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Sputnik and the Space Age [Annotated]

[My article in the Post today. This is my first piece for the National Desk. Annotations (material not in print version) are in brackets and/or italics.]

News flash, Oct. 4, 1957: The Russians have launched a tiny moon. It is an artificial satellite, 184 pounds, a pumpkin-size sphere polished to a shine. The Russians call it Sputnik. As it passes over the United States it transmits a signal -- surely the most ominous beep-beep-beep that any American has ever heard.

"The communists were going to rule," recalled Homer Hickam, who was 14 when he saw Sputnik in the sky above his home town of Coalwood, W.Va., and who would go on to become a spacecraft designer. "And the proof of this was this shiny little bauble that flew around the world every 90 minutes."

Rocket engineer Julian Davidson, dismayed at being beaten into space, remembers a radio commercial that night -- an ad for a new Gillette razor. "The Russians just launched a satellite," he said, "and I'm listening to an ad for a great technology the Americans had for making razor blades."

Sputnik and its aftermath are a familiar tale at this point -- the story of a fat and happy superpower suddenly finding itself in a full-blown existential crisis but shaking free of its torpor, revamping science and math education, and winning the race to the moon.

Fifty years later, however, the standard narrative of disaster, recovery and triumph [historian Roger Launius told me, "It's a long-standing trope in American history. It's kind of your basic morality play. And almost all of our major stories in American history are built around that kind of concept"] is being overhauled by historians. They're more likely to speak of Sputnik's impact as a shock to the system that incited political maneuverings and media misinformation. Much that seemed certain in October 1957 turned out to be misunderstood or purely illusory.

Humans have not set up space colonies or left boot prints on Mars, as widely predicted, but we have launched a stunning number of new Sputniks -- thousands of satellites for communications, navigation and surveillance that have changed everything from how we fight wars to how our rental cars guide us to our hotels.

One result of Sputnik had nothing to do with space. It was the creation of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a technology think tank that went on to develop a computer network called Arpanet. Arpanet evolved into the Internet.

"The great irony is that what we actually saw in space, what we actually accomplished in space, was strikingly different but ultimately more significant than what was anticipated," said Roger Launius, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum.

More broadly, the Space Age, so famously inaugurated by Sputnik, has taken on new shadings in recent years. The "conquest of space" has never played out according to script: Sputnik signaled the moment when humankind escaped the gravity well of the planet, but rather than propelling us to the stars, space technology keeps turning back toward terrestrial needs and desires.

"Is spaceflight about leaving this planet," asks Launius, "or is spaceflight about making this planet more humane and a better place for humans to reside?"


The Soviets' Surprise


In 1957 anyone who read popular culture knew of the coming age of space travel. Space buffs had devoured a series of articles in Collier's magazine written by Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi scientist who had been invited to come to the United States to work on rockets. Von Braun envisioned space colonies, moon missions and astronauts on Mars. [Von Braun's career was marked by brilliance and controversy. No one doubted his genius, but they questioned his humanity. The man who would play a key role in putting us on the moon had been an SS officer and had witnessed slave laborers making V-2 components at the Nazi labor camp Mittelwerk. See more here and here.] [And don't forget the Tom Lehrer song.]

Americans presumed that the space era would begin with the launch of Vanguard, a small U.S. satellite, as part of a global scientific program called the International Geophysical Year. The Soviets announced their own intentions to put up a satellite, but few people gave the claim any credence.

The big event scheduled in the United States for Friday night, Oct. 4, was the premiere of a CBS television series, "Leave It to Beaver."

Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, had taken his son Sergei, then a 22-year-old engineering student, to a meeting of Ukrainian officials in Kiev. It was nearing midnight, Sergei Khrushchev recalled, when an aide summoned his father to the phone. He soon returned, smiling broadly, and announced the launch of Sputnik. But the Ukrainians wanted only to talk about local matters, such as funding for a new electrical station.

Not everyone was surprised that Sputnik Night. Ernst Stuhlinger, a rocket scientist, now 93, had followed von Braun to the United States along with 116 other German scientists. On Sept. 27, 1957, Stuhlinger warned Army Gen. John Medaris, head of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Ala., that the Soviets were on the

verge of launching a satellite. Medaris told him the Soviets weren't yet capable.

Stuhlinger remembers being in a taxi in Barcelona when the Sputnik bulletin came over the radio. "I told you so," he said to himself.

Sputnik made the popular President Dwight D. Eisenhower suddenly appear out of touch, almost semi-retired. Paul Dickson's "Sputnik: The Shock of the Century" reports that Eisenhower played golf five times during the week of Sputnik's launch.

But Eisenhower had his own geopolitical calculations that the public knew nothing about. He wanted to avoid the militarization of space and insisted that the first American satellite would use a nonmilitary rocket. He knew that the United States would soon have spy satellites for observing the Soviets.

[William Ewald, one of Ike's speechwriters, told me, "We also had in our back pocket, which we did not mention at the time, the reconaissance satellite, which came on stream in the last months of Eisenhower's administration. This was not known publically at all. The attitude within the administration was that the Russians, by going into outer space, by putting up a satellite, had done the United States a great service...By going first, the Russians couldn't complain when the United States went into outer space and started taking these very detailed photographs of the Earth which were far beyond their capability."]

What he didn't anticipate was the public relations disaster that the "Red moon" would become for him. Even the Soviets underplayed the achievement initially. Their 15-paragraph announcement was matter-of-fact, except for the concluding sentence:

"Artificial earth satellites will pave the way for space travel and it seems that the present generation will witness how the freed and conscious labor of the people of the new socialist society turns even the most daring of man's dreams into reality."

In the U.S., Awe and Fear


Sputnik's polished aluminum exterior made it visible from the ground after dusk and before dawn as the satellite reflected the sun's rays. Many Americans lacked any understanding of the Newtonian mechanics of orbiting objects. They wondered why Sputnik didn't fall to the ground.

The political and media riot lasted for months. People suspected that Sputnik was spying on the United States. Was the beep-beep-beep a secret code? Pundits decried the softness of an American society that cared more about the size of automobile tail fins than the long struggle against the communists. Democrats in Congress saw political opportunity, and aerospace corporations envisioned new profits. Lyndon B. Johnson, the Senate majority leader, warned that the Soviets would soon build space platforms and drop bombs on America "like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses." Sen. Mike Mansfield declared, "What is at stake is nothing less than our survival."

A month after Sputnik I came Sputnik II, with a massive payload of more than 1,000 pounds and containing an ill-fated dog named Laika. "Soviets Orbit Second Artificial Moon; Communist Dog in Space," read one headline. A Life magazine column ran under the banner "Arguing the Case for Being Panicky."


The United States tried to launch its own satellite, Vanguard, but as the nation watched on live television, the rocket rose just four feet and exploded. [Here's the YouTube video of the launch failure: Definitely worth the time.] Johnson called it "one of the best publicized -- and most humiliating -- failures in our history."

Many Americans literally went to ground, building bomb shelters. "The public relations impact of Sputnik in October of '57 never faded away until the election of 1960," said William Ewald, who was one of Eisenhower's speechwriters. "Everyone's speeches -- 'The Russians are coming, they're 10 feet tall, they're 12 feet tall, they're ahead of us in outer space.' People were talking about the missile gap, which did not exist."

Today we know that the United States wasn't behind the Soviet Union technologically. One reason the Soviet Union had bigger rockets was that, unlike the United States, it didn't have the technology to miniaturize the nuclear weapons that intercontinental missiles would deliver.

A new book on Sputnik, "Red Moon Rising" by Matthew Brzezinski, reports that the Soviets were desperately afraid that the United States would launch a preemptive nuclear attack. The satellite Sputnik was never as important as the R-7 rocket that delivered it -- and that served notice that the Soviets potentially could strike America with intercontinental missiles.

"Sputnik was never about space or the satellite. It was always about the missile, the rocket it rode on," Brzezinski said in an interview.

[Let's note that, to this day, America's civilian space program is smaller than its military space program. There is ongoing debate about whether the United States should militarize space, to be prepared to defend our satellites against disabling attacks. The tensions of the Sputnik era are less overt today, but they haven't disappeared.]

The Legacy of the Space Age

In 1957 many basic features of space were unknown. No one knew if Venus or Mars or any other planets in the solar system were habitable. Textbooks still taught that the shifting surface characteristics of Mars, observed through telescopes, might be the seasonal fluctuations of vegetation. Robotic probes eventually showed that they are caused by dust storms.

Half a century ago, no one could have predicted the boom-and-bust nature of human spaceflight. But now the Apollo triumph looks in retrospect like a heroic Cold War stunt. "Beating the Russians was everything. Going into space was almost secondary," said Hickam, author of the book "Rocket Boys," which was adapted for the movie "October Sky."

No human beings have gone beyond low Earth orbit since 1972. The international space station, a version of which was envisioned as long ago as the early 1950s, has yet to be completed.

There are bold plans at NASA for a return to the moon near the end of the next decade, about the time of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. But the space agency will have to achieve this feat on a tight budget, using spacecraft architecture that resembles that of Apollo. [NASA's new moon program is built around a transportation system called Constellation, and it looks a lot like the Apollo program in its architecture. The Ares I rocket will carry the "Orion" crew exploration vehicle to the ISS. The Ares V rocket, with strap-on solid rocket boosters, will carry astronauts to the moon.] Much of the glory of post-Apollo spaceflight has belonged to unmanned probes and orbiting telescopes.

Perhaps satellites have been the real story of spaceflight all along.

"I thought eventually we'd have a few satellites in orbit, but not hundreds," said Konrad Dannenberg, 95, another of the German scientists on the von Braun team. [Dannenberg doesn't date the origin of the Space Age to Sputnik: "When we finally launched the V-2, that's for me when the Space Age really started.... the first successful V-2 went into outer space....The V-2 was made a weapon because the army put a military payload on a means of transportation. A rocket is really not a weapon system. It's a means of transportation."]

About 6,600 satellites of one kind or another have been launched since Sputnik, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He said 850 to 920 are in active operation, and of those, 568 are for communications. [For those of you who crave these numbers broken down further: McDowell writes by email, "Of the 920, there are 568 communications, 69 navigation, 95 visible imaging (including 25 weather, 50 mostly civilian high res imaging, 20 mostly military) 55 other surveillance (radar imaging, infrared missile warning, radio signals intelligence), 23 astronomy, 60 other science, 39 technology development, 11 space station modules and related spacecraft."]


Sergei Khrushchev, now a senior fellow at Brown University, cites the proliferation of satellites when he speaks of the historical significance of Sputnik Night:

"It is the beginning," he says, "of the new world."

On the 50th anniversary of the Space Age, few people use the term "Space Age" anymore. It's the Information Age now, and the era of globalization. Space technology has played a key role in the creation of a highly networked, accelerated, communications-saturated civilization.

People who have grown up in the age of satellites may find them no more remarkable than streetlights or storm sewers. They're infrastructure.

Sputnik plus the Internet equals Google Maps. Click on "Satellite," zoom in, and you can see your house from space.


--

More on Sputnik anniversary from James Oberg, via NasaWatch. See also the Associated Press story.

Here's a link to my longer piece for the Post magazine a couple of years ago, looking at the new NASA plan to return to the moon.


By Joel Achenbach  |  October 2, 2007; 7:35 AM ET
 
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Next: Remembering Downtown Los Angeles 1995

Comments

First?

Posted by: dbG | October 2, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Joel, this is an excellent, excellent article. I really like your clear explanation of how Ike deliberately et the Soviets go first so as to validate "Open Skies."

From what I have read Warner Von Braun was just havin' kittens over the administration's refusal to let him put American steel up there first. I've come to the conclusion that Ike was way smarter than many people give him credit for.

And as I have posted before, I really do believe that for the foreseeable future space exploration is best done with machines. I am of the distinctly unpopular position that blasting our fleshy bits into the void is not the best way to advance either science or, in the long run, our destiny.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Also, it is an ironic fact among the satellite folk that the biggest challenge today isn't getting stuff into orbit. The true challenge is getting stuff out of orbit.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Google Earth is insanely fun, but man, you oughta see the good stuff.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I heard a portion of the broadcast yesterday and AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN, much of the focus was on Spoootnick ultimately brought about the end of the Soviet Block because of the "arms race."

I would suggest that ultimately, the collapse came about because the USSR spent decades screwing over the suffering buffer nations through economic taxation. I would contend that ultimately, it was a failure of an emperial state.

Even Niki's son balked at the concept indirectly. It may be hard to believe, but way back then, the USA would spend Trillions fighting the perceived threat.

Too bad, there is no current application for this object lesson.

As an afterthought, what would happen in this nation, if, for one year, we all went to school and all youth and young adults could go to school for free? What would happen if a nation over-educated itself?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 2, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I don't know how to blog... I forgot the penultimate sentence suggesting that if we did something today as crazy as spending our national wealth on a "koo-koo for cocoapuffs" idea as ... semd everyone to school at no cost.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 2, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Although I don't know how well this revamping of math and science education worked in general, I can attest that Sputnik directly led to the 1958 founding of a real whiz-bang private science college in southern California.

Although it has been known to have questionable admissions policies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

*semi-ballistic arc of yellow*

FWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!

15-post unsportsmanlike conduct foul on RDP for taunting! The penalty will be assessed on the following Kit.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Everybody in Huntsville older than a certain age, it seems, has stories about Wernher von Braun. My mother's coworker was riding her bicycle -- maybe coming home from elementary school -- and stopped at an intersection. Von Braun drove along the cross street, waved and said hello.

My father's old boss at the Huntsville Times, Bob Ward, knew Von Braun and wrote a biography, **Dr. Space**.

(When the Germans first arrived in Huntsville, they were astonished by how green the landscape was. Upon further reflection, rolling hills covered with vegetation can only go so far; Maria von Braun demanded that her husband take her to New York two weeks out of the year for a dose of culture.)

Playing the degrees-of-separation game is rather spooky.

Posted by: Blake Stacey | October 2, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

SCC: for taunting in his 8:05

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning,friends. Wonderful kit, JA. Now if I can just stay on topic. Space exploration would be kind of nice if scientists and reseachers could stay on topic, but they ususally end up doing something else with the information they gather from these studies. Like your article alludes to with the Russians. They more interested in the rocket that carried the space vehicle, and that for purposes of war. I think those that gather this information see it as a future in defense, and literally zapping their enemy, all through technology derived from space. And of course, let us not leave out greed. There is money to be made with this wonderful science. What better way to get sidetracked then by getting rich? If the science was used strictly for space exploration, that would be great, but there is always going to be another potential there, and there will those that will take advantage of such an opportunity. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it does need to be watched closely or else we might end up sending our neighbor into space just because his dog did you know what on somebody's lawn. Yeah, I know we have the hardware to do that now, but you know how people love new stuff.

Thanks every one for the kind words. Still trying to get the details of what happened.

Have a great day, friends. It is cloudy here, maybe some rain is in the picture. It would be nice. We are parched.

Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, and all.*waving*

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 2, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

ScottyNuke, I really didn't mean to taunt, but heck, this job has to have some fringe benefits.

BTW you really should check your roof tiles. Some of them look a little loose.

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


50 Years Ago, Launch of a New World

By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page A01

This is a historic day. Congratulations, Joel, you are "A-1" in more ways than one.

You're like Homer Hickam, except instead of Sputnik you were watching the Watergate Hearings. And now, here you are.

(*tosses confetti, hands around the non-alcoholic champagne to the early risers in the boodle bunker*)

Posted by: kbertocci | October 2, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Before I get myself in trouble I should stress that before any happy snaps of domestic territory can occur, a phalanx of lawyers and Congress must get involved. So you 'merican ladies are free to sunbathe naked all you want without fear.

Now you Canadians..

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Indeed kbertocci. Joel deserves huzzahs all around.

Posted by: RD Padouk. | October 2, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm sorry to hear of your loss, and I'm keeping thoughts of your associate pastor's family close to my heart today.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Outstanding article, Joel. We might benefit further by drawing in some new Boodlers.

RD, you are in fine form this morning. I'm giggling.

If I sunbathed naked, satellite surveillance programs would be shut down pretty darn quick. The horror!

Cassandra, so very sorry to hear the news of the young man's death. I don't really understand why communities cannot get a handle on the violence. We need to form squads of grannies to bring this thing to a halt.

Have a good day everyone. Nose back to the grindstone.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

RDP, I understand my late night skinny dipping has to stop?
For your taunting penalty you have to go and slap somebody at the TSA. I thought the so-called 3-1-1- regulations were about the size of the containers for liquid that passengers may bring onboard. I discovered recently it's about the size of the plastic bag. Bags smaller than a quart are trerrist bags and bags larger than a quart are clearly weapons of mass destruction. Only the all-american quart-size bag is safe to bring onboard. Someone out there needs a reality check.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 2, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I am happy to see Joel 'heading straight down A-1,' to paraphrase Neil Armstrong.

This should be a good day in the Kit, there's a lot of smart people with widely differing opinions on the topics space exploration and exploitation.

I'm glad Joel touched on the idea (and yes, I need to read Brzezinski's book) that rocket booster and payload technology was the big difference between the Soviet and American programs; the Soviets leveraging their military, the American resistance to use of military hardware for NASA (though they did have to relent for a time to put Glenn and the Mercury astronauts into orbit, and for the Gemini program which used adapted Atlas and Titan ICBM boosters, respectively).

NASA booster and vehicle development continued with the Saturn series and obviously the space shuttle, which for whatever reasons became more technologically advanced and more complex, but also more expensive to operate. The Soviets and Russians continue to use evolutions of their mid-60's era military hardware for manned flights, and are the main provider of taxi service to and from the ISS. I think of it the aeronautical equivalent of a classic Checker Marathon cab; basic, sturdy, reliable, easy to fix, and inexpensive.

The American shuttle continues to be the workhorse of the large payloads for delivery to the ISS, while the Soviet/Russian programs abandoned their large booster programs for their manned lunar program (the N-1s - which were more powerful than the Saturn Vs - all 4 of which blew up or were destroyed in flight) and their shuttle knockoff (but not equivalent), Buran.

More later.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

SCC: please add "of" to the second sentence.

I'm sure I've made more mistakes, but I'm going to take the Road to Denial.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

bc;

Don't forget the left turn at Albuquerque.

:-)

And didn't I read somewhere that the Buran the Soviets displayed was essentially a hollow shell?

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm a little surprised that no one mentions the Ares program (the super-Apollo) and the programs to go back to the Moon and onto Mars in relation to the Chinese space program, which appears intent on putting Taikonauts (sp?) on the moon in the next decade or so.

Could another Space Race be brewing, or are we as Americans too mature to compete in such matters? It's not like the folks in the White House aren't above being mature enough to admit when they're wrong about something and taking immediate actions to address them.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, with your background, you'd know the details of the 80's era Buran better than I, my friend.

If it was just a mockup, then the program was abandoned pretty darn early. When's James Oberg going to drop in to the Boodle, anyway?

For some reason, I keep hearing A Flock of Seagulls singing, "Buran, Buran so far away..."

Hey, maybe it *is* '80s week around here...

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I read Eugene Robinson's opinion piece this morning concerning Clarence Thomas. I did not see the 60 Minutes piece, but I don't think even Clarence Thomas can change my mind about Clarence Thomas, so that pretty much leaves every one else out. I've never considered affirmative action as a put down for African-Americans. I've always viewed it as a door opener. Once in the door, sucess or failure is totally up to the individual. I don't think affirmative action discounts hard work no matter the job. And I see it as a first step in integrating African-Americans in to so many institutions and employments that we have been denied because of our history in this country. If I am a bright, hard working individual, determined to succeed, affirmative action isn't going to change that or make it less. The opposite side of the coin exists as well.

Clarence Thomas is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. He took advantage of this plan, but now wants to shut the door for others. He's delusional if he thinks the playing field is even, because it isn't. Everyday we read somewhere in this country that racism is alive and well. Does he not look at the same news that I look at? Does he think it only applies to the stuff on television? It is insidious and nasty. It's a disease of the worse kind. It eats away at everything we call good in this country, and will continue to do that until we get a new thinking and a new doing. Notice I used the word "we", and I include myself in that word. It impacts us all, it really does.

I don't apologize for the rant, but do apologize for getting off topic.

You may continue...........

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 2, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Two retellings of Jerry Pournelle stories:

The American semiconductor industry was born out of the necessity to have very small controllers on ICBMs in order to have the accuracy necessary for effective destruction of targets. You can thank our missile defense for computers.

The bag must be exactly one quart. Jerry had stuff in a bag too small and the inspector helpfully transfered it to a bigger bag. His moral: The TSA is training us to completely obey random and ludicrous orders so that we are more docile when the time comes.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Good job, Joel. It was fun to read also knowing that your research took you off on fun tangents like "Look at these cool 50-year-old headlines. I see a Kit here!"

When I find old newspapers and magazines, I have a grand time looking at the ads. Ladies' stays and corsets; entire living room sets for $24.95, houses for $7,500, etc. (But TV prices have never changed. Just the TVs have changed--and what you can watch on them.)

I used to wonder about the technological superiority of a county that insisted on using brocade as a backdrop for TV speeches. I mean anyone who can't see what that looks like on video isn't really going to beat us in an advanced-weapons race, are they?

Posted by: TBG | October 2, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Add "personal" in front of "computers". We had plenty of computers before then, just none that would fit in an ICBM nosecone.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Buran did have one flight. They may have shown a fake in public, but there was at least one functional Buran. Flown entirely robotically, purely to show that they could fly it "if they wanted to", so no life-support issues in flight. It probably had no life-support systems installed, which certainly would have decreased weight and made it more workable.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Forgot, thanks Wilbrod for the links concerning the chairs.

Time to hit the shower and get dressed. Have a good one, my friends.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 2, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra.. good rant, if you ask me. I think our current president is a fine example of the opposite side of the coin of affirmative action: those who get a foot in the door despite *not* being "a bright, hard working individual, determined to succeed."

I also want to express my sorrow at your news last night of the boy in your community. I hope your church and community can heal over this and use it as a catalyst to work to some good end.

You are certainly doing your part with the kids at the center to make sure there are plenty of those "bright, hard working individuals, determined to succeed" coming out of your town. We're proud of you and proud to call you our friend.

Posted by: TBG | October 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Yello, I am confused it they determine the items are "safe" to bring on the plane what difference does the container size make. An even better question why does that stuff drive me crazy :-).

Posted by: dmd | October 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"Jerry had stuff in a bag too small and the inspector helpfully transfered it to a bigger bag."

They didn't do that for me. I had a forgotten small bottle of nail polish in my purse and instead of letting me put it in my baggie, they insisted on taking it from me, even though on the other side of the scanners there were boxes of baggies for items you remembered you had before going through the scanner. It was less than .5 oz. It had to be a strictly punitive action.

Posted by: TBG | October 2, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

My main problem with manned space flight is that I don't get to do it. Even if I had the millions to purchase a private flight, I suspect that medical issues would preclude my participation. Dang.

I recognize the superiority of robotic exploration in the pure "scientific bang for the buck" department. How could I not? In the long run, it is efficient to further science by taking the time to design and build a robot to gradually grind its way into a rock on the surface of Mars and examine it in microscopic detail. It is only in the short run that it is satisfying for an astronaut directly to pick up a hammer and smack that rock into pieces in order to examine its interior. However, our lives are lived in the short run, so a short-run approach is not intrinsically bad, if it will work.

Astronauts are likely to die in the manned exploration of space. You know what, though? They will die anyway, sometime. We all will. I'm not advocating stupidity, throwing away lives willy-nilly. Perhaps a bit less caution and a bit more risk, though, and we'll be more fully alive as people and as a society. In the long run, as Mr. Keynes said, we are all dead. For whom are we doing this space exploration, if not for ourselves?

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I was reading an article in another source the other day noting the anniversary of Sputnik. FWIW, they noted that the Sputnik itself was not visible from the ground with the naked eye. What we did in fact see was the spent second stage of the rocket that inserted the satellite in orbit, and remained in proximity to it. The article did support the thesis that the Soviets had to developed larger rockets becuase their warheads were bigger than ours. The reason the rocket became available for the Sputnik launch was because of technical design problems with the warhead design, which delayed that phase of the project.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 2, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

dmd and TBG,
That is exactly the point. It is purely arbitrary and punitive. It's all about conditioning people to authority, not protection from an imaginary threat. A nation of sheep.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

1957: An enemy launches a rocket and we embark on a crash education program.

2001: An enemy crashes planes into buildings and we start confiscating eyebrow tweezers.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/us/politics/02obama.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1191337316-jr4upMh13R5FBs49VM5QDA

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Beware the black sheep. Baa-Baa.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.

One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Von Braun and six degrees of separation, I went to high school with his niece who, I later learned, went missing. Whether she ever turned up, I never knew.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 2, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The original 1970's TV series is available on DVD

I can remember summer nights in the late 70's staying up all night watching marathons of 'Baa Baa Black Sheep', 'The Wild Wild West' and 'The Rat Patrol'.

Ah yes, the good ole days.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm for getting rid of nuclear weapons, but I'll bet it never happens. How can we determine that no one has them?

Posted by: Slyness | October 2, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

omni,
That's a pretty bad Robert Conrad fixation. Let me knock that battery off your shoulder.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Tim, now that you mention it, I do remember a short unmanned Buran flight system test back in the early 90's.

An interesting difference IIRC was that even though the Buran 'stack' looked a lot like the American version, the Buran orbiter itself was unpowered at liftoff, with thrust coming from the strap-on (ahem) boosters and the liquid fuel engines which were on the bottom of the big fuel tank. The American Shuttle stack does not have thrust at the bottom of the fuel tank, FWIW. Either way, that's got to be a real headache from an aeronautical engineer's perspective. Well, that's why they call 'em rocket scientists, right?

Tim, as long as there are stars to see, and places we think we can go, the human spirit is going to want to go there and see for ourselves. It's the way we are, wanting to see what's over the next hill, on the far shore, over the horizon, across the ocean of night.

I suspect that the advancement of technologies of electronic information, cybernetics, and biotechnology will keep us diverted here on Earth for decades to come, but that eventually, people will want to really Travel again. If not we Americans, other folks who aren't so comfortable here on Earth, perhaps.

Hey, I wonder if we shouldn't just outsource the entire manned Space Program to a country like India? They're working on a space program anyway, and we can boost 'em (so to speak) to where we think we need to go next by letting them use our hardware and technologies. Plus, lauching from closer to the equator than Florida gives some nice advantages to launch payloads for existing hardware. I can imagine the phone calls to the NASA Manned Space Flight Support Phone Center.

To the Moon, er, I'm sorry, what was your name again?

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

slyness - well, satellites are involved.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link, Scotty.

Outlaw nuclear weapons, and only outlaws will have nuclear weapons.

Even if Mr. Obama was thinking this, he never should have said it. This is the kind of statement that can backfire on a guy bigtime.

For example, I'd expect conservatives to pile on Obama, saying that he does not take national security and defense seriously...

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Arthur C. Clarke had the space ladder on Sri Lanka. Just put it there and we don't need all that boom fuel anymore.

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

Howdy. Like so many Boodlers, I am old enough to have been bit by the space bug, though not in any way which affected my career choices. I tend to view space exploration in some form as a good in itself. I'm also keenly conscious of the applications of space technology which have made other technological and scientific advances possible (though no doubt ignorant of their scope).

Here are two fun applications of science & technology from my monthly college newsletter. Rice researchers fed drosophilia (fruit flies to you, and that's a trick without wings) tasty mash containing carbon nanotubes. When the flies reached adulthood the researchers used nifty infrared fluorescent imaging to see the carbon nanotubes in the fruit fly bodies. Also, chemists are loading moleules of the anticancer drug Taxol onto little teeny gold nanospheres (barely bigger than a strand of DNA), making Taxol bristle balls smaller than a cell, to be delivered to the cancer cell itself. Nifty, huh?

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 2, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

And the space ladder/elevator is another possible use for those nifty nanotubes, yellojkt...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I can understand that, RD, but still, will satellites see them all? You know more about this than the rest of us, please explain.

Posted by: Slyness | October 2, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Joel, a great read. I look forward to many many more.

DM, I've always thought that what really led to the downfall of the USSR was information. Joel's excellent point the the Space Age really was the Information Age rings true.

I've been reading and watching with interest what is happening in Myanmar. The government is trying to control information, but seems to me that signals don't recongnize borders and some day, the information will find the people.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

If satellites are that good shouldn't they have known Iraq didn't have WMD?

Posted by: dmd | October 2, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

That is cool, Ivansmom. I can hear it now...

"Ding Dong!"

Cancer cells: "Who is it?"

Taxol: "I've got a delivery for an I.C. Weiner"

Posted by: TBG | October 2, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt - one of the killer problems with the space elevator is satellite traffic and space junk. There is so much ballistic mass up there that a catastrophic collision is pretty much a certainty.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

My bet is that RD, can't tell us that, Slyness.

Cassandra, I read about your pastors son. My deepest condolences. Such a sorrow, such a waste. I will pray for healing, for all the young men.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

RDP;

That's why we need to equip the Shuttle with a big butterfly net and start cleaning the sky up.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I was joking. Gosh darn it, if we could magically detect nukes from space the world would be a much simpler place. Which isn't to say that people aren't trying real hard to figure out how to do just that.

What can be done, of course, is to detect nuclear explosions. So if anyone actually tests a bomb it can be picked up by sats, as well as by acoustic, seismic, and chemical sensors. Those big booms are hard to hide.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

It should be noted that chemical and biological weapons are also WMDs. No one ever talks about that.

IIRC, there is proof that Sadam Hussein would use that capability.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

ScottyNuke - not a bad idea you got there. Might get funding. Seriously, space junk is a huge and growing problem. If we can't figure out a safe way to deorbit some of that stuff the day may come when the mean time between collisions will become frighteningly small.

Posted by: RD PAdouk | October 2, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Nice inaugural Achenstory. Sputnik led to projects like the magnificent Areceibo Radio/Radar Telescope in Puerto Rico (which I got to see pre-completion. Regrettably, it may be shut down for lack of funds). Sputnik certainly fueled a vast expansion of American universities just in time for the baby boom kids. When I was a student at a big cow college, the otherwise lovely campus was under siege from construction. You'd think mud bombs had exploded everywhere. It was so nice having a new microbiology lab, so weird having to do plant physiology lab in a building without the normal lab goodies, due to remodelling. At the next, non-cow college, I benefitted from a National Defense Education Act grant. Sounds Sputniky to me.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 2, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that RD is not permitted to explain how satellites would be used to locate nuclear weapons, so I will try, and perhaps he will be permitted to point out where I am wrong (without necessarily saying what would be right).

(1) You can look for nuclear fuel-enrichment facilities. This is relatively easy, as these facilities are necessarily big (due to limitations on the physcis and chemistry used in separating the desirable U-235 from the undesirable U-238). These facilities result in a lot of radioactive waste product. The waste has its uses, but still, there's a lot of it and you have to do something with it. You can look for characteristic radioactive emissions, or just look photographically for the giant dump of nasty slag.

(2) But, you probably want a plutonium-based weapon. That means you need nuclear reactors. Big, and radioactive. Not too hard to spot photographically.

(3) Unless these facilties are entirely underground, if a country has extensive cave networks or is willing to build a subway to nowhere and fill it with nuke hardware. Even so, you have those waste products...

(4) What if the facility is underground, the U-238 from enrichment is packaged and shielded before removal, and the materials are spread over a whole country in order to avoid suspicious concentrations? Then we apply physics. Plutonium is a desirable fuel because it decays slowly and is easily shielded. However, there are other ways... One of the more productive instruments on recent Mars spacecraft has been gamma-ray spectrometers that look at the spectrum of gamma rays that have been scattered by non-radioactive materials (e.g., water) in repsonse to irradiation by cosmic ray gamma photons. The spectrum can be used to look for all kinds of things, not necessarily the radioactive materials themselves. For instance, I'm gonna guess you might want to look for unnatural concentrations of lead, or elemental carbon, or tritium (isotope of hydrogen).

(5) Launching facilities are hard to hide. Not impossible, but hard, especially for an ICBM. A tactical-range missile is easier to hide. Small nukes are tricky to build, however, and require sophistication. Large nukes require a big missile.

(6) If you can't get enough range with available missiles, then a suicide delivery system makes the most sense. Somebody needs to carry it. However, it will either be lightly shielded and carry-able, but therefore pumping out the radiation, which can be detected; or heavily-shielded and therefore require a truck to move a multi-ton object. That means you need to move over a recognized roadway or waterway. When you know where to look, you can position sensors to do so.

The most difficult danger to guard against is that someone unsophisticated (read: no missiles) will purchase a small weapon from someone who is sophisticated (read: can build miniaturized devices), so that the unsophisticated guy can conduct a suicide mission. This is worrisome, but unlikely. Sophistication costs money, and we can keep an eye on the sophisticated guys.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

How amazing that it's been 50 years and that we're still here to celebrate it!
It turns out that Eisenhower saw a number of things pretty clearly about post world war two America. He makes an incredibly persuasive and lucid argument, captured in the documentary "Why We Fight" a film by Eugene Jarecki (a great film to watch on the 4th of July by the way), regarding the (then) neophytic military-industrial complex and his fear of, among other things, militarizing space.
However, while the U.S. Government's initiative of promoting math and science education above the then current liberal arts model may have ultimately played-out with us "winning the race to the moon", what it really did was create a generation of young men and women who were trained in disciplines that actively promoted questioning everything. Resulting, ultimately, in questioning the social fabric of the US itself and leading to a ground swell of civil unrest.
In view of that past, it's not so clear the government would want to actively encourage a generation to pursue a science education again.
A pretty good argument for our current policy of importing our math and science from off-shore sources (see "Idiocracy" for the example).

Posted by: Davidesq | October 2, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Scotty how about a giant Lacrosse stick put it on the end of the Canadarm and fling unwanted junk off to burn up/travel indefinitely. (this is where my lack of knowledge of science fiction/space knowledge is embarrassingly clear)

Posted by: dmd | October 2, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

RDP;

Of course, much of the gunk is out of the Shuttle's reach.

So we MUST contact Blofeld and see if he'll sell his design, no?

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and yes, shouldn't we have seen in advance that Iraq had no WMD's? At least, no nukes. Well, the answer is that yes, we did see that. The evidence was abundant that they were not there. Unfortunately, the inspectors and photo analysts (I am speculating about the photo analysts) could not guarantee that every single possible hiding place was nuke-free -- they could only address the likely hiding places. Given that GWB Absolutely Knew that the nukes were there, it was clear that they were just extremely well hidden. I suspect he still believes that vindication is imminent and the nukes will be found, along with the hidden reactors and the robotic army.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

SciTim has it pretty much on the money. (No surprise there.)

The worrisome situations are small stashes or a tiny program. You know, the terrorist problem where the goal is a single bomb created over several years. And to detect this from overhead is, well, a challenge.


Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm gonna get my froggy self out of this bath now, but I will say this. Some reasonably bright folks are trying real hard to figure out how to detect and characterize nuclear materials in all their guises. It is my personal and totally nonbinding opinion that sats have been seriously oversold. This dates back to certain strategic decisions made during the disco era. We need to develop, and continue to develop alternative platforms, alternative techniques, and alternative data analysis procedures.

And the key to this effort is, of course, free coffee.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

RD, it sounds like those mirror balls had a mo re lasting effect than we thought.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 2, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!

A Joel sighting in Weingarten chat!

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Here's my proposal: ionization counters in the seats of commercial aircraft, recording to a separate black-box device. This also would be handy from a public-health standpoint, to explore the radiation environment of high-altitude aircraft. Radioactive dust is hard to control, especially if you don't care about safety, anyway. We look for the radioactive people, and they will lead us to the development programs. This would also stop guys who are toting Polonium-210 in order to commit nefarious crimes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's my proposal: ionization counters in the seats of commercial aircraft, recording to a separate black-box device. This also would be handy from a public-health standpoint, to explore the radiation environment of high-altitude aircraft. Radioactive dust is hard to control, especially if you don't care about safety, anyway. We look for the radioactive people, and they will lead us to the development programs. This would also stop guys who are toting Polonium-210 in order to commit nefarious crimes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Joel writes: "One result of Sputnik had nothing to do with space. It was the creation of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a technology think tank that went on to develop a computer network called Arpanet. Arpanet evolved into the Internet."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Big chunks missing about the "evolved" part. BBN, SRI, Alohanet, Telenet, Tymshare, Tymnet.

http://www.zakon.org/robert/internet/timeline/

Going through old boxes in the past 10 days--a task long overdue. On box holds all the material from Tymnet that I thought was worth saving when I left the company. It hurt to throw out press coverage from Tymnet from 85-86, when they started getting into the satellite biz.

I removed the plastic spiral bindings from five thick folders (pages and pages of material) and placed the packets from corporate of press coverage of our company in the recycling bin. "Maybe I should try to sell these on e-Bay?" I asked my husband. "Do you think they have any value?" I wondered. "Not likely," he replied.

Recyclables get picked up on Friday. Throwing away all that data comm material was like throwing away a part of my life.

Posted by: Loomis | October 2, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Oops.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 2, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

TWO! TWO Joel sightings!!

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

fyi, I've added a bunch of annotations.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 2, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Great article JA!

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 2, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The Ewald quote (I think the third annotation) has a 'the the' which I think should be a 'that the'.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Recyclables get picked up on Friday. Throwing away all that data comm material was like throwing away a part of my life." Yeah but sometimes a fresh breeze blowing though does a world of good. How goes it, Linda? I hope well.

dmd, I like the lacrosse stick idea. Much more practical than a net.

RD, only reasonably bright?

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the annotations, Joel. It turned a fine article into a Kit n Boodle exclusive. Very interesting.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 2, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you misspelled "Orion" in one of your annotations, my friend. Of course, I mistakenly called the Constellation system by the Ares booster name...

Another thought about deorbiting some of the space junk: since it's already in orbit, I wonder how much of the big stuff - booster stages, etc. - can be reused or recycled for use in EO orbit to suppliment the ISS or for the good stuff, adding a bit of thrust to send it to lunar orbit or even to deorbit it near where the base will be.

Seems to me that there's a lot of expensive and valuable hardware over our heads; why not consider green space exploration? Low Earth Orbit's an environment, isnt' it?

Hmmm. Mebbe we should send up a couple of blue recycling bins on the next shuttle launch on the 23rd..?

Not too surprisingly, I'd thought about space junk last year, but from the legal perspective...

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?p=127

And thanks for the James Oberg link..

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I really liked the way this poster put Justice Thomas in perspective in Eugene Robinson's chat this afternoon:

Upper Marlboro, Md.: I thought the interview should have been televised on April 1, 2008. What a joke! I noticed in the "60 Minutes" interview that Justice Thomas did not provide an answer to difficult questions, such as why he feels that the Constitution does not allow for affirmative action. He skipped over the fact that he did burn the ladder that he climbed to achieve his success in life. He seemed to discount many issues as petty and not worthy of debate.

His only solution is hard work; he didn't really address the issue of opportunity. He was given an opportunity through affirmative action, hence his Yale degree, for which he had to work hard for once he had the opportunity. When you have built-in inequity, such as perennially bad schools as well as institutionalized racism, opportunity is least a society can provide for those who are underprivileged.

Thomas is not known for public speaking. Now all of a sudden he is speaking because he wants to sell books. I find the man to be a fraud at best. I will read his book (in the library -- I refuse to pay money for this crap) to see if he offers any solutions to the plethora of problems African Americans face. Justice Thomas, it's not all about hard work. You can work hard at the wrong things. Slaves worked very hard but they didn't receive any fruits for their labor.

Eugene Robinson: Thank you. Very well said.

Affirmative action always made sense to me, even with the Bakke case, which occurred when I was in grad school and made quite the splash. It made even better sense when I went to work in an in-bred all-male organization. I suffered my share; I can only imagine what African-Americans have gone through.

Posted by: Slyness | October 2, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

SCC: please delete "orbit" after "EO," as it's redundant.

It's a darn good thing I'm *not* a rocket scientist.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 2, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Let me go out on a limb and clarify something.

You can obviously see the infrastructure associated with a mature weapons program complete with missiles from space. What you cannot see is if someone has squirreled away a few nuclear weapons for safe keeping. Nor if someone is storing several hundred kg of nuclear material in a bunch of lead-lined boxes. And yet it is the latter scenarios that are most worrisome. This is why alternative detection techniques are needed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The "low observable" problem I have described is very similar to IED detection, another area I have rubbed shoulders with. In a way the IED and low-observable threat is much like Sputnik. A "new" threat that really isn't new at all, but one that is becoming much more salient. And much like the space age, I suspect we are embarking, quietly at first, on a new era leading to remarkable new technologies. But with a few costly disasters on the way.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

With all that talk about frail bodies and robotic exploration...so when do we see CyborgTim on the boodle, SciTim?

I agree with Cassandra on affirmative action. Getting a foot in the door is the biggest obstacle. It hasn't quite outlived its usefulness yet.

And what I think of Clarence Thomas would not be fit to print. Or what my funny friend did.

You see, during the Anita Hill hearings, I once did a series of interviews with a few people to videotape for a lying experiment.
I interviewed a funny guy I knew of baby boomer years. We came to the question of
"Is Anita hill was telling the truth or not?"

"As a black guy, I know all about.... (explicit description of lust and relevant female anatomy followed.) Then he quieted down, and he said yeah, I think she's telling the truth.

I was trying hard not to laugh, it was pretty funny, and absolutely honest. No doubt in my mind he was telling it like it was, Pyror-style. His friends weren't so sure if he was serious behind that kidding, though.

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

I think you are on to something bc. I've been up North a few times and everything gets re-used, albeit sometimes in dangerous ways. Once a bit of technology has made it beyond the 60th parallel North the cost of transportation alone makes it a precious thing. You would not believe what gets used for propane tanks. Propane is a flammable liquid most of the year out there but still. bc's Lunar scrap yard, complete with the big mean dog in its four-legged suit, would do brisk business.

Slyness, FYI Anita Hill is skewering the good judge in the NYT opinion pages today. This lady's pinky has more class than the whole of Mr. Thomas.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 2, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Joel: Thanks for posting the AP story. That's the one I had read that noted the visibility of the expended rocket vis seeing the actual Sputnik.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 2, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the sharp eyes on the typos.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 2, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

You may be interested in this story of Affirmation Action of another kind...

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/09/28/at_the_elite_colleges___dim_white_kids/?p1=MEWell_Pos4

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 2, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I only have one problem with that Anita Hill column. She writes that the Senate decided in 1991 that Thomas belongs on the Supreme Court. I think what the Senate actually decided was that he <it>will</it>.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

SCC the Senate did not decide that he BELONGS on the Supreme Court but that he WILL BE on the Supreme Court

Even that doesn't sound as clear as I know it could. I hope you all know what I mean to say...

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, shrieking, I missed that in the NYT.

Totally agreed. Professor Hill is an example to all of us.

Posted by: dbG | October 2, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

BTW,

The "in Praise of Older Women" thing from the other day was not written by Andy Rooney.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/rooney2.asp

The actual writer is Frank Kaiser, a columnist for the Suddenly Senior website, who writes a lot about frisky geezers.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Ah, you spacenuts. If God would have wanted us off-planet he would have put us there in the first place. If Mother Nature had wanted us out there she wouldn't have put things so far away and put that speed limit on, with no radiation protection in the transportation corridors. Don't matter what you believe; it just don't jive with yore learnin. You will all fall off the earth if you sail to far west, or them sea monsters'll getcha.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | October 2, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

But... he gave us opposable thumbs and the stars to look at.

What are we supposed to do?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi, MedallionofFerret! Good to see you. You know, of course, that all this talk of "space travel" is just something they made up to keep us occupied before television got so popular and everyone played videogames.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 2, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Maggie O'D,
In the sciences, at least, graduate students in the best academic departments in their fields are likely to come from no-name colleges.

I suspect that smart kids rejected by "selective" colleges fail to fully realize that the admissions game for grad school is different. As a friend put it, "at the graduate level, Yale is just another university." An excellent one, of course.

I assume that medical school admissions are based on perceived likelihood of becoming a successful physician. But, given that business schools thrive on generous donations, I wonder about them. Is there some expert opinion out there?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 2, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

It's up on the virtual first page -- Isiah Thomas, the Knicks and other affiliated organizations gotta fork over $11.6 million for sexual harassment. He'll appeal, of course, but man, what a message was sent!

(smiling from ear to ear)

Unfortunately, it'll happen again and again and over and over again.

If you haven't read it yet, go read Anita Hill's op-ed in the NYT (free at last!).

Back to the billables, folks.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 2, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, Ivansmom, you just slay me.

Very interesting writing from the Robinson chat. Regarding affirmative action, submitted respectfully, knowing that there are still deep inequities in our education systems this side of the border but;

Unless you conquer the deep disparity between the money spent per student in rich areas and the money spent per student in poor areas, the grand total of affirmative action is still going to be just advertising copy.

To get ones foot in the door you need a good formal education. Since practical formal education generally starts at age 5 or 6, you have to fix it in grade school. You have to fix it in juniour high, and you have to fix it in high school. You wait till college, and you already lost the game.

You want affirmative action to work, write new education tax laws providing equal educational dollars for every child from all taxes collected in all jurisdictions in a state for education, provide equal funding in the same way for each child, for every building, every facility, every program. For real affirmative action, you need to clear the road to the door. The truth is that you need to weight your education spending to address the often poorer start children from poorer homes get.

Jumping off soapbox now.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I somehow stumbled onto a Maureen Dowd column from July 15, 2006. She wrote the word 's.l.u.t' several times in the article.

And would somebody tell me why I'm still at work.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Dr, I agree.... I see the consequences way too often myself, both in deaf education and in mainstream education (both sides of the border, too).

When I was 16 I interned in DC and got to know another girl who was also interning. She wrote to me she wanted to get in law school. She was maybe 18 and her spelling, grammar, the whole shebang was abymsal.

I had no guts to tell her that if she wanted to get in law school, she had to work extremely hard to catch up her overall English writing skills. I was pretty sad, because she was smart enough, she just never had teachers who taught her the basics. I hoped once she was in college, she'd work on that strength. Would it be enough, if she was really motivated enough and had excellent teachers? Could be.
But she shouldn't be in that position to have to work 4 times as hard to achieve the basic skills required for her dreams because of the lousy DC public school system.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, maybe Yetis were real once?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071001/sc_nm/neanderthals_dc

Of course, the leading candidate for the yeti is the Tibetan black bear...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiatic_Black_Bear

Another hypothesis, less well-known, involves escaped circus poodles terrorizing the rural folk by walking on their hind legs.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Affirmative action should start with playing with blocks....

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071001/sc_nm/learning_blocks_dc;_ylt=AmWZXjri1deiucurKj8WakYiANEA

A chicken in every pot, a block in every toddler's hand...

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see if this was duplicated with wood blocks. We wouldn't want to find out the effect was caused by xenoestrogens leaching from the plastic, of course.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, did you notice who funded the study?


... funded by Mega Bloks, owned by Montreal-based toy maker MEGA Brands Inc.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 2, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Are you suggesting this study was... biased? Surely Canadians wouldn't do such a thing?!


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

That article uses the s-word fifteen times in one column. While that hardly matches the over hundred uses of a different s-word in a south Park episode, it is a tour de force.

Like the N-word, Dowd is trying to re-appropriate and redefine a former object of derision into a badge of honor. So go ahead and call her a news-lut. She'll respect you for it.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | October 2, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Boodle is all over today. I will just say I recommend Homer Hickam's book (it was re-released after the movie with the title October Sky) and Joel was right to point towards it.

Also that Rd Padouk is a very fine human being.

Posted by: Jumper | October 2, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

No, no we're not biased.

We are staying under the radar as usual. We will still prevail, but it won't hurt. Really.

Evil laugh as she runs...

Yeah Wilbrod, that is one of the places schools need to be improved everywhere on the continent, education for the handicapped no matter what handicap society implies one may or may not have.

I know taxation is different down there and education is funded differently but gol dingit, if what I understand is roughly how it works, how can it be remotely seen unequal.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Jumper! That is very kind.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I ditto that comment on RD's fineness

I must disclose a certain bias, of course. After all, I don't want the black helicopters carrying satellite-guided ninja snake-killer bunnies to come after me.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry Wilbrod. We won't make that mistake again. And thanks for the kind words.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Just between us, RD, y'all can factor a 2048 bit primes multiple in under a minute, can't you?

Posted by: Jumper | October 2, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I already wear external optics to improve my vision and have metal implanted in my heart to maintain cardiac function. None of my auxiliary parts have active logic, however, so I am not yet truly cyborged. Any day now, though, any day...

Posted by: CyborgTim | October 2, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

satellite-guided ninja snake-killer bunnies?

*run away!!! run away!!!!!!!!!*

Posted by: mo | October 2, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

That was a hilarious video, the rabbit biting the snake...

Of course, we all appreciate RD's giving Cassandra a computer. That truly was a wonderful thing to do.

Posted by: Slyness | October 2, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

No Jumper, but I know a guy...

The 'puter for Cassandra was not a big deal. I had a spare one because my wife's grandmother was afraid of it.

The *real* thanks should go to TBG, Slyness, and SonofG for transporting the thing. Not to mention Cassandra for writing such heartfealt posts that her absence was so sorely felt.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

mo - where have you been young lady? Really. I know you have an exciting life through which we boring married folk must live vicariously, but you simply must drop by more often. We miss you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

mo! Oh my goodness! mo stopped by! *hug*

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

mo, can we persuade you (no helicopters involved) to join us for another cross-border BPH in Philly next weekend? And momofmo too?

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I killed it.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

clarificationfrom my 5:25: how can it be remotely seen to be equal.

I'm certain there is a huge grammar error there, but I do hope you can understand what I am am trying to say.

MO, you must stop working so hard, and come play foolishly with us. We miss you.

RD, I'm sorry, you can't 'aw shucks' your way out of it. You
are my hero. You stand in good company, with Slyness, TBG, and Son of G!

I am taking some vacation days, so you probably won't see me for a while. I will be popping in at Chateau Mostlylurking. I am delighted to be able to arrange it in such short order. And yes, our vacation is set back one more day. mr dr has to work for part of the day, but I will be home packing the self contained traveling van.

I will leave you with this pithy item. The van is a Pleasure Way. See if you can tell people that with a straight face.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I'm going to be in Seattle on Sunday. I know its a stretch but if you are around Seattle traveling on Sunday...

And did we ever set a date for the North of 49th BPH? Kerric's job has changed a bit. He is free all day Saturday and Sunday, and he can be free on a Friday evening. If a Friday evening works better, we can do that.

As above, I are out for a few days, but will be checking my email occasionally.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

This is probably going to kill the Boodle, but Boodle, watch out when you get a flu shot this year.

I've gotten them every year, no problem. This year's has just knocked me out, nothing you want to have mid-week.

Posted by: dbG | October 2, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

dr, enjoy your time off. We look forward to photos of the BPH at Chateau Mostlylurking.

Posted by: Slyness | October 2, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

dr, I cannot be in Seattle this weekend. I'm sad!

Very sorry indeed to hear that Kerric is gainfully employed.

I can do a North of 49 BPH in Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary, the weekends of Oct. 20,21; Oct 27,28; or Nov. 3,4. After that, I am in Ireland, and afterwards do not trust my life on the #2 North in possible snow/slush/full sun, Chinook.

Write to me at dbioyoki@hotmail.com (or the other addy) and let me know when and where you would like to meet (Phil's off the highway strip in Red Deer?) and I shall tip up in fine form on the day and time.

If you and Kerric would like to drive down to Calgary and have a local (for me) BPH you both can stay at my house (not together, you understand) if you can bear the dogs, and I will treat you to a meal at my chef-friend's-restaurant. Just let me know what you would enjoy; I do upscale and downscale just fine and enjoy both, equally.

If we did it in Calgary could we entice SonOfCarl to reveal himself? If he felt safe?

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

And did you notice that when you touch-type the two worded-name of the central-Alberta town Red Deer, you use only two of your left-handed fingers? Amazing!

(not a missing hyphen, an adjectival phrase!)

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

dbG, does your arm hurt? And are you knocked-out? Nonetheless, you done good. We must protect ourselfs from harm.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

And only three letters for the two fingers.

Posted by: ERD | October 2, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

One last check in. I'll talk with Kerric. After the 15th, I'm open.

SoC, I'd drive to Calgary for you. But then I will drive for Yoki too!

I'll email you as soon as we get back.

Posted by: dr | October 2, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I'm not that mo. The other mo (of the darkness) is much sexier than me. Trust me on that.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | October 2, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

hahahaha. ERD knows that of which I speak. Hilarious!

Not to mention that Mo MoDO has cracked me up.

Geez, I love this place.

dr, I'll check-in and look for your message.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

GREED also only takes two fingers of the left hand.

Posted by: ERD | October 2, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

yes. very funny.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

G'night. 'Bye. Have you ever thought your own sense of humour might condemn you to sadness?

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

The delight is the anodyne to sadness.

Posted by: ERD | October 2, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, ERD. Post more often.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to meeting the dr's! And my husband is pretty ok with it - he's not quite sure why these Canadians are travelling so far, but he's cool. Probably the fact that I'm flying across country to attend a book fair with a certain boodler softened him up for the Canadian invasion.

Yoki - Ireland! Brilliant!

mo, good to see you. I'm going to send you email.

(I think Mo MoDo is yellojkt.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 2, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

And I think ERD is.. well, ERD.

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Busted again.

Mo MoDo is my newest sockpuppet. It's (I haven't quite decided on a gender) gimmick is an obsession with Maureen Dowd. Mo MoDo blogs about every said by or about Maureen Dowd. I'll post a link someday, but I think it would be more fun if you found it on your own.

There will be new a new post by 8 am tomorrow. MoDo's column runs every Wednesday and Sunday.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

And sorry for stealing your name, real mo. We do miss you. You need to find more internet flexible employment.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the RD fan club...his posts from the last kit and this one are most impressive.

mostlylurking - I love your description of your husband's BPH feelings..."he's pretty ok with it" - just what I meant a couple of kits ago when I said that I would have some 'splainin' to do when I attend a BPH. He knows of my Achenaddiction, but doesn't really understand it.

shrieking d. - I agree with you about Anita Hill. Her op-ed today and Justice Thomas' memoir (the excerpts I have read) have so far reinforced the assessment I made all those years ago... she is the believable party in the "he said, she said" debate.

Very interesting annotations about von Braun. I've been watching "The War" on PBS. There are some moments when I had very visceral reactions towards the Axis powers as I watched the footage presented in the documentary. His explanations of his actions during the war presented me with a counterpoint.

Good night all!

Posted by: Kim | October 2, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight, Kim. Goodnight yello. Goodnight ERD.

Goodnight Grandma'

Posted by: Yoki | October 2, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight John-Boy.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 2, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight Moon! We'll howl another Tim uh, time!

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 2, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Sputnik haiku:

Sputnik satellite
shamed American science
We win to the moon

Don't stop believin'!

Posted by: bill everything | October 2, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Where is the stat man? Do we have longer posts on a space kit?

Sorry, Cassandra. Such a waste to be snuffed out so soon. Deadly games played by some aimless and pitiful young men. In the olden days, I think boys might just have cleaned each other's clocks behind the batting cage.

Here is a pome by a Canadian, to keep with the kit theme as it has heavenly bodies in it:

Stargazer.

The very stars are justified,
The galaxy italicized.
I have proofread and
proofread the beautiful script,
There are no errors

---
Gnite.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 2, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

And the author is

P.K. Page

Posted by: College Apologian | October 2, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

What a marvelous little pomelet.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 2, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

We have a sort of affirmative action in my country. Just that it's the other way round. We are governed by the majority and the "affirmative action" is there to benefit the majority not the minority. Probably the only country in the world that has such policies. Minorities are marginalized at every turn of the corner. If they question the inequality, they will be accused of inciting racial disharmony and are liable to be thrown into the detention camp. Our detention camp is very similar to your Guantanamo Bay. I always thought the bush administration shameless copied our detention camp style. Our exists since the 1950s for the "benefit" of the communists.

Posted by: rainforest | October 3, 2007 2:30 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, mostly muscle aches and chills. Can't last too much longer.

mostly, good job!

rainforest, that is disturbing! Sounds like a self-perpetuating cycle, and maybe we're there too.

Working early a.m., there is a certain freedom in admitting you're just not going back to bed. Drinking tea and turning on lights instead of just hoping to get back to bed (although I'm doing all 3 right now).

Did I backboodle incorrectly? Has nobody mentioned *Sleeping Satellite* yet?

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 3:39 AM | Report abuse

The difference between yours and ours is that yours will change when the administration changes. Our opposition will not rule in my life time.

Posted by: rainforest | October 3, 2007 4:09 AM | Report abuse

SCC : shamelessly on the 2:30am post

Oh dbG, forgot to say, "Welcome to the A.M crowd!"

Posted by: rainforest | October 3, 2007 4:13 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what kind of late pm/early am participation WaPo would get on a blog set up to attract that demographic?

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:26 AM | Report abuse

rainforest, I think there's an invisible affirmative action for the upper classes here. Did you see the story here yesterday about Jenna Bush's fiance? Kind of illustrates my point.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

I think there's an invisible affirmative action for the upper classes in every country. But these upper classes still constitute a small percentage compared to the general minority population.

Posted by: rainforest | October 3, 2007 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Well dbG, on the Achenblog, late pm/early am participations are only a handful. Not sure how other blogs would do.

Posted by: rainforest | October 3, 2007 5:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning--today Andy Borowitz ends his daily email with this gem:

"Elsewhere, in his first major proposal on global warming, President Bush today declared war on the sun."

Have a great day, everybody.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 3, 2007 6:17 AM | Report abuse

France's elite Grandes Écoles somehow seem to enroll well-connected kids--and I don't think they have to rely on alumni for fundraising.

I think there's some discontent about the system. Might Sarkozy smash them up?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 3, 2007 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Cassandra, I hope you'll feeling well this morning.

The promise of equal opportunity in America was - is - a great advance, however imperfectly it has been implemented. Such a powerful idea! I hope we never lose it, and go forth in a new administration to make it more true than it is now.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! *Hump Day Grover waves as I scuttle about compensating for missing office members*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

       Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one of me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things: and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.


It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I have been happy: happy now I go.


   -Arthur C. Clarke

Posted by: omniOnTopicPoem | October 3, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad I back-boodled this morning or I would have missed mostlylurking's comment about the book fair. Yes, It's true, Achengirls will again be going wild at the Miami Book Fair in 2007--TBG had a prior commitment but mostlylurking has made plans to attend. (It may not be evident from my measured prose, but I am really excited about this.)
(!) (!) (!) (!) (!) (!)
The event is open to the public and all boodlers are invited to come on down and join the festivities. November 9 - 11. The lineup of authors has not yet been announced but we can be certain that a good time will be had by all. Here's the website:

http://www.miamibookfair.com/

Stay tuned for more details, same achen-time, same achen-channel.

(Isn't that weird how I remembered that all of a sudden from all those years ago; I used to watch "Batman" every week and at the end of the show they would say, "Tune in next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel." If you remember that, then you, too, are OLD. Sorry.)

Posted by: kbertocci | October 3, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Excited for mostlylurking and kbertocci because I know how much fun they'll have. Sad because I can't join them (although the sisters' weekend planned for me instead is also anticipated with glee).

I am now waiting for the painters to arrive! Donuts at the ready for them and colors decided upon. Aqua for the hallway, gray for the LR, brownish and pumpkinish for Son of G's room and the guest room, respectively. Daughter is getting hot pink and light green--the perfect teen-girl combo if there ever was one.

The best part is that the yucky wallpaper and chair rails I've lived with for 12 years will finally be gone.

When the painting is done, there won't be one white wall in my house. And when the putting stuff back in place is done, as my husband said last night, "We can start having people over again."

Hey... did you all read that amazing story about the woman on the Metro here in DC meeting the young stranger who had grown up in the same house in Kansas City she did? In the same room?

I keep thinking about how weird that really is. What an amazing world that a chance encounter could bring those two people together in a city hundreds of miles away from the house. Wow.

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I still had the tab open with the NYT Anita Hill piece and I notice that the accompanying artwork doesn't really go with the picture. It seems that the victim has always been Anita Hill, who was smeared for telling the truth. The drawing literally makes the woman out to be the shady character.

What do you think?

Also note the artist's name.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/opinion/02hill.html?ex=1349064000&en=fead3dc9da2a1c65&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

That is great, TBG! I would be watching each swath of colour going on and rejoicing.

I had an experience sort of like that. I was shopping for a large leather chesterfield in Calgary just prior to moving to Revelstoke (because AB has no sales tax); when I gave the shop assistant the address to which the furniture should be delivered, she exclaimed "1175 ** Road! I built that house!." Sure enough, she and her husband were the builders and first owners of the house we'd just bought. She later shared a bunch of photos and plans of the project. Cool.

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Thanks for the post Slyness concerning Justice Thomas. And thanks for the lovely comment RD, and I think you're an okay dude too. Just too, too, brainy for me. That is not a bad thing, and it's all good. I need dictionary and anything else I can get my hands on to understand some of your post. And science tim, too.

Wilbrod and Ivansmom, as one of the posters remarked, you slay me.

According to the Journal this morning, no one has been apprehended in the killing of the young man. No one was apprehended for killing his brother a couple of years ago either. I did visit the home yesterday, a lot of young people there. My daughter talking about this young man this morning, saying she just talked to him a couple of days ago. This has hit the young people really hard, as it would, because the young don't think about death. They see it as far away from them.

A busy day ahead. I'm already late. The g-girl is on that bus, she loves the bus. I will try and check back in later, but might not meet that goal. Have a good day, my friends.

I see Isiah Thomas did not have a good day in court. I suspect a lot of that behavior goes on, but many women don't report it. Yet I believe some guys don't get it concerning that behavior. They view it as the norm. We have a lot of work to do in so many areas.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 3, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, in its ongoing assault on the beauty industry Dove has a new add, it is very good. For all those with young girls/ladies it is worth a look.

http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/263060

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all.

Omni, those stanzas are the last two stanzas of Tennyson's "Ulysses", a poem of which I'm inordinately fond. It describes an old Ulysses, after his long trip home and successful rule, gathering his crew for one final voyage. This poem is among the standard bedtime poetry for the Boy. I do pretty well until this last couple of stanzas; then I tend to choke up. The tag couplet on the end was not Tennyson and probably added by Clarke.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"Morning, all. *the password is...meiosis...bing*

Posted by: jack | October 3, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

RD, "I had a spare one because my wife's grandmother was afraid of it." I laugh and laugh. I've tried for years to convince my in-laws to get a computer purely for email purposes, and met with intense resistance. Now, they have a backyard tenant who shares her Internet and email with them. My father-in-law has discovered he likes this technology. Of course, since their tenant has it, there's no need for them to get a computer, right?

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Ivansmom, I stand corrected (typed while sitting, of course). I looked all over, in the book I'm reading and quoted from and on the web and could find nothing that didn't point away from ACC as the author. I guess my search keywords were flawed.

Oops, took another look at the book, and it does say it's from one of the first poets of the scientific age, two centuries ago. D'oh.

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Sputnik 1 anniversary is tomorrow. Today is the 65th ann. of the first manmade object to reach space. According to my research, more people died constructing this weapon than in attacks.

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I was 3 1/2 months old this day fifty years ago . When I look in the sky lately, I think that the only things in space at that time were celestial bodies. *faxing my old lax goalie stick with destructo proof web for gleaning space junk to dr*

Posted by: jack | October 3, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

omni, I was just glad to see the verses. Though perhaps a little sappy, it is a good poem. As I get older I find the verses you quoted take on more meaning. I'm glad to see them get some circulation.

Cassandra, I too am sorry about the death of your associate pastor's son. This week one friend has lost her son in a car accident (hit head-on by someone driving on the wrong side), another set of friends has lost a parent/grandparent, and a third succumbed to cancer. I didn't know any of the deceased well, but I do know their relatives and it has been a long week.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Sulu's in space again:

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/gossip/20071003_Tattle___Mr__Sulu_makes_a_name_for_himself_in_space.html

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Tennyson is the second most frequently quoted writer in the English language. I just upped is numbers a smidgen. Take that bardo...hehe

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

HA, when I do a search the right way the first link is this: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~keith/poems/Ulysses.html

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

bc, if you're still able to come to the Philly BPH, this isn't far:

PHILADELPHIA MG CLUB
"MG's at the Village Show"
October 13, 2007
Peddler's Village

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

dbG, I did mention "Sleeping Satellite" when Joel reviewed the "Shadows" movie, does that count?

Hmmm, Clarence Thomas and Isaiah Thomas in the news this week... not sure what to make of that.

Maybe now's a good time to unload that stock in the Thomas' bakery.

No, I'm not going to make the obvious joke.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 3, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Good grief 10/10 http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/quiz/Quiz.aspx?QuizID=42

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Of course it counts!

I think omni has mentioned it a few times, too, and I think a search might show it gets mentioned almost every other month. Not bad for a little song.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I only got 2 wrong on Omni's Encarta quiz. Do I get a prize? How about a fruit rollup - pleeze?
.
Straying farther from topic. This week's tune cootie is Regina Spektor's "Hotel Song." Can anyone tell me what it means?

Posted by: CowTown | October 3, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Eeeep! 8/10

That's what I get for quizzin' @ work... *L*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

dmd... excellent ad by Dove and their self-esteem campaign. I look at girls that age and just think "pure beauty." But they don't know it. In fact, I'm sure they already think the opposite.

I've worked hard on making sure my daughter has a healthy body image; it'll be interesting to see if it's worked at all.

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I got 10/10 also. Only question I really didn't know offhand was how many constellations, but the I hit it anyhow. No real time to boodle much--have to head out to Pittsburgh and prep for my father-in-law's funeral. He passed on Friday, though he was really gone when they got him from the nursing home to the hospice the week before.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 3, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I got 9 out of 10 and I want extra points for noticing the grammatical error in the first question: "Which is larger?" Should be "Which is largest?"

I missed the constellation question. For me, there is only *one* constellation, Orion. I can't see any of the others so whether there are 50 or 150 or 4 means nothing to me. Go ahead, point them out to me. You'll say, "there! the big dipper!" and I'll say, "Oh, right, now I see it." But I'll be lying. And don't even get me started on the upside-down chair and the zodiac signs and so on.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 3, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about your father-in-law, ebtnut. My condolences to your spouse.

9/10. Silly constellations.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

kb,

I agree with you about Orion (and his belt in particular) All the rest are the work of overactive imaginations.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

7/10 on the quiz, (would have been 8/10 but changed my answer on constellations).

Thanks TBG, I like their hole campaign. I already see the impact the media/society has on girls my daughters age. Some of her classmates, 7th grade, are heavily into makeup, pre-skanky clothing, hair extensions, diets etc.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Glad Joel mentioned the fear factor--who will win the space race--in his article.
What do we fear today? Black Science?

In the last several weeks, DHS awarded a $1.5 million contract to Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (the only privately funded BioSafety Lab-4 in the United States, not far from us, with the giant primate colony that I've talked about in the past) to study the Marburg virus, discussed at some length in Richard Preston's book, "The Hot Zone."

We had a long feature story this past Sunday on page A-1 about the safety of biolabs in our local paper. I take issue with the information (and lack of same) and point of view on a number of assertions, but won't elaborate now. I do hope that someone from the Washington Post will be at this hearing tomorrow.

http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/53626/

The safety concerns prompted congressmen John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to schedule an Oct. 4 hearing on safety level III and IV laboratories. The committee will seek testimony about the number of labs operating, employee training and the structure of government oversight over biodefense labs.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/bioprep/news/sep2507ebola(2).html

Safety breaches at US biodefense labs have also caught the attention of lawmakers. The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it would hold a hearing on Oct 4 to explore the risks associated with the rising number of BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the United States, according to a Sep 21 news release from the committee.

Posted by: Loomis | October 3, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

ebtnut... sorry about your father-in-law. Please pass along my condolences to your wife and her family.

Have a safe trip.

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm in good company as Orion is the only constellation I can find. I almost got that question wrong, but still it was a fifty-fifty guess.

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that's one of my favorite poems. I always feel like a fraud for saying that, though, since I haven't exactly lived according to its ideals- particularly since law school.

Mind you, Penelope and Telemachus might have a thing or two to say about that adventurous spirit as well.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 3, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Please accept my condolencese, ebtnut, and I hope you can all celebrate his life with friends and family.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Please also accept my condolences, ebtnut...

*rechecking my keyboard*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Kurt Vonnegut's "Happy Birthday, Wanda June" was inspired as a modern day take on Ulysses' return. He wasn't quite treated as the conquering hero he thought he was.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Achenbach,
I read your SPUTNIK article in the Washington Post yesterday (2 Oct 07), and enjoyed it thoroughly. It further sparked my memory and curiosity. Last Friday I listened to NPR's "Science Friday" on the same topic. I called in with comments and questions, but never got on the air.

My memory is that I was aboard a U.S. submarine in port at New London CT.
just after the launch of SPUTNIK. I was a radio operator, and was tasked to
copy the Morse signals being transmitted from the satellite each night
that it passed overhead. Navy Radiomen were of course trained in International Morse
code, and the signals from the satellite were in Russian Morse. The
difference being about six characters, if I remember correctly. I was
given a chart with all characters of Russian Morse and scotch taped it on the
console in front of me. There was no problem copying the signal once in range until an
unfamiliar character was heard, and I would have to quickly find it on
the chart and type it down, then catch up. From that point on my job was
done. I believe that the copy was put in the mail to Washington. I could
speculate further, but won't.

My question has to do with my inability to obtain a recording of the
SPUTNIK Morse signals. The recording that was played
at the beginning of Science Friday's show, is not Morse, or not
recognizable to me at this point. I don't remember the frequency that I
used to tune into the SPUTNIK transmissions. Adding to my confusion is
the fact that most of my radio equipment at the time covered 2-32khz, and
225-399mhz. Experience says that most European military communications
operated in the VHF range; i.e., in between the ranges stated above.

After more consideration, I'm wondering now if maybe SPUTNIK One did not transmit
Morse, but it was SPUTNIK II, which was a larger - maybe a more capable satellite.

Any insight, comment or other reference would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any response.
Mike Klein
Alexandria VA

Posted by: Mike Klein | October 3, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

That's okay, SonofCarl. It is an inspirational poem. It is good for us to be reminded to reach for higher ideals, even if we don't always grasp them. Gosh, are we back to the space program here?

ebnut, I'm sorry about your father-in-law's death.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mike Klein:
Sputnik 1 didn't transmit a code, just a beep-beep-beep. But I don't know about Sputnik 2 or Sputnik 3.

Paul Dickson's "Sputnik" book says of Sputnik 2:

"The telemetry system transmitted biological and engineering data to Earth for fifteen minutes every orbit."

Posted by: Achenbach | October 3, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

They sent a dog into space without the posibility of a safe return. Sicko bastards.

Posted by: omni | October 3, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

omni - Theres a fascinating movie called "My Life as a Dog" that riffs on that notion.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Crazy busy today, but wanted to pass on an allegedly cute anecdote. Last night I was discussing Sputnik with my offspring.

Hyperboy was copping a know-it-all attitude about sats, so I asked him why they didn't fall to earth. His response was that the sun kept them up.

What saved me from total despair was when my daughter chimed in.

"Is it because the ground moves out of the way?"


Which is pretty much right.


Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

What an interesting memory, Mike Klein, and a fascinating question! That experience must have made the whole space program very personal for you, in a way that just reading about it or watching coverage would not. Thank you for sharing with us.

Maybe they taught the dog Morse code.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"Is it because the ground moves out of the way?"

I love daughters. In his chat today, Garrison Keillor said, "Little girls are keepers of joy."

Posted by: CowTown | October 3, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

That is a legitimately cute story, RD. Between them your offspring may make a rocket scientist yet.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Mike Klein... yours is the kind of "I was there" story I love. Thanks for sharing that. It's usually the "little guy" that tells us what really went on.

It's funny how our memory works. We're sure we know one thing and then "history" tells us another. Many times it turns out we were right after all.

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

RD, I guess another way of looking at the orbital mechanics of sats is that they *are* falling, just not directly at the earth.

It is a cute story, though.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 3, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

SCC: I meant to say that "they *are* falling, they just keep missing the earth."

Bah. I'm not even a very good dork.

Just call me Laika.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 3, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I really liked my daughter's comment because, as bc so correctly points out, sats really are falling towards the earth just as surely as that apple is falling from the tree.

There is no difference in the physics. It's just that a satellite's downward motion is combined with tangential velocity to produce a curved orbit. If it weren't for this downward motion towards the earth sats would travel in a straight line right into space. And because the satellite is traveling along a curved path, it only avoids crashing because the earth is round.

In other words, the ground gets out of the way.

I hope you all don't mind, but there will be a short quiz on this later.

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

Uh, Wilbrodog...

Help me out here. Wasn't Laika a female?

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Um, uh, open book?

Cann-eye havva fruit rollup now?

Posted by: CowTown | October 3, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Why is RDP quizzing us about height, anyway?

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I am going to go study now as my record on the quizzes is not the best.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Those of you wishing to study up for RDP's upcoming quiz cannot do better than to check out "The Dynamics of an Asteroid" by James Moriarty. Although long out of print, it is still considered the definitive work on the subject.

Posted by: SH | October 3, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that explanation, RD. Without being able to articulate it at all I had formed a mental picture basically showing what you describe (ball in orbit not falling onto other ball also in orbit). I am relieved to find out why that paint-by-numbers instinct was not actually wrong. Also, you said it in what amounts, in my world, to words of one syllable. Very nice.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Hi CowTown! You may have one fruit roll-up, to help you study. However, please be sure that you get the kind with lots of regular sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup as a primary ingredient.

I spend a great deal of time reading ingredient labels in an increasingly vain effort to avoid high fructose corn syrup.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Of course, that Joel fellow already answered all the good questions back in the "why things are" days.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, see if you can find any Sunrype products. They are from Kelowna, BC and are pure juices and fruit rollups and bars, no sugar (or sweeteners added). Great flavour combos and some are fruit and veggies (fruit bars).

Not sure if they are sold in the US but worth looking for. With two young ones I spend a lot of time reading labels for no sugar and for things they take to school no nuts.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, maybe bc meant "son of Laika", then. When are you going to get Sniffynuke?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 3, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dmd. I gave up the "no sugar" battle long ago (fortunately the Boy is not a big candy consumer) but try to draw the line at high fructose corn syrup. Did you know that HFCS may be found in salad dressings and (gasp) 100% whole wheat bread? I tell you, it makes shopping an adventure.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 3, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I am the same with sugar, fruit juice I only buy unsweetened, the fruit bars are just a bonus, plus I like them too!

Really whole wheat bread - is nothing sacred.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Short boodle drive-by... Joel's mention of Ike coincided with my reading of Michael Korda's biography of General Eisenhower.

"Ike, an American hero."

He has some terrific quotes: On social security, Ike remarked: "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security... you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, mof coourse, that believes you can do those things. Among them are Texas oil millionaires. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

This 50 years ago.

He capped his farewell speech with a warning to "guard against the acquisitiuon of unwarranted inlfuence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

Now, Ike had been part of the military for over 30 years. As president, though, he had to continually veto lobbying to build nuclear supercarriers, and other large-ticket items.

I sincerely believe he meant large military contractors and builders then, and this warning could be applied to Halliburton as well.

It's been a nice read learning about the military politics of WWWII and the 50's for me. Korda makes very little secret of the fact that he believes Ike was an excellent politican.

It also makes me understand why some lifelong republicans I knew began to hate the Republican party when the first oil millionaire took office.

*Stepping on the gas and taking off with a screech.*

So long...!



Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ivansmom. My wife keeps a stash of HFCS-free fruit rollups handy for when our nieces visit. I am not allowed any since, though they are "natural" they still have lots of calories. But if I look really wistful and pathetic (and finish my honeydo list), she'll occasionally give me one.

Posted by: CowTown | October 3, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Glad to know I'm not the only HFCS-avoidant in the world. Anybody know of any issues with plain old CS?

SH, thanks for the tip. I think I'll pull my old trick of waiting until the last minute before the quiz, skimming the text lightly, then leaving the book open in front of a teddy bear (with little glasses) propped up on the bed; human/stuffed animal telepathy has pulled me through more than once.

What kind of curve are you anticipating, RDP?

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

In the land of can't believe I did this. I just received an invitation to an old, old (and very practical) friend's daughter's wedding shower.

The registry was astonishing. Among other (some very reasonable) things, the BTB had put down 2 pillows @ $280.00 each.

It just struck me as very funny, and I called my friend, laughing. She laughed too, but now I'm wondering if it was rude. She would have been the first to laugh with me if one of us had pointed it out about someone else's registry. I apologized anyway, but . . . I guess we know what I'm buying.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, that quote from Ike made me laugh out loud. True then, doubly true today!

dbG, I too try to stay far away from HFCS. We know of diabetes in my mother's family for four straight generations, including my own. I'm a Splenda kinda girl. Have to be, as sweet tea is a major beverage all of its own in this part of the world.

Do yourself a favor and buy the BTB reasonably priced pillows. I've had the expensive ones and I've had not-so-expensive ones that were much better. The synthetic down is good stuff.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

dbG - You are buying the pillows?!?!?

Posted by: Kim | October 3, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Not really, that was just kind of my slink-out-of-the-room line. My friend would be horrified if I did. :-)

I figure cash will work. The BTB is a teacher who moonlights at the store with the registry (for the discount). Cash will let her use her discount and get whatever she wants.

I'll be doing a big cookie tray for the shower, and making the BTB's and bridesmaids' jewelry, so those'll be the personal gifts.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Wilbrod, I also enjoyed the quotes...I guess Ike knew a thing or two.

dbG - For that wedding I went to in Philly last spring, the BTB had a 5X7 frame that was listed for 210 smackers...my husband and I laughed then! Amazing.

Slyness - you are not kidding about the sweet tea in this neck of the woods. The hubby and I were surprised when we moved here that one has to specifically order "sweet tea" or "unsweet tea". It's a good thing that diabetes doesn't run in his family, because he has become addicted to sweet tea, which seems like syrup to me.

Posted by: Kim | October 3, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Um, S'Nuke, if you have those beautiful bed pillows on your registry, I just want to say that I loved them.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

dbG - that sounds like the best gift of all.

Posted by: Kim | October 3, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Kim, well, this is Philly also. And the 5x7 picture frame they registered is $295. :-)

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Holy Moly!
Have you gone to sleep yet, dbG?

Posted by: Kim | October 3, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Close to it. On my way out to the gym now, I should be in bed by 7 PM.

Everyone @ work got beeped last night, so I was the only *awake* person there. I guess I need to cut the caffeine back even further. :-)

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

You'd have to have one he|| of a picture to put in that $295 5x7 frame. I'd say anything short of an original Annie Liebovitz would just look ridiculous in it.

Cash is always a good idea. It's funny... we used all $350 of our 1983 wedding gift cash to buy our first microwave oven. It lasted until sometime last year. The replacement cost about $60, is half the size and way more powerful and fancy.

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The Sweet Tea Line runs through southern Virginia. Below it you get sweetened tea if you don't specify a style. Above it, they look at you funny if you ask for it "unsweet."

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm going, I'm going . . . straight to he11 for making fun of the BTB! Notice, *not even real silver.*

http://www.swarovski.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/SCO-Web_US-Site/en_US/-/USD/SW_DisplayProductInformation-Start;pgid=i35I6_movKNSR0EEKtMsEUMK0000Od5JXwQh;sid=kUvmNtnVqwbENp7RkIznELDfsnNGKp-kNYygR30Snu0rZw==?Banner_ID=06000837.350&nsctrid=ODlyaadkZacyNDY1Mzk5&DeepProductSKU=626600

Okay, there's a treadmill with my name on it. Thanks for laughing too.

Posted by: dbG | October 3, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

OMG.. it's expensive AND ugly!

Posted by: TBG | October 3, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This has been stuck in my craw all afternoon (yes, I have a craw, but not on weekends or with formal attire), and if no one speaks up, where will we be, but I really detest the 'black science' reference. Unless we're talking about Banneker, Carver, Drew etc.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 3, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I think Loomis meant to analogue biological weaponry to the Black Death or the Black Plague, rather than racial lines.

Glad you spoke up, LiT. I remember once I was playing chess with a friend, and another male friend suddenly started yelling "kill the b**!" I looked around and as far as I knew, I was the only female in the room. "Ex-cuse me?" I said icily.
"The queen...You could apply it to yourself if you want." he said in an "it's your choice" tone.
"No thanks", I laughed and continued playing.

I'm sure if more people checked before being offended, the world would be a happier place.

And ironically, I would be HIGHLY insulted if Carver, Banneker, etc. were labelled as "black science".


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

You know LiT, that phrase has been nagging at me, too.

Isn't there a better word or phrase to use in its' place?

Anyone have any ideas?

bc

Posted by: bc | October 3, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Um, I'm pretty sure that "Black Science" refers to science done within the "Black Budget," as in "Black Projects" -- that is, the portion of the Federal budget that is obscured by a black box in the published budget so that mere tax-payers and citizens should not have an inkling of how their money is spent. It is not "Black" as in an analogy to the Black Arts of magic, nor is it a reference to the race of the practitioners.

But, I agree that a better term would be prefereable and would avoid this sort of tiff. Perhaps we should call it what it is: Secret Research and Development, SR&D.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 3, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Or Cloak and Beaker Science, SciTim?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Registry???

At this point, I think it's limited to a single style of T-shirt for FofSN to wear:

All together now...

"I'm With Stupid"

Should we splurge and get the one with the rotatable arrow, in case I don't know which side to stand on???

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 3, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's a tip Scotty you may want to skip the frame in dbG's link.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

"Black Programs" refer to the very small subset of classified R&D that is not specifically broken out in financial statements. Such things represent a much higher security level than secret. The usual nomenclature is a "compartmentalized program." This means to work on them you have to be on a special list.

In my own personal nonbinding opinion far, far too much classified R&D is compartmentalized. It prohibits free and open communication *within* the classified scientific community. It's as if as soon as a technology gets interesting it gets locked away in a little room.

Yet compartmentalization is viewed by some as a mark of prestige. A badge that indicates that said program is so frickin' important that it needs Ultra Super Duper protection.

By the way, Ultra Super Duper is a technical term. Use it with care.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

So nobody but a poseur would ever use the term "Black Science". They would say "compartmentalized research".

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

So does that make me a compartmentalized canine, RD?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 3, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Is there any sweet tea in Virginia, yello? I guess I had located the line at the NC/Virginia border, but from what Kim says we have to include Hampton Roads in the sweet tea belt. In my experience, the sweet tea belt is NC, SC, GA, and northern FL. When I'm outside this area, I have to remember not to specify.

According to Mr. T, there are three kinds of tea: sweet tea, real sweet tea, and d@mn good tea. I put 20 packets of Splenda in a gallon; he adds at least two packets to each glass of that he pours.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, using the criteria of being frickin' important, Wilbrodog, I would have to say yes.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 3, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, you all know already that I abhor the whole wedding biz. For pity's sake, dbG, you can't really think you need to cave-in and participate in this madness?

No money. No registries. No $200 picture frames and no $80 wine-glasses. In the good old days you brought your smile and good wishes and genuine happiness for the couple, and also stood in as a community witness (to let the two under consideration know that *promises are serious*) to the wedding, along with a little something (usually something you found very useful in your own life) as a token of love and affection.

I am completely appalled by couples asking guests for cash to pay for a "destination honeymoon" or a mortgage down payment, and more than appalled, shocked, at the idea that people ask other people to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms and particularly-coloured clothing for their "destination wedding."

In my day, we had weddings nearest to our most friends, which involved about 40 people max.

I am an old FRAT.

But I still think it better to think about the life together, and the family/friend nexus, than to think that all weddings are royal, and all brides zillas, and all guests *banks.* It is one day in a long life, and the family matters more than a chance to be a STAR (for about 4 hours).

I am clearly worked-up about this, and will retire and lower my blood-pressure.

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Hampton Roads area is definitely in the sweet tea belt, Slyness. Is Splenda one of the best inventions ever, or what? Get this--the hubby puts BOTH Splenda and sugar in his tea...he has a very specific recipe for a gallon...2 Red Rose tea bags, 1 Constant Comment tea bag and a boatload of sugar and splenda....it's syrup!

Posted by: Kim | October 3, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't get your undies in bunches, folks. The term has been around for awhile. I offer this article from 2001 in which the term "black biology" (or black science) is used by a professor at Stanford, Steven Block, formerly of Princeton, in a Science Daily article.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118064816.htm

If anthrax, smallpox and other "conventional" biological agents aren't frightening enough, Block also raises the specter of "black biology" --- a shadowy science in which microorganisms are genetically engineered for the sole purpose of creating novel weapons of terror.

Here's another example:

http://www.icusafety.com/agenda/February2006.htm

NOVA, along with authors Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg and Pulitzer Prize-winner William Broad, trace the veiled history of "black biology" and discover the frightening truth about the United States' involvement in the development of biological weapons, devastating Soviet biological stockpiles, classified government research projects and a world totally unprepared for germ warfare.


Posted by: Loomis | October 3, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I would probably be dead if it weren't for Splenda and Equal, Kim. OTOH, I don't need my tea to be so sweet it instantly creates fuzz on my teeth.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, After two gigs as a bridesmaid in one year, I swore to my sister that if given the option, I would be married by Elvis in Las Vegas.
She laughed. I said, "You think I'm kidding?"


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Me too! Fortunately, I need't, as my husband (as he now is) and MIL (as she then was) and parents (as they still are) agreed with me.

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

The sweet tea line runs through Virginia but the boundary is pretty fuzzy. It's been known to be has high as Richmond.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I once worked for the gov'ment of the USA as a civilian flunky. At one point, the building I was in had an "open house." A chance to go in all the offices and look around a bit. When we entered the "black" offices --- every single things was covered with sheets!

Posted by: nellie | October 3, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I would think Richmond is old South enough to require sweet tea to be standard.

Me too, Wilbrod. When my first husband and I were married, my mother made my dress and the dresses of the three bridesmaids. Nothing outstanding for them, but the price was right. She and her best friend catered the reception themselves, making all the food and decorating the room. It was lovely. My wedding to Mr. T was equally simple and lovely. And my gown was PINK, not white.

Younger daughter entertains dreams of a backyard wedding. Older daughter, well, I fear for everyone's bank account if her boyfriend ever proposes.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

This sweet tea of which you speak appears, to this New Englander, to be simple syrup with a hint of tea flavor. If I lived down that way, I'd be using a lot of Splenda, like Slyness, and a lot more tea flavor.

On the topic of weddings and gifts, when #1 daughter got married ten years ago, she got 80 percent cash as gifts (she certainly didn't ask for cash). I think a lot of people give money as it is a lot more useful than an elaborate silver gravy boat (one of my wedding gifts, way back when - the ugliest thing I've ever seen.)

Been too busy to be around here much or even half-way keep up. A belated congratulations to Yoki on her new position. Forgive me if I've forgotten anyone else who has had wonderful news lately.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 3, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I love you.

This is one of the things that has always confused me. For me Washington DC has always either been the Northest of the South, or the Southest of the North. I love eating breakfast in DC hotels, because they offer grits (see dissertation on love of grits some months ago); that is clearly a bit Southern; also one can get some corned-beef hash and a biscuit. Sometimes white gravy. Excellent food. Southern!

Yet, yet, I have a friend who owns some land in Maryland (and very beautiful it is, too, in the Cacotin Mountains) who has dry-stone fence-remnants built by Confederate prisoners, because Washington and Maryland were Northern.

So I'm thoroughly confused about the place of DC in the North-South divide. I love the fact that there is South-food, and North-politics. How does that work, day to day?

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, it was my sister who made my dress and the dresses for the wedding party. My dress was (at the time) what I thought really beautiful, palest cream silk, cocktail length and off the shoulder - the cost $200.00.

I remember trying to keep the registry affordable, I still like the items I picked and can look around and pick out the gifts in the house we were given. We also received cash but I would have much preferred gifts, we received one really "interesting" hand made ceramic piece from a dear uncle. It definitely was not my taste but the love it held was deeply appreciated and I thought of him everytime I saw it tucked in its shelf in the basement office :-)

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Nothing to do with Sputnik, but maybe of interest anyway:

http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2007/jul/07_0038.htm

EDITORIAL
The Cradle to Prison Pipeline: An American Health Crisis
by
Marian Wright Edelman
in
Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal published by the CDC.

"Like the victims of a crippling or wasting disease, once drawn into the prison pipeline, massive numbers of young people lose their opportunity to live happy, productive lives, not because of festering microbes but because of years spent behind bars."

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 3, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, we might want to educate our daughters together!

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

dmd, bless your heart.

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Dave, that makes my heart ache.

I would like to point out that we are nearing 300 comments on this Kit. Usually that means somebody or everybody will get cranky. Hope not. We did good over the weekend when we went over 300 without rancour.

Posted by: Yoki | October 3, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

dmd, my mother's best friend collected lace. She invited me to go through her collection and pick out what I would like for my dress. It is an antique Alencon lace that is stunningly beautiful. My dress was a Vogue pattern with that lace gathered around the scoop neckline. We went with an ivory silk/wool blend; there wasn't enough fabric on the bolt for a floor-length gown, so it is tea length. That was fine for a noon wedding. Neither of my children can get into it.

I registered for simple white stoneware china and got loads of it (it was cheap, even then) and am glad to have enough when Thanksgiving rolls around.

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, let's gather them up and meet halfway to have the discussion! It would be a fun trip, although I don't know how much good it would do. Younger child already doesn't want a big wedding, and older child isn't the kind to listen to reason.

:-)

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Should mention that daughter #2 has been engaged for, oh, four years I think. Two years ago they came close to setting a date and in the process, she bought a wedding dress online for $100. I was sure it would be made of cheap fabric and look like he11. I was very pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be very well made of good materials and, although it is a bit too long, it looks great on her. Now if she will ever decide to actually use it, I'll be hemming it for her. Maybe it I just hem it now, she'll get motivated again. ;-)

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 3, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

If I didn't know how hard it is to mold young people I would consider raising a child who wanted a large wedding a grave parenting failure. However, at this point I'd just be happy if Frostson found someone to spend his life with, with or without a ceremony, and Frostdottir is convinced she wants my traditional Chinese New Year menu and the cake I made for her aunt's wedding. If she also asks me to make the dress I will know she is trying to push me over the edge and make writing a check to cover a family-only ceremony and flight to Hawaii look easy.

Just doing some drive by boodling as we try to get two weeks worth of family stuff done in one. So forgive the lack of response to so many interesting comments.

Question for boodlers with recent car shopping/just looking experience. If you were in the market for a small, fuel efficient, new car. What would you pick? I have already discounted the relative safety of driving a big vehicle-so I'm talking Honda Fit size.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 3, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, have you looked at Toyota Echo? That's a cool little car. Dunno if I'd go for a Prius right now. According to Warren Brown, the battery technology is on the edge of significant change so it might be sensible to wait.

Here's the link to Warren's columns:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/03/24/LI2005032400122.html

Posted by: Slyness | October 3, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC 'if' I just hem it now. I'm out of practice here.

Frosti, my Mazda 3 is small and gets about 24-28 mpg. Not super great mileage, but a nice little car and it feels safe and solid.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 3, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Slyness your dress must have been just lovely.

Frosti I am not a car expert but I do have a small car, a Pontiac Vibe, it is trustworthy and with the rear hatch and fold down rear seats can also transport a lot of stuff. It would be, I guess a mini crossover? Mileage could be better though.

Posted by: dmd | October 3, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Yoki,
JFK said it best: Washington is a city with northern charm and southern efficiency.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 3, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking of a Honda Fit for myself, or the Toyota Yaris (which has replaced the Echo in the Toyota product line), when my current car (150k miles, 27 mpg) finally gives out on me. The Fit and the Yaris achieve 75% of the Prius fuel economy (34-38 mpg) at a much lower price, with tried-and-true (and therefore maintainable) technologies.

I am convinced that Warren Brown simply has a problem with the Prius. He continually knocks it for, among other things, the fact that the batteries eventually will give out and he says "what will happen to them then?" Well, NiMH batteries already are recycled. I think it's quite likely that the high concentration of recyclable material in a car-size battery would argue that they would be recycled. You won't get any money back on it, but at least the batteries won't become toxic waste in a landfill. The Prius is not the solution to all problems -- but it's a help, and it's on the market right now, unlike the other solutions that he favors. He likes to deride the Prius as being about bragging -- "look at me, I'm greener than thou!" I think the Prius justifies its substantially higher price than the Fit or Yaris by being an ordinary-size small sedan, instead of a micro-car, and being a reasonably high-capability vehicle that nevertheless gets great mileage. Plus, If I'm going to fork over a pretty penny for the car of the future, I darned well want a car that makes me feel that I actually have gotten the car of the future.

I have heard that the Prius is due for a change in battery electronics, allowing the batteries to charge up closer to maximum and to discharge deeper, thus extending the fuel economy. Do you want to wait until it's available? It depends on whether you need a car in the near future, or merely covet one. I'd kind of like to hold out for the Chevy Volt -- a plug-in hybrid with enough range to get me to work without the internal-combustion engine activating. However, they are not supposed to reach the market until 2009, and I have grave doubts about getting any American-made vehicle in its first model year. Our car-makers have not earned themselves a good reputation for first-generation quality.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 3, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

"South" is as much culture as geography. DC and Maryland both had similar economies to the other Southern states, but the political realities started differing around the Civil War.

I like Mark Twain saying that washington DC was bound and determined to represent the weather of all the states... often in a single day.

At least the local food also represents nearly all nations now. Whether it represents them well, is open to question.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 3, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the feedback on Black Science. It would have bothered me for forever if I hadn't spoken up. Nice to know there's a plausible Kevin Bacon six degrees involved from black budgets to black science.

Not sure one or two people using the term should be cause to label something so. If that were the case.....well, I digress.

But I liked Ultra Super Duper.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 3, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm still surprised black dogs are important enough to be compartmentalized canines. When do I get assigned the cloak and dagger stuff?


Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 3, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim,
I got the impression that the Chevy Volt's fabulous batteries still need to be developed. Presumably GM thinks the development can be done quickly, but I'm guessing that my short list for Next Car will continue to be non-hybrid for now. I need a small station wagon, a category that evidently includes the new Nissan Rogue (a Sentra, really), Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, and the Mazda 3.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, I didn't put my name on the post.

Regrettably, I don't have a Black Dog to put in my wagon. I've seen pickup trucks coated with magnetic-backed camouflage material for hunting season. Could stuff like that make a little wagon stealthy?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 3, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I think you must mean the Catoctin mountains in Maryland. My parents bought a little house down the road from the Catoctin Zoo back when they moved east. What a culture shock that was...The address actually had RFD (as in Mayberry, RFD) and it took 5 years for people to chat with my mother in the grocery store, but they loved it there. It's a beautiful area and both my parents are buried next to a peach orchard near the town that couldn't figure out what hit them when our family of 9 arrived. My sister and I hightailed it back to California after the first big snowstorm, but we both came back in a few years and we each met Mr. Right nearby. We still call the Catoctin area home.

Ok, I'm rambling now...good night everyone.
Good morning, rainforest.

Posted by: Kim | October 4, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the lead in on cars, *Tim.

I'm heading down to Joel's hometown to do some racing this weekend, so I may be out of touch for a bit.

*Tim, you may want to hold out for the new model Honda Fit due out soon. It's a little better all around than the current model, from what I hear.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 4, 2007 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey boodle just catching up a bit. Some interesting things going on and I always enjoy catching up. I love reading your posts Science Tim,I always learn so much.

I had a good day and a half off, slept most of it, I enjoyed time with good friends, spent a lot of time at the river, caught the biggest fish of the year the other day.

I was paddling upriver and was heading for a flock of geese, some in the river, some not. They moved slowly at first, but when I got closer they all got in the water and took off. The flutter of their wings,the sound of them, The grace and power put forth to get airbourne was awesome. I sat there mezmerized as I watched them fly upriver in formation and out of sight. It was quite a moving thing to experience. I had seen geese take off and land before, but never at water level. It is a sight that everyone must see once in their lifetime.

Life is very good sometimes.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 4, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

"If you were in the market for a small, fuel efficient, new car. What would you pick?" Test drive a Mini & see if you like it - a great package for urban efficiency & good for long distance too.

& here's the Sputnik's transmission...
http://www.benandjenniferlevasseur.com/SputnikAudioVisual.html

Posted by: drauz | October 4, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

did dbg say she's baking cookies again? *turning on fax*

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 4, 2007 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Inside-the-beltway news.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee
on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is scheduled to hold a hearing on the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195) Thursday, October 4, 2007
at 10:00am (Eastern Time).)

This bill fixes the language in the ADA to read as prohibiting employment discrimination ON THE BASIS of disablity, rather than against disabled person, which requires the person to prove he's disabled enough to qualify.

As a result, lawyers and judges have been steadily narrowing the definition of "disabled" and in one ruling against a deaf truck driver who was unable to drive interstate commerce after he lost his exemption to the law, the judge ruled he was "not disabled enough in this circumstance, but would qualify as disabled in all other aspects the ADA covers."

Imagine if a black person had to prove he was "black enough" to be potentially discriminated against; otherwise he couldn't successfully sue for racist slurs and other harrassment plastered all over his lawn. But sure, he could sue in other circumstances as long as it wasn't employment-related.

THAT is the kind of logic that exists right now under the legal interpretions of ADA. I exaggerate not.

http://judiciary.house.gov/committeestructure.aspx?committee=7

I have read the bill and it does clarify matters considerably for a first draft. I am trying to find an online link to it for others to read.

All those who are represented by people in Congress-- make your voices heard as you see fit.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 4, 2007 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Just got some great news! Yoki & I are going to the Jersey shore while she's here! I'm sure I'm going to have to keep her out of those high-stakes tables in Atlantic City. Although we could also go to Lancaster.

Comcast, my ISP, failed, so I had to drive into work at 3. Apparently I've driven in light traffic before but never *no* traffic before. Previous personal best, 35 minutes. Tonight, 27 minutes. If only it were as easy all the time.

LA, will fax some asap.

Posted by: dbG | October 4, 2007 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, you and I are SO in sync on weddings... Simple and sweet, that's the way to go.

dbG, we salute your devotion to the Boodle. :-)

*almost TGIF Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 4, 2007 5:05 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, do I get the award for never-die Boodler? :-)

Back @ home after starting that process-which-must-be-fixed. Comcast is back online, they've credited my account $2.80 for the outage at my insistence.

I thought I'd heard you were doing the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas for your wedding.

I guess I'll log back into work. Sitting here with a glass of iced New Orleans-style coffee (thanks, RD) and the Boodle, it doesn't sound so bad.

Posted by: dbG | October 4, 2007 5:49 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, YOUR opinion of weddings really doesn't matter. What does FofSN think? That's what really matters! ;-)

Morning, everybody! Hey, Cassandra.

Posted by: Slyness | October 4, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Slyness;

Yes, ma'am. :-)

I'm just agreeing with FofSN on this, really.

*faxin' dbG the Golden Mouse for Indefatigueable Boodling*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 4, 2007 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks much for the feedback and comment to Achenbach, IVANSMOM, and TBG.
Regards, MNK

Posted by: Mike Klein | October 4, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, your story made my day. You can tell more here, should you wish.

I will simply say, that I knew a great cat named Sputnik. And, me somewhat cat-phobic, admired him.

GWE--glad for you on the nature moment. Ain't it great to have a National Geographic experience instead ofjsut reading about one?

Posted by: College Parkian | October 4, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

ScottyNuke - You can't just rubberstamp all the decisions, for this will indicate that you do not care. Nor can you disagree, for this suggests incompatibility. The path of least risk is to enthusiastically and spontaneously express strong opinions that somehow manage to always be in complete harmony with the secret desires of the bride.

Piece o' cake.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

For SN, who already knows this: tell her that you see the wedding details as such lovely icing on what really matters, the cake of your life together and how you will be heroes to each other...etc. (RD, see what you started with the Cake reference?)

And, take out the trash, remove spiders to the great outdoors, and learn great crock pot recipe or two (see Mudgkins' Manual for Magnificent Meals and Marriages).

Posted by: College Parkian | October 4, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

*scribbling notes as fast as I can*

Always be in harmony with the crockpot...

Spontaneously express spiders...

Put icing on the trash...

Uh...

I KNEW I shoulda taken shorthand!!!

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 4, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I am officially nominating David Ignatius' column as a "must read." His columns never fail to impress me. And what is really amazing is that I seldom know precisely what his views are before I read them. This stands in stark contrasts with other columnists on the "opinion" page whose views on just about any subject are woefully predictable.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/03/AR2007100302001.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

To the planner goes the spoils. *If* I ever got married again, I'd be happy to show up to almost anything someone else planned.

Come to think of it, that's what happened the first time. I was in grad school @ Madison and my BFF in Philadelphia picked out the place and we sent a check. I bought a vintage Victorian shirtwaist and skirt, my sister came up with an underskirt and spent the rehearsal dinner day bleaching, starching and ironing it for me. Bridesmaids were responsible for a vintage-looking dress of their choice.

Done!

I wonder if this method ensured my BFF would still be unmarried and I'd be divorced.

Posted by: dbG | October 4, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

When I am feeling cynical I sometimes express the opinion that the secret to a happy marriage is for the husband to do all the things that the wife doesn't want to do.

And to do them well.

Fortunately, I seldom feel that cynical.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

RD-that's not cynical, it's true.

I second the must readness of the Ignatius column. Thank you RD for pointing it out. I've been a fan of soft partition. But, I find myself agreeing with him that whether or not we think it best or inevitable the Iraquis need to come to that themselves, bloody though it may be.

Thanks for the car tips everyone. Mr. F has taken the day off work today so we can rearrange some landscaping and to look at cars for Frostdottir. She has saved enough for a downpayment and proved her credit worthiness to the Bank of Dad so he has agreed to finance a new rather than used car.

The outrageous fecundity of Florida never ceases to amaze. The planting bed I refurbished in June has knitted together, and needs just a few wee plantings here and there. Now we must tackle the hibiscus hedge that was planted too close to the house. Every other plant, with dinner plate sized blooms, will be removed and replanted in a corner which will screen our back porch from the street, the others moved the 3 feet away from the house where they should have been in the first place. I am going to add starting a campaign against foundation plantings planted right up against foundations to my to do list, right after I persuade the world to abandon mass plantings of Bradford Pears. (stinky, weak things)

dbG-you are my hero for getting that $2.80 out of Comcast.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 4, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

New kit coming later this morning. I'm going to say 10:30 but I wouldn't set your watch by it.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 4, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree with RD and Frosti about Ignatius. He's always a good read, and he makes such sense. What a rare bird among pundits, one with common sense. And with the experience and expertise to back up what he says.

Posted by: Slyness | October 4, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Ignatius was indeed good today.

For something a bit different, here's a funny column from Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper.
http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200709/200709280006.html

This look at the Dear Leader's diary accompanies an analyis of North Korea's protocol for the South Korean president's visit. The North grades its welcomes by the importance of the visitor's country. President Roh was treated as the leader of a third-world country. Ouch.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 4, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I've known for some time now that RD was a gentleman and a scholar but his 8:08 proves that he is a most excellent groom as well!

Ignatuis is the best, I usually try to catch Chris Matthew's Sunday a.m. show when he or Andrew Sullivan are on as they are so..so...so commonsensical. (That's a Georgette Heyer word). TBG- should there be a period after that parenthesis?

This post assures that the new kit will be posted any minute. I have an excellent track record recently of posting and then poof!

It's good to have Frosti back! I love Bradford Pears but my husband hates 'em. He attributes my admiration to the fact that I grew up in the So. Cal. desert.

Posted by: Kim | October 4, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Foundation Plantings gone wrong: oh the horror!

Posted by: College Parkian | October 4, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Foundation Plantings are not to be confused with Foundation Garments, which I have been led to believe, are something, like, totally different.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

And never mind the Foundation Series, RDP.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 4, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I just read Weingarten's daily update.

They're fueled and ready, Joel. Just say the word.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Good catch ScottyNuke. And given Asimov's rep, who knows if there was a hidden meaning.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 4, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten,
Hurricane Frances helped me with the Foundation Planting problem. Giant philodendrons that had run amuck at the corner of the house were sufficiently damaged that I had a good excuse to rip them out, then build a walkway encircling the house, separating it from landscaping.

The only problem is that the new seaparated-from-house thicket is nearly as big as the old one, led by a huge beautyberry bush that popped up spontaneously. Young palms are growing up from under it. Then there's hippeastrums (leftover Christmas amaryllises), an Everglades palm, a Simpson stopper bush, a potted fan palm from the Dominican Republic, a huge bromeliad with a spectacular pink flower, and a few little coonties.

It would take years to create such a mess in a cool-temperate climate.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 4, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. So late getting here this morning. I overslept and boy, did it feel good to do that. The g-girl went with her dad yesterday,so grandma gets a break. A much needed break.

Morning, Slyness and all.*waving* Where is that Mudge? Is he still on vacation?

Will someone please school me about the comment Bill O'Reilly(sp?) made that he is trying to take back, I think?

Did the folks that robbed the bank in Philly get away or did they catch them?

And of course, you know I must know, where is Miss Spears?

Out the door this morning, but trying to wait for the cable man. My cable boxes are giving me a fit, and the cable company does not want to give me new boxes. They're determined to make me keep these, but when he shows up today, if he doesn't have new boxes, he's taking the old ones with him. You have to reboot the things every time you turn on the the television! And I don't know how to do that except unplug the thing. I am a complete dummy when it comes to this new technology, including computers, and lots of other stuff.

It is so cloudy here, but no rain. Big clouds, huge clouds, but dry clouds. It is so quiet here in this apartment without the g-girl.

Have a great day, friends. Hope to talk later.

Nani, I hope you are doing well. We still miss you much, especially your great stories.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 4, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

new kit

Posted by: dbG | October 4, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

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