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Of Politics, Physics and Stamp Collecting

It bothers me that we devote so many journalistic resources to covering the presidential campaign but very few resources to covering stuff like ... you know ... Earth. The planet, the environment, science, the long-term challenges of operating a technological civilization that puts short-term profit over long-term sustainability. That's not even a "beat" anywhere these days. That's like a partial beat, something you'd cover in addition to, for example, handling theater reviews.

If I had to offer advice to an aspiring science writer, I'd say, master a supplementary craft, like sportswriting. Already this is happening, which is why you see so many sports metaphors creeping into stories about science. You read things like:

"The Large Hadron Collider's approach to finding the Higgs boson is basically the Woody Hayes method -- three yards and a cloud of dust."

And my gosh, all the science jargon that is creeping into the sports section is starting to get ridiculous! You keep reading sentences like this:

"When he dunks he has the kind of hang time that could give Isaac Newton nightmares."

The real danger is that, while we're covering the election, something really important will happen and get no coverage at all, such as the oceans suddenly evaporating, or the sun going dark. If Mars simply vanished from the night sky there'd be a story the next day about how it might affect the Wisconsin primary.

Richard Reeves, we see on Jennifer Ouellette's blog, has a new book out, and this time it's not about a president but about Ernest B. Rutherford, who discovered that atoms are mostly empty space. He's the cat who said, "All science is either physics or stamp collecting." [I almost wrote "physics of stamp collecting," which might actually be a good science project for someone.]

'My favorite moment of the evening occurred when someone asked him if there were similarities between his past presidential biographies and this most recent scientific one. While conceding that Rutherford shared a larger-than-life persona and gift for inspiring others with Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, Reeves said bluntly, "Presidents are pygmies" in comparison to the great men of science -- not meant in any way to disparage the achievements of political leaders, mind you, merely to put those things in true perspective.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 14, 2008; 8:59 AM ET
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Hello, happy VD ever'body!!

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 14, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Happy Valentine's Day, all

I unintentionally became a philatelist (nice word) when I made an order from Swiss Post in '99. They are VERY persistent with their mailing lists. The several years I remained at that address I received information about new issues, and my quarterly account (SF 0.00).

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 14, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You know, I haven't talked about the parts of Clinton's speech last night that resonated with voters (the war, health care since 25 percent of San Antonians have no health coverage, and comprehensive immigration reform--as well as how she learned to love Mexican food when she lived here), but I am truly, truly sorry that I could not hear this environmental activist speak on the other side of town:

Some grafs:

Diane Wilson doesn't know why people think that after you get some notoriety, you're ready to leave home.

"For me, it would never be that," the internationally recognized environmentalist says of the little fishing town on the Texas Gulf Coast where she was born and continues to live. ...

That Wilson would say such a thing about her beloved Seadrift -- just 150 miles southeast of San Antonio -- says much about what comes with 20 years of fighting companies in your hometown.

To Formosa Plastics, Alcoa, Union Carbide, BP Chemical and Dow Chemical, she is a burrowed thorn. To others, she's an author and activist, celebrity even. On Wednesday at 7 p.m., she'll speak about environmental justice at Saint Mary's Hall.

Her 92-year-old mother can't believe her daughter is asked to speak or that she's well-liked, given what townspeople say about her. "She thinks I'm lying to her," Wilson says, laughing.

These are serious matters, but Wilson laughs a lot. It's how the 59-year-old part-Cherokee Texan plows past what has been put in her way since activism became her life.

It started in 1989 with a newspaper article that described Seadrift as the No. 1 toxic-waste disposal site in the nation. It came as news to Wilson. It said the bay -- which she loves and from which she derived her livelihood -- was a stew of mercury, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride and other chemicals.

She called a meeting of the town's fishing community. (At the time, the fourth-generation shrimper was the captain of her own boat.) The gathering drew criticism from the town's leadership and business community.

"Even when they know it's for the good, there's something about a woman getting out there and causing trouble."

Wilson continues to cause trouble through lectures and her 2005 book, "An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas" (Chelsea Green, $27.50).

[more] ...

Posted by: Loomis | February 14, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

SoC, you know the Swiss just wanted to be sure that all your financial records were in makellose Ordnung. If you were still at that address, you'd still be getting account statements.

Posted by: Yoki | February 14, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse


8/10 on the quiz... A good omen, I think.


*faxin' Cassandra a dozen gross of HUGS and a gift basket of giggles*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 14, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of science stories, I have to re-post this:

OK, here's a story I don't understand. The U.S. wants to shoot down one of its own spy satellites that's orbit is decaying and will soon fall to earth in March. The supposed danger is that it still has lots of its fuel, hydrazine, aboard. So far, so good.

But why is this a problem? When it falls out of orbit, it is going to burn up coming down through the atmosphere; at some point, all that hydrazine is going to ignite, blow the thing up, and fall to earth in tiny bits that ought to burn up even easier. Instead, we want to destroy it in orbit, where the hydrazine will still ignote, and the debris field will remain in orbit, causing a much larger problem.

What am I missing here?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 01:25 PM

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

No, Joel, he wasn't disparaging politicians, he was disparaging pygmies.

SoC, does a philatelist philate? And if so, whom or what? And yes, I have seen "Charade."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 14, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

thanks, jack, for the bouquet of roses and the hugs.

scotty, thanks for the basket of giggles.

it's all good, baby, all good.


your'e not trying to sneak, JA, are you?

Posted by: cassandra s | February 14, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: You'll probably have to get SciTim into this, but my guess is that the amount of hydrazine on board isn't that much compared to the size of the craft (which they keep saying is as big as a bus). The hydrazine is likely there for the steering jets, and the tanks may even be external, or on the shell of the craft. As such, even if they blew they might not do major damage to the body.

Posted by: ebtnut | February 14, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good video of the Large Hadron Collider, understandable to non-pointy headed types like me-

Oh, and Dr. Brian Cox has a certain charm.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Gee, what happened to the great WOMEN of science?

Posted by: laloomis | February 14, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

ebt, the story says there's quite a lot of hydrazine aboard. I don't know how much that is, but the story makes it sound like that's the major part of the problem. It also says its a relatively smaller satellite, as these things go-- 5,000 to 10,000 lbs. That's not bus-sized-- that's SUV size (actually, smaller than an SUV, because an SUV is basically a hollow box).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Cassandra, I really don't understand your question about "sneaking."

Interesting that Kurtz writes about Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton, as interesting as Carl Bernstein writing in his Hillary Clinton biography about Sally Quinn and Hillary Clinton. It would be fascinating if Kurtz turned his pen toward Quinn, but I guess that he'd be covering material already reported by and even better and at more length by Bernstein. Hmmm.

Gonna give my eyes a rest.

Posted by: laloomis | February 14, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge maybe the reason is because it is a <spy> satellite

Posted by: omni | February 14, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm a stamp collector (figurative).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 14, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

SCC: spy

Posted by: omni | February 14, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I would not want to have to explain why the satellite shot missed. Sounds like a Star Wars test to me.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Double SCC: <it>spy</it>

Sheesh, even when use preview I still mess it up. Fat lot of good that walk did.

Posted by: omni | February 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Not trying to start anything here, but I feel the need to speak up about something in the last boodle. Regardless of my personal issues these days, I was confirmed as a Roman Catholic, and I did make promises. On top of that, it is the Lenten Season. So here goes.

I'm not sure what the import of Archbishop Gomez being a member of Opus Dei is, other than as a very minor point of interest. Would it be noteworthy if he were a Jesuit or a Franciscan?

In the article, there's an early warning about the bias of the reporter by the use of the word 'complained', when the Archbishop was merely stating a fact. The release also makes clear that the diocese wasn't telling people how to vote (many churches do).

As to protesters at St. Mary's--when in Rome, ya gotta expect to hear people speaking Italian.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 14, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Here is my Valentine's gift to you all, I was reading an article that one of the belugas at Vancouver Aquarium was pregnant. That reminded me that I had not looked at the Beluga cam lately - seems to be a nice day in Vancouver resulting in great viewing of the whales. I fell in love with these whales when I saw them at the Vancouver aquarium.

The sea otter cam is cute as well.

Great sights to share with your kids/grandkids for Valentine's Day.

Posted by: dmd | February 14, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Romney's endorsing McCain.

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, two words for you regarding your satellite question, "Target practice" Jack already said as much.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 14, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

It's Kosher!

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

dmd-thanks for the beluga cam link and tip to the otter cam. Nyac and Milo (otters) were the cuties featured in the YouTube video where they "held hands." I am far too excited about being able to check in on them in a "Where are they now?" way. Big cyber Valentines hug to you!

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

'"I was neither advised nor consulted by the university before the decision was made to have Senator Clinton speak at the university," Gomez said in the statement released by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.'

This is a statement of fact, but it sounds pretty much like complaining to me.

'Gomez said he was not trying to tell people how to vote, but he noted that U.S. Catholic bishops have affirmed a statement calling on Catholics not to honor or give platforms to political candidates and officeholders "who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."'

Sounds pretty much like he's telling people who NOT to vote for, anyway.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 14, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Don. It is likely to be interpreted as an escalation of a dangerous game that started when the Chinese shot their satellite.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Let's remember that Pygmies are very competent and capable people.

I'm suddenly, locally, and for a very short time, famous:

However, this week's crop of British astronomers were impressed/amused that Richard Hammond (the Hamster) was here, and that I used my inept social skills to insult him. Good for me!

Guess what? You can spend 10's of millions to build and operate a sophisticated modern observatory, and still get shut down by bad weather.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm no philatelist, though I've read about it in Cosmo and found the practice intriguing -- but *only* if I'm the addressee.

Waitaminute... I think I read that wrong.

Anyway... I think science gets short shrift in the press because most people could really care less what might happen outside of their estimated lifespan (and possibly their children's and grandchildren's).

Unless it's a story about a meteor or some other falling object that will land on their couch in the next three days or so, most people relegate science news to the part of their brain that gets excited about shopping for life insurance.

I'm not saying that global warming (or other major stuff) should be ignored, but isn't global warming basically a blip when compared to the inevitable incineration/obliteration the Earth will ultimately receive when the Sun goes nova?

Even if it doesn't go nova and simply does the dwarf thing, it will expand into Earth's orbit and gobble the whole planet up before shrinking again.

No matter how you look at it, we're doomed in the long run (from a terrestrial perspective).

So we fixate on the immediate, the sensational, the Britneys, the Congressional investigations of steroid use in baseball and other things going on right this minute that are purely human in perspective -- especially those things that just might have an effect on our personal lives -- and then we die and none of it matters anymore.

Not trying to ruin anyone's buzz here, but science (and those who write about it) seems to keep coming back to how insignificant we are in the big picture.

Enough philosophizing... time to go back to doing important stuff, like making miniature doors for imaginary beings.

Posted by: martooni | February 14, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Tim... you didn't talk about.. you know... did you?

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

What'd you do, Tim? The Hamster Dance?

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, and I say thank you for Dr. Brian Cox. Had my science teachers been more like him I might have taken more of an interest.

Posted by: dmd | February 14, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks TBG, I will never have to wonder what to buy Mr. F for Father's Day ever again. Bacon salt, who woulda thunk?

Just might have to visit the only MN retailer, since it isn't all that far away. Zup's market in Ely carries Bacon Salt and trumpets their meat processing thusly:
"Zup's is making all your favorite big game sausages, fresh or smoked in our meat departments. Bring your boneless deer, moose, elk or other wild game meat to your nearest Zups's store or call for more information. Polish, Summer Sausage, Bratwurst, Wild Game Stix, Breakfast Sausage, Country Style, or Italian Sausage. We also cut the deer, moose or elk and will grind too. This service is available throughout the year."

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

A 5000 to 10,000 pound object will not burn up entirely, it will leave a substantial chunk that can reach the ground. That is bad for whoever might be standing there. I find it hard to believe that the hydrazine is a serious issue. It is indescribably dangerous stuff (it will react with fats in human tissue to produce combustion starting at room temperature -- you see the problem?), but I find it hard to believe it would reach the ground before spontaneously combusting on its own. Still, there may be some small odds of it reaching the ground intact. Explosion of the fuel does not solve the problem of the falling spacecraft -- the fuel will all be at one end, not evenly distributed, thus it will not reduce the spacecraft into tiny bacon bits that can flutter harmlessly to the ground or burn up on their own. More like a bunch of harmless bacon bits surrounding a supersonic baked potato.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 14, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was pretty clear that his press release was in response to parishoners calls. Besides, he didn't say "I was disappointed that...", he said he was surprised (a point not mentioned in that particular article). But thanks for listening.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 14, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Dr. Cox had me from "2,000 superconducting magnets."

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

If Romney endorse McCain does McCain then get his delegates? If so based on the estimated delegate counts I've seen this would put McCain 80 delegates away from wrapping this up.

Posted by: omni | February 14, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Smathers on Pepper "an admitted philatelist" is a relished political dish in Florida, served often at rural rallies and fish fries.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 14, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

LiT, you make a good point in asking what bearing the Archbishop's memebrship in Opus Dei has on the original topic.

In my opinion, there's none. Seems to me that the writer is using this information to imply that there's some mysterious forces implementing some secret agenda in all this.

I just think the man is acting as the Archbishop of his dioces, nothing nefarious going on IMO. Freedoms of religion and speech apply both ways, right?

And LiT, kudos to you for speaking your conscience. And another heaping of Catholic guilt for me.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

That helmet completely destroyed the seriousness of science for me. Really. It was...strangely weird.

Sorry. The firefighting background kicked in.

Posted by: Slyness | February 14, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I think that committed political convention delegates are obligated to vote for a particular candidate on the first ballot and after that they are free agents. Since most of these folks are hard core political junkies, local and state party officials, office holders, etc., they are probably going to follow the wishes of their guy throughout the voting, but nothing binds them after the first ballot.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 14, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I am with LiT and bc on the odd invoking of Opus Dei-ism in that piece.

He questioned (chastised, took umbrage, etc.) because he is the Bishop and is Catholic. Not news that Catholic facilities are generally not the places for pro-choice events or pro-choice speakers.

Only once did a homily of my experience come close to telling pew-peanuts what to do. I spoke immediately to Fr. Close to the Line. He was good-willed, and later made a comment from the pulpit about the problem of his framing. He also said that over a 100 parishioners had either written or phoned or called his bosses.

Ahh the wisdom of the peanut gallery!

Off to my class in ecological economics to talk about how to think about markets across generations: people in the future who MAY want a chance at stuff, etc.

And, critique the economic ex cathedra stance that peeps don't (can't) care about future generations. Hellowwwww! Children. Grandchildren....and yes! other people's progeny too. I care. Bet lots of boodlers do too.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 14, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The story says Romney will "release" his delegates and urge them to vote for McCain. So once he releases them they are free to vote on the first ballot for whomever they want. Presumably most will go to McCain, but there may be some hard-core folks who want to vote for Huckabee, or Ron Paul--or maybe even Romney, just to make a point. I think it's gonna take a while to find out how many votes McCain will pick up. I don't think there's a "given" to it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Slyness-I see your point. Scotty posted a nuclear power video a while back wherein the wearing of hard hats by all the engineer types did make one wonder...shades of Homer Simpson.

Still and all, I think Cox manages to wear it without looking like a Village People tribute band member, and the LHC is still under construction.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

just a little valentine humour, loomis.

there is talk of a presidential pardon for clemmens already. could someone please tell me why? is the president going to pardon all the major sports figure that have messed up or is clemmens the only one? and if clemmens is the only one, can someone tell me why? if clemmens is saying that he didn't do anything wrong, why the pardon? what's being pardoned?

as you can see I don't get this. maybe I'm just stupid that way.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 14, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Here's the bottom of the story. See what you guys think:

"Before today's announcement, many experts in the field said that the danger of anyone being harmed by the falling satellite were extremely small, since it will explode when it plows into the atmosphere. The fuel, they said, was likely to just make the explosion greater when the craft began its final descent.


"Michael Crepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimpson Center, said today that the "stated rationale for this shoot-down is simply not credible." [which is what I thought, too]

"There has to be another reason behind this," he said. "In the history of the space age, there has not been a single human being who has been harmed by man-made objects falling from space."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The House has voted to hold Harriet Meirs and Josh Bolton in contempe of Congress. Finally.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

SCC: contempt. Contempe is some kind of modern chaise lounge.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

On the satellite question, I'm sure there are elements of "we don't want that thing falling into the Wrong Hands."

As a spysat, it may be well-shielded against Russian and Chinese anti-sat weapons, with a good chance that significant chunks could hit the ground.
Since it's a spysat, it's orbit would take it over Places of Interest - probably populated by folks we want to spy *on*. And whose hands we wouldn't want that hardware to fall into.

Now, if a hydrazine tank made it through the atmosphere and released/atomized/aerosoled the contents in a populated area, well, that stuff's pretty toxic.

If I were into conspiracy theories (ahem), one could suggest that would be a handy cover story for a game of orbital 'shooting a beercan off of the ranch fencepost.'


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, do you impute some ethnic/racial preference in who is pardoned and who is not? I gather you obliquely wish to remind us that Bonds is also suspected of steroid use.

I would remind you that only Clemmens is in the brine right now, and therefore the only one eligible (I use that term lightly) for commutation/pardon, etc. should he be indicted/convicted of anything.

Posted by: Yoki | February 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

dmd, thanks for the otter-cam link. They are such adorable creatures.

Bacon salt sounded redundant at first, but then I checked out the recipes. Did you notice that their startup $$ came from America's Funniest Home Videos?

Posted by: Raysmom | February 14, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, I don't recall posting such a video...

*checking my medicine cabinet for statins*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 14, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

jack.. do you have a contempe in your boudoir?

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I wouldn't take any rumors of a pardon for Clemens very seriously. I think it was just somebody running his mouth or having fun or something. I doubt Clemens' problems are even on Bush's radar screen.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I was the one that brought Bonds into the Clemens conversation.

Just pointing out that Barry's likely to be sitting in that same chair sometime soon.

Clemens may have made a mistake in Protesting too Much.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid there's bad bat news:;_ylt=AvdGHxpJzHyEEV7jVU5WkaFG2ocA
Check your nose before you're toast.

Posted by: KlayKey | February 14, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Please substitute "who" for "that" in my first sentence.

Fie upon me.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Bush would pardon Clemens because liars stick together. Perjury will be very hard to prove unless there is more evidence against him (Clemens, not Bush. There's tons of evidence against Bush).

Posted by: crc | February 14, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

bc, there's no way a tank of hydrazine is going to fall through the atmosphere without rupturing and/or exploding from heat.

If it is shielded against bad-guy anti-sat weapons, wouldn't it be shielded against our own as well? So hoe we gonna shoot it down? And why, since we don't like debris fields left up there?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm totally confused, but that's pretty normal on science issues. Didn't S'Tim say something about the bad stuff probably being isolated on the back, and maybe not blow the whole thing to smithereens? Keep going with this thought (it does in my head, anyway)...didn't Skylab fall into the ocean?

Off to do reading with Dear Child. Happy Valentine's Day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 14, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the smell of hydrazine in the morning!
Perfect trifecta of risk: highly corrosive, very flammable and very toxic. Unstable too: will decompose violently if heated. I would count hydrazine out of the risk of this puppy, there won't be any left at ground level. The shuttle, semi-protected by a shield of ceramic, did not cause serious damage over the zone it fell apart over.
Ditto for the Kosmos-whatever newcular satellite that fell over Canada years ago.
They really want to shoot that baby up.

Science Tim the Satellite Recycler! Kewl!

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 14, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

SkyLab fell in Australia and in the Indian Ocean. SkyLab was MUCH bigger.

If the spacecraft still has hydrazine on board, why can't they use it for a controlled de-orbit? That way, they can choose where it will dig into the atmosphere and crash down -- presumably into the Pacific. I concur that the stated rationale for a shoot-down does not hold water. This is a thin excuse to demonstrate technology, while pretending that it is cost-effective and safety-minded.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 14, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Clemens or Bonds, I wish Congress would knock off hearings like this. All they serve to do is 1) Allow our representatives to bloviate 2) Call attention to what we already know--that due to MLB's spinelessness, this was allowed to continue for years 3) Open the opportunity for their "guests" to perjure themselves and 4) Provide staffers with opportunities for neat photos and/or memorabilia.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 14, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Cinematic treatments of political conventions are few and far between. "The Best Man" with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson squaring off for the presidential nomination is probably the best of them. From a book by Gore Vidal.

Although not the focus of the film, the climax of "The Manchurian Candidate" does take place at a convention. And how Angela Lansbury was not awarded the Oscar for her performance as the political wife and mother from hell is still a mystery. She lost to Patty Duke as Helen Keller. Go figure.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 14, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Skylab fell on a small town in Western Australia...

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Oops... make that

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Happy Birthday, ebtnut! Mine is a couple of days from now, so Happy Birthday to me!

I was surprised by a card and a vase full of dark red and white roses - at the computer desk in my home office, which is where Mr Ml knew I would be first thing this morning. He's good about getting me something on Valentine's Day, but I think this is the first time he's gotten me roses. And I would always say that roses aren't my favorite - but these are bee-yoo-tiful. And it's a sunny day, to boot.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 14, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Cosmos satellite reached the ground in a solid lump, which was the hope. The Russians used a plutonium nuclear reactor to power those things. You REALLY did not want that satellite to break up, regardless of where the lump might fall. Canada, as it happened.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 14, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Cosmos 954 for further reading:

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 14, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, do you know if/how that thing's shielded?

I sure don't. Who knows what could burst at 40,000 ft, much less hit the ground? And as noted previously, hydrazine's bad stuff.

Again, if one were going to look at this from a slightly paranoid perspective, it's a handy cover story for *someone* to try out his new Orbital Red Ryder bb rifle. And he's *aiming* at one of his own eyes, rather than plucking it out.

And *Tim, this might be setting the stage for a full-on orbital War Game. That spy sat may have countermeasures, automated evasion systems, etc. They'd want to save that fuel for the wargame, so that the sat can run through it's manuvers.

They may blow it out of the sky in the end, but there may be a full-on test program that they'll run through first to evaluate the sat's performance.

After all, the Chinese have proven that they have the capability to do shoot-downs...

This is some *seriously* far-fetched speculation, though.

I honestly believe that Arbusto is concerned about the results of significant chunks of this thing surviving reentry (the mirror, for example would make some nasty slag), and he wants to mitigate the risk.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I caught a bit of the Pentagon briefing on the satellite shootdown plan.

They said the weapon of choice was a Standard missile, trying to hit the sat just prior to re-entry, when it would start tumbling and behaving non-ballistically. Yes 'Mudge and Don and bc and *Tim, I said a Standard missile, not an Extra-Special missile. Fired from a "mobile" platform. Wonder what that might be?


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 14, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

this is news on the internet, the pardon for clemmens. i believe clemmens' lawyer is laying this out.

yoki, there have been a number of people labeled as using steriods and drugs to enchance their performance, african-americans included, it just looks a little one-sided to talk about pardoning one man. don't you think?

would one be kind of jumping the gun to offer a pardon to someone that hasn't really been found guilty of a crime? my line of thinking calls this putting the wagon in front of the horse or something on that order. it just does not make sense to me.

how did this person avoid the courtroom? it doesn't matter if he's green, purple, or what, how do you do that?

Posted by: cassandra s | February 14, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Most largish naval platforms have Standards in their VLS. There are US navy ships all over the place. And someone wants to see if a Standard missile can bust up a satellite in orbit.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 14, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I donated over $500 to this campaign because I worry about my children's future. Please discuss this if possible.
"Community Organizer for President"

He was a community organizer in an inner city Chicago. Then he wrote a book. Then he ran unopposed for the local state senate. Then he ran unopposed for a vacant Illinois state senate. And now he wants to be the president of the United States of America

The country is drifting from its historic path to an uncharted territory. Eight more years of experimentations and ill-conceived judgments even with good intentions could find our beloved United States unrecognizable and hard to correct. He said that he can not manage the nation but will hire good people.

In these times of the whole world is competing for our economy, jobs and livelihood it is very critical to methodically evaluate your choices and have the vision for future consequences. You must have the sound judgment and experience or we will find our selves in the richest third world country. With experience and competence come good judgment not just contents. But he will hire good people around him he said.

In the last few weeks the United States Navy had a close encounters with Russians fighter jets and Iranian navy boats in the Strait of Hormuz. One can restart the cold war with a nuclear nation and the other could stop the flow of most of the world's petroleum that could send the world into an economic recession and ciaos. Do you want a community organizer that can hire good people to navigate this?

The president we elect have to decide between differing consultants. He or she has to make a decision that the future of our nation and our children depends on. We need a president who will make the correct choices and keep this country prosperous and free and great as it always been. Please don't make us choose between an inexperienced community organizer and an opponent who supports the wrong war.

Lets take our country back and keep it the way it has always been, Great, Prosperous, Free, Strong and the beacon for freedom and democracy. I recommend you support Hillary Clinton now to lead the United States of America.

Thank You

Posted by: toraad | February 14, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

ml, that's so great. A lot of people say, send the flowers to my office, so other people can see I got them. He put them by your computer so all your imaginary friends could find out about them...They look beautiful from here!

Posted by: kbertocci | February 14, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

There's a simple explanation for the desire to shot the spy satellite down: It's a target. Like an old t.v. sitting in the dump. Makes a cool noise when you shoot it with a .22, that's all.

Posted by: CowTown | February 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

TBG, your kosher link reminded me of today's "Zits" --

Posted by: kbertocci | February 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Nope, I still don't see a Front Page Alert anywhere... *scratching pointy lil' haid*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 14, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"Non Cookie Baker for President"

She was a non cookie baker in a small flyover state. Then she wrote a book. Then she ran for the senate from a state where she had no roots. And now she wants to be the president of the United States of America

The country is drifting from its historic path to half-baked territory. Eight more years of ungreased cookie sheets and uneven oven temps even with good intentions could find our beloved chocolate chips unrecognizable and hard to scrape up. She can not manage her husband's appetites but will hire good people.

The president we elect will have to decide between differing recipes. He or she has to make a decision that the future of our cookies and our children's cookies depends on. We need a president who will make the correct choices and keep this country prosperous and free and great as it always been. Please don't make us choose between an inexperienced non cookie baker and an opponent who supports artificial sweeteners.

toraad, it is I suppose possible that you wrote your own post and did not just cut and paste boilerplate campaign literature, and if that is the case then I congratulate you on a bright future in PR.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 14, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Not exactly on topic, but one of my favorite subjects is taken up in the New York Times:

Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

", Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that "too much learning can be a dangerous thing") and anti-rationalism ("the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion") have fused in a particularly insidious way.

"Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don't think it matters."

Posted by: kbertocci | February 14, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Sticking head up from cubicle, you would not believe what I'm doing today. I am shredding a bunch of personal papers that have accumulated in an unused drawer here. I figure its about 8 years of crap.

The thing is I am wearing a shawl with really long fringes. It only occurred to me that wearing a long fringed shawl was a very dumb thing to do in front of a shredder after I almost got caught. For a moment there I had visions of Whoopi Goldberg's shrinking dress in 'Jumpin Jack Flash'.

Back to the grind. Literally.

Posted by: dr | February 14, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, we already know a Standard can blow up a satellite--it's been done. Two months ago, the Japanese navy used one of their guided missile destroyers, the Kongo, to launch and shoot down a satellite using one of our Standards, a type known as the SM-3 Block 1A (also designated RIM-161B)--see

I'm guessing the Navy will want to do a ship-based launch, although an aircraft-based launch may be possible. We've tested them successfully before, going back to about 1988 when the Air Force launched on from an F-15. I don't know this for a fact, but I'd bet the Navy can launch one from an F-18.

I have a suspicion that's what is behind this: we have a satellite about to fall out of orbit anyway, so we've come up with an excuse to shoot it down to match the Japanese test two months ago and the Chinese shoot-down before that.

In theory, these Standards (more correctly, SM-3s) are anti-ballistic missiles-- but a satellite falling out of orbit is basically the same thing as a ballistic missile anyway. So here we have a real live target.

I think I'm probably in favor of shooting it down for target practice. I just wish they'd say so, but I guess there's the international repercussions aspect to worry about. I suspect we have to maintain this charade. Ah, well. You may fire when ready, Gridley.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Correction: the Kongo launch was against a target ballistic missile. But virtually the same thing as a de-orbiting satellite.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

One of my eyes is undilating faster than the other, and I'm in the midst of putting together Valentine's Day dinner. I did unwrap the box of Godiva chocolates that we got for 75 percent off on Dec. 26 at Dillard's. We've been looking at the ribbon-wrapped box on the kitchen hutch for almost two months--some days by me extremely longingly. We (and I) in particular won the battle against temptation for seven weeks--the box being opened on the day we agreed upon! There is just nothing better than slowly closing my eyes, letting the Godiva slowly dissolve over the top of my tongue and being at one, for as long as it lasts, with this nectar of the gods.

My husband did give me a rattlesnake for Valentine's Day, though. I'll explain soon (which of course will entail yet another story). *w*

I do see that I am really going to have to get into the Gomez (and Pope Ratzinger) story and how it impacted us folks standing in line for the Clinton rally, and what types of messages the protestors were holding up, as well as when and where. The Opus Dei link or connection goes back to my tussle locally trying to get local backing to go to see "The Da Vinci Code" movie (with Opus Dei in the story) in Cannes on my birthday--old Boodle stuff. Guess I'll have to put the Scottish terrier story from last night about Paris and Freddy on hold.

On another note, did see just one Ron Paul sign last night. Homemade signs for Hillary were not allowed inside. They had to be ditched or else they were confiscated like pocket knives. As I wrote last night, not eveyone who attended the rally could get inside since the arena seats only 3,800. So, as I was sitting in horrible traffic in the dark, just beyond the campus fence, I did see an Hispanic couple, either residents of the adjacent neighborhood or folks walking back to their car, since campus parking was maxed out, carrying a placard that read: "Hillary, Ready on Day Won." San Antonians have a lot of heart, but they don't necessarily take first place in spelling bees.

There is a fascinating summary of CPS Energy's (our local energy utility) wily ways very recently vis-a-vis the South Texas Project nuclear power plant, that appeared in today's paper. The reporter has done an excellent job today, just excellent.

So, tomorrow, perhaps I can cover both religion at the rally and provie a link to the eye-opening article about nuclear energy in Texas. For now, it's back to the kitchen.

Posted by: Loomis | February 14, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

ROFL, kbert.

Posted by: Loomis | February 14, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Couple of interesting articles from the end of the earth where people like to drop their space junk.

Aussies, Kiwis Take Mir Deorbit in Stride

Falling Satellite Misses Jet by Seconds

Posted by: kiwi | February 14, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it's best to keep lumps of intact plutonium out of the hands of those who mean us harm.

Posted by: Jumper | February 14, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

This is not a trustworthy site but it was interesting to ponder the "spacecraft" videos.

Posted by: Jumper | February 14, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE BATS!!!! yes, TBG was right (i backboodled a bit)

darn! i missed the bat boodle!!! i luv 'em soooo much - i think they are so adorable! I have a bat tattoo on my wrist and i'm trying to volunteer at the bat rehab center in annandale but i have to get a rabies vacination and they are very expensive - trying to find a place that will do it cheap or take my insurance (cuz my insurance says it's covered)

i almost didn't make it to the polls on tues! i left work early but it took me almost a hour to go 6 miles! i made it there 3 minutes before 7!!! i woulda been pissed if i had missed the most important primary in my history!

i think mcnamee is a big fat liar! and am pissed that he's accussing so many yankees! *frowny emoticon*

BAH HUMBUG on valentine's day - what a stupid day! (can you tell i don't have a valentine?)

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

also i got some beyoooooootiful fairy doors the other day that i had ordered for my niece and nephew... 'tooni, i hafta say you really do superb work! i LOVE them! and of course now have to order one for everyone i know... everyone i've showed them to has absolutely loved them!

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

*BIIIIG Valentines Day hug and a dozen imaginary black roses from the boodle for mo*

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Another college campus shooting, this time in Illinois. No fatalities reported. Already, public schools are looking like medium-security prisons. I suppose colleges will be next.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 14, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Nothing says Valentine's Day like Campbell's Soup owned, department store discounted chocolate.

Posted by: CC | February 14, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

*blush* thanks jack! i love black roses (but of course! sheesh i'm just to darn predictable!)

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, mo. We had this really cool antique rose called Reine de Violette, or somethng like that. the flowers were deep purple and easily mistaken for black from a distance. It was one of the many roses that didn't as I can't really grow stuff. I'd rater plant it and forget about it. If it makes it in our yard, I figure it's well adapted.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ...didn't make it...I'd rather...learn to type...

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

hi, mo! Bat rehab? No, don't tell me...

Finally got outside and attempted to take pictures of early crocuses and snowdrops. The roses are getting new growth, clematis too. I love spring (especially in winter) - so many surprises.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 14, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

*Sending Mo a few deep, dark purple tulips and white moonflowers to go with the black roses.*

No valentine for me either, Mo, and I'd like to see some flowers myself.

BTW, Wilbrodog's birthdate is uncertain-- but he's probably born somewhere between today and March 14 at anybody's best guess so happy 4 years to him today!

And K-guy-- brilliant.

BTW, if Obama's never run against opposition before (untrue), then he has a lighting-fast learning curve when it comes to campaigning for president.

And I'll take the risk. You can't fix problems at the same level of thinking that caused them in the first place. Al Einstein said that, you know?

And it's looking to me the more I think about how easily the country was nosedived, that the level of thinking wasn't ALL Bush's. Who had the bright idea of privatizing half of government and setting up the potential for Halliburton free-for-all in Iraq, big money for contractors that could be used to pay soliders better... and worse, letting them operate without regulation or legal protection for their own employees against RAPE by coworkers?

Bingo. The Clintons. RD disagrees with me on the value of private contracting out of government functions, and that's his right.

But it just sidestepped a problem that still hasn't been fixed-- being able to reallocate and fire government employees in a bureaucracy, and as we saw in Iraq, it can cause a nightmare. Also, the thing about businesses is that they sell to whoever buys.

Top-secret military technology just may wind up in civilian applications elsewhere, just because that's what they know how to make. If so, who're you going to try for treason?

So, I'm with Al Einstein. We need a change in how we think. All of us, not just the politicans.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 14, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

just got back in from math and reading. i had a new student today, a little five year old girl. at that age they still love school and want to learn. somewhere between there and high school it gets lost. her grandmother brought her and waited for her. it is so nice helping, it really is. if i had money i would pay the kids to come. and i know that's not a good way, but i do enjoy helping them.

slyness, finally got the hot water heater fixed. the guy had to replace the old one. he said it was wore out and old, and i said, aren't we all.

i'm not going to get my panties in a knot because of the sports thing. it's just not any fun to watch the games because you just don't know if the folks are juiced up or not. trying to stay young forever or trying to be super size. either way, where's the fun in that?

stallone, supposedly used the harmone for his new flick, not that he looks any better. that's just my opinion. did it help his acting any? that could be a good thing.

i am a meanie today. i don't know if it was the deal with the hot water or i'm just a pain today. maybe it's the sugar.

to bed for me. and don't think i can't hear the clapping all the way through the computer. she's gone, thank God.

have a good evening, my friends. sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 14, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Good night Cassandra. The evening is young. Reflection on love. Unconditonal love. That's the hard one.

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Little Bean got a "Spongebob Squarepants" Sudoku book from the book fair at her school today. I was smart enough to teach her the rules and managed to help her solve the first puzzle. But apparently, the brain cells required to solve the non-gimmee puzzles were lost at a Flock of Seagulls concert I semi-remember from 1983 or so.

So I've been out-Sudokued by an almost six year old.

I don't know whether to be proud of this or not.

Posted by: martooni | February 14, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry S'nuke, must have been another pointy haided science type who posted that nuclear power plant video.

True bat rescue story- When I was teaching near Manassas one of my coworkers noticed a bat hanging on a wall, in the very hot sun, about 2 ft off the sidewalk by our building's side door. This seemed like such strange behavior we called the Va. wildlife rehab center down by Waynesboro. They put us in touch with the local rescue folks who recommended bringing the bat to them in a large cardboard box. This did not seem too hazardous since the bat appeared immobile. I was volunteered to capture the bat and drive it to the local rescue volunteer. (Best health insurance I guess.) All went surprisingly well and I left school with a big box and tiny bat in the back of my Geo Tracker. About 1 mile into the trip the box started hopping around the back of the vehicle. I pulled over, opened the back of the Tracker, and when I began to adjust the flaps on the box I learned the true meaning of "bat out of he11" speed. It was out of the box and off to the tree line before I could be afraid it would bite me. I like to think it lived to a ripe old bat age.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Go, Little Bean! Yeah, Martooni, having raised a sudoku prodigy sure seems fatherly-pride worthy to me.

Posted by: bia | February 14, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

jack - i kill plants as well...

bat rehab - nursing hurt bats back to health - not hurt in the "i'm going on a britney spears bing" hurt as in "oi, that cat really took a big chunk out of my tushie!"

bat tushies... *snicker*


(aristotle just had his 3rd birthday)

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, rest well, and welcome to the Grumpy Non-sports Fan Club.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 14, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Scary stuff going on here tonight... my four-year-old nephew was taken to the hospital this afternoon after having a seizure. Not sure if it's as simple as a febrile seizure or somthing else. So far, he's stable, all vitals are fine and the CT scan shows nothing unusual.

My sister and her family live down the street from me. I was driving home from work and saw two ambulances turn into my neighborhood. When I got to my house and saw they had stopped in front of my sister's, five houses down, I kept on driving down the street. That's when I realized she was in her car, driving in front of me. In fact, she had pulled over to let the ambulance by.

She immediately jumped out of the car and asked the EMT standing outside what was going on. When he said, "An unresponsive four-year-old," she raced into the house. I stayed outside with her nine-year-old until we could figure out what was going on. Big brother is here with us now and will spend the night.

Sister keeps calling with updates and I'm staying calm, as I've got my nephew here to keep safe and worry-free. He's done his homework and has taken a shower and seems very happy to watch "How It's Made" with me here.

They're moving the little one into pediatric ICU. My sister and her husband will stay as long as they can, I guess. I'm available to switch places with my brother-in-law if he wants to come home. My sister sounds better and better with each phone call.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Yikes! That was me at 8:44 about my nephew. Sorry.


Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge I didn't kwew about the Kongo lauch. It's very cool the nippon navy got the first hit on that technology. The US Navy announced they will launch from a Tiki I believe. Nice. I participated in the fitting of Standards and Harpoons on ships too small from them, the city class. Let's just say there was lots of scorched paint upon launch. Launching harpoons athwartship has become standard practice though for small tin cans, so we got something right. Launching big chopper or big missiles from small platforms has become a signature of the Sea element of the Canadian (unharmed) Forces. The other Elements are Dirt and Air, of course.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 14, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

OMG TBG! i thought is was you cuz i know your sister lives right near you! i hope the little tyke is ok! scary indeed!!!!

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

TBG, sending good thoughts your way.

Posted by: dmd | February 14, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

TBG, it's so scary to see an ambulance at a home you know well. I hope he is fine in the morning!

Posted by: Slyness | February 14, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

TBG-big huggggggs! Hope he's right as rain by morning.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Hope he remains right as rain while they get to a diagnosis.

I spent a night in the ER with a friend having her first grand mal seizure, and it sure isn't fun at all; we had to wait until 6 AM for a MRI after being admitted shortly before midnight.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 14, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

TBG, May your nephew gets well as time pass by through the night.

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 14, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

A little miracle story for a 65-year old woman who doctors thought was brain-dead.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 14, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Likewise, TBG. I'll keep him and your family in my thoughts.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

TBG, my thoughts are with your nephew, your sister, and the rest of your family.

And you, dearie.

Know that we're all sending good thoughts your way.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but I just can't resist certain bad puns: Stamp collecting is a fine hobby, just don't presume that you can make a living at it. After all, philately will get you nowhere.

And in honor of Tom Lehrer (and Weingarten's chat):

Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?
I have a hobby, re-reading "Lady Chatterly"!

Posted by: pj | February 14, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

BTW, TBG, we don't have a contempe chaise lounge in the boudoir, just this cool little love seat that I had to repair after it took flight from the bed of our truck en route to home on the interstate. How's that for a run on? A dutchman's patch, some wood glue and some fasteners, and it's ready for love.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

About a decade ago, I was at a corner, waiting for the "walk" signal. A man next to me started to make the first step and immediately crumpled. Being Portland, his eyeglasses were found and the ambulance arrived in a couple of minutes. Perhaps a seizure.

The closest I've come to that was finding myself similarly crumpled on the bathroom floor, with a fresh hole in the door just above me. Almost certainly just fainting due to dehydration, but nevertheless scary.

So TBG, best wishes to your nephew.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 14, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Yikes, TBG! That's a scary scene. I'm thinking of you, your nephew, and all your family.

Posted by: pj | February 14, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

bc: This is one of my favourite cars. My first car was a '64 no post 4 door Impala. $175.00.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, TBG, I am so glad you are with the home-bound brother. And, your family is relieved about that.

Seizures are terrifying by themselves and I don't recommend all the web reading out there just now. All the boys in my family growing up had febrile seizures, even without a fever....I know that sounds odd, but any virus, even without a detectable fever can trigger one. CPBoy had them, too. Many seizures in children under six are idiopathic -- weird but no clear origin. I hope this counters, one iota, that fear net of information out there. Remember, the web is always constructed of the worst case scenarios.

Having said that, I am so sorry. Apply Disney or The Most Extreme episodes as needed for at-home boy. You? Whatever works. Martooni, send her some sudoku pages, toot sweet and forth wit and post haste, etc.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 14, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

TBG, hang in there. So sad when it's a little one having problems that neither they nor we can really understand. I'm sure you have access to the doctors who do understand and will be able to help. All best thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Posted by: kbertocci | February 14, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that is a scary thing, especially for your sister, coming home to ambulances. Hope the little guy is ok. Sounds like he's getting good care.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 14, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

What CeePee said, kids are weirder and tougher than they look.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 14, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my dear TBG, how scary. I'm so sorry that you and your family have to go through that. Thank God you have such a close and loving family. I'm sure that it's a febrile seizure, but that doesn't take away the horror and fear. Stay strong and hopeful.

Much love.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 14, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks friends. Your words and support really mean a lot to me. It's funny how we turn here for support, I guess because we know we'll get so much of it. CP, especially, it's nice to hear the good stories... like you said there are so many scary ones out there.

The little boy is doing fine. He's awake and breathing on his own. They think it was from his fever and ear infection--nothing more serious than that. His mom is OK. Dad came by and got big brother just now and took him home.


Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

bat tushies

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear things are improving, TBG.

I'm breathing a little easier myself.


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

ok - REALLY bad timing on the bat tushies!

i'm very relieved for ya my tbg!

Posted by: mo | February 14, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Great news, TBG. Now get some sleep.

'Night Boodle. (We have to talk about "Lost" tomorrow.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 14, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

TBG, you know the little guy is in my prayers.

The daughter of one of our engineers, sweet little apple cheeked Clare, went through something very similiar this week, poor kiddie. Her very worried and tired papa says she sure seems none the worse for wear. I wish I could say the same for her mama and papa.

May morning bring good news to all of you, TBG. Rest well little fella, stay strong.

Posted by: dr | February 14, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I am delighted to see that while I was posting my wishes, you were posting the much cheerier news. Good thing kids are tough.

Posted by: dr | February 14, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Nuthin' wrong with bat tushies, mo. Gotta love 'em.

Posted by: TBG | February 14, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh Joel, there's a few stories to be done on science yet... like this one:

As a matter of fact, science meets politics once in a while. LA just passed a mandatory spay and neuter (against all common sense), and now HSUS will be trying to lobby Congress to convince this was a widely supported idea.

It wasn't; before the L.A. shelter website took down their informal poll, it was roughly 89% against, 11% for. People who don't give a *(^*&^ won't change their ways just because a law was passed.

So what are you going to do, arrest or fine people for having intact dogs? Where do those dogs go while their owners are in prison or decide they're too broke to pay for neutering?
Yeah, shelter intake will go up. Happened in L.A. county, will happen in L.A. itself, and L.A. is already a very high-kill, mismanaged shelter system.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 14, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

My best to those pips in Northern Illinois U. What a mess.
Guns or bullets don't kill people, it's the trauma to brain, chests or femoral arteries that does it.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 14, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Joel, meant to add that you may want to look closely at "sustainabiity" in the first para of the Kit.

I think you meant "sustainability,"

I also meant to add earlier that if they *did* find the Higgs boson before the election (unlikely, as you know better than most), we'd know how massive Obamamania could become. Or at least how massive within the Standard Model, anyway (talk about a glass ceiling!).


Posted by: bc | February 14, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

tbg, glad to hear your nephew is ok.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 14, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Just so you know bc, the glass ceilings in my world have a doily on top.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: dr | February 14, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

The half-point letters -- i, l, t, and so on -- are murder. Thanks for that catch.

TBG I'm glad he's doing better. Very scary in the meantime.

I am in fabulous, exotic Waco, Texas, and will try to post a few photos tomorrow.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 14, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

How did we miss this news, and some adorable pictures, of baby bat rescue.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel, make sure you listen to 99.9 WACO. If not the only, it is one of a very few radio stations west of the Mississippi that does not follow the call letter convention that calls for a K as the first letter. (I hope I haven't revealed just how boring my "bucket list" is.)

Posted by: frostbitten | February 14, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

A tune about outlaw radio that I can't shake right now:

Do you remember
back in nineteen sixty-six?
Country Jesus, hillbilly blues,
that's where I learned my licks.
Oh, from coast to coast and line to line
in every county there,
I'm talkin' 'bout that outlaw X
that was cuttin' through the air.

Anywhere, y'all,
everywhere, y'all,
I heard it, I heard it,
I heard it on the X.

We can all thank Doctor B
who stepped across the line.
With lots of watts he took control,
the first one of its kind.
So listen to your radio
most each and every night
'cause if you don't I'm sure you won't
get to feeling right.

Anywhere, y'all,
everywhere, y'all,
I heard it, I heard it,
I heard it on the X.

- Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill & Frank Beard

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to hear that your nephew is doing better, TBG. I had one of my friends and his family over for dinner one night and their toddler had a febrile seizure during the meal. Very scary. After his body temperature came down, he was checked over and discharged from the hospital in much the same disposition as he arrived at my house earlier that evening. The young man has since graduated college and is making his way in the world.

Posted by: jack | February 14, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the author of that SF Examiner story on animal-rights activists discloses that her husband is researching a book on the subject--at the somewhat nutty Discovery Institute.

The attractive new building housing the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture replaces the building burned by a clueless anti-genetic modification group.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 15, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Today's issue of Science unveiled a global map of human impacts on the oceans. Here's the project's website at the University of California, Santa Barbara:

While poking around, I found their link to the UNEP for info on the world's mangroves.

I had wondered whether the mangrove forests at the south tip of Florida are really the most extensive in the hemisphere, or whether that was simply a statement someone had made--and got quoted until it turned into "fact" (I'd failed to find info with Google searches). Anyway, here's the interactive map viewer:

Short answer: Florida, Andros,and Cuba have plenty of mangroves.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 15, 2008 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Dave, this is San Francisco... nutty is a very, very, relative word in California to start with, never mind San Francisco.

And yes, there have been attacks on scientists by animal rights terrorists. That part isn't too nutty.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 15, 2008 2:19 AM | Report abuse

TBG! Oh, no! Oh, good!

Hope all continues well with your nephew.

I'm sure DoTBG expanded her new, improved family graciously. :-)

Posted by: dbG | February 15, 2008 4:25 AM | Report abuse

good morning, friends. tbg, i read the first part and my throat got dry, but so glad that your nephew is doing better. you know my prayers are directed at you and your family. please keep us updated.

glad to hear from you mo, and love the bat stories. i find bats creepy, but to each his own.

while looking at pbs this morning i discovered that i belong to the underclass in society. that's what i get for watching educational television. a real bummer early in the morning. of course, i know how close i am to living on the street. this particular piece was describing social class in america, and highlighting the opportunities available to those in each class, of course, very few for the under class. i fit into the under class, what class might be you?

mudge, martooni, slyness, scotty, good, good, morning to you, and all.*waving*

the laundry room is calling this morning. i said i was not going back, leaving that job for someone else, but hey, the someone else doesn't get it. i can't stand it any longer.

have a great day, folks. you can do that, and you don't need permission. i hope the kids are okay at the university, that was horrible. our children suffer so much violence in this country in some form or other.

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

Posted by: cassandra s | February 15, 2008 5:47 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I believe there are different kinds of poverty. When Jesus said it would be hard for rich people to go to heaven, he was recognizing that a lack of money can be a kind of blessing. Spiritual or intellectual poverty, that's different, and that is truly tragic. You don't suffer from either of those. When I say that being poor can be an advantage, I can't help remembering Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevya acknowledges that wealth can be like an affliction, and then prays, "May God smite me with it! and may I never recover!"

I guess I would say, "God can get you through times with no money better than money can get you through times with no God."

And now, I'm off to the salt mines for another day. Have a good one!

Posted by: kbertocci | February 15, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

A beautiful morning with salmon-pink clouds, and a feel of spring in the air.


Posted by: bc | February 15, 2008 7:17 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I'm very glad to hear the tyke is doing well! *HUGS* :-)

And now a semi-random rant...

Anyone seen the ridiculous "Greatest Highlight" segments on ESPN the past few days? The idea of a popularity contest for memorable highlights is fine, but the execution STINKS!! (hi LoneMule!) Blowhard Berman gives the situation for each clip, but then they NEVER PLAY THE ACCOMPANYING AUDIO!!! I mean really, could the bare video of Kirk Gibson's hobble-off homer against Eckersly ever be complete with out the "I DON'T... BELIEVE... WHAT I JUST SAW!!" call??? Or could Larry Bird's interception of the Pistons inbound pass be the same without Johnny Most's sawpaper-like "BIRD STOLE THE BALL! BIRD STOLE THE BALL!!" scream??? Of course, I hate the whole thing because Hank Aaron's record-breaking homer beat out Fisk's iconic "wave it fair" homer in the '75 series. I mean, Aaron set a milestone, but for pure drama and emotion, how can you ignore Fisk bouncing down the first base line???

*end-of-rant-onna-far-crazier-than-usual-Friday Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 15, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle,
Back boodling. only got 6/20 on the VD quiz. Doesn't bode well for me. TBG, glad the young'en is doing well. My dad, a career Air Force pilot, used to call all the "Star Wars" type research, the Great Boondoggle In The Sky. I think mostly out of sour grapes since none of those missiles need pilots.

I'm in Atlanta this weekend trying to indoctrinate my son one last time. Looking for restaurant recc'sof all price levels. We have a few meals with the kid, but may want to sneak in a romantic dinner out on Sunday.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 15, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Three inches of fresh snow on the ground, like we really needed that. Someone on CBC yesterday was talking about a snow fatigue setting in Eastern Canada. Paint me snow tired allright.
Grey morning and grey news on the front pages, n'est-ce-pas?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 15, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

TBG, so glad your nephew is ok, how scary that must have been for all of you.
Kbertocci, very well said. S'nuke, didn't see the segment you are referring to but from your description, I can agree with your opinion, especially about Fisk's homer. A lot of those 'greatest whatever' things are poorly done and faultily (a word?) reasoned.

TGIF, a hard week at work. They fired someone who wasn't doing her job, after quite a few warnings. Some of the work she left behind has to be almost completely redone and quickly as the report is due to be sent to the proper government authorities. On top of which a lot of other reports are due as well. I face a small mountain of papers to be organized into reports and sent on their way today. I will be very happy to have three days to recover. Happy Friday to all.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 15, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks... always hard when someone doesn't pull his or her weight. But think of it as an opportunity now to shine! They can only realize how incredibly valuable you are and they'll be so glad again that they hired you.

Thanks for all your kind words and good cheer. Waiting for a while to call my sister. Her husband said the boy is still sleeping so I don't want to wake him up. She apparently got a couple of hours of sleep; she's in a "pull-out chair" in the room with him.

Posted by: TBG | February 15, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

TBG - so happy to hear your nephew is better. I hope he will be like my son after a terrifying trip to the ER during a croup episode when he was 4. After several hours of treatment he was released. His father and I were absolutely wrung out but as we walked out a little voice chirped, "Are there any eating places around here?" The resiliency of youth!

We had the same lovely salmon pink clouds down here, bc. It would have been a lovely morning, except there are a couple of brush fires in the area that are making the air smelly and hazy.

Mudge - We thought it was a great Lost episode. I'll be anxious to hear what you thought. Criminy, I was shocked Sayeed whacked that guy.

hmmm, bats. I can't help it, they scare me!

Posted by: Kim | February 15, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.

TBG, glad things are looking up. Those pull-out chairs are surprisingly not bad for spending a mostly-sleepness night in. Please give an extra hug and kiss to the one who stayed with you...poor child must not know which way is up.

About the satellite conversation seems to me that in the past, they haven't been able to really pinpoint where these things land. Any chance they want to blow it up so that no one else can pick up the debris, get their hands on some good spy technology? Or is it all just showboating?

Changing locals this afternoon, so a morning of packing and quick errands before I leave. Have a great day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 15, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

From yesterday's business section in our paper, as I promised, an article by Dave Hendricks, titled, "Alarm bells should be ringing over nuke project"--by the way, going nudist may no longer be an option, but a necesity, if utility bills go much higher, especially in the summers here:

The recommendation that Austin not join as a partner in the South Texas Project nuclear plant expansion should ring alarm bells.

So should the way CPS Energy [our local energy utility] is providing information to San Antonians in a series of poorly attended open houses.

San Antonio's utility currently is positioned to own half of the $6 billion-plus expansion planned for completion in 2015-16 near Bay City.

Austin's City Council is voting tonight on a recommendation by Austin Energy to not invest in the construction of the third and fourth units of the nuclear plant. The capital city and its utility own a 16 percent interest in the first and second units.

An Austin Energy consultant has told the city that the new units would cost $1 billion more and construction would last two years more than projected by CPS and its partner, NRG Energy Inc.

News articles this week about the recommendation have the same tone as articles 30 years ago when Austin became nervous about its participation in the first two units. Costs were escalating out of control as permitting and construction fell eight years behind schedule. ...

CPS executives already are admitting that the initial $6 billion price tag for the expansion will be low. How much higher can it go? What is a realistic completion date? What will it mean for future electricity rates?

It is too early to say, CPS says, even as the utility holds public information sessions at four San Antonio sites.

If alarm bells are ringing, no one is hearing them.

Only about 20 people attended the CPS energy-future open house Tuesday evening on the Northeast Side after the location was switched four days earlier. Somehow, media alerts issued by CPS were not successful.

The open-house formats are of dubious value anyway. CPS offers exhibits with information about its future alternatives, and executives are available to discuss the issues with visitors. Visitors also can fill out comment cards.

CPS trustees do not attend the open houses, although they can see the comment cards later. CPS spokeswoman Theresa Brown Cortez said the utility prefers to let customers visit with executives one on one instead of at public forums that invite disruption or protests.

The public, however, deserves to know the questions other people ask and the answers. CPS ought to put the comment cards on its Internet site,, along with the best answers the utility can give. ...

San Antonio, Austin and the other initial South Texas Project partners went through extended torture with the nuclear plant's first phase. CPS and NRG Energy should avoid the past mistakes of underestimating costs and construction time.

The best way is an open, honest and transparent planning process.

LL: The op-ed section in today's local paper has a special section dvoted to Archbishop Gomez. There were three letters (e-mails, most likely) from readers supporting Gomez's stance opposing the Clinton rally and two letters opposing the Archbishop's stance. Of those who opposed the Archbishop speaking out, one asked the very important question of what did the Archbishop know about the rally and WHEN did he know it, considering the timing of his comments on Wednesday morning. A good question for some enterprising journalist with access to the Archbishop, I think.

We happen to be heading out to breakfast this morning, so I'll tackle the St. Mary's rally when I return.

Posted by: Loomis | February 15, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Hey, Cassandra, thanks for your comments this morning. At least in this place, you are rich with friends.

I'm back from the walk. It was a cool morning but not so cold that my hands hurt. Yes, spring will be here one day soon!

Kim, LOL, yes, children are resilient, thank heavens! I'm glad the nephew is doing well, TBG. I hope his mother recovers soon, also.

Third daughter comes for lunch today. She is now 31 weeks pregnant, but I really don't think she's gonna make 40. The baby boys are taking up too much room already! I'm looking forward to hearing how their dad did in breastfeeding class Wednesday night. My job is to keep peace and the in-laws from driving them crazy when she goes to the hospital. We will talk strategy and tactics over lunch.

Posted by: Slyness | February 15, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Ah... the sweetness of a fresh, sunny morning... I was looking on my back deck at a plump, bright robin. Spring is here!

"Sweet..." I thought... and then he pooped on my deck.

Posted by: TBG | February 15, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

-31F grumbly wish I didn't have to drive to "town" today greetings. The forecast says we can expect +33 tomorrow with a good chance of a wintry mix of precip. That's even worse than -31.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 15, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, re: your 08:53. As both of my daughters were born and raised, I was a very involved dad. By most accounts, I was a pretty good one, too. But the breastfeeding thing, not so much. I just could *not* get the hang of it. :>)

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 15, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Here's a chance for you to ask your questions about the spy satellite... and the discovery of two new planets...

Posted by: TBG | February 15, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

LOL, Don. I didn't get why fathers had to be there, so I'm looking forward to the account.

Posted by: Slyness | February 15, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

TBG, Good to hear the tyke is doing better and hopefully better still. Your 8:54 shows your spirits are in fine form.

My gripe today is I work with a bunch of incompetents. Had a problem a year ago on our side that was promptly fixed within a week, our colleagues in another office are scrambling to figure out how to fix it on their end now. Yes, that's right A YEAR LATER.

Turns out they've been researching a separate unrelated problem that occurred in August that has already been fixed and resolved. Within a day on our end and another day on theirs.

Over half the people in the sister office working on this year old problem are off on vacation till the middle of next week.

I clearly deserve a raise AND a bonus for putting up with this CR@P.

Posted by: omni | February 15, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Kim, I thought it was a very good episode of "Lost," too. And no, I couldn't believe what Sayid was doing, either. At first I assumed he was "free-lancing" and going around getting revenge on Dharma leaders. And I knew he was gonna have to kill the German lady sooner or later. But I didn't expect her to trap him -- nor did I expect the big shocker at the end when we learned who Sayid was working for; I'm not happy about *that* at all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. I'm once again a Johnny-come-philately, alas, and once again missed lots of good conversation.

TBG, I'm glad everything seems to have worked out with your nephew.

kurosawaguy, thanks for that brilliant PR for the non-cookie baker.

I bet the gummit could raise some big money if they'd open up that opportunity to shoot down the broken satellite. Not to contractors, but to rich people. It is a whole new perspective on being "green". In fact, you could get rid of a lot of space debris that way: "Pay big $$$ to use one of our missiles, shoot down some trash. Have fun and clean up space!" I bet corporations would pay to use it for team-building exercise, and fancy board retreats.

I'm surprised there's any surprise over the S.A. Archbishop's comments. I worked for Catholic dioceses for a long time, and I was really startled to read that Hillary Clinton would be speaking at St. Mary's. Most Catholic universities don't have that much freedom regarding speakers. The Archbishop's job is to comment on things like use of church property and whether they comport with church policy. It is what he does. No reflection on Clinton.

Cassandra, sorry about that "underclass" thing. Whether it means much or not, not a happy thing to see first thing in the morning.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 15, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Before launching into the Archbishop Gomez material, I wanted to preface it with something I pulled from my Aaron Brown file, dated Feb. 1, 2002, giving the most relevant paragraphs since it's long:

Congratulations on your broadcast/CNN's coup in acquiring the unaired al Jazeera video of the Usama bin Laden interview, but that's not what's nagging my conscience today. Rather, it's your coverage last night of how the federal prenatal plan is sparking debate over "the unborn child."

In trying to develop my sensibilities as a writer, one book had a tremendous impact on me, and that was "Writing a Woman's Life," but I won't be able to cite the author's name today because this slim publication is among a fairly large number of books that are still packed up as a result of our cross-country move that commenced on Sept. 11. In short, the book says, and I too believe, that nothing is more authentic than being able to write from experience.

(I explain I have a rare genetic disorder and talk about the loss of my three.)

So, when people ask me how many children I have, as curious, friendly people invariably do, I say "Three," but then I quickly add "but I lost all three of them from my womb." And, when we have sat down at extended family dinners in Southern California, I, with my own losses sharply in mind, always think there is one person missing at the table, the viable child that my sister chose to terminate sometime in her 20s.

(I talk about my nephew and the fact that he had a blood test in the past week [Jan. 2002] that showed high blood calcium and the possibility that he may have the genetic disorder, too.)

The emotional pain of losing all your children before their births is tremendous. I have but one photo, taken at 14 weeks, before the D&C. It is a very grainy black and white that shows the perfect skeletal structure of my first child. I can see no features of my unnamed child, just the ever so tiny bones. And every year, I somehow have to cope with Mother's Day and Christmas, which celebrate the birth of a child. I never got far enough along in my pregnancies to feel the first kick of a baby inside, but for all intents and purposes I consider myself a mother.

I bear these tragedies, and the oh-so-painful emotions of losing children, even though the situations were beyond my control. But I still defend a woman's right to choose, to cover up for a youthful indiscretion, an untimely accident, a case of horribly bad judgment. I live with my "accidents of fate" every day. How must it be for a woman to live with herself, knowing that she purposely chose to jettison her child, that she chose to abort her baby?

But I respect a woman's ability to choose, because it is a decision she will have to live with many times in the middle of many nights, a decision she will have to wrestle with for decades. Without question, it must be a painful decision, a gut-wrenching choice, far more difficult than the pain of my own circumstances. The responsibility is ours to teach our daughters [and sons] to make far better choices, to make wiser decisions, before having to make the decision to give up a child within.

Posted by: Loomis | February 15, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Alan Abramowitz has interesting things to say about the campaigns-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

kbert, you did express that quite well, and thanks a bunch.

ivansmom, it is what it is. I knew that before I looked at the pbs piece. one can hardly live the way I do and not have an inkling of what is going on. but I am not alone, for there are many like me, and the best thing about being me is that God knows where I am, as He knows where we all are. And He does keep me, and it is so much more than I can imagine. Thanks you, Sweet Jesus.

thanks to you too, ivansmom and slyness.
And it is nice to have you guys for friends.

I'm going to have to go back and read about shooting down the spy rocket. That does not sound good. Won't there be debris all over the place?

Posted by: cassandra s | February 15, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Boodle sleepy today. Me, too.

Oh, Memo to self: don't go to work Monday. It's a fed holiday.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Let's just start with the handout I received late afternoon at St. Mary's first. Then I'll make comments, give my opinion in another post.

For the record, two people were trying to pass out this 5.5 x 8.5 inch flier to every person in line. Given the size of the paper, and the amount of text on it, the text is about 8 pt. type.

I declined the offer to take one, but an Hispanic woman with two daughters in front of me in the line did. Once she had started to read it, she wanted to get rid of it, which made me curious, so I asked to see what she had been handed and had accepted, then I skimmed it, decided to keep it, and tucked it inside and next to the back flap of the Berstein Clinton biography I had been carrying. *silly me, I though I might be seated for hours and have the opportunity to read*

I also want to add that while in line, I had not heard or seen the morning's local news informing the public that Gomez had made a statement about Clinton's appearance at St. Mary's.

Department of Communication
Archdiocese of San Antonio
Official Statement
February 12, 2008

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, with the support of Bishop Patrick J. Zurek and Bishop Thomas J. Flanagan (retired) issued a statement in response to the appearance of Senator Hillary Clinton at St. Mary's University.

[boldface] Statement concerning the appearance of Senator Hillary Clinton at St. Mary's University.

I was surprised to learn [when?] of Senator Hillary Clinton's appearance at St. Mary's University. I was neither advised nor consulted by the university before the decision was made to have Senator Clinton speak at the University. Catholic institutions are obliged to teach and promote Catholic values in all instances. This is especially important when people look to our Catholic universities and colleges to provide leadership and clarity to the often complicating and confusing political discourse.

It is clear that the records of Senator Clinton and some of the other candidates for president on important life issues are not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

It is not my intention to tell people for whom to vote. However, I encourage Catholics to undertand the teachings of the Church on the broad spectrum of public issues [one op-ed letter against Gomez in today's paper questioned the wisdom of one-issue voters] that are of great concern today. I urge the faculty and the ministry staff at St. Mary's University to continue to carry out their responsibility to educate their students in their political duty in accordance withthe teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic bishops of the United States, in their 2004 "Catholics in Political Life", affirmed that when dealing with political candidates and public office holders, "The Catjolic comunity and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance [???] of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would sugest support for their actions."

In a statement distributed by St. Mary's University, they [I assume this to mean administrators or officials] wrote," As a Catholic tax-exempt university, St. Mary's does not endorse political candidates or their positions on issues and acknowledges the fundamental differences betweenthose of the presidential candidates and the Catholic Church."

Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the Church calls "an unspeakable crime" and a non-negotiable issue.

Deacon Pat Rodgers, 210-734-1610 or 210-260-0044,

Reverse side of the flier [The Pope's statement to come]:

Posted by: Loomis | February 15, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, St. Mary's university is run by an "Order" and not under the direct control of the Archbishop.

Posted by: dmd | February 15, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I notice that the "Mighty Appetite" blog by O'Donnel is all about beans today.

I subscribe to the pressure cooker theory. Reminds me of autoclaves, not to mention the "time, pressure, heat" that's so important in geology. Looks like some beans take geological time to cook.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 15, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The reverse side of the flier distributed at St. Mary's University late Tuesday afternoon:

"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel and aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. [boldface, next] Ther may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."

--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, July 2004 (Pope Benedict XVI)

Some religious seal with a clamshell on it...

You cannot form your conscience properly based on popular opinion or feeling or an article in some news magazine, but only from the Scripture and the teaching of the church. [Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Reports, you hear that? Might as well fold up and send your staffs home. *l*] If your personal belief or feeling is different from the Church, then it is your personal belief of feeling that needs to change--not the Church's.

It is not a matter of one opinion versus another opinion. As the Catechism states inits section on abortion, when the unborn are not protected, the "very foundations of a state based on law are undermined." (CCC, 2273) Life is [boldface] "the issue," [unboldface] because evey other right is dependent on it. Understand that this is simply not one bishop's opinion [Do you think the bishops have the right to diversity of opinion on this?], but it is the truth as revealed to us through the Church founded by Christ. Certainly, each individual conscience has rights, but it also had duties, and one of the primary duties is to inform our conscience through the teaching of the Church.

The right judgment of conscience is not a matter of personal preference nor has it anything to do with feelings. It has only to do with objective truth. "Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-informed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensible for human beings who are subjected to negative influence [those pesky news magazines!!!] and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to resist authoritative teachings." (CCC,1783) [Where would art and science be today or through the ages if artists and scientists followed authoritative teachings?]

Posted by: Loomis | February 15, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

[*pops head up from under a pile of fresh sawdust*]

Today's Friday?


I think that used to mean something before I started working for myself.

[*sinks back into the sawdust trying to locate the still-burning cigarette he dropped*]

Posted by: martooni | February 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Linda Loo, your 10:15 was poignant. Thank you.

Posted by: CowTown | February 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Joel-did you see this?

Jennifer Oullette on bloggingheadstv talking about science journalism

Posted by: frostbitten | February 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Yes, dmd, St. Mary's University is Marianist--based on Mary. The retired Marianist Father Willett, 82, stood with our group (strangers to each other when we arrived) for a long while until just before we headed inside. Willett was far back in line and walked to the line's front, wondering if he would or could get in. We struck up a conversation with him once he stopped beside us.

He pointed out the building just across the street where he used to live, now he lives next to the cemetery on campus. He talked about his life, starting out in Wisconsin, long years in St. Louis, and then on to the Valley in South Texas, with a few other stops in between these major years of service.

The issue that will most influence his vote, I asked? Not abortion, the big brouhaha of the day, but the lives of the working poor, which he observed firsthand in his work in the Valley before he retired, as well as today's shrinking middle class, he said.

We, the 80-year-old woman who brought her daughter-in-law to the rally and gave me a bottle of water that I desperately sought, the gay couple directly behind me, and I invited Father Willett to join us in line and enter the arena. He declined, saying it wouldn't be fair. (It is these others and a few others that I should most talk about, these folks with whom I became acquainted over the course of two hours, their issues, their concerns.)

I will say that I have gone to so many campuses over the years in San Antonio to hear speakers--brown, black, gay, women, native, world leaders, authors--who spoke about a variety of subject matters. My curiosity about these leaders or their subject matters has taken me to University of Texas, San Antonio (the main campus nearby, not the satellite campus downtown), San Antonio College (junior college), Trinity University (Presbyterian), and the other Catholic campuses in town--St. Philips, Our Lady of the Lake University, University of the Incarnate Word. Butr never, NEVER, while standing in line or entering one of these campus buildings, was I so squarely accosted by religion as I was Tuesday night. The message to the campus, as contained in those fliers, was not particularly welcoming, as I acknowledge the fliers were not issued by the school, but by Gomez anf the Cathlic church. I have never had this type of incident occur while on the Presbyterian campus, thank goodness.

The other protestors were those who decided to show pictures of abortions. One scurried quickly beside us as we stood in line. When I left the campus' main gate after the rally, they were out in some number at the main gate, actively shaking and waving their signs at passing motorists.

What I did see that caught my attention far more were the variety of signs--with a variety of messages--in support of Hillary, that were not, unfortunately, allowed inside, as I have already mentioned.

Posted by: Loomis | February 15, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Interesting and eloquent posts Loomis. (and heartbreaking)

What you are speaking of is one of the reasons why I really don't adhere to a 'religion' and why I consider people of good faith (whatever that faith may be), living their beliefs, to be what matters.

Posted by: dr | February 15, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Linda Loo, the Catholic Church finally lost me for good when it equated the use of condoms with "the Culture of Death." Condoms used to prevent AIDS is part of "the Culture of Death."

That's a story only Congressional Republicans could believe.

Posted by: CowTown | February 15, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Ooooooooh, I feel a trip to NYC coming on...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 15, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke that sounds like a *great* idea. When?


Posted by: bc | February 15, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Should I go in search of moral guidance to inform my conscience, an institution led by a former member of the Hitlerjugend and the Wehrmacht does not make a convincing first choice. Yeah, yeah, I know, the future pope was not an enthusiastic Nazi, and he was just a kid, but so were many of the millions fighting and dying in opposition to the Turd Reich. They didn't check ID's at the door at the death camps.

Which reminds me of something else. I was watching the "Frontline" program on the Mormons the other night and was stunned to learn that they had a system for baptizing Holocaust victims. I knew they did the "convert your dead grandpa" thing, but I had no idea they went so far as to convert dead people with no connection to any LDS. PBS interviewed a Holocaust survivor who was pretty upset about having his people swept up in this holy hijacking and I can't say I blame him. The practice has been stopped now.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reminder Mudge. I would have been really bummed out if didn't get that reminder cause I would have come in on Monday.

Posted by: omni | February 15, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

That play sounds really interesting, Scotty. I'm sure your brother has already seen it or at least has tickets.

And here's some bad news out of Florida:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, this causes me pain. No chance of getting to NY in the foreseeable future, and I'd kill to see that production of the unnamed play.

Posted by: Yoki | February 15, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I hope they take it on the road to the Kennedy Center; that would really be apropos in this town.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I'm sure my bro would know where to get good seats, anyway.

And that Florida article should be all the evidence their Board of Ed needs to impose the new standards!!!!! :-O

Yoki, I feel yer pain, as I was speaking semi-metaphorically about that "trip to town..."


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 15, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

anybody here like eggplant? i'm crazy about eggplant, but wish i knew another way to cook it other than frying, and it would still taste good. it's kind of pricey too, but worth it.

almost time for the g-girl. she got so much candy yesterday, and tried her best to eat as much as she could hold before going to bed last night. i can imagine she will finish the rest of it off today.

can i talk? no, i'm still eating the heart shaped donuts.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 15, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, The egg plant can cook with ground pork (2:1 ratio), with a little water (1/2 cup)to bring to boil, with seasoning of teaspoon of soy sauce and pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the egg plant is soft.

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 15, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

If you wish to see "the Scottish play" without going to NYC or even leaving the couch, I can propose some alternatives.

"MacBeth"- the B&W version directed and starring Orson Welles in his early pre-Goodyear blimp days. Well acted but plays much like a filmed stage play. Your high school English teacher's favorite.

"The Tragedy of MacBeth"- 70's blood and guts color version directed by Roman Polanski. Much more cinematic presentation and lots of pretty realistic gore. People get stabbed, they bleed. Probably the best filmed version using the traditional setting.

"Throne of Blood"- the story is transported to feudal Japan by (natch) Akira Kurosawa. You know the story so reading the subtitles is not needed and you can just enjoy the action. Isuzu Yamada makes one of the best Lady MacBeths of all time, even if they call her Lady Washizu.

"Scotland, Pa."- the story is updated to the 70's, with MacBeth working in Duncan's diner and dreaming of bigger things. He and his honey commit a murder (no knives) and take over the business, but she's wracked with guilt and wearing oven mitts to hide her bloody hands while vegetarian police detective MacDuff (Chris Walken) in closing in on the guilty couple. Offbeat clever re-telling and not a complete send up. A guilty pleasure.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I stringly identify with you 10:15 comment.

I know it wasn't the point of your comment, but you are indeed a mother.

I know all too well the pain you experience. My son died just before he was born (during labor) six years ago.

Posted by: Moose | February 15, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I once made a squash casserole using the same cheese sauce I use for macaroni and cheese. It was pretty good if I do say so myself. I bet it would work just as well with eggplant.

Posted by: omni | February 15, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

kguy - I remember the Polanski version from the year we studied MacBeth in High School. We could not see a live production that year so our teacher brought in as many film versions as he could. Got to love those Catholic High Schools :-)

Posted by: dmd | February 15, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

And now, happier posts...

Happy Friday, Boodle!

Posted by: Moose | February 15, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

SCC: strongly

Ai ya!

Posted by: Moose | February 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse


Could had a 9, but stupidly second guessed myself on three answers and changed from right to wrong.

Posted by: omni | February 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I didn't mean to bring the Boodle to a screeching halt.

I like eggplant too.

Do you hear crickets, or is it me?

Posted by: Moose | February 15, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I think Polanski made his version of MacBeth pretty soon after his wife Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson "family" and his mind was definitely in a grim place.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow, 10/10 on the quiz; my third ace. And had two totally blind lucky guesses on the budget stuff.

Cassandra, way back when I was an impoverished college student, several or my friends and I would pool all our money and buy an eggplant, some parmigan cheese, and some tomato sauce, and bake eggplant parmigan that was pretty tolerable. We also bought a bottle of Taylor Lake Country Red to wash it down with. And that's how we'd spend our Saturday nights: the EP, the LCRed, then the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Bob Newhart Show---and then the TV went off, the candles came out, the glaucoma medicine was pased around, and we'd put on the record player Cream, the White Rabbit album, the Doors, Earth Wind and Fire, Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark, then a couple of Simon & Garfunkles. By the time we got to "Bookends" we'd be pleasantly zonked and fall asleep wherever we lay.

So I heartily recommend eggplant parmigan -- though for some reason I have no memory of exactly how to make it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I read Mudge's essay word by word and fully expect to lean the master chef's recipe for eggplant would be good to show up at Yoki's kitchen, but...

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 15, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
* 1 clove garlic, mashed
* 1 tablespoon minced parsley
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
* 1 medium eggplant
* lemon
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup milk
* flour
* vegetable oil for frying
* 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil; add onions and garlic and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and yellow. Stir in parsley, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce; simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices; brush each slice with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Beat egg slightly; beat in milk and 1 tablespoon oil. Dust each slice of eggplant with flour, patting well to remove excess flour. Dip into the egg and milk mixture; drain. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Fry eggplant on both sides, adding more oil as needed, until golden brown. In a 2-quart baking dish, layer sauce, eggplant, and mozzarella, topping layers off with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe serves 6.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I gotta cry foul on the quiz question nbr 3. I'm convinced that they are wrong. The wording is ambiguous anyway. No, I'm not going to spoil anything for anybody. If you know me, you know what answer *I* picked.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

That basically is a friend's recipe. She doesn't follow it exactly; it depends on what she has around. She ALWAYS salts the eggplant slices and then lets them drain on paper towels. She says it lets the excess water out, reducing the gooeyness of the finished product.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 15, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the quiz, missed on the West Point question.

And in retrospect, I *knew* that one if I'd bothered to think about it.


Posted by: bc | February 15, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Maggie, Mudge, others, for those eggplant receipes. My youngest daughter is hosting a former AF buddy this weekend. He's a vegan, so I was floundering around about what to fix for him.

You guys are lifesavers, even when you don't realize it.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 15, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the quiz and I'd REALLY like to know if the funding for the War on Terriers is included in what they're calling the "defense budget." Something tells me it's not.

And as a former Airedale owner I can testify that if GWB really did make war on terriers, it would be over in a nanosecond and Arbusto would be subjected to the treatment that all terriers mete out to all bushes.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

*Belated sigh of relief for TBG's nephew* Glad things are looking up.

My morning of errands now segues into an afternoon of loading tax software and starting that dreaded task. Wish me luck. *Adjusting light on miner's helmet*

Posted by: Raysmom | February 15, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I retook the test and: 10/10.

Posted by: omni | February 15, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the quiz.

Don, gotta go with the quizmaster on #3, just remember the triad and who runs which legs.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 15, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

9/10, and I know most of what I know about the armed Forces from hanging around youse guys. We had a workday: workshop this a.m., and finishing grades this afternoon. Off to a dog show tomorrow in Greenville and holiday on Monday. TGIF!

Posted by: jack | February 15, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

7/10 and I missed #3. *sigh*

But at least I guessed right about West Point.

Posted by: Slyness | February 15, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Considering that airdales will attack bears, it was gratifying that the neighbors' one, Molly, was utterly sweet once I gave the password.

The Welsh terrier down the street is downright cute.

Thinking of terrierists, Mike Scheuer has a new book, "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq".

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 15, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Well. I ended up bullying HP yesterday to send me the appropriate USB cable for free, and it came by overnight delivery this morning. Just downloaded the drivers and tested out the equipment, and all is just, well, just simply hunky-dory.

That being said, I really do have an inexorable case of the snarks, and I suspect that it's not going to go away anytime soon. Nevertheless, I do feel the immediate snark coefficient abating a bit, which I guess is a good thing (haven't decided yet fer shur).

TBG, I sort of back boodled briefly (alliteratively speaking) and saw your post about your nephew -- glad to know that all appears to be well (and I fervently hope nothing has changed for the worse, since I haven't kept up with the posts).

So, there we are. I expect to work through the weekend on my latest Complaint (as opposed to my seemingly endless technology "complaints") in between errands.

May all my fellow boodlers enjoy their/your weekend, along with Presidents' Day and whatever you want to call it.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | February 15, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Baba Ghanoush is good. The key is to buy good tahini and sesame. This may be difficult in a small town. But it's real good with crackers. You can almost make a meal of it, and a good green salad, or a bowl of soup.

1 eggplant
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini (Tahini and sesame paste are ground sesame seeds used in cooking)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven, and place into a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water, and peel skin off.
Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Posted by: Jumper | February 15, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

*low tuneless whistle*

This guy's in TROUBLE....


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 15, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, we eat eggplant all the time, and we never fry it. Well, maybe you'd call it fried, but not breaded and deep-fried... What we do is put a little olive oil in the pan and then cook some onions and garlic and then add tomatoes and eggplant and whatever other vegetables we have on hand--could be carrots or squash or peppers or whatever. Then just cook it all together, serve it as a side dish or over rice with soy sauce as the main course. Oregano is optional, black pepper, whatever spices you like.

I saw a picture of a dish from a fancy restaurant the other day--they had sliced and grilled the eggplant and then stacked the eggplant slices with slices of mozzarella cheese. I thought it needed tomato slices to make it complete. But what do I know.

Posted by: kbertocci | February 15, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I dunno, Scotty. Crushed Guadagnini mixed with some chopped basil (Italian), minced garlic, fresh rosemary, and a few other herbs makes a nice pesto.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 15, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

But if it were me, next non-fried eggplant recipe I would fix would be:
Alu Baigan
1 eggplant
2 large potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons black mustard seed
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1/4 cup soy sauce
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes, and immediately place into the water to keep from turning brown. Pour the oil and mustard seeds into a pot, and place over medium heat. Cook until the seeds begin to pop, being careful not to burn. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Sprinkle in the chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and caraway seed; cook for a minute or two to release the flavor.
Drain the eggplant, add it to the pot, and fry it for a few minutes. Pour in the potatoes, and soy sauce, then add enough water to cover. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until potatoes have cooked.

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in the Indian and Pakistani cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot (or warm) spice'. There are many variants: most traditional mixes use just cinnamon, roasted cumin, caraway seeds, cloves, nutmeg (and/or mace) and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. Many commercial mixtures may include more of other less expensive spices and may contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, and fennel. While commercial garam masala preparations can be bought ready ground, it does not keep well, and soon loses its aroma. Whole spices, which keep fresh much longer, can be ground when needed using a mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder.

A commercial package of garam masala can be used during cooking, but unlike many spices, it is often added at the end of cooking, so that the full aroma is not lost. Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chilis are, but is fairly pungent.

Jumper again: Not so easy in a small town. But most spices are available in the supermarket. One can't really leave them out. Perhaps a Garam masala recipe itself is called for, with proportions.

Posted by: Jumper | February 15, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Eggplant drained with some salt, then brushed with olive oil and herbs and grilled until just firm-tender.


Eggplant thinly sliced (with a mandoline or even a vegetable peeler) the long way and used as though it were canneloni noodles

eggplant stir-fried with ginger, garlic, garam masala and a touch of lemon juice

eggplant featured in a ratatouile

eggplant gratin as a side dish

eggplant replacing any meat in a grilled kebab

Oh, I got a million of 'em.

Posted by: Yoki | February 15, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Another yummy way my family likes eggplant is to peel it and slice it into inch-thick discs. Drop into a Ziploc® bag and pour bottled Italian dressing to cover all the eggplant.

Cook them on a grill or in the broiler until they are cooked enough to suit you and stick one in a hamburger with whatever toppings you choose... yogurt, mayo, hummus, ketchup and mustard... whatever. Also good with some feta cheese. If it's summertime and you've got a bright red tomato slice to stick in there, too... well.. yum-bo-licious.

Posted by: TBG | February 15, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

And here we are. Once we get THIS done, the other stuff is easy.
Garam masala
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)


Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Garam Masala keeps for 3 months.

I grind all kind of spices in my coffee grinder.Jumper

Posted by: Jumper | February 15, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Re: Violinist
1.) This guy needs to buy a better violin case.
2.) I'd like to meet the person who loaned a Strad to the Chevy Chase of the concert stage. I have a few investment opportunities for him or her.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I like the grilling idea, TBG.

I was talking to my boss today, trying to convey that I was stressed out lately. As I was facing him, a lens of my glasses popped out and broke on the floor. This is on top of one d thing after another. Such as my blown head gasket. At least I had a witness.

Posted by: Jumper | February 15, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Eggplant grows here in the summer, when other veggies wilt in the steam.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 15, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Nailed the quiz. My only semi-guess was the % of the budget. Home today; I qualified for SSI yesterday, but decided to take today off instead and make it a 4-day holiday. Don't know when we will actually put in for SSI; probably about 2-3 more years. Hope everyone is on TGIF footing this p.m.

Posted by: ebtnut | February 15, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of spices reminds me of a girlfriend in Greenville, SC. She walked into a local grocery, and one of the staff must have noticed the saffron wasn't moving. They must have seen the $12.99 price and surmised there had to be an error. They had re-marked it to $1.29.

Yes, she did. The rice was delicious that night.

Posted by: Jumper | February 15, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as a lapsed violist, the violin story is painful. And k-guy's right about the case. I remember one company that bragged in their catalog that their violin cases could protect a violin thrown from the roof of a car on the autobahn. And they knew because a professional violinist had tried it. By accident. oops.

What's the James Bond movie with the cello-playing Bond girl? I saw it on an outing with my summer music camp way back when. The two of them slid down a mountain on the cello case to get away from the bad guys, waving the cello around in the air. When the bad guys' bullet hit the cello, the whole theater-ful of music-campers gasped in horror.

Posted by: bia | February 15, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

the most important human capacity, IMHO, is compassion--empathy, if you will. and this blog is often full of compassion, e.g. the many comments expressing support and solidarity for a boodler whose nephew had a medical emergency. and those remarks that embrace a boodler who lost children. this capacity is what allows us to have hope for the future.

but to connect that--in the most tangential way--to the catholic church and anything a bishop might have to say is psychotic. this is the same organization that perpetrated, lied about, and continues to sanitize the most widespread and destructive organized child abuse ring in modern history. the church has no moral authority whatsoever. all the higher ups knew what was going on. they all kept silent. they all covered it up. they took money from collection plates to hire lawyers and extract silence agreements from victims. moral authority my a%#. the mafia has more moral authority than the catholic church.

Posted by: butlerguy | February 15, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Bond, James Bond. That was "The Living Daylights" one of the undistinguished Timothy Dalton Bonds.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | February 15, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow, 5 pages of eggplant recipies! I have never, ever cooked eggplant for my family. (Just didn't think that they'd like it.) Now it's gonna be eggplant, morning, noon, night, and mid-rats. Yesseree, the all eggplant, all the time, channel, coming to a kitchen near me.

Woo hoo. Emeril, eat your heart out.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 15, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, an Indian friend liked to roast/smoke eggplant over an open flame (like a gas stove!!) It was smoky but really did speed up the cooking time once we picked off the charred skin.

I still cook it partway that way, then use in various species. Bhaigan with tomato sauce (no potatoes), or a very low calorie recipe I found that actually uses pickles, bay leaves, eggplants, etc-- only oil in it is what you add to it. It's very tasty and I cooked it every week for a while when eggplant was in season. It wasn't supposed to be smoked first, but I did it anyway because it reduces cooking time.

Stir-fry eggplant is best done by quartering lengthwise a italian/chinese eggplant which are very small and thin, otherwise you need to chop a big eggplant up lengthwise into nearly french-fry size, and I find that a lot of work with a really firm and raw eggplant.

I think all the recipes sound good; I particularly love eggplant parmesean but never made it; haven't found a recipe I trust as I've had some really awful ones in my life.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 15, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

New kit. Git along, little doggies.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 15, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Reprinted by permission of The Washington Pest

President Warms to Climate Change
By Jean Biergarten
Friday, February 8, 2008

President George W. Tush announced today the establishment of a federal agency, called the National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Sciences (NICAS).

He said, "Like I told y'all in my State of the Onion address, my administration administers climate change very serially. Al Bore may have gotten no Bell prize for it but the proof is in the puddling; we're actually doing something about it. NICAS will be responsible for monitutoring and mangling new or contraversarial sciences and technologies - like Special Creation, Special Cremation and Special Canceration. Now y'all know I am not a scientist but this gentleman is, so I am going to ask him to tell you all about it." He then turned the podium over to Albert Eigenstein, Special Advisor to the President (SAP) on Complementary and Alternative Science, who is on leave from Satanford University.

The SAP described the organization chart, mission, vision and goals of NICAS in excruciating and soporific detail. At long last, he took questions from the reporters.

All Creep Journal: "Dr. Eigenstein, why is the Administration, at this late stage, adding another layer of bureaucracy to interfere in the working of the free market and hobble American competitiveness?"

SAP: "Ms. Spencer, you, of all people, should be well aware of the mounting danger of global warming caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide, derived principally from the burning of fossil fuels and the concurrent depletion of carbon sinks, such as tropical forests, on our planet. Left unattended, this problem has the real potential to drastically impact all American economic activity. What would that do to our competitiveness? As for the free market, it had its chance to address the problem and blew it totally. That's all behind us now that the Tush Administration has stepped in."

Fright Wing Noose: "Mr. Advisor, this Administration has less than one year left in office. So, how can you be sure the next administration will continue the efforts that you are launching now with so much effort?"

SAP: "Mr. Hawk, our President knows how the game is played. We are executing reciprocal monitoring posts with the European Union, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India and China. That means, we send our engineers over there to measure carbon emissions and climate impact; their engineers come over here and do the same. Let the next administration - any administration - try to undo that set up and you'll hear an uproar of international protest, I guarantee it."

Wisconsin State Urnal: "Al, where will the foreign engineers be stationed in the United States?"

SAP: " Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Hawaii are the initial locations. We may expand the program to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in about six months."

Washington Post: "What actions will NICAS be empowered to take?"

SAP: "Jane, NICAS has the responsibility, and the authority, to fully monitor the adverse effects of climate change, develop scenarios for their impact on the American economy - in five year increments - and propose mitigation strategies. Further, NICAS will oversee the procurement of pilot projects to implement the selected mitigation approaches. In view of the urgency of climate change, NICAS will be exempt from FAR and authorized to accomplish all its work via No Bid Sole Source contracts."

The Economist: "Which sciences will be the focus of NICAS?"

SAP: "That is a very important question. I will turn it over to the President of the United States."

POTUS: You may know there are a lot of smart people who advise me on science and technology. The Coastal Liberal Intellectuals may cling to old fashioned science, like Evolution, and harp on unproven pet theories, like Cigarettes Causing Lung Cancer. But my advisors know better and, from what they tell me, I know better.

Take Special Creation, for insistence. Liberals keep talking about Darwin, monkeys and evolution. But my advisors, and I, are smarter than monkeys. We will study life forms to demounstrate how God used Special Creation to create life forms that adapt to changes in their environment.

Another area of study will be Special Cremation. Again, Pointy Heads can keep talking all they want about carbon emissions causing global warming. My advisors, like Albert here, have shown me the warming is real but it comes from above; that is, from Divine Intervention, to really burn the countries and the people that are polluting too much."

Dr. Sunjoy Gupta: "Mr. Pesident, you mentioned a third area of complementary and alternative science at the beginning; something like Special Canceration. What did you mean by that?"

POTUS: "Doc, you know me. I say what I mean and I mean what I say, unlike the Eggheads. And I am very mean in this matter. I have never believed the Democrat propaganda about cigarettes causing lung cancer. That is just a vicious attack on hard working tobacco companies that provide good jobs to a lot of middle Americans. Now, my advisors have convinced me that people who smoke a lot of cigarettes for a long time usually have stress issues, relationship issues, and personality issues. All these issues make them less likely to go to church regularly. So the lung cancer is God's way of punishing them for their behavior."

SAP: "This concludes the press conference. You can pick up a hard copy of the President's announcement in the hall as you exit."

Jean Biergarten's e-mail address is

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