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Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake

[In-house: Meeting late today with a super-boss at dot.com so powerful he cannot be named. Will discuss future of the blog (assuming there is one). My pitch: We go heavy on celebs, with hi-res downloaded images and Access Hollywood video excerpts and maybe a weekly advice column for singles. But, you know, with an edge. Not the usual stuff. More attitude. Sassy!]

David Segal has a story in Style about a New York cultural power couple that committed serial suicide. It's a tragic tale. It's also rather enigmatic and frustrating. Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake were extremely successful, but completely paranoid. Why?

"One of their shared passions, friends said, was a distressingly paranoid view of the world. The two would describe plots by the government, plots by Scientologists, people tailing them, breaking into their home. All of it sounded so far-fetched that it was easy to think occasionally that they were kidding. They weren't."

Forensic psychoanalysis on the dead is never wise. But you can get a whiff of the paranoia on Duncan's blog, Wit of the Staircase (where she refers to Blake as Mr. Wit):

'... Mr. Wit's recollection was further jarred after we repeatedly witnessed Ms. Gaskell's brother Zach mysteriously pacing in front of our Venice California home. Then there were the many cars with Iowa license plates following us around Los Angeles at the time. (We took photos of these, naturally.) Mr. Wit during this time also suddenly remembered that busy Cownie often travelled to South Dakota to attend some of the Midwest's more unsavory biker rallies. But I guess being friends with ex-con bikers and Vegas mobsters doesn't necessarily point to somebody who would, like, hire thugs to harass, threaten or--wow--maybe even kill people.

'Much of the harassment of me and Mr. Wit was also conducted by the Church Of Scientology in L. A., who Cownie also no doubt also "does business with." U.S. Intelligence "black ops" and "psy ops" have long relied on (or just outright invented) religious cults (including the Manson Family--Charles Manson received 150 hours of in-prison Scientology "auditing"), biker gangs, and the like in Federal Counterintelligence prorgrams in order to disrupt the counterculture since the 1960s....'

[And so on.]

I hope no movie studio decides it's a great romantic story, Shakespearean and ripe for the screen.

It's just sad.

Their friend Glenn O'Brien wrote the final post on Duncan's blog.

"I keep thinking that somewhere Theresa has thought up a perfect witty response to all of this but, alas, it is finally too late. Her Internet diary, The Wit of the Staircase, was named for "esprit d'escalier," for "the witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended...The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till afterwards it suddenly comes to you when it's too late." The spirit of the Spirit was that it's never too late. But now it is. It's over when it's over...

"All I do know, the hard way, is that the artists and writers who come up with extraordinary answers are often deeply and terribly haunted by the questions that prompt them, and you can never second guess what it is to be haunted by ideas, by angels or demons or history or visions, by reality or imagination. Maybe I'll think up a better response later. We live by our wits. Right now the only thing I can think of is to thank Theresa and Jeremy for their work, their friendship and goodwill and to hope that somehow, somewhere the answers come to them and the pattern is complete and that for such beautiful dreamers it isn't too late. Their dreams are still in this world...."

--

Paul Goldberger in The New Yorker reviews the Times' new newsroom:

'Many of the reporters I spoke to didn't think much of their new digs. Journalists, of course, love to grouse, but they also don't like to be regimented, and just about every single workspace here is identical. In a nice, democratic gesture, most of the building's perimeter has been left open, bringing in lots of natural light, and the private offices for editors all have glass walls facing into the newsroom. One member of the editorial board, who gave up a large, enclosed office in the old building for one of these small fishbowls, growled to me, "There's no place I can change into a tuxedo." Undermining the egalitarian topography, Bill Keller, the executive editor, has rigged up a screen of frosted glass inside his office so that he can't be seen from the newsroom when he sits at his desk.'

--

I ran across a quote from Richard Feynman at the end of James Gleick's biography ("Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman") and it would have been useful for my story on Doubt that ran on July 1 in Outlook:

"You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here..."

--

Cheney discusses doubt, last night on Larry King:

CHENEY: ... if you looked simply at public opinion, for example, a lot of the key decisions in our history would never have been pursued or followed through on. Washington never would have carried through for seven years of the Revolution. Abraham Lincoln would never have stayed with it in order to win the Civil War. We would have been two separate nations by then. You can look at major moments in our history and be thankful that we had leaders and Presidents who made decisions, stuck with them and saw them through to the end.

KING: But in all cases they did question themselves. In all cases they said, well, let's look at it this way. Don't you? I mean, the question is don't you ever say maybe I'm wrong?

CHENEY: No, I think what we do is we look at it in terms of trying to decide what's the right thing to do, and weigh the evidence. And there's a lot of debate and discussion...

KING: In retrospect you would still go into Iraq?

CHENEY: Yes, sir... I firmly believe, Larry, that the decisions we've made with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan have been absolutely the sound ones in terms of the overall strategy.

KING: Although there were mistakes.

CHENEY: Oh, sure. Yes, there are always things in war that happen that nobody anticipated; surprises, things that don't go exactly as planned. That's the nature of warfare. But that doesn't mean the strategy isn't the correct strategy, that the objective isn't the right objective.

--

Senator Obama is giving a major address at this very moment on what he'd do about Iraq, Afghanistan, and terrorism. Excerpt (thanks to Federal Document Clearing House):

In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it. That's why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target all Al Qaida within Iraq.

But we must recognize that Al Qaida is not the primary source of violence in Iraq and has little support, not from Shia and Kurds who are Al Qaida targets or Sunni tribes hostile to foreigners.

On the contrary, Al Qaida's appeal within Iraq is enhanced by our troop presence. Ending the war will help isolate Al Qaida and give Iraqis the incentive and opportunity to take them out. It will also allow us to direct badly needed resources to Afghanistan.

Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support that they need and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban and a mix of terrorism, drugs and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country.

As president, I will deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to reinforce our counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban.

[Question that pops into mind: Who has a plan that maximizes our control of events on the ground, and offers at least a general theory of how and when the war might end?]

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 1, 2007; 8:00 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jumping Into The Post; Plus, Weird Life Run Amok
Next: Why Bridges Fall Down

Comments

first?

Posted by: jack | August 1, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Ah, Doubt and Uncertainty. I am a big fan of these 2-or-so features of the sentient experience. Take them away, and what do you have left? A poorly-written whodunit in which all the answers are obvious on Page 1.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Paired paranoia is particularly pernicious... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

>Meeting late today with a super-boss at dot.com so powerful he cannot be named.

The final horcrux is the server. Either that or his coffee cup.

Posted by: SonofDumbeldore | August 1, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ah, crap. 6/10 on that stupid quiz. I did get the tornado question right because I was reading about it just yesterday. If that quiz had gone up on Monday I probably would have gotten 5/10.

Posted by: omni | August 1, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous Boodle, in reference to something *Tim wrote:

"Completing the 'matter vs. anti-matter' thought: Nobody knows why just one flavor of matter is favored. However, there are those who simply know nothing about it (like me); and those whose uncertainty is deep and rich and nuanced. I aspire to some day know nothing in such subtle fashion."

I've actually spent a lot of time thinking about this, and the only answer I've ever been able to come up with is that the entire Keystone Cosmos as we know it is one d@mn thing going wrong after another.

Everything is just reverberating echoes of the Big Bang from the very first Cosmic Accident (I wonder if God's deductable was too big to have this thing repaired properly?).

Imperfection and uncertainty appear to be part and parcel of the Universe from the very beginning, starting at the quantum level, and the whole mess just snowballed from there. Once the initial symmetry of the Universe broke everything just went cattywumpus down the line; matter won out over anti-matter, dark energy won out over gravity, dark matter won out over baryonic matter, and homochirality of L-amino acids and D-sugars. Cosmological constants such as the speed of light and value of gravity may be shifting over time.

On the other hand, if the Universe were perfect, we wouldn't be here.

bc

Posted by: bc | August 1, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

It seems like Feynman learned to tolerate doubt while Duncan and Blake did not. For what are paranoid conspiracy theories but an way to understand the world? Unfortunately, keeping these complicated notions going is exhausting. Maybe it took its toll.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Repost:

Web-metrics for advertisers are very tricky. There are page views, impressions, unique visitors (all of Joel's visitors are unique), and click-thrus for just starters. And there are ways of manipulating each of those stats as well.

I have two meters on my site (Sitemeter and MyBlogLog) because they give slightly different information. I'm running between 150 and 200 visitors a day and 200-300 daily pageviews. Nowhere near enough to justify any advertising whatsoever, but just enough to stroke my ego sufficiently to keep me going.

New comment:

My connections to Scientology are minimal, but you only need to read the relevant chapter of "What Really Happened to The Class Of '65" or study the political history of Clearwater, Florida to develop a case of paranoia.

I made a joke on my blog about Scientologists and got a very intimidating comment about being religiously intolerant.

In Dianetics related news, a sequel has been written to a A.E. Van Vogt classic:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bal-to.scifi30jul30,0,7380427.story

We don't have enough religions invented by science fiction writers.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I love the description of the glass-fronted offices. When I was a contractor we moved into a new building with narrow vertical windows next to each office door. It looked like a high school. Or a zoo. We quickly found ways to block them, including frighteningly intricate mosaics of tinted plastic. (I worked hours on this.) I am curious how the editors will respond.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the whole universe is really anti-matter and we just got the names mixed up. Like when Ben Franklin labeled the poles on batteries backwards.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

For some reason my comment keeps getting withheld. Is it doing it to evrything I say, or did I say something wrong?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I love the touch in which they are hounded by an inordinate number of license plates from Iowa. The notion that you could have this mysterious malevolent entity that can afford to send a huge squad to secretly trail this couple, yet they were too dumb to think of the license plates as a give-away detail; it would be wonderfully funny if it weren't so painfully, and finally fatally, crazy.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the gentleman who likes to disrobe in his office should simply continue to do so. I imagine if anything encourages the management to give him more privacy, the frequent sight of him in his skivvies would be it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, all. There's a really good column by Gary Kamiya in Salon, on editors and blogging, that I think is really worth reposting here:

Let us now praise editors

They may be invisible and their art unsung. But in the age of blogging, editors are needed more than ever.

By Gary Kamiya

Jul. 24, 2007 | I've wanted to write about editors and editing for years, but since I was one of that invisible tribe myself until a year ago, it felt unseemly. But now that I have switched full time to the other side of the desk, I can gush without stint. [That's what you think, bub -- Ed.]

To people not in the business, editing is a mysterious thing. (Actually, it's mysterious to most bloggers, who despite having been in existence for less than 10 years, probably outnumber every writer who ever wrote. But more on them later.) Many times over the past 20 years, people have asked me, "What exactly does an editor do?"

It's not an easy question to answer. Editors are craftsmen, ghosts, psychiatrists, bullies, sparring partners, experts, enablers, ignoramuses, translators, writers, goalies, friends, foremen, wimps, ditch diggers, mind readers, coaches, bomb throwers, muses and spittoons -- sometimes all while working on the same piece. Early in my editing career I was startled when, after we had finished an edit, a crusty, hard-bitten culture writer, a woman at least twice my age, told me, "That was great -- better than sex!"

I make no such exalted claims, but there's no doubt the editing process can be an intimate and gratifying experience for both parties. Although, to pursue our somewhat dubious metaphor, there are also times when writer and editor, instead of lying back and enjoying a soothing post-fact-check cigarette, stare emptily at the ceiling and vow never to share verb tenses with anyone again.

When an editor's lucky, the piece comes in chiseled in immortal Carrara marble, every semicolon in place, ready to be wheeled into the Uffizi Gallery -- that is, straight to publication. (A very rare event.) A good editor knows when to leave a piece alone. Practically every writer has had the unfortunate experience of crossing paths with editors -- often inexperienced ones -- who feel the need to do something, just to show they're doing their job. This is almost as frustrating as the too-many-editors problem, in which a piece bounces from a senior editor to the managing editor to the executive editor, each of whom gives contradictory instructions, and finally ends up in the hands of the editor in chief, who after Olympian reflection pronounces that it was better the way it was when it started. It is experiences like these that lead writers to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: b1tching and moaning about the lameness of editors.

Good editors work with and not against a writer. They calibrate how aggressively they edit according to how good the writer is, how good the piece is, the type of piece it is, the kind of relationship they have with the writer, how tight the deadline is, and what mood they're in. But an editor's primary responsibility is not to the writer but to the reader. He or she must be ruthlessly dedicated to making the piece stronger. Since this is ultimately a subjective judgment, and quite a tricky one, a good editor needs to be as self-confident as a writer.

Most good editors are tactful in communicating with their writers. Bedside manner is important. It isn't so much that writers are sensitive plants -- some are, some aren't -- as that there is a fundamental difference in what each party brings to the table. An editor needs to remember that writing is much harder work than editing. Sending something you've written off into the world exposes you, leaves you vulnerable. It is a creative process, while editing is merely a reactive one.

Of course, some writers are more vulnerable than others. Daily news reporters tend to be like old suits of armor, so dented and dinged by years of combat that they are impervious. When I was an editor at a daily newspaper, I worked with some reporters who had been so ground down by impossible deadlines, column-inch restrictions, and that soul-destroying newspaper specialty of cutting pieces from the bottom that you could replace every adjective in their stories with a different one and they would just shrug. I've also worked with writers who have reacted to my gentle suggestion that one of their precious, ungrammatical commas might perhaps be removed as if I'd insisted that Maria Callas perform "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" as the final aria in Bellini's "Norma." Like a savvy football coach, an editor learns which players need the stick and which the carrot.

Most writers understand that their editor is not a half-literate, envious wannabe who takes perverse joy in mangling their prose, but a professional who is paid to make their work better. Still, the moment when you -- and now I -- open the e-mail your editor has sent you in response to your story is always fraught with anxiety. You've exposed your soul, or at least part of your brain, to another person. What will they do with it?

The truth is, you have to learn how to be edited just as much as you have to learn how to edit. And learning how to be edited teaches you a lot about writing, about distance and objectivity and humility, and ultimately about yourself.

In an odd way, the exchange between writer and editor encapsulates the process of growing up. The act of writing is godlike, omnipotent, infantile. Your piece is a statement delivered from on high, a pronouncement ex cathedra, as egotistical and unchecked as the wail of a baby. Then it goes out into the world, to an editor, and the reality principle rears its ugly head. You are forced as a writer to come to terms with the gap between your idea and your execution -- and still more deflating, between your idea and what your idea should have been.

This isn't easy. You have to let go of your attachment to the specific words you've written and open yourself to what you were aiming for. You need enough confidence in yourself to accept constructive criticism, some of which can feel like your internal organs are being more or less gently moved around. More than just about any other non-artistic activity -- therapy and, yes, sex are possible exceptions -- being edited forces you to see yourself, or at least what you've written, the way others see you. It is a depersonalizing process in some ways, yet having to stand outside yourself deepens you as a person. You need to grow a thick skin in order to have a thinner, more sensitive one.

The good news is that you're not (yet) throwing yourself on the not-so-tender mercies of the readers, but putting yourself in the hands of a smart, sympathetic reader who only wants to clean up your dangling participles, remove your factually incorrect assertions, and turn your Rod McKuen-like treacle into something fit for public consumption. At a certain point, most writers realize this and come to truly value their editors. (Some authors, weary of what they see as a serious decline in the quality of editing in book publishing, go so far as to hire their own editors.) That doesn't mean that the relationship isn't capable of going wrong, or that a writer doesn't inwardly pop a bottle of champagne on those occasions when an editor sends a draft back with next to no changes.

Actually, some writers -- especially old-school reporters -- come to rely on editors too much. Every editor has had the experience of being the recipient of the dread "notebook dump," in which the disjointed, undigested contents of a month's reporting are dumped from a notebook onto the page. At this moment, the editor has to rip off his meek Clark Kent disguise and reveal himself as a writer or, more accurately, a rewriter. (Rewriting someone else's prose, no matter how convoluted or illogical, is never as hard as writing your own. It's still more like knitting or doing a jigsaw puzzle than inventing something.) It isn't just notebook dumps that require massive rewriting, either -- sometimes even good pieces by good writers go off the tracks in really weird ways, and an editor gets called in to clean up the mess, like Mr. Wolf in "Pulp Fiction."

It's good fun now and then to tear apart a piece and put it back together on a short deadline. Your brain is humming like a Ferrari, you've got sections marked A and B and Z and arrows going everywhere; you're rewriting the lede, racing through tricky transitions, doing some fast spot-reporting, getting rid of clunkers from every graf, and pulling together this whole 4,000-word piece in six hours. When you're done, you emerge from your office with smoke pouring from your ears. You've earned your salary and you pour yourself a well-deserved drink. You won't get any fame and glory but as an editor you don't expect any.

Some writers and editors work like this all the time. If a great reporter who can't write has a killer line editor, and they have a good rapport, it's much more efficient to work this way than to make the reporter agonize over how he's going to modulate his conclusion and the editor tiptoe around him. Not every reporter has to be a great writer. Conversely, some people who are good at moving other people's words couldn't pick up a phone, or write a piece themselves, if their life depended on it. This is why in the old days newspapers had "legmen" and "rewrite men." Sometimes I think it might not be a bad idea to bring them back.

The worst-case scenario for an editor is dealing with a writer who by talent should be a legman but who has somehow gone through his career remaining blissfully unaware of this fact. And, I suspect, some writers are aware, but like cunning parasites that attach themselves to larger animals, they ride through their careers clinging to their long-suffering editors. Years ago, I was handed a piece that was written in some unknown language, between Esperanto and pig Latin. Seizing my Rosetta stone, I descended into the foul-smelling cave and emerged hours later, having successfully translated the cryptic runes. Imagine my surprise when I later learned that the writer had used "his" piece to get a job at a good magazine. All I could do was laugh and say a little prayer for whoever would be editing him.

In the brave new world of self-publishing, editors are an endangered species. This isn't all bad. It's good that anyone who wants to publish and has access to a computer now faces no barriers. And some bloggers don't really need editors: Their prose is fluent and conversational, and readers have no expectation that the work is going to be elegant or beautifully shaped. Its main function is to communicate clearly. It isn't intended to last.

Still, editors and editing will be more important than ever as the Internet age rockets forward. The online world is not just about millions of newborn writers exulting in their powers. It's also about millions of readers who need to sort through this endless universe and figure out which writers are worth reading. Who is going to sort out the exceptional ones? Editors, of some type. Some smart group of people is going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And the more refined that separation process is, the more talent -- and perhaps more training -- will be required.

We already use other readers to sort things out for us: My bookmarks are mostly referrals from writers I've learned to trust. Some utopians may dream that an anarcho-Wikipedia model will prevail, that a vast self-correcting democracy of amateurs will end up pointing readers to the most worthwhile pieces. But that is only "editing" in its crudest, most general form -- it's really sorting. In the chaotic new online universe, the old-fashioned, elitist, non-democratic system of sorting information will become increasingly important, if only because it enforces a salutary reduction of the sheer mind-swamping number of options available. The real problem is glut, and it's only going to get worse.

In any case, real editing is something different. It takes place before a piece ever sees the light of day -- and it's this kind of painstaking, word-by-word editing that so much online writing needs. If learning how to be edited is a form of growing up, much of the blogosphere still seems to be in adolescence, loudly affirming its identity and raging against authority. But teenagers eventually realize that authority is not as tyrannical and unhip as they once thought. It's edited prose, with its points sharpened by another, that will ultimately stand the test of time. There is a place for mayfly commentary, which buzzes about and dies in a day. But we don't want to get to the point where the mayflies and mosquitoes are so thick that we can't breathe or think.

The art of editing is running against the cultural tide. We are in an age of volume; editing is about refinement. It's about getting deeper into a piece, its ideas, its structure, its language. It's a handmade art, a craft. You don't learn it overnight. Editing aims at making a piece more like a Stradivarius and less like a microchip. And as the media universe becomes larger and more filled with microchips, we need the violin makers.

So here's to you, editors, whose names never appear on an article, who are unknown except to their peers and to the writers who owe you so much. Keep fitting those delicate pieces of wood together. Use the skill it took you years to acquire. Don't give up and just slap the thing together. Make it light and tight and strong so that it sings. Someone is noticing. Someone is reading. Someone cares.

-30-

I love the term "mayfly commentary."

Loomis, I want to thank you and all Texans everywhere for that pioneering (and self-financed) study on the 237 reasons people gave on why to have sex. Myself, I could only think of half a dozen [one of which had to do with field-testing the new shocks on a '63 Oldsmobile, and another had to do with immortalizing the office xerox machine], but then again, I'm so old this study doesn't do me much good anyhow. Might have helped 35, 40 years ago, I dunno. *big sigh*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, I want to thank you and all Texans everywhere for that pioneering (and self-financed) study on the 237 reasons people gave on why to have sex. Myself, I could only think of half a dozen [one of which had to do with field-testing the new shocks on a '63 Oldsmobile, and another had to do with immortalizing the office xerox machine], but then again, I'm so old this study doesn't do me much good anyhow. Might have helped 35, 40 years ago, I dunno. *big sigh*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I know a lot of soldiers who wish they had the budget to conduct all the operations "black ops" and "psyops" get credit for, even though they wouldn't want to actually achieve those silly paranoia feeding feats. Much thinking to do about the reading of blogs of people whos troubles are only apparent when vision is cleared by hindsight.

Loomis asked what these medal chested warriors would define as success. I wonder too. None of Mr. F's contemporaries has risen beyond the 1 star level so I'm not privy to the casual conversation of true upper management. However, at the next tier I sense a lot doubt not just in the way ahead to the conclusion, but in determining just where we are starting from. Fog of war and all that.

In the latest news from DoD, 20,000 soldiers and marines are readying for deployment to Iraq on a regular replacement schedule. Army personnel expect to be there 15 months, marines 7.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I just want to see if these words are getting my comment stopped:

paranoid
paranoia
crazy

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Tim, I have had three attempts to post inoccuous stuff blocked, too, this morning. Don't know what's going on.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate the element of them being surrounded by an inordinate number of license plates from Iowa. The notion that you could have a malevolent conspiracy that can arrange a huge squad to secretly trail this couple, yet not think of the license plates as a give-away detail; it would be very funny if we didn't know how the story ends.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

*humming an on-topic little ditty by Ray and Dave Davies*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Comments are blocked in a vast conspiracy to make to appear no one responds to Joel's blog.

Posted by: nellie | August 1, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Virtual black helicopters?

Posted by: Raysmom | August 1, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

yello writes;
We don't have enough religions invented by science fiction writers.

Speaking of science fiction...:
NYT, June 15, 2004
Donna L. Shirley used to run NASA's Mars exploration program. Now she is doing something even more far out.

Ms. Shirley, who retired from NASA in 1998, is director of the new Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame here [Seattle, anyone visited?], set to open on June 18. Instead of pointing space probes at the next rock out from the Sun, she now oversees exhibits exploring the universe of ''What if?,'' from genetic engineering to aliens to parallel worlds. ...

When she joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1966, she was the only woman with an engineering degree, hired to work on a planned mission to Mars that was canceled a few years later after budget cuts. ...

''I remember one meeting,'' Ms. Shirley said. ''Everything was going so smoothly and all of a sudden we realized it was all women, and it never happened to any of us before. We'd never been in a meeting where there were no men. Times are a-changin'.''

But the Mars Pathfinder's success and the new mantra ''better, faster, cheaper'' led NASA to build and send two more spacecraft, the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander, for just the price of the Pathfinder.

''I could see disaster coming, and the expectations were too large,'' Ms. Shirley said, but she could not get anyone to pay attention. ''It was too depressing coming into work and watching everybody kill themselves to try to do the impossible with no appreciation from NASA headquarters that it was impossible.''

In 1998, a frustrated Ms. Shirley retired.

The next year, both spacecraft were lost. A confusion between English and metric units caused the Climate Orbiter to descend too far in the Martian atmosphere, where it was torn apart; a design flaw in the Polar Lander is believed to have shut off the landing rockets prematurely, causing it to crash.

NASA has remedied such problems with the two rovers now on Mars, she said. But she worries that President Bush's vision for sending astronauts to the Moon and Mars also lacks adequate financing. NASA's plans currently call for money saved from the retirement of the space shuttles to be diverted to the new exploration missions, but Ms. Shirley said alternatives for carrying astronauts and cargo into space would not be much cheaper or safer. She testified before House Science Committee in March recommending that financial incentives be offered for private companies to develop rockets.

After NASA, Ms. Shirley spent four years as an assistant dean at the University of Oklahoma's College of Engineering, then retired again. She moved to Seattle, where her daughter lives.

Then the science fiction museum called. ''So here I am,'' Ms. Shirley said.

*Mudge, There's a Texas connection to the study you mentioned? Musta missed it...

Posted by: Loomis | August 1, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

So van Vogt supported Hubbard's nonsense? Interesting. I never actually got around to reading any van Vogt -- I intend to do so, someday.

Years ago, when Algis Budrys still wrote a very good book-review and literary-criticism column for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, he briefly touched on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. I think this was before Hubbard died, and one of his old books was being reissued. It was interesting how Budrys very precisely withheld any endorsement from Scientology while avoiding any criticism, on the grounds of long-standing personal friendship with Hubbard. It was interesting, also, how he clearly described this dance as being exactly what he intended to do, in order to avoid the perception of supporting any side in a dispute.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Tim - I had a longer post held too. So I just rewrote it much shorter. Maybe they are trying to tell us that pithiness is next to godliness.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I just had a comment held--about Ms. Shirley, formerly of NASA, and Seattle's science fiction museum. Very tame material. What gives?

Mudge, there's a Texas connection to the study you mentioned. Musta missed it.

Posted by: Loomis | August 1, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Aha! I just learned that L. Ron Hubbard was born in... Iowa. Explains those license plates, doesn't it?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Wait, wait, I wasn't paying close attention. L. Ron's father was born in Iowa. L. Ron was born in Nebraska.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

>Aha! I just learned that L. Ron Hubbard was born in...

I'll never forget the guy at the Scientology hotel in Clearwater who wanted me to help sort folders for L. Ron's birthday. I can just say no all day. It really made him crazy.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 1, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

FYI, I added some transcripts.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 1, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I'll find out what's happening with the comments bot.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 1, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite Feynman quotes is one he made after being asked to look into some of the claims about "little green men" and such.

He said "It tells me more about the irrationality of terrestrial life than the rationality of extra-terrestrial life."

Posted by: pj | August 1, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Suggestion: Make a copy of the comment before you attempt to post it. If it doesn't go through, email it to me here at achenbachj@washpost.com ... thanks.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 1, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten;

Would you care to disect Sen. Obama's ideas re: Iraq & Afghanistan, or shall I?

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks JA for the Obama excerpt. I think the Senator has a pretty good grasp of the situation, and I have been harping about the Afghanistan for years. We seem to be following the Arafat mode there of "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. However, where would the two brigades come from? More extensions in Iraq, shorter intervals between deployments?

Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Feynman on this: "You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing to have answers which might be wrong." Maybe I'm just an incurious knucklehead, but I don't feel a need to examine and understand everything. It definitely eliminates a certain amount of angst, anyway.

RD, so good to hear the news about your doggie. Aren't you glad she went to the specialist?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke-do share your thoughts.

SCC- omit "the" before Afghanistan, close quotes after second "opportunity."

Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Suicide is so tragic. After I read those words, I kind of stopped reading, as that was the rouute my Mom took. I've a busy afternoon ahead. Be happy; direct a random act of kindness toward someone today.

Posted by: jack | August 1, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, frostbitten, I see an immediate contradiction --

He'll "end the war" but "maintain sufficient forces in the area to target all Al Qaida within Iraq."

Hello?

The implication is he'd use airstrikes, Predators and such. You need U.S. boots on the ground, however, to to the targeting. Unless of course you want to get your targeting information from Iraqi officials. And as long as U.S. boots are on Iraqi soil, the basic problem remains.

If he could pull off that miracle and free up two more brigades, I do agree Afghanistan is a more appropriate fight at this point.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think if we pulled out of Iraq, the locals of whatever persuasion would pretty much execute all the al Qaeda folks overnight. Problem solved. (However, I agree there would be all sorts of other chaos, but then, there's all sorts of other chaos anyhow. Better to have that chaos and civil war without us in the middle of it, if it's going to happen no matter what. And it is.)

What Cheney doesn't understand (because he's a big doo-doo head, as I believe has been referenced before) about Washington, Lincoln, et al., is that unlike Arbusto/Cheney, Washington and Lincoln had essentially correct overall strategies, and also didn't make many mistakes. (Which isn't to say they didn't lose battles; they did, though Lincoln, unlike Washington, wasn't a field commander conducting campaigns.) By comparing himself to Lincoln and Washington, Cheney's only trying to wrap himself in the cloak of their greatness. He might as well wrap himself in a tattered old housecoat. (And both Washington and Lincoln had military experience before coming to office or running the Revolutionary War army. Cheney had "other priorities," and Arbusto went AWOL. Lincoln and Washington were both excellent judges of and handlers of men. Cheney and Bush picked Torqueberto, Michael Brown, and Harriet Miers.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to the magic of the modern age, the source of that Feynman quotation is available ontube:

http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=106

Posted by: Blake Stacey | August 1, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Paranoia is no fun, trust me. During my last (and final, I hope) relapse, I basically hid out in the house and wouldn't leave for nothing. Not even the back porch felt safe (and it's enclosed). I wouldn't answer the phone and nearly jumped out of my skin whenever I'd hear a car door close. I don't know who I thought was trying to get me or why, but that really didn't matter at the time -- all I knew was that "they" were after me.

Anyway...

Web metrics are about as exact a science as astrology. Well, maybe not *that* bad. Maybe more along the lines reliability-wise as psychology. It's easy enough to see how much data is transfered from a server and the IP addresses of all the computers that retrieved that data, but beyond that, it gets muddy very quickly.

For instance, say you want to know how many individual users access your site in a day. First, you'd have to be able to tell the difference between a public computer (say, at a school or library) and a privately owned one -- nearly impossible. A public computer may be used by many different people to access your site, but all the activity gets chalked up to a single IP address. How useful is that? Even privately owned computers can have multiple users. Then there are the automated bots and news aggregators (relatively easy to identify the most popular ones, but new ones come online every day). Then you have to consider the people who surf anonymously with a spoofed IP via anonymizer.com and other sites (potentially thousands of individuals showing up under the same IP address). What about individuals who surf on multiple computers?

The very best you can come up with is an approximation.

The only really reliable way to identify the number of real people visiting a site is to force all visitors to register and login before any content is delivered. That still doesn't prevent a person from setting up multiple accounts. It also doesn't prevent several people from sharing one account.

Now my head hurts (this is one reason why I left the programming biz).

Peace out...

[12]

Posted by: martooni | August 1, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Scotty, very good assessment of the contradiction I totally missed in my comment.

I wish the presidential candidates would take a hint from the pointy head types and start defining some terms. Does end the war mean pull everyone out post haste? (which would mean months not days) Pull out in a phased withdrawal? Pull most of the forces out but have a long term "residual" force?


Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

That Feynman quote sure is a goodie, although I did find myself snickering at the part about the cretainty [sic]. (I think there's a "than" missing from the first sentence of the quote, too -- although I won't go so far as to say I'm cretain of it.)

Posted by: Tom fan | August 1, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I've just returned from my lunchtime walk, and can report that the situation is far more dire than I suspected. They've penetrated the outer defenses. I've seen them. Two. Three. Maybe more. Because it's the ones you don't see that are a danger. But I can feel them. Watching me as I walk. Watching and waiting. Because they are clever. Clever and silent. It's just a matter of time before the breach the inner perimeter. Soon they will be here. Our deepest fear has become a reality.

We're being invaded by Groundhogs.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC:
I meant the second sentence, not the first.
I am a cretin.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 1, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

RD--Are you being paranoid (and on-topic), or do you think Error's 'hogs have relocated?

Posted by: Moose | August 1, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

That Wit Of The Staircase blog is very fascinating and not just from a post-tragedy rubber-necking point of view.

I wonder how long those posts will remain frozen in amber now that there is no one to maintain the site. It sits in silent memorial.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-I agree with your comment that there would be "all sorts of chaos." What bothers me most about the big DDH's conduct of the war is the assumption that prolonging our involvement is going to help avoid that chaos.

I fear that when we leave, whether in two months, two years, or two decades, the Iraqis will suffer through some bloody and terrible times. Having our boots on the ground just delays the inevitable.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Moose - both.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I read that link about the New York couple. Very sad, and what a waste. I looked at her blog. On May 18th she posted 'Stories Read in Childhood', with a quote. That quote linked to that story, the real one, not the disneyized version, should have sent a message to someone close to her. Its about a mermaid who killed herself because she could not have that which she loved.

Hans Christian Anderson always gave me the willies. I read some of his stories as a kid, but never really enjoyed them. As an adult, I conciously choose to not read his stories to my kids. I just never thought of them as fit for children reading.

Posted by: dr | August 1, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

>We're being invaded by Groundhogs.

Oh my. I feel I must take some responsibility for this. (But to be clear, no actual culpability, blame or involvement in financial damages.)

I knew they were going to push back when I got Trapper Ed out there... he looks like he was born in that camo shirt. I knew they moved to the perimeter, put sentries down the road and even stationed advance surveillance down the shore, but I had no idea they'd go straight to D.C. and take on, well, you know.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 1, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Not to make light of such a terrible tragedy, but paranoid delusions seem to be increasingly common. I suspect that as we are exposed to more and more information, the temptation to stitch things together into a coherent thread of hidden threats and secret conspiracies will become irresistible to many.

Of course, that's just what I have been instructed to say by my secret alien masters.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

We need to pull back to a few well defended bases in Iraq and leave the rest alone. We need to reinvigorate our allies on the ground in Afghanistan before the Taliban returns. And we need to give careful thought to the warnings of David Ignatius.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/30/AR2007073001271.html

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

As I have posted in tedious detail before, I suspect the best path forward is a compromise. We need to pull some of our troops back to a few well-defended bases and send the rest home.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

TomFan, I concur with your deduction of a missing "than," and the video linked by Blake Stacey makes it clear that Feynmann actually said "than."

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Interesting historical question - if the CSA did leave and the U.S. became two separate countries in the 1860s. I would say there is a better than even chance that the U.S. would have re-formed, probably prior to 1900.

Posted by: SonofCarl | August 1, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The caveat to my theory is that the later an actual split occurred, the less likely it would have been for an early reunion.

It also crossed my mind that maybe a split would have ended up with an early North American union, but on reflection I don't think so. Upper Canadians were too hitched to the Empire wagon for it to happen until well into the 20th C. Quebec might have been interested in a new federation, however.

Posted by: SonofCarl | August 1, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link to the Feynman interview where the quote came from:

http://tinyurl.com/2dhequ

Posted by: Dave Bittner | August 1, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought that, too, SoC.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tom Fan...Fixed now.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 1, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

(Yawn). The tale of that New York couple reminds me of getting to know Matt Groening's boyhood milkman. The guy was into conspiracy theories, but the conspiracies were all safely located abroad. Things like the collapse of the Soviet Union being a big sham intended to get the US to ditch its defences. Good for him that he didn't think his house was being spied on by conspirators based at the Lucky Lab (a bar, not a chemical-weapons outfit).

Last night, I noticed the State Department's foreign per diem rates. I doubt that they're as accurate a guide to hotel and eating costs as the GSA's domestic per diem rates, but it's interesting to see how high prices are in major European cities. London and Rome are horrible, Paris slightly less horrible (if you avoid the Ratatoille restaurant), Oslo looks half-decent, and Lyon's a bargain. Bulgaria even more so. Interestingly, Japan looks relatively affordable, especially the smaller cities. Taiwan is an outright bargain. Havana seemed reasonable, too, but Costa Rica, some of the nicer Mexican cities, and some of the smaller Caribbean islands look cheaper and nicer.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 1, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Paranoia can also be a great way for two people to bond. You know, a real intimacy builder. The sense that only you and that special someone understand the truth, and everyone else is engaged in a horrible conspiracy can be perversely attractive. For what is more hopelessly romantic and mutually validating than being surrounded by enemies?

I secretly think that's part of why people have children.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Is this thing on?

Posted by: martooni | August 1, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Tried to post this earlier, but was rejected.

And just when I was starting to build up a little self-esteem.

Paranoia is no fun, trust me. During my last (and final, I hope) relapse, I basically hid out in the house and wouldn't leave for nothing. Not even the back porch felt safe (and it's enclosed). I wouldn't answer the phone and nearly jumped out of my skin whenever I'd hear a car door close. I don't know who I thought was trying to get me or why, but that really didn't matter at the time -- all I knew was that "they" were after me.

Anyway...

Web metrics are about as exact a science as astrology. Well, maybe not *that* bad. Maybe more along the lines reliability-wise as psychology. It's easy enough to see how much data is transfered from a server and the IP addresses of all the computers that retrieved that data, but beyond that, it gets muddy very quickly.

For instance, say you want to know how many individual users access your site in a day. First, you'd have to be able to tell the difference between a public computer (say, at a school or library) and a privately owned one -- nearly impossible. A public computer may be used by many different people to access your site, but all the activity gets chalked up to a single IP address. How useful is that? Even privately owned computers can have multiple users. Then there are the automated bots and news aggregators (relatively easy to identify the most popular ones, but new ones come online every day). Then you have to consider the people who surf anonymously with a spoofed IP via anonymizer.com and other sites (potentially thousands of individuals showing up under the same IP address). What about individuals who surf on multiple computers?

The very best you can come up with is an approximation.

The only really reliable way to identify the number of real people visiting a site is to force all visitors to register and login before any content is delivered. That still doesn't prevent a person from setting up multiple accounts. It also doesn't prevent several people from sharing one account.

Now my head hurts (this is one reason why I left the programming biz).

Peace out...

[12]

Posted by: martooni | August 1, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Dangit.

Will somebody please pour a beer on the server and give it a swift kick in the chips?

I was trying to post a little something about paranoia, but kept getting rejected. I smell a conspiracy.

Posted by: martooni | August 1, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

It's kicking back anything more than a few sentences. In my case, probably as a public service.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

My hunch with respect to CSA is that the northern states would never have tolerated having their shipping routes to the Gulf controlled by a foreign government. Since farmlands along the Mississippi were evidently becoming the economic heart of the South (at the expense of older areas like coastal South Carolina), I don't see how anything short of a half-million British troops could have secured a southern victory.

Then again, Washington during the Lincoln Administration was awash in paranoia. Spies everywhere. All sorts of arrangements to capture government officials. Why wasn't the Vice President kept tucked away in a secure location somewhere around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 1, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

And Goolge has looked at Frosti's "boots" remark and decided this blog is inhabited by bikers.

DoubleH Boots at BootBarn
We have a Great Selection of HH Western & Motorcycle Boots
www.BootBarn.com

Motorcycle.com
Thousands of motorcycle articles, reviews, performance tests & more!
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Long Underwear for Bikers
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www.shiverswear.com

Posted by: nellie | August 1, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl - your comments about "alternative histories" reminds me a lot of what Cheney is asserting in terms of Iraq. He is basing his arguments on an assertion of what would have happened had we *not* "liberated" Iraq. In his story, far, far more horrible things would have happened that what are happening now. This is a very common way for anyone to get around admitting a mistake because it is extremely hard to refute.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

lemme know when this get's fixed. I'm gonna go take Weingarten's poll.
Oh. Right.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, thank you.

RD, you should see (or read) Tracy Letts' "Bug." A great play that I saw in New York when it first opened. Bears out your paranoia-as-bonding-agent theory. Oh, I just googled it, and apparently there is a movie. That makes it easier.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, RD. And sheer numbers aren't reliable. It is possible for two parents to be outnumbered by two children. Occasionally, even by one.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 1, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

dbG, you there? How does October 11-15 sound?

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

RD... I like the conspiracy theory explanation better.

btw... before I forget...

[12]

:-)

Posted by: martooni | August 1, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Cheney's whole defense of our actions in Iraq is based on a scary alternative history story.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Test. The comment flurbs are enough to make one paranoid.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed feelings about suicide. Many suicides are motivated by a desire to affect others-"Boy they'll be sorry when I'm gone!" A boy in my high school class killed himself for just that reason. Pointless waste. On the other hand, there are instances where suicide is a rational choice. 22 years ago a very dear friend of mine OD'ed after decades of slow grinding decline with multiple sclerosis. She made her decision at the point when her physical condition had deteriorated so that she could not work, could not walk, etc. and she feared that she soon would not be able to open the pill bottle without help. She had no desire to involve family or friends in her death, so she picked a time when she was alone at home and... took a long nap. I grieved at the time and have thought of her many times since, but I can't fault her actions. As an atheist, I have no ideas about any further existence, no divine plan, and no church defining "sin" for me. Placed in the same situation, I might well make the same decision.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 1, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Remember: Even paranoids have enemies.

I have a bunch of alternate history novels on the metaphorical nightstand and the "if the South won" subgenre is so overdone it borders on cliche. I find the crypto-racism of all the CSA worshipers distasteful. It's fun to dress up in re-enactor clothes and marvel at how the South got all the competent generals, but their cause was unjust. Say what you want about states rights and regional pride, the confederate caterwauling was because they were on the wrong side of history.

I think that a CSA victory would have set a precendent for succession and would have resulted in the Balkanization of at least the South, if not the whole continent.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

That is Cheney argues that if we hadn't gone into Iraq the world things would be much worse.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Wickedness, perfidy, paranoia, paranoid, crazy, conspiracy, malevolent, Iowa, Duncan.

Just checking to see if these words, all scrunched together sentence-like, might explain why the Worty Dird Filter hates me.

Posted by: LexicalTim | August 1, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It's not the words. It's the length of the posts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Justifications based on scary alternative histories are hard to refute.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Remember: Even paranoids have enemies.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a bunch of alternate history novels on the metaphorical nightstand and the "if the South won" subgenre is so overdone it borders on cliche. I find the crypto-racism of all the CSA worshipers distasteful. It's fun to dress up in re-enactor clothes and marvel at how the South got all the competent generals, but their cause was unjust.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I have a bunch of alternate history novels on the metaphorical nightstand and the "if the South won" subgenre is so overdone it borders on cliche.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I find the crypto-racism of all the CSA worshipers distasteful. It's fun to dress up in re-enactor clothes and marvel at how the South got all the competent generals, but their cause was unjust.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

It's no fun if you can't be long-winded.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tim, it isn't "Iowa, Duncan"; it's Idaho, Duncan." See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Idaho for biography.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

No, it's not just the length of the posts. I have tried cutting-down my comment into individual paragraphs. It croaks on sending just the first paragraph (of three short ones), even though my first paragraph is much shorter than some that have been posted successfully. Like, if you are seeing it, this one.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Yoki. I agree. I have read "The Hephaestus Plague" by Thomas Page

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

It's the Boodle: Fortune Cookie Edition.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 1, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

*still humming that little tune by the Kinks*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it's the kit that has driven the google biker ads, like Sturgis Bike Rally 2007.

Lexical Tim used "perfidy." Should Cheney's heart hold out I can see him as COO of the firm Hubris and Perfidy.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 1, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

That's right, yellojkt, and just because you're paranoid, that doesn't prove that we aren't all talking about you behind your back, or that Joel isn't personally rejecting your posts, or that the FBI hasn't put your IP address on a blacklist. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that "they" aren't all out to get you. This is one of my favorite truths about the universe. You really can't know anything for sure; the best strategy is to embrace the uncertainty.

Bush and Cheney and company don't get this concept.

If the bot would reject most of my comments it would save me the trouble of trying to decide, on a one-by-one basis, which to submit and which to delete. It's a hard decision and at the end of the day I'm usually sure I chose the wrong ones.

Since this one is long, I will treat it like a gamble--I'll just throw it up there and see if it sticks to the ceiling.

kurosawaguy: if they get the comment monster under control, I wish you would try again with the comments that you couldn't get through yesterday. We've got a longstanding k-guy deficit that needs to be worked on, in my opinion.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 1, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey, either the bot likes me (reverse paranoia; there IS such a thing)--or else it's fixed. Or else there's some other explanation.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 1, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

People in Florida may post (kbertocci, dave of the coonties). Others must condense. Conspiracy will flourish.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 1, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody. Lessee if I can get a quote to post. This one, from G.K. Chesterton, made me LOL:

The skeptic is too credulous: he believes in newspapers or even in encyclopaedias.

Posted by: Slyness | August 1, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

My off-topic post on faster-than-light travel didn't get through. How about this one?

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

So... what do you think, is faster-than-light travel possible? Personally, I say no. If relativity applies under normal circumstances (which has been demonstrated), it seems hard to accept that you could find some way to transit non-relativistically between two locations in which relativity applies perfectly well, but avoid relativity during the transit. How do you account for the rate of time in each location and the fact that the rates are different relative to one another? You still need to make a relativistic acceleration at one end of the transit or the other in order to be at rest with the end location. What rate of time applies while you are in transit? Non-relativistic travel implies that there must be some preferred frame of reference in which time passes at a "true" rate, regardless of either of the end locations. That is inconsistent with existence within a universe in which relativity otherwise is fully supported. I suppose you could do the Wrinkle in Time trick, fold the universe itself, and thereby transit rapidly between two locations. However, the wrinkling process, I expect, would be relativitistically limited. You could do it, but you have to invest hundreds or thousands of years to create the circumstances under which you can accomplish the transit in a few minutes -- ultimately, no advantage compared to just traveling between the two points. Unless you create a central hub that is connected to many other locations, as an investment in the future of your galaxy-spanning empire...

Myself, I favor suspended animation. Or, mapping your intellect into an artificial device that can slow its own perception of time in order to accomplish transit without undue discomfort.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm rather worried by Joel's meeting with the super-boss. You need to discuss the future of the blog? Yikes.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen Nineteen Twenty TwentyOne TwentyTwo TwentyThree TwentyFour TwentyFive TwentySix TwentySeven TwentyEight TwentyNine Thirty ThirtyOne ThirtyTwo ThirtyThree ThirtyFour ThirtyFive ThirtySix ThirtySeven ThirtyEight ThirtyNine Forty FortyOne FortyTwo FortyThree FortyFour FortyFive FortySix FortySeven FortyEight FortyNine Fifty FiftyOne FiftyTwo FiftyThree FiftyFour FiftyFive FiftySix FiftySeven
FiftyEight FiftyNine Sixty SixtyOne SixtyTwo SixtyThree SixtyFour SixtyFive
...I can go continue...

Posted by: LTL-CA | August 1, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, that makes me think of a Mark Twain quote:

"Be careful reading health books. You may die of a misprint."

(...and that quote always reminds me of Weingarten)

Posted by: kbertocci | August 1, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I think the bloviating filter is set too high.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle is no fun if you can't be long-winded.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The bot message says, "Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner."

Joel: ask Newman, WHERE ARE THOSE COMMENTS? I bet they are saved somewhere on the washingtonpost.com server. It would be fun to post all those reject comments together somewhere and then link to the page. Comment smorgasbord! Comment goulash! Probably, pretty much like a regular everyday boodle.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 1, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen Nineteen Twenty TwentyOne TwentyTwo TwentyThree TwentyFour TwentyFive TwentySix TwentySeven TwentyEight TwentyNine Thirty ThirtyOne ThirtyTwo ThirtyThree ThirtyFour ThirtyFive ThirtySix ThirtySeven ThirtyEight ThirtyNine Forty FortyOne FortyTwo FortyThree FortyFour FortyFive FortySix FortySeven FortyEight FortyNine Fifty FiftyOne FiftyTwo FiftyThree FiftyFour FiftyFive FiftySix FiftySeven FiftyEight FiftyNine Sixty SixtyOne SixtyTwo SixtyThree SixtyFour SixtyFive SixtySix SixtySeven SixtyEight SixtyNine Seventy SeventyOne SeventyTwo SeventyThree SeventyFour SeventyFive SeventySix SeventySeven SeventyEight SeventyNine Eighty EightyOne EightyTwo EightyThree EightyFour EightyFive EightySix EightySeven EightyEight EightyNine Ninety NinetyOne NinetyTwo NinetyThree NinetyFour NinetyFive NinetySix NinetySeven NinetyEight NinetyNine OneHundred OneHundredOne OneHundredTwo OneHundredThree OneHundredFour OneHundredFive OneHundredSix OneHundredSeven OneHundredEight OneHundredNine OneHundredTen OneHundredEleven OneHundredTwelve OneHundredThirteen OneHundredFourteen OneHundredFifteen OneHundredSixteen OneHundredSeventeen OneHundredEighteen OneHundredNineteen OneHundredTwenty OneHundredTwentyOne OneHundredTwentyTwo OneHundredTwentyThree OneHundredTwentyFour OneHundredTwentyFive OneHundredTwentySix OneHundredTwentySeven OneHundredTwentyEight OneHundredTwentyNine OneHundredThirty OneHundredThirtyOne OneHundredThirtyTwo OneHundredThirtyThree OneHundredThirtyFour OneHundredThirtyFive OneHundredThirtySix OneHundredThirtySeven OneHundredThirtyEight OneHundredThirtyNine OneHundredForty OneHundredFortyOne OneHundredFortyTwo OneHundredFortyThree OneHundredFortyFour OneHundredFortyFive OneHundredFortySix OneHundredFortySeven OneHundredFortyEight OneHundredFortyNine OneHundredFifty OneHundredFiftyOne OneHundredFiftyTwo OneHundredFiftyThree OneHundredFiftyFour OneHundredFiftyFive OneHundredFiftySix OneHundredFiftySeven OneHundredFiftyEight OneHundredFiftyNine OneHundredSixty OneHundredSixtyOne OneHundredSixtyTwo OneHundredSixtyThree OneHundredSixtyFour OneHundredSixtyFive OneHundredSixtySix OneHundredSixtySeven OneHundredSixtyEight OneHundredSixtyNine OneHundredSeventy OneHundredSeventyOne OneHundredSeventyTwo OneHundredSeventyThree OneHundredSeventyFour OneHundredSeventyFive OneHundredSeventySix OneHundredSeventySeven OneHundredSeventyEight OneHundredSeventyNine OneHundredEighty OneHundredEightyOne OneHundredEightyTwo OneHundredEightyThree OneHundredEightyFour OneHundredEightyFive OneHundredEightySix OneHundredEightySeven OneHundredEightyEight OneHundredEightyNine OneHundredNinety OneHundredNinetyOne OneHundredNinetyTwo OneHundredNinetyThree OneHundredNinetyFour OneHundredNinetyFive OneHundredNinetySix OneHundredNinetySeven OneHundredNinetyEight OneHundredNinetyNine TwoHundred TwoHundredOne TwoHundredTwo TwoHundredThree TwoHundredFour TwoHundredFive TwoHundredSix TwoHundredSeven TwoHundredEight TwoHundredNine TwoHundredTen TwoHundredEleven TwoHundredTwelve TwoHundredThirteen TwoHundredFourteen TwoHundredFifteen TwoHundredSixteen TwoHundredSeventeen TwoHundredEighteen TwoHundredNineteen TwoHundredTwenty TwoHundredTwentyOne TwoHundredTwentyTwo TwoHundredTwentyThree TwoHundredTwentyFour TwoHundredTwentyFive TwoHundredTwentySix TwoHundredTwentySeven TwoHundredTwentyEight TwoHundredTwentyNine TwoHundredThirty TwoHundredThirtyOne TwoHundredThirtyTwo TwoHundredThirtyThree TwoHundredThirtyFour TwoHundredThirtyFive TwoHundredThirtySix TwoHundredThirtySeven TwoHundredThirtyEight TwoHundredThirtyNine TwoHundredForty TwoHundredFortyOne TwoHundredFortyTwo TwoHundredFortyThree TwoHundredFortyFour TwoHundredFortyFive TwoHundredFortySix TwoHundredFortySeven TwoHundredFortyEight TwoHundredFortyNine TwoHundredFifty

Posted by: LTL-CA | August 1, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

And the Smithsonian continues to auger in... *SIGHHHH*

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/01/AR2007080101379.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle Comment Goulash would have several versions of my same one over and over again.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Sudden comment-appearance. My FTL comment is here, plus one or two others that were "held for approval." Apprently, they have been approved.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle is no fun if you can't be long-winded.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Most of my vaporized comments regarded the death of Ingmar Bergman and contained the phrase "duva sh1tska". Go figure.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 1, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, speaking of crabcakes, the Post had this recipe today: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2007/08/01/andrew-evanss-crab-cakes/

I personally don't care for tartar sauce, so I'd never make any his way. But some people like it. (I prefer a dab of cocktail sauce. To each his own.)

It accompanied this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/31/AR2007073100419.html?hpid=smartliving

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, I read about half of that Smithsonian article and gave up, shaking my head in digust. The guy used limo service? And they claim it was covered under the JTR? Sheesh, Raysdad has to beg on bended knee to use on-airport car rentals and cover the extra $3 a day.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 1, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I had crabcakes once at the National Press Club, served with a delicious spicy mayonnaise sauce. I've never managed to reproduce it.

I don't think the Evans' sauce is tartar as much a "piquant mayonnaise" based on Escoffier's recipe. I've made it for salmon and found it delicious, though I won't put standard tartar sauce in my mouth.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I have a bunch of alternate history novels on the metaphorical nightstand and the "if the South won" subgenre is so overdone it borders on cliche. I find the crypto-racism of all the CSA worshipers distasteful. It's fun to dress up in re-enactor clothes and marvel at how the South got all the competent generals, but their cause was unjust. Say what you want about states rights and regional pride, the confederate caterwauling was because they were on the wrong side of history.

I think that a CSA victory would have set a precedent for succession and would have resulted in the Balkanization of at least the South, if not the whole continent.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy,

Somewhere I saw a link to "The Dove." I'll try to remember where I saw it and post a link. It had the first appearance of Madeline Kahn, didn't it?

Posted by: pj | August 1, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom;

As I read, I was getting a very strong mental image of four-legged creatures with flat snouts and large bellies, shoving each other out of the way at a large, shallow structure...

*SIGHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 1, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

What is this CSA of which you speak? I thought CSA was when farmers delivered a weekly box of produce.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Boodle floodgates seem to have opened. I used to do work with SI on a very low level and the deferred maintenance backlog on our crown jewel museums is astounding. It's nice to know the caviar and champagne was flowing in the limos of the executive suite.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 1, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Boodle comment-goulash, indeed. That's what we have happening here.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Many formerly held comments suddenly appeared above. Randomness? Coincidence? Or something else?

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 1, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I note that Evans' crabcake is dead simple: an egg yolk, a cup of lite mayo, a teaspoon of Old Bay, and a pound of crabmeat. The list doesn't say it but the directions do: he uses four cups of bread crumbs, too, which strikes me as a lot. I'd want a little less mayo, plus some mustard. But hey, he won the contest, so what do I know?

I think I do like the notion of sitting the crabcake on that fried crouton, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I was trying to post, earlier. The first paragraph appears several times, in various edited forms, in the goulash of ancient comments that has suddenly streamed forth:

I am intrigued by the element of Duncan noticing that they were surrounded by an inordinate number of license plates from Iowa. The notion that you could have a conspiracy that can arrange a huge squad to secretly trail this couple, yet not think of the license plates as a give-away detail: it would be very funny if we didn't know how the story ends.

If she could have used that paranoia as literary grist, it would have been pretty good stuff -- like Illuminatus, a crazy story in which there are dark and mysterious underpinnings behind everything mildly annoying or inconvenient or not quite reasonable. It makes everything about you into something Important. Something Big.

Unfortunately, if you tell a story in which everything happens because of how Important you are, it is desperately boring to everyone who isn't you. You need to undercut your own singular importance in the story in order to universalize the experience. A truly paranoid person seems unlikely to do that. To see yourself as just one person among many, and not occupying the center of a network of intrigues and secret doings, being the driving force of history; well, it would take away the whole value of being paranoid, wouldn't it?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, it's Confederate States of America, aka the Confederacy, aka the South during the Civil War. Parallel to USA.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Although "Can't Stomach Arbusto" works, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry too much about the Smithsonian, Scottynuke. This just marks the final departure of the "Small minds" those high flying business execs brought in to make culture and science turn a profit. Lead by "Scary Larry" the now departed Secretary, they promised to lead the institution out of the financial woods by wooing big buck donors and wrangling advantagious contracts, but all they really accomplished was to pad their perks and besmirch the name of the Smithsonian with scandal. WaPo is playing this all up big because such obvious sleaze makes an easy target. Pols on both sides are happy to jump up and down and fuss about a few thousand dollars of corruption because SI is a stray dog that everybody kicks cause they know it can't bite back. DOD and Homeland Security waste more money in the time it takes me to walk the dog in the morning than Smithsonian execs wasted in eight years, but you won't see Sen. Grassley investigating them anytime soon.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 1, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I am encouraged that the Smithsonian is cleaning house. If the house has to be cleaned, it's inevitable that you will discover nasty things. The good thing is that the nasty things are being eliminated.

I am amused that Beers' lawyer defends him by claiming that the problem is poor record-keeping by Smithsonian Business Ventures, for which Beers should not be held responsible -- but Smithsonian Business Ventures is the organization that Beers headed, so the "poor record-keeping" for which "he is being held responsible" was, in fact, ultimately his responsibility.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 1, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, you left out my fave- "The War of Northern Aggression."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 1, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Being a born-and-bred Yankee, K-guy, that particular one was never high on my list.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 1, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

re: web article on Pilot Error Suspected in Brazil Plane Crash.
Again Del Wilber reports only the superficial because he just does not understand aviation.
Question: Since when does an autothrottle control just one individual engine? Thats stupid...(but possibly French). AutoThrottles (plural) control the thrust of BOTH engines to maintain a designated airspeed. To insinuate that the pilots turned off one engine autothrottle without turning off the other is poor reporting due to poor understanding, due to poor investigation.
However, if this is true of an AirBus, wherein the engineers design systems to stop pilots from doing their jobs, then a contributing factor in the crash HAS to be the manufacturer. This is AirBus's design philosophy and why I will never voluntarily fly on an AirBus. Pilots have years and years of experience and expertise. To stop them from doing their jobs by design is criminal! Witness all the problems with AirBus planes...can't turn off autopilot, can't apply go-around power when needed, can't bank over 30 degrees even when needed....the list goes on. All because the French engineers think pilots are stupid and design systems to work contrary to what may be needed in flight.
Your article quotes: "when the pilots applied the brakes, the second engine automatically attempted to accelerate to maintain the preset 150 mph speed". Thats a stupid statement! If the engine wanted to maintain that speed, it would have accelerated the entire way from flare to touchdown, where airspeed is continually decreasing, not just when the brakes were applied. Goodness...understand what you are saying before you open your mouth, else we think you are a politician!
Bruce Anderson
Horseshoe Bay, TX

Posted by: Bruce Anderson | August 1, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Good coverage of Murdoch deal by the WSJ itself:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118595206198884573.html?mod=hpp_us_whats_news

The Bancroft family has controlled Dow Jones since 1902. While Dow Jones accounts for less than half the family's fortune of roughly $2.5 billion, the company had long been the Bancrofts' source of pride and prestige. Dow Jones was also the main glue holding together the family, which today consists of nearly three dozen adult members scattered across the globe. Some deliberated on the offer from vacation destinations around the world, including China, Spain, the Austrian Alps and waters off the coast of Corsica.

Their bonds were tested during the debate over the deal. Cousins and siblings were pitted against one another. Parents fought their children.

In the days leading up to the deal, the stress was severe. Just hours before a Monday deadline for the family to vote on the transaction, William Cox Jr., the only living Bancroft who spent his entire career at the company, went into a diabetic shock. He was briefly admitted to a hospital in Massachusetts, where he summers on Nantucket, before returning home, according to relatives.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 1, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I hate it when I miss the memo. First they decided to change the short form of "microphone" from "mike" to "mic." I don't know why. Then, the "lead" got changed to the "lede." I don't know why.

I think Martooni was probably right about the paranoid suiciders. Drugs. Another pretty thing dead on the end of the shaft of the zen archer, as someone once said.

I constantly fight online to not be scrutinized too closely by the advertising snoops. So the fuzziness of demographics is upsetting to the advertizers, reassuring to the web surfers. Why not just give up and go the billboard route? I can't think of any reason there is not a picture of Coca Cola in the far right margin. Or tofu or American Beef Producers ads, or yogurt or Florida Oranges or whatever Joel is okay with hawking. As long as I DON'T see things like this in the far right margin, I will assume the web/news orgs just are not seeing the forest for the trees.

Posted by: Jumper | August 1, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

>LOL Tell me more.

Hey the held post showed up huh?

jake, what happened was my girlfriend's company moved there, and they were all Scientologists. She wasn't (yet) but we had to go to the hotel one day. While she was attending to business I was left in a waiting room with her girlfriend, and this guy came in and spent like 20 minutes trying to get me to do filing in honor of L/ Ron's birthday. I had just got out of "est" where I had done a fair amount of assisting at est Trainings, communication workshops, etc. and of course they're ALWAYS trying to recruit you to some volunteer phone campaign or something, so I got REALLY good at saying NO "with intention", as they say.

So I eventually lost the girl to Scientology, and since she's one of the few I really could've married I can never forgive 'em.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 1, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Air crash story reminds me of a cartoon -- passenger is using his laptop with a wireless card sticking out. Shocked expression on his face as he sees this on the screen:

New Device Found
Device: Airbus A310
Start Auto-Configuration?

Posted by: LTL-CA | August 1, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Today's Delayed Comments Adventure was just as strange as the days when the timestamps were all messed up and the comments were in a scrambled order.

"Held for approval," indeed! Harummphhhhh! or, how about, "Approve *this*."

All this hostility comes out and there's nobody legitimate to aim it at. I have an analogous situation at work, where a software glitch needs to be addressed and two different IT teams are tossing the problem back and forth like a hot potato. Or sending ME emails to tell me, try this, try that, when the problem is IN THE SOFTWARE and it doesn't matter what I do, I can't fix it.

Anyway, thank you, Joel, for your solicitous attitude towards your cult members. It's so cute, you don't want to "interrupt the conversation." I second yellojkt's remark: where you lead, the boodle will follow. You really don't have to think about us that much, as long as you drop a hint once in a while that you read the comments occasionally--that intermittent reinforcement, again, it works like a charm.

*Humbly submitting unworthy comment for the approval of unknown persons/cyborgs*

Posted by: kbertocci | August 1, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that's a very good description of an editor. You also forgot the "Sorter" function-- throwing out what doesn't go in, assigning work, etc.

Sadly, I've done more real editing for friends and others than in my old editor job as per your description, and I also have seen people try and lean on me as a "rewrite" crutch.

The reality in the magazine, journal, and book publishing world, I suspect, is closer to my experience-- editors have too much to sort and plow through, so they simply don't have the time to help an writer rewrite when they have so many other submissions of equal or better quality.

When the writer IS in a relationship with the company already, I certainly do think the rules change, but I would never operate on the assumption that any editor would want to spend time polishing my work before deciding whether to accept it or not.

I also find rewriting much easier and more pleasurable than the original writing sometimes-- there's more time to focus on the word choice, tighten up repetitiveness, excise digressions, etc.
In college I could easily go through 50 partial revisions before I finished a 20 page paper, or more.

That could be an artifact of having a computer to work with; I couldn't have done that on a typewriter, and the notion of writing lovely prose longhanded-- forget it.

So as a writer, I'd like the editor to mark out the paragraphs he hates and let me rewrite it considerably to meet length and other expectations, not just do the rewrite for me (although sometimes that is nice).

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 1, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I served as a sort-of editor and proofreader for three years. Mostly, it was a matter of cleaning up material submitted by harried people. On the proofreading side, I was quite proud to occasionally spot a misspelled Hawaiian place name.

I started out before word processing, and I recall raiding a fountain pen shop in downtown Denver--the things were hard to get in Wyoming. They were vastly better for avoiding writer's cramp than pencils or ballpoints. I rarely had access to a typewriter at work.

Using word processing poses its very own hazards. For me, the commonest was to change or fix something only to find later that my intentions had only partially been converted into text.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 1, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The bridge collapse this evening in downtown Minneapolis looks awful.

The really scary part may be that the US is stuffed with aging expressway bridges carrying far more traffic than was ever expected.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 1, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Awful is just the start, Dave. Just heard that the forecast is for rain overnight, which will complicate the emergency response.

DHS has already said that it doesn't appear to be an act of terrorism.

Off-duty firefighters have been called in. They are in for several long and uncomfortable days.

Posted by: Slyness | August 1, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

That bridge collapse does look bad.

I had a boodle dream last night! I called yellojkt on the phone. He answered, "Hi, mostlylurking", quite matter-of-factly (guess my boodle handle shows up on caller ID). I went into some impassioned plea about not posting a picture of a boat, because it might identify someone (did someone say "paranoid"?) - then realized it was 10:30 PM *my time* (1:30 AM *his time*) - apologized profusely and hung up. I felt so bad! Hahahahaha.

Hope this comment makes it through.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 1, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

There was a terrible overpass collapse in Montreal last year, which killed two people. This was an overpass over which, or underwhich, I passed twice a day when I lived there and commuted from the West Island to downtown. Being Canadian, we of course did not immediately worry about an act of terrorism.

The public inquiry into the causes of the collapse is on-going, and reveals the real culprit, time after time. Aging infrastructure, inadequate inspection, incompetent inspection system (individual inspectors did as well as they could, given their training and budgets, so it was the system rather than the people). Very sad, all round.

Wilbrod, I'm with you, as both an occasional writer and a more frequent editor. I don't think editors *should* rewrite for writers. When I edit, I simply haven't time (or inclination). As a writer, I know I become better at my craft when someone tells me something isn't working, but lets me work through the alternatives until I get it right. I can't learn anything if they are doing the hard slog. Doing it myself lets me re-engage with my thoughts (not very profound) and the language. Even if they send it back to me four times (which, from my mouth to God's ear, hasn't happened yet) I'd rather learn and improve than be saved. When I get the writing right, it makes me writewright, of course.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Reporting by Fox News out of Minneapolis:

Twenty to 30 construction workers were on the bridge. Hennepin County Medical Center reports at least 15 injuries, but no deaths. At least 50 cars are reported to be in the Mississippi River.

Tons of concrete collapsed and there were injuries, authorities said. Survivors were being carried up the riverbank. Black smoke and fire is visible underneath the bridge and streams of gasoline are visible in the rising smoke and streams of gasoline in the river.


Posted by: Loomis | August 1, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

AP reporting at the NYT:

It was not clear how many people were injured. WCCO-AM reported that one body was seen being pulled from the area, covered with a blue sheet.

Posted by: Loomis | August 1, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, one two is a nice number ....

One two, buckle my shoe
Three four, shut the door
Five six, pick sticks
Seven eight, lay them straight
Nine ten, a big fat hen


Posted by: rain forest | August 1, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

CNN's live feed--much news still breaking:

40-year-old bridge, built in '67, carrying about 200,000 vehicles a day over the Mississippi, below St. Anthony Falls, between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Three now confirmed dead, according to CNN, one a drowning death. Local Minnesotans showing up at Red Cross volunteering. Local hospital has many teams in working trauma cases--6 presently reported to be in critical condition, about 20 others with threatening injuries to organ systems. Mental health teams already called in to provide counseling.

Posted by: Loomis | August 1, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

SCC : five six, pick up sticks

Posted by: rain forest | August 1, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Seven, eight, lay them straight

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

dbG? dbG? Have I offended you in some way?

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I am castigating myself. I kilt the Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

G'night, all.

Posted by: Yoki | August 1, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

wake up, wake up, wake uuuupppp!

Posted by: jack | August 1, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Just finished reading aloud Chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Beastly Marshmallows. 31 chapters to go. We're recording it as I go -- maybe someday we'll edit out the sniffles and noises and unfortunate moments where I used the wrong character voice and then had to backtrack and repeat myself.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | August 1, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

We sent our eldest off, reluctantly, with four of her friends to the evening movies. The five of them packed into one car and should be home any time. This is a first and it's hard to not worry. Thankfully, she's with a cadre of friends that we know and that are responsible. Times have changed so. When we went out, we took a lot of chances. Kind of like that old Commander Cody ditty on the subject of Too Much Fun, combined with Hot Rod Lincoln.

Posted by: jack | August 1, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

STim: When I first started dating my wife, I'd read selections from Winnie the Pooh to her over the phone at night. She'd fall asleep sometimes and all I'd hear were these petite snores through the reciever.

Posted by: jack | August 1, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Bush has just announced that the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is the Clinton administration's fault.

;-{

Posted by: bill everything | August 1, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

God bless Froomkin; I think he has Darth Cheney here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/08/01/BL2007080101281.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Posted by: bill everything | August 1, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Good night, Boodle.

That bridge collapse is a terrible tragedy, and as others are pointing out, offers a horrible wake-up call to pay attention to our aging highway infrastructures.

*Tim, I will try to make time (ahem) to address your FTL / Special Relativity comment/question, because it's interesting from a theoretical/scientific perspective as well as a philisophical one.

But, I'll be travelling for the next few days to attend a wedding and visit a friend, so I may not have time to get back to it...

bc

bc

Posted by: bc | August 1, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Weird life? Try the Las Vegas airport.

Boodling from there right now at 8:14 Pacific time. (We couldn't figure out why the Arizona map showed we had changed time zones but the time hadn't changed. Turns out Arizona doesn't recognize Daylight Saving Time. Doesn't recognize it? It's very easy to spot. Why don't they say Arizona doesn't practice Daylight Saving Time? Oh well.)

Just managed to read yesterday's and today's boodles. Reading the posts about posts being held was especially funny because backboodling showed all the posts, right where they belonged. I think you all are just paranoid (see.. on topic!).

Son of G and I drove over the London Bridge today. It's now over a part of Lake Havasu, on the Colorado River. It was raining, which I guess was pretty typical for seeing the London Bridge.

On our way back up to Vegas, we stopped in the desert and ate a picnic lunch marveling one last time at the scenery.

We are ready to be home. We leave at 11:20 tonight PST and should arrive home early in the morning. We're probably the only people in the world who came to the Las Vegas airport way early because THERE WASN'T ANYTHING ELSE TO DO IN TOWN.

Posted by: TBG | August 1, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you didn't kilt the boodle. It's probably me with all the missing commas.

Posted by: rain forest | August 1, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

TBG, you don't fool me - you're playing the slots in the airport, aren't you? I meant to mention that I've seen some nice art exhibits in Vegas. The Bellagio has one, and the last time I was there, a few years ago, the Venetian had Impressionists and early Abstract art - including a beautiful Monet that I looked at again and again. Hope you have a smooth trip back.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 1, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Not to bring up an age-old debate again, but if the Boodle were kilt[ed], what would it wear underneath?

Sorry... it's late and I've been working with lacquer all night.

Peace out...

Posted by: martooni | August 2, 2007 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, that answer depends on how many boodlers can sing "Moon River" in harmony.

All together now as we become unkilt'd...

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Blog drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my imaginary friends,
Moon River and me.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 2, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

And of course, we are supposed to waggle our rears at once as we hit the "Rainbow's end". Remember and rehearse.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 2, 2007 12:19 AM | Report abuse

why has this nonsense been going on for so long?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/02/washington/02ethics.html?hp

Posted by: L.A. lurker | August 2, 2007 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Because it's a good ol' Boys club, L.A. Lurker.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 2, 2007 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Moon River - that's a beautiful song. I like that song very much.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I generally consider suicide as one taking ones life through drastic (desperate, maybe?) actions. I have never considered my mother's action as suicide until now. I wasn't around so everything was hear-say from my eldest sister who was with her when she died. My mother had much earlier on told my sister that when she got really weaken by the cancer she'd refuse food and she'd be gone in 3 days. Don't know where she got that idea from. True enough. When the time came she just refused to eat and refused to be hospitalized. Finally, after much cajoling and pleading and taking silence as consent, she was hospitalized but still refusing food. Though she had cancer in the throat she was still able to swallow liquid food and her pain killer could still last for 5 hrs. In the hospital she was on drips. She died 2 days later. The scary part is my sister said she'd do the same when her time comes. That really is not a good idea to pass down.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Able to swallow food and able to swallow without pain are two very different things, though, Rainforest. I know from experience.

You said "when she got really weakened"-- death tend to arrive shortly after that occurs.

She could have been telling your eldest sister what she expected to happen at the end from all she'd learned, warning her to get ready when that happens, as much as deciding to take control of her death.

I had a teacher who was working with chemo treatments up to a point, but when she couldn't come in anymore, she died less than a month after that-- and 6 months after I first met her, full of energy and very brisk.


Posted by: Wilbrod | August 2, 2007 5:00 AM | Report abuse

*almost-to-the-weekend Grover waves*

That bridge collapse is scary... Yet transportation bills never seem to garner wide support, usually because of the price tag... *SIGHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 2, 2007 5:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Can't stay long. We are so late this morning. This heat slows everything down, including humans.

The fact that we did not have an exit strategy for Iraq or the other war, just might be a good place to start in trying to solve the mystery. The mystery of getting out or winning.

I did not see Larry King last night, but one has got to love Cheney. How can one man, and he's not even the President, never be wrong? I mean, my teaching says that man was Christ, and Cheney in no way resembles him, not that we know what he looked like, but I mean in practice. Unbelieveable. All of us in our heart of heart know that we are wrong at some point, at some juncture, we messed up, even when we don't tell anyone. And he's different?

Got to go. I hope the men in black don't swoop down, especially while I'm in the shower. Boy, will they get surprised.

Have a good day, folks. Will try to check in later, but sometimes that is wishful thinking. It is so hot here.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | August 2, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

All is forgiven, Yoki! :-)

Actually, I wasn't ignoring you, just offline. Yesterday my sister, niece & great-niece were visiting, and I was cooking and hostessing.

My n & g-n are vegetarian, so I homemade pierogi (farmers cheese & onions, boiled then sauteed in butter), kluski (potato dumplings with cottage cheese, butter and lots of pepper) and ogorki (cucumbers in sour cream, vinegar and lots of green onion slices). Kielbasa on the side, it somehow disappeared too. Our cousin calls this combination a "Polish Pu-Pu platter." (I never knew she was that funny) Then to Rita's for water ice for dessert.

Very good time, we hope to do it again next year when they visit up north.

Now the important question is can I withstand pierogi for breakfast?

Posted by: dbG | August 2, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

RDP, thanks for the pupdate and good news.

TBG, if you win a lot, you have to share it with us (I'm certain).

SciTim: //However, there are those who simply know nothing about it (like me); and those whose uncertainty is deep and rich and nuanced. I aspire to some day know nothing in such subtle fashion.//

I've read that people who are aware of their own emotional complexity also understand others, deep or not, better than those who don't. My experience bears this out. Somehow this resonates here too!

Posted by: dbG | August 2, 2007 7:27 AM | Report abuse

>Got to go. I hope the men in black don't swoop down, especially while I'm in the shower. Boy, will they get surprised.

LOL!

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 2, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

*cranking up the umbragetron*

As if Microshaft didn't already do enough to hack people off...

I went to use my Hotmail (excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Windows Live Mail) this morning, and was greeted with the latest scourge on the computing public, the "Human Interface Proof" whatchamacalit meant to prevent robospam.

They're not satisfied with asking you to retype distorted and obscured letters, either. They want you to LISTEN to voices quietly reciting numbers against background chatter. I couldn't get that to work despite cranking my speakers and trying several times.

So I cancelled that attempt, and of course was able to start over with no HIP crap...

*steam outta ears*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 2, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

>Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall 967,000 Toys
>According to Mattel, all the toys were made by a contract manufacturer in China.

Just more flouride in the water. And milk. Children's miilk Mandrake.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 2, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Padouk, my giant black Lab (26" at the withers, 102 lbs in his glory days) tore a back leg ligament when he was about 2. We didn't go for the surgical option that waws proposed at the time. The 1500-2000$ price tag was a reason, but not the only one. A friend of our breeds Newfies and she just had two bad experiences in a row with the same type of surgery on her dods, so we weren't too hot on the option. The giant lab doesn't tolerate medications of any kind well, had to be taken off Rynadyl (sp?) and corticostreroids quickly. Nonetheless, just using glucosamine food supplement did the dog very good. He turned 11 years old last week and he is still very mobile, although slowly going blind from cataracts. Your little yapper should do very well into an advance age. The Newfie breeder now breeds Cairn terrier, they are the most devilish little things, aren't they?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | August 2, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for that info SD! We have started her on glucosamine and are continuing a very low level of Remadyl. We plan on weaning her off the Remadyl as she, we hope, heals.

Cairn Terriers are indeed little devils. At least ours is. Although very calm in the house, she channels her inner ferret when outside. Let any stranger get close to our picket fence and she explodes into hysterical barking and races around the yard causing little canine sonic booms.

And this is the problem. Something as trivial as pain is no match for her innate compulsion to run. For the next few months we dare not let her out unleashed. After that things should be better, especially as the weather cools and fewer people are out. We are cautiously optimistic that by early spring she will be fully recovered and ready to staunchly defend the homestead once more.

The neighbors will be so pleased.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

EF - That's why many suggest drinking nothing but distilled water, or rain water, and pure grain alcohol.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Snuke - doesn't that approach, by definition, discriminate against people who are hard of hearing?

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

rain forest - what a sad story. And the especially frightening thing is that it isn't simply physical pain that can make an elderly person decide not to go on. Loneliness and loss can do it too. Dave Barry (Yes, Dave Barry) writes with great poignancy about the ending of his mother's life. Getting old is tough. My mother-in-law works with many extremely elderly people. Some approach it with anger. Some approach it with religious hope. Some approach it with wry dark humor. And some simply become unaware of it at all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

RDP, they DO have the option to request MORE distorted visual characters, but I couldn't get that to work, either.

*rolling my eyes*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 2, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and public safety warning. My son gets his driver's license today.

Be afraid. Lord knows I am.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

\\Able to swallow food and able to swallow without pain are two very different things

Wilbrod, she was able to swallow food without pain because she was on pain killer.

RD, You are right. It isn't physical pain that caused my mother gave up. The doctor told my sister that it wasn't the cancer that killed her. Her heart quit. We suspected she gave up fighting mentally. After my father died, a year early, she had on occasions wept at his altar and asked him to take her with him.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

SCC: to gave up.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Cassandra, one more day and you're done for the summer, right? Hang in there!

Younger daughter came across this webpage and shared. I knew not one of the words! I want to hear how many other boodlers know:

http://phrontistery.info/clwdef.html

Posted by: Slyness | August 2, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Slyness. That is a delightful website. I didn't know a single word. Which is a shame, because at one point in my life proper knowledge of the word "diffibulate" might have come in handy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

g'morning boodle. Subdued day here in the frozen north with practically non-stop coverage of the bridge collapse.

Our legislature passed a big highway bill last session but Gov. Pawlenty vetoed it, because it would have raised the gas tax, and they couldn't muster the votes to override the veto.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 2, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

When I went to Florida for my class reunion, I swung by to see my parents and grandmother. I was told that my grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. She is very frail and sleeps up to 20 hours a day. When she is awake, she is very lucid and in good spirits.

She lives in the same condo complex as my parents and she intends to stay home for the duration. My aunts are upping their visitation rotations and various home health care and hospice arrangements are being made.

I now have to wait the next 3-6 months for the other shoe to drop. My soundtrack unitl then will be the Warren Zevon cover of "Knocking On Heaven's Door."

Posted by: yellojkt | August 2, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

Looking like another scorcher here today (well, a scorcher by Ohio standards). Supposed to get into the 90s with high humidity. It's days like this when I miss my air-conditioned office job.

Been reading all the reaction to Cheney's interview on Larry King... just amazing. He lies. Everyone knows he lies. He knows that everyone knows he lies. Yet he continues to lie and doesn't even bother trying to keep a straight face when doing it.

And he never doubts himself or the administration's decisions and actions.

To quote Bugs Bunny: "What a maroon!"

Just caught the video of that bridge collapse. Holy sh!t. Thank God that school bus wasn't 50 yards further down the road.

I'm off to the workshop. Got a secret project in the works that was inspired by CP.

More later...

Peace out.

[13]

Posted by: martooni | August 2, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt;

I hope you can visit her in the interim. My condolences.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 2, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Glucosamine is a miracle supplement. My dog was fairly prone to pulling a muscle climbing stairs until I got him on a regimen of glucosamine powder and vitamin supplements. I have an uncle that swears by it for his knee pain. I took some for a while but couldn't detect any difference. But it sure works on dogs.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 2, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

http://www.northernstar.info/articles/?id=16416

Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos) Opposed Gays in the Military

Speaking of Dot.Coms, over at DailyKos in the run-up to the YearlyKos annual gathering at which the Democratic candidates will be speaking, they're having a furious debate over a 1993 essay in which Markos Moulitisas said, "the demands and pressures of military life are incompatible with allowing integration with homosexuals."

http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=18096

I wonder how "progressive" Markos Moulitsas is going to explain this 1993 essay?

Posted by: Francis L. Holland | August 2, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

******
aeipathy n 1847 -1853
continued passion; an unyielding disease

Her aeipathy for stamp collecting bordered at times on the pathological.
******

Certain family members might substitute "boodling" for "stamp collecting" here, and this could be my word of the day.

Wishing you all a great day--

Posted by: kbertocci | August 2, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten writes:
Our legislature passed a big highway bill last session but Gov. Pawlenty vetoed it, because it would have raised the gas tax, and they couldn't muster the votes to override the veto.

If I'm not mistaken, the bridge that collapsed is part of the federal highway system. Interstate 35 starts in Laredo, cuts through San Antonio and Austin and heads due north, through Oklahoma City, veers northeast at Wichita to Kansas City, passes through Des Moines, on up to Minnesota, through Minneapolis-St. Paul, terminating in Duluth.

NBC this morning was reporting that both federal inspectors and state inspectors had looked at the bridge and began noting troubling problems several years ago.

frostbitten, would the highway bill that your Gov. Pawlenty vetoed have had any effect on this bridge?

NBC, I believe--that or ABC, just had an important story on its evening news several weeks ago, after the steam pipe burst in New York, recounting how much aging infrastructure there is in the United States, how public officials seem to ignore the problems, and how few tax dollars flow to remedying the situations.

Although it's not a laughing matter, our city's residents passed several large bond proposals in May to fix drainage problems, out pothole-pocked city streets, and improve our library system. Our Mayor Hardberger, in full political bluster, claimed that the measures' passages would make San Antonio a world-class city. Our newspaper's culture critic, Mike Greenberg, called him on it--correctly pointing out that these measures would fund needed improvements--way too long overdue. World-class city indeed.

Posted by: Loomis | August 2, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

'Fatigue' and 'redundancy' are being thrown around in a big way this morning regrading the bridge collapse. Its going to be interesting to see the results of the investigation.

Posted by: dr | August 2, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Shriek, by an amazing coincidence, I am also 26" at the withers (and at my age I'm pretty much withered all over the place), although I was about 145 lbs. in my glory days.

Slyness, I didn't know one single word on that Web site. Which is why that was a list of lost words. In a way, it's comforting to know that in the English language, somebody comes by to take out the trash from time to time.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 2, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I made mistakes in my post and then made mistakes in my SCC. I'm so embarrassed.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It will be very interesting to see the final report on the bridge collapse, to understand what happened and why.

Mr. T and I had a conversation about road construction recently; he had come across a news item that a study is being done to determine why it takes so long to build roads now, considering advances in technology and equipment. My guess is that the problem is twofold: we are rebuilding roads, and that takes longer than building them because of traffic issues, and safety practices require more time.

The subject came up because NCDOT is widening 6.4 miles of the highway to our mountain place and it's an absolute bear to get through. This section actually goes up the mountain, so they are blasting rock and filling in valleys. It's amazing to watch them take down a 250 foot high section of mountain, but fast it isn't. By contract, they close the road on Tuesdays and Right now they are only a couple of months behind schedule. We will be glad when it's done.

Posted by: Slyness | August 2, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SCC: They close the road on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 and 2 p.m.

Rats!

Posted by: Slyness | August 2, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

BTW, can somebody puh-leeeeze tell me how somebody (me) who has been on IV antibiotics for the last 12 freakin' days can come down with a summer cold? There's not a stinkin' basteria or germ anywhere in my entire body; all my white blood cells are sitting around like so many Maytag repairmen playing Canasta with nothing to do all day, and even as I write this I'm hooked up to my morning IV dose, which is dripping vancomycin into my vena cava--and I'm sniffling, sneezing, blowing my nose, and generally being unhappily congested. Life is not only unfair, it is mean-spirited.

(Yeah, yeah, I know the difference between a virus and a bacteria; I'm just grousing. Lemme alone, will ya? It was a rhetorical question.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

rainforest - I am well acquainted with the embarrassment of typos. All I can say is that they are far more obvious to you than to anyone else. At least that's what I tell myself. Besides, your thoughts made your post beautiful even if your fingers betrayed you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Loomis-the federal gas tax goes into a Highway Trust Fund which is then distributed to the states to be used for interstate road and bridge repair and other transportation improvements like mass transit and bike trails. However, the feds don't pick up the entire cost of the interstate system maintenance-formulas vary from 80-20 (state share 20%) to 90-10 (state share 10%). In addition to that the feds have pushed many urban routes out of their jurisdiction entirely. The state or city then has to come up with 100% of the cost of repair/replacement of roads that used to be matched at least 80% by the Highway Trust and come up with the matching $ for roads still covered by the Trust.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - you haven't been splashing in puddles without your rubbers on have you?

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Slyness,
A recent news story said that an urban expressway (I think somewhere in the Midwest) is being shut down for two years of reconstruction. All sorts of measures are being implemented to ease the congestion.

The alternative had been to keep the road open, but stretch out work for at least six years.

Reconstruction of I-95 through Palm Beach County has taken on a life of its own. Work around the airport took an eternity, the current project is a double eternity, and a fresh stretch is now ready for the treatment. By the time it's done, the first section will probably be due for
re-re-construction.

This sort of massive reconstruction was going on as far back as the 1960s, when I-95 from the Pentagon south was demolished and replaced; also parts of the New Jersey Turnpike. At the time, it was an awesome road, indeed.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 2, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I should add that federally matched transportation projects selected for funding in Jan/Feb this year will begin construction in 2010, assuming they are not delayed by the mandatory studies.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 2, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

aeipathy
affictitious
dodrantal
egrote

Thats all I knew from the A-E page. Pretty sad for a guy who used to read dictionaries for fun. Though I must admit these are quite obscure words.

Posted by: Kerric | August 2, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

>Oh, and public safety warning. My son gets his driver's license today.

May I recommend the best of International Harvester circa 1954 as a natural way to limit speed?

They might even be cool now.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 2, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

RD... you forgot the "wink wink nudge nudge"

;-)

Posted by: martooni | August 2, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

yello: I'm sorry to hear of your Grandmother's condition. I will keep her in my thoughts. My MIL's tumor numbers are up and she is going to have a scan today. I think it's likely that she'll start back on chemotherapy treatments. We had to explain to our children that she'd be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life. *Sigh*

Mudge, I hope you are able to beat that cold down quickly. If your stomach can take it go to the pharmacy and get some zinc tablets and take one after each meal. The zinc interferes with protein systhesis, or so I've been told. It'll give your immune system a chance to attack whatever is bugging you as the zinc will decrease the doubling time of the offending particle. Do this while you're wearing your rubbers.

Posted by: jack | August 2, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

SCC: NYT SCCed itself this morning. I had the same mistake in my post last night and have since pulled out the U.S. road atlas and double-checked the two detailed insets for the Twin Citie area. The bridge in Minneapolis last night that collapsed does NOT connect the city of Minneapolis to St. Paul. I35 splits south of the Twin Cities, to become I35W and I35E, joining again north of these two neigboring cities.

frostbitten, thanks for your very knowledgeable reply.

Posted by: Loomis | August 2, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Thanks RD. I feel a wee bit better now.

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I knew one word: amandation. I'm pretty sure I've read this word somewhere recently too. Probably in a Hardy novel. Another thing I found interesting is how familiar so many of the words Seemed. There were so many you just knew what they meant, even though you've never seen them before.

rain forest, we also have an SFC membership option for those of us, and who hasn't, submit errors in an SCC post.

SFC: Self-Flagellation Club! Apply now for your life time membership.

Posted by: omni | August 2, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I thought I was doing really really bad, but not too shabby considering what I expected: 7/12.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/departments/education_1/?page=quiz109&Quizid=109

Posted by: omni | August 2, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Omni, does the membership fee cost an arm and a leg?

Posted by: rain forest | August 2, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Not fair? Not fair? Oh, Mudge, that is so kindergarten! Come on, man. If you're going to rail against fate, do it right. We expect something along the lines of Shakespeare's King Lear or Melville's Captain Ahab-"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event- in the living act, the undoubted deed- there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike though the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him." So let 'er rip, but don't just sniffle and groan "Not fair!"

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 2, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Structurae has a bit about the bridge itself and some links...

http://en.structurae.de/structures/data/index.cfm?ID=s0029659

also http://www.visi.com/~jweeks/bridges/pages/ms16.html

Posted by: LTL-CA | August 2, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Startlingly, I got 8/12 on the celebrity jobs quiz. I knew the Danny DeVito one; the rest were pretty much all guesswork and deduction.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 2, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Too much work to do before I hit the road this afternoon, no time for Boodling.

I'll try to drop in over the weekend while I'm on the road...

bc

Posted by: bc | August 2, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

10/12 Completely lucky guesses on that one.

Posted by: Kerric | August 2, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I used to drive on that bridge all the time. I know so many people who drive on that bridge still. They're all safe, but it's still really shocking.

Posted by: Sara | August 2, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I learned the Danny DeVito one while reading People magazine about 7 or 8 years ago in a veterinarian's waiting room, while my cat (of blessed memory) was receiving chemo for her bowel cancer. This is why I am a master of useless information. I retain this stuff. I can't seem to shake it off.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 2, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I got 4/12 on the celebrity quiz. I was pleasantly surprised. I only know the Gerald Ford answer and guessed on the rest.

Posted by: Sara | August 2, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

10/12 Missed the DeVito question, guess the Frostcats (even the much missed and departed Clyde) are just too long lived to pick up enough trivia.

Loomis-you're welcome. Just part of what my constituents get for their $25 a month.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 2, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The only one I knew for certain was Elvis. I remembered it from some movie is all. The rest were mostly complete guesses.

Posted by: omni | August 2, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

K-guy, I don't want to risk doing the "Never, never, never, never, never!" speech from Lear because in my present condition it would come out as "Debber, debber, debber, debber, debber."

And I can't go out and rage into the storm cuz I'm not wearing my rubbers.

And I think you were on Boodle hiatus when I told the story of what happened with me and the grayed wide whale, and heaven knows we don't want to go there again.

It's tough to rail against cruel fate when all you want to do is take a Dristan and have a nap.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 2, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I got Ford right because I figured the two wrong answers were giveaways.

Posted by: omni | August 2, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

omni. Please. No cussing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 2, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I guessed correctly on 10/12. The only one I knew for sure was Ford. Should I go buy a lottery ticket now?

Posted by: Raysmom | August 2, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning y'all. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother, yellojkt. Martooni, congratulations; one dozen is a lovely number.

I liked "homerkin". In popular culture, it is a perfect correlation of subject and object. Let's tell Matt Groening. [C'mon, Joel, we know you have access to the Big Guys. You walk proudly among them as equals.]

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 2, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Here's a conundrum for the ages: if I have come down with a rhinovirus, is it possible for a rhino to come down with a curmudgovirus?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 2, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I just love that "He tasks me, he heaps me" line. I use it all the time on weekends when Dr. K wants the faucet fixed.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 2, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, great website. I can't say I've seen any in usage, but a lot of them weren't too difficult to guess the meaning.

I suspect Dave wouldn't have any difficulty with rhodologist or filicology.

RD, ha! We used to have a diffibulater in the office but the harassment committee eventually caught up with him.

Posted by: SonofCarl | August 2, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Aye, K-guy! Thou beist known as Moby-Plumber!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 2, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, perhaps your experience with a summer cold proves that, in fact, the cold "virus" is truly an alien life form, some sort of parasite, short-lived and unpleasant but wholly separate from life as we know it. And when you blow your nose, those really are brains.

Or else it is part of the medical-industrial conspiracy. You thought you were safe from disease; you thought you had been treated and released; but you can't escape. They're toying with you.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 2, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

6/12 on the celebrity job quiz. Still better than chance, but not much.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 2, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I've posted a new kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 2, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I like the word "yelve" myself. It's such an necessary tool with this administration run by our drollic president.

I think visotactile is misspelled, BTW, as typical for Shakespeare's time. That totally would be visuotactile in modern usage. (I'm a visuotactile thinker, so..)

I'm sure I've seen uviferous before many times.

The nice thing about this list is that you can see relationships to words we actually do use, from the same latin roots.

penintime= peni (almost) + intime (intimate, near). Unfortunately this word begs to be slurred and its sense thus lost. Pentime! Teatime!

To temerate= to profane, to break a vow. Boy, some people really have the temerity to do anything, don't they?

And I think surgation would pass the wirty dird filter, but maybe it shouldn't.

Some of those lost words would make nice rhymes or almost-rhymes for existing words.

Admiring the "Gymnastics and pugnastics" of an aerial dogfight, for instance.

"To Nudify is not to Pudify"-- Slogan of The Pedantic Nudists of America.

And.."When did I go from sexy to kexy?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 2, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Costa Rica MLS.
To find a property in Paradise visit http://www.firstrealtycr.com a name you can trust in Costa Rica Real Estate

Posted by: Costa Rica Listings | August 11, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Scientology Faces Criminal Charges
By CONSTANT BRAND - 3 hours ago

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.

Scientology said it would fight the criminal charges recommended by investigating prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen, who said that up to 12 unidentified people should face charges.

Van Espen's probe also concluded that Scientology's Brussels-based Europe office and its Belgian missions conducted unlawful practices in medicine, violated privacy laws and used illegal business contracts, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors Office.

"They also face charges of being ... a criminal organization," Pellens said in a telephone interview.

An administrative court will decide whether to press charges against the Scientologists.

In a statement, Scientology's Europe office accused the prosecutor of hounding the organization and said it would contest the charges.

"For the last 10 years, the prosecutor has been using the media, trying to damage the reputation of the Church of Scientology and not being able to put a case in court," Scientology said. "As a consequence, this created a climate of intolerance and discrimination" in Belgium.

It added that the prosecutor's recommendations suggested Scientology was guilty even before a court could hear the charges, making it "difficult for the Church of Scientology to recover and properly defend (itself) before the court."

Scientology has been active in Belgium for nearly three decades. In 2003, it opened an international office near the headquarters of the European Union to lobby for its right to be recognized as an official religious group, a status it does not enjoy in Belgium.

A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group's finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members.

Investigators have spent the past decade trying to determine how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.

Justice officials seized financial records, correspondence, bank statements and other papers in their decade-long probe to track the flow of money to Scientology. Police also raided the offices of several consultancy firms linked to the Church of Scientology.

Pellens said that prosecutors expect Scientology to mount a strong legal challenge to the charges at a court hearing, which could come in the next two to three months. She acknowledged that could delay the case for years.

Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people.

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, which is seeking to expand in Europe and be recognized as a legitimate religion, teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. The church, founded in 1954, counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its 10 million members.

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