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Darwin's Big Idea

A question has been nagging at me: Who was the third most important person born Feb. 12, 1809?

We know the top two. One saved the Union and emancipated the slaves, the other figured out the secret of life on Earth. But who's the George Harrison of that day? Or the Ringo?

The other day, George Will wrote: "This Thursday, the 200th anniversary of the births of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, remember that Lincoln mattered more. Without Darwin, other scientists would have discerned natural selection. Indeed, Darwin's friend Alfred Wallace already had. Without Lincoln, the United States probably would have been sundered into at least two nations. Probably into more: Southerners, a fractious tribe, would not have played nicely together in the Confederacy for very long."

One does not quarrel with a writer whose armament includes barbed and lethal words like sundered, fractious and (elsewhere in his column) flinch, seared, slaughter, dislodged, unruly, dented, protoplasm, perfunctory, postulate, fecundity and (multi-pronged) "implacable dialectic of impersonal forces." And Will is correct: Lincoln mattered more because the 1860s were an inflection [!] point, the fate of the Union and of millions of people resting on the shoulders of a single man. But Darwinism, as an idea, is an idea of unrivaled power, as David Brown points out in his story today. Darwin found it, nurtured it, let it loose upon the world. It is not something we ordered up, something we wished upon ourselves necessarily. It's just the truth. Life evolves. And there's grandeur in this view of life.

But no one should doubt that it can be a disturbing idea, because it suggests quite strongly that the universe is not about us.

It strikes me that Darwin's dangerous idea was much bigger, even, than Copernicus's.

Copernicus removed humanity from the center of the universe, but not necessarily from its purpose. Our centrality was not literal anymore, but it could remain figurative. Ultimately, it mattered little where God placed us, so long as we remained his favorites.

I don't think it's arrogant or self-centered to want to be a favored species in the grand scheme of things. And the theological view of humanity strikes me as fundamentally correct in identifying human beings as possessed of something special (if not exactly unique in every regard). No offense to those who place their bets on dolphins, the great apes, elephants and parrots and other marvelous creatures with intelligence of some form or another: For any amount of money, I'll take the human brain and give you the points.

But Darwin introduced to our world clear evidence that the creation of all that biological diversity could have been a hands-off endeavor. Natural selection requires no Selector. Random mutations, demographics, reproductive success, environmental pressures -- these did the trick to create all the flora and fauna from mountaintop to deep sea vent.

If we haven't been selected as the custodians of the planet, nonetheless we find ourselves in the job, having wandered into it. Our charge is the same either way. If anything, we should take it much more seriously, knowing that we probably can't kick our problems upstairs.


My former colleague Rick Weiss has a fine piece today in The Post on what Darwin did and didn't know, and it inspired me to write this blog item. How I miss Rick's great science writing in this newspaper -- he was a huge loss when he went on to new adventures.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 12, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
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I wouldn't count the dolphins out just yet. They can cook, you know...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Now this is what I call a Kit. And this is the best bit, to my mind, "suggests quite strongly that the universe is not about us."

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Universe was all about turtles...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I liked the line ..."we probably can't kick our problems upstairs." Although prayer and a belief in a presence larger than ourselves helps the fallen ones which, of course, are all of us.

God is love. Happy Valentine's Day.

Posted by: Windy3 | February 12, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Great Kit!

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

At first reading I thought Bears had been left out, then it was clear that "Magnificant Creatures" included Bears.

There is a lot of money riding on the Bears. Mine is on Racoons.


Posted by: Lowen1 | February 12, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Boko, I loved your comment at the end of the last Boodle. Those turtles (some First Nations have only one) have been doing good work for a long time!

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Not turtles. God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm not familiar with a lot of the minutiae of Darwinism and general evolution theory. Does anyone know who the first person was who took Darwin's ideas and started trascing backward, and came up with the idea of the origins of life being single-celled animals swimming around that primordial ooze? Was it CD hiz own self?

Whoever it was, it strikes me as a pretty neat piece of reasoning.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Weiss's piece is nice.

I have to confess to never having read "The Origin of Species", nor the earthworm book.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

This webpage, scroll down a bit, contains more than 25 websites -- range of concerns -- that contain the phrase"

"turtles all the way down."

The story about the phrase as it enters cosmology is that at the end of a lecture by Stephen Hawking, an elderly lady approached him.

"Good job, young man, but not quite right. It is turtles, turtles all the way down?"

(my paraphrase)

I read this in Martin Gardner's The Night is Large.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 12, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

But do the Beatles have an inordinant fondness for the Turtles? They both wrote songs about Eleanor/Elinor, yanno.

Coincidence? You decide.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

One of the fascinating things (well, to me at least) about Darwin is that he was convinced of the truth of his theory even though he didn't understand all the details of the mechanism.

That is, he was convinced of the fact of Natural Selection from his observations, but he didn't really understand how genetic information was passed on. The whole notion of discrete genes and the like was unknown to him. And he recognized this. He couldn't explain why various genetic traits (like eye color) didn't just blend together into an undifferentiated gray.

So there was, ironically some would feel, an element of faith in his work. He knew that National Selection occurred. He just didn't know, precisely, how. He trusted that the mechanism would be discovered. And eventually Mendel's work came to light.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The Origin of Species is a wonderful book, DaveoftheCoonties. You won't regret the time spent on it, if you ever find that time.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Mendel's work, by the way, was in existence when Darwin was alive, but it had been ignored. Darwin died ignorant of Mendel. This, to me, is sad.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

RD - you are concerned about all that stuff up in space but isn't space kinda like - you know... really, really big?

and what is it about canadians and the metric system? sheesh!


Posted by: mortii | February 12, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Only one, Yoki? This is almost as embarassing as my Shining House on a Hill/Airstream gaffe.

Darwin vs The Selector. I suspect that this kit is perfect troll bait.
Especially after I put a link up at the Discovery Institute.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Third most famous. I thought that was a fine challenge. Closest I could come in a short period of time is William Travis, of Alamo fame, born in 1809 (but on Aug. 9).

Posted by: engelmann | February 12, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

When in deep snow, plain feet must yield to meter-long snowshoes, Mo.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 12, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Don't want to start a panic.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

One of the truly weird post-Darwin discoveries was that "eucaryotes" (every living thing whose cells have nuclei, mitochondria, and perhaps chloroplasts) are the outcome of an ancient merger. Those mitochondria and chloroplasts are evidently descendents of former free-living organisms that got incorporated into cells.

From that perspective, eucaryotes must have popped up very long after life had. The microbial world is vast, weird, surprising. Maybe even with cousins on (or tucked under the surface of) Mars.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Other 1809ers:

Alfred Lord Tennyson
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Edgar Allen Poe
William Ewart Gladstone

New close match: Felix Mendelssohn (Feb 3, 1809)

Posted by: engelmann | February 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Hi mo! Yes, space is really big. But satellites tend to be clustered together. Thereby hangs the tale.

Mudge - no Darwin didn't go that far. I don't think there is a single undisputed person for the concept of life from a single-celled organism. (But I could be wrong about this. I often am.)

Even today there are lots of competing theories as to how we got going. Up to and including my personal favorite: life hitched a ride from space on an asteroid.

Kinda has a nice symmetry to it. Asteroids brought life. And asteroids could end it.

This theory is called "panspermia" BTW.

Which sounds more naughty than it is.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

And speaking of the scientific method --

Court Rules Autism Not Caused by Childhood Vaccines

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, not sure exactly, but I worked on the third generation of the cosmic soup experiements at the Exo-Biology/Origins of Life lab at NASA-AMEs in the early 80s.

What you asked made me immediately flash on the darling and compelling Faith Hubley movie at the Natural History Museum

Enter Life (sometimes called the dancing CHON movie, for Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen). Alas, this is the only version I find online (tis handheld pirate copy but you may see the charm):

I hope that the film is still playing on continuous loop in that corner of the Museum. For Valentine's day, I would LOVE that video......will have to tell the lovelies that love me.....

Here is the Hubley "The Tender Game" with Ella Fitz and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Other Washingtonians? Isn't this the best film ever, about the spirit and verve of chemicals-into-life evolution?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 12, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if creationists would reject gravity if we fell into monkeys?

Hi Yoki!

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin's birthday was yesterday, so she's out. From the list of people on the master Google birthday entry, I'd have to go with either Cotton Mather or Carl von Reichenbach. Either way, that's a big step down from Lincoln and Darwin.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 12, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I too vote for Darwin over Lincoln, and like you, miss Rick Weiss. That said, the NYT has done a stupendous *series* of stories about Darwin in honor of Darwin Day. The Paleoverde rotating graphic showing a 21st centry Darwinian tree is worth the effort.

I did submit a question yesterday to Gates' chat, only to discover in the afternoon that it was not chosen. I asked Gates which associate of Lincoln--whether professonal or personal, or Cabinet member--had the greatest abolitionist sympathies and thereby most influenced Lincoln.

One has to wonder if the answer to my question is Lincoln's bodyguard, the Scot Allan Pinkerton, and whether or not President Obama shouldn't be in Chicago, rather than Springfield, Ill. today celebrating Pinkerton?

Pinkerton came to the U.S. in 1842, after having felt the effects of the 1837 worldwide economic downturn and having participated in the political foment of the Chartists (People's Charter) whose six-point list of demands included annual parliaments, universal sufferage, vote by secret ballot, abolition of property qualification for members of Paliament, payment for MPs, and equal constituencies.

Stateside, Pinkerton found slavery an abomination (certainly Glasgow, so near to Darwin's Edinburgh, where Darwin first attended university, would have been impacted by the English and Scot abolitionist activities and sentiments while Pinkerton was in Glasgow) that had to be rooted out by any means possible, though he stopped short of the armed rebellion advocated by Brown. That, however, did not stop Pinkerton from clandestinely aiding the activities of the Underground Railroad and assisting [Loomis-descendant] John Brown.

At 4:30 a.m. on March 11, 1859, having traveled slowly from Gannett, Kansas, and arriving in Chicago by boxcar, Brown showed up on Pinkerton's doorstep with two other white men and a dozen slaves (a female slave having given birth the night before). Brown's boots and clothes were worn and tattered, the temperature was well below freezing, and Brown had little money left to help his small band on their way further north. So Pinkerton hiked later that morning to the meeting of the Chicago Judiciary Convention and made the following plea:

Posted by: laloomis | February 12, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Gentlemen, I have one thing to do and I intend to do it in a hurry. John Brown is in this city at the present time with a number of men, women and children. I require aid, and substantial aid I must have. I am ready and willing to leave this meeting if I get this money; if not, I have this to say this. I will bring John Brown to this meeting and if any United States Marshal dare lay a hand on him he must take the consequence. I am determined to do this or have the money."

Within minutes, Pinkerton had collected $600. Pinkerton also gave Brown tremendous support in the 30 days between Brown's sentencing for the raid on Harper's Ferry and his execution. As James MacKay writes in his book about Pinkerton:

In Chicago he [Pinkerton] raised money for the [John Brown's] defense fund, persuaded George McClellan to use his considerable influence, through his Southern Democratic connections, on Brown's behalf to win a stay of execution if not a reprieve, and assiduously wrote letters and sent telegrams to many of the nations leading political figures urging clemecy for the Middle Border fanatic whom he regarded with the reverence due a biblical prophet.

Today, the Washington Post reports in one of its stories that Lincoln and Darwin, born the same day, never met. Perhaps they did meet figuratively in the form of Allan Pinkerton.

Posted by: laloomis | February 12, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Sweet Scottynuke! Way sweet!

But this won't end it, of course. You will still have individuals whose children, through sheer chance, developed autism after inoculation. And if you get enough of them together you can can convince some naive people that, indeed, all beetles are red.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Poor Felix M., always last on everybody's list. And yet his Opus 64 is a masterwork, and as played by Perlman once singlehandedly (metaphorically speaking as it would be hard to play the violin with one hand, though very Zen) got me through a very tough time.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Unless you're a chimp, RD.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, I wasn't restricting myself to the year 1809 and going just by the birthday. In which case, a strong argument can be made for Judy Blume.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 12, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The third person is probably Chinese, and we'll never find the name on Google.

* * *

I heard a story on NPR this morning that was theorizing (in honor of Valentines Day, I guess) that Darwin delayed publication of his big theory to avoid hurting his wife's feelings.

They also rehashed the old "To Marry or Not To Marry" list:

Posted by: kbertocci | February 12, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Then the red beetles are eaten by turtles, thus becoming an evolutionary footnote (red = tasty and thus extinct) but temporarily fueling the movement of the Earth - as well as the cleanup of Space.

Nice Kit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, read the WikiPEE entry on abiogenesis.

The work I participated in concerned clay -- kaolin -- and chirality or handedness in monomers, dimers, and trimers (one, two, and three-part amino acid chains).

The work derived from thinking by these Max Planck people:

Manfred Eigen and Peter Schuster: The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, 1979

I first read Richard Dawkins' ideas in this setting. I liked reading his ideas then, steep in the science of life origins. His avenging, self-satisfied personna now I find to be a blot on how science is conducted in terms of ethos and integrity.

The original primordial soup experiments you are thinking of are called Miller-Urey cycles. The first -- the classic -- was conducted in 1953.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 12, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Soup? Lunchtime already??? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

That Darwin delayed to prevent domestic discord is certainly a popular interpretation, KB. Wifely fury is nothing to sneeze at. Then there is the related notion that he wasn't up to all the general fury his ideas would provoke.

My guess, and that is all it is, is that Darwin delayed because he wasn't completely happy with his theory. He knew it was still incomplete, and hence vulnerable to criticism. (This is, I believe, technically known as the Geithner effect.)

Because Darwin's work *was* incomplete. He just started the ball rolling. Even beyond the unknown mechanics of genetics, evolutionary thinking has, well, evolved.

Many other refinements and special cases of evolution, like punctuated equilibrium and decimation after expansion were far beyond Darwin's thinking. And I suspect that, as an uncommonly clever lad, Darwin knew this and kept hoping that everything would become clear to him.

Of course, few theories are ever complete. That's one of the things that make science so fun.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I like my primordial soup with lots of spicy noodles.

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

And chicken, RD, it couldn't hurt. No turtles in my soup, though - I don't want to offend them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The answer to my question seems to be Oparin and Haldane (thanks for the wiki link, CqP). I am vaguely familiar with the Miller/Urey experiments, which I guess is where I first read about the primordial soup theory, but I didn't think they invented the idea but merely proved its technical feasbility.

I'm also familiar with the Panspermia/astrogensis theory, Padouk, and it has some attraction. But even given that idea, we are still left with a couple of single-cell creatures swimming in primordial soup. They (or their particle constituents) just got here by taxi, that's all, rather than being created in situ.

Sometimes I like to think about what that primordial ocean was like not so much "at the beginning" but a billion or so years later, after those single-cell creatures started evolving into complex multi-celled animals. I bet there was some pretty weird thingamabobs floating around back then (still are, of course).

I wonder what the all-time weirdest animal/lifeform ever created was/is (it might be around today, one has to suppose). And what would be the criteria?

I suppose there's an off-chance, whatever it was, that I myself inadvertently grew it in my college dorm room refrigerator.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I note that the competition for Feb 12 fame generally also includes Cmdr. Adama (or Boss Cartwright, depending on one's flavour of nerditity).

Posted by: engelmann | February 12, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I am here today to form a union of Achenblog readers to get a pay raise. I only want what others get for what they do during the day...
Cuomo wrote in a letter to Rep Frank as he summarized the Merrill Lynch bonuses that have made the news:

"The top four bonus recipients received a combined $121 million; The next four bonus recipients received a combined $62 million; The next six bonus recipients received a combined $66 million... Overall, the top 149 bonus recipients received a combined $858 million; 696 individuals received bonuses of $1 million or more."

To qualify for these bonuses, what did these execs manage to do?

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Turtles in soup! Perish the thought! Turtles are our special friends. Along with froggies and bunnies. And nobody would make soup out of those.

Please do not correct me on this point. I occasionally enjoy living in denial.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder what the all-time weirdest animal/lifeform ever created was/is (it might be around today, one has to suppose)."

*whistling tunelessly as I glance over at several candidates*

*oh, wait -- that's the mirror*


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

It isn't living, if you aren't doing it in denial

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I hear you, RD.
I'm still in denial myself
about dogs as food.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"Now John van Whye, who is the fellow responsible for putting Darwin's works entirely online (apart from the second edition of the Descent, but I live in hope), has published a very nice paper [PDF] re-examining this myth. He concludes that it is false, and that reading Darwin's letters, notes and published works afresh gives no reason to think there was such a delay. Instead, says van Whye, Darwin sketched out a plan of work that he stuck to pretty closely thereafter.

What he did do, though, was underestimate badly the time it would take him to do his systematic study of the invertebrates he had collected on the Beagle voyage, and in particular his extensive 2 volume monograph on barnacles."

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Catching up on the backboodling, there are a couple of thoughts I'd like to pass along:

Re. the Mars Hummer - I'm pretty sure that the Viking landers were nuclear-powered, too. Er, I mean they drew power from radioisotope thermal generators, sorry. [Scottynuke, is that the correct terminiology?] The Vikings also had retractable arms with an interesting extruding metal mechanism, and was also able to deposit sample material into onboard analyzers and processors and whatnot.

Also, if you had enough fuel and thrust, you could theoreticallty fly more or less straight to Mars (acclerate flat-out to halfway, and flip over and decelerate the other half so you don't go shooting off to the trans-Plutonianland and the Oort clouds (last bathroom stop before Alpha Centauri, kids)]. At a constant 1G acceleration, I think you can get to Mars in a matter of days depending on where Earth and Mars are in thir orbits. Traditionally the planetary launch windows are simply for minimum-energy boosts that'll get something where you want it to go with the least amount of energy (and money) expended (in this case, Mars). There's a money/speed equation for *everything.*

So, Spirit and Opportunity are kind of like a pair of Wall*e s and this Mars Science Lab a bit like some Megatron TransFormer or something?

I posted some thoughts on the satellite collision in last night's Boodle (hint: it's going to be down to the insurance companies), but it is worth noting that space is pretty big, but prime minimal energy orbital slots are getting a little crowded. I wonder if there will ever be a point where there's a cascade of orbital birdshot/debris clouds that render everything in particularly desirable High Ground to bits.

The rings of Earth wouldn't be ice and dust like Saturn, but a junkyard.

Speaking of Wall*e, I beleive that Earth is portrayed in that movie as being surrounded by a debris field (I seem to remember a shot where the ship Wall*e is clinging to shoves a very Sputnik-like object out of the way...)

Ok, I got all that out of my orbital system.

Now, onto Darwin.


Posted by: -bc- | February 12, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Boko!!! I'm always so glad to see you here.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I suspect Padouk has joined me in laughing at your 12:32, Scotty -- because he already e-mailed me with the answer, which I certain is also what you were thinking.

So, Ivansmom and Padouk, would mock turtles be OK for soup? (And how come ya never see some environmentalist somewhere trying to preserve mock turtle hatcheries? Where the hell is Jacques Cousteau when you need him? "Zees ees my leetle frien' ze mock turtle, sweeming in hees warm ocean. Come, my leetle frien'." Why is the Nature Channel ignoring this wonderful creature, mockus Testudo?) (Pace, Lewis Carroll.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, testudo Mockus. WhatEVerrrrr.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Geez, Mudge. Now you want to mock the turtles as well as cookiing them? Will the cruelty never end?

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to mock turtles, go for the neck.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 12, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course, one has to have a definition of 'weirdness' to pick a candidate.

If one makes a plot of uniqueness of a species vs. number of examples of a species, you may (and I think rightly) come to the conclusion that it is Us. Human beings are as weird as it gets.

Additionally, human beings have some of the widest range of acceptable behaviors within a species. Example, the beheading of 8 members of a poor family by another (now related by marriage) family, is considered acceptable by societies in certain regions. More? How about female genital mutilation, Darwinism, creationism, right-to-life, abortionists, Democrats, Republicans, Protestants, Catholics...

Tube worms, population unknown, are fairly normal by comparison.


Posted by: DLDx | February 12, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I'll take the unpopular position that Darwin was indeed rudely awakened by Wallace. I've been hornswoggled out of so many inventions and ideas by the Class System of science and industry I can't count them all. Sure, it's okay to say that, oh Darwin was "working on it" and he would have "gotten around to it." But he didn't, did he? Not until after Wallace's letter.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 12, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Joel mentioned Copernicus, who, along with Spartacus... who are two of the most important old cus's in the history of man.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I am Sparticus.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Spartacus. Can't spell my own name right.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Yer a sparky cuss, that's for sure, 'Mudge.

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I read that Will article. It seems to me that he simply avers that Lincoln is more significant than Darwin, and considers his statement (and our background knowledge) to be sufficient proof of the assertion. The rest of the piece then argues that Darwin is actually of enormous importance. I think George could have used a critical editor before sending that puppy to the WaPo Writers' Group, someone to help him decide upon his actual conclusion, and help him develop a focused argument on how to get there.

In the tradition of the pen being mightier than the sword, however, and fully admiring Lincoln, I have to say that Darwin counts for more. In a related issue of priority vs. significance, it was pointed out to me last night that Galileo can be demonstrated not to have been the first to use an astronomical telescope. That may be so, but so what? Galileo's great contribution was more than just using a telescope, his great contribution was that he used a telescope to make systematic observations; he made deductions from those observations; and then he published those deductions, making his thinking and his data subject to critical review by colleagues (and the Inquisition). All three elements -- or at least, the first and last parts -- were essential components in securing Galileo's place in the pantheon. We can never know exactly how Wallace would have handled the advancement of evolutionary theory as an organizing principle for all of biology. Would he have had the guts to carry it through? The writing ability and status necessary to persuade the skeptical and to win influential friends as advocates? We can't know for sure. However, we know that Darwin thought deeply, he published his work, and ultimately he accomplished a widespread dissemination of the central concepts. Darwin's work resulted in a new understanding of man's place in the universe (we aren't the center); a new understanding of the relationship between races (we are not divinely ordained into permanent castes); a new understanding of our relationship to the natural world (we can influence it, and it influences us). Without evolution, we would have no principle to comprehend the failure of once-successful antibiotics, no principle to guide us in developing successor antibiotics. Someone else might or might not have been the alternate-universe Darwin, but they weren't: we got this Darwin, and his ideas and his publications were the ones that broke biology out of its prison and made us free to comprehend our world.

So, there.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 12, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I haven't had a chance to read all of the editorials and thoughts concerning Darwin and Lincoln, and I hesitate to assign quantitative measurements to the men or their ideas.

Lincoln's Presidency was a turning point for this country, and pointed us towards a new path, one that, as he invoked a reference from the Declaration: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

The Civil War was a time of drastic change. Perhaps one could look at the American Civil War and its results as an evolutionary time, where the politics and economies of the North and South changed, and America itself was set on a difficult path to became something better, something that better resembled what those Founding Fathers' words were taken to mean in the context of the time. A terrible, tragic, horrible evolutionary process -- and is there any way to look at the losses as sacrifices made for the nation we have today? Lincoln's Presidency as Evolution in Action?

I don't recall anything in Darwin's works (and granted, I am not very familar with them) that ascribes quantitative measurements to the varieties of life or their adaptations. Or of the value of life itself.

We continue to strive for equality of individuals while understanding and - perhaps - celebrating our differences.

The world is a better place for both Darwin and Lincoln's having been here - men of thought and action, of ideas and ideals, and each a reminder in their own ways that Life - the beautiful gift that it is - is a continual struggle to be more than what we are, and that both the gift and struggle are best when shared.


Posted by: -bc- | February 12, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert. Slyness, how's the bunker?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

No one would venture in from the front page to post on a page with science smattered about. That's so un-American.

If, however, we would talk about Sarah Palin killing mock turtles to make mock turtle soup, then ya got somethin.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

bc, you make a good point. I was mistaken in buying into Will's own thesis that it is meaningful to distinguish whether one of the two is more important than the other. They both did things that resulted in consequences far beyond their own time and the narrow confines of their own specialty or nation.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 12, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Very good kit, it’s so easy indeed to kick every problem upstairs. I note a hint of gentle sarcasm directed at Mr. Baseball as well.

I enjoyed reading the He balloon discussion but I was a little too busy earlier to participate. The fine layer of Al in the fabric of the weather balloons slows down the diffusion loss but I suspect that fair balloons are He loss-limited . As the ascending balloon gets larger and larger the diffusion membrane gets thinner and thinner…

Unfortunately turtle soup has become immensely popular in immensely populous in Asia. And it has the expected consequences. *sigh*

I think Darwin is the most important man of science. I haven't read Lincoln much but I know of no Lincoln's Law or Lincoln's theory of This or That.

I think Lincoln is the most important statesman. Darwin was apparently quite involved in his parish but organizing the church fête isn't comparable to leading his country in and out of civil war.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 12, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Comparing Lincoln and Darwin is akin to comparing potatoes and cotter pins.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 12, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the coincidence of birthdate aside I don't really see the point of comparing Lincoln and Darwin. As has been noted here and elsewhere, each man was remarkable, of tremendous influence and consequence, but in different spheres. To try and praise one at the expense of the other, or make an assessment of qualitative importance, just seems false.

It is like comparing Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra.

Now if you want to compare and contrast Johnny Cash and, say, Billy Ray Cyrus, I'm with you. Except it will be a short conversation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Or comparing Cyrus McCormick and Ringo.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm still working on potatoes and cotter pins.

Posted by: nellie4 | February 12, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Wake me up when we start comparing Evangeline Lilly to Natalie Wood.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Johnny was cooler than Frankie. Or at least had a better biopic.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

But Johnny Cash produced Rosanne Cash, whereas Frank Sinatra produced Nancy Sinatra. In this comparison, the marketplace has spoken.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 12, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you know Natalie was hot ...

hard to believe, but

this was hot too.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Frankie and Johnny were lovers, yanno. (Hey, don't look at me! I didn't write the song!)

Frankie shot Johnnie cuz he done her wrong.

There's a moral in there somewhere.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course my comparison was unnecessarily generous, since Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra are both singers, while Lincoln and Darwin did not share an occupation, or even occupational category.

How about Johnny Cash and John Updike. Johnny Cash and Bette Friedan. Johnny Cash and - well, I almost went with Johnny Cash and Billy Ray Cyrus again, but I don't want to mock. The turtles might get me.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Everything's good in the bunker, Mudge, I'm just back from Costco so we are all stocked up on the important items (TP, wine, beer, paper towels, etc.).

You all know where the key is. Mudge will leave the door unlocked when he arrives.

Along about election day, the Times of London had a feature listing the presidents in order of greatness, by the writers' estimation. Lincoln was first, followed by Washington. I thought that was interesting, having always put Washington slightly ahead in my own mind.

But I think the important thing is to realize that Lincoln and Darwin and Washington and everyone else are people of their times and should not be judged by current standards. I wonder what egregious errors we are making that future generations will look at us and shake their heads and roll their eyes.

Creationism strikes me as just nuts. If God is infinite love, surely he is also infinitely patient, allowing the world and its inhabitants to grow and change at any pace that works for them.

Posted by: slyness | February 12, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Liz just printed my very first submission to the Celebritology chat!!

(I got one in Gene Pool, too, but that hardly counts since there's no selection process.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

He may be only inordinately patient.
Or not.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I know exactly what egregious errors we are making now. When I explain them, people shake their heads and roll their eyes.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 12, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

And for some reason, a lot of people still don't believe in evolution. Even Gallup has a poll on it!

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | February 12, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Have you all lost power in the windstorm out there? Is that why everyone is so quiet?

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 12, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Of course, if that is the case, you can't possibly tell me so.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 12, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

What was that, MotP?? Can't hear you over this wind... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Yo! I'm here. But I'm editing a document, so not paying too much attention to the blog right now. I followed the link placed by MatthewAvitabile and posted on his blog, disagreeing with two creationist comments and gently chiding Matt for spamming the Achenblog.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 12, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I think I'll have to go with Darwin as the more important on the global level.

I will do my duty as one of the resident furriners to make the outsider's observation that the institution of slavery was already on the way out before 1861.

I'm surprised to read Will's assessment that without Lincoln the US would "probably" have been split. War would have came in 1861 without Lincoln, from what I've read. The main issue is whether or not someone else would have accepted peace terms or otherwise not been able to sustain the Union cause.

Posted by: engelmann | February 12, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

There's a photo rotating on the front page of playwright Edward Albee -- and ya know who he looks a lot like? Our Brag.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of the middle of the Pacific, it's humbling to reach the boardwalks on Kauai's high plateau and realize that everything originated from somewhere across a vast ocean, mostly probably arriving on islands that no longer have high mountains, and that will eventually disappear from Kauai as it shrinks.

Of course I didn't notice native fruit flies, the ones that made Hampton Carson move to the University of Hawaii to be closer to his research subjects.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I cast my lot with Darwin. Consider how incredibly boring life would be without the debate over the validity of evolution. Who's to say that a higher being simply created protons, neutrons, and electrons, twirled it about with a large spatula to set it spinning, added some gravity, then sat back, enjoyed a few cool beverages over the millenia, and observed the results?

Miller and Urey, rediscovered:

Posted by: -jack- | February 12, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Slavery was becoming politically unworkable for the United States by 1860--a long series of compromises keeping a slave-free balance of states was unraveled.

But slavery may have been all too profitable, if "Time on the Cross" by Fogel and Engerman is anywhere near correct. The book was certainly wildly controversial.

On the other hand, Frederick Law Olmstead may have helped provoke civil war through his "Cotton Kingdom". He found those plantation houses to be tacky and their inhabitants even tackier. So much for the notion that slave labor made possible a cultivated life for the owner and his family.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Lincoln, did anyone watch the PBS show on him last night? I recorded it; is it a must-watch?

Posted by: Raysmom | February 12, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the response Dave. Even an independent CSA would have had a hard time keeping it going for long, I think.

I've been looking for some new reading; what's your verdict on Archer's climate change book (I think I recall you were reading?)

Posted by: engelmann | February 12, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh jeez, what IS the problem here?

Posted by: slyness | February 12, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

So I brought some work home this afternoon. I'm sitting here reading and I hear the rabbit banging around in her cage. As I watched, she meticulously, in several steps, overturned her litter pan (not empty) and moved it to a different corner. She then upended her food dish (mostly empty) and maneuvered it almost on top of the litter pan. This all took intentional acts, using both teeth and paws. She hopped up on top of her wooden manger to rest for a moment. Then she moved the manger and put the upside-down food dish in it. She's resting now, after a little hay snack. I look forward to her next move. Sometimes she puts the litter pan in the manger, too, then turns it on its back so everything sticks up. Perhaps this is lagomorph performance art.

Oddly, this will make it easier for me to clean her cage later, since the litter pan contents are already spread over the WSJ in the drop pan beneath the floor.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Am I halucinachen or have they changed the font on the masthead??? thingy?

Posted by: Boko999 | February 12, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

We told you before, Boko: stay off the Sterno.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 12, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I think I will apply for Commerce Secretary. I don't have any tax problems and I promise not to disagree with the President on major policy initiatives (though of course I may have my own opinion regarding the best way to handle the details).

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

And that's what you'll be *for* in the administration, Ivansmom. I say, go for it. Drop POTUS a note, put your name forward. You'd be perfect. You are perfect.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I read an article a long time ago that said that the invention of the cotton gin made life immeasurably worse for slaves. That in fact, it was a temporal separation point between "horrible and unfair" to "demonically awful" (my words/interpretation.) There are other things that were making the institution worse. As mixed offspring became more common, the laws deciding "racial status" became of "necessity" more draconian than prior. The whole thing was poised to topple.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 12, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Humans, keepers of this planet? I beg to differ.

Every species plays an important role in making the planet work. I suspec that every planet sustaining advanced forms of life will have at least one sapient species. This species have to play an important role--to carry salt from the sea back upstream. That's all.

Posted by: Braguine | February 12, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

That's funny, 'mudge. There is a man who works in my office building (though not for my firm) who looks enough like Brag that it is slightly unsettling each time I see him.

Brag, did you know there were all these imposters running about?

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Not only that, Ivansmom, but you know exactly how to use the WSJ! Hey, I'll support your candidacy for Commerce!

My eyelids are becoming heavy, heavy, heavy. But at least I got some work done today. Hope to get some good sleep tonight, so I can get more done tomorrow. Caffeinated tea isn't doing its job, unfortunately.

I'm hoping to come to the BPH, and I've even put it into my calendar. The time is at 5:30, right? At M&S, right?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | February 12, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Since Yoki mentioned it earlier (thanks), here is the torch for next winters Vancouver Olympics, designed by Bombardier to look like a ski.

I am sure the anticipation was killing you :-)

Like engelmann, I would go with Darwin, more global implications than Lincoln.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 12, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Yippppeeeeeeeeee! ftb! How wonderful. *Doing a happy dance*

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Me, too, Yoki!

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | February 12, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Alas, the next BPH was scheduled after I had already volunteered to work overnight in our synagogue's Winterhaven effort on that night,providing a temporary (one week) shelter for homeless men, along with other religious institutions in our neighborhood. Each institution takes a week. We have already had our week for women's Winterhaven.

Drink a beer for me at the BPH, guys.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 12, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Why, ScienceTim, you'd rather foster the homeless than hang out in a bar? Gosh! No alas not alack for this, please.

Is it OK if I drink a glass of wine instead of beer, in your honour?

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

But Lincoln has been on so many countries' stamps. I don't think you can underestimate the global impact of an still-unified United States of America, freed of slavery.

Myself, I of course hope that Darwin's legacy will be around thousands of years, long after Lincoln is a footnote in history.

But some days I get pessimistic.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 12, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

*SIGH* Woulda been nice to have a fellow Granite Stater in the Cabinet...

But at least Gregg's honest enough to politely say, "I can't work with this guy."

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Jumper in the potatoes-versus-cotter-pins school of thought that says it is pointless to try to figure out who was more important.

ftb, the BPH tends to start around 5, but 5:30 is fine if that's when you want to arrive; people have been known to arrive at all sorts of times. bc and Scotty have the reputations of showing up at or before 5 p.m. and I do about 2/3 of the time. I have a hunch this one is going to be VERY well-attended, which means we may need more tables than usual, which means we advance scouts might have to show up earlier than usual to stake out turf. But we are all up to the challenge.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 12, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I've done a lousy job of getting around to finishing Archer's "The Long Thaw", but it's a slender volume and Archer gives instructions as to what to read if you're short on time. His emphasis on long-term consequences of what we've already done is sobering.

I suspect the "Thaw" is the best available climate briefing for decision makers. I'd send one to my congressman, but I doubt that he or the staff would look at it. The district is becoming Oklahoma conservative despite having a tech economy plus NASA.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I could well be there before 5:00. My last meeting ends at 4:00 on Thu, so I could man (hahaha) a table (or two, I'm quite a *large* woman) though I don't know how to commandeer a whole section of a busy bar the way Scotty and bc and 'mudge seem to do.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Boy, DaveOTC, it is so depressing that you can describe your district as "Oklahoma conservative" and we all know exactly what you mean. And I can't even argue the point.

Not my fault!!!

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Dang, I was going to apply for that Commerce Secretary job! Foiled again. (Doncha think Gregg could have figured out there might be some philosophical differences before he was announced? He objects to the census? ???)

Posted by: seasea | February 12, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I need to recheck what seems a well-informed book on the New World plantation economy. Where slavery ended, peonage took over. The one and only Reconstruction amendment that was never quasi-nullified by the courts was the one that prohibited outright ownership of people and peonage. So, except in California and Hawaii (and the Panama Canal), we never saw massive use of imported labor.

Cuba's plantation economy switched from coffee to sugar after a series of hurricanes. The sugar regime was terrible. After slavery, laborers were imported. Eventually the Chinese government investigated and issued a damming report, which is available in English translation.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to go completely off-Boodle and do a little Snoopy dance because the Nationals got Adam Dunn. (If only he could pitch.) I realize most of you have no idea what I'm Snoopy dancing about, but maybe Scotty and GWE might. Otherwise, as you were.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 12, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Padouk's announced distate for chicken and bunny soups recalls to me the times of the Reagan recession, when fear and hunger stalked the land.

Some people turned to alternative self-employed enterprise, or to hawking such enterprises. One was the raising of bunnies for food. You wouldn't need fields or barns; they make little noise, the neighbors need never know.

But what the heck to do with all those bunnies? Inevitably (?) someone decided to turn some into fast food.

I drove by the establishment in Marion, IA sometime around '82 or '83. I expected it to have a short life, and it did.

Can you imagine loading the kids into the car and saying, "Hey, lets go out and get some Bunny Burgers"?

Posted by: j2hess | February 12, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

*snort* j2hess! This was also the time of Michael Moore's breakthrough "Roger and Me." Remember the interview with the bunny-raising woman?

(Just don't tell RD_Padouk about this comment, or he'll cut me dead.)

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Hoppin' Burgers might sell better as a name, Jhess..

Wilbrodog here:

Snoopy dance of joy?
Lets boogie down with a ball
Mudge-- keep throwing...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 12, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Bunny Burgers? BUNNY BURGERS?

I fear I must lie down now. Wherever are the smelling salts?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Rabbit is a very good white meat. I wouldn't eat one I know personally but them lagomorphs are darn tasty with a cream and mustard sauce. As I have wrote about before the "Lapin Sauté", a small restaurant located in the Casse-Cou staircase in Québec city, is the classic place to enjoy a nice rabbit dish.

The rain has ceased, it's snowing now.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 12, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

RD... Maybe you remember the stand* on 123 near Lorton that used to have a spray-painted, plywood sign that said...

For Sale: Bunnies & Rabbits

My dad explained the difference... you may invite a bunny over for dinner, but you'll be having the rabbit FOR dinner.

*Replaced now by large houses on small lots, I believe.

Posted by: -TBG- | February 12, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

one bourbon,one scotch and one beer

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 12, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama is giving a VERY funny speech right now in Illinois -- you guys should tune it in if you can. There will be lots of clips and sound bites from it. Just took a nice shot at the Commerce Secretary thing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 12, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Post is going to be like Google and vary their header from day to day. When I saw the third version in as many days, I got a very Googly feeling.

Posted by: kbertocci | February 12, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Mark your calendar Yoki, you do not want to miss this event in Calgary!

Running for cover :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | February 12, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I loved Obama's speech. Very funny line about Lincoln, as a congressman, with his feet up on his desk, maybe waiting for a call [sic] asking him to be Commerce Secretary - then Obama laughs at his own joke. Then he got serious, and gave one of his wonderful blendings of history with what's going on now, and what government is supposed to do for the people.

Posted by: seasea | February 12, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and President Obama (love writing that!) mentioned Charles Darwin too, and the importance of science and funding research and development.

kb, laughing at the Googly feeling. I don't pay much attention to mastheads, etc. I think it's because I tune out the ads and anything extraneous.

Posted by: seasea | February 12, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Loved the Google masthead today, the birds are delightful as well as apropos.

Posted by: slyness | February 12, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Me too! I don't even see the ads any more and I had to concentrate to figure out what the masthead discussion was all about.

"Rabbit" in our house is the formal term for bunny. We try to encourage a healthy respect for Beatrice. With all this heavy lifting she's doing, plus her speed, I think she could probably take us if she really wanted to.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

TBG, this reminds me of my first night in Manila, ever, in January 1998. There was a typhoon happening as I took a taxi from Aqino International to my hotel on Edsa, and the rain was so heavy I couldn't take a picture.

I was being driven up the usual big-city strip between the airport and downtown (you know, gas stations and cheap motels and car dealerships and liquor stores) when we passed a brightly lit Honda dealer. Just as clean and white and over-lit as any in the West. There was a small alley to one said, and stuck to the cinder-block of the store was a hand-lettered sign with an arrow pointing down the lane.

"Goat for Sale."

This is S-E Asia in all its grubby glory!

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

dmd! That's positively obscene!

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Did I read the other day that you(Yoki) are coming to DC again for a BPH?I may actually have to try and make a mid week bph.

I am hoping I have power when i get home,2 days without power will drive you stir crazy.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 12, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Man I hope you can run fast dmd.

Yoki, TBG, I got the loveliest of packages in the mail yesterday. I will let that tall youngun' know and deliver shortly. And thanks for the little nifty extra. My car is going to need a good wash before it deserves to sport it.

Posted by: --dr-- | February 12, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, indeed, green man. It would be great to see you again, if you can swing it.

BPH is the 26th of February, a Thursday. Come on down.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

dr, you just blew my cover! TBG was counting on me to consign that package to Her Majesty's Royal Postal Service in mid-December. And then I lost my nerve to got the postal office just before Christmas, and then I lost the thread. The lateness is entirely mine, and the loveliness is entirely TBG's.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach is not unlike that airport-to-city strip in Manila. No goats for sale, but it is basically squalor interrupted by luxury car dealerships.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, just for your own interest, Her Majesty's Royal Postal Service is entirely manned by Communists. They don't respect and love the British Crown anymore, the treacherous b@stards.

Joselito, The Little Spanish Nightingale, has turned 60 yesterday. What a let down. He was my mother's favourite.
I can't carry a tune.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 12, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that heads-up, shriek. Now when I want to get all fancy abd high-falutin' I guess I'll try something like "The Postal Service of the Government of Canada in Right of the Queen."

No? I hear you protest

Fine! Canada Post.

Geez. Not very colonial, to my ear.

I can't carry a tune in a bucket. My Dad used to beg me to sing "Sweet and Low" "Over the Hill and Far Away" or "Silence."

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I used to come home to furniture moved around in the living room (wood floors, felt pads on the furniture legs made it easy), so I think between my dogz and Beatrice, we can announce the discovery of the animal Martha Stewart gene.

We lost power here last night, a few fence slats came down. I remember when I was very young and the power would go down. We'd walk down the back to my grandparents' house and cook dinner in the fireplace. When I lived in small-town Ohio, power outages were a weekly occurrence, so I had candles in hurricanes in almost every room. Here, I lit a few candles, but mostly just went outside and collected the tops of the solar lights from the front yard and put them in different rooms. I also use my cell phone as a flashlight. Progress.

Posted by: -dbG- | February 13, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse


Possibly the ultimate slave-society horror story is "Stedman's Surinam: Life in an Eighteenth Century Slave Society", an abridged edition edited by Price and Price (Johns Hopkins).

Stedman's nightmare fits well with Philip D. Curtin's "The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex", a collection of essays (Cambridge).

Curtin (p. 204):

"...The plantation complex moved Europeans into Africa and the tropical Americas at enormous cost in loss of life. It moved Africans to the New World at even greater cost."

"Were the benefits worth it, and to whom? Overall, the sum of individual profits from slave traders and from plantations themselves was not statistically higher than normal for other enterprises of their time and place. The capital and enterprise might just as well have been placed elsewhere. Of course, short-term profits from gold mining in Brazil, from particular plantations, and from particular voyages in the slave trade were enormous. But this fact may merely have brought into play what some economists have called the "Vegas Principle". The Vegas or Klondike principle states that people will invest when they see a chance of high winneings, even when they know that statistically they must lose... For the individual, it is less than a zero-sum game."

Curtin discusses the use of "contract labor" after slavery was abolished. Huge numbers of people from Africa and India were transported to the New World.

Curtin doesn't cover the USA, where peonage was forbidden after the Civil War. But southern states rented out prisoners. "The American Siberia: Or, Fourteen Years' Experience in a Southern Convict Camp" by J. C. Powell, 1891, is set in Florida. Convict leasing seems to have ended in Florida in the 1920s.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 3:13 AM | Report abuse

Still awake.

Pearlstein has a great piece today: Bloviation vs. Reality on Stimulus Health-Care Provision

Read it and abandon hope for health care reform. We're going to be saved from the horrors of getting more effective care at lower cost.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 4:01 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post logo seems to be getting bigger and more impressive by the hour. Will it begin to glow?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey baby, won't you come here quick
This old Sterno is gettin' me sick
Sterno, all around my brain.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 13, 2009 4:39 AM | Report abuse

*Yosemite Sam voice* Hasenpfeffer? HASENpfeffer???

Yoki, the key to proper BPH seating is ruthless land-grabbing.


Very sadly, not every commercial flight has Sullenberger at the controls... 49 dead in a Continental crash in Buffalo. :-(

*slow-march-to-the-office-sorta greeting gestures*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Convict leasing lasted until right around the time Cool Hand Luke ate fifty hard-boiled eggs. Right around then.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 13, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. I see a handful of you are up already. Not much on the home page, but there is this story sure to please the lagomorph-lovers midst you (you know who you are):

U.S. to mull protection for alpine rabbit on warming

Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:32pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government has agreed to study whether the American pika, a tiny cold-loving relative of the rabbit, should be protected under the Endangered Species Act due to warmer temperatures, scientists said on Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to determine whether the pika warrants protection under the act by May. If so, it must then decide whether it should be designated an endangered species nine months after that, they said.

The pika could become the first species outside Alaska to get protection due to global warming. Last May the government listed polar bears as threatened because their sea ice habitat was melting away.

"All the evidence we have suggests global warming will cause the species to go extinct and many populations have already been wiped out," Greg Loarie, an attorney for the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, said in an interview.

Loarie represented the Center for Biological Diversity in a lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service last year. It challenged the government to make a finding on whether the species was endangered because of rising temperatures.

The agency did not immediately return phone calls about the agreement.

Nobody knows how many pikas, which live high up in mountain ranges including the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascades, are left.

But biologists say more than a third of pika populations in the Great Basin mountains of Nevada and Oregon have gone extinct in the last century as temperatures have warmed. Those that remain are found an average of 900 feet farther up.

Pikas can die from overheating when exposed to temperatures as low as 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) for a few hours, the Center for Biological Diversity said.


Now, what I want to know is why are they saving pikas but not pookas? Don't giant, 6-foot-tall invisible, talking wabbits deserve our protection, too?

Well, time to get the Dawn Patrol launched into the air. I sure am gonna miss having Brag back there covering our six every morning.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 13, 2009 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Marmots (rock chucks) are a bit less cute than pikas.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

The "We're All Swedes" opinion piece by Richardson and Roubini is pretty sour. Swedish ginger cookies and a jar of herring in dill sauce, anyone?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, and happy Friday the thirteenth. I think I'll stay close to home and take it easy today. Good thing tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so we have something to look forward to get us through the day.

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Scotty that is sad news out of Buffalo, the TV was on a Buffalo channel last night shortly before I went to be and they were reporting on the crash but at the time were announcing it as a small plane.

Just caught a wonderful sunrise looked up from what I was doing to see the sky lit up with bright orange light, quickly took a few pictures, didn't have time to get the best photos but they seemed to turn out ok.

Great way to start the day, aside from the news from Buffalo, today is my husbands birthday, tomorrow Valentines day and Monday a holiday (Family Day), should be a great weekend.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

'morning all.
Dave, Roubini is a sour self-aggrandizing doomsayer. When the economy tanks, he's right and when it's flourishing he's wrong.
Marmots are basically oxygen-deprived groundhogs then.

dmd, I'm following your lead and taking Monday off. I checked again yesterday and us Feds don't get this family leave thing. The way our contract negociations are going with this government I doubt it's going to be in the next agreement as well...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Loved your bunny story, Ivansmom. I had one, in years gone by. "Bun Bun" (a play on my first dog's name, "Bonbon") had free run of the house and often slept curled up with my cat. "I have to GOooo!" I'd say before leaving for work, and the two of them would hop down the stairs to the basement.

It also reminded me of a story about a gal who kept a lobster in a huge tank ... which got her in trouble with the law. The lobster's favorite activity was re-arranging the "furniture" in his tank every day ... would meticululously place the treasure chest, pirate ship, and other bric-a-brac every day. Cute, huh?

Posted by: KBoom | February 13, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, Al!

So, I'm setting at my desk doing some homework looking at meat grinders and smokers when I am on a site with a very nice collection that also has a category called "Varmint Traps."

Do you guys have a Varmint Problem?

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Cassandra, we've not had our blessing yet! Hope all is well with you.

russianthistle, I have a girlfriend who once had a hamster, and I was required to sleep in the same room with it. In the middle of the night it sat up on its fat little haunches and sang a surprisingly loud and tuneful hamster-song. When I remarked on this in the morning, my friend said, "Yes, he's very cute... for vermin."

Have a good day, everyone.

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Weed, are you going to make sausage? When 'grinder' and 'smoker' are in the same sentence, my culinary antennae start twitching.

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I want to make sausage. Odd, isn't it?!

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Nothing odd about it. A most worthy endeavour.

How are you feeling today?

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Posted my sunrise photos, two of the shots were of the sunlight highlighting a few trees, one my neighbours Chinese Redwood, it doesn't show as much in the picture but the angle of the light was just highlighting the top of that tree as if to illustrate how special that is. Just lovely, similar to the Birch tree which had the top of the tree illuminated.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Vermin sausage. mmmmmmmmm...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

EYE (stealing from Yoki) have a varmint problem. Every night, a damn armadillo comes up and tears my yard all to hell. Got a humane trap the other day and hope to "rehome" it.

Posted by: KBoom | February 13, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I believe we can all agree this qualifies as a Very Very Very Bad Thing...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Was it yellojkt or RD who needed a new serious and traditional popcorn popper? Here's one:

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

OH darn... Scotty, that is a frightening story/tale/reality. I also want to point out that we PAID for all of that... the incarceration, the bribes, the courts, the lawyers ... the fixes ....

I posted within the past week about the huge increases in the numbers of Hispanics getting swept up by ICE. (right or wrong)...

The mentality since 9/11 has changed. Our police are dressed in para-military gittyups. This is in contradiction from the old days where police were supposed to keep everyone safe and free.

It is good to know that we can bribe a judge to get someone tossed into the clink, though. Good times.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! Happy Friday the Thirteenth.

RT - I think that was Yello. Our popcorn popper is the microwave.

TBG - Yes! I remember seeing that sign on 123 very well before they redid the roads. We went past it every year while returning from Myrtle Beach.

Are you implying some of these Lagomorphs might not have been sold to be beloved pets? The horror. The horror.

The hausenfeffer.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 13, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

RD, thanks, btw, when you make popcorn in your famous laboratory, what methodology do you utilize? I am sure that is other-worldly.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I think we can also agree this is Very Very Very Weird...

*raised eyebrow*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

People, people. It was dr needed a good popcorn maker. Pay attention!

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

OMG, Scotty, thast's one of the most horrific stories I ever heard of (the corrupt juvie court judges in Penna.). And think of all the lawsuits coming up...

Hey, dear Canuckis, it occurred to me we Murkins needs some more educating about your fine country, to whit: we down here have a whole bunch of federal and national holidays (got one coming up on Monday) that you guys don't get, Labor Day and Memorial Day and July 4th, President's Day, MLK Day, Thanksgiving, etc. So what national/federal holidays do you guys get that I'm not aware of? (Seriously, I'm asking to be edjamacated.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse


Poutine Day

Curling Day

Molson's Day

Quebecois Day (not countrywide, of course)

How'm ah doon?

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Yoki, I slept late this morning. The old body was kind of tired. You sound perky and fresh this morning, good for you.

I was up late last night looking at the news and the plane crash too. Sad news.

I must have missed that piece of news that Brag is not going to be here anymore?

Mudge, Slyness, Martooni, Scotty, and everyone, have a great day. *waving*

The kit is excellent, JA. From what I've read of Lincoln, and that isn't much, his care was not so much for the slaves, as for the nation. He wanted to keep the nation as one. I think he thought putting the slaves on a ship and sending them back to Africa was a good idea. If that was indeed his thought, glad he didn't act on it. As for Darwin, I don't know that much about him or his work, other than just a tad about natural selection, and nothing to write home about on that. In high school, I hated biology. When I went back as an adult(yeah, I know, we can haggle over that) I loved it.

BC and Science Tim, loved your comment.

Ivansmom, you and Beatrice need your own reality show. You could probably convince RD to join you too. And go ahead and apply for the Commerce job, can't hurt, and I think you would be great at the job.

I'm not walking this morning. My foot doesn't want to act right. Need to get it checked out.

I'm feeling a little low this morning, got my feelings hurt real bad yesterday. But that comes with what I do. I'll study today and pray over it. It will be fine.

Time to move.

Posted by: cmyth4u | February 13, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh, my, "Roger and Me."

I'll never forget the question, "Pet or meat?"

Scottynuke, I don't think we should limit ourselves to simply "Molson's Day," as there are many, many fine Canadian brews available.

I prefer "Canadian Beer Day, Eh? [When's it *not*?]"

Brag, a good strong wind at your back today, sir, and we look forward to hearing from you in your new locale.

We'll miss you up here.


Posted by: -bc- | February 13, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Here's what Slate has to say about the corrupt judges:

This will be an unholy mess for several years. As if we needed another one.

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

You come here any time someone hurts your feelings. We aren't the good book. Some say, we aren't even real, but we care for one another. You know, I have some people I know who laugh when things don't work out with others. Inside, they must be miserable. They'll be fine, but they aren't going to get a whole lot of my attention either. We should all treat everyone with respect and charity. But, if you need something when you are feeling low, we are here!
Get yourself some tea and join in!

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Ask and you shall receive, list of Federal Holidays, with a link to additional provincial holidays.

Scotty, you forgot Hockey Day!!

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Note to other Canuckis, did you know about this? Never heard of it. From the website I linked to above,

Although not public holidays, Commonwealth Day and the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster are marked in Canada by flying, where physical arrangements allow (i.e. two flagpoles), the Royal Union Flag, also know as the "Union Jack" along with the National Flag at federal buildings, airports, military bases and other federal buildings and establishments, from sunrise until sunset.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

How COULD I have missed that, dmd??? *hanging head in shame*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

It was a toss up between Hockey Day and Rush Day :-).

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

When do they Celebrate Hockey Day? Is that the 2nd Tuesday after the 3rd Sunday following the first date that you can drive your pickup out on the lake ... and it doesn't go through the ice?

... or do I confuse that with Ice Fishing Day

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

dmd goes all hi-tech with an intertube link. I used my emmenthaled memory to get this:
New year Jan 1
Provincial slackers get family day 2cd Monday of Feb, we do not.
Good Friday and Easter Monday
Victoria day (Monday closest to May 20th)
St-Jean-Baptiste (Renamed Fête nationale des Québécois) June 24th, QC only
Canada day (July 1st)
Civic Day (First Monday of August, ROC (i.e. Canada-QC)
Labour Day
Thanksgiving (Your Columbus, 2cd Monday of October)
Remembrance day, Nov 11th
Christmas Dec 25th
Boxing day Dec 26th

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

EVERY day is Rush Day, dmd!!!

Goose Day?

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Goose Day? I'm in if they are Grey.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Shriek I only went high tech because my memory is so low tech.

Still giggling at the provincial links, first Newfoundland is the place to be for holidays, second Halifax has a holiday that is stated as - "Natal Day [first Monday of August, except in Halifax where it varies from year to year, usually August or July", wonder what the determining factor is.

Now must go find out what Natal Day is for.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Monday I take my Volunteer day (1 day per year that disappears at the end of the fiscal year on March 31 if not taken).

I volunteered to wait for the garage door guy to come to inspect and measure the current set-up and get the depot on the new door.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Shriek, I KNEW there was a Quebecois Day in there somewhere... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

SCC deposit

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Don't Manitobans have at least one holiday each month? That's when they head south to North Dakota to go shopping. (Thoughts of heading south to ND and doing it to shop make my head spin.)

Not much happening in Our Fair City today and I'm slow getting to it. Another cup of coffee then following Cassandra's good dedication to exercise example should pep things up a bit.

I'll save my juvenile justice system rant for later.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 13, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The old days (remembering fondly...)

The blooper and follow-up by our own beloved Glenn Brenner along with Gordon Peterson:

Be on the Lookout for The Extremely Dangerous Nun.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow, you guys have more national religious holidays than we do: we only get Christmas nowadays since Easter has been eliminated. You get Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Boxing Day. Who'd a thunk?

You also get your Labour Day and your Remembrance Day the same as us, plus your version of our July 4th and Thanksgiving.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all.

Brag is moving to Santiago? Chile? I certainly hope after he gets there he can Boodle up again.

Cassandra, as Weed said, if someone hurts your feelings you come tell us. We'll be on your side. It would be undignified for us to punch them for you, but I'll set Beatrice on them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 13, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Strictly speaking, a person has to live in Tarnation to have a varmint problem.

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Do those Manitobans drive down in their tractor trailor cabs? That way the little woman can sleep in the cab and be fresh for when they make it to the mall.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Well Rememberance Day is a federal and provincial government holiday - regular folks and school children do not get the day off - at least in Ontario anyways. It is one of the reasons federal/Ontario govenment employees do not get Family Day here - as they are at their agreed quota for holidays (perhaps they can take it as a float day?). Other unions have similar isues with Family day because the days off were set in the contract the new Family day caused problems (this is only the second one in Ontario).

Personally I think anyone in a northern clime deserves a holiday in February - breaks up the monotony. The timing is good right now as the days are just starting to be noticibly longer - a great reason to celebrate.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I was going to make a crack about shopping... do you mean at the Cabelas?

But, I note that Manitoba has a Cabelas and N. Dakota does not.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Here is a five second challenge...

Which (I think that it is just one) US state flag incorporates within its design the Union Jack?

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

State and local government employees in NC get Good Friday off. When I first started work, we got Easter Monday, but somewhere along the line the holiday got switched. Either is fine with me, both would be too much to ask. The story was that Easter Monday was chosen because of a baseball game of government employees, the details of which escaped me long ago. Since that's no longer a big deal, Good Friday it is.

Interestingly, 2009 is going to be the first year the City of Charlotte will be closed the Friday after Thanksgiving. We used to get Veterans Day, then that was changed to a floating holiday we could take whenever we liked, with supervisor approval. I always took the Friday after Thanksgiving for mine, as does Mr. T. So, finally, the floating holiday is going away and Thanksgiving gets two days, like everybody else. Sometimes, progress takes baby steps.

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Ha! Hawaii, of all places.

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Easter Monday here (Ontario) is for government employees (all levels), schools and banks, again regular folks like me have to work.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

russianthistle is at his prickly best when making fun of Canadians, apparently.

shriek, your list is by no means definitive. We don't get Easter Monday nor Remembrance Day and we get a half-day on Christmas Eve and December 31.

Judging by the deserted parkade in my office building, the oil company workers get the Friday before Family Day as well :)

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if it's the only one, but Hawaii has the Union Jack in the corner of its flag.

rt-Manitobans are usually regarded as a bit more sophisticated than their southern neighbors. Maybe it's their mysterious foreign accents, or just the ND inferiority complex.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

True Yoki, my list was applicable to Federal Public Service only.

Mudge, you already know that we all are very religious people. I virtually spend my whole life kneeling and muttering latin stuff to myself.

I've been to Manitoba's Cabela and spent nearly a hundred bucks on fishing tackle. It wasn't called cabela at the time (last year) but it was one. I wish we had one here. Wondrous fishing lure selection. Piles of rods & reels too. Enough waders to satisfy a rubber fetishist. *drooling like a DdB*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

BOO Slyness by more than ten minutes on the Hawaii flag.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 13, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Surely there's a Canadian holiday to commemorate the birth of Bob and Doug McKenzie!

I understand B&D McKenzie action figures are now available. Anyone with his/her own action figure probably deserves one. Here in the US, I'm totally for Kimora Lee Simmons day because it would be fabulous enough to span 2 consecutive days, giving us a 5 day weekend.

Remember when KLS insisted there had to be a dog included with her doll because you just can't be fabulous without a dog? :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | February 13, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, don't let the naysayers get you down -- if they get to you, they win, don't they? Thanks for the kind words about my comment -- I was in a rush getting that out, could have done a better job on it, but didn't have time.

Like now.


Posted by: -bc- | February 13, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Darn you, Weed. That Glenn Brenner clip made me go on a YouTube binge, playing about 8 more Brenner clips. Loved that guy.

Hawaii was the correct answer? I was going to guess the great state of North Wemsleystoke-upon-Tufton.

A "parkade"?? You guys got parkades? Never heard that word in my life before.

Yes, Cassandra, a month or two ago Brag told us he was moving lock, stock and Spad to Santiago, Chile (where he was born, BTW). He thinks he'll be out of touch for about a month or two, but hopes to rejoin the Boodle after he gets settled and wired.
Hope he does; then we'll have our bona fide South America Boodle correspondent.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, sorry about the conflict you had yesterday. I know how upsetting those can be, especially when there is an open lack of respect.

Don't let the turkeys get you down.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 13, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I heard Dr. Ronald Numbers speak for about 50 minutes last night at our Trinity University about the various groups--fundamentalist and evangelical, that have opposed Darwinism and the teaching of evolution in schools since the early 1900s. The most lively part of the evening was the long (but a very good long) Q&A session, after the lecture, with the members of the audience who filled the small auditorium.

One of the most interesting questions? One that asked Numbers to follow up on his comment during his address to "follow the money"--Numbers in his reply naming those individuals (Seattle, Los Angeles, North Carolina) who are presently funneling large amounts of cash to support anti-Darwin efforts.

One attendee asked Numbers to crystal ball-gaze into the future, and Numbers replied that he believes the conflict between the Darwinists and fundamentalists and evangelicals will only intensify in the future. When I asked him "why" he thinks this way, he said that he's a believer in original sin, essentially a pessimist at heart. (He also thinks the economy will get worse, he added, half-jokingly.)

Interesting that his background is that of a descendant of several generations of Seventh Day Adventist pastors, his thinking converted to Darwinism after a stint at UC Berkeley.

Numbers said that he will be winging his way to the Vatican conference on evolution in about two weeks. I see from GoogleNews that Stephen Hawking will speak at the conference.

As CNA reported last week, the conference will be held under the theme, "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A critical appraisal 150 years after ‘The Origin of Species’," March 3-7. The summit is part of the Vatican co-sponsored STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest).

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Listen very carefully to the Darwinist's clever excuses when this is proposed: Have a prime-time national TV debate of the true scientific evidences for a couple of hours from the one the evolutionists choose, and the one the Creationists choose (not the evolutionists choosing for them). Then, let the public, including the "most educated," decide for themselves.

Now, again, listen to the evolutionist's contortions in response to this. It ought to speak volumes concerning their TRUE agenda. No? Then do it!

Posted by: SteveSorensen | February 13, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Checked the headlines last night before turning in, to discover reporting by NYT's Nicholas Wade that researchers have decoded the genomes of the 99 strains of common cold virus and developed a catalog of vulnerabilities.

What I found amazing is that researchers have put them on a Darwinian-like family tree:

By comparing the 99 genomes with one another, the researchers were able to arrange them in a family tree based on similarities in their genomes.

That family tree shows that some regions of the rhinovirus genome are changing all the time but that others never change.

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Robert Pennock, a philosopher and evolutionist at Michigan State is a good writer on creationism, though his "Tower of Babel" found such vapid silliness that I wonder why he bothered to continue.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 13, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm an evolutionist, and what you are proposing is the equalivent to having the laws of physics explained vs "hey, apples fall to the ground because there's invisible rubber bands everywhere planted by God."

Sorry, but that's the plain truth. Propaganda does not truth make. Nor do you put science and the facts to democratic vote.

If you think that, you really need a science class. ANY kind.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 13, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten, its not often that I have coffee at my home computer, but if I had, I would have lost it on your 10:02.

Yoki, we kept trying to do a northern BPH and I figured they would arrive then. I'll buy you a bottle of wine and beg your forgiveness for my faux pas when we do finally hold one.

russianthistle, There is a Cabelas in Manitoba? And mrdr reads the boodle too. Dang.

My extra day off magically morphed into a week off work. Its just the way my days fall, and my sweet boss giving me Saturday off too. So I'm on the road today. Have a good weekend everybody.

Brag? Santiago? Get settled soon, and looking very much forward to boodlers in the Siouther hemishpere.

Posted by: --dr-- | February 13, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Oh for Petes sake.

SCC Southern.

And SCC any others lurking in there too.

Posted by: --dr-- | February 13, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

And Winnipeg's Cabela is near the airport too. Very convenient.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Moving to Santiago? Learn to drive very, very scarily, dude, or you won't survive. Consider investing in one of the factories that produces little molded-concrete shrines to put by the side of the road in honor of those killed in collisions ("accidents" implies that such events are unpredictable, which is not true with the way they drive in Chile). Last time I was in Santiago, those concrete shrines seemed to be big business.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 13, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Power we have Power!!!
After 2 days,It finally came on a little while ago.It was so strange on my ride home last night to see everything so dark.The moon was out last night,so i could see everything,but just so eerily dark.

I read a book about baseball last night by oil lamp. Read about Branch Rickey and then about the black sox.It was all good.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 13, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Follow the money (throw in some gay bashing, too):

Yet few Americans have heard of Ahmanson -- and that's the way he likes it.

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Did someone just suggest that we should pay very close attention to something? I am sorry, I was skimming and probably missed something ...

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

For Russian Thistle, not trucks driving on ice but Ice Golf.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

THanks!!!! Ice Golf, just what I need. I have trouble with icy sidewalks.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This is why golfers wear those two-tones spikey shoes Tumbleweed.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Numbers also mention Rushdoony, now deceased, mentioned in the article/first link:

Previously, Ahmanson was a disciple of the Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism. Rushdoony died in 2001 with the Ahmansons at his bedside. 9 He advocated basing the American legal system on biblical laws, including stoning adulterers and homosexuals.

Numbers also mentioned Weyerhaeuser:

The largest individual contribution to WPAC [Washington Public Affairs Council] was $20,000 from C. Davis Weyerhaeuser, a retired member of the wealthy timber industry family. The family operates the Stewardship Foundation, a charitable organization which donates to conservative Christian organizations

Fron the Chris Mooney's Aug. 2006 NYT bestselling book "The Republican War on Science":

Seeking to institutionalize the ID [intelligent design] movement, Meyer turned to the late timber industry magnate C. Davis Weyerhaeuser, a major funder of Christian evangelism in the U.S. through his Stewardship Foundation. Weyerhaeuser provided key “seed money” to establish the Discovery Institute’s ID program, according to Larson.

On to my day...

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, TBG, wanna go back to UPI? You can work at home...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Steve-o, the fact that you capitalized "Creationists" but used the lower-case "evolutionists" made me think you might have a slight bias or even agenda. Perhaps I'm misreading that, sir.

Having said that, if you were a regular to this Blog, I'd suggest that you might be familiar with the oft-discussed idea that there is a significant difference between scientific facts and spirituality/faith. I believe that both are necessary to the human mind and spirit, but that having a debate between the two is not helpful, since one is specifically belief in verifiable facts and hypotheses based on empirical data, while the other is specifically belief in something - which may include personal sensory or emotional experiences - without requiring facts or data.

To be more succinct, I think one's about verifiable facts, one's about experienced emotions, and as tempting as it is to debate factual or emotional conclusions, it just does not work for me. I cannot measure what I know about science and logic by faith, and I cannot justify my faith and emotions with science.

Thankfully, I neither want nor need to.
Remarkably, the top of my head remains integral to my skull and has not popped off from the internal pressure of any conflict, because I do not perceive one.

But the philisophical percolations continue...


Posted by: -bc- | February 13, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm a coward. I'd head for the bunker right now, if I couuld get away from the office. Save yourselves while you still can!

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I don't see a front page link...However, I will zip by and unlock the bunker. Everything should be ready, since I checked yesterday and stocked the fridge. The bathrooms are clean, too, and there's plenty of TP. I love Costco!

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Funny you should ask at this point in time, 'Mudge. Friday the 13th is living up to its reputation... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I think we're fine. Steve posed a fairly civil, if somewhat biased, challenge. I believe bc responded very comprehensively. After hundreds of comments, that's not too alarming.

I hope I'm not proved wrong.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi all... I'm enjoying my Friday Off today. The new washer and dryer are delivered, I went out and bought some "HE" detergent for it (I wonder what I'm supposed to wash the women's clothes in?) and now I'm enjoying Cheese Doodles for Lunch while my clothes bounce around and supposedly get clean in just a teeny bit of water. We'll see.

Looking forward to meeting up with some friends this afternoon. But in the meantime, I'm actually free to boodle! So keep up the good conversation... I'm sure my posting here will mean that Joel has already posted a new kit for the day!

Posted by: -TBG- | February 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

TBG when we got out front loading washer, I spent about a half hour just watching the first load - so quiet, so .little water - it takes so little to amuse me.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey, TBG, I loved my HE front loaders when I had 'em; the clothes really did get cleaner using less water and energy, and fast? My goodness.

Now, everyone knows how I feel about major appliances (the way some people feel about chocolate!), and it is a regret to me that I had to walk away from those two.

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I've got a question. Every now and then somebody (often it's omni) notes that this is now post number 396, or whatever. Short of signing off altogether, how does one know what number of posts we are working on?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Cleaning clothes with explosives? What???

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Open the Achenblog home page in a new window and note what the latest kit says the comment count is?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 13, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

BC makes me wonder- If a creationist points to fossil records to "prove" evolution is false doesn't that mean his/her faith is shaky?

Just bought some way cool Lincoln stamps at the PO.
The pbs documentary "Looking for Lincoln" is available online here-

FWIW-I thought there was an incredibly poignant exchange at the end between Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Doris Kearns Goodwin. He speaks of the let down of discovering just how far Lincoln falls short of the myth in re slavery and "Great Emancipator" fame. I thought as he spoke that his face and tone betrayed deep emotion, and she certainly caught it. Worth watching, but for those not caught up in Lincoln 200th mania I'll paraphrase her reply "the myth let you down, not the man."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 13, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I just want to let you in on something... this is like the Truman Show for you. We all work for the big man. I don't think he is Joel. I'm really not an ex-hippie. I didn't go back and forth across this country in a VW Bus. That's just the character that I have been assigned.

... not a good explanation?

I did look at the HTML page source and their is and ID on each post. Maybe that's the source of the number?

Posted by: russianthistle | February 13, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... it's on that banner ad at the top that says "You're the 345th Commenter! Hit the monkey and win a free plasma TV!"

Posted by: -TBG- | February 13, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, if you really want the stains out, go with the sabot and co-ax.

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

On kit!

Royal Mail commerative stamps of Darwin

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

SCC yes I know

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

A little shot of RDX will take care of baked-in crud, that's for sure.

You can wash sleeping bags, most synthetic winter coats and large dog cushions in that machine TBG. Not all together if you don't want a funny looking fur coat though. The old lab loses about a Shipperke worth of hair every day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Got no such banner, TBG.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that you like the new washer/dryer, TBG. I'm still trying to get used to the small amount of detergent they say will work. It does, but it still seems odd to put less than two ounces in the machine.

Posted by: slyness | February 13, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

When I open it in a new window, Wilbrod, I get no such number. Once I've displayed comments, and new page I open also has coments displayed, not numbered but not displayed.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Should we bring a Neanderthal back to life? (Ignore the $30 mil pricetag momentarily as you ponder the pros and cons.)

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Those stamps are gorgeous!

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

All this reminds me of an old book "You Shall Know Them",9171,936056,00.html
about a half-human, half simian child.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 13, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... serious this time... go to and look directly below this Darwin kit. Right now, next to Permalink, it says "Comments (246)."

Posted by: -TBG- | February 13, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh my Yoki, it occurs to me that you have clothes worth handling with care and leaving that front loading washer behind must be painful indeed. Enjoy TBG, enjoy!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 13, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

And now it should say 248!

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Nice stamps! Do all your stamps look like jigsaw puzzle pieces?

Posted by: -TBG- | February 13, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Two fity for me

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 13, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Nope. Says 250.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The Royal Mail is the UK's postal service TBG. The communists over at Canada Post produce only carpy stamps.

Very nice story for you confirmed and aspiring writer. This guy signs his first literary contract at 70 yo, for "well into 6 figures".

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I bought one of those new Kenmore front loaders in 2000 for $1100 when they come out. Being somewhat of an early adopter I went for the hype of less water, bigger loads power savings as that was when California bills were doubling courtesy of Enron. Well just after the one year warranty expired it began to jump around and knocked a hole in the laundry room wall. The Sears repair man came out and after conferring via the satellite monitor in his truck said the main bearing failed and he could repair it for $650 and I could get a $75 rebate for the stainless steel basket If I bought another Kenmore plus they wouldn't haul the broken one away. Whoop-de-doo! Went down to Lowes and bought a new Whirlepool top loader on sale for $245 which they delivered and hauled the old one away.

Posted by: bh71 | February 13, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

We would have loved a VW Bus. We would have killed for a VW to cross the continent in. We had to leap on moving freight trains and wheedle rides from unwary motorists.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 13, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Freight trains? We used to DREAM of leaping on moving freight trains!

We had to tie ourselves to the bottoms of Connestoga wagons!

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Friday the 13th just keeps getting better and better for me, just checked the mail and there was a package for me, with the most wonderful T-Shirt - thanks TBG and Yoki.

Also it is a beautiful winter day, just around freezing, no wind and glorious sunshine.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 13, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

SCC or I could get a $75

Posted by: bh71 | February 13, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

You had Conestoga wagons??? We had tumbrils!

(Note that the Conestoga was so named after the valley near Lancaster, Pa. [Padouk country], where Mennonites fiirst built them.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Tumbrils? Well, la de da! What we wouldn't have given for a tumbril! We had to tie ourselves to a rock, with the rock on top of us, and get pulled through the mud by an ox. A big ox fed on chicken manure and fish! And then we had to sing cheerful songs to the ox while he dragged us through the mud! Or he wouldn't move at all!

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 13, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know you were French, Mudge. According to the on line dictionary a tumbril was used to take condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution

Posted by: bh71 | February 13, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

143 minutes.

Not that I'm counting.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, bh, what can I tell ya. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Actually the online stole that from Wikipedia, which says "A tumbrel, or tumbril was a tipcart—usually used for carrying dung, sand, stones and so forth—which transported condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution."

Note the part about carrying dung.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute?! You had oxen> We would have given our village for an ox! We had to throw ourselves off the steepest slope we could find!

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

What's brown, and sounds like a bell?

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

One step closer...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The House has easily passed the compromise stimulus bill; zeeee-row Republicans voted for it.

I think the GOP is making a major, major mistake here in its tactics.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

They are following limbaugh's lead, hope he fails.

Posted by: bh71 | February 13, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

It's just hard to believe there are that many totally spineless boneheads in the House. Not one has the balls of a tse-tse fly.

You should pardon the expression.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, it's not THAT difficult to believe, 'Mudge... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Score one for the good guys. A Monty Python channel on Youtube

"For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands.

We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 13, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

*counting the seconds until I can get to a non-YouTube-blocking PC* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

You had steep slopes? Luxury! I lived in an area so flat I could see my neighbourhood from my office tower miles away.

Hey, wait a minute, that’s true.

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

John Cleese will speak at Trinity University in April. You can bet it'll be a full house. A question I should ask him?

WaPo's Krauthammer to speak in March at Trinity.

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

All this (Tierney's question about recreating Neanderthals) reminds me, too, of an old book, the 1997 fiction by John Case, "The Genesis Code." Let's just say, without me being a spoiler, that it involves DNA and a long-dead, famous historical figure.

Posted by: laloomis | February 13, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you had steep slopes?! Had we had any oxen, or tumbrils, or Conestoga wagons, or freight trains, or VW buses, we'd have given them for a steep slope! We had to let the wind push us along the hard-pan prairie sod!

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 13, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"In 'A Fish Called Wanda' in the interest of realism and method acting, had someone previously worm the underwear that you placed upon your head? If so, who?"

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 13, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, Loomis, there is only ONE QUESTION anyone would want to ask Cleese. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 13, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I just love you people.

Posted by: Yoki | February 13, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge is the lovable one, Yoki...

I'm the brooding iconoclast.

No, I'm the comic relief...


*smoke issuing from ears*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 13, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

New kit, but here's my question:

Sir, recent studies involving songbirds have had them carry small backpacks on their migrations. Do you think this could result in coconuts being carried disassembled in such backpacks?

Posted by: engelmann | February 13, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, we only could jump freights before the nuclear attack, since then it's all travois all the time if you can steal a dog and a few sticks.

It's so flat here that if newborns aren't caught by medical personnel they drift off in space.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 13, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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