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Very Large Experiment Goes Boom

This weekend I'm in Jacksonville at the April Meeting of the American Physical Society. The April Meeting is an annual event, known commonly as "the April Meeting." There's also a March Meeting. That's known as "the March Meeting." I'm not exactly sure what the difference is betwixt the meetings, but I think the April Meeting involves stuff I couldn't understand in a billion years and the March involves stuff I couldn't understand in a trillion.

The main thing I need to do this trip is find out if particle physics is an exact science. That had been my presumption until now. But the other day they had a mishap at CERN, down in the tunnel where the're piecing together a contraption called the Large Hadron Collider. I went to see the LHC last summer, went down in the tunnel, and tried not to break anything. Tried not to drop my cellphone on a detector designed to register the breeze of a fleeting muon. The LHC is costing something like $10 billion to build. The idea is to smash together particles and see what happens. Probe the fundamental mysteries of the universe and all that jazz.

Unfortunately the other day they did a test on one of their magnets and something went awry. I need to find out what exactly happened. But basically it sounds like they plugged it in and it exploded.

Moreover it sounds like the cause of the problem was a basic miscalculation of forces. Like: They only added up the numbers on the X axis and not on the Y. Failed to convert to Metric. Forgot to carry the 2.

Or maybe it was that dang European voltage. Who can keep 220 and 110 straight. And the outlets have weird numbers of holes. Half my trip to CERN was spent searching for an adapter.

The people at Fermilab, near Chicago, are embarrassed, because they built the magnet that went boom. Read what the director, Pier Oddone, wrote the other day:

'Last Tuesday we took a pratfall on the world stage: the high pressure test of the Fermilab-built inner triplet failed dramatically in the LHC tunnel with a loud "bang" and a cloud of dust.

'What the analysis shows so far is that something extraordinarily simple was missed in the design: the obvious imbalance of axial forces that can occur under the conditions represented by the test or by a quench in the LHC. We do many very complex engineering projects successfully that require sophisticated engineering skills and advanced computing tools. We test the complex features we design thoroughly. In this case we are dumbfounded that we missed some very simple balance of forces. Not only was it missed in the engineering design but also in the four engineering reviews carried out between 1998 and 2002 before launching the construction of the magnets. Furthermore even though every magnet was thoroughly tested individually, they were never tested with the exact configuration that they would have when installed at CERN--thus missing the opportunity to discover the problem sooner.

'It is very important for our institution that while we are on the world stage we also demonstrate how we deal with adversity.

'...Beyond the immediate fix we must reflect on how we got into this mess. To have the benefit of independent eyes we will have an external review of the events that transpired from the beginning of the design. We need and want to make sure that we find the root causes of the problem and from the lessons learned build a stronger institution. Beyond that, there is no substitute for the commitment each of us makes to excellence, to critical thinking and to sweating every detail.'

More technical stuff here.

' The specifications for the magnet designate 20 atmospheres as the design pressure criterion and 25 atmospheres as the acceptance test criterion. However, computer-aided engineering calculations completed independently by Fermilab and CERN on March 28 show that the G-11 support structure in the magnets was inadequate to withstand the associated longitudinal forces. CERN and Fermilab now know that this is an intrinsic design flaw that must be addressed in all triplet magnets assembled at Fermilab.

'Review of engineering design documentation reveals that the longitudinal force generated by asymmetric loading was not included in the engineering design or identified as an issue in the four design reviews that were carried out.'

Dang longitudinal force. Gets you ever time.

But maybe there's no such thing as an exact science.

Anyway, I'm on the job here in what once called itself The Bold New City of the South.

(I may have to make a side trip to Hogtown. See the ol' homestead. Argue once again for bulldozing the place and putting up something modern. "Bossy" is an adjective that gets thrown my way. But there's a market there for efficient executive decision making. Long story. Tensing up as I think about it.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 14, 2007; 12:23 PM ET
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Next: Physicists Gone Wild


I'm out of pocket for a few days, and I miss everything! And then I stop on by for a quick peek, and JAs written about the importance of knowing which equation to use when. My abilities at equations is roughly along the lines of this.
But it sounds like someone at Fermilab is right there with me.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is that it gives me some comfort to know that even really smart people can do really stupid things. Like forget to carry the 2.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 14, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Is tensing the same as clenching?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 14, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse


I couldn't stay on topic if I wanted to! As Peter Sellers once said, in the persona of a working-class woman from Fulham who had had a visit from royalty, "The Prince of Wales stopped to by to say a couple of words. I could not understand either of them."

Posted by: Yoki | April 14, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten mentioned the Kurt Vonnegut piece on Now - here's a link. It has a link to the 25 minute interview in 2005, as well as other links to his writing, reviews, etc:

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 14, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's a big mystery how this happened. The original engineers got a little sloppy, and then the reviewers just glossed over it.

This happens sometimes in complex systems. You spend so much time looking for the tricky problem that you miss the easy one.

It's like reading a translation of a German philosopher to check that all of the nuances of meaning have been preserved - and then missing a typo.

Granted, in this case it was an exceedingly unfortunate typo.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 14, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

RD writes: "It's like reading a translation of a German philosopher to check that all of the nuances of meaning have been preserved - and then missing a typo."

Been there; Done that. Poor German thinker-sot was Kant and the passage was a chapter from _The Categorical Imperative_. Much gnashing of teeth ensued. Easier to mess up in Danish on the bizarre but somehow Vonnegutian-writer Kierkegaard. But who knows enough Danish to ferret your mistake out anyway.

If that last line followed the German pattern it would read something like

your mistake to anyway out-ferret.


Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"very complex engineering projects ... that require sophisticated engineering skills and advanced computing tools"

"external review"

"root causes"

Wha' happn'? How did I jump right over the weekend? It's Monday morning and I'm back in the office?????

*carefully examining the room to find the wormhole that cost me most of Saturday and all Sunday*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 14, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I was just thinkin' the same thing Scottynuke. In fact, Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent at a TEM (Technical Evaluation
Meeting) assessing the progress of a complex system I am involved with.

Perhaps, just to be sure, I will suggest they re-check those Longitudinal Forces.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 14, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I really liked that "exact science" link. It's sort of like Global Warming. Not to open the door to spurious controversy, but the conclusions being made are clearly based upon a preponderance of evidence and not mathematical deduction. Which is why some people are criticizing the use of numerical confidence levels in GW reports.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 14, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget those darn Latitudal forces too, RD.

Joel--It ain't no exact universe, so there's no exact science anyhow.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

When Joel works on his book, maybe he should come up with the title first and just try and do a book that fits somehow.

I'm sure Joel could have done a LOT with this title:

"People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About it."

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I found some Diagram prize entries/winners from 2003-2005.

Shame there's no central Diagram prize site like there are for that prize for awful writing or the IgNobels.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Any movie fan would've known what to do:

Reverse the polarity.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 14, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the IgNobels, a video enacting the historical moment of Mudge having to teach people about his new invention-- books-- is posted on the IgNobel website.

Enjoy some laughs. Supercolliders may collide with reality and blow up, but wackiness endures.

And if men've been wondering why they get facial hair,acne, scanty or no periods, and can't seem to get pregnant-- a researcher has the answer-- polycystic ovary syndrome.

And good news for Pat in Texas! He'll have a fighting chance to shoot Cheney before he gets shot himself, if he has somebody to second him, and it's all legal now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I want to go smell this Stasi museum. I don't know why Wilbrod is violently against the idea, though. What's a little plane ride?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 14, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I am unfamiliar with longitudinal forces and reverse polarity, but am very conversant in tensing when close to home.

LiT - loved that stab at working out the equation.

Posted by: Kim | April 14, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Error, that's if you're busting ghosts. What about zombies, vampires, ghouls?
I guess if you have a pole-sized stake you could just reverse the polarity on that for the vampires, too.

But what do you do when you hear "braaaainnnsssss braaaaaiiinnssss?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I wondered if Joel would have to go when this first came out in the news. It also made me think of this:

Profesional engineers wear small metal rings on their pinky as a reminder of this. The analysis of bridge failures says in the final section,

"Computer modelling and analysis, however, can have its pitfalls. "It can give you a false sense of security," says Professor Emory Kemp, who heads the Program of the History of Science and Technology at West Virginia University. "With computers you can end up working along the fine edge of safety, and there may be those one or two key factors you haven't thought of." Or to paraphrase a data processing maxim: Bridge failure in, bridge failure out."

Posted by: dr | April 14, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

>I guess if you have a pole-sized stake

Thanks for noticing.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 14, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Kim, I always hoped for science/math instructors who gave credit for *any* sign of effort, and maybe a few points for making them laugh while grading a stack of papers.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I just had a wierd coincidence happen, I went grocery shopping a normal Saturday experience as I drove up I noticed a man outside playing the fiddle. I have lived in this town about 38 years and have never seen this before, as well known as the Wash. Post is I am not sure how many readers it has here, I made sure I took a leisurely stroll to and from my car to listen and enjoy the music (East coast Folk/Celtic).

Posted by: dmd | April 14, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

LiT I once had a biology teacher laugh out loud at my diagram of the heart that I drew on my mid-term, sadly it was in the middle of the exam - not exactly a confidence booster.

Posted by: dmd | April 14, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Catching up from yesterday's boodle:

Speaking of curling... A year or so ago I was in England and on Saturday it rained so I didn't go out touristing but watched TV. I was expecting some top soccer, but that seemed to be on pay channels not available in the hotel, so I spent a couple of hours with BBC and a top bowls tournament. That seemed to be like curling thawed out. Not fast and brutal like Rollerball, but pretty interesting. I played amateur baseball for decades and don't mind a game with built-in pauses -- cricket, like long, drawn-out baseball, is a favorite of mine.

Regarding Mudge's comments on Chafets' article on Jackie Robinson. For years I played a lot of center field, and proudly wore #24, Willie Mays' number, because I thought he was the greatest player I ever saw. He didn't hit as many home runs as some, but he hit a lot of 'em, and he could do everything else. Some teammates thought my choice of number was a bit odd because I have blue eyes.

As for M's remark that Bonds isn't a team player, well, baseball isn't a team game, so it may not matter. There are multiple people out on the field, but they make their plays individually and can't help each other out, unlike more fluid games like basketball and soccer. The exception would be the pitcher & catcher who work as a pair. It matters more that Bonds is a jerk and a cheat than that he's not a team player.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 14, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, well, a pointy head topic. A chemistry experiment gone awry? Is this the thinking here? There aren't any chemicals involved in this, right? Oh, okay this is more in line with atomic weapons, blowing up stuff? I mean the science is in that category, right?

I'm never going to get this. Although I don't understand it, the concept of blowing up something intrigues me.

It looks like we're in for some nasty weather tonight, early morning. I hope it does calm down some before reaching this area. Slyness, what's it like in your neck of the woods?

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 14, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

My husband loves to repeat the line so often heard in documentaries and other educations forums...

"Scientists don't know."

Posted by: TBG | April 14, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

TBG...that seems to imply that the rest of us do, no?

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Never try to force a round head to contemplate pointy-headed topic like this. Remember the "this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs" commercial? Same difference.

Posted by: martooni | April 14, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra. So far the storms have passed us by. We'll see what happens in the night. Our forecast is for thunderstorms, heavy rain, and chance of tornadoes between midnight and daybreak.

Rain I don't mind, we need it. Tornadoes I can do without.

Posted by: Slyness | April 14, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

This just in, a couple of hours ago Don Ho passed away from a heart attack. No more "tiny bubbles". :o(

Posted by: Aloha | April 14, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, what I'm visualizing is internally, when all magnets were powered up, the one in the middle snapped and half of it accelerated to one magnet and the other accelerated the opposite direction to the other magnet-- more like it was ripped apart than exploded...

Although I'm sure some explosion occured due to the voltage inside the magnet, too.

I'm probably dead wrong, but it amuses me to think they overlooked something that simple.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, we had a similar explosion in our basement today...

We heard a loud BOOM! Upon investigating, Son of G discovered the bottle of ginger ale he was concocting had blown out a hole in the bottom of the plastic juice bottle, forcing the bottle's remains to bounce around the basement, spraying "ginger ale" all over the place (cap still intact).

I always figured something would happen if he didn't properly carry the 2.

Posted by: TBG | April 14, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, love the comparison. Night, all.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 14, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, you made me laugh because I don't understand this stuff either. But I don't really like the idea of things blowing up, except for fireworks, of course.

We're scheduled to get the storm tomorrow and Monday. For a while they were talking about the possibility of cancelling the Boston Marathon on Monday as the idea of runners drowning along the route, although a great news story, was considered to be unacceptable. Besides, the race brings about $50 million into Boston so they'd run it if they had to shovel a 26 mile long pathway through snow to the finish line. It will be interesting to see the winning times. If the winds are strong and out of the east, they won't be recording breaking, that's for sure.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | April 14, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching "United 93" on HBO--never seen it before--and I swear I am riveted to my chair.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 14, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize April 16 was a DC holiday - Emancipation Day - and that's why the federal tax deadline is April 17:,,id=167194,00.html

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 14, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

LiT... that wonderful elephant picture looked familiar. A friend had sent me some of those "real test answers."

You can see them here...

Posted by: TBG | April 14, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I like the "I would just inspect the kitty's genitals" answer to the identification of gender by fur color.

It was a poorly phrased question; calico males do exist but they tend to be XXY and thus infertile even if they're intact and handsome (and v-free) toms.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Instead, my own diabolical question would have been:

"When you breed two calico cats together, what colors may the kittens be?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 14, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Some info on Kurt "Sport" Vonnegut:

Hard to reconcile such a homespun nickname to him.

Posted by: bill everything | April 14, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

LiT, that elephant diagram is *still* snortworthy. And TBG, liked your follow-up. And to the both of you I say, if you think you know, you're probably wrong.

Joel, RD, I agree that Cosmic Variance "What I Believe" is a keeper. I wonder if that'll turn up on NPR on a Monday morning soon?

It's kind of a shame that Ho passed away.
If Imus were still on the air, he could do some enlightening commentary regarding Ho's hair.

On the topic of computer glitches, I notice that NASA's Mars Global Surveyor fell victim to some computer glitches. Glitches caused by human error, from the sound of it.

Regarding the CERN LHC magnet mishap, one thing I've found in years of engineering fairly complex stuff like racing cars myself is that computer models are very good tools, but are no substitute for real-world testing of complete assemblies (or sub-assemblies) when they're ready. Reality never seems to go exactly like the computer models, though the models are good for helping you understand *why* things went wrong, er, I mean, things went the way they did.

Unforseen interactions, indeed.


Posted by: bc | April 14, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, having had a couple of (very) fertile female calicos long years ago, and trying to explain the facts of their coloration to small children, and the colors of the kittens, your

"When you breed two calico cats together, what colors may the kittens be?"

made me really laugh. Excellent.

Posted by: nellie | April 14, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

U,S.-built part in Swiss supercollider (world's largest and most expensive $1.8B) causes March 27 boom and embarrassment:

Bang bang, Fermilab shot Swiss physics down
Bang bang, the 43-foot magnet hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, our design reviews brought CERN down.

Posted by: Loomis | April 14, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Bob Dole promises no witch hunt on Walter Reed. I think a witch hunt might just be in order. Can't figure out why he'd say that but maybe I'm just a dumb hoosier.

Posted by: bill everything | April 14, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Is it me, or is it a little weird to not see a Rough Draft this week?


Posted by: bc | April 14, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

TBG that is hysterical. Thanks for the laugh. (And yes, I think each deserves some partial credit.)

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

RD: about proofreading.

It's impossible to proofread and edit for meaning at the same time. You need to do it in separate courses, separated by sherbet, a long walk, or a night.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 14, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

While most of my engineering professors gave generous partial credit and graded on the curve, one in particular gave none. He used to say, "In the real world, no one pays you have if only part of the bridge collapses."

No engineer gets out of college without seeing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure at least once.

We have had a lot of well publicized engineering "Oops!" lately. The Hubble telescope error was just one.

And the real problem with European power is not the 220 volts. You can transform voltage into whatever you need. It's the 50hz. Plays all kind of heck with the synchronous motor speeds.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2007 12:31 AM | Report abuse

So it makes for a world full of hertz?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 15, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Happy Tax Day (& Jackie Robinson Day) all!

Posted by: Bob S. | April 15, 2007 5:33 AM | Report abuse

bc, it's not just you.

*Flipping through the Outlook section; finding no consolation there*

Sunday is not the same without Rough Draft, but it was very nice of Joel to show up yesterday, in the midst of major travel (here, there, somewhere else, thank goodness for his sense of direction or he might never get back home). He had to know that we'd be needing a fix here.


I suggest that we all celebrate Emancipation Day by meditating on our civil liberties and resolving not to take them for granted.

(mostlylurking: the holiday was news to me, too--just learned about it this morning, about 10 minuntes before I read your comment.)

Posted by: kbertocci | April 15, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is wet here, and more rain predicted for the day. Real humid, too. I went outside and it feels really, really, sticky. I guess we may get a thunder boomer.

Time to jump in the shower, Sunday school and service calls. The body feels like it has been thrown on concrete this morning.

In the local paper, a gentleman wrote that he really appreciated the boldness of President Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He states that these wars are necessary because the people of these countries hate the American way of life. And that anyone that disagrees with this must want Saddam and his sons back in rule. And he threw in Iran as a possible number three.

Since I know absolutely nothing about foreign policy and war, I thought about it on a different level. Using this gentleman's thinking, I thought, suppose I use this analogy for the people that don't like me, for whatever reason, and just decide to eliminate them before they do it to me? Would that be okay? Is that the same thing? I am thinking because it is other countries, does that make my thinking wrong? Is it the same thing, that's what I would like to know? I mean at some point this stuff does get personal, doesn't it? If you have a great life, everything you want and need, and my life is struggle after struggle, and needs every thing, because I want your life, and I'm willing to hurt you for it, is it okay for you to eliminate me and everyone else you perceive to be jealous of you? Does this make sense? The Bible states men go to war because one has something the other wants, and decides to take it.

I don't want to think that much this morning, my body hurts and so does every thing else.

Have a good day, my friends. I hope the weather isn't too bad where you live, and that you can get out. Slyness, I slept through most of it.

Martooni, hang in there, the other side really is nice. Prayer works.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 15, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Hi Cassandra, I say this with fingers crossed....not so bad weatherwise thus far, here. Lots of soaking ran and my sump pump is behaving quite well. Today the dogwood blossoms are full size and such a creamy white, tinged with green. I have some "lady" tulips -- tiny, and in two color patterns: white with red, giving a candy-stripe effect; and soft red with dusky yellow, similarly jaunty.

Mudge, I opened up _Iowa Baseball Confederacy_ last night and promptly fell into Johnson Co. Iowa, baseball, obsessions, and Indian lore....Kinsella is great.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 15, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Yello, the professors of those engineers involved in the construction of this bridge were probably as stingy with grades as your professor.

Posted by: rain forest | April 15, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, all. I guess that the Fermilab crowd forgot the old meassure twice, calculate once axiom. Don't we all. Operating those magnets at 20-25 atm. (~600-750psi?, assuming I remember correctly that 1 atm. ~30psi)would cause quite a boom upon catastrophic failure.

Phase two of the room swap is complete. A guest bedroom is where the family/tv room used to be. Now to pull the other rabbit out of my hat and transform the former bedroom into the family/tv room.

Posted by: jack | April 15, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

The bit about bridges reminds me of someone a professor once taught me.

Sometimes during tests I would get an answer that I knew was wrong but lacked the time to fix it. I found that if I made a note on the test stating that my answer was wrong, and why, he would give me a few of the points.

He said that it is okay to get the wrong answer - so long as you know that it is wrong. It's when you get a wrong answer and think that it's right that bridges fall down.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, folks.
To CP's point, we've had a heavy rain all night, but everything seems to be OK.

Going to curl up with a cup of coffee and peruse the WaPo (without Joel, *snif*), maybe do a little work.

Cassandra, I hope you have a good day and are well. I think your take on that letter in the paper is reasonable - how far do you take the "get them before they can get us" strategy? How many countries and people would *that really be? Sheesh.

martooni, I hope you're well, too, wherever you are.

Wilbrod, love hertz.


Posted by: bc | April 15, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all...

It's a wet and gloomy looking day here in Ohio -- and cold, too (34F). Weather like this makes me think of the moors in Wuthering Heights.

Cassandra... I'm still hangin' in -- 19 down and today will make 20 (Higher Power willing).

Finished up my first Handy Hippie job yesterday -- boarded up a house -- and have a small interior painting and insulation job lined up for this afternoon. My ad is supposed to run again today, so hopefully my cell will be ringing off the hook (or whatever they call it these days).

Slightly on topic... Little Bean and I had some fun with a couple of magnets last night. First we went around the house identifying which metal objects had iron in them, then we did the magical pushing of one magnet with the other without letting them touch. No bangs, but lots of giggling.

Gotta run... Handy Hippie gots work to do.

Peace out, my friends...

Posted by: martooni | April 15, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

SCC: something not someone. (Should have stopped and had a sorbet first as DoftC wisely points out)

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Rough-Draftless Boodle.

Why does the WaPo home page show a picture of polar bears with the caption, "Military Sharpens Focus on Climate Change"? Are we drafting cute polar bear cubs now? And the deck says: "The Bush administration argues that drilling and wildlife preservation can go hand in hand." Which does indeed refer to said ursines, but neglects the miltary aspect.

(Of course, the whole proposition that the Arbusto administration is competant enough to drill in the ANBR while preserving wildlife is laughable on its face.)

Anybody besides me held their nose and read Gonzo's op-ed piece about what a great job he thinks he's doing? How many outright lies did you count? I ran out of fingers.

George Will has a pretty decent column--but then he's writing about basbeball and Jackie Robinson, so that explains it.

I think everyone ought to read the "Chaotic Day Leaves Questions" story at . I think it's important less for the story of the one or two specific abuses it reports than for the background information and the context of it probably being a pattern. In it one learns there are 20,000 "security contractors" we've hired in Iraq, mostly former U.S. military. In my view this was done purely to reduce the ostensible number of troops over there--so instead of 130,000 (or whatever), we actually have 150,000--it's just that 20,000 are hidden from view.

One also learns these people are paid as much as $600 and $700 a day (if they are U.S. citizens) and $70 a day (if they are foreign nationals such as the guy from Fiji). And that they operate under "Las Vegas" rules: what goes on in Iraq stays in Iraq. And that some proportion of them (I'm trying not to brand them "all") are pretty much out of control. One wonders how Petraeus, McMaster and Kilcullen can start using their philosophical approach to Iraq when they have 20,000 contractors running around loose and undermining everything Petraeus is trying to do.

The architects of this disaster, of course, are Bremer and Cheney et al., under the admirable leadership of Arbusto. Someday a book needs to be written about these 20,000, and I suspect it will turn our stomachs.

OK. Surely there's some food and coffee in this house, no? And I just may have to cook something for dinner this afternoon. I'll fax the leftovers to any of you folks who want some. (If there are any leftovers.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 15, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Dogwood blossoms are absolutely beautiful, CP. Over here not many trees have beautiful flowers like what you have. For most trees, their flowers are usually small and their colours are not striking. Trees and grass here are green all year round. We take the greenery for granted because they are always there and they are everywhere.

Posted by: rain forest | April 15, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Nasty weather here in West By God. My normal 50 minute drive home took twice that. Small creeks are raging rivers. There is debris washed on the roads everywhere. I had to get out and remove stuff out of the road to get by. Another 1-2 inches is expected today,then maybe changing to snow......Yuk I say....Yuk.

Stay home, stay warm and dry.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 15, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

CP-I'm picturing Kaufmanniana tulips. Jaunty is the best word to describe them. We have moss coming to life and pussy willows with their soft promise that something green will be here soon. In the meantime,we have mud.

Cassandra-You appear to know more about foreign policy than both the letter writer and the pres.

This week is the 10th anniversary of the big flood in Grand Forks, ND. Until Katrina it was the largest mandatory evacuation in US History (so says local radio anyway.) I was in NoVA at the time but XFrostspouse called from Fargo to let me know the Grand Forks Herald was on fire so I would not learn of it first through television news. In college I trudged to the Herald every Friday and Saturday night for two years to take phone calls from high school kids calling in box scores and highlights from their games. I was alone in the newsroom waiting for someone far more imporatant than I to call in a story on the UND hockey game when the bells from the wire service sounded with reports of Congressman Leo Ryan's death and little bits of breaking news from Jonestown continued all night. My only contribution to the next day's front page was running down the stairs to the press room to find the night news editor but it was every bit as exciting as the news was tragic.

It's easy for me to say since I didn't lose anything but a nostalgic landmark in the flood, but Grand Forks appears to be better for having a fresh start.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-the contractor abuses to which you refer are just evidence of a deep moral bankruptcy that sickens much of the career officer corps. Frostdottir could evade much of Mr. F's scrutiny, and parental direction, if she could find a way to work Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld into more conversations. Once he was sputtering and fuming she could make a quick escape with the car keys.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Weirdness! Why does my 8:24 post contain part of somebody else's post?

Rain Forest -- Stop, you are ruining my vision of your tropical and floribundant paradise! Tell us more about your flora and fauna. We know that monkeys may not be a blessing....

Frosti (Do you prefer Frostie?) The box scores being called in -- makes for such a small-town 'Merican portrait. Edward Hopper shudda painted you. One of my many first cousins is (and was) an INSURANCE agent in GF,ND. Over the course of that three year flood-cry- resite/rebuilt he lost about 30 lbs, a head of hair, and etc. He did, however, keep his friends and clients. He comment wryly that shielding families from some of the insurance shenanigans was the main cause of stress....and made it hard for him to believe in corporate human responsibility (as in big money companies, not the assembly of human community), let alone kindness.

Tulips ARE jaunty, especially the smaller ones. (EF -- deer love tulips but not daffies so much.) I am fascinated that you have moss arising green, amidst the mud. I have thought about my ferns, which appear to be mostly bracken. I don't think I should try eating tender fiddleheads from those plants. However, children from one to 100 can be charmed by the tiny fiddlehead poking up and unfurling over about four days. I know that arguments about createdness by design are highly unfashionable, but we mostly all feel some awe about nature's fabulous hand.

This BREAKING NEWs:CeePeeBoy says that in Austrailia a surfer girl was attacked by a sea lion. Will explore and report! Over and out.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 15, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

martooni - should you have any spare sections of copper pipe around your house, try dropping some magnets through them. If the magnets are strong enough, they will slow as if by magic.

But beware the longitudinal forces.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I much prefer Frosti, like Ms. Shirley's added e, a dropped e is somehow more romantic. Makes me look smarter too I think.

RD-As if by magic?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, did you see the Kevin Sullivan versions of Anne, there is a conversation in the sequel about the name Katherine, and her feelings about it being spelt with a K, that came to mind when we gave our daughter her middle name.

Posted by: dmd | April 15, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

CP, you are correct...

Morning all!! *waving like a windshield wiper*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 15, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Look away, 'Mudge, look away...


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 15, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten - Actually it is a demonstration of something called Lenz's law and eddy currents. But it still seems like magic to me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all! I loved this Kit. I don't remotely understand the science, of course, but I sure understand the mistake. Who hasn't forgotten to carry the 2, or some similar simple and unremarkable necessity? It is like putting salt into pie instead of sugar (don't ask). Easy to miss at the time, but a spectacularly bad result.

Error, I'd have told them to cross the streams (but you said crossing the streams was bad!).

I also liked the link to the "what I can't prove" piece. I'm going to print it out (correct attributions) and share with the pointy-heads and policy makers at the Symposium I'll be attending later in the week.

Cassandra, you are absolutely right. In the real, personal world, Bush's first strike policy would be a crime. If you attack your neighbor because you think he's goiing to move his fence too far over onto your yard, whoops! CRIMINAL charge. I don't understand why it is different with countries.

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!
Time to get ready for church.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 15, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

CP, not only monkeys are not a blessing but cobras are not a blessing either. There's a cobra (I think it's the same one) that comes around the house every so often. One evening a couple of years ago, I was disturbed by my #2 dog's incessant barking. I went out of the house to find a cobra about 5 ft long, head over a foot off the ground hissing at me. How rude! I told #2 dog it's all hers and bolted back into the house. It took #2 dog half hour of barking to chase it away. That cobra still visits uninvited.

Aside from monkeys and cobras there are beautiful birds too. I don't know their names but they are small and colourful. They are my alarm clock. They wake me up around 6am including Sundays. A friend told me he has seen a hornbill but I've yet to see one.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

That 10.36am was me.

Posted by: rain forest | April 15, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

dmd-I have seen 1 and 2 of Sullivan's films but missed the Katherine with a K discussion. Need to put 1-3 on the Netflix queue.

RD-Thanks, I thought it was more along the lines of this

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, I could be confusing it with the show that also ran up here (Anne is an industry here :-) ). It is quite charming Anne is going to teach at a private school, the existing teacher, a quite plain woman, Anne talks about how wonderful she thinks the name Katherine is and how spelt with a K, the other teacher then walks to the board and spells her name with a C. Keep in mind my recollection are always subject to correction.

Posted by: dmd | April 15, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

dmd-Flash of recognition nearly blinded me. I do remember that.

One of my best childhhood memories was the PEI vacation we took in 1972. Saw a musical production of the Anne stories in Charlottetown and was spoiled for life with regard to lobster. If I don't see it come out of the ocean I won't eat it.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

That's a very proper approach, frostbitten.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 15, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

This op-ed about Imus was mentioned by Tim Russert on today's "Meet the Press," appears in today's paper version of the Washinton Post on B05, and is worth the read. I endorse as highly as today's column about the Imus controversy by Frank Rich at the New York Times Select. The Washington Post piece is written by Jonette Rose Barras, who is the political analyst for WAMU radio. Russert mentioned the op-ed and the woman's name so quickly that I had a hard time finding it here online since I didn't catch the name, except to note that the writer's name has three words.

Interesting moment on Russert. Russert said the full word "hos" that stands in for the W-word, and the full pronunciation of the B-word, but said only the catch phrase for the N-word, saying "N-word." Wouldn't it be nice, some day, if such a sense of shame and outrage could be attached to the W- and B-words, as well? Interesting, too, that Rusert's intent was to discuss Alberto Gonzales and the '08 presidential contenders on his show, but never got to the latter two topics.

Who shone on today's Russert roundtable? Without any doubt on my part, Gwen Ifill.

Posted by: Loomis | April 15, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Ifill was very gracious in her closing commentary on Washington Week Friday night.

Loomis-thanks for the link to Jonette Rose Baras's article.

I am working with the school board of a Bureau of Indian Affairs school to figure out how to bring the 30 year old school back to its core mission of educating children for a modern world without losing their cultural identity. I fear they are spending too much time and money on this mission when an eyes closed listen to the middle and high school students could tell them what's happened. The parents may be looking for a more Indian experience than the "white man's" schools give, but the kids bristle at the demands that tribal ways make. Black urban culture, in its most crass commercial and misogynistic forms, is much more alluring and prepares them quite nicely for a jobless, pointless adulthood.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD!
is a movie demo of Lenz's Law.

I always worry about someone's computer simulation if they program in an exact symmettry, but as we know, the real world isn't. Without inducing asymmetry in the model, it would perform symmetrically in the model. I guess those guys know better, so that probably was not the case.

Posted by: Jumper | April 15, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

How DO you expand (a+b)to the x?

Posted by: Jumper | April 15, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Binomial expansion Jumper:

Okay, now, can anyone tell my why the *ford* there is water dripping from my breaker box? Must be a leak associated with the meter. Guess it's time to call the Virginia power company.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, SN, for the link. Wow. Nature! Glad surfer-gurl looks to be doing well.

A few years ago, an experienced and knowledgeable coastal biologist was swimming with students near San Luis Obispo/Morro Rock area on the Central CA coast. She was mistaken for a sea lion, by a very large shark: Died in front of her students. I still shudder at that story because back in the day, all open water lifeguards had to take an ocean swim test. Even though I guarded at lakes in the High Sierra, guidelines required that swim every other year. I did it once and thought I would die as she did. Somehow I completed the swim on adrenaline and prayers alone. Fear and prayer: what a combo.

RD -- I think the magnet-in-copper is as design-astonishing as the Fibonacci number patterns that govern petal and fiddlehead unfurling.

Frosti -- lots to say here, about your middle school options. Cousins in SD and ND who are married into tribal communities keep trying to figure out non-gambling, res-based economic development strategies. One strategy concerns beef, beefalo, and buffalo (Bison bison, actually) meat. Another twist concerns kosher slaughter of said ruminants, since the price on that in classy restaurants makes for a huge margin.

Also, young people there are drawn to the hip hop/rap ethos. Parents (recall our discussions and my screes of late) have a hard time everywhere promoting "stuff" because part of the job of kids is to resist parents. But here is a great story about young people acting on Darfur:
Hundreds of Teens March to Demand Intervention in Darfur

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 15, 2007; Page C01

It started last year with three Montgomery County high school juniors talking about issues that mattered in the world and how they might make a difference. Yesterday, it culminated with several hundred teenagers marching to the Washington Monument with a call for action in Darfur.
END of lede: Link =

Posted by: College Parkian | April 15, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Good story on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday about Grand Forks:

Eek, rain forest - cobras - hissing at you! Monkeys I could deal with, cobras are another thing altogether. Which reminds me of the Donovan (!) song:

Better get into what you gotta get into
Better get into it now, no slacking please
United Nations ain't really united
And the organisations ain't really organised

Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Won't be coming around for to kill your snakes no more my love
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone

(Every)body who read the Jungle Book knows that Riki tiki tavi's a mongoose who kills snakes
(Well) when I was a young man I was led to believe there were organisations to kill my snakes for me
(i.e. the) church i.e. the government i.e. the school
(But when I got a little older) I learned I had to kill them myself

(I said) Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Won't be coming around for to kill your snakes no more my love
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone

People walk around they don't know what they're doing
They bin lost so long they don't know what they've been looking for
Well, I know what I'm a looking for but I just can't find it
I guess I gotta look inside of myself some more

Oh oh oh inside of myself some more
Oh oh oh inside of myself some more

Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone

Now, all I remember from that song is the chorus. I must get a Donovan greatest hits CD.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 15, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Martooni's recent (your brain on drugs) comment re-raised a question I have: If there's a war on drugs going on, how come there are no TV commercials against crack?

I'd hate to see them done in the normal stupidly ineffective manner, but rather in some genuine way. But there are not any at all. Or am I demographized so that I don't see them?

Posted by: Jumper | April 15, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I love Gwen Ifill.

Plenty of folks, Al Sharpton included, have been speaking out against hateful lyrics in rap for a long time:

Not sure how common "nappy headed" is in rap lyrics - I still maintain I haven't heard that since the early 60's - reminds me of Bull Connor and George Wallace. Don Imus is a powerful, influential, old white guy who made a derogatory remark (oh, sorry, he said it was comedy) about a *specific* group of women, who did not in any way deserve it. Rappers write about society in general, as far as I know. And not all rap is negative (or so I'm told, since I don't listen to it).

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 15, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse


As I understand it the effects of crack did not go unnoticed by the younger generation and use is way down from historical levels.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 15, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Loomis... I agree with you about language that's acceptable towards women. You are right; I look forward to the day when derogatory means derogatory.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Jumper-crack is rather passe. Meth enjoyed enormous popularity in rural areas but has tapered off-the immediate and drastic physical effects were undeniable even for teens who never think anything bad will happen to them.

The crack era did yield some replacements for other insults, "Your momma's a crack head" and "crack baby" being quite popular on the playgrounds of the mid-90s.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Somewhat on topic (don't tell anyone!), here is a review from Michael Dirda of *two* recent biographies of Albert Einstein:

He makes them both sound good with the one by the German author the better of the two. You can read them both if you want to read over 1,000 pages about Einstein!

Posted by: pj | April 15, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Here's the transcript from the Meet the Press roundtable today:
starts toward the bottom of the page.

If you haven't heard, Don Imus referred to Gwen Ifill as a cleaning lady when she was the White House correspondent for the NY Times in the early 90's. Ha ha. He denies it now, but had his producer apologize to her back then.

And just a couple of things, and then I promise to stop talking about this. When I heard what Imus said, I pictured the Rutgers team as tough looking, scary kids, who maybe played rough and nasty. I don't follow basketball, so I thought maybe there was some reason he said what he did. But there turned out not to be a thug among them - but that's the power of language to characterize people you don't know.

When I was about 6 years old (in the 1950's), I played with a neighbor kid who was a couple of years older. He would talk about black people using derogatory terms. I don't know why - we had no contact with black people in our neighborhood - I suppose his parents talked like that. It offended me then - at age 6 - and I stopped playing with him for that reason. Not sure why a 66 year old man can't figure out what's offensive.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 15, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Jesus: "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. If your right hand offend thee, cut it off..."

Imus: "Okay, I cut my brain out, what now?"

Posted by: WIlbrod | April 15, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

A little bit about finding the grown ups in the April 4th issue of Education Week magazine. You can read at least one story without subscribing, sorry if they make you register to get to the link below.

This opinion piece was written by Robert Epstein, former Editor in Chief of Psychology today and author of the recently published The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen

"Over the past century or so, we have, through a growing set of restrictions, artificially extended childhood by perhaps a decade or more, and we have also completely isolated young people from adults, severing the "child-adult continuum" that has existed throughout history. This trend is continuing. Just last year, Reg Weaver, the second-term president of the National Education Association, while lamenting the fact that 30 percent or more of our young people never complete high school, called for extending the minimum age of school leaving to 21. When adults see young people misbehaving or underperforming, they often respond by infantilizing young people even more, and the new restrictions often cause even more distress among our young.

Some leaders in education are far more trusting of our nation's young--and also recognize the inherent dangers of infantilization and isolation. The former New York City and New York state teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto has long warned about the dangers of artificially extending childhood, and has blamed our schools for damaging families and stifling creativity and a love of learning. Leon Botstein, the longtime president of Bard College and the youngest college president (at 23) in U.S. history, has called for the outright abolition of our high school system, pointing out the obvious: High school is a waste of time for the majority of the students--that is, for those who haven't already dropped out."

Despite my references in previous boodles to teenagers as incapable of logical thought, I have always felt it was more a matter of training and opportunity than biology.

Why should we make kids who could very well master high school and move on to college and/or adult life endure the glacial lock stepped pace of high school?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Everything's OK. Really.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I once asked my dad about a GED as a teen and he said that employers wouldn't consider a GED as valuable as a HS diploma. His brother got an GED at age 16 so he could go straight to work in an auto factory.

There's certainly something to be said about keeping the test-out option open.

I'm not always so certain that a 14 or 15 year old is actually mature enough for college. Socially, their brains are still maturing even if they're mature enough to do the work academically. I took one such class or two with a girl who had gotten an GED at age 14 and chosen to go to college. She was very good about abiding by age restrictions in temptation, but she continually overestimated the strength of her own intelligence compared to others.
Last I heard, by the time she had hit 20 she had matured a lot and was much easier to get along with.
I've also known of another girl who basically finished college and all by age 20 and then attempted suicide because she failed to get her dream job. She survived, but she wound up dead in a nightclub at age 24-- a shooting broke out.

Otherwise, I have no objections to deprioritizing a highly standardized curriculum in favor of having kids test out of classes they'd be bored dead in anyway. But then, real life isn't always about taking shortcuts.

But it's also important to consider that a kid who is unhappy in high school probably WILL be unhappy out of high school, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 15, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

frosti.... what a WONDERFUL article! As the parent of a boy who could have gotten a job and supported the family when he was 14, I have hated watching him suffer through high school for the four years since then.

He turned 18 in December, was accepted to college in January and is still stuck in high school until June.

And now he's actually facing the possibility of failing History and English--the only two classes he's taking this year that are required for him to graduate! Just because he's just not focused on it anymore. It's just torture for him to be there.

I know he will be a lifelong learner. That's what makes him happy: learning--and knowing things. He'll make a great adult; I've known that since he was small. My goal has always been to get him to adulthood alive.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of the "social" aspects of college that would make it challenging for a 14-16 year old come because college has very much become a 4 year extension of high school with everyone going through that in a pretty homogeneous cohort as well.

I started college myself at 16 and still think I'm among the minority who thoroughly enjoyed it primarily because of the classes not the social stuff. Not that I had any trouble with the social stuff. I am very glad my little MN high school had only one alternative for "gifted" students-early graduation. (For the record, I never considered myself "gifted and talented," I was a strong reader and basically compliant. These two things are still all that is needed to rise to the top of the class at many a comprehensive high school.)

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

My suggestion: HS graduation in December; work until you leave for college the next fall.

That way you get all your college applications in, finish up a semester of Senior year and then enter the real world slowly before you go to college.

Kind of incorporates the British idea of the "gap year" into the American system of education.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

TBG-That would be a start.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

My son, at 16, could probably survive college. Except for that whole bathing and eating business.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

My mother graduated from high school after grade 11. My senior year was a complete waste of time, not just because it was the first year of busing for desegregation. I wonder if we should cut a year from the high school curriculum and adopt the "gap year" concept.

OTOH, a good friend of my older daughter went through first grade as a four-year-old. She was basically two years ahead of her age throughout her school career, graduating when she was sixteen. Yes, she was smart, and yes, she had good grades. But she bombed out in college. It took her six years and four colleges to get a degree. If we are going to let kids go ahead like that, we must ensure that they have the emotional and social support to survive and be successful.

Posted by: Slyness | April 15, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Many parents are starting their kids in school at older ages now, some just to make them the "smartest" in the class.

What's going to happen to those kids who don't graduate from high school until they're 19? Talk about artificially extending childhood.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Outside of the issue of basic maturity, especially in boys, I do not think most brains are ready for college level math and science before the late teens. Yes, there are exceptions, but my observation as a physics tutor, and my wife's as a math tutor, is that pushing too much too soon is not a good idea.

What I would like to see, desperately, is for high school to become more like college in regards to the amount of time spent trapped in the classroom. Yes, there are issues associated with unsupervised teens, but I assert that fewer hours in class and more hours to do homework and after school activities would make high school more enjoyable and productive for most.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Homogenous cohort??? Did you go to a community college?

I went to college when I was 17 and did just fine, focusing on the classes, not the kegging. However, I took college as an opportunity to expand my social savvy as well, since HS was a social prison for me. College gave me more time to hang with friends and pursue extracurricular interests. I also worked as a tutor and worked every summer to pay for college.

One thing I am in favor of is giving teens more opportunity to intern and work before age 16.
Yes, a kid shouldn't work and do HS unless there's a financial need, but there's no reason why a kid can't do summer internships starting at age 13.

TBG, please check your son's health. I've known senior slumps to actually be an undiagnosed major episode of thyroid disease. A truly smart kid can't fail history or English if he puts in the reading, even if it's only half-hearted.

Posted by: WIlbrod | April 15, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

RD, I do think you have a point.

I have known, though, a very few people to dislike the lack of structure college offers in comparsion to high school (or to work, come to think of it).

Sometimes school IS a refuge for teens with lots of home troubles.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 15, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

RD, I hope you're having that water in the breaker box looked at by Virgina Power ASAP.

That happened to my brother a few years ago, and the whole thing shorted out at the main with a bang. Started a small fire (which he put out with an extinguisher), and he was without power for 3-4 days, IIRC. If nothing else, open the breaker box to make sure it does not collect in there while you're waiting...

pj, I heard Walter Isaacson interviewed on NPR earlier this week, and he was a guest on "The Daily Show." Sounds like an interesting book about Einstein, though there sure are a lot of them.

I meant to post this column by Alberto Gonzales this AM (it's been a busy day - don't ask):

Sounds like he's trying to deflect blame onto Kyle Sampson (I guess turnabout's fair play), and I found it curious that he mentions the US Attorneys' performance being acceptable to the AG (hey, Alberto's initials are AG, too!) and the President. Nothing about the responsibilites or performance of those Attorneys with regards to the Constitution, the laws of the United States of America, and the citizens thereof. Perhaps I'm being persnickety? Hmmm.


Posted by: bc | April 15, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - Your point about school as a refuge is well taken.

My personal experience is that high school was *much* more stressful than college simply because of the hours I was forced to sit in class. Why must high school be a full day?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

bc - yep, they are coming out in a few days. They tell me it isn't that unusual. The biggest risk is that the breakers will rust up and stop working.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

bc - I also dried it out with a hair dryer. Personally, I am amazed the while thing hasn't shorted out already.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree with many points. One-size does not fit all. I hope the John Deasey here in PG County, MD, can pull off his vision soon of small schools, multiple tracks for HS students. SOON!

TBG -- IMMEDIATELY call the admissions counselor at son's school. Big schools -- not sure about smaller lib-art schools -- often rescind an admissions offer or make the student wait a semester. Final grades can matter, especially as the boom echo sends babies off to college: the numbers are huge. FIND OUT NOW! Hey, wait. Let son of TBG call.

RD is right on the math/physics stuff. I turned on in geometry only to be mystified until my first year of college when it all came together gloriously in math/physics. BTW: Very few students pass the math competency/placement tests in college, despite having taking say, trig and pre-calc in HS.

I will try to find the stats but the number of students who start college but do not finish is a quiet scandal. At greatest risk? Boys/young men from a variety of socio-economic settings.

Dot1 did not go to high school. Complicated but the biggerst driver concerned serious health problems, including chronic pain. She home schooled, sorta; attended junior college intermitantly from 14 on, but enrolled "concurrently" in "big" college at 16, while living at home.

Dot2 went to high school, but not the select one neighbors send kids too. As RD notes, what about time for activities, etc. She had a full life, with school as one part. Dance/Theater was a very important outlet that included community service: dancing at nursing homes constantly where the audience was either very attentive or somewhat challenged. She also got involved with some of the justice stuff percolating at her high school.

Gap year options in the US are complex because family health coverage runs out for many of us. AmeriCorps is one great option for a service-oriented gap year that includes health coverage. CityYear is harder for high schoolers to get into....perhaps the church-initiative like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Lutheran V.Corps, and Mennonite Service Year groups will start HS options.

Frosti, article is great. Read also anything by Urie Bonfrenbrenner, who pushed ideas of apprenticeships and meaningful work in the community, as opposed to Mall and Internet hangouting.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 15, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

RD-many people find college level math difficult, at any age. My premise is that students who can do it be allowed to when they are ready, not when a school system that gets paid for butts in seats says they put in their time.

A note about readiness for college-Not many schools in our area offer AP courses. Those that are starting to are doing so because so many students are leaving high school for what MN calls "post secondary options." Here, for those students who are able the state pays their tuition at a state college (2 year or 4 year) for what would have been their senior year. The idea was to offer college credit to students whose schools were too small to offer full AP classes. The high schools are having fits though because the kids who leave early take their funding with them. Many are trying to figure out how they can offer AP classes without additional cost. Makes you wonder whose benefit they're really looking after.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

NOW That's what I call healthy competition at the HS level.

My stress level in HS was about always having to run for classes, the limited lunch hours. I figure if the hours are same, but there's more of a break between classes (and maybe fewer subjects), HS students would enjoy it more as well. And there's no reason why teachers wouldn't like more than 5 minutes' breaks to pull out lesson plans and prepare for the next class.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 15, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I heart the gap year idea. Considering the year or semester in college for abroad study/travel or one year rest before entering graduate school or other real life careers, it seems there are a lot of gap years to be filled.

Posted by: daiwanlan | April 15, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

CP-the health insurance specter is on Frostdottir's tail as we type. She could use a gap year, or two, and we've planted the Americorps seed. We'll see.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

TBG, re: 19 year old starting university, when I went that was the norm, our High Schools in Ontario were 5 years, the final year primarily intended for those going on to University, if you wanted to go to college you could graduate after 4 years.

For me personally it was great that additional year provided a marked increase in maturity required for university, we were however all the same age, I would think had I been 19 and the other students younger it would not have been as beneficial.

High School here is four years now, have switched about 5 years ago, there are still problems with the transition, many students opt for a "victory lap year", to take extra course, improve marks, or graduate mid way on the fifth year, or in some cases play an extra year of high school sports.

Our last year in high school we were lucky the school believe we were adults and we were allowed a greater degree of freedom, choosing to sign ourselves out of classes if we wished. The reasoning was that in University we would be responsible for our actions and we might as well learn how to do it, and to face the consequences if we abused the privledge.

Posted by: dmd | April 15, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

That sounds great, dmd. Much better.

I was thinking more about those 19 year olds being treated the same as the 14-year-old Freshmen.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I realized that, at first I was going to state some serious umbrage and then I thought about 19 year old in the same class as 17 year old - two different worlds. At University there were some younger freshmen from other systems - you could tell the difference. Also we can drink here at 19, at the time we were not segregated from the rest of the University crowd.

But seriously parents would hold there parents back so they could be the smartest - I don't even know where to start with ccommenting on that. Nothing like creating a prima donna!

Posted by: dmd | April 15, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all. I have nothing to contribute to the interesting discussion of kids and college. I just want to share this recipe. Background - daughter #1 adores the chocolate molten lava cake at Sweet Tomatoes, and wanted to be able to make it, but all the recipes started with making a ganache and just got more complicated from there, so were not attempted. Then last week I found this. We tried it - it's easy and sublime. The melted part stays melted even when the cake cools. Enjoy!

Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes

4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate (equals 2/3 cup chocolate chips)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon or other wine
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger

Butter 4 (6 oz.) custard cups or souffle dishes
Place on baking sheet

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in wine, vanilla and sugar until blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into prepared dishes.

Bake in preheated 425 degree oven 15 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Loosen edges with knife, invert onto serving plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 15, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

BTW, the recipe is from McCormick Spice Co., so could probably also be found at their site.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 15, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I've gone and made a very linky post with a lot of extra information about Kurt Vonnegut.

I've spent some time listening to parents of kids that have started college. You have no idea what goes on. Bootleggers show up at dorms every Friday night and sell booze right out of the case.

The Georgia Tech housing office matter of factly explains the policy on overnight guests of either sex: Get your roommates permission. That's about it. Otherwise, anything goes. Overnight, parents lose all control over their children's eating, studying, and sleeping habits.

I suggest that every parent of a high school senior read "I am Charlotte Simmons" and filter out the artistic license, but heed the overall warning.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Never read that story-- is it one of Vonneguts's?

I will say this: any parent in awe of their teen and ready to let them set the world on fire should think about Joan D'Arc-- who did.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 15, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

This talk of college-aged kids juxtaposed (what a great word) with the "tension" Joel mentioned in the kit raises a question in my mind. Whose aging is more difficult to handle - your children's, or your parent's?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I read "Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe and couldn't finish it. I found it poorly written, unrealistic in its premise (but not the drinking and depression), and personally depressing. I remember when Tom Wolfe could actually write.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 15, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Tom Wolfe wrote "I Am Charlotte Simmons", about a young woman at college, I believe. I haven't read it. When I went to college, there were still all kinds of rules in the dorms - curfews, permission to spend the night not in the dorm. But we got around that by moving off campus.

RD, in my case, I'd say my father's aging was worse than my son growing up - although I didn't lose sleep over my father's situation, like I did when my kid was out all night at 18 or so.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 15, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

C-C-C-Cobras in your yard?!?!?! Hissing cobras?!

Posted by: Kim | April 15, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Tom Wolfe's ability to write is not in question. Whether he can do good character plotting and development is in question.

Vonnegut had it right-- always include a character the reader can root for. In "Bonfire of the Vanities", there are no such characters you can like-- at all.

I will never read another Tom Wolfe book.

Posted by: WIlbrod | April 15, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

The question of whether it is harder to deal with the aging of your kids or your parents is sort of silly, now that I think about it. Depending on the details of life, both can be hard. I mean, because I am *such* a good son I call my folks on the West Coast every Sunday. (This takes two calls.) And I am realizing that, well, they are changing. As, of course, are my kids. I guess this is part of what it means to be middle aged. You have two generations to worry about.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 15, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt-I think the behavior you warn of is part of the extended childhood.

The thing is not so much deciding at what age students should graduate, or go to college, or do anything. Rather, it is having a system that allows for individuality so that the kid who takes a gap year can sit next to the 30yo military veteran and the 15 yo prodigy and they all learn more for the experience-and that the 30yo isn't the only one with a prayer of acting like and being treated like, an adult.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

yello... that's why I leave those choices up to my son now, instead of letting him loose all of a sudden on the big, bad world.

I tell him that I know I can't stop him from doing anything he wants to (I know this from my own experience, but I certainly don't tell him that part). I tell him I just have to hope he doesn't do anything completely stupid.

My curfew was 11 pm up until the night before I left for college. That certainly led to many late nights, all nights... you name it. I had to see what it was like to have all that freedom. Not a good idea.

I say give them freedom little by little, so that by the time they go to college, they can tell those bootleggers "no thanks."

Of course we have yet to see if that works.

Posted by: TBG | April 15, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Having met Son of G, I don't think he's likely to fall into bootleggers' traps. And of course, *I* will be close at hand to make sure he doesn't. ;-)

Yes, yes, I do remember the spring semester of my senior year. Third quarter I made a C- in algebra III/Trig, the lowest grade I ever made on a report card in my entire academic career. *Cough* It was also the quarter many of my more mathematically advanced buddies flunked calculus, so I didn't feel so bad about it. We all survived and went on to prosper in college, so it can be done.

Posted by: Slyness | April 15, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I read I Am Charlotte Simmons and I guess I'm not going to get around to blogging about it, so I'll just comment here. I don't own the book, but checked it out of the library when it was on the new release shelf. I guess that was a few years ago. I read the beginning of the book with great interest because it really seemed I could say "I AM Charlotte Simmons"--since I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and went to a big East Coast college, all on my own. Charlotte makes her own clothes--hey, me too. Charlotte is plunged into an unfamiliar culture where everybody else seems to know what the rules were but she is kind of in the dark. I related to that, too. But I didn't follow the premise that Wolfe laid out, that a young woman like Charlotte is more or less doomed to be chewed up in the wickedness she encounters at college. My experience was not like that at all. I found in college, just as in the rest of my life, that my upbringing and character were more than sufficient to avoid the pitfalls that I encountered out in the big world.

My daughter went to public school in a big urban school system and had a lot more experiences before her launch into the wide world. But the character traits that have seen her successfully through her first two years of college are passed to her from that little Oklahoma town. Simple honesty and standing up for what you know is right for yourself, without judging what others may choose for their path--this is not rocket science; it's something that my family more or less takes for granted. The character of Charlotte Simmons is not believable to me. I think a girl with her background would be more than a match for the frat boys and jocks at the big city college.

I'll still read anything Tom Wolfe publishes because he is capable of great work. I thought The Bonfire of the Vanities was riveting--I'm very sorry I saw the movie, because the casting was terrible. A Man in Full was somewhat disappointing and I Am Charlotte Simmons was almost painful. But The Right Stuff is a classic, and I'll always be grateful for The Painted Word.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 15, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Everything kbertocci wrote about Charlotte Simmons X 2.

Today is the 300th anniversary of Leonard Euler's birth. According to this
his e^i^pi=-1 equation was voted the "most beautiful equation in all of mathematics" in a 1988 poll of readers of the journal Mathematical Intelligencer.

It is a tribute to the Achenblog that I pulled my achenhead through such information. Thanks pointy types, I was behind enough in my reading before I paid so much attention to math and science.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 15, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes Kim, hissing cobra in my yard. I am not crazy about snakes but as long as I have my dog and I am inside the house, I don't fear it that much. So far its visits have been in the late evenings. The way I could tell its presence is in the dog's barking - continuous. It bothers me a lot when it visits. Not because it's a threat to my safety. There were a couple of times I found that my dog's eyes were red after it had visited. I think it spat into my dog's eye. I have no proof but I blame it on the snake just the same.

Posted by: rain forest | April 15, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Kb, the things you point out with Tom Wolfe is exactly why I don't like him very much. All of his characters are superficial. It's like he has a manual that suggests humans work this and that way, but hasn't read all the fine print all the way through.

Of course it didn't help that I had to write a few essays analyzing the Bonfire of the Vanities in college-- I didn't like it so much when I read it, but I wound up seriously hating every word of it.

I can see the Messages with a captial M, but come on.
Twain and Dickens also had messages and they entertained and did good characterization first before they made any kind of morality play.
Melville did a better job too. While you know Captain Ahab is crazy with vengance, you are still intrigued by just how far he will go, and how the other characters react to his vengance fanasties.

..."He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it."

"At first,... Sherman McCoy had regarded the press as an enemy that was staling him out there... They had closed in for the kill... And then they killed him. He oculdn't remember just whe he had died, but by the time he had left the pens, he had died and been reborn.... They were parasites inside his very hide. The humming and the burning began again for the day."

is good, but limps in comparsion. There's just not the passion for the character as a person at all.

As it is, I liked that book about as much as I liked reading "Babbitt". And that wasn't much.

Posted by: WIlbrod | April 15, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

The credibility gap widens:

Posted by: bill everything | April 15, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Wolfe's problem is that he thinks he is Emile Zola describing the 19th wickedness of Paris. He wrote a whole book about the meaning of "hooking up" which is a purposefully ambiguous phrase which can mean anything from meeting friends to casual sex. Those whacky kids like to keep fuddy duddy adults guessing.

The Charlotte Simmons book is completely over the top, but certain scenes like the frat party and the formal dance date rape do ring of truthiness. He has a reporter's eye for detail, but not a novelist's nose for the big picture.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

This is the kind of stuff that poor Monica (no, not that one) doesn't want to talk about. Using U.S. Attorneys to intimidate the voting process:

"In a related matter yesterday, an attorney for Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), who faces an ethics inquiry into his role in the firings, declined to comment on an Albuquerque Journal report that Domenici directly contacted Rove to push for the firing of David C. Iglesias as New Mexico's U.S. attorney.

The report said Domenici's call to the White House came after a late October phone conversation with Iglesias about a local corruption case. Iglesias has testified he felt the call amounted to improper political pressure and believes it lies at the heart of his firing."

Posted by: bill everything | April 15, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's what we get when Mr. "Two excecutions and a light jog before lunch and lemonade on the venetta" Arbusto gets elected.

"Who will rid me of this turbulent attorney?"

"Deny his execution appea-- wait a minute, can he just be fired?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Some encouraging developments are afoot:

Posted by: Dreamer | April 16, 2007 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer, good to see you--I'd say good morning but that seems so provincial. Thanks for those links.

My email word of the day from A.Word.A.Day: albedo

You know what it means, but do you know what ELSE it means...?

Posted by: kbertocci | April 16, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Be nice; we're on trhe home page this morning, right under Howie Kurtz. And it looks like a really slow news day so far: the lead story is Hillary's bank account, which is the same story that ran about a week ago--and wasn't a news story then, either. What I don't understand is that if everyone agrees that coverage of the campaign as a horse race is bad, and that coverage of whose bank account is bigger than whose isn't very meaningful, and that the frontrunner who has been the frontrunner for the last six months is still the frontrunner in a race that so far is nearly meaningless, at least for the next eight or ten months--why is this all the lead story? Oh, and then comes the shocking story that the candidates are holding firm to their bases so far. What a shocker that one was/is. Yawn. C'Mon, Post, send the Sunday overnight crew home and get eh Monday people in here, quick. Force-feed them coffee if necessary.

Gen. Sheehan has a somwhat confusing op-ed on why he turned down the czar's job. He lists the three (defective) strategies the administration has been diddling around with, but he fails to state baldly what he did the other day: that the administration doesn't know what the hell it's doing. And he alludes to "a small handful" of people in the administration who believe in "victory" and "winning" without ever defining those terms. Why won't he just say "Cheney"? At the end of the piece I felt he hadn't said much, nor helped explain the situation or why he declined the job. I think he pulled his punches--which makes him unfit for that particular job in the first place. So maybe it's a good thing he turned it down.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 16, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Is it a truncation of "albacore speedo?"


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 16, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

SN -- tunafish in Speedos is so wrong. Minus five points for you.

KB -- we share the same Word O'Day thingie.

Thanks, Martooni, for my theme music. Cue Ride of the Valkyrie as I am about to ride off to work. Nippy out there.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Good tidings to you to, kbert.

And thanks for the definitions of "albedo." (I'm wondering, Is that kind of like an aura?)

Drifting back on topic, Joel's link to the physics shindig inspired me to finally purchase Lisa Randall's book, "Warped Passages: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions." (I hope it won't be too pointy for me.)

Posted by: Dreamer | April 16, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

to you TOO, kbert.
Also, I'm second-guessing my use of the words "tidings" and "shindig."

Posted by: Dreamer | April 16, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Ah, Mudge, I come back to see what's up and the first thing I see is your reference to being under Howard Kurtz... well, that ain't as bad as being under Paul Wolfowitz.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 16, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Lisa Randall. Mmmm

Posted by: Boko999 | April 16, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Love is blind, but any romantic partners of Wolfie must be overcome by the waft of that ultimate aphrodisiac rather than any physical attraction. And the pay ain't bad either.

When Weingarten went on hiatus, he left a laundry list of projects he had simmering and we have yet to see any of them reach fruition.

Joel's travel plans seem to indicate that he is doing a major project on particle physics and electoral politics. That is a lot of strings to be chasing, since the overlap is so slim. I don't see any way to dovetail a trip to the Iowa caucuses with a side trip to a particle smasher.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I hate this article,it doesnt put in perspective the sexual scandals that went on

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Waht is goin on in the4 dick of Bush,(thats where his brain is)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Lisa Randall gets my vote as cover girl for a special Particle Research Hotties issue of the JHEP.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. I pointed to a Times article about the Fermilab-caused debacle at CERN. JA doesn't mention that Fermilab may benefit from the long delay CERN will suffer in commissioning its collider. Fermilab may complete its work on Higgs bosons out before CERN gets back online. Oh the irony.

Is there something sadder than hyacinths stems peeking out of 3 inches of snow? As for the shorter species I looked at the snow covered flower beds this morning and reminded myself, the crocuses lie here and the muscaris are over there. Large low pressure systems are called "dépression" in French, a name well earned these past two days. Only the old dog enjoys that weather, he was so happy to be able to roll in the snow again. Ah well, I hope none of you down south got flooded.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 16, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

A Fermilab conspiracy! That should displace the conspiracy theory that Imus was kicked off the air because he knew too much about the 9/11 coverup.

I wish we'd received New York's rainfall. We could actually use it.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 16, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

New kit, and my sincere apologies for not being as mannerly as Omni was the other day.

Posted by: dbG | April 16, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Well, Weingarten did have his long magazine story last weekend, which was on his list of things to do.

#2 is up to one year older than her classroom peers, and we certainly did not hold her back to "make her the smartest in the class." In the Quebec system, kids could start kindergarten at 4, so long as they had been born before October 1 of each qualifying year. #2 was born in December. The only way to accelerate her entry was by paying $900 to have her tested by a provincial psychologist (for 6 hours in one sitting!). We had neither the money nor the inclination to put her through that, having seen the effect on (and affect of) one of our neighbours' child. We were perfectly happy to have her go to the Montessori nursery for an extra year. She is not the smartest in her class, but her social progress through high school has been one of the least stressful I have witnessed. She's an all-rounder with lots of outside interests, and has been rewarded for good citizenship. For this particular kid, not hurrying her and not becoming ego-involved in having the youngest/smartest was the right decision.

I saw a lot more harm come to the kids who were pushed into school early than those who were held back a bit, if the decision to hold back was made for right reasons.

Posted by: Yoki | April 16, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

CP... glad I could be of tune assistance. My tune heading to job site #1 this morning was "Lowrider".

Mudge... right with ya' on the czar bidness. The whole idea of the position just smacks of a smart alec MBA who's never worked a day in his life. Not getting the results you want? Add another layer of management. Because we all know that you can never have too many layers of management. Just like you can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor.

Well, Handy Hippie gots to run again -- have a meeting at 10 and then it's a mad dash to job site #2. Been at it since 6:30 and it's shaping up to be a very busy day -- this sobriety thing is turning into a lot of work. Assuming I don't have any wagon accidents, today will be 21 days (that's 14 "martooni years").

Later, my friends...

Posted by: martooni | April 16, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

We talk about albedo a lot in the frozen north, the first definition anyway. One of the reasons our very cold, cold, sub zero string of 21 days in Jan/Feb was so miserable was that even though the days were already longer the snow cover was reflecting much of the sun's light. Or so says the Uof MN climatologist who visits Mn Public Radio every Friday.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 16, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

No rain in the coonties, Dave? This part of Florida's Nature Coast got it's share as the storm moved through.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 16, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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