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Infinitely Mind-boggling

At lunch I read Tom Siegfried's piece in Science News about multiple universes, and now I need a nap. Make no mistake, it's a fine piece, especially the top, which elegantly lays out the anthropic principle:

"...there may be many universes, and life occupies one with congenial conditions. In other words, the properties of the universe that physicists measure are "selected" by the fact that physicists exist to begin with."

But about two-thirds of the way through it I got completely lost. I need to brush up on the concept of Boltzmann Brains:

Boltzmann brains are named for the 19th century physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, a pioneer in explaining probabilistic processes in physics. In an infinite universe, all things are possible, even random accumulations of atoms that precisely mimic objects that evolved by cause-and-effect processes -- such as brains. Somewhere in the cosmos, such a random mix of molecules has produced a brain identical to yours in every respect, neurons in identical configurations, with all your memories and perceptions. If enough matter and energy is around to make them, Boltzmann brains could become quite populous, making them, rather than humans, the typical observers of the cosmos.

It is clear that you are not a Boltzmann brain, though. Close your eyes and clear your mind of all unpleasant thoughts. Then open your eyes, and you see all the same stuff, not the newly randomized world that a Boltzmann brain would see.

If Boltzmann brains dominated the cosmos, humans would be rare, so your very existence implies that the average habitable universe must be young enough to restrain the odds of Boltzmann brain formation.

All I know is some days my brain definitely has a "Boltzmann" feel to it.

One of the commenters on the story quotes a line -- "The question is whether life has a starring role in the cosmic drama or is merely an extra, permitted by prevailing conditions but not required to explain them" -- and then declares: "To even consider such a question smacks of creationism! By what possible mechanism could the existence of humans on this tiny planet in the totally non-special location within our universes vast sea of galaxies of stars, most far larger than our sun, have any effect on our universe as a whole?"

But that's a tone-deaf response. Siegfried isn't suggesting in that sentence that humans might be the point, the meaning, the purpose of our universe (which is pretty much the creationist argument), only that the laws of physics in our universe may be directly related to -- constrained by -- limited by -- the existence of physicists. If that makes any sense. And even if it doesn't, who cares -- it's a summertime Friday!


Picking up where we left off yesterday: You know we launched a couple of probes to the moon. One will orbit, one will smash into a crater and see what cool stuff spews out. All of this raises, again, the question of NASA's space strategy. Why are we interested in the moon again? Here's an essay by Paul Lowman Jr. that offers an answer. But I have a quibble: If the goal is preservation of the human species, why not make that the explicit policy of the U.S. government and make a Mars colony the definitive goal, complete with a targeted date for astronauts landing on Mars. It's a tough mission, sure -- but remember that JFK line: we do these things not because they're easy, but because they're hard. (If I keep writing along these lines I may actually talk myself into thinking this is a good idea....)

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 19, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A Lake On Mars
Next: The Whole World Is Watching


Don't worry Joel, that happens to a lot of us(being completely lost).That is why I love the boodle so much.I constantly learn new things here everyday,I may not understand them all,but I know of them. Keep up the great work.

I am completely lost sometimes in my own home.Which just went on the market today. Well,the sign went into the ground.

Back to shampooing the carpets.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | June 19, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, dude! Don't bogart the Boltzmann's brains. Heavy, man.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Good luck selling the gwe manse. Hope you get a fair price.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for that winnie the pooh explanation...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 19, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The Frankenstein monster had a Boltzmann brain, right? Isn't that where the bolts came from?

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

From previous Boodling:

Get me a big enough mirror and I can show you the American Standard galaxy.

Perhaps it's a good thing that sound does not travel through space.


Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. Had to unfollow Weingarten on Twitter/Tumblr. His "moist turd" avatar was just too gross to look at.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Pangloss was understating his case. We live in the best of all possible universes.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we're in the news again today! With North Korea possibly shooting a missile at us on the 4th of July, we won't need to spend so much money on fireworks.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 19, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Or at least, we live in the only habitable of all possible universes. Maybe.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Boltzmann once took a cross-country train trip in the U.S., to lecture at Stanford.

Later, his chronic depression got the better of him and he committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a church. I do not recall the location of the church, although I suppose I could Google it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Reeling merrily Kitward, I seem to remember a previous bit on the A-blog about multiple universes, and how consciousness may affect them:

I will say this, moving from one of the multiversal bubbles to another would require a significant Branestorm.

And think of the Surface Tension it would cause, knowing that there are People like us - and unlike us - Out there.


Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

This is universally cool. When I first watched there was lots of action. Right now... not so much...

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Wikipedia informs me that the 'jumped off a church' story is not correct. Instead, he hanged himself, age 62, in the town of Duino, near Trieste, Italy. A brillian, brilliant man, and a fairly funny writer (if I correctly recall from reading excerpts from his letters of the cross-country train trip).

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

So if the universe is infinite, everything is possible, right? So that means there's a Boltzman Me out there somewhere, only his civilization has rocket boots. Lucky jerk.

Posted by: Southwester | June 19, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't interpret an infinite universe nor multiple universes to mean "everything is possible." There can be no universe in which I am watching the Ozzy Osborne Show, Boltzmann be damned.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 19, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Boltzman brains probably exist only in the books of Jorge Luis Borges. They probably buy tickets for the Babylonian lottery and/or serve on the awards committee.

I think the airlines have seats available for those wanting to experience the Fourth of July in Hawai'i.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 19, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

A new front page headline:

"Ken Starr Endorses Sotomayor"

*checking the sky for porcine aviators*


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 19, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge there is a universe in which you *are* Ozzy Osbourne, while Ozzy Osbourne the Curmudgeon refuses to watch *you* on TV.

I'll be in Hawaii by August 3. Not much earlier.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@Southwester: and jet packs!

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

@SciTim: So there's a universe in which Mudge not only watches the Ozzy Osbourne Show, but also produces it and foists it upon the rest of the Boltzman Brains?

Posted by: Southwester | June 19, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Good thing SciTim, you'll be missing out on the excitement. ;o)

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 19, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

One other thing I'm dredging up from memory: theories regarding the Ekpyrotic universe.

As I remember it, Ekpyrotic cosmology started with the idea that In The Beginning - what we call the Big Bang now -the bubble universe we live in rubbed it's borders (or branes) against other 'verses as it inflated like a bunch of children's party baloons in the backseat of a car on the way to a Birthday party. This rubbing introduced friction, heat, and vibrations inside our nice expanding balloon like ripples in a smooth pond. The result of this bumping and rubbing and Universal Squeaking Vibrations (if you don't like the sound of balloons being rubbed together, can you imagine what *that* sounded like?) being transmitted through the cosmos (As well as uneven heating. And maybe God's own static electicity, for that matter) caused asymmetries that may have set up uneven forces of gravity and dare energy and whatnot, as well as matter and stuff to condense out the energy soup, like hollendaise sauce separating on the stove it you don't stir it to keep it heated evenly.

Whoops - the whole thing went bad!

And here we are.

Now *that's* an Anthropic universe, IMO.

Hopefully, no one's going to clean the kitchen soon.


PS, Yes. I remember a Kit that effect as well.

Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Ohs noes!!!

Looks like no cookies in the mail for me this weekend...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 19, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

But remember, we do not live in an infinite universe. Outside of the physical evidence for a finite, though curved, universe, there are reasonable philosophical arguments against and infinite universe as well. For example, in an infinite universe all things are not only possible, but, by definition, mandatory. And this would include something that would instantly destroy the universe.

So in this quite finite universe there are most likely not races of sentient mattresses living in a swamp. Nor Boltzmann brains, which are basically just a different way of talking about Shakespeare written by monkeys.

Now where infinity is a useful concept is as a mechanism behind the formation of the universe. If the universe in which we exist was produced by some unknown mechanism that spits out random universes, than a recourse to infinity, or at least *very* deep time, flips the argument around. Given enough attempts eventually one of these universes will, by definition, actually work. Or at least work well enough to allow us to evolve. In other words, we *are* the Shakespeare written by monkeys.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 19, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC: from 3:08 - "dark," not "dare,"



Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I just got a recorded message phone call from Costco saying to take back any cookie dough bought from them for a refund. It was a very firm message saying, "do NOT EAT the dough".

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 19, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 19, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

[From the last time we talked about this]

The thing about the anthropic principle, in common with evolution, is that it doesn't dictate a mechanism. In the same way that Darwin was able to advocate the principle of evolution without being able to articulate the underlying mechanism of discrete genes, people can reasonably advocate the anthropic principle *even if* the underlying mechanism is unknown.

That is, just because we have not yet figured out the underlying mechanics of universe formation does not invalidate the significance of the observed sensitivity of cosmic stability to certain parameters.

I mean, if one finds a centerpiece of molded ice cream that just happens to look exactly like a beautiful swan, it is probably worth noting the fact - even if nobody has yet found the mold.

To me the anthropic principle is almost self evident. That blowing on the dial of creation would result in an unstable result implies that our existence is the successful result of multiple attempts.

This, to me, seems clear. The mystery is, again, the mechanism. Is the universe the result of multiple parallel creations, or is it simply a lucky shot after many, many failed attempts going back deeply into time?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 19, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

RD, I prefer to think that I'm one of the monkeys.


Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I was waiting for the infinite monkeys reference. What if instead of Shakespeare written by monkeys, we are Nora Roberts written by roaches jumping on typewriter keys? Or a Kinkade painted by chimps at the zoo flinging poo?

Put that in your Boltzmann bong and smoke it.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@yellojkt: I think Kinkade paintings are actually done that way right now.

Posted by: Southwester | June 19, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Yello, Shakespeare is just classier sounding.

Bottom line, for me, is that thinking about infinity is sort of like dividing by zero. It results in absurdities. (Like Mudge watching Ozzy.) This is why one should be leery of it.

Or at least Leary of it.

Have a great weekend y'all.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 19, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Here it is, Aloha:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 19, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Someone else has posited the theory that eventually computer simulations will be so good that the programs will be self-aware enough to think but not to realize that they are in a computer simulation. You can then calculate the odds that you are a real person or just a simulation of bad action movie.

I call it Neo-logism.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge. Saw it this morning on the news. I was just surprised to get the phone call at my office. Guess they're just calling everyone with a registered phone number in their Costco membership database. I never ate the dough raw, I've always baked it into cookies. It never occurred to me to eat it without baking it first.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 19, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Boodle question
I used a special shampoo for pet odor and urine and while it smells great now,the true test will be when I come back in a week.If this doesn't work any suggestions to remove or cover cat urine on a carpet?

I will back boodle later to see what infinite wisdom the boodle provides.

Back to the city and work Booooooo!!!!

Have a Great day everyone

Posted by: greenwithenvy | June 19, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Raw cookie dough is great. They even put it in ice cream now. (I wonder what kind?)

I wouldn't be surprised if people got sick not from the baked cookies, or from handling the dough, but rather from eating the dough.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 19, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I hope that Kinkade paintings are not made by monkeys flinging poo. Think of the animal-rights issues raised by whatever it is that they are feeding the monkeys to make their poo emerge in pastel colors.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

greenwithenvy, I can report from hard experience that you'll very likely have to replace the carpet and padding... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 19, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought there must be some difference between the alleged raw cookie dough in ice cream and real dough. I mean, I can't believe the FDA would let a raw-egg anything go into commercial-type foods. I'll bet anything it is cooked and processed in some way to give the taste and mouth-feel of raw dough, without the risks.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Re: Ken Starr's endorsement of Sonia Sotomayor -- he's described as the "deeply religious son" of a San Antonio minister. Yikes! *That* certainly destroys any kind of respect I might ever have had for religion (which admittedly has never been at a high level to begin with). Holy (so to speak) cow!

Otherwise, kudos to Ivansmom for her succinct and highly praiseworthy constitutional discussion in the previous kit.

I've been revising (and revising and revising and revising) a number of software-related licensing/support/confidentiality/Non-disclosure agreements today. Having emailed them off in today's "final" version to all who must have them, I am now beginning to relax a wee bit. I do like drafting contracts and licenses -- it is an art, especially to draft them in such a way not to p$ss off a judge down the road should there be a dispute.

Is it really Friday finally? It seems to have arrived so suddenly.

Today is "midsommardagen" in Sweden. Midsummer to us. Today everyone has the day off (or *takes* the day off) and hightails it to their sommarstugor (cottages) for the first round of summertime goodies -- grilling, baking, fishing -- it's all good. Just make sure there's enuf tp in the outhouse (and a flashlight nearby to help one make one's way to said outhouse for the split second there might be any darkness, for this weekend is truly midnight sun time. After Sunday, it starts getting darker again in those parts, and don't they know it! You start actually feeling it sometime in August, but the clock is ticking now towards that dark night.

I finally finished the book on Winston Churchill by Violet Bonham Carter. Now it's time for some fiction, so I'm turning to Petals of Blood, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who was incarcerated in Kenya for it. Words are, indeed, much more powerful than an sidearm. Sidearms may kill, but words kill much more deeply and much more permanently. I'll keep you posted on what I think of this book of his.

Toodles to the boodle for now.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 19, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

How to deal with cat urine in a carpet:
(1) Remove carpet.
(2) Remove padding.
(3) Sniff flooring. If funky and grain raised by prior moisture (meaning it soaked in), remove flooring.
(4) Replace sub-flooring (if necessary).
(5) Replace carpeting (you already know it's necessary).

Re-carpeting an entire house with cheap carpet will cost you perhaps $2K. That is equivalent to what you will pay in mortgage costs if you have to keep the house on the market a couple months before you take these steps. You could *try* shampooing the smell out, but in my experience, it won't work -- the pee has already soaked into the padding and possibly the flooring. If it hasn't done so yet, it will do so after it is mobilized by the moisture of the shampooing effort. It's just not worth the effort -- better to throw away the carpet and try to sell it with no carpet than to try to sell a house that smells of cat urine.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 19, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

People keep cats-- why?
I'm litter-box impaired
But I freshen spruces...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 19, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Plan B: Shoot cat(s), burn house down.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 19, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

On the moon crater bombing, BBC had a cool interview with the old British astronomer Patrick Moore (his lunar charts were used by the Soviets and Americans in the 1960s; some may know of his show The Sky at Night)
~ 45 min: 45 sec into the stream:

And there was another fun interview with David Brin, but I can't find it. Maybe it was on NPR...

Posted by: DNA_Girl | June 19, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Have a good weekend and Happy Father's Days to those departing the Boodle about now.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 19, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I've had cats all my life, never had a problem with them using the carpet instead of the litter box (or outside). Maybe I'm just lucky (or fastidious about cleaning the litter box). We did rent a house once with cat-urine-soaked carpets. We begged the landlord to replace them. He did, and after he drove off with them in his station wagon, he apologized to us for not doing it sooner.

gwe, it probably depends on how severe the soaking was.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 19, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

It's dead.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I guess the Boodle doesn't like talking about cat urine, even though it is *perfect* subject for us.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

1. Females

First of all, I can’t imagine any circumstances in which Jon Stewart would want to take any bait in getting drawn into an abortion discussion. While he may have increased his liberal street cred in taking on Huckabee, he would have turned off lots of anti-abortion fans. As I have learned (here, in part) many nice people have strong opinions about the issue (though I would still call theirs a “choice”).

Leafy legal laurels to I-mom. We had our own mini-Dred Scott up here in the 20s when our SCC ruled that women were not within the definition of “qualified persons” to be senators. Fortunately the grown-ups in London (when there was still that recourse) overturned that.

I always wondered why, though, women here have chosen what is called the “Persons” case as the shining moment, when the franchise had long been extended. Does it make it seem better to have a right won in court, instead of hard-won incrementally through the legislature?

2. Felines

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the odor remover products adequate for cats.

I once, on the other hand, had the misfortunate of spilling some milk in a vehicle and never got that smell out completely. Though I cried, oh how I cried. Okay, not really.

3. Fetes

Happy F-Day, dads. We’re off to see Barney on Sunday. A belated defence to Disneyification. Life is Pain, but I don’t think the pre-schoolers need to add child-eating witches and match-stick girls freezing in the snow to their worries.

Posted by: engelmann | June 19, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Either that, or it is the commuting-time doldrums.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Engelmann, Barney on Saturday - I believe that qualifies you for dad of the year/sainthood.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 19, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

First, the Kit. Thanks to Joel. If you get confused, I know I'll never make it through Boltzmann Brains. Thanks to RD for those excellent explanations which make me believe (make believe?) that I can dimly grasp these concepts.

gwe, I'm afraid I concur with everyone that you might just as well take out that carpet. Burning the house down may perhaps be too extreme for the first day on the market.

Thanks for the constitution comments, y'all. I promise I've retreated into my cave and will have no more lectures soon.

Engelmann, we taught the Boy from birth that Barney is the Antichrist. He's had no reason to doubt it. Also, be sure to remind your daughter that Barney steals songs. That "I love you" song, stolen from "This Old Man", was not (as the Barney brains thought) public domain, but was under copyright. They had to pay a lot of money after that lawsuit was brought - Barney stealing songs is bad publicity. Hee hee.

I must gather the Boy and be off to a local fencing tournament (foils, not barbed wire).

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 19, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I read the kit and I am sure it is fine, but it reminds me of the time I tried to read A Brief History of Time and got derailed just about where he started talking quantun mechanics....He did talk abut quantum mechanics in the book, didn't he?

After reading the kit, all I have left is the energy to wonder if freezing kills whatever bad bugs are in the eggs that might make cookie dough in the ice cream ok to eat?

Well that and NEVER ATE RAW COOKIE DOUGH? Oh you poor poor boodler.

Posted by: --dr-- | June 19, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

An ode to Barney, then

This old scam
Ain’t for free
This is IP pi-ra-cy
Here’s a great big suit
from my client served on you
I think this day
you’ll surely rue

Posted by: engelmann | June 19, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

And they'll wonder why you're smiling so big on Saturday when you hear that song for the zillionth time.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Barney as the anti-christ?

He's certainly a patronizing, annoying sappy hypocrite-- and I can't hear the songs, just the lyrics and the body language.

He is an embarrassment to T-rexes everywhere.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 19, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Mmm cookie dough - go good.

My level of understanding of the kit topic - no so good.

Contrary to the forecast today turned into a lovely sunny day - perfect Friday,

Posted by: dmd2 | June 19, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod.... let's just say it's good you can't hear Barney's voice. *shudder*

Posted by: -TBG- | June 19, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, never ate the dough (except in cookie dough ice cream) because I was schooled early on by Mrs. Fields as one of her employees that if we eat the uncooked dough we get fired. I guess that just stuck in my guilty conscience. In any case, I too wondered if the dough in ice cream is safe because it's kept at freezing temps.

As for Barney, he was the bane of my existence for Alohaboy's entire toddler years. He'd watch the same Christmas Barney video over and over and over again. I thought I would have to go on medication to keep from losing my mind during those years. Thank goodness they were short and he grew out of it when Spongebob hit the tube.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | June 19, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

RD, re. infinities and your 3:41.

Of course it's absurd, which is why I enjoy thinking about it so much.

It's comfortable to me, like an old pair of jeans.


Posted by: -bc- | June 19, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

MotP, I hope N Korea's attempt at July 4 festivities fizzles like it did the last time. WA state is within missile range too, so it is a worry...

On the cookie dough/E coli - this is from the story in the WaPo:
"If you have any of these products at home, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises to throw them away. The FDA warns against baking the dough for fear that if you handle the raw stuff as you remove it from its container and place it on a baking sheet, the E. coli bacteria will spread to your hands and all over your kitchen."

Usually salmonella is what you have to watch out for with raw eggs. So while that is unpleasant, I don't think it's as bad as E coli, which can kill you, at least if you're a child or elderly. Again, having gone through several bad E coli outbreaks here, I would not take a chance.

As a child, I loved to lick the bowls from cakes, brownies, cookies, whatever. Still do. I suppose there's not enough raw egg in that to get seriously sick. But the thought of eating large amounts of raw cookie dough - uh, no. That's interesting about Mrs Fields - I suppose they figured it would cut into the profits if too much raw dough was consumed...or if anyone got sick.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 19, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

And found this here:
"Pre-made raw cookie dough that one can buy at the store is usually lacking in uncooked eggs. In many cases, pre-made raw cookie dough might contain pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are, in effect, uncooked. However, they have usually been heated or “flash cooked” to a temperature that is sufficient to kill any bacteria that can be dangerous to consumers. Uncooked egg is included in cookie dough as an emulsifier that is important in the baking process. The raw cookie dough found in ice cream, cake, or candy is not meant to be baked. For this reason it usually does not contain any egg."

Posted by: seasea1 | June 19, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

seasea, thank you! I love to know this stuff, but I'm too lazy to look it up. I mean, too busy. Yeah, that's it, busy.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse


We're NOT supposed to think absurd thoughts?

Happy Father's Day to all my fellow dads!

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 19, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh no. Absurd is good. Practically de rigeur.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Let’s see, should I comment on Boltzmann brains or raw cookie dough, such a quandary. I never took physics and I am science-challenged but I’ve been baking cookies since I was ten. There’s a brain out there who just had the same thought - spooky. The best part of making cookies is eating the raw dough. I’ve done this since I was old enough to ‘help’ my mom make the dough and I’ve never been sick. I would not however, eat store-boughten dough as I don’t know where it has been so to speak.

The sun came out briefly tonight, it was unsettling. I am so very happy that it is Friday night. I am reading Charles Pierce’s new book Idiot America and I recommend it highly.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 19, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I was an English major and this science stuff fascinates me, but I know I will never truly grasp it.

Temp was 93 when I left home, it was 76 on the porch of the mountain place when we arrived. We will sleep well tonight.

FTB, I remember being in Stockholm in late May and there being light at 1:45 ayem. That I could take and enjoy. The winter darkness, not so much.

Posted by: slyness | June 19, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Interview with Ray Bradbury:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | June 19, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, it's dead again.

Anybody see Obama's humorous speech before the Radio & TV Correspondents a few minutes ago? Olbermann and Maddow carried it live, and also carried the speech immediately after it, which was given by Daily Show alum John Hodgman. I though both were very funny, though the audience didn't seem to laugh much at Obama's stuff.

I thought his best line was "To those who think empathy has no place on the high court...I understand completely how you feel." Now that's very subtle -- but I thought quite good. It bombed.

Hodgman's them claimed to be an attempt to bring together the two sides of the greatest divide in the Culture Wars of our time, namely, the divide between...jocks and nerds/geeks. He was quite funny, I thought, tho slow to get it going. You can probably YouTube the whole thing in a little while. It'll take about 10 minutes for each of them.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 19, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I saw it Mudge. I thought Obama's jokes were pretty funny, it seems the radio and TV people are humor-challenged. He had one line I loved, but of course now I can't remember it. Hodgman did start slow and his humor was more subtle and not quite as amusing to me, not being a geek or a nerd, but entertaining. What is it about Brookline, MA? Conan's from there also.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 19, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

It's not dead! It's just restin'

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing if I comment, the refresh will pop up a bunch of comments I'm not getting with refresh.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Nope, it really is dead.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I watched the speeches on C-SPAN. Thought Obama was good...and Hodgman was pretty funny. I liked when Hodgman made Dune references, and someone clapped...and then he asked Obama a 3 part question about Dune. And when Obama did the Vulcan greeting, right on cue. BTW, William Shatner was on Conan O'Brien the other night, and cannot do the Vulcan sign - it's hilarious. The video is in Lisa de Moraes' chat:
(scroll a bit - the Vulcan thing is toward the end)

Posted by: seasea1 | June 19, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I am here, but watching Tootsie, again.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 19, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I mean, scroll down a bit in Lisa's column to get to the videos...the Vulcan sign comes up at about 5 plus minutes in...worth watching till the end...The whole interview is pretty good.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 19, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm so jealous. Every time I start one of Pooky's videos, I get a message that says, Sorry, we are restricted by copyright law to showing this video within the USA.

So i've read the chats, and know something amazing is going on, but cannot actually witness the funniness.

And I resent it.

Posted by: Yoki | June 19, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

It feels like a TRF outside tonight. Spent the day, on a ladder, painting the outside of the office today. I'm whipped. Listening to a *great* show from the Dead's spring tour, recorded at the Fabulous Forum. A cover of Satisfaction wraps up this set. I can't wait to hear it.

Posted by: -jack- | June 19, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

There is a funny piece in the New Yorker this week by Paul Rudnick. This Mormon family visits MA and finds everything very ‘gay.’ The best part is where they see a statue of Paul Revere being taken down and replaced by a statue of a tall figure in a black suit. Lincoln?, they think - no Rachel Maddow.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 19, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC, put a comma between 'no' and Rachel. Punctuation always defeats me eventually!

Posted by: badsneakers | June 19, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Howdy! Boy won tonight's fencing tournament handily. Tomorrow's should be somewhat more challenging.

Raw cookie dough. Mmmmmm. For store-boughten I prefer the chocolate chip, and thanks to seasea/mostlylurking and the Boodle I know that I may eat it without guilt (except for the whole calorie thing). Every now and again I get a craving for homemade oatmeal cookie dough. Very occasionally in law school I'd put together the batch of oatmeal cookie dough (sans raisins) and not even bother to bake the cookies.

Ivansdad and I objected to Barney long before the Boy was born. We interpreted his message, insofar as there was one beyond marketing, as "It's okay to be mediocre and ignorant, as long as you have self-esteem and share." We disagreed.

Thinking of Barney reminds me of possibly the Worst Children's Book Ever: Rainbow Fish. Beautiful and distinctive fish is brutally shunned until it agrees to destroy its unique gift by giving each other fish one of its scales. That way nobody is special, nobody stands out, and everyone has a pretty but useless ornament. I believe the Boy encountered this in puppy day school and we had to explain vigorously what was wrong with the book, why he must disregard the message, and that it must Never Be Read Again. He didn't like it anyway. Bad art.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 19, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree that infinity allows for many very unlikely structures to exist. But it also makes them very uncommon for a fixed location. Most of the time, that is. Perhaps that explains the rise in conscious behavior.

Right now, I am more interested in what the vast expanses of time have brought about. If you give a process enough time, just about anything and every thing is produced. But where are all these sports? I dunno.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 19, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama's speech was pretty funny. Now I'm hunting down Hodgman's speech. I've become a fan of this uber-nerd.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

"Whoa, dude! Don't bogart the Boltzmann's brains. Heavy, man."

When Huxley and all the other great thinkers presented the drug world as a great exploration, I wondered what they would find of value. Now we know.

Heavy man. Heavy woman.

Heavy child.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 19, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Hodgman gave Obama three questions about Dune. My guesses for the the quiz are:

1. Don't know.
2. Thumper
3. Melange

Please feel free to confirm or refute my answers. Live long and prosper.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Briefly checked in to try to catch up in the midst of graduation festivities. I was stopped dead in my tracks by RD's 3:15 "in an infinite universes all things are not only possible, but, by definition, mandatory." Honestly, I sat here for 15 minutes in a sort of free associating, daydreaming kind of lollygagging stupor as I pondered that. Thanks for that, RD. That was really lovely, just what I needed between batches of veggie salad, buffalo chicken dip and key lime pie.

And yello's "don't bogart the Boltzmann's brains made me laugh out loud. I'm ready to take on the spicy Thai noodles now!

Posted by: Kim1 | June 19, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: The same thing happens to me when I try to get a live video feed of hockey via CBC, on the NHL web site. These days, hockey is nearly impossible to watch without outrageous pay-per-view fees. Satisfaction is playing now. Pretty good cover.

Posted by: -jack- | June 19, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Key Lime pie - Kim I am so crashing your grad party.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 19, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that is an awful book, but that reminds me of the crab theory (a phrase borrowed from WEB DuBois's "Souls of Black folk").

Basically, "the crab theory" exemplifies jealousy and insecurity and how you can't please jealous/insecure folk without destroying yourself.

The true ending to that book would have had the other fish being nice to the rainbow fish for around 5 minutes before resuming their backstabbing.

I'm not bitter, but I recognize that "loser" attitude all too well. It's very ugly.

It also isn't really age-appropriate for kids in puppy day school(?)-- social awareness doesn't begin until around 7,8 and the real insecurity issues hit in the teens.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 19, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Full RTCD program available here:

Bonus if you like Sweet Honey In The Rock.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I'll take a faxed piece of key lime too, Kim. Don't bogart the tart.


Posted by: yellojkt | June 19, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Interesting read: The Beatles meet Elvis.,0,7774774.story

Posted by: -jack- | June 19, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom and Wilbrod,
I totally agree about Rainbow Fish. When I was teaching teachers about kidlit, I told them about the horrors of that book. It was hard work to convince them of the rightness of my view. They were so taken with the pretty pictures and the idea of cooperation.

I feel the same way about The Giving Tree. Truly a horrible book!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | June 19, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I thought the giving tree was supposed to be about parenthood... but yes, nobody should emulate the giving tree.

I hope Pippi Longstocking isn't another horror of childhood. Those books were controversial when they came out, and still are-- I mean, Pippi is a major latch-key kid... her dad's on the other side of the world, and all.

I loved those books.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 19, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Sweet Honey in the Rock was there?!? I had no idea - thx, yello. I LOVE Sweet Honey in the Rock. And I think you're right about the Dune answers - I don't know the first one, either, but could skim my book and find out...

yoki, sorry, it occurred to me that hulu might not be available to Canada (after I posted, of course)...I'll see if I can track it down on youtube - I'm sure it show up eventually.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 20, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

My kind of Kit.

There's a view within the New Age community that each and every person's universe/reality splits in two every time he or she makes a decision. Thus there are infinite parallel realities in which a different version of "you" or "me" is acting out an infinite array of twists on our choices. Everything is, indeed, possible. As to which universe we're "really" experiencing, well, that depends on what our consciousness is tuned in to, or aligned with. Something about vibrations and all that New-Agey stuff.

Personally, I haven't come to a firm conclusion on this. I, too, am going to have to brush up on my Boltzmann brains.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | June 20, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Try this - it has the couple minutes at the end, with the Vulcan salute -

Posted by: seasea1 | June 20, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Watched the Hodgman speech -- laughed at myself as much as anyone. I think I got all nerd the references. When he said "Hello, Nerds!" he was talking to me, but I was whispering to my computer, "You had me at Kwistaz Haderach."

To the Dune quiz:

1. Not sure if he'd going for "Maker" or ShaiHulud, but it's gotta be one of the two.
2. Yello, you're right, it's a thumper.
3. Not melange, but the Water of Life.

I'd hide my head in embarrassment, but none of you can see me now.


Posted by: -bc- | June 20, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I would also comment that introducing children to books with meanings that are open to interpretion or must be disagreed with in part can be used to stimulate critical thinking skills.

There is a specific age in childhood where children begin to question the easy lessons of early childhood and demand more.

The Giving Tree would seem to aim at that age; I loved Shel Silverstein in 3rd grade (but he hadn't written the Giving Tree yet).

You can also interpret the book as Christ imagery if you're Christian, incidentally.

Or if you're Jewish, you can discuss it within your moral framework, and why unidirectal giving without asking anything in return is bad for both (i.e. discuss the covenant with God, etc.).

But then I'm an adult and I now like books that provoke thought in me, and force me to frame why I disagree with the book.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 20, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer, howyadoin'?
That Many Worlds theory of QM is what I riff on in that Kit from last year.

I have a link to it in my 2:35 post above...


Posted by: -bc- | June 20, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

In other words, even that cr*p can provoke conversation about greed, giving, boundaries, self-respect.

And I don't think you forget that story easily at all.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 20, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Just in case this wasn't posted...

Obama's little routine at the Radio/TV dinner.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 20, 2009 1:23 AM | Report abuse

I'll laugh when they find live bacteria a kilometer deep in the moon and none on Mars. How deep do you have to go on the moon before the temperature hits above freezing? I suppose that is shallowest at the moon's equator. We always used one degree F. increase for every 60 feet in depth, as a rule of thumb on the earth. I have no idea what the temp gradient of the moon is, and have been trying to get some figures on that for a long time. No luck.

Where I live, at about 6 to 20 feet depending on how persnickety one is, the temperature is the same all year round, deep enough to avoid seasonal fluctuation. It's about 60 F. In Florida as I recall it's about 68 - 70.

In Texas, at 25,000 feet deep the temperature is roughly 475 F.

I read that the near-surface-but-deep-enough-to-be-constant moon ground temp is -14 F. average at the equator.

I also read that moon habitats underground would soon warm in the presence of humans and their technology and soon inhabitants would need to vent excess heat. But I don't recall Australians who live in opal mines having this problem.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 20, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

How come all the computer-simulated intelligence theories always assume that the sim critters won't be told they are simulations? It would be easy enough to inform them of that fact. If the experimenter was honest.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 20, 2009 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Yup, you are right, bc. I wiki-ed it and melange and Water of Life are two slightly different sandworm byproducts with different psychotropic effects. I've always wondered about the amount and variety of recreational (and professional) pharmaceuticals in Herbert's work. Makes one suspicious.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 20, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, we'd have to determine whether tidal forces would provide enough internal Lunar friction to generate heat, or whether there's enough uranium in the lunar core to support long-term chain reactions and the resultant decay heat...

Nicht war?

And we wouldn't tell the sims because that would be part of the experiment, of course.

And I stand with bc --

a) Shai-Hulud (or Shaitan, mayhap)
b) Thumper
c) Water of Life

Hodgman killed, really! I laughed all the way through.

I AM a nerd, after all.

*wondering-how-I'll-get-through-the-weekend-without-jogging-and-slightly-fearing-my-first-physical-therapy-session Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 20, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Current home page link:

"All Atwitter but Twitter at Correspondents' Dinner"

Exsqueeze me?

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 20, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Fog at this time of year? Sheeesh.

Cat pee. What an interesting subject! There is no carpet in the Denizens' home, I'm allergic to cats and we have the Liquid Cat pooling around. So I never had a carpet problem but I had a car seat generously soaked by a scary cat. Despite soaking it with industrial detergent, washing it with every imaginable consumer product that seat still stunk of cat pee in hot humid weather. Thankfully it was the passenger seat that was soaked... I sold that '79 Dodge Aspen (slanted six!) for $300 in 1987 without a word regarding the funny smell that summer might bring.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 20, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Windy in the high country this morning. I slept in till 7:30, woohoo! Still on my first cup of tea...Sorry I didn't get breakfast in the ready room.

I gotta go back and watch the speeches, sounds like fun. I've never read the Dune books, but the Geekdottir is a fan.

Posted by: slyness | June 20, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Guess what? It's raining! HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha...

Gonna pack up and head "down the owe-shun" today. Looking forward to a relaxing week. My sister's house is actually both halves of a duplex, so even though there will be 18 or so people there at times during the week, we should have a little space and time to ourselves. At least two kitchens and two fridges should help us manage.

Oh... Daughter and her friends made a cake last night and the remainder is on the counter. Help yourself. I'll put the coffee on now.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 20, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

No rain, no rainbow.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 20, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I knew you would.

slyness, one of the reasons I appreciate Herbert's Dune is because of the grand audacity of it. He takes the classic messiah story and wraps it in a very complex and highly detailed fictional universe that is based on what we know today, with religion, politics, spirituality, technology, family, war, planetary ecology and environmentalism, and economics as factors that affect and drive the plot and characters.

For a 13-year old with lots of time on his hands and an active mind, it was pretty wonderful. I read my late grandfather's copy at the time (he had passed away not too long before, and it was one of his favorite books, too), and treasure it to this day.

I cannot speak to any pharmaceuticals Herbert may or may not have been on while he wrote the book. Seems to me that there's a lot of research and thought that went into it, whatever the case.


Posted by: -bc- | June 20, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle! Would be at the farmers market by now if I hadn't so thoroughly enjoyed following all the links from two days worth of boodling.

gwe-best of luck. We have had good results with professionals removing cat odor (not a normal state of affairs-ancient and/or sick kitties), but a serious look at the general state of the carpet is always good. A little spent on new carpet helps a quick sale.

Arrived at the Hip Urban Loft in time to hear the closing strains of Allen Toussaint's set in the park at the Jazz Festival last night. Today music in the park runs from noon-10:00PM so I will partake in bits. Will skip the late night sets at nearby clubs. I have to admit last night it was more than a little fun to drive right past the people hunting for parking spots, or walking from the hinterlands, to pull into our garage just a half block from the venues. In an alternate universe I fear I'm a jerk.

Esperanza Spalding is the headliner tonight. You may have already seen her at the White House

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 20, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

F.Bitten... lucky dog

Posted by: russianthistle | June 20, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning all,raining here now but hoping it stops before too long.

Turned on the US Open and will be watching on and off all weekend, good day yesterday for Canadians Weir and Ames, and an amazing day for young Taylor the amateur.

Last night eldest went to the music festival with her friends - a first - without parental supervision, well except me dropping them off and picking up. A curfew was given and just prior to pick up I received a call to confirm the spot and stating that I would not be driving the others home as they has arranged to stay later and another parent would drive them home. Eldest did not ask to stay later or complain that the curfew was too early - I was really quite proud.

Not sure if the others chose to go home in another car as after a random st*pid comment by one of the teens I preceeded to give them a short history lesson on events in WWII. I asked later if I went over the top but my daughter said no I just explained it to them.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 20, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Good for you, dmd!

We're back from the farmers market, where we were too late to get spinach and eggs from our usual vendor, darn it. I bought green beans for supper instead.

Loved Obama's speech, it's just delightful to have a president who can do a comedy routine (as a real comedy routine) as well as a serious policy speech.

Mr. T is out working on his steps project. I’ve got daylilies to plant. Later...

Posted by: slyness | June 20, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

How did Slyness get the funky font?

Posted by: dmd2 | June 20, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

For anyone planning to mix up the garlic powder, cayenne pepper and soap concoction to repel varmints - be aware the the aroma, while iffy for the varmints, is a definite repellant for humans. Yikes!

A milky sky with hints of sunshine now and then but very humid. It just dawned on me last night that we still have the winter blanket on the bed. It's never been there this late in the season and it's coming off this weekend, even if we freeze at night.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 20, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Thought I would throw together a soup tonite. Any recommendations? Looking for a soup that hold up as a meal (evening or lunch type).

Posted by: russianthistle | June 20, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

John Hodgman and Ana Marie Cox together:

A wonk dream couple.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 20, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, dmd! Pushed the wrong key on the netbook. Fortunately, rebooting takes care of the problem. I have small hands, but the keyboard on the little 'puter is a challenge even for me.

Posted by: slyness | June 20, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Did you see Hodgman's "speech?"
funny line about limos.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 20, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Problem? I think it looks cool, slyness.

I’ve got daylilies to plant. Later...

Posted by: -TBG- | June 20, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. It's spitting here, can't make up its mind. We're going down to the boat soon to do some work. I guess it's better when it is overcast and cooler, rather than in blazing sun.

Got one tomato that has changed color, now a nice pink. Won't be long now.

I've mentioned my cruise with the legendary Anson back in the 1740s. Well, today is the anniversary of our greatest haul, probably the most lucrative hour and a half I ever spent in my long nautical career. (The Admiralty let me keep damn little of it, the tight-fisted [higly nuanced nautical expletives involving both obscure ship terminology as well as complex anatomical references].)

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

June 20, 1743: One of history’s largest treasure captures is made as British Capt. George Anson’s HMS Centurion has sailed halfway round the world to capture the Manila-to-Acapulco treasure galleon Nuestra Senora de Covadonga in the Philippines after a 90-minute fight. The treasure was valued at more than half a million pounds (in 1743 currency) and was paraded through London in 32 wagons.
1898: During the Spanish-American War, Navy ships commanded by Capt. Henry Glass open fire on the Spanish possession of Guam, preliminary to the island’s capture. He ceases fire moments later when a Spanish dispatch boat sails out to apologize to Glass for failing to return his “salute,” since the garrison on the island had no ammunition.
1908: Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss becomes only the third American ever to fly a powered aircraft (after the Wright Brothers) when his June Bug flies 1,266 feet.
1941: The Army changes the name of its aviation branch, the Army Air Corps, to the Army Air Force.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 20, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

New Kit, BTW.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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