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My Lost Decade

I realized this morning that it was exactly 10 years ago today that I started writing for the Web. I was hardly a pioneer online -- folks such as Mickey Kaus, and everyone at Slate, were writing online-only material long before I did. But I was the first in this particular newsroom to do it. The Post was about to launch an online edition called PM Extra, to go live every day at 1 p.m. I suggested to the editors (Tracy Grant, Mary Hadar, Steve Coll) that I do some kind of Zeitgeist thing, maybe just a couple of paragraphs, off the cuff, conversational, leveraging the immediacy of the Web. I know, you're thinking: HE INVENTED BLOGGING! No, but I did start getting up earlier in the morning and would file to Mary or Tracy by 11 or so, revise by noon, and, starting at 1 p.m., when the story went up on the home page, I'd answer emails from readers.

All of this was going to not only make me a huge star in the journalistic firmament but pave the way to Internet advertising riches for the company. That was the plan.

I'd link to that first online column, but it's no longer on the Web. One day a few years back I was informed that my columns -- hundreds of them -- had all been deleted to clear space on the company's servers.

The columns were also not kept, originally, in the company's internal story archive, but around 2001, after some whining on my part, most of the old columns did get archived. So here's what I wrote back then -- and, yes, it goes on way too long and sounds a bit mannered, like I'm trying to be Dave Barry.

From Aug. 24, 1999:

I'm delighted that you are reading these words, a new midday online column at The Washington Post's Web site, but my elation is tempered by concern that you may be a deeply disturbed, sick individual, one of the 11 million people who, according to actual experts, are suffering from some form of Internet Addiction. I don't want to be an enabler.

The latest alarm about Internet Addiction was sounded this week at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. A certain David Greenfield released the results of a study showing that 6 percent of Internet users meet the criteria for addiction. Said Greenfield, "Marriages are being disrupted, kids are getting into trouble, people are committing illegal acts, people are spending too much money."

The big issue here is whether we should consider Internet Addiction a genuine menace to modern society, or just the Disease of the Week.

It seems that every new, popular technology inspires an eruption of doomsaying and paranoia. For a couple of decades the television was the singular technological evil, destroying family communication, undermining democracy, and turning impressionable young minds into Cheez Whiz. The problem with technologies that we like is that we like them too much. In the wrong hands, even the simple credit card, a piece of plastic, can turn into plutonium. If you go back far enough, I guarantee that the defenders of cultural normalcy were terrified by the invention of the toaster. (Because, as you know, once you start getting really deeply into toast, it leads to harder stuff - English muffins.)

There's something odd about the new cyber-crisis. Researcher Greenfield is a psychologist in West Hartford, Conn., who operates a Web site on Internet Addiction at (it has been observed that treating Internet Addiction on the Web is like holding an AA meeting in a bar). He has also written a book, soon to be published, on Internet Addiction.
"You've got something that's kind of like a drug," he said this morning. "Every time you click on a banner or hypertext or a link, it's like pulling the handle on a slot machine. You never know what you're going to get. There's a real rush while you're waiting for whatever comes up."
Still, it's hard to embrace yet another addiction. The criteria are notoriously squishy, making it hard to distinguish the addict from the mere enthusiast. I particularly reject the legitimacy of those purported diseases and disorders for which I would be a potential poster child.
All that said (and pardon the hairpin turn), there clearly is something going on out there that is driving the addiction scenario. There are horror stories of people spending 100 hours a week online. In 1997, a Cincinnati woman was arrested after she locked her three small kids in a room, unsupervised, while she chatted online. Nathan Shapira, a University of Florida professor of psychiatry who has studied what he calls Problematic Internet Use, reports that one of his subjects got involved in a multi-user domain and did not sign off for seven days. He missed his classes, and police were called, and finally he was found in a college computer center.
"I've been very surprised at how destructive the Internet can be in people's lives," Shapira said. But he also said it's still unclear how often such situations merely reflect some other disorder. The seven-day man, for example, had a severe psychological illness. The question is whether the Internet can incite compulsive online behavior in otherwise disciplined and healthy people.
For the big picture I called Marshall Blonsky, the semiotician, a professor of communications at New York University. Blonsky said he's been, at times, a compulsive Web surfer. He has signed on at 11 at night and stayed online until dawn. He compares his state of mind in those hours to a kind of unconsciousness. The real addiction, he said, is the addiction to speed.
"Ours is a culture of speed. And the minute you say speed, you also say surface. And the minute you say surface, you say an impatience with duration, with time. The experience of the Internet is not the experience of reading, of reading a narrative, of scrolling down, that's the old way, that's the 20th century. The experience is the experience of hot hands, fast hands, of engagement and disengagement, of moving on, of replacement, of image replacement."
Blonsky speaks quickly, in steady verbal bursts, the ideas bubbling up from some limitless intellectual magma.
"The experience of single duration is replaced by fragmented multiplicity. It facilitates the feeling that you can indulge in anything, and that you can replace everything. Guess what? That's the society of consumption."
I'm never sure exactly what Blonsky is talking about, but yes, he's onto something, it all comes back to consuming, to the ravenous appetite for more, bigger, faster.
I want to try to bring this line of thought to its natural conclusion but the clock shows the morning is getting late and we need to get this posted. Everyone's on pins and needles because the Federal Open Market Committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve is meeting at this very moment and is going to say something later today about interest rates, which will result, I'm predicting, in the stock market either going up or down. Hurricane Bret is in the mountains of Mexico but Tropical Storm Cindy is coming toward the U.S. and there's some other mess of wet stuff out there, a "disturbance," that is expected to turn into Tropical Storm Dennis.
See, everything's happening faster now.
If you wish to send in comments on Internet Addiction, semiotics, the weather, or anything else, send an E-mail to Anyone sending more than five E-mails will be referred to the proper psychiatric authorities.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 24, 2009; 10:56 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama's Vacation Challenge
Next: Michael Jackson's Chemistry Experiment


Howdy, all.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 24, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse


I was wondering if Ravi Batra had anything new to say about the stock markets. Did find this article referenced on his web page:

Reagan: The Great American Socialist

Very interesting short piece about the "Reagan Revolution" that so many still consider the "good old days."

In a couple of paragraphs, Dr. Batra lays out what Reagan actually did to the USA. In a sense, it was much like what guys like Icahn and Carlyle Group do to corporations. Pull every last dollar out of the company making it totally incapable of riding out even the mildest downturn and then, to top it off, hand the keys to bunch of schmoes and say good luck, she's all yours.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 24, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

An olde classick!

And a good segue into best wishes for the birthday boy. Here's one for Mudge:

tune: Jerusalem

And did those hands in ancient time
Paint all his vessels’ bottoms blue?
And was that lowly ink stained wretch
In history there to report what’s true?
And did his wrath unfold at times
And end with all the trolls skewered?
And did our dear Curmudgeon
Guide the Boodle as Shop Steward?

Bring him his pen of burning red:
Bring him his copy edit file:
Bring him the mace that he shall yield!
Bring him his Manual of Style!
He will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall he rest, though in a fog
Till he has taught the comma rule
To all who read the Achenblog.

Posted by: engelmann | August 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

So now, you are sharing that the motivation was monetary? Joel, you did ride the wave of internet advertising!!!

I think that was it.

I say, wait for the next set.

Speaking of which, thanks to the internet, we can now do amazing stuff like track down old classmates like I did today (Aka Hemmings and Jimmy Jones). Oh, I think they were champion surfers, so I am told.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 24, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

It was easier to deal with approaching hurricanes back when you had no option but to watch the local TV station at designated times of day.

These days, the hurricane situation is complicated by the profusion of surf-prediction websites, which do things like predict big waves for our county's coastline, which hides behind an invisibility cloak of wave-diffusing limestone reefs.

That invisibility cloak helps conceal the one reef in the county that isn't cloaked and produces surfable waves. Nice ones. No one from neighboring counties will ever come down to visit, and even locals don't believe phone calls from their best friends. Best of all, Orlando residents don't know we exist. It's a situation that Carl Hiaasen might appreciate.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 24, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

My name is slyness and I am an Achenaddict.

See what this turned into, Joel?

Has it really only been ten years? It seems longer to me.

Posted by: slyness | August 24, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on 10 years of pioneering!

Posted by: mfigiel-krueger | August 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I can stop any time I want to.

I was intrigued by the notion of someone spending 100 hours a week online. What do they do with the other 68 hours? You can only sleep so much.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I should note that I am posting now, after impulsively spending $100 online, to maintain a 5 year old iBook. Or maybe it's 6.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 24, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

today it's 'Crackberries' that have everyone up in arms... who wooda thunk? wow, 10 years, how the time flies.

Posted by: MissToronto | August 24, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

A long, researched and fact-based posting for the web! It's so cute!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 24, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Only 100 hours? Who can do that?

That was a very interesting peek back to the eventual genesis of the Achenblog AND the Boodle, don't you think?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Repost from last Boodle:

I stole your flow chart for my blog. The union of computer experts is going to get on you for giving away trade secrets.

I am a highly functioning internet addict. I cope mostly by forcing myself to do things that take me away from the keyboard. It's an effort. More than one beautiful morning has been sucked away because there was always just one more Jonathon Coulton video to watch.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I don't know whether to answer you and look like a fool or answer you ... and look like a fool.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Just a very quick drive by before I am off again.

Happy Birthday Mudge!

Congrats on 10 years Joel.

Best wishes to frost daughter and the new Mr. frost daughter - lovely day for a wedding here.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 24, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

A pome for me? Why I'm all...verklempt *various manly throat sounds* Thanks, E-man!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Between LAL and ftb's birthday, frosty's dottir and Joel's 0th anniversary, I can see I'm gonna blow through my florist budget this week.
This might be an appropriate day for the following:
79 – Mount Vesuvius erupts. The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae are buried in volcanic ash.
410 – The Visigoths under Alaric begin to pillage Rome for three days. (I hava an alibi.)
1200 – John of England, famous for issuing the first Magna Carta, married Isabella of Angouleme at the Bordeaux Cathedral. I gave them a gift certificate to Bed, Loo and Beyond.
1215 – Pope Innocent III declares Magna Carta invalid. Still po’ed about not being invited to the wedding.
1456 – The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed. Typo on page 1,326.
1682 – William Penn receives the area that is now the state of Delaware, and adds it to his colony of Pennsylvania.
1814 – British troops invade Washington, D.C., and burn down the White House and several other buildings.
1831 – Charles Darwin is asked to travel on HMS Beagle. I begged off.
1875 – Captain Matthew Webb became first person to swim English Channel
1932 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly across the United States non-stop (from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey).
1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō is sunk and US carrier Enterprise heavily damaged.
1960 – A temperature of −88°C (−127°F) is measured in Vostok, Antarctica — a world-record low.
1989 – Voyager 2 passes Neptune.
1992 – Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida as a Category 5 Hurricane.
1995 – A dark, dark, dark, dark day in history: Microsoft releases Windows 95, and revolutionizes the PC world, with the introduction of the Start Menu
2006 – The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term "planet" such that Pluto is considered a Dwarf Planet.

Also born today:

1591 – Robert Herrick, English poet (d. 1674)
1884 – Earl Derr Biggers, American author (“Charlie Chan”) (d. 1933)
1898 – Malcolm Cowley, American literary critic (d. 1989). Jeez, could that man drink. Put me under the table I don’t know how many times.
1899 – Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer (d. 1986)
1899 – Gaylord DuBois, American comic book writer (Tarzan, Red Ryder, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon) (d. 1993)
1904 – Alice White, American actress (She was a doll. Unfortunate career. Don’t ask.) (d. 1983)
1912 – Durward Kirby, Gary Moore’s sidekick (d. 2000)
1915 – James Tiptree, Jr., American writer. A great guy, a tragic end. (d. 1987)
1922 – René Lévesque, Premier of Quebec (d. 1987). This one’s for you, Shriek.
1936 – A. S. Byatt, English novelist
1938 – David Freiberg, American bassist (Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Starship) )roomie of David Crosby, Paul Kantner and Janis Joplin, though not all at the same time)
1938 – Mason Williams, American guitarist and composer
1960 – Cal Ripken, Jr., American baseball player

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Another great health-insurance reform Tweet from Rainn Wilson...

"@rainnwilson: Broke my leg. Was going to call 911. Found out it was government run. Called various ambulance Co.s to have them bid. Died while on hold."

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: 10th.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, frosti! Wow, what a day for all of you.

Wow, 10 years of the Joel on the Internet, and coming up soon -- 5 years of the A-blog itsownself.

Amazing -- where did the time go? [Please don't answer that.]


Posted by: -bc- | August 24, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I know you are just baiting us geeks with the Tiptree aside. I refuse to take the bait. Oops, too late.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

A very happy birthday Mr. Curmudgeon - I always respect my elders ;-) Frosti, congratulations on the wedding and on missing all the angst, stress and expense of a big one.

Wow Joel, ten years, it's amazing how much the Internet has changed. I barely used it myself back then. Now, I wouldn't call myself an addict, I was fine without it during vacation, but it is a part of daily life that I'd find hard to lose.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 24, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I take it that Alice White's reputation wasn't quite as pristine as her name.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I remember the start of the WaPo chats, which I think came before the "online columns." Remember the "Love It, Hate It, Rate It" chat?

Love It: Traffic in D.C. in August
Hate It: Monday mornings
Rate It: The mental gymnastics involved in convincing oneself that the gummint can't run anything, so keep yer daggone hands off my Medicare: 8.7 (degree of difficulty 3.3)

Posted by: Raysmom | August 24, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

That online Rough Draft was my introduction to the concept of internet addiction. Before I knew about YouTube or lolcats, before I was a regular, I was hooked on the internet through the Rough Draft column. All these years later, as a much more adventurous internet reader/listener/viewer, I still haven't found anybody writing fresher or more interesting stuff than our Joel.

Thanks, Boss, for many informative and entertaining hours.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Congratulions to everybody. We show just how normal and sane people can remain even with an internet Achenaddiction...

happy birthday Mudge and bravo to englemann for the marvelous tune. Well done I say, sir, well done. Pip, pip, and tally ho.

Posted by: --dr-- | August 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

SCC, 10 years and still no spell check. sigh. Congratulations

Posted by: --dr-- | August 24, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Nor italics, dr. Nor italics.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, C'mudgeon. I hope you have a wonderful day.

It's our daughter's birthday today, too. For the past 4 years she's always been back at school on the big day but we are privileged to have her with us for this, the 22nd anniversary of her birth. (speaking of, "where does the time go...") So, much to celebrate today.

(Other famous birthdays: Stephen Fry and William Wilberforce)

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Heh heh heh (*evil chuckle meant for yello, who poked the spider web but wisely didn't fall into the Tiptree trap*)

(But it really was a very sad ending.)

By today's standards, Alice was practically a saint. She was married to X, fell in love with Y (presumably know), got divorced, married Y. Big freaking scandal in Hollywood in the 1920s or 30s. Today? A yawner. But it cost her her career.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that missing spellcheck. And no bold or italics. It makes a body wonder. Where did we go wrong?

Four years ago Hurricane Katrina was forming over the Bahamas. That was about the time that I found Achenblog, although I had enjoyed Joel's writing for a long time. I *do* remember Rough Draft. It was a good way to start an afternoon in the office.

Posted by: slyness | August 24, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Ah geez. Like I'm not feeling the years slip by fast enough as it is.

Yes, I remember that column. And I also remember suddenly realizing that although Joel Achenbach could do a pretty decent stab at doing what Dave Barry does, there was nobody else who could really do what Joel Achenbach does.

That made a lot more sense to me in 1999.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 24, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news:

Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terror Interrogations

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 24, 2009 2:23 PM

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they allegedly threatened terrorism suspects, according to two sources familiar with the move.

"Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

"Durham's mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Right kbertucci, where are these last 22 years?

Mudge, I didn't know when Ti-Poil was born but I know when he died: late on 31 Oct 87. The Fungi was born early next morning (Nov. 1st). I was listening to the radio driving back home from the hospital and this was the ONLY thing that was on. This was almost 22 years ago and it is difficult for me to believe it was that long ago.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 24, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more."

An entire Gitmo full of weasel words in that non-denial.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, Wiki says Levesque died on Nov. 1. He may have had the heart attack the night before, though.

(FYI, "Ti-Poil" means "Li'l Hair," i.e. baldy. He apparently had a rather obvious comeover.) (He also had a Mark Sanford moment, apparently. One night he struck and killed a pedestrian; it was alleged he was drunk at the time. Present in the car was a woman not his wife. His marriage was already on the rocks; they divorced, and he married the woman from that night, who was one of his secretaries.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

There were only two times for me that I would retrospectively self-diagnose as addict-like behaviour with computers. Once was when I got my first home high speed connection and did a lot of news surfing. The other was a game - Civilization II. The games were very long, and it was difficult to stop part way.

Posted by: engelmann | August 24, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

TBG alert for cousin George:

"The [Obama vacation] reading list includes George Pelecanos's "The Way Home," Richard Price's "Lush Life," Tom Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded," David McCullough's "John Adams" and Kent Haruf's "Plainsong."

I didn't know until now that the Obamas have been vacationing on Martha's Vineyard for the past 10 years. This is the 6th visit in that time. So they are "regulars." That article the other day completely missed that fact.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Bob Wright gazes deep into his navel and finds weeds and lizards:

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't we all?

Posted by: Yoki | August 24, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel, please tell the copy desk and Michael Shear that their Obama story is all wrong. It says he played golf at a golf course "on" the 28-acre estate where he's staying. But it also says he played at Farm Neck Golf Course, which is in Oak Bluffs (here: ) which is about 15 miles from where they're staying in Chilmark.

*mumbling things to myself about slashed copy editing budgets*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. That's very cool, I think.

Notice to Yoki... an IBPH in September sounds wonderful! Sept 10 is a no-go, though. The 8th is perfect, but the 9th works, too.

Do you have set plans yet?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

(The error is in the cutline under the front page photo.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I arrive on my usual flight on the 8th, so could do an IBPH that evening directly from the airport. Especially if I could hook a ride to the weird cheap hotel in Alexandria afterward (hint hint).

Posted by: Yoki | August 24, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

My first full-blown computer addictions had to do with programming, not internet. I spent 150-200 hours writing and polishing a cellular automata program that would sit up and do tricks. I wrote a zoomable Mandelbrot set program. Then, days after I finished, I found a better one online. This ended my programming phase and began my internet phase.

I was never able to afford a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. So when the web came along, it was like getting a set of encyclopedias 20 times as big. With lots of pages ripped out, granted, but still. At about that time, someone who shall go unnamed mocked me for justifying my internet fascination by comparing it to reading encyclopedias. Such people still control things here in America. At that time, they sneered at people like me and ensured, with iron fists, that I and all like me would be called "nerds."

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 24, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I am dmd, and I am an internet addict, started around 1996/7? when I got internet access at work - addicted ever since.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Jumper... saw a young woman wearing a t-shirt once that said "Nerds are Hot!"

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Must have been referring to the Scotch Bonnet and Jalapeno nerds.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 24, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for the congrats. We are indeed pleased to have skipped the big wedding do and though they are young this is a good thing. They even timed the wedding with the traditional frostfamily consideration in mind-convenience of the Army. The groom is switching from National Guard to active duty and getting so many immediate family members together in once place wasn't going to happen before he ships out for his first duty station(we think, with the Army and paperwork you never know).

Shortly after the first idiot's guide type service hit the intertubes the Military Times newspapers (Army Times, Navy Times etc.) partnered with AOL and Mr. F and I were soon hooked on Sat. night trivia. How quaint to sit together in front of the lone computer screen, giving our long distance family only a busy signal when they called. They even had cash prizes for the winner of the trivia contest. I won $200 once when the guest host was short on hull number questions (darn squids).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 24, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

This has probably been mentioned before but the Firefox browser has a built-in spell check for fill-in forms like this comment box. Works great and lets you add your own words. Firefox is all I use, other browsers, Opera, Sahara(?), may also do this.

For some reason IE (even the current IE8) does not spell check, or at least I could not find it. Also could not find an add-in for IE to do the job. Strange, are IE users better spellers or do they just not care?

As for italics I was hoping that the Unicode character set had italics but can't find those either. It does have fixed spaced characters, narrow spaced characters, and tons of symbols and foreign characters, but not italics.


Posted by: DLDx | August 24, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Firefox also has linkification. Without it I wouldn't have followed nearly as many wondrous paths from the boodle and back.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 24, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

That Bob Wright never stops, he is in the NYT as well.

That Wiki entry on Lévesque mde me laugh Mudge. It suggests that RL's affair with Corinne, 22 year his junior, was semi-scandalous. René was a known philanderer, it surprised nobody who was following politics at the time. We should root for the love success of this guy, he was 5 foot-nothing and not exactly a looker yet he was rarely alone at night...
The divorce came because of the public nature of the affair I guess. Wiki also fails to mention the pedestrian he killed was actually lying on his back on the dark side of the street when he was hit. No excuse yet and RL admitted responsibility and stopped driving altogether after the accident.

They say he died at home without mentioning he was playing cards with friends at the time and I have little doubt he was smoking and drinking a wee bit of scotch as well.

Shy Corinne died of a nasty cancer a few years back, not sixty yet.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 24, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse


Maybe we could use these for italics:


Posted by: DLDx | August 24, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, frosty, forgot about linkification. Strictly speaking its an add-on, not part of FF, but I don't think you can do that with IE.


Posted by: DLDx | August 24, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, JA! I arrived much later, but it has been enjoyable, although I think I've offended some folks because I don't get any love these days. Not even a hello. Oh well, forgive me. I'm not surprised, not getting much love where I live either. Probably something I said. I'm notorious for putting both feet in my mouth.

Congrats, frosti.

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

How good of an analog would it be to call Lévesque the Teddy Kennedy of Canadian politics?

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Michael Jackson's death ruled a homicide by LA coroner...

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Hello, Cassandra!

The heat pump guys are moving out. Their work here is (nearly) done.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 24, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I never say hello or goodbye to anybody because I just assume everybody is like me and always here. Don't take it as a slight, it's acceptance of you as a permanent member of our community. To daily fill the boodle with Mouseketeer roll call every morning and Walton family 'Good night, John-Boys' every evening would just bog things down beyond our usual level of disorder.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't think a good analogy Yello, I didn't even know about the car accident, marital infidelity not that big a deal in politics here. On a national stage he was huge even more so in Quebec - influenced events on a national political scale.

He is known for many things that car accident I would say would not be common knowledge or what he is remembered for.

Other Canuck opinions?

Posted by: dmd3 | August 24, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Google toolbar has spellcheck (I use IE).

Posted by: dmd3 | August 24, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I think he would be insulted to be called a Canadian polititian...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 24, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC ...cian

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 24, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm with both dmd and shriek. He would be insulted to be called Canadian, but he was hugely influential, and a smart cookie. While his goals were completely opposite to mine, I sort of admired him. He had a real commitment to his vision for Quebec, and put his whole life into it.

As an interesting but entirely irrelevant sidebar, Himself and I lived just down the road from where the poor guy was hit. We heard the sirens.

Posted by: Yoki | August 24, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Firefox has saved me from many badspellings. So there's less need to fret over possible spelling errors.

I recall a news story to the effect that the Japanese are becoming less good at writing kanji, the characters borrowed from the Chinese language. Blame it on word processing software.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 24, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra! I'm shocked! You've offended no one here, and I know we've missed you. But your posts have been minimal, and you seemed tired, but you didn't disappear enough to have peope worried about you. But don't tell me you aren't loved here, because I just don't believe it. For myself, I just assumed you've been quiet lately, as have many other Boodlers. I can name ten or a dozen other "regulars" who've posted hardly a word over the past several months. Dawn Patrol has just about dried up, and I suspect after four to five years we've all told each other our stories over and over, and we've lapsed into what I hope is a comfortable silence. But never think you aren't missed.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | August 24, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Did I ever tell y'all about the first time I wore wool?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 24, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

*faxing cassandra some warm fuzzies*

Posted by: LALurker | August 24, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

no, tbg, but please do.

Posted by: LALurker | August 24, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

actually, i would have no idea, cuz i'm a space cadette.

Posted by: LALurker | August 24, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Checking into say hi to all.

Wow on the wedding and may the bonds be strong and flexible and mutual. Faxing zinnias and sunflowers, after swatting away all the bees.

Cassandra -- feel my prayers for you at the open and close of each day. All other boodlers included; interpret as good thoughts or karmic gestures or esp waves or psychic you wish (love in Princess Bride parlance.)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | August 24, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys. You just don't know how rough it has been for the past couple of months. I won't weigh you down with it, but, Lord, I'm crying and praying. But it's always good to come here.

And Mudge, the Dawn Patrol is still my thing, just have to get the body back in tune. Just don't show up some days because don't feel fit to be around people. It will get better. And I'm not saying, if, but it will.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 24, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Hoping things get better for you very soon Cassandra.

Being easily distracted here is one of the reasons I love the internet, watching this - a fly past over Frobisher Bay, so tempting to make a silly quack about so much of the Canadian Armed forces in one location.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 24, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Bah humbug for Mudge
No birthday wishes from me--
Liver cupcakes first.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Crying moods allowed
Praying even more allowed
Despair not allowed...

Fur therapist
On call here on the boodle.
Fee: pets or prayers


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Laughing, Wilbrodog. Thank you.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | August 24, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry you've had a tough summer and hope that you would let us know if there is anything we can do for you, Cassandra. You're right about this being a good place to come! We all will be watching for you during dawn patrol.

Posted by: slyness | August 24, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Your first wooly, TBG?? Did it involve a bully? Were Matty and Hatty involved?


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, you know I always have *HUGSSSSSSSSSSS* for you, even if I don't type them because I'm distracted by live possums in subway restrooms... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Possums in restrooms?
Lucky Scott, I just see shoes
and tails of paper...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm done being alarmed about the health care/insurance debate and have turned my attention to the new "Interrogation Unit." Certainly changes needed to be made, but as sure as I spend too much time on the boodle someone will screw up-in a very big, scandalous, criminal way. When this person, or persons to be named later, is discovered by both the right wing nuts and credible media the White House will be so close to the excrement as it hits the fan no one will be safe from the back blast-including Obama. Unless of course he is willing to leave someone very close and virtually blameless twisting in the wind when the inevitable comes to pass.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 24, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean, Frostbitten? I do agree that having the White House too closely linked to anything called interrogation isn't a great move.

But it's really the same old-- (viz Cheney)-- only it's in the open.

That's transparency for you.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Hmm did you mean this?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-I'm talking about
and the general painting of the return of interrogation responsibility to the FBI as closer supervision by the White House. Without regard to what will or will not be allowed, bad things will happen. They always do.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 24, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

yello, aren't you one of the authors of Joel's bio on Wiki? You better hurry if you have information to add.

Posted by: nellie4 | August 24, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

True enough, Frostbitten. That's why rules exist, last I checked.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, don't feel bad -- we're all skimming through life, going too fast, not being sensitive enough with the people we care about -- and probably should slow down and take care of each other a bit more.

Me, I've been completely preoccupied with the kid going to college. A real weepfest. The waterworks going full blast. But it's all good, right?

Posted by: joelache | August 24, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Times have changed now that there are "find a geek" date sites and all. Geek chic. Etc. I remember when Google came out I was an early adopter. It was the best. As late as 2003 I asked a boss if there was some background technical info I could Google for training and he got sort of embarrassed and finger-quoted "Google" in his reply like it was some sort of child's game or something. He really didn't even know.

I get similar puzzled reactions from people nowadays when I try to enthuse about the "open source movement."

"They will take my Library of Congress away from me when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers" - imaginary bumper sticker

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 24, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

This morning, I had to nurse my friend through the trauma of having her kid go to preschool. I shudder to think what she'll be like when college days come knocking.

Even the happy normal stuff gives people heartache sometimes. It's okay to be down when things don't seem so happy.

Just remember, you need to come up for air, smiles, and comfort once in a while, or you'll drown from the pain.

A few weeks ago, I consoled another friend on the death of a very close friend.

July was the funeral of a good family friend and the 10th anniversary of a cousin's death.

And so it goes-- I've had 2 deaths in the family in the past 15 months.

I function, but there are days I don't want to get out of bed that much and just take time out to mope.

Summer is really hard for those moods-- heat is so tiring, it's too hard to exercise much.

I'd say go check a doctor if you can, depression can come from heart trouble, both kinds.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I've done more than enough damage to Joel's Wikipedia page over the years. I did go in and fix a mis-formatted footnote. Until he gets that Pulitzer he so desperately deserves, he's running the risk of not being 'notable' enough.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, what the heck. In honor of his ten-year online anniversary, I went and made him an 'Internet Newspaper Pioneer'.

Somebody has to toot his horn for him.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

The parents sending their children off for first year university may want to skip this link for a while, but a funny look at ways to scrimp while attending school, I laugh because I remember. Also keep in mind the lower drinking age up here (19).

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

I love you, Cassandra.

Posted by: Yoki | August 24, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse


You are, to me, such a regular part of this circle, that I keep coming back here to see what you and everyone else has to say. I don't add a lot, only background music, and that only late at night. Although I teach, I'm not nearly as wise in the ways of science as SciTim, bc, RD, et., al, nor well versed in the kitchen, as Jumper Yoki and russianthistle, nor well read as Yoki, slyness, CqP, Ivansmom, and many others, nor do I know the law as so many in the boodle do. I'm an outlander. I do know that the boodle in general and you, in particular, have lots to give in the way of treating everyman as they should be, without prejudgement. As in and out of it as I have been since first finding this wonderful space, you are always a constant. I pass along my sincerest thanks. You've said hey and wished me well at nearly every downturn. Your message is always consistent. At the risk of sounding trite, your walk through life has made me think twice when my tendency to dismiss one of the downtrodden in our town finds their way to our door looking for work, or enough money to get something to eat. I'm remiss in not expressing my thanks to you sooner. Take care.

Posted by: -jack- | August 24, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: -jack- | August 24, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

What Jack said. You bear witness very well.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 24, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

cassandra, i appreciate you honesty, warmth, and blessings. i hope whatever challenges you are facing will soon not be so difficult. please let us know if we can help with anything.

Posted by: LALurker | August 25, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Art and physics:

Posted by: seasea1 | August 25, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Ry Cooder singing the Huddie Ledbetter classic Good Night Irene.

I am imagining that FrostiDot and FrostiSiL are dancing to sweet strains of accordion this evening.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | August 25, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

I apologize. There is nothing cool about this.

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

wow, yoki, a new kinkade for the bunker!

Posted by: LALurker | August 25, 2009 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Hee hee, LAL! Too right, mate.

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Belated happy birthday to you, Mudge

Frostbitten, congrats to the bride and groom.

10 years! Congrats, Joel

I’ve been to a Vipassana retreat Bob Wright talked about, but I didn’t have a Thursday-night experience like he did. I did have a nice calm feeling after 10 days. At first all of us didn’t think we could last for 10 days not talking to each other or making eye contacts. Surprisingly, we all made it through all right. I had a major problem with the wake-up call – someone banging the gong at 3:45AM.

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 25, 2009 3:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Cassandra, we all lift you in thought, in prayer. Personally, I wish your hardships could just "go away", leaving you with good health, & no family worries.

ftb, thanks for you thoughts, much appreciated.

Happy birthday (belated) to Mudge. Sixty-three is not so old, you know? :-)

Missed the first eight years of your blogging, Joel, but have been "visiting" your kits with pleasure for about two years.

Today, at 10 am will begin the chemo. Should take about 4 hours. I am not afraid. Had a very informative two hour chemo orientation class last Wed. last part of week finished up ct scan and mri.

This thing today is doable, looking forward to getting past the first one. As time goes on I may share a little more about this cancer and my health care experience. I just don't want to post "downer" type posts, so let me tell you all the boodle mojo love and wisdom keeps coming through my laptop screen, especially the warm (hot?) hugs.

I'll check in tomorrow, for sure!

Posted by: VintageLady | August 25, 2009 6:07 AM | Report abuse

post script: engelmann's poem is a worthy tribute to you, mudge.

Coffee's ready in ready room.

Posted by: VintageLady | August 25, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Thanks, VL, and good luck today. Happy birthday, LAL.

Yoki, I was laughing at Pull Me uP, Buttercup...until I realized that was a Kinkade. I liked the Good Night Irene clip, CqP. Some of Cooder's guitar (about 5 minutes in) started to sound a bit like the Band in the theme from the Last Waltz. (Not a bad thing.)

Sally Jenkins' piece about Little League (before anyone calls it to my attention) is woefully misguided and wrong-headed, but I don't want to go into it. Suffice it to say she can't tell the difference between adult media announcers and children; they all look the same to her. (Which isn't to say there aren't problems with the LL World Series; there are. But Sally has no clue what they might be. Not a whiff of a clue.)

Pardon my French, but WTF does Michael Steele think he's doing? The man is a moron. Tailoring their attack to seniors--what's that gonna accomplish? He might as well be raving about death panels.

And swine flu hysteria is starting to build again. 90,000 deaths? That's three times higher than an "ordinary" flu epidemic.

I feel the urge to slide on over to Einstein Brothers for a lox and bagel. Breakfast of champions.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | August 25, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

A bleary eyed morning to all.

I woke up in the night and had a bit of trouble going back to sleep, so I failed to arise at the normal time. Oh well.

VL, you'll be in my prayers for a good outcome, and especially for a good experience today. Or at least as good an experience as one can have with chemo.

Cassandra, are you up yet? I hope you feel good today!

It's the first day of school in NC! We all need to be careful out there...

Since I'm being lazy, just ham biscuits and coffee/tea/juice in the ready room this morning.

Posted by: slyness | August 25, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Good luck to you Vintage Lady, you will be in my thoughts.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse


just dropped by for a second... have a quick turnaround and must rush off to the "dayjob" ... Steele is not a moron. Also, I guess from knowing him a bit and his family that he would be a very good neighbor, BUT as a servant to the national interests, he is a stooge of the rich. When I say rich, you know what sort of rich I mean.

I leave you with this, if we expect Obama to fight a squirming mess of 300 million unaware and frankly uncaring for their fellow humans and get the nation to give health care to us and give folks a living wage, that is well beyond what he can do.

As a nation, we need to get beyond the "we can't affords" and the "we must do this, but not thats" ... and collectively "grow a pair" and take care of the people.

In that respect, Steele is a stooge for the status quo. Steele has, in a very sad way, the blood of those who die each day in preventable situations on his hands.

For that matter, so do we. The same logic goes with each other situation that Steele involves himself where he manages to muck up the difficult task of improving our collective lots in life.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 25, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

VintageLady!!!! Let's share a few laughs through all of this. It's a ride through the "bad neighborhoods" of life. Keep that laptop handy!

Posted by: russianthistle | August 25, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' bluebirds of happiness to Cassandra's and VL's windows* :-)

VL, I for one offer my Boodle shoulder for anything you need to share about getting better. *HUGS*

And, hey, I think I mighta saved a life this morning --

Where I get on the train, there's a long approach (close to a mile) where you can see the train coming. Most people don't even start to try and cross the bare tracks if they see the oncoming lights. This morning, the train was less than 500 feet off and rumbling in at a good clip; the engineer had just switched to low beams to focus on a proper stop at the platform. A woman comes wandering over to the far side of the tracks and STARTS TO CROSS. The conductor on the platform had his back turned (and I probably had a little too much caffeine), and before I knew it, "Ma'am, doN'T DOOO THAT!!!!" came booming out of me. She actually seemed to still consider the attempt for a moment before heading over to the proper crossing spot. I apologized for startling the conductor, but he said I done a good thing. :-)

*wondering-who-will-be-kind-enough-to-deflate-my-ego-so-I-can-fit-through-the-door-and-get-some-Diet-Pepsi Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 25, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, how Dudley Do-right of you. I won't be the one to deflate your ego, good job and take a bow - the ego inflation is much deserved.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Good for you Scotty, nice way to start the day. VLady, my best thoughts to you today. Cassandra, you know we all love you even if we don't always say it. I'm sorry you have been going thru' hard times. Sometimes reading the Kit and Boodle here can bring me out of whatever is bothering me and make me smile or be amazed or open my mind to a subject I know nothing about. All of this is good because it takes me out of myself for a while.

Very foggy here this morning but a bit cooler. Last night was the first time in weeks that we slept with the windows open and no a/c.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 25, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Good job, Scotty!

Cassandra, don't think for a minute that you aren't appreciated here. I miss it when you don't join us for a morning blessing.

And a day-late happy birthday, Mudgekins. Did you see the big fat page A1 typo in the dead trees edition? "Bush's team focused on the effectiveness of the CIA interrogation techniques, whereas *Obama's* is concerned with their global implications." Jeez Louise.

Best to you, VL.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 25, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. My best thoughts to VL and all others going through a rough patch. Special good thoughts to Joel and all others who are watching their offspring leave for college.

I must Tend the Electronic Difference Engines this morning. They are insatiable, I fear.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 25, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

10 years? It has flown by and my life, in particular, has changed a lot. For the better I think. No longer obsessed (addicted?) I am merely a loyal achenblogger enjoying a group of witty, intelligent, caring people.

I'm in San Diego! I'll try to catch up with ya'll when the job settles down.

Posted by: Windy3 | August 25, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Look at it like this, Joel -- you aren't loosing a daughter, you're gaining an adult and a scholar to boot. The great paradox of parenthood: to succeed as a parent is to let them escape from your parenting.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 25, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I remember well when the daughters went off to college. I carried an ache in my heart for weeks. Eventually it went away and I began to enjoy the peace and quiet and somewhat infrequent contact with them. This was before the Internet, cell phones and texting, etc. When they came back for a weekend or break, they left with all the toilet paper, tissues, snack food and anything else that would fit into their luggage. I think of the emptiness of their absence and then their return with all the associated upheaval as a yoyo of emotions that prepared me in some way for their eventual moving out. Just remember, a daughter will never truly leave you, even if she’s not physically ‘there.’ She’ll always need her dad!

Posted by: badsneakers | August 25, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. I can hardly believe Witch no. 1 will start her third year at the uni next week. She's barely out of high school fur crying out loud. There a persistant rumour that her older brother the Fungi may also go to university next year as well. Not a minute too soon.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 25, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

new kit!

Posted by: --dr-- | August 25, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Just saw this & had to post, because I believe I was one of the early readers & posters. I read & lurked a lot, posted a tiny bit, but not enough for anyone to remember, especially now that I've not posted in ... years? But I still read the achenblog & enjoy reading everyone's comments. Happy 10th!

Posted by: mat00 | August 25, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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