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Gaming the System (cont.)

Friday morning news roundup:

Here's one in the Times that has my hackles in a knot that may take the rest of the day to unravel. It's an echo of Jon Stewart's line about the market investors operate in and the "real" market operated by, and for the benefit of, the Wall Street insiders. Remind me why this is legal? Why should my 401K, my 529 account and my other pitiful investments have structural leakage that benefits insiders who know how to game the system?

as new marketplaces have emerged, PCs have been unable to compete with Wall Street's computers. Powerful algorithms -- "algos," in industry parlance -- execute millions of orders a second and scan dozens of public and private marketplaces simultaneously. They can spot trends before other investors can blink, changing orders and strategies within milliseconds.

High-frequency traders often confound other investors by issuing and then canceling orders almost simultaneously. Loopholes in market rules give high-speed investors an early glance at how others are trading. And their computers can essentially bully slower investors into giving up profits -- and then disappear before anyone even knows they were there.

High-frequency traders also benefit from competition among the various exchanges, which pay small fees that are often collected by the biggest and most active traders -- typically a quarter of a cent per share to whoever arrives first. Those small payments, spread over millions of shares, help high-speed investors profit simply by trading enormous numbers of shares, even if they buy or sell at a modest loss.


In case you hadn't heard, Obama's big health-care-reform initiative is under the weather. The Democrats are divided [see Von Drehle's piece in Time on a Blue Dog Democrat in Kansas]. Obama has backed off his August deadline. Poll numbers are going South for the president. Some critics say the public doesn't trust the government to lower health-care costs and not pile up ever greater budget deficits (the CBO analysis didn't help Obama's cause).

Politico makes a key point today: There is no single proposal around which Obama can attempt to rally support. There's a legislative mish-mash out there.

"The caboose is pulling the train. The message can't pull the policy. It's awfully hard to rally public support around policy that doesn't exist yet," said Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. "What people have heard are the aspirations of health reform, and what they haven't heard is what health reform is really going to look like and who's going to pay for it."

Meanwhile the lobbyists are swarming. Some support legislation, some are desperate to kill it -- should be a nice economic boost for DC as they strategize at the Capital Grille.


When you have time, sit down and enjoy Laura Blumenfeld's Post magazine piece on the training of Secret Service agents. Among other things they have to learn to "be a meat shield."

The baby is sitting on Amanda's lap, gnawing a teething ring. Dan is mulling Mixon's lesson, which he's not yet internalized.

But the words "meat shield" spark recognition in Amanda's soft eyes. When she was pregnant in Buffalo, "I slipped and fell on the ice. As I was going down, I was thinking, 'Don't fall to hurt the baby. Don't fall on your stomach.' I didn't care if I broke an arm, I had to protect the baby."

Amanda sprained her wrist. She used her body as a shield.

Dan turns to his wife, nodding, as if the tumblers in his head were finally grinding in the right combination. Click: meat shield.

"It's the instinct, the mother instinct," Dan says. "When the cubs are in danger, the mother bear gets big, as Mr. Mixon says."

Being a Secret Service agent might be a stoic, macho job.

It is also a little bit like being pregnant with the president.


You must see this: Dewayne Wise racing to the wall in the 9th inning to save Mark Buehrle's perfect game. Wow!

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 24, 2009; 9:36 AM ET
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I can't wait for health care reform. OUr son had a trip to the ER over an asthma attack and the charge for 2 ampules of albuterol came to $175, ea.. We pay 10 bucks for two dozen of the same. On top of that, the MD ordered a chest x-ray. the total for that trip was nearly 1.5k. Flip chart medicine and the need for teams of MD's to treat you, in order to meet the needs of liability insurance is what needs fixin', among other things. YMMV.

Posted by: -jack- | July 24, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

What a catch by Wise!! A perfecto. Mercy.

Posted by: mfigiel-krueger | July 24, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I have a chronic condition for which the standard treatment was completely ineffective. Recently I consulted a doctor who practices alternative medicine and have been amazed with the positive results. He was taking my insurance but stopped because they hassled him about the time he spends with patients, so now I have to pay and file my own claims and will have less back because he's out of network.

Let's put doctors on salary and pay for outcomes. I realize that will be a culture shift but we can do it. And outcomes must include patient feedback, not just test reviews.

Posted by: slyness | July 24, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I just finished that article about the Secret Service and am amazed. (And I feel very badly for that young woman who didn't pass.)

I know several individuals who work for the Secret Service. Really, I had no idea what they went through.

I also loved that "pregnant with the president" bit.

Regarding health care, I believe that it is entirely proper for a civilized nation to spend a lot on this. Keeping citizens alive is kind of a primary goal.

The question is how best to spend this money efficiently, especially when one thinks about those pesky hidden costs. And, of course, I am no expert on this. But what annoys me is that so many of the critics aren't either. So much of the opposition has nothing to do with the specific proposals, but are instead part of a blanket opposition to all things Obama. This is hardly helpful.

As far as electronic stock manipulation, well, I think this is just another situation where the government needs to work very hard to keep regulations one step ahead of abusive practices. It is a hard challenge. Smart people should always keep a certain portion of their savings in something rock solid.

Which is why I am investing heavily in little hats for dogs.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 24, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm with ya, RD_P. I'm still counting down the time before I qualify for Medicare.

So-called "socialized" medicine (which it really isn't -- but reality bites like that won't ever convince the "don't bother me with details" crowd) tends to work, and work well. In Sweden, when I lived there some 30 years ago, the system was (and remains) a two-tiered system, where there was a mix of public/private. The taxes (high) took care of the public provision of health care services, and you could go private if you wanted to, but you had to pay extra. I did that from time to time, actually, but not always. It was fine!

Health care reform in this country is a must -- I'm finding that those who are against it have what they want, but don't want anybody else to have it. Sibling rivalry, perhaps?


Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I resent the implication that only the Chosen would wish to Tweet a prayer to the Western Wall.

"New service lets Jews tweet a prayer to God" -

I'm not a member of the tribe, but still might wish to seek supernatural intervention from time to time. I am circumcised, and don't eat much shellfish. Does that help?

Posted by: bobsewell | July 24, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' Boodle,
I wonder what ol' Buehrle's gonna buy D-Wise for that catch.

The pregnant with the President line is a classic.

Posted by: Southwester | July 24, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I always like Nate. He's, so, quantitative.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 24, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

On the radio this morning I heard Sgt. Crowley (the guy who arrested Skip Gates) respond to his conduct being called stupid by the President. He said, among other things, that he gave Professor Gates numerous opportunities to calm down, even waving his handcuffs around and clearly outlining the consequences if Gates didn't quiet down right away. This was his defense, but as I heard this I just thought, why would you do that? Why not just apologize and leave? It seemed clear to me that the Sgt. Crowley decided that he would not leave the situation without "winning" by either getting Gates to shut up or putting him in the back of a squad car. Could Gates have avoid jail by calming down? Of course he could have. Should he have needed to in the circumstance? No. Would Gates have been arrested were he a white man? At this point, I don't think Sgt. Crowley is really racist, but he should have taken a better appraisal of the situation before arresting a man like Professor Gates and realized the way this would look to other people. That's why his behavior was stupid.

Posted by: Southwester | July 24, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Jon Stewart:

Posted by: Southwester | July 24, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

SW, I agree with your 11:04 post completely.

Now, onto business. Alerting computer-type boodlers! I just tried to get onto the PC side of my Mac using VM Fusion (which has always worked since it was installed a few weeks ago), but just now it can't seem to find my Windows XP. I browsed and found a bunch of XP files but I don't know which one I need, if any.

Any advice?

*waiting with bated breath, but still (of course) continuing to breathe*

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Joel, the article about market manipulation was interesting, but it's not clear to me how any of that would affect your long-term investments. Those with .01 second lag computers can beat those with .1 second lag computers. Okay, so if I'm dollar cost averaging, over the long term for my kids' education, so what? What I got from the article is that people with really fast computers can effectively skim off the top of the other day-traders. It's very interesting, and thanks for posting the link.

Posted by: crogers23 | July 24, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I can think of only two occasions on which I actually had bated breath. I don't recommend it as a strategy for waiting on something much desired.

I always wondered about what sort of training could teach people to work against their own best interest and safety. Now. I. Know.

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Anyone that has ever dealt with the police know that they have the upper hand, and by golly they will win, either by handcuffing you or putting you in the squad car. Their word is law. This guy just wanted to shut the professor up. He intended to win, no matter what. And now that he's won, and has been called on for winning, he's still trying to win because this time, it's still a Black guy. And he would rather eat you know what than give in. He doesn't care what his title is. The face is the same.

And putting all these nice words in it doesn't change the color of the face. Get real, people.

This is exactly why we need a national conversation on race, and stop with the play acting. We need to get real, and call it what it is. We've covered this stuff up so long and worked so hard at covering it up, and keep thinking we're going to get a different outcome. Crazy.

We need healing, and we can only get through that by apologizing and seeking forgiveness through God, and working to heal the hurt. It is called moving forward, and churches aren't the only ones that have a problem with this.

Wouldn't our country and people be so much better if we could find common ground, and stop going back to that pile of stuff we've done.

President Obama is our common ground. We need to help him. I thought it was really brave of him to take the situation on instead of lying and avoiding it. We need more bravery and courage for the ugly and evil.

Just sayin.

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The New York Times article on computer trading was stunningly incomplete. Ever since stock exchanges have been in existence (or at least since the SEC Act of 1934) there has been a ban on "frontrunning." In the old school context, this prohibited a broker from looking at his order book and buying securities that he knew that his customers were placing big orders for.

As the article describes, some firms are being given a .03 second preview of all electronic orders before they are visible to the general public. Those firms would tell you that they are not frontrunning, because those trades are not ones that they are brokering and this is "publicly available knowledge." (Just for point of reference, in .03 seconds a computer that runs at 4 gigahertz can complete 120 million "instructions"; while that's not exactly the same as exectuing trades, in many of these instances it's probably not off by many orders of magnitude. The article describes these program trades as initiating then cancelling trades for thousands or millions of shares in that brief interval.)

The frustrating thing about the NYT article, is that it never addressed the legality of this practice in light of the frontrunning issue. Nor was the reporter bothered to seek any sort of SEC or other regulatory comment. What they have allowed here is a huge and legal wealth transfer from ordinary investors to Goldman Sachs et al. I was shocked that the reporter didn't have the sophistication to take the article to that next level.

Someone above tried to make the point that "if you're a long-term investor" getting shorted a cent per share on every trade shouldn't make any difference. While there is some truth to that argument, I'm not sure that we should be condoning this type of activity. You wouldn't allow for a store or restaurant to charge you an extra dollar on every meal without your knowledge. That is effectively what is happening here.

I'll be interested in seeing whether there is any outrage over this, or whether people have just had enough of Wall Street foibles, and let this story slip away.

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Cassandra. I think this debate has brought out a lot of confused attitudes to authority, race, and what our rights are in any given encounter.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I have read the police report and news coverage and various editorials. I am becoming convinced that there is an -ism at work here, but it's not racism -- it's classism. All us educated folk hear Gates' story and we see him as one of our own and we take it for granted that his superior mental capabilities, evidenced by his academic status, mean that he behaved appropriately while dealing with a slope-browed and jack-booted thug. Perhaps it is just my upbringing on the mean streets of the suburbs, but my impression of the whole situation is that Gates acted like a self-important twit who tried to pull rank and cow a police officer in the process of fulfilling his legitimate duties.

My understanding is that it is not just socially nice but that it is my legal responsibility to cooperate with the police in the legitimate pursuit of their legal responsibilities. What I have heard is that Gates behaved pugnaciously and uncooperatively from his first words; the cop gave him plenty of opportunity to cool down (long before he took out the handcuffs); the cop did attempt to depart from the incident and was pursued by Gates; and that Gates continued his behavior in a public place in a manner that derided the authority of the police in general and this officer in particular.

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the general public outnumbers the police by at least 100 to one. Anyone who has seen "The Magnificent Seven" or "A Bug's Life" should understand that without the perception of power and authority, the heavily armed but heavily outnumbered group cannot prevail. Admittedly, the outnumbered group in those movies was the bad guys, but the strategic principle still stands.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

No, I don't think Gates behaved appropriately. Understandably, but not appropriately.

The question is what should the officer's response have been?

I knew a guy in HS, who was a fun actor ad a nice guy. Unfortunately he was tall skinny, and looked like he was in the IRA.

Once he re-enacted in a scene how he felt when he was stopped by the police, just walking along the street, because he looked like a stoner. The fear was real.

Now, let's say he protested he was innocent. Should that be taken as non-cooperation with the police and grounds for arrest? After all, he's not carrying a decibelmeter and can't prove he wasn't yelling.

And even so, some people speak loudly because they are hearing impaired, and that can be taken as yelling.

I'm sorry, I cannot say that yelling at a cop, however irritating, is in itself enough to be considered disorderly conduct in most cases.

Because if it were, I could find myself in the tank without knowing what just was it I did.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I am in your camp, Tim. I find that skirting around power is a kind of power itself. Biking teaches us this: right of way is nothing compared with a few tons of steel at 40MPH. Pedestrians know this too.

RD -- 'skirt' here might be punny.

For every authoritarian rigourous officer are at least five who are decent people who code switch as needed between exercise of power and exercise of restraint.

Still, the race conversation must take place.

The class notion is interesting, Tim. I am grateful to have grown up in mixed class community, assembled by habit of ethnicity and religious identity. I think our segregation now of neighborhoods and communities by income creates that more Brit-ley problem: some people are better than other people and we know this by clothing, accent, position, neighborhood, discourse, car type, etc.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse


While that is certainly part of the dynamic at work here, there is no denying that there are innumerable cops out there who can't stand, for a second, to have anyone challenge their authority. I've seen it personally too many times in too many different situations to deny it exists.

I understand that being a police officer is a difficult and dangerous job. But, theoretically, the police are professionals and have the necessary training to deescalate the situation. I hardly think that the officer's waving his handcuffs at Gates constitutes trying to give him adequate warning. I would argue that that gesture was escalating the tension significantly.

There is no question that by the time they were on the street, the cop knew that he was in no personal, physical danger. He should have gotten in his car and left. Plain and simple. If that isn't enough for you to conclude that that would have been the best decision, I think that we can all agree that the fact that the charges were dropped supports the case that the arrest was unwarranted.

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

My expectation is that ANYONE behaving as Gates did, would stand a decent chance of being arrested for disorderly conduct. As Ivansmom has noted, the term is nebulous and would not stand scrutiny in court. I believe that that isn't really the point of the exercise. The point is to establish social order by giving police officers a legitimate capability to harmlessly remove a person from the scene. While abuse obviously is possible and has happened in the past, and continues to happen in many places today, the fact that it CAN be abused does not mean that it IS abused in every case or even in most cases. We only hear about the fraction of cases where abuse is in question.

We allow -- heck, we require -- police officers to carry lethal weapons. Those weapons obviously can be abused, with dire consequences, but we are satisfied that we have procedures to prevent or limit those abuses relative to the benefits of arming the police. The same is true for the discretionary powers of police officers to establish and maintain legitimate authority. If you don't like for them to have that capability at all, then push for the elimination of "disorderly conduct" as a crime, so that police have no discretionary powers to control unruly individuals. I look forward to reading the news about events in the U.S. from my position as an expatriate, since I wouldn't want to live in the country that would result from depriving the police of this power.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

And let us take the example of an autistic man confronted in this same situation and prone to reacting to stress by flapping and odd vocalizations and repetitions.

Or what about Tourettes'?

Under stress, they can and will tic out very strongly. Not all of those tics are verbal, but I've been around people with Tourettes'; it's not easy to recognize some of those physical mannerisms as Tourettes'.

So let's forget the whole idea that Gates is an articulate man who presumably has the grip of reason over his body at all times-- which is what you're arguing---

And focus on the fact he identified himself as disabled, as evinced by the cane, and also the rightful owner of this house.

Should he have to give the cop a full list of his disabilities (panic attacks, hearing loss, diabetes, whatnot) for the cop to cut him some slack for yelling and not being able to calm down when upset?

The answer is legally, no. In such a scenario where he could in fact prove that his reactions were normal for him, given his disability, it would be highly possible to sue for discrimination on the basis of disability in that case.

Like Southwester said, why didn't the cop just back off? That's what Gates wanted, nothing else.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

No, Tim, I don't think anyone should be arrested when he's in his own house, and has shown ID to prove it, no matter how reluctantly. I don't think Gates responded very well, but the only person he offended with his loud and tumultuous behavior was the cop. It's not right for the police to arrest someone just because they can. What was the officer hoping to do? Save society from the dangerous Professor Gates, or teach Gates a lesson about who is really in charge?

Michael Kinsley has an interesting piece on this today.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"If you don't like for them to have that capability at all, then push for the elimination of "disorderly conduct" as a crime, so that police have no discretionary powers to control unruly individuals."

I'm not a big fan of the reductio ad absurdum / slippery slope argument. No one is suggesting that the police be given no discretionary power. I think the suggestion is that they train to exercise good judgment. I don't think there's a question that Gates acted like a horse's a$$, but I also don't think that allowing the police to put you in a squad car and take you down to the station, effectively at will, is a reasonable tradeoff for "establishing their authority."

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how the magicians of finance create profit out of thin air. Give them a 30ms lead time and everybody else contributes 21B a year to their profits. Everyone else pays a little more for their shares and bonds to contribute to the Destitute Wall Street Brokers' Fund. I just love that.

It was the same with those securitized bonds, debts and mortgage. The magicians created an additional risk out of nothing then made money insuring that risk, thus hiding it, and trading it around. Amazing I'm telling you. The best and brightest minds went to Wall Street in the past 10 years and it shows. I just wish it would be good for the economy as a whole but clearly, it's not.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 24, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I believe Dr. Gates to be a good person. Sometimes good people who have lived rightly and with some luck avoiding stepping in #S%^&, might be taken aback at the personal moment of injustice and dangerous stupidity (enough to portion out to both Dr. Gates and the officer).

I am finding at midlife that some really, really, really bad ^%$#S@ lands on the nicest people.

Common to most of our childlike thinking is this pattern:

if I am good, then good things (not bad things) will happen.

The other pattern is that life is fair.

Wow. Often not. Neither fair or good.

Thinking about what would have happened to an angry white guy or battle-axe white women or Latino teen boy or skinny hippie white girl....hard to compare specific incidents of alternate worlds. Statistics is always the study of a population, and not the single data point. But, I would think that disorderly conduct charges can be looked at nationwide or statewide by these population subtypes.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Just as an aside, you don't have a legal responsibility to cooperate with an officer who is legitimately pursuing his legal duties. As a bystander, you have no legal duty whatsoever, to the great frustration of law enforcement and prosecutors. Even as a witness, you don't have to cooperate with the cops. If you actively obstruct them you might risk arrest, but just not cooperating isn't against the law.

Gates was in a slightly different situation: he was neither a bystander nor a witness but a suspect. As a suspect you don't have to cooperate either, but you greatly increase your chance of arrest, at least until you are cleared by investigation. According to all accounts Gates did cooperate: he provided the necessary ID to prove he was the homeowner and legitimately on the premises. Nobody ever said that "cooperation" has to be pleasant, quiet or free from anger.

There is also no law against asking for an officer's name and badge number, particularly after an unpleasant encounter. In fact, citizens are encouraged to do so by law enforcment institutions (not necessarily by the officers themselves). Gates was well within his rights to ask the officer for his identification in order to make a complaint about what he perceived as unfair treatment. This comes with the territory for the officer and he should be used to it. Often these complaints amount to nothing. Asking for an officer's identification is not in itself disorderly conduct, even if you ask really loudly, on your porch.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"It was the same with those securitized bonds, debts and mortgage. The magicians created an additional risk out of nothing then made money insuring that risk, thus hiding it, and trading it around."

I don't think that this instance and the creation of MBS and CDOs are analagous. I think this is much more insidious. This is effectively arbitrage. By having the 30ms advantage and bigger, faster computers, these banks are able to make trades that are effectively riskless to them. By allowing them to play by different rules than the average investor, the federal government is sanctioning this behavior and guaranteeing them a profit.

With MBSs and CDOs, and notwithstanding the complicity of the rating agencies, individuals still had the option to buy or not buy those securities. In addition, many of the banks got severely burned by keeping those securities in their inventory. Many other people (institutional-type people more than individuals) did their homework and decided that they didn't like what they saw, so they didn't buy.

In this instance, you're paying the banks' traders whether you want to or not. There's no other way to buy stock.

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

An analogy: some years ago, before we understood the horrors it entails, we had a cat's front paws declawed. That took away the cat's gentle tools of persuasion. When washing the cat or doing something else that we felt necessary, but the cat disliked, we learned that we had taken away the cat's ability to say "I love you, but I don't like what you're doing." Instead, he had to go straight from relative calm to the use of his big guns -- his hind claws and his teeth, his killing weapons.

Take away a cop's discretionary power to enforce public order, and you are declawing him but not neutralizing him. So, his only choices are to surrender authority (and enforcing public authority is what we pay him to do), or pull out and use his nightstick or his actual gun.

If you or I lose face or suffer a blow to our authority, we can slink away and rehearse all the smart things we should have said. A cop who loses public respect -- and more importantly, degrades the authority of his fellow cops -- must deal with the idea that he has just increased the chances of himself or a fellow cop being taken down and maybe killed by a crowd of people who are more physical than Henry Louis Gates. Gates is not a physical threat to that officer, but the witnesses outside the house might be, or the people with whom they talk.

And all the criticism of the officer for not being as professional and nonconfrontational as we'd like -- go read the police report. Somebody yesterday posted a link to it in the previous Boodle. Even making allowances for the cop making a self-serving interpretation, the cop opened the incident professionally, he gave Gates a lot of chances when they were in private, and he gave him several chances after Gates chose to move the confrontation outside by pursuing the cop. The cop DID behave professionally and attempted to de-escalate the situation. Gates is the one who refused the olive branch. In my view, he really left the cop with no choice.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Howie Kurtz has some interesting bits on the Gates issue in Media Notes:
Oh, and now the Cambridge police are demanding that Obama apologize to them. Sigh. Makes you want to treat them all like 5-year-olds and put them in the corner.

Now, I must get on with my day.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ivansmom. One more thing - when Chris Matthews was talking about this, he said that Gates' mistake was going outside - that he could not have been arrested for disorderly conduct in his house. Is that correct? If so, it's a good rule to keep in mind, I guess.

And another thing - I was wondering why another of the 6 or 7 cops on the scene didn't come in to help...then I read there was another one in the house, but he has an Italian last name. Maybe it would have been smarter to have the African-American cop try to calm Gates down. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"If you or I lose face or suffer a blow to our authority, we can slink away and rehearse all the smart things we should have said. A cop who loses public respect -- and more importantly, degrades the authority of his fellow cops"

There's exactly where we disagree. Your base assumption is that the cops' authority can only be preserved by exercising force. I think that in many cases respect for the police comes from their not exercising force, even when they may have that "right" (or at least the ability to slap a disorderly charge on someone).

This is a great example. If the cop had just chosen to walk away, we likely wouldn't know anything about this interaction. Instead, it has done much more harm to this officer individually, the Cambridge police specifically, and police departments generally. In the minds of many this action has undermined their authority (because, right or wrong, people have reinforced their ideas that enforcement is capricious, if not racist) much more than walking away would have.

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Martin Sheen et alia are always being hauled off for their causes. The cop probably thought he was doing the good professor a favor!

Posted by: bobsewell | July 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Veering slightly on-Kit, I heard last night that applications to law schools are up nationwide, and the quality of applicants is higher. This seems attributed to the state of the economy. I guess all those smart-as-a-whippersnappers who'd been angling for millions on Wall Street are now thudding back to earth and applying for law school.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, the world can always use more law school-educated waiters!

Posted by: bobsewell | July 24, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Some of them could even go into law enforcement. Imagine that, a cop who knows the law!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 24, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The person acting badly here was Dr. Gates. He called the officer a racist for responding to the call and following procedure. Seems to me the one who interjected race into the situation was Dr. Gates.

I know hot plus tired plus hungry equals a tantrum for a child. Shouldn't an adult act a little better?

There are plenty of racist people in all walks of life. To assume that the individual you're dealing with is one doesn't help. That Dr. Gates ended up in cuffs is no surprise to me.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ah, if life ran on "shoulds", there wouldn't be any need for police, judges, or politicans, LiT.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

But, LiT, consider that "tired" in this context was off a looooooooong plane trip from China. I know that my flight(s) to and from Africa took approximately 24 hours, and it has to be at least that long from China. It's exhausting, and I was just a little shy of his age when I made that trip. It's exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. Trips like that make you feel like you've been run over many, many bazillions of times. It's harrowing, trust me!

I think that cooler heads should have indeed prevailed. Once the officer knew that Dr. Gates was who he said he was and where he said he was (i.e., owner of the house he was in), that should have been it. Both parties still seem to be not willing to shake hands and go on with their lives, but eventually it will all be over, and there will be yet another incident for the media, bloggers and others to obsess over. My fantasy is that eventually they will meet over coffee to discuss the matter and write a book about it.

So, no Mac people out there to help me out? Okay, then. I'll see what I can do otherwise.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Teddy Roosevelt would have simply taxed the fastest 10% of traders 90% of income and be done with it. I'd buy that for a dollar. This is why I recommended the book "Complexity" although it focused on the algorithms, not the speed per se. (Whose style book we using: focused or focussed??

The police should have training on what to do when people are screaming so loudly they are obviously incapable of hearing the officer's speech communication. Seems like the situation arises often and they need better options than "always arrest." Training, training, training.

I thought the Secret Service article was exceptionally good. Since I was a kid, they have been my heroes. The article brought back that feeling.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 24, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey. It is still my responsibility to be civil and wise and take care of myself even if depleted, exhausted, tired, and my goodness this fits now, AGING.

Who is as good as taking care of me than, well, me?

I am not justifying poor policework, here.

But my goodness! Personal responsibility on the part of all parties can improve civility, avoid lawsuits, and even save a life.

(I may be slammed; fortifying myself with the knowledge that I do have two quarts of rhubarb put up. That will comfort. And, even if you disagree with me, come on over for vanilla gelato topped with rhubarbatty goodness.)

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Back at the kit, Joel's link to the beautiful catch by Wise has been taken down, saying something like "this video belongs to MLB and you can't watch it on YouTube nah nah nah!"

BUT you can watch it here:

Posted by: nellie4 | July 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim

Gates was in his home. That's it. He was home, and had proof he was home. I'm leary of dragging folks out of their home, and the public saying this is right. Now if there had been someone else there, perhaps we could look at it differently.

Why don't we just make policemen gods, and be through with it? That way we don't have to justify their actions. We could go so far and make all the population of one color gods and the rest of us whatever is left? Think that would solve the problem?

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Since it's come back up...

Cassandra, you seem to have gone further than anybody else in calling Crowley a racist - that he would rather eat you-know-what than give in to a black guy, no matter his title (not sure if you're referring to Gates or Obama).

But isn't it at least possible that this isn't a race issue? That the white cop was infatuated with his own power, and might have arrested a white friend of Bush or Clinton in the same circumstances, and when his actions were called stupid by them, would demand an apology?

Why not keep allegations of racism out of it, at least until it's been demonstrated to be the case?

(Note that I'm not signing onto the theory that Crowley was infatuated with his own power, merely offering an alternate scenario that seems equally plausible.)

I don't know that "pursued" is the term I'd use to describe Gates following the officer onto the porch. But certainly, by both his account and the officer's, he did follow him out.

Also, for the record, this is apparently the applicable law, from

A disorderly person is defined as one who:

with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creates a risk thereof engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

I don't know if you can prove that Gates's purpose was to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or that he was recklessly creating a risk thereof. But certainly it's not the officer's job to prove it. That's what the courts are for.

It's conceivable to me that this was a defensible arrest. The charges being dropped doesn't have much to do with whether the arrest was proper or not - that's another bit of discretion we allow in our justice system.

And the larger point yesterday (at least my larger point) was that it's a bad idea for Obama to weigh in on the issue, particularly at this stage. By saying he naturally tends to side with his friend, who is accusing the officer of racism, Obama is at least associating himself with that charge. If it turns out not to be the case (or really, even if it turns out that it is), it reflects poorly on him, just as it reflects poorly on Al Sharpton. (Although Sharpton has made a career out of it, and as far as I can recall, this is the first time Obama has done it. Even with the New Yorker cartoon during the campaign, I don't think there were accusations of racism from his camp.)

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Just reread my comment and would like to clarify - Cassandra, by "anybody else" I was referring to any of the regulars. You don't even come close to some of the things the trolls have said about either side.

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

And the biggest problem with this incident is that Obama sided with Mr Gates, who behaved poorly, and casted the officer, who behaved professionally and within his accordance in his duties as a law official, as acting" "stupidly". And the worse part of it is, he expressed his opinion under the context of racism as if it were the officer's bigotry that prompted the incident.

Conservatives are going to have a field day with this one. Count on it.

But what coulda or shoulda been done is immaterial at this point. Major gaff for Obama. It's time for damage control right now.

I'm betting somebody will hear an apology from the President by the end of this weekend. Any takers?

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | July 24, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"It's conceivable to me that this was a defensible arrest. The charges being dropped doesn't have much to do with whether the arrest was proper or not - that's another bit of discretion we allow in our justice system."

It may be "defensible," but if so, it's really only because of parsing words in the law. I'll grant it's possible Gates was "annoying." I highly doubt his actions truly constituted any of the others.

And I disagree that the charges being dropped has no relevance. I think that the attitude of prosecutors is likely to try to support a police officer in situations where there's some grey area. I think they knew that this one wasn't winnable--which definitely evidences the extreme borderline nature of the arrest.

Posted by: Awal | July 24, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The public hooraw would be far different in character if it had been Ron Paul who got hauled out of his own house.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 24, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I've been there. (I have enough frequent flyer miles to choke a horse, and have traveled overseas a bunch of times, twice with a small child). His hot/tired/hungry doesn't fly though. He's an adult. I once sat down on my suitcase (with my backpack on) and came to terms with the fact that I had two more flights and a train left in order to get home. Tears were involoved. Not very adult of me, but I didn't call anyone a racist, and certainly treated the man who came to my assistance as best I could (he didn't speak English but gave me some water and an apple).

But today, I am happy, as DC and I just put a white peach pie in the oven. My favorite.

I'll try to let it cool before we dig in.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

--> Gates was not arrested in his house. He was arrested in his yard, in a public space, with plenty of witnesses available to address the accuracy of the officer's and Gates' testimony on events. We have not yet heard from them. Until we do, we should accept and support the judgment of a man that we have duly appointed to be an officer of the law -- our representative to the people. Professional until proven guilty.

--> At no point in the police report does the officer identify Gates as a suspect. Early on, he states that he accepted Gates' ID as the home-owner. Note that Gates was pugnacious from the beginning, as soon as the officer identified himself and the reason for his presence. The call to the police described two men attempting a break-in. The officer asked if there were anyone else present and Gates refused to answer. Where was "the other man"? *We* know that he was the cab driver. The officer could not have known that on the scene.

--> Wilbrod_Gnome, Gates is not identified as having any of the neurological or other disabilities that you keep bringing up. I appreciate those issues, more than you have granted me credit for, but they are irrelevant to this situation.

--> *I* am not the one arguing a reductio ad absurdum regarding the police officer's behavior. I state that he applied his discretion, using a police power whose purpose obviously is not to put people in jail but to restrain extremities of behavior. *I* am not the one who leaps from a perfectly reasonable critique of his using this power, straight to a declaration that he is drunk with power, that he is a racist, that he is stupid and ill-educated, and that he is abusing his authority to support his fragile ego. Many of you *are* doing those things. Either you grant the value of the police power, recognizing that there will be occasional errors that require review and remedy, or you don't. Nothing that the officer did is sufficient to justify the calls for his suspension, firing, etc.

--> I do not state that the police can maintain authority only by exerting force. Go and look at the police report. Go and look at the police report. Go and look at the police report. (repetition intentional) The officer tried all the other tactics that people who weren't there continue to wisely instruct that he should have used. Gates acted like a complete ass and specifically chose to publicly degrade the authority of the police officer and the police in general. Everyone keeps saying that the cop should have just walked away. He tried. Gates is the one who pushed events.


Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse


--> Folks keep saying that the officer should have recognized the amazing famousness of Gates and therefore not arrested him for a petty and stupid crime. (a) The officer did not arrest Gates on suspicion of such a crime, he arrested Gates on the basis of behavior exhibited directly within the officer's presence. (b) Since when do famous people not do stupid criminal things? Tell it to the cops who arrested Mel Gibson, Carleton Gajdusek, or Elliott Spitzer (Wikipedia is your friend).

--> My impression is that "disorderly conduct" is the street equivalent of "contempt of court" -- a minor criminal charge invented entirely for the purpose of reining in persons who are not conducive to persuasion. Which describes what happened here.

--> Everyone, please abandon the canard that Gates is "too old and harmless" to be considered a suspect for crime. (a) The officer never called Gates a suspect. (b) In a country with easy access to handguns, nobody is "obviously harmless," especially someone who has blown his top and is blowing it further with every passing moment.

--> Thank you for the correction, Ivansmom. Since the officer was attempting to investigate a report of possible criminal activity and required truthful answers from Gates as the most knowledgeable witness, was Gates not in fact obstructing the officer? albeit in a minor way, on a crime that had not in fact occurred -- but the officer had no way to know that on the scene without information that only Gates possessed.

--> So far, the primary evidence offered to support the contention that the officer is incompetent is
(a) incredulity that someone as wonderful as Henry Louis Gates could be arrested.
(b) Gates is black and the officer is white.
(c) Not all police are bad people. Just all the ones that I don't know personally.

From this, a preponderance of posters have come to the conclusion that this police officer is only the thinnest of margins from justified firing.

Oh, please. You want to talk about prejudice? How about the prejudice that a cop without a doctorate who arrests a man with a doctorate must be a morally and mentally deficient scumbucket? I am today ashamed and astounded by the number of you who have displayed outright prejudice and class-based bigotry in your postings. Not every one, no; but a shocking majority. Today, I am ashamed of my Boodle.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

At least President Obama knows how to act like an adult:

Awal, I agree with your 1:07.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Awal, I'm not parsing words in the law. I'm reading two disparate accounts and assuming the truth is somewhere in the middle. Did Crowley refuse to give his name? Maybe. Did Gates say "I'll speak to your mama outside"? Maybe.

It's my impression that the charges were dropped because of who Gates is and who he knows, and the fact that, in the end, the alleged disorderly conduct in this case isn't a particularly heinous crime.

And I agree with LiT, his prior activities that day don't have anything to do with the situation. He could have been a soldier flying home from Afghanistan that morning, but 1) he still has to obey the law, and 2) the officer can't be expected to know that. It may be relevant in a trial, but again, that's why we have both police AND courts.

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I don't know where you're getting your ideas. I don't recall anyone saying the cop should be fired, or even that he was racist. Or giving Gates a pass because he's famous. But arresting someone in his own home, after you know that he was in his own home, is not smart or justified. Maybe especially so when it turns out he is pretty famous. BTW, Gates was photographed on his porch in handcuffs, so I don't think he made it to the yard. Read the president's statement, please.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

ScTim, the class undercurrent leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Despite my education and university teaching position, I never, never, never forget the dignity of all work, all people. That people of education and experience tend to work in think-fields, rather than do-fields (struggling "with a term here) AND THINK THAT MIND WORK IS MORE BETTER" THAN HAND WORK, is a group-think that does not elevate. And, tis simply not true.

Sorry for my emphasis. I come from a long line of railroading, farming, mining peeps. I was raised to not talk down to anybody on the labor totem.

I do not think the boodle is a bad as you say today, Tim. We would do better with this stuff in person. And, we can keep typing and forgiving each other our myopias and miscommunications and muddled thinking.

SeaSea -- Obama's response is masterful, reflecting our better angels. Good for him.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, it's an unfortunate situation. Already he's tired, already he's had to battle with his own front door. I don't think it's unreasonable for his mind to jump to "oh--someone saw a black man struggling with a door and assumed robbery." Now there's police officers standing in his own home, questioning his right to be there. That's got to be one of those little stings to dignity that burrows down deep and touches all the other "little things" that have piled up over a lifetime. Considering his race and the specific decades he's lived through, I doubt his interactions with police have all been positive. Should he have had better control of himself? Maybe, but we're all human. You don't get arrested for being human.

I can see the police's side here too--they're just doing their job. But their job does not include arresting a man for yelling over something which quite understandably seems racist to him. Apologize and high-tail it out of there.

Posted by: schala1 | July 24, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

And hey, labor tis not a totem -- salaries are a totem. Organization charts are totemic sorta but also spread out very broadly.

Labor is pool, a very big pool; water slides and spreads to fill the big space, in a rather horizontal or democratic gesture.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

The arresting officer had a choice. His authority and dignity could have been maintained if he fulfilled his public responsibility to have a cooler head than those he is supposed to police. I think many good cops would have behaved about the same way Sgt. Crowley did up until the point they saw Prof. Gates IDs. At that point, the wise cop says "this important seeming black guy has just been suspected of robbing his own home by me, a white cop. He sure sounds angry. If I apologize and calmly try to explain how we got here, we can probably avoid an incident we'd both probably regret." I'm not defending Prof. Gates attitude, but even if the cop was calm, his behavior encouraged the escalating outrage in the professor, and it was Sgt. Crowley's responsibility to be the bigger person and apologize. Even if it's prudent to get out of the way of the truck when you have the right of way, it doesn't make it morally right. Just because Sgt. Crowley has the right to arrest or maybe shoot someone, does not mean he should be feared by the people who pay his salaries. There are other ways to earn respect in civilized society. Racial profiling is very real and not all the offenders are white. Everyday, law abiding black men are accosted by police because of the color of their skin, as are other non-whites. When an innocent teenager in Boston, or Chicago, or LA is arrested for doing nothing but being black in the wrong part of town at the wrong time, he has no high powered friends or media members to defend him. Maybe Prof. Gates thought he was seeing the tell-tale signs of racial profiling. He is black and he does live in a primarily white neighborhood, after all. Maybe he felt he couldn't just meekly accede to Sgt. Crowley's requests and walk away. Maybe he felt he had to make a stand, demand Sgt. Crowley's ID just as his had been demanded. Maybe he felt he had a moral responsibility to let Sgt. Crowley know exactly how he felt when he was accused of being common criminal. Maybe he felt he had to ride straight at that truck and make him swerve, just to make people pay attention. In this case, Sgt. Crowley didn't swerve. To go further with the analogy, if the truck crushes the bicyclist when the bicyclist had the right of way, the bicyclist will be dead, but the truck driver will go to jail.

Posted by: Southwester | July 24, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Most of Obama's apology is what he should have said the first time - "My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved."

And it is a sensitive topic, and it does get folks' hackles up. Just as black folks get upset where they see racism, because they might be next, I get upset when I see baseless accusations of racism, because I might be next.

And if we all got our hackles up in the opposite situation, we'd be better off.

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Tim, he was home. He had proof he was home. As Ivansmom keeps saying, it's not against the law to respond in not so nice terms when one is being interrogated by law enforcement. I don't care if he was hanging on the bird feeder, he should have been left at home.

The policeman wanted to prove he was in charge, and Gates wanted to prove he was home, and I want your name and badge number. Two men, male harmones, way above sea level, hence, situation out of control. And therefore, stupidity ensues. Now after the fact, everyone wants to bring common sense in. After the laughter.

When harmone levels are at that height we should be doing something else, don't you think?

tomsing, don't mind me. JA, this is still a humour blog, right?

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Who here has been a cop besides me? Granted, it was a boy-scout-like part-time student job at the university, with no gun. I will say the undeserved hostility from the occasional presumer was always leaving me speechless. I was the designated Nazi! If that doesn't make your drink come out your nose, those who know me, I don't know what will.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 24, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra-Cmyth4U! Are you saying that we should be
lovin' instead of

Yes. Me too.

And the thought that testosterone -- heck, estrogen, etc. -- might rev up at higher sea levels....very funny. Shall we all move to Denver, the mile-high city? Mount Whitney? McKinkley-DeNali?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 24, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Since you asked a specific legal question, ScienceTim, no, Gates was not obstructing the officer. As I mentioned, you don't have to cooperate with police. You don't have to answer their questions. Failure to answer questions, even legitimate investigative questions asked of a presumed witness, is not obstructing an officer.

Many of the posts here, from several people, on this issue rely on assumptions about the law or the responsibilities, based on status, of various persons involved in the incident. Many posters also attribute particular feelings or motives to one or the other or both parties. As I've tried to suggest, the law on disorderly conduct, obstructing, etc., is actually pretty simple. In addition, the law is not going to be concerned with motives for action; every party may feel or even be justified in their conduct, but that doesn't change the legal analysis. Were the elements of disorderly conduct, as posted by tomsing, met? To this criminal law expert's eye, no. The reports I read suggest that is why the charges were dropped.

Just an observation: there are very very few times an officer is ever justified in making a warrantless arrest of a person in his own home, or on his own porch. Very few.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I see what you mean, but that he was in his own home doesn't really have that much to do with disorderly conduct.

The cops went down the street to talk with the parents of a kid who'd gotten into a tad bit of trouble (not the sharpest knife in the drawer). When they arrived, kid was home alone, smoking dope. Dummy answers the door. Guess who got busted again? In his own home. Yes, probable cause to enter, clearly breaking some laws, etc. But home.

Thing 1 got a big ole ticket for disturbing the peace (didn't know that if you're going to throw a big bash, move it inside after 10 or invite the neighbors). In his own home.

Certainly, if some man were beating the living daylights out of his wife in his own home, he'd be busted.

Disorderly conduct is disorderly conduct. Seems to me that the fact he was home is irrelevant *to that charge*.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse


I was a humdinger(?) before Christ gave me this new life, and I don't miss it one bit. I'm so glad you got a funny from it. Hope all is well with you.

Just trying to lighten things up.

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, you know more about it than I do, but it seems to me that in this case, the law does in fact take into account the intent: "A disorderly person is defined as one who: with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm..."

Isn't that intent? It seems that that would be tough to prove, short of an actual statement of the accused, and maybe the next part, "...or recklessly creates a risk thereof..." is more often used.

Jumper, one of my friends was a hall monitor in elementary school. Orange sash and everything. Does that count?

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -- so glad you're here. I practice on the civil side of things, which many times is not so civil, as I'm sure you know. I completely agree with you, especially in regard to most/all of us imposing our own experiences and biases onto the actual persons involved.

For example, "EYE would have done things differently" and the like. Again, the only thing the officer needed to know was (1) was this guy (Gates) who he said he was; (2) was this Gates' home? If the answer is YES to both questions, that's all he needed to know. And, again YES, he should have disclosed his name and his badge number to Gates. I've never been one who will defer to anyone trying assert dominance over me, just because whoever it is might be an arm of the government. For all the people who post on this site (and others) essentially roaring "down with government!!!" I find they are more likely than not to take the side of the police (i.e., gummint) against someone -- especially someone they don't like or want to protect.

Glad I don't practice criminal law, though. I think Obama made a very good move in calling the officer, and I hope he'll have both Gates and the officer (name escapes me, sorry) over to the "House" for a beer or a burger or sumpin.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

This slate article analyzing the laws involved:

In short, Massachusetts statue is pretty narrow on the subject of "disorderly conduct" which Gates was unlikely to have met (so no conviction as Ivansmom pointed out).

Police do routinely arrest the innocent for things they didn't actually do.

Tim, you do NOT know that neurological issues are not involved, merely because they weren't identified as such.

Legally, that makes little difference, but in terms of how we are perceiving Gates' behavior, we're basically judging him as "deserving the arrest" because of his offensive conduct (which fails to meet the legal definition).

We do know that he was extremely sleep-deprived coming off an airplane. Sleep deprivation can be as damaging as alcohol on the judgment.

That was what I meant when I said, 99% of the time I would never be that stupid, but I wouldn't want to gamble on that 1% of the time.

As Cassandra says, it does seem like the situation became a stand-off, rather than the cop expressing say, relief that Gates was after all not breaking into the house and repeating that they had been called on a 911.

We're not talking about the right to defy authority all around America. We're talking about how to de-escalate conflict. That is an important life skill. You've been talking the civilian side. I'm saying what about the cop's side of it?

He was presumably younger, better-rested and more fit to handle a suspect scenario than Gates was. Why should we blame the amateur here?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of humor, I liked Obama's closing comments -- passing on Sgt. Crowley's request for the press to stop trampling his lawn. He gave well-modulated statement overall, I thought.

seasea, thanks for the link. Also thanks for your suggestion earlier that they all need to go sit in a corner. It made me giggle, but also promoted the wisdom of a timeout as umbrage builds.

Posted by: -bia- | July 24, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I disagree. The third thing the officer needed to know/decide was, is this guy, who I'm satisfied is Gates, who lives at this home and is obviously not committing burglary, currently committing some other crime, such as engaging in disorderly conduct?

I don't think you mean to imply that Gates had completely free reign to disregard all other laws once it was established that he lived there.

I don't think anybody has suggested that he shouldn't give his name and badge number. And again, we have conflicting stories, but by Crowley's account, he did do just that.

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I think it's because you're expected to act reasonably. Exhausted isn't an excuse for anything except falling asleep.

Certainly, exhausted describes most parents of newborns. Med school students. College students preparing for finals. Law school grads preparing for the bar. Single mothers holding down two jobs to make ends meet. We don't give passes to people just for being tired.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

With some exceptions, "intent" in the criminal is general intent, and means merely intending to do the act which constitutes a crime. If I touch your shoulder without your consent, I may not intend anything but I've just committed battery. Specific intent crimes require a particular purpose or action, usually written into the statute - for malice murder, you must intend to kill. For other degrees of homicide, the killing is enough without the intent.

The disorderly conduct crime as previously posted is actually quite interesting.

[A disorderly person is defined as one who:

with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creates a risk thereof engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.]

This is pretty narrow. First, the act must serve no legitimate purpose. That knocks quite a bit out right there. Second, the prohibited acts (fighting or threatening violent or tumultous behavior, or creating a hazard or physically offensive condition) require a real overt act of some sort, more than mere words. Even the "threat" has to be of violent or rowdy action, or some sort of physical hazard or offense. Just yelling insults doesn't look covered. Neither does asking for information - and remember, it isn't a crime to ask for an officer's identification. That doesn't count as a physical hazard or threat.

Finally, the "purpose" looks like you must have the specific intent to create a public ruckus. I'll let you in on a secret: if you actually do an act which fits within the prohibited categories and has no legitimate purpose, that intent will pretty much be presumed, even if you claim you didn't mean anything by it. Intent of any kind is usually proved by conduct.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

See? I knew you knew more than me!

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Also, tomsing, after the officer determined the purpose for the call was over - homeowner, no burglary committed - he did not have to determine whether Gates was committing some other crime before he left. Generally speaking once the reason for an encounter is over, the officer is expected to go on his way and let the citizen go on his.

If the person is at that very moment committing another crime in the officer's presence, of course, a different investigation begins. However, this is not meant to be a particularly subjective call. It appears that Gates's anger continued to escalate the longer the officer was present. This may have given the officer some subjective belief that Gates was crossing the line into violent and threatening behavior. However, standard procedure (at least around here) would be, once the initial burglary report was discounted, for the officer to tell an angry Gates "Thank you for your time" and leave - giving his name and badge when Gates chased him out - without further ado.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ivansmom. It is so nice to hear someone speak from knowledge. I am in, like, awe.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 24, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to be so tedious. So many good comments have been written, from many points of view, about the social aspects of this incident. They all express legitimate concerns. I think ultimately that will be more important for the country's discussion than the facts as they apply to the law. I was just trying to give a simple legal analysis, which doesn't take a lot of that into account.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 24, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Nice to know that Harvard place provides a good education. Thanks, Ivansmom, for all the explanations!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 24, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. Any arch builder out there?

A tomato plant has committed suicide. This Mediterranean beauty has had enough.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 24, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

In my other life, Ivansmom, I wanted to be a lawyer. I think you are one excellent teacher. Just fantastic!

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -- do you ever get to DC? If so, we'll have to get together. The Boy is certainly old enough to traipse through cool museums and there's so much to see here otherwise. Joel and TBG and Mudge have my email address, so feel free to inquire.

I've been investigating cases for my motion for sanctions against opposing counsel, who has run off the rails for entirely too long. In a related matter in regard to the same nut-job attorney, I knew I had read a case where the court actually disbarred an attorney on-the-spot and suspended another one for overly egregious behavior. But I can't find it in my files, so I suspect I read it on Westlaw, chortled over it, but didn't find it closely enough on point to email to myself. May have to go back to Westlaw to retrieve it. That these guys (mainly guys, but there are a number of women who can act like nut-jobs, as well, and who have been sanctioned) continue to act like this is beyond me.

Ah, well.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

My only real criticism here is reserved for the lack of artifice exhibited by Professor Gates. I can assure you that a gifted practitioner of cop-baiting can come pretty close to inducing actual head explosion without getting arrested. Obviously the gentleman is a rank amateur at this craft.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 24, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

More like a scholar, bob?

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Aaah, yes, that's it exactly!


Posted by: bobsewell | July 24, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

LiT, if you can fall asleep while confronted by a cop treating you as a suspect just when you're about to get in your house and in bed... I'm impressed with your nacroleptic skill.

Experiments have shown that subjects will undergo an increased tendency to be hyperirritable, even aggressive following sleep deprivation, along with loss of judgment.

For others with suspectibility to mental disease, lack of sleep can trigger much more significant alterations in mental states.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

None of us are angels, even if we dance on pinheads.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 24, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Sleep deprivation, Tourette's, deafness, Parkinson's...they can certainly affect how you react or are perceived to be reacting to a situation. They may very well excuse your action or lack thereof (although I don't think sleep deprivation counts). But it's not the officer's job to determine your particular disability. (Obviously, that's subject to some reasonableness. If you're in a wheelchair and he tells you to put your hands in the air, he probably shouldn't shoot you, because you might be a quadripeligic [sp?].)

Ignore for the moment whether Gates's actions were or were not criminal, and whether any particular mental state or disorder is an excuse. Even if Gates's sleep deprivation affected his actions, how was the officer supposed to know he was sleep deprived. Or was deaf? Or had Tourette's? Or was manic depressive?

Posted by: tomsing | July 24, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, it seems you misunderstood my post. As I explained, exhausted isn't an excuse. It ranks up there with the twinkie defense.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

ftb: I hope he'll have both Gates and the officer (name escapes me, sorry) over to the "House" for a beer or a burger or sumpin.

"One hour after calling Sergeant Crowley, Mr. Obama reached Professor Gates by telephone. An administration official said the call was "a positive discussion," and that it ended with an invitation for the professor and the police officer to meet at the White House — to have a beer, as the president said in his remarks to reporters. There was no immediate word on whether Professor Gates accepted the invitation."

Posted by: engelmann | July 24, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse


That's exactly why I suggested we just make them gods, and be through with the whole thing. That way we won't have to justify anything. They certainly wouldn't be subjected to right or wrong, now would they? And the part about human error would not exist. All nice and neat.

Hey, I'm buying tomatoes, and boy, are they delicious. I wish I could grow them.*sigh*

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

engelmann -- I hope Gates accepts and I hope Crowley accepts. And I wasn't kidding about a jointly authored book on the subject of racial profiling -- when it is and when it isn't.

If there is no dialog (or multi-log) about race relations in this country, this incident alone would be a missed opportunity of gigantic proportions.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"Smart people should always keep a certain portion of their savings in something rock solid.

Which is why I am investing heavily in little hats for dogs. "

RD, does this mean I ought to start knitting wee hats for doggies? There is a market? who knew?

Posted by: --dr-- | July 24, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Try cat hats, RD.
Dogs' beans are too stuffed with brains
To tolerate hats.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

LiT, there is some literature on people being acquited of violent acts due to sleep disorders.

As Gates did not apparently break the law, the question of "defenses" is moot in a court of law.

I'm appealing instead to the court of opinion, which is much harsher, more kakfasque, and more illogical and tends to hold defendants at a higher level of rational behavior than they would themselves exhibit in such a circumstance.

Like I said, we can say that we wouldn't do such a stupid thing-- 99% of the time that may be true. But there's always that chance that our brains won't be entirely in sync with events.

My history and government teacher, an ex-marine, told us that no soldier could be held accountable for anything he said within 5 minutes of awakening, even if what was said normally would be a court martial offense.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse


You've gone from exhausted to sleep deprivation to neurological issues to sleep disorders, and from acting out toward a cop to teachers and soldiers and court martials. I can't keep up. No, I don't want to.

I don't think Dr. Gates acted appropriately or understandably. I think Dr. Gates acted like a petulant child. From what's been reported, he's the one who introduced race into this matter. All I was saying is that tired isn't an excuse. Everyone I know is tired; we don't throw temper tantrums, especially at someone who is there to help.

As I mentioned to a friend earlier, a police officer looks like an angel when you need help. I'm not going to participate in slamming cops over this, especially when the excuse being offered is Dr. Gates was tired.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Stepping back in, tersely:

(1) I apologize for getting over-heated and accusatory.

(2) Gates was not arrested in his home. AT, yes, but not IN.

(3) Gates was not dragged out of his house. He came out on his own decision.

(4) The officer was asked for his name and identification three times and offered it each time.

(5) No one called Gates a suspect. He apparently inferred it.

(6) The officer was investigating a report and amassing information. That means asking questions. Mr. Gates was being questioned as a witness.

(7) The officer's failure to calm the situation does not make him incompetent. Sometimes bad outcomes happen despite expert intervention. Do we disbar every doctor the first time that he has a patient die in his care? I believe the foolishness of this position is self-evident.

(8) The argument was offered here today or yesterday, that the dropping of the charges is prima facie evidence that the officer behaved illegally and irresponsibly. Do we suspend or fire every police officer who has made an arrest under charges that are later dropped? I believe the foolishness of this position is self-evident.

(9) A civilian's behavior may be forgiveable due to a neurological or mental disorder, but a police officer's job is to deal with behavior at the scene. Extenuating circumstances are the province of the courts. It is irrelevant that Gates was tired or may have had some neurological disorder (which is purely hypothetical on Wilbrod_Gnome's part and has no basis in public fact). He did what he did, he acted as he acted. Consequences follow.

(10) I wish Obama had not made his original comment on the situation. However, once of the ways in which he demonstrates that he is a better man than me was his masterful handling of retrenchment from the initial statement. He is not committed to stay the course even if the course proves to be unwise. Unlike some recent Presidents.

(11) The premise has been offered that at least a significant minority of police officers are bad people with an interest in abusing power rather than enforcing the law and serving and protecting the people. If this proposition is accepted, then the abolition of the police force, while not ideal, is clearly superior to the status quo. I believe the foolishness of this position is self-evident. We should, of course, always strive to improve our police forces. I propose that accusing officers of being corrupt racist thugs until proven otherwise is a poor tactic to encourage superior job performance, and speaks poorly of the methods used in recruiting and training police who are certified for duty.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to say I have extreme tomato jealousy at this point in time.

Cassandra, I'm lookin' at you. :-)

Tomatoes heal bad backs, don't they?

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 24, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Is it wrong to have a slice of pie for dinner, and then another for dessert?

Do you know what a kitchen looks like after you've let a child "help" bake a pie? I do.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I do too! And, in retrospect, it is a beautiful sight.

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' LiT the WetVac* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 24, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought that the reason for offering no specific health-reform proposal was to allow everyone in Congress the opportunity to demonstrate whether he had anything positive to offer, rather than accepting the accusation of dictating a plan against the wishes of the great minds of the legislature. Unsurprisingly, Congress has now demonstrated that they have relatively little to offer that is positive policy. Fine. They cannot deny that they have had their chance.

I expect that Obama will now demonstrate once again that he is better than we deserve by delivering a substantive proposal that will be masterful, will allow inorporating the best of what little has been offered by Congress, and will have sufficient flexibility to permit each Congressman a chance to find somewhere that he can actually do something good with which to associate his name.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

LiT -- it depends on what kind of pie it is. . .

Oh, wait -- no, it doesn't! It doesn't at all!! Have any leftovers?

*faxing some vanilla almond tea to LiT and to Yoki to go with the pie*

There's a French guy who sells bread (baguettes, brioche, croissants, muffins, etc.) at my local farmers market. Each time I pass his booth, even without looking at his stuff (well, I always look), I *know* I gain at least 5 pounds.

Gonna go fall asleep over the paper (as usual) and otherwise prepare for a busy weekend, inside and out.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 24, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the happy child part does make the cleaning up part less of a chore. But Geez Louise, where'd all this flour come from?

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

You know, LiT, that all that flour is really the magical dust from fairy wings.

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh no you don't. Our fairies don't like a mess. (One of the local moms spreads glitter on her child's pillow when the Tooth Fairy visits. DC thinks you need to call the Tooth Fairy, find out when she'll be in our area [DC gets a different coin each time, which is a pain when you're out of town and didn't think she'd smack into something, knock that barely loose baby tooth on out.])

{Mudge isn't here, so I can use all sorts of inappropriate puctuation!}

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

The whole concept of high-frequency trading seems like a bad notion. Can a minimum time to hold a stock be required? Could it be enforced? Not something insanely long, but, say -- ten minutes? Something compatible with the ability of human traders to make decisions on the same time scales.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

One incident, one cop. Not "slamming cops."

I've had to call on cops, and trust me, I found them very nice, if not downright angelic.

But I don't think bashing Gates is the answer either. We only have reports to go by; we don't really know what happened.

That this was his first arrest ever at age 58 does suggest he is not in the habit of baiting cops.

It IS reasonable to think extraordinary circumstances provoked his reaction.

The explanations offered have been rather hostile to Skip Gates, ranging from elitism, race baiting, and so on.

The evidence points to a tired old man who lost his temper faced by a huge cop who was treating him hostilely, like a suspect and then refused to back off when he showed his ID.

Sometimes it is that simple.

Sure, we could have all acted better than him. We're all so much better, wiser, and way more controlled when confronted by a scary situation than Skip Gates is.

Is that really the point?

The law doesn't just protect people whose conduct we approve of. It's supposed to protect everybody.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Hee hee. Good luck with the laundry, glitter-mom!

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

LiT, have a look at the Spiderwick chronicles. I am not a big admirer, but they have a clever notion -- that goblins do not grow their own teeth, and so they need to get them from us, using discarded teeth, bottlecaps, broken glass, etc. They also prefer to trade something of equal value, like toenail clippings and so forth.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

*quickly thumbing through 'Mudge's dog-eared (sorry, Wilbrodog!) "Robert's Rules of Boodling" for a quick ruling on LiT*

Aw, heck with it, it's too darn late. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 24, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Scratch a bit more please,
Scottynuke, behind the ears,
Thumb, finger, thats it!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

58 is old? Old?! Really? I'm skewed!

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Ten minutes seems too long *Tim. But you're onto something there. Maybe that you have to key in a password every trade? An internet security system I've used changed the password (shown on a fob) every six seconds.

Even the cop Wilbrod. The most innocent looking person can be the most trouble. Squeaky Fromme. JW von Brunn. Ted Bundy. Refused to back down? Treated hostilely? Hmmm.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

The average life expectancy for an American black male at birth in 2001 was 68.8 years, Yoki.

The average life expectancy for a American white female was 80.2 years.

And we of course know that Canadians routinely live to 100 years plus if born in the right places.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Never said otherwise. But the yellers generally aren't the biters.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh Sweet Cheeses. His age should have been a factor in calming the situation, not be used in an emotional defense of his behavior. With age comes wisdom, right? Or is it with age comes wrinkles? With age comes AARP? I forget. Yoki, help me out.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Lies-- I got big teeth
And lungs to yell at baddies
And I will use both!
(I prefer steak to shins, though
I'm just a peace loving pup..)


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 24, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

LiT, you are getting confused.

I am stopping that topic of discussion with you. I would appreciate if you would do the same. Thank you.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

With age come superior cheeses, unless they become excessively fuzzy.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 24, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I've instigated nothing.

Except a messy kitchen.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Messy kitchens ooze
delicious sauces on floors;
Cure hungry dog blues...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Me too, Yoki, and ancient by a year.

As always, enjoyed the conversations. I hope the evening and the weekend is really wonderful for everyone here. Take advantage of your families, and love them to pieces. Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

In my own defense, I will actually enjoy a very tough and rather startlingly grey pastry, encasing a sandy bit of underseasoned apple or raspberry filling, if a happy child who feels that he is making a contribution to the family comestibles, produced this with pride.

Maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, ours has a thick edged crust on one side, not so much on the other, with way too much juice. Still de-flippin-licious. In a bowl.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 24, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Pour some cream on, call it summer pudding, and you're good to go!

Posted by: Yoki | July 24, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Blueberry-tongued hound
Volunteers to taste kids' art
then kiss them with love...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Lovely floury faces
Demand good nuzzles and baths
More taste; less filling...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Some,including perhaps Prof. Gates, will never see the incident as anything less than police over reaching and racism. Others will have a similar knee jerk reaction in favor of Sgt. Crowley, a good man following procedure and not racist at all. Alas, the truth depends on where you sit and continuing to watch the two sides face off about it is incredibly tedious.

What I find more interesting is how Mr. Obama has changed the discourse, simply by uttering his honest first reaction-that the police officer acted stupidly. Wow, talk about a seismic shift. It reminds me of the ABA Journal's list of the top 25 lawyer shows on TV-LA Law is #1.
This is not my original idea, but I can't remember where I saw/heard it to give appropriate attribution-but the big legal shows of the 50s and 60s were all about the defense, at a time when civil rights and liberties were at the forefront of our discourse and the Warren court was going strong. Then the the pendulum moved toward "Law and Order" (the philosophy and the show) culminating in W and he who shall not be named.

No matter what Obama says by way of apology, regret, or explanation, I can't help but feel (wishful thinking?) that the word "stupidly" pushed the pendulum just a bit back in the humane direction. I'm ok with a prez who makes mistakes like that.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 24, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Sweet talk of fruit pies
Provokes this philosophy--
Where kids are, food is!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 24, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Been a busy day for me and just had a chance to back boodle - missed a lot today.

Ivansmom - really appreciated your posts - you must indeed be a great teacher. Had a few good teachers for law, I would rank you right up there with the best of them.

Now after reading all the posts - I must say the incident seems to cry out for apologies.

To that I must most sincerely offer an apology to many on the boodle. When the Octomom story first broke I did not like the assumptions made about her - it would seem I was utterly and completely wrong in this case,


Night all off to be and then prepare to entertain TBG and Dr. G tomorrow, crossing fingers the weather cooperates and our recent monsoons are over - saw what appeared to be a funnel cloud later this afternoon to the west of us. At least it is warmer we were able to have an enjoyable supper outside with friends this evening - lots of fun and a little excitement when a bat decided to take a swim in the pool - eeeck hate bats (Sorry Mo).

Posted by: dmd3 | July 24, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse


I am far from an expert, but what has been explained to me (again, way before this incident, is that courts and police are not equivalents.

You can basically be in contempt of an officer and they have no grounds to arrest you. If you think that this dismissal, though very well deserved on the arrest side, just on the basis of being out of control... was trivial, I am told that it is not.

We are under no obligation to "cooperate with the police."


as they say, NADA.

The police have the burden.

I am afraid that we have lost touch with what powers the police have and that is coloring our view of the incident.

If you ask me, was the Professor wise in his behavior? No, He was stupidly handling his situation.

By playing out the TV stuff, that just made it worse.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 24, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse


You guys have peaked my interest!


Posted by: russianthistle | July 24, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Gosh! My parents were rather English-ish, so Pouring Cream.

Posted by: Yoki | July 25, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

seasea! too funny.

Posted by: Yoki | July 25, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Time for bed. Tomorrow morning, I pack, then work on the plane all the way to Germany (assuming I can contrive to collect electrons for laptop at various places). I arrive Sunday morning, try to work some more, then some more sleep. Then the meeting. Then print my poster. Then eat. Then sleep. Then post my poster. Then more meeting. And so on.

Home on Saturday evening. Stay for two days. Then off to Hawaii. Low air pressures, high altitude, low dew-point (that one's for you, yellojkt!), very very very long days. Then one day of rest. Then home.


Posted by: ScienceTim | July 25, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | July 25, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

*Tim, I hope the ScienceSpouse is home when you get there. Wouldn't want any problems with the lock when you get back.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 25, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

I was in the US for 10.5 years. I had interacted with all kinds of people and have never been discriminated against. It’s probably because of my blur-and-harmless look.

(Note to self: lose that blur look in a job interview).

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Job interview???

Posted by: Yoki | July 25, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

LiT, I wish I hadn't read your 1:08 AM after taking that last sip of port, which is now all over my keyboard.

I also wish it had come out of my mouth.

Dr. *Tim, you look good in a bow tie, sir.

Enjoy your trip, and please do try to get some sleep on your flights...


Posted by: -bc- | July 25, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm still employed. Just that when I move home (no fix date yet), I hope to be called for interviews for jobs I would be applying.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

thanks, ivansmom, for your posts.

i wish obama hadn't commented on gates mainly for his own sake because he can't really intervene in the situation, so he's just given fodder for the limbaughs of the world.

cqp, your comment reminded me of mike rose's mind at work, a book i've given as a gift but haven't gotten around to reading yet.

rainforest, please remind me where you consider home (not asking for specifics, i just thought you currently lived in your home country although i know you lived earlier in the u.s.).

Posted by: LALurker | July 25, 2009 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Regarding high-frequency trading, looks like the public gets short changed every time there is an innovation on Wall Street. No wonder they are fighting to be regulated.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 3:17 AM | Report abuse

LALurker, I work in Brunei. Home is Malaysia.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 3:21 AM | Report abuse

i didn't realize you were not in malaysia currently.

Posted by: LALurker | July 25, 2009 4:42 AM | Report abuse

Of to last swim meet of season unless CPBoy shaves some time. Hi Rainforest. Wonder how Dawainian is doing?

Swim meet is near Mudge's home place. Saw rickOshea last night for an impromptu dinner. BPD?

We finally have hot weather. Tomatoes contemplating some blushing.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 25, 2009 6:07 AM | Report abuse

What's the big deal over muscle relaxants, anyway?? Took one last night and didn't fe... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

*spinning hands on a clock montage*

Wha? Hmmm, there's a sticky note stuck to my forehead:

Today in Love Boat, Shakespearean and Aviation History

July 25, 1609: The Sea Venture, the flagship of a seven-ship fleet bound to relieve colonists at Jamestown, Virginia, and leaking badly while battling a hurricane, is deliberately run up on a reef at Gate’s Bay, Bermuda, by the expedition’s commander, Sir George Somers, to prevent her foundering. His actions allow all 150 passengers and crew, and one dog, to land safely on the island. Most of the survivors eventually made it to Jamestown; one was William Strachey, whose memoir of the ordeal was thought to be the source of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” Another survivor, George Yeardley, was a distant kinsman of Washington Post book reviewer Jonathon Yardley (see Also, the name “Sea Venture” was the original of the cruise liner that became the Princess line’s “Pacific Princess,” used in the making of the TV show “The Love Boat.” The remains of the original Sea Venture were discovered in 1958.
1944: Luftwaffe Maj. Erich Hartmann is awarded Germany’s highest decoration, the Knight’s cross, for becoming the first pilot to shoot down 300 enemy aircraft. At the end of World War II, Hartmann is history’s highest-scoring ace, with 352 victories, all earned on the Eastern front against Soviet Bloc aircraft. (A descendent of Hartmann was a Southern Maryland resident and a few years ago was a U.S. Air Force navigator flying C-141s out of Andrews Air force Base. A nice guy.)
1956: The Italian liner Andrea Doria is rammed by the Swedish liner Stockholm at 11:20 p.m. in dense fog off Nantucket; 50 are drowned but some 1,600 passengers and crew are rescued. The next day the Andrea Doria rolls over and sinks.

*hoping-my-back-continues-recovering-before-a-trip-to-my-oldest-bro's-50th-birthday Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 25, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey Scotty!

I messed up my back a good number of years ago. Ignored it for too long and then just had to give in to a doctor visit. Outcome? Muscle Relaxants and slow improvement.

The best advice was to do those damn exercises. Core strength is so important. As soon as you can, do some light exercises to strengthen your core.

Man, if there is one thing that makes doing a bit of physical labor at a job worth it is having some strength to fight "back" on those things. Now, instead of sitting a good 10 hours a day, I sit 3.


Seriously, best wishes.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Hi Al, can't sleep. On topic 3 times.
Been reading the comments on the pres' comments. Been on both sides of this equation, As an officer in the coast guard made some people stop doing things (we didn't have civilian legal authority then.) Been arrested three times. Twice the arresting officer was very nice. Once by an off duty guy was very unpleasant. He had his 350 pound buddy sit on me while he called the cops over a barroom disagreement.
Once owned over $1 Million in stocks. Good companies like intel, HP, World com, Solectron etc., Held them early 2000's because all the experts said they were the tops in their class. Well now I'm 72 and working for minimum four hours a day.
Love medicare. This morning trying to take some duct tape off the drain line we have to route our washing machine water around the yard to water some bushes and trees I slashed the back of my thumb and cut an artery. Blood gushed everywhere. My wife drove into town to the Providence medical center emergency where the reception was very nice and only asked name rank and birthdate, sat me down in a wheel chair and wheeled me into an ER space. A young male nurse from the UK, took my washcloth off and took a look and said maybe he should have a doctor take a look. The doc came, shot my thumb with some pain killer, went back to attend a lady that had been attacked by a german police dog that almost took her arm off, then after sending her off up stairs to surgery, came back and had a nice conversation about the shows he was going to attend at the where I work while he put stitch in the artery to stop the bleeding and ten stitches to close up the laceration. All matter-a-facerly. With medicare my bill will probally come to about $1000 of the $5000 cost.
Then I went back to work to earn my $35 for the day cleaning 17 toilets, 4 urinals, four sinks and hauling a couple of pickups loads of trash up the hill to the dumpster. Then I went home to install a new air conditioner in the bedroom window. It's supposed to be 105 here tomorrow. Although it's about 60 now.

Posted by: bh72 | July 25, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Ow, bh, ow ow ow!!! Hope that heals up quick! And I hope it's cooler than predicted for ya!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 25, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC on my 3:17 ….NOT to be regulated

Hi, CP. Good to see you posting again.

Oh my, bh, hope you wound heals quickly.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

bh... just your basic day, eh!!!?!??

Best wishes to you and make a speedy recovery.

Off to do a peaceful bike ride before it warms up too much.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

In my home country, health care is socialized. There are also private hospitals and clinics if one choose not to go to a gov’t hospital. Gov’t hospital services use to be atrocious. I heard they have improved the last couple of years. People choose to use private services because their services are better, and through word of mouth, you generally know if the doctor is any good.

I find it hard to wrap my mind around those high $ figures you guys have to pay. At our private hospital or clinic, the medical bill for bh72’s trouble would be less than $200, dollar for dollar.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I’m joining the ranks of the unemployed. I’ve been laid off and my last day is next Friday. The company is hurting, they’ve lost some contracts due to the recession and two of us were let go. My two bosses both spoke with me separately to apologize and assure me that if/when things improve, they’d love for me to come back (which I would in a heartbeat). I’m still in the feeling sorta sick mode. At my age and in this economy, finding a job will be very hard.

On the plus side, I will have more time to see friends and family and maybe, if the weather ever improves here, I can start painting the house. I know many people have it worse than I do so I’m trying not to be too down about the circumstances. At least the sun is out for today and we are going to see Steely Dan tonight - something to look forward to!

Posted by: badsneakers | July 25, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

In driving from Billings to Fargo (with a stop at Teddy Roosevelt NP to gawk at wild horses) I've missed all the good arguments on both sides. IMHO, the only person with the responsibility to act calmly and professionally was the cop. All too often, once they get a call, *someone* is going to get arrested. While the semantics are debated, the image (USAToday pg 2) of a gray-haired African American in handcuffs screaming while being led away from his own home is rather illustrating.

As a person with an Irish temper (very slow burn, massive eruptions), I am the Yellowstone caldera of anger. Twice this vacation I have erupted at family members on minor provocations and entirely disproportionate to the initial cause. Both times I could use the excuse of fatigue, but it really doesn't take back things I shouldn't have said.

Today we go in search of the source of the Mississippi. I hope we don't have to go to far because I have my flying loafers on.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 25, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about your lay-off. Way too much of that going around. Also, condolences to everyone with minor injuries. I've decided that I'm at the age where there are no minor injuries any more.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 25, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm very sorry, Sneaks, but I know you'll make the best of it! *HUGSSSSS*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 25, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

badsneakers, sorry to hear about the lay off, hope you find something you enjoy equally as much soon.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 25, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

As I am typeing this post, my daughter and niece are driving to Philidelphia to get a cheesesteak. Whatever gave them a silly idea like that I haven't a clue.

al may apppreciate this quote from my 7 year old son, who was on the computer right next to me. With increasing frustration, he finally got out of his chair, stomped his feet and after a loud Grrrrr yelled, "THIS STUPID COMPUTER WILL NEVER WORK BECAUSE OF THAT FRIGGIN MICROSOFT ERROR!!!"

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | July 25, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

So sorry to hear about your job situation, badsneakers. Hope it won’t be long before you find another.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 25, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear the news, BadSneakers, but that will give you more time to Boodle, right?

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | July 25, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest that anyone who can stand to do so should watch Rachel Maddow's coverage of the ins and outs of the arrest situation from last night.

She made a particularly huge point about Obama. The focus was on the brief ad lib'ed statement.

Secondly, she was very correct to say that it is a huge improvement to have a President that shows that we should talk to those with whom we have disagreements.

(you can find the show on

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse


best wishes with you in the coming weeks. I too feel that you will find something equally important to you. Keep an open mind, as I have. Sometimes, we fear that journey into the unknown.

There is a whole lot of pride that can get bruised and self-esteem challenges, but these are times where we have good friends and family to find support.

You remind me that I wrote a couple of days ago (or was it one day)... that things may be warming economically. The sad truth is that "good" in America would be when new unemployment claims drop below 500K. That number really is stunning. That's a half a million folks. That's good.

After being in and out of a couple jobs in '08, I did what a number of people do, I did plan "A" and plan "B" at the same time.

The economy is quite humbling. One thing I don't usually do when meeting people for the first time, is ask them what they do.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

Sneaks, so sorry about the lay off. As it happens I received a layoff notice yesterday too. It was a mistake, someone mislaid my resignation paperwork and my memo volunteering for a furlough for half the days I had left to work. In my employer's case I'm inclined to think it was as much mismanagement as the economy that is causing trouble.

Off to Bemidji to pick up a boat motor that was in for repair. No need for any motor head excitement. Just a little 6hp for the fishing boat.

Did I miss discussion of the perfect game? I have always dreamed of seeing a no-hitter in person. To be present for a perfect game would be...indescribable.

Later gators.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Weed, I love Rachel Maddow, she is one of the smartest, most articulate people on TV.

Thanks for the good wishes everyone. The thing that I’m most upset about, besides my own situation, is the fate of the company. They are all super nice people who do their jobs very thoroughly and well. Even the bosses live simply, neither drives a fancy car or has a superior attitude, it is truly a good place to work. I hope and pray that things turn around for them. Of course, if they do, I’m sure to be called back - so there’s that too!

Posted by: badsneakers | July 25, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

gators in Minnesota

Posted by: bh72 | July 25, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

yello! I totally missed your post about going to the source of the Mississippi. You will be but a stone's throw from Chez Frostbitten (near for here anyway, it's about a 2 hour drive). Drop me a line at roboticsnorth at yahoo dot com if you'll be in Bemidji (the halfway point, and I'm there today anyway). I'll keep an eye on my blackberry in case we can freak out your family with an impromptu BPH in front of Paul and Babe.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Weed said something about cooperation with the police that reminded me of one major reason why a knee-jerk cooperation can be dangerous--

The cop might not be a cop.

In which case, Gates' yelling and attracting a crowd could have saved his life.

(Link to original article therein)

Note this comment: "Perhaps if citizens weren’t so afraid to be seen to be disrespecting an officer’s Authori-tah, victims would be more willing to ask for proper ID and verification before letting a fake cop into their house."

This doesn't just occur here; it occurs worldwide from the brief look I got.

There are also legit cops that might be dirty.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 25, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Since hypotheticals seems to be the name of the game, let's assume the cop left the scene while the man was still acting irrationally. Now let's say that same man goes back into his house, stews in his own juices, becomes more irrational, gets out a weapon and then goes on a spree in the neighborhood. What would we be saying about the cop then?

Off on my trip to the city. Just a day trip though...probably no time for shoe shopping. Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 25, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

happy morning and weekend, al.

here's an amusing now viral video:

it's even linked from wapo home page today. (my sister forward it to me yesterday.)

bh, speedy recovery to you.

sneaks, sorry to hear about your layoff. i hope things improve for the company.

Posted by: LALurker | July 25, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, I'm so sorry to hear about your layoff. At least you got your vacation in first. I hope you can find something soon.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

At least I have a very busy day here. The concert tonight and a cookout this afternoon. It’s the last annual get together at my elderly cousin’s house. He’s just getting too old to do all the prep and such and his wife isn’t well. I am debating asking him about this whole Gates thing. My cousin is a retired cop from a town that is near Cambridge. I don’t want to start a big political brouhaha (sp?) as I know most of my relatives are far more conservative than I am. Although I’m tempted to say something if only as a subtle hint for one of them to stop sending me anti-Obama emails, some of which are pretty close to being racist. I’ll just have to judge the atmosphere and take it from there.

It’s hot and humid here. I’m not complaining but as we haven’t had more than a day or two of this type of weather all summer, the adjustment is a b1tch! Have a great day everyone.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 25, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Have a happy day trip, LiT.

Tomorrow is always another shoe day.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 25, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

LA lurker, I saw that video yesterday, and it's lots of fun. But why is the WaPo in the business of sharing viral youtube videos through its homepage? This is news? I don't mean to be one of those cranky types, and I enjoy a lot of the more frivolous parts of the paper and website, but generally there's real value being added by a WashPost person, whether Liz Kelly, Lisa DeMoraes, whoever. Maybe I should check the link first and see if someone has written trenchant social commentary to accompany the link. Back soon.

Posted by: -bia- | July 25, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Huh, and now it's gone from the homepage. What am I going to whine about now?

Sneaks, really sorry to hear about your layoff. Best wishes to the company for a quick recovery. It sounds like you've got a great day planned -- enjoy!

Posted by: -bia- | July 25, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

bia, i swear it was on the home page when i posted the link, but i don't see it there now. however, the article is still listed under most viewed articles.

Posted by: LALurker | July 25, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I saw it there before I came to the boodle earlier -- wasn't doubting you, in any case. I just read the perfectly nice little article that went along with it. It's still an example of leaping onto a media bandwagon, but hey, if it gets us away from more contentious and unproductive bandwagons, I guess I'm okay with it.

Posted by: -bia- | July 25, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

i'm sure it has something to do with page views.

Posted by: LALurker | July 25, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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

Hello, friends. Badsneakers, sorry about the job, but hopefully things will improve, and before you know it, you'll be back at work. We're all hoping this economy does turn around and the sooner the better. In the meantime, do some of that stuff you've been putting off. And please don't beat yourself up about it, you are not on that island alone.

The g-girl is gone. She's home with mom and dad. Whew! I'm just beat. She's like a whirlwind that just takes all the energy while in the room.

We need a national conversation on Race, and soon. Stop putting it on the backburner.

It is hot and muggy here, and the air is so thick. I suspect we'll get some more rain. Not complaining, just glad to be here. Yoki, Slyness, Mudge(hope you're having fun) Scotty, Martooni, and everyone, have a great day. *waving*

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 25, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes... have fun LiT!

Enjoy this very nice Saturday. Weekend for most, but a weekday for me.

There seems to be no hypothetical on the fact that the poor cop must have got into a war of angry emotional words with Gates.

He (Crowley) knew that Gates was within his rights to (1) ask him to leave; (2) ask him for his ID; and (3) yell at him within the walls of his house.

Gates probably shouldn't have done any of this other than ask for the ID or even said anything that provoked the officer in the first place.

What interests me is that both men are in positions of power where they know that they should be respected by others. In fact, I think I heard something odd come from Gates, post-incident that surprised me... He said something like I didn't realize how easy it is for a black man to be abused by a policeman.

Something about the risk and constant threat that black males face.

All I could think was "REALLY!?!?!"

LiT's question or hypothetical is a great one. Of course, I can't help turning that on its side and wonder why we DO experience such problems. There was possibly something that the officer did to trigger the irate behavior. Likewise, the officer's own reaction and change of situational position happened as a result of something said or done.

It is very safe to say that these little encounters happen quite often. In this case... bad days can combine with what I mentioned earlier, that both mean are used to controlling other people's lives and used to getting their way.

Great move by Obama to get back involved correctly after a "not so swift" first comment.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Not only do I not think that we need a national discussion on race, I don't believe that such a thing is possible. People bring so many different needs, experiences, viewpoints, feelings, etc to the issue that no particular discussion could be useful to most of the participants. What we need (I think) is lots and lots of little discussions about race.

Some of them do take place, some of them right here.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Rainforest's discussion about health care costs are so important. One of the major factors between his country and ours is the level of compensation of the Docs and other medical personnel.

Hospitals are also huge revenue generators.

Proper healthcare has turned into a luxury item in America. The so-called minimum wage is not really a supportable income stream for a person much less a parent living in any of the more expensive parts of the USA.

We coddle the rich at the expense of the less well off. Now, we wonder where the purchasing power in our economy has gone.

If you keep gaining greater labor productivity through lower labor costs per hour, sooner or later, you are going to have to pay the piper.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 25, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Today's WashPost article about Chicago's Urban Health Initiative is good. Nice to hear news of folks who are trying to tame this beast.

"If Not the Emergency Room, Then What?"

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I keep wondering about the black spot on Jupiter. I thought it was supposed to get smaller after the initial sighting. But I'm unsure what was expected by the experts. If they agreed in the first place on what to expect.

Maybe it's something wonderful.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Infra red from Mauna Kea

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I guess Jupiter's tough enough to take it, but if something hit *me* hard enough to leave an 8,000-kilometer bruise, I'd probably have to call in sick.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Just looked at Rachel Maddow's show from last night on the web site -- very, very good. But I like her anyway, even if I don't watch her show in real time very often. Obama is such an adult. He did exactly what he needed to do, and he did it exceptionally well.

Sneaks, I add my good wishes for you to the boodle pile of same. Hope things work out.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 25, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

And we've been allowing an unfair competitive advantage to big business while forcing smaller business to discriminate against the disabled and older employees or face even greater costs.

Minority discrimination can also be masked as health insurance adjustments.

Mortality and disease statistics can be used to back up higher insurance rates; this hurts small minority-owned businesses in competitive fields.

This study is not news to me; small businesses don't have the bargaining leverage for health insurance that bigger corporations have.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 25, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Is it legal to test job candidate for pregnancy prior to hire?

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

For some jobs, it's sometimes legal to require proof of non-pregnancy. I can't imagine there there are many jobs where positive proof of pregnancy would be a requirement, though. I don't think that it's generally legal to consider temporary medical conditions as hiring factors, but we're outside my area of expertise.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I wouldn't think so, Jumper. Why? Probably you can google that and find out. I've been reading up on disorderly conduct charges (psst, in MA, the "in public" part is very important, so stay inside, even if the cop says he'll give you his badge number outside).

Bob S, I kind of agree with you, but even on the Boodle I'm not sure we're listening very well. And face it, we're mostly a bunch of white folks. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and not that we all agree, obviously.

I think it's very nice of the President to have invited these guys to the White House, but it seems like he has enough to do already...I would love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting, though...sure hope they behave themselves!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with bobs: we need many small and medium conversations ongoing about race, class, and other qualities that can result isms-clashes.

Thanks, RT; back is good.

Sneaks....sigh. I am glad to be a 75 percent time with no losses. However, huge furloughs loom statewide.... Prayers and etc. May you invest the time with family and friends. Sew if you like. Read a titillating-trashy summer novel. Faxing blackberry pie to you and homemade whipped cream with just a lacing of sweetness.

RickOshea and I met for a quick bite near Balto last night. Lovely company and we did have one of the small conversations. Here is what she mentioned earlier in the boodle -last kit back. I appreciate that she knows the Cambridge area well. The Townie-Gownie dynamic plays into this complex collision also.

Swim season is over. CPBoy nearly swiped a berth in the next level of meets in a flashy, splashy, go to the wall finish. Good job done by all. Hot out; need to rehydrate and recover from sun. Will imagine a scene of ice bergs and cool mists.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 25, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Apparently there is a Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA):

Seems to me there was Supreme Court case related to pregancy, but I can't remember the details. May have had to do with barring women from a job (with some sort of chemicals) because they might become to Google again...I should be watering my garden. Going to be a hot one today.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

More on the PDA - originally passed in 1978.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

seasea - OCAW v American Cyanamid was decided in favor of American Cyanamid in the DC Court of Appeals, and I'm pretty sure it was settled before moving on to the Supreme Court. That's probably what you're thinking of. It was what I was thinking of when I said that there are some instances where it can be legal.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Because I've been filling out lots of job applications lately, I've seen some interesting questions. One asked if I had used nicotine in the last 6 months. I've been to a class at the unemployment office that takes you through what you have to answer and what you don't, but these automated applications can be tough to get through. You have to be a bit creative.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I was thinking of this Supreme Court case, Johnson Controls:

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Since CqP mentioned it, I'll reiterate my comments about the class conflicts in the Cambridge area. There's always been a class/race/ethnic divide there. I know. I grew up there, went to catholic school in the neighborhood, worked at the Harvard Square Wooolworth's during college, selling party supplies to Harvard students. Later I worked at Harvard and later at M.I.T. I married a professor and we moved to the ritsiest neighborhood in Cambridge, so I know what I'm talking about.

The Cambridge cop ,Sgt. Crowley,
grew up in North Cambridge, a traditionally Irish lower middle class neighborhood, so I assume that his original neighborhood attitudes underlie some of the police training he has received. When confronted by Prof. Gates playing the race/class card ("Do you know who you're messin'with?"), Sgt. Crowley overreacted.

The following is from a blog dictionary of Boston area accents and vocabulary. It's very accurate.


A Hahvuhd student, at least to Cambridge and Somerville residents. Derived from Barnyard, which is what the townies call Havuhd Yahd. However, Eric Vroom recalls: "I can remember about ten years ago people in Somerville had bumper stickers and hats reading "NO BARNIES IN SOMERVILLE!!" And it just didn't mean Harvard students, it was any geek from Cambridge." Meanwhile, R.D. McVout shows how to use the word as an adjective, in a debate in the newsgroup about trendy restaurants in Somerville: "Why don't all of you terminally hip folks go and discover some other environment to befoul and bemoan. As a resident of Somerville, I'd be beside myself with glee if all of you Barney-assed pseudo-cognoscenti would climb into your Explorers and go back across the river where you obviously long to be."

Posted by: rickoshea0 | July 25, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that, Maggie.

Bob, I just caught the names on the ruling you linked to. Bork and Scalia [shudder].

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

If it's Saturday, this must be Istanbul...

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 25, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I had forgotten about that one. Well, I think that settles it. Since employers can urge, but not coerce, fertile or pregnant women to avoid jobs which involve fetal risk, I wouldn't imagine there's any legal protection for asking about pregnancy status. Either you're up to the job, or y'ain't.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks RickOshea -- tried to post your snippet from boodle-back but could not do it. Cannot be sure this will go through. Better re-jibber my FIOS settings once again....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 25, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Scottynuke, I certainly hope tomatoes cure bad backs. I strained my lower back Thursday (darn regular exercise) and am moving slowly and with discomfort - but I bought a big ole mess of tomatoes this morning. I ate a Mr. Stripey for lunch. Yum.

I'm sorry about your job, badsneakers, and about your thumb, bh. LiT - no time for shoe shopping!?! Rickoshea, I lived in Somerville while I was at law school, in a triple-decker, but I was way too busy being geeky to do anything to which the Somerville residents could object. We all were. No fancy coffee shops or trendy restarants for us - it was Stah Mahket all the way.

I had two tomato plants in pots not ten feet from my door. They began producing lovely round green tomatoes. Just before they were big enough to pick green, the deer swooped in. Not only did they take the fruit, they reduced the plants almost to stalks. One is starting some more tomatoes so I'm going to see what happens next. I didn't think the deer would come so close to the house. They're not hungry, mind you - there's plenty of habitat here. They just liked the snack.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 25, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm not ruling out the possibility that there might be a job with a legitimate requirement that the employees actually be pregnant, but I can't think of any. Abortion pill tester, maybe. Not very steady work.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 25, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, the two-year old son of a very good friend of mine called that supermarket, "the stahr mahrgrit."

Obama lived in Somerville too while he as at HLS. Quite an august population.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | July 25, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

There was at least one landlady from the eighties through the early nineties who would only rent her double-sided triple-decker to law students. She said she could always track us down. Also, we didn't give loud parties or tear things up.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 25, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Well Bob, if the female is a mare there is always the premarin farm. By the way in your "small talk" post you were channeling Capehart's today's column.

The sun came out for a couple of hours but with all this humidity it became all muugy immediatly. What a rotten summer so far.

Hey Sneaks, good luck with the job hunt.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 25, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

A couple of quick comments - I think the discussions regarding race are good, though as others point out, it's incredibly complex, and sometimes things that look like race issues may in fact not be, and at other times, things that don't look like encoutners influenced by race may in fact be.

The behavior or motiviations of individuals involved in an interaction or encounter may not be explicable even by the individuals involved. However, we all have to be responsible for ourselves and our charges, don't we?

I don't pretend to be an expert, and I haven't even stayed in a Holiday Inn lately.

As far as the new spot on Jupiter goes - presumably created when an object crashed into it - I wouldn't expect it to fade soon. The great red spot is a storm about the size of Earth that's been raging for aroud 200 years of Jovial human observation, and shows no sign of letting up. Another Earth-sized atmospheric disturbance may or may not result in a storm of some sort from the mixing of hot and cold gasses, much as they do here on Earth. Personally, I wouldn't expect it to disappear quickly.


Posted by: -bc- | July 25, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse


I'm sad to hear about your job. Best of luck to you in your search.

Enjoy the show tonight! That should be a lot of fun. Maybe they'll perform your song!

Posted by: -pj- | July 25, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Birth mother, Bob S.

Or wet nurse (pregnant and scheduled to deliver at similar times as the hiring mother).

I suppose some scientific studies of pregnancy or long-term studies starting prenatally might qualify too.

Not that those are our ideas of 9/5 jobs, of course.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 25, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

That's right! I meant to tell Sneaks how frenvious I am that she's going to a Steely Dan show - I've never seen them. But I totally forgot that song!

This is one of my favorites:

Well, the whole Aja album...

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

It's been a while, but there was a story about some guy who faked a pre-employment urine test and the lab discovered it was a woman's urine because it tested postively for pregnancy which turned out to be the case. It was a "ha ha." I thought they buried the lede, which was "companies surreptitiously test for pregnancy along with the drug test."

My internet's been buggy so I guess I will give up on dialog, it's in and out and out all day today for sure. Except now.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Times reads Joel? Answers: is Jupiter really good goalie?

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Sneaks, I'm so sorry to hear about the job. You'll be in my prayers. Just so you know, every one I know who has been laid off has found another job, and I'm sure you will too, and soon, I hope.

Heehee, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. When we had our first firefighter pregnancy in the spring of 1989, the division chief's first thought was to send the young woman home without pay. Those of us who knew about the Act kept our mouths shut, to see what would happen. He called the Phoenix Fire Department to inquire about their policy; they told him they normally gave the expecting firefighter a baby shower. He then contacted the Seattle Fire Department, who informed him about the Act. He was annoyed about having to have her on light duty throughout her pregnancy. Like we never granted light duty to guys who were getting over injuries - the hypocrisy was breathtaking.

I worked with the young woman, and she was a conscientious, productive employee throughout her time with us.

Posted by: slyness | July 25, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Long Fatuous Garden Comment Alert

Just cleaned up from a long afternoon of gardening. I foresee lots of sore muscles in the morning, but I have divided the irises in time to get decent bloom out of the them next spring. Planted 3 black eyed Susans and a liatris that is a bit taller than the 2 I already had. I've been kicking myself all summer for having the tall stuff in the front of the sunny island bed and the short stuff in back (as seen from the house, from the river it looks great). Because the tall perennials are finally established enough to put on a real show I didn't want to move them. The answer to this dilemma finally hit me-expand the bed so that the tall plants are now in the middle and new short plants can go in the new front. Why do I always decide these things after I've returned from town where I could have rented a sod cutter?

Should have enough snow peas ready to harvest a decent meal this week, carrots are doing nicely too. The leaf lettuce is starting to get just a little bitter, but I kind of like it that way with some ginger dressing, peanuts and bacon. It can stay another week to be replaced with spinach seed. I'm thinking I can get some baby spinach before frost. The "Sweet 100" tomatoes are just starting to turn yellow, it won't be long now.

In flower now-daisies,black eyed Susan, 3 varieties of day lilies, clematis, campanula "Bowl of Cherries" (both a division made this spring and the mother plant), astilbe just starting, hydrangea chugging along, and blue speedwell. Ready to open this week-4 or 5 varieties of hosta, liatris, poppies, and Russian sage. I was a bit late cutting back the blue salvia but hope to get a second flush of flowers anyway.

A fine patch of milkweed on the forest's edge is in full bloom but I haven't seen any monarchs yet this year. Maybe they had a chance to lay eggs while escaping notice.

CqP and others who are trying them, how're the moon flowers doing?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's a review from the Boston Globe about a show Steely Dan did Thursday:

You would have enjoyed it, seasea. (I've never seen them either.)

Posted by: -pj- | July 25, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* The moonflower vines are hanging in there, frosti, but no blooms in spite of my watering them. We even got a good rain the other night, but so far, nothing. They're in the whiskey barrel and trailing up the twine, but it's a very hot spot and that is probably the issue.

Posted by: slyness | July 25, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Increased homemade contrast photo using NASA original.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 25, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I was wondering if drug testing gives companies the opportunity to do pregnancy testing. But I suppose they would have to trump up something else as a reason not to continue the hiring process. Glad I'm too old to worry about that.

That does sound like the perfect Steely Dan concert for me, although I like most of their music, so anything would be good. Hope Sneaks is having a good time.

A local weather scientist blogged about noctilucent clouds here:

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I meant to add that I have quite a few moonflower vines. The one that had been in the greenhouse is about 2 feet long - no blossoms yet, but I'm hoping.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

slyness and seasea-you are both ahead of me, I have one anemic vinelet about 6 inches tall. Ma frostbitten used to grow moonflowers here with ease (direct sewn in the garden). I used to think if my mother could grow something anyone could-she's that indifferent a gardener. This plant is going to be my undoing.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Badsneaks, I hope you're enjoying Steely Dan tonight and that the events of the past week stay in your rearview mirror.

Jumper, the concept of the outer gas giant planets playing sweeper/defense for the inner system has been around for awhile -- I remember discussion of that idea decades ago.

Jupiter's been a pretty good goalie, though the dinosaurs might argue that point.


Posted by: -bc- | July 25, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

frosti, that made me laugh. You have milkweed, though, which I cannot for the life of me grow (I'd have to import the monarch butterflies, but that's beside the point). The weather's probably been too cold for your moonflower this year - we've had abnormally hot and dry weather, and mine aren't doing all that great. My morning glories are the best they've ever been, but compared to back east, they're puny. But I'm getting multiple blooms per day.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 25, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers, I think I was away for about 24 hours--it's hard to catch up with you people! For kicks I tried reading the current bodle in reverse order. That didn't make it any easier.

Badsneakers, sorry to hear about your layoff. Keep a good attitude and everything will be fine. Breathe. Do yoga if possible. I'm serious.

Seasea, regarding strange questions on job applications, this one has been ticking me off: "Do you rely on public transportation?" Whew. That query is just wrong on multiple levels.

Best to all and good night...


Posted by: kbertocci | July 25, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

kb! Have you seen RB on Have I Got News For You? He's not even the funniest bit, a little out of his element I think. Now I'm hooked on the show.
Here's a link to Pt. 1 of 5 on You tube

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

badsneakers, I'm sorry to hear about your job-troubles.

Can I just say that I had a great day, in spite of the old car dying? I am enthusiastic about my job, I have today been approved for a mortgage so I can finally move forward on buying my own place in my beloved neighbourhood, and I love and am loved by a most extraordinarily wonderful man.

So that is all very nice, I think.

Posted by: Yoki | July 25, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Ah it is good isn't it Yoki.

Bassneaks, I'm so sorry to hear about your job and I hope that you find something good with all possible speed.

And same to some of our other boodlers out there. May good mojo be had by all.

Posted by: --dr-- | July 25, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams, and super best dreams to Yoki.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 25, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Frosti I have three moonflowers that are thriving, one had a bloom that mysteriously fell off (rabbit, dog or just natural?). I am confident they will bloom eventually if we get some warmer temps and a little less rain.

We received over an inch of water today but in some sort of boodle magic the skies cleared just before TBG and Dr. G joined us for a delightful dinner - such wonderful dinner companions.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 25, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Frosti I have three moonflowers that are thriving, one had a bloom that mysteriously fell off (rabbit, dog or just natural?). I am confident they will bloom eventually if we get some warmer temps and a little less rain.

We received over an inch of water today but in some sort of boodle magic the skies cleared just before TBG and Dr. G joined us for a delightful dinner - such wonderful dinner companions.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 25, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

For something so interesting, there seems to be a dearth of photos of the Jupiter impact. Here is one.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 26, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Oops. Old Shoemaker-Levy photo.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 26, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse


Sorry for the late notice of the sidetrip to your neck of the woods, but it was a last minute detour. Our original itinerary was to spend the night in Bismarck and press on to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Instead, after dinner at Merriwether's on the Missouri River we pressed onto Fargo for the night.

This gave us a few extra hours to spend in Minnesota. Searching our AAA book for gem-rated destinations not too far off the beaten path led us to Itasca State Park. It wasn't until I was reading the road signs that I realized I would be within twenty miles of Bemidji. The park was lovely and my son became a child again with the chance to repeatedly walk across the Mississippi River.

We also had a great meal in Park Rapids at The Good Life Cafe and ice cream at MinneSoda Fountain. As it was, we barely made our flight but it did let us finish listening to Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff.

We did see a bunch of signs for the Heartland bike trail which looks like a lot of fun, so we may be back someday.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Not long before I landed my current job, I half-heartedly applied for a position for which I was pretty certain that I was over-qualified and, "not what they were looking for". One of the questions (as mentioned above) was, "Do you rely on public transportation?"

I know it was silly, but I couldn't help myself. I replied: "Certainly! If not for public transportation, my commute each day would be clogged by even larger hordes of incompetent drivers."

I didn't get the (well-paying) job, but it still amuses me.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 26, 2009 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Oh... honesty compels me to admit that I pronounced it ...

That might have been the deal-breaker.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 26, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

Having never heard of I've Got News For You before, it was inevitable that in my post-vacation internet wallow I would stumble across this:

I had also never heard of Brian Blessed before as well and now I will never forget him.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

I have arrived at my nice hotel in Cologne, Germany. Oddly, there is no particularly manly aroma, even though I am right next to the Rhine -- surely that is the Eau de Cologne of which I have heard so much. Anyway, the aroma may change later in the day, when the biergartens start moving product. Wireless internet access here is a princely 29 euro (about US$58 at the exchange rate I paid at the airport) for 30 days, which is better than the hotel's wired access -- 27 euro PER DAY (but including access to all the adult movies my little spirit can tolerate). I opted for the cheaper and less-erotic wireless access.

My luggage is not yet here. Contrary to the assurances of the nice check-in lady at BWI, luggage is NOT automatically transferred to the train for the last portion of the trip, by rail. The nice Lufthansa lady tells me that my luggage should be delivered to the hotel later today.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 4:35 AM | Report abuse

F1 Felipe Massa hit by a flying suspension piece. Now being put into a controlled coma after the operation ….sad. After F2 Henry Surtees died last week struck by a flying tyre, you would think they would bolt things down real tight….

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 26, 2009 4:44 AM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, hope you get your luggage as promised.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 26, 2009 4:52 AM | Report abuse

I see there are questions about the impact spot on Jupiter. Due to the gravely unjust character of the universe, I have not personally collected any data on the target, although I anticipate getting the chance to do so in about two weeks. However, certain things are known from the last time this happened, 15 years ago (which was also the first time anything like this had been known to happen for certain):

(1) The impact site is absolutely nothing like the Great Red Spot. The GRS is a storm system with lots of angular momentum, extending who-knows-how-deep into the atmosphere/body of Jupiter. The impact site is marked by fine aerosol debris (possibly dust, possibly droplets of stuff, we don't know) that has been delivered to the upper stratosphere. It is a pretty tiny amount of material compared to Jupiter (say, the mass of several major mountains. Hardly anything).

(2) We know that in general, the particle size in the debris field is small because the debris fields persist for a fairly long time. Therefore, the fallout is not snowing down onto the visible clouds, about 400 km deeper in the atmosphere, which means the particles are small enough to held up by aerodynamic drag.

(3) "A fairly long time" means "several weeks". The cloud of debris is dispersed by natural diffusion and by wind shear. Possibly photochemistry (meaning UV in sunlight breaks down the chemical composition of the debris).

(4) Some abnormal molecular species were found in small but detectable quantities in the stratosphere of Jupiter for a year or two after the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts.

(5) But, we know little about wind transport in the stratosphere. The stratosphere is transparent at most wavelengths, so there are no clouds to track. There are other methods... but they are complicated by the fact that Jupiter itself is an extremely rapidly rotating object (10 hour period, compared to Earth's 24 hour period, and the planet is 11 times wider, too). Attempting to measure the actual velocity of gas requires extraordinary accuracy in knowing which part of Jupiter one is pointing to.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 5:11 AM | Report abuse

As long as you don't move around your luggage may catch up with you. Buy some clean underwear in the meantime.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

mrdr is in Minnesota this weekend too. I expect they will be hitting the road mid-day today to head back.

So if anyone down in that fine state, sees my small blue Fit driving erratically round the state, could someone give them a map? Or maybe just point them north.

Posted by: --dr-- | July 26, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

If I point 'em north, they'll need a passport, dr.

Yellojkt, cool you were out there.

I think you're crazy to spend a day driving across Minnesota when you could be out boating and soaking up amazingly mild summers, but then, limited time makes us all crazy.

Bemidji is having a dragon boat regatta starting this week-- I believe first racing day is July 30. Before that it's team practices.

Walking across the Mississippi was a good idea though. Done it myself.

Hope North Dakota is as exciting.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 26, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Yes, it rained again and more is expected.

Massa is apparently stabilized. He got really unlucky.
"Felipe Massa's huge qualifying crash in Hungary was triggered when the spring from the third damper on Rubens Barrichello's Brawn came loose. It hit the F60 firstly just in front of the cockpit, before then striking the cockpit's side protection (left arrow - quite damaged, this area is made of a special foam to absorb impacts) and finally the left side of Massa's helmet."

On the other hand bc's mancrush enjoy's a good start to his workday. But it's a long day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

yello -- IIRC, Brian Blessed played Julius Caesar in the series "I, Claudius" from the 70s. He is an extraordinary actor, and that was a great, if not over-the-top intense series. There's something about the Brit's ability to put on programs which are the absolute best, and which could probably not be done as well here.

Time to take the clothes outta the washers, put 'em into the dryers, make breakfast, water the indoor jungle and see what I can do about the creeping clutter (yeah, that's last for a reason).

Have a good day, everyone. And Yoki -- WOO-HOO to YOU!

Posted by: -ftb- | July 26, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Well folks, I'll never poo-poo muscle relaxants again. Took one in the late morning yesterday and could barely think the rest of the day! :-O

*Tim, glad you're safe on the ground, and never forget that most essential German phrase:
"Noch ein Bier, bitte schoen."

Hey, look what I found under the Lladro on the bunker coffee table!

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

July 26, 1918: Maj. Edward “Mick” Mannock, England’s highest-scoring ace of World War I with 73 victories, is shot down and killed by German ground fire; his grave is never found. Mannock is often considered the greatest patrol leader of any air force, any time, any where. Unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, Mannock had a bitter, personal hatred of the enemy and relished his kills.

*off-to-help-EldestNukeBro-celebrate-his-50th-birthday-so-tomorrow's-"Today-in-Nautical-History"-might-be-a-bit-late Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 26, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

SCC enjoys

Today is the last day of the TdF. A slow parade toward Paris (current speed 28km/h vs the usual 45-48 km/h) followed by 8 circling of a loop downtown in order to place the sprinters in place for the final rush to the finish line. The only prize still in play is the Green Shirt for the champion sprinter.
Armstrong had a fantastic day yesterday holding off the Schleck brothers to keep his third place. He is a real champion.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle.

I am rather thrilled for Contador.

Our weather has cooled considerably from yesterday, which is a relief to me. I really must stop procrastinating on buying an air-conditioner.

Hope you all have a lovely Sunday. Cassandra, take advantage of the day of rest.

Posted by: Yoki | July 26, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

frostiboots, thanks for the RB link. I think he WAS the funniest part of that show and indubitably the most attractive element on the dais.

Have you seen the Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2006 where Russell teamed up with Noel Fielding? Very entertaining, if you like that kind of thing. Noel isn't up to Russell's intellectual level but he's very pretty and sweet and they make a great pair. Here's the first link of that show:

Posted by: kbertocci | July 26, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse


It sounds like you are in an excellent place. I hope you can enjoy it for a long, long time.

Posted by: -pj- | July 26, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

*Tim, I didn't mean to imply that the latest Jovian impact was like the great red spot, but only that we don't understand that planet's atmosphere well, that the hole may be allowing a significant mixing of atmospheric strata (maybe the wrong word there) - to what effect, who knows? - , and that I thought it would last a long time by Earth atmosphere standards. A couple of weeks sounds about right - I was using the grs for illustrative purposes.


Posted by: -bc- | July 26, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning to all (and evening to rainforest)...

Tim, hope everything shows!!! and soon.

Is your trip a pure vacation, or is their work involved? Either way, these sorts of little annoyances can actually make a trip memorable in more ways than one.

Just watched an Internet Replay of Bill Moyers Journal

A good report on hate radio. Near the end of the segment, one of the quoted authors did make a great point, hate radio makes dialogue next to impossible.

If you hate someone, then you are far less likely to listen to what they have to say and more likely to just scream at them or worse.

Cassandra! I want to echo Yoki's sentiments. Take a break!!!

Anyway, it just occurred to me that the Gates discussion of IF Crowley had just left Gates in his home without arrest and Gates had gone into his home and grabbed a gun and ...

We know a few people who have had a particularly bad day might act against liberals based on the hate stuff coming out of radios, so what about them?

I happen to wake up to several terrible emails from an old friend who is a former teacher and has Medicare telling me about Obamacare. He has been so-tooled. It has been a decade.

Funny how the mind gets so blundgened from the stuff. To think that he had actually and quite correctly come up with Obama as the right choice, but, in the brine of his media diet, it's back to the same analysis.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 26, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

It *was* a scary moment when Massa's helmet took the impact from that third helper spring off of Barichello's Braun on the run down to that fast corner in the second qualifying session.

Both Massa and Barrichello being Brazilian, I'm sure there are lots of thoughts of their countryman (and my favorite F1 driver ever) Ayrton Senna who died in an accident at Imlola's notorious Tamburello corner in May of '94. The fatal injury was delivered by a suspension piece from Senna car, which came back on the intial contact with the wall and impacted Senna's helmet.

Massa was waving to the crowd and moving around as he was taken off to the hospital, so I take that as a hopeful sign despite the severity of the injury.

s_d, once again, the Hungarian GP is being shown on tape delay here in the US, about halfway through the Brickyard 400 broadcast. Oy.



Posted by: -bc- | July 26, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

bc, from what I read about the injury, I am amazed that Massa was somewhat alert. wow. Let's hope that he can make a full recovery.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 26, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Some people have a weird sense of humour. The rider in the very last position in the TdF is nicknamed the Red Taillight. The Tour doesn't give a special shirt for that dubious honour but the current (and final) holder to the title, the belorussian Yauheni Hutarovich, has attached a long red scarf to the back of his helmet...

Nice moment a bit earlier when Contador's race director offered him a glass of Champagne to sip while riding.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

kb-after a second watching of HIGNFY I agree that Russell was best. Can't believe that Big Fat Quiz was new to me, thought I'd seen everything Youtube had to offer in the RB area.

yello-that Brian Blessed link was priceless. Makes up for not being able to get a pic of imaginary friends in front of imaginary heroes.

Mr. F called after arriving in Indianapolis last night, apparently the only person in town who not only isn't interested in the Brickyard 400 but was blissfully unaware that it would be happening today. Explains why he couldn't get a good flight schedule on the gummint dime this weekend-scheduled events end tomorrow morning but his flight is at 8:00PM.

SciTim-good luck with the luggage. BTW-our regional 4-H educator is using the Hotel Mauna Kea video to show kids that even the pointiest of pointy heads have other talents and interests, and have fun in exciting places.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

kb-I have some bright orange "Terrain Janes" that I've been "saving for best." They aren't boots, but they're rootin' tootin' and henceforth I'll wear them more often and call them my frostiboots.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

frosti, very funny. Are you wearing them or are *they* wearing *you*? :-)

Posted by: kbertocci | July 26, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

kb, no question *they* wear *me*, and talk about my *real* tan shoes.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | July 26, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey, bc -- there is a long Maybach limo parked in front of the hotel here, right in front of an Audi that looks like it is designed to become airborne. Looks like it's the Audi R8.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Luggage has arrived. Yay!

Here for work. Boo!

But only half of each day is material that I can understand, so I can go wander. Yay!

Meeting goodies include a very nice notebook; a folding seating pad, beause the lecture halls apparently are old-fashioned unpadded wood; and an apron, because every other meting will give you a T-shirt.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

My bathroom has a toilet with a lid shaped so you can comfortably sit on top of it while using the tiny bathtub next to it -- presumably for bathing babies. That's what it's for, right? Right?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Try it, SciTim, and report back to us.

Glad to hear that you have found a happy relationship, Yoki. I *did* notice that. Congratulations!

Posted by: slyness | July 26, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I was vaguely aware of Doug Glanville, former MLB player, from the time he spent with the Cubs. But, his appearance on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me made me search out his writing. Really liked this one:

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm still sorting through the several hundred pictures I took, but this one couldn't wait.

That is part of what makes the Yellowstone caldera so beautiful and so scary. The landscape just steams. When it isn't gurgling and bubbling and spouting.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Can hardly wait for the pics and tales, yellojkt. I love that your son turned into a child again at the Mississippi. And it was a great idea to fly part way.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 26, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, yellojkt. That is a beautiful picture. I had the Ivansclan look at it to explain why we need to plan a Yellowstone trip.

ScienceTim, it seems a little cumbersome to have to pack a baby for every trip just to get full use of the hotel facilities. Are you sure that's what that basin is for? Congratulations, by the way, on your ability to skip out on the part of the meetings with material you don't understand. They always make us stay for the full thing, staring incomprehensibly ahead. Or maybe that's just me.

Thanks also, ScienceTim, for the Jupiter explanation. It was godlike in its comprehensibility.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 26, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes, it's kind of startling to discover that what you've been working on is yielding (a) a distinct, definite result; and (b) a result that actually matters.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Ah, SciTim. That is the difference between science and engineering. Without a result that matters, I'd be pounding the pavement pretty quickly. But what you do sure looks a lot more fun.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

By matters, of course, I mean that (a) it eliminates certain options for what we consider to be suitable models for reality; (b) it makes some of my colleagues say "Oh, Fudge! What have *I* been doing?"; and (c) my poster is just about done. I'll print it tomorrow at a colleague's workplace and post it Tuesday morning.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Flying out to Minnesota was a given. We've explored much of the intervening territory and the out and back drive would have added another four days to the trip. The rental car (a Mercury Mariner) cost more than the airfare, but handing over the keys and letting someone else clean the bugs off the grille was priceless. I had no ideas there were insects large enough to leave those kinds of marks. The mean distance between windshield cleaning and obscured vision was ten miles.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I want to pass along this link to the blog of a lady I met recently. She is in China for a year with one of her daughters while studying law.

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

From the "Mixed, Mangled & Muddled Metaphors" department, I offer this quote from a piece about the New Jersey corruption affair:

"Clearly, this is negative for Corzine," said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. "Because so many of the elected officials are Democrats, this gives the Republican opposition cannon fodder to paint Corzine with the brush of Democratic Party corruption."


Posted by: bobsewell | July 26, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Not a literature professor, that's for darn sure.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 26, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Yep, a top coat of cannon fodder over a basecoat of hay.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes that was a good decision to fly in, yellojkt.

I've made the drive to Minnesota more times than I care to recall and I definitely prefer flying.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 26, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

After driving to Minnesota from either VA or CA, with multiple pets and pulling a trailer, 5 out of 8 years I am very thankful to not have done it since '05. I have erased the Tampa-nearly Canuckistan drives of '05-'07 from my memory.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Frosbitten, with the powers invested in me by the Queen of the Wet Green North I hereby make you a Reversed Snowbird.

No kidding, the Wiches spent a couple of hours in the pool, a first since St-Jean-Baptiste.

Following the Flying Tire incident of this morning at the Hungaroring it looks like Renault will be suspended from the European Grand Prix to be held in Valencia next month. The locals won't like to be deprived of the presence of Spain's favourite F1 son, Fernando Alonzo.

Flying Tires aren't a risk to be taken lightly. Gilles Villeneuve's car lost a wheel in 1977 and killed one spectator and hurt a bunch of others.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

scc witches

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 26, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks sd. Can the Queen of the Wet Green North back off a bit and let my basil grow?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm way behind as I was out all day. Steely Dan was wonderful. They didn’t play “my” song but played some others that I haven’t heard them do in concert: Don’t Take Me Alive, Any Major Dude and Doctor Wu, to be specific. They started with The Royal Scam and ended with a cover of Dirty Water, Boston’s unofficial anthem. In between were two hours of nonstop beautiful music by a group of 13 excellent musicians. We had a great night and while having a bite at an outdoor cafe even bumped into someone we haven’t seen in a long time walking by on his way to the concert. Seasea, if Steely Dan ever plays near you, they are definitely worth the money to hear in person.

As I’m still trying to catch up from yesterday I’ll just mention that I worked at the Staah Maakit in high school. They were all over the greater Boston area.

I also did get my cousin’s take on the Gates matter. As he is also an Irish cop from a working class background, his reaction is the expected one, totally behind the cop. I didn’t get into a discussion of any of it as it just wasn’t the right time. I did remark to my other cousin’s wife that we had seen quite a few Obama bumper stickers on NS cars. Her response was that in a few months it would be someone else - so I asked who? She had no response which didn’t surprise me and I think I laughed at that point. Fun day seeing relatives from near and far, mostly far.

Too tired to back boodle any further tonight. Pretty soon I’ll have plenty of time for that. Alas ;-(

Posted by: badsneakers | July 26, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

s_d, I think IncyCar tires have gone into grandstands at Texas World, Charlotte, and Indianpolis Motor Speedway, with spectator injuries in a few of those cases. The IndyCar guys developed wheel tether systems that were adopted by NASCAR, F1 and other series to try keep wheel/brake/hub assemblies from going up and off of the racing surface to who knows where in the event of accidents.

Haven't watched my DVR recording of the Hungarian GP yet, so I don't know the circumstances of the Renault situation.

I do know that Massa was taken out of induced coma for a short time earlier today, and seemed to be responsive.

Scary looking fire in Tony Kanaan's car after his first pitstop at the Edmonton IndyCar race this afternoon, but everyone's OK, thank goodness. Looks like a refueling valve stuck open, and doused the car and driver with the ethanol fuel, which ignited as he pulled away from his pit. Several teams' pit crews came flying over the wall to his aid when he stopped on pit road, which is something I've always liked about IndyCar teams.

*Tim, the Audi R8 *is* a nice little spaceship, isn't it? And enjoy the fancy EuroToilets, dude. Remember, that cool pedal-operated water fountain next to the toilet is *not* for drinking.



Posted by: -bc- | July 26, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Re. My 6:46 - don't ask me how I found out the fountain is not for drinking or face washing.


Posted by: -bc- | July 26, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I really hope, bc, it wasn't in the same way I learned that that flute was not filled with champagne.

Posted by: Yoki | July 26, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Or how I learned that
kitty litter boxes aren't--
Um... that? Never mind.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 26, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Our experience
tells us dogs belly up to
cat box buffets- yum.

the frostcats

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 26, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

sneaks, all good things and hopeful thoughts!

I'd started typing this and a friend called; he's one of my professional references and wanted to talk about the interview I have tomorrow. I know this doesn't apply to badsneakers, but it does to me; he said, "Sometimes you just have to start new, think of where you want to be and move in that direction even if it's scary." He's right, and I'm glad there's an opportunity to start new.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 26, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 26, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi rainforest, May be I exaggerated the cost of my emergency hospital visit to get my hand sewed up. I haven't yet seen the the bill.
A real life example is the cost of my monthly visit to the same hospital family practice to see a doc that is trying to regulate my blood pressure. A 15 minutes appointment, 10 minutes face-to-face with the doc is $239. Medicare adjusts to cost down $150.49 and pay the hospital $70.81 and I pay $17.70.
My blood pressure had been in the acceptable range for guys my age of around 120/80. I was taking 3 different meds and I complained that one had doubled in cost at costco so he thyed something else. Didn't work. It went to 150/80. So he tried another formulation. Reminded me 'it's a practice of medicine.' Now on another formula but at the grocery store it's still 150/80.
But on the other had he gives me a month's supply of samples each visit of the new stuff.
I had been taking an asthma inhalers for years that contained steroids and have had thin skin and bleeding problems from any close encounters with bushes or door frames. When I was changed to him a couple of months ago when my old doc retired, He gave me four months supply of a new asthma inhaler without steroids that make me fell better but also has my skin thickening and the bleeding problem is almost gone. Just got to stay from the black berrys and rose bushes.

Posted by: bh72 | July 26, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

You will rock it, dbG.

Posted by: Yoki | July 26, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

The cricket tacos at Oyamel are delicious. Crunchy and spicy.

We saw Second City's 'Barack Stars' at the Wooly Mammoth tonight. Runs through August 9.

They have a great number skewering Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

The whole formulary system that insurance companies use as triage needs to be fixed. Some times it's only the non-generic stuff that works.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Not to keep picking at the scab, but here is a Gates-related comment by a lawyer-blogger I read:

Money quote:

"Conducting one's self in a disorderly manner is not actually against the law in a constitutional democracy. Being an @sshole isn't against the law, either."

Posted by: yellojkt | July 26, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Or we'd have so many people in jail that we wouldn't have enough people to run them, let alone the rest of the country, Yellojkt ;).

Not all of us are exemplars of moral rectitude. Some of us are just amoral rectums

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 26, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

yep, there are quite a few articles coming out now making that point. Which is why I thought that Obama's answer at the press conference was spot on. There's also this article which goes to the class distinctions rickoshea brought up:

Watched a program tonight on PBS about comedy called Make Them Laugh - this episode was about comedy and free speech. A lot of the focus was on Lenny Bruce, who got arrested in the middle of his act for using forbidden words - 7 times. Not that long ago. Once he was convicted, he couldn't get hired, and then was gone.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 26, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

bh72, good luck with the blood pressure medication. How’s the thumb?

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 27, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope that nobody is referring to SciTim as this:

Posted by: yellojkt | July 27, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Happy Monday, all. I'm sitting in the waiting room of the endoscopy lab in the local hospital, where Mr. T is having a colonscopy. We arrived at 5:50 for a 7 ayem appointment, as required. The things I do for that man! Not only did he not have any breakfast, I didn't have time for any either. OTOH, the wifi network was easy to connect to and is working quite well.

This is Mr.T's third colonscopy.Considering that his mother and grandmother both died of colon cancer, he's diligent about getting it done. I've had one and probably should go ahead and schedule another.

Posted by: slyness | July 27, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Mega-good wife points, slyness. Getting a husband to the doctor is no easy feat. I should know.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 27, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

*very-bleary-eyed-after-a-wonderful-evening-helping-NukeBro-the-Eldest-celebrate-and-too-fuzzy-to-come-up-with-a-snappy-intro Grover motions*

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

July 27, 1778: At the Battle of Ushant off the French coast, British Adm. Augustus Keppel fights to a draw French Adm. D’Orvillier in the first fleet action of the American Revolutionary War.
1909: Orville Wright, by now a veteran of thousands of flights, sets a new world’s record for flight duration, remaining aloft for 61 minutes.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 27, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

dbG, all good wishes to you on your interview today. I am continuing to look on the bright side here. However, I may eventually have to rethink jobs as, at my age, positions that I qualify for will be hard to get. Five days more at my job, they are letting me use the time to polish my resume and search for jobs so I can't complain.

Have a great Monday, everyone.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 27, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Thank you all for your good wishes! Between my imaginary and virtual friends, I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of good will and best wishes. I am blessed in my friends.

badsneaks, drop me a line if you're looking online and aren't sure you've found all the venues.

Imaginary lunch today? I'll bring homemade lemon meringue pie (as in when life gives you lemons, . . . )

Posted by: -dbG- | July 27, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Oops, and I'm heading into a technical interview.

Make that my imaginary and physical friends!

Posted by: -dbG- | July 27, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle.

Excellent commentary by Dionne today.

Posted by: Braguine | July 27, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. It's so dark I've had to turn the lights on in my cubicle, something I usually do only in the darkest of winter days. What a bummer of a summer.
We have an excellent shot at breaking the all time record for the amount of rain for the month of July. The record is 186mm (7.32in.), we were up to 180mm (7.1in.) last night and it's raining steady right now with a good probabilities for thunderstorms later. Yeah!

bc, I have the impression the tire came off the rim. The tether cannot do anything about that. I'm sure Renault and the japanese tire company are all over the case.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 27, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

badsneakers, best wishes with the polishing.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 27, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

New kit coming soon...

Posted by: joelache | July 27, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Shreik, hope you do not get all the rain we did, close to 3" since Friday - sun is out now finally - off to work before the next monsoon hits. Hopefully we will have better weather soon.

Have a great day all.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 27, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

New kit is here as promised.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 27, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 27, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

On 60 Minutes last night they had a segment on guns. They used the squishy term "assault rifles" often but refused to use the term "full auto" which actually means something. So long as debates are couched in imprecise terms we get nowhere. But we get there at a good rate.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 27, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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