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Obama Ball [Updated]

Raging cynic that I am, I don't think Obama has the power to transform our wheezing, rattling, clanking '67 Mercury Monterey of an economy into the Starship Enterprise overnight, but I do think he can order up some college football playoffs. That would be almost as good as rescuing the economy. The lack of playoffs isn't just irritating; it is undermining our sense of ourselves as a nation where justice and equality prevail.

I say this as a sports fan who dutifully has been yelling at the TV screen for weeks now, never more than this weekend, when there were multiple opportunities to impose my will upon distant events by the sheer volume of my voice and the intensity of my outrage (Portis's elbow caused that fumble no matter what those weasel referees say).

And I demand a playoff, even though my team is one of two going to the title game. (For those just now joining us, I root for the Gators, having grown up in Hogtown, barefoot and g-droppin', a tenure that permits me to claim to be, lo these many years later, one of the "dirt road alumni" of the university, even though I matriculated to [at? in?] a squash powerhouse in New Jersey.)

Obama is on the record favoring a playoff, and this year, once again, we see why it's desperately needed. It's not just that Texas got jobbed (it has the same record as Oklahoma, which is going to the title game, the only difference being that Texas BEAT Oklahoma on a neutral field earlier this year). It's that the computers, having examined all the teams, declared last night that the title game should be between ... hold on ... Texas and Oklahoma.

Who already played.

Leaving out the Gators, who merely are the best team in the country according to the Associated Press poll, and won their last nine games, including Saturday's victory against 12-0, No. 1 ranked Alabama in the SEC title game.

Somehow the geniuses who program the computers can't put in any common sense. [Update: Look again at the computer rankings: Florida is not only quite a bit behind Texas, it's barely ahead of Texas Tech, which just two weeks ago against Oklahoma resembled what's left of an armadillo after an encounter with a speeding car fender; and is barely ahead of Utah, which plays in some kind of obscure Basin and Range League.]

[Wait: Still scrutinizing the computer results, we see that, of the six computer programs used by the BCS, exactly one -- that would be the number between zero and two -- picked Florida for the title game. Three picked Texas. One picked Utah. One picked Texas Tech. These computers should be ashamed.]

Florida has to be in that game. It's the favorite in the early Vegas odds, giving away three points. No one wants to see a rematch of Texas-Oklahoma. The fans want to see Florida vs. one of those great Big 12 teams, which, by process of very cruel elimination of Texas, means Florida vs. Oklahoma, two storied programs that, strangely enough, have never met on the football field. This'll be huge! But only because the human voters had just enough weight to ensure that it'll be a Gators-Sooner matchup on Jan. 8.

The failure of the computers to get this right suggests that it's time to put the machines out to pasture.

The computers aren't buggy; they are the bug.


Of course, I could be wrong dept.:

Here's Darren Everson, a Wall Street Journal blogger, saying a playoff would have its own flaws; he argues for tweaking the system to require that title-game participants also be champions of their conference.

And I am given pause by the interesting comment from bc this morning in the boodle:

"... part of the charm and passion of college football (particularly in the Southern and Middle US; States that May Have Formerly Been Red, perhaps?) was that determining the national Champion *is* controversial, and that argument and disagreements stemming from biases, rivalries (Rovealries?), emotion are what stoked the passions, and, frankly, the high levels of interest. A dry, logical process to systematically determine a result could drain all of the emotion and passion out of determining a National Champion."

And by this from Gomer144:

" I sincerely wish that I could drum up the passion necessary to care about anything as much as Joel and others clearly care about these sporting competitions. I just can't imagine that these games have anything to do with me, and I have yet to comprehend how my devotion to them would be anything but a waste of time. One thing I am glad of though, is that we in America have so little else to worry about that which team gets into the playoffs seems to be such an earth-shattering, momentous decision that even the president-elect feels the need to opine about it. How far we have come from the days of the gladiators."

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 8, 2008; 8:36 AM ET
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I have friends who are avid football fans but mostly for office gambling... that's the big draw with people, not sport.

Posted by: MissToronto | December 8, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Wow Joel.

This sounds suspiciouslly like Canadian politics of late. Maybe they have the same bug.

Send them computers north. We'll set them out in the cold till whatever is affecting them is frozen right out.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 8, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I can't make sense of college football and even less of the ranking system.
There is 11 teams in the Big Ten conference, so you realize quickly there ain't much that makes sense in that sport.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC are 11...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I imagine some would suggest that this might be another instance of where Obama's using too much logic, too much thought and intellect to address a problem.

Those same folks might not say so - or even realize it - but part of the charm and passion of college football(particularly in the Southern and Middle US; States that May Have Formerly Been Red, perhaps?) was that determining the national Champion *is* contreversial, and that argument and disagreements stemming from biases, rivalries (Rovealries?), emotion are what stoked the passions, and, frankly, the high levels of interest.

A dry, logical process to systematically determine a result could drain all of the emotion and passion out of determining a National Champion, which, interestingly, is an argument I've heard against Our President-Elect before...

Personally, my intellect favors a playoff process, but my heart hopes it never happens, so we can get more Kits like this from Hopelessly Romantic Joel.


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Huge front-page, local coverage this morning (oversized photo, a second smaller one, and the first grafs of a story by reporter Colin McDonald) about a gathering of 100 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the National Museum of the Pacific War in nearby Fredericksburg, Texas. I think the name change of this museum is fairly recent; locals simply call it the Nimitz Museum, after favorite son Admiral Chester Nimitz, who took over command of the Pacific Fleet three weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Yet, several websites contain this material about Chester Nimitz, as told by his only son, Chester Nimitz Jr.:

Admiral Nimitz turned down the coveted command the Pacific fleet [PACCOM] so that he would not become the scapegoat if the Japanese surprise attacked the United States [also because he felt that he didn't have the seniority nor experience, according to other sources]. In a History Channel interview, Admiral Chester Nimitz Jr. described his father's political maneuver: "He said, 'It is my guess that the Japanese are going to attack us in a surprise attack. There will be a revulsion in the country against all those in command at sea, and they will be replaced by people in positions of prominence ashore, and I want to be ashore, and not at sea, when that happens.'" (Interview for the History Channel Program Admiral Chester Nimitz, Thunder of the Pacific)

So, I hope if Ivansmom and any other mothers tell their children the story of Peal Harbor, they will be sure to include the names of Arthur McCollum, Admiral Husband Kimmel, and Texas Admiral James O. Richardson, fired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surely the Eric Shinseki of his day. I doubt that there are any museums to Richarson in his hometown of Paris, Texas.

Or why not simply give your son or daughter a copy of Gore Vidal's (since he always seems to be ahead of the curve) 2000 book of historical fiction, "The Golden Age" in which he lays out our political dealings with Japan prior to Pearl Harbor including McCollum's eight-point memo and Pearl Harbor itself?

Posted by: laloomis | December 8, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

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

What's up, friends. Just getting back from the walk. Too cold to go real early, I waited for the sun to come up. And that didn't change a lot, still cold.

Mudge, I'm sorry about your team, the Redskins. When I lived in DC, I tried to follow them, but they were always a disappointment, kind of like building your hopes up, but then, it all went up in smoke.

My dad loves football. If I visit with him while a game is on, I'm not going to get any conversation. As children, we followed my dad to all the games. He took us with him, knowing full well, we're weren't into football. These were high school games, and it was a lot of fun, although we didn't understand the game at all. I think it was real brave of him to take three teenage girls to football games.

Slyness, Scotty, Yoki, Martooni, and all, have a great day, and try to stay warm. *waving*

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 8, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The powers that be just renewed the BCS television contract through 2014 so it appears we'll be well into the second Obama administration before there is a real college football championship. Not that I care, much, college football is just something to fill time until basketball season really gets rolling. Pro football is just silly (says the person who will be at a Vikings game on Dec. 28th).

Cold and snowy here and I should have been on my way to get some errands run an hour ago. Now that I'm not doing all my work from home, Mondays have gone back to their traditional mood-dark and ugly. Coffee will help. Good morning and toodles boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The BCS computers are telling me that this Kit should be called "The Obama Bowl," not "Obama Ball."

And yes, Joel, if you think you can drive the WaPo's ad rates up just a fraction by going all football all the time (at least until the first week of February), I'm on board with that.


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
The lack of playoffs isn't just irritating; it is undermining our sense of ourselves as a nation where justice and equality prevail.

Better a Roman coliseum-like setting sateside for a match between Chief Justice Roberts and Ali al-Marri? Or a mano-a-mano between Maher Arar and the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan, Dennis Jacobs?

Posted by: laloomis | December 8, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

But, at least there's a movie called "Paris, Texas" starring the disturbingly charismatic Harry Dean Stanton.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 8, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I beseech thee to harshly criticize neither The Wise and All-Knowing Electronic Difference Machines nor the Sacred Algorithms that they Compute.

For to so could perhaps incite Their Wrath which can be Most Terrible to behold. Oh suffer not the Humble Acolytes of these Masterful Machines should they be so aroused.

And now I must return the Their Tending, lest the grow Angry.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I sincerely wish that I could drum up the passion necessary to care about anything as much as Joel and others clearly care about these sporting competitions. I just can't imagine that these games have anything to do with me, and I have yet to comprehend how my devotion to them would be anything but a waste of time. One thing I am glad of though, is that we in America have so little else to worry about that which team gets into the playoffs seems to be such an earth-shattering, momentous decision that even the president-elect feels the need to opine about it.

How far we have come from the days of the gladiators.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 8, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I never realized I had such power! And to wander freely inside Joel's brain!

Now, if I could just figure out how to get that friggin' Survey pop-up out of my face...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.. college football is one of the sports not followed in the G house. Too much time is taken up with NFL and ACC basketball. Sounds like we chose wisely.

Heard from our buddy Don from I-270 this morning. He can read us, but can't post to the boodle, so he asked me to share this fun Christmas quiz. I will admit that I got fewer than half of them right...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 8, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Loomis's Nimitz story has truthiness. The Japanese navy started the 1904 war on Russia several hours before a declaration of war. US Navy officials must have been aware of this precedent.

For what it's worth, the 1904 war was planned at a nice villa in Kyoto with an excellent garden, now open to the public.

Just as the South seized football, it's taken over rowing. Gainesville is home to Little River Marine, which claims to be the world's largest manufacturer of recreational rowing craft. That grand new rowing/kayaking setup in Oklahoma City isn't a coincidence.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 8, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Spectator sports are fun and make us happy. Sure, they aren't important, per se. But so what. Knowing minutia about Important Stuff doesn't make one more morally superior than knowing minutia about sports figures.

Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the very few people whose opinion actually matters about these things. Otherwise it is all just Cognitive Onanism.

And with spectator sports, at least you can purchase logo merchandise.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your tender concern over my morale, Cassandra, in the wake of the Redskins' loss. But you must remember: I was born and raised in Fuldullfya, lived there until my mid-30s, and grew up following the Iggles and Fullies. Therefore, I am well adapted to failure, heartbreak and disappoint; it is added to our mother's milk when we are all but wee toddlers, mere babes in swaddling. Nay, it is in the very air we breathed in Fully. You know how fans in some cities have those big foam "Number One" fingers gthey wave? In Fully we had big foam Number Eights. Yes, very discouraging. You know how some fans show up at games with signs that say "D" and the next sign is of a picket fence? Well, in Fully we had the "D" sign, and the sign next to it showed a pair of feet. In Fully in 1960, Santa Claus showed up at a football game-- and got pelted with snowballs. We Fuldullfyans have taken loss and existential angst to whole new levels. (A fate I admit we share with Chicago Cubs fans; we are not exclusive in our masochism.)

So fear not, Cassandra. When the Redskins lose, I can just laugh it off. People here inside the beltway don't know what real misery is.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I asked Ivansdad about the BCS/playoff kerfuffle, saying my understanding was that a playoff system would be less random than the computer matches. He pointed out that choosing teams for a playoff also has a large degree of subjectivity and might just exchange one random method for another. If that's so, I might favor the playoff system purely because it depends on human subjectivity rather than Sacred Algorithms. Fear not, RD, this is actually a measure of respect, as it leaves the All-Knowing Electronic Difference Machines free to devote their superior computing intellect to questions of more importance. Like baseball standings.

Nobody in the Ivansclan has any particular allegiance to any state school, but we've decided that given the national exposure and money coming in, it is good for the state when OU wins big and goes to the national finals. Rah.

This was a funny Kit, even for non-football fans. Though it is always difficult to single out any particular sentence amidst the seamless humor, this phrase resonated: "impose my will upon distant events by the sheer volume of my voice and the intensity of my outrage". That is so exactly what people watching football do!!

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Question here. If we had college football playoffs, what would happen to the bowl games?

I'm afraid our Virginia Tech Hokies would not be able to compete against so many college teams. That is not to say I am against the play-offs, just wondering out loud.

Sneakers, thanks for your nod on previous boodle, sorry about Boston College, dunno if it makes a difference in your family or not.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 8, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that was one darn tough Xmas quiz. Got 8 out of 15, and had to guess at a few of those. (And I dispute one I missed.)

Padouk, I really like "cognitive onanism," especially as a replacement for a favorite phrase of mine, which may be abbreviated m.m. and means the same thing.

See, the thing about all this Pearl Harbor revisionism is, it isn't designed to rectify a situation or clarify an issue, or even to educate; it is only offered up to rain on somebody's parade. (And anyway a lot of it is more speculative, less conclusive, and way more nuanced than presented.) And what the Japanese did in 1904 is irrelevant to 1941, just as what they did in 1941 is irrelevant to what they might do in 2013.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Front Page Alert, BTW...

*setting Bunker guard to watch for Gators and Sooners (and Longhorns, oh my!)*


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Scotty, if there is a Longhorn stampede, some of us could be in trouble running for the bunker. I don't move as fast as I used to (and that was never exactly gazelle-like, to begin with).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

You only need to run faster than me, 'Mudge, and you're well able to do that.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

That's as may be, Yoki, but you forget I'm "old school": wimmin and children first, and all that.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you can get inside Joel's head because you are from another planet and have special powers. You just don't remember arriving on planet earth because the aliens had that experience erased from your brain.

I'm sure you wife of many years would agree.

Posted by: Windy3 | December 8, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge can get inside Joel's head...


"Being Joel Achenbach"

Nah, it'd never sell.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Gallant sir, in that case we'll hold hands and boot it for the bunker together.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, hope you had a good rest. I get jet lag with even a 2 hour time change. So I am learning to adjust my schedule accordingly...if possible. Sorry I won't get to meet you in person when I am in DC later this week. Hopefully some day!

Posted by: Windy3 | December 8, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Feel just the same, Windy3! Was so sorry to know that we missed each other by only *this* much.

You will have a blast at the BPH. The DC Boodlers are exactly the same in person as they are here, only nicer and warmer.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I was hoping so especially since I am the permanently slightly mixed up one and get spooked easily. :-)

But I also have a big job (they like me...they really like me) that I now must direct my attention.

Later dear boodlers!

Posted by: Windy3 | December 8, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Just as I've long suspected: The WaPo home page now has a hed that says: "Is Canada a Threat?" It appears in the "Talk" section, and promos a William Arkin column about the INS using Predator UAVs to sureveill the Canukistan border.

We've known for quite a while you Haute Mainers were up to something. Thank god our crack Homeland Security people are wasting gazillions of our precious bodily resources, to say nothing of the money, patrolling that border, which as we all know has been a world hot spot of trouble-making for many years now.

*shaking my head in disgust*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Got 10-15 on the christmas quiz. I'll proudly wear that tiara till someone knocks it off my head.

Posted by: omnigood | December 8, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Darn, we have to change plans again. Back to the BC-Washington plan Yoki or we do Minnesota-MB by boat?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Gators v Ok would be good. But if the Gators ever play Texas A&M Aggies, I think my head would explode. Or Aggies v FSU. I attended both FSU and UF, and then lived in Aggieland during the golden age of the Southwest Conference. FSU was not competitive when I was there, although I loved the school (only after an ill-advised transfer to UF). And in Aggieland, they still had all the oddball traditions: the Twelfth Man, the standing up, the kissing of ones date on every score. The bonfire had no tragedy tied to it. Football was good in Texas those days. Now the Aggies host the GHW Bush Library. Boo!

So I'd root for Florida, but take my hat off to the Aggies as fierce warriors.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I believe I've probably kissed my date on every score, and I was never even an Aggie.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I know. I'm just so "old school."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Though god knows there were a bunch of shut-outs.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I think I even did the "Wave" once, after a doubleheader.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, this is an intel disaster!

Let's go to the deeply classified "Osoyoos/Cascades" plan. Remember that? We'll sneak over the mountains and move east through northern Washington State scooping up all the stockpiled toilet paper (hahahaha! That'll bring DC to its knees at the first snowfall!) and then make our way east, making common cause with fly-over country until we've amassed enough hearts and minds to take the Eastern Seabord. Next, Mexico by winter 2009-2010!

You can bring the checked flannel shirts and I'll start the brownies.

And so it begins!

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

1) Gomer-- too right.

2) Windy-- gosh... you mean Mudge is Mearth?! That explains tons.

3) Not sure that quiz is 100% correct. I want to see sources ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I didn't like a couple of them, either, Wilbrod. I think you're right.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Noonin' everybody...

I have no opinion on the playoff vs. whatever battle as I am one of those few men in America who could really give a flying guano about sports and wears flannel and longjohns with pride. But no brassieres. I ain't no lumberjack. I just turn what they cut down into little fairy doors and a brassiere would just slow me down.

Just taking a quick break to watch paint dry, grab a sammich, then back out to the shop. I think I've finally kicked that dratted flu bug and have also become acclimated to the freezer I call a workshop. I actually prefer the cold now. I just wish my paints and other freezable materials would get with the program because I'm tired of shuttling them back and forth from the house to the shop. No rings of power in my pockets, but I've got several 2oz. tubes of acrylic paints.

Anyway, hope you're all having a Happy Moanday.

Peace out :-)

Posted by: martooni | December 8, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Tangent to today's kit, Tomorrow, Dec 9th, marks the 40th anniversary of the first demo of what became the personal computer and mouse. The San Francisco Chronicle has nice story on the event including a link to a 100 minute video that SRI saved. The article notes that Gates was 12 and Jobs 13 at the time. The article says the video may be viewed in 10 minutes increments.

If you care to read more at there are lots of great recaps of the 49ers beating Farve and that other NY team.

Posted by: bh71 | December 8, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

13-15 on the Christmas Quiz, even though I agree that some of the answers they provide are possibly wrong.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: DoC's 10:29...

How many of the records about the American Operation Magic and Purple Code and JN-25 (and the corresponding British operation ULTRA) did the National Security Agency(and correspondingly British intelligence) release? All? Some? What percentage? How much of this top-secret NSA and Naval Archives material was author Robert Stinnett--and and other researchers, for that matter--able to get his hands on when he wrote his 1999 book "Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor"?

And how much did New York Governor and presidential contender Thomas E. Dewey and Army General George C. Marshall know about these codes and whether they had been cracked, so that Pearl Harbor could have been prevented? Did Marshall really advise Dewey to stay mum on the subject during his campaign?

Posted by: laloomis | December 8, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

bc, congratulations on making it into the kit. My husband agrees with you and generally enjoys the controversy of it all (though as a Longhorn fan, he may be feeling otherwise this year). I'm wondering, though ... I guess if playoffs diminish passion, that would explain why no one cares about the end of the college basketball season. March -- oh, what do they call it -- Monotony?

Posted by: -bia- | December 8, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The Boss is boodle-mining to update the kit. bc and Gomer stepped up to the plate.

4/15 on the Christmas quizz, including 2 lucky shots in the dark. I'm obviously a closet Muslim, like That One.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Gomer's right in the Kit update, Joel's on a merry-go-round of F-G (feel good) Kits, sports and autumn in the last several days, that have nothing to do with the real sucky news about the state of the economy.

That said, there was a great story on our local business page today, the one under the banner, a reprint of a story by reporter Sandra Forester written for McClatchy, about how more people are making the jumpt to debt-free living. The article profiles the Enzmingers from Eagle, Idaho, who were in terrible arrears and, after hearing a radio show about saving, spending and living debt-free, turned their lives around. They created an emergency fund, paid off the loan on their pickup, sold lots of excess stuff, and took on extra jobs. They even now cut their own wood, and the accompanying photo shows, are a pretty physicaly lean-looking bunch. They claim that even their marital relationship has improved.

It'll be interesting to see how Obama juggles all the economic balls he'll have been tossed once he's sworn in. That's the story I most want to read, not college football playoffs.

Posted by: laloomis | December 8, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, somehow I don't think kissing after scoring is gonna make it into the kit.

Just a hunch.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

How dare anyone want to read about the economy when people are expiring of cholera in Africa. And how dare people want to read about cholera when India might go to war with Pakistan. And how dare people want to read about nuclear conflict when the poles are melting.

It's a big internet. There's news a plenty out there.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I've been pleased to sense a return to the "humor blog", quirky nature of the Achenblog. Our collective foray into politics and Serious Stuff was worth while and inevitable, but it is nice to return to a more eclectic, even unpredictable, lineup. Joel can often sneak seriosity (well, it should be a word) into frivolous subjects, and occasionally has been known to use humor to sneak in thoughts about Important Topics. I find it comforting to know, however, that sometimes a general humor blog is just a general humor blog, with a sciency bent.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 8, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, It made me groan though.

I'm about to go seriously off-topic, that should be right after 40 comments or so, no?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

1- Here’s my bookstore story for Brag. Last Thursday at lunchtime I stopped at the bookstore to spend the $25 gift card I got from their fidelity program. I quickly picked up 3 paperbacks and proceeded toward the cash in the crowded store. There was this gap between a fiberboard stand loaded with books and a plump clerk standing in front of the counter. And so I jumped into the breach only to chest-bump this small white-haired guy hard enough to send him a$$ over tea kettle but, luckily he bounced off the perfectly located clerk and I could get hold of him on the rebound. No apparent damage was done to neither the old guy nor the bouncy clerk.
He was a local author doing a signature event at the store. He was hidden by his publisher’s fiberboard bookstand because he stands on the short side of 5 foot nothing. He chatted with me a bit and pretty much buttonholed me in buying his book, and I was happy to do so. He’s an interesting guy, in his mid 80’s I would guess, as he is a veteran of WWII. He had the pleasure (NOT!) of being a radio and signal man on a RCN corvette patrolling the North Atlantic in the last couple of years of the war.
Maiming a veteran who survived that would have been so wrong. So there you go Brag, a book-signing event could be risky business (when I’m around anyway).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse


Harvin will be back. Everyone will be healthy. Florida will win.

A GHS and UF grad

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 8, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

2- The book is about his uncle Leo LeBoutillier, a hero of the Vimy ridge battle in WWI. The taking of Vimy ridge by Canadian troops is considered a defining event for this country and uncle Leo died in that famed battle. Anyway this uncle wrote plenty of letters to various members of his family from his successive postings in Canada, the UK and then France and this up to his last days. The author Gordon Pimm collected and edited the letters, added an introduction, a few comments and pictures and published it as his first (and maybe last…) book., “Leo’s War”.
The book is OK, but it’s not my sort of things. One of the story I enjoyed the most is pre-war, from 1910, and it is about Leo and friends going moose hunting with a couple of .22s and one .44 caliber rifles. The .22 is a good plinking and groundhog caliber while the .44 is more of a revolver caliber of medium power. In this day and age of magnum-itis I found it kind of refreshing even though I wouldn’t go hunting moose with a .22 myself. (Besides, I think it would be illegal.)
So, if a certain famously irascible boodler who likes to kiss his scores with a lifelong interest in WWI is interested in “Leo’s War” the book is for him to have. Just provide me with a mailing address at -my handle without the underscore-at-gmail-dotcom and if the postal gods are with us he may have one more C-gift. If I were quicker on my feet I would have had the book dedicated; but yet it is signed by the author.

Mr. Pimm on a morning TV show.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I think bc makes a very profound point about the joys of ambiguity. You can only argue about something when there is information on both sides of an issue. That's why so many of the best arguments are about meaningless stuff - things nobody really cares enough about to find out for sure.

So I can certainly see why an ambiguous sports evaluation can have certain charms. For the fans, that is. I imagine that the participants might welcome a definitive ruling. Unless, of course, they know in their hearts that they might not end up on top. Then some degree of obfuscation might be welcome. For example, what if nuclear science were to determine that Portis really didn't cause that fumble. The last refuge of the disillusioned would be lost.

How cruel that would be.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 8, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The Obama election has sparked the economy in Oregon - in guns and ammo sales. Jackson county has about 25 guns shops and the all report in today's paper that they can't keep AK-47s and AR-15s in stock. Of course all the buyers say they are buying the for hunting even though the dept. of fish and game says hunting license sales are way down.
The state reports 2198 instant background checks black Friday compared to 1713 last year. Background checks are running 720/day vs 437 before the election.
One pawn shop operator reporting rumors for people buying AR-15s for $700 and flipping them for $1200-1400 at gun shows. What are these people thinking?

Anyone else notice that the comment' spell checker doesn't recognize the spelling of the president-elect?

Posted by: bh71 | December 8, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

RD, while that was touchingly written, to that last sentiment, I cannot help but retort: life is cruel. Suck it up.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, we don't need no steenkin' science to know we was robbed on that call. It is a matter of faith, not science.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Since the Boodle appears to be napping, I'll post this link to Michael Dirda's advice on giving books:

Posted by: seasea | December 8, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I usually spend my Christmas Eve with family but this year, we're going to the Hawaii Bowl! Not that the match-up is anything to get excited about but the University of Hawaii is playing Notre Dame, the first big name to come along in a long time (yeah, I know they suck but so do we). We're just hoping enough Fighting Irish come stay in our hotels and spend their money in our town. We need the business!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 8, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh crap. Fire alarm in the building and we have to evacuate. And it's cold outside, and I don't wanna stand around sniffling and freezing. I may just try to hide out here and become a crispy critter.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

If you really want to go to a very warm place, Mudge, I guess nobody can stop you...

But jeez, please get a parka and get moving. You wouldn't want some hard-working fireman to die getting at your crispy carcass.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

bh -- you got a spell checker in comments? I want one!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 8, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

MotP-we spent Christmas watching a two bowl double header at Aloha stadium back in 2000. It's a great place for football, even when the teams stink. My co-workers were all either Kahuku or St. Louis fans so we watched many high school games too. Thanks for sharing your insights on Shinseki in the last boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Whenever gnome eats
But doesn't offer me any-
I mutter, "no fair!"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Despite admitting to watching many football games, and taking a more than passing interest in a couple of teams in particular, I want to reiterate that college football doesn't matter, and the NFL is stupid. However, its all good if we can spend some time not talking about the latest, most important, or most urgent world crisis-and even less time debating which ones might be latest, most important or most urgent.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing. They just cancelled the fire alarm-- it was a defective sensor or something like that.

Don't worry, Wilbrod--I'm right by a window, and very near the front door. I can always smash my way out if I have to. Anyway, we've had maybe 15 fire drills or false alarms in this building in the last 17 months. The "credibility" of the fire alarm system here is pretty low.

OK, got a major question for the Boodle, which as we all know by now, knows everything. Here it is: my wife wants a new camera for Xmas, one with a "wide-angle" lens and otherwise has few bells and whistles. What is the least expensive, simplest camera on the market out there? What constitutwes a "wide angle" lens?

I've seen a few in the $500 range, and that's already way over budget.


Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog-I'd be interested in seeing a similar experiment with cats. But, if the frostcats are any indication, the only trick they are willing to perform for food is to refuse to eat it until the preferred type is offered.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Mudge- Is SHMBO looking for something to take pictures of listings for posting online? This agent takes great pictures, and if you can overlook the need for an editor her blog posts aren't too bad either. Here's a link and if you scroll down you'll see some FAQ which have the camera and lenses she uses, including a wide angle lens.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 8, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Often the cheapest point n shoot cameras are the best for getting pictures you can e-mail. If you want more fancy stuff like hugely detailed pictures for photoshopping, etc. then go upmarket.

I could press the button and hold it down and move for a panorama on my old camera. That might be the same effect as a wide-angle lens, or you could get a camera that can be reset for such broad picture-taking.

God, I miss using my Kodak easyshare camera. Better shutter speed and light adjustment. My new camera takes a truckload of pixels.. and far more blurry pictures because I like to take pictures of stuff that, like, move.

200 bucks or less for a camera like I had, I'd say, Mudge.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Frosti - Aloha Stadium is a great place for football, especially when you see it on TV and you're in Buffalo, NY with snow up to your eyeballs. We've got one sunny stadium, that's for sure. As for high school football, Punahou landed the State Championship this past weekend. They beat Leilehua 38-7, it was a romp. Saint Louis hasn't had a showing in a while. I'm not disappointed though as the school is starting to move back to academics after having been all-football-all-the-time focused for a long time. I'm paying nice money for Alohaboy to be a Crusader and I want him to crusade through to a good academic college!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 8, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I have seen several fairly simple and decent 7-8 mega-pixel cameras for about $110. At BJ's Wholesale, even less with in-store rebates. You then need to spend some more for a decent-size memory card. They all have fairly short focal lengths.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 8, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Giving fur off back
To warm toddler lost in woods--
Puppy heroism.

(I warm gnomes, and I don't get in the papers like this. No fair.)


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I've had good luck with Olympus wide angle camera. I have an old but still good 4060, I suspect that the new FE-350 is worth a look. They are good for inside photography, groups, landscape, that type of things. It's a quality camera, not a throwaway though in the $200-250 range. It's got one of those propriatary Li battery, you must add one spare battery in the price of the camera.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I do have a suggestion, Mudge: get off Google and use Cuil for product reviews. I started doing so and am glad I did.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 8, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wide angle cameras make good shoprt range/macrophotography cameras as well. Their weakness is portrait.
It also annoys me greatly to have paid $700-800 5 years ago for something I can get now (and it's probably better) for $250. But there you go.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys. Frosti, the camera that agent uses has a link to it--and it costs $850, and she uses an wide-angle lens, an additional $500. At that kinda money they darn well ought to be pretty good pix. Alas, out of my price range.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Strangely, "sweaty moose" is not a googlenope.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mudge,

I bought a Canon Powershot Pro S5 earlier this year and love it because it's simple and can shoot wide angles pretty well. Great stabilizer too as I've not got a steady hand. Right now it's selling for over $500 but I paid less than $380. There is a newer version now, the Canon Powershot SX10IS which is much cheaper (not sure why the newer one is cheaper than the old). Here's the link:

It's a point and shoot camera and not a SLR, which requires more responsibility on the photographer's part to set stuff like aperture and focus and all that. I'm not that advanced so I went with the point and shoot. I also like that it uses AA batteries so there's no charging although it's heavier than lithium battery cameras.

Good luck!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 8, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the camera that Frosti's link uses (Rebel XLT) sells at Costco for less than $700 (sometimes there's coupons for more discount) although that's an SLR camera and not a point and shoot. Not sure if that is what you're looking for.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 8, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Hey - I'm in the Kit? Holy frijoles!

RD, I would suggest to you that it isn't nuclear physics that I'd relate to Portis' fumble last night - it's quantum mechanics and even non-quantum mechanical Uncertainty (as discussed in David Wolpert's recent paper, "The Physical Limits of Inference").

You can know which running back it is, where he is (e.g. forward progress), if he's still in play, if he's down, and if he still has possession of the ball, but you can't know all of those variables with 100% certianty.

Call it the Hoculi Uncertainty Principle, after Big Gun Ref Ed's Uncertainty about employing his whistle during the last couple of minutes of the Broncos/Chargers game back in September. Sheesh. Norv Turner was sop upset by that, I think he considered changing his first name to No-Re after that (and the season the Chargers are having).

Personally, I prefer optical zoom to digital, so I'd look for at least an 8x optical zoom camera.

If my wife or SO asked me to purchase her a camera with wide angle capability, I'd probably get a little uncomfortable, but that's just me. Note: No mention was made of the cameras use or the phrase "heavenly bodies."


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to keep the cost down to less than my first car.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

bc, if I'd wanted a macro lens I'd have asked for one.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I own the Olympus FE-340 and love it. All the flower photos I posted were taken with this camera. It's digital and all FE series retail for under $200.

Posted by: omnigood | December 8, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I got published! I'm printing out today's kit and will be at your local bookstore signing copies in fifteen minutes. If you want it personalized, it'll cost you a buck. For the ladies, though, I'll doe it for free.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 8, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I should add that I am biased. Olympus has been my favorite camera since my Mom gave me one of hers when I was just a kid. An Olympus-Pen view finder with four distance settings and a 28mm lens (that's wide angle). She got it in Japan as a gift from my Dad, though he (my Dad was a photographer for the Army) used a Nikon himself. Before I was even born.

Posted by: omnigood | December 8, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I was just looking at the Fe-350, omni. E-Bay seems to have a lot of them offered at pretty good prices, too. About $200 new, and maybe $40 or $50 used or reconditioned.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 8, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

nellie4, I thought the spell checker was a new WaPo standard feature in comments since they started to make us sign in for every post.
Maybe it has to do with my changing over to Mozilla Firefox browser from Explorer as suggested by the boodle. I'm not going to switch back to find out.
Anyway it's only a half spellchecker. It only suggests I may have typed incorrectly with a red underline but it won't provide a correct spelling. Have to look up the word and correct.

Getting lots of exercise with the new pup. She won't poop on the leash and has now decided to explore the far reaches of the property when I take her out. She can run faster than me so spent the morning boarding up all the spaces in the backyard fence she could wiggle under.

Posted by: bh71 | December 8, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The dumb spell check is a mozilla feature.
And my old Olympus is a 5060, not a 4060. That thing has been kicked around quite a bit an still works like a charm.
One word of caution on used cameras Mudge, if they brake soon or are broken to start with they are non-repairable as it is cheaper to buy a new one than pay the very few people interested in repairing them. Buyers beware.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

scc break

I just voted. Even met the candidate I voted for, she was in the polling station to cheer up her volunteers. She looks a bit older but much better in person. She should lose the plastic look for her official pictures.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 8, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -

I have a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 that I heart.

This has 28mm equivalent at the wide end and 504mm (18x)at the long end. It can be taken out to about 23x (650mm?) by dropping down to 5 megapixals. Takes a great picture and the optical image stabilization works well.

Should be able to get one for about $300. Also it is one of the few cameras in its class that will take a true wide-angle lens of about 14-18mm. It requires a special adapter to get that wide but is not all that expensive.


Posted by: DLDx | December 8, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Evening all, only got 40% on the Christmas quiz, I was very interested in this Christmas blog today and my amusement of it may explain the 40% results on the quiz.

Jesus as guest blogger, perhaps he would have a good college football playoff system.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 8, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing uncontrollably at the Jesus blog, and I suppose that says something about me. I love that he says he had to turn the comments off. Thanks, dmd.

Posted by: seasea | December 8, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

On a side note, if that '67 Monterey has one of the big 428 FE engines, I'd be willing to overhaul it.

Similar enough to my friend's '67 Ford Galaxie (and I've spent time on that crate) that I'm comforable that I could handle it.

Plus, the Mercury Monterey fastback coupes looked pretty nice, and that Breezeway slide down rear window option on the sedans made them interesting, anyway.

Speaking of clanky, have a good long look at the old NCC-1701 circa '67, and I think you'll find a pretty fussy, unreliable crate that left the crew stranded and pretty inopportune moments, too. It was the crew that made that ship go, not the basic design and build of the old Constitution class starships. That crew might have been able to get a '67 Monterey into warp with a little luck.

And Obama's crew's going to need all the luck they can muster to get the Economy moving along under it's own power on implulse, much less past light speed.


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

bc, I'm ashamed of you...

Scotty could have gotten a Vespa to at least Warp 1.3, you know that...


And unless the suitcase-packing gods are very kind, this will probably be the beginning of a week-or-so-long Boodle hiatus as NukeSpouse and I do some in-law visiting (on both sides). Y'all play nice now, y'heah?

Vaya con queso, and fondue, my friends.

*I'm-a-leavin'-on-a-jet-plane-and-I-DO-know-when-I'll-be-back-again Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I finally warmed up after last night's game.All or most of the washington fans were very nice.But they didn't have much to cheer for. Ed Reed pretty much had a game changing game,2 interceptions and strip and fumble return for a TD. Ray Lewis may be the heart and soul of the Ravens D, but Ed Reed is the playmaker.

The skins D played a very good game too,and it was flippin cold last night.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 8, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Have a great vacation, Scottynuke and Nukespouse. *Grover waves* You will be missed around here.

Sign of a true football fan: attends games when the weather is horrid. Glad to hear you have recovered, gwe.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Well, I finally got a chance to take the quiz, and got 7/15, which seems to be about the average. Am working late again tonight, after getting past some tummy bug that sidelined me most of last week.

I was really depressed by the 'Skins performance last night. I know that Campbell is still suffering from too many different schemes in too short a time, but I still think he's late on his throws too often. Still, even at 6-2, the team was playing down to the competiton, so this kind of performance against quality teams should not be that much of a surprise.

The other team that bugs me (us) is the Steelers. My wife, who bleeds black and gold, made me turn off yesterday's game near the end of the first half. I finally tuned back in about 7:15 to discover they were suddenly in the lead! And they beat the 'Pokes! But their O line reminds me too much of the 'Skins, and Big Ben needs to just get rid of the ball instead of taking those 12 yard sacks. Also, if Tomlin knows enough, as soon as the Steelers clinch a berth he should sit Ben down for a couple of weeks to heal.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 8, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Back in my days as a car salesman, I sold an old Monterey. A '59, if I remember correctly. All I really remember was having to drive that sled to the customer's house with almost brakes and a very grumpy V8 running on 4 or 5 cylinders. It was an automatic with giant batwings off the rear and chrome everywhere else. Red/black/white/chrome was the color scheme inside and out. The customer was a young kid who spotted it on our back lot and I got $500 for it (this was 1986). Even if he never did a thing with it, it would probably go for $5K just for parts today.

The owner of the dealership was into Mustangs (Boss 302's, particularly), or he'd have never let it go for any price. I'm sure he's kicking himself today for letting it go for $500. Heck, with all the metal that went into cars like that, you could probably get $500 just for scrap.

Posted by: martooni | December 8, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I looove the Baby Jesus blog. It's pants-wetting funny!

On kit, I agree with Gomer144's sentiments, especially about football. I am grateful I live in a nation where men can play sports instead of fighting wars. The channeling of testosterone into sporting passions is one of the greatest achievements of Western civilization.

Posted by: slyness | December 8, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

bc, saw this ad about an used car for sale.

Looks like it needs a little cranking to get going, but it sure does soar once it does.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I am so full. I may never recover. I may never eat again (OK, that was a bit rash.)

No. 1 dottir and SIL took my wife, my no. 2 son and me to dinner downtown at a very trendy restaurant called Fogo de Chao on Penna. Ave. five blocks from the White House. It's Brazilian, and has a prix fixe menu (or actually, no menu), since everybody gets the same thing. First, there is a to-die-for salad bar that puts every other salad bar to shame. It has largish chunks of parmesan regianno, a whole smoked salmon, proscuitto, and various veggies and greens, but several magnitudes above your average garden salad stuff. I could have made do just with the smoked salmon and the rest. But no.

For the main courtse you receive a paper "coin" about three inches in diamter, red on one side, green on the other. The colors are obvious: stop and go. Waiters come around to your table with swords, on which are various cuts of meat , 15 types in all. One sword will have to-die-for top round that looks like prime rib. Another will have narrower pieces of top round. There's two kinds of lamb, one kind of chick, little filet mignons wrapped in bacon, a garlic beef cut that was to die for, and pork ribs. The waiters cut it off the sword for you until you beg them to stop.

And being Brazilian, one might guess that the first cocktail on the list was the caiprinha, about which I may have boodled a time or two.

O.M.G. I think I may have contracted a rare form of protein poisoning. Mediumrareptomaine. Gaucholitis. Jeez, was it good.

Now I must try to stay awake for oh, maybe a third of the Bucs game. Wish me zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 8, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

They're obviously trying to stay in the will AND off you at the same time.

Sounds delicious. Fogo de Chao, you say?

Price range here:

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 8, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

After a slow start I finished 11/15 on the
Christmas quiz. Once you know it's about Christmas myths you just have to answer counter-intuitively.

There are currently over 20 games. You only need 16 for a four round championship, but that seems excessive for a season that is only twelve games at most. I say eight games played just before Christmas, four games around New Years, two games the following week with the championship the off-week before the Super Bowl. Two schools play two games more than they normally would. No big deal.

And we can even keep around the CarQuest Weedeater Emerald Massengill Bowls for filler like we do with the NIT.

Problem solved. When do Barack and I get the NCAA on the phone to tell them how it is?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Brazilian Dim Sum - who'd a thunk it? Enjoy the meat coma - this MNF game is a dazzling 10-3 scorefest. Seriously, it's a good ground war; running backs and line play determining the flow of the game.

Wilbrod, I think you topped martooni on the automotive fin factor...

gwe, you got to see Ed Reed play one of the games of his life. You'll be able to say you were there when they induct Reed into Pro Football Valhalla in Canton.


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

That style of food is called churrascaria, but since I can't pronounce it, let alone spell it, I just call it Brazilian Meat Buffet. And it is delicious as long as you have a signed note from your cardiologist.

We had one on the Columbia waterfront about three restaurants renovations ago, but us HoCo folk don't seem to be sophisticated enough to keep that type of place in business like DC or New York. I miss it, but the sushi place next to where it used to be is considered one of the top in the area. But raw bait with wasabi doesn't quite compare to the goodness of steak on a stick.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse


The Panthers literally ran over the Bucs tonight.

G'night, Boodle.


Posted by: -bc- | December 8, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

American football is a sad and wimpy sport.

Here's a SERIOUS sport -- after all, it has weapons and camp followers:

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 8, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Any Frank Zappa fans out there might get the humor in this. (I should probably try to keep my pomes to myself, but... if a dog can post haiku here...)

a winter walk with little bean

we searched in vain
for her missing boot
so the tennis shoes
had to do,
and we bundled ourselves
in our winter's best
so we might catch
the freshest snowflakes
on our tongues
and our noses
this white morning,
so we started in the yard
and random pathways
came to life behind us
as the flakes floated down
and she said
"look, it's so smooth"
and i said "yes, it was"
and then we were silent
for a while as we wended
down the road a way
and found tracks
from a dog to a bush
and i had to tell her
what not to do
with yellow snow
(especially if there are
huskies in the vicinity)
which gave us a new giggle
to giggle about,
a giggle we could start with a look
even in front of her mother
and remember that walk
and the flakes on our noses
and the paths we made
and the pee on the bush
and then we could giggle some more
and everyone would think
we were nuts
and we could giggle even more

Posted by: martooni | December 9, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Good pome, martooni.

Moopball, you say? Hmmm. Still, any sport that allows for wenches and...uh... "camp followers" ... can't be all bad.

Liked Milbank's piece on the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade versus Obama. By coincidence, a friend of mine said that on Thanksgiving Day she was attending a T-Day dinner and got into a serious yelling match with a rightwing nutjob who insisted Obama was defrauding everyone, wasn't a natural-born citizen, yadda yadda. My friend -- not normally a yeller, nor much of an apologizer, for that matter, wound up having to aopologize for raising her voice, though she didn't start the argument. So much for the peace and quiet of a Thanksgiving dinner. But the moral of the story is there are some real wack jobs out there floating around.

OK, the Dawn Patrol begins today absent my trusted wingman Scotty, who is on vacation somewhere in the wilds of New England. Cassandra, Brag, SD, Yoki (?), yello, anyone else? There's Entenmann's coffee cake and hot coffee in the Ready Room. (I put in a request for creamed dried beef for tomorrow, but don't know how well that's gonna go.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 9, 2008 6:24 AM | Report abuse

According to my GoogleWeatherWidget, it's 31 degrees out. I deliberately trick myself by not putting out the garbage the night before. That makes me bundle up to do it in the morning. Then since I'm outside already, I might as well go for a jog. This morning the jog took the last half of "Jungleland", "Life During Wartime" and "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant". The cool-down was "Right Hand Man" by Joan Osborne.

It'll get you moving in the morning.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2008 6:36 AM | Report abuse

'morning all, Curmudgeon. It's cold, snowy (4 to 6 in. is the forecast) and dark. The dawn patrol will be grounded here at least until daylight and don't hold your breath.

We got pretty much the expected results in the provincial election with one notable exception. An Iranian leftist doctor (Amir Khadir) was elected in a Montreal riding. Good for him, he deserves it. He was elected in the same riding that elected a leftist poet in 1976. That was another pleasant surprise, the election the poet Gerald Godin who had been thrown in jail by the Great Democrat PE Trudeau in 1970....

Off to a long day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

A much higher quality link:

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2008 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning Boodle!
Dawn Patrol: Remember to keep those oil coolers open as you warm up your engines or the oil in them will freeze.

Good op ed by Zardari in NYT.

Haff a gut day, everyone!

Posted by: Braguine | December 9, 2008 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Fresh coat of snow here as well, but the temperatures are rising so it should melt before the end of the day or get washed away by rain. Very pretty out right now though.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 9, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everybody! Forty degrees and clouds in the eastern sky, making a nice sunrise. Rain is in the forecast, yay! Much euphoria in this town over last night's football game. The Elderdottir went to the game; I look forward to hearing her version of what occurred. This is the second game she's gone to, much to the amazement of Mr. T.

I'll be airborne shortly, to make up for those who are socked in.

Posted by: slyness | December 9, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Morning Boodle. Cassandra, 'mudge, everyone.

Not so worried about the oil freezing as the ice on the runway.

Back to the office for the first time in 6 days. Ack!

Have a memorable Tuesday, all.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Nother busy day around here. Personally, I think we need to be watching them Canadians more closely. I have bravely offered to go undercover and do so myself. Equipped, of course, with a generous amount of spending money so as to build Proper Trust. But, alas, shot down again. Back to the lab fer me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 9, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

The bird gang has been at the feeder since first light. Honestly, I think I'm the only one in the neighbor hood who feeds them on these cold, cold mornings. Cardinals, Eastern Blue Birds, Chickadees, sparrows, titmouse, slate colored junkos, even the goldfinch are early birds this morning. Woodpeckers will come later in the morning, they fly in, scatter the others to the side, because they can.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 9, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Love to hear about your birds, VintageLady, we have few woodpeckers and no cardinals, though the Mountain Bluebird would take your breath away.

RD, you can deputize the Canadian-watching. You already have a couple/five moles in place. To paraphrase Tom King, the Boodle is not just about fine writing and desultory conversation, it also serves vital national interests of at least two countries.

OK, really going to work now. 'Bye all.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

VL, nice collection of birds--you actually get bluebirds? I rarely see them. It's funny to see way different birds consume the seed. The chickadees take one seed at a time into the trees, the cardinals sit there methodically cracking and consuming, the blue jays shamelessly gomp down beakfulls.

We just resumed our birdfeeding ways after waiting for the family of marsh hawks to vacate. I didn't want our feeder to become a buffet for the hawks.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 9, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

A strange combination of real cold weather (-13C or so) and heavy snow this morning made the commute a slow crawl.
VintageLady, keep the food coming for the birds, they need it during those dark months. I installed a second suet feeder last weekend because the first one was too busy. The little birds were being evicted by the larger hairy woodpeckers and blue jays.
I'll keep an eye on those dastardly Canadians too.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Are we dastards? That word brings a cartoon character to mind, but I can't put my finger on which one.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

The New York Times did a story late yesterday afternoon on the REAL Obama Ball...hosted by Hui Moku’aina O Hawai’i Ma Wakinekona, Moku’aina O Kolumepia, and featuring Eddie Kamae and Raiatea Helm, and the Aunty Genoa Ohana Ensemble...

Posted by: laloomis | December 9, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Hawks don't kill more than they will consume slyness. If a Northern shriek or sharp-shinned hawk picks up a bird at the feeders I think of it as a meta-birdfeeder. I saw it happening twice, both times it was a male cardinal that got hit. The shriek hit on the cardinal made a nice puff of red feathers...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

SCC Cripes: shrike, twice.

I don't know where I got that shriek.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Social change
has a natural rhythm.
The season of prosperity
gives way
to the season of economic scarcity,
out of the winter of recession,
new growth
has room to emerge.

A stimulus package
may be necessary,
unless designed with care,
its main effect will be
to prop up
the drying husks of the fall.

David Brooks, at today's NYT, about how Obama's stimulus package lacks creativity and novelty...

Posted by: laloomis | December 9, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

See, my Clever Scheme is that I am 'sposed to sneak into Canada and then spend Government Money to wine and dine various female-type Canadians. Maybe take 'em out dancing or bar-hopping or something in the hopes that they will yield Valuable Information. And if they do not, well, that's just the chance I will have to take.

So far, though, this idea isn't getting much traction.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 9, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Highly cost-effective strategy, RD. Us Canadian broads figure you've shown us a real good time if you buy us a smoked meat sandwich and a beer.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, no chance of getting an American Mata Hari type across the Northern Border?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

There's a headline on related to the Big 3 auto execs titled "Retool at the Top." Does that mean that the Executive Search Committee is looking to replace these tools?

Posted by: Raysmom | December 9, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Raysmom, bluebirds! Our neighborhood is a bluebird nesting trail, we all have our boxes for them. Ours is on a pole, in an open area in the back, at the edge of our little patch of woods. In the Spring, before the hatchlings fledge, I would take mealworms to the box once or twice a day to help out the parents with their MAJOR task of filling up those little beaks, open so wide. Well, I noticed that the adults began to help themselves to our feeder. I had been told that they did not/could not eat commercially grown seed and depended upon berries and such for their survival. It seems that that is misinformation. I use the hulled sunflower seeds in the feeder, and they easily are able eat it. It's interesting to see how cooperative this community of birds are at this time of the year, when their survival depends upon it.

We have a few hawks, they like to stalk the chipmunks & squirrels.

The squirrels are in for a hard winter here. The oaks did not have much in the way of acorns, so the squirrels are eating whatever they can find.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 9, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Dick Dastardly and Muttley were whacky racers that frequently tormented Penelope Pitstop. He later formed the Catch That Pigeon Squadron.

///cue annoying Saturday morning cartoon theme song tune cootie

Catch that pigeon
Catch that pigeon
Catch that pigeon..

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

No offense, Canuckis -- but why couldn't the Cancunians or the St. Maartenians or the St. Kittkats or the Bahamaniacs plot to invade us? Padouk, you're heading for the wrong border. If we're gonna be invaded, let be by somebody with nice warm beaches and swim-up bars.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 9, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

good morning boodle!

Mudge-Thanks for the heads up on the Milbank column. In the spirit of building bridges to somewhere I will not forward it to Pa Frost-in-law. Mr. F has given up on getting Pa to check snopes, factcheck, or politifact himself but finds that sending a quick summary of their results does hold the tin-foil brigade at bay.

If I were going to infiltrate Canada I think I'd head south toward Toronto this morning where it's a balmy 36F. We are at 2F, up from -2 and headed to a high of 7. I hate days with single digit high temps.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 9, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

You imply, 'mudge, that bikinis and romantic beaches are more alluring than parkas and longjohns and snow banks. What can you be thinking?

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

That "Obama isn't a natural-born citizen" thing came up in a phone conversation with one of my dearest friends. She insisted that, when Obama was born, Hawaii wasn't a state. I replied that, gee, I thought it became a state in 1959, and I *know* Obama is less than 50 years old. Ahem. Silence. Subject change. Thing is, she's normally a very logical person--she just doesn't seem to want to deploy that logic when the tin-foil hat crowd stars spouting nonsense.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 9, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

By that logic, McCain who was born in the Panama Canal Zone wouldn't be a natural born citizen either. There is no internal logic to this tin-foil hat conspiracy.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 9, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom-good one at 9:19.

I think the Obama is not a citizen movement depends on the assertion that his mother traveled to Africa and he was actually born there. Then because she had not resided in the US for 5 years after her 18th birthday at the time of the birth he is not a citizen. Or as yello so simply stated, "There is no internal logic..."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 9, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

If you live in a red county, you might want to stock up on foil for your holiday needs before everyone hears this:

CHICAGO - The governor of Illinois is behind bars after being arrested on corruption charges.

Federal authorities say the charges stem from his selection of the successor to President-elect Barack Obama's senate seat. They accuse Blagojevich of trying to benefit financially from the appointment.

Authorities also say the governor threatened to withhold state money to the Tribune Co. in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to force the firing of editorial board members who have been critical of him.

Blagojevich also is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 9, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, we have to adress one thing if we sneak in by the Osoyoos/ Cascade route.

How are we going to carry the wine?

Posted by: --dr-- | December 9, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Yikes! Thank God President-Elect Obama has the sense not to get involved in corrupt politics in Illinois.

Does the lieutenant governor take charge now? Is there one?

Posted by: slyness | December 9, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

NYT has a (rather poorly written) article about amateur writers, which is not worth a link, but does end in the following two paragraphs:

"There was a time when I wanted to be like Sting, the singer, belting out, “Roxanne ...” I guess that’s why we have karaoke, for fantasy night. If only there was such a thing for failed plumbers, politicians or celebrities who think they can write.

"[I]Maureen Dowd is off today.[i]"

Posted by: Nebreklaw01 | December 9, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

This will out me for reading other blogs, but I check in with the Fayetteville (NC) Observer to see how things are spinning around Ft. Bragg. Love the one line entry about Gov. Blagojevich-

"Hear that? that’s the sound of human waste colliding with a mechanical device designed to produce airflow."

"Hear that?" is linked to this AP story

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 9, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem, Raysmom, is finding the Right Tools for those Big 3 jobs.

I believe they're there, but someone's going to have to do a lot of digging around in the Corporate Toolboxes to find 'em.

Can't help but be amused that the Conservative Action Network (CAN) has been lighting up the telegraph wires and Red Emergency Phones with this "citizenship" question in an attempt to prevent Obama's inaugration. The only person I heard actually promulgate this nonsense had also suggested to me that Obama was a Muslim.

Clearly, this person mistook me for someone who cared.

Ok, here's one - what cr@ap will come out of the CAN next? Obama is actually a Vulcan or a blood-drinking Vampire or the Anti-Christ himself? [I'm sure someone's selectively poring over the various Bibles, Holy Texts and historical documents looking for words or sentences to pluck and assemble out of context as a decoupage of "facts" to support their theories, even as I write this]


Posted by: -bc- | December 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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

What's up, friends. Mudge, be still my heart, we're talking cake this morning. Sounds delicious.

And the Panthers won their game last night in fine fashion. Is it safe to hope?

Slyness, Yoki, Martooni(love the creativity this morning)Scotty, and all, good morning.*waving*

Is anyone working on the problem in Chicago with the workers that are sitting out in the plant? I certainly hope so. You know it's little things that start big stuff. And I'm not saying losing their jobs is a minor thing, but it seems this has the potential to spread because a lot of people have lost their jobs. I don't know who the media person is for Bank of America, but they need to find another one. People don't want to hear denial, they want to hear, we're working on it. And where are the people that own this factory? The word anarchy comes to mind, and that's a lousy word, and an even worse scenario. Can we hold out for the next thirty days?

And now the governor of Illnois? I was thinking that when he made that statement about not doing business with Bank of America, perhaps that was not a good thing to say in public?

Time to walk. I'm late this morning. I'm going to stop by the doctor's office and try to discuss this medication I'm suppose to be taking. It comes with a dire warning, death.

Have a good day, folks. Try to stay warm, if possible.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Morning All
Finally back home in west by god after a very nice vacation.Cold here today,also in the house last night,but it has warmed up in here thankfully.

I'm in and all for the Canadian invasion,I'm sure the Canadian boodle babes would feed us well.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 9, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tip, Nebreklaw01.

I had been looking for that announcement.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | December 9, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I noticed that bit about the Illinois Governor a little while ago.

Here's some pertient info from the Complaint filed by the FBI:

"The evidence demonstrates that the corrupt conduct undertaken included but was not limited to the following:

a. Defendant ROD BLAGOJEVICH and at times defendant JOHN HARRIS, together with others, obtained and attempted to obtain financial benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, members of the Blagojevich family, and third parties including Friends of
Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state
employment, state contracts, and access to state funds;

b. Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with others, offered to, and threatened to withhold from, the Tribune Company substantial state
financial assistance in connection with Wrigley Field, which assistance ROD
BLAGOJEVICH believed to be worth at least $100 million to the Tribune Company, for the private purpose of inducing the controlling shareholder of the Tribune Company to fire members of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper owned by the Tribune Company, who were responsible for editorials critical of ROD BLAGOJEVICH;

c. Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with others, attempted to use ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s authority to appoint a United States Senator for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, including, among other things, appointment as Secretary of Health & Human Services in the President-elect’s
administration, and alternatively, a lucrative job which they schemed to induce a union to provide to ROD BLAGOJEVICH in exchange for appointing as senator an individual whom Minimization procedures were implemented during the interception of conversations at the Friends of Blagojevich offices and over phones."

Not good.

Also, I'm sure that this has nothing to do with the Tribune Companies filing for bankruptcy protection yesterday...


Posted by: -bc- | December 9, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

bc-Snopes already addressed the Obama as Anti-Christ question. (false)

Cassandra-I imagine Blagojevich, who has been under investigation for at least 6 months, will say he was not extorting companies for state business, but merely setting a standard of conduct if they want to keep state business. He can point to his statements in public about Bank of America, and then argue that his wiretapped comments may have been coarser but were done with the good of the people of Illinois in mind, not personal gain. Who knows?

I often wonder how well the reputation of Chicago politics coincides with reality.

In other political news-our fair city is poised to appoint my neighbor across the river to city council who has agreed to accept. He will fill a seat that some have started to consider the "newcomer" slot. Newcomer is a relative concept, he's lived here 10 years. His predecessor grew up 40 miles away and moved here about 15 years ago. Someday people are going to realize I wasn't born here and Ma Frostbitten just moved back for my preschool years Frostdaddy spent in Korea and Vietnam to lay the groundwork for my future political career.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 9, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, regarding the romantic allure of parkas, longjohns and snow banks:

There is the urban myth/sterotype about the allure of making love atop a bearskin rug in front of a blazing fire, but I don't know about that one.

(Note to self: why are urban myths "urban"? Most of them turn out to be suburban or even rural in setting, like picking up the hitchhiking cheerleader who leaves her sweater in the car, and she's been dead for 10 years. Shouldn't there by "rural myths"?)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 9, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

SCC: urban legend

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 9, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Giant, oversized, marvelous Christmas picture on the front of our Metro section today. A young man, a soldier, thrusting, ramming, and twisting a bayonet into the naked torso of a human form. It's a rear- angle shot of the bald, bruised and scraped, bare bayonetee, which shields the face and chest of the human pin cushion as well as the bayonet tip from viewers.

The young man is Air Force Airman Richard Rasmussen and the human form is a mannequin. A ring of bystanders look on- a smart blazer and bloody red tie, baggy jeans, military uniforms, perhaps a woman's form in pants, legs slightly bowed--their upper bodies and expressions cropped mid-waist or mid-chest from the photo, not visible. A tripod-mounted camera sits on the ground, in front of one of the onlookers.

The thrust strike captured by photographer Edward Ornela is part of the new BEAST training at nearby Lackland Air Force Base. Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training.

A smaller accompanying photo shows two Lackland trainees, Airmen Benjamin DeHart and Joshua Loomis. How TRAGIC that the military is turning a Loomis into a beast.

Terrible Reality Affects GI Christmas.

Posted by: laloomis | December 9, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

You made me laugh, Curmudgeon. Even to me, the rug/fire combo sounds better than snow banks.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if it is worth pointing out (no pun intended) that the military has been teaching bayonet skills for about 360 years, more or less (the earliest known bayonet dates to 1647, in France, and the British had them in the attack on Tangier in 1663).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 9, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Don't worry about the wine, dr. We'll have proper supply lines. One of the first principles, surely?

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Thrust, Develop, Gorge

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 9, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The bearskin rug is a bit of a Republican fantasy, methink. After a hard day of snowmobiling or shooting wolves from a chopper in a National Park it's feels pretty good to take off the concealed weapons, have a nice roasted California condor and "relax" on the polar bear rug.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse


Just so, greenwithenvy.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 9, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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