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The End of Retail Politics

[My story in the Post magazine.]

McCain: Dover, N.H., March 18

JOHN MCCAIN IS AT A THING CALLED A "HOUSE PARTY" making his stump speech. The stump is the central stairwell of the house, which is, to be precise, a mansion, a heroic place with exposed beams, a fireplace the size of your kitchen, and chairs so huge and heavy that if you sat in one you might get lost for a week. The walls of the central room are painted in a continuous equestrian mural. Through the Palladian windows, you can see an icy river surging toward the sea. It's all very dramatic. Life has been good to these particular Republicans.

"Thank you for welcoming all of us into this middle-income tract home," McCain begins. He gets the laugh.

For 20 minutes, he speaks without notes, tells a favorite joke (punch line: "It's just the O'Reilly twins getting drunk again"), and manages to pair a winning self-deprecation with a seriousness of purpose, culminating in his declaration that his entire life has prepared him to become president of the United States.

This is a classic, by-the-book New Hampshire house party, complete with attractive blond political spouse, scruffy journalists, cameras, boom mikes, a campaign bus parked outside by the horse barn, and a thick blanket of snow. It is the great virtue of New Hampshire that someone who wishes to be president must get down on the level of everyone else, or at least stand no higher than the stage of a town hall or the third step of a private home's staircase.

There has been speculation that McCain is too old to ascend to the presidency; up close, you can make that judgment yourself. He shakes your hand, looks you in the eye, poses for a photo. Best of all, he takes your question -- directly. There are no filters. There are no informational middlemen. There's no news medium. It's just you eyeball to eyeball with someone who's got a notion of being the next (to use a phrase that's a little out of date) Leader of the Free World.

This is called "retail politics." It's how things are supposed to be done in New Hampshire. Citizens get a chance to look over a candidate and "kick the tires a little bit and check under the hood," as Barack Obama likes to say.

So much of what is packaged and distributed in American politics at the national level is, let us be honest, a lie -- or spin, or an illusion, or a partisan manipulation of facts, or something bought and paid for by special interests. Perhaps it's just bad journalism, or tabloid trash, or the mindless spew of cable TV shouters. You don't have to be completely marinated in your own cynicism to perceive that much of what we call "politics" is a farce, a sham, a travesty and a buncha bull malarkey.

Hence the virtue of retail politics. Retail politics might not cure all our civic sins, but it makes us feel better. The scale is so human and humble, the surroundings so picturesque. The enterprise seems more authentic. There's just the candidate in the flesh -- a real human being. If he can't think on his feet, it'll show. If he has the soul of a lizard, we'll know.

And so as McCain works this house party, everyone's feeling good.

Except . . . Except everything's different this time.

Starting with the fact that we're in the wrong freakin' year.

Yeah, there's snow on the ground as McCain works this house party, but it belongs to the wrong winter.

More than ever before, the campaign has become unmoored from the key event, the actual vote.

Somehow "The Making of the President 2008" turned into "The Making of the President 2007." Off-year presidential campaigning isn't new, but it's not supposed to be in fifth gear like this, complete with the Straight Talk Express barreling down those winding New Hampshire roads, the national media along for the ride.

Something about the presidential campaign process -- already completely jury-rigged and extra-constitutional and held together by elephant glue and duct tape -- has changed fundamentally. The path to the presidency has never been so tortuous and so expensive. This will be a billion-dollar presidential campaign. Candidates need to raise $1 million a week to be anywhere near the top tier. The calendar is front-loaded to within an inch of its life: On February 5, 2008, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and a passel of other states will hold their primaries. That's a Mega-Super Tuesday. The retail phase will be over by that point, and no one's going to be hanging out in someone's fancy house and trying to win votes one at a time.

McCain's got a good retail game. Seven years ago, he was Mr. New Hampshire Primary. No one retailed himself better. He had the media panting after him like a bunch of puppies. He actually won here! It was his political apogee, his golden moment. Can he recapture that magic? Can it be 2000 all over again? Or has the world shifted under his feet?

He works the various rooms and sees the big animal heads on the walls upstairs, and takes an extra 10 minutes to leaf through the mansion owner's photograph album. On his way back to the bus, he walks through the horse barn.

I ask him about the calendar and what it means for retail politics, New Hampshire, etc.

"Something is out of whack!" McCain says with a grin.

His campaign aides are trying to hustle him along, because he needs to get to Exeter, about 25 minutes away, for more handshakes, more snapshots. But the owner of the mansion stops him in the horse barn and reveals an old scale used for weighing horses.

We're 20 minutes late, someone shouts.

McCain is looking at the scale. Neat. Maybe he really likes to look at old barns and horse tack. We never really know what's going on inside a candidate's mind. Conceivably, he's such a veteran of retail politics that he understands that when someone shows you his horse scale, you danged sure better act as though you've never seen anything so remarkable in all your born days.

And what's the rush? It's only 2007!

A PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS NOT JUST A POLITICAL EVENT: It's a mythological narrative. There's a hero, and he or she must earn the victory somehow, overcoming obstacles, finding the strength to go on against daunting odds. The candidate doesn't have to be the Establishment favorite, doesn't have to possess the most money. The mythology states that almost anyone, with enough hard work and charm and pluck and stamina and gumption, can become the next president of the United States.

Listen to Bill Gardner, the New Hampshire secretary of state: "Ideally, we would all like a process that preserves the American Dream that anyone's son or daughter can grow up to be president. And you don't have to be the one that has the most money, or the most famous. That there's a process, and that you can start in a small place, and through the power of your character and your ideas, you have a chance."

[Click here to keep reading the article.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 19, 2007; 7:45 AM ET
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Next: Yau-Man For President


I can't be first, can I?

Posted by: Kerric | May 19, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

And up very early you are too, Kerric! I'm getting furniture delivered--what's your excuse? :-)

Posted by: dbG | May 19, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes indeed you are Kerric. First that is.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 19, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, early birds.
I hate when I work on Saturdays, because it's very slow and I end up reading alot of the good Sunday paper stuff, like Joel's piece, on Saturday. That kind of diminishes the after church paper reading hour. But I have no self control, so I read it anyway.

Joes says Hillary Clinton would stay on message even if a seagull landed on her head in the middle of a speech. I loved that visual. I have nothing against Hillary beyond the fact that I don't want her to be president. I really think that if she's the nominee, the Democrats are truly presidential toast in 2008. Sigh.

Posted by: Kim | May 19, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Stuck at work this morning. :-( Waiting for people to call in with broken computers. Been waiting a half hour so far and no bites.

Posted by: Kerric | May 19, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

It's Saturday morning, I'm feeling socaible. However, because it is Saturday morning there is no one around here to chat with so I've been reading through the news items. I hate the news, it's sooo depressing. At least it makes the time pass a little bit more quickly.

Posted by: Kerric | May 19, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Kerric, I'm actually reading the news as I wait for our IT dept to call back. I can't get into my e-mail, etc...wish I could give you my business.

Posted by: Kim | May 19, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Joel, that was brilliant. It covered so many excellent points that I can't think of anything to say that isn't just a regurgitation of something you said much better in the article.

Not that that's stopped me before.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Kerric - If you are bored you should write a nice letter to your mother.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, you could ask for forgiveness over that mushroom remark.

Ha, didn't think I was peaking in did you?

Posted by: dr | May 19, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning All !!!
Off today, but working my other job.I wonder if the infield at Pimilco is filled yet. If it were 30 years ago, I would already be there having couple of Natty Boh's. It looks like a beautiful day for the *Freakness* as BC likes to say. It is in the land of pleasant living. Have a Great day everyone!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 19, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey Kerric, don't you start work at 6, not 7? I'm never going to keep up with this shift change thing.

Posted by: dr | May 19, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I apologize for this regressive post, but I finally got a chance to read the Kennedy Bullet article.

My take is this: they are claiming that the evidence is insufficient to preclude the possibility of more than two bullets. That doesn't meant there were more than two, just that it is a possibility. So yes, one possibility is multiple bullets, but it seems equally plausible from the data that there was only 2. Therefore, if I were making this assessment, I would ignore that datum as being inconclusive and look at the other evidence. All of which leads to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

But I do have this insightful comment about this article. Boy, it has a lot of links.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I mean seriously, there's a link to Coke. Somebody seems to be having way too much fun here.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Off to drop off some books to a used-book sale that raises money for literacy. I'm all for literacy, and the great thing is, with all the space freed on my shelves, I can buy more books!

Then #2 and I will shop for birthday presents for #1, who turns 21 next week. Incredible.

Posted by: Yoki | May 19, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I just spent some time writing a post about how I miss seeing the Triple Crown and the Queen's Plate races. It turned into a diatribe on pro sports and cable sports channels.

Since I really know nothing about the subject at all, I stopped, and will just say, back when there were only 3 tv channels in most of this country, we saw a far broader range of sports than we see now. There was more than ever loving pro sports. You could watch Nascar you saw Grand Prix, you saw World cup skiing on a regular basis.

I used to really enjoy that. Something I could listen to, and read and stitch or whatever else I wanted to do. Those miscellaneous sports used to mean Saturday afternoon, accopanied by a cup of cocoa, and the smell of lemon wax furniture polish still hanging in the air from the mornings work.

Obviously I need a lot more coffee, if I am thinking about lemon scented furniture polish.

Posted by: dr | May 19, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

In the current battle for '08, Clinton, Giuliani, and McCain certainly did not emerge from the shadows. Obama has been a phenom, but his rise over the past months has still been spectacular. Romney has arrived enough to be included in the top tier. The enthusiasm for Romney is hard to actually feel. The enthusiasm for Obama is almost all something that is felt emotionally, it seems to me. Whatever the process is, two people have gone from relative obscurity to a 'decent shot', although they weren't in the picture a cycle ago. That's the process. Media, really. Some people connect, apparently.

If you look at France, they had massive turnout because of LePen, who ran second in the previous election, and messed everyone up. But France has been troubled. People wanted change. Sarco had been around for many months, but a few years ago? Isn't he a dramatic change? There was a lot of jockeying between Sarco and deVillepin. The true outsider was Royal, and she was a somewhat strained candidate. People wanted to hear the story, and then they rejected it. Oh, well... There certainly are parallels to America, despite vast differences in how the systems work. It's a media driven world, and people 'emerge'. When is the 'emerging' phase over? Isn't it over now? What's odd is that Dean 'emerged' last time, and then Kerry came back and blocked him. But Dean is still a power, he just failed to close the deal back then.

How much money do you have to raise to 'emerge'. Gee. If you have to ask... The money follows as you become noticed. Forbes poured his money into the thing. Has anyone who dropped out really represented anything 'special'?

Posted by: George Sears | May 19, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

dr I do start at 6. Note the 8:12 timestamp and remove 2 hours from Mountain to Pacific time zones. Currenty sitting on hold while my customer is talking with his IT guy, have been for the last 50 minutes. Yay he's hanging up on me. I was just hung up on and couldn't be happier.

Posted by: Kerric | May 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat conflicted about the whole National Day Primary thing. I mean, it's not like the early states in years gone by have done a job adequate to the rest of the nation. By the time the primaries roll around to Ohio or PA, it's a lock (or so it seems) and my vote wouldn't count anyway. Puhleeze, why should NH always be first?

But the millions that need to be raised for wider, earlier coverage does knock out viable candidates before we can hear their message.

I wonder how long it will take before an unknown, viable candidate starts really using the Internet. Someone with the guts to do that could bypass a lot of the early fundraising and get his/her name out quickly and cheaply, just one of the peeps, as it were (who hated that phrase?). It's just using what's already there in an innovative (for politics) way.

The NYT had an article this week on *Sex, Drugs and Blogging* which delineates how singers and bands have been successful with this approach. Just sayin' if everything isn't MSM and scripted to death, maybe production costs will go down. It just becomes web-articulating the vision thing.

Furniture arrived, it's great. In one of those small serendipities of life, I was just moving my previous loveseat to the curb when 2 people in a car pulled up and stopped. They got out and asked if it were free, and if I'd hold it for them until they could come back later with their truck. The (elderly) man told me in a heavy accent that he'd been an upholsterer for 50 years and he wanted it for his apartment.

Do you know how hard it is to find an upholsterer around here? He's probably taking a chair I want him to reupholster for me too. :-)

Posted by: dbG | May 19, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

This is what happens when you spend all your time thinking about how many milliseconds billions of transactions take to work their way through your internal and others' external networks.

Everything else that your fingers type sounds incoherent, ya' know?

Posted by: dbG | May 19, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes, >cars that scream 'stand back and let the Big Dawg eat... ' in his May 20 piece on cars.

Oh my, that is the best laugh I've had in ages...I can't stop, it just cracks me up.

Posted by: Kim | May 19, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Off topic again:

I am also very pleased to report that the 2 squared-off armchairs fit perfectly together, front to front, to make a little, completely-enclosed fort to recover in at the end of a difficult week.

Posted by: dbG | May 19, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Tom Tancredo's willingness to abandon medical fact sort of creeps me out. I thought I was used to the way that denial of reality is the basis for politics, but they keep surprising me.

Posted by: Blake Stacey | May 19, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Well put Blake. I found myself hoping he was just pandering to the "parent dealing with autism" vote and simply didn't know any better. Then again, what do I care. I'd never vote for Tancredo anyway.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 19, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
The central dogma may be Survival of the Richest.

Let's hope that dog doesn't hunt, but rather the central dogma is the Survival of the Truthiest.

For example, look how much shorter writing about McCain becomes--in the hands of op-ed columnist Paul Krugman in yesterday's NYT (Can MCCain retail himself out of this?):

What about the administration's state of denial over Iraq, its unwillingness to face up to reality? None of the leading G.O.P. presidential contenders seem any different -- certainly not Mr. McCain, who strolled through a Baghdad marketplace wearing a bulletproof vest, accompanied by more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees while attack helicopters flew overhead, then declared that his experience proved there are parts of Baghdad where you can "walk freely."

Posted by: Loomis | May 19, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I mean, really, will this upcoming presidential contest--like all others--be the Survival of the Fittest Playbook or the Fattest Pocketbook?

Posted by: Loomis | May 19, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I wish the pols would answer my simple questions: What is wrong with the way Washington operates, and how can we fix it? Right away we'd know how serious a thinker the candidate is; if they spew platitudes and half-truths, it would be discernable. If one opened up and was truly honest, it would impress me. If you do a tight U-turn in your ship of State, the passengers will surely complain, even if you were headed for an iceberg.

Things to do today: test the hardwood floor nailers; they have not been used in quite a while. Mow the front lawn. Buy a bucket of fried chicken and sides.

Posted by: Jumper | May 19, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, friends. Mudge, I read your piece in the last kit, and boy, was it an eye opener. And I agree with your assessment of the Civil Rights Era, a lot going on there. African-Americans depended heavily on their church life and the Christian faith to get them through those hard times. God was their Comforter and Protector, through Christ, and that is still the case.

JA, what an interesting piece on retail politics. Yet I'll bet one cannot get any of those candidates to say the words "I don't know" to a question, even if that is the case.

Hope your weekend is starting out great. I'm still in pajamas, and I just feel that way today.

Ivansmom, when I said I did not know that it was against the law to march, I really did not know. My comment was not a criticism of your content in talking to the Boy. There was and is a lot of stuff I did not understand doing that time. I was a child and my parents tried to protect us, and keep us safe. My knowledge of much of that time was from the evening news, seeing the beatings and water hosing of my people. The use of dogs on people just marching, and beating them with clubs. It was a terrible scene for a child as well as a grown-up. It instilled fear and lack of trust in many things in this world. I am what I am, and I thank God through Christ for loving me.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 19, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Okay, what's the official position of Washington on the China thing highlighted on the front page of the WashPost? Is this a cat that is out of the bag? Or is this a giant we can no longer contain? Is this a problem?

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 19, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to update the boodle with a bee report - apparently, organic bee keepers aren't reporting as many losses (at least, not on-line). Possibly the forced enlargement of bees by increasing the size of the combs for commercial production (natural bees are smaller, apparently) may be part of the problem. Along with pesticides, GM crops, etc. (unhappy and overworked bees in general - maybe they're on strike?) Here's the article link, which has all the other links:

Posted by: sevenswans | May 19, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, terrrists no longer seem to work very well, so why not bring China on as the Big Threat To America? Just as soon as those Dems finish losing Iraq we'll go with it bigtime.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Interesting-- I wonder if the bees are wider, too? Bumblebees are huge, but they're also solitary bees.

Wider bees would have more respiration issues, because insects don't have lungs-- just trachae in and out of the body, so the cross-section size is important for best respiration. Since bees routinely cool and heat the hives with wing flapping, they got to be at peak condition.

It does sound like we should let honeybees mind their own beeswax.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm puzzled. Four years ago my colleague and I examined the 54 presidential elections between 1789 and 2000 and developed an algorithm to predict the winners of future presidential elections:
The algorithm estimates electabilty by using a candidate's experience. For example, as Joel pointed out, candidates who have been governors do better than candidates who have been senators.

In 2004, we correctly predicted that Bush/Cheney would defeat Kerry/Edwards and now we've looked at 44 Democratic and Republican candidates for the
2008 presidential election:

The interesting thing we found is that the candidates with the highest electabilities (as determined by our algorithm) are not currently doing very well and the six front-runners have electabilities that are zero (for the Democrats) or negative (for the Republicans).

So what's going on? Are Republican primary voters really going to select a presidential candidate who is either divorced or a Mormon? Are Democratic primary voters really going to select a presidential candidate whose only experience as an elected national officeholder is four to eight years in the Senate? Or are we in for some big surprises in 2008?

Posted by: Eric | May 19, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Um, Primary voters are not rational. I mean, Kerry over Dean or Clark?

I've often said if Clinton had been runnng in 2000, odds are McCain would have won the republican nomination, because Clinton would have destroyed Bush.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful article.
This links to the archive.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"They're coming to take me away haha, they're coming to take me away!" The PanNorteAmericano Union conspiracy.

I trust the Canadian boodlers will be able to control their enthusiasm. I myself have obtained options on much of the property through which the superhighway would run. I'm currently offering to share this golden opportunity with others of sufficient financial resources. Those interested can contact me through the Bridge site (I still have a select few shares in that opportunity also).

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | May 19, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting (and for me, frightening) NYT article on the use of blogs for musicians:

An excerpt:
"Will the Internet change the type of person who becomes a musician or writer? It's possible to see these online trends as Darwinian pressures that will inevitably produce a new breed -- call it an Artist 2.0 -- and mark the end of the artist as a sensitive, bohemian soul who shuns the spotlight. In "The Catcher in the Rye," J. D. Salinger wrote about how reading a good book makes you want to call up the author and chat with him, which neatly predicted the modern online urge; but Salinger, a committed recluse, wouldn't last a minute in this confessional new world."

Aaand neither would I. I have a hard enough time answering emails from people I *know* (family gets first dibs). But that makes me a bit of a hypocrite, 'cuz I enjoy the blogs and conversations with my more obscure favorite bands already. So I want *them* to do it, but I don't want to do it myself.

But wouldn't it be Way Cool if the Achenbro got in on the musician blogging trend?

Posted by: sevenswans | May 19, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

A paper on the origins of morality, with a quiz at the end. I'm finding that even godless atheists tend to be near average.

"Haidt argues that human morality is a cultural construction built on top of -- and constrained by -- a small set of evolved psychological systems. He presents evidence that political liberals rely primarily on two of these systems, involving emotional sensitivities to harm and fairness. Conservatives, however, construct their moral understandings on those two systems plus three others, which involve emotional sensitivities to in-group boundaries, authority and spiritual purity. 'We all start off with the same evolved moral capacities,' says Haidt, 'but then we each learn only a subset of the available human virtues and values. We often end up demonizing people with different political ideologies because of our inability to appreciate the moral motives operating on the other side of a conflict. We are surrounded by moral conflicts, on the personal level, the national level and the international level. The recent scientific advances in moral psychology can help explain why these conflicts are so passionate and so intractable. An understanding of moral psychology can also point to some new ways to bridge these divides, to appeal to hearts and minds on both sides of a conflict.'"

http://www.scienced releases/ 2007/05/07051714 2545.htm

Some of the academic origins:

And more:;jsessionid=aaadnvD28x-1_P

These don't argue for religion as the basis of morality, BTW.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 19, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, everyone.

I've been outside working today, it's very pleasant.

I'm sure the Pimlico infield is up to full steam for the Freakness by now, greenwithenvy.

Hope everyone's having a good day.

Boy, do I need to catch up on the backboodling.

I should probably preface every comment I'm making here with an SCC...


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse


It started to rain a little here so I had to bag the tractor action for awhile and caught Milka Duno's qualiifying run at Indy. I knew her driving talent from sportscars but never really saw the lady. And then she started talkiing with that cute accent... sigh.

I'm smitten. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 19, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, to answer your question, the Colin Firth Edition, the only true edition.

I bought the new Pride and Prejudice movie. Though I loved the cinematgoraphy, and I really liked the interiors, on my initial viewing I thought Kiera Knightley miscast. She would have made a better Emma, or in this movie a better Charlotte, just not Elizabeth. Something tremendously inappropriate about her laugh for a movie set in that time period.

I love to listen to the commentaries with directors. You learn a lot about film making from the good ones (Ron Howard on A Beautiful Mind is a film school class all by itself), but this one? What I learned was that the director had no idea, missed the central point of everything. The director did not understand what marriage meant for gentlewomen of the time. Without that understanding, there are points in the story that just don't work.

Emma Thompson, the master behind Sense and Sensibility, re-wrote some of the dialogue. I've watched it a few times, and I think I can pick out some of the parts that she wrote. Brenda Blethlyn played Mrs. Bennett beautifuly, but Mr. collins was miscast as was Mr. Wickham.

Too many of the characters felt too modern somehow, as if they were dressed up in the clothes but they wern't really wearing them. I doubt they understood just how important the social conventions were to the story of the Bennet girls were either.

The same day. I also bought Bride and Prejudice, which if you haven't seen it, is so much better. Fully modern, fully Bollywood westernized, but it is a very honest version of the story. The only small critique I have is the gent who plays Darcy is good, just not perfect.

But then the only real Mr. Darcy is Colin Firth and the only real Elizabeth is Jennifer Ehle.

Posted by: dr | May 19, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Hi all (*waving*) -- I'm all in favor of mandatory voting. Failing that, at least have voting on a weekend day, not that people don't work on a weekend (retail politics, you see). Failing that, at least have time off to vote. As the last 6+ years have demonstrated, it does indeed affect everyone (nationally and worldwide) when truly awful people are elected because someone(s) didn't vote, for whatever reason.

I must admit, though, that I'm getting tired of the early worms in the ground, popping up to be president. Much too early for me. And then when the awful ads come on tv all the time -- I think then I'll turn off the tube (not particularly appealing anyway) and catch up on my reading.

And there we are. Do enjoy the rest of your weekend, fellow bloggers.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 19, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

DR -- I agree with you on the modern difficulties with these movies. Several friends could not believe that I found fault with Emma Thompson's interesting and lovely but flawed movie as you say here.

But here is my confession. I do not like Mr. Darcy at all. Never have....You may throw ugly yarn at me over it!

Posted by: College Parkian | May 19, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CP. I don't care who plays Mr. Darcy there is no way to make my heart flutter for him.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 19, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Great race, photo finish between Curlin and Street Sense.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 19, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that was one heck of a Preakness!

I think that Street Sense might have lost to by a nose.

In record time, I believe.


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Curlin nips him at the wire.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 19, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Because we get part of the Sunday WaPo on Saturday night, I just re-read Joel's article in the actual magazine. It was even better the second time around. The pictures help, as does the absence of those intrusive hyperlinks. (Seriously, are kickbacks involved or something?) And, of course, there is just something comforting about the feel of processed pulp.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I will wait until Sunday to read my Sunday paper, thank you very much.

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

For all the Jane Austen fans - a movie about her called Becoming Jane is due out sometime this year - with Anne Hathaway as Jane. I saw a preview on a DVD I rented recently. I have only read Pride and Prejudice as a teen, so long ago I can hardly remember it - and Persuasion on my vacation last month, which I liked very much.

firsttimeblogger, I agree that voting should be easier - polls open longer, over several days, or something. The county I live in is going to all vote by mail. What irks me about that is that you have to buy the stamp(s) - why can't the envelopes be prepaid? And good luck on your opportunity in Africa - hope you can still boodle when you're there.

Good race - that's why horse racing is so hard to predict. Looked like Street Sense had it, then Curlin got him at the end. I'm glad none of the horses broke down.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 19, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Seattle was the first place that I lived where you could get the Sunday paper on Saturday. I sort of enjoyed having the extra day to read it - and the news is always kind of old by the time it gets here anyway, so that didn't bother me. With the WaPo online, sometimes I read the next day's stories late at night. (When it's not so late here.) Now I'm making myself queasy.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 19, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

TBG - But..but..getting the "fun part" of the Washington Post is typically the highlight of my Saturday night.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

To clarify, the WaPo comes in two sections. The first section contains the advertising circulars, the comics, the magazine, and those parts of the paper that are, evidently, printed earlier in the week.

Sunday morning we get a second section which contains the more timely news - I assume this is printed overnight like the regular weekday edition.

Anyway, I do not know why our carrier chooses to make twice the work for himself, but I'm not complaining.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Something I forgot to mention eariler, EF.

I've met Ms. Duno in person several times, she's quite charming. If you liked what you saw on TV, you'd probably be even more smitten (smote? smoten?) in person. I think she's in the 500 field reasonably well, though I think she'd probably been happier to have averaged over 220.

For those of you watching the Nextel All-star challenge this evening, buckle up and enjoy the ride.


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

But I bet if you make that "fast woman" joke she will smile as she kills you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, a 5 pages kit, that has to be a record. I'll keep it for tomorrow morning. 16 wheelbarrows of compost, couple of trips to the dump and too much lawn mowing are interfering with my brains' working.
It's been looming for quite a while, given what some people derisively referred to as my career, but I'm poor. Daughter1 has been accepted at the college of her choice on half scholarship. I'm happy for her, I guess.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 19, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

>she'd probably been happier to have averaged over 220.

No doubt about it.

RD, that smile might be worth it. And four Master's degrees? Good grief.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 19, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of wimin', here I am reading the Saturday Vigil portion of the WaPo and I see that Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) is 50.

That is just wrong on so many levels.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. An incisive and insightful Kit indeed. It is marred only by (I can't type at all today, just retyped every word) the fact that IT IS TOO FREAKING EARLY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. I may have mentioned the strong opinion I hold on this subject. I do like the way Joel pointed out the little secret that the frontrunner usually wins the nomination. I never could understand Kerry as the nominee -- I actually forgot he was in the field for the longest time. I never thought he was electable.

Much heavy yard work today; the extended family is getting my cousin's place ready for his folks's 50th wedding party soon. This means getting our place ready too, since they are side by side and we'll have visitors. The last time we really cleared off his barbecue pit was for Ivansdad's & my wedding, umpteen years ago. Very tired now.

Cassandra, I understood you were really asking a question, but I welcome correction too.
Mudge, I was impressed and moved by your post last night on the sea change in your attitude towards religion and your involvement in the civil rights movement. I want to share some of it with the Boy, since we're on that subject anyway; I hope you don't mind. I was too young for that; I can only hope that, had I been there, or should a similar issue come my way now, I would do the right thing, as you did.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - In regards to your question of yesterday, I am reading "Shakespeare: The Biography" by Peter Ackroyd. Although it is a bit dry, I am really developing an understanding of Shakespeare the individual, as well as what London was like 400 years ago. I am hopeful that when I finally get up the courage to dive into the plays of Shakespeare, I may have a bit more perspective.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

RD, I hope you enjoy the Ackroyd for its own sake as well as its insight into the Bard. As Ivansdad says, anything you read in Ackroyd, generally, will probably be as hard as the plays themselves. Really, jump in. If you come to a tricky bit, read it aloud. Declaim, even. This may have the added advantage of disturbing your offspring. The rabbits might enjoy it.

Neither Ivansdad nor I think we have the Ackroyd Shakespeare, and I didn't find it in a quick survey, so I look forward to your assessment. We do have most of the other Ackroyd novels, biographies, and etc. (London, Albion, sort of location biographies I guess) because we both really enjoy his writing style. When he's on he's good.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

When I advise you to jump in, RD, I mean to Shakespeare's plays themselves, of course. Pesky things, these sentence objects. Nouns. You could always start with the sonnets, but warn your wife if you recite them to the rabbits. She might otherwise look at you funny.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Vaguely on topic, today Peggy Noonan has an interesting take on the Republican debates. [I like to glance at her topics and can occasionally read all the way through a Saturday column.] In her opinion, it is all about Fred Thompson, running a guerilla campaign in which he sneaks up and steals the declared candidates' underwear. Yep, that's what she says.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Be my guest, Ivansmom.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Went to the mountains today, over the natural bridge at Louise, and then back to Johnson's Canyon where we climbed to the upper cauldron. Excellent, and also tires the dogs (and me). So I'm back boodling like mad.

I could not agree more about the 2005 P&P; Knightley is far too modern for the story. And I hated that imposed ending. Did you know that in England, the movie ends with the wedding (as does the novel)? That last loverly scene was imposed on North America. But I still love the interiors, which are much more authentic than anything else we've seen on the screen. And even some of the exteriors. I am shallow, I admit, so care about decor.

Posted by: Yoki | May 19, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

In my opinion, Yoki, that "last loverly scene" was totally ripped off from John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles." All you needed was a Thompson Twins lead in to complete the de facto homage.

Ivansmom - I'm sneaking up on Shakespeare's plays. If I move slowly enough, I hope they won't get spooked and run off into total incomprehensibility.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I thought Ackroyd was an Agatha Christie murder victim.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 19, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

That's a good plan, RD, and one that can be used on other works of literature as well. Or could, if I ever read any. I try to sneak up on the things I write at work, for the same reason, but alas! with mixed success.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

LTL-CA, Ackroyd is a man of many faces.
Kind of like Mr. Stripey.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Ackroyd was last seen in the Blues Brothers, I believe.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I have driven the Boy and Visiting Friend (Ackroyd? surely not) away from the game box in our bedroom, so finally I can go to sleep. Ivansdad gets boy duty. Fondue.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I often see the entire Sunday paper in the Safeway on Saturday afternoon or evening--not just the extras that land in the driveway on Saturday that RD describes, but the whole, well.. kit and caboodle: front page, Metro section, Sports page, etc.

I often tell my husband that we should buy it and then bet on the Saturday night races, but he seems to think that won't work.


Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I got a fever, and the only cure for it is more cowbell.

Posted by: Jumper | May 19, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoyed Joel's article. Really showed on a micro level how New Hampshire works. As Broder also discussed recently, the primary system is, at best, in a state of flux and, at worst, about to become strangely skewed.

Joel's article pointed to the two extremes: the Mega-Super-Tuesday approach which would likely favor major candidates and, among those, the ones who happen to have the "mo" on their side, or the more traditional state-by-state approach which would, theoretically, allow policy and character to be more important over a longer "runway" period.

I believe that we have a classic problem created by our federal system. That is, can the federal government exercise any control over how states conduct their primaries for the upcoming presidential election? If not, yikes, in my opinion, unless the two major parties can come to an agreement how to move forward.

Goodness knows the last six and almost one half years demonstrates how important the process is to get the best candidate.

Great article! Did I mention that I can't stand Guiliani (be glad to explain why).

Posted by: bill everything | May 19, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't like any of the Republican candidates. At one time, I could have been persuaded to vote for McCain (well, that's not quite true - I would have preferred that he got the nomination instead of Bush, though) - but no more.

I like all the Democratic candidates, even Gravel.

If you want something to vote on, you can pick Hillary's campaign song:

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Meant to include this link to a snarky article:

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm very uncomfortable with this article:
"Important Concerns Over Mounted Chinese Taint"

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Miss Litella informs me that I misread the title of the article.

Never mind!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning,friends. Getting ready for Sunday school and service. Have to find something to eat and swallow the pills. Did absolutely nothing yesterday. Nothing. Well, I talk to you folks, but that was it.

I probably did not make myself clear enough, Ivansmom. I wanted to know more about such laws. I believe you said in your post that some places had enacted such laws to keep African-Americans from marching. Just wanted to know the legality of such actions and is that still posssible? Thank you.

Hope your weekend is going great.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 20, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Thread from above: I adore Jane Austen's books -- all of them, especially _Persuasion_. I just don't like Mr. Darcy and neither does Frosti. If RD and Ivansmom are the same person, perhaps Frosti and I were separated at birth.

I believe that modern psychology sheds light on the Darcy Phenom: women everywhere finding that the dark, glowering Mr. Darcy is crabby at midlife or sooner. So not fun.

Sorry Darcy lovers, here.

This from _Arthur C. Clarke and C.S. Lewis: From Narnia to a Space Odyssey_ (letters, etc.):

Letter from Lewis to Clarke, from Paddington London on January 20, 1954 includes this closing:
yours, emotionally and atomospherically, as well as logically,
C.S. Lewis

(the "yours" closing is on one line, without caps)

I first read 'atomospherically' as 'atmospherically,' which makes sense, sorta, too.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, a full blown laugh for the shallow/decor remark. And CP, is there such a thing as ugly yarn? Ok, if I have to I could find some acrylic stuff around here somewhere.

I had to rewatch the 05 Pride and Prejudice last night to be sure I wasn't throwing stones unfairly. No. no, I can toss away. The scene where Charlotte is telling Elizabeth that she is marrying Mr. Collins is the one I think Emma Thompson had a hand in. For some heart stoppingly brief moments, there is something so real happening on screen, even though there is nothing in the movie that shows me any of the reasons why Charlotte feels she should be marrying at all.

Cp, I'd really be interested in hearing about your views on Sense and Sensibility. Kind of curious if its the problems that generally arise in the tranfer from movie to book, or if there is something she missed on entirely.

I'm awaiting Becoming Jane with bated breath. It's going to be interesting to see what Ms. Hathaway can do. I hold great hopes for her. I've been trying to find Persuasion on video (95 with Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth). Like the book, I have a feeling that it will be the best of the lot.

Posted by: dr | May 20, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Cp, no offense. Its not really Mr. Darcy, though I like him better on screen than in the book. Now Captain Wentworth. There is a fine fellow. I like overall, best of all of Austen males.

I've often wondered what Austen would have written as she got more mature. Persuasion is so much more a novel of a woman than a girl. So much more depth, so much more real.

Posted by: dr | May 20, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh DR -- wish we were having tea about this, with Yoki, MostlyL and everyone else.

More later -- off to buy groceries and head to Mass.

I agree -- Persuasion is the work of a woman, the others, the work of a smart and excellent girl but a girl,none the less..

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Bob S, what I worry more is a situation like the cough medicine in Panama where the product is stamped made in Panama but raw material came from China. There is no way consumers can tell where some of the ingredient in their food or medicine come from. China has flooded our supermarkets with their products. They kill off other suppliers with their low prices and monopolize the market of a lot of produce. It's frustrating for me b'cuz I have been avoiding buying foods that are from China.

Posted by: rain forest | May 20, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Here's Joel's Outlook column this morning about cars, trucks, Americans, money, business, technology, and Survivor:

Naturally, I have many things to say about it, but I have to run to get started on my mom's garden.

I will be back later. That's a promise.


Posted by: bc | May 20, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

You're a good son bc.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all...

I was scheduled to be up on a ladder right now, but since rain is not conducive to painting and I'm electrically conductive, I figured it would be best if I stayed on the ground until the thunderstorms pass. Looks like inside jobs today.

Just read Joel's car piece in Outlook. Good work, boss. I liked the bit about instantaneous back hair growth caused by sitting in the driver's seat of a Hummer. Maybe you're onto something there, Joel -- cars as hair growth/loss agents. For example, I drive an old VW bus and my hair is now halfway down my back. I would rather not test my hypothesis, but I would imagine that if I were to start driving a Crown Vic my luscious locks would fall out.

And ladies... I think I am unanimous in my opinion that your threats of holding tea parties and discussing Jane Austen is giving me the willies. Mudge? Mudge? You up yet? Put down that morning mojito and gather up the boys. This could be serious. Let them have their "tea party" and next thing you know the bunker will be infested by doilies, furbelows and other frou-frou.

I will now retreat to the sacred workshop where I will purify myself with 50:1 2-cycle engine oil and offer up a fresh 2x4 to the God of Power Tools and Other Manly Stuff.

Peace. :-)

(this post brought to you by the number 54, which also happens to be the atomic number of xenon, a very noble gas indeed)

Posted by: martooni | May 20, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Mr. F rides his bike or runs to work almost every day (5.2 miles each way). He is also on jump status. Frankly, I worry more about his ride to work than his jumping out of airplanes. However, if "sexy" is what a 40 something male is looking for in a vehicle I highly recommend the bicycle.

Maybe Mr. Darcy could make my heart flutter if he had a cyclist's butt.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if we will see this Outlook article as an kit, or if Joel will keep the Magazine piece so as to maintain that big mo' going into his noontime chat this Monday?

Although I imagine a discussion of automotive matters will break out regardless. It's wired into the genetic code of many.

Which is not to preclude the continuation of a spirited discourse on the works of Jane Austin. (No relation to Steve.) And perhaps tea.

But for now I must tend to the garden before it gets frightfully hot. And then check the fluid levels on the cars.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Yes, that post was a grammatical nightmare. Clearly, I need to switch to a stronger brand of coffee.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Martooni reminds me that I should have prefaced my last comment with a note that Joel's column made me think of it.

Congrats on 54 Martooni!

Nothing like a 2 cycle engine to spur the muse.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Colin Firth also play Mark Darcy in *Bridge Jones*?

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Colin Firth also play Mark Darcy in *Bridget Jones*?

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Reading Time magazine this morning, back to front as has been my habit since the demise of Life as a weekly. What's this? "The Lavender Heart of Texas. How once conservative Dallas has quietly become one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities."

"As the Dallas visitors bureau gurgles,'[Dallas] has left behind stereotypes of big-haired women and rowdy cowboys-that is, unless you count sassy drag queens and strapping gay rodeo champs.'"

"...Ensorcelled by stivers and status, Dallas has always tried hard to be sophisticated. And the city knows a mathematical equation about American city life:urban sophistication rquires gay civilization."

Ensorcelled-I can't remember the last time I saw a word in Time that couldn't be shortened and typed with thumbs.

Reminds me of a neighborhood Civic Association meeting last fall at Chez Frostbitten South. The general consensus was that if we want a prayer of a walkable neighborhood without that blight of the Florida landscape-"gated communities"- "We need more of them gays."

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

SCC- ensorcelled by strivers not stivers.

dbG-was I really so dense as to not really notice Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones? Now I know why I don't like him either. For me, the second one is practically unwatchable.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

RD (always makes me think of the old-fashioned postal code of Rural Delivery, not to be mistaken for Rural Route, with is RR, of course): here is my coffee recipe. Buy small cans thusly:
Can 1: ON SALE whatever, however Chock Full o Nuts and Eight o' Clock taste best.

Can 2: THIS IS SACRED! the 11 oz Medaglia D'Oro Caffe' Espress can.

Mix in semi-equal portions.

I have been doing this since undergraduate days. Tastes pretty good , unlike, the burnt-sensation of CharredBucks.
As for Jane Austen and tea, well aitch-ee double toothpicks, the Achengals can chat up all her books with beer, on the sofa (covered with a clean sheet).

Frosti -- the bike is a godsend for middle-aged nether regions. My ride is about 1.2 miles one way. However, the two hill possiblilities are worth the sweat on the way in. A neighbor at the top of one hill once chanted the theme from Rocky I.

About Darcy: I hear that someone wrote a book about the marriage, set about ten years into the Elizabth-Darcy match. Anyone here know that book?

About interiors: Yoki, I share your secret. Love 'em. Occasionally will buy a Martha Stewart Mag for the FLOWERS but do appreciate the interiors. I pinch myself during some movies to remind that the class of people I arose from would have been the lowest of the scullery maids. Still: love em. I think the clothes in the Kiera Knightly version were off. Will have to watch and review.

The A/E Jennifer Ehle-version clothes were better. Will have to consult a couple of books, to say why. The empire high-waist and muddied skirts were fine....more later.

Like 'Mudge and Ivansmom, I was a theatre rat, but in the costume wings.

DR: Ciaran Hinds as Capt. W. was understated glory.

Emma with G. Paltrow as pretty good: Mr. Knightly's rebuke about her cruelty to the shabby, gentle clergywomen caught the spirit. Knightly is a more likable, flexible chap that Darcy.....

The movie of Mansfied Park was an abomination....

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, frosty.

btw... hope you guys don't mind me keeping track here. I still do my "tic marks" in my little notebook here at home, but making it public kinda gives me yet another incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

btw2... if anyone here (boodlers and lurkers alike) ever needs to talk to someone about problems with alcohol, feel free to email me at "sober" AT Anonymity respected and confidentiality guaranteed.

Posted by: martooni | May 20, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, your tick marks make my day, in a good way.

And, if the tick marks were reset...I would rejoice about the reset. That is a kind of courage too.

(Take this the best way, as I suspect you will. I come from a long line of charming peeps who were (some still are) powerless before the 'creatur.')

The getting back on is very important....for some, the lapse prevents or inhibits or delays the remount....

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Xenon, also known as the warrior princess, does not interact with Jane Austen or tea.

Here's an abomination that calls for a robust comment by Curmudgeon:

Posted by: Jumper | May 20, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

It is true that Charlotte is a little, um, opaque in almost all screen versions of P&P. I do, though, love the way the actress who played in the BBC version delivered the line, "I find I can bear the solitude very well."

Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

On cars:

One of the problems I see we have in yanking our transportation system into
the 21st century is that we have made our highways into a massive
freight-hauling system. I asked my sister, who has traveled widely in
Europe, if she saw a lot of semis on the roads there, and she paused a
moment and said "no."

Here in Charlotte we are getting an over-budget "light" commuter rail
system, and the irony of putting people on the rails and freight on the
asphalt is glaring to me but not apparently to many other people. People
tend to get nervous driving on roads crammed with huge behemoths with
howling engines, screaming tire treads, weighing 40,000 lbs and usually in a
hurry. They are attracted to SUVs and humvees out of fear. And then the rest
of us fear both the trucks and the SUVs, and feel the pressure to add a
little more steel to our next vehicle out of self-defense. What we have is
an American arms race taking place on our own highways. (insert MAD joke

Motorcyclists are seen as suicidal in rush hour nowadays. They sure get
great mileage, though.
The problems with bikes are pretty simple: no roof to keep off the rain, and
no heat in winter. I sometimes think Harley Davidson could come up with a
commuter car a lot faster than GM.

One of the neat things I like about some of the new hybrids is the recapture
of braking energy by braking with the alternator(s). I suspect the
automakers don't like having to include this technology and predict they
will short-shrift it on many upcoming various models.

Posted by: Jumper | May 20, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, just to let you know, I look out for your tick marks.

Posted by: rain forest | May 20, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

JA's "Truckin'" story was entertaining, revealing and prescient. Just this week a lithium battery developer reported tests on their battery in a Prius that achieved 125 mpg. (Lithium Technology LTHU). The road to hydrogen fuel is operational in some areas. Initial use of hydrogen power will be at those locations where the fuel is delivered, rather than provided at filling stations. A program to utilize hydrogen powered fork lifts is in progress and plans to power agricultural, construction, mass transportation and military equipment are under development. The developmental transition from gas to biofuels and hybrids and then to hydrogen will take time. Early Fords and horses shared the streets during a previous transition. High powered gas guzzlers will one day be about as prevalent as mounted police.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. I too look for your count, Martooni. Please keep reporting your progress!

Cassandra, most cities and towns have local laws requiring you get a permit for any march, parade, etc. on city streets or public property. At one time these laws were enforced mainly when the authorities didn't want someone to march: that is, any of the animal-based civic clubs (Lions? Elks?) or the Rotary were okay, even the KKK was okay, but not civil rights or antiwar marchers. Thanks mainly to Supreme Court decisions, cities can't use that kind of selective enforcement now. The rules have to be broad, have a basis in public safety, and be applied equally to everyone. In many places now the flash point is gay pride marches. In a real irony, a while back the ACLU (good liberals, right?) brought suit on behalf of the KKK, who had been denied a parade permit because they were the KKK (times had changed). They won. This was important because it really set out the idea that, if a group meets the requirements, a city has to let them march whether they're the Irish for St. Pat's, or the KKK, or the Nation of Islam, or the local high school homecoming.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I had to laugh at Joel's truck article. A glorified golf cart would certainly work for a large percentage of my transportation, and I've been looking for awhile but it's been tough to find anything. The ForTwo is apparently coming around and there have been others but nothing really practical. I think for most people the issue is they'll still need a "real" car, the "golf cart" will need insurance and it's going to be scary to be on the same roads as the big dawgs. But if you had enough of them on the road it would mitigate that quite a bit. The big truck would be an island instead of choking up the lanes completely.

I do know a guy who used to drive a Suburban about 45 minutes to work and attempted to get a little Mazda. Ultimately the insurance cost wiped out the gas savings and he gave up on the idea. So it's not like all thsoe people driving big trucks alone are ignorant of the situation.

But at the end of the day we are not rational creatures when it comes to our chariots. My heart stirs watching the commercial for the F350. Oh yes it does. There are a lot of farms and whatnot around here and those guys really do need trucks, so they're not going away. If they've got the money they'll err on the side of the Big Dawg everytime.

Fortunately my heart also stirs when I see a $15k Yaris with fancy wheels.

But if people are really serious about making a major difference in their gas use they should be driving motorcycles. A covered trike or something with what is basically training wheels would be stable and weatherproof, require no new technology or fuels and we'd all be getting 50mpg overnight. Corbin had something like this going on but they were predictably as expensive as a regular car and I think they went out of production as soon as they started. I think the safety regulations are the real problem with getting these alternate vehicles on the market.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Jumper beat me to it.

Shiloh, I still just don't see the hydrogen thing happening. Not many people even want to deal with diesel, nevermind hydrogen. Even the grooviest electric engine is pretty low-tech compared to a hydrogen tank, and a darn site less scary in case of a problem or accident. I just don't think it'll sell.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

SCC: site -> sight

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Sad fate of neat car. Great site BTW.

Now I HAVE to get going on this hardwood floor project.

Posted by: Jumper | May 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Joel... you spoke with Yao-Man? Cool.

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Slight caffeinated now. *Bridge* Jones, sigh!

Frosti, agree with you about the 2nd, although I always like watching the lengths Renee Z will go to to inhabit a role. Cold Mountain? Priceless.

On the accident thread, I live near 2 of the top 3 most dangerous intersections in the US, they're about 1.5 miles apart. Yesterday I was in one of them waiting to turn when 1 car broadsided another (both at fault, imho), which then spun backwards into a bystander car and then again to hit the front side of the same car. It's not always the trucks, guys! Sometimes it's the Cadillacs, Fords and GMs. I think I will be staying out of the turn lanes in these intersections from now on.

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Aside from their choice in vehicles, people need to think about the trade off they are making when they choose the "less expensive" and usually bigger house and lawn far from work.

If nothing else, our long residence in Prince William County taught us that every day feels like an "early out" when your commute is under 20 minutes. I worked 5 miles from home from '02-'05 and could never get the drive to under 25 minutes and it was far too dangerous to ride a bike because of a nasty stretch on Rte. 1. Mr. F's commute was at least an hour, and not all that bad for PWC.

Yes, our Tampa house is smaller than many of Mr. F's career peers' homes out in the Tampa burbs (halfway to Orlando some of them), and we have no pool but we are the envy of all who wish their families could spend more time together. Those who cite our higher property taxes for living in the city are not even aware of what their monthly commuting costs are. If they had to write a check once a year to cover gas, tolls, maintenance, car payment, and insurance they might get the picture. (Note-somewhat idealized version of life at Chez Frostbitten South since work and life have taken me north, but when I'm in Tampa we enjoy actually being in Tampa not "in the Tampa Bay area.")

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Here's the golf cart city:,_Georgia

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Bridge Jones the story of the wide bridge that was interested in the ornate walking bridge, but instead got involved with the suspension toll bridge?

My favorite scene was the one where the wide bridge and the ornate walking bridge finally discovered each other in the snow storm during rush hour.

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

dbG-Renee Z is remarkable, I'd like to see her more often. I found Cold Mountain unrelentingly depressing but Renee so worth watching.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Error: Peak oil, price and pollutants will be major factors in the hydrogen fuel economy of the future - probably 50 years away from general use. Specialty uses now in progress and under development will demonstrate and improve safety. Hybrids and limited use all-electric vehicles will rule in the interim. Inflation adjusted gasoline prices in the USA are still cheap at $3.12 a gallon. At the time of peak oil (the top of the bell curve in reserves and production) price will rise in reverse ratio to reduced production. In current dollars, $5 per gallon will provide impetus to hydrogen conversion, as will the progress of global warming and its consequences. The volatility danger of gasoline was once a rationale for Luddites and those who were laggards (late adopters) in converting from horse to automobile.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

TBG, "I like you ... just the way you are."

I can see the depressing part, frosti, but that didn't hit home with me. Neither my sister nor I could get through *Angela's Ashes* as a book (My sister said, "God, it's just like Mom!), but we both like the movie a lot.

I'm going to a graduation party, so bittersweet ripple extra-short shortbread are in the oven, and I need to make something for the guest of honor. Everybody needs another pair of earrings, right?

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Earrings, dbG? I'm sure they'll look lovely on him.


Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I'll send you a picture. :-)

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

dbG-I read Angela's Ashes and Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace back to back one summer when Mr. F was deployed to some third world backwater. I must not be prone to suicidal depression because I survived. My eyes were swollen shut from crying for some time though.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

DBG -- Always more earrings, especially the dangly-delectables you offer. (Ban the career button-earrings that must be removed to answer the phone!)

TBG -- hysterical bridge analogy....give me a footpath with stepping stones over the crik anyday.

Frosti -- hear on you the living close in....I have a sumptious garden in a small space...after ten years of sharing plants, buying on sale, growing seedlings, I have just what I want....a large yard would still be yawning and empty. I guess I am a city/country snob....don't want the in-between. Besides, the bike-to-work thingie and the push mower -- who has time for the gym.

And teens on the subway, in gaggles, have worked out fine. Hard to drive under the influence on the Green Line.

About books to movie successes, I offer the Lonesome Dove mini-series with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. My dad is Augustus MacCrae lock-stock-and-barrel. I think that reading the McMurtry books helps us all understand the westward-ho that defines the country even here, Back East.

Oh guys, here is my deal with cars: STATION. WAGON. PERIOD. With three kids over 24 years and tons of kidling-friends. Never a mini van, but I have had some Honda Odyseey envy at times.

Drove a 240 Volvo, used, for about 450 miles, before they became luxury items. Now I have a 2001 Sable-Taurus the color of a ceramic frog. Wagons are making a comeback but they are x-over and not always with the 7 seats for dudes, drum sets, soccer balls, etc. I have always had a bike rack, but the proletariat sort that hitches on with clips, not the Ultima Thule thingie of cooler peeps than me.

EF -- Ford 350, takes me back to Merle Haggard and Kitty Wells on the radio, sometimes Patsy Cline's Crazy and often, the black gentleman of Country adn Western: Charley Pride.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Joel's car piece reminds me of the Simpsons commercial for a mega-truck: The Canyonero...

Can you name the truck with four wheel drive,
Smells like a steak, and seats thirty five?
Canyonero! Canyonero!

Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down
It's the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown
Canyonero! Canyonero!

Hey, hey!
Twelve yards long, two lanes wide,
Sixty five tons of American pride!
Canyonero! Canyonero!

Top of the line in utility sports,
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!
Canyonero! Canyonero!

She blinds everybody with her super high beams
She's a squirrel-squashin', deer-smackin' drivin' machine
Canyonero! Canyonero! Canyonero!

Whoa, Canyonero! Whoa!

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I've ordered various versions of the move Pride and Prejudice, including the one with Laurence Olivier, from the library - as well as the book, and a couple others. Slyness is another Austen fan, but she must be busy.

TBG, the Simpsons movie is debuting next week - I assume you'll be going and reviewing for us? I've gotten out of the habit of watching the show - should get back in.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

What amazed me about Angela's Ashes was how funny it was, and at the same time how sad. His mother and relatives reminded me of my dad's family - they had a truly biting wit and told great stories - so I can imagine what their forebears may have been like. Far enough removed to be funny (and appalling) to me.

I've read some of Kozol's books, too - very sad. I'd love to hear some of the presidential candidates reflect on what he's written about education (which would mean they'd have to read him).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

>Patsy Cline's Crazy

CP, strangely enough that was the first digitized audio I had on a computer. A Commodore Amiga no less. It made for an interesting contrast.

Well I've had my (very late) breakfast and a nice ride through the country at extra-legal speeds wherever possible. Time for another ride on the tractor. See y'all later.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG, and remember everyone, tonight is the 400th episode of The Simpsons! Break out the beer and doughnuts and get your saxophone ready.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

TGB, great lyrics! I had better get to "The Last King of Scotland" soon so it doesn't run past 8:00 tonight.

Floor job cancelled, customers not home. Oh well.

Posted by: Jumper | May 20, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

>>"neighborhood cars" that are perfect for putt-putting around. Maybe they'd be communal property -- just grab one and go, like an umbrella by the office door.

That's one mystery solved. Now, if all my socks aren't returned immediately I will be forced to take legal action.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

mostly-I haven't seen the movie of Angela's Ashes but after hearing so much about the humor in the book I found the unrelenting grind of that poor Irish childhood almost too much to bear.

CP-we are twins separated at birth. In town, and preferably a very large town, and out in the middle of nowhere are my preferences.

Our 50'X 100' lot in Tampa is almost consumed by house and a good thing it is. Tropical climes give the gardener no rest and a suburban landscape almost demands hiring out the grass cutting if you want to do something besides work and mow. (Garrison Keillor did a very funny bit about what happens when people move to California and quit mowing their own lawn. A moral failing, he contends.)

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes, mostly, I've been busy this weekend...

CP, gotta disagree with you a little. Emma and Mansfield Park are not the work of a girl. It's such a shame Jane died at 41; oh, the masterpieces we lost! I understand where you're coming from on Darcy, but I adored this trilogy, which is P&P from Darcy's point of view:

This is the first of the three, which are really well written. I especially like the last of the three, which gets into the heart of the matter:

I am officially a redneck today, having spent a couple of hours in the sun yesterday watching my six year old niece and nephew play T-ball. What a complete hoot! But my neck is red and itchy. We had a fun day, driving a couple of hours to see them and spend the day with them and their parents, my brother and sister-in-law.

Posted by: Slyness | May 20, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations on 54 tick-marks, martooni!

Great song, TBG! Maybe it will get rid of the Jesse's Girl tune cootie I have today.

The Preakness was such a good, and disappointing, race. I keep hoping for a Triple Crown winner again in my lifetime. So there I am, yelling at the TV screen "Watch out for the horse on your right! He's coming fast!" Apparently he couldn't hear me.

Yesterday afternnon was the monthly "get the @#%^& weeds out of the flower beds" activity. I like the end result, but so depressing to realize it won't last long.

Don't know how I could drive any less than I do--just a 4-mile round trip to the train station daily. Although the morning trip takes almost 15 minutes because of all the high school students driving to school. Hey kids! Want to help the environment? Take the bus!

Posted by: Raysmom | May 20, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I never read Austen until after college. I admit it. I like her works, indeed. But I just found out MORE than one person has been busy writing sequels to Pride and Prejudice.

I'm afraid to read them lest I uncover explict love scenes written in pseudo-Austen prose. I don't think my brain would ever recover from the sacrilege.

And I second Frosti about the bike sexiness, although sweating profusely afterwards can be a turn-off.

Ideally you want to be fit enough to get at least 53 miles per gallon of sweat.

That reminds me, I need to hit the bike trails later with Wilbrodog.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The Bible tells us in Acts 19:12 "So that from his body was brought unto the sick handkerchiefs...and the disease departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." (quote not from the Bible, but from a flier; ellipse in the original)

Saint Matthew's Churches (Tulsa, OK) has been sending me prayer handkerchiefs, along with testimonials such as the following (ellipses in the original):

"Illinois -- 'Dear church, you sent me a blessed handkerchief and I wrote you back and asked you to pray for me. I didn't know how I was going to make it. The very next day, I received a [big]financial blessing. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you Jesus'"

"Maryland -- 'I wrote [you] and [you] sent me a handkerchief because my son was in jail, and he was going to court and I took the Handkerchief with me to court and through God's power and your prayers, God made a way for my son to come back home with us. That same day, I sent the handkerchief back to [you]. God also blessed me to fix up my house...'"

"Florida -- 'I put the Handkerchief in the Bible...and sent it back to you. I received a check for $3,500...I received a check for $2,500.00...'"

Many testimonials are related to monetary gains achieved after dealing with the prayer handkerchief, but others deal with some of the scourges of life--"My husband stopped drinking", "My son in law got off dope and joined the church".

The Church of St. Matthew is clear about their mission: "God tells Ministers to send out Handkerchiefs to people's homes, so that blessings will start in their lives. Use this Bible Handkerchief soaked with prayer, tonight, and return it in the morning."

A form comes with the Bible Handkerchief, allowing you to check off your specific need that the church can pray for, along with suggested amounts of money you might like to return with the handkerchief.

I've received at least three of these handkerchiefs by snailmail. They are made of paper, with an ornate handkerchief-like design printed on it. The first one had an image of Jesus (as a long-haired WASP) printed on it, with his eyes closed; if you stared at the eyes long enough they would (miraculously, according to the flier) open, giving you a soulful look. The later handkerchiefs had no image.

There it is, folks, the equivalent of "our hydrogen future" in Christian theology. Snark! Snark!

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | May 20, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I think we are close on this. I like _Mansfield Park_ but the movie was hideous. Northanger Abbey is the hardest one for me to warm to....better read it again, with the lusciousness of early summer around me.

I think JA matured quickly. (Did she die of Bright's disease? A kind of autoimmune smoldering condition?) I happen to love _Persuasion_ for the reason that most cite: a mature love, sweetened by loss, and enchanted by rediscovery.

I think that _P and P_ does show what a horse market the marriage dance was in those days. _Emma_ betrays an important critique about the ugliness of class.

And, again _P and P_ does show a father's deep love for daughters, but I wince at his playing of favorites. Mrs. B is hysterical, in her hysteria, isn't she?

Darcy DOES go a long way to protect Kitty, who nearly headed down the path of many a fallen girl.....

I think the idea that Darcy reforms, partly in the light of Elizabeth's independence is magnetic. The reforming of a good but flawed man by women: plot number seven on the all time list of plots. However, you catch me in the middle of my life, when I want to take Lizzie aside and warn her. But that is me, and mileages do vary.

Wilbrod -- the number of _P and P_ prequels, sequels, etc. Horrors. Shall not read a one of them.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Help choose Hillary's campaign song-

Anyone seriously think choosing a Canadian (Shania Twain), or the Dixie Chicks would help? The one world gov't conspiracy theorists would be all over the U-2 connection. Right Here Right Now is good but Jesus Jones will be mistaken for an undocumented individual.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Lydia, CP, not Kitty!

I am SUCH an Austen geek!

Claire Tomalin posits that Jane died of a lymphoma, rather than Addison's Disease. The reported symptoms fit better into that diagnosis, although anything is simply a guess.

Gotta agree with you about Northanger Abbey. It's my least favorite, but, after all, it is a satire.

Have you read Austen juvenilia? Outrageous stuff, there.

Posted by: Slyness | May 20, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

CP - thanks for that secret coffee recipe. I look forward to trying it out. Since we do not have "office coffee" at work, I usually either buy from Starbuck's or make my own with a little plunge pot. I am hopeful that with the trick you so generously shared, I will be able to rely on the latter more often. Alas, I shall doubtless waste the money I save on riotous living. By which, of course, I mean cinnamon pretzels.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I wondered about some of the song choices, too, especially the lyrics from U2's City of Blinding Lights (which I love). It starts with:
The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now

And Beautiful Day has this:
You're on the road
But you've got no destination
You're in the mud
In the maze of her imagination
You love this town
Even if that doesn't ring true
You've been all over
And it's been all over you

But lots of politicians have used the Beautiful Day chorus...Probably best not to overanalyze it...

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

We were the guests of a local politician at a Bruce Springsteen concert a few years ago. After the show, the pol's friends suggested he use "Born to Run" as a campaign song.

My then-14 year old son went up to the candidate and said, "Sir.. I don't think you should use a song whose lyrics include 'Baby this town rips the bones from your back; it's a deathtrap, a suicide rap, we've gotta get out while we're young' as your theme song!"

He patted my son on the back and said, "Boy! You need to come work for me!"

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Slyness! Thank you for saving me from Austenian sins. I don't know a thing about the juvenialia. are they hard to find?....thanks for the confirmation about NA....will just have to try to go into goth mode first...Mo! Are you there? Sprinkle me with gothic dust, please.

RD -- enjoy the coffee trick. With the MDOro (also called Cafe Nero in some markets) you get the good-bitter kick without the burn. I had enough burnt coffee in MT, over a campfire. Without the mountains around me or some real cowboys/gals, I'd rather not pay premium price for burned expensive and not typically free-trade, shade-grown coffee.

Slyness: Flannery O'Connor died of lupus. I do like her stuff: she was such a Catholic catbird looking at Southern gothic with a dead-eye. I think of her as better in the short story than the novel. Recall the bible-salesman who covets prosthetic devices. Unbelievable.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

MostlyL: I snorted coffee a few years ago when my dad remarked/queried:

who is that tough guy with the pug-Dublin face who is a rocker and works on debt-reduction?

Bono does look like casting ordered up a tough guy from South Dublin. Of course, no such place exists anymore since the money entered that green, formerly pastoral, country.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

CP, you may inspire me to try O'Conner. I just never really got into American authors.

Try this for the Austen juvenialia (the spelling of that word doesn't look right):

Posted by: Slyness | May 20, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone is interested, here are the dates for the Jethro Tull tour in the fall - mostly in the west and Canada (but also Bethesda, NJ, FL):

I'm getting pretty excited about this (I'm sure you can't tell, right?).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey.. I'm looking for a site host? Anyone got any ideas? Any leads?

Oh. Never mind.

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

TBG-good one.

Wag the Dog is on again. I swear this movie must be 100X funnier than it was when it first came out.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, you can read Austen on-line, including Persuasion, although some eyeball scarring may follow.

No, not the kind of eyeball scarring that came after the infamous Blue Thong Incident....

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, considering it didn't seem that funny at all, except that real life followed the movie a bit (Clinton bombed Afghanistan), I am sure you're right, Frosti. I'll give it a look now we all have a fresh president to draw the analogies to...

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Project Gutenberg may have given us Austen on-line, but it has not provided moveable type in the blog.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

dbG wrote - "By the time the primaries roll around to Ohio or PA, it's a lock (or so it seems) and my vote wouldn't count anyway. Puhleeze, why should NH always be first?"
- Posted by: dbG | May 19, 2007 09:53 AM -

I'm always a bit puzzled by that logic. To me it sounds suspiciously like: "If nobody catches me, it'll be OK to chisel a few extra bucks from the insurance company (or cheat [just a little!] on my taxes, or ... etc, etc ...)"

Isn't it worthwhile to help create a world in which there's just a bit less theft, or one in which a worthwhile (but losing candidate) gets a few more votes than he or she would have otherwise?

I think I've mentioned that in the most recent state/local elections, I refused to vote for any incumbents whatsoever. I don't think that my vote made any critical differences, but I was apparently not alone in my sentiment. Many incumbents (many of whom were perfectly competent folks) are no longer holding their previous jobs. I'm OK with that. Sometimes, when you close down a crappy plant, a lot of good workers lose their jobs. It sucks, but it's the way things are.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

To revisit my initial point, I'm not at all convinced that votes for a losing candidate are "wasted". I think that there's a broader vista that extends beyond any given election.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The only votes that are "wasted" in a representative democracy, are those that are not cast.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

The only votes that are "wasted" in a representative democracy, are those that are not cast.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

RD, I'm trying to figure out the meaning of there being no "office coffee" where you work.

Oh, wait, it's because we taxpayers would have to pay for it. Sheesh.


Posted by: bc | May 20, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

bc - yep. Even the meanest private contractor will provide free coffee for its employees.

But we're on our own.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

bc - I've never been much of a coffee drinker, but we had a (more-or-less) self-supporting "coffee bar" when I was a young Air Force guy. One could purchase a monthly card (at some reasonably nominal cost), or pay a per-cup fee. When military exercises (or annoying & inconvenient things like actual military conflict) put the whole squadron on 24-hour duty, the coffee was free of charge.

Of course, there was a good bit of taxpayer subsidy, given that the facility was rent-free, and the wages of whoever was holding down the two-hour shift were being covered by Uncle Sam.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Does everyone have their questions ready for Joel's chat Monday?

(I'm trying to come up with something. It's just too early for the campaigning, isn't it?)

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I've seen a few wasted votes cast.

I'm thinking of the 1984 Presidential election, where some people started celebrating Mondale's victory over the hated Reagan a little too early, before they'd even had a chance to vote. They staggered and reeled into the voting booths, laughing all the way. Who knows what they did in those booths?

When they woke up the next morning, their heads pounding, they definitely realized that they cast a wasted vote.


Posted by: bc | May 20, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

My very large corporation doesn't provide coffee - at least not to the worker bees. But they do supply bottled water, which is what I drink.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-I know Wag the Dog was supposed to satirize events during the Clinton administration but it could be looked at as a mockumentary of W's two terms. (Except the fake hero dies instead of testifying before congress about how tales of her exploits were lies).

Posted by: frostbitten | May 20, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

>there being no "office coffee" where you work.

We don't get company-supplied coffee or anything else. Water is $1.25. It's $1.70 for so-so StarBucks or you bring in your own coffee pot and go in with others. You can't have one in your cube.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

They voted, bc, so we know their votes were not wasted, "who knows what they did" is not as important as that they did.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

The empty coffee cup and beer can on my desk attest to the workplace of tomorow being here today.

Posted by: Shiloh | May 20, 2007 8:34 PM | Report abuse

As usual, Otter Creek leads the way! :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, I did not mean to imply that I don't vote for the candidate of my choice anyway. I'm puzzled why this makes you suspicious that I bilk insurance companies and the US Government! :-)

//Isn't it worthwhile to help create a world in which there's just a bit less theft, or one in which a worthwhile (but losing candidate) gets a few more votes than he or she would have otherwise?//

Sure. But Bush is still in office, so reality trumps theory. Who knows what the long-term theoretical effects are? I was happy to vote for Nader a long time ago when he wasn't going to take away votes from a potentially-winning Democrat. Did all those votes he got then encourage him to help shut out Gore? No idea.

As to my second point, why does NH feel their opinion is more important than any other state's?

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Error.

Posted by: Shiloh, Otter Creek, USA | May 20, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

//Isn't it worthwhile to help create a world in which there's just a bit less theft, or one in which a worthwhile (but losing candidate) gets a few more votes than he or she would have otherwise?//

My initial point was that since the states where I've voted are far back in the primary processes, I've never had a meaningful vote in the primaries. By the time I get to vote, the frontrunners are long-decided and in fact, the nominee is most probably already set. That's frustrating.

I understand your contention that no vote is wasted, however, I think the immediate and potential long-term practical effect of my vote is.

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I read the story on food imports from China.

Fortunately, dinner is a big mamey sapote fruit, obtained at the Robert Is Here fruit stand near the entrance to Everglades National Park. $12 and worth every cent for its pink creamy goodness.

In the political world, I wonder whether one or another convention will end up with the delegates pledged to a prospective nominee who has already suffered a fall from grace. That could make next summer kind of interesting.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 20, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was something of the sort, frostbitten. Too bad I don't remember enough of it at all to really enjoy the perverse parallels. I will have to see it again.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

dbG - My apologies. I was doing a very poor job of making a connection between certain sorts of thought processes, and unfairly allowed you to be caught up in the mix. I'm bad! : (

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Bob S,

Michael Jackson *Bad*?

One of those potential e-dating matches who's 60 and still thinks of himself as the *bad boy of SE PA psychotherapy*?

Bad Sneakers *Bad*?

Bad News Bears *Bad*?

It's okay, we like you just the way you are.

Posted by: dbG | May 20, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Since my wife is a _P and P_ groupie, I have to make one defense in favor of the 2005 movie. The art direction and set design is so much better than the BBC version. The pigs and filth make you realize how much more desparate they are. Also Donald Southerland was great.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Milk that's been in the fridge 10 weeks too long type of "bad"?

Yeah, I know that was a cheesy shot.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I've never worked anywhere that didn't have free coffee. Which is fine except that I don't drink coffee. I prefer my caffeine cold. My current job does offer 25 cent sodas, so that counts for something.

I've always said that heroin increased productivity, companies would run needle exchange programs.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Crickets busy tonight, at a volume I have not heard since last summer.

Can lightening bugs be far behind?

Posted by: College Parkian | May 20, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

yelloj - 25-cent sodas? Now that's a job bennie that would mean a lot to me!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Aaaahh yes, I remember the many times that yellojkt has opined, "Heroin increases job productivity!"

Oddly, corporate America hasn't caught on yet!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

My hazy memory tells me that this was mentioned earlier, but here's another vote for the story about Stu Kennedy's collection of stories from the diplomatic corps. Great stuff. I'll be spending a bit of time at the Library of Congress website, fer sure!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Free coffee & tea and cheap sodas is pretty common in software -- a programmer is a device to convert caffeine into lines of code. (derived from Paul Erdos: a mathematician is a device to convert coffee into theorems)

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 20, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

...... "These don't argue for religion as the basis of morality, BTW."
- Posted by: LTL-CA | May 19, 2007 04:26 PM -

Well, even most religious folks don't actually argue for religion as a basis for morality, per se. (i.e. - Morality is what it is, as handed down by the Giver. One's belief, or lack thereof, in the Giver is immaterial.) They just have a hard time believing that being moral (or more properly, living a truly moral life) is possible without reference to the Giver.

ummm..., I think. :-)

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

A slight expansion: "They just have a hard time believing that being moral (or more properly, living a truly moral life) is possible or worthwhile without reference to the Giver

Posted by: Bob S. | May 20, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Some hard questions of life can't be googled, such as:

If I was heading out over land from Alexandria, in a red-hot hurry to find the nearest bit of Chesapeake Bay to splash my blue bottom in, I'd be heading out Woodbridge way to Belmont bay or Mason Neck, right?

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 20, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted a little quick something related to Joel's Outlook piece to the 10thcircle:

I've been thinking about my next new car purchase.


Posted by: bc | May 20, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

What kind of car are you thinking about, BC?
My new car is a bicycle.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 21, 2007 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - Well, there are some issues with defining the question, but to reach the Bay "proper", the shortest route would be to take the Beltway to Md. Route 4 (OK, OK, technically, you should get off at Suitland Parkway, then join Rt. 4. Sheesh!), then head out east until you join Bay Front Road (Md. Route 258). At that point, it's less than ten miles to Deale Beach, Churchton, & Broadwater, all of which are on the Bay. In tha absence of traffic (HA HA HAA!!! Gosh, I amuse myself sometimes!), it SHOULD only take 25-30 minutes from Old Town. Realistically, plan for 45 minutes if traffic isn't an issue, and obviously it goes up from there!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

I, however, would consider Mason Neck & Leesylvania Parks to be reasonable substitutes, and they're a bit closer.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

bc, I pretty much concur. Here's a repost of my late-nite meditations on Why We Keep Trucking:

1. Joel mentions "hitting" a button. I haven't checked that as native Gainesvillean (when you live in Gainesville, most of the people you run into are from somewhere else. Even if you worked for the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission). In most of the Southeast, buttons seem to be mashed.

2. I live in a town full of large cars driven by very elderly individuals. Even big red pickups periodically get creamed.

3. North of us, where I visit weekly, is Brevard County, where people drive like victims of the rage virus in "28 Weeks Later". The latest dead are from a car that tried to pass a big truck on the shoulder of I-95. Clipped the truck, smacked into tree. No seatbelts. I-95's casualty rate is no doubt lower than the road to Baghdad Airport, but if a commuter train system had a tenth as many casualties, the management would go to prison.

4. Then there's the debris that fly from trucks (formerly a Palm Beach County specialty). Dismembered pieces of trees. Roof shingles. Wash machines. Gravel. Somehow, a Ford 500 seems a bit likelier to survive than my Focus.

5. Miami. This year's winner of the road rage prize.

So I'm NOT going to trade my Ford Focus for a Mini Cooper or a Honda Fit, even with a dozen airbags and electronic stability control (ESC). Sometimes, a bright yellow H3 almost seems a good idea, or maybe an Xterra. Toyota FJ's don't look menacing enough--too cute. Maybe the Minimum Acceptable Car could be this fall's Subaru Impreza hatch, rumored to have ESC.

Not long ago, people at my workplace were buying . . . let's see . . . Expedition, BMW SUV, Nissan Xterra, pickups. Now, there's three hybrids and a couple of motorcycles.

GM and Ford seem to make competitive smaller cars for the European market. But Ford won't sell its spiffy Euro-Focus in the US because the price would be too high. Maybe because of Toyota's and Honda's reputations in the US? How about Joel taking a ride with Warren Brown? Could Warren sell Joel on a nice Buick?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 21, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

DaveoftheC - It's one of the subjects upon which I'm prone to babble, so I shall!

As Joel pointed out, we tend to buy vehicles which are VASTLY overpowered for our actual normal needs, with a consequential cost in fuel economy. A two-cylinder motorcycle with a displacement of 250-350 cc's (that's a quarter of a litre -- let me do the math - carry the two, umm... about 20 cubic inches) is quite capable of carrying a single rider with a bit of baggage to speeds well in excess of 100 mph with a briskness that qualifies as... intimidating, verging on heart-stopping. It can take two riders, with even more baggage, to almost the same top speed a bit more sedately. A two-cylinder car with a little more than double the displacement (let's go crazy and call it 1000 cc's, or about 60 cubic inches) is quite capable of moving four people and a good bit of luggage down the road at speeds which noticeably exceed legal limits, and will probably deliver (if driven somewhat calmly) gas mileage in excess of 50 mpg. But that car won't attain those speeds instantaneously.

When, oh when, oh WHEN will Departments of Motor Vehicles, insurance companies, school driver education programs, parents teaching their youngsters to drive, and the local constabulary start stressing the importance of proper following distance, and the disincentives inherent in rapid acceleration? The reason that little old ladies feel the need for "big dawg" Hummers is because so many folks feel that nature abhors a vacuum in the form of an extra car-length of following space, and will make wild manuevers (much easier to perform with plenty of acceleration, and good brakes!) to ensure that the vacuum is filled.

A little math is sufficient to show that traffic is always slowed to a crawl when following distance drops below average reaction time, because SOMETHING will always occur which requires a quick reaction (which, at reduced following distances, won't happen quickly enough) and the cultural abhorrence of generous following distance, combined with the preponderance of high acceleration vehicles, guarantees inefficient traffic movement. Fast, slow, fast, slow, stop for a while.

Even very fuel efficient vehicles would be inefficient in that traffic pattern, but the relative rarity of slowly-accelerating vehicles on the road, combined with a lack of education & enforcement of tail-gating rules, has helped perpetuate those conditions. hmmm... I think! :-)

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Doh! The Simpsons movie comes out *July* 27, not next weekend. A thousand apologies.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 21, 2007 1:08 AM | Report abuse

You've been very busy, Joel. Very informative article on the presidential race. I keep forgetting the actual election is in '08. But what about the fact than Clinton (the dark horse) was able to beat Bush Sr (barely) because of Perot. It is still possible. However, my son, who loves politics, believes he will need to become a multi-millionaire first (good luck!) and then go into politics, where he excels.

It was so nice getting to read the hard copy Sunday WP. So well-done. Great colors and pix. Much harder to cover everything I might want to online. I could buy it out here but at double the price, etc. Oh well.

And cars...for the foreseeable future (10-15 years?)...either pay up and sacrifice elsewhere (unless you are the growing rich folks section) or bite the bullet and get a higher milleage car. I did.

Posted by: Random Commenter | May 21, 2007 1:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure that Clinton beat Bush the First "because of Perot", any more than I'm sure that Bush the Second beat Gore / Kerry "because of Nader", or "because of Ohio / Florida", or "because of the Supreme Court".

The thing of which I'm quite confident is that none of the aforementioned candidates convinced the vast majority of the electorate that they were uniquely suited to the job.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 1:38 AM | Report abuse

By the way, the only non-Republican Presidential candidate I've ever voted for was John Anderson. The reasons are varied and complicated, but there you go.

I'm quite willing to consider voting for H. Clinton, but she doesn't really move me. I honestly believe her to be well-intended, but I'm not certain that I believe her to be willing to walk away from it all if her principles collided with expediency.

I think at this point that I'd be willing to take a bullet for B. Obama. Unless he does something that really disappoints me, I think I'm going to be devoting at least a bit of money, time, and my not-always-inconsequential persuasive powers to this guy. OK, OK, he's 14 years her junior (Ohmy, oh my. He's my age. I may have to re-think this!) but I'm just naive enough to think that (if he can collect a sufficiently experienced staff around him) he's gonna be something special for this country.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 1:56 AM | Report abuse

On to a less-complicated (but still potentially-explosive) subject:

For reasons far too uninteresting to explain, I'm re-reading a Harry Potter book (#6, in case you're counting). On the second page exists the following: "The bridge was fewer than ten years old, and the best experts ..."

Now, I think that I'm fairly conversant with the rules which govern these things, and I think that I'd have gone with, "... bridge was LESS than ten years old ..." but I'm willing to be enlightened.

Posted by: Bob S. | May 21, 2007 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Bob S.:
In general, "fewer than" is used in relation to distinct units -- such as a number of people, or widgets -- and "less than" is used for quantities that aren't so divisible ("continuous data," if you like). For example, you would say, "There were fewer than ten people in the room," but "There was less than a mouthfull of beer left in the bottle."

So "fewer than ten years" is, technically, correct -- although I would argue that it's a bit formal, since you could look at that ten years as a chumk of time, or a decade, in which case it's perfectly acceptable to say "The bridge was less than ten years old."

[I can't really believe I'm encouraging the use of "less than" in this case, given that it's so often misused, i.e., people are more inclined to say "less than" than "fewer than," even when "fewer than" is called for.]

Posted by: Tom fan | May 21, 2007 5:06 AM | Report abuse


Joel's writing feverishly. A 3 page article in "Style".

Posted by: rain forest | May 21, 2007 5:17 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Tom fan | May 21, 2007 5:37 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Only 7 more U.S. dead in Iraq. I'm glad to see things are going well.

Bob wrote: "Even very fuel efficient vehicles would be inefficient in that traffic pattern [stop and creep]...." Beg to disagree, Bob, Hybrids tend to use little or zero gas in those situations, because the engine shuts off completely. Full hybrids can creep purely on electric. And even minihybrids like the Honda Civic shut off when stopped and under about 15 mph when stopping.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 21, 2007 6:25 AM | Report abuse

bc in his blog says he wants "an electric car capable of carrying a family of 4 and all their luggage for a weekend trip for 500 miles at 75 mph through the mountains before needing a 4-hour recharge from a U.S. standard 120V AC electrical outlet."

Nothing wrong with that. I went to the dark side and bought a mid-size SUV (the Hyundai Sante Fe) because our family needs the occassional cargo capacity. I am hauling around an extra thousand pounds every day for the once a month time I need to actually fill all four seats or bring an ice chest and case of water to my son's overnight rocketry trip.

I live about twelve miles from my work which is close in the scheme of things. My office has lockers and showers, but there is no safe bicycling route from my house to work, so I have to drive.

I was also looking at a Subaru Forester which is the SUV of choice among the granola set, but went with the bigger Korean import on the rationalization that I could throw my bike in the back and go for a ride on the BWI trail on my way home from work.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2007 6:41 AM | Report abuse

Major SCC:

IF heroin increased productivity, companies would run needle exchange programs.

Sorry for the confusion. You will notice that at most places provide a wide variety of caffeine paraphernalia. If marijuana increased productivity, you would find rolling papers next to the coffee filters.

My work also subidizes "healthy" snacks in the vending machine which includes animal crackers and fruit chews. I have yet to find any real nutritional difference between the 25 cent healthy snacks and the 65 cent junk food but I go for the cheaper ones anyways.

They also set out in the lobby a welcome tray every day of celery, carrots, brocolli, and ranch dressing. If you could avoid the ranch dressing, that is a perfect place to graze.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2007 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Rain Forest, for both links. I have a little 'barb in the fridge now. This batch is perfectly-tart. I have not tried the drink options since, the lure of rhubarb on vanilla ice cream is such a siren song.

Seedlings are a bit slow this year, due to the chill. But, zinnias (Green Envy and Purple Prince) are about three inches high. The seven sunflowers -- Jade and Lemon hybrids -- I started on the radiator are about a foot high. Spider flowers are a squat two inches but nicely wide. The reliable Cosmos are about a foot but leggy.

No luck with foxglove (yet?)-- the holy grail of faux cottage gardening. Hope springs eternal. Or I am fool for digitalis.

The ringer? About thirty one-inch high Nicotiana -- Scented Tobacco....they have been the same size since I set them out two weeks ago.

Moonflowers and morning glory holding steady, but waiting for night heat to start climbing.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 21, 2007 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Yello, my RAV4 is almost a year old and gets 22.5 mpg in city driving and 25.5 on the road. I try not to feel too guilty about this, even though it's much better than the minivan I had before. My husband insisted on getting the big engine (240 horsepower, IIRC); I do feel guilty about having the excellent acceleration. But I like it...

Got gas in SC Saturday when we visited my brother. Regular unleaded was $2.969. The station had E85 for $2.819 but I wimped out and didn't try it. Anybody got experience with E85?

Posted by: Slyness | May 21, 2007 6:53 AM | Report abuse

My Sante Fe gets right about 20 mpg. My eight-year old four cylinder Camry never got much better that 25 mpg, so I'm paying an extra 20% more for gas for the comvenience. I sleep at night.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's another link for you CP:

Posted by: omni | May 21, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Another link for you CP:

Posted by: omni | May 21, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

The Friday Wall Street Journal had an article about telescope vacationing - people that go to places just to see the large observatories. The Keck in Hawaii was featured prominently. Who knew ScienceTim was such a trendsetter?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I actually did post that twice, sosorry...

Posted by: omni | May 21, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Snow in Grand Forks yesterday, three hours to our west, and snow in Duluth, two hours to our southeast. Chez Frostbitten North survived without a nip of frost and the temp soared from 35 to 45 over the course of the day. It's supposed to be warmer and rainy today. Our English Spring may arrive just in time for Memorial Day.

CP-I am a bit relieved to read you don't see foxglove yet. I have been examining the spots on either side of the astilbe where digitalis should be but no signs of renewed life yet. At least I can see where they were. The late sprouting columbine is invisible, and perhaps gone forever. I killed many in NoVA even though Frostdaddy is quite successful with them in Newport News where theoretically they should be tricky.

Slyness-Minnesota law requires very wide distribution of E-85. According to those "news you can use" blurbs on the local television station-The tricky thing is that your vehicle needs to be "dual fuel" capable to use E-85 without experiencing a reduction in mileage which defeats the purpose of using E-85 in the first place. I have not used it in my country pick-up (a small, not 4WD 4cylinder Toyota Tacoma)but have been sorely tempted at times. Not lately though. The surge in corn prices caused E-85 to be a dime more than regular unleaded for most of the winter.

By the way, I bought the country truck in NoVA and it was very difficult to find a basic 4 cylinder truck never mind facing the sales force trying to get me to move up into something "safer." I finally just told the sales person I'd strap a rocket on my back and compete for the Darwin Award if it would accomplish the job I had to do. I don't need flash to haul horse hockey and 6 or 8 cylinders seem a bit much to haul flats of pansies.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 21, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

I'm sure it would be more environmentally sound to send Stella the VW Bus off to that "Big Dead Concert In the Sky" and buy something new (pollution control technology in 1970 was pretty much non-existent), but I just don't have the heart to let the old girl go.

She does okay on the gas (15/18 city, 21/23 hwy) and still runs perty good (even with a stuck valve). No major body parts have fallen off on the road (though the sliding side door did kinda fall off the other day in the Home Depot parking lot -- was able to fix quickly, but not before attracting a small crowd of curiosity seekers).

I'd love to get my hands on an F250, but not really interested in the second house payment. I suppose we could get an extended cab, sell the house and move into the truck, but what would we do with all the extra space? Mrs. M. would want new furniture.

Anyway, I'm off to play with industrial strength acid (and no, not the fun kind that makes bricks melt -- this is the kind that *really* melts bricks). Assuming I don't accidentally take a bath in the stuff, should be back and boodling after lunch.

Peace out...


Posted by: martooni | May 21, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

My '98 Sonata gets about 29 highway and a ticket for me for driving with expired plates and no inspection city.

Posted by: byoolin | May 21, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Omni -- thanks for confirming that I am the culinary trendsetter (but near the league of our angel the Contessa of Alberta) while SciTim is the king of nerd-telescope vacations.

Frosti -- laughing, laughing, laughing about you hauling pansies with such engine restraint.

Neighbor just topped off his mid-life crisis with a big ole mid-size king cab trucklet.....will have to report on the make and model. (He has a lawn service....I have not watched him haul mulch or soccer balls in ten years.) He may have the truck, but I have the real-deal s%$#t-kicker boots in my closet, and a boot-jack installed at the back door. The yen for faux Western hard-working, hauling vehix will bring us to our knees, oilwise.

Ah, yes. I believe we have been on our collective knees a while....

Posted by: College Parkian | May 21, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Whoopies, missed a word: nowhere NEAR the Contessa of Aberta....

Does anyone else get a "Netscape is unhappy and closing now; Care to send report?" message when they preview the post?

Posted by: College Parkian | May 21, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, you made me laugh with that...four cylinders are enough to haul flats of pansies, indeed! My husband has a Dodge Dakota, which he calls the little red truck (compared to fire trucks, which are big red trucks). It gets about 13 mpg, unless he is towing the cargo trailer; in that case, it gets between 3 and 4 mpg. However, the cargo trailer is essential for its intended uses so I sleep at night also. We used it Saturday a week ago to deliver a load of furniture to a deserving Sudanese family and then to pick up 50 bales of pine needles.

I suppose we have to consider the use of a vehicle before we get hot-and-bothered about its fuel economy. Right before I retired, I had the opportunity to take a spin in the Fire Department's new aircraft crash/fire/rescue vehicle. It has an 850 horsepower engine and gets point seven miles to a gallon (0.7) of diesel. It's not a good day when it has to go more than 2 miles to reach an emergency.

Posted by: Slyness | May 21, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

New kit, riffing on the car-energy-President themes.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 21, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, look away. From CNN: "Fire guts historic Cutty Sark".

>I suppose we have to consider the use of a vehicle before we get hot-and-bothered about its fuel economy.

Slyness, that's what I keep saying. My co-worker who tried to go the 2nd car routie with the Mazda was driving a Suburban alone to work, but when home he was carrying around 3 kids and 2 dogs, band equipment, trailering ATV's and whatnot. Pretty hard to do in a Focus.

bc, I tried to leave a post on your site but something went awry. I have to second yellojkt: You need a TARDIS. Bigger inside than out is the giveaway.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 21, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

CP, we have a bumper crop of rhubarb here, and I only tasted it for the first time last week other than in strawberry-rhubarb jam.
The rhubarb-strawberry pie and cobbler were pretty good, but I'm definitely open to ideas how to eat it without all those strawberries.

Posted by: WIlbrod | May 21, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Joel:
Typical eastern media blubber on the matter of trucks, referencing your column, "Why We Keep on Truckin." Clearly, you have no clue.
But, first, some observations.
>Ford WAS silly for giving a F-350 Super Duty to a California urbanite. What's he going to use it for? But you are silly in knocking the F350, especially the diesel model. Ever been to West Virginia, dude? Lots of 'em around there. Try hauling mining or farming equipment up those hills in a Prius. Dumb eastern media idea, if you ask me.
> And what about the Prius? What's the fuel economy rating real world? About 45 mpg--nine miles more than my Toyota Echo for $11,000 more, barely 10 miles better than a full-luxury Mercedes-Benz 320 CDI diesel, 35-percent less mileage than ANY comparable diesel-electric. Get real, dude.
>And have you noticed the SALES INCENTIVES on the Prius, the $2,000 worth of optional equipment sold as standard to keep the car selling? What company puts sales incentives on a hot-selling car? None. Why is Toyota doing it? Because Americans drunk on cheap gasoline had stopped buying Priuses.
Hmmm? Any sales incentives on the FJ Cruiser? Any?
> You are TOTALLY wrong, flat-assed wrong abut the dynamics of the truck market. Facts are, overall truck sales are down. Facts are, overall mid-size and full-size SUV sales are down. Why? Because the poseurs, the people who wanted trucks and SUVs just to look tough, are backing out of the market.
But you are right about one thing: Although truck sales are down, the segment still remains strong. Why? Hell, dude, look at the building going up right next to The Washington Post. You think contractors are hauling all of that stuff in Priuses? Get real.
> And you clearly know nothing--zilch, nada--about existing truck fuel economy--nothing about dual-mode hybrid systems, nothing about diesel-electric hybrids for over-the-road trucks, nothing about displacement on demand.
So, here's the deal: I'm taking your perceptions to task tomorrow in my radio show, "On Wheels With Warren Brown," WMET World Radio, 1160 AM on your dial, on your laptop, 12-Noon to 1 pm, Tuesday, May 22. You are invited to call in and throw-down at 866-369-1160. Let's get it on, my brother.

Posted by: Warren Brown | May 21, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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