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The Campaign's Dirty Little Secret

[My two cents about the campaign.]


One of the dirty little secrets of the campaign trail is that the candidates repeatedly lapse into substantiveness. Maybe it's just early. Maybe in a few weeks, the candidates will be more disciplined about sticking to posing, sniping and smearing.

Overheard yesterday after a Bill Richardson speech: "It was substantive. It wasn't just sound bites." This surprised observation came from Michael Libbie, 57, an advertising executive and radio host.

Richardson had just given what his campaign hyped as a major address outlining the biggest global threats of the 21st Century. It was big picture stuff, very Al Gore-ish, with a touch of E.O. Wilson: "Every species is entangled with the lives of others. As we slash away individual strings, it is increasingly likely that the entire web will collapse."

Which is hardly a sound bite, and is more substantive than, say, your typical campaign attack ad ("My opponent hates children and small furry pets, including bunnies").

The presidential campaign has surely seen a few non-substantive moments. Candidates make verbal slips, and are certain to see that on You Tube. We have talked about the marriages of the candidates, and why someone got divorced, or didn't get divorced. At one point there was a kerfuffle about why Barack Obama didn't wear a flag pin on his lapel. A book said Hillary Clinton listened to an illegally recorded audiotape of political opponents -- in 1992! All this stuff is out there, but it hasn't yet overwhelmed the news coverage. It's still possible for voters to find out what the candidates claim they believe and what they insist they'll do as president.

Rudy Giuliani isn't shy of throwing an elbow, but he was in expository mode this week when he appeared before the Club for Growth in Washington. He laid out an uncompromising free-market, low-tax, anti-regulation, anti-lawsuit agenda, interrupted by only a few opportunistic swipes at the Democrats. (He accused the Democrats of wanting to be more like the French, pre-Sarkozy.)

He ruled out any increases in Social Security taxes or taxes of any kind. He said the estate tax should be eliminated both for philosophical (it's unfair double-taxation, he said) and practical reasons (it'll drive capital to other countries). He said Social Security needs some kind of private equity element. Giuliani's America, as he described it, doesn't seem to have any economic problems that the unfettered free market can't solve.

It would be interesting to see him discuss that one-one-one with someone like - (picking a name randomly - Hillary Clinton, who has argued on the campaign trail that "unfettered" capitalism can be disruptive to people's lives. There's a real ideological difference here. Her stump speeches are filled with references to policy proposals, government initiatives, legislation she's sponsored, and all the many ways that a Hillary-run White House would fix, or at least tweak, America's problems. Toss a question at her -- say, on what can be done about autism -- and she'll go on for five or six minutes, enumerating her multi-pronged autism agenda.

Barack Obama is another candidate with a weakness for turning thoughtful and nuanced on the stump. Last week in New Hampshire, he finished a speech and prepared to shake hands, but one voter held up a little sign saying simply "2013." Obama recognized it as a question: Why wouldn't he vow to remove all American soldiers from Iraq by 2013? Obama could have ignored it, but he saw an opportunity instead for a full exegesis of his reasoning.
Post columnist David Ignatius recently implored Obama to let go a little more, to let it rip. And Post reporter Alec MacGillis this week perceptively noted that Obama's message of creating a "new politics", when many Democrats are furious about Republican policies. An Obama aide said the senator has never been a fan of the sound bite, but it remains to be seen if he can hold the line on that when he's a distant second.

Everything will evolve in weeks ahead. This is still October 2007, when nuance and detail can survive on the trail. Political temperatures will rise as the fall progresses and winter comes upon us. For the news media, conflict is still the coin of the realm. The presidential campaign is still an emotional game; metaphors are more powerful than position papers. A process that begins with crunchy position papers may wind up pivoting on whether someone sighed too much in a debate.

Our own fascination with political battle -- with politics red in tooth and claw -- will favor the sharp jab and the uppercut over the colloquy.

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 19, 2007; 2:46 PM ET
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Next: General Election Taking Shape?



Posted by: Jumper | October 19, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot to hate about bunnies. They spread diseases, reproduce promiscuously, and eat Mr. MacGregor's lettuce.

I just feel really argumentative today.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Ya think, Joel? Throwing mud and drawing blood have always been the American way in politics, but maybe, just maybe, we can have some real debate this time about what we really want and need. Should make for an interesting year and a half.

Not that the length of this campaign isn't ridiculous.

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

you mean a year two weeks and two days.

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

We're off to the Upper State Band competition on Saturday. Foot ball tonight. Baseball Saturday Night. Au revoir. Hasta lego.

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

How many more Nobel prizes in economics will have to be won by game theorists before politicians "get" the profound changes in basic philosophy that hae been engendered by once obscure mathematical theorists? First the math and science geeks "got it," one supposes that soon bright schoolkids, comptrollers and accountants will, people who watch SFTV, and then everyone, with politicians and media people (excluding science reporters, who "get it" now) coming in dead last: the world is chaotic, unpredictable, nonlinear; central planning is inexact, and the "market" is an idiot. Oh, Obama, predict the future 9 years in advance, please. Silly rabbit.

Posted by: Jumper | October 19, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

That is,
"White collar conservative flashin' down the street
Pointin' their plastic finger at me, ha !
They're hopin' soon my kind will drop and die but uh
I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high !"

Posted by: Jumper | October 19, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

But not your bunnies, RD. I'm sure they are the sweetest, kindest lagomorphs ever.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I always used to look forward to the day I could vote, so I could have some impact on the leadership and therefore the direction our nation takes. But there are so many old people and nonthinkers out there that my vote is cancelled out many times over. Not to mention the fact that I live in a blue oasis (Austin) in a desert of red (Texas), making my vote count less than a redneck doin' 'rithmetic.

Howzabout we legalize herb and tax it to pay for SCHIP? Empty out the prisons of nonviolent offenders and let them work and infuse our economy with much-needed cash?

Ohhhh right, too many old and nonthinking people. That candidate would never get elected, especially if he/she wasn't trying to convert the unwashed masses to the "right" religion.

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

Jumper, at some point the real economy has short shrift with the various political versions of economics.

Long ago, I hypothesized that had a Soviet economist, circa 1960, been sent on a study trip to the US, he'd report back that the economy was really a marvel of under-the-table central planning, done by the big capitalist families. These days, it's the Laffer Curve that you still have to put up with. Or the notion that the country would be better off protected by high tariffs.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 19, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

None of these politicians are coming up with new ideas. They're just picking and choosing among the current ideas and hope they pick the right horse.

Twenty years ago a friend of mine proposed giving the military an exclusive monopoly on the growing and distribution of commercial marijuana. That would solve so many problems. Recruiting, drug violence, tax revenue. It's a great idea that won't ever be adopted by any politician hoping to ever get elected.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

In order to do anything different with respect to marijuana, Yello's right. You can't have a politician who wants to get elected or reelected. You've got to have someone like our Fearless Leader who has no future in politics but can interpret laws as he wishes and enact policies by way of executive orders. So King George, how about it? Instead of legalizing torture through your amazing grasp of semantics, focus your evil powers on the plant that will not be tamed.

Posted by: Gomer | October 19, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

James Watson's been fired.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 19, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Consarn revenooers!

Posted by: Jumper | October 19, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing at "consarn," Jumper. Haven't heard that one in decades.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Replacing the marshmallows with chocolate marshmallows and pot is something different you can do with respect to marijuana. Lotsa chocolate sprinkles is nice too.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 19, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

SCC in Rice Crispie squares.
And I forgot to sign.
What a memory!

Posted by: Boko999 | October 19, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Gomer | October 19, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I think you had too many special ingredient Rice Krispie Squares already today.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Hello, Yoki. I've been meaning to say that for two kits now, and just keep forgetting.

Gomer, Fearless Leader isn't going there. The plant that cannot be tamed. I like it.

Mudge, I read your response to yello's comment. I responded under the kit before this one, not realizing there was a new kit. I like your answer.

I don't believe the unity and togetherness in this country during 9/11 had anything to do with the Republican party. It was people hurting and sticking together because we had been attacked, and had lost so many of our family. Where do people get this thing wherein they try to make these folks "gods"? They are not. They're men, men. It's almost as if the Republicans are the only ones in America with good sense. The rest of us fall in the retard category. Now I know some of us do, and I am referring to myself first and foremost, but gee, not all of us.

I know I am a dollar short and a day late. I don't try to pull any punches otherwise, but there are smart, funny, and wonderful people on the other side of the aisle, with just as much courage as any one.

The Bible states that God is no respecter of person. So that tells me that when he handed out brains and brawn, Republicans and Democrats did not come to mind. That's a cubby hole man made up. A little tiny box. Why? So man can feel superior.

If my understanding of the news is correct, the religious right are not falling all over themselves for the Republicans. I believe we might have problem, you think?

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

My bunnies are psychotic. Yet I love them. I'm stupid that way.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Joel is posting his "2-cents worth" here as well. Have a great weekend everyone.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Just read a Wikipedia article on the history of tariffs in the US
which contains bias, but I increased my knowledge of the particulars of the subject by about a factor of 8, so it was time well spent. I do remember hearing about a Smoot prior to this.

I'm about fed up with those glory hoggers Crick and Watson. Everyone knows if was a woman who figured out the structure. There was of course Rosalind Franklin, and I will not bow to pressure and agree that her role was somehow revisionist or wrongly exaggerated in later years. No, the chemistry (the atomic counts) was known, and the geometry of the structure itself was THE critical issue. Which did not occur in either of those two men's heads at any time - it was given to them.

Posted by: Jumper | October 19, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

KB, I did not realize you were trying to stay away from the Achenblog. Please don't do that. Is it a test or are you sincere in this wish? We need you, don't go! Whose going to give us that insightful and honest take on stuff, with just the right amount of humor thrown in?

Have a great weekend, everyone. Just really enjoy yourselves and your family. And don't forget to give God some of your time, not necessarily in the order of this post.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Boko, I was wondering where you were. Guess we just have to bring up the relevant topics (been awhile since we had the best lead guitarist discussion). Speaking of guessing, I got 8/10 on the gangster quiz. I'm as amazed as you are - only knew one for sure. Maybe I should get myself to a game show, quick! Where I'd blow it, because I'd get nervous.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 19, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The evening news states that Hillary Clinton have received thousands of dollars from poor people. In other words, these folks have put their few dollars together to support Hillary Clinton. Check later on, and more than likely someone will find this is a bad thing, and they will eat her(Clinton) alive. Probably something on the order of taking bread out of children's mouths.

Does anyone know what the Justice department official said that has rankled Obama?

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The political process could boiled down to a simple question, "how much is a pound of ground beef, the seven percent fat kind"? That might leave some folks speechless. It has in the past.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Cassandra. Here's a link to the Obama/DOJ story:

I hadn't heard about it at all.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 19, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, mostly.

Well, this official says that minorities die first, they don't get to be elderly like the other race. He assumes we should not worry about Voting Rights because I guess all of us will be dead, minorities that is. According to his comments, I'm suppose to do the math, and the math supports his comments.

Puts me in mind of the fox given the job of watching the hen house or something to that effect.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I posted in JA's two cent in the TRAIL. Do I need to put another two cent in the Achenblog?

Posted by: daiwanlan | October 19, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

But of course, daiwanian. Make it three cents, and you have a nickel.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Sure, daiwanian, throw your tuppence in.

I'm guessing most Boodlers have departed for the day and the weekend. I won't be boodling much until some time on Sunday, because we're leaving early tomorrow morning to go visit my dying uncle.

So everybody have a good weekend. Go, Redskins.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Go in peace, Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I've had a lovely day. I washed and cleaned, mopped, moved stuff, just been real busy today. I am so tired now. The g-girl is back, had to pick her up from school. She ran around the courtyard, I limped around the courtyard. While mopping, accident-prone and slippery floor, I fell. Just laid there for a good while, until I could get up. Boy, did it hurt. Leg still feels funny. Other than that, the day has been good.

The rain keeps bypassing us. We had a little this morning, but it has been mostly cloudy here. A little wind, but pretty warm. I've made my bed, and it just keeps calling me. I going to respond, I can't help myself.

JA, I think these last kits have been really funny and good. I can always count on a smile when I read your stuff. The part about looking like "laundry" at the airport early in the morning had me cracking up. I'll bet you look awfully young that time of morning running through an airport or maybe slumming through an airport. Do you have a fan club yet? Not me, but I can imagine there are some females out there that wouldn't mind trying to straighten up that fly away hair? Oh, you're married right? My bad.

Other than science books, do you read editorials by other writers?

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I am sorry. Good thoughts your way, and the wife.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - that's the real hard part about getting older. People you know and care about start dying off. Best thoughts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

have a good weekend everyone. mudge, hope your visit goes well.

if i post anthing this weekend, tell me to go work on my dissertation.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 19, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

re: Afghanistan, count me in as thinking the mission was more than justified, and a decent outcome is still possible.

There is some reason for optimism:

Frosti, interesting your tipping point was the Bamiyan (sp?) statues; I'm not sure that was a casus belli, but for me it also showed the true nature of the Taliban. It was around that time the had the plan for issuing the Hindu minority saffron patches for them to wear "for the own protection".

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 19, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmm... dissert

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 19, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, my thoughts go out to you and your family.

TBG have fun on your road trip.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Kb, thanks for posting that comics link.

THIS is one action movie I would watch.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 19, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

SoC, the poll is interesting, lets hope the things keep improving. I smiled at the 72% thinking women were better off than in 2002, while that is great, that 2002 bar was very low.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Night, boodle.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, take care of that leg!

Mudge, my sympathies. RD said it for me too.

Con == ABD
Pro == PhD

Hmmmm. Last semester of my MS I rewarded myself every Monday for writing >= 14 pages over the weekend. I'd take a little trip to a silversmith and then a swing through the 2ndhand CD place across the street. What can I say? Will work for almost-immediate gratification. If I had kids, they'd be dressed in rags.

Where's your small reward? Surely it's not depriving us of your great company!

Posted by: dbG | October 19, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

My New Year's Resolution (the first school day after Labor Day) was to go to all the positively reviewed 'grown-up movies' on opening weekend. So far I've seen 'Michael Clayton' and today 'Burn, Baby, Burn.' No one does working class Boston better than Dennis Lehane, and Ben Affleck's direction of the film is very sophisticated for a first attempt. Casey Affleck as the private investigator is first rate. An excellent performance. The crowd scenes are 100% accurate, and the low life types in the film are grotesquely spot on. And the accents are great. It really takes a native Bostonian to get it right.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 19, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading "Discarded Science: Ideas that seemed good at the time..." by John Grant and the mention of "What the #$% bleep do we know?" made me think of Dreamer and that I haven't seen him on for a long while.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 19, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

SofC-Bamyan was the tipping point for me because it was such an in your face statement of disdain for all but the Taliban view of the world. Basically, I'm pretty intolerant of intolerance.

Some quotable material from the fall issue of Parameters, in an article titled "Strategic Communication."
First: "...a US officer returning from Iraq said privately: "We plan kinetic campaigns and maybe consider adding a public affairs annex. Our adversaries plan information campaigns that exploit kinetic events, especially spectacular attacks and martyrdom operations. We aren't even on the playing field, but al Qaeda seeks to dominate it because they know their war will be won by ideas." We aren't even on the playing field!! (but we're making progress, right W?)

And: "A perceptive Singaporean diplomat and scholar, Kishore Mahbubani, was asked two years ago what puzzled him about America's competition with Osama bin Laden. Mahbubani replied
'How has one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world's greatest communication society?'"

Read the entire article here-

Posted by: frostbitten | October 19, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Great quote, but has Mahbubani REALLY listened to Bush?

I've commented on the historical prevalence of teaching or lawyerly backgrounds in US presidents and how necessary it is for a president to be able to present a coherent argument based on actual information.

Unfortunately, self-serving emotional rhetoric rarely translates well overseas to win minds and hearts.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 19, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Been reading. Been busy. KB - it depends on what you mean by real? Grin.

Marching band is a foldable wormhole into other zones marked by fierce and shiny moments of glory and lots of boring down time on the bus.

I am the asthma-bag keeper. The CHIPS insurance thing is maddening to me, especially as I examine the inhalers in my possession, mark them with Sharpie'ed initials, and sigh at the number of canisters that are nearly empty. Several kids do not inhale correctly; they really need to use spacers to get the medicine aerosol into their lungs.

About half of the kids I talk to do not have insurance. They carry nearly empty inhalers and these kids are not on preventer meds. Sigh.

I have extra inhalers at home. But, that would be wrong, technically. Sigh.

Off to bed and another early day.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 19, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-you've hit on one of the author's point. The message must be coherent and credible.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 19, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry to hear of your uncle. Give comfort and cheer.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

CP. Sigh.

Remind me again why "socialized medicine" is an evil? Works OK for me!

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, "socialized" medicine isn't evil. The problem is with the nomenclature. I hope we work through this mess someday. Like, soon after January 20, 2009.

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes Yoki but remember prescription drugs still must be purchased, we have great insurance through work but for those who don't have it the cost of prescriptions can be so expensive.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I will never forget the first time I learned that we in Canada have "socialized" medicine. We were on vacation and had met some people, I think I was about 10 years old. The father in the family was a doctor and I remember him making a comment about us having "socialize medicine", the sneer in his voice was audible to me even thought I had no idea what he was talking about. I did however know a little about socialist societies and didn't believe I lived in one, I was very confused :-)

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, Dreamer is most definitely a her girly person. (a.k.a. TomFan, a.k.a. Achenfan.) But yes, I don't know where she's been--running around Hong Kong, I suppose. Hope she's doing well.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Ah. It, her, his, thon, s/he, etc.

I give up.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 19, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am a "her girly person." I love this. Women, stand up!

I don't know if any of you have read The White Bone, a Canadian novel about elephants in Africa. All the elephant-families are named "Her-*" or "She-*" and one can trace the familial relations by the prefix. I just loved it, though it broke my heart in the end. I'm a recovering Gowdy-reader.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Backboodling, RD, I was all for going to A-stan. To me, the Taliban blowing up those historic Buddhist statues would be justification alone to go John Wayne on them. Among this administration's worst moments was losing focus there.

It is six years later. I was listening on the radio to someone describe the cognitive dissonance to having been in Kabul and flying back to the U.S. Basically, time travel from the 11th century to today.

We went there to destroy Al Q., had some success, but didn't bag the big guy. We are not going to change that society through a military presence. All the remaining bad guys went into the mountains or over to P-stan. When we leave, and some day we will have to leave, all will return to "normal," such as it is.

I originally just wanted to point out that things aren't looking real stable in our GWOT "partner" Pakistan.

BTW, the Redskins are going to win this weekend. Pray for our Colts, however, they have a real trap game in J-ville on MNF.

Posted by: bill everything | October 19, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Kim, happy anniversary! Hope you have a great time at the winery.

Posted by: rainforest | October 19, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I take me now to bed,
To sleep off all this
nonsense I have said.*

Hello and goodnight dear Cassandra. Hope you sleep well tonight and don't get up too early. Give that g-girl some kisses and hugs from me.

*Note the excellent pentameter! I rock (not often) (In fact, almost never.). I'm patting myself on the back tonight. And isn't it sad, reely?

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

What gives you joy can never be sad, Yoki.
I have often noticed high-achievers never forget their back-pats for themselves. It's a knack I haven't really learned, at least I can't manage to jump around that much anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 19, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Silly gnome. Jumping around in joy is really easy. Just step away from that computer, buster.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 19, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, a thread that included references to the active and retired Glaucoma Test Pilots [motto: Let's light this candle!] amongst us.

Mudge, my thoughts are with you and your family this weekend.

Good night, Yoki, and anyone still Boodling now.

This means you, LAlurker: please get back to that dissertation, ma'am.


Posted by: bc | October 19, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks rainforest. 20 years this doesn't seem possible! We have a couple of wineries, Monticello, Ashlawn, a few naps, several good meals and maybe a hike or two planned.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.


Posted by: Kim | October 20, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

An interesting discovery about stress.

BDNF is actually a protein that promotes brain growth and learning, and also is found in the peripheral nervous system, the retina, the kidney, and the prostate.

This is a surprising finding, because BDNF levels are generally found to be lowered during depression.

This could be interpreted as that the brain is overlearning fear from the various encounters; this is just a physiological marker of unbalanced learning, and the true cause may be yet unknown.

This does track that younger people (especially teens) are more apt to develop PTSD, probably because their brains are still growing.

Yehuda 2002 associates PTSD stress with a nnorepinephrine spike while cortisol is low. This is a pattern associated with facilitated learning in animals.

Low cortisol levels MAY predispose a person to PTSD.

Sigh. Sometimes the reports miss the real story altogether.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 12:50 AM | Report abuse

* in my best S'nuke imitation* G'morning, boodle. *sleepy eyed Grover waves* We won the football game ugly last night, 27-0. Heading off to band competition in a few minutes. I ran into some friends last night that adopted two boys, one of which had bleeding in his brain as an infant. It turns out that part of his CNS is damaged to the point that it causes seizures on a nearly daily basis. He's most likely to have surgery in an attempt to, in a worst case scenario, remove some brain tissue in anattempt to stop the seizures as meds aren't helping. Keep these folks in your prayers.

Happy anniversary, Kim and Gomer.

Travel blessings your way, Mr. and Mrs. 'Mudge. Peace be with you all.

Posted by: jack | October 20, 2007 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Well done, jack. :-)

*slowly caffeinating Grover waves*

Travel safely, 'Mudge.

And substantive discussion? In a political campaign?? Boko must have slipped his Rice Crispie treats into someone's travel bag...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 20, 2007 6:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm observing Mars RIGHT NOW! My work day won't be over for another 4 hours.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 20, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

I have a suspicion this story could blow up into something big:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 20, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

S'Tim, I just got this mental picture of you peering through a telescope diligently studying Mars, while some Far Side-type being sits on Tharsis peering into a monitor, watching you.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 20, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

*Tim, please keep an eye open for DT while you're Observing. Never mind, I'm sure you already are.

Mudge, while I agree that the story you've linked to could be big, I think this sort of thing happens all the time. It's natural for people to expedite events and actions to their advantage. Leaders of any kind become proficient at this in order to advance their postions or agendas.

I think this is may be news for awhile, but unless there's some sort of a smoking gun, it may become a "he said, she said" situation that won't result in anyone being held responsible.

My $.02, anyway.


Posted by: bc | October 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

If you want to read the best coverage of Gitmo you've got to read the Miami Herald.

Here's the Oct. 5 story on Col Davis leaving and why:

Here's the Oct. 16 piece on his replacement:

The Herald site has handy links to all its Gitmo coverage on the left side of the screen.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 20, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: frostbitten | October 20, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I didn't even know Kim and Gomer were dating. That's how out of the loop I get around here. Congrats anyways. I did know that Dreamer was of the distaff persuasion, but only because I saw the very first BPH pictures.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 20, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodlers. The frost is on the pumpkin this morning; all is right with the world and the dogs are delighted at the cold weather.

#2 finished her run as Yelena Andreevna in Chekov's Uncle Vanya last night; as we were leaving the theatre she ran to have a quick look at the call board; what do you know, she has the lead part in The Toy Box, a play written by one of the profs at the University. First rehearsal tomorrow. I'm of mixed emotion; while I am thrilled for her that she is getting so much performance practice, I'm worried about her having time for her other academic work and sad for me that I will (continue) to see very little of her. Well, we can't hold them back on that account, can we?


Uncle Vanya info is here:

Posted by: Yoki | October 20, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Good Mornin All !!
The leaves here in west by god went from green to peak in a couple of days( I guess the lack of rain is responsible) I had to stop on my way to work 3 times yesterday and get photos of all the beauty. I was driving and saying wow and look at that and Wow! Yes, I do have a tendacy to talk to myself a good bit.

I am off in a little bit to all my favorite overlooks and maybe a couple of neighbors houses to get as many photos as I can. That is if I can get out of my own yard first.

A roadtrip to the mountains this weekend would be quite enjoyable, maybe you can even catch a falling leaf or two.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, friends. Had to rewrite that, I'm still on morning time. So sleepy, but can't go back to bed, much work to do.

Thanks, Yoki, and hello to you. The g-girl sends her best. We're getting ready to wash hair, that's always a fight. By the time I finish that, I will crawl to the bed.

Mudge, I can imagine when this administration is out of office, we will cringe at some of the things done there. And some of it we won't know for a long time. I've just about concluded that Americans love this kind of stuff. The darker, the better. And I speak of actions, anything else of that color, they detest.

There's a item on the front page about nooses. I just did not have the heart to read it now. I may later on. Why is so much hate coming through now? I realize it have been there, but why now does it become bold?

Slyness, Scotty, and all.*waving*

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I hope you got the right amount of rain, Cassandra. I hoped for about double what we got in Charlotte and that was not much.

Like Green, our leaves have done a huge color change after the rain. The dogwoods are a pretty red, but I know it's stress.

Cassandra, perhaps the rotten noose behavior is a "last gasp" sort of thing. I think the haters are getting identified more and more lately. I also suspect much of this is just rotten kids who think they will enjoy the powerful effect they have with what to them is a symbol of no particular weight. Of course they are wrong. And being a bad kid once (although I wasn't particularly a bigot) I know kids will often regret these things deeply if they ever grow up. And lots of them will, eventually. I sense change in the air.

A year without cheese? This experiment began a month ago, and it's on my blog today.

Posted by: Jumper | October 20, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder at the mega-bags of preshredded cheese at the supermarkets.

As for vodka, Cooks Illustrated magazine (no, I don't subscribe) found that their spaghetti sauce tasters could tell vodka sauce made with cheap vodka from the stuff made with good vodka. They attributed it to the lack of nasty by-products. I'm suspicious.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 20, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Excuse the messy writing this morning.

"I realize it has been there,......

We're just coming from the park. I had to literally drag the g-girl away. Kicking, screaming, the whole works. I am a bad grandmother. She needs her lunch.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a major cheese freak-- I only have a very few types of cheese that I will even eat. I think eating cheese straight like in jalapeno poppers or cheese sticks is gross.

While I've liked doritos in the past, Plain corn chips with salsa are so much better that I've never looked back since.

Still, a year w/o cheese would be a tall order under present circumstances. I'd say 5 pounds of cheese a year is doable... I do like cottage cheese although I'm not sure that should count as cheese.

Instead of seeing it as a no-cheese year, I'd learn to eat and cook diverse types of asian cusines. They lack cheese, except for paneer in Indian cooking, so they're a big favorite of mine.

Vaya sin queso, Jumper.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

You know, I think that Mr. Robinson is right about Hillary Clinton. I believe some folks will vote for her just because she is female, and a woman president is way past due. I think because of that, right now she is the front runner. And that it just might be nice to have female President, Lord knows I just don't see how she could do any worse than some of the men that have held the office.

As for the religious right trying to make up their mind which candidate to throw their weight behind, their choices seem limited via Republican party. And this party has really shown them a lot this year, and most of it not good.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I gave up cheese for Lent one year. Longest 40 days of my life.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 20, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

A bit of nonsense as one poster defined it.

The article on the front of the Post dealing with nooses is a must read. I am not surprised that the State of North Carolina is the place where several nooses were found hanging, at a school no less. And for those that keep calling an incident where there is a noose hanging, a joke, believe me it is not funny. Too many people have lost their life swinging from the end of a rope in this country, so for me, and I suspect others, it is not a laughing matter.

I'm still wondering why so many at this time. What is going on that has spurned more of this kind of activity? And why doesn't our President speak on this? That just might have some impact if he spoke out against such behavior.

It hasn't been that long ago in this area that a couple of men where found hung from a tree. One was in a nearby county, and the other was in this county. The one in this county, so I'm told, was listed as suicide. Most people didn't buy that story because of what was happening in the man's life.

I think a noose is the coward's way. It is intended to frighten the living, and that one swinging from the rope, well we know his end. Fear works so much of the time. Good people will do nothing because of fear. It paralyzes people.

Occasionally I write letters to the editor of the local newspaper here,and sometimes people comment. The comment can be favorable or not so. I haven't written anything in awhile, and people will ask me why. I tell them I'm deaf, I can't hear these mean folks when they come up behind me. And those that comment in a not so good way are usually Christians. They're talking about the Bible and Jesus, but it's okay to hate as far as they're concerned.

Someone said the most racist moment in this country is at eleve o'clock on Sunday morning, and it is so true, it is sad, but it is also true.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

It's the moment when America is most segregated.

People do not worship together as they could. There are services segregated by language, and churches are often segregated by race, ethnicity, or neighborhood. This is a shame because churches truly do help build communities.

I have seen churches where the opposite is true, and it IS possible.

I agree that a noose is not a joke; if it is, it's a mean-spirited immature threatening joke. Which is to say, not funny.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I think this is an elephant.

Posted by: Boko999 | October 20, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Just a reminder that this isn't exclusively confined to certain patriarchial institutions.

Those people seek out position of authority and access to children. They, whenever possible, make themselves popular to avoid suspicion. They exploit others' trust, not just their victims' trust.

Background checks only show whether they've been caught and prosecuted before.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Drizzle, heat, and no significant rainfall today. Yuk. Managed to finish cutting the grass anyway, and planted 3 palms, one from Madagascar, one from southern China, and one from Pakistan or Afghanistan (!). Next, the new Florida coontie bed.

I live in a deeply segregated county without much of a middle class. The contrast between the customers at Wal*Mart and the Publix supermarket near the beach is astounding.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 20, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Why now? It's the question that keeps popping up in my mind. What is going on or has changed that has prompted more of this kind of thing? Could it be the presidential election that coming up? Something is triggering these actions.

Wilbrod, churches really do help a community, and foster good will among people. I don't know why it is as it is, but then I never understood why the Klan uses the cross as a symbol of hate.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Is there a middle class now? The politics of a Republican administration usually leaves us with just two sects of the population, rich and poor. And the odd thing about that is that the middle class usually votes Republican, and these are the folks that change their status. Many of us vote against our own interest. But then, no picture is complete without that little teeny thing that won't go away, racism.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

We got a few drops of rain yesterday, and today, sunny and warm. Not cloud in sight, at least not a rain cloud. And boy do we need the rain.

Some kids were out this morning at the Advance Auto store, holding up signs for a car wash. I'm thinking, hasn't anyone heard we're a little short on water. I don't think they had many takers.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Anybody ever heard of Foundation of France? I believe this is one of those bogus emails that wants personal information.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It's from scottish tradition, apparently, Cassandra.

I don't think it is a symbol of faith at all. You want to light a cross, string christmas lights across it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I read that piece about molestation and abuse in the schools,and saw the map. It is widespread. These folks move from one school to the other, and many times the schools aren't aware they have a problem. And sometimes the victims are treated even worse by the justice system. These kids are real young, which means when we send our kids to school they just might not be protected.

There used to be an elderly man that drove the bus for a transportation firm here, we don't have public transportation, and he always had a young boy riding with him. I would ask people why isn't that child in school. I mean he did this in daylight, did not try to hide it. They finally fired him, and I have no idea what happened to the boy.

Always something to worry about.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 20, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

They're not aware... or choose not to be too aware. Too often a teacher may be dismissed and never charged, or paperwork not followed up on, and so may be free to reapply in another state to teach.

I know of a principal that was fired for animal abuse, public drunkeness, and possible sexual improperity with the staff. He went up north to work (not in education) for a while. It was only after a year or two, that when he applied to a principal's job another state that required his former state license be valid for employment that the state got around to revoking his license.

There'll always be gaps in protection, but it's interesting that prompt action to suspend his license wasn't taken along with the firing.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't eat cheese much, and when I do it comes back to haunt me. There are times when its just going to be tolerated, like lasagna. Or the occasional slice of cheddar. I love cheddar.

I'm lactose intolerant. I miss ice cream. And yogurt. I miss cheese. I even miss cottqge cheese.

Posted by: dr | October 20, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Back from fall carnival at church, I was in charge of the food. That meant that I made sure that the folks who knew what they were doing had what they needed. We had barbeque cooked on the grounds. It's a lot of work but the kids had a good time, and it was such a perfect day for it.

The sexploitation of children is so terrible. I think I would have killed someone who abused my daughters, with my own hands and without remorse. Did everyone see the story about the Canadian who was arrested in Thailand this week for abuse of boys? Good police work there, I hope the guy never sees the light of day again.

Posted by: Slyness | October 20, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I had no idea burning crosses were a Scottish tradition - yuk. The article that Boko linked to was good. I don't know that anything like "truth and reconciliation" will occur here - probably too long past for a lot of people. I think most people want to deny it and move on - but that's not working too well. And I'd have to say that cross burners and noose hangers are a tiny minority. I heard John McWhorter on NPR the other day arguing that we ought to not report things like nooses - that telling the media gives the perpetrator power - but I don't know that I agree with that.

I've been battling (meaning I'm waiting) a server problem for work all day - very, very bad - still unresolved. I'm in need of some laughs.

I love cheese! I could live on cheese - and bananas. No wonder I'm overweight. A friend of mine (a skinny guy) used to eat bananas when he wanted to gain weight (he went to the Iditarod several times and wanted more body fat). Throw in some potatoes, and bacon - and ice cream for dessert!

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 20, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I hate to interrupt this serious discussion with my frivolous comments, but I must agree with greenwithenvy that West by God is the place to be this weekend.

The colors are astounding. At one point, my husband said it looked like we were driving through a cartoon.

And the best part about traveling to the mountains to see the fall colors is that once we return, we get to see the colors change here at home.

Posted by: TBG | October 20, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Frosti... do you have gray hair by any chance?

My daughter revealed the other night that she thought the old song went, "The old gray mayor, she ain't what she used to be..." and I figured you could use that as your theme song if you want to.


Posted by: TBG | October 20, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Here I am again. The old 'do I watch or not?' If I watch, they'll lose, and if I don't watch, they may lose. Either way, I'm responsible.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 20, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

No, you are not responsible. Why don't they watch themselves and win? :-p.

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

I thought I had missed the game, because my local paper listed it for the afternoon. But I'm tied up with work stuff, so I haven't had a chance to turn it on. I'm neutral, so it shouldn't matter if I watch or not. I hope (since I'm leaning toward Boston in boodler solidarity).

Ha, TBG!

Oh, and here's the link to the John McWhorter commentary (no transcript, though, just a summary):

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 20, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you're seeing fall colors, TBG. Hopefully, there will still be some left when we get to the mountains a week from tomorrow. :-)

I will admit to being a cheese freak. There are normally four to six kinds of cheese in my refrigerator at any given time, sometimes more. My recent favorite is fresh goat cheese I buy at the farmers market in the mountains, made by the lady who sells it. She milks the goats herself. Fabulous stuff. Extra sharp cheddar is the house cheese; when I don't have that, I'll be dead. My favorite cheese to nibble is Stilton with mango and ginger; I can only nibble because it's $15.00 a pound.

Posted by: Slyness | October 20, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure you're NOT a Wisconsin Native, Slyness?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

The only cheeses I don't like are the runny cheeses. Muenster, bleu, cheddar (the sharper the better) provolone, swiss (baby or Lorraine is the best). Anything but American (processed for our Canuckis). That is not cheese. It's flavored vegetable oil. Ugh.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 20, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

We went on a road trip today to a nursery in Connecticut that "S"'s boss had told him about. The catalog we had was fascinating, gorgeous tropical plants like I've never seen before. So we take a ride, through Providence and into CT, beautiful foliage (further along than ours) and get to the place and it's on a side street and looks rather run down and modest. We shrug and go in and wow! Small greenhouses interconnected with very narrow walkways and plants growing everywhere. Plants wrapped around the supporting poles and creeping across the ceiling. Plants seeming to grow out of the floors, huge flowers of shapes and sizes like nothing I could even imagine, never mind describe. A lemon tree with fruit the size of softballs, fuzzy flowers, trumpet shaped foot-long flowers, a begonia with white polka dotted leaves. Fabulous place. Bought a few small plants and have my fingers crossed that I won't kill them.

I hope Maggie is watching the game, it's going pretty well so far. :-)

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 20, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Maggie, it's ok to watch - I think Boston's got it tonight.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 20, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I love provolone cheese. I worked in the school cafeteria when I was in college. The sandwich I made for myself was always pastrami, turkey, cheddar and provolone. I very seldom find provolone cheese here. The more popular cheeses here are cheddar and mazzorella.

Posted by: rainforest | October 20, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Boston has the Tribe alright. Right where it counts. On the bright side, the Palmetto State has a new Upper State class 1A/2A champeen: The Lewisville High School Marching Lions! *phweeeeeeep! phweeeeeep! Ahoooogah! Bwooooooomooomp! Bwoooooomooomp! Ticker tape, confetti madness* Our daughter is one of the flutists. Onward to the State Championships. BTW, I like the Indians' chances tomorrow night. I understand that the likely starter is ohfer in his past 10 starts and is under incredible pressure to pitch TGOHL. BOOMBoomBoomBoom BOOMBoomBoomBoom BOOMBoomBoomBoom BOOMBoomBoomBoom BOOMBoomBoomBoom...

Posted by: jack | October 20, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, Dice K isn't ohfer in his last 10 starts. I thought I remembered Boswell's comment. Wrong again. He's "pitched poorly in seven of his last 10 starts and is under inhuman scrutiny from" the foreign press.

OMG. The Indians' Borowski needs to throw some pitches. Right. Ths icing on the cake would be to bring in a reliever that has something in the vicinity of a 5.5 ERA. Perfect logic. *looking for my TV brick*

Posted by: jack | October 20, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Jack! That's wonderful.

Hope it's a good game tomorrow. I usually hate pitchers' duels, because they're so tense, but they can be things of beauty, especially in the postseason. Lopsided slugfests are less riveting, but easier to take if you're rooting for the sluggers.

I just hope the problem at work is cleared up by gametime...

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 20, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

This talking about cheese is making me miss pizza. We only have 3 pizza joints here. Two of them make ok pizza. The other is pizza hut. Pizza Hut makes atrocious pizza.

Posted by: rainforest | October 20, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey, rf! Try a four cheeser: cheddar, swiss, provelone and muenster on a hoagie bun, top with tomato, toss under the broiler to toast the bun and melt the cheese, and top with just enough cole slaw to make it interesting. Mayo is optional. I might recommend a sprinkling of oragano and cayenne pepper for flavour and heat.

Sheesh. Borowski is on the hill. Turn out the lights and kiss me goodnight.

Posted by: jack | October 20, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, mostly. Have you checked out lately? There's a taper's section that has various live offerings and a couple of GD radio hour selections from the archive. If you play with your browser, you can have it for background music.

Borowski is in rare form. He just gave up a single, a double off the Monster and a sac fly RBI to Ramirez. *lobbing dirty socks at the telly in lieu of the TV brick. *

Posted by: jack | October 20, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Gagne, Oh No !

Posted by: M | October 20, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Game 7 Tomorrow night. OMG.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 20, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Sleep well, "Sweet Caroline" dreams Maggie! :-)

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 20, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

TBG-now that I've dislodged the cashew I snorted I can tell you I do have gray hair. I love misheard lyric humor and "the old gray mayor ain't what she used to be" is so appropriate tonight. I put in an appearance at the annual firemen's dance and was home by 10:00PM.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 20, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I could live on good crusty bread and stinky cheese alone, but I'd rather try that than living without them. Mr. F dreams of raising dairy sheep. I must say it's tempting because of the cheese making options.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 20, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

But you ain't ready to be put out to pasture yet, right?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 20, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Not yet Wilbrod, though hitting the hay sounds good about now.

Fondue boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 21, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Psst, yellojkt: foldable holes now on the market:

dr, you're not lactose intolerant, you just refuse to put up with lactose's crap.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 21, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jack. I'll try that.

Posted by: rainforest | October 21, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Mudge will really NOT like this latest bashing of Philly. Not only do philly cheesesteaks pile on the pounds...;_ylt=AmrB58WcW1UIvwMTSzPBgnSek3QF

Sadly, DC was up there in the contest, probably because of all the Philly immigrants, or the higher average age of the denizens?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Mornin All!
Two great Hitchcock flicks on last night.
The Birds followed by Psycho, also there was a replay of the Terps vs the Cavs. I just couldn't watch after hearing the game on the radio.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 21, 2007 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Morning, everybody, hey, Cassandra.

Congratulations, jack, on the band's win. I'm sure it was lots of fun.

Wilbrod, Wisconsin is a beautiful place but I'm an eighth-generation Tar Heel. :)

So Virginia beat Maryland. From the score, it must have been quite the game. Enjoy, VA fans.

Posted by: Slyness | October 21, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I think that radio broadcasts of sports broadcasts, by the right announcers, are the bomb. Motor Racing Network is pretty good at this, although not as good as in the past. The World Series on the radio is great.

Posted by: jack | October 21, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

A year without cheese would be a year without oxygen for me... FofSN keeps telling me "cheese is a condiment," and I don't have to bite my tongue, as it's usually occupied with some good sharp Cheddar, or Swiss, or Feta, or Parmesan, or...


And I'm VERY glad J.D. Drew really started earning his free-agent salary last night. Wonder of wonders, Gagne even had a 1-2-3 9th inning. Amazing what a 10-run lead will do for a pitcher's stuff.


McCarver still needs to retire. ;-)

*waiting-for-the-Pats-and-Game-7-and-wondering-if-tomorrow-will-be-a-sick-day Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 21, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Jack I have always loved listening to sports on the radio. I grew up in Baltimore listening to Chuck Thompson and Bill O'Donnell( Aint the beer cold).

C'mon Scotty, don't you want McCarver to tell you more about so and so who's newphew was the bat boy for the Pawtucket team during that big Nor'Easter that blew through back in 56?

Sheesh, I think McCarver was the big Nor'Easter because he sure is a wind bag.

Off to bed so I can wake up for the 1 o'clock games.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 21, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Interesting stuff re. cross burnings and nooses - I'm sure someone pointed out on here that such things could constitute acts of terrorism.

From the American Heritage dictionary: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

Hmm. If cross burning (as part of an organized demonstration or not) is protected under the First Ammendment, does that mean it's a *lawful* threatened use of force or violence...? I suppose it *is* technically different from a noose left somewhere, but I don't see the implied threats as very different.

Re. cheese, I don't see myself giving it up completely, even if I became lactose intolerant. Cheese is my heritage, and I'm passing that on to my kids for better or worse, just like *my* parenting and my parents' parenting before me.

A mixed day sportswise for me yesterday, with the Sox winning, and the Terps losing with less than a minute to play (bah!). My mancrush Lewis Hamilton didn't get the pole for the Brazilian GP (Error, I miss you, buddy), but qualified second, hopefully he'll be able to finish well enough to claim the World Champonship this afternoon. And my Washington NFL Franchise plays the Cardinals today, which while looking like a relatively easy game on the surface (the Arizona Cardinal QB situation is not a healthy one), the Cards *always* give Washington and Joe Gibbs fits (I wonder if the Cards called Jake Plummer this past week?)

I saw that USC pasted Notre Dame despite having a big scare in turbulence during the flight to Indiana.

Speaking of rough rides, I see that the Russians managed to get a crew home from the ISS safely despite a glitch during the deorbit and reentry of the Soyuz vehicle, resulting in a landing 200 miles from the target area:

I don't believe any luggage was lost, and a ferry service was provided to get the passengers back their destination. If you missed Florida by 200 miles the wrong way with the Shuttle, that'd be some scarily Risky Business. On the other hand, the pilots could fly it out of trouble to some degree.

Ah, enough for now.

It looks like it's going to be a good day.


Posted by: bc | October 21, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! Happy Sunday. The nice thing about going away Friday night and returning on Saturday evening is that you still have half a weekend left at home!

jack... Congrats to the Lewisville band! I'm sure it was your bus-driving skills that turned the tide in their favor. My sister played the flute in high school and at UNC--in fact, she was at the bottom of the leg of the R that spelled C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A on the football field.

I never found a "group" in high school, so I was thrilled when my son found theatre. The drama kids are smart, funny, clever and oh so different. The nice thing about theatre--like band--is that there's an actual location in the school for them to make home.

I'm glad my daughter's got the same interests, as it's easier for me to forge my way (and her too) through a maze I already pretty much know. I've even got a placeholder on the Drama Boosters board for when DofG gets to HS next year.

Speaking of theatre... Yoki! Tell your #2 that the G family is quite impressed with her freshman star quality. Quite the accomplishment to be cast as the lead twice in a row.

DoG has decided that she wants to direct a one-act play in her 8th grade drama class this semester. She said, "I always have a definite idea of how it should be done and this way I can make everyone do it my way!"

Posted by: TBG | October 21, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse



missing closing parenthesis in graph 8.

btw... pull up your fly and there's a... i don't wanna know... stuck in your teeth. just sayin'.

[this drive-by editor-like wrist-slapping has been brought to you by Barbasol, the beard-busting foam I don't use for fear of setting a precedent]

Posted by: martooni | October 21, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle. I should have been online yesterday to jump to the defense of cheese. Cheese is my standby food; if there is nothing else that appeals, cheese fills in. All kinds of cheese, including the Basque Ossau-Iraty and the French Tete de Moire. I begin to feel insecure if there aren't at least three, and preferably five or more, different cheeses in the house, along with some fresh baguette and an olive or three. As a promotion, someone once handed me a fridge magnet in bright red with white text, "Hands off my Cheese!" The Yoki family members laughed and laughed when they saw it. I even like runny cheeses, though not when they "are runnier than you like, sir."

TBG, DoG sounds like a born director. Anyone who has a definite artistic POV and a clear idea of the proper approach and tone *should* be given the scope to express it. Such a crucial part of the dramatic discipline. Just tell her to please not abuse the poor playright, which is too much a part of the tradition :)

Posted by: Yoki | October 21, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Yoki... my husband once said, "If we have cheese, we have dinner."

Posted by: TBG | October 21, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

*Takes a left turn out and scurries away from the tyrophilic convention.*

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Was this the first tale ever of feta attraction?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Without cheese, there'd be no ricotta gnocchi, no lasagna, no italian cheesecake. Thing 1 and Dear Child would waste away to nothing.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 21, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Tyrophilic is a Googlenope. At least it was until now.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 21, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ah, it's spelled Turophile!

To be a turophile is also to be a halophile.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Yoki-you have hit on why I do not discourage Mr. F in his plans to raise dairy sheep. A childhood friend of his runs a family sheep dairy operation in the Basque region of France. I would gladly be tethered back to farm animal life in pursuit of that nutty golden perfection. There are enough dairy sheep farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin to have a co-op to market the milk so I wouldn't have to make all the cheese myself. Did I say make? I think I meant eat.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 21, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-you remind me of the startling discovery about 5 years ago, via the official MacDonald's web site, that the cheese on a quarter pounder with cheese delivers more sodium than the large order of fries. It is a seldom consumed treat, and the kind of food for which the term "junk food" was coined, but heavens I love a quarter pounder meal about twice a year.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 21, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Happy Sunday, Boodle.

Mr. Moose and I could not live without cheese.

Speaking of cheese, I will be making Farmer's Pasta later today. It's basically an Italian mac and cheese with provolone, fontina, mozzarella and parmesan. Incredibly decadent and heavy, but incredibly delicious.

I don't think we will catch much of the late football games because we will have been rendered unconscious by large amounts of cheese. Oh well, that's what the weekend is for, right?

Take care, all!

Posted by: Moose | October 21, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Stinking Bishop cheese, like, rules.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 21, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Pace Flanders & Swann (The Elephant):

I suffer from turophilia,
My fridge is a cheese bank.
When we sip the wine and cheese,
It's me you'll have to thank.

I'll bring a new variety,
A round you've never seen.
Perhaps a version of goat's milk,
Or one more blue than green.

Lactose intolerant you cry,
Remove that tray from me!
I understand your pain I say,
My indulgence is set free!

Posted by: Yoki | October 21, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Turophile seeking oenophile for languorous lunches.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 21, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

There's a stinking Bishop on the landing, Mum.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I am in favor of cheese, save the falseness of processed "cheese food." Growing up in my house, I was familiar with Velveeta in this way: my dad used it to grease fly-fishing line. I thought it was like WD40 or STP but for fishing.

One Friday eve at Carla Grscknsky house, I watched Mrs. G prepare grill cheesed sandwiches for our repast. I was thunderstruck when she started slicing the Velveeta loaf for US TO EAT.

I begged off, saying that I was needed at home immediately.

Good job, Jack, on the band excellence. May I brag also? We won our competition too, but were totally shocked to beat out Ballou High School in DC for the grand champion award by one point. They sound better, really, but they did not drill on the field at all in their field show. Hey, 'tis MARCHing band..... we were also told that our tune shifts anchored by the percussion were the best heard in the last few years. That made CPBoy very pleased as he is in the drum line.

TBG and Yoki: been a theater parent times two, and closing up the parenting gig with marching band. Still sewing, though, since both costumes and uniforms are very high maintenance. Now I know how to sew spats from scratch and make helmet plumes in a jiffy while on the bus.

On kit: I don't like "substantive" as a word at all. Good words in the kit include:

kerfluffle or is that kurfluffle

Posted by: College Parkian | October 21, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Feta attraction"-- I like it...

Now available with boiled bunny!

Posted by: Gomer | October 21, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

jack, forgive me: I meant to add my congratulations with my morning comment.

Well done, and good luck with the finals.


Posted by: bc | October 21, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Moose, spare any of the Italian Mac/Cheese? I would happily brave Route One traffic for some of that deliciousness.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 21, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

CP, I also never grew up with velveeta as food. Nor Cheez-whiz (I tasted it once, no thanks).

I do believe my friend may well make a nice cheesy dip with melted velveeta, sausages and salsa. I never checked the ingredients and would prefer to remain ignorant. It tastes cheddary and spicy and meaty.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The year without cheese will be over... next year. I didn't say I wasn't going to start again. I bet when that day comes, the saga of saga will be very good. And salty.

Posted by: Jumper | October 21, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

To cheesy political campaigns.

Posted by: Just Say No | October 21, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

CP -- another nice word, I suppose is "ephemeral". Two of my least favorite words are "tweak" and "synergy". They make me itch.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 21, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Can I tweak your nose, firsttimeblogger?

Those two words have been prostituted no end by bad business writing from managers, so I'm not surprised they're itchy words.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

i've been pretty productive this weekend, and i'm off to the library shortly.

socal, however, is on fire again. santa ana winds. 6% humidity.

a tree across the street caused power lines to short, leading to a huge power surge and explosion. knocked out the entire grid in our area from 10:30 last night to 8:30 this morning. good times.

you'd think they'd do something about all the old bare power lines (from the 30s) with insulation hanging off of them, but no, they just cut down the offending trees.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 21, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so much for the BPHs in my future, Wilbrod. . . Although I would love to tweak Wilbrodog's ears.

I may as well tell my fellow Boodlers my *real* pet peeve -- the chronic substitution of "that" for "who". It drives me absolutely around the bend. And I'm not necessarily a language fascist and I enjoy all sorts of language mannerisms. But "that" for "who" just makes me growl. I don't think any of us really think about it, and for millennia it has become a part of our language. But, geez. Language is so powerful on its own and I'm all in favor of language evolution (or, um, is that *creativity* in the non-whatever-might-be-called-religious sense). Can you imagine a Dr. Seuss book about "Thatville" or the Abbott-Costello riff called "That's on First"?

Okay, language rant over. Redskins won, and so, by dint of whatever it took, did the Lions. An all around woo-hoo kinda day, dontcha think?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 21, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

ftb, that's (no pun intended) one of Mudge's language pet peeves too. I try to be aware of what I'm doing now - I was probably a big offender. Will try to do better.

Still fighting the problem at work. Got a couple hours sleep. The people *whom* I turned it over to are having the same (bad) luck that I did. Serious case of Murphy's Law, gremlins, or bad karma, take your pick.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 21, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm right with you on who/that, FTB. That error is right up there with incorrect use of its/it's, which drives me crazy.

Posted by: Slyness | October 21, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

What Are You?
The What, Live at Leeds
What's Next?

Posted by: The What | October 21, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

For all my literacy (!) I have struggled with its/it's all my life. It was Wilbrod's explanation about a year ago that finally stuck with me, though I still need to carefully pay attention and not just let the fingers fly. So for that, Wilbrod, thank you.

Posted by: Yoki | October 21, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

My peeve is 'that' and 'which.' Once you've got that one figured out it's like the wrong use just jumps out at you.

But the one I'm so proud of myself when I catch when editing is 'last' and 'past' as in...

"The fund performed well over the last 10 years," which is wrong unless, for example, the writer is talking about the second half of a 20-year period.

If he's talking about how the fund has performed since 1997, it would be "...over the past 10 years."

Posted by: TBG | October 21, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I also prefer "which" to "that" -- it seems to give more texture.

But I'm also (uh-oh -- rant alert!) unhappy with the apparent disappearance of adverbs. Where have all the adverbs gone? (long time passing . . .). Or when people say "as far as" and don't finish it.

Ah, well. There we are. So to speak.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 21, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

With respect to "its" and "it's" -- what might make it easier is to expand "it's" to "it is" (which, of course, it really is), and use it in your sentence. If it doesn't fit right, use "its" and it will work.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 21, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

less vs. fewer
Misuse drives me almost as mad as an apostrophe gone missing and used where it doesn't belong.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 21, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I've taught every grade from 3-12 and can never go wrong with spending multiple lessons on its and it's as well as there, their and they're. Not to mention could've, not could of, is the correct contraction for could have. The sad part is the 12th graders often write as if it is not reintroduction but a first meeting.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 21, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I seem to be a verb.

Posted by: Gerund | October 21, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Where have all the adverbs gone?
went, um, real fast
Where have all the adverbs gone?
Maybe "quickly"?
Where have all the adverbs gone?
Kids have dropped them every one
When will we ever learn?
We learned them real real good

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 21, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice this?

"In the Orbit of UFO Enthusiasts:
Operating in a Galaxy of Doubt, Disbelief and Dismissal, UFO Buffs Make Their Case That . . . We Are Not Alone."

The WaPo had Joe Heim write this, but I wonder if anyone considered asking Joel.
I suppose if they did, he might have replied that he'd been there, done that, and written a book (the classic Captured by Aliens).


Posted by: bc | October 21, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Just popped in to say hello and good night. Heading for the bed, too, too, tired. Medications got me real droopy and tired, and getting up early did not help. You know my routine on Sunday, and today was no different.

I love cheese, but don't have a good experience with cheese. I'm not familiar with all the different kinds of cheese, plus cheese has a tendency to come back and haunt me after I've eaten it. And that's the case with many foods.

Tomorrow is picture day for the little kids. We will try and look our best for the pictures. I'll bet that is going to be a tough job. You know trying to get the kid to smile instead of crying.

Have a good evening, folks. Pleasant dreams, and much rest.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 21, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one watching Game 7? It' the top of the third, and Boston is ahead two to nothing.

But it's early yet.

"Love that Dirty Water."

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 21, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Football's on here, Maggie. Not that I'm watching.

I hope all is well with the granddaughter's hair, Cassandra, so that her picture turns out well. This morning a friend was passing around the school photo of her youngest, who is 5. He was trying to grin and had a grimace on his face instead. It was hilarious. The kind of photo that shows up at wedding rehearsal parties.

Sleep well!

Posted by: Slyness | October 21, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Hi Maggie, "S" is watching and I am running into the room whenever something interesting happens. Dice K seems to be doing all right so far (crossing fingers and toes). I feel kinda bad for him and hope he doesn't fall apart. "S" says if he just listens to Varitek, he'll be okay. I wish these games weren't on so darn late! I know it's all driven by money but it really upsets me that in order to know the outcome, I'll be up til midnight on a work night!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 21, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

3 to nothing

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 21, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it would be nice if they actually played a day game once in a while. But TV is on mute and I'm listening to the radio coverage.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 21, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I read a book, "Open Skies, Closed Minds" by Nick Pope. He was with the Ministry of Defence, UK, assigned to investigate UFO sightings that were reported to the Ministry. He started off being a non-believer of UFOs and was suppose to say what the Ministry expected him to say - flying objects can be explained. After years of investigation, he's not so sure anymore.

Posted by: rainforest | October 21, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"....sightings that were..", should I have used "...sightings which were..."? When I first started learning English in M'sia, we weren't taught that we could use "that" for "who". But in college, my ESL instructor said we could and also "that" for "which". So I've been doing that. I think some boodlers touched on the rules a couple of months back but I've got bad memory. What are rules again, please?

Also, when you see a wrong preposition being used, I apologize. I'm really bad with prepositions. Not that I'm good in other parts of the grammar.

Posted by: rainforest | October 21, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

rainforest, you make me laugh. I have no idea! No clue whatsoever.

Posted by: Yoki | October 21, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Now it's 5 to 2 at the bottom of the 7th. Still worrying...

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 21, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

"He was with the Ministry of Defence, UK, assigned to investigate UFO sightings that were reported to the Ministry."

Yes, "which were reported to the ministry."

I have no idea how to explain it, but let's go over it like this:

... He was assigned to investigate UFO sightings WHICH were reported to the ministry.

He was assigned to investigate THE UFO sightings THAT were reported to the ministry.

Basically... you needed a "the" in there to order it together in a phrase.

But now it's not quite clear with "THAT".

Did he investigate all the UFO sightings that were THEN reported to the ministry? That's what the THAT sentence implies. Whoops.

He was assigned to investigate (those) UFO sightings WHICH were reported to the ministry?

(The ministry got the reports first, then he was assigned to investigate)

Your sentence makes it clear early on that "he" works for the ministry, so I know you meant the second sense, because he is part of the ministry!

But there are certainly nuances of meaning between the two.

In a general sense, your English teacher is correct, but you have to watch the nuances in a sentence where chronological order matters.

"I belong to a cult which brainwashes its members"

"I belong to a cult that brainwashes its members"

There isn't a real difference between the two sentences, because there's no real chronological order involved.

To me "That" sounds a little better than "which" in the above example, though.

With "Which" I almost expect the sentence to continue a little bit.

Maybe I should give up on not explaining this. Mudge probably will ride to the rescue.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 21, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there Maggie.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 21, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for the congratulatory salutations. The grammar probably isn't correct, but the thhanks is there. Congratulations to your son and to you, CP for a job well done. Band shows are kind of like dog shows. Subjectivity rears its ugly head once in a while. The cable is as intermittant as the indians hitting. I think I hear the rotund one singing. Off to the laundry room to work off the blues.

Posted by: jack | October 21, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Sox just went up another, lead 6-2. I wonder if Maggie and Scotty are breathing.

Denver just kicked a field goal as the clock ran out to upset the Steelers.

This evening sure has been hard on my channel-changer. I spent a good part of the evening flipping between "Tell Me You Love Me" (anybody else watching that series?), the Steelers, the Red Sox, and Bill Maher, whose show was live and featured a few hecklers who got kicked out mid-show.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 21, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* Wilbrod, you do indeed need some rescuing. The difference between "that" and "which" has nothing to do with the sound of the sentence, or timing, or anything. In this context, a pharse beginning with "which" absolutely, posetively MUST have a comma: "I belong to a cult, which brainwashes its members."

The alternative is "that" at the start of a clause which NEVER has a comma in front of it because it can't. The sentence must necessarily require the content of the clause to make sense: "I belong to a cult that brainwashes its members."

Rainforest, your ESL teacher was wrong.

The difference is what are called restrictive or non-restrictive clauses.

9-2 now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 21, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

11-2. Yuklis just parked one outa there.

Scotty and Maggie must be delirious.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 21, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe it! Youkalis just hit a home run, and the score is 11 to 2. But the Indians still have an at-bat in the 9th inning.

I think I'm too old to 'believe.'

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 21, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

"And the Red Sox win the pennant!"

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 21, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Incredible catch! And the Sox go to the Series!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 22, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I knew it was something about clauses, but I wasn't about to make something up.
The meaning does shift subtly when you don't restrict the meaning.

And Mudge, you need to clean up your example.

"I belong to a cult, which brainwashes its members." does NOT require a comma.

But yeah, when you make that into a subordinate clause, that punctuation rule is correct.

"I belong to a cult, which brainwashes its members, and so have developed an uncontrollable habit of tweaking the noses of sleeping people."

"I belong to a cult that brainwashes its members, so I have developed an uncontrollable habit of tweaking the noses of sleeping people."

Now I must slink off to my nose-tweaking cult meeting tonight.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 22, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

>"I belong to a cult, which brainwashes its members." does NOT require a comma.<

Yes, it EFFING does, Wilbrod. Because it uses "which."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 22, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Huzzah for the Red Sox! I didn't get to watch the game because the infernal work problem that will not get resolved keeps going. Along with a gazillion other problems. But I remembered to turn the game on and breathed a sigh of relief for Maggie when I saw they had 11 runs.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 22, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, if the parenthetic expression occurs at the end of the sentence, do not use a comma to introduce it.

We discussed the new mystery religions which we were currently studying.

The new mystery religions, which we were currently studying, formed our discussion.

I'm sure some styles require comma-which everywhere. However it would be spurious in the above example.

I also challenge you to use the comma-which rule in this below sentence.

Wilbrodog licked my grandma, an experience which she had never had before.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 22, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I think we may need the expert testimony of PtheP here.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 22, 2007 1:01 AM | Report abuse

mudge is giving the standard rule for restrictive versus non-restrictive clauses, and you do use a comma even when a non-restrictive clause ends the sentence.

your example should use "that" because the phrase "x she had never had before" defines (restricts) "an experience." even though the meaning is clear from the context, the rule is based on the relationship of the clause to what the clause modifies, which in this case is the noun phrase "an experience."

but not everyone follows the rules.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 22, 2007 2:25 AM | Report abuse

That which would be me. :-)

Or that witch would be me, since it's so close to Halloween.

Didn't know you were ESL, rainforest!

Posted by: dbG | October 22, 2007 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Wilbrod, Mudge, & LA.

I probably should go take English 101, again.

dbG, I was very ESL and still am. If you didn't detect the errors in my postings, it's because you were reading for the meaning and not looking at the grammar.

Posted by: rainforest | October 22, 2007 3:28 AM | Report abuse

I think I need to take just basic english again. They say it is one of the hardest languages to learn. I have been trying my whole life and still need much improvement.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 22, 2007 3:43 AM | Report abuse

I like the World Series matchup. I guess the Bosox have Mo on their side after coming from being down 3-1. But the Rockies just don't seem to care who they play, they just keep rolling on. It should be interesting Boston's Power against the Rockies pitching.

And I guess with games being played in Denver in late October, there is always the chance of a snow out.

My pick is Boston in 6. I wonder just how far Papi and Manny can launch them in the mile high air.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 22, 2007 4:30 AM | Report abuse

>I probably should go take English 101, again.<

I don't know if you need it or not, rain, but Wilbrod definitely needs it. She is wrong, wrong, wrong, but persists in her ignorance.

First, the expression isn't "parenthetic." If the clause is parenthetic, that means it is not strictly necessary to the understanding of the sentence, and can use "which" but MUST have a comma. If the clause is required mfor proper understanding, then it ain't freaking parenthetical--and requires "that" and NO comma.

"We discussed the new mystery religions THAT we were currently studying," or "We discussed the new mystery religions, which we were currently studying."


"Wilbrodog licked my grandma, an experience THAT she had never had before."

And it's not a "style" rule, which can be variable. But I'm sure "my" word isn't going to be good enough for her, so let me post the explanation from the American Heritage Book of English Usage.
A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English, 1996: (

"§ 62. that
that/which (restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses). The standard rule requires that you use that only to introduce a restrictive (or defining) relative clause, which identifies the person or thing being talked about; in this use it should never be preceded by a comma. Thus, in the sentence The house that Jack built has been torn down, the clause that Jack built is a restrictive clause telling which specific house was torn down. Similarly, in I am looking for a book that is easy to read, the restrictive clause that is easy to read tells what kind of book is desired.
"By contrast, you use which only with nonrestrictive (or nondefining) clauses, which give additional information about something that has already been identified in the context; in this use, which is always preceded by a comma. Thus you should say The students in Chemistry 101 have been complaining about the textbook, which (not that) is hard to follow. The clause which is hard to follow is nonrestrictive in that it does not indicate which text is being complained about; even if it were omitted, we would know that the phrase the textbook refers to the text in Chemistry 101. It should be easy to follow the rule in nonrestrictive clauses like this, since which here sounds more natural than that.
"Some people extend the rule and insist that, just as that should be used only in restrictive clauses, which should be used only in nonrestrictive clauses. By this thinking, you should avoid using which in sentences such as I need a book which will tell me all about city gardening, where the restrictive clause which will tell me all about city gardening describes what sort of book is needed. But this use of which with restrictive clauses is very common, even in edited prose. If you fail to follow the rule in this point, you have plenty of company. Moreover, there are some situations in which which is preferable to that. Which can be especially useful where two or more relative clauses are joined by and or or: It is a philosophy in which ordinary people may find solace and which many have found reason to praise. You may also want to use which to introduce a restrictive clause when the preceding phrase contains a that: We want to assign only that book which will be most helpful.
Omitting that: You can omit that in a relative clause when the subject of the clause is different from the word or phrase the clause refers to. Thus, you can say either the book that I was reading or the book I was reading. You can also omit that when it introduces a subordinate clause: I think we should try again. You should not omit that, however, when the subordinate clause begins with an adverbial phrase or anything other than the subject: She said that under no circumstances would she allow us to skip the meeting. The book argues that eventually the housing supply will increase. This last sentence would be ambiguous if that were omitted, since the adverb eventually could then be construed as modifying either argues or will increase."

see also

'Morning, Boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 22, 2007 6:06 AM | Report abuse

My wife now teaches ESL and she deals with elementary school students of very different levels. Since she was ESL before such programs existed, she understands the plight of these students. She also says she never really understood grammar until she took Spanish in high school.

And as a serial who/that/which abuser, I have to defer to 'mudge. I was always told that you have to use "that" if the sentence doesn't work without the phrase following it.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 22, 2007 6:14 AM | Report abuse

That's correct, yello.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 22, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Now to muddy the waters further:

The expert advice THAT you cite seems pretty wishy-washy on substituting "which" for "that", WHICH undercuts a lot of the umbrage by the Grammar Nazguls WHO are absolutists.

I understand, but don't always follow, the rule THAT "that" can't be substituted for "who", but is there a place for substituting "which" for "who"?

The witches, WHICH flew around on brooms, escaped the villagers WHO were trying to burn them at the stake.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 22, 2007 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, it's too early in the morning for grammatical exegesis. I hope you cut-and-pasted that passage and didn't have to type it out.

G'morning, all. Happy Monday.

Posted by: Slyness | October 22, 2007 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Wikipedia has grammar and discussions. Short of taking a class, I shall have to buckle down and learn more. It's all fading away without some sort of refresher input, which is probably necessary.

Posted by: Jumper | October 22, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

It's 1:30 AM here in the land of Aloha, and we are writing an astronomy song while observing Mars. A parody of "Under the Boardwalk."

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 22, 2007 7:30 AM | Report abuse

*very-bleary-eyed-but-very-happy-prior-to-BackBoodling Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 22, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

The "which" verses "that" distinction is pretty clear cut. And, unlike some of the rules of English grammar, this rule doesn't appear to be based in spite. It is important to be able to distinguish between a restrictive and non-restrictive clause.

Which is not to say that I always follow the rule. Sometimes I just go with what sounds right. I'm weak that way.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I used to be modestly proficient in German, and can currently hobble through elementary Spanish. Compared to those languages, English is a free-for-all. Maybe that's why so many writers, even those for whom it is not their native language, like to write in English.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Song parodies, SciTim? Where could you have possibly gotten that idea?


Even with the videogame-esque dismantling the Pats laid on the Fish, it 'twas indeed a tense night in NukeVille until the 7th of the 7th. Things became downright giddy in the 8th, of course.

Now if they could just get the consarn HVAC in this building to work properly... *wringing out my shirt*


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 22, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Grammar before coffee is not right. Positively rude, if you ask me.
Go ahead.

Posted by: Boko999 | October 22, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse


OK, I'm asking...

What is your name?
What is your quest?
What is the capital of Assyria?


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 22, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I predict that there are going to be a lot of people in New England (and quite a few elsewhere) falling asleep at their desks today. I think Papelbon is a hoot. He is so intense on the mound, totally focused on pitching, after we win, he turns into the biggest goofball on the team. He was dancing some maniacal form of Irish jig in the infield during the celebration last night.

The only downside to this winning stuff is another week of late nights - ugh.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 22, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, I don't really mind a late night or seven, although I'll be otherwise occupied Wed. night, dagnabitall... I kinda think I'll be getting more than a few text messages during the game, of course.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 22, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

We had the most glorious day yesterday, reoord breaking temperatures, cloudless sky, (a brilliant fall blue sky), and the leaves at the height of their autumn glory.

Hope everyone had a good weekend and that I have managed to post this without incurring too many grammatical errors.

Leaving before I can add any fuel to the grammar war, as I am definitely a canadidate for Grammar 101.

Posted by: dmd | October 22, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

What is your favourite colour?
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Just askin'

Posted by: yellojkt | October 22, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Is the LabCam still on? I forgot the url.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 22, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

So, what does everyone think of J.K. Rowling's revelation that Dumbledore was gay? I'm sure over-reactive parents around the country are going to be offended, but probably for the wrong reason. Rowling committed one of the worst sins of a fiction writer--revealing facets of your character's personality outside the context of your book. In a philosophical sense, for me at least, the only reality for fictional characters is between the two covers. If Rowling wanted Dumbledore to be gay, why not make such a statement in context within the story. As it stands, she obviously wanted it to be up to interpretation within the books.

Posted by: jw | October 22, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I think the British use "which" in situations where we'd use "that". Not to mention that when I was working as an editor/proofreader (very different tasks, which I couldn't do simultaneously), it was risky to use "that" because someone would object. I think that word is under siege and will eventually be used only in the sense of pointing something out (paired with "this").

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 22, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse


So this is a pit of eternal peril.
Very nice.
Come to think of it, a pit of eternal peril would be a very safe place. If you're eternally in peril it means you never encounter the danger.
Like the Glade of Meaningless Threats or a vice-principle's office.

Posted by: Boko999 | October 22, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

jw - I agree, the whole thing is silly. Fictional characters are, last I checked, not actually real. I think that's part of their job description. Besides, isn't it a well-accepted principle of fiction that a writer cannot dictate interpretation?

If Rowling wanted to create a gay character, then she should have done so within the pages of her books. To suddenly declare Dumbledore is gay, after the books have been sold, is a way to get credit for being progressive without actually risking anything financially.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Wkipedia also makes the Britisb/American that/which distinction.

They also explain preposition stranding, which I am very familiar with. or is that "with which I am very familiar"?

Posted by: yellojkt | October 22, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I just wanted to announce that Dr. Yakisha, lead character of my epic 1971 short story "The Secret Laboratory," for which I was awarded the prestigious "Great Job" citation, had mother issues.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

And although it's a little late in the game, I wish to express extreme umbrage over the phrase "uppercut over the colloquy." This is not something to be made sport of. Why, my brother was once, due to a freak cheese accident, seriously injured in the region just lateral to his dominant colloquy. It was only through years of therapy that he regained the ability to tolerate lactose products.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse


Actually, RD, I kinda enjoy hearing about characters outside the books. Rowling's "relevation" explains a lot, but only to people old enough to understand. No need to make a big deal about it in front of the kids.

Fanfiction can be such a hoot.

Posted by: Slyness | October 22, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, it may be entertaining, but it seems like cheating. Any time the author of a work of fiction seeks to dictate interpretation the power of that work is diminished. Art should stand or fall on its own.

It's like the ending of "the Sopranos." The question of what "really" happened is nonsensical, and for Rowling to impose her interpretation on an ambiguous piece of work seems equally nonsensical.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

jw - how ya doin', man?
Good to see yer handle in here.

I agree with RD that Rowling took the easy way out, and didn't seem to do much with the character's sexual preference in the books. Though I can only imagine what the Far Out Right is going to think of the Potter books *now*, as many of them already don't let their kids read the Potter series because they think that the magical aspects are anti-Christian.

Now there's the matter of a school headmaster being gay, which is likely to set off Big Red Alerts across the country and around the world.

As far as correct English usage is concerned, I stand by my assertion that I am the Jackson Pollock of the English Language, and that my Art takes precedence over rules. Now, where's my beret?


Posted by: bc | October 22, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Boodlers please remember that, although there may be editors present here, grammar does not really count among boodlers.

Content counts.

We may express our editorial pet peeves, but we really only care about what you have to say--not how you say it. (Unless, of course, you're trying to teach incorrect grammar.)

So... don't worry about which and that... or who and that... or its, it's, there, their and they're...

Just write from the heart and happily click "Submit."

Posted by: TBG | October 22, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why this Rowling bit bugs me so much. I guess it just seems arrogant and intellectually lazy of a writer to tell us "facts" about characters.

Instead of a reader being free to interpret a character in whatever way one wants, Rowling is suggesting that the author gets to dictate meaning. This seems to cheapen the interpretive nature of fiction.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Good point, TBG. Besides, when Joel publishes the complete text of the Achenblog in forty-two leather-bound volumes, I am sure he will employ a crack team of copy editors to whip things into shape.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

The Rowling thing bothers me, too, RD, and I can't really pinpoint why.

I guess the reason is "what's the point?" Why would someone care about his sexuality at this point (well.. at any point, really?)... he's a fictional character in a series that has been declared over by the author.

She doesn't really want it to be over? Write another book.

Posted by: TBG | October 22, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

bc, may I appropriate your Pollock comment?

Without taking sides in the Dumbledore discussion, I believe I read she was asked the question directly at a fan meeting. She also had to deal with it in the new movie script, which alludes to a relationship with a woman (she corrected the director, too).

Posted by: dbG | October 22, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

In other news, Henry James has announced that the ghosts in Turn of the Screw weren't real, Jack Schaefer has revealed that Shane dies, and Ridley Scott has leaked that Deckard is a replicant.

Posted by: jw | October 22, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

dbG, writers get asked about their characters a lot, and usually they reply as if that character is real person who even they don't know everything about--something like, "You know, I think Dumbledore may have been gay, although he was always very secretive about his personal issues, and often sacrificed personal happiness for the greater good, I think that he may in fact have been in love with what's his name" would have been a better answer than "Yep, he's gay."

Posted by: jw | October 22, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

jw, sounds like Shrub-speak! :-)

And in the lexicon of system security, another term emerges: *pod slurping.* Employees are utilizing their music players for storage, the slurp is the sound of corporate data leaking out the door.

Posted by: dbG | October 22, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, dbG, for clarifying that for me. So far I've only gotten the Today Show quickie version of "Dumbledore's gay!"

jw (Hi! by the way) may have hit it on the head for me. By declaring this "fact" about her fictional character in such a way, she only adds emphasis to the fact that she made him up.

It's like she's saying "He's mine" to the gazillions of people who were apparently under the mistaken assumption that he was theirs.

Posted by: TBG | October 22, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse


Yanno, "the Today Show quickie version of 'Dumbledore's gay!' " is a Very Interesting Concept.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 22, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

On another note, I see that "On Faith" tracked the Dalai Lama's visit to Washington last week, and has several quotes from speeches he made last week:

I'm interested to note that the DL makes a connection between Global (and Universal) Warming, Stellar Evolution, Cosmology and Cosmic Thermodynamics and Special Relativity, then mentions that religious leaders, family leaders, and individuals have responsibilities to discuss these issues:

"In India where I live, the climate not more than 40 years, the climate pattern are changing. In early '60s we used to have snowfall quite thick, but it did get less and less and less. So many bother India, the climate condition is now changing. But through the last, I think two years, there's a big change. So this, according to the scientists, is due to the global warming. And the European continent also is experiencing some differences, the weather is changing. So it is very serious, and they look at those with big ice, and the north and the south, the amount of melting, also very, very serious. And snow mountain and glaciers in Tibet also is rapidly melting. So basically, of course I'm no expert. I have a serious concern about that. I think the whole galaxy and the solar system is moving, all of it's moving.

"But anyway, after a few billions or so years our sun also will disappear, so that's the end of the whole world, isn't it? So not much is - from that perspective it's not much use, is it, to fight my interest, your interest, my place, your place, my religion, your religion - it's silly. Think more whole planet, and 6 billion community; consider as one entity. Much happier - much reasonable. I'm always telling people the very concept of real days no longer relevant today's world. So anyway, so the whole universe that's changing. So I think getting warmer, I think with that velocity is changing...

"So it is everybody's responsibility, I think - responsibility and out of evidence. So I think immediate people, I think more important role than religious leader - tell people. They are our responsibility - or dangerous, of this delicate situation about the environment, than how to take diversity measures of individual family, individual person. I think it's important..."

Last I checked, Cosmologists suggest that the evidence points to the that the Universe is cooling towards a Heat Death *(which is why I suggested some time back that we dump the Earth's excess heat into the Universe to try to get some thermal equilibrium to avoid the cold hard end):

For all that, I like the guy.

Joel had lunch with the DL some time back:


Posted by: bc | October 22, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"dumbledore is gay" get.s 2.55 million hits on google.

Posted by: omni | October 22, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

This just in! Dumbledore just held a press conference at the Hogwarts Marriott to deny "scurrilous accusations" that he is gay, lesbian, transgendered, cross-gendered, transsexual, pansexual, diagonally gendered, catty-corner-gendered, hormonally challenged, or even a little shy around women. He was accompanied by his wife, Eugenia, to whom he has been secretly married for 27 years. However, Dumbledore did admit that he is fond of frequenting certain airport men's rooms at Heathrow AND Gatwick, where he is inclined to tap his foot a lot while engaged in matters of a private biological nature. He said his fondness for Broadway musicals and the work of Stephen Sondheim and Barry Manilow are purely coincidental. He says the fact he throws a baseball "like a girl" is irrelevant. He said he pleaded guilty to a number of minor citations at the Old Bailey having to do with lewd and lascivious conduct. He said he was misled into pleading guilty, wanted to change his plea to innocent, and said he'd never bothered to tell his wife about any of it because "it was really none of the old bugger's business."

He said the fact that he played the head bad guy in a Kevin Costner movie was pure coincidence and "one of those things actors are forced to do from time to time to pay the mortgage." He said he wasn't proud of it, but that it wouldn't happen again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 22, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of leather-bound volumes, isn't the mark of a scholar an abundance of paperbacks?

Along those lines, Wal-Mart is selling Oprah-approved paperbacks of "Love in the time of cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez, a friend of Fidel Castro. I don't thing the book is banned in Miami, but the whole thing seems a bit adventurous by the store's standards.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 22, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Did Dumbledore see Spamalot?

Thinking of male-female, the Wyoming quarter features the state's bucking-horse license-plate emblem along with its motto, "The Equality State", honoring womens' right to vote. Kind of a western yin-yang.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 22, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: RD Padouk | October 22, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

It does my heart no end of good to know that somewhere in the world there are observers of the universe's far places composing goofy lyrics. Silliness is seriously under rated.

My weekend tv viewing came up with a wonderful gem. 'Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives' was compelling. CBC documentary channel carried it and played it a couple of times Saturday. Well worth catching more than once. More than twice, too.

Posted by: dr | October 22, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

All I care is that there IS a basis for my stance on which/that.

The English 101 comment was unwarranted and rude, in my opinion. Midwest American isn't the Queen's English.

If an editor says I must write in British English then I do. There are significant differences in grammar as well as vocabulary and spelling.

"Which" is actually derived from the old word for "who" (good catch yellojkt), which started to mean "of what kind."

It acts as a pronoun and an adjective, not an conjunction which is why you comma before "which" when you are conjuncting a phrase starting with "which".

"That" is an conjunction.

The rule of the comma-which has nothing to do with any special property of "which", just that it was historically not a conjunction, although today it is often used in that sense.

In older writing I see "which" always used after a conjunction or a preposition such as:

I saw Mudge write an essay THAT WHICH railed against my use of "which".

"THAT WHICH we call a rose would smell just as sweet..." "THAT WHICH I should have done, I did not..."

Nowdays we'd say "WHAT we call a rose",

Hence, the comma got into these sentences before "which" to show a missing grammar link.

The idea that "which" ALWAYS takes a preceding comma is silly, and is why I argued with you.

It's all about where the clause starts, which is not always at "which".

I brought the dog back to his owner, FOR WHICH she thanked me profusely.

The older form would have been

"I brought the dog back to his owner and for which she thanked me profusely."

We still can say that.

Nowadays we'd write ",for which."

I can figure out which words I should use for my clauses, thank you.

(In the above sentence, "which" is an adjective modifying "words". It does NOT require a comma.)

I have made a comment by which I will stand; "which" does not invariably require a comma, nor does its presence necessarily indicate a non-restrictive clause.

Now let's get back to some fun chat.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 22, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I didn't let you have the last word on your silly comma-which rule on the previous boodle, Mudge.

You made it sound that we should always put a comma before "which" and that it always signifies a clause. That's not the cause, and is why I disagreed with you.

The comma rule has nothing to do with any special clause rule, and everything to do with the fact that "which" is not historically a conjunction, unlike "that", and thus never started a clause on its own.

"Which" is an pronoun and an adjective, and you do not put a comma before "which" in those cases just because it's "which".

You put a comma in when an historically used conjunction ("and" or "that") has been subsequently eliminated in written English for the sake of brevity.

"And" for instance, pops up a lot more in spoken English than it does in written English. Yet we have prescriptive rules about replacing "and" with commas for clarity in reading.

"We saw the dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and cows."

I'm pretty sure most kids would be saying something more like, "we saw the dogs and cats and rabbits and horses and cows!"

Take a look at Shakespeare and other pre-20th century texts that which address the many uses of "which" in clauses, and you will see that ",which" is a much more recent development.

All those prescriptive "rules" editors develop derive from a failure to see the natural contractions of past grammatical forms and why they occur.

The overprescribing of commas before "which" in the matter you describe is such a rule THAT WHICH I will not abide by.

A quote from a single editor's manual alone does not correct the whole history of English literature, AND that is a fact FOR WHICH you cannot castigate me.

I did my homework on this; I'm always happy to learn.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 22, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse


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