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Error Flynn; More on Consciousness

Here is bc remembering Bob Lewis:

Error Flynn and I became friends over what turned out to be the last year of his life. We had a lot in common: a love of automobiles and auto racing, an appreciation for classic films and funky old science-fiction TV shows of the 60's and 70's, and the philosophy that every day should have at least one really good laugh. Sometimes even at our own expense, though he was an especially talented lampoonist.

Bob, as he was known outside of the Achenblog, and I became friends in the 21st century manner, developing an email correspondence that evolved into phone calls, DVDs exchanged, and finally culminated in my visiting him for a weekend this past August.

Even seriously ill, he was a gracious host in his little red bachelor house with the big garage just behind and the legendary Tiki bar on the back of his property. We took turns driving his beautiful Porsche convertible around the New Jersey countryside even though at that point riding in it was uncomfortable for him. He insisted that we go. I insisted that we stop somewhere for a nice long lunch outside and enjoy the sunny day. We engaged in some hilarious people-watching commentary, and discussed life and the Boodle. He felt that he had two families -- one biological, one virtual. He didn't see eye to eye with everyone in either, but he loved them both all the same. As with every family, he took the good with the bad.

I could tell that being away from home was tiring him, so when we went back to his house, we stopped and picked up groceries for a big meal to share that night; steaks, shrimp, wine, etc. We had a good dinner, and he confessed to me that he was going to take a leave of absence from work in September, giving me a look that told me he didn't know how much longer he really had. We talked about 2008, but I could tell he didn't expect to see it.

I spoke to him for what turned out to be the last time this past Monday, when he told me he was going into the hospital. He made it clear that he was really tired and worn out and didn't know if he'd be coming out. He didn't sound sad or scared, just rather annoyed by the whole thing. Told me he was considering buying an iPhone so he could keep up with the Boodle from his hospital bed when he got his strength back, but I know he said that for my benefit.

I told some folks earlier today that I like to think that Bob exited through his Fairy Door when it was time to go, pausing like his hero Errol Flynn would have to have a quick look back at us, saluting, then turning and swinging through the doors with gusto.

I should have added that I think he was going to look for whoever was in charge over there, because he wanted to have a word with them. Or several.

Wouldn't it be great if he ran into Marcel Marceau in the Waiting Room Over There? One can only imagine how that conversation would go.

Error Flynn was a hero to many of us in the Achenblog for his fearlessness in expressing himself, whether it was outrage over a perceived injustice, defending someone he felt was unduly persecuted, or taking an unpopular position on a topic. The Bob I knew personally was thoughtful, sensitive and empathic, which is what I believe gave his alter ego such super powers.

Here's Error's Blog, for those of you not familiar with it.

Bob Lewis the man may have left us, but for me it's still Error in '08.

-- bc


Curmudgeon writes this morning in the boodle:

'All this stuff about the self being illusory to me is all just so much crap, akin to all that blather we had to put up with in the 60s and 70s about whether or not our entire existence all took place inside the mind of a butterfly, and that nonsense. I never found any of that mystical, illusory stuff interesting, because I always thought that even if it were true, it wasn't remotely "useful" in coping with the world, and that we were much better off assuming that what we perceived (more or less) was "reality," and that all the work we'd put into trying to figure it out was worthwhile. The Butterfly Theory, it seems to me, allows one to throw up one's hands and say nothing matters. It's so....1960s.

'I found the quote about there not being a "President in the Oval Office of the brain" interesting. While I might agree with it, I'm not so sure our brains aren't run pretty much EXACTLY on the Bush-Cheney model: a seemingly in-charge President who appears to be running things a good bit of the time, but which is actually commanded very often by darker, hidden forces or even just one single shadowy, malign person with his own nefarious agenda. I'm not being whimsical here: it really DOES seem to me that's how consciousness and the brain work. (And so we all come back to Freud, who is now much-maligned, but who may have been the overlooked Einstein they now claim to be waiting for. Freud may have been wrong about many things, but he may have had the essentially fundamental structure correct.)'

Dude, don't knock the '60s. Some of us like being trapped there!

Freud wrong about many things? Name one thing he was right about. I'm sorry but I think he set the all-time record for Most Consecutive Incorrect Assertions.

To the substance of Mudge's comment: I completely agree that "we were much better off assuming that what we perceived (more or less) was 'reality'." My article wasn't making a case for any airy-fairy theories involving the unknowability of reality. I have little patience with that stuff. It is conceivable that in trotting out the possibility that the self is illusory my language skewed toward overstatement. All it really means is that there's not a single "self" but rather an agglomeration of interconnected, highly distributed, decentralized mental programs.

Glad I cleared that up.


A couple of colleagues have talked to me today about the mind story and their general feeling that scientists can be overly reductionist. I understand the complaint. The feeling that everyone is trying to take the romance and mystery out of life -- trying to drain all the magic out of it -- is generated by subconscious activity in the limbic system, specifically the amygdala, the fornicate gyrus, and the nucleus accumbens.


I got an interesting note from Jim Albus, one of the scientists involved in the Decade of the Mind proposal:

' There are, as you note, some who argue that the mind is very mysterious and beyond our ability to comprehend. Some go so far as to claim that the mind is just an illusion -- that it is all in our heads. While it is literally true that the mind is in our heads, there are some of us who claim that:
1) the Mind is a set of computational processes that result from activity in the machinery of the Brain
2) we are on the threshold of understanding how to engineer a Mind.

If you are interested in this line of thought, you might want to take a look at my book: Engineering of Mind: An Introduction to the Science of Intelligent Systems.

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 24, 2007; 8:12 AM ET
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Next: The Dude With the Mower


Hi, Martooni. I saw the fairy door. It's wonderful.
Good morning, Cassandra.

Posted by: daiwanlan | September 24, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I can just see it on Joel and Mudge debating the theories of Sigmund Freud! Now that would be edifying.

And can we do Carl Jung next?

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Requiescat in Pacem Error. I had him on my mind yesterday when I found out the family of groundhogs the dogs have been harassing all summer just moved to the neighbour's lot and rebuilt their underground fortress 20 feet from the property line... I wished he had been silent recently because he was in drydock for some mid-life refit, but, sadly, I learn this morning it was not the case. The good ones always leave too early.

Mudge, what is up with the Iggles uniform??? Baby blue & yellow? Baby blue socks with yellow stripes? In my mind I had a picture of the typical Philly fan fan scanning his closet for the right baby blue and yellow outfit to wear to the game...
Our local team (cable gods have decided Detroit stations would feed us the stuff from all US networks) finally showed their real colour in that game though.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Here is Error's obituary from The Trentonian:

Posted by: pj | September 24, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Joel, thanks for posting my item as a Kit, I appreciate it. There's so much more to say about EF, and so many did so quite eloquently yesterday. I know his family appreciates it.

To Joel's comment:

"All it really means is that there's not a single "self" but rather an agglomeration of interconnected, highly distributed, decentralized mental programs."

Er, I suppose one could make a case that each of us is run like the Federal Government. Feel free to debate how effective that model may or may not be.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

bc, I'd say the federal model explains a lot about the general mess of human existence.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Nothing says 60's dorm room like a debate about the nature of reality. Pass the bong and quit bogarting the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Freud has been pretty much discredited as a scientist, but as a literary theorist his views have too much truthiness to abandon totally.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Presidents run things? Nixon allegedly paid attention at least once a week for several years to get the "temporary" Navy Buildings removed.

The local public radio station replayed Radio Lab's "Emergence" program from 2005. Wonderful.

There's a lot going on without awareness, but back in 1981, Donald Redfield Griffin of Rockefeller University in New York published "The Question of Animal Awareness: Evolutionary Continuity of Mental Experience". My recollection is that some biologists thought the book was a prime example the silly things that tenured professors can do. I think an assistant professor looking for tenure would never have taken up that line of work.

There are very, very good reasons for our perception of the world to reflect reality, and in particular the facets of reality that are relevant to our lives. Like not stepping on snakes, finding edible ripe fruit or animals, maximizing your chances of finding the right mate and raising above-average children. Lots of things like that. Peoples of the Amazon may found value in hallucinogens. Certainly Richard Schultes had a long, healthy and productive life studying their uses of plants (including hallucinogens).
(regrettably, the wonderful little magazine from which this story is reprinted went bust).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I shall miss friend Errors clear, concise and meaningful thoughts. I shall miss his friendly manner. Most of all however, I shall miss his presence. Farewell my friend, though we never met.

Posted by: Kerric | September 24, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I was sad to learn of Error's passing. Since he told us of his illness about a year ago (when was it?), he has been always not far out of my mind.

I recently read Marjorie Williams' "The Woman at the Washington Zoo," partly because I had wanted to read more of her work ever since encountering what turns out to have been her final essay ("The Halloween of My Dreams"), and partly because her illness was the same as Error's. And, as it happens, a close friend of mine from high school, who is one of those rare lucky ones whose liver cancer was diagnosed very early, early enough that it could be arrested through surgery. Yeah, sure, she's missing a few organs, keeps having suspicious "shadows" on her liver that need to be "abraded" (whatever that means) and she's now an insulin-controlled diabetic. But, hey, she's alive, she's got a husband who loves her (an even older friend of mine), and she has a sweet little daughter. And the illness caused her to drop some extra weight, so she looks great!

Life is good. The one thing we know is that life also isn't permanent (well, we also know about taxes). A bit of wisdom that is so obvious that we don't consider it wise until we hear it in the right voice and the right frame of mind, is that we all are going to die. We just don't know when, or of what. Williams says that the only difference between her and the rest of us is that she had a better idea of "when" than most, and a good idea of what probably would kill her. Knowing that it's going to happen, and if you're over 40, knowing that the tank is less than half-full, what are you going to do with the time that you have? I'll tell you one thing -- I'm much more resentful of pulling all-nighters than I used to be. If I kill myself to complete a project, when do I get the happy pay-off for all my hard work? Forget that. Take a walk outside and enjoy the beautiful world that we have been granted the gift of living in. It's good.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

the human mind as bush-cheney or the federal goverment.
hmmmmm. me and my little elves will ponder that.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 24, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Error, I hardly knew you and yet I knew you well. I'm fairly certain that the place beyond the fairy door is wonderful, warm, and that groundhogs are friends there.

Error in 08 and beyond.

Posted by: dr | September 24, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Close to the end of January, I think, Tim.

I agree totally. I've started thinking of how many Saturdays, max, might be left, and how unwilling I am to spend them working, as I did last weekend.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I read of Error's death with sadness and very real sense of loss. I've been back boodling for an hour and I wish I had been on in real time so I could take comfort and share my thoughts with you yesterday.
I spent Saturday night at a BBQ with friends I had mentioned Error to, Dave, who hosted the party, is a rabid Tull fan and Don, who is currently resisting the Evil Ground Hog Conspiracy on his home turf. We gathered our cars around a fire and tuned our radios to the little broadcast CD player I use. The first 3 Tull albums were played and I chose Zappa's (another musician Error liked) "Strictly Commercial", a compilation album that begins with the instrumental "Peaches and Regalia."
I've mentioned to friends that "Peaches and Regalia" would be a good piece to play at the end of a memorial service. Its humour, vigour, and joy will lend a spring to the step of the people have to carry on.

I hope ScottyNuke won't be offended if I compare his wonderful announcement to "Peaches and Regalia."
Congratulations Mr. Nuke, I know you and your beloved will have many happy years.

I, for one, will continue the struggle against the machinations of the International Ground Hog Conspiracy. I know the silly smile I beam their way will disguise my nefarious intentions.

Posted by: Boko | September 24, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The topic to day is ATP and it's role in a cell, including formation of memories. I need to find a way out of my students' amygdylas and into their short term memory.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

jack, do let us know how that works out for you.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke and FoSN, congratulations. FoSN, you can look forward to many happy years of telling 'the story'. It is a gift of some import, that can be brought out with fine wines and friends and laughter forever. It bodes very well for many years of laughing together in the future.

Posted by: dr | September 24, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Not at all, not at all. :-)

And I ask ye, where was THIS scurvy quiz last week, me hearties???



Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Jack, there is a great book on precisely that topic! _Deep Survival_. One of the interesting things about it is he explains why we sometimes do stupid things even though we know better. There are some examples in there that would make the topic interesting. For example, why would snowmobilers doing an avalanche rescue go racing up an unstable peak on the way home, knowing it was unstable and foolhardy to do? How do experienced hikers die underestimating Mt. Hood?

Not that I've every done anything stupid when I knew better myself. :-) Just sayin'.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I can think of one thing for which we can give Herr Professor Doktor Freud credit. It's not so much one of his claims, as a fundamental axiom: the mind is a product of the body it inhabits. Hence, Freud's fixation on sexuality, oral gratification, and all that stuff. It's pretty clear now that he had some crazy parochial notions about these things, but he cottoned on to the idea that society, and the minds that create it, is a mechanism to modulate access to the things that satisfy physical wants and needs. The mind emerges from the complexity of the nervous system, but it also arises from the complexity of the mechanical system to which it is attached. That's pretty profound. The problem with Freud is that he didn't seem to have a clear notion of the significance of an hypothesis as a falsifiable claim. As the progenitor of a field of study, it seems obvious that he would be wrong in most every particular of theory. His job was to provide initial hypotheses that stake out the territory. The error (there's that word!) was in confusing untested hypotheses with profound wisdom and insight. Freud and his followers declared Freud himself to be outside the bounds of experiment and refutation, leading to the forceful application of counter-productive notions that have screwed up untold numbers of people.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, dbG. re.: foolhardiness: Check THIS out.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Without Freud, would we have Woody Allen?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

What makes these questions of consciousness so tricky is that the topic is frighteningly amorphous. (And we though clouds were hard.) How do you measure consciousness? What does it weigh? How much energy does it use? Is the nature of human consciousness even the same from person to person? Heck, does consciousness even exist at all or is it all just clever programming?

These are questions that fall dangerously close to the philosophical, which makes me wonder exactly how one would spend billions of dollars usefully. I mean, there is only so much espresso that can be productively consumed. Exactly what scientific experiments are being proposed?

But, to my mind, (get it?) there is a more fundamental question. To me, I don't wonder as much what consciousness is, but why it is. That is, I question the evolutionary advantages of higher forms of consciousness. Did it really help our reproductive success in the mists of prehistory to be able to contemplate notions of infinity? Were prehistoric women really that easily impressed?

I wonder if, perhaps, this vaunted human characteristic of advanced consciousness is actually some kind of side effect. An evolutionary by-product of limited value in itself. Perhaps human consciousness is nothing more significant than the heat produced by a microprocessor.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

10/10 on the pirates quiz. I had to deduce/guess on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride question. 8 of the 10 I knew cold, however.

I love the entrance to P's of the C. Floating through the mysterious (yet strangely clean) bayou, on the boundary between the world of ordinary human society in the form of the lighted restaurant, and the dark world of dark doings in floating shacks, mysterious sounds, and possible alligators in the water. Well done.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Yoho- I may not be able to talk like a pirate, but Imust know something about them. 10/10! woohoo!

I loved "Woman at the Washington Zoo". She was a truly lovely writer. I remember reading that Halloween essay the day it was in the paper. I was sitting in my carpool line and I read it and re-read it and then called my sister to tell her to drop everything and read it. Powerful.

Posted by: Kim | September 24, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I got 7/10 on the quiz and since I thought I might not get any correct I was quite pleased. The Pirates ride at Disney is about the extent of my knowledge of Pirates.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

9/10 on the pirates quiz, didn't know the Disney question.

I loved Marjorie Williams' stories on personalities, Vernon Jordan for example. Wouldn't it be great to have her take on Darth Cheney and Arbusto? The cancer memoir made me weep.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

RD, I wouldn't be surprised if evolution operated more directly on the properties of the brain in human females than in males, and the only reason men have equally big brains is because brain development is not controlled by sexual hormones. Women are responsible in technologically simple agrarian societies for managing crops, making ceramics, brewing beer, and window treatments, while men are responsible for drinking beer, public drunkenness, and moving furniture. A mere three jobs, and none of them mentally taxing. At least, I seem to recall that my undergraduate anthropology classes could be paraphrased in that way.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

9/10 on the pirate quiz. But more importantly, who are cooler, pirates or ninjas?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of Pirates of the Caribbean, it seems our crocodiles are less snappy than alligators. Crocs are doing nicely in the Miami area.

And I think I'd take sharks over alligators. Despite that recent surfboard with a huge chunk bitten out (Flagler Beach), our sharks usually just nibble ankles.

New Providence (the Bahamian island where Nassau is) was a big pirate hangout, evidently after things got sort of hot at Old Providence (Isla de Providencia, an English-speaking bit of Colombia). It seems Providencia was a kind of southern branch of New England.

So Puritans were privateers! Did the Spanish treat them as religiously-motivated terrorists?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, SciTim, so you are suggesting advanced cognitive thought in those with a Y chromosome is akin to the existence of male nipples.


Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

My wife got us tickets to see the fairly hoary "Defending The Caveman" when it comes to town. I guess I'll have to write a detailed evolutionary anthropological thesis about it after I have had time to let it sink into my little vestigial skull.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I suddenly remembered that Steven Gould once proposed that the ability of women to experience intense sexual pleasure was probably a side effect of the development of this capability in men. If one accepts this dubious premise, and also accepts the even more questionable notion that higher consciousness exists in men because it was needed in women, an obvious question is raised.

Who got the better deal?

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

SciTim & RD: I don't think women thought up this particular strategy and I suspect it doesn't take much higher level thinking to design it. It certainly didn't becoime the subject of critical analysis before it was implemented. I respectfully submit this to be in the running for the first annual Why do Men Have Nipples? award.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Duh. Forgot the link.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

7/10 on the pirate quiz. I'll go clean the bilges.

I ignored me gut an' changed two questions! I'm cursed by elves!
Only lubbers ken Disney.

Posted by: ShameFaced999 | September 24, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Who got the better deal, Padouk? Ask yourself who can have multiple O's, and who needs to rest up for a couple of days after just one. (OK, that might have been "too much information.")

Aced the Pirate quiz. Don't know why I even bothered. Argggh. (Though I admit I did have to guess at the Disneyland question.)

Shriek, those Eagles retro uniforms were uncontestably the single-most hideous uniforms ever worn by any competitive sports team, ever. I include the Menudo versus Men In Hats summer league softball game of 1983.

To clarify two points: Joel, I didn't think the "illusory self" idea was yours; I knew you were quoting somebody else. We are in complete agreement on the Butterfly and similar illusory theories.

And to clarify what I said about Freud: I said I think he got the overall structure correct. He called them ego, libido and id, and you can change around the names and tinker with their functions all you want, but I think he was onto something. Some of the other things I think he got right:

1) The unconscious mind. Granted the idea of the unconscious mind has been around for thousands of years, and turns up regularly in Shakespeare and hundreds of lesser artists. Nevertheless, it was Freud who brought it into the realm of psychology as a science (using the term "science" pretty loosely in this context). He took it seriously, made people think about it, and turned it into a serious field of medical and biological inquiry. To me he gets props for that, and the naysayers can boo and hiss all they want. That he got a lot of stuff wrong is like saying Columbus was a dolt because he thought he was in the East Indies. Freud and Columbus were two pioneers who were the first to go where nobody had been before. I respect and honor that. (William James, another hero of mine, was doing a lot of work on the same subject at the same time, and the two men paralleled each other in many ways. James stayed pretty much on the theoretical stuff; it was Freud who first developed a method of systematic study and use as actual in-the-field therapy. To me he gets props for that. YMMV.)

2) Sex plays a huge and largely unseen role in the background of our thought processes, and often gets us messed up and twisted around and obsessed, etc. etc. Anybody out there crazy enough to want to dispute that? Know who the first guy was to say that and bring into serious academic study? Uh-huh.

3) People repress all sorts of stuff, and it sits there somewhere in the back of your brain, and oftentimes rots away and has an influence on you many years later. We all good with that? Anybody need examples? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Incest survivors? Rape victims? Who was the first guy to seriously work on that kind of thing (other than, say, Shakespeare)? Hint: it wasn't B.F. Skinner.

4) Oftentimes people get messed up in their heads about stuff, and it's good to go talk to a trained specialist. Sometimes it works and helps, sometimes it doesn't. We all still good?

5) Anybody want to dispute (a) the existence of defense mechanisms, (b) Freudian slips, (c) dream interpretation and symbolism (OK, maybe when YOU dream about trains going into tunnels it's just about transportation issues and the need for higher AMTRAK subsidies). To this day we use terms and concepts such as @nal personalities, ph@llic symbols, death wish, will-to-live, the ego (as an entitiy), narcissism and narcissistic personalities, etc. It seems to me the question of whether Freud got this stuff "right" has become irrelevant: the concepts are "out there" and in common use. To me that speaks volumes.

And just to add a little more, William Little, the man who first identified cerebral palsy, claimed it was due to lack of oxygen. It was Freud who first disputed that notion, postulating that asphyxia was a symptom, not the cause of the disease. It wasn't until the 1980s that Freud was proved right and Little wrong.

I still think many of the insights and ideas in "Moses and Monotheism" and "Civilization and Its Discontents" are dead on.

That Freud got lots of stuff "wrong" is beyond dispute...but name me a pioneer and founding theoretician in any field of study who didn't? The overarching theme of Joel's piece is that even after nearly 150 years of intense study about the human mind, we still don't know diddly doodly (a highly scientific, technical term we deep thinkers use), and Joel and others predict we still won't a hundred years from now. So I don't see how we can fault Freud too much when nobody else has gotten too much closer than he ever did. I think the point is that people are at least playing in the right ballpark (where the hot dogs and beer may cost $4 billion, but that's not much worse than Camden Yards), and Freud's the guy who started that process. That he didn't all the rules right any more than Alexander Cartwright did isn't material, at least to me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for this Boodle-mined Kit, Joel. Both halves are representative of this peculiar institution.

I'm glad Mudge's musings made it, because I was struck by his comparison of the mind to the Bush-Cheney administration. Perhaps we all have an evil twin lurking within us; perhaps, like Bart Simpson, we were the evil twin all along and only the presence of our better half controlling our consciousness permits us to live, work and Boodle normally.

Really, this is fascinating stuff. I like the whimsy of the myriad elves but can't ascribe to it as a theory. My evil twin won't let me.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't have an evil twin. I have an evil set of quintuplets. Perhaps even a whole litter.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

No, you don't.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Yes, you do, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Who asked you, moron? Stay out of it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Moron, who you calling moron, buttface?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Now, now, fellahs, let's calm down and

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh, bite me. You always take his side.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Is it safe to come out now?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I hate snakes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

You two are such wusses, jeez. Stay in yer freakin' room, see if I care. Hey, look at the rack on

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

That's all you ever think about. You're disgusting.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh, good. Lunchtime.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

This op-ed in the NY Times apparently is handling both sides of the debate, so we can all take a break:

SIGMUND Freud died 68 years ago today, and it remains uncertain whether he is what W. H. Auden called him, "a whole climate of opinion / Under whom we conduct our differing lives," or whether he is completely passé. It's still not clear whether Freud was the genius of the 20th century, a comprehensive absurdity or something in between.

Regarding the evil twin and the elves, I like the AA wisdom that talks about the "committee" -- it's your bad selves or the demons or whatever, that are always plotting your next stumbling block. That is a good description of how it feels sometimes when bad behaviors just spring up, seemingly out of nowhere, or the way you can be feeling great and suddenly get hit with an urge -- where did that come from? The Committee.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes it's like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfes in here.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Isn't that supposed to be "Dwarves"?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, well, if it isn't little Miss Anal-Retentive Schoolmarm.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, *some* of us were paying attention in class. And what were *you* doing? Staring at MS's legs, most likely.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I can't help it if she sat right next to me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Again with the name-calling. Are we gonna go eat, or what?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Stop that Mudge you'll cramp your clicking finger.

Here's that ugly uniform.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I swear, if you bring up freaking Julian Jaynes again...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The female members of my Evil Committee love the socks though.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Bart Simpson is my inner child: his skate--board is my lap--top; and Homer's car% is the inter--webs.
I shudder to think where Krusty fits but Moldy, Bubbles, Yendor, Doofy, Cheery, Brainy, Chilly, and Gloomy are self evident.

Posted by: Boko999 | September 24, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I think of it more as a Calvin/Hobbes type of thing. Everyone thinks I'm Hobbes, but I'm really Calvin and sometimes I transmogrify.

I haven't heard about the AA Committee idea, kbert, but I'd certainly admit that my shadow self sometimes has not-bad ideas.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, we took a vote, and it's unanimous: those socks are hideous. Even the guy who watches "Queer Eye for the Middle Linebacker" agrees they're hideous. But virtually all of us thank you for the cross-eyed girl in the bathing suit right next door.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the consciousness split in three parts? Aristole got there in the 4th century BC, only he termed it "soul" in his book De Anima (latin translation).
According to him, orexis (desire) mediated between the conscious and the material body (what I today would call the peripheral nervous system) to impel action.
It's just that Freud read "desire" as sex drive and formulated his entire theory accordingly. Don't you ever get the feeling he'd get hot and bothered when seeing even a potted plant?

Other than that, I do agree with you and SciTim about his importance. I think the biggest thing was that he founded talk therapy.

Jekyll/Hyde Mudge aside, I don't think the unconscious is necessarily evil. I'm convinced that mine is smarter and more tuned into my needs than I am.
But of course if a certain perky gent wants to go all borderline personality or dissocative personality, that's his choice-- as long as all of his alters get to vote on it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I agree with you about the good side of the unconscious mind. And I have to concur with Freud about dreams being a big clue to our unconscious. Although I think our memories of dreams are like an ink blot test, that we create the memories because dreams actually happen in another sort of language that does not translate into waking life.

I've always felt that the ability to go easily between waking and sleeping, and thus between "consciousness" and dreaming, is related to mental health.

Again, a reason to avoid caffeine.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

There's good review of David Halberstam's last book "The Coldest Winter," about the Korean War.


Posted by: Boko999 | September 24, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Anybody beside me watch the first episode of the Ken Burns epic, "The War"? I thought it was terrific. The chat with him at 11 this morning was pretty good, too.

It's going to be on for 7 straight nights, and I'm probably gonna miss the last one on Saturday. I'd rate it pretty close to "must-see TV," though, but then, it's the kind of thing that's in my wheelhouse, so of course I'd think that.

I'm always a little annoyed that there's no way for Burns to mention that one of the people featured, Sam Hynes, wrote what is commonly regarded as one of the two finest first-person accounts of combat during WWII (the other being Gene Sledge's "With the Old Breed"). And Joel may already know that Hynes became a professor of literature at a certain Ivy League school known for its tigerish mascot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

All this talking about mind stuff is making my mind hurt. Mine has been on hold all weekend waiting for Ivan's Mom's critique of fried stuff on a stick.

Posted by: bh | September 24, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It's on PBS like the other Burns series right? Then we don't get it on basic cable. Since the move to Detroit from Rochester as a feed point for US networks we don't get PBS in the basic package. That and getting the Lions instead of the the Bills (old Marv Levy fan from his Alouettes stint here) is just another reason to hate the move.

It's the committee that makes the person. Sometimes you may wish that Thirsty, Horny or Lazy didn't show up but here they are, signed-up for life.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Just noted that a Canadian artist I was particularly found of has passed. Ken Danby RIP.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the pirate quiz.
I wish I could tape the War program, all of ken Burn's stuff has been wonderful. I watched Saving Private Ryan on Saturday night and then promptly thanked my Mom and her generation for all their sacrafices on Sunday. She always says to me"I guess you don't want to hear the old stories" and I always say "of course I do" and "your generation saved the world"

Arrrrgggggg off to work.

Mudge you cracked me up there......Thanks!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 24, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Mea maxima culpa, bh, and abject apologies. I have no culinary adventures to report. Despite my best efforts, both boys flatly refused to even taste deep-fried mashed potatoes on a stick, along with deep-fried oreos, Snickers, and pickles on a stick. I begged them in the name of Boodle research. I pleaded on behalf of my imaginary friends. They stood firm. As the responsible adult and only driver, I felt it prudent to forego the experience myself. We did eat corn dogs, but this is traditional fair fare with no hint of the exotic.

They also sold pizza on a stick. Next year I expect to see deep-fried pizza on a stick.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

You teach your kids to eat healthy and keep their arteries in fighting shape for fair food, and this is the thanks you get?


Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I've always suspected that the conscious mind is divided into three parts: the Gottado, the Oughtado, and the Wannado.

The Gottado controls those things that are necessary to do, like eating, sleeping, and going to work.

The Oughtado controls things that people do only so that they can continue to think of themselves as virtuous. Like occasionally calling annoying elderly relatives and flossing.

The Wannado controls the things that we do just for fun. Like boodling.

It is the subtle interplay of these three forces that determines how we spend the day.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, those names sound almost like mafia families :).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: bh | September 24, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse


:). <------- emoticon with a chin mole?


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry S'nuke...that should have been :P.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | September 24, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

(:*P)::. on your lap, more precisely.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | September 24, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Watched 'War" last night and one thing that really struck me was the scene and comment at the end of the Guadalcanal segment was the priviate receiving a letter on his eighteenth birthday. The couldn't get ammo and food for weeks but the mail got through on time?

I worked in Sacramento '59- '61 with a Japanese engineer that went through the internment as a young man. But he had TB at the time and was just sent to a TB hospital up in the Sierras and regulary was able to the take the Greyhound bus back to Sacramento to play poker. But his family did lose their truck farm.

Posted by: bh | September 24, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, being designated driver should have exempted you from deep-fried mashed potatoes on a stick. Probably those instant flakes, anyway.

No deep-fried Pepsi or Coke?

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

If Scotty's going to be silly with emoticons, here are some @ssicons, sent to me by my Sunday School teacher (warning! a bit risque!):

(_!_) a regular @ss

(__!__) a fat @ss

(!) a tight @ss

(_*_) a sore @ss

{_!_} a swishy @ss

(_o_) an @ss that's been around

(_x_) kiss my @ss

(_X_) leave my @ss alone

(_zzz_) a tired @ss

(_E=mc2_) a smart @ss

(_$_) Money coming out of his @ss

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Omygod dbg. I am forever amazed at the devious creativity of those with access to a deep fat fryer. I strongly suggest that Mudge not gaze upon this concoction lest he be sent into immediate hyperglycemic shock.


Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

dbG, that concoction cries out to be accompanied by a deep fried Mars bar.

Still trying to imagine Pizza on a stick.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your concern, Padouk, but although I do indeed have my food issues, deep-fried whatevers aren't among them. I'm actually a bit repulsed by the notion of deep-fried Snickers and that kind of stuff. The place where I'd have real trouble would be dragging me past the Penna. Dutch bakery stall with the apple/cherry pie/strudel/tart/turnovers. That's where I go weak in the knees. I'm not real good about walking past the funnel cake stall, either.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

You just reminded me, RD. I used to manage restaurants.

Hors d'oeuvres for one reception included scallops wrapped in bacon. The other manager ordered battered scallops by mistake; we didn't notice until the last minute. So we wrapped the bacon around them, toothpicked them and threw them in the deep fryer. You wouldn't believe how good they were! Even better than deep-fried pickles or deep-fried soft pretzel chunks.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Back to tidying up in anticipation of guests in a moment, but a friend's teenage daughter works at the cafeteria at a theme park.

Every morning this summer she made the favorite breakfast of every worker--grilled cookies.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you implying some people actually walk *past* the funnel cake stand?

Funnel cake, where simple carbohydrates and diglycerides combine in ultimate perfection?

I still remember my first time with near absolute clarity. It was August 1987 at a street fair near Reading. And to think I was already a quarter century old.

Oh, the wasted, wasted years.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

RD, I'm ashamed to say that I have done so a couple of times this summer.

I used to have it as a regular 4th of july treat when growing up, so when it's available otherwise, it feels...wrong. And this 4th of july, I found an even better treat-- a smoked whitefish/salmon stall.

Funnel cakes suddenly seemed like a passing fling of my feckless youth.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

They say you never forget your first ...ah... funnel cake, Padouk.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The Oklahoma state fair has numerous and varied food booths, but many favorites are represented multiple times. Thus, if you passed the corn dog or Indian taco or funnel cake stand, be not despondent. Another will be a few paces away, along with an opportunity for fresh-squeezed lemonade (and very tasty too). There are a few specialty booths, such as those offering deep-fry and stuff on a stick, which have a wait. The booth with the perennial long line sells hot fresh cinnamon rolls. The aroma overpowers all other smells for yards (not bad, for the fair) and irresistibly draws you in.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I loved being helped to understand Freud with the supports of college: nerdie nighttime dorm chat, accessible professors, and loads of time to think. Indulge me with my response to Mudge's Masterful Musing on "Yes! Freud Matters, despite some Stupidness." Freud developed the notion of "psychic apparatus" by cribbing from physics. He spoke often of the organizing sort of an "energy economy" within the mind. Freud riffed on the work of Gustav Fechner, modeling the psyche as a series of states with 1)flow, 2)equilibrium, and 3) transformations.

Many of our behaviors seek to establish states we can endure (and other that we can enjoy).

(Here I wish I could explain how Dr. Neuman explained the Pleasure Principle in terms of thermodynamics, but I am flummoxed.)

However, we can think on the "strange economy" of the defense mechanism, whereby people behave in such ways as to lower tensions and seek a tenable equilibrium. The behavior might make absolutely NO SENSE TO THE OBSERVER, but can be explained in the outcome of lowered tensions for the actor.

Freud made so much possible: research questions, self-reflection, and even definitions of terms that make possible a modern discussion of what the inner groundhogs are up to.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I like Mudge channeling the late Philip K Dick there at lunchtime.

Speaking of throwback NFL uniforms, I always liked the Lombardi-era Washington NFL Franchise unis designed to look like Green Bay's.

And who doesn't love the San Diego powder blue?

I liked Pitt's last week, too.

Question: Will Baltimore wear old Browns uniforms? [ha!]


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

At the Plant City Strawberry Festival, after I had the mandatory strawberry shortcake, I used to spend hours watching the cinnamon roll guy make his stuff. So much sugar and butter went into those it's a wonder they didn't have a cardiologist on staff.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I am astonished at the fried-foot-on-sticks-fair-fare. Such a roadtrip it would be to sample the regional variations.

At the Cascade County Fair, in Great Falls, MT, were available these delights to be eaten on paper plates at picnic tables covered in real cloth red gingham:

homemade beef jerky
frozen bananas dipped in Magic Shell
beef brisket
tri-tip beef sandwiches
rhubarb pie
shoestring fries with pepper, not salt
red velvet cake
bottles of Nesbit's Orange
bottles of Hamm's or Olympia beer (oldsters)

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

CP, I must send you my mom's rhubarb jam/sauce recipe that she's using. She freezes it instead of canning, or keeps it in the fridge.
It's delicious on vanilla ice cream or toast alike.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, do, Wilbrod, do. Yum.

Maggie OD yesterday said, "a funeral, then a wedding." Both rituals feature the conviviality of food.

So, great to talk about consciousness and all, but food talk may be the best way to stave off anxiety. I hope I can parlay a love of food talk into a long and healthy life. Eating too much food, especially of the delectable sort, may very well shorten life.


Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

As for the inner groundhogs... people in manic or seizure states often don't remember what happened afterwards (similar to delirum tremens, which in fact has related biochemistry to mania).

During this state they will act differently but still remain responsive to the environment somewhat.

A friend once strangled an abusive family member when disturbed during a grand mal seizure. She was extremely scared of this family member (in fact, the abuse probably gave her the epilepsy in the first place). She had no memory of it, but another family member let her know. Since then she's really wondered whether she was really so "out of it" not to know who she was defending herself from in a seizure state.

Incidentally, it is known for epileptics to grab people who lean right over them during a seizure in some sort of self-defense.

If we don't remember it, were we really unconscious then? And what do we mean by unconscious, anyway?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

But my heart will always belong to "Fisher Scones" served at The Puyallup Fair.

Perhaps mostlylurking will comment on the sly attraction of these warm buttered scones with raspberry jam.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

RD -- those scones sound lovely. I recall scones from my granny made with the tiniest of currents.

Glad you liked the moonflowers and morning Glories. My moonflowers are spent, but the tiny blue morning glories persist even though the bigger blue sails are gone now.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

dbG... those bacon-wrapped scallops sound like the perfect Kosher appetizer--NOT!

(CP.. nice to see you back in the boodlefold.)

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Gawd, all this talk about food, and it's more than three hours before I get home to eat! :-(

CeePee's reference to Hamms beer brought back memories of the TV ads they used to air, with the antics of that cartoon bear in the north woods. Very funny. Now you know that I'm an old geezer. Sneekin' up on Mudge in that department.

Posted by: just sayin' | September 24, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

DUN dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun
From the land of sky blue waters (waters),
From the land of pines, lofty balsams,
Comes the beer refreshing,
Hamm's, the beer refreshing.

DUN dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun
Brewed where nature works her wonders,
Aged for many moons, gently mellowed,
Hamm's the beer refreshing,
Hamm's the beer refreshing.

bc, If the Ravens don the Browns uniforms, I swear that I'll use the TV brick.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Not quite a fair thing, but fresh strawberry milkshakes are a roadside staple near Homestead, Florida.

Yesterday, a local supermarket had big boxes of flowering potted Dendrobium orchids from the same area. These Asian orchids seem to be pretty easy plants for the yard.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG, being boodle-enfolded beats boodle-bereft.

Just Sayin': loved those commercials growing up. Recall the flap about the cartoon camel selling cigs? I always think about the Hamm's beer bear as a similar case. I take it, then, that Hamm's is gone.

Cue jingle and tom tom drums:

From the Land of Sky Blue Wa aa ters.....
Hamm's, the beer refreshing!

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back College Parkian. All this talk of food makes me wish I could sneak out and back to the fair for some snacking. Alas. Even if I could or would, the fair is gone for another year.

I do know where I can get some scones, though I'm sure they're not as good as those at the Pullayup fair.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, Ivansmom, the Tulsa State Fair is just around the corner...

I remember when I was growing up that I used to be puzzled by the existence of *two* state fairs in one state. And I was aware that some people around my neck of the woods claimed that the Tulsa State Fair was the real mccoy and the OKC one was a pretender. But I knew better because I'd been to the state fair at the state capital and they had a DOUBLE FERRIS WHEEL (!)

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, I posted that link without looking at it. The Tulsa State Fair is featuring

Deep fried bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick, Cookie dough with fondue and deep fried Ravioli!

Fax me some celery sticks, quick!

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, kbertocci. The Tulsa "state fair" is merely a pale imitation of the State Fair. Some of those Tulsa folks just don't want to make that drive. All the 4-H and FHA judging and animal competitions, teacher of the year, rodeo -- the things that make it a State Fair -- are in the state capital.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Now I got a tune cootie, to go with my growling stomach. Sheese :-)

Posted by: Just sayin' | September 24, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was National Bohemian that was from the Land of Sky-Blue Waters. I think the same bear-wiz beer was sold under several different regional labels.

I knew a fellow once who managed to win a free beer from a bartender by demonstrating the ability to pee sky-blue waters. He nabbed some methylene blue tablets from work (he was a Navy corpsman), he and a buddy took the tablets, waited an appropriate length of time, then called the bartender to witness their feat. Free beer!

Posted by: StorytellerTim | September 24, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I added a couple small bits to the kit.

I want to see the Ken Burns thing. Maybe tonight. Mixed reviews in the press, but I'd like to hear more from the boodle about it.

Mudge writes: 'I'm always a little annoyed that there's no way for Burns to mention that one of the people featured, Sam Hynes, wrote what is commonly regarded as one of the two finest first-person accounts of combat during WWII (the other being Gene Sledge's "With the Old Breed"). And Joel may already know that Hynes became a professor of literature at a certain Ivy League school known for its tigerish mascot.'

Yes, I had Hynes in an English class and he was great. I may have to go scrounge around in my attic for the books we read. I know we read Jude the Obscure; a wonderful book but oh so horribly grim and tragic -- the death knell of the Victorian novel, in Hynes's view.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 24, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

You had Hynes for a teacher? I'm so jealous I can't see straight. If you tell me he had Paul Fussell come in to guest-lecture I swear I'll open a vein.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The Fisher scones are fabulous - I have waited in long lines for them. Alas, this time I had to acquiesce to my sister's wish for ice cream. I should have grabbed a bag of scones on the way out. The mix is available (in grocery stores here and online), and Krusteaz makes a good one too. I realized just now that we had ice cream 4 days out of the 6 that my sister was here...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 24, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Regarding "The War" I watched it along with my husband who can't get enough of anything having to do with WWII. Personally I am a little sick of hearing about the greatest generation. And 7 days of it times 2 hours each episode?

Yes, it was horrible and every other negative adjective and an almost incomprehensible number of people died. But the documentary so far deals mostly with personal stories of our citizens who were either drafted or chose to enlist and suffered the consequences (my family as well). Or they were interred in camps (Japanese Americans, etc.). It's been more than 60 years. It so apparent from the documentary, at least last night's episode, that most were forced to serve one way or the other and the country, of course, supported the efforts, etc. But we know all that...there have been tons of movies, documentaries, etc. Yes, it's nice to have recorded stories for future generations and those weirdoes who try and change historical facts. But I'd rather hear/learn perspectives about more recent events.

Posted by: birdie | September 24, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I feel the same way about the Civil War, birdie, after enduring being raised by a Civil War buff.

And about football.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Stronger. Faster. Better. And Deadlier.

...Space microbes!

We must take a moment to hope that groundhogs will never go into space.

And now we know why Jeremiah was a bullfrog who wouldn't jump..;_ylt=AiVDYHS0vlW3rF1lL0TlWwtxieAA

And could consciousness be the thing that moves wheelchairs?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

>Deep fried bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick, Cookie dough with fondue and deep fried Ravioli!

that's awesome!

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 24, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for confirming that I am not unique in my fondness for Fisher Scones. In response to my whining my relatives usually mail me some scone mix every year (I'm waiting...) and it never goes to waste. Yet there is something about consuming a freshly-made scone at the Fair that is unique. Maybe it is the professional equipment they use, or the specific mixture of butter and jam. Or perhaps it is just the special ambiance of the Fair. You know, what with the cows and all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. I see my Google ads include one for sexy pictures of Lara Flynn Boyle. I can't help but think that Error Flynn would be pleased.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Well, RD, I prefer to think that it's the fresh outdoor air! And, L.A. lurker, I agree - bacon and mashed potatoes on a stick - mmmmm.

I spoke to a woman while waiting for the library to open today. She had come to the library to get a recipe for "jarring" peaches - what I would call "canning". I had never heard it called that before. Is that a Southern expression or Washington state or what?

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 24, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, my grandmother (who did a lot of it) called it "putting up" whatever. (Putting up preserves, putting up tomatoes, etc.) Mason jars, the whole nine yards. Jelly and preserves (blackberry)were done in open-top jars more like glasses, at the top of which a half-inch "cap" of melted wax was used as the seal. No pressurized lid required. Did our own root beer, too, for a few years. A few years back some in-laws gave us a ton of cucumbers, so my wife and I "put up" a couple dozen jars of sweet pickle chips--best I ever ate.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Don't think "jarring" is a Washington State term. At least I have never heard of it. Makes a certain amount of sense, though.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

My mother's big effort was peach preserves for my dad, who loved them on toast at breakfast. She'd peel and slice a mountain of peaches (at least a peck, IIRC) and slowly cook them with sugar in the enamel baby bathtub on top of the stove for hours and hours. Then she would pack them in clean jars and boil them till they sealed. All in an un-airconditioned kitchen.

I also remember fig preserves and bread and butter pickles being made. The pickles were to die for.


I've mastered her cheese straws and ladyfinger cookies (those dry cookies, as Mr. T calls them). Dunno if I'll ever have the moxie to try preserves. The height of the mountain are my grandmother's homemade egg noodles. A couple of my cousins have done that. Maybe I should try.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I have an air-conditioned kitchen, all the stuff, know all the tricks. Next summer, come up and we'll jam.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

One other thing about the passing of Error Flynn. Bob was just a bit older than me, which is part of why I enjoyed his comments so much. We had many of the same cultural touchstones. But his death at this age also makes me start to realize another aspect of becoming "middle aged." People you care about start to die. And this gives one a new perspective on aging. Yes, your jowls start to become startlingly salient and you realize that the hairline ain't gonna be moving forward again, but you are still alive. By staying alive I keep the stories of those I have known alive. And in some vague airy way I feel that do so honors the dead.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Carefully staying on topic, I consulted the great mind in the sky known as Wikipedia and find Hamm's goes with the bear and the sky blue waters. Mr Boh, with half a handlebar mustache, goes with the Natty Boh.

Posted by: nellie | September 24, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

My mother used to "can" dozens and dozens of mason jars of tomatoes each year. As well as some reasonably dreadful pickles. But where she really shone is in her ability to make and "can" applesauce. Huge amounts of cinnamon and just a hint of nutmeg and cloves. Never been topped.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

RD, that's right. That's why it's important to record and keep memories of those you love. My mother had photo albums of her family, but many of the pictures don't have names recorded, so we tried to get some of that written while people who still remembered were alive. Not sure if anyone will know or care about old photos when we are gone. My mom and her aunt also kept diaries which are very interesting to us, even though they're just about mundane things (and hard to decipher - my mom had tiny, tiny writing).

I've had a number of work colleagues die unexpectedly - some my age, some a bit younger. My mom was only 59 when she died, just a few years older than I am now. So I try to appreciate my life as best I can, even when I'm stuck in traffic or dealing with a middle-of-the-night call from work, or some other frustration.

I like to think that Error knows some answers the rest of us don't know yet.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 24, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

It seems so small, compared to the loss of Error Flynn, yet I feel the need to tell my imaginary friends that about a half-hour ago, we had to euthanize our dear cat, 'Bo (CH. Felitan Strabo of LaChrista). Sudden critical renal failure, hospitalized since Friday evening, dramatically deteriorated today in spite of the best of care.

Bo looked a very aristocratic Siamese, but he was really just a funny, cuddly, silly boy. A darling.

It was a sweet goodbye, but a better life.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, sorry about your beloved cat, pets are a big part of the family and their loss is deeply felt.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sorry to hear your sad news Yoki. Loss is always hard. Sending me best thoughts on a northernly trajectory.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like great fun, dbG! Mr. T likes jams and preserves so this could be very productive for both of us.

Yoki, I'm sorry to hear about Bo. Do you have other cats to comfort you? It's hard indeed to let them go.

I talked to my niece this morning. She has acquired a third Sheltie, a 13-week-old puppy. I'm sure she will be a great comfort, now that my niece has lost both her parents.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I never got to sniff Bo. or Bob. Not fair!
Yoki, I don't have to tell you to seek fur therapy when you have three dogs at hand.

-- Wilbrodog. Now to Wilbrod.

Mostly's right, RD. My first year in HS I had my grandfather and a teacher die.

And then long before my HS graduation, a beloved next-door neighbor who was sort of like Curmudgeon with a hunting 'n' fishing license. He built his own gazebo, he put up more bird-feeders than you'd imagine existed in the country, and so on.

He was the first guy I knew who would actually WANT to eat shark-- and did. And after I tasted shark, I still don't know why.

Oh, he was out to get the rabbits eating up his garden. I doubt he had an Elmer Fudd accent. I commented rabbits were cute. He also said "and they taste good, too."

I know he would have won any fight against any wascally groundhogs if unwisely challenged by overgrown rodents.

He and his wife inspired me and his children with a keen love for nature. He died of a heart attack in his early seventies, I think.

Death strikes at any age, it's just the odds keep going up all the time.

Posted by: Wilbrod/og | September 24, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Yoki... so sorry about your sweet Bobohead. Losing a pet is always hard.

Lots of love,

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Storyteller Tim,

National Bohemian was made in Baltimore. But your description of both it and Hamm's is correct.


I'm sad to hear about your cat. If he was suffering, you did the right thing. It's hard to do. I still remember the call from my dad that he had to put our dog down and that was 25 years ago.

Posted by: pj | September 24, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, he lived a long life with a wonderful family who loved him. You were all fortunate, and I feel your loss.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, it's a deal.

When I was married and lived in Ohio, I'd put up about 100 pts. of different kinds of jam every year. We hung out with a bunch of nice people who entertained, and showing up at someone's house with a jar of dinner (Red raspberry with gin, Black raspberry with Cointreau) or regular jam seemed to bring a smile.

When I started grad school on the other side of the state and came home on weekends, I noticed the jam stash going down rapidly. My then-husband was getting pity dinner invitations 3 or more times a week and taking jam each time so he wouldn't have to pick up flowers or something.

Now, it'd take me 50 years to eat 100 pints of jam--so you'd be a good partner. I have the feeling we'll do great pickles, too.

Did you know that women were the majority of photographers in the early days? The emulsions were similar to pickle recipies, or so I've read.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I have two Concord grape vines in my back yard. Each year I make jelly. This year it didn't work quite right. Anybody want some nice home-made grape syrup? I got lots.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Now that is an interesting bit of trivia, dbG! I've never heard that, but it makes perfect sense.

The things I learn here!

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

RD, you'll have to join us. Come and grape syrup no more.

Homemade grape jam is wonderful and less fragile than jelly. I have a Cuisinart power strainer which works perfectly for grapes. One year my friend and I made over 100 pints in a day.

Our husbands and her kids kept wandering in and saying, "Grape jelly is on sale down at the IGA." Then they tasted it. No more comments.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

RD... You have concord grape vines growing in your yard? That means you have grape.... leaves!

Next spring, I'll trade you some fresh-picked ones for some stuffed and cooked ones.

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

RD reminded me of the time while my mom sister and I were away, Dad and the boys decided to make applesauce. They went out and purchase fresh apples and proceeded to make a vast quantity of sauce. When we came home they offered us bowls of fresh, warm and VERY PINK - applesauce. Seems they left the peels on.

The applesauce was forgetable - the memory of the pink colour lasting.

dbG et al you have me wistful for my moms jams and jellies, her red current jelly was my favorite. My parents also made pickles, I remember some they made in a crock pot over about 14 days? Dad took great delight in add the spices everyday.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, I wonder if DHS will let me cross the border with several mason jars of my apple chutney, dilled carrots and chili sauce? We could have a good old-fashioned canning swap. Then none of us have to go malnourished through the winter!

I'm amazed and delighted to learn I am not the only Boodler who cans when she can.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh goodness, TBG, these things produce scads of leaves. (The bunnies love them.)

I never realized that Concord leaves were of the kind you can cook. I always imagined, you know, some kind of exotic Greek grape leaves flown in directly from the sunny shores of the Med. Shows what I know about cooking.

Anyway, remind me next spring and I shall shower you with fresh grape leaves.

Just don't tell the rabbits. They get terribly possessive.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks all for your kind words about our 'Bo. It is quite a blow to our family, but he was very old and had had a very happy life. All shall be well, and all shall be very well.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Reminds me, Yoki, how was the Cincinnati Chili?

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, as long as they don't have contrabrand meat in 'em (so maybe no chili sauce).. you might have a chance to sneak 'em through.

I can ask the local border police next Sunday just what's allowed across, because it's really hard to tell.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like we just need to meet someplace and take over somebody's kitchen for a week of canning and cooking. Now wouldn't that be a blast?!

Stuffed grape leaves
Homemade grape jam
Bread and butter pickles
Crab soup

This could get to be a big thing.

Posted by: Slyness | September 24, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Long weekend sounds good! My kitchen's okay, but someone else may wish to volunteer.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, RD.. you set me off to learn if there are differences in grape leaves and I saw this...

When buying a grape plant to grow for the leaves, choose a variety that does not have a lot of white fuzz on the underside of the leaf. White grape varieties usually do well, but Concord grape leaves do not--too much fuzz.

Oh well. It sounded good while it lasted.

Too much fuzz, indeed.

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, TBG!

It'll just be like a peach or kiwi! I'm sure a little fuzz won't ruin your stuffed grape leaves.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

dbG, the Cincinnati Chili was *fantastic.* Utterly unlike anything we've eaten before but absolutely delicious and, perhaps, the ultimate comfort food. Your recipe should win the Spatula D'Or at a food festival. The secret ingredient is really important (I tested by taking a small amount wit'out out of the big pot, and then adding it to the larger amount.)

I hope it was OK I used your basic Catelli dried spaghetti and not fancy fresh noodles? And medium Cheddar? Nothing exotic or high end, but all delicious.

I also tried it one way, two way, all the way up to four way, and four way is by my lights the way to go. Five way might be a bit much, you know?

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I just had a mind-tasting-experiment in my head, and I fear that if the Concord grape leaves have "too much fuzz" they might be rather nettle-like. Burn the tongue and induce coughing. Perhaps we can take them very young and blanch the fuzz off?

I have a very large canning kettle, two canning tongs, and sixteen boxes of mason jars, so maybe we should communally can in my summer-kitchen? We could have a Canadian WAPO reunion! And publicize it on the front page, thereby confusing the powers-that-be. Excellent!

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Glad I checked in once more before going upstairs.

Yoki, Cincinnati chili wouldn't know what to do on fancy pasta or cheese! It's from OHIO! (not that there's anything wrong with that)! Sounds as if you made it perfectly.

Now you have to try it on hotdogs, warm the buns, cover the hotdog with chili, the chili with cheese, the cheese with onions.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

My mom used to can - red currant jelly and grape jelly - and sour cherries (remember the sour cherry discussion?). Too much work for me, though. I prefer to freeze things. My husband sometimes does some canning (or jarring, as at least one person in this world calls it.)

Scottynuke, I meant to congratulate you earlier. Wonderful news! It reminded me of my first serious boyfriend, when I was in college. He used to leave notes and poems in books - which I never found. He always had to point them out to me, days later. Maybe that's why he broke up with me - I'm just too dense!

Yoki, sorry to hear about your kitty. It's tough to lose old friends...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 24, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I am diverted by this discussion. Thanks.

mmmmm (HS voice), chili on hot dogs, cheese on chili, onions on cheese. I'm all about that.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I'm sorry to hear about Bo.

Joel, I read Hardy's Jude the Obscure not too long ago. It was a great book (though as you point out, not a happy one at all), and I can see why some felt it was the death knell of the Victorian novel. You could make a case for it being a novel crossover from classical Victorian in style to modern in themes and character.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Dark Victorian novel genre, hmm.

Post-gothic? Woodcut noir? Corset noir?

Bustles 'n' gore?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I love Jude The Obscure. From the fake pregnancy to trap a guy into marriage to "Done because we are too menny." I find the the struggles of Jude to be completely contemporary and relevant. Hardy was a genius at chronicling the human condition.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I sent CP my mom's recipe for rhubarb jelly/sauce.

Here's the rhubarb recipe from my mom. It is made with strawberry, raspberry or fruit of your choice.
The raspberry or strawberry is a killer IMO, but I think peach is a possible, ditto for blackberries, etc.)

The most recent batch used raspberry jello, frozen raspberries and blueberries this time)

6 to 8 cups of sliced rhubarb
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar.

Let that set for a few hours or overnight. Then slowly cook that along with:

2+ cups berries or other fruit (strawberries, or raspberries with a few blueberries)

Note: rhubarb does not smell so great while cooking. It tastes far better than you would expect.

Cook for half a hour or until the rhubarb is very tender. Turn off the burner and add 2/3 3 oz packages of jello
(strawberry, raspberry, peach, whatever fits the fruit you;re using), and sugar to fit.

At this stage, my mom normally adds sweet n low to equal 1/2 cup of sugar as a token concession to her diabetes.

After it is mostly cooled, put it in sealable plastic containers. Store one in the fridge to use, and one in the freezer

Bon appetit!


Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I am very sorry to hear about your cat Bo. Knowing he had a good life and is not suffering is a comfort eventually. There has been way too much sadness lately. My friend with ovarian cancer is doing well but I am concerned for her anyway and I recently heard that one of my cousins has a rare form of lymphoma. He doesn't seem to be in immediate danger but if the cancer is that rare, who really knows for sure. I had a meet and greet with my new doctor today. I need routine blood work and a colonoscopy - ugh- at some point in the near future, but I seem to be fine. The older I get, the more I realize how fleeting good health can be and it's scary.

We've been watching the Ken Burns series. I am enjoying the personal approach the four towns bring to the narrative. I like hearing about the failures and missteps instead of the sugar coated propaganda of war movies. It makes it more real and more terrible, but also more impressive that we managed to defeat Japan and Germany. "S" has just finished transcribing about 50 letters written by a cousin who was on the submarine Tang during the war.(The sub sunk itself with a faulty torpedo during its fifth and most successful mission, only eight men survived, his cousin wasn't one of them.) "S" has coordinated the letters with the historical record of the Tang's missions. Burn's series fits in nicely with the letters.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 24, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Again, thanks all. There is real comfort for whatever aches your heart, here.

Bad Sneakers said, "the more I realize how fleeting good health can be."

Exactly. Mazel Tov.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I've spent many hours (and untold dollars on pharmaceuticals, legal or not) trying to pinpoint the elusive source/location of "self".

It was fun to experiment, but all I can report result-wise is that "self" is kinda like the "Tao"... "The Way that can be told of is not The Way". Sorta like those floaties in your eyes... if you don't focus directly on them, you can see them drift around (especially against a blue sky background). But the second you try to focus on them they disappear.

Yeah, yeah... I know... go sniff some more of that fairy dust, martooni. Or lacquer thinner.

Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Jude the Obscure? Hardy? The first contemporary novel-writer. The perfect novelist (read the Mayor of Casterbridge, compare and contrast the symbols of country/town, wild/tame, submit a 900-word essay at your convenience) and bridge between then and now.


Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Life as Floaters. Good stuff, martooni.

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Pinpointing your consciousness is like trying to see the back of your own eyeball.

Oh, I like taoism a lot.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, so sorry to hear about your cat Bo.

Nobody around here cans anything. Occasionally, some people would pickle cucumber, chilli or papaya that you'd finish in a day or two. Canning requires skill and a lot of work. In short, we're lazy. All restaurants pickle chilli to be used as dips.

It'd be so fun to just sit around and watch you guys do canning and listen to you chit-chat. D@mn that body of water.

Posted by: rainforest | September 24, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear about your cat, Yoki. A champion siamese. My favourite cat. We had one named Tai when we lived in Ohio. He was on the small side. We had a couple of acres and Tai used to be pummelled on a regular basis by this monster siamese by the name of Mouse. When we moved to Syracuse it was to a housing development wiwth 1/2 acre lots. Tai kicked every animals butt and established a territory that was about three blocks. We had to find him a farm home to keep the neighbor's dog safe. He succumbed to pneumonia shortly thereafter. So it goes.

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Having to say good-bye to an animal who has been a part of your family is so hard. Go find another cat right now, Yoki, you won't regret it!

Posted by: nellie | September 24, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thank you for the compliment yesterday. Bob Lewis's death hit me really hard, he was close in age to my own kids. Just shouldn't work that way.

Posted by: nellie | September 24, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Catching up on the Boodle...

Life as Floaters?

Someone should see a gastrointestinal doctor and flush those things down.

Though I see where the metaphor works...


Posted by: bc | September 25, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

At a palm and cycad sale on Saturday, I met the nursery's cat, who was extraordinarily friendly, but sort of disappeared as more people showed up.

Even if cats are not not very much domesticated, they can be persistent, long-lived parts of our lives.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 25, 2007 12:02 AM | Report abuse

And if not the actual cats, then the hairball stains and the scratch marks in the sofa.

Sorry, I was having a cat-bashing moment there ;).

I have in fact had a close acquaintance with a cat once, but I maintain he was quite unusual for a cat. Oodles of personality, but far more salt and sass than sweetness.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 25, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Catching up tonight.

National bohemiam, "natty boh" as we called it was brewed in Baltimore at the Carling brewery and there saying was "from the land of Pleasant Living" When I was younger and poor you could get a case for about 5 bucks.

BC, the ravens better not wear the brown's uniforms. Well maybe just this week when we visit Cleveland, They already hate us, may as well insite a riot while we are at it.Thank goodness we have only been in existance for 11 years, we don't have any weird uniforms.

Yoki, sorry to hear about your cat, mine is getting up there in age too,but he will live long living in these woods.I caught a big hairy spider the other day and freed it outside, only to find my cat eating it later.

Well goodnight or good morning as the case may be. I hope EF is looking down on us enjoying tonight's boodle.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 25, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Hi, all, some catching up.

Birdie, it's true that WWII involved pretty much everybody, in great contrast to all the US wars since Vietnam. Everyone had participated to some extent, if only by not having many nylon stockings, and we came out of it being all part of the same society. I think that's why the 50s and 60s were so special, and why those of us growing up then might have had "progressive" ideas that are now out of favor, as individualism has reasserted itself. The emergence of TV is also a factor in the decline of national community IMHO. We now have communities like all-volunteer youth soccer leagues and churches, but they are more circumscribed than the complete national effort of WWII.

Reading talk about EF looking down on us. I take exception to that. I don't want to come across quite as strong as LindaLoo, but that bit of what might be thought of as harmless symbolic speech has the unfortunate effect of propagating the idea of an afterlife, spirit world, etc. I don't think that idea would ever get to first base on its merits in the 21st century if it weren't already widely believed, but it's alive and can reproduce itself.

All this reminds me of Berger & Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. It's not about how the mind works, but how it creates the non-physical structures that we all inhabit.

Today's hullabaloo about Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia reminds me of the local neighborhood market. About 25 yrs ago it started getting overwhelmed by the large chains, and began to cater to the Iranian or Persian community hereabouts. Now it's a largely Persian market, with halal products at the meat counter. But it also has Indian and Mexican items (and what nationality is cat food?), and an open door into the adjacent kosher butcher shop with the sign in English, Farsi and Hebrew, which serves as an alternate meat department. Left to their own devices, people seem to be able to get along. There's another market a mile away like that where the deli has three slicing machines -- kosher, halal, and don't care.

Posted by: LTL-CA | September 25, 2007 1:29 AM | Report abuse


GWE said he hoped the afterlife was real. That's his own personal belief issue, not a symbolic statement of anything.

Please note that the "afterlife" virus is already out there and reproducing anyway. To chide GWE for commenting on this is inappropriate. He is not going to convert millions from atheism with that comment.

Additionally, I ask you, why do we even bother with funerals, why don't we just throw people away like carrion, because you know, nobody's home anymore anyway.

The answer is-- it's not logical. It's not even "cultural brainwashing."
Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers. Elephants bury their dead as well. In every culture there are funeral rituals whether the body is exposed to birds, burnt, or whatever.

Human emotion doesn't bow or change itself to prissy logic and idealism. Don't even try.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 25, 2007 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, my condolences on Bo. I'm sure he enjoyed his life with you. *HUGSSSSSSSS*

*post-very-busy-Monday, low-powered Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 25, 2007 5:02 AM | Report abuse

In fifth grade I told my friends that our cat had died. They didn't believe me because I was so matter of fact. Then it him me that I would never again pet the gentle Siamese cat we had that was older than me was. Then I cried over a death for the first time. Pets are practice family.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 25, 2007 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Yoki used Catelli pasta!?!
Oooh Nooo
I'm sorry about your cat dear, but you've got to get a grip. What would Bo think!!
You might as well use NoName pasta.
I'm shocked.
I won't have that Catelli stuff in the house.
Oh ya. Good Morning!

Posted by: Boko999 | September 25, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Catelli is a good name for a cat! Yoki, so sad when the furry among us succumb.

Cincicatty would also be a good name for a cat, as would Chili-cat.....somehow, that special chili dinner seemed a fitting offbeat wake meal. I expect that the cat fairies may hover eventually when your household is ready to counterweight the doggies with some specialness of cat.

Dogs and cats, with their hard-wired stances toward us make me think about the emerging consciousness of la difference.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

While driving to work I suddenly recalled hearing a talk a long time ago about "quantum consciousness." I think it was an attempt to explain consciousness in terms of QM. I don't recall being especially persuaded, although, as a prof once told me, "everything is Quantum Mechanics."

I do recall that one of the major ideas behind Quantum Consciousness is that the mind is like a Quantum Wave Function, in that once disturbed it collapses. The upshot is that if the brain is disturbed by say, transporter beam technology, the mind vanishes.

I believe it was at this point in the narrative that I got all grumpy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 25, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

RD -- wouldn't this forum be great?

Professor QM -- Quantum mechanics explains consciousness.

Professor TD -- Balderdash, the underlying system is found in Thermodynamics.

Point-Counterpoint, etc.

Sort of like Bertrand Russell and C.S. Lewis on the God Problem.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I love making jams, canning pickles, cherries, plums, crab apples, all those things. There are few things finer than looking at a shelf of jams and jellies of all colours standing prettily in the sun (and then you'be better get them downstairs because the sun will ruin how they look).

In a lot of ways, I miss those days when I could do that sort of things, indeed when it was neccesity. The other side of that equation was not having new shoes but for sneakers ever, wearing winter boots, till the heels fell off, and having coats older than your kids, no matter how old your kids were.

You know, I feel a whole lot better about having to be at the office at 6:30 this morning. My rose coloured lenses were were getting in the way.

Posted by: dr | September 25, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Puss is a good name for a cat. My friend Don named a new kitten after its most noticable attribrute when it walked away with its tail in the air. * or A__hole.
When his good lady took the kitty to the vet for its shots they asked for the name.
"As....Puss",said she.
A$$Puss became a huge tomcat(neutered) who once left a muskrat on the stoop. Don could use him now in his war against the International Groundhog Conspiracy.

Posted by: Boko999 | September 25, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I emailed my sisters about last night's short grape leaves discussion and forwarded them the cool article that had stated that Concord grape leaves are too fuzzy.

One sister replied with this story about our very refined grandmother, or Yia Yia...

"I'll never forget Yia Yia's advice when I told her my romantic notion of planting grapevines on my trellis on Hanover Street, just like hers in Chevy Chase.

"'Oh, no, honey,' she said, 'the birds will eat the grapes and sh!t all over your awning.'

Pop went the fantasy. "

Posted by: TBG | September 25, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I will bet she was a heck of a grandmother TBG, great story.

Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I did a little research and learned that in a pinch new spring Concord grape leaves can be cooked, but they are less than ideal. Still, in the interest of Culinary Science, we could always give it a shot.

Concord grapes are stupid easy to grow. You just build a trellis, stick a vine or two in the ground, and then jump back quickly. The trickiest thing is preventing a fungal disease known as "black rot." Judicious application of fruit-tree fungicide seems to do the trick.

Because the vine is next to a busy road, the birds seem to keep their distance. And the yappy dog helps. The biggest hassle is bees. When the grapes start to get too ripe, the swarming begins.

Even with my general horticultural incompetence I produce more grapes than I know what to do with. There is a reason grape jelly is not known as an elite food product.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 25, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Very funny, Joel:
"The feeling that everyone is trying to take the romance and mystery out of life -- trying to drain all the magic out of it -- is generated by subconscious activity in the limbic system, specifically the amygdala, the fornicate gyrus, and the nucleus accumbens."

I'm slao struck by the quantum theory, imperfectly reinterpreted by me, that if the mind is disturbed it collapses. I think this could explain a lot about one's mental state after extended parenting.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

fornicate gyrus
nucleus accumbens

Behold the sexiness of science words in the morning!

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

CP - it's good to have you back and boodlin'.

We've been watching "The War" and enjoying it. I thought it started off in a rather plodding fashion, but I guess that was just to set the stage. I have this sense of foreboding as I watch it. I have read about the series and read the chat with Ken Burns yesterday and they referenced some pretty ghastly film and pictures. So far, it's done a good job and I don't mean to imply that it's a walk in the park, but I haven't seen any of the really gut wrenching pictures or footage yet and I'm dreading it. It's sort of like that scene in "Saving Private Ryan" where Tom Hanks and Matt Damon are sitting in the sepia light amid the rubble talking about home and you can begin to hear the escalating rumble of the approaching tanks. That scene just got to me!

All I know about the mind is that I'm trying to hang on to mine...there have been some "over 40" moments that make me wonder....

Posted by: Kim | September 25, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Very funny, TBG!

Ivansmom - yep, I think you're right...that must explain minds been disturbed by teenagers. It's not me, it's them!

Posted by: Kim | September 25, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

SCC - my mind has been

Posted by: Kim | September 25, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

In the early days of the Boodle, I used to have a running semi-satirical thread with some of the other Boodlers regarding the QM, consciousness, and the nature of reality.

All of us are Observers (intentionally to be confused with and possibly inseperable from The Observer), all making waves the Higgs Ocean (a medium for transmission of informaton and energy) which we collapse into smaller waves in our headnodes for translation into our Relative (sorry, Albert, I know how much you hated this spookt stuff) perceptions of reality. Sometimes we stop and listen to the Ocean, sometimes we surf, but we're always making waves of some sort, even when standing still.

Also used to make jokes about Heisenberg's Uncertain golf, where you can know what kind of ball you're playing, what color the ball is, or where it is on the course, but not all three. It's a challenging game.

More later, I hope.

On that note, LTL-CA, I wish I were as confident as you regarding the nature of life, reality, and the possibility of an afterlife. At this point in my life, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have all the answers, and whatever beliefs or answers people find for themselves that give them comfort or happienss and don't hurt anyone else, I'm all for it.


Posted by: bc | September 25, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "happiness"

Also, re,. the title of this Kit, I personally identify with the line "More on consciousness," especially when I say it out loud. I am the "moreon."


Posted by: bc | September 25, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see the Burns series, but I try hard not to turn on the television at night (discouraging the Boy). However, I may give him the opportunity to watch this with me. He wants to do his National History Day project on Hiroshima, so we should watch the last episode. I also have my dad's letters from the Pacific front during that time; he was scheduled to be part of the invasion of Japan had they not dropped the bombs. Consequently his view of that use of nuclear weapons was more complex than some.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Riffing on BC to LTL-CA, sometimes people choose to talk in metaphor to lighten the mood, and speak about things that defy or elude words. This is the impulse of poetry, writ large, writ democratically.

For some of us, we choose to move beyond the metaphor into a world of belief. Not 'know' but believe.

Besides, the image of EF offering to take G*D for a ride in his/her choice of conveyance:

the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car...

well, 'tis funny. And me, well my sore heart is lighter for an instant. Works! Is Free. Not intended to offend.

Thanks, BC, for sayin' what I am thinkin'

(I shall stop with the dialog ' to the salt mines...boodle on)

PS Hi Kim.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Trip to California delayed by the fact that my husband is in Charlotte, N.C., this week for training.

Ross Perot--his foundation--puts Magna Charta very quickly on the auction block.

The last case of FMD in Britain was at Runnymeade--north Surrey, on the outskirts of London, west-southwest of Heathrow. (Bluetongue has made its first appearance in Suffolk.)

Hitting close to home, figuratively, since family were on both sides of the table.

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Re Burns:
Henry Lewis Stimson, Roosevelt's secretary of war, was uncle to Alfred Lee Loomis, if your interest is Hiroshima, Ivansmom. Also secretary of war under Taft (Rawson line). All so very family.

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Hi, everyone. Wow, what a sad day for me to come back to the boodle. I'm so sorry to hear about E.F., I always enjoyed reading what he had to say. My own father passed away from cancer when he was 49 - what a horrific disease it is.

I've been studying for the bar (which I hopefully passed) and spending lots of time with my little one. She'll be 3 next month. And I went back to work a few weeks ago. Trying to get back into the swing of things hasn't been easy after almost 4 months off!

Posted by: PLS | September 25, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Actually, CP, EF was considering the purchase of a new Mustang convertible. We discussed it quite a bit.

In my head, EF's taking Him for a ride in a new Shelby GT 500 KR convertible, in red with white stripes.


Posted by: bc | September 25, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

My father was also supposed to invade Japan. He was extremely reticent about his wartime experience. He'd graduated high school in 1941 and was sent off to three colleges. I showed interest in applying to one of them, and it was interesting to walk the campus with him. It was the sort of place that a kid with excellent SATs wouldn't get into without also playing lacrosse or an having an alumnus parent. Dad ended up as a medic; I recall a comment that fungus infections seemed as big a problem as the Japanese. Fierce fungi, I guess.

Paul Fussell in "The Boys' Crusade" says that he was one of the kids sent to college by the Army. He and many others were sent to Europe when the Army was running short of combat troops.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 25, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Hi Loomis! and welcome back PLS. OF COURSE you passed the bar. Did you answer the questions - and by this I mean, did you put words on paper or fill in a circle? If so, you passed. The less you know taking a bar exam, the better. It is completely random. Trust me. I passed the Bar in three states.

The capital letter is to distinguish the exam from drinking establishments, which I may or may not have passed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

PLS, welcome back.

There have been a number of boodlers showing up this week that haven't been around for a while - it nice.

Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

PLS! Great to see you! Oh good gosh, dealing with the bar and a terrible-two? Of this you should be rightly proud.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 25, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Hi, Ivansmom! Yep, I wrote for every question and I filled in all the little bubbles. :-) Why in the world did you take three bar exams?

Hey, DMD & RD Padouk. Actually, my husband dealt with the terrible two most of the time when I was studying - and I think three is going to be worse than two if the last few weeks have been any indication. I even went to my mom's house for about 3 weeks before the exam. It was nice being pampered and having all of my favorite foods fixed by dear mom!

Posted by: PLS | September 25, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey, welcome back, PLS, and congrats on the bar. It'll be good having you around; every time I ask Ivansmom a legal question, she sends me a bill. I expect to get smacked with a lien and a writ of payus uppus or elsis at any moment.

Dave, you should read Fussell's essay, "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb."

My father most likely would have been headed to Japan, too, on convoy escort. He was never too angry at the Japanese in general though he didn't like them, but he had a very personal dislike of the kamikazes in particular. They offended our western sensibilities, pretty much like the suicide bombers of today do.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 25, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, too funny!

What a challenge! Next thing you know we'll all be taking it (whose state shall we choose?) and reporting our scores to the Boodle. Is there an online Bar?

It's been 3 years since I added initials after my name. Hmmmmmmm. :-)

Posted by: dbG | September 25, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

PLS, if I can give you one piece of legal career advice it is this: Make sure the state in which you practice has reciprocity with anywhere else you might wish to practice. I failed this elementary test and consequently wasted weeks, or decades in perceived time, studying for and taking three state bars. Of course, now I get to bill Mudge three times for every piece of advice. That is how that works, isn't it?

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

PLS, three year olds can be a challenge but in my experience the ages 3-5 are to be savoured. Our last is in that stage, and when not driving you nuts are a joy to watch, just like little sponges absorbing and beginning to discover the world. Plus they still pretty much think their parents are perfect!

Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, your new handle should then be:
Bill everything, Thrice

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 25, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I just have to say this, it is September 25th and here right now it is 83F and 94F with the humidity, weird but wonderful.

I did check the weather map before posting this lest it be snowing in Calgary/Alberta again, apparently it is lovely there as well - just cooler.

Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that's one of the reasons why I took Virginia. Of course, there's reciprocity with D.C., but also with a lot of other states where I might eventually wind up (Georgia and North Carolina, for example). Maryland may be an easier exam, but not as many states offer reciprocity for Maryland.

If I could just get the little one to sleep through the night again I'd be ecstatic. She's waking up at least half a dozen times a night. Sometimes she goes right back to sleep, sometimes we have to go in because she's crying "cover me up! Tuck me in!" and sometimes (like last night) there is a bad dream. I think part of the problem is her toddler bed; I think she's outgrown it and it's time to invest in a "big-girl bed".

Posted by: PLS | September 25, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

There was a copy of the book version of Herseys'"Hiroshima" in the bookcase. I was an Air Force brat during a period when senior officers were invariably World War II veterans, so the overall benefit of bombing Hiroshima seemed evident. The late Marius Jansen (Princeton professor) seems to have concurred. Notwithstanding that the loss of life and suffering in Hiroshima exceeded the toll from the destruction of much of Tokyo, the worst calamity in that city's history of misfortunes.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 25, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Why can't I post a comment on the story detailing Bush's bsssht comments to the UN regarding Myanmar?Two weeks ago we could all comment on every story...they pulled that opportunity and our voice.
I guess we are only allowed to put comments on stories and blogs that Wapo determines won't get any public attention.
I used to be a dedicated reader of the washington post and achenblog....but I won't be anymore. The voice of the citizen doesn't matter.

Posted by: me | September 25, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to be the lone Philistine in this BurnsFest. I already know how WWII ended. With a lot of people dead and us in charge of the world. I've seen The Good War on TV before. I watched a lot of *Combat* and *Rat Patrol* as a kid. I even read Sgt Rock on a regular basis. If I need a refresher course, the Hitler, er, History Channel is on 24/7.

I've been watching GeekTV. Sunday was the one-hour *Family Guy* Star Wars parody. Last night was the premieres of *Chuck* and *Heroes*. Tonight are one hour episodes of *My Name Is Earl* and *The Office*. Tomorrow night is the reimagined *Bionic Woman*. None of these shows have the soft-focus pretentiousness of PBS, but Ken Burns didn't get Emmy award winning Jaime Pressly to read some weepy letter a kid wrote to his mom just before he got hit by a mortar. I don't need that kind of downer between dinner and my dog's last walk of the evening.

I can save you all another 12 hours by noting that War Is Hell. Sorry for neglecting the spoiler alert.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 25, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I've read enough Fussell to dislike most war movies. One exception was the Soviet film "Come and See". I was much impressed by the restored version of "Apocalypse Now" but it's a very strange thing, indeed.

Oddly, one of more effective introductions I've read to the misfortunes of the 20th century was John Lukac's "Budapest 1900". The city was thriving at the time, seemingly much like America's midwestern cities.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 25, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Just catching up a bit...

In my mind, he's at a tiki bar, pointing each of us out, one at a time, doing color commentary, while everyone else laughs. Hard. (Besides, GWEs comment was on-kit.)

Loomis, welcome back. I'm sorry your trip has been delayed.

RD, you don't have to make grape jelly. There's always wine....

dmd, Dear Child (age 4) thinks it's a fluke that I'm in charge of her.

CP, glad to see you. Very glad.

Time to get back to the salt mine. Have a happy day.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 25, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if I'm really back yet, but I could use help or advice this morning, especially since my husband is away, although we have exchanged brief e-mails and I called him once.

I was rounding the corner of the couch this morning on my way to the kitchen and stepped in two wet spots on the carpet about six inches apart. My initial thought was that our sheltie had an akkident (as we call it--an extremely rare event) this morning.

But after daubbing up the wetness twice, I figure there is way too much moisture or water for a small bladder of a 12.-lb dog to hold. The carpet area affected is small, but after using lots of paper towels first and an old T-shirt rag second to absorb the water, there is still enough water--odorless and colorless--returning for it to be squishing somewhat between my toes.

My husband asked if I'd checked the ceiling for a leak. I did immediately after I'd initially noticed the spot and it was as dry as a bone.

We have one of those huge slab concrete foundations. My husband suggested I check the house's exterior foundation line for leaks, and I found nothing. I've called a plumbing company and they promise a serviceman out by the afternoon. I'm wondering if anyone has ever experienced this type of problem?

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, you've had an awful lot of rain of late. Do homes in TX have sump pumps? If so, pour a pitcher of water down it, see how long it takes to drain. (Warning: this could be an expensive problem.)

Posted by: LostInThought | September 25, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I've never passed a bar. I try to, but those bright neon lights on the outside and the promise of poor lighting and scritchy-scratchy 45's of Patsy Cline and INXS on the inside always seem to sucker me in.

CP... I'm with you on the "For some of us, we choose to move beyond the metaphor into a world of belief" train of thought. Otherwise, what's the point? If there's no magic or mystery left in life, if it can all be explained away by chemistry and such, kill me now -- the thrill is gone.

bc... the image of Error tooling around the Universe with Whoever's-In-Charge in a red convertible Shelby GT with white racing stripes... priceless.

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

LindoLoo: Sounds like you have developed a leak in a water line under the slab. If so, it is BIG problem. I hope its not the case, because that's big bucks to fix. Do you know where your water line comes in from the street and into the house? That would provide a clue.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 25, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Record-breaking rains throughout Texas earlier this year, but Sept. is getting only half of its normal rainfall in these parts. Waiting to see if the disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico turns into something--Lorenzo perhaps? Never heard of a sump pump or talk of such thing in the neighborhood. We're on city sewer.

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I know where the water comes in from the street. Where the water connections are, etc. I think I'm having one of those months?

A week ago Sunday, we swapped out TVs since the old one we couldn't turn on. We'd try and try and after tremendous effort, the TV would come on, so we think it's the switch and not the tube. We had a boxed one upstairs, a smaller one that my husband bought when he was living in an apartment and I was back in Floyds Knobs trying to sell the house. I was without a TV when my husband was in Philadelphia about 12 days ago. The 27-inch TV is in our entryway waiting to be taken to the repair shop, if the job isn't too expensive.

I must now run the washer through two spin cycles since the tub doesn't drain. Think these problems could be connected? I figured it was an old washer. I know that water coming up in the middle of the living room floor is NOT good news.

Remind me to tell you the story sometime of how water poured out of our kitchen skylight in Tracy like Yosemite Falls.

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I hate to say it but it does sound like a leak somewhere under the slab. While the non-draining washer could be connected, the odorless and colorless character of the leaking water suggests good old plain H20. Considering the pipes that could be leaking, that's not bad.

With the combination of heavy rain and dry weather, you might be getting some shifting under the house or near its edges which affects the pipes.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Loomis... if you have a tub that won't drain and water showing up elsewhere, this does not bode well. Sounds to me like you either have a plugged (as in reasonably easily cleared) drain pipe, or a broken one (as in expensive, since it's under the slab).

You don't happen to have radiant heat, do you (as in hot water lines embedded in the slab)?

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, PLS and LindaLoo! *waving*

LL: I would agree with eb's diagnosis of a broken pipe water pipe in the slab. If you're fortunate enough to have a copy of teh mechanical blueprints for the house it might be easies to trace the problem. It's not your waste line.

Posted by: jack | September 25, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

me, it looks as if they've moved the comment box to the right-hand column next to the story. No comments there as of yet, so apparently you weren't the only one who couldn't find it.

Loomis, are the spots in direct line with a window edge? I had problems like that, it was the windows leaking. For one of them, the rain had to hit it a certain way to form the puddle. Good luck with this.

Posted by: dbG | September 25, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I find the fact that the electro chemical processes occuring in a my lump of meat can generate consiousness, or what some insist on calling a soul, facsinating. There's enough real mystery in life without concocting it.
Imagining someone doing something they loved after death does not comfort me. It cheapens the reality of a good life lived.

Posted by: Boko999 | September 25, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I think it was Carl Sagan that said something to the effect of (pardon if I get it wrong) "the poet says that studying the stars unromanticizes them, but I say it makes them even more remarkable." I'm the same way when it comes to life in general. It still amazes me how everything you do on the computer is the result of tiny switches turning on and off, and thinking about how the brain does even better than that just blows my mind.

-- A Long Time Reader

Posted by: Lurker Jason | September 25, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Boko... a reasonable point and I respect your opinion.

However, hope and/or belief in an afterlife does not cheapen the one we're living. Just ask any 6-year old kid dying of whatever. Or the 80-year old actually facing the inevitability of death and not just the future prospect of it.

If you want to be a heartless bastard and want to tell a dying kid there ain't nothing left after this, go for it.

After the parents are done ripping you to shreds, we'll scrape what's left of you off the walls and dump you in the trash as you will no longer exist and there would be no logical reason to give your expired shell a more decent burial than a lifeless, soulless can of Spam.

Atheists have no more justification for their absolute non-belief than "believers" do for their absolute belief in Whatever or Whoever they believe in. Atheists just like to think they're smarter and more fashionable.

As an agnostic, I say "give the afterlife a chance" because there isn't a person alive who can possibly claim to absolutely know there isn't one. Anyone who does (either way) is as full of crap as they are of themselves.

Just my $0.02.



Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Lurker Jason.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 25, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Lurker Jason, (hi!)

Your comment reminded me of this interview I was watching this weekend--George Johnson and Bob Wright discussing quantum physics, quantum computing, and the nature of consciousness. You might like it.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 25, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to say thank you for your advice about the question of 30 or 40 amp cicuit breakers and burning down a house.

I made a long post about lamb, when you were cooking it with ginger, and the post disappeared into the netherworld. At that time, I thanked you.

Long story short: A-1 Reliable air conditioning service, whom my husband phoned, was anything but. We called Wright, my trusted company, and got the Wright service (pun intended). A-1 did no diagnostics (which frosted my husband no end, to the point that we got half the service fee refunded).

Wright poked around and poked around only to discover that on one of the air conditioners--the less older one--that the hard-start box had never been wired properly, or wired at all, IIRC. Mr. Wright, the company's owner, said this oversight didn't hurt us, but never helped us either. Once the hard-start box was wired into the unit, Loomispouse put the 30 amps circuit breaker back in pronto, thanks to your advice.

The other air conditioner had a very slow freon leak, so once we had freon put back in, we were in business.

So, did we avoid a possible house fire because of you, martooni? Perhaps.

Posted by: Loomis | September 25, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Cheapens was a bad choice of word. Distracts would be better.

Everyone is free to indulge their fantasys as much as they like.
I didn't say a peep until people started jumping on LTL.
You have an interesting take on the function of, as you put it, a decent burial.
I take comfort from the memories I have of a person.

Posted by: Boko999 | September 25, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Loomis... we may butt heads occasionally, but when it comes to safety (especially in the "burning down the house" sense), I'm more than happy to offer my $0.02 of home-maintenance/preservation advice. When you said "40 amps", alarm bells went off.

Glad the "Wright" guys tracked the problem down and fixed it. I had to laugh at the "A-1 Reliable" reference... there are quite a few "A-1's" around here (and I'm sure elsewhere) who are anything but.

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Boko... "distracts" does make it sound better, but still... isn't aspirin just a way to distract one from the pain of a headache? It doesn't actually do anything to fix brain tumors or objects embedded in the forehead, but it does make you feel a little better. Big holes in that metaphor, but I think you know what I'm trying to say.

Seriously, I spend a considerable amount of brain power on the whole is/isn't there an "afterlife" and/or "higher power" questions. In fact, that happens to be one of the "conundrums" that drives me to and from the rehabs and psych wards. I envy those on either side of the aisle who are able to believe or not believe without doubt. At the same time, I find it hard to believe that anyone can possibly know absolutely one way or the other -- either path requires a "willful suspension" of belief/disbelief. In other words, a "leap of faith" is required whether you decide to have faith or not.

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

So, how about this sample interaction when people differ in a reaction to event D.

Percy: When someone dies, I like to think of them as surfing in that big ocean up there.

Penelope: Me too; and permit my belief, not my knowledge, that the big ocean is real and the Kahuna is really cool.

Phineas: That is interesting that you feel that way. I don't like to imagine them surfing in yonder ocean. Instead, I like to remember them surfing in Hilo, HA, which they often did.

I'm Ok; you're Ok.

Take points off, Penelope, if you try to insist that you must believe in the big Kahuna or you will surf in very hot water and never hang ten.

Take points off, Phineas, if you try to tell Percy to stop imagining. Points off, too (same number) if you tell Penelope that she is wrong.

Boko: I am sad. You are too. I am sorry that we and others here are sad. EF made this place more boodle-y. Let's go watch classic movies.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Cowabunga, CP. Thank you.

Posted by: dbG | September 25, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I like "distracts" because it avoids a value judgement. It could be for good or ill.
I don't know if there is an afterlife anymore that I can prove there is no god. I just think they're so unlikely as to be non-existent. I'm a technical agnostic and a functional atheist.

I have neither the inclination nor energy for this discussion today. I'm preparing to meet family. *shudder*

Posted by: Boko999 | September 25, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

More stuff about consciousness.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 25, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Lurker Jason,
Sagan is a hero of mine (was, is better verb, I guess :) ).

Study the stars! Here here!
Capture the stars in art. Huzzah!

Let's do both.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes, CP, let us watch classic movies together, eat good food, and quaff refreshing beverages.

Then we can go blow up some groundhogs.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Except points should also be taken off if Penelope and Percy tell Phineas he is wrong.

Posted by: dbG | September 25, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

RD - I'm with Prof. Gutkind. Not comforting, not comforting at all.

My advice to you all is not to take any meds from a nurse bot. If an MD bot shows up in your hospital room, I'd throw my pitcher of water on the dang thing.

Posted by: Kim | September 25, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

DBG, thanks for the revision! Yes. Yes. Pe and Po should let Ph be, too.

Ivansman, quaff is such an excellent word. And we shall all be sporting such excellent coifs, as well, sipping as we will.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 25, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The other day I asked if anyone could help me figure out the mysterious noise coming from one of our trees. Well turns out it isn't just my tree.

It is loud and sounds almost link and engine that won't turnover. It lasts all night.


Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

CP... very true.

I'm actually surprised at how EF's "moving on" has affected me. I mean, I never met him (we did exchange emails on occasion, not to mention the back-and-forth banter here), and it's not like we were "best buds" or anything. Accidental acquaintances is more like it.

I wouldn't have known Error/Bob if he had walked up to me on the street and punched me in the nose. Yet I considered him a friend and now mourn his passing. I'm not wearing black or fasting or anything that drastic, but the sense of loss is still there and surprisingly real, considering the circumstances.

Maybe this comes back to the "consciousness" thing in a round-about way. Our minds are able to project/overlay/relate/deduce/invent almost too well. All those little elves (or electro-chemical reactions) are extremely busy little buggers, seemingly intent on skewing the Universe so that it seems to emanate from us (or revolve around us) as individuals. As hard as I try to step aside or run screaming into the hills, I'm still at the center of *my* Universe. It's impossible to leave it.

Those little elves/braincells also seem to be very adept at turning molehills into mountains. You wouldn't normally expect a long-haired leaping gnome in Ohio to be upset over the death of a guy he never met from New Jersey, but there you have it.

I'm reminded of something a comedian said way back in the day on Rodney Dangerfield's "Young Comedians" show...

"... So give to UNICEF. Because the mind is a terrible thing."

[done rambling... sorry]

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Just spoke with TBG and bc, who have cleverly avoided being trapped on I-95, and have crossed into NJ. They're finding a new route here on a *map* (this is so much more organized than I am. A map in a car? Not me.) and should reach here soon because bc is driving. Fast. :-)

Maybe I'll go sweep those floors.

Posted by: dbG | September 25, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Belated congrats, Scotty, on your most excellent news.

So sad to hear about your sweet Bo, Yoki.

Safe continued journey wishes to TBG and bc.

And the same to Error. Farewell, sir. It was a privilege to have known you, even in the cyber-sense.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 25, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

What's the problem with I-95, dbG? Backed up? I'd have taken 475 and gone up that way (through my old stompin' grounds).

You gonna take 'em to Jim's Steaks on Bustletion near Cottman?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 25, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and speaking of the mysteries of the human mind, there is this piece of disturbing evidence:

I'm thinking lobotomy, though I can't tell if one is needed, or one has already been performed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 25, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Based on your description, dmd, you may have what we call generically and inaccurately "tree frogs". Sometimes they are tree frogs, sometimes cicadas or katydids. Most of the summer they can be heard in our house over the air conditioning.

Martooni, nicely put.

Curmudgeon, no lobotomy needed. That letter was written by a DarthBot, a little-known offshoot of the same research programs to which RD referred us. DarthBots are moving throughout gummint to protect us every day.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I think a lobotomy implies that there must be (or have been) a brain present. That was just brainless. So either the lobotomy has been performed, or there's nothing there to lobotomize.

The thing is though, if you had John Stewart or Stephen Colbert read it, it would be a great piece of satire. Oh, the irony.

Posted by: martooni | September 25, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, Data said it best.

-- Troi, to Riker, re: Data's definition of friendship:

"How did he put it... something like... [impression of Data] As I experience certain sensory input patterns my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated and even 'missed' when absent."

...And what did Data tell a little girl once?

"Father said she went to a beautiful place, where everything is peaceful, and everyone loves each other, and no one ever gets sick. Do you think there's really a place like that?" -- Gia

"Yes... I do" -- Data (Thine Own Self)

And that tailor, tinker, and spy Garak:
"The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination."

And for all you grumpies today:
-- Bashir's response to Sisko's "keep them happy" (The Forsaken)

"Nothing makes them happy! They are dedicated to being unhappy, and to spreading that unhappiness to others! They are the Ambassadors of Unhappy!"

Good Tuesday to y'all!

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 25, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Ivansmom, I listened to the recordings on the U of Florida site and it sure sounds like katydids. We are on the very edge to just off the northern edge of their territory, so they are not well known here, I have heard cicadas (sp) all my life by not kaydids. Everyone in the neighbourhood keeps walking by my tree in the evenings trying to figure out what the noise is and where it is coming from.

Martooni as I was reading that letter I kept waiting for a sign that the writer was being sarcastic.

Posted by: dmd | September 25, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, there's the hope that the letter is a fake. Lazlo Toth got away with similar antics for years.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 25, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse


I am impressed by your comprehensive ST trivia capability. The Voyager episodes where The Doctor and Seven Of Nine try to learn dating rituals are also hilarious.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 25, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

New kit, just this minute.

Posted by: nellie | September 25, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I've never gotten to say this before.

New kit!

Posted by: Kim | September 25, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

There is always the possibility that the noise is being made by aliens, dmd. Or gummit robots. Tiny black helicopters.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 25, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank the internet, not me, although I remembered that Data quote and looked it up-- and spotted a few other goodies ;).

I liked those dating episodes too.

Seven of Nine never did quite say to that poor guy: "You are going out with me. Resistance is futile." But she came close.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 25, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

For Error-

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

-Emily Dickinson

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