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The Tasmanian Megafauna

I know: It's all anyone can talk about. The Tasmanian megafauna!

But it's a clue in a big riddle. What happened to all the big animals that used to stomp around the planet during the Pleistocene?

Recently I wrote, "Viewed broadly, it appears that humans are environment-destroying creatures by nature. The notion of the prelapsarian era in which we lived in perfect harmony with nature has been effectively shattered."

Now there's this bulletin from scientists at the bottom of the world:

"[T]he first evidence that Tasmania's giant kangaroos and marsupial 'rhinos' and 'leopards' were still roaming the island when humans first arrived. The findings suggest that the mass extinction of Tasmania's large prehistoric animals was the result of human hunting, and not climate change as previously believed.

"Scientists have long argued over the reasons behind the worldwide mass extinctions that took place towards the end of the last ice age. The main culprits are generally thought to be climate change or some form of human impact. People only arrived in Tasmania around 43,000 years ago, when the island became temporarily connected by a land bridge to mainland Australia. None of Tasmania's giant animals, known as 'megafauna' were known to have survived until this time. This appeared to clear humans of any involvement in the disappearance of the island's large megafauna.

"This new international study reports the discovery of giant kangaroos surviving in Tasmania until people arrived, placing humans back on the list of likely culprits for the subsequent extinction of the megafauna."

Let there be no confusion: This is not some kind of refutation of anthropogenic climate change that's taking place today -- this all happened in the depths of human prehistory.

What it is, however, is the latest data-point in support of what has been called the Pleistocene Overkill Hypothesis, first raised by Paul Martin many decades ago and supported by such scientists as Jared Diamond (see his excellent book The Third Chimpanzee, published circa 1991) and Tim Flannery (The Future Eaters, 1994).

As you can imagine, this is both scientifically and culturally controversial. Lots of politics in the mix. And make no mistake, this hasn't been nailed down by any means, because archeology in that part of the world is tough stuff -- you don't tend to get neat sedimentary layers that tell a nice story of what happened when. [Having been there, I'm now an expert on all things antipodal.]


Continuing to quote myself compulsively: A while back, I did that Outlook piece on what presidents do, and how they make decisions, and relayed the consensus that Bill Clinton never saw a decision he didn't want to postpone. Now we see this epic tale in The Atlantic on the Hillary Clinton campaign, with a familiar-sounding theme:

"The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men. Surprisingly, Clinton herself, when pressed, was her own shrewdest strategist, a role that had never been her strong suit in the White House. But her advisers couldn't execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

"Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence--on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to 'do the job from Day One.' In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles' heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton's loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency."


Olympics Dept.:

I was so glad to see this story today in The Times about the eye-popping world records being set in Beijing. You've got people obliterating old marks by 2, 3, 4 seconds -- which is like Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs in a season. Doping? Maybe, in some cases, it's those swimsuits!

"Fauquet has called for more debate about the use of Speedo's LZR Racer, the latest advance in the full-body suit craze popularized in the last eight years. The Racer has been worn in the setting of about four dozen world records since its introduction in February. The corsetlike suit is made by ultrasonic welding instead of stitching, can require a half-hour to put on and shoehorns the body into a more streamlined position.

"Critics suspect that the suit aids buoyancy in the water, in violation of performance-enhancing rules set by the international swimming federation, known as FINA. Alberto Castagnetti, the Italian national swim coach whose team wears a rival brand, has equated the Racer with 'technological doping.' Some say the suit can boost performance as much as 2 percent; that can mean the difference between a gold medalist and an also-ran."

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 12, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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Next: Rooting For the Chinese


Look, in our defense, it is well known in certain circles that giant kangaroos are really quite extraordinarily tasty.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse


Jeez, if ya wanted to know what happened 14,500 years ago, all ya hadda do was ask me. Sure, some of it's a bit vague, but I remember a good bit of it.

Oh, and since I got trapped by the new kit time warp, I'm reposting:

Green -- and many other commentators -- miss the point, Ivansmom. No, we don't really care about sports like archery, or track, or bobsled, or whatever. What we *do* care about are the *people,* and to some lesser extent, about the drama and the competition. We become invested in their back stories, their hardships, the things they have to overcome, yadda, yadda yadda. We don't give a rat's patoot about volleyball, any more than we give a rat's patoot about ball room dancing, or amateurs trying to become singers, or who is going to be the next interior design star on the Home Makeover channel, or who is going to beat Bobbie Flay's smug a-- on Iron Chef.

We are interested in *people,* and the drama of competition, and to some extent on national price and accomplishment. The actual venue hardly matters. No one cares who rides a bike fastest through the #@*&^%$ countryside. If they had speed-knitting we'd all be riveted to the TV.

Every writer, every storyteller knows this. Or ought to.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 10:57 AM

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I can tell you what happened to the Tazmanian Megafauna.

They were *delicious.*


Posted by: bc | August 12, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

SCC: national pride

I think I went to junior high school with a girl named Meg Afauna.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, isn't it possible, as some have suggested with respect to the extinction of the dinosaurs, that there is more than one cause? Perhaps climatic effects had so weakened the giant kangaroo population that human activity was just the final, umm, punch.

I am not sure how one would determine this from the record, unless it was possible to track the population in time with sufficient resolution to note an especially significant dip once people showed up. And given your description of how spotty the record is, I find this unlikely.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Also, given that only the Kangaroos have been found, maybe this just suggests that Really Big 'Roos were especially hardy compared to the other more dainty members of the megafauna.

All this just shows that there are many narratives that can be imposed on sporadic facts. (The bane of my existence.) And the one that is believed is sometimes simply the one that makes the most "sense" to someone in a very subjective manner. Which is why I expect nifty debates like this to keep on simmering for a long time.

Although "simmering" might not be the most prudent word.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

OFF kit now, but perfect for the last kit: chasing the purple loosestrife picture with Boko's comment on pulling out the "evil QA's Lace. (I like this flower and how it dances, starlike, in fields.)

Queen Anne's Lace

Her body is not so white as
anemone petals nor so smooth--nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
thefield by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand's span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over--
or nothing.

William Carlos Williams

Posted by: College Parkian | August 12, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the giant kangaroos effectively stomped out the rhinos and leopards. This would leave them the only remaining megafauna, whom the no doubt astonished humans worshipped as gods. It could be that their subsequent demise was the result of religious practice (or disillusionment), or even divine internicene warfare.

Perhaps the megarhinos, megaleopards and early humans joined forces to extinguish the giant stomping kangaroos, then the other megafauna decamped for Atlantis or the Antarctic.

As RD says, there are many possible narratives here.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 12, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

The marsupial rhinos were the tragic victims of the unregulated traffic in MarsupIAl rhino GRounded Appendage.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 12, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

On that novel quiz: of the thirteen questions, I have read ten of those which were the correct answer. Two more were famous enough that I knew them without having read them. The one remaining was a process of elimination and a fifty/fifty split chance.

On Kit: I blame Fred Flintstone...Just look at the size of this rooburger:

Posted by: omni | August 12, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Speed knitting would be a great spectator sport. It would be like watching a symphony orchestra, all those flying elbows and all. You could get style points for elbow flailing.

Maybe we should start working to get it into the 2024 Olympics now. It's a winter sport, me thinks.

Posted by: dr | August 12, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Or perhaps the R.O.U.S. ('roos of unusual size) fell into the Pit of Despair.

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* Me and my big mouth.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

SCC Ground ...

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 12, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

One issue I guess a lot of people have, is that if the ultimate fate of the Megafauna does not have direct bearing on current questions of anthropomorphic climate change, why do we care?

There are many answers to this, of course, including a greater understanding of ecosystems and simple intellectual curiosity.

But the most compelling reason to care about these Giant Kangaroos is the inspiring and little-known story of how they had to overcome great personal obstacles to become a successful species.

Yes, it is time for an "Up Close and Personal" visit with the courageous Tasmanian megafauna.

If only Jim McKay were still around to do it right.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm suprised no one's blamed the Tasmanian Devil yet. That boy was HUNGRY...


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 12, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Wow Joel, thanks for adding that information about Hillary Clinton. I have a feeling that description of a chaotic and poorly-managed campaign will incite a debate even more nasty that the one about the Tasmanian megafauna.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Everybody knows it was the Tasmanian Megadevil what ate'em all up.

Posted by: martooni | August 12, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Yet another possibility; a Pleistocene administration let its agencies decide for themselves whether the megafauna was endangered.

As Scotty would say, *sigh*

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Hillary stuff and the Atlantic article, last night Chris Matthews had an interesting point. Noting the article and the contention that Hillary lost Iowa because of all these internecine wars in her staff, the poor decision-making, etc., he said this (paraphrasing): We tend to think campaigns are lost because of tactics. [Was Mark Penn a moron and did he give bad advice, yadda yadda.] However, sometimes policy plays a major role. I think Hillary lost Iowa not because of tactics, but because she refused to apologize for her Iraq war vote."

I am much inclined to agree. Yes, her campaign was screwed up. But it was her stand on Iraq that cost her Iowa. And the loss of Iowa began the landslide elsewhere. So, if you agree with this notion, then the fact that her campaign was screwed up may be true--but ultimately irrelevant.

See, the trouble with covering campaigns as horseraces and being fascinated (as many of us are) with "inside" stuff and "process" and maneuvering, etc., is that you can lose focus. As Matthews says, sometimes a candidate is simply on the wrong side of an issue. Period. It's that simple.

As for all of Mark Penn's recent blabber about how Edwards pulled votes away from Clinton and she'd have won Iowa if he hadn't been in the race, everyone unanimously agrees that's the urest hooie, and that Penn is hallucinating. The Edwards people were never going to vote for Hillary; Obama was their overwhelming second choice. There is no statistical doubt about this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Yoki. One hundred sixty days till January 20, 2009...

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Scotty... you better hope I was thinking like you and not vice versa. My kind of thinking usually results in institutionalization.


Posted by: martooni | August 12, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I thought the humans lit fires to drive out the mega fauna into the open so they could hunt them... they managed to destroy all the forests in Australia and create 'the bush'. On the other hand, that doesn't quite fit Tasmania.

Interesting that many plants in Oz require fire for their seeds to germinate... they evolved to cope with man-made fires over thousands of years.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | August 12, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

It's certainly an amusing coincidence that the big beasties disappear or get really thin on the ground when humans show up. Maybe it's an indirect affect, but history and what little we know from paleo-archaeology gives us a strong indication that the "yummy" factor and the old human drive towards overkill and economy-of-scale hunting (ie mass kills) had a potent affect.
Incidentally, that reminds me of the hottest theory going around on N. American migra-fauna: It's postulated that hobos, like Cowbirds, evolved to follow/ride the great Bison herds, and only switched to trains when the train-riding hunters destroyed said herds. Alas, we may never know, since the extinction (or emigration, depending on your beliefs) of the N. American Common (or Garden) Hobo prevents us from doing the modern genetic studies which might cast some light on things.

Posted by: JohnR | August 12, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is, what the heck is a marsupial rhino? A marsupial is an animal that carries its young in a pouch. What do you image a 1,000-lb rhino looks like? And how does it carry, say, a 50- or 100-lb. "baby" (horn and all?) around under its low-slung tummy? And that's gotta be one heckuva well-designed pouch, mag eout of kevlar and carbon fiber or some such. Sheesh. It's like an armored car carrying around an armored motorscooter under its chassis. Imagine having to haul that little mammajamma around with you everyplace you went.

A marsupial leopard is almost as problematic. Don't image that cat ran very fast when all the kids were home and playing inside the sack.

No wonder they died out: they had as many major design flaws as the gas-tank-exploding Pinto and the New Improved Coca-Cola formula.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Post's article about the Atlantic piece on Hillary's campaign starts out...

"After much hand-wringing among former Clinton staff members over the weekend, the Atlantic Monthly has finally posted its treasure trove of Clinton campaign e-mails..."

Shouldn't that, according to the Post's current style, be "hand-ringing?"

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Why just the other evening Msmon and I were chatting about the mega-fauna over dinner when she quoted herself from a previous incarnation that segued into Michele Obama's brief encounter with John Edwards at a campaign rally and how that must have made Barack feel.
That out-pouring of empathy led to an introspective moment of contemplation regarding the extinction of mega-fauna in our neck-of-the-woods which, as it so happened, coincided with an increase in cash out-flow to UNC...
I suppose some might conclude that there's a connection?

Posted by: Dmon | August 12, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

JohnR... you remind me of my husband's theory that once humankind was no longer worried about being killed by large animals, we invented the automobile to keep our population thinned out.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I doubt that marsupials are really much more burdened by their offspring than placental mammals are bothered by the fetus developing inside mama's body. It's a challenge, but not impossible. Marsupial babies are born considerably less developed than placental babies, then relocate to the pouch, so the birth process appears to be much less difficult for Mama Marsupial. In fact, I often am puzzled by the thought (I think about such things) of why humans developed from placental mammals rather than marsupials. For an organism like us, that depends upon a big head as its primary adaptation, the marsupial mode of birth seems a lot less stressful on the mother's body than the placental method of stretching out the pelvis to make room for the giant cranium. If tree kangaroos had only invested in opposable thumbs and simple tool use, they could now rule the world.

One word, m'boy, just one word: "Thumbs."

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 12, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, one of the dots and I were talking about this very thing just a few days ago, and agreed that giving birth to a marsupial fetus looks a *lot* easier than doing so to a much more developed placental babe.

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

ScienceKid#1 was, at one time, totally obsessed with the notion of the restoration of the thylacine (=Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf). There's a thylacine or two pickled in embalming fluid or alcohol or other such fluids, here and there. You have to harvest some cells, clone those buggers, and bring 'em to term in some other marsupial -- say, a Devil. I have no idea how you persuade a cranky animal like a Tasmanian Devil to host the development of another species' pup without simply eating it. The fundamental concept is clear; nearly everything about the practical implementation is fuzzy.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 12, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim... you just advanced my theory on why the mega Kangaroos are gone. The female humans found out the 'roos were giving birth early and killed them all in a fit of jealous rage.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

In praise of megaflora:

Posted by: kbertocci | August 12, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I've raised three teenagers from another species (possibly alien) and never had the desire to eat them. Especially youngest dottir, the venomous bottom-feeder. Yuck.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

firsttimeblogger... in response to something you wrote on the last boodle...

Dont' take Tylenol PM every night. That much acetaminophen is bad for you. Just take a generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine). That's the active PM ingredient in the PM pain relievers.

I buy the generic version of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at Costco... you get 400 pills for less than $4. Compare that to the cost of the plain PM pills--the ones they tout that have no acetaminophen. Compare the active ingredient and you'll see they're identical.

This is all done with the blessing of my doctor, of course. She's the one who told me it was Benadryl in the first place. I take 'em for the same reasons you do.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Or a 10 mg. Gravol will also induce sleep.

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

We humans are a hungry bunch and these big brains of hours require a lot of calories. We also require good conditions for maximum reproduction.

Unfortunately, we're just a little hungrier and, er, like living the good life a little more than we are smart. Is it any surprise that we've somehow made the whole world into our own Self-Warming lobster pot?

Global Warming should also have a side effect of encouraging people to wear less and fewer clothes, possibly having some baring, er, *bearing,* on that reproductive effect.

When all the fish and MegaFauna are gone, the timer for the Soylent Green should go off...

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.


Posted by: bc | August 12, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Off kit: Twenty seven years ago today, the release of the IBM Personal Computer.

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

My first thought was that not only humans crossed that land bridge. I don't know what else, but I bet some other species that disrupted this ecosystem also crossed. Rats, mice, lions, tigers? Viruses and bacteria?
Did tigers feast for 10,000 years, then go extinct for other reasons there?

JohnR got me thinking about our past as a nomadic bunch. I used to think of that as meaning a sort of aimless wandering. Now I think most nomads had, when things went well, a definite "circuit" to travel throughout the year: winter hunting grounds, summer hunting grounds, passing by the same places to gather berries at the right time from year to year. Which would, I think, make people a "migratory" species as perhaps a better description than "nomadic." It would take lots of practice to establish regular beneficial migratory treks on a new continent with such odd fauna as Australia presented.

Posted by: Jumper | August 12, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Yoki... but with Gravol you're more likely to develop a tolerance and need a larger dose or become dependent. With Benadryl that doesn't happen. At least this is what my doctor tells me.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Melatonin twice a week, aspirin every other night, pasta once a week late, and dessert once a week late. This should solve most insomnia.

Posted by: Jumper | August 12, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

TBG's right. Acetominophen causes liver damage at doses not much higher than the regular, effective pain-relieving dose. The FDA (I checked Medline) cautions anyone consuming 3 or more drinks a day to check with their doctor about whether to use this drug.

I have sleep problems, so maybe I should try Benadryl (in the generic form, of course).

Tim Flannery's "The Future Eaters" is a remarkable book, culminating in human destruction of New Zealand's megafauna, the Moa birds, many species of them.

His book on North American mammals is almost as entertaining.

Madagascar suffered the same calamity. A quick Google search turned up some incrimation for humans:

I hadn't known that spores of a coprophilous fungus could be used to monitor the abundance of big animals.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 12, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"We also require good conditions for maximum reproduction." high school the back seat of a Valiant in the last row of the Bucks County Drive-in wasn't good enough? I bought her a soda and two egg rolls, yanno. Sheesh.

Things didn't improve much a few years later when I tried taking 'em out to dinner and ordering a bottle of Mateus rosé.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Who rewrote my poem about ox femurs to be about FLOWERS?? Even carrot flowers?

Mudge. A word?

Posted by: Wilbrodog Curlos Wilbrodog | August 12, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Not guilty, Wilbrodog. I'm still hung up thinking about maximum reproduction.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Queen Anne's Lace is pretty
say some of those among us
But Queen Anne's Lace
is no good for food
smoking or coitus

Posted by: Boko999 | August 12, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I had three babies in four years --- I think that is close of maximum reproduction

Posted by: nellie | August 12, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "close to"

Posted by: nellie | August 12, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, everyone knows if you get juiced on Mateus you just hang loose...


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 12, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Yikes! Shades of Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, only in reverse!
This pushback about the swim-suits being an unfair tech advantage is nuts.
How is this any different than racing bicyclists wearing aerodynamic helmets and skin-tight spandex?
Let 'em all wear the suits.

Posted by: Dmon | August 12, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Let 'em all swim nude. Fair is fair.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 12, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

This is for mostlylurking or firsttimeblogger... or anyone with a connection (or affection) for IKEA or scandinavian stuff...

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd like seeing what these guys could do without the fancy suit. Somebody give them some old fashioned swim wear and see how fast they really are.

It hardly seems fair unless everyone has the same suit.

Posted by: dr | August 12, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Is performance-enhancing surgery against the rules? All I ever hear about is performance-enhancing drugs -- and, of course, we have the footless runner with the prostheses and the continuing controversy over whether he is cheating by having no feet. What about a female swimmer who has breast-reduction surgery? A swimmer who shaves his entire head and body? Who has his external ears reduced? A swimmer who has his feet widened (somehow) and his hands webbed?

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 12, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I have the patent summary-- 22 page PDF -- on the January 2008 application by Speedo. I am using it as a teaching document for my fall technical writing classes.

Fascinating, mostly that the suit is "welded" so there are no seams. Also, suits last only about ten swims. At $500 a suit, this is a very expensive option. So, until Tyr, Dolfin, Nike, etc., figure out a contender, I expect that countries will beg Speedo for sponsorship. Imagine a field of suits on the world state with only the Speedo logo shown.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 12, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC: world STAGE

SciTim: Mr. Phelps sports wide set ears. Chuckle. About the upper story problem for women, this can be adjusted for somewhat by stroke style and head position and the now-standard rapid beat flutterkick.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 12, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

TBG - I love the Blogadilla site! I am an end table (I believe). Wish we had an Ikea in the middle of this ocean. Could use some reasonably priced, non-wicker furniture in this state.

BTW, anybody hear Cokie Roberts' critical comments about Obama taking his vacation in his hometown of Honolulu.

You know, in this day and age, it still marvels me at how ignorant and downright idiotic some Americans can be. Will Hawaii ever be accepted as part of the USA?

Posted by: Aloja | August 12, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I dress in rags, smell a lot, and I have a real good time.

Posted by: jack | August 12, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Hawaii's a state? When did that happen?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, I know a lady who had 3 pregnancies (and babies thereof) in roughly 3 years, 2 months, and 2 weeks.

Be glad you weren't her. My utmost sympathy are reserved for those women who birth multiples, though.

Jumper, Dingos ate roo babies, of course.

You bring animals capable of hunting in packs... even across species (humans), and running long distances fairly quickly to a land where the biggest carnivore is a dim-witted tasmanian tiger, and the megafauna is in for a big surprise.

And let those dogs breed in the wild and go semi-feral, and you got a lot of dogs working on the wildlife population within a few decades.

Add clearing by fire to the mix, plus megafauna populations /already stressed/ by climate change during the Ice age, and a coup de grace is in the making.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

My solution to the swimsuit issue: bring back the REAL olympics-- naked competitions.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

First the cyborgs will win the Olympics, then soon after, the strictly android robots and artificial humanoids. There will be a special competition for massively genetically-manipulated clones. The contest will be funded by the military-industrial complex, in attempt to enshrine Competition as a now demigod. Meanwhile, all research into Cooperation as a new paradigm will be repressed. Athletic games such as Frisbee will be outlawed as there are no clear "winners" or "losers." Those protesting will be smeared as unpatriotic.

Posted by: Jumper | August 12, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Back in the dark ages of doping testing the East German women swimming team had the upper body drag problem licked, so to speak, with generous use of testosterone and steroids.
I remember Kornelia Ender very well from the Montreal Olympics; 5'10" and 170lbs of lean muscle&bones at 18yo. Not much of an upper body hydrodynamicity problem but the biggest shoulders I've ever seen on a woman.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 12, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

When I was in my last job, my business card had a little regional list running along the bottom:

"California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, US Pacific Islands."

People really noticed the last two. It bothers me that some think Maine in the summer is more American than Honolulu in the summer, or at least a less frivolous part of the US. I'd argue that Hawaii has played a significant role in American history, starting with the whaling business, continuing through the California gold rush, and of course its role as a hugely important military base.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 12, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

But you can't drive to Hawaii. Therefore, it's less "American" to many members of the frenzied car-dependent cult that exists in America.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Aloha-I was in a snit all morning after listening to Cokie Roberts. Visiting Hawaii would make him seem too "exotic." Hmmmph, what does she think all the women are running around in coconut bras and grass skirts? The way she said "exotic" made cringe. Like when someone calls a neighborhood "ethnic" but you know what they really mean is too brown/black for them.

Speaking of targeted advertising, and someone was on the last boodle, I received an interesting postcard in the mail this weekend. "Buy all your RNC protest materials from the union print shop closest to the Excel Center." It goes on to tout the location as an easy way to not have to schlep your protest placards and flyers about and risk not being able to get them through the "soft" security perimeters (no motor vehicles or bicycles, but the St. Paul PD claims pedestrians will be able to pass freely).

Posted by: frostbitten | August 12, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh good lord. It's AUGUST and the poor man went to visit his GRANDMOTHER. So Cokie thinks he should go to Myrtle Beach? The redneck Riviera? Why?

He's going to have a busy and exhausting autumn. Let him rest with family for a few days!

Good LORD!

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

One of the things that I've come to accept is that competition in sport has brought on the survival of the fittest mentality in our athletes (or maybe our coaches). Of course, it also spurs the whole "at any cost" approach to winning as well. Athletes will push to the limits of what is legal, fair and acceptable in the rule book, some will push beyond and hope they won't get caught. Is this part of human nature? Perhaps. Right or wrong, it's part of our behavior that comes with competition.

Having said all that, I'm with Wilbrod.

Posted by: Aloha | August 12, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

All this talk about Tasmania, but no mention of the wombats??

Posted by: Brag | August 12, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

My only hope is that reasonably thinking people will see that Cokie's comments are ridiculous and move on. Of course, this may be futile hoping on my part. We may not look Merican enough to ever be thought of as a SERIOUS state.

Now, if I can only get these blasted mail order companies to recognize us as a state so they will stop charging us double for shipping. I'll have to get Alaska to partner up with us in this protest movement.

Posted by: Aloha | August 12, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, re. your 3:04 today:

"...Having said that, wouldn't surprise me a bit if a given country's gymnastics team removed them as a matter of course. They could claim that there was an infection amongst the team where removal of teeth were said to be the treatment accoring to team doctors, or perhaps considered as a weight-saving measure. [watch out for medical treatment involving removal of appendixes, tailbones and fingernails. Next: Swim teams without ears or secondary sex characteristics in the name of hydrodynamic streamlining, and keep an eye out for excessive toe webbing].


Posted by: bc | August 11, 2008 9:22 AM"


Posted by: bc | August 12, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Watch it, Brag. My Dad was a wombat.

Posted by: jack | August 12, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think Hawaii made a big mistake putting their state capital on a remote island like that. There was plenty of room for it in the midwest, if they'd just looked around a bit. I'm sure something could have been worked out.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Native southerners pronounce Hawaii like this: Hu-WHY-yuh. The first time I heard this, it was in the context of vacationing. I had to ask someone for a translation, similar to pin, ahl, etc.

Posted by: jack | August 12, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm a native Southerner, and disagree. I would term it "congenital ignoramuses" pronounce it "Howahya." Fine, thanks.

Posted by: Jumper | August 12, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Jack.. you should hear Son of G describing the day at Queens when he went around asking if anyone had a pin. A straight pin--he needed it to reset his phone.

Everyone kept handing him a pen.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Tasmania, Hawaii, talk about islands, without mention of Tukangbes.

Posted by: Brag | August 12, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Judge: (to Lisa Simpson) I sentence you to a lifetime of horror on Monster Island. (to Lisa) Don't worry, it's just a name.

Cut to Monster Island; Lisa and others are chased by three monsters

Lisa: He said it was just a name!

Man running beside her: What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula.

Posted by: TBG | August 12, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG and DoC. I knew that about acetaminophen, but I'm not a drinker. I can't tell you the last time I had a glass (not to mention a sip) of wine. I think Tylenol does come out with a benadryl only product (or at least w/o the acetaminophen), but I haven't tried it.

I had my "annual" about a month ago and talked w/ my doctor about taking the Tylenol PM and he said it was okay (and he's a really, really good doc).

But thanks for the concern. Aren't virtual families nice? No family politics, just cool stuff. Can't beat it.

As for speed knitting, maybe I could enter that contest. It's been awhile since I conducted w/ the knitting kneedles, but I think I'd be pretty good at it. Now, actually making anything useful is another matter (maybe it's on page 2 of the instructions). . . .

I've never been to Hawaii -- if my body could stand the airplane ride without screaming, I'd like to go sometime. Keep the spare room ready, Aloha, eh? I'm a very good guest and bring nice host/hostess presents (and, no, not cream/chemical-filled cupcakes).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 12, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

ftb, we could go by boat. Think of all the knitting time we would have.

(Rethinking vow never to get on 'boat' again after the great whale watching debacle of 2004.)

Posted by: dr | August 12, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Even thinking about sea travel makes me seasick.

Vetoing that plan.

Posted by: dr | August 12, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, dr, I need mega-drugs to get on a boat. Really, really don't like them. When I've taken ferries in Europe (by virtue of the fact that the train I'm on gets on the ferry), I pace and pace and look at my watch and pace some more until we're on land again. One-half hour is a half hour too long, if ya ask me.

Someone should build a bridge to Hawaii. No, wait. . . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 12, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Mr. T and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I swear, the opportunity to go to Hawaii was the only reason he married me.


It just cracked me up that the airport at Kona, with just five gates, all of them basically huts with covered walkways to the terminal, has a runway that accommodates an L1011. I know, because I saw one on the tarmac.

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Hawaii in the Midwest--you arrive by prairie schooner, do buffalo surfing, drink mai-okies, dance the I-owa-hula to the sound of okieleles.

Posted by: Brag | August 12, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Gee this is such an interesting boodle/kit and I haven't even been to Australia! Or seen their kangaroos, or other exotic creatures. My cousin lived there for about five years, now lives in Hawaii, maybe I will get THERE, before he picks up and moves again.

Please don't kill all the queen anne's lace, or the batchelor buttons, they are so pretty along the roadside just now.

I'm sorry, but I'm tired of all the talk about Hillary, after all she did not win. And, I'm sick of Edwardsspeak, too.

So, why am I here on this beautful late afternoon? To talk boats from the last boodle.

Mudge, thank's so much for" the lesson of the masts" Could I have been thinking of six sheets to the wind? :-) The schooner was more likely three masted, now that I think about it. But I don't remember her name.

My maternal grandfather's ancestor came to this country to help settle New Sweden in this ship:

His name was Olaf Thorsson. He crossed from Sweden, with his family, in either the second or third crossing, arriving in what is now Delaware in 1641. We think he was convicted of a minor crime and was given the choice of prison or going to work for the colony. When we toured the replica in Norfolk, the captain had a copy of a ship's log which put Olaf in the second crossing, but other documents say he came in the third crossing of the ship. Once he served his time, he chose to remain and raised his family there. My mother, brother, two cousins and I all have the swedish blue eyes, same as my grandfather. I'm not an Ikea fan, but one of my son's is, so maybe it's in the genes.

Regarding, Martha's Vineyard, (still on Mudge's post) we stayed in Oaks Bluff while on the Island in a bed & breakfast very close to the ferry we brought our car over on. A little shop across the street sold all the black dog stuff. We brought back a black dog umbrella for our oldest son. He was delighted with it and hasn't lost it yet! I still have a black dog carry all for my library books. We were there in September, three years ago. Next time I would like to stay in Edgartown, actually I'd love to live there.....

Posted by: VintageLady | August 12, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Kona airport runway is left over from WW2. Maybe a stopover-refuling point for B29s. Brag?

Posted by: bh | August 12, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Ah to be as smart as George Will. 'propitiating'. Also know as appeasing by us ingorant ones.

Posted by: bh | August 12, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Kona Int'l opened in 1949, bh, and was never anything but a civilian airport. There is something called the "Old Kona Pairport," which is a state parl; don't know about that. If it had milutary use during the war, it would have been for smaller planes, certainly not B-29s. None would have been based in Hawaii anyway; they were based on Tinian. They may have stopped to refuel, but that's all. Lot of B-17s there early in the war, as recon planes.

VL, I'd love to live in Edgartown, too. My favorite town on MV. Hell, the whole island is my favorite town.

Oh, uh, it's still only "three sheets to the wind." Six sheets and you'd be blotto under the table.

Speaking of which, that imaginary lunch today was outstanding. Yoki, you had me in stitches with that anecdote. I think a couple of you got a little silly after we opened that fourth bottle of Prosecco, though. Still, the lemon sorbet food fight was kind of exciting -- and very cooling. (I think CP started it. You gotta watch that one, people! She sits quietly knitting, and then just when you turn your back...thwap.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Vintage Lady, Shakespeare said it best regarding this current cycle of political babble:

"Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interr'd with their bones."

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

So let it be with Caesar!

Yup, learned that speech as a sophomore in high school. We went to see the movie, and chanted the lines along with the actors.

Here's a take on the election that I like:

Mudge, I'll never let YOU near hushpuppies again. Honestly, using them to pelt CP. It was sacrilege!

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that America has been brainwashed in believing in the mythos that tiny leaders must necessarily have a Napoleonic complex.

We must promote US history better, including more emphasis on James Madison and other gnomic or nearly-gnomic leaders who were not at all inclined to say, conquer Europe.

James Madison WROTE the constitution and married Dolley who helped save treasures from the British. That's damn fine work.

Er, so he made a mistake in not avoiding war with the British, but you know those guys were still smarting about all the independence and tea in Boston Harbor, anyway. They were just picking on the short guy.

And there's... Okay, van Buren may not be the best role model there. How about MLK Jr? Not the tallest guy around.

Beethoven! Beethoven and Mozart both were short. St. Francis of Assisi was even shorter. And let's not forget Queen Victoria!

Blog link: "How big?" Very long list, organized in order of descending height.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

That was such fun, lunch mates. Let's do it again tomorrow!

Say, does anybody know of a good on-line map showing the DC area with neighbourhood labels? I don't have a good idea of how all the places we talk about relate to each other and the part of town I do know.

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Ah a prarie capital for Hawaii - what a great idea! That would solve our whole problem with air travel, over-priced housing, and toilet paper shortages during the dock strikes. Would also take us out of the hurricane zone.

You guys crack me up! This is why I love coming here.

bh - Kona airport, for whatever reason, has never seen fit to build a terminal with jetways. Hilo has them, Kahului Maui has them, even Lihue Kauai's got 'em. Maybe people in Kona just LIKE having the airplane exhaust blown at them while they're waiting in the brutally hot sun and humidity. I dunno. Go figure.

And, yes, the air travel time to Hawaii from the west coast is long, but not any longer than a flight from L.A. to NYC. I'm just glad it doesn't take 12 hours like it used to when commercial air travel first came to the islands in the 50s.

Price we pay for living in paradise!

Posted by: Aloha | August 12, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I pulled out the honeymoon scrapbook to look it up:

4 hours 45 minutes, Charlotte to LAX.

5 hours 5 minutes, LAX to Honolulu.

So, roughly ten hours from the east coast to Hawaii. Not a bad trip at all.

Posted by: slyness | August 12, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

ftb - you are welcome anytime! We've got a grass hut waitin' on the beach for ya!

Posted by: Aloha | August 12, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the homeowner association build... SIDEWALKS? This kind of "Get off my lawn!" attitude will just get worse as America ages.

And in good news, BSL in the Netherland has been proven to be a failure and will be dropped.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | August 12, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Evening all
A new twist to the old game of fishing,today my buddy and I were trying to catch the small fish. After caught they were put into a bucket of river water. But my buddy thought they should have some worms while the were in there,along with some rocks and grass(I guess like an aquarium.)

Alas,the 4 day weekend is almost over,what fun.

Last nights light show wasn't much,too many clouds,too much moon and it was cold to boot. perhaps tonight may be better.

A nice fire and maybe even a shooting star dance.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 12, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Here's a story about those swimming suits that I found fun to read.

I liked the author's comment that few of the intended customers are probably breast feeding.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 12, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Aloha, out of the hurricane zone, into the tornado zone. Not necessarily an improvement if your house is in the path.

I'm glad you all had a good time at lunch and look forward to my forthcoming hostess gifts! :-)

What if we barbecue tomorrow? Someone pick the place.

I'll start some bratwurst marinating in beer/sliced onions in the morning, then parboil them in the marinade before putting them on the grill.

CP, your penance is making Shaker Lemon Pie.

I have a friend from silversmith class who does shows with me. She knits with fine 28 or 30 gauge silver (or copper) and molds it over beads before making jewelry with it. Gorgeous, kind of spider-webby.

Everyone, make sure your computer virus definitions are up to date. I let mine fall just a few days behind and there's some very nasty, new stuff out there, all of which found my PC. It's taking a long time and multiple steps to wipe out, so forewarned . . .

Posted by: dbG | August 12, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

A neighbor once complained to Shiloh that I was using the area between the sidewalk and the road - an area she kept planted and mulched, but a public area nonetheless - as a litter box. He listened carefully to her complaint and responded "I'll talk to her about that" and the neighbor was perfectly satisfied. It appears that dogs lead to court cases.

Posted by: Shilohcat | August 12, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

In 1968 I worked for the Air force at Hickham AFB and was in the Coast Guard Reserve. We took our summer cruise from Honolulu to Jarvis Island (find that on a map) to re-establish the US claim and also provide a radio beacon for a University of Hawaii plane flying to Fanning Island. Jarvis Island had an emergency airfield built during WW2. The island was so flat and low to the water that when our reserve navigator came out on the bridge about 5:00 AM and said to stop as we were there, we chalked it up to inexperienced navigating as nothing showed on the radar. When it got light, there it was looking like a pool table. No vegetation higher than two inches.

I had port and starboard watches four to eight. Which meant I didn’t get breakfast or dinner for twelve days. Exciting dead reckoning navigation. Five days heading 180, five days 000. No GPS in those days.

Posted by: bh | August 12, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

SCC. chart

Posted by: bh | August 12, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, try this map:

And this isn't too bad in terms of neighborhoods, but it lacks a street overlay and locations of historic/important buildings

If you click on the name of a district in the wards, it'll give you another map on the right, with text about that neighborhood. If you click on the map, it'll expand and get to a map screen with a magnifiying glass.

This one is pretty good, combining neighborhoods AND streets:

Sorry about the hush puppies, slyness. I couldn't resist. ([in voice of innocent umbrage}: And SHE started it!!)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 'Mudge. Appreciate.

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is so ridiculous that I have to laugh. Guess this ad agency will be looking for new work.,100152

Posted by: Aloha | August 12, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Wowser. I was watching the Olympics on Radio-Canada and they had that nice lass from Rouyn-Noranda on. She finished 4th in weight lifting in the less than 63kg (say 139 lbs) category. She cleaned and jerked 130kg (286lbs) yet finished 4th !!! Talk about the weaker sex.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 12, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse


If you take the full resolution version of the Wikipedia map that Mudge suggested (which is very nice) and play around with the Google Map of DC, you should get a good feel for the various neighborhoods.

Posted by: pj | August 12, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

That's not dissimilar to the old ASL sign for China (still used in some regions).

The "newer" sign is actually based on the chinese sign for Beijing.

The actual Chinese sign for China looks similar to the Pakistani sign for Pakistan and also to "communist" and "word". It simply indicates the "middle" symbol for China.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 12, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Phelps wins the gold for the 100m butterfly, his 10th, sets record for all-time medals, sets record for the event. History has just been made.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Hi Boodlers one and all!

Back from a trip to Maryland to visit all manner of relatives and a boodler or two. I had the great good fortune to meet Scottynuke and his lovely wife and bc. It was very nice to meet them after all these months of appreciation of their boodling. I basically went from meal to meal to meal and was able to have one of those meals with them. There was lots of family mania and good times in spectacular weather. I capped off my visit with a trip to an orchard near Thurmont, MD for some peaches and walked out with a homemade blueberry pie that didn't last long at my sister's home. The hubby was not at all pleased that the blueberry pie didn't make it home with me.

I am sorry to have missed the Maine kit AND the George Bush-is-embarrassing-to-watch kit as I have lots of observations about both subjects! Hopefully I will have another chance. If any of you ever have the opportunity to spend a week on Tricky Pond in Maine, go for it!

I did backboodle-skim and I had to slow down when I glimpsed "urine is sterile"....HAD to get to the bottom of that one. Also, I burst out laughing at RDP's 7:31 from whatever day about Joan Rivers, "back when she was mostly flesh".
Does that say it all or what?

ftb - I hope your ankle is better! Ouch!

I think I may have the opportunity to meet another boodler next week! My son is taking a look at George Mason University so I'm hoping I will get to meet the inimitable TBG...we'll see!

ok, enough boodlehogging! Back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Posted by: Kim | August 12, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Good evening. I'm dropping by briefly. Brag, I love wombats! I hope they find megawombat skeletons. I bet those megawombats could take the megaroos any day.

We'll be happy to host the Hawaii state capitol. We've got lots of room here.

Ivansdad told me a story about the Olympics opening ceremony. I hadn't heard it yet, I guess, because I'm getting all my Olympic news from the Boodle. Anyhoo, apparently they had booked a seven-year-old Chinese girl to sing the anthem. They decided she wasn't cute enough, so they had her sing it backstage while a cuter nine-year-old lip synched to the crowd. [Imagine - both these kids are now messed up; one wasn't cute enough and the other couldn't sing.] The stated explanation was that it was for the good of the state, or something like that. This just reinforces my long-held view that the Chinese, at least the governing powers, don't have any real concept of the individual. I think this is behind the mindset that makes possible the recent use of poisons in drugs and toys, and the willingness to cut corners on, for example, school building standards and contagious disease reporting. However, apparently many ordinary Chinese civilians, when told of the switch, strongly disapproved. This means that, from my perspective, there is hope.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 12, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, for pity's sake!

Posted by: Yoki | August 12, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

US and Chinese girls now beginning gymnastics finals; Phelps returns for another medal event in about 50 minutes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, they were talking about that young girl when I drove to work today - all that came to mind was Potemkin Villages (do I have that right - wonky memory).

They also mentioned that the fireworks - footprints, some were recorded and digitally inserted but have heard much more about that.

I am thoroughly enjoying watching Phelps - he is a great representative of your country not just for his success - his demeanor is very classy.

Shreik I saw those women weight lifting - I am so in awe.

Posted by: dmd | August 12, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

That Chinese anthem story, from the London Telegraph:

Beijing Olympics: Faking scandal over girl who 'sang' in opening ceremony

Chinese officials have admitted deceiving the public over another highlight of the Olympic opening ceremony: the picture-perfect schoolgirl who sang as the Chinese flag entered the stadium was performing to another girl's voice.

By Richard Spencer in Beijing
Last Updated: 8:29PM BST 12 Aug 2008

Lin Miaoke who lip-synched at the opening ceremony over the voice of Yang Peiyi [right], who was considered unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth
Lin Miaoke who lip-synched at the opening ceremony over the voice of Yang Peiyi [right] who was considered unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

The girl in the red dress with the pigtails, called Lin Miaoke, 9, and from a Beijing primary school, has become a national sensation since Friday night, giving interviews to all the most popular newspapers.

But the show's musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called "Hymn to the Motherland".

At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.

"This was a last-minute question, a choice we had to make," the ceremony's musical designer, Chen Qigang, said. "Our rehearsals had already been vetted several times - they were all very strict. When we had the dress rehearsals, there were spectators from various divisions, including above all a member of the politburo who gave us his verdict: we had to make the swap."

Mr Chen's interview gave an extraordinary insight into the control exercised over the ceremony by the Games' political overseers, all to ensure the country was seen at its best.

Officials have already admitted that the pictures of giant firework footprints which marched across Beijing towards the stadium on Friday night were prerecorded, digitally enhanced and inserted into footage beamed across the world.

Mr Chen said the initial hopefuls to sing the anthem had been reduced to ten, and one, a ten-year-old, had originally been chosen for the quality of her voice. But she, too, had fallen by the wayside because she was not "cute" enough.

"We used her to sing in all the rehearsals," Mr Chen said. "But in the end the director thought her image was not the most appropriate, because she was a little too old. Regrettably, we had to let her go."

At that point Yang Peiyi stepped up to the plate.

"The main consideration was the national interest," he said. "The child on the screen should be flawless in image, in her internal feelings, and in her expression. In the matter of her voice, Yang Peiyi was flawless, in the unanimous opinion of all the members of the team."

That was until attention turned to Yang Peiyi's teeth. Nevertheless, Mr Chen thought the end result a perfect compromise.

"We have a responsibility to face the audience of the whole country, and to be open with this explanation," he said. "We should all understand it like this: it is a question of the national interest. It is a question of the image of our national music, our national culture.

"Especially at the entrance of our national flag, this is an extremely important, an extremely serious matter.

"So we made the choice. I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi - after all, we have a perfect voice, a perfect image and a perfect show, in our team's view, all together."

One question remains: why was Lin Miaoke allowed to give interviews in which she lapped up the praise for her singing. Mr Chen said she might not have known that the words she was singing could not be heard. She had, in fact, only known she was going to perform at all 15 minutes beforehand.

Yang Peiyi is said to have reacted well to the disappointment. "I am proud to have been chosen to sing at all," she is reported to have said.

The link shows the faces of the girls:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

I'm reporting live from my deck, in position with my feet up on the rail, tipped back in my chair, armed only with this laptop, and a glass of port.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am actually wearing clothing at the moment. Gladiator sandals count, don't they?

The moon's still up and there are some wispy high clouds, but there are plenty of shooting stars overhead tonight, I've seen three since I began writing this comment about five or six minutes ago.

Getting a little chilly out here, may need to head inside for a fresh coat of oilve oil and another glass of port.

Getting these dangerous gigs to be embedded in planned Suburban communities and report on stellar phenomena isn't easy. One has to get the most out of it, to communicate this experience as best one can.

I'm doing my part by howling at the moon.
Either I need a haircut (it sure isn't perfect), or I'm immersing myself in the experience.


Whoops. Whacked myself a good one in the act of chasing a shooting star across the deck, an act which terminated abruptly when I arrived at the far deck rail. Ow!

But at least I'm back now. Was gone, running with the pack for awhile, chasing the skies and anythting else that moved.

I'd ask why my mouth tastes like old sandals, but looking at the state of them and noting that my neck is sore, I'm thinking they just became chew toys for when I'm dealing with my lycanthropy.


Posted by: bc | August 12, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Phelps wins 11th, leading the men's team in 800-meter relay, breaking world record by FIVE SECONDS and winning by maybe 7 or 8 body lengths, first time under 7 minutes. Somebody has figured out how to strap an Evinrude outboard to these guys' feet.


Meanwhile, the top Chinese girl on the balance beam just fell off, giving us a chance to catch up. Russians seem to be ahead of both US and China, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 12, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks for the link to the IKEA name site - how fun - will have to send that to the kiddo. Speaking of whom, yesterday he replied to an email that I sent 2 weeks ago telling him I'd be on the other side of the country. He's thinking about quitting his job in a few months to backpack around Europe. Which sounds like fun - but the cautious mom part of me is wondering if he'll ever get another job. I didn't tell him that though - reminded him he has second cousins in Europe, if he needs their addresses...

Gina Miles of the US got the individual silver in equestrian eventing. Amy Tryon was eliminated in the cross country phase yesterday.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 12, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Chinese and US girls all did poorly on balance beam (Sacramone fell off, too). Going into final floor event, we're one point behind Chi for the gold. Romania and Russia fighting for very distant third. Shawn Johnson nailed her balance beam--best of the night.

And *&^%$*&^% I can't stay awake much longer.

Crap, Sacramone just blew the floor event. The fall from the beam killed her concentration. Don't think we can catch the Chinese now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 13, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Good interview with James Hansen on Charlie Rose. Off to stare at the sky.

Posted by: Boko999 | August 13, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Hi all. Keeping a low profile as I am getting ready for the big interview this Friday in San me. Also been relishing times I have made my boss eat his words in front of all. Yessssss. %&^(*&)*(*

I've also been volunteering at the local Obama headquarters...a prerequisite now to qualify for tickets to the Obama acceptance speech at the DNC in Denver--hey, a once in a lifetime opportunity!

At first it was like..."what a drag" calling pages of strangers labeled 'Undecided' or 'Republican.' But having done it for 2, 3-hour shifts (the minimum) I can say it was invigorating and inspiring...talking with regular folks, many of whom are still undecided. And I made some new friends...rainbow coalition to be sure. Try it...ya might like it.

Posted by: eidrib | August 13, 2008 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Early dinner leads to early nap leads to late ight websurfing...

picture of rhinocerous-like marsupial megafauna

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:15 AM | Report abuse

Me too. Off to check if the sky has cleared.

Posted by: DNA Girl | August 13, 2008 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Clinton - Smart, honorable, shrewd - These I'll (mostly) buy. But fun, she's (mostly) not.

If God had wanted Tasmania's giant kangaroos and marsupial 'rhinos' and 'leopards' to roam the earth, he wouldn't have made them so tasty!

Posted by: Bob S. | August 13, 2008 4:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all,

Best wishes for your big job interview, birdie (eidrib) and it's interesting that you are making calls for Obama. We have gotten "real people" calls here too from the democrats, but only robo calls from the republicans, guess they feel we are a waste of their time, and they are right.

Interesting article this morn regarding "why the audiences at the Olympics are skimpy". It was announced in July that the tickets were sold out, but lots of no-shows thus far. Well, nobody asked me, but the murder and injury of two USA citizens while sightseeing could account for a little of it, the smog could be a legitimate reason and of course, watching these events AT HOME on TV is a big, big plus. I feel for the shopkeepers, tho. Article sez one hotel has lots empty of rooms for something like $28.00 per night, can that be so??? Could be a closet??? Anyway, here's the link:

Posted by: VintageLady | August 13, 2008 5:34 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Not much in the news or op-eds this morning. I see VL is already up. A quick scan of the horizon shows she and I are all alone up here. C'mon, Dawn Patrol, we gotta get a few more of you airborne. Scotty? Brag? Yello? Cassandra?

The US girls gymnasts have a day of rest and recuperation before they perform again tomorrow. Hope poor Alicia Sacramone gets it together in time. She's the team captain, too.

OK, gotta run--got a very busy day ahead.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 13, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Uh oh, bear attack(!),0,5454772.story

Posted by: kbertocci | August 13, 2008 6:28 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. The teenage bear was probably thinking like a Tasmanian; "kids, hmmmmm".
Witch no.1 is really annoyed at the CBC/Radio-Canada. They bought the cheap Olympic package and it includes virtually no equestrian event. And the foreign TV stations (like CBS) and web sites are blocking the events to Canadian listener/surfers to comply with Chinese dikdats. Oh well.

Posted by: shreiking denizen | August 13, 2008 6:40 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, morning, friends. Yes, Mudge, I'm up, have been for some time, but just getting to the computer. This Wednesday, the busy day. And Tuesday, was busy too.

Now the swimsuits are a problem? Just the suit gives a person an edge of two percent? Wow! That is something else. So what do the folks do that don't have this bad suit? Get mad? I'll bet it doesn't come in my size.

I think it's raining here. We're suppose to get water today, and the temps are going to be low. I'm loving it already.

If Chris Matthews couldn't talk about Hillary Clinton, his mouth would fall off. On every show, Hillary Clinton's name falls out of his mouth. The man is fixated on the woman. Perhaps he is secretly in love with Clinton or does his dislike of her border on something else?

Every night that I get home, I hit the sack. Cannot get to the computer, just too tired. And I'm getting home between nine and nine thirty. The days are too long.

Have a fantastic day, folks. It is suppose to be gray, cloudy, rainy and all that, and I have to be in, but it's all good.

Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, up, up, and good morning to all.*waving*

Time to swim, and without the suit. Ah, the horror, the horror.

Posted by: cassandra s | August 13, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Been stealth boodling by phone for a few days and missed three kits. My gosh that Joel was fired up from his vacation.

The compete nude law may break several kiddie porn laws in the women's gymnastic events. One of the synchronized diving (and don't even bother to ask me if I think that is a real sport) girls was fifteen. Are their any female competitors other than that swimming mom that I could legally buy a beer for?

I entirely missed the poor abused gymnasts debate, so I will pick that scab now. I had always heard that the age was raised because of the abuses aimed at making younger gymnasts delay puberty so their training doesn't go to waste. Growth hormones related to puberty add body fat in all the wrong places (to them, perfectly fine places to me) and alters the bodies center of gravity. This was done with a combination of medicine and diet so that menstruation was delayed or eliminated.

The goal of the rules change was to get the girls out of the range where the delayed pubescence strategy worked and get them into a range where they at least approximated their final height.

My modest proposal is that rather than rely on easily forged passports, each girl must present a DNA-tested used tampon to prove that she really does qualify for WOMEN'S gymnastics.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 13, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Mega-fauna must have tasted like mega-chicken. Look how fast dodo birds went extinct.

The only problem with the "overwhelmed by human migration" theory is that how did all of Africa's mega-fauna survive? Is it because they lived around proto-humans for millions of years and were wise to all the chase-them-off-a-cliff tricks?

Nobody ever whines about micro-fauna going extinct. Does it? Or does nobody care because they don't look all scary on the covers of science-pr0n magazines?

Posted by: yellojkt | August 13, 2008 7:16 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. It's a cool and rainy day in the Carolinas. No walk this morning for me!

Sorry I missed the dawn patrol. I was up early and out the door at 6:15 to take Mr. T to the airport. That's an (early) hour out of my day.

The big discussion in my household is media bias. Monday morning, a fire truck was responding to a call and was headed north in a southbound lane to get around traffic at a congested intersection, something they have to do all the time. A kid in an SUV made a right turn and collided with the truck, which had its lights and sirens on and stopped when the driver saw the SUV coming at them. The headline? Firetruck Hits SUV. ARRGGHH!!!

Posted by: slyness | August 13, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I'm late, 'Mudge, had to do a below-treetop recon of I-270...

I think frostbitten can relate.

Can't really see why folks are trying to make some big deal of the animated footsteps "fireworks" at the opening ceremonies. BOTH commentators on NBC's broadcast clearly said the images were something other than live, no attempt made to imply otherwise. Still a fantastic spectacle.

Sneaks, did you see Francona talking about "kicking a field goal" after the game last night? *chortles* I mean, winning a baseball game 19-17??? Tied an AL record for most runs in a game, and Big Papi with TWO 3-RUN HOMERS IN THE FIRST INNING!!! Sorry, little excited there.

And in the "Aw, poor you" department:

Tough tympanies, Teddie boy...

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 13, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Flying low and waving at Boodlers. Zoomed past the Observatory. The Evil One was feeding old, surplus Cold War doggie treats to the pooches of war. The pooches yapped in delight.

Posted by: Brag | August 13, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good no-rain-today morning to everyone. We are now tied for the fourth rainiest summer since the 1950’s and the grass is growing like crazy.

Scotty, I kept checking on the game last night. I figured they had it in the bag after the first inning but “S” actually stayed awake until after 11 pm to see the end. Doesn’t say much for the pitching staffs or our new knuckleball guy. Oh well. Still tired from having so much fun on Monday.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | August 13, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Ikea has a little computer desk named Dave, and my new $22 dining room chairs from their as-is room are Roger.

The unsubstantiated guessing has been that Africa has megafauna precisely because they've been dealing with humans for a long time. Also, perhaps, with disease limitations on humans.

North Africa and the Middle East had quite a lot of megafauna in historic times--lions and whatnot.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 13, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 7:25 AM

What? The dodo birds? All accounts say they were yummy.

In boodle back discussion: ftb, much condolences on your fall, I tore my ACL on a simple slip, so you never know what will go. Stay safe and see a doctor immediately if things don't feel right.

eidrib, good luck. You have us as references as to how you spend your downtime. Perhaps best not to mention your imaginary friends at first.

The whole Olga Korbut/Nadia Comenici/Mary Lou Retton role model cause and effect continuum deserves serious discussion. I'm glad to see girls have multiple athletic role models nowadays and that you don't have to be a pint-sized pixie to make the Wheaties box.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 13, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Good morning...have posted a new kit...more to come later.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 13, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

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