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Google Does Evil

Go over to Google today, and you'll see that the banner has been changed to an image of a fossil. It's the so-called "missing link" in human-primate evolution.

I heard about the missing link from my youngest child, who was quite excited about the story. I'm like: Fine, but what about my story? On the Hubble? She's like: Oh, but this is a really interesting story. This (she says) is a really fascinating, readable story, the kind of thing an actual human being would care about. And then she went on to describe how this fossilized creature had opposable thumbs, fingernails, etc.

So then, this morning, Google's famously stripped down home page suddenly has the fossil image in place of the usual banner. Click on the fossil and you get a series of Google results associated with the "missing link," a fossil from 47 million years ago. The topmost link this morning was a New York Daily News story saying this fossil is basically the biggest story in science since slime crawled from the sea.

Feast your eyes on what a group of scientists call the Holy Grail of human evolution.

A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes.

Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.

Scientists say the cat-sized animal's hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright - a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists," lead scientist Jorn Hurum said...

[boldfaces mine-JA]

Um, could we be more breathless?

This is not how science works. It's way, way more incremental and contingent than this story purports. Nor did evolution need a breakthrough discovery to be confirmed.

Indeed, to judge from this excellent New York Times piece, this bit of science is being wildly hyped. That doesn't mean it's pseudoscience or that it's not a good piece of paleontology. Only that this particular discovery has been juiced by a massive publicity campaign connected to the History Channel. And now Google has jumped aboard. My fear is that the publicity will persuade a lot of people that:

1. We were missing a link and now have found it!

2. Evolution wasn't necessarily true before, but now we know it is!

3. We better watch the History Channel show on this and, you know, buy the related merchandise, soundtrack, stuffed animals, etc.

I rely on Google to a distressing degree. Google has become a global utility. With that comes huge responsibility, which I think the company understands -- hence its internal vow to Don't Be Evil. But it has to be careful about playing favorites with the Google banner. That's the kind of thing that will motivate government regulators at some point, don't you think? (Note tentative tone as I suddenly worry that Google, crawling up through the Internets, will emerge from my screen and kill me.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 20, 2009; 11:12 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Make Room on Mt. Rushmore!
Next: Science Fiction, Lacrosse and Whatnot



Something has to be hyped now that the swine flu hysteria has died down.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 20, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Google evil? Nah.

That's Bert's territory...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 20, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and as mentioned on the last Boodle.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 20, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

You aren't fooling me Joel. This is all a deviously clever way to argue that reliance on a single source of information is inherently risky. And buried within this argument is the implication that multiple reliable and independent sources of news and information are needed to counter this pernicious trend. Further, there is the startling obvious conclusion that newspapers provide such a counterbalance.

Shrewdly done.

And the most impressive part of this clever ruse is that you are so clearly correct. Reliance on Google is a little like reliance on Pravda. Not that Google would ever deliberately manipulate the truth, but the net effect is the same. It is a defacto monopoly made worse by that whole "absolute power corrupts business."

So we should be concerned. He who controls the Spice controls the universe.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I remember that old "Slime Crawls From Sea" story. They misspelled "primordial."

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

You are right that this is being over-hyped a bit. But it is still an exciting discovery.

One problem with overhyping is that it creates a single-point failure. Let's say that, somehow, it turns out that this thing isn't what they think it is. Maybe it is actually just a rat with a thyroid problem. Suddenly these overwrought claims would become fodder for evolution detractors.

Of course all of this, including my earlier post, misses the essential point.

Truly polite daughters should never question the primacy of their father's professional accomplishments.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I read that thing on the new fossil and thought exactly that Joel. What a load of carp. Looks like the German paleos got hooked on H-channel money though.
Yep Tim, I'm one of them buying retail.
I do the warehouse thing though once a month but still; it's retail.
I admit being a meat snob though. I buy mostly from 2 local butchers. Both shops buy complete animals from the region but the bigger shop buys lots of boxed beef in addition to the occasional heavy veal-baby beef. It turns out fancier butchers don't sell enough front-end meat to justify buying complete animals only, hence the recourse to boxed beef.

I had a dentist appointment at 09:00 this morning for what I thought was a small repair. I should pay attention to those things. I told the boss and the minions I'd be back at 10:30-11. When I got out of the chair at 12:25 after a second round of needle I wasn't feeling so fresh so I took a sick day. I'm thinking about warm jello for lunch. Taramosalata maybe.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

By the way, that Hubble piece really is good. That we have achieved at least another decade of really good science from this machine is no mean achievement.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

(I'm optimistic that the lifetime will stretch out.)

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that a lot of info ends up overhyped. Swine flu, for example. That said, it will be interesting to see where and how Darwinius masillae ends up in the chain.

The problem with being human is that it is impossible, literally impossible, not to do evil, regardless of intent and timing. Something always ends up on the wrong side. Life becomes easier, though, when one accepts that life is difficult and moves on.

Posted by: slyness | May 20, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Joel's Hubble piece is what Henry Fielding called "som Very Fine Writing." Perfectly factual, but with an emotional punch.


Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Not everyone is taking Google's evil lying down...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 20, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. As for the Google thing, Might I call your attention to this?

Anybody we know?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 8:34 AM |

My beef with the story is that the critter clearly has a tail. I have always thought the missing link was the common ape ancestor of humans, chimps, bonobos and/or gorillas. This guy (or girl, I'm no better at sexing fossil skeletons than I am at baby sonograms) is the link between apes and monkeys. So it is **a** missing link, not THE Missing Link.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Another death from swine flu--Pinal County, Arizona, a 57-year-old woman who lived in the Gila River Indian Community.

Posted by: laloomis | May 20, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

dbG, I read that Big Box/Club shopping piece and found what I think are a bunch of reasonably serious flaws in it, mainly a few of the 17 products she selected. For instance, two of her stores were in Jersey

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Just as interesting as the Eocene Darwinius she-cat-with-fingers is the site where she was found--Grube Messel, Germany, once rain forest, near present-day Darmstadt.

Ida's also missing a toilet claw and a toothcomb. Definitely not part of my toilette.

What the heck is a toilet claw and a toothcomb?


*just kidding--moving on to the dry-nosed primates, as opposed to the wet-nosed swine flu victims*

Ida’s importance stems from her anatomical characteristics, which appear to mark her out as a transi- tional form between two types of primate. Modern primates are divided into two suborders: the strepsirrhines, or “wet-nosed” primates, include lemurs, bushbabies and lorises; the haplorrhines or “dry-nosed” include monkeys, apes and humans.

While some of Ida’s features are similar to those of strepsirrhines, she lacks two key characteristics of modern lemurs: a grooming or “toilet claw” on the second digit of her foot, and a fused row of teeth on the lower jaw known as a toothcomb. The absence of these traits is typical of haplorrhines such as human beings.

Posted by: laloomis | May 20, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Very fine Hubble article, Joel. Basically, the entire gizmo has been rebuilt from the ground up. Or the sky down. Pick your idiom.

It's like George Washington's axe. The blade has been replaced twice and the handle three times, but it's still George Washington's ax. Or the USS Constellation.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought that many of the prices looked low, milk is certainly more expensive here.

I linked mainly in case anyone wanted the BJ's free membership.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I noticed that the page with the Republic article had a link to a story with the following headline:

"Pregnant woman, boy hit while crossing Glendale street"

Alas, it wasn't as good as I thought it was gonna be. The boy wasn't pregnant after all.

Posted by: bobsewell | May 20, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if swine flu was over-hyped as much as over-covered. Over-hyped, to me, means exaggerated in importance, and swine flu was, and is, a very important story.

But when the coverage of any story becomes like carpet-bombing the point of diminishing returns is quickly reached.

Of course, in this way being over-hyped and over-covered really are similar. Both can be perversely counter-productive.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Only time for some drive-by Boodling today:

From Joel's Hubble piece, "Then, barring some kind of salvage job, the great observatory of space will rest at the bottom of the sea." And they say we don't spend enough money on ocean reasearch -- sheesh. When I close my eyes I can imagine what Hubble will see there.

IMO, the evolution of opposable thumbs may be indeed be one of the most relevant science stories for at least half of the Internet users - and more precisely, for customers of some of the larger Internet businesses - ever. I wonder, without secure electronic credit card transacations, sound and image compression algorythims and opposable thumbs, where (and what) would the Internet be (or at least that prime male 14-24 demographic)?

This *could* be why Google is giving the story two big thumbs -- the Holy Grail of the Evolution of the Internet, perhaps.


Posted by: -bc- | May 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

oops. Hit button accidentally.

...but one was in NY. These states have different liqour taxation, so the Grey Goose item isn't apples versus apples.

The Pepsi thing is misleading, because Coke and Pepsi take turns vastly discounting, on something like a two-week schedule. So comparing soda prices is tricky; you just have be careful about it, and realize it fluctuates wildly. The fruit prices are also wildly seasonal and variable. Perhaps the price-checkers controlled for this--but perhaps they didn't.

The report also seemed to think the difference in annual fees -- a range of only 10 bucks -- was significant, but I don't agree. When you're spending $400 or $500 a pop (as we do), and going to one or the other store, say, 6 times a year, that ten bucks differential disappears pretty quickly in the noise level. Put another way, would I happily spend an extra ten bucks to go to Costco instead of BJs? Absolutely.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Of course Google does evil. Google is a Giant Corporation, in league in this instance with a Multinational Corporation, to make money through sensational promotion of a news story. In this instance the news story is a scientific discovery, which does mitigate the evil somewhat. But we can't expect too much from Google.

As RD notes, the important thing here is that Joel's offspring is being led astray by Google and encouraged to show insufficient respect for her parent's fine handiwork.

I think Joel is right to worry about Google coming right up through his computer to get him. One doesn't want to speak ill of Google for attribution. As a ocmpletely anonymous WaPo Boodler, I am confident that Google could never find me. Besides, I'm just agreeing with the blogger here - there's no reason to go after both of us. Really. He's the one with the online column!

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

...have been out of the loop for some time, rewriting a book that still isn't done. I
do nip in quite often. Another lurker...

Noted several people wanting info about Wyoming. Will post some stuff in the next few days. Add requests to comments on Achenblog. I will be watching for the next couple days. It has finally quit snowing...


Posted by: magundi | May 20, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how much of the Hubble will make it to the bottom of the ocean. And in how many pieces. And how much one might get for said pieces on Ebay.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Our Costco has a gas station that meets or beats most local prices. Plus the membership tie-in gives a cash back credit of 3%. Our rebate check paid for the last set of tires on my son's car. Kind of a nice circular bit of money velocity.

And a full gallon of milk in my household is about 48 ounces of spoiled milk poured down the drain after I have made my macaroni and cheese.

If I could buy milk in the school cafeteria cartons and store them long term at a cost effective unit price, that would be the way to go for me.

I did go to the Costco in Delaware for supplies for my son's graduation party because there is no sales tax, we were in the neighborhood anyways, and their location has an attached liquor store (for the relatives, not the students).

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

From my observation, Mudge, the only two weeks of the year Coke doesn't have a *sale* are July 4th and Christmas. I've found I can do better at my local Harris-Teeter in buying soda than at Costco, if I hit a decent sale. When H-T has four 12 can boxes for $10, that trumps Costco's 24 cans for $7.29. Watching the price is key, it fluctuates, as you noted. The issue for me is that Mr. T likes flavors Costco doesn't carry.

Posted by: slyness | May 20, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

With my luck the damn thing will land on my tomatoes.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

cool fossil link

Posted by: MissToronto | May 20, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

We buy sodas at Safeway the same way, slyness. If Coke has a 4 for $10 sale we buy Coke (Diet, Caffeine-free) and if it's Pepsi's turn, we buy that. And sometimes we buy the Safeway Select house brand, which has a very tolerable diet orange, diet root beer and a diet Dr. Pepper clone. For my daily V-8, however, Costco or BJs generally has a better price on the 24-pack.

When we go "major" shopping we generally have to take my pickup rather than my wife's car. She tends to buy the giant economy 2,000-pack generic TP that they have to bring out to the loading dock on a forklift. Ditto the paper towels, the dinner napkins, the Irish Spring, the Cheerios and Wheat Chex/Rice Chex combos, etc. She seems to buy such large quantities that I can only get about 9 items in the back of the truck. I think the last time we bought TP was 1997 or thereabouts; probably still have a couple hundred rolls left. And I've still got enough Irish Spring in the hall closet that I plan to bequeth a lot of it to my grandkids. It's gonna be pretty interesting when they read my will. And I expect my heirs will be doing a lot of horse-trading and swapping out in the parking lot afterward.

"OK, I'll trade you two gross of the Charmin for half the Head and Shoulders and four dozen cans of Pomidori peeled tomatoes..."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Also meant to add that what NASA's done with the Hubble has been a classic hot rod build.

For decades, American Hot Rodders have taken classic car chassis and replaced/upgraded them modern drivetrain components and accessories, so you have an old car that runs and drives like a new(ish) car. At least, it's far better than it used to be and a lot cheaper than a new car, though these kinds of rebuilds and customizations don't often last as long as a brand new ride before requiring another overhaul.


Posted by: -bc- | May 20, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Okay, you know how in my last post there was a typo? Well, I swear to you there was no typo in it when I wrote it. Somewhere between when I hit "Submit" and when it showed up - there in the Internets - two letters were transposed.

The power of Google. Used, I'm now certain, virtually always only for good.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Yello- Horizon Organic Milk comes in drinkbox-size and lasts forever. It doesn't even need to be refridgerated. Comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry (yuck!) and regular milk. I dunno why, but the exp.dates on Horizon brand is usually weeks after the regular stuff.

Posted by: Gomer144 | May 20, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The *missing link* will have to withstand scientific scrutiny. The 1 May SciFri program had an interview of two scientists that were well acquainted with the body of research that followed the discovery of Homo floresiensis. The big debate here was the classic taxonomic lumpers versus the splitters, specificallky thet characteristics that would set H. floresiensis apart from H. sapiens. Let the research begin.

Posted by: -jack- | May 20, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ...specifically the...[spastic typing]

Posted by: -jack- | May 20, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Google is good, except when it is not.

I love fossil news of any kind.

This is sad but a relief of some sort:

We knew this lovely girl; closing a cold case can ease at the same time that it rubs a scab lose.

Am struggling with dilated eyes. Despite always asking for the pediatric dose, I am given the full bore juice. I will look like lemur-eyed until Friday. I scored in the glasses department because I can be fit in the teen section. Kiddy prices AND srping temples. Next time, I fear I will pony up for progressive lenses. I asked about bifocals but the youngster in the lab coat said he had never made a pair of those.

Did I miss lunch? At four I am serving homemade baba ganoush and gewurstramimer.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the non sequitur, but this affront cannot go by unchallenged.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I am *so* there CP.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 20, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Google can find me because I had to disclose a fair amount of personal information in order to get an Adsense account. I am up to $45.16 in my account which puts me only 24 months and 13 days away from my first hundred dollar check. Who says blogging doesn't pay? Yahoo!

Did I say "Yahoo!"? I meant "Google-Yay!" Please don't dock my earnings. Pretty please.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | May 20, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

RDP, you can open the shiraz if you like. I am also making quick brushetta with the Pomidori tomatoes that Mudge brought over yesterday....fresh rosemary, though.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I, on the other hand, am nearly Google-proof. My vast searchable history drowning nearly any personally identifiable information. As long as a certain Gennifer Bouvier Thompson never blabs any private and privileged information about me.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Bruschetta and wine!!! There goes any shot at dinner. Can I bring a couple of splits of Corcoran Vineyard's really excellent 2006 Vidal Blanc? Had a bottle last weekend: to die for.

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

All this talk of missing links begs a primer on fossils. Dooley could probably do better, but here's the lesson I try to get my students to go home with:

There is no "Missing Link." There are simply fossils that have not been discovered. Whether these fossils have been lost forever to the forces of weathering and erosion, or they lay in wait for the next generation of paleontologists to trip over is only part of the problem. The larger problem is the nature of fossilization itself.

In order to become a fossil, an organism most often needs hard parts. If you've got bones, you're good. That organism then needs to die suddenly AND be buried quickly. This keeps other animals from dragging the organism's bones back to their dens and eating them. IF you die suddenly AND are buried quickly, THEN you must remain undisturbed for many years, usually millions. Only then can an organism's skeleton be turned to stone.

But therein lies the rub. If the fossil is so well protected that it remains undisturbed for millions of years, it stands to reason that it will remain so, even with intrepid paleojocks searching vigorously for it.

So, back to the point. The theory of evolution tells us that there has been an unbroken chain of ancestry from the earliest archaea to all of the organisms that live on the earth today. The fossil record is notoriously incomplete for the reasons I listed above, but there has developed this idea that somewhere on this earth there are fossils that represent every single organism in every single body form that has existed since the sands of time were first weathered from the igneous crust of our planet. And that since we haven't seen every piece of every transitional form of primate, there must be a "Missing Link" that will complete the chain.

This "Link" may never have existed, may have existed but was never fossilized, may have been fossilized but all samples have been eroded away, or it may lie in the bedrock beneath your living room, where it will continue to rest until a paleontologist decides to look there. Which he may never do.

It is inarguable that there are holes in the fossil record, some of which may never be filled. The competing ideas that because of these gaps, a missing link does not exist, or that it is waiting to be found, follow faulty logic. Because of the persnickety way fossils form, and their propensity to being lost to erosion, the fossil we seek may have never existed at all, or it may have been wiped from the face of the earth long ago, erasing all evidence of its existence.

Posted by: Gomer144 | May 20, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

While nobody can match OUR curmudgeon, George Will is getting increasingly cranky. He spent his entire prime op-ed column space droning on about the philosophical underpinnings of scalping. My guess is a certain bow-tied blowhard couldn't get Springsteen tickets.

I fully expect an upcoming attack on minors recreating on his lawn without permission as being a blatant disregard for his constitutionally protected property rights.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

The New Yorker had a story on a big wine mogul last week, the guy who provides "Two Buck Chuck" for those fortunate enough to live near Trader Joe's. He was kind of suggesting that wine need not be expensive. I'm starting to wonder about pricing parity with milk. Definitely with expensive Italian soda pop. Maybe fizzy water from Deep Beneath France?

Gomer144, "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" by Donald Prothero has good reviews as an explanation of why fossils show us the evolutionary history of life on earth. Anyway, his first few pages, available for preview at Google Books (Evil Google!!) are a delight.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 20, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, your students are so lucky to have you. Thank you for an idea to organize the first two weeks of summer school around.

Mudge, this can be dinner now. And later, fruit, cheese and lemon water. I love two light suppers in summer.

And, wow, dinner! I said it but that is so wrong, wrong, wrong. Long ago and far away, the dinner bell blew at 11:45, nearly midday. The 12-hour was reserved for the noon day church bells: St. Gerard's, Sts. Peter and Paul, Holy Family, and underscoring these plaintive tones, the deep bass bell of the Ursuline Orphanage. What did that bell say? Bear, Bear, Big Bear.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Another winning MSNBC hed:

Technology still to expensive and automakers haven’t committed to plan

It was to expensive, huh? That's two bad.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Xactly Gomer. When I see a "Missing Link" my eyes glaze over.

Oh, I can do babaganouj, fresh pita and white wine. It's all soft stuff.
With some persian cucumbers (rendered cukes with pressed yogurt seasoned with garlic and oreganao), sliced tomatoes and hommus on the side.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon all,I went to the local park today and took a nice leisurely walk up to the swinging bridge and back,very nice with a few folks out on bikes,roller blades and such.The city life takes some getting used too,all the traffic is mind blowing,but it is nice to have a park and river nearby.

I was thinking i might see you yello,or your bike in the park.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 20, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

SD -- lovely, and please tell, how do we render cucumbers. I am ashamed to say that my rendering knowledge is limited to piggies.

And, onkit! This twitter feed from "Astro Mike" is very worth following:

About space, from space. Technology is sweet!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I'll just bet CP's bruschetta is drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar reduction. Mmmm-mmmmmmmm.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The Lebanese shop were I buy my pressed yogurt has too (two) kinds: "pressed yogurt" and "pressed ship yogurt".
I think that's kind of cute for people who have English as a third language as they are old-style French-speaking Christian Lebanese.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

scc where

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Joel, your story is missing a link:

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 20, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mudge. I swear by Bellino brand balsamic v.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Hello, everyone. I have a pronunciation question about your imaginary supper - does anyone here use the pronunciation brews-ketta? My sister-in-law swears she has heard that the hard K sound is correct, and she makes herself just a tiny bit silly insisting on this with waiters, young children, etc.

My laptop is now fixed - took off what bits of the cover I could get off and vacuumed with the crevice tool. I *saw* no dust, but evidently it was there in plenty. I think I have that problem with my house, too. Just don't notice the dust.

I just spent hours pulling muck out of my gutters. What fun! I ache all over. Got up on the roof of this house for the first time - very very hot. I'll need a sit-upon for the next visit up there. I now have a full trash can of gutter gunk to add to my compost. Anyone know if this is frowned upon by composters?

Posted by: Wheezy11 | May 20, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Just like eggplants CqP. Sprinkle a generous amount of coarse salt (I favour kosher salt) on peeled thickly sliced cucumbers. Shake them in a colander, letting them sweat water for 15-25 minutes. Quickly rinse and pat dry in a tea towel. Mix in the pressed yogurt, crushed garlic and oregano mixture that has been standing aside for the 20 minutes as well.

I never had a persian lover but I worked with a pair of Iranian cousins at summer camp. They were having that stuff as a snack at night while pining for soft Iranian bread. One Iranian system analyst found my version very good at a pot luck we had at the office(or she was being nice to me...).

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

Wow, Jumper. They're really going all out to push this little fossil critter as the next Lucy.

Please allow me to flog a blog on the subject of science and space science:
It's just getting started, so give it some time to develop.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 20, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Bellino you say, CqP? I'll look for it. What's in my pantry is Kirkland balsamic vinegar. Also Kirkland olive oil. I am such a simple girl. I'll bet Bellino can be found at Harris-Teeter, but it will also be available at the Fresh Market, and cheaper there.

Cobbler with fresh strawberries in the oven. Since the oven will already be hot, I'll also make squash casserole, with extra sharp cheddar. There are green beans I cooked last night to offer two small boys, and fresh cantelope.

Y'all come when you're ready. Supper will be at 6 sharp.

Posted by: slyness | May 20, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Bruh (swah sound)-SHET-uh here, Wheezy. Don't know if that's right or not.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 20, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Bellino means beautiful little boy, which is certainly true in your neck of the woods with the twinsie-boys.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Paging the ih-talians among us....I believe that technically the sound is k-like rather than shuh-like.

Consider chianti, pinocchio, and zucchini...but also know this: church Latin usually makes a soft sound of the ch. And church Latin pronunciations shape American pronunciations. Most would say, brew-chet-a.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 20, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I've heard bruschetta with the hard ch(k) by people who should know wheezy. I wouln't make it a national security issue though.

Reminds me of an old joke. Maurice Duplessis was premier of the Province of Quebec for a long time (1936-40, 1944-59). He was an educated man but played the rube. "Education is like booze, most people can only have a lttle it as they can't take it"
A minister of his was telling that his name, Bruchesi (bru-shay-zee), was of Italian origin and should be pronounced "bru-key-zee". To which Duplessis answered: "bru-shay-zee, you make me skit"

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The previous was unfaithfully translated.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I've been working 18 hour days since last Friday and probably have another week of this to look forward to.

Many thanks to all those preparing imaginary meals! I have some Dubliner cheddar to contribute. You've inspired me to get take out for dinner instead of raiding the freezer in the garage for Lean Cuisine again.

Yello, I buy organic milk. I've never bought any that didn't have a due date that wasn't 2-3 months out. I usually buy half gallons, very handy.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 20, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

So true, CqP! They are gorgeous children, if I do say so myself. They are fraternal so they do not look alike at all. W has light brown curly hair and blue eyes, P has dark brown straight hair and brown eyes. P takes after his mom, W after his dad. They both are very full of themselves, which is how they should be at 13 months.

Posted by: slyness | May 20, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I gotta go with CqP's version. Or just call it salsa on toast.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 20, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the snack, collegeparkian. Bruschetta, baba ganoush, wine, veggies - I may be there a while.

I'll bring some stuffed shells for later. Don't tell the family: I have no ricotta so I used labneh (pressed yogurt) mixed with some sour cream, and a little nutmeg and sugar for the sweetness. Add in the cheeses, herbs and egg and it'll work out fine. I've also used the labneh-mix as a substitute for cottage cheese in an egg casserole. And poor Ivansdad thinks he's never had it.

Thanks for the cucumber tip, jumper. I make something like that with thick yogurt, cucumber, garlic and olive oil. I'll have to throw in some oregano next time.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, that's an excellent explanation of fossils and evolution. I'm going to inflict it on the Boy. I say "inflict" of course because it comes through me. If he stumbled upon it his ownself he'd enjoy reading it without reservation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 20, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I firmly believe that the proper pronunciation of 'cc' is 'k' and the 'c' in cinema and civis is 'ch.'

All I can contribute this evening is a big black box of wine. Nuthin here tonight but left overs.


Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 20, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

What did Ida really teach us? Rush Limbaugh is a creationist. Who knew? *l*

Much of Gomer's excellent explanation and Joel's concern, and a whole lot more, is mentioned or repeated at this NYT blog, with today's title, "Let's Not Go Ape over Ida," as repeated in the URL below:

Posted by: laloomis | May 20, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, speaking of evil (we were, weren't we?) I have made a decision so essential, so definite and so incontrovertible to erase all the current evil in my working and playing life, that I just *have* to share.

*drum roll*

In the barely year-and-a-half since I got my computer (PC), and in light of the past three or so weeks of absolute misery with it, I'm GONNA BUY A MAC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There's an Apple store at Montgomery Mall down the road where I live and since I have to visit the Mall this weekend anyway, I'm just gonna go visit them and see what I can get for the right price.

There will be only one program for which I will need the PC side of the Mac, and that's Timeslips. The rest will be Mac-alicious seamless happy and comforting software with which I am told I will never fight.

I may end up waiting until the end of June to do this, but if the next three weeks go in accordance with the last three weeks -- no way, buster!

So, there we are. The prospect of a dearth of evil warms whatever reamins of the cockles of my heart.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 20, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC -- "remains"

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 20, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Go, ftb! Making the world a more mac place, one boodler at a time.

Posted by: -bia- | May 20, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

For Gomer:

We are the record;
the choices made to be or
not be infinite

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 20, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

When a man needs his drink.
"A man drove a Rolls-Royce through the window of a Tesco supermarket yesterday after staff at the store refused to sell him alcohol." (because he was drunk)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Gotta mention before I disappear for the evening -- the Boodlers' favo(u)rite dancing show starts tomorrow night: So You Think You Can Dance. So let's go get our tights and tutus and put them on with finesse and grace (hahahahaha) and watch the show.

I lost interest in American Idol ages ago, but SYTYCD is *the* show to watch, especially after all the auditioning is over and the real dancers do their stuff. Makes my knees harken back to when they worked and makes me dream of being coordinated, with great appreciation for those what got it. Gotta have yer fantasies, eh?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 20, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

As a Mac-convert, I add my voice to the choir, ftb. Wish I could use it for work, but there I am stuck with a PC and, thankfully, XP instead of Vista.

Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, watch your mouth young lady.
No V-word allowed in the boodle. Not good for my blood pressure, it used to be pretty good before that computer got infected with M$ slimeware..

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

*Hanging my head in shame*

Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Vas et ne pèche plus.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Merci, mon ami.

Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Gomer's comments (and the kit) are excellent.

The "buzz" among paleontologists about this is "Well, maybe, but...". It's a very nice specimen, but the conclusions are a reach at this stage, and could be better supported. That said, the authors are much more reserved in the actual paper. From their conclusions (which I agree with):

"We do not interpret Darwinius as anthropoid, but the adapoid primates it represents deserve more careful comparison with higher primates than they have received in the past."


(Let me emphasize that I'm all for arm waving out on a limb over thin ice, at least in paleontology...but I'm OK with being wrong half the time.)

The whole "missing link" meme is...more elegantly described by Gomer than the vulgarities I would use (the whole astronaut thing).

Incidentally, even if the authors are correct, the reporting on the significance of the specimen has been almost universally wrong. The specimen would not be a "missing link" (whatever that is) between humans and anything. Rather, it would be a transition between the anthropoids (the group including the apes and humans) and early lemur-like primates. Transitional forms between hominids and other anthropoids are already fairly well established. I've also seen it called "the oldest fossil" (wrong) and the oldest primate (wrong).

Posted by: Hopeful_Monster | May 20, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, and goodnight boodle! Over scheduled and under-resourced for the next week or so, but spending 8 of 11 nights with Mr. F (a rate not seen since Christmas '06) so it's all good.

Gomer-your 3:42 is worthy of elevation to a kit.

Flowering now-marsh marigold, wild plum, large flowered bellwort and though I try to ignore them-dandelions. At least the guinea pig likes them. The bloodworts are done. The ferns are just about unfurled, but not full and tropical looking yet.

Rhubarb pie and latte for anyone not too full.

Sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 20, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

It's OK to be wrong Hopeful_Monster; it's science, not religion or politics.

Summer has arrived, unexpectedly. It's 25C and very summery.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I'm NEVER wrong about politics! :-)

Posted by: Hopeful_Monster | May 20, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Good for you H_M.
Given your height&size, being wrong (or right) and waving madly about politics while being on thin ice could be dangerous. My old lab couldn't pull you out of the water, that's for sure ;).
Who's ever wrong on politics anyway?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I like this hopeful monster

Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, re. your 1:44 - all too true in my opinion.

And good reasons to pursue science in all its forms -- you'll never know what you find out until you try. But if you don't look, and don't try even when the results aren't exactly what you're looking for, you've learned something, correct?

And, of course, there's the matter of interpretations of what one finds...


PS And see, I didn't mention human space flight even once.

Posted by: -bc- | May 20, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

That Calgary girl gets it right:

"The proper pronunciation for bruschetta is “broo-SKEH-tah.” The other, Americanized pronunciation is “broo-SHEH-tah.” I will be the first to admit that I use the latter; I have my reasons."

"Bruschetta should be fresh and warm when eaten. The soft bread should be cut thick and saturated with garlicky olive oil. Toppings for bruschetta are most often of a salad type, from marinated eggplant, to shrimp salad, to bean salad; generally requiring a knife and fork, or at the very least, a plate."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 20, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

You don't think this fossil is a big deal, but they let you write about the Hubble?

Posted by: Booyah5000 | May 20, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I've heard bruschetta pronounced both ways, but always understood that the proper pronunuciation is the brew-SKEH-ta.

Many people don't realize that "Porsche" is a two syllable word, too.

Had a really good bruschetta not too long ago with sweet onion and olives in it; a nice mix of salty and sweet.

And I do loves me toe-MAH-toes.


Posted by: -bc- | May 20, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 20, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

A 12-year-old San Antonio girl has taken top honors in the Doodle 4 Google art contest. (And the boy from The Colony, near Denton and north of Dallas, won the national geography contest, as I read at the tonight. Romania, indeed.) Her design is pretty cool:

Contest entrants were asked to design art for a Google logo inspired by the theme “What I wish for the world.”

"My doodle expresses my wish that in the current crisis discoveries will be made,” Christin [Engelberth] wrote in the text accompanying her entry, called “A new beginning.”

Posted by: laloomis | May 20, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Sad news, Canadian Architect Arthur Erickson has passed away at 84, he was the architect who designed the Canadian Embassy in Washington, among many other projects.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 20, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Attention rhubarb lovers: a savory recipe

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 20, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Now I grieve. Thank you, dmd2.

I have made a study of contemporary architecture.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

I just filled out a survey for financial supporters of Berea College, in which they asked (among other things) what kinds of causes I support. They provided 7 options and space for "Other". I was kind of appalled that I checked off every category and then named two others in the "Other" space -- and that was only because I was feeling a little lazy and didn't want to keep going.

Man, I am such a bleeding heart. I admit it: I have even helped out guys "who just need a little gas money to get home." Of course, for those guys, on the second time that I see them I remind them that we already had that conversation the preceding week. There are limits to my being a soft touch.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Kingfish covers Elvis:

Posted by: -jack- | May 21, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

My last visit to Washington was in December 2007. It was my first look at the Canadian Embassy, decked with all-red Christmas tree. A most inviting building.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 21, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. heading for Washington this morning. I checked the weather for her and Oh my! It's really summer out there, is it?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

The second and third headlines on my iGoogle WaPo Widget are:

Allen is 'American Idol' in Upset

Obama Looks To Quell Backlash

I wonder if the stories are related.

Up and flying. Dawn comes pretty early this time of year.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2009 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning!

It's race week here and there are actually hotel rooms available. We are truly in a recession when that happens. Mr. T and I will not be attending Speed Street, the festival uptown.

What can we do to keep hedge funds out of investing in fuel futures? I see that's what's driving up the cost of gasoline. This is such a perversion, given that supply is at record highs and demand is low.

I'm not in the mood for ham biscuits this morning. Scrambled eggs and bacon and assorted scones, with honey butter and clotted cream, set out on the table in the ready room. I got extra good coffee and a variety of good teas too.

Mudge, you up? I hope you're feeling better.

Cassandra, it's much warmer here this morning. I may be able to walk without a jacket!

Posted by: slyness | May 21, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone, another spectacular morning here, not sure we have had a cloud in the sky for about 3 days, pollution and haze have yet to move in so we have had brilliant blue skies and warm.

It was already 60F when I went out at 6:30 am, supposed to get to mid 80's today.

My wisteria is going crazy - blooming and growing so quickly.

Had a little surprise this morning, when to the Globe and Mail website as I normally do in the morning and my eyes bugged out when I saw it, new web design, quite funky for the staid old paper - but I like it - fonts might be a little small for some though - nice clean fonts however.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 21, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Yep dmd, nice packaging but what an ugly story on the frontpage...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I know Shriek, that was the town where my father was born and spent his early years. Those kinds of stories are always so difficult to hear about, when there is a connection no matter how slight it just makes it that much more difficult.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 21, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

No... creamer for... coffee... this morning... *pant pant*

I'll muddle through somehow.

It's always nice to give a presentation to a group of peers and not be greeted with rotten fruit. Wearing a jacket was a bit much during yesterday's lovely weather, tho.

And Papi finally cleared the fence!! *Snoopy dances*

*almost-TGIF-and-a-long-weekend-is-that-a-fever-I-feel-coming-on Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Summer is on it’s way here. I just went out on the porch to open windows so it won’t be boiling hot out there later today. I’ll be eating breakfast out there every day soon.

Great Kit, and it points out one of the things that drives me nuts. The media seizes on something that is either clearly untrue or debatable and runs with it. The public freaks out (see Gitmo prisoners being housed in the U.S.) and all logic and reason go out the window. I was hopeful that the new administration would help usher in a new age of reason, but I guess I was mistaken. Altho’ it will be interesting to hear what President Obama says about Gitmo today.

It’s too early, and a much too pretty day to be so upset. Yes Scotty, very happy for Big Papi, hope this signals the end to his slump.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 21, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. It is a very fine day indeed.

I don't know what I think of the new G&M design. The mix of fonts is certainly very strange.

I hear is redesigning its front page *again,* and we'll have something to compare it to.

Hope you all have a good day.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Dwight Howard's a baaaaaaaaaad maaaaaaaaaan... He broke the 24-second clock!!! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

It is a spectacular morning around here. These Spring days of dry warmth are few. Soon we shall all be complaining about the muggy heat and watching the grass die. But for now it is a wonderful time to wander aimlessly about the campus listening to youthful music, staring slack-jawed at the bright colors, and exchanging pleasantries with the goldfish.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, didja see this one from my former "winter home" in the North Country??


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Shrieking... it's warm here, but remember we use Fahrenheit, so the temp's not as high as you may think. Har har har.

Hope Mrs. D has a pleasant visit. Couldn't talk her into a gathering of imaginary friends?

Posted by: TBG- | May 21, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

A rarely seen, fresh approach in today's Wapo op ed:


Posted by: Braguine | May 21, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Great story Scotty. Nice to see the people beat 'town hall.'

Posted by: badsneakers | May 21, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

After getting a three day 'winter is coming' demo, the sun got the upper hand over Santiago.

For over a week we've been getting warmer and warmer days. Now afternoon temperatures have stabilized at slightly over 20 degrees Celsius and there is no rain in sight.

This is good news as far as heating bills go. Outside a couple of isolated showers, no rain has fallen here since October.

In the past thirty years the symptoms of climate change have been most severe in the southern hemisphere.


Posted by: Braguine | May 21, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

slyness: The city lost a bit of magic when the festival of lights was replaced by speed street. The FOL fireworks were, IMO, better than the 4th of July fireworks. Same with the loss of springfest. Time marches on...

Posted by: -jack- | May 21, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Brag-thanks for pointing out that op-ed. Good reading for anyone interested in US/Iranian relations, or lack thereof.

Maggie-should I ever have enough rhubarb I'll be all over that savory recipe. I'm having a heck of a time getting it established in my garden.

A return to more seasonable temps today-high of 69. We brushed 80 here yesterday in the far north and people were wilting. A sudden surge of summer temps this time of year tests our sturdiness more than 30 below.

Back to work, but fortified with latte. The $30 espresso machine just keeps chugging along.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 21, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

*summoning my best Dr. Smith voice*

Ooooh the pain, the pain...

Today's dead-tree "A" section has a full-page ad more suited to certain publications found next to the candy and gum in supermarket checkout aisles... And on an ad-heavy Thursday, no less!!!

Ooooooooooh the pain...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Jack, I still miss Springfest, that was always a lot of fun. First Night is making a small comeback; we weren't here to go, but that's a good festival too. Mr. T took me to the rally for the teams in the Continental Tire Bowl, and that was a good time for those who're into such events.

The one I really miss is the July 4th party and fireworks at Freedom Park. The city outgrew that event, oh, 30 years ago. But it was always fun.

Posted by: slyness | May 21, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I'd really like to do the gallery crawl on the north side. What was the name of that really cool restaurant, closed now, that was at the end of the street? The trons were very heavily tatooed and pierced, the food was great and the crowd about as diverse as could be.

Posted by: -jack- | May 21, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Scottynuke, sorry to hear about your creamer crisis. Er, can ya get some milk?

Personally, I'd consider substituting Kahlua, amaretto, Frangelico, sambuca, Bailey's, etc., but that's just me.

And dude, whatever ad money the WaPo can bring in these days for the dead tree edition, they're going to take, I think.

I understand there's a whole segment of Craigslist ads that's looking (whoops, Fruedianaccidentally started writing "nooking,") for a home...

And I suppose that ties back to the Kit and the the idea that there's thumbthing funny going on here.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, speaking of people wilting, we were talking to the bank's mortgage person the other day, and she told us about a couple about to move from Wisconsin that she had recently met with. They had spent their whole several days of house hunting exclaiming about how unbearably hot it was. Something like low 80's, relatively muggy. Those poor people. I don't know how they'll survive the shock of moving in during the heat of the summer, but if they do, hopefully they'll acclimate eventually.

Posted by: -bia- | May 21, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

'Morning Boodle.

Whatever you put out in the Ready Room is fine by me, slyness. Thanks.

One close to home, one very biggie, and one very sad:

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

May 21, 1798: Maryland's Charles County-born merchant and tobacco farmer Benjamin Stoddert is named by Pres. John Adams the first Secretary of the Navy. During his successful three-year term, Stoddert establishes the first six Navy yards. A middle school in Waldorf is named in his honor.
1927: At 10:22 p.m. Charles Lindbergh lands his Spirit of St. Louis at Paris's Le Bourget Airfield after a 33.5-hour flight, becoming the most famous person in the world and winning the $25,000 Orteig Prize, donated by French-born New York hotelier Raymond Orteig (Lafayette Hotel). Little remembered is the fact that Lindbergh was a U.S. Army reservist at the time, and therefore eligible to receive a military award, in this case the Medal of Honor, pursuant to an Act of Congress. Six famous aviators had already died trying to win the Orteig Prize.
1968: Nuclear submarine USS Scorpion (SSN 589, Cmdr. Francis Slattery, captain), with 99 crew aboard, sends her last routine message while on a cruise some 400 miles southwest of the Azores; she is never heard from again. Just 97 days earlier the Skipjack class fast attack sub had received the shortest and least expensive yard overhaul for a ship of her type in Navy history. A super-secret underwater listening system heard the Scorpion break up beginning at 6:59 GMT the next day, and recorded the 190-second disaster. The cause remains unknown. The overhaul was a one-time experiment to reduce costs and turn-around time. Scorpion is reputed to have once snuck into a Russian inland sea to successfully photograph a Soviet missile launch through her periscope before fleeing at high speed chased by Soviet surface ships.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

*stepping away from bc before the Flying Google Monster extracts retribution for the Craigslist reference*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, wasn't there a sub that sunk with loss of all hands during the Kennedy administration? What was her name?

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

Scottynuke, the FSM will have to get in line with all the other entities that are going to exact retribution on my hide when my number's up.

If there's a bit of strawberry jam and part of a toenail left 'mongst the scorch, skid and claw marks where I meet my demise, I'll be surprised. Don't forget to check under the anvil.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I've also seen it called "the oldest fossil" (wrong) and the oldest primate (wrong).

LL: I had to laugh! Of course, it's not the oldest fossil. C'mon, the Eocene fossil is only 47 million years old--a relative youngster in geologic time.

One of the delights (of four) that I had last Saturday was meeting two talkative, funny, highly educated women who were about three sheets to the wind as compared to my 1.5 sheets to the wind. They were more "winded" since they had continue to sample, as I very strongly suspect, wines after the wine-laden lunch we had attended. When we left them about 4:20 p.m., they were again heading to the area under the winery's eaves where the sampling table was located.

They had been friends in Bozeman, Montana, before both ended up moving to Texas, one to Fort Worth, the other to Salado. For this witty twosome, it was Women's-Weekend-Away, an outing far from spouses and family. The one with whom I spoke most was a geologist, and both worked in Texas for the USDA. I spoke with them about their former boss, Ann Veneman of Modesto, this former ag secretary now with UNICEF. You may want to see the interview with current SecAg Tom Vilsack by reporter Romano on's homepage this morning.

And we discussed writer John McPhee and geologist J. David Love. Marie (pronounced Mary) was quite familiar with Love's work, Montana and Wyoming being neighbors and all. The conversation with Marie prompted me to pull down author McPhee's Pulitzer prize-winning "Annals of a Former World" from my bookshelves yesterday and beginning reading in the afternoon and into the evening.


Posted by: laloomis | May 21, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What a yarnspinner, this McPhee, an English major from Princeton who spent several decades pursuing and writing about rocks. What an individual--J. David Love. Even more remarkable is that McPhee weaves the story of Love's mother, diarist and Wellesley Class of '05 Phi Beta Kappa grad Ethel Waxham Love, throughout the story of Wyoming's strata. Never turn up your nose at the story of a determined, educated woman, say I.

I have to wonder if J. David Love wasn't born to his life because of his strong mother and tough "muttonaire" father, the nephew of naturalist John Muir. I realize that I come to this story late, since filmmaker Ken Burns already touched on Ethel Waxham Love's story in his series, "The West." It's such a dang good story I can't help but crow about it about 20 years after the fact of McPhee's rounding it up. Besides, I figure it's a good thing to get the full backstory of the Loves before sending off an e-mail to Charlie Love in Rock Springs either Friday or Monday.

Interestingly, the next story in McPhee's assembled works, Book Four titled "Assembling California," is about the geology of California, with special emphasis on the San Joaquin Valley, the San Andreas Fault, and the Gold Rush 49ers. I spied in skimming Book Four yesterday that the gold in California dates back to Eocene, same as that cute little critter Darwinius.

Posted by: laloomis | May 21, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

You referring to Fat City, jack? It was said Fat City would be back after the rebuild, but last I heard they are putting a branch of Fifth Third Bank in the spot. (BTW a video exists about NoDa, the early years. It was made in the '90s. I have tried to send word to the makers to put it on YouTube. But it isn't available. And I never got a copy for myself.)

What's a tron?

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 21, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Well TBG Mrs. D is with her boss and it's supposed to be an all-work no-fun formal visit to discuss with their esteemed colleagues of the other capital.

What's funny: Our workplace H&S department lifts the advisory against non-essential travel to Mexico. Great, now I can resume trying to find a reason to go to Mexico.

What's not funny: for a couple of years I was travelling to Washington on a regular basis (3-4 a year). With my current job I'd have to be lucky to go to Toronto.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I knew you'd remember that it *was* Fat City, jumper. short for waitron (waiter/waitress; just something I picked up during my restaurant days.) After Hugo hit, I was luck enough to get ice the following morning at the ice and coal company in Noda, and the line was practically non existent. They let me have fifty #. The lines quickly stretched for blocks, and they instituted a weight limit.

Posted by: -jack- | May 21, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I think the sub you're thinking of was the USS Thresher.

Posted by: byoolin1 | May 21, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

(I checked: per Wikipedia The Unimpeachable, Scorpion went down in May 1968, and Thresher sank in April 1963.)

Posted by: byoolin1 | May 21, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Right you are, slyness -- the USS Thresher, in April 1963 during a deep-diving test, with 129 aboard. The cause has never been determined conclusively, but the suspicion is a leak from a bad weld. Subsequent tests showed that if a pipe in certain hard-to-reach areas broke, it would take as much as 20 minutes to contain-- and at depth no sub had that much time to spare. The pressure hulls of both the Thresher and the Scorpion imploded at or somewhere below about 2,000 feet of water depth. So part of the problem is a fairly simple time equation of how deep the sub is when the pipe breaks, and how quickly she's sinking before she hits about 2,000 feet. It is believed the Thresher was very deep, but that the Scorprion was pretty shallow. But there are also all kinds of other theories about what might have happened, including what I believe to be a pretty far-fetched one that the Scorpion was sunk as "revenge" from a Soviet sub.

The thing about submarines is that sometimes [fecal matter] happens, and there's not a lot one can do about it. Surface ships, at least, have lifeboats.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Fat City was a band of local origin ... founded by someone who used to run in the same proximity as our most righteous leader.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Watch out. Fire ant zombies will soon be among us.,0,3600101.story

Posted by: -jack- | May 21, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I knew somebody would know! Thanks, byoolin. It was indeed the Thresher. It was big news, I remember, having been a fourth grader in April 1963.

I never went to Fat City, Jumper and Jack, but we ate at Boudreaux a couple of times and liked the alligator appetizer.

Fire Station 7 is smack in the middle of NoDa. It was built when the area was annexed in 1935. It's waaayyy too small, being one of two single bay stations in the system, but there is much affection for it. It was completely renovated in the early 1990's and a weight room and women's locker room have been added. I think it may be on the National Register of Historic Places.

Posted by: slyness | May 21, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

My first non-temporary job out of college was, weirdly, in Wyoming (my employer rarely hired people from the east, other than geologists and hydrologists). I was quickly impressed at how the Big Horn Basin and surrounding mountains resembled the photos from my historical geology textbook, and therefore looked like my preconceived notion of how the West ought to look.

That summer, spotted Princeton geology camp students at the supermarket and finally checked the book. It had been written and illustrated by Princeton geologists.

I suspect John McPhee had no trouble at all getting introduced to David Love.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 21, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

McPhee: one of the two best science writers ever to graduate from Princeton. Can't think of the other guy's name.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you searching for the name, Donald Rumsfeld?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

No, don't think that was it.

Joe Something. Joe Lashay? Like that.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My next guess would have been a guy who draws you into believe his premise and then winds a wonderfully simple tail about what the world should be like, only to dump on the reader the truth ... George Will.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Nifty kinda sorta on-topic article on the virtues of internet distraction from a fellow named Sam Anderson of "New York Magazine" via Arts and Letters Daily.

Love this quote:

"People who frequently check their e-mail have tested as less intelligent than people who are actually high on marijuana. "

But then again:

"The truly wise mind will harness, rather than abandon, the power of distraction. Unwavering focus—the inability to be distracted—can actually be just as problematic as ADHD."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Every time I check my e-mail I get the munchies.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

That explains a lot. I still like checking it, though.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Every time I check my e-mail my eyes get blood-shot.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

That article also gives dispensation for everyone to read about this:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Reading THAT article made my eyes bloodshot.

I'm going back to reading something more linear once my eyeballs recover.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 21, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Allow me to give you the big-time munchies, momentarily.

My most fervent desire for a birthday gift was rain, something to benefit all in these parts, as I mentioned before.

We pushed off for home about 9:15 a.m. Saturday morning, and after we passed the sliver of a city, Sisterdale, with its itsy winery, the skies started to darken. Halfway between Sisterdale and Luckenbach, the skies turned serious-black and we could see rain pouring from clouds ahead. Before too many minutes passed, there was both thunder and lighntning. It began to rain, then pour. We were on a Texas backroad, the most direct route to our destination, noteable for its narrow lanes, its winding path, its up-and-over-and-down hills and gullys and gulches--and low water crossings.

We decided to pull off at Luckenbach and stay in the shelter of the general store. Some men, most likely locals, were already congregating in the postage-sized bar just beyond the back of the store. Two athletic young men in spandex had taken cover in the store as well, their bicycles under the oak out front. We shopped--headed right for the Luckenbach-logo printed cotton bandanas, so we could mop the rain off our soaked hair, arms, legs, necks and upper chests. Saw a Willie Nelson best hits CD, scanned all the knick knacks. We also sprang for two chocolate Tootsie Roll pops, and since we weren't going anywhere because the storm wasn't, we plopped down on the wooden bench in front of the store's friendly cat whose food and water dish were in the sill of the propped-up window. We slowly licked our hard candy and listening to the falling rain and many claps of thunder. I felt deep peace and relaxation.

What was obvious from our perch was how greethe adjacent fields were, so much more lush and colorful than the parched landscape we had left behind less than an hour earlier. When the rain finally cut back to reasonable levels, we headed north up the road, to Becker Vineyards. (When we got home our rain gauge in our backyard measured 1.65 inches, we saw trees blown over along along our route and parts of San Antonio had electricity knocked out for several hours. A wonderful relief, but hardly an extreme drought buster.)

Posted by: laloomis | May 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Coming soon at your local internets cafe:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 21, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

We were hungry when we reached rain-soaked Becker Vineyards, about halfway between Fredericksburg and Stonewall. A little rivulet had formed next to the gravel road that connects the lane and the winery. There were so few folks there that security guards were waiving the $5 parking fee. After we had parked, we dodged puddles and slick spots in our walk across the gravel roadway in front of the winery's picturesque grounds.

It was still raining, and I had only one rather small umbrella in my trunk. Many of the vendors had zipped thir tents closed and had sought better shelter. There were many mini-lakes in the vendor area. My husband had tried to find me and found instead the luncheon set up in the hall directly across from the main building, the larger structure now with a large, permanent tasting bar in its center.

One of my goals in making the weekend's trip was to buy some table lines with a lavender motif from Provence; there had been vendors the year before selling them. One of my secret desires was to try gourmet food made with lavender. We did not spring for the lunch last year. It was my idea to ask if there were empty seats, the notion bubbling quickly from my lips.

We understood from one of the guests after the lunch that there had been some trouble this year filling the seats because of the economic downturn. We lucked out, there was one empty table with eight chairs. We sat by ourselves, as it turned out, and feasted on:

Reception wines (all local): 2008 Pinot Grigio and 2007 Barbera

First Course: Mixed Field Greens topped with Chevre Medallion with Lavender and Mandarin Orange Vinagrette, accompanied by a 2007 Chenin Blanc

Second Course: Chilled Beef Tender with a Roasted Tomato, Majoram and Lavender Reduction, Blu Cheese Mashers, Spring Vegetable (Zucchini) Julienne, accompanied by Becker's 2006 Reserve Cabernet-Syrah

Thirtd Course: Lavender-infused Tres Leches Cake with a Dark Chocolate Sauce, accompanied by Becker's 2007 Vintage Port

My overactive calcium taste-and-smell sensing receptors thought that they had died and gone to heaven.

Posted by: laloomis | May 21, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the props on my little screed back there, and to DNA Girl for the lovely haiku. We are indeed the record that is left behind.

I often wonder what kinds of fossils humanity will leave for future geologists. I think it's reasonable to posit that our species will shrug off this mortal coil someday, and the fossils of our bones as well as the trace fossils of our existence here will be all that is left. Will the alien geologists of our future find the mass graves of our wars and natural disasters, or will they find vast cemeteries of bodies laid out neatly, in lines with headstones? How long does an embalmed body stay that way? As cremation becomes more common, will the aliens think that we just stopped dying one day? Or will the only trace of our time here be a reddish-blackish line between overlying and underlying strata?

How will a line of iron oxide and concrete rubble tell them what we accomplished?

Well, I guess that's not all they'd have. If they looked up at the moon, there'd be that big ol' Obama face staring down. Then they'd know that we were a society of brilliant individuals working together to bring graffiti to the universe.

Posted by: Gomer144 | May 21, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, you're assuming that future non-human archeologists won't start assessing humanity by the first - and most easily accessible evidence of our existence that they encounter: the space junk orbiting our planet.

That's presuming they don't sift through the ring of rocky debris 250,00 miles out, when things got all cattywumpus between the US and the Chinese over - what was at the time - the Moon. No doubt they'll associate the pockmarked Earth with Moonchunks of Significant Size that plunked down and wiped everything out faster than Global Warming could.

A disgrace to humanity in it's own way, much as the Saurans' fight over what used to be the fifth planet in the Solar System 65 million years ago or so -- you know, the one that tossed that big piece of shrapnel into the Gulf of Mexico, bringing the Dinosaur Empire to it's end, but opening the door for the Rise of the Mammals.


[Note: This comment was *not* sponsored by the new Terminator movie, but I'm willing to discuss it.]

Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

How appropriate for an event held in Lotusland.
"Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are taking the mellow approach to suggestions that their planned Olympic torch looks like a marijuana cigarette."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "250,000 miles out"

There are others, but I can't see them all through the fingers I have over my eyes.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

RD, I'd hit my email even more often, but I keep forgetting my password.

Fortunately, I keep a box of Entemann's Coffee Cake covered donuts available for just such an emergency.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The conversation about sauce and Lomo Saltado got me thinking about it and I had to go out for a bike ride and came back for ingredients. Sticking to a traditional approach. Already made some homemade shoestring potatoes ... (nothing compares)

Rice is just about done and other than the garlic, and slicing a tomato and a couple of onions, we are about ready to rumble.

Anyone want to come by for lunch?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

r_t, I am *in*!

And please, don't spare the garlic on my account.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, bc, the Theropods wanted the fifth planet for a hunting preserve, what with all of the creatures large and small running around all over it. The Saurans, on the other hand wanted to plow it all under for a horsetail and palm plantation. Earth's mammals bided their time...

Posted by: Gomer144 | May 21, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Please fax any leftovers, russianthistle.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

They'll find traces of metal fans and such and hypothesize the existence of exotic sea-creatures, like tribolites and such wonders of eons yore.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 21, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

There are several original oil paintings of Station #7 around, slyness. They are coveted and have not often left the hands of artists, who trade such works around sometimes among other artists. I tried to get one but failed!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 21, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, *I* may already be a good example of a fossil left by humanity (such as it is/was) for future generations of archeologists. And I got news for ya: I'm not telling those people doodley. Make 'em work for it, I say.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Missed the crawl this month, although that's nothing new, but I had wanted to go. It's the first Friday of each month, and this month it was Saturday before I realized the first had been Friday. I have no idea how the 3rd-Friday-of-the-month crawl goes lately. It used to be big.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 21, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for lunch, Weed.

And remember, y'all, back in the 18Somethings Krakatoa is still erupting.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Darn right, IM. Thanks for the reminder.

Krakatoa: Day 2. Film at 11.

Also, Francisco Franco is still dead!

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

And it's a good thing!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I know that thing is gonna blow any day now. You mark my words. I'm giving it until mid or late August, at the outside.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I am vastly amused that Cheney objects to "phony moralizing" about Gitmo and torture. What we obviously need is some authentic moralizing, not that trashy, faux, fake, tinsely stuff. By god, we need some o' that down-home Wyoming "real" accidentally-shoot-'em-in-the-face moralizing.

Or perhaps none at all. Maybe he thinks we shouldn't have any morals at all. Gotta admit, it makes that whole "ethical" thing a whole lot simpler.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think it was

Joely Achensack, nah, was Joe Lee Rickenbach....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 21, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Joe Bob Auckinlek?

June Bug Auerbeck?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and gentleman, this was posted on MSNBC. I can't remotely begin to tell you my thoughts about the writing and editing. But ladies and gentlemen, this is the future of journalism with editors, and with citizen reports. Joel, you ouhgt to post this in the newsroom and send it to Poynter.

Welcome to the future:

"Body found buried in backyard, wife charged with murder

updated 8:15 p.m. ET, Wed., May 20, 2009
(MOBILE, Ala.) May 20 - Police say a body found in a Mobile backyard was there for three years. Police say it was his wife that buried him there. Police have charged 58 year old Sandra Hocutt in the murder of Daniel Hocutt. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey spent the day digging into their pasts to find out why this murder may have taken place. Police say it was Daniel Lee Hocutt's remains they were hauling out of his wife Sandra Hocutt's backyard. Investigators say she was the one who led them to the body that was buried there three years ago. Her roommate Fred Spitzer says Sandra wasn't acting like herself in the days leading up to this scene. Last three days, she'd just lay on the couch, hardly say anything. Must've been on her mind, said Spitzer. As investigators dug for clues, we dug for answers. It turns out Daniel was no stranger to police. His most recent mug shot from a harrassment charge in 2002. He'd also been charged in the past for attempted murder and was arrested multiple times for DUI. I knew Dan, he was all out crazy. I'd seen him come that close to killing people at service stations. You could go somewhere with him and never know if you were going to get back alive, said Spitzer. Spitzer says Sandra convinced him Daniel was running from the law all this time. He says Sandra was afraid of Daniel and what he would do to her. I know he fired bullets off by her head and all this kind of stuff. There's a place here where he ricochet a bullet by her. He had her scared to death, said Spitzer. District Attorney John Tyson, Jr. says right now, there is no evidence Sandra killed Daniel in self-defense. This is just a hypothetical scenario, if we were able to prove she was defending herself, charges might be dropped altogether, said Tyson. Police say no one ever filed a missing person's report on Daniel, not even family. Police say they were estranged."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the devil, here's a scary pic of its agent.
"Cheney savages Obama on ‘great danger’ of terrorists on U.S. soil"

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "withOUT editors." WithOUT, withOUT.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

That is just too too fabulous, 'mudge.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

And the thrilling MSNBC follow-up:

"Husband Shot, Buried; Wife Granted Bond on Murder Charge

updated 1 hour, 2 minutes ago

(MOBILE, Ala.) May 21 - The woman charged with murdering her husband after his remains were found buried behind a home was granted $50,000 bond by a judge in Mobile Thursday. Sandra Waters Hocutt, 58, is accused of killing Daniel Hocutt. Hocutt's body was buried for three years in the backyard of his home on Vaughn Drive North, police said. Police recovered Hocutt's remains Tuesday. Hocutt died from a gunshot wound to the torso, a preliminary autopsy revealed. Police have not yet released a motive for the murder."


What I want to know is how she murdered his remains.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

That's terrifying, Mudge. Also incomprehensible. Msnbc should be ashamed of itself.

I don't understand why it is news that Cheney is vehemently disagreeing with Obama's decisions regarding Guantanamo and torture. Wasn't Cheney one of the Bush administration's architects of both torture use and Guantanamo? Why is it news that he continues to believe these were good ideas? It seems to me that this might deserve a sentence, inserted in an Obama story: "In a speech to the [insert name] former Vice President Cheney disagreed with the President's policies and defended the former Administration's actions."

Seems like it would only be real news if Cheney decided Obama was right. Or if he came up with something totally new: say, eschewing torture and closing Guantanamo, fully funding a manned mission to Mars, and sending all the detainees and terrorist suspects there until we feel safe. Or dropping them in the mysterious volcanic vents in the deep ocean. That might be news.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm going to call today Ironic Thursday (or Fe's Day, for short).

Hopefully all of my credit cards' magnetic strips won't spontaneously scramble or degauss or something.


Posted by: -bc- | May 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Hm. Pretty soon I might not be able to tell the difference between newspapers and TV.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 21, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh... Lunch was wonderful... a friend came by and we discussed selling wine for two hours. Sirloin strips marinated in vinegar and cumin along with crushed red pepper flakes.

The homemade french fries, which I usually finesse with frozen were great.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I tried to fax to you, but I'm not quite sure about our baud rates.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh Weed!!! Now you've made her cry!

*faxing a hanky across international borders*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

bc, I know yer dear momma told you it ain't proper to de-gas in the Boodle...

Oh, wait...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Well I agree about the Dems fake moralism. Real moralism would entail jailing Cheney and Bush immediately.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 21, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

*so excited I can hardly stand it*

I'm going to the Apple Store down the street tomorrow afternoon. I just might get this puppy sooner than I thought. And with no more rabies shots, like the ones I shoulda took for the PC.

That last sentence should get me into a new career with MSNBC, right Mudge?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' Yoki the bunker's emergency shiraz*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

"PARIS -- British actress Lucy Gordon, who appeared in "Spider-Man 3," [as reporter Jennifer Dugan] was found dead in her Paris apartment after apparently committing suicide, French police said Thursday. She was 28."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Only if you bury the puppy in the back yard, ftb.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 21, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Joel, re Atlantis mission. Does this look like normal pre-landing communications pattern to you ? Why was the KU-Band antenna stowed so (seemingly) soon? Why are we getting a lunar mission briefing on nasa-TV 2 hours before astronauts scheduled sleeptime when after sleeptime would be more normal ? Why are the astronauts executing tasks from email uploaded procedures resulting in very cryptic and uninformative air to ground communications as far as the public is concerned ? Call me overly suspicious but my spider senses are tingling. None of this strikes me as typical pre-landing routine. Anyone else wondering about these things ?

Posted by: psi123 | May 21, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The temperature warmed up to the 30s-80s. The lilac smell is truly overbearing but kind of nice in its way.

Dear psi123, take a chill pill. Really what can you do about it if something is set to happen?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Shiraz... gone.

Heading to Green Papaya for happy hour, relax outside. talk. No typee.

Spicy green papaya salad.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 21, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Murdered ducks I did;
Plush, squeaky, fuzzy, and DEAD...
News at eleven.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 21, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Bad dog. Bad, bad dog.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 21, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Ducks were dead, shrieking;
I murdered their plush remains
C'est un difference...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 21, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

meteor-like dogs,
agents of evolution
next up--armoured ducks

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 21, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

psi123 -- the incessant rain of NASA press-release spam coming into my mailbox remains calm and placid. Nothing on the WaPo home page. Wait and see... unintelligibility surely is the norm for these sorts of communications -- it's when they're clear and easily intelligible that you know something has gone off the rails, because they have to speak outside the constraints of minimalist jargon.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh nos, Wilbrodog gone feral; out-of-control? Duck murder?

The water heater next door revealed itself to be leaking out the back door of the basement onto the lawn. Grabbing flashlight, I investigated. In the midst of this, friend calls w/news her father is likely going to die soon.

I wade into the basement, turn off water, attempt to locate breaker to kill power to it, but no guarantees. My voltmeter works but I'm not up for it. My flashlight is giving out. Call maintenance and get voicemail. Call tenant and get threats to turn water and power back on; etc.

I'm not stressed.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 21, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

After rebooting yet (*expletive*) again, I come to the Boodle, hat in hand, to ask for a wee bit of techie help.

I need to convert a JPG file into a required format of pixels (i.e., 250 x 944), suitable for filing with the Trademark Office. The client sent me two JPGs, each *not* in the required format, but said that I could convert them. Uh-huh. So, could any of my imaginary colleagues here instruct me in how to convert from one set of pixel parameters to another? Painlessly, perhaps?

Ever so grateful. I'll snack on some hors d'ouevres (which a friend of mine calls "horses ovaries") with Yoki while I wait. Whatcha got in the icebox, Yokes?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Your zen-like calm is admirable, Jumper.

ftb, A variety of freeware, shareware, and buy-ware software permit re-sizing pictures, usually with a menu item named something like 'size'.

Whether or not it should be easy to do, I can't see how it could possibly be your job to be your client's tech-person. Tell him that he needs to do it, to guarantee that the image is not distorted and that the final version is an acceptably accurate representation of the client's intended outcome.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

You are in particular luck today, ftb!

little spanikopita triangles;
cherry tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese and basil;
tiny potato cakes topped with smoked salmon and fresh dill;
parmesan cheese chunks dipped in honey and truffle oil

I've even got a nice bottle of Shiraz (thanks, Scotty! I needed that) so we good to have a chat and admire all things Mac.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Of course, it if it were me, I'd go straight to Graphic Converter (shareware on the Mac), pull down to Picture:Size:Scale, select the dimension units to be pixels, and set the dimensions by hand.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

IRFANVIEW, another popular freeware tool, will also do painless resizing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Oops. If you are using a mac IRVANVIEW is a non-starter.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Yep, you can do it with the Windows Paint accessory the same way. As long as the dimensions are proportionally correct and you're not doing too much expansion or compression, it OUGHT to look more-or-less OK, but it's definitely not an optimal solution.

Posted by: bobsewell | May 21, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I mean IRFANVIEW. But resizing is a very common graphics function so just about any image editor should handle that.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys. But I don't have my Mac yet. Will that IRFANVIEW product do the trick? I do have Corel photo software, but I've never done much with it.

Yoki, if only you lived closer. Sounds deeeeelish.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

IRFANVIEW, like, totally rocks for PC. You can download it here.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

The (dreaded Microsoft) Photo Editor lets you resize by pixels too - go to Image, Resize, change units to pixels. I've been using it since I couldn't get the software that came with my camera to load on my new PC, and it's ok. Seems to do basic stuff, which is all I'm capable of anyway.

Good luck with your Mac. I prefer them, but have been using PC's for years with no problems in particular (knocking wood, saying incantations).

Posted by: seasea1 | May 21, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

It's very straightforward to use. Just open the picture from under "file", hit ctrl-r ( or go to the resize/resample pull-down menu under "image") and you are there.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 21, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm. Thanks, RDP. I downloaded it and tried to change the pixel size to no avail. Every time I changed one of the numbers, the other number readjusted along with it.

This is turning into a real pain in the tushy. I'll get at it again on the morrow.

Turns out I probably won't get the Mac until later in June, but I am going over to the Apple Store tomorrow, primarily to drool all over what they've got there. I think I just might opt for the 24" screen. Apparently I can get some brackets so that the screen can be put on my wall. Oh, my...........

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I wish I did live closer. I wonder if any of the big Washington firms need a BD guru? Probably not this year, anyway.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

ftb, is there a box that says "Allow distortion" or something similar? That would let you change the height and width to what you want...although it might end up looking funny...My knowledge about this has now been exhausted.

Posted by: seasea1 | May 21, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey, gang, has anybody seen that bottle of shiraz I had in my locker in the bunker? It was kind of a special bottle--my sainted mother gave it to me on her deathbed. "Here, Mudge," she says, "save this until my 100th birthday and then open it up and have a drink on me."

slyness, you seen it? I could sworn it was here a few days ago.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 21, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh my!

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

firsttimeblogger, I can't help you with the pixie dust problem but I do have a billing suggestion. Explain to your client that you're already racking up some billable hours (or extras in his flat fee) for something he or she probably can easily do. You could even suggest that you might incur consultant fees (who is Boodle? what is She that all the techies commend her?) Then ask whether he or she would like you to keep trying, or would prefer to fool with it and send you the appropriately pixilated attachment for submission.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I think what you want is for it to change both dimensions together -- otherwise, you would weirdly distort the image. Image resizing is a matter of picking which pixels to keep when shrinking the image, or how to resample a single pixel into multiple pixels when expanding it. I could do a non-uniform expansion in IDL, but that's specialized data-manipulation software -- not for the faint of heart. The image-dimensions that you are supposed to match are surely a maximum dimension. If you really must meet their standard exactly, the use your photo-editing software to resize the image so that it fits inside the target dimensions; then create a new image with exactly the dimensions that you are aiming for; then copy your resized picture and paste it into the new picture. Voilá! You now have extra whitespace to pad whichever dimension was undersized.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh for heavens sake, Mudge. Look under your gym bag. It's still in that lovely flowered bag from Total Wine.

The Shiraz Scotty sent Yoki was a nice recent Virginia vintage. They wouldn't take your sainted wine.

Posted by: slyness | May 21, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

SciTim is quite right. In some programs there is a little button that you can press that says something like "lock aspect ratio" so that everything changes in proportion. However, I expect if the agency wants a high-res picture, and you start with a jpeg, you are going to get dimensions right, but not resolution.

If it were me (or Ivansmon, clearly) I'd go back to the client and say, "this picture is incorrect for the following reasons... please send me one to spec" and be done with it. Though, of course, Ivansmom is more diplomatic than I am.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure it is diplomatic to go through the pocketbook, Yoki, but it often catches a client's attention as little else can.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom and Yoki, I've already played that card with the client. Today I replied to this latest email making a strong suggestion that he have his webmaster call me or at least email me with instructions for how to fix the pixel situation.

I really don't have technology phobias, but I just don't want to have to do this. Which is also why I'm getting a Mac. Dang!

Yoki, your hors d'oeuvres were simply scrumptious (you're such a good cook, or should I say CHEF). Julia Child would be ever so proud. BTW, apparently Meryl Streep is playing Julia in a new film. Don't know when it's coming out, but I think Streep is going to be fabulous in that role. It'll be fun to see. Of course my favorite film about food is Babette's Feast (Babettes Gæstebud). I've got the book by Isak Dinesen in Danish. It's a bit of a slog through, because it's old Danish and her writing style is a bit heavy, but having seen the film any number of times, it makes it easier to read in another language.

And for all our tersichoriphiles in Boodledom, in about 10 minutes we get to slog through the auditions for SYTYCD for the new season. My knees are wrapped and ready to be envious, when appropriate.

Toodley doodley boodley until tomorrow.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC -- TERPSICHORIPHILES for goodness sakes!

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 21, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

terpsichoriphiles - isn't that something about people afraid of Maryland sports teams?

I should have known, firsttimeblogger, you're way ahead of us. If Client doesn't respond to that, charge him seriously! Maybe he'll pay attention next time.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I finished grading my exams and turned everything in. The curse of law school: one semester of classes, grade based on One Big Test. I decided my final was too hard. However, by slightly adjusting my grading expectations, I had several As, a good handful of Bs, some Cs, and a few D+s. Nobody failed, thank goodness.

The highest score would have been an A had I not adjusted my expectations, without a doubt. Also, that student remembered and wrote down "A Grand Idea" and mentioned that, since I recommended it, she plans to read it now that she has a little more time - or at least after studying for that pesky bar exam. I think she'll go far.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm about to flee to rehearsal, but I offer this for the Boodle editors. A local restaurant reviewer explained, about a $42 tapas dish, "Saffron is among the most expensive herbs in the world and justifies the high price of the rice dish." I take issue, primarily, with the use of the word "justifies". "Explains", perhaps - but I don't think anything justifies paying $42 for what is essentially an appetizer in a city where that will get you an excellent steak, with wine and dessert.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 21, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

You would have to use a bucket of saffron to dominate the pricing structure.

Plus, saffron is a spice, not an herb.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I echo everyone's suggestion to HAVE THE CLIENT DO IT RIGHT HIZZOWNSELF!!! No one to blame in that case but him.

And 'Mudge, really now. I know you hide THAT Shiraz in that little alcove behind the Kincaide...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 21, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I was just going to say that, ScienceTim, but then started thinking deeply about what makes the thing an herb or a spice. And now I'm all confused.

It seems to me that spices come from the hard parts of a plant; seeds, bark, roots... and herbs from the soft bits (leaves, stems (that one is a bit ambiguous, of course); perhaps saffron really is a herb, since it is the stigma of the crocus, and therefore a soft bit.

See? Difficult. This is the sort of thing with which I can occupy my small mind.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

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

Hello, friends. Just getting here. Boy, has it been busy today, and night is looking like day. The g-girl is still here, and insisting on taking a bath. I told her to give me a minute. Perhaps in that minute, mom will be here.

Ivansmom and Jumper, I totally agree with your comments concerning Cheney. I cut my television off because I didn't want to look at Cheney, much less listen to him(well in my case, not possible, but you get my meaning). Why would seemingly intelligent men try to justify torture? We know torture happens, but we also know it's not right. And to try to convince the American people that it is, makes me think that we're all considered fools by the folks trying to convince us that it is otherwise. Doesn't Cheney have something he can do at home that doesn't require him talking? I think he thinks he's still Vice President or President, and that we care what he thinks. Obviously the media still gets a thrill from Cheney, they wait with baited breath for his every word, as if he's a god.

We're in the tub, and Mom hasn't arrived. Oh, well, time marches forward, and on that note, it is bedtime for moi. Have a good evening, folks. I can hardly keep up with the news these days, and trying to read the Achenblog has almost become impossible. School will be out soon, so maybe things will slow down.

Love the kit, JA. After seeing that on the news, I'm afraid my dad thinks they've found the missing link. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is in order.

I hope all is well with all my friends here. And as always, prayers for everyone. Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 21, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Good night Cassandra. Always so glad to see your comments. You leave me in your intellectual dust, of course, but I'm learning to live with that.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

...under my gym bag?...

...oh. Yeah. There it is.


Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 21, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Shirazed, I would say.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 21, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that herbs come from the structural parts of plants: stems and leaves; whereas spices come from the reproductive parts: stamens and seed. But then, that leaves cinnamon, which is a spice and is the bark of the plant. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 21, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

That's what I mean. So confusing. But bark is clearly spice.

Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

"This changes everything. "The Link" on History." The evil is coming through my television.

Spent a fun evening at work. Our little community non-profit received a grant to open a retail shop as a social enterprise/workforce development project. We combined that with some summer youth employment $s (supplied courtesy of the administration's stimulus package)and we now have a team of 5 teen entrepreneurs doing real market research/business planning. My secret goal is that they kick some serious butt with regard to how people perceive them. The problem with living in such a small town is that these 17-19 year olds are still living down things they did in early elementary school. Something I try to share with the dott when she complains about being an Army brat.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 21, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Looks like I'm a day late and a fossil short -- all I'm seeing on Google is an image celebrating Mary Cassatt's birthday. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)


Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 21, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 21, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 21, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

just stopping by to say "hey"

dreamer, good to see you. nice to have more boodlers on the lobster shift.

i never thought about the difference between herbs and spices until just now. ya learn something new every day.

Posted by: LALurker | May 22, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

oh, and i wonder what would happen if one of the european countries indicts cheney for war crimes. i mean, this is just nuts.

Posted by: LALurker | May 22, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

(i mean cheney is nuts.)

Posted by: LALurker | May 22, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Up way too early this am.But still got a few more hours of work. Back to west by god later today after some much needed sleep.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 22, 2009 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Boodle. I've put the coffee on, and will hang out in the ready room, reading this March, 2001 issue of Aviation Maintenance I found under the old sofa. I think bc had it last.

Fruit, yogurt and granola is on the bill of fare this morning, and the seed bread will be out of the oven soon.

Posted by: Yoki | May 22, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

It's after 6. Where is everybody?

I've been up all night, and a few more hours should do it.

I've had too much iced-tea (difficult to believe, I know) and am going to make a short trip out to the WaWa for some iced latte.

I'll bring back plenty of coffee selections for everyone, as well as hot breakfast sandwiches (pork roll, bacon and egg, egg and cheese, etc.) on fresh bagels (bakers were up all night too). The fresh fruit salad will be on the left.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 22, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Between Yoki and I, we've got it covered. Your choice of Right or Left Coast breakfast.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 22, 2009 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Too tired to remember whether it's "Yoki and I" or "Yoki and me." SCC if necessary.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 22, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

It is definitely me. I mean you. Always so nice to see you on the Boodle, though working all night is not the desirable path to this door!

Posted by: Yoki | May 22, 2009 6:30 AM | Report abuse


Working all night is not the desirable paths to many doors. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | May 22, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

I always get disappointed when there is a WaPo article on the Smithsonian and it doesn't have Joel's byline.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 6:51 AM | Report abuse

jkt, if we could just hack into the WP's systems, we could fix that.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

G'morning, all! I'll take both Left and Right Coast breakfasts, just a little of each. So kind of Yoki and dbG to do breakfast this morning!

Mudge, when is that anniversary you were speaking of last night? We will want to have the bunker spiffy and shipshape (;-)) for the occasion. With all the great cooks around here (not me!), you'll have to give us plenty of notice to have appropriate comestibles. I'll do the party planning, that I can handle, plus I'll contribute cheese straws.

Busy day ahead, then Mr. T and I head up the mountain for the weekend. I'll be in and out, so you people behave yourselves.

Hey Cassandra! I hope you slept well.

Posted by: slyness | May 22, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra!!! Don't Boodle in the tub!!!! *L*

On a much more serious note, I came across this article and am about as exercised as I ever get:,0,242705.story

Where are the medical licensing boards, the state health departments, even the district attorneys with criminal charges???? I have to deal with somewhat less toxic "junk science" at work, but at least that claptrap isn't actively harming people!!!

I don't see how the father-son pair are profiting from this crap, apart from appearance fees and such, but it really makes my blood boil to see such a travesty.

*SIGH-and-really-trying-to-remember-it's-a-long-weekend-TGIF Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Some rental property toilet cleaning and bed making to do this morning then the long weekend can start-a very long weekend of cleaning Chez Frostbitten. Serious, get rid of stuff, live simpler and pass things on to be used again style cleaning is what's needed here.

Teen bears trying to find their place in the world, in the suburbs-

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Morning everyone!

firsttimeblogger - Regarding IRFANVIEW. There is a checkbox in the lower left of the "resize/resample" page that needs to be unchecked if you are going to alter the proportions of the image.

You can also try cropping the image to the desired dimensions. Again, IRFANVIEW is pretty simple to use for this. I mean *I* can figger it out.

It is a quiet morning around here. Many people already heading out for the weekend.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

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