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Erosion Roundup

The recent Nor'easter pounded the tar out of the Delmarva peninsula. See these pictures of Chincoteague. I'm worried about my campground at the north end of Assateague and wondering how the ponies rode out the storm. Storms regularly breach the berm (I guess you'd call it a dune except it's industrially created) that runs down the island, and the campground gets flooded, but this was no ordinary storm, lasting as it did for four days. Clearly -- obviously -- irrefutably -- I need to head to the beach today to check out the damage and blog about it, which really should only take five or six days of reporting. Also I should see how the Outer Banks handled it. And Bermuda. And the Amalfi Coast.


Weingarten was just as mean as I was in that pundit contest that is running. Gene hates the tendency to be inoffensive and earnest. It's true, earnestness is deadly in an opinionator, almost as bad as its evil cousin, sanctimony. But maybe there's a generational element at work. Younger folks nurture ideals that have not yet been blasted and eroded and sandpapered away to the point where nothing is left but the iron core.

The comment threads are brutal. Like: "Even when they talk about privilege (like Courtney Martin's post on class privilege, or Jeremy Haber's post on being a lukewarm accepter of gay rights) they do so with acknowledged but ultimately unfettered privilege oozing out of their words."

Give these contestants some combat pay!


Sure, Wilbon's right, it goes in the books as a terrible call by Belichick to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28 while holding a 6-point lead against the Colts. But if he'd made it, we'd all be calling him a genius again. Does anyone think Manning couldn't have marched 70 yards instead of 28 yards with more than 2 minutes to play? Either way, same outcome.

[more to come]

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 17, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
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Next: Personal foul, 15 yards for Newsweek, Pinker [Updated]


First with a mudged repost.
Got up just before 1:00 AM (the time listed for the start of the shower here and was promptly rewarded with a big blue streak that left several seconds of an after glow. Then small ones every ten minutes. About 2, the clouds started forming but then even through the cloud cover was a really, really big fireball sheding chunks of smaller fire balls.

Them darn backyard trees that need removing. OPPS

Posted by: bh72 | November 17, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Crazy pictures of the storm in the Outer Banks, to help you prepare for your assignment.

Posted by: binpa | November 17, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the island is trying to go someplace else -- as barrier islands are wont to do.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 17, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I misread the headline as "Derision Roundup" and though we were going to talk about Everyone's Favorite Ex-Governor some more...


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

There's a tenuous thread linking the Belichick story and Gene's assertion that good pundits need to be unambiguously opinionated. It's the notion that you need to risk losing in order to win.

I hang around people who have to express their opinions for a living, and they are always agonizing about conditional language. The analogy often made is that of a meteorologist.

Consider the question of whether or not it is going to rain next Saturday when you are planning an expensive outdoor wedding.

One approach is to carefully hedge your bets with weasel words like "possibly" and "perhaps" and "it is reasonable to expect."

This approach is popular because it gives the analyst an out. And it is defensible because it is based on what you know and not what you think. But is it really useful? It is essentially unloading responsibility to someone who isn't an expert in weather. Someone who, gosh darn it, just wants to know if he should cancel the ice statues or not.

So to avoid accusations of weaseliness (is that even a word?) you can take the other extreme and do something more like what Gene suggests. You know, go out on a limb and say something like "Darn tootin' it's gonna be sunny on Saturday."

This has the advantage of being actually useful because it provides a hard position upon which to base action. It incorporates intangibles of insight and gestault-like gutsyness. Such a prediction is admired and met with a hearty slap on the back for its fearlessness and gumption.

Unless, of course you are wrong. Then they haul you up before The Committee and ask why you didn't just punt.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Firmly-stated opinions like RDP describes are most useful in situations in which the person asking for the advice will die if reality is opposed to your advice. The survivors will be convinced of your genius. Those who hold an alternative opinion will rarely return to deliver a complaint in person.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Of course, there is a third option sometimes advocated. Which is when an analyst offers no firm opinion as to whether or not it will rain on Saturday. Rather, he or she just points out what might happen under each scenario. (Sort of what the Augustine Committee did.) Explain the effect of rain on taffeta and the like, and document the expected cost of rescheduling. But this, approach again, can be viewed as weaseling out if the consumer mandates a firm recommendation.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Too many commas!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

This contains some striking photos on the aftermath of the 1962 Ash Wednesday storm on Chincoteague:

I'm not sure what the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce is doing hosting this. "Hey, look at us! We have really devastating storms here!"

Ocean City after the same storm. This is also interesting just for the aerial shots of OC before all the high-rises:,0,3987343.photogallery

Cue Burt Lancaster from Atlantic City: "The Atlantic Ocean was really something then. You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days."

Posted by: rashomon | November 17, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse


I had a long response to your questions in the last Boodle which I tried to post twice, but the WaPo censors apparently didn't like something about it (I used a word in a biological context that may have been interpreted as naughty). Barring catastrophe, there will almost certainly be another Kit in which we I can try to answer some of your questions.

My in-laws have been trying to get me to invest in some Outer Banks real estate for quite a while, but I can't do it. With global warming and the accompanying sea level rise, I fear for the future of places like the Outer Banks and Chincoteague even in the short (i.e. my lifetime) term. Joel, you might want to have a Plan B. There are both wild ponies and campsites in New Mexico and Arizona (and as a bonus they won't get buried when Yellowstone erupts).

Posted by: Awal | November 17, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Quite the pictures, but isn't the purpose of a barrier island to protect the mainland, thereby one of its primary purposes would be to flood during a storm pretecting or mitigating the damage on the mainland?

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Details, dmd, details...

Posted by: badsneakers | November 17, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Awal, two technical tips. First, there's a 500-word limit per post, so do a word count and break your posts up in less-tha-500-word increments. I'm guessing that was the problem.

Second, in the case of questionable words, see if you can simply put a space in the middle of the word, or replace an "i" with an "l" or a 1 (one), or use the @ sign for "a." Usually that'll will fix it.

I really do want to know your views about the morphing of the GOP.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I was just talking with a friend who lives in the next town on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I asked her how the last two storms have impacted their land and she said they were fine because their exposure is leeward to most of the storms that come thru here. But there are many areas of our coast, especially on the Cape, that take a beating, houses falling into the ocean, new cuts in barrier sandbars, with each storm that we get. Sad, but that's the nature of the ocean, to keep refreshing the shoreline.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

RD, I like what you're thinking about the pundit stating, "Darn tootin' it's gonna be sunny on Saturday," but I think to take it to the next level you need do other things to keep the readers interested.

Perhaps an assignment of blame and an interactive element.

"Darn tootin' it's gonna be sunny on Saturday. And if it isn't, I say we gather pitchforks and torches and march on thre town square to demand that [pundits' favorite blame pincushion] redeploy the sun during normal daylight hours. And if he won't do it, we're going straight to[pundit's diety of choice]! The day's not over until *we* say it's over! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore! Who's with me!?"

Seems like it's been working for Glenn Beck, anyway.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hate when I look back at my posts and see the errors - sorry!

Yes, badsneaks erosion control can create other problems, just further down the way - lots of that around here with the erosion controls placed on peoples waterfront property.

On a off-topic note went to the local garden centre - which is one of the biggest Christmas stores in the area. Spent a lovely hour and a half wandering picking out greenery and decorations for the urns and wreath outside. As well as admiring the lovely variety of christmas decor. Paid and happily went out the door to place my stuff in the car and head home for some creative fun.

One small issue - somewhere in my wandering dropped my car keys - back in to walk around and try to retrace my steps - think Family circle cartoon of the kids. No luck so had to get a cab to take me home and then back with the spare keys. Darn. At least it is a nice sunny day, a little cool and breezy but it is November.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dmd, who are we to divine the purposes of barrier islands? No doubt, they have dreams & schemes which we could never imagine or comprehend.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Gee Oh Pee

Posted by: russianthistle | November 17, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Excellent point bc. Or if it actually does rain a pundit can claim, "Well, when I said *rain* I meant, you know, the preacher golfing in Caddyshack rain. If you think *that* little bit o' precip is rain then we got a serious problem."

This approach is also not without precedent.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

On the Belichick thing for a sec, I saw a quote from an NFL player who said something like, 'He trusted his offense to move the ball two yards more than he trusted his defense to keep Manning (and the Colts) from going 70.'


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Bob, that laugh was needed.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, RD.

Manage expectations and perceptions, and always have a plan to shift the blame somewhere else.

And an escape route should trouble start.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather see more moxie on 4th down and less punting. And NO team should be able to win with a field goal.

Posted by: mfigiel-krueger | November 17, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Alas, Joel, methinks the WaPo has gotten itself into an untenable, unwinnable position with the Wonder-Pundit contest. When the graybeards are sitting around the boardroom conducting the post mortem on why this turned out so badly, you might send along these thoughts:

1) First, I doubt the contest was dreamed up by somebody in the op-ed staff, who decided one day the Post needed some more opinionators. It was dreamed up by some [anatomical expletive] in the marketing department who has been watching too much American Idol and So You Think You Can Fox Trot. I have a pretty firm suspicion that you, Weingarten and I all hold remarkably similiar feelings about marketing people and their many and varied contributions to American journalism (the word "euthanasia" leaps to mind).

Second, they made it tacky and low-brow and trendy, and no self-respecting pundit would have touched it with a ten-foot pole. Have you noticed how few of the candidates are actually journalists or even writers of any ilk? Out of ten candidates, exactly ONE is a professional writer/editor of any stature; the other nine are all some kind of wannabes: four of them are lawyers (just what we needed in Washington, more lawyers with opinions), one's a physicist, one's a foreign affairs expert, one's a "social media consultant," whatever the hell that is. At least three of them include "teacher" in their brief bios: just what we needed, pedagogy and "Up the Down Staircase."

I don't mean to demean any of these professions, and I'll be the first to admit people in other professions "can" often be good writers as well. But by and large, if I'm looking to hire a writer, I'll tend to prefer a person who writes for a living over a person who is a plumber, a lawyer, a milk-maid, or whatever. What it comes down to is that these other people are all basically "amateur" writers, and you are going to get amateur work from them.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

You make an excellent point Mudge, but here's the problem. To me a good pundit isn't necessarily a great writer as much as a great thinker. Analytical thought and an absence of bias count more for me than simply being a great wordsmith.

But that's just me, and simply highlights the fundamental question. What does the typical reader want in a pundit?

Does the reader want someone who can make a strong argument for or against a position that may or may not agree with the reader's? Does the reader want careful analysis so that he or she can make an independent decision? Does the reader want a consistent ideological interpretation of events guaranteed to reinforce the reader's own biases? Or does the reader just want good and entertaining writing?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I should qualify my position based on the *nature* of the punditry. I mean, think Robin Givhan writes a great column even though I don't really care if her fashion sense is great or not. She simply puts together entertaining and frequently humorous words. On the other hand, I don't worry so much if, say, Rob Pegoraro is a brilliant writer so long as he can give me sound technical advice about my 'puter. With politics it's kind of in between.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Third, WaPo built up expectations way too high. The winner is now going to have to live up to being not only a pundit but a "great" pundit. They are not going to have to be merely "good" or even "adequate," they are supposed to know our socks off. Well, not gonna happen, at least not from this bunch. I have no idea how the WaPo is gonna get itself out of that dilemma. Whoever wins is gonna be a yawner from Day One. The can promote and market and hype the winner all they want, but at the end of the day, it's all about the content of the punditry.

Which takes us to Point Four: this contest dis-respects guys like you and Weingarten, Gene Robinson, Dave Barry, Art Buchwald, William Safire, Hiaasen, Dana Milbank (some days), Hammill, Breslin, Stewart Alsop (who? see? I rest my case), James Reston, Erma Bombeck, my friend and once-mentee Tom Ferrick in Philly, even George Will once in a blue mean. This contest posits that what you guys do is "easy," and just any Tom, Dick or Harriet could fall off the turnip truck and do what all you guys/gals spent 20 freaking years learning how to do. I think this single point fries my butt more than any other. Being a "great" pundit is pretty easy, anybody can do it. Well, it ain't.

Fifth, not only is Weingarten right about hating earnestness, but not only is earnestness NOT required about two-thirds of the existing great pundits would disappear like a fart in a NASA wind tunnel. When I think of seriousness and earnestness, the names Milbank, Weingarten, Bombeck, Buckwald, Hiaasen, Achenbach, Ferrick, Breslin, and Barry do not exactly leap to mind.

Smarmy, snarky, smart-ass, wise-ass, skeptical, wise-cracking, possibly or probably twisted, sure. Earnest, not so much.

So it is the height of ridiculousness to ask the contestants to write a column on health care. Jaysus, Murphy and Joseph, they should have been asked to write columns about visible panty line, five-bean chili, mafia hits, drinking coffee overlooking a waterfall, wandering loose in Paris, or households tips for harried homemakers. In short, the marketing people running this contest. Simply. Don't. Get. It.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: "But by and large, if I'm looking to hire a writer, I'll tend to prefer a person who writes for a living over a person who is a plumber, a lawyer, a milk-maid, or whatever."

While it is true that the majority of my day seems to alternate between unclogging messes people caused themselves and coaxing benefits from reliable sources, at least some people think we still have something to do with writing.

To RD's point, the described third way is the art of answering the question you wish had been asked. Tangents optional.

Sunny on Saturday? Well, I for one still think that some sunshine on Saturday would be a fine idea, despite what all those people in government would have you believe.

Posted by: engelmann | November 17, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I had thought about joining the fray on the pundit contest, but then I read the rules and terms and such-like minutiae. I was still interested, but not enough so as to set aside any time for it. The problem was that:

* I would have to write a bang-up piece of work in order to shine among a crowd of unknown proportions and unknown capabilities;

* I would have to proffer a vigorously-supported opinion on subjects on which I sometimes would want to refrain from having an opinion (although that attitude could be column-fodder -- once or twice a year, at most);

* I would have to follow my initial blazing success with a lot more work in a short time-period;

* I would be at risk of impairing my credibility and employability in my day-job for which I spent 7 years in grad school and the past 18 years of my professional life, by inadvertently coming to the attention of my agency in a way that they wouldn't like; and

* I would be doing all this, and risking my regular employment, for the sake of obscure recognition and a very modest level of remuneration.

All these issues even before I realized that the "successful" contestant also has to basically take leave time from the day job for a couple weeks in order to meet the required output rate, and absorb the insults and catcalls of the jeering mobs. Plus, having to get critiqued by Achenbach and Weingarten. Ouch!

No, thank you. It's not worth it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 17, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I would agree with you about the need for analytical thinking, Padouk, especially since I've long held that all good writing requires good thinking as a pre-condition. But one of the top things a pundit has to do is get in, do it in 700 words, and get out. I don't need in-depth analysis and pilpul [argumentation] from a pundit. I don't need it, and neither does anybody else. If I want in-depth and reasoned analysis about a complex issue, I want a full-blown article in the New Yorker, or Harpers, or the Atlantic, or a long thumb-sucker in the the NYT or WaPo magazines, etc.

It is a mistake to think that punditry is deeply serious and academic. It isn't, and shouldn't be. First and foremost it needs to be 700 or 800 words, and entertaining pretty much from the first word to the last. If it doesn't do that, the quality of its thought is purely secondary and irrelevant.

Almost by definition, it requires a generalist to write it, not a specialist. Perhaps some won't agree with this, but if Joel wrote nothing but specialist articles about astronomy, he would have no following, except among astronomy buffs. One of the candidates is a physicist. If that guy wrote nothing but articles aboyut physics, ditto.

The thing is, journalism as a profession teaches people to be skilled generalists who can write 700 words, get in, get out, and go find a beer. I have no interest whatsoever in reading a social media consultant's views about any damn thing, unless maybe it is panty line. Or baking the perfect cookie. Or whatever. Basically, I don't want deep analysis, and I don't want a lame attempt to solve some overwhelming social problem such as Poverty or Crime or Peace in Our Time that even the experts can solve.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Bwa ha ha ha ha, my dreadful mix tape over sharing of two kits ago-totally unnoticed. Lively discussion yesterday, sorry I missed it.

Hey, I know it seems like we're hardly done with the '08 election in Minnesota but my pick for the 2010 Governor's race is pulling ahead of the pack. Mayor (of Minneapolis) RT Rybak is tied for the lead with former senator Mark Dayton in polling of likely DFL (dems to us) voters.

Joel-do you get extra pay for reading and critiquing the amateur punditry? That's what it would take for me to read it.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I keep wondering what the dreck at the bottom of the slush pile must have been like. Actually, not really. I suspect it was indistinguishable from many of the comments on news articles on the Post website, and I'm sure the word "ACORN" was used a lot.

But I really feel sorry for the junior editors who must have had to make the first pass at the stuff. I think I would have preferred the job extracting staples at the IRS over that.

Posted by: rashomon | November 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Let's not be so harsh on social media consultants. In addition to (presumably helpful) advice on the actual utilization of Facebooky/Twittery/bloggy-type tools, they probably give much the same writing advice you're giving here. If they're any good.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Consider this: if Weingarten had entered this contest, he'd have bombed out in the first round. Dave Barry? Please. Hiaasen?

Almost all the really great pundits I've named wouldn't touch this thing. If they did, they'd bomb out.

It's exactly the same thing that's wrong with American Idol: Bob Dylan would have gotten crucified. Janis Joplin? Please. Joe Cocker? We've decided to go in a different direction.

An "open tryout" for pro football, baseball, or punditry is basically a marketing gimic. The odds are maybe one in a million you'll get one.

AI gets what? tens of thousands of contestants each year and winnows them down to a handful. What makes anyone think that getting 50 or a 100 applicants for punditry is likely to produce the same possibility of a great winner? The math simply isn't there.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I confess that I groused a lot about the pundit contest initially. Partly for reasons you have outlined. Someone like Eugene Robinson didn't become a pundit by winning a contest; he traveled the world for 20 years and had a wide variety of jobs and proved himself versatile and smart and honest etc. etc....So, yeah, I feared it would disrespect the craft. BUT...I think that may be taking it too seriously. The winner doesn't get a job, just 13 columns, most of which will probably run online and not in the paper. I think the contest might turn out to be a success all told (not sure who came up with the idea). And I think we've long since entered a new era in which punditry is not merely the province (is that the word I want?) of the professional journalists. As a colleague put it to me today, "We're in the HuffPo era." That's the lay of the land now.

Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I see what you mean. It would take a very talented writer to pull off an earnest pundit persona and make it funny AND critical, and that shtick would change within a few months or so, anyway.

I think I've seen some "earnest" articles from a younger Joel. But it was tongue-in-cheek earnestness.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

There's some importance to being earnest.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

You make a great argument about pundits being skilled generalists, Mudge. I guess it all, again, comes down to what a pundit is. You make a compelling argument that a pundit should not be the source of in-depth analysis. And I cannot disagree.

My concern is that many people will not bother to read that detailed article or deep-dive analytical position paper. They want their worldview in 700 words or less. So this, to me, raises the stakes a bit.

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

'Mudge, I'm pretty sure that WaPo is saying "America's Next Great Pundit" in a hopeful, maybe even predictive way, as opposed to "right here, right now" mode.

Kinda like looking at a tropical wave coming off of West Africa and saying "the next great hurricane."

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I work with social media consultants, Bob. Euthanasia is the best that could happen. Trust me on this.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Good point, Joel, that we aren't talking about bumping someone from the first page for this.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I take your point, Joel. And I'm as depressed about this being the HuffPo era as anyone. So all this chazzerai is over 13 columns?

My point about being a professional generalist is that such a person knows how to tell a story, and be "entertaining" (I hate that word in this context), which is to say, knows how to keep you interested. If anything that supports the HuffPo idea (god help me).

Who are the most popular writers/pundits at the Post? The Miami Herald? The old NY Post in its hayday? The Chicago Trib (in the days of Barnickle and Turkle).

It's always been the clowns, the storytellers, the Barrys, Achenbachs, Weibngartens, Breslins. And you know damn, damn well that Breslin, Weingarten, Hammill, even Bombeck could make you cry. Ponnuru, not so much.

Nobody goes home and pins a Robert Kagan column on the refrigerator.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

This is worth a read: Sandra Tsing Loh on being a bad mother:

Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen the latest Sarah Palin kerfuffle? Evidently, this week's Newsweek cover used a photo from a months-ago shoot that she had with Runners' World magazine.

Palin is attacking Newsweek's decision as sexist and out-of-context.

I don't have any more use for Sarah Palin than the rest of you, but I have to say she might be right on this one. I haven't seen a reply from the Newsweek editorial staff. I'd suspect that decision has its origins in the same WaPo editorial process that brings us "Achenbach: Does Obama Hate America" on the front page. It's all about the page views and the Benjamins.

On the other hand, I do think that Sarah Palin has made covert (if not overt) efforts to play up her sex-symbolness for the red blooded, meat-eating, GOP faithful. So I'd say this might be a little bit of the karmic wheel running over her (tight Runners' World body). Also, why is she doing photo shoots for Runners World and giving them the rights to sell or use her picture for something else. You need some of those rich, liberal, Ivy League, East Coast lawyers protecting you from yourself, guvnah.

Posted by: Awal | November 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Newsweek cover here:

Jeez. A tempest in a teapot. Her umbrage just gets her more press, that's all. (Plus Newsweek slammed her, so she has to retaliate.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"To be a mother—even simply to be a woman—in today’s world is to be made exhausted and resentful by a role or set of roles that we don’t recall deliberately choosing."

Among many other choice lines in the Loh piece.

Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I think the Newsweek cover is a mistake. It does seem sexist to run a cheesecake shot taken for Runner's World. I'm the first to say that Palin is running for Celebrity In Chief and is hard to take entirely seriously, but I still winced at the photo.

Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

No question that Sarah Palin is trying to play this for attention, but I would hold Newsweek to a higher standard than I hold Sarah Palin.

I don't think that they'd show Tom Friedman or even Rush Limbaugh in a comparable outfit for an article that had nothing to do with leisure or exercise. I skimmed Newsweek online, and there is no context given for that photograph. Clearly they had an editorial view that accompanied the article, but the picture seems to me to be just a gratuitous, unrelated effort to make her look more like a bimbo. She can do that fine by herself; I don't think it reflects well on Newsweek that they tried to help it along.

Posted by: Awal | November 17, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The Loh piece has an interesting riff on how she nurtured her sister not out of compassion so much as in deference to the power of narrative.

She's a great writer, if perhaps what you'd call a "piece of work."

Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Repost from yesterday.

The Newsweek cover is okay, but this shot of Ms. Palin promoting physical fitness is much hawter.

But nothing beats Obama on the cover of Washingtonian.

Scrumptious. I'd kill for those abs. (Metaphorically, Secret Service lurkers. Please don't tap my phone.)

Posted by: yellojkt | November 16, 2009 1:32 PM |

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

To all of you who are musing about WaPo's pundit contest:

I agree it was likely dreamt up by marketing. And no, the 10 finalists didn't get there with awesome entry essays. They got there with awesome 100-word bios, and could string a few para together reasonably well.

As to whether it's a success or a flop, well that's pretty much based on one's criteria of each, doesn't it? Either way, I give WaPo credit for trying it. The downside risk is pretty minimal.

Posted by: MsJS | November 17, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Or guilt.

Awal, aesthetics aside, that is an interesting point-- yet I cannot shake a certain mental image of a Newsweek (I think-- that or Time) cover featuring a shirtless Newt Gingrich back in 1995.

I never wanted to know Newt had that much body hair. But a Republican I knew then couldn't take his eyes off Newt on that magazine nor praising his handiwork.

I accused him of having a gay crush on Newt. He grinned but didn't deny it.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't find the Newsweek cover sexist - it's a fairly ordinary pose. This is the woman who winked her way through a VP debate, after all. I watched the Oprah interview, God help me, and in it she was shown going to the gym in running shorts, and talking about how running is such an important part of her life. So it's not like Newsweek photo-shopped the pic.

Ana Marie Cox thought it was a cheap shot.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 17, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Steve Pinker hatin' on Malcolm Gladwell:


Posted by: joelache | November 17, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

From Palin's book (words to live by, methinks):

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudge . . . yes *YOU* there! Your link to the Sopranos video has completely interfered with my tune cootie of "It Was A Very Good Year" for the past two days. I mean, COMPLETELY!

Sorry for the shouting, but that's such a good song and now I'll never be able to hear it without, well, you know, watching *other* people having s3x!

Geez, Mudge . . .



Posted by: -ftb- | November 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Am deeply apologetic, ftb. I didn't play the clip out before I posted it. Just the first 30 seconds or so. And of course I knew the song. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Um, but the thing is, when I hear one particular verse to the song, even without the clips, I tend to think about...well...

"With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one..."

I think about debentures, and how my 401k is doing, and whether Belichick made the right call...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

OK, that's not really what I think about.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much, just "it came undone" does it for me. Don't need no steenking pictures.

Filthiest three words in all of pop music.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I think that Cassandra has had comments here that would qualify as a column. They are rare but regular. And some good writers don't even know it when they do it.

A friend of mine has "tried" to write some and keeps dropping the ball. Some of it's almost writer's block from "trying too hard." Yet the friend will tell me incredible stories and yet never once has thought to write THOSE. Reminds me of story about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings whose editor apparently finally told her "your novel stinks; I'm publishing however a book based on your private letters to me." Which became "The Yearling and won a Pulitzer.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 17, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Except for a line in "Miracles."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Colbert gets invited to Richmond as ombudsman for the US speedskating team, appears the city has a sense of humour.

Perhaps we should work on getting Joel to be the US ombudsman for curling? :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me she posed for the picture. Showed up, had her make-up applied, looked at options for outfits. It's not some horrible picture somesome snapped while she's hailing a cab or eating pizza. Seems to me, if running and fitness are so important in her life, she should have spun the thing to say yes, that's me, and I'm proud of that pic. I chose those shorts over jogging pants, even though I live in Alaska, to show that regular physical activity pays off. The big bad MSM tried to stick it to me, and it backfired. I think physical fitness is critical for this nation. All Americans, no matter how busy they are, should make it a regular part of their life. Being physically fit doesn't eliminate your chances of success, it increases it.

Or some such other drivel (I'm not running unless someone's chasing me, and then I'm just going to outrun whoever else is with me.)

But no, she just pouts and points fingers. Sort of like DC when she's overtired.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute... the Newsweek cover runs the text "How do you solve a problem like Sarah? She's bad news for the GOP and everyone else, too" and Palin complains about THE PICTURE? That she posed for?

It was SUPPOSED to make her look bad.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Her editor was the great (nay, legendary) Maxwell Perkins, jumper. He edited Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe as well as Rawlings. Scribner's (the publishing firm where he worked) has his collected letters to and from his various writers. My copy is dog-earred, underline, coffee-stained, beer-stained, wine-stained, and falling apart. Max Perkins is a god.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Zackly, TBG. And it isn't even good cheesecake.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 17, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Yep, you got it, LiT. If Sarah Palin had a thought beyond telling other people what they did wrong, that's what she would have said. But that's why her candidacy for VP or President is a joke.

I didn't expect Oprah to be tough on her - but she didn't even point out, when they were talking about Palin finding out she was pregnant at age 45, and then finding out the baby would have Down syndrome, that Palin had a CHOICE about how to handle that. Or getting her to name a newspaper she regularly read, or expressing gob-smackedness when Palin declares she had no doubts that she was qualified for VP or President. Really? Who in their right mind wouldn't have some trepidation about taking that on, especially about what it would do to her family? Oh well - I didn't expect much, and that's what I got.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 17, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm noticing an awful lot of those Igon Values that Pinker mentions cropping up in newspaper articles on science. One of the consequences of newspaper downsizing seems to be the loss of quality writers who have at least a basic understanding of scientific topics.

ftb: I can never listen to the 1812 Overture without hearing "This is the cereal that's shot from guns." in my head. The guy at the ad agency with the Puffed Rice account who came up with that one is right up at the top of the list of people who better watch out when I get to be Ayatollah.

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

No fooling, rashomon! And isn't there another ad somewhere that uses the choral part of Beethoven's Ninth? And doesn't it have something to do with dog food?

Ah, but nevertheless, the video that Mudge sent me was *not* dog food. . . . .

Posted by: -ftb- | November 17, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

A sense of humo(u)r, you say? This is great!

"It takes a lot to upset us. After all, the combination of the languid smell of beaver musk and the freezing temperatures generally make us a docile people."

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you are dating your self with 'VPL." Those haven't been seen on the ski slopes since a late show host long gone. They are now only seen in the costco pharmacy waiting line.

Back boodling while enjoying a BTL sandwich from probably the last red ones off our three vines.

Posted by: bh72 | November 17, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The Igon Values show up everywhere. In a review of the movie "Les Grand Canadiens" I read this morning in the Montreal daily newspaper of record, the critic was referring to Jean Béliveau as the greatest left winger the club ever had. It ruined my morning.

Bonus point: who is the best left winger of all times for the CH? I say Steve Shutt but let's take other opinions.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mudge! I have just ordered a copy on your advice.

I saw an Igon Value in the new Harper's that came the other day.

The General Electric superfraud:
Why the Hudson River will never run clean
By David Gargill
The author seems to not even understand the basic role of electrical insulators. Luckily this does not much damage the gist of the worthwhile story.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 17, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, think you would be correct with Shutt, of course I cheated :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Since we are all cooks, eaters and readers, I cannot recommend this too highly:

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Igon Value is first cousin to Mondegreen.

"The ants are my friends,
they're blowin' in the wind
The ants are a-blowin' in the wind."

- Dylan

Posted by: Awal | November 17, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I can't remember if I got this link on the Boodle. It's an "interview" with Adam Smith

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 17, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

If this is true, then we have spent way too much attention to sports.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 17, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

a former student:

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree that the Palin pic kind of makes sense on a meta level. You know, how she uses the MSM when it suits her ends, and then criticizes it when it doesn't. Gene Robinson makes this point much better than can I in his chat today.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

That is a terrible story rickoshea, as are some of the comments blaming the victim. What is wrong with people.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

My lost keys were turned in, off to go pick them up, yippee.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

My cooking skills pale in comparison to the collective skill of the boodle. If I feel particularly daring, I consult my Mom's copy of The Joy of Cooking. It was printed waaay before I was born, late fourties or early fifties, IIRC. It has recipes in it using meat parts that I wouldn't have heard of had I not taken comparative anatomy.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I had to backtrack to get the "Igon Value" reference, but I think it's brilliant.

Eigenvalues, as well as Eigenvectors and the associated mathematical matrix machinery are good buddies of mine. We spend a *lot* of time together. I love that they have spawned such a nifty little catch phrase for sloppy science reporting.

Beware the Igon Values.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I love the old Joy of Cooking; Mrs. Rombauer had a distinctive voice and her little stories are a joy. It isn't the same any more. And to my mind it can't be improved upon as an encyclopedia of a certain time in American cooking. It is a great reference work in many ways.

I have a collection of old cookbooks inherited from my grandmother and mother-in-law. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook from WWII is precious.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I feel the same way about cooking shows, Yoki. Graham Kerr sure had a good time. Now that I think of it, I miss Justin Wilson's show.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

The Loh article is interesting but kinda scary. It sure shows the power of The Narrative. Beyond that I ain't gonna touch it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Scary, RD_Padouk? I thought it spoke about universals; how to be loving and good without having a great well of, for the lack of a better term, "maternalism" to draw on. Sometimes ethics provides what emotion can't. And sometimes, things are complicated. I admired Loh's fearless exposition of these personal idiosyncrasies. She's living in her car! She followed her heart! She's writing (out of her car)! And she still managed to visit her sister-in-law every day and helped raise her brother's children in a way that taught them all they need to know about being a human being which, pretty much, boils down to "visit your mother even when it isn't fun."

Sometimes, narrative is all we have. And for writers, narrative may be the most compelling motivation there is.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Of course, poor Graham was drunk when he was having a really good time. When he stopped drinking and got saved, the show was not even close to as compelling.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

On topic, "feed your inner Julia Child", for those of us, like me, with underdeveloped culinary skills.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, Yoki,I didn't mean scary as an insult. Just that the article represented the strange ways in which one's life can evolve. I mean, the mother collapsed suddenly and died. That, to me, is a scary notion.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Yoki. I agree. By the way, I must observe a lot of women have affairs before they get divorced, but few get evicted and wind up living in a car like that.

She used the word "evicted," and that has implications (beyond the "absentee landlordish" relationship her husband had with her.)

Depending on the state laws, she could easily sue for a divorce on grounds of abandonment (Virginia law for instance provides for that), and probably take a good amount of his money in the process.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, in my own experience and that of many friends, this vindictive "take him for everything he's got" attitude is precisely not what we feel. We want everything to be fair to us and our children's father and know, above all, that bitterness only hurts children worse than the situation already has.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Well said Yoki, our own friends who are in the process of separating are going through the process with grace, dignity and the best interests of their children - teamwork is still involved in child rearing even when the parents live in separate homes.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Yoki. This is why she didn't mention this point.

I'm just pointing out that she was done wrong, and has experienced a lot of condemnation and even urging to go back to the same guy who threw her out, probably because of the homelessness.

This point disturbs me greatly.

I have been put in the same situation her husband was put in, and I didn't throw my ex out on the streets.

I offer this in reference to Joel's comment that she is "a piece of work."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

But here's the thing; she doesn't seem to feel that she was hard-done-by. She say's she was "rightfully" (or whatever word she used) kicked out. I expect this means that she wanted to go, anyway, even without anything lined up, habitation-wise. I'm not persuaded that her girls are as comfortable with it as she claims, and so I see Joel's comment coming from a different place. It isn't about the affair, necessarily (though I don't pretend to speak for Joel), nor the homelessness, but her comfort level with it.

Being on the verge of that myself (the homelessness, I mean) I think she is just braving it. How could it be otherwise?

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Actually the mother is in just a vegetative state....

This article is simply dangerous for men to get involved in really. So I shall return to my nice happy fun book.

I did like this line though:

"Born in 1962, I’m of the bland generation ’tween Baby Boom and Gen X ...."

Yep. I hear ya.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I fall in that category too RD, we are not bland! Maybe monochromatic though :-)

Going off topic, most lovely sky out right now, midnight blue sky highlighted by pure white soft cotton ball clouds illuminated but the light pollution, racing across the sky, very stars peaking in and out of the clouds. It is brisk and windy - most of the leaves are down - very refreshing.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

During my divorce, I left a rental five days before the house I was building was approved for occupancy - I wasn't going to pay another month's rent for a few days. My 'life' was in my car (important papers, clothes). I stayed with friends at night and worked all day. It was the most awful feeling to not have a home, even tho' I knew it was very temporary. I cannot imagine doing any of that with children.

There is a lot of information missing from that article. She seemed a little too proud of her lifestyle, which would be fine if there weren't children involved.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 17, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I think that's the shock value "bad mom angle" that she was going for, without airing too much dirty laundry.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Wilbrod, most kids are fairly resilient and some shine despite horrible childhood experiences so her children will probably be fine. I didn't think she was a 'bad' mom, but Joel was right about her being a piece of work.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 17, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I like that she recognizes and acknowledges that the affair was wrong, but I can understand what she doesn't say, that her husband wasn't there for her when she needed him. That, of course, is what love is about, being present when it's not easy or convenient or fun. Just because a person's job requires travel is no excuse for not being present in the relationship.

I disagree with her that she is a bad mother. She is a human mother, like the rest of us. She *is* present in the lives of her children, even in trying circumstances. That says to me that she loves them as they need to be loved and that they will be okay.

When I left my ex-husband, I moved a short distance and the kids went back and forth. They could walk, in fact, and did. We both did better as parents after we parted. I remember the Elderdottir wailing that she couldn't get away with ANYTHING! Poor child.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't finish the article because of the repeated references to being a "bad mom". Bad is a word that really bothers me, something I personally reserve for only extreme cases. I also think people tend to use it to achieve some self pity, as in I am a bad person therefore it is not my fault.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

ftb-Noelle and Russell are my favs from tonight.

I'd sleep like a baby every night if all the children I've worked with had bad moms like Sandra Tsing Loh.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

That is a word I loathe, too, dmd. I don't think I've ever told a child or a dog that it is "bad."

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

I have met S T Loh. She is a powerful advocate for public school especially the shabby or non chic ones. My children go so such a school in such a district. She is witty, fun, brilliant, and believes in the dignity of all children. She is not afraid for her children to be with "other" children in groups not hers. And, trust me, the children all together are fine!!!!!

Remember that writers create a semblance of what they wright about. This slant -- necessary and an artifact of the observer -- is arch and funny and truthy. I think she wields the bad mom moniker carefully and deliberately.

One counter balance she is striking is against the (false) notion that we can control and be near-perfect parents (and people). She is right! Pardon me but lord save me from perfect people and other frights that go bump in the night!

However, the article pains me on so many levels I can hardly speak about them. One aspect of the writing life is you write about yourself and those you love. And, the revelation is not always what should happen. Privacy people,'specially for all involved. This is why we have fiction: to speak the truths that need to be spoken.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 17, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree, CqP.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

This strikes me as a little funny, in a poignant way. I have enough tabs open that the A-blog caption reads: Achenblog - Eros

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Pinker's "Igon Values" caught me, too. I never got around to actually using matrix algebra myself, but it's inordinately useful.

The mess at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge looks like it'll be expensive to clean up, a bad thing because the Refuge system is severely short of funding. On the other hand, not a single Refuge was hit by a hurricane this year, which is unusual. Experience with storms has made the Refuges fairly good at designing things with storm damage in mind, and doing repairs based on an assumption that there'll be a similar storm sometime in the future. In Florida, freezes and hurricanes have long provided good opportunities to remove invasive Australian pines, which unfortunately are much-loved by the public.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 17, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Amen, CqP, perfect people are the worst of all. Not that they are perfect, but their arrogance makes them hard to bear.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

The Steven Pinker piece was rather fair compared to several reviews I have read lately. There is a serious Gladwell/Levitt backlash out there.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of backlashes, in addition to the books that Loh mentions in her article, I have also noticed a Bad Parenting as Badge of Honor trend as well. From the dust jacket of Michael Lewis's 'Home Game':

///After the birth of his first child, bestselling writer Lewis (Moneyball) felt he was a stranger in a strange land, puzzled at the gap between what he thought he should be feeling and what he actually felt. While he expected to be overcome by joy, he often felt puzzled; expecting to feel worried over a child's illness or behavior, he often felt indifferent.///

Tom Scocca writes a hilarious series of posts for The Awl called Underparenting where he takes on diapers and strollers and flu shots the other accouterments of modern child-rearing.

There does seem to be a backlash against trying too hard to be perfect. Loh just seems to admit she has gone to the other extreme, but I saw nothing in the article that would lead me to call her a Bad Mom. I'm not sure it's my place to judge.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I don’t watch reality TV and figure skating bores me. Yet, Battles of the Blades draw me in. Retired NHL hunks learn to do portées with tiny figure skater.
I like Stéphane Richer, he’s a local boy and I always like his attitude toward hockey. The big lump looks quite happy skating with petite Marie-France Dubreuil. There is a wardrobe malfunction at 2:00 or thereabouts but CBC showed it network wide, it can’t be that bad. They look very good together.
M-F got hurt and the finals were a wash.
Salé /Simpson won the event, they were quite good.

Claude Lemieux is an excellent hockey player but I can’t figure out why he was so mean back then. I cannot support him even if he won the Cup for the Canadiens. Cheap shots kind of limit your universal appeal.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Shriek I watched the whole series, I have always loved figure skating, both my husband and I were sobbing messes watcing Barb Underhill skate last night as her daughter sang.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 17, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I just came across this. It's called an eigenharp. (Sorry. No Igons here)

Posted by: rashomon | November 18, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Haha. Since I and some other Boodlers actually speak German, and know what Eigen means, just, Fab.

Posted by: Yoki | November 18, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Malcolm Gladwell on Pinker's view of Gladwell's quarterbacks, via Brad DeLong, who somehow manages to find a lot of stuff, especially of the economic variety:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 18, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

Considering the NPS hasn't found the funds to repair a huge gap in the C&O Canal path just south of Great Falls, I think it's gonna be awhile before they can do much at Chincoteague.

Or would it be the Fish & Wildlife Service, since it's a refuge? I need more coffee...

But I've had enough to know Gladwell's probably gonna declare an Eigen Sanction on Pinker.

*not-looking-forward-to-a-very-hectic-morning-but-there's-always-the-afternoon-right? Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 18, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

I was worried that I wasn't going to make it to the National Press Club Book Fair last night because I had to go to a last minute business meeting in New York. The meeting was in some tall building on 34th Street. It kinda worried me that the windows are operable that high up. But Amtrack got me back in time.

We got there about 7 p.m. and toured the room soaking in the celebrity. There were three congress critters (Boxer, Waxman, and Frank), several news talkers (Lehrer, Ifill, and Sanchez) a Pulitzer Prize winner (Sheehan) and even a Texas Jewboy.

The highlight was chatting briefly with Dan Balz who is much more distinguished looking than I imagined. He said that he loves Joel because he is such a 'versatile writer.'

You can see pictures here:

And Ann Coulter is every bit as skinny in real life as she appears on television.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

"It's "EYE-gor!"

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Hey Cassandra!

Showers in the forecast today. Maybe they will wash some of the leaf debris off the car. No, probably not.

Cool pictures, yello. You're right about Ann Coulter being skinny.

Such a good feeling, to have the house clean and yesterday's event behind me. The holidays can arrive, I'm ready!

Ham biscuits on the ready room table this morning. I have run out of new ideas for the time being, so enjoy the tried and true.

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

TBG, you look great in the tiara. You wear it with such style.

It's vacation day. One last load of laundry and then it's off to the airport. Have a Happy Thanksgiving all.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 18, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Hola, Boodleros!

Last night, went to a most unusual art gallery, attended a fascinating discourse on Khazakstan followed by an interview of a former ambassador to Moscow. If you want to buy a painting here, bring a truckload of devaluated dollars or euros.

Posted by: Braguine | November 18, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Bon Voyage LostinThought - and drop us a line if you can.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 18, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Yer scaring me Yello.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 18, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I'll be babysitting this afternoon (and tomorrow too) as the granddaughters have half-days. Today I've decided that we'll go beach combing and then check out some of the old cemeteries in the area for interesting headstones. It's time for them to experience some of the things that I like to do. Does this make me a 'bad' grandmother ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | November 18, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Not at all badsneaks, sounds like fun, I know of a great cemetary in Waterton :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | November 18, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Have fun storming the castle. See you on the flip side.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

'Sneaks: carry some art paper and crayons to the cemetery and teach the grands how to do a rubbing. If there are any Woodmen of the World monuments, check out the detail. Amazing.
Home with our boy for a second day, hoping the fever cycle will break.

Posted by: -jack- | November 18, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

And so the holiday madness begins! Have a great time, LiT!

Posted by: slyness | November 18, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Joel: If the pundit contestants should have combat pay, the readers ought to have been issued blindfolds....

Posted by: martymar123 | November 19, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

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