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The New Republic on The Washington Post

If you haven't seen it: The New Republic has a story about what the headline refers to as the "collapse" of The Washington Post. Headlines in any medium often succumb to sensationalism. Such is the case with "Post Apocalypse." (Although maybe they mean "Apocalypse" in the good sense of the word.)

The story captures some of the upheaval and stress of the past couple of years, and argues that The Post has become a paper "without a strong identity" (right: mention you work at The Post and people will get that blank look and say "Where???"). What the article does not do is describe an institution that is collapsing. In fact, the writer finally gets around to mentioning in the third-to-last paragraph that multiple sources say The Post turned a profit in the fourth quarter of 2009. Oh, and The Post continues to break big stories "with impressive regularity." So there's that.

Please read Don Graham's letter to TNR. Excerpt:

The answer to such articles is the same as always: 365 days of good newspapers and web journalism which the staff of the Post will produce in 2010. I am entirely willing, today as always, to be judged by the work of my colleagues in the Post newsroom. If you want to join Mr. Sherman and judge the Post, I suggest you read this morning's paper -- and tomorrow's, and the day after's (in your preferred format).


Here's a lesson for us all: In a crisis, when lives are at risk, don't just stand there because everyone else is standing there. Do something. Like DC resident Kevin McDonnell:

He broke down the trees blocking the man's door, then pulled him bodily from the car. Flames and smoke hampered his efforts; at one point, McDonnell's own jacket caught on fire.

"Clearly the biggest concern, and why I don't think anyone else approached the car, was the fire was moving backwards," he said in an interview Tuesday. "It was just a matter of time before the gas tank ignited, which it was kind enough to do after we got him to the top of the hill."

"I just couldn't sit there and literally watch another person get burned up in his car," said McDonnell.

Here's an excerpt from an email that's been in circulation, from an eyewitness:

"I just saw the bravest thing I've ever seen in my life." I repeated it in tears.. "I truly believe I just witnessed the bravest thing I've ever seen". Look at the pictures. Look at the fire under that car. Nobody wanted to approach that car. Nobody wanted to grab the handles... how hot? What about all the exploding cars you see on television? Nobody wanted to see a burnt body. But as one person moved towards the car we all did.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 21, 2010; 12:29 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama's first year
Next: Free Tiger Woods [Part 2]


I'm with Don Graham.

Posted by: Yoki | January 21, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

hey - middleofthepacific - is it true that hawaii was over run by a stray shipment of coqui from puerto rico that affected the tourism trade a couple of years ago? apparently, they are very loud and have no natural predator in hawaii...

Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mo - yeah, some coqui got off a ship someplace on the Big Island and managed to establish themselves over there. They're so loud that the tourists started to complain. The State's been trying to get rid of them using eco-friendly methods. They're not as bad now but still a bit of a problem. The coqui have made it Maui and Oahu but so far it's been manageable on those two islands.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

TNR was a great magazine about 35 years ago. I don't think they should be casting stones. The Wapo may have problems, but if you want to see real disintegration, try reading the Boston Globe.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. What an ignorant article about such a fine paper. Yes, the Washington Post appears to be changing in response to economic conditions. However, to me, these changes do not appear to be an indication of collapse. On the contrary, they appear to be the necessary, if painful and occasionally uncertain, steps needed to ward off collapse. In other words, I think the Washington Post is a long ways from falling apart.

Now, as to individual employees of the Post, well, that's a separate concern.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If the TNR thinks the WaPo is a crummy paper, they oughta get a load of our local rag!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 21, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere I had a recipe for coqui croquettes.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, looking at the Washington Post (thanks to the lens focused this past week on the fifth A-blog anniversary), I can say that I really miss Dan Froomkin, Rick Weiss, Thomas Ricks, Robin Wright.

Yes, when exceptional, top talent leaves, it hurts the brand.

Now, to use the link Joel provided in this Kit...

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Send it on over bob.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The Post indeed manages to catch things the NYT doesn't. And managed to add the industrious Ezra Klein, who just provided this assessment of Pelosi's announcement that the House won't vote on the Senate health care reform bill, which effectively kills reform:

"I think the lesson of this will be that big things cannot be done. Not even with 60 votes and a new, popular president and a financial crisis and all the rest of it. This is a country that just cannot make progress on its problems."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

In the coqui department, the frogs have to eat, so I think they've been found to disrupt Hawaiian ecosystems. So far, we in Florida mostly have Cuban tree frogs, not coquis. Or at least we had Cubans until this year's cold spell.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 21, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Heard about this on "Wait, wait" on NPR and still could hardly believe it-

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

NOOOOOOO don't eat the coqui!!!

i mean i know it's terrible for such a little tiny thing like the coqui to affect the tourism that hawaii is so completely dependent on... but... they are just so cute!!!


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Ricks is at Foreign Policy, which is now a branch of the Washington Post. I wonder how the WP's takeover and apparent revitalization of FP will work out. A magazine that can recruit Marc Lynch (the former Abu Aardvark) can't be all bad.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 21, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I always thought croquettes were female crocs. Live and learn.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Considering that the author spoke to 50 people associated with the Washington Post--past and present...and there anything in this article that is otherwise factually incorrect, other than 4Q09 earnings? Joel?

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Are coqui tasty?

I've been reading The New Republic for almost as long as I've read the Post. I'm less impressed by TNR in its most recent incarnation than by the Post, which still manages to provide consistent timely news reporting, along with a delightful blog here and there.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The revenue-generators for the Post are interesting, from Frank Ahrens May 1 reporting last year:

In recent years, The Post Co. has received most of its revenue and earnings from its Kaplan Inc. education division and its Cable One cable division, and the same was true in the first quarter of this year, as the two units combined to generate 74 percent of company revenue. The newspaper division is now The Post's third-biggest revenue generator, providing 15 percent of company revenue.

A lot more details are in Ahren's May 1 article:

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I don't think you can eat coqui. I don't think that's the method I'd use to get rid of them anyway.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 21, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Birds and rats love coqi, so you should too, Ivansmom. You'd have to eat lots of them to get much of a protein source. Interestiong critters...if they overpopulate with enough predators to control their numbers, they come down with disease!

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

SCC: without...instead of with

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I was wrong, they recommend citric acid spray for plants outdoors or hot water showers for indoor plants.

And Mo, they're really not that cute:

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | January 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

kguy, that basketball league sounds like an April fool thing. Apart from its hiring practices being seemingly illegal, there might be some problems in defining "caucasian".

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 21, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

kguy - That "All-American Basketball Alliance" has the feel of a prank, but there are all kinds of nutjobs running around out there. Somehow I don't see the business model working out very well.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

My day has just been made.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

DoC - Great minds...

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

kguy, the basketball story is shocking but sadly believable. I hope it is a hoax of some kind but I bet it isn't. Around here at least, you can hear people who deny being racially prejudiced but use racial terms to describe types of sports play. I hope, if it is true, it gets a lot of national press. This should help to counter the people who insist there is little or no racial component to the Obama opposition, or that there has been no racial backlash generally after his election. There is and there has been. We can't honestly address that if we can't admit it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Yes, the Post's 4Q09 profits are mentioned on the fifth linked page.

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom - don't think you'd get a lot of meat out of 'em - they are incredibly small which is amazing considering how loud they are (as high as 100 dB).
panama had a problem with a fungus that was killing off all the frogs (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). they gathered as many frogs as they could find and housed them in a hotel to prevent total extinction
this was several years ago, don't know if it's still a problem.
one thing that DOES worry me is the "white nose syndrom" fungus that is affecting bats. apparently it "represents the most serious threat to wildlife in a century"
i don't think most ppl realize how important bats are to the environment...


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

April Fool? Prank? But, but, it's in Wikipedia! It has to be true, right?

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Even if bats weren't so important they'd be deserving of protection just because they're so cute.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 21, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The weakness in the New Republic article isn't factual, for that would be libel, but is the interpretation. As we all should appreciate, there are many different narratives that are consistent with a given set of facts. The narrative so chosen is often the one that supports a given bias.

The narrative the New Republic presents is clearly one that supports the biases of the author. Much like a good lawyer the author is attempting to craft a compelling story using the evidence at hand. But it isn't the only story that can be told. And I assert it is the wrong one.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

frosty! i so totally agree!!! i think bats look like little puppies with wings... well, not all of them but still. most ppl think i'm a total NUT for loving bats... but... i even have a bat tattoo on my wrist. (so glad to know someone agrees with me)


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and if you want to see a paper that is a skeleton of its former fine self all you have to do is pick up the Strib, which is not as good as either the Mpls Star or the Tribune from whence it came. I get the Pioneer Press just 3 days a week, mostly because it costs no more than Sunday only and one simply cannot claim to live a life of purpose without a Sunday paper (no matter how feeble).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 21, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mo, I was picturing a plate of little coqui, like escargot, all grouped around their garlic butter.

I love bats. I'm also worried about that scary fungus.

RD, that was a nice comparison between the journalist and a legal advocate. A lawyer has to use the facts at hand when crafting her story, but the idea is to use those facts to persuade the listener or reader to her point of view. One often sees the same thing in stories like this. A writer may not overtly articulate a point of view, but the writing still may inexorably lead to a single conclusion, while a different writer, with the same facts, would reach a different result. As one who writes for a living, and has over the years written both advocacy and objective material, I am keenly aware of the differences.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

mo!!!! Yes, bats are so cuddly looking, even the supposedly ugly ones.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 21, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I like bats too. As kid back in the Pacific Northwest I made a little feeder intended to attract them to our backyard. And my mother, saint that she is, helped me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure this quite qualifies as "breaking news" or not:

National Enquirer submitting John Edwards coverage for Pulitzers

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 21, 2010; 1:49 PM

The editor of the National Enquirer says he plans to enter his paper's work on the John Edwards scandal for a Pulitzer Prize.

Don't laugh.

"It's clear we should be a contender for this," Barry Levine said by phone Thursday, hours after the former presidential candidate admitted what the newspaper had been reporting all along: that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby. "The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, was able to publish this reporting."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, RD, and for your mother.

Back when the Shakespeare group here was at a local park, the mosquitos were a real problem. Before one summer season they planned to put up a bunch of bat houses. We figured the bats would swoop in around dusk, eat the mosquitos, the audience would show up and everyone would be happy. It was a great plan.

Then the stage burned down. For the second time.

The group moved to a different park, with a concrete stage surrounded by a moat. Hasn't burned down since. And, there were already bats!

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Up winged puppies fly
Furry angels between trees
Catching bees here, pees....


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

hello, all. hope everyone is doing well.

i think bats and frogs are cute, too.

here, however, it is currently raining cats and dogs.

Posted by: LALurker | January 21, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

i wanted to make a bat house but i live on the 6th floor of a condo - prolly not the most ideal location. so i thought it would be a good idea to put one in my mother's backyard as she lives next to a water table and gets TONS of sqeeters in the summer. she vetoed that idea...


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A,

The word 'apocalypse' is considered a Google-magnet. One of The Post's op/ed columnists used it yesterday in the aftermath of the Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate election. It's an 'in' word these days, and best ignored unless the reference is to the situation in Haiti.

As to the writing, I was struck by the almost gossip-like quality of TNR story. The sort of style that's easy to forget, you know?


What was it we were talking about?

Posted by: MsJS | January 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

it's raining?

in LA????


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

You know, I'm not even sure I think lacking a "strong identity" for a paper is a bad thing. To me, a "strong identity" is sort of code for "really biased."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse


and frogs...

we were talking about bats and frogs! *grin*


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, mo, quite a lot I fear. Monsoonish even.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

oh... that's right... there's flooding going on isn't there... *duh*

sorry i've been boodle-hogging today! stuck at my computer multi-tasking...


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey, it's raining here too. I hope rain in LA doesn't cause problems.

So sorry about HCR. This is not good. Ezra Klein is right, I'm afraid.

Posted by: slyness | January 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

A couple of my relatives went bats when they got old. None of them went frogs, though.

Posted by: MsJS | January 21, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Supercollapsing Wapocollider?

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, I think of that style of writing as "exposé, just this side of pandering"

Which isn't always necessarily bad, but it's not going to win any Pulitzer Prizes, despite the National Enquirer's PR Unit's best efforts.

I think of bats as mice with wings. Cute, until you have one in the house.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "Cute, until you have one loose in the house."

Also: "bathouse" sounds like code for a place of business that caters to folks with, er, specialized interests. (Like baseball stat geeks. Or something)

And if you can't have a bathouse, I suppose a belfry is out of the question?


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Apparently there really is a Lesbian Response Team and a dam good thing too-

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

fyi, I added a little yarn to the kit...

Posted by: joelache | January 21, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Goody! Knitting!!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Kit entangled in yarn
Meowing ball of heroic smoke
and rescue of lives


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 21, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

mo you go right n bddle hogging. I'm enjoying it!

Bat houses are not fun. Repeat, not fun. Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 21, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ooooh, what color yarn? What kind? Is it sparkly?

Posted by: seasea1 | January 21, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Easy there, seasea. False alarm. My fault.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I read that story yesterday with awe, Joel, about the guy who rescued the man from the burning car. It wasn't even just a matter of opening the door... he had to break down trees that were blocking the door!

We've had a bat in the house twice. Both times Dr. G killed it by whapping it with a Microbiology textbook.

The first time the huge book was the closest thing at hand. The second time he went looking for it because he knew it worked so well.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I put my summary of the TNR article on-line two days ago.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Love that story about the car rescue.

I thought it demonstrated quite nicely how it takes just one person to encourage others to do something. And I respected the honesty of the man when he acknowledged the ambiguity of risking your life for another when so many people are depending on you.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Ah, speaking of Achenblog Bat News...

I still make myself giggle with the "Curmudgeon at the Bat" bit from '06 in there.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Does the same textbook work for other creatures, or is there a "spider" book, a "mouse" book, etc?

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Guano was a major resource in the South Pacific in the second half of the nineteenth century. The US passed the Guano Act authorizing the claiming of islands and atolls with the valuable resource. While most of the guano is deposited by migratory birds, caves are often filled with bat guano as well.

My favorite obscure island nation is Vanuatu. There are 11 species of bats (3 unique to Vanuatu).

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Talk about cultural illiteracy!

Posted by: rickoshea1 | January 21, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, you just had to go there, dincha?

Bob, I believe that book is bitextual. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say "Bat Guano"?

You're going to have to answer to the Coca Cola Company for this!

Posted by: kguy1 | January 21, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

you KILLED the bats!!! oh the horror!!!

"Around 120 bat species—a tenth of the species found worldwide—live in Panama, and of those, 74 can be found on Barro Colorado Island on lake gatun..."
*maybe i'm genetically predispositioned to like bats??*

Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

scc - predisposed? ah heck y'all know what i mean...


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

My parents' next-door neighbor used to wear a t-shirt that said "Bats Need Friends."

Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Back from an undisclosed location -- not RD's offsite -- but science talk happened, including a discussion of risk and statistics. No bats but broader biodiversity chat.

So many humble species serve as linchpins.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I love linchpins. Last time I made them I brined them, spatchcocked them, and then dusted their little tiny bodies with rosemary, roasted at 350 degrees, and served with asparagus. They taste just like chicken.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

rickoshea, given the power of the tefillin, I think they should be mandatory on every aircraft flight!
- - - -
"So great is the mitzvah of tefillin that whoever wears them will live a long life.... and Raba said that all who wear tefillin and wrap themselves with a tallis, and say the Shema and pray are promised a place in Olam Haba,.... Abaye said that the fires of Gehinom will not affect him.... Rav Papa said that all of his sins are forgiven." [Tur O"H 37}
- - - -

On the other hand, there's no point in bothering unless you know how to wear them properly!

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

There is a bridge in Austin with an enormous bat colony. At twilight all the bats come out and it's an enormous tourist attraction. On one of my business trips I talked my boss into going by but it was towards the end of the season and most of the bats had already headed south.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Was a tefillin the inspiration for that "apply directly to forehead" medicine with the ultra annoying commercial.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Toward San Antonio?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, "gossipy" was my first impression as well. A lot of "he said, she said" from undisclosed sources. The kind of thing I generally write off as inflammatory, not factual/informative. I thought Don Graham's response appropriate.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | January 21, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I think they winter in Mexico.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I am hankering for some linchpin. Next week? I'll trade you for some sour cherries wrapped in filo.

DMD -- thanks for introducing me to Greave's jams.

Rhubarb, bottled.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: joelache | January 21, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Bat Guano, a good debate would be who is the looniest character in Dr. Strangelove.

While General Jack Ripper is the frontrunner, I'm fairly fond of Buck Turgidson and have nothing but love for Merkin Muffley.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Doncha think it's gotta be Dr. Strangelove his own self, yello?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 21, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's a piece that says that TNR failed to mention that The Post's problems are due to its Iraq coverage.

This is nonsense.

1. The very real business problems here have zero to do with Iraq, our foreign coverage, or our news coverage at all, but rather with the fact that about a third of our revenue disappeared overnight when Craig's List took off, and Google ate up all the online ad revenue.

2. We've acknowledged some serious missteps in our coverage in the run-up to the war -- it was a front page story by Howie and is well known to everyone -- but also had some of the best journalism I've ever seen come out of that Baghdad bureau. See: Fainaru, Shadid (two pulitzers right there), Ricks, Gellman, Chandrasekaran, Finkel, et al.

Posted by: joelache | January 21, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I love all of God's creatures... with mashed potatoes & gravy.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for adding the yarn to the Kit. That's a pretty Amazing Story. I read the Kit part to the Boy, then showed him the picture of the car. So often his Teachable Moments, courtesy of my job, are not uplifting. It is nice to have a positive example. And I'm also impressed with the man's admission of second thoughts. It is a very human thing.

Interesting, TBG. I opened the iPhone story and read it, but twice within a couple of minutes it tried to close Internet Explorer on me. Closed it and all was well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Knickmeyer, Joel. I always enjoyed her pieces.

That article sounds like someone with a one-issue grudge. Those folks are just poison, in politics, policy or social discourse. They also don't do very good analysis, with a single focus.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of merkins, Lucy Lawless refused to wear hers.

Makes me want to set the DVR.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Let me just say that MsJS is a mensch. Metaphorically.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 21, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

JA -- the mixed gigantic blessing that is Google who promises to not be evil....

Google is now making huge inroads into the book world, making it unclear who will pay for good and thoughtful booksmithing. I love the idea of "freeing" more knowledge and ideas. But. WAIT.

Ideas and reportage are not free. As I am not an airplant, I cannot subsist on O2 alone.

And, as a google user -- gmail, docs, maps, igoogle, and recently wave -- I wonder if I am becoming too google-centric. They can charge me at some point, and I might have to pay them in the short run.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A,

If The Post wasn't worth anything, there would be be no fun in trashing it.

Give it a week, no one will remember.

Posted by: MsJS | January 21, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Yello's right about the Austin bats. They're Mexican free-tailed bats that migrate to Austin in the summer and back to Mexico in the winter. I always hear that it is the largest urban bat colony in the world, but I can't confirm that. There are about 1.5 million when they arrive and considerably more when they leave, as every female who can gives birth to one pup (yes, baby bats are actually called pups). This colony alone eats tons of bugs each night, and it is pretty spectacular to see sinuous clouds of bats exiting their bridge lair. I like to watch the show from the top of the bridge (less guano in my gaping maw) rather than the bottom. The exodus begins with some "scout bats" flying out to check the twilight conditions, then flying back in to the bridge. Next, the bats just flow out nonstop for 40-60 minutes. Pretty darn neat tourist attraction.

Posted by: Gomer144 | January 21, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

And thank you, SciTim. I am honored.

Posted by: MsJS | January 21, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I think I've still got a window sticker "I [heart] bats" from Fauna & Flora International, since reprinted by Speleobooks
http://www.speleoSociety (

Even better was their "Some of my best friends are sharks" sticker, evidently never reprinted.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 21, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom also is a mensch.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are acting like a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

There's 59 of them and they claim they are impotent. When was the last time either party had a "filibuster proof" majority and how much legislation got passed since then?

Posted by: yellojkt | January 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse


DaveotC, that "sharks" bumpersticker is no doubt still sold in law school student stores.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Why thank you, ScienceTim. It's an honor to be in such good company.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 21, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Don't what, Joel? (your 4:31 post)

I had a bat come into my previous apartment. I don't mind them when they're outside, but not inside! Of course, he/she was probably just as scared as I was.

Well, I've decided not to get all hysterical about the Massachusetts election. I *am* however concerned about the Supreme Court decision, basically confirming the corporate takeover of this country. There is ample evidence that they have run this country exactly the same as they have run their companies -- into the ground. If you'll forgive some profanity, corporate-America makes the so-called "governance" of this country look like what Haiti looks like now post-earthquake. I wonder how many of the bonus-boys sent any contributions down that way. Perhaps they were much too busy buying their yachts and/or penthouses in Manhattan.

Okay, enuf of the grumps (momentarily).

Yoki -- were you the one who made filo dough from scratch? Wanna give forth the recipe?

Posted by: -ftb- | January 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

My pleasure CP, I am enjoying their site, Ice Wine Syrup sounds intriguing.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

here's a pretty impressive video of it on youtube


Posted by: mortii | January 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I never cared for radio ranting even when I agree with the ranter, but this is still kind of sad. If only this would happen to the right-wing talkers...

Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Mensches everywhere! They're multiplying!

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

JA, that Iraq piece is total garbage. They take one little fact, tack on a bunch of claims (many previously debunked but tossed in for those who remember the issue but not the outcome), and then make another big ole jump with a twist over to a conclusion. Don't ya just hate it when that happens?

Have a happy night all.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Greetings Gomer, give us more of your gaping maw...

Menschen! Is that the plural of mensch?

You have a good evening, too, LiT.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Quite so, LiT. Quite so.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 21, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

ftb, please e-mail me (I don't have your e-mail address here at home).

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 21, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Nice addendum to the kit. I needed that.
Nice excoriation of the surrender monkeys, yello. Ditto.
Was Joel warning against rhubarb? I concur.
Everything is backed up on the new external drive. 1TB capacity. Shweet.
All I need now is a DIN to RCA converter cable. It could be worse.
Bailey stole the newspaper today and didn't give it back. Good thing WaPo is free.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 21, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

There were actually a couple of decent stories in it, Jumper. Husband of Thirddottir was quoted in a story about allegations of teacher assaults on students. His school has been through a rough patch in the last ten days. I hope things will improve now.

Posted by: slyness | January 21, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Impotent, eh? That must have been one heckuva year with lots of carousing, screwing, and burning bridges done.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 21, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I just sent you a message. Hope you get it.

Posted by: -ftb- | January 21, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, slyness. I do have it online, and McClatchy's home site bookmarked. (being national they are somewhat different) and I have Tommy on Facebook w/his good links though I eschew his sports fanism. I'm good.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 21, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Got it and just replied, ftb. Thanks.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 21, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Here's a lesson for us all: In a crisis, when lives are at risk, don't just sit there because everyone else is sitting there (and because there were intelligence failures at several key security agencies AND the State Department). Do something. Like Northwest Airlines passenger Jasper Schuringa.

Checked the Internet this afternoon. Obama didn't get to the presidency as a result of being a senator from Hawaii. Nope, seems he came from a state with the name of Illinois. Has a home there, in fact, acquired with the help of someone by the name of Rezko. Oh, Hawaii's where he grew up, you say? It's his home state? Really? I didn't know that. And the home he actually lived in until he headed off to college in California around the age of 18 was in his grandparents' apartment? You don't say. I see, that explains everything about why he vacationed there at that luxurious private home. Have you seen the pictures of that place? FAN-CEE!. For how long did he stay on Oahu?, you say? And he actually decided to cut his vacation short? Why?

And the bats in Austin? They reside and are on display nightly from their perches where in the Live Music Capitol of the World? The CONGRESS Street bridge. Wonder if they're anything like the free-tailed bats that are sleeping upside down during the day in our nation's Congress?

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

You know, the bats with majorities in both the House and the Senate...

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Question: how many of you would pay to be able to post on these boards? I sure would. How many of the roboposters and worst of the trolls do you think would drop out if they had to pay? Something to think of.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 21, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I eagerly await making my first payment! As I do with the NYT. No way can I give up the online news.

Posted by: Yoki | January 21, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse


About the TNR, the stuff about rubber and glue applies, no?

We had bats in our house often when I was a kid. And these big enormous moths that would "sleep" on the walls during the day and flutter around at night. They were about eight inches across. I was never afraid of the bats, but the moths really freaked me out.

I met with my boss today so we could rearrange our schedules. We freed up the 27th to work together and listen to Apple's announcement via Gizmodo. I'm not likely to buy a tablet, but I can't wait to see it.

And, for those of you who know about it, my sister won! She's made history, literally.

Posted by: abeac1 | January 21, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I thought the unpleasantness contest was over long ago.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 21, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Since getting the paper delivered costs less than $100/year even without any new-subscriber discounts, I'd certainly be willing to pay that much. I probably won't have to pay because I imagine they'll include free access to the site with dead-tree subscriptions. Gonna really annoy a lot of subscribers otherwise.

[For the real diehard fans, overseas delivery by mail is about $1400 US per year. US mail delivery is about $850 per year. I'll assume they'd throw in access to the website for no extra fee.]

On other WaPo news fronts, I see that the board announced an increase in the annual dividend, to nine bucks a year. With the share price at around $450, that's only 2%, but heck, it beats the zero-to-negative returns that many investments have given lately.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure it would be very easy for the President to run the free world out of his grandparents' apartement (while on vacation).

Let the Secret Service folks sleep on the fold-out couch in the living room, all the telecomm gear can go in the hall bathroom, the President, First Lady and their daughters all in the Master BR (girls sharing a fold-out cot), the WH spokespeople and staff can sleep in the President's old room (hey, there's a *twin bed* in there and even on the floor on air mattresses), and we can even get a few advisors and support folks in sleeping bags on the kitchen floor if we need to.

Have the morning status briefing at the 4-seater kitchen table.

Yup, that'll work.

Actually, it'd have been easier if they were able to sleep hanging upside-down like bats. Add some 2x4s to the ceiling, and they're golden.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Apparently not, Frosti.

The Tin Woodsmen keep their axes well-ground regarding this kind of Very Important News. It's on the Internet, you know -- the pinnacle and font of all correct human knowledge for Right Thinkers.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

LOL, bc. That sounds like a rather uncomfortable vacation, but whatever works...

Posted by: slyness | January 21, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

*faxing bob a recipe for coqui au vin. bob, I figure you've got a handle on fixing the mashed potatoes and gravy* *l*

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- I would pay for content. Right now, I get content through work; library subscription access.

Some sort of cable model or pay per click scheme needs to be worked out.

Would not pay for rebundled content like HuffPo.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse comment chains back to your post, too.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 21, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

BobS, seriously you can get the WaPo delivered for under $100 a year? Is that 7 days a week? I mean, I pay $230 a year (plus a tip) for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I thought things were more expensive there, in the rich and powerful hub of state.

Posted by: Wheezy1 | January 21, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

It's going to be really interesting to see what kind of pricing structure the NYT will come up for access to its material in the not-too-far future. Yes, I believe I'll pay for NYT access (quality), even if it means giving up Fri.-Sun. delivery of the San Antonio Express-News.

That said, that payment for op-eds a year or two ago entitled me to access the NYT archives, but unfortunately, I used less than 10 percent of that access capability to the archives. IIRC, it was 100 articles per month. Wish the archive access carried into the future--almost on a "points" basis, since there are a number of times since the pay period for op-eds expired that I wanted access to NYT archived material.

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

Madelyn Dunham died Nov. 2, 2008.

Posted by: laloomis | January 21, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I just went and looked it up - $39.80 for 20 weeks of 7 days/week? Why is it so cheap? And they really have trouble selling it at that price?

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 21, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy - Read it & weep: $1.81 per week.

Of course, it helps that while the Dispatch circulation is a little over two hundred thousand, the WashPost circulation is somewhere around six hundred thousand. Economies of scale, and all that.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

just 'cause I kind of feel like getting a little loose. the varmints in the neighbourhood are getting frisky on account of the warm spell.

Posted by: -jack- | January 21, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Oops, that link didn't work as planned, I see that it requires a ZIP code. You can use - 20006. That's the ZIP at the White House, and is representative of the subscription price for the close-in DC metro area.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Bob - I've heard the P-D is losing subscribers like crazy - I've even considered canceling it to save the money, but can't bring myself to. Maybe it we could get it for $100/year more of us would do it? It's a pitiful ghost of its former self - only about 8-10 pages some days, and they've shrunk the page size.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 21, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, do you get delivery of your local paper? Maybe the smaller the town the higher the cost? That would put us between I-Mom and MsJS, I guess.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 21, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy - Actually, that probably is an introductory rate, and I can't remember what the regular rate is. The last time I renewed, I paid for something like two or three years, so I haven't gotten a bill in quite a while. But even after several price increases in the past few years, the Post is one of the best bargains in the business, for sure.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 21, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I know that, loomis.
That's why I didn't mention her.

You brought up the grandparents' apartment, I just imagined the President and his family staying there instead of a location that had enough space and resources (power, networks, etc.) for all of his support and some degree of security in place that the Secret Service could suppliment in order to meet those requirements.

But I'm sure you'd already thoroughly considered those things before you voiced your criticisms.

Maybe he should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express? [Hey -- perhaps then he'd get a National Health Care plan passed, bring the Iraq war to a conclusion, get Osama bin Laden, and have the NCAA adopt a Playoff system for the Div. 1 National Football Championship...]


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

bc, tune in the B-J auction. there's some sweet vehicles on the block.

Posted by: -jack- | January 21, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess I won't be moving to save the $100 a year on the local paper, since you can get a decent little house here in the best school district pretty cheap. There are 2 bedroom condos in this school district for $90K.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 21, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

I, too, want to cancel my subscription to the Post, since we read it online and it tends to pile up in the driveway, but I don't have the heart to.

I've put it on a long-term vacation stop and donated the papers toward their papers for education program. But now I'm thinking of telling our new next-door neighbors to go ahead and pick it up in the morning.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

too cool. yet another thing to get when i get big.

Posted by: -jack- | January 21, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

jack, thanks for the heads-up. I don't watch the B-J auctions too much, makes me crazy to see stuff sell for way too much money.

Cool cars, though. Ah -- and an old Airstream. Cool.


Posted by: -bc- | January 21, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

'gdday all. I'm back from Toronto. There is not a speck of snow in that town. So that's official, TO is its own country, it's not in Canada.
Obama running the exec branch from a different time zone than Texas, the horror!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 21, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I always thought Canada was part of Toronto :-). Has been strangely spring like here lately, not that I am complaining.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 21, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

A science-y question which I think was covered here before, but I don't pay much attention to science topics: does a rocket out in space burn regular rocket fuel, and would it trail flame in space the way it does here, without oxygen?

Sorry if this is stupid, but physics homework is being done and this came up. Mastery of algebra and googling the appropriate equations got us through the regular homework, but I can't answer this non-homework question.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 21, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

This seems appropriate somehow:

I was paying almost $250 a year for the Seattle PI, which is why I cancelled it when I got laid it went web-only about the same time. I get the Seattle Times Sunday paper and it costs more than $100 a year, delivered.

Posted by: seasea1 | January 21, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I meant to add to my post that I would gladly pay the entire subscription price for the online version only and keep my driveway from looking like we're on vacation all the time.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 21, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I bet your new neighbors read the Post on-line too, and wouldn't want to have to come over and pick up the paper everyday either. I know I get sick of picking up the sodden things in the driveway.

Seasea, I think I'm going to have to cancel my sub (circulation for the Seattle paper must have been close to circulation for the paper here, for the prices to be so similar) if they call me dunning me for my payment being 2 days late one more time. Their billing doesn't sync with my bill-paying, and at first I couldn't understand why they were calling, and then I laughed at them. I'm buying the paper as a good deed, and they're dunning me! That first sentence wasn't English, but I'm tired.

G'night, all.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 22, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

TBG, if Persephone the cat won't fetch your paper, I know a dawg that will. 'Course she'll also frisk along the sidewalk to greet the sk8trbois, but nobody's perfect.

Going upstate for the weekend, but I'm taking tomorrow off as a comp, staycation, day.

I'd be happy to pay for NYT and WaPo online access.

Posted by: -dbG- | January 22, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Whether or not it burns oxygen depends on the rocket fuel being used, but other than that: yes.

"Flame" and "trail" don't do justice to the exhaust of a powerful rocket. It's super-heated gas, glowing from thermal excitation in the heat from the ignition chamber, being ejected in one direction. It's not a trail of bread crumbs left lying in space behind the rocket -- the gas is moving opposite the direction of the vehicle, and moving much faster than the vehicle.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 22, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tim! Hi, dbG, LTNS!

And now I really am going to bed.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 22, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: yellojkt | January 22, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

A remarkable Japanese animated movie, Millenium Actress, featured a countdown for the launching of a sci-fi rocket. In English, of course.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 22, 2010 4:39 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

There's a WaPo head under the "Discussion" section that simply says, "Tweeting and Balling."

There's nothing I can say. I'm just shaking my head.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 22, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Mudge. Just you and me on dawn patrol, I suppose. How about ham and cheese croissants for breakfast, for a change?

Hi Cassandra, I hope you don't have to ford rivers to get to the doctor today.

Yesterday the construction folks set the trusses for Mr. T's garage in the rain. That's dedication! My goal today is to get my car out of the way before they come, so I don't have to ask them to move so I can get out.

Posted by: slyness | January 22, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Wheezy, to add to Tim's post:

For combustion of "regular" rocket fuels, you need oxygen. Spacecraft have it onboard (in liquid form or as a component of other fuels) and inject it to the combustion. Or in the case of extra-atmosphereic solid fuels, it's part of the makeup of that fuel.

And as *Tim points out, sometimes there's a visible jet of burned gasses in space, sometimes there's not, depending on the fuels used.

Find some old videos of the Lunar Module ascent stages lifting off of the moon, and you won't see big plumes of rocket exhaust. Just a cloud of debris tossed from the ignition and the thing just lifts into the sky like Willy Wonka's glass elevator.


Posted by: -bc- | January 22, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. I always get nervous when I see a phalanx of impatient snowplows lined up along the beltway.

Excellent point there, bc, about the pragmatic importance of a large facility for the President. (Of course, how we got from the intrinsic exoticism of Hawaii to this is a little weird. But I digress.)

And yet, there is, I assert, an interesting question here about just how much Presidential extravagance is appropriate.

I mean, jeepers, the President has a whole airplane devoted just to him (and a real fancy one at that.) Plus, I hear, all the snacks he wants. Further the President gets to throw all these snazzy parties with exotic hard-to-spell foods.

How come he gets these kinds of indulgences when so many hardworking 'mericans don't?

The answer, it seems to me, is because he is the President.

That is, even *above and beyond* the legitimate pragmatic need for some of these things there is a symbolic importance.

And while some might perceive the symbolism as one of decadent entitlement, I assert a much more common interpretation is that these "percs" are a recognition that we value the Office of the Presidency and what it stands for.

As a nation, we think the Chief Executive is important. Goodness knows we certainly expect a lot from him. And so we advertise our respect for this office to individuals, both domestic and foreign, by indulging in a little flash.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

RD-excellent points as usual. I found out in September that a mayor (even of a tiny town in the middle of nowhere) takes precedence in seating protocol over a 2 star general. I think that says a lot about how Americans feel about elective offices, even if they don't always like the people who occupy them.

Lily the black bear is in labor, so the experts say. You can watch her on live web cam here

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 22, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD.

I believe a President on travel needs to be ready for responding to Anything and Everything as a matter of ongoing business (ever think he *really* takes a full day off? I don't) and emergency situations. Direct attacks upon him. Terrorist events. Global conflicts and wars. Natural disasters. Processing Intelligence. Politics. Meetings. Press conferences. Not only a vacation spot, but an emergency command post for the entire country and our interests if need be.

He'e got to have what he and his staff and cabinet need to be effective as President and Commander in Chief, which is more than what you find next to the ice maker at Hotel 6.


Posted by: -bc- | January 22, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "He's"



Posted by: -bc- | January 22, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Padouk, he gets more than just one airplane. There are several other airplanes that carry staff, communications, etc., along with Air Force One, depending on where he's going and for how long. Plus sometimes there may be escort aircraft. There are aircraft that go a day or two ahead carrying advance teams, and aircraft that stay a day or two after he leaves, as comm stuff and staff pack up. And nothing wrong with this.

That's not even counting helicopters as well as those super-secret airborne command center aircraft, which one sees all the time in this region if ya know what yer looking at and recognize the paint schemes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! Time once again to go hang out in an incredibly loud donut for a non-invasive diagnostic procedure.

As long as the roads are passable, that is. They seem to be, but ya never know...

*TFSMIF-no-matter-what Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 22, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point Mudge! Wow, the guy's got, like, an entourage.

(And I've always thought the acronym "TACAMO" was ridiculously fun to say.)

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.
RD, perhaps the most important presidential perk not always offered to gummint workers - I bet he gets free coffee at his workplace. All day. Even all night.

I'm not going to a web cam to watch anything in labor. Not even a bear.

I don't subscribe to our local paper. Partly this is because it is not very good; partly because they can't or won't deliver it anywhere near my door, and I don't want to go a quarter mile up to the road just for the paper (if it survives varmints, traffic and weather). I buy a Sunday edition and check online every morning for business, crime & politics news. By the way, Bobs, when I subscribed to the dead tree WSJ an online subscription was not included - and this was before Murdoch.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 22, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

That's why the Beach Boys sang about it, right RD_P?

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 22, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I can think of oh, about a hundred Boodlers who'll love this:

A thousand pardons if I'm late to the party... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 22, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, I knew there was a good reason we didn't go up in the Washington Monument when we visited last year ;-)

I cannot imagine a more difficult job than that of POTUS. No true 'vacations' from it no matter where you are. If a change of scenery helps to keep the pressure to manageable levels, I'm all for it. Two 'vacations' in a year is a far cry from the last president's routine.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 22, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, that is *exactly* what I thought when I first heard that Beach Boys song....

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

simply put, the office of the POTUS comes with minoins. Lots of 'em. With gadgets.

Posted by: -jack- | January 22, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Scottynuke for that video. It has brought a ray of sunshine into many a dreary cubicle.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Beautiful cold day in the other capital. Spring is expected next Sunday though.

A Canadian symbol doesn't make it through the Durty Werd Phylter.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 22, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

That was a great cartoon, Scotty, thanks. Enjoy your donut (more than the agent did). Although that might have been a bagel, I suppose, nu?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 22, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The name change is so wrong, but I do understand the need. A static language becomes a dead language.

But surely the could come up with something more inventive than Canada's History. Something catchy like 'Eh?' or 'Haute Maine'. Surely they could do better.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 22, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Agreed dr, as both a Canadian, history major and former HBC employee the loss of the name is sad. Most important is that the magazine will continue as it is really good and maybe all this publicity will draw more attention to it.

Just received a text from my eldest who just wrote her first ever high school final exam (Science). She states she goofed up one electricity question but other than that thinks she did well, well for her as Science it not something that comes easily or will play a huge part in her future. Smiled when she noted she would have done better if there had been more astronomy questions - future boodler? :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | January 22, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Even the former VEEP used to send important communications on vacations.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 22, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

dmd - your oldest sounds like mine. She happily told her trig teacher yesterday that calculus next year would be her last math class, ever. She said his face fell. Tried to explain to her why telling him this had been a kinda sorta bad idea, but she wasn't buying it. She is brutal to math teachers, based on her philosophy that it's an objective field and the teachers can't fail you if they hate you, so why not? This child needs to learn some social skills, fast.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 22, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Not too many donut shops north of the Monument, 'Mudge, so I'd go with a bagel.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 22, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

dmd - didn't mean to imply that your oldest is as mean as mine!

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 22, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Nice to know that the Secret Service did a good CYA in Hawaii at the end of December, when they, along with the President's social secretary, did such a miserable job at the end of last November with the Salahis and Carlos Allen. I'm sure the Secret Service's presence helped to dissuade any personal attacks on Obama by dolphins or manatees lurking in the waters just offshore the former Castle home in Kailua.

Posted by: laloomis | January 22, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Didn't take it that way Wheezy.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 22, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

No manatees in Hawaii; they belong in and around the Caribbean. During the recent cold spell, just over 5000 were counted in Florida.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 22, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Ohhhh, Snukie -- what a great cartoon. I'm sending it all over the place.

Posted by: -ftb- | January 22, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Krugman today:

Eugene Robinson says much the same thing. And yeah, yello, you've got it right with the surrender monkeys. I'm getting close to blaming pretty much everyone, but there's still time for them to grow a spine and redeem themselves.

My only representatives in Congress are conservative Rs; who can I write? Maybe the really good rep from my childhood hometown? He's a neighbor of my parents and the father of an old classmate, so he'd know me. Yeah, I think I'll do that. Maybe I'll write my old rep from Austin, too.

Posted by: -bia- | January 22, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

dr and dmd, I don't know if you guys are aware, but right on the outskirts of Philly (literally a 1,000 yards or thereabouts from the city line) there is a small college that had the same name as that magazine (and the same initials as a certain automotively obsessed Boodler). It was founded in 1853, and to make matters worse it used to be an all-girls college until it became coed. In 2001, after 148 years, it had to change its name; it is now Arcadia University. So it managed to keep its Canucki influence.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 22, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking that Loomis may be right that it was out of step for Obama to stay in a huge luxury home while he was on vacation while Americans are struggling with the economy.

We should take that even further... since the median house price in the US is at about $185,000 these days, he should probably move out of the White House (another huge luxury home) and into a what $185,000 can buy you in DC: a 450-square-foot studio apartment on Mass Ave... or this townhouse in NE:

Posted by: -TBG- | January 22, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

But TBG, the daisy chain of grievances has now switched to incompetent secret service agents and geographically challenged manatees. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The topics around here always shift in unexpected ways.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

loomis, I'm sure you were thinking of the USS Cole when you wrote your 10:19.

Also, I'm sure you know for sure that the US isn't the only country to have developed programs using dolphins for military purposes.


Posted by: -bc- | January 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I want to discuss breasts--evolution-wise and briefly, from A to Z.

Where do breasts come from?

Surprisingly, I found the answer the same afternoon that I was advised here not to discuss breast cancer since it wasn't on-Kit. I found the answer in of all the places the next (fourth) chapter I was going to read in Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish," in his chapter tilted, "Teeth Everywhere," in the section, "Teeth, Glands and Feathers." The second in the papagraph in this section summarizes it beautifully:

"The key to tooth development is that an interaction between these two layers of tissue, an outer sheet of cells and an inner loose layer of cells, causes the tissue to fold and makes both layers secret the molecules that build the organ. It turns out that exactly the same process underlies the development of all the structures that develop within skin: scales, hair, feathers, sweat glands, even mammary glands. In each case, two layers come together, fold, and secrete proteins. Indeed, the barriers of the major genetic switches that are activbe in this process in each kind of tissue are largely similar.

Shubin's accompanying diagram really shows the progression of skin to the four outward manifestations of teeth, breasts, feathers, and hair, vividly illustrating the interactions between layers of skin.

-more- (leaving Shubin and moving forward on the evolutionary scale)

Posted by: laloomis | January 22, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

CasaJS ran out of both cookies and muffins yesterday, so I baked (you're all shocked, I know).

Did a bit better w/ the muffins than previous efforts. I put in spinach and goat cheese. Those are the ingredients in MrJS' favorite omelet and we thought it would be fun to try them in muffins.

The ingredients used in muffin recipes shared by others are on the grocery list for next week. Stay tuned.

And now we return you to your regular programming.

Posted by: MsJS | January 22, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Or you could subdivide the White House, seemed to be a lot of unused space all that lawn. Mini white house townhouses. :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | January 22, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

TBG, Obama might follow the lead of Grimsson, who has his suburban address and phone number listed in the phone book, and answers his phone when you call him :-)

The other thing to remember is that those big luxury homes generally have fairly extensive grounds, meaning an effectively-patrolled perimeter around persons of importance.

Oh! Good morning, Boodle!

Posted by: Yoki | January 22, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

MsJS... funny that you mention muffin ingredients. Yesterday Daughter was home sick with a cold and she made herself corn muffins with pieces of hot dog in them... like corndogs on a plate. They were delightful!

Posted by: -TBG- | January 22, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I want to discuss ponies. My daughter tells me I can't have one because I am too old. I think she is just being mean.

Okay, enough of this.

Regarding HCR. (Not to be confused with HRC.) I agree that since the House has it within its power to implement something very centrist *right now* it would be a shame for it to slip away. That said, I believe that the House has up to a full year to act on this, don't they? Perhaps by choosing to focus on more salient issues right now there is a chance of creating a better environment in a few months.

I don't know. Maybe this is just wishful thinking.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Whoa... the White House is a symbol of our country and its history.

All presidents, liked or not, don't just have the right to live and work there, it's an obligation in order to do the job.

Presidents, like anybody else, do have the right to vacation where-ever they wish, and as they're always on-call, they need a house that has adequate security and infrastructure to work from. Therefore, presidents do tend to vacation at one or two spots over and over.

Coolidge used to vacation at Superior, WI, and even kept his summer offices there. This was before cell phones, so they had to set up phone lines that could not be used by other people or known to the wrong people.

Back then there was no air conditioning so people fled from the East Coast to lakeshore country for summer vacations that could be a month or so, and the North country is amazing in summer, much cooler than the East Coast, and there's swimming, boating, fishing.

Silent Cal didn't just vacation, he actually set up a summer White House there, hiding from the heat of DC and fishing regularly. Back then he wasn't compared to regular Americans, but kings and presidents.,9171,928856,00.html

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 22, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Of course you do, loomis.
Gets us right off of the President Obama Hawiian vacation topic brought up by -- who?

Let me add one thing about moving the President around -- how many Presidential (and Presidential related) assination attempts have occurred in hotels? I'm sure there are still a few Secret Service folks around from the Reagan administration.


Posted by: -bc- | January 22, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I remember every Sunday driving to my grandmother's house and passing Vice President Hubert Humphrey's house on the way. While he was Vice President. I always thought that was very cool.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 22, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

RD_P: What would be considered "centrist", HCR-wise?

Posted by: MsJS | January 22, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

MsJS - because the Senate bill is roughly half way between a single-payer and nothing at all.

But Joel has up a new kit!

He doesn't want to talk about breasts *or* ponies. He wants to talk about Tigers!

So I'm gonna go give it a read.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: russianthistle | January 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Next, let's move on to the evolution of breasts via the 2009 book about the little known field of biogeography, "Here Be Dragaons: How the Study of Animals and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life On Earth," by Dennis McCarthy. I assume McCarthy is European because of some of the measurement conventions that he uses in his "Dragons" book, and because the book is published by Oxford University Press, although McCarthy currently works as a scientific researcher with the Buffalo (NY) Museum of Science.

The very attractive McCarthy:

McCarthy discusses the difference between monotremes, marsupials, and placentals, pp. 100-101.

Let's jump right to monotremes, since they are the most primitive forms of mammals and provide the jump or segue from Shubin's information very easily.

"Monotremes do suckle their young, but not from teats. Nursing mothers sweat milk along their bellies [think Shubin's skin and hair], and the young suck it up from their tufts of fur. Recently, a team of evolutionary geneticists headed by David Brawand has concluded that the common ancestor of monotremes, marsupials [who keep their immature young in a pouch or maternal pocket with the teat in the pouch or nearby], and placentals [no explanation needed] also lactated and that it was this evolutionary adaption that helped promote the switch from egg-laying to live birth. In other words, the mammal line shows a steady switch from yolk to milk as the primary nutrient of the offspring. Thus, on the evolutionary trek toward warm-bloodedness, lactation, and live births, the [monotreme] platypus still seems stuck in the middle:

Brawand's research:


Posted by: laloomis | January 22, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

A friend of mine went to the Catholic women's college with the best acronym ever: the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (CoNDoM).

I agree that we should demand greater self-abnegating monasticism from our Presidents; the gall of the man, "vacationing" in an actual State with nice weather and with which he has personal history. If he wants to go to a tropical island that is (technically) part of US territory and that has good security, he should consider Johnson Atoll:,-76.884648&sspn=0.022547,0.019033&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Johnson+Atoll&t=h&z=15&iwloc=A

If he just can't bring himself to enjoy such luxury, I had considered the possibility of Battle Mountain, NV ("Armpit of America"). The problem is that Battle Mountain (BM for short) is reputed to have a squalid little house of prostitution, which could be a problem for some future Presidents (and some past ones). After due consideration, therefore, I propose that Presidents take their summer vacations in Alaska. It's arguably an actual state of the United States, unless Todd Palin gets his way, and it's well provided with security services that are trained for the repulsion of invading Russians. As a particular location, here's a quaint town that can provide all the peace and tranquility that a vacationing Presidential family could require:,+Alaska&sll=16.732272,-169.530837&sspn=0.055729,0.038066&g=Johnson+Atoll&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Livengood,+Yukon-Koyukuk,+Alaska&ll=65.524415,-148.544769&spn=0.096439,0.152264&t=h&z=13&iwloc=A

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 22, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

To return to the actual subject of Achenbach's blog, I'll ask two questions:

1. How many of you out there who read Achenbach online are also print subscribers? As the boys in the poolroom are fond of saying, "Money talks and bull#### walks."

2. If the Post charged $18.00 a week to read it, and the New York Times charged $6.50, what do you think that the revised relative circulation figures might look like? The Times has a loyal customer base that for the most part has shown proof that's it's willing to pay for what it gets. OTOH the Post has proven that as long as the stock market cooperates, its other holdings can continue to subsidize the paper itself. Those short term profitability statements that Achenbach and Milbank trumpet are easy to do when you're cutting staff to the bone.

This isn't a knock on Achenbach himself, who's one of the Post's few good remaining writers outside the A section. But as far as the Post is concerned, he's whistling in the dark.

Posted by: andym108 | January 23, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

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