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Neutrinos vs. "Neutrinos"

I sometimes wonder if physicists, when speaking to one another, use air quotes. You know, curled fingers bracketing their statements, like, "Tomorrow we're going to fire up the collider and generate some [wiggle fingers] 'neutrinos'."

Or maybe they speak like this:

"It's not the -- quote -- pions -- unquote -- that worry me, it's the -- quote -- kaons -- unquote."

The real issue being, of course, whether we describe the universe as it is or as it very arbitrarily and subjectively appears to us. I tend to believe the former. I believe in the central premise of physics, which is that we discover laws that are true everywhere in our universe (recognizing that there could be other universes with different laws). But I'm not sure it's a belief that would hold up in any court. How would you prove it?

And as much as people rag on the Standard Model for being ungainly, it has held up well for several decades. If they find the Higgs particle right about where they expect to find it, the physicists are going to start to get squirmy. It's not to be proved right, but at some point you'd rather have your assumptions proved wrong -- so that you can generate new theories, new models, maybe even a revolution. Nature so far has never run out of ways to surprise us [ritual invocation here of Lord Kelvin saying in the late 1800s that there was nothing left to do but calculate the laws of physics to the sixth decimal -- or something like that.]

In any case, here's my science-page piece today on neutrino physics.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 17, 2009; 9:07 AM ET
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A few years ago, I got to visit Kauai and of course headed for the high-elevation plateau, which unlike the low elevations, is still natural vegetation with native Hawaiian birds. Bright red ones, flitting among red flowers of ohia trees.

Part of the hike was spent with a nice particle physicist. Of course as a biologist away from home, I couldn't comment too intelligently on the flora, and for particles, all I could do was express gratitude that the funny little things with cute names now fit in a chart. Back when I was a student, things were less orderly.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 17, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

If it looks like a "duck" and quacks like a "duck" then it "is" a duck.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

It cracks me up that the banner ad on the page with Joel's article is for the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner--as if it's pointing out the result of all this science.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 17, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

And I thought my head hurt from my cold, now I've got all this physics stuff in there too. Thanks Joel!

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

As always, this kind of article really delights me. Because, you know, we all need to think about neutrinos more. But not too much, or else the paranoia begins. (And heaven's knows I don't want to go through that again.)

When I was in college there was a lot of interest in the so-called "solar neutrino deficit," where fewer neutrinos (then considered massless) from the sun were detected than theory predicted. There was even a notion floated that this implied certain reactions in the sun were not completely stable.

(Did I mention the paranoia part?)

Of course, now we know that this "deficit" is because neutrons can change from one type to another, as Joel explains. Further, this oscillation, I am led to believe, is intimately related to neutron mass in a way I only vaguely understand. And that it really is a pretty big deal.

I mean, back in those sepia-toned days of Higher Education, the idea of neutrino mass was considered incredibly radical. If the neutrino had mass, we decided, this would, like, change everything.

We thought neutron mass would cause blood vessels to explode from the overwhelming philosophical implications. I mean, it would be like finding out that a whole universe really did, you know, exist in your fingernail. Dogs and cats would live together in sin.

You get the idea.

And although neutron mass really did change everything, theory adapted. That which was unthinkable is now thought of all the time. Despite our fears physics did not implode.

Plus, I feel a lot better about the sun.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Have we discussed the "wearable towel" story yet? Funny stuff, I laughed out loud.

And what's up with that Orioles games last night? Tied 8-8 in the ninth, and they lose 17-8? Wow! As I pointed out to a buddy who's a long-suffering Orioles fan, I was a carefree young lad in my early thirties the last time someone scored 9 runs in one extra inning. Jerry Garcia was still alive, the O.J. Simpson trial was still dragging on, and even Bill Clinton had never heard of Monica “I’m voting Republican because the Democrats left a bad taste in my mouth” Lewinski.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"Heaven's knows"? Who the heck says "Heaven's knows"?

I blame it on the neutrino flux.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse


We haven't had a quiz for a while, so here's a good one: Harry Potter Character or Hideous Skin Disease? I scored 57%.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 17, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, if it looks like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, it could *still* be some sort of socialist wild fowl manque the gummint is trying to force down our throats! Tell Obama to stop messing with our ducks!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

83% (10-for-12) on the quiz. I missed one in each direction.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Having never read a Harry Potter book nor sat through an entire HP movie, I still got 75% right. I guess I just must know my dermatological diseases pretty well, heaven's knows.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Sin? I thought they were just friends, RD!

I got to talk to that b*tch about her mittened housemates. Right now.

Of all the swishy-tailed redfurred goldens...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I actually like that wearable towel. A terrycloth toga. bc probably won't like it-- it would just soak up all the olive oil.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The subjunctive mood--
Not real-- like woodchucks? WIL'DOG!
Oh, he's gone downstreet--

Thanks, RD. Just great.
While he tiff-tiffs with Ginger
I'm stuck in haiku.

-"The Gnome"--

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Heaven's knows I know nothing about either, Mudge! I guessed my way to 57% and I'm proud of it.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 17, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The thing is, the Standard Model once assumed that neutrinos moved at the speed of light and were, therefore massless. So the notion that neutrinos had mass was a huge problem, because if they had mass, even an eensy bit, they had to move slower than light, which introduced several serious paradoxes. That they do this cool "oscillation" bit avoids these paradoxes.

So the whole thing has been a great example of how science advances. Things that seem "impossible" just mean you aren't yet considering all the possibilities.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

TBG - now you're just funnin' with me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Let me pull back a bit on the "impossible" statement. In physics there really are things that we believe are impossible. Things like the speed of light and certain conservation laws. You don't much about with them. Yet, there are often results that seem nonsensical and absurd. (Like that whole "time dilation" business of Einstein's) that really aren't. These kinds of things are what make science so fun.

That and the cool toys.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I just love these three grafs from Howard Kurtz's column:

"A 1969 New York Times story during the music festival upstate in Bethel was headlined: "Bethel Pilgrims Smoke 'Grass' And Some Take LSD to 'Groove.' " The article helpfully noted that " 'grass' is marijuana, and getting 'stoned' is getting high on it. . . . Many people who are not, as the young people say, 'into the drug scene,' find it incredible that marijuana can be so pervasive and so widely used."

"The Wall Street Journal chimed in in an editorial: "It would be a curious America if the unwashed, more or less permanently stoned on pot and LSD, were running very many things. . . . The way rock is presented it must be counted as a step down on culture's ladder. . . . What perhaps gets us most is the infatuation with squalor, the slovenly clothes and the dirt; at Woodstock they were literally wallowing in mud."

"As columnist Gail Collins noted in reviewing a pair of Woodstock books, a Times editorial at the time on the "Nightmare in the Catskills" complained: "What kind of culture is it that can produce so colossal a mess? . . . Surely the parents, the teachers and indeed all the adults who helped create the society against which these young people are so feverishly rebelling must bear a share of the responsibility for this outrageous episode. It is hardly credible that pot, acid and other illegal drugs could be used on the scale reported by reliable witnesses."

I was driving and listening to the great "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me show" on NPR Saturday, and far and away the very best line about the Woodstock anniversary came from host Peter Sagal, who quipped what the Woodstock generation (i.e., many of us Boodlers) would be saying today if we held a Woodstock reunion: "Hey, man, stay away from the brown Cialis."

I laughed so hard I nearly had to pull over.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

RD, your comments on mass made me remember this question: is the mass of a photon really zero?

The answer seems to be that math makes it so.

I'm a little surprised they didn't discuss the possibility that photons are simply incapable of being at rest, nulifying the question. But I'm a moron in this field.

All I know is some Asimov essays, and that gallium was once used to try and trap neutrinos, and something about relativitic effects at such high speeds.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm really having fun with that Mental Floss website...

Posted by: -TBG- | August 17, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

BobS, my friend read that wearable towel story and immediately said, "they already exist, isn't that what terry cloth robes are for?"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

yay, it's a pointy-headed kind of day.

speedy recovery to those under the weather, and happy monday to everyone.

tbg, glad to hear son of g is mostly recovered and starting a very cool-sounding program.

Posted by: LALurker | August 17, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

7/12 on the quiz. I don't seem to be very familiar with either Harry Potter or skin diseases. For both of which I am very gratefu.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 17, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I did even worse on the Doogie Howser or Twitter Update quiz. 5/12. And I used to watch the show.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Some of the skin diseases really did make good character names.

I missed two Potter character names (they're very minor), identifying them as skin diseases.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

That's a good way to look at it Wilbrod. The math really does force photons to be massless. But, interestingly, not without momentum. (Which can be considered the ability to change the velocity of something.) Sunlight really does apply pressure even without mass. Solar Sails are a cool, cool concept.

The thing to keep in mind is that the familiar equation "E = M C^2" is actually a special case of the more general equation

E^2 = P^2 C^2 + M^2 C^4" Where "P" is momentum. (Tell enough people this and you get invited to places you have never been invited to before.)

Let the momentum go to zero and you get the "rest mass energy" that we all know and love. But let the mass go to zero and you get "E = PC" or "P = E/C." That is, momentum without mass. 'course, since C is whopping big, this momentum is very small for ordinary levels of energy. Which is why sunlight seldom knocks people over.

(I love this stuff...)

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Would live"-- bah humbug!
Cats at teats? Shameless redfur.
How'd you know, RD?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Sunshine momentum
Knocks dogs onto stained wood planks
For long snooze on deck.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Solar panel ears
Twitch feebly; so hard to rise--
High photon pressure.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Woodstock? I was busy attending summer term at a monster state university where I was doomed to lose in-state status for the prospective senior year. Much better a couple of cheap summers than a horribly overpriced last winter.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 17, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

More fun with towels:

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

A "monster state university"? Would that be Frankenstein Polytech, or perhaps M.I.T. (Mothra Institute of Terraforming)? Franklin and Dracula? Notre Dahmer?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, Woodstock was the summer of Physics and Middle East, both antidotes to wooly-mindedness.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 17, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Volts waltz through, paws twitch.
E surges! But C splits E twice;
Sunlit mass increases.

Dog spreads across deck,
Fattening up from sunlight.
Tomatoes ripen.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Great, now Wilbrodog thinks he's a chia pet.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Water him and give him lots of sunlight, Wilbrod.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Can I safely assume that there's no particular reason to locate the detector a few hundred miles away from the beam source, but that just happens to be where they decided to put it?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

There's a reason, Bob S.

The faster particles move, the more distance helps accuracy in measurement.

Think of how easier it'd be to clock the true speeds of two NASCAR racecars across a mile instead of say, six inches.

Any flaw in the instrumention speed won't affect the end results so much.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Forget clocking the speeds of 2 NASCAR cars, try identifying them at all in a tiny 6-inch window as they whiz past you.

Then shrink those cars unimaginably small and make them unimaginably faster.

That's kind of the basic reason why particle physicists need such big stuff.

Otherwise, it'll be "what was that masked particle?"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

75% on the quiz, and I've never cracked a Harry Potter or a medical text.

Mudge, the comment about the brown Cialis reminded me of a comment I heard at a polo game where specators were encouraged to replace divots on the field between periods. "Don't step on steaming divots."

Posted by: Raysmom | August 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You're all moving way too fast for me today... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

TBG, if you're going to see our mutual hair stylist anytime soon, stay away from the topic of health care reform. Trust me on this.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 17, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I think I had the neutrino flux once, but Imodium to the rescue.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Who was that masked particle?

Why, that's the Lone Positron, and his faithful Indian companion, Gopalasamudram Narayana Iyer Ramachandran.

And I never got a chance to thank him.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Reader's Digest has filed for Chapter 11. Someone convince me why this isn't some sort of sign of the End Times?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's partly my fault. I always enjoyed reading Readers Digest, but haven't subscribed in decades.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Actually RD filed for Chapter 6, which is the condensed version of Chapter 11.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

So there is hope that it will disappear as though it had never been?

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

My woo detector's been twitchin' at some Reader's Digest product lately, 'Mudge... They seemed to have drifted towards the lowest common denominator, sadly.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 17, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I tried to stay away from it, I really did, but I was finally forced to read the story declaring that Tom DeLay will be on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. Did someone say something about the end times? At least we know this means his political career is over; I think a viable career of any sort is an immediate disqualification.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's the thing, Scotty and Yoki: as awful as the RD is/was (RD meaning Readers Digest, not our Padouk), when EVEN the lowest common denominator, the absolute bottom of the literary sensibility, files for bankruptcy, what does that say about reading in America?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm mildly proud of myself. On the discussion board for the story about the guy who's suing his ex-boyfriend for killing one of their dogs, I'd composed a long, silly, obnoxious comment that involved reasonable values for twelve pounds worth of various expensive foodstuffs, actuarial figures for the lifetimes of various dog breeds, etc.

Instead, I left this:

- - - -
What's the going rate for bile?
posted at 8/17/2009 12:51 PM EDT

OK, I talked myself out of posting a trenchant (well, really, just plain smart-assed) comment, because it wasn't really designed to add much illumination to the conversation.

But I'm often at a loss to determine how I feel about such claims for monetary damages for emotional distress. What's anguish supposed to be worth in money terms? What if two people suffer the same loss, and one claims to feel the loss more keenly than the other? Does the person who feels more miserable deserve more money? How much more?

I fully understand the desire to lash out at someone who's hurt you, and costing them money must seem like a dandy way to do it. But I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the process.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

BTW, that was very good, kguy. Very nice. I'm proud to have set that one up for you. (I want credit for the assist.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

'mudge, that was 'monster state university' in terms of having 25,000 students, a huge number back then. It's grown to some 44,000, while Florida has two state university campuses that are over 50,000. Campuses of that size should be banned on grounds that they create excessive traffic problems.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 17, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

You've identified the problem with civil lawsuits generally, bobsewell. Pretty much civil law provides money damages. Equity remedies - making things whole - are pretty limited anyway, and you simply can't make a death or similar loss "whole". So, if you want to sue someone for the very tangible emotional distress they have caused you, there is seldom a good recourse. You're stuck with money damages. This is why people often don't feel nearly as good after winning a suit as they thought they would.

I used to have a soft spot in my heart for Reader's Digest - until I arrived on a visit home to discover they'd been sending my mother lots of "books" and billing her for them, unasked. I finally had to tell the representative she was dead before they'd quit. In fact she wasn't, yet, she just had Alzheimer's, but her incapacity to decide whether to accept or reject the sent book (much less to mail it back) wasn't good enough for them. After that I viewed it as a company that preyed on the elderly.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather had exactly the same problem with Reader's Digest in his last few years. I have a feeling that they were damned well aware of the problems they were creating, and not trying very hard to do much about it. I know it's not their job to screen customers for competence, but it galls me still.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., it wasn't his dog. He killed it; if it was done out of malice, he is liable for criminal charges.

The problem is that many jurisdictions put criminal charges for animal abuse at a very low priority, therefore retribution is best served civilly. But as you pointed out, it can be hard to put a price tag on emotion.

This is why I (and many others) prefer to put a price tag on training and the time and investment required to raise a dog to the correct age, mature into a working team; also the loss of companionship or benefit while the replacement matures.

That would at least begin to scratch the replacement value-- not just the initial cost of a new puppy.

In short, I could easily sue for 10K or more if Wilbrodog was hurt, just to pay for the costs and time involved in replacing him, as well as any services I had to obtain elsewhere during that time. Any injury or crime occuring to me that he could have prevented were he there, add that in, too.

If you factor in the loss of having a working dog at home, and so forth, I've heard 50K or more.

There's vet bills too. Then, if the death was traumatic and experienced by the owner, there's always the possibility that counselling was required to get over the experience.

If so, add that into the bill too, along with the cost involved in filing suit to recoup expenses.

Punitive damages are generally designed to deter others from doing it again.

Some states already make it a criminal offense to interfere with a service dog team; others have little or no legal recourse for the owner.

If I was in one of those minimal protection states, I'd be suing so bad, and putting it in the newspapers big time, to force a change in how that state's legal system deals with service dog issues before it results in injury or death. It could well cost me far more money to file suit because of the lack of police reports and the need to hire private investigators to compile the information I needed.

The law can recognize pets owned by disabled or ill people as emotional support animals for the purposes of housing exemptions from no-pets housing.
If pets were already registered as such (a doctor's letter is generally required), that's proof in itself that the loss of the pet would inflict considerable emotional or health distress.

I know to you it's a dog, but some dogs are more integral to lives and wellbeing than others are, and I do think there are ways to calculate the costs.

For me it wouldn't be a price tag on bile; it would be a price tag on self-defense. If it happened once, it could happen again to my next dog.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Cred asst. c6 to k1 (this too is the condensed version).

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Algebraic notation. That's the Lopez Variation, isn't it? Capablanca v. Lasker, about 1908?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Ruy Lopez.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little confused. As I understand it the dead Chihuahua was a pet, not a service or working dog, and the accused killer was prosecuted and convicted of assault and battery and cruelty to animals. While Wilbrod's explanation of damages connected to service dogs is excellent, is doesn't seem to answer BobS's concern - how do you put a price on the emotional connection you have to a pet?

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Was that Jennifer's brother, 'Mudge?

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

As a former resident of the town where the trial occurred, I refer those interested in judicial precedent regarding canine value to the matter of Burden v. Hornsby in Johnson County, Missouri in 1869.

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.”
- plaintiff's attorney George Vest, later U.S. Senator 1879-1903.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I love Lisa de Moraes:

Posted by: seasea1 | August 17, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

And if you really want to crank up the waterworks to Old Yeller level, check out the story of Hachiko-ō

although I must say that displaying his stuffed and mounted remains seems a bit cold.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

In that case, I'd say criminal justice has been served at least. Now, I didn't know what the case was, I was just outlining the strategies used to determine cost of loss.

Well, any pet that has been labelled an Emotional support animal certainly could qualify for a reckoning of "loss of companionship" costs. But aside from that--

Law isn't about measuring emotion, really. It's about assigning responsibility, am I right?

And if you willfully destroy property, you're liable for the replacement cost and any damages stemming from the loss of that property.

Pets are STILL under property law (be careful, animal rightists are promoting legal "guardianship" which erodes property law protections for your pet and yourself.)


1) Replacement value: this can be assumed to be a minimum measure of worth to the owner. This includes any training, vaccination, maintenance costs, etc. that went into the initial pet.

Damages from loss of the property:

2) Counselling or other recordable costs related to the trauma, as determined by prescription, actual attendance; the need to put in a new security system to replace the dog.

3) Cost of levying said lawsuit to recoup damages.

I don't think there's a need to justify "emotional distress" as a reason to sue for more.

The COSTS of treating such emotional distress specifically triggered by destruction of said property or criminal action may be.

Am I anywhere near correct in my thinking?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 17, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Kguy, thanks for that link. I've read that story.

I always wondered what would have happened if the opposing counsel had stood up and made a passionate defense of sheep as wool, food, and liveilhood; the delights of lambs gamboling in the glen in the spring, the diligent control of grass, the fertiler soil, sheep whose glamour has been recited by Longfellow, Poe, Blake and other worthy poets; sheep whose wool has covered the backs of kings and paupers alike...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

..and concluded his speech to the jury with that old joke whose punchline is, "Why, that's Johnny Ringo's sheep."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Just checked the outside temperature on our furnace thermostat - 91F, I do not know what it is with the humidity I am guessing well over 100 - it is a hot one today.

Earlier I was outside working and if I read Joels article correctly I was blasted by neutrinos, other than that I managed to understand very little. Still perplexed on how they know they have caught something.

Off to swim to hot to do much else.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Start making too many passionate remarks about sheep in rural Missouri and folks will be giving you some VERY funny looks.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 17, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

A busy, busy day for me here.

RD, I've always said that I believe there are no immutable laws in the universe.

There's been data that suggests the cosmological constant has changed over time, now there's data that suggests the value of the speed of light may have some variability, even for photons.

According to this data (see link below), photons of different energy levels originating at the same event (500 million light-years away) arrived to detectors here on Earth as much as 20 minutes apart. There has been some other data that could be indicative of the same thing.

Some suggest that the smaller, less massive (ahem) photons cut through space-time with less 'resistance,' like boat-hulls of different sizes moving through water, or the aerodynamic drag of a 18-wheeler versus a Toyota Prius. [Um, for photons, is that 'spatio-temporal drag?' Are there regions of space - such as the lumpy loop-quantum gravity folks suggest, where the speed of light is slower in 'thicker' regions of spacetime, like sound through different densities of air and water? And according to Einstein's Special Relativity, IIRC, mass and energy increase with acceleration - so, would photons of different energy levels have different relative speeds of light?]

Sheesh, I wish Somebody would make up their Mind(s)s. But then, we'd be getting into Heisenberg and Quantum Mechanics, wouldn't we?

As I like to say, we humans are notoriously unreliable Observers, but then again, we're all we've got.

Gotta run.


Posted by: -bc- | August 17, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, although the law varies from state to state, I think you're a little generous in your assessment of replacement value. Remember, I'm discussing pets, not service dogs, which might have an enhanced value. Where an owner is entitled to recover the replacement value of a pet, that is often (a) what the pet was worth at its death or (b) what it would cost to replace the pet. This does not necessarily include training, medical or maintenance costs. It also doesn't necessarily include attorney's fees. Your "costs from loss", including counseling, etc., may or may not be covered, but I'd venture to say likely not in most cases.

The point of the suit in the news is that they are trying to extend legal damages from pure replacement costs to include emotional damages - not what the pet was worth as measured objectively (often not that much) but what it was worth to the owner.

Law isn't necessarily about assigning responsibility. In many civil cases, such as this one, the goal is to make the parties whole or to restore the parties to some sort of equitable relationship. Where there is an assignment of responsibility the goal is often to make the party with the most blame pay the other parties proportionately.

All these parties is one reason so many lawyers drink a lot.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"photons of different energy levels ... arrived to detectors here on Earth as much as 20 minutes apart."

Perhaps some of them stopped for coffee and, yanno, had to make a pit stop. If ya know what I mean. (You just wait till *your* bladder gets old.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Those 'nuetrinos' are 'poseur muons' also known as 'faux-ons.'

Posted by: yellojkt | August 17, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Finally got a chance just now to finish reading Joel's neutrino article. The absolute best bit is the closing quotation, from Marvin Marshak:

The technological impact of basic science has enormously changed the way we all live," Marshak said. "It's like when Albert Einstein came out with general relativity in 1915: he had no idea that Minnesota would use it, via GPS satellites, in order to plow straight rows of corn -- in the dark."

I intend to get some mileage out of this bit of wisdom.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 17, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Mass doesn't increase with velocity, momentum does. So although photons of different energy levels surely do have different momentum, they do not have different mass and do not travel at different speed. Yet, of course, photons of different energy levels surely do interact with matter in different ways. Hence the rainbow.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I listened to a discussion between Fred Kaplan, the author of 1959: The Year That Changed Everything today on, the Baltimore NPR station. Very good. I ordered it on line and look forward to reading it.

As for Nutrias and the like, I've got nothing!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

RD, I'm pretty sure mass does increase especially when you get to relatvistic velocities.

E=mc(squared) isn't talking about momentum, is it?

My point about posting what I did was that those results found that the difference in arrival times of those photons lined up with their energy levels. Er, has anyone measured masses of photons of different energies to make sure?

I wasn't postulating all of that as fact, but interpretations of data. And I didn't mean to suggest that the speeds of those photons were necessarily different, but that how they plowed through spacetime might be. It's all Relative, I suppose.

I realize that questioning 'immutable laws' of physics may be disconcerting to some - especially if there's data to support it - but personally, I'm comfortable with ambiguity in Everything.

This, of course, does not comprehending my 401k statements any easier.


Posted by: -bc- | August 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It is a calculational convenience that mass *can* be treated as relativistically variable. It allows one to write kinetic energy as mv^2/2 both relativistically and non-relativistically, but the "relativistic" mass is actually m/square root of (1-v^2/c^2). But does the mass actually increase, or does the relativistic motion affect only the kinetic energy? My understanding is that only the kinetic energy is relativistically variable. The mass, as measured by gravitational interaction, does not change.

So, there. I think.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 17, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The University of Florida's bat house collapsed. Donations accepted to help re-house the homeless.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I should have included the link to the story, which may not be easy to find at the moment.

"Court to Hear Va. Suit Seeking Damages in Chihuahua's Death"

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Okay. I thought I had it - the whole neutrinos thing. It's a special kind of giant physics swamp rat, right? I'm good with the concept of arbitrary, especially as it applies to rodents. I concentrated very hard on the sciency posts. Suddenly, though, someone introduced Mass. So, as I understand it, the giant physics swamp rats wander in and out, oceloting (rat to cat, cat to rat, physics really is grand), and have to attend Mass at different times? Of course that makes sense, since the oscillant physics ocelots would no doubt eat the rats and that's frowned on during the service. This is probably why there's a Saturday afternoon service as well as several on Sunday.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Go in peace, Ivansmom.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you got it, Ivansmom. SciTim lost me after "It is a calculational convenience..."

Posted by: slyness | August 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -- you hit it on the head . . . or, um, maybe heads.

It's been a strange day, in addition to its being a Monday.

Posted by: -ftb- | August 17, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

True, the notion of things getting heavier as they get faster is a common way to look at it, but when you talk about mass changing you can easily fall into nonsensical conclusions. For example, as I mentioned in my 11:44, massless particles do have momentum, which makes no sense from a classical perspective.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Now hold on a minnit. Not all these physics rat cats go to Mass? Please tell me you're talking about some other exotic physics animal there.

Of course, if some are Massless, it would explain why they might have two heads.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't get heavier as I get faster.

Of course, I pretty much don't get faster, so maybe that explains it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Is there an adjectival form for bats (the winged creatures) equivalent to feline, canine, etc?

Chiropterine, maybe?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 17, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I wanna know about the rainbow.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Nice, Mudge. Works for me!

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Believe it or not, if you punch in the numbers, that equation SciTim presented and the one I presented are saying the same thing. You have rest mass energy and then extra energy that comes from relative motion. In addition to causing confusion about massless objects, the notion of things getting heavier confuses the whole relative part of relativity.

As for the immutable laws of physics, these aren't articles of faith. But may of them have held up pretty gosh darn well for over a century, so I think they are worthy of respect. The proof is experimentation. Come up with an experiment that disproves these things and a good scientist will adapt.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

But some of those cats are alive and some are dead and some you just can't tell. Ask Schrodinger about those half alive quantum cats.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 17, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

RD how did you know I was working on those those computations - you are very fast. Honestly bc, SciTim and RD could be speaking in a foreign language for all I am able to understand today.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

So if a cat is half dead would it change to half alive simply by observing it?

If so, how do you keep from observing the half alive cats and making them flip the other way?

This is a matter of some import, so we appreciate a timely, and at least half serious response.
The frostcats.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 17, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Lessee, rainbow - The top of the primary bow is visible between about 40-42 degrees above the plane of the sunlight (opposite the sun), red outside (or on top), violet inside. The dimmer secondary lies above or outside the primary at around 50-53 degrees, with the colors reversed.

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

In a perfect vacuum light of all color travels at the same speed. But when light encounters a material into which it can penetrate, different colors slow by different amounts. The degree of slowing is determined by a quantity called the index of refraction. Some materials, like air, have a low one. Some, like diamonds, have a high one. And then there is the middle case of water. When light hits water droplets in the air, the different colors of light are bent differently much like marchers walking across a path of increasing grade. The result is a rainbow.

The sign that all is good in the world.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

And at what degree is the pot of gold Bob? :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Straight ahead, just outside your reach.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 17, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Just like the rainbow in a 3-karat diamond ring.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Mass is what's the matter with matter. No mass, no matter.

Nobody really is sure exactly what mass IS, other than it seems to be tied to gravity.

And gravity is a drag for any particle. It's like cosmic friction at a distance.

How gravity works, nobody is quite sure.
It's the weak sister in any efforts to develop a grand unified theory (GUT).

Neutrinos and photons are happily gravity-free, but photons can affect massive particles (themselves subject to gravity), so photons are major players in this universe, carting energy between and inside matter all over.

On the other hand, neutrinos snub the hoi pulloi of matter in nearly all cases.

This wounds the vanity of physicists. So the Snark must be hunted down and roasted alive for the equational distress it has caused.

Should equations be destroyed in the process, replacement values must be found; not market values-- there is no "fair market" for busted physics equations.

I think I'm losing the strand of this boodle, the string must be too super for my woolly thinking.

Somebody knit up some sense, or at least a sweater. Thanks!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I have heard tell of this index of refraction.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

On the up side, or was it the strange side, I hear that the black market value for busted physics equation is quite good.

"Psst, wanna buy some E's and G's? I'll throw in a C^2 for free, as long as you spin a few p's to me when you get 'em in."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The following is from an e-mail I received from The Uptake. These are the same folks who live streamed the MN recount. (Exciting stuff, particularly that last Saturday when they opened the final ballots)

Anyway, no need to be in MN to participate in their latest citizen journalist effort.

"... Much of the news is claiming that the healthcare town halls are loud, disruptive and out of control, but we can't find concrete evidence to back this up. We want to call each congressperson who's held a town hall, and ask them: were there disruptions at your town halls? If so, how many? How disruptive?

We have about 150 calls to make, and we'd like your help. If you have access to a phone, we have the script & phone numbers for you, so you just need to drop a note saying you're interested, and we'll send you the information. (Don't worry: you won't have to make 150 calls. If we get enough volunteers, we're looking at about 10 calls each or less.)

This is an instance where we feel the news being reported may not match up with actual reality. But who knows? We won't know until we call. This is one of the cushy volunteer tasks you can do from home.

If you're interested, drop a note at We'll be making these calls over the next few days, with a Wednesday deadline."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 17, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

On further review of my 6:33, I see I should have abridged it a bit-in the spirit of today's boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 17, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I accept the cats alive, dead and indeterminate. After today I'm still a little concerned about those rainbow ocelots which may appear as nutria - or is it the other way around? At least they're devout.

Actually thanks to RD, bc, ScienceTim who have perhaps through great labor advanced my understanding slightly beyond the rodent stage.

Draculine. Perfect.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Er, before I get too much further into the physics discussions, did anyone read that New Sci article I linked?

If you didn't, well, nevermind then.

'cause it caused me to reconsider the idea of a 'perfect vacuum' as something that may not exist.

And fair enough to point out the differences between relativistic mass and classical mass, *Tim & RD. I figured when we're talking about photons travelling at c we can treat relativistic mass as 'real,' but perhaps not. Indeed, it's all about the energy as you point out. [By the way, Classical Mass is spectacularly good instrumental piece. Heavy mettle, if you like the genre.]

So, what could those photons in that MAGIC data be interacting with that could cause high-energy photons to arrive at the exact same location later than their low-energy siblings after 500 million light years?

I suspect the high-energy photons had to stop to use restroom more often, maybe to drain off some of that p.

(sorry, I couldn't help myself)

Now, on to neutrinos.
And dinner.


Posted by: -bc- | August 17, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Anyone interesting in donating a rather large diamond to me so that I can contemplate the rainbow during Mass while wearing a chinchilla-looking nutria?

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I have a small but IVVS diamond ring that I don't wear any more...

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a couple of decent size diamonds but I'm saving them in case I ever have to hock them ;-).

My stuffed head has not been helped by the conversation today. It is sorta fascinating I guess, if I understood it way better.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, there's a big diamond in Nationals Park you can have, because god knows the Nats aren't interested in using it.


Posted by: Curmudgeon- | August 17, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

bc, great pun. Didn't know high energy photons were Jolt junkies.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Snort, Mudge, add the Red Sox diamond, and i may be intereted.

and Sneaks and Yoki, diamonds are a girl's best friend, so better hang on to them. But thanks for the offers.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I is colour -- in this case, "near colourless"

VVS is clarity -- "very very slight inclusion"

It therefore has a high index of refraction, if RD_Padouk is to be trusted (which I most firmly believe he is). It sparkles! At least it does when it is clean. When I wore it every day, it was often mucked-up with soap, hand lotion and other contaminants.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Nah, diamonds are just stuff, as far as I can determine, rickoshea.

Have you ever noticed that the world is just full of stuff? It is sort of alarming.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

bc - yes, I did read it, and it is very exciting and intriguing. My point is that it potentially implies something about the fabric of spacetime, not anything about photons.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

No mas!

Posted by: seasea1 | August 17, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 17, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

When does a diamond become an heirloom? Besides my silver wedding band the only jewelry I routinely wear is a diamond set in a white gold ring Grandma Frostbitten gave me when I graduated from high school. She had worn it for a few years, but it wasn't something handed down to her. The dott has made it quite clear she wants it, and I do plan to give it to her at some point. Right now I'm leaning toward that point being upon my death. Pros and cons for this plan?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 17, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

How likely is she to commit matricide, Frosty?

If not too likely, then that's a good plan (or when death or arthritic knuckles seem to loom)

I think because your grandma (If I get this right) gave it to you, you should tell your dott that you'll give it to _her_ dott when she graduates from high school.

Should no granddottirs mainfest, will it to her with that dying bequest.

THEN it will become a heirloom. A heirloom is a gift given between the generations, often with a nice story attached.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm probably boodle-hogging, but I really do want to respond to frosti.

I have my grandmother's engagement ring, white gold and diamonds in a Tiffany setting. I cherish it. And wear it frequently (though not always, because I fear losing it outside where I'll never find it again). I will give it to #2 at some point (she had a relationship with her Great-Grandmother near the end of Grandma's life that was touching to witness, whereas #1 and GG rubbed each other the wrong way from day 1). Perhaps when she marries (no indication she is so inclined) or has a child (that whole circle of life thing when I become a grandmother -- some hints that she'd like to be somebody's mother some day). Because I know it was bought new for my grandma, I have decided that it only becomes an heirloom at this second transfer.

But here's the thing. My Mum gave me a ring for my birthday a couple of years ago, and I wear it every day, and feel the loss if I need to remove it. The girls gave me an entwined three-ring about 10 years ago, and that too I wear every day. It represents our bond.

I also gave both my girls rings in Irish silver-work a couple of years ago, and it touches my heart that they both wear them every day as though they were part of their skin.

So I am all for transfer of rings between grandmothers/mothers/daughters/granddaughters while everyone is still living. Because that is the only way we can appreciate how meaningful the symbol is to the recipient and giver both.

Unless it is a really really beautiful piece of jewelry, in which case the next generation will just have to wait.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

It's possible those "slower" photons dipped into a couple or three gravity wells along the way, so that their (now longer) paths were curved into the detector a little later than the others.

Did I just say that? Haven't even hit the good stuff yet...


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 17, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse


I'm having an image of bingo night full of bling-laden old ladies with tattooes and hard-core dyed spiky hair.

I'm smiling.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Bingo? *Bingo?!* A Bingo hall is not a place I would be caught dead in.

But the funny thing is, most of the hardcore bingo players look just like that! (I know this from Brownie fundraising bingo nights.) But they clearly have led a harder life than I have...

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Neither of my daughters has any interest in my jewelry as I wear gold and they prefer platinum or silver. It's too early to tell what the granddaughters interest in jewelry will be. I guess, worst case, if I haven't hocked the stuff I can will it all to the g-daughters. I am tempted to sell some of the gold jewelry from my ex. I don't wear it and I don't like remembering where it came from. I don't, however, feel that way about the diamonds, and they have been reset anyway.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, Yoki, the dottirs will pry my jewelry out of my cold, dead hands. I do have some nice pieces, nothing to be considered heirloom, but I need to decide who gets what and put it on the list with the will.

The one heirloom I have is a huge maple breakfront that was made by my great-great-great grandfather for my great-great grandmother when she married. Traditionally it has been passed down to the oldest daughter, but Elderdottir has declared her disinclination to have children. So I'm in a quandary about it. I'm thinking I'll will it to the first of my daughters and niece who has a daughter. If none of the three reproduces, it will go to a cousin who does have a daughter.

Posted by: slyness | August 17, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

How about hardcore Scrabble halls?

Er, I mean hard-scrabble Scrabble halls?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, my mom determined quite early on that her two good rings would be given to my sister and I - with us deciding which one received which. One was an estate ring my dad had bought mom for an anniversary gift, platinum setting with an emerald centre (which had to be replaced when I broke it trying to clean it) and small diamonds around it - setting very old style - maybe 30's or early 40's. The other is a ring he had made for her, eternity style diamond ring with four little diamonds inbetween larger ones.

She loved those rings and I don't think she should have given them to us while she was still alive. I wear mine everyday since her funeral. I wore it to the funeral and squeezed it when I needed the strength the get up and give part of the eulogy.

I ended up with the diamonds and at somepoint I think I will have rings/necklaces made for each of the girls so that they each can have a part of the ring. Still deciding when I will do that.

I am not really a jewellery person so I doubt I will have anything of any more value to pass on.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

My work here is done, she said humbly.

Next discussion: damask vs toile.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Toile, without a doubt. One can never have enough toile to my mind. I prefer cranberry on an off white ground.

Thanks to all for the ring advice. I'll encourage her to wear it to the funeral.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 17, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Laughing Frosti, I hesitated to wear the ring to the funeral thinking it a little unseemly, but the connection to her was needed and that was what mattered to me. I think it would have made her happy.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Frosty, the pro's and con's of waiting until you die to pass on the rings Iand whatever else:

Con: If you wait until you are dead, you won't be there to see the smile on her face.

Con: Suppose you live to be a hundred, and she's gonna be (I don't know her age, so I'll just throw in an arbitrary number) 75 when she receives it. When she's 75 and her own life is nearly over, that won't be much time left to enjoy the ring. And perhaps by then she won't care.

Pro: You get to keep the ring, possibly long after Alzheimer's has set in and it no longer has any meaning for you for a certain period of time.

Suggestion: find some sort of milestone, either for you (your 65th birthday? the 100th anniversary of your grandmother's birth or death? whatever) or for her (her marriage? birth of first grandchild?) when you will give her the ring. You may also want to announce it, to kind of "lock it in." Or if you don't announce it, you can always change your mind.

It seems to me we always hold on to things a bit too long, often until it's too late.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | August 17, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge makes a good point. My mom had a diamond, not expensive, that she wore all the time. Towards the end of her life in the nursing home, this ring 'disappeared.' I can't say I wasn't warned by the staff to take it, but I didn't have the heart to do that. I did get her wedding ring, which had been my grandmother's and still have that. But yes, there is a time when jewelry that matters should be at the very least taken from the person before it is lost forever.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

RD, indeed that article does present some interesting ideas about the fabric of spacetime. And based on some data regarding how photons - the basic unit of what most of us think of as 'light' - travelled through it to Earth from a particular event, there seems to me to be some interesting unanswered questions.

On a side note, it's amusing to me that we slipped into the old arguments that still go on regarding the relatvistic mass. Just saw a paper on the argument just this past spring, IIRC. Hey, if I gotta argue with anyone about it, I'm cool doing so with *Tim, RD, and the Boodle.

Scottynuke, I believe it's possible that some of the photons took more detours into gravity wells, but wouldn't it likely change their direction as well? And why would it affect the photons of different energies differently and to such a degree?

Sorry, I don't like posing these questions, but there they are.


Posted by: -bc- | August 17, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Have I told my Great Diamond Story? Back in the late seventies or very early 80s my dad gave my mother a double-row heart-shaped diamond necklace on a gold chain. She wore it all the time, and after he died in 1982 I'm not sure she took it off. She moved out of our house in about 1991. Sometime in between, probably the late 80s, she lost the necklace outside - she thought in the back garden. She looked and looked but no luck. Gone.

We moved into the house in 1993. Over the years, resurrecting the gardens, we idly kept an eye out; stranger things have happened. We finally gave up. A couple of years ago, after a heavy rain, something in the front yard by the dog bowls caught Ivansdad's eye. The shape was odd. He plucked it from the mud and sure enough, there was the necklace, intact even to the clasp. No idea where the chain went. I took it to the jeweler from whence it came and had it cleaned up. They loved the story and boy, did it sparkle. Some fun, huh?

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

ZOMG, a jewelry discussion and where was I?

First off, toile. I like black/white or pink/white.

I believe heirlooms come from the first passing down, but I am sentimental. I'm with Mudge, we hang onto things too long when they'd be an absolute delight to someone else.

frosti, I think your answer comes from you--when would you *like* to give it to her? Go with that; it doesn't necessarily stop you from buying/giving her a different diamond.

dmd, great idea. I'm sure you have one, but I can recommend a wonderful goldsmith in upstate PA who will reset stones as you wish and you definitely will get your own back. She's reset my diamonds, beautiful work.

Jeez--look at the time! Off to bed, 2 substitutes are working for me tonight, they'd better not call.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 17, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Great story, Ivansmom! Do you wear it?

Posted by: -dbG- | August 17, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I love that story Ivansmom.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I do, dbG, but not every day. Special occasions only.

The extended family gets a real kick out of it. They were here when it was lost and shared our astonishment when it was found.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I just wrote and inadvertently deleted a long, personal post about diamond rings and earrings. I decided that I wouldn't try to recreate it. My subconscious must have made that decision.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 17, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Damask over toile any day, and black leather over either, always.

Ivansmom, I am *so* crushing on you this evening.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I admit, I prefer damask over toile. Partly this is because I find the idea of damask very rich and expansive. Partly this is because I'm never sure exactly what toile is. I led a very sheltered life as a child and occasionally it catches up to me.

Thanks, Yoki! good song too. Many years (and sizes) ago I had a black leather skirt. Ah, sweet bird of youth. I used to wear it walking around and talking at Hallowe'en parties, with a little nametag "res ipsa loquitur".

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

LOL, Ivansmom. res ipsa loquitur, indeed.

I'll see you a Sweet Bird of Youth and raise you a Hail to Thee, Blithe Spirit!

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

That is a great story Ivansmom. It's got to be a great feeling to have that piece back. I once lost an earring. A week later a neighbor was walking to my house and felt something clinking on her sneaker, yup, my earring was pinned like a thumbtack to the sole.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

These garden gems were in my local paper this weekend. Excerpts from Dan Hinkley's new book (I still have the Heronswood catalogs with his vivid descriptions and stories, no pictures):

And hydrangeas to be:

Posted by: seasea1 | August 17, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I'm not sure I can beat a Hail to Thee, Blithe Spirit. Perhaps a Pearls Before Swine. Or I may have to call. Or fold. Whichever. I'm a very poor poker player.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh seasea, I want those hydrangeas! They all sound beautiful and exotic. I've been drying the flowers from mine by hanging them upside down in the cellar. They are looking good.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 17, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Ack! Then I'll just slouch off to Bethlehem. Keats vs. Yeats.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I'll slouch too! Keats v. Yeats - is Yeats Yates or Keats Kates? I never can remember - is always good. Everyone's a winner. I read the Boy Yeats (and Keats) in his extreme youth. Probably warped him for life.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

seasea, we are having an incredible year for hydrangeas here, the cooler temps and plenty of rain have really helped them.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 17, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

This is why it is funny. Keats is a Keet, and Yeates is a Yate.

So happy for the Boy that he's got pomes. So do the #s. Also, Shakespeare in the kitchen.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link to the traditional the other night, Yoki. I think that'll go on the list of songs I want to be performed at the party that celebrates my passing from this good Earth. I found this great leather bound copy of Foster's Suanee Ribber in an antique bookstore years ago. I don't recall when it was printed, but looong ago, as the lyrics were quite original, and in today's context, politically incorrect. Southern theme, good R&R:

Posted by: -jack- | August 17, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

hey, jack.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

hey, Yoki. opened school to the students today. 188 is the magic number. Then get here. Never heard Rock Hill mentioned in the lyrics. All of the covers I've ever heard say "Raleigh". Interesting. Chuck Berry is often imitated, never duplicated.

Posted by: -jack- | August 17, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite lines, from a juvenile lead in a Mary Stewart novel - "What are Keats, anyway?"

Plenty of Shakespeare here. More than you could shake a stick at. We finish Hamlet this week (Ghost) and embark on Twelfth Night (Malvolio). I'm just reading the Thursday Next novel in which Hamlet comes Outside. I'm also reading the new Thomas Pynchon. Brain confusion.

Time to nudge the Boy towards Bed - school starts Thursday and he's getting used to earlier mornings. Vaya con queso, all, fondue and buenos gnocchis.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 17, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I meant that after 188, we'll get here: The Promised Land.

Interesting banter about jewelry. My Mom had this ruby ring, kind of beat up, so we took it to our jeweler in Wilmington and had him take all of the stones out of it and reset them in three separate rings. One for my wife, and one each for our daughters. About all I have to pass along is things like tools, bicycles, and my guitars. I've already passed along my good looks. *tongue firmly in cheek*

Posted by: -jack- | August 17, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Shakespeare's in the kitchen? Have you got him on vegetable chopping duty, Yoki?
Thank you for that elucidation, Yoki; the question bewildered me.

Now this is how I will remember these names, thanks to you:

Keats forever eats of the crushed grape of melancholy--like the grecian urn frozen in time.

Yates ate the sorrow of love, and wrote a lot of poetry in the past tense.

Keats beats Yeats overall, although Yeats has the occasional real gem.

(I like "A Prayer for my Daughter.")

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Top o' the evening!
I always liked this underappreciated ditty

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 17, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Good one, Jumper. Like you said.

More of the bad boys.

Posted by: -jack- | August 17, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I used to act out all of W.S's plays. For the girls. In a small place.

In up to two minutes.

It was a small kindness.

I trusted that they would get it. And I gave them a kind small thing, literary, that they could trust. And play with. Be comfortable.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Cool, Yoki. Shakespeare Skrum takes 10 minutes and more than one player, talking at high speed with highlighted speechs.

I am sure your performances were more comprehensibly played, and a special memory of childhood.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 17, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Hee! Apparently i am a bad-girl, and a Stone. So not.

Posted by: Yoki | August 17, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Canadians have modelled zombie outbreaks. They'd destroy civilisation. Head for the bunker!

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 18, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

The Gods are mad at someone. For the past couple of days, I had to shut down the computer just so it won’t get killed.

It’s scorching outside. There are no dark clouds building up in the horizon, so hopefully the Gods won’t be mad today.

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 18, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse

Arctic Sea has been found.

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 18, 2009 3:48 AM | Report abuse

I think Mudge and TBG understand how Stefan Gatward feels …..

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 18, 2009 4:39 AM | Report abuse

It looks like the gods in the Atlantic have turned Bill into a category 2 hurricane which will probably go higher today.

It is also pretty maddening when a baseball draft pick gets 15 million before ever throwing a professional pitch.I know the "Natty Bohs" need help but sheesh.

I was quite shocked to see Tiger Woods lose on Sunday,I guess it is a good thing the winner didn't speak English,but really I guess you can swear in any language.

Anybody watch the last play of the MNF game between the Giants and the Panthers?I am sure it was scripted to end like that and not have their first preseason game go into sudden death overtime. Does anyone know why it is called "sudden death overtime"? Does the losing team get executed on the bus ride to the airport?

Just some ramdom thoughts this morning.....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 18, 2009 4:49 AM | Report abuse


This is my last post for the day, I promise…no more boodlehogging …

Update :- Arctic Sea was hijacked….

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 18, 2009 5:11 AM | Report abuse

Bill will provide a nice swell for Florida's beaches this Saturday and Sunday--perfect timing for the school kids. The storm looks as though it might threaten Cape Cod. In keeping with the prospective zombie outbreak, this is a British take on the swell:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 18, 2009 5:15 AM | Report abuse

Hi RF.......
We could use the rain from Bill or anybody else,plus it would always make the river that much more fun.

I just found out my work relief isn't coming in this morning,I have to wait for the managers to come in and they work "managers hours"

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 18, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. I for one am not at all surprised that Bill is going to give you folks a swell event. You can always count on Bill for a good time, says I. From that link, Dave:

"Bill is still on track to deliver a very significant swell event to the East coast for the end of the week which we expect the forecast data below to under call, think Bertha on steriods and, if it comes off as currently forecast, swell of the season stuff."

If it becomes a problem, put some ice on it and maybe the swelling will go down.

Meanwhile, Richard Cohen has a pretty good column debunking Palin called "Palin's Red Menace" and all things Palinism, at

Robinson is good, too:

And Robert Kuttner has a good one, also:

Today in Kamikaze History

Aug. 18, 1945: The final air combat of World War II occurs as a B-32 bomber nicknamed Hobo Queen II is jumped by 14 Japanese aircraft during a photo reconnaissance flight over Tokyo; one crewman is killed and two are injured, but the plane makes it back to base.

slyness, what's for breakfast?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | August 18, 2009 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Although I still say "Bill" is a stooopid name for a hurricane.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | August 18, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning you all. Yes, GWE, Bill is welcomed this way for the rain, just no wind, please.

Thanks for all the boodle mojo, what a terrific uplift, everyone so supportive of each other.

I wonder where martooni is these days?

Scotty, hope you shake off the yukie stuff you have, quickly.

A week from today is my first chemo session, I'm ready.

The double diamond necklace story is wonderful Ivansmom, I love it. Mudge is right about sorting and giving away favorite pieces of jewelry to favorite people. I have two very old rings that were my maternal grandmother's that I will pass on to my first cousin's two daughters, it's nice when the numbers match. I have no sisters, and my brother and his wife have no children and they are older than I am.

I have pearls and rings that will go to my oldest son's fiance' when they marry, she is like a daughter to me and to my husband.

Maybe it's time to sort out the crystal and silverware, too. Do men enjoy the china and all the way some of us female types do?

First light, new day, praise be.

Posted by: VintageLady | August 18, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Contributing fresh peaches sliced up with fresh blueberries for the bunker's breakfast, and hot popovers, to fill with the fruit, cream poured all over.

Posted by: VintageLady | August 18, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Ham biscuits to go with VL's peaches and cream. Yum!

If I don't find the ice cream freezer today or tomorrow, I have to go buy one so I can deliver on homemade promised for a soiree Sunday evening. Wonder where it is?

Morning, everybody!

My favorite lost jewelry story: Years ago, I went to an outdoor fire department event in March without a coat. A battalion chief loaned me his turnout jacket. When I got back, my gold bracelet was gone. I mourned for a month, then one afternoon, the chief came to my office to say, is this bracelet yours? I had it shortened so I wouldn't go through that again!

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!

Thanks for the good wishes, all. I think I'm back among the living. *discreet koff koff* :-)

Jewelry? I got nuttin'...

*contemplating-a-larger-than-usual-breakfast-to-help-quell-the-last-remnants-of-whatever-bug-I'm-fighting Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

So what's the thinking on irradiated diamonds? You know, when you expose cheap yellow diamonds to various kinds of radiation to create more expensive colored diamonds. Personally, I don't see the problem with it. I mean, we cut "natural" diamonds to make them prettier, so why not do other things to enhance their beauty?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 18, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

If you are nice to me I will explain how irradiation works to change the color of a diamond. But if you are really nice to me I won't.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 18, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

RD, I suppose one could argue that irradiating a diamond is something like having plastic surgery to improve one’s looks. But I think the whole thing with gems is a bit silly anyway. I have a pear shaped cubic zirconia pendant that looks exactly like my pear shaped diamond pendant. I can only tell them apart by the setting. Of course a jeweler could spot the fake in a heartbeat, but when I’m wearing the fake, it looks real and if I were to lose it, I wouldn’t mourn.

My cold is a bit better this morning but I think I’m started the coughing stage. Too hot to do anything much except for some quick errands and phone calls. Yes, Bill is a funny name for a hurricane. I keep hearing the old song by the Fifth Dimension I think it was called Wedding Bell Blues?

Posted by: badsneakers | August 18, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I simply can't imagine using radiation for such a purpose, RD_P...

*pointedly avoiding everyone's gaze* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Al. The mornings are definitely drawing in as the summer closes.

Padouk, I could attend to your explanations of all things science as a career. EYE will not be nice to you, not one bit. Fierce. Cruel, even.

Posted by: Yoki | August 18, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

How mean do we need to be, RD? I'd like to hear the explanation, even if I don't understand it completely. Or at all.

I know that blue topaz is heated to deepen the color, but that's the extent of my knowledge.

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Ah, Diamonds and emotions. Wired magazine a few years ago ran an article predicting that flawless lab-made diamonds which were cheaper than the ones created on the backs of third world indigent mining labor were imminent. They predicted the quick collapse of the engagement ring racket, er, industry. Somehow I doubt it.

A former coworker of mine used to run a thought experiment with people he met. Would a woman want as an engagement ring a clearer and bigger diamond if it was manmade and less expensive than a 'natural' diamond?

Most women he he talks to, including his wife, would prefer the natural diamond. When he presses the issue they seem to never have a valid reason except that the artificial ring is cheaper. He has thus reached the conclusion that engagement rings are mostly measures of a man's willingness to sacrifice time, effort, and money for his future life mate rather than being purely a pretty token of affection.

As you might expect, he gets a lot of pushback on this rather cynical view of relationships, but pop zoology is full of examples where female birds pick their mates based on who builds the biggest nest or finds the shiniest pebble.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Shiny pebble!

Posted by: Yoki | August 18, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Here's the Wired Magazine article from 2003.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Sign me up for the BMTRDC (Be Mean to RD Club) if it means we'll get a good sciency explanation.

I don't really "get" jewelry myself. If I lost my wedding band, which cost all of $35, I'd be beside myself. Grandma's ring too, but not because it is worth so much more. The replacement cost would be $0 because there's no way I could replace it.

Off to read the papers. Perhaps its time for Obama to deliver a tone changing speech on health care as he did with race after the Rev. Wright kerfluffle. He'll never convert the nutjobs, but getting the reasonable back in the tent would be good.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 18, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I would be interested in the process as well RD.

Have felt bad about this all night, the failure to understand RD, bc and SciTim was entirely my fault and in no way representative of their explanations - I am not good at understanding something I have no hope of seeing, touching.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Yup, sneaks, the song was "Wedding Bell Blues," sung by Marilyn McCoo (of the 5th Dim.) to Billy Davis, Jr., founder of the group (and qwho she married the year the song came out; they are still married 40 years later).

The late great Laura Nyro wrote "Wedding Bell Blues" when she was only 18, and also wrote two other 5th D hits, "Stone Souled Picnic" and "Sweet Blindnness."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Okay, here it is, sorta.

Perfectly clear materials have electrons so tightly bound to the atoms that they cannot absorb any of the photons that pass through. Clear materials that are colored have a few electrons that can absorb photons, but typically only photons of a certain energy level, which corresponds to certain colors.

These electrons can come from either impurities (which is why stained glass is produced by adding metal to glass) or from imperfections in the crystal structure. The latter is (usually) the case in colored diamonds. Gaps in the carbon structure are occupied by loosely-bound electrons that are free to absorb certain colors. (These are, cleverly, called "color center")

When you irradiate a diamond you allow the crystal structure to shift about and you also knock loose some of the bound electrons. The net result is that you destroy some color centers and produce some new ones.

The details depend on the size of of the imperfections in the diamond, and the energy of the radiation. But the net result is a change in the color.

So it's all about electron bondage. Who knew physics could be that kinky?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 18, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

After failing to comprehend the physics discussions my ego took a big hit, then I read this - how not to steal.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Sssssh, Boodle. We must be *very* quiet today around Scotty. He is still recovering, and we DON'T want him to see what the Nationals did last night, a mere 75 seconds before the draft/trade deadline. So in the inetersts of Scotty's health and well-being, mum's the word.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Hm? What?

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Nothing, Scotty, nothing. Don't let it prey upon your mind. Take a nap, perhaps.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

There's a mind-preyer about???

*gittin' mah tinfoil hat out*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, RD. Even I grasped the essence of that science.

Posted by: Yoki | August 18, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ok, let me see if I understand this, we have to be a little nice or maybe mean and fierce so RD will explain bondage to us.

Posted by: -CB- | August 18, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

RD, thank you. Even I understood your explaination. In my next life, along with being taller, I'd like to have a more sciency mind.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 18, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Before we get too 'mean' with RD, let's establish a safe word. How about 'quark'?

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh good grief.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 18, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

No no, that's too long, RD... Keep it simple. Like "Ow."

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Somehow, this just seems so apropos for the Boodle:

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Somebody named Higgs just knocked on the door looking for someone named RD. I was going to ask him a question, but he was gone in an instant.

Posted by: ebtnut | August 18, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Only time for a flyby this AM.

Watched some of MNF last night and frankly OD'd on Gruden about halfway through the second quarter. Frankly, he's redundant with Jaws in the booth.

I'm gonna miss Mr. Tony, just as I miss Dennis Miller.

Perhaps I'll relate my favorite lost jewelry story later...


Posted by: -bc- | August 18, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Having worked 12-22 hour days for the past few weeks, I'm getting a late start today and taking the ScienceKids up to Baltimore for a day trip. See ya!

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 18, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I am-like-so outta-here.

I hope You are happy now. Stay that way. LVL- that's love very long if you didn't know. Now You do because You should be happy.

Posted by: Dermitt | August 18, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm occasionally willing to do a little bit of reading about football at this time of year, but I watches no football before Labor Day, and normally not much before Halloween. Summer & football just don't work for me. If I lived in Miami, I might not ever watch any at all.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Okay, anybody know what *that's* all about?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Dermitt - How... delightful!

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Goodness me.

Posted by: Yoki | August 18, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

*raised unibrow* Oooooo-kay.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

CNN reports Bob Novak is no longer with us... R.I.P.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Do you mean to say the rays jiggle the screw dislocations?

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 18, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

So, as part of my ongoing attempt to keep WaPo in business, I clicked on an ACUVUE® ad. Among other things, I found the following testimonial:

- - -

I am a semi-pro salsa dancer and, in my opinion, I feel like I have the driest eyes ever, which is extremely distracting while dancing. A recent trip to my eye doctor gave me the opportunity to try 1•DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® Brand Contact Lenses and another brand. To my surprise, they were wonderful! They are a dream come true. Great job!

Thank you.

Bracey B.
Runnemede, New Jersey
- - - -

There's such a thing as a semi-pro salsa dancer? I didn't even know they had a league! Does anybody ever get to Runnemede? Should I be scouting Bracey for the big leagues?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

CNN is reporting that Robert Novak has died. RIP.

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I, nasal harp.
A plain rash.
A sharp nail.

Who am I?

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 18, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The cafeteria has Mexican Chicken soup today...

No podría lastimar, eh?

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin :o)

Posted by: Moose13 | August 18, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh, that's easy, Jumper...

Gov. Quitter.


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I think I'll steer clear of any comment sections on articles related to Novak. I've seen his detractors get a little ugly, and display a hazy sense of boundaries.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Heaven's knows, Bob.

Meanwhile, the Russians have captured the eight hijackers (alive, remarkably enough; the 15 crew are also alive and well) who shipknapped the Arctic Sea. Given the seriousness of the crime (piracy on the high seas, plus all the assorted related felonies, kidnapping, beating up people, etc.) I'd reckon the careers (and lives) of these guys is effectively over. I'm guessing firing squad, probably in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we'll probably never know what was *really* on that ship. One of the rumors (predictably) was nuclear material, and that somehow the Russian gummint was complicit. So then it becomes something of an inside job: if the Russians were shipping something nasty, somebody "inside" leaked it to some bad guys (the Russian mob?) who decided to steal it.

I find the notion of a drug deal not very credible. The cost of the hijacking setup probably cost as much as the cost of the timber cargo, a million bucks or more. But if that's all it was, they could have taken the drugs off the ship and disappeared back into Russia. But they didn't-- they kept the ship. That implies they needed the ship to continue the delivery to someplace, either a safe port somewhere in Africa, or perhaps a mid-ocean rendezvous with another ship, which was going to take the mystery cargo off. If it was a rendezvous, it most likely didn't happen, because the hijackers were still aboard.

But I'm pretty sure we'll never know exactly what was going on. I'm sure the Russians will know, and possibly our people, too. But there won't be any announcement, or if there is one, it'll be malarky.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Funny about D.C.

I wonder if there's still a two link minimum? Or if there ever was? Curmudgeon's 6:03 a.m. had three.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 18, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what Joel's writing about Bob Novak right now?

Personally, I have nothing to say on the matter.

While we're waiting, perhaps a Lost Jewelry story?

A gentleman - nice house with a well-kept yard, labrador retriever, garden, etc. - proposes marriage to a woman, offers her a very nice ring (clearly antique), and she accepts.

Things go swimmingly when he meets her parents. However, shortly after meeting his, he breaks off the engagement and asks for the ring back, claiming it's a family heirloom.

Realizing that his folks waved off the marriage and that she now posseses a ring from a family she wants no part of, she decides to give the ring back.

She sticks the ring in a ball of hamburger and drives to her ex-fiance's house while he's at work, feeds it to the dog. She makes sure the dog's OK, then drives to work and phones the ex to tell him that she's returned the ring - gave it to his dog, in fact - and that he should be able to find it in the yard in a day or two.

He asks why she did that, she tells him that she didn't feel right about giving it back without gift wrapping it appropriately.


Posted by: -bc- | August 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Although no one yet knows the motive of the hijackers of the ship Arctic Sea, there is an on the scene report that some of the pirates (seen here)

muttered darkly about the speed capabilities of the ship being "not what we were led to believe."

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

That's a fierce lookin' crew, kguy!

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Someone told them it could make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, kguy??

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what to say about the Arctic Sea:

Did someone disgusied as a Russian disable the Cloaking Device?

"And we'd have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

Scotty, thanks for the smirking eye-roll...


Posted by: -bc- | August 18, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The Line That Ruined the Movie. I remember, again, why I was unimpressed by Star Wars. I saw a similar thing th other day. They had centrifugal gravity AND artificial "instantly switch on & off" gravity in the same habitat. I shook my head and changed channels.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, jumper, there really did used to be a two-link maximum. About six or eight months ago, the WaPo IT peeps did some maintenance and whatnot, and it was increased to three links. (I think it was about the same time as the print was grayed down a bit.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The link limit has been three for some time now. They need to publicize the major policy changes better.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Feeling very brave today, I decide to read the comments on "share your thoughs about Robert Novak".

I think they should just shut that down, early on nother truly vile but very little kind to say, I would think it will get much worse.

I did have to chuckle at the comment

Ding, Dong!...

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Veering unsteadily towards the Kit, I have pondered Joel's article and the Boodle explanations of neutrinos, and I believe I have seen the error of my ways. Neutrinos are not giant rainbow swamp rats. They are flying baby newts with superpowers. This changes everything.

I still worry about the ocelots, though.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 18, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I don't know that the 2-3 link change would be defined as a "major policy" change in all quarters. For some it might be a feature as frequently used as non-English character sets.

Now, I think converiting to a paid subscription site, *that* would be a major policy change, I think. Probably not a good business change, but a major one, for sure.


Posted by: -bc- | August 18, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: Robert Novak

I'll adhere to the time honored Thumper Principle.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I think you need to talk to these guys-

there's a column there someplace.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Agreed kguy,one of the reasons I think the "share you thoughts on Robert Novak" should be shut down.

Just noticed that comments have been disable on the Globe and Mails story of his death.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

There's just something about us Bobs that pisses people off.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey there, Boodle!

I'm still alive, but I do have a doctor's excuse for not checking in the last couple of months. Had a very major psoriasis outbreak -- Doc said it was the worst case he'd ever seen outside of medical books -- lost all my hair and fingernails/toenails and 25 pounds I really didn't need to lose to boot.

In any case, I'm still mostly covered in scales but at least I can move again without bleeding or experiencing excruciating pain. I've also invented many new foul words and phrases during the course of this malady.

I gotta do some serious back-boodling to see what yinz have been up to, but I hope this finds everyone in good shape and happy spirits.

Peace out... :-)

Posted by: martooni | August 18, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Lutherans to Vote on Sexually Active Gay Clergy"

Can't they just use paper ballots like everyone else?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

When your nickname is Prince of Darkness, you have a hint of how your legacy is going to be reported. I remember reading Evans and Novak in the Op/Ed page of my grandfather's newspaper. He was the last of the muckraking columnists.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

A scaly martooni is better than no martooni at all. Glad you're on the mend.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 18, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Peace out indeed, martooni. If you backboodle, you will find serious concern over your absence. I hope all else is well. Hang in there, danghippie.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Much Boodle mojo to ya, 'toon!!!

*faxin' a dozen gross cartons of whatever works best on psoriasis*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Martooni! I could fax you my very large aloe plant if that would help. Glad to see you back amongst us.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 18, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

That's just not true, Bob S. There's plenty of Bobs we like, including you: Buffalo Bob, Bob and Ray, Bob's Big Boy, my late Uncle Bob and his son, my cousin Bob, Bob Bob Bob Bob Bobra A-a-a-a-nn, Bob Barker, host of "The Price Is Right," Bob Bell (Bozo The Clown), Bobby Cannavale, Bob Costas, Bob Crane, Bob Denver, Bobby Flay, Bobcat Goldwaith, Bob Hope, Bob Hoskins, Bob Keeshan, (Captain Kangaroo), Bob Newhart, Bob Schieffer, Bob Steele, (old-timey cowboy actor. Never mind. Just go with him, OK?), Billy Bob Thornton, and Bob Vila, of This Old House, to name only a few – and I’m not even going to *begin* listing the Roberts, of whom there are dozens.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

The Toonster is back!!! *stealing Scotty's happy Snoopy dance while Scotty is recovering*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Martooni!!!! Hope you feel better soon.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, as our friends across the pond would say, "Bob's your uncle!"

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, so good to hear from you. We were quite concerned! Glad to hear that you're on the mend, but jeez. Did you have to get something so terrible!

Welcome home!

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, 'Toon! That's a really tough go. Hope the docs can get you really better soon. No one wants to be a case study in the NEJM.

Posted by: ebtnut | August 18, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I hate all those Bobs-- or know somebody who does. Heck, didn't Tim Allen make a career out of "hating Bob Villa"?

In fact, there's a new Bob out there in the comics world, and he's dangerous, even without a stutter, golf club, tv show, movie, or a column.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 18, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This is great! Now the headline is even better:

"Lutherans Weigh Gay Clergy"

'Cuz they gotta do something about this obesity epidemic in the Lutheran gay clergy.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 18, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the welcome back, everybody! It's nice to see my imaginary friends haven't forgotten me. ;-)

Where's my girl Cassandra? She's been on my mind lately (as have many of you). I really wanted to login (if even just to say "hello"), but between the psoriasis and it's accompanying arthritis I couldn't even type without having to scream obscenities.

Sneaks... faxed aloe sounds good, but I'm afraid I'm beyond the natural remedies. They have me on a cancer med right now (methasomethin'or-other) administered via needle in da bum once a week. Got all the medicated creams and ointments, too, but they had to break out the big guns to fight it from the inside out.

Time to get out to the shop and get some work done...

Posted by: martooni | August 18, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

An amusing spelling error from our Prime Minister's office.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 18, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Martooni! I'm glad you checked in. We were worried. Keep poking your head in with updates, even if you don't feel well enough to Boodle. Lots of good wishes from here.

Now that it doesn't hurt so much, and while you still have scales, maybe you can exploit this. Birthday party dragon?

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 18, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Sheez, Toon, everything to excess!

Welcome back and best wishes for your better health.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 18, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow, martooni... your hair? Can you still leap at least?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 18, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Martooni I have heard of at least one case of irreversible liver damage caused by aggressive psoriasis meds, steroids IIRC, so find out about all possible side effects with each new treatment.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

That's a great jewelry story, bc...

One of my best friends managed to lose the back and drop a diamond earring into her dog's mouth. Of course he swallowed it before she could get it so she followed him around the yard for several days. She put the output into baggies until she found the earring. After cleaning it to the best of her ability, she took the pair to the jeweler and asked for them to clean them again.

Cassandra's around, Martooni, she's been asking about you.

Posted by: slyness | August 18, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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

Hello, friends. Martooni, it's so good to hear from you. I've been asking about you, but no one said anything, so I kind of thought perhaps you weren't with us anymore. I'm so glad that isn't the case. I hope you get well soon. The scales cannot be fun. It seems they might get in the way of everything. I don't show up every day. I have a lot of stuff going on in my life now, just pop in occasionally. I hope you come more often, we've certainly missed you.

I don't understand law enforcement allowing people to show up with guns at these Presidential events. What's with that? They usually put these folks in jail, and we get to see their picture on the news. Not only are they showing up with guns, they get to keep their guns. Are we asking for trouble? Everybody I know that owns a gun, bought the gun to use it. Am I the only one that knows that?

This is starting to remind me of Klan days. Not good, not good, at all.

I won't comment on the death of Robert Novak, except to say, all of us will answer that call.

Please answer a question for me. If I start a organization and obtain exempt status(non-profit), can I change that, and if I do, will I be liable for any money accepted during the time of the non-profit status? I would really appreciate an answer.

As the guy said on the news yesterday about the weather, we have air that one can wear. Humid, and hot.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

In most states openly carrying a firearm is not a crime. Generally you have to have a permit for a concealed weapon, but not one in plain sight. Some areas have restrictions on this- bars, schools, etc. but many do not. I'm pretty sure that Montana is not at all restrictive of weapons. These individuals are probably just rabid NRA folks asserting their rights and not an active threat to the president.

On the other hand, I would not start pushing the Secret Service's buttons by doing what these guys are doing. Putting your hand in the tiger's mouth is not the way to insure longevity.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Tut, tut, Wilbrod, I'm skeptical. I don't think you hate my Uncle Bob or my cousin Bob, nor do you know anyone who does. I doubt you know anyone who hates Bob Steele (you gatta be an old codger like me to even know who he was). Yes, he played a bad guy in "The Big Sleep," but that was only acting. Acting! (in the voice of the Master Thespian). Tim Allen *said* he hated Bob Vila -- but we know it was just jealous, and deep down under he had a massive man crush on Bob.

No one can hate Bob Elliot, and certainly no one -- NO ONE!!!-- can hate Bob Newhart. Such a person who might hate Bob Newhart would have to be deeply disturbed, and hardly a reliable witness.

A few of the others I find difficult, though perhaps not impossible to believe someone dislikes. Bob Schieffer, for example. Always seemed like a very pleasant man to me. I would argue anyone who "hated" Schieffer was reacting to some nutjob politics, not to the man himself.

But so what? I never said *everybody* liked *all* those Bobs (I don't like a few of them myself), just disagreeing that people hate everyone named Bob.

Speaking of Bobs, hey Bob S., are they weighing the gay clergy one at a time, or like, gathering them all together on a big truck scale and weighing the whole batch of them? Inquiring minds want to know. God is in the details, man (to quote a famous source).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Brett Favre is now a Viking. *sigh*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I thought Brett Favre retired, last year? The year before?

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 18, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, using air quotes (on-kit!, sort of), "it depends".

I suspect it will almost always be easier to simply wind-down the exempt organization and start a new for-profit organization than to convert from one to the other.

martooni, all the best in your treatment.

Posted by: engelmann | August 18, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Favre will definitely make it into the pro football hall of fame, but they should wait until five years after he is pronounced dead by a reliable coroner. Otherwise he'll re-animate and play "just one more season." The guy has gone from consensus icon to universal irritant.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 18, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Favre retires every year.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, here's a link with some info about how to dissolve a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Basically you have to get permission from the IRS to do so.

The money and any other property acrrued while tax-empt has to be accounted for, but if you mean do you have to give it back or pay taxes on it (if properly disbursed), then no. But whatever is left at the time of dissolution may have to be properly dispersed in some way. (Worst case, donate it to some charitable organization.)

If you are worried about starting a 501(c)3 and then ending it later on, I wouldn't worry about it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 18, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse


In other words, shut down what was the non-profit, and using that same organization, convert to profit status? And that would mean changing tax id number, and everything else? Can the person that was in charge of the non-profit, simply buy the organization, building included?

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 18, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | August 18, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Rachel Maddow had a retired Secret Service guy on her show last night, asking him about the yahoos who are showing up with guns. He said the fact that they were allowed to remain where they were probably meant they were nowhere where they could harm the president...But he certainly didn't think it was smart of the yahoos to be doing that. I suppose with Bush being pro-NRA, the yahoos didn't feel compelled to show up, and liberal types wouldn't think about doing that. But it worries me, because it's got to be a distraction for the Secret Service and local law enforcement. Rick Perlstein wrote a column about the "crazy tree in bloom" which was quite good, and had a chat today (which I have not read yet):

Posted by: seasea1 | August 18, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse


Not me. I thought our community organization was non-profit, in fact, it was, but I think some changes have been made, and I was not made aware of these changes. I had been asked to find funding for some projects, but those in charge had a change of heart, and didn't want to tell me that. They preferred I run into a brick wall.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 18, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, rush your ticket order right now. The Pythons are coming!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 18, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

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