Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Boy On The Bus: Annotations

Today at 1 p.m. I'll do an online chat about my story on busing and school integration. You can send in a question in advance.

Here's the article. I'm going to pull out a few graphs here and there for annotation.

The Supreme Court had issued a desegregation order. It was 1970. Men had landed on the moon twice. Now white kids and black kids would go to the same schools.

This was, obviously, a full 16 years after Brown v. Board of Education. In the meantime the segregationists had figured out all kinds of ways to delay integration. They seized upon the Court's edict that schools integrate "with all deliberate speed." Deliberate, they argued, meant very slow. An African American man named Virgil Hawkins spent the better part of a decade, starting in 1949, trying to get into the University of Florida law school. In 1957, the Florida Supreme Court rejected his appeal, saying "violence in university communities and a critical disruption of our universities would occur if Negro students are permitted to enter the white universities at this time." The court said that Hawkins could continue to plead his case, but only if he could prove that his presence at the all-white school wouldn't cause "great public mischief."

There was a lot of hysteria in the air. John Rawls, a state senator from Marianna, declared, "The integration of the white and Negro races in the public schools of the state of Florida would tend to encourage the reprehensible, unnatural abominable, abhorrent, execrable and revolting practice of miscegenation which is recognized, both in conscience and by the law of the state of florida as a criminal offense."

Desegregation came about only through much trauma and struggle by a few idealistic civil rights leaders ...

I believe UF's law school accepted its first black student in 1958. In 1964, Rev. Thomas Wright filed a suit that resulted in a few black students integrated Gainesville High School, among them his daughter, LaVon. LaVon Wright (now LaVon Bracy) has written an account of what it was like to be the first black senior at GHS. Excerpt:

'On that first day, Dad drove me to school followed by a Gainesville police car. I received stares, and was called all kinds of nigger. No one spoke to me. No one sat near me. I could expect each day to have some white male or female spit on me and call me nigger. I began to hate. The thought of looking at someone with white skin made me sick.

'After about a month at the school, a group of white boys jumped me and beat me bloody. No one offered any assistance. The principal said, "How do I know that you did not come to school bloody from your home? I did not see anyone mistreat you." '

"We had to know what integration was like," [Rev.] Wright said. "It was not exactly what we thought it would be."

Here's a summary of the 1970 Supreme Court decision, from the Gainesville Sun:

'An even greater change took place in January 1970, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Alachua County schools to desegregate.
'Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education that separate schools for blacks and whites was unconstitutional, black students didn't enter a white school in Alachua County until 1965, after a local black preacher, the Rev. Thomas Wright, sued the school board on behalf of his daughter, Lavon Wright.
'During the late '60s, the school board practiced an informal policy of "tokenism" -- whereby a few black students attended predominantly white schools, said John Dukes Jr., a longtime Alachua County educator who is now assistant superintendent for student support services with the Alachua County schools.
'But in January 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the county's schools were still "racially identifiable" and ordered Alachua County to fully integrate the schools immediately.
'The schools closed on Jan. 29, 1970. When they reopened a week later, on Feb. 7, they were integrated. The black high school, Lincoln High School, was closed, and about 1,000 black students were transfered to the 2,200-student Gainesville High School.'

Washington Post researcher Magda Jean-Louis dug up some great articles from that era, and I strongly recommend reading the Buddy Davis editorials (click on Appendix). Davis won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his editorials about the desegregation of the schools in Alachua County.

Bill Cliett, the former vice principal at Duval, made an interesting comment: That for all the difficulties of school

desegregation, "Our county, if you look throughout the South, probably did it better than most."

Is it still an issue? Yes, he said.

"Not quite as hot an issue. Not quite front page as it was. But it's still there."

Rev. Wright pondered the slide back to what is nearly a dual school system. He said to me in the interview, "I was thinking the other day, what really caused it to happen? After so much effort we put into the fight for integration. Lawsuits. Demonstrations. You name it. We had the idea that over on the other side, the schools were like a panacea. They were it. And in many ways, they were it, because the supplies, the equipment, the building, the resource materials, everything was better. But I think what really caused the breakdown is African American students recognized that the equipment and everything were better, but the relationship between the majority teachers and the minority children were not the same as they had in segregated schools. At segregated schools the average African American child felt that, regardless of what they were going through, these people love us. They're concerned about us. And that was the key to the breakdown."


Some reader feedback:

Richard H. writes via email:

' I am a little younger than you, but was one of the AA kids who was in the first full "wave" in the mid 70's who integrated one of those top-tier, all-white private schools that so many whites flocked to 5-10 years earlier
in Atlanta. My friends were Wasp, Jewish, Hispanic, Indian and Black. For the most part, race wasn't the primary issue for us, though you could tell the kids whose parents were racists, b/c it inevitably made its way through
to the kids. I remember being shocked when one white kid's mom called another "white" kid's mom by a Jewish slur. I went home that day confused and had to discuss it with my parents, b/c I couldn't figure out why two
white ladies would be arguing like that. I thought all white people were the same.

'Indeed, popularity was based more on whether you were a nerd or a jock or in the photography club, then whether you were black or white. Race was still in the background; after all interracial dating was actively forbidden and discouraged, the N-word still had power when spoken by whites to Blacks. Nevertheless, thanks to this integration experiment that my parents put my sister and I through (solely to get the best education by contrast to the increasingly violent public schools in our predominately black neighborhood), I dare say that but for the presence of me and my contemporaries...unwitting trailblazers, there would be a whole lot fewer
race-conscious/sensitive white folks walking around today.'

Ken Hyers writes: 'I was going to Stephen Foster when you were going to Duval. I wasn't really aware of race as an issue back then, except when I'd visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles up in Jacksonville on weekends and the summer. Back in elementary school, my best friend, Bernard, was black, but I wasn't aware of his color as an issue, just a difference. Reading your story, I guess I was one of the lucky ones, in second and third grade, because I didn't have to ride a bus, but could walk to school. I wonder if Bernard took a bus - it never occurred to me to ask...

' seems that busing doesn't seem to have done much for ending cultural segregation here in the South. And when I look to other parts of the world, whether it be New Zealand, the US Northeast (and that, in its way, is another country), England, Denmark, Iraq, or India, I wonder if segregation, by and large, is a natural, if distasteful part of the human condition. Individuals may choose to associate with anyone no matter their color or religion, but communities appear to naturally segregate themselves. I think you hit the nail on the head when you described humans as a stubbornly tribal species.'


Here's a terrific post by "CJ" on the A-blog yesterday:

'I enjoyed reading The Boy on the Bus as it brought back memories of my childhood in the greater D.C. metro area and participating in the great social experiment of busing from an exclusively black neighborhood (re: apartment complex) to a suburban all-white neighborhood elementary school in Maryland. The 45-minute bus ride each way was an early introduction to the long commutes for work that are a staple of my adult life.

'Although I was just 9 yrs. old when my busing experience began in the third grade (1974) I remember conversations with my mother about the legal battle that led to busing, the benefits of a quality education, the systemtic, life-long challenges I would face as a poorly-educated black man, and the sacrifices and lost opportunities of black generations past who were never given an opportunity to go to "better" schools. As a 9 year old, I had to trust in my mother's assessment of the advantages of busing versus my desire to go to school with some of my friends.

'I recall the sense of trepidation I had on the first day I rode the bus and was greeted by a white bus driver whose smile conveyed the gravity of this experiment and the hope (that I shared) that it would work out. I also recall the masked anxiousness of my new teachers who were both the "guardians/educators" of the suburban white kids who could not afford to go to private school and the "gladiators" who had the unenviable task of fighting on the front lines this country's battle with racial ignorance.

'I remember some of my teachers being scared. I remember some of the parents of white kids being scared & others being welcoming. I remember the parents of those black kids whom were bused being hopeful and apprehensive. I also remember the optimism and eagerness of my teachers and in particular my school administrators to make good on the promise of racial equality in education.

'In many ways, mending of the country's racial divide was the responsibility of all the elementary children and their teachers charged with making this experiment work. It was a lot of responsibility to place on both subsets of the American population.

'It is somewhat disconcerting to now watch the pendulum swing back towards what existed before integration. Although the motivation for racial segregation sometimes now is the result of self-selection and less so systemic societal racism, I believe that classism is the greater challenge of this generation. It tends to have the same effect as racism but is borne out of the socio-economic differences & prejudices of the masses.

'The one institution that continues to have the most profound impact on this issue it has held for the past 40+ years is the U.S. Supreme Court. I disagree with the Supreme Court's interpretation on whether race should be a formal consideration (primarily because I believe that it remains an informal consideration despite the gains of the last 40 years) in doling public education, government contracts, etc. I personally benefitted from earlier Supreme Court decisions giving rise to educational programs that accounted for race in providing me with opportunities I would likely have never enjoyed otherwise. I still had to work hard to achieve whatever modicum of success I now enjoy. (By the way, I define success as owing a car, owning a house and putting food on the table.) I simply know that the educational opportunities of which I took advantage were not available to my father or mother's generation or others that preceded them. I was fortunate in their eyes.

'I am concerned that the past 40 years cannot make up enough ground to erase the disadvantages of the 400 years that preceded it. For those kids who come along now, I can only hope that they find a way through devoted & diligent parenting, caring teachers, hard work, and/or a little bit of luck. They are going to need it.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 9, 2007; 9:28 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Boy On The Bus
Next: Farm Report: Green Bean Conundrum



I'm back!

Posted by: Raysmom | July 9, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The John Rawls quote and comments on the Outlook article make clear that the real fear of integration was miscegenation. It seems that just like in economic trade, some people just don't like to compete.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

This article and several others in recent weeks show that the white fear of black men stealing all the white wimmin has a basis in reality.

A black/white interracial couple is three times more likely to be a black man/white woman than the reverse.

Interestingly, the gender odds are reversed for white/Asian couples.

All in all, interracial couples are about three times more common than they were 30 years ago, but still pretty rare.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I was a student of a very successful professor whose former grad students teach at nice colleges all over--even George Washington U.

I was expected to sit in on his undergraduate lecture course, and was shocked at his illustration of how f1 (first-generation) hybrids are very uniform while f2 (second-generation) are wildly variable. His example: biracial children and their offspring.

I think that was the last undergrad class he ever taught, albeit the main reason was probably that he'd flunked half of the class.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 9, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

yello, you did an honorable thing, going to get everyone before claiming First. I feel so dirty...

Like Scotty, I grew up in a very white area. School districts were by town, not county, so busing would have been beside the point. Years later, when I lived in Charlotte, it was a huge issue. I have to admit, I did feel sorry for the little ones having to get up at the crack of dawn for a 45-minute bus ride.

Posted by: Raysmom | July 9, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

A note on the power of the boodle: even though I pretty much only lurk (I think I've posted two or three times ever, and not recently), the boodle has made its way into my dreams. Right before I woke up this morning, I was in the hallway of a college dorm (why!?), and I saw a sign on a room door that said "frostibitten" (I guess I can't spell in my dreams). And I was going to knock on the door and say, "Hi, I'm from the boodle," as TBG instructed, but I had to keep going down the hall to give someone a phone message. And then I woke up. So, hi, everyone, I'm from the boodle!

Posted by: bia | July 9, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Howdy, bia!

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

So it's the anchenblog blog now???

Anchenbach, please look at the front page and have a talk with the editors at .com.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 9, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Hi bia - made me laugh! Welcome and *speak* right up!

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I checked Google, and yes, there were a couple of kits by Anchenbach.

My own dreams tend to be nicely produced but end in boredom. I need to arrange to visit Alexander von Humboldt on one of his expeditions.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 9, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I submitted this question to the chat, but I open it up to the Boodle as well.

Much is being made of the resegregation of schools, but were they ever truly integrated? At the high school level, African American kids are much more likely to be in remedial programs while honors or GT classes are predominantly white or Asian. It seem that there is an oil and vinegar effect that unless you shake things up frequently the ingredients just separate again.

The key question is are black students, when controlled for household income, doing better academically in diverse schools or minority-majority schools. We should have the analytical tools to determine the effectiveness of integration. Why hasn't this been studied?

I am genuinely curious. Are separate schools still inherently unequal? Too many educational statistics are just proxies for family income. Are inner city kids getting a worse education than equally poor white kids in Appalachia? Poverty seems to be the real factor.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

They're insisting it's Anchenblog. Who knew??

Posted by: Achenbach | July 9, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

bia-You weren't dreaming of Wassamata U were you? I've been dreaming with a fake Russian accent "Moose and squirrel."

Posted by: frostbitten | July 9, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Hi, bia! I'm from the Boodle, too. Your dream is very funny.

yello, I think you're right, that integration wasn't the magic bullet for improving academic achievement. And I think many educators believe there's no reason a majority black (I almost said "majority minority") school is necessarily a bad thing. In Seattle, there is a public school called the African-American Academy, which is an effort to have a high-achieving, majority black school. Of course, students of any race are allowed to attend.

I still say that forcing desegregation in the schools was necessary because people were so fearful of what would happen, and because of the foot dragging. It was painful and disruptive, but so was segregation, to a much greater extent.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It's a tribute to creeping doublespeakness that neither "majority minority school" nor "minority majority school" is a Googlenope. I assume they both mean the same thing.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Joel, are you sure you work for .com? Do they know you? Have they changed your name? Do you need the black helicopters?

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Joels reply to this just make you stand up and clap,

Baltimore: Are people really that naive to believe that whites and blacks want to merge as one? I for one want to keep my white European heritage and culture alive as long I can breathe. Multiculturalism and integration is a waste of time.

Joel Achenbach: Don't you feel silly, typing on your computer with that hood on your head

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I need to quote myself from the end of the last Boodle, since I had not yet noticed that everyone had come over here.

I remember back in high school, talking to my step-sister, and being one of those "anti-miscegenation" jerks who thought it was a bad idea for her to date a black guy -- although I couldn't come up with an articulate explanation for why it was a bad idea that would sound convincing even to myself. Partly, it was because I didn't like her very much and so I wanted to torment her. Mostly, however, it's because I was a jerk and more of a racist than I wanted to believe. Oh, I thought I was sophisticated and perceptive.

I remind myself of this incident, every now and then, to deflate my enormous ego and remind myself that moral superiority can be found in unlikely places -- like, in other people than oneself. It reminds me that I can grow up and be a better person each day than I was the day before, but I have a long way to go, because I started from pretty far back

Posted by: Tim | July 9, 2007 12:49 PM
I hope you can still like me, after my admission at 12:49. The posts that I have read so far (I haven't seen all of them up to this point) have been memories of being relatively enlightened, or not involved, or benefitting from busing. I don't doubt the truthfulness of any of these. But the reason we needed enforced busing was because most of us (whites) accepted a status quo in which racism wasn't our problem, it was somebody else's problem. We thought we had the world figured out, and it just so happened that the world disproportionately favored us. The biggest problem was that we didn't think we had a problem, so we argued and resisted fixing real problems that we didn't want to believe existed.

I look around and I see that we have learned and become better, and I think busing has been an important part of that. If we're going to keep learning, then I think we need to be honest with ourselves and remember where we were to start with -- the world that got shaken up when we were made to see ourselves more truthfully. Then, maybe, we can get a clearer view of what we have accomplished, and what we haven't accomplished yet. We can't make progress if we believe that nothing can change, that we can only be the people that we were 30 years ago; but we also can't change if we believe we have already reached perfection and have nothing more to do.

Posted by: Tim | July 9, 2007 01:08 PM

Posted by: Tim | July 9, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I sent Joel a question, too. If he doesn't get to it, I'll post it here. We can get him comin' and going'.

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Great posts Tim and I admire your honesty.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Ha, frostbitten. Sure, could have been Wassamatta U for all I know. I didn't hear any fake Russian accents, though. I do remember trying to use some ASL, with questionable success -- I think the person I was supposed to give the phone message to was deaf.

Posted by: bia | July 9, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I think it's great of you to be able to look back and admit that. I grew up in a mostly white little town, where my own family was remarkably open-minded, but surrounded by people with prejudice. My school wasn't segregated, but there were very few blacks. One of my neighborhood friends went from using racial slurs to dating a black guy.

When my son took his job in San Francisco, his supervisor informed him that a lot of his co-workers were Filipino - which my son thought was weird (that the supervisor mentioned it), because his best friends in high school were Filipino.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

What am I doing wrong? I refresh and refresh during Joel's chat, and it is all so slow. It's now half way through the hour, and there are so few postings.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 9, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

You are right, Tim, in that we have to admit where we started from and for a lot of people it wasn't a pretty place, though mostly unconsciously so. I truly feel lucky because my parents, who had little experience with other races, deliberately kept racial prejudice out of our house, and because I went to that rare bird in the 1960s and 1970s, an elementary school which was naturally integrated because the neighborhood was integrated.

Partly because of that, I had to really fight the idea that there wasn't really a problem, since it wasn't as obvious to me as it would have been had I been raised like most of my peers (not much racial interaction or familiarity, breeding uncertainty, rumor and worse). This of course fit right in with the general white perception here that there wasn't really a problem, since they didn't see it. Of course there was and still is. It is a little better, but we have to pay attention.

Yellojkt has a good point about economic forces. Here, lots of people are poor. Thus, lots of kids aren't getting the education they might otherwise have, no matter their race or ethnicity. However, that said, there is still racial prejudice among the poor which has nothing to do with educational opportunity, and it is on both sides.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel has never reached Weingartenian speeds in these chats. This is about as good as it gets.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Tim, that's a really good point. I'm relatively comfortable with my own feelings/behavior from school, though I did let my black friends from elementary school drift away in high school through some combination of self-segregation and academic tracking. My own guilty feelings come from later, when I was working in a bookstore in Northern Va. The store had a separate section for African American literature, and books from that section tended to walk out of the store more than some others (I don't even remember if I knew this to be a fact from my own experience, or if it's just what my manager told me). So, yeah, I watched black customers in that section more than white. And I hated the way the situation made me think and act -- something I was very glad to get away from when I stopped working there.

I don't know if I really want to post this on my first multi-post day on the Boodle, but oh well, here goes.

Posted by: bia | July 9, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Kay passa man, whashappening !

Posted by: Dude | July 9, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone's interested, here's the history of busing in Seattle:

It mentions some of the issues yellojkt brought up. It hasn't been updated recently, so doesn't include the recent Supreme Court decision.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to hear from Cassandra today. Her voice is definitely missing here. Hope all is OK.

And ditto for Martooni.

Are you out there, friends? Olly olly oxen free!

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I echo your 1:14; I thought that response was great, too.

Maggie, it might help to know that Weingarten gets hundreds of questions as much as a day or two in advance, and he responds to a lot of them before the chat actually starts, and half the stuff he posted was "canned" (not that there's anything wrong with that). So his voluminous chats kinda spoil it for the mere mortals.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge and Yellow, thanks for the info. I've just started reading the chats, and this is the first one I read in real time. I even got a question in!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 9, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

My question was posted. But get this... someone added ITALICS where I had written in all caps for emphasis.

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Maggie... I thought that was you!

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

School desegregation was one of the defining moments of my life and has had the most lingering impact. I have started to blog (awbletters/blog) about the impact of the experiment on my life. In an all black school, my intellectual ability caused me to stand out. I endured alot of teasing and ribbing, but I still had a sense of belonging to the community. After desegregation, I still stood out, but now I was physically separated (ability grouping) and my sense of belonging eroded. I started being torn by terms such as "acting white."

I started this post intending to make an observation of the impact of housing patterns near my Baton Rouge school. Black subdivisions and white subdivisions in Louisiana were often separated by wooden fences. Many can still be found. White kids were actually bused to white schools prior to the Fall of 1970. My fifth grade class was about 2/3rds white. Most of those kids literally walked to school. Ironically, my formerly all-black (middle class) elementary school was the neighborhood school for many of those white kids.

Posted by: djaylz | July 9, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

It was interesting to read about the experiences of school desegregation from the perspective of a white student. Where I'm from it never occurrd to me that white students were being bused. If they were I never saw it. Back in 1968 in Georgia it seemed to me that we(ie. Black students) were being bused to white schools but not vice versa.As I was sitting in some of those classes at times being the only black student, it never occurrd to me how someone white would feel if the situation was reversed. And yes it was "the best of times and the worst of times". I learned things I would have otherwise never have been exposed to, but I also learned what it felt like to be hated not for who you were or for something that you had done but just because you happened to be born with black skin.

Posted by: Patti | July 9, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Want to stop discrimination? Just stop discriminating.

Apparently, according to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

The chief justice made that comment in his reading of the majority opinion in a case involving school desegregation.

I'm glad he's not in charge of traffic safety. He'd probably say that the way to decrease traffic accidents is to stop having car wrecks.

We could pack this logic in a suitcase and take it to visit every problem that plagues us. Crime rate? Stop breaking the law. Immigration? Stop being foreign. The war in Iraq? Stop sending troops to the Middle East. (Hold on; that would be aiding the enemy, and the best way to stop aiding the enemy is to stop aiding the enemy. And nothing aids an enemy more than having a war. So.)

Written with humor, obviously, the rest of Victor Landa's op-ed, as it appears in today's paper, delves into the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Louisville and Seattle school districts, Brown v. Board, and more, here:

Posted by: Loomis | July 9, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I went to high school during the beginning of the Seattle busing program. When I learned we were moving to Seattle from DC in 1978 I was less than thrilled to find out that I would be going to a high school 15 miles away when we lived three blocks from another one. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

People look at the Seattle program and think it's all about race. It's not. It's just as much about economic diversity as it is racial. Spreading people from different areas of the city to other ones. We had a number of Caucasian kids on our bus every morning headed for North Seattle as well as Asians and Afro-Americans, and they weren't allowed to transfer to the local school either. The school mix was probably someething like 55% white, 35% black, 5% Asian and 5% "other", mostly Pacific Islander and Native American.

Was it perfect? Hardly. I came in during the second year of the program. There was a lot of tension and a few incidents, generally limited to small groups of idiots on more than one side. During my sophomore year everyone was still feeling everyone else out. By the time I graduated most of us were much more comfortable with each other, although I didn't see an interracial couple until near the end of that year. But most of us developed a healthy respect for people of other colors, and as importantly learned that not all racial stereotypes are true. We simply learned to get along.

I graduated in 1981 and still count people of several colors from my graduating class as friends. IMHO busing can work for all of us as long as people are willing to give it a chance.

Posted by: vbxtc | July 9, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Two points about the just concluded Achenchat. 1. The dude who accused Joel of showing "sneering liberal condescencion" misspelled condescension, which sort of blunted the criticism. (He said, sneering with literate liberal alliterative condescension.) 2. Joel mentioned the film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," said he hadn't seen it, and sort of wondered how relevant it was at the time. I can say without doubt, not very. The flick is earnest and PC to the limit. Hepburn and Tracy (in full white liberal mode) endure doubts about their daughter's plan to marry Dr. Sidney Poitier and go live with him as he performs his medico-saintly duties in Africa. Poitier's dad has qualms too. All ends happily as the sugar sensitive folks in the audience slip into coma. Ten, even five years earlier, this might have been meaningful. The earlier Poitier vehicles "A Patch of Blue" "In the Heat of the NIght" and even his very first film "No Way Out" (way back in 1950) were all much better and more realistic examinations of race, interracial love, and prejudice in America.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 9, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Toward the end of his chat Joel asked a question, and I posted a response, but it was too late to get in. So here it is:

Your reference to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is essentially correct, Joel. Sidney Poitier was the black fiance (and a medical doctor, yet; very Cliff Huxtable), while Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy where the white liberal parents. (Katherine Houghton, who in real life is K. Hepburn's niece, played the daughter.) And yes, it was VERY edgy at the time.

I think Former PG Countian's premise about "white flight" is substantially incorrect. "White flight" was already going on to some extent before the Civil Rights movement got into full swing. I think it started right around WWII when blacks began moving into the cities to take jobs spurred by the massive industrialization caused by war work, followed by the economic prosperity of the 1950s that allowed people (OK, whites) to move out of the cities and into the burbs. Now, whether desegregation may have spurred that trend is another question, but I think it existed before and independent of the CR movement. And even if the CR movement did "cause" or at least "increase" white flight, so what? The remark sounds to me a bit too much like a grievance.

I think a lot of people miss the over-arching point to all this: segregation and Jim Crow had to be destroyed. I normally abhor cliches such as "To make an omlet you have to break a few eggs," but I believe that basically applies to what happened. A system was in place, and it had to be broken apart and re-assembled. A lot of eggs were broken in the process. Too bad, but it had to be done. I'm not sympathetic to anyone whose eggs were broken, and I'm not very sympathetic to anyone who doesn't like the way the omlet turned out. I'm not happy with it, either (unintended consequences, and all that). But there was just no moral alternative at the time. We broke a bad system that deserved to be fractured. I have no patience with 20-20 hindsight. Too many people worked too hard, and too many people died (King, Evers, Liuzzo, Goodman, Chaney & Schwerner, the four Birmingham church girls, etc., etc.).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

When you read the Brown v Board language, and the case made by Attorney Marshall, one is left with a thought that there should be no degree of "separate, but equal." Not two schools, two water fountains, two bathrooms or even two admissions policies. Yet, as Bakke demonstrated, the movement was not going to be pristine; severing all separate-but-equal vestiges. What followed was a new and revised set of dual-standards, on a "playing field" that would be tilted in a different direction.

The question contained in Mr. Achenbach's Sunday article, "did things work?", will be answered by two other questions: "can we stop now?" and "if we need to continue, it hasn't worked."

Posted by: Crispus Attux | July 9, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

That was a good chat, nice to see some familiar folks (e.g. Curmudgeonville, MD) get some questions/comments in. My hastily conceived q/c ended up as the last one.

As I've mentioned before, my experience growing up in an ethnically mixed neighborood close to Washington DC was very different from Joel's and others.

I interacted with kids in school every day who didn't look like me, and I really didn't think much about it. My best friend (and I still think of him that way, even though we're not as close as we once were)throughout my school years is of a different ethnicity than I, and I can't ever recall that it ever mattered to us, though we did get into fights with other guys who *did* care about the color of his skin. We listened to the same music, played the same sports and games, read the same books, did darn near everything together.

We developed great timing and communciation as a QB/receiver combo, too. I could lay a ball right in his hands on stride when he made his break on the post pattern...

It is really interesting to me to read about all of the different experiences other folks were having at that time.


Posted by: bc | July 9, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

'mudge, supposedly Medicare did a great deal to disassemble Jim Crow. When the popular new program started up, it didn't allow funding for medical care in segregated facilities. No more whites-only hospitals. On the other hand, it's my understanding that a lot of black medical professionals suffered terribly.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 9, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I added a couple of things to the kit.

I'm sorry I'm slow on these chats. I go as fast as I can. But you know, I admit, I sometimes actually THINK for a moment before typing up a response on a very sensitive issue. Sometimes I type up a response and then DELETE it on account of it doesn't mean my standards for:

1. Clarity.
2. Pith.
3. Verve.
4. Germane-ness.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 9, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow, how very interesting. Curmugeon and I have such differing takes on GWCTD. I wonder when and where he saw it and if that influenced his opinion. I also wonder if he has seen it since. I saw it in college in Texas in 1967. In that same time period I saw such films as "Putney Swope" "The Liberation of L.B. Jones" with the great Roscoe Lee Brown, and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song". In this context GWCTD had all the edge of a dull butter knife. I mention the wonderful actor Roscoe Lee Brown in particular because he died this past spring. He had one of the all-time funniest lines on "All in the Family". He played a nattily dressed black businessman who got stuck in an elevator for hours with Archie Bunker. Within the first few minutes Archie began whining about "youse people" and welfare and taxes and Brown's character glared stonily and said "I hand out more in tips than you pay in taxes."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 9, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Pith! What a great word. I guess we would all agree that Joel's standards of pithiness are one of the reasons we keep on boodlin'.

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Pontiac, MI - mid 1980s: Each morning my mom dropped me off at a latchkey program at our church. About half of the kids would soon get on buses to go to one of several elementary schools around the city (thanks to court-ordered busing), while the other half walked to nearby Webster Elementary. My memories of elementary school are filled with making friends, learning letters and numbers, trips to the music room, climbing a rope in the gym, and selecting books at the library. Only when I looked at my class photo a few weeks ago did I realize that 75% of my class was black, Hispanic, or Asian - only 3 of us (and the teacher) were white. I guess that busing accomplished its goal, then - I tend to think about people based on what's inside rather than the color of their skin.

Posted by: Emily C., Arlington, VA | July 9, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You'd think with a name like Anchenbach, he'd know at least a little Germane.

Posted by: byoolin | July 9, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

While I hear and understand what Curmudgeon is saying, I still have to take issue. Yes, something was broken not just in the Jim Crow South, but around the country. Indeed, many have died to create a more equitable society. And, people do the best they can and make the best choices they can based on the circumstances at the time. Yes, the courts were right to enforce its earlier rulings on school desegregation.

But, some policies and subsequent rulings were based on the generalized results of data gleaned from studies of Northern students or Northern experiences. What I am trying to say is that the data was biased and some of the assumptions based on the data was biased. This resulted in flawed policy and experiments that I had to live with even though I was not yet 10 years old. At the risk of sounding like a victim, me and others like me became casualties (broken eggs). So, while recognizing that something needed to be done, I take issue because of my standing in the implementation. It was an implementation that I argue tried to over-simplify a very complex matter. 37 years later, there is still alot of oversimplification afoot.

Posted by: djaylz | July 9, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I don't know if black medical professionals suffered as a result of Medicare, or whether Medicare helped bring down Jim Crow. But for the sake of argument, let's say that's true. If they suffered, it certainly wasn't an intended consequence (there were lots and lots of unintended consequences), and if they suffered I'm sorry. What is clear is that no one anticipated it, and no one wanted that to happen, and no one ever said, "Let's allow Jim Crow to stand so black doctors don't get hurt financially." Yes, there were people who wanted Jim Crow to remain: they were the bad guys.

So black medical professionals suffered. What is the point? We should go back to Jim Crow? We need black water fountains and white water fountains next to each other again? (And may we not also conclude that if they suffered, at some point they have recovered? And that all things considered, they'd still do it all over again because of the greater good?) The notion of a "whites only" hospital is inherently evil on the face of it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Are any of you familiar with Crash Team Racing, the playstation game? Crash is a bandicoot, a sort of hunched up (?) wolflike character. During any of the breaks in action Crash can be seen huffing and puffing away waiting for the next move (or whatever you would call it) I can't tell you how many times when the boodle is heading towards 350-400 comments that I have a visual of Joel hunched over some desk with the boodle in the form of Crash breathing heavily...waiting, waiting.

Joel's apology mentioning that he goes as fast as he can in the chats made me think of it again. I don't know what you're all going to think of me, but really, I've only played the game a few times with my son.

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

From the Kit additions, Ken H. writes that communities seem to naturally segregate themselves. It is true that here, in a city with a ridiculously large geographic footprint, the black, Asian and Hispanic communities are all pretty distinct from the white communities. However, at least with regard to the black population which was here first and longest, there is nothing natural about it. It is the result of real-estate practice, restrictive covenants, and the general refusal, unwillingness or disinclination to sell black people houses in certain (most) areas of the city.

Those practices have died out or been sued or legislated out of existence, but the results remain. All these years later, the majority-black area still has ONE grocery store, and it isn't very good and has high prices. Those of us that live on that side of town drive miles to better stores, if we're lucky enough to have cars. People who don't are stuck with walking, hauling groceries on the bus, or paying for a taxi they mostly can't afford, just to do grocery shopping.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Some years ago I was reviewing old architectural drawings of Johns Hopkins Hospital and found some of the room designations confusing until I found out that they meant things like "colored waiting room". The whole separate but equal thing was resulting in four separate sets of toilet rooms on the same floor. The segregationist mentality resulted in a lot of silly wastefulness just to keep 'em separated.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm the guy living in Jeff City MO who talked in the chat about no fear going into "rough" neighborhoods. Lemme elaborate.

I'm not stupid. But I was always struck by my white coworkers (I'm white) who were downright petrified of going into *any* black area of DC. When I worked for DoD, I often had to go to NPIC, then located down next to the Navy Yard. I'd always drive myself down after rush hour and park on the street somewhere and walk to the guard post. My suburban colleagues were shocked, shocked I say, that I did that. Sure, it wasn't the nicest neighborhood on the planet but I also didn't exude "fear" either and it's been my experience that people who prey on others, pick up on that.

Thus, I wasn't loitering around blocks with 6 crack houses on em at 3am.

The experience of busing for my two years was far from great. I remember a lot of antagonism on both sides of the racial aisle but it also gave me formative mind an understanding of what it was like to be a *minority* since we white students comprised perhaps 30% of Monroe Elementary's student body. Everybody should experience that in their lifetime.

I'm constantly appalled by what I see here in Missouri. You bet, the "white ring" around the "black donut hole" in STL is a classic example of white flight. Or the people around me who still talk in code and do anything within their power to prevent their kids from going to the public high school here because of it's "problems". The only problem being it's desegregated composition.

But time and time again when I'm in circumstances that have me dealing with anybody "not like me" or examining racial issues in this country, I'm damned glad I was bussed for two years.

Posted by: scott | July 9, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I didn't mean it as a criticism of you, Joel, I thought that, since it was the first real time chat for me, I was doing something wrong. I am just barely computer literate. I do appreciate your pithy, vervy, clear germanity.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 9, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm just skimming the chat. Joel, your thumbnail characterization of the Supremes' decision was absolutely correct:

"[The issue is] whether school districts can try to achieve racial balance in schools by taking race into account AT ALL when assigning kids to one school or another. [paragraph] And the Court's decision was very odd: A 5-4 ruling in which the majority said you can't take race into account, but in which the swing vote, from Anthony Kennedy, dissented, saying yes, you can sometimes take race into account."

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

As long as I'm tediously Boodling away, I'll note that, as the city was de facto segregated already, white flight really began here in a big way with the onset of school desegregation. A sleepy little college town just north of here turned into an affluent suburb, and now has its own urban identity, primarily due to white flight. At least one private school here was started, supposedly to cater to the elite, but really to provide an option for city folks who didn't want to move. That school has tried, in the past thirty years, to overcome that reputation, but many of us who lived here then (and attended city schools) can't forget. I've explained to the Boy why, though some of his friends go there, he will never go to that school (money aside, she says laughingly).

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

K-guy, I don't see our takes on GWCTD as being very different at all; I just said I thought it was considered edgy at the time by a lot of people (yes, perhaps a lot of people who think Howdy Doody was edgy, but still...). I'd also agree with you completely that it was sappy, and "earnest and PC to the limit," and I'd also say it is virtually unwatchable today (I hope Joel doesn't rush right out and rent it from Blockbuster). And yes, it can't hold a candle to "In the Heat of the Night." All I'm sayin' is at the time people were writing about it and talking about it, and the title became a common catchphrase; I seem to recollect Sammy Davis Jr. using it as a punchline (perhaps I just shot my own argument in the foot there, or maybe in the head). It was, after all, a Stanley Kramer flick (generally considered to be a good thing), got nominated for 10 Oscars and won two, including best screenplay. And I think the key is that at the time not many people (at least to my recollection) were dissing it. (I don't think the concept of "PC" existed back then.) And yes, you and I were both watching a lot edgier stuff than that. But I just keep in mind my parents' generation (and my parents, in particular), who were utterly horrified at the premise of GWCTD.

For what it's worth, I was a junior in college when it came out, and that particular year I was tutoring black kids in the basement of a church in North Philly as part of something called PTP, the Philadelphia Tutorial Project. I don't think I saw it then, though; I think I saw it on the second release a year or two later.

And c'mom, admit it: you may have been watching "Putney Swope," "The Liberation of L.B. Jones," and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song." But your parents and most of their generation weren't.

I liked Roscoe Lee Brown OK, but my guy back then was Godfrey Cambridge, especially in "Watermelon Man." And GC and Raymond St. Jacques in the Gravedigger Jones/Coffin Ed Johnson flicks.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

There is no film, not one, in which Poitier is unwatchable, 'Mudge. Even the sappiest, most PC, unredeemably messagy movie is redeemed by his radiant, compelling presence.

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

It must be incredibly difficult to be Justice Kennedy right now. As the swing vote, he's practically a one man SCOTUS.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 9, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Ditto what Yoki said!

And I cannot let that many references to In the Heat of the Night go buy without mentioning that the director was a Canuck.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know that dmd. Cool!

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know Norman Jewison was a Canuck either. Funny; he doesn't look Canuckish. (This is also the guy who directed The Russians Are Coming, Thomas Crown Affair (the good version), JC Superstar, Soldier's Story, The Hurricane, etc.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, bio on Norman Jewison

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Sir Mudge, "Au contraire, mon frere," as George Carlin would say. You have fallen into the "all parents are alike' blunder, which while not as great as the "never get into a land war in Asia" blunder or the "never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line" blunder, nevertheless is one of the classic blunders. My folks, my career military Dad and my pillar of the church Mom, were quite adamantly opposed to racism in all its forms and were occasionally subjected to some mild ostracism when we were stationed in the South, especially Arkansas in 1957. As far as GWCTD goes, speak not to me of awards. This was Tracy's last picture, it had an illustrious cast and highly regarded director, and besides, Hollywood always breaks its arms patting itself on the back for what it regards as social consciousness. Of course it got nominations. If the Oscars were based on the quality of the work, Angela Bassett, Larry Fishburn, and Spike Lee would all have statues and James Cameron would not. If they had wanted to make an EDGY film, they could have made Poitier an inner city cop instead of a doctor working in Africa, or even better cast the aforementioned Godfrey Cambridge as the groom in prospective- now THAT would have been edgy!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 9, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

White flight happened here after the Trenton riots. My mother got out of work about 100 ft. in front of the mob that burned the place down, just getting to her car in time to not be a statistic.

That was pretty much the end of any retail in the city, and when the theaters closed there wasn't much reason to go into town.

I find it pretty hard to get down on people who left after that. Many of them gave it a shot for a long time afterwards but eventually you get tired of the crime and get out.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 9, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I knew Jewison was Canadian, and even a lot about his work. I just didn't realize he directed Night.

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing, K-guy, cuz I STILL don't disagree with you on any of that. So, OK, I'll take it back: GWCTD wasn't edgy. We friends again? (I got a thing for Spencer Tracy anyway: he's the spittin' image of my grandfather, and watching Bad Day at Black Rock is like watching a home movie. Speaking of interesting movies about racism, BTW.)

You're not suposed to get into a land war in Asia? *smacks forehead* I KNEW there was something wrong with that whole Vietnam thing. Now ya tell me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I have lots of reactions to Joel's article and the chat. First, I was glad that, in the chat, Joel mentioned the differential between what was spent on blacks students vs. white students in Florida schools at that time (80 cents for a black student for every $6 spent on a white student. As we think about social effects and our own experiences, it's good to remind ourselves of such stark facts.

Second, the words of Dr. Wright, who said, At segregated schools the average African American child felt that, regardless of what they were going through, these people love us. They're concerned about us," brought tears to my eyes.

That any child should have to doubt that the teachers who were supposed to help them succeed actually cares about doing that is heartbreaking. Dr. Wright's comments made me think of a comment by Barack Obama at the recent forum at Howard. Referring to kids from minority groups, whose school performance is generally lower than that of white students, he said, "We have to remember that these are our children." I believe he meant all of us, not just the members of the largely black audience. Would that we could begin to think that way. Doing so would, I believe, cause us to think in a quite different way about the quality of schools, where we send our kids to school, and, more generally, what goes on in all schools.

Whatever we think of GWB (in my case, not much that's positive) and NCLB, the "soft bigotry of low expectations" is real, and it needs to be challenged whenever possible. Obama is doing that before both black and white audiences, and he should be applauded for taking that risk.

Third, I believe those who have argued here that the real divisions in our country stem now from class rather than race are largely correct. To the extent that they are, we need to do much more to support achievement in low-income communities. That means facing some politically incorrect realities. Low-income parents, no doubt, love their children as much as the more affluent, but given limited resources and, in many cases, less education, they are less likely to be able to provide the foundation for educational achievement needed to help their children succeed in school. I believe that both blacks and whites are beginning to discuss such problems more openly, and I hope we'll continue to do that and, more important, to develop and implement solutions to address them.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The Miami Herald reports that the head of the National Hurricane Center has quit or been ousted--not clear which.

This ends a tumultuous six months at the bunker-like building adjacent to the Florida Turnpike at the Florida International University campus.

FIU is Miami's public university, with some outstanding opportunities for graduate work in ecology and, I guess, other fields.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 9, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Postscript: I meant to add that my previous post wasn't meant to be a campaign ad for Obama--just to say that he has been saying some things that I think are important and valuable.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh I agree with you completely about Spencer Tracy. He was more interesting just standing there and saying nothing than 90% of actors in full oration. Tracy and Jimmy Stewart had something that especially appealed to men, I think. Robert Taylor and Ty Power were way too handsome to identify with, Gable and Wayne, Cooper and Peck were larger than life, but when you watch Tracy and Stewart you think "If I were just a little better looking, a little smarter, a little braver, that could be me." He could go quiet-loud-quiet so well and bring the audience along hanging on every word. His anger was wonderful, righteous and never out of control. Loved him in "Inherit the Wind" and "Judgement at Nuremburg."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 9, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

K-guy, one of the things I loved about Tracy was he knew how to be silent. He often didn't need dialogue at all. Amazing.

Joel, you may have to reprise your I-love-train kit:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

As best I can tell, desegregated Medicare was deliberately engineered by Lyndon Johnson, and proved too attractive a proposition for southern members of Congress to oppose. Quite a legislative coup.

Medicare seems to have been a major blow to Jim Crow, and as such was worth the dislocation. It would be tragic if people were still dying because ambulances had to take them hospitals on a segregated basis. Or some people had to use second-rate hospitals due to segregation.

Still, I wonder what prices black professionals and business people paid, at least over the short term.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I would direct your attention to what is currently going on in the Pittsburgh area. Duquesne High School, which is predominantly black, was slated to be closed for a variety of good reasons--aged facility, declining enrollment, etc. Pennsylvania state law requires that students from closed schools be sent to adjoining districts. Well now, Mifflin High School has tried to everything it can to thwart accepting any students, as has East Allegheny. Some local state delegate snuck through a piece of legislation ordering Duquesne to be kept open, never mind all of its problems. Our problems with race are still all about us, and you don't have to scratch very hard to find out.

Posted by: ebtnut | July 9, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse


Your news about Pittsburgh is terrible. That people would misuse the resources of an economically depressed area to avoid interracial contact--in 2007, no less--is outrageous.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Great John Feinstein column on the great Bud Collins. It's long--but at the bottom there's a remarkable Abbie Hoffman anecdote. Yes, THAT Abbie Hoffman.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the link would be nice:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Bud Collins link. I didn't watch long enough after the match yesterday to see him - I'll have to see if I caught it on tape. I always liked how he spoke in the player's native language a bit - and he pronounced the Russian names correctly. It's sad to see him go, but he's had a long run, and as usual, he seemed to be taking this in stride.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I notice that Achenbach didn't have a rational argument for the guy from Baltimore, so he resorted to ad-hominem sniping.

When, exactly, did it become *evil* to not want to live in a Hispanic/black neighborhood?

There's nothing wrong with wanting to associate with your own kind; nobody bats an eye at it in most countries.

Personally, I really miss the old days when Fairfax County was mostly white; nowadays I'm the only white person on Metrobus and I get very tired of feeling like an endangered species!

But if you say such things nowadays, suddenly you're a social pariah and your workplace will probably put you in some re-education program.

Posted by: O'Flaherty | July 9, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The story about Duquesne High School reminds me of the sorry story of Harbor-MLK Hospital in LA.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 9, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I figure if someone's human, that's my "kind". The only thing I want my neighbors to be is quiet - I could care less what color/ethnicity they are.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

People who say such things nowadays are treated as social pariahs because they are. Joel's pithy response wasn't sniping. It was acknowledging that some some free speech is not just free, it is worthless.

Scott said it all for me at 3:39. A good thing too because I'm going to be hearing a lot about "they" and "them" tonight at the city council. They are American Indians and the reasoning for not extending our plethora of city services to "their" part of town never ceases to amaze. (We mow the ditches and have some street lights). Now, even if I could get council support to expand the swath of our mowing, we don't have the money to pay for it. Sigh...

Posted by: frostbitten | July 9, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I have been looking at the word "boodle" and "boodling" on the net. Wictionary is not much use here, but found a site using OED.
Not only is "boodle" a collection of people (we are Joel's peeps) but it also means counterfeit. As in, we aren't quite real. Just so. We have this
from Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown which is apparently free online there!

Posted by: Jumper | July 9, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Jumper... 'Boodle' is also the childhood nickname of the Achenwaitress--the waitress we favor when we gather at McCormick & Schmick's for our Boodle Porching Hours (BPH).

She saw it written down once at a BPH and wondered how we knew that was what her family calls her!

Coincidence? Hmmm... I wonder.

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

If I only associated with "my kind" I would be a lonely half man, half cat indeed.
There is only one Jumper. I are one.

But My Kind reads books. Lots and lots of books.

Like some wise guy said, a good friend is hard to find, and if I restrict my search to people who look/act like me, I will simply reduce my odds of finding that friend.

There's a local radio show here "Bob and Sherry in the Morning" and in traffic today I barely heard Sherry say "boodlers" (and she has a blog), so I wonder if she is, as they say, "hip."

Posted by: Jumper | July 9, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse


Just curious . . . where do you live? Both your name and your comments suggest that you grew up somewhere near where I did (North Dakota).

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

O'Flaherty your post makes me ashamed of my Irish roots, at least over there now they have figured out how to live in the modern world. I am hoping you made up your handle.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Very nice chat Joel. I thought you handled the hateful comments with your most effective weapon - humor. I could not help but notice that you did seem to be getting some questions from a number of rather odd locations.

This morning I was confronted by three people as soon as I walked into the door. One coworker told me not to even bother sitting down.

The problem with vacations is that problems don't take them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

THS-I'm an army brat but "home" is the far northern MN town where my mother grew up. I'm a UND grad and Frostson lives in Fargo.
You are completely right about the "soft racism of low expectations." There's a lot of that going on around here. One of the dirty little secrets of NCLB is that if you don't have N=50 of a minority group (whether racial or socieoconomic) their test scores don't count toward measuring Adequate Yearly Progress. Our whole school doesn't have 50 kids! (Guess which ones aren't doing well on the test.)

Posted by: frostbitten | July 9, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm a UND grad too! Class of '70. Yes, I'm that old. My nephew will be attending NDSU this fall.

There were, of course, Native Americans in ND too, but not where I lived. It's funny (or maybe not). When I was in junior high and high school, I wished that I were older so that I could take part in the struggles in the South that I saw on TV. It wasn't until I was in college that I got the clue that there were problems closer to home.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

And welcome back Raysmom. Hot enough fer ya?

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

THS! Class of '81 here. If we ever meet our secret handshake must be - "Hi, I'm from the boodle and I went to UND."

Posted by: frostbitten | July 9, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Did you notice how Joel referred to his former principal with an honorific? I know just how he feels. It's hard to overcome the youthful imprinting.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

"If we ever meet our secret handshake must be - 'Hi, I'm from the boodle and I went to UND.'"

Indeed. Although I've been more a reader than an active participant, I'm hoping to come to the next BPH . . . just because the "regulars" here are such a great group--literate, humane, witty.

Do you know when the next one will be?

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Frosti and THS... at least now we know where the dorm was that boodler bia was dreaming about last night.

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

THS... The next BPH?

Hmm... What do you say, folks?

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, thank you from saving me from making a relatively rude and pithy remark. You did it with grace and dignity in your 6:11. What she said, folks.

ebtnut, its sad, but from something someone posted last week, and from what Cassandra talks about with her tutoring programs, I think its happening a lot of places. Until each child everywhere is funded equally in each education jurisdication, the state and nation shoots itself in the foot. You want to fix education inequality, you have to change the way its funded.

I have to look at my own house, so to speak, too. I know that education might be more equal here but I also know that we are not supporting those who need our support nearly enough. Not nearly enough.

A healthy society should support its weakest members till they can do it themselves. We pay the price one way or another if we don't.

Posted by: dr | July 9, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - thanks for that Bud Collins link...a story I would doubt that I would have read.

Mr./Ms. O'Flaherty - In the nicest possible way I'd like to say that I'm hoping he/she is an endangered species and there's not too many more of his/her species around.

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm hurt, offended. I want to be original "odd location" poster, RD. I mean, really, a Calgary resident who doesn't read her local paper but is completely *up* on the's Metro and Outlook sections? That has to be a tiny bit original, if not interesting.

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Ok, dr, now I feel bad...

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I haven't met you Yoki, hopefully some day, but I get the feeling you're a true original!

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I will feel bad with you Kim.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

dmd, Kim, no reason to feel bad. I was holding back - at the same time I find it astonishing to know there is someone who feels that way. But at least he/she was honest - so we know there is still a long way to go.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Kim.

I'm not worried about O'Flaherty.

I thought is was splendid that we had THC (is that right? :), and Patti, and bia, and djaylz, and some other new (or renewed) posters who were thoughtful and well-spoken and interesting. I hope they will include us in their daily surfing and comment when they feel like it.

If we get the occasional racist inflamor, all we need to do is reprimand once (go, Kim!) and then ignore in perpetuity.

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, I understand your astonishment at finding that people harbor such views. Unfortunately, the O'Flaherty and the person from Baltimore aren't alone.

If you want to see how some of your fellow citizens feel about people who aren't like them, you have only to look at what gets said at It's hideous, but I really think everyone should read a bit of what gets said just so we don't delude ourselves about the range of views in our society.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

One of the reasons I love where I live is the diversity. My neighborhood looks like the UN. And they are all good neighbors. I have no idea how this was achieved, but I like it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

THS, I often read the comments on one of the local Toronto papers, it has been an eye opening experience for me. The problems in our area are not just black/white but multi-ethnic. It makes me very sad but certainly makes me appreciate this place all the more.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of dreams, I too sometimes dream of the boodle. Or, to be more precise, certain of the boodlers.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

>Or, to be more precise, certain of the boodlers.

I hope you use the best encryption on your diary. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 9, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Right, dmd. At LGF, it's Muslims rather than blacks that they hate. Any difference will do.

Posted by: THS | July 9, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I used to have a job on the south side of Atlanta off Moreland Avenue. I was almost always the only white person the bus. I used to watch this little eight year old girl get on the bus with her little brother. They would ride about three stops and get off in front of a school. I don't know why, but I always found that little vignette heartwarming.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 9, 2007 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say BPH?

As long as we don't have it on a Wednesday and before July 20th, I'm open.

I appreciate how this discussion has remained humane and thoughtful with only a few people who feel the need to be provocative.

On a side note, Our President is at it again with this letter asserting Executive Privilage denying a Congressional committee's request to speak with Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor:

I wonder when all this will come to a head.
And whose head it will be.



Posted by: bc | July 9, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I forgot just being a liberal from Calgary makes you an original "odd location" poster in my view.

Posted by: dmd | July 9, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Error Flynn - I didn't mean *those* kinds of dreams. Sometimes I just dream of how fun it would be to meet a lot of you in person. Like a huge party.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that it will come to a head. They're playing a run out the clock game.

I strongly believe that Congressional oversight was sorely lacking during the last 6 years and that it's a good thing that Democrats are using their subpoena power. I'm all for every subpoena issued in the warrantless wiretapping and US Attorney's issues. But I have to say, I felt that perhaps certain Democrats may be overplaying their hands with the subpoena threats regarding the commutation of Libby's sentence. It was reprehensible, I cannot believe that there are so few Republicans who seem to understand that lying to a grand jury is a C R I M E, but come on now...the Democrats need to govern, not just subpoena.

Oops, went way off topic there, didn't I?

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Now, that sounds like fun RD.

Error - hope you're doing ok. I thought of you...some critter is eating my verbena.
I mean, not that I think of you as some sort of critter.

I wish we'd hear from Martooni.
And Cassandra.

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I want a picture of Lucky. He sounds like a wily 'un. Any word on where the puppies ended up?

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Bias-- you can stop trying to remember that phone message. They called me back in a later dream.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Kim - I was just thinking about Cassandra and Martooni myself. I hope they are both alright. Their absence leaves a gap.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

RD, is there any way to make a BPH happen for you? A change of location?

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I too am deeply worried about that danghippie. His penultimate post frightened me. If any boodler has heard from him, on a private line, (I am not asking for betrayal of confidences) without betraying confidence, would you just let us know that you have heard from him. That he is walking over the world, staying vertical?

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - The problem is schedule. I have an early in/early out schedule. I head home by 3:45, so the typical BPH starts well after I have become entangled in domestic responsibilities.

That said, I am hopeful that I can sneak out for one this summer. We'll see.

This is also why I have long advocated a lunchtime BPH. Sure, folks can't get all sloppy with the beer, and it would have to be short, but I still think it might be fun.

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

RD, any BPH is fun, even the short ones. I even enjoy the ones I can't go to! I'm cracking up about the Boodle dreams - I seem to remember one where I was trying to post something, but couldn't...

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 9, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

>Error Flynn - I didn't mean *those* kinds of dreams.

heh heh Just checking. Yes, a party would be nice.

Kim, we're all some sorta critter. I believe my groundhogs may have met their match in Ed the Special Master. The other day he was here checking the traps and was very disappointed. Just one little one. Seemed like he thought maybe I was putting him on.

Then he saw about 4 of the little buggers scampering around the back 40, and he got all excited. It was kind of funny. Nice guy. Wears camo t-shirts like he was born in one.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 9, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I'm getting a little worried about Cassandra and Martooni, too.

While I'm fretting, I have two incredibly off-topic (off-topic? Me? Hard to believe) questions to throw out before the boodle (which knows everything):

1) Has anyone definitively settled the question of which is more environmentally friendly: styrofoam food containers or paper/cardboard?

2) My Comcast TV is freezing and pixelating irregularly. Does anybody know "for certain" what's going on? It all started after Comcast switched from a box-free system to making us install those *%$##@&%$ boxes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 9, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Cardboard/paper. Styrofoam can decomponse into thyroid toxins in direct sunlight. You can plant new trees better than you can plant new thyroids.

You may need to call Comcast and ask them to reset your cable. In the meanwhile check your connections and it could be a weak signal. If you have an older tv expect the problems to increase, since everything is supposed to be digital... NOW or awfully soon.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Cardboard paper. Every time.

Posted by: Yoki | July 9, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

RD, a specific part of this article made me think of you and your quest for people who understand others have a right to their point of view--bear with me, I ran 3 meetings today (which my teenage-self would have thought a complete waste of time, an opinion I'd agree with). Look for the concept *theory of mind* in here. It's an interesting article whether I'm mistaken about the concept and you or not.

Foster dog (who is HUGE) pushed out a fence picket with his nose and escaped tonight. How such a large dog slipped through such a small hole in about 3 seconds is beyond me. Anyway, dog is back (and penitent, I'm sure), fence is reinforced, and this is not making it into his blog.

Posted by: dbG | July 9, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - this was a hot topic back when I worked for McDonald's. They are actually pretty much of a wash when compared on a pound-to-pound basis.

First, FDA regulations prohibit the recycling of either when used for food containers without extensive processing that many feel is ecologically counter-productive.

Both can be produced from recycled material, so the balance there would depend upon the history of the packaging.

Some argue that since paper/cardboard comes from a renewable resource this is better. However, the environmental impact of commercial logging verses petrochemicals is hotly debated.

Finally, neither will breakdown in an actual landfill.

The only criterion that really seems to matter is volume. A thin polystyrene container is probably better than a bulky cardboard one, and the inverse is true as well.

Going for a minimum of packaging of either kind is probably the best solution.

Anyway, putting the rabbits away now and off to bed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

dbG - thanks for that link. I'll look at it tomorrow when my brain is better rested.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 9, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

BGW, I don't know cable. But I have those 3 problems with my cable internet, and I've noticed the pixelation on my old analog tv before.

I do know styrofoam is verra, verra bad for you and the environment. The thyroid toxin angle is not well known, but I read a paper a few years ago about a spot in Virginia where high levels of a toxin was traced to photodecomposition of styrofoam in direct sunlight. (PCBs, I believe).

Polystrene food packaging is banned in 20 US cities already.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

And the best part is, since I chased him for 9 blocks, I didn't have to go to the gym tonight!

I've really admired Joel's article, but haven't had a lot to say. I went to Catholic school in the 'burbs and didn't spend any time with a black person until I became friends with one of my suitemates in college.

It's very multi-racial and multicultural where I work. I tend to discount, wrongly, our differences. Most of us are native Philadelphians, just didn't seem important.

Last year, the father of one of my work-friends died. I baked cookies for her family and told one of her employees that I was going to drop them off at their house. My friend called a few minutes later and said there was no way I should go to her parents' neighborhood. She arranged for someone to get them from me and drop them off, and I found out later, had several people ask me for a ride to the funeral, so I'd be escorted. I was sad about her dad, but this made me sadder still.

Posted by: dbG | July 9, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the cable box may have a reboot button that's more powerful than cycling the power, or else Comcast can reboot it from their end.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 9, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

dbG - that is sad. Did the two of you ever talk about that or was it one of those *let sleeping dogs lie* things?

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

RD, my grandma lived less than 5 blocks from a paper mill for nearly 70 years. She's still extremely healthy and more active than people 20, 30 years younger.

Some of us are betting she makes 120. (she's over 90 now).

So, if it was a matter of my health-- I'd take paper over styrofoam anytime, even if the mill doesn't smell that wonderful.

They didn't know about PCBs and dioxins as byproduct of plastic decomposition back in 1991 or shortly after.

This article pointing out polstyrene might be the superior choice says that it does not degrade into harmful components. Hah.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 10:45 PM | Report abuse

This is amazing -- from BBC web site:

The head of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has told the BBC that fighting the insurgency is a "long term endeavour" which could take decades.

Decades? Isn't that clear evidence that they're engaged in the wrong activity? Or rather, that they have gotten all of us engaged in the wrong activity?

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 9, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod & Yoki - As RD Pad pointed out, you may be oversimplifying the issues with styro-vs-paper. Producing coated paper/cardboard containers isn't exactly an "environmentally-friendly" process, and recycling is possible, but not exactly cheap, in both cases.

I suppose that in the absence of a clear environmental favorite, I'd have to go with trees, just because there's lots! (In the U.S., more now than in 1900, I think. Nobody's clear-cutting forests to make newspapers and paper bags.)

Posted by: Bob S. | July 9, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Evening, all, I see I've missed a wonderful day on Achenblog. (Yes, I can spell it correctly!) I'm up way past my bedtime trying to unwind a bit. My brother died this evening, so it has been an intense day.

I was two hours away at my younger brother's when my niece called at lunchtime to say that he was failing. I stayed long enough to take the niece and nephew to swim practice and then went straight to see him. He was not responsive but he knew I was there. His daughter says he waited for me to arrive; I was the last of the family to get there. At 7:15 he opened his eyes and looked up. His daughter put her arms around him and told him it was okay for him to go, we would be all right. He closed his eyes, relaxed a bit, and 40 minutes later stopped breathing.

He lived a good life well, and we will miss him.

Posted by: Slyness | July 9, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

DbG, thank you for that link. Bellugi did some pioneering work on sign language linguistics.

So wonderful to see her studying Williams syndrome. From the papers, books and documentaries I've seen (and possibly one individual I have met), the predominant cognitive defect in Williams syndrome is a problem visually processing spatial relations. The deficits in "fearfulness" of faces could be related to poor visual processing of faces- or recognizing all faces as friendly.
They have no problems with music, in fact tend to be at savant level with music and just love the social nature of it as well.
Their language is not 100% unspared. You will see some grammar issues with lower IQ Williams syndrome, but the sheer complexity and sociability of their language use is far above their tested IQ and tends to be normal or near normal even for the lowest IQs.

Theory of mind requires a certain intelligence. I would strongly believe that Williams syndrome people have a theory of mind; they are capable of discussing how they are different from other people. They simply can't develop it past the point where they stop understanding.

Here is a simple example: I've been born deafer than a post. As a result, I simply can't notice environmental sounds, voices, and other interruptions.

If a hearing person frowns or looks pained at me suddenly during a conversation, is it at something I did just then, or did somebody yell behind me? Did they drop something? I can either assume it's all about me, or assume that most of the time it's NOT me.

As a result, I can be annoyingly oblivious to "clearly displayed" social signals of irritation, because I've had to deal with them so much for unrelated reasons, that I am not inclined to drop everything and cater to a sour puss unless they explain what they're upset about. It's probably something they'll get over within a few minutes anyway.

Other deaf people I know might conclude otherwise-- that people are giving them nasty looks on purpose, and develop devasting loss of social confidence as a result.
It takes a certain level of education or upbringing to know that yes, I did nothing wrong by social rules, or if I did it was so minor that it would be inappropriate for others to try and punish me with dirty looks.

How this applies to Williams syndrome, I do not know.
It could be that they remember the good encounters more than the momentary bad looks, or they simply have such a drive to socialize that they will persist in spite of the negative signals, for the intermittment rewards they DO get from such behavior.
They could suffer from a lack to learn from negative experiences (if only visually).
I don't know if this has been studied either-- that would mean they would have some possible cognitive overlap with schizophrenics in that case.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 9, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... I'm so sorry.

Posted by: TBG | July 9, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - Gosh, we seem to end up sharing a lot of pain here. But that's a good thing, right? It's nice to have folks around, wherever they are, who care.

I'm very sorry for your (and your family's) loss.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 10, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Bob S.-- agreed, but styrofoam is not a viable long-term alternative to paper.

On a selfish basis, a paper cup (or better yet, using a washable cup) is probably safer for my health than styrofoam, never mind the environmental issues.

Hmm, Since when is methane bad? (Titan! How blessed your shores be...).

Methane can be used as fuel. Would it be cost-effective to directly use endlessly recycled paper waste as methane factories, something like a paper processing plant?

Some pilot projects have used raw sewage to power the water purification plants, often with a bit leftover electricity that they can then sell.

A lot of the toxicity caused by paper processing is due to bleaching of the paper, and it is possible to use other sources of plant fiber as well.

So, if we have the willpower to make paper cleaner and more environmentally safe, we probably could so. I don't think copping out and buying stryo cups is the answer.

Although I do worry about the fact that so many petrol substitutes (inks, paper cup coatings etc.) are made from soy or corn-- a concern for those who are allergic.

I'm REALLY allergic to petrol-derived inks-- the early soy-petrol mixes did have drying problems that probably made it worse for me in my youth handling newspapers.

The Washington Post has improved ink nowadays, but still bothersome.

I wonder how many people will develop an allergy to soy-based inks, though? I know of one woman who reacted to a card she got that was printed with soy ink.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 10, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I really liked the way you slapped down the guy in the hood. Did you get approval from higher-ups for that? By putting that early in the chat, you made it clear that there wasn't any room for junk like that, and a civil discussion with a lot of interesting anecdotes resulted. (I'm wondering how many other messages from people in hoods had to be discarded.)

Giving a serious response would be like following Philip Morris' lead ($) and presenting "balanced" reporting on global warming or whether smoking causes cancer. Even though 99% of the scientific community is on one side, presenting "balance" creates the impression there is some sort of legitimate controversy. Arguing with the guys in hoods creates the impression they might have something to offer the rest of us.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 10, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh lord, I'm so sorry Slyness. What a rough day emotionally. My condolences.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 10, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - Sigh... It's my "devil's advocate" coming out now, not a heartfelt position, but sometimes I gotta do what I gotta do! :-)

If one wished to do so, styrofoam could be made from ingredients found in seawater and trees. All perfectly "renewable", all perfectly abundant. To casually brush off the "my health" issues of paper production and processing seems to me to be rather unlike you.

Ultimately, all of this chemical stuff is "natural", and it's just a matter of trying to avoid unhealthy concentrations of toxins at inconvenient places and times, and of trying to minimize unnecessary energy usage. (Or, more properly, of trying to efficiently use energy to meet our needs while minimizing the concentration of toxins.)

The toxins are already present. It turns out that something as innocuous as carbon (ummm... aren't we mostly made of water & carbon & calcium & salt?) is capable of making the atmosphere an unpredictable presence.

It's a crazy ol' world, ain't it?

Posted by: Bob S. | July 10, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I'm sorry for your loss, and rejoice with you for your brother's well-lived life and peaceful passage.

Recently on a Sunday morning show on NPR, someone said, you know how Newsweek has that page, "Transitions" and they list there marriages, divorces, births and deaths, new jobs, etc.? In the past we wouldn't have lumped those all together. It shows that we recognize death as not the end, but a transition from one state to another. I thought that was interesting.

I'm way behind on the desegregation discussion, but I finally finished reading all the comments and the chat just now. This exchange comes near to what I had to say about busing:

Washington: ...Education is not just about learning how to read and multiply -- it's about learning how to live with other people, specifically about how to live with other people who are different. Not everyone gets to grow up in an environment that is as heterogeneous as our country is, but those who do have a big advantage.

Joel Achenbach: Thanks for the interesting comment. (But I bet some people will think: Yeah, it's important to be exposed to folks of a different race or culture, but it's also really really important to go to a good school where I can learn things. Some people might not make the cultural mixing the highest priority.)


My daughter chose to go to an arts magnet high school despite the fact that it meant leaving the house at 6:15 a.m. to catch a bus every day. The school is located in an impoverished black neighborhood and is a historically black school. I know the district pours a lot of resources into its magnet programs and I was under the impression that she would get a good education at that school. I believe in hindsight that she did not, in fact, get a very good academic education there. The arts program was fair, not great, and the academics were sorely lacking. If it were an all-white school I would almost think it was a complete waste of her time. But because of the very valuable experience of being a minority student, and the opportunity to contribute to the desegregation effort, I think it was worth it and I don't regret that she went there. I wouldn't say that cultural mixing is my highest priority, but it's the one thing that I couldn't provide for her, whereas the academic deficiencies could be somewhat compensated for at home. She certainly doesn't regret her choice to attend that high school, and she was shaped by the cultural experience to a great extent.

On a wider level, I'd have to say that voluntary busing through magnet programs isn't achieving desegregation OR quality education for black students in our county.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 10, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I'm so sorry for your loss. Good that you could be there.

kb, hope you have a good time in OK. Nice that you can still boodle.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 10, 2007 12:43 AM | Report abuse

K-bert: Interesting (and always welcome) take on it. I know that I've touched on it before, but here's my thumbnail school history:

1966-67 : Savannah, GA - Mixed race (mostly white) pre-school & kindergarten
1967-69 : Savannah, GA - Lily white (as I recall) 1st & 2nd grade.
1969-73 : Japan & Okinawa - Quite mixed (racially, culturally, size, age, you name it!) military schools, 3rd - 7th grades. (For the most part, if you weren't Japanese, then you were American. The other parts mattered only to the kids who tried to rely upon their parents' higher rank. That didn't usually work out so well with the younger kids. Maybe it worked better amongst the high school kids!)
1973-74 : Louisville, KY - Two different schools, fascinatingly different, during the busing angst, 8th grade. Seneca H.S. was mostly black, Eastern H.S. was mostly white. In each case I was a short skinny eighth-grader (in a system where the high schools contained 8-12th grades, and I was a year younger because I had skipped a grade) having just moved back to the U.S. from five years overseas. I discovered actual racism, Three Dog Night, Dr. Demento, kissing girls, and... I'll stop there. Can you guess which impressed me the most?
1974-76: Colorado Springs, CO - Still mostly white (my 9th & 10th grades), but a new (to me) large Latino minority. The entire concept that there were people in the world who were neither black nor Japanese, but still felt different, was a blast!
1976-1978: Decatur, GA - Wow! Once again, mostly (maybe 65-75%?) white, but what a difference! For the first time in my life, I was criticized for not toeing the invisible white/black line. I could easily laugh at the obvious bullies & idiots, but had a harder time figuring out some of the rest. But alas, it was too late for me. To me, they were all un-Japanese!
1979-present: Much of the rest of the world - I've really come across evil, and greatness, and lots in between. Me & the Japanese & the black folks & the white folks & the ... & the ... ----- we're all in this together! There's no gettin' out alive from this thing, there's only hanging on to each other.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 10, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

To comment briefly on something that Ivansmom had mentioned earlier:
"From the Kit additions, Ken H. writes that communities seem to naturally segregate themselves."
Posted by: Ivansmom | July 9, 2007 03:25 PM

It's only fair to point out that living things, in general, segregate themselves, and that humans have a particular genius for sorting things out. It's kinda what we do! Not always to the best end, but hopefully we'll continue to get better at realizing which filters matter.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 10, 2007 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone!!
Stay cool anyway you can today, take a dip, stay indoors, have a popsicle or snowball.

Of course I always do cause I am just naturally cool.....humble too....LOL

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 10, 2007 5:40 AM | Report abuse

We are all sorry to hear about your brother. He is in my prayers today.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 10, 2007 6:14 AM | Report abuse

Dear Slyness, your line about moving between swim practice and your brother's deathbed affirms that we move so quickly from the ordinary to the set-apart. My mom waited for my special forces brother to arrive from some Timbuktu of a place and then, as you say, relaxed. Just as a good life lived speaks to us all, so does a such a death. I will think about him, especially, because the swim team pattern is ours too. I head over to a lap lane to swim, since I may as well exercise too. My best prayers are made while swimming: water hypnosis and the dampening of sensations. They will be for you and your family.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 10, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, my deepest condolences to you and your family, and may your memories of that gathering bring you comfort. *HUGS*

And many pardons for any BOOOs as I haven't backBoodled beyond that...

As for the online chat yesterday, I'm sorry I couldn't watch it unfold in real time (I wouldn't have had much to offer, of course). Given that only the "Baltimore" and "Anonymous" trolls got through, I have a feeling the chat monitors were working overtime wiping the mud and slime off their screens. Good job all around.

*Grover waves receding into the distance as NukeSpawn and I head to the C&O canal for some biking before the heat arrives*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 10, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, my condolences. It's good you and other family were there.

Cassandra, you out there this morning? Martooni, whatever happened is OK; it's just time to re-start the count, that's all.

Seems the consensus on paper versus plastic is there is no consensus. But I've always been inclined to go with paper. Coffee's always better in a paper cup (viz., Mandy Patinkin), and strofoam has always seemed so chemical and ofensive, just by its nature. The reason I brought it up is that the new cafeteria vendor at work offers two kinds of trays: one is stryofoam, and IMHO is flimsy and too small. They also sometimes (not often enough) have some sort of presssed paper trays that are a little larger, plus they have a formed ring that allows you to wedge a soda cup in it, making it easier to carry. There's no way you can carry a soda easily (with it's high center of gravity) on the styrofoam tray if you have to open doors, etc. I was thinking about agitating for more paper trays and less stryo, but would have liked a clearer and more definitive environmental answer. Like that frog sez, it ain't easy bein' green.

I'm beginning to think Alberto is not just your run-of-the-mill Bush moron, but actually has some sort of compulsive iniability to tell the truth that transcends mere politics. Here's the lede from John Solomon's story this morning:

"As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005."

"Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act."

I mean, it's not so much that he lies--it's that he's not even GOOD at it, and he gets caught all the time. Jon Lovitz lies better than Gonzo does, fer crissakes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 10, 2007 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Slyness my deepes sympathies to you and your family.

Posted by: dmd | July 10, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I am so sorry about your brother. I'm sure being there with him was a comfort to both of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 10, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Jon Lovitz as Torqueberto would be casting genius.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 10, 2007 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, thanks for sharing that. My condolences to you and your family.

I'm going to post a new kit in a little bit.

Meanwhile, here's a story some of you may have seen, really well reported by my friends Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, our London correspondents. But it was buried on A12 in the dead tree edition a couple of days ago:

Posted by: Achenbach | July 10, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Slyness - I am sad to hear your news. I hope you are holding up.

Mudge - sometimes the devil is in the details with ecological issues. It seems so easy to just say "polystyrene bad, paper good," but for the reasons I mentioned last night, I don't think it's that simple.

The only unambiguous observation is that both the trays you mention are heading straight to the landfill, where they will remain, essentially unchanged, for many, many, years.

Therefore an argument could be made that the tray that can be compacted into the smallest volume is the best choice.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 10, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

dbG - that Williams article is fascinating. This syndrome describes a kid in my high school perfectly.

I am forever amazed at the complexity and variability of the human brain.

Now, with a little more coffee, I am hopeful to get mine up and running.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 10, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

One small action re coffee or beverage cups is to consider using a ceramic mug at work, rinsing lightly it with hot water, and stashing the mug in your cubicle or drawer etc. You can wash the mug as needed, say every two weeks or so. I figure that hot coffee or tea does not pose a bacteria-magnet problem. This question could form the basis of a fascinating and elegantly-simple science fair project. Just remember to credit the boodle in your source document or to Katie Couric when you go live nationwide.

I don't feel that I must wash my coffee mug agressively each day -- hot water, soap, etc. all contribute energy or water "costs."

There: I have revealed this cleanliness lapse. Those who are more fastidious can bring their mug or disposable cup of choice to my house.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 10, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

CP - That's a great observation. Here at work they are offering these mugs (made from recycled plastic) for use as an alternative to disposable cups.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 10, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Joel, that article is great. What fascinates me is that these were well-educated affluent professionals. I mean, doctors for cryin' out loud.

So much for the theory that terrorism arises only from crushing poverty.

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

Slyness, my condolences to you.

Posted by: byoolin | July 10, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

DGB -- thank you for the pointer to the article on Williams' syndrome. What caught my breath is the discussion on the gaze of Williams' infants and toddlers: length and timing of that phase. I recalled immediately the gaze of my three children as infants: the fall-in-love gaze.

Understanding the Williams' brain may help us understand the biological basis of attachment, indeed, love.

Love is partly hardwired, it seems.

Can we not learn to value all among us? This flashing as I type: French language names dvelopmentally-delayed people as "clowns of God." Somehow these "Wiliamses," as they are sometimes called, fit this metaphor also.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 10, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

new kit. I posted first, but I thought my computer was hung up, and there would be thousands of posts by the time mine got in.

Posted by: dr | July 10, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I'm very sorry to hear about your brother.

If it's any consolation I've come to understand lately there's a lot to be said about finally being at peace.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 10, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm trying to catch up on the Boodle.

Slyness, I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. My best to your family.


Posted by: bc | July 10, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, my condolences to you for your loss.

To Joel and others, thanks for the comments. Blogging or "boodling" is new for me. I like the sense of community.

Posted by: CJ | July 12, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

There's no need to give O'Flaherty too hard a time. If he were African-American and lamented the end of the old culture of his once ethnically homogeneous town, we wouldn't bat an eye. Change is hard. Even if you're not racist, sometimes it's hard to see what you have always known and loved change into something unrecognizable. It's even worse when the new arrivals treat you badly, as sometimes happens whether the new people are white or black. For the well-educated, mobile, wealthy white elite, it hardly matters, because their way of life is not so rooted to place. Wherever they go, they are in the majority and their culture is dominant. It is easy for them to express support for integration because they always remain dominant in their socio-economic class and have nothing to fear, nothing to lose. We see the same thing in cases of gentrification. The Canton area of Baltimore is a good example. Well-off white people are moving into this formerly all-working class, white neighborhood. Even though the new-comers are of the same race, I bet the old-timers aren't too happy about it. So even though I am not white, I understand.

Posted by: kt | July 13, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

aihrqpkb infe seczhgurb kdyip maqxlze vdpmlytxe xqzr

Posted by: guczimyr vtxm | July 23, 2007 12:58 AM | Report abuse

idgjfzhb cekg kntyqdbz bqsztx ufdcv adif yijukmrqa

Posted by: hkdfp itzyb | July 23, 2007 1:00 AM | Report abuse

pvhu jvhin vogbl iwxqlpth uhxikojca hkiz ybxtku foardwqxg xzukwq

Posted by: mvcbtsjdw gztay | July 23, 2007 1:02 AM | Report abuse

pvhu jvhin vogbl iwxqlpth uhxikojca hkiz ybxtku foardwqxg xzukwq

Posted by: mvcbtsjdw gztay | July 23, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

gzmywuhf gcuzwpqs wpeshv oyzcnp eqxvmpb cbsp kyida [URL=]qdijec mgnqworys[/URL]

Posted by: qifawlzn zcptrj | July 23, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company