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Next Stop: The Dead Zone

Dead zones are all the rage! Here's my latest dead zone story. That's all I do now: I've got the dead zone beat. Refrain from obvious "deadbeat" jokes!!!

By J.A.

In the latest sign of trouble in the planet's chemistry, the number of oxygen-starved "dead zones" in coastal waters around the world has roughly doubled every decade since the 1960s, killing fish, crustaceans and massive amounts of marine life at the base of the food chain, according to a study released today.

"These zones are popping up all over," said Robert Diaz, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who led of the study published online by the journal Science.

Click here to keep reading.


Meanwhile, over at Raw Fisher, this guest post by Steve Hendrix is most clever. Show the guy some love!

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 14, 2008; 2:53 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Good Porching
Next: Black Gold, Texas Tea


Joel, you're in the zone, not a deadbeat.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 14, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Always annoying to get the science a few hours before Science. A colleague moving to inland of the Great Big Dead Zone is going to badly miss our own undead near offshore, replete with limestone outcrops, corals, seagrasses, and of course lobsters. Word is that calm water, low turbidity and such has made them great to visit, even into early hurricane season.

On the other hand, local surfers are complaining of a wave drought.

Then again, two of the meteorological models put a hurricane off north of Abaco somewhere around Tuesday. Bold forecasting of something that isn't even a depression yet.

Posted by: Daveof the Coonties | August 14, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

One of my Google® ads to the right of the boodle...

Bring Back the Dead Zone
Help to bring back The Dead Zone. Sign this petition. Discuss Here.

Posted by: TBG | August 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Great article, Joel. As I have mentioned before, I work with a woman who has a doctorate in oceanography. She is, like, all about dead zones. She tells me that they suggest that the gradients in the oceans are getting more intense. Which I am led to believe is bad.

Her concern is that dead zones will become rapidly unstable. It's that whole "tipping zone" business. She is optimistic, though, that the oceans will recover, so long as we manage to reduce fertilizer runoff by even a small amount.

What really gets her worked up is the notion some have to *increase* the amount of fertilizer in the ocean as a means of boosting phytoplankton growth.

Let's just say she's agin' it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It would seem we have our first wardrobe malfunction...for real though.

AUSSIE water polo star Gemma Beadsworth suffers a swimsuit malfunction in a match against Hungary

Not Safe For Work:

Posted by: omni | August 14, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Can we come up with a more original name? How about a Children of the Corn Zone?

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse


I notice that they prominently mentioned the age of the swimmer. Thank goodness that wasn't a Chinese gymnast that had a wardrobe failure or we'd all be facing kiddie-pr0n charges.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

A quick question, Joel.

Has anyone checked the White House for a Dead Zone?

Signs of low oxy levels and hypoxia abound.


Posted by: bc | August 14, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Then we need to dispatch ships that go into the dead zones and do their best to bring them back to life. And stop deading further zones.

Posted by: Jumper | August 14, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought the "Dead Zone" was a reference to the Grateful Dead . back to your regular programming dudes

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 14, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Boy, I missed a whole Kit. The porch was lovely, and I'm glad it didn't look out on a dead zone. I keep thinking of zombie fish.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 14, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci, I had not played with Google Maps at Street Level before your link in the last Boodle. That was great! Here is the childhood ScienceHouse in Indianapolis (the one with the chairs and the mysterious sign plantation in the front yard):,+Indianapolis,+IN+46201&sll=39.767142,-86.085005&sspn=0.006498,0.007682&layer=c&ie=UTF8&ll=39.767051,-86.085005&spn=0.006498,0.007682&t=h&z=17&cbll=39.764222,-86.085368&panoid=qjFfNLAv6P0rMB1DLvygzg&cbp=1,182.9848724940997,,0,6.030664973838961

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 14, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

i finally got the new iPhone!!!!! yippeeeee!!! now i hafta get the accessories and the case - any recommendations? i don't like the condom looking ones...
tbg - i need sonofg's iphone scripts! (did i ever mention that kid is brilliant?)

Posted by: mo | August 14, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- there are so many new kits, I'm losing my balance (hmmm, was that the reason I was thrown to the floor on Monday?).

In my line of work (da law!) I encounter an enormous number of deadheads and even deadbeats. Don't normally run into dead zones, however, although certain judges and arbitrators can make it seem like it.

And now, I'm going to do a disappearing act.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 14, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Sad that there are now dead zones in the Puget Sound and off the coast of Oregon. Which part of Oregon's long coastline, I wonder?

Posted by: Loomis | August 14, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Too bad firsttimeblogger won't express the expanded impression & analysis of the deadheads & deadbeats. Then I'd know.

Posted by: Jumper | August 14, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Great kit. Depressing, but great.

mo - do you knit? Maybe you need this with your new i-phone. This made me laugh and think of mostly, dr and CP-

I saw it on Andrew Sullivan's blog. This is a prime example of why I like his blog.

And mo - I have to defend myself about lobster roll! (I am way behind in my boodling!) It sounded sketchy to me, but our friends (one of whom grew up in Maine)
insisted. I can't help it, I liked it!

Posted by: Kim | August 14, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Lobster rolls are a more than honorable fate for those petite crustaceans who otherwise would gaze forlornly out of the holding tank at the passing humans...


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 14, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Dead zones? Ya mean no fish? No fish stories?
Where are the fishermen, Bushie sport fishers?

We need a massive demonstration of fishers , their pickup trucks and baseball caps in Washingtunes (Have you heard of Looneytunes?).

Aaargghh. No shrimpies. That ruins porching on the Gulf.

Three years ago I had some great calamares north of Tampa(probably imported from Zamboanga). Dead zones? What me worry?

Posted by: Brag | August 14, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I am verklempt. Help for those of us who under certain conditions can't count to 2.

Kim that almost makes me want to 'need' an iphone.

Posted by: dr | August 14, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

dr, I agree! I used to use paper and pencil - I have a row counter but I haven't used it yet (it's in the bag with my afghan from h e l l which I haven't worked on in years).

Here's a story from a couple years ago about the Oregon coast dead zone:
(I like that the url has "slug" in it.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 14, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Too bad that didn't work - try this one:

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 14, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Pardon the off-topic interruption but I thought I'd mention that I'm just finishing a fine repast of steamed fresh okra with tomato gravy. I have this at least once a year, but since I seldom have it more than once it takes me much too long to cook. I've paired it with some nice bread and a vinho verde (cheap Portuguese white, very tasty and low alcohol content).

I agree with firsttimeblogger about the legal profession and the prevalence of human dead zones, particularly in criminal law. No capital punishment pun intended.

Mudge, I'm very fond of you and hope to see you, in an imaginary way, daily. But aren't you on vacation? The Ivansclan gets annoyed with me if I spend too much time with my imaginary friends on vacation. Good thing we didn't take one this year.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 14, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

pardon my french, but duh, effing, duh:

nasa should have never, and i mean never effing ever made this decision.
i love and study russia, but omg, never make yourself this beholden to russia on a program this important.

absolute stupidity.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | August 14, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks,L.A. Lurker. In the future, instead of words under "ineptitude", dictionaries will just have a picture of W. And the Prince of Darkness. And their minions.

Much lightning here. Show was called after a half hour (Richard III). Hope we don't lose power.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 14, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, guests and leftovers make for a calorie-restricted banquet.

A happy if still slightly-hungry pup lives in this house tonight.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | August 14, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse


Have you read Marley and Me? I just blogged about it.

That Marley was nowhere near as well-behaved as you.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Joel--your efforts to alert us the the perils in the sea from human pollution are greatly applauded. Your article actually appeared in my local newspaper a few weeks ago.

Keep it up!

I'll be going scuba diving at the end of September. Haven't been in about 6 years. Hope I don't see little particles of plastic but I wouldn't bet on it.

Thanks for the good wishes yellojkt and VL. Tomorrow's the San Diego. :-}}

Posted by: eidrib | August 14, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

eidrib... go get 'em! You've got the Boodle Mojo with you.

Posted by: TBG | August 14, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Joel's a machine this week!

A new article from him on the front page of

"Traditional Energy's Modern Boom," about drilling and mining for energy sources in Pennsylvania:

A good quote from it: "This is the world of 21st-century energy, which around here looks surprisingly like 19th-century energy."

I'll have to read this in detail soon.
Watched Phelps will his 6th gold medal and 6th world record a few minutes ago.

Someone should tap *that guy* for energy.

(that's a softball for jokes, folks...)


Posted by: bc | August 14, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Yikes, Federer lost to James Blake. Sad for Federer, but happy for Blake - he seems like a great guy. Both the Williams sisters are out too. (I know this is old news - I heard about it this morning.)

So that's what Joel was doing in PA.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 14, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod has read it, and refuses to let me read it. Apparently how Marley gets treated early on by owners who didn't know how to train a dog is too upsetting.

Probably right there; I wound up in the shelter, completely untrained and clueless as to why it all had happened before I wound up being gnome'd.

The best dogs aren't always the easiest dogs, especially when they're big puppies who love to chew everything they can find.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | August 14, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

By the way, *cough cough* not all dog stories end the same way.

I fully intend to write my memoirs while I'm still alive. No "I, Wilbrodog" for me, thank you very much, that twist's already been done.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | August 14, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

LA Lurker, I like your perspective. Congress and the WH have been dragging their feet for years to get Ares/Constellation (the new Apollo-style human-rated system) funded properly.

That could have been ready almost at the same time as the Shuttles being retired, but as usual, Bad Decisions rule the day.

Heck, I wonder if the Chinese would be willing to ferry American astronauts up to the ISS...? (After watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I'm imagining human-powered launch vehicles. Like 1000 people in a plastic rocket casing pedaling stationary bikes connected to a big compressor and a tank of water. A gigantic old-fashioned red and white toy water rocket, with water as the reaction mass. If they try to sell us a big firework, we're not buying, because we'll suspect they're faking the flights.)


Posted by: bc | August 14, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Have we already mentioned that a local guy won this year's Bulwer-Lytton?


Posted by: Bob S. | August 15, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, for the right money, I'm pretty sure that Rutan & Branson will be willing (and able) to provide service to the ISS. Just tell NASA to get their act together and make the reservations NOW!

Posted by: Bob S. | August 15, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

hiya ivansmom, bc and the night & left coast crew.

scc: i realize i shouldn't be blaming nasa, although i read an article on this awhile ago that made it sound more like nasa's plan. whoever is making these decisions, please get a freaking clue!

ok, that concludes my weekly umbrage outbreak.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | August 15, 2008 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Boy, you go away for a week and you get so far behind that you can’t even backboodle. I started reading, then I skimmed, then I gave up. I’m sure I missed a lot. I’m a very very slooooow reader.

Had a pleasant week visiting my sisters. Had a very pleasant surprise, too. I had told a classmate that I’d be home for a week. She organized a small class union among those of us who were together during our primary (Grade) school years. There were about 30 of us, plus 2 teachers. It was a lot of fun meeting classmates whom I have not seen for about 40 years. The first thing we did was see how big in size we have become. Some had put on a few dress/pants/shirt sizes, but hey, prosperity is oval shape.

Olympics : saw a little bit here and there when I was home. Now that I’m back in Bn, I can’t even watch it cuz I don’t have satellite TV. The area I’m staying now is only 1 mile away from a big power station. There’s a substation just across the road and power grids crisscrossing everywhere. I suspect that’s the reason why I can only receive one channel that doesn’t have anything worth watching.

Posted by: rainforest | August 15, 2008 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Hi, L.A Lurker.

Posted by: rainforest | August 15, 2008 1:57 AM | Report abuse

hi, rainforest.

i missed a high school reunion last weekend. just couldn't swing it after traveling for several weddings and a family reunion in the last three months.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | August 15, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I've been up so long it is as if I never went to bed. The g-girl is here, and that could have something to do with it. She went to church with me last night. I had the doctor's appointment wrong, but came back and had a date with the laundry room, cooked dinner, and off to church. By the time I got there, sleepy, sleepy.

The picture in the last kit is so beautiful. That porch does look inviting. I am so far behind in kits, and trying to read everything, I'll never catch up.

Hello, rainforest.

Nothing on the dance card today, just the last night at church. It has been a wonderful week, and we've had lots of people. The message was good too, at least what I heard of it.

Slyness, Mudge(enjoying the vacation)Scotty, Martooni, good, good, morning, and to all.*waving*

I'm going back to bed. One of my favorite movies is on, "batteries not included". Have a great day, folks.

As for the "dead zones", I think that may be the problem with one of the rivers here in North Carolina. I believe it's the Neuse River, correct me if I'm wrong if anyone knows. There have been several major fish kills in that river, and the cause uncertain. It smells bad too, in some places.

Posted by: cassandra s | August 15, 2008 5:10 AM | Report abuse

Saw that Phelps got another gold and world record. Has there been a final where the world record hasn't been broken. It's getting kind of monotonous.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 15, 2008 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Cassandra, what can we do to ensure that you get a good night's sleep? You always seem to be up too early!

I'm up a little early. Tasks for today include a trip to Greenville to see my brother's family. My sister-in-law had a hysterectomy Monday and is doing well, but I want to hug her myself.

Happy Friday to all!

Posted by: slyness | August 15, 2008 6:45 AM | Report abuse

You know it's going to be a good day when the train arrives at your station and all the interior lights go off... *SIGH*

Interesting Robinson column today, in terms of how sad it is that facts seem to matter so little to some people these days.

And in the "plus la change, plus c'est la meme chose" department...

*little-late-but-on-TGIF-does-it-really-matter Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 15, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Happy Friday all. I feel like I’m in a dead zone today. Was up past midnight because we went to see Jeff Dunham (ventrilogist with dummies Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, etc.). Daughter #2, crutches and all, went with us. Dunham was great, did almost two hours and had us all laughing ‘til we cried. Of course I had forgotten that #2 can whistle at a pitch that stings your eardrums. She did this repeatedly last night and my right ear took a beating. Now dragging myself to work, only 8 hours ‘til I can come home and nap...

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

Gut morninckzz der Boodle!

Been a bit busy and only skimming the Boodle. Did my patrol this morning over The Evil One's kennel. The dogs of war are growling but the crazy yapping has subsided.

Good, measured WaPo op-ed Article by Saunders.

Posted by: Brag | August 15, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm just getting over a wicked summer cold when the 9:15 post from Ivansmom sent me back to the barfroom. I mean, I'm very glad for her that she enjoyed her dinner. But I could never, ever, collide the words "fine repast" and okra in the same sentence. Eeewwww. (Must be that canned snot that my folks served me when I was a wee bairn.)

Sorry, again, glad that you enjoyed your dinner, Ivansmom. Memo to self: when accepting dinner invites from OK, be sure to ask what's on the menu.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | August 15, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, Costas used the word "ridiculous" to describe Phelps' domination.

I *knew* that Robinson and others would be writing/blogging about that book this morning. The Dems learned something about ignoring Swiftboatage four years ago, and they're not going to let it happen again.


Posted by: bc | August 15, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

slyness, it's been a rough week for you and your family. My thoughts are with you.


Posted by: bc | August 15, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse


Major Curmudgion snapped his riding crop against his riding boot as he inspected the damage on Brag's Spad.

The fabric of the lower wings was shredded like spaghetti. A couple of wing struts were broken. Leaves jammed the engine cowling.

Mudge turned to face Brag and again snapped his riding crop. "What happened to you?" He demanded.

"I struck a bird," Brag answered.
Mudge pointed at the plane. "No bird can do this sort of damage."

"It sure can if he's sitting on a tree."

Snap, snap, snap. "I gotta go on vakashoon." Mudge jumped into an ambulance and drove off.

Posted by: Brag | August 15, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Pretty post on the Phelps Phenom by Sally Jenkins

Posted by: DNA Girl | August 15, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, sure, guys.

Leave me to fix the daggone Spad, after Brag's been showing off for the girls, wingwalking when he's supposed to be doing recce.


Someone please hand me the wood glue, piano wire, a couple of lengths of ash, wing fabric and varnish.

It's going to be a long day.

Sorry I won't be able to work on that bomber-style nose art for ya this week, but I'd rather you have a plane that flies well than a pretty lady on your fusilage.

Er, maybe not.
Your choice, Brag.


Posted by: bc | August 15, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Don, but, you haven't had MY FRIED OKRA! That wonderful veggie is what makes gumbo so very special, it's just (as you say) in the way it is prepared (not slimy).

bc, that was a very sweet thought to slyness and I echo, echo it.

Just returned from my deck from watering summer flowers in big pots, as the dear deer make it impossible for a true flower garden in the ground. Favorite pot for the humming birds and butterflies is full of pink zinnias, fancy that! Thought for sure they would like the orange and yellow hibiscus best, but not so. For those of you who like to plant from seed, I use Botanical Interests. This year I used an envelope of Grandmother's Cut Flower Garden and they are so pretty, even in pots. I can only imagine a big plot filled with the 20 plus variety which begins with baby's breath and pretty blue flowers and now the cosmos are blooming.

Best Friday to you all....

Posted by: Vintage Lady | August 15, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

My wife noted that most of the records that Phelps was breaking were his own. One man competition. Here's a guy that thinks the shear number of swimming events pads the medal count in favor of swimmers.

And just to continue my curmudgeonly diatribes, here is an article from The Nation about the hypocrisy of the Károlyis denouncing underage paticipants. Hoisted by their own petard or beat at their own game (pick your cliche metaphor).

Posted by: yellojkt | August 15, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Slyness -- you have my swimming and Mass prayers. Glad you have the sweet set of boys. Give us an update. The only balm against death is life. We will love knowing that so-and-so is rolling over and other-best one blows raspberries upon a smile.

Just finished George Pelecanos' latest
The Turnaround.

Fabulous subtle shift in great story with a perfect garnish of social commentary. Paging George: set a novel in PeeGeeCo before the decade is out. Hyattsville is ripe for your picking and you COULD include the real exorcist house story. Deftly, as is your modus.

Alex: Your books comes in next week. Will enjoy topping off my summer with it. The order was garbled; I do not need to read

All the King's Men

again. That is what was waiting for me at the bookstore.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 15, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes to the relatives. My boss had a hysterectomy last month and was out for two weeks and was a drugged-up hurt puppy when she did drag her Type-A personality in. Plenty of rest and do as much as you can.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 15, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

bc, I've got spare shrink wrap around here somewhere if the wing fabric runs low...


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 15, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Thank you all for your kind comments. Yes, it's been a tough week. I'm off for the day, will check in tonight.

Posted by: slyness | August 15, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Two large solar farms to be built in San Luis Obispo County in California. You may find the smaller accompanying aerial photo interesting--a solar farm already operating in Bavaria. *Is that enthusiastic clapping I'm hearing from T. Boone?*:

Posted by: Loomis | August 15, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

ANOTHER new kit!

Posted by: Kim | August 15, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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