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Atom smashers and college crashers

I wish the people at CERN would ease up for a moment on all the talk about learning the secrets of the universe and just say what's surely on their minds: We're so glad this dang thing works!

The curse of the can-do professions (scientists, engineers, astronauts, Marines, etc.) is a reluctance to tell people precisely how hard it is to achieve what they do. Part of the code of the corps is you don't mention uncertainties and fears. Keep in mind that the LHC is in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, and it contains more than a thousand huge magnets, supercooled, that all have to work properly to bend the beam in a circle. Lots of things can go wrong, and, in fact, they did go wrong, very wrong, a year and a half ago, delaying the project. With the success this week, the LHC scientists and engineers should announce that they're going out drinking for a week. Heading straight to the nearest beer garden. "We're going to get completely hammered," the chief scientist will say. "I'll show you 'smashed.'"


Your scribbler is on the road again, college hunting once more. Middle daughter this time. She is known to have discerning tastes. At bare minimum we need to find a college where the sun always shines and no one ever has a bad day. Also there should be a Jamba Juice in the cafeteria, or the equivalent. This whole thing could pivot on the professor/student ratios and the smoothie options.

I will note that the search does focus one's mind anew on matters of money. You may recall that I recently pondered the many and overlapping claims on any future marginal dollar that I make, and whether I am in danger of reaching a point in which it makes no sense to even try to earn that dollar. Obama has nationalized the student loan industry, as I understand it, but the WSJ insists that this will make college even more unaffordable. A major reason for health-care reform, at least initially, was bringing down costs, but the conservatives says it will cause my premiums to rise (and eventually my taxes). Here's what I can report: Every college I go to, I see mirror images of myself -- guys (and gals) of middle age with their 11th-graders, tromping down college pathways, hearing the virtues of the great university, and wondering how on earth they're going to pay for it.

I may start carrying a sign: "Will Teach Journalism Class For Food."

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 31, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
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Beware of Chinese shrimp.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

A few other criteria your daughter may want to consider, Mr. A:
--proximity of nearby eateries you can take your dad to when he visits (of course, he's treating)
--someplace to park the car dad will eventually get for you
--dorm rooms big enough for all the necessities of life, including refrigerator and Blu-Ray
--cable hook-up included in dorm fee

Best of luck. It's a rite of passage that I promise you will look on fondly in future times.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Pepperdine. Just go. Sun, happy days, and if there isn't a Jamba Juice there'll be something just like it.

Of course, the state of California is broke and one of these days will fall into the ocean, but no place is perfect.

I'd suggest "Will Teach Journalism For Tuition Break" but the schools are onto that scam. They'll give you food first.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

This kit makes me grateful that:

1. My children both already have their bachelor's degrees.

2. They earned them in North Carolina at excellent public universities, where the going rate is much more affordable than other places.

Good luck, Joel! I hope the college funds are in decent shape.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Mr. A, a lot of my college years are but misty wisps of filtered imagery, but one thing that stands out clearly is the low quality of university cuisine.

Ask for anything but food.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I happen to know for a fact that there is small college in Palo Alto with a Jamba Juice in the student center. However, for the price of tuition there, you could probably enroll her in a state university and buy the JJ franchise rights for Salisbury, MD. Which would also solve the extra income problem as well. Would she settle for Pinkberry?

Do DC students still get in-state rates at any state college? That sounds like a sweet deal.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm about to move to a new office, where there will be no room for the mini-fridge that's in the current office. You want it? We're a physics lab, not a chemistry or biology lab, so there has not been anything (intentionally) poisonous or vile in it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Not time for my #2 to start looking for colleges yet, but she has also specified warmer climes and proximity to an ocean.

I noted that actually getting a quality college education and a degree were the goals rather than a 4-year resort vacation and a year-round tan.


Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

That would kinda rule out Joel's dirt road alma mater, Gatorland - Florida's only four year theme park.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I went to a college that was fairly sunny most of the year. Unfortunately, sunbathing was discouraged because of the smog. Sunscreen and sulfuric acid are a nasty combination.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 31, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with the road trip, Joel! Heck, by the time you do this again you will have it down to a science.

I'm unfamiliar with the details of the new student loan program, but I can't see how removing the middleman could be considered a bad thing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 31, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I had a Facebook Teabagger rant about how this was a socialist takeover of the student loan system. I countered that it was an end to corporate welfare. If Uncle Sam is backing the loans, why shouldn't he get the profit?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Which reminds me that I have a FAFSA to fill out. It's not quite as painful as that sounds, but it isn't pleasant.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Just think JA, after the college bills, there will be the wedding bills. Dad of the bride pays (when the time comes, may I suggest you buy the chosen gentleman a ladder?) Daunting as it sounds, try to squeeze in the wedding before they head to graduate school, making that bill is theirs.

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 31, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Two words: DeVry or Strayer.

from the Web site:

Strayer University's Flagship Campus!

The Washington Campus is conveniently located in downtown DC, near discounted parking and just two blocks from the McPherson Square and Farragut North Metro stations. Undergraduate and graduate programs in high-demand fields such as accounting, business, education, health services administration, information systems, and public administration are available at this campus."

Joel, this is only two or three blocks from where you work! You and #2 could commute together every day! Have lunch together downtown at the Post Pub or the Firehook Bakery! Think of the bonding opportunities! And on class breaks she could come visit you as you sit in front of the Post building with your dark sunglasses and begging cup, asking strangers to donate to the welfare of your children.

And DeVry has locations in Arlington and Manassas!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Instead of "Will Teach Journalism Class For Food," you'd be much more successful with "Will Repair Buggy Whips For Gruel." The begging unemployed journalist market is a little bit saturated, but a good buggy whip repair man can name his price.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Strayer sounds a really convenient place for a student that wants to be a part time waitress at McCormick and Schmick. I hear some of those happy hour crowds tip very well.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

This college thing is turning into a moneymaking business for Witch no.1. Her latest award grant pushed her intake above the tuition fee. Of course I paid the tuition(half tuition really, thanks to her making the Dean's list), so that's making it real profitable for her...

But she's far from the Ocean and suntanning is out of the question for at least 8 months of the year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

One LHC-related comment:

In these proton collisons, have we seen strangelets yet?

If so, where do they go?
I know where bracelets go and I know where anklets go.

So I ask the question -- where do strangelets go?


Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

May I respectfully suggest that Achenchick Zwei consider the attractions of Walden College aka "the Harvard of south central Connecticut"? One point in particular- In 1993 Walden received national attention when it was hit with a $5 million lawsuit by a student allegedly stigmatized by a low grade. As a result, WC President King decisively ended grade inflation by making straight A's mandatory.

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

More importantly, are strangelets made of Mudge's gold bouillon?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The good folks at CERN talk about unlocking the secrets of the universe and finding the Higgs particle in order to justify the $10 billion spent and 20 years of work.

Heck, the Europeans need to think bigger. Spending $10 billion to find the Higgs particle is nothing. We (Americans)spent, what, close to $1 trillion looking in vain for WMD in Iraq. For that kind of money we could have found not only the Higgs particle, but also all the parallel universes, all the dark matter, all the dimensions, and all the strings.

Posted by: acxent | March 31, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather go to the school with Alex.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

acxcent, I'm not sure $1T will find Everything, but we'd probably shake a fair amount of loose change out from beneath the cushions of the Great Couch of the Universe while we're looking.

OK, and maybe a few M&Ms and old dessicated french fries.

Sometimes I feel like even if I had $500B hands, I couldn't find my a$$.


Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

SD, I'm glad you caught the gold bouillon joke. I was afraid it had passed by unnoticed (and, well...igknorred). I was rather proud of it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If we are looking for couch cushion change, I would suggest starting in Iraq. I understand that palettes of cash just fall of the plane ramps over there.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

gold bouillon...igknorred

*hamster on the spinwheel inside otherwise vast empty cranium space*

*light bulb finally turns on*

I am so totally out of my league with y'all.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I once had a cat named Strangelet.

Little did I know, in the mid-80s, that one good reason for spacing children 5 years apart (mine are 2.5) would be to avoid overlapping university tuition obligations. What with #1 doing her MBA, I've managed just that for 3 years. *Sigh*

Posted by: Yoki | March 31, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I caught the gold boullion bit, too.

Nicely done.

About 70% of the references, jokes, japes, puns, etc. I post are unnoticed, and I've come to realize that in my case, it's probably for the best. Ambigutiy and obscurity are primary colors in my palette (word buckets, actually) - as befits my work as the Jackson Pollock of the English Language.


Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I spent most of my adult life working in a academia. Every place I worked offered free tuition to employees and their immediate families, either at the place itself or throughout whatever consortium the college/univ was a member of.

I had a number of colleagues who put several kids through college on the cheap. One sent all 6. Iirc, one of the 6 wanted to attend school outside the consortium, but warned he'd have to pay for the whole thing himself, stayed in tha yard and complained for 4 years.

You can probably do better than food for teaching!

Posted by: -dbG- | March 31, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, BroJS and his wife have three in kollitch as we speak. And though the oldest graduates in May, grad skul awaits her in August.

BroJS sez he frequently is reminded of Ross Perot's comments about "that great sucking sound."

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I get every single one of your allusions but don't call out any of them so as to protect my delusion that others are doing the same with mine.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't think they go unnoticed, just unacknowledged, for one reason or another.

Posted by: Yoki | March 31, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

bc, I am particularly fond of Jackson Pollock's works. Try connecting *those* dots, eh?

Yoki, I just emailed something spectacular to you. Also, my Red Wings have won 6 in a row. We are crawling up the food chain in our section of the universe, indeed. Hope we're not peaking too soon, though.

Mudge, IIRC, I snorted at your gold bouillion pun, too.

BTW, LiT, I backboodled enough to read your rant to loomis last night and to read the actual author's remarks. Absolutely right on! And Ivansmom, you are indeed right that what loomis did was *not* fair use.

The sun (whazzat?) is shining and the temperature is going inexorably upwards. I'll just bet that if I were currently down at the Tidal Basin, I would actually be able to *hear* the cherry blossoms explode into their glory. Makes all the choking on pollen worth it, indeed.

Posted by: -ftb- | March 31, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

bc, Mudge, all y'all, I pretty much always get your jokes and like them. I'm just really bad about saying so. Often by the time I see them the Boodle has moved far, far on. I loved the whole setup to the Knorr/bullion thing yesterday.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Charlie Rose interviewed a couple of LHC folks last night - Lisa Randall and Kyle Cranmer. I only caught the 2nd half, and mostly had no idea what they were talking about, but parts were interesting. Kyle looks to be about 12 years old, but he said he had been working on LHC type problems for 10 years, so I guess he's actually older.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 31, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I can relate just a teeny tiny bit with the researchers at the LHC. That is, I know what it is like to work on a complicated high-tech system intended to uncover new knowledge. And sometimes it isn't even the high-tech part that causes all the problems. (Really, you would think brake-pads would be more reliable.)

It can be a bit surreal to stand there with your body covered in metaphorical grease stains while gazing proudly as the Gadget belches fire, only to have someone say, "Finally. Now we can get started."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 31, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Metaphorical grease stains are b1tch to get out, too. Pre-soaking helps, but not all such stains come out. Also, sometimes one needs to go to a place like Trak Auto to get some metaphorical decreaser. But if you aren't careful, sometimes these degreasers will remove the paint from your soul.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't get many metaphorical grease stains, but most of my suits have figurative scorch marks. Not really anything you can do to get them out. Just stop, drop and roll.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Joel, UT-Austin has a Jamba Juice on the Drag just across the street from campus, and there's lots of sun! But, oh, she cares about professor-student ratio? Never mind. Maybe for grad school.

Posted by: -bia- | March 31, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I missed the news originally, but the NYT reported today that the LHC is only able to operate at half power because the defect that caused the original fire/explosion has not ever been fixed. The plan is to continue to operate at half power (which, the Times said, will have them doing the same magnitude of work as Fermilab [is that in terms of electron volts, or what?]) for a year and a half, and then they're going to have to take it down entirely for another year to make repairs before they can operate at full power.

As far as college costs go, when I was a junior or senior, it was the first year that tuition, room and board was over $20,000 anywhere in the US--I think it was Bennington in Vermont, which for a while liked the cache of being the most expensive school in the US. Now private school tuitions are $50K+. By the time my kids are there, I'd expect it to be $75K plus, or $300K for four years. Times 3, that's probably a million dollars if you include books, plane flights and other associated expenses. Who can afford that?

Posted by: Awal | March 31, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Just had a great Polish Burrito ... (a variation)

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

OMG. The WaPo has a recipe for a fresh ham brined in SANGRIA (pardon my shouting). Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That could make this Easter bunny weak in the knees.

So what you're telling me, awal, is that the LHC can only produce watery quark-gluon gruel?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, did you watch the ham deboning video? Good line in it, "this isn't my blood."

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I, being a slacker, am also a lazy speaker. I support lazy speech to a degree, and it is inevitable so why fight it? "TV" used to be frowned upon. Thus I say "fridge" rather than refrigerator, "glove box" rather than glove compartment, "sub" versus submarine, hoagie, grinder, etc. I do attempt to avoid the complete mush mouth, however. With mixed success. I tend to drop terminal "t"s and "k"s. Not "g"s though.

Here's a neat website a friend sent me which I perused and bookmarked. PolitiFact. I read this article a minute ago; the main page is readily available:

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

LiT, it was always understood in my family that grad school was on our own dime, regardless of marital status. Maybe it's just because I grew up with that idea, but I've never considered grad school a parental financial responsibility the way that undergrad often is. If parents want to help, thanks for the generosity, but if kids automatically expect it, I start thinking negative thoughts about their sense of entitlement.

Posted by: -bia- | March 31, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

A Polish burrito? Wouldn't that be a burrogi?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The financial aid forms are on the side of the kids. Until they are 25, it's the ability of parents to pay, not willingness to pay, that sets the tab for your little grad student. That table waiting job at M&S is looking better all the time.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

A perogy burrito is called a "perrito", apparently. I ate them all the time in Central America. Very inexpensive, too.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yello, that makes sense. It didn't apply in my family because both my sister and I took a few years in the real world before grad school. I found it very valuable to my growing up and figuring out who I was and what I actually wanted to do. Plus I was crazy burned out at the end of college. But going straight on or not is one of those personal life choice things, so I shouldn't dump on anyone who makes a different choice.

Posted by: -bia- | March 31, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, being a big fan of the pierogi lifestyle, and Bulgogi, but this one was Polish Sausage, Kapusta, Mustard and Horseradish (and some sliced jalapenos to make it legit.

Mexican food was never better.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, saw the video, weed. I liked that line, too.

I gotta tell ya, that vid made me rethink my entire post-mortal cremation plans. I'm now beginning to think I want to be brined in sangria for a couple days before I go the Viking funeral route. I mean, what's the downside?

That Newt Gingrich story is amazing. I uded to think the man had a few brains. I was wrong.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The sangria might make for some nice flames, Mudge.

Posted by: -bia- | March 31, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What, no butt of malmsey?

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

yello, all the more reason for parents to insist the college grad work for a year or two before grad school.

Yeah, I know it's not always practical.

PaterJS made it abundantly clear to his offspring that grad school financial support would not be forthcoming. But knowing that upfront allowed me to plan how to make it work. Just like a real grownup.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

You must have run across that Polish burrito concoction during one of your south-of-the-border visits to Ciudad Cracow or Guadalachzstochowa.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Could someone please tell me what Jamba Juice is so I have a mental picture?

My brain keeps trying to render it into something French and it hurts...

Posted by: qgaliana | March 31, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Kirk Douglas shows how it's done-

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Newt lost me in 1995 when he was talking about women in combat, and men hunting giraffes:

Posted by: seasea1 | March 31, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Malmsey will do just fine, kguy. It's very close to sangria anyway. Although I don't think I'd need the full 126 gallons (U.S. measurment) that comes in a standard butt. It's getting my butt into the butt that could be a problem, though, if rigor has set in.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought a Polish burrito was a regular burrito chased down by a generous shot of vodka.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Jamba Juice is an overpriced frozen fruit juice slushie in much the same way that a frapaccino is an overpriced milkshake.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

When the ship was launched, it is clear in that short clip that the sweep was sculling. Who is the poor dude who had to man the sweep in order to get the ship out onto that obviously wind-less body of placid water before it suddenly became a pleasantly breezy marine environment of light seas? Did he jump overboard, or did he go down with his ship, seeing as he would be the de facto skipper and he had a passenger who was unable to depart?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I was only in graduate school for a year, so my experience isn't typical, but it never occurred to me to ask my parents for financial support. And it really wasn't needed because an intrinsic part of the graduate school curriculum was serving as a paid graduate assistant. At least this was the position we always took with the IRS in order to avoid income tax.

That said, of course, I was still under my father's medical insurance, and I would drive home every weekend to fatten myself up. So I wasn't exactly completely on my own.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 31, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You know, the more I hear about college costs around the country the more I appreciate the beauty of in-state tuition.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 31, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I just thought you might prefer the Shakespearian precedent, Clarence-wise and pickling-wise. Probably easier if you're already
bereft of life, bloodless, bought the farm, breathless, buried, cadaverous, checked out, cold, cut off, deceased, defunct, departed, done for, erased, expired, extinct, gone, gone to meet maker, gone to reward, inanimate, inert, late, lifeless, liquidated, mortified, no more, not existing, offed, out of one's misery, passed away, perished, pushing up daisies, reposing, resting in peace, spiritless, stiff, unanimated, wasted, in short, an ex-parrot, er, curmudgeon.

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

A 22-oz "Original" Pomegranate Pick-Me-Up has 370 calories and is make of pomegranate juice blend (blend of what, it doesn't say), mixed berry juice blend, frozen strawberries, raspberry sherbet, frozen blueberries, and ice.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, the folks at would be more than happy to offer you one of their caloric fruit-based drinks, slushies, and smoothies. Maybe even a franchising opportunity.

I'm guessing a frappucchino doesn't have enough daily product in it to qualify as a milkshake. Makes it even more overpriced when you think about it as mostly water.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

When I hit grad school the first time, I just had to get a copy of my mom's tax returns to certify she wasn't claiming me for anything. I'd left home a year earlier. It shouldn't have been a shock that they found her claiming head of household. There went any aid for the year, so that $100 she saved cost her about 2k when my sister's outrage guilted her into paying for my first semester.

2nd time around, assistantship to the rescue. Full ride plus they paid me. What a deal! What I do now at work isn't all that different from
grad school except the money's better.

And SDS Pizza doesn't deliver to Philadelphia.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 31, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

This Matt Miller piece is pretty good.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it is fair to label kids who are lucky enough to have grad school paid for as entitled. #1 is working full time, going to school, and running a household. Himself and I *wanted* to pay for her schooling, just to give her the best possible start. She is certainly not lazy, and she did offer to go the loan route, but we didn't want her to start off with debt.

Posted by: Yoki | March 31, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Is "metaphorical degreaser" available as a boodle handle?

I took a look at the Hutaree website. On their page regarding the tribulation and government efforts to implant microchips in citizens, they are careful to point out that the idea of the "Rapture" is completely bogus, and a misreading of the Bible.

It's a relief to know that they aren't, you know, nuts.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

In physics and biology and other well-funded technical fields, the expectation used to be that if the department were serious about your prospects in the field then you would have full tuition reimbursement and some mechanism to provide you with a stipend. Anything less than that as an opening offer was a sign that they harbored significant doubts about your competence to pursue the field, but they held out hope that if you could pay part or all of the cost of matriculation then your body might be productively mined for precious minerals and useful bodily fluids before tossing aside your withered stupid husk. I do not know whether this is still the case.

The humanities, of course, never had the money to support graduate student tuition and always required students to pay tuition and cover their own expenses, whether through family or otherwise. Which should be a warning sign about the remunerative possibilities of an advanced degree in the humanities. Medical school, dental school, and other vocational-education professional schools also expect you to find a way to pay the costs on your own, even though they have plenty of income from grants and fees, compared to which the tuition of students is as nothing; the reasons for this situation seem to me to be dark and unattractive to examine.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Loomis for the apology for lifting my words in yesterday's blog. I'll take the plug for my book as recompense, many thanks. And yep, if anyone wants an op-ed on the historic antecedents of priestly paedophilia, 17th century version, I guess I'm ready.

Some of you asked for more information, insights on the research - anything in particular you want to know?

Thank you for the supportive comments from the rest of you, thank you for the heads up on the original plagiarism, and the warm welcome from the rest of you. Happy to have found achenblog.

Posted by: karenliebreich | March 31, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

In order to require the use of metaphorical degreaser, you really ought to be a metaphoric mechanic with allegoric overalls. I submit that Metaphoric Mechanic would be a better boodle handle than Metaphorical Degreaser, which really implies that one is nothing more than a metaphorical solvent that sluices away everything of substance. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

SciTim nails it once again.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Withered stupid husk", on the other hand, I think would be a very fine Boodle handle. Or, perhaps, a good name for a rock band. I can tell you that I'm particularly pleased with that turn of phrase. But then, I suspect you knew that.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Interesting piece about Gingrich -- basically his claims are nothing but paranoia, lies, and soupcon of McCarthyism thrown in for good measure.

I've never really given Gingrich credit for much intelligence. Yesterday I compared George Allen to a junior-high school bully. Gingrich has always struck me as an example of another junior-high archetype: the insufferable smartass kid who labors under the illusion that he's a lot smarter than he actually is. I comfort myself in knowing that Gingrich probably got beat up a lot in junior-high by the George Allens of his world.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Karen, so glad you are here today! I love to know how you got interested in the topic and found the documents. It must have been a forensic search!

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about Newt, but Karl Rove admits in his autobiography to being beat up by a nine-year-old girl. It explains so much.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Karen!

I went to your website
and have to disagree about your "tendency to be interested in...many things" being "distressing."

It actually suits the Achenblog rather well, as we talk about many things. I'm personally interested in the community garden/organic garden work, but that's just me.

What makes the varied interests distressing and what drives you to them anyway?

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

yello, who was the 9 year old kid? Did this beatdown take place during the White House years or since?

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Nice pictures of Mars, at sites chosen by the public:

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Karen's interests apparent from her website include history, literature and gardening. So maybe we should occasionally talk about those topics in addition to physics humour, he said facetiously.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Karen, I know I speak for many here on the Boodle who would dearly love to know your views on some of the most pressing questions we hre wrestle with on an almost daily basis. To whit:

1) Thomas Kinkade. Painter of light, or horribly trite schlock merchant?

2) Doilies: Yes or no.

3) What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

4) Briefs or boxers? (Not on you, of course. Merely your views on the general theory and practice.)

5) Brussel sprouts: tasty dish, or nature's HAZMAT veggie?

I think that does it for the time being. There may be some follow-ups.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I'm loving the names of these places.

Platos Crater; Zephyria Tholus; Utopian Planitia (though how anyplace strewn with boulders is considered Utopian is beyond me).

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Get those Razzie noms ready. This is truly craptastic.

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

According to today’s article, the energy reached by the LHC is 7 trillion electron-volts. Someone can please correct me on this if I am in error, but here’s what I come up with: a volt is defined as the difference in electric potential that is required to impart to 1 coulomb of electricity a kinetic energy of 1 joule = 1 newton-meter = 1 kilogram-meter/second/second = 1 watt-second, and since there are 6.24 x 10 to the 18th power electrons in a coulomb (according to Wikipedia, of course), this means that 1 electron-volt = 1/(6.24E18) = 1.60 times 10 to the minus 19th power watt-second. The colliding beam energy of 7 trillion electron-volts is thus 7.00E12 times 1.60E-19 watt-second = 1.12 millionths of a watt-second. We thus see that this LHC beam energy is the amount of energy that is used by a 100-watt light bulb in one hundredth of one millionth of a second, which isn’t very much. In fact, since Virginia Dominion Power charges 7.227 cents per kilowatt-hour, 1.12 millionths of a watt-second would cost you 2.2 trillionths of a cent. OK, I'm sure there are a whole lot of particles in the beam, but at 2.2 trillionths of a cent of power per particle, that still doesn't sound so awesome as one might hope.

You’re going to have to do a lot better than that, LHC. Say to yourself: “Is the Large Hadron Collider just a Large Collider for Hadrons, or is it a Collider for Large Hadrons?” Take the latter approach, and start hurling some baseball-sized nuclei around, at nearly the speed of light. (OK, you’re Europeans, and you therefore don’t know how big a baseball is, so use a cricket ball instead.) That would take a whole lot of energy, and it would really run up your electric bill, but with ten thousand people working at LHC, you’re probably already familiar with that problem just from keeping that many coffee pots boiling. So have at it, LHC! Turn up the power – way, way up. Push those switches to the top settings. Turn all those amplifier knobs as far clockwise as you can turn them. Make that last power meter on the Krell dream machine glow red-hot, and never mind the monsters. Smash them atoms, and smash ‘em up good!!!

Posted by: seismic-2 | March 31, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, kguy, that was really some awesome clip! But do I detect the hand of Nora Ephron in that screenplay? A little Dalton Trumbo, maybe, or Bill Goldman?

And the CGI. Well! George Lucas must be just sick about this flick.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow. It's actually worse than Pirhanna II. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I think they saved a lot on the screenplay by simply having the characters say "Are you OK?" over and over.

Posted by: kguy1 | March 31, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Do piranha have butts one can kick?

kguy, that was carptastic. The instant I saw the dough-ish guy I thought, 'lunch.'

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I was not aware before this that pirhana could fly. Ya learn something new every day.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 31, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Yep, they can fly forward and backward apparently. Dr. Axelrod's Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fishes fails to mention it though.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The time has come, curmudgeon said
To talk of many things
Of paint -- and light -- and underwear
Of sprouts -- and hadron rings
And what's the speed a swallow flies
And whether fish have wings

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

What size aquarium are we talking about for these babies? The one that ate Dough-man for lunch would probably find my living room a bit cramped. He'd clean out my fridge in two seconds. There go my Easter Sunday fixin's--chomp.

Er, make that refrigerator.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Seismic-2 was scaring me a little, but I like that big thinking. Let's skip the cricket balls and baseballs and go right for the curling stones. Now them'd be some nuclei.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

It's the genetic engineering designed to save mankind:

Jet-propelled flatulence and eructance. The idea is that they either wind up as grenades or lunch on your plate, or both; once they bite the enemy, their gills dry out and they die, rendering them safe for dinner. See, it was completely logical to the genetic engineers; after a few dozen marijuana brownies, one does get the munchies for self-served sushi.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 31, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

rashomon, you are gooooooooood.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

One fish
Two fish
Red fish
Blue fish

by Dr. Seuss, the sweet Ted Geisel.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 31, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

*searching frantically for the day's fresh-baked brownies*


Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

fridge (mostly b/c my mother couldn't say refrigerator)
tivo even if it's dvr (and can be used as a verb as well)
and i still to this day say cuckrach for cockroach (even tho - thank fsm i don't have any) b/c spanish for cockroach is cucaracha...

graduate school - in my fam has always been self pay - only undergrads got assistance - but i worked full time and carried 18 creds a semester so, like bia, i was pretty much brain fried once i graduated. i thought of going to grad school several years ago and even did some of the pre-reqs for the program then i tried to fill out the financial paperwork and i was stumped (it reads like ikea instructions!) - how did i fill out all that paperwork for undergrad?? - oh, that's right, high school counselors!!

bc - you've never heard of "strange" as a slang? ie "he's going out to get some strange" - i shant describe it further but let's just say it's an interesting place to put a strangelet!!!


Posted by: mortii | March 31, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Veering away from fish to birds: PEEPS meet Alfred Hitchcock...51 seconds of gooey ghastliness:

If you fear the Stay Puff(t) man from Ghostbusters, this clip is not for you.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 31, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, consider toads. We could discover the secrets of earthquakes as well as hadrons.

After all, as Shakespeare said:

Round and round the hadrons go;
They the boson'd well spin through.
Toads, that under cold stone
Earthquake waves felt thirty-one;
Put in accelerators' shot,
Boil them first i' the charmed pot.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 31, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Morti! Now, I am humming the Doors' take on strange.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 31, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

HAH! cqp - i've been humming adam ants take on stand and deliver for two days now!!


Posted by: mortii | March 31, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Joel, may I suggest the University of Hawaii at Manoa? Sun shines all the time (except during hurricanes, but those only come once in a while), great cultural diversity, close to the beaches and, of course, there's this:

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | March 31, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks yello, MsJS,

So Jamba Juice is pricey fruit flavored ice... rerendering: yé cher en bibitte vôte criss de sloche. Honestly the website looks like it is fronting for Cloverfield 2.

Brussel sprouts: Si. I like all things mustard related. Halve, saute them with garlic, serve in sandwiches, preferably with lamb.

I think I like these rants with plenty of engineering notation and SI units. Bears should be an engineering unit.

Posted by: qgaliana | March 31, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

An editor! An editor! My kingdom for a copy editor!

A preview for a Natty Geo program on monkeys who are "reeking havoc."

Posted by: nellie4 | March 31, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, not all monkeys are very hygenic, nellie.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 31, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they are, nellie, I wonder. Almost a poetic tur of phrase.

Posted by: qgaliana | March 31, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

That is probably the answer, Wilbrod.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 31, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Note to all who are coming for dinner Sunday:
CasaJS is a certified Brussels sprouts free zone. We will be serving asparagus.

Posted by: MsJS | March 31, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC but I can't decide how I wanted to end 'tur'

Posted by: qgaliana | March 31, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Brussel sprout prequel at my house for Easter.

Mess of bs served up hot. Bring your favorite sauce to share.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 31, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I think that the "d" goes best in the context, qgaliana.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 31, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit, I find the phrase "reeking havoc" strangely evocative.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Your average monkey's missile weapon of choice might qualify as reeking havoc.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a pretty good description of the kitchen after some of my early culinary misadventures.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

The New English Bible in its original early 1960s version did subtle copy editing of Paul's letters.

On the college front, I recall looking at Penn, where I evidently qualified as an alumni kid, and for some reason got the idea that, for undergraduates, it would have the same huge classes as a huge state university that had doubled its size within the decade. My logic was perhaps flawed.

The liberal arts colleges that I adored didn't reciprocate the affection. I got a hint at why later on at the University of Georgia, where I spotted the lacrosse team playing a lib arts place where I'd applied. By the way, UGA had a great honors program.

I think I recall that the University of Chicago (where I didn't apply and almost certainly wouldn't have been admitted) saw its undergrad applications double after the first Indiana Jones movie came out. Jones was, after all, on their faculty.

I've seen an omen of catastrophe for the Democratic Party this fall. A local orthopedist claims he's besieged by people wanting their still-good joints replaced NOW because when they're actually necessary, joint replacement surgery will no longer be available, thanks to the freshly-passed health care legislation.

Random guesses:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (a place I'm fond of) seems to have far too many undergraduate applicants. Apply to State instead.

Tiny New College in Sarasota is still in business as a branch of the monster University of South Florida. No one outside of Sarasota seems to have heard of it.

My grad school roommate is dean at St. Olaf College. He's happy.

A fellow grad student is interim provost at Birmingham Southern. Also happy.

Another's a prof at Old Dominion. He's traveled astonishingly.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 31, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Seems someone needs to reset their calendar, they're a day ahead:

Funny, though. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, seismic-2!! Turn the knobs to 11!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Engelmann... you ate perritos in Central America? I guess your stomach was growling after that. Woof.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Fans of either (or both) Ann-Margaret and/or Jaclyn Smith who may be wondering what these babes look like now that they are 98 years old may wish to watch "Law & Order: SVU" tonight at 10, because they are both in that episode.

Rashomon, loved the pome.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 31, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Best line in that techcrunch article:
"To be clear, most of this is speculation."

Come to think of it, that would be a useful line for many articles.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 31, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Stupid country. We were freezing last week and now it's almost 18C/68F.
We have some flowers now. Even the rhubarb has started to come out but I somehow screwed up the picture. There is a dog or two.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

So Son of G calls me up today and says he can just hear the editor calling for these two, the breakfast version of Woodward & Bernstein: "Hey Bacon! Eggers! Get in here!"

Mmmm... it's makin' me hungry...

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Oops... Bacon and Eggen. Sorry. Even funnier.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for noticing that, TBG. It was meant in humour.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

And it was very funny, too, engelmann.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

DotC, why would one ever wish to apply to NC State? The Geekdottir was accepted, but she went to Carolina, as she should have. You realize, of course, that State *is* the largest campus in the system. How that happened I have no idea.

Not that I can complain. We are such a mix of ACC schools in this family, it's a wonder anybody ever speaks to anybody else.

Poor Bacon and Eggen, I'll bet they hate the jokes.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Say it the other way:

Hay! Eggen Bacon, get in here.

Posted by: omni3 | March 31, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I am with you on the weather Shriek, after the first November without snow in many decades, we have had the first March without snow. Loved the pictues, that old Lab is beautiful.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 31, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

You're right dmd, we had no snow in March either around here for the first time on records. The old guy is deep into the end game.

At least the reporters work for the Post, not the Tost. "The Tost's Bacon and Eggen..."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Imagine the promos:

"New! Post Eggen Bacon! 100% fiber free, and with a full day's supply of saturated fat and cholesterol!"

It's the anti-cereal.

Posted by: rashomon | March 31, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I can hear it now...

"Let's do a series on different kinds of diet fads. We'll have Eggen/Bacon on the Atkins Diet!"

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I *love* Post serials! An Eggen-Bacon serial, however...I don't know. Of course, the good thing about Post serials is they help with raising brand.

In fact (I know you can see this coming), I can see the headline now: Post Raising Brand With Eggen-Bacon.

Now, if they'd only hire David Corn away from Mother Jones and any relaties of Harvey Milk.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 31, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Post serials, I toured Hillwood Mansion last weekend, home of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 31, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The Dogues the Bordeaux are always the butt of the joke.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know you and Marjorie were pals, TBG. Tell her I said "Hi."

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 31, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

WaPo front page photo box caption: "Would be point guard has spent time this season with the Cavaliers and Spurs."


Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 31, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Mo, re. your 5:41 PM, maybe see my 11:19 AM?

I am familiar with the colloquial use of that term as you suggest, as well as the terms "straight line" and "setup."


Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Long day. Just home. Getting up energy to make dinner. Mudge, it's Ribeye week again. Standing Rib Roasts @ $4.99.

So what was the hubub about Newt recently? Was it his pronouncements about Johnson and the Civil Rights Act?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Someone doesn't like me, someone involved in the weather. Two weeks ago was in the field in eastern Massachusetts trying to get measurements for a couple new commuter railroad bridges I am helping to design. The abutments I was looking to measure were under water.

This week I have been helping to finish up the design of a new combined stormwater overflow treatment system in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The last couple underground structures have been tricky, because they are located right next to the Pawtuxet River. The issue is when the water comes up high, the buried tanks want to float away. The existing ground, the historic river bank, is at elevation 14 feet. The 100 year flood is at about elevation 15, which is what we design the tanks to stay submerged at, with some factor of safety. Today the water level hit just under 21 feet.

Posted by: steveboyington | March 31, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Steve, You be careful up there. News is, it is supposed to higher than that.

Posted by: omni3 | March 31, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Time for me to turn in, but I wanted to agree with qgaliana. Bears *should* be an engineering unit. Also, a unit of measurement. One bear, two bears. . .

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I have the feeling it's not you, personally, steveboyington. I suspect there's a lot of people not liked by that weather-related person.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I got an idea for a pseudo reality TV show:

"2012: Presidential Debates V1.0"

Subtitle is:

"Sarah Palin as Sarah Palin v. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin"

Posted by: omni3 | March 31, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

omni, I am having my dinner. Please wait 'til I have finished my Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Where UNC-Chapel Hill had a history of attracting important private donations (going back to the 19th century), the legislature seems to have ensured a sort of parity for State. I admit that no prospective student who's seen the UNC and Duke campuses will make NCSU a first choice. Even the library's yucky looking, a tall skinny building that was expanded by tacking on a fat, cheap addition.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 31, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Omni. I live in New Hampshire, and we have dodged the liquid bullet for now. Only damage is cosmetic to my gravel driveway and the outfall embankment of my pond. Nothing a load of about a half dozen yards of stone won't fix. That, and some good old-fashioned rock spreading.

Posted by: steveboyington | March 31, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Political flash: In the race for the Florida senate seat (vice Martinez with Crist staffer doing seat-warming duty), it's starting to look as though Democrat Kendrick Meek might beat the Republican phenom, Marco Rubio.

Strange. Doesn't fit with my vision of hordes of Medicare recipients voting for Republicans.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 31, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, but I'm not done weed.

Of course the real Sarah will not stand up so...

The producers announce that Tina Fey has dropped out for personal reasons, so we'll follow that old maxim: "The Show Must Go On" and allow Sarah Palin to debate herself (Such a big EGO doncha know).

So we lock MsP out, and get Tina Fey to play both


You all heard about the clip job they did, or were going to do, on Fox, where Ms. Palin was to interview LL Cool J and Toby Keith, They took clips from 2008 and were going to make it look like MsP was asking the questions. They both said Uh, NO!

Here's what Fox said in lieu of an apology:

"However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."

Mr. Smith is LL Cool J

Isn't Mr. Smith one of the main characters on NCIS: LA?

Why is that when Fox shoots themselves in the foot they don't feel pain?

Posted by: omni3 | March 31, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Weed, where did you buy that standing rib roast?

Sneaks, what's the status of the water in your basement. I feel terrible for you since I've been in your position more than a few times.

In Chicago, people call the fire department to pump their basements out. They're happy to do it.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | March 31, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

"..the secrets of the universe.." The equation of the universe is published on

Everyone needs to look at this.

Posted by: giggledotcom | April 1, 2010 5:26 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends.

Congratulations to Mrs. JA, for the hard work, and so much love. Do you realize how blessed you are? You get to do this, JA. You get to see this. You get to participate in this, feel this, know this, and even stick your chest out. How blessed are you. Even if you have to do what the signs says, would you change the heart of it? I don't think so. It's good work. Bless you and your family.

And concerning the smasher, way out of my league!

Slyness, just plain hot here yesterday, and so beautiful. So beautiful. God is good, I got a chance to get out in it. Hopefully can do the same today.

Please have a great day, everyone. Love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 1, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra! You are up early; I am, too. Much to do today.

Temps are supposed to hit the middle 80's here. Yesterday, I wore my heavy jacket on the morning walk, today it will be the light one. Yay! I will say, though, that the pollen is causing some nasal congestion, but I'll live with it.

I'm going to see my favorite twin boyz today. They will be 2 next week and their birthday swingset was installed yesterday. Time flies, doesn't it?

DotC, you are so right about NC State's campus. Duke's is beautiful, as is Carolina's. I rather like Wake Forest, too. I will say that State does some good research; Mr. T has worked with a prof in the textile department on firefighter turnout gear. He's got a lab that's unmatched in North America. Interesting and useful stuff...

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Sunny in Philadelphia today, breakfast is on the grill. Since it's imaginary you can have whatever you want!

Hmm. Who has more fans? LL Cool J or SP? Fox looks bad for trying it in the first place.

Welcome, karenliebreich.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 1, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

dbG, what did you expect from the former Half Termer ... Charles Kuralt?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for asking about our water issue rickoshea. The last two days have been a blur. We had 5 inches of rain (over 12" for the month) and the basement, which has never seen a drop of water in the four years we've lived here, was covered in one to three inches of the stuff. We were running a big wet vac, which we kept dumping into the washer, but it was a herculean task and every muscle in my body hurts. I was bailing most of Tuesday night. Late yesterday #2 and SIL brought us a pump they managed to find and rent and since then it's been better.

Luckily, all our stuff is either on palettes or in plastic bins (except for the washer & dryer, which was why I stayed up all night fighting the water) so the only damage is the area rugs under exercise equipment and by the entrances. There is still water coming in but that should abate today - I hope.

We are very fortunate as many people here in eastern MA are ruined. Roads and bridges are a mess, as I'm sure you've seen on TV. Looking forward to sunshine and warm weather this weekend!!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 1, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, I don't want to even think about what you are dealing with. The only water in my basement right now is in my glass.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Happy First of April everyone. I always have a hard time with April first because I am terribly gullible. In fact, I was told that if you look up the word gullible in the dictionary you will find my picture. I haven't checked myself, but I assume it must be true.


SD - A friend of mine just returned from a visit to your area, and was shocked by the flooding. I hope you are able to keep ahead of the water.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Badsneakers of course. Need more coffee.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

RD_P, special just for you today:

(The WaPo reprinting only makes it better!)

And in response:

Sneaks, I dearly hope you get a straight month of sunshine going forward!!! *HUGSSSS*

*hoping-for-a-gap-in-my-daily-schedule-sometime-soon Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 1, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Weed and RD. I haven't lived in a house with a wet basement for years, and even then it wasn't this bad. But then, the last time we had this much rain in a month was 1955 (?), I was alive then but not responsible for anything.

I ache in places where I didn't know I had muscles!

On the plus side, we have identified some problems we can address with downspout drainage to minimize our chance of having a repeat flood!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 1, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Oh, wow, Scottynuke. You mean that story about the unauthorized uranium enrichment was a fake?

Umm. I've gotta make a few phone calls now.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, it looks to be the "real" spring here in DC for the next few days. Friend wife wants to brave the throngs this afternoon and go see the cherry blossoms. Thank goodness for Metro. We'll be running against the rush hour crowd for the most part on the way down, and hopefully by the time we're done the rush will have abated a bit.

Posted by: ebtnut | April 1, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

Happy Birffday to PaterJS, who has endured April Fool ribbing instead of proper birffday celebrations for four score and six years. Next year the birffday salutation will be some sort of satirical screed using Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as the base.

Sneaks, I've seen the news photos and am glad you're relatively dry. Take care of those aches and pains.

I fired up Google Chrome this morning and the home page sign said Topeka. Anyone got a clue as to why Topeka, as opposed to any other six-letter word?

Gonna hit the low 80s today and tomorrow in TWC. Gotta go buy more sunscreen.

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

happy Edible Book Day

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Just looked thru these photos on the Boston Globe site. I feel awful for complaining about our few inches of water!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 1, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

from NY Daily News:

You'll need a search engine to find the Google logo on the web portal's homepage Thursday morning.

Instead, Web surfers woke up to find the search engine's name officially changed to "Topeka" - at least for one day.

The change is purportedly a return gesture to Topeka, Kanasas, whose mayor unofficially renamed the city "Google, Kansas," for the month of March in an effort to land a spot on Google's "Fiber for Communities" program. The initiative, launched this year by Google, promises to install new broadband cables in random communities around the United States.

"We've been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture," a spokesperson wrote on the company's official blog. "Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka."

Google, or rather Topeka, announced wide-sweeping changes to the company to go along with the name change: Employees will be referred to as "Topekans" instead of "Googlers" and a push to use "Topeka'ed" as a verb in Web searches.

That Thursday is also April Fool's Day may be coincidental.

Skeptics may wonder how long the search engine's name change will last, considering Topeka, Kansas, has already gone back to its old name.

"We are very proud of our city and Topeka is an Indian word which means 'a good place to grow potatoes,' Topeka mayor Bill Bunten told CNN in early March. "We're not going to change that."

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I kinda like the "Topeka" gag at Google. Unlike some April Fool's trick, this one seems more interested in amusing people than in tricking them. It seems less, well, hostile than some.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

And check out

Man, this texting business as gotten way out of hand.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Gee RD, in my addled state I can't make any sense of that gmail site! Reminding myself about April Fool's day so I don't seem more clueless than usual!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 1, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

If you click on Topeka's logo for the day, you can get company news, including the story behind the name change.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 1, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, weed. Kinda sweet, actually.

The absence of vowels on the gmail site reads like my head feels with a bad cold.

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse


It sounds like you're going to need a month vacation after all that work. I hope it's gets better for you, and all that are going through this.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 1, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

In addition to its current unexpected status as a Final Four contender, let me issue a reminder that Butler University is the alma mater of:

(1) The ScienceGrandpa

(2) my great-uncle Chet, WWII veteran, Purple Heart recipient, editor of an Indianapolis Braille newspaper, executive director of the local chapter of the American Heart and Lung Association (which has given up on lungs and gone back to just hearts) despite being a long-time heavy smoker, who passed away 4 years ago

(3) and the Reverence Jim Jones, who passed away in Jonestown, Guyana a little more than 31 years ago and who ensured that he was not lonely as he did so, the b@st@rd. The archetype behind the phrase "drank the Kool-Aid."

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 1, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The forecast for the banana belt today is sunny and warmer up to the mid fifties. But we just had a half hour of snow flurries.

Posted by: bh72 | April 1, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I'd heard some time back that Topeka temporarily changed its name to Google, KS for a day in order to draw attention for a bid to host a Google high-speed network test implementation. I smiled when I saw that this AM - I guess turnabout's fair play.

Hopefully, that works out for everyone.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Okay professional copy-editors and amateur grammarians, how mean-spirited was it for WaPo to add a [sic] to their transcription of a handwritten note from Obama? Here is said note:

“Thanks for the very kind and inspiring letter,” he wrote to Cline. “I know times are tough, but knowing there are folks out there like you and your husband give [sic] me confidence that things will keep getting better!”

Read more at Wonkette:

In particular, is this some sort of pointed jab highlighting that we have the most inarticulate and illiterate president in recent memory?

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

A short interview with the Butler University mascot:

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I am soooooooooooooo laughing my butt off at this story. Brag and Don, are you monitoring? Grab this:

"US Navy frigate captures 5 pirates near Seychelles

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 1, 2010; 11:12 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Suspected Somali pirates fired on a U.S. Navy warship off East Africa early Thursday in what appeared to be a ransom-seeking attack on an American guided missile frigate, officials said.

The USS Nicholas returned fire on the pirate skiff, sinking it and confiscating a nearby mothership. The Navy took five pirates into custody, said Navy Lt. Patrick Foughty, a spokesman."

Okay, exactly how blasted on wacky weed does one have to be to take a rowboat and try to caputure a U.S. Navy guided missile frigate and hold it for ransom?

I mean, really. I just gotta say, I really admire those pirates. What ambition. What bravery. What utter, utter idiots.

"Okay, you! Yes, all you guys on that aircraft carrier! Hands up! I'm taking you in!" Hell, go for it, dudes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

No, yello, I think it was just a no-win situation all around for the copy editors. They are duty-bound to NOT correct Obama's mistake and try to sneak it by; that option was never on the table. And if they just ignore it an run it as it is, people will either assume it is their transciption error, or else their (usual) slipshod editing, or a bunch of you-know-who's will jump all over Obama. So they did the one and only thing they could do, acknowledge the error with [sic], and then run for the bunker.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Those pirates just aren't right in their heads. A bunch attacked a Dutch frigate last year, with pretty much the same results.

It's just about lovely here, mid sixties (in Christian units) and sunny.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Why is a hen when she spins?

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 1, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Or, could it be a copy editor at the Post trying to get hired by the White House?

A sort of occupational jiu jitsu, mayhaps?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

jkt and mudge,

As you know, I am way underpowered when it comes to written communication skills, but I did mention years ago, when the Post had a long set of quotes from the Jr. High School kid (I think) who survived the DC Sniper shooting, that I wrote the Post Ombudsman about the inclusion of You knows, Ums, Errs etc. when, on the very same day, then President Bush was quoted at length in the Post saying something I witnessed on TV and CLEARLY, the text was cleaned of Bush's ums, errs, and otherwise floundering speechafying habits.

I asked "why the inequity?"

I garnered the expected No Response.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, before I could read the next sentence after the one mentioning the attack, I was immediately thinking that the indicator that the pirates have been significantly successful is that they HAVE TO HAVE some of the strongest Hashish on the planet.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Nearly killed by their curiosity and qat.

Posted by: engelmann | April 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion of Treasury Bond returns and what is going on in the money market from Hale Stewart at

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Weed, in the realm of editing, there is a common and broad understanding that one my freely edit out the ahs, ums, ers, stutters, etc, found in common speech, put g's on the ends of words when they are dropped, and such like. But there is a distinction made between omitting the speech stutters on the one hand, and "fixing" the necessary words, as in this case. So, ah, um, er, well, that's just the way it be. Is. I mean is.

So even when George Bush says "nuculur," editors still spell it nuclear, just like George was a regular learned individual. A stretch, I know.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

How is this for a statement from a supposedly educated person commenting on the UK putting up 60 million pounds for port improvements to lure wind turbine manufactures.

"For sure, all of them (the turbine makers) will have to have some kind of facility in the UK to handle that level of equipment and there is going to be lots of additional port activity," Jim Fitzgerald, assistant director of energy and environment at consultant Ernst & Young said."

Posted by: bh72 | April 1, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Worse would be having one's poor spelling having more lasting consequences:

Posted by: engelmann | April 1, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Actually the Somali pirates are drawing on a decades criminal tradition.

"When the Piranhas left school they were called up but were found by an Army Board to be too unstable even for National Service. Denied the opportunity to use their talents in the service of their country, they began to operate what they called 'The Operation'... They would select a victim and then threaten to beat him up if he paid the so-called protection money. Four months later they started another operation which the called 'The Other Operation'. In this racket they selected another victim and threatened not to beat him up if he didn't pay them. One month later they hit upon 'The Other Other Operation'. In this the victim was threatened that if he didn't pay them, they would beat him up. This for the Piranha brothers was the turning point."

from ETHEL THE FROG sketch, MPFC episode 14

Posted by: kguy1 | April 1, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

SCC that would be a "decades old criminal tradition"

Note: this sketch featured DCI Harry "Snapper" Organs and introduced the giant hedgehog Spiny Norman.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 1, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Then, Mudge, why did the Post feel it necessary to hate on the kid from the shooting? That was the puzzle and not the Bush speak.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, Weed, I'd have to read the actual story. But Occam's Razor suggests the first and easiest answer just might be somebody screwed up. The second answer might be that both the writer and editor thought it gave some "flavor," as dialog, nut just a quote. But my first guess was that it happened in great haste (on deadline), and just wasn't looked at close enough.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Um, what could the reported Obama spelling mistake and Somali pirate story have in common?

Besides being reported on April Fool's day, I mean?



Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

That 'un too, englemann.

Frankly, I'm just ignoring all the news today.

I'm gullible, and have the scars to prove it.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The Post's lede story right now is about Obamae raising the vehicle fuel efficiency standards known as CAFE. The story it links to discusses this at length, noting how these news CAFE stanards are higher than the ones issued by the Bush admin. in 2007.

Curiously, although several gummint agencies are named in the story (EPA, DOT), nowhere is mentioned the name of the gummint agency that actually DOES the CAFE fuel standards.


Rodney Dangerfield

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I noticed that missing agency, too.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Ah-hah! Found it!

Click on the "new fuel efficiency standards" link and check out the upper right hand corner of the resulting press release. The agency's acronym is there.

It doesn't technically count, as it's not in the story proper.

Isn't it part of DOT? DOT did get mentioned, along with the EPA.

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I read the story about the letters Obama reads yesterday and found it really moving. I thought pointing out the grammatical error was a way of showing his authenticity, in that his response was something he dashed off, rather than did draft after draft of, or delegated to someone else, or used a form letter. Not so much a gotcha as being a regular human who makes SCC's occasionally.

Loved the Topeka/Google switch. Took me a minute to figure it out. I'm an April Foolee, not Fooler.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 1, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm with bc. Every news story today has to pass a sniff test. The Google nuclear reactor story yesterday failed even with an advance date stamp. I know enough about Google that that story was thinking too small for them. Their ambitions are much bigger than mere nuclear power.

I live in gMail, so I never see the front page. The vowel outage explanation was very funny and internally plausible.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

So I read a little blog item about Texas's execution rate and, though I rigorously avoid all comments other than the Achenblog, my eye fell on the first post. The person wondered what the point of Texas jokes was, now that Bush isn't president. My first thought was, boy that guy isn't from Oklahoma! Texas jokes are a way of life, dude. Always reliable, always risible. Or so I'm told.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 1, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I read that story and was touched, too seasea. Isn't it a good thing that the president of the United States wants to take the time to hear from citizens? And the grammatical error is really minor, IMHO, one that would pass completely in speech. I say that as a grammatical stickler.

Lovely day here, twin boyz are really into their new swing set. When Mr. T gets off work, we're riding up the mountain for a couple of days. It's supposed to be nice there, too. I look forward to seeing the ground and assessing what flowers survived and what didn't.

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | April 1, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

yello, ya know I'm with ya.

I'm not saying some of these stories aren't true, including the Piratical one, but today I've raised my skepticomical level to Code Harrumph.

"I thought AP didn't propagate no fairy tales
Fox News could fool some folks but not me.
Thought Reuters wasn't out to get me
That's the way it seemed.
News syndication on all my screens.

Then I saw the Home Page
Now I'm a disbeliever

And there's more than a trace
of doubt in my mind

And I say Harrumph!
Ooh, I'm a disbeliever
Won't believe a deceiver
They're gonna make me cry..."


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

This is way late, but that the hey:
Local universities turn out the majority of baccalaureate endowed children and at far less cost to the parents than a sun dappled university with smoothie machines in the class rooms and a teacher:student ratio that matches the golden mean. I'm just sayin'.

dr. o

Posted by: ad4hk2004 | April 6, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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