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From Jars to Stars

This is going to be a spacey week on the blog, as I'm down here at the Cape for the shuttle launch, and will be reporting on the Hubble servicing mission. In the last 18 hours, since arriving on the scene, I've learned a ton of stuff, including the fact that one of the things I never intend to do in my lifetime is cut metal and operate power tools while wearing a pressurized suit in the vacuum of space. This is a very hard mission, but it's going to turn the Hubble into essentially a brand new, and better, telescope.

I'll post something shortly about all the gadgets involved in this mission, but first I need to get straight the difference betwixt the RSU Changeout Tool, the Contingency Extraction Block, the Card Extraction and Insertion Tool.

You should have seen the guy from ATK use all these customized tools to demonstrate how astronauts are going to break into a spectrograph that was never meant to be repaired. It looked like a challenging job even in the media center. So imagine that in space, at 17,000 miles per hour.

The really big news so far has been my discovery that Ball Aerospace, which built most of the instruments on the Hubble, is the very same company that used to make Ball jars. My theory is that all those years of making jars that exploit the vacuum seal process for preserving food has made Ball really good at creating complex scientific instruments such as cameras and spectrographs for use in the vacuum (!!!!!!!!) of space. In your heart you know this must be true. Good jars, good astrophysical instruments. The attitude at Ball shoud be, if we can keep beans fresh for six months, then by god we can make a device that will penetrate the cosmos and discern the foam-like structure of dark-matter binding the galactic super clusters!

In any case, here's my story about the mission in today's paper.

And here's my web story this morning about all the gadgetry:

With the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope just hours away, a key fact keeps popping up: The Hubble is not a single instrument. It's an agglomeration of instruments. It's a big, cavernous spacecraft capable of housing an ensemble of devices.

If the Hubble were a TV show it would be like "Cheers" or "Hill Street Blues," with each instrument/character bringing eccentricities and subplots to the narrative.

The instruments have been in the media spotlight in the 24-hour countdown to Monday afternoon's scheduled launch of the shuttle Atlantis, with engineers and scientists extolling the virtues of the gadgets and aerospace companies passing out gadget-glorifying press packets.

Consider, for example, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, the subject of an hour-long briefing Sunday by some of NASA's top scientists. The WFPC2 -- "Wiff-pick 2," in NASA vernacular -- captured many of the images that made the Hubble famous. It is now going to be swapped out (replaced by Wiff-pick 3) and lugged back to Earth aboard the shuttle. It will then have a valedictory scientific moment, as NASA plans to study the abundance of micrometeorite impacts on a surface of the instrument that has been exposed to space for 15 years.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 11, 2009; 7:37 AM ET
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Next: Space Is Filthy


First?!? Yoicks.

Whether you're fer or agin the space program, you can't help but admire the MacGyver-like repair jobs that keep things like the Hubble flying, Spirit roving, Voyager voyaging and Apollo 13 not skipping off into space.

Posted by: byoolin1 | May 11, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I remember when I learned that the Ball I was dealing with was "that" Ball.

It was a bit odd actually.

That they were presenting advanced technical concepts was all fine and good, but that they were the ones behind the famous jars was what really got me excited.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Talk about juggling to keep all your Balls in the air.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

To make a point both ironic and pedantic, if you are hanging about in Hubble's orbit without the benefit of a re-entry vehicle, you better gosh darn hope you are traveling at 17,000 mph.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Plus, the company was the inspiration for Sylvia Plath's 'The Ball Jar'.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

RD, I had a sudden image in my head of an astronaut looking down with the same expression on his face that Wile E. Coyote has when he realizes he's ten feet beyond the edge of the cliff.

I hope the Shuttle carries a small supply of those "Oh, No!" signs.

Posted by: byoolin1 | May 11, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Did you realize: "Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket on March 16, 1926. The flight lasted just 2.5 seconds, reaching an altitude of 12.3 meters and landing (crashing, actually) 55.2 meters from the launch site in his Aunt Effie's cabbage patch."

Ball jars. Cabbage patch.

NASA mission to Mars. White House garden.

Coincidence. I think not.

Obama is an alien. You read it here first, folks.

Posted by: mj777tgggg | May 11, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

This is what I was thinking RD Padouk, 17 000 mph is a good thing when one is travelling along the Hubble spacecraft.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 11, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Good theory on being an alien. The great thing is that none of us anticipated that an alien would be so funny or at least have great delivery.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Outside of being a valuable tool for science, the Hubble telescope always reminds me of the complex role that people have in such endeavors.

People, of course, were who came up with the scheme in the first place. People on the ground were the ones who mucked up the Hubble’s optics, and people in orbit were the ones who undid the damage. Non scientific people can appreciate the aesthetic wonders seen from the telescope, especially after scientific people have toyed with the color and orientation a bit to better appeal to those aesthetics.

All great endeavors incorporate the strengths and foibles of the people involved, of course. But the Hubble Telescope seems to have brought these issues into particularly sharp, um, focus.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Well, Ball Aerospace may be good at making Bell jars and seeing into the depths of space but can they put toothpaste into tubes every day? If you want the spectrograph repaired get a company like Colgate/Palmolive to open a spectrograph that was never meant to be opened and get stuff in there properly. Remember, though Bell uses jars Colgate uses space age tubes and once the toothpaste is in there it will last for centuries, not just months.

Posted by: bevjims1 | May 11, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"Oh my God, it's full of *jars*!"


Posted by: -bc- | May 11, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Now that I know how, I play with the brightness and saturation on all my pictures. Can't blame NASA for doing the same thing. When they hire the airbrushers that do Allure covers, then we've crossed a line.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

mj777tgggg, I think I read that Obama was a Vulcan sometime last spring.


Posted by: -bc- | May 11, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Well then, bc, it's no wonder he's doing so well at the new job.

Posted by: slyness | May 11, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

That would make Rahm Emmanuel a Klingon, Hillary Clinton a Romulon and Tim Geithner Ferengi.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

One more point of pedantry - hopefully your 17,000 mph is in the same direction as the Hubble, or the next mission is going to be a lot tougher than just fixing a spectrograph.

Posted by: tomsing | May 11, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I need to talk about comedian Wanda Sykes' performance at the National Correspondents' Dinner Saturday night in Washington, D.C.--specifically her line about wishing that Rush Limbaugh's kidneys would fail.

I've see kidney failure up close and personal--my father--and I wouldn't wish this organ collapse on my worst enemy. I wish Ms. Sykes could have joined me Friday night at the Relay for Life walk, sponsored by the American Cancer Society at the Helotes High School track, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

I walked for former Helotes mayor Jon Allan because part of his brain was removed because he was diagnosed with glioma. I walked for Sen. Ted Kennedy.

I walked for my husband because part of his arm was removed last August because he had malignat melanoma. I walked for Sen. John McCain.

I walked for my mother-in-law, now dead from lung cancer. I walked for other family members and friends, longtime smokers like my mother-in-law: Uncle Roy, Aunt Ginny, Cousin Shirley. The boy I had such a crush on in high school and his sister, both now dead from cancer.

I walked for politicians and celebrities. I walked for Sen. Arlen Specter, Elizabeth Edwards, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Patrick Swayze, Robin Roberts, Fran Drescher, Peter Jennings.

I walked for all the unknowns and lesser-knowns, the loved ones and friends of locals, who paid tribute to them by designing paper bags, which served as lighted luminarias ringing the track, the luminarias clustered thick in some places.

It had hit 100 degrees here Friday, so we didn't begin walking until after 9:30 p.m. We only did two times around the track. People were arriving to walk as we were leaving. There were many tents pitched on the infield. Walkers ranged from toddlers to seniors.

Even though I had to wrap my ankle in an ace bandage on Saturday and stay off my feet, Friday night's walk for cancer was worth any additional stress to my ankle. I had painfully twisted my left ankle twice on Wednesday during a walk around the neighborhood with my dog. My blind left eye robs me of depth perception when stepping off curbs.

If this joke by Sykes is what Hollywood and the press corps--dressed to the nines on Saturday night--flocked to hear: a joke about wishing ill health upon another, then I am deeply saddened by the new face of the Democratic party.

Posted by: laloomis | May 11, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Helotes

Posted by: laloomis | May 11, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse


byoolin, I tend to think they'd have the little "help!" signs. A scoche more useful.

And I'm hoping to listen in on the spacewalk chatter... Think they'd say "oops" (recalling the great Bill Cosby bits)?


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

yello, would that make Ken Salazar a Horta?

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, this Ball company's diversity of R&D and product development must lead to a clever Binks joke. Pity I'm not clever enough to produce it.

Waiting to board my flight to Toronto after a most wonderful weekend with the Gs (did I mention they are the best?) and visits with many many fine Boodlers. WiFi is a fine thing.

Have a great day, everyone.

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

... Tim Geithner Ferengi.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 9:19 AM

HA HA HA!!!!!!

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I guess Corning makes fiber optics as well as unbreakable dinner plates carried around by fashion models... Ball Jars - Ball Astrophysical Instrumentation - Awesome.

Posted by: newmom2009 | May 11, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Front page alert, BTW.

C'mon, guys, that 17,000 miles an hour thing is waaay misleading. It's not like some poor astronaut is gonna be clinging madly to the Hubbell with the wind in his/her hair and mosquitoes squashed all over his/her face plate.

However, this mission does suggest a new motto for NASA, something along the lines of "Space: not just a new frontier, it's also an opportunity for some breaking and entering."

The big problem I foresee with this mission is getting a big pot of water up there, boiling it, and then immersing all the Ball equipment in the boiling water before putting the lid back on. I hope they've got some $28,000 potholders with them.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse


.... but a dog would still want to stick its head out the window.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

At first I thought the post title was some sort of intra-genre dig at Scotty's enginering assistant. The one that's a cross between an Ewok and a mogwai that's had a midnight snack. But then I realized this was the internet's way of saying I've been on too many Star Trek message boards this weekend.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

A dog would *want* to stick his head out the window, but fortunately they are unable to operate the window cranks.

Yep, Ball and Ford both have a big presence in space contracting. Ball sold off the consumer glass-products division ages ago.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

And for assigning Republicans to alien species, you are allowed to use the Wired magazine list of The 10 Cheesiest TOS Monsters.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Joel, can you dig up anything about whether the crew got a special quarantine showing of the new Star Trek? Maybe on the IMAX in the KSC visitors center?

Posted by: tomsing | May 11, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Plus a really good candy thermometer.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

We kinda flogged the orbital mechanics pony to death three months ago.

I just want to see a commercial with two space shuttles pulling up to each other and one rolls down the window. Then Obama sticks his head out and asks the other guy if he has any Grey Poupon.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Ball still makes aerosol cans though. Check for cans of wd40 and drimwip(TM) in the shuttle.

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

I walked for my mother, too, who survived breast cancer for 20 more years.

I also thought Obama's oblique joke about swine flu at the National Correspondents' Dinner Saturday night was way off the mark--about Hillary returning from Mexico and huggging and kissing him.

Perhaps someone didn't brief Obama that the name of the first person to die from swine flu in the United State, the 33-year-old pregnant mother from Harlingen, Texas, was Judy Dominguez Trunnell. I bet Obama's briefers omitted the Dominguez portion of her name.

On Sunday morning, I removed the ace bandage from my ankle, but still wasn't too mobile. Having begun Larry McMurtry's memoir "Books" on Saturday, I decided, after seeing the dust jacket for "Memoirs" to dust and reorganize my books in two categories: media and science.

In resorting the books about science, I put two of author Laurie Garrett's books together, the 1994 "The Coming Plague: New Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance" and the 2000 "Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health."

Interesting, too, isn't it, that during the two weeks of media coverage of swine flu, CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Laurie Garrett. During these two weeks, Garrett made some additional guest appearance on cable.

However, when Blitzer introduced author Laurie Garrett, Blitzer mentioned her earlier book--with Garrett explaining that she didn't address influenzas in "The Coming Plague"--while Blitzer, if I recall correctly and I think I do, failed to mention "Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health."

Blitzer should invite Garrett back some time to CNN's Situation Room to discuss her second, almost-800-page, certainly relevant book.

Posted by: laloomis | May 11, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

last kit, you mentioned stuff in the attic. I have a few boxes that might be useful, but two retired couples on the street have their garages full top to bottom with boxes. The contents must all be green slime by now.

Today's Ball sounds a bit like Japan's Kyocera, a company that started out to make "fine ceramics" and was techie from the start. As a sideline, they make ceramic kitchen knives.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 11, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Pickles in space. Inspiring!

Actually, those are fine, homespun beginnings, from a homemade jam and catching lightning bugs childhood to enabling the future.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 11, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Yello - NASA does much more than adjust the contrast level, I fear. I know Joel has discussed the colorization of the "Pillars of Creation" before. Here's a Discover magazine article that talks about it as well.

I don't really get too worked up over this, because I am keenly aware that false colors can enhance an image. Still, I think people should understand what is going on.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

RD, I am keenly aware that I have no clue.

I do have a certain fondness for pickles.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I like them snappy gherkins myself.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

This sort of mission is one of the finest uses of humans and technology. I wonder if it's too late for Obama to make Perkin-Elmer give back their bonus money for the initial lens fiasco in '90.

I'm such a fan of Hubble. It rivals the '49 Hudson in all-around coolness. I have a false color Orion nebula image on my desktop.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 11, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Joel: A quibble about your article. Galileo didn't invent the telescope. That was done by several guys in the Netherlands. Galileo does get proper credit for vastly improving on the design, such that instead of about a 3X magnification, he got to somewhere around 30X and could therefore see things like the moons of Jupiter. That, of course, got him into all sorts of trouble withe Church.

Posted by: ebtnut | May 11, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

We'll probably go see the latest Star Trek film tonight--a celebrations of sorts for the seven years that Texan Gene Roddenberry spent with LAPD.

We thought we might head out to see it yesterday, but with my ankle, the heat and humidity, the near-certain huge throngs at the local multiplex, we put it off until today, although we were still dithering last night about whether to see one of the later showing last night at 9 p.m.

I'm not wildly enthusiastic about the latest reincarnation of the Star Trek series, as one film analyst mentioned that one of the demographics who may not want to see it is older women. But as Whoopi Goldberg mentioned at Roddenberry's funural in 1991, since when did a black woman ever get sent into space to determine the future? In Roddenberry's vision of the future, she did.

Although my Aunt Carol drove Gene Roddenberry several times to Los Angeles' Union Station, she and Uncle Carl were closer socially to Gene's brother, James...I think it was, entertaining the other Roddenberry and his wife on several occasions. The Roddenberrys' dad was LAPD, too.

I'll see the film on behalf of my family, which includes my husband, who wants to watch the prequel. It really does have to be a prequel doesn't it? I mean the pudgy guy who advertises for Travelocity doesn't have much draw any more for pubescent teens, does he? He's not much of a love interest any more either.

Posted by: laloomis | May 11, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Off kit already (am I the first?)... Just want to share this ad that came in my email today... Who would need a Sport model washer and dryer?

Posted by: -TBG- | May 11, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

SCC: with the Church

Posted by: ebtnut | May 11, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

laloomis-you could save yourself a lot of time if you followed lone mule's example. Just type "Obama stinks" and "this blog stinks" in a word document, then copy and paste as desired.

Wanda Sykes wasn't particularly funny, in part because it's not very funny to wish ill on others and because she strayed from the practice of targeting only the current administration. The prez on the other hand killed. The only clinker was the Cheney/Carnegie mash up of "How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People." (Not an undeserved dig, just not very funny-even to people old enough to get it.)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse


So do agree that Obama is the funniest alien that we know of?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, frosti, no can do. Even Krauthammer, when he spoke at Trinity University here recently, said he didn't want to see Obama fail. I don't want Obama to fail either--there are several issues with which I am in wholehearted agreement with Obama. I guess those didn't catch your attention?

Did anyone mention that Roddenberry was quite the secularist? I see that there is a discussion of this topic on the home page.

O know, frosti, let's discuss the Swat Valley, Buner and Lower Dir districts. Did I mention that Bill Clinton spoke at our Trinity University on Friday night, an event closed to the public, probably given the size of Laurie Auditorium.

However, local reporter Anton Caputo decided to focus on Bill Clinton's remarks about the Internet during Clinton's Friday night speech.

“You are living in the most interdependent age in human history,” the 42nd president told the audience at Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium. “There has never been a time when there was more movement of people, information and ideas or shared culture. ... When I became president there were only 50 sites on the World Wide Web. There have been more sites than that posted since we have been here talking.”

LL: On Saturday, we did go out, about 1.5 miles, to vote for a promising new, 34-year-old mayor. I was behind Castro (as I supported his twin in his race for the state legislature..,perhaps you recall the Twingate news that went national?) when he ran four years ago. Very unsettling to think that only 12 percent of San Antonians turned out to vote.

Posted by: laloomis | May 11, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

We are awash in exciting space telescopy.

Phase two for Spitzer space scope begins.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 11, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Except for Jar Jar Binks.

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

Howdy y'all. I am very excited by this Hubble mission. This is home repair on a grand scale. The use of Ball equipment makes it even better - as Joel says, those folks have been producing advanced food technology for years, so why not expand into space? I'd feel more comfortable, though, if I knew whether a roll or two of Duct tape made it on board. You can fix almost anything with duct tape.

I am intrigued by one brief mention in Joel's story: that .22-size hole in the antenna. Now hereabouts there'd be no question how that hole got there. What I want to know, is who's been doing target practice in space? And what did they do with the empty beer cans?

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea that each of the instruments is an individual with unique characteristics.

There is laboratory equipment where I work for which the techs have affectionate nicknames. (And some not so affectionate.) In addition to understanding he quirks of these machines, the techs always have interesting anecdotes to tell about them. They are like car aficionados that way. The emotional bond between technician and machine can be very strong, if distinctly one-sided.

I have no doubt that when the Hubble is finally retired, there will some tears shed for that "Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

TBG, those models didn't look sporty to me - I was expecting team logos or something - a Redskins or Nascar inspired design :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | May 11, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

dmd, what you can't see is that underneath, the clothes washer is wearing a jock strap, and the dryer is on steroids.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Thinking about it, if the Hubble is going 17,000 miles an hour and you are too, shouldn't it just be like standing still? So it will just be like any normal repair job.

Until somebody drops a wrench, of course.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Frosty - In retrospect I kinda miss ol Lone Mule. He had enough respect for the kit and boodle to actually comment on what was being discussed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The "Card Extraction/Insertion Tool" sounds a lot like the needle nose pliers I use to change video cards in my computer. I just hope they don't fry the motherboard like I did.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Here's the thing. If an astronaut in orbit drops the wrench it should stay right with him or her. It's only if it gets pushed or kicked that it will fly away.

The nifty thing is that everything is orbit really is falling to the ground. It's just that these things are also moving in a tangent so that the net motion is a curve. This was Newton's big insight.

So if the forward motion slows, or stops, the net motion will be straight down. That's why to re-enter the atmosphere spaceships slow themselves down with "retro-rockets"

So if you can envision that, say, the moon's curved path is because it is simultaneously falling towards the earth *and* moving in a tangent line, then you are an honorary physicist.

And I can share with you the secret handshake.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not an astrophysicist!

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I lived on the Contingency Extraction Block. Rough neighbourhood.

Posted by: engelmann | May 11, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

On the Ball jar thread, the spacesuits that were used to clothe and protect the astronauts on the moon were made by a bra company. Makes sense, though, because they already had seamstresses who could make the tiny, fine, and perfect stitching that needed to be done. So the next time you are in orbit, make sure you bring your Wonderbra!

Posted by: Gomer144 | May 11, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I've always wanted a space suit that both lifts AND separates.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

You're darn tootin' a tear or two will be shed when STIS is finally out of action completely.

If you check photos from the interior of the Shuttle cabin, it's clear that there's duct tape all over the place, holding random objects in place as needed.

The other day, I was down at the National Air and Space Museum, in the Explore the Universe gallery, looking at the alternate mirror for Hubble. For the zillionth time, I wondered: why don't we build Hubble 2 and fly that puppy? The Hubble mirror-figure problems were a pesky quirk of fate, because the shape of the alternate mirror is perfect. If I recall correctly (and I very well may not), the mirror in HST was chosen because it was (a) ready a little sooner, and (b) exceeded surface-smoothness specifications by a little more than the alternate. We could use the same designs, upgrade the electronics, and launch a second Hubble, one with a perfect mirror. If we use the same design, we would be stuck with launching on the Shuttle, which would be the biggest problem -- you would still want some robotic system to push it to a higher orbit. Ideal, of course, would be to launch it on a non-Shuttle launcher and put it into high Earth orbit, where no servicing mission would be required, but the superior environment would make it less necessary, too.

Oh, well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that the replacement for WFPC2 is WF3 -- no PC, because it has the same high pixel density in all regions of the camera in the new design. WF/PC and WFPC2 had to cope with limitations in the technology of the time by having a subset of the field of view filled by a higher-resolution element for targets with significant spatial variability (like the surface of Mars, for example, while retaining the ability to image a much larger field of view.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. What SciTim said.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I might point out that I applied to NASA to be a foul language instructor.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

It is a sad commentary on the state of science and technology reporting that Mr. Auchenbach has just discovered Ball Aerospace is a major player on the Hubble and other space programs. The company has been in the space business for at least 50 years. No wonder people don't support space exploration. The media does a really poor job of explaining to the taxaying public what agencies like NASA actually do.

Posted by: Blue_Moose | May 11, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Um, yes. Those early space suits were made by International Latex of Dover, Delaware. The tech company is still around.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 11, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Blue_Moose, the problem is that, for the most part, the media spends most of its time, when it should be working, screwing around on Achenblog.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Blue Moose, since you're not familiar with Achenbach's science reporting (I'm guessing, from your spelling), you may have missed his actual comment. It is pretty clear from the Kit above that Joel was well aware that Ball Aerospace is "a major player" in space program technology. His excitement comes from his discovery that Ball Aerospace is, essentially, the Ball Jar guys.

Now, you may have missed the hints that in addition to science reporting Achenbach writes this blog, which uses humor either as a good in itself or to comment on serious topics. You may not agree, but I for one think the Ball Jar / Ball Space nexus is, as Joel suggests, funny.

I understand your complaint against mainstream media science and technical reporting, but this is the wrong venue. Go Google Joel Achenbach, read some of his voluminous and clear science reporting, then see if your complaint needs to be focused elsewhere.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Ball Aerospace is the same company that "used to make" Ball jars?

I assure you, they still make them, and people still use them. I'm guessing our author hasn't been out of the city recently (or ever).

Posted by: lofan1 | May 11, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

RD_P, SciTim -- aren't you glad they chose STIS instead of Spectroscopic Heuristic Imaging Telescope?

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The suggestion that Joel needs to travel more gets the Medal of Unintentional Irony.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Just finished grilling some broccoli, zucchini and spring onions for my salad. Anyone want to come over for lunch?

OK, back to the next salad step.

Slice some carrots, cucumbers, and celery...

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I love it when somebody tries to pick nits with Joel and gets it completely wrong. It is just so, so, perfect, somehow.

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Me, me, RT!

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

lofan1, I didn't think Ball made Ball Jars, but that Jarden did. Ball makes kitchen stuff with metal and plastic.

Also, it's not a question of does Joel get out of the city, but which city does he get out of this week.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 11, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, a quick visit to the Ball website confirms that Ball sold their jar business to in 1993 as Alltrista Corporation (which is now Jarden Corp.).

So Joel was absolutely right.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

lofan1 -- sorry, but I believe that Joel is correct and that you are not. "They" still make Ball jars, but it is a different "they". As I learned when visiting Muncie, IN some years ago, home of the original Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company and Ball State University, the aerospace segment became the main company and ultimately sold off the jar- and glass-ware manufacturing business. The jars are still made, they still are called Ball (according to what I see on the shelves at the grocery store), but it's actually a different company now from the aerospace component, which is the inheritor of the company lineage.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the garbled post. Should read "sold their jar business in 1993 to Allrista..."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 11, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you could have taken another day. Salad is starting to look yummy. Pepper, Parmesan vinaigrette dressing OK, Yoki?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused, lofam. According to ScienceTim posting at 9:56 above, "contracting. Ball sold off the consumer glass-products division ages ago." ScienceTim is a very reliable reporter and also has occasion to know something about aerospace products. Perhaps someone is still making Ball jars in the Ball factory other than Ball.

Re: whether the author has ever been out of the city, I repeat my suggestion to Blue Moose: Google Joel Achenbach. Since you're interested in reporter travel generally, you'll want to read more than just the science reporting, though it involves a fair amount of travel.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'll pull the loaf of hearty multigrain whole wheat out of the freezer, and the whipped butter, and be right over, RT! Yum.

SciTim, was the original mirror for Hubble the one that was farsighted (or was it nearsighted? I forget.)?

Posted by: slyness | May 11, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Double-whipped butter... Mmmmmmmmm...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

OK by me, especially if we put on a little extra to soak up with slyness' good bread.

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

You wouldn't be going to be shaking that dressing up in a Ball jar, would you, Weed?

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Y'all are too quick for me. Clearly I need some of Weed's lunch.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Sullivan reviews Bob Wright's book on God:

Since I can't understand the review I really doubt I could wrap my head around the book.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Sounds good, rt. I'll stop off and pick up some (I think) good baklava. I haven't submitted it for TBG's approval yet.

frosti, you coming?

Posted by: -dbG- | May 11, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Is this Taking Umbrage Monday? Happy Holidays!

Posted by: seasea1 | May 11, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Am I too late for lunch? Just need to pack up a few after-meeting things then I'm headed home for a longish working lunch. In honor of the kit I have home canned salsa to share. Also, some goat cheese from a local, off the grid, source. So glad the local hippies have turned to unregulated stinky cheese over some of their previous income sources.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I still have a baguette and some of the wonderful Irish butter and great somewhat-stinky cheeses Yoki and I enjoyed last night on my deck. I'll bring it all along.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 11, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Ah, back from making salad and enjoying right now. Does need a bit of bread...

Dressing was whisked ... but do have 3 Ball jars on counter.

Ah, all I need now i a half glass of a nice Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

TBG! Can you bring along that other bottle of Sauvignon we bought, for Weed?

Posted by: Yoki | May 11, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

There's "jar Ball" and they spun off into "space Ball."

Not the company that makes "ball valves."


Posted by: Jumper1 | May 11, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

It turned chilly in Carolina. I'm sitting here shivering. Since I was overheated from lawnmowing yesterday, it still "feels" good at least psychologically. I think I'm going to put on a sweater, though.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 11, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Hi slyness. As I've been crafting the following response to your question (which is more than you asked for), I have been wondering if I am sharing more than I am entitled to. However, some of my sources have passed away, and I would like to get this out of my head before it becomes all jumbled up. I believe all this material is more or less in the public record, so I'm going to go for it.

Hubble has the same primary mirror it always had -- that component is not replaceable without bringing Hubble down in the Shuttle cargo bay. Technically, that could be done, but no one ever has taken that suggestion seriously. It would make the Shuttle weigh more on landing than it ever has done, and is a level of risk that has caused no one to consider it a serious option.

Anyway: NASA contracted with two companies to make identical mirrors in competition, Perkin-Elmer (now Hughes Danbury Optical, unless they've been sold again -- I don't know), and Eastman Kodak. The Perkin-Elmer mirror was ready somewhat earlier. There were stringent requirements on surface quality, which were exceeded by both mirrors, but exceeded slightly better by the Perkin-Elmer mirror. An interesting quirk of history -- there is no actual requirement in the specifications that the mirror have the correct shape. Correct shape was enforced by the knowledge that if the other guy made it rightly and you made it wrongly, the other guy would get a bigger pay-day. Both companies performed two independent types of tests, but P-E chose to ignore the difficult high-precision test results in favor of the simpler (but lower-precision) optical test. Another quirk of the specs, the testing methodology during manufacture was controlled by the manufacturer. NASA was only supposed to do acceptance-testing, but they lacked a real facility to do so, so they accepted the manufacturer's word on it. I guess the invisible hand of the market was supposed to guide the mirror-grinder.

As you might guess, a lot was learned about procurement contracting from this process, the most important lesson being -- just because you consider something to be implicit in the contract, doesn't mean that the contractor sees it that way (like, if we contract you to make a curved mirror, making the right curvature is the essence of the contract). The next most important lesson was, don't let astronomers negotiate anything, even those astronomers who have learned the first lesson. P-E was required by fiduciary responsibility to share-holders to request their bonus for completion of the contract on-time, under-budget, and satisfying all specs. Because of the way the contract was written, they won that argument.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoyed the grilled purple spring onions. Very nice on a salad. They turned from a sharp onion taste to sweet.

I love my Calphalon grill pan.

Without it, life itself would be impossible.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

So how come Hubble is all better now? The mirror defect was diagnosed by making copious observations of stars and deducing the style and magnitude of the defect, which was confirmed by examining P-E's testing equipment and discovering the thin paint flake on the end of the rod that threw off the whole thing by a critical fraction of a millimeter. A new instrument, called COSTAR was installed in the first servicing mission (1993, I have been reminded), replacing the High-Speed Photometer. COSTAR deployed a set of mirrors on little stems that intercepted the light beam to each of the other three off-axis instruments (Goddard High-Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS), Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS), and the Faint Object Camera (FOC)) with small mirrors designed to correct the distortion in the beam. The single on-axis instrument, the WFPC (Wide Field and Planetary Camera) was built with a duplicate back-up on the ground, in case the primary failed and needed replacement. The back-up had four of its mirrors replaced with slightly different curvature, correcting the main mirror's defect without requiring any additional reflections beyond the original design. This is important, because every mirror reflection loses a little bit of light (especially in the UV, where surface reflectivity tends to be poor), any surface defects can scatter light and decrease efficiency, and every mirror is at best only an approximation to the intended shape -- the more reflections, the more the defects pile up. The off-axis instruments with COSTAR were better than without it, but better yet would be to not need it. WF/PC2 did not need it.

Since that servicing mission, GHRS, FOS, and FOC all have been removed (I saw FOC at the Air and Space Museum) and replaced by NICMOS, STIS, and the ACS. I think that COSTAR is still up there, just filling a bay, but I don't recall for certain -- perhaps Joel's article about the instruments (which I have not yet read) will clear up my memory.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Atlantis launched 9 minutes ago, everything appears OK, now in orbit.

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

I forgot to be explicit: the back-up to WFPC, with the corrected optics, was flown and installed as WFPC2, which has been working for 15 years. WFPC2 also differs from WFPC in that it has a significantly greater UV capability. After the original mirror defect was discovered, one couldn't help but notice that the remaining science program until the servicing mission was directed towards things that could only be done from space, and that meant ultraviolet light. The original HST instrument complement had UV capability, but really was more like a groundbased optical telescope put on top of a VERY high mountain. The Hubble mirror defect pushed a lot of reluctant astronomers toward finally recognizing the value of the UV portion of the spectrum as something that can't be investigated well from the ground, no matter how good the telescope might be.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Famous Ball State alumni include David Letterman, Joyce DeWitt from Three's Company and Oprah's Stedman.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

And Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow! A new way to prevent heart attacks!

Posted by: -TBG- | May 11, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for that explanation, SciTim! I think I understand most of it. The procurement errors, absolutely, the technical stuff in theory at least. I'm glad they were able to find a reasonable correction.

Weed, lunch was fab, thank you!

Posted by: slyness | May 11, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm so old that when Science Tim starts talking about an "original HST instrument" I wonder what Harry Truman had to do with the Hubble.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 11, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

There is a Garfield Elementary in Muncie. They use Garfield as a mascot, with Jim Davis' blessing. He is a patron saint of the school. Makes it hard to hate him just because, you know, the Garfield comic... isn't very funny.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I liked Jim Davis in Tales of Wells Fargo. Not so much in Dallas.

And to stay on-kit, he played Clyde Hubble in Wagon Train. See? On the Boodle everything eventually all comes together.

Hey, just tryin' ta help.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, you are so welcome! Thanks for coming by and having lunch. In real life, making a lunch on a weekday is a great way to use the meal. I have friends who work from their home and it turns into our social hour.

It is a great way to get a bit of the energy from others that most in-office workers get just by being in an office with others.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I see that much of what I said today was already covered in Joel's article and in things Ed Weiler was willing to say in public.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 11, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

FYI, don't go over to Milbank's Make-a-Joke-About-Limbaugh blog. It's really brutal over there, and the Conservs are really bleating. It's like Silence of the Lambs without the chianti. Not pleasant at all.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

McKiernan sacked, McChrystal to take over in Afghanistan.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-you know what a rubber necker I am, if I don't make it back to work, or boodle, after lunch you know where I'll be.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Don't point out briar patches I shouldn't jump into. Very counterproductive. At least for me.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

There's even a Garfield-themed license plate in Indiana...

Posted by: -TBG- | May 11, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Frosty, yello, don't go over there! Seriously.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Forgive me

Q: What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenberg?
A: One's a flaming Nazi gasbag, the other's a dirigible

Posted by: Mauckjw | May 11, 2009 11:37 AM

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge- you know preaching abstinence doesn't work.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. Just so that those who were wondering are aware - Yep, my grandmother's house in Santa Barbara is gone in the fire. Since reports of the immediate area used unpleasant terms like "devastation", "desolation", and "moonscape", it wasn't a total surprise, but not much of a Mother's Day present.

(And for anyone who hadn't been aware of the situation, she is fine, got out of the house early in the week.)

Posted by: bobsewell | May 11, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I tried to post my Limbaugh joke but the punchline got held by the Worty Dird Filter.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

bobs-so sorry to hear that. I was holding out hope.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse


Sorry about the house. At least she is safe.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry about your grandmothers house Bob.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 11, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Whew, the Milbank comments just verify how truly difficult comedy writing is. For every slightly funny comment that could be tweaked into something LOL funny, there are a dozen really lame attempts and six defenders of the faith. I love the "everything he says is true, read the transcripts" type of Rush defense though. Fits right up there with "it must be true, my friend sent me an e-mail about it."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I'm glad your grandmother is safe, even if the house is gone. Hope she has adequate insurance and the fortitude to deal with all the issues without collapsing. Please go when you can.

Posted by: slyness | May 11, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, I giggled at the one about Rush's talent being on loan from God, and that even God has a few bad loans in these trying times...

Posted by: slyness | May 11, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

NPR had a story this weekend about how conservative viewers of Colbert think he is making jokes about right wingers because he really sympathizes with them. It's a form of hearing what you want to hear cognitive dissonance common to dittoheads as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

bobs, such a shame about the house.

frosti, next time please issue a warning before posting stuff like your 2:51 and 2:52. *vigorously mopping off monitor and keyboard*

Question for the boodle: who's the bigger pompous bloviator? Don Cherry or Rush Limbaugh?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 11, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry for your grandmother, Bob. Wildfire is a terrible thing and, whether or not you clear brush, replace shake roofs etc., there really isn't anything to be done. Once it is there it eats your house. I'm glad she left early. That was very sensible.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Question for the boodle: who's the bigger pompous bloviator? Don Cherry or Rush Limbaugh?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 11, 2009 3:27 PM


Clearly it's the guy who wastes all his hot air on trivia and not the guy talking about hockey.

Posted by: byoolin1 | May 11, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Better Wanda Sykes line:

"Rush wants Obama to fail. I hope Rush fails. His next court-ordered drug test."


"...His next post-sex-tourism cavity search."


"...His next right wing dog whistle hearing test."

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., so sorry about the house, but YAY that she's OK!

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Uh. Wrong humor related WaPo blog.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed to see just how much umbrage was taken by those humor conservatives. I guess they don't ever listen to the likes of their own folks. Hey, here is Ann Coulter...

"We need to execute people like (John Walker Lindh) in order to physically intimidate liberals."

"Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots."

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women. It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it's the party of women and 'We'll pay for health care and tuition and day care -- and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?'"

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I had to give up the chase over on Milbank's. Particularly after I realized that the most vociferous pro-Rush commenter's handle referred to a British neo-Nazi group.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I told ya not to go over there. It was pretty pathetic. Be interesting to see what Milbank's gonna do with all that sewage.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 11, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Bob S.,
As miserable as the Santa Barbara situation is (with even some historic buildings lost), at least the evacuations seem to have worked pretty well. Best wishes with rebuilding or relocating.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 11, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The ratio of funny to offal continues to diminish over at Milbank's place. But, I read it so you don't have to-

What’s the difference between Rush Limbaugh and a North Atlantic iceberg?

The iceberg wasn’t paid millions to sink a party.

Posted by: Bobzim1 | May 11, 2009 4:33 PM

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Keep an ear out for loud bangs in the west. This year they'll start firing up the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore. They're hoping for fusion ignition by 2010.

Here's a photo essay at Wired:

(Sorry if we already discussed this. I'm slow sometimes.)

Posted by: bobsewell | May 11, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bob... sorry about your grandmother's house. It's just things, though, right? Good that the people are OK.

Send her our best, please!

Posted by: -TBG- | May 11, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

bobs, I was just wondering about your grandmother's house earlier today. I'm sorry to hear your news.

Posted by: -bia- | May 11, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse


Science on the march.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

That onion article
is completely bogus!
We sniff, not drink pee...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 11, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

bobs, that was a terrible, terrible fire - I was so sorry to hear about your grandmother's house.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 11, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Woo hoo! Daughter got a summer job! She'll be a lifeguard at the pool directly across the street from our house.

Wow... I'm pretty proud of her for voluntary getting a job at age 15.

Posted by: TBG- | May 11, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I think she takes after her mother in preferring short commutes!

Brilliant, DoTBG!

Posted by: -dbG- | May 11, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

TBG, one word: sunscreen!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 11, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

First summer job and it doesn't involve driving duties for the rents? Man TBG, you and Dr. G have been living right.

I read it so you don't have to-In Milbank land things have descended into did not/did too, Milbank's the bad guy for starting all this, and (gasp) trading of all caps insults. I'm beginning to think perhaps the prez is about the only guy around capable of topical humor these days.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 11, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on the motivated teen. I sure could use some advice on this end. A week of nagging and he's just going through the motions.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Thistle! I used to have that album. I wondered where it went...

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 11, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

It is clear how the Post is going about saving money, they are going to fire everyone but Joel and let him write the whole thing.

Three articles and a video today!

Posted by: nellie4 | May 11, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

My first summer job was bus to the metro etc. Sometimes I walked home from the metro.

Sounds like TBG and Dr G. have been encouraging their kids in the right direction ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 11, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I am so sorry about your grandmother's house. What a shame. I'm glad she evacuated and hope she isn't too devastated by the whole situation.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 11, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Just saw a TV ad for the remake of "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3," with Denzel and Travolta topping the bill.

Having seen the original this weekend, I am somewhat less than overwhelmed with curiosity about the remake.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

First, thanks to BobS for the news about the National Ignition project. Between it and the Hadron Supercollider (or whatever it is), the world should end just anytime now.

Until then, congratulations to TBG on the dotter's summer job. The Boy, fortunately, is still young enough that I can just sign him up for stuff, see that he is transported, and he deals with it (of course, none of it is paid). Today I signed him up for a week of rowing. If he likes it (or perhaps even if he doesn't) he'll do another week or two later in the summer. He's also got a week of blessed away-camp (woo-hoo!), and probably at least a week of zoo camp (how to be a teen-counselor-in-training, for next year when he's old enough to volunteer as a counselor). Also, fencing in summer nationals. And I'm still looking at the local offerings. Local offerings tend to be (a) interesting and (b) pretty cheap, as these things go. The summer camp is through the church and easily the best deal around.

of course, he goes to school until June 1 - last final is the last class period of the last day. Bah.

And I just caught up with the Web story addition to the Kit. This is (excuse the shouting) SO COOL.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Lest I be misunderstood, all the things I mentioned above are also local offerings - except perhaps the church camp, which is about an hour away. He swears there is an alligator in the pond. I see no reason to discourage this belief.

Thanks to this gol-darned teaching, my reading slowed to a crawl this semester (final tomorrow, grades due Friday, then I'm done, at least till they ask me again, cross your fingers). I'm reading "The Grand Idea" at the same time as a three-volume popular history of the Plantaganet kings, taken from contemporary chronicles. I'm up to either Washington's re-election as president, or 1307, depending on the time of day. I just read an interesting little snippet on the gradual changeover of English as the common tongue from Norman French. Perhaps that is why I'm so stream-of-consciousness tonight - too much language.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 11, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Tibby Bidacious Galumphius

Your dot and my boy both l-guards this summer. Fun. He will take the early AM shift for the 6=8 am swim. I will drive him with bike in tow, he will ride back.

Am about to enter the grading deadly zone. Bia and DNA-G, u2?

Spoke to NASA wizards about the launch. Love Hubble stuff. But to pick up old thread, like Frosti am spacetravelskeptic. Sorry to the fine company who differ. I like probes and telescopes. I think the planet and people cry out for tender treading upon the hardscape and practical justice by modified markets and sci-tech progress.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 11, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

O serendipitous joy! Carl reiner is guesting on "House." He just gave Cuddy a stool sample in a paper bag.

Meanwhile, just saw an ad for Pelham 1-2-3. Denzel has the Walter Mathau role, and Travolta is the Robert Shaw bad guy. It might be pretty good, Scotty. (The old original was based on a terrific novel.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 11, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add that Daughter will also be at camp for 5 weeks this summer. So she probably won't even make as much working as I'll be spending for her to go to camp.

Posted by: TBG- | May 11, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to daughter of TBG, my sister was a lifeguard for many summers and had a blast - great summer job.

Just got back from baseball for younger child - played against a very motivated coach, those poor children must have been very confused with so many instructions bombarding them constantly.

Only caught the last few minutes of House and I am very confused - not the episode to jump in in the middle.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 11, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Caps win game 6, 5-4, forcing game 7.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 11, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

For RD_P:

What's in a nickname?

The Great Ballsy--That
Space Telescope Imaging
Spectrograph (TSTIS)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 11, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Bob, so sorry to hear about your grandmas house but very, very glad she is safe. On the principle of every little bit helps, I'll add her to my list of people who need good thoughts.

Posted by: --dr-- | May 11, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so that is what that cheer was from the tv room. mrdr cheering for bothe teams making it to 7, meaning he has a hope of winning his hockey pool. Go somebody!!

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

Glad to hear that your Grandmother is safe, Bob. Having been through overseeing repairs to my Dad's place after Hugo, I've had enough of natural disasters. Wildfire is too scary to contemplate. I send along my best wishes that your Grandmother gets brought back to an even keel soon.

Posted by: -jack- | May 11, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Great tapers section this week. The first set of songs is quite good: New Speedway>Nobody's Jam>New speedway>St. Stephen>Not Fade Away>Lovelight.

dogs and laundry...and cheers for any seventh game.

Posted by: -jack- | May 11, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Knocked it out, and I wasn't even trying. *digging for smelling salts*

Posted by: -jack- | May 11, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

*throwing a bucket of ice water*

Posted by: -jack- | May 11, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I wasn't fighting
Or even getting a date
Please chill out there, Jack.


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

It smells of smoke tonight, apparently nothing nearby. One house destroyed near Indiantown.

Despite drought, there's some activity in the yard. Easter lilies have buds, palms are shedding old leaves, and some begonia cuttings from last month's workshop are turning into plants already.

A live oak planted three years ago is a lanky youngster, but I'm amazed at how it's transmorgrified (with help from some vigorous pruning) from a dense bundle of low branches to the beginnings of a tall crown. I've left one low branch for eventually growing orchids or bromeliads.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 12, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Gyros? They use Greek food as parts in the telescope?

Posted by: rainforest1 | May 12, 2009 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about your grandmother’s house, bobsewell. Best wishes to her.

The creativity of an 18 year-old …..

Posted by: rainforest1 | May 12, 2009 3:27 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Running late.

Today in, etc.

May 12, 1938: Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6, later CVA-6 and CVS-6), seventh U.S. Navy ship of that name and eventual winner of 20 battle stars, is launched at Newport News, Va. Her aircraft will sink more than 70 Japanese ships and shoot down more than 1,000 airplanes.
1975: Cambodian forces capture the American freighter Mayaguez (Capt. Charles Miller) and 40 crew. Two days later 41 Americans are killed and 50 wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the ship and crew from Tang Island. Ironically, the captives had been freed the day before, and were no longer on the island.

Later, dudes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 12, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle! Back in Calgary after a most wonderful mini-vacation in the DC area.

I've got some lovely granola and fruit and yogurt in the Ready Room (can you tell I ate too much really good food while I was away?). Lots of strong coffee too. We really need something to go with the coffee, but I can't put my finger on just what.

Must dash to finish unpacking and get ready to go back to the office. If I stay busy I won't think what awaits me there.

Have a great day, everyone.

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Gut morninckzz Boodle!

While NASA, JA and the Boodle concentrate on on the humble Huble, the REAL stuff is going on closer to the Boodle's Southern Advance Station staffed by yours trully.

Yeah, the real stuff is the Manned Mars Mission (MMM). An MMM team is deployed in the Atacama desert, 16 kilometers northeast of San Pedro de Atacama, where geography and climate is the closest to that of Mars. Instead of humbly hubbling, they are exploring caves, a NASA underground mission.

Why caves?
Because they will be looking for caves on Mars.

Imagine this: a 6,000,000 mile trip to find caves! An exciting spelunking event. I imagine all team members are spelunking bee champions.


Posted by: Braguine | May 12, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey Brag!

Good morning, all. Last night's meeting at church went from 7:30 to 10:15, but the outcome was positive, so it was worth the time. Now I have a writing assignment, but I think I'll wait till tomorrow to start. I'm too tired mentally to begin it today.

A cool morning in the Carolinas, but the forecast is that we'll hit the mid-70's. I love May.

Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. I'm fighting mad this morning. I read Eugene Robinson's article on Dick Cheney. I should have avoided that. Why in the world would Dick Cheney get on national television and say such an awful thing about Colin Powell? I do believe some things are better left unsaid. Even if one doesn't agree with Colin Powell's politics, the man(Powell)has earned the right to have his own opinion. Bush and Cheney used and abused Colin Powell, Cheney should have taken the Fifth if he couldn't say anything better. And Robinsons's analysis of Cheney arguement makes sense. How does torture keep us safe? And how do we know that torture has kept us safe? If the past wars haven't made us safe, explain the torture angle to a dummy like me? It's been my experience that when one has been treated badly, the taste for retaliation has never been sweeter.

Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, Yoki(glad you have a nice time) and all the gang, have a great day. *waving*

It's actually quite cold here. And fog to go along with that cold. No school for me today.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 12, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Please excuse, the "get on" wording, and any other errors in that paragraph. These fat fingers were moving fast, but not quite right.

JA, don't quite understand the kit, but think it's so great that they're going to fix the Hubble. I hope they can do the job safely, and without incident. It does sound scary, though.

Slyness, any idea what happened to Mark Watkins, the morning weather person on nine?

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 12, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everybody!

After the rains of last night the world is very green. Mornings like this give new vibrancy to the word "verdant." Driving along the Parkway I found a spot where the sunlight filtered through the trees and created the illusion of tropical foliage.

Then I get to work and find some fool has parked a SUV in my reserved space. And slashing tires is frowned upon.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra - I take solace in the fact that with every word out of his mouth Cheney is digging himself in deeper.

Brag - That MMM bit is fascinating! I assume they are investigating good training locations and not, you know, scouting camera angles.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! And Al.

'Mudge, the "Pelham" ad and the synopsis I read sound an awful lot like they've wrung most (if not all) of the NY humor and snappy repartee out of it and turned it into a literal Denzel-v-Travolta thriller. The synopsis sez: "As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber [Denzel] employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder [Travolta] and save the hostages." *shrug*

Cassandra, I have no idea why the media is still listening to the former Veep. Perhaps it's the latest perversion of the "show both sides of the argument" approach to journalism. *SIGHHHH*

*feeling-particularly-chipper-after-a-sunny-Dawn-Patrol-but-a-little-more-caffeine-couldn't-hurt Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 12, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Just saw some scary-funny (but no one was hurt) video -- A JAL 747 was taxiing, at LAX I think, and someone left one of those cargo hold containers a little too close to the taxiway...

SSSSSCHHHHWHAMMO! Container was sucked into the left outboard engine intake and got stuck. Looks ridiculous!

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 12, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

After reading his column I have just one question to ask Mr. Robinson, "What has Wyoming ever done to you?" He opens with "Can't we send Dick Cheney back to Wyoming?" I'm all for states taking care of their own garbage, but I think having almost a majority of Americans vote for a prez ticket should relieve the good folks of WY of having to take him. Better Gitmo prisoners than Cheney.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 12, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Padouk --the camera angle angle did cross my mind. Will have to keep track of those wily EMMEMMEMMERS.

By the time the big show comes, everyone will have forgotten the Atacama expedition. There are a couple of charming hostelries in San Pedro for anyone wishing to keep track.

BTW, lots of UFO sightings in the area.


Posted by: Braguine | May 12, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

What a great morning for a good cup of hot coffee.

Good morning Al!

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Brag, have you reported your UFO reports to Joel? I can't understand why Cheney is so afraid of garden variety terrorists who claim to be people at the wrong place at the wrong time when there are aliens out there.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I thought we'd settled that Cheney was an alien - one of the bad, subjugate-the-earth kind. That's why he doesn't care about other aliens.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 12, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The 2009 Star Trek movie was entertaining. We left the theater feeling entertained. I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would.

That said, I had questions after I saw the credits roll. Shortly after arriving at home, I went to the web to find answers yo my Star Trel movie questions. Lucky for me, I had to go to only one website, the Wiki site for all things (lots of verbiage)and backstories about this movie.

As my husband commented later last night, though, "How logical is it for a Wulcan to be in an ice cave when a Federation substation is nearby?" (Yes, the Russian in the film still speaks with a Polish accent.)

Why were the City of Long Beach, University of California--Northridge, and Tejon Ranch in the credits? UC Northridge is a no-brainer, since one of its buildings served as the space cadet academy along the old wharf area in the new, overbuilt-with-skyscrapers San Francisco. I had a strong hunch that Tejon Ranch was where the the young, driving Kirk and airborne cop scene took place in the film. Yup. But Long Beach? The Wiki site was helpful:

Filming began on November 7, 2007,[92] and finished on March 27, 2008,[93] although second unit filming took place during early April in Bakersfield, California, which stood in for Kirk's childhood home in Iowa. Filming was also done at the City Hall of Long Beach, California; the San Rafael Swell in Utah; and the California State University, Northridge (which was used for establishing shots of students at Starfleet Academy). A parking lot outside Dodger Stadium was used for the ice planet of Delta Vega and the Romulan drilling rig on Vulcan. The filmmakers had been interested in filming in Iceland for scenes on Delta Vega, but decided against it: Chambliss enjoyed the challenge of filming scenes with snow in California. The drilling rig was built 16 feet into the air. Other Vulcan exteriors were shot at Vasquez Rocks, a location that was used in various episodes of the original show. A Budweiser plant in Van Nuys was used for the Enterprise's engine room, while a Long Beach power plant was used for the Kelvin's engine room.

LL: Except that there is an error in this portion of the Wiki entry. Tejon Ranch is in Kern County, and Bakersfield is the county seat of Kern County, but Tejon Ranch is no Bakersfield. For Tejon Ranch, think Hampton Sides' book "Blood and Thunder" (Texas Book Festival 2006--the same year Dowd was there on that Sunday), think camels, think Jeff Patty, the boy in high school on whom I had a four-year crush, think Edward Fitzgerald Beale and the family connections to early owners of the Washington Post.


Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

That makes perfect sense to me, Ivansmom. There must be too much airtime to fill, to have Cheney on TV so much. At least Dubya has gone quietly away.

In this part of the world, we are watching a judicial train wreck in slo-mo. A member of a locally prominent family who has a law degree but who has never practiced ran for a judgeship last fall. He beat the judge who presided over his divorce and made him mad over the settlement.

Contrary to the state judicial rules, this guy kept his place on the board of a local company; in fact, he was reelected to his director's spot yesterday. He also had words with his boss about attending board meetings. Now the state judicial ethics board has cited him and has a hearing coming up.

What a mess, and what a jerk. I sooo did not vote for him, and I hope he's kicked off the bench. Is that a reasonable outcome, considering the situation as I have described it?

Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

A crazy busy day with meetings in two different locations in the DC area, some of them co-temproral.

Y'know, as cool and as sophisticated as Hubble is, the Shuttle system that put it there is a far more complex and amazing piece of machinery, IMO.

As as far as human spacefight goes, well, if we hadn't had that capability, I don't think Hubble's main imaging would have ever worked from the start.

It's only by the investment in human flight and the skills and flexibility of the flight crews working with the Hubble science and engineering teams to implement fixes and repairs do we have any of those wonderful Hubble images, data, and discoveries to marvel and ponder.

I think human flight and scientific instruments and probes are both necessary, and Hubble's success is a great example of that.

Gotta run.


Posted by: -bc- | May 12, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I saw Sandra Bissell's name in the credits for technical, behind-the-scenes work on the Star Trek movie. Wonder if she's any relation to Robin Bissell, executive producer of--also song performer and actor in--the film "Seabiscuit?" (I spoke with Bissell before my trip to Connecticut, Massachusetts,and Pennsylvania in May 2004, visited Bissell's alma mater, Germantown Academy with its historical connections to George Washington, where I was given a gift of a coffee mug.)

How else to account for the line in the movie about the Kentucky Derby? Paraphrased: If you're running in the Kentucky Derby, you don't keep your best horse in the stable."

Wonder how that squares with Obama's and Napolitano's recent answers at press conferences about whether to close the border with Mexico because of swine flu concerns, "Closing the border would be like trying to close the door after the horse has left the barn." Or John Kerry's ink-stained horse? See Dowd's Sunday NYT column.

The film did a comic interpretation of what it's like to have an allergic reaction. I should know. Not hives, exactly, but they got the skin and tongue swelling right. How do they get Benadryl to be so fast-acting in the future?

I see the boy from Iowa, was good at learning about the Greek roots of words--"xeno" means "alien, strange, guest." Kirk had no problem understanding that the young Uhura was a xenolinguist. the Achenblog a bit lately: xenotransplantation, xenolinguist.

I immediately recognized that the bar pick-up scene in Star Trek was straight out of "Top Gun." Seems the new, young Kirk modeled himself after the Top Gun jet jockey and Han Solo. See the Wiki entry.

Do you see that the real-life Han Solo, Harrison Ford, will be at the World Science Festival in New York in June, per yesterday's NYT. Tickets now available.

Live long and prosper...and go see the movie.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Caifornia State University, Northridge, not part of the UC system.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Hi one, hi AL,
Back after an action packed hiatus for spacey week! 75% of the info goes right over my head but I do love to read it. I particularly wish that I had a job where the term "wiff-pick2" could just roll off my tongue. Sooo tech-y!

I parachuted in every now and then. I've caught a couple of "this day in naval history" and I enjoy that very much, thanks Mudge. It sounds like jack had some good news so that is a relief. Sorry to hear about bob s's grandmother's home. I'm glad she's safe, but it really sucks. (I have teenagers, I can't help myself, I catch myself using that term and I can't believe it) Also, I'm sorry to have missed the Yoki sighting at the STBPH, so very boodle-like.

I've packed in a trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion Nat'l park, numerous age-related screening tests (they suck), Bruce Springsteen in Charlottesville, son's prom and escalating graduation duties in the last few weeks, not to mention the job that helps me to pay for all of this.

The Grand Canyon was wonderful, but for my money a trip to Zion was even better. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring. During that trip, we experienced a snow storm at Grand Canyon. Two days later, we rafted down the Colorado without a cloud in the sky and 80 degrees. Two days later in Zion we were hiking in a was crazy. But we loved it.

I think some boodlers have Springsteen tickets. OMG! He was something else. I've never seen him before and now I know why his tickets are so hard to come by. At one point he slid across the stage (the guy is pushing 60, isn't he?) and the thought popped into my head, "How on earth is he going to get up?" And he just popped up like he had springs for joints. He played for 3 solid hours without a break. When I watch Mick Jagger prance on stage, it just skeeves me out, but I didn't feel that way at all with Springsteen. And I was surprised that there were folks from 10-60's at the concert. Lots of fun and I'm a lucky girl.

Ok, enough boodlehogging, I hope everyone is well and enjoying warm weather. Brag? is it chilly there yet?

Posted by: Kim1 | May 12, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I also think it's fun movie trivia that the men who gave us the best film (television or movies) from the past about the future were from El Paso, Texas and Scottsdale, Arizona and Modesto, California.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree, bc, that people have been invaluable to the Hubble. In the short term I can clearly see a legitimate need for human access to orbit to repair and maintain the many complex machines that are zipping about over our heads. Plus, it is undeniably cool.

But I do question if sending people up to do this kind of work is really the best long-term solution. It seems to me that wireless human-controlled articulated remote vehicles, much like what folks use to do work in the deep ocean, seems the way to go. I can envision a permanent constellation of maneuverable devices up there being controlled from the ground.

And I am afraid I really don't see this argument extending to the kinds of translunar expeditions that many people envision when one uses the term "manned spaceflight." I mean, sure, it would be nifty to send someone up to blow dust off of a Martian crawler, but does this really make sense?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Kim! Totally (said in that drawn out teen movie way) agree with you on Zion vs. Grand Canyon. Work must be restful after all that fun.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 12, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Kim!! *long-lost Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 12, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Greetings from west (bg) Baltimore
Well i have sort of settled in,I did the breakfast shift at work yesterday,it went fine except for the 4am wakeup.Today's shift is engineering 12-830.

Wildlife report!! So i leave west virginny thinking I am leaving all that wildlife behind Not.Sitting on my mother's porch last night and what walks down the road in the middle of suburbia? A coyote, also in my mom's neighborhood I have seen a fox,a few coons and deer.

If I see a bear,I may have to check myself into the local state hospital.

I was so Happy to watch the Capitals force a game 7,more so happy just to shut those damn Pittsburgh fans up.What a series this is. Go Caps!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 12, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Last thoughts:

The work of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic was a given in the film.

Actors whom I did not recognize until the credits rolled: Ben Cross of "Chariots of Fire" fame played Spock's father. Northern California's (Petaluma, home of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz--not far from the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County) Winona Ryder played Spock's mother.

Aussie Eric Bana played Nero, but without his luxurious locks, who'd recognize him? He's a long way from Munich and Henry VIII. His ragged and pointed facial tattoos in the film gave him a much more menacing look than the ethnic facial tats of Israeli actor Oded Fehr in the "Mummy" series or Harvey Keitel in "The Piano."

And to add to Anne Applebaum's op-ed today at about the appropriateness of panic about swine flu (since Applebaum is conected to many things Russian):

Interestingly, in Russia doctors call the virus, which has damned the good name of the pig the world over, “California 0409.” That should make pigs feel better, but what of the sensitivities of us Californians?

LL: Sounds too much like Formula 409, Clorox's cleaning product, if you ask me. Or possibly a California zip code. And for the flu-in-the-know, reporting by the Wall Street Journal sets the date for the discovery of swine flu in two young patients in California in March, 2009. So, Russia, how about 0309?

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

All this noise about Rush being picked on by Wanda Sykes. The Ed Show has a basic shot at Rush's show w/ a fill-in host reading your basic "stuff."

We really should be more civil when speaking about Rush and his "team."

Why do you think Wanda might say this? At least it was part of a joke. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, eh?

Now, we know that women just don't like Rush that much. On top of being a woman, Wanda is also black and gay. I wonder if Wanda relaxes each day by tuning into Rush?

Don't think so.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Kim! So glad to see you.

gwe, happy to hear things are going smoothly (except for that early-morning call!).

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I saw that segment too, rt. Rush says the ugliest things for years and now his fans are bleating about Wanda Sykes?

I also enjoyed Ed's take down about the right wing's ecstasy about Nancy Pelosi and what she knew about torture. Poppycock!

Posted by: Kim1 | May 12, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

gwe - you're all moved and starting a new job? Best wishes!

yes, frosti, the hubby and I were wondering this weekend if perhaps we're too old for all this fun. We're tired!

Posted by: Kim1 | May 12, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Kim, America has no clue how much money is being spent just to get the spin out there ... even in the face of just outright hatred from Rush and several other folks. To suggest that soldiers would shoot Pelosi is just outright crazy, but seems to be accepted by many as how "normal Americans" would feel.

In fact, the stunning thing is that "those folks" feel that they are middle of the road.

When you have so many standard traditional media folks totally ignoring the subject for so long, you have to wonder.

Kudos to Colin Powell for not being bullied.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Brag, back in the day NASA’s astronauts used the Sudbury area to practice their moon buggy driving. Acid rain derived from the giant nickel ore roasters had washed the area clear of any vegetation. It has come back nicely though in the past 20 years, they couldn't do that today. Now the smelter looks like a sulfuric acid plant with a little metallurgical plant attached to it.

I have a nice business card with the cursive "Ball" on it. The gentleman was with their aerosol can division. He told me the company sold the glass plants but rented the stylized cursive “Ball” to the glass manufacturers.

I spent a couple of hours changing out the float controlling the pump of the septic tank. I will spare you the black, gooey and smelly details. I must say I had a few very-unchristian thoughts toward the maroon who most likely damaged the float’s wire when he sucked the tank earlier this spring.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse


Yeah, it's getting pretty cool here. We expect the first rains possibly this afternoon.


Gustav Eiffel would have never imagined what would happen to one of his early masterpices. How does political violence, strip joints and an architectural masterpiece fit into the same story? The answer is food.

To read more:

Posted by: Braguine | May 12, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Brag, that was a great story/report.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the review of the Springsteen show. When I saw him ten years ago, he was still doing the knee slides. You would think his orthopedist would be trying to talk him out of those.

He rolls into DC on Monday. My wife is still debating calling in sick on Tuesday since Broooce shows notoriously start late and end later.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 12, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Was pleasantly surprised this morning when the 80 pound rescue airedale gently nudged me awake to go out just as the sun was coming over the mountain across the way. Light sparkling showers were falling from the little clouds passing by making all the new tree leaves and weeds especially verdant. Time to get cracking and plant the new seedlings here in the banana belt.

Posted by: bh72 | May 12, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I just checked out Joel's vid and his latest story. Joel makes a great point that the shuttle represents a unique heavy-lift vehicle.

Also, those shades are totally working for him.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Seems you are not too far from the Marcona Iron and Copper Gold District located in the provinces of Ica and Arequipa and south of the city of Nazca in the desert coastal region of southern Peru. This is where the exceptionally neat (to me, anyway) magnetite sand dunes have been found. I have tried to talk myself into a job with an old colleague who is in the thick of this. It's neat because magnetite takes much less energy and carbon gasses to turn into steel.

I see too many people sabotaging the beauty queen. Seems a bit irrelevant to the point of being harmful to the cause of truth and freedom. Not that I agree with her. This adds to the general hysterical glee of the Dems and the left, the sort of thing that proves damaging or at least damagingly distracting.

Off to read Eugene. And I should note Cheney didn't live in Wyoming for a long time. He rigged his residency to run for veep.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 12, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Here's a take on the ticking-bomb torture scenario

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Thistle--Thanks :-)

Posted by: Braguine | May 12, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Nazca is one of those places that I wished that I had visited when I was in Peru a long time ago--now I fear that I might never get another chance.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Calle Bandera (Flag Street), Santiago de Chile is near the Plaza de Armas (typical name in many Latin American countries--Plaza of Arms), although in Mexico it's called El Zocalo, the Mexican plaza having some design influence on the new design, redo of Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

And I should note Cheney didn't live in Wyoming for a long time.

But Jumper, you haven't read about Cheney's boyhood in Wyoming, the story written in a recent book by Lynne Cheney--you may recall that I mentioned Lynne Cheney's appearance at the 2007 Texas Book Festival when she was promoting "Blue Skies, No Fences: A memoir of Childhood and Family"--and how poorly attended her talk was.

However, Cheney did change his residency from Texas to Wyoming to run for Vice President. As I have previously mentioned, we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, having breakfast the morning when we heard the news.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Star Trek 2009 actor Eric Bana and his recent role in a movie about Henry VIII, the latest news about Henry VIII and the Vatican, posted minutes ago at the NYT:

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I'm aware Cheney was from Wyoming. Not only that, I didn't care for the attitude of the Halliburton crews when they'd show up to frac a well. Like they thought they were superior or something; better than us. Not a one of them would know a gamma ray from Ray Charles.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 12, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Haven't had a chance to view Joel's Shuttle commentary (time and work video blocks being what they are), but I did remember this from last week:

"...I'd advocate keeping the Shuttle flying indefinitely but infrequently to avoid a long dependency on the Russians for sole access to the ISS and to maintain a significant man-rated heavy-lift capability, to continue to develop Ares/Constellation/Orion systems as planned for Earth orbital and Lunar missions, to maintain a permanent presence on the Moon, and to get serious about developing long-duration manned deep-space flight hardware. Orion's nice, but nobody's flying that beercan to Mars.


Posted by: -bc- | May 7, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

RD, call me a foolish optimist and and adventrurer if you must, but I just think that it's not good enough to send cameras into space, and I'm not content to experience Everything by proxy.

If I can't go somewhere, I want to talk to the person that was There.

Visting home our home amongst the stars won't be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.


Posted by: -bc- | May 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I just love that something as essential as fracturing wells sounds vaguely obscene in its common contraction.

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

bc - far from me to criticize anyone for romantic ideals! But this is a different argument from what I was responding to. I asserted that the argument from utility fails for manned space flight beyond orbit. (And even then eventually.)

You are now returning to the argument from inspiration, which I believe is a valid one. It comes down, I guess, to what one finds inspiring.

I think an aggressive unmanned program really can be inspiring. Especially if we are ambitious enough.

Imagine putting on a virtual reality helmet of sorts and finding yourself floating among the rings of Saturn courtesy of a transmission coming from that spot. I think that would be pretty cool. And, personally, much more satisfying than listening to some astronaut describe it.

But this is why the debate continues. It really isn't about utility, it is about inspiration. Different people have different views of what this means. And all are pretty valid.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

So true yoki. Don't forget the derivatives like the frac tanks, fraccing ("kk") fluids and fraccing rigs.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Ooooh, shriek!

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I thought today's Zocalo in Mexico City was once a nice park, but was cleared and paved sometime during the Revolution to serve as a sort of Red Square for mass rallies and such.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 12, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you're back home and operational. Excellent. Nice to have you back. Your flight went well, I trust?

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

Richard Cohen's column is getting lots of discussion -- 1356 comments, last I checked. Lots of anger, of course. He asks whether Cheney is right that torture works, regardless of whether it is moral. Cohen is right that the principal argument of apologists for the excesses of the Bush administration is that the effectiveness of torture is an inconvenient truth for limp-wristed lefties; that we are unable to handle the truth of what is needed to protect the nation from the bad guys. Hence, the opposition to "enhanced interrogation" is dogmatic squeamishness that can't face the difficult world of hard-nosed realism.

The principal arguments against torture are (1) it is horribly immoral and antithetical to any sense of human decency, regardless of the villainy of the victim; and (2) it is ineffective, anyway. Guys like me make argument #2 because one needs to speak to the audience in a language they are prepared to comprehend. Immoral psychopaths won't care about the moral argument, but resent being inconvenienced and looking stupid, to boot. If the Cheneyites can conjure reasonable doubt about whether torture works, then in their view, they have rendered "debatable" the only issue that they feel has any legitimacy, anyway.

Here is what I posted as a comment to Cohen's article:
I'm sure that torture does "work" in the same way and to the same extent that vigilante justice "works." It seems like a satisfyingly direct path to success, except of course for those cases where we accidentally did it to the wrong person. Or where the punishment exceeds the crime. But it means a collapse of the whole concept of the rule of law, equal justice, proportionate punishment, and a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. It may work on the microscopic scale, but on the large scale, it is a collapse and failure of everything the United States is supposed to be about. It makes just another despotism, waiting for its deserved overthrow by the people.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Fraccing sounds positively obscene. Should I know what it means?

Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 'mudge! Yes, the flights were remarkably smooth, though on the Toronto-Calgary leg every seat in the very large plane was occupied, and it was crowded and loud and hot. However, all the border-crossings were easy, the crowd generally cheerful, and the flights on time. I cannot account for it.

I am ambivalent though; I had such a lovely time with everyone, I kinda didn't want to come away, nice though it is to be in my own environment.

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I can't help it. I like *Tim.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 12, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Must be my stylish limp-wristed leftyness. Even though I'm right-handed.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 12, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Me too, LiT! I fit in a trip to Monticello during my Brooooce trip to Charlottesville. Gotta love it when a guy can get a quote from Thomas Jefferson into a WaPo chat. That's *Tim for you.

Posted by: Kim1 | May 12, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Aha, Yoki! Thanks for the link.



Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

fractals, Yoki. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | May 12, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

As they say in your neck of the woods yoki a good fraccing leaves a petrogenous formation well stimulated.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Something in the works, ummm DreamWorks?...Hollywood's Geffen made an offer for a 20 percent stake in the New York Times.

DotC, Is that true that Zocalo was previously a park?

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

bc, I yearn for adventurous space flight also. My only fear is that budgets for trillion-dollar photo ops will drain resources so much that the entire enterprise will grind to a halt afterward, and more crafty bootstrapping will be even more difficult after paying for an initial circus.

More oil lingo: when drillers get too enthusiastic and apply too much torque combined with too much weight on the drill bit, the drill will literally "twist off." It's a moment of chagrin and realization that he failed, in the attempt to succeed. When I was in the biz, "twisting off" became a synonym for partying too hearty, blowing out the stops, and regretting it very much, after having made an arse of himself. And usually with a headache.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 12, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, the roustabouts still use 'twisting off' that way.

Posted by: Yoki | May 12, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"Imagine putting on a virtual reality helmet of sorts and finding yourself floating among the rings of Saturn courtesy of a transmission coming from that spot. I think that would be pretty cool. And, personally, much more satisfying than listening to some astronaut describe it."

Fair enough, but one point of clarification - *I* am that astronaut.

[Wearing my lead boxer briefs that close to Saturn. Underneath my Gladiator space suit, of course.]

*Tim, excellent points. I think that the Bush Administration's justifications of 'reasonable' assumptions
and doubts re. Saddam Hussein's WMD development may have led to the invasion of Iraq.

And there's a word I think the Bush Admin folks don't like to use that may explain some seemingly irrational and immoral decisions with regards to human rights and the Constitiution:



Posted by: -bc- | May 12, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

sd-if it takes me the rest of my life I will find a way to work your 2:05 into a conversation. Might not take that long. Quite a lot of controversy brewing over Enbridge Energy's new pipeline across the res, calls for solidarity with Alberta's first peoples and all that.

Tim-how does it feel to be the subject of unbridled idolatry? I couldn't tread into the Cohen comments-the column alone had me looking for something to settle my stomach.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 12, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse


There is so much of the past eight years that we don't consider. We were fed a constant drumbeat of rationalizations and facts that turned out not to be such animals.

We have to remember that Cheney had info 'stove-piped' to his own intel group at DoD. There were no checks and balances. The executive branch eliminated the normal processes that were used to cross-check info. In fact, we now know about the hyper-loopy Italian Document forgeries that were then re-introduced into our own intel stream.

I am assuming that, for the most part, Powell was concerned about this and probably has some very heated feelings about Cheney now that these fakes have been confirmed. Senior Bush and Powell probably have huge concerns about the Plame situation. In fact, if Cheney keeps going, I would be wondering if "W" will cut him (Cheney) loose.

Every day that those "bad apples" sit in the military jail and Cheney, who orchestrated and pretty much issued the orders is out their on national news programs saying "yeah, what about it!" is a crime in itself. That, from a guy who said that he is protecting the so-called little guys.

I listen to the history re-writes, and especially now with the Pelosi attack, and want to say, now, "Wait a Minute!"

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Right-handed leftyness? AmbidextrousTim??? What??

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 12, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

My brother and sister-in-law are dealing with the SC educational bureaucracy as they try to find appropriate assistance for my nephew, who has been diagnosed with dyslexia. My sister-in-law just emailed me remarks my brother made to the education subcommittee of the SC House in support of a bill to provide such help. He lists George H.W. Bush and Dubya among famous people who have dyslexia.

You know, that explains a lot. A whole lot.

Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 12, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Aaahh, bc. Now I get it. You favor an iconic speech in which the president commits the nation to sending you to space and returning you home safely.

I must say I gotta respect that.

I often dream of being sent into space.

Except in such dreams I always have a very hard time convincing them to bring me back.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 12, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The ScienceGrandpa also is dyslexic, but I think would deny any other connection to those famous individuals mentioned by slyness. He might be willing to grant them membership within the same species as himself/ourselves. Maybe. If he is feeling kindly that day.

I have an Israeli senior colleague who derides me for being a liberal, which he considers to be some kind of wishy-washy unserious political affiliation. He proclaims "I'm a leftist, dammit, as left as I can be!" (I am paraphrasing).

"how does it feel to be the subject of unbridled idolatry?" -- Eh. You get used to it. Story of my life. Always keep a pen handy for signing autographs. It's all about serving the fans, you know.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 12, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Did I miss a Kim sighting? Rats! The travels and all sounded great, though.

Hey, Brag! LiT! Al!

Took a day off to catch up on stuff. So far, I've shampooed the carpet in the family room, weeded the garden, done two loads of laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, and swept the maple wingies from the front walk. Oh, and booked a vacation for November. I need to go back to the office and get some rest.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 12, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a famous one but a good one. You coulnd't tell form my tpyign of course.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if there is a "proper" name (non-Latin) for those *&%$# maple wingies Raysmom just mentioned? At our house we call them "helicopters," but I know that's not right. They clearly aren't "leaves," but "seeds" or "seed pods" just doesn't do it for me. They aren't "acorns," obviously. Could they be "aircorns"???

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 12, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I call them a pain in the arse, Mudge.

And yay! for the boodlekids with summer jobs.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 12, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Demon seeds is the proper term Mudge. You can, if you split them just right stick them to the bridge of your nose - I remember doing that a lot as a kid - explains a lot.

Had a busy day and am tired, most of the conversation today flew over my head.

Welcome back Kim.

Raysmom - we need to chat about the definition of day off :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | May 12, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Hehehe, I know the answer, Mudge:


I picked the word up in a Reader's Digest article many, many years ago. What's more amazing, I remembered it.

Posted by: slyness | May 12, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Of course it's a "samare" Mudge.
Why the English kept the latin's samara I don't know.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Samara is the word.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 12, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I read the headline "Christ run for US Senate" and thought, the man is shooting pretty low.

Also, I was surprised to see the Boss was doing ballet in addition to space, science and politics in the . He's not. It's a mistake.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

SCC There is a missed CRT in the previous post.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 12, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

How much is Schizocarp worth in Boggle?

Oh lord, what did I just get into? I'm out of it now, anyway. Went by Wikipedia and found an absolute mess, three similar articles about petroleum well logging, and I pitched in. Three hours later I resurface, with one rewritten, one article scotched totally and me promising to merge the remaining two into one. Not that Wikipedia holds anyone to these promises. What are they gonna do, fire me?

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 12, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

A samara, huh? Thanks. This is handy, because I already use both "demon seed" and "shizocarp" to refer to my kids.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 12, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

SD, there was some speculation that McCain was going to choose Crist as his running mate. I made the same mental typo and thought "well, that's quite a ticket".

Posted by: engelmann | May 12, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Just a mere fly-by to let the local Boodle know that I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Blacksalt last night. Very, very nice (a lovely halibut (just for the "halibut") with veggies.

Got home in time to watch the Caps win in overtime. Very, very pleased -- well, up until they meet the Red Wings. You know how it is. . . .

Flying bye-bye now.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 12, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Sent to me by a friend:

Former Minnesota Governor (and ex-pro rassler) Jesse "The Body" Ventura went on Larry King's show last night.

Ventura said he was waterboarded as part of his Navy SEAL training. He was (typically) not shy about his views. "It's a good thing I'm not president," Ventura said. "I would prosecute every person involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law."

He went on: "I'll put it to you this way: you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders."

(sourced from, I think, in a blog entry from Jason Hoppin)

Posted by: russianthistle | May 12, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Swine flu update:

A person may not have a fever but may have swine flu--an oddity associated with teh new virus. American infectious disease doctor suggests Mexican doctors to test human poo for swine flu virus--to determine if additional infection control measures are necessary. Manure lagoon, anyone?

The CDC is just now getting around to warning pregnant women about health risks if they contract influenza, including swine flu, and recommending that they take antivirals. Where has the CDC been for the last several weeks? *shaking my head slowly from side to side in utter disbelief*

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Gov. Ventura video.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 12, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed reading this laugh-out-loud Star Trek review in this week's New Yorker much more than I am the (surely) Swine Flu I picked up at the STBPH viewing this past weekend.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 12, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I found the NYT piece a little misleading...particularly the phrase 'unknown risks'...they are Category C drugs...the risks are unknown because there haven't been trials on pregnant women, and that is because trials on animals showed an increase in birth defects. But the CDC can only recommend; they don't get to decide. I suspect that many obstetricians will continue to steer their patients clear of Category Cs.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 12, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Kinda on kit, ha!
Book released by NIH for 4th-5th graders:
The Rocket Boys of NIH
(available in Spanish and in braille/audio too).

CP, I'm grading documentaries this semester; takes a long time, but I can't call it work, really.

And thanks artist formerly known as SofC.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 12, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I'm not sure about responsibilites between the CDC and FDA, but I think that only the FDA can regulate, approve or disapprove or mandate the use of drugs and treatments, while the CDC can only perform research, educate and recommend the uses of any drugs as treatements. I could be wrong about that.

DNA_Girl, I'm going to suggest that my youngest daughter read that book, thanks.

Rickoshea, thanks for posting the link to Lane's review of the ST movie in the New Yorker. And yes, I thought it quite funny, even though I like ST and enjoyed the film...

So, I sat next you for the movie and a lot of the BPH afterwards, and I feel fin....[thump]


Posted by: -bc- | May 12, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

At least they gave the review to Anthony Lane instead of Denby. Lane's review is dead on accurate in every detail but completely wrong in the aggregate. Sure, there are plot holes you fly a Bird of Prey through, but it captured the fun and excitement that had been missing for quite a while.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 12, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Howdy all
Back after another training day.No, no not like the movie, which was a pretty intense day.

Maggie are you feeling flu-like after the bph?

Each one of my brothers wants to go see the Star Trek movie,so now we are trying to make it so.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 12, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

yes, yes, yes, I'm feeling fluish. At first I thought it was just allergies, but now that I've learned that you don't have to have a fever to have swine flu, I have it!

And have probably passed it on to everyone at Whole Foods yesterday!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 12, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmmmmmmmm nope. Just read the Lane review in New Yorker, and decided I don't like it, despite one or two reasonably tolerable joke lines. Among other things, it was snarky and superior, and I don't care for that in a review of a flick that makes no pretensions to higher culture. The movie is what it is.

Second, I found one clear, unarguable error in it and what I believe to be a second errtor, though it is admitted arguable.

The clear error: Lane says the Romulan ship is a pitch-black battle cruiser." I know those of you who saw the movie will instantly agree with me that Nero clearly describes it as a mining ship, and that's why the damn thing has this gigunda drill on it. Battle cruiser it ain't.

Now, I have thought about this one, and I'm sure I'm right, and in so thinking I really do admire this double entendre. We all heard Uhuru says she possesses "exceptional oral senitivity," and Lane quotes that line. But in thinking about it, I believe what she said was she possesses "exceptional aural sensitivity." On a serious note, "aural" makes so much more sense than "oral" for a person who listens to various and sundry transmissions and inerprets what she hears. Such a person needs no special oral talent whatsoever, since what she translates into is standard English. No, what she needs are "aural" skills.

However, as a pun/double entendre, I gotta say, this one deserves a standing ovation. I really wish there was some way to verify this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 12, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, as you know, I know NOTHING about Star Wars, but I agree with you that Uhura says 'aural.' It just makes sense, but I agree with you about enjoying the word play.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 12, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

FDA does drug trials and approvals, and tracks reports of side effects.

CDC does overall epidemiology of infectious diseases but also may track mass poisoning cases. Both MAY work together on crucial cases.

CDC has nothing to do with medicinal drug approval, regulation or enforcement.

Cracking down on illegal drug trade is generally the responsibility of the ATF since that's often connected with organized crime.

U.S. Customs may do checks to prevent import or smuggling of drugs.

And so on.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 12, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Maggie. And you have much too much class to have ever contracted the swine flu. Perhaps a touch of the vapors, or maybe a brief inconvenience, but nothing so vulgar as pig germs.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 12, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

i managed a boodle-skim back far enough to see the news about bob's grandmother's house. so sorry to hear that, bob. i really wish her well in whatever the next steps are.

Posted by: LALurker | May 12, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the review is far from correct on many details and I don't agree with the conclusion, but I was still amused by it.

Including the aural/oral wordplay in the film -- seemed pretty obvious to me.


Posted by: -bc- | May 12, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Applauding you graciously from Our fainting couch.

We are amused.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 12, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

BROWNSVILLE — The husband of the first U.S. resident to die from the global swine flu outbreak has filed a lawsuit against Smithfield Foods, the U.S. owner of the Mexican pig farm where some believe the virus originated.

Judy Trunnell, 33, did not have underlying ailments that contributed to her May 5 death, despite state health officials' reports of a “chronic” respiratory condition, husband Steven Trunnell said Tuesday. ...

Steven Trunnell said he first approached a lawyer about health officials telling news media his wife had “chronic” underlying respiratory problems. The CDC later said Trunnell “had a history of psoriasis and mild asthma.”

Trunnell said his wife did not have asthma, though she was prescribed an inhaler, which he said was her first ever, for a recent cold.

“I wanted to get to the bottom of them misinforming the press as well as violating any privacy issues,” Trunnell said. “The first time I read it I was appalled. I can't even express the words. I'm not blaming the press as much as I'm blaming whoever's giving them the information.” ...

The CDC is monitoring about 20 cases of pregnant women with swine flu.

Posted by: laloomis | May 12, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Blackhawks are on a quest for their first division title since'96, give or take a year. Somehow the division names that correspond to the compass points just don't ring true. I prefer the old names. Prince of Wales, Adams, Patrick, Campbell, Norris, Smythe. It added a bit of class to an otherwise physical contest.

Gov. Ventura's candor is refreshing. I'd rather see him in the ring with Lord Vader, just to see him do a face rip, the venerable turnbuckle slam, then finish with a flying piledriver.

Posted by: -jack- | May 13, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Watched the Frontline documentary on Bernie Madoff tonight. Couldn't help but wish Austen and Dickens had been producers on the show. From beginning to end the motives and manners of the duped and dupers seemed straight out of a JA novel. Dickens would have done a better job of fleshing out the villainy, but I think he would have liked the villain's name.

Off to bed with me. Big robotics presentation tomorrow to the MN Community Ed. Association. Hope I'm not boring. Toodles and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 13, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

jack, you are a man after my own heart, and an honourary Canadian.

Good night, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

I was looking at the Guardian web site, and saw this headline: "Figures issued [a] day early show number of people out of work has risen to 2.2m - the worst result since 1980s."

That stands in sharp contrast to the way the US media report it. Here, the figure would be presented as let's say "8.9%".

Expressing it as a *percentage of the workforce* makes a rather dry observation about the abstraction called "the economy" -- the ratio of two numbers invented by statisticians; the denominator is especially artificial.

Expressing it as a *number of people* makes an observation about, well, people, which has more meaning IMHO. Government economists may find the percentages more useful, but the numbers describe the situation better to the citizens.

Joel, can you bring this to the attention of your editors?


Posted by: Jim19 | May 13, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

"Percent unemployed" is based on a very narrow and seemingly arbitrary definition of unemployment. So the monthly employment figures are mainly useful in terms of whether they're up or down from the previous month, and what the net gain or losses may have been.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 13, 2009 2:39 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Happy Hump Day.

I actually read both Gerson and Parker this morning, without serious disruption to my digestion. Gerson was simply "OK," though correct, and Parker was actually right on (she says Conservs are humorless).

Meanwhile, perhaps the worst metaphor in a lede belongs, oddly, to Dana Milbank, who almost always gets them right, but not today: "Calling Jimmy Carter to testify about energy security, it might seem, is a bit like calling Michael Vick to testify about pet care." OK, try and figure out exactly how Carter is to energy as Vick is to animal torture. I'm not seeing it. Sorry, Dana, you blew that one. Not funny, not accurate.

Big shout-out to Down Under today with

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

May 13, 1787: The first fleet of ships carrying 568 male and 193 female convicts from England set sail in a prison convoy led by HMS Sirius (Capt. Arthur Phillip) on their way to found the first prison colony – and later a new nation -- at Botany Bay, Australia.
1913: Russian (later American) inventor Igor Sikorsky flies the maiden flight of his new bomber, Le Grand, also known as the Russian Knight, the world’s first four-engine aircraft, at St. Petersburg, Russia.

Man, am I hungry. What's for breakfast? I smell coffee coming from the Ready Room, but what else do I detect?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 13, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

I have been informed recently that Sikorsky was Ukrainian, not Russian.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle, Al.

Snow! Sleet! We are supposed to be done with this sort of weather.

'Mudge, I've got some cranberry scones in the oven, that must be what you smell.

Have a good day, everybody.

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

G'morning, all. It's ham biscuits today, Mudge. Since we were in the mountains over the weekend, I was able to replenish my stock of country ham. Pepe the short order cook will fix your eggs any way you desire. I'll have mine scrambled, with American cheese.

Posted by: slyness | May 13, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Just had one of those thoughts that made me go hmmm, SciTim's remark about Sikorsky being Ukrainian not Russian had me google check as I thought at the time he was there Ukraine was part of Russian, true depending on time Ukraine only had independance briefly between 1917-21.

He would still be Ukrainian but would have been a Russian citizen, but my question would be how do you term all the people who come from former countries i.e. Yugoslavia, so many parts of former USSR, would then be Russian citizens, then their current country.

If Sikorsky could become American then surely he would also have been Russian (or Austro-Hungarian if he lived in that part of the Ukraine).

I probably need more coffee.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 13, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

We really need to go shopping, Mudge. There seems to be only a bit of fixin's for cinnamon toast. But it is delicious and is made with Irish butter, so help yourself.

Posted by: TBG- | May 13, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, re your snow sleet remember the Long weekend is coming, not sure about Calgary, but here what ever lovely weather we have at this time of year disappears over the long weekend - just in time for all the people who go camping to spend 3 days of cold wet temperatures.

A quick check of our weather confirms this is forecast again this year.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 13, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Happy Hump Day, Al!

Having seen Boodler comments on the New Yorker ST review, I think I'll pass.

Cranberry scones, ham biscuits and cinammon toast, however? Count me in!!!

Nice to see the Sawx, Celtics and Bruins pull the trifecta off again, too. And Ryan Zimmerman's got a 30-game hitting streak going, too!

Maggie, I apologize for sneezing on you at the movie. Blame the symptoms on my often swinish behavior...

*snuffling-over-to-the-breakfast-repast Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 13, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

dmd, isn't that always the way? First official weekend for camping and planting, and the weather is always awful.

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Plain scones, too, because the cranberry ones disappeared. And, some flyboys and flygals do not appreciate fruity bits.

Another week of busyness.

Bob, I think of your grandmother each time I pull a book off the shelve. I am glad she is fine, however, we are accustomed to our things. Normal to love stuff, isn't it.

About NASA, I am totally inspired by probes and unmmanned missions. I also support fully missions to my favorite planet: the blue marble one that is cunningly made and deeply darling and singular, at least as far as I live.

Am I on kit yet? I am behind or ahead. Because a space-exploration boodle moment is always an Achenblog option.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 13, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Buenos dias, Boodle!

Ethnically Eussians and Ukrainians are identical. The only difference is a slight cultural variation in areas that had been occupied by Poland, which introduced the Catholic religion.

In trying to understand Ukraine one has to remember that Kiev is the craddle of Russia.

Excellent commentary by David Ignatius today. His last paragraph really nails down of what will happen in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Braguine | May 13, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Hi Brag! Good to see you. How's the new life?

Posted by: TBG- | May 13, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

As far as the Ukrainians are concerned, Sikorsky was Ukrainian. Apparently, the Ukrainian embassy is making a big deal over Sikorsky's 120th birthday, or some such thing. Technically, since Russia ruled Ukraine at the time of which Mudge speaks, the Russians would have considered him Russian - and, I suppose, Soviet when they came into power (when did Sikorsky emigrate? I don't know). Having hung out with several Ukrainians and a few Russians over the past 18 years, I can tell you that each group sees a definite distinction from the other, identifiable through ethnic traits such as differences in language (closely related, but not the same), different versions of the Cyrillic alphabet, and differences in names.

I have a colleague who was visiting Ukraine some years ago, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, but the power structure in Ukraine is still largely dominated by Russian ethnics and Russian speakers (I gather). Anyway, he was being taken on a tour of a facility that had security. Being Slavic, in order to identify him for a security check, they asked for his father's name -- an essential piece of identifying information. Thing is, my colleague's father was a moderately well known Enemy of the People for 60 years or so, complete with a stint in Siberia, so identifying him might have been a problem. They told the guard that he didn't use his father's name. "What is he, Bulgarian?" Sure, that's it. So they let him through.

Apparently, Bulgaria is the West Virginia of the Slavic world.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Happy to read of Kim’s travels yesterday. I missed you, Kim. This space mission makes me very anxious. There is so much that can go wrong and as much as I see the value of the Hubble, I still wonder if it’s worth the risk. This is why I am not a scientist, too wussy.

Our weather promises to go downhill into the weekend. Of course I had plans to buy the flowers for the windowboxes and tomato plants, etc. I guess as long as there isn’t a deluge, I can still do this but it won’t be very enjoyable. Scotty, I am amazed how the Celtics keep fighting back. I am a fairweather fan of basketball, only watching the end of important games - and not always then either. But it’s still impressive. ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | May 13, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Our Ukrainian visitors over the years see the Russian/Ukrainian difference as more significant, Brag; since they are my primary source, that is the background of my comments. They make a clear distinction, for instance, between speaking Russian in official communications and speaking Ukrainian among themselves. Since I speak neither language, I suppose it might be as small a difference as British vs. American English, with differences in slang. My Ukrainian-American colleague definitely perceives the difference and is leery of assimilated Ukrainians who prefer to speak Russian and who self-identify as Russian. The assimilated Ukrainians return the favor, and kind of look down on those who prefer Ukrainian. At least, that has been the case with the small community of academics with whom I interact. It's all very petty. Like academic politics, it seems like it is a matter of identifying huge distinctions based on minor differences.

By the way -- here in the U.S., we grew up hearing about "The" Ukraine as a mere region of Russia (and later, the USSR). When it became its own country, the article was dropped. However, I am informed that Slavic languages have no articles -- so how did any English translation come to identify Ukraine as having an article? For hundreds of years?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Discussion earlier mentioned that there were almost meaningless measures used to calculate Unemployment rates. AND, it was mentioned that the newspaper was not being clear about the derivation of the statistic.

I have been discussing the unemployment figures for years while blogging online. I have seen the WashPost improve over that time.

Discouraged workers are a prime concern and have been for years. The number shot up during the Bush years. Many of the discouraged group are under-employed.

Secondly, and a point that we have also been making since W came to town, we have to add about 150,000 jobs each month on a seasonally adjusted basis to keep up with the growth of the working-age population.

This group, like the discouraged group, fail to fully arrive in the stats. It isn't just the high school grad trying to get into jobs these days... College grads are increasingly challenged by finding a job. Worse, they are saddled with debt.

My so-observant stock broker friend doubts that we have really seen the bottom and the end of bank stress. He says we will see some serious failures. I agree with his analysis that there will be some problems with large Commercial Real Estate firms each of which could create a challenge for a bank or two.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 13, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, people. A person who was born and raised within the Russian Empire, and who was ruled by the Czar, and who built aircraft for the Czar's air force, was a Russian. I don't give a rat's patoot if he was also Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Siberian, Georgian, Azerbaijani, Kazakhstani, Estonian, Tatar or Bashkir (to name only a few). It's like trying to claim Faulkner wasn't an American, he was a Mississippian.

To quote wiki: "Sikorsky was a Russian-American pioneer of aviation who designed and flew ..."

"Igor Sikorsky was born, the youngest of five children, in Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine), in the Russian Empire.

"Sikorsky's father, Ivan Alexeevich Sikorsky, was a professor of psychology of mixed Russian-Polish ethnicity. The Sikorsky family was of Polish szlachta origin. Ivan Alexeevich Sikorsky was a son and grandson of Russian Orthodox Church priests and held monarchist and Russian nationalist views..."

"Igor Sikorsky's mother, Mariya Stefanovna Sikorskaya (nee Temryuk-Cherkasova), who was half Ukrainian (on the paternal side) and half Russian (on the maternal side)..."

He was a Russian, pure and simple, and he arrived in New York on March 30, 1919. He became a U.S. citizen in 1928.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 13, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

How quintessentially American of you, Curmudgeon. I would make just the opposite argument in favour of his being Ukranian. Anyone from any of those regions that were occupied by the Russian Empire not only *is* whatever (Ukrainian, Latvian, Czech) but should be acknowledged as such.

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I think with some beleaguered banks having to raise so much capital, we are going to see more layoffs in the financial services sector, especially those places where the service centers are clustered or HQ'ed, such as North Carolina.

Posted by: laloomis | May 13, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

By your argument, anyone born in Iraq in the last 8 years is American.

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Life here is pleasant and I'm getting close to being installed and being comfy in my apartment.

The Ukrainian language is different enough from Russian to be understandable by making a major effort. Non-Russian speakers are a minority mostly from the isolated Transcarpathean region. They are also separatists and mostly Catholic. The rest of the Ukranians are roughly divided 50/50 who identify themselves as either Russian or Ukranian.

I think that eventually both countries will reunite as present day Ukraine is a political accident. Both ethnicities have more in common than divisive issues.

Posted by: Braguine | May 13, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, just think, in 5 years, we will be having the same discussion about Red Adair being a famous American or a famous person from the country of Texas.

BTW, if Texas "moves on," will UT be kicked out of the NCAA?

Really, do they want to go there?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 13, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The correct phrase for people that lived in Soviet-occupied Eastern European territories is "filthy red commie Rooski".

Posted by: yellojkt | May 13, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse


I use the "McCain" rule. If McCain considers you something, then that's what I go with. So, there isn't a Czech Republic. You are a person from Czechoslovakia.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 13, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

What are you guys, crazy? I'd make the assumption that a person born in Iraq was an Iraqi (unless the parents held some other citizenship, which isn't the case in anything we've been discussing, such as John McCain being born in Panama), if that person's parents were Iraqi nationals qwho held Iraqi citizenship.

Is it quintessentially American to think that someone born in Canada is Canadian? That someone born in France is French? That someone born in Bolivia is Bolivian?

Look, if you guys wanna get all technical and politically correct, then you are STILL wrong about Sikorsky. His father was half (ethnic) Russian (meaning the province of Russia, not the entire country)and half Polish. His mother was half ethnic Russian and half Ukrainian. So if you're gonna be that way about it, he was two quarters ethnic Russian, one quarter Ukrainian, and one quarter Polish.

When we talk about someone's nationality, we talk about what it says on their passport or citizenship papers (or what it would say, if such a thing was operational at the time).

The notion that Ukraine and all the other provinces and territories of the empire were somehow "occupied" in the same sense that we are occupying Iraq is bogus. No one would ever make the argument that someone born in Vichy France (of French parents) was "German."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 13, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I made some raisin-pistachio butter for the plain scones, since frostbitten will need a treat after her robotics talk.

slyness, it sounds like that judge you describe doesn't fully grasp the principles of judicial autonomy, appearance of impropriety, conflict or bias. Oops. this is why I think judges everywhere should be appointed, not elected, and particularly not in a partisan race. It is possible to create an appointing system which reduces political influence (Oklahoma did it, though the current gang in the legislature is trying to introduce partisan politics to judicial nominations once again).

We had an exciting night. A big big thunderstorm got to the metro area and collapsed. This resulted in no rain and an hour of 60-70 mph winds. Astonishingly we only lost power for 2 hours, and no big trees. Just around the corner from us, a bunch of those big telephone/power line poles snapped clean in two. Lines and little round transformers are all over the place. I don't know where they routed our power from - Mars? - since it clearly isn't coming over those lines.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 13, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey YJ, your joke works better in person in a small assembly complete with ironic winks about saying but not meaning.

In this big public setting, falls flatish. And, can be misinterpreted. And, I say this nicely with rhubarb sauce on top.

Mudge -- I am with Yoki! People get to tell us how they preferred to be called even if it is complicated. And, Mudge, Faulkner is more Missipian and 'Merican anyway. Can I get an amen from the Southren ladies and gents?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 13, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Missipian THAN 'Merican. I am more Montanan than Marylander if anybody is wondering about my preferences.

Off to the day sans wifi. Thanks for the treats, Ivansmom.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 13, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Clearly there's a difference between the legalistic definition of nationality and the more heuristic emotional one.

I mean, legally I am a Virginian. This point is beyond dispute. But emotionally and, to an extent culturally, I am still very much a child of the Pacific Northwest. Not to mention a honorary Canadian (To my great delight.)

Now does any of this touchy-feely self identification really matter? Well, I guess it depends who you are talking to and for what purpose.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 13, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Just a hello before you leave CqP.

Mudge, we all know that we people of Polish descent use thirds and not quarters. Maybe that's the same thinking in West Virginia...

Posted by: russianthistle | May 13, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm just happy to count myself as a human.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 13, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that many obstetricians will continue to steer their patients clear of Category Cs [antiviral drugs Tamiflu or Relenza].

Perhaps the ob/gyn won't prescribe either of these antivirals within the first 48 hours when they might have some effect in pregnant women whose immune systems are depressed because of preganancy--or perhaps an ob/gyn will just prescribe one of the other of these antivirals as a last-ditch effort:

Mrs. [Judy Dominguez] Trunnell [of Harlingen, Texas] was eight months pregnant when she entered the hospital with pneumonia on April 19, five days after flu symptoms began and she had been found flu-positive in a doctor’s office test. Her baby was delivered by Caesarean section [when?] and is healthy. She developed acute respiratory distress on April 21 and needed mechanical ventilation. She did not get Tamiflu until April 28. She died May 4.

Posted by: laloomis | May 13, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: some effect in women who are pregnant and have influenza or the new swine flu and whose immune systems...

Posted by: laloomis | May 13, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and did anyone else see Jayson Werth STEAL HOME last night???? *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 13, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

No, CP, individual people do NOT get to tell us what to call them. It isn't up to them. They are entitled to self-identify any way they want to, but we are not bound by their decisions.

And in this case, it isn't some Ukrainian who gets to decide what Sikorsky was. If we are talking about self-identification, then Sikorsky isn't alive to decide what he wants to be.

Stalin was born in Gioergian, but we don't call him a Georgian, we call him a Russian. Hitler was born in Austria, yet we all call him a German. Alexander was born in Macedonia (of which his father was king), but we typically call him Greek and his empire Greek, not Macedonia. Bonaparte was born in Corsica, yet we call him French.

No, people do not get to self-identify. History and convention tends to do that for them, whether they (or their descendents) like it or not.

Your argument isn't with me. It is with Wikipedia and every other encyclopedia that thinks Sikorsky was a Russian.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

No, I didn't see that, Scotty (sounds exciting!) BUT I did see blossoms on my 'mater plants. Woooohooooo!

Posted by: Kim1 | May 13, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

mudge, they do get to tell us, but we have no obligation to comply. As an American, we also have a right to be wrong... up to a point... unless it is meant as satire or comedy.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 13, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This website has a link to the petition to conduct discovery against Smithfield Foods of Virginia, filed by paramedic Steven Trunnell and husband of Judy Dominguez Trunnell, Mrs. Trunnell the first death of an American citizen with swine flu.

The Brownsville Herald has other details about the lawsuit, including the amount of damages that Steven Trunnell may seek--$1 billion.

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

Second hour of the Diane Rehm show this morning to fature former FDA head Dr. David Kessler, who'll discuss his new book about overeating. Kessler was on Maher's show two Fridays ago. Kessler's always been one of my heroes.

Here's a recent interview with Kessler, a Q&A, done by Gourmet online editor Christy Harrison. In the interview, first page, Harrison talks about her struggle with --what Kessler terms one of the "adult baby foods"--scones brought into the office by coworkers and Harrison's lack of control in eating them.

Posted by: laloomis | May 13, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I consider Alexander the Great a Macedonian... Greek.

And Napoleon Bonaparte was Corscian, but he /ruled/ France. To speak to him was to speak to France. L'etat, c'etait Napoleon.

*Hums "Meet Georgia Joe..."*

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 13, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm an Alexander the Great purist, like my classics professor before me: he was a Macedonian. The Greeks whose backsides he kicked looked down their noses at him as a barbarian -- sometimes down their noses and down the length of a sword, too, which is when they learned the value of discretion, a talent that helped a great deal when the Romans also kicked their backsides. I've always been amused by the fact that the Greeks dedicated themselves for centuries to the art and joy of killing each other in pointless internecine squabbles, yet few of them seem to have ever gotten terribly good at it.

Amusement is easier with the benefit of a few thousand years' perspective. After all, it's not like any of those guys would still be alive today, but for the horrors of war.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Ooohhh... don't get started with the Macedonia controversy. To the Greeks, it's like the world decided to call Florida "Cuba."

Posted by: -TBG- | May 13, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

New kit coming shortly...

Posted by: joelache | May 13, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Or to call Canada part of the United States -- when clearly, the plan is for the United States to become part of Canada.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

When? When? When? Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh, I can hardly wait!

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Kim! *waving* Good to have you back. Thanks to you, and all in the boodle, for your kind words. I don't know the significance of this, but the MD said that they'll do a frozen section of the excised tissue as part of the surgery protocol. I suppose it's to determine whether there is a malignancy or not, then to decide whether to do a full excision, or send me off with 3/4 of that particular endocrine tissue.

Posted by: -jack- | May 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Not provinces, SSRs. It would be totally proper to refer to Sikorsky as a Soviet citizen when he was there. The SU was not organized like the U.S. And UkSSR had its own seat at the U.N.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 13, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Yoki | May 13, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, we're talking about 1914. There was no Soviet Union then.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 13, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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