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Random notes on a sunny Monday afternoon in DC:

This just in: Someone named Lucas Glover is the national champion of golf. Another in a long line of U.S. Open champions who inspire the immediate reaction of, "Who????" There is something wrong with a tournament that doesn't have the decency to let Phil Mickelson win for once. Surely they could have switched Glover's balls to ones that don't fly as far. Surely they could have operated the cup by remote control so that it spits out putts that seemingly land right in the center.

Tiger woulda won but he had to play two days in a monsoon. Luck of the draw.


Quote of the day, from an Iranian official: "Our preliminary follow-up shows that there hasn't been any major fraud. In fact, maybe it's better to say there has been no fraud at all."

Very persuasive!


Stunning story on Scientology's leader in the St. Pete Times [via Memeorandum]. Ain't enough lawyers on the planet to bury that story.


Media relations dept.:

I noticed recently that more and more flaks are referring me to websites where allegedly I will find all my answers. But I would rather ask a live human being. This may be partially due to laziness on my part -- I don't want to have to navigate the site, which, however nicely designed, may not be as transparent to the users as to the webmaster. Just because it's a website doesn't make it as helpful as a person with a pulse. Websites tend to be crammed with public relations boilerplate. And that stuff rarely tells you anything as pithily as a person can. The whole point of interviewing a live human being is that you can ask the hard question right away, and discuss matters in the vernacular rather than in officialese.

So, uh, no, I don't want to look at your website.

[more to come]

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 22, 2009; 12:39 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Whole World Is Watching
Next: On the Far Side of the Moon


But it's got pictures and bright colors and everything!

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 22, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I consider this possibility every few years - eventually we'll have websites with all of the possible information in the universe, and we won't need the universe anymore.

Or people, for that matter.

Isn't the whole point of the Internet to put everyone and everything out of a job?

Some would argue that the first thing to go is/was reality. (Please feel free to make pithy statements about the Iranian elections here. I would, but I'm too pithed off about it.)


Posted by: -bc- | June 22, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

New kit?! But everyone was busy frolicking on the beach and taking bets on whether or not mudge would be lost at sea!

Posted by: Southwester | June 22, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I've got 'mudge we're heading back.

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@Southwester: I kinda think 'Mudge wouldn't mind being "Lost," yanno...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 22, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

After an amazing comeback Phil Mickelson falls short at Bethpage. Amazing photos -

Posted by: InformationDesk | June 22, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Good catch, Yoki! Is Mudge okay? (I hope you got the Speedo back on him!)

I read the Scientology story. Whoa. Joel's right, all the lawyers in the nation can't suppress this one. Another false prophet's evil is exposed.

Posted by: slyness | June 22, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Let us draw a dark, very opaque veil over Mudge's rescue and redress...

Yeah, that story made me shiver no end. Such brutality and soulless politics. I hope the IRS will revoke their tax-empt status pending further investigation.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 22, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if they beat up Tom Cruise as well in the management meetings.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 22, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

While this expose on Scientology might scare off some not already involved in the organization, I doubt it will have much effect on those who already count themselves as adherents.

Scientology, like many belief systems, succeeds in part because it creates a self-reinforcing network of personal relationships. It's the fear on losing these relationships that keep people engaged. And this fear can be so great that people will grasp whatever "spin" is presented to explain away these accusations. That's just how some people are.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I was never, for even a single moment, speedo-less. I was wearing my Patagonia baggies the whole time.

And of course my pirate tricorn hat.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and thanks for the tow, Yoki. But if I ever find out who was on the fantail throwing chum into the wake, I'm gonna have words with them.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

100 degrees here. I think that ties the all-time record. Too hot to even think about going to the beach.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I sowwy, 'Mudge, I thought that was cherry Jello powder I was scoopin'...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 22, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, all I can say is that it's wonderful finally to have a *sigh* of immense pleasure, rather than the *sigh* response to everything else.

My friend and I who always celebrate our birthdays with lunch and the exchange of a book or several, finally got around to celebrating last year's birthday today. We're less than two months out for this year's birthday (at least hers, since she remains 20 days older than I am). I had asked for a particular book last year and all our waiting around for a mutually convenient date gave her time to go through it -- something which I love to try to do with a book before I give it away as a present. So the book I got is "The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters" -- it's about 3" thick with tons of pictures and I am thrilled. Can't wait to get myself into it. Only Deborah (Debo) is alive now. I suspect that if the Mitford sisters didn't exist, someone would have to invent them.

I ordered my iMac this morning and it should come by the end of the week. So looking forward to it.

Nice Monday so far. No rain in sight. So far. You know.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 22, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Referring a journalist to a website assumes that all possible questions have already been anticipated.

Now, perhaps there is some justification for this position based on experience. I imagine that some journalists have been known to ask some painfully basic questions. But to assume that a given journalist will automatically do so is simply insulting.

Besides, websites, pretty much by definition, only deal with questions that people want to answer. And the interesting questions, of course, are often the ones that they don't.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I'm not sure anyone *could* have invented those six Mitford sisters. No editor would have believed such a bunch.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I imagine that Iranian officials will soon insist that all those who question the Iranian Election be referred to their official website.

Registration may be required.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

You mean people actually *watch* golf? I thought that was an urban myth.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

*raising my hand tentatively*

Yeah, I do, RD. I don't play, but oddly I like to watch. A close match is like watching a story unfold. Plus the mental aspect of the game can make the story line change pretty quickly (see Barnes, Ricky). That I prefer to watch golf over NASCAR these days is something I can't quite explain.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 22, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The Mitford sisters were real life Zeligs. There always seemed to be one of them around.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 22, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'd watch, if they had any darn cheerleaders. T. Wood's cheerleaders would just be so freaking awesome. And perhaps John Wood's, too, in a weird sort of way.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Debo is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, right?

I just had to write that out. And yes, she is.,_Duchess_of_Devonshire

FTB, sounds like a great book. Another one for my list...

Posted by: slyness | June 22, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Diana Mitford was such a babe too. If you could get over her unfortunate political leanings.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 22, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

You mean people actually *watch* golf?

Yeah, my mother watches golf. Of course, she's 88 years old and lives in a retirement community, so for her watching golf is mondo excitement!

Dr. K and I went up to New Jersey to visit the K-chick for the weekend. It rained a lot and the offspring fixed a great meal- grilled lamb, potatoes, asparagus, tossed salad and raspberry cake with cream cheese frosting- and when we got home we found out that the Obama's had come over to the 'hood on Saturday to buy frozen custard from a shop a half block from our house, so we missed all the excitement. Still, the cake and the company were worth it.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 22, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Jessica was my Mitford of choice, though a bit further left than I'd prefer.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I guess those drunk New Yawkers yelling "get in the hole!" while rolling around in the mud don't count. On accounta their being guys and all...

Posted by: Raysmom | June 22, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

scientology is weird...just like all the other religions. Let's check back in 4009 and see how scientology is doing before rushing to conclusions.

Posted by: miesen | June 22, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ahem, RD I watch golf - I find it very entertaining - but then I grew up watching golf.

Beach party sounds like fun wish I could join in - off to try to beautiful so as not to embarass my eldest - who with the fancy do at the moment looks a little like Christina Applegate.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 22, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Jeezy Weezy, kguy. You have to keep me better informed. I had my Father's Day dinner out at Hell Burger and now he goes out for custard. I can't keep up with him.

We were even in the neighborhood since we also went over to National Harbor to check it out.

Now if Obama ever goes to Eden Center, we've got him covered. After lunch we detoured over to Song Que to buy my son a Vietnamese iced coffee brewer since they sell the Trung Nguyen coffee as well as the little coffee pots that sit over the cups.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 22, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

For some real wingnut reaction to a guy buying his little girls ice cream, check out the comments to the story in the 44 blog.

Astoundingly frightening.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 22, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Song Que? You're welcome.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 22, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I am most exceedingly remorseful that I questioned the validity of professional golf as a legitimate spectator sport. Really. I have no desire to enrage people who might have access to Titanium Drivers. Because, you know, I've heard the stories.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, those posters read like they're suffering from extreme piles, hemarrhoids, dyspepsia, and so forth.

You'd think they'd be for national health care.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 22, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't need to read the reaction, yello. Let me guess-

The guy's a phony using his kids for a photo op.
The guy's a bad dad feeding his kids sugar.
The guy's disrupting the neighborhood.
He's making life hard for the Secret Service.
He's eating treats while people starve in Darfur.
He's spending our tax dollars on frozen custard.
He's not working to create jobs.
He's trying to ruin that dog's teeth.
He can't order a sundae without a teleprompter.
Frozen custard is the first step toward socialism. First it's the custard, then the gelato, then they move you on to the hard stuff!

Posted by: kguy1 | June 22, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

kguy1 - I actually read a conservative blogger who said that Obama should have used a *waffle* cone? Get it. A waffle cone!

Oh. The biting mirth.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 22, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Sad thing is, those folks truly believe that by now the Prez should have been able to mop up the mess he was left with. Or, worse, deny that he was left a mess at all.

Witness the email an acquaintance sent last week with the following definitions:

Recession: When your neighbor loses his jobs.
Depression: When you lose your job.
Recovery: When the President loses his job.

In spite of wanting to send back a reply like "Yup, it probably will take until 2017 to recover from this" I just deleted it. I can't change the mind of someone who thinks like that.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 22, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

What is it about Republicans that makes them so resentful of Obama? I think it has something to do with feelings of insecurity in the wake of hailing Bush II as a hero only to be forced by overwhelming evidence to admit they were wrong. They hate knowing deep in their hearts that they were the cheerleaders marching the country in the mess it's in, and they don't want to admit any responsibility, so they respond with irrational hatred.

Posted by: Southwester | June 22, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, RD, when you're dealing with coneheads, you get cone jokes.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 22, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

kguy -- *snort*. You are so right. I just don't have the stomach to read those posts. Makes me avoid The Fix.

Yep -- I think Jessica (Decca) is probably my favorite Mitford sister politically. She was certainly instrumental in changing the funeral industry in this country ("The American Way of Death"). What a family! Every time I think back on the relative dysfunctionality of my own family, I also think about the Mitfords and other families which were far, far worse. A little bit o' perspective goes a long, long way.

I have a friend who lives at Avenal (15th fairway) and was able to see some tournament golf there. I stopped going because it was all so d@mn boring to see it live. I do like to watch it on TV, though.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 22, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cripes! That comment section is a glow-in-the-dark, red fuming radioactive hazardous waste zone! I would have never guessed that frozen custard was such a divisive issue.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 22, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I've been longing to read that correspondence. You be very lucky, ftb.

I think Redesdale was certifiable, so it is no surprise that the sisters were eccentric, to say the least. The wit, though, is unmistakable.

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- I think that if you can respond to life's vagaries with humor, the better you are, in spite of everything. My brother's response to our lives growing up was to become a passive-aggressive narcissist; he's a very, very unhappy person with no relationship with his son (by his son's directive) and a somewhat toxic relationship with his daughter. He'll be 67 at the end of the year, and one would think he would be more self-aware by this time (um, he's a psychoanalyst, which tells us a great deal, eh?). He and I have no relationship, by mutual choice (mine, especially) and he's married (2d time) to a woman who must be the *most* certifiable person I've ever met. To me, it's a match made in heaven, and they definitely deserve each other. The best part is that it has nothing to do with me!

My sense of humor has definitely gotten me through the roughest patches and continues to give me great rewards. Besides, the bro apparently gets too many rewards for his behavior to ever want to change it in any way, regardless of how he *really* feels about himself and his life. I do have empathy for him, which surprises me on one level, but also shows to myself how far behind I've left the toxic zone myself.

Yoki -- might the book be in your town's library? You'd need a few extensions of time, tho. The book is almost 800 pages long.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 22, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you about looking for humour whenever possible. But I also think there is a sort of in-born, temperamental resilience that varies widely, even among siblings. I think, for example, that I am more naturally optimistic and bounce-back prone than all but one of my brothers, and much more so than my mother.

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Major crash on the Metro Red Line near Ft. Totten! Appears to be at least 2 dead and more still trapped.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 22, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

On TV it is showing the two trains with one partially resting on top of the other -- very bad.

Posted by: joelache | June 22, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh no, that crash looks terrible.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 22, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

That train accident looks bad, one under another.



Posted by: -bc- | June 22, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers creepers, that crash really shouldn't happen.

The metro system has long been in need for a second line to directly join the red line so trains can be rerouted in case of accident.

Oh my god, that's just awful. There're going to be a lot of shook-up commuters and metro employees for a long time.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 22, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Toll is now four dead and a hundred injured.

I'd say the odds are very nearly a "sure thing" that at least one of us locals knows someone who was on one of those trains--me, yello, bc, Scotty, mo, Don, omni, whoever. We all know people who ride the Red Line everyday, so it's just a matter of probabilities.

It happened about 5:02--dead solid center/middle of the rush.

One of the two deceased was the female driver of the following train.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Two more in "life-threatening" condition, 12 moderate injuries, 50 walking wounded.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm thinking that too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 22, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Reporting in safe, thankfully...

Got a couple of e-mail alerts about the "delay" on my way home; didn't realize the magnitude until a friend in Colo. texted me to see if I was OK...

Hoping I don't know anyone on that train, but 'Mudge could be correct.

And yes, I'm po'ed at the broadcasters speculating on possibly more dead, based on "sources," dammit.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 22, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Just got a phone call from a friend in Minneapolis asking if I'm OK; she didn't know if I took that train, but she knew I commuted. A lot of phone calls like that being made, I'm sure.

And believe it or not, a few minutes after I got off my bus a small black cloud rolled over and it sprinkled for about three minutes. So the rain streak continues.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear you're okay Scotty. You too Mudge, although you always talk about catching a bus so I didn't think you would be in any danger of this.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 22, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

This is so awful. I was watching the streaming video on the WaPo site but can't take the commentators any more.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 22, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse


re-checked my e-mail and Metro alerts were still saying "mechanical difficulties" @ 6:30...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 22, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

A woman on the local NBC station, channel 4 here, just noted that the previous most deadly Metro crash occurred in february 1982, when three people where killed. As it happens, that was the very day that Palm 70 crashed on the 14th Street Bridge over the Poitomac, and the plane went into the river ice-- I'm sure you all remember that crash, Lenny Skutnik rescuing the woman in the river, the ice storm and horrible condiions, etc., Well, that day there was also a Metro crash in the middle of town underground, by complete coincidence, but the plane crash so overwhelmed the news that not everyone remembers the Metro crash. But that was the previous worst Metro incident.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

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

Good evening, friends. Just got out of the kitchen. It seems that's my place of residence now. Feels weird, cooking that is.

The metro accident is bad. I prefer the bus because one gets to look around at stuff on the top. My experience on the Metro was uncomfortable because I didn't hold on, and when it pulled off, I thought I was going to hit the floor. That would have been a big pile on the floor, and probably hard to get up.

It is still hot here. And my hearing aid is working! I'm so happy. I still have the noise, but I can hear other stuff too.

What is scientology? Do they worship God or reason?

Mudge, Yoki, Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, and everyone here, helllllllllllllooo, *waving*

My dad watches golf, tennis, everything except baseball.

I can hardly navigate this website, not looking for more pain. I think the day of talking to people over the phone about business or anything else has come to an end. One seldom gets an individual when calling a business. Everything is a recording, and numbers to press. I'm so full. Time to go outside.

My grandsons brought their pets with them. Lizards. And I have to buy grasshoppers for them. I asked if they could eat the ones jumping around outside, and was told, no. The ones around here might have viruses. I'm thinking, are they checking the grasshoppers for viruses now? The ones at the pet shop. If so, they're getting better medical care than moi. These pets are eating better than me too. They get their favorite food, and fruit to go along with that. The lizards might not want to visit again. They're going to have a bad day or night if I wake up and find one in the bed with me. Oh, the things we do for love.

Posted by: cmyth4u | June 22, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I've often said that certain pets (who shall remain nameless) get better care than many people. When one of my brothers objected to Miss Libby licking his hand, I pointed out that her vaccinations were up to date, and could he say the same for himself? He could not. :)

I'm so glad you have your grandsons there! Enjoy them, but put them to work. No good having great strapping boys around if you still do all the heavy lifting.

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

FYI mainly for slyness. The crash occurred near a community called Ft. Totten on the DC/MD Prince George's County line. As it happens, Ft. Totten has a very large cemetery where all firefighters and policement killed in action are often buried. Ft. Totten cemetery is famous for its funeral services, because they get a pair of big hook-ladder trucks at the entrance and they put the ladders up to form a sort of arch that the funeral procession passes under. It is a very moving thing. So that's what most local people hereabouts think about when they hear the name Ft. Totten: the firefighter funerals.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

John Hodgman is the special guest on Keith Olbermann's show now coming on.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | June 22, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

When we first heard the news about the crash, I facetiously suggested to Mr. T that he call the DC fire chief, who is a friend. Of course he wouldn't do that in the middle of an emergency of that magnitude, but it would be nice to have insider info.

Thanks for that background on Ft. Totten, Mudge, I had never heard about it. The crossed ladders for firefighter funerals are pretty standard. The pomp and ceremony around burying a firefighter who died in the line of duty is, well, over the top. The shame is that 99 percent of such deaths are due to preventable human stupidity.

Cassandra, good to hear that you're enjoying the grandsons. It's too hot to cook much, so don't overdo it. How is VBS? Ours started today, but I'm not involved so I stayed home. My Bible study group is cancelled this week because VBS is using our space.

Posted by: slyness | June 22, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Workin' dogs get "spoiled"
'Though bones and beds ain't Hummers
I'll split with Cassie...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 22, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I read about the accident on the Red Line at about 7.15. 'Mudge, I hope all of the boodlers you mentioned are safe. The pictures are quite disconcerting.

Posted by: -jack- | June 22, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Usually I take the bus, but sometimes I'm a red and green line passenger.

So sad for those who lost their lives. I wish a speedy recovery to all.

Posted by: Moose13 | June 22, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

My dad called my cell phone around 5:30 to see if I was okay. He's in Colorado. He knows I sometimes take the train, but couldn't remember what line.

I was sitting on the bus in Bethesda. It was the first I'd heard of the Metro accident.

Posted by: Moose13 | June 22, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Good evening. I hope all DC-area Boodlers are okay and not in the train crash. I made one call to DC already tonight but am relying on Boodlers to check in. Roll call please.

Cassandra, I'll be glad for you about your lizard guests! I love lizards. If Ivansdad could have countenanced a snake or lizard pet, we might not have our fine rabbit now. Of course, rabbit food is a lot easier to manage than live grasshoppers. I don't envy you that. Also congratulations on having your grandsons there. Tell them this imaginary friend says hello!

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 22, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Glad you weren't on the red line tonight, Moose. Larry King's show is focusing on the accident. Mayor Fenty said 6 fatalities, as does the WaPo now.

I would say Scientology worships neither, Cassandra. I have a friend who gets quite incensed about Scientology, because of the abuses that the article in the Kit talks about. It seems very weird - not really sure why people are attracted to it, but I suppose it fills some need in them.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Terrible accident. I hope there are no further fatalities and that all boodlers and their friends are safe.

Happy to hear that your grandsons are with you Cassandra. Hope you have a wonderful time with them. I don’t envy you the lizards, #2’s snake is more than enough for me and I won’t tell you what he eats! And very happy that your hearing aid is working.

We took a ride to the ocean tonight to see the surf. Even tho’ the wind is off-shore, the waves were very large and it was obvious that the last high tide had reached into the parking lot. Moon tides the next few nights mean very high tides and water into areas that usually stay dry. They say it will be sunny and 80 on Thursday, it’s very hard to believe we will ever see good weather again. Today’s temp topped out at 59. There have been five days this month with some sun. The general mood is one of despair.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 22, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Nothing screws up a straightforward analysis of a cult like the involvement of a bunch of ungenerate meth-heads.

Is that on kit?

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 22, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

checking in to make sure everyone here is OK...

Joel, I linked to one of your kits on my blog earlier. I wrote about questions and learning, and realized the idea I wrote about was very close to what you wrote about teaching science with questions in your kit about your visit to the Carnegie Institution.

Yes, that is a terrible run-on sentence. I'm sleepy and don't feel like editing it now.

Posted by: abeac1 | June 22, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

oh, I am suddenly very awake. LSU just tied. Go Tigers!!!

Posted by: abeac1 | June 22, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

A few random thoughts:

My best thoughts out to the folks who were involved (in ways terrible & less so, large & small) in the Metro crash today. I'm a regular rider, am well aware that disaster lurks, and don't give it too much thought. Probably won't tomorrow either, but my heart aches tonight.
- - - -
JA - "Just because it's a website doesn't make it as helpful as a person with a pulse. Websites tend to be crammed with public relations boilerplate. And that stuff rarely tells you anything as pithily as a person can."

Joel, you must have a golden touch, if you've found actual humans to be so much more pithy & helpful than websites. My experience is that it's 'bout six one, half-dozen t'other.
- - - -
Scientology... OK, I've got nothing to add. They can dig their own holes.
- - - -
US Open - I kinda love the fact that there's a major golf tournament with a semi-regular "Who the heck is THAT?" champion. I was rather torn between rooting for Mickelson, Glover & Barnes, and am looking forward to another run of Tiger-domination.
- - - -
I'm flat-out flabbergasted by the regular comments I see in various places that state that the WashPost has become a bastion of conservative views. WTF? I think it's great that several conservative columnists are featured here on a regular basis, but c'mon, now.
- - - -

And, while I wouldn't recommend this as a one-step guide to life, an Oscar Wilde (from "Dorian Gray" in this case) quote is never an awful thing:

"I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices."

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

CquaP family is fine; however, that is the train line and time for CPDot2's commute. She happened to drive today, so our relief is palpable at ChezCquaP. One neighbor was in the train crash and just returned home. He has a splitting headache and is coughing due to the dust. But in one piece and so very grateful.

Fort Totten is also one of the historic ring forts built to protect DC during the Civil War. See these two then-now pictures:
Fort Totten guarded the Military Asylum or Soldier's Home, and a small cottage where President Lincoln would sometimes go to relax.

Fort Totten is now a N.E. neighborhood near Brookland and Catholic University. As others may note, Fort Totten is also the transfer point from the DC-Red Line to the Prince George's County/Maryland-Green Line. Moose and I live on the Green Line.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | June 22, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse


I think Fort Stevens is another (just off of Georgia Ave.) ... what other Forts are there?

Posted by: russianthistle | June 22, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

OK, I was wrong, I do have something (albeit not anything particularly insightful or clever) to add about Scientology. It seems to have managed to combine the absolute worst aspects of Pastafarianism, I Ching, Roman Catholicism, & modern sports marketing.

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Tumbleweed - Ft Kearny & Ft Reno are/were both near Tenleytown, I think. I'm pretty sure there are a couple more.

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

RT/DM Links here to most of the forts ringing DC,_D.C.
Local photographer Charles Steck has a series on these aging relics. Here is one of his photos on Fort Stevens:
Charles is a friend and neighbor.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | June 22, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Annoyingly to me (because I've been there!) I'd forgotten that Ft. DeRussy is in Rock Creek Park. There are more.

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I grew up with a Fort DeRussy in Honolulu.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 22, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

C-Park - Well, I'll jes' hush my mouth! I think I could have remembered another half dozen or so, but that Wiki-list looks impressively exhaustive.

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

'thistle - Been to that one, too! :-D

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this a turn up for the books?

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - Did we have a date? Was I supposed to bring (or have read) a book?

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of turnips for the books:

Posted by: bobsewell | June 22, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Bob, what took you to (most likely I know) to Fort DeRussy in Hawaii? When I was beginning high school it was a hot R&R site.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 22, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

The tragic crash on the Metro Red Line had me in a pensive and thoughtful mood as I went about my business this evening.

Finally ended up on the deck with a glass of port and the Orion telescope, relaxing and pondering my place in the universe.

And wouldn't you know, I start reacting to the pollen in the air, my eyes start swelling, and I can't see a thing.

I think I'm allergic to the universe.
Which, when I think about it, is just about right.

Pass the tissues and the benadryl - g'night folks.


Posted by: -bc- | June 22, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Nah, we're good, bobsewell.

Posted by: Yoki | June 22, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

bc, want to know your place in the universe? look at the ticket that you got out of the little dispenser at the Deli counter.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 22, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, are you passing out benedictions? Are we good?

Posted by: russianthistle | June 22, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Well, I, too, am in shock about that crash. I ride the Metro A LOT. I drove right by that spot every week for 3 years with Food and Friends. That's my line, but other end.

As the trains get busier, I move to the front or end of the train just to find some space. Now, I am not sure I will do that the next time.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 23, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

We're not, all of us, only good, but really freakin' fabulous.

Posted by: Yoki | June 23, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Just checked in to see that DC boodlers and families are ok. Whew.

Toodles and sweet dreams to all.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 23, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

hear, hear, Yoki. ADD kind of day. Started by thinking we were finished packing #1  for a week off with the youth group. Wrong. packing went in fits and starts until they left at 12.18. Tried to cut the weeds in between, ran out of gas, stopped that, got a call from a friend, who need help mowing a light fixture, spent nearly an hour getting stuff together for the job, 1.30, unloaded and started the job at two, needed a couple more things, 3.oo, finished at 6, packed our son off to a friends for the night, got gas, finished with the weeds, dinner, dogs, ran out of dog food, remembered that we ran out of coffee and milk this am, grocery for am necessaries, home. whew.

Posted by: -jack- | June 23, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and went to the doc this am. All is well. Just can't expose the scar tissue to the sun for a year. and we're taking holiday at the beach starting next Saturday. I always thought that a muffler was *the* most stylish thing on the sand, ever. I think I'll add a toboggan and muckluks just to stay ahead of the curve.

Posted by: -jack- | June 23, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

SCC: mukluks. How thoughtless of me. I'm relieved that all of the DC boodlers are safe and sound. the Tapers corner has some choice selections this week, so I'm headed off to check it out.

Posted by: -jack- | June 23, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Or, jack, use a silken printed square and call it a foulard; you could be un flaneur. You could positively flanner!

So glad all is well.

Posted by: Yoki | June 23, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

goggles and a leather helmet, perhaps? beach aviator?

Posted by: -jack- | June 23, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

google ad, no lie: "Dr Oz Reveals: Anti-Aging Supplement. I need the magic wand ad.

Posted by: -jack- | June 23, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

so sorry to hear about the train crash, and glad to hear that the boodle extended family is ok.

we had a particularly bad crash in l.a. last year (25 fatalities). this is a stunning picture of the first responders at work:

i read part of the scientology article. all i can say is i hope that some things can be proven in order to stop these abuses. i didn't know it was that bad because i generally ignore scientology.

i like lizards, too, ivansmom. wouldn't want them as pets, but i like running into the cute little ones, which happens periodically in socal.

Posted by: LALurker | June 23, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse


Good night, Al.

Posted by: Yoki | June 23, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad all is well on the boodle. Scary day. Sad day. Take a number.

Posted by: Windy3 | June 23, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Enough thunder in the distance to stay awake. The storms are marching south, barely offshore. Finally, a little piece of one is dropping rain, probably just a little, but welcome after two days when it was so hot, I should have brought the orchids into the house.

Lyndsey Layton's story in the Post gives a first glimpse of possible causes of this afternoon's Metro wreck. That's fast reporting.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 23, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

jack, hang on.

*looking through yarn stash for some cotton to knit a cowl for jack*

Posted by: seasea1 | June 23, 2009 2:58 AM | Report abuse

I know this is mintuiae in the scheme of things, but it would have been VERY helpful if local broadcasters had included commuter rail impacts in their top-of-the-hour recap of the effects of the Metro crash...

*heading out to the garage instead of the flight line*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.

Heard the update on the fatality count on NPR. So sad.

But, think about it this way. 33 years almost accident free. Not many transportation systems can say that. Not much consolation to the families of those nine people, but I still find the Metro system amazing.

Here's a cool website to learn more about it.

I probably won't get to ride when I'm there for NECC. Only five days until then.

Posted by: abeac1 | June 23, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle. Hope all you DC-area Boodlers have a not-too-complicated commute.

Posted by: Yoki | June 23, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Scotty! Yo, Scotty! Don't leave without breakfast! We're doing the full monty this morning, I figure we need comfort food. Scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, foccacia toast with real butter and choice of jam, bowl of fruit. Coffee/tea on the table.

Mornings like this always send me back to Psalm 121, so much sorrow and angst about the world. I'm glad boodlers are all safe and will include the casualties in my prayers.

On a happy note, we are to meet my favorite twin boys and their parents for lunch. They have tickets to see Thomas the Tank Engine uptown this morning and we'll be meeting close to Mr. T's office. They were at the beach last week, so it's been a couple of weeks since I've seen them. Their mom already shared the pictures, which are hysterical. And she says they are talking!

Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

What a horrible, horrible mess is that Red Line crash. I mean, I understand that no system is truly idiot proof, but still. This sort of thing simply shouldn't happen.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

RD_P, a certain professional engineer of my acquaintance, who has investigated more than a few derailments (though heavy-haul, not commuter) of railcars, says that human error is the culprit 99% of the time. And nobody can foolproof our brains.

Posted by: Yoki | June 23, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Very sad event in DC yesterday, there was a crash in the Toronto subway years ago, I believe one train crashing into the back of another, all the same questions arose - also similar record of safety.

My condolences to those that have lost loved one and to the injured.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 23, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Every time we create a foolproof system, Nature creates a better fool... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I also wonder if, ironically, the greater the effort to take the human element out of a system the less reliable that human element might become because of a false sense of confidence.

The initial reports suggest that, perhaps, since the trains were supposed to operate automatically, the operator may have become complacent and failed to apply the emergency brake. But we may never fully know since, tragically, the operator was one of the fatalities.

In any case, it is a somber day around here. In a way, it is even more disturbing than an airplane crash because we nearly all use the Metro routinely. Often with our families.

Although I know, statistically, that driving to the metro station is more likely to result in a deadly accident than riding these rails the salience of this horror trumps rationality.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I think this, from the NYT, might qualify for the sardonic headline of the day award:

"Occasional Smoker, 47, Signs Tobacco Bill"

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Airplanes, trains operated by computers. Trouble with a lot of conveyances, they are designed by engineers. Instead of enhancing human performance back up systems become boss and the human operators become back up systems to robots.


Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Post still saying 7 dead, but local radio and TV saying 9 dead now.

Today in Nautical, Aviation and Egregious, Unconscienable Baseball History

June 23, 1915: Perfidious Albion: German submarine U-40 (Capt. Furbinger) surfaces to attack the British trawler Taranaki, never realizing the trawler is a decoy and is towing submerged British submarine C-24 (Lt. Taylor). Before Furbinger can line up his surface shot, Taylor torpedoes and sinks U-40. When he is fished from the water, Furbinger furiously protests this “dirty trick.”
1916: Victor Chapman becomes the first American aviator shot down and killed during World War I, near Verdun. Chapman was one of the original seven founding members of the Escadrille Americain, formed two months earlier.
1917 – In a game against the Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing pitcher Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.
1931: Wiley Post and Harold Getty depart New York in their Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae on the history’s first round-the-world airplane flight, flying 15,500 miles in 8 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Post now has nine dead, too.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm back in from watering, bringing with me the first fruits of the garden: two lovely summer squashes, which I'll fix for supper.

Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Faxing jack a cool bandana. And a reminder to all that one oil-based vitamin A cap plus two beta-carotene A's make one almost sunburn-proof.

Sympathy to all DC folks for the awful train wreck.

What does neglecting the future look like? We are seeing it here in this proposed NC beach house insurance proposal:

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 23, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse


The Irani ayatollas are looking for squashes. Can you help? :-D

Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

r_t, what they handed me at the deli counter says "Sealed for your protection," and it's not a ticket. More like a sash...

The things I gotta go through for a good matzoh ball soup...

I think it's still too soon to tell exactly what happened in that Metro crash, and certainly what may or may not be done to prevent such an accident from occurring again. It's been a tough couple of weeks here in DC...


Posted by: -bc- | June 23, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

In Milbank's column: "But the younger Pahlavi spoke yesterday of the good old days of his father's rein."

Yes, I suppose he was quite a horseman in his day, the Shah.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Nope, Brag, they are on their own. My squashes are MINE.


Posted by: slyness | June 23, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think we're going to have to rain Milbank's editor in.


Posted by: -bc- | June 23, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Morning all,
The crash was really unsettling. Before the baby, Mrs SW used to take the Green line to Ft. Totten 3 to 4 days a week to work at the Washington Animal Rescue League. She's been away for almost a year now and has lost touch with those people, but there were probably some people she knew from WARL on one of those trains.

This was bad. From what I've read and heard, Metro has had some close calls in recent years with the older trains and should have known something like this could happen and gotten the older cars out of there. Nevertheless, this is not a reason not to take Metro. Accidents like these make people frightened because they have no control over whether or not the train will crash, but you're far, far more likely to die driving to work that taking Metro.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I got a feeling Weingarten's chat is not going to be much fun today. The poll is about PETA and the fly incident, and other PETA issues. *sigh*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Have a little faith, 'Mudge... I already submitted a comment from "Carniv, Ore."


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

SW, there's no indication that the age of the cars had anything to do with the crash. Nor were previous incidents so related. All seem to have had to do with the signaling system and human error problems. Even a "catastrophic failure of the braking system" isn't especially age-related, or at least related to the age of the cars.

The preliminary indication is she never hit the emergency brakes. The question is why.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Terrible news about the Metro train accident. Mudge, I indeed do remember that plane going down in the frozen Potomac and the Metro accident on the same day. I remember the woman who was rescued, but who lost her husband and baby in the river. I understand she became quite mentally ill afterwards - and, frankly, who could blame her?

Makes me glad I don't commute, although I'm soon to leave for a luncheon meeting downtown (and have to find something to wear besides bluejeans and t-shirt -- and it has to fit -- dang! Such a dilemma!).

Sad to hear of Ed McMahon's passing. Now he and Johnny Carson can get back together, along with Jack Paar and Steve Allen.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 23, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Weingarten has gone to he PETA well with the vat fed Chicken Little (quick name the sci-fi reference here) meat before. He's flogging a dead horse. And not for the first or last time.

Other topics I predict:

A double dactyl about Sonia Sotomayor

Some reference to his punny names/knock knock jokes on Twitter

A wildly indignant position on some irrelevant argument.

A link to a picture of either Scarlett Johansson's chest or Ryan Reynold's abs.

Random fawning panty flinging.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 23, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: I think you're wrong there. The front page story under "the probe" heading says as much:

I don't dispute the fact that the current evidence points to a failure of the operator to apply the brakes or possibly a brake failure, but the system that should have stopped the train has had prior incidents of failing in the older model cars. From everything I've read so far, it looks like a new car would have been stopped by the system.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

My understanding is that the Metro software is designed to prevent this from happening. Such a collision is supposed to be impossible. Clearly, this isn't the case.

What alarms me is that in 2006 the software failed before, and, if not for the quick action of the operator, a similar accident would have likely occurred. Which makes me wonder, naturally, if this is an independent software error, or was the flaw revealed in 2006 never corrected?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

@RD: It's those near misses where the system failed and the operator saved the day that should have clued Metro in to the possibility of a crash happening. And everybody keeps saying the failure only happened on the older model cars.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The age of the car has nothing whatsoever to do with the relay system, the signals, or the health/maintenance of the brakes. The car is just a damn big metal box. Its components and subsystems can be upgraded, checked, improved, or whatever. But the age of the box has nothing to do with anything; the box itself did not fail.

I just read the probe story a few minutes ago, right before I posted. One of us is mis-reading it. I don't think it is me.

"But four years ago, in an episode eerily similar to yesterday's, the signal system briefly failed..." That's not the car failing, it is the signal system.

"During the past decade, Metro has struggled with troublesome communications relays. The agency tore out all 20,000 trackside relays in 1999 after discovering that a small portion designed to last 70 years were failing after 25." That's "relays," not the cars. A small piece of electronics.

"In May 2000, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a safety warning to all railroads and transit systems, saying relays manufactured between 1960 and 1985 by General Railway Signal had a tendency to stick or fail." Again, that's the relays and relay system. Not the cars.

Not one single word about the age of the cars and their structural integrity. Not one.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: I hear you, but I heard on NPR this morning that the relay failures were all with the older cars. It may have been a flaw with the components of the car. I don't remember who said it, but someone said that Metro was planning on replacing the cars for this very reason and just hadn't done it yet.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: And of course I realize that the box itself did not fail, merely it's components. My understanding is that the older cars had the old components that had failed in the past and were due for replacement and that Metro was planning to replace the entire cars, rather than just the components. Again, I heard a lot of this on the radio and I may have misheard something, but the article supports the evidence that at least some metro relays have failed and there must have been a pattern they could have traced.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

*tapping my foot* SW, don't make me come up there.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

A few weeks and several thousand miles apart, two fatal accidents make me ask the following question: Do computers have common sense?

As far as this scribbler knows, the answer is: NO!

Just before going into total silence, the computers aboard Air France’s flight 447 sent a series of messages indicating systems problems. Though still a matter of speculation, a pitot tube might have malfunctioned and precipitated a fatal chain of events.

Yesterday a DC Metro train crashed into another train killing and injuring people. Computers aboard the DC trains are supposed to prevent this from happening.

Many years ago when computers were restricted to large buildings in rooms with lots of no smoking signs, I flew old Curtis C-46 cargo planes. These cigar shaped monsters were primitive even for those days. They had two pitot tubes that fed speed and altitude info to two independent sets of instruments, one for each pilot.

I was a young copilot with less than a thousand hours total flying time when the captain asked me what was my indicated airspeed. My instrument indicated 135 knots, which was normal. His showed 110 and was slowly going down. We were flying through nasty icing conditions. The weather reported by all airports within our reach was dismal.

“You fly this heifer,” the captain said.
I was not in the least happy with this. That the weather reported at our destination was ceiling 200 feet, visibility one quarter of a mile didn’t bother me. Our windscreen was covered with ice and we couldn’t see outside.

I maneuvered the plane, got all the needles centered and began an ILS approach. I did everything the way I was taught during training. Our chief pilot demanded that we’d be capable of doing a prohibited zero-zero landing. It could save your life, he insisted.

That night, I didn’t know we were on the ground until the tail wheel touched the snow covered runway.

Many years later when flying the Boeing 707, I was having drinks with a 747 KLM captain. I was amazed to hear that their company rules prohibited pilots from making a manual approach when the ceiling was less than 1500 feet. He was quite happy with the rule as he thought the computer driven autopilot did a much better job than a human could.

My approach to flying was that of a concert violinist, you’ve got to practice, practice, practice. Having all the bells and whistles was great. I was too polite to remind the Dutch pilot that systems fail. Every day.

A good example of the unthinkable was the U.S. Airways flight 1549 simultaneous failure of both engines. Captain Sullenberger had to rely on his training, experience and skill to bring plane and passengers to relative safety.

It is too early to jump to conclusions on what happened on the DC Red Line. I suspect that over reliance on computers has a lot to do with this disaster.


Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I keep seeing the phone company ads on TV that talk about "G3" and even "G4" networks, or systems, or whatever the hell they are. Am I supposed to know what a G3 network is? Am I supposed to be impressed?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: My apologies, but the impression I had when I left the house this morning, having read the paper and listened to the radio was that if Metro had done something to fix the automated system in the wake of the near misses, this would not have happened. I gathered it was something obsolete common in the older cars. As the driver of 24 year old car, I have nothing against older vehicles, but I'm meticulous about my maintenance and it sounds like Metro may not have been. OK?

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: those are the fancy networks the smart phones use (like iPhones and Blackberries). If you can't wait to surf the internet until you can get sit down with a computer, this is vitally important to you. Personally, I think we should can the whole system and force people to unplug for at least a portion of their day.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

To my knowledge there was only one software failure in the past, and I am afraid the age of the vehicles really isn't relevant.

Or, as the WaPo homepage states:

"Death Toll Rises to 9 in Metro Red Line Crash; Experts Suspect System Failure, Operator Error"

Now, operator errors will always be with us, I fear. It is the software error that concerns me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, a G3 Network refers to a broadband protocol. The larger the frequency band devoted, the more bits per second can be pushed through. Therefore, a G3 network offers a cell phone user the ability to get and send video, pics, music, and all those other internet-like features more quickly.

For those of you who insist on those new-fangled thingies.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Well crap, Gene's announced he's taking the buyout.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten has taken the buyout.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Prove to me that people have common sense first, Brag. ;).

I agree with you--emergency procedures and skills need to be tiptop, as well as a preformed plan B, because you ain't going to have time to think innovatively in a real emergency.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 23, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, only partial. Genepool will go, as will major articles. Still keeping the column and probably the chat.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

For the record, Gene is a rotten bastid sometimes.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I meant 3G networks. I assume this is what you mean.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 23, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Ed Macahon dies at 86.

Not to speak ill of the dead, but I never spoke well of him while alive; the image I formed was that he was a blatant money wh*re.

He'd have done commericals peddling meth to the elderly if it'd earn him money.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 23, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

sad to hear about the increase in fatalities. best thoughts and prayers to all the victims' families.

dc area folks are about to become highly informed about train accidents and investigations, the way angelenos did last fall. a complicated and unhappy business.

Posted by: LALurker | June 23, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I'm really multitasking today: I'm following here, Weingarten, Facebook, all while I wait for an underling to finish setting up a file for me use. Delegating can be a delight sometimes.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse


I am living proof that people lack common sense :-b


Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Just saw something that really gave me pause on Doc Gridlock's chat (I really am all over the place today): the train crash was on the inbound side. It was rush hour, so the trains heading downtown would have been relatively sparse, but if this had happened on the northbound side the trains would have been packed. As bad as the crash was, this would have had a truly terrifying death toll had it happened to a pair of full trains.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten printed my post.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

1. Since Brag seems to be around today, I'm curious: is there a significantly different spin in South American media on Iran pre- and post-election compared to "Western" media?

2. Also on Iran, interesting that Britain has been singled out as the big meddler to try and deflect the crisis. CNN said, probably correctly, that it's a reflection of Obama's credibility.

3. ftb, you've been one of the final straws. I think we're also getting an iMac. Why is yours taking so long? After reading your posts I was thinking one didn't buy off the shelf.

Posted by: engelmann | June 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

*owl hoots*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

@Mudge: which one was it? The one about JA?

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It was Boodlevan,IA.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

There appears to be a new kit.

Posted by: Moose13 | June 23, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@Mudge: my apologies, that was a good one.

Posted by: Southwester | June 23, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

'morning all. I'm back from my little fishing expedition. The first hour and a half was fun but the scorching sun killed off the action after 10:00. It was fun yet.

Light rail and metro system have redundant safety systems. Maybe not as redundant as those found in civil aviation but redundant anyway. So for an accident to happen the holes in the cheese have to be aligned, i.e. the safety measures must failed at the same time or close enough. And it does happen. It looks like the AF447 flight crash off Brazil's coast might be one of those. They've been flying those A330 for years in all kind of weather but, finally, all the holes in the cheese lined up perfectly on that doomed flight.
I have little doubt the NTSB will find the sequence of events that led to the Red Line crash, they are pretty good by themselves and can get the help of the real expert in passenger rail (the Brits) if need be. They will probably find that dubious hardware, imperfect safety measures, imperfect training of the employee (a favourite of the investigators) and maybe some measure of neglect conspired to align the holes in the cheese. Neglect could be failing to address a situation where some noticed that some holes started to align but nothing happened, so everything was found "good". If you can see halfway through the cheese it's time to do something about it.

Well Yoki, there is a lot of broken hardware behind derailments. Grant you some of the hardware issue are human errors as well, the thermite repair weld that broke and caused the St-Hilaire derailment was many years past due for permanent replacement. And so a whole bunch of heating oil cars burned into the night, day, night, day, night and day.

Sometimes rodents are to blame. The blame for the latest big spill of sulphuric acid back in 2000 or so can be laid at some beaver's feet. The darn thing dammed a creek and flooded the rail bed. It was noted by the railroad but action was scheduled for the spring (is it human error?). The first heavy train that rode that section in the spring thaw, a sulphuric acid unit train, washed-out the whole section. The pH of the creek was darn low for quite a while...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 23, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | June 23, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Nice, Mudge. I dare Gene to add my posts to his updates.

I basically said (much more briefly than this post):

Well, the idea of brainless meat wouldn't work, and that pus-lanced meat broth would be suitable food for zombies except for the fact it lacks the organ they most crave... braaaainns.

I've grown cell cultures, and it's a nightmare keeping them infection-free, and they actually do need to be grown in culture media that is based on meat in the first place.

No way you want to eat meat grown in vats. I mean it.

If you think you can grow brainless food, the brain provides hormonal and other stimulation for growth and normal immunity.

Take it out of the equation and you're dependent on hormones, antibiotics, growth factors (derived from animals, etc), to try and keep it going.

We're not talking hydrocephalus (they can still appear to feel pain, which would be verboten suffering).

And finally-- plants may feel pain, too; they certainly can communicate insect attacks using pheromones and react to disease, even do some electrical conductivity between tissues.

There's a field of plant neurobiology aborning.

What is this big hype about suffering anyway? We all experience pain, it's part of life.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 23, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse


At least in Chile, the take on Iran is almost identical to that in USA.

Actually this seems to be world wide. There might be exception like in Venezuela or Cuba.

In Iran Brits have not been popular for years as it was British Oil interests who were conspicously involved in the overthrow of Mosadeh.

FYI Chilean Prez Bachelet is in DC. She and Obama been quite chummy. During the OAS meeting in Trinidad, Obama requested to be seated next to her on one of the dinners.

Though, Chile been hit by the economic crisis, it is doing quite well. The CHP is one of the few currencies that has gained in value this year. A lot of investment escaping from the north is heading to Chile.

Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse


At least in Chile, the take on Iran is almost identical to that in USA.

Actually this seems to be world wide. There might be exception like in Venezuela or Cuba.

In Iran Brits have not been popular for years as it was British Oil interests who were conspicously involved in the overthrow of Mosadeh.

FYI Chilean Prez Bachelet is in DC. She and Obama been quite chummy. During the OAS meeting in Trinidad, Obama requested to be seated next to her on one of the dinners.

Though, Chile been hit by the economic crisis, it is doing quite well. The CHP is one of the few currencies that has gained in value this year. A lot of investment escaping from the north is heading to Chile.

Posted by: Braguine | June 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reply Brag.

Posted by: engelmann | June 23, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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