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Poll This

[Cross-posted from The Trail.]

This is the season when the polls swarm. They blitz your inbox, they infiltrate your home page, they creep up on you when you're not looking and goose you in the hindquarters. They lurk in the dark in prime toe-stubbing locations. In the morning you'll see a dead mouse on your doorstep, and you'll think: Dang polls.

The profusion of polls is the inevitable consequence of this year's historic disassociation of campaigning and voting. Nowadays candidates mostly campaign as a way to become sufficiently plausible to raise a lot of money. But in the past, campaigning was inextricably and intimately connected to voting. There were RESULTS. The data wasn't [weren't?] hypothetical, weighted, projected or extrapolated. Reporters could say, this is what happened. Bottom line: Voting is clarifying. Polling, not so much.

Can you trust the polls? I dunno, ask President Kerry.

What's tricky when you're a journalist is resisting the temptation to read too much into a narrow lead that's within a poll's margin of error. Like, if Obama is up by three points over Clinton in Iowa, which is within the margin of error, do you say he's in the lead, or that it's a dead heat? If I had to write that story, I'd say, "Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) is sorta winning in Iowa, kinda," or language to that effect. Journalists are always so reluctant to use excellent words like "might" and "maybe" and "kinda" and "sorta" and "shoulda" and "woulda."

One thing that worries me about the margin of error of a poll is that I suspect that even the margin of error has a margin of error. You know, they'll say there's a margin of error of 4 percent, but do they mean EXACTLY 4 percent? Or 4 percent with a margin of error of .15 percent?

Turning to Wikipedia - speaking of things with an innate margin of error - this is what we read:

"A poll with a random sample of 1,000 people has margin of sampling error of 3% for the estimated percentage of the whole population. A 3% margin of error means that 95% of the time the procedure used would give an estimate within 3% of the percentage to be estimated."


There are different kinds of biases in a poll, including sampling bias, response bias and non-response bias. For example, Wikipedia tells us:

"Survey results may be affected by response bias, where the answers given by respondents do not reflect their true beliefs."

Gettin' kinda murky.

Of course I do my own polling when I'm on the campaign trail, in the sense that I accost strangers and ask their opinion. People wearing hats are the best. You rarely meet a person in a hat who doesn't have interesting thoughts. Also nuns are great. So hats and habits, those are the flares that say "Interview me." Also anyone wearing a sandwich board sign, and punks on skateboards. So perhaps when I do my surveys there's an eccentricity bias.

Compounding the confusion for political prognosticators in Iowa is that it isn't a normal election, but rather a "caucus" process in which people can, over the course of an evening, CHANGE THEIR MINDS. This introduces the little-understood effect known as "squishiness bias." People can switch from one candidate to another, kind of like those football voters who at the last second elevated Louisiana State into the title game.

Listen to what my friend David Von Drehle writes at Time:

"Huckabee has never lost sight of the core fact of the Iowa caucuses: turnout is minuscule. Because of inconvenient scheduling (on a school night and opposite the Orange Bowl this year) and arcane rules for voting, candidates can look like giant killers here with about as many votes as it takes to be elected to the Fresno school board."

Today some New York-based newspaper had a piece about cellphones causing pollsters headaches, because you can't poll people who only have cellphones and don't have landlines. A friend tells me, "The great thing about this trend is that it could at least theoretically put an end to polling as we know it. If the pollsters can't reach you they can't poll you. And even if they can reach your cell phone, it isn't tied to any specific location, so how will they do an 'Iowa' poll if half the people in Iowa have 917 or 646 or 202 area-code cell phones?"

Oh, they'll do one, you can bet on it.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 7, 2007; 11:46 AM ET
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Next: Waiting For the Cable Guy


first? I would think that the candidates would get tired of the polling. It borders on something that's obsessive/compulsive.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Sheesh. Pollibng using cell phones? I guess brain tumors are low on campaign workers' list of priorities.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Scc: polling. I'm fit to be typed.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Achenblog:

As a member of the Fresno School Board, I take great umbrage at your scurrilous and disrespectful comments regarding our election proceedings. It appears that everyone feels Fresno is fair game for cruel jokes and insulting references in Toyota advertisements. Just stop it. If you don't cease and desist from your snide quips we'll have to seriously consider a raisin embargo. That will teach you.


Theodore L. Frank
President, Fresno School Board
Fresno, CA

Posted by: CowTown | December 7, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Reporters are lazy. They just report what these various polls prognosticate, rather than actually go out to Iowa in January (!) and talk to actual people who might go to the caucuses to see what they actually think. Folks are less likely (I think) to say something other than what they actully believe if you ask them face-to-face.

I am coming around to the notion that this current nomination system needs to be scrapped. It has now become essentially a continuous process, beginning at the end of one presidential election and only ending four years later. I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to the "smoke-filled room", but do we really want to rely on the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire voters to decide which person should be our candidates? For all intents and purposes, the spring primaries will be useless. Gotta be a better way.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 7, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Reader | December 7, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

eb: Think of all of the fun that would ensue if it was the right kind of smoke filled room.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Cows, you don't know how much we've missed you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

From the parasite file: Parasites that cause rats to crave cat urine. Yuck.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, ebtnut, do you think? (About the face-to-face thing.) If it's a question of responding the way you think someone wants you to respond, or the way you think you should feel (even though you don't), I would think that being face-to-face could lead to more misrepresentation than methods that feel more anonymous. That social pressure/saving face thing is stronger in person.

Posted by: bia | December 7, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

...exits lurking mode to be the 22nd reader...

I kinda like the idea of random elections. Let's say, no sooner than every two years, and no longer than every four years, we have a random presidential election. The election is announced, and we have primary elections 30 days later, and a national election 30 days after that. No stinkin' electoral college. Ready, set, go!

It might help to focus the attention of the average voter, especially since my pinko-liberal vote might actually mean something here in the Old North (Red) State.

An unfortunate side effect would be fewer journalists wandering the back roads accosting simple Iowans wearing hats. (Or is that a side benefit? Not sure.)

Yes, there is the obvious problem of who gets to choose the random election time. The simple answer is, I do. You can trust me.

Posted by: bigcranky | December 7, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

bigcranky, thanks for jumping in.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Repost. I don't want Tim to miss this. If he doesn't already know.

Anyone remember this Oldie but Goldie? Check out the upper lefthand corner of the page.
Hint. SciTim was involved.
There will be an interview with Chris Comer later at the same address.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 7, 2007 11:54 AM

Posted by: Boko999 | December 7, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Joel, please take note-
Proposed Guidelines for Targeted Interviewing:
Reporters must always seek those most likely to have well formed, quotable views on specific issues. Here are a few keys to selection and relevant issues-
Immigration: construction workers, landscapers, housekeeping workers
Gun control: men in blaze orange and\or camo clothing
Abortion: nuns in habits
Health care: occupants of ER waiting rooms
Bush tax cuts: Gulfstream and Learjet owners
Same sex marriage: patrons at Elton John and K.D. Lang concerts
Legalized marihuana: Ricky Williams
Iraqi war: Achenblog Boodlers at McCormick & Schmick

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I gotta wonder if the thing about people wearing hats has anything to do with fly-away hair. Or how people with hats respond to people with fly-away hair.

There's probably a margin of error for that, too.

Then again, maybe it has to do with the static build-up.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 7, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Phew! What a plunge: going from casualy Ablog peruser to actually boodling. I feel like I need to be initiated or something. I'll take the goldfish over the paddle.

Anyway, as much as I find the primary system entertaining in a morbid sort of way, it doesn't seem very democratic. Even with a lot of big states moving up, NH and Iowa still dominate the nomination process disproportionately to their populations. Plus, I think the old system of backroom deals and ballot-after-ballot, marathon conventions has a misty nostalgic beauty to it. Why not split the difference? Let states replace primaries with delegate elections and then let the actual nomination vote occur at the convention with the delegates voting as representatives of their constituents. If every Iowan counts for half a million New Yorkers in the current system, why not have 100 New Yorkers represent them instead?

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

That would be "marijuana" not its little known and slightly less enjoyable cousin "marihuana" which is an emetic as well as a hallucinatory. You still see colors, but they're really really ugly colors.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

23! It's an invasion. Push them back with a stick, install a filter, do something fur crying out loud!

Posted by: shrieking Dobbs | December 7, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I've been counting lately, Dobbs, and you're way off. I only felt 'cuz it was closing in on 30.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"I've been counting lately, Dobbs, and you're way off. I only felt 'cuz it was closing in on 30."
There's a word missing in there somewhere ...

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Safe? Do you feel safe now, McJacob?

Posted by: Kim | December 7, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey hey calm down. Here, take a toke on this marihuana joint. That'll sort you right out.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Safe... yeah that was it. I guess shouldn't boodle while smoking marihuana.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey, welcome aboard, New Peeps! Since you folks are new, and because its a cold dreary Friday afternoon, I think the entire Boodle needs a tune cootie AND a bit of cheery exercise! So, c'mon, Boodle. Everybody up. That's it, get up from your desks, wherever you are. You, too, Joel. Loomis, c'mon, up. Wilbrod, you won't be able to hear this, but you can watch and follow along. K-guy, stand up, please. That's it. bc. Cassandra. Everybody.

OK, everybody standing by your computers? OK, here's your tune cootie AND your exercise for the day. No slackers, please.

Awright, punch it:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

No paddle, McJacob. Unless you *like* that kind of thing.

Bigcranky! Was just wondering about you!

Posted by: Raysmom | December 7, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks k-guy, I feel much better but a bit peckish now...

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 7, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I was going to rhapsodize on the wonder of a visit to the USS Arizona, Mudge, but that video just pushed the whole thought right out of my head.

Posted by: Slyness | December 7, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

But did it make you laugh? If so, my job here is done.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

And did you do the dance?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, my Corporate Computer won't execute videos or audio files unless they originate in our corporate-controlled electronic domain. Bah!

So, what was the tune cootie?

And, good to see ya'll.

Posted by: CowTown | December 7, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Cows, are you on the Backboodle? If so, I'll tell you there. But I don't want to spoil it just yet. I'll tell you by the end of the day here (unless you want to play it at home).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it made me laugh.

No, I didn't get up and dance. Rhythmic movement isn't my strong point.

Posted by: Slyness | December 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow - seeing how rythmically challenged they all are - could be my family.

Posted by: dmd | December 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Jack, toxoplasmosis also manipulates mice in being less afraid of cats. They've been wondering what happens. The rat study is interesting; mice and rats are very olfactorily oriented.

The research so far indicates toxoplasmosis may attack the amygdala (the fear & anger master control in the brain). Humans aren't immune; Toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can trigger miscarriage, and it is also indicated in schizophrenia.

Nobody knows what and if adult toxo infection has permanent effects, but this research totally explains the mental oddness of cat collectors and people who apparently LIKE the smell of unchanged kitty litterboxes.

Remember... if you care, don't let your family or friend suffer from excess kitty urine.

Now for a poll:

View this

THEN decide-- funny, clever, insane, cloyingly cute, or cynically exploiting mentally ill cat-lovers for a buck? Write in any alternative answers, of course.
I'm not Gallup, I don't MAKE you answer biased questions like:
"Do you think Mitt Romney should come out of the closet about his secret barechested rock star career wherein he wears a wig, makeup, and nipple rings? Yes or no."

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I did have to wonder if every new poster gets a personal welcome from the big guy. Hmmmm. (Thank you very much, BTW, I do feel welcome.)

That said, I've been lurking here for a couple of years, and posted some early on. But I'm usually unable to keep up with the comments, so I dropped back to lurk mode. But I enjoy the generally intelligent commentary and the sense of community here.

Posted by: bigcranky | December 7, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I'm not sure which was more disturbing: that a bunch of people would willingly appear in that video or that anyone would do that to a cat? I guess I need to get out more ...

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: corones | December 7, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ignore please violations obvious of grammar rules in post previous. Coffee more need I.

Raysmom, thanks.

Posted by: bigcranky | December 7, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Good grief Wilbrod. For shame, for shame. I at least warned people before unleashing an emetic substance.

Posted by: kurosawagy | December 7, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I think the candidates should be totally honest about all their freaky activities.

Whenever I hear about the controversy over Romney's Mormonhood, I'm reminded of the one time I read the Book of Mormon. Ever done it? It's a real hoot. My impression was that 50% of being a Mormon is keeping your underwear clean. Oh, and cursing the daughters of Zion. My sister really liked that part.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: test | December 7, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

How does the wig hold on the cat's head? Staples or pins? Rivets? Glue maybe?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 7, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I remember you and Jlessl as well. It's always nice to have the infrequent posters drop by once in a while.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Bob_Greiner | December 7, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Catching up... K:LOTD wrote, "Reporters must always seek those most likely to have well formed, quotable views on specific issues."

It reminded me of a recent story in the Onion (unlinkable from my work PC, alas) which reported that 38% of the American public were not sufficiently qualified to form their own opinions. About anything.

Posted by: byoolin | December 7, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ask anybody who took woodshop (like me) and they'll suggest a c-clamp with a wingnut to to fit the wig on, Shrieking Denizen.
(This also allows for the "arrow-through-a-wig" option as well.

But I don't know what THEY use. Probably nothing near that secure or metallic.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I like this McJacob. Welcome (back).

Posted by: Yoki | December 7, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

So, yes I go with your rivet option. Those cats do look riveted, right?

Byoolin, so should I drink Coke or take coke? Or neither? My brain is exploding from making all this decisoning.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear from you again, bigc. I need more coffee too. The school district controls the temperature of our building from some 12 miles distant and the HVAC is nuts today. The AC component of the HVAC in my room turned on today when the outdoor temp is hovering in the high 40's. Welcome, McJ.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Has any poll ever correctly predicted the Iowa outcome? If so, was it merely by chance?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 7, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking (fondly) of a hot glue gun, turned up to 11.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

It's an important step when journalists question the veracity of polls. Making people think about what poll numbers mean has to be a worthwhile and educational activity. This should be front page news repeatedly right up to election day. Good job.

To address the finding of the Trail items titled Joel's Two Cents. I wanted to reread one, and the only place it could be accessed was through this blog.

Is it a secret identity or something?

Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey Corones... are you logging in to the WaPo site to comment on an article and then commenting here?

That's how you replicate the handle-stealing effect.

[Unfortunately, the minimum number of characters for an official WaPo login ID is four. That's why my official login ID is -TBG- and not just plain ol' TBG.]

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I thought I'd catch a few of you on the Eighteen57 historical date. I couldn't respond because I was out shopping.

As for Yello's question about Edward Steves--Steves cut down trees.

Supposed to be about 83 or 84 today--possibly record setting, as was last Sunday's 86. Rain coming at the first of the week. Suppose it's time to pack away the tank top and shorts. *sigh*

Going to a Christmas party tonight, not sanctioned by the company. A small gathering in a private home--what's left of the systems group--billed as "the last chance to get together," which it technically really isn't. Some of these folks will not have a job that carries past mid-year '08, so I feel sad about the whole idea of celebratory gathering.

It's also at the home of an Loomis-FellowEmployeeSpouse and wife, she who prides herself on the fact that she attends the same Bible study group as former Spur David Robinson. Just wish it were in a far more secular setting like last year, when we ate at that wonderful Chinese restaurant with the chef very recently arrived from the Bay Area. At least it's only a block away, so we'll walk.

I suppose I ought to be wagging a finger at myself for stubbornly mentally resisting this party all week.

Posted by: Loomis | December 7, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Mudge (can I call you Mudge?) the problem with the glue is that it'll stick to the hair, not the bone. As anyone with a cat can tell you, the hair you see now will soon be the hair on your couch. I say woodscrews.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm a Pepsi guy. And my favourite white powder is iocaine.

Posted by: byoolin | December 7, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

As I've said before, phone polls represent the opinion of people willing to take phone polls. Being, you know, a nice guy, I once took one. I was rewarded by being barraged with polls from everyone from our congressman to the local radio station. My wife has forbidden me from answering any more polls, and gives me an especially frosty look whenever one calls.

Even beyond the self-selection of phone polls, the wording of polls of any kind can easily guide the results. This is usually done by politicians wanting to gin up support for their positions, but I have seen it other places as well. By inserting absolutes like "always" and "never" any resemblance of nuance or subtlety is removed.

So how to plumb the depths of America's psyche? I think Joel touched on it in his last line (There's some journalism term for that isn't there?) Betting. Like they do over at Slate.

I mean, I figure nobody has a better insight to a person's soul than his bookie.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 7, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Iocaine ... so that's what I do not smell.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Sure, you can call me Mudge.

I'm fine with wood screws, if that's how you wanna go. I think I'd recommend bronze or brass; steel is too likely to rust.

Anyone for Molly bolts? You get to drill an oversize hole in the skull, and then you get the additional pleasure of inserting that fold-down wing nut gizmo inside the cerebral matter.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the betting method of political polling is the same problem with gambling lines in general: they look at things logically where people are involved. New England was supposed to steamroll Baltimore, but real people don't perform the same way every time and everyone who made the smart bet, the Patriots would cover the spread, lost. Smart gamblers lose all the time. Just watch the Cincinnati Kid.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

dr, glad that I am not alone.

I tried to find Joel's Two Cents in the Trail. It is not on the front page. No direct link to the Trail. I need to go to the and scroll down to find it. Or even search in the The difficulty to find the article I am interested to read may be the reason I just skip it in the past.

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 7, 2007 12:21 PM

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 7, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Ears. or Velcro.

Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Since bc doesn't seem to be around, I'll through it on out there...duct tape.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 7, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

daiwanlan, till you said it on the last kit, I thought it was only me.

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

You people are making me feel physically unwell talking about cat-mutilation this way. Of course, I am also audibly laughing. I don't know what is wrong with me.

Posted by: Yoki | December 7, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Too much marihuana, Yoki? Watch out, it is an emetic.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Try this dumb quiz. 3/10 I got 3 4 and 5 right.

Posted by: omni | December 7, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I was going to suggest double sided tape to hold the wig in place, then final application with pop rivets.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I think this story may have legs.

"To give you an example of what I read," Whitehouse said on the Senate floor, "I have gotten three legal propositions from these secret OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note-taking could reproduce them from the classified documents":

1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President's authority under Article II.

3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President's legal determinations.

There's a vid at the link.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 7, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

A suction cup filled with polyurethane glue (think big ape) should work.
Or stitching it in place using a shoemaker's sewing machine.

I almost took a telephone poll once. I was in a pretty good mood, standing there at the phone with my snifter of Grand Marnier, basking in the glow of the pre-meal cocktails and a couple of bottles of wine so I said yes I'll take your poll mylady.
First question: Are you between the age of 18 and 25? No I said, thruthfully.
Goodnight, she said.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 7, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

'The Trail' is the fourth main headline on my WaPo front page. But I've got a DC-area zip code so it might just be for us Beltway types.

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

8/10 on the quiz. I knew four of them and had a pretty good idea about Whittier, so lots of blind luck was involved.

Posted by: pj | December 7, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jp1954 | December 7, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse


I just switched between the DC homepage and the Rest of the World homepage and "The Trail" was in the same place you described on both of them.

Posted by: pj | December 7, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

halfway through comments, boodling in haste, but must jump in to thank mudge for toon cootie & dance -- i did dance in office chair -- colleagues think i am odd as is -- also, i agree with bigcranky, the idea of a random election within a wide time frame has a certain charm -- too much haste for punctuation, must become a drone of transportation, i look forward to returning soon --

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 7, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse


Anyone crazy enough to shell out $50.00 for a kitty wig probably would shell out for some equally silly special kitty device to hold the wig in place. Rivet the owners not the cats.

Posted by: dmd | December 7, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading, with rapt attention and slack jawed amazement, everybody's comments about attaching a wig. The reason is that I've given myself the reward of buying myself a shiny new rug for the grand and glorious day when I reach my goal weight.

Inasmuch as I'm making some headway in reaching that goal (the halfway mark, to be precise), I'm beginning to consider the more practical ramifications of wearing such a device. You guys have given me soooo many choices of attachments, it's making my head hurt. Screws, mollys, rivets, hot glue, and so on. I see no option but to try them all. Here I thought that the boodle would make my life easier.

Don't even get me started about what kind of hair I should use. Hemp, alpaca, maybe just plain old horsehair.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 7, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I generally don't have much trouble with the "veracity" of polls, dr (given the usual caveats: reliable company and technique, well-designed questions, etc.).
I'm perfectly fine with Smith being 4 points ahead of Jones.

What I *do* have a *very* serious problem with is the interpretation, meaning and utility of said polls. Bigtime trubs here. Of what possible use is it to know that Smith is leading Jones? (Other than prurient curiosity?) OK, Smith is leading Jones and the election is a year out. Big fat hairy deal. This has about the same utility as knowing that USC is leading UNLV at halftime by a score of 48-45. You can root all you want, you can call your bookie and change your bet (maybe), you can go to the bathroom or get a sandwich from the kitchen -- but IT DOESN'T TELL YOU A D@MNED THING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THE CONTEST. It doesn't even tell you much about the game itself at that moment, unless you've been following it and noting trends and patterns. Yes, if the score of the poll is lopsided, you can make some "probable" guesses about what's likely to happen...but again so what? Being able to make good predictions is useful in sports-- if you are betting. Being able to predict elections has no similar usefulness to the general man-in-the-street voter/reader. It may be interesting, it may be "news" (it is) -- but it isn't useful, because you can't do anything significant with the data.

If Obama is leading Clinton, so what? What are you gonna do about it? Change who you vote for? Because that is the ONE absolute thing a poll SHOULDN'T make you do. (Sorry for all the caps; if I had some italics I wouldn't have to do this for empasis.)

There are dozens of factors one should consider in deciding who to vote for (and dozens of irrelevancies as well) -- and poll standing is NOT one of them.

The usual poll researchers' (and journalists') answer is that a poll provides a "snapshot" of a point in time. Fine; I accept that. But what freakin' good is the snapshot? Does it help one iota to have a snapshot of forward Johnny Jones standing at the free-throw line 30 seconds before the half of the USC-UNLV game? Nope. It may be a cool photo--but it has no utility to any viewer whatsoever. (Note that the viewer is different from the purveyor.)

My argument is that having all these repeated polls and "snapshots" --while said collection may be a compilation of "accurate" data -- is not only NOT useful, but actually harmful, because it provides noise, clutter, and distraction. It simply advances the "horserace" aspect of campaign reporting and fills up space (print or cyber, doesn't matter), gives the (false) impression that the campaign is being "covered," disguises the lack of discussion about, oh, stupid stuff like issues and positions and qualifications and performance records, and facilitates turning elections into popularity contests. "Should LiLo go back into rehab? Should Giuliani be president? You decide." It's all crap, crap, crap.

And of course everyone is now much too thoroughly invested in it, so it'll never get better or go away. Just about impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Now, I do concede that polling may be useful "behind the scenes" for the campaign technicians and the candidates themselves, if they want to see how they are doing, adjust their messages, or "triangulate" as people are so fond of accusing Hillary of doing [as though the others don't triangulate, oh, no, never happen]. But just because a tool is useful to a candidate *doesn't* mean it is useful to the public -- or that the public especially needs to be aware of it. Which is why all the good campaigns do their own internal polling anyway, keep the results top secret, and make their moves accordingly.

So, if I'm right (as I always am, ahem, ahem), who is that's going to stand up and say, "Yes, all these polls aren't very helpful. We don't have to eliminate them, but let's significantly reduce them and keep them to a minimum"? Well, you know darn well the pollsters themselves aren't; it's their bread-and-butter. (It'd be like asking Madison Avenue if advertising really works.) Newspapers aren't going to stop. The Politicians themselves (when they are winning) won't say it; only the ones who are significantly loosing say it--and of course in that event no one believes them anyway.

So who's gonna stand up and say this is all nonsense and should stop?


Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

7\10 on the quiz. John Travolta wears a "Fighting Banana Slugs" t-shirt in "Pulp Fiction". And for those of you who may actually be considering watching "The Cincinnati Kid", don't. The film is set in the 1930's, but Steve McQueen looks like a time traveler with his 1965 hair and clothing and it distracts constantly. The star made no concession to authenticity and it shows.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Some non-shop oriented solutions to wigging out cats:

Kitty ear-clips. Kitty whisker ties. Little plastic ties under the chin. Gyroscopic weights. Lots of lubriderm on the fur.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The latest poll indicates most readers think Curmudgeon makes sense once in a while.
37% think he need to be more curmudgeonly,
12% think he's excessively curmudgeonly, and the rest are satisfied or don't care.
99% of imaginary readers love his stuff.

You have a good point, but if you're the losing team behind at half-time you want to know that so you can alter your strategy and work harder to get those points in. Or choke. Or something, anyway.

So the polls are most useful for the politicans who want to know if their campaign is tanking or not.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the quiz. I only missed NAU and I actually know people who went there.

Oh yeah, no dissing Steve McQueen.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

It's so hard to ignore polls, even though we all know there is often a huge gulf between poll answers and card punches (remember Doug Wilder?). Very few people have the intestinal fortitude to tell the whole truth and the mental dexterity to sort through the bias in the pollsters' questions to find out what they are really asking. When they poll teenagers to find out rates of teen sex, you think all the boys are going to tell truth if they're virgins, even if it is anonymous? My mother was polled for local elections two months ago and was asked "Do you think taxes should be higher?". And yet, we all look at them to see how our favorite horse is running, praise the accuracy if he/she is ahead, cursing the bias if not. I forgot what my point was, but whatever. Shoot 'em all and let Science sort 'em out!

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Only 12%? Hmmmmm.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Steve McQueen was a movie star, not an actor. If pointing this out is disrespect, so be it. Watch "The Magnificent Seven" sometime with the sound off and see how often McQueen attempts to steal other's scenes (especially Yul Brynner's) with physical business, adjusting his hat, fidgeting, drawing the eye of the viewer. The guy had charisma and ambition well beyond his talent.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad McJacob has taken the plunge and has learned the secret to getting through a long, short, slow, fast, bad, or good day: Just click Submit!

Making another announcement regarding the upcoming Holiday Boodle Porching Hour. McJacob, hope you're in the area and can join us.

Wed, Dec 12
McCormick & Schmick's
1652 K Street, NW
5 pm until ?

Also.. Dave of the Coonties.. if you'll be in town next Friday and Saturday, I'm sure some of us could be pursuaded to gather for an emergency BPH, perhaps Friday night or Sunday brunch?

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, KG, you make me feel like Sonny Corleone!

I actually hate Mag7, because it is just a pale, American shadow of Seven Samurai, one of my top five of all time. But Steve McQueen is great in it. He was undoubtedly the king of Cool, but he was a brilliantly subtle actor in his great performances. Watch Bullitt or Thomas Crown. Fan-you know-tastic.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I would also like to note that since my cat's name is Molly, I think molly bolts would be perfect for attaching her wig.

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Since I'll be kept busy in the woods near Shepherdstown until Friday and may not have computer access at the hotel in Rosslyn on Friday evening, I'm not sure about being locateable. But I'll scribble my WP registration info anyway (unrememberable password)

Japanese movies do borrow from the American variety. Tampopo has a John Wayne-type truck driver who leads the quest for perfect noodles. So I figure Magnificent Seven is OK. Too bad there wasn't a Mel Gibson Australian version. Or maybe there was.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 7, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

They don't call me kurosawaguy for nothing. How can I disagree with someone who likes "Seven Samurai" almost as much as I do? Get ahold of the early Robert Altman film "Brewster McCloud" to see a wonderful spoof of McQueen and "Bullitt". I would put "The Sand Pebbles" and "Papillion" at the top of a list of McQueen films.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Aw shucks, KG. I was holding out on Papillion for a future rebuttal. Now I'll just have to moon you.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

What, you guys didn't like him in "The Blob"?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow, TBG, that's a real honor. I am local (SW DC: Next April, I'll have a 30 second walk to the new Nats' Park). However, I can't make it. I don't get home until 7 at the earliest and the wife and I have a 3-month old puppy at home who takes up most of our time. Maybe in the spring.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Way to undermine my arguments, Mudge. Look, Peter O'Toole sang in Mr. Chips. We all make mistakes.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh sure now all you Kurosawa admirer's are going to gang up on those of us who think the high point of film making was Star Wars, and the the best female lead of all time was Jane Fonda in Barbarella.


Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

DaveOtheC, are you going to be at the EMDC in Shepardstown? Kool. They have a nice computer center, so you can boodle your head off. The EMDC is closer to my house than my office is. Of course, ANYTHING is closer to my house than my office is, if you are counting !@#$%^*() commuting time.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 7, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood remakes foreign films much much more frequently than vice versa because of American audiences' resistance to reading subtitles. "The Magnificent Seven," "Fistful of Dollars", "Last Man
Standing", "The Birdcage", "The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe', "Three Men and a Baby", "The Vanishing", "Scent of a Woman", "Point of No Return", and on and on right up to "The Departed" which won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars and is still not as good as the Hong Kong original. I predict that "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Lives of Others" will be remade soon.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

So which color wig does your puppy would look best in, McJacob?

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

McJacob, if you are within spittin' distance of the New statium, then you are within spittin' distance of Mudge and I. We could do lunch or something, sometime.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 7, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Ha, singing in "Mr. Chips" is nothing. Have you seen P O'T in "Phantoms" with Ben Affleck? Still, I can forgive the man anything who made "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Lion in Winter."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 7, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Commuting time got you down, Don? You should try my secret: move to the city. It's much more expensive for much less space, but it doesn't seem like such a bad alternative when you're in a parking lot, impotently rolling by the 55 MPH speed limit sign.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Don, you're going to get my secret out! And right after my commuting jab. You guys at HHS or something? I don't actually work in the city, I just live there. I reverse commute to Loudoun, but I'm never in traffic. Still, if you like dogs, you could spend your lunch hour walking ours with Mrs. McJ.

TBG, he needs no wig. In fact, he looks like he's got one, almost. He's a fluffy white, Great Pyrenees. In 3 or 4 months, he'll be big enough to eat anyone who tries to put a wig on him.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The best part of the Peter O'Toole Chips fiasco, is that when they cast him in Man of La Mancha, they insisted he be dubbed for the singing.

Posted by: McJacob | December 7, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the advertising, Boko. The truth is, videos get onto ScienceFriday by virtue of the efforts of their creators. It took a week of conversation, ftp'ing, and collecting publication releases, in order to get Hotel Mauna Kea onto their web site. I noticed that the SciFri crowd is more choosy, and ranked it down at only about 2 stars out of 5 instead of the top marks that it was getting on YouTube. Where, I have just checked, we are closing in on 7000 hits.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 7, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

McJ, I'm at the Navy Yard, in the building that looks puzzleingly like an airport control tower. It used to be the place where they made the WWII Nordon bomb sights. They would calibrate them on the exactly known positions of the Capital, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial.

I'm off to the gym. Made a literal milestone in my tedious treck back to good health: I ran a mile, then a run/walk another mile. Tonight, two whole miles. Only 24.2 more miles (at 5 mph,) to go (at once) to meet my goal. All this trouble, just to wear a wig?

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 7, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah but what a wig Don, what a wig.

Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

If you guys near the Navy Yard ever eat at the Quiznos at 8th & Potomac, take note that it's in the building my dad was born in and grew up in until his teens. His dad had a restaurant there and the family lived upstairs.

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Hello! I'm glad to be able to breathe and write complete sentences (don't get used to that part). Welcome McJacob and other new peoples, good to have you back BigCranky. I loved and thoroughly agreed with Mudge's 3:26 on polls, in an imaginary way of course. They're useful for candidates, not for voters. Unless, of course, you're the type of person who makes your decisions based on what everyone else is doing.

When I think of political polls I take umbrage at the fact that nobody ever calls to poll me. Then I realize that, the few times I have been polled, I just screw it up. Deliberately. As RD noted earlier, poll wording is everything. One can often guess the bias of the entity paying for the poll by listening carefully to the questions. I'll wait until I hit one of those, then cheerfully ask the poll person who has generated this poll request. They'll repeat the name of the polling service. I'll say, no, thank you but I want to know who has paid your company to conduct this poll - that is, who wrote the questions and will be looking at the answers. I'm always very polite and will explain why I want to know. Usually, the poor peon poll caller has no idea. Sometimes they say they can't answer that. I'll ask to speak to a supervisor. Often the supervisor will tell me they aren't allowed to give that information out. They never tell me who paid for the poll, but they don't let me finish the survey either. I figure I am doing my small part to educate the poll caller. Some of them have been quite interested in the question and its implications. Of course, they're not paid for that. I hope I haven't cost anyone a job.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 7, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the cat wig speculation. Ivansdad will love it. Like Yoki, I found my own laughter disturbing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 7, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I like to know that too, Ivansmom.

What really irritates me about polls, is the questions. They don't allow for any clarifications, and only give you yes or no or scale of 1-10 type answers. Nothing is that black and white.

Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Find out which way the crowd is going, run to the front and shout "follow me!" Wear a hat.

"We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't dance
And if they don't dance
Well they're no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance"

Posted by: "Jumper" | December 7, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Charley Manson is related to George Bush and Mitt Romney.
Among her notable descendants are Presidents of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, First Lady Lucretia Garfield, actors Chevy Chase and Ted Danson, actresses Marilyn Monroe (possibly) and Jane Wyatt, writers Louis Stanton Auchincloss, Dubose Heyward, Eve LaPlante, Robert Lowell and John P. Marquand, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Chief Justice Melville Weston Fuller, commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, Ambassador Pamela Harriman, former Massachusetts governor and 2008 U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the infamous convict CHARLES MANSON has been added to the list in the last edition of the book "The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants".[12][13], and Dylan Avery (director of Loose Change)

Posted by: Boko999 | December 7, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

This is disturbing. I got 8/10 on the stupid college mascots quiz. I knew two of them cold, had vaguely heard of one of them, and deduced the remaining 5/7. I am startled to discover this insight into the psychology of college mascot naming.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 7, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Well, ScienceTim, with your example in mind I took the quiz. Six of ten. I knew one, deduced two, and strongly believe my choices for the remainder should in fact be the proper answers.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 7, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Kind of like taking a poll.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 7, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

A generation ago, I studied polls and surveys in grad school and supposedly learned how to write questions. It's not often you get a survey that is truly interested in eliciting your actual opinion. I don't mind answering those, but the latest call I got is more typical:

*phone rings*

Me - Hello.

Person on other end - Good afternoon, I'm so-and-so and we're taking a poll today. Do you believe abortion is murder of an innocent child?

Me - Um, no. Have a nice day.

*hang up phone*

Posted by: Slyness | December 7, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Long ago, I worked for a telephone survey company. They didn't sell anything - it was mostly marketing surveys (including one long, horrendous one about "financial institutions" that we did when there was nothing else to do). I got paid by the hour, minimum wage. I don't remember ever doing anything like a political poll, which would have been vaguely interesting to me. Anyway, it has given me sympathy for people doing surveys, so occasionally I go ahead and take them - or at least I'm polite (and quick) to refuse. But I've never been called by Gallup or anyone, just a local company occassionally for political stuff. It's pretty funny how rude people will be - all they have to do is hang up the phone, if they don't want to take the survey. And if answers are too weird, the survey gets thrown out.

Glad I didn't have to do that for long - but for me, it was better than flipping burgers or working in department stores.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 7, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. I had to break boodling for late Friday afternoon work. didn't anyone tell my boss that Fridays are supposed to be lazy?

I don't mind polls when I have time, and an opinion. What I do mind is phone sales. Whoever invented that, well I'd like to wreak havoc, ruination, despoiling and stuff on that person. May RD and his silent black helicopters descend upon your door.

All afternoon its been nonstop advertisers and directory listings, topped off by serious work. To beat all, I found unposted bucks. Just after I ran all the reports.(Raysmom you understand, don't you?)

I'm in the mood for mayhem, but I think I'd rather pick up my friend Bailey and go home to knit.

Posted by: dr | December 7, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I did phone surveys for money when I was in college--the job title was "research assistant." Considering how much I dislike talking on the phone, I'm surprised that I didn't hate the job. But I didn't. It was really interesting and I was amazed at what people were willing to tell me, a stranger calling out of the blue. The study we were doing was a follow up to a government job training program (remember "CETA?"). We asked about employment history, salaries, training experiences. The best question was, "Why did you leave that job?" We heard some good stories, and it was amusing to try to condense a totally unique and off-the-wall situation into one of our pre-set multiple choice answers.

That was a survey, not a poll.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 7, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Kber, I remember CETA. We don't do job training like that anymore, do we? I bet you did hear some interesting stuff!

Posted by: Slyness | December 7, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I lived off and on in telephone accessable areas of Califorina until I retired and never was asked to respond to a poll. Then six years ago I moved to Oregon and was polled by Gallup. Since then I have been polled about every four months. I think it is like ordering some from a catalog. Also we ordered tickets to the John Kerry campaign stop four years ago via e-mail. That has resulted in a blizzard of e-mails plus various autographed photos of the present administration's family and friends. Once polled I think you get on the "randon sample" list.

ps: Joel I also take umbrage. Fresno State BSIE 1959

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

Boko999-- thanks for sharing. She was a 12th great grandchild of King Edward I of England.

Considering Anne Hutchison lived nearly 400 years ago, if she had only 2 kids and thse had 2 kids and so on, for 20 generations, she'd have over 1 million descendants living now.

Actually she had 15 children, but only 6 survived a massacre and at least 5 reproduced.

The number may be far more. I think around 1/5 of America is estimated to count 1 or more of the Plymouth settlers in their ancestry. That'd be over 60 million. The offical society just estimates "tens of millions."

I am fairly certain I am not one of them, being descended from the earliest French-Canadian settlers instead. The numbers of their descendents are smaller, estimated at less than 10 million in both Canada and the US; however I tend to think the actual number is higher since cultural identity is lost with assimilation to another language, or they simply claimed French ancestry (13 million in the US do.)

My dad's family has a tradition that their name was originally spelled in the French fashion, but changed to Americanize-- not uncommon.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Just vote in a couple of Republican primaries and you end up on all sorts of mailing lists.

Remember this posting of mine in an old Boodle?

Posted by: TBG | December 7, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Back in the early 1980s my younger bro and I went to a Democratic caucus to learn more about Gary Hart. What a disillusioning experience this was.

First, I learned that a caucus is controlled by those who have enough time and political fervor to take part in a caucus. Which, at that time, meant middle-aged hippies still burning with revolutionary fever and Senior Citizens who fondly recalled getting blotto with Huey Long.

They asked us to take part in one of those highly biased polls designed to make Dick Cheney sound like Chairman Mao. (Should the United States always stand in unquestioning solidarity with the rights of oppressed workers worldwide? Circle Yes or No.)

Bro and I were polite and respectful, but we made one major mistake. We used our real names. (Oh, were we ever that young?) We were pummeled with junk phone calls and mailings for years. Somehow the idea that our interest in one Democrat didn't mean our unfailing loyalty to all Democrats was too much for them.

Although that Huey Long fellow did sound like a pretty fun guy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 7, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

About 60 000 French immigrants came into North-America in the 1608-1759 period. Louis Denizen came in one of the early waves, ca 1630. Most Franco-Americans can trace their ancestry to the roughly 1 000 000 French Canadians who emigrated to the US from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the Great Depression. Of course you get the native Franco in Louisiana, Michigan and other border states that were ceded to the Red Coats in 1763, but those are relatively small numbers. In the same period Canada accepted about the same number of people from Europe, mostly. Land, transport and some support were available to the immigrants but not to the citizen of lower Canada... Yet some of the most successful farmers today are the descendants of the few Francos who paid their way to the West.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

This was in answer to Wilbrod, of course. People keep changing their names. The Denizens haven't but my mother's family name has been through about 8 iterations, each giving its descendance a different name. A queen wouln't find its kitten in that mess.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Even a queen with a wig stitched/stapled/riveted/bolted/screwed/glued to its scalp.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the cat in the s l utty silver wig looks a lot like Kuching.

10/10 on the quiz, but "college mascots" and "newspaper of record in cities over 10,000" are my Jeopardy categories.

Welcome new boodlers!

Two things military families can count on-not getting called by pollsters, and not doing jury duty. Never on the rolls long enough for your number to come up.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 7, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Louis Denizen almost certainly beat any of my Virginia ancestors to North America, as in one John (Jean?) Perdieu, 1700.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 7, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

humm. Perdieu is more a Belgian name than a French one. But borders are highly movable aren't they. 1700 is a long way back. (Pardieu(x) "By God!" as in Gérard Depardieux is a fairly common name though)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Re the cat and their wigs - OK who stole my cat. The cat sporting the pink and blue wigs looked like my gray baby -

I was thinking used bubble gum might work to adhere the wigs in place.

Posted by: Pacifica | December 7, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I am stunned. I am in shock. I am floored. I simply cannot believe I am about to offer the following opinion: Charles Krauthammer has written a good, sensible column.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. No, I haven't been drinking. No drugs (not even prescription or over-the-counter). I didn't have funny mushrooms for dinner.

It's inexplicable. It's like one of those pieces of toast that looks like Jesus. I can't explain it, or account for it. But there it is.

I suppose it could be a very clever forgery. Gotta think about that possibility some more.

But who would do such a thing? And what's their evil motive?

Frankly, I'm stumped.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Gérard doesn't use the x

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

And let's not forget the "dits" as well, Shrieking. Those are fun, the surname doesn't get misspelled, it gets completely replaced.

Like Amiot dit Villeneuve, then all the descendents are "Villeneuve" and giving birth to endless variations...

(Dit= called)

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I would note that Wiki needs to updated to reflect the Couric revelation:

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I was floored too Mudge. It's because the Huckster attacks the Krautster's man, the Mittster. The Krauttser knows Romneys is highly electable and would probably make a good president (giving his tendency to morph into a very efficient, goal driven being when he's got a goal to achieve) while the Huckster is a primary wonder that would not be electable. The Krautster ain't stupid.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking Denizen-- you're right about borders being moveable. At the time New France was being settled, France had part of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg inside its borders, so they'd have been eligible to be "French" settlers. Even if they had funny names like Wilbrod.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I think you are right. Although he couldn't resist the dig against Bill Clinton, this was a shockingly thoughtful column.

Now I'm all scared.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 7, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, my mother is a mere 3 generations removed from a "dit Laliberté" (said the freeman), whose father was known as "dit L'Ainé" (said the elder). No one has a clue what the original family name was. Which points toward a metis/indian family name.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Only the Krauttster would mention William Henry Harrison.

His column is a splendid one, but rather irrelevant to a religion-soaked Republican party. Unless Giuliani wins the nomination.

Romney's a prime example of why it doesn't pay to follow news coverage during primary season. He likely would be able to collaborate with a Democratic Congress.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 7, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

It's creepy, isn't it? I've got the willies.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Seems Perdieu morphed into Perdue.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 7, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Makes sense DotC, very close pronunciation.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Naive comment. Months of polls and debates both predicable and bizarre and, as JA notes, no votes.

I can't believe how fast things will happen though come the new year. Iowa on 1/3, a bunch of important primaries that have moved up before Super Tuesday and then ST in early Feb.

I don't see how the front runner after ST could lose. Unless the parties really take away the delegates from the states that impermissibly moved their primaries up, almost 2/3 of the delegates will be chosen by ST. With the holidays coming, the primary season seems about over.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Mudge, Krauthammer did write a good article. But what he doesn't point out is Romney used the "us against them" demagoguery in his speech--he made it an "us believers against them non-believers" argument. Krauthammer is right--but Huck ain't the only one using the religious argument to try to make political points at the cost of civility in our society.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | December 7, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Don! did I miss the official announcement of your marathon goal, or was your 3:26 the first mention of it here? Either way, best of luck. Are you going for the Marine Corps Marathon? (a great one for first, and only, timers)

Posted by: frostbitten | December 7, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

If you are wondering what I am doing up at this hour it's that I installed a new internet security software, deleted 31 000 temporary internet files (witch no.2 needs some training I neglected to provide) and I'm defragnmenting a pair of discs on Old Faithful (a 2002 eras fairly decent gaming computer in heyday). I may be finished by dawn.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC sorry, even by my standards it was bad. defragmenting, era and so on. I'll shut up soon.

The NYT editorial LindaLoo pointed to earlier said it all, regarding the triangulation of both the Huckster and the Miister with regard to religion, Christian or otherwise.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Bill, if there is a clear frontrunner after Super Tuesday, I think you are right. But there also exists the possibility -- in my gut I think it's the likely outcome -- that there *won't* be a clear frontrunner. I think all the ST states are gonna split up a bit, and that the game won't be over at halftime.

I think this is more likely on the GOP than the Dem side, if only because Hillary appears to be further ahead on her side of the aisle than any of the GOPers are on theirs. I never bought into the "Hillary is inevitable" argument, and in my mind it's a coin toss. I can see a scenario where she loses in Iowa and New Hampshire (or "fails to meet expectations," same thing), and her campaign vaporizes overnight. I think that if a gap opens up that shows she's vulnerable to a loss, she's toast. In my view, she has to sweep. (And that could happen.)

If I was a bettin' man -- I wouldn't. This can go any which way.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 7, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Back in the bad old days the optimization softwares were showing little rectangles of colors being moved around when doing disk optimizition. It was probably a trick, I don't think the purple files were being moved to the yellow spots and all. But still, it was somethning you could watch and it kept you entertained, in some ways.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | December 7, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Hitchins would not agree with the K-hammer:

I recognize that Hitchins has another grudge in this fight but, I am sorry, we have to make decisions about the people who are going to be president. I would have no qualms taking Romney's religion into question, given its admittedly checkered past.

For that matter, by way of example, I think it would be totally appropriate today if a Catholic were running for president to determine the extent to which he adheres to Catholic dogma regarding birth control, abortion and other official positions of the Catholic church. Why would that be wrong?

I mean, c'mon. Does Romney get a free pass because he belongs to this vagabond religion no one knows about and would not admit African-Americans until 1978, Just askin'.

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 10:35 PM | Report abuse

7/10 on the quiz. I missed Mirages, Diplomats and Geoducks. When I was a preteen, I always wondered who was the Nobel Prize winner that thought up the team name for Akron U., the Zips. they played their home matches in the Rubber Bowl. that still strikes ma as funny. I wouldn't be surprised if Firestone has dedicated the Consolidated Dome for basketball. ConDome.

Posted by: jack | December 7, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC: he or she

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

SCC: he or she

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse


You are right. Who knows on the R side.

The D side reminds me a little of '68, just to date me, of the Hillary/Humphrey campaign and the Obama/Kennedy movement.

We never found out what would have happened back then. Really interested in seeing how it plays out in 2008.

Posted by: bill everything | December 7, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have brought up religion as a code to the religious right to say all kinds of things that they couldn't get away with overtly stating as policy positions. More important, when a guy is declared "a good Christian leader", the listener hears "Christian" with the definition he wants to apply to the word. Thus, if I am an evangelical right-to-lifer who believes in capital punishment for anyone who provides a pregnant teen with the phone number of an abortion clinic, then that is what I hear. And, if I am a devout mainstreamer who believes that people need to make individual moral choices, then I may be able to convince myself that that is what he means -- after all, he has made no clear policy statements to contradict that belief, has he? So, it lets these candidates be all things to the better than 50% of the American people (evolution preserve us!) who believe our species was created by fiat a mere 5000 years ago and that physical non-metaphorical angels intervene in our daily lives. And that is enough to get elected.

Posted by: Tim | December 7, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Some years ago, when ScienceKid#2 was wee and small and looking at used Beanie Babies in a yard sale, a lady came up to discuss Beanie Babies. Seeing that SK2 had a donkey BB (from a political pair that Ty was selling -- there was a matching elephant), the woman decided to talk politics with a little kid. I don't recall how it happened. She spoke favorably of W. The Kid questioned this a bit (okay, not all THAT wee and small, and politically precocious). "Well," says the woman, "I think he's a good strong Christian president, and I think that's what we need."

Said the Kid, with a blank expression, "I'm Jewish."

The kid done good.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 7, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing 8-12 year old range, ScienceTim. Perfect response.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 7, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all.

I've had a really difficult yet comical day. May have to write about it later.

Couple of thoughts about poling: talk about profusion, you forgot to mention the 'stripper,' 'barber,' or 'Bat' types.

Also, if you walked up to me and asked nicely if I were willing to be polled, or to take *your* poll specifically, I'd have to decline politely, and suggest you take me to dinner and a movie before asking me again. Maybe some flowers. After all, a boy's got to have some standards...

I'd agree that hats make for more interesting people, and the effect of static charge on thought patterns and flyaway hair, LiT. I wonder if there could be a relationship between the metal or foil content in said hat and interesting answers to poll questions...

Speaking of which, thanks for the duct tape comment in there WiggedOutCat thread while I was indisposed. Duct tape *would* be my initial solution of choice for securing a wig/cat interface, but I've been investigating FIG (Feline Inert Gas) techniques which may be applicable in this case.

At the current state of development, FIG requires use of Schrodinger-type Inert Feline equipment, which does not *always* produce the desired results:

Also, what's the big deal about caucuses?
I thought Lewis Carroll had the final word on caucuses in Chapter 3 of 'Alice in Wonderland," didn't he?

I won't take the opportunity here to segue from a Dodo to any given column or politico. This is left as an exercise for the reader.


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

As the (pretty well lapsed) grandson and nephew of Methodist ministers (whom I respect greatly), I subscribe to the "Forrest Gump" school of theology:

"Religious is as religious does."

Our dear friend Cassandra wears her religious beliefs upon her sleeve, and supports those stated beliefs with acts and words of caring and compassion to which we should all aspire. Many political/social leaders have done likewise: J. Carter / M.L. King / M. Gandhi / T. Gyatso (Dalai Lama)... [lots more, but you probably get the point] ... these are folks whose religiosity concerns/troubles me not a whit. All of them human, all of them prone to failure and weakness, but none of them (to my knowledge) ever tried to use their religion as a justification for anything that they did, good or bad. They made it clear that their religious beliefs helped them gather the strength to overcome adversity in order to "do good", but I don't think that any of them ever stated that religion was the primary source of their knowledge of what was "good".

I get a bit antsy with folks who claim that the only justification they have for their beliefs is that their religious tradition has made it clear to them, and that they don't understand how anyone else can possibly base a value system differently.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 8, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

If memory serves correctly (somehow, I'm guessing that it does!), even Christ himself did not claim to a unique knowledge of which behaviors were "good". His message(s) assumed that people already knew how to love, care, and worship. He mostly reiterated the importance of doing so, and added the call to follow Him and His Father while doing so.

Simple stuff, right?

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | December 8, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

"did not claim to..."
"did not lay claim to..."

Posted by: Bob S. | December 8, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm... I'm self-identifying my intemperance again! Good night, all.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 8, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

I hope I'm just passing through and will catch a few extra zzzz's soon. Otherwise, I may have to take a hammer to my head.

My problem with polls is that you have to have faith in the pollster and how he/she/it phrases the questions. Then you have to wonder whether they recorded the responses from their loaded questions correctly. Finally, you have to wonder whether the results that they publish are real or statistically enhanced to promote their agenda.

But then pollsters NEVER have an agenda. They just want to show the public opinion they happen to ascribe to.

(what... me pessimistic?)

Peace out and play Santa today.

We need more Santas.

Posted by: martooni | December 8, 2007 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! LTNS bigcranky and Hiya McJacob!

I don't think I ever completed a phone poll... Too much history asking questions myself to get tripped up that way.

bc, better to be polled than poleaxed, of course.

*busy-weekend-ahead Grover waves*

8/10 on the mascot quiz.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2007 5:33 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. I don't know if it read the boodle over my shoulder but the Liquid Cat is looking at me with even more contempt than usual. That cat can muster a look that make you feel unworthy of breathing the same air as it does.
We got some snow last night and more to come today *sign*. We are supposed to go snowshoeing tomorrow, Ithink that will be our earliest effort yet since we moved in the area in 1988. And off to a busy day, starting with the Puppy's long walk.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 8, 2007 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Moved into the guest room during the night due to excessive snoring on Mr. G's part. I got up at 7:15 and came downstairs to begin my day. Emptied the dishwasher, made coffee, got the paper...

When I opened up my MacBook and saw the time I realized that the guest room clock hadn't experienced the "fall back" to EST.

Oh well. Nice early start to my day. This is earlier than I get up on weekdays!

Grover waves for everyone! What's on your agenda for the day?

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Ooops, TBG, don't you just love it when that happens? The clock in my bedroom here at the cottage is supposed to move back/forward automatically. The problem is that it's on the old schedule, so there are several weeks when it will be wrong and there is nothing I can do about it. I know, I've tried! But enjoy an early Saturday morning!

I don't normally read Krauthammer, I have to keep my blood pressure under control. That was very interesting. I didn't read Hitchens either. Fundamentalists of any stripe, even atheistic, just don't appeal to me.

Posted by: Slyness | December 8, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Krauthammer: typical Republican move to only care about an issue of personal freedom when it affects him or someone he supports.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle. TBG, if you can bear the early start, it sure can put you ahead on your day.

It is just plain cold here -- -4 F and not much relief in sight. Fortunately, the roads are fairly clear and dry, so the weather won't prevent any of our usual Saturday activities (which are not interesting).

It does really matter to me, since I will be glued to the computer drafting job descriptions, templates, process maps etc. for my new team. That is all very engaging, and I'm happy to do it. However, I have not bought a single Christmas gift to date, and I feel time's winged chariot hurrying near. Will enlist Himself to bail me out of that pickle.

On topic (!) we are about to head into election season; I predict there will be a provincial election in the spring, and possibly federal as well. That means the stupid phone will be ringing off the hook. It is grand to be a Liberal in Alberta. Since there are only 14 of us, we are easily identified by the Conservative pollsters and they leave us alone after a first hit.

Have a great day.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Morning All.
This morning I'm going spray paint a wood pole silver and put a base on it for my Festivus Pole. I think I'll make it multi traditional by sticking artifacts from various winter solstice celebrations on top. I have a baby Jesus from an old nativity scene (I hope son/himself/spooky thing isn't afraid of heights), and a tiny plastic menorah. I suppose I'll have to wiki for info on other traditions to complete my project though I do have a poster of a Goya painting of Saturn. I'm of two minds concerning its appropriateness; I think I'll google to find a friendlier image.

Oh, oh. The blizzard is here.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle! I overslept so I'll be playing a bit of catch up all day but with -15 on the old thermometer I am taking the time for a hot breakfast. Coco Wheats!

Posted by: frostbitten | December 8, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

And what is your team named, Yoki?

I was thinking Yoki's Tigers. :-)

Posted by: dbG | December 8, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

"it's CoCo Wheats, birdbrain!"

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Boko, chuckling about the idea of Goya's Saturn as part of the holiday display in your house.

I read K-hammer's column, and am simply reminded of the human need to feel included in a peer group (aka "us") that we feel refelcts the ways we want to be perceived, which in many cases requires a group or groups to be reviled (aka "them").

When I think about it, this predisposition for us vs. them conflict can be seen all over the animal and insect kingdoms.

Curiously, once a species or group becomes successful and feels like it has become victorious, it seems like there's only one other enemy to face; the most dangerous one, the last one that threatens the security in everything you've built.

Interestingly, we usually end up looking at the next house over for that enemy, when it might do us some good to have a good long look in the mirror.

"We have met the enemy..."


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Who you calling a birdbrain, TBG?

Posted by: dbG | December 8, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

For the first time since I can remember, my HS daughter got out of bed before I did this morning. She is volunteering at a wrestling competition and one of her duties is to wipe the blood off the mat. I Suppose somebody has to do it...

Posted by: Pat | December 8, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, there's only 12 of you. The other guys polled.

I work next door to a mascot production facility. Our view of their back bay doors allows us to see some very cool things. If I were making doll furniture, I would talk to them about purchasing scraps but that would sure cut down on the bin picker people. Lets just say some people go deep for their craft.

Martooni, I know what you mean. I woke at 2:00 mt time and I've been knitting since then. this has gone on for years, and I jsut plain old don't worry about it. If I get up, I do something. I tried reading, but that makes me dopey and then when I go back to bed, I'm wide awake again. so I do handwork till its time to wake the household.

Waking the household on Saturday is a task I take great pleasure in. I begin at 6:00 a.m. and start with a phrase my mother-in-law once uttered to a sleeping spouse. Get up dear, its time to fix the bed. Good morning and Happy coffee to all.

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse


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

If my wife asked me to get up because the bed needs to be fixed, I would assume that it was broken.

I had a scoop of ice cream in my morning coffee. I can't believe the half gallon has lasted over 48 hours in this house. Note: A friend of mine mentioned that he can't buy half gallons of ice cream anymore. They trimmed off a few ounces from the carton. I never got the memo.

Posted by: Pat | December 8, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everybody. Howdy, Pat! It has been drizzling here since yesterday, but they have promised that we will have a freezing rain storm sometime between tomorrow and Tuesday. Freezing rain is also known as "ice". It is my least favorite winter weather, because it is most likely to down power lines. I'm about to hit the grocery store in preparation. I'm laying in supplies assuming we'll still have electricity.

ScienceTim, I like ScienceKid's response to the "Christian President" discussion. I'm guessing he was four or five. I think Huckabee is shamelessly playing the religion card, but then Romney is too. It is all "us and them". I think Bob S. (howdy Bob!) hit the nail on the head with the difference between trying to live a life and do good based on faith, and trying to say that faith defines the good.

I don't know about that ice skating today; it is pretty damp.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Pretty here this morning. A little confectionary sugar dusting of snow over everything, sparkling in the sun. Welcome to the new boodlers. Wish I had more time to read and post here but so busy between work and now trying to decorate and bake. I can't imagine how much worse it would be if I hadn't finished my shopping.

I do appreciate the people I work with. During a very busy week with lots of deadlines and distractions, everyone kept their sense of humor. I feel quite grateful to have found this particular job. And did I mention the commute? Plus, it's about a mile from the back entrance to the local mall, which has contributed to having finished shopping.

The only polls I've taken have been the online Zogby ones. I find them too broad and have stopped doing them as my answers didn't really reflect my views very well. I don't care what religion, if any, the candidate is, I care if he/she is honorable, truthful, compassionate (for real, not this fake pandering) and flexible on the issues based on changing information and facts. So far the Repubs don't impress me and I don't see that changing.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I like it, dbG :)

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Martooni, hope you get some rest today. I never got polled, but a lot of fund raising. My kid always commented, "Why are you so angry?" I am never angry when I just got ready for my dinner after a long day and the phone rand and "It's for you, daddy." But yes, they are also working, in a sense, to support their family.

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 8, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning all
I slept in today too, my commute home wasn't too much fun last night. The roads here is west by god were an icy mess, thankfully I was the only one on them. I had a full tank of gas and good tires and only lost control a couple of times. Freezing rain sure looks pretty on the trees so I guess it is just a give and take.

I haven't checked the weather for today, but the sun is out now and everything is glistening.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 8, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

dr-are you close, as in influential, with the mascot makers? The literacy organization I work for is looking for a mascot to use for parades and personal appearances. My theory is that kids love a mascot and will demand that the 'rents take our goodie bags full of free literacy tips and a book. Pictures from last year's small town festival parade circuit show that tots were indifferent, and the parents welcomed us with the enthusiasm usually reserved for telemarketers.

Seriously-if any boodlers know of a mascot manufacturer you would recommend, let me know. We'd like to stay under $1200 (American) for a puppy/dog costume. The costume must totally obscure the identity of the person inside as we'll have a variety of volunteers portraying the critter.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 8, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Internationl Mascots

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Dang send button. I hit that too quick.

Not at all influential, I just get to see their waste bins... They have the most fascinating waste bins.

Our parking lot abutts their parking lot.

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Of Anne Hutchinson: "She was a 12th great grandchild of King Edward I of England." Assuming that there was no cross- or back-breeding in those 1 generations, that means Anne had 8,191 other 12th great-grandparents, all of whom contributed just as much (statistically) to Anne as did Eddie.

The assumption is likely wrong--there were likely fewer than 8,100 different 12th great-grandparents. Genghiz Kahn's life overlapped with Edward I; perhaps he was one of these 8,100 or so other 12th great-grandparents of Anne Hutchinson.

??Who was Mudge messin' around with in the 13th century? Was he another one of 'em? Are writing skills inherited? And...Anne Hutchinson's life overlapped with Shakespeare's. Kinda spooky, ain't it?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Bleame me for the EXACTLY 12:00 post. That's kinda spooky, too. Also worth more points than claiming "First!".

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | December 8, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

We got a suprise dusting of snow this morning sometime between 4:30 when I let the dogs in and 6:30 when I got back up.
All the pine and fir trees looked like a pretty holiday greeting card for an hour or so.

Posted by: bh | December 8, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry Boko, but tradition pretty much demands the pole be aluminum. What has happened to respect for tradition? We are doomed. This grievance will be further aired at the appropriate time.

Posted by: Jumper | December 8, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Sunny here finally, and cold - 33 degrees F at about 8 am. I realize for some of you that would be a heat wave, but for me it's cold. Glad to have the sun, though. They're talking about snow tomorrow, but not much - so I should probably prepare for a foot of it. My kiddo's coming in tonight for a visit - it will be good to see him.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

mostly... enjoy your boy!

As a mom who is just getting used to having her son away (and does college even count for that?), your news that your kiddo is visiting brought a smile to my face.

Has he decided on the move to Brooklyn?

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I get both Thing 1 and Thing 2 next Sunday from noon to five. I'm practically giddy at the thought.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 8, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Hi, TBG. My son is still "negotiating" with the company about the job. They weren't willing to pick up his moving expenses, and he won't do it unless they do - but I think they're still talking about it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hello, friends. Just got in from a missionary quarterly meeting that went well. A little tired from cleaning up after the meeting. We served food.

Hello, McJacob and bigcranky. Welcome.

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

No one asks my opinion about anything. I think sometimes people don't want to take the time to communicate with hearing-impaired folks. Whatever the polls conjure up, all bets are off if African-Americans go to the polls and vote.

Pat, the weather here is so beautiful. It is slightly warm, and periods of sunshine so bright, it almost hurts your eyes. It like somebody took the cold air and exchanged it for some warmth. I've turned off the heat, and the door is wide open.

Have a good day, every one. We're getting closer to Christmas, and a brand new year. My, time does fly. I can hardly believe it's Xmas again. Enjoy your weekend.

Ivansmom, thanks for the tip about the toothbrushing. I will try that.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 8, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, Grey Seal Puppets designed a mascot for the Charlotte FD and we really like it. It was more than $1200, I'm pretty sure, but you could check with them and see what they can do for you. IIFC, we used a grant from the US Fire Administration to pay for the work.

Posted by: Slyness | December 8, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

My compliments to Mr. Hebert on a very fine column:

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | December 8, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Boko,
I was hoping you could put an image of a bull on your Festivus Pole to honor Mithras. And if you could dribble a little blood, that would be excellent.

Thank you.

Posted by: Cocytus | December 8, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, give us a warm place to sleep, and I'll do the mascot thing! Oh boy, PETTING ORGY!!

--- Wilbrod now.

Mascots tend to get kicked, pinched, etc by little kids because tend to want to show they're not fooled by the costume; they're not THAT little and stupid. So it's definitely hazardous duty :-p.

I found one for a bit over 1,000.!.shtml?trk=1&buy=9#tabs

Posted by: Wilbrodog and Wilbrod | December 8, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, if you wait for people to ask you your opinion, you'll have a long, long wait.
So step up and butt in. I know what you mean, though. Oh yeah.
Shoot, even my dog doesn't ask for my opinion.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Mr. Cocytus, I hope you won't think me bigotted but traditions involving blood sacrifice (real or symobolic) have always made me nausceous so there'll be neither bull, lamb, nor wail blood on my Festivus Pole.
Did you know that there is skating on the World Heritage Rideau Canal? You should visit, you'll feel right at home, bc.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The decorating hasn't gone smoothly. We got the fake tree mostly up when "S" noticed that the lights on one section weren't working. He took each bulb out, replacing it with a new one, replaced the little fuse, nada. While he did that, Ifolded two loads of laundry, took a shower, applied makeup and dried my hair. He has more patience than I do, he's a Virgo. Then we went to the store to try to find a new fake tree. Three stores later we came home empty handed and found some lights to put around the dark section as a fix for this Xmas. So now it's after 5, we are meeting friends for dinner at 7. The tree is undecorated, there are boxes all over the living room, "S" is in the shower and I'm way behind on my schedule for the day. Tomorrow will be busier than I had planned. Ah well, as my # 2 daughter often says at this time of year, "Merry Freakin' Christmas."

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon. No skating here, it is getting cold and damp and I think that ice will really come. Better start filling the buckets (no power means no water means no flush toilets without extra water to pour in -- too much information?).

I have two totally unrelated posts and for a change I'll split them.

First: I'm in the midst of cooking a pork & green chile stew. So far I have simmering in chicken stock sauteed onion (1 medium) & garlic (lots), pork chunks (formerly three thick-cut pork chops), two gold potatoes, a mess of roasted green chiles, with Goya seasoning with cumin & achiote & cilantro, plus salt, extra cumin & black pepper. Anyone have any suggestions for additions or should I leave it alone?

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"it's after 5, we are meeting friends for dinner at 7. The tree is undecorated, there are boxes all over the living room, "S" is in the shower and I'm way behind on my schedule for the day."

And you find time for us! I'm so honored, Sneaks... I hope you have a great time tonight. The tree can wait until tomorrow.

My husband and I managed to haul the vintage Knoll Saarinen tulip table from the basement up into the living room. I think the base is solid iron and man, is it heavy! But we did it and now it looks great.

Just have to figure out what and where to put on the walls and how to hang the drapes and my new living room will be complete.

Might have to have the Boodlers over for cocktails some night just to prove it can be done!

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm... Ivansmom.... That sounds heavenly. I'd serve it with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Second topic: Thanks, MedallionOfFerret (where's my bridge?) for posting the Herbert article. The most deeply embarrassing and shocking thing Oklahoma did, in an otherwise positive year, was enact a truly draconian illegal-immigration measure. The only things it actually criminalizes involve helping "illegal immigrants" (remember, kids, there's no such thing as illegal immigrants under federal law, they're undocumented aliens) by transporting them, giving them any aid, etc. In theory there are exceptions for some medical care, but pretty much it looks like hiring someone without papers, giving them a ride or food or shelter, failing to turn them in, etc., on the part of ordinary citizens, means you could go to jail. To their credit, the churches here (including prominently the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches, as well as an interfaith coalition) basically said, we don't think so. The business community is up in arms because they're losing workers and money. Ordinary citizens can't renew an expired drivers license without a valid passport or certified birth certificate. Can you spell "Backlash"? As an attorney, I've read and parsed this law six ways from Sunday and concluded that even if you wanted to do this, it is very poorly written. Also, in parts, immoral.

The good news is the gem of a legislator who authored this bill may have gotten too big for his britches. He vows to introduce a second bill which would authorize property forfeiture for assisting "illegal immigrants" -- rent a room, lose your house or apartment building. That already has provoked a great deal of negative comment. He tipped his hand, though -- he says what he really wants is to abolish birthright citizenship. No more birth certificates for children born here to persons not legally in the country. A lot of people are revolted by this (leaving that pesky constitutional question aside).

I promise I won't rant about this again.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The stew sounds terrific, Ivansmom. Can I copy you?

It doesn't need anything else. If you are so inclined, though, some corn kernels would be good.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Ha! TBG, you are funny! I realized after I posted that I probably sounded a bit 'bah, humbug' so thanks for the laugh! Just my Christmas crazies, I guess. Ivansmom, that sounds yummy except for cilantro, it tastes like soap to me. Wish I liked it.

Rant away, Ivansmom. That immigration law sounds awful. I'm sure there are more issues with illegal people closer to the southern borders but jeez, talk about mean spirited and morally challenged! Considering that it's our lack of border security that has allowed so many illegals into the country, I wish we could find a more humane and practical way of dealing with the issue. There's no way you can find and send millions of people back to wherever they came from, just not gonna happen.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Bad sneakers, my mom and a few other friends over 40 say the same thing about cilantro-- that it tastes like soap. I keep wondering if there used to be a brand of soap that smelled like cilantro in the past, because it has NEVER reminded me the least bit of soap.

Now on the other hand, Earl Grey tea, if the bergamot contributes a too-piney taste- reminds me of pine-sol and lemon furniture polish and I get turned off immediately.

I find Twinnings' Earl Grey very understated and enjoyable without that "oh god, I'm drinking pine-sol" repulsion.

So I keep thinking there must be something similar at work. I like cilantro, but too much of it can be very overpowering, and once it wilts and/or goes the least bit black, it tastes nasty indeed. (My mom says it tastes like mildew to her).

Generally I do notice cilantro-haters don't always notice if the food has a little bit of chopped very fresh cilantro on it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mr. Boko, I just assumed when you mentioned Goya's Saturn, it was Saturn devouring his sons. And with baby Jesus representing Christianity...don't you know that the Catholic mass is ritualized cannibalism? Ice skating sounds great, though. I've been meaning to learn to do that for a long time.

Posted by: Cocytus | December 8, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

No need to learn to ice skate, Cocytus. Just put on some skates and get out there on a rink. Be prepared to go very very slow or fall down a lot. If you are of a certain age (as alas so many of us here are) graciously accept the assistance of others much younger than yourself in rising. Try and fall on the padded parts. Really, it is a lot of fun.

I personally like cilantro but didn't have any fresh; the mild flavor in my stew (which is almost ready) is contained in the Goya seasoning. Ivansdad politely declined Yoki's excellent corn suggestion (I have fresh kernels from last summer still frozen), so serving with lime and sour cream. Tortillas. Rice. Chocolate Pudding. Beer.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

We'll be right over, Ivansmom. I'll bring some extra beer.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I'll fire up the 'copter TBG. Just put out a few flares for me wouldja?

Oh, wouldn't that be cool if we could.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Another exciting astronomy-related music video, this time in a folksy bluegrass vein:

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 8, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow, we just got HD cable set up. Okay, this means that we have totally blown our internal Christmas fund, but hey, it's Giada in HD!

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, I love cilantro too - love the taste and smell of it. I like to grow it so that we have plenty, fresh, fresh, fresh. This year it didn't do well - not quite sure why.

I'm way behind today too. I didn't start my library/grocery store run till about 1 pm, because I was covering oncall for someone till then - and the store was packed - and out of things I needed. So I'm still doing laundry, and I've got to make chocolate chip cookies. I don't do much Christmas decorating. We have a little noble fir, outside in a bucket of water waiting for my husband's return. I suppose I should try to locate the lights and ornaments.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

RD... I was thinking just that... we feel like friends talking over the fence here (especially on the weekends). Wouldn't it be so cool if we could pop over Oklahoma for a hot, friendly dinner?

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Daniel Day Simpson
where abouts unknown!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 8, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I hear my mother calling.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse

whoabouts unknown too; as is the relevance.

Posted by: No.9 | December 8, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

A frozen lake is about to get scorched (if I know my Wilbrod) and I don't want to get splashed.
You're right Mr. Cocytus that's the painting I was referring to. I just don't think it's the right thing for the holidays on account of it being so gruesome.

Hey No.9, do you know what today is the anniversary of?
Hint: It happened 27 yrs ago.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse


I'm well aware that my impulse to suggest *beans* for the chili is a call to arms that could stir up a lengthy argument--indeed, the lack of conflict on this issue is only an uneasy truce, with contention simmering beneath the surface of civil discourse. So forget I mentioned it.

We will decorate tomorrow. Always a good day, "tomorrow."

Good night, and may you all have "a pleasant tomorrow."

Posted by: kbertocci | December 8, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Yup, sad anniversary. Another day that I remember where I was when I heard the news. Oh boy.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey, ScienceTim, thank you for another fine video. I shared this with the family, then showed them Mauna Kea. They are impressed but bemused. I say, hey, I know someone on YouTube -- a Brush with Fame.

The chili was very good. I have no real problem with beans in it, kbertocci, except that it was green chili which traditionally has no beans. I gave it potatoes and served it over rice -- double starch. White beans would be good, though; I'll remember for next time.

I do wish y'all could have joined us. That would have made the evening splendid indeed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

We're back from the local theater where we saw an original Christmas musical comedy. Not much plot but decent music and the kids did a great job. It was worth the $20 ticket. So now it's peppermint ice cream and then I'll be ready to turn in.

Sneaks, hope you're having a fun evening with your friends. Don't worry about the tree, it will be decorated in time.

Mostly - a noble little fir - I love that! I did the artificial tree for several years but Mr. T is right, a real, fresh tree is what Christmas needs. Besides, we support the local economy and help fight global warming. For what it's worth. (Wonder if growing a tree cancels out the 100 mile trip to get it? Please, nobody answer that question!)

Posted by: Slyness | December 8, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse


I think I can hear Gators bellowing in the distance.

On the side, I took a look at a catalog from a formerly Montana-based mens shoe company. The photos looked plausibly like Montana, but the vacationing corporate-chieftan guy with two bottles of very expensive Scotch on the table also had what was unmistakably Brie. Yikes!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 8, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

We won't get the tree until next weekend, but I do have some greenery. Possibly suffering from cafeteria syndrome (were my eyes bigger than my stomach?) I ordered two eighteen-foot greenery garlands from a cousin's fundraiser. I got them today. Eighteen feet is a lot of greenery, when most of your wall space is windows or bookcases. I gave one to my aunt. The other is brooding on the living room floor.

Science fiction alert: there is a series of small plastic magnetized toy figures which come with tiny skateboards. Each figure has a small pet. The Boy today found one whose pet is Cithulu.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Time to talk the Boy into bed. Enjoy that HD cable, RD. Vaya con queso and fondue.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I was living in New York when Lennon was shot. Watching MNF when they came on right after a Russ Francis touchdown grab to announce the same (again, the Patriots involved in wrongfulness somehow, I detect a pattern).

Went down to the Dakota on Sunday morning with millions of people. The big rock station there, can't remember the call letters, played "I Am the Walrus" right at 11:00 a.m.

Looking back, if you gotta go, what a way to go out: loved by millions and millions.

Posted by: bill everything | December 8, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

ust back from dinner with my friends. I have known them since high school. Our conversation ranged from politics to kids and grandkids to old friends to cooking to muskets and finally potato guns. Now "S" has a new project to look forward to after the holidays. You should have seen his eyes light up as the workings of a potato gun were explained.

Nothing like lots of laughs with old friends to set the mind right. I may even throw a few ornaments on the tree while "S" watches the Celtics play.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Sounds lovely Sneaks. Mr G and I went on a late-night foray to Wegmans... a huge grocery store with just about anything you think you'd want.

Anything but tapioca flour, though, which is what Mr G was looking for.

But we most certainly didn't come home empty-handed.

Daughter is babysitting down the street. This is the first time at night at this particular house. She is texting me that she is scared and "writing down all my scaredness in my notes on my phone."

I texted back to her, "Awww," and she replied, "I know, I'm adorably scared... The cutest kind."

(I did ask if she wanted me to head down there to keep her company and she told me she was OK if I just keep texting her every once in a while. She should be home soon.)

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-I know you have long since consumed the pork chili verde, but next time when you get to the point you described:

Thicken in your favorite manner (roux, pull out some of the potatoes and mash them, reduce by simmering, etc.)put in ovenproof casserole. Then, top with a pie crust in which you have substituted approx 1/3 of the flour in your favorite recipe with cornmeal. Do not be concerned about rolling out too evenly, rustic looks better. Bake at anywhere from 375-425F until golden brown. Serve with a jalapeno relish and sour cream on the side (you may want to bake something else with this and it is fairly forgiving along this range of temps).

Thanks for the mascot suggestions. There is nothing the boodle can't answer. Or is there? hmmm

Posted by: frostbitten | December 8, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

There are many things we can never answer, Frostbitten, including exactly what goes inside certain politicans' heads, if anything.

But we probably can find you a good YouTube video or website that will try.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Just me, I heard a Zappa tune and it got my blood a pumping

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 8, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC-should have read thanks to all with the mascot suggestions.

My brain is fried. We had an eight hour robotics session today. Our younger team has decided to present their research on how to make the school building more energy efficient by writing new words to the song "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." The older team is going to put together a power-point presentation because no one is willing to speak in public. They're even fighting over who is going to have to stand up to start the slide show.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 8, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Cocytus, that's a hell of a name. I doubt many on the net will have that handle: just you.

Posted by: Jumper | December 8, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Krauthammer, being nonspecific:

(The one exception: William Henry Harrison. He caught cold delivering that inaugural address. Thirty-one days later, he was dead. Draw your own conclusion.)

NASA, venturing a more credible hypothesis (for the old windbag, it wasn't the weather, but a virus):

Among the more famous inaugurations to go to despite awful weather was William Henry Harrison's in 1841, Franklin Pierce's in 1853, Ulysses Grant's in 1872, Grover Cleveland's in 1889, and John Kennedy's in 1961. Poor Harrison died one month after spending his entire inauguration drenched from a driving rain. The stubborn old soldier refused to take cover or change his wet clothes. Harrison gave the most long-winded inaugural address ever, lasting over 1 1/2 hours, which surely didn't help his health or that of his faithful flock who had to withstand the weather and Harrison's droning speech. The cause of his death was listed as pneumonia. Harrison's immune system could have been weakened from fighting the effects of a cold he caught soon after the inauguration. Of course, shaking hundreds of un-clean hands after the ceremonies likely played a role in picking up a virus that may have led to pneumonia. Interestingly, Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison, also had to endure a rainy inauguration, in 1889. The old expression "the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree" proved true in this case. Benjamin also refused protection from the rain. However, he lived through his 4-year term, perhaps because by then, hygiene and medicine were slightly better.

Frank Rich has a really well-written op-ed at the NYT for tomorrow's paper--about the rise of Huckabee. These are the last two grafs:

Experience, like nastiness, may also prove a dead end in the year ahead. In 1960, the experience card was played by all comers against the young upstart senator from Massachusetts. In Iowa, L.B.J. went so far as to tell voters that they should vote for "a man with a little gray in his hair." But experience, Kennedy would memorably counter, "is like taillights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going."

The most experienced candidate in 2008 is not Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney in any case. It's Mr. McCain, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson who have the longest résumés. Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Obama, meanwhile, are both betting that this is another crossroads, like 1960, when Americans are hungry for a leader who will refocus the nation on the path ahead.

Posted by: Loomis | December 8, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I liked the NASA link.

It was MINUS 2 on Reagan's inauguration?? That... never happens in DC. Likewise, it snowed in Texas when Bush II was inaugurated.

It brings to mind the saying about when a very warm place freezes over.

Likewise, I actually attended one inaugural parade. It had proper southern cold; around freezing, with wind chill around 20F.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

On this sad anniversary of John Lennon's death, I felt compelled to repost something I wrote in the Achenblog a couple of years ago, in response to Boodler Nani's feelings upon hearing of Lennon's death six months after her husband had passed away:

"Nani, I'm sorry for your loss.

I remember when Lennon died, darn near 25 years ago now.

I was a senior in High School at the time. When I saw the news on TV that night, I went and told my mom, who cried for a long time.

The next day, I stayed after school to paste up the student newspaper (I was managing editor) with the Editor, a beautiful intelligent young lady I was secretly in love with, but alas, was involved with a young man who was in the Armed Forces. While we were laying everything out, the local rock radio station was playing a continous tribute to Lennon.

We talked about her boyfriend, deployed who-knows-where, Lennon, the Beatles, life and love while we discussed headlines and columns. When we were done, she broke down in tears, and I held her for an eternal second as the radio played. We swayed together, and I remember the smell of her hair, stronger for being wet with my tears as I write this now, as if it happened a second ago.


Posted by: bc | November 15, 2005 10:05 AM"


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers- What kind of propellent is Mr. S planning on using in his potato gun? We made one out of a 3" abs pipe using hair spray as the propellaent and the igniter off a BBQ lighter to set it off.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmon- your 5:46 recipe sounded delightful!

bill everything - re: your 10:29, you, sir, are a rabble rouser. Except, now that I think of it, are you a sir?

Bad Sneakers - my boss, who is a lovely person, tells me that I must never say "fake tree". I have been instructed to say "permanent tree". I think there are some "issues" that need to be resolved there.

TBG - what on earth is tapioca flour?

And last but not least, the Krautmeister regularly drives me to a state of clenched teeth and high blood pressure. It was a pleasant surprise to read his last column, but I spent a few moments muttering about his complicity in the rise of the intolerant, religious litmus-testing, xenophobic GOP party we know today. However, William Henry Harrison didn't die because he caught a cold delivering his inaugural address. He caught a virus, who knows when and then kicked the bucket...pure and simple.

Posted by: Kim | December 8, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Boko, our friend mentioned a certain brand of deoderant which corresponds with a football position. He became acquainted with the gun when he observed a group of about 30 people gathering on a beach at the Cape on a Sunday morning a few summers ago. Some of these people were wearing chicken costumes. They all gathered at the waters' edge and others took turns shooting in their general direction. This went on for half an hour or so. Then they all got into their cars amid shouts of "see you next year" and left. So of course my friend had to have one of these guns. He just shoots it into his swimming pool, however.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

bc- that is a very nice story. Thank you for that.

I had just returned home from a date with a fireman from Madison, WI...I had dropped him off and I had to call him when I got home safely and he told me then about John Lennon's death...there was no cnn then, so my sister and I just played our "Imagine" tapes and talked about all the "Beatles" and "Lennon" moments that we could remember.

Posted by: Kim | December 8, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Kim, I'm sure your boss is a wonderful human being. But really, there isn't anything 'real' about my Xmas tree. It's plastic and wire and stuff. And after this year, it is certainly no longer to be considered 'permanent.' ;-)

G'night all. Big day of tree trimming and cleaning tomorrow and a rare day game for the Pats.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

That was very moving bc.
I've been sitting here for 10 minutes wondering what to say. D'uh.

Good thing I backboodled.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that Gilbert & Sullivan & Sir Mix-a-Lot would all be very proud of this one. I'm not sure what John Lennon would think.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Kim, I like tapioca root. By itself after cooking, it's pretty blend but boil it with salt for half hr it's quite nice. Dip it in sugar after it is cooked is also nice. When I was growing up, we sometimes cooked it with curry powder. We never used the flour to make desserts. We were not big on desserts. But we used the flour to starch our laundry before we hung them out in the sun to dry.

Posted by: rainforest | December 9, 2007 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers. Deoderant is a better choice. I bet it's cheaper than hairspray and it sure as heck isn't as sticky.
We got the idea of the potato cannon from a partially remembered British TV show. We used hairspray because we used to set up a can next to a lit candle, back up 30 or so yards and shoot it with a large caliber rifle. Very satisfying.
One of the benefits of living in the country is that you can get away with all sorts of silly stuff. It also helps to be in the same gun club as half of the local police officers.
For $2500 I know a guy who will make Mr. S a black powder cannon that fires concrete filled beer cans. It's on wheels and has a handy trailer hitch so you can take it on vactation.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is getting closer to that big day. I'm up, moving and doing this morning. Going to get ready for Sunday school and church. Hands are swollen so big, so getting ready will take a while.

bc, that was a lovely story. I wonder what Nani is doing. I hope she's still writing those wonderful stories.

Merry Christmas, Nani.

We have a tree up for the g-girl, and a few decorations outside. My neighbor has a giant Santa Claus in his front yard. When the g-girl got back yesterday, she screamed when she saw it. We went over to take a closer look. I believe she is afraid of it. She wouldn't get close, but she was grining from ear to ear while looking at it. The smallest things please a child.

Ivansmom, that stew sounds so good. You should have faxed me some. On the issue of immigration, it seems to be the perfect venue for hatred to some extent. What is it with us? We allow people in the country or even drag them here, then we torture and abuse them? I don't believe God is pleased with that.

Give God some of your time.
Today is suppose to be so warm and nice, in fact, the whole week is suppose to be that way. It will feel odd because one thinks of Xmas as cold. Have a great day, folks.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 9, 2007 5:09 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. I loved both videos Tim. I linked the MKH it to a few geeky friends who liked it too. Norman McLaren would be proud of "Getting Lucky at the Cassegrain".
The canal is open boko? Got to check that out. The ladies of the house love to skate but I can't because of arthritis in one foot. I take care of the dog(s) instead, which could b as much fun on the ice.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 9, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

A stupid tragedy in Yokiland.
Operating heavy machinery under the influence is not a good idea.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 9, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra. Good morning Martooni. bc, it is a nice story. I had the habit of reading the boodle down side up. When I saw nani in Cassandra's greetings I was so excited thinking she is back to boodle as all the other irregular long lost imaginary friends. And I saw bc's post. I am still happy, to have the season to remember all the blessing I received in the Achenblog.

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 9, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

G'morning, everybody. Cassandra, I think we're still stuck with the weather pattern being off by six weeks or so. It will be cccold in February, March, and April, like it was this year!

I haven't made up my mind about illegal immigration. I don't mind so much their being here, but I do mind a great deal when they do stupid stuff that kills innocent people. A couple of weeks ago, an undocumented alien driving under the influence hit a car and killed a kid here in the high country. It happens so often, it's not funny.

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

SD. I don't think the World Heritage Rideau Canal is open for skating yet. I mentioned it as a reference to the new commentor's name, Cocytus ( I thought it was bc pulling a yellojkt.)
Jean Chretien fans should tune to CBC radio.
It's a Canuki thing, you 'Murican sleepyheads you

Posted by: Bokko999 | December 9, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! *damp-wet-and-cold-but-nonetheless-happy Grover waves*

I have a feeling we can all guess what Joel's next Kit will be, given the results of the Very Good Football Player Award, presented by the Overly Large Pickup Truck.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 9, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Nice speech. John Lennon would approve it.

"Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise!! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness."

Posted by: Jumper | December 9, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, you were having my day! Last year we bought new mini lights, We didn't plug them in before we put them on the tree, but waitned till all the lights were up. They didn't work. Mr dr went off to town to run errands and called from the store. No clear mini lights, but they did have some of the LED mini lights. He was going to grab some, but my daughter in law says the warm whites shine yellow rather than white. We choose cool whites. Mr dr (who has the pateince of a gnat when it comes to Christmas decorating) put them on the tree and did his top branches with ornaments and took off. As evening fell the lights shone brightly. And blue. Cool white LED shines blue toned light.

My lovely tree of red and white and silver has blue and red light.

I thought for a moment of taking all the stuff off, and going back to town to get the warm whites, but only a moment. After 27 years, I know which buttons I should not push.

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

And Tim, I loved that. I don't know which has more pop culture significance, the Star Trek uniform, or the vest.

Posted by: dr | December 9, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.. Cassandra, the house my daughter was babysitting in last night has a full-size Santa on the main level that dances when you move past it.

Even at 14 years old, she was terrified of it when she was alone in the dark while the kids were asleep upstairs. The cutest kind of scared, indeed.

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm envious, TBG. A tulip table! Wow.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the belly laugh Boko. Showed "S" your offer about the cannon and he said that at least we'd always get a hotel room while on vacation with one of those.

dr, comforting to know I wasn't alone yesterday. I realize that along with getting a new tree next year I also need to reorganize the storage of my decorations so that the ones I actually use are in bins together. The ones I can't seem to get rid of but can't find a place for need to be in other bins. I wasted a lot of time yesterday rummaging through stuff.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 9, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. We are rejoicing in thundersleet. It is my plan to brave the roads and try to make it to church (I feel professionally obliged to show up for the choir), though that plan may change in the next half hour. I won't make the Boy go, though, in case bad things happen on the road.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I'm glad I reposted that story, and I'm glad folks appreciated it.

Tim, I think you're doing a great job with those videos. Now, how do you integrate them and the web hit/view stats into your next grant package? [Something tells me you already have an answer to this...]

I wonder if the next parodies could involve "Smoke on the Water" (Smoke on Planet Saturn), or "You're so Vain" (Methane Rain, "clouds in my coffee" line has several possibilites, I think).

Naturally, I am quite familiar with the location of Cocytus (we have a nice view of it from the deck of the 10thcircle), though the person using that handle is not a sock puppet of mine [I don't use 'em. Yet.]. Someone should ask Satan about it, though you never know which mouth to believe on that guy.

Saw a couple of interesting items to me in today's Post, one on Steve Fossett and hos pusuit of the Land Speed Record (LSR) with Craig Breedlove's old Spirit of America car:

I know *way* too much about this, as many of you'd suspect. I know why Fossett lived as he did: he never stopped competing with himself, trying to find his limits as a human, and he had the resources to express himself through his interests in nearly any manner he chose. I have no doubt he'd have flown in space if he could have figured out what he wanted to achieve there - something no one did.


Also, I have mixed feelings about the launch delays for Atlantis - I want to see it fly, but if things with those big fuel tanks aren't right I think they should keep it on the ground until they know what's going on. A shame.

Have a good morning, all.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Just Dave, D, Dee, screwing around. Thanks for the encouragement re ice skating, Ivansmom.

Posted by: Cocytus | December 9, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Dave's not here, man.

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Anyone ever worn modal, a cousin to rayon, made from the cellulose from beech trees? I'm particularly interested in modal blended with other fabrics. How does modal as part of the fabric mix (first)wash and (second) wear?

Thanks in advance to anyone who has experience with modal and can answer my questions.

Posted by: Loomis | December 9, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle! Sunshine and 0, I will enjoy it as a warming trend.

Loomis-my only experience with modal is with some aloha attire (suitable for weddings, funerals etc. while in Hawaii) and golf togs. Wonderfully comfortable for being outdoors in warm weather. Usually needs to be line dried and most garments will need ironing. Beware cheap cosntruction around button holes or hems as they will never lay flat again if not hand washed. Some more expensive labels offer modal in a finish that has a hand very similar to silk or that feels almost sueded.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 9, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Looking for something interesting to do in Moscow?

Take Theramin lessons.
"Yes, you read the name right. Invented by and named after the prodigious Leon Theremin, the thereminvox consists of a flat box containing layers of transistors and chips, and two antennas: one shaped like a hoop, protruding from the left with its openings facing the ceiling and floor, and the other a slim metal rod, pointing up. To produce sound, physical contact with the instrument isn't required. The antennas act as sensors, detecting positioning of the hands: the hoop controls volume (the hand glides up and down an imaginary vertical axis. The lower, the quieter), and the rod is in charge of the pitch (here the imaginary path becomes a horizontal plane - the further back the hand moves, the lower the pitch becomes)." Read the rest from The Moscow News here:

Better yet, skip the rest and go straight to this video of a Gnarls Barkley cover:

Posted by: frostbitten | December 9, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

With Eric Idle

Posted by: Jumper | December 9, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article in the Sunday Magazine re: prayer before Fredericksburg city council meetings.

The Trials and Tribulations of Hashmel Turner

Here I feel a bit schizoid, being of two minds as it were. First, too many people are too easily offended. So what if Turner mentions JC in his pre-meeting prayer? But, I also wonder why they start with a prayer in the first place. Our council meetings always start with me looking at the clock, or the space where the clock would be if the fire fighters hadn't moved it into their part of the hall again, and saying "It's 7:00, will the clerk call the roll." We don't even say the pledge of allegiance.

Here in MN I feel more comfortable professing my heathenism than I did in VA, but I cringe that nonprofits and schools haven't built bridges to the faith communities that do such a super job of serving the "hard to serve." I'd be interested in where other boodlers draw the church/state line. Not a "do you believe" question, as much as how should we treat belief in the public sphere? We've talked a lot about it re: presidential candidates. But what about when the official, candidate, caucus attendee, is your neighbor, not some stranger you'll never meet?

Posted by: frostbitten | December 9, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Great link, Jumper. I sent it on to a few people I know who could use some perspective and a laugh - just like I needed yesterday.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 9, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how incensed people get about this. My soon-to-be ex-wife would have a fit about the annual Christmas extravaganza at the public high school; while I just viewed it as a traditional music pageant. On the other hand, this is a strongly conservative Illinois county where a strong majority recently responded to an on-line poll (hey! relevance!) that creationism should be taught in the public school.

Posted by: Dave, I guess... | December 9, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Frostb, DaveI, others - I'm with you, and refer back to my "Forrest Gump" theological view. Thems who attempt to use their religious views as their only justification for their actions is shysters & fakirs of the first water, as far as I can tell. On the other hand, thems who view all decent acts with suspicion merely because they are associated with religiously faithful folk is poisonously cynical gift-horse mouth-lookers.

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, frostbitten.

The garment I have--I still have the receipt and have yet to clip the tag, is a dark charcoal gray top--or sweater--that shows a pretty stretch of neckline, with a soft cowl neck around and below that. It had a designer tag (yes, a splurge of sorts, even though it was 40 percent off), and the garment care instruction hangtag says gentle wash and to lay flat to dry.

The feel, feel, feel of the thing, blended with 13 percent wool and 9 percent nylon, is incredible. Since it's still in the mid-70s here, and no thundersleet in sight, *ha*--it would have to be in the 50s before I would even consider wearing it, which means a limited time for use in these parts.

Anyone getting good bargains out there in RetailLand? We have some incredible loss leaders being offered in the stores locally, and/or coupon sales, and I have been able to pick up some things that I have wanted for some time but would otherwise bypass.

However, chatter at the Christmas party on Friday night has made me leery of doing anything drastic or unreasonable as far as overshopping or overspending.

Posted by: Loomis | December 9, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Way back in the dark ages when I was in high school, we said the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer every morning in home room. It was stated at the beginning of each year that those who didn't wish to recite the prayer didn't have to but should just remain silent while others did. Because I still considered myself a Catholic at the time, I remained silent during the end part about, "for thine is the kingdom," etc. because we didn't include that as part of the prayer. At that time, it seemed an acceptable way to respectfully accommodate everyone. But then I lived in a liberal city in MA. Under the current administration, religion has become less separated from government and the resulting climate fosters extremism on both sides. This doesn't bode well for respectful accomodation, but that's what I'd like to see. In short, say your blessing, keep it short, don't judge anyone who doesn't join in then just get down to business.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 9, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

frosti - More relevant to the question you actually asked: Like you, I don't think it's easy to draw the lines. Coercion and consequences are generally the primary issues in my mind. Putting up some kind of religiously-themed display in the public square doesn't usually trip any alarms in my head, asking a long-serving public servant to avow his belief (or lack thereof) in the literal truth of the Bible definitely does. Many things lie somewhere in between.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

BadSneaks - My memory's going quickly, I can't remember if I shared this story from a few weeks back - A cousin of mine (Methodist family) married a young lady who's Catholic, and the service was held in one of the chapels in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.

At the point in the service where the Lord's Prayer is recited, it was amusing to hear the sixty (or so) Methodists in attendance start into the "for thine is the kingdom..." part, and then quickly hush themselves when they realized/remembered that most of the folks present don't say it that way.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts on frosti's question -- for me it's a question of whether the religious reference is being offered by an individual -- in which case I have no trouble with it being offered and can judge its worth based on Bob's philosophy -- or whether it can be seen as representing a civic institution, in which case it bothers me a lot, because then it's creating the feeling that those who don't share this religious view aren't welcome in the civic institution. Of course, applying this criterion in any systematic way gets difficult. How do we know when someone is speaking for themselves and when they are speaking as an institutional representative? For a school situation, it's relatively clear to me -- every individual is of course welcome to say grace before eating lunch, or other similar private prayer, but anyone -- even a student -- praying over the intercom is institutionally sanctioned and therefore inappropriate. Getting into the nitty-gritty of the content of the prayer never makes sense to me.

I dunno, the more I write the more complicated it gets, so I'll just submit and get back to the work I should be doing anyway.

Posted by: bia | December 9, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

And all that said, conspicuously avoiding all reference to Christ in Christmas-themed things just gets silly.

Posted by: bia | December 9, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Things get complicated indeed. Cognitive dissonance alert: I become annoyed when someone starts our monthly court lunches with a prayer (we know who they are, we come late those months). I'm not fond of the official Christmas tree adorning the Capitol building. I also sing Christmas carols in the state Capitol every year. I can't defend this flagrant departure from my embrace of the church/state divide by any rational argument. My only defense would be that my audience is essentially private, in that I'm not advertising anywhere and people just come out of offices to ask for a favorite carol. This rationalization is easily demolished by the knowledge that I am in a public building, with tourists, etc., and people can hear me whether they want to or not. Fortunately, so far the security people, building supervisors, janitors, prisoner workers etc seem to like it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ivansmom, I was going to mention the singing thing, too. Funny, I have no problem singing things that I would have trouble saying. Somehow the music gives it a truth, even if I don't find that truth in the words themselves. But I said that once to a serious-musician friend who felt exactly the opposite -- that the music reinforced the meaning somehow, so if he didn't believe it, singing felt even worse than saying.

Of course, the personal choice to produce or not is a different issue from the whole institutional-imposition question. But so much of it is an emotional/gut reaction; that's a big reason why it's so hard to regulate legally.

Posted by: bia | December 9, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

And now I really am getting back to work. If you see me here again today, please scold me and send me away!

Posted by: bia | December 9, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, thanks for that link.

I hadn't heard *that* one in awhile.

Watching football and taking care of some things around the house today.
Christmas shopping, too.

As far as the Lord's Prayer goes, asking to be delivered from evil is enough for me, but if anyone feels compelled to mention that the His is the kingdom, power and glory forever, that seems reasonable to me.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A few dog thoughts ; [not all sources were verified by me, but what the heck!]

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating to me."
-- Mark Twain

"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made"
-- M. Facklam

"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
-- Roger Caras

"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer."
-- Alfred North Whitehead

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot about puppies."
-- Gene Hill

"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."
-- Mark Twain

"If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience."
-- Woodrow Wilson

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."
--Mark Twain

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."
-- Ben Williams

"Money will buy a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail."
--Josh Billings

"A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself. "
--Josh Billings

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
-- Gilda Radner

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
-- Christopher Morley

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-- Roger Caras

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, he will make a fool of himself too. "
-- Samuel Butler

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
-- Edward Hoagland

"A man may smile and bid you hail,
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level."
-- Author ?

"If my dog is barred by the heavenly guard,
We'll both of us brave the heat!"
-- W. Dayton Wedgefarth

"Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative. "
-- Mordecai Siegal

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace. "
-- Milan Kundera

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I have vague memories of reading Bible verses in grade school to start off the day. I suppose that ended in the early 60s, which I'm glad for. I don't have that much of a problem with a more general, non-demoninational sort of prayer. I seem to remember those at my kid's school graduation ceremonies.

I also have a funny memory involving the Lord's Prayer. My cousin married a Catholic guy, and she converted and they had a Roman Catholic ceremony. So most of her Protestant relatives were on one side, his on the other. We would keep going with the "For thine is the kingdom" part for the Lord's Prayer, and we had no idea when to kneel, stand, sit, respond. It was hilarious.

Last year SeaTac Airport had a problem with their decorations (Christmas trees), so this year they went with something less controversial. I saw it up close and personal - not sure they got it right this time, either:

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 9, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

moslylurking - I note that once again, the Wiccans and Pastafarians have not been consulted on these sensitive issues!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I know that it's "mostly", not "mosly"

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here seriously doubt that the next US president will be either Clinton or Obama? I mean, there are other folks for whom I might consider voting, but I think it's a little difficult to imagine that even the most popular Republican nominee will outdraw either of them in the election, and I think it's outright silly to imagine that the Democratic nomination will go to anyone either than one of them.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

If "Politically correct" at SeaTac means no religious references at all, then surely the same should apply to the presidential candidates? No religious references at all?

Posted by: nellie | December 9, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I got push-polled once. It wasn't a pleasant experience. That does remind me that I haven't had my prostate examined this year.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The Mittster seems to be the topic of the weekend. He was trying to come of noble and profound ala JFK but he just sounded craven and pandering. I've got examples from each speech on my blog today. Also Dowd makes reference to a beloved DC landmark.

Maureen Dowd gets off a great line:

"The world is globalizing, nuclear weapons are proliferating, the Middle East is seething, but Republicans are still arguing the Scopes trial."

Huckabee's literalism is a huge showstopper in my mind.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | December 9, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

nellie - Strange lines, not easy to draw. I'd have no problem with a candidate who said to me, "In 1951, I realized that Joseph McCarthy was a dangerous, paranoid lunatic whose words and actions were disrupting American society in fundamental ways. The great Lord above helped give me the strength to devote my energies to pointing this out to the rest of the world." On the other hand, I'd be quite uncomfortable with a candidate who said, "In 1951, the great Lord above revealed to me that Joseph McCarthy was evil, and tasked me with stopping him. Therefore, I complied."

Essentially the same effect, very different processes, I think.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

7/10 on obscure mascots (Purdue was a gimme)

I knew a coach at a Division III school in DC that collected tchtochkes from rival schools. Many had unique names but logos that mimicked larger Division I teams.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, I'm terrified that somehow the Democrats will find a way to lose. The Republicans have perfected their strategy of attacking the opposition's strengths (see Swiftboating of Kerry), using code words, and defining what Democrats stand for. Even with Bush's low popularity - he's not running, so that leaves some chance for another Republican.

I think Edwards still has a chance to do well in the primaries.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 9, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I spotted the amazing shrinking ice cream cartoon over two years ago. It seems it had shrunk as small as 1.5 quarts before making a small tic upwards.

Shrinkage is one of my biggest peeves.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

yello - LOL! I'm overdue for a check myself.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Since Bob S. mentions dog thoughts, I'll add that WSJ's "five best" feature this weekend was on dog books:

"For thine...". I never knew there were different versions. Wiki's article says the "for thine" part wasn't in the early versions of Matthew or Luke.

Posted by: SonofCarl | December 9, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, Bob S. I have a vague memory that Clinton suddenly came out from nowhere in 1992. Of course, age does decay the details.

As for the decorations in that airport, gloriously pagan-- only not nitty-gritty enough. Why don't we have a large sculpture of a deer dying in the snow with a wolf pack gathered around, howling?

Then everybody would shiver in awe of the majesty of winter and non-denominationally pray to get home alive.

Bob S.-- nice moving puppy quote. You forgot one: "Happiness is a warm puppy"-- Charlie Brown.

The anonymous rhyme is nice, but not quite accurate. A dog that's snarling and barking and wagging its tail should have its mouth believed, not its butt.
Dogs wag to indicate anxiety and indecision as well as a pleasant greeting.

I will go one further and indicate that the side a dog's tail is on during a sit can also indicate mood-- Wilbrodog's tail tends to do this.

As far as I can tell, asymmetrical wagging is not really that hard to catch if you're paying attention and have advanced 3-D motion tracking skills incorporating speed and rhythm, as well as practiced lateralization awareness.

The last one I've only been working on processing; ASL is not by nature lateralized; most full sign languages do not seem to differentiate between right or left-handed signing, unlike American Indian gestural languages.

That may mean sign language is more democratic for left-handed people; there is a stronger preference for symmetry in sign to enhance its visibility and meaning from various angles, or humans just stink at processing the sidedness of quickly changing signs at high speeds. It's something worth investigating.

I believe the trend towards symmetry in signs that already do not have specific handedness indicates that symmetrical movement is overall preferable for the signer, and less complex to process.

*tomato =( flattened O handshape stationary while red then "slice" is performed by the other hand in a pointing shape)

*tomato = (flattened O handshape stationary while "slice" is touched to the lips (not full "red"), then is performed by the other hand in a pointing shape)

*tomato = (both hands in a point, the "slice" is performed on the stationary pointing hand).

My bottom dollar-- people can learn to process tail wags, but it takes practice and attention. If you can detect deceit and passing false emotions by asymmetrical facial motions, you probably could analyze a wag after some practice.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, your knowledge of cognitive processes never fails to amaze me. I learn so much from you!

Here's a story of goodwill for the season, proving there is some good in NASCAR owners:

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all who specifically addressed my "where to draw the line" question. I still have some thinking to do.

I am pretty sure I could not vote for anyone who couldn't reconcile evolution with their religion. Reveals my own prejudice, but for me that puts them on the lunatic fringe on both science and religion. On the other hand, what if I found everything else about the candidate trustworthy and compellingly in agreement with my other fundamental beliefs? I don't see this happening because the usual bible literalists and I part ways long before there is any need to worry about a voting booth decision.

I suppose you could just call this another fine mess the Republicans have got us into. I liked it better when faith, like oval office sex, was a private matter.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 9, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

We are still enjoying the ice, and will get more this evening as whatever is still liquid freezes. However, we still have electricity (cross your fingers, everyone). I filled a couple of buckets just in case (remember, no electricity equals no water). Ivansdad was somewhat thwarted watching the Cowboys, though pleased by the outcome, because the local affiliate had ice on the satellite which interfered with the feed.

Bob S., you describe the difference between Oral Roberts saying he wanted to serve God and show his faith by building a hospital, and saying that God had told him he would die if he didn't raise enough money for that hospital. He chose the latter. Scary folks. He raised the money, but eventually the hospital folded.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to note that the after the reverend raised the issue and the councillors passed a law upholding the constitution (why should they have to do that?) and avoiding a lawsuit, he sued THEM.
Now look who he's hanging out with.
This guy knows exactly what he's doing.
It's the po-faced hypocricy that gets me.

Look at what the people were saying. The Founding Fathers were good born agains. The country was founded on Christianity.
The good reverend is a "Prayer Warrior."

Now dogs I like.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

We're getting a lovely ice shower now. Perhaps I'd better cook supper while I still can. Then we can all go to bed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., I for one don't believe That the "Hillary or Obama" choice is inevitable; I think there's a good shot at neither of them getting it. (I don't know who will; I just don't think it's anywhere close to inevitable as you do.) I especially have never bought into the "Hillary is inevitable" theory. But we won't know anything until after Iowa.

And you heard it here first: the Huckabee boomlet has crested. Friday was it's last major day. (Although on Monday his Newsweek cover come out, which will appear [falsely] that the boomlet continues.) The reason I say he crested on Friday is that on Saturday some of his early statements started to come out, and those statements are gonna bit him on the butt, although it's gonna take time for it to happen, so be patient. As to his playing to Evangelicals and "the base": I say "good." let him. That base is no longer big enough nor strong enough to win, so he can play to his base all he wants.

I DO agree that no Republican can win, assuming the Dems don't do something incredibly stupid. But I think any of the six Dems (except Kucinich, the seventh), can beat any Republican. And it doesn't matter if Bush isn't running; he's still the main target. Dems can run on an anti-Bush/anti-GOP platform and it doesn't matter who the GOP candidate will be, because they are all pretty much advocating Bush-like positions.

The main theme for the Dems will be "We've had a Conservative, evangeliscal Republican for the last eight years; how has that worked out for you?" The GOP argument is fundamentally doomed: "We're sorry about the last guy we foisted on you, but now we wanna replace the old, incompetent religious Conservative fruitcake with a new "better" religious conservative fruitcake."

The tide is quite, quite clearly for a new broom to sweep clean (which is one reason Hillary could lose).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, if you put it this way: "My religion makes me uneasy about free speech and teaching modern scientific ideas, because I think science does conflict with religion," I think you'll find it doesn't sound prejudiced at all.

Our country's prosperity, prestige and advancement in the 20th century has been based on science, both home-grown and the many immigrant scientists who came here because of religious persecution, like Einstein, Bohr, and others.

Such a need to "control" science according to private belief helped ruin the Soviet Union, and makes the U.S. no better than all the governments we routinely decry.

I would consider such a person to be a hazard to national research and security if elected president.

That's HOW prejudiced I am.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Bob S.,
Good quotes. Here are some more. I was specifically looking for an H.L. Mencken quote, but I couldn't resist some of these:

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." - Mark Twain

Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
- Christian Science, 1907 Twain

Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion-- several of them.
- "The Lowest Animal," 1897


A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.

"...a dog is very religious and its religion is free from superstition. The god it believes in is its master, and that god actually exists, and is actually concerned about its welfare, and actually rewards it and punishes it, on a plan comprehensible to dogs and meeting with their approval, for its virtues and vices. Dogs need not waste any time over insoluble theological problems. Their god is plainly visible and wholly understandable -- they have no need of clergy to guess for them, mislead them and get them into trouble."

"Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them."

Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love. -- H L Mencken, "Bryan" (coverage of the Scopes Trial) The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 27, 1925

The difference between the smartest dog and the stupidest man -- say a Tennessee Holy Roller -- is really very small. -- H L Mencken, Minority Report, 1956,

Sunday school: A prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
-- H L Mencken

Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration -- courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.-- H L Mencken,

The Creator is a comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh. -- H L Mencken

If we assume that man actually does resemble God, then we are forced into the impossible theory that God is a coward, an idiot, and a bounder -- H L Mencken

"The more I know about men, the more I like dogs." - Gloria Allred, feminist attorney

Posted by: Dave png | December 9, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Funny. I have a sudden hankering for beer and oysters.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I am not so sanguine about a Democratic victory in 2008. The anger of the electorate we saw in 2004 seemed focussed on the very specific issue of the Iraq War. Given that a Democratic Congress has not led to the immediate flowering of Peace anticipated by some, combined with the greater ambiguity of the situation today, suggests that this may not be a driving factor for many.

Remember, this is still a profoundly conservative country. The Democrats need to suppress any sense of smugness and resist the temptation to play "told ya so" politics. They need to clearly explain to the American public the benefits of a Democratic Administration. Simply running against Bush isn't enough, because both sides will be doing that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

SCC: 2006. I wish there had been anger in 2004.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Depends on how you define conservative, RD. Socially, fiscially, and war-mongering conservative are 3 different things although some people certainly are all 3.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Things that make tax payers blood boil. Police officers want overtime pay to get dressed for work.

Posted by: bh | December 9, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

You can argue with rational social conservatives but as soon as someone says, "Because the Bible/Koran/Tibetan Book of the Dead tells me so", all sense ends.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm simply amazed that you think the GOP will be running against Bush at some point Padouk. To date eight of the nine are not, and the only one who is against the war, Ron Paul, is their version of Kucinich--the wacky uncle role. Giuliani is running on 9/11; how is he going to run against Bush? Impossible. McCain is the most ardent pro-war, and he's had plenty of opportunity to buck Bush (such as on torture), but has pulled his punches. The others are all doing their Conservative schtick and their religious schtick, just as Bush did. What the bloody blazes can they attack Bush for? They supported him every step of the way, all the way. None of them has any wiggle room whatsoever to start backtracking.

And anyway, the Dems can attack Buish from now until election eve with complete impunity. No one is going to defend Bush, which is the point (and the other side of the coin). What Republican is going to stannd up and say "Bush did I great job, and I want to carry on his great work"? Can't be done. He11's bells, most of 'em are trying to be Ronald Reagan, not Bush.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

If police officers have to dress AT work, they have a case.

If the city allows them to dress at home and come to work and not change in and out of clothes, then this lawsuit wouldn't be necessary.

There is precedent in factory work, and it's a valid objection about being obliged to do a clothes change at work "off the clock."

How would you like to show up at work 15 minutes early daily just so you could change your clothes? And to have to punch your clock out 15 minutes earlier than usual just so you could change before running home to catch your kid's play or game?
If they require all uniform changes be done at the HQ, they should pay for it.

It doesn't boil MY blood. What boils my blood is the city doesn't seem to want offduty police officers in uniform so they're forcing the officers to sue for either cents or sense.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, if you say, "My religion makes me uneasy about free speech and teaching modern scientific ideas, because I think science does conflict with religion," you will certainly sound prejudiced against religion as it concerns science, at least to someone who believe science and religion either can coexist or that religion trumps science. This is true even if you're meaning to say that you are a religious person who believes in scientific advancement. That is one reason these lines are so hard.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Boko, where in heaven's name did you manage to find a "rational social conservative"? I'm amazed. Well done! The Smithsonian may want to acquire him/her (saving you the taxidermy expense).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the notion of Republicans wishing to disassociate themselves from the Bush Administration is especially shocking.

The mantra seems to be something like Bush wasn't a real Conservative. Or, let's bring Conservatism back to where it should be. I would put money that you will see the notion of "True Conservatism," in implied contrast to the current Administration, being touted.

But that is a secondary point. My main point is that, as a matter of strategy, implying, even in the most roundabout way, that everyone who voted for Bush is a brain dead dumb-a$$ fool isn't going to be very effective. I assert there are lots of people who do not yearn for the Bill Clinton years nearly as much as they do the Ronald Reagan era.

The Dems need to do more than energize their base and vilify their philosophical opponents. Leave that to the Rove era. They need to reach out to disillusioned former Bush supporters in a sensitive and respectful way or they are going to lose.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"Here's a story of goodwill for the season, proving there is some good in NASCAR owners:"

Ooh, Slyness, you better not say that in *that* tone of voice around Joe Gibbs...

I, for one, think that a lot can still happen for any of the top candidates in either of the major parties. Having said that, I find the Thompson campaign's inability to move the needles much quite curious.

Seemed to me that he was playing the game quite cagily and timing things well, but perhaps he was caught wrong-footed when several of the states moved their primaries and caucuses up into January...?

On a completely different topic, I see Rick Weiss writes about astro/cosmo/taiko/whoevernauts' lowered resistance to infection and disease after prolonged weightlessness:

Er, haven't spacecraft with centrifuges - or even with crew quarters in the shape of a wheel - spinning to provide artificial gravity been on the drawing board for about 60 years or so?

If we're serious about human space travel and exploration, maybe we're going to have to do a little better than beer cans perched on top of bottle rockets.


Posted by: Anonymous | December 9, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

You people are making much too much sense. I hope the Democratic campaigns discover what you are saying and act accordingly.

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Or prejudiced against science as it interferes with religious beliefs, Ivansmom. (I do not say that... I say that I would feel uneasy about anybody who said their faith or beliefs make them feel uneasy about open discourse).

I do not believe religion trumps science when it comes to educating our youth. Anybody who has studied history and the current state of science in religious or idealologically run countries cannot disagree.

Millions starved because the USSR decided to run agriculture according to communist ideology.

Gary Trudeau had an excellent cartoon on intelligent design vs evolution... when you're getting treated for an infection with an antibiotic, are you really willing to stake your life to stand on your belief that evolution doesn't exist at all?

(Christian scientists do stake their lives on their beliefs, at least.)

Okay, let's say you're willing to stake your life on your beliefs and you fully reject everything scientific based on premises that interferes with your beliefs.

Do you have the right to do that for others, even if it could kill or injure them?
Disturbingly, a lot of people who would disagree with others foisting THEIR belief system on them, think they have a perfect right to do so.
In a way, it's never going to be perfect because we cannot possibly foresee all the consequences of our actions.

And nowhere is this more true than in science, because by definition it is exploration of knowledge not yet discovered.

Note that I don't actually consider an embryonic stem cell research ban as such a matter; science does need some ethics.

There are enough incidents in 20th century science with human subjects and legislation based on using science to overrationalize prejudice to deny that.

I originally was against the ban, but when I researched the matter, I concluded that embyronic stem cell research was unlikely to be as effective (although at first glance easier) than studying adult stem cell lines.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Watching Sunday Night Football, and thinking that Brian Billick needs to send Kyle Boller to Remedial Quarterback School, with focuses on:

1. The hows and whys of scrambles and slides: avoiding getting hit and hurt.

2. Throwing the ball to the guys wearing the same uniform you are.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, it's starting to rain in Baltimore.

greenwithenvy, I'm hoping you brought your bad weather gear, sir.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Fred Thompson is less Ronald Reagan than he is Chance the Gardener.

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Let me put it this way. I assert that to win the Democratic candidate needs to convince a significant number of pro-life evangelical Christians that it is in the best interest of all America that he, or she, is elected. The candidate needs to convince such people that there are larger matters involved than the hoary old issues of Guns, God, and Gays.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm related to some. I'll send some queries. I know they're absolutely sick of Bush. I can't see Rudy making any inroads. Huckabee, maybe. Romney... I don't know, they would listen if he had the right ideas.

As for the Democrats, I think some do have a chance, but whether they will be the ones that win the nomination, well.

It's the people who turn out to vote that matter. People will be more willing to vote if they feel like there is a significant difference between the candidates.
Therefore the Republicans will be mounting a massive smear campaign again on whoever is the democratic candidate, just to stir up turnout among their faithful, not just to sway independents. That has been their basic strategy since the Reagan years.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

RD, I think you're right, but I think there is hope. I have a friend who thinks of himself as the typical Oklahoman Christian Republican voter, and he's probably right. He attends a Christian nondenominational megachurch, is a small business owner who makes a good living, and is socially conservative. This year he's disgusted with all the Republican candidates. He says he wants to hear someone talk about something other than taxes, security or social issues. He'll never vote for Hilary, but if the choice is Hilary or one of the current Repub slate, he may not vote. I think a lot of people are either smarter or more fed up than they get credit for.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Not sure that can happen, RD, given that most evangelical Christians want to outlaw abortion and most (all, I think) of the Democratic candidates do not. Those folks may just stay home rather than choose between Rudy or Mitt and any Democrat. Again, the Republicans are very clever at using abortion, gun control, gay marriage to make any Democrat a non-choice - even when Democratic policies would be more in the interest of most working class evangelicals. What I'm hoping for is more turnout from young people, African Americans, Hispanics (who are not thrilled with Republicans because of their immigration views).

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

Exactly, Ivansmom.

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

I guess I am also passionate about inclusive campaigning because I am sick to death of politicians who write off the interests of millions of people because they don't need them to win.

I yearn for a leader who can look someone in the eye and say, no, I do not support your hot-button issue, but this is why you should still vote for me.

Someone who can get people to look beyond their personal short-term interests and pet issues and instead focus on that old-fashioned notion called The Common Good.

I think it can be done.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that's funny.

I'll tell you exactly how much when you have us all over for drinks, as you mentioned the other day...(thought I missed that, hmmm?)


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

As usual I over-stated. We can use arguments from any any source or make it up as we go; as long as we don't claim divine authority.
Or knowledge from beyond the grave.WooWoo

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it can be done, RD, but you must agree that such leadership is not the norm, nor has it ever been. Washington, maybe, FDR on December 8, 1941, but that's all that comes to mind.

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end of the Gloria in Bach's b-minor mass is a tremendous piece of music. I don't know Latin, so even though I know the piece's origin it's a musical experience to me, not religious. If it were played at to open a City Council session, I'm not sure how I would respond. But a prayer that's clearly a prayer is another matter.

Posted by: LTL-CA | December 9, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

RD, your point (with which I agree) gets back to one of the shortcomings of the primary system, and one reason so many states are pushing that early date. A state such as Oklahoma, usually written off as a reliable "red" in national politics (though virtually all our state executive officeholders are Democrats, and half the legislature is too), usually gets no attention in primary presidential campaigns. None. The presumed losing team may fly someone in, more likely a spouse, but the presumed Repub will never show, because he (its always a he for them, eh?) assumes he'll carry the state. I think the drive to move the primary here, such as it was, was motivated by the hope that someone, anyone, would pay enough attention to actually campaign here. I swear, in 2004 we didn't even get most of the national presidential commercials. No need to waste money on a state that won't decide the candidate.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I mean, "The Sermon on the Mount," stands on its merits. Plus, I have a lot riding on "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

Jesus was into some radical stuff. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, render unto Ceasar ....curse the heathen, fleece the stupid.

Sorry. The last two are Benny Hinn.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

About bedtime now. Here's my hope: I wake up at 6 am to discover that (a) we still have power and (b) school is cancelled. Ignoble but honest. May your evenings be filled with a peace of cheese.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Now, I *really* hope greenie brought his bad weather gear. Indy 37, Baltimore 7, 10 minutes through the second quarter.
And Boller just threw *another* interception (see #2 on Remedial Quarterbacking list above).


As far as getting people "to look beyond their personal short-term interests and pet issues and instead focus on that old-fashioned notion called The Common Good."

In this 21st Century 24-hour-a-day All-Access-all-the-Time YouTubed 15-second Celebrity OverExposure Immediate Gratification Anonymous Flaming Us vs. Them Sliced-and-Diced Special Interest Group Internet era, I'm not hopeful for any leader being able to satisfy a Common Good larger than a scientifically determined typical WaPo/ABC poll sample size.

I'd love to be wrong about that.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Remember being Simponized ? Try the elfin version for giggles with your nearest and dearest friends.

My elf self can be found here - I cropped the photo too closely and believe I look a bit like a guy. Oh well, I'm not about to be identified on the street with this photo.

And frostbitten - my office Christmas party included several women making NY styled latkes for the potluck portion of the party - a HUGE hit, and a young woman singing the most religious of the Christmas hymns at the bar portion of the party - and the unchurched among us were simply amazed.

Posted by: Pacifica | December 9, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Pacifica... the link?

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Bia, that is interesting-- " Somehow the music gives it a truth, even if I don't find that truth in the words themselves."

I do the same thing-- suspend the disbelief and feel it while signing. For me it is probably a predominantly rightbrain activity, as it might be for you.

However, professional musicians transfer a lot of their musical functions to their left brains, which seems to help handle technical mastery better.
Our right ears are more accurate for pitch and that goes to the left side of the brain, so that also plays in.

Your musican friend may be more critically aware of the music he plays, processing it intellectually as well as emotionally, like people do with language. So he would be more bothered.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

>Pacifica... the link?

I really should not attempt to multi-task, talking to son as he came in from work.

I still think I look like an older gentleman.

Posted by: Pacifica | December 9, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh - add the football game to the multi-tasking. The old Baltimore vs the new Baltimore.

The mother-ship of my agency is in Baltimore, and the results of Baltimore football games are always hot fodder for agency conference calls.

Posted by: Pacifica | December 9, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Pacifica... you're so... talented!

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

44-14 now. Perhaps the Ravens are starting their comeback, their amazing come-from-behind win?


What's hard to believe is that this is the same Ravens team that just last week gave the Patriots their hardest-fought, closest game of the year. Amazing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I notice they inappropriately trim the facial shape in photos sometimes. I'm certain you don't look quite like that, Pacifica... because that would mean you're Mudge's long lost twin sister. The happy one.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Never mind; they blew the PAT. 44-13, not 14. That makes it a five-score game. (Well, I suppose four TDs and four 2-pt. conversions would put them ahead. It's just that five scores is more realistic. Well, NOT realistic, acutally, but what I meant was...uh...)

'Night, folks.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, Pacifica - you could be my twin, too. LTL-CA, nice to see you again.

I guess congratulations are due for Snuke and Bad Sneakers and Maggie. And somehow the Seahawks made it into the playoffs (oh joy, local football continues).

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 9, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Why would you assume us crotchedy types aren't happy? There's no correlation between happiness and perpetual ill-humored kvetching. Really. Trust me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Me? I don't care a whit about the Patriots! I only care about the Red Sox in September, and only if they are winning. It's only in October that I become a rabid fan. That makes me a __________.

Feel free to fill in the blanks.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 9, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I wish I was so confident that the Dems will win the WH next year. I think the Democratic nominee will have the wind at his/her back, but I don't think it is a given. I completely agree with RD. The good Lord knows there's plenty of ammo to use regarding the incredible incompetence of the current administration, but I think the Dems need to appeal to a wider range than just the left side of the spectrum and a few independents to win. And I think Ivansmom hit on another point that will be a factor...I think there is a very significant group of folks who will never vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstance and they're not just the VRWC. It's like Virginia's governor said, oh so politely...Many Virginians will vote for the right Democrat, but they're not going to vote for just any Democrat-I'm paraphrasing there, but I think I got the gist of it.

Posted by: Kim | December 9, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse


Yo, Bro. You know after a certain age, there are characteristics that are not necessarily familiar.

I would be honored to be accepted into the fam as an adopted sibling - I do maintain as a family characteristic the dark black eye brows - now almost white hair - except for that piece in the nape of the neck, and the eye brows.

Posted by: Pacifica | December 9, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

True, you're always perky, Curmudgeon. But you don't show it as abundantly as in that elf photo.

I bet if you used a photo of yours, it'd be a perky, scowling elf dancing.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2007 12:54 AM | Report abuse

The gnome said I could be an elf! But the hat's too small for my taste.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 10, 2007 1:10 AM | Report abuse

re: "Er, haven't spacecraft ... spinning to provide artificial gravity been on the drawing board for about 60 years or so?"

Ummm... yeah, but... longevity studies have never been the primary reason for any manned space missions, and that whole "spinning" thing tends to get in the way of other tasks. If and when LONG missions become a serious priority, then preparing for them will become a priority, I reckon.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 10, 2007 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Scopes trial? What a surprise, I was IN Dayton, TN last week... *L* The museum played the whole thing pretty straight, an interesting recount of the times. It's a cautionary tale, too, for people who think they can legislate their beliefs onto everyone.

*back-to-the-grind Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 10, 2007 5:28 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle, Scotty. Cassandra, you up yet? Hey, Sis, you get to sleep in for a few more hours, bein' on the Left Coast. But if I were you, I'd think twice before wanting to be adopted into my clan. I've got two relatives dying of cancer, and there's a civil war raging among the offspring. You're much better off keeping your distance. (Not that you aren't welcome to come aboard, of course; just don't say you weren't warned.)

44-20 was the final. And a very misleading score it was, too. Sorry, GWE.

I see my very own Congressman is all over the front of the Post this morning. Too bad about that music firm earmark. But otherwise, oh, the horror of earmarking projects to clean up Chesapeake Bay, support Pax River NAS, and local law enforcement, etc. The shame! The horror! Go, Steny, go!

The other problem with the Post homepage is I have to look at Romney all d@mn day. And I assume there's seven or eight other Republican bozos in the wings; that's a real downer on a Monday morning. I like Dan Balz, but his lede piece on Hillary yesterday read like it took seven minutes to write.

Another one (or maybe two separate) crazed gunman sprees, again out in Colorado.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 10, 2007 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Mudge, I'm up, just moving slow this morning. Hip wants to hurt something awful.

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

Ivansmom, please be careful. In the news they talked about ice in your place.

A friend sent the g-girl a toothbrush for Christmas. A Spongebob toothebrush. Now we can't get out of the bathroom. It is better. She loves it. She also got the Dora, the Explorer one too.

This morning I'm thinking about Error Flynn, and thinking that if love would have kept him here, he most certainly would be laughing and enjoying the Achenblog this morning. I believe he is still doing that. I did not like Error at first, but then one day he said something to me that sprung wells of love for him, and until the day he died I loved him madly. Oh, we had our ups and downs like we all do here, but I could never stay angry with him. It really hurt when he died. Merry Christmas, Error.

Have to go. We have to drive to school this morning, cannot find the seat belt. Have a great day, folks. It is the season of love and joy, and I'm so happy that have all of you to talk to and wish Merry Christmas.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 10, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning and happy Monday, folks! It's cloudy and 53 in the mountains. Hope everybody has a pleasant day.

Posted by: Slyness | December 10, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. I don't know Maggie, I'd never fill in that blank as you are entitled to not care about football. But gee, it's hard to not get caught up in the excitement of the Patriots. Yesterday's game started out looking iffy as the defense was rather weak in the first half. But by the time of that trick play, the game had become fun to watch. I know it's more important to win in January than to go undefeated now, but I admit I've been sucked in by the hype. Next week's game with the Jets is going to be very interesting.

Off to maybe slide my way to work. Hard to tell if it's icy outside, temp is 33. Hoping this week is not quite so busy. Have one huge task that has to be done today, no matter what.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 10, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Willbrod's remark ("gloriously pagan-- only not nitty-gritty enough") had me howling; my laughing awoke the dog.

Posted by: Jumper | December 10, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 10, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Why do you continue to ignore the most riveting story in Washington: the Post's readers recognition of the decline in the Post's journalistic standards and their near unanimous recognition that Deborah Howell's role as Ombudsman has become a joke. See the comments on her current column on the Post's coverage of cultural events, as symptomatic of the broader problems. See the number of readers who, like me, view the recent article on Obama's Muslim links and Ms. Howell's feckless "review" of it as pluperfect examples of what we're talking about. It's all a festering sore that will not go away.

Posted by: Tbarksdl | December 24, 2007 7:04 AM | Report abuse

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