Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Send in the bears

You may have heard the report about the bear that killed two militants hiding in a cave in Kashmir. Yep: Big ol' bear came home and found a gang of people on its home turf. Mastications ensued. From the BBC story:

"The militants had assault rifles but were taken by surprise -- police found the remains of pudding they had made to eat when the bear attacked."

Gosh, I hate to say this, but -- that wasn't pudding. That was a militant.

Obviously this raises the question of whether the U.S. should adopt the bear strategy in all of these difficult regions, perhaps using some of the grizzlies enumerated by that USGS study McCain was so grumpy about. They got, let's see, 700 or so in the Glacier ecosystem alone. Our ally Canada could easily pitch in a bunch of bears. Sure, it's cruel, and insane, but compared to what? That video-game warfare with the drones and some guy joysticking in Colorado as he takes out a village in Asia? Also we have lots of spare wolves. And those pythons in South Florida. Drop them from choppers and watch the bad guys scatter. We should hit them with the whole bestiary. Even throw in Bigfoot. (This morning I have so many good ideas I feel like I'm on fire.) (No wait that's just the toaster.)


Yesterday I did one of those bloggingheads things with Bob Wright and will post the link when it goes online. I had to do it in my attic, which is filled with the accumulated junk of two decades of living in one place. At one point, I was attacked by a stray feather. In any case, we talked about Obama, this week's election, narrative writing, a space story I'm writing, Ardipithecus and various other things. Bob took issue with my analysis of the election, saying I was projecting my own opinions onto a hypothetical cohort of independent swing voters; he knows better, he said, because he "mingles" with people and thus gains actual researched knowledge of what is going on out there in the real world. But I don't believe Bob has left his house since the 1980s. I don't think he comes out of the basement, even.

Later, I talked to Barbara Feinman's journalism class at Georgetown, and shared some of my dinosaur opinions about the craft (get it right, be fair, revise, trim, read a printout, read it out loud, etc.). The hard truth: Even though we started our
Web site back in 1996, we didn't adapt nearly fast enough to the changes in the way people get their news. (Like, I'm still trying to figure out this SEO business.)

Barbara has a blog about writing. Here's an excerpt of her take on confessional writing:

I tell my students that when deciding if they should include themselves in a piece, whether it's a journalistic work or a work of fiction, they should ask themselves whether, by including themselves they are going to benefit themselves or their readers. Obviously, if the answer is it benefits their readers, go for it. If it's going to benefit their readers and a byproduct is an ego boost or psychological healing, go for it. If it's just going to make the writer feel better, leave yourself on the cutting room floor. So unless you're Joan Didion, it's unlikely that your heartbreaks and migraines can be rewoven into something beautiful.


Good stretch of weather ahead in the Mid-Atlantic and we're peaking leafwise according to this foliage report.


I can't believe the Gators are suspending one of their star defenders for an ENTIRE GAME because he was seen on TV replays -- exact quote -- "trying to gouge the eyes of a Georgia running back." Surely the original half-game suspension was draconian enough.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 5, 2009; 7:55 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama's not-so-happy anniversary
Next: Another AchenBob Diavlog


Joel, this is not a football game, at least not in the sense of an athletic competition. This is #1 Florida Football Factory against Vanderbilt, 2-7 overall and winless in conference play. Meyer could leave all the starters on the bench and still win this "game."

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel and Barbara, for this gem:
So unless you're Joan Didion, it's unlikely that your heartbreaks and migraines can be rewoven into something beautiful.END

But, now I have to explain who Joan Didion is. Which I can and shall.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 5, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Are the militants still eligible for virgins?

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | November 5, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

That extention of the "first half" suspension is funnier than the original suspension. I feel that the athletic program called in a team of statisticians and sports professionals to estimate the risk involved in looking somewhat responsible as a program.

Tebow should have received the "first half" suspension for his "everybody does it" quote.

Mudged twice:

Brag, I think that your assessment is a bit unfair. His only 1/3 of our federal govt. I agree that Obama should be viewed with a questioning eye, but our nation is on a war footing.

By moving this country into a war on two fronts, it was the Bush Administration that "spent the money." They created the potential of loss of national wealth, goodwill and lives. There is a narrow avenue through which Obama can drive this nation that meets with a majority acceptance of any action.

In my eyes and even more so, the economy is severely limited by the mistakes of the past. The corrections are "EXPENSIVE," but the cost should be assigned to those making the mistakes.

Again, emotionally, I am with you. Unfortunately, we have to work within the constraints of the governmental system.

I am very concerned that the Obama Administration is actively preparing for the commercial real estate meltdown. The Brits move to break up banks that have grown to be too big to fail was a really progressive step. Their willingness to accept that there is a terrible national risk to allowing mergers that squeeze the last infrastructure cost and labor cost out of the business is terribly risky for a nation.

The larger the number of totally viable and successful companies that exist in each business sector, the better off we all are.

As mega companies merge, they create a certain level of direct costs to the country and the mergers also ratchet up the related risks of mega-companies.

Of course, when you read the Post and their are actual references to voters saying that Obama is sending this country directly into socialism because of the number of Czars that he employs, then I just have to wonder about our future.

Biting into that thought is like taking a bite of a multi-layered cake of ignorance and stupidity.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:21 AM

Mo, don't forget the liquor stores. The state of Virginia needs everyone to drink a lot of booze.

Would you like an umbrella in your Mai Tai?

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:26 AM

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Words just can't describe how good it feels to be back! And neither can they express my gratitude of your kindness to me and my dad. I do thank you so very much for your kindness to me and mine, and for your prayers. This nightmare is still being played out, as I told Slyness, in my letter to her. The investigation is still ongoing. Perhaps we will hear something soon. I have missed not being able to talk to you guys, and with my situation as it is now I will need the comfort of friends, so thanks again. I do hope everyone is well and that life is good for all. I always continue my prayers for you guys no matter whether I talk to you or not. I know I need prayers, and I'm thankful for them. My dad seems to be okay, just horribly feeling out of place after years of living alone. We're making the adjustment. JA, thanks so much for the Achenblog, and for you and family. I hope my correspondance to you didn't offend, but I was trying to reach out, and did feel some fear. I'm hanging in there, and with friends like you folks at the Achenblog, life is sweet even with the bitters that sometime catch us unaware.

Have much to do, so I will leave you with this- I love you all. And thanks again.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 5, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I always thought we could solve the terrorist issue with either a solid police action or Mike Ditka, Jim McMahon and Mike Singletary.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Almost forgot....

Ivansmom, thanks a bunch.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 5, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra so glad you posted, big hugs to you and your father, and sending some extra strength to help you through the tough times, as well as a fax full of love.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, sorry about everything, but you just made my day seeing your post!

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Broadstreet bullies would probably be helpful in the terrorist fight, russianthistle.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Bears. I had a pet bear once (A Malayan Sun Bear). There was a war going on a few miles up the road. I didn't take Lily (it was a she bear)to war with me, but when I returned, we would share a beer.

Eventually, I had to donate it to a French zoo. Lily who knew how to open doors, got out of the cage in the Air France 707 taking her to her new home, entered the cockpit of the freighter and started hugging the three man crew. It also stepped on the fuel cut off levers.

The jet circled for three hours over Paris until the flight engineer shooed the bear off with a rolled newspaper and managed to keep the cockpit door closed.

This proves that bears can also be terrorists.

Brag :-)

Posted by: Braguine | November 5, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, so good to hear from you. We've all missed you terribly! When I started to read "God loves us..," my heart leapt! You and your dad have all my best wishes and prayers.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 5, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse


So glad to see you posted. Sending lots of love and peaceful vibes to you and your dad.

And some Boodle mojo (it's been known to help with all sorts of things).


Posted by: Moose13 | November 5, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra! So good to hear from you! My prayers (and Raysdad's) are still with you and your dad.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 5, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra! Great to hear from you. Always good to hear a good word.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

CASSANDRAAAAAAA!!! :-) *HUGSSSSSSSSSS* Continued best wishes to you and your dad!

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Cassandra -- it's great to see you here!! It's just not the Boodle without you.

Posted by: -bia- | November 5, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how long my "Send in the Clowns" tune cootie will last.

I'm sure a more talented boodler than I could come up with some great "Send in the Bears" lyrics. Anyone?

Posted by: -bia- | November 5, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra! Great to see you back.

In reference to the bears. (Who, to the best of my knowledge really were bears and not cunningly disguised special ops forces because you never can tell.) The notion of attack bears isn't really as insane as it might sound. I mean, the military has a history of using animals for various applications. Dogs, dolphins, bees, rats, bats, and even elephants have been employed. (Granted, that last one was quite a while ago.)

Of course, there are ethical issues with putting animals in harm's way that restrict some of the more cavalier applications. At least in more recent years. (For exceptions, please reference Bomb, bat) But still, millions of years of specialized evolution can sometimes come in quite handy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Never underestimate the importance of reading a piece of writing out loud. Granted, it makes my coworkers grumpy. But perhaps that's because I often throw in dramatic gesticulations just for fun.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: seasea1 | November 5, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back Cassandra.

We are looking for "a good home" for a few tens of thousands of suburban coyotes. We can add them to the bears, wolves and pythons air drop.

LiM, I think the militant will do OK with the virgins. The number and quality may suffer but there is nothing intrinsically impure about the bears. The situation would be completely different if they had been torn apart by dogs or wild pigs though.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

And horses! Let's not forget horses! Although riding into battle on bears sounds way cooler.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

CASSANDRA!!!!!!! *hugs*

brag - is that bear story really true?

reposting from old kit:

ok - i'll admit why i didn't vote for gov - didn't like mcdonnell's history on women rights and deeds did nothing to prove he was the better choice - just like RD said.

bh - virginia is a bad state to ask about gov vs non gov jobs - a HUGE percentage of ppl work in the gov here - they even drive from rova (stafford, manassas) - i even know some guys that drive here from westbygodva and DELAWARE... dc is where the $$ is at... you gotta remember - it's not just the white house or the dept of defense, it's also dept of transportation, commerce, state dept is HUGE, very many federal jobs in dc...

AND WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO THE YANKEES TAKE IT AGAIN!!!!!!!! I LOVE THE YANKEES!!! sorry snuke and mudge but ya know that i am a die hard yankee fan!

Posted by: mo | November 5, 2009 10:18 AM

Posted by: mortii | November 5, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

CASSANDRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She''s ba-a-a-a-ack!

In the last kit Weed said this country was on a war footing. I don't wanna get into a fight with him, but can I suggest we are only on a war tippy-toe?

And be that as it may, if we adopt Joel's weapons of ursine destruction idea, then maybe we'd be on a war pawing. I assume the bear was a Blackwater contractor? Even if not, they'll probably submit an invoice.

*busily scribbling a new Grim fairy tale, "Goldilocks and the Three Counter-Terrorism Operatives"*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Didn't that crazy detective that used to appear on Imas advocate dipping our bullets in pigs blood so militants killed by them would receive the virgin welcome? His theory was then the militants would avoid our soldiers.

Posted by: bh72 | November 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Whaddya mean not on a war footing? I distinctly heard GWB tell us after 9\11 that the best thing we could do was to go shopping, and believe me, we as a nation have shopped til we dropped.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Do we have the right to arm a well organized militia of bears?
(with a nod to J. Fforde)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Actually, other "animals" are much smarter than us "human" animals. In slight advance of the tsunami which wracked* Indonesia and beyond several years ago, the elephants and other animals went to the high ground very, very swiftly. The humans went to the beach and said the equivalent of "cool" until it was too late.

"Dumb animals" (referring to the four-legged variety) my a$$!

*wracked -- in today's WaPo, there are any number of references to "racked" instead of the more proper "wracked" -- yeah, let's save some more money at WaPo (except for the executives, my dears) by not paying any attention to words and their import. And don't even *think* about grammar!

Okay, rant over.

Cassandra, this Boodle hasn't been the same without you! I'm faxing all sorts of good karma to you and your dad, to increase the resilience you need. And, of course powerful hugs (of the bear-hug variety without disturbing any of the cockpit people) to you both.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Well, isn't the right to bear arms pretty much the same as the right to arm bears?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Attacked by a stray father in your attic? Possibly a leftover from Florida's Feather War? Cue Doug Brinkley and Dayton Duncan.

Video clip in the link below...and as the copu says, "Great-grandmother, WTF? Just hope my grandmother, a hat trimmer in Danbury at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, wasn't up to her elbows in egret feathers:

Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Yes definitely bring in the beers. I need a good stiff drink.



Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, that's the internation transitory law of limbs.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

ftb - what was the article in which "racked" was used? b/c it is an IT technical term for seating a server into a rack... racking - racked...

Posted by: mortii | November 5, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Can't remember, Mo. I've seen it much too often, tho.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yay, Cassandra! I glanced at the blog and thought: What caused so many comments so fast on such a sleepy day? Only a Cassandra sighting could have done that. So nice to hear your voice again.

Posted by: joelache | November 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Maybe *it should be* American bears comprising our fighting forces after all? No war in winter when they hibernate? From the article on the WaPO's home page--and as the article points out, we have great tanks, planes and ships, It's the personnel who are the problem?:

About 75 percent of the country's 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for military service, largely because they are poorly educated, overweight and have physical ailments that make them unfit for the armed forces, according to a report to be issued Thursday.

Also, we lost a Marine this last week in Afghanistan. Remember when Obama went to Dover AFB in the middle of the night to salute the returning fallen? A South Texas soldier, 24-year-old Fernando De La Rosa of Alamo, Texas, was among them that night. As you may recall, the Griffin family of Terre Haute was the only family who would allow their son's casket to be photographed.

Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Last year, when Obama called Afghanistan a war of necessity, I thought he was just posturing to avoid the old weak on defence attacks. Obviously that was not the case.

Afghanistan is as much a war of choice as Iraq and as unwinable. This puts Obama deep in his own poo-poo.

You can find my articles on the Afghan situation in:


Posted by: Braguine | November 5, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear Cassandra's voice again!

Posted by: nellie4 | November 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Liz Kelly's newest Twits episode is up, and Caitlin is one of the actors.

If you can't remember, you'll have to rack your brain harder, ftb.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Oops. That Twits link:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

ftb, perhaps the WaPo plan is to save money not by eliminating editors, but by eliminating unnecessary letters, thereby shrinking article sizes and eliminating pages.

Posted by: tomsing | November 5, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

No doubt, Brag.

Without looking at your pieces, but I will at a later date (bookmarking now)... I am seeing what I expected out of a White House, even headed up by Obama.

Again, I blame Bush, moreover all the war hawk with whom he surrounded himself. Those guys should have to spend the next five years wearing ladies panties for what they have done. I am sorry, but only embarrassing them is good enough.

They moved the measure of reasonable behavior over so far that it is difficult to get back. Further, they are the ones (Like Kristol, who claim that "if Obama were to pull out now from (fill in the blank here), all sorts of damage would be done.

That logic flows through this paper as well. In my mind, that damage was done when we entered and then decided that it would be beneficial to get involved in the nation of (fill in blank again).

The mission creep has been of laughable proportions. The cynic in me says that Obama is waiting until he comes up with the best PR for the withdrawal justification.

BTW, I am thinking of a special pair of panties for Richard Perle. I love these guys!!! They were so talented that they could listen with their mouths.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

This is kind of sick and kind of cruel in a way, but I can't stop laughing-

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Supporting my hypothesis, w is an awfully wide letter, thus offering huge potential savings.

Posted by: tomsing | November 5, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Hi Cassandra, we're so very happy to see you here again. Stay strong!

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 5, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Could you work for Google?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

That *was* really good, kguy.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, if w goes m can't be far behind, tosing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Great post at 12:36, Brag. Thanks for the link to your Suppressed News. Truly a war of choice. And Weed, that moment of PR for the withdrawal justification would be?

And with this a.m.'s news that the UN is pulling out 600 of its personnel from Kabul... The situation doesn't look promising.

Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh the pretty snow that is falling to gently remind me I haven't put the winter tires on the cars yet....

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse


You're absolutely right about Krystol, Perle, Wolfowitz and the rest of the Neocons with delirium of grandeur.

They only read the bits of history they like and haven't lerned nuttin (nuttin = zilch) People who do not clean up after themselves are not sociably acceptable.

Maybe issue them bear suits and make them dance.


Posted by: Braguine | November 5, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Maddow had an interesting interview with Matthew Hoh last night. He's the guy who resigned from Dept. of State over Afgan policy-

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, welcome back!!! Let us know how your Dad is getting along.

Re: Sending in the bears. Might be good to drop a load of the stink bugs around the caves. We now have an infestation of these shield shaped insects in the DC area. And their smell is terrible. :-)

Please, please leave our little black bears along the Skyline Drive alone, they are constantly being harrassed by tourists with their cameras.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 5, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, Brag, I don't think the bears would appreciate it. I suspect that *they* wouldn't like those guys, either (except maybe roasted with some hot sauce).

tomsing, you are the *best* (along with all the other *best* people here).


Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Remember Giuliani's pal and Arbusto's nominee for Secretary of DHS?
"Bernie Kerik pleads guilty to eight federal counts"
He would have made a fine addition to that cabinet.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

In honor of Climate-Change Thursday (Global-Warming Thursday is so 2006), an article on an occasion in which it appears volcanism and global climate change really were what caused a mass-extinction event:

Of course, it was 460 million years ago, so this sort of thing does not happen routinely. The closest analog to bears at that time would have been giant marine scorpions. Well, scorpion-like organisms.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 5, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

This speaks for itself.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I may have to change my handle to Giant Marine Scorpion.

Posted by: Yoki | November 5, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

*Stinger* has a nice ring to it, Yoki.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 5, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

And in a related item-Casting Call for Slave Ladies!
An upcoming Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie called "Paul" is in production and needs Slave Leias for a Comic Con scene. The shoot is in Albuquerque, New Mexico in mid August. Email Casting Director Elizabeth Gabel at for more info!

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Men have come into my neighborhood. Men with giant blow machines and giant suck machines. All the yards 'round about us are losing their yard leaves, their gutter leaves, their porch leaves, their driveway leaves. Our men have arrived, they drag some of the leaves in great tarps into the woods. They battle the brown hills of leaves to reveal the beautiful fall green of the grass. The marvelous fragrance of the fall of the year, I love it.

For years I have missed the smell of the fall burning leaves; hope some of you can still burn your leaves and create the signature fall fragrance. Fall is spectacular.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 5, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

VL -- I remember from my childhood the smell of burning leaves, and I agree that it had an intoxicating (in a good way) aroma. Now, I'm just allergic to smoke of all kinds. Good to have had the memory, tho.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I love the smell of fallen leaves, and remember the leaves being burned - my mom had quite the incident after pouring lighter fluid on the leaves - no permanent damage just me with a lifelong fear of fire.

Very November day here, sporadic rain showers/downpours, blue sky mixed with big grey clouds, windy and cool. No snow yet but some graupel was just falling outside.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

One of my neighbors used to burn leaves, even though it was against the law. Awful smell. He has moved away, thank goodness.

Wish we had leaf sucking machines here. We have commercials exhorting us to keep the street drains cleared of leaves, but no leaf sucking machines or even street cleaners.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 5, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the link. It was interesting to see how Hoh behaved in an interview.
He didn't have much time to air his thoughts.

He is the first US gummint official to have shown publicly a clear understanding of the Afghan situation.

Maddov brought a good point. How do we help the Afghans to liberate the country from us?


Posted by: Braguine | November 5, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Cassandra. Best wishes for your dad.

The NY Times has posted a Sunday Magazine story on evidence-based medicine by David Leonhardt. Looks good. His discussion of quality management in the business world brings up the familiar story of Japan after the Pacific War. Left unsaid was that Japanese industry was absolutely lousy at quality before and during the war, so improvement was urgent. It's no wonder that American experts were taken more seriously in Japan than in the US.

So far, in US hospitals, there's been little urgency and not many incentives for improving quality and/or lowering costs.

(Back to the Kit. Joel's absolutely right about revising and trimming. I'm not so sure about bears, which seem to be more forbearing than we usually suppose).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Great to see you again, Cassandra! The boodle isn’t the same without you.

Hey, I am nearly fully recovered from an emergency laparoscopic appendectomy performed the early morning hours after Halloween. Talk about tricks! Most of my care givers were in costume which was very fun but strange when on morphine. I had the likes of Clark Kent, Superman, Betty Bop, a she-devil, and, some real doctors with real masks who did a superb job.

I was wheeled through a dark OR suite at 1:30 AM to a cold but brightly lit OR room onto the flat as a board OR table (scary even when not Halloween) ) and recovered as the only patient in the PACU (recovery room). The whole thing was surreal until I glance at my abdomen and try and stretch too far. But even then, they used a type of super glue to close the little incisions! No more suture removal and minimal scarring. And I’m already walking around the block.

For those who aren’t cringing or who know about this from FB or who have had similar recent experiences, my episode reflects some of the great leaps forward in health care! I am already working a few hours remotely and will be back in the office by Monday. I was in the hospital less than 24 hours which was fine with me with all the bugs going around. And while I’m sure still a chunk of change, it is far less than the cost of 6 weeks OOO and days in the hospital, etc.

I am also thankful for the grace of God.

Posted by: Windy3 | November 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Very glad to see you're up and about, Windy!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm less glad to see there are those who really seem to be saying, "I've got my health care, so nothing's wrong"...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanjks, Scotty!

While I am not sure about all the ramifications of health care reform (is anyone?)Obama has been right to face it head on and force all or most of us to do something about it. While my experience is positive in so many ways, Daveofthe Coonties is right that we are not taking evidence-based medicine far enough outside of the box thinking. Healthcare reform is complicated but we must continue down this new road. We must.

Posted by: Windy3 | November 5, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess the somewhat good news is that AARP has come out in support of the House bill. Maybe that will help allay some of the nonsense that has been spread around by the nay-sayers.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 5, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Along those lines, the one thing that I think is hugely funny except for the fact that it is critical today is the concept of some sort of trigger to fire off a public option (medicare for all) program if things got "really bad" or even, as I heard it explained, if the private insurance companies fail to provided health coverage to the American people.

Hmmmmm. where do we trigger?

40 million? 45 million? 60 million?

Let's see.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The Koch family heard you; pulled out their wallet; found a couple more million dollars and said no.

It's coming from everywhere... even the Heritage Foundation.

Ooops, I was going to say, not the Cato Institute, but there too.

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

Hello, Cassandra - so good to see you back.

Windy - that sounds like a painful Haloween trick, for sure. I'm glad you're OK.

Those militants should have known better than to laugh at that bear even though he was wearing a hat, a big Elizabethan collar and was dancing on a big rubber ball.

The getup was probably a giveaway that he wasn't local wildlife and might have been on a Western country's payroll (Filed under Brown Ops, I'd guess. Or Grizzly Ops. Ahem.).

I am avoiding the Men's room down the hall, as apparently it is the scene of a Volcanic Mass Extinction event as well.

(Hey, at least I didn't spell it ExStinktion. Or capitalize that A. Scottynuke, I see you snorting over there...)

No one will confirm if that bear actually played for Florida when he was doing the ROTC thing...


Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I was nowhere near that rest room, bc...

Not under my real name, anyway.

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

Well, geez, AARP *better* be in favor of some kind of plan. If the geezers ever have to start picking up anything like their fair share of health care expenditures, the wailing will be heard beyond Heaven & Hades!

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

Glad to see you, Cassandra! Hope you're doing well in recovering.

I've been too busy to boodle for a couple days-- which is too busy, of course.

That said, "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!" (Bears of war?)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Oboy... Apparent mass shooting being reported at Fort Hood, TX, with several fatalities...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Something's going on in Texas. Shootings at Fort Hood Army Base- 7 dead and 21 wounded. Reports are sketchy. Shooters said to be in uniform.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

That's 12 wounded, not 21. Apparently one person is in custody and another is being sought. This from NBC-

The Army official would not give [the suspect's] name nor additional details. It was unknown whether victims are soldiers or civilians. One gunman was reportedly in custody and another was on the loose, NBC News said. A third shooter may be involved, according to NBC News affiliate KCEN, which said the person had opened fire on the SWAT team at the base.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

fakeapstylebook has a comment on racking vs wracking.

"Racking" and "wracking" are interchangeable unless the nerves have literally been put on a medieval rack. There, use the w.
9:14 AM Nov 4th from web in reply to written_bliss

So... that would be nerwe-racking then?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse


I'm so glad Cassandra has contrived a way to talk to us again.

Awful things in Texas.

I told a friend (long ago) who plays the accordion I hate it. She posted this, and now I don't hate the accordion.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 5, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

So good to hear from Cassandra! Keep checking in, friend!

Windy, ouch. I'm glad everything went well and you're on the road to recovery. Did the need for the surgery occur out of the blue?

Sad, sad, about the news from Ft. Hood. When I first remember my uncle the career Army officer, he was stationed there.

Posted by: slyness | November 5, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I went to first grade in the Post Elementary School at Fort Hood.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Jumper - Dang! That lad can make that thing sing, can't he?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 5, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Sad, sad thing at Ft. Hood. That sort of thing probably wouldn't happen if there were more bears on post.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 5, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Now 20 injured, two suspects captured, four SWAT injured, one policemen among those dead. Don't know if there's a third or more shooters loose.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison saying a general at Hood has told her as many as 30 wounded.

Unconfirmed reports now that shots are now being fired at two different housing complexes on the fort. Sounds like there's still shooters loose.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Reuters covering some back-end Moody's-related crime.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 5, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jumper1 | November 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

12 dead, 31 wounded, one suspect dead, two other suspects in custody. Base still on lock down. Yes, one police officer (civilian) dead. Watching news conference from Ft. Hood.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 5, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Commanding Gen. Cone says one shooter shot dead, he was a soldier. Two other soldier suspects captured. 12 dead, 31 wounded. Dead policeman was from Ft. Hood (city, civilian) police force, not an MP.

Location was the Soldier Readiness Facilty, also known as the Old Sports Dome.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 5, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

sounds like unsettling stuff in the boodle... haven't been watching the news today... down with a bad cold...

but Joel, hilarious kit once again. Thanks for the good chortle!!

Posted by: MissToronto | November 5, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Terrible news from Ft. Hood. That community (Killeen) was also the site of one of the previous largest mass killings when that guy shot up that Luby's restaurant 20+ years ago.

I don't know if anyone saw the latest report that many of the Wall Street banks received big doses of H1N1 vaccines in amounts greater than many of NY's hospitals.

Part of me thinks that it's a little media frothing and not a huge deal since that that type of distribution is probably part of a proper public health response. The other part doubts whether those banks employ significant-enough numbers of at-risk people to justify their allotments (I believe Morgan Stanley received 1,000 doses, which they subsequently donated to some hospitals or public health organizations). No adult seems to have conducted a thorough review of NYC's distribution plans.

The governmental response to H1N1 is starting to feel a little like a slow motion Katrina. Granted that is a somewhat stressed metaphor, but they are both foreseeable large-scale events requiring a lot of governmental coordination, communication and planning to prevent death and injury to vulnerable populations. It seems like the swine flu response may just be a little incompetent whereas the Katrina response was either a lot incompetent or maybe every borderline malevolent/criminal. But it certainly makes one wonder what would have happened if this virus turned out to have even remotely similar virulence and mortality as the 1918 Spanish flu.

Posted by: Awal | November 5, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Are you advocating socialist medicine, Awal?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Jumper that acordian link is fantastic - love that piece of music as well. Thanks

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Awai -- I share your feelings, but I think it's also wise to consider that it isn't the government's fault if the manufacturers of the vaccine didn't do *their* part. The entire world has been caught up in the H1N1 mess and (1) there are only so many manufacturers; (2) we don't know what the world priority of vaccine dissemination is (our own ethnocentricity notwithstanding); (3) we don't know why the manufacture and dissemination has been so slow; (4) remember that several years ago, in regard to the "regular" seasonal flu demands for that vaccine, the manufacturers brewed up an unresponsive vaccine; (5) other issues.

The knee-jerk response mechanism that says that the government is at fault in the first instance does not necessarily apply here. Of course, I would be the first to jerk my (good) knee if GWB were still "in charge" (*snort*).

I'm just happy that I am not in a high risk (or even medium risk) category. With my back and my knees I wouldn't be able to stand in line for more than around 6-7 minutes anyway.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I didn't refresh before my last post, seems so out of place with the updated news from Texas, so very horrific.

There was interesting article I read the other day regarding the vaccines used in the US vs Canada, different formulations, our vaccine has the ability to be produced quickly - yet we still have stories of shortages - whether not enough vaccine or just poor distribution systems I am not sure. The disturbing end of the story was that in time we may find one country employed the correct method for the vaccine, who that will be is still undecided. Hoping both countries will succeed with their different strategies.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Hurrah Cassandra is back. I'm sorry I've had trouble connecting with you on the phone. I'll try again.

Windy, gosh, what a surprising surprise for Halloween. I'm glad technology made that better.

I thought of the Boodle this afternoon when I listened to Gene Krantz, flight director for Apollo 13, speak at a luncheon. It was fascinating. He had clips of Ed Harris as him in the movie, pictures taken live during the ciris itself, and lots of pithy comment. He showed us a diagram of something they had the astronauts rig at one point with spare parts, duct tape and a sock. It was definitely The Rigth Stuff.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The youngest son of my lifetime closest friend from Bakersfield served two tours in Iraq, as I've mentioned. He's completed the first round of basic helicopter training in Alabama and will be transferred for more training this month of November to Fort Hood. Just getting news of the shooting rampage.

Wondered if anyone would mention the doses of the swine flu vaccine going to the big firms on Wall Street, as reported this morning on NBC's Today show.

There have been deaths here in young people from H1N1. There was a call for volunteers to administer the vaccine in the largest school district. Then voila, almost overnight, NBC affiliate WOAI announces that San Antonio will get $3 million in stimulus funds to pay for the vaccine. Lately, that $3 million is being referred to as a federal grant.

The plan was to inoculate the elementary and junior high kids first, but two doses must be administered 30 days apart. But San Antonio couldn't get any significant quantity of vaccine, so the plan was altered so that high school kids who only need one injection would be vaccinated first. Except that we still couldn't get vaccine in any significant quantity, although other locations around the state did. Now, we've received 29,000 injections, all of which have gone to large clinics and private practices. No mass public inoculation.

And the $3 million? Last I heard, it was going to be used for a public awareness campaign, even though the CDC ads air on TV, and media has reported endlessly on the need to cough into one's elbow and wash one's hands regularly and thoroughly. What a waste of money. The local health district should return it to the feds.

And WOAI reported briefly not very long ago that a woman died here in town two weeks after giving birth. Haven't heard much else. There's seems to be a real clamp down in Alamo City from news outlets--or it it Bexar Metropolitan Health?--about deaths caused by swine flu.

Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I never read anything about whether or not flu vaccines were allotted intelligently or what. Seems to me those who deal with public more should be preferred even if that only means the vaccine locations should be selected on that axis but otherwise free to who shows up.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 5, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse


I guess I'm not advocating socialized medicine per se, but isn't this really more than "medicine?" It seems to me like this falls under something closer to "essential government function" and is a test of those responses that were built up (and paid hundreds of billions for) after 9/11 in anticipation of the "inevitable" bio-weapons attack. There was a lot of talk about pandemics in the early part of this decade. Although I don't think that anyone really seriously thought of the flu as a potential bioweapon, I have to assume that the 1918 outbreak was extensively studied as one of the only true pandemics that this country has ever experienced. One would have assumed that appropriate public health structures would have been put in place for the distribution of scarce vaccines/antidotes/antibiotics. The other thing that seems strange from a public health standpoint is that there doesn't seem to be any real effort to track the spread of this flu. All the people I know who have sought medical attention for it have been told by their doctors that they weren't taking samples or bothering to determine if they were truly infected with honest-to-goodness H1N1. It seems like we're missing a great case study opportunity for pandemics and disease transmission--without having to count dead bodies.

I felt this same way a couple of weeks ago with that Northwest plane that was out of touch with the controllers for 60-90 minutes. Why wasn't there an immediate planned response? We spent other hundreds of billions to make the air transit system safe, and after 90 minutes of not talking to a plane, they hadn't even scrambled the Air Force. This was the exact same scenario as 9/11, and we aren't even equipped to prevent it!!!

I know this is shocking, but I'm beginning to suspect we aren't any safer on 10/5/09 than we were on 9/10/01--just trillions poorer.

Posted by: Awal | November 5, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

A close friend of our family is an Army captain who was stationed at Ft. Hood until last Friday, when he transferred to Ft. Benning.

The 36-year-old woman and mother of two small kids who was the choir director of my wife's church died this morning of pulmonary complications from swine flu.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 5, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, hundreds of folks here have had it, if not thousands, and several have died. What they told us all to watch out for was exactly those secondary infections: sinus, ear or pneumonia. Lots of people had a long-lasting, debilitating but relatively mild flu, followed by a sudden much worse secondary infection. They can fix all of those, but they need to catch them quick. Fortunately the Boy's was a sinus infection. They insisted on seeing him the same day he "got worse" after being "better" - that is,showed symptoms of the secondary infection.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The Bush/Clinton 'debate' at Radio City Music Hall has been canceled. The reason? Too much hype.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 5, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

New Kit - the AchenBob Diavlog, or whatever it calls itself. Alas, and I never got to comment on the bears. I was charmed and impressed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

In light of Curmudgeon's comment above and in the interest of clarity, I wasn't being intentionally flippant with my comment about "without having to count dead bodies" and meant relative to 1918, not absolutely.

Posted by: Awal | November 5, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I've read much of your work and find it to be remarkably intelligent and insightful. I hardly ever read blogs and seldom comment but need to say that I can't imagine you reading much of this inane drivel in the comments section.

Posted by: horkwurst | November 5, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Glad The Boy is hale and well. We're being told up here to stay home if we're sick with anything remotely flu-like and to practice hygenie.

Hopefully that will help reduce spread of colds, etc. as secondary infections. Brrr.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Awal, I agree-- I've often said that bioterrorism is a top reason to have some kind of health care reform in place.

My cheek was being tongued, because you were talking about WALL STREET buying up those vaccines. They'd call what you suggest "socialist."

Nobody remembers WWII anymore and how America came out of it economically stronger.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Gut morninckzz, ye Boodlers. Roaring off into a clear but cold dawn.

Today, I'm after an inspiring story to offset otherwise depressing news.

Something like guerilla warfare against the Hollywood moguls who feed us trash and opress indy producers.

stay tuned.


Posted by: Braguine | November 6, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company