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Diary of a Barefoot Newshound

Finally I've got a new hobby! For years I've suffered from a severe paucity of hobbies. I've kicked myself for missing out on so many nifty hobbies, like windsurfing, chandelier-collecting and cross-dressing. When I see someone in a Confederate soldier uniform, crawling through the weeds and the mud, reeking belligerently, with bugs in his hair and tobacco juice on his chin and those wool undergarments no doubt itching his hinderparts, I invariably think, "I should take up yachting."

But who among us has the right yachtwear? And who has time to yacht? Is that even a verb? The linguistic challenges alone, not to mention the sartorial ones, are enough to keep me on land, hobbyless.

But, lo, I have finally, after all these years, discovered that I have a new round-the-clock obsession, which we might as well label as a hobby: I worry about newspapers.

I used to just dabble in worrying about newspapers. Now I'm a worrying-about-newspapers enthusiast. I'm a newspaper-obsolescence aficionado.

I know you're thinking, "Doesn't sound like much fun," but the same was always said of needlepoint. You don't know until you've tried it.

Those of us who worry about the newspaper industry are a kind of community. We support one another. We grimace and moan and fret in a predictable ritual of dismay and angst that's almost like a secret handshake.

As part of my hobby, I clicked yesterday on this "room for debate" item on the Times site in which a bunch of smart and successful folks talked about possible strategies for newspapers in distress. Here's what they basically said, as I heard it: Despair. Give up. Abandon all hope. (Oh, there were a few ideas in the mix, like maybe we should charge for our online content. But that's tricky. "Information wants to be free" is a saying that's been going around, though I'd also point out that "Information wants to be stolen.")

Also the experts said some things that sounded fuzzy and academicalish. Like: "What's essential right now is that we be precise about the social function we need to strengthen, and creative and non-doctrinaire about how to strengthen it."

Okay. Sure. But I also think we need to sell more ads.

Newspaper angst requires regular readings of Romenesko, the daily diary of our professional dissipation. The typical Romenesko headline says something like, "Miami Herald to lay off 400, switch to biannual publication" or "Detroit newspapers cancel home-delivery except on Leap Day."

Here's a cheery story from the WSJ (via Poynter): Veteran newsguy gets laid off, so he opens a strip club. There's hope!

Recently I asked a very sharp news exec what we should be doing. He said, "We need to live like refugees in a war zone."

Survival, in other words, is all that matters now. He warmed to his analogy and said, "We need to eat our shoes."

So now you'll understand what's going on the next time you see a reporter running around barefoot.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 11, 2009; 8:13 AM ET
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Oh, goody. I get to first. Finally.

And, now, I have to depart.



Posted by: firsttimeblogger | February 11, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

It seems to be a hobby you share with a lot of newsy type Joel. Have you read Kinsley piece about newspaper basically selling paper at a discount?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 11, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Does that make you the barefoot recountessa?

Posted by: russianthistle | February 11, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Joel, this is brilliant. Really. I may have damaged some internal organs suppressing laughter that would surely gain unwanted attention.

But heck, I have no solutions. If I did I certainly wouldn't be sitting here. I would be a high-priced media consultant with multi-colored business cards and all.

But I do recognize, as do all your minions, some Darn Fine Writing when I read it.

Indeed, it makes me want to send this link to some of my friends. Who will doubtless send it to others. In a matter of hours your wit and wisdom will have spread across the globe. You will become ubiquitous.

If only being ubiquitous paid better.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 11, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: kbertocci | February 11, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Of course, the whole idea of hobbies is to distract one from one's earthly woes. This is why I make little wooden boxes.

I'm not especially proud if this, for it lacks the panache of that whole "crawling through the weeds" business, but it does the job.

When I am engaged in this hobby distracting thoughts like the stock market, climate change, lifetime custodial care, prostate cancer, and decreased collagen elasticity fade away.

It's almost like being really really drunk, but without the bad singing.

So I encourage you to take up a true hobby. And yes, I know what you are thinking. If things keep going this way you will have a hobby. It will be called writing.

But let's keep those nasty thoughts away, shall we? Might I recommend stained glass windows? They are pretty and can potentially be sold for profit. I once tried my hand at this.

And almost lost it in the process.

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

I've wondered at highly-paid corporate types spending a lot of time yachting. Or skiing. Or golfing. Pearlstein may be onto something with that bank in North Carolina that pays the CEO only about a half-million.

How is it that the Miami Herald can still put out a great weekly email newsletter on the Americas? So much stuff going on outside the US border.

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

At least another skeptic is doing the math about Julio (Olbermann reported last night that Julio tried to sell a second, additional ticket he had obtained for the Obama rally on Facebook before Julio realized the error of his ways):

On a second, double-snort, the last guy who gets to ask a question [of Obama in Ft. Myers, Fla. yesterday at the town hall] JUST HAPPENS to be a 19-year-old kid of Hispanic descent who’s going to Edison State College (free tuition perhaps for in-state students?) and has worked at McDonalds for FOUR AND A HALF YEARS. By my math, he started working there when he was 14! Florida child-labor law infraction, anyone?

Monday: The San Antonio Express-News has very recently raised its rates 15 percent, but has cut its content by about the same amount, if not more. Quality is also suffering--and I tire of stories about the annual rodeo (full page every day of the evnet), the silly Fiesta medals, the ridiculous fashion coverage, the oversized photos substituting for reporting, and recently photographs on the front of the Metro section titled in Spanish "Mi Foto."

We should pay more for less? I think not! I called Monday to the subscription department and asked that we receive only the weekend package, delivery on Friday through Sunday. There was a snafu. We were told that the paper would stop Tuesday, but it's been delivered the past two mornings. Clerk input one thing and told us another, I learned this morning after a subsequent call to the subscription folks.

Funny, editor Robert Rivard said, in an op-ed Sunday, that parent company Hearst is doing just fine financially. The paper is no longer a sound financial investment for our household, however.

Budget cuts here and elsewhere have proven insufficient. The Express-News is fortunate that our owner, the Hearst Corp., operates without debt and from a position of strength as a highly diversified and privately held media company that is not directly impacted by market swings.

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

*off in a corner petulantly sulking over a Certain Person's comments about yachting, and especially noting that all my yachting clothes look very suspiciously like all my weekend honey-do/cut-the-grass/paint-the-garage-door clothes*

*well, all except for my yachting hat; see*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

You cut the grass in a poofy shirt?

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I only wear that shirt when the wife and I are playing "The Lonely Bucaneer and the Governor-General's Daughter," Yoki.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

To the strains of G&S, no doubt :)

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

Adapting a common farmers' joke, you'll need a second job to support that writing habit.

Posted by: engelmann | February 11, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I noted with some interest the banner page for the online newspaper Formely Known as the changing over to "The Washington Post" in the classic hardcopy font, sans ".com."

I think someone believes they have a winner.

For years I've advocated that online news get hooked up with some other Internet business like Online Gaming (I won't bother reposting my old "Worlds of Newscraft" bit from the, or something else that people have demonstrated a willingless to pay for.

Is it too late to get an addendum to the Stimulus Package for a $100 Federal Income tax credit for a subscrption to a hardcopy newspaper. I'd use mine to fulfill a lifetime dream and subscribe to "Grit."

Speaking of eating shoes, I believe martooni and LiT were headed down that path in the previous boodle. Martooni, buddy, I guess from the sound of things, sleeping with one eye open at night is good if a little difficult to maintain for months on end. If you suddenly find that your head has been transferred into a bowling bag, don't look at me with that eye. Pulling the SchoolHouse Rock thread into this, remember the one about the Constitiution and the Preamble set to music... (you'll know the line I'm talking about when you get to it as you're singing it to yourself).


Posted by: -bc- | February 11, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

When you get to be my age, everything is accompanied by strains. Ligaments, tendons, nerves. Baby food.

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

We're subscribing to three newspapers now: Sun-Sentinel and Wall Street Journal (M-F) and New York Times (Sunday). So if the industry goes under, it's not my fault.

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

No no no...

It's spelled "Luxury-Yacht," but it's pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove."

Thank you.

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


No Duh News alert...

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

Scotty, you're a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Before I read the kit, FTB, I know someone with 3 Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retrievers, they are smart indeed, these dogs can climb the stairs out of the water at the dock, quite amazing to see, 2 compete in agility training - beautiful dogs, but active!

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

SCC That should be ladder, not stairs as stairs are not that difficult to climb, two three steps on a ladder is a little more impressive.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I think of all the minds bent to the problem of returning newspapers to profitability, and wonder whether perhaps there simply isn't a model that works any more.

And then I put my fingers in my ears and sing lalalalala.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't following the chat very carefully yesterday, but somebody likened me to a Sussex spaniel, yes? Does that mean I just won the Westminster Dog Show?

Because if that's true, Wilbrodog is just going to be livid.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Apparently not only is Noam Scheiber reading my rants, so is Steve pearlstein. From his chat a little while ago:

"Mashpee, Mass.: Mr. Pearlstein, I'm a fan of your sensible, reasoned and understandable commentary; however, I just heard your discussion with Chris Matthews (on MSNBC) regarding the Geithner plan and jumped out of my seat cheering when you analyzed the Wall Street reaction to the plan. You hit the proverbial nail on the head--using the selfish whiners on the street as a gauge of whether this is a good plan IS nonsense. Of course they didn't like it! I especially loved your description of (as best as I can remember) "tanker trucks filled with cash" backing up to the loading docks to bail them out as their idea of a plan. Thankfully adults are in charge now--and thankfully you are there to explain the seemingly incomprehensible."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Same here KB, it won't be the frostfam's fault if newspapers go under-Strib 7 days (though it is a shadow of a shadow of its former self)
St. Paul Pioneer Press 3 days, local published 2X a week, other local published 2X a month. Would still be a WaPo subscriber if we could get it. (love that old ad campaign)

Yep, as long as the guinea pig lives we'll have a need for newsprint.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I stopped my subscription to the Austin paper a year ago, but they keep sending it. I stopped it because a) the local reporting is dull and the national coverage is just stories I read on the web; and b) I hate all the inserts.

Instead, I get my small town newpaper, the Bastrop Advertiser. It is owned by the same company that owns the Austin paper. It is also appallingly bad.

Have any newpaper companies thought about providing good quality reporting on local issues? For example, Bastrop County has approved the building of ... get this ... a convention center. Wut the ... ? It seems about as likely to succeed as a Bastrop Krispy Kreme. I want to know what the heck the commissioners were thinking ... their justification for the expenditure, their reasons for suporting it. Instead, the paper is chock-full of grip-n-grin photos of youngsters winning $50 in essay contests and such-like.

What about the myriad corruption scandals that we've had right here in the past couple of years? Or road-building and traffic-light placement. Or economic development plans. Or budgets. Or fire/police/EMS services. Or all the rumored housing developments. Yano ... inform-the-citizenry-type stuff.

Every community, large or small, is a hotbed of political infighting and back-biting. There are all kinds of movers and shakers promoting their issues. There are real problems that actually impact our daily lives. THAT stuff would be interesting, and I'd sure be willing to pay a lot more than the $48 annual subscription price to read about it.

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

Wonder what child-labor laws I was breaking with my paper route when I was 12?

Every month I give the cable company $40-something dollars for high-speed internet. And, boy, do I read a lot of news on there. So it seems to me the money is just huge, it's being raked in by the truckload - by the wrong people. You need to get some of that, Joel.

If you do, the only thing you'll have to worry about is the new server-less internet, where everyone is wireless and everyone's a node. Which smart people are working on even now. But I think it will be a while. And the viruses and packet-spoofing will be a nightmare. So get WaPo to buy a cable company and a virus-screening company, too. Then you can keep getting my money. Which I want you to have. Just not any more than the cable company is taking, from me, and from you, already.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 11, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

A very good friend of mine was a smallish town police officer for a while. Lonely job, as one always has to (or should) keep their distance.

The small town newspaper beat must be also be hard in some ways. Blowing the lid off the convention centre scandal and all those other issues would require quite a thick skin.

If only there were someone within a two to three hour drive from Bastrop, with some reporting experience, critical thinking and some time on their hands that could go up to Bastrop and kick some @ss by contributions to the Advertiser.

Posted by: engelmann | February 11, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon all
Warm here today,but we just got power on after being out since 4am. Thankfully it came on at 12:01 so setting the clocks was easy this time.

My solution to papers turning a profit would be to have the delivery go back to boys and girls.When was the last time you saw a paperboy or girl.Men and women in cars deliver papers now.And I am sure they get paid a lot more then 10-14 year old kids.Go back to more kids,kids need money for video games,soda pop and candy.It establishes a good work ethic at a young age and adds more money to the economy.Plus it is down right all american to have paperboys and girls!!!

So Joel,at the next meeting of the minds,bring up the kid delivery.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, GWE. A 10-year old kid wouldn't drive to our house at 5 a.m. in a souped-up GTO.

Posted by: meezermom | February 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and, sadly, many communities are dealing with the aftermath of the tornadoes. That big storm killed at least 8, and they're still looking. The amazing thing about the storms in the metro area is that, although there were at least two tornadoes and a lot of damage and they formed very quickly, nobody died and there haven't even been reports of serious injuries.

I approve of Joel's new hobby. It is important to find something to occupy your time. This is particularly true if that time could be better spent another way. You also want a hobby with staying power, and worrying about newspapers seems to fit that bill (after all, it seems like they've been endangered for a long time). One year Ivansdad took up knee surgery as a hobby, but after three he'd pretty much exhausted the entertainment and educational possibilities and had to move on.

greenwithenvy, kid delivery is a good idea but I think we can expand its potential for savings. Instead of payment, why not promote newspapers as a civic good? That way, newspaper delivery becomes a community service, good for the service credit all schools seem to require kids to amass before graduation. They get credit, consumers get the paper, and it costs the publishers nothing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 11, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

SofC, when you work for a smalltown paper, you just never get the opportunity to "blow the lid off" this or that scandal. About 95 percent of the time, the publisher is himself (or herself; I've worked for a few herselfs) is one of the local fat-cat/wired in local bigwigs, and he isn't about to let you go ripping the lid off anything. He's in business to make maoney and sell ads, and just about the last thing he wants is controversy (unles it is his sacred cow controversy). The notion of a crusading local publisher is laughable; they don't exist any more than do hookers with a heart of gold. To crusade is to lose money, lose friends, lose advertisers, lose your connections in the Kiwanis and the Rotary and the Knights of Culumbus and the Red Hat Ladies, and then to watch your ad revenues dry up as you go out of business. So it rarely happens, and only when the "bad guy" is someone or some entity it is safe to attack.

Second, your average smalltown reporter is some kid barely out of J-school making $22 a year in his/her first job, and he/she doesn't know squat, so lid-ripping isn't yet among his/her job skills. And if it isn't some kid right out of school, the reporter is (you should pardon the unintended slights) a parttime housewife/reporter or else a burned out former wino/hippie, or just someone who has no great skills and no particular ambition to do any lid-ripping. They aren't bad people and they aren't necessarily unskilled; but they just want to punch the clock and go home at 5 o'clock and either put dinner on the table, or have someone else put it there for them -- because they have to go out that eveing and miss Dancing With the Stars because their a--hole editor (me) made them go cover the PTA meeting or the water and sewer authority monthly board meeting -- and they are a bit steamed about it, too. So you get local coverage that looks the way it does. On the local level of the smalltown newspaper, the "news" is their only to keep the ads from bumping into each other. It is basically just "fill," and everyone knows it. (They don't necessarily *like* it that way, but there's nothing they can do about it.) They seldom get much training, and seldom have much ambition. If any of them DO have ambition *and* a little bit of talent, they stick it out for two or three years, getting their ticket punched, and then immediately blow town at the first opportunity for something bigger and better.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

By the power invested in me as your beloved and highly esteemed Shop Steward, I hereby do declare and aver that there shall be a regular and sanctioned meeting of the Boodle BPH on Thursday, Feb. 26, in the year of our FSM 2009, at the usual place, at the usual time. The agenda will include a presentation by an international guest, who will deliver a PowerPoint presentation on shark wrangling and habeus corpus in the Canadian Rockies. Or maybe it's the Canadian Plains, I dunno. Or the plain rockies. Perhaps she will also address issues of edelweiss farming. Attire at this event will be "Formal," which is to say, men must wear shirts at all times, and women may wear cowboy boots (s---kickers) and FMPs, but no flip-flops.

Refreshments will be served.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so no lid-blowing. How about stories telling the great unwashed (me) about who's digging that great big hole on the main drag, and what they're building there.

How about a follow-up to the story about the little girl who was killed at a dangerous intersection (mine) concerning the timing of the long-rumored stoplight.

How about some actual data about the convention center. Estimates about the cost and economic benefits.

Maybe a story about area growth estimates and the plans developers are making right now to build houses.

I know some people in government, so I know this stuff is going on ... but why should the only source for news be inside info?

Posted by: KBoom | February 11, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

If you want your paper at 5 am, like I do, there is no kid in America who will bike it to you. Kids are asleep at this hour, as they should be, dreaming of their upcoming math test. If their parents even let them out to bike through a strange neighborhood, we are all stuck with evening editions that can be delivered after school. And the kids will get sick of riding their bikes every day after about a week and mom or dad will be driving them through the route anyway. And you honestly think that one of today's children will do the job for the same pittance that was paid in the past? Those days are gone.

The Austin American-Statesman is a liberal rag, but I'm a liberal and can't do without my rag. I likes it.

Posted by: Gomer144 | February 11, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Joel, great kit! sent this link along to an old friend who shares your passion. thanks.

Posted by: MissToronto | February 11, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who knows /anything/ about employment knows that 14-year olds can be employed by businesses if they have a permit to do so due to financial need. They are restricted to how many hours they may work while in school, of course.

Likewise, child labor laws do not cover self-employment such as lemonade stands, doing errands, delivering newspapers as contractors, selling crud to raise money, and so on.

Child labor laws also do not cover employment at family-owned farms, or do they cover making kid do chores for their allowances.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

two things... 'hinderparts'? LOL

yes, information wants to be 'stolen' is so, so, so true!!! we call it repurposing in my business :):):)

Posted by: MissToronto | February 11, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

And I didn't even mention child acting. Boy, the list of employment not banned by child labor laws goes on so long, that I'm surprised that any teenagers manage to mature to college-age without ever having held a job.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, a couple of my kids have tried to acheive that goal.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Kboom-what size is your small town? I ask because the town (population 230) to our north lost its paper when the publisher went under. It was never a great paper, even by small town standards, but a jerk with an axe to grind bought it then drove it into the ground. He sold some of the property to a firm in Mexico and is now in a legal battle because it was security on the county gov't loan he used to buy the business. After a year without a paper some retirees stepped forward to publish 2X a month. It is a hobby, and all they want is to cover the costs of printing. But-they are dedicated to learning all they can about how real journalists work and each issue is better than the last. I don't know if they'll ever blow the lid off anything, unless you count reporting about the loan issues. But, if you want "just the facts ma'am" about what was said at a city council meeting, or who met with the local industrial park planning group (full disclosure, I'm a member) these people have it covered. Maybe we do need more people doing newspapers as a public service. (don't have a coronary Mudge, I'm not saying they could replace the top quality papers)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

KBoom, all your 1:25 questions were perfectly good ones. At the risk of repeating myself, a lot of small papers just don't care. They fill up the news hole the quickest, cheapest way they can.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Without comment.

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

No coronary here at all, Frosti -- I'm all in favor of volunteerism.

In fairness to smalltown newspapers what they *do* provide a lot of times is the simple, ordinary, day-to-day "trivia" and minor stuff that every small town needs: lost-and-found, who is having yard sales, town meeting notices and events, the trash pickup this week is moving to Wednesday, the PTA meeting is Thursday, the Kiwanis are having an oyster roast at the Grange hall. There is just a ton of that kinda stuff in every village and burg and crossroads, and it is a valuable service to provide all that stuff. Technically, it too, is "journalism," and unskilled, mostly unmotivated people can churn that stuff out week after week, although it is boring as crap to the people who have to produce it. But it is a respectable and necessary piece of civic life. So even if your local paper is a rag -- and most of them are -- it still does manage to produce a certain amount of valuable compost that no journalism major ever grows up dreaming of spending his/her life on. But not everybody *wants* to be Bob Woodward, and not everybody has to *be* Bob Woodward.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy! MotP's in the house. You wouldn't happen to have a recipe for Spam musubi, would you?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Popping in briefly, after a busy first-part-of-the-day:

How about a shareware model? "Set up a free-at-first account with us! Every time you find a story you like enough to pay for it, click a button to charge 25¢ to your account. When you reach $25.00 (100 stories), we'll charge it to your PayPal account or credit card and re-set your tab to zero. Or, pay a regular subscription fee and don't worry about the shareware charges."

I'm so pleased that I found a chance to use the cents symbol.

¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢!

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 11, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

That's because you're a man of good ¢ ¢.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's something interesting. If you click on that link about the Octopuplet Mom, you find a pretty nicely designed Web site. And who, you might ask yourself, executed this nice piece of work, and who is paying for it? At the very bottom in tiny print it says it was copyrighted by the Killeen Furtney Group. And who are they? you may ask yourself. Well, here they are:

A professional full-service PR outfit. And this is how they describe themselves:

"KILLEEN FURTNEY GROUP, INC is a full-service marketing and public relations agency based in Los Angeles, California. We work with businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations to develop and execute strategic communication plans designed to exceed your business objectives."

"We think about your business as if it were our own. We develop research-based strategies that focus on your goals. We recommend only those strategies that we know will work best for you. We help you achieve your business objectives, on budget, while ensuring that your timeline is met."

"Our team of seasoned experts is a mix of senior talent including those who have worked in a corporate public relations setting, in government agencies, and as members of the news media or who have earned their public relations stripes in the agency world."

"Unlike many agencies, we limit staffing to senior level practitioners. We value experience and maturity and pride ourselves on delivering the best service possible for our clients."

"Our business model is flexible and dynamic. Through our extensive hand-selected public relations network, we can call on seasoned public relations strategists and media relations experts available to us throughout California, as well as across the United States."


Turns out the main purpose of the site is to receive donations. They take PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Am-Exp., and Discover. Wonder how much of the donations go to the OCtopupmom and how much goes to the PR/fundraising firm.

This is just a business, folks, that's all it is. This is how Octopupmom is gonna try to support her family: through Internet donations. If there weren't the lives of 14 kids involved, I'd have to say I hope she fails. But I think it is callous and disgusting.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

A problem I've seen in many small towns us that there is just not enough money in professional micro-journalism for it to be economically sustainable.

Heck, if the WaPo can't make money these days, who can?

Having said that, local/city blogs are popular these days, though it's typically on a volunteer basis.

To paraphrase an old saw -- many people who have half a mind to start a blog, unfortunately do.

I sure did.


Posted by: -bc- | February 11, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Hi Frosti! Yes, I have a recipe. Will post it as soon as I find it.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 11, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Is the collorary to that "once you blog, you lose your entire mind?"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Eye gues U haf to hav grt kamunikashun skilz to B a kamunikashun mayjur. Frm thuh Huffin'tn Pohst:

Monday, Osegueda took to his Facebook page to try to sell his extra tickets to Tuesday's event:

Julio is selln an obama ticket for 2maros event. taking offers less than ebay and craigs list which are asking a thousand bux a piece. 10:44am

Julio is seln an obama tiket 4 2maro. takn offers. 8:53am

When he was unable to sell it, he declared he would "keep his extra tiket as a collectors item," and that he wasn't mad "cuz its illegal n e ways."

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse


Here's one with pics

Although I've never used the li hing mui. That's an unusual ingredient.

Here's another more traditional recipe.

Happy eating!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 11, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I think as a favor to Joel and other newspaper folks we should publish our own shoe recipes:

I'll start-

bc's Newspaperman's Old Brown Shoe

Take one old well-used brown leather shoe (preferably leather sole)

[Trim away metal eyelet/grommets, particularly as many newspapermen suffer from diverticulitis.]

Tan and age well, as you would a side of beef, roughly the length of an 90-day early retirement severance package.

Drench in a cocktail brine of red wine, beer, vodka, gin, lime slices, bar olives and pearl onions for 24 hours. Add cigarette butts to taste.

For the stuffing, blend/puree press-room rubber chicken breasts, free donuts and coffee to consistency of peanut butter.

Remove the shoes from the brine, stuff with the chicken/donut/coffee, cover with cheese (your choice, though a Pressroom temp mild cheddar is used most commonly), and bake at 350 for 20 minutes until drop-deadline, pull it out and allow an editor to kvetch about it for 90 minutes.

Serve cold.


Posted by: -bc- | February 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You know Mudge, I'm with you on that assessment. How else will she manage to support 14 kids? How will she be able to go back to school? Heck, I can't even afford to go back to school with two kids and an Alohaspouse!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | February 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

There is a semi-national outfit here that is making money out of newspapers. The same company owns free dailies, a major cable distributor with a number of significant news portals and a TV and radio network. Every bit that is written gets recycled in at least 2 other outlets. The TV reports on the internet news, the internet portals make announcements about the papers and the TV stations and the papers make stories about reality shows presented on their own TV network. Imagine the Murdoch papers presenting "news" about Fox's reality shows. Everyone is in the same big happy family.
The journalists of the dead-tree papers are currently on strike but, curiously, you won't hear about it on the news portal, free dailies and TV and radio stations. Convergence they call it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 11, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Sadly Mudge many people use children as a way to make money - starting with fertility clinics - unless they are not for profit basically they are feeding into making money on peoples hopes to have children.

Child stars - nuff said.

My older daughter wanted to watch Toddlers and Tiaras on HGTV last night, we watched and commented, in our opinion just so wrong, and in a particular catty moment we did notice a trend amongst the parents - I will not elaborate.

This is my long winded way of saying it seems a great many people decided to benefit monetarily from the birth of the 8 babies, starting with the Fertility clinic and moving down from the mom, grandmother (there is something weird in her complaining so much now after enabling the behaviour for so long), PR firm and I am sure so many others.

Although it was not a case of fertility drugs, has a feel of the Dionne quints about it.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

MotP-thanks so much. Looks like the second recipe is not too hard. The Spam fried rice at our Chinese New Year party was a big hit. No one guessed the secret ingredient, but they were all relieved it didn't involve raw fish. Next year lomi-lomi salmon.

Look at the time. Need to get to work.


Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Might ad I am sure the media/print business is looking to make some money off the babies as well.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

SCC, was thinking advertising $ but that should be add in my 3:03.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's the recipe for my famous "Wellington Wellington":

1 Wellington boot, two shoe sizes per serving (a size 10 Wellington serves 5)

1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup Montepulchiano or other dry red wine
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup foot powder
pinch, Tinactin
3 chopped shallots
sprig of rosemary

1 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tblsp Dr. Sholes brand Jellin

Preheat oven to 450 degree. Mix seasonings, shalots, wine, EVOO, foot powder, Tinactin in large bowl and stir. Apply liberally to Wellington boot in large baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and marinate one hour in refrigerator.

While boot is marinating, prepare crust, putting ingredients into large mixing bowl and tossing by hand until crumbly. Place dough on floured surface and roll out. When boot is done marinating, place in center of rolled-out dough, and wrap dough around boot, leaving heel exposed. Bake 90 minutes until boot reaches approx. 170 degrees internal temperature. Slice on diaganol and serve over bed of rice, couscous or grits.

If old boot, allow to marinate overnight.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

That sounds like the recipe used in "Hogfather" by Terry Pratchett, Mudge.

"Get the sauce right and everything will fall in place."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad I was away from the Boodle and therefore resisted the temptation to follow dbG's link.

The IT department here really frowns on broken monitors, and building maintenance REALLY frowns on broken windows. 'Specially on the 16th floor.

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

We seem to have a stimulus bill, too!

Apart from the actual voting, that is...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, we have an asgreement on the StimPak at $789 billion, as Sirius XM radio (Howard Stern) is set to declare bankruptcy. Now that's one guy I'm glad to see out of work.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

An answer to an earlier question:

Not really gossip but...: Any idea why ditched its old logo and switched to the Washington Post logo?

Amy Argetsinger: It's a branding thing -- to signify that is part of The Washington Post, a central part of our mission. I'm paraphrasing a memo from our executive editor, Marcus Brauchli.

Also, I think it looks better.

Posted by: slyness | February 11, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge... they (those they people) are saying Chapter 11. They need protection from their creditors and maybe their expensive talent. It's tough when all you make in a month is 10 mil. As a friend said, "beans and rice."

Posted by: russianthistle | February 11, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'll comment.

You've gotta wonder if the talent at the PR agency is going home every night and putting their heads in their hands and crying. That web site cost $500 to put up, max.

Every interview has been worse, every disclosure, every little word quibble "it's not welfare." At this point, their most productive press might be from coming out and saying "we think she's a whack job too, but think about the babies."

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

LOL, dbG.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

dbG, that Web site cost a helluva lot more than $500. That might have been the hosting cost, but designing those pages took some graphics people, designers, and writers a lot of time. And I'd guess they bill out probably in the $1oo/hour range, maybe more.

I'd guess that since there's no way Octo-Mom can pay them, they are working on contingency of a share of income.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I stand corrected, the PR firm has accepted nothing for the website and donations are pouring in because *everyone* wants to give something.,2933,491045,00.html

Hosting would be really cheap, Mudge. I didn't think the website as a whole looked like the work of professionals, but, I've been wrong before. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm back from listening to Jack E. Davis, a historian at the University of Florida, discuss his book "An Everglades Providence:
Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century". The book's published by the University of Georgia Press.

To judge from the discussion, the 616 page book should be interesting reading. Among other things, she managed to marry a no-goodnik. Mr. Douglas, or whatever his real name was, possibly died in prison.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 11, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I could never understand the business model of Sirius Radio. Short of working in some arctic research station, I can't imagine paying for radio.

bc, well done sir.

Posted by: engelmann | February 11, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

EYE pay Sirius. And why do I do so? Because I listen to a lot of classical music and blues and alternative and hard rock, and the #$%^*(%^!!! CBC abandoned me, that's why.

It was a protest subscription, basically. And I will allow it to expire after the end of the first year.

Oh, hi everyone! Busy day at the office.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The Octopup web site looked like they used some scrap booking software-which you can pick up really cheap right now because that hobby crested a while back. (Accidentally on kit.) But, it could be the work of a pro trying to look like it wasn't done by a pro. (accidentally back on topic for a couple kits ago)

I really should go back to work. One of the rare working hours where I'm actually on the clock.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I understand Pandora is a good alternative, Yoki. Have you tried it? I haven't, but the Geekdottir says good things; coming from her, I'd say they must be okay.

Just was overcome with a longing to hear what Molly Ivins would say about Obama and the stimpak. D@mn, I miss that woman and her writing.

Posted by: slyness | February 11, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh, is giving, one way or the other...

*shaking my head yet again*

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

After driving through southern Illinois about 12 times in 12 months I was seriously close to a Sirius subscription, but I did not want to feed Mr. F's early adopter habit. Now I doubt I'd ever see a need, too easy to download podcasts and listen to them when the only choice is right wing nutjobs or the hog report. As Frostson says, "Hog report, what is that, a dating service?"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm... Shouldn't have used the > and < symbols...

[EVERYONE] is giving...

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, frosti. I fell to the "non-professional designer" mode because the plug-ins for leaving comments and giving money are standard, boiler-plate, throw-em-in things that come with hosting. I've used 'em myself, they take about 10 minutes to set up.

Again, Mudge could be correct. How good is the text?

I'm betting the comments portion won't be up for long.

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Slyness I tried Pandora, as it was so highly recommended here, unfortunately it does not operate in Canada.

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Lightbulb dawns (so to speak).

It took them this long to get the site up because of PayPal. Setting yourself up as a vendor can take 3-5 days. I think it took me 4, mainly waiting for all the bank confirmations to go through.

Wonder if PayPal is taking their usual %, which is under 4%.

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I can 100-percent guarantee pros did that site. Clues: look at the drop shadows, the color correction, the faux-childlike handwriting font (not "Lemonade," one of my favs, but close), the very skillful way all that text was laid into the psace, the overlapping drop shadow of the baby bottle over both the white paper as well as the mauve heart donation figure, the close cropping, angling and placement of the eight baby pix.

Nope, 100-percent certain pros did it.

And even if I wasn't sure by looking at it (and remember, I manage a group of five graphic artists here at work every day, in addition to my editing work), I know darn well a pro PR outfit wouldn't let some amateur put together their page. They are pros; that's what pros do.

Note that you can "leave" a comment--but as yet there is no page to view comments. Maybe they'll put one up eventually--but I know damn well they are gonna filter the hell out of them, and they aren't gonna post anything remotely critical. Hell, they'll probably write the first couple dozen comments themselves anyway. I think in prospecting that's called "salting" the claim, isn't it?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | February 11, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-I'm not going to say pros didn't do it, particularly since the PR company is involved. However, I am saying it looks they were going for a decidedly non-pro look. I'm sure you didn't get sucked into the scrap booking vortex, but I'm telling you it looks just like a featured digital layout from Memory Makers magazine or Scrapbooking Trends. Not that I have ever picked up their dead tree versions or bookmarked their sites, no not me.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Joel, The kit made me laugh with worry. BTW, worry has always been your hobby.

I have been told I am part of the intellectual property of my company and would (probably) not be the first to go since it takes months to train and be ready to travel on a dime (more like a twenty now days).

Which basically goes back to flexibility and the ability to memorize your lines.

Joel, you have been with TWP, what, more than 20 years? And you have truly diversified yourself (yanno, your skill set). I think you are safe.

Too bad I won't be able to make the IPBH. You should all bring a favorite shoe.

I will be back in DC around March 12 but for another (and thankfully, last, for now) somber occasion. My next depression should be over by around May 1. :-)

Posted by: Windy3 | February 11, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Keep denying it, frosti. You'll need your own PR firm. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | February 11, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Octo-mom, I watched the interview last night. The fertility specialist is as nuts as the mom and should be prosecuted for not afhereing to standards of care or something.

I do think, however, that the mom and others like her are being influenced by the reality shows like The Duggers (17 and Counting") and "Eight is Enough."

These shows promote the "notion" that big families get big attention and big money. Also, there is too much emphasis by all political parties on "single mothers" being a normal parental alternative.

Posted by: Windy3 | February 11, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Can I just also say that IVF and sperm banks enable this kind of freakish phenemenon?

Comparing octopuplet moms to single moms is like comparing a body-piercing addict with dozens of piercings to people who have pierced ears.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Even people who have their ears pierced in seven places, and may be shooting for ten. :) And maybe one or two piercings elsewhere. And a tattoo or two. Oh, and there's that thing...

Gosh, when I put it like that even I think I'm an undesirable.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Off-kit shout out:

All blue-eyed people descend from a common ancestor between 6 and 10K years ago. Read more at ScienceDaily here --

Here are two paragraph clips with a quote:
Variation in the colour of the eyes from brown to green can all be explained by the amount of melanin in the iris, but blue-eyed individuals only have a small degree of variation in the amount of melanin in their eyes. “From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor,” says Professor Eiberg. “They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.” Brown-eyed individuals, by contrast, have considerable individual variation in the area of their DNA that controls melanin production.

Professor Eiberg and his team examined mitochondrial DNA and compared the eye colour of blue-eyed individuals in countries as diverse as Jordan, Denmark and Turkey. His findings are the latest in a decade of genetic research, which began in 1996, when Professor Eiberg first implicated the OCA2 gene as being responsible for eye colour.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Guess the Science Daily article about the mutation on the OCA2 gene for blue eyes means that Crystal Gayle is bunk:

I didn't mean to treat you bad
Didn't know just what I had
But honey now I do
And don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes blue

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

We're sisters, CquaP! And it is an honour to call you kin.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Prompted to turn on the Pandora again. I'm amazed it's blocked in Canada.

No, you pikers have it all wrong with the shoe recipes. First you remove the sole, grommets and stitching, rub off the shine with a wire brush, and then soak in bootleg likker for three days, changing the likker every day. On the third day, throw out the last likker and make a marinade using the commercial meat tenderizer. "Hitler's," I think it's called. Add some salt, ramps and dandylions. After two more days, cook on low heat for 2 hours. If you have guests, run them off with a shotgun before eating.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 11, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of ways to make blue eyes, most of which do have other side effects.

But mainstream blue eyes, with minimal melanin (blue-green, blue-grey etc.) likely do all arise from the same mutation OCA2.

I'm a cousin, too, I suppose.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Little sister, Wilbrod.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, laloomis, though her methodology has always been somewhat suspect. I note that her debut single was apparently "I've Cried (The Blues Right Out of My Eyes)". I find this to be a dubious claim.

Posted by: engelmann | February 11, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating, isn't this, Yoki, about eye color. The green-eye piece is very complex. I am watching for this because in my family, after fifty, many of the blue-eyed people go green. One of my dots is really green-eyed, now in her mid 20s. My dad is astonishingly green-eyed now, and has been since midlife.

I cannot even begin to understand the hazel portion.

I have Irish relatives with white skin sans freckles, very dark hair and what we call black that you cannot see the iris.

So, coz, well met indeed.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The other thing that fascinates me is how everything I was taught in high school about genetics was wrong, but now swings toward right again. My dad is a jet-black haired, dark-skinned, green/hazel eyed Irishman, my Mum is pure blue eyed freckled red (though she didn't get the red hair, every other family member on that side did) Scots. Well, we were taught that only two blue-eyed parents could have blue-eyed children, and for a long time we scoffed, because all my sibs and I have blue eyes but my Dad's werent. And of course, now we know that green/hazel is in fact a variation on blue.

We were also taught that since left-handedness is recessive, only two left-handed parents could have left-handed children. Well, both my parents are right-handed, and two of their kids are right-handed and two aren't.

Now, I understand the mechanism (years of pouring over pedigrees and CERF and other dog health databases gave me a quick education in multiple-gene expression) so I'm not ignorant, just amused that what seems to me a relatively short time ago Mathusian misinformation was disseminated as gospel, and the science has come such a Long Way in such a (relatively) short time.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Well met, WilBrod, coz too. One of my children has funny little glittering "thingies" called nodules. A number of docs were worried about this but nothing ill has come of this. The effect is that this child is literally starry-eyed.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Why couldn't Henrietta Hughes' son get a job or hold one?

There was a story done by reporter Cynthia Benjamin of the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle on June 16, 2004, titled, I believe, "Reaching Out (Henrietta and Corey Hughes--2004 Bailout,", in which some interesting information is given about the son.

He has a thyroid dondition and was treated for free by Dr. Carolyn Mok at Mercy Outreach Center on Webster Avenue. He graduated from the area's Monroe Community College and had been unable to hold a steady job as a computer programmer for two years, but had taken a temporary job for Superior Staffing Services.

I see that there is a now a website that has been developed during the past 24 hours. I wonder who was behind creating it? Possibly the son? I also wonder if the Rochester, NY Hughes are the same as the Rochester Hughes?

The cancer profile on the mom fits both articles, and the age of the son is 33 in June 2004, which roughly fits with the current age, 37, as given by the Naples, Fla. newspaper. I can certainly understand the difficulty Henrietta Hughes would have obtaining a job at age 61. Henrietta certainly had on a nice outfit yesterday. But the son?

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Jumper, excellent.

OK, done Boodle-hogging.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Rochester, NY Hughes are the same as the Fort Myers, Fla. Hughes?

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Hi all.. My husband and son both each need something to worry about at all times. I've learned it's best to supply them with something minor if I don't want to be living with total neurotics. Now it turns out it's a hobby!

For a total change of subject, I just want to share the awesome experience in grassroots democracy we had this week. It all began in November when the Chairman of our county Board of Supervisors (our governing body) was elected to represent Virginia's 11th District in the US House.

The domino effect started and we had a special county-wide election last week to elect his replacement. We voted at our regular polling place. The Democratic candidate--and our Braddock District Supervisor (our representative to the county Board of Supervisors) Sharon Bulova, won the special election and is now the Chairman of the Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors.

The dominoes keep tumbling... Tuesday night we took part in a "Firehouse Primary" to decide on the Democratic candidate for Bulova's Braddock District seat. The election ran from 3 pm to 9 pm at the local library branch. We stood in line with our friends and neighbors waiting to vote while all the candidates walked the line and explained their positions and tried to pursuade us to vote for them. When we'd finally checked in, we marked our ballots with an "X" and dropped them in a box.

The winner was our al-large representative on the county School Board. If he wins this special election, which will be held on March 10, we'll get to do it all over again to replace him, I guess.

Now I know that this process happens all over the country, but when you live in a county with a population of more than a million people, it's fun to have these small-town experiences every once in a while.

Posted by: -TBG- | February 11, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

SCC: our at-large school board rep. Not al-large. In fact, he's not large at all.

Posted by: -TBG- | February 11, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I would like to be on-kit and say that this word is quite fun:


Not academic-ish or academical but academi-calish. Very nice and rhymes with

relish or

sort of.

However, the many syllables needs some more like

manicalish or

I shall quit now.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Find out and report back, loomis. If you can trace the precise divergences and convergences, and inform us of them, I look forward to the news. Aim for first names, narrative family trees and comical/historical/tragical digressions. A full exposition of their migrations and circumstances. Don't hold back. Can't wait for the opus. Knock yourself out.

My own surmise is that that they were all small dark hard-working unpretentious Welshmen with funny accents and bad spelling. The less said about them the better.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

CP we have strong recessive genes in the family as well, one very green eyed parent, one ice blue, of the four kids, three with shades of green one with ice blue. One left handed parent, one of four left handed children, one was ambidexterous but converted to a rightie, resulting in the worst hand writing possible.

My two kids again one parent blue eyed, one green, the oldest who had extremely blue eyes at birth and for the first three years now has soft green/gray/blue eyes (I was similar) the other light blue but hints of green.

Perhaps the depth of blue is the determining factor?

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Starry eyes are found in some individuals with Williams syndrome, CqP, but not all. Since 26 genes are deleted to cause Williams syndrome, presumably the starry eyes come from a gene on or near the deletion point.

It is good that your child has no obvious problems; enjoy the eyes.

I suspect green is a variation on brown; a separate mutation affecting pigment deposits in the eye. The background makes it hazel, blue, or green, even grey.

the Family tree looks like this:

Green-blue eyes x brown = hazel, hazel, hazel.

hazel x blue = blue, blue-grey, hazel-brown (grey), and straight brown.

I believe I carry blue/brown and a redhead gene, causing my eyes to be coppery brown.

If I carried green/brown with redhead gene, my eyes would be green-hazel.

If no green/brown BUT no redhead gene, probably grey-hazel or "light brown."

If brown/blue, no redhead gene, probably quite dark brown eyes.

At least that is how it seems to me from my family tree.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

#2 is also starry-eyed, also with no problem resulting. Another thing to blame on the Irish!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Many people are amazed to learn the dott joined our family through adoption. She has green eyes, Mr. F gray green and mine are hazel.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the blue in your eyes come from your retinas--- melanin deposits.

If your irises are uncolored, the blue shows through-- very intense baby blue. A little melanin scattered around gives texture to blue eyes. More melanin= green, grey all the way to to hazel (some "green eyes" are clearly thinly colored patchy brown eyes).

Full melanin coverage= brown in all its shades.

There also might be some pigments other than melanin involved.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

WB, I had always thought that green eyes were a kind of blue. Very complex indeed.

Thanks, TBG, for being the democracy in action we need.

Yoki! If they be Welshers, then let's break out the leeks and quick, quick, celebrate St. David's day. I am flashing on the valiant Welshman in Shakepeare's Henry V. And, every Irisher named Walsh is really Welshical when you come down to it.

DMD -- I am sure we are related and will just have to hope that some valiant Mormon genealogist will contact us with the grand evidence someday soon.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes genetic traits can fool you. I am brown-eyed with light olive skin. Classic Southern Italian right? Except here's the thing. My Italian grandfather had very light skin and blue eyes. The dark coloring comes from the English side.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 11, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, interesting about the connectedness however a child arrives. A neighbor's son -- adopted at nine months -- now at eight walks in the same distinctive pigeon-splay gait, complete with some head bob and weave. Makes me laugh; makes me think about the imprinting of ducklings on the beloved near them.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

CP! Precisely! That was love-satire, of course. For the small dark Welsher is one of my people as surely as is the tall dark pale Irisher.

Most Welshical indeed!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

RD -- I grew up with tall, blonde/blue eyed Italians who were all from the Dolomites. The miners in Italy come from the high spine of the country. Naturally, I thought that Italians were nordic looking. Although in those days, the Italiano-obligato names were a dead giveaway:

Nick (Nicolo, even)
Torio (Victorrio)

and my crushing first object of longing, a Dino.

Dino drove a white El Camino. Very cowboy but very cool. Blonde ringlets and violet-blue eyes.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the Octomom "pros" remembered to register as a charity...

And as for the latest Boodle tangent:

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Well CP, I have our full history back to when they immigrated from Ireland - Dad had a great relationship with the Mormons :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse


And all this gourmet shoe talk makes me want to see the Gold Rush again.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | February 11, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I suddenly have an urge for some shoe-string fries.

Posted by: -TBG- | February 11, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Amazingly, Joel got no kittage out of his article about the Mars Science Laboratory (about which I have nothing unbiased to say):

And now, he has churned out another fine piece of work:

The man is a space-exploration article-churning machine!

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 11, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

The space station doesn't have umbrellas for debris showers?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

For Joel, Curmudgeon, Skip (you know who you are: ), and Christine ( ) let me say:

The report has been handed in and graded, for an A. The display for National History Day has been handed in (no word yet on the grade). Mencken will get his day in the Sun (as it were; or at least, on display in the librar -- I mean, Media Center). Thanks for your help, guys.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 11, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you DNA_girl!

Posted by: dmd2 | February 11, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Anyone got a recipe for Manolo Blahnik clafooti?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 11, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Glad to help, Tim.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 11, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Incidentally, Yoki, your 7:00 pmer was a coveted three-snorter.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 11, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

(The Who)

Posted by: seasea | February 11, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I think that was my Very First Coveted Three-Snorter! Yay, me!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I may be behind, but did anyone else notice that the Gothic The Washington Post banner has now migrated from the index page to (gasp!) even the lowly Achenblog (Joel, you're not lowly, but you take my meaning)? Kewl. This is the right branding, I think, if marketing discipline is anything to go by).

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I'm so pleased for you. Mudge is right, it definitely was a three-snorter. One of those rare ones we'll always remember.

Lots of intensity and bated breathing going on in my den. It's the Carolina/Duke basketball game. I'm only glancing up to make sure the right team is ahead. Trying not to jinx them...

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

Very troubling news for many EOS (Earth Observation) satellites in the wake of a crash today between US and Russian satellites.

Read here:

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Breath-bating chez Slyness! Wish I were there. Was there. Whatever.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, speaking of jinxes, CPBoy is upstairs ensconced in a hot bath studying AP Psych. Apparently, he has a good track record with this study-in-the-tub routine. We shall call it, taDAH, the

Archimedes Effect.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

If it works, CqP, we're not going to quibble!

I think you were right the first time, Yoki. And I wish you were here, to hold my hand through all this. We are not happy at the half.

Posted by: slyness | February 11, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I gots comments:

Yoki, the WaPo Rebranding continues apace, of course. The possibility that the WaPoCo will make money as a result of the sudden appearance of a Gothic font and the disappearance of the ".com" on the banners remains to be seen.

*Tim, I'd posted Joel's Mars Lab link in the Boodle last night, and even made a lame jape about the seemingly Goldbergian landing manuver. I have some comments to make about the piece, but I was waiting - perhaps in vain - for it to appear as a Kit.

As far as the Satellite collision goes [Not so much space exploration, as "Attention associates: We need a cleanup on Isle 7, please."], what're the odds that a couple of old Plymouths would total each other nearly miles up? If someone was hurt, I'd think we'd have heard about it by now -- but still, was there a police report filed, and if so, was fault assigned in the accident? Any tickets issued? How soon will it take for the orbital tow trucks to get over there and haul the wrecks away (debris cloud aside)? And if NASA has to move the ISS, shouldn't the folks that bought the Iridium satellite network and the Russians at least offer to pay for the Station's gas? [Since the accident took place over Siberia, I have no idea what legal jurisdictions apply, but I suspect that we're looking at a "no-fault" insurance situation here.]

From the article: "Said Humphries: 'It gets down to probabilities. Space being very big, these pieces of debris being very small, the odds are very high that they're not going to collide.'" Now, what are the odds that those two satellites would have collided, and wouldn't there be an even greater chance of a shotgun spread of debris colliding with something than a smaller discrete object?

I'm a light-skinned blue-eyed Italian (with plenty of Sicilan, actually), and my Mom has green/hazel eyes. Signifying nothing, I suppose.

And if there is a recipe for Manolo Blahnik cafooti, I'm sure LiT or CP have it in their files somewhere.

Conversely, the only other shoe recipe I have is for Ground Chuck Feetloaf.


Posted by: -bc- | February 11, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Seven years ago, 37 year old Corey [Hughes] was fired as an IT analyst for the city of Fort Myers.

When money ran out a year later, they were kicked out of the home they built in Lehigh Acres.

Life has been full of moves back and forth up north, odd jobs and struggles ever since.

That changed when Henrietta took her plea for help to President Barack Obama.


No digging out this story from the Achenrooter (see the blog entry for last Oct. 16) and the research staff at the Washington Post, working late on deadline?

Of course, the interesting thing was that help was offered to Henrietta and Corey Hughes by a Republican official (not a regular Joe Schmoe Republican Samaritan), a GOP politician who just happened to have an empty $150,000 starter home in the Ft. Myers area. With a new African-American RNC chair, I guess it's a case of which party can outcompassionate the other and a real tussle in upcoming elections for the African-American vote.

And if a person leaves the state of Florida for New York and then returns, is that supposed to put him or her at the head of the line for public housing in the city that is the foreclosure capital of America?

Posted by: laloomis | February 11, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "total each other nearly 500 miles up," amongst others.

Oy, I'd love to be able to blame such things on an Exceus ex Machina, but I got nothin'.


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

And some of us come into houses when one falls on a sister.

Fried Crocs

Remove fleece lining as dressing a squirrel.
Dip in lightly beaten egg, dust with a mix of 1 part mashed potato flakes, 2 parts Shore Lunch brand fish frying mix. Deep fry until golden.
Serve with Hush Puppies and a cold beer.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | February 11, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

BC -- Vaccaro's in Baltimore makes the best Cannolo Blanciks, you know, the lovely waffle-case flutes of winter-white ricotta goodness just barely sweetened. Tis the lush and full cream concupiscence suspended on the tongue that is the entire point of a cannoli.

LiT may have another idea.

But let us not forget this lovely recipe:

Egg Shoe Yung

To be eaten with Moo Shoe Pork.

For an aperitif, we can enjoy a slipperful of champagne.

I can now take my bath; seeing Orion in the sky but in 62 balmy evening breezes. Like a Chinook, but Mid Atlantic style.

G'Nite, Boodle-Moon.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | February 11, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Oddball Canadian author Farley Mowat (one of my favorites) had a hypothesis about the people who inhabited Britain prior to the invasions by the various celtic peoples. He called them Albans, and proposed their background as very ancient sea peoples. He noted the dark hair, etc. Phoenician.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 11, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Farley is freaky. The dark skin/dark hair/dark eye is pure Celt. (Shout-out to RD_Padouk!) Like my small dark Welshmen. Like the Roma. Same stock.

Jumper, pay no attention to Mowat. He's just an aging hippy who thinks he understands all things, but really *doesn't.* Trust the linguists and ethnologists who have, like, data.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki! Mowat would have been the world's oldest hippy when they started out, I would think, as he was born in 1921 (same year as Isaac Asmiov, R.I.P. and no hippy).

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Tin from Cornwall traded to the Mediterranean during the bronze age.

Hollywood, Florida has an urban forest fire in a mangrove swamp. The peaty "soil" is burning, too (Miami Herald).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 11, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I know! And yet, there he was, a weird old man trying to get in with the kids in Gastown! There is no explanation for it. Except mine.

*Ignore him*

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm heading off to bed. But before I go, am I mistaken or did Joel promise us a piece about new prostate cancer detection? When ya get to be my age, ya worry about yer own stimulus package, if ya know what I mean.

'Night, my Boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | February 11, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

*Double Snort* Good Night, dear Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Darn, Joel has hot competition when it comes to science blogging.

I like this picture of a short-eared dog. It's 10 inches or so at the shoulders, weighs up to 22 lbs

The chupacabra of Peru?

Not enough is known, really-- as a National Geographic article mentioned.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 11, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

DotC is probably right, Yet I am by both socialization and inclination so immersed in Python, that I heard:

Tim of Cornwall.

There are some who call me Tim!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm cutting back my newspaper subscription to just Sundays. The P-I will most likely cease publication soon anyway, although it may keep its web presence. I won't miss the whack of the paper against the front door, and the zooming off of the delivery car...But I will miss articles like this, which I probably won't run across online:
This is about the famous mountaineers Jim and Lou Whittaker, who are turning 80 (they look great). I didn't realize that Jim Whittaker was involved in Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign, and was one of his pallbearers.

Posted by: seasea | February 12, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Batten down the hatches it is crazy windy here tonight.

Pretty moonlit night,but geesh way too windy.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 12, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Good to hear that Jim and Lou Whittaker are thriving.

That satellite collision seems the sort of unlikely thing that professor Taleb was thinking of in his "Black Swan" book. Iridium would never have expected to lose one of its satellites to being bonked.

I noticed this afternoon that the old, ailing Valencia orange tree in the back yard has a few flowers. A young live oak should fully occupy its site within a few years. An avocado is flowering, too, but there may not be a pollen-donor tree nearby. I think the neighborhood mango trees' flowers survived two cold snaps.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 12, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse


Timer is set on the coffee, oatmeal is in the slow cooker, cinnamon, craisons, blueberries, almonds in bowls on the counter. There's a pitcher of beaten egg-whites in the fridge, if someone can set that by the stove, along with the cheese, veggies and whole wheat sourdough a little later, I'd appreciate it.

I'm going back to bed. Sleeping in the guest room has been a nice change of pace!

Posted by: -dbG- | February 12, 2009 4:29 AM | Report abuse

We'll wheel the birds out of the hangar before we fire them up, dbG... :-)

I would imagine CquaP has already seen this article 'bout her favorite coach's (extra-arched eyebrow for emphasis) efforts:

And I'd have to say this article comes pretty close to the "No Duh" category:

*putting-a-Bacon-Explosion-next-to-the-omlette-materials-before-heading-out-to-the-flight-line-for-one-heckuva-tailwind-driven-Dawn-Patrol Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 5:00 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Thanks for the information on steroids, KBoom. They really made me feel bad. I don't look forward to another dose.

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

Going to walk this morning, missed it yesterday. We're suppose to have a lot of strong winds today. And it's still warm.

As for newspapers, I hope they stick around, although it's not looking too good now. I do think there needs to be change, an adjusting to the times, but what that change is, I haven't a clue. And I also think it ironic that newspapers kind of got side swiped on their situation as it is now. It would seem that they saw this coming, and would have made the necessary adjustments? I'm rooting for them. As for the local papers, Mudge pretty much summed them up. I read the one here everyday and for much of the stuff that Mudge mentioned in his comment. The everyday stuff.

So much of what we've become used to has change for so many here in America. Is this the work of one man or just the times? I'm hoping it turns out to be good, because the beginning is certainly rocky.

Time to walk.

Posted by: cmyth4u | February 12, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

GWE... it's a bit windy here, as well. 35mph sustained winds, 40-60mph gusts. Let's just say I spent most of last night with fingers crossed hoping the roof didn't blow off.

Cable/Internet was out most of this morning. My neighbor a street over had a big pine topple over last night that took out some wires and blocked a major intersection. She'd asked me about cutting the tree down for her this past summer, but I didn't (and don't) have the gear for that kind of work. Maybe I should have her pick lottery numbers for me.

Anyway... I'm regretting not taking down the wreaths still hanging on our windows. The wind is bashing them against the glass and I'm just waiting for a window or two to lose the battle.

Peace out and hang in there (or hang onto something firmly anchored)... :-)

Posted by: martooni | February 12, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle, Cassandra. Cassandra, I'll walk with you, if you like. I could use some hard exercise.

Looking forward to work today; one of my favourite lawyers from Montreal is in town; we're doing a presentation to a big national client based here; it is a pleasure to watch this fellow hunt. And I like the client's working group, too. Mostly because their legal department is staffed with lawyers poached from our firm and the one I worked at previously, so the relationships are all established in advance. All in all, a good day.

Have a wonderful day, everyone. I hope the weather is mild wherever you are, and that fortune smiles on you.

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Slow cooker oatmeal? Yum, I'll be in there in a minute!

Thanks for getting everything together, dbG. I'm late this morning, because of the weather. At least I'm making that my excuse!

When you get old like I am, keeping the correct temperature in the bed is a complicated matter. Winter finds a lightweight blanket under an old comforter under the bedspread. It works wonders when it's cold at night. When lukewarm, not so much. So I woke up around 4:30, tossed and turned, went back to sleep eventually, and then didn't wake up on time. Okay, as little as I like cold, it's time for winter to return. Let's get it over with!

Posted by: slyness | February 12, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! 'tis a blustery day indeed. I feared the wee little dog might be carried of by a sudden gust. And I have a feeling nature will do some serious pruning of our trees today.

Yoki, I'm a Celt? Well, that explains a number of things.

Not surprised at all by the Iridium collision. Just a matter of time.
Worrisome, though, in many ways.

Cheers y'all.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. In the great Winterlude tradition, it's raining cats and dogs. So the Canal is closed for skating and the ice sculptures and snow slides are melting away. *sign*
I don't have a good boot recipe as food but my alma mater's mining engineering has a neat tradition involving a boot. The boot toast/toast bottine is normally done at the end of the last exam of the year but it has been known to happen at other times. It goes like this.
Remove work boot from foot, fill with beer (one large or two small bottles), drink the beer in one long slug, put boot back on and get out of exam room.

Looks like there is an opening at the top of my union. I don't know the woman and never met her but 58 yo is a little young to check out of life.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | February 12, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

SCC: off not of.

A common Padouk typo much like "lead" for "led." But such things can be used to authenticate text. You know, prove these posts were actually written by me.

As if anyone else would claim them.

*Off* to the Lab of Darkness.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 12, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, Boodle!


Yesterday, the dollar took a plunge closing at CHP 594 in Santiago's currency exchange. This is due to an excess of dollars flooding the Chilean market,

A week ago Walmart pumped $1.3 billion into the Chilean economy bt purchasing a local chain of stores and intending to open a new chain of steakhouses.

Chilean investors are selling dollar holdings and find themselves awash with American cash.

Experts say that the market should stabilize in March and the dollar recoup its real value of around CHP 640.

Let's hope the experts are right.

Posted by: Braguine | February 12, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Al!

(I know that I am late)

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

*marking Weed's attendance roster accordingly* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

scotty, speaking of "Al" ...

I have been reading daily updates from the Minn. Senate recount trial and it is, while way too dangerous to make any assumptions, starting to look bad for Coleman. He is down to some damningly lame arguments and I think the court is trying to bring the whole thing to a faster conclusion.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

russianthistle, how are you feeling today? Just that wee bit better that lets you know the illness will end one day soon?

Posted by: Yoki | February 12, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, thanks for asking. I don't feel nearly as tired and I don't have the chills or achiness that marked yesterday morning... nor the pain in chest from coughing.

(too much info).

I am functioning today. Able to gripe about basketball programs and the like.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 12, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

New kit

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

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