign language for high school credit as the demand to take Algebra/Foreign language, and the test score/teacher recommendations to do so overlap for so many kids. What school system can afford to offer Algebra or a Language to all 8th graders? (The question should be "What nation can afford not to?")

Do you have to be among the highest achieving and best behaved to succeed at Algebra in the 8th grade? No. So why do only these kids take Algebra I before high school? Part of it is a lack of preparation, but I believe most of it has to do with parents not knowing the profound advantage taking Algebra in 8th grade presents. Parents need to know that choosing Algebra in 8th grade puts a student on track to be exposed to the most effective teachers with the highest expectations, and to be in a peer group that supports achievement.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 6, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Cassandra, nice to see you jw, you olde-tymer and Error Flynn.

Raysmom, that was really nice. Somewhere, I think you just made your Dad's day (and some folks in here, too).

College Parkian, I once hung out at an airport terminal with Bo Diddley (after having seen him play the night before), sang "Who do You Love" and a couple of other songs a capella with him and a some guys working the terminal just to pass the time. Nice guy, helluva hat.

Also hung out with John Lee Hooker (my personal blues god) before one of his shows, bought him the ladies he was with a couple of rounds of drinks (just scotch, no bourbon or beer IIRC). I felt 99% cooler just sitting at the bar with him.


Posted by: bc | February 6, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I think you may be extrapolating the "tracking" done in your own school district to the nation as a whole. I have an 8th grader currently taking Algebra 1, and I know several of her friends who are taking "regular" math this year. All of these kids take a language. The whole middle school is arranged with the whole grade taking the 4 core classes during the first 4 hours (3 different math classes that they're distributed into) and then all their elective courses, including language, the other 4 hours of the day. So everyone can take anything in this school district. The 7th graders take their core classes at the end of the day, so the electives teachers work with them in the morning.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 6, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Oops, oops oops. That 9:08 was FROM Wheezy, and was to be ADDRESSED to Raysmom.

Posted by: Wheezy | February 6, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Unless Bo Diddley hit on you, bc, I think Cassandra has you beat.

Muddy versus Bo...hmmm. I think she's got you anyway, dude, even if Bo DID hit on you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 6, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry - it was to Frostbitten. I'm sick and not awake yet.

Slinking away.

Posted by: Wheezy | February 6, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I should have added that I can neither confirm or deny any advances, suggestions, comments, gesturing, good/bad touches, leering, folding, spindling, or mutilating, fondling, rubbing, groping, interpretive dance, grasping, miming, or tickling either appropriately or inappropriately made by myself or Misters Diddley or Hooker with regards to my 9:05 AM comment.

Thank you for your consideration.


Posted by: bc | February 6, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Cheers, Frostbitten, but the secret untold story here is also fact facts, fractions, and the wondrous oneness of fractions.

You cannot DO algebra without fractions, you cannot DO fractions without your multiplication/division facts down fairly cold. This justice-threshold starts in fourth grade.

As much as I like the National Council of the Teachers of Mathmatics, I CAN"T BELIEVE they don't push drill and practice on these math facts. Parents who KNOW that drill and rote work works for this either 1) do it at home or 2) purchase this skill at Sylvan or Kuman centers.

Math literacy requires a combination of rote work plus wonder.

Your question of how can we NOT afford to do this for all our children is right.

But justice is a slippery quality and I am beginning to believe we do not have the will or character to really do this.

Slyness: math is key. And bless you and your brother for doing this rather than indulging in your favorite luxury item. (Not meant as a criticism of anyone here or anywhere....)

Cassandra: save those darling children in your care one math fact at a time.

Not on topic but on point, I guess.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 6, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Wheezy, Grade 8 students can take electives there?

Posted by: dmd | February 6, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Could we puhleeuzz have some more global warming? Until July at least?

I know, the polar bears will die and New York will be 6 feet under water. I am OK with that this morning.

Posted by: Steve-2 | February 6, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the Goulet ad for the Superbowl has several Canadian aspects (we are sneaky I tell you!).

Posted by: dmd | February 6, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

SCC: MATH facts although some mathey-dudes I know may agree that these beauties are fact-facts. I do not personally know a mathey-chick but I know they are out there.

Cassandra, your older students, say middle school, may enjoy the Friday night crime drama called NUMBERS. Math is very cool here and essential. And, they feature a South Asian female astrophysics-math chick who is smart and beautiful and kind.

I am done for the moment, but the BC business about blues advances imagined or real is quite fun.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 6, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

No, CP, the credit belongs to our mother, who was persuaded to set up the foundation. She stipulated that half of the profit go to Habitat for Humanity, a quarter to the Salvation Army, and that the final quarter is up to us. It's not a whole lot of money, and we get a nice little check for being the trustees, but I do want our money to be spent wisely, not on anything inane like school vouchers. Gotta love the US tax code.

Posted by: Slyness | February 6, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

(looking VERY carefully at what she is doing): dmd, yeah, they get to choose what KIND of music they take, WHICH language to take, etc. Some kids take NO music or language, and they get to take more drama, gym, comp sci, graphics, industrial tech, etc. They have to take 4 years of language in their whole 8 years after grade school, though. My kids get to choose one semester course each year, since I insist they take a language and music. One semester of gym is required, the other optional.

Posted by: Wheezy | February 6, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Where's mo been, anyway?


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: Scottynuke | February 6, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom-I'll plead guilty to making a sweeping generalization, but I'm sorry to say I think your school system is the exception. While my personal experience is from teaching in schools in a half dozen states, I still wouldn't smear the entire nation based on just schools in which I've taught. I make my sweeping generalization based on research on teaching children living in poverty, including the Algebra Project. Your child's regular math taking peers are fortunate indeed to have a full choice of electives.

In the rural area where I am now living 2 of the closest 3 middle schools have no foreign language classes for any 8th graders. Taking Algebra I is possible, but doesn't often happen. Ironically, Algebra will be required for all 8th graders in MN by 2010. It will be interesting to see if it has the desired effect. Despite repeated disappointment at educational innovation, I live in hope.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 6, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Here in Howard County where every child is gifted and talented, part of my wife's job is to recommend or place the fifth graders into the appropriate tracks in middle school. The most important placement is math since you can always back off a level, but it is hard to accelerate once you are in a progression. Other than the Super Secret Math Program I boodled about before, the most advanced middle school track is 6th-Pre-Algebra, 7th-Algebra, 8th-Geometry. That puts you on track for Calculus in 11th grade, which is a year faster than most school systems that teach calculus.

My wife starts her elementary school pre-pre-algebra sequence in 4th grade and continues it through 5th grade. Parents are always asking how to help their kids do well once they get into her class. Her response is multiplication drills. Having to stop and recall a multiplication fact just wrecks all your problem solving momentum. Parents should make sure their kids know all the facts up to 12 x 12 instantly. Knowing squares up to 20 x 20 is also valuable.

I'm going to repost in the new kit as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 6, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Could someone post the link to Yoki's Kitchen? I searched back boodles but couldn't find it.
I looked, honest.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 15, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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