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Science Fiction, Lacrosse and Whatnot

What I'm reading:

David Montgomery has a piece on Sigma, a society of science fiction writers who are advising the Department of Homeland Security on how to do time travel so that police can go back into the past and stop terrorist plots before they're even hatched. And stuff like that. Ray-guns. Warp drive. I am pretty sure Jerry Pournelle helped dream up Reagan's Star Wars plan. (I interviewed some of these guys a year ago for a story that never quite came to fruition.) Check out in particular the reference to Reiter's (run by a friend of your blogger):

'At Reiter's, a place for science browsers since 1936, the dystopian future includes the possible demise of another struggling independent shop. It's getting hard to pay the rent, said owner Barbara Nelson. On the shelves was at least one factual hard-science text edited by one of the fiction writers on the panel. The tome, "Observatories in Earth Orbit and Beyond," was marked down to $130 from $179. The same unsold copy had been here a year ago.'

Folks, support your local bookstore.


I highly recommend John McPhee's lacrosse article [registration required] in the latest New Yorker, and not simply because he once gave me a bike helmet. It's classic McPhee in that the protagonist is not any particular lacrosse player but the English language itself, and the way college scouts use code phrases to connote certain athletic strengths and weaknesses.


Space shuttle return delayed. They could land in California but it costs $1.8 million to haul the shuttle back to Florida for the next launch. If I were one of the astronauts I'd say: We're stuck up here in space so you can save how much??? That's what the government spends just on fake flowers in the GM executive suite (a bailout provision says the real flowers must go).

. --

I have a new bio on my "personality page." Gosh, I hope no one thinks it's weird. [Update: I'm told I have to put some real biographical details in the bio. Sigh. No one appreciates LITERATURE anymore.]


So that McPhee thing requires a subscription, I'm told. Harumph. Let me ask my contacts if there's some way I can get a link to it without paying any money.

Meanwhile, here's a New Yorker piece by Jeff Toobin on John Roberts that is quite well done and illuminating. Basically it says that Roberts is Cheney disguised as a nice guy.


[more to come]

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 22, 2009; 7:39 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Google Does Evil
Next: Yet Another Hubble Story!


I found your bio deeply moving and personally inspirational. Truer words have ne'er been written.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 22, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I think there's really no future in space observatories. A fad.

It sounds like that "science fiction writers" panel might have been slightly skewed by the fact that the author of the particular book you cite was the director of a now-defunct space observatory, the one that provided me with the data for my dissertation and with a spouse.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 22, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Jerry Pournelle worked on a skunkworks project that determined that ICBMs needed very small computers to hit targets with the precision necessary to destroy hardened facilities. These microprocessors became the heart of the computer revolution and the rest is internet history.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

For the benefit of watch-dogs, I feel I should note that I am working form home, today, and taking leave time for half the day. Today, at least, I have an excuse and permission for inefficiency.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 22, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

FROM home. Working "from" home.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 22, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I love your bio, not too different from what I would write about myself - just excluding the parts about being a great writer and thinker - but the loner part - I am right there with you.

Your picture next to the bio is a good compliment for the deranged loner - looking a tad hostile in the picture.

Could NASA borrow some of DHS (I am sure well spent) money being used to study time travel - to bring the shuttle home.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 22, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

For which you owe that author a debt of gratitude, SciTim. For SciSpouse would seem to be the one tangible beneficial result of said endeavor.

And more than registration is required for the New Yorker article. A subscription is also necessary. How much do Kindle rates go for.

I haven't had time to read the New Yorker cover to cover since I quit taking the bus to work. In 1986.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

That bio is perfect! It sure has heck would get me to read your stuff if I didn't already.

(But...but...what are you implying about the dog farm?)

I am alarmed to hear that Reiter's is in danger. That place is an institution among the local technocrats. Seriously, I have spent dozens of hours and hundreds of your tax dollars (if only via federal contracts) in that fine store.

I guess bookstores are kinda like newspapers in that they possess intangible benefits that cannot be successfully duplicated online. This is especially true when you are seeking technical books.

The ability to leisurely browse through something like "Electrodynamics of Particles and Plasmas" is essential to make sure that what is being presented is really what you need. And sometimes the best book for your purposes is the one shelved *next* to the one you thought you wanted.

Further, Reiter's has boffo customer service. And the place smells good. You know, all bookish.

Plus, a trip to Reiter's means that you have an excuse to go get lunch. And I am convinced that the waitstaff at many of those fine K street eateries treat you with just a tad bit more respect if they see you proudly carrying a bag of books from Reiter's.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

'Observatories in Earth Orbit and Beyond' was good but I preferred 'Evolutionary Processes in Interacting Binary Stars'. And neither is a 'Captured By Aliens'.

I'll have to see what 'Death of A Neutron Star' is going for on Alibris.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Forget hundreds af dollars, think thousands over the years. And a scary fraction of these books are from either Artech House or Wiley.

But it has been a while since I went to Reiter's. Sounds like I clearly need a road trip soon.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

It's really tough being a bookstore these days. Much harder than being a newspaper, even.

Sorry about the McPhee link being hard. I do have a subscription and I read it in (can I admit this?) the print edition. Maybe I should just type it all in by hand -- surely McPhee and Remnick wouldn't mind.

The McPhee piece talks about the code phrases that scouts use to describe players. For example: "black hole." That's a player who never passes. "Chucker." That's a player who shoots constantly.


no skills, runs away
slow overaggressive dumb
flashy stick quick burst
looks better than he is
looks ugly, gets job done
avg athlete lost on field
not horrible

Posted by: joelache | May 22, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

1.8 Million seems a little steep. Do they have to ship it by air? Isn't ground shipping sufficient? Heck, me an a few buds could probably hook up a couple of pick-up trucks and haul that puppy at a fraction of the cost.

Them wing thingies do come off, right?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I was passing through Culpeper yesterday and the second floor that was Ace Books is now empty. So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Boy, RDP, it's a good thing I back-Boodled to pick up your hint for my (let us hope) soon to be pixelation nirvana. I'll try that out to see if it works (well, *of course* it works, 'cause RDP said so! Pay attention, ftb!).

So, was I the *only* one who watched SYTYCD last night? Of the good auditions, some were truly breathtakingly spectacular, especially the guy at the end. Holy cow! Even my wretched knees rejoiced.

And, now, I shall continue to sip my ginger-orange tea and get on with the day. Will check back in at appropriate (and inappropriate) moments.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 22, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Congress... what a trip. These guys are making the laws of the country?

Clip is from Rachel Maddow Show ... Cocktail moment segment w/ tape of Republicans demanding that the entire text of a bill be read aloud, so the Dems hire a speed reader to act as clerk.

I just like listening to Maddow and Kent Jones laughing.

Their other heavy news is that Archie is getting married this year.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, must repost from previous Boodle...

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 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for those kind words FTB!

Joel, I'm a little uncomfortable with the comparison of Roberts to Cheney. I have a hard time seeing Cheney as anything but destructive, but Roberts could be part of a creative process.

Clearly, Roberts is very ideologically driven, as that excellent article points out, and has a generous interpretation of executive power. But Roberts is, primarily, an intellectual who engages his opponents in honest debate.

Further, I see Roberts as being part of a useful process of intellectual exploration. If Obama succeeds in appointing a similarly gifted thinker who can meet Roberts on his own terms, I think the country as a whole will benefit.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

Why don't they just fax the darn thing back to Canaveral, like we on the Boodle do? Sheesh.

My youngest dottir works in the same building as the Reiter's on K Street. Good Thai restaurant next door, too.

And sad news: Lois Lane #3 (chronologically) has died. RIP.

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

May 22, 1878: Irish-American inventor John Holland, the “father of the submarine,” launches his first submarine prototype, Holland No. 1, at Patterson, N.J. She is only 14 1/2 feet long.
1908: Glenn Curtiss, founder of the Curtiss aircraft manufacturing company, makes his first airplane flight aboard a plane he built himself, in Hammondsport, N.Y. Curtiss, who had no previous flight experience of any kind, flew more than 1,000 feet.
Semper Fly: 1912: 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham becomes the Marine Corps’ first aviator when he is assigned to attend flight school at the Burgess Company, Marblehead, Mass. He becomes Naval Aviator No. 5. Burgess was an early airplane manufacturer and the first licensed builder of airplanes in the United States.

Hey, thanks for the Taylor's ham breakfast, slyness. One of my favs.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The trickiest part of time travel would be figuring out how to process the vouchers.

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

...and do you get Frequent Flyer Miles?

FYI, Krakatoa was still erupting back in 18whenever.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Yes, and support Reiters. Not a bad idea at all.

As a techie, I can tell you that, for the past 30 years, if you want to find a book on an interest area, that's the place to go.

I echo Joel's suggestion!

There are few places where you can really go and find books that deserve to be purchased and hold them in your hands a read.

I am sure you can go to Reiters and find a book on LISP or JCL... still. Or, Ruby on Rails and Python.

What I remember most about the store--the original store on Penn Ave--was the joy of just taking a an hour or two and pouring over books that were in areas of which I had no knowledge and just reading (slowly... I have Dyslexia) ... technical explanations from knowing authors and getting a sense of something way beyond my useful needs.

I used to have about 20 cases of books. Now I have one. I use technical books like most people use google and web references... I once and a while would read a book from front to back, but, I most likely would read books backwards until I hit stuff that I knew about a topic and then chuck it on the shelf.

You know, I am troubled by the fact that I am stuck without my books. The web, as a economic and accurate tool for discerning information is debatable. With a tech book, you knew that there was only the purpose of conveying knowledge in a useful manner for which someone got paid to produce. With the web, you have click advertising and it takes so long to wade through the BS and terrible explanations.

Support Reiters for us all and independent bookstores everywhere.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

How long has McPhee been a staff writer for The New Yorker? And you know him, Joel?

As of last night, thanks to the Web, I have learned that the Love kids are scattered: New Mexico, Laramie, Rock Springs, Bethlehem, Penn. Now, to be able to talk to "the right one" for a while, one who many remember J. David's life or tales, especially from 1933, the year J. David graduated from the University of Wyoming.

I see from the list of books McPhee has written, that he ranges wide as far as topics--including the ransom of Russian art. McPhee must be a fascinating, incredible fellow--with an outsized sense of curiosity.

Posted by: laloomis | May 22, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

RD, the big question I have is are upgrades worth it, when time traveling. One may assume that it doeesn't take any time, but it might take overnight. You don't know. One might be able to get a workout in. OR, maybe an inflight meal... just your luck, it's liver.

Are there safety devices?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

ftb, you're not alone. I also watched SYTYCD last night, though with plenty of channel-flipping to avoid the bad auditions and the ensuing judge-induced humiliation. I mostly avoided the woman with the spine abnormality, too -- I'm impressed with her, but I get tired of reality shows telling me how inspired I should be. Yes, some really good dancers. I'll be surprised if either of those last two aren't in the top 20. And I've got my fingers crossed for the standard ballroom couple they sent straight to Vegas, though I wish they'd actually shown their audition. The only ballroom people they've ever had in the top 20 have been latin specialists. It's time to show the world what a good waltz looks like.

Posted by: -bia- | May 22, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I really didn't want to know that about John Roberts. Must you journalist folks destroy every one of our comforting illusions?

Posted by: -bia- | May 22, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

yello... sorry to hear about the Ace books in Culpeper. The last time we were in there we found out it had been sold. Too bad... it was a great bookshop.

With the advent of and similar sites for searching used-book sites, I'm amazed any used-book store would close. Whenever we see a book we're interested in, we first go to to see if we can find a used version nice and cheap. My son saved hundreds on his books last year in school using

I'm working today to make up for an extra day I took off last week. I'm tellin' ya... this working 5 days a week is for the birds!

Speaking of birds... I saw a bluebird this morning on the grounds here at work. They keep special boxes to make them happy here. I don't think I've seen one since I was a kid. Beautiful.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 22, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Ah, I just caught up on the boodle. RD, I'll take your interpretation, thanks.

Posted by: -bia- | May 22, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Jerry Pournelle has a web site:

Posted by: wiredog | May 22, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

TBG, depending on the area of interest, selling used books can be very risky. You really have to know your books and those who are using them... and what the publishers and authors are up to.

Acquisition and storage will use resources that are expensive. Then there is the competition factor.

After watching that business for several years, I would rather sell pickles.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Bia, I LOVE a good waltz. I will take this opportunity to say that I have been led well, exactly once. Being led by a masterful dancer is like flying.

I used to dance in the basement of St. Michael's in Silver Spring. Ceili dancing is the Irish equivalent of a mash-up of ballroom and square-dancing. Between the set dancings and reels (Lancers, Humors of Brandon, The Rights of Man, Connemara Reel, Skibbereen Reel) are the waltzes:

The Cotillion Waltz
Planxty Fanny Power

then, a good polka with a nod to the Polish among us.

Here is Fanny Power (Poer, in some spellings)

Good times!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 22, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse


1455 – The Wars of the Roses erupts into bloom at the First Battle of St Albans when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York (white rose), defeats and captures King Henry VI of England (red rose). While technically a battle, the event was much more like a large, disorganized angry discussion; only about 50 were killed. (The name “War of the Roses” appears to have been coined in 1829 by novelist Sir Walter Scott of Ivanhoe fame, borrowing a line out of Shakespeare. The Houses of York and Lancaster were therefore unaware of the name of their conflict.)
1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason. Please supply your own Dick Cheney joke here: ___________
1819 – The SS Savannah leaves port at Savannah, Georgia, United States, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship arrived at Liverpool, England on June 20.
1826 – HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage, carrying Charles Darwin.
1840 – The transporting of British convicts to the New South Wales colony is abolished.
One for Scotty: 1942 – World War II: Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps as a flight instructor.
And one for Brag (take cover, amigo): 1960 – An earthquake measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, now known as the Great Chilean Earthquake, hits southern Chile. It is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
1964 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an "end to poverty and racial injustice" in America.
1990 – Microsoft releases the Windows 3.0 operating system.
1992 – After 30 years, 66-year-old Johnny Carson hosts The Tonight Show for the last time.
1997 – Kelly Flinn, US Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepts a general discharge in order to avoid a court martial. There were a handful of charges, all basically pertaining to a charge of adultery for have an affair with a married soccer coach. The incident became a national scandal with many supporters on both sides.
2002 – A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
2008 – The Late-May 2008 tornado outbreak sequence unleashes 235 tornadoes, including an EF4 and an EF5 tornado, between 22 May and 31 May 2008. The tornadoes struck 19 states and one Canadian province.

Happy birthday, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, biographer of Sherlock Holmes; Sir Laurence Olivier (“Is it Safe?”); novelist John Barth; and Harvey Milk. (Somebody already mentioned Mary Cassatt.)

1967 – Langston Hughes (b. 1902)
1972 – the great Miss Marple, Margaret Rutherford (b. 1892)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I like pickles.

And I haven't danced in over 20 years, but I used to really enjoy it. I used to love swing dancing. Also, many years ago I could do a wicked Manhattan Hustle.

But of this we shall no more speak.

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

Mudge, I had that MS system. I also went through records lately, noting my
BITNET address AND
COMPUSERVE number address AND
another early ISP provider address local to MD. Who knew I would turn out to be so much a digichick (a nerd species variation).

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 22, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Hi, CP. Yep, I had Windows 3.0, too. I think my Internet provider way back then was Erol's TV. Remember them?

I'm trying to remember what Compuserve was back then. Perhaps I'm mentally blocking it out as some sort of trauma thing. Also confusing them with CompUSA store chain.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

views from space of UNESCO heritage sites, including Hawaii's volcanoes. I think I see SciTim waving from the top of his perch...§ionName=NewsEnvironment

Posted by: -jack- | May 22, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Exactly, bia. I felt very uncomfortable when the judges were interviewing the woman with the spine abnormality. I gotta tell ya, that she *still* danced much better than I ever could. But the judges were amazingly condescending to her, and I think the only reason why this particular audition hit the airwaves was for that.

I do love to see a beautifully and effortlessly danced waltz, as well. But I think my favorite of all the ballroom dances is the quick-step. When done well, it is a gas to watch. Really fun. But you sure do need stamina for that, as well as for the jive.

Traded emails with the client this morning, who finally got the message. The IT guy is away already for the holiday weekend, so we'll wait until next week. Not a problem.

Re: John McPhee -- I think he's a great writer. I remember being glued to a New Yorker article maybe 40 years ago, perhaps (maybe fewer years ago, but not by much) about the ice road to Alaska, through Whitehorse and Dawson (I think that's the name of it, but my Canuckistani friends will correct me, I hope). It was a long and rich article and I was simply rapt. As opposed to simply wrapped, eh Mudge? And then there's his book about Bill Bradley, who was the first politician I ever sent hard earned money to. I still admire Bill Bradley, even though he was a crappy campaigner.

Alas, gotta get some work done before I hit the Apple Store later (you knew, c'mon admit it, that I was gonna make a reference to Apple).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 22, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

ftb, you can be forgiven for any gratutious Apple references. My new stainless-steel MacBook is a thing of absolute elegance and beauty, never mind functionality (which is also superb). Sexy, even.

What EYE want to know is, will you be able to defer the purchase once you've seen what's on offer?

Posted by: Yoki | May 22, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

CompuServ was a timesharing business that went consumer internet access providing Email and Dialup way back when.

The company developed their own brand of ATM networking running on DEC equipment. Probably PDP-11's.

I know that many of the original CompuServ dialup services were through the TymShare services. I looked at a facility that they had while working with a company that did facility outsourcing and they had loads of extra space near Greenbelt.

I love raised floor AND PICKLES.

Of course, I needed just a "teeny tiny teeny"(1) amount of space for my business, as well. At the time, there was money to be made, but even then, their technology was ancient and over-priced.

Of course, most medium to larger businesses in large buildings in the DC area can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month, if they just knew better.

(1) Rachel Maddow's description of a small amount of anything.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

ftb, I will join you watching SYTYCD in the coming weeks. Last night I was toggling between "Ugly Betty" and the hockey game.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 22, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

CqP, that's it: flying. Whether the smooth soaring of the foxtrot or the whee! of the quickstep (yes, ftb, I'm definitely with you on that one). I'm happy to dance anything socially, and I love watching any dancing done well, but if I had to choose, I'd choose flight.

And yay, we get to go out dancing tomorrow night!

Posted by: -bia- | May 22, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I must stop... I am trying to get beyond memories of the number one challenge of early online computing....

overcoming the CRLF rules for file editing going from system to system.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Only time for a quick Boodle hello, then off to meet someone (ahem) for lunch.

As to the Kit - boy, look what Arthur C. Clake has wrought, eh?

Isn't the extra cost of landing the Shuttle in California have a lot to do with what they have do declare at Customs - i.e. the duty-free Romulan Ale and Andorran hard stuff, and Klingon Blood wine - is handled so much more easily in Florida?


Posted by: -bc- | May 22, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

As someone who frequently cuts and pastes into and out of Notepad, those issues are still with us.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes, kjt, notepad was all we had. One really hated to have to vi ... NT files.

BTW, my current dislike is the apostrophe issue with the web. Content management systems should solve that one.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. This Toobin fellow over at the New Yorker may be in need of an editor.
"In 2000, they adopted two children, who are both now eight years old."

Otherwise it is a very good portait of the Chief Justice you'll be stuck with at least for the next 35 years if he lives as long as justice Stevens.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Denizen, twins have the same affect on your health as smoking two packs a day.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Erol's TV and Prodigy. Surely there could be nothing better than that?

Posted by: nellie4 | May 22, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Howzabout "Adventure" on a thermal-paper terminal using an 8-baud modem to a mainframe, Nellie? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I played "Adventure" on a floppy disc on my first computer, an Apple clone called a "Pineapple."

Posted by: nellie4 | May 22, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

CRJE, Scotty?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

You had floppy disc? We had only tape cassette for our TRS-80.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually, there's no special reason to assume Toobin's children are twins, or even biologically related. Admittedly, it's unusual, but not out of the question. They may not even have done both adoptions at the same time, although both apparently in the year 2000. They may have been working on two separate independant adoptions, not knowing which would come through, and got lucky that both did.

Our fourth adoption, an 8-year-old Caucasian boy (the adoption that didn't work out), was coincidentally the same age as our second adoption, the second of the three Koreans, whom we'd adopted five years earlier. So for two years we had two kids who were the same age. The only thing they had in common was they were both crazy. (The boy much more so than the girl.)

But admittedly this is a pretty rare occurrence.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I see that Dreamer mentioned Mary Cassatt on the Google page this morning.

Yesterday at Google it was the artwork of the 12-year-old girl from San Antonio. The local paper had a followup about the prize money from Google and what the Cristin Engelberth's school district in the northeast part of town intends to do with it.

The Harris Middle School sixth-grader won the national Doodle 4 Google competition, scoring a $15,000 scholarship, a laptop and a $25,000 technology grant for her North East Independent School District campus. ...

She said the money the school receives as part of Christin's prize might be used to incorporate technology into art classes.

LL: McPhee wins my heart for writing painterly, his vocabulary, and many sparkling sidebars that add spicy zest to his storytelling. Off to reconnect momentarily with his tales of Wyoming stratigraphy.

Our local Borders is having a great sale. I've visited there three times this month. Don't know how Borders is coming by these titles--both hardback and paperback--if it's from their subsidiary Waldenbooks that's closing stores or from a middleman(men or people) who's got a lot of backstock.

There are the serious reads such as "Champlain's Dream" and "To See Every Bord on Earth" and "Planet Google" at $5.99. Also, at $3.99 a pop, paperbacks, specifically fiction, from those authors whose nonfiction I've enjoyed previously--Wright of "Looming Towers" fame, Jennifer Lee Carroll of "Speckled Monster" renown--summer adventures await in their paperback fiction about Panama and Wills Shakespeare, respectively, not to mention two handfuls of other lightweight reads.

Posted by: laloomis | May 22, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, Mudge, I now know why you have a well formed sense of humor and a well developed appreciation for a fine glass of wine.

Bravo to you and your equally wonderful half.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Gesundheit, Weed...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

When I learned of Compuserve it was an AOL alternative. Since AOL angered me, I figured they were the same. (AOL had a sort of pseudo-internet, a huge bulletin board with bells and whistles but no actual internet connection available, they said, because my hard drive was not big enough! Not true. In any case, I'm glad I passed on it. My neighbor has AOL STILL and I'd go over there to help him figure out his many, many crashes. Finally I just kept repeating "AOL? Well, THERE'S your problem!")

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 22, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, was that your terminal? ... gif above? That was the first piece of hardware that I had that an employer let me take home. The lesson was that it was just there to chain me to my work 24 x 7.

Now, I would rather whitewash a fence.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You had tapes for your TRS-80, Shriek? We couldn't afford that, so we just fed Scotch tape dispensers into a slot we cut in a shoe box.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 22, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

In my ongoing quest to keep this operation going by clicking on at least one or two ads every day, I ran across the the following (in the "Ads by Google" section at the bottom of the page), which I will probably buy:

Posted by: bobsewell | May 22, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I figured that was the question, Weed... No, I think it was an AT&T proprietary sort of "remote terminal."

Scotch tape dispensers, 'Mudge??? Luxury.

We had to hand-gum the tape ourselves and then wrap it around a stick.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Good day all....

JA...doesn't the dog count as biographical info? I'd say yes. Throw in a goldfish or two, maybe something along the lines of "as a young child, he wore shoes to school" and I think you're done. (On the other hand, some of the real details seem made up, don't they?)

I went into a book store needing a particular book (out of stock) but ended up dropping 100 clams anyway. How's that happen? On the upside, DCs school library will take any unwanted hardback books, and her teacher will take paperbacks. So our home can stop looking like we live in the library seen in "The Name of the Rose."

DC asked if Julie Verney tells lots of stories. I'm thinking "I don't remember any girls in her class named Julie." So I say, who's Julie? Answer: "Muh-THER (eyeroll), you know....(hands in the air like Max in How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Journey to the Center of the Earth? (another eyeroll followed by a big sigh). At least Thing2 was 12 before she thought I was an idiot.

Enjoy the holiday weekend all. Looks to be a beautiful one.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 22, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey LiT! I love your DC stories.

Mudge.. I think the point about the two adopted children being 8 years old is that it also says he adopted them in 2000. There may be a problem with the math there (counting on my fingers), but I admit I'm no math whiz.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the math-based tune cootie, TBG!

"One and one don't make two
One and one make one"


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he adopted them as little seeds, and grew them from there.

Posted by: bobsewell | May 22, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Been thinking about biographical info for JA:

As a child, he was a boy.

As an only child, his relationship with his brother was crucial to his upbringing.

JA has several aliases, including both "Paris's Dad" and "Hey You."

Posted by: LostInThought | May 22, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

LIT, I also go by Hey You, but I'll answer to Hey.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 22, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As a further part of my ongoing quest to keep the Post thriving, I'll mention that anyone who wishes to help support the Post without actually piling up newspaper in their home can donate to the Newspapers in Education program, which supplies newspapers & teaching materials to classrooms.

Posted by: bobsewell | May 22, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

As I have already established by a number of brief "speculative narratives," Cheney and Roberts are indeed, robots.

Just read Roberts' "french fry" decision and tell me the guy really has a soul. It was a dry, perfunctionary, cold ruling. Only a machine could think like that.



Posted by: jp1954 | May 22, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't asnyone born in the last half of 2000 still be 8 years old today? Say they were born Aug. 1? They'd turn 1 in Aug. 2001, 2 in Aug. 2002, 3 in Aug 2003, and turn 9 in Aug. 2009, right? So'd still be 8, no?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Joel just published this article about a space war!! (Well, a rift, anyway, in a nonblack hole sense.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think you're right mudge. I didn't think it through.
Adopting a pair of blond-haired infants got to be like winning the lottery for some parents.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think my disclaimer about not being a math whiz was a good move, no?

Posted by: -TBG- | May 22, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow... I sure hope Liberty doesn't accept any public student aid money...

Liberty University Shuts Down Campus Democratic Party Club
By Anita Kumar, Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 22, 2009; 11:52 AM

Liberty University will no longer recognize its campus Democratic Party club because its parent organization stands against the conservative Christian school's moral principles.

The club, which has about 30 members, will no longer be able to use Liberty's name, hold on-campus meetings or be eligible for student activities money.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 22, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I know how the Democratic Party club can get reinstated. It's simple: Just rename the group the "Democratic Party Gun Club."



Posted by: jp1954 | May 22, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

So much for liberty, eh?

Posted by: Moose13 | May 22, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Liberty University. Yeah right!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Alas, the afternoon is getting away from me. Looks like I'll be jammed in at the Apple Store over the weekend with all the others not going to the beach. Maybe on Sunday late morning, so I can do that and other errands and get home in time to watch the Red Wings-Blackhawks game (listening to the National Anthem before the crowd screams: "Play Puck!").

I'll still try for today later on, but work calls, which is the underlying foundation for paying for that Mac. Cain't have one 'thout t'other.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 22, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm... Sending humans out to an Sol-Earth Lagrange point to service the Webb Telescope.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, that's just plain wrong. But it's Liberty University. It's one of those 'you know where you are' situations. You wouldn't go to a pub and expect nobody to be drinking, and you wouldn't go to a Greek restaurant expecting Latin music.

But I do wonder if the campus Republcian party members see any writing on the wall concerning their relationship with the school.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 22, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the Democratic Party Club has to go back to their original name, the Liberty University Socialist Temperance Society (LUSTS).

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Besides, Liberty is for the liberal wusses that can't take the disciplinary rigor of Bob Jones University.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

How about "Democrats for Jesus." Just try kicking them out.


Posted by: jp1954 | May 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, I have no objection to the GOP's resolution demanding that the Dems change their party name to Democrat [sic] Socialist Party... as long as the GOP changes its name to the Conservative Asshat Party.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I like Conservative Republican Asshat Party. The anagram spells out better.

Posted by: jp1954 | May 22, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Excellent point, Mr. Cow Person. Mr. Chairman, I request the amendment to my motion be accepted by unanimous consent.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Acronym, not anagram. But yes.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

This is actually not so far fetched. When the Reform Party (far far right) merged with the older Conservative Party (right-ish) a couple of years back in Canada, one of their quite serious proposals for a new name was the Conservative Reform Alliance Party. We disabused them of the idea with no difficulty at all.

Posted by: Yoki | May 22, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Hallo boodle! So energized was I by cleaning toilets and making beds in the rental property I headed down to the fire hall to plant marigolds and salvia in the flower bed. It's one of those two tiered round monstrosities that just beg to be replaced with something more natural. However, it would take years for me to accumulate the social capital necessary to suggest its demolition and reversion to more natural plantings-so the yellow marigolds and red salvia soldier on though not planted in rows as long as I pilot the trowel. We are making headway with the inclusion of some perennials-bluebells are flowering, though they look a bit lonely planted at the four compass points instead of a friendly little clump. The tall garden phlox should put on quite a display next month, and I just may sneak in some sunflowers to shade the hostas. I want to scream "Hey, pasty northern people-I don't care how short summer is here, these are not sun lovers" as several would have nearly blue leaves if they weren't bleached almost to death in July and August.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Back when the Progressive-Conservative (don't ask) and Reform-Alliance parties merged they had a floor vote on a name for the party. The "Conservative Reform Alliance Party" name won the vote but unfortunately someone whispered the acronym in the Chairman's ear before he registered the vote. What a great missed opportunity. They chose the dull "Conservative Party of Canada" instead.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Eh Yoki, great minds and all that...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

High five, shriek!

Posted by: Yoki | May 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Marigolds I understand, Frosty, but saliva? Couldn't you just water them?

Oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Watch it Mudge, we'll soon be talking about clematis and peonies envy.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh Frosti, some day, we will wave our wands and the marching rows of begonias, salvias, marigolds, vinca, impatiens....and your whatnots and whathaves.

Golden rule: no bad plants.

Corollary: no bad planters, but those not converted to the fractal-whimsy pleasures of unpatterned patterns.

Grades uploaded. One complaint deflected to next month. And Frosti, a feast of pass-along shade plants now in:

lamimum (frosted leaves, purpley-pinkie blooms)
Krossa regale hostas

I also dug and potted some Miracle of Peru /Four O' clocks. This winter was so warm they overwintered in the manner of lucky Dahlias.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 22, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

You say
KLEM a tis (the special people); I say
kle MAT is (blessed ordinary).

You say
PEE ann ee; I say

pee OWN ee (pardon my my Western-ness).

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 22, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the true delight of gardening in your area CqP, the plant that wasn't supposed to overwinter but does. No such surprises here I'm afraid.

I am determined to prune the lilac bramble this year. The former hedge is creeping toward the south so the flowers are best viewed from the river. That's fair enough for my neighbor on the other side, but I don't get to see much but a tangle of branches too thick even for leaves.

Lamium is one of our first plants to perk up in spring. I've tried to guide it into forming a winding "river" through the shade garden. We'll see.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 22, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

This is funny:

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes it is, 'Mudge!! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I guess the lesson here is: Don't play AC/DC at anger management classes.


Posted by: jp1954 | May 22, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't think he had his seat belt on, either.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure there are Boodlers galore with opinions on this topic...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm slip-slidin' outa here, got a sirloin steak, fresh-picked white corn and a big gin-and-tionic with my name on them awaiting for me. For those departing the Boodle, have a good holiday weekend. (Sorry, Canucks. We get Monday off.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 22, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

You had Scotch tape dispensers and a cardboard box, mudge?

All we had was 30 year old paper tape and a PDP-11.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 22, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, Mudge! The boy ain't right in the head, but still awesome.

Posted by: bobsewell | May 22, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Actually, "Highway to Hell" might have been a far more appropriate accompaniment, Bob S...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Actually another Hubble story.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 22, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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