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Calamity Roundup

Jeepers, the charts on the front page are about as bone-chilling as charts could be. Dollar's down, oil's up, stocks are down. Everyone's diving for cover. There's talk that the Treasury could conceivably lose its AAA rating. Thank God I'm personally in such a stable industry, and my 401k is loaded with a secure newspaper stock. (I've also decided to take a strong position in the very underrated industry known as alchemy.)

Lots of scary quotes in the Post story this morning on the falling dollar:

"This is a revaluation of the U.S.," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a top Treasury Department official during the Carter administration. "Growth is going to be slower, the budget deficit higher, but mostly, the whole U.S. financial system has been thrown into question. People around the world are looking at this and saying, 'Holy Toledo.' " ...

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, said the fear of inflation provoked by the $700 billion plan -- without figuring out a way to pay for it -- was behind the market's dramatic movement. "Where's the tax increase to fund this bailout? Where is the cut in programs? The government's not doing either -- they're just going to print money," he said. "And if you think inflation is the answer, take a trip to Zimbabwe and see how it's working for them."

I've said it before: We're becoming a socialist nation. Has anyone checked on the editorial page folks at the Wall Street Journal to make sure they're okay?

[I'm still nosing around this bailout story. Later this morning I'll go to Dale City. I'll be the one with the map, looking lost. I think you go to Woodbridge and take a right. Should be a great adventure.]


Meanwhile, the McCain camp is furious that journalists aren't paying more attention to irrelevant details about Obama and Biden. Does anyone honestly think that, in a time of crisis, we need more coverage of Bill Ayers? Or Hunter Biden?

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 23, 2008; 8:08 AM ET
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Next: Crisis Management



Posted by: Kerric | September 23, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Joel, it is AAA rating? I know, I know, the world is falling apart and an English major nitpicks.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse


Just when you thought the MBPH Weekend couldn't get no more funnerer...

Celebrate 100 Years of Union Station at the Washington Union Station Centenial Celebration. Saturday, October 4, 10am4pmm & Sunday, October 5, 124pmm.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

*Dusting off my "Repent, the end is near" sandwich board.*

Posted by: Don from I-270 | September 23, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Barock the vote.

Posted by: dbG | September 23, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Ooh. Dale City. Dangerous territory. For here there be outlet stores. And manly ones at that. You know, with power tools and stuff.

You must be strong and resist the sly seductive allure of Potomac Mills Mall. Sure, you can save money on stuff compared to what you would pay at full-price stores, but consumption sometimes goes up even more. (It's the Costco effect writ large.)

Before you know it you will have blown all your discretionary income on discount barbecue utensils and Legos and find yourself taking high-interest loans from suspicious characters in the food court.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Thanks slyness ...

Posted by: Achenbach | September 23, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Wish I could be there to serve as a guide for JA. It helps to know that the subdivisions along Dale Boulevard are arranged alphabetically with Cloverdale one of the oldest just off I-95, and Queensdale one of the newest near Hoadly Rd. (where mailing addresses turn to Manassas)

reposted from last boodle-
g'morning boodle. I told Mr. F that instead of worrying about whether or not we'll be able to retire at 55, with retirement defined as working for fun or fulfillment more than money, I am considering myself retired already. This is not unlike Martooni's plan for handling today.

After some investigation I'm convinced any bail out must include both an equity stake for taxpayers and a limit to executive pay. I agree with the critics of the plan who point out the impossibility of putting a value on all the bad debt, if we risk paying more than it's worth-say 60 cents on the dollar when it should be 20-then we should reap the benefit if we get a relative bargain.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I guess it's a good thing that I have to work 3 more years. Hopefully by that time this mess will have been sorted out, our investment portfolio will at least get back to where it was a year ago, we can sell the house and make a little money, and head for the (western PA) hills. I think the McCain camp is fulminating as a way to try and distract from the fact that he is almost clueless about this whole economic spiral. As recently as a week ago he was still saying the the fundamentals were sound. Now he says get the bailout done, never mind the details, like giving Paulson the singluar power to rule the entire world's economy. A little thought and perspective certainly can't hurt. Given yesterday's results, the market doesn't seem to like what it's seen so far.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 23, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad there are still frivolous things to read in the paper. Robin Givhan's reports from the fashion world...

"The most curious thing I've seen on the runway thus far has been the stockings at Alberta Ferretti. They're like stockings from the pre-Spandex days when they were made solely out of nylon. The sheer stockings in shades of orange and sky blue were droopy and twisted around the models' legs. On purpose. The models looked like they'd been dressed by lady hobos."

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I would just like to note that this physics major also got his undies in a twist over "it's".

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 23, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and BTW, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is now saying we need to double the troop strength in Afganistan and shell out billions more $$ to try and pacify the country. Uh, where are those troops coming from, not the mention the dollars?

Posted by: ebtnut | September 23, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

It's pretty hard getting elected if you promise higher taxes, lower benefits and hard times to come. Even if both candidates know that this is exactly what is going to happen. So I doubt very much the next President's party will be re-elected in 2012. People will be mad at him.
I think it's better to read the fine print in this bail-out law, fine prints were ignored by too many on those funny mortgage contracts. The bit about about having to address Paulson as His Majesty Henry IX bothers me a tad.
I wonder if having presided over this financial collapse does improve Dubya's chance at being judged the worst president ever? Was he in competition with Hoover?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

JA-Cheshire Plaza, located at the corner of Dale Boulevard and Minnieville Rd., has 2 Starbucks. Go across the lot to the one in the Safeway if the line is too long in the real Starbucks.

Also, stop by the ice rink and Hylton Boys and Girls Club (both on Dale Blvd., 6.5 miles from I-95) I've always felt you could really take the pulse of the community in these two places. Ask the staff at the rink how the private lessons and skate sales are going, then ask the staff at the B&G Club if they have a waiting list for after school care? (cheaper than most providers, but a lot of McMansion dwellers avoided it "too ethnic" for them)

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers: I once did an urban hike from National Airport to the Lincoln Memorial, pre-Metro. Strange, the things that college kids will do.

These days, wandering in and out of the Smithsonian art museums in the Old Patent Office seems more rewarding. That neighborhood has really come to life over the past twenty years.

It is astonishing to see how Fannie/Freddie and much of Wall Street just (figuratively) burned down. Poof!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 23, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Just *who* gets bailed out in this deal? Certainly *not* the guy who's lost his house. Scream all you want about the fat cats, they are the ones whose hide gets saved.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | September 23, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, to answer your question from the last Boodle. you can be my wingman any time.

Who was it yesterday who said they missed Nani? I was thinking about her and miss her, too.

Yes, the calamity roundup. Funny you should bring that up, Joel. As a writer and sometime amateur historian, I have several times seriously asked myself what it must have felt like to live in a period of great historical turmoil and uncertainty, when everyone, kings and princes as well as the man-in-the-street, had basically no idea what was going to happen to the world as they knew it. I think these times could be characterized by that sinking feeling one gets at the pit of one's stomach when disaster looms, when events have spun out of control, when no one knows what to do or how to do it, when Life and Nature themselves seem to have conspired against not only you, but against, basically, everyone.

There are a handful of times that come readily to mind:

1) Living in France and Englad during the first half of WWII, when the future was nothing but bleak, Europe was being overrun, and there didn't appear to be any help on the horizon. (Intellectually, I have to add Russia into this during the same time period, though it is difficult to do. Likewise, I have to add Germany, Italy and Japan to it during the second half of the war, when they were loosing and it was Götterdämmerung Time. I suspect is was as terrifying being an average German or Japanese citizen in 1944 as it was being a Frenchman or and Englishman in 1940.)

2) The Great Depression, 1929 to about 1934 or 1935, when the economy collapsed and the Dust Bowl happened, and the entire country went througth something we are only know beginning to understand on an emotional level.

3) The entirety of the Russian Revolution and Civil War, for anybody in Russia regardless of political persuasion (or none at all), starting about 1916 and going to, say, 1925 or 1926, and maybe throwing in the later purges. But basically 1917-24 (a period I have been researching and writing about quite a lot. Scares the bejaysus out of me.) As bad as WWII was, I'm beginning to think that this time and place might just have been the single worst epoch and disaster of varieties of misery in all of human history. It's chief competitor seems to me to be:

4) The Black Death, the period of the plague, 1340 to about 1400 in Europe. (Yes, yes, I know about worldwide. But I admit to being Eurocentric.)

Not only as a nation but perhaps as most of Western Civilization (and attaching a lot of Asia into it), we have become way too complacent and accepting of a basically stable and seemingly "safe" world. Yes, there are always hurricanes and volcanoes and wars and things, but by and large for the past 60 years, which is most of the entire lifetimes of most of us, as a nation and a civilization, we haven't had to look into into the abyss (except for a couple of really spooky moments during the Cold War, which many of you also were too young to internalize).

Abyss-looking is not fun, but it is starting to get to the point where people are again thinking about it, and thinking what a modern version of the Great Depression would look like. And the only good thing I can think of about the GrDep. was that nobody knew what it would be like when it happened, so it was all "new" to them (but still pretty frightening). Now, I think we have much more active imaginations (and perhaps a lot less "character"), and I think we can imagine whole levels of Hieronymus Boschian nightmares that were basically unavailable to the psyches of people in the 1930s (not so sure about people in the 1340s -- they might have had a more direct accessibility to the notions of Hell on Earth than we do today).

Let me ask this: how many of you have ever woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat caused not by some specific event or thing you were worried about, but just a generalized sense of existential Kierkegaardian dread? A show of hands, please?

Um...sory to have disturnbed your day. This abyss-staring business can be unsettling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

RD... does that desk have room for me under it, too?

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It's not necessarily making Paulson king that bothers me. It's the idea of making *anyone who holds that position at any time in the future* king that worries me quite a bit. And it should worry the Republicans, too, if you get my drift.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 23, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

On a lighter note, after taking Gene W's poll today, I realize how full of cr@p I really think he is.

But I think today I really would like my biggest worry to be whether milk chocolate or dark is superior.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 23, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Perfect post Mudge to go with the dark skies and rain we have here.

Visited a new historic site near our fair city yesterday. Should I say newly marked and cleared of undergrowth? It was the CCC Camp where Papa Frostbitten worked after it became clear the South Dakota farm was not going to provide enough sustenance to keep 10 bodies and souls together. Not much remains except a few building foundations, and the metal bits of a 14 hole outhouse.

PF's decision to stay in our part of the world has never made more sense than it does now. Of the 8 siblings in his farm family all graduated from high school and a few went on to teacher's college in SD. He was well educated for the time and brilliant (or so says his adoring grand daughter). Many men of his generation went east to find their fortune. But, the appeal of living in a place where you could drop off the economic system radar and grow, hunt, fish, trap, gather and barter for all you needed was undeniable.

I wish I'd talked to him more about what it was like to leave the SD farm for the CCC. What did that abyss look like?

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, Rush has been snubbed once again by the Rock n' Roll HoF...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Can Paulsen and Bernanke actually take over the US Government?

What else can they do?

I wrote something silly about it on the 10thcircle.

Enjoy, and try not to think about it.


Posted by: bc | September 23, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse


I like pie.

Puppies are cuddly.


Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, that was a great post. I think, however, that Elie Wiesel would suggest that you add the Holocaust to the list of abysses. The thread linking together these events (wanted to call them abyssinian, but thought suddenly of cats) is the "convenience" of scapegoating -- "if only *xyz* weren't around, my life would be better." Insert convenient scapegoat of choice.

My world view is much more expansive and inclusive than most -- coming from an exceptionally narcissistic and abusive family dynamic, I could have chosen (like my brother) to follow that well-worn rut. I didn't. I knew, somewhat subliminally, that life didn't have to be that way, and that I could have a reasonably good life not desperately (because that's what it is, deep down) wanting to kill somebody (literally or figuratively) to enhance my own feelings of self worth.

On that note, gotta go to the euphemism.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 23, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Junior year was American history when I was in high school. I remember talking to my grandfather about the GD, as part of an assignment in history that year. I wish I remembered more about what he said. He talked about the bank runs in the town near where he lived.

In August 1932, their home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. My grandparents and their five children lived in a 400 square foot hut until my grandfather could build a new house, a process that took several years. How they did it, I will never know. Adversity kept them close together; their family love is a legacy my cousins and brother and I all cherish.

They grew and hunted their food, so they were never hungry. My guess is that the rest of the family and their church ensured that they may have looked into the abyss but never fell in.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

There's always room under my desk. I am thinking of putting in a nice sunken couch.

Regarding facing the abyss, I mentioned this before some time ago with regard to global warming, but I think it helps provide some perspective about interesting periods in history.

Sitting on my desk is a copper medallion with my name on it from 1909. It was issued to my grandfather soon after he emigrated from Italy. If he had known that the next fifty years would include two devastating world wars, a horrific outbreak of influenza, the slaughter of millions of Jews, a massive economic downturn, and the development of nuclear weaponry he might have been tempted to immediately grab a large stone and jump into the cold waters of the Atlantic.

But I, for one, and glad he did not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse


Sawdust isn't as tasty as pie.

I like blue.


Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

There's a famous map of population decreases in Germany during the 30-year war.

The Fall of Rome was, according to some, a calamity of the worst kind, especially for Britain. Others think the barbarians were maligned.

China seems to have a calamitous history, what with the Warring States, epidemics at least as bad as anything in Europe, and the Great Taiping Revolt at roughly the same time as our Civil War. I'm puzzled at how the mighty Qing (Ching) Dynasty rotted away to a point where a civil war costing some 20 million lives could happen.

John Lukacs' "Budapest 1900: a portrait of a city and its culture" lovingly portrays the city's thriving intellectual life. You'd think that this great flour-milling city would have far greater prospects in the new century than, say, Minneapolis. As a coda to his book Lukacs explains the calamities that befell his beloved city.

Posted by: David Martin | September 23, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

See? I told you the feds'd print more money. *l, since the Cranes ought to be enriched* I was listening to MSNBC last night and heard one commentator (Pat Buchanan) say the present options are either to print money or to go a-borrowin' from overseas, from countries such as China.

While we had a guest Kit last night, I wandered over to Dubner's and Levitt's Freakonomics blog at the NYT and skimmed the column by the guest commentator John Steele Gordon. It struck me when Gordon wrote that we used to have a country of haves and have-nots in the early 1930s, Steele linking to photos by Walker Evans. Today, Gordon asserts, we have a country of have and have-mores (and whiners, too?) and the type of poeverty as depicted in Evans' photos just doesn't exist today.

My mind wandered back to my reading last Sunday of the Modesto Bee, and the start that Sunday of a week's series about the Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to California. Since we were flying home to Texas, I knew I would miss the Wednesday feature, which was about the iconic Dust Bowl mother that photographer Dorothea Lange had captured with her camera (her images are similar to those by Walker Evans). Little did I realize (or had I forgotten?) that several of that mother's children now live in Modesto, where the mother settled as well. Science Tim and I had a discussion about that mother in the Lange photo some time ago on the blog.

Here's the story, as updated by Modesto Bee columnist Jeff Jardine. I wonder what photo will come to represent the current hard times? And will the hard times presently ever rival those of the Dust Bowl era? Of course, I think of author Tim Egan, too.

First handful of grafs:

As a junior high school student in Santa Clara in 1974, Sheryl Brady opened her U.S. history workbook and saw a familiar face in a famous photograph.

"I went up to Mr. Hannah and said, 'There's my grandmother,' " said Brady, 47, who lives in Turlock.

"That's nice, Sheryl," Mr. Hannah replied. "Now go sit down."

"I said, 'No kidding, Mr. Hannah. That is my grandmother,' " Brady said. "And he said, 'You're serious.' "

The photo was Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," taken in 1936 at a pea pickers' labor camp in San Luis Obispo County and long considered the most representative and pertinent image of the Dust Bowl era.

Lange never asked the names of the woman and three children she photographed that day while working for the Farm Security Administration, and their identities remained a mystery for more than 40 years.

Posted by: Loomis | September 23, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Not last Sunday, but the Sunday before last...

Posted by: Loomis | September 23, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

From /i/Saturday/i/ by Ian McEwan:

"On a recent Sunday evening Theo came up with an aphorism: the bigger you think, the crappier it looks. Asked to explain he said, 'When we go on about the big things, the political situation, global warming, world poverty, it all looks really terrible, with nothing getting better, nothing to look forward to. But when I think small, closer in--you know, a girl I've just met, or this song we're going to do with Chas, or snowboarding next month, then it looks great. So this is going to be my motto--think small.'"

There is real truth in this. When you talk to people who lived through the Great Depression, they nearly always say, "We didn't know we were poor." They weren't miserable. People adapt.

Modern Americans, on the other hand, are remarkably gloomy (and panicky) considering our affluence (and stability.)

Posted by: kbertocci | September 23, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

RD's desk? Why not RD's shed. He grows tomatoes and wine grapes. Sounds like a plan for end times.

Frosti, here are some specifics on a steady state economy, which always includes including a reasonable scale for executive pay. The military and the university have reasonable models with huge ways to rank experience and reputation OTHER than simply financial. But while we are tinkering, here are a few other ideas.

(Shiloh, avert your eyes, I am sure you can pick this apart. However, indulge me and Frosti -- heartland progressives -- and besides, howabout we pick apart conventional economic thinking occasionally)

Taxing what we want less of (depletion and pollution), and ceasing to tax what we want more of (income, value added) would seem reasonable—as the bumper sticker puts it, “tax bads, not goods”.

LENDING (Usury with some check and values applied, Wilbrod)
Commercial banks would make their income by financial intermediation (lending savers’ money for them) as well as by service charges on checking accounts, rather than by lending at interest money they create out of nothing.

In other words, income is the maximum that can be consumed while keeping productive capacity (capital) intact. Any consumption of capital, manmade or natural, must be subtracted in the calculation of income.


Read more, especially the ten-point summary of a sustainable steady state economy at the end.

Shiloh, your assignment is to read that entire post, before you reply to me. You can still earn a top grade on your post, should you disagree with me. :)

Off to teach. The kidlings are scared. Some are having trouble with their loans, especially the ones that look good but are really commercial products.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 23, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Here's where I start working the crossword or take off for yoga., although I do like having the paper version in my driveway every morning. My 82 year old mom who lives in a small town in Ohio, is a retired nurse, and spends her day in the garden or at an antique shop or with a history book in her hands--she has talked this same stuff for a long time. How could this little old lady who struggled to pay her bills all her life, see what's coming and get her money under the mattress while the "smarties" as she calls journalists wait until recently to get on the money boat and start working the story. I get it but just can't figure out how to explain it to her.

Posted by: lisa h. | September 23, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

ftb, I gave a lot of thought to the Holocaust (being somewhat oversensitive to that subkect) and tend to include it as a subset of the greater WWII experience.

My own definition of the "staring into the abyss" idea includes and requires some sense of an overview by the participant, not just that *my* life and/or the lives of those immediately around me are in jeopardy, but that *everybody* is in jeopardy, all of one's society. There are a couple of theoretical problems with lumping the Holocaust into this pattern, the first of which is there was a lot of denial going on, and second, I'm not at all sure how many people (whether Jewish or not) had a sufficient overview of the situation to see the "big picture" as it was happening -- and then to get the sense of dread I'm talking about. What we know of the Holocaust I think we only know in retrospect.

And while I would by no means want to minimize or trivialize any one particular person's disaster when their house burns down, or is wiped out by a hurricane, or whatever, my definition of "the abyss" requires a broad view, not a specific one. Hurricane Ike doesn't qualify; Katrina only marginally so (because hundreds of thousands believed, falsely, that they'd be rescued and taken care of. So the sense of universal impending destruction is missing. And even then they understood that elsewhere in the country Western Civilization was proceeding along very nicely, thank you, and wasn't in jeopardy. So my definition requires both the broadest possible view that *everybody* is in jeopardy and that *nobody* can help or knows what to do, basically that "we are all doomed," not just some of us. It requires something of an apocylyptic or armageddonish, "On the Beach" view, as well, not just some local disaster no matter how bad. That's the abyss. (YMMV, but that's my concept and definition.)

(But yes, there can indeed be a small-scale, localized me-and-my-family version of the abyss; been there, done that, bought the T-shirt in the Mini-Abyss Gift Shoppe for that one, too. A couple times.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

CP-I've been thinking about military officer pay with regard to the executive compensation that is such a hot button issue. So much of what keeps super high achieving people in the military has absolutely nothing to do with money, and much of what drives potential Chairs of the Joint Chiefs out when they are young has very little to do with money. My guess is you could reduce executive compensation many companies by 75% and you still wouldn't have any shortage of exceptionally qualified people wanting to do the jobs. If Ms. Fiorina had received just 25% of her severance package (at the lowest figure I've seen, reports vary) she would still have walked away from HP with 5.25 million.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Things change. The Pompeians used to talk about how great is was to live in the shadow of a volcano.

Those who are truly miserable don't know they are miserable.

Posted by: ryh | September 23, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. I'm glad people seem to be truly thinking through the options for fixing the financial mess. I only hope those who are in charge or are voting on it are doing so, or at least paying attention.

I don't like the term "bailout". I think it is unnecessarily complicating the discussion. We need to find a word that doesn't immediately resonate with "us and them" rhetoric. "Rescue" may be a trifle alarmist, and "resolution" too confident. I suppose "gummint takeover" is out of the question.

My folks lived through the Great Depression, and Mom also had the Dust Bowl. Dad was on a Midwestern farm. Mom lived in town but when things got bad they moved back to their farm, which was on the town outskirts. Both families had lots of options for self-sufficiency. I didn't see my parents buy anything on credit until I was almost grown, and then they always paid off the cards.

frostbitten, thank you for re-defining for me my work prospects: "I told Mr. F that instead of worrying about whether or not we'll be able to retire at 55, with retirement defined as working for fun or fulfillment more than money, I am considering myself retired already." As I've mentioned, I plan to work until I die, but I like the idea of considering my job my retirement, based on satisfaction levels.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 23, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

For the DC metro contingent, just saw this:

Posted by: astromom | September 23, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. Should have said the crash is in MD just north of the American Legion Bridge.

Posted by: astromom | September 23, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

As one who makes a living from thinking about and creating small things for small imaginary people, I heartily agree with McEwan's "think small" principle (via kbert).

Now I must get back to contemplating pants.

Small ones, of course.

And for anyone who cares, my "blue" period is officially over. I've moved on to green.


Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Editors (and readers) unite! I've opened a small shop of my own just to see if anyone will buy my new shirt...

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Green is good Martooni.....Green is very good!!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 23, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I generally agree with Mudge's premise on the abyss. We aren't there yet with the current situation, though it turn into something bad if things fall the wrong way. For instance, if China gets real nervous (or decides to fire one across our bow), they could call in all their loans. We haven't got an extra trillion dollars (especially if we commit almost that much to the "bailout"). That would seriously erode the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. That puts the rest of the world's economy into a tailspin. Then we are indeed staring down the hole.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 23, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

So there I was, gazing at my navel, thinking pie and puppies are good things.

That's it.

Happiest 45 seconds of my life.

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

GWE, I misread "greed" in your post, and I'm currently trying not to dissovle in laughter at the mental image of you as Gordon Gecko... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, GWE... not that you're biased or anything. ;-)

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Green is dangerously close to on-Kit, martooni. You might want to go with - I don't know. Puce. Pink. Burnt sienna. Raw umber - no, too close to umbrage, also on-Kit. Stay right away from red.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 23, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

i know this came out two weeks but i was way to busy to boodle...

tbg - speaking of fashion - black is the NEW black!!! yipeeeee!!!

finally - at least for one season - i'll be IN fashion!

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Black is, alas, not on-Kit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 23, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom - i've known quite a few goth clubs named alchemy - or is that a stretch?

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

You know Scotty,I could save you 15% on your car,rv,or pwc in a few moments.I could even give you a toasted english muffin with butter and jam.....wouldn't that be nice!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 23, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Proposed motto of Editors for Obama: I Believe You're Going to Change This

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 23, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

To stay on the plague and other calamities theme. A Spanish lady visiting london in the eaerly 1600s wasn't impressed. The food was terrible and the place was a dirty mess.
"She is disgusted by the city's lack of sanitation, observing that - with endless bouts of plague - “England had more pestilences than Egypt” and is horrified to see carrots being transported in carts that, the day before, had carried plague victims. "

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I do like raw umber, but not today.

Sounds too much like "umbrage" and I've sworn off any form of it for the day. (and it's killing me)

"Verde" might be more appropriate, but then I would be condoning French Fries and other controversies. After watching the circle jerk of a "debate" on how to blow a trillion dollars on bailing out a bunch of uber-rich jacka$$es this morning, interrupted by Our Dear President addressing the U.N. with absolutely nothing of substance to say, yet who *still* managed to mangle the word "nuclear" and basically told the world that all the stupid things he's convinced our country to allow him to do has made the world a better place...

Can someone please fax me some cream and several tons of sugar to go with all the bullsh!t I've been fed today?

Or better yet, how 'bout some psycho-ward-strength sedatives and a case of Jameson's whiskey?


Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

mo, I think the alchemy-goth connection works well. I was thinking of "black" as ink, connoting financial well-being, and completely missed the potential alchemy referent. That's what I get for being so narrowly focused.

Ssssh, martooni. Think happy thoughts. Pie. A new sander. Little Bean. Think pink. Bright yellow. Happy things are pink and yellow. All soothing thoughts. la la la.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 23, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

for those who haven't visited gene's chat - you MUST watch this video!

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Is that the not-safe-for-work video, mo?

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

nope - but that one was FUNNY! thank god for earphones!

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

ooopps my bad,wrong gecko,I do like the little green guy better though.

Off to work

Everyone have a Great Green Day

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 23, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

and since it is funny i will post what gene said:

"The Second CLOD, from, is hilarious and VERY BADLY UNSAFE FOR WORK. It pertains to a column I wrote last week about people who write in Comments to online newspaper stories. ONCE AGAIN, IT IS VERY UNSAFE FOR WORK. IT WILL GET YOU FIRED IF YOU WATCH IT AT WORK. DO NOT WATCH IT AT WORK UNLESS YOU HAVE HEADPHONES. (The images are fine; the language is not, and much of it is SHOUTED. ) "

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I liked your article, bc.

Here's the Jumper plan for coinage reform:
1. eliminate the penny. All prices in 5¢ increments, except gasoline stations can put 1¢ increments on their signs, only.
2. the new nickel will have the size of the current dime, the new dime will have the size of the current penny, the new quarter the size of the current nickel, the new 50¢ piece the size of the current quarter, and the new dollar coin only slightly larger, but smaller than the present 50¢ piece. Coins will be alternately ridged and nonridged on the edges to assist the blind.

That is all. Carry on

Posted by: Jumper | September 23, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Let's see.... Republicans have a policy of turning budget deficits and National debt into reasons to cut programs they don't like. Just weeks before leaving office, they absolutely "must" spend almost a trillion dollars to bail out companies that have been irresponsible. But they simply can't impose restrictions on CEO pay, because they "need" these companies to participate. Reminds me of something Scotty said in a Star Trek episode. Something about fooling me twice....

Posted by: rhy | September 23, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

mo, is she the "Molly" from Gene's chat today? (The 29-year-old no-seafood person?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - i have no idea! but i really don't think this molly is 29 - i think she's in college...

Posted by: mo | September 23, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

On kit, but 3 kits late...The World will not collapsed into a black hole before the next federal elections (Oct 14 and Nov 4th respectively).
"The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will remain shut down until next spring, following the serious fault on Friday that derailed plans for it to start smashing protons together this week.
Officials at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, announced tonight that investigations into the incident will take at least a month, making it impossible for the £3.6 billion “big bang machine” to restart before the new year."

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

It's time to retire "Holy Toledo" for something stronger. "Holy East St. Louis," maybe, or even "Holy Atlantis."

Posted by: allbetsareoff | September 23, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

There are worse places you could live in than Columbia.

****Putting my nose back into joint.****

I think those editors for obama shirts are hilarious.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess you're right, yello. I could live in Ellicott City.

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Great shirts, TBG! Been bugging you, eh? Betcha Barack would get it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Although I understand 'mudge's global abyss, will add that black is the color of personal abyss. When you look down and see that you are standing, straddled over the abyss, it's time to wake up and know that it was only a nightmare.

Or, as the ya-yas said "think pretty pink & blue thoughts".

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. I live near Toledo and can tell you there ain't much holy about it
We Jasperarians like to call them Toledoites wankers.


What those folk in Ohio are like I really can't say.

Posted by: Boko | September 23, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, VintageLady, you had to bring up the ya-yas, didn't you?

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"holy Toledo! - This exclamation of surprise refers to Toledo, Spain, which became one of the great centers of Christian culture after its liberation from the Moors in 1085. Its thirteenth-century Gothic cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, is the seat of the Cardinal Archbishop of Spain." "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

Posted by: Shiloh | September 23, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Little altars, everywhere, Slyness. :-)

Was thinking of on the beach after I read the boodle:

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

All those fine actors were so young and tender, well, not Fred Astaire, but he was soooo elegant.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The holies here are fairly exhaustive.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 23, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

If ya-yas are like ta-tas, I've got a few loose dollar bills I'd be willing to donate for a show.

As long as it's not a Broadway number.

Off to make some tombstones to decorate our front yard for Halloween.

First epitaph that came to mind: "Here Lies the G.O.P.... Yet Again"

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

We need more of this!

Media refusing to settle for the very limited coverage being offered by McC/P.

Posted by: dbG | September 23, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

martooni, for the love of god, "ya-yas" and "ta-tas" should NEVER appear in the same sentence. Perhaps not even in the same paragraph.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Congressional hearings are too easy on the Wall Street CEOs. There are apparently alternatives...

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Grusome, TBG. Tata is mentioned in the article.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

But Top Gun also mentions ta-tas, right martooni?

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

While we sit here mired in deep philosophical musings, there's two pretty neat donnybrooks that seem to be going on:

1) a lot of Republicans (remember them?) are unhappy with the bailout plan. Who'd a thunk we'd live to see a revolt against the Bushies?

2) The press has really giving McCain hell for banning them from the Palin event; they've renamed Mr. Candor's bus the "No-Talk Express." Mr. I-can-take-torture immediately caved in.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dbG, for linking to that article on the threatened press boycott of Palin at the UN. Such a boycott certainly would be empowering to her critics, but I wonder if it will make much of a difference with the electorate. McCain is already painting the press as nothing but a bunch of Obama shills, and I fear those predisposed to believe him will just view a boycott as evidence of this.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

There is that, RD, but the real issue is that no coverage is an extremely bad thing for the ticket. The press is right to make that threat.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... it's not like I've lived a sheltered life (far from it) but "ya-ya" and "ta-ta" seemed to me like they may refer to the same thing(s).

If I'm wrong, I'll go back to contemplating pants and the color yellow (moved on from green now).

Otherwise, I found a tenner in my work jeans and would be happy to throw it into the kitty (or buy a round).

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, it's a reference to the book and movie The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a story about the lives of four Louisiana friends and their children.

As is normal, the book is much better - and funnier - than the movie.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks shiloh, I didn't even consider Toledo in Spain. I just read holy and immediately thought of Ohio. Funny, eh?

I hope the clergy in Toledo Spain don't take offense although I could use a nice comfy chair.

Posted by: Boko | September 23, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio, is like being nowhere at all . . . ."

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 23, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Indeed slyness. "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

This is the only Oscar Wilde quote I know. And that's just because of Monty Python.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

martooni, traditionally a ya-ya (or yaya) is an (old) Greek grandmother. Think somebody really old, possibly shrewish, and a busybody (there are variations). Not somebody's whose ta-tas you'd want to think about. The kindred Jewish equivalents would be a yenta and or bubbie, if that helps.

There is a lesser-used Afriacan variant of the word from the Yoruba tribe which basically means "woman" and may be somewhat more flattering.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Adding to Mudge's Edge of the Abyss.
Crimea 1921 Captain Velerian Braguine at the ripe age of twenty-one tried to sleep by a fire. It was the coldest night he had ever experienced. A messenger arrived. "Saddle up. The Kerch froze, Bolsheviks are crossing. Within minutes, Markov's regiment was mounted and speeding at a fast trot. .

Braguine commanded a tachanki (horse drawn carts with machine guns) squadron.. Everyone knew the battle would be decisive, The reds HAD to be repelled. Being in the reserve Markov's regiment would deliver a deadly counter attack.

On arrival, the Reds already occupied the trenches and opened up with machinegun fire. Braguine's horse fell. Braguine got up knowing the battle was lost. He drew his saber and continued toward the enemy on foot. He looked around--he was alone.

A bullet struck his arm and knocked him down. Stunned, he got up and kept advancing. Another bullet hit the heel of his boot, knocking him down again. Everything was lost, the war, the army,the country, family, comrades.There was nothing left to do but reach the enemy trenches.

Out of nowhere, a Cossack came over at the gallop, lifted Braguine off the ground, laid him across the saddle and galloped off.

Valerian Braguine came to several days later in Gallipoli, Turkey. A man without a country. Thanks to the gallant and skilful action of an anonymous Cossack , I had a father.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I know I don't have to define "Tata" for you. Everyone knows it is the name of a car built in Indian. Everyone knows that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge... watch who you're calling old and shrewish. My sister is slated to be a Yia Yia in November and she's far from either. And my mother was no busybody, either!

(No extra charge for the umbrage, thank you very much.)

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Brag... that's quite an answer you got when you asked, "What did you do in the war, daddy?"

Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

In the phrase "Get yer ya-yas off", 'ta-tas' would make an unfortunate substitution.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Stones have an album called Get Your Ya-Yas Off? In which case, it would not have been Mudge's definition - or martooni's. Must go check amazon - maybe this is a crazy early 70s memory...

I always thought the Toledo in "Holy Toledo!" was in Ohio.

I had a sense of dread with the housing crisis, as if things were coming apart. Now that they have, I don't feel that worried - just waiting for it to hit me. Nothing I can do.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Get yer ya-yas out. Another unfortunate misheard lyric.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

LOL. I wish I had kept notes. The real interesting stuff came when I met my father's commander.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't there a Greek folk band that had an album something to the effect of Getting Your Yia Yias out?

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 23, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I think NaNa Mascara was in that band, SoC.

Posted by: Boko999 | September 23, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

SoC... I think that was "Ya Soo (and then ya collect if yer gotta good lawyer, otherwise you throw dinnerware at the judge)" by the Hellas Raisers.

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Some more British Columbia politics:
"An NDP candidate who upset a group of teens by dropping his shorts and going skinny dipping 12 years ago has quit the federal election campaign,..."
The fun never stops in Lotusland.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Brag, That's quite the story, I'd like to read more.
I'm thinking you might enjoy Mikhail Bulgakov's 'White Guard.' Fan's of '100 Years of Solitude will like his 'The Master and Margarita' and I'm sure Wilbrod should dig 'The Heart of a Dog.'

Posted by: Boko | September 23, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I've read Master and Margarita, though not my genre, I enjoyed it.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

SCC - Out, Out - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out
At least I wasn't hallucinating.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I thought Master and Margarita was the first book in the series about Captain (ret'd) Jack Aubrey and his exploits on the cruise lines of the Caribbean.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 23, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

What a day. That's about all I can say about it without sounding whiny.

The pic on the WaPo front page...if Sarah and Hank are sitting in matching chairs, is she from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or is he more Honey I Shrunk the Kids? He's my height-ish without my shoes on (you know, me without my shoes on. Not him without my shoes on (funny mental pic). And not that I've been with the Doc without my shoes on. Oh you know what I mean.) Anyway, he's gotta be a good 5 or 6 inches taller than she is. But maybe it's not trick photography, maybe they gave her a couple of phone books to sit on.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 23, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading about the bailout and am thoroughly confused. This is probably because all I really know about economics is that you are supposed to pay off your credit card every month and never buy major home appliances from street vendors.

This is one of those cases, I guess, where in an ideal world our Elected Officials would Know Best. And, of course, that would be an easier sell if the track record of said Officials was just a little bit sounder.

One thing I do understand sufficiently to find absurd is an innate contradiction in the administration plan. On one hand, it is claimed that this plan must be enacted Right This Minute otherwise more big firms will crash and hasten an Economic Apocalypse. On the other hand, of course, we have to make this plan attractive to those big firms otherwise they won't take part.

It seems to me that the whole "economic Apocalypse" scenario should be sufficient motivation. Unless, of course, the Administration is overstating the risks.


Which takes us back to that whole "track record" business. All of which makes me realize that the economy isn't the only thing that fails to function in the absence of consumer confidence. Without trust the government can't function either.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I dunno about you, RD, but I'm not seeing a lot of trust. At least, not enough to go around. We truly have a trust shortage, and That Is A Very Bad State Of Affairs.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Our present government has been disfunctional for nearly eight years. We are now beginning to see the results. This is only the tip of the floating beer can.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I thought ya-yas were cramps, kinks, stiffness, yah?

All a sudden I'm feeling yia-yias in my knees instead. That explains the urge to mutter backtalk in greek and then the subsequent walloping of myself on the ear and making the greek orthodox cross.

I read the divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood but they never did say what a ya ya was either, other than, I guess a bestest friend that grabs you and hugs you so tight for pictures that pretty soon you both get serious ya-yas after releasing (or maybe yia-yias).

As for Yello's interpretion, well, some guys care more about certain cramps than they do others...

And I'll go and get out my blue ink ya-yas by saying "Change in which we can believe" is exactly the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.

Now I think I've boodled myself in a doughnut, or doodled myself in a bonnnet. Either way.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Factoid #1: at $700 Billion, the requested amount is larger than the US yearly expenditure on (take your pick) defense, social security, medicare and medicaid. Heck, it's even larger than "Other Discretionary".

Factoid #2: said amount is between two to three times all yearly Canadian government expenditures.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 23, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I dunno nuttin about Greek ya yas. So I will say in Greek, Kali Nihta. Good night les Boodleurs. Will be roaring to go for the Dawn Patrol tomorrow.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Ooooo. Nova is showing a program called " Monster of The Milky Way." I love nugget.

Posted by: Boko | September 23, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the tale of your father's pony post delivery by Cossack, Brag. About the only thing I understood when backboodling... I think. Night.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

On NPR tonight it was reported by a NYTimes reporter (Kate Zernike) that Gov. Palin's aides noted that she met with foreign leaders today and quote Found that she liked foreign leaders very much unquote

Posted by: Mike | September 23, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

It's bad when the US Prez talk at the UN and most of the other heads of states roll their eyes or go la-la-la-la-la... He seemingly has the same credibility as certified head case Ahmadinejad. Not good.
Sarkozy made the best speech, if I may say so. He reminded all of the food crisis that is still going on, fueled by foolish policies of the West, and appealed for global financial regulations.

Sen. McCain is having a tough week. Two of the family's 13 cars are imports apparently. On the good side it probably means that one of the seven houses is an eco-friendly one car-household. He also discovered his campain manager has been on Freddy Mac payroll, lobbying for more deregulations until a couple of weeks ago. Ooops.
"Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae,"
"Between 2000 and the end of 2005, Mr. Davis had received nearly $2 million as president of the coalition, the Homeownership Alliance, which the companies created to help them oppose new regulations and protect their status as federally chartered companies with implicit government backing. That status let them borrow cheaply, helping to fuel rapid growth but also their increased purchases of the risky mortgage securities that were their downfall."

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, they actually speak English and dress in suits, don't they, Sarah?

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

So, like, I'm not the only one kind of confused. Or at least conflicted.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

So, that Warren Buffet guy is smart, right?

Does this mean that there's only $5 billion worth of good paper, which he just bought up, and we'll be stuck paying $695 billion for toilet paper?

Maybe it'll hurt less if it's 3-ply.... :-),092308lang.article

Posted by: DNA Girl | September 23, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think I was confused about all this until LiT planted that mental pic of Hank wearing her shoes.

As far as someone who works for who in Washington, sd, it's a small town in many ways. Many of the best political consultants, lawyers, and lobbyists in the city have worked for both Democrats and Republicans at one time or another. Heck, most of your long term Government employees have, too. They're career professionals, and they treat their work that way. They have to, otherwise they're likely to be unemployed about half the time, and for long stretches.

Believe it or not, I trust those folks a lot.


Posted by: bc | September 23, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, folks; it's not me he's talking about. I'm a contractor, not a true, blue Fed.

Meanwhile, we have a cop shooting here a little while ago, after a routine traffic stop that turned into a chase. Don't know how the cop is doing.

And it looks like George Will's column on McCain's instability is the no. 1 most-viewed article today. Interesting.

Anybody watch the premiere of "The Mentalist"? A tad predictable, but generally pretty good, I thought. But also pretty dark, both thematically and uh...the actual, like, lighting. What's with all thse shows shot half in the dark? They trying to be green, or what? Even old episodes of "The Night Stalker" had more sunlight than these shows.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Ok, a question:

Do any of you think Palin made fun of anyone's accents today?

You're not the only one suspicious about Paulsen and Bernanke's haste in getting the bailout approved, RD.

I posted something in the earlier today that may suggest *why.*

For some, uncertainty equals opportunity.

And an eleventy gazillion dollar Federal Deficit and titanic troubles in the American and global economies might just represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For the right someone, anyway.


Posted by: bc | September 23, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Toledo itself may not be much, but their Democratic representative, Marcy Kaptur, is a woman after my own heart. The link is to a clip of her delivering a speech about the Paulson bailout. She's amazing!

Posted by: Wheezy | September 23, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know bc. Freddy certainly has the right to petition the gunmint. Petitioning as the campaign manager of an influential senator who happens to be the GOP candidate for the presidential election is a lot closer to pillow talk than petitioning in my view though. It would have been wiser for Mr. Davis to take a vacation from his Freddy representing duties way before the company was nationalized. Or to abstain from being Mccain's manager. But it's only my ignorant view, I don't want to advocate to bar anybody who knows something about everything to be barred from campainging.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 23, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Fragrant disregard for the law, I say.

Posted by: Jumper | September 23, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I really should call it a night but Jon Stewart is skewering Paulson and Bush and I can't look away.

I wonder what JA found in Dale City today.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Mental translation of Jumperese:

Fragnant disregard for the law=
It stinks to high heaven of corruption.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

And the proof that dark chocolate is really better.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

CPBoy padded down to say, "Hey, we talked about the atom smasher today in science. Did some scientist think this would suck the world inside out or something? You usually tell me about these things."

I am a nerd, surrounded by nerds. Ain't life grand. Shall worry about the economic perturbations later.

And, on kit: CALAMITY is always paired with Jane. And, the song for that gal is "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight."

Posted by: College Parkian | September 23, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I called Weingarten on his schtick a few weeks ago:

My only solace is that he can't believe half the crap he throws.

Anyone remember the peace dividend we got from the end of the Cold War? It went to the S&L bailout. I don't see any peace around here to pay for huge injections into the financial sector. Quite the opposite in fact.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that when someone kills multiple people in Finland, a response may be to tighten gun controls rather than simply say this is an unfortunate side-effect of all the wonderful freedom we enjoy that cannot be infringed no matter what the reason.

BTW, my response to "People kill people, not guns" is, How many people would the maniacs be able to kill before being overpowered if they had to use their bare hands or a non-gun weapon?

Posted by: LTL-CA | September 24, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Here is a thought,stop the damn war and save a billion dollars a day,in 700 days we will be back to square 1.

It was a tough day and night for me,but god bless the healing powers of Rock n Roll. Heard a couple of my favorite tunes on the way home and forgot about all of my troubles. "Tuesday's Gone" and "Behind Blue Eyes" and for good measure "Let it Be" as I was driving up my mountain.

Right now a Hoot Owl is calling outside my window......Life is good again!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 24, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

Posted by: jack | September 24, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Here's a happier ending to a school incident - unarmed principal wrestles firearm (turns out to be only realistic pellet pistol, but still) away from ex-student:

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 24, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

LTL-CA, I hate to say it, but... 9-11. Oklahoma City. Doctor-murderers.

Evil always finds a way. At least a gun makes a noise that can be heard at the instant of violence.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2008 1:14 AM | Report abuse

a classic boodle combo - abysses, ya-yas and ta-tas.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | September 24, 2008 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I'll just make the observation that if more of us stabbed or strangled folks carrying guns, then there'd probably be FAR fewer shooting deaths, ya know?

Posted by: Bob S. | September 24, 2008 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Not that I'm averse to a good bludgeoning every now & then.

Posted by: Bob S. | September 24, 2008 2:33 AM | Report abuse

DNA Girl, the $700 billion doesn’t include bailing out of Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Bear Stearns bailout is $29 billion. With Buffet investing $5 billion in Goldman Sachs, you’re stuck paying just $24 billion for toilet paper….

Posted by: rainforest | September 24, 2008 2:39 AM | Report abuse

RD, I'd thought of that, but it seemed to me that the evidence that the McC/P camp deserved the boycott was overwhelming.

In the comments on Ruth Marcus' column today:

I had this strange sensation that I had heard Gov. Palin's words before and reading Marcus' post it finally struck me where. It's e.e. cummings.

Palin's response: "Yes. That's a great question, and being an optimist I see our role in the world as one of being a force for good, and one of being the leader of the world when it comes to the values that -- it seems that just human kind embraces the values that -- encompass life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that's just -- not just in America, that is in our world."

e.e. cummings' poem:

"next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country 'tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water"

If only e.e. had a line about "not blinking," the poem would have been frighteningly prescient.

Posted by: todd | September 23, 2008 6:27 PM

Sounds like we should invite Todd over.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2008 2:55 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 watched the Congressional thing with Paulson, and all the financial wizards trying to sell their take of the bailout, it was so stressful, for lack of a better word. I believe Paulson was sweating, and it was like he couldn't make a complete sentence. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. It was not pretty, and it seems not even the Republicans were giving him a break. I thought to myself, if I had money in the stock market, I would be real worried with these guys at the helm. I'm just drawing a small SS disablility income, and I'm seriously worried. My dad has been saying this for months. He still says we don't know the half.

Today is the busy day. I've been up for some time now. Just could not sleep. My neighbor came by last night looking for jars. She said she was making jelly. I thought about how my mother made jelly and canned stuff. We just might have to go back to that.

I have a cold. I don't know where that came from. And have another doctor's appointment Thursday. Once you start going, you keep going.

I hope we as a people in this country can figure out what to do, and be successful in the doing of that. What a nightmare this is turning into! Will we make it through the next thirty or forty days? And then the real work begins. Can you imagine what all of this does to people's confidence? We don't want to kill confidence, do we?

Have a great day, folks, or at least try. The weather here was cloudy and slightly warm yesterday. We're getting the system that hoovering over the coast. Suppose to get a lot of wind today.

Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Martooni, Scotty, and all.*waving*

Someone asked about Nani. I've often thought about Nani and her wonderful stories.

Time to swim.

Posted by: cassandra s | September 24, 2008 5:01 AM | Report abuse


(I know this comment isn't directly connected to your post, but I wanted to get in touch with you and could not find your email. I'd be very glad if you could get back with me on my mail;

My name is Carl and I represent factualTV. A themed intereset web tv site. We were recently mentioned in an article in c21.

I wonder if you would consider mentioning us in your blog or just post a link? Is there a mailadress on which I could contact you? If so please let me know, I would like to send you some material and also answer any questions that you might have.

All the best,


Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 5:20 AM | Report abuse

Ah, now we know the real identity of Anonymous and his name is Carl.

CNN is having a field day. I love Campbell's viewpoint on Palin's interview embargo (as sexist), and suspect this one will be difficult to counter. I hope it receives a lot of attention.

Posted by: dbG | September 24, 2008 6:03 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. 'Morning, Joel; time to unleash the mighty zapper (nodding toward the 5:20 above).

Well, one hopes the Obama fans amongst us are pleased with the lead headline: the new WaPo/ABC poll gives O a 9-point lead over McC. I suppose I ought to remain consistent and continue my rant that "snapshot" polls don't mean diddly. Nevertheless, I am pleased. I think that lead will open up after the debates, too.

OK, gotta run.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Japan is suffering a string of stabbing rampages. The worst was in Tokyo's techie-shopping district of Akihabara, with seven dead.

Jerusalem has had several cases of equipment operators squashing cars, and I think the latest was simply someone driving a car into a bunch of pedestrians.

In the department of how authoritarian governments differ from democracies, Princeton University Press has a sale price on "A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy" by James MacDonald, a retired British investment banker. On the first page, he points out that in 1815 a French minister could write that "liberty and credit are always united". In that era, it was believed that England's parliament had a lot to do with the government's ability to raise huge amounts of money to conduct wars. By contrast, the Bourbon government of France went bankrupt in 1788.

The old differences between Parliament and the Bourbon monarchy seem to echo in this clip from a commentary by Peter Koenig in the Telegraph:

"... Even if the Group of Eight were to invite China to join its club, it is unclear if the party leaders in Beijing want to belong.

Lawrence Summers, who served as President Clinton's US treasury secretary, wrote recently: "There has been a shared premise behind international economic policy discussions - the goal of increased economic integration, the spread of market institutions and more rapid growth for all nations. While companies may compete, the premise has been that nations co-operate to build a stronger economy in the interests of all.''

In the case of China and other authoritarian governments focused on wealth accumulation and geo-political strength, rather than improving the living standards for their populations, "it is no longer clear this premise remains valid,'' Summers concluded."

Today's "Alternative Solutions Diverge" story by Faiola and Cho ends with another summers quote.

"According to Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary, the government might have to try multiple approaches.

"If you have hypertension, you're way overweight and you're in the process of having a heart attack, what's your most fundamental problem? It's really not that useful to distinguish between them," Summers said at a Brookings Institute forum. "They're all components of the situation, and you're not going to get to a very satisfactory place unless you address all of them. That's how I think of our financial reality right now."
Summers, bless him, has the right idea for overweight hypertensives like me, but if it comes to having a heart attack, I'd like the doctors to concentrate on that until things are stabilized.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2008 6:13 AM | Report abuse

PornTube: Best movies collection.

Posted by: mexsexporno | September 24, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Are we on the front page? Lots of spam this morning. Joel, the 6:25 needs to go too.

Oh yeah, good morning, everybody.

It's been a generation - literally - since I was an EMT, but I recall that the odds of a person dying were 1 in 5 for a gunshot, 1 in 20 for a stabbing. I don't know how valid those numbers are today, but they give some idea of the differences in mortality.

I too was heartened by that headline, Mudge.

Mr. T and I are doing our part for the economy. Today we're having a guy come to give us estimates on bathroom updates. I just want my tub and tile refinished; Mr. T wants his tile covered with another layer. My guess is that I will be able to afford the refinish, but he won't like the price on the covering.

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

In my opinion gun ownership does nothing to prevent - gun deaths.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Buenos dias, los Boodleros!
Had an interesting conversation with a Marine yesterday. Will post after returning from patrol.

Looks like the mighty zaper might need to come out of storage.

Posted by: Brag | September 24, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Count ten by Arnold Wesker
(For Harold Pinter)

Count ten. Then

Count ten again.

That way is time measured

Death denied.

Each measures time

His own way - coffee breaks

Rejections, instalments

On the car.

Count blessings. Then

Count them again.

That way is heart fooled

Honed, toned down.

Each fools his shadow

Shadows his dreams

Stalking himself

In circles

In circles move shadows.

Count circles. Then

Count them again.

That way are trees, time

Honed expectations

Measured, laid out.

One of "Five Poems for Harold Pinter" from All Things Tire of Themselves by Arnold Wesker, published by Flambard Press.

Finance poems are hard to find, but this one by a Brit has installments in it. I think we need to count ten about this. But decision makers should count ten quickly and move, forward, not sideways.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

I hope Joel made it safely back from Dale City, a pleasant place, unless you are on the wrong side of rush hour traffic.

Glad some of you all like Rebecca Wells's Little Altars Everywhere and then her next book, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. She has written at least one newer one, but the reviews were disappointing. The movie, I have not seen.

I, to, read R. Marcus's opinion piece, and it made me wonder, did Sara(h) Palin have an inkling of an idea of the exposure she and her family would have when she agreed to be McCain's running mate. Now, obviously, that exposure is being limited, as it is clear to me that she's not helping McCain. I feel sorry for her family, and maybe a little sorry for her as well. Maybe she doesn't NEED my sympathy and she WILL NOT have my vote, so I'll just advise her to do as the ya yas do and, again, think pretty pink & blue thoughts all the way back home to Alaska.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 24, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Yes please, Zappage hither and yon for 6:25 and 5:20.

And in the "You Might Want to Keep the Darwin Awards on Speed-Dial" category:

*happy-to-be-sorta-halfway-through-the-week Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I like this, Rep. Kaptur from Toledo (To stay on kit, sorta) Ohio.

The more I hear and read, the more I think we’re being sold a pig in a poke. I really liked that e.e. cummings poem too, relevant as all heck! I emailed my Congressman yesterday and my email thought the auto response it generated was spam, somehow I found that very funny.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 24, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey Sneaks, whadda ya think about the Sox retiring Pesky's number? What, the pole isn't enough? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm home sick today. Feel like the flu. Or being hit by a truck. Actually I've never been hit by a truck, so I'm just extrapolating from lesser collisions.

Might be getting delirious.For, example, I swear I just read the usually quite lucid Scottynuke write something quite unintelligible.

Back to bed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm liquid? I know I'm mostly water, but still...

*faxin' RDP some chicken soup and Benadryl*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Conversation with a Marine,

Our chat started with a discussion of the economy. With nine years in the service, he feels we are getting ripped off. As an example, he switched to Iraq and how KBR/Haliburton and the likes operate there.

When staging in Kuwait, the camp was well organized and they were free from the usual, menial tasks. Sweeping, cleaning, mess duty was performed by third country nationals from places like Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines. They are paid $1.75 a day and kept in near slavery conditions. If they complain, they get fired and are stuck in a hostile environment.

The Marine Corps paid the contractors US$6,000 per month to rent a four man tent. While staging, the Corps did not use its own vehicles but rented SUVs for US$ 30,000 a month per vehicle.

He disagreed with me when I said we should have never gone into Iraq. He feels that toppling Sadam was a good cause, but we should have gotten out immediately after.

He thinks Falujah was a disaster, but he didn't want to talk about it.

He is not happy with the situation in either Iraq and Afghanistan and plans to leave the Corps soon.

Posted by: Brag | September 24, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

'morning all.
I wonder what it tasted like?
"Paleontologists in Alberta have discovered a small, chicken-sized dinosaur thought to be the smallest ever found in North America.

The Albertonykus borealis is believed to have lived like an anteater, using strong claws to rip apart logs for insects as food."
That thing must have been mighty quick or fitted with the latest in stealth technology, being the smallest thing around must not have been easy.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes to RD. I'm doing OK with an ongoing dry-mouth problem, but right now I wonder if it's possible for just one tonsil to get infected. I'd love to have an all-day supply of crushed ice and fizzy water.

It's dark and rainy outside. Great orchid weather.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I found this very cool toy today.

You can "spin" quotes from the candidates. It is really fun and informative.

Posted by: a bea c | September 24, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

MiamiBob, if you're here today: That was a great kit yesterday.

Posted by: CowTown | September 24, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

That's a cool site, a bea c, except the first quote they show supposedly BY McCain was actually said by Biden ABOUT McCain...

""You can't change America and make things better for our senior citizens when you signed on to Bush's scheme of privatizing Social Security," he said.

"You can't change America and end this war in Iraq when you declare - and again these are John's words - 'No one has supported President Bush in Iraq more than I have,' end of quote."

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

*faxing some chicken soup it couldn't hurt to Padouk and to DaveotC, who also gets some lozenges*

That AlbertoVO5us dinosaur couldn't really have been the smallest thing around; just the smallest thing we've found a fossil of. And why is it called "borealis"? Did it come with its own night light? Perhaps they should have named it a McNuggetosaurus poutineii.

I'm just chock full of good suggestions this morning. And you oughta hear what I've got to say about Halliburton/KBR, $6,000 tents, renting SUVs for $6,000 a month, and paying coolies slave wages to come in and clean up our military's bedrooms like a really bad Ginga Din or Sand Pebbles movie.

No, on second thought, maybe you shouldn't hear it. It would curdle the sensibilities of some of you church-going folk, and I don't wanna do that. And there aren't enough keyboard symbols like &, ^, %, $,#, * and @ to fully express the depth, the width, the height, the diagonal, the cross-section, the cotangent and the pulchritude of my umbrage and contempt. Or something.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

SCC: $30,000, and Gunga. Ah, screw it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This Washington Post-ABC News poll is making me feel better...

"The poll found that, among likely voters, Obama now leads McCain by 52 percent to 43 percent. Two weeks ago, in the days immediately following the Republican National Convention, the race was essentially even, with McCain at 49 percent and Obama at 47 percent.

"As a point of comparison, neither of the last two Democratic nominees -- John F. Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 -- recorded support above 50 percent in a pre-election poll by the Post and ABC News."

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

You know 'Mudge is in a lather when the venerable tilde isn't enough for him...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. RD, have a nice sick day and I hope you feel better soon. Perhaps later you can commune with the bunnies. You also take it easy, daveoftC.

I'm glad to see Buffet stepped up and put his money to work. We may not trust the gummint but most people do trust Buffet in financial matters. His willingness to shore up Goldman, while it won't help with the 700 billion giveaway, does suggest there may be room for confidence.

Here's a thought - if Paulson et al are worried, as RD suggests, that Economic Apocalypse won't be sufficient to convince institutions to play voluntarily if the institutions have to suffer consequences too, and if it really is Economic Apocalypse, why not make it mandatory instead of voluntary? I know, I know, socialized gummint and all that. Look. Paulsen said yesterday the taxpayers are already on the hook and this (his plan, hah) just puts them in a better position. Why not formalize it?

About gun control: I'll say again, as I have before, a lot of the death or serious-injury crime I see would not have occurred had a gun not been handy. Most of the defendants wouldn't have gone and found a different weapon, and, if they had, those weapons are much less likely to be lethal. I also note that no bystander with a gun could have made a difference in the Oklahoma City bombing. The facts just didn't work that way.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

All this financial stuff makes me feel the need to restock my legume cupboard before everybody else gets there. and I'm sure wishing I had someplace to feed a sheep or 3.

Posted by: dr | September 24, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

RD and DotC, hope you feel better soon, just about recovered from a wicked cold/sore throat. Spent the first few days feeling like I was hit by a truck.

Take it easy.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Pink and Blue! Isn't that Mauve?

Posted by: omni | September 24, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

True Mudge, the small dino might have been using its claws to tear apart small mammals to get at the tasty bits inside.

What's the deal with the US gunmint and the SUVs? Your ambassador in Ottawa is the only one going around in a big limo accompanied by 3 or 4 very discreet black Cadillac Escalades, you know, the ones with the 20" chromed wheel and massive chrome bumpers. I'm sure the ambassador's movements can be followed from space, where's the security in that?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I had very strange dreams last night from LIT's comment last night. I'm sure the glass of port and the stargazing on my deck before I went to bed didn't help.

Speaking of staring into the abysmal, I received a statement from my broker the other day, didn't even bother opening it yet. It made a good coaster for my wine last night, though.

For some reason, I find staring into a clear night sky calming. Pulling out the 'scope and looking at Jupiter and its moons or the mountains of our Moon soothes my soul. Contemplating the infinite, the Beginning and the End, the tiny subatomic waves of particular probability and promise, and the universal mural of grand intergalactic superclusters where our Milky Way is but a pixel.

Not so much an abyss, but The Ocean of Everything. The waves move, the complex patterns of change move and spread through time and space and dimension, intersecting, leaving new patterns in their wake. New waves originate from events; from galactic collisions to one amoeba consuming another to a simple photon passing through a slit (or does it?).

Yet somehow, when I conteplate the global financial crisis and all of the many and vaired factors compring what can, should, and will be done to address it, I am nearly overwhelmed by the complexity and uncertainty.

And that mental image of Dr. Kissinger wearing a pair of really nice FMPs... that's a grand finale to my cosmic philosophical tour of the universe.

And it probably holds an answer, if I were smart enough to Understand.

In the meantime, I'll look forward to another glass of port and comfortable weather this evening, hoping that the clouds and rain hold off until after midnight.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, carry the 1...

Cost of stupid war + cost of stupid bubble = 1.5 trillion, divided by 50 states = 30 billion per state divided by 5 =

Five one-billion-dollar universities EACH ONE funded by a 5-billion-dollar endowment PER STATE.

Plus, a $750 billion infusion into the Social Security system.


Posted by: Jumper | September 24, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Valuable near-last minute reminder:

ScienceTim (that's me!) will be talking about extrasolar planets tonight (that's Wednesday, September 24, 2008) as part of the pre-game show in support of the Squonk Opera Company's performance of "Astro-rama" at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland (University of Maryland, College Park, that is):

The show is free. My participation is free. Therefore, this notice violates no pesky rules about commercial use, unlike *some* spammy posts that have appeared today.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Meant to add - RD, the kids passed around a weird flu bug at school over the past few weeks.

I had it for a few days. I felt crappy, but got over it reasonably quickly.

Hope you're feeling better, and jack, glad to hear things are looking up.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Stupid Jumper | September 24, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "comprising"

Inexcuseable, that's what I yam.


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

What's a Squonk?
Some claim that "squonk" is the birth cry of a newly minted saxophone, straining to grow toward its full-throated potential. Some say that it's an elusive, mysterious creature that roams the Hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania. Who can say?...

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Autumn has officially arrived.

Monday, I took my morning walk wearing shorts and a tee. Yesterday, it was long pants and a tee. This morning, long pants and a jacket, and I was comfortable.

I'm not a cold weather fan, but it's time, so I won't complain.

All I got to say about the financial calamities is this. If I have to pay capital gains on my investments for 2008, I'm gonna be really, really mad.

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The "scientific name" of the squonk, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, comes from Latin words meaning "tear", "body", and "dissolve".

Squonks are also known in chemistry and biology. Some substances are stable in solution or some other "wild" form but cannot be isolated or captured without actually catalyzing their own polymerization or decomposition ("dissolving in their own tears"). For example, a molecule containing a carboxylic acid moiety and an acid labile moiety might be stable when initially prepared as the salt (e.g., barium prephenate) but unstable as the free acid (prephenic acid).


Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Pearlstein is making great sense.

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

slyness, we had a touch of frost last Thursday. In some cold micro-climate created by the Eardly escarpment they had hard frost. I saw some migratory Canada geese flying over us last Sunday. The Brussels sprouts are starting to taste good. Pumpkins were on sale at the farmer's market. The mums I planted a couple of weeks ago are in full bloom. So yes, fall is upon us.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I have pumpkin-spice-flavored creamer for my coffee, does that count?


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I did make it back from Dale working on a story about it. Also tomorrow we have a special section on NASA's 50th, make sure to check that out.

I liked the Pearlstein column and it kind of brackets the one that David Brooks wrote yesterday -- with Brooks being much more adulatory of the powers that be. Brooks I think pines for the 1950s.

I'll post a new blog item later today. Gorgeous day outside -- I've been writing in an undisclosed location with a nice view of trees and flowers and all that nature stuff.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 24, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

We have had great late summer weather here, mild days with clear skies and cool nights but no frost yet. The other day the view across the lake was as clear I can ever remember - could see all the way to the US/Can border at Niagara and see the outlines of buildings.

Scotty had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte yesterday - wonderful

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I read Pearlstein column last night and re-read some of his Pulitzer-winning columns of last year. He has been following the slow collapse of the credit system all along. This is why I cringe when I hear those "nobody could have predicted it". Many, many people saw it coming a mile away. Including the Post's own Pearlstein.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I need to check a better supermarket tonight, but so far, late-season squash seem overpriced and under-abundant.

Marketing of squashes is fairly complex. About twenty years ago, I was visiting a Cornell squash breeder who was interested in the then-mysterious Okeechobee Gourd. I happened to mention "crook-neck squash". He corrected me--crooknecks don't appeal to southern customers, who expect straight necks.

One of the local anomalies is that "calabaza" imported from Costa Rica is the same species as the domestic butternut squashes and will work in the same recipes. Calabazas are always far cheaper than butternuts. Both are basically tropical, unlike most of the North American squashes.

Posted by: Daveof the Coonties | September 24, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

If financial CEO income is cut, who will buy NYC residences like this one for $64 million.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse


There, I've said it. Someone had to.

Hope I didn't unduly offend anyone. I don't normally use the ~ word around the house.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

If this isn't one of the grandest "No s---, Sherlock" headlines of all time, I don't know what is (see WaPo home page): "Bernanke Tells Congress Economy Is Faltering."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Economy Is Faltering = Titanic is listing.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm skipping round flat CEOs on the surface of Mudge's obscenity. It's fun watching them sink. Too bad the ripples may take us down too.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

If I understand the situation correctly the economy is faltering because too many people are defaltering.

Posted by: Boko | September 24, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

If you think this is the first time I've been stoned, Anon, think again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh, so if chemists hunt the squonk, they may vanish away one by one without a trace, for you see, the squonk was a BaBOOM...?

Jabberwocky science. Excellent, that's a perfect companion to voodoo economics (which landed us in this mess).

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"Playoffs....Don't talk to me about Playoffs....Playoffs....."

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 24, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I think a squonk is an element in particle physics that is a sub-species of quark that has a stripe down its back and emits an unpleasant odor to fend of muons and hadrons (which seem to be forever colliding with each other, heaven knows why).

Upon reflection, I think I once dated a round, flat CEO. She was a lot of fun, though she wouldn't show me her bottom line. Anon, I think you're making a mistake skipping them (unless you're a "bre@st man," which I'm not).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"colliding hadrons" brought to mind that funny clip of two glow in the dark condoms moving around in a dark room...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The economy may be tanking but I just got myself a 5 stotinki (стотинки) coin that was passed as a penny. So that means I got .05 Bulgarian lev, the lev being tagged at 1.95583 euro...I just made a 2.7 cent profit! Woo HOO!
This is clearly the investment that has performed best for me this week.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It's actually 1.95583 lev to the Euro. Bulgaria will go euro-only in 2012.
The coin is a bit strange; the head shows a guy on a horse trampling something that looks like a long-tailed anteater.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I missed that one. What was it called, "lambskin borealis"?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Sad news, Nyac the Vancouver aquarium's oldest sea otter (and Exxon Valdez survivor) has died from leukemia.

The picture accompanying the story is one of those awwww moments.

Posted by: dmd | September 24, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Bulgaria honors St. George? Who knew? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Knowing the Bulgarians, that might have been a pogrom in progress, Scotty. They'd put that on a coin.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

When I lived in Cody, Wyoming (first town east of Yellowstone National Park), cent-sized foreign coins showed up in the change with some regularity.

I forget the title, but one of the big university presses has a book explaining how the need for small change led to modern currency. The problem was that everyone accepted the big gold or silver coins, but what to do about lesser amounts? I guess you could always chop a Spanish dollar into bits.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 24, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I liked the Pearlstein column about the value of apology. But to really foster a culture of apology, you have to be willing to entertain the possibility of forgiveness. When remorse is simply seen as an opening for further attack, nobody wins.

Now, I need to take a few more of those little pills, lie back down, and return to dancing with the magical bunnies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

just driving by the abyss and had
these random thoughts we
can't have the government
in health care because that would be
socialized medicine and we all know that communism is right behind but
it is now just peachy
to buy junk bonds from wall street repubs and annoint a new king
of finance forever and all
the king's men get to keep
all the loot they stole
from the pension planners and the
saps who took ARMs on the advice
of their bank reps
and unless they get to keep their
100 million $ bonuses they won't
play ball and all the rest
of us can jump into
the abyss but at least
democracy will still = capitalism
reminds me of country joe
ain't no time to wonder why
yippee and how do you like
your blue-eyed boy
now mr. bush

Posted by: butlerguy | September 24, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

BTW, the link I posted was from the Anchorage Daily News, so you get one guess as to the topic.

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing you aren't our anonymous haiku sensei, butlerguy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

i thought haiku sensei was the director of the original godzilla movie.

Posted by: butlerguy | September 24, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

It's a frikking lion sculpted by Bulgars ca 700-800 ad, not a anteater. I wonder if the Bulgars were part of the Tabouleh people.
"obverses of the Bulgarian coins depict the Madara Rider on his horse, killing a lion with a spear. This image is taken from a large carving 100 m up on a cliff face. Inscriptions with the sculpture chronicle events throughout the 8th century."

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

RD -- our litigious culture means that apologies smell like meat to circling vultures.

Insert lawyers for dark birds of dead prey....apologies to our lawyers on the boodle.

And, apologies that follow the
"I am sorry if you were offended, but..."

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. ee cummings isn't all that.

Earth in pieces
by Wilbrodog Curlos Wilbrodog

The Reaper is wake!
Economy's dying!
Red against black
Bear-Sterns is lying.
Panic. News at eleven—
Sleep scared til tomorrow.

The Bears roam abroad!
The Eagle is screaming!
Gold's buying jack.
Crooks' eyes are gleaming!
Sleep scared til tomorrow.

The Bankers lie
With their arms intertwining;
Gold bought jack for
Their pockets' lining!
The Serpent writhes!
Paulsen is listening!
Treasuries with gold--
His hand is glistening!
Bailout. News at eleven—
Sleep scared til tomorrow.

Posted by: Wilbrodog Curlos Wilbrodog | September 24, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Whoopies. Lost a line there:

And, apologies that follow the
"I am sorry if you were offended, but..." are not apologies but knee-jerk preservations of specialness.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The late Roman Church of St. George (4th century), hidden in the courtyard of the Sheraton Hotel, one of Sofia, Bulgaria's most popular tourist attractions.
The red brick rotunda church of St. George is considered the oldest building in Sofia. It is situated behind Sheraton Hotel, amid remains of the ancient town of Serdica. Built by the Romans in the 4th century AD, it is mainly famous for the 12-14th century frescoes inside the central dome. Three layers of frescoes have been discovered, the earliest dating back to the 10th century. Magnificent frescoes of 22 prophets over 2 meters tall crown the dome. Painted over during the Ottoman period (when the building was used as a mosque), these frescoes were only unearthed in the twentieth century. At present, the church is a museum.

LL: St. George got around. Why are we speaking of the Bulgarians? Last night, finished Part One of Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian," a three-generation serch for the tomb of Vlad Tepes. This fictional work creeps me out a bit, but wanted to mention it for the historical Order of the Dragon.

Elizabeth was born a Johnson in New London, Conn., but married a Bulgarian, Georgi Kostov, to become Elizabeth Kostova.

Boodle post short, have just come from a rendevous, long overdue, with the ta-ta smasher.

Posted by: Loomis | September 24, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The lev (Bulgarian: лев, plural: лева, левове / leva, levove) is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki (стотинки, singular: stotinka, стотинка). In archaic Bulgarian the word "lev" meant "lion".

Posted by: Loomis | September 24, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Very nice, butlerguy.

No offense taken, college parkian. It is sad but true that the prospect of lawsuits does not foster a culture of apology. However, people are also disinclined to apologize for reasons having nothing to do with fear of suit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember ta-tas in Top Gun, but I do remember bodacious in An Officer and a Gentleman

Just sayin'

Posted by: omni | September 24, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

in another No Sh--! Shirlock moment:

clay aiken admits he's gay!

(W00T! nooooooooooooooo)

when are we getting our hyper links back?

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I'm sorry to hear about Nyac the sea otter. After you posted the link to the otter-cam, I bookmarked it and go to it for a little smile now and then. Surprisingly, I have not gone there this week. Ponies, bunnies, sea otters...

Posted by: Raysmom | September 24, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

oops - forgot the link...,,20228488,00.html

and damn you bc - every single time i go to your site i get a tune cootie that won't go away!

i'm so confused about the economy right now...

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

It's sad that I've had to teach my kids that if they're in a car accident, they better not say "I'm sorry," as even if the other person was completely at fault, all you have to do is apologize and the fault becomes yours.

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

TBG - you also taught them the clean underwear rule, right?

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

mo, I had the same "Duh!" moment when I saw Clay's revelation in the dead trees edition this morning.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 24, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Has the adjuective "bodacious" ever been followed by any noun other than ta-tas? I mean, by anyone other than Jethro Bodine.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 24, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Who is Clay Aiken?

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

There's Bodacious BBQ down in East Texas, Raysmom...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A gay guy.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Arr, that's some bodacious booty.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news on McCain suspends campaigning to work on economy, requests postponing Friday debate; requests Obama do the same.


Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

McCain's had 28 years to work on it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Clay Aiken is a singer, Ivansmom. He was first runner-up on American Idol a couple of years ago, losing to Reuben Whatshisname. I only know this because Clay is an alumnus of my alma mater, and much was made of this at the time.

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

This is reminding me of the beginning of Book 6 of Harry Potter (the Half-blood prince), but I shan't say anymore for the sake of those who have not yet read that book.

Posted by: WIlbrod | September 24, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

He's seen the polls Mudge was referring to earlier, obviously. He needs some time to re-adjust.

"Economic Fears Give Obama Clear Lead Over McCain in Poll"

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow indeed, slyness...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Apologies, on the scale of meaninglessness, rank "sort of pretty high," so if their eschewal leads to some few isolated cases of justified varmint-armor, then so be it.

On the other hand, it's an absolutely gorgeous afternoon here in the Carolina piedmont. It restores, along with the near-unheard of second coffee of the day, a certain faith in Providence. And makes one consider soberly what an excellent, perfect day it would be to put Bush and Cheney in jail.

Posted by: Jumper | September 24, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

When you read down further into the story, you learn that Obama called McCain at 8:30 this morning to propose that they issue a joint statement outlining ideas and principles they mutally agree upon. McCain got back to O at 2:30 to agree.

McC also canceled his appearance on Letterman tonight.

No word yet on what Sarah Palin has cancelled. [I had a line here but have decided to omit it.]

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Re. Clay Aiken:
1. It's his business. I don't care.
2. I didn't need Pearlstien to see *that* coming. So to speak.

I'm a little mixed on this McCain suggestion to suspend Friday's debate, due to the economic crisis. I understand the need to focus on this bill (in whatever form it may take), but isn't now a really good time to *have* the candidates debate this in a public forum?

The idea of this debate having a crucible or pressure cooker element makes it very, very interesting to me.

Are deals are being cut back in DC, and McCain wants be at the table so he can be dealt in?



PS, and mo, sorry for the tune cootie. Or maybe not, it's a h3lluva tune.

Posted by: bc | September 24, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Caught me good with that last sentence, Jumper. Diet soda everywhere.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom - he was the runner up in season two - everyone focused on him instead of ruben studdard, the actually winner, because clay aiken's album was much more successful and he's now the most successful male and most successful runner-up in idol history...
raysmom know how obsessed with american idol i am...
also went to prove that you don't need to win american idol to be successful - as chris daughtry, forth place finalist, proved - he has the best selling debut album ever... (and he's smokin hot)

sorry but this whole economy thing is bringing me down... i need something frivolous to keep my spirits up!

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

*faxing two dozen extra-large pink frivols to my mo*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I like this comment on The Trail item about McCain suspending his campaign...

"Utterly self-serving, if McCain wants to wait until the "crisis" is over before debates begin then the race will end without debates. Why? Because Bush is the crisis."

Posted by: Tim | September 24, 2008 3:34 PM

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, authentic apology is often a mark of what is best in human relationships.

Yes, many apologies are foolscap-worthy. But, still, apologies are very important, indeed.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 24, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

*tutu-wearing-and-in-all-other-ways-frivolous Grover waves fer mo*


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Went to the CNN website to check on the McCain story, got distracted by this one (I will leave the Monty Python quips to others, but won't deny they sprang to my mind when I read the headline):

"Shipping containers could be 'dream' homes for thousands"

And this is no joke: there's a shipping container like this sitting near my company's loading dock and I never walk by it without considering its worthiness as a domicile.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

*calling the singing-telegram company to send a smokin' hot Chris Dautry look-alike dressed in a gorilla suit to mo's gummint agency, and when he gets there's he's gonna take her in his arms and croon "Singing in the Methane" to her. It's costing me a bundle, but it's worth every penny.*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

...But I sure wouldn't pay $8,000 for it.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Tune cooties? We saw "The Other Boleyn Girl" the other day, and that got my husband interested in Henry VIII, so for two days we've been watching the HBO series with Ray Winstone in the title role. Last night hubby started singing the old Herman's Hermits song "I'm 'enery the Eighth I Am" and I've had it stuck in my head pretty much continually ever since. Ack. Here's passing it on...

...I got married to the widow next door
She's been married seven times before
And every one was a 'enery
Wouldn't have a Willy or a Sam
I'm 'er eighth old man, I'm 'enery
'Enery the Eighth I am!

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

We used ta DREAM of living in a shipping container! It woulda been a palace to us...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I particularly like the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe models with their opposing bay windows on each side. And of course the hardwood floors.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

...and gives whole new meaning to track housing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Granted, I don't feel the best and am probably a lil' cranky, but my gut reaction to McCain's announcement is complete disdain. Look, does he really feel that his presence will change anything? And even if it did, the idea of "delaying" the debate seems a clear tactic to avoid having to talk about the economy.

The single biggest decision Americans have to make is who will lead the country. Putting themselves and their ideas front and center in an unscripted bubble-free environment is by far the most valuable thing the candidates can do.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Make that "tracked housing."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Feeling pretty disdainty myself, Padouk.

Eat some more chicken soup it couldn't hurt.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

oh snuke - i do so love it when you wear that tutu!

geez mudge - how'm i gonna get two dozen extra-large pink frivols home on the metro?
and do i hafta tip the singing telegram? cuz then i'll hafta make a trip to the atm!

kbert - they already use shipping containers for housing in Kabul - one of our guys went there tdy and told me about it... i was pretty floored... he said it wasn't too bad (but i don't think it was $8,000 GOOD)

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Knew I could count on you, Scotty.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 24, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The shipping containers have doors, don't they? If they work for houses for folks who need them, good enough!

I'm not impressed by the McCain move either, RD. Doesn't appear to accomplish a thing, IMHO. If the two senators need to be in Washington, let the president of the Senate call them to come.

Yeah, right.

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I almost fell off the treadmill when I saw the CNN headline: McCain suspends campaigning to work on crisis.

From laughing, I mean. Git home, John! The whole world is waiting for your leadership!

HAW HAW! What a maroon.

I think Obama should have agreed to suspend Fridays *presidential* debate ... and substituted the veep candidates. Ole Sarah woulda ... um ... searching for polite term ... "soiled herself."

Oh, my. Wouldn't you just love to channel Mencken right about now?

Posted by: KPage | September 24, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I always thought folks who were campaigning for president were still doing their regular jobs, too, when needed. Flying to Washington to vote or to attend hearings doesn't need a suspended campaign does it?

Last I heard, Obama's campaign says "the debate is on."

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't an unmodified shipping container present a significant danger of asphyxiation with the doors closed?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

There is a perception that apologies are a bigger deal than they actually are. I’ve worked on many files with a dispute about liability and can tell you how much value I would assign to hearing that the opposing party said “I’m sorry” at the scene: next to nothing. It’s a frivolous argument easily answered by the party saying “I was sorry they were hurt, not sorry I caused the accident” and advancing it only makes my position weaker (this is what you’re relying on, counsel?).

A lawyer I know has a great expression: you know what it takes to start a lawsuit? $200 and a #2 pencil. The point is that pleadings, like argument, are nothing in themselves. It’s what is accepted by a judge or YOU as a jury member that is important.

Now sadly, even after saying all that, I guess I’d recommend not running around apologizing to everyone. The reason, however, has nothing to with what a court would say at the end of the day. The reason why you might want to be careful is that most insurance policies require that you not make any admissions of liability and a low level person at an insurance company could cause you a lot of grief by denying coverage, thereby forcing you to fight a coverage issue as well as the underlying lawsuit.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 24, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama should agree to "suspend" campaigning in every way *except* the debate Friday night. I think he should return to Washington with McCain, but make it *very* clear that the debates are one of the single most important events in the campaign and are not to be trifled with.

He should stress that the voters deserve this debate, *especially* in a time of uncertainty. Then, he should let it be known that he will be at the site of the debate eager to discuss the economic future of this country.

And if McCain decides not to show up, well, draw your own conclusions.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear that, SonofCarl. No, wait. I mean, I'm *not* sorry. I mean, I'm not sorry I'm sorry, I'm just not sorry I'm not sorry. Or sorry I'm sorry, I forget which. One of them.

Er, doesn't this basically contradict Rule No. 1 of Marriage, which is that the husband is always sorry, all the time, under all circumstances whether he even knows what the topic at hand is all about?

I'm so confused.

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

kbertocci, about those shipping containter homes - why do I have this very uneasy feeling that the Administration might be supporting that group developing shipping container homes near the border? And that they might try to make these homes very attractive to undocumented immigrants?

And that one night, folks are going to get locked in their homes.

And shipped.


A whole new meaning to the words "house arrest."


Posted by: bc | September 24, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

mo, just take one or two frivols home each night.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, they could have the debate right in the well of the Senate! C-SPAN already has the cameras all set up!


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Cowboy ethics says actions speak louder than words. I can live with that theory.

If Sen. McCain is too old and tired to multitask, then he indeed needs to spend what little reserve of seriousness he possesses on our current crisis.

Sen. Obama should graciously recognize this, whatever his own talents to multitask, and of course renew his efforts to perform his Senatorial duties as well, whatever leave has been previously publicly granted him by the recognition of the exigencies of the participation in the campaign to date.

Posted by: Jumper | September 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Scotty, and all the other senators could chime in! Wouldn't that be fun!?

Posted by: slyness | September 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl put it very well. The law doesn't so much care if you say you're sorry, but insurers love it (or not, as the case may be).

I second RD's recommendation - have Obama show up anyhoo and make the debate begin with the economy. and of course Scottynuke is right - other than the disappointment at Ole Miss there's really no reason they can't use C-Span and the Senate floor. I'm sure the other senators would love the diversion.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

From Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post...

McCain Wants A Time Out -- But Why?
Nico Pitney
HuffPost Reporting From DC
September 24, 2008 03:30 PM

Why does John McCain suddenly want to suspend his presidential campaign and postpone Friday's debate? His campaign surrogates are saying it's a typical "maverick" move, that McCain is simply "putting country first." Let's look at the evidence:

1) As Ben Smith notes, McCain's move "is a mark, most of all, that he doesn't like the way this campaign is going. ... The only thing that's changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling."

2) The idea of uniting the campaigns to find a bipartisan solution to the Wall Street crisis wasn't even McCain's idea. A few minutes ago, Obama spokesman Bill Burton emailed to reporters:

"At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama's call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details."

3) John McCain has skipped more votes during this session than any member of the Senate except for Tim Johnson, who had major brain surgery. All of a sudden, McCain demands that the presidential race shut down so he can return to Washington?

4) For all of his sudden urgency, McCain acknowledged just yesterday that he had not even read the administration's three-page bailout proposal.

5) It's not clear at all that having McCain and Obama back in DC will actually help. "What does seem apparent, though, is that putting the two candidates in the negotiating room is far more likely to distract--and derail--negotiations than having them out on the hustings," Jonathan Cohn writes at the New Republic. "Besides, it's not as if McCain has any great expertise he can bring to this subject. Or does he plan to bring Senator Phill Gramm, Mr. Deregulator himself, along?"

It's impossible to know why McCain chose this course, but it sure seems like more of a political stunt than a maverick moment.

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

shipping containers being used in kabul

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The living in a shipping container bit reminds me of the movie version of "Cannery Row," where Debra Winger decides to live in a big outdoor boiler or something. Fixed it up right pretty as I recall.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Not a contradiction at all, Mudge. Fault flows automatically in the circumstances you mention; whether or not you're sorry goes to sentencing.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 24, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ah, got it, SoC, thanks.

Maybe McCain's ulterior motive is he wants to send Obama down to Ole Miss by himself...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 24, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

20 and 40 ft ISO containers are so ubiquitous they are used for everything.
Here's a little cottage:
I've seen a shower/toilet combo for remote location.
Install a bladder in it for liquids and you get a flexitank.
I've seen one lined with a big plastic bag and filled pneumatically with ammonium nitrate prills.
The better ones are expendable, like modern RVs.

And there is the secret one Darth Vader retreats to in troubled time. The one loaded in a C17. The Naval-Obs-in-a-box. I would love to see that baby.

Yes Science Tim, a new standard ISO container is pretty much air tight but they get a little twisty and shaky quickly. Stowaways have survived many days in them.
One thing to consider is temperature. Monitoring real life loads have shown temperature up to 50C on sun-exposed containers. Recently, a load of batteries caught on fire in one containers that was placed too closed to the wall of a heated bunker oil tank in a big container ship. The oil was heated to 80C in that particular zone. It would make for a toasty ride.
Going on a cruise with your house? Avoid the top&outside row as it will get exciting in big weather.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Twin amusements from a photography blog:

About the bailout thing that's apparently in the news:

And a cute video advertisement about, well, you'll see:

Posted by: Fifty | September 24, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

SCC Expandable?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 24, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering what the advantage a shipping container would have over a mobile home. Then I remembered: you wouldn't have the formaldahyde problem.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 24, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Let me just say that I love, love, LOVE the idea of using shipping containers as housing. The walls are steel, so no outgassing of formaldehyde like you get with plastics in typical 'manufactured housing.' You need to be able to get accessory kits, however, and that's where you have the opportunity to do some interesting things. Tool kits suitable for modification (heavy-duty metal saws, drills, clamps). Kits for window, door, staircase, and toilet installation. Connector kits to assist with mounting them side-by-side or one atop another (that's why you need staircases). Interior dressing with insulation and wall surfaces (oops, there's where the formaldehyde comes from). I think it would be pretty slick.

Posted by: PlainTim | September 24, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Obama and McCain developing a statement about what they agree on with a bailout plan. After all, both of them want to be leader of the country, and what better way to demonstrate leadership than to show there can be bipartisan agreement? The debate-skipping, not so much. I mean, holding the debate in addition to the statement would send a wonderful message: See? Even though we are so different in our policy positions, we can find things we can agree on.

And as far as Bush demanding that the plan be enacted as proposed or else I say: stuff a sock in it.

Posted by: Raysmom | September 24, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

The only suspension I'd like to see is that of the B.S. being flung from all sides.

Let it hang in mid-air and stink to high heaven for all to see for what it is and from where it was launched.

The real kicker-in-the-pants to me is that neither candidate, nor most of those with so much to say and absolutely no solutions to offer are doing nothing but blowing smoke up our collective arses and we're expected to buy the dang condoms and drinks, to boot.

I should have extended my "I'm not thinkin' 'bout nuttin' day" for about a month.

My "la-la-la-la-la's" ain't gonna work today, even with thumbs and toes and a 2x4 firmly inserted in my ears.

Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Here you go, *Tim...

Posted by: TBG | September 24, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

This just in ...

September 24, 2008
McCain Supports Bailing Out of Debate
Urges Comprehensive Debate Bailout Package

Saying that "desperate times call for desperate measures," GOP presidential nominee John McCain announced today that he would personally bail out of Friday's scheduled presidential debate.

"As of today, I am officially bailing out of the debate," Sen. McCain told reporters in Washington today. "And I invite Sen. Obama to join me in this bailout effort."

Sen. McCain said he would be putting together what he called "a comprehensive debate bailout package," which could include bailing out of the other two scheduled debates as well.

When asked what motivated his dramatic bailout proposal, Sen. McCain said, "When I woke up this morning and I saw those terrible numbers, I knew that a bailout was necessary to keep those numbers from getting worse."

Mr. McCain refused to answer a reporter's question about whether he was talking about economic numbers or poll numbers, saying, "I am bailing out of any response to that question."

GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said that she would join in her running mate's bailout effort by bailing out of her debate with Delaware senator Joseph Biden.

In a campaign stop in Michigan, Gov. Palin detailed a series of bold initiatives, including building a twenty-foot-high fence between her and the press.

Posted by: KPage | September 24, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

boy - those trolls at celebritology are a snarky bunch!

we have our bunker - i think celebritology has a tiki bar...

byoolin - was that YOU over there?

Posted by: mo | September 24, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

How the heck do insert a 2 X 4 in your ears? Wouldn't need more than...?


Posted by: Boko | September 24, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I want to see a Tiki on the south lawn of the White House.

Error in '08

Posted by: Boko | September 24, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

That's a BAR, boy. A Tiki BAR! Stop typing while I'm talking to you.

A nice kid, but a little dense.

Posted by: Foghorn Leghorn | September 24, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Shipping containers and Steinbeck's "Cannery Row" are appropriate to the times as fear-mongers wail about the Wall Street meltdown with references to the Great Depression. RD was right. A couple of depression refugees in "Cannery Row" lived in an abandoned boiler. My favorite exchange, from memory of the novel, was between the woman who announced that they were having a sale on curtains at Woolworth's and how curtains would make their refuge more homelike. To which her practical husband replied, "Woman, why do we need curtains, we don't have any windows." That exchange has stuck in my mind as a classic example of the Venus:Mars mindset between genders. How to respond to sustainable steady-state economics without appearing sexists has created a quandary. The inherent regressiveness of that Herman Daly proposed economic system and its reliance on a utopian socialism suggests that the aesthetic and the empirical may be the twain that cannot meet.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

That should be either "sexiststential" or sexist.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Crazy day. Sorry no bloggin. Working on a housing story. had to rush to the Newseum to be on Talk on the Nation. never been in the Newseum before, and managed to look around for at least 15 seconds before rushing back to the office.

It's about the news media.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

That Joel. So coy.

Click on "listen now" at the top of the NPR page. And for those who haven't "linkified" their browsers, just cut 'n paste.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Not to be confused with the No See Um Museum. I won't make THAT mistake again.

Posted by: SonofCarl | September 24, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Nice job, Joel, on the NPR chat. You and John Gardner seemed to work off each other well. He was able to give some specific anecdotes about his years in the White House, while you were able to do that big picture thing you do so well.

And yes, I agree that more Beer Fridges would greatly improve the workings of the Executive Branch in general.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Good interview. It was informative, yet civil and had that added bit of Achenbach humor. Well done.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 24, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Joel was on the radio?

So why is mine still working?

Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

btw.. what's with all this guano about McCain pulling out of the debate because the country is facing a few financial problems?

Could it be because the party he represents might have played a significant role in the creation of these problems?

Or could it be that he's just not presidential material?

Call me crazy, but I think any presidential candidate worthy of our attention should be *EAGER* for a debate at a time like this.

He wants to call it off or delay it.

The only word I can think of in response rhymes with "wussy" and starts with "P".

Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait... I thought of a better word for McCain trying to back out of this debate.


Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

RD-- only if we make Cheney take his through an IV. Persistent rumor has it that Bush took up drinking again around the time Katrina happened. It'd explain a lot.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 24, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I feel much better. Never underestimate the therapeutic benefits of copious amounts of sleep.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 24, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse


You are a hoot, guy. I'm laughing out loud, and the neighbors think I've really lost it.

I don't understand McCain not wanting to debate. One would think that he's anxious to display his leadership potential. Why would his work in Congress keep him from doing the debate? I mean is it a case of walking and chewing gum at the same time? He's had months to prepare, as well as Obama, so why now? I agree with RD, the people need to hear both of these candidates. We've always had a debate for the Presidential contenders, haven't we? Perhaps John McCain feels he is not up to talking about economics. I mean he did say it was not his strong suit, right?

I was shocked when I saw the breaking news. And I was looking at Chris Matthews. Of course, he had to mention Hillary Clinton. And he did. The man has not had a show on that he does not mention Hillary Clinton. Chris Matthews is seriously obsessed with the woman.

RD, hope you feel better. I have a cold or something that causing my nose to run, and my throat feel like sand paper. I'm still moving, but the steps are getting slower and harder. Do take care, and get some rest. Your body just might be telling you it needs the rest. That is probably the story with me. You too, SD.

Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | September 24, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

New microkit.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 24, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Ok... so in addition to backing out (or trying to) of the first debate Friday, McCain backed out of an interview with David Letterman because he said he needed to get back to Washington to help fix things, yet he's still in New York and has yet to book a flight/train/oil-tanker/llama/donkey/whatever to get his hyped-up-umbraged arse there.

I'm wondering if McCain and Palin have some private bet on who can spread the most bullsh!t in 24 hours.

Posted by: martooni | September 24, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Rats-missed TotN and will have to wait until I get home to listen.

Mr. F lived in a shipping container for a year in Kuwait. Claims it wasn't bad.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 24, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Nice good blog!

Posted by: Sharon | September 29, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Nice good blog!

Posted by: Sharon | September 29, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

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