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How to Save the San Jose Mercury News

Actually, I don't know how to save the San Jose Mercury News. I'm not a businessperson. I'm an artist. I devote my life to beauty, and literature, and the loftier aspirations of the species, specifically immediate sensual gratification. My advice to The Young is to disregard the future entirely, and live for the moment, because soon all the good stuff is going to be gone, and you'll be too old to enjoy anything anyway. But I digress: I cannot be bothered with corporate concerns and business conundra, except insofar as they might imperil my current gig.

Nonetheless I keep thinking about Howie's story on the San Jose Mercury News, where top management has apparently decided that they no longer want to publish anything that resembles a newspaper ("The very top of the organization is saying, blow up the newsroom").

But before the Merc editors decide to turn it into some kind of amalgam of an iPod and a Furbie they should remember that there are people who still appreciate good ol' fashioned print-edition newspapers. The circulation is 200,000. Many of those readers have surely been devoted to the paper for many years. They shouldn't be jettisoned, but rather enlisted in the next stage of the paper's evolution (I'm sure this is not an original thought around the paper). Newspapers belong to the community in a way that most businesses don't. Call it "crowdsourcing" or "citizen journalism" or whatever: the point is that newspapers ought to say, directly to their audience, join us in rebuilding this enterprise.

Support Your Local Newspaper

[Because how good has the news coverage been on Craigslist?]

Maybe the paper should give up being a comprehensive local/state/national/international news source. Figure out the core markets and focus on those. Smaller papers and local bloggers could handle the town council meetings and high school sports results. Instead the paper could emphasize excellent reporting and writing and package it with great photography and graphics, such that the final product isn't something you need so much as something you really want: A newspaper that you keep around the house for several days rather than pitching immediately into the recycling pile.

Maybe the paper should think more like an airline: Don't sell every seat at the same price. Some people can afford to pay more and will pay more if you offer a little extra something. More legroom in this case means premium features -- technology coverage, for example. Don't give it all away for free on the Web, either. Make someone plunk down real money for must-read tech coverage. Which brings up a thought that can apply to all newspapers: There should be Print-Only Blogs. These would be blogs, columns and stories that would not be put on the Web at all, not even at a premium rate the way the Times did with MoDo et al. My new goal is to have a Secret Blog that runs on page 11 of Style, or maybe back in the Classified section, buried amid the Help Wanted ads. Or maybe it could actually roam randomly in the paper. Kind of a Where's Waldo thing. Jumps out at you when you least expect it. (You'll be happily reading a recipe about pumpkin pie when suddenly it turns into an exegesis of Titan's methane ponds.)

The Mercury News is not a random paper in trouble, at least not here on the A-blog. A skinny college kid interned there in 1981 and got his first taste of professional journalism. In those days no one worried about the future of newspapers. Newspapers printed money. Journalists swaggered around, looking for presidents to bring to heel. No one other than a few hobbyists had ever heard of a "personal computer." The Mercury was a darn good paper, with all-star reporters, like Miles Corwin, Carl Cannon and David Hoffman, to name just a few. And the entire newspaper chain, Knight Ridder, had a great reputation. The future was so bright you had to wear shades, you know?

Those were the days.


This is a huge story. Embargo broken overnight by Australian paper, I'm told. Bottom line: Scientists can make stem cells from non-embryonic tissue. This removes politics from the science. This is potentially the great leap forward that will make it possible to treat all manner of diseases:

'In theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for their bodies from a few of their own skin cells, while giving researchers a uniquely powerful means of understanding and treating diseases.

'Until now, only human egg cells and embryos, both difficult to obtain and laden with legal and ethical issues, had the mysterious power to turn ordinary cells into stem cells. And until this summer, the challenge of mimicking that process in the lab seemed almost insurmountable, leading many to wonder if stem cell research would ever wrest free of its political baggage.

'As news of the success by two different research teams spread by e-mail, scientists seemed almost giddy at the likelihood that their field, which for its entire life has been at the center of so much debate, may suddenly become like other areas of biomedical science: appreciated, eligible for federal funding and wide open for new waves of discovery.'

More coverage from the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Nature News, and Reuters.


I am taking this personally.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 20, 2007; 10:04 AM ET
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Next: Guest Kit: Ode to Autumn


First? It's really a scary thing when you think about all the misinformation distributed in the blogosphere. At least the journalists try to sort fact from fiction. Who will do this when they're all gone? Or does rumor just become fact?

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

first? Regardless, I read about the redesign of the SJMN. I still read the print editions of newspapers when I can get one. It relaxes me to read them. It was interesting to me that so many readers surveyed by the SJMN staff complained about the ease with which the comics and Sudoku puzzles could be found. It makes me miss the WaPo comics section, among the best I ever read.

Posted by: jack | November 20, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to Timbuk 3?

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC: I've. The prospect of posting first had me thinking beyond my ability to type.

Posted by: jack | November 20, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Not to get this Boodle sidetracked already, but I reposted this from previous Boodling (I guess an embargo was lifted this AM):

*Tim, there *is* no one with greater standing or superior street cred than yourownd@amnself.

Whoh - Science News Flash!

"Researchers in Wisconsin and Japan have turned ordinary human skin cells into what are effectively embryonic stem cells without using embryos or women's eggs -- the two hitherto essential ingredients that have embroiled the medically promising field in a long political and ethical debate.

The unencumbered ability to turn adult cells into embryonic ones capable of morphing into virtually every kind of cell or tissue, described in two scientific journal articles released today, has been the ultimate goal of researchers for years. In theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for their bodies from a few of their own skin cells, while giving researchers a uniquely powerful means of understanding and treating diseases."

If we can remove some of the ethical roadblocks that some have with stem cell research, that's a good thing. Hopefully, this will bear up under greater scrutiny than cold fusion or the cloning claims some time back...


Posted by: bc | November 20, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

A skinny college kid interned there in 1981 and got his first taste of professional journalism."" Kit-clip

Is that you, JA? If so, then you interned there when I was reading that paper in the AM with Medaglia D'Oro coffee at my first job: clicking the number of people who came into the museum. WE OPENED AT 8:AM!!!!!!!

Ya know, saying "I read it in the Merc'" or "Did ya see the Merc' column on Apple layoffs..." Mercury News IS THE BEST NAME FOR A NEWSPAPER EVER. Word.

Posted by: College Santa Clarian | November 20, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Timbuk3 lost in the Best New Artist Grammy category to Bruce Hornsby in 1987, and broke up in 1995. I can't hear "Future's So Bright" without fondly remembering Khrystyne Haje (red-head lust alert) and Robin Givens.

SJMN is considered the paper of record for Silicon Valley. They better not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Back in '81, if that skinny kid, with flyaway hair, had worked for the Grand Forks Herald he would have been privy to a lot of worry about the future of newspapers. That much respected Knight-Ridder chain caused the worry. For the wrong reasons, I think. Without Knight-Ridder support the paper would not have been rebuilt after the '97 flood. Nor would it have won a Pulitzer for its flood coverage. As it turned out, the big guys didn't cause the death of the small/medium sized newspaper-they just can't seem to figure out how to keep it alive.

Posted by: frostbitten | November 20, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Blast from the past, that Khrystyne Haje reference. She was purty.

I was a fan of Timbuk3's second single, as well.

"Hairstyles and attitudes/
how are they related?"

Posted by: byoolin | November 20, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Think of it as an homage, Joel.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"Instead the paper could emphasize excellent reporting and writing and package it with great photography and graphics, such that the final product isn't something you need so much as something you really want: A newspaper that you keep around the house for several days rather than pitching immediately into the recycling pile."

Yeah, the philosophy of "newspaper as framable artwork" has done SO well. (eyes rolling)

I'm sure, though, the increasingly confused Merc is destined to try your approach, except without the excellent reporting and writing and likely without the great photography.

Posted by: Wenalway | November 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Pat mAcDonald (his spelling) of Timbuk 3 now owns a motel in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and runs an annual festival designated to saving a local bridge. Don't know what Linda is doin' these days.

Posted by: DrBear | November 20, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The stem cell story is huge. I added it to the kit. In effect this means stem cell research will no longer be hostage to politics.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 20, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Joel, thanks for reposting that Doonesbury link. Every boodler who read it thought of you immediately. But I was ready to think that it wasn't directed at you, personally, until I re-read it today. Now I think I was a moron to miss the "rough draft" reference the first time. I bet Weingarten is jealous.

Posted by: kbertocci | November 20, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

What RD said - a recognition of your peripatetic abilities. I mean that in the best possible way, and I'm sure Trudeau did too.

The notion of a wandering print blog is charming in a random, chaotic way. Just keep the online Achenblog, since I'll never see the print version.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 20, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Does that mean you take it in a bad way, Mr. Achenbach?

I recognize you the moment I read it,and especially at the end with the "rough draft" note. I believe it to be a huge credit to your work, at least that is the way I'm taking it, but then it's not about me, really. At least you have caught his eye. I don't know if that's good or bad. I like his work, it makes me laugh. But I laugh when I read your stuff. I really love the "arm candy" thing, and the helmet guy. Who is that anyway?

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me. Time to take the poll and ask questions that will get ignored.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Gracenote to the stem cell story: this innovation about stem cell or stem-cell like cells may help address immune-incompatibility. As a person in a huge pedigree study about auto-immune disorders, I have often thought that self-origin stem cell "lines" would offer better therapy options. Auto-immunity diseases are difficult to live with and difficult to treat. They can flare like a forest fire or smolder for years. Increasingly, we are understanding that low-grade chronic inflammation is not good for the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc. Heart disease and diabetes may be driven in part by inflammation.

However, the caveat about all stem cell innovation is that the therapies are not as easy and close-at-hand as some advocates suggest.

I look forward to good science-reporting, to make sense of this and the possibilities.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the implications of that stem cell story really do seem "flash memory" significant. And although the assertion that stem cell research is abortion by proxy may fade, I imagine there will still be some political posturing in store.

For even though, to me, growing organs seems much more ethically palatable than the current system of sitting around waiting for an appropriate organ donor to get offed on the interstate, I am sure that this notion is going to catch serious flak from some quarters. Cause, you know, it just ain't natural.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

RD, I hope you're feeling better. I don't know what you do, but I'll bet it's pretty important, and a lot of people count on you. And I'll also bet you are very good at what you do. Hang in there.

The printed newspaper is what I grew up with. My dad always had newspapers around us. My mother complained about the paper, the trash, but my dad always brought the newspaper, even after he and my mother divorced. It's been a part of my life. Now I read the paper on line, but still go to my dad's for the printed version. I agree newspapers are different from other businesses because they impact a community so much more. When something happens in a community, people rush to get a paper. People depend on newspapers to keep up. Of course, there is television news, but around here people run to get a newspaper too.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

See, I TOLDJA Trudeau was paying Joel a compliment!


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, actually I am sure Trudeau was thinking of someone more like Dan Balz, a real political journalist, or maybe one of the NYTimes reporter/bloggers, when he drew that cartoon.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 20, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Cassandra. Once or twice a year what I do becomes scary important. The rest of the time not so much.

The source of my angst is simple. I am being asked to do some things that require more frequent trips, which puts a huge strain on my wife given the challenging nature of my children.

This is not a unique problem, and I am sure it will work out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Joel, although you almost never discuss this kind of personal stuff, do you actually know Trudeau? Are you (until Sunday, anway) friends?

"You'll be happily reading a recipe about pumpkin pie when suddenly it turns into an exegesis of Titan's methane ponds." Um...isn't that what pretty muich happens here on a daily basis (although perhaps the other way 'round)?

The only way at the moment to save the SJMN is to decapitate the leadership, and bring in some actual newspaper people. There's no guarantee this will work....but one CAN guarantee that the thinking of that current group will fail dismally, because they just don't understand their own profession. Which is sad.

And speaking of sad, somebody should write a book about the self-destruction of Knight-Ridder, a formerly great newspaper chain that completely imploded during a generational change. Whereas the Graham and Ochs/Sulzberger families are examples of great newspaper families, the Knight-Ridder clan are the poster children (along with the WSJ) for why family ownership can also be bad. (One hesitates to bring in George H.W. Bush and his spawn, because GHWB wasn't all that great himself, by a longshot, but there it is. The old cliche about the "apple not falling far from the tree" has been utter crapola from Day One. Many any apple can roll like a sonnamagun.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I prefer to think Trudeau was giving a humorous nod to all the hard-working overstretched journalists in this new interactive age. Which clearly includes yourself.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

But, Joel, here in the boodle, where we live in our own self-created imaginary world, we will continue to believe that Trudeau was referring to the Achenblog. And you can't stop us.

Posted by: kbertocci | November 20, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You know, I'm a big fan of newspapers, but I don't feel any need to read a print edition. I haven't for years, after I realized I was only reading a few sections or headlines and tossing the rest away. I did it, in part, for the trees, and also to keep my home from being overwhelmed by stacks of discarded, barely-read newspaper.

These days, I read the content online -- the same content one gets in the print version. Except online, it's easier to follow the links to background info, related Websites, original source material (even if it's just a press release) and such. It feeds into the blogosphere, which, contrary to all the hysteria about blogs being the root of evil, promulgated in "traditional media" formats, work just fine as a complement to mainstream media, giving everyone an equal opportunity to sift through the facts and opinions, the reporting, and offer their own (sometimes misguided) commentary. I believe it's called free speech. :)

Is it louder? More confusing? More crowded? Are some of the commentators crazy? Sure. But while I respect many professional journalists (some are even friends of mine), I reject the argument that traditional journalists are necessary "gatekeepers" with the noble mission of sifting through conflicting facts of an issue so the general population need not do so. Some of us don't want to be spoonfed news stories, or have everything sifted through for us. Why should someone else decide what's relevant about a story that might pique my interest?

We all have a responsibility to employ critical thinking, not just to content in the blogosphere, but to how news is presented in the mainstream media as well, whether it be Fox News or the Washington POST or the New York Times.

Times change. "New media" is not a dirty word. The sooner newspapers realize this and start being proactive, rather than reactive, the better the industry will fare.

Posted by: Jennifer Ouellette | November 20, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I've never met Trudeau. Weingarten is the Trudeau groupie. I think Trudeau lives in New York City and I assume he reads the Times, not the Post, even though the fictional Rick Redfern is a (Bob Woodward-like) Post reporter. So lest there be any confusion: I am SURE that cartoon has nothing to do with me or my blog.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 20, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - That reminds me. I have been reading some more of Hiaasen's books. Much fewer naughty stuff in these. And yet not without passion. For expressing, with great eloquence and power, exactly what should be done with incompetent newspaper management seems to be a specialty of his.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

As for the stem cell news, the sources of the research, as well as the journals the articles appear in, do a great deal to dampen my usual scepticism.



Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Besides, JA is not bearded, or so I've imagined. In Doonesbury, the news-hounds are bearded, by a NEPA regulation stemming from the 70s.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

nothing says Oklahoma like noodlin' a 62lbs flathead.,13355,1669280,00.html

Posted by: shrieking denizen | November 20, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Pish posh, JA. 'tis you, and the modesty driven denials are so A'blog. Maybe Weingarten can get you the signed original.

Posted by: frostbitten | November 20, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"much fewer"? Sheesh. Time to go for a walk.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Must run to a meeting but joyous thanks to shrieking denizen for the noodling!

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 20, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Whew, got through a couple of meetings.

To Joel's Kit: has anyone found a model yet that makes money selling news on the Internet?

Here, let me repost something from October 6, 2005:

"I've been in the Internet/Web app biz for a long time (starting with dialup app networks, during the '80's), and I've seen lots of things that work, and lots of things that don't.

'net content providers that charge readers fees for content - select, or any other flavor - have a pretty poor track record compared to the "free content w/advertising" content models. However, there's only so much advertising that you can put into/around a typical "page", so content providers should keep a close eye on their costs and income, and make sure things don't get too far out of whack. The best managed content providers I've observed grow ther sites and content organically as the business (and the logfile analysis) allows. When a provider/publisher decides that some of their content is too good or too valuable for their regularly sponsored site, that's often been a kiss of death. Not necessarily for the whole site, but those columns that are "selected" can become irrelevant over time. Sometimes those columns are reborn - on another site, or with a different name on the same site, if the publisher is willing to eat a bit of crow.

The most successful models I've Observed for original news/infromation/analysis/opinion (NIAO) sites are those that support other businesses. Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations/networks, internet retail, and even brick and mortar retail are reasonable examples of foundations/sponsors for NIAO sites.

The Fed Ex
The New York Times powered by Sun Microsystems?
The Red Hat USA Today?
Slate, broght to you by McDonalds?

It could happen.

I could go on, but I won't, other than to say that I think the WasPost is doing a reasonably good job with their site(s) overall, though they do have some weak spots they should decide to address (by investing resources) or discard.

The NYT Select experiment - call it chutzpah or hubris - is very interesting, and my gut says that it's not going to work (ask Stephen King what he thinks about it), because it hasn't done well in the past. Maybe it'll work this time...?


Well, it didn't work for NYT, and unless someone comes up with a really novel business model like Print-Only Blogs, it's hard to see how anyone will be able to charge for news content like its online-gaming..

Oh, wait, *I* did come up with an idea like that; to combine online gaming with Internet news reporting -- the Worlds of Newscraft:

Yes, I've posted this before, but I think it's still amusing in this context...


Posted by: bc | November 20, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Now *this* is cool.

"Archaeologists on Tuesday unveiled an underground grotto believed to have been revered by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.

"Decorated with seashells and colored marble, the vaulted sanctuary is buried 52 feet inside the Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome..."

Posted by: byoolin | November 20, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

What Jennifer said.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
A skinny college kid interned there in 1981 and got his first taste of professional journalism. In those days no one worried about the future of newspapers. Newspapers printed money. Journalists swaggered around, looking for presidents to bring to heel. No one other than a few hobbyists had ever heard of a "personal computer."

We both arrived in Silicon Valley in '81. I don't know how long you stayed, Joel, only for a summer? I enrolled in classes that fall in mass comm, marketing and advertising at San Jose State. There was already a lot of buzz in '82, via the marketing classes, about establishing chains stores devoted to selling computers, rather than mom-and-pop bellwether retail outlets.

Woz and Jobs had already formed the Homebrew Computing Club back in '75, the fledgling industry had already progressed quite a bit further than you allow by the time '81 rolled around. Maybe it depended on which coast you were on.

You might want to check the timeline for the development of personal computers here:

I find myself nodding in agreement with many of the things Jennifer Ouellette has to say.

Posted by: Loomis | November 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

And we all know how the TimesSelect experiment ended. Free at last, free at last, Free at last!

Posted by: Mo MoDo | November 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, don't fret over "much fewer" as a piece of vernacular.

Hiaasen's vitriol toward editors is one of the reasons why I worship the man. Over virtually all my newspaper career I worked for lousy newspapers with lousy editors, and so have long despised them as a breed, even after I became one myself. (As contrasted to someone like Joel, say, who has worked for good newspapers and [presumably] good editors, and who may therefore have a different view of them. Someone who worked for the Miami Herald back in its glory days of Tropic mag, and then worked for the Post, really doesn't have a truly thorough appreciation for exactly how many truly malignant cretins, twisted psychopaths, toadies, drunks, lickspittles, and demented personalities who once populated our noble profession. [Curiously, most copy editors are excepted; nearly all have been sane, in my experience. It's the desk editors, assignment editors, city editors and managing editors --most especially managing editors -- whom I single out for purgatory.] Oh, sure, Joel has certainly heard stories, and maybe even bumped into one or two, once or twice. But unless one has worked for, say, AR, GN and LP at the Morning Call, CB at the Intelligencer, LW, AN, PH, JG and ML at the old Inquirer, MN at the Clinton Times, or DF at the EG, or publishers such as EH [Sr. and Jr.], PL, RG and old WA himself has one truly smelled the foul contagion of Beelzebub himself.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

And a differing opinion on Beowulf:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

My town has a McClatchy nee Knight-Ridder newspaper. We are a very small market compared to the SJMN. But the local staff has been "adjusting" the paper for the past year -- changing the format, the comics, (and the location of the Soduku and Dear Abby.)

People complained.

They developed little half page booklets for each day of the week where they hid the entertainment features. They eliminated the "Local" section on Mondays.

People complained.

Today our management has cried "uncle" and the paper appears as it used to.

Posted by: nellie | November 20, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

byoolin, I suspect that was Hugh Hefner's first Grotto, and he abandoned it the minute children showed up.


Posted by: bc | November 20, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I've never met Trudeau. Weingarten is the Trudeau groupie. I think Trudeau lives in New York City and I assume he reads the Times, not the Post, even though the fictional Rick Redfern is a (Bob Woodward-like) Post reporter. So lest there be any confusion: I am SURE that cartoon has nothing to do with me or my blog.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 20, 2007 11:56 AM

Can we quote you on that Boss? Even when the Blogline is "has (insert female presidential hopeful) peaked?

Or maybe it will read peeked?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

If you look carefully, you'll see my bro in the trailer for the upcoming release of The Mist. He was cast in the role of the grocery store manager. He looks like Dad; my features favour my Mom. I don't think he gets whacked in this one.

Posted by: jack | November 20, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I took Old English as an independent study course (my advisor was a linguistics specialist) and enjoyed it. I actually own two copies of Bright's Old English Grammar and Reader, one copyrighted 1935 and the other 1971. (The first edition was published in 1891.) Once you get the hang of it, OE is fun. It's cool to read the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles in the original.

I didn't get as far as Beowulf in the original. It's too long to be included in Bright's book, but I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find an edition. OE is musical, and the poem would have been recited as after-dinner entertainment, accompanied by a harp. You know, kinda like what we do with TV. When I took the early English lit survey course, we read Beowulf as the classic cowboy and Indians story. One of the first, as it happens.

So, I dunno about going to the movie. The movie is never as good as the book, even when it's a poem almost a millenium and a half old.

Posted by: Slyness | November 20, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ai chihuahua...

Now ABC 7 is using Hannah Montana tickets to attract viewers!!!

*sobbing quietly*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

RD, was that you in Weingarten today?

Posted by: dbG | November 20, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke..... who is Hannah Montana? And how is using her tickets supposed to attract viewership?

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Kerric, Hannah Montana is an idol to almost all female girls under 13 (possibly older as well). She has a TV show, my children become deaf to my voice when it is on.

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, wiki'd it, I'm suprised I've never heard of that show before.

I thought it would be some new popgirl sensation or something like that.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Watching the American Music Awards, I walked in while some cute young blonde was giving an award to Carrie Underwood. I asked who that was. My wife looked at me like I was an idiot and said "Miley Cyrus, duh". I lost a lot of my pervy middle-aged tweener show fan cred that night.

I rewound back to the intro and made excuses like "The Kentucky twang should have given it away." Miley/Hannah is growing up quick.

And "Hannah Montana" the show is really, really bad. Watch "Life With Derek" instead.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yello, in our house it is Hannah, Life with Derek, Zack and Cody (name of the show?), Zoey 101 etc. Help me!!!

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Both. Miley Cyrus, the daughter of "Achy Breaky Heart" one-hit wonder and co-star/manager Billy Ray Cyrus, will turn fifteen on Friday. She has recorded albums both under her real name and her Disney show's character's name. Part of the Hannah Montana Mania is the limited number of dates (54) on her tour. She has to be off the road in time to film the Hannah Montana feature film.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

My condolences, dmd.

"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" is pretty bad as well. High School Musical villainess Ashley Tisdale is that show's only redeeming feature. Even the Mil-fy Kim Rhodes tends to chew the scenery.

Get them to watch more Kim Possible.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

yello, you just needed to think quicker on yer feet:

"oooh, I didn't recognize her without her wig."

instant cred restoration.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Now I wonder how many people will know, besides yello, what I'm talking about.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

and of course dmd...

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Don't look now, but I had a Hannah Montana header ad ON THE ACHENBLOG.

And I was so happy with the Porsche ad...

Why don't more kids like "Avatar: the Last Airbender?"

Sadly, I know too much about kid's TV shows...


Posted by: bc | November 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I think the problem with print news is part of the larger problem noted this week in the MSM that our reading level continues to drop. Everyone gets a quick fix from broadcast news or whatever quicky synopsis they run across on AOL's home page. I will admit to some of the same failings--don't recall the last time I cracked a "serious" book. But at least we still take the Post daily and I do try to page through most of it. I get most of my insights from the comics and the sports sections, though.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 20, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, they watch Kim Possible as well, also Sixteen which I think is a Canadian cartoon.

The older one has discovered anime, currently into Fruit Basket and Sailor Moon - which she watched online.

Fortunately they both have many other interests.

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

One of the conceits of the show is that NOBODY recognizes her with the wig on. It's like a lame superhero mask.

Well, on the AMA she was Hannah blond and not Miley brunette, so I'm not sure that excuse would work. Which makes me wonder what her natural hair color is. On second thought, that's not a topic I'm really comfortable pondering too much.

If tweener shows are too limiting a topic, we can always go back to military airplane nomenclature. Just why was every Navy plane in WWII an F-4 of some variety?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving, Imaginary Friends. I wish I had time to hang around here- I miss the witty repartee and the cheap cheeseburgers. But I did want to wish you all a safe and happy holiday, hopefully surrounded by people you like and not just the ones your forced to tolerate because they happen to be related to you ;-)



Posted by: Pixel | November 20, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

SCC - your/you're
(blushing madly)

Posted by: pixel | November 20, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Joel posts earlier: "I am SURE that cartoon has nothing to do with me or my blog."

Waitaminute!!! It's *OUR* blog, buster! Inclusive of you AND us. 'Cause without us, there would be only you (not that there's anything wrong with that), and, well, what would you do without us -- or us without you?

What makes this blog special is that there are no deliberate bomb-throwers (or at least not for long) and that we have all pretty much grown fairly fond of one another. I dare say that there might not be another blog out there like this one.

Okay, then (*snort*). I've done my job here. Back to, um, what? Reality??? (I think not).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 20, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse


Part of the creepiness factor about me knowing the Nickelodeon line-up so intimately is that my son watches nearly no television except for Monday Nerd Night when we watch "Chuck" and "Big Bang Theory" together back-to-back (thanks to the miracle of Tivo).

He does have literally hundreds of hours of "Naruto" and "Bleach" and other obscure anime shows on his hard drive. I'm convinced his bit-torrenting is what makes my Natalie Portman pictures download so slowly.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

See, I thought she was a natural blonde, and wore a brunette wig for the regular girl alter ego.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Hi PiXeL, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

On the show, Miley the character has brown hair and wears a blond wig to play Hannah. It's very possible that what omni describes is the reality and that Miley the actress wears a brown wig to play Miley the character. Again, going too far down that line of reasoning makes me reach for the mind bleach at some point.

The problem with the US dubs of Sailor Moon is that they edit out most of the juicier girl-on-girl innuendo.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey yellojkt!! Either you're posting as Pop Socket over on Wonkette or Pop Socket is wearing his yellowjkt disguise.
Check out the first comment.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Or you are Pop Socket!!
How could I have been so blind.
Someone get a bucket of water and I'll get to the bottom of this.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Pixel! Happy Thanksgiving!

Has anyone seen Amazon's Kindle yet? It's kind of like an iPod for books, newspapers, magazines. Charlie Rose talked to Jeff Bezos about it last night - looks pretty cool, but too pricey for me. Maybe someday, though. I'd link to it, but my PC is being flakey today. Look on Amazon or Charlie Rose's site. (I went to Amazon last night, looking for a DVD, and completely ignored the announcement about it, which is why I don't think the internet ads work at all, at least not for me. I'm so 20th century.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 20, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

No, yello I think you are right. If you google image search Miley she's a brunette, while Hannah is a blonde. And it also, now that I actually think about it, that regular girl miley wouldn't wear a wig, while alter ego pop star does.

OK, that's enough of that, time for a the metro.


Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

You're right, mostly... $399 is a steep price for the Kindle, but if it means I can boodle anywhere... hmmmmm....???

My favorite part of the page, though, is the line advertising that there's a video where "Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Pulizer Prize winner discusses Amazon Kindle." I don't know why that just cracks me up.

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Pixel!!! *frantic-but-trying-not-to-imitate-semaphore Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Everyone I apologize.

I asked what I thought would be a one response question, and somehow everything degraded into the depths of cartoon/childrens tv nerdling. Not that I mind, as its one of the few areas of conversation that I can be considered to have expertise on.

Again I'm sorry.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"I asked what I thought would be a one response question, and somehow everything degraded into the depths of...."

Kerric... you seem to think that's unusual here. Isn't that what keeps us all here in the first place?

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's someone making money in the newspaper business: Google.

This is a link from my Google Ads below...

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Pixel. Have a good one.

By now, many of you have read the Weingarten chat (I notice an appearance by one byoolin; I also not a reference to "Achenbloch"). I thought the poll was easily the best in many monthsm, and the chat was better than most too. But I have one question for this Boodle: was Weingarten waaaay out in right field about whether a French kiss constitutes "infidelity"? Now, I agree it is a much lower level of infidelity than actually doing the deed, of course. But I can't conceive of most married and/or engaged and/or otherwise "committed" couples approving of a French kiss or even just a non-tongue mouth-to-mouth kiss as being acceptable (except in couple who have a clearly "open" relationship of some sort). Put it like this: if I ever put a liplock on any woman for ANY reason except CPR, I'd be dead meat, never mind tickling tonsils. A peck on the cheek she wouldn't blink at. But lip-to-lip?

So what say others of you? Is it an "age" thing? (Disregard the drunken scenario. Assume a fully coherent, deliberate smooch NOT in public, or a joke on New Year's Eve, etc.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Pop Socket is my non-Paultard alter ego over on Wonkette. I used to be yellojkt with the same avatar, but lost the password somehow. It's a long story.

Mo MoDo is also a Wonketteer just in case Pop Socket ever gets banned/executed. Mo MoDo is a promiscuous little blogwh0re and can be found on RedState, Huffington Post, and DailyKos. I don't shill Dowd Report here much out of genuine respect for fellow boodlers, but Mo MoDo does have a very cheesy Barack Obambi photo illustration today.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

All set to call it a day and then that Kindle post. I think I'll wait, maybe the price will come down.

I see lip to lip as OK. Tickling tonsils is only OK between two women.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse


I assume that anything involving the actual or potential swapping of bodily fluids to be a breaking of the marital trust. As the saying goes, one thing leads to another and unless you intend to go to the Emerald City, stay off the yellow brick road. Keeping your tongue to yourself just seems like a wise policy.

And of course Gene didn't use my question about the Doonesbury cartoon.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Pardon my poor manners and let me wish you a happy Turkey Day. And I give all traveling boodlers a hearty bon voyage as they head off or else it's going to sound like bedtime on Walton Mountain here for the next couple of days. I myself am traveling no further than North East, Maryland to mooch off of some relative or another for the fifteenth year in a row.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I should note the tonsil part of my post was a joke, but the lip to lip thing isn't. I mean so long as we're talking good friends, and not some random stranger in a bar.

Posted by: omni | November 20, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure bc can add to this list in his sleep...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I agreed with the person who pointed out that anything you wouldn't tell your spouse about is cheating. If you *think* it's wrong, then it's wrong.

If you had lunch with someone and don't tell (on purpose; not if it's so insignificant you forget to tell) your spouse, then that's pretty much cheating if you ask me.

That said, I can't see how you can have a kiss like that with someone who's not your spouse and not think it's wrong.

My husband and I each have many friends of the opposite gender. Through a reshuffling of jobs, he recently lost his "office wife" as he called her and we commiserated about it together.

I took off for New Jersey with boodler bc, for gosh sake, and my husband didn't think twice about it.

It's just so nice to have a relationship like this built on trust and honesty. I can't imagine that an "open relationship" really survives like this with both parties very happy.

Here's my thought: I guess Gene Weingarten has engaged in such behavior and is justifying it this way. Do you agree?

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Now THAT's what I'm talkin' bout. bc, whaddaya think?

Gas guzzlers get new lives -- as tire-smoking hybrids

Small Kansas company turning gas-guzzlers into biodiesel hybrids
Cars get much better gas mileage without sacrificing power
Celebrity customers include Neil Young, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Conversions are expensive, but company is working on cheaper fixes
By Sean Callebs
WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- On a beautiful, crisp late fall afternoon,
rock icon Neil Young took his 1959 Lincoln Continental for one last
spin before a team of mechanics ripped out its gas-guzzling engine to
make way for an electric motor.
Car buffs may think it's sacrilege to tear apart an automotive classic,
but Young wants it to have a new life as a fuel-efficient hybrid.
"If we're going to make a difference, truly make cars more
environmentally friendly," Young said, "we have to make that emotional
Young said everyone has a connection with an old car like the Lincoln.
It only took about an hour for Johnathan Goodwin and his four-man team
to pry the engine out of Young's Lincoln. He'll have the new engine
installed in 45 days.
Talking about the old motor, Goodwin says, "Of course, it's not fuel
efficient at all. It's a big polluter, one of the biggest rawest forms."
The Lincoln's new electric engine will power the car and when it begins to lose juice, Young will simply flip a switch and the car will run on
biodiesel fuel until the electric motor is recharged. "A 19-foot-long
car, the longest car ever made at its time. Two and half tons, the
heaviest car at its time," Young said, "And it can get 100 miles to the
gallon, not 10 miles to the gallon."
Young renamed his car Linc-Volt, and is making a movie about the
transformation, which he hopes to release next year.
Goodwin is making a name for himself -- and his company, H-Line
Conversions -- by turning gas-guzzling behemoths like Hummers, Cadillac Escalades, Jeeps and other big American cars into clean-power machines.
The first thing he does is remove the old inefficient engine -- even if
it's a brand new vehicle -- and replace it with a diesel engine that
can run on biodiesel.
"It's the transformation of what I call old technology to new
technology," Goodwin says.
Here's his analogy: Remember 15 or so years ago when a cellular phone
was the size of a brick. Now it's a lot smaller, because the industry
underwent a ton of changes over the years.
The same kinds of advances are made in engines. But since it's so
expensive, changes to cars are made in leaps, not tiny steps.
What's the drawback of his method? You guessed it. Cost.
"It's not cost-effective for someone to run out and spend $40,000 to
double the fuel economy, but I have no shortage of customers," Goodwin says.
Including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's having his
Wagoneer converted to biodiesel.
Goodwin, 37, drives a 1987 gas burning Wagoneer, rents his home and
will sheepishly tell you he didn't graduate from high school.
Expect to hear a lot more about Goodwin in the future.
Companies are knocking down the door to work on projects with him.
Goodwin's developing a download that can be installed in a car's
computer and improve the mileage by five to seven mpg without losing
performance. He expects it to cost about $200.
Ask Goodwin what his favorite project is, and he answers, "the next
one" but the Linc-Volt project has been special. "We're going to prove
you can have your cake and eat it too so to speak," Goodwin proudly boasts.

Although I'm not exactly sure that "green hummers" was the best choice of phrasing. But...well, on second thought, maybe it will attract a new audience who might not otherwise pay attention.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

You didn't have to confess so soon.
Where's a mop?

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

You're right TBG how could I have forgotten.

I must agree with omni on the kissing question. Though like most things it will always depend on the people, place and situation.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

If only it would catch on, 'Mudge...

"Hey, I've got so much money I greened my Hummer!"

But these are by and large the people who STILL haven't blinked at the pump prices....


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Okay. Deep breath. Tee moony topics.

a) bc, I thought World of Newscraft was brilliant first time around and I still do. I am sharing it with my family, who all play WOW.

b) I am, alas, familiar with Hannah Montana, Derek, Josh & Drake, Zak n' Cody, Kim Possible, Sailor Moon, Avatar, Naruto and Bleach. My hands-down favorite remains Full Metal Alchemist.

c) Happy Thanksgiving Pixel. I'll be continuing this wish throughout the week, as I'll have time to boodle (if I can type, this takes way too long) all week.

d) French kissing = infidelity. Weingarten's belief otherwise has nothing to do with age. It is wishful thinking.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 20, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, I've had the fantasy for years of owning a 1966 Corvette with an eletric motor. Not even a hybrid--just 100% electric, although I wouldn't kick a hybrid out of the garage. How cool would that be? (Of course, the Corvette motorheads would turn purple.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Ivansmom on the kissing bit. Darn it.

Yes, dbG I did score some hits on Gene's chat. Although I did tell a nasty lie in one post for comedic effect.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

It didn't take waterboarding. My multiple personalities are not a secret, at least not well kept ones. I'm much more possessive of my real info.

FMA is also a favorite of my son. His online alias used to be a FMA variation. He now uses a less obscure but possibly more trackable one. And of course he is on Facebook where much more personal information is in the clear. Kids these days.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

As a fogey myself, I did love this post on Weingarten's chat today...

"I don't know why people complain about understanding the lyrics of fogey rock. I guess if you grew up with listening to Al Jolson enunciate every word to songs on The General Biscuit Radio Hour, yeah, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler might sound like he's singing like he just got a mouthful of novocaine."

I do think artists like Billy Joel and James Taylor etc become popular because they not only enunciate their words but sing on a key that anyone can sing along with.

Never underestimate the power of the singing-along-with-the-car-radio public.

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

It's all about intent.

French kissing = infidelity, if the kisser is relatively sober. If you're drunk, it's more of a 'what are you, stupid?' kind of thing - not laudable behaviour, by any stretch, but not *necessarily* unfaithful.

OTOH, getting drunk, knowing that you may, in a moment of weakness, find yourself French kissing = infidelity.

Also, winning $600K in the lottery, not telling your wife, and buying a house:also an example of infidelity.

Posted by: byoolin | November 20, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Extramarital tonsil-hockey is infidelity. I agree with TBG--sounds like Gene is trying to rationalize something he's done.

Although he's wrong about a lot of other things, too. Crunchy peanut butter, dark chocolate, the pronunciation of "what." The list goes on.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the combination of dark chocolate and crunchy peanut butter, Raysmom...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 20, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

firsttimeblogger writes:
Waitaminute!!! It's *OUR* blog, buster! Inclusive of you AND us. 'Cause without us, there would be only you (not that there's anything wrong with that), and, well, what would you do without us -- or us without you?

You are of course completely correct and I am always the first to say to anyone that it is the boodle that makes this blog what it is. Our blog, I mean.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 20, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

You have to remember that Gene includes his heroin addiction with his fond memories of a misspent youth.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes Joel, but you set the polite tone and high expectations.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, your 3:20 made me laugh out loud. And I'm still laughing. I don't see how one can ignore a deep kiss like that, married or otherwise.

I was thinking about my sister and myself today in regard to the husband department. We've both lost two husbands, but she is on number three. I gave up. My number three I did not marry, and now he's dead too. I am quite sure with a record like that, I am finished in the husband department.

Pixel, enjoy your Thanksgiving and be safe.

As for children shows, Spongebob is the dude here, and Avatar sometimes. Of course, Jimmy Neutron along with the Fairly Odd Parents and Kim Possible. Drake and Josh as well as Hannah Montana, please.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

As Spokesperson for the Concerned and Frequently Chagrined Citizens in Support of the Family and Our Children (CFCCSFOC), I must strenuously object to the proposed cloning of human skin. All children learn in Sunday School that every skin cell is precious, even the dead skin between your toes. Even cuticles. Cloning of skin is therefore an abomination and will eventually lead to cloning of humans, or at least large piles of human skin to be used for sinful purposes. What is more, skin cloning could result in the accidental cloning of skin mites which could multiply in sufficient numbers to conquer the Earth and enslave all God-fearing people. Please write your Congressman and ask them to vote against federal funding for this odious and wicked practice. Think of the Children!

Yours Truly,

Rev. Horace L. Pinkbottom
Kokomo, Indiana

Posted by: Channeled by CowTown | November 20, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom you enjoyed Full Metal Alchemist? That was such a dark show, I wouldn't have thought it. Then again it is one of the best if not the best translation and dubbing jobs ever done on an anime. My personal favorite has always been TriGun.

I'm just going to stop here before I fully out myself.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I am an enormous Weingarten fan for reasons I have stated before. He pushes out the envelope. And anyone who does this sometimes runs the risk of giving offense.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Ivansmom or SoC can issue an opinion on this, but isn't one of the legal tests what a "reasonable" person would interpret from a given situation? For example, a couple (who, incidentally are married, but not to each other) is fully engaged in a lip-lock. Would a reasonable person not interpret this as infidelity?

And yes, dark chocolate with crunchy peanut butter is heavenly.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I have heard the plaintive cries of a breathless nation (more like plaintive wheezing, in all honesty), hungry for knowledge, thirsting for authenticity, jonesing for the fig leaf of learning to cover the naughty bits of work-avoidance. I have heard, and I have the answer:

SEE astronomers in their native environment! HEAR what oxygen-deprivation can cause a person to write! OBSERVE that we actually do work while we have fun, or vice-versa.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom - gosh darn it my wife would. And I would as well.

Peanut Butter Cups are one of my trigger foods. Like cherry nibs, honey roasted peanuts, and Hershey's Dark Chocolate. We don't keep these in the house. At least not for long.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

You wouldn't happen to be in one of these pictures?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom says that vigorous kissing is cheating? Darn! And she sounded so, you know, um, friendly. Or not, ma'am; please don't come after me with your legal beagles!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Gene Weingarten has never offended me. I assume that is because I have a sense of humor. He does push the envelope and that's why I [heart] him.

How can you not [heart] someone who issues blanket statements as Truth, yet also calls himself, as he did today, an "ignorant blowhard."

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to show off the new comfy chair, yello.
It's a recliner.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Not the comfy chair!

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Okay, actually, I agree that french-kissing someone who is not your spouse (assuming you are married or equivalent) is an act of infidelity. The only reason I can think for kissing someone that way, to whom you are not committed, is to determine whether he/she offers sufficient incentive to go further. That means you're looking, whether or not you decide to take advantage of the situation at hand. If you're looking, then it obviously is an intentional step down the road to infidelity. An understandable and forgivable step if you're separated and thinking about divorce, but that is a situation in which you are not blindsiding someone who thinks you love him/her. You may still decide not to follow that road any further, but you definitely should feel that you have some 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, Tim! We'll never be jealous of your trips to Hawaii again.

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Glad you posted that Tim, if was fun.

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Tim! I'm speechless. Just blown away. "Outstanding" doesn't begin to say it. Just Wow.

Joel, you gotta link this up top in the kit somewhere.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

My 4:30 response is to Tim's video, not his 4:29 post (although that would eliminate the jealousy as well).

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I want to like Gene W's Playhouse more, but the mix is weird sometimes and GW pontificates and prognosticates and makes papal pronouncements. I think the mood here is more inclusive and democratic; basically, we help make the place while Gene runs his show. Different, really.

Last week was a justification of divorce scenarios, along with the goofball smorgasboard.

RD, give us hints about your posts at GW's space. And BTW, Byoolin rules at Liz Kelly's Celebritology place.

Ah yes: that kissing scenario has one answer. If you cannot do it in front of your spouse, then WRONG.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the splendid video, ScienceTim! Just for that, I'll call off the legal beagles.

The legal "reasonable person" standard is objective: what would a (frequently mythical) reasonable person do, as opposed to what would I, subjectively, do if faced with this situation. My answer is the same under both tests: french-kissing a person not your partner is cheating.

Kerric, I like FMA partly because it is so dark, but funny. You know the manga novels were written by a woman.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 20, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you liked it. I have animation that I made from still photography about 4 years ago. I need to dust it off, then I can post it to YouTube. As you can see from the credits, my role in this project was somewhat peripheral -- I appear in documentary footage, I shot some stills and video, and I helped with writing lyrics. No performance, no contribution to the movie-editing (except for critiques).

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"Fidelity refers to the accuracy and integrity of self-representation, honesty or candor in an intimate, committed relationship. Integrity may be defined as 'the inner sense of wholeness deriving from honesty and consistent uprightness of character.' Infidelity is a breach of that integrity through the use of deception by one party to a committed and not necessarily monogamous relationship. This breach is experienced as a betrayal of an explicit or implicit agreement between the partners to not keep secret those matters now the subject of deception. Deception is 'the covert manipulation of perception to alter thoughts, feeling, or beliefs.'

"Adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse." Fornication is sexual intercourse between consenting unmarried partners. An open relationship allows for open sexual choice. Polyfidelity on the other hand refers to closed choices among a defined group. In either case, when the rules are broken any of these may constitute infidelity. Some consider these forms of nonmonogamy."

Now y'know. Or, at least, you have a wikipedia take on the matter. So, J. Carter was likely infidelitous, but I'm not, 'cause I don't see it as a breaching of my integrity (nonantiintegritous, in government terms) when I lust in my heart, as long as I make no outward effort to slake that lust, or do so only in my polyfidelitous grouping. Or I do so not in a intimate, committed relationship.

Stain the water clear, he said...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, very funny. Thanks, you made my day. I may find a way to post this on my science-writing blog. I will let you knowl

Chocolate and peanut butter! If only Godiva would make the combinations we really want.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm not "offended" by Weingarten, either. And I do understand the infallibility schtick. And I can tell the difference (I think) between his serious pronouncements and his foolin'around stuff. But I just think he's not only "wrong" on this one, but significantly out of step with the mainstream. Which is fine, but I think he should have shown some recognition of it: "I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I think...blah blah french, blah blah blah tongue down her throat...blah blah blah perfectly OK."

And no, I don't think he was rationalizing some previous bad behavior of his. But for me and I think a lot of other people, there is a line between "innocent" and "not innocent," and lip-to-lip is pretty much exacly where that line is.

Also, if I did actually kiss a woman not my wife like that, I would pretty much expect to get my face slapped.

One reason I raised the question is because the first thing that occurred to me was, OK, if a French kiss is OK for Gene, where exactly IS the line for him? I mean, what's the next step? Hand where it doesn't belong? Nibbling on her ear lobe? Nuzzling her neck? What?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

{{blushing conspicuously}}

Please mudge, no more of these lurid descriptions of pitching woo. You're getting me hot under the color.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I can't say for sure yello, my work seems to have blocked flickr. Give me a couple minutes to work around.

Aha got it. No, no I've never taken it that far. I am more of a hikikomori than anything else, although not entirely. I tend to avoid large gatherings of that kind.

Ivansmom Of course I know that Arakawa Hiromi was the mangaka for FMA, I am a big fan of hers. Her newest manga, Juushin Enbu is quite good.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I take no offense at Gene W's pronouncements. Although sometimes he does cause me to look at my computer screen with Nipper-like puzzlement. But sometimes I learn things--like what to wear under a white shirt.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Tim RE: your 4:19 HAH that was great.

youtube usage provided in part by the same workaround as flickr access.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

An item from today's Physics News Update (from the American Institute of Physics) that has all the stuff that this blog loves (debunking of nonsense, wide-ranging curiosity, and dinosaurs):

EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS, DINOSAUR EXTINCTION, THE JFK ASSASSINATION: all were studied by Berkeley physicist Luis Alvarez. Alvarez won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of new particles using a bubble chamber, but some of his fame comes from his work applying physics principles and methods outside the normal physics-research world. In the November issue of the American Journal of Physics, Charles Wohl of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab ( looks at three notable examples of Alvarez*s extracurricular effort. (1) To search for possible hidden chambers in the Chephren pyramid in Cairo-one of the three great pyramids built in the third millennium BCE-Alvarez designed an experiment in which cosmic rays would strike a detector set up inside a known chamber beneath the pyramid. Observing the penetrating muons from cosmic-ray showers, this detector would discern any intervening empty spaces in the overlying pyramid structure. The upshot: no hidden chambers. (2) In scrutinizing the so called *Zapruder film,* a short filmed sequence that caught the assassination in progress, experts had been puzzled by the backwards jerk of President Kennedy*s head after one of the bullet impacts. Some took this to be evidence for another assassin shooting from in front of the president*s car. Alvarez and some of his colleagues performed impromptu experiments at a shooting range, and also considered the conservation of momentum and the forward-moving matter from the wound. From this they concluded that the movie sequence was consistent with a shot coming from the rear. (3) Most famous of all was Alvarez*s hypothesis, made in collaboration with his son Walter Alvarez, that a thin but conspicuous layer of the otherwise rare element iridium in numerous places around the world, all at a geological stratum corresponding to the era just around the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods (the KT boundary), signified a large asteroid impact at that time. This impact, it was further thought, cast enough dust into the air from a long enough time as to kill off many living things, including a large portion of dinosaurs.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Kerric, is that workaround something we civilians could master?

Posted by: Raysmom | November 20, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Kerris, I swear this made me laugh: "Of course I know that Arakawa Hiromi was the mangaka for FMA, I am a big fan of hers. Her newest manga, Juushin Enbu is quite good" because I just have no utterly freaking idea what any of it means.

It was my own cluelessness that made me laugh. I can't tell if you're discussing sushi, big-game sportsfishing, or Japanese sex positions. But whatever the he1l all that stuff is, I'm glad you enjoy it. Rock on, dude. :-)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Kerric... Ha! My son quickly figured out how to get around his high school's Internet filters.

I guess they stop some folks, but I can't imagine anyone in a school's IT department can outwit a 17-year-old kid computerwise.

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

According to the Post, "The federal jury deliberating in the corruption trial of former Prince George's County schools chief Andre J. Hornsby said about noon today that it could not reach a verdict, telling the court on the fourth day of deliberations that "jurors are firm" in their positions."

Didn't they show a videotape of him accepting the bribes? What are these people thinking?

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to Boodlehog, but I just got around to reading the article about the man who bought a house secretly with his lottery winnings.

I can't get past their last name.

I bet when she Googled it looking for information about her husband she got a lot more than she bargained for...

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- My thoughts earlier today. I am one of the people that Mr. Hornsby cheated.....We'll hit up a bar sometime and I'll tell you some more about his slimy tenure here.

Paging Marc Fisher: could you run another story about the Chicagoland-style corruption in PeeGee again. Apparently, we have not yet got the message.


Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Is a hikikomori more or less dysfunctional than an otaku? And do either know the difference between a cat boat and a skipjack?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

TBG, your comment made me go to that article. You should have issued a "Snort Soda Across Your Keyboard" Warning.

Way ta go.

Running for the bus.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 20, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

ScTim, my neighbor, who dips into her hot tub au naturel every day after work is now listening to the greatest hits of the Eagles. And, I am revising the chorus to your Mauna Kea Hotel spoof.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

ScTim, my neighbor, who dips into her hot tub au naturel every day after work is now listening to the greatest hits of the Eagles. And, I am revising the chorus to your Mauna Kea Hotel spoof.

Note of clarity: she hot tubs to 70s country-rock. Lookie, Mudge, to hot tub is a verb, Marin-county style. Dock me some of my pay, editor-man.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

My one experience on jury duty taught me that some people have very expansive definitions of "reasonable".

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Gene is an extremely smart person. His serious pronouncements seem to be derived from careful logical arguments leading back to an unprovable premise that makes sense to him.

In this case I suspect that his underlying premise is some idealized concept about true, open, and trusting love. This premise, while admirable, not consistent with that innate possessiveness common to most.

So y'all stay away from my woman folk. Ya hear?

Besides, I heard you can spread nasty diseases doing that kind of thing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Tim for the great Youtube piece. It's creativity like that that gives me some small hope for the survival of humanity.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 20, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Hikikomori's are those that cannot interact with others, the people who never leave their homes, don't pay their bills, and basically are unable to function beyond the enclosure of their homes/rooms.

Otaku are nerds or fans. This term can apply to anything from anime, video games, computer use, to sports, military, achitecture and cultures.

The people in the Flickr link are generic cosplayers, which is something many otaku get into. Every day is halloween to a cosplayer, with little to no reason needed to dress up as their favorite character from movies and television.

My issue is a subtle form of hi~ko wherin I can function in society, but I do so as minimally as possible.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

If he wanted to skip out on his old lady he should have bought a mobile home. Or stamps. Or diamonds.
Yes, diamonds.
Is it safe?

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Whoops forgot to actually answer the question.

Both are equally dysfunctional in different environments.

And any boat or ship Ota could easily tell you the difference between a cat boat and a skipjack.

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, oh, we'll need the net.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Is there any way I can download Tim's video?
Its impossible to watch over this &*(%$ DSL.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 20, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom unfortunately no, my workplace IT situation is somewhat unique. Basically all i have to do for my workaround is use an internet explorer version from outside my company's ITsphere. They really aren't any good for anything.

A simple workaround if you have some access priviliges and work for a multinational corporation is to install firefox and change the FTP server. This works best if your company has FTP in Japan, due to the fact that they don't block anything from North America(usually).

Posted by: Kerric | November 20, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Kerric, I love this sentence of yours:

My issue is a subtle form of ***hi~ko*** wherein I can function in society, but I do so as minimally as possible.

See how you can insert any condition, and make some sort of silly sense? Here is mine:

My issue (today) is a subtle form of chocolate=peanut butter addition wherein I can function in society, but I do so as minimally as possible.

Off to carpool with JazzBandDudes. If I arrive early, I can hear snippets of

Funky, Funky Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Linus and Lucy Suite
Autumn Leaves

Happy Thanksgiving prep, as for some of use, these ministrations begin this evening and expand fully into Wednesday.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Boko, the video is 75 MB, last I checked. You sure you want to download that?

Thank you all for giving me credit, but I say again: most of the work was done by the singer and guitarist, whose names you may glean from the video. The credit does not belong to me. However, you'll notice that I am the only one whose last name is listed within the video description. This is due to rampant self-promotion, and the hope that when folks google my name (which happens fairly often, in connection with storytelling events and public outreach events), they'll find it. Everyone else is shy and retiring.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Rampant self-promotion (not that there's anything wrong with that)!

I plan on spending the weekend putting work up on Etsy myself. :-)

Speaking of which, I thought the Boodle would appreciate molecularmuse's work:

Normally I wouldn't show such things to pointy-head types so near the gift-giving holidays, but I really like her work (as might your SO).

TBG, there's a new Christmas-themed sock monkey. . . You're welcome. dmd, Yoki, everyone, Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: dbG | November 20, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

CP - so as to not violate the sacred confessional-like sanctity of the Weingarten chat, I have responded to your earlier query via private correspondence.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Whilst it is still Robert Kennedy's birthday, I'd like to post this link to the speech he made the night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. It was a heartrending speech even at the time, but reading or hearing it now, knowing what we didn't know then--that Kennedy, too, would be assassinated within a few weeks--is just devastating.

Lest we forget:

Posted by: kbertocci | November 20, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for posting that.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | November 20, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I thank you as well for posting that speech, I don't believe I have heard it before.

I recently had an opportunity to ask an uncle who lived in DC at that time what he remembered most. His recollection was of the night Martin Luther was shot, he remembered being at an event and that they were advised to return. Their journey home would take them through a ghetto, and for the same reason RFK was cautioned - the fear of the anger in the black community. What my uncle remembered was the absolute silence that night as they drove through the black neighbourhoods - more than riots that complete silence made a lasting impression with him.

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Kbertucci and Tim score! Fine links.

The newspaper business. Profits. I know someone who works at a medium large sort that was bought recently, and I hear tales that to my ears sound odd. Such as the huge amount of blue collar guys in the news building, with full time jobs with the news organization in carpentry shops, and full time building maintenance types, and paint and wallboard crews that constantly refigure the ceilings and walls and cubicles from open seating to private office space, and then change it all back, the air-conditioning guys and plumbers and electricians and pipe-fitters and such, and this is not even to consider how the empire of the presses themselves suck money, nor the computer staff, security, and mail & shipping-and-receiving departments, the last two being to me the only divisions that don't create bureaucratic empires that drain the life out of the bottom line. Although even they can, if they are not watched carefully. Maintenance staff can create their own self-perpetuating crises which demand overtime and new hires, and sabotage the presses, claim breakdowns, etc, any time they want. The newspaper bigwigs, I suspect, take this stuff as inevitable and secretly fear to tackle it, as they will have to confront blue-collar hustlers on a man-to-man basis, and they aren't quite up to it. Although they should be. This is my hypothesis, anyway. But I don't work for a newspaper, though I did once, long ago, in the pressroom printing them. It was interesting work. I was good at it. But I quit.

Posted by: Jumper | November 20, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, if you haven't read Katharine Graham's Personal History, I recommend it. The chapter in which she talks about dealing with recalcitrant labor is much longer than the chapter on Watergate. In terms of WaPo's existence, it was more important than Watergate, too.

Posted by: Slyness | November 20, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I've been looking at Chris Matthews this evening, and there is breaking news about the former White House press secretary revealing that Bush, Cheney, Rove, and all, were involved in the CIA outing. I didn't see it on the front page of the Post, but television has it. Scott something is the press secretary's name. Can't spell the last name,didn't want to botch it up.

If this information is true, will the public ignore it and move on? I've got a bad feeling about this. I wonder what else we don't know?

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Is this the story you mean Cassandra?

Posted by: dmd | November 20, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

For Raysmom, in response to her query:

The reasonable man
(those that have a wife),
knows instinctively
how to stay away from strife.

The Romans knew the rule
one could hear all the jurists say
with their somber frowns
"eepkay it ippedzay"

Because if the party of the second part
is not your spouse
Well then it's up to the spouse,
whether not to grouse

And fools are wont to say
a kiss is just a kiss
Fool's spouse's counsel says
we'll take this and this and this

Posted by: Anonymous | November 20, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

wuz me

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 20, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's the link from NBC News--details sketchy, former White House press secretary (and Texan) Scott McClellan fingering (in his book, due out in April) Rove, Libby, Card, Cheney and President Bush in leaking Plame-Wilson's name:

Posted by: Loomis | November 20, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon and all those who express disquiet on indecently causal transfer of saliva... I'm with you.

I suppose if said transfer of spit was done without initial consent, that could theoretically be considered not cheating, just like sexual assault is not cheating, but Weingarten didn't stipulate that condition.

It sounds more like the kind of rationalization many use when they say oral sex isn't "really sex."

In much of India, you can be arrested for kissing your wife in public. Ditto in Malaysia, and many other Arabian countries etc. Even Moscow considered a kissing ban, and there was a bill to make kissing in public illegal for underage teens (15 years olds etc.)

Kissing is common in some cultures such as France, but they don't do oral probing. And you better not be caught kissing somebody else's painting. Or kissing on trains (1910 law).

And St Augustin discusses in his "City of God" on his chapter in punishment,

"But if scourging be a reasonable penalty for kissing another man's wife, is not the fault of an instant visited with long hours of atonement, and the momentary delight punished with lasting pain?"

(Gee, sounds like childbirth to me.)

He proves that duration of the punishment can easily exceed the duration of the crime. He also discusses the meaning of Christ's phrase ""With the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again?" Luke vi. 38.

And in Israel, french kissing (aka snogging) without consent is considered indecent behavior. (note this is defined as a romantic or sexual kiss).

"Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

The problem is that there's NO good way to french kiss and not lust (unless the other really does have horrible breath.).

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 20, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

That's it, dmd. He's written a book. Yahoo has the story too. I know there's lots of stuff we don't know concerning what is going on in our government, and I suppose some of it we don't need to know, but I don't believe this is one of them.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse


I won't say you're a trip, you my friend, are a vacation. The last part of that comment I'm still laughing.

My fingers are swollen so bad. And they don't stretch out any more, they're bent. The thrill of old age. The obit page here in the local paper was full today.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Here's the teaser excerpt from Scott McLellan's book...

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

That's pretty tough.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 20, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Great video SciTim. Good production values and great musicianship. You need to take that video on tour when you sell astronomy as a career choice. Visit exotic places, meet cute women and hang around rooms of electronic gear pulling up floor tile. I'm already considering a mid-life career change. Except I already pull up lots of floor tiles.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 20, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

H e l l's bells - I wish Scott McClellan had said something at the time, resigned - maybe now we'd be complaining about what an idiot President Kerry is...I figured Bush and Cheney knew all about it...Did McClellan have to testify before the grand jury?

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 20, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

It's the biggest bug ever!

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 20, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what the oxygen levels were like in the past; modern insects are limited in the size they can grow to, especially the cross-section because of their particular respiratory system. Spiders are only marginally more efficient with their book lungs.

Crustaceans do get fairly big; they have gills similar to fish.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 20, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Tim, it's a winner of a video! Thoroughly enjoyed it and sent the link to the nerd in the family.

Posted by: Slyness | November 20, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Excellent work, Tim.

kb, thanks for those links. I never realized RFK's birthday was the same as my dad's. I remember exactly what I was doing in great detail when I heard that JFK had been shot - MLK and RFK not so much detail, but I was devastated. 1968 was a terrible year.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 20, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci, back in the 90's a memorial was placed at the place in Indy where RFK gave that speech. Clinton came that day and said a few words. Very moving.

I was living in Gary, Indiana, when MLK was shot. The real estate agents went to work the next day.

Posted by: bill everything | November 20, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I have been thinking about the GW-Mudge thread about adultery AND the McClellen revelation.

What a morass we enter when we depart from the few golden things:

tell the truth
be faithful to your troth
do the right thing, even if 'tis hard

I guess what is common is that we must always treat other people as persons of infinite worth and dignity, and not as means to an end.

A spouse, even in a troubled marriage, is owed dignity.

An agent is owed dignity, indeed even her very life and that of those she is linked to; she is not to be 'outed" according to the code of the guild and perhaps all other codes.

Martin Buber got it right when he asked us to live with respect to all other humans as if they were a Thou, a person of human status, and so, worthy to be treated with dignity.

And, where is my umlaut -- double dots -- to place over the U in Buber's name....italics, bold, images, indents.....we are waiting, we are waiting, oh, most dignified Hal-bot-editor-thou.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 20, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, nicely shot video, I can see how music would go with it. However, I haven't the friggiest what y'all be singin'.
Any transcripts available? I can read Outer Martian Sanskrit if I must, but English would be nice.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 20, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Today is also the 60th wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Just thought I'd mention it.

I know a lady who was shopping for her wedding dress in downtown Memphis when MLK was assassinated. She says it was scary to be there.

On the funny side, my ex and I were married on April 5, the date MLK died. His dad went to pick up his mother and sister at an uptown hotel; they got caught up in a parade commemorating MLK and were almost late to the church. It made a good story, at least it did at the time...

Posted by: Slyness | November 20, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

We must start immediately on the campaign to get Tim's video featured on youtube. Brilliant, and well executed-a rare find indeed. Better than Flippy Cat, Cute with Chris and Tommy Wallach all put together.

Posted by: frostbitten | November 20, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

As an elder of the Church of the Kokomo Indiana Church of Kindredship, Amity and Shunning of the Sinful (KICKA$$) I am deeply offended by that, obviously, evil spirit that has inhabited our otherwise noble poster, Cowtown.

Our pastor, the RIGHT Rev. Horace L. Pinkbottom, has, since his placement on the Indiana child sex offender list, DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO PROTECTING THE SKIN CELLS OF OUR CHILDREN. HOW DARE YOU CHALLENGE HIS WORK!

I hope Satan has a lot of work for you, fiendish twister of our friend Cowtown!

Posted by: bill everything | November 20, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Tim's video is a parody of the Eagles' Hotel California - where you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave...
Maybe he mentioned that. And yes, a lyric sheet would be great, Tim. All I remember now is "Just one more tweak." Nice guitar work, too, and I love the beginning and ending shots of the waves.

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

Oh right. I was gonna comment that I thought the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research were unreasonable but after researching the history of live cell therapy (in vogue in Switzerland) and also its precursors, monkey gland therapy, etc. I came out strongly dissuaded against the idea of stem cell therapy.

The appeal of embyronic stem cells lie in the fact that they are pluripotent, but in actuality the adult body has over thousands of individual stem cell lines that will make only a few types of cells.

We need to understand how those work in order to successfully regenerate tissue, anyway. I think there are no shortcuts to that.
If we actually study say actual nerve tissue with their stem cells and support cells, then we can possibly establish growth factors (OR other, say mechanical factors such as in the case of bone) to stimulate stem cells to multiply and regrow nerves, and never actually do a transplant of non-native cells at all.

That would be the most safe treatment possible.
I'm sorry Chris Reeve could not live to see the alternatives to embryonic stem cell research emerge, but it was always long odds that any meaningful cure would be found; nerves are very delicate things and attempting to inject near the spine to repopulate with nerves could well backfire or fail.

I find myself surprisingly of the opinion that any therapy which injects a person with live cells carries considerable risks.
We know the risks and manage them with blood transfusions, but then blood replaces itself every 40 days, so if the intial immune response is avoid by blood type matching, and all diseases filtered out, any potential immune effects, no matter how mild will be gone in a few weeks.
Organ transplants on the other hand, need immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection--lifelong-- and for good reason. The costs of that can be extremely high.

It makes far more sense to do the basic research to attempt an cell-free therapy towards regenerating cells. In the process we may well learn more about cancer and autoimmunity, as well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 20, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

After a long and mentally stressful day, I'm am back, but I think I left my brain behind.

A cousin of our interpid receptionist was diagnosed with luekemia, in her mid teens. She came through fine, and is now in her third year of remission (not quite cured yet- 5 years for that). I heard her talking on a radio fundraiser for the Stollery, and she referred to her bone marrow transplant as a stem cell surgery. And so it is. Stem cell surgeries have been saving the lives of people for years, and I am really glad that it will no longer be held to political review in the nation resposible for a huge amount of the research.

Thanks for having a silly day. It will allow my dreams to leave the intensity of knit, purl and then do...(you have NO IDEA the mental shift required of me today). My poor, bleeding brain will take it's just rest to the sounds of Hotel Mauna Kea. What a delightful thing to sing me to sleep.

Posted by: dr | November 20, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, that was great. Thanks for sharing that.

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 20, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

G'night dr and other boodlers. I'll be here keeping the boodle fires going for a while. This is my monthly late-night deadline day.

If anyone cares to chat, I'm still here.

Martooni... how many doors did you make today?

Posted by: TBG | November 20, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, it looks like I am still getting a lot of credit to which I am not entitled. Let me say a little more clearly, set off with white space and everything:

I did not make the video. I did not perform the music. I did not shoot most of the photography. I *did* contribute substantially to writing the lyrics, I appear in the documentary footage, and I shot a small fraction of the photography (mostly stills). I've been pushing for the principal creators to take more credit, but they have been annoyingly reticent.

There's a few requests for the lyrics. I feel I can't just post them here. We just wrote it and would like to maintain some sense of copyright ownership. Easy enough, except that I don't want to post everyone's real names within the blog in order to assert intellectual property rights. Plus, there's the whole "Rule 6" problem.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 20, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I always thought it was unfortunate that the American people did not get a chance fully flavor the idiocy of caving to the radical right regarding stem cells because 9/11 intervened.

What a wasted 8 years.

Posted by: bill everything | November 20, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I went to bed and was ranting and ranting to my husband about the McClellan story.

"How could McClellan sell out the American people by withholding the information about who leaked Plame's name? It isn't right that he sold out the American people to protect Bush, first, and the Republican party, second, and then wants to rake in big dough for a book deal," I fumed.

"The New York Times has the story as a blog item, and people at the Achenblog are talking about it," I told him. "In fact, one blogger, a guy, at the New York Times asked why the story isn't Page One," I continued. "Why isn't it?"

"I wouldn't buy Scott McClellan's book if you paid me a billion dollars," I protested.

Why isn't the Washington Post reporting this?" I pressed my husband. "What do readers get on the home page of the Washington Post? A stupid picture of Bush pardoning one of two turkeys who this year are named 'May' and 'Flower.' Who cares about these stupid turkeys who'll end up at Disneyland. I mean, really, who cares?"

"Well," my husband drawled, "that makes three turkeys Bush has pardoned."

"Wwwhhaaaaaa....." I puzzled.

My husband laughed,"May and Flower and Libby."

Posted by: Loomis | November 20, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Dr, that is a very accurate description.

Unfortunately a bone marrow transplant is drastic. When you think about it, you could say all organ transplants are stem cell transplants to some degree as well.

I believe if we can research enough to PREVENT the need for even 5% of all transplants, that will save lots of lives.

I know somebody who's on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Dialysis is not enough. People with end-stage renal disease automatically qualify for medicaid, but after 3 years, they will have to find insurance or their own money to pay for immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their life.

Mind you, they're so sick it does give them their life back, of course. Totally. But it's expensive, and there are many risks involved, and every year people die because they couldn't get a transplant in time.

The situation is bad enough that people are looking to harvest pig organs for transplants, and so on.

They've even eyed bunnies as organ donors.

Most thyroid disease are autoimmune in origin, so it's not surprising that human-to-human transplants would fail at a high rate.

Another option might be autotransplantation after the immune dysfunction has resolved. This is pursued in Japan and holds some promise for Graves' disease.

(The last sentence is slightly misleading; calcitonin is produced in many other parts of the body, including the lungs, not just the thyroid gland.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 21, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Ha - Loomispouse got it right!

Tim, I was referring to the collective you - all y'all, if you will. Thanks for telling us about the video - it's very good. Made me LOL, reely. It reminds me of late nights in computer rooms.

TBG, you still there? I'm here, with nothing to say, actually, not that *that* stops me! Hope everyone has a great holiday. Our kiddo won't be home this year for Thanksgiving, for the first time, so it will be a quiet one for us. Mr Ml made pumpkin pies and bread today - smells wonderful. Hope my son has somewhere to go Thursday - I'll bet he does.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 21, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I just caught the last hour of "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"It has been over for 15 minutes and I am still laughing.

It was just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 21, 2007 1:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Not one sign of the story that broke yesterday about the outing of Plame and Scott McClellan's story in the Post news this morning. Oh, well, I guess it isn't news.

We're still getting letters justifying slavery for the life we live in America. Where do these people come from? I can imagine there are lots of people that feel we should be thankful that white men brought us across the ocean to this wonderful country( a free ride). And even more thankful that they didn't hang us all in trees.

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

kbert, your point from yesterday is being fully tried today. It has already put a damper on my day. I shall ignore it after I write another letter.

Where's the coffee?

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 21, 2007 5:01 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' Cassandra a fresh cup* :-)

Congrats to SciTim's crew on a fine production, and thanks to kbert for posting the RFK speech.

*particularly-energetic-due-to-a-half-day Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 21, 2007 5:12 AM | Report abuse

Slyness. Yes some of us are *keenly* aware that it was the anniversary of the Queen and Prince Phillip and can only assume that our invitation to the gala reception was been misplaced by the mail carriers.

We are most vexed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 21, 2007 6:44 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, gang.

Ya know, I have never liked the WaPo's "On Being" feature, much less its poor use of home page space, along with its claim to "Explore the musings, passions, histories and quirks of all sorts of people." I have no desire to do that, much less of a bunch of people pre-selected for me by somebody else, and anyway, it ain't "news" to this ex-newsman. But be all that as it may be, at the moment the object of the "On Being" box is... a turkey. Yes, the Post is inviting us readers to explore the musings and passions of a turkey. As usual, I shall decline said invitation.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 21, 2007 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps we could help save the poor benighted San Jose Mercury News by letting it explore for its readers the musings, passions, histories, foibles, peccadilloes, and quirks of turkeys on its front/home pages.

You heard it here first.

Much agrieved to hear of your deep vexation, Padouk, but you made me laugh. Thanks.

Strolling for the bus, and the final 2/3 of a day of a grueling 2 2/3-day work week toiling deep in the bowels (so to speak) of your ferral gummint.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 21, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse


If Mike Rowe couldn't get a turkey to talk on "Dirty Jobs," I despair at the possibility of a mere Web site to do any better...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 21, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Ha, RD, my invitation hasn't arrived either! I assume you are I aren't closely enough related to qualify. At least, the photo on the British monarchy website only included the first cousins.

G'morning, everybody.

Cassandra, as amazing as it may sound, ignorance and stupidity are still rampant, even in these enlightened times. Personally, I try to go with St. Paul's advice to avoid anything that might offend another even if it doesn't bother me, but some people never figure that out. Idiots. Consider the source and move on.

Mudge, I'm with you on the On Being thing. It's nice that they have the place for folks to air their opinions, but when I've looked at it, I've thought it to be scattered and incoherent overall.

Posted by: Slyness | November 21, 2007 7:23 AM | Report abuse


Today would be a good day to avoid the Style section.

Particularly the movie review pictures.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 21, 2007 7:25 AM | Report abuse

No school today. Must clean up and try to get to the hair appointment for braids. I know the kids are looking forward to this holiday with all the time they get to be out of school.

I've often wondered why it is that some people think that African-Americans don't know racism when they see it. That we are not able to discern this ugly ravenous beast when it rears its ugly head. That we are too dense and ignorant to know when it bites. It doesn't matter the cloak it wears or the pretty suit it is dressed up in or the logic it projects, it's still ugly and it stinks.

Have a great day, and a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends in abundance.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 21, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, ScottyNuke. That is a winsome raven-haired lass in the Style section. But what's with the big puffy sleeves? I guess it's a princess thing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 21, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra - Racists, like the poor, will always be with us. It is simply too tempting a philosophy for unsophisticated minds. But please, do not let the hateful words of a few drown out the loving words of many.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 21, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I warned ya, RDP... :-)

Cassandra, it takes a strong mind to treat people as individuals instead of stereotypes. I'm ashamed to say this country has an ongoing deficit in strong minds. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 21, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Got a morning meeting to approve next year's alien abduction schedule, then I am off to Pennsylvania Dutch country with the dependents for a long Thanksgiving Weekend of family cheer with the in-laws.

Although I will doubtless do a few posts, given the historical nature of said family cheer, the posts might be even more incoherent than normal.

Anyway, I wish to give special thanks to all of you here on the Achenblog and to Joel Achenbach for creating this unique venue.

And to my dear Canadian friends. I imagine that most of America will be painfully torpid from food and drink the next few days. So if you invade, please do so quietly.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 21, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I have been lurking but too busy with life and babysitting on the past two weekends to post anything. With a long weekend coming, I might be able to catch up with stuff like cleaning and boodling.

Meanwhile, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, be safe and happy. Great video Tim, must have been fun to make.

Does anyone here have a suggestion for a good telescope in the $300 range? I want to get one for "S" for Christmas.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | November 21, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

All this turkey talk, talking turkey, and talking to turkeys was bad enough but giving a turkey a newspaper column is too much. It is a well established scientific notion that turkeys are not sentinent beings.
I am convinced that the current push to give turkeys sentinent status is a plot by Pamela Anderson (peace be upon them), PETA, and the Inernational Cabal of Oyster Growers.
On the other hand it's nice the President has finally scraped enough humanity together to commute someone's death sentence. Unfornately the President can't tell the difference between a turkey and a human being.
It must be the crowd he hangs with.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 21, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse


You guys are so cute, thinking that we actually *want* this place. There's barely a decent rink to be found anywhere, and Tim Horton's? Fuhgeddabootit.

Canada needs America to remain a going concern: otherwise we'd have to dump the likes of Keanu, Shatner and Celine into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Posted by: byoolin | November 21, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, try Edmund Scientific. We get a catalogue, but if you Google them, I expect you'll find what you want.

Byoolin, anytime you want to export Tim Horton's, I'll be glad to patronize them.

Posted by: Slyness | November 21, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I confess that I added Tim Horton's because there's one being built about a half-mile from where I live. It just might be the only one within about a hundred miles.

My wife and I have been salivating since it was announced and can't drive by the corner where construction is now underway without whimpering slightly.

Posted by: byoolin | November 21, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I should add that if you ever find yourself in the Tri-State area (I love that phrase - it's something we don't have occasion to use back in Canada), the new Tim's is expected to open in February at the corner of National Road and Bethany Pike, a.k.a. the intersection of US40 and WV88.

Posted by: byoolin | November 21, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Also, new Kit. jack will be immolating a bird.

Posted by: byoolin | November 21, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

New kit:

Still life with leaves

by a BOODLER, no less.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 21, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Too buried in post-vacation work piles to Boodle during the day, and too brain-dead at night. Just wanted to wish all you Muricans a very very happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe on the roads, take a walk after dinner. Watch football. Possibly the best of all holidays.

I'm with the majority; passionate kissing (whether involving tongues or not) is infidelity. As is a furtive lunch, or a hidden exchange of intimate emails. And Himself and I are very much in the TBG/G camp, we both have multiple friendships with men/women, individually, and all above-board.

The Scott McClellan revelation should be front-page everywhere, and investigated. If it isn't, we'll know more than we want to about the real interests of your Congress.

Cassandra, I would say your assertion is true not just of African-Americans. Bigotry and prejudice runs in every direction and thinks nobody sees it as it hits its targets.

Posted by: Yoki | November 21, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Joel: Great post. And hearfelt. As a member of the Rethink committee, I can tell you we're actually looking at doing many of the things you mentioned:

1. No one is talking about doing away with print. Rather, the question is how do we create a distinct new print paper that serves the needs of those core readers, even as they shrink in numbers.

2. And we're engaging many of those folks in conversations. I'm running a listserv where about 60 folks have signed up and are regularly commenting on our Rethink progress. They are not Web 2.0 folks, but rather, readers who have written to us noting they have been subscribing for multiple decades.

3. We're also planning a town hall meeting here at the Merc for other folks to come and talk with us.

4. Choice. One of the things readers have told us they wanted was more choice in the print version of the paper. So we're trying to figure out how to offer a few different subscription plans to deliver different levels of the print edition. Still an early work in progress. But the airline analogy is a good one.

5. Citizen journalism. Moving more folks online will allow us (we hope) to create jobs for community managers who will go out and find the folks who do the type of the things you suggest.

Please keep following our progress and weighing in...



Posted by: Chris O'Brien | November 23, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

As a former San Jose Media News reporter I have some insight about the Merc makeover. Ach writes: Smaller papers and local bloggers could handle the town council meetings and high school sports results." Actually, that's why the Merc's corporate owners bought my former place of work. My reporting colleagues and I were covering communities in a way the Merc was not and they decided it was cheaper to buy us than compete or hire us. As a part of that, they also could run our local stories while paying us half of what (union) Merc reporters were making. My colleagues and I referred to it as insourcing. As for local blogs, we used to laugh when the heralded site Backfence quickly devolved to posting links to our articles.

Posted by: gnushound | November 26, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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