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Aliens From Space!!!!

John Podesta was always a big X-Files fan, but I really doubt he thinks the government is hiding alien spacecraft, as this story seems to suggest.

My favorite passage: "Mr Bassett also believes that military and intelligence officials have studied the technology of alien spacecraft, material that would help the US develop new energy resources, as Mr Obama wishes, that will lessen US dependency on Middle Eastern oil."

And maybe they've found the cure for toxic credit-default swaps!

And a scheme for a college football playoff!

It is certainly true that contact with an alien civilization, one that has mastered the laws of physics to the point of being able to expend enormous amounts of energy sending spaceships and astronauts across the interstellar void, would give us some good ideas for breaking free from fossil fuels. Though, who knows, they might say that they are roaming the galaxy in search of crude oil. It is a pretty nifty substance.

But the consequences of contact would be so far-reaching that I'm not sure a conversion in energy sources would even make the front page of the newspaper (should such things still exist). I am pretty sure that contact with the aliens will yield more than just a better car engine. Forget energy for a second: It'd be nice to have a hair to analyze, or a scale, or a fleck of skin, so that we can see what the aliens are made of, what kind of molecule carries their genetic information. It'd be nice to know who else is out there, and whether intelligence is, in the main, biological or technological (are most sentient entities in the galaxy meat-based or machine-based or some combination?). We'd want to know, very quickly, where the Bad Aliens are. Also it would be nice to know why the universe exists and what will happen to it and whether the cosmos is a one-way gig from Big Bang to Heat Death or some kind of cyclic thing. Also we'd like them to redesign our TV remotes so that we could walk into a friend's house and turn on the TV without having to decipher the function of three different remotes. In fact, the list of things we could learn from the aliens is a long one. I'm not sure we get around to talking about fossil fuel until about Day Four.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 1, 2008; 5:50 PM ET
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Next: The Car of the Future


Hard to know where to start...

Posted by: seasea | December 1, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

A PAC on exterrestrials! That is funny.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 1, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I have expended all my knowledge on extra terrestrials, but am watching the news here, on the government situation in Ottawa, finally something interesting up here, and in my view highly amusing (and deserved). From the reactions (comments online) it is getting Canadians engaged, 1100+ comments to a Globe article online in a few hours - way way above normal.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 1, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Bad Aliens in search of a carbonaceous energy source could be very bad news for us. The mammal body is two Bacon number away from crude oil.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Who gets to make the agenda? If fossil fuels aren't on the agenda until Day 4, when oh when will we get around to Alien footwear? What about Alien etiquette on tiaras before 8 pm? Do they knit? What kind of tomatoes do best in their gardens? Are some holidays universal, like "Talk Like a Pirate Day?"

Posted by: LostInThought | December 1, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The aliens might tell you that they are roaming the Universe -- not just this galaxy -- seeding and nurturing intelligent life. Disclosure of their existence is a time-consuming process in order to prevent mass hysteria and to see how well their project has developed. It does not do much good to seed intelligent life only to see that life self-destruct.

Posted by: BeanCounter49 | December 1, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

right wales, aliens and Canadian politics... there's a connection there but it's just not coming to me, yet! 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' (I like the sound of that)... but JA's suggestion about a 'Grievances Day' is also clever. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all our American boodlers... which is most of the boodle I'm guessing.

Posted by: MissToronto | December 1, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking if there is intelligent life out there, why in the world would they want to come here? I mean, what would be the lure? If such alien beings exist, and if they've been watching us for awhile, what's to know? Lessons in how to muck up their own planet?


Please excuse my poor choice of words in choosing a lawyer in my example back in the other kit. I was trying to say a professional person, which is what I should have said, but instead just kind of pulled that out of the hat. I did not mean to offend you or any of the lawyers here. It was an attempt to compare two completely different people and one idea. I am sorry.

I'm a little tired. It's too early to turn in,so I think I'll watch television.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 1, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that convergence was truly impressive. We had clear crisp skies just long enough to get a great view. I asked my family to come out and see, but they had no interest given the cold air and, you know, the good stuff on television and all. Sigh. I am beginning to suspect they might actually be pod people.

Look, when it comes to secret alien technology I like to think I am pretty much as close to the nexus of conspiracy as one can get. I've seen inside the hangar. I know people who worked at that site. And I do so wish I could tell you that the government has access to fantastic alien technology whose capabilities are indistinguishable from magic.

But, alas, I just can't tell you that.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 1, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

ET come home?

Hope the aliens have green thumbs.

btw, this is an unofficial front page alert.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 1, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Almost forgot...

Can someone tell me why the NFL player shot himself? Was it an accident or intentional? I'm not getting an understanding in the little I've read. There aren't a lot of details. Everyone seems to be suggesting the team should let him go? The captioning on my television has been messed up all day.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 1, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Remember. There is no such thing as a bad alien. They just need better role models.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 1, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Indeed. It takes a galaxy to raise an alien.

Posted by: engelmann | December 1, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

engelmann, you are... yourself. And we are glad for it.

Cassandra, it was an accident. A very stupid act, carrying a firearm in a bar, followed by a dumb accident. Firearms shouldn't be handled by young untrained men anyway. Luckily he only shot himself (it's only a flesh wound...) and not some innocent bystander or someone from his family.
For one legitimate use of a firearm in self defense I believe a hundred accidents and incidents happen. See California, Black Friday, Toys are Ourselves.

Dion as PM, please shoot me. He's got a fine first name, makes a good husband and wife team and all that but please, he rode the Lib party deep into the ground. Does he deserves it?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Until last week I would have agreed Shriek, but Harper deserves what he gets now.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 1, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

眾生無邊誓願度 Zen precept:

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to free them.

If organic, aliens may be vegan-based. If inorganic, they may be dilithium-based.

Posted by: -tao- | December 1, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I'd ask the aliens why it's the 21st Century already and we still don't have our jetpacks.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 1, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, John Feinstein (who I know from NPR, mainly) wrote a piece about that - it's got some strong opinions in it:
I agree with him, right down to the idiocy of the 2nd amendment. And the American gun culture. And athletes.

Posted by: seasea | December 1, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

TBG - Look, for the last time. They're on back-order. Sheesh.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 1, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I have often said we are from the seeds of aliens. Life didn't just "appear" on earth out of a few over-active molecules. Is there really a definite line between organic and inorganic or is it a continuum? We are approaching a similar imaginary line/continuum again -- the line between organic and silicon wafer -- the line between brain and chip -- a future fuzzy line -- continuum a new life/non-life form?

Posted by: nelmsmn | December 1, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

*Remember to check for bellybuttons*

And thank you, Shriek!


Good evening Boodle. Busy day, here and there.

I will be at the airport for my flights to DC at an unconscionably early hour tomorrow, so will miss Dawn Patrol. I've asked my caterer friends to make sure breakfast is waiting and piping hot by the time bc arrives to warm up the engines, and to refresh for the gallant fly-boys and girls as they straggle in. My bet is on Cassandra being first, so she'll organize the rest of you on my behalf.

Reminder: IBPH at M&S at 5:30 on Wednesday. I am looking forward to seeing some of you there, and wish all of you could join us.

Over the last few days I have had some deeply rewarding conversations with a good friend. The glow from those exchanges reminds me that if I haven't been in touch with friends, I should make more of an effort to reach out. A lesson I have been taught over and over again, in my life.

Posted by: Yoki | December 1, 2008 8:12 PM

Posted by: Yoki | December 1, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Geez -- so many kits in one day! Joel, you're making me dizzy!

Not at all on kit, but, well, after all, just maybe -- late today, I fell of the cliff of economic idiocy and finally (yes, finally) ordered Direct TV. They'll come to install it on Wednesday afternoon, and I hope the installation and set-up goes efficiently. I don't think my tv is HD (in fact, I'm sure it's not, even if it's maybe 5-8 years old). Regular broadcast stations are not showing much of interest (at least to me), and now I'll be able to see Jon Stewart and Colbert and see what all the fuss is about. I didn't sign up for the mega channel package -- just one up from the lowliest package. I get a low price for 13 months and then the price goes up.

Jet-packing my way into the 21st century, especially at my advanced age, is kinda weird. *shaking off the styrofoam peanuts around my brain*

Toodle-oodle Boodle-oodle

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | December 1, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

ftb... when we first signed up for DirecTV, my husband told his co-workers, "my wife says 'the satellite man' is coming today to help her receive signals from space."

Posted by: -TBG- | December 1, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Contact with aliens happened in the past. The results were catastrophic. I spotted Alfred Crosby's pioneering book "The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492" at the bookstore across the street from the University of Florida, circa 1975. I still have it, despite not having a settled place to live until 1978. A later, provocative look at the same phenomenon is "Before the Horror: The Population of Hawai'i on the Eve of Western Contact" by David E. Stannard. Stannard's population estimates are disputed, but the horror isn't.

Biological invasions, including the human variety, are nasty. Madagascar and New Zealand were transformed, and not for the better, by the arrival of humans. No more elephant birds or moas.

I'd be happy to repeal the second amendment, but I think it would be easier to repeal the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 1, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I think I would be pretty disappointed if the Space Aliens turned out to look like Keanu Reeves.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 1, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

CqP, very appreciative of your pome-song about the planets off the moon's bow.

In unrelated news, Wilbrodog has posted a mini-update on his personal fashion tragedy:

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 1, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Dave, we have a better chance of passing an amendment to provide for direct election of the president and vice-president than to repeal the second amendment. *Sigh*

Thanks, SD, for the reminder about Dooley. I remembered paleotology, didn't recall the focus on marine life.

TBG, I think we've got a legitimate complaint. The jetpacks have been on backorder for, like, 17 years. We need to cancel the contract and go elsewhere!

Posted by: slyness | December 1, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the whale Kit?

I once while fishing in Florida, I got and up close and personal with a very large whale.It was so cool and he/she just let me be.I guess they have scene their fair share of fisherman over the centuries.I have been to Hilton head several times,but never had a the pleasure of seeing a whale there.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 1, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Klaatu barada nikto!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 1, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, so much to get back to, but I'll stick with this particular Kit for the moment.

I, too, am perhaps overly optimistic in thinking that we'd get more out of contact with a biological alien civilization with advanced technologies than better internal combustion engines or transparent aluminum.

We'd definitely learn a lot, and almost certainly develop our current technologies much faster than we do now.

But that would probably slow down in a few centuries when the shooting stopped and the human race got off of war footing. [The proceeding assumes that the aliens haven't sidestepped relatavistic physics entirely and developed some sort of FTL propulsion, or developed planet-buster or star-breaker weaponry that they'd employ against us once we pi$$ed them off, perhaps they way we'd take out a hornet's nest. It seems overly optimistic to assume that encounters between a highly advanced extra-terrestrial culture and ours would go far better than even contacts bewteen *human* cultures of differing levels of technological development and with siginificant communications barriers. Particularly if there's some sort of natural resource or treasure involved...]


Posted by: -bc- | December 1, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Couple of other quick comments - I guess for the sake of argument (Joel's, Podesta's and Bassett's) that extra-terrestrial entities worth talking to would be meat- or machine- based.

Some sort of non-baryonic life based on organized fields of radiation (magnetic, etc.) or perhaps composed of dark- or anti-matter probably wouldn't be much help in figuring out how to make a 100 MPG Hummer or for making the news media profitable, for that matter.


Posted by: -bc- | December 1, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Conscious beings (aliens to the earth) do not 'roam' the universe. The non-spatial event horizons for doing that only allow the flow of conscious energy from one being to another, not their matter matrices. Matter is only a ' wake' for the joined event horizons, the same as the 'light' in a lightning bolt is an after-effect of the plasma flow. Conscious beings anywhere in the Quadrant would naterally be attracted to the early manifestations of consciousness that have occurred on Earth for the last 80,000 years but certainly wouldn't make contact with a near conscious race of beings that spends most of its time preying upon itself.

Posted by: arjay1 | December 1, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

To arjay1: Oh. Really? Dang, I wonder why I never noticed that before, myself.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 1, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I assume that if aliens arrived at Earth, they could learn appropriate languages rather quickly, probably right down to accent and inflection. After all, isn't that what hyper-advanced supercomputers are for?

So, what happens if they arrive on Talk Like a Pirate Day? I envision tentacled bug-creatures addressing the UN general assembly: "Arrh, me hearties. We be from yon star what you lot calls Regulus. We done been sailin' fer a good stretch o' time and now we be ready to settle down to the business o' some tradin'. Wot'll y' give me not to fire this her quantum blunderbuss into the core o' yer planet and make life wonky? Eh? Sounds like a good trade ter me. What's non-wonkiness worth to ye stinkin' swabbies? Arrrrhhh!"

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 1, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

xactly Science Tim, we need to get the upper hand quickly. Darn extra terrestrial, they have no class.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

SCC 's' crap. I'm signing off. Off to a walk in the rain with the dogz.

Wilbrodog, no white beard yet you shiny old lab you? How old are you, really?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

If you've gone to the trouble of learning to build an FTL drive, I should imagine that planet-buster technology is frankly not all that difficult. If *I* were to decide to bust a planet (or, at least, to bust the surface environment of a rocky planet), I would use my FTL drive to help me relocate some sizable space rocks out to several tens of astronomical units from the Sun. Give them an appropriately-timed shove, to an appropriate velocity, then wait a century. By the time the rocks reach Earth's orbit, they'll be clipping along at a goodly fraction of solar escape velocity (I am too lazy to work out the actual speed tonight, but it's pretty darned fast). With appropriate prior calculations, one could guarantee an orbit that intersects Earth (or whatever terrestrial planet you are trying to bust). Bingo! A very bad day.

The busting of nonterrestrial (i.e., gas giant) planets is considerably more difficult and will require alternative techniques. I favor giant thermalized-neutron cannons supporting a dense volley of MIRVed thermonuclear weapons shrouded in plenty of deuterium to get the reaction really cooking. Drive all the remaining deuterium in the planet into fusion reactions, and get the ordinary hydrogen to join in. The reaction won't be self-sustaining, but it should be a colorful burst of fireworks.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 1, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, I like your light handed approach.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

At a minimum, it should get someone's attention.
The grunting dogz are getting restless.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 1, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Elegance and efficiency. Them's my watch words. Arrh!

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 1, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

What we really need to be doing is looking for the work notices before the Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives. Nobody likes to see a planet they've become emotionally attached to destroyed just because it's in the way of a hyperspace bypass.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 1, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

A hearty thank you to the Canuckistanis for providing the antidote to post-election depression. Did anyone see that coming?

I don't know that we ever could, or should, abolish the 2nd amendment. But, it seems to me that when people carry handguns either they or their community are diminished-usually both.

It's been a long, long day, so toodles boodle and sweet dreams. So many links left unclicked. Tomorrow.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 1, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

In the absence of any evidence for a deficiency in relativity theory, I think the most likely evidence for an alien civilization would be some variant on the von Neumann machine -- a self-replicating and self-maintaining device, able to scavenge raw materials from typical space trash (asteroids, comets, molecular clouds, interstellar dust, and so forth). It would require some form of artificial intelligence to cope with the multitude of environments that it would encounter. A wholly artificial intelligence? A simulation of an actual alien's mind? An effective transference of an actual alien mind into a wholly or partly artificial substrate?

Then there is the question of its mission. To explore? For whom? Its home civilization would be long dead by the time it could return, unless it's used for strictly local -- say, ten light-year -- exploration. A public service, to share its explorations with whomever it encounters? Perhaps it will be for establishing mere bragging rights: "We were here first!" These missions tend to suggest that it would reveal itself to a civilization it encounters. Perhaps it is waiting until that civilization shows signs of developing its own von Neumann machines, so it can save them the trouble but wait until after the civilization is ready to handle the news. However, it seems likely that more than one civilization would develop such a technology -- unlikely that they all would be high-minded and program their machines to be subtle.

Encasing an actual 'human' mind within a von Neumann machine seems like a good idea, regardless of the mission, because it has understandable goals and thought processes (at first, anyway). If you were faced with the prospect of essentially infinite life and a galaxy-sized sandbox, what would you do? I think I would use the vast engineering resources programmed into my physical instrumentality to go find some young solar system and start manipulating its physical and biological evolution for my own amusement. Just for something to do. Greed and possessiveness would assure that I would take steps to prevent other von Neumann machines from poaching on my territory. Then, if I were especially cruel, I would wait until there were a world-spanning civilization and reveal that the planet's entire history was the work of a bored robot.

Or not.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 1, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

SD, I've always had a wee white soul patch ever since I was a pup. I got some white at the other end, too, but humans never want to sniff there.

Hmm. In dog-to-people years, I'm... carry the one, bury the seven...

Ah. I'm as old as Jesus was when he was nailed up for being disobedient, or slightly over one-thirds of a century.

And you, sir?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 1, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, you're cracking me up over here.

You'd use a super-relativistic FTL drive as a Newtonian shovel to push rocks around? Seems to me it's like using a space shuttle as a backhoe. Elegant and efficient... hmmm. Perhaps not. I'd think that a civilization capable of FTL technology would be able to do better than drop rocks on our heads.

Also trying to figure out if I think there's more evidence for deficiencies in relativity theory or for extra-terrestrial civilizations. I'm thinking that relativity does not seem to cover quantum mechanics or cosmological scales, so there's a whole universe - or multiverse, maybe - of loopholes to potentially drive stuff through.

And lord help us all if you plunked your mind into a plague of Pirate-speaking self-replicating mechanical locusts as a means of making yourself a god (for lack of a better word). I'm laughing at the idea that they'd mark your territory like male wolves, too.

As far as tinkering with civilizations, you *did* read George Martin's "Sandkings" and/or Ted Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God," (I *think* it was Sturgeon) didn't you?


Posted by: -bc- | December 1, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Don't knock marking until you've tried it, bc.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 1, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

This will be too obscure for a lot of you, but it's strange days indeed up here. Apologies to John Cougar Mellencamp.

Little ditty about Jack and Dion
Two parliamentarians tryin’ to not be also-ran

Jackie was once a T.O. council star
Dion’s the Lib leader now covered in feathers and tar

Sippin’ on champagne inside the limousine
Dion’s sittin’ in Jackie’s car
Trying to come up with a scheme
Jackie say, hey Dion lets run off
and go see Gilles Duceppe
Parlons le Bloq et puis nous allons
casser les Bleus, colline
And Jackie say a

Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of governin’ is gone
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of governin’ is gone they walk on

Jackie sits back reflects his thoughts for a moment
Scratches his head and does his best Tommy D
Well you know Dion we gotta go see Michealle Jean
Dion says Jackie, now you're singin my song

Jackie say a

Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of governin’ is gone
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of governin’ is gone

Little ditty about Jack and Dion
Two parliamentarians tryin’ to not be also-ran

Posted by: engelmann | December 1, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Now New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital's in trouble for not reporting Palixo Burress's gunshot wound.

My mother grew up on a block just west of the hospital. Astonishingly, the modest old apartment building is still there, or was when I made my first visit to the big city as an adult, on the day that the Christo thing opened at the other end of the street.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 1, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Yoki, I'm here, dragging but here. I will do what I can. I've been up for some time now, just could not sleep. Fingers look like rolls of fat sausages. Yikes!

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

Shriek, thanks for the information. I saw some video on television of this player and I'm assuming his lawyer. This guy looks really huge, big and tall. The man with him looked like a midget beside him. We love our guns, don't we?

Well the news on the economy is depressing. I read the article on the front page of the Post detailing the recession we're in. Dreary news, indeed, but really bad when played out in the population. We have a manufacturing unit here that is closing its doors in about two weeks, just in time for Christmas. About two hundred people will be out of a job, and no prospects in sight for a new job, not here anyway.

Perhaps the market will do better today. Just maybe the news will be good.

I'm going to find some coffee, and get ready for the walk. Don't know what it's doing outside, need to check the temp. Probably cold. The weather person says the cold will be with us for some time now.

I wish I had the words that would heal what is broken in our country, and make everything better. That my words would be like that favorite treat or that treasured moment, and all would be well. That the words would soothe and comfort, stop the hurt and make it all better. I know the words, but none want to hear, and I don't have the finess to make them "more or less" than what they are, beacause really they don't need any of that. They're fine as they are. They hold their own, and they're good to live by and to pass to others. I begin with them every day. They're at the top of this comment.

Have a great day, folks. And as always prayers sent this morning for all, please pray for me too.

Time to swim.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 2, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Good morning, Cassandra. I know just how you feel.

Have a lovely day, dear friends. I shall enjoy stepping on the travel conveyor belt and being spat out in DC. Hope it is warmer there than here.

Posted by: Yoki | December 2, 2008 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra,

Just finished watching Rachel Maddow's review of "WHAT? There's no Recession" quote-acade from the Bush administration.

You know I appreciate the fact that large plant closings gain headlines and even bailouts, but what WILL happen is that there will be hundreds of closings and cutbacks that we will never hear about.

I had also been told that there will be hundreds of investment companies that will be closing their doors (small enough to fail) that were making the same investment decisions as those at Bare Sterns. (pun intended)

Anyway, happy morning!

RT (Dolphin Michael)

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

bc, S-nuke,

If the auto execs kill the Hummer, how will we all overcompensate?

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 6:21 AM | Report abuse

engelmann, that was brilliant.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 2, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, SciTim and bc, for that explanation of space exploration and the moral issues involved. My life is immeasureably enriched by contact with you!

Good morning, Cassandra. It's 29 and frosty here in the Queen City. I'll be putting on the long johns for this morning's walk. Hope yours is pleasant.

Yoki, have a safe and pleasant trip! I wish I could be there for the party tomorrow evening.

Nothing particularly important planned for my day. Maybe tonight Mr. T and I can get the Christmas tree decorated. I expect to get feedback from my proposal for reorganization at church, so maybe some progress on that front. A normal day: one I can be grateful for.

Posted by: slyness | December 2, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

LOL Engelmann. My fair city is in turmoil over the issue.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 2, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Very clever engelmann! And it tracks nicely!

I've said before that I suspect that the future of space travel will be via artificial intelligence. We will send the smartbots into the cosmos and eventually some of them will return. Sort of like children, except without as many issues.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 2, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

russianthistle (and thanks for remindine me who you are) I love the overcompensation bit.

It reminds me of what they told me when I took up weight lifting in college. I was informed that weight lifters were either compensating for a lack of height or insufficient endowment.

At which point I always pointed out that I am not really all that tall.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 2, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Nope, sorry, quantum mechanics and relativity are reconciled -- the Dirac equation, anti-matter, second-quantization, quantum field theory, quantum electrodynamics, all that stuff. Where there's still a big hole is gravity and the possibility of multi-dimensional reality. It all still seems to be limited by the speed of light. Or, actually, by a maximum speed, which light and gravitational waves happen to achieve.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 2, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!

DM/russianthistle, perhaps auto dealers could include some Enzyte with every purchase... *shrug*

The cynicism on display regarding the Burress situation is remarkable. MNF had Drew Rosenhaus, "Plex's" agent (he kept calling him "Plex" *RME*) on at halftime last night, apparently thinking they'd get something newsworthy. Rosenhaus sprained his lips kissing up to the Giants, even after Tony K. told him point-blank that most people think Burress will never play for that team again. Rosenhaus refused to "publicly" respond as to why Burress had a gun in the club in the first place, although he told Tony he'd be happy to talk about it off-camera. *RCA Victor dog head-tilt of confusion* THEN, when Tony asked him if he's spoken to his other clients about carrying guns, Rosenhaus said this wasn't the right time to do that (or words to that effect, as my brain was overheating and I couldn't hear too well).

But I still managed to avoid sliding too much on the Dawn Patrol runway ice, so it's coffee time!

*happy-to-have-successfully-made-it-through-all-the-leftovers-and-looking-forward-to-tomorrow's-BPH Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

And yes, gravity's a pretty big hole sometimes. Often rather dark, too.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse


Your 7:45 cracked me up! I'm sure that dry wit of yours more than makes up for any lack you think you have.


I needed what you had on, boy, did my buns get cold out there. And I have to find my gloves too.


It was almost like seeing your face in that statement of the conveyor belt churning you out in DC. Enjoy the trip, take in the sights and sounds around you, and who knows, you just might see God at work. I'm so glad I finally met you, and most of the boodlers.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 2, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! The sun's casting that beautiful golden winter-morning light onto my deck this morning. Sometimes even a non-believer can see God at work, Cassandra.

Have a doctor's appt this morning and then lunch with a friend. Dinner with another friend, with an appt at the Apple store fit in between (wacky power cord).

When did I have time work?

Posted by: -TBG- | December 2, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

And the latest from the "What Did You Expect" department...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse


With all that 4 million people talk, it must not have crossed anyone's mind that there would be elevated demand for the rooms on our about innaug. day.

Welcome to the world of marketing 2.0 ...

Where we employ the all of the latest technology, but not the human brain.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

AND, I'm REALLY ACTUALLY sitting here wondering about ways to harness whacky power and turn it into money savings.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

*Tim, I think your assessment of reconciliations between QM and the theories of relativity is somewhat premature, sir. To your own examples, suggestions that lacks of workable theories regarding gravity and the dimensions of spacetime that convey from quantum through relativity - can be dismissed with waves of virtual hands... sorry, guy, I think you're wrong there.

No GUTs, no glory.


Posted by: -bc- | December 2, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Andrew Sullivan points out a prescient moment from the primary campaign...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 2, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. So far, it is only 38 degrees here; we have to crank up the thermostat for Yoki's arrival.

Good -- but slightly irritating -- Howard Kurtyz column this morning, the theme of which is a bunch of Conservs and rightwingers seem to be swooning (his word) over Obama and his appointee choices. Shock no. 1: Obama isn't a flaming nutcase wacko liberal who has/will surrender on Day One to the terrorists; Shock no. 2: he's appointed a bunch of intelligent moderates, and hasn't made the Dalai Lama or Bobcat Goldthwait Secretary of State.

Ya see, this is what the GOP needs to learn: this is the kind of thing that tends to happen when you elect a smart guy to be president, not a moron.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

My browser keeps telling me we've overflowed a stack...

Awrite, who brought pancakes to breakfast???


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omnigood | December 2, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I thought he brought the noodles, omni...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I have great hopes that we aren't as smart as we think we are. This might depress some, but I like it because it means really neat fundamental things may be discovered at any time. I imagine a generation of physicists getting very embarrassed, slapping their collective foreheads, "My god, WHY did no one think of this before?"

I disbelieve in Grand Unified Theories because I suspect they somehow violate Gödel, but I'm no expert. My math teacher once had me prove e=1/2mv2 and it was like a light coming on. Since then, that particular light has gone out.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 2, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The Obama hotel price-gouging is to be expected. When we priced Thanksgiving packages for New York, we were stunned by the costs, many demanding full non-refundable payment in advance. At one time we had four different rooms booked on contingency. It turns out that prices actually dropped about a hundred bucks a night about a month ago, so we locked in the room and canceled the others.

The advance deposit gambit is to avoid what I did by booking multiple rooms. I did cancel plenty the un-needed ones in plenty of time for them to rebook, so I don't feel bad.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 2, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

My "light turned on moment" was in freshman physics when they showed the actual equations on how mass increases with velocity, proving that it takes infinite energy to reach the speed of light.

All we need to do is work on getting just a little more than infinite energy and we have this whole FTL problem licked.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 2, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Just make the knob go to "11," yellojkt.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Now on the other end of the learning continuum, John Kelly's column today on the Folger Shakespeare librarian who's retiring. The video is worth watching too:

I would have moved to Washington for a cool job like that one!

Posted by: slyness | December 2, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

FTL = Thomas Wolfe

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 2, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

When my "light turned on" moment came, nothing happened. They flipped the switch a few times, to no avail. Then someone took out the lightbulb and gently shook it, and heard a funny rattling sound.

It was apparently a filament of my imagination.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"Sometimes even a non-believer can see God at work, Cassandra."

A whole lot of challenges to that statement, but I don't even know where to start or how to start.

Mudge, Mudge, we love you, guy.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 2, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

My moment involved a lot of smoke and alarms and momentary confusion...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I just sincerely hope Wilford Brimley wasn't involved somehow, Scotty.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 2, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

And in the "WHAT Were They THINKING???" department...

Thankfully the pirates had really slow "speedboats" this time...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

One true thing about the nature of the universe;

the universe does not need us to believe

Long ago and far away a guy name George Berkeley (say Bark-lee) said that we kept God in existence by imaging him.

I laughed out loud when reading that.

Like Cassandra, I name this thing God. But, I respect all the other names. I respect the non names...the anti naming, not so much, since tis delivered with some battery acid.

And, I wish that more atheists -- sure sounds like a fundamentalism to me....and so strenuous! -- hung out with cosmologists. Takes my breath away to hear them speak. Understand about 10% of their chat....can't wait for Hadron information over the next ten years....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 2, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

No, Jumper, it was Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth, IIRC...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Rama is a reasonable alternative. A closed system with plenty of raw materials, receiving additional power from sunlight (somehow), with an unknown propulsion system that depletes no stock of matter. It requires certain jumps in physics (mainly, the propulsion system), but is otherwise within the realm of the thinkable, based on current knowledge. When it gets to its destination, it seems likely that it will resurrect its species, rather than pointlessly roaming the galaxy forever. Would it fill bodies with recorded minds, or start from scratch?

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 2, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Y'know, often it sounds as if we expect our encounters with aliens to be a one-way experience: we learn a lot from them (and if we're lucky, they don't eat us). While recognizing that an alien society which has traveled here is clearly more technologically or scientifically advanced, I humbly suggest perhaps aliens could learn something from us humans as well. That is, I think we also have qualities, characteristics, capabilities, achievements which are universally valuable and desirable. Perhaps aliens and humans will mutually benefit from contact.

Unless, of course, the aliens closely resemble and taste like popcorn with melted butter. I'm afraid our mutual exchange would be truncated and not to their benefit.

Cassandra, it never occurred to me to be offended by your use of the lawyer in your example of conduct. I know a lot of lawyers who are excellent public servants and community volunteers. That said, even we hold up lawyers as examples of bad behavior and, alas, there's a reason for that. Of course it could be worse. We could be formerly high-powered investment bankers.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 2, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

This just in from my community list serves:

Bars in CD may get approval to stay open all night for the inaugural fest.

Maryland bars struggling with the students-live-near-by concept about extending the 2AM last call.....

continue with your everythings.......

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 2, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

If they stay open all night, CqP, they're gonna be some grisly bars.

A little ursinine humor.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

My picks for this week, I tried to repeat the funniness two weeks ago, but was only half as successful at amusing myself. Sorry

Posted by: omnigood | December 2, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

We want just want to drill for oil on Uranus.

Posted by: nuke41 | December 2, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

Just finished running a bunch of errands with Mrs. M, which was no small feat (even with her driving). I really don't know how she does it. She has the energy of a six-year-old, but with an Amazing Determined Brain that keeps track of things I'd never even consider keeping track of. And she looks good, too.

I, on the other hand, did my best not to be my natural self so as not to embarass her. And it almost worked. Until we got to the post office, anyway, where I made a silly comment that caused the lady at the counter to giggle and Mrs. M to give me the Look of Death (or was that the "I Wish I'd Left You In The Car" look?).

Anyway, I noticed the God discussion came up again here and all I have to say is "Yes, Virginia (and Maryland and Metro D.C. and Baltimore, too) there *is* a Santa Claus and if you're not good, he's going to tear you into small bits and eat you up. Unless you have a dispensation from the Easter Bunny, of course."

Peace out...

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

No no, nuke41, it's been proven there is no oil in Mianus. Coal, maybe...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"who resent their common portrayal as nuts and conspiracy theorists..."

Change that to "who resent their ACCURATE portrayal as nuts and conspiracy theorists".

Posted by: nuke41 | December 2, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Then we had better rush you in for an emergency coalostomy

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Scotty... would that coal be "diamonds in the rough"?

Or just dingleberries. ;-)

Or corn.

(oh please, somebody shoot me)

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I just hope the aliens don't land in Mianus.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 2, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Klaatu barada mianus.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Yello... If they did, I think they would abort the landing and head straight for the nearest moon. And if they're of the S&M sort, they'd probably make a beeline for Europa.

(sorry again... just can't help myself)

(must... not... pick... the cherries...)

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Mornin all
Martooni,despite the fact that I am not married I know"that look" all too well.Always a good idea to carry some duct tape with you.Make a comment,duct tape your mouth,hold up your hands and mumble something.

Mudge,38 degrees may seem balmy to Yoki,seems like it is always super cold up there in Canada.Hope her trip is a safe one.

I saw a picture of a pretty good size coyote shot in this area on the first day of deer season.I didn't think we had a coyote season.One would think we could use a few more predators in this area with the exploding deer population. But i guess to a good ole boy,a coyote and deer may look the same.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 2, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

It's actually unseasonably warm up here - still no snow, though some flurries predicted this week. Warmest November on record. I'll count that as "weather" and not as "climate" and enjoy it.

Especially since the news is so grim today - WaPo saying the recession will be deeper and longer than expected and as a bonus reporting a greater than even chance of a WMD attack within five years.

Posted by: engelmann | December 2, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I always fear the "wintery mix" which always sounds like something from a salad bar.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 2, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

gwe... was that coyote holding up a sign that that "oh guano"?


Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC: and did anyone witness a bird with bluish plumage fleeing the scene?

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

meep meep

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 2, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Is *is* a salad, russianthistle: iceberg lettuce, kohlrabi, cold cuts, snow peas, crampons (croutons with spikes), chili powder, and (very) cool ranch dressing.

Speaking of which, what's for virtual lunch today? I've got leftover chili.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in human history, I present here incontrovertible evidence of existence of tens of thousands of UFO in the Earth's atmosphere, which can be seen by any person in any part of the world at any time.
Read the article below. " Aliens live in our earth's atmosphere"

Posted by: Stavinsky | December 2, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I've got some leftover pumpkin roll someone was kind enough to bring to the office...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

After the Eagles v. Bengals game two weeks ago McNabb said he didn't even know a game could end in a tie

The Eagles and Packers are in the lead with four tied games since 1974 (this is when sudden death overtime was added to the regular season

I've got more useless trivia if you'd like

Posted by: omnigood | December 2, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Um... I'd avoid that URL, but then again, am I paranoid enough?


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

gwe... you have no idea how priceless that "meep meep" was. I so needed that. Thank you!

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday, riding my bike on Federal Highway in Boca Raton, I saw a turkey vulture eating an armadillo. That was weird, like, where am I? This is a posh, densely developed neighborhood on the east coast of South Florida. An unexpected sight.

This morning, I had a kind of an Achenblog moment when I was making my salad to take for lunch. We didn't have any green peppers in the refrigerator, so I went out to the garden and picked one. Thanks for all your inspiration in the gardening department--it was really the Achenblog that got me to plant a garden after years of just wishing I had one.

Here's an answer to one of the bloggingheads questions (whom to thank at Thanksgiving if you don't believe in God): Gratitude is worthwhile no matter whom you give it to. Thank the turkey farmer and the people who harvested the potatoes and milked the cow and grew the pumpkins for your pie. Thank the store clerk who rang up the purchase and the family members who earned the money to give to the clerk. Thank each other for showing up, the cooks who prepared the food. Even people who believe in God would do well to appreciate, in addition to the Author of the Universe, all the minions who do His work here on Earth.

This was just a stolen moment from the tasks piled up in my in-box. I will return thence, now.

Best to all.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 2, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Just curious...

How does one go about landing a "real" job these days? (like one with benefits)

I'm assuming that suits are involved and that zippers need to be zipped, but are ties necessary?

Am I supposed to show up with nose already browned? Or is that something that just naturally happens on the job?

The only reason I ask is that I'm not a young buck anymore and I'm not clear on today's employment-seeking protocols and while all current fairy door orders will be shipped shortly, I'm going out of business at the end of the year because I can't afford to keep losing money.

It was fun being a gnome, but I gotta pay for the home, if you know what I mean.

Ideas and job offers welcome...

Posted by: martooni | December 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

There appear to be a new Kit!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Your welcome my friend!!!

Omni I have attended many a pro football game and have only been to 1 tie.The srike shortened 1982 season in game 6 The Baltimore Colts tied the Green bay Packers 20-20.It started snowing in the fourth quarter with the game tied and no one scored in overtime.

December 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the first sudden death overtime Championship game Between The Baltimore Colts and New York Giants.What some historians call the greatest game ever.The Ravens play Jacksonville that Sunday and I am sure they will have a ceremony or something to celebrate.I plan on attending.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 2, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Being the Boodle's go-anywhere, do-anything reporter, I went to that link!

It is both amusing and sad, in so many ways I cannot enumerate them all...

One of the oddities about UFO True Believers is the curious LACK of imagination.

BTW, that's go-anywhere, do-anything, if I can do it online and not have to, you know, injure myself or anything.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 2, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Klaatu barada meep meep.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 2, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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