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Congrats to Gene Robinson

Bulletin: Gene Robinson has won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary!

Great guy, great journalist -- newsroom gathering now...

The NYTimes won 5.


Update: Gene brought a tear to my eye when he talked about calling his parents from the MSNBC set at 10:45 p.m. on Election Night, telling them that the network was going to call the election for Obama and that they'd lived to see the first black U.S. president. Gene's father passed away in January.

He closed with a great image regarding the future of the news biz: He said we'd be no more likely stumble upon a new business model than find a Cobb salad in a field of lettuce. BUT...we could make the new business model, create it ourselves.


From the AP:

The Las Vegas Sun has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for exposing a high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip.
The New York Times took five Pulitzers on Monday, including one for breaking the call-girl scandal that destroyed Gov. Eliot Spitzer's political career.
And the Detroit Free Press won for local reporting for obtaining a trove of sexually explicit text messages that brought down the city's mayor.
The awards were announced after one of the most depressing years the newspaper industry has ever seen, with layoffs, bankruptcies and closings.

Here's the official list from the Pulitzer Board:


Public Service - Las Vegas Sun

Breaking News Reporting - The New York Times Staff

Investigative Reporting - David Barstow of The New York Times

Explanatory Reporting - Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times

Local Reporting -
Detroit Free Press Staff
Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ

National Reporting - St. Petersburg Times Staff

International Reporting - The New York Times Staff

Feature Writing - Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times

Commentary - Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post

Criticism - Holland Cotter of The New York Times

Editorial Writing - Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY

Editorial Cartooning - Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune

Breaking News Photography - Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald

Feature Photography - Damon Winter of The New York Times


Fiction - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

Drama - Ruined by Lynn Nottage

History - The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)

Biography - American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)

Poetry - The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction - Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)

Music - Double Sextet by Steve Reich, premiered March 26, 2008 in Richmond, VA (Boosey & Hawkes)

Here are the finalists.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 20, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Getting Cranky on Mars
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Way to go! Let the champagne corks fly!

Posted by: LostInThought | April 20, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I was trying to get on the Pulitzer website starting at 3:05 but couldn't, presumably because a couple million other people were also trying to go there at the same time. So I heard it here first--thank you for not making me go to Twitter for this breaking news!

Posted by: kbertocci | April 20, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

St. Pete Times got two. A good year to have 'Times' on your masthead.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Well deserved win by Robinson. He's a class act and an enjoyable read.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 20, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The website is accessible now so I have learned that the book I'm currently reading--which lies a mere 6 inches away from my laptop as I'm typing this right now--has won in the History category. (That's "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family") If I had known it was going to win a Pulitzer, I might have stood in line to hive it signed. I did hear Annette Gordon-Reed speak in Fort Lauderdale a couple of months ago. She is very intelligent and well-spoken, a law professor (New York Law School) AND a history professor (Rutgers).

Posted by: kbertocci | April 20, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Who won for Best Shaggy Dog Blog Post?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 20, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Rats. I knew it. Passed over again.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 20, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to all, particularly Robinson. His columns are always sensible, interesting, pithy, and well-written.

Mudge, WoW is World of Warcraft, an annoying but innocuous online real-time role-playing game with a worldwide following which, alas, includes Ivansdad and the Boy. You may recall a while back bc wrote a brilliant piece suggesting one future for news distribution as a sort of WoW model.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC: have it signed, of course.

Here's something interesting I just learned from reading the book. Sally Hemings, along with her brother James, were with Jefferson in Paris, just before the French Revolution. At that time, slavery was legal in the French colonies, but not in France. Any slaves brought into the country were supposed to be registered with the government. Jefferson did not do so. (Not too hard to imagine why.) Any slaves who found themselves in France could petition the court for their freedom, and those petitions were ALWAYS granted. Sally and James knew about this. When it came time to return to America, Sally (who was at that time pregnant with Jefferson's child) told him she was going to stay in France [this is reported by one of her sons, years later]. Apparently Jefferson talked her into returning to Monticello with him. You have to respect a man who has that much power of persuasion. All he promised her, it appears, is that she would be treated especially well (for a slave) and that her children (which they both presumed would be Jefferson's children as well) would be freed when they reached the age of 21.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. Let us not forget:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
Ruined by Lynn Nottage
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)
Biography or Autobiography
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)
The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)
General Nonfiction
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)
Double Sextet by Steve Reich (Boosey & Hawkes)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Among the finalists:

Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post
For their vivid, richly documented explanation of why AIG, the insurance industry giant, nearly collapsed and what lessons the crisis holds for the nation’s policymakers.

Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest of The Washington Post
For their relentless exploration of America’s network of immigration detention centers, melding reporting and computer analysis to expose sometimes deadly abuses and spur corrective steps.

Staff of The Washington Post
For its sensitive and moving examination of how females in the developing world are often oppressed from birth to death, a reporting project marked by indelible portraits of women and girls and enhanced by multimedia presentations.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times
For his prophetic columns on economic peril during a year of financial calamity, blending the scholarly knowledge of a distinguished economist with the skill of a wordsmith.

Editorial Writing
Charles Lane of The Washington Post
For his succinct and insightful editorials on the nation’s economic collapse, zeroing in on problems and offering solutions with a steady voice of reason.

Feature Photography
Carol Guzy of The Washington Post
For her powerfully intimate coverage of the perils and sorrow of childbirth in Sierra Leone, where women face the world’s highest rate of maternal mortality.

The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll (The Penguin Press) [ex-WaPo]
An epic tale extending far beyond Osama Bin Laden and the calamity of 9/11, rooted in meticulous research and written with an urgency, clarity and flair that entertains as easily as it educates.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 20, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

The Goldstein/Priest work was a nice balance for the snare rat-tat-tat of guys like Lou Dobbs. The real story is pretty ugly.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 20, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I like Robinson too, good choice.

The choices seem to favour the traditional gotcha stories such as the Kwame K textgate, Spitzer's most excellent Washington adventures, etc. They could have picked at least one economics story, it was the year to do so.

I just picked myself from the floor. The Fungi has joined the rank of the employed, after 2 years of fierce resistance. Just as it gets fashionable to be poor and unemployed he probably wishes to distinguish himself. Next thing you know he'll learn how to drive. Naaah. He'll wait until there is no more oil to burn

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 20, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Gene! Gene! You're the man!
If you can't do it, no one can!

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 20, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, this is not good:

Posted by: slyness | April 20, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Mr. Robinson. Always one of my favorite morning reads.

Although after Weingarten's prize last year, I do secretly suspect that there is a Pulitzer conspiracy afoot involving folks named "Gene"

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 20, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm freeeeeeee!

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Huzzah for Gene Robinson! Always enjoy his columns, and he's a kick when he's on MSNBC.

I got the Sally Hemings book from the library, but didn't get a chance to read it. Will have to get it again.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 20, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Yoki. It's just about 4:20 MDT.

Posted by: engelmann | April 20, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Seems GWB is coming to Toronto along with Bill Clinton. Wonder if he will receive a warm welcome.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 20, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, folks.

Sorry I missed all the discussion 4/20 in the previous Kit. Seems like we have that particular discussion every year, but hey, everyone gets a free pass for forgetting things today.

Loved the related discussion of modern slang, too. I don't know how I'd explain that Lipton reference to my Mom. Or worse, if she interrupted me while I was trying to explain, and corrected *me.* *Awkward*

Congrats to Gene Robinson for earning - and deserving - one more Pulitzer than me.

And of course I think he's right about the future of the news biz, and that the industry itself is going to have to invent new models that work (one probably isn't going to be enough), but I've been saying that for awhile now.

I'm glad to see that the Pulitzer folks are awarding to news web sites, even if it makes me think of the year that the Grammy folks awarded one to Jethro Tull over Metallica (sorry EF, wherever you are, but I think you know I'm saying).

Ivansmom - you thought that WoW/Worlds of Newscraft thing I wrote was "brilliant?" Thank you!

Have a good evening, all.


Posted by: -bc- | April 20, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: TBG- | April 20, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Frosti, Did I just see you on ABC News just now? A short final piece on the Robotics Convention. Looked very cool.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | April 20, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Gene

Wish I could get Free,or experienced, not necessarily stoned but beautiful.......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 20, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Mr. Robinson. He really deserves this award!

Posted by: catsmom | April 20, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Maggie-Did you see a tall blonde, former Finnish Olympic beach volleyball team looking woman? I was the frumpy one standing beside her.

I had to leave Atlanta before the closing ceremonies, and am back at work now, but I'll see if I can find the clip online.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 20, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, a Catsmom sighting. That is a good handle. I could be dogsmom, actually.

Good job to the Genes. A very Eu-Gene moment, as in eu = good as a prefix.

Frosti on a clip? How fun. Hope so.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 20, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Spring, the Sweet Spring
from Summer’s Last Will and Testament by Thomas Nashe (1600)

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 20, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Meant to say the Thomas Nashe was a pamphleteer at the time of Marlowe and Shakespeare. This "job" predates journalism by about 170 years.

So, Nashe is a forbear of Gene Robinson.

Robert Greene was also such; he is the coiner of "upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." applied to Shakespeare.

Greene and Nashe, like contemporaries, wrote as an act of moral courage.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 20, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Balinese Infinito Singers with Thomas Nashe's poem set to music by Goerge Olroyd.

In the comment string is this comment:

sayang gue telat nyampe bandungnya vin... jadi gak nonton Nightingales-nya deh :((

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 20, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Susan Boyle singing

Cry Me a River

I shall stop now, boodleciding.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 20, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

A word to the wise: don't try to feed breadcrumbs to any bird that makes a "jug-jug" sound.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 20, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Eugene Robinson: I am so pleased that you have been so honored. It couldn't have happened to a more honest and consistent commentator on this pace we call the "United" States. Hooray for you and for all of us.

Posted by: oldecobb | April 20, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

A Pulitzer's a big deal and all, but honestly, I was turned off of Gene Robinson when I saw him on a talk show referring to "John McCentury". That was just about at the peak of my disgust at the lipstick on a pig, renounce and repudiate, race card politics of this campaign. Being the first time I'd seen him outside of print, it has to me irrevocably branded him as a hack.

But the Cobb salad in a lettuce patch is a good metaphor.

Posted by: tomsing | April 20, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Dude... John McCain is pretty old, a three-time cancer survivor, etc. My dad was a republican and he's struggling with cancer himself. He looked at McCain, and said "he's really old."

I know this didn't matter to the Republican base, mostly because he WAS the best of the crop, but that speaks a lot for the kind of chaos the party is in right now.

It's not about lipstick on a pig. It's the pig behind the lipstick.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 20, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Now, let me just get this straight, because I wouldn't want to misinterpret: Gene Robinson making a crack about John McCain's age irrevocably marks him (GR) as one of those cruel racists who just won't let a poor downtrodden white guy catch an even break. Have I got that correctly?

Just how is McCain's advanced age linked to race -- because white people in this country have the longest life expectancy among the U.S. ethnic population, whereas African-American males have the shortest (IIRC)? So, Gene Robinson is a mean ol' racist because ... he is taunting McCain for living longer than the average black guy? Is that it?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Heads up, CP. There's a severe thunderstorm warning out for your county and mine. Storm center right now is approximately 20 feet over my head, and heading north. Lot of lightning here right now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 20, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. In fairness, I guess that tomsing really was just commenting about name-calling. So, yes, Robinson called McCain a name. Still seems a little far from being "a hack."

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, ScienceTim, you are such a nice man. At pains to be fair.

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I *think* that tomsing might have simply been suggesting was that if Gene R allegedly engaged in some namecalling on a TV talk show - even during the campaign as heated as it was from both sides - it turned him off.

And I understand the idea that a WaPo journalist should probably refrain from namecalling on TV (objectivity and all), but again, I didn't see it myself, so I really can't speak to that allegation.

I didn't read an accusation of racism against Gene R specifically in what tomsing wrote (though ts does give his reaction to the tenors of the campaigns in general), but that's just my interpretation.

Am I missing something here?


Posted by: -bc- | April 20, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought there was an undertone of something as well bc.

Probably the mention of the race card, as an outsider I was impressed at the lack of prominance race played in the election - an am some what suspicious when people bring up that as a factor in the election.

Perspective is everything though.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 20, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, looks like you considered the same things I did while I was composing that 10:35 (and also writing a magazine piece, frankly).


Posted by: -bc- | April 20, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Geez, guys, get a clue!

The McCentury remark--early April 2008--by Robinson on Olbermann's show has nothing to do with McCain's age--it has to do with how long McCain suggested he'd keep troops in Iraq.

If you want to see a politician play the age card, look to FDR's propaganda cartoon Hellbent for Election.

I think the Pulitzer for commentary should have gone to Krugman.

Posted by: laloomis | April 20, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Jack Shafer's take on the Pulitzer Prize.

Of course, when you buy your ink by the barrel you get to decide what's news.

Posted by: miesen | April 20, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Evening all
Well i made my way through the soup(fog) and high water to safety on my mountain.

I was happy to see the caps win a must win game 3 and their rookie goalie get his first career playoff shutout(that must be a big thrill) Yay!!!

Happy to see the Flames rebound and get the game 3 win as well,all they needed was a little home cookin, Yay for Yoki. Game 4 for both teams will be big.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 21, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Good catch, Laloo.

This looks like good reading.

I feel smart today, having already read American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham - and having Gene's column on my Favorites list to be read all the time.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 21, 2009 4:49 AM | Report abuse

On Victor Vargas

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 21, 2009 5:17 AM | Report abuse

How does Meacham manage to write an important biography while producing gobs of writing for Newsweek? Based on productivity, he should be paid like an investment banker.

A Pulitzer for Steve Reich seems appropriate--he's a very prominent composer, finalist once. His minimalist "Music for 18 Musicians" did once strike me as elevator music for a stuck elevator.

I can imagine Gene Robinson being invited, quietly, to the White House to teach a few lessons on expressing umbrage.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 21, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

I've thought for a while now that Jack Shafer was a jerk. That column kinda proves it. He doesn't approve of newspaper prizes like the Pulitzer....except the time or two he himself entered, or when a friend wins, and the couple of times he was asked to be a contest judge, which he did so he could recruit [read: steal] employees from other papers. Otherwise he has no use for them.

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

April 21, 1621: The first governor of the Plymouth colony, Deacon John Carver, dies. Mayflower settlers then elect William Bradford governor, a post he will hold for the next 35 years.
1918: Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” age 25, Germany’s leading ace of World War I with 80 victories, is shot down and killed over the Somme, France. For many years, Canadian Capt. Arthur “Roy” Brown is credited with the kill, but recent scholarship suggests Richthofen may have been hit (in the heart) by Allied ground fire.

Hmmm. I smell coffee and biscuits.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

I smell sour grapes. From Jack Shafer.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Morning. Instead of country ham, I put out butter, apple butter, and pumpkin butter to go with the biscuits.

Jack Shafer is an odd bird, being a conservative among liberals in the media. At least that's what he says. I'm not terribly impressed, but that's just me.

I survived intense presentation at deacons meeting last night; I had a dry mouth, and I was only clicking the mouse on the PowerPoint presentation! We're looking to radically reconfigure church governance and threw a lot of information at the attendees in a short period of time. They received it well, which is a great relief. Now the hard part, talking about it, voting on it, implementing it.

Posted by: slyness | April 21, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Well, well, gone two days and Mr. Robinson wins a fantastic award, and a much deserved one. Congratulations, Mr. Robinson.

Slyness, Yoki, Mudge, Scotty, Martooni, and all the gang, good, good, morning. *waving*

The g-girl and I are trying to get ready for school, and my grandsons are back home. My grandsons are big guys now. We had a nice time, and I belive they will be here for the summer. They also spent the night with my daughter, and attended church with her. Now time for inspections at the apartment. I don't get any rest, sometimes it feels as if I'm running while standing still.

The case of the stimulus money for South Carolina goes to court today. I don't know what court, but I can imagine the state will pull out those old "state's rights" arguments, which should be quite dusty by now. I suspect it boils down to someone not wanting to do what they're told, and the telling coming from a child of a hated history. A hard pill to swallow from the other side of that history. Of course, not many will agree with that statement because racism doesn't exist here. The same song some folks were singing while we were swinging in trees.

Have a great day, folks!

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 21, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

I smell ill-processed compost from Shafer...

*trying-to-pack-a-day's-worth-of-work-into-a-few-hours-before-hitting-the-airport Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle, Cassandra, Al.

It promises to be a lovely day. It is still dark with just a streak of blue and gold at the eastern horizon, and the birds in the trees along the river are singing their hearts out. The geese think they singing; they are really just putting up a racket.

Another long meeting today. My colleagues in the east have a brilliant talent for scheduling compulsory meetings over my lunch hour. Another thing to hold against Toronto.

Have a great day.

Posted by: Yoki | April 21, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. It's a grey and rainy day in the other capital. The Tamils are planning a big protest today, the downtown core is supposed to be blocked most of the afternoon. The Tamils got all hot and bothered because there is some kind of genocide happening back in the old country (Tamilia?). And so they block the bus traffic downtown. I'm don't understand how it's going to make a difference for those folks caught between the army and the Indian Ocean but there you go, this is life in the center of politics.

Yoki, and there are those people from AB and BC calling me when I've got my coat on my back and heading for the door...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 21, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm very happy for Gene Robinson. His columns are always well written and he seems very personable on TV. Good to know that nice guys win sometimes.

Dreary here but it appears it will be summer by the weekend, bypassing spring altogether, which is normal for us.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 21, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't too dreary at Fenway or the Garden yesterday, eh Sneaks? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of awards, the NRC received some kudos:

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

Genre Robinson deserves the Boodlizer. Anyways congratz on the Poodlezer, I mean the Pushlitzer, or was it the Publizer?

Posted by: Braguine | April 21, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Now here's a column that makes lots of sense to me:

I will, of course, admit my bias.

Story on the local front of today's Charlotte Observer said that Jeff Skiles, first officer on Flight 1549, flew yesterday for the first time since January. The other members of the crew have not yet flown.

Posted by: slyness | April 21, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Nothing like a Hot Tamil, Eh?!

Posted by: russianthistle | April 21, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Astronomy nuts: Great pictures of Saturn and its rings and moons.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Grrrrrrrrrr. Yes, nice piece on the NRC winning the survey. But here's why I'm growling. At the bottom of the piece Joe Donaldson asks, guess which agency finished last?

Now, I don't read a newspaper so it can ask me dumb questions that I have to guess the answer to. I tend to read newspapers to learn things, not get in touch with my Inner California Psychic. So I went looking for the answer. Guess what? Joe didn't bother providing any link to any such list or rankings. That was good thinking, Joe. What happened to all the link craziness? Used to be every third word was linked to something. Now when I WANT a useful link, there isn't one.

So I went looking. First went to the WaPo home page and tried to use its search engine, but it isn't working. So went to Google. Got a bunch of hits--but nothing with the list or rankings. Spent 15 minutes looking for it. Still haven't found it.

(Yes, I have a dog in this race: I suspect my agency finished 91st. Anything above 65th and I'll be shocked.)

So: Can ANYONE find this *&^%$# ranking?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The article doesn't even give a real name for the survey so that it could be Googled. I have to think Homeland Security is even below your outfit 'mudge.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse


This news has circulated in the media for the last 36 hours or so, but I'm a bit puzzled:

"Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote Mr. Obama asking him not to rule out prosecutions until her panel completed an investigation over the next six to eight months."

The competition between Panetta and DiFi (throw in Pelosi) in California is well-known,

and it was DiFi who threatened not to support Panetta's nomination to head C.I.A.--unless Kappes was on board. Kappes is one of those serving in the upper eschelons of C.I.A. when the torture memos were issued.

Now Yoo and Bybee are resident in California. Is Feinstein only looking to attempt to increase her chances for re-election? Flex her muscle as jefe of the new head of the Senate Intelligence Committee? Prolong an ongoing competition with Panetta?

Posted by: laloomis | April 21, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

It appears they do not publish rankings below the top 10. However, someone out there on the Intertubes could be mining the data to provide a full top to bottom list. The info is all available in the PDFs (no stinking ranking though).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I stand corrected. It is called the Federal Human Capital Survey, but it's still pretty Google-proof.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Google proof? I entered
OPM 2008 human capital survey rankings
and it was the first hit of 3,710

The link again

I wonder if you made a "media request" if they'd give up a full ranking of all agencies.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Brad DeLong's economics website has his potted (4500 word) version of Marx, a subject that I had managed to avoid until now. Kinda neat, but not an incentive to go on to luxuriant field-grown Marx.

Thinking of economics, I'm willing to bet that states with active Economic Stimulus programs will prosper better than the South Carolinas that don't. Not for the first time, SC might be a good place to have left.

I need to get around to reading James Macdonald's remarkable book "A Free Nation Deep in Debt". He figures that historically, autocratic states hoarded treasure to pay for wars. When medieval Italian city-states developed the "art of public borrowing", democracy got started. The book ends with the "great bond drives that financed the two world wars". Macdonald apparently pushes the importance of public investment, something to which our Republican friends seem blind.

So much for blather.

In the yard, a bunch of orchids are flowering, begonia cuttings (of all things) are doing fine, the last amaryllises performing along with a patch of native coreopsis daisies.

Over the weekend, I planted a hundred caladiums corms, which was surprising. I'd written off the big box as a mistake, thinking there wouldn't be room for more than twenty. Is space elastic?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 21, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, looks to me like NRC has done pretty well on these surveys.

Posted by: slyness | April 21, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I was on that page, Frosti. It only gives the top 10 rankings, not the full list. And it gives the rankings in four different categories; it doesn't amalgamate them and produce a list of overall agency rankings, 1 to 30 or 1 to 50, or however many there are.

In Donaldson's column it appears he's the one who decided NRC was top, based on three first-place wins and one second-place finish. (I don't disagree; I just wanna know where my outfit finished. Of course, there's always the possibility we never finished at all. Kinda went into the pits for repairs and never came out, as it were.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

A little bird told me (for some obscure reason) that an organization named the Partnership for Public Service will offer its own analysis of the FHCS data sometime this year.

and don't ask me where I learned to speak Bird.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, fb. They've obfuscated the raw data enough so as to make it completely useless. Stuff like this makes me angry. Why do a survey and then bury the results or make it incomprehensible?

Here's the webpage for what it's worth;

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-I think Donaldson was a bit misleading in his piece, and lazy too. If he applied his own determination of "overall first place," and it appears he did, he should have gone on to do it for the whole field. Kudos to the NRC, but the real story is probably buried in the bottom 10.

Sometimes we can learn as much from a bad example as a good. I bet the NRC people don't have a real concrete idea of what they do differently from the DOT.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I know for a fact that sooner or later there will be a full amalgamated list. I know this because my outfit finished 19th in the previous list. Hence my interest.

Also, my outfit reported back to us where it came in, and they made a half-hearted effort to try and improve that position. (The effort last at LEAST 48 hours, before it withered away.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

And I sure hope the report writers have a good editor:


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I very much enjoyed re-reading the columns for which Gene Robinson won his prize. The quality that stands out most to me is the way he identifies and then eloquently articulates the fundamental truths hidden within a maelstrom of events. He doesn’t fixate on the, “story of the day.” He truly sees the forest created from the trees. After I read his columns the conclusions and insights sometimes appear obvious, but only because he has articulated them so well.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Boy, there sure are a lot of little birds wanting to pass along info about that survey...

Too bad I'm at work.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I have a feeling 'Mudge enjoyed this article:

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm laughing, Frosti (but not at you). The Donaldson piece quotes the NRC chairman as saying their success is based on thre things: communications, communications, communications. And you can bet your very last bottom dollar that "communication" is something they do different from some other agencies I could name.

(I work in a department that has "communications" in its name. Guess what aspect of work life we are really lousy at? Uh-huh. It's an alien concept hereabouts.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I know someone that works for NHTSA and he said there are only 8 school bus deaths a year attributable to lack of seatbelts. Don't quote me on that though. I have no idea what the numbers for commercial buses would be. The article does say that statistically riding a bus is twice as safe as being in a car. Vehicle size must be a big factor there.

In England seat belt use is mandatory on motor coaches. If it was required in Italy, I didn't notice. I'm pretty sure our bus didn't have belts.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, that article warmed the cockles of my heart. Loved the very last line.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Permit me this link to Marc Fisher's analysis of the closing of yet another wee-wonderful and community-rich book store:

RIP Vertigo Books.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Belated good morning boodle! Got caught up in that agency ranking bit and didn't even enjoy my first home brewed grande two-pump mocha, extra hot, of the day. As a tax payer, and I think generally common sensical citizen, I hate to see mountains of data collected-then distributed-in ways that make using it impossible. Even if the only use I have for it personally is to fume at the way some agencies treat their people.

At least it is not snowing here today. Have a transportation questionnaire for Our Fair City and our much hoped for, and worked on, hiking and biking trail to fill out for our congressman. He happens to be the chair of the transportation committee, for all the good it has done us thus far. 9 pages! By rights this shouldn't even be called a questionnaire as some responses will run to a few pages.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

why is Joel using the "Dan Zak" nom de plume?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Japanese tour buses have seatbelts and sometimes require using them (expressways).

I'm still amazed at having watched live sumo with English commentary while going along in a bus.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 21, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey everyone. I had to take (well, sorta) some more of my scrumptious cough medicine early evening yesterday, as the pollen has so invaded my system, there is clearly no way out. This means that I slept incredibly well and the dreams, while appropriately weird (as usual) were interesting enough to keep me sleeping, wanting to know what was next. But it also means that I'm still not quite ready to get into the "heavy machinery" bit yet today. I do need to go to the bank, but I think I'll pass on it until after lunch, when I might be awake enough to drive the car without causing or being in a major accident. The good news is that the coughing is better.

I've always enjoyed Gene Robinson's columns, which reflect a very centered temperament. He's a good guy and a very good writer. So, huzzahs to him!

And, of course, there are enough huzzahs left for the boodle, jointly and severally. Mostly.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 21, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Some interesting stuff here:!-931280040!1312700801?javax.portlet.tpst=4427b997caacf504a8bdba101891ef9a_ws_MX#_ftnref1

(Jeez, that's the longest link I've ever seen!) Among other things, it points out that more kids are killed while getting on/off and crossing to/from buses than are killed inside them (from lack of seat belts). It also mentions the fact that states as well as commercial carriers are allowed to purchases buses with belts if they want to, and a few have. So if your school bus doesn't have belts, perhaps the first people you should complain to is your local school board, which bought the buses. And it this board who is going to have to pay for belts, if that's what you want...which means YOU are gonna have to pay for them.

You want belts? You can have them any time you want.

From this link :

"While an average of 7 school-age passengers are killed in school bus crashes
each year, 19 are killed getting on and off the bus."

Note that this figure of 7 kids says nothing about whether lack of seat belts was a factor. We might speculate that it was, but how many of the 7? We know that seat belts are about 48 percent effective in cars, so if the same would hold in buses, seat belts would save about half the kids-- but not all of them (which is what all of you are assuming).

Note also that school bus seats are built differently than commercial bus seats. Because school buses don't have seat belts, the seats themselves are built to try to create a protective cacoon around the kids. The seat backs are very high, there is padding, and the seats are placed close together to try to encapsulate the kids. Now, one might want to argue this isn't sufficient, and that's as may be.

Note also that the numbers of school bus fatalities is very low, such that it is difficult getting meaningful statistics out of such low numbers, compared to, say, almost all other kinds of crashes.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"exoconsciousness coach"?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 21, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I saw the boss last night on television in a PBS show on Appalachia narrated by Sissy Spacek. He was talking about George Washington's exploits as surveyor and his early career as a soldier. It was quite a good show.

Posted by: -pj- | April 21, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I noticed that too. Zak is a refugee from that defunct sub-Style section the Sunday WaPo used to have, so it's nice that Joel threw the kid a bone. The Boss has graduated to covering real spaceships, not imaginary ones.

So my poorly remembered stat was close. I would have a greater fear of the injuries from weaponized seatbelt buckles on school buses.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. I cannot seem to stay awake today though I do not have firsttimeblogger's excellent excuse.

I notice upon reviewing the Pulitzer list that the WSJ is not on it. Part of me wants to gloat at Murdoch. Part of me notes that their economic collapse coverage was in fact pretty darn good.

Opening night of the Lion King tour tonight. Let the puppetry begin!

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 21, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Yello is on to something. Kids are the biggest hazard on a school bus, both to its safe operation and to other kids.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Allow me to clarify my earlier comment. I know there are plenty of people who accuse Gene Robinson of being racist, at least in the comments to his opinions (but then, this IS the internet), and so it is perhaps understandable that you'd take my comment in that light. But by "lipstick on a pig, renounce and repudiate, race card politics", I was indeed referring to the overall tenor of the entire election season. From both sides, and the multiple camps within both sides. I could probably come up with an extensive list of all the puerile "discourse" from every corner, but let me just cover the three that I was thinking of - the McCain/Palin campaign making a personal insult out of a common phrase, Clinton's insistence that Obama must "reject and renounce" - in those precise words - Farrakhan, and McCain's campaign manager accusing Obama of playing the race card in response to Obama implying that McCain's campaign might play the race card.

Further, and I believe it was loomis that pointed it out, "McCentury" was not a crack on McCain's age. It was an insulting way to convey a Democratic talking point that McCain was going to keep us in a war in Iraq for 100 years. Of course, what he actually said was something along the lines of, if it's necessary, we could be in Iraq - in the same capacity as we've been in Japan for 60 years and in South Korea for 50 years - and as long as Americans are not getting injured or killed, it's okay with him. It was on Olbermann's show, here's a link. Robinson comes on around 2:30. There's a discussion of what McCain said, which is fine, but there's no reason to throw namecalling into that discussion. That is what is distasteful. Interestingly, Olbermann brings up the McCentury = old point, and Robinson weighs in on that, too.

I've lurked on this blog for a long time, and I'm pretty familiar with the prevailiing political views here. I don't always agree, but I usually find this to be an entertaining read. Much more so than Robinson, in fact, particularly the comments. I am a bit surprised and disappointed that the first thing SciTim and dmd found in my comment was an undertone of racism. If Joel had written a post about Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck getting a Pulitzer (knock on wood), I'd have probably replied with much the same thing.

I've got no problem with Robinson expressing his views from his perspective as a black guy. I do have a problem with him stooping to name calling, no matter how many of his colleagues are doing the same.

Posted by: tomsing | April 21, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Yes, you were pretty much right on, yello. And it gets into an area no gummint agency wants to touch with a 10-foot pole, which is basically how much money do you want to spend saving a single life? Or, say, six lives? And the minute you say "children's lives" the hysteria factor goes up 20-fold.

Then there is the enforcement question. The gummint spends beaucoup money trying to get states to enforce seat belt laws in cars. [Did you know that one state, New Hampshire, STILL has no seat belt law for adults? None! Zero!] So in addition to actually buying and installing seat belts in commercial and school buses, zackly how much money do you want the state and fed gummints to spend *enforcing* seat belts on buses? Is every Metro bus driver gonna have to walk up and down the aisle making sure people have their belts buckled?

Because here's the tremendously huge rub: if you put seat belts on a school bus and little Johnny gets killed anyway because he wasn't wearing his belt, you are gonna have HUGE liability lawsuits all over the place. Ditto commercial buses.

How are you gonna enforce belt use on a Greyhound or Trailways bus? You gonna have a flight attendent walk up and down the aisles inspecting, like they do on airplanes? Is the driver gonna refuse to move until everyone is buckled? What is the driver's liability if a passenger is unbuckled? What is the company's liability?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the clarification, tomsing.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 21, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Because I have to do all the work around here, the series is called 'Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People' and the next airing of the 'New Green World' episode is 3:30 a.m. on WETA (26). There are three more episodes in the series, each premiering on Mondays at 10:30 p.m.

If only the guests on the show had some sort of newsletter or electronic forum to let his fans know when they were making appearances on nationally broadcast documentaries.

Thanks to the miracle of FiOS Remote, I have programmed the first three episodes. If had better skills I would learn how to connect the cable to the video card on my computer and capture what is surely the PBS Talking Head Expert performance of the year.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Since I couldn't decide on whether to use third person singular or plural for my hypothetical expert(s), I used both.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Pssst -- NEW KIT!

Sorry for shouting, but I thought it might help wake up Ivansmom (and, well, me).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 21, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

BTW, happy birthday to you, Queen Elizabeth II (who still looks a lot like my Aunt Barbara).

Also, happy birthday, City of Rome (Italy, not all those also-rans and wannabes). Even though you are 2,762 years young today, but don't look a day over, oh, two grand or so. Maybe 21, 22 hundred, tops.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 21, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Well clarified, tomsing.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 21, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

tomsing, I'll post this on the new Kit as well: Sorry, man. I caught the part of your concerns about racism, and conflated it with the different thing that you were saying at the time about Robinson. I apologize.

I completely missed the meaning of the "McCentury" crack, where I certainly agree with you that McCain was unfairly misrepresented. His age was fair game for a position in which physical stamina is a part of the job (look at how all Presidents (except for W!) have been aged by the stress of the office), but he definitely did not state anything like a strategic goal of keeping US troops in Iraq for 100 years. That was an unfair hit by Robinson and others.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 21, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: omnigood | April 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

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