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Aliens R Us

[Goin' fishin'...Why is it so hard to get out of town? (One problem is that, in my case, "herding cats" isn't just a metaphor.)]

[Here's a guest kit from Nick Mott, a young journalist working at National Geographic.]

By Nick Mott

The scientific search for extra-terrestrial life has taken a Hollywood twist. Just like some of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, it turns out that we are the extra-terrestrials we have been looking for this entire time. That's right: Humans are from space, and what's more, so is all other life on earth.

British Scientists have recently posited that life on earth, at least in part, was fostered by the arrival of primitive space travelers in the form of uracil and xanthine trapped on meteorites that crashed to the earth some 3.5 to 4.5 billion years ago. These are two of the essential ingredients in the early formation of DNA and RNA, the genetic encoding that makes us what we are (aliens, as it turns out).

Zita Martins and colleagues, working from the Imperial College of London, published their findings in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. They have focused the majority of their scientific muscle, which I like to imagine as pulsating alien brains, on defending the assertion that their meteorite sample had not been contaminated by earth-bound elements since its arrival from deep space. The Murchison meteorite, as it's known, crashed in Australia in 1969, and has been under close scrutiny since.

Martins argues that millions of these types of meteorites were assaulting the earth exactly when life here was beginning to blossom. With the assertion that uracil and xanthine were predecessor molecules essential in the development of our genetic makeup, it seems there is no other conclusion to be drawn but that you were correct - both your 11th grade science teacher and your freshman year roommate in college actually are from outer space. But so are you, so am I, and so is your charming little dog Fluffy.

This evidence suggests that the essential elements to the development of life are literally just floating in space, haphazardly landing on planets that could be hospitable to the formation of Famke Janssen as "Kamala" in Episode 121 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, entitled "The Perfect Mate" for a very good reason. Grab your telescopes, Trekkies-- the search is on.

The discovery that we are aliens has only encouraged Star Trek nerds and legitimate scientists alike (with a fair cross-section of these populations overlapping, mind you) to look to the stars with a renewed vigor and bolstered hope - Life in the universe, it seems, is like Sinatra in New York: if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

[More on the ET findings here.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 30, 2008; 5:27 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Karl Rove's Playbook
Next: Art Museum Attacks


My comment is posted in the last kit if anyone is interested in reading it. Have a great day, folks.

Posted by: cassandra s | July 31, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing what falls into a gravity well.

Posted by: Boko999 | July 31, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Nick.

Welcome to the Boodle.

Er, ya call *this* living?

Oy. I can only imagine what the alien afterlife holds for me.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Nick, thanks for your kit. Knowing that I'm an alien life form makes me better able to explain my weirdness to my family and coworkers.

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

For anyone on or contemplating vacation:

It is perfectly safe to consume copious amounts of ATW hot dogs while quaffing your favourite beverage from a plastic bottle while searching for local wormholes.

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and have a nice trip, Achenfamily.
Please consider periodically posting pics.

Back to the Kit -

Nick, if you haven't read Joel's book, "Captured by Aliens," let me recommend it to you. Please try to ignore the goofy covers.

Thanks for refreshing the discussion that we're all Starseed. After all, the main ingredients of Earth - and us - are from the nuclear reactions of anicent alien stars from billions of years ago. Carbon and iron don't just condense out of hydrogen (the simplest and most common elements of baryonic matter in the unverse as far as we know), but are forged in the nuclear reactions of stars, and dispersed through the universe as those stars age and eventually go nova (i.e. explode).

Lather, rinse, and repeat for 14 Billion years after the Big Bang, and well, here we are.

Still, I've always been amused by the notion that we - and all life on Earth - were outsourced by the Creator.

[No wonder it's tough to get through to the Customer Service Line. Must be located on the other side of the Sloan Great Wall or something. And if it's in the Horologium Supercluster, I'd better hurry in getting my complaints into the Cosmic Customer Service Line. Once that baby goes on the other side of the observeable universe due to cosmic expansion, it's gone, baby, gone. And we're on our own, up Life Creek without a paddle, so to speak.]


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Nicely done Nick. This notion of "panspermia" has always intrigued and annoyed me. It intrigues me for just the reasons pointed out here. It annoys me because it seems to punt on the question of just how, exactly, life originated. I mean, how did the uracil and xanthine end up floating out there to begin with?

Anyway, much like the observation that we are all made of the guts of ancient stars, there is something, you know, all cosmic and stuff about this idea. We are all but children of the universe.

Bummer about the sibling rivalry.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 31, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

On the continuum of geekitude, I am well below the level that knows every (just many) ST episode by title and definitely not by number. But I do remember the one where they technobabbled on why all aliens look like day players with tubes of silly putty glued to their foreheads. Not one of the better ones.

Continuing from last kit, we have met one of my wife's old college friends. Last we had seen him he was getting his Religion degree from the Baptist college. Fast forward about a decade. Wife and I are heading towards the Mall to see the last major showing of the AIDS Quilt. Walking the other way is CollegeFriend sporting a very happening goatee and wearing a red ribbon.

We stop and catch up. He owned a rowhouse in SW DC and worked for a major media company that Joel occasionally writes articles for. He's now in San Diego. He's definitely on the very safe list.

The other guy used to live in northern Georgia, so my wife would hitch rides to Atlanta with him. He turned her on to U2 and dated one of her best friends for a while. She swears his profile says Prefers Men, but I went and sent a Friend Request anyways just to make sure.

I now have a RealLife Facebook account and a OnLine account. This double or triple life gets confusing.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Nice kit, Nick -- but the fundamental premise that *we* are all space aliens is totally absurd. For one thing, we don't have big, giant heads, we aren't gray, we aren't (most of us) only four feet tall and (god how I wish) skinny, nor do we have only four fingers and those huge giants eyes.

Also, I dispute the notion that one of the fundamental building blocks of DNA is Clearasil, or whatever it was.

OK, maybe Ann Coulter is an alien. I'll give you that much.

(Famke Janssen was in an episode of ST-TNG? And I missed it? O how cruel is fate! How capricious and mean-spirited! Life is so unfair.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "We stopped to catch up." or "We stopped and caught up." Your choice.

As for Famke Janssen, this is the best I can do through the very tall firewall where I am right now. Tell me how it looks:

Xenia Onatopp still gives me nightmares, and not the good kind.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Mudge writes, "For one thing, we don't have big, giant heads, we aren't gray, we aren't (most of us) only four feet tall and (god how I wish) skinny, nor do we have only four fingers and those huge giants eyes."

Dude, I'd suggest you have a good look at yourself in the mirror.

Life here does seem to agree with you though. Let's call you a Space Alien who's been living well.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Um...yello, I don't know how to break this to you, but I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a "continuum of geekitude." I suspect it's like being "a little bit pregnant": either you am, or you am not.

I will not speculate on whether you am. You already know the answer.

Am I the only one uncomfortable with the word "panspermia"? And no, we are NOT going to discuss alternatives. Let's just leave it alone with an "Ewwww."

No, Cassandra, my wife does not read the blog. My god, after the things I've posted over the years? *shudders*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

OK, bc, so I'm four feet tall. Proves nuthin'.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I'd add that this could explain a 900+ year lifespan, Mudge.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Clean living and a pure heart.

*chokes to death laughing at the irony*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, thank goodness in these difficult economic times that at least *somebody* is managing to scrape by. Exxon-Mobil has posted an $11.68 BILLION (with a "B") questerly profit, largest ever of any company in history.


(And I need to add, &^%#(*^?!!*%$#@&^!)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

SCC: questerly? I must have some Clearasil smeared on my keyboard. Or somebody moved the keys around again. Quarterly.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, 'Mudge. *Everbody* knows that those profits are going toward research for alternative energy sources.

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

So, what makes uracil and xanthine synthesis more likely elsewhere than our prebiotic home? Or do the molecules form everywhere there is N, O, and H at certain temperatures? Those molecules look pretty stable.

Sneak Joel kit:

Posted by: Jumper | July 31, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I read 'stardust' or 'carbon molecules' for Pan$$$$$....not quite right but helps me out just fine.

The stardust piece makes me think always on the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, of the embryonic space child in the panopticon of stars, stars, stars, stars....

About aliens etc, I never feel in the Twilight Zone/X-Files mood. I feel wonder. I think that rereading C.S. Lewis' oft ignored Space Trilogy would be good this summer. I think that the Ransom main character channels Tolkien.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I've always liked "starseed," myself, CP. And yes, I, too have always felt the awe/wonder thing.

(I've always wondered why some arch-feminist doesn't protest "panspermia" and insist upon "panova" or "panovaria" instead.)

Not as familiar with C.S. Lewis as I should be. I suppose I'm one of those who've oft ignored him.

For a while there I thought you and I were the only two folks who'd ever studied TdChardin way back when. Glad to see PB has also been doing his homework. And I only studied TdC on one of those "If It's Tuesday It Must Be Belgium" survey courses where we get about two hours worth of lecture on him and then, wheeeeee, back on the bus, next stop, Rheinhold Neibuhr and a visit to a vineyard. Went much deeper into Bonhoffer, Buber, John A.T. Robinson, and some others.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

TdC (A friend named her son Teilhard)
Rollo May's Love and Will
Hans Kung
Paolo Friere
Tony DeMello
Rosemary Radford Ruether

Good days to think upon such thinkers.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Shiloh, apparently, has plowed these fields too, Mudge. You, a convert-Jew grafted upon old Midatlantic Scandinavan stock from, a mining town Irish Catholic gel from Montana who landed by accident in California....funny how books might make experiences more common than the demographics.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

As a Software Engineer, Mudge, I can assert that there is a continuum of geekitude, beginning with the alpha geeks (the true wizards) and rolling right down to those who are engineers by education, but not by birth.

Even my ex recognized this. When he met one of my best IT grad school buddies, a 6'7" blond who had been voted best-looking man on campus several times, he said, "He's not as geeky as the rest of your friends."

Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I think that the "Autobiography of a College Parkian" would make for wonderful summertime reading. Dibbies on an autographed copy.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | July 31, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

In an effort to further classify, which is what *we* do :-), there is geekitude by aptitude (IQ, fields of inquiry, methods of problem solving, quantoid-ness), geekitude by social skills and geekitude by interest (Star Trek, anime, etc.).

These things, and possibly others, come together in a complex equation going towards infinity to give you the true level of geekitude.

Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Don, you can have the ONLY COPY! And with my John Hancock in green ink.

Oh, shall we parse the levels of NerdLordom?

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Careful Don, Brag will get his knickers twisted if he has competition for book sales!

Posted by: Yoki | July 31, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

On a very different strain of TOE/origin thought, I would recommend Ludwig Boltzmann - his work is not only brilliant but comical. Boltzmann's brain theory singlehandedly (single-brainedly?) got me interested in cosmology.

Jumper - as for probability, the argument I was trying to make (and have always been fascinated by) is that if these molecular compounds are literally just floating around the universe, and have been for eons, then it is impossibly improbable that Earth is the only place life occurred.

Then again, if Boltzmann is right maybe it didn't.

Posted by: Nick Mott | July 31, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This Kit is shattering.
I just got comfortable with having emerged from a pool of protozoan ooze and being known as a slimy character. Now I have to rewind back some billion years, change my ways and act alien. I think I will lock myself up and go into consultation with the Space Hamzters.

Who smeared peanut butter on my keyboard?

Posted by: Brag | July 31, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Quantitoid? Help me parse THAT?

A Brag, I ordered your book.

Hi Yoki!

Good book call, Nick M.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I've felt awe and wonder looking up into the night sky as long as I can remember.

Now that I'm older and more mature, I can't help but look at a Hubble Deep Field or WMAP image and feel that same awe and wonder. Sometimes accompained by an itch to kvetch.

CP, as much SF and fantastic fiction I've read, I've never been a big fan CS Lewis' Space Trilogy. I don't even have good reasons why, other than I could not shake the feeling that Lewis was trying too hard to deliver his spiritual messages cloaked in pre-WW II SF trappings.

Tolkien was more amusing to me, and Heinlein - who tried to be secular and humanist as he could, I suppose - I could at least laugh *at* when I wasn't laughing *with.*

But to your point about 2001: A Space Odyssey - AC Clarke had my heart leaping with awe and wonder as a kid, and I never stopped loving his work even when I'd outgrown it.

These days when I feel a need for classic-style SF, I reach for Brin, Clarke, Baxter, Forward, Benford, Vinge, Butler, Herbert, Asimov, Tiptree, Jr./Sheldon, Haldeman, folks like that.

Or, lord help, me Harlan Ellison if I want to get my umbrage going.

CP, have you read "Dune," or Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War?"


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

There is a clear and distinct geek pecking level and I have seen the chart. I think the lowest level is Furry LARPers that write Elfquest slash fanfic, but I may be wrong.

I will hunt it down and post it when half the dang internet isn't blocked from me. Thank goodness TPTB think news sites are okay.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Pretty sure this is it:

The Brunching Shuttlecocks were geniuses way ahead of their time.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yes, CP, I have plowed those fields, sown them and harvested a whirlwind of doubt before developing a personal syncretism.

Today I discover that Uracil and Xanthine may be the Duality sisters who fertilized the field without my prior knowledge.

I suppose it will come full circle when we discover sentience and sapience at the molecular level. Microchips are getting smaller and smaller.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

CP that's very commendable. I hope you'll enjoy it.

For those who would like to follow, College Parkian's stellar example, here's the link to reviews and info.

You can also search on Amazon with key words espionage thriller and Kingmaker will be first book to pop up.

Posted by: Alexey Braguine | July 31, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Bummed, really bummed, by the terms "panspermia" amd bc's "Starseed." Couldn't the universe be one giant fallopian tube and the meteorites the eggs? Men and their self-referants! Pshaw!

Amd I'm wondering what "under close scrutiny" means as far as the Aussie Murchison meteorite?

Picked up very recently a used book about Oregon railroads--not terribly well-written--and right at the start of the book, several chapters into it, there's a large chapter about the Willamette meteorite. No "under close scrutiny" for this old hunk? Guess it's no longer fresh and past its sell-by date...

Science Tim should add his 22 cents worth to this guest Kit. If you look at the footnotes at the botom of the article that Nick linked to, Goddard/NASA pops up twice, as well as an institution of higher learning in D.C.--and the Dutch.

Posted by: Loomis | July 31, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Yes, CP, by all means Rollo May's "Love and Will." Think I still have my annotated, yellow-highlighted, underscored, margin-written-in, dog-eared copy. What an influential, seminal book. Companion book to Erich Fromm's "The Art of Loving."

I probably need to go back and re-read the May.

I'm horrified to think how close I could have become to being some sort of monastic recluse, self-shuttered up in some tower with my books. And would have missed the world as it went by, but not missed it, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

BC -- fair critique on Lewis. Tolkien's stuff is better because, as you say, HE IS NOT TRYING SO HARD. But, for me Lewis, which I read first, helped me make sense of my astonishing feelings of mystical union with the night sky. My childhood was lovely but amidst the harshness of a mining town on the prairie-steppe where the wind sucked the moisture out of things. Dewy tis not. Harshly beautiful? Yes.Yes.Yes, but this Molly Bloom expression in a whiskey-cigarette contralto.

And such salt-earth hard-working true people. But me? The space cadet sent from the room in grade two when I told Sister Rosalia that the trinity was not hard at all to understand....luckily, I went to see Fr. Slainey twice per week during religion classes. He gave me the Space Trilogy and other Lewis works about three years later. The books made my heart soar with the knowledge that all that I loved -- home and hearth, church and altar, copper smelter and Aryshire Dairy and the astronauts in their rockets... were knitting together into some fabulous fabric whose weft was mystery but whose weave was tactile.

And, yes, I saw the Northern Lights often. AND though that surely the Canadians saw them too, since the same wide sky -- with spaceships into it too! -- arc'ed above us.

I loved Dune; Will read the other you mention.

Pardon this gush of mystic-nerdom....but my goodness I.AM.ON.KIT!

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

dbG, you have just described my younger child. She is definitely at the highest geek level. I'm glad to say, though, that her social skills are improving.

Mudge, the book that knocked me over was Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. I should go back and reread that. I've read a lot of C.S. Lewis, but not his fiction (even though I own the space trilogy, go figure). The older I get, though, the harder it is for me to focus when I try to read his books.

You would enjoy The Allegory of Love, his first major book, about the development of the concept of courtly love and its successor, romantic love.

Posted by: slyness | July 31, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

CP, meant to add "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead," both excellent books with the characters facing spiritual and ethical quandries in regards to alien life...


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

yello, did you read Weingarten's update today?

Posted by: Yoki | July 31, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Thanks for the confirmation, Nick. I have known people for years whom I suspected were aliens and now it is all true. I of course am a native of this here planet Earth, having descended from some as-yet-unresearched non-space-material line. However, you're all welcome to stay.

I also prefer the idea of meteorites as eggs. It may be less accurate (after all the uracil & xanthine did wander in out of nowhere to fertilize the planet) but I find it more heartwarming.

I'm sorry I missed the gun discussion yesterday; I'll just repeat my professional observation that in many years of criminal work I've run across many grave injuries and murders which only occurred because a handgun was readily available, and would not have happened had the perpetrators used fists, knives, clubs etc.

Mudge,I hope you're recovered.
Nelson, splendid to hear from you.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 31, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Hi, CP!

Quantoid is a descriptor for mad math skilz. Used in a sentence, "Steve is quantoid!" Since the term is generally used in geeky circles, it's one of admiration.

Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Not meaning you should curb your enthusiasm, Nick. I have it, myself. I'm just impatient for actual drilling through the frozen crusts of Jovian and Saturnian moons, and want the results NOW.

With all due disrespect, the C.S Lewis trilogy is foul and contains the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity. Not to mention misogyny, confusion, and bad writing.

Years ago in perusing the overripe drama of the Clinton foibles, it was revealed that the President had revealed (previously)confidential or secret information - "classified," I believe it was termed - to Monica Lewinsky, and that the information was the Antarctic Martian meteorite that indicated microbial fossils. At that time, I developed more umbrage about this information being "classified" than I did about Clinton's supposed leak of it to Lewinsky. Where do they get off, I fumed. This type of info most definitely wants to be free.

Posted by: Jumper | July 31, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Ran into a couple of neighbors on my morning walk, and we agreed that we don't know the answer about gun control. Discussion prompted, of course, by the murder of a neighbor Tuesday afternoon as he evicted a deadbeat from an apartment he owned. Deadbeat shot him with a handgun.

IIRC from my studies to become an emergency medical technician a generation ago, the likelihood of death is one in five with a handgun and one in twenty with a knife. I don't know if that's still true.

At one point, homocides in this fair city decreased because the prehospital care system was efficient enough that firefighters and paramedics reached victims and saved them, thus reducing the crime. I think that advantage has evaporated.

Posted by: slyness | July 31, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Loomis - The "under close scrutiny" was in reference to the sheer amount of scientific energy that went into proving that the uracil and xanthine were not contaminants from Earth itself, but originated somewhere 'out there.' The words were chosen as such to imply that "top men" had been working on it, sequestered in secret basement labs in Nevada, since the meteorite's arrival in '69. I can never resist an Indiana Jones allusion, no matter how vague.

Posted by: Nick Mott | July 31, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I would reiterate my recommendation of "Ender's Game" and "Speaker," and note that Haldeman is a friend of a mutual friend, CP.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Yes, slyness, read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, and you're quite right. It would have knocked my socks off too, except that by the time I got to it I was already barefoot from four or five other books. Read another of his but can't remember the title. (How the blazes did I ever get through college working a full-time job, attending (or cutting) classes full-time, and reading as much as I did? Amazing. (Partial answer: No-Doz and four hours sleep a night. Why am I not dead?)

And yes, I need to read The Allegory of Love. Knew about it but haven't got to it. Thanks for the reminder.

Loomis, you are so completely dependable. Really. (That's a good thing.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the person who thought up the packaging on the bacon I just pulled out the fridge is from outer space: "Now with 30% Less Fat!"

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Welcome aboard, Nick.

Mudge, did you ever get your pics download from your cameraphone?

CP, will wait patiently for my copy.

I'm off to obligatory visit of family in Indiana. See you next week.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | July 31, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Mudge, I have meant for YEARS to reread Preface to Paradise Lost and then reread Paradise Lost itself. Have I done it? Of course not.

"Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." That Frankl quote has gotten me through lots of bad times.

Posted by: slyness | July 31, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder who appointed this judge. Regardless, this ruling will likely be appealed. What a shame.

Brag: I extend a belated welcome to you and thanks to you and the rest of the boodle for your words of encouragement.

Panspermia sounds like the name of a country.

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Panspermia", despite the sound of it, just means "seeds everywhere." The male self-referant is in the misguided use of the term "sperm", which means seed, to refer to... um... masculine effluvia. Ya ain't got no seed 'til the ovum done been fertilated, so the misnomer is in the term of older vintage.

I tried reading Lewis' Space Trilogy when I was in junior high. Just appallingly bad. I cannot address whether it was, as Jumper says, mendacious or guilty of many other literary crimes. It was just too bad to give it that much effort. But (in the spirit of referencing "literary crimes"), at least it had no cannon balls bouncing through a forest like a stone skipping on a pond. Go look it up -- you'll find a reference, I wager, if you don't already know it.

Always dangerous to put the words "Clinton", "Lewinsky", "leak", and "panspermia" in proximity.

On the subject of gun control, I intend to say no more. Too much danger of tediousness. Tediosity?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 31, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

jack, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates was appointed December 2001. Presumably a Bush appointee.

Posted by: Raysmom | July 31, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Jack, consider a trip to that far country. The pyrimidines of Panspermia are loftier than the marvels of Egypt. Uracil and her sister Vicine (who favors fava beans), with their brothers Diazinon (who tore his hair out after being denied access to a golf course) and Minoxidil (who uses the alias Rogaine and helped save Diazinon's hair) are all infamous residents of the pyrimidines.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Nice of the Canadians to send their space debris to us. So what if it the means of transportation was moving ice sheets?

Nice to see a meteorite with a Native name--Tomawonos. Then there're charges of insensitivy by the Clackamas, and the Grande Ronde are involved, too. Nifty little story. Is the Murchison as intersting?

What, are there no "top women" in secret Nevada basements? Not even a Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko? Yup, dependable, that's me. Cue the Indiana Jones theme song.

Don't s'pose that the Willamette space rock spawned NYT's alien Yamhill, Oregon-native Nick Kristof, do ya?

If Mott's around, I'm wondering--and really, really interested to learn--what Natty G's Spencer Wells is up to these days?

Posted by: Loomis | July 31, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Te Deum

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

That ruling requiring Meiers to appear in court seems pretty unremarkable to me. Usually to exercise a privilege you have to show up in court and claim it question by question. "What's your name?" - no privilege. "What was your role in the attorney general firings and what did you tell the President?" - might be privileged. The administration wanted a blanket stay-away-from-court card and those are very rare.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 31, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Good advice, Shiloh. "Mudge, since you've been around for some 900 plus years, you must have been in those parts. Do you have any recommendations for hot tourist spots in Panspermia?

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

On a related note, I see that NASA/ESA and the University of Arizona have announced findings and fairly solid (ahem) evidence of liquid lakes on Titan. [Hopefully this link works...]

A good gas (ahem) station on our Road Trip to the Stars. I always I make sure that I always fill my Interplanetary Cruiser with high-test liquid ethane - you know, with the methane booster.

Mudge, maybe we can convert Scribe to run on ethane and leave her docked there (probably not too much difference financially to fill 'er up with gas or convert her and send her to Titan). Ethane skiing and Mudgefish fishing sounds like fun. Plus, no need for sunblock (but we'll need our 'suits and lead boxers).

*Tim, I'm sure you know far more about this than you're telling, big fella.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The Pyrimidines are the hot spots, Jack. Uracil is one of the hottest. And rest assured, they are all heterocyclics.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Nice try, Jack...but ain't no way I'm goin' there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Not saying I couldn't, Jack...but, well, you know. The boss ain't here, and I don't want to get the babe e-sitters in trouble.

I suppose you could take the family to Nuts Berry Farm.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Biting my tongue. Really biting the hell out of it.

Damn you, Jack.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tips, Shiloh. I'd never patronize a place that segregated cis from trans or L from R.

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

That man's NUTS!!!!! Grab 'im!!!

Posted by: jack | July 31, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

jack, let me add my admiration for your 12:38.

Those last two sentences are fabulous for a game of "pin-the-punchline-on-this-comment."

And Nick I would add that other essentials constituring the Recipe for Life as We Know It are matter and gravity.

I wrote a Guest Kit for Joel some time back to address this:

[Should I cross-post to O'Donnell's Blog?


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

You could go to a Eurethra Franklin concert.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

And Jack, you should always use codons in Panspermia.

co·don (kdn)
A sequence of three adjacent nucleotides constituting the genetic code that specifies the insertion of an amino acid in a specific structural position in a polypeptide chain during the synthesis of proteins.

That's pretty sexy stuff. I mean, insertion in specific positions, is almost pornographic.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Skip the amateur events held at the county level. When there, go to a pro state game.

I recommend bringing your credit card, though they do accept checks.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 31, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Te Diem: the boring act of filling out your expense report.

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

*politely drumming my fingers waiting patiently for TBG to weigh in, cuz I just KNOW what she's gonna say.*

Meanwhile, one of my officemates (they are all graphic artists) just e-mailed me this hilarious video, describing pretty much what we go through here on a more or less daily basis. Enjoy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

STOP sign video hilarious. ROFL.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Goin Fishin sounds alot better then goin workin. Enjoy your trip Joel.

Welcome Nick!!

You can put "Goin Fishin" on my tombstone whenever I croak.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 31, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm ROTFLMAO.

Sent it to Mr. T, the safety officer, for his assessment.

Posted by: slyness | July 31, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudge.. that is a GREAT video. Don't know how much longer it'll be available.. I notice it's not on YouTube anymore.

I sent it to my boss and the rest of my fellow "creatives" in my office. THANKS!

[PS.. Not going there on the Panspermia tourist sites.. although I certainly would recommend Mianus for anyone traveling nearby.]

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

*happy sigh* TBG, that's what I was waiting for: the Mianus line.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the heads up. Weingarten is a big man for admitting he was wrong. Left unanswered because it was unasked is why he decided to fact-check that assertion in the first place. Could it be because he read my blog? Maybe. I did link to in in an used chat question, but I have no idea whether it made it through the LizFilter. Or he may have read me obsessing on it Te Diously here on the Achenblog.

Either way, I suspect he doesn't want to acknowledge my existence. But I'm self-important and pompous that way.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Jeopardy Responses For A Particular Clue

What do you use to impregnate Panova?

What do you call skillet-fried whale?

What replaces fairy dust when Peter Pan hits puberty?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Better punchline for my last post:

How did Wendy get knocked up?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'd like to know how far you have to go to get from Panspermia to Intercourse. Or vice versa.

Can't be far, can it?

[No need to go to Mianus for that trip.
No, really. No need at all.]


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I think I am just a little in love with you Nick, (which should rightfully scare the heck out of you) but you did note one of my all time favourite episodes of Star Trek.

and yes Mudge, you must, I repeat, MUST get this episode to watch, not just for the lovely Famke Janssen, but for what it says about human inter-relationships. Anyone who really knows Star Trek , at its finest, knows it really is a modern reality play, on par with the greats, like Chaucer, and Shakespeare.

(firmlyt believing this displays my level of geekitude about Star Trek even if my education in anime is sadly lacking. I consider my Acheneducation the diploma of geekitude)

Posted by: dr | July 31, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing there's going to be guest kits (good one and thanks, Nick Mott). I don't they're ready to talk about the wonderful places to get fresh produce while in you-know-where.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 31, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Poor Nick.. I wonder if Joel warned him about the side trips to Mianus.

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

At it's peak, ST:TNG episodes were each little short feature film quality gems. Then Berman took over.

Posted by: dr | July 31, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Tim asked about panabasis yesterday in the kitchen and I found it when cleaning up the mess in there.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Funny how underlying assumptions can frame a scientific argument. For example, although we understand now that the term "sperm" refers to only the male genetic contribution, a contribution clearly no more or less than that of the female, at one point this really wasn't quite so obvious.

Once upon a time there was a rip-roaring debate amongst them learned types regarding the correct location of the biological genesis of a living child. (I think the word "soul" was involved.)

A cognitive fault line emerged between those who believed that the male contribution contained an embryonic person, which was only nurtured into development by the female anatomy, and those who believed that the female womb contained many proto-humans, whose development simply required the appropriate stimulation by the lifeless male contribution.

I mean, there were serious intellectual dust-ups over this issue, with each side accusing the other of complete and total stupidity.

That there might be a third, correct, and mutually exclusive alternative never seemed to gain much traction for quite a spell.

Not that we modern folks would ever succumb to such false dichotomies. We are much sharper than those old time peoples.


Posted by: RD Padouk | July 31, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that video, Mudge. Makes me want to finid those original gummint sign designers and hug them.

If you've worked with a legislature, making laws can be kind of like that - the language is almost perfect, but let's add this and take this out and make this clearer and obfuscate this other thing . . . and while we're at it let's add a whole new section about an entirely different subject.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 31, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

*checking my pointy 'ol haid*

Right-o, RDP!

*rather enthusiastic thumbs-up*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 31, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

CP, this is for you:

Note that the No. 3 town, Lexington Park, Md., is in deep southern Maryland, home of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, where I used to work.

They're out of their freakin' minds.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

RD, I will confess that the idea of seeing the creation - or let's say genesis - of life itself, as being intrinsically sexual, used to strike me as hopelessly anthropomorphic. Nowadays I am not so sure. It works as a good metaphor, anyway. And panspermia is the best example of it. I like transovaia also. You could just as well view the Great Fertilizer of the interstellar ova as the fat old sun.

Posted by: Jumper | July 31, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- that was a very funny video. I hope I don't end of laughing and snorting the next time I see one of those signs.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 31, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Holy mackeral, the storm has crashed a tree onto the neighbors' roof and smashed the chimney. And it's hanging over some utility wires, so do-it-yourself chainsawing will be complicated if not impossible. They are okay and say their roof is still intact and watertight.

Posted by: Jumper | July 31, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

My Great Aunt Jay's old medical book has a diagram of a tiny human form encapsulated in a single crew sperm sub. IIRC the little guy appeared to be wearing pants.
Pressed in the medical book is a certificate of thanks from the City of New York for Aunt Jay's work as a nurse during the 1918 flu epidemic.

Posted by: Boko999 | July 31, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

My understanding is that in Chicago, they prefer Deepdishspermia instead of Panspermia.

But I could be wrong.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 31, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

howdy boodle! Mr. F worked his last couple hours at SOCOM HQ this morning, turns in his security gear tomorrow, then he and Frostdottir start the long trek to St. Paul on Saturday-with arrival scheduled for Monday afternoon. Whew, I feel like my long exile in the frozen north is over. I'll still be in the frozen north, but I'll have company.

Small town dreams are just that Mudge, dreams. Most people only think they'd love to live in a small town because they never have.

From the last boodle, posted by yello- My very firm position on guns: Nobody knows their significant other well enough to keep a loaded weapon in the house.

Following this advice is why Mr. F#2 and I were able to walk out of our marriage with a divorce, not SCOTUS appeals of our sentences. (For the record, he is a great guy, for someone else. We were both enormous a$$hats when together.)

Posted by: frostbitten | July 31, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse


I read the story today in the Observer about the man getting shot. It seems his tenants really cared about him, and he cared about them, a lot. The paper stated that he even help them with their rent payments sometimes. He seemed to be a caring person. It is bad that he got shot. They probably need to throw away the key if they have the person that did that. I know his tenants are going to miss him terribly.

We're getting ready for a terrific thunderstorm, lots of wind, probably lightening, and rain. It has been so hot here.

Nick, I'm going to go back and read the kit. Welcome to the land of Achenblog.

Posted by: cassandra s | July 31, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

RD is talking about preformation theory. Here is a picture of the "little wee man" inside the $perm:

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

You know, for those of you with an interest in words, there is a linguistic remnant of the old debate I mentioned before.

People used to refer to a woman as barren, but never a man - suggesting a woman can be thought of as just a field in which life is planted.

Likewise, we still refer to a sperm fertilizing an egg, but never an egg fertilizing a sperm. Again in recapitulation of the agricultural notion that "fertilizer" is just something lifeless that you add to make a living thing grow.

But it's probably best not to think about this too much.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 31, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Ten years ago we moved from Falls Church to a small town. Never underestimate the power of Tyson's Corner, I miss it almost every day.

Posted by: nellie | July 31, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

BC thanks for more book ideas.

Mudge, interesting on the small towns link. But, as Frosti says, not for everyone in reality. Very good picture of biker, though.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Only two tiny, tiny fact-checking quibbles, Nick. British scientists... or at least one... has been proposing the panspermia theory since the 1940's.

Check out good ol' Fred Hoyle who wrote books about it and sounded nearly crackpotish for over 50 years until sugar, diamonds, and other basic organic chemicals were found out there in outer space. Too bad he died 7 years ago and couldn't have been here today to jump up and down and said "I TOLD YOU!" He also wrote SF about intelligent interstellar gas clouds. And yeah, he was a real scientist too.

The other quibble is that Xanthine is a purine which is not normally used in nucleic acid sequences.

It can actually be broken down from guanine and when present in DNA, it's considered to be a mutated form of guanine.

Its discovery may indicate that guanine
is present, then again may not be.

Xanthine can be used to synthesize many alkaloids, including CAFFEINE, theobromine, and theophylline.

So this discovery could just well indicate a large vaporized gas cloud of tea and cocoa-- an interstellar food spill. I hope they're really sure nobody spilled tea on the experimental instruments.

But then, I know that all life on Earth came from a half-eaten tuna salad sandwich (along with some sphagetti) and the answer to it all is 42.

Hope you don't mind the mild criticism, since it allowed me to take my train of thought clear off the rails and into the canyon.

Otherwise, excellent job.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 31, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Those spermatozoids were wearing thongs, not pants, but I'm the Prince of Plaid so you may safely ignore my fashion pronuncements.
It's disgusting to think we humans originate from metamucil.
I've been to the War Museum with the family-witch2 today. They had a Life in the Trenches 1914-1918 special expo as well. Quite a sobering experience.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 31, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I would hate to live in a small town. I much prefer the anonymity provided by a city. If you want to be with people in a city, you can . If you want to channel Greta Garbo and be alone, you can do that, too. In a small town everybody knows your business.

Posted by: pj | July 31, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

pj-you are so right. I'm not unhappy with my choice to return to the ancestral home place but some days I'd like to go to the post office and not see anyone who knows me. Heck, most days I'd like to have mail delivered to my house instead of having to go pick it up. If we weren't trying so hard to put on a friendly face for the tourists I'd like to wear a shirt that answers all the questions "summer people" ask. It would say NO in giant letters, preceded by:

Can I get pizza delivered?
Can I get a real espresso around here?
Will my cell phone work in the forest?
Isn't there a law against having junk cars in your yard?
Can't they stop ringing those church bells so early on Saturday and Sunday? (8:00AM is early?)
Is there anywhere in town to buy underwear?
Do you know where there's some cheap waterfront property for sale?

Posted by: frostbitten | July 31, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the city (and returned), but spent many adult years in small town(s) Ohio.

Really, there was a lot to recommend it. Much cheaper housing, proximity to land, driving by farms on my way to work and seeing *just* born baby calves, running the dogz in the field by the mansion with llamas in the back 40 (just 2 blocks from my house), more free time.

The ability to watch meteor showers without city lights, or just to go stargaze, lying on top of a quilt on top of the Jeep. Here, I'm lucky if I can see 4 stars on a clear night. There, uncountable.

Although I suspect the more free time was due to lack of commute (5.1 miles) than anything else.

Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

But in every town I lived, there was at least 1 place that delivered pizza and if you drove 8 miles, in the last 2, you could get fancy coffee.

Posted by: dbG | July 31, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Xanthine was invented by Piers Anthony.

That was the sound of me dropping another rung on the Geek Scale.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

You are on to a big concept, pj. Anonymity is a strange luxury, more or less nonexistent a couple of thousand years ago. And it's different from being a Stranger, who may be unknown but is definitely not anonymous. Back then, everyong soon heard about the Stranger being in town.

The automobile grants instant anonymity, the kind only found on the streets of the larger cities. I expect America's love affair to the car is tied to anonymity provided by mobility and the shielding of the car itself. Tied also to it is some of the heated reaction against the "it takes a village" concept. Curiously suggesting the Right values invisibility more than the Left. The direct opposite of the Puritan days?

Is anonymity a vice, a weakness? A sculking, cowardly, oily way of being? An island?

Posted by: The Stranger | July 31, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

D@mn, D@mn, D@MN! The power was off for an hour and 50 minutes and we got NO rain. Zero, zip, none.

Jumper, everything okay on your side of town?

Cassandra, batten down your hatches. I hope you get a good rain.

Yes, a terrible event in the murder of the landlord. And I do hope the perp spends the rest of his life behind bars.

Posted by: slyness | July 31, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I lived in a small town in California, actually an island on the San Juaquin Delta. The big cultural event of the year was the arrival of the Hell's Angels on Memorial Day.

Posted by: Alexey Braguine | July 31, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

What are you if you are on more than one geek rung at the same time, I wonder? Part of the geek dispora?

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 31, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

The "Small town" or "Micrometropolis" in that article were cities around 60-100,000 people. I say cities, not towns.

I grew up in a large town around that size, too bad it's now pretty much drowned out by the sheer growth of numbers in the DC metro area. The population probably has doubled since I was a kid.

Where I live now has less than 10,000 people. That's not bad in those parts, but it's a huge change from a suburban town of 100,000, in the sense that the "downtown" is maybe 2 blocks, instead of 2 miles long.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 31, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else hear some whistling recently? Around 5:47, perhaps?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 31, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Hi folks.. Made one of those summertime fresh veggie dinners tonight... pretty much based on corn and squash. Yum...

The house is quiet. Son of G has driven GF back to the Charlotte area; Daughter is at camp until Saturday.

If you're looking for a little something silly to read, I added to my blog today...

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I grew up just outside a city of about 10,000. When people talk about small towns and anonymity, I think the imagery is usually gossip about who's doing what (or whom). Whenever I'm back there for a little while, what strikes me as different from larger cities is related to that, but more what you might call generational awareness. It's one thing to know so-and-so's funny habits, but another thing altogether to know how those habits mirror those of parents and grandparents as well. Anyway, it makes for a different dynamic, putting powerful pressure to conform on people which is why a lot of people find small towns stifling. It's interesting at least; probably why I enjoyed Kristan Lavransdatter so much.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 31, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Dinner Report.
Tonight's dinner was worthy of a boodler: Pork wienrshnitzel with rice followed by a nice salad. Missing was a good wine. Cook, mayodrdomo and footmen were also missing.

It's a rough life when one lives the romantic period of a writer.

Posted by: Alexey Braguine | July 31, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Small towns? I live in a very small town (Population 132) with only 72 residences and two functioning businesses. The closest grocery store is 20 miles away - ditto for gas or a restaurant - in the biggest town in the county with a population of 2,000. The county itself has fewer than 35,0000 people in over 1400 square miles. I think we have a higher incidence of non-conformists than any city. Local characters abound. I'm probably one of them.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Anybody gonna get those abortionists that VIOLATED that meteorite? Another Xanthine molecule was not allowed to establish a soul, nor a line of souls, and SOMEONE SHOULD PAY FOR IT! Then (heh, heh) we go after them Uracil murderers.

Bet they was doctors, too.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | July 31, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

yellojkt, I'm sorry to say that I saw your Piers Anthony and I'm not sure if I should raise you a William Olaf Stapleton, a "Doc" Smith, a John Norman, or a James Blish.

On another note, I see there's reports of a cougar loose in College Park.

Staking out the bars for the this year's frosh crop of young men, I 'spect.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

And Jumper, I hope you and your neighbors weather those storms in safety.

We're thinking of ya.


Posted by: bc | July 31, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

My son's last home cooked meal for a while was steak, homemade macaroni and cheese, and green beans. And yes, this is what I said we were having for dinner last night, but they came home from the mall stuffed from buck-fifty cheesecake day at BigPortionsRestaurant.

I went to high school in a Large Suburb and hated it. Went to college in Big City and loved it. Moved back to Medium City and then to the very same Large Suburb. Still hated it.

Now I am in Enormous Suburb between Big City and Decaying Industrial City and love it. Someday I hope to live in Big City itself, but that is not in the cards for about a decade.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Your geek level is determined by the lowest rung on any path. Other levels in different areas are minor powers like being combination paladin/wizard. And yes I just did make a Dungeons and Dragons analogy.

If Jon Norman had discovered that substance, it would have been called Gortex instead of Xanthine.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Bc, that reminds me of the special visit by a cougar on the Colbert Report (or it was the Daily Show?)

Let us see: lots of deer, no loose dogs outside at night to raise the alarm and scare away prey; no hunting and fewer people walking around armed. So, a cougar just has to lie low and hunt deer at night when people aren't around, and try not to be roadkill.

There was a cougar spotted around Tysons corner years ago. I would say the odds are this is not an escaped pet, and that we will soon remember that dogs aren't the worst things to have running loose in our cities. For one thing, a dangerous dog is a lot easier to catch than a cougar.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 31, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I have never played D&D. Thank you for clarifying, sir.

The weird thing is, I saw the chart, and I don't know how you can be a SF/fanasty author without being a fan or one of those other things.

So maybe it's more like a golf handicap? add up all the geek scores and then use an extremely geeky golf formula to help average your geekosity?

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 31, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought this was a interesting article,cause I found a turtle in the road today and let him loose in my yard. I didn't notice if he was wearing and radio transmitter though.

I also saw the biggest Piliated woodpecker I have ever seen in my yard today. It was working on a dead tree in my yard and sounded like a jack hammer.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 31, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I finally got around to looking at the Geek Hierarchy chart I linked to (sorry about the red herring on the Trek/Bond/X-Men babe busted link (does that trifecta make her the geek goddess of all time?)) which led me to the Brunching Shuttlecocks archive which led me to The Slumbering Lungfish blog which led me to this post about the Seven Types of Blog Posts. The link contains both the video and text versions so it is fully ADA compliant.

Joel seems to specialize in I'm Angry and Weird Science.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 31, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The original definition of "geek" is a sideshow performer who consumes live animals. Of course, language evolves. So now the term also encompasses those who know what the original definition of "geek" is.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 31, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh-You don't live in Highland Co. VA do you? Frostdaddy is always threatening to move there but the whole family knows that should Ma Frostbitten predecease him he will be up here before we get her remains back from the crematory.
Here is: pop. 95, in a county with about 45,000. Our local gas station, bait shop, gift shop, grocery store aka "the mini" is just outside the city limits. We have 2 churches, and 2 bars. Our largest local employer is the mini followed closely by seasonal employment making wreathes for the Christmas market (that wreath you order probably does not come from a quaint Maine or Vermont village and the maker cleared about $2 if he/she also picked the boughs)

I realize this is not the "small town" those articles speak of. Those towns are more like Bemidji, with a population of about 11,000 and a University to provide some culture. I know I sound pretty negative about our fair city sometimes, but I'm not really, it's just a totally different life than most people expect when they move here.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 31, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading a book about small town living in the 50's written by a friend. Quite funny. Will coment when finished.

Posted by: Alexey Braguine | July 31, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse


We got a "little" rain, not as much as I thought we would. The power didn't go out, so it's all good. Still pretty humid. The kids will be at Discovery Place the 6th of August, Slyness, but not me. That's on Wednesday, my busy day, so I don't get to go. I will miss it. I've never been to Discovery Place, and I just know I would enjoy it.

The g-girl is here, and wide open. Of course, we've been to Burger King. Now we're getting ready to crash. Bedtime. Tomorrow starts early.

Interesting kit. We're all aliens from another planet. Could explain some things I suppose. What, I don't know.

Small towns are okay, but I agree with the comment, everyone knows everyone, and the going-ons of pretty much the whole town. There are some folks, for lack of something to do, make that the thing to do. Keeping up with folks, and their business. I suspect more than one or two small town resident is probably guilty of this act. Just trying to get around the boredom. There's so much to do in a large city. Here, most are in the bed by eight, and in my dad's case, five.

Have a good evening, folks. Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | July 31, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Animal control and part service people in the 33 acre woods near my house now. I think they are looking for the cougar. Perhaps.

Although, after Hurricane Isabelle,reports of a cougar emerged also. I heard a tell-tale rattley-growl that week and said in a heart-beat, "bobcat."

It could be a cougar, but I bet tis a bobcat. I saw and heard a bobcat near campus after Hurricane Isabelle.

I am waiting to see a coyote in my neighborhood.

I see a family of foxes at least one evening per summer week.

I loved my small town life HOWEVER, the prospect of no work is very sobering. The familial knowledge, as SonofCarl says, can be stifling. But, I have also been stopped on the street in a small South Dakota town with this: "you MUST be a T....You have such T...eyes. ....Oh, I knew your mother in high school....And, your gr. grandfather farmed a quarter section near my Uncle Wiggie." Yes,Wiggie.

BC -- who is our joint friend for JH?

Posted by: College Parkian | July 31, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Just one quick question...

There's so much talk about McCain bringing race into the Presidential campaign, and race becoming an issue(not pretty), do you think it's okay to do that? Is it fair to bring race into campaign because Obama is who he is? Can race be talked about in this race without it being an ugly thing? Somehow I don't see how, but maybe I'm missing something. Talking about race in this country has never been seriously done. We hit on the perimeters, but never touch the core, and when we do talk, it's always "at" each other, never to better the relationship. And with John McCain's history, I'm thinking, it's just not a place he needs to go. Yet I know, that's a place some want him to go, because they're still fumbling around that area in the dark.

Posted by: cassandra s | July 31, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Highland County, VA sounds like my kind of place, Frosti, but I'm in Florida. Hernando DeSoto passed through here about 1536 and things haven't been the same since. I just rechecked population and the current estimate is 128, down a few. In the late '30s and'40s this was the largest town in the county with almost a thousand people. But the loss of two railroads that bisected the town, the closing of a lumber mill that made parts (cypress flitches) for citrus crates and greener pastures elsewhere have taken their toll. The Town Council recently (2007) named a local historic district to try to preserve the dozen or so remaining "company town" residences that date from the 19th and early 20th century. At one time the company store coined its own money and I've found a couple of local coins under my house.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I think the issue of race is unavoidable, but if McCain and his advisors are not careful it will hurt them. The fact remains that this country still has a lot of people with prejudices. Some of my old Southern neighbors say they would never vote for a black man, so I just tell them to stay home on election day. They just shake their heads when they see my Obama '08 bumper sticker and yard sign and call me a "damned South Florida Yankee."

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

So, what company built or developed Cedar Key? Ag? Lumber? RR? Other?

Posted by: Loomis | July 31, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly though, Cassandra, in the years I've lived in this little town, the local voters (65 of us) have elected a black man as Mayor 3 times. He's not presently on the Town Council because of age, but is still highly respected. If he tells those old Southern white boys to vote for Obama, they probably will.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

My little corner of Fairfax has become like a small town to me. Son of G was recently at the Safeway and a checker there said, "You must be Dr G's son.. you look just like him!"

I live about a mile from where I grew up, but it's like I've moved from a sleepy small town to a large suburb--not distance so much as time.

But it's all what you make it.

We buried my parents in the cemetery down the road from me (I pass it nearly every day) that's less than a mile as the crow flies from the house where they raised their family.

My kids had many of the same teachers in elementary, middle and high school that their older cousins had--and now their younger cousin, who lives four houses down the street, has them too.

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh my... new kit!

Posted by: TBG | July 31, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Cedar Key, Loomis, was a major Gulf port in Florida and the first port city to connect to the East Coast by rail. Pencil factories and seafood (Oysters) were big back then. The railroad to Tampa changed that in the 1890s. Today it's tourism and aquaculture (Clams). The town has restaurant seating for 1400 and a population of about 800. I'll be there tomorrow morning for breakfast at Annie's Cafe' on Back Bayou.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 31, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

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