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Here They Are, The Beetles

[A day late: Here's my story on the cabinet of wonders containing Wallace's specimen collection.]

It was in 1979, in an antiques shop in Arlington, that a young law school graduate named Robert Heggestad noticed a lovely rosewood cabinet parked behind the counter. How much? Six hundred, the shopkeeper said. Sold, Heggestad said. The shopkeeper asked, "Don't you want to know what's in it?" Heggestad said, "Not really."

It was, it turned out, a cabinet of wonders. It is now in Heggestad's dining room in his apartment in the Kalorama section of Washington. Open up the cabinet, and the world of 2009 vanishes, replaced by the world of a very meticulous, extraordinarily curious 19th-century naturalist.

There are butterflies and beetles, moths and shells. There's a small bird. Flies. Bees. Praying mantises. Tarantulas. Seedpods. A hornet's nest.

This is the specimen collection of Alfred Russel Wallace.

There is no shame in failing to recognize the name. Wallace was a field biologist who never cared about notoriety, which may explain why so few people know that he co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection.

On Thursday, the world will celebrate the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth, but Wallace had the same idea that made Darwin famous, and he arrived at it independently while collecting insects in the Malay Archipelago. The tale of Darwin and Wallace, and how one became synonymous with evolution and the other a footnote, is one of the great dramas in the history of science.

Heggestad himself knew almost nothing about Wallace until two years ago. Soon after he bought the cabinet, he contacted the Natural History Museum in London to ask whether the collection had any particular value. The museum said it looked interesting and suggested that Heggestad contact the Smithsonian Institution. But he soon lost interest in pursuing the matter. Over the years, he lugged his lovely piece of furniture and its interesting scientific collection through four different household moves.
"I'd forgotten his name. I knew it was some important British biologist," he said. "I didn't appreciate what I had for many years. It was kind of a show-and-tell piece. It's a beautiful piece of furniture."

Click here to keep reading.

[Can I just add that I have lugged around a bunch of old comic books that, upon further reflection, may be worth millions? Especially since Obama is a comic book aficionado. I'm going to cash in hugely!]


Frank Rich weighs in this week with abundant disapproval of how things are going in Washington. He declares, "There are simply too many major players in the Obama team who are either alumni of the financial bubble's insiders' club or of the somnambulant governmental establishment that presided over the catastrophe." It is probably a good thing that our society has an Enforcer of Standards, but we will note, from here inside the inner ring of the Washington media bubble, that were Obama to eliminate from his financial team anyone who spent time on Wall Street or in the New York Fed or in an oversight role in government, he would never fill his job openings. The meltdown has pretty much tarnished everyone who has come within sniffing distance of the world of money. Dear reader, if you know someone qualified to be, for example. Treasury Secretary, who has never erred in judgment in recent years, please forward the name to my email inbox: Remember this person must also have a perfect tax record, up to and including that involving household help.


I've been reading about the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia. People are dying as they try to drive away from the flames. A prominent retired newscaster died with his wife in their home. It's the worst fire event in the nation's history. Climate change is believed to be a factor.


Here's DVD in Time on Abe Lincoln:

'But he was a man, in ways as familiar as the guy next door. He liked sports, dirty jokes and being the alpha male. He flirted with pretty women and suffered occasional deafness when his wife was talking. He put his feet on the furniture, encouraged his sons to roughhouse and break things, suffered from bad digestion. And he spent a lot of his life thinking about money.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 9, 2009; 10:27 AM ET
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Good morning, Boodle. I might be able to keep up with you today.

Joel, you write about Wallace! Well done, sir.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I liked Joel's Wallace Box 'o Magic article, though something about it bugged me.

Seriously, as I posted yesterday, there are hidden treasures everywhere in this world, stories and meaning and (sometimes) thought suffusing everything. Isn't it great when we take some time to recognize these when they become apparent and take the time to consider and appreciate not only the whats and whos, but even the whys.

Plus, in this case (ahem), the artifacts not only have an interesting story, but are quite pleasing to my artisitic and scientific tastes.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I really enjoyed this article. Because, you know, I'm a huge fan of teak furniture. But those arthropod thingies are cool too.

I especially liked the even-handed way Wallace is presented, as neither an irrelevant afterthought nor a genius scandalously wronged by the corrupt power structure. (Although both of these interpretations are certainly entertaining.) Wallace was a brilliant man who was a victim of poor timing.

Natural selection is one of those clever ideas that are so subtle and yet so obvious after the fact. And I have no doubt that, like many concepts, they arose independently in many minds.

I remember when I suddenly realized as a kid that trees don't fall over because those that push out an unbalanced number of branches wouldn't be able to survive. So even trees speak the truth.

So I guess it really could be all about the teak.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Er, following up on previous Boodling, yes Virginia, there *is* a BPH this evening.

As someone else stated, same Boodle Time, Same Boodle Channel.

Though I may get down there a little early, just 'cause. Or not.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh is my face red. The furniture was rosewood, not teak. This is what happens when I don't re-read something before I comment. Although it does show that the half-life of my memory is dropping precipitously as my age increases.

Especially ironic is that rosewood is another of my favorite woods. It looks an awful lot like padouk.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I have to wonder a wee bit about Heggestad, though. The antique store guy asked him if he wanted to look inside. Shouldn't that have been some sort of clue, just out of general curiosity? Second, in an antique store, you almost NEVER take the first price; you haggle, and a 10 percent discount is the norm. When told the price was $600, Heggestad should have said, "Hmmm. I dunno. Wouldja take $550?"

Also, for that kind of money, you normally look the thing over, and ask the store person about it: where did it come from, what do you know about it, etc.

I'm not sure I want a lawyer who is incurious, doesn't ask questions, and doesn't know the rules and conventions of the game he's playing.

Meanwhile, reposting:

bc, I'm much more than perfectly willing to assert that a totally unknown rookie senator -- who happens also to be black, generally considered to be a drawback to electability -- and his team can outsmart Hillary Clinton and all her highly experienced staff and steal a primary campaign right out from under her when she was the "sure thing," and then deliver a thorough ass-kicking to the GOP, out-fund-raising them by a significant margin, and using the Intratubes and other new technology to assist in it?

I mean, bc, what's it gonna take for you to admit he's smarter than you and me? Does he have to walk on water?

Daschle wasn't his fault. He took the bullet, but it wasn't his fault.

"For many years Repubs made hay on the idea that the Dem leadership arrogantly believed they were the intellectual elite, smarter than everyone else." Don't buy into the GOP's argument and the GOP's framing of the question.

The guy's been in office less than three weeks fer crissakes, give 'em a break and stop worrying about hubris.

My entire point is that if someone is playing the long game, it is almost impossible to see what they are doing in a short-term, 24-hour news cycle world. Chess players think five, six, seven moves ahead. It is impossible to do one-move and two-move analyses of a guy who is a six-move player. That's how one losses chess games.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I thought it a bit odd that Heggestad didn't look inside either. I mean, what if the case had been filled with hashish or preserved body parts?

I mean, at the very least this might have influenced the price.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It *was* filled with preserved body parts, RD.

Hashish, now, would certainly have made any purchaser feel he'd walked away with a bargain.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

It also could have held the Soup Nazi's secret recipes.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

That's the irony of staffing, isn't it? Sometimes the most qualified minds aren't necessarily the most politically viable. Can you imagine, say, Winston Churchill making it through the vetting process? So we run the risk of driving the system to mediocrity.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Reposting: Mudge, thank God for that.

I have confidence in the long-term, and I have great hopes that the President will subtly and effectively kick a$$ to attain his goals.

What impresses me about Wallace is that he understood what Darwin had done and was impressed. He wasn't out to hog the glory but recognize the genius who had gone further than he. He got the rewards that satisfied him, I'm sure.

Posted by: slyness | February 9, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

LOL! yello

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

It's an awfully good thing Wallace did not collect powder post beetles.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I believe this is why they call the first 100 days the honeymoon. Everyone's hopes are so high, and every last little word muttered is a confirmation of greatness.

I kinda understood (ha!) bc's point that you gotta be mindful of that hubris label.

It wasn't just he and his team's higher intelligence that gave them the win. A lot of campaigns and elections is a crapshoot. The sun came out, the planets aligned, everything fell into place *and* they played their cards right.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 9, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Or any other of the xylophagous beetles.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 9, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Not much time to boodle, going through memory lane, As I toss away navigation logs,rip off pages from notebooks, to keep dairy entries.

Will attend the BPH.

Posted by: Braguine | February 9, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"He liked sports, dirty jokes and being the alpha male. He flirted with pretty women and suffered occasional deafness when his wife was talking. He put his feet on the furniture, encouraged his sons to roughhouse and break things, suffered from bad digestion. And he spent a lot of his life thinking about money."

Jeez. Except for not having bad digestion and not very often thinking about money, I coulda been one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history. I've often suspected as much. Of course, I'm not very tall and not left-handed, so that pretty much knocked me out of contention.

As for the intermittent deafness when my wife is talking, I've got that one totally nailed.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I hate missing BPHs...

Yet I shall only be with the Porchers in spirit this evening. Enjoy!

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 9, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Wallace could have produced "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection." I think it was Darwin's long development of natural selection that helped him present his views so persuasively.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

One would think that there'd be a well respected and prominent economist in the academic realm who doesn't have direct ties to the recent financial idiocy. I have no idea who that person or persons might be, but between Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Standford, Princeton, MIT, Penn, U of Chicago, and a few dozen other schools, there's likely someone who's up to the task.

Posted by: Egadman | February 9, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Great work, Joel, really, and giving it a local angle. Cheers!

O.K., I didn't buy the Ronald C. White book this weekend because I had only one discount coupon. Instead, I bought a marvelous book, one that I admit grabbed my attention and curiosity almost immediately and far more than White's volume (White's effort also 5 bucks more expensive)--about Charles Darwin, by a British team of writers, Arian Desmond and James Moore. I have read my latest acquisition at every available opportunity--though I admit that I am not far and have read ahead (Lyell, Lincoln and a Loomis family-descendant). I was surprised that the Darwin family had close ties with Charles Sumner, who would go on to become Senator of Massachusetts and would be caned to the point of unconsciousness on the Senate floor. Little delights abound throughout the book?

Why bring up this particular book, "Darwin's Sacred Cause"? Because the jacket blurb on the back says that co-author James Moore is currently researching the life of Alfred Russel Wallace.

Huband home sick with some bad bug that he came down with Friday afternoon and that went immediately to his chest. He looked like death warmed over this weekend. I don't have this illness yet. He's home, now sleeping, and I must go tend to the chicken soup simmering on the stove--to make sure the carrots and celery I cut up are becoming tender. Maybe I can sneak in some Darwin today for indeed rich hours.

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

One of the other nifty things about the cabinet of wonders, outside of the pretty wood, is that it represents a very distinct method of analytical thought.

Both Darwin and Wallace began with observation and let the theory emerge from that. They understood the need to first gather the data and then derive the conclusion. This idea goes back to Francis Bacon (if not earlier) and forms the basis of good science, but it is startling how often it is violated.

Take bloggers who search the world for snippets of data that support their conclusion. They then combine these observations and dump them out there as proof of whatever position they are pushing.

The weakness isn't that these observations are false, it is that they are selective. Some call this "cherry picking the data," or "anecdotal reasoning" and it is as pernicious as it is common.

What this kind of thinking does is prove existence, not cause. For example, if you only gather together and present examples of red beetles you aren't proving that all beetles are red, even if the number gathered is quite impressive. All you are doing is proving that beetles *can* be red. This ignores the not inconsiderable number of beetles of other color.

So if you just seek out examples of critics of Obama, all you are proving is that Obama can be criticized. Not that this is a consensus.

The truth comes from being omnivorous with information. Not just scouring the internet for information that supports your position and then pointing to it and saying, "See!!"

So this is what, to me, is really represented by this catholic collection of arthropods. It is an effort to really create an honest representation of the world and draw honest conclusions from it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Darwin was aghast. He had been developing his theory of evolution since the 1830s but never published it, fearing that it would cause a great public tumult and undoubtedly upset his extremely devout wife. Now he feared he had been scooped by an obscure bug collector."

Joel, how are you sourcing that Emma Wedgewood Darwin would have been upset? Certainly, Darwin feared the public tumult. Desmond, Mooer say that Darwin was slow getting his book compiled (about a chapter every few months, in part because of the complexity of the subject matter and also because of a house full of children and a pregnant wife (unexpectedly, in her 48th year). Again, source? I'll see if I can find the answer to this question about Emma as I plough through my own reading.

Posted by: laloomis | February 9, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know you could get arthritis from Catholic beetles. But I guess it makes sense if you have to keep kneeling and rising all the time. (I admit I haven't been following the drift of the conversation as closely as I perhaps ought to have been. But I always liked Wallace's stuff on "60 Minutes.")

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, I was reading Poe's The Gold Bug the other day.... that story never quite feels properly finished to me.

Was a gold bug in Wallace's rosewood cabinet, Joel? It could have led ya to Captain's Kidd's Treasure, you know, by way of Da Vinci's Code.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 9, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Boko, nice summation in your 12:12.

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

I'm pretty sure Scottish bugs are Presbyterian.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I knew I shoulda used another word. But catholic, with the small c, seemed like the best one.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

There must have been some godless arthropods mixed in there. There are no troublemakers worse than godless arthropods. They are no better than Norwegians. They drink like Finns and hold their liquor like Swedes. Just trouble they are.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 9, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I used to collect bugs as a kid, as I guess everyone did.

Here in west by god we have some very cool bugs. One summer afternoon with nothing in particular to do.I counted 27 different species of bugs,just crawling,flying and hanging under the umbrella on my picnic table. I also once counted 509 mushrooms in quarter mile walk with my little fishing buddy.Yes, I am easily amused.

At the river we have the coolest dragon flies with every color imaginable.

My favorite Super Bowl commercial was the one with the insects carting off the coke bottle.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 9, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of bugs, I fear that the infectious microscopic type will prevent my attendance at the BPH. My daughter is at home sick, and so my attendance is considered mandatory.

This distresses me greatly, not only because it pains me to see my daughter ill, but because attendance at this BPH had been the subject of careful negotiation worthy of congressional committee.

Alas, it is not to be.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I never collected bugs, I preferred catch 'n' release and field observation.

I remember observing a horde of insects about some goldenrod-- I identified 3 different colors of orchard bees, as well as bluebottle flies.

I must agree with you on the continual wonder of how colorful dragonflies are.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 9, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, EYE think that all of us not attending the BPH should meet in some, you know, chat room thingy at the same time and raise a virtual glass and make the people at M&S jealous of the good time we are having.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Wikipedia sez (so it must be true):

"A source of difficulty in the Darwins' marriage was conflict between Charles' scientific findings (most particularly, the origin of humanity in the undirected process of evolution) and Emma's own devout Christian beliefs."

And for the valiant researcher with too much time on their hands, Emma's diaries are all online here:

Maybe someone can find evidence that Emma was a free-thinking wimmin's-libbing evolution-preachin' feminist. Knock yourself out.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"The Reluctant Mr. Darwin" by David Quammen gives a wonderful description of Emma Darwin. She was a remarkable woman, but her religious devotion was one of those unsettled issues that often fester in a marriage. It isn't just Evolution, but a whole notion of traditional Christian notions of the afterlife that separated her from her husband.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I like the way you can be funny even yer dander's up, buddy.

First of all, I just said that I'm not ready to say that the President is smarter than everyone else *yet* - if you are that's fine, it's your opinion, and I've offered mine. [I don't remember specifically comparing myself, either FWIW, but I digress.]

I'd submit that winning a Party nomination and General Election to POTUS as proof of being smarter than anyone else seems to me like - hmmm - saying George W Bush is smarter than Al Gore, perhaps? But, that's just me.

Also, I've never seen anyone or know anyone that can walk on water, so I can't say what it takes to do so - smarts, a good sense of balance, quick feet, webbed toes?

I'm not saying that I buy into the GOP accusations of Dem intellectual elitism, and I'm personally not interested in perpetuating that stereotype. Again, my opinion.

The Obama Admin's only - what - 21 days into a 1460 day gig, and I have said repeatedly that I think they're doing a good job. It's *way* too soon for me to know much of anything about them (or him) as the functioning Executive Branch at this point.

Things are looking good so far, and I'm hopeful. They appear to be smart and capable, able to recover from mistakes and reasonably flexible in negotiations - I think that speaks well.

I don't think I'm being hypercritical here, I'm just saying that I'm personally not ready to say that they have a faultless decision-making process or the President and his Admin are not human and that success and unusual powers afforded during crisis situations won't go to their heads the way it appeared to with the previous occupants of the WH. (look how smart I *am,* the triple negative - oy).

I think we're both of the opinion that we should wait and see how it goes.

I'll share a beverage with ya later and we can talk about it. In fact, I'm looking forward to it.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

SCC: I mean a whole *range* of Christian notions.

In particular, Darwin had a hard time reconciling notions of a loving god after the death of their young daughter. Darwin eventually considered himself an agnostic, while his wife remained a conventional traditional Christian.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

On a final quick note, the effects of the Austrialian wildfires are astonishing and awful. And they may have been deliberately set? Terrible, terrible, terrible.

RD, Scottynuke, we'll miss you tonight.

And I promise, we'll hoist one to you both.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The only bugs I ever collected were lightning bugs (on purpose) and ticks (not on purpose). Thelightning bugs seldom remained in captivity longer than half an hour. I pretty much avoided every other kind of insect, especially those likely to cause pain: mosquitoes, wasps, hornets, bees, blue- and greenhead flies, etc. Praying mantises were cool, but my mother always told us they were good insects, and to leave them alone. So I did. Never much understood the attraction of the wee beasties. Most of the common ones were bad, one way or another, or at least annoying. Though I did get one of those ant famrs for Christmas once. Got bored with it within 48 hours, and went back to participatory toys, like Erector sets and Lincoln logs, stuff ya could get yer hands on and make stuff out of. I generally like to make stuff, not watch it.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

bc, I have to say that I have been gravely disappointed in your calendrical skills, as you keep repeating this mantra, ad infinitum, that Obama has entered upon a 1420-day gig. No, sir! It must be 1421, as there always will be a single leap year, and thus a single additional day, within the course of a Presidential term (excepting certain rare occurrences in the Gregorian calendar).

Tsk, tsk, tsk.


Posted by: ScienceTim | February 9, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I caught lightning bugs as a kid, but we always let them go. The only time I collected insects was for a required project for sophomore biology. We had to have 50, IIRC. Fortunately I had a good friend with a net and she helped me assemble the necessary number, but not one more. I wrapped them in plastic wrap and taped them to a board, instead of pinning them. I wasn't fond of touching them, and still don't care to do so.

Posted by: slyness | February 9, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I think John Adams is the only president to have served 1460 days

But I'm no good at math, so don't take my word for it.

Posted by: omnigood | February 9, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Believe it or not *Tim, I *did* consider February 29th, but since that's the anniversary of Pope Hilarius' death, I choose to overlook it.

For those of you who celebrate that day for whatever reasons (birthday, anniversary, etc.) my apologies.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

He was a funny pope.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Wallace this, Wallace that. Feh, everyone knows that Gromit was the brain of that outfit.

Speaking of dogs, Dogues de Bordeaux make their debut at the Westminster dog show.
Such cute mugs, they have their pictures all over the place.
Now I hope they will behave. Slamming a poodle on the ice of the Madison Square Garden or doing a classic poacher take-down on a judge wouldn't be good publicity for the breed.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 9, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Emma Darwin communicated freely with her husband and expressed her views rather clearly, if in a long winded manner (even in a short memo :-). For example:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 9, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

But, DNA_Girl, did Darwin hear her? (See hearing, selective, spousal use of.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Oops. I see RD and Yello already pointed the way to Emma's diaries.

Passed my citizenship test, BTW. For a good bit of time the interviewer and I traded funny stories about Moscow. That was a bit surreal. But not creepily so.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 9, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations DNA_Girl.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 9, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Congrats DNA Girl! I'm certain you know more about being a citizen than many of us who already are.

I've had my share of bug interactions but none as horrible as the one with the bed bugs. They are insidious creatures. They make roaches look good.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 9, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, IIRC didn't Pope "Shecky" Hilarius follow Pope Sixtus the Fifthtus, the pope who wanted the roof of the Cistine Chapel done in knotty pine paneling from Rome Depot? I think I saw a show about it on HGTV's "Basilica Makeover" series.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I'm surprised by this Kit. I had no idea the Governor had traded tips for keeping "secrets" with Nixon. I wonder if the missing eighteen minutes are in one of those drawers.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 9, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

That's great news, DNA Girl, congrats!

Ivansmom, you are showing your age. Tehehe.

Posted by: slyness | February 9, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, DNA_Girl. I checked with Scotty (keeper of the Official Boodle Handle Logbook) and "DNA_Merkin_Citizen" is available should you so decide.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Wow - A-Rod admits to steroid use:

Glad you all found that Pope Hilarious, but it wasn't so funny back then.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Yep, slyness. Actually I find this Kit and story fascinating. As one who has been captured by old furniture (but without the means to make it my captive) I think it is just charming that this man bought the cabinet contents unknown, discovered he had an interesting, somewhat nifty curio collection, and finally realized he had an Important Scientific Artifact.

Congratulations to DNA Girl!

I will be with the BPH in spirit. I may join the virtual BPH but that depends in part on the internet access at fencing tonight. Alas. The sacrifices we make for offspring - and I hope yours gets to feeling better, RD.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 9, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

:-) 'Mudge, I'm sure there were plenty of times Emma gave Charles an earful and he in turn turned a deaf ear, but they seemed to have had an amazing relationship and he was exquisitely aware of her presence in his life. See, for example, their diary on their first-born. Even skimming through the first few lines is a wondrous experience.

Disclaimer: I haven't read any books on either Darwin, so my impression of their personal life is based on still very incomplete reading of their written works collected on Darwin Online since 2002.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 9, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I think you're right, 'Mudge. And wasn't he succeeded by Pope Philipus Silverius (he was a hoot, too) and then next came Hyginus (who would have been more fun if he'd not been busy compulsively washing his hands)?

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

But back to an on-kit discussion:
The pope is infallible. Perhaps he can be Treasury Secretary. Or if he's busy, we could get Cerebus The Aardvark to fill in. He has some gummint experience.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on passing your citizenship test, DNA Girl.

I'm happy that you still wanted to become a citizen even though I am.

Some would consider this a deal-breaker, or at least give them significant pause.


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

And congrats, DNAGirl. I'm sure there is some appropriate SinFest for the occasion.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link to Darwin's Great great grandaughters website.
She read a wonderful poem during a CBC radio interveiw this weekend but I can't seem to find it.
I'll check the CBC site for a link to the radio show and post it if I don't get lost again in the entangley intertubes....

Posted by: Boko999 | February 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Yoki, Hilarius (popitude: 461 to 468 a.d.) was followed by Simplicius (468-483 a.d.). Absolutely true. Also, Hilarius was a Sardine. Not too many people know that. So far as I'm aware, no popes were named Docius, Sneezius, Grumpius, Bashfulius, etc.

But I wouldn't swear to it.

After Simplicius came Felix (the Third). I don't know he's the one who invented catechism or not, or if it was F-1 or F-2, but I wouldn't put it past any of them.

Felix III (Fee-Three, as we called him) was in office just about the time Uther Pendragon was seducing Lady Igraine who nine months later produced a gfine young lad named Arthur. Remind me to tell you all about that kid some time. It'd make a helluva musical.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Boko, I think you left it on the kitchen table.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

And Olivia Judson was interviewed too.
I thought she'd sound more Dianna Riggish but she has a perfectly lovely voice.

Work work work

Posted by: Boko999 | February 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Which Pope was the one who wanted to add humorous captions to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The official e-mail has gone out, so I know they haven't changed their minds: I have been promoted, effective next Monday. I will have a small staff and new responsibilities (without adequately shedding some of my old ones, I fear). I am trying to dodge some of the trappings of power, such as the window office in a very noisy hallway.

Congrats DNA Girl.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 9, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

That was Pope Jumbotron.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, Raysmom!

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Wish I had known about the M+S festivities ... AND whatever method I used to get there would cure my very common cold.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 9, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

bc, I drank the kool aid :-)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 9, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Back at cha Raysmom
And thanks y'all.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 9, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't feel bad, Weed. Just imagine that you're saving yourself for Yoki, as I hope to be in DC very soon and have a BPH then, too. And I'll post plenty of reminders.

Posted by: Yoki | February 9, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Raysmom! More great news! I love it when we have a positive day around here.

Posted by: slyness | February 9, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Raysmmom! The Boodle is full of good news today.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

God said to Adam, "Pull my finger." Pope Flatulus canned that joke.

I thought I'd be able to make it tonight, but I can't. Bummer. Have fun, everyone!

Congrats to DNA Girl and Raysmom! That's good news to hear.

Posted by: -pj- | February 9, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm having a bad day. Someone cheer me up by telling me it's no great surprise that, two months into the grinding search, I don't have a job, yet.

Posted by: KBoom | February 9, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Woo hoo Raysmom! Way to go!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 9, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, KBoom, wish I had a great unemployment joke to cheer you up. I said the very same thing to George Bush just the other day.

I won't be able to make the BPH either. Committed to taking my daughter on some errands, and we experienced a flooded utlity room yesterday evening that needs reassembly.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 9, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

congrats, dna girl and raysmom!

Posted by: LALurker | February 9, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Way ta go DNA-Girl!!! *Snoopy dances and confetti*

Wasn't Pope Hilarious a close confidant of the Emperor Fabulous?

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 9, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Woops! Didn't mean to be a buzz-kill with that last post! Serves me right for not reading the whole boodle. Sorry!

Congrats Raysmom and DNA Girl!

::slinking off!::

Posted by: KBoom | February 9, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I feel better, but only in spirit. The rest is blah.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 9, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Dang, that last post was much delayed...

So I missed giving Raysmom her appropriate *Snoopy dances and confetti* too!


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 9, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

New kit, folks.

Posted by: Gomer144 | February 9, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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