Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Beetles and Gas Giants

Later this morning, I'm going to do one of those Bloggingheads things with Bob Wright, during which he vows to abuse me for my "crappy blog," as though such jibes could penetrate the dense armor, the tungsten sheath, of my self-esteem. Here's what Bob doesn't realize: The way to get to me is to denigrate something that's near the heart of the core of the center of my being, such as my chili. When people insult my chili, I retreat to a dark space and weep piteously, and then pitifully, though not necessarily in that order. But the blog isn't even mine, really: It mostly belongs to the boodlers. I've become like the caretaker, the custodian, the guy who comes in on a riding mower.

Bob lured me back to Bloggingheads after we went cycling the other day and I began expounding on how God is inordinantly fond of beetles and gas giants. He acted like I was saying something profound, when in fact, if you listened closely to what Bob was saying, he just needed someone to provide filler during the Thanksgiving break.

Indeed, I think he had no idea what I was talking about with the beetles and gas giants thing. Let me expound: The beetle affinity is an old observation by I forget whom, but the abundance of gas giants, of Jupiter-mass planets, is something we've discovered only recently (see my story the other day).

The fact that we've found hundreds of these jumbo planets so far (and no Earths) is, as you know, purely an artifact of the sensitivity of the searching techniques. You can see big ones but not little ones. Even so, the obvious question is: What are they good for, all these giant balls of gas?

One obvious answer: Giant balls of gas tend to have lots of moons -- see Jupiter -- and those moons might be habitable (see Europa as a prime candidate).

Another obvious answer: Jupiters shield terrestrial planets from bombardments by comets. They're like fullbacks taking on linebackers so the running back can scamper for a first-down (see Mike Sellers running interference for Clinton Portis).

But here's what I suspect: That we betray our biophilia in these conversations. We are living creatures and carry a pre-Copernican bias for living things as the center of meaning in the universe. We naturally assume that life is what's interesting -- and it is, to me, no doubt about it -- but perhaps God is a geologist.

Which brings up something I asked Bob. He is putting out a book that's some kind of autobiography of God or whatever, some really big-think book with ideas so huge and ponderous that your IQ will ratchet up 10 points by the time you finish it. So I asked him: "Bob, is there a God?"

He answered, "It depends on what you mean by 'God'."

Squirrelly! I call fuzzy and vague and mushy on that answer. We all know what we mean by God, which is someone who CARES about us, and has unlimited power, and in terms of the universe as a whole bears a great deal of accountability. The buck stops there. Exists beyond normal constraints of time and space. Has qualities of a living entity but unlike living entities has permanent cosmic tenure.

Forgives us our blasphemy.

But I had to cut short the conversation before Bob started talking about equations, laws of physics, mysterious NonZero-Sum game-theory phenomena. I was very fearful that at any moment he was going to use the word "algorithm."

So maybe we'll talk about that stuff today.

(I'll post the video here.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 24, 2008; 10:40 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Seattle On Foot
Next: Bailout Fever


"What are they good for, all these giant balls of gas?"

I don't even know what to do with a softball that juicy.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I don't think Bob could write an autobiography of God unless Bob was...

I don't want to think about it.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Beetles broke up years ago.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 24, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

As for a bio of the Big Guy, Jack Miles already wrote one.

And not a bad book, actually. Pretty interesting and insightful, in my view. But no, not a lot of astronomy nor beetle entomology in it.

Could all those giant balls of gas be what keeps the Giant Rubber Raft of the Cosmos inflated?

Anxiously awaiting the video link.

FYI, the quote you were searching for is from the great biologist J. S. B. Haldane, who said that if biology had taught him anything about the nature of the Creator, it was that he had “an inordinate fondness for beetles.”

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ladybug was the Cute Beetle.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

A Tale of Thanksgiving with a Twist of Mormon

(to be told in several parts over several days, given that my husband is home on staycation this week).

This is the story of how how Hurricane Ike led me to to discover the writing of David Ebershoff--and of course, so much more. It's important to spend a little time at the beginning of the story before leaping forward in time.

The plan for our September vacation was to spend Monday through Wednesday at the South Lake Tahoe Marriott, part of a marketing package. How we tried to get out of this deal we'd made by phone a year ago, chiefly because of my husband's recent cancer surgery, but to no avail without some form of penalty. My husband was just healed enough to travel so we decided to stick to Plan A. The time at the lake was short given the distance we had to travel from Texas, so I thought that we should spend most of the day at the lake on Thursday before heading down Highway 50 around 5 p.m., checking into the Marriott Rancho Cordova around 7 p.m., which would use the very last of our Marriott reward points. We'd have a good night's sleep not too far from the airport, before boarding the Continental flight home, via Houston, on Friday morning.

Then Hurricane Ike picked up strength in the Gulf of Mexico, on a path toward Houston, its uncertain route ensuring that we would turn on the television just after we woke, before we would ever peek out the curtain at the sunrise and the pines and our view of the Heavenly Valley gondolas, and just before we turned in.

I had already called my old friend Linda before we flew out, establishing the possibility that the hurricane could possibly afford us more "vacation time" in California. Thursday morning, with the hurricane's forward path more certain, there was a volley of phone calls between us. She invited us to spend time in Escalon, to stay with them. I still wanted to linger at the lake on Thursday--to fulfill my desire to swim in the lake.

We gave up the reservation at the Rancho Cordova Marriott, and were able to get a room at my beloved Sutter Creek Inn on Thursday night. We would spend the night with Linda and Phil on Friday, check into the Rancho Cordova Marriott on Saturday night, and then Linda and Phil would drive to Sacramento on Sunday where we would play tourist for the day until we had to catch our midnight flight home on Sunday, provided we could fly home.

So, instead of descending the Sierra on Highway 50, we came down Highway 88, over Carson Pass, a more direct route, that roughly parallels Highway 50, to Sutter Creek and Highway 49 (the 49er Highway), and eventually Escalon.

Posted by: laloomis | November 24, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The Ultimate Beetle Fansite:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

This 88 highway was a route not discovered and made passable by explorer Kit Carson, but by a remnant of the disbanded Mormon Battalion, which after 1847 had stayed behind at Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. The highways signs on the curvy road barely hint at its history. These Mormons were looking for a better way east to rejoin their brethern at the Great Salt Lake, they having stayed to try their luck in the mines for several months after gold was discovered in January 1848.

Even Tragedy Springs still retains its name, the spot where the remains of Brothers Browett, Allen and Cox, members of a late June scouting party, were found by the entire company of 37 several in July 1848--their bodies terribly mutilated and dumped into a shallow grave. Since we were coming down the highway in reverse order as the explorers, we had, shortly after leaving Tahoe, passed through Hope Valley, where the small Mormon band, after crossing Carson Pass had originally begun to have a sense of hope.

Next stop, Escalon.

Posted by: laloomis | November 24, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Joel's adding beetles to his chili?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 24, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

SCC: The party of 37 came to a spring after rising out of the golden foothills and a member of the party was very eager to quench his thirst. After taking a long drink at the spring, he accidentally came across a bloodstained arrow. The party's worst fears about the missing men were soon confirmed.

Posted by: laloomis | November 24, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, you've never heard of Chili Con Tres Escarabajos? It's kinda like three-bean salad, only the beans move.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Joel's making beetle chili over the flame of the giant gas planets? It gives a whole new meaning to "cooking with gas".

[Footnote: "cooking with gas" is a fine Southern expression meaning that things are going well, really hopping, moving right along. Compare: gas stove vs. wood stove. This pedantic moment brought to you by State Gummint Employees Inc., or the Faceless Beaurocracy.]

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 24, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

If Bob Wright dares to tread where Norman Mailer went and failed, more power to him.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Joel, I can be your lifeline for gas giants. It's like, something I mighta done wrote a dissertation in relation what with to. Somebody else will have to be your "special friend" on the subject of beetles.

By the way -- according to what I see in passing at meetings, the jury is reconsidering whether gas giants really give us much protection from comets and asteroids, or perhaps they are bullies who sit at the back of the class and shoot spitballs at our (respective) noggins. They disturb the orbits of small bodies and push, prod, poke, and perambulate them into orbits of greater eccentricity (more elliptical), so that they come down to the inner solar system occasionally and make themselves available for a collision. After which, they sue for damages.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 24, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

//I've become like the caretaker, the custodian, the guy who comes in on a riding mower. //

Really? I'd have said you get to drive the Zamboni, restarting the Boodlers with clean ice.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 24, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The Miles book, "God: A Biography" is all very well as far as it goes. Miles is a Bible scholar and he is very skilled at teasing out the meaning and the resonances in the Big Book. But, I am convinced that Wright is really onto something new and has something important to say about the nature of higher consciousness (that's my term, that comes close to describing the thing that is kind of a cross between the Bible God and human hive-mind.) Non-Zero really changed my conception of God and I'm looking forward to reading the book Wright is working on now.

Is there a God? Leaving my own opinion out of it for right now: I have been watching my husband work on this question for most of three decades. He has been through Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Satanism, various forms of California new-age theologies, and, yes, LSD. (Much of this was before we met). He has come to a sort of conclusion lately, and I have found it interesting and useful. He says, there's something in the universe, you can feel it, it wants you to live and be in harmony, and to be happy. That's all. It's enough for him.

Posted by: kbertocci | November 24, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

If we get all biocentric about gas giants, interpreting them in light of their perceived benefits for life-bearing objects (life as we know it, I mean) (sentient and capable of making chili), then how much beetles view humans and other animals? We're something like gas giants to them, perhaps. We may squash them or eat them, which is not very life-affirming, but we also provide much of the necessities of beetle existence. Perhaps we're like gas giant bullies, a not-quite malevolent cohort, encouraging random fatal collisions or providing the beetle food source and habitat at whim.

Or perhaps I'm taking this too far. And after all, even this suggestion of beetle-view is still All About Us, not about beetle-kind.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 24, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

My previous post would probably make more sense if it read "how must beetles" rather than "how much". But perhaps not.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

And kb's hubby would make the perfect pitch man for the Medium Large Arrhythmic, Almost All-Encompassing Holiday Hymn

See how many belief systems you can name.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

As if I don't have enough trouble with my self-image already, now I'm a gas giant to some cockroach.

I need a drink.

And a nap.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

If it's any comfort, mudge, you're a gas giant to a lot of us.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

We used to race beetles. Nothing much was at stake, maybe a beer.

I'd root for "my" beetle, and my buddy would cheer for his.

When I first heard the "big collision" theory about the moon's formation, I thought it good that fears of being thought a catastrophist had been put aside and the new idea considered seriously. But about that wandering "Mars-sized planet" that supposedly slammed into our proto-Earth, nothing more was said. Holy cow, you can't just deus-ex-machina a story like that! I want details, a name for the now-incorporated planet that whacked us; and I want to know where the heck THAT thing came from. Backstory! I need it! I blame Jove. But not for the lack of backstory. That's all us.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 24, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

At this gluttonous time of year, describing humans as gas giants in relation to any other beings is less metaphorical than we'd hope.

Tried to post a good morning on the last boodle but it was held for review. Probably too long, and couldn't have been too important because I'm unwilling to rewrite it. It was just a 3 step plan for the Obama administration to save the world.

So, good afternoon boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

yello, you ol' sweet-talker, you.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And not to impinge on Brag's turf, but the Somalian pirates are buying Citibank:

They couldn't manage it any worse could they?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

yello-by far the best comment on your 1:06 link is-
"Wandering Willy from Kelowna, Canada writes: In recent news, Sandy Weill issued a statement aimed at the pirates that he would sooner cut off his leg than see Somali Pirates own the company he helped create. The pirates agreed, and after having Sandy fitted for his new peg leg have offered him the reins of the new company if he agrees to change his name to Sandy "Bottom" Weill and wear an eyepatch."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I spent quite a large chunk of my life struggling with the God question.

It is clear to me that the assumption that anything we cannot understand intellectually cannot exist is wrong. This would be like asserting that we cannot exist because a little black beetle is unable to understand the workings of our minds.

Therefore, I reject the notion that there cannot be a God. There certainly could be.

But here is where it gets a little dicey. As I cannot intellectually reconcile my rational mind with the existence of God, I am forced to accept the existence of a Supreme Being on Faith. On an acceptance of something that I "feel" but cannot understand.

This is where it gets a lot dicey. I cannot summon up this faith. (Lord knows I have tried.) I simply cannot "choose" to believe any more than I can "choose" to like meatloaf. And I refuse to fake it.

And here's where it gets really, really dicey.

I don't think the unwillingness to fake religious faith makes me a bad person. For whatever reason a hypothetical God has simply refused to give me that gift.

I can only assume He has His reasons.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so much to chew on in this Kit...

First of all, on the pedantic side, can anyone prove that there *isn't* life in the atmospheres of gas giant planets? Perhaps some sort of living whale-like gasbags that take sustenance from complex chemical exchanges, high in the clouds, like Rush Limbaugh but without a radio show.

Gas giant planets *might* exist to sweep comets and other debris from entering the orbits of mineral- rich rocky worlds of the inner planets like giant Roombas, but they might also have their own kinds of life.

The 'verse as we observe it is larger and more complex than we humans can grasp right now, and life itself might be a by-product of rocks and water left too long at room temperature:

Perhaps we're like bread mold with a bad attitude.

As you point out, perhaps this 'verse isn't about life as we understand it. After all, the observable matter in the 'verse - people, stars, planets, gas, dust, anything we can Observe - constitutes about 4% of Everything. And of that 4%, how much do we actually Understand?

When I consider that 96% of the 'verse consists of things we can't even directly perceive but have only sussed out to explain the results from our little human tabletop experiments and what we see through our magnifying glasses, it makes me consider that there could very well be Something Bigger Going on, and we might essentially be ants on a construction site.

With regards to God and the 'verse - I've always said that I'm not comfortable with mixing science and faith. Science is about proving or disproving ideas by experimentation and observation to gather information and facts, while faith seems to me to be about embracing ideas and spiritual feelings whether they're provable or not.

A friend of mine suggests that the Universe is like God's 8th grade science project that's been put up on a shelf in the back of a closet somewhere.

Other than providing my own critique of it (which will include a long long list of questions), I'd be curious to know what grade was awarded.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I like your line of reasoning RP Padouk. Were you schooled by Jesuits? They seem to be able to train a better class of atheist.

God was inordinately fond of invertebrate in general. She sure took her sweet time designing all those none to 1000-legged little critters.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

What I am trying to say is that when I encounter someone with true sincere religious faith, I do not feel disdain. Rather, I feel envy.

But enough of such heavy thoughts.

Regarding beetles. Ladybugs redeem the entire category for me. Which reminds me, this is typically the time of year when those orange light-seeking Asian Beetles start swarming. I look forward to it.

My wife, not so much.

But as much as I love ladybugs, there is something creepy about many other beetles. And I think I have figured out why. It isn't that their appearance, as much as their tendency to hide under things and then surprise you with their presence.

Anything that startles me (which is shockingly easy to do) will eventually end up on my bad side.

As many coworkers have come to understand.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Alternate title for this kit:

From Beetlejuice to Betelgeuse

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Not schooled by Jesuits, but certainly influenced by their thinking. But I reject the term "atheist" for myself. I am an agnostic. I lack the faith to consider myself an atheist.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Not exactly beetle related, but my house has been overcome by gnats. They seem particularly fond of the kitchen sink area, but can be found in the upstairs bathroom, the living room, and wherever I leave an undrinken glass of juice.

We have searched in vain for the source of the gnats, but have come up empty. I resorted to hanging some flytraps over the sink which are collecting a fine display of specimens but not seriously denting the overall gnat density.

Any ideas, suggestions, or snide comments regarding my poor housekeeping?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I, too, believe in Things I Cannot Comprehend. Like multi-dimensional crystallographic group theory.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 24, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey Yello!

What are the pirates going call their new head office, The Hostage Tower?

Posted by: Braguine | November 24, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

or Tensor Fields.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

yello, here's how to get rid of the gnats: in areas where they seem to collect, put out a bottle (like a wine bottle or beer bottle, with a narrow neck) with about half an inch of a sweet liquid in it--wine, for example. The gnats go for the sweetness, can't escape from the bottle, and eventually drown.

Works like a charm.

And don't leave undrinken [sic] glasses of juice sitting about. The gnats go for the sweetest available liquid, so make sure the stuff in the trap bottle is sweeter than what's lying about.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

yello-they could be fruit/vegetable loving gnats, or fungus gnats. In both cases, the sticky trap and finding the source is the way to go. I'd start by pouring a bleach solution in the sink drains, and running the garbage disposal for a while with plenty of water. See if there is a lone squishy potato left in a bag in your pantry, or some other forgotten bit of vegetation (which is more a reflection of a busy life than housekeeping BTW). If they are fungus gnats they are hatching in your houseplant soil. Repot and give them a shower.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, if Mudge is our gas giant, then I must be our red dwarf (unless there's such a thing as a gas gnome).

Actually, I'm probably more like the Red Dwarf from the BBC series... a garbage collector aimlessly wandering the universe with a snarky computer in charge and a crew that go out of their way to drive each other insane.

Posted by: martooni | November 24, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The problem with floating gasbag life in gas giant atmospheres is a matter of buoyancy. With what would these organisms fill themselves to attain buoyancy? The atmosphere is composed of roughly 89% hydrogen and 10.9% helium (if our own gas- and ice-giant planets may be used as an example). In order to stay afloat, an organism must maintain a gas temperature well above the local atmosphere (not *too* difficult, given local temperatures of -100°C and chillier) so as to be hot-hydrogen balloons. Meanwhile, what mechanism will provide for the evolution of these organisms from large self-assembling molecules that do not, themselves, have not-H2 balloons attached? I am prepared for the possibility that the infinite inventiveness of the universe will slap me down for being a limited-mind numbskull, but I am not inclined to make any large wagers in favor of such organisms existing. I am much more inclined toward bacterial life in the aerosol cloud droplets of Venus, where life might once have evolved upon the surface before the run-away greenhouse effect, and might yet persist on the perennial updrafts.

And now, I am off to hear a talk about how 90% of Earthly life once was wiped out, a mere 252 million years ago, by mechanism unknown but several have been postulated. Just think, Life on Earth is known from about 3.7 billion years ago. 93% of Life's existence on this only-recently-green-and-verdant orb was spent establishing itself, then 90% of known marine taxa from that time were eliminated. Life is tough, and then you are mysteriously exterminated.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 24, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Smeg off, Rimmer.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Alas, Padouk, I can't be anywhere near as idealistic as you about encountering people with "true, sincere, religious faith." While many of them are fine people whose intelligence as well as religious knowkldge and feelings I respect, a lot of other with the same "true sincere, religious faith" are total wack jobs, insane zealots, dangerous people, ignoramuses,-- the full range of miscreants and psychopaths. Without a doubt, Osama bin laden has "true, sincere religious faith," as did all 19 guys on the airplanes that went into the towers. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and especially that *&^%$#&^ preacher named Walsh (?) who goes around to funerals veterans protesting about gays, most TV evangelists, Torquemada, the kamikazis who died for Shinto and the emporer, Jim Jones, the wack job and his cult who committed suicide so they could join the space ship, and about a zillion other people all have true, sincere faith, and I cannot remotely respect anyhting whatsoever about their faiths or religious ideas and beliefs. See also the Style section article today about the people who claim to be "real" vampires; these people, too, seem to have sincere beliefs.

To me, sincerity and faith, all by themselves, are meaningless withouts some context and infrastructure. Sincere people with strong faith have committed more murder and mayhem in this world than anyone else-- certainly more than most atheists and agnostics and people with doubts and questions and hesitations ever did.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Yello... you owe me a new coffee.

And for some reason I'm suddenly in the mood for a vindaloo and a pint or three of Guinness.

Posted by: martooni | November 24, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex.

-Annie Savoy
(boy, do I miss random boodle handles)

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, bc, for reminding me of the giant gaseous space whales someone described in a fairly recent Boodle. I like to think of space whales frolicking amidst gaseous planets all over this universe. As for ScienceTim's excellent question about what would hold them up, I nominate something out of the 96% of the universe we have not yet observed and/or do not understand. It is just as plausible to accept that some unknown mechanism or substance promotes space whale buoyancy as it is to accept the joyous congregation of space whales.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 24, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Yello, it's been well known for a while that fruit flies come to be by spontaneous generation. Or so I believe.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-you may find it heartening, as I do, that Obama has not been attending church since election day.

As a self-identified heathen I am more the indifferent form of irreligious than anti, but I feel better knowing the president elect is spending some quality time in the gym than I would if he spent the same time in a pew (any pew).

Speaking of self-identifying as a heathen, I'm looking for a better term. Like RD I don't have enough faith to be an atheist, and though I have some doubt I don't care enough to be a questioner so agnostic appears to be out as well. Heathen works well enough, but implies lack of knowledge or exposure to religious teachings and that is not right either. Suggestions?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree, frosti... atheism is like a religion to many. I prefer another term as well. I do like heathen myself. I'm not much help, am I?

Posted by: -TBG- | November 24, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Secular humanist.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse


Apathetic agnostic? Works for me.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 24, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I think you're being a little Solocentric with your assessments of the composition and temperature of gas giant planetary atmospheres in other planetary systems.

Most exo-solar planetary systems we can detect do *not* appear to be like our Solar System, so I don't see that the examples of planets, chemical compostions and temperatures in our system necessarily apply.

As far as what kinds of life could arise on worlds different from ours, when I look at the amazing diversity and variety of life on this planet, from extremeophiles living in volcanic vents deep under the ocean, to jellyfish, to fish, whales, trees, grass, flowers, insects, lizards, to the conscious ground-lubbing bags of water that we are (much less the precise evolutionary mechanisms that led to *us*, *Tim), I guess I can't say what's possible or impossible in this almighty big 'verse of ours. Hey, you're not a numbskull, man.

Personally, *I'd* be willing to wager that somewhere in this 'universe you can find just about anything you can think of, if you know where to look.

For all I know, maybe even God.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse


I didn't see *Tim mention Napoleon OR Han...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 24, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh no... mudge... the Secular Humanists take atheism-as-a-religion thing waaaay too far.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 24, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm -- balls of gas with moons. Joel -- I have a conference call in about 8 minutes, and if I'm still howling with laughter by then, it's all *your* fault. Very, very funny -- well, to me it is. . . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 24, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I would be a non-practicing atheist then. It's getting complicated.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Unchurched heathen?
Unrepentant sinner?
Cursed infidel?
Passenger on the ship of the damned?
Thoughtful college graduate?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

May I interrupt the atheological discussion to share this?

Wildly off-topic, but it made me laugh uncontrollably.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 24, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

which, dear mudge, I always spoonerism-read as

scapular humorist

Thanks, for your thoughts RD and Bc -- nice for me to read here. I work in an environment where the last acceptable ism is directed at Catholics and evangelical types.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of cursed infidels, I burst burts out laughing when I read that yesterday. A fatwa against yoga. What's next, Pilates?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, I understand your point of view about that organization, TBG. I would argue that "secular humanist" is a broad, generic term that used to have a reasonably understood generic meaning. Now, yes, this outfit has come along and claimed it for itself, and I suppose there's not much I can do about it, except refuse to go along with their appropriating a piece of language that doesn't belong to them.

The other side of the coin is that one hears a fair number of the Religious Right pounding away at the evils of all them secular humanists out there, and they aren't trying to beat up on that particular outfit you cited, they are beating up on the broad class of people under my first, older, generic definition. And the RR's don't give a damn about the details and fine points and distinction; they only want a whipping boy. But the point is, the RR uses the term generically, and so do I, and there is nothing wrong with it as a generic term.

If one goes to the Wikipedia entry, , there is a perfectly good, perfectly adequate discussion of SH without much reference to that one outfit (though it is mentioned). The article points out that there is such a thing as humanism in general, as an idea and philosophy, with branches such as Christian humanism and religious humanism.

So I would argue for keeping a broad general definition for the term SH, and not allowing the Council to appropriate the term all to themselves. That would be like some of the Christian denominations claiming to speak for all Christians, and getting to decide who is and who isn't a "true" Christian, according to their lights.

We must resist this.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Yello... you forgot "wealthy poet" in your list.

Posted by: martooni | November 24, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

When I was a child and young adult I was a profoundly religious person. I was someone who truly felt the comfort of belief. I didn't abandon faith out of anger or trauma, it just sort of evaporated. And there are times when I miss it.

Now, it is obvious that intense religious feelings have been abused for evil. But the same could be said for any kind of love. It's always a double edged sword.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Catholics are none too keen on yoga either:


Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

...took me a while to remember Napoleon Solo.

And wait a durn minute on that argument that them out there ain't (idn't) like us in here, inside our Systéme Solaire! Exoplanets seem to have many dynamical and structural differences from us, but there's presently little evidence that their fundamental composition is different from ours. Admittedly, there's no evidence that it's the same as ours, but that would be my null hypothesis.

(Why "little" vs. "no" in my rant? Gaseous sodium has been demonstrated in the atmosphere of at least one exoplanet. Despite being different from our own planetary system, this is consistent with expectations based on known physics and chemistry, which is why the observation targeted that atomic species.)

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 24, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, in theory you are right. But, language and the people who use it, cannot be controlled.

Conotated meanings are nearly always more powerful that denoted meanings.

I guess that we should all resist stereotyping, especially. And, look for common ground upon which to hold a sustained and civic conversation.

Meant to say, KB, that I appreciate the detail on you husband's journey. I like that he is arriving at the notion of something personal and inclined with affection toward creation (and, great frustration I expect, at our inhumanity to one another).

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I downloaded this fellow's sudoku program a long time ago. Not many bells 'n' whistles but with some variants not to be found elsewhere. He calls it "solo" as I think he got it way before it was a worldwide fad. Now it has even more variants; the "jigsaw sudoku" is wracking my brain. And so is the 4-color map solver called "map."

Somehow I think you would like these, RD. I know many others here would, too.

And earlier I meant "multidimensional symmetry group theory" not the other.

I will leave the arguments today for the others. I just assume we are a simulation; the old hypothesis the Matrix sort of ruined with bad writing. Speaking of which, there was a much better (followed its own logic anyway) movie on the theme (well, a similar theme) Existenz

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 24, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, CqP, we might have an interesting go-round on whether language can be "controlled." I suspect there's a whole passle of definitions and semantics we'd have to agree on first.

As one who gets paid to control language, and who does so all the time, I have to come at it from the other side. I don't object to language changing; and yes, it does so all the time. But it isn't some anarchic process over which we have no control.

The term "secularism" dates back to 1846, so it has been around a long time. The term humanism dates way back farther. These aren't some new, shiny toys recently come onto the scene; they have history and context and (to stray into Ivansmom's field) "precedence." We can't just throw up our hands and say what the hell, let the Council on SH decide what the term means. It ain't theirs to decide, and it doesn't work that way.

It starts with what Frosti said: there ought to be a perfectly good, common word to describe people like her, and she's dead right. And I'm not wedded to "secularist," or "humanist," necessarily, but she seems to me to fall under the very generic definition of a humanist as I understand the word, and I attach no negative connotations to it. And if she doesn't wanna be one, that's OK too. But yes, there needs to be a reasonable, value-neutral word/definition, and I submit "humanist" is as good as any out there.

Yes, language changes, and there are always barbarians at the gates. But CqP, you and I are almost always the people up on the watchtowers trying to keep the barbarians out.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, we are in a fine biz: language clean up and control.

But, be real! I am at a dike, with fingers and toes pressed against the fissures. i stitch and sew, mortar and patch, bob and weave, take bullets....but

STILL. (they). COME. PHILISTINES! (the).

But, perhaps tis better in government land. Perhaps they do use plain language willingly and compliant;
the Oxford comma consistently;
document design diligently;
words of clarity convincingly

....etcetera. etcetera. etcetera (Yul Brynner style!)

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Not to interrupt this high-minded theosophical discussion but Evangeline Lilly has been cheating on you. Here she is swapping palm sweat with Dominic Monaghan:

The hussy.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

O would that were true! But I think I am surrounded by more barbarians than you are. Your barbarians are simply lazy and largely unschooled. MY barbarians think they know better, because they have doctoral degrees in engineering or statstics, or worse, were appointed by George Bush. MY barbarians think their s--- don't stink.

And you have Classroom Power; you have the Authority of the Teacher. I have squat.

Plain language? I have in my desk drawer a Presidential Directive to use plain language. There is actually a Plain Language Association that goes around giving lectures.

All in vain, all in vain.

The best things I ever learned about editing I learned as a baseball umpire. (Including some of the colorful language, as well as the all-important attitude and persona.) Which is not to be concerned with the score, or who wins and loses. I just try to keep the game honest and enforce the rules.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Old news, yello, old news.

You missed my post a couple weeks ago when I said better Dominic than Sawyer, although everyone knows she belongs to Jake (or me).

I will forgive her anything. Anything.

(Actually, I think this is the single-most sensible match in all of Hollywood. She picked a nice guy who makes her laugh. With all those mindless stud muffins running around, all those posers and fakes and jerks, she picked the one kinda guy I'd approve of: the class clown. The good guys finally win one! There IS hope after all!)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Jack

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, we do our level best. Barbarians at the gate, etc. But the God of Commas will smile upon us, saying:

Good and Faithful Mr. Cur Mudge Geon, enter in, Sir, enter in. Your mansion awaits.

Barbarian? Would that work for our kindly secularians? Nah.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I thought humanism started with Plato. Is my memory of philosophy breaking down, like the rest of my mind? I wouldn't be surprised. Humanism has a long and wonderful tradition and there is much to respect and commend in it.

As a person of faith, I must agree that religion has its dark and terrible places. It is human, after all, and subject to human frailties and failings. But how much of that was religion and how much politics using religion for its own ends?

Consider the history of the 20th century. Eleven million people died in the Holocaust. Millions died in the Gulag. Millions more in the Cultural Revolution in China, as well as in the rise of communism in that country. There were the killing fields in Cambodia. What all these events have in common is a lack of religion and morality.

I have many doubts, and I know very little. But one thing I do know: I am not good, and there is nothing that I can do to make myself good. If I am to find hope, it must come from outside myself. I can hardly call myself a Christian, though I try to be worthy of the name. I am grateful for the journey, and the little peeks at the light that God has vouchsafed me.

So, Frosti and RD, blessings upon you, and call yourselves whatever seems right.

Posted by: slyness | November 24, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Our dear Frosti a barbarian? No, I can't countenance that one, not by any means. Helo-mayor, perhaps. Aviacenturion. Bureaubabe. Civilist of Servants. A barbarian not.

I wonder what the God of Commas will do to me: I valiantly apply the Serial Comma rule, even though I hate and despise it as though it were astroturf or the designated hitter rule. Here I am enslaved to my rule books. (Sometimes.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-I think secular humanism would just about work except for the first principle outlined in the wikipedia article:
"Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith."

Here's where the "I don't care" problem creeps in. Until someone's dogma requires me to toil, in fact or through the payment of taxes, to support something not supported by evidence then I don't care if it gets tested. If it is testable, and comes up a winner, but another person got there by faith alone, it's no skin off my nose.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's as may be, Frosti. Your call. But I don't think one has to meet the acid test on each and every one of those terms.

I suppose you could be an apathicist.

Me, I'd go with bureaubabe if I were you.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 24, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Yet uncooked Hades-fodder.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, how about if you be one of the

sylphs of the north; a forest creature like a dryad, etc.

And, you can be an animist of some sorts, as in animated by life. You do not have to carry a microscope or telescope of discrimination, and testing.

Have some ancient nordic runes if you like.....or a tribal talisman...

You can simply be.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Lay off the Philistines. What did they ever do to you?

We barbarians can take care of ourselves.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 24, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

As we all queue up for he11...

I'd like to see an "Anti-ism-ist" word sometime-- somebody who rejects all -isms.

Probably spelled "antisumist"

I like pagan, too bad it's been coopted for a specific religion by now.

"Pagan" just has that old-time "party, not piety" feel to it.

People who don't believe, but look to believe can be called "seekers."

Mudge said it with a lot of venom, but he's right about the harm done, but I disagree on why.

A lot of people with inflexible faith often tend to be afraid of jeopardizing it to any degree. Either it's brainwashing, or it's a haunting feeling that if they stop to look at it too carefully, it'll fall apart on them. They're insecure.

Sometimes, of course, they just wrap their own hel1ish plots in the guise of religion to gain followers.

That said, I personally find Doubting Thomas to be my favorite saint-- heck, my religious figure ever.

Loved seeing the Cathedral de San Thome in Madras, where his bones are supposedly laid to rest, although the theological scholar said that was unlikely to be true, although Doubting Thomas DID get the short straw and went to India and founded the oldest continuous christian community there in Kerala.

I've called myself a doubter before, and been proud to do so.

The word "irreligious" is a good one if you don't mind a slight sense of being in a laxative ad.

See you at the garters of the lost socks and the darned.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Lost socks to be darned.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC2: "The theological scholar among us"

I can see that my grammar is now in a state of chaotic flux... yet again.

And me with something important to revise tonight, too.

To food then a stroll afterward, I do believe.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse


Laughing about the pagans: most likely to party. Very Saturnalian of you.

I worked with two neoPagans (their preferred special spelling trick). They hosted the office holiday party one year. I was among the first to arrive, bearing some food platter no doubt. Just what I cannot for the life of me remember. Why? Because this image erased that memory forever.

They arose, dripping in their birthday suits, from a hot tub on the back deck. Birthday suits, I tell you. So for me, Pagans are, indeed, party animals.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear, there go the quiche cups all over the deck. How unexpected a greeting.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

neoPagans, you say. *scribble scribble*
They sound like a clean bunch.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 24, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Boko, you are funny. Always.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 24, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Nonessential details were lost at the vision of the birthday suits, eh, CP? I'm sure that was disconcerting, at least.

Naturists, I think they call themselves these days, not nudists.

Posted by: slyness | November 24, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, very funny, Boko.

No flies on you-- nor on them either, for sure.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

On the up side, if you ever want a nude model for a painting, you sure know whom to call, CP.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I used to be on Pan's party list. He'd throw these wild woodland raves with all sorts of nekkid folk drinking and eating and cavorting and taking great joy in performing unnatural acts on each other.

The music was a little cheesy -- always had to have a damn flute solo, and never anything like Ian Anderson. But hey... the drinks were free.

Still not sure what I did to get dropped from the invite list. Hey Pan! If you're out there, give me a ring, buddy!

Posted by: martooni | November 24, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

How did we get 'round to talking about beetles and exoplanets and not discuss Heinlein's "Starship Troopers?" [Or the movie, for that matter?]

*Tim, re. your 3:26 PM.

You're making me laugh, man.
All I'm saying is that exo-solar planets are different from those around here -- different enough that should life have arisen or taken root there, that it would subjected to different conditions, might have taken evolutionary paths different from Terrestrial life, and would more likely than not be different from life here. [Possibly resulting in giant Limbaughian Gasbag lifeforms]

I'm glad that they've detected gaseous sodium and even methane in the atomospheres of exosolar planets, but I think we have a whole universe's worth of learning to do.

Heck, we're continually surprised by what we find here on Earth, aren't we?

To Sum it All Up - beetles, gas giants, exobiology, the meaning of life, religion, science, the 'verse, Everything - I'm skeptical of anyone who claims that they have all the answers.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Were there beetles on that bug planet? I just remember the giant cave crickets and the big maggoty thing that Neil Patrick Harris went all "mind meld" with.

Of course, I forget some of the details.

Except for that shower scene which I distinctly recall was, um, rather neoPagan.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

*thankfully incoherent babbling about the heartless depredations visited upon the sublime Mr. Heinlein's work by the Hellions of Hollywood*


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 24, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

On NBC News a minute ago, Brian Williams said that giant meteor in Western Canada last week was as large as a tractor-trailer, and that scientists are looking for the impact spot, because it was still big enough to have hit the ground. So Yoki, dr, SoFC, c'mon, get out there and start looking.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 24, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I read an article in a Canadian paper last week giving tips for what to do if you find pieces of the meteor - they thought then that it might have broken into a large number of pieces before hitting the ground.

So for the Albertans - keep some plastic bags in your pocket to pick up the pieces - so the meteor pieces do not get contaminated!

Posted by: dmd2 | November 24, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Curmudgeon back! That alternate sign-in causes me a little consternation.

I read that story on the SpaceCanada site a couple of days ago, and I think, if it really re-entered, we'd've heard about it by now. I'm pretty sure it burned in its own heat and was erased.

Posted by: Yoki | November 24, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

RD, I thought that the anti-aircraft bugs that shot plasma out of their abdomen were kinds of beetles, as were the tank bugs.

Granted, the main bugs in ST were technically not "bugs" per se, but arachnids IIRC.

Mudge, when I saw that video last week, I *thought* that meteor looked like it was heading for the ground, but figured that it might have just been going over the horizon.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I always carry plastic bags and dog treats in my pockets but it's not to pick up meteor pieces.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Me too Shriek, between the dog treats in most of my coat pockets and assorted Mom related stuff (basically everything but the kitchen sink in my purse) scrambling for change at stores can be a little embarrassing.

However, should I ever encounter meteor fragments I am set.

Posted by: dmd2 | November 24, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Some years ago John Updike received an award from a religious group for his writings. He was rather surprised since he referred to himself as a "church-going agnostic" but they were impressed with his work. I like that phrase. I used it myself (if you're gonna steal, steal from the best) until I stopped going to church.

Posted by: -pj- | November 24, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

You're just the handyman around here, huh Joel?

Where have I heard that before? ;)

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 24, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Good line. So, what are you now, pj?

A bar-going agnostic?

A golf course-going agnostic?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 24, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

*digging through the closet for my light sabre*

Posted by: -jack- | November 24, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

There are as many types of agnostics as there are questions about Life, the Universe and Everything.

Brings to mind the phrase "herding cats".

Which may explain why dogmatic churches have so much trouble attracting, catching and keeping agnostics in their folds.

Faith is a beautiful thing if you can give yourself up to it (at least that's what I hear). I'm not there yet, but not for a lack of trying.

And I'm not opposed to attaining it.

In fact, I'd be happy to install a sign in my front yard that reads "Epiphanies Welcome". The only problem is that epiphanies are deeply personal and not very shareable.

So it goes, eh?

Posted by: martooni | November 24, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

bc - you were quite right. I had totally forgotten about that whole anti-aircraft plasma-spitting mega beetle motif.

Aw, the joys of cinema.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 24, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Joel riding in on a lawn mower. Now, would that be with the hat or without it? ;)

Posted by: MissToronto | November 24, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Miss Toronto!! Hey, ya know, you don't stop by here near often enough.

How ya been? Whatcha been up to?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 24, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm holding out on a description for now, Wilbrod. I have a feeling that the description will become accurate again sometime.

Posted by: -pj- | November 24, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

In the omni/bc battle for the tiara, Nawlins kicks a field goal to go into halftime leading 24-21. And I may not make it till the end, so whoever's still up and watching at midnight, feel free to report the outcome (bc has the Saints).

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 24, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Gadzooks, Mudge - six touchdowns in the first half, and you're going to go to sleep?

We'll see if NO hangs on for the second half. The lack of a running game or a substantial pass defense is somewhat worrisome to me.

RD, I'm glad to help with your Bug Identification. Except that it makes me look like a dork.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

66 points in that game?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 24, 2008 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Apathicist. I think that just might work. I'll have to try it out on Mr. F. Thanks Mudge.

Made the long drive to town and back tonight for a political meeting. Nice to see the continued involvement of young people. In the pre-Obama days I would have been the youngest person in the room.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 24, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

sd, 74 and counting.

Still most of the 4th quarter to go.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

So, Green Bay's down 51-29 (that's 80, sd)with 2:50 or so left, 4th down and 19 at their own 30, what are the Packers doing punting?

Why not take a shot? They could get the first down, or even an illegal contact or pass interference call that gives them an automatic first down.

Instead the coach gives up on the team. This will come back to haunt the Packers, I think.

Hey, the game's over.

Holy cannoli, I won the Tiara this week.

Gonna have me a big glass of port and some NyQuil to celebrate (still not completely over that cold, unfortunately).

G'night all. I'll save the victory dance until tomorrow.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm just kidding about the victory dance.

That kind of tasteless mocking is reserved specifically for my brothers.


Posted by: -bc- | November 24, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Yes, bc wins the coveted tiara this week, and gets to wear it through the Thanksgiving Day holidays-- they don't call it Black-Friday-With-Tiara for nuthin', ya know. Although with the economy the way it is, the may just call might call it Dark Battleship Grey Friday this year.

Not a lot ot report on the news and op-ed pages. Maybe that's a good thing, dunno. Gotta run: got to make up my T-day shopping list.

See yuns later.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 25, 2008 5:58 AM | Report abuse

I watched the rest of the game bc, I was just speechless.
The place looks like Santa's village this morning. About 6in. of white stuff fell overnight.
It is a slow news day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 25, 2008 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Not that slow a news day, there is this story out of Houston, would have skipped over this had Joel not mentioned it the other day.

Posted by: dmd2 | November 25, 2008 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Morning Boodle!

We were just this close to have having our project finished when one of the key lawyers did A Bad Thing, so today will be intense. Gotta run. Have a lovely winter day, with your extra-long weekend on the horizon.

Posted by: Yoki | November 25, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Cassandra, I hope you are warm and dry this morning. Yikes, Yoki, I hope the intensity has a positive outcome!

Fifty-six days till January 20, 2009. I hope we survive. I'm glad to be hearing good things about the new economic team and hope they can make a positive difference. Yesterday, we heard a rumor about a candidate to head FEMA that, if true, will be great for the country and the world.

I'm going to be into Thanksgiving prep today, so I might as well get started. First up is a trip to the grocery store. Harris Teeter today, then to the specialty store tomorrow to pick up the fresh turkey. The things I do for my family!

Posted by: slyness | November 25, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

bc, RD_P, yer killin' me... Stop already with the faux ST movie stuff!!! :-P

*uneventful-Dawn-Patrol-that-will-undoubtedly-seem-action-packed-compared-to-tomorrow's-version Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Didn't mean to torment, ScottyNuke. I recognize that ST - The Movie - differs greatly in tone and intent from Heinlein's book. Although I am not a big fan of Heinlein, for reasons discussed long ago, I did enjoy Starship Trooper.

Oddly, what I remember most was the admonition to the main character from his superior not to let his administrative duties keep him from staying in shape and getting enough sleep.

Probably the most useful piece of philosophy I ever got from Heinlein.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 25, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all,

Looks like many of us are grocery shopping this morning, then followed by baking, etc. I will do my plate of fudge, home made pecan pies plus a lovely chocolate fudge cake, via Whole Foods for a family Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Others will do the pumpkin/and or apple pies with fresh whipped cream. I am very, very thankful that the gathering of a very large family is my SIL's responsibility this year, and she does it with great pleasure.

Joel's kit answer to the question, is there a God?:

" We all know what we mean by God, which is someone who CARES about us, and has unlimited power, and in terms of the universe as a whole bears a great deal of accountability. The buck stops there. Exists beyond normal constraints of time and space. Has qualities of a living entity but unlike living entities has permanent cosmic tenure."

Is a comfort to me. Some may it a childish faith, but I prefer to call it a childlike faith, (mine), works for me....

Blessings, you all.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 25, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Whaddabout TANSTAAFL, RD_P? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Great kit, Joel.

There is an awful lot of land out there to cover if we have to start looking for a meteor, and right now, tis the season where we are awaiting snow. Once it snows, all bets are off.

Posted by: --dr-- | November 25, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

Yawl be pleased to hear the pirates grabbed another ship.

Today's ransom rates are 15% of the value of the cargo.

Posted by: Braguine | November 25, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

True, ScottyNuke, true. That's why you always have to stick a few bucks into the donation basket to keep from violating COTR ethics rules.

This has been your obscure government employee reference of the day.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 25, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

This made me laugh:

Although this is not really the change I'm talking about, it will also be a welcome difference that government policy in all matters of science policy, from stem-cell research to the search for intelligent life in the universe, will no longer have to be vetted by focus groups comprised of high school graduates bused in by Karl Rove from the Bible-belt megachurches.

Posted by: Braguine | November 25, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, Black-Friday-With-Tiara sounds like a good name for a painting. I'm picturing a Michael Godard-type thing, with a tiara-wearing olive muscling ahead of others in line at Best Buy while swilling a martini. To help with the imagery:

Posted by: Raysmom | November 25, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

"Bad lawyer, bad, bad lawyer," Yoki says sharpely.

Off to buy worms for one of the compost-leave caches. Apparently, many or all earthworms in some areas are invasive. Sigh, will not worry my fluffy, medium-sized head over this.

then, swing by the Box of Home Thingies for lime, then off to the grocery store for T-Day comestibles. I have bc's cold, if this is the one that never fully declares itself but stays and stays and stays.

Nothing new on the list save this: CPDot2 wants a very sour cherry something to cap the meal. Advice?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 25, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I had a coworker explain what TANSTAAFL meant to a client the other day. And he wasn't even an engineer. He may just be a closet geek.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

CqP, check your e-mail. Sent you my recipe for Faux Sour Four-Cherry Pie.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Only four cherries in a pie? Scrooge. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Did Yoki say that sharply or shapely? It makes a difference. At least to me. I'm picturing a kinda reverse-Spader in 'Secretary' discipline session going on.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Morning all
Cp,if those worms are still being invasive,i could borrow them take them for a little dip and scare the heck out of them.Then they would be happy in their new home......just a thought. Hope you feel better soon.

Not much gunfire this morning,although today seems like a nicer day then yesterday.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 25, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Just don't get any of those Arrakis Sandworms. Once your get those on your planet, they are murder to get rid of.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

A busy morning for me, but feel compelled to relate a dream I had about doing an end zone celebration.

I won't get into details, but I'm wearing my formal gladiator outfit (and a coating of EV olive oil, natch), the Football Tiara, feather boa, and the FMPs.

I awoke with a name for it -- "Victoria's Victory: La Danse Interdite de Marquer."

Scottynuke, I thought TANSTAAFL was from "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." I think if shows up in "Number of the Beast," too IIRC.



Posted by: -bc- | November 25, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls," "Friday," and probably a couple other titles too, bc...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Shapely AND sharply, which means she is most wondrous and excellent.

Red worms -- the smaller ones that eat forest duff. Most other earthwormies dig deeper.

GWE- will threaten them with this fate. All they need to do is work for me by eating and shIIItake-ing.

Thanks, Mudge. Got it. Do have one jar of sour can sometimes find this at mid-Eastern markets.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 25, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all...

Another slow start today. Currently waiting for the Aleve to kick in so my back will move with less violent protest.

CP... what about lemon ice or lemon sherbet topped with canned sour cherries and a drizzle of the syrup they come swimming in? Would be a light and refreshing topper for a big dinner. I'm thinking of a dessert I made for a big Indian (as in Eastern) dinner that I did several years ago for a friend. It was lemon ice served in little monkey bowls full of rose water. Was very good after a ton of curried lamb and rice.

My contribution to the family feast this year will be a fruit salad my Grandma used to make. Apparently, none of my surviving family members has the recipe and I seem to have lost Shirley MacLaine's phone number, so I'm winging it without help from the Great Beyond. Let's just say there will be bananas, peaches, fruit cocktail and tapioca pudding involved in the mix. I figure even if I get it wrong, it's very difficult to screw up fruit, so it should still taste good. If it turns out right it should be a creamy/syrupy mix of fruit with those little tapioca bits floating around in it to further thicken the syrup and will be heavenly.

And now I take off my Martha Stewart cap and put on my work boots... the Aleve is now working and so should I.

Peace out... :-)

(and safe travels to any of you heading over rivers and through woods early)

Posted by: martooni | November 25, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad Mudge suggested the sour cherry pie.

My grandmother used to make them - they were delicious with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.

Wow, there's a memory trigger...

Scottynuke, Heinlein was nothing if not derivative and self-referential over the last 20 years of his writing. Amusing yarns, but venturing a little too far into Creepy Old Man territory here and there, IMO.

Turned into a formula for best-sellers, IIRC.


Posted by: -bc- | November 25, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

No argument here, bc. Particularly about the whipped cream. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends.

I don't know where you are this morning, and how it is with you, but if you're reading this, then God's mercy and grace has allowed you to view his wonderful creations and works, including self. And that same mercy and grace through Christ will allow you to overcome or even win whatever the battle or situation you're facing this day. Take a minute, and pay attention, and you will see God at work. And please, above all, know that you are loved, with a boundless and endless love.

Slyness, there nothing like cold air to remove the cobwebs or the sleepy eye. Once one hits that concrete and that nippy air, it's like a jolt of electricity. And I did all this with a headache that wouldn't wait.

Scotty, Martooni, Mudge, and all, good morning.*waving*

My daughter has called this morning from the grocery store needing advice about turkey and what to buy. Not that she's going to cook a lot of this stuff, but bringing it here. Apparently, I will be cooking, if not my own, then for someone else. It's all good.

Have a great day, folks. Be safe, and keep warm. Time to work.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse


I hope you get to feeling better. When I think about you, I'm reminded of what a warm and friendly person you are. And the fact that you teach, puts you right at the top of my list.


If your real meals are anything like the virtual ones presented here, then eating sounds fantastic at your home.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh happy day! Hop into the morning with a great cup of coffee and find a boodle compatriot in my crusade for responsible worm disposal. The stuffy nose and head are mere trifles now.
From CP's link-
"A new study suggests that one European invader may be responsible for extirpating close to 30 percent of a highly endangered and unusual goblin fern growing in Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest."

Though it technically belongs to all Americans, this is our local forest and home to many remarkable plants. The goblin fern is not exactly the panda of the plant world, but I hope we've learned that invasive species rarely disturb just one native.
Here's more info on the goblin fern-

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 25, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised at the price of turkeys this year.I think the most I paid in years past was .39-.49 per pound,which is great considering how much you can do with the leftovers. So far the cheapest I have found is .89 a lb and that was for a 14 lb bird.So even though the price of gas has dropped a lot,the price of food and other items shipped by the cheaper gas has not.Just wondering when we may see lower prices elsewhere......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 25, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Is it the Annual Heinlein Bashing Festival again already? Because he was a fascist too.

And he was always creepy. It showed more as he got old.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I always find it reassuring when we periodically agree that Heinlein was skeevy. Similar to the rhythm of the seasons.

Cassandra, several of the boodlers are better qualified than I am to critique my cooking skills. You should ask them. I will say that if you invited me to your place, you'd have some reasonable help cooking the turkey and getting all the sides on the table, without becoming too exhausted to enjoy the feast. It would be fun.

Posted by: Yoki | November 25, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Since Linda was taking Friday off, I promised that we would be at their house by noon. She now works as the public information officer at Modesto Junior College. It was she who provided most of the publicity for NYT columnist Frank Rich's talk at the college on Nov. 15, the first big event for the college's auditorium after its $30 million renovation. Rich spoke to more than 800 people in Modesto just 10 days ago, according to the Modesto Bee.

If we weren't there at their home at noon, we would be on our way or fairly close.

It was hard to pull away from Sutter Creek and the inn. We'd had the best night's sleep of our vacation on one of their swinging beds, and the communal breakfasts for guests at the inn pull as many interesting characters to the two long tables as Johann Sutter's settlement must have about 150 years ago.

There was the French Canadian who worked in the accounting department at Mervyns in the East Bay who would soon be out of a job soon because of the chain's closing, along with his wife or girlfriend, up from Livermore. An older, retired couple was from Elk Grove and had met some years ago through Parents without Partners. A quiet couple to our right. The couple from the San Diego area, she involved in floral design; he working "for the same (Mormon) bank that Ed Smart (father of the kidnapped Elizabeth Smart) works for in Salt Lake City," she said. (I'm assuming Zions First National.)

We arrived at Linda and Phil's house in Escalon, one we'd never stepped foot in before, and caught up after 14 year's time. Phil arrived home after spending the night with a friend near Sacramento and we four had a late lunch. Linda and I drove a mile to the produce stand later in the afternoon for bags of fresh Valley produce, including fresh corn. We finally met the mature Robbie, a senior now at Escalon High. Last time we had seen him, he was a toddler. We met "their second son" for the school year, Gilles, a foreign exchange student from Wallonia, Belgium. We six had a nice dinner on the outdoor patio.

We pretty much monopolized their television that evening, watching news coverage of Hurricane Ike and the Weather Channel and the hurricane's impending landfall.

The next morning, we walked to a classic car show, a la "American Graffitti," at the park along the railroad tracks. Linda and I browsed and bought at a newly opened antiques store across from the park. We toured an excellent small early car museum tucked into a side street on our stroll back to the house. It was lunch at the Mexican restaurant--perhaps Escalon's only--that would begin to lead me to Ebershoff's latest book.

Posted by: laloomis | November 25, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC: 14 years' time

Posted by: laloomis | November 25, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

After years of being satisfied with frozen turkeys injected with all kinds of "self basting" stuff and a pop up thermometer, Mr. F has ordered an organic, fresh turkey to be delivered to the Hip Urban Loft today. I suppose it's too late to tell him I only wanted to look like we belonged in St. Paul, not actually adopt the whole ethos.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 25, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse


Believe me when I tell you it will taste just as good as the additive added turkey. ;-)

You may be surprised to find a pop-up thermometer in the organic bird, mine usually has one, make cookin' less primitive. Most of us have that old meat therm. in the back of the drawer somewhere, if all else fails.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 25, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse


VENTURE capitalists in New York and London are pumping millions of dollars into Somalia 's booming pirate sector. The sharp-eyed investors say Indian Ocean piracy has replaced Bangladeshi t-shirt factories as the developing world's strongest source of high-growth revenue streams.

Julian Cook, head of strategy at Porter, Pinkney and Turner (PPT), said: "The margins are very impressive. These guys can board a Chinese freighter or Saudi oil tanker and turn it around in less than a week. Usually without killing anyone.

"The staff are well-trained and they operate a structured bonus system involving the daughters of nomadic tribal chiefs and as much hallucinogenic tree bark as they can eat.

"The tax position is also very favourable given that Somalia isn't really what you would describe as a 'country' with 'laws' and a 'government'."

PPT has paid £25.7 million for a 32% stake in Captain Ahmed's Crazee Bastards with the initial tranche used for capital purchases including new speed boats, 200 yards of very strong rope and a gun the size of a cow.

The investment will also be used to establish an out-sourced personnel department to ensure the quick replacement of any colleagues shot by the Royal Navy during working hours.

Captain Ahmed will retain day-to-day management control and has also negotiated a clause allowing him to go 'ape-s**t crazee' and shoot everyone on board up to three times a year.

Posted by: Braguine | November 25, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

That's fab, brag. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Yoki | November 25, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Yoki. I'm going to insist that the daughter cook the bird, if she decides to buy one. She needs to learn how to do these chores in the kitchen. I'm doing some of the trimmings, and the "hog guts". I'll leave you to guess what that is.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

*faxing a big tureen of chicken soup it couldn't hurt to CqP for her cold, and to anyone else under the weather*

GWE, Food Lion has turkeys for 49 cents a pound, and Safeway has them at 79 cents a pound. At least in this region that's the price. YMMV. You folks got a Food Lion out there in WBGV?

*I'd fax you a big turkey, but the drumsticks get all hung up in the gears, and next thing ya know ya got gizzard parts spraying out of the in tray.*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse


Is that true or a joke? Somalia will never become a "true" country if that is the future. It's a joke right? I have to ask because I know somewhere in the world, there's someone out there that would do just that, if the money is right. Please tell me you're kidding.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

If you want to go truly organic with the turkey, you hunt the bugger down, catch it by the neck with your teeth and then shake your head rapidly from side to side until it's dead enough to pluck its feathers and cook it (preferably on a fire made from the leaves and twigs and whatever else fell off your trees naturally).

Otherwise it's like driving an SUV that runs on Ethanol made from corn (therefore driving up the price of a bushel of corn) that could otherwise be used to feed a hungry human kid.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: martooni | November 25, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, it's a joke.


Posted by: -bc- | November 25, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, Wal-Mart selling the bird for $1.18 per pound. The deal at Food Lion sounds much better, although it might not be the same here. That price at Wal-Mart is a little high.

Henry Paulson is on television giving us the latest update on the financial crisis. I suspect there may be a little tug of war "thingie" with these gentlemen. You know the ones coming in, and the ones going out. When Paulson talks about future actions, I keep wondering, is he still going to be around for that? Can he really make such statement concerning the future of the matter with such assurance?

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Well, sorta, bc. It's a joke that investors are investing in piracy. It's not a joke that Somalia basically doesn't exist as a functioning country; that part is true.

I must say, the tiara goes well with the full gladiator mise-en-scene and regalia; even with the boa.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Wilbrodog needs to get into the organic turkey business.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

BC, I thought it was a joke, but just wasn't real sure. There are so crazy people in the world. There just might be folks out there that want to get in on the pirating deal, and that isn't as far-fetched as it might seem. Of course, they would probably want to keep it hush-hush.

And Martooni, I nearly fell out the chair reading your post. Of course, the way to kill the bird is wringing its neck. Then you remove the feathers, and cook with twigs and leaves, which will take forever.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Since all the folks in the WaPo Food section recommend them, I checked into the cost of a fresh turkey. The farm recommended by my CSA wanted $6.95 per pound for them. So my 49 cents per pound frozen bird from Wegman's is now thawing in my fridge. On Thursday, I'm going to spatchcock that bad boy, brush him with olive oil, sprinkle him with herbs, and roast him atop a pile of garlic and onions. Never having tasted the organic version, we'll never know the difference.

Question for the boodle: What's your favorite side dish, and why?

Posted by: Raysmom | November 25, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

thanks Mudge,I had a bad meat experience with our local food lion and made a promise i would never go back,the only grocery store in town,so they could do whatever they wanted.But there is one near work and I will check it out.

martooni,i usually plenty of wild turkeys out here,but hey aren't dumb and slow like the domestic ones,plus right now in west by god is not the time to be in the woods.

Anyone remember the looney tunes mother-in-law hunting outfit?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 25, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

$6.95 a pound? And here I thought the pirates were all over in Somalia.

Somehow, I can't see Wilbrodog working "Wilbrodog's Organic Turkey Farm" and his company motto, "Gobble, gobble! Woof, woof" into a haiku.

But one never knows.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Heinlein skeevy, yes
literary contribution:
Slight, but I grok it.


Buckle up, boodle safe.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 25, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Glad you like the outfit, Mudge. I knew you would.

The question of Somalia's been much on my mind lately, and I'm wondering how differently we - as in Americans - would view that situation if we weren't engaged in two wars and an economy that's battered and reeling.

And should it make any difference...?


Posted by: -bc- | November 25, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

A couple of years ago I invested in an organic heritage turkey. It was rather bony and more narrow than the normal variety, with much smaller breasts. And the taste was not awesome.

I made sweet potato pies last night. Tonight I'm making cranberry chutney from a recipe someone posted a few blogs back on the Mighty Appetite blog.

Posted by: davemarks | November 25, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom: All of them, of course. :-)

We watched Alton Brown spatchcock a cornish game hen last night with a panini press. Ew. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom-that's easy. We call it "fling" or "filling." You probably know it as stuffing. The version Frostdaddy's father taught to Ma Frostbitten is the only edible version of stuffing, or so says the frostfam. The secret is to add mashed new potatoes to the breadcrumbs. I don't know if this is common in Pennsylvania, or just something he picked up and made traditional. Papa Frostdaddy died when I was 7 so I have few memories of him, except that he was a fabulous cook. Self preservation I'm sure. My Great Grandma Frostdaddy was notoriously awful in the kitchen, but thought nothing of piling the progeny and cousins onto a train for a day at Coney Island.

Martooni-I swore after my days as a subsistence hunter, gatherer, farmer (by necessity when I was getting my BA) that "with God as my witness" I would never pluck another chicken/turkey/duck/goose/grouse, field dress any mammal, or harvest wild rice. I might relent on the chickens. I'm tired of chicken that doesn't even taste like chicken.

I'll have to ask Mr. F what he's paying for the turkey. I don't grocery shop if I can avoid it, and now that we are in the same state I usually can.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 25, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, the part about pirate crews being paid in hallucinogenic tree bark is where I caught on.

Raysmom, I don't have a single favorite side dish. I love the combination of stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy.

Well, there is the matter of my Mom's candied yam casserole with brown sugar, butter, orange juice concentrate and marshmallows...


Posted by: -bc- | November 25, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

That 6.95/lb turkey probably had a diploma. Education ain't cheap you know. In France you can sometimes see poultry or meat that comes with a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing that this canard de Bress is actually a duck from Bresse or that fois gras is from Périgord. I called them ducks, chicken or meat with diplomas.

Just North of Quebec city there is a lot of turkey raising going on because there is no need for air-conditioning and turkeys are raised free-range. Some of them learn to fly short distances and escape the pens. Local hunters consider those escapees fair game, rightly or wrongly (what about an escaped cow?). The domestic turkeys are very poorly camouflaged, at least until winter and then they die.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 25, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, a panini press?? How do you remove the bird's backbone with that? I usually use kitchen scissors for chickens. The turkey requires something heftier, like gardening pruners.

My favorite side, hands down, is mashed potatoes. With butter. I could eat a whole serving bowl of them, nothing else, and be totally content. They bring back memories of Sunday dinners at my grandmother's. She always used real 'taters, milk, and butter, whereas Mom was a Potato Buds and margarine kind of gal. So I'm a fan of the lumps, too--proves that they're the real thing.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 25, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom, cranberry sauce. I don't know why unless it's because I hardly ever have it (and I don't know why *that's* true).

In an hour I'm taking a break and going to the library, dinner with a friend tonight, working the rest of the day. Tomorrow, I'm off, although I may work from home on Thursday. I'm going to a friend's house, pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie and crudite platter in hand (they're little, little pies). The turkey is defrosting in my fridge, they'll pick it up early on Thursday.

We're all hoping for something to force a no-go decision on this weekend's implementation, although that's tempered by not wanting the unforseen circumstance to be *our* fault.

Sometime this weekend, I hope to post my flourless chocolate torte recipe, promised to CP, Nukespouse and Mrs. Curmudgeon.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 25, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Favorite side dish? Got a problem of semantics or definition here. I tend to think of turkey, cranberries and stuffing [a.k.a. dressing a.k.a. filling] as a single entity, since the stuffing is (usually but not always, and not technically required) inside the turkey and I don't think of the cranberries as a side dish as just a necessary adjunct, like having salt, pepper and butter on the table. To me, turkey without stuffing is an oxymoron. And there just has to be jellied Ocean Spray cranberries. (May attempt a citrus/cranberry compote this year, though.)

And the best stuffing was my grandmother's, and I am afraid the recipe died with her and my mother. When I was little, I often helped them make it, but never paid attention to memorizing it, as what kid would. I've often tried to re-create it, but have never succeeded.

Second favorite side: my corn pudding.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

My favorite side dish is a toss up between my mother's saurkraut and my own oyster dressing....but usually mom wins out don'tcha know....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 25, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

A favorite dish at Thanksgiving? That's hard. I've ordered a fresh turkey, as I think I noted, to satisfy the Geekdottir. At least it won't take up room in the fridge defrosting, although I expect it to set me back at least $30.

Back in the summer, when corn was 10 for $2, I bought a bunch, cut it off the cob, and froze it for Thanksgiving. I'll use it for creamed corn. I usually do a yellow squash casserole but am skipping that this year. Asparagus was on sale, so I bought a bunch for myself and the Geekdottir and others who may like it. I'm skipping sweet potatoes and doing garlic red mashed potatoes instead, for the 8 year old nephew. My SIL bakes fabulous pecan and pumpkin pies, so that's what's for dessert.

Posted by: slyness | November 25, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

hey Mudge, just catching up on the boodle... busy these days... just enough time to read the kit and boodle but nothing intelligent to add... the boodle requires focus and concentration to participate...

otherwise, I am reading a great book... worthy of JA himself... called 'Enduring Patagonia' by Gregory Crouch. He also writes for National Geographic. He's an alpinist. Very interesting to read about something I will most likely never do... I prefer bikini life :)

Posted by: MissToronto | November 25, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

All our kids always preferred lumpy mashed potatoes, Raysmom; I don't know why. In the household I grew up in, lumpy mashed was anathema, a desecration, the sign of an inciompetent cook. (I actually don't mind them lumpy, myself.)

I always liked mashed well enough, but both my father and I *really* loved what my mother did with day-old leftover mashed: she'd make potato cakes out of them and fry them until they had a nice brown crust on them. So as a consequence, my mother would always make a humongous amount of mashed for T-Day or Christmas or Sunday roast, knowing there'd be lots of leftover for fried potato cakes.

In our house, there's no chance of that anymore: my kids love regular mashed potatoes, so no matter how much we make, there's never any leftovers. If any survive the actual meal, they never make it past midnight.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Early in our relationship, Raysdad offered to mash the potatoes. He did as his mother had: whipped them with the mixer until they were smooth and frothy. They reminded me too much of Mom's Potato Buds. He now accepts my hand-mashed, imperfect version as part of the price of marital harmony. I make garlic mashed for him, so the garlic bits disguise the lumps.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 25, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-since we don't serve mashed potatoes as a side on the big day I always hold back some from the fling just for fried potato cakes. We eat them for breakfast on Friday morning with a good spicy sausage.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 25, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Yum, Frosti.

The trouble with both T-Day and Xmas dinners is that there is just too much good food. I've been trying for years to figure out some way to cut back and eat sensibly, but just can't do it.

It's a given that there will be some turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberries. And Ya gotta have at least SOME mashed or yams/sweet potatoes, right? And then a green vegatable, which is usually my killer green beans sauteed over white wine with shallots and caper crunch topping. Gotta have a little of them. My wife suggest that I just plain abandon the corn pudding, which I guess makes sense...reluctantly. And then there's always those damned Brown-n-Serve dinner rolls, and ya gotta have one or two of those.

And by this time I'm in tryptophan-induced coma, to say nothing of uncomfortable. But what's a guy to do?

At my oldest daughter's house, she often has a big spiral-cut honey-baked ham as well as the turkey, and everything preceded by her famous hot crab dip appetizer. I mean, jeez, how cruel is that? I think she's trying to get somebody killed. I'm thinkin' she's found out she's in my will.

I can just see the coroner's verdict: death by self-inflicted Christmas Repast, with signs of Fowl Play.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Definitely going to Raysmom and dbg to beg for leftovers.

I don't mind some lumps in my mashed potatoes, but I do like them stiff rather than runny. And butter only. No thanks to the gravy. And I will eat as much as you have.

Cranberry sauce is the real indulgence for Turkey Day. I can't get enough.

Saurkraut with turkey is marking you geographically, gwe. My German grandmother liked them that way.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 25, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I said to the hubby this a.m. "Tonight it begins" meaning the extensive preparations for our fave holiday...I am having 16 peeps for the meal so that's a lot of prep.

My favorite dish is my great Aunt Anna's sage and onion stuffing. My little brother left home at 18 to join the Army and never made it back home for Thanksgiving before my mother died. He came to my house some years ago for T-day and as he dug into the stuffing he said in a whispered voice of awe and appreciation, "This is Mom's stuffing". He was one happy camper! It's a crazy recipe that requires me to pour cold water over the onions, then boil them and then rinse with cold water and re-boil or something like that. It seems to me that I should just be able to boil them once, but I'm afraid to mess with success, so I do it exactly as Aunt Anna wrote it out.

My kids fave side dish is my homemade noodles which are being made tonight. Lotsa work, but worth it.

Mmmmm...I love Thanksgiving. Pumpkin cheesecake, here I come.

Posted by: Kim1 | November 25, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, love those fried potato cakes. That's what we do with left-overs too. And Raysmom, real mashed potatoes are the best,lumps and all. That box stuff tends to taste boxy, but when one doesn't have the real deal, the box will do in a rush.

My favorites, squash casserole and dressing. Of course, most Thanksgiving Day meals here have collard greens, and I'm a fan of those too. And sweet potatoes are great when fixed as BC noted in his comment. I can hardly eat sweet potato pie anymore. It gives me heartburn something awful.


As for Somalia, if we weren't going through this crisis, I suspect we might want to bomb these folks. You think? Or perhaps put a check to what they're doing? And don't ask me how, because I'm not sure of my answer. I keep thinking someone is going to figure out a way, and I don't suppose it will be a good way, if such a thing exist, good way, I mean, that will check what's going on in Somalia. There seems to be too much at stake for this kind of behavior to continue. We're talking lots of money and merchandise; needless to say, the whole hostage idea thing. It goes against the grain. It's robbery plain and simple, without the finess of being able to do it without anyone knowing. You know, like the turkey deal, $6.95 a pound, sort of like slight of hand. Pirating is like in your face, without pretension. In America, we tend to like our criminals a little more shopisticated(?)?

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

My favourite for the holidays has become Stuffed Cranberry Roast... Eye of Round Oven Roast stuffed with a combination of seasoned stuffing, melted butter, a can of whole cranberry sauce and grated orange rind (organic is best). Easy to make but never enough leftovers.

Posted by: MissToronto | November 25, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Kim!!!! Sage and onion stuffing was my grandmother's basic recipe! Can you post or e-mail your recipe? If this is close to my grandmother's recipe, I shall worship at your feet forever.

And Miss Toronto, could you post that Stuffed Cranberry Roast recipe?

*I'm delirious. I think I'm going into shock.*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the well wished, Cassandra and Mudge. Feel ok just not one hundred percent.

Gave up on the Nature' Promise Turkey this year: 45 clams for a 18 lb bird. Sheeshhhhhhhh!

Bought a fresh, name brand turkey at 1.29 lb. Just over 19 lbs to feed family plus elderly couple on the block. Will have carcass to make soup but I find the soup cooking onerous these days, especially retrieving the tiny vertebral bodies of the spine. And, my huge crock pot liner broke. Cannot seem to find this one any more. So, will meditate on what to do with this. The giant pasta or crab pot mean scorched soup unless you tend it like a sick newborn.

Love all the recipes and named dishes here. NO CALORIES. And such enjoyment.

Cranberry sauce underway; I can hear the round berries popping in the sauce pan.

Grading papers, too. But ahhh, bring on the holiday smells....

Martooni -- great idea on sour cherries flanked by lemon ice....lovely.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 25, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Our local chain grocery store always has a "free turkey" if you spend $50 or $100 on other stuff, which isn't hard. Mr seasea is going to try a brined turkey this year. Why does The Accidental Tourist come to mind? Favorite sidedish - mashed potatoes, lumpy. Or squash. Or cranberry sauce. Our dear DC friend was the only person I've ever known to serve sauerkraut in turkey drippings - really good. I'm going to make chocolate chip cookies later, and cranberry bread.

Posted by: seasea | November 25, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I'll be happy to send it to you when I get home tonight. I hope it's close to your grandmother's recipe. I can't vouch for it, though, if you don't follow the onion cooking directions to a "T"!

and yes - I second the motion for Miss Toronto's cranberry stuffed roast.

My fresh organic turkey was $1.67/lb. Got a 21 pounder, so kind of pricey, but it had to be done.

Posted by: Kim1 | November 25, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Because we are having Thanksgiving in St. Paul there is nothing I can prepare ahead. I suppose I could have done pies here at Chez Frostbitten, but that would have meant grocery shopping. I'd rather get up at the crack of dawn on Thursday with Mr. F as my scullery maid. There will just be 3 of us this year. Frostson is spending the holiday with his dad and stepmom, and we realized we haven't had an immediate family only Thanksgiving since '01. Looking forward to a very quiet 4 days.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 25, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, Boodle!

I'm starting the Turkey Day cooking tomorrow.

For the sides, we're having spiced cranberry sauce with mandarin oranges, mashed potatoes (extra decadent with butter and cream cheese added!), homemade macaroni and cheese (also extremely decadent), stuffing (a strange New England-Southern hybrid featuring cornbread, sausage, apples, pears and dried cranberries), sweet potato casserole (I am never satisfied with my homemade sweet potatoes-trying a new recipe this year), and yeast rolls. I think I listed them all.

For dessert, it's apple butter pumpkin pie and chocolate cream pie.

The turkey will be deep fried. We are feeling sassy this year, so I think we will give it a spicy injection and spice rub tomorrow night.

All day long we will have spiced apple cider in the crock pot with orange slices.

I am hungry now!

Posted by: Moose13 | November 25, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I made something interesting for dinner last night.

It was roasted pork loin stuffed with chestnuts and dried cherries. The loin was crusted with crushed black peppercorns and coriander seeds.

It was the first time I have ever eaten chestnuts. It was good.

I also made twice-baked sweet potaotes mixed with a little sour cream and chipotle pepper sauce.

Posted by: Moose13 | November 25, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

*putting a call in to the Facilities folks to bring a Wet-Vac by to clean up the growing puddle of drool*


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 25, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

You know we're talking about food, and all the different dishes we like, and plan on serving our families this Thanksgiving Holiday, I hope that we(and I include myself in this number) can and will remember the number of people in this country that cannot buy food and will not be able enjoy the meals that are listed here or any meal for that matter.

There's an article on Internet news that states with all the number of government bailouts for banks and companies, the number of families living in poverty has steadily been rising. No one talks about these numbers and their potential impact on our country. And I did not hear Paulson speak of any relief to America's poor or address the issue. Perhaps he did, I didn't see the whole newscast. It is a consideration, in my view, that cannot be ignored. The poor usually don't have a spokesperson to advocate their situation. And because of this financial crisis the number of people in poverty has increased much. No one is immuned from this. Even those that were living below the poverty level before this freefall started and have experienced these situations on a daily basis feel an even greater impact.

I went to the food bank this morning, and the line was long. It's a mix of people, young, old, African-American, White, mothers, grandmothers, disable, all having the same thing in common. Poverty. My daughter will cook and feed her family, and yes, she will include me in that number, yet I like many this morning in that line, will welcome the generous hands of those that share.

I do not say this to make you sad or to make you feel guilty about what you're able to do with your families. Just wanted to share this information with you so that we can all help each other, and remember those that live on the edge so much of the time.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 25, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

A most excellent reminder, Cassandra. Thank you.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Amen Cassandra Amen

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 25, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The Somali pirate business is interesting, there is a lot more to it than what we read.

First of all, I think the fast boats are built elswhere and imported into Somalia.

The pirates need a sophisticated banking system in order to safely collect the ranson money and be able to communicate with the ship owners and negotiate.

Pirating in the Straits of Malacca has become less profitable. To me this indicates a switch in geographic areas and some sort of international mastermind/consortiom running the biz.

Posted by: Braguine | November 25, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Two VERY interesting tidbits in this Weingarten chat question. The first concerns secular humanism.

"Not a sermon: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? As an atheist, to whom, or to what, are you giving thanks? Just a thought...

On a related note, the word "giblets" is a hoot. Even better, Webster defines giblets as "the edible viscera of a fowl." You don't get much funnier than that.

"Gene Weingarten: We are secular humanists. We mostly give thanks to The Rib, who cooks. And to the notion of lasting friendships.

"At our house this year will be the Barrys, the Achenbachs, and the Buzz and Libby Burgers. We've been doing this together for maybe a quarter century. Only Molly will not be, as she is in N.J. on a vet externship."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | November 25, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Cassandra. Thank you for reminding us. I don't do much with community giving for food at TDay, XMas and Easter. Many others pony up for those times. AND, good for that.

But, as you also remind us, hunger is ongoing here in this great and flawed country: Particularly when you think on the malnutrition -- really -- of diets here. Not fresh food based mostly on plants. That is how we should eat, according to Michael Pollan:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

By "food" he means not processed-food-items. Cheese, not Kraft American Slices....etc.

So, we should all keep the Community Panties and Soup Kitchens stocked and "peopled" all year. I know one family -- she works two jobs to keep her family together. She faithfully makes PBJ sandwiches with day-old bread and delivers them to the soup kitchen on Friday. Why? Tis a long weekend without food for the homeless in the woods near us. Her sandwiches -- with sport bars approaching expire dates -- mean that Satuday is not without food for some. About Sunday, well, not sure about that at all.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 25, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: seasea | November 25, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company