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Ultra-Megapixel Inauguration Photo

I posted some linky bits this morning to the Political Browser. The ultra-super-duper megapixel photo of the inauguration is a great way to waste time (though not as good as playing in the snow). Cheney looks like he's auditioning for the next Austin Powers movie, Bush is fidgeting with something, Clarence Thomas is asleep. The still photogs on the platform look like characters from Ice Station Zebra. I'm cold just looking at this photo. (If you look way to the right you can see me in the comfort of the newsroom at 15th and L.)


How did Politico swing this deal with Starbucks? I'm jealous. I've given Starbucks so much free pub!

And I'm pretty sure my friend Mike Allen doesn't need any more coffee.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 27, 2009; 9:11 AM ET
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Next: John Updike


Ahoyhoy! Nice pix. Lots for me to photoshop.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse


If you can do a mail merge sort of thing to include their name, I'd say that's better than "Dear Citizen." And I'd appeal to their civic-mindedness in terms of "help your community maintain its skilled workforce" and such.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Cool pix, Joel.

Frosti, you're over-thinking it. Go ahead and be personal. The world doesn't need any more anonymous form letters, wouldn't you agree.

Don't refer to it as "charity"; just tell them what the program is and why it's good for them (saving money, saving energy, etc.).

Just don't forget and sign it with your Boodle name.

Somebody wake up TBG. This lollygagging about (pronounced "aboot") has gone on long enough. Surely there's a golf outing flyer that needs her attention? And what about lunch?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I urgently need to call this site to your attentions (esp. Wilbrod, Yoki, CP, and other pomey persons of distinction):

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow. This image has brought work in my little corner of the lab to a standstill.

The way this was done, I have been informed by usually-reliable sources, is that a robotic device pans a standard high-res digital camera and then creates a seamless mosaic of multiple smaller images. Pretty slick, although, on some level, a wee bit alarming.

(Also, there is a consensus that Michelle's knees look chilly)

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Waay kewl! I don't know how to photoshop, but I could play with this one for hours.

Trying to identify everybody on the stage could be a parlor games for the ages.

Frosti, to respond to your query in the last kit: I would skip a salutation and just get into the meat of the letter. Or, you could do it memo-style, addressed to all residents. And I'd stress the part about providing work for the construction folks. "We have received a grant that must be used to provide shelter upgrades for residents of our fair town. The purpose of the grant is to provide opportunities for work for locals who otherwise will have none during this tough winter. Therefore, I request that you identify projects around your home and let us know what they are, so that we may match them with the workers who can do them." Does something along those lines work?

Posted by: slyness | January 27, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

What a wonderful time-suck. While Justice Thomas surely does look to be napping, check out the bored expression on Justice Scalia. And there is Yo-Yo Ma with his camera, a common theme. Heck, you can almost read the musical scores used by the Marine band. And the secret knobs on Cheney are almost visible!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Well, RD, Michelle could have accepted one of those blue blankets that must have been distributed to the stage-sitters. I guess she didn't feel the need of it.

Lots of people do look shivery. I say that more of them should have worn hats (though the ski caps do look a little odd on stage). But speaking of hats, Cheney's really does complete the look. Truly frightening.

Posted by: -bia- | January 27, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

101: Soft peddle?

The cam tech is by "Gigpan"

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I just found Waldo!!!!!

Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure just clicking on that mega-picture link would draw more attention from the IT bandwidth monitors than I usually care to endure.

You always have the best early morning links. I just like to give credit where credit is due. The problem with coming up with highly lucrative blog topics is that all the low hanging fruit such as rabidly partisan politics/macking of celebrities/pictures of pets saying adorably grammatically incorrect things/combo humor-science-politics-joys of porch sitting/etc. have all been taken.

Let's just say that after a year and a half I have yet to see any highly-caffeinated over-priced milkshakes come my way as a result of my devotion to Maureen Dowd.

I do have a secret business plan for No Duh News but if I told you it, you'd just steal it for yourself. Hint: It includes begging strangers for charity.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

And Ruth Marcus definitely does not get it.

Which does give me another no-lose business idea: a Clueless WaPo Columnist Inflatable Doll called Ruth Makes-It-Up. Think she'd mind?

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The power of this imagery approach is that no more pixels are delivered to your browser than any other website. It isn't pushing a billion bits. As you zoom in, the browser is simply updating itself from a remote database. This means there is no more bandwidth needed than browsing through wikipedia.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Did you really, RT? Can you point him out to the rest of us?

I sent the link to a friend whose son was in the crowd, with a challenge to find him. Hehehe

Posted by: slyness | January 27, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

jkt, agreed on Marcus!

Just read it after you posted. There is some sort of DC case building that first starts with the blurring of the reality ... not quite a straw dog attack, but, in reality, if you saw the toys, you would be left with the clear impression of the intent. Forget the reality and then it is easy to suggest otherwise.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Check out Newt in the front row of the section just to the left of the red entranceway. What's that all about?

One more techy note. Because the robotic scan is, of course, not instantaneous, there is a time differential between where the scan starts and where it ends. This means that if, say, the scan started with Obama, by the time it gets to say, that cute Asian girl in the blue jacket, a few minutes may have passed. So we are not looking, technically, at a snapshot in time.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

yellojkt, the answers are obvious to me - hire Scottynuke to do your Early Morning No Duh RoundDuhp.

I like the idea of having people pay money for the obvious. Sometimes I think that a lot of what doctors and lawyers do is simply state the Obvious, but since I'm neither, I could be wrong. Obviously.

Love that image. Look, you can see me standing right next to Zelig.

Speaking of the obvious, and I'm sure it was covered yesterday, but does anyone think that this new subpoena to get Rove to testify at a Congressional hearing is going to be any more productive than the previous subpoenas of Rove, Meiers, Gonzales, etc. (which amounted to nothing but Strong Words, weak fist shaking and more discussion of Executive Privilage, IIRC)?


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse


where you would expect to find him... right behind Holder, looking real casual, like.

RD, yes, I found a man with two heads (can't relocate...) and also found a man with a floating hand, just like from the movie, sitting on the bill of his cap.


Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

RD_P, if we're talking about a high-speed digital storage medium and a decent pan speed, it could be a rather small time differential. Particularly if the images were taken vertically.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, the woman who wrote the "soft-peddle" article you linked, Merrill Perlman of the NYT, is a regular guest lecturer at the ACES copy editing convention I go to every other year. I've heard her two or three times. She's quite good.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The man with the extra "gloved hand" is right next to the globe light on the walk way, to the left from the audience view from the speaker and above the bunting. The "hand" man is looking away from the slightly large crowd.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-you cut me to the quick
"Don't refer to it as "charity";" Of course I wouldn't refer to it that way, and don't see it that way either. However, "Just don't forget and sign it with your Boodle name." is most excellent advice, and unfortunately a true concern. Thanks.

Thanks Slyness and s'nuke for your ideas too.

That photo is truly a time sucker. Now that I've dragged myself away, must not click again.

Keep the letter suggestions coming. If we have a good turn out at the forum I just might have to boodle source more of my mayoral duties.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 27, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Sure Scottynuke. It all depends on how fast the camera is. I have no idea how long this shot took, but I have seen pics of buildings and landscapes that have taken up to 10 minutes to create.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Who's the white-bearded guy wearing a leafy garland, to the rear of the Supreme Court and in front of a guy wearing particularly dumb-looking white baseball cap that says SAM?

At least Cheney is wearing a sensible hat (modestly dark, not a ten-gallon model). To think that he was once my bright young Congressman.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 27, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I sit corrected. The pan obviously wasn't that fast, given the multiple images of the AP photographer's heavy-duty cannon (pardon the pub) on the extreme left.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

You can pardon the pub or the pun, your choice.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

'Hire' is a word I really don't want associated with my media empire. There are certain connotations it implies that I find distasteful. 'Volunteer', 'contribute', and 'shill' are much more in line with the Web 2.5.c model I am building.

Also, one would think the new Justice Department might be a little more amenable to pursuing contempt of Congress charges than the previous set of lackeys and buffoons.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

i'm baaaaaaaaaackkkkkkkk

thanks a LOT joel - now i'm not gonna get anything done today!

hey - is that mudge sitting next to grandma bush in the brown hat and sunglasses?


Posted by: mortii | January 27, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse


Eugene Robinson seems to be saying that because the governor did not consumate the deal, then the governor is only guilty of talking about said deal. Is that what you get? I don't know. It seems to me that the governor had intentions of doing exactly what he was talking about, although I don't know the law on that, and anything else for that matter. The governor is a character, I grant you that. I agree with Robinson's assessment of him being in the wrong occupation. The governor seemed in his element doing the talk show thing. Yet I'll stick with my original comment concerning the governor, found in the last kit.

And would someone please tell me why Rush thinks President Obama is afraid of him? I can't figure that one out.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 27, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

No, mo. That's *me* in the brown hat and sunglasses.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

i's just kiddin mudge!!! :)


Posted by: mortii | January 27, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, mo. We've been keeping your seat warm. Or at least the Costco-sized barrels of Boston baked beans have.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

mo! *appropriate "Wall-E" sorts of motions*


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! That is truly an amazing picture. I hope to get the Boy involved in it here soon. We are having a slow morning here, thanks to the cowardice of the local school system. I brought work home yesterday, so Ivansdad is the only person who had to get out this morning.

frostbitten, a letter is a great idea. I'd go with the personal salutation, supporting local business and keeping local jobs, no cost to the recipient. I like the federal grant aspect, as outlined by slyness, but you know your constituency. Would they be more or less likely to participate if they thought it was a gummint program? Tying it to local jobs might take away any idea that it is just a handout.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I was umbraged at the dolls myself, I certainly saw Mrs. Obama's point, I know she's doing a fine job raising her children. I was prepared to really disagree with Ruth Marcus.

But I really didn't (except for thinking she overexaggerated the high profile of the children by the Obamas). She made an excellent point.

Maybe it's because I've tutored 2 little African-American girls who had that exact reaction, who didn't want the black Barbie for Christmas, they wanted one of the "beautiful" ones. The fact that I thought the black one was beautiful didn't matter. They didn't.

The Obama girls aren't mine, I have no say. But given all the validation this presidency is giving adults, it seems little girls could use some too. Maybe the toy company could admit their intent ($) and donate a certain amount to a worthy charity.

Posted by: -dbG- | January 27, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Push the enviroment angle, I've heard there's a lot of it in Minn.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 27, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

He was soliciting money for political favors. That's crime enough, Cassandra.

It's like with streetwalkers. Solicition is enough; you don't actually have to do the deed to get arrested.

Rush is a ratings pros*te.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 27, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Jeeper's Joel, don't get jealous. I mean, it's not like Politico is getting anything really valuable from the deal like, you know, the coffee free or anything.

And, as always, I enjoy these little jittery strolls down memory lane. Favorite part of that piece, both then and now, was the name "Flo."

That's the problem with the modern world. Not enough ladies named Flo.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Howdy mo!!!

I understand Ruth Marcus's point that black girls need to believe black dolls are the "good" dolls. I agree that, by sheer example, the Obama girls may help other girls believe that they, too, are beautiful. Seeing the girls play with black dolls, themselves, may be the best example. Even given all this, I take exception to the use of the Obama girls' likenesses, themselves - particularly since this was done without the family's permission or participation. Since the Boy was an infant we have made pointed reference to for-profit marketing thinly disguised as entertainment or good works. To me, these dolls fall into that category.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

There were too many "themselves" in that paragraph.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

good morning all
Greetings from wild wonderful winter wonderland west by god.About 3 inches of white stuff,but a momentary break in the action for now.Changed my wiper blades and one would have thunk I was doing rocket science,but they are done and now i will be able to see as I am "skating away on the thin ice of a new day"

hey Mo whatcha know?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 27, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't disagree with you, Ivansmom. And the toy company's explanation that it was just the names which were used, not likenesses, yeah, yeah, ka-ching!

But what do you do with it at this point? Sue them and start over? I don't know if there's an opportunity to make lemonade or not.

Posted by: -dbG- | January 27, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Who let the guy in with the Packers cap. Obama is going to give Green Bay to the Canadians (And maybe the twin cities too). Then it will only be Detroit and Chicago in the Central Division. You know what that means; Bears, Central Division Champs!

Posted by: Czarathustra | January 27, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

We know it's bad out there, but solicitation for extra business is in full swing.

My car's being inspected, they called earlier to see if I wanted to add on front-end alignment ($100. "Does the tire wear indicate that needs to be done?" "Well, no.") and replacing the pollen filter ($80 to help me breathe easier in the car. Um, no, I'm fine).

But my dentist's receptionist just called. They were looking at the records from my last teeth cleaning (September) and there's a tooth they really, really feel should have a filling touched up on for my own benefit. In September, they had a wait and see attitude.

Good thing I have all these people looking after my interests.

Posted by: -dbG- | January 27, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I think they want to polish up your wallet, dbG.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Obi Wan Kenobi getting a seat five rows back from C. Thomas. The message must have been received.

bc, I do spend quite a bit of time stating the obvious. Unfortunately, there appear to be several competing versions of the obvious in circulation. I'm doing my bit to stamp them out.

Posted by: engelmann | January 27, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

dbG - you seem stressed. Have you considered an office-chair massage? Really, I hear they are on sale.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

This is about as close to an RIP send-off for a novel series as one can get. RIP Kay Scarpetta.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking a dippy-but-required on-line course in Environmental Management and listening to the Alexander Nevsky Suite. Life can be weird and sorta ominous sometimes (with a chanting Russian chorus). We are told that greenhouse gases "impact" (adversely affect) air quality. Not at all. Greenhouse gases adversely affect the climate, but may even improve the air quality, by killing off all of us polluters. However, the course was designed and approved during the Bush Administration, if you get my drift. Coded language required, if you want to talk about real science.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 27, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Good idea, RD. I understand it's all just to help *me* out! No wallet left, Mudge, if only they knew.

At least when the plumber was here fixing the heat, a short visit, he didn't suggest any additional work. My guess is he has all the work he can handle, anyway.

Posted by: -dbG- | January 27, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

engelmann, me too! Funny how they didn't explain that part in law school. I have amused my students this semester by saying, after discussing a case, "Will this case help you understand what the Court will rule on this issue next time? No." Don't want to give them too much reality at once, though.

I thought our precipitation was done but we have had sleet all morning. Ivansdad made it back safely and reported things aren't terrible (from our perspective) but there's really no reason to go out.

Since toddlerhood the Boy has used my giant stainless steel mixing bowl as a sled. Finally, this year, it doesn't quite work - he can still sit in it, but his center of gravity isn't right. Ah, milestones. However, sitting in the bowl atop a large piece of cardboard works wonders down our sloping concrete ice-covered driveway.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, one does not countenance the use of "impact" as a verb. One does not. One hopes it dies with the Buish Administration. One truly do.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

RD, I commend you on your brave and selfless act in using the words "ladies" and "Flo" in the same sentence without referencing The Aunt or her periodic visits.

I'm gettin' out of the way, and I'll be over here - waaaay over here - if you need me.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

University of Maryland and University of Michigan physicists have "teleported" a quantum state directly from one atom to another over a "long" distance of one meter.

Paging BC and RD and SciTim for the shock and awe plus applications here. Somehow, teleportation means that information appears where it was not previously note, and does not leave trace of a physical path.

Details in the Jan. 23 issue of the journal Science. Here is the abstract:

Quantum Teleportation Between Distant Matter Qubits
S. Olmschenk,1* D. N. Matsukevich,1 P. Maunz,1 D. Hayes,1 L.-M. Duan,2 C. Monroe1
Quantum teleportation is the faithful transfer of quantum states between systems, relying on the prior establishment of entanglement and using only classical communication during the transmission. We report teleportation of quantum information between atomic quantum memories separated by about 1 meter. A quantum bit stored in a single trapped ytterbium ion (Yb+) is teleported to a second Yb+ atom with an average fidelity of 90% over a replete set of states. The teleportation protocol is based on the heralded entanglement of the atoms through interference and detection of photons emitted from each atom and guided through optical fibers. This scheme may be used for scalable quantum computation and quantum communication.

1 Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and Department of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
2 FOCUS Center and Department of Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 27, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

DaveOTC asked:
"Who's the white-bearded guy wearing a leafy garland, to the rear of the Supreme Court and in front of a guy wearing particularly dumb-looking white baseball cap that says SAM?"
I don't know who he is, but he must be Hawaiian royalty; that looks like a maile lei that he is wearing.

Posted by: nellie4 | January 27, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

CquaP, if they're teleporting qubits, they must be planning to teleport an Ark eventually, no?

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

greenwithenvy - what i DO know is changing wiper blades has BECOME the new rocket science... i mean, i'm a computer person - i can take one apart and put it together w/out too many extra spare parts and it works but get me around wiper blades and 2 hours later i've finally replaced them after many four letter words and a broken clip or two...

Posted by: mortii | January 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I tried teleporting a couple of times, CP, but could never get a dial tone. I finally called Verizon and they told me it was an extra $10 a month. So I said screw it.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse


So nice to see you in here - how're ya doin', ma'am?


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

...again with the hugging...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

bc - I wasn't gonna go there..

mo - I just spent a startlingly large amount of money paying someone to replace the entire wiper motor and transmission of my aging Ion.

Part of me thinks I coulda done it myself. But the reality is that if I tried I would end up kneeling in the snow screaming profanities at the ghost of William C. Durant.

CP - the key phrase here is "prior entanglement." These atoms had been previously introduced. I cannot pretend to fully understand the details, but this kind of result doesn't suggest teleportation in the SciFi sense. At least not yet.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

What exactly would be the etiquette for introducing two atoms? And how would we know whether they already knew each other?

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - I think, clearly, a nice spot of tea would be involved.

This is all related to the famous EPR "paradox." Let me refer the interested readers to the following.

Now please, don't shove.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Well Mo, it looks like it is on and working,but we will have to see as I head out.I heard a click when the instructions told me I would hear one,so I am crossing fingers and toes and hitting the road.

Have a great day everyone!!! Throw a snowball,make a snowman, and enjoy all this beauty.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Dave - the man with the beard and maile lei is none other than the illustrious Representative from Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie (D). He drives a yellow taxi cab as his personal car when he's in town. We always know when he's home.

And, what does SAM stand for on that guy's hat?

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

RD, don't you love the words:


heralded entanglement

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 27, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Shame, shame on me for not recognizing a lei!

NPR just reported that John Updike's publisher announced that he had died. I can't find any confirmation.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 27, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim,
I'm starting on David Archer's short book, "The long thaw: how humans are changing the next 100,000 years of earth's climate".

A model of clarity in a world of murk.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 27, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Updike's death by lung cancer is announced in Breaking News on the front page of the Post.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | January 27, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

CP, I was aware that there had been successful quantum teleportation experiments over long distances with photons (I think something like a 1/2 mile or so) and even some interesting short-distance quantum atomic qbit teleportation experiments a few years ago. If I read this right, this one sounds like they're getting it closer to making it into a useful tool/process for computing and communications.

Quantum entanglement's pretty interesting - and might explain a few things, when you think about it.

The Universe (that Higgs Ocean of Information born on the Wirey Fuzzy Waves of Reality) just *might* be that one big holographic computer_some_ physicists (theoretical and experimental) claim it to be.

Hopefully, it's not running Vista.
The End might not be a Big Crunch, or the Wimper of a Long Cold Descent into Heat Death, but that famous Blue Screen.

And the Beginning may not have been a Big Bang, but a Big Boot (or ReBoot).

Hit the power button with a finger, and watch what happens.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Mo, how you doing?

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 27, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Rabbit is gone.

So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Awwww, man, Updike. No. Say it ain't so. I love the early Updike stuff, read it over and over again. Three of my all-time world-class bestest short stories favs are Updike's.

Crap. Now I'm gonna be sad all day.

He was from Shillington, Pa., not too far from where I grew up.


Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Born in Reading, Pa., though.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

RD, I'll agree that these quantum entanglement experiments aren't really teleportation of matter in the Star Trek sense, but a supra-luminal transmission of information to a pre-arranged receptor.

Which is pretty cool in itself, but nothing for those of us with red shirts to get worried about quite yet.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Ack! I have reread the Maples stories dozens of times over the years, and my admiration continually grows. This is a loss.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Lung cancer.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Bill Gates as the Supreme Programmer???


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Updike is on my list of stuff to read. As we discussed long ago, I didn't much care for the one "Rabbit" book I read, but I understand that his early stuff might be more to my liking.

Speaking of books, I have started reading some stuff written by Max Beerbohm after seeing his name recommended by Dirda.

This Beerbohm guy is pretty gosh darn clever.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

My father grew up in Reading and my grandparents later moved to a nice little Tudor in West Reading, just up Museum Road from Shillington. Of course I read Rabbit in high school.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 27, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I just Googled Updike's "Maples" stories and have added them to my list of things to read before I die.

The list is getting quite long. I really should exercise more.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Updike's gone?



Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Updike's Wikipedia page already has been updated.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 27, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

With some embarrassment, I must point out that I was 26 before I learned that the city "Reading" was pronounces "Redding."

I hope to one day live down the shame.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I still run into words that I have only read and been pronouncing wrong in my mind, RD, and I'm ancient. It always makes me laugh.

It also reminds me how few words, compared to the English wordstore, we actually use in conversation every day. This is a good thing, otherwise we'd all sound like a Victorian novel, and nothing would ever get done.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Sad to hear about Updike. Only 76 years old.

Posted by: -pj- | January 27, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm posting some silliness temporarily on my blog; most will be amused.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I know, I know RD Padouk and Yoki. And they say French pronounciation is capricious. sheesh

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 27, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Compared to English, French is a model of consistency!

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I was sad to read of Updike's passing. Man, we have really been on a long chain of the death of those in renown lately. I remember reading some of his early work just past publication, but I haven't read his later stuff. The list of books to read keeps growing.

Well, call me chicken (um, well, you know what I mean), but I've decided to cancel showing up at a cocktail thing downtown for former Board members of a charitable organization downtown. I was really looking forward to it, but I hesitate because of the weather. Besides, driving in the dark nowadays isn't my favorite thing to do (although I continue doing it) -- and driving in bad weather only compounds it all. Alas. . .

Updike was indeed a very good writer. There aren't that many. When I was re-reading the Karla Trilogy by Le Carre during the summer, I recall reading one sentence in "The Honourable Schoolboy" which absolutely blew me off the sofa. It was the most exquisitely created sentence in the English language I've ever, ever read. It almost caused me to burst into tears it was so gorgeous. Now, if a mere sentence can send me into a swoon, it also highlights the utter lack of writing skills on the whole nowadays. Language and writing is/are the most important tools in our toolbelts - the sharpest weapons in our arsenal - and those who live in dictatorships know it keenly. It was fascinating to read that China censored part of Obama's inaugural speech -- that says it all.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm never ashamed to mispronounce a word I have only encountered in reading. Because a) it means I do read, and b) it reflects more on the company I keep than it does on me, and c) that embarrassment is because I just met someone who can teach me something. Which is a good thing.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

SCC (oops! dang!) Alerting the department of redundancy department: "downtown" should appear only once. But, of course, you know that. . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 27, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, try "Pigeon Feathers" (short stories), "Of the Farm," "The Poorhouse Fair," "The Olinger Stories" (Olinger was his name for Shillington), "The Same Door," and "A & P" (the title short story, "A & P," is one of my three all-timers).

The Maples stories are in "Too Far to Go."

For football fans, the finest football story ever written is "In Football Season." And it's only about three pages long (and about high school football in that southeastern section of Pennsylvania north of and just beyond the Philly 'burbs, where I grew up).

One of the best (of so many) Updike quotes: "Of plants tomatoes seemed the most human, eager and fragile and prone to rot." (The Witches of Eastwick)

I read "Rabbit, Run" my freshman year. It was mind-blowing, though I can understand why some might not like it. That same year, a friend of mine who was a French major at Dickinson [Yoki: one of the four] wrote her English thesis on Updike's allegorical "The Centaur," and we corresponded back and forth about it for weeks.

I am a writer today because of Updike's short stories, more than any other writer or source or motivation. After I read "A Sense of Shelter," I knew what my life's work would be. That story was about me.

I will never forgive the Nobel committee from not getting to him in time. B@st@rds.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

But, but, ftb! If it is a very elegant cocktail party, you will miss the chance to the use the word "spurge." I beg you to reconsider.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't he win the Nobel?

Posted by: joelache | January 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm also sorry to hear about John Updike. I didn't always enjoy reading his work but I had tremendous respect for it. The man could write.

Scottynuke, I also picked up on those "qubits". I think perhaps these researchers are readying themselves for the Flood. I hope they let collegeparkian on!

Also, I assumed the scientists were just displaying good manners. After all, quantum teleportation sounds somewhat intimate for its subjects. Surely they'd take the basic step of having the atoms previously introduced. Otherwise there might be awkwardness during the trip.

Thank you, RD, for the site about the EPR paradox. I'm reading a sloppy trial with bad appellate briefs. I read the EPR paradox explanation, then returned to my work, and was relieved to realize that although these trial claims are confusing I actually do understand them. This is of course in contrast with the information which you so generously shared.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Picking that travel writer Le Clézio over Michel Tournier say it all Mudge. They are idiots.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 27, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

SCC: 'snarge' of course. Sigh.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

FTB, can you recall or find that sentence? You know what a Karla trilogy fan I am. In The Hon. Sclboy, I just love the opening scenes with Old Craw and all the journalists hanging around Hong Kong, and then the "duck dive."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"Spurge," Yoki? Don't you mean "snarge?" Or did I miss something in the last Boodle?

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 27, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The Sins of Fathers, Take 2... very interesting Joel. Who would have believed it... maybe this explains some people feeling a sense that they've been reincarnated... if you can transmit experience from parent to offspring then perhaps there is some truth to it.

Is this cold driving you all NUTS!!!! I am so sick of winter. When will it end.

Posted by: MissToronto | January 27, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah. Oops. Sorry.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 27, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I already SCCd myself, Tim, no need to rub it in.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

It's a good question, Joel. I'm sure he's been short-listed for a decade -- by everybody but the Nobel Committee. There's a substantial body of opinion that the Nobel Committee wouldn't pick a mainstream white American writer if you held a gun to their heads, and I think I reluctantly agree. The Nobel people haven't made a good pick in a couple of decades. They appear to have an agenda of some sort, and we ain't on it. The list of people they haven't picked is like those lists of people who have inexplicably never won an Oscar or an Emmy.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

[i]Why didn't he win the Nobel? [/i]

Politics. The Nobel Literature Committee HATES Americans and has said as much. I seem to recall a big boodle discussion on this when the awards were announced most recently.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge for those recommendations.

Realize, too, that I read "Rabbit,Run" long ago when I was much younger and less sophisticated.

I'm older now.

The point is, I might appreciate it more now than I did when I was 17.

But let me tackle those early works first.

So many good books.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is, even more bad books.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The thing that stood out in my mind in the teleportation bit was "90% fidelity". Call me fussy, but I'm going to have very high standards for this technology.

Posted by: engelmann | January 27, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention earlier: I think Czarathustra is a fine handle.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 27, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I prefer John Irving to John Updike. Am I hopelessly corrupt and evil?

The Rabbit series just didn't grab me at all, but I'm open to reconsidering Updike with a very specific story recommend.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 27, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Agree, Tim: I thought "Czarathustra" was great, too. We need to track this person down and cultivate her for the Boodle.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I've ever read any Updike.

Mudge, care to recommend some of those early shorts.

Meanwhile am still loving Napoleon's Buttons. Having taken a couple of semesters of Chemistry I spend a good bit of time looking at the Chem diagrams. So far, one third of the way in, I've found one sentence I thought was misleading (someone with no chem background wouldn't see it, and it is for the lay, so I forgive the wording), and two others I think might have been erroneos (haha). But still the Science/History is fascinating to me.

In other book news, Hats off to bc for introduccing me to Joe Haldeman. I couldn't find the books you recommended at the bookstore (used or new), but did pick up a copy of 'The Accidental Time Machine'.

Wow. a real good read. very much looking forward to more of his...thanks a bunch

HEY THERE MORTII. (sorry for the shouting, I'm just so excited to see you...miss you bunches

aw, a hug just for me (wiping a tear from eye...

By the way...does your firm, or anyone you know, need an extraordinary data processor programmer

grammar check malfunction (I think

Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Yoki -- I suspect that there will be events in the future to use the word snarge -- or even spurge (but the timing has to be right). Nah -- I'm much to comfy cozy to go downtown today.

Oh, Mudge, I wish I could remember. It was in the first maybe third of the book and down towards the bottom of the page (in hardback) on the left-hand side. That much I can remember, but the sentence itself escapes me. Something tells me that another 30 years will not pass before I start rereading the Karla trilogy. And as much as I loved Alec Guinness as George Smiley (nobody else could replace him in that role), actually reading the words is much more transporting. Even when you know the ending. It doesn't matter. What complete luxury.

As for the Nobel Committee, it now has (or will have soon) a new Chair. The most recent one, Horace Ekdahl, is following his wife, Ebba Witt-Brattström, to Berlin, where she has taken on a guest professorship. Coincidently enough, when I caved in and took a course in Stockholm to beef up my Swedish, she was the instructor. We kept up contact for awhile, but we lost touch over the years. She is a very strong feminist who broke with the new Feminist Party (political party) in Sweden. Interesting read in the Swedish newspapers at the time. So, that was a bit of a long way of saying that Ekdahl is gone and we don't know if the new Chair is going to be more adventurous or, say, "forgiving" of U.S. writers (for being American, maybe?).

Now I have to do some of my own writing. Cya later.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 27, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

the erroneos SCC entry was accidental and left for the haha humor.

the introduCCing SCC was accidental and not got before submission. am waiting for the joke ...

alright usual suspects, and you know who you are, get working on it right away

Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Pigeon Feathers" was required reading. It revealed that there was such a thing as writing.

Mixed goings-on in Florida. State Farm, denied a big rate increase, is exiting the homeowners insurance business. Home Depot is closing its Expo stores, which were evidently a costly mistake. But house prices may have firmed up, albeit at half their peak in the Port St. Lucie area.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 27, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

omni "Napoleon's Buttons" is a great book. Truly a brilliant piece of writing. Of course, after so many years I don't know a redox from a detox.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

We continue to rejoice in sleet and "winter mix" here; perhaps with slightly less enthusiasm and even a hint of dogged determination, but rejoice we shall. Just as I think we have had all the good atmospheric cheer to which we could possibly be entitled, I hear that steady ping and bounce of ice pellets outside. I begin to worry that such an excess of good fortune may exhaust our electric lines, who are unused to this jollity, and result in a loss of power. As I have mentioned in the past, this is Very Bad, as without electricity we have no water. Please, think sustaining thoughts for us.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the Rabbit series admittedly isn't to everyone's taste, in which case stay away from it and read elsewhere. Updike has a very substantial body of petry as well as a body of criticism and essays that alone make him a major literary figure.

The non-Rabbit novels are all over the lot in subject matter. I never cared much for the "Bech" novels, nor the Eastwicks. I tend to like his earlier stuff than his later, but that's just me.

Just a few months ago I read most of his "Collected Poems, 1953-1993." There's some very good stuff in there, a lot of it "light," like Billy Collins. Unfortunately, "light" and accessible poetry, like Rodney Dangerfield, don't get no respect (but it should).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

RD_P you're making me laugh here. I almost always pronounce things the way they are spelled (a hearing impaired handicap hasn’t helped much here (irony alert

Imagine my embarrassment with lingerie

I used to pronounce the 'c' in miscellaneous (there’s a funny story about this one

But honest to gosh, I've never mispronounced Reading. You must hate me now

Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Tossing and Turning

The spirit has infinite facets, but the body
confiningly few sides.
There is the left,
the right, the back, the belly, and tempting
in-betweens, northeasts and northwests,
that tip the heart and soon pinch circulation
in one or another arm.
Yet we turn each time
with fresh hope, believing that sleep
will visit us here, descending like an angel
down the angle our flesh’s sextant sets,
tilted toward that unreachable star
hung in the night between our eyebrows, whence
dreams and good luck flow.
your ankles. Unclench your philosophy.
This bed was invented by others; know we go
to sleep less to rest than to participate
in the twists of another world.
This churning is our journey.
It ends,
can only end, around a corner
we do not know
we are turning.

John Updike, “Tossing and Turning” from Collected Poems 1953-1993. Copyright © 1993 by John Updike. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 27, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

ooh, I see Mudge anticipated the shorts request...thanks.

With Jumper on the ashamed not...

As for English v French. Most of the problem words in English are of French origin are they not?

Almost everytime I look up a word in the dictionary and remember to look at the pronunciation the words that are pronounced they way they are spelled are not of French origin.

I'm temporarily changing my handle to -BH-

Boodle Hog (sigh

Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

riddle me this:


Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I will agree with you more vociferously when the mourning is but a distant memory.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

omni, maybe the best thing for you would be to get Updike's "The Early Stories, 1953-1975," which collects 102 stories.

Among the very best are:
A & P
A Sense of Shelter
In Football Season
The Happiest I've Been (wonderful ending)
"Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, A Dying Cat, A Traded Car." (A pretty unusual story structure, until the last line ties it all together.)
Pigeon Feathers
Friends From Philadelphia (c'mon, omni, you and I couldn't resist this one)
The Persistence of Desire (great one)
The Kid's Whistling
Ace in the Hole
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth (wonderful)
I Will Not Let Thee Go, Except Thou Bless Me
Giving Blood
Minutes of the Last Meeting
I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying

There are a pretty good handul of Maples stories in this collection, too. I'm kind of ambivalent about some of them; perhaps I was too young [i.e., unmarried] when I first read them. I think one has to have been married to get a few of the Updike stories, like some of the Maples stuff.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

There are dark clouds and little lightening bolts on the icons of my Firefox weather bar. The sky has been clouded over all morning. Guess we'll be having our own winter mix of rain and wind for the next few days. Mother nature sure must be mad at us or something.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 27, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I too routinely mispronounce words I have only read, but never heard spoken; they may be of any origin. I'm not picky.

I learned German before taking French classes. Initially I had some difficulty. After all, German is pronounced essentially exactly as it looks, and every vowel and consonant is afforded respect. I finally developed a rule of thumb for French which has sttod the test of time: nothing is pronounced as it looks, and there are no ending consonants. I am well aware that neither of these things, strictly speaking, are true. However, this gets me by while some part of my lizard brain remembers how the words are actually said.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

CP - thanks so much for posting that poem!

I have spent more than a few nights feeling that way.

There is, clearly, much to learn about this Updike fellow.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Updike paragraph:

In our kitchen, he would bolt his orange juice (squeezed on one of those ribbed glass sombreros and then poured off through a strainer) and grab a bite of toast (the toaster a simple tin box, a kind of little hut with slit and slanted sides, that rested over a gas burner and browned one side of the bread, in stripes, at a time), and then he would dash, so hurriedly that his necktie flew back over his shoulder, down through our yard, past the grapevines hung with buzzing Japanese-beetle traps, to the yellow brick building, with its tall smokestack and wide playing fields, where he taught.

("My Father on the Verge of Disgrace," in Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, 2000)

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 27, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's one just for you pointy-headed phsyics/astronomy types, called "Cosmic Gall":

Neutrinos, they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids through a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed-you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.

John Updike
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. , 1960

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Ex-Basketball Player
by John Updike

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.

Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge, 'specially for the penny candy counter.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 27, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

CP, what I like about his poetry is that he writes narratives, as we've been discussing from time to time. You know how I am about narratives and story-telling.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 27, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Here's Updike on Ted Williams's last at-bat, originally published in the New Yorker:

I like that "Cosmic Gall" poem, Mudge!

Posted by: -pj- | January 27, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I've written a blog item on Updike that should be posted shortly and I will add some of your comments/Updike selections to it. Thanks!

Posted by: joelache | January 27, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks mudge. I'm off to happy hour margaritas. I'll drink one for the road for anyone driving in this mess (I'm a Metro commuter all the way, but a walker the last block or so, so no one worry about me too much OK


Daphne is a type of spurge (An ornamental evergreen I think, I' sure DaveOfThe Coonties will be able to correct me if I'm wrong

BASH is Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard ... where the remains of the bird are called snarge

really have no clue if either of these riddles have anything to do with the original postings that brought these terms into the Boodle ... but there you have it

Posted by: omnigood | January 27, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

New kit!!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 27, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I remember, years ago, reading an article in the New Yorker about a man golfing in Scotland with a very picturesque and brilliant caddy. The writing was amazing! Imagine my surprise when, at the end of the article, it was signed by John Updike. Who knew that golf mattered?
so much. to him.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | January 27, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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