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Caitlin's Story

Sometimes guest Achenblogger Caitlin Gibson today gives us an in-depth look at a heroin ring among teenagers in the Washington suburbs. It's the first of a two-part article in the Style section. Pretty scary reading for those of us with kids in the firing line. These were high achieving kids who took AP classes and won spots on the cheerleading squad and so forth. From the story:

What soon became clear was that the teens had graduated to heroin from a stunning menu of drugs: ecstasy, mushrooms, LSD, methamphetamines, cocaine, barbiturates, prescription pills....

The kids called it "partying," but it wasn't really; they'd use, then mostly just sit around watching TV, listening to music, smoking cigarettes. In a basement, or a bedroom, or a car. They were together but alone, adrift in their own oblivion. Even after police interrogations and arrests, they felt little anxiety about being caught.

It's one of those stories that obliterates the reader's it-couldn't-happen-here reflex.

[Here's the printer-friendly version fyi.]


"Slow-blogging" -- I like it.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 3, 2009; 7:41 AM ET
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Next: Obama's not-so-happy anniversary


Foist!!! (I'll go back and get the Boodle now.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

What a powerful and well-written story. This kind of drug use reminds me of a disease.

Just as a kid can develop cancer even if a parent does everything possible to keep the child healthy, so too can a child succumb to drugs even if a parent does all the things we are instructed to do. In both cases it helps to be lucky.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

No wonder you liked that slow-blogging piece, Joel (I did, too): you should have been mentioned in it as one of the original founders of said movement (one hesitates to call you a "pioneer," cuz its sort of an old fuddy-duddy notion), and you certainly ought to be its Poster Boy. But I don't suppose an NYT Style section piece would mention (much less promote) a WaPo celeb blogger (nor the very iconclastic, if not in fact unique, Boodle confabulation that supports him).

In this regard the Boodle serves an interesting function that some of the bloggers mentioned in the NYT piece don't have: a self-functioning following. Whereas some of those bloggers wwere talking about burn-out and fall-off of followers, if you go on vacation or don't post anything significant for a week or ten days, it's OK; the Boodle continues and holds down the fort.

And some days "your" blog is simply a quick referential item either to one of your own stories, or to one like today's referential paragraph point to Caitlin's piece -- and that's fine, that's all that's needed to keep the machine chugging along happily at 4 miles an hour. And goodness knows, sometimes the Boodle even wonders off on its own obscure pathways, and holds everyone's attention for a couple of days while you're off earning a living or traipsing around Europe. Which is cool with everybody.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Jeepers Joel. All this time I assumed the laconic pace of the Achenblog was because you are a busy man with borderline procrastination issues. But after reading that slow-blogging article I know realize that you are, in fact, making a profound philosophical statement about the hyper-kinetic nature of modern life.

Wow. Who knew?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

You are quite right, Mudge. Joel gets away with it because of the boodle. Although I do like that "philosophical statement" spin on the pace of the kits.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Went ot a funeral last week of a guy who OD'd in Falls church. His Dad had died that morning, so the funeral was a double-bill. Incredibly rough on the family.

Posted by: wiredog | November 3, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Caitlin, if you are monitoring the Boodle, that was one helluva piece. Can't wait for tomorrow's installment.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I've noticed a distinct slowing in the pace of my blog posts. Down to as low as once a week. I felt guilty because I thought it reflected laziness and a general ennui. But now I have a philosophical defense.

Although I have to think Facebook and other social media are picking up the slack.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait for Caitlin's next installment. One of the best things about the dott's early marriage is that suddenly she and her husband have been embraced by adults spanning a wide variety of ages. She's been watching the World Series at a cousin's house-the cousin is closer to my age than the dott's. It was very scary in the years when same age peers were her main source of support "for everything I've been through."

Yes Yoki- "give more get more" (and I'm not talking about jewelry).

Something must be dreadfully wrong with me, I've already had a good run on the treadmill and eaten a healthy breakfast. Must be that even the prospect of gainful employment has lifted my mood. I just may get giddy when I actually see a check.

Slow blogging, that's my style. As reader and writer.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 3, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The other thing I am getting from this story is that with each new freedom comes risk. You wanna keep the kids off drugs? Make sure they never date or leave the house. Heck, forbid them from having friends of any kind. Make sure they have no money. Subject them and their rooms to random searches.

That oughta do it. Of course, there might be a downside to this method of parenting as well.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Wow. That Caitlin article is some good stuff. That instant-news, no-content provider crowd, they don't have that. It is scary indeed. RD is exactly right - with freedom comes risk. It starts when you let them loose on the playground as toddlers, and apparently doesn't stop. So far the Boy is very clear on the idea that drugs are bad, even if they make you feel good, and doing drugs is uncool and dumb. He prefers to think of himself as cool and smart. I'm operating from some strength here since I had lots of friends who did drugs of many kinds, but I never did.

I also like the Slow Blogging article. Joel and the Boodle move a little more quickly than the Slow Bloggers described in the article. Perhaps this is Soft Boil blogging. Occasionally, of course, Joel speeds up to what is, for us, a dizzying pace.

I'm off to meetings. I'll check in later.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 3, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for the link to the Slow Blogging article. The story says that practice of slow blogging is inspired by the slow food movement.

I did choose a food panel at Austin's Texas Book Festival. To backtrack a bit, I did mention that one male writer broke my heart on Sunday. I love the works of historian William Goetzmann. Until this year's festival, I didn't realize that he is a Texan and still living and still writing, although he must be in his 70s now. I had lugged along three of his earlier works from my personal library for his signature--only to learn at the door to his session that he had to cancel because of illness.

So Kati Marton was my clear second choice. At one point during the past two years, I found a very good hardpack copy of her much earlier "Wallenberg," and working on a strong hunch at the time--call it woman's intuition, if you will--felt that our paths would cross one more time in our respective lifetimes. So I trudged to the signing tent after Kati's presentation to get both "Wallenberg" and "Enemies of the People" autographed. Which meant that there was no time for food nor drink before the third session.

"Are You Gonna Eat That?", in the capitol's House Chamber, the third in my Sunday, was certainly the most well-attended session that I observed. The bottom floor was full and the upper gallery was packed like the proverbial and cliched can of sardines. The panelists were Novella Carpenter, Berkeley, Calif. author of "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer"; Jonathan Safran Foer, author of "Eating Animals"; James E. McWilliams, author of "Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly"; and chef Jason Sheehan, author of "Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Death, Love and Sex in the Kitchen", with moderator Corby Kummer of the Atlantic Monthly.

-more- (on the problem with moderators and an empty stomach)

Posted by: laloomis | November 3, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Assidous blogging
requires a lot of peace
to commune with trees


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 3, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. You know you are old when you read a grocery list of drugs and you've done only one, the other having come in fashion after your crazy days were over. *sigh*

Hey Wildrodog, surely you know more than 1500 words, otherwise that would cramp your aiku-writing style.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 3, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

is my middle name for sure!
...How many biscuits
makes one thousand five hundred?
Is that more than ten?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 3, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Austin is a city that takes its good food and organic food choices very seriously, so it came as little surprise to me that this food panel was so well-attended.

However, during the weekend, I discovered three different problems with moderators, and Atlantic Monthly's Kummer was the third. He opened by saying, "Let's talk about 'the moment of slaughter.'" Well, the panel droned on about the moment of slughter for 20 minutes, which became the eternity of slaughter. I felt Kummer certainly favored and encouraged comments from both Foer and McWilliams. After what seemed like a lifetime, Kummer finally changed topics to a long-winded discussion about the environmental impact of slaughter. Sheehan did provide some humor with a comment that was the only bleepable moment--paraphrased by me as "effing eagle eggs"--during the book fest.

What had been running through my mind since I sat in the gallery was how hungry I was and how good a pulled pork sandwich from Ruby's would taste. Our early Sunday morning breakfast at the restaurant facing Sixth Street in the historic Driskill Hotel was hours ago. After eating a dry, tastless hamburger from one of the food vendors on Saturday, I had learned, while waiting in the line for Gail Collin's book talk, about Ruby's pulled-pork sandwiches, Ruby another festival food vendor. The coleslaw, with small bits of jalapeno, was on the bun with the pork, a tasty morsel we learned about from Mr and Mrs. Church, who were also waiting for Collins. Mr. Church was formerly news director of the ABC affiliate station KSAT in San Antonio during the 1970s and early 80s. Inhaling these small sandwiches on the capitol lawn meant that we were ten minutes late for the our day's last session about TR, the only session I attended with my spouse during the entire two days.


Posted by: laloomis | November 3, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I sometimes think that admitting you have never done drugs invites more disdain than admitting you did. But why should this be?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Blood and gory moo
Makes any red-blooded gal
hungry for red meat?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 3, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I will say the food panel was the only session I bombed out of early, enabling me to be the second to stand in the long signing line for Foer. Foer spoke at Loomis Chaffee on April 28, and I learned from him that he will return to the school in two weeks. I asked for his autograph on the Loomis Chaffee magazine, and when he personalized "Everything Is Illuminated" with my last name, he appeared a bit startled, even though I explained to him when he was autographing the magazine that he spoke at the school that was on my ancestral homestead.

While in a book signing line on Saturday, I met a man from Driftwood. He told me about a local favorite dining hole called the Salt Lick. The Intercontinental Hotel pulled up directions for the Lick as we were packing up our car after the fetival. Once my husband learned it was barbecue, he wanted to eat there. We drove 10 miles south off Highway 290, going up and down winding hills in the day's last rays of light to find it. It was open-air, with a steady stream of cars turning in. The lot was full and there must have been 250 people milling around. Learning that there was an hour's wait (On Sunday? We expected that situation on a Friday or Saturday night...), we pushed on. Getting directions on how to get to Blanco, via Dripping Springs as it turns out, one of the direction givers said that the Salt Lick is world-famous. If it's so world-famous, why had we never heard of it? My husband vows to return to Driftwood's hills and renown barbecue joint in the not too distant future.

What became obvious 30 minutes from downtown Austin is that carfuls of carnivorous Texans still crave their meat.

Posted by: laloomis | November 3, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Never done drugs, RD. I see no disdain involved in following the law.

Which in itself raises the question: why do people who break the law want to spread a culture of its being acceptable to do so? The answer, of course, is that they either want the law changed or enforcement weakened. Therefore, they have a vested interest in pressuring others to feel their opinions and behavior are narrow-minded.

People who follow the law concerning drug use have no such motivation, other than parents and other adults trying to stop illegal drug use. Which in then makes them "the man" to rebel again and so be cool.

It is strange how few people rebel by going to help in soup kitchens and learning to cook like demons, burning up their income by feeding others-- at least nowadays.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 3, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm so totally king of the slow bloggers, also the lazy bloggers and non-bloggers and can't-be-bothered-bloggers (a k a the can't-be-bloggered). I talked yesterday to a colleague starting a blog and my main advice was to ignore the dictate to post twice a day, minimum: It's much better to focus on developing the comment community, because, as Mudge notes, the comments keep this blog alive. I don't quite get why some bloggers post 20 times a day. Sure, it boosts page views, but it's a recipe for burnout and it hampers the comment thread. Why would someone want to post a lengthy comment at 10 a.m. if by 2 p.m. it's going to be 9 comment threads in the rear? By doing the one thread a day, typically, there's better "play" for any one comment and that's why this boodle typically has more thoughtful and better composed comments than -- I'm guessing -- 99.9 percent of blogs.

Posted by: joelache | November 3, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Disdain? Not in my experience (which was, I admit, a very long time ago). Except for the mildest experimentation, I was always comfortable abstaining.

I am also happy to report that my young ladies and their many friends heartily disapprove of their peers taking any drugs, including tobacco and alcohol (well, #1 includes alcohol on her list of banned substances, #2 enjoys a beer on karaoke night). Almost all the young people I know are extremely clean-living.

I wonder if that means that the last 30 years of messages coming from parents, schools and public-health authorities have been effective, or if it is just a generational thing; the kids rebelling by taking fewer risks than their parents did at the same age?

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I believe that my experience and example of being deeply, seriously, odd, without taking any mind-altering drugs beyond the occasional beer, has demonstrated to my offspring that illegal drugs are a weak solution to a shameful lack of inventiveness on the part of the users. Combine this example with the well-inculcated miserliness of the ScienceKids, and drug-free kids are the result. I think.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Still cleaning up the Full Moon mess, got the worst of the biohazardous material into trashbags and over to the curb this morning, and there's plenty to do when I get home from work.

Haven't read Ms. Gibson's piece yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Of course good kids can get mixed up in bad situations - can't help but think of Rev. Jim Ignitowski (sp?) here. [Scottynuke & RD, please stop looking at me in that tone of voice.]

I'm on the Slow Blogger train - heck, I didn't even know my site was down for a couple of days. It's Fall, maybe time to post there again.

And I believe there's already a word for Slow Commenters like me, too - isn't the term some form of "Mudged?"


Posted by: -bc- | November 3, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The parents of these kids would be very offended if you accused them of not conveying an anti-drug message. All parents do that. How and why it sinks in must have much more to do with their peer group. For that I recommend getting your kids involved with band and collectible card games. I've seen very little evidence of drug or alcohol use in these groups.

However, when watching Mean Girls on a band bus trip there was a passing reference to 'sexually active band geeks' that drew a lot of hoots of recognition, so better just stick to collectible card games. Maybe even the chess club.

And based on what we know of Michael Phelps, I'd keep them off the swim team as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I always considered my youthful drug experiments somewhat similar to ham radio enthusiasm, or hang-gliding at worst. My role model was in an important sense the "go anywhere, do anything" reporter for Popular Science magazine, Bob Gannon. At least in the beginning...

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone *did* suggest that the parents weren't acting responsibly. The obverse of the coin is of course that we can't really take credit for clean kids anymore than they can be indicted.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

No, bc, being "mudged" is basically a timing issue, not a slow-poke thing. Anyone can get mudged at any time.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I like the slow blog article more than the Heroin thing. So far, the parents are cardboard: who are they, where did they get their values, are they drinkers, spankers, crystal-gazers, former high-school athletes, readers, what? Is there art on the walls? Lights on? Are they bandits?

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"The obverse of the coin is of course that we can't really take credit for clean kids anymore than they can be indicted."

Thank you, Yoki. You were just in the nick of time. I was starting to get pretty testy about some comments, suppositions and stereotypes accruing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Back in 2006 when my blog was on a crime spree, I blogged about Ashley Mason, a 14-year-old that got killed at a Pizza Hut my family frequented.

She had been hanging around The Wrong Crowd. Two losers got convicted of the murder, but that is no solace to the parents.

I got comments from both people that knew the victim and ones that knew the murderer. A very interesting if rather frightening take on the situation.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't know that it matters much who the parents are. A decade ago, there were concerns about Reed College's overworked, overachieving students being prone to recreational drug use. It probably didn't help that a neighborhood a few miles from the campus seemed to be the center of the local heroin trade. It was a fairly nice neighborhood, beginning to gentrify, though it was one of the neighborhoods where the Police Bureau subsidized home purchases by its officers. By now, I think it's full-blown upscale.

The terrifying thing about heroin in Portland was the high fatality rate, including suicides.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 3, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Caitlin’s story is very disturbing. As a person in recovery and a grandmother, I worry because I know how devastating any addiction can be even if it doesn’t end in death. Heroin is the most addictive drug, if my facts are correct, almost 100 percent of those who use it will become addicted within a short time. This fact has always made me wonder why anyone would use it - do they all think it will be different for them? Alcohol is only addictive to about ten percent of those who use it and this varies somewhat according to ethnic background. Also, alcohol addiction doesn’t usually happen so quickly, it’s more cumulative.

The mainstream media has demonized all drugs equally which I think is the wrong message to send to kids. They know some drugs, pot for example, are not that dangerous and/or addicting (yeah, opening a can or worms here but I’m generalizing, okay?) so they ignore warnings about the really bad drugs. And kids will do stupid things, no matter how they are brought up. When my girls were teenagers I remember thinking at times that I could have phoned in all my mothering for all the good it was doing them. Thankfully, they managed to escape any major drug issues, although I know they both smoked pot.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 3, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The article looks at the push and pull of drugs. The push is often mental illness. Anxiety is increasingly understood as the illness that drives people, particularly young adults, to self medicate.

And, amen in the choir loft (which looks also like a peanut gallery) to Yoki and others who remind us of the fragility of it all. And LUCK. Luck. Luck. May we have it. But mostly, may we not blame others when fate is cruel and heavy handed.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, bad. Thank you, CqP. Amen amen amen amen.

There but for the grace of god go you or I. It could have happened to any of us. Possibly it did. It is delusional to think that as a parent you actually have control over what happens to your kids. It is delusional to think that it only happens to "bad" kids, or to "bad" parents, or to certain income brackets, or certain races, or certain neighborhoods, to people who are (or aren't) religious, or super-religious, or only mildly religious (the religion connection really fries my butt the most; if you make them go to church they'll never do drugs or have sex).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that I think it matters SOME, maybe even A LOT, who the parents are, and what they are like. The problem is magical thinking, imagining that following some particular protocol will guarantee an impenetrable shield around your children, or doing some other thing (that *I* would never do) is like introducing your kids to the neighborhood heroin dealer and buying their smack for them (which *I* would never do -- I'm just not good at that sort of stuff). You can protect them fiercely and it may be the worst thing you could have done; you could be the lousiest parent on Earth, and they might turn out all right. Probability favors the children of the good and attentive parents, but there's only two guarantees in life, and only one of them is taxes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The emotional vulnerability of the kids was a running theme in the article? But what teenagers aren't? Or not far from being so? I found it odd that the article talked about the kids going from heroin to other drugs. I thought pot was the gateway drug that led to heroin, not vice versa.

I just gotta think that heroin must be pretty dang good for so many people to want to go through the trouble and effort. For me, heroin is like golf. I can't afford the time and money that lifestyle would require, so I just stay away.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, one reason I remain Catholic is that penance is an aknowledgement that bad things happen. That we do bad things. That all of us fail, lapse, slip, error, muck up, is human. Penance, ya know, that time in the box on my knees speaking with another human being about my sorrow, my grievous fault, and my sincere hope to do better....well, it works for me.


And, for those who think that faith life is mostly about prevention of badness. Well. Not true. Jesus did not live in a gated community with the beautiful and blessed people. Faith life is about love. And helping each other bring down the better angels of our character. Why? Love asks us and seduces us into this.

For parents -- whatever they did or did not do -- god bless and comfort those whose children find themselves in a dark wood. There is no greater anguish than lost children.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

YJ -- the heroin availability there seems to be a most horrific gateway. As Sneaks says, alcohol is for some a dark and menacing and seductive threshold; the rub is that most children and adults manage alcohol. You do not know if you are in the chosen 10 percent. Family history is one clue but not definitive. But heroin could make a prostitute of me within say six months. Such is that glamor: an orSPASMIC fire ignited in the pleasure center. Any of us would trade nearly anything with those molecules on board.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Famous pants-manufacturer and anthropologist drops dead at the century mark! Film at 11:

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Slaw Blogging.

When I turn my email on my computer says, "Welcome, you got mayo."

Brag :)

Posted by: Braguine | November 3, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

More respectfully to M. Lévi-Strauss: I didn't know much about him, other than that he cast a shadow across all of social anthropology (as I perceived it in undergraduate anthropology classes) so pervasive that its edges were not apparent, and thus no single region could be pointed to and declared "THAT is the quintessence of Lévi-Strauss." Now that I have read his obituary, I think I have a better idea why that is so.

In my own field of physics, we take it for granted that mathematics is the proper framework in which to manipulate concepts and test ideas. It forms our fundamental professional language, even for those of us, like me, prone to writing equation-free papers. Without mathematics, we might still have arithmetic, enough to make comparisons and compute useful things like speed, but we would have no conception of acceleration or torque or the integration of forces over time or distance, or the differential properties of phenomena that continuously vary over time. Without that under-pinning of mathematics, we would be wandering the ruins of Babel, unable to communicate coherently. Rarely is this language brought up for examination, the most famous example being Eugene Wigner's 1960 article on "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences"

Lévi-Strauss' contribution appears to be the formulation of a language in which social or ethno-anthropology can be discussed, debated, tested. Within that language, he proposed theories and made arguments. Odds are, most of those theories and ideas are painfully wrong and sadly biased by his own ethnicity (although I respect his insistence on objectively referring to "savage" cultures as "people without writing"). Being proven wrong is the stuff of science, it's how it works. The critical point is that he demonstrated that Theories (as we scientists mean the word) could be formulated, rather than mere theories, which are trivial speculation. Observing the equivalent-of-arithmetic of antecedent anthropology, he formulated the equivalent-of-mathematics of anthropology as an investigation of the commonality of the human mind, rather than the amusing quirks of primitives. That seems like a pretty fair accomplishment for a life's work.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

tanka, scTim for that thoughtful post. Off by bike in the sun (oh praise be for light in November) to listen to the compositional confessions of student A and student Z....carry on, slowly and magnificently, oh boodle-boon-panions.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

For the record, when I desired an examination of the parents of the kids, I wasn't implying that many answers would be found there. However, to suggest that milieu has no bearing whatever on this would be a lie, and parents with their backgrounds and baggages are part of that milieu.

Bad sneaks, heroin is not considered one of the most addictive drugs, and on several yardsticks. Addiction as craving is developed slowly, ease of quitting is ranked better than tobacco, speed of craving development is probably highest in crack cocaine, death from withdrawal is higher in many other drugs such as Valium for example.

My own theory is there might be a gene or genetic component for opiate addiction. As a kid I got "hooked" on morphine when in the hospital for severe burns. (I had craving but no withdrawal symptoms, and that was the end of it) Yet years later, various opiates such as codeine do nothing for me. There is no "high" in it for me.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Romanesko quotes Weingarten as saying that he is in favor of more newsroom brawls.

And here is at least one nominee for worst Style section article ever.

And, yes, it is by Sally Quinn.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

To add to Jumper's experience. I got adicted to morphine in hospital. Had no craving for it, but terrible pain for about ten minutes at 5 pm, the time for my injection while in the hospital. This lasted for about a month.


Posted by: Braguine | November 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I have frequently heard that kicking nicotine is harder than heroin withdrawal. Since I don't have any experience with either, I'll defer to the experts.

One school of thought recently is that the best maintenance drug for heroin addicts is heroin. The public safety key is to keep them from having to share needles or to commit crimes to support their habit.

I have always said that if heroin increased worker productivity companies would have free needles right next to the coffee pots. (Although gummint workers would probably have to pitch in for their share.)

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, I've got a little backBoodling to do now that I'm back from a round of medical tests. That one tech operating the scanner sure was puzzled when I was done:


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 3, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Tim and jumper, I want to insist strongly that family, parents and milieu may be a factor but only a "negative" factor if something there is demonstrably "wrong," not working, dysfuntional, etc. Sure, if the parents are a mess then sure, the kids may very well be too. But my point, which I cannot stress too highly, is that it is perfectly possible for two parents to do "everything" right in every imaginable way, to be spotless in every regard, and STILL have kids who one way or another wind up in trouble. As CqP said quite rightly, there is still a major, major element of luck, luck, luck involved.

And so any attempt to inquire what the parents might or might not have done simply starts people down the wrong path of suspicion; it is a red herring.

It is beyond argument or discussion that the single most influential factor that weighs upon teenagers is the peer group and their socil mileu and environment, NOT what happens in the home. Parents don't ever want to admit it, and so there is tremendous denial, but once the kids hit puberty, luck and their peer group have a helluva lot more influence on them than you do, and very few parents can bring themselves to admit it. It is nigh onto impossible for people to admit they are powerless and "impotent" (and that is itself such a strong and imposingly negative word), but it is true.

CqP, I understand about your religious ideas, and respectt them; that wasn't what I was referring to. I was referring to the notion of some parents that all they have to do is send their kids to church and make them hang out with church kids (or band members) and all will be well, because after all, those are some sort of "better" kinds of people.

In point of fact, we all know damn well that a lot of kids specificallty rebel and run away from super-strict religious families, that the preacher's kid is no better than anyone else, and is just as likely to get in triouble as any other kid. Religion offers no a priori protection and no special sanctity to anyone.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

FYI, I take as my text for the preceding sermon this book, "The Nurture Assumption," and the author's Web site,

When this book first came out I did a long article/book review/interview on it, and interviewed her at some length.

(So I'm admittedly a devotee of hers and am basically regurgitating her messages.)

(For whatever that's worth.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

In my experience preacher's kids are usually worse.

My professional life is full of kids who had good parents but made stunningly bad choices. I try to be a good model to the Boy and give him good advice, but increasingly I also try to encourage some of his friendships more than others. So far, to my great relief, he has concluded on his own that he isn't as interested in some of the guys I'd just as soon he avoid. In fact, he can deliver a much harsher judgment than I.

I never felt any pressure to try drugs, even though most of my friends happily partook. I tell the Boy to stay away from them, but I particularly emphasize the most addictive ones. Around here, methamphetamine is the omnipresent danger. You can't experiment with it: once and you're doomed. Also, there is just nothing good about it. The rush of energy is quickly overwhelmed by anger and paranoia and its physical effects are rapid and scary. I've been very clear about this, with examples. Thanks to my job, I've got lots of these.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 3, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

And no, no opiates were involved in my tests, TYVM... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 3, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The rental company used to send some doozies to rent the apartment next to mine. (That's why I persuaded a friend to move in when it was vacated, a strategy I'm glad I employed.)

That's how I came to be talking to one guy, actually a nice kid, who told me his father had taught him how to make crack cocaine. That was his dad's idea of passing along a trade. The kid's in prison now, I heard, from his sister-in-law,the meth addict.

I guess the radiation didn't help that man in the moon marigold.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Gamma rays!

Maybe those poor kids need more grandma waves?

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I blame geography. Psilocyb quebecensis was growing wild in the big river valley that was just a few miles up the road from my teenage year's house. I'm all for free stuff.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 3, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Immediately after reading Caitlin's story, I went to a meeting where one of my friends talked about having gone to Tanzania this summer with her son, daughter, and her daughter's friend to work in a small house school for a couple of weeks.

The background is that the daughter, now 17, saw the Oprah show where she talked about starting a school in Africa. She and her friend decided to start a club and raised the money to provide tuition for a young man for his secondary education. As a result, the two girls wanted to go see for themselves. They had a wonderful time, made lots of friends, and made a difference in the life of those they touched.

Yes, there is "luck" involved in kids going straight, but luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. Strong connections in a sane, loving village, coupled with clear expectations, will incline most kids to make decent decisions.

Posted by: slyness | November 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

WaPo home page says Caitlin's article is no. 1 most viewed article. Cool.

Funny bit from Paul Farhi chat:

Reston, Va.: Just one word for you Paul...


Crazy WaPo writers...

tsk, tsk.

Paul Farhi: I cannot condone workplace violence. I must say officially that this was an unfortunate explosion of anger and failure of self control. But, man. I was there. And it was really exciting!

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

GeneW has a long, thoughful piece about the fisticuffs in his chat update:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 3, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Also from Farhi, another question answered: "For the record: The story being referred to as "the worst ever" in Style history was one that was never published. It was a profile of Paul Robeson. I've never seen bootleg copies of it, but sure would like to now."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Now Jazz Band is a different animal altogether from Marching Band. On one music department trip I was put in charge of a room full of drummers and guitarists. The patchouli smell from their room was overwhelming. And they stumbled down to breakfast every morning like Spicolli rolling out of his van.

I still say Magic: The Gathering is the answer. Nobody can keep track of the rules of that game stone cold straight, let alone on any foreign substance stronger than Bawls.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, sometimes one kid winds up screwed up, and the other kid is a great doctor, upstanding citizen, etc.-- and they both came from the same family.

Good parenting can do a lot, but can't overcome the hardwiring of the brain, especially during adolescence when so many kids worsen their impulsive and self-willed natures beyond imagination. It is the age where they turn outwards, to begin to separate their identities.

I don't think there's a real recipe for parenting the hard kids when hard stuff happens. Luck is in the timing, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 3, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the suburbs, and new many kids who used the laundry list of drugs, one friends brother addicted to heroin. It was a middle class neighbourhood, drug use ranged from pot, to acid, cocaine etc. Had friends who used uppers to stay awake to study to maintain their good grade point averages.

Already I know some of my daughters friends who drink/smoke pot, it has been mentioned that at least two classmates have had their stomachs pumped due to over drinking (Age 14).

As I recall from that age the sense of invincibility is strong.

I am sure there is no one factor that leads to why some kids drink/do drugs, our best hope for our kids is to be honest with them, to talk to them, try not to be judgemental and teach them not make the right decisions.

After I read Caitlans piece it will be emailed to eldest.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 3, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

And then there's the invincibility of youth:

I watched a DVD of Bill Hicks recently, where he rails against the criminalization of pot, especially when alcohol is legal. I don't know what the answers are - I know a great deal of luck kept me from disaster as a teenager and young adult.

One of the best books I have read about addiction is Night of the Gun by David Carr - recommended by kbertocci. It's a devastating account.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 3, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"Gramma waves" I like a lot.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Utterly OT, but I'd like to shill for a film that I think everyone should see, "An Education." Here's the WaPo review, which is spot on-

We saw it over the weekend and were mightily impressed. The young actress in the lead, Carey Mulligan, has talent, presence, charisma in spades (think Hepburn, Audrey not Katherine), and she is backed by an excellent cast. The only downside to the experience was the fact that the theater was not filled with young people, who would benefit greatly from seeing this, nor was it filled with anyone else, which situation I would like to remedy. The film is PG-13, and although it deals with a sexual relationship, has no nudity, not even any simulated intercourse, no violence, and of course no 'splosions, no fireballs, and no slashers, although it does have lots of 60's era cigarette smoking and one very cool classic car- mid 50's Bristol 2 litre saloon. Kurosawaguy Rating: Four Shiruken (ninja stars).

Posted by: kguy1 | November 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link to the Weingarten update, seasea. That certainly was a well-written (and typically Weingartian) piece, which I liked a lot, all except the last three grafs (which I hated and he should never have put in) about Sally Quinn. Except for the ending, that was Weingarten at his best.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It's impossible to OD on weed. 'nuff said.

In a recent Degrassi episode they had to really reach to come up with a plausible Afterschool Special scenario about the dangers of pot. The cute blond goody-goody took to dope something fierce and brought a batch of special ingredient brownies to a student government workshop. Another girl got so stoned on them that she forgot to take her insulin and went into diabetic shock.

I guess it could happen, but that sure beats ending up comatose at an intersection in the bad part of Baltimore (which is only mildly redundant) because you needed some smack that bad.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a movie I'd enjoy, kguy, thanks for the review.

I don't like Sally Quinn much, as a personality. I guess she's ok as a writer, but I don't remember much of what she's written. I didn't think the piece that Gene identified as the worst is that bad, but I can see why he wouldn't like it. Her son has written a book about his learning problems, and it really humanized her for me. She did everything she could to help him, and he has an endearing way of appreciating her and loving her, but also calling her out for being over the top at times.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 3, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"Mudge, sometimes one kid winds up screwed up, and the other kid is a great doctor, upstanding citizen, etc.-- and they both came from the same family."

Absolutely spot on, Wilbrod. Which is why the whole question of parents disturbs me so much.

I just thought of two analogies. It would help, I think, to look at the question of parents' role and relationship in two ways. both having to do with commonly understood and accepted aspects of criminal law.

First, we have the concept of "probable cause." If a car is driving down the street, and there is no special appearance of anything wrong, a policeman has no probably cause to stop the car and search it. If you are walking down the street minding your own business, a policeman has no probable cause to stop you and frisk you. A policeman cannot enter your home and search it just because he feels like it. We all have a general grasp of the notion of probable cause.

Well, when a kid gets in some sort of trouble (drugs, gets knocked up or does the knocking, whatever), unless there is some overt piece of evidence, none of us has any general [probable cause to ask ourselves, "Hmmm, I wonder what the parents had to do with that incident." There is no reason to believe the parent had anything to do with it. (Yes, we may find out later.) But up front and absent evidence, we have no reason to speculate, any more than we have reason to speculate what particular crime that guy walking down the street may have committed, not only absent any evidence, but in fact *because* he looks like a normal, everyday average person.

Which brings us to the second analogy, the presumption of innocence. Granted, we may pay some lip service to it, but in general we hold it to be operational in a court of law. I would therefore assert that if Johnny Doe gets busted for this or that offense, it is HIS PARENTS who automatically deserve the presumption of innocence in having any influence or awareness.

And I would assert that the presumption of innocence is abbrogated if we idly speculate that, well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, or isn't it too bad the parents didn't bring that kid up better, or they should have told her about drugs, or I'll bet her parents weren't monitoring her behavior or her friends, or too bad they couldn't control him/her.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I agree. I recall that piece by Sally Quinn. Style routinely ran first person soliloquies that bordered on confessional. I thought it a bit winceworthy, as in this: better as a conversation between friends or in a memoir. Venue matters; a paper is a paper. But, I think Gene W. is wrong about the piece's unworthiness as a piece of writing. And, a bit cloddish of Gene to write this. This is the WWWEB?!!!!!

Sigh. No restraint, even amongst those trained personally and professionally to consider the honor of NOT.

Gene is talented and funny and provocative and kind and curmudgeonly, etc. But, I am glad that I am not in his orbit....don't need that occasional veering off into the needle-zone.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Given our heroin commentary, please do not think I link GW with heroin. I mean to invoke being needled or ribbed unmercifully. Again, with the newsroom and the web -- what might happen between colleagues now does not stay in the cubical goes LIVE. FOREVER.

Sheesh. Shall we learn the value of silence again under these strange days?

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it somewhat ironic that the Post has a discussion today entitled "Jobs: Dealing with conflicts at work" ?

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 3, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hi RickieOshea. Occurs to me that this problem is broader than newsroom. Writers plumb what they know to write. This means that they may tread upon boundaries when writing. I recently read a piece by an acquaintance. Was suprised to find thinly veiled details of my life circa 1991. Winced, I did. Found that I was likely hidden in obfuscatory details. But still, writers need to be careful. Remember the FBI series: The story you have just seen is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Um, uh, diabetics go into shock from taking too much insulin and/or not eating enough. so nope, it couldn't happen.

But the only reason i mention this is that I have kids going to school and want to opt them out of the anti-drug education classes. Why? Because I think those "educational" classes on drugs actually prime kids curiosity about them and thus has the effect of creating a demand. Also, getting kids aquainted with the aspects of drug use further serves to make them more comfortable with the notion of doing them. Fear is most prominent of what we don't know and keeps many from experimenting. And lastly, the production of those real life scenarios are many times just plain stupid and the kids know it, and after watching some of the crap, the kids lose respect for the authority for having pushed the propaganda on them.

Though I should mention, when I went through the school sponsered anti-drug classes back in the day, the birth defect pictures of babies being born with penises protruding from their heads was quite a deterrent from LSD experimentation. Not that it stopped me from having kids...

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Caitlan's article was excellent.

This is for CP, re Charticle. See point 4

Posted by: dmd3 | November 3, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten has more than enough experience, writing and otherwise, to know exactly what he's doing, to point out how he felt much of her other work was top-notch, and he implicitly invited Quinn to respond to his criticism.

And he's spot-on about the column -- I see it as a forerunner of the dreck Quinn's currently splattering all over the "On Faith" section.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 3, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I started reading the Quinn piece and got quickly bored.

My main objection to Weingarten mentioning it at all is this: he wrote a pretty neat, funny, interesting essay and was perking right along nicely. It was about Allen and Roigm and newspapers, and lementing the decline of the business, and passion. All great stuff. And he should have stopped. Then he turns it into: me, me, me. It was *his* nominee for worst article, not Allen's. It became about him and Sally, who was minding her own business (and wasn't even guilty of having written the worst piece, at least in Allen's view). And then it got mean-spirited, and invited her (having been inapporpriately attacked) to punch him back. But I didn't want to read about a cat fight between Gene and Sally. I was happy with the stuff about passion and newspapers and two excellent writers, yadda yadda.

Ya have to know when to stop writing. (Tom the Butcher would have cut those three grafs. Gene himself would have cut them -- if he'd had a day or two to think about it. But he didn't. The moral of the story, as I've preached about a thousand times, is that no one can self-edit. No one. It is one major reason why the quality of so much Internet stuff sucks.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

1. I really liked GW's earlier piece that he links within his piece on the dust-up.

2. Sally Quinn's son is named Quinn??

3. "You decide" is just slightly better than "Only time will tell" for bad endings.

4. re drugs. There but for the grace of God go I. If cool groups with self-destructive behaviours were better at reaching out for new members it would be an even larger problem.

5. back to fighting at work. It is an old school male fantasy that you can have a fistfight, shake hands, and all's good. I appreciate that sometimes it does bring things to a head and can actually assist in resolution. However, most times not. More common is a new ranking within the tribe. So overall, I say shame on GW for waxing nostalgic about flights of "passion".

Posted by: engelmann | November 3, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

blessed be slow blogs
not bogged by bloggerel
(pardon the french 'dog)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 3, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The Sally Quinn labyrinth story is simply execrable. It veers from the reportorial to the first person and back again. It repeats stuff. It has sentence after sentence of clunky transitions. It really wouldn't pass muster in a high school creative writing class. Who did she have to sleep with to get that job, anyways?

In defense of labyrinths, walking them is a major plot point and metaphor in Zelazny's Shadows of Amber series.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

In my fistfighting experience, the janitor comes bursting into the restroom and everybody tries their best to look casual while tucking in their shirts and heading back to class. Nothing is resolved.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 3, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Ah, behold the reason of engelmann (RoE) and the haiku-elegence (H-E) of DNA-g.

Off by bike where I think of Frosti when driving over a bridge that features wild rice at the far side footings.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 3, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Man, if you can't trust the writers of Degrassi:TNG for factual medical information, who can you trust?

I guess pot *is* the safest mind altering substance in the world. Just not the most beneficial to your waistline. Which is why Secret Ingredient Brownies is such a genius recipe.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I think what probably most bothered Gene was all the credulous direct reporting of the soft-head woo-woo Twilight Zone aspects of the piece, with the lady hearing voices and mysterious beams of light appearing in digital photos; there may have been more, but I gave up when I got to the mysterious beam and Sally relying upon her authority as a trustworthy voice in pronouncing a judgment that this was a mysterious event but absolutely accurately reported and interpreted by her. This sort of dippy first-person "spiritual" persuasive speech may belong in something like Reader's Digest, perhaps, but not in a serious fact-based news journal like the Washington Post.

Lesser storytellers use a similar weak technique in telling ghost stories. The ghost-teller will open up with a very serious declaration that this is an absolutely true story that really happened to the teller -- which means that either I recognize the teller for a liar (rather than a teller of interesting fiction), or I have to be willfully gullible. A good teller will either not make such a demand, or make the demand and then consciously subvert its terms for humor value as an unreliable narrator. Taken on its face, it's an unpleasant pill to swallow. The teller tells some patently false story in which I am more or less directly told that there is an actual demonstrable ghost. The problem is that we have a contract -- I extend my suspension of disbelief, and the teller tries to be sufficiently plausible that I can enjoy the story without picking at its premises. However, the teller has broken the contract by making the story work only if I am gullible enough to accept it without examination. If I am gullible, then the story works; but the teller has demanded that I accept his or her authority, instead of persuading me. *That* is what that Sally Quinn essay does wrong. I think. There may have been other stuff.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Just so that it doesn't pass without having been commented upon, I note a connection between Caitlin's story and the hard-working farmers of Helmand province, whose livelihood God forbid we interfere with.

Posted by: engelmann | November 3, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

In a way you guys are proving my point. Weingarten's mistake was to turn a fine essay about Allen and Roig into a discussion of the flaws of Sally's piece. So what are you guys all talking about? How bad Sally's piece was. And you're all quite correct. But you aren't talking about Allen and Roig and the decline of journalism, and passion.

Jeez. No football on TV tonight. No baseball. What's a man gonna do? Anybody seen "Australia" with Shirtless Guy and Whatshername? Any good? It's on HBO. I might have to watch that.

Thank goodness I've got a big stash of Tivo'd stuff. Got about six "Lie to Mes" I haven't seen, a couple of "Mentals." And there's always Stewart, Olberman and Maddow. But I don't wanna hear any Virginia election results, so I better just stick with Tim Roth and a couple of Bones reruns. (Ya know, "Bones" has a couple of real babes on it. [N.B.: And they're all smart. Really smart.] And the writing is pretty good. Quirky and funny.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I think it's important to note that no two children are parented the same, even if they're twins. Generally, this is good, in that said children are actually individuals. But the idea of one child being a meth-head and the other being a doctor could very well be an indication of parenting style with one child, missteps with the other. But I don't think the article provided information that allows anyone to point a finger and say there it is, that's what went wrong here, or, conversely, to say it's not something the parents could have addressed. (My guess is you're never going to convince those parents that something they did or didn't do played a role.)

I'd venture out on a limb here and guess that some need wasn't met. Whether it was a normal teenage need, or an emotional need specific to that child, there's no telling. Who knows, maybe it was rooted in something that happened in grammar school that seemed trivial to everyone except that child. Since the kid wasn't wearing a flashing neon sign that said "I need help" the fact that the parents now say they missed signs (hindsight having 20/20 vision) doesn't make them bad people.

It's not like they give you a manual to go with that baby before you leave the hospital.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 3, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Whacky's pointed out one of the inanities of the Drug War: lying to kids. They justify the lies by saying it'll help keep kids off drugs. Then the kids find out they are lying and all hell breaks loose.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 3, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I hated to appear 'soft', but I had to contradict some of the wilder things my kid repeated from his DARE training. It was nearly as bad as how traumatized he was from the church's sex-ed class.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The fact is, the anti-drug message and education is deeply from one end to the other, top, bottom and middle. The messengers aren't credible, the message itself is just short of nonsense. It is full of lies and distortions, it is sanctimonious. It treats all drugs essentially as equal, both in effect and various aspects of badness. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's horses---. Why do we have any expectation whatsoever that it will work, or is even useful or valid?

It's a joke.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, October is over; happy days are numbered.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 3, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

And check out panel 3 of this Sinfest:


Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Down boy!

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 3, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Uh, panel 3, not panel 11. I'm just not into succubi. Much.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, first of all, Mudge, you can always watch SYTYCD tonight for two straight hours (which is mainly a dance or two now and then before what seems to be 2 straight hours of commercials).

Got terrific news today. My "adopted" Zambian brother is coming over for a meeting downtown in a couple of weeks. He can only stay for three nights, but we'll make the most of it. I was even able to talk with his 2 year old son today, who is simply adorable (in between terrible-twos tantrums). I can hardly wait to see him. He's promised to bring me rice (which is grown in Zambia) and I think a cookbook (which I collect -- don't care what language it's in, but I suspect this one will be in English). He brought me a very modern oil painting last time, which was painted by a friend of his in South Africa. I do like modern and expressionist art, so that was a *very* good choice on his part. I am so excited to see him.

This weekend will be *getting rid of as much clutter as possible* weekend. Hmmm. We'll see. . . . .

Posted by: -ftb- | November 3, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I could have a 'getting rid of clutter' day every week and it would still accumulate, even though I am a tidy person. Something to do with entropy, I think.

I must say, I very enjoyed the Kit and Boodle today. It showed all our strengths. And were we on topic? My, yes. Joel should be impressed.

I also liked the slow blogging article. We're the experts!

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Hank Stuever says V and the Obama campaign documentary mesh nicely:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 3, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

But does Obama eat live mice?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh, man! Was I glad to see that Hank Stuever has a regular beat again. I think he's an awesome and very funny writer, and comes across as himself in everything he writes. A stylist, but personal, somehow. Granted, he's no Joel Achenbach, but he's fine as he is.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Just a word of warning to any college-aged kids who might be interested in a summer-internship or co-op with any of the many government organizations that require any kind of clearance. Doing anything, including MaryGeeWanna, within the previous 12 months is a deal breaker. A foolish policy? Perhaps. But that's the way it is.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

RD_Padouk just spoke a couple of words. And I did not understand any of them.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Anyone watching this "V" thing?

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 3, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

RD, the fire department with which I am familiar has a similar prohibition, and I believe it's pretty standard for fire service organizations across North America. The danger and liability are simply too great for those who are providing emergency services.

Shortly before I retired, the hazmat coordinator and I visited one of Jack's classes and discussed the hiring requirements and procedures. The kids were dumbfounded by the rules on no drug use.

Posted by: slyness | November 3, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching it, Maggie.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 3, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

"Your talking about universal health care."


Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Now this is just sooo kewl:

Posted by: slyness | November 3, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, ooh, this is getting craptastic.

SCC: Your, nyet. You're, dah.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 3, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Nope. I am showing a little self-control and keeping away from V as way to not be such a total geek all the time. Instead, I am watching The IT Crowd on my Roku.

I think I'm in the clear for that internship. I have always think back to when I last went to a family event with my 65-year-old hippie uncle.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Broooce works with food banks at most of his tour stops. He's a little more grass roots than some grandstanding Irish rockstars I can think of.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 3, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Da, rickoshea. And I'm not even watching.

Favourite macaronic Russian word from the post-Iron-Curtain universe of 1996: busyiness-menye.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"They're arming themselves with the most powerful weapon.....delusion."

Take away the scifi, and you've got a classic morality play.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 3, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

OK, methinks that was my last episode of V. Back to "Bones."

ftb, I don't think I could bring myself to watch SYTYCDFDYHMPDLWX even for one one-hour episode. Sorry. I don't have anything against acronym shows; I'll watch the occasional NCIS, CSI, and a lot of SNL. Several NFL shows, of course, and an MLB once in a while. (No NBA, though, and very little NASCAR and god forbid no WWF whatsoever under any circumstances. No PGA.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 3, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize that bit about fire departments, slyness. Thanks.

Why in the name of all things SciFi, would anyone redo "V"? It was such a perfectly campy relic of the 1980s. I mean, Robert Eglund as a sentient lizard is pretty hard to beat.

I guess the producers figured if someone could squeeze new money from "Battlestar Gallactica," they could do it with this.


Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 3, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Finally read Caitlin's article, and thought it was quite well done - hearbreaking and thoughtful and unflinching and thorough. [Looking forward to reading the rest of it, Ms. Gibson!]

A few thoughts on parenting -- I am one, currenly engaged and therefore have no useful or thoughtful opinions on the matter beyond my family and friends.

I am human and frequently make mistakes as a parent. I'm proud of my kids and love them and I think they love me, even when we make each other crazy. And sometimes luck - good and bad - plays a bigger role in how our individual children grow and mature than I'd care to admit.

I'm glad to show my kids how to do things "right," but I'm even happier when I can show them how to work with - and be flexible in - situations when things go wrong. Plans Gone Awry *is* a sort of specialty of mine - or at least something I'm very familiar with.

Oy, I saw "V" the first time around, not sure I want to see that again. Of course, I thought that about the recent Battlestar Galactica at the beginning, too. Time will tell.


Posted by: -bc- | November 3, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

When was the last time you noticed an original idea from, like, Hollywood? 1957.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Oops. 1984. The Terminator. I apologize.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Most of the jobs I apply to have pre-employment drug testing. Not that I have gotten that far yet. I wonder what I said when I got my security clearance eons ago...or if they asked about drug use. I was pretty surprised when it went through, given that I was one of those anti-war hippies. You'd think I would have aroused suspicions.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 3, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

seasea1 I think the straight kids aroused more suspicion in those days. What are you hiding?

It is sort of like the GWB days; devilishly clever of you to cover your subversive activities. The more innocent you act, the more guilty we know you are.


Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

According to NPR it's a barnburner in NY's 23rd tonight. I smell recount.
I suppose I could climb the TV tower and take a look but it's pretty dark and wet and very slippery.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 3, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Please don't. I'd hate to think of you stuck and shaking.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Drug education when I was in high school was an absolute joke. I chose to continue my geeky ways, even when offered an alternative, for my own reasons.

I recall reading that it has been known for a long time that DARE has absolutely no positive effect on drug-use outcomes. I suspect that schools continue to permit it, solely so that they won't be accused of failing in their duty. Even though a reliance upon DARE is, in fact, a failure to fulfill one's duty.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 3, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Compare and contrast to Abstinence Education.

Posted by: Yoki | November 3, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Amazing article, Caitlin. This problem has been above the radar in articles like yours for a couple of years. Our county tends to run a year or two behind any national trend, but I feel sure that the same phenomenon is lurking. Right now, alcohol and reefer abounds, and for the money, provides a longer high than opiates. The trouble is that representatives of national gangs have gained a toehold here. All that remains to be done, is to create a market.

Posted by: -jack- | November 3, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I never understood DARE. Why do we have extra budget to pay policemen to come and talk to students?
Aren't they on the payroll anyway?
Very small chance there is crime going on durning school hours.

Posted by: bh72 | November 4, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I guess I am a seriously idiotic Canadian. Sorry sorry. I don't know what DARE is, but it sounds terribly stupid.

Posted by: Yoki | November 4, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Boko! Don't. It's wet and cold. The results will be the same in the morrow.

I'm with Yoki, I don't know what the heck DARE is but it doesn't sound like a good idea.
The "war on drugs" is so lame, it's a war on your own people. It's amazing that some local politicos (of the conservative, reform flavour persuasion) want to mimick its worst elements up here.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 5:25 AM | Report abuse

Boko! Don't. It's wet and cold. The results will be the same in the morrow.

I'm with Yoki, I don't know what the heck DARE is but it doesn't sound like a good idea.
The "war on drugs" is so lame, it's a war on your own people. It's amazing that some local politicos (of the conservative, reform flavour persuasion) want to mimick its worst elements up here.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 5:31 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 5:32 AM | Report abuse


It's a make-work program that lets semi-retired cops hang around schools and give the occasional scare talk to school kids while passing around confiscated drug paraphernalia.

They have a really cool logo with red letters on a black tee shirt. Since they give away a lot of these, they are very popular with drug dealers that need free clothes.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 5:57 AM | Report abuse

The Conservative Party dude backed up by the wingbat non-intelligentia lost to the Democrat in a Republican district. It talks about the saneness of the American voter.

Is he the first African-American psycho/basement burying/serial killer? Equality at last!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, ye Boodlers

After his rah, rah piece on the U.S. military in Afghanistan, David Ignatious has recovered to his usually realistic stance this morning--worth reading.

Brag rolling for takeoff.

Posted by: Braguine | November 4, 2009 6:41 AM | Report abuse

Brag, oh Brag! Did you have your scrambled eggs, bacon, and blueberry muffin before you left? I don't want there to be any leftovers!

Morning, all. Breakfast is on the ready room table, help yourselves.

In this jurisdiction, DARE was a casualty of budget cuts several years ago. Thirddottir's husband was the DARE officer at her school, that's how they met. After the program went away, he went back on patrol on third shift. He finally got back on first shift and this school year is a resource officer at a middle school. Working with kids is his joy and passion, and he's good at it. It's nice to have him around on weekends, too.

Posted by: slyness | November 4, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Here's the rest of Caitlin's reportage:

And 'Mudge, I guess I failed to properly link creeping mediocrity in today's newspapers to Quinn. I saw the link Weingarten was making, anyway...

*fighting-a-headache-but-gonna-stick-to-the-program-anyway Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

And in the Magical Thinking Dept:


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

DARE is taught in Grade 6 in my S. Ontario school system, my daughter took it quite seriously at the time, again in Grade 9 she had more drug education in Health/Gym - some of the information she found scary and informative.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 4, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

So, the reactionary loon won in Virginia. It is hardly a referendum on Obama to say that after a brief moment of sanity, the voters who voted for Obama returned to their usual habits of voting for guys who claim that they will lower their taxes and reduce the size of government while not putting anyone out of work or reducing any of the government services that they most love. Wishful thinking and pandering sell well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 4, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I should add that here the DARE program is a multi-week course of study, with a Graduaction ceremony at the end, we raise funds for it every year. Looking around at the other Grade 9 students in my daughter school and her friends school the success of the program might be questioned.

Perhaps more effective might be peer role models, recoverying drug and alcohol teens/young adults, those who hurt/killed others while driving under the influence etc.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 4, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

@ slyness,

Munch, munch, slurp. Yumm, yum. Perfect breakfast after the patrol.

thank you (burp)


Posted by: Braguine | November 4, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Slyness, hope your choice for Mayor won.

As for Virginia, I am stunned by the redness that was spread all over the state map last night. You are correct, Tim; government services like health and human services will probably be on the budget chopping block and all of us aging parents of the disabled dare not die for fear of what will happen to them without ever present vigiliance

I know this sounds harsh, but harsh is how I feel.

Also agree that Deeds & Company lost the race, Obama did not contribute.

It is sometimes merciful that we elect governors for one consecutive term only. One term may be a harsh four years.

Harsh is my word of the day. *sigh*

Posted by: VintageLady | November 4, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Warning on the Heroin Part 2 story: You will cry.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Scotty, will now read "the rest of the story".

Stunned by the first half, so much pain. You all are right, it takes so much courage just to let go of your children for a little while.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 4, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

The 'cafe' to find your great whites at:

Talk about a meat market!

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The rest of the story is very powerful, read it after my post, and noted that Anna thought Peer role models might have helped her. Sad story.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 4, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

T1's experience with drug education through school (a decade ago) was educational about the physical aspects, but not about the handling of the situations. The 'just say no' idea didn't really work for him at that age. No because I've got a term paper to work on and I'm going to need my head. No because I'm on the swim team and there's random drug testing. No because my mother's got eyes in the back of her head. No because I've got the hots for Girl A (or B, or C) and she's not into that. No I get too paranoid. No I think I'm coming down with a cold and don't want to spread that around. No because I'm halfway to a used car and my parents will back out of supporting that. T2's response was 'and pollute this fabulous body? I don't think so.'

They need the tools for the world they inhabit, not the one we grew up in.

Two totally unrelated thoughts....the neighbor with his leaf blower is at it again. I think at this point, he's trying to get all the grass to lean in the same direction. The other unrelated thought...a friend referred to my new glasses as serial killer glasses; I think I might need to go buy something different.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 4, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I'd try staring at Leaf Blower Man with the SKG for awhile, LiT... He might get the hint.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

The person I voted for did indeed get elected mayor, VintageLady. That's the first time that has happened in at least a generation. Yep, not since Harvey Gantt was mayor.

Glad there was some breakfast left for you, Brag. I was a bit worried about that. You know how Scotty and bc are, around warm food.

Now, off to read part 2. I'll get a tissue first.

Posted by: slyness | November 4, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Resource officers are a great idea. Every school should have one. The DARE program around here became a dumping ground for pre-retirement cops that had spent too much time at the donut shop. They tended to hide in the DARE office most of the day drinking coffee shooting the breeze with each other.

The Scare-The-Kids and Teach-Them-A-Few-Slogan method works on the elementary schoolers, but teenagers are more sophisticated and know a snowjob when they hear one (cross reference Abstinence Education).

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all! To my dear fellow Boodlers from Virginia, you have my *profound* condolences. But do be optimistic, as in four years, there will still be a traffic mess in NoVa. As for the "social" aspects of McDonnell and his fellow cretins, I predict that anyone caught selling (not to mention *using*) wire hangers, will be "hanged" until dead.

And for anyone not up to date on what wire hangers have been used for (and not for hanging up clothes), use your imagination.

I guess I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed. Perhaps it had to do with voter turnout, which is never as large as it is for presidential elections. *sigh*

Got a lot on my plate today (hope there's hot sauce to go with), so I bid thee adieu. Scotty, take that headache off your mind, already! *faxing karma to Snuke-ums*

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

From the Socialist Republic of Merlin, I send my condolences to all my Old Virginny brothers and sisters. As consolation, remember that McDonnell cannot single-handedly repeal Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, and Loving v. Virginia, as much as he would like to.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I thought that was Griswold v. Wally World...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

@FakeAPStylebook has more followers than the real one.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

New Kit! (and, *ahem*, I'm already first). But go getcherselves over there.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

There is one character in one of the three books--and the only fictional work-- I bought at the Texas Book Festival who is drug-addled. Caleb Dowdy preaches fire and brimstone through an opium haze, one of a cast of characters in John Pipkin's novel "Woodsburner." Pipkin was born and raised in Baltimore and now resides in Austin with his family.

From the book jacket:
"Woodsburner" springs from a little-known event in the life of one of America's most iconoc figures, Henry David Thoreau. On April 30, 1844, a year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, Thoreau accidentally started a forest fire that destroyed 300 acres of the Concord woods--a event that altered the landscape of American thought in a single day. ... On the day of the fire, his path will intersect with three very different local citizens, each of whom also harbors a secret dream (one of them Dowdy).

I was hoping that my husband would attend this second session on Sunday morning, but my husband was too caught up with the first session he attended on Sunday, about hurricanes on the Texas coast, and headed to the bookseller's tent to buy the book about hurricanes and get it autographed, so he missed the panel discusion with Pipkin and three other novelists, the panel discussion titled "Possessed: Characters with Magnificent Obsessions." My husband bought Pipkin's novel for me and got Pipkin's autograph, since I suspect it may be a sleeper hit.

My attention was drawn to "Woodsburner" thanks to a major write-up (double page spread) in the official bok festival guide, published by the Austin-American Statesman. Two pieces covered Pipkin's work: the feature story, "What makes a book catch fire?", accompanied by a humongous timeline of events, titled "The tale of a tale, well-written," detailing the journey the author made in getting this work to print.

The timeline and story are here:

Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I share RD's opinions of the potentiality of the V remake. I hold higher hopes for the new Stargate series which they apparently premiered without my advance knowledge. I will sometime today see if it's viewable online (the premiere) and if so I will evaluate it then.

I used to work for a man who drank a fifth or a quart of scotch every night. He was useless as far as I could tell; he never patented anything usable, he spent millions on failed projects, subverted good uses for experimental equipment and tried using it for failed ventures. Crazy pot smokers with crazy ideas, after culling those ideas, would have generated more usable R&D proposals than he ever did.

But by god he would have passed a drug test.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 4, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

This jumped out at me from The Damage Done:
"The one thing that might have helped her, Anna says, is if she had come face to face with someone who could relay the brutal reality of their experience. Someone young, whom she could relate to. Someone like herself."

I have yet to see this logic employed against crack cocaine. Maybe I just don't see such commercials or ads. We are pretty well analyzed and demographic-ized nowadays.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 4, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

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