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Watching Mercury Rise

I'm giving up on watching the stock market. I'm watching the thermometer for the next few days. I'm atwitter (and fyi, I was atwitter before Twitter was cool) about the springlike temps allegedly blowing into town this weekend, heralding a preliminary opening of Porch Season, creating huge opportunities for firing up the grill, and generally banishing from the mind the negative, crabbed, crusty thoughts of our dismal economy. It occurs to me that spring ought to be used as a metaphor. You know? It's not just a season: It's a metaphor for stuff like hope. THIS IS WHY I'M A WRITER. To perceive these connections. Hold on while I Google it to see if anyone else thought of it already.

8:36 a.m. and it's 43 degrees F. Come on, now, let's get movin'. Where's the sun?

Please ignore the latest report on unemployment. The economy lost 651,000 jobs in a month, which is more than the entire population of Washington, D.C. But I'm going to ponder instead my next act of marination. Maybe a pork tenderloin.

I read the front page now via a mirror, which slows down comprehension but prevents the news from causing permanent psychic damage. Today we note that Steve Mufson has a piece on the huge name-brand conglomerates that have been hammered in the recession, and I'm sorry to see that it's pretty much a description of my portfolio. When others were buying questionable tech stocks, I bought solid ol' General Electric. Couldn't get much safer than that. Right? What's it mean when even Warren Buffett is getting flattened? Yes, I own some Berkshire Hathaway, which has lost half its value.

But behold: The sun is out! The hour-by-hour forecast at predicts temperatures at high noon of 54 degrees. We need to hit 60 today and 70 tomorrow, and we can be happy again.

God help me, I've got corn gluten on my mind. This is the year my lawn HUMILIATES that of my neighbor Angus. His lawn by comparison will look like something you'd see in the median of the New Jersey Turnpike.

10:08 a.m.: 48 degrees F. Gettin' there...


Today, a New York newspaper has a travel story on Hogtown. Question: Where is the paragraph on the House Where the Achenblogger Was Born? How much longer until we get that street renamed??? Modesty prevents me from saying this out loud, but, gosh, where's the shrine???


Speaking of the sad, small dreams of suburbanites (weren't we??), there's a new biography out about John Cheever, which would rate as a "major literary event" if such things existed anymore. Or maybe as a minor literary event, but, in any case, it's getting some press, and some reflections on Cheever, who, of course, is fated forever to be known as a punch line on Seinfeld. Here's the review of the book, and of Cheeverism, by the late John Updike (so prolific he produces copy from beyond the grave). It makes Cheever's life sound dreadful, almost as tortured as that of David Foster Wallace, also profiled in the same issue, the two pieces providing a powerful message of Mamma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Writers.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 6, 2009; 8:31 AM ET
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Next: The Robin Hood Budget


I read one John Cheever story. It tortured me almost as much his life.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

How on kit am I, sitting outside in with just a sweatshirt for a coat, it is 55F, I have a coffee, my laptop and and comfortable in my garden swing - really does life get any better. I guess I could have a job and not have to worry about bills, but seriously it is beautiful today, very windy but still warm.

I also not it was warmer here at 8:30 am then in DC - yay us!

Posted by: dmd2 | March 6, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh, s---. Now ya tell me.


Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

And speaking of writers, this may well be the saddest article I have ever read: Ron Charles' piece on our MIA radical youth. (And they don't even have to be radical; they're just plain MIA.)

CP and anybody else in academia, I'd like your take on this article.

Wilbrod, give Cheever's "Torch Song" a try. Not only one of his best, but one of anybody's best short stories.

Sometimes I think people shouldn't even write biographies of writers. If they weren't manic-depressive tortured souls in the first place, they wouldn't be writers (see Styron, William). The Cheever bio may be new, but the information in it isn't. It's out there for about 30 years now.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The good news: I now have a Blackberry.

The bad news: I now have a Blackberry.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

pssst, JA, do you mean suburbanites? First line in the last paragraph.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Or maybe subarunites a.k.a. people living in their japanese cars.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

You have my sympathy, Scotty. Watch out for office creep.

It is most definitely not going to be barbequing weather here this weekend; more like pot-of-chili weather, or goat vindaloo weather, or something like that.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

To hard labour convicts they used to fit ball and chain; now they give blackberries.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, my boss has been chuckling somewhat maniacally all morning... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Goat vindaloo, Yoki? What on God's green earth is that?

Knowing you, however, I'll bet that it is just scrumptios.

(If this post flies, I will have figured out how to dodge the WaPo barricades.)

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

* Too busy dodging barricades to see that omni was already Johnny-on-the-spot with Wiki. *

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Don! You're back! And you've figured out how to beat the system!! Well done, good sir!! (We naval types are resourceful as all get-out, huh?)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It flew Don and landed well.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Please let it be the scrunched up rug, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze let it be the scrunched up rug.

As I was getting home from a brief grocery shopping trip (fewer people in the store on Fridays than Saturdays), I felt my car starting to, well, surge a bit (in the non-Iraq war sense), even when I put on the brakes (which are good -- I've got the recent receipt). Once I got into my space (concrete wall in front) and even though I put it in Park and was literally standing on the brakes, I thought I was going to crash right through the wall. Once I turned the motor off, the engine didn't make a noise (no coughing or hiccuping), so that's a good thing, I thought.

I called the station where I usually take it, and the guy suggested that the rug might be scrunched up underneath the accelerator, which would cause it to imagine it was a bucking bronco or something. I'm going back out in a few minutes with my fingers crossed that that's the case.

Calling all Boodlers to back up this theory.

Nice to hear from you, Brag. Now, where's Martooni?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 6, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm not watching the temperature gauge as much as I'm watching the sky and hoping for clouds and wishing desperately for rainfall (at the top of today's Metro section):

For the first time since June 2006, all of Texas is suffering in some stage of drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

Almost 10 percent of the state, including San Antonio and Austin, are classified in the “exceptional” category, the worst of five steps of dryness, and the only area of the country in such bad shape. But the drought has now expanded to include all corners of the state, just three months after more than half the state was drought-free.

With no water in the rivers, I guess I won't be able to swim in area waters and use my favorite purchased item bought two years ago, river shoes.

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I dare not describe those areas here not aided by irrigation or sprinker systems-- or a watering can.

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Joel, you are confusing the stock market with your Amazon rating. At this point it's just pretend money. Remember the market indicates what you would get if you were to sell right now. You aren't doing this, so throw another shrimp on the barbie and chill. But you know this intellectually as much as I do.

Of course, who am I to talk? Physician heal thyself. The stupid thing invades my brain as well. And here's the thing. During the big post-tech bubble collapse I paid absolutely no attention to the market. I lost, like, I dunno, *hundreds* of dollars in market value and never noticed.

This is because I spent much less time on the internet back then. So that's the problem. Toxic information overload.

So here's the situation. Everyone needs to stop following this stuff on a minute by minute basis, and instead just wait and read the daily summary in the Newspaper. And if that is still too alarming, well, don't read the Newspaper. Still buy it, of course, but use it for other purposes.

Like, you know, grilling.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I found that article very irritating, in the incessant tradition of bemoaning the worthlessness of "kids these days ..." Recently, the chorus comes mainly from those who came of age in the '60's. I remember being in college in the early '90's and hearing the previous generation complain about how terrible it was that there weren't more protests on campus, and how it must mean that we were all apathetic. No, I didn't feel a need to march and chant, and no, that doesn't mean that I didn't care. I think that overall, kids today are getting the same bad rap.

Yes, there's basic knowledge that my students don't have, and that they would have if they were more active readers of more than escapist fiction. But just think about how many young people were active (leaders, in fact) in the Obama campaign. And how the amount of time they spend volunteering keeps going up -- which, frankly, is putting action in place of self-important discussions in the dorm o' nights. They really are interested and engaged, even if they're not necessarily rebelling against their parents through their literature choices. I recognize my own Pollyannaish tendencies, but nevertheless, I think that they (and we) will be all right.

Posted by: -bia- | March 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Hey omni & Don!

(Not to be confused with Bert & Ernie)


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Hey Scotty, hey Don. and who is this Al person everyone keeps saying Hi to (teehee)(I think I actually figured it out


*Deity of your choice...

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Um, omni, that is *not* a proper recipe for goat!

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the mercury is falling here so I'm not going to watch it either.

I have not completely read any John Cheever, though I used to own a few of his books. I 'lost' the books somewhere along the way.

In almost everyway, I read to travel somewhere else, and like a bad vacation, I'd rather not take a trip to Cheeverland. There are many more worthwhile books out there.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

ftb, methinks that you (or, rather, your car) are deep dodo.

Omni, that goat vindaloo recipe gives me the creeps. The stricktly food part seems OK, but the rest is just wacked. "After you are done with the goat, slaughter it..." After you are done doing *what* with the goat? Or do I not want to ask?

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

SCC: ftb, you are *in* deep dodo

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

World traveling boodle- I will be doing a presentation at the FIRST Lego League Robotics World Festival in Atlanta on April 16th. Any recommendations on a hotel, walking distance from MARTA and to the Georgia World Conference Center would be most welcome. I've got a list of 5 possibles, but boodler first hand reports are always best. (Walking distance=2 miles or less, I'll be shlepping stuff)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Goat isn't my favourite but kid is ok. I've had darn good Jamaican style jerked kid and pretty good lime marinated barbecued kid too.

Um, I thought the brits were unto sheep myself. I think its Austrians that have the bad reputation with goats.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

*This* is a proper recipe for vindaloo, which is elaborate in its preparation.

Vindaloo Paste:

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
3 hot dried red chillies
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds
3 inch stick of cinnamon
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons salt

10 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions peeled and sliced into rings
3 tablespoons water

Ginger / Garlic Paste:
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons water

The Meat:
2 lbs of stewing goat

Additional Spices:
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric


Grind together all the spices for the Vindaloo paste, then add the tamarind and salt, mix well.
Heat the vegetable oil in an ovenproof casserole over medium-hot heat. Then fry the onions, stirring often, until they turn dark brown and become crisp.
Remove the onions from the casserole and place them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Put the onions in a blender with 3 tablespoons of water and blend together into a smooth paste.
Mix the onion paste together with the ground spices and vinegar to make the Vindaloo paste. This can be prepared in advance and kept cool.

Make the ginger / garlic paste:

Blend the ginger and garlic together in a food processor with a little water until it is a purée.

Add the meat to the oil left in the casserole after frying the onions. Turn up the heat to medium-hot, then batch fry all the diced goat, setting aside when lightly browned.
Set the temperature to medium and put the ginger / garlic paste into the casserole. Fry for a few seconds while stirring.
Add the Additional Spices (turmeric and ground coriander). Continue frying and stirring for a few more seconds.
Add the meat and its juices to the casserole, then add the Vindaloo paste and stir it all together.
Add half a pint of water, stir again and bring to the boil.
Turn the temperature down and simmer the Vindaloo with the lid on for at least one hour. Alternatively, cook it in the oven for at least an hour and a half at 160ºC until the meat is tender. Stir the mixture frequently, adding a little water if necessary to ensure it does not dry out.

Yoki again: I sometimes add more fresh red chilis, but only for a select audience. This is plenty hot enough as it is written.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

There was that decent place on Peachtree...

Yello should be able to help frosti.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

um, yeah...RationalWiki can be a bit perverse

Here's another goat recipe:

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Tea lovers anyone???

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

YAYYYYYY! It *were* the scrunched up rug after all. So, I'll say it again: YAYYYYY!

Therefore, Don, I am neither nor in deep doo-doo. YAYYYYYYYY!

One less thing to worry about. *whew*

Deep kimchi, on the other hand (and, yes, it's close to lunch time) is really, really good. I *love* kimchi. Doo-doo, I can do without.

Yoki, your vindaloo goat recipe sounds scrumptious. While I'm not a red meat-eater normally, I would certainly adjust my principles to take part in that bacchanal, mainly because I love hot and spicy food. So, how do you convince the goat to take part in this?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 6, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

OK I'll stop kidding around now.

All this talk about goats has gotten me hungry any to lunch

(hehe, I said kidding

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Such is my charm and beauty, ftb, that goats line up around the block volunteering for the pot.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Referring to the article about college students' reading choices, maybe it's the herb. It may be difficult to follow the heavier reads when your pot has 15-25% THC. Back in the olden days of the 60s and 70s, not only did the kids have the draft and civil rights movements, etc. to rail about, but they were also smoking weed that had 5% or even less THC. So it was easier to smoke a jay and finish the book, then be alert enough to smoke another and hit the protest. Nowadays, the kids take two hits of the diggity-dank off the three-foot glass waterpipe and veg on the couch in front of a thousand channels. And fall asleep.

Was there a protest today? Oh, $h*t, it's not even today anymore...

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 6, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

As I have said a few times before we have a small but significant Somali minority in Ottawa. They love their goat meat. So in some stores with a significant Somali clientele you fing complete frozen kids in the freezers. The whole carcass without the head and hocks though, skinned and wrapped in what looks like burlap. They look like skinny lambs, really.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Cool! We can only special-order whole kids or goats around Eid al-Fitr; the rest of the year you don't see them. Frozen goat parts are available all year.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

You guys are starting to make this old goat a bit worried.

I thought Yoki and I got along so well because of so many of our common interests. Now I'm beginning to suspect I'm just another pretty vindaloo.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I've got two whole kids that you could have. Probably wouldn't want to eat them, though. And you might get arrested for slaughtering and consuming them.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Which is ironic, because I've got two kids at home you guys can have. So please, take one (or more)! And ftb, one of them is a maniac kimchi fanatic.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I must post now to firsttimeblogger before backboodling a bit:
This happened to me, Jumper. Prior to that I would have sworn these people with the "stuck accelerator" were idiots, imagining they were on the brake, etc. No. It really happens. Thank the stars I was quick to turn off the ignition. It happened twice, and then never again. But it can happen. Be extremely careful and ready to hit the ignition key.

I can only blame a haywire computer.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Rats. Gomer beat me by mere seconds.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Not *just* a pretty vindaloo, 'Mudge.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

How do you get the goat agitated? Does he have to be stewing about something, or can he be having an otherwise good day?

Posted by: LostInThought | March 6, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I thought she specified young goat.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 6, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

ftb-my brush with faux brake failure was caused by a scrunched up empty water bottle. The rug is certainly a possibility.

Off to town. Hope the freezing rain holds off until tomorrow.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mudge. Youth has its benefits.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 6, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I would think fainting goats would be easier to work with...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

And of course, this point in time is a really really wonderful opportunity to try and sell these things...

*raised eyebrow*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

LiT, you know me well enough by now to know what gets my goat.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

mudge, if people were being drafted today, there would be radicals. whether they would read radical books, not so sure. however, they would not only watch but produce radical videos for youtube.

maybe part of the difference is that radicalism for it's own sake seems pointless. being progressive and getting things done is viewed as positive. (of course, i'm in a environment with an unusually progressive student body - the voting area associated with our esteemed institution of higher education goes 90% democratic). i've witnessed many student protests and marches (even been in a couple as a grad student). just not the kind where you occupy a building or get arrested.

Posted by: LALurker | March 6, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Happy Friday everybody! I'm off work so I am in a very good mood today. And like Joel, I too am looking forward to a sunny, porch-sitting day. I may even fire up the grill this evening. I can't think of anything better to do when the temps hit the 70's! Here's a song for all of you to enjoy it by...

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 6, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Found a b for the suburbanites -- thanks!

Also added a link, in first graf, to the Pearlstein column today, a Litany of Misery. Yikes.

Posted by: joelache | March 6, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The goat I've eaten isn't as red as most red meat-- a little more chickeny than lamb, actually. Definitely good for vindaloo.

Mudge on the other hand, would be very bad in vindaloo.

Gomer, not sure it's the weed; it's more that the baby boomers were a very large demographic facing an uncertain future.

I think nowadays students come to college a bit more aware of social injustice and activism. I did one civic march and demonstration when I was 13. Been there, done that. Fun when it works.

Secondly, a lot of these students have had a crazy uncle or aunt (or granny) who were arrested for protesting nukes or such liberal causes.

Fact: nukes still exist and the world's not blown up yet.
Fact 2: Their crazy relatives are still complaining about that and reliving the golden old days of civil rights, police beatings, etc.

The youth of today are rebellious and radical-- they're rebelling towards common sense.

At least that's my defense. Those liberal profs need to get with modern times and realize that their apathetic students might well be blogging about issues they care about-- they just don't speak up in class about it.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

But goats are nasty right? Not fuzzy and cute. Because, you know, I have these issues about fuzzy and cute.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

They have weird eyes, and billy goat smell a mile away. That help, RD?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

did some one say cute?

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey frostbitten1,
Are you, by chance, coming to N.C. for Robot Rumble?

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 6, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I just want things to stabilize. It's like being in an aircraft in a steep dive. Sure, the view is prettier at 30,000 feet, but level flight at 12,000 is survivable. It's the anxiety about hitting the ground that is most vexing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say this is cute, nor would I say it's nasty...oh wait maybe I would:

back in my day that ride would be called 'sweet'. kids today would call it 'nasty'

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

And goat is a fruit; is grows on argan trees.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

i have found that cooking on the grill is a good antidote for seasonal affective disorder. nothing like standing out next to a charcoal fire during a snowstorm at night to make you start to feel rugged and triumphant. and if you drink beer while cooking, so much more the glory or it all. and of course there's the smell, which is all good. and then there are the admiring looks from neighbors who envy your boldness (while questioning your sanity, maybe). and after all that you get to eat something tasty. nothing beats a nice hunk of beef. so fire that bad boy up, mr. joel, no matter the temp or the precipitation.

Posted by: butlerguy | March 6, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's because protests alone don't seem to change things as much as the protestors wish. Although I knew that, I did go to one protest in the last few years. It was to impeach Bush & Cheney. I wish it had happened then. I didn't see anyone obviously ready to storm the local Republican HQ at the time...

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 6, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Is "permanent psychic damage" available as a boodle handle?

Posted by: Raysmom | March 6, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

'Zackly, butlerguy. We used to grill all year long, in fact have had grilled meats on Christmas day. I expect I will get a little grill for the balcony one day soon.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Sheesh, if I'm supposed to be 'doing more with less,' how is it I'm doing *less* Boodling rather than *more*? Bah.

ftb, glad to hear you've got the Flying Carpet situation under control (or is that a Flying Floor Mat?).

Goats are wonderful, but I'm always disconcerted when served a goat dish. When confronted with such a situation, there's an echo across the Psychic Maelstrom/Black Hole and EmotoIntellectual Tilt-a-whirl acretion disk between my ears, "Donner Party, Donner Party, your table is ready. Now serving the Donner Party..."

As I always say, it ain't easy being me.
Dramamine helps.


Posted by: -bc- | March 6, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I so *totally* want my own private submersible. The definition of cool. I'm a little short on the price tag however. Can you spare me a few $?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I, too, was in college (a little later than most - after the Army) in the early 90's. I remember the same things said about my generation (like someone above mentioned). We had no big things to protest over and we were called apathetic. My question is, what's wrong with being content? It was A-ok for me!

But the most beautiful thing I think I ever saw was in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the number of people from all corners of the country, getting out there and protesting the coming war. It was mind boggling. I had never seen crowds like that in my lifetime. For the first time ever, I saw activism. And it looked to me like the majority. Unfortunately the MSM did the bidding of BushCo. and refused to cover all of that.

Even better, though, was watching Barack Obama at his heights through the battles of 08 - and the record-shattering crowds he drew. It was like seeing MLK or JFK or whoever. I saw a real movement; and its not just here, people all over the world are following this.

2009 is a great year to be alive. Even though times are rough, I believe things will get better. And I am STILL so happy Barack Obama won the election.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 6, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I hear or read about the Donner Party I think of reindeer.

unfortunately for me Dramamine doesn't help

Blitzen Vindaloo

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

bc wrote:
"Goats are wonderful, but I'm always disconcerted when served a goat dish. When confronted with such a situation, there's an echo across the Psychic Maelstrom/Black Hole and EmotoIntellectual Tilt-a-whirl acretion disk between my ears, "Donner Party, Donner Party, your table is ready. Now serving the Donner Party..."

As I always say, it ain't easy being me.
Dramamine helps."

I totally hear you on that, bc.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 6, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

NASA's Kepler mission is due to launch tonight, about quarter to 11. The question that every kid asks when they hear I'm an astronomer: "Are there aliens?" Kepler won't answer that question, but it will help us understand if there's anywhere that they could live.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I'll take two submersibles. Anybody have a yacht I can borrow for the weekend?

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 6, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Gomer, mine's in drydock. ;)

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 6, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

how about this yot:

Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Why is the comment software so much better here than it is in the discussions? I hate the fact that I can click a button to register a comment in a discussion and... nothing happens. The Post button briefly blinks, but that's it. The screen does not repaint (at least, not on a reasonable time scale), I do not see my comment appear, I do not get an acknowledgment that I have posted a comment, the "Post" button does not change or disappear. I have no idea whether my comment actually has been registered, and there seems to be a long latency before a new comment actually gets displayed. Is a moderator checking every comment? If so, why is there no automated acknowledgment to let you know that your comment has been sent to the moderator?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I guess it's not a 'discussion' that irritated me, although they use the same software, I was attempting to comment on the review of 'Phoebe in Wonderland' (at last check, it claims that no comments have been posted, which should not be correct). The review may be right about the general quality of the movie, but I can say from some experience that the things that O'Sullivan cites as unrealistic and an example of weak material sound extremely familiar and terribly true-to-life to me. I know of at least one boodler in a similar situation as me (not calling out names). I suggest you go read the review, then come back here to discuss it where the commenting software works reasonably well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I should give the link!

The review of 'Phoebe in Wonderland':

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Of course, when you look back at the rare times Obama mentioned earmarks in his campaign speeches, you recognize that he never came out and said that they were a bad thing; he only lamented that they were done in secrecy. As long as they're posted on the Internet, his objections dissipate . . .

Democracy Hypocrisy
(as reported by our paper's reporter in Washington, D.C., Gary Martin, teased on the front page as "$56 million in S. Texas warmarks"):

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is the U.S. senator responsible for slipping $10 million into the omnibus spending bill for the environmental restoration of the San Antonio River south of downtown, yet, according to Martin's reporting, she joined a chorus of Republicans "disappointed " that the Senate failed to do away with wasteful spending.

Also on the hypocrisy list is Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who voted against the massive spending bill approved by Congress last week, despite attending a joint news conference recently to tout his $1.2 million earmark for improvements at San Antonio's airport.

Smith said, "I stand by the requests I included, but I do not support the enormous increases in spending for government bureacracy that make up the vast majority of this bill."

Martin points out that Obama tucked into this same bill, while he was a senator, $30 million for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

i have always hoped to get to know an astronomer, mr. science tim. do you take questions from the audience?

Posted by: butlerguy | March 6, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I glanced at the post and saw the phrase "the rare times Obama mentioned earmarks" and immediately knew the author. Loomis, I know this issue is important to you. However, being entirely predictable is equivalent to saying that you are not thinking and reasoning about an issue. It's why I think Antonin Scalia should leave the bench and George Will should shut his neurasthenic yap: because I need only hear the barest description of an issue before I can predict precisely the opinion that either man will form. End result: I don't need them to say anything, because they have become mechanical. Software could do the same job, more cheaply and more thoroughly.

(I should note: today's boodle-hogging has been enabled by a state-mandated furlough for cost-savings, which is ironic; I am paid by a federal grant, so furloughing me actually costs the state money by costing them overhead on my salary. However, furloughing the federal grant recipients along with state-funded personnel is an expression of social equality, which is ultimately a good thing.)

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Questions from the audience? Sure, bring 'em on!

However, having just boodle-hogged for a while, I need to go work on my pot of vegetarian chili and package my banana-nut bread and gingerbread for a bake sale. It may be a little while before I can reply.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bailey.

The cape that comes with being the Jackson Pollock of the English Language does not rest easy on these shoulders of mine. Though it is easy to spot on a coatrack.

*Tim, I've been keeping an eye on the Kepler launch, too. I don't think the conditions or the trajectory will permit viewing of the launch from this far up the East Coast, but I'll look anyway.

The Kepler mission's interesting to me in relation to that long-running Boodle theme I've kept up for years now; the idea that we're finding better ways to look into the universe, but what I think we'd be most happy finding Out There is ourselves -- and our place in it.

And Kepler has a huge mirror in it, too.

Mirror, mirror in the sky
Tell me of my world and -- why?


Posted by: -bc- | March 6, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

That's a very profound point SciTim. If a person never surprises you with his or her opinion, that person seldom adds anything useful to a conversation.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Back from killing myself on the treadmil (for my health, no less).

ftb, I'm glad your car trouble was minor. It's my nature to be overly pessimistic. You know, people who always expect the worst are rarely dissapointed.

Gomer, Tim, no cigar on the yacht, but such a deal I can get for you on a big honkin oil tanker. Only driven by little old Greeks on Sundays. Great mileage, 250 gallons per mile. Needs some body work.

Mudge, you've only got to worry 'bout Yoki gettin' your goat when she starts grabbing your thigh and squeezing. Otherwise, no worries.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, my two cents worth on the Ron Charles article.

First, I think he missed the target a bit by confining the discussion to "radicals," and also using a fairly narrow description of what a radical might be. I doesn't bother me that today's college kids aren't reading books by "those" old radicals of the 60s, nor *any* radicals at all, of any stripe. It was that it appears to me that *all* college kids, even the happy, contented ones, aren't reading *anything* by *anybody,* never mind Growing Up Absurd, Summerhill, Wretched of the Earth, or Steal This Book.

What disturbs me isn't lack of political radicalism, but rather, just general lack on intellectual curiosity of non-conformism, of experimentation, and testing of limits, and generally being inquisitive AND a bit rebelious in general, that's all.

College is a time for being introduced to and reading all sorts of new and different things, of being exposed to new/different literature, art, music, whatever -- not "Twilight" and American Idol, fer crissakes. They should be reading Moliere and Racine, and Hume and Locke and a ton of others, and staying up all night arguing about the meaning of life and the universe.

It's not lack of radicalism that bothers me; rather, it is total capitulation to conformity, to acquisitive materialistic, bland cookie-cutter culture. They should be chomping and the bit and dying to get out there and kick this older generation's butts.

Bailey asks if there's something wrong with being content. Well, yes, actually, maybe there is. Or rather, maybe it is that there are times in life when contentment is OK, and times when it isn't. And being in college isn't one of those times. College is butt-kicking time, wing-spreading time, finding out who and what you are time, figuring out what you want to do and even what you *can* do, are capable of doing. It is time to experiement, time to go out and find the world, time to go get roughed up a bit by it. Backpack across Europe. Go work in a kibbutz or a soup kitchen. Learn to cook and clean for yourself, learn how to live by yourself. Learn about the opposite gender (for most people), or even just your own. Learn about love and sex. Learn about living out in the world, instead of at home with your parents. Go get drunk and laid and hired and fired. Let somebody break your heart.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

We are go for the next Shuttle launch STS-119 on March 11th!

Posted by: Radz | March 6, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, those darn lottery folks keep picking the wrong dang numbers, otherwise I'd be glad to help.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Don!! I am a model of womanly modesty and decorum at all times, sir. You cut me to the quick, you really do.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I have tried goat twice. First at a Texas barbecue. A bit heavy and quite greasy. The sauce and smoke flavor was good.

Second, one Easter we decided to go nontraditional and went to the Indian place. There was a private party going on but the curried goat was available to all who partook in the buffet. That goat was very good indeed.

I vote that Bailey be exempt from the charge of complacency in college, because of the immediately prior Gulf War service.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 6, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

May the Fairing Fairy be with the Kepler mission Science Tim!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you having full-nest syndrome?

By the way, books cost money, which college kids do not have. Therefore, book sales only indicate a small fraction of what college students are actually reading-- and not just for class.

They could be reading from the library; swapping second-hand books, or hitting

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I wasn't complacent in college post-Gulf War I.

Simultaneous work, school and raising a family didn't leave time for anything remotely resembling complacency, but that's my fault.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the furlough, Tim.

I'm now merely retired, which meant I spotted the lengthy NY Times Magazine story on Cheever this morning. Remarkable that he never finished high school, and kind of impressive that he was right about being mistreated by the New Yorker. Apart from that, does anyone expect a highly creative writer to have a boring personal life? (Then again, I just read a brief story on Guy de Maupassant).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 6, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, you're right about Bailey's Gulf War experience.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Recreational reading seems cheaper now that Amazon is around. Not to mention that old issues of finding out about books, and getting your hands on them have faded.

But with all that, sale fliers from university presses still bring up neat stuff. Regardless of the poverty of retirement, I've ordered "Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery by Steve Nicholls (University of Chicago Press, 448 pages, $30).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 6, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you're all that, and a hellofa cook. How else do you size up a good leg of old goat?

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 6, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

When I worked in Mexico City our shop shared a three-story block long building with a restaurant on one end with a big pit barbecue that specialized in Cabrito. Barbecued kid. They spread eagled the front half on spits angled out over the coals. At lunch they would have a half on a big chopping block and hack off a plate full with a big cleaver. Delicious. My Mexican engineer's wife wouldn't eat it. She claimed it was really baby burros.

Posted by: bh72 | March 6, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I hear you. From my position in the classroom, I can't say what the students are arguing about when they're up all night. I will say that plenty of the students here are learning to take care of themselves in the real world, since lots of them are putting themselves through school. Many of them come from very small southern towns, and just being on campus puts them in contact with lots of people and ideas that they've never encountered before. They're reading Moliere et al in class -- do you want that they read those on their own? Not particularly likely for the majority in any era, I'd say. True, from what I can tell, there's not a lot of rejection among this bunch of their parents' political and religious stances. (But then I never rebelled against mine, either, though I did learn a lot about myself across that young-adult time period.) The lightbulb-flashes of excited intellectual curiosity are rare, but I do see them from time to time, and there are a few shining stars with the lightbulb on almost constantly. So, upshot, it's a mixed bag, and I'm not comfortable with tarring a whole generation with the "total capitulation to conformity" brush.

Posted by: -bia- | March 6, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I've done personal submersibles, during my younger days during a vacation to Upstate New York.

'twas made of oak as I recall, and quite small - I had to crouch down when I shut the hatch (such as it was). Put in off of Goat Island on the Niagra River.

All was well for awhile, but then there was a bump and the next thing I know a very nice Canadian person was pulling me out of my Sub and offering me on of those really good 9% Molsons they have up there. I took it - even though it was my sixth of the day - had had a look at my pride and joy. She was taking on water, and pretty banged up - fortunately, the insurance covered it (they sent me a tube of caulk).

That was one heck of a headache I had the next day.


Posted by: -bc- | March 6, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

GatorWorld in Gainesville: Florida's only four-year theme park, but feel free to stay as long as the tuition money holds out.

When in Atlanta I have been staying with my brother in Sandy Springs except for the time I was at the Georgia Tech Conference Center which is across the street from the bookstore and two blocks from my son's fraternity.

The Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta was the first ever atrium hotel when it was built in 1967. The revolving restaurant at the top had a great view then but has been hemmed in by all the other high rises.

The Sun Dial atop the Westin Peachtree is still the best view and this round 72 story hotel still defines the skyline.

The Hilton Atlanta and the Omni CNN Center are probably the two closest to the GWCC.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Butlerguy, your 12:54 had me ROTFLMAO.

Frosti, there're a Hampton Inn and an old Marriott within walking distance of the Georgia World Congress Center. Everything else will be a taxi ride, unless the conference runs shuttles. The last time I was there, the International Association of Fire Chiefs did have shuttles. Here's the website, there are maps:

I'm going that way in a couple of weeks to see the terracotta soldiers and the King Tut exhibits. If I find anything good, I'll let you know.

My experience with the younger generation is that they are focused on getting started and finding their place in the world, not so much on politics. They do have their opinions, but such is not an overriding passion. They are curious about things that interest them.

Posted by: slyness | March 6, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Now it is definetely porching time in Santiago. Don't need to watch the mercury to know it's hot.

Writers are deranged. 'nuff said on that subject.

Today went to the largest flea market in the world and walked off with a used fridge guaranteed for one year. Will do some porching with iced pisco sours tomorrow.


Posted by: Braguine | March 6, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

You've clearly got your priorities in order, brag! Getting the internet before worrying about food preservation. Exactly as I did when I moved.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I think it is the prerogative of every generation to consider subsequent generations as going straight to hell. It's sort of like a tradition.

Now I don't hang with too many of them young hepcats so I can't really say what the dope fly is with them all.

But I do suspect that they will muddle through just fine. Things like social networking sites, constant communication, and a never-ending flow of information are creating a complexity and approach to life that is fundamentally different from that of their elders. And that isn't necessarily bad.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

one thing that undermines charles' argument is that books about (and by?) obama are the other popular topic among college students. (and the younger generation certainly helped obama win, as already mentioned.) what's so apathetic and conservative about that?

Posted by: LALurker | March 6, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Many of these articles about the economy talk about how things are almost as horrible as they were in 1982. This bothers me. I loved 1982. It is one of my favorite years.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Bia, Bailey, Snuke, LALurker and others on the young adult (non radical version),

I am fried a bit from spending time with them in conference. But a few comments that might appear disjointed.

1) Incredibly tolerant generation about lifestyle, even those of more conservative backgrounds -- I really appreciate this stance toward each other.

2) Smart in some ways, in terms of college-prep work (AP, IB, etc.) but not that wise because they are younger by development than we were. Many sociologists note that the threshold to adulthood is 27 now, when in the 60s/70s/and early 80s, the age was 23-24.

3) They do not read for pleasure that much. They are, however, culturally adept at phases and styles and popular genres. YouTube means they can "know" our music, tv, movies, etc., and that of our parents and grandparents. The trick here is that they dive into YouTube. Google, and Wikipedia at their whims or by social gesture. In other words, they do not elect to take a course on "Popular Music in the US." But, they will tootle around the intertubes, enjoying and collecting the cool bits.

3) Mudge -- college is career training with some knowledge Jimmies sprinkled on top. I am being too glib here, but this is somewhat true. Higher ed packages itself this way; parents sniff out the institutions this way; and students are looking for the career path when choosing colleges and majors.

I love being around these people. I slip some Aristotle and a little Kant into their advanced comp class...

More later on the burden of college costs on some students....problem is widening with the investment meltdown....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 6, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Constant communication, and a never-ending flow of information" combined with the inability to do true research or to separate fact from fiction really worries me about the younger generations.

The "facts" that I see my students citing (when they actually cite sources, which is tough to get them to do!) are often very far removed from reality.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 6, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Back to the kit, thermometer watching here, we set a record for the warm temps today 17C this afternoon - it is nice, nice, nice.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 6, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The Marriott Marquis is the coolest hotel on that map. Direct link:

The ritziest (duh) is the Ritz Carlton. One thing about the GWCC is that the further south or the further west you go in that area, the dicier the neighborhood gets. Anything northwest of the Aquarium is at your own risk.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

It just inched up to 8C/46F here dmd, but the sun finally showed up 20 minutes ago. Good omen for the weekend.

I've got one young adult that is pretty militant about the environment Mudge. Certainly more than I was.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

My son is taking a course in African American literature that he seems to be enjoying, so there is some diversity of culture going on even at the most vocational of colleges.

I don't think it's valid to mark the hippie literature of the 60s, as much as I enjoy it, as some sort of high water mark of culture. The 90% of [i]everything[/i] is crap rule still applies.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Those terra cotta soldiers are in Atlanta until April 19. Starting in November, they will be at the National Geographic Museum in DC for a few months. I keep running across them in our travels I first say them in Montreal on our honeymoon in 1986.

They were also at the British Museum last spring when I was there. I skipped them then because a) all the tickets were sold out, and b) once you've seen the giant aircraft hangar sized display in Xian, you're a bit jaded.


I may still make a trip into DC to see them while they are in town.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

A newspapery obit: Jim Bellows, most recently of the LA Herald Examiner.,0,1581121.story

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | March 6, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

bc, are you trying to tell us you went over the falls in a barrel once? From what I've read here, you are the one most likely to have.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 6, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The problem with bc's craft was that it was the same one the Mudge used to try and sink a British man-o-war back around 1777 or so. A bit of dry rot had probably set in, making it a bit less than watertight.

Posted by: ebtnut | March 6, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

That certainly explains bc's headache, ebtnut.

Posted by: slyness | March 6, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Especially when it comes to Ginsberg, Yellojkt.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt weren't there sighs all over at Xian that photos were prohibited? Or had they given up on preventing phots?

Posted by: bh72 | March 6, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC, signs

Posted by: bh72 | March 6, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

yello-thanks for the tip. I have narrowed it down to the Marriot Marquis and The Ellis on Peachtree.

Bailey-I'm strictly involved with Lego League robotics, using the NXT Mindstorms platform, so I won't be at Robot Rumble. In fact, my presentation isn't even technical-it's about building coalitions to bring robotics to rural communities where there are no universities, tech companies, or other natural allies. (Truth be told, the public school systems around here are more hindrance than help.)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

SCC-bring robotics education and competition to rural communities

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

bc: ?!?!?!?!?

Posted by: LALurker | March 6, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I think I have applied myself quite enough for one day.

I am excited about the clocks changing tomorrow night. I love it when the evening light lasts. It even urges me out of my winter sloth to walk.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

But Yoki, I sloth.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where my words went. SCC. I like sloth.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, dr, the cutometer is in the red zone!

The Sloth

A Bradypus, or Sloth, am I,

I live a life of ease

Contented not to do or die,

But idle as I please

I have three toes on either foot, Or half a doz. on both

With leaves and fruits, and shoots to eat,

How sweet to be a Sloth

The world is such a cheerful place

When viewed from upside-down;

It makes a rise of every fall,

A smile of every frown;

I watch the fleeting flutter by

Of butterfly or moth

And think of all the things I'd try

If I were not a Sloth.

I could climb the very highest Himalayas,

Be among the greatest ever tennis players,

Win at chess or marry a Princess or

Study hard and be an eminent professor.

I could be a millionaire, play the clarinet,

Travel everywhere,

Learn to cook, catch a crook,

Win a war then write a book about it.

I could paint a Mona Lisa,

I could be another Caesar.

Compose an oratorio that was sublime.

The door's not shut on my genius but

I just don't have the time!

For days and days among the trees

I sleep and dream and doze

Just gently swaying in the breeze

Suspended by my toes

While eager beavers overhead

Rush through the undergrowth

I watch the clouds beneath my feet;

How sweet to be a Sloth.

-Flanders and Swann-

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I can see a few of us have already raided the bunker's prosecco and amontillado stores...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Not me, Scotty. The sad truth? I'm always like this.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Me too, Yoki. Ain't life great that way? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

We have amontillado? Since when? Nobody ever tells me nuthin'

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

It is great, 'snuke. In both our cases, I think it has something to do with that whole "gaining the heart's desire" thing.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Ya THINK, Yoki???

*hehehehehehehehe* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim writes:
Loomis, I know this issue is important to you. However, being entirely predictable is equivalent to saying that you are not thinking and reasoning about an issue.

Let's see:
$2 nillion proposed in this year's omnibus spending bill for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii. I'm going to assume, unless otherwise informed, that this earmark is for the Imolia Astronomy Center on Hilo, staffed by 15 employees and about 80 volunteers.

A Google search reveals:

A Dec. 20, 2007 press release from Sen. Daniel Inouye's office states that the omnibus spending bill provides $845 million for Hawaii-related projects including $1,339,500 requested for Imolia. The funding request would both develop educational materials and programs, and also provide seed funding for essential staff as a first step toward realizing a sustainable business model.

A press release from Sen. Inouye's office for June 28, 2007 states that the U.S. Senate has approved $75 million for Hawaii projects including $1.5 million for Imolia. Same verbiage about seed funding.

From the May 2006 issue of malamalama, the magazine of the University of Hawaii system:

Facing an annual operating budget of $3 million, Giles intends to place ʻImiloa on a solid financial basis. His sustainability plan calls for half the revenue from admission, store sales, rental fees and membership; 25 percent from grants and 25 percent from private donations. State contributions are expected through an appropriation to UH Hilo.

So when is Imolia going to begin paying for itself? There's the high-priced new restaurant (restaurant review online). Flickr has someone's photo of the 147,000-piece tile mural on the floor of Imolia's entrance lobby. Wonder how much that cost to install? Did I mention that U2 performed in January and February (not sure about March) at Imolia. How much did that cost or did Bono and company perform for free or at a reduced cost? If they were paid one has to wonder about the necessity of a rock band to "promote" astronomy?

If I have time after dinner, I'll tackle what I think several projects that San Antonio should focus its stimulus spending on, rather than two aesthetic projects. And If Obama wants a to create a database listing annual proposed earmarks-for the sake of government transparency, why not create a retrospective one--say the last 10 years--to show how much certain projects, such as Imolia, have received over the course of a few years? Perhaps Imolia would put its annual expenditures online--for the grins of it?

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Ohfercrying out loud. That isn't what SciTim was talking about at all. Not at all. His point is, that you were able to find a columnist at the National Review Online who is universally critical of Obama saying something negative is hardly surprising.

The point is that when all someone does is flog the same point day in and day out it stops being meaningful criticism.

Got it?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

POW!!!! Right in the Kisser!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 6, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, we all know you despise Obama, because you are angry that he won the Democratic nomination. You have been *very* clear on this. But it seems since then you have been on a vendetta to tear him down whenever you can. Because we understand your disgust for the gentleman ( The "lanky" bit was kind of a clue ) we are naturally suspicious that you really are far less interested in earmarks or whatever than you are about simply slamming the president.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut, you were only a year off ('twas 1776), if you were referring to the "Turtle." Damned thing nearly killed me during sea trials, I can tell you that. I told Dave (Bushnell, the Yalie whose bright idea she was) that he needed a ballast tank in her. But would he listen to old Mudge? A Yaley, pay attention to an old sea dog?

"And another thing, Dave," I sez to him, "that windmill propeller ya got on her, that ain't never gonna work well enough. Whatcher need is an Archimedes screw." (And in fact, if you look at the famous blueprint of the Turtle, you'll see an Archi prop on her, even though it's dead wrong. You'll also see the ballast tank I want, and that's wrong, too. 'Course, the guy who drew that blueprint did so a hundred years later, and he got confused some of the stuff I tol' 'em.)

"Well, there's a bunch of Limeys in New York harbor right now, Mudge, and we got to send her out to try to sink one of them."

"What's this 'we' crap, Kimo Sabe?" I sez to Bushnell. "My mother didn't raise no idjits. I ain't gettin' back in that thing, not without combat pay, hazardous duty pay, flight pay, time-and-a-half cuz tomorrow's Saturday, family leave benefits to my survivin' widow and kiddies--"

"But Mudge," Davie sez, "you ain't married, and you ain't got no kids that I knows about."

"Beggin' per pardon, yer honor," I sez back at 'im quick like, "but I ain't quite married at this precise moment, but if you think I'm goin' out in that tub tomorrow to battle 'is Majesty's Navy, I'm gonna spend tonight doing my best to impregnate as many serving wenches as I can tonight, and usually when I do that I wind up drunk as hell and hungover in the morning, next to some woman says she married me sometime around three in the ay-em. So, no, I ain't got a wife and kids right this moment, but I got no idea what the sitchyation will be this time tomorrow."

"All right, all right," Bushnell says. "But tell me this: what the hell is 'flight pay'?"

"Why, it's the money yer gonna pay me so's I have something in my pocket when I take flight," I sez. "Ya got half the British Navy sitting out there. If I manages to sink one of them ships, you don't think I'm gonna bob to the surface and start takin' bows, do ya? [Expletive] no! I'm getting the hell outta Dodge. Well, Hoboken, in this case. But you get the point.


Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 6, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Pt. 2

Well, we was arguing and arguing into the evening about the terms and conditions, and finally this Army soldier who's been listenin' (we was in a tavern at the time, coincidentally, or maybe not so much coincidentally) pipes up in front of his mates, and sez, "Here, then, if 'e don't wanna go out and give mad King George what for, why I'll be glad to drive that thing meself."

So that's how Army Sergeant Ezra Lee (a fine, strapping man with a great physique, as well as the brains of sarsparilla root) come to be the first and sole occupant of the first submarine ever to attack an enemy vessel.

So the next day they tows the Turtle out into the Hudson with Sgt. Pepper on board peddling like made to drive that blasted windmill prop, and son-of-a-gun if he don't sidle up to the side of the HMS Eagle all whilst submerged. (The Eagle was this big damn 64-gun third rate, and the flagship of Adm. Richard Howe). And when he gets there Lee starts trying to drive this corkscrew drill into the side of the Eagle, but he hits an iron strap, and can't penetrate the hull. And after a while when the oxygen runs out, and Lee is getting a little weird from the mushroom fumes (since there was no light inside the Turtle, and since lighting a candle would quickly use up the oxygen, I asks my old buddy Ben Franklin if he's got any bright ideas -- pun intended. And whaddaya know, ol' Ben does! He suggests using a bunch of foxfire mushrooms, which are bioluminescent. So the inside of the Turtle is lit up with this haunting green light). Lee's got this barrel of 130 pounds of gunpowder he's supposed to attach to the hull of the Eagle, but he can't do it, and he's stating to hallucinate like Hunter Thompson, and so abandons the effort. The Turtle bobs to the surface, and some Limey lookout spots her and raises the alarums. Well, lemme tell ya, that was some dicey spot old Ezra got hisself in. So he starts trying to escape and is swimming away and towing this barrel of gunpowder with him. The Brits give chase, but when they see this guy flailing toward the jersey shore towing a barrel, they catch wise and abandon the chase, fearing some sort of booby trap. So eventually Ezra manages his getaway, the Turtle is at the bottom of the Hudson off 23rd Street, and I'm standing under the lee of the Palisades collecting bets from about a hundred of Lee's buddies.

I made out pretty well that afternoon, I gotta say.

Then I screwed up and got drunk that night on my winnings, and woke up the next morning with a ripping migraine and a wife named Thalia Thessinger, a runaway Swedenbourger from Schwenksville, Pa.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 6, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Since Joel brought up writers...

I was reading a volume of Wordsworth since forever but I finished that just after Christmas. Since then, I've been reading Robert Frost. There is always something good to find there.

The Secret Sits

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

A tiny gem. The next poet in my collection is Dylan Thomas.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

mudge, you ole romantic, you sure are the marryin' kind.

If there were any "no photography" signs any where near the terra cotta soldiers the several hundred Chinese tourists missed them as well. It might as have been an Olan Mills Studio in there. I did some web searching and found some pictures of "no photos" signs but if they were they were only for specific areas. The place is so huge a flash is pretty useless anyways.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Ah, my long sentence in cheese exile is over. Cambozola and goat cheddar, mmmm. A little wine and a good book. Now, if I can stay awake long enough to enjoy all fully.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

A new Hooverville on the outskirts of Sacramento:

From the link imediately above: Loaves & Fishes, the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, Francis House and other groups have started a "Safe Ground" campaign to make the current situation of the homeless better, according to Joan Burke of Loaves and Fishes. The homeless camp that is portrayed in the linked photos [MSNBC and the Daily Mail, first link above] is at nearly the same spot where a giant Hooverville was located during the Great Depression. The camp is growing by up to 50 people per day.

Blogger about Portland's Dignity Village as well as the downside of entanglements:

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

RDP: we are naturally suspicious that you really are far less interested in earmarks or whatever than you are about simply slamming the president.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! If we were in a budget surplus as we were at the end of the Clinton years, I dare say that you'd hear a pipsqueak out of me regarding earmarks and frivolous spending. Surplus? Spend, spend, spend--within reasonable limits!

Biggest budget deficit in American history? Whole 'nother ballgame. So I'm socially liberal and extremely fiscally conservative. So sue me.

Rather than the airport project and the environmental redo on the south portion of our river...I can think of two dams, ancient, that leaked during the flood of '98, one touted as near the breaking point. Those should be rebuilt first. Visitors can still make their way through the airport terminals and people can still walk the south river without shade trees. Also, the condition of many of the surface streets in town is still sickeningly deplorable.

I'd much rather see help for people in Hoovervilles (Los Angeles has one, too) than U2 concerts at the Hilo observatory to promote the heavens.

In fact, I'm quite pleased that Obama will be lifting, on Monday, the ban on stem cell research. Glad he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Disgusted about Geithner. I'm not the ultimate a$$-kisser or brown-noser like some here, where it's all fawning all the time, with not a lot of critical thinking skills applied.

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big U2 fan, and as far as I know the band has only performed live in Hawaii exactly once, on Dec 9, 2006. In Honolulu, not a benefit, just a regular make-money-for-U2 concert.

The Imiloa planetarium is featuring U2's *music*:

Posted by: seasea | March 6, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I can see from some of the comments that Loomis is still posting here? I can say, happily, that I have not read a post of hers in the past three years. I can boodle frontward or backward, and usually never read more than two sentences (going frontward) or just the ID (going backward)before escaping Our Own Eeyore.

This has made my temper more even and saved a great deal of time, too.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 6, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Looks like a great concert, that Hawaiian one.

Posted by: seasea | March 6, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

And have you heard, U2's been on Letterman all week promoting their new album, No Line on the Horizon? I haven't heard it all or seen all the Letterman shows yet, but they're all over youtube if you're interested. U2 will be touring the US in Sep-Oct...I'll probably miss this one unless my prospects improve.

Posted by: seasea | March 6, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

seasea-your 10:12 was Sofa King funny! I snorted goat cheddar.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

The kind of college education that Mudge describes was certainly in vogue when I went.

However, I must, parenthetically, tell a very short tale: I remember vividly the day of my draft lottery...late in the third quarter of the Vietnam era. I was listening on the radio, I got a sufficiently high number to put me in "What, me worry?" territory, and on that day the Sixties changed to the Seventies for me.

Finally, the 90% rule, as yello well knows, is also known as Sturgeon's Law, to give a shout-out to a wonderful (long deceased) writer of the Gentle Science Fiction school. Wonder if he still holds up, I haven't read him in years.

Posted by: woofin | March 6, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh I gotta jump in.

laloomis, either you don't know yourself well enough to realize how you stand ready to pounce at anything coming from even the general direction of the White House, or that's your story and you're sticking to it. But you gotta know it shows in almost every post of yours.

Also, you seem to continue making a pretty basic mistake. Earmark does not equal pork. A lot of earmarks are just earmark. The same way you earmark money for projects, well, so does the government. You do realize, as well, don't you, that BO didn't pick those projects personally. My guess is your local elected officials had a hand in that. Got a problem with them, take it up with them.

And laloomis...about your last sentence. What on God's green earth makes you think that speaking like that to people is a good way to live? Didn't you ever learn that speaking that way is a sign of weakness? It is an indicator that you don't think quickly enough to come up with something that doesn't get personal, and, it contributes to an overall sense of uneducated. And exactly how holier than that do you think you are, Ms. "If I Can't Vote for Hillary, I'm Not Participating?"

I don't know which is worse...your debating skills or your social skills. But you can cut and paste like nobody's business. I'll give you that.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 6, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

scc: holier than thou

Posted by: LostInThought | March 6, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I concur, LiT.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. I get upset when someone speaks poorly to my friends.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 6, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm just wondering if "Remora Lips" is available as a boodle handle.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse


I'm just one year behind you.

The thing that makes me really sad though, is that the more angry and sad and sick Loomis becomes, the more she seems to crave our attention. And this speaks to the condition. *Nods*

And this strikes me as pathetic. Worthy of pity and kindness.

Not enough for me to give attention, you understand, but just enough to affect me. It makes me genuinely sad that such a being would work against herself. And I wish her well.

But she'll need to be *kinder* in general to get the thing she seems to most wish for.

Or, I may be completely wrong! I hope so.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Do not apologize for defending friends, LIT!

My cut-off moment was when Loomis attacked sweet Error for his mistake of living a life that led to his death.

this was unconscionable.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I've never met a lived life that didn't lead to death sooner or later, Yoki.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Howdy - I have not BackBoodled though I look forward to it. I just wanted to mention that it was easily 80 degrees (F) here today. Very nice and almost like early summer. Unnatural.

The weather tomorrow is also fine, slightly cooler but fair. This is good because we're holding my aunt's memorial service (she died in early January) outdoors tomorrow. No need to carry out the rain Plan B. Family is coming in from all over. I had a bunch to my house tonight for informal supper, since tomorrow will be at the other family houses. After the service, a barbecue feast. I'll be back on later tomorrow, probably.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 6, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

sounds like a nice way to celebrate a life, ivansmom.

Posted by: LALurker | March 6, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, long ago and far away when I was 13 and very, very sick, I saw a doctor who quipped to me "Hey, doll-baby, we are all terminal. Not a one of us gets out of this alive." My mom was stunned, until I laughed outloud. True gallows humor is sometimes just the ticket. Thanks for punching today. But in the meantime, life is sweet and good, however hard.

Been humming this tune all day. This cover is the Hi Low in fabtabulous pop 50 vocals:

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

People are queer, they're always crowing, scrambling and rushing about;
Why don't they stop someday, address themselves this way?
Why are we here? Where are we going? It's time that we found out.
We're not here to stay; we're on a short holiday.

Life is just a bowl of cherries.
Don't take it serious; life's so mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it's the berries,
The strongest oak must fall,
The sweet things in life, to you were just loaned
So how can you lose what you've never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.

Life is just a bowl of cherries.
Don't take it serious; it's too mysterious.
At eight each morning I have got a date,
To take my plunge 'round the Empire State.
You'll admit it's not the berries,
In a building that's so tall;
There's a guy in the show, the girls love to kiss;
Get thousands a week just for crooning like this:
Life is just a bowl of . . . aw, nuts!
So live and laugh at it all!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 6, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom! What food will yall serve in her honor? I am glad so many will gather. Are the daffies still blooming?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 6, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The 'Imiloa Astronomy Education Center is a not-very-big facility, so the notion of it hosting a U2 concert is rather funny. I have not seen any venue on the Big Island capable of hosting such an event -- the biggest facilities that I have seen could handle maybe a couple thousand, which is probably about as many roadies as they have on tour. 'Imiloa does, however, have a nice digital planetarium facility with 3D. I wouldn't be too surprised if they played "U2 3D" in there to raise some funds.

I doubt that 'Imiloa ever will be self-supporting. That's not really its purpose. I'm sure that it is supported by tithing from the observatories and from State funds. As I have noted previously (I embrace the awareness that this is not new thinking, here: it is, rather, reiterating something that apparently was not noticed previously), astronomy is big business on the Big Island. Based on the one telescope that I know pretty well, it takes about 1 person per square meter of telescope collecting area to run an observatory (including day crew and telescope operators). The total collecting area at the summit is, lessee, about 400 square meters. That means it takes about 400 summit workers to operate all of them. Salaries even for unskilled labor on the Big Island look high to us, because the cost of living is high. Discounting benefits (which probably go to off-Island insurance companies) but including overhead and salary, those 400 guys probably cost of order $60K-$120K each, for a total of $24-$48 million direct to the Big Island for the day and night crews. Each of those telescope facilities actually has a base-level support office that is of order 4 times as big, suggesting $96-$192 million in salaries. The observatories pay rent to the State of Hawaii because they sit in a state park. They buy services from contractors on the island, including specialized technical services like the design and development of cryogenic systems and infrared detection systems. Most of the observatories lease their 4WD vehicles (gotta have 4WD for safety to reach the summit).

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 7, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Part 2:

Grand total, I estimate that observatories put about $200M or more into the state economy, both on the Big Island and on O'ahu (where the UofHI Institute for Astronomy is located). Of the facilities, only one smallish observatory is US gov't-owned, with an annual budget (I happen to know) of about $5-10M, plus two other observatories in which the US is a participant. The remainder are owned by various universities, nations, or multinational private consortia. That $2M for the promotion of astronomy (one-time earmark, because it's in the stimulus bill, not the regular budget) is all about making sure that Hawaii stays an inviting place for all that astronomy money to be spent. The presence of a high-tech industry like astronomy also helps to convince young people that education can pay off for them, diverting them from the epidemic of crystal meth ('ice' in local parlance) that is devastating the local citizenry and dominating local police activity. Folks involved with the rediscovery and transmission of ancient Hawaiian cultural knowledge also benefit from these facilities -- Nainoa Thompson honed his celestial navigation skills by working endlessly with a local planetarium (or so I read in Aloha Airline's in-flight magazine).

So, loomis, yes -- in Hawaii, astronomy pays big dividends in immediate job creation, with long-term benefits as an investment in the infrastructure and human capital needed to end the cycle of poverty in a state that has among the highest percentage of the population on welfare. I understand your claim of fiscal conservatism, but the barn doors already are open and the horses have all been stolen or run away. We can get out of the ranching business, or we can get some more horses on credit and try to get the ranch working again. If you catch the drift of my somewhat tortured metaphor. Or is it an allegory?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 7, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of earmarked funds... here's a Bush appointee making my favorite government agency look bad:

The problem is not the earmark, but the unethical manipulation of the earmark in response to a conflict of interest. I think perhaps "fraud, waste, & abuse' are so prevalent in the minds of Republicans as the primary government ill, because it seems they cannot imagine any reason to take government service except to engage in some fraud, waste, and abuse themselves.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 7, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm lost in admiration of *tim's words.

Goodnight, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Did I go over Niagra falls in a barrel?

An excellent question; if I remember one way or another, I'll let you know.

Too tired to post anything cogent, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

G'night, folks.


Posted by: -bc- | March 7, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Niagara? A more-or-less idiot is planning to do the falls in a motorized kayak.

I don't think it's financially possible, but I'd very much like to visit Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge (it's bird forests) and get a look at the upper reaches of Mauna Kea and/or Mauna Loa. Isn't the latter overdue for an eruption?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 7, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

U2 at Fordham U:

Posted by: seasea | March 7, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

If the Imiloa planetarium is playing U2, it's no wonder that they need the money. Everybody knows the big bucks are in Laser Floyd shows.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I know the "Turtle" was really cramped, so how would Archimedes have had any room to scr...

Oh, nevermind.

Folks, it's already 60-some-odd degrees out there! C'mon, let's get moving!!

*hiding-behind-mah-desk-to-avoid-the-incoming-rotten-tomatoes Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2009 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning my friend yellojkt!

Could you help me out and let omni know that I didn't see the perl guy, yet? Maybe next week. He will know to what I refer. I have to work all weekend.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 7, 2009 5:37 AM | Report abuse

A very cogent rebuttal, but a futile effort. Debating Loomis is like teaching a pig to sing. It wastes your time and only annoys the pig.

There is no doubt her newfound fiscal concern is a direct response to it being directed against Obama. These are the PUMA talking points and nothing will dissuade her.

I have long wished that a team of IT ninjas would sneak into her house and disable the CTL-C combo on her computer, but the stuff she pagiarizes, er, inadequately marks as quotations, is usually the only part of her posts worth reading.

I will now go back to ignoring Loomis full-time no matter how great the provocation because I find that better for my blood pressure that pharmaceuticals.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse

We are stuck with a bunch of men in the kitchen for breakfast. Scotty, what would you like to eat?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 7, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Back at ya, weed!

I'm off to New Yawk City this morning on the megabus to see Blithe Spirit. My wife says somebody famous is in it. I hope she's hawt.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Weed, coffee and NukeSpouse's company are a fine breakfast this aye-em, thankee.

But if JA decides to throw a Bacon Explosion on the grill later, please call me. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2009 5:46 AM | Report abuse

My wife is as big a U2 fan as I am a Springsteen fan. We taped all of BonoWeek (just like SharkWeek, only with U2) on Letterman as well as GMA. We've only watched the Monday and Tuesday performances, so we have the rest to look forward to.

Put me down for a ham and cheese and spinach omelette, weed.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:48 AM | Report abuse

It's Angela Lansbury. I guess she counts in a cougar-ish way.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

And if you don't want pay money to see Watchmen in the theaters, the old Saturday morning cartoon version is available on YouTube:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2009 5:54 AM | Report abuse

I found out last night that I have to go down extra early to Eastern Market. Have to set up everything for the coffee sales.

I trying to get up the energy to start moving. I would love a nice egg masterpiece myself, jkt.

At the same time, I just haven't been eating that much. I may just settle for a morning pickle from Jason the pickle guy and then graze at the market all day... grapes, Spanish treats, etc.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 7, 2009 5:58 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. The Kepler mission had an uneventful launch, the very kind NASA prefers.
It will be a quiet weekend at the Denizens, the rest of the family departed for a funeral. I'm on dog sitting duty, for mine and the in-law's. The elder of Mrs D family died last Sunday just before her 94th birthday. Grand Ma died the way she wanted, away from hospitals, tubes, wires and other hardware. She went for a nap after mass and lunch and never woke up. I wish my death would be as peaceful. She was no blood relative but as Grand Pa second wife since the early 60s she was the only Gran Ma Mrs D ever knew on her father's side. So the Very Large Puppy lost his only fan in Mrs D family. She loved that dog, for whatever reason. The kids say it's because she was quite blind and lost the sense of smell sometimes along the line but I prefer to believe she enjoyed the tactile treat presented by this loose-skin monster.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 7, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. I'm very interested in ScienceTim's astronomy comments in the general context of the stimulus and the ballooning deficit. And interested in where this economy is going (starting with, will I have a job in a year? I assume so, but bad economy and dying industry are an unfortunate combination). I'm going to try to blog later today but my highest priority is firing up the grill as we approach 70 degrees. Also I have to do taxes. Also I have to do financial aid. Also I have to annotate a freelance story and somehow find time to write up something for Monday's paper on Kepler. BUT...otherwise it'll be a fun day off. Anyway, that said, I understand that in any forum like this, which is unmoderated basically, and operates by its own internal rhythms, there is going to be friction. But do not make personal attacks. If you feel the urge to do so, go put on loud music or something until your purge the urge. Thank you.

Posted by: joelache | March 7, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Almost English, "your purge the urge." On some planet that might make sense.

Posted by: joelache | March 7, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Very sorry to here about the loss of Mrs. Ds' Gran Ma, condolences to all.

Yello laughed at your comment about Floyd, I had a similar thought on hearing that U2 music was playing at the Planetarium, out for dinner with friends last weekend we had a discussion around going to the "Floyd" shows at the Planetarium.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 7, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Enjoy that warm weather, we had 3 nice days in a row here. By Wednesday we'll be back down to a high of 11. Finally figured out that winter went faster last year because of two trips to Florida. Dreamt last night that Mr. F returned from a business trip and announced he had bought a vacation place in Costa Rica-so excited about the prospect of heading down there I didn't even yell at him for buying property alone. Springing forward tonight just might put me over the edge.

Later, need to make some mocha and read the papers. Honest JA, I'd buy the dead tree WaPo if I could.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 7, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Joel, that's not nearly as bad as the caption that made me wince in this morning's Observer: "An industrious beaver has reeked havoc on many of the trees surrounding Dragonfly pond at Reedy Creek Nature." ARRGGGHHH!!!

The story, about how North Carolina needs and uses the funds from the beaver management program, was interesting. "State and federal wildlife officials claim to have saved nearly $5 million last year in potential flood damage to farms, timber lands, roadways and other infrastructure through its Beaver Management Assistance Program - the same one McCain was making fun of in Washington."

I have the place to myself today. Mr. T was up and out of the house very early for a Saturday. He's helping at the administration of the firefighter written entrance exam this morning. There are so many applicants that the HR folks are having four sessions, two today and two next Saturday. Applications always skyrocket when the economy is bad. You won't get rich being a firefighter, and the work is physically demanding, but it's as steady and stable as anything can be, in this world.

Posted by: slyness | March 7, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks SciTim.

For you, photograph 7:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 7, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. The temp never went below 45 degrees here last night and they are promising 60 for today, yay. We will be grilling something tonight, not sure what yet, and I bet if we eat dinner early, we can do it on the porch, double yay.

Frosti, if you want a vacation home in Costa Rica, talk to my #2. I’ve heard from her twice since she got there and she is loving every moment, perfect climate, perfect location on a mountainside overlooking the ocean. Of course they don’t have electricity yet, but they go to bed early as the howler monkeys wake them at 5 am every day.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 7, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Joel, some quick comments on Astronomy, the Economy, Journalism, and the General Malaise:

Obviously, many people question the need for governmentally funded science in the face of dire economic times. Astronomy is an interesting case because a significant percentage (dare I say, a majority) of optical astronomy is done (and recorded) by a thriving enthusiast community - not professional scientsts or academics. It's a big sky - big enough for everyone to have a piece, and data shared electronically on the Innertubes between the participants and the communities.

Including dopes with 'scopes, like me.

The Astronomical data gathering and analysis that can't be done by enthusiasts is the domain of the professional scientists (funded by governments, academic instititions and private foundations)- use of large private and public observatories, development of large or highly specialized (read: expensive and complex) instruments, experiments, and missions, Earth-based and otherwise.

Interestingly, some professional scientists have found ways to leverage enthusuast resources in cooperative efforts, such as SETI at Home, where home computing power is used to sort through radio telescope data for patterns and signs of information transmission, and Galaxy Zoo, where anyone can sign up and be trained to look through astronmical images of galaxes and classify them as well as note anything unusual that warrants further investigation.

The effectively utilizing the power of the Internet, eh?

On a different note (and apologies if someone has noted this previously, and further apologies for adding to Joel's Big Stack O' Worries), I see that the Seattle Post Intelligencer will be going online-only soon:

I used to do some occastional writing for a periodical that tried to increase its profit margins by going online-only in the early-00s, during the Internet Boom.

It didn't last a year.

I've said many times that I think the best collective model for journalists in this new age is in syndication of content to news outlets, online and otherwise. I believe the best journalism comes from the traditional newsroom model of editorial and writing drawing from shared resources and support, but the distribution of that content and payment be managed through the sydicate.

Having said that, writers, as always, will write for themselves, and make other deals where they can as independent contractors.
Having a well-known brand name like "Achenbach" is a big plus.

More later, kids.


Posted by: -bc- | March 7, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 7, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

New kit.
Featuring SciTim as Robin Hood.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 7, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle, Al.

Where is Cassandra?

I am well and truly over winter; today it is supposed to be above freezing (a fine day to go shoe shopping, says I) and then bitterly cold until next Friday, when they predict a truly warm day. A little stability is all I ask.

And so, for me and anyone else who is ready for it to end:

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Mudge and Kbert--you are both sooo right!
Perhaps this comment is a bit late, but this old brain takes a little while to percolate an exit message.

Anyway, comparing remarks made from different mountain peaks can lead to vast amazement.

The question we might attack is, "Do we live in a capitalist, cash flow economy?" or, "Could we possibly be, however presently isolated, creatures of the cosmos?"

Other possibilites may also be posed, and the conclusions that lead to future action must be carefully selected, which ever base we choose or which ever mountain top we choose for a messaging site. Just being close to truth is not in itself sufficient to insure future existence.

Well, the air up here is getting pretty thin. I'll just leave the propositions where they are.


Posted by: Lowen1 | March 10, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

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