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Florida Discovers Theory of Evolution; Plus "Iowa Nice"

Friends from Florida brought me a clip of an AP story that ran in one of the papers down there:

"Florida's public school students for years have been studying 'biological changes over time,' but proposed revisions in state science standards for the first time would use another term for that concept: evolution."

Wonder what Huckabee would say about that.

Meanwhile, on the plane ride to O'Hare I enjoyed this piece by Sara Rimer.

Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube's greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple's iTunes Store.

In his lectures at, Professor Lewin beats a student with cat fur to demonstrate electrostatics. Wearing shorts, sandals with socks and a pith helmet -- nerd safari garb -- he fires a cannon loaded with a golf ball at a stuffed monkey wearing a bulletproof vest to demonstrate the trajectories of objects in free fall.


[Update: Sorry to have been offline but technology wasn't kind to me today -- gremlins in the Aircard -- but we may be back up and running. I went to an insanely crowded Huckabee event at which he found the only small place to meet supporters in a vast suburban Des Moines shopping mall. Congested spaces are desirable on the campaign trail -- the nightmare is a TV shot of empty seats in the background. Huckabee talked about that campaign ad with the Christmas tree, said there was nothing subliminal about it, and that the fact that anyone complained about it is a sign of how "low" the culture has sunk. He also called Romney's attacks on him "desperate and dishonest."

Gittin' kinda hot out here in Iowa.]

[As I noted in the boodle, I ran into the former governor of Iowa, a certain Terry Branstad, who discussed the reputation of Iowans for being nice folks, and he mentioned the phrase "Iowa Nice." I pressed him on the etymology. He didn't know. But someone suggested that it came from the musical "State Fair" by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Anyone seen it lately?]

Everyone loves the state fair!


Here's the Iowa State Fair "butter cow":


By Joel Achenbach  |  December 19, 2007; 12:27 PM ET
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Next: Iowa Journal: A Very Foggy Campaign


Hi, Martooni. Hi, Cassandra. Hi, CP. Have a blessed holiday season.

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 19, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

If the general public ever learns that evolution and believing in God are not mutually exclusive events, we'll have another Great Enlightenment on our hands.

Posted by: jack | December 19, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading a book about the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta and the ongoing struggle with drug resistant bacteria. Anyone who really doubts that biological organisms can adapt in response to environmental changes should have no problem being prescribed 1940's era sulfa drugs for drug-resistant staph. Don't worry about those annoying oozing open sores. It's just a theory.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

No disrespect to Professor Lewin, who sounds like a great educator, but that monkey in the tree bit dates all the way back to my college days. It's a classic. Of course, the pith helmet does add an extra level of panache.

Another very impressive physics demonstration involves a large heavy pendulum attached up to the high ceiling of a lecture hall. You put your back up to the wall, pull the pendulum to your nose, and let go. Physics dictates that it is impossible for it to injure you on the return trip. But, trust me, there are moments of doubt.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

You forgot thet evolution of the killer cold virus, RD.

Posted by: jack | December 19, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"beats a student with cat hair"

I know exactly what this means, but a small part of my brain keeps thinking it is terrible to physically abuse a student who is cursed with such a tragic affliction.

Okay, I'm all done now.

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

SCC: cat fur. Yeah. Much better.

I, for one, welcome the day when we have to worry about drug-resistant viruses. Because, obviously, that would mean there are drugs available for them to resist.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'd settle for a Mediocre Enlightenment. A second Great Enlightenment would be wonderful, but a Mediocre One would be much more palatable to me than a trip back to the Dark Ages, which seems to be the fundamentalist/evangelical trend.

I'm a firm believer in Science (with a capital "S"), but I like to think there is a Purpose (with a capital "P") for our existence which is driven by something Divine (whatever that is). I also like to think that we are evolving toward a higher plane of existence, but then I look around at my fellow humans and my bubble of thought implodes.

As for evolution, I don't think it is selective. I think it is more accidental. A big-brained mammal with all the potential in the world, the first and most intelligent of its kind, could very easily be squashed or eaten by a creature with a much smaller brain but very large feet or teeth.

Just my opinion.

Time to go freeze my butt off in the shop.

Peace out...

Posted by: martooni | December 19, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Guess I'll have to join Florida Citizens for Science. And maybe fund a field trip by that Instructional Materials manager to the fossil exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. No dinosaurs, but plenty of big mammals, turtles, and Gators.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 19, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I particularly like the disease development example of evolution; as RD says, if there's really no evolution why use a later-developed drug? Why, for that matter, worry about bird flu? SARS? Killer adenoviruses? They shouldn't exist, as they can't have evolved from earlier types of disease. Unless God has decided to make them up and introduce them now just to torment us.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I also enjoyed the article about the physics prof star. He also did that experiment, RD, with the pendulum. After surviving a successful experiment he shouts out, "Physics works!" I may have to find this website myself, pig-ignorant of physics as I am (except, of course, for the half-understood crumbs I glean from the Boodle).

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Good day, all.

Had an interesting thing happen this morning (and no, it has nothing to do with Jamie Lynn Spears (She's the same age as my oldest daughter. Oy.)).

I work on the 9th floor of a building, with a window that faces northeast. There's a balcony that goes completely around the outside of the building on this floor, but is unused except for building maintenance. Crows and pigeons use the railing as a perch, but this morning, a huge shadow blotted out the sun momentarily, and I looked up to see a large waterfowl of some sort alighting on the railing in front of me, looking in the window directly at me.

It was large enough and, well, threatening enough to remind me that birds are evolved decendants of dinosaurs.

Y' know, if it were a stork, I *could* tie it back to JL Spears. But I'm not sure what *that* would have to do with evolution.


Posted by: bc | December 19, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers, he says sheepishly, I should have read that article about Lewin. Of course we did some of those demos when I was in school. My profs clearly stole them from him.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

One look at my extended family will clear up any doubts about evolution (it hasn't happened for some of them yet). And there must be a god who wants me to be happy because there are such things as Manolo Blahnik and Stewart Weitzman shoes.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 19, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

bc, did it look like this, Herons always seem sort of prehistoric to me when they were in flight.

Posted by: dmd | December 19, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

bc: Dooley or Dave might be better at explaining this than I. Some paleontologists argue that the structure of the pectoral girdle in birds have miniaturized versions of the same bones found in the pectoral girdles of some winged dinosaurs. Thus, the arguement goes, the dinosaurs are still among us. The evidence is in the form of homologous structures and divergent evolution, as you observed in your 2.03.

Posted by: jack | December 19, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Ap is just now running this:

Kucinich's Brother Found Dead

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 19, 2007; 2:01 PM

CLEVELAND -- The youngest brother of Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was found dead at his home Wednesday.

Perry Kucinich, 52, was found face down by another brother, Larry, at about 9 a.m., said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office.

There were no signs of foul play, Caesar said.

Dennis Kucinich, 61, is a six-term congressman from Ohio who is making his second bid for his party's nomination; he sought the nod in 2004. He registers in low single digits in polls and has raised little money for what is considered another long-shot run. Kucinich, who is known for his liberal views, has attracted a devoted following.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's the weirdest part of the whole thing, bc. Lynne Spears, mother of Britney (the one who lost her two kids to parenting paragon Kevin Federline) and Jamie Lynn (the one with the bun in her 16 year old oven) has a deal with a publisher to write a book on parenting. Broke the needle on my flabbergastometer!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 19, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

And wine, LiT. We must not forget wine.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 19, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I know a bit about plant anatomy, virtually nothing about vertebrates, except that those skeletons have lots of moving parts.

I think it was during the 1990s that there was vigorous academic debate over the "birds are descended from dinosaurs" theory. Alan Feduccia at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill was a vocal anti-dino.

One problem might possibly have been that ornithologists usually collect feathered skins, not skeletons, so bird bones might not have received the going-over typical of, say, mammals.

By now, the dinobird connection seems pretty well established.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dave. The professor you mentioned put a name long forgotten to my memory of the dinosaur/bird debate.

Posted by: jack | December 19, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy that's kind of like taking psycological advice from dr. Phil as gospel, but maybe worse.

Posted by: Kerric | December 19, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

dmd, it *did* look like that, with menacing yellow eyes, and a fringe around its neck.

And a rather predatory strut...


Posted by: bc | December 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Seems Lynne Spears book deal is on hold - go figure!;_ylt=AnKW7wJYYGD4zRseltHqy_as0NUE

Posted by: dmd | December 19, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

bc: FWIW, Great Blue Herons are quite common in the DC area. They seem to have adapted farily well to urban areas, kind of like the Canadian Geese have.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 19, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Lynne, Britney AND Jamie Lynn Spears?

What is this, Celebritology?????

Near the bottom of what the locals in Wheeling call Two-Mile Hill is a heron nesting area. In the autumn and spring when the leaves are thin you can see twenty or thirty huge black nests high up in the tops of a small cluster of trees. The birds themselves spend a lot of time fishing in the creeks in town. They're magnificent.

Posted by: byoolin | December 19, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

bc says, "it *did* look like that, with menacing yellow eyes, and a fringe around its neck.
And a rather predatory strut..."

You gotta start going to a higher class of bar, there, shipmate. :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The port area of Jacksonville had a powerful explosion today.

Great blue herons do well around people. Here, cattle egrets, ibises, and even sandhill cranes may do likewise, although golf courses really aren't good places for cranes.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 19, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh, we're talking about birds?
That 3:23 was me.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 19, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

As ebtnut says, herons are all over the place in this region. And in fact, the largest heron rookery in the world is on Bloodsworth Island in Chesapeake Bay across the bay from Pax River NAS (which has a big program to help build nests on Bloodsworth). More than half of all herons on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States breed and nest in the Chesapeake Bay region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [quoting from story below]. (And a darn well-edited piece this is, too, I might ad.) [This one not so much.]

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, if you are going to call Macy's could you please tell them to quit phoning us at the office? I loathe those auto dialer computer advertiser calls, and no it does not make me want to shop there.

Posted by: dr | December 19, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

byoolin - Sometimes i like to lurk at Celibritology but this has gotten real weird over there i jus hope they leave poor jamie alone and I should just stop reading those postes before it begins to affect me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

dr, I get those calls at work as well. Does Macy's have any stores in Canada?

Posted by: dmd | December 19, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"I'd settle for a Mediocre Enlightenment."

Martooni you are a genius.

Posted by: dr | December 19, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

bc, did the creature on the rail look anything like this?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

The more I read about Professor Lewin the more depressed I get. This guy has spent his career teaching undergraduate physics and doing way cool demonstrations. What a fun job.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, dmd. I just assumed they did since they are bothering me.

According to the website, they don't. I gotta go and register a complaint because really....

Posted by: dr | December 19, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I wish Dooley was still around. I'd like to know what he has to say about this

Posted by: Yoki | December 19, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Interesting video Mudge. I wonder where I can get a hat like that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

OK, Boodle! Everybody up! Yes, it's time once again for another calisthenic tune cootie! Loomis, on your feet. Padouk, let's go. Martooni, put down the router and prepare to skid across that icy floor. Cassandra, let's go. Ivansmom, put down thewrit of certiorari for a moment and come before the bench. (Yoki, you're probably doped up; you're excused.)

OK, everybody up? Here we go.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I agree. I wish some more familiar names would show up. Maybe if we put out donuts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The Boston Cream Pie ones?

Posted by: dbG | December 19, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Thanks, Mudge. Don't exclude Yoki, though. I think being doped up might help.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Back in the innocent 60's there was a film which advertised itself as having "something to offend everyone" (little did they know our capacity for offensiveness). Called "The Loved One" it was adapted by a novel by Evelyn Waugh with a screenplay by Terry Southern and satirized the funeral business-human and pet- in California. It's no "Pink Flamingos" by any stretch, but it has its moments. The "Mediocre Enlightenment" reminded me forcibly of the scene where Liberace (yes!) as the casket salesman at "Whispering Glades" is explaining the different types of eternal flames available at graveside. There is the Standard Eternal which burns during visiting hours, and the Perpetual Eternal which burns 24/7/365.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 19, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the Navy blocks Youtube, so I can't see what you've got. But, I'd take any tune cootie in exchange for the one that's been in my head since last evening. My wife asked me to scrub the kitchen floor, the old fashioned way with a scrub brush, on my hands and knees. She will have her quilt group over for a holiday party tonight, and just had her nails done. Of course, the only song that I could sing was, "It's a hard-knock life" from the musical "Annie". While she appreciated the effort, she was not amused when I said, "We love you, Ms. Hanagan..."

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 19, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I visit Dooleys blog on occasion. Maybe is we posted there, we'd scare a comment up out of him Yoki.

Posted by: dr | December 19, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice tune cootie Mudge, but not exactly the shoes I had in mind. A little cheek-to-cheek dancing would be nice (I think I remember how to do that), but if I had my druthers, my shoes would be FMPs. (Yours can look like something Maxwell Smart would wear.)

Posted by: LostInThought | December 19, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Golly gee Mr. Curmudgeon, clips from The Avengers sure bring back memories. I practically cried when Mrs. Peel left the show (she was paid much much less than whatsisname with the derby and the brolly) and of course the ratings in the U.S. left with her. This is first class corporate thinking: beautiful brunette in tight leather, drives a Lotus Elan, fights crime, subject of several trillion adolescent male fantasies, wants a raise, who does she think she is? Give that girl the sack!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 19, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

K-guy, I often thought about Mrs. Peel and the sack, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

A see at least one heron a per trip, all seaons, when I ride along the NE and NW Branches of the Anacostia.

I can distinguish several herons, unless they are juveniles:

Black crowned heron
Yellow crowned heron
Night heron
Green heron

And of course, the Great Blue heron that might most iconic of all.

My dad has a perfect name for them:

Needle-nosed pliers of death; however, needle-nosed plyers of death works too.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 19, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Monty Python festival starting at AFI Silver Spring on the 28th...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 19, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

We have herons here too. There is a nesting colony in a riparian preserve near where I live. It's in an office building/industrial area which is also threatened by housing developments. I went a couple of years ago to watch the baby herons when they take their first flights - really fascinating. And there's a heron that flies over my house every day at 7 pm (when there's daylight at that hour - not sure what his schedule is in the winter). I can tell him by his long, slowly flapping wings.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 19, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I still check in from time to time, but I'm not a political junkie, and I've been swamped with work (in part with, of all things, an evolution exhibit).

I've only skimmed the Nature article on the whale ancestor, but here are the major points:

The key feature in Indohyus (the species in question) is one of the ear bones, the auditory (or tympanic) bulla (this is related to the structure that supports the eardrum.) All whales have a unique tympanic bulla, in that one edge of it is greatly thickened into a structure called the involucrum. This is thought to be directly related to the ability of whales to hear efficiently underwater. See this article:

Basically, in whales the entire tympanic bulla (instead of the eardrum) vibrates; the involucrum apparently acts as an amplifier. Note that, while this system works, it's not _required_ for hearing underwater; sea cows and seals don't have an involucrum.

The big discovery, of course, is that Indohyus has an involucrum.

There are lots of additional supporting data, as well. Indohyus is in the right place, geographically and temporally, to be a whale ancestor, and it belongs to the right group (the artiodactyls). It was apparently semi-aquatic (based on osteosclerosis in its limb bones, and O18 ratios in its teeth.) It has a root pattern in its premolars consistent with early whales, and its teeth show the same wear pattern as early whales. None of those things alone is sufficient to call this a whale ancestor, but combined with the presence of an involucrum it's very convincing.

I'll probably have something on my blog about this later this week.

Posted by: Dooley | December 19, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

We'll be watching Dooley. You know the video of making a case for those specimens was really interesting. It was nice to hear your voice.

Posted by: dr | December 19, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I've been on my feet all day. Nice of Loomispouse to tell me TODAY, what he'd like under the bedecked fir. Something I never heard of--a charging station. I thought I was his charging station--sorry, credit card joke.

I see the news about the D.C. fire:

Out of the old EOB there poured clouds and dark fumes,
Could it be that old Dick Cheney had eaten a lot of legumes?
Though the VEEP's suite of offices are pretty much ceremonial,
Is this where Cheney dreams up his schemes--mostly baloney-ial?
The alarm has passed--the fire out and considered a two-alarm clunker,
No worries? Cheney was probably hidden, secure in his undisclosed bunker!

Posted by: Loomis | December 19, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

from the Borowitz Report --

December 19, 2007
Attempting to Destroy CIA Tapes, Cheney Burns Down White House

Veep Apologizes for Accidental Inferno

The White House, one of the most historic structures in the nation's capital, burnt to the ground today after Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to incinerate a cache of CIA interrogation tapes in his office.

According to White House aides, the blaze started shortly after twelve noon, minutes after Mr. Cheney slipped out of a cabinet meeting, saying that he had to "hit the head."

But rather than using the bathroom as he had stated, the vice president instead went to his office and put a blowtorch to a pile of CIA interrogation tapes which the White House had feared might be subpoenaed in the near future.

"I started burning those things and boom, they went up like a rocket," an apologetic Mr. Cheney later told reporters.

The accidental blaze quickly spread from the videotapes to a nearby stack of transcripts of phone conversations involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and singer Barbra Streisand that Mr. Cheney had obtained via a warantless wiretap.

"Once those transcripts caught on fire, I knew the building was a goner," Mr. Cheney said. "There were literally thousands and thousands of pages of that stuff."

Speaking in front of the charred remains of the historic building, administration spokesperson Dana Perino said that the White House might have been saved had it not been for an unfortunate bureaucratic mix-up: "Instead of calling the fire department, President Bush called FEMA."

Waste Someone's Time: Forward to a Friend:

Sign up today for your own Borowitz Reports, click the link below or paste it into your browser.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 19, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

hey martooni, don't push yourself too hard. you don't want a relapse.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | December 19, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for your post, Dooley.

I know whales are supposed to be descended from ugulates, but the image before, in my impression, was of progressively carnivorous proto-cows with a fetish for kelp & carp and the capacity to really moo-ve in water.

It'll be interesting to piece together how the early cetaceans actually lived.

A smaller animal makes sense, mostly because of the flexible backs required for water would be more commonly found in smaller ugulates rather than larger herbivores who have progressively more rigid backs to support the rumen and the weight of the body. Even a modern whitetail has a pretty straight back.

Conversely, carnivores like dogs and cats have more flexible backs due to the smaller guts, reducing the need for rigid backs.

I'm interested in how respiration is strongly coupled to movement in terrestial tetrapods. Horses (and I believe cattle) depend on the inertia of the gut to help drive the diaphragm, kind of like a pendulum as they gallop or walk. Carnivores, having smaller guts, tend to rely on the anatomy of the back and the shoulder to drive respiration as they run.

Pinnipeds and cetaceans of course have respiration that is uncoupled from movement, a key feature of adaption to swimming.
Humans also have this feature because of our bipedism-- otherwise we wouldn't be able to modulate our breathing for speech. (Even monkeys have their breathing locked in with their movement).

I'll be interested to see if there is any way to examine fossil evidence for evidence of the ability to decouple breathing from locomotion. I'd imagine it would be difficult to find, isolated from from other obvious adaptions to water, such as longer, thicker tails, change in pelvis, etc.

I wonder what adaption modern cetaceans have, exactly; I looked up diaphragms in cetaceans and it seems people are still baffled on exactly how breathing works in cetaceans.

I look forward to your blog later on, Dooley!

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 19, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Brava, Loomis, brava!

Posted by: Slyness | December 19, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Sam Ervin said regarding a resolution against teaching evolution: "such a resolution serves no good purpose except to absolve monkeys of their responsibility for the human race."

Posted by: Jumper | December 19, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez, Jumper, you had to bring up Sam Ervin. I wish we had him now...we certainly need leadership of his caliber.

Posted by: Slyness | December 19, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, thanks for that - very funny!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 19, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

**The big discovery, of course, is that Indohyus has an involucrum.**

But, of course.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 19, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I used to see Herons way out here in west by god all the time. But this past year I didn't see any.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 19, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Then when you have found the shrubbery, you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wiiiiith...a heron!

Posted by: jack | December 19, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

What really alarmed people about the fire and smoke was the suspicious absence of brimstone.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Dooley - thanks very much for chiming in. Without your excellent explanation I would have naturally assumed an involucrum had something to do with making Indohyus babies.

So if I understand this correctly, we are looking at some very suggestive circumstantial evidence.

I am eager to read your thoughts on this because, like most overgrown kids, I think whales are super cool.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

*snorting appreciatively at Maggie's 6:35 and Padouk's 7:16*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Long day. Technical problems getting online, too.

I just came from a Romney event, had a nice chat with the former Iowa governor, Terry Bransted (sp?), who mentioned the concept known as "Iowa Nice." He didn't know where it came from, but someone chimed in and said it's from "State Fair" by Rogers and Hammerstein. No doubt someone out there in boodleland knows.

I also saw Huckabee, who tore into Romney for being "desperate and dishonest" in his attacks on Huckabee (not that I have followed these attacks as closely as some folks).

Hillary is speaking in half an hour here in Des Moines and I will rush to that.

Dooley, thanks for the whale info and I'd love to link to your blog posting when you write it, just let me know.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 19, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

JA-Iowa Nice is just a variant of Minnesota Nice. Don't be fooled, they are both covers for some serious passive aggression.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 19, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I need to be updated on the forms that passive-aggression takes, Frostbitten. I would hate to get infected.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 19, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Added a bit to the kit. More in the morning! Gonna follow Huck and Hill toward NE Iowa....

Posted by: Achenbach | December 19, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

There is a rousing number called "All I Owe Iowa" by Hammerstein that talks about all the nifty things associated with the state, but I can't find the phrase "Iowa Nice" in it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 19, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-these entries from the urban dictionary aren't as nuanced as I'd like, but they're not far off.

People often confuse "Minnesota Nice" for friendliness. It is not. It is a way to keep people at arm's length. Which is fine by me. If I wanted to be with people I wouldn't choose to live in a town with just 99 of them.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 19, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Gail Collins in her Aug. 11 NYT op-ed --about visting Iowa that month:

The Iowa State Fair is not actually about politics so much as about finding new things to deep-fry. (Twinkies! Candy bars! Pork-chop-on-a-stick!) This is why Michael Bloomberg is never going to be president. Midwestern fairgoers could never relate to a man who believes all fast food should come with a calorie count.

While Brownback was speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of about 20, the line of people waiting to see Harry Potter carved in butter snaked around the Agriculture Building. Since the statue itself is behind glass for climate-control reasons, the scene strongly resembled the viewing of the Pietà in the Vatican.

Harry, pointing his buttery wand toward the flower-arranging competition, was surrounded by toads and potion bottles and, of course, the traditional Butter Cow which has to be there whether it really fits the theme or not. This was all the work of Sarah Doyle Pratt, a 30-year-old elementary school teacher, who apprenticed under the legendary Norma "Duffy" Lyon, creator of the never-to-be-forgotten all-butter Last Supper.

Truly, if you are into art forms based on dairy products, you have to go to Iowa. The year Hillary Clinton first ran for Senate, the state of New York suffered a deep humiliation when half the world went traipsing through the fair in Syracuse and all we had to offer was a butter sculpture of a refrigerator.

Picture of the Harry Potter butter sculpture here:

Posted by: Loomis | December 19, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

It's "Iowa gneiss"--from the mineral easily observed in the Iowa mountain ranges, near where "The Sound of Music" was filmed. A good reporter would have asked about the spelling, especially on such an important issue.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | December 19, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Many years ago I saw a movie about a state fair, that may the fair you are writing about.
In my opinion, at that time and still is my opinion, there was something that was structurally unsound about the story.
The daughter met a boy at the fair and they made plans to meet after the fair was over. However, the son met a girl who seemingly had a 'questionable reputation' and the family went to great lengths to break up that relationship. The girl must have met a 'nice' boy who apparently did not have a 'questionable reputation' so everything was okay by the family with that relationship.
I am so glad our society has progressed a great deal since then.
Ruth Beazer

Posted by: Ruth Beazer | December 19, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Those physics videos concided with me learning some animation tricks, so I blogged on it.

While linking to the MIT open course ware, I noticed those MIT videos have been apparently translated in Thai, Chinese, etc. but not even open captioned for the deaf. Odd, since MIT offers ASL as filfulling the foreign language requirement.

Wait, maybe the idea that ASL is "foreign" is the problem right there. Folks, American Sign Language is an 100% Made in America product. It's unpatriotic to imply otherwise.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 19, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I went shopping and out to dinner, and just *look* at all the great Boodling this evening!

I love this place.


Posted by: bc | December 19, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Before I moved to my present place, I lived about 3 mins from the beach. There were a lot of herons around. They were pure white and not big at all. I'm now 15mins from the beach but there are none here.

Posted by: rainforest | December 19, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree that there was nothing subliminal about the cross in Huckabee's commercial. Subliminal advertising is supposed to be below the level of conscious recognition to work. Absolutely nothing subliminal about it at all.

My parents feed hot dogs to a variety of birds off their deck in Florida. The bigger birds stand on the deck railing and squack until they are fed. They have a great blue heron called Buffett and an egret named Snowy and some other large prehistoric looking bird that has lost all fear of people. The heron's claws are terrifyingly huge.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 19, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Backboodling was one laugh out loud moment after the other today. I loved Jack's thought wishing for an enlightenment and Martooni, bless you, mediocre enlightenment...wouldn't that be refreshing after 8 yers of GWB and the current Republican campaign!

I love Ivansmom's pig-ignorant. I cannot wait to use that in ordinary conversation.

Please tell me that I backboodled too quickly and I'm wrong that Britney's sister is not pregnant.

Posted by: Kim | December 19, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I would add that:

a: I'd like to know if the Butter Cow is an evolution of the Dairy Cow, or is it genetically engineered?
b: Does the Butter Cow give buttermilk?
c: Is there much churn over the appearance of the Butter Cow at the fair?
d: I'm uncomfortable with the Butter Cow having the same initals as I do.
e: I'm *really* uncomfortable with the proximity of the Hillary Clinton and the Butter Cow images.


Posted by: bc | December 19, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

No, wait- that would be...I'm wrong that Britney's sister is pregnant....

Please, somebody... tell me that.

Posted by: Kim | December 19, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

No, Kim. It's Britney's sister that is wrong. Very, very, very wrong.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 19, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Kim | December 19, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

We have "Seattle nice" - probably the influence of Scandihoovians and transplanted Minnesotans. Very polite, especially in public, but don't invite you to their homes.
Kind of the opposite of the Boodle - ha!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 19, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

"Seattle nice" is closely related to "Curmudgeon perky." It's all the rain that does it. Antidepressant pharmaceuticals will mitigate it, as a rule.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 19, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Definitely, now THAT sounds like Minnesota nice, sort of. Don't say anything that can get you hated, but don't exactly welcome people either.

But this isn't unique to either. It can be a particular disease of small towns, because people are not as used to changing their social sets or welcoming new people as friends. (Or in the other extreme, New York city where people often stay in their neighborhoods for long times and rarely adventure outside their familiar routine).

I have a pastor friend who experienced the same difficulty with a rural church; the people thought they were "welcoming" but a lot of new members were clear that they did NOT feel welcome. I visited the church and I understood why. Their friendliness was more a territorial attitude. "Who are you?!"

I like that L.A. gal who is leading the rebellion. Meeting new people is a skill that is not easy to learn.

I've had to learn it over my life, but I must say small towns have me stumped in that regard. There are very few venues for people to get together and socialize to start with-- games, an annual fair, restaurants, concerts don't promote interacting with others too much.

I get a sense that if I was working in the same place for a year or five, maybe people would finally begin to talk to me. But they wouldn't really be comfortable with "friendship."

The ironic thing is, I had "ties" here and a network already in place when I moved! I'd have to volunteer extensively at a church to make friends, I think, and thats not always a guarantee.

I agree that kind of civil politeness is the opposite of the boodle. It has its very good points. It can be taken to an extreme though; I wonder if TV and other solitary amusements are also largely helping drive this isolation and lack of socialization as well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

There is a song in "The Music Man" called "Iowa Stubborn" which starts off

Oh, there's nothing halfway
About the Iowa way to treat you,
When we treat you
Which we may not do at all.
There's an Iowa kind of special
Chip-on-the-shoulder attitude.
We've never been without.
That we recall.
We can be cold
As our falling thermometers in December
If you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so by God stubborn
We could stand touchin' noses
For a week at a time
And never see eye-to-eye.
But what the heck, you're welcome,
Join us at the picnic.
You can eat your fill
Of all the food you bring yourself.
You really ought to give Iowa a try

Sounds a tad standoffish, rather than nice!

Posted by: nellie | December 20, 2007 12:08 AM | Report abuse

mostly-you could substitute "Twin Cities" for Seattle and that Seattle Times piece would be just as true. In defense of MN, and perhaps Seattle, we can't help it. It took Mr. F some time to realize that I will never, ever, suggest that we ask the neighbors over for dinner. Should he feel so compelled he better give me at least two weeks to warm up to the idea (steel myself actually).

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

You don't like your neighbors? Or you just hate cooking for people you don't know well?

I learned how to entertain at home from an ex... it definitely wasn't something I felt comfortable doing before, as I'm from Midwesterner stock.

I do agree that it can't be "helped" unless people are drastically re-educated.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

On a brighter note: we're just that much closer to tricorders...

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: b9 | December 20, 2007 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-I do like our current neighbors, and don't mind cooking for strangers. In fact I love throwing our annual Chinese New Years party (60 people or so). It's just the small group and one-on-one encounters that are painful.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks B9, that definitely looks like a water-going mammal to me. Long tail, heavy head, short neck and flexible back.

This would have had an interesting gait. The painting is lovely but I regret to say that I question the rodenty nose, the nostrils look too downward. I checked the palentologist reconstructions, and the nostrils are supposed to be at the tip of nose or over the incisors.
The skull photos I see don't have the full skull, so I'll amuse myself with a seal, moose, or otter-like nose in my mental reconstruction instead.

Here are some closely related fossils. The skeletons are quite incomplete here but the sketches are quite similar.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Ah okay, that makes perfect sense. I love one-on-one with good friends, but I do hate having to cook and leaving the person alone. Good friends don't mind, acquaintances are different.

I just can't talk and cook at the same time, so I usually just make it takeout, informal coffee, etc. or cook in advance.

BTW, I definitely want your chinese new years recipes when the time nears.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I've posted an entry on the proto-whale:

Posted by: Dooley | December 20, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

that butter cow scares me.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | December 20, 2007 3:05 AM | Report abuse

*almost-caffeinated-but-not-fully-backBoodled-yet Grover waves* :bg

We're cooking people we don't like now? With butter? What???

*going for more coffee*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 5:11 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Got in late last night, but we're riding again. Because of great friends here, the car is fixed. Thank you.

We have to be off early this morning. School is out, the parties are over. The g-girl got home yesterday with bags and lots of candy, even some fruit. And she ate the orange as the main course with a candy bar to start the whole thing off.

I missed the event at the Center. Didn't get the car until late. The Director came by with bags of goodies.

Can someone explain "cloned food" to me?

Mudge, I liked the video, but could not do the dance. The leg just does not allow dancing, and walking is getting to be a problem too. I used to watch that program all the time. I thought that show was so cool.

When I was growing up, I know ancient days, girls were ashamed when they got pregnant at an early age. I mean they tried to hide that fact. Girls did get pregnant, but they certainly did not tell the world. I'm not making a judgement call here, just noting the change. My mother had three girls, and she threatened to hurt us bodily if we came home that way. We believed her. We had seen her work.

Have a great day, folks. We have some stuff to do today. I wish there was a Santa Claus nearby so the g-girl could see that. Yesterday she touched the big Santa Claus in the neighbor's yard. A quick touch, but a touch.

Morning, Mudge, Scotty, Slyness, and all.*waving* Martooni, sounds like you are a busy man. Take care.

Loomis,love the poem.

Ivansmom, glad it thawing out at your place. Living without electricity is no fun. There isn't anything romantic about that situation.

RD, I know your thoughts were in the right place even though you forgot, don't worry about it. You've already done so much, RD.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 20, 2007 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Avast! Thar she...wades in the shallows? Man the boats! We're gonna go out and harpoon us a ...large muskrat. C'mon, peeps, yer killin' me here.

'Morning, Boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

"My mother had three girls, and she threatened to hurt us bodily if we came home that way. We believed her. We had seen her work."

Cassandra, my mother was the same way. I would NEVER have considered behavior anywhere close to that!

That's what amazed me about Monica Lewinsky. Where in the he11 was her MOTHER? I would have killed any daughter of mine who acted like she did, and they both know it.

Good morning, everbody!

Posted by: Slyness | December 20, 2007 7:06 AM | Report abuse

I told my older daughter about the younger Spears last night. After moment or two of taking it in and pondering the situation she replied "Well she is a Spears". I then mentioned that their Mom was going to write a book about parenting, my daughter just laughed.

The topic did open up a great opportunity to talk to my daughter about behaviour and responsibility .

Posted by: dmd | December 20, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, thanks for that link on your proto-whale.

On a side note, I see that Rudy may not be reacting will to his Iowa poll #s...


Posted by: bc | December 20, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Cassandra. (Yes my heart is in the right place. It's my head that is sometimes stuck someplace it shouldn't be.)

"Cloned food" is from organisms that are genetically identical to each other. They have been produced by taking the genes from the cell from a desirable organism and using this genetic material to grow a duplicate organism.

We have been eating cloned food for many years. Navel oranges are clones, as are many of the other common vegetables and fruits we eat.

Much of the current angst is because the process is being extended to animals. Even though cloned animals, by definition, are precisely identical to the original animal, the process makes some people nervous because it seems "unnatural."

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps "Iowa Nice" is a mispronounced homage to the city in France?

(Man, they tell you to "think out of the box" but they never really mean it.)

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I hope everyone takes the time to read Dooley's Dec 7 entry.

Maybe someone should point it out to Gene.

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

MoF -- very gniess pun there, I must say...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

some of these seem almost too easy:

there were three I totally guessed on


I scare myself sometimes

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse


I'm just glad I got the "first fission" one correct...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "well" instead of "will" in my 7:26.

But you knew what I meant, didn't you?


Posted by: bc | December 20, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Wait, What?...there were two fission questions???

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Assimilating bits and pieces from the kit, here:

Hillary Clinton, slathered in butter, deep fried.

Mmmmm, tastes like chicken!!

Oh, alright, I'm sorry, I'm sorry......

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 20, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

6/11. I will formally file a protest with the author of the quiz on the basis of bias. There is no way a run of the mill biology major such as myself would know all of the nerdy physics and computer science questions. Sheesh.

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Only 7/11 on the scientist quiz. I fell for a lot of distractors. I'm so ashamed.

Not as ashamed as Mamma Spears should be. I'm all over Celebritolgy pimping my blog entry on how to write-in Jamie Lynn's condition into her tweener show. I also suggest Very Special Episodes of other kiddie shows.

The entire post may go over your head if you don't have kids in the 10-14 demographic. I'm not sure what my excuse is. Oh, that's right, my wife works in elementary schools and I have to keep up with the trends. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The Marie Curie question did me a nice clue. It provided the three successful guesses. Without that I'd have made 8/11 for sure.

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid the chuckle factor of Jamie Lynn Spears drops somewhat among those of us with teenaged daughters.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Omni, at first there was just one fission question, then two, then four, and then the test rapidly became unmanageable.

Posted by: byoolin | December 20, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

7 right today. How am I supposed to know what physicist plays the effing bongo drums? Ugh.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 20, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Curt Sxhilling blogs about steroids, and has some interesting things to say:

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Don, I had the same reaction, but sometimes you just have to ignore the distractions. A clue isn't any good if it doesn't give you a clue.

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Don - yeah, like jack says, that one really favors the math and science crowd.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

That pic of Senator Clinton flipping pork (which sounds kinda dirty but really isn't) is amusingly iconic. I mean, what rational country factors accepts community grilling as a valid criteria for elected office?

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

This is physical science scary. A B&E at a nuclear facility outside of Pretoria:

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

8/11, with some guesses that were right. Not too shabby for the English major...

Posted by: Slyness | December 20, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse


'Mudge said "muskrat," didn't he??

RUN!!!! COVER YOUR EARS!! Here comes Toni and that Captain fella!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

See, I knew the bongo drum ones because I've been to a community theater production of "QED". I muffed most of the biology ones and was surprisingly week on astronomy.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Pretty weak on spelling as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Some of the ones I didn't absolutely know I got right because the other two were obvious to me not the right answer. That gave me three easy guesses. Marie Curie gave me another three easy guesses. I could also have scored a 5/11 if the wrong answers were more plausible.

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam....

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

9/11 and ashamed because in the last year I've seen PBS biopics on the two I missed.

Morning boodle. A balmy 27 here this morning, on the way up to 30!

So glad you're riding again Cassandra. And a belated backboodling chuckle to Martooni's "mediocre enlightenment."

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Didja ever hear the version of Muskrat Love done by "America"? I'm pretty sure it was first. No better, but first.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

bc wrote at 11:05:
I'm *really* uncomfortable with the proximity of the Hillary Clinton and the Butter Cow images.

Aren't you uncomfortable with the image of Ron Paul being the recent cash cow?

Last night Anderson Cooper on CNN, and this morning Chris Cuomo on ABC and David Gregory on NBC, had the story of a family of four--a dad and two teen kids and a 12-year-old--being rescued from Inskip in Butte County, Calif., after being lost Sunday in the snow.

One of our reporters, she who became an editor, at the Tahoe Tribune got her reporting chops in Paradise, Calif., the town from which the family took off on its fir-finding mission. I know the area.

It's easy enough to Google to learn that many counties in California that are forested require a person to obtain a $10 permit to go to wilderness areas to chop down a Christmas tree. I can't locate the information about the requirement in Butte County. I would sure like the major networks to report whether Frederick Dominguez obtained the necesary permit on that Sunday when he traipsed off with his brood to the woods to hack down a tree. The reporting says he ditched the tree after he and his three kids became lost.

I can't commetnt because I don't know the details, but I'm beginning to feel my Sierra Club hackles starting to rise.

Saw the Dooley story in today's local paper. Fascinating reading, but the last graf ends with not all of the paleo community buying into the theory. I find it interesting where the Indohyus fossils are located--northern Pakistan. A missing link--from Bambi to Moby Dick?

Posted by: Loomis | December 20, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

If you like the idea of David Bowie playing the role of Nikola Tesla, check out "The Prestige" with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Interesting plot dealing with magic and physics and other stuff. My only criticism would be that none of the characters is very appealing. The puzzles and twists involve you but there is no one to really root for. For whom to really root. Whatever. 8\11 from this one time physics major.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing out Dooley's coprolite blog post on Dec. 7. He's talking about coprolite in the very rough.

Dinosaur coprolite has been around for awhile--say, a few million years, give or take. The first time I learned of it when working in the jewelry trade, I was fascinated, and do own a cabachon of it myself in a mixed "stone" bracelet. For those who are uninitiated, here are some samples, which show the variety and color when the dino scat is put to high polish. There is tremendous color range, depending on the diet and the geologic area where the specimen was dropped.

I was invited yesterday to submit an application to manage a jewelry counter in a new store being opened by a former employer. I'm thinking about it, but don't know if I can take going back to standing on my feet for such long periods of time.

Posted by: Loomis | December 20, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

You aren't trying to induce a Muskrat Love/Horse With No Name tune cootie medley are you? Because that ranks right around waterboarding as an extreme interrogation tactic.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

11/11 on the quiz. I am SOOOO on a roll.

Scotty, I would never stooop so low as to deliver that particular tune cootie, though others have already done so. Shame, shame on them, I say.

*wanders off whistling "Love Will Keep Us together*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez, Joel, ya gotta call the WaPo desk, The lede photo shows a guy boffing a sheep. Well, sort of.

I'm not kidding.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, Mudge, it's probably better than seeing what happens to that sheep next.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else read this? Anybody believing?

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Is there anyone wise in the ways of butter cows? Is that thing made of solid butter, or is butter applied, like a lactose-rich spackle, over some kind of supporting structure? Unless it was carved from frozen butter I can't possibly see how else it could be made.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

DC might be getting a quarter after all:

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link Linda. I knew it was used for jewlery items on occasion, but I don't know that I have seen examples before.

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It is carved from butter, RD. I wonder if the sculptors develop a butter aversion.

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

RDP, you're forgetting the fable of King Lactidas, who was cursed to turn everything he touched into butter...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

It is amazing what you can Wiki, RD here is the wiki entry on butter sculptures and a link to the photo gallery of the butter sculptures at the Royal Winter Fair where the sculpture contest has been run since the end of WWII.

They seem to be solid but not sure.

Posted by: dmd | December 20, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I am informed by usually reliable sources familiar with the region, that the phrase "Iowa Nice" predates the 1945 production of "State Fair." Memories are reported of its being used by a paternal grandfather in the 1930s.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

All knowledge really is on the internet. I googled "butter cow" and found this quicktime video of one being made. This example, at least, is made with a superstructure.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Butter cows, big deal. This from Wiki re: MN's fine state fair butter traditions.

"Since 1965, sculptures of the winning Princess Kay and other finalists have been carved, one per day, at the Minnesota State Fair. Recent butter sculptures have been carved out of a 90 pound block of Grade A butter, in a walk-in, glass-walled refrigerator. The butter is manufactured by Associated Milk Producers, Inc., in New Ulm, Minnesota. The butter carving booth is one of the most popular exhibits at the Fair. The carving of the butter sculpture takes 6-8 hours per finalist. For the past 34 years, Linda Christensen has sculpted the Princesses' butter sculptures. Princesses take their butter sculpture home with them at the end of the Fair." Wiki also has pictures

By the way, at last year's fair the MN state historical society gave away free state constitutions on a stick to kick off sesquicentennial celebrations.

OMG (tweener inflected) I have fallen into the MN is better than Iowa trap. Leaving for FL on Sat. Should be better 4-6 hours after arrival in Tampa, after I have a decent meal.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I found the contest entry for the Royal fair, it is for students of the College of Art, they are given a 25 lb. block of butter and supply whatever else they need.

Posted by: dmd | December 20, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Actually, making a butter cow is pretty simple. First you get a regular milk cow. Then you get a really big churn...

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. I just found a tune cootie worse than "Copacabana."

7/11 on the quiz and feeling pretty good about it.

The New York State fair always had a butter sculpture. Don't remember there ever being a cow, but definitely better than a refrigerator. That's what they get for going with a cut-rate butter sculptor.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 20, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

When we heard the announcement about Tancredo, Raysdad and I looked at each other and said simultaneously, "Who?"

Posted by: Raysmom | December 20, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Whilickers Omni, next thing you know, DC will get representation.

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I should have asked, if anybody cared, Raysmom.

After the first of the caucuses and primaries, do a lot of people fall by the way side? I seem to remember that happening in 04, but I wasn't really paying attention.

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Princesses take their butter sculpture home with them at the end of the Fair." This may explain why no one has never repeated as Fair Princess, although there have been the occasional coronary occlusion and several emergency angioplasties.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

You'd think by now the plastics industry would want to get into the act with a giant margarine statue of some sort, perhaps honoring Molly McButter, or William Shatner saying "Promise."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"Princesses take their butter sculpture home with them at the end of the Fair."

If the fair is in the summer, I can see where that might create a bit of a problem:

"Sorry about your butter sculpture, Punkin'. Apparently that syrofoam cooler in the trunk didn't do the trick. Hey! How about some popcorn?"

Posted by: Raysmom | December 20, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Two ends of the spectrum for your consideration:


and the United States:


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The ways, and rise and fall, of agricultural fair royalty is as hard to divine as the results in IA and NH. I was just recently made aware that Iowa almost dumped their Pork Queen and Princess back in 2005 (check off debate among pork producers, belt tightening and all that). A good friend is a former Pork Princess, back when pork still had enough fat to taste good. Her experience as porcine aristocrat prepared her well for a life as an army officer's spouse. At least that's what I tell her whenever I'm in awe of her social ease-"I could do that too, if I'd been a pork princess."

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

SCC: ways...are as hard to divine, not "is as hard"

Why can't I learn to preview??????

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I think previewing was one of the Pork Princess judging categories, frostbitten... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Styrofoam, of course.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 20, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Paging Weingarten!!!! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Love that cyberchondriac link Scottynuke. The internet is a double-edged sword for parents of children with health problems as well. Yes, it can help augment information provided by your child's doctor, but it can also convince you that your offspring has some terrible rare disease despite the fact that you are reasonably sure said child has never once been to sub-Sahara Africa.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It's party time. Time to slide over the transpatial oscillator and plug in the Karaoke machine. As is good practice, gonna lock up the 'puter as well.

Gosh, hope we have enough beer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 20, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The sine qua non of Pork Princesses-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Then, there's the butter carton dress that no woman would be caught dead or alive in!

Part of an article on the history of butter sculpture--and if you read the entire article, a real tug of war between men and women:

The heyday of butter sculpture coincided with the development of table rituals involving the consumption of butter and with a widespread cultural preference for shaped foodstuffs. Rich butter had long stood for liberality and luxury in American cooking. In the 1890s specialized service dishes for butter, with compartments for ice and intricate hinged tops designed to keep the lid off the napery, were indicative of its high symbolic status, as were butter knives, used only to transfer portions from such vessels to individual "butter pats" or bread-and-butter plates. 28 Like the treatment of salt, the presentation of butter emphasized the preciousness of the commodity.

Everything you'd want to know about Norma "Duffy" Lyon of Des Moines:

Duffy's subjects have also included famous fictional and fairytale characters,
domestic and wild animals, familiar farm scenes, and extraordinary people, including President Eisenhower, Elvis Presley, country singer Garth Brooks and even versions of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and Norman Rockwell's "County Agent."

Posted by: Loomis | December 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

And who among us did not read Miss Piggy's guide to life?

I have always followed her diet advice, "Never eat more than you can lift," and "Never eat anything you don't like."

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I can claim this is "on kit" because of the State Fair musical theatre reference (or maybe just "on boodle" because of the Jamie Lynn Spears news), but I was listening to the Sirius Broadway channel yesterday on my way to work and heard Ethel Merman singing "Doin' What Comes Naturally" from the musical Annie Get Your Gun (boy, do we need italics, or what?).

I have heard this before and when I listened to the words I was aghast. I thought maybe I'd heard wrong, but after yesterday I did a little Googlin' and came upon the full lyrics to the song (most of the lyrics sites don't have all the verses).

This Irving Berlin song is a real testament to the good old days when girls were "nice" and... well.. you judge... especially the verses near the bottom about Sister Lou, Cousin Carrie and Sister Rose...

Folks are dumb where I come from
They ain't had any learnin'
Still they're happy as can be
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Folks like us could never fuss
With schools and books and learnin'
Still we've gone from A to Z
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

You don't have to know how to read or write
When you're out with a feller in the pale moonlight
You don't have to look in a book to find
What he thinks of the moon or what is on his mind
That comes natur'lly
That comes natur'lly

My uncle out in Texas
Can't even write his name
He signs his checks with X's
But they cash 'em just the same

If you saw my pa and ma
You'd no they had no learnin'
Still they raised a family
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Uncle Jed has never read
An almanac on drinkin'
Still he's always on a spree
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Sister Sal who's mus-i-cal
Has never had a lesson
Still she's learned to sing off-key
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

You don't have to go to a private school
Not to pick up a penny by a stubborn mule
You don't have to have a professor's dome
Not to go for the honey when the bee's at home
That comes natur'lly
That comes natur'lly

My tiny baby brother
Who's never read a book
Knows one sex from the other
All he had to do was look

Grandpa Bill is on the hill
With someone he just married
There he is at ninety-three
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Sister Lou ain't got a sou
Although she goes out shoppin'
She gets all her stockings free
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Cousin Nell can't add or spell
But she left school with honors
She got every known degree
For doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

You don't have to come from a great big town
Not to clean out a stable in an evening gown
You don't have to mix with the Vanderbilts
Not to take off your panties when you're wearing kilts
That comes natur'lly
That comes natur'lly

My mother's cousin Carrie
Won't ever change her name
She doesn't want to marry
And her children feel the same

Sister Rose has lots of beaus
Although we have no parlor
She does fine behind a tree
Doin' what comes natur'lly
Doin' what comes natur'lly

Posted by: TBG | December 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Butter sculptures: wondrous are the ways of the county fair in the land between two wide-waters.

I descend from a long line of Corn Palace Princesses....but never earned the honor.

I sport cousins with Iowa-Nice AND Minnesota-Nice genes...I have in-laws with the uber-reserved Scandihovian version of quiet. Sitting still but breathing could be interpreted as both loud and bold. Powerdermilk Biscuits, hey there Frosti and Wilbrod?

Sigh on JL Spears. A little baby is to be born into a family of emotional poverty, limited vision and, uber-self-indulgence. Babies need and deserve so much more than bling, spandex, designer bamboo duds, carbon-neutral strollers, and a cheezy-insipid soundtrack to life.

Greetings to all, as I must put my head down again into the yoke of grading.

And, to Daiwainian (too many vowels, I think, so sorry, dearie) thanks for the greetings.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 20, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

This is funny...

Posted by: TBG | December 20, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I had no notion that Annie Get Your Gun was so smutty. Now I regret not seeing the Bernadette Peters revival of it from a few years ago.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

TBG thats pretty good. I wonder if the editors at the tribune saw the similarity, and printed the front page in that format for that reason?

Posted by: Kerric | December 20, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

To judge from my very, very brief experience at a farmers' market in Taipei, daiwanian farmers would appreciate a midwestern state fair, and vice versa. In particular, I think Iowa could use "pumpkin snow" (containers of dried pumpkin flakes, ideal for thickening soup).

On the side, the new courtyard canopy at the Old Patent Office (Smithsonian art museum/Portrait Gallery) reminded me that the House and Senate Chambers once had skylights, but were given solid roofs around 1950. I suppose those new roofs are still in fine shape, but what if they're aging . . . wouldn't it be appropriate to hire Lord Foster's architectural firm to build new transparent roofs for the chambers? Early Capitol architect Benjamin Latrobe would be all in favor. Don't know about the architect for the House and Senate wings, Walter, whose elaborate decor for the chambers was destroyed in the 1950 rebuilding.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 20, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Good morning! I've done my bit to erode the separation of church and state this morning by singing carols in the Capitol rotunda -- just a nice simple handful, quiet favorites interspersed with a couple of showy (meaning high voice) descants and ending with "O Holy Night". This is my Christmas gift to colleagues and others who work in the building. Here, I'll do one for you. Think of your favorite carol. Now imagine me singing it to you. There you go, a personal tune cootie.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It was really worth seeing the Capitol rotunda on Saturday. Apart from the dome, frescoes, and whatnot, the simple walls are wonderfully handsome. Wonderful room for carols, assuming the acoustics work.

Now how about Patent Office roofs for the House and Senate?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 20, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I've got Britney and family singing that song in my head. Thanks TBG.

Maybe the Spears could get a gig on my favourite show, "The Trailerpark Boys."

Posted by: Bokko999 | December 20, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Dave, I was at the Oklahoma State Capitol. However, it too has a dome, murals, lots of art on simple walls, decorative molding etc. In fact, after a lot of money and effort going to restoration and commissioned portraits and murals, it is one of the most lovely state capitol buildings. This fall, in celebration of our Centennial, we opened up a climate-controlled art gallery in one first-floor wing, to display some of the state's collection.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, have you read the One-Eyed Mack novels of Jim Lehrer? I'm thinking of "Crown Oklahoma."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Despite lots of publicity here, kurosawaguy, I've never read any of the Jim Lehrer novels. Maybe some day. I have nothing against them, as far as I know. Should I read "Crown Oklahoma"?

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Hi, guys *holday wave*. Sorry I'm a bit late to the dance. They seem to think that I should get some actual work done before I bail for the next week. Got 10/11 on the quiz-missed the bongo one. Am I spending too much time with the Discovery Channel?

Posted by: ebtnut | December 20, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

For something really challenging:

31 minutes with clues on

Posted by: omni | December 20, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Way to conjure up those lyrics, TBG. I can't square the image of Ethyl Merman singing that song with the image I have of her disco days. The destruction of her disco records and others between the two games of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park is legendary.

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

yello-I saw the Annie Get Your Gun revival with Cheryl Ladd in the title role. Reba had just finished her run. It was superb, and Ladd was surprisingly good. Even Frostniece #2 and Frosdottir loved it, despite being in their "old fogey musicals are so lame" phase.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I had no idea that Ethyl Merman had done a disco album. The horror, the horror.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Lehrer writes his books to relax, and that's the way to read them. A good beach book or airplane book. If you want to read the Mack, start at the beginning with "Kick the Can."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Of course I know you're in Oklahoma. My slip. Got Washington in my brain this week.

There are some lovely state capitols. Pennsylvania's is grand, maybe too grand for its own good.

North Carolina's old Capitol is architecturally very much in the spirit of the one in Washington--different architect, but same similarities to the work of Sir John Soane, an inventive and influential London architect who's still very much admired. The NC House Chamber has served as a movie substitute for the old US House Chamber, today's Statuary Hall.

I understand the Virginia Capitol has a neat new underground wing.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 20, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, just wondering if you had to make a reservation to sing or apply for a permit?

I ask, because we have a situation locally that may test the constitutionality of city-sponsored or -approved assembly, coverage in today's paper:

When is speech not free?

Whenever it's spoken en masse by particular people on the streets of San Antonio, according to an ordinance recently passed by the City Council.

The ordinance has riled two local coalitions, both of which have sued the city. Today, the groups plan to seek an injunction in federal court against the new measure that requires most organizers to foot the bills of a street procession, including those associated with traffic control and cleanup.

Exceptions include parades or marches with "citywide significance," said Mayor Phil Hardberger, such as the Martin Luther King March and the César Chávez March.

"Not gonna be constitutional," said Scott Powe, a law professor at the University of Texas, citing the First and Fourteenth amendments. "Can't do that. The city is saying some things are more important than others, and it's not the city's function to decide what types of ideas and symbols are important."

City Attorney Michael Bernard, who said he took into account ordinances from across the country in creating the new measure, rebutted the notion that the U.S. Constitution requires government officials to recognize all gatherings equally. ...

The lawsuit, brought by the International Women's Day March Committee and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition, was sparked by the Nov. 29 passage of the ordinance. The groups also name as defendants in the suit [Mayor Phil] Hardberger, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Police Chief William McManus. ...

Hardberger defended the new ordinance as a "content-neutral" measure that depends on a fixed formula to calculate the costs of a procession based on its length, size and duration. Such a measure, he said, benefits general taxpayers who might not agree with a given gathering's political message.

"It's your message, so you should have to pay for it," Hardberger said. "It's just like renting a house."

Ivansmom, I'd like to request...

It's not Christmas without Grandma
All the family's dressed in black
And we just can't help but wonder
Should we open her gifts or send them back?
Grandma got run over by a reindeer...

Posted by: Loomis | December 20, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

You can bet that Ivansmom's voice rattled the rafters of whatever Capital she was in. I'm picturing a diva like I saw on TV doing a Christmas show from Ford's Theater last night. Just don't have your favorite crystal goblet nearby.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 20, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Two for yellojkt:

First, as the kids say, Mad Props for your contribution to the Celebritology chat today, specifically the name "Hannah Montana Wildhack."

Second, in addition to doing the disco album, wouldn't it have been great if she'd done covers of Alive Cooper's greatest hits? I'd pay cash money to own something by Cold Ethyl Merman.

Posted by: byoolin | December 20, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Alice Cooper, not Alive (or Aleve, or Algarve).

Posted by: byoolin | December 20, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Ethyl Merman was the hottest babe at the gas station.

Ethel Merman, now she was Sunday night Ed Sullivan perfect. Just maybe not disco.

Posted by: dr | December 20, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I think you should have to pay for inserting that tune cootie into the public domain :-)

Posted by: dmd | December 20, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for call-out, byoolin. That's a much easier chat to crack than Weingarten.
for more Liz Kelly Celebritology chat.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

That's an interesting ordinance, Loomis. At the Capitol, I believe demonstrations, etc., outside may have to get a permit but I'm not sure. I've worked on several events held in the building; usually you just have to reserve what rooms you need and arrange in advance for any chairs, etc. One can't sell merchandise at events in the building, though you can give it away. We also get a lot of school groups, etc., performing or having scholastic displays. They reserve the space. There is a monthly event calendar which tells you what is happening when and where (and how many people it is expected to draw, very useful for parking plans).

As I just stand out there and sing, and need nothing, I never reserve anything. I usually check the calendar to make sure nothing is going on, though this close to Christmas that's not a problem. For a few years I would have them put me on the calendar once I decided when to sing. This happened because in a previous administration, I heard secondhand that someone from the Governor's office seemed huffy that I wasn't on the calendar. I couldn't figure out whether they were unhappy because I didn't follow the rules (if I didn't), or because they didn't know when it was and might have missed it. I don't think the latter was it -- if you have your door open while I'm singing, or if you're anywhere in one of the public halls, you'll hear it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If you want a funnier song along the lines of The One I Refuse To Name, try this one about some (rein)deer hunters:

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I was picturing you as part of a group singing. You do this solo, and a capella? Wow - that takes some chutzpah. Brava!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 20, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Greetings from Waterloo -- home of about three John Deere factories. I am going to go around praising International Harvester and see what kind of trouble I can stir up.

Spent the morning at Grundy Center. Now heading back west to Webster City. By the end of the day I will have seen a decent chunk of Iowa. Except that its completely socked in by fog. You can't see a dang thing.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 20, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, mostlylurking, but I think of this as the easiest kind of singing. I can choose whatever key I'm comfortable with at the moment, I can alter my playlist (as it were) to fit the mood of my audience, I can take liberties with an arrangement if the moment seems right.

I enjoy singing with others, too, and with a good accompanist. A couple of days I had the surprise pleasure of singing a handful of carols with a very accomplished violinist who is based here. He and I showed up at the same time to sing carols for the owner of a retail establishment here (the only person for whom I'll sing Twelve Days of Christmas). Naturally, we performed together. He's so good he could play in any key, and we followed one another so well he could improvise around my melody. It was a rare treat for me, and I think our audience liked it too.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Solo. A capella. Wow.

My own Iowa experience was 2nd grade in Iowa City. I recently looked up the memorable house we inhabited on Friendly Ave. Still there, still painted white.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 20, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you'd better watch that International Harvester talk. Those nice Iowans have guns.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Boss, my brother-in-law is the mayor or Janesville, the next town up from Waterloo. He also works for John Deere. Those folks just might take a dim view of you singing Deck the halls with International Harvester. I can't guarantee your personal safety.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 20, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel might prefer the overall whiteness of NH right about now, doncha think?


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that was priceless. For some reason I could not stop thinking about "The Money Rolls In" when reading it.

To the tune of "My Bonny"

My father makes books on the corner
My mother makes second-hand gin
My sister makes love for a dollar
My god, how the money rolls in.

(Chorus Below)

Rolls in, rolls in
My god how the money rolls in, rolls in
Rolls in, rolls in,
My god, how the money rolls in.

My brother's a poor missionary
He saves fallen women from sin
He'll save you a broad for five dollars
My god, how the money rolls in.


and other verses not suitable for WAPO or my friends.

Posted by: Yoki | December 20, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

And I meant the white of SNOW vs. FOG, of course... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Were there any donuts left over from yesterday? Come on out, y'all. Maybe RD will bring us the beer leftover from his party.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 20, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

For anyone wanted the composite unexpurgated lyrics:

We'll make it the closing number of the Boodle Caroling Party.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Poster is from Ontario, Canada...not Waterloo, Iowa...

The week before Christmas
And all down the street
Not a plow was seen stirring
The snow three feet deep!

When out of the carport
There rolled with a snort
A little grey tractor
With a plow of some sort

The controls were near frozen
The seat icy cold
Show some respect
She's near 60 years old!

But little by little
With pops from the stack
The game little tractor began its attack

Wide open throttle
Motor right on the boil
Muttered a prayer
To the ninety weight oil

Working the blade
So slow it would seem
Swirling snow on the hood
Turning to steam

The neighbours all gathered
To look and to point
When they saw the small Fergie
Start to clean up the joint

It huffed and it puffed
With a mighty big grunt
Who would have thought
So much from this runt?

Axles are buried
Snow up to the rad
Spinning and slipping
Fergie starts to get mad

Dancing on brakes
And finessing the clutch
Despite loaded tires
She was slipping too much

But the tractor and rider
Were firm in their plan
To push and drag snow
And help fellow man

And slowly but surely
There appeared some clear street
It started out small
Just a few tiny feet

The neighbours were cheerful
And thought us quite handy
Why one friendly lady
Brought a wee cup o brandy!

Til long after dark
The tiny tractor did chug
Dragging that blade
While engine did lug

Finally one car-width lap
Of the street was completed
Took almost 4 hours
But we had not been defeated!

Then back under cover
With a pat on the wheel
The chilled driver climbed down
With no sensation or feel

Next into a bath
With a hot mug of tea
Too weary to move
Or get out to go pee

And off into bed
We then fell with a sigh
Only to wake to a sound about five

Down the street it did come
With a rattle and crash
The city's big plow
Through the snow it did splash

Foot firm on the gas
He roared forward and back
No sign did he leave
Of our first little track

So much for our efforts
Little tractor and me
City plow scattered snow
And made it look so easy!

Never mind I told Fergie
It's OK, It's alright
It's the thought that's what counts
Maybe more snow tonight!

Posted by: Loomis | December 20, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Loomis I used to drive by the Massey Ferguson plant on the way to my grandparents as a child, acres of tractors.

Thanks for posting that, I am assuming the original poster was from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Posted by: dmd | December 20, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel is in Waterloo, Iowa.

Posted by: crc | December 20, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

It's a real good thing journalists aren't economists. They sure seem a little fuzzy on that supply and demand thing.

Sales are down, so let's raise prices.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The usual supply-and-demand arguments don't work in the newspaper business like they do elsewhere, yello.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Prof Lewin reminds me of my HS physics teacher. He was already doing the monkey in the tree by 1961. My favorite act of his was when he ran across the demonstration table in the front of the room and crashed into the wall by the hall door. Hitting so hard, and falling so limply, surely he must be badly injured! After what seemed like a very long wait, he popped up and proceeded to plot his location vs time, velocity vs time, and acceleration vs time. No way to forget that. The slinky that ran the length of the room on a string, suspended from the ceiling, made unforgettable demonstrations of simple harmonic motion, too. In college they wanted him to go on to graduate school, but he wanted to be a teacher. (I went to the same university a few years later, and even a professor of geography remembered him, not to mention the physicists.)

Posted by: LTL-CA | December 20, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that was really, really, funny. Where did you find that? I'm still laughing. I know I'm going to be thinking of that tune the rest of the evening.

The g-girl and I are walking again. The car put us down at my dad's house. The repairman going to pick it up, and redo whatever he missed. It's all good. I'm tired and the leg hurts something awful, so the bed is looking real good. I'm just going to wrap my arms around it big time.

Oh, after I read the book, Ivansmom. We got it today! And the g-girl almost took it away from the delivery guy before he got on the porch. Thanks a bunch.

Well, the weekend is almost here, and it will be Christmas. We passed out our Xmas cards to our neighbors here in the complex. The g-girl did the passing out, grandma's leg hurt too bad. She loved it. I just know when that little girl leaves here, I'm going to miss her so much. But she will have to go, eventually. God is good.

Have a good evening, folks. And I know I've said this before, but I do hope your holiday is the best, and that in the New Year, blessings abound. Please know that prayers are sent up for you every day, and not just you, but your families too.

Night, boodle.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 20, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

HEY BOODLE!! i think i just MIGHT be able to boodle tomorrow!!!! just wanted to drop in and say MERRY CHRISTMAS! yeah, i know it's not pc but i've never been accused of being pc so...
dmd - i laffed when your daughter said "well, she IS a spears!"

Posted by: mo | December 20, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Mo! *Hug*

Happy Christmas to you, too! Hope you do Boodle. We miss you.

Posted by: Yoki | December 20, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Hi, mo! Happy Holidays! Season's Greetings! Peace!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 20, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

HI mo! Good to see you. We missed you at the BPH last week. Merry Christmas to you, too! or maybe Merry FSMmas!

On that note, here is a holiday pageant we might go see

Posted by: TBG | December 20, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse


Happy Holidays!!! :-P


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 20, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas, mo!!!

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I promised this recipe a looooong time ago. Since it is the holiday season, I'll pass it along now.

Grandma Sue's chocolate pie (verbatim from the recipe card)

cook crust.

3 egg yolks
3 heaping tbsps. flour
3 " " cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk

low heat and stir until thickens real thick
Add 1/2 stick marg. & 1 tsp. vanilla and combine when marg. is melted and mixed in well
pour into crust
refrigerate until firm

optional meringue topping: [use egg whites separated from yolks above,] beat egg whites, then add 1/4 tsp. cr. of tartar
add 6 tbsps. sugar last (beat until peaks form??? I don't know as we usually serve this without the meringue and top it with whipped topping instead. This is very sweet and always goes fast.)

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I promised this recipe a looooong time ago. Since it is the holiday season, I'll pass it along now.

Grandma Sue's chocolate pie (verbatim from the recipe card)

cook crust.

3 egg yolks
3 heaping tbsps. flour
3 " " cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk

low heat and stir until thickens real thick
Add 1/2 stick marg. & 1 tsp. vanilla and combine when marg. is melted and mixed in well
pour into crust
refrigerate until firm

optional meringue topping: [use egg whites separated from yolks above,] beat egg whites, then add 1/4 tsp. cr. of tartar
add 6 tbsps. sugar last (beat until peaks form??? I don't know as we usually serve this without the meringue and top it with whipped topping instead. This is very sweet and always goes fast.)

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

ohh all the hugs! i missed this place! sorry i missed the bph! i worked late into the nite that nite - xmas is sposed to be the time to relax at work! not at MY job!

Posted by: mo | December 20, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Mo!!!! Again with the hugging!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

jack, is that 3 inches of cocoa? 3 feet? I get so confused...Sounds good!

I had a good day today. Did not work, which is the best part. Went to a large chain bookstore to pick up a cookbook for Mr Ml - found 2, and a few smaller things for him too. Found the book "U2 by U2" on the bargain shelf for myself. Resisted all the chocolate and Bush countdown calendars near the checkout stand. Bought yarn for Mr Ml's cap (which he requested), and signed up for a sock class. Got home just as the rain started - it was sunny and dry for the first time in weeks, but with dark clouds threatening.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 20, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

oh you love my hugs mudgie poo! *snicker*

Posted by: mo | December 20, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

That recipe reminds me of the one for sugar cookies from Mr Ml's mother. It was in her handwriting, and over the years it got spatters and batter droppings on it. When I finally tranferred it to the computer, I realized I had been misinterpreting a direction to "cream together" with "cream of tartar" for years. Oh well.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 20, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Mo! So good to hear from you, merry Christmas!

We are having a good day, #2 dottir got her grades (2 A's, 2 A-'s, a B in physics, which thrilled her) so we are celebrating with TJ's carbonated cranberry juice. Now if the ethernet cable would come, so she doesn't have to hog my computer...

Posted by: Slyness | December 20, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Long foggy day. I'll post a new kit when humanly possible. In the meantime, can someone explain to me how the snow generates fog? I should know that sort of thing. Or does it just LOOK like it's generating fog??

Posted by: Achenbach | December 20, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Heaping tbsps.. Typing deficiencies, ya know?

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Cold snow + warm air = fog

At least i think so. here is west by god sometimes we get that fog that freezes on just the tops of the mountains, the name escapes me at this momment.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 20, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Bingo, gwe! Advection fog: warm air passes over a cold surface and becomes saturated with water vapor that condenses as fog.

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, Slyness--Hi, mo (and hi to your mom, pass it on) Hello Cassandra, and Happy Holiday Greetings to all.

I got through a grueling day at work--all my managers need special end-of-year reports and data for their marketing plans and so on; each of them has a different idea of how to do it so I get to be creative under pressure. That wouldn't be so bad but it's in addition to the other sundry crises and my regular end of month and end of year stuff. So no boodling for me today.

Tomorrow morning I get my reward--leaving for the Keys with my daughter, in time to watch the sun rise over the Gulf--or is that Florida Bay--or the Atlantic Ocean--anyway, we'll be driving through all of them, watching the birds and the water and listening to the songs she put together for this year's traveling music. Listening to music together is a good way to spend time, and the three or four hours will give us a chance to catch up a little--she's been away since August!

The other third of the family will be driving down a little bit later in the day because he has to work in the morning and also because he's bringing a van full of artwork to sell while he's there.

I'll check in tomorrow, see if I can post some pictures. Key West is very beautiful this time of year. (All the time, really, but now in contrast to the frozen north it's more impressive.)

Posted by: kbertocci | December 20, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

JA-temperature inversion. The entire state of MN was under an air quality alert yesterday with fog so thick the sunrise looked like a harvest moon through the haze. Looks like the whole state of Iowa is socked in now

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

We get lots of misty fog in Seattle, but the worst I have ever been in was in eastern Washington, where they get the temperature inversion type fog, I think, in the winter. You can't see a thing.

kb, the Keys sound wonderful - have a great time. I was in the Keys one time, and as I mentioned to you, I don't remember many of the details (like which island I was on), but I remember camping on the beach and how beautiful and clear the water was. You could see where the Gulf was by the difference in the color of the water - or so I was told.

jack, thanks, I figured out the quotes were ditto marks - eventually. This is why my husband cooks, not me...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 20, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

This asteroid has a 1 in 75 chance of impacting on Mars...,0,6729483.story?coll=la-home-center

Posted by: jack | December 20, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

9/11 on the quiz.

I found this about Ron Paul on Wikipedia.

"He served active duty as a flight surgeon from 1963 to 1965, attending to the ear, nose, and throat problems of pilots in South Korea, Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey, but was never sent to Vietnam. Based out of Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Paul achieved the rank of captain and obtained his private pilot's license. The experience of performing physicals on helicopter pilot candidates, at a time when he saw many copters being shot down, deeply affected Paul; he later considered his indirect association with the Vietnam War as a catalyst for his rejection of interventionist foreign policy."

Posted by: Jumper | December 20, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Long time no see. Stick around a while.

Enjoy the Keys. Make sure you see a sunset. I went with my family once Thanksgiving weekend and had a blast.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 20, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Fog in the Central San Joaquin Valley of CA is like white butter in thickness. I miss that mysterious fog coming out of an almond orchard...but the fog can cause those fifty-car pile-ups on I-5 or I-99. Almond trees are beautiful; in my next life, I hope to live in such an orchard.

Called Tule fog, for the tribe of people who lived in the reedy, cat-tailed marshes, this fog is especially cute when spelled by third-graders as Toolie Fog, or as one of my little brothers called it

Tom Dooley Fog.

And that is your nighttime tune cootie. The Kingston Trio is in the building, with Pete Seeger in the wings.

Mo and Yoki in one day....wonders.

May I complain? I really don't like that song "All I want for Christmas" anymore...the one that closed the Hugh Grant-as-a-single-Tony-Blair movie. And, "Santa Baby" belongs to Earth Kitt. How dare those other poseurs cover that! Fine them, Mudge. Thank you. I apologize for this critic corner moment.

Greetings to the night-shift folk, out on the Pacific Rim.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 20, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Seems like things are winding down for most of us as Christmas approaches. I'll be happy when tomorrow night arrives. We had the cookie decorating gang on Tuesday, the granddaughters did a good job with a maximum application of frosting. Daughter #2 is very creative and did the majority of the cookies. The puppy was well behaved except for his periodic gastrointestinal eruptions - sort of overpowered the gingerbread aroma.

I have the last loaves of Swedish bread in the oven. With some help from one of the young guys at work my gift for "S" (the telescope) is now in the house. It was delivered to my office and I wrapped it there. As it weighs about 50 pounds and is in a rather large box, I didn't want to bring it home too soon and give "S" time to guess what it is. He hasn't noticed it yet as it's on the porch. I can't wait to give it to him.

One more day of work and then I'm off until next Thursday.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 20, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

The hugging bandit did a drive-by raid! I enjoyed "I think Monroe Shot Rudolph"-- never heard of that one, perfect carol for deerhunting country.

I also like Loomis' choice, but if you may, Ivansmom, would you do a rendition of "Nuttin' for Christmas?"

I was inspired (sorta) to write this (and let's hope Joel's week goes better than this!)

Boodlin' For Christmas

I left my Indohyus lead;
The boodle snitched on me.
I kitt'd about candidate Fred;
My PC glitched on me.
I spilled some ink on WaPo's site;
I bashed Sosa out of spite;
Toured Ms. Raitt with nuclear lights;
Somebody snitched on me.

Oh, I'm gettin' boodlin' for Christmas
This lil' Achenbach is sad.
I'm getting boodlin' for Christmas
'Cause I ain't been nuttin' but bad.

I wrote a note on Edward's hair
somebody picked on me.
I tied my day up in despair
Cable guy ditched on me.
I did a piece on Republicans
Yeah a third world war, my buns
Nukes of Iran there be none
Now I ain't gonna emcee.

So, I'm gettin' boodlin' for Christmas
This lil' Achenbach is sad.
I'm gettin' boodlin' for Christmas
'Cause I ain't been nuttin' but bad.

I won't be seeing any applause;
Candidates kicked on me.
Boss won't come praising me because
Clinton ditched on me.
On Trail I'll be going straight;
On Trail I'll be good, just wait
I'd start now, but it's too late;
The WaPo switched on me.

So you better be good whatever you do
'Cause if you're bad, I'm warning you,
You'll get boodlin' for Christmas.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Rime's so beautiful, especially when the rising sun hits it but the temperature is too low for it to melt. Is that what you're looking for, boss?

Posted by: Slyness | December 20, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Joel, if you mean fog over bodies of water like in this shot of Lake Superior at -20 C: (second photo down)...

The answer is simple. The warm moist air evaporates and rises from the lake and starts condensing due to the cold and extremely dry air. Think of puffing in the cold, you can see your breath. Same thing.

That situation (warmer moist body of water under cold dry air) is also why Buffalo has scads of snow from the "lake effect."

I'll leave it to others to load you up with scientific terms for the effects, since I'm no meterologist. Frostbitten probably has the correct term with "temperature inversion".

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

The fog JA is experiencing is common when temperatures warm to near or above freezing after there is snow cover. Moisture from the snow is trapped under a layer of warm air aloft (warmer air on top of cooler, thus the term inversion as air usually gets cooler as altitude increases, about 5 degrees F per 1,000ft).

With light or no wind this fog can be very persistent. We had a kind of perpetual twilight all day yesterday.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 20, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

yello... I think kb will be sure to catch a sunset. After all, her husband was one of the folks who began the Sunset Celebration there.

Have fun kb! Enjoy your girl and the beautiful drive. Think of us up north, especially JA slogging around in the Whatever You Want to Call it Fog.

Posted by: TBG | December 20, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

That's not fog, Joel. You're in the middle of a blizzard. Either your glasses have misted over, or have your eyes checked.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 20, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I return, victoriously. 11/11, no guessing required.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 20, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Should hikers steal an idea from squirrels and consider wearing "eau du serpent à sonnettes"?

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

You could be onto something Mudge. After all, Joel IS a Florida boy...

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse


I got 11/11 on the quiz, only guessed on one (more of a process of elimination, at that).

mo, *so* glad to see you in here this evening!

Wilbrod, nice work on the lyrics.

jack, that recipe made me snort in a good way. And that asteroid hit on Mars *should* be interesting, if it happens...

Joel, all that fog - d' ya think the Ron Paul campaign people are going to try to top Edwards' Raitt/Browne concert from the other day by having a Spinal Tap / Disaster Area double bill, with a statewide fog and light show? [I wonder if that asteroid hitting Mars is part of the show, too?]


Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Sadly I got 9/11 first guess. I hadn't heard of Grace Hopper (did know Herschel), or that computer programmer (I guessed Turing).

My "women in science" education seems to have stopped after Curie for physics and technology. (Now if they had mentioned McClintock and other leading biologists...)

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 20, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

rhime or hoar frost or whatever you call it is very cool. especially when it freezes in the air as well and the air shimmers with floating sparkles along with everything else. saw that a couple times in moscow.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | December 20, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I dispatched two little Cuban/Hispaniolan palms to the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden today. They're unlikely to make the collection, but are nice enough to be used for auctions or whatever.

The garden is a small startup, but they had a clever display at the US Botanic Garden this summer.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 21, 2007 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks all for the freezing fog name.

Saw a glimmer of moonlight over the Potomac on my commute home tonight and a train with it triple lights shining, it is so cool when I time my commute just right to see the train from the overlook.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 21, 2007 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, Brava! I think what you did is so cool.

Wilbrod, thanks for the link. Animals can be so intelligent.

We've got very sunny weather in the morning and afternoon. Of course, when my laundry is out, it won't be a sunny morning or afternoon. It'll definitely rain. In the evening, it either rains real hard or threatens to rain. This is the raining season and it's driving out all kinds of creatures from their homes. This morning found a snake under the cupboard in my living room. At first I thought it was an extension wire. On closer look, it was yikes! yikes! yikes! I had to call a colleague to come over and get rid of it. I think he killed it. I thought I left all the snakes behind in my old place. I guess not. I'm out of kilter the whole day. Harrrummph...

Posted by: rainforest | December 21, 2007 4:24 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Well, it's Friday -- that's a good thing. And the start of a four-day holiday weekend -- that's a good thing. (Don't know if you non-govt., non-Warshington peeps out there in the world are aware of it, but Bush gave the entire feral gummint off on Monday. The gummint is kay, kay, klosed for bidness all day Monday [at yer expense; and thank you veddy much, Murica].)And Christmas is only four days away. That's good, too.

The WaPo editorial page, often much-maligned, has an editorial taking Huckabuck to task for his floating-cross Xmas ad. E.J. Dionne has a column 'splaining why the GOP is quaking in its Gucci loafers over ol' Huckleberry.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 21, 2007 6:13 AM | Report abuse

rainforest - Good luck with those snakes! And I thought crickets were annoying.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 21, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I just want to let everyone know for the record that I am still in my forties.

Thank you. Carry on with your day.

Posted by: TBG | December 21, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks RD. Now I have to remember to fill the gaps under the doors every evening with something. And I'm at an age when I don't always remember things. Sigh.

Posted by: rainforest | December 21, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

My nautical $0.02 worth on frost and fog:

Ice rhyme or horfrost is the bane of cold weather sailing. It can build up to unbelievable thicknesses on topside rigging. That will screw up your stability, big time, or at the very least ruin the rigging.

Advection fog at sea is also called "sea-smoke" by the salty old dogs like Mudge.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 21, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

RD, at your suggestion I'm re-reading Napolean's Buttons, but this time I'm trying not to bleep over the finer details of organic chemistry. But I've got a question...when it says to focus on a particular part of the molecular structure, will my eyes adjust so it will become obvious how they added an extra H? Is it like staring at the wine glass long enough to see the two faces? If not, the chances of me getting it are pretty slim.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 21, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Ahem. As the holiday season is upon us, and many of us will not be at our computers between now and the 25th, I feel the sick compulsion to inflict upon you my annual mangling of some beloved Yuletide favorite.

The following should be sung lustfully to the tune of "Up on the Rooftop."

Up in a Starbucks WiFi lair
Sits a man with flyaway hair
Stares at his laptop as in a fog
As he tries to update the

Yo! Ho! Ho!
Joel Achenbach
Yo! Ho! Ho!
Joel Achenbach
Oh hurry Joel don't
Make us wait
Or from the kit we will

What's on his mind?
What will it be?
Perhaps a
Manly recipe?
Or warnings about
The atmosphere
Or something else
For us to fear


With politics he
Shows great form,
Despite the risks
Of a Rove Storm
And then there's thoughts
On outer space
And visits from
Some alien race


And though we love the
stuff he thinks
We also dig those
Pics and links
So thank you, Joel
You bloggin' dude
You'll always have
Our gratitude

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 21, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Lostinthought - Yes, that can be tricky. I found that copying the structures on a sheet of paper helped them to make more sense.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 21, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. We're up and eating pancakes. The g-girl up at six this morning, and no one called her. Can't sleep with a four year old running around.

Eugene Robinson's op-ed piece this morning really hits the nail on the head about the Clintons. Women really do have a tough way to go. If Mrs. Clinton can rein in her husband that will certainly exhibit "Presidential skills". I just don't see him wanting to playing the other role. You think?

And I don't see the base Conservative Republicans embracing someone talking about God and treating every one "good". I can see them embracing the conversation, but please let us not try that. These folks have got to be shaking in their shoes(did not read Dionne), that simply is not their style.

Slyness,it is raining here. What's up in Charlotte? I'm happy to see the rain, we so need it. Of course, it could be warmer, but I'm not complaining.

Can anyone tell me about Ron Paul. I saw this picture on television with him and some people, and it was very much a mixed bag. What does he stand for? He seems to have a good following. And the potential to raise a lot of money.

Thanks RD for explaining the clone food. It is scary going grocery shopping now. So much stuff to choose from, but you just don't know really what you're eating.

Mudge, do you know why the fight in New Orleans about tearing down the housing complex? Why did the people get so upset? Are they rebuilding or just leaving every one homeless? I keep thinking that every thing done in New Orleans is a ploy to rid the city of folks like me. And that's a hard thought, but it looks like bad treatment at every turn. Yahoo had the video, not the story in words, or I could not find it. I hope you don't mind answering my questions.

Have a good day, and just think the count down to Christmas is almost there. On television this morning, so many people at the airports. I do wish every one a safe journey wherever they're going. And you guys too.

Morning, Scotty, Martooni, and all. *waving*

Got the book, Ivansmom. A question, why that particular book? Just asking.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 21, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

RD, thanks for that unabashed love song.
Yo! Ho! Ho! Deviate, indeed.

TBG, you'll only be able to make that claim for the next 24 hours or so... then we'll have to change the record.

LiT, personally, I'm much more comfortable looking at those structural formulas - skeletal, Lewis models and whatnot - slightly crosseyed anyway. One of the reasons I'm more of a phyisics guy is because I can assess colored graphs and charts more easily. Those big chains with benzene rings can give me an ice cream headache.


Posted by: bc | December 21, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Padouk, love the song. Hope JA loves it.

And we're not going to blog during the holiday? Will the Achenblog close for Christmas? I don't think I can talk to people that long, I mean those you can see.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 21, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Well said, well sang, RD. Thanks. Also for boss, thanks for bringing all these imaginary friends together. Have a merry Christmas.

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 21, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

RD, copying it doesn't really help. Maybe they add the H the way I add garlic? If you're running low on Hs, can you borrow a cup from a neighbor?

Posted by: LostInThought | December 21, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

LiT, take two Hs and call me in the morning.

LiT, this link might help:


Posted by: bc | December 21, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Last night I tried to use the Jamie Lynn Spears event as a teachable moment for my 17-year-old son, but he had no idea who she was. We went downstairs and caught the last five minutes of Zoey 101. It seems that a rival queen bee mean girl was blackmailing Zoey with something embarrassing. Zoey was about to confess to the whole school when all the other kids stepped forward Spartacus-style and each confessed something embarrassing about themselves. My son and I entertained ourselves by yelling "I'm pregnant!" Rocky Horror style before each line. According the to the WaPo TV column, they already have a fourth season of the show in the can. The subtextual fun than can be had for these unaired episodes is going to be on par with Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies.

Right after Zoey came a show called iCarly about a 13-year-old girl that has her own webcast. She tries to build her audience by sucking up to a prominent blog that is run by an overly prim 11-year-old dweeb. He tries to exchange a good review for romantic favors. Much awkwardness ensues. These tweeners have some fine television to watch.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 21, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Whoops, got all LiT up there.

Gotta run.


Posted by: bc | December 21, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I think that for many, especially our valued lurkers, the Achenblog is an at-work diversion. And since many people will be off on Monday, I figured that now was a good time to punish, I mean, delight folks with my affectionate parody. I don't think Joel as any plans to shut down the blog over Christmas. Besides, how could he?

LiT - Hmm. Maybe bc's idea of crossing one's eyes will help. I'm going to try that myself. Works with those 3D pics.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 21, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, here is a fairly complete rundown on Ron Paul-

Many people consider the guy a nutjob. Although quite a few agree with him on individual issues, most people will find a lot of his positions extreme or absurd or both. He loves guns and capital punishment and hates abortion and taxes. He wants to get us out of the UN and withdraw just about all American troops overseas, do away with the IRS, No Child Left Behind, and on and on. He voted against the Iraq war. He believes strongly in civil liberties, freedom of speech, etc. Low taxes and smaller government are real ideas with him, not just slogans, but when you examine how he proposes to get there, things get sticky real quick.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 21, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I never mind answering any of your questions, so don't ever hesitate to ask whatever you want.

1) Ron Paul. He's theoretically a Republican, but of a small but very intense political "cult" (in my view; sorry, yellojkt) called "Libertarians." These folks believe in absolute minimal government, which sometimes "sounds OK" on the surface (it's fashionable and even Jeffersonian to decry big government), but it depends on just how far you want to take it. In my view, they jump way off the deep end of the pool, and want to throw out the baby with the bath water (to mix metaphors). No taxes, no "safety net" programs, no dept. of education, no dept. of energy, no EPA, no laws against fun stuff like marijuana, no this, that and the other. It all depends on how far you wanna go -- and these folks generally go pretty far. Most Libertarians tend to be highly conservative Republicans, but there is a strain of them that are on the extreme liberal side, too (i.e. the anti-marijuana-law folks) who in my view border on anarchists. Paul also wants to return to the gold standard, which is an economic concept from the 1880s and 1890s/William Jennings Bryan era that is sooooooooooo far out in right field it has no chance whatsoever of ever happening. But one of the things people like about Paul is that he is opposed to the Iraq War, always was, thought it was a mistake, etc. (But then, the reason he was opposed was that he doesn't believe in much foreign policy of any kind, is basically a modified isolationist). On a personal level, he is very plain-spoken and out-spoken, which people like -- even though he's basically wacko. He'll draw about 5 percent of the vote and generally be a spoiler and pain in the a$$ to the "mainstream" Republicans. He's kind of the Rightwing Nutcase response to Ralph Nader on the other side.

2) I haven't followed the NOLA housing thing too much, but I think your basic instincts are correct--they want to screw the former local population, which was mostly black, as everybody knows. The big, rich (white) corporations have descended upon the city, want to buy up all the cheap land (that was destroyed and used to belong to somebody else), and "rebuild" NOLA -- which sounds good on paper, and in fact needs to be done. But we both know they are not going to build housing for the poor people of the 9th Ward, for instance. So yeah, it's just one big mess, and not getting any better. (And you just KNOW Bush and the administration ain't gonna be any help to anybody, white OR black.) You've heard of the "gift that keeps on giving"? Well, NOLA is the tragedy that keeps on being tragic. It's a sore that will never heal (properly). And I don't have to tell you which people are gonna be on the losingest side of it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 21, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Bravo, RD, that was delightful!

Yes, Cassandra, cold rain here. Also rain is in the forecast for Sunday, Tuesday (oh no!) and Friday/Saturday. How strange is that? Not that I'm complaining. The bad thing is that Mr. T's brother and family are coming today, from the DC area, and will have to drive in it.

I hope Joel will give us a holiday kit and then let it all go for a week, instead of making the blog go dark. I don't know that I can stand not being able to check in with everybody for a whole week. Please, Joel?

Posted by: Slyness | December 21, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Morning All,

Morning Mo, sorry I missed you last night, hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Heard about a soltice celebration in TO tonight sounded like a lot of fun with a parade, lights, bonfire and music from Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannakah and other festivities (are there solitice songs?).

gwe, I have always known it as hoar frost, best display I ever saw was on a drive from Lake Louise to Jasper, the first half of the drive was through an area covered in hoar frost and glistening in the sun - take your breath away beatiful.

Good chance we will have a foggy weekend as the temperatures climb, still a fair amount of snow but temps are supposed to get to 10c with rain.

Posted by: dmd | December 21, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I'd add that Mr. Paul has a very strong following in the usual Libertarian strongholds of the Northeast and the center of the country.

When I was in NH and Massachusetts this past summer, every diner seemed to have been decorated or run by Paul supporters.

I snagged some bumper stickers and other RP for Prez swag for curiousity value.

On a related note, I see that Tom T is about to declare, "Tancredo, *out*!"

I wonder how Romney's campaign people feel about Tancredo throwing his support that direction...?


Posted by: bc | December 21, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Tancredo has enough support to throw? I'd bet his support is more the "moves easily with cheap electric leaf blower" type.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 21, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

FYI, a friend of a friend sent me this link to some photos he'd taken at the Fleet Week event in San Francisco harbor recently, showing (among many other things) the fantastic Blue Angels air show. Our friends up in Haute Maine may be interested as well, as there was a Canadian Navy destroyer there (in the pix) and some Canucki blyboys (OK, flypersons). A lot of his photos are really outstanding. (Heads up, Don--you'll love this.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 21, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - Wow those are incredible photos.

Posted by: dmd | December 21, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

new kit

Posted by: dr | December 21, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

New Kit. Joel is fog bound and foggy-headed.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 21, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Hi LiT,

I found out in two classes that I have the spacial-thingie:

geometry, and
organic chemistry.

Now, not that I can put it to use, but I loved organic

My fondest college memory concerning class was the amphitheater seating 200 person classroom. During a quiz on stereo-chemistry -- where right-handedness or left-handedness of molecules really matters -- if you turn around, the gyrations of all students trying to chase in their mind's eyes where the hydrogen is and where it will go? Very funny, and even tragic. The stress in the room was very high though.

Physics and me? Not so good, save when handedness counted.

The best part of new media and teaching are the animations that make all this stuff clearer. Molecules move in specific ways, their wonders to perform.

About NOLA, a former student whose family lives there says that Mexican mob -- and perhaps other flavors of organized crime stuff might be underway in the construction industry. Another rising phenomenon is that many Latino families are looking to move into devastated areas and live communally for a few years, sharing houses, as a way to boost themselves into homeownership. The other idea is to rebuild, live, flip the property and then return to Central America and live in a gated community on the proceeds.

RD -- can you protect me with helicopter hover time, if this post places me at risk? Thanks, in advance. I'm knitting the boa scarves for your boss's wife now.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 21, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely. CP. Absolutely.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 21, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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