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Helping Haiti

[Happy MLK Jr. Day! I'm off today but am doing what I usually do on an off day, which is come into the office to putter around and water my three new can't-kill-'em plants perched on top of a bookshelf that makes my new cubicle roughly 2 percent more private and office-like. Now if I can just stack up files and boxes along the edges of the desk I can start to achieve bunkerdom.]

[FYi, I'm going to add to the Achenblog 5-year anniversary kit.]

Here's my story today on Haiti.

Just a week ago, Haiti was covered by a single American foreign correspondent from a major news organization. Americans' knowledge of Haiti was limited to a few images and stereotypes. Like boat people. Voodoo. And, of course, disaster. Now the great gulf between America and Haiti, a chasm greater than the 700 miles that separate the western end of the island of Hispaniola from South Florida, has been bridged by a vast outpouring of compassion.

The power of television has brought home the intensity of Haitians' suffering. It would be an exaggeration to say that we're all Haitians now, but for the moment, Haiti's not alone.

The question is, what will happen in two months? Two years?

"I worry that when the cameras go away, you know, people will start looking away. Right now it's a dramatic story. It's Haiti on its knees," said Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-born author who lives in Miami and has been anxiously waiting for news from her relatives.

Americans care about Haiti -- but how much they care and whether they will care in the months and years to come are questions that can only be answered with the passage of time. Amy Wilentz, a journalist who has written extensively about Haiti, takes a jaundiced view: "We only like them when they're dying. That's when we care."

Perhaps this catastrophe is so big that it will permanently transform the relationship between Americans and Haitians. Not all disasters are created equal. On television we see Haitians clambering over bodies and coping with the intensifying stench of corpses. We see bodies buried in makeshift landfills without so much as an identifying snapshot. It's like Hurricane Katrina, only much worse.

So it was, Sunday morning, that compassion arrived at the Haitian embassy in Washington -- and pretty much inundated it. Word had spread on the Internet that the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee needed donations of clothes, medicine, batteries, diapers, baby formula and so on. The start time was set for 11 a.m., but people began showing up at the embassy on Massachusetts Avenue NW more than two hours in advance. By noon, the bags of donations had stuffed the old mansion to the rafters.

A chain of people passed the bags up the staircase, where they piled up in an elegant dining room. Hundreds of volunteers diligently sorted shirts from blouses, folding everything, stacking, and trying to stay ahead of the incoming bags.

"We're out of boxes!" someone shouted.

"It's not a complicated story," said Deepak Marwah, 29, a consultant who answered the call for help. "This is about humanity."

"When are they going to lose our attention span? Probably the next news cycle. Who remembers the earthquake last year in China?" asked Cathy Kohn, a Bethesda housewife whose middle-school daughter was among the volunteers at the embassy Sunday.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 18, 2010; 11:48 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Five years of the Achenblog
Next: The past isn't even past


News cycles are news cycles. Such is the nature of the news business.

Even so, it's possible to create a Haiti-awareness page on the WaPo website, and make it someone's job to update it periodically with a link on the front page. Could be compelling, even months or years later.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

FYI, I added some more links to that anniversary kit, and will continue to do so in the next day or so. It takes a while to plod through the archives.

Posted by: joelache | January 18, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BlogStats | January 18, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Oops, looks like Joel beat me.

Heh-heh, I always wanted to be able to say that.

Posted by: BlogStats | January 18, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Joel, thanks for the update on today's activities at the embassy.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I suspect we will keep thinking about Haiti for a long time because the situation there will continue to affect us for a long time.

After the immediate humanitarian crises abates somewhat, we will have to deal with questions of immigration, not to mention just how much de-facto nation building we will be willing to support. These issues are going to be hard to ignore.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, RD. Precedent (China quake, Pakistan quake, SE Asia tsunami, Iran quake) says they are pretty easy to ignore, once the first wave of news-coverage abates.

Posted by: Yoki | January 18, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Rd_P: I agree. Immigration, infrastructure rebuilding, economic development, level of responsibility-sharing with other nations, dealing with corruption, etc.

And these issues are likely to be controversial, at least in the U.S. Given how some folks aren't so enthusiastic about helping Americans in time of need, I can imagine the disagreements about how much we should be helping others outside our borders.

But that's in the future. Today, the desire to help is real and its powerful. For that I'm grateful.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

In reference to this comment:
Amy Wilentz, a journalist who has written extensively
about Haiti, takes a jaundiced view: "We only like them
when they're dying. That's when we care."

I think that's not a fair statement. We have a similarly short attention span for all other issues, as well. For example -- it has been oft-noted that many values-oriented members of the American public care deeply about unborn babies, but don't find similar motivation on behalf of born babies, who should learn to fend for themselves. Our heartlessness extends to more than Haitians.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 18, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

That list of Best Of Achenblog posts includes the Maureen Dowd Samizdat article that nearly destroyed my life.

I've been Dowd-free for 24 days now (less one little slip on her birthday). Just grant me serenity to live life one day at a time.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | January 18, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

And the NYT is thinking of reinstating a pay wall.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | January 18, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, Mo_MoDo. If that's what you want, go for it!

I myself have been totally MD-free for several months. I'll let each make his/her own decision on that, but it was the right choice for me.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

And digging into the archives, the 'Katrina, From Kobe' post has more than a little whiff of deja vu to it.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Okay, right above all the Haitian-relief stories, and stories of continued or growing Haitian horror, is this floating headline:

"Can Leonsis bring magic to the Wizards?"

Please, please, tell me this was an HTML coding error that will be fixed right soon.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 18, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

It now reads "Refugees flee Port-au-Prince as security deteriorates" which is hardly less grotesque, but more appropriate.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 18, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

*Tim... there are so many "I'm more important!" headlines and banners on the Post front page that soon the real headline will be below the fold.

Once you've put up more than one "Breaking News" banner, I stop looking at any of them.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't yet here when the Rovestorm occurred so I clicked on it to investigate. OMG, no wonder it's the point of reference for every bunker-worthy Kit. Was this when you all built the bunker?

Posted by: badsneakers | January 18, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh! You mean it was the headline? Whoa... that is bad.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 18, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I think the term 'forgotten' is a gross oversimplification of human psychology, international trade, and various policies. On a personal level we engage with tragedy to different degrees depending on personal connections, but also on how much assistance we perceive is required and whether we can deliver it. If we came across a car crash, we would react differently if the occupants were adults vs children, or if we were first on the scene vs the paramedics already being present. Haiti's earthquake draws our response because of the enormous damage, loss of life, and increase in human misery.

The need is obvious and immediate, so most of us can fathom contributing at least in a small way. We don't forget, but once the emergency has passed, without some personal connection, we are unable to brood on the day to day reality no matter how bad. We just can't spend our days contemplating all the suffering in the world and live. At some point we have to assume that those responsible have taken charge and move on. Some may continue to support this cause but many will go back to supporting whatever causes seem right to them. I don't think it is a moral failing, it is a human limitation. Knowing and caring for _every_ sparrow is outside our power.

Which brings us to policy. A couple kits back a HuffPost article was linked that essentially faulted America for Haiti's destruction. This fails largely because it makes about as much sense as crediting America with saving Haiti with the hundreds of millions of aid dollars pumped in. It treats America as if it had a single purpose and will when, like all nations and especially the democracies, it's really an aggregate of people, interests and policies. Plenty of nations have been involved in Haiti that could get this bouquet and brickbat treatment. But there is an important message in there. The developing world has long complained of agricultural protections stifling or destroying local agriculture. Tight immigration policies constrict the most obvious safety valve for an overpopulated and poor country (emigration and remittances). And then we pour aid money in by the millions. A lot of this aid fail to improve things because of the contradictory policies which have valid domestic purposes.

So the question is not so much about forgetting, but about what are we willing to give up, not personally in cash, but politically. Are we willing to provide Haitian industries with trade protections until they are competitive? Are we going to give up living space and jobs to new immigrants? It's not obvious to me that assistance on this scale has ever seriously been considered. It may be necessary.

Posted by: qgaliana | January 18, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"Especially the woof." Nice.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 18, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Yes, bad, that was when we built the bunker.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article yesterday about how humans relate to suffering - we do much better on an individual level than on a mass scale:

I hope the food and water distribution gets worked out soon in Haiti. Incredible obstacles there.

Posted by: seasea1 | January 18, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Air Force could air drop small 1 day Food/Water parcels of about eight pounds weight using inexpensive plastic sheet and twine parachutes to the people of Haiti. The parachutes and twine would make serviceable tents and the plastic water containers can be used to carry and store clean water when water facilities are in place. A C-117 Cargo plane could carry and drop about 18,000 individual parcels per load. It would take 160 flights per day to supply 3 million people. It would supply everyone with food and water without putting aid workers in danger. It would be impossible for criminals to black market very much of the aid. It would stabilize Haiti and help restore order. Why is this effort not being undertaken? Haiti is slipping into anarchy and the people who should already have started an air drop are dithering. Someone dies every 15 seconds in Haiti because they can't find what they need to survive. The United States can turn that around if our politicians commit to this massive coarse of action. It will remove the bottleneck from aid delivery. In four weeks, Haiti would be calm and orderly and the other ngo's and countries with help to give, could move forward without danger. As their work gained traction, the air drop could be wound down to termination. The Allies supplied West Berlin for almost a year with thirteen thousand tons of supplies per day. Haiti needs about 12,000 tons a day, but the planes don't have to land in Haiti. Much less strain on air crews and planes. What say you, America?

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel added the Carbucks kit. How could I have forgotten that one. I think of it every time I fill a travel mug.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the thoughtful post, qgaliana.

With respect to trade, I believe about 70 percent of all Haitian exports end up in the US now. This is mostly textiles and agricultural products, and amounts to peanuts in the US balance of trade figures (maybe a half-billion US dollars?). I don't think any new trade policies need be enacted for this to continue.

Immigration is a thornier issue and I have no idea how that may play out.

I view the issue not as a matter of how fast will we forget or what are we willing to give up. I see it first as what are we willing to learn about ourselves, at a personal level, a community level, a nation level, and a humanity level.

If in the earthquake's aftermath we (on all those levels) respond pretty much as we have in the past, we'll probably not see much of a change in the outcome from what we've seen before.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Syman: The air drop idea was considered by the Obama administration. The determination was it would add to the chaos rather than alleviate it. For more info, please check the following link.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Note to Mudge, Olivia Wilde is currently speaking to the CBC News Network - she is auctioning off her gown to raise money for Haiti.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

dmd: I read 100% of what gets from their celebrity items auction is going to support the work of a doctor who's been in Haiti for years.

I think Olivia Wilde's GG gown is part of that auction.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Sec. Gates is correct about air dropping highly concentrated palletized aid. What he says should not be done is putting a high concentration of aid in a small area. That always leads to riots. That's the problem now with truck loads of supplies.

That is not what I am suggesting. Aid should be snow flaked all over the capital and the other areas in Haiti where it is most in need. Low concentration distribution, a single load of 18,000 separate eight pound food/water parcels, each with it's own little parachute, being dropped over large areas (hundred of acres of the city) is the solution to the riot problem and the black marketing of the aid.

The goal is to blanket the entire city with millions of individual parcels every day. This would not lead to riots. This would get the food and water to everyone city-wide and would immediately calm things down. It will take about 160 plane loads a day, everyday to supply Haiti with a minimal amount of food/water aid.

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that is what she said. She also mentioned she had just returned from Haiti before the quake hit.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Glen Bell. The original Bell Grande...

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Taco Bell restaurant-chain founder Glen Bell Jr. passed away Sunday at the age of 86, according to Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell Corp. Bell's first venture in the restaurant business was in 1948, when he opened Bell's Drive-In, in San Bernardino, Calif., originally serving hamburgers and hot dogs, but later moving to differentiate the menu by adding Mexican fare.

"Once he perfected his taco shell recipe, taco sauces and the convenient drive-thru concept he was ready to introduce the tastes and textures of Mexican food to mainstream America," the Taco Bell statement said.

Taco Bell now serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in more than 5,600 restaurants in the U.S., the company said.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 18, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

syman with the city so densely populated and the area so devasted where would you find safe locations for the drops?

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

That is exactly the point. An air drop would drop these small packages everywhere! Everywhere is where the people are. They would see them coming down and landing nearby where they are. With thousands of them landing all around them, they would go pick up a parcel that lands near them. With millions of parcels landing all over the city each day, few people would fight over the parcels.

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I guess I fear people scaling crumbling buildings etc trying to retrieve the packages. Also there is an extreme lack of fuel does the military have enough to cover the flights? It is a good idea but logistics may be difficult.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Tim, your 1:16 was spot on.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 18, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

My tribute to five years of A-Blog at the end of the last boodle. One for the metal-heads.

Posted by: engelmann | January 18, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The crumbling buildings are the least of the problems the People now have to face. There is a lot of open space in the city not covered by anything. (Google maps Haiti Port-au-Prince lowest level satelite).

The planes would be flying from U.S. southern airfields round trip.

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Think of it as a televised scavenger hunt. We could get Mark Burnett to run Survivor Haiti. Each night there could be clues as to where the next drop is.

There could be a bonus round where one out of every ten survival packs contains a premium product from one of the show sponsors.

Or even better, we could get a radio station to pick up the tab for a live turkey drop. I see some real possibilities here.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

What the television has brought home is some truth about the situation in Haiti. Just this weekend, CBS News showed a dog in Eureka, Calif. in the Times-Standard newsroom who was caught on camera in a frenzy six seconds before the 6.7 quake hit--the dog sensed it. The story went on to say that it's not quakes that kill people (think of someone in an open field during a quake), but collapsing buildings.

The pictures also show something disturbing. They show the rescue teams going *first* to places like the United Nations building. the Hotel Montana, and aid distribution of food and water at a golf course, which happens to be Petionville, the exclusive neighboorhood of Port-au-Prince.

The televsision scenes also show lots of looting. I get looting of things such as food and water, but looting of T-shirts and other consumer products, as the rolling cameras depict. Where's the application of Cassandra's maxim that we treat others well? The cameras also show street violence, which never solves much of anything. Again, I think of Cassandra's maxim of the Golden Rule. And I think of the savages who live there. And Haiti's police?

If we're all out for Haiti in helping rebuild that will mean everything and untold billions: energy, roads, schools, infrastructure, policing, government, environmental cleanup and reforestation, feeding, medical, rules and regs such as the enforcement of building codes, just to name a few from the top of my head. I'm not for this type of nation-building, nor the cost invovled.

The news coverage also states that most of the damage is localized to Port-au-Prince, but there is a refugee problem to the outlying areas of the country. News coverage also conveys the fact that Haitians are not going through established checkpoints on the border with the Dominican Republic, but crossing unguarded, mountainous terrain, much like the family von Trapp. The press suggests that Haitians may take to the seas.

Has anyone noticved how wishy-washy the female op-ed columnist at the NYT are lately. Health care is so important; maybe the bill isn't worth saving or passing; Massachusetts votes must vote for Coakley, of only for her ideaology. Obama was MIA in addressing the underwear bomber, and too Spock-like; wasn't in great spending New Year's Eve with Janet N.; Obama should have gotten off the golfing links and the State Department couldn't get Mutallab's name right, spelling-wise; but hey, I'll just fly to California and report some stories from Hollywood and San Francisco.

Posted by: laloomis | January 18, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The savages who live there? As opposed to the savages in your neck of the woods?

Posted by: LostInThought | January 18, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't think a jury-rigged parachute made of a sheet of plastic and some twine is going to survive coming out the back of a C-117 at 150 knots airspeed. You'd wind up just bombing the population with 8-pound water bombs.

In any event, by your calculations we'd need 2.88 million of them -- every day. I'm not sure the jury-rigged parachute factory can gear up from scratch that fast.

The airplane you mention, the C-117, is the old "Skytrain," a.k.a. the old twin engine DC-3. There currently none in our inventoy. I'm guessing you meant the much newer C-17 III Globemaster. We have 192 in our inventory, scattered all over the country and the world. Many of them are doing other things; they can't all be ordered to assemble in Florida, and fly 160 sorties a day.

What with refueling, loading, routine required maintenance, and crew rest, you're not going to get more than one sortie a day per plane, and we don't have 160 planes sitting around with nothing else to do. (There's still Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). We don't have extra air crews sitting around so we can't "hot bunk" them by swapping out crews after each sortie.

Could we develop a "proper" parachute? Sure. Could we assemble everything and launch a Berlin airlift. Sure. Can we round up nearly 3 million ration units PER DAY over a period of some months? My guess is if we threw 100% effort into it, we could get it operational by mid-summer.

But it's gonna raise your taxes and I don't think the GOP will go for it. Even if they did, it would take three years to get it through Congress.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I heard Haiti only had about 4,500 police in a nation of 9 Mil, many affected by the quake - that they would be strained would be an understatement.

One of the Canadian ships will be off the coast of Jacmel, sending in aid to a badly hit city. The other will be in charge of the area just to the north of PauP. Since the port and airport in Jacmel the ship will be used to ferry personnel back and forth - godspeed to them and all the others going to help in this situation. More importantly hope for the people of Haiti, tired, scared, hungry and thirsty - can anyone expect them to be perfect at this moment in time.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I would imagine that neither buildings nor large numbers of trees fell on a golf course, which would probably make it a somewhat safe place to set up aid stations. Especially if you're trying to get people to stay *away* from the dangerous areas. Perhaps you have a better idea about where they should set up? You should give them a call....

Posted by: LostInThought | January 18, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Sure, there are plenty of savages here in Texas and San Antonio. They make the headlines in the paper and the top of the news each night.

Posted by: laloomis | January 18, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you should stop harrassing me.

Posted by: laloomis | January 18, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Or better yet, put everything on the table that you know about P-au-P and its suburbs. It's one thing to constantly--and I do mean constantly nitpick--and another to discuss and offer links.

Geez, I already compalined about your harassing posts addressing me to the ombudsman at least a month ago, but hey, there are no rules here for posting, no enforcement. Hey, is there even an ombusdman or anyone who relgulates the Wild West of posting at the Washington Post? What constitutes profanity? What constitutes a personal attack? Does "eff you Loomis" count? And it remains fromn several Kits back? I'm amazed. Why this Boodle and any enforcing mechanism for rules and enforcement is about as lawless a place as Haiti. The A-blog is truly a free-for-all.

Posted by: laloomis | January 18, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think LiT was just questioning the choice of the word 'savages' to describe impoverished people looting after a natural disaster. 'Savages' evokes the image of tribal groups living in a jungle. And even then it is about as antique a word as any Harry Reid uses.

As far as I know, the indigenous tribal populations of Haiti are small since Columbus essentially wiped out the original inhabitants of Hispaniola. Not being familiar with the local news of the San Antonio area, I'm not sure who in particular you are calling savages there either, but I bet they would object to the term as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

That post wasn't mine. Research, woman, research! (as you chastised others just this very day). And yes, I was taking issue with your use of the word savages, as YJ posted above. And yes, I'm not one to see something wrong and just keep walking...not my style.

You seem to consider youself an expert on just about every subject, whether it be Lincoln or disaster response or nation building. That someone else might know a thing or two, or even more than you, seems out of the realm of possibility in your book. But just because you think it doesn't make it so.......

Posted by: LostInThought | January 18, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Hi MsJs,

I hear you on Haiti exports but I would argue it is another of those situations of one step forward two steps back. Here's a quick back of the napkin calculation from the CIA world factbook: 2008 exports to US were 70.7 % of 498 million (346 million$). 2008 imports from the US were 34% of 2.107 billion (716 million$). Think about it: America made over 350 million off of Haiti two years ago - or would have if it wasn't sending it all back as foreign aid.

I'm not trying to knock America here. I expect every country has a proportionally similar balance of trade. But I think the big picture people are going to have to start juggling many more variables if they seriously want to get this country functioning on it's own.

Posted by: qgaliana | January 18, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

laloomis, I think you might consider putting the shovel down and look for a way to climb out, instead.

Your justifications smells a bit like Sunday-morning-on-FOX logic. You may very well have something good to say, but, for some reason, it seems to lay on the screen with much venom. It is pretty common in the Internet world.

I don't think that one needs to be stinging all the time. As we say on another site, the rule is that you have to make an argument. If you make a case, that should be good enough. If, indeed, someone did go to the post with complaints, that's quite telling. I'm pretty sure that folks don't normally do that. Possibly a bit of introspection is called for?

Posted by: russianthistle | January 18, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

My aunt, who passed away just a year ago, spent a lot of her later years wishing she had liked Glen Bell well enough to marry him when they were in high school together. "Taco Bell!" and then, "he asked me to marry him in high school!"

But she married the football player, instead.

Isn't that the way it usually is?

Posted by: nellie4 | January 18, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse


Experts on everything are not always bullies. I consider Joel someone who knows more about every subject than I. Same with Professor Irwin C. Corey.

Still, I enjoy listening to them both.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 18, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana: I get your point.

As for your reference to the 'big picture people', I hope you get asked to be on the big picture team.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

True, Weed. Curiosity, expertise, and a need to share doesn't make bullying.

Hectoring others for not caring or finding the information irrlevant, though, or posting information with remarks aimed to criticize others' behavior crosses the line from sharing to bullying.

Anger is not a good thing to take online; the delayed response and the unsatisfying arguments online tends to make anger worse and can be downright toxic.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

The people in the boodle are some of the kindest, biggest-hearted people I have ever met in my life. I'm unworthy to associate with them but they tolerate me anyways. They have forgiven hundreds of my transgressions of good taste and decorum because I am genuinely repentant when I offend.

You, on the other hand, despite being a charter boodler, have brought upon yourself nothing but ill-will and suspicion. Your personal attacks on other boodlers are vicious and vindictive. Your mean-spirited tirades towards a broad number of people here have created an animosity among even those that have not been subject to your arbitrary and capricious wrath.

More than once you have taken sabbaticals from this venue and returned in your typical style, which given a lot of historical reading I've done recently, is kind of endearing in its idiosyncratic way. Unfortunately, you inevitably take offense at some perceived slight or when someone attempt to engage you in genuine debate and lash out with personal attacks.

Newcomers must be perplexed at the harshness with which you are often treated given the sometimes innocuousness of the offending comment. But this is based on years of bad will and pattern recognition. Amazingly there are still people often willing to give you the benefit of the doubt until you inevitably revert to form.

I don't know how many other internet communities you belong to, but your behavior in other forums would have had your IP address and registration banned long ago. If you don't realize this, I feel all the more sorrow for you.

There is a golden rule and what makes it so golden is that it is often enforced unknowingly. If you feel like the victim of harassment and abuse, you probably are and for good reason. Call it bad mojo or chickens coming home to roost or karma, it is there and you have earned it.

Cry out all you want to the ombudsman or Joel or some other higher authority, but by all objective measures you are being treated fairly and well within the general criteria of WaPo standards. And if you don't believe me, take your act elsewhere and see how long it gets tolerated.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

MLKing Day observed. Here is my boodle contribution to mark that day:

"To hold your ground and be nonaggressive takes courage. Doing that doesn’t have to be called Buddhism. This is also what Martin Luther King taught. We are talking about the ideal of a 'beloved community'. Nobody is healed until everyone is healed." ~ Jack Kornfield.

We do not have to agree on policy. About word choice and sensitivity, however, we have community norms and guidelines that are bigger than the boodle or the WaPo. We would see them written about in style manuals for newspapers and other printed outlets. But mostly, the good sense is written in our hearts and comes from willing membership in the community of humanity. There, we learn and promise to use words with care and sensitivity. And, if we lapse, we listen to others about why the word is is insensitive. We learn. We apologize. We strive to write clearly and inoffensively.

Ok -- on to the next item. What is for dinner? I am thinking scallops in garlic studded oil immersion, under the broiler. Join me?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 18, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Can I bag that for you, Lady?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 18, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jumper1 | January 18, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Nellie: What a cute story! Thanks for sharing!

My m-i-l had a high school fling with a member of the Heath Bar candy clan way back when. She told me if she'd stayed in that small southern Illinois town she likely would have married the guy. But she wanted the big city and moved to TWC, where she met and married MrJS' dad. And I'm grateful she did.

Posted by: MsJS | January 18, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

RT, I truly do like listening to the experts. I rely on them for so many things. But some faux-experts and wannabe experts are easier to spot than others.

YJ, she might have a point. Buried in there somewhere. Yeah, I took issue with the word savage. She's explained the poor word choice. And you're right...someone asks me about a poor word choice, and I'm all 'dude. didn't mean it like that. thanks for the info.' as opposed to some long diatribe about ombudsmen and things I didn't write. There may be a cerain amount of fine-tooth combing of the posts, but mainly because there's never been any redemption, or even taking a shot at it. Always either pretends it didn't happen, or goes off on some tangent. If you steal once, I learn, and don't leave my wallet in other's easy reach. Steal twice, and I advice others to keep an eye on their wallets. Third time, I'm not taking my eye off the thief, regardless of whose wallet it is. You know?

I tried hard 1/1 to let there be a new beginning. Even said something light-hearted and funny (I thought) in that general direction. No go. So here I am.

But not for long....heading out the door in a few minutes. Have a happy night all. You too, laloomis.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 18, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

News flash: Haitians have been taking to sea for decades. When I lived in South Florida nearly twenty years ago, the image of groups of Haitians being rounded up on the beach by INS and local law enforcement was a weekly staple.

These are the most destitute people in the hemisphere living a short boat ride from one of the wealthiest nations in the world. A country where the rewards of hard work, even accounting for being cheated and abused from being forced to work in the underground economy, are worth risking your life in the most unseaworthy of craft.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Something less elaborate for us - habichuelas, house style (ie what's in the fridge). I fried up some fava beans with italian sausage and onions. Some pasta on the side and I think I have some romano cheese somewhere.

If this sounds unhealthy there are a number of boys in the house - they don't mind the starch and fat :-)

Posted by: qgaliana | January 18, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Dinner? Did somebody say dinner?

I have a lovely lean half-leg of lamb that is being marinated French-style and will be roasted; a bit of creamy white bean ragout and steamed bitter greens (a mixture kale, chard and spinach). A few very thin slices of the lamb won't hurt anybody, and the rest of the meal is very healthy indeed.

Posted by: Yoki | January 18, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

qgal -- sounds like the boys in my house would love what you are having. They are eating two-day old black bean chili from the crockpot -- with corn chips and a generous sprinkling of sharp cheddar...oh, behold the wonder of boys.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 18, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

LiT -- leaving the light on for you and the back door unlocked. Bring the cat in and mind that you do not step in the water bowl. Kitty pushes it around, just to keep us wondering about house and yard elves.

Yoki -- delish. Do you sauce the bitter greens or dress them lightly? I had lightly sauteed spinach yesterday, dressed with garlic and some dried raspberries....lovely and piquant.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 18, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Following earlier instructions, I looked it up and found this exchange from 2007 that explains a lot.

At least it illustrates beautifully what happens when anyone tries to treat laloomis like we treat each other in this space...


My father died 16 years ago today, Jan. 15, 1991--pretty much the day Gulf War I started.

[Gulf war post continues…]

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2007 10:07 AM

So sorry Loomis. The hole never gets filled, it just gets easier to disguise that you have such a giant one. May he be having a great day, wherever he is.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 15, 2007 10:18 AM


Please. I don't have a giant hole and I'm not trying to disguise anything. LostinThought, I think that you are doing a lot of presuming. He's not having a great day; he is dead. We think differently, you and I.

[More Gulf war posting…]

Posted by: Loomis | January 15, 2007 10:35 AM

Posted by: -TBG- | January 18, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

CqP, it sounds to me like those scallops need to be preceded by my baked vidalia onion soup appetizers. I'll be right over with a dozen.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge. I would love to have some onion soup right now. Maybe that's what I will have for dinner. Meetup with friends (some bearing cookies) at a place with soup, but I think I would prefer yours or mine. I can't seem to get soup with my onion soup there.

That or salad. or is it and/or.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 18, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I am powerless before anything Vidalia. Swooning. TBG, ready the fainting couch and wrestle up some smelling salts. If you can, waft me with the lemongrass ones. The last time you used peppermint; craved candy canes for a week, in July even.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 18, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Chicken dinner tonight for us. I like lamb but it's not easy to find here.

Lamb once a year won't hurt me; lamb daily might.

Good point, TBG. But she did say later on that her father was abusive, stingy, and controlling.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Scallops? Vidalia onion soup? I'm in!

We had chicken with lime butter and herbs. I didn't have any chives so I used parsley; it's better with chives.

I started to read through the Rovestorm and was puzzled. IIRC, I came on board the week of Katrina, but Rovestorm was in June. But I seem to remember at least one Rovestorm later. Oh well, my memory is shot and I'm not going to worry about it.

Posted by: slyness | January 18, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe her father was stingy and abusive; maybe that explains everything. But that's no excuse for the way she treated LiT for trying to be nice. Or the way she treats all of us here.

That's enough of this topic for me.

Off to pick up an elderly neighbor at the airport; her kids don't live around here and she has a hard time getting around alone.

Y'all be good!

Posted by: -TBG- | January 18, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I am not particularly surprised that the survivors of Port-au-Prince might violate all sorts of social norms and legal restrictions in their desperation. Haiti, by all reports (I have never been there) is a fairly desperate place in the best of times. This is not presently the best of times. Desperate times call for desperate risks and desperate actions.

My hackles are most definitely raised by the use of the term "savages." I can accept the word's application to individually identifiable persons who fit a dictionary definition of the term related to their demonstrable behavior. Its usual usage, however, is that it is used as an excuse for the truly savage to "improve the lot" of "savages" against their will and desire. Declaring the majority population "savages" is part and parcel of such brutal ethnocentrism and is repugnant to me.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 18, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

No, TBG. The past never completely explains a person's choices in the here and now.
I had my fill of this topic a few days ago.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I am having to cook outside my comfort zone. Normally my secret family spaghetti recipe calls for a jar of Barilla Tomato and Basil Sauce but we are all out. I'm having to substitute a can of Trader Joe Tuscano Low Fat Marinara. I hope this isn't to radical a challenge to my palate. Sticking with the whole box of spaghetti and the steamed broccoli.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -pj- | January 18, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

CP, I often saute my greens in some olive oil with garlic and chili flakes, but I wanted to eliminate any extra fat in the meal given that lamb is what it is. So tonight, just steamed, and dressed just before serving with some pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Posted by: Yoki | January 18, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Happy anniversary, your Achenblogginess! It's been an absolute pleasure to have met your acquaintance!

Scallops and Vidalia onion soup sounds just wonderful. My mouth is watering. Mmmmmmmm!

Posted by: -pj- | January 18, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

MsJs, thanks for the vote of confidence, btw. But I'm not gettin' picked for nuthin'. Unfortunately (or better yet fortunately?) I don't travel in those circles.

Posted by: qgaliana | January 18, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Good thing too, qgaliana, else you might get dizzy...

Just want to arrive late to the "Avatar" party and agree with the general consensus of it being a breathtaking wonder of melded motion-capture/animation/3-D without a trace of original writing or plotline. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 18, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, the boy is back in college. And with nice new curtains.

The reason I think Haiti may linger with us longer than, say, the disaster in China is proximity and regional policy.

As horrific as some more distant disasters have been, we haven't been much affected by refugees, which we certainly might with Haiti. Further, as a matter of government policy, we might end up much more involved in the rebuilding.

There are pragmatic concerns that go above and beyond humanitarian interests with Haiti. These might have more staying power in the public consciousness.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 18, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I think so too, RD.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | January 18, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

That word "savages" is ugly to me, too, something right out of "The Worst of the 19th and 20th Centuries."

Aside from the racist overtones, it hardly seems fair to me to apply it to beleaguered people who are in stress and shock and in danger of starvation and dehydration in the midst of such devastation; most desperate and dire circumstances. I have no doubt some of these people are scaping together any resources they can find to survive -- don't think anyone who's looting resources in order to do so under the circumstances is necessarily being 'savage' about it, either.

And a poor word choice, indeed.

I'm not expert on large-scale aid operations, but I think a golf course would be a good location to set up a large-scale food and water distribution site under the circumstances. Gold courses have large clear areas for crowds to gather away from rubble and debris and buildings in danger of further collapse, with room for government and aid authorities to address groups and organize and manage distribution of resources. Room to land helicopters and to transport and park large land vehicles to close to those groups when needed, too. Makes sense.

TBG, you're quite the researcher.

Joel, I liked your article (and thanks for reformatting as a Kit). I think we'll all remember where we were when we realized the scale of what's happening in Haiti.


Posted by: -bc- | January 18, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Olympic Torch just ran by my place. The flame at the top of the Calgary Tower was lit (which I also see) and the real torch ran down the block over with great hoopla. Fun!

Posted by: Yoki | January 18, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Your torch song is cool, Yoki.

Virtual dinner sounds great, and tastier than my Little Caesar's pizza take-out. Ah, fencing nights. Report so far: me, well. Boy, well. Ivansdad, still sick but actually got up and out of the house for a while. Rabbit, annoyed that I'm sitting here and she's in her cage.

As qgalliana (I think it was) mentioned, our attention moves from disaster to the day-to-day, but disaster remains in our consciousness. I still think of the people of Haiti, and am sorry that their post-disaster situation compounds an already bad situation. I agree with RD that proximity may keep our national focus on Haiti in a way that the Asian/Far Eastern disasters did not.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 18, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse


Anyone care for some Baskin Robbins ice cream? Pralines and Cream, too. We walked two miles to our favorite, locally-owned ice cream place this afternoon and found it shuttered for good. So sad. We trekked the two miles back trying to cheer up the kids, then we drove to BR.

As we have heard from Loomis time and again, in this forum and others, her life is riddled with difficulties of one kind and another. She has every right to be angry and to wallow in self-pity. I just wish she'd do it where I don't have to see it when I want to spend some time with smart, kind-hearted people.

Here's a song for you, Loomis...

Posted by: abeac1 | January 18, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to a new release on DVD this spring. It has Horses. Can it be as good as the first? I don't care. It has horses: "Flicka two"

Here's thinking of you Nani.

In a more something world, LL would have gotten something and something and...left us long ago and Nani would still be here

Posted by: omnigood | January 18, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Testing my recent theory, I dipped into another of Loomis's posts today, from curiosity, and apparently I was right - she's discovered that at heart the Achenblog is a humor blog! Once again she wrote a very funny piece. This was something about how everyone here is so mean and harassing and lawless. I'm afraid that because she's unused to the medium the comedy is still a little rough, but she shows real promise in this new, risible guise. I may have to read another of her posts again soon.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 18, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Yay for air drops:;featuredPost-PE

And Bill and Chelsea Clinton are in Haiti too.

Since we're on to food and things, I will add a fatuous gardening comment. We've had a few days of above average temps here, and today the sun came out. I lightly pruned some clematis and a rugosa rose, whilst smelling the daphne odora and noticing that some dark blue primroses are flowering. I hope we don't have any more cold snaps, but that would be unusual.

Posted by: seasea1 | January 18, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree that savages is an ugly word in this context. Of course, sometimes it's hard to tell when a word like that is being used out of malice or gross ignorance. Not that either one is pleasant to encounter.

Yoki, Hurrah for seeing the torch! I recall seeing the Olympic torch pass by my office on its way to Salt Lake for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

I don't remember that much about the Olympics, but I remember seeing the torch.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 18, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, you are a wise, wise woman. Better to be amused than annoyed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 18, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Faxing Onion Soup to share.

I made a huge pot today and have half left over.

Posted by: Pacifica | January 18, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Very cool about the torch Yoki, I really enjoyed seeing it when it went through here.

Love Onion soup, will gladly accept some.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Loved your post, Omni.

Posted by: abeac1 | January 18, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes omni -- wouldn't that have been wonderful?

Posted by: nellie4 | January 18, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Syman to Curmudgeon5 reference comments 4:49 pm
I want to take your concerns one at a time:


"I don't think a jury-rigged parachute made of a sheet of plastic and some twine is going to survive coming out the back of a C-117 at 150 knots airspeed. You'd wind up just bombing the population with 8-pound water bombs."

**A properly constructed parachute using 6 mil polyethylene, nylon cord and the proper fastening system packed correctly will easily stand the 150 knot ejection from the rear of a C-117, (and I was talking about the Globemaster III, but we'll discuss that in a minute). - syman


"In any event, by your calculations we'd need 2.88 million of them -- every day. I'm not sure the jury-rigged parachute factory can gear up from scratch that fast."

**If the will to manufacture 3 million parachutes is brought to bear, along with the needed resources, several facilities around the U.S. can work on making them at the same time and together they could be manufacturing one million parachutes a day in a week to ten days. Scaling up is the secret to mass manufacturing and in amounts that you would find hard to believe. Have you ever worked in an American factory? - syman


"The airplane you mention, the C-117, is the old "Skytrain," a.k.a. the old twin engine DC-3. There currently none in our inventory. I'm guessing you meant the much newer C-17 III Globemaster. We have 192 in our inventory, scattered all over the country and the world. Many of them are doing other things; they can't all be ordered to assemble in Florida, and fly 160 sorties a day."

**I did mean the Globemaster. It is reasonable to assume that 40 to 50 of them are available to be diverted to this type of air drop. Also, there are many other planes available beside the 117-C Globemaster III that can also be used in an air drop. It doesn't matter what plane mix is used to drop the aid.
- syman


"What with refueling, loading, routine required maintenance, and crew rest, you're not going to get more than one sortie a day per plane, and we don't have 160 planes sitting around with nothing else to do. (There's still Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). We don't have extra air crews sitting around so we can't "hot bunk" them by swapping out crews after each sortie."

**A Globemaster requires a crew of three. In the entire U.S. Air Force, there will be no trouble finding several hundred qualified 3 man air crews to do the flying.
Also, as a maximum effort, it won't be difficult to find the necessary ground crews and other support people to initiate, operate and maintain an air drop of this scope for a long time. Certainly longer than the 30-60 days it will take other care givers, ngo's, and countries to set up and lighten the load.
- syman

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I started with PBS' American Test Kitchen Recipe from this weekend, but I didn't pay total attention as I was doing all the lovely weekend chores. The cat-hair dust bunnies have declared victory and I wanted to win at least a skirmish

Onion Soup

half a ten pound bag of onions cut up
into a dutch oven with a couple tablespoons butter bake at 400. After one hour stir and return to the oven. Stir again each 15 mins for the next 2 hours or so. Scrape bottom and sides. The onions wilt and brown and reduce to a quarter or less of original amount.

Remove from oven; deglaze with a bit of water (I used chicken stock); cook on stove top until water evaporates, deglaze with sherry.

Add chicken broth; beef broth, water - total liquid 8 cups - scraping any last brown bits on the bottom. Spices - bay leaves; thyme, salt, pepper. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer & cover for 30 minutes.

Enjoy - I've finished all the good cheese.

Posted by: Pacifica | January 18, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse


"Could we develop a "proper" parachute? Sure. Could we assemble everything and launch a Berlin airlift. Sure. Can we round up nearly 3 million ration units PER DAY over a period of some months? My guess is if we threw 100% effort into it, we could get it operational by mid-summer."

**You are very negative about the viability of establishing a massive air drop of the type I have described. It shows that you lack the confidence to take on a large responsibility and then work hard enough to meet your goals.

I'm old school. I am an engineer, a manufacturer and a building contractor with 40 years experience. Until recently, the last ten or twelve years, the United States routinely accomplished goals like this, and it always took a lot of good people, working their butts off to succeed, but it was rare that the people of the U.S. failed to accomplish what they decided to do.

If I were asked to put this air drop program together and I was given the necessary authority and supplies, I'm pretty sure I would have one million parcels a day, ready to drop by the end of the first week. I'm pretty sure I could increase that rate a million units per week and that rate of production could be maintained indefinitely.

There is no lack of physical plant in the cargo handling logistics systems of the armed forces of the United States. There is only a lack of political will to do what is right and what you would want the U.S. to do if it was your wife or children or parents who were suffering in Haiti tonight. - syman


"But it's gonna raise your taxes and I don't think the GOP will go for it. Even if they did, it would take three years to get it through Congress."

**Some things are worth paying a little more tax to accomplish. Until recently, Americans were never stingy when it came to helping people in real trouble elsewhere around the world. Tonight is not a time to indulge our national selfishness. Only bad people can justify turning away from the monumental suffering of the people of Haiti.

Concerning the GOP, President Obama has the authority using an executive order to launch an air drop of this type and scope. He doesn't need congressional permission. The real problem is that the President doesn't yet have the moral brass to commit the country to it.

It is the lack of political courage and moral fortitude that keeps the United States from doing what is right. This would have been undertaken as a matter of coarse a few years back. I hope our people and our country find their moral compass before Haiti is lost to our world. - syman

P.S. It is now one-hundred-forty six hours since the earth moved in Haiti.
And still no help for most!

Posted by: syman | January 18, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Syman, Thank you for the detail. I wish you were close to the decisionmaking. I remember reading several stories -- some in my school texts or perhaps the Weekly Reader about those drops of small and medium parachutes to places in WWII, especially Holland. Some of the drops included chocolate bars. I wish this could happen. Mudge will respond. Stay around, sir or madam. You seem a boodler person at heart.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 18, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Laughing Pacifica, I have a big dog that sheds year round, very heavily half the year, heavily the rest. Fur bunnies - just embrace them :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Excellent points, syman, but Curmudgeon is a bit jaundiced when it comes to government bureaucracy.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Seconding CqP by the way on your postings, syman.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm not going to respond. What started off as "twine" has suddenly become nylon cord. The man says he can get production of 3 million chutes up in a couple of weeks, and he thinks Obama's got the cash in a slush fund. He thinks 50 or 60 cargo planes can fly 180 sorties a day. There's no arguing with any of that.

Besides, I appear to lack the confidence to do so.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"Joel leads his boodle minions" - brilliant, Engelmann. I've always wanted to be a minion. In the service of good, of course.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 18, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Syman I like how much thought you have put into this. I do not have the knowledge to know if it would work or not (hence my questions ealier in the day).

I just hope they find something quick to get food and water to those that need it.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

syman, Curmudgeon, let's all calm down before somebody gets hurt. Syman, I respect your background and knowledge. You should be aware that Curmudgeon has, in fact, worked in manufacturing (naval architecture, design and construction) and also has long-standing experience with military air operations, as well as many years' experience in print journalism at all scales of publishing. In addition, of course, it is common Boodle knowledge that he is approximately 964 (or so) years old (if I have been correctly keeping track of the time) and has worked a variety of jobs in that time.

A number of objections have been raised to your air-drop concept, and you have countered them. I think the biggest problem that I see is one of time scale. As you note, production could ramp up to the necessary level in a week to ten days. Problem is, a human being dies of thirst in considerably less time than that. The acute problem is the next few days. The current operations seem to be able to beat the time scale for the air-drop and can deliver some resources immediately, even if not yet at the necessary magnitude. Your concept seems fundamentally sound, but it seems like it won't be ready in time to make the difference that is needed. However -- unfortunately -- there is always a next time. Something like your plan should be in the toolkit, ready to go, for the inevitable next disaster relief operation.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 18, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- I do not have your tech prowess but thinking outside of the usual boxes of drop over Holland

Foolish entrepreneurship....I am a little tired of the tyranny of over rationalization of all activities....I say this as one who edits for the MAN in the BUREAU.....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 18, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

syman, I appreciate your stated experience and background, but I don't know that dropping/parachuting so much stuff out of large airplanes into Haiti is logistically better or more realistic in the short term than what we're doing now with smaller helos landing in remote areas and unloading water, food and supplies. Literally, I don't know.

I do know that we are doing the latter right now, because it's simple and quick and somewhat direct. Granted, it does have an element of risk regarding the fact that supplies can end up in a single location, and some sort of conflict over possession of them could occur.

I don't think it's entirely a question of willpower and resourcefulness of the military technology development, production and deployment lifecycle as much as pragmatism and speed. If we can do something *now*, let's.

Might be reasons to develop and deploy that small airborne payoad delivery system, but given the fact that we're still fighting two wars (and one expanding as we speak) in the Middle East and the military's stretched with those requirements (and the miltary-industrial technology development folks engaged in such things as remote vehicle- and anti-IED technolgy development. Plus means of locating al-Quaida leadership and Bin Laden.), I would think what you're proposing might be asking an awful lot at this point.

Mudge may have a point.


Posted by: -bc- | January 18, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I have an intersting question (well I think it is) for anyone who might know. When you practise for a disaster scenario, would what happened in Haiti be on the extreme scale of worst case. i.e. damage to main roads, little to no infrastructure in place, loss of port, lack of fuel, medical capabilities, ease of communication?

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I think you need to assume all those factors in any disaster, dmd.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 18, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm used to my posts being ignored, but will repost in case y'all missed this - air drops have started:;featuredPost-PE

C17's from Fayetteville, NC. Not quite what syman has in mind, perhaps, but air drops nonetheless.

Posted by: seasea1 | January 18, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, CqP, you CAN"T think outside of the box when it comes to procurement. You (the editorial you, meaning everyone) aren't allowed to. They have built that procurement box precisely to prevent this kind of wildcatting. God knows, I'm just about the last person to defend bureaucracy, but jeez, isn't anyone paying attention? Does anything think the gummint can just arbitrarily take over some plastics factory somewhere overnight and start making parachutes? Without requests for proposals? Without bids? Without 27 government agencies scrutinizing the contracting process? Will it be sole-source? Competitive? Presumably it will be a limited contract, six months or a year at the outside? What's OSHA gonna say? OMB? Will their be labor union involvement?

Or are we going to use an already existing company, which is going to start producing parachutes for the gummint starting next week? Don't worry about all the paperwork; we'll settle that down the road.

Becasue, you see, in this Wonderland anybody can just get a govt. contract to produce X million items on a handshake. Hell, our govt. just gives out cash with no accountability all the time, right? Why should Haiti relief be different? Sure, we don't need any poluitical oversight by Congress (which seems to think ti controls the money, silly boys). So sure, let's just bypass the entire political and regulatory system altogether. And while we're at it, we'll just bypass the entire Pentago procurement system and the military-industrial complex. Obama can just get on the ol' telephone, call up the joint chiefs and get a couple hundred aircraft, plus all their fuel, all their crew, all their support (which only amounts to a multiplier factor of 8 or 10), get them transferred to Florida, quartered and supplied and operational, in say 48 hours? Too optimistic? OK, 72 hours? Piece of cake.

Please, people.

Jeez, do you guys WANT a govt. that can do all this at the drop of a hat? At least they voted to fund Afghanistan and Iraq, dumb a decision as it was.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I read the link seasea!! I am preoccupied with the idea of a standby plan for international disaster relief because if the worst case scenarios included what has happened in Haiti than some tweaking to the model needs to be made after the immediate work is complete of course.

I am also thinking didn't this need for better response get raised after the Tsunami?

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

good question, dmd. After Columbine, the school district charged each building with designing and implementing an emergency evacuation plan. Quite difficult, and not even close to dealing with a worst case scenario. The 20/20 hindsight for dealing with what happened in Haiti will make it necessary to review and revise construction codes, implement a comprehensive review of the structural integrity of countless buildings, then stash enough fuel, heavy equipment,generators, construction materials food, water, and medical supplies *and* develop a plan suitable to deal with widespread collapse of everything, including infrastructure, and the inability of local and regional government to intervene. I shudder to think of the aftermath of the big one on the west coast, a tsunami in Seattle, or the supervolcano that the boss has alluded to in kits past. Better to follow rule #10 on the old nuclear bomb drill poster.

Posted by: -jack- | January 18, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

This afternoon I started researching Syman's proposal for scale and scope. The obvious comparison is the Berlin Airlift which at its peak was running hundreds of sorties a day with intense precision bringing hundreds of tons of supplies in every day. But it was doing it as a land-and-unload operation.

It was also fifty years ago with much smaller equipment. The air bridge was over land and there was significant infrastructure on the receiving end. Where my analysis broke down was that I had no idea how many runways Berlin had, what the population was at the time or what the exact nature of the supplies were. For example, Berlin required coal to be flown in while in Haiti you would assume that many bulk or commodity items could be shipped by sea.

I spend a lot of my day explaining to people how their out-of-box ideas are not feasible at the scale and intensity they would have to be in order to work.

I gotta go with mudge on this one. The retail delivery of hundreds of thousands of small airborne packages can't be as efficient as centralized distribution of larger packages. One fifty pound bag of rice only needs to be delivered to a family once a month or so as opposed to hundreds of MRE type packets in the same time frame.

With all the refugee camps there have been over the years in the Balkans, Africa, and Southeast Asia, there has to be a good knowledge base of how to run and operate humanitarian relief operations at slightly smaller scales that can be extrapolated.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Horses. National Velvet gets better every time I see it. It is currently on loan to a friend

You know, I don't think I've ever seen Black Stallion

Posted by: omnigood | January 18, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking good thoughts for tomorrow's Cassandra visit to the doctor and Martha Coakley's attempt to win Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | January 18, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't suppose there's any point in noting that the story about the C-17 flying airdrops shows a photo of a C-130.

Great airplane, though. Just not a C-17.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I got some fond memories of flying cargo on a C-130 from 30 years ago. They will never retire those workhorses.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

At the bottom of this article is some interesting graphics, showing the location of aid and the problems to be encountered. As well as a summary of the rate of damage and population.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 18, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Just to make it clear, I wasn't flying the cargo. I was the cargo.

The video of that air drop was pretty cool looking but was just a drop in the bucket.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 18, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

ha, yello said horses. my work is done, off to bed

Posted by: omnigood | January 18, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

oh, and thanks to abeac and nellie for the kind kudos for my original post

Posted by: omnigood | January 18, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

yello, the Marines are getting 18 new C-130s, to be used as mid-air refueling tankers (so technically are designated KC-130). I did a bunch of stories on them down at Pax River, where the new boom system was being tested. I was in the cockpit of one-- the new so-called "glass cockpit" (meaning just a handful of large computer screens, instead of the old cockpit full of hundreds of gauges) are just phenomenal. One of the pilots told me the avionics are so good you could actually take off and get airborne entirely on autopilot. In other words, the plane could take off by itself.

They were doing a lot of work on Pax on modifications to the turbo props, too, but a good bit of it was engineering gibberish beyond my ken.

I'll tell ya, though, if you think test pilots are cool customers (I do), you ought meet a bunch of Marine Corps test pilots. I swear, the guys test-flying the Hercs and the V-22 Ospreys aren't even in the same species as you and me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 18, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

We were returning home about 20 to 30 minutes ago from seeing Sherlock Holmes at the nearby cinema, and just as we were attempting to turn into our subdivison, it looked like the street was blocked because of a large number of cars and large vehicles. Three of the large vehicles were television antennae trucks, the other oversized truck looked like a moving van, but had HNT in a logo emblazoned on its side--hostage negotiation team.

There were a number of people on the sidewalk, as well, and bright lights. I asked my husband to let me out of our vehicle. I told him I'd walk home.

The bright lights were from media cameras focused on three network reporters--two immediately recognizable: Leila Walsh from the NBC affiliate station, Doug Shupe from the ABC affiliate and a tall blonde from the CBS affiliate. I missed seeing the CBS helicopter above, it having left before I arrived, I was told.

I ended up talking to two people to get the details of what was happening in the apartments that front our subdivision and face the main traffic artery. One of them was Michael Johnson, who was an eye witness to the events and was interviewed--by CBS, I believe, so footage of him may be available tomorrow morning. The second person was Leila Walsh's cameraman.

It was a hostage situation that took place around 9 p.m. A young man in military fatigues (possibly military?) had held his ex-wife at knifepoint, until she escaped her apartment and called police. The 22-year-old man had come to her apartment despite a restraining order. Once she escaped her unit, the young man barricaded himself inside. Police have yet to release details about the man.

The young man had hurled all manner of objects and invectives at the SWAT and hostage team. Michael Johnson had a small, obvious bruise on his neck from one of the beanbag-type pellets used by the SWAT team to shoot at the man who had stepped onto the patio in order to hurl household objects. The young man was apprehended after about 20 minutes, giving himself up.

This was the second hostage situation in the neighborhood in about five years' time. A man from these same set of apartments held hostages at the nearby and then-new San Antonio Federal Credit Union. The main artery was barricaded at that time, with both police and media helicopters making quite a din in the skies for several hours.

Posted by: laloomis | January 18, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

The United Methodist Committee on Relief seems to work very hard to stay in-the-box immediately after disasters. In particular, there's an emphasis on sending standard "kits" that have been carefully designed to be cheap, valuable, and acceptable to recipients and the local authorities. It looks like out-of-the-box is for the long term.

The NY Times reported today that the head of the University of Miami medical school is steamed over not being able to get visas to bring seriously-injured Haitians to Florida for urgent medical care. I suspect that Senator Bill Nelson's staff is at work on the issue already.

The post-Columbus history of the Bahama Archipelago and Greater Antilles is tragic. Several million people may have been living on Hispaniola when Columbus arrived.

Spanish enslavement of the population was bad enough, but Old World disease seems to have been the largest contributor to population collapse. Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba became backwaters with minimal human populations until the French plantation enterprise imported Africans on an incredible scale.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 18, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

You know, Boodle dear,that I adore you.

But. But. We've somehow turned sour over the last few days or weeks. I think our Joel was telling us this, in his anniversary post. I'm not sure he wants to shut the blog down (and Joel, if you do, go ahead! It's yours to do with as you will!), but may think, when we're all ganging up, that it may be the way to save us.

I am uncomfortable when we all go bad (like Larson's clowns [and I am as guilty of that as anyone else]). We are hurting only ourselves, and our fellowship, then.

Let us be easy, forgiving, not quick to blame nor quick to anger.

Listen. I know I have offended from time to time, more than once, and you've mostly been kind. I have been educated by that forgiveness.

So can we please just stop? Give it up? Lest we all lose that which we value?

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse


It is not my intention to demean you personally by countering your comments. My intention is to convert your thinking into a 'can do' mind set. I want to know what your solutions are to the problems you see with getting a massive aid drop going. Don't only tell us why it can't be done. Tell us how to overcome the obstacles and the roadblocks you see, so we can get a million gallons of water and three million rations into the hands of the people of Haiti every day.

Posted by: syman | January 19, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

syman, I appreciate your courtesy.

The thing is, for me, that the UN and the International Red Cross (ya, I know, *sigh*) have been in the country for a long long time. Upwards of 20 years, in the case of the UN.

I think they know the territory. Let's let them do what they do, until they're proven incompetent. Which, I do not think is yet.

I love new ideas. But, if you aren't there, really, they're just... wishes.

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, syman, I think it's pretty *&^% arrogant of you to think that you, with your superior mindset, can convert me. How about I try to convert you to understanding how the real world operates? You don't know a g--d--- thing about my mindset. Further, it's my my job to solve those problems. It's not yours, either -- and you're not even good at it, and you won't be until you remove your head from the place it currently lodges.

Sorry, Yoki. That was against everything you just posted. But this guy ticks me off no end.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 19, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

But I love you, 'mudge. Now, three deep breaths. Ohm.

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

There are no major natural disasters where I’m from and where I currently work. No volcanoes. No earthquakes. Just the seasonal flooding. We can handle 5’ of water. Kinda. Anything more than that we are paralysed. It’s comforting to know that there are a lot of people out there thinking of better ways to help other people who can’t help themselves.

Posted by: rainforest1 | January 19, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

LOL! Rainforest. Good for you.

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Kraft is on the verge of engulfing Cadbury. I wonder if Walmart will start selling fruit & nut bars. As a student, I subsisted on them, along with bananas, yogurt, and mustard greens.

Will Hershey survive the Kraft juggernaut? A Hershey-Ferrero merger?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 19, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

I love Cadbury Fruit and Nut. But, Hershey is no pushover. It was the big ugly company town for a long time. Maybe even now.

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 2:55 AM | Report abuse

Kraft has swallowed Cadbury. This is not good. It's never good to have a giant.

Posted by: rainforest1 | January 19, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

It's a false economy!

Posted by: Yoki | January 19, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. What, nobody up for dawn patrol but me?

Hookay, ham biscuits and coffee and hot tea on the ready room table.

Cassandra, I hope everything goes well with your visit to the doctor today. Check in and let us know.

Posted by: slyness | January 19, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, sending a full fax load of mojo to you. Here is hoping all goes well.

I have the coffee grounds. I have the coffeemaker. I have no potable water. (Our tap water tastes like soap!) Sigh. Slyness, you saved me. Your coffee is much appreciated.

Everybody in the word wishes it could be faster, but the sheer magnitude of the effort means it is going to take time to do it right. What Haiti, what no disaster situation needs is more going wrong. Small moves.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 19, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes today Cassandra.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 19, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

You are on Dawn Patrol solo most days now. My gym appointments are for 6 am Tuesday and Thursday. That doesn't leave much boodling time except to see what happened over the night shift.

Hope your doctor appointment goes well.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 19, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Sorry slyness, I mistook you for Cassandra. The grapefruit juice hasn't kicked in yet. I got a box of mail-ordered grapefruit just after the freeze hit. I hope some of the trees survived.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 19, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Regarding aid to Haiti:

Imagine a funnel about a mile wide, ending up in the allegorical eye of a needle. Pushing harder on the larger opening, or varying the size of individual packages, will have little effect. The point is to widen the eye of the needle, and AFAIK that's where efforts are appropriately focused right now.

I am very sadly certain we're still in the "worse before it gets better" phase of disaster recover in Haiti. *SIGHHHHHHH*

*filled-with-extra-mojo-for-Cassandra Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 19, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

All good wishes and luck to Cassandra today.

Only good thing about today here is that there won't be any more political robo calls or TV ads when it's over. I'm disappointed in the candidate and in the electorate, what a mess.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 19, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Here is a bit from Charlie Pierce's sports blog. It reminded me of all my Canadian friends and thought you might enjoy it.

"Every four years when the Frozen Olys come along, while many folks watch the pixies, I watch the curling. The thing I like best about it is that the commentators do not assume their audience to be made up of uneducable morons who have to have every little thing about the sport explained to them -- including how ice is made. (Get me started on how they telecast fencing some time. It's like being lectured by kindergarten teachers.) Instead, the broadcasters talk as though everybody watching has been watching curling since childhood, and you pick up the jargon and the details or you don't. Sink or swim. They don't care. I find that a mark of great respect and am not bothered in the least that this will be my fourth Olympiad doing this and I still don't know what in the name of Odin is going on out there."

Posted by: badsneakers | January 19, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Hurray Haaard!!! :-)

Thanks sneaks

Posted by: dmd3 | January 19, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Coffee, my dear yello, you need coffee.
Transport-wise, Haiti need a functioning port ASAP. We live in a world where containers (a.k.a. sea boxes) are used for everything but bulk commodities. The amount of trade between countries is measured in TEU (twenty-feet equivalent unit) fur crying out loud. The massive amount of help needed means one thing: massive amount of containers will have to be transferred to shore and shipped in the cities. There are a few containerships with self-unloading capability but really not that many.
A reporter from La Presse went to Jacmel, the home town of our Governor General. The road going there from PauP is passable by motorcycle only as there are rocks and other debris blocking most of the narrow winding mountain road. The situation is dire. The only help they got yet is 20 Columbian search&rescue soldiers dropped by helicopters. All they could do until now is put red Xs on houses where they found bodies. General practitioners doing surgery on emergency cases without anesthetics. A total horror.
A Canadian ship is supposed to arrive in Jacmel today, the other is headed for Léogane. Léogane is isolated from the world but the few reports that came through speak of a city that is 90% destroyed.

On a brighter side it seems that Haitians who can are getting back to work. The head CECI guy in Haiti was reporting on the public radio las night that his crew of 150 before the quake went down to less than forty but is now back to 65 in PauP. He had no news of his people in Léogane, Jacmel and points further west but he was expecting to be able to send a recon team by pickup truck later this week. CECI had some food and water warehoused in the countryside, this was moved to PauP and distributed. They are now buying food on the local markets and delivering it to PauP. The guy was saying, with dry irony, that they was little competition for buying food from Haitian markets. It seems it isn't in the playbook of most organizations.
CECI received more than a million dollar in donations, they are simply flabbegasted by the response they got in Québec. They have recruited almost a hundred nurses, doctors, construction and water specialists, etc. who will soon arrive in the country. Most are of Haitian origins. Many more would like to help but only those who have professionional qualifications that are urgently needed are currently being sent to Haiti.

The number of Haitian doctors, nurses, professors and other professionals in the public service always made me cringed a little. Like the UK NHS is stealing its nurses and doctors from India and Pakistan I always felt we were doing the same to Haiti. People with an education want to improve their lot, there's nothing wrong with that, but it made me cringe nonetheless.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 19, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Odin? Bad, are you one of those nasty odinists we've heard so much about recently?

'Morning, Boodle. Am shocked and amazed to find this morning that Fred Hiatt thinks that on balance, Obama has done a pretty good job.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 19, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Helping Veterans with PTSD?

There are more details on the police standoff in my neighborhood last night. The young man is 23-years-old, an Iraq War veteran, Christopher Gonzales. I learned the standoff lasted about two hours, not 20 minutes, as I had mentioned.

I was trying to catch just a bit of ABC reporter Doug Shupe's interview last night with a heavily tattoed man in a muscle shirt, but got there just as the cameraman turned off the camera's lights and Shupe was handing the man his business card. As I also learned this morning, the man Shupe had been interviewing as I approached last night is Christopher Gonzalez's father.

ABC had the most details this morning about the incident last night. According to the father, the young soldier doesn't get the treatment he needs from the VA Hospital to deal with his PTSD. The young Gonzalez is in for treatment and help two or three days, then back out of the hospital. What a crying shame.

Here's local coverage of last night's standoff with our local police's SWAT team--and perhaps there will be more in print soon:

Video from ABC affiliate:

Video from NBC affiliate:

San Antonio Express-News coverage:

Posted by: laloomis | January 19, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes Cassandra.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 19, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

An unexpected victim of increased flight security? I have read countless Robert Munsch stories to my kids, they love them.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 19, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Curling is a very civilized sport, it's possible to from the little table at the end of the sheet and some of the best players in the field have even less hair left than I do.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 19, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Guesstimating a 10% parachute failure rate would mean that Porte au Prince would be bombarded with 300,000 lethal aid packages a day.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 19, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! Cassandra, good luck to you at the doctor and I hope they help.

I liked Yoki's gentle reminder to us yesterday. While most of us have been our usual charming selves, the collective tone has turned a bit cranky lately. I know I have been cranky, what with one thing and another.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 19, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Imom, I just want to say that I was OK with One Thing, but the other got me.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 19, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

From the Boston Herald:

"Scott Brown backers fear zombies"

Posted by: russianthistle | January 19, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

SCC it's possible to drink...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 19, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I watch curling with these three activities in mind: chess, shuffleboard, and bowling. In a good way.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 19, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Zombies? I thought the dead only voted in Chicago.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 19, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

You know, since I've been reading some of the blog posts form earlier in this Kit, I think what I've thought for years here--that posts and reactions to posts, they'
re simply one of Robert Kaiser's Rorschach tests. You see what you want to see.

What would I really like to see? Joel can decide whether he wants to continue to write Kits, but I'd Love, LOVE, LOVE to see moderated discussions, including for the Achenblog. Stay on-topic! It would focus the attention and thinking and knowledge and preparation, if you want to call it that. Only one--or at most two-- post per person per discussion group per day. Social network and fawn someplace else, and eliminate character assassination.

The NYT's moderated discussions are wonderful to read--I turn to the NYT for these moderated discussions again and again. The Washington Post must get a handle on inapparopriate comments--both here and on far too numerous other chats across its broad reporting. I'd rather see comments closed down for all venues--44, as an example, Reliable Sources, etc.--in favor of one of two good ALWAYS on-topic chats for the entire online community. Let the moderator take care of the fractiousness and human-nature xenophobia. Either that or should seriously enforce its own rules.

BTW, my cousin thinks this A-blog is pure drivel.

Posted by: laloomis | January 19, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I know I've gotten crankier lately. Will try to amend. I noticed it, too, when reading the comments on the old kits, that the Boodle seemed more collegial and friendly, way back when.

Want to thank TBG for the Shorpy link yesterday - it's bookmarked and a wonderful time waster.

Waiting for calls from folks today. Hate waiting. Making a list of things I could get done while waiting, instead of getting up and doing something.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 19, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to say - good luck Cassandra, congratulations Kbert, good to see Boko and Martooni.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 19, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

But Bob S. posts anyway!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 19, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

With so many pockets of misery in the world:

Posted by: laloomis | January 19, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Those who have not ventured back to the Bloggi-versary kit one before this might want to. Why? Poet Lariat Engelmann wrote an encomium to this place and the boss, in the manner of a metal comma heavy song.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 19, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Last comment - did anyone else see Huffpost's article about the luxury cruise liner docking at a private beach in Haiti for a day trip? The current version specifies it's 60 miles from Port au Prince, earlier they said "just miles from the devastation." They did unload 40 pallets of supplies for the stricken, but many passengers had a barbecue and cocktails on the beach. If there's docking for big ships 60 miles away, shouldn't that "private" thing just go away right now? Also didn't know that cruise ships routinely carry so many extra supplies on pallets.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 19, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* Rufus' mom and Anna's sister is no more, at a fairly young 63.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 19, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

laloomis, thanks for starting my day with a laugh. Who knew you could be so funny?

Posted by: LostInThought | January 19, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 19, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

What a wonderful compliment!

We take the purity of our drivel very seriously here. No artificial ingredients of any kind. Our drivel is carefully extracted via proprietary techniques from drivel ore of the highest-quality, subjected to extensive testing that exceeds industry standards in every way, carefully washed in pure spring water, and then bottled, with love, in decorative drivel decanters created by a plethora of renowned artisans.

Sure, if you want run-of-the-mill drivel you can go anywhere. But if you demand nothing but quality drivel of the purest kind, you can always find it here.

It's nice to know that, when standards are declining everywhere, that our dedication to Excellence has not gone unnoticed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 19, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

It is very foggy here today. Very very foggy.

After a successful drive through the fog one might recognize the possibilities for metaphor (not while driving, I might add). One thing that occurred to me this morning is that things are what they are, not what I think they should be. This observation appears painfully trite but is startlingly difficult to both grasp and accept.

Often, when I read a piece (especially reading things submitted to us at work) it is not the document that I wanted the author to write. It is, however, the thing I'm working with and may respond to or not, as I choose. There's no point in my responding as if it were a different document; it just wastes my time and appears as gibberish.

I am a member of several organizations. It is easy for me to accept some for what they are. With others, I struggle because I think they should have a different composition, structure or focus - even though I knew those parameters when I joined. For those, I either have to accept what the organization is, or I have to leave and find or start an organization which it what I think it should be.

The Achenblog and Boodle are like that. It is what it is and I like it. However, even if I didn't, it would be what it is. No amount of suggestion on my part, with the best or worst intention in the world, will change the essential structure and format of this group, nor should it. Like so much else in life, the Achenblog is not about me and what I think it should be. There are other Internet discussion formats, and I enjoy them on their own terms. I enjoy the Achenblog on its terms as well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 19, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

This story recounts the experience of S&R personnel. that have also been on the scene in NYC, New Orleans, and other places in teh lower 48 athat havee experienced natural disasters. I know that our military personnel, after extended time in a war zone, are debriefed and given time and assistance to facilitate reintegration into civilian life. This article made me wonder how often this kind of assistance is offered to fire personnel, police officers, EMT's, ER MD's, ER nurses and other public servants that respond regularly to trauma.

wheezy, it would understate things a bit to say that the cruise lines sould have had an alternative plan, compared to the one you mentioned.

Posted by: -jack- | January 19, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

new kit

Posted by: -jack- | January 19, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

loomis, your point about staying on Kit is well taken. Forgive me if I'm confused as to how your long post about a hostage situation in your neighborhood constitutes that, or manifests the change you seek.

I'm sure there are moderated blogs in San Antonio who would be glad to have all the words you care to write about it.

The comments here in the Boodle are not some sort of a reporting or column writing competition. We *are* a community. If you don't like that -- I'm sorry. Not your decision. By and large, people really like the sense of community here and I believe that's why we keep coming back.

I'm glad you like the NYT's blog managment style, and think it's great that you go there. I am also confused about something else -- if you don't like us or like it here at all, why are you?


Posted by: -bc- | January 19, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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