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NASA's narrative problem

Here's an excellent summary from blogger Jeff Foust of the botched roll-out of NASA's new strategy (he and I were on a panel yesterday at the NASA Goddard symposium). Foust explains that NASA bosses didn't see the Constellation-killing White House/OMB budget request until just a few days before the Feb. 1 announcement. The budget shocked a lot of people because it spiked a major program outright -- stake through the heart -- and committed NASA to a new strategy in which there'd be no Ares 1 rocket, no Orion spacecraft, and commercial firms with commercial contracts would take over the task of launching astronauts into orbit. There was no presidential speech to trumpet the new strategy, no preview in the State of the Union Address, limited consultation with Congress, very little backup documentation, etc.

The Administration failed to control the narrative. We are a species that communicates with, and makes sense of the world through, stories (as someone wrote a while back). My piece the other day in The Post quoted Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) saying that folks in Florida think Obama killed the manned space program. Of course, Obama actually boosted funding for NASA, and a lot of money is going into technology development. But he nixed the idea of going back to the moon in the near term. Where will we go instead? Unclear. Undecided. The moon is still a possibility, but maybe we'll go to an asteroid or the moons of Mars.

"Technology development" may be sensible, but it isn't what you'd call a story in the same way that "We're going to fly to an asteroid" is a story. This is why NASA will probably want to name a destination sooner rather than later. If you want the public to buy into a plan, you have to tell them where you're going.

Foust writes: "NASA and other advocates of the new plan need to do more to connect with skeptical politicians, business leaders, and others in the space community and the general public at a more emotional level, finding ways to assuage those visceral concerns."

So, NASA: What's the story?

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 12, 2010; 11:18 AM ET
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Can we go to Vesta? I've always wanted to be marooned there.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 12, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, Mr. A, the can's been opened and the worms are out wiggling all over the place.

It's a little late to do the visceral connection thing with a specific location. The fact that a space strategy is subject to the preferences of the next administration makes any destination promise pretty illusive.

Posted by: MsJS | March 12, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's build a manufacturing facility in space that will build orbiting solar power stations to provide power to every urban dweller on the planet with no greenhouse gas emissions, then go in space where the engineering considerations take us.

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 12, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

David Brin, a realistic science fiction author, opines on this very subject recently

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 12, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The yesterthread bit about poetry to knock someone's socks off makes me think that there are better ways to remove clothing articles.

Alcohol is always a good garment lubricant. There is a recipe out there for a drink called Pink Panty Pull-Down Punch. As I understand the recipe, it is the punch that is pink and that it works on panties of all colors and patterns.

And I've found music a much better mood maker than my sonorous voice reciting poetry. Here is a list of the best make-out music from the 80s:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 12, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* I despair. From Cillizza's chat: "...but I did make time to stop for a dozen cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, which me and Mrs. Fix believe are the best cupcakes out there."

"which me and Mrs Fix believe..."?

Me believe him need large smacking upside him head.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I love spaceflight, manned and unmanned space exploration, the whole shebang.

But people have to face reality here -- for decades now, manned spaceflight has been a completely circular and insanely expensive proposition. We create these lofty goals - a space station, a moon base, a Mars trip - simply so our astronauts have something to do. But of course we need to pay for it, so then we demand billions of dollars for our astronauts simply to complete these missions. The plan's existence becomes justification for its continuation. It's like the ISS and the shuttle -- we created the ISS mostly so the shuttle would have somewhere to go, then kept the shuttle around so we could get to the ISS. Meanwhile a much cheaper Hubble is on its last legs . . . .

Posted by: simpleton1 | March 12, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't quite share all of simpleton's theses, but he does have a point - there has become this internal loop of goals and means. We need this to do this, and we do this because we need this. I for one always thought that the ISS should be in geosynchronous orbit. I'm guessin part of the reason it is LEO is because that was the capability of the Shuttle. I also wondered what ever became of Von Braun's concept of the pinwheel space station - rotating so as to provide some artifical gravity on the perimeter.

If we're going to be doing basic research and technological work, then let's get the Hawkings of the world togeter and see if there is indeed some way to achieve "warp" drive. Let's face it - even if we do spend several billions of dollars and get to a couple of folks to Mars, we don't have anywhere else to go.

Posted by: ebtnut | March 12, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

yello, thanks for mentioning that classic at 1:03.

Jumper, I like Brin's work a lot, though I'm not sure if you're describing the man as realistic, or his work. The Uplift books do not strike me as terribly realistic, for example (and don't get yello started on "The Postman.").

edbyronadams, the idea of orbiting power stations beaming gazillawatts of power at Earth via microwave beams makes me warm(er) and tingly all over. And a little nervous. I've got metal fillings, y'know?

I imagine we *could* use a 22,000 mile long extension cord (green or orange?) instead.


Posted by: -bc- | March 12, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I meant Brin the person is pretty reasonable. Last of his I read was "Kiln People" a very funny and very unrealistic book.

There are proposed effective systems for microwave space-to-earth systems not employing dangerous concentrations of radiation.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 12, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The cord would probably be white, then covered with gold foil. Wait, we need 22,00 miles of gold foil! Put that on the grocery list.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 12, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe 22,000 miles, just to be safe.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 12, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The FTL methods used in the Startide Rising Universe are so over the top as to be hilarious. He even steals Improbability Drive from HHGTTG. In many ways Brin is saying "I know all this is ridiculous, but I need this carp for my story to work, so just go with it."

Posted by: yellojkt | March 12, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I'll repeat myself (and others) here -- I believe NASA's issues with human flight are about marketing and leadership, both management and political.

Hard-nosed Hill politics and flash/sizzle Hollywood-premere marketing. Someone who will smile for the cameras and deliver some inspirational, poetic, romantic sound bites, then turn around, close the doors to the chamber, and work the room (and the phones) by carrot and stick until they get what's needed (money, political capital, whatever). A bit of righetous thunder's OK too.

Where's that person?
That's where I think you'll find NASA's future for humans in space.

I'm pretty sure I wrote something like this the day the Augustine commission's report came out, too.


Posted by: -bc- | March 12, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

bc: Maybe NASA can get James Cameron to write the script.

Posted by: MsJS | March 12, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

From last kit about literature and POV. Mudge, we EngProfs pull apart writing after it is written because we love the stuff. Think docs and the autopsy/post mortem activity but with less blood and bile -- well, sometimes lots of blood and bile...Ok. Sorry that we dissect cruelly.

My remarks are 2nd person explicitly or 2nd person implied are more about non fiction. As in, when the writer creates closeness or community, especially falsely, then we should be aware of that device. This of this setting: the unctuous and controlling mommy (bad) says

"We likes our mashed turnips, don't we."

Appeals to patriotism -- good and bad -- are nearly always in second person. Recall the utter beauty and sincerity of the 2nd person address in Lincoln's second inaugural:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

I have something to say about your writing in a minute...

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 12, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I want to raise a philosophical and possibly ethical/moral question about what Foust suggests.

In his blog, he uses the Heath's metaphor of the Elphant (emotion side) and Rider (rational side), and says that to effect change, one has to appeal to *both* the Elephant and the Rider, or else the 600-pound elephant will always win. Then he saus, "advocates of the new plan need to do more to connect ... at a more emotional level..." because so far, everything has been highly rational and low-key and intellectual. And as Joel says, NASA "lost control of the narrative."

But by now you might be able to see my question coming: why should we let 600-pound Elephants (emotions) decide anything? Could it not be that we are basically correct in ignoring the wants and desires of the Elephant for some sort of emotional buttkissing and stroking, etc.? Is this how we want to run a gazillion-dollar space program? by appealing to the base emotions of the masses? Is this how we decide wehter to go to Mars? because the public thinks it might be neatsy-kewl? Is that what it comes down to?

A pragmatist might say, "Well, if you actually want to *win* [one's POV], then yes, you should go ahead an appeal to the emotions, if that's what it takes."

Is this what it ultimately boils down to? We are to park our brains in the garage, and think with our other organs? Don't we normally criticize exactly this philosophy?

A lot of Foust's blog is about "effecting change" (especially among those entities resistant to it, which basically means everyone and everything). So perhaps one of the things we ought to be doing is effecting the changeover from being rukled by our emotions to letting our rational brains get more face time?

Don't we in fact criticize governments and institutions when we see them frankly "manipulating" events and opinions with emotional appeals? Isn't that basically what Foust is asking NASA to do? Manipulate the public and Congress with Buck Rogers fairy tales, with emotional crap that will pull in all the Star Trekkies and the Jerry Springer audience? Somebody explain to me how he is NOT basically advocating that?

Just in general terms, what are the ethics of using an emotional appeal to win any given argument, especially as compared to appealing to facts and logic and "rational" decision-making?

It seems to me Foust is asking NASA/the admin. to "sell" its position. But don't have a certain resistance to blatant salesmanship? Don't we mock the idea of a used-car salesman as being inherently unethical?

Maybe what we ought to be doing is trying to change this entire notion of "It's bot OK and effective to appeal to emotions." Maybe we should be trying to get people to ignore those 600-pound elephants, not follow them wherever they want to go.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Why we read and write ficton (human endeavor collectively)

Tom Clancy says this:

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

We do this to make sense. Telling stories is in our DNA; listening to this is equally so rooted. Despite that the fire is no longer our gathering place -- hearths have given away to television (place of story, too). -- we need words to make sense.

And, dear Mudge, you are AWARE OF AUDIENCE. You are a bard and scop and traveling minstrel...and this most of all.

seanchaí -- a Shan-ah -schee -- means a bearer of "old lore" (seanchas). The history and laws of the Celts were memorized in long lyric poems -- meaning givers.

Stories still do this; and as Clancy know -- make more sense than reality.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 12, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

600 pounds is a pretty small elephant, but I think we let the elephant make a lot of the decisions because he's an elephant. He can squish us.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 12, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

CqP, aren't the "us" and "we" in Lincoln's inaugural all First Person? Aren't they variants of the First Person "I"? I'm certain that second person is the use of "you" as the main pronoun. "You walk to the window and look out; you see the mailman."

Re: the English major mentalit: I have no quarrel with dissecting any writer's work, and analysisng it to see what the writer has done, is doing, attempted to do, whatever, and how well the writer may have done at it. That's all fine. What I vehemently object to is the belief that during the act of creation, the writer himself (herself) "knows" what he is doing, or has any conscious plan behind it. Sometimes they do, but very often the writer may be the very *last* person in the room who knows what the hell he's created, or was trying to say. I categorically refuse to believ that Herman Melville sat down and said, "I'm gonna write me a book about Good and Evil, and I'm gonna use lots of symbolism to accomplish my goals." He had no freaking idea, in my view. He sat down to write a story about a mad captain and a white whale, and whaling in general, because he'd just spent three years on a whaler and knew the subject matter. And he was innatelyu a storyteller. Nobody sits down and says, "I think I'll write a novel about the ambiguity of the goodness of God." Yet you will find a zillion grad theses that say more or less exactly that: that Melvile did this, or did that, or was saying something about the nature of blah blah blah." Nope. That stuff may indeed have occured; but there was little or no intentionality. Yet many (not all) EM's imply intentionality and conscious thought processes all the time. They are simply wrong. The creative process doesn't work that way.

When Bob Dylan writes a song, he has no freaking idea what he's doing, and he will tell you so himself. He actually thinks he's somehow channeling god, or whatever, and is merely the "stenographer." And he HATES it when music critics ask about his "message" or what he's "trying to say." Because he has no clue -- and he's right. And I believe him.

Artists work at some unconscious/subconscious level most of the time. A great many EM's write stuff that implies they do things consciously, at the "top" of their heads. They simply do not, the vast majority of the time.

The last person on earth who can explain a Bob Dylan poem is Bob Dylan. So how the hell can any critic claim to know what Dylan was "saying" when Dylan himself has no idea? They can't. But one sees it all the time.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

But, CqP, many times fiction *is* reality, albeit couched. Perhaps, as I've stated before on the Boodle, the litmus test is that if fiction can get you incarcerated, then it has come as close to one person's (i.e., the incarcerator's) reality as it can get. The reader just has to peel as many layers of the onion as need be to get to the core.

And, BTW, elephants are wicked smart. I just luv 'em. Over in Africa they actually took me aside to let me know just how pIssed they are about being co-opted as the Rethuglican symbol. They are simply lovely -- and *huge* -- creatures. Yep, just *luv* 'em.

Posted by: -ftb- | March 12, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mudge.

Foust gets the metaphor from a couple of business gurus who wrote a book about change. The book is quite popular, but the framework described in therein is largely untested.

Here's an excerpt from one Amazon review
( ):
"This book is largely unhelpful to those who wish to "change" because it presents a framework that is too vague to be useful. In Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath appear to have researched loads of success stories (in the individual, corporate, and government realms), and then attempted to create a framework for "change" based upon the similarities in those stories. But very few stories follow the framework closely, and the framework is too ambiguous to be useful. Motivate the elephant (i.e., our emotional side)? Shape the path?

"What this book is really about is inspirational leaders and how they have accomplished change in nuanced situations that would rarely (if ever) apply to the most of the rest of us."

I think you and bc get to the nub of the issue in your own ways far better than Foust or the brothers Heath.

I had written a long rant basically dissecting Foust's column, but decided not to post. As usual, you expressed your perspective better.

Posted by: MsJS | March 12, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

And Mythbusters proved they'll avoid stepping on mice, too, ftb!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 12, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

FTB -- my point exactly, about the truth of fiction. And, now commenceth the discussion of

real real

Mudge -- of course the artist makes art without the self-conscious modes always operating on high. But, artists also study technique and practice forms. Learning requires some dissection however disconcerting deconstructionisms is at times.

But, when we live, we are invited to the wholeness, which, ironically can be the outcome of art: that we live more fully, more completely, with insight.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 12, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm. Well, now we're in the really deep weeds. I would say that being "aware of the audience" is not the same thing as "writing for the audience," which to me implies some thought about what it is that audience might want.

Oh, sure, often when I'm diddling around and playing on the Boodle, I'll write a joke for a specific person or group; I do it all the time. And yes, that is indeed writing "for" an audience. I wrote a whole long poem just and only for you. I have written poems and stories "for" my ex, which you know because you've read some. But sometimes I write "for" people who are dead, or who I haven't seen in 40 years and have no hope of ever seeing again. Sometimes I write simply to amuse myself, or simply to vent. Sometimes I write to exorcise ghosts. Sometimes I write simply to go inside some musty, dark, slimey, black pit inside my head to see what monsters lurk there; but I don't write "for" those monsters, nor to allow anyone else to see them. There's some really ugly sh-- in there, but going into that pit is part of the job; it isn't about audience. A lot of writing is simply pure, ugly, unbridled egotism and narcissism, a shout of "Here I am!" addressed to no one in particular. It's not pretty, but it, too, is part of the process.

My mother loved puns, and anytime I write a pun, yes, I am writing "for" my mother, and she's been dead 15 years. So is that writing "for" an audience? I simply don't know how to answer that. I'm not even interested in knowing the answer, whatever it may be.

But do I write "for" an audience (as opposed to simply having one in mind)? Sure...sometimes. Writing here on the Boodle, absolutely yes, as we've discussed: I am very much aware of the audience and often write "for" them. Elsewhere, not always.

In my own case, I think I write more often "for" dead people than I do for live ones. My historical work, the non-fiction, is "for" History, to honor the people who worked at Elco, say, or the people who fought WWI. So "audience" is quite a complicated thing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, but the dead people in our brains and hearts are so real, so real.

We agree. Too bad we are not having a real real conversation in a snug bar, lifting real rea; glasses of fire water, and talking thusly. Of course, a fire burns, which is a hearth, which is where people have warmed their hands and hearts forever.

Today, I need to lay out socks, too. Been biking to and fro work and am so chilled. Am about to upload the last document of the week and then am real real, will retire to the local watering hole -- no hearth. But, bc knows the place.

And, that poem is true. As true as "original" heroine in another great poem long ago and far away.

I count this one of my greatest tasks. Somebody wrote a poem with me vouchsafed inside. Who know that I would be so, well, immortal.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 12, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The author is the person that knows the least about his writing. That is why Rodney Dangerfield got an F on his Vonnegut paper.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 12, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I took Foust's appeal to the Elephant Emotion as similar to Joel's point about narrative. Everyone, decisionmakers and masses alike, wants to hear a story. Stories appeal to our emotions. Take the facts, put them in a good story, and the emotions pay attention. One possible result: informed decisionmaking. For most people, facts without stories are not as compelling. Sad but true. It doesn't make people less smart, less serious, less worthy; it just makes us human.

I keep reading "Foust" as "Faust". Adds a whole new dimension.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 12, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Dear CqP, would you acknowledge that the literary journals are chock full of some really, really, jargon-suffocated litcrit that is impenetrable and about as far from usefulness and "reality" as it is possible to be?

I find this problematic, at least in my own case: "artists also study technique and practice forms." Yes, clearly, some (many) do exactly that...but I think some don't. Ballet dancers and pianists and maybe scultors and maybe oil panters and water colorists, sure. Writers, I dunno. I can say with absolute authority that in my own case, I have never written so much as a single word that was "practice," in that same general sense. As a rule, I tend to "hate" practice exercises of almost any kind, and avoid them at all costs.

As for studying technique, yes, I have willfully done that...but I am not much good at it, have only done it a little bit, and have come away with almost nothing. I have only deliberately "studied" five writers: LeCarre, Michael Connolly, Anthony Price, George V. Higgins, and Adam Hall (Trevor Elliston). And I have come away with only five minor little bits of "technique" that aren't enough to fill a two-page essay. I suspect the reason is my own innate density. I have admired plenty of other writers, and tried to figure out how they did what they did. I always come up empty.

Of the five I've mentioned above, I have learned the most from the "worst" of the bunch, Adam Hall.

I think that my problem is that when I'm reading somebody whose work I love and admire, I am so fully drawn into the experience, "the ride," that I am not in "learning" mode, just enoying mode. I don't see structure, I don't see technique, I don't see much symbolism, I don't see their tricks, nothing. All I seem able to do is come out the other side at the end of the thing and know I liked it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Laughing, IM. I kept seeing "Faust," too.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

A wise aerospace professor of mine once said:
A bad idea with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good idea with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.

This seems to sum up the past two administration's visions for NASA.

Posted by: adent | March 12, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I have two slogans displayed in my cubical. The first is "Think Like a Scientist." The seconds is "Respect the Narrative." One without the other is often a recipe for failure.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 12, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Not disagreeing with you, adent, but do you see the problem? It's all about the presentation, the appearances, the surface cosmetics. Shouldn't it be about the content? Are we not smart enough to look at a mediocre or bad presentation but still be able to see the quality of the idea or proposal underneath? Are we that shallow?

Surely we don't use the same criteria in people: we don't pick our friends based on how handsome or pretty they are, how fab they dress, and so on. Don't we always claim to value the "inside" person? Don't we acknowledge that beauty is skin deep, and it's what's inside that counts? So why do we see that important truth in people, but not in PowerPoint presentations?

Don't we always say you can't judge a book by its cover? So why do we get spoopid when it comes to slide shows?

Somehow we have allowed the "cosmetics," the marketing people, the advertising people, the "appearance" and "perception" of things, whoever/whatever, to dominate and draw our attention all the time from the core value to things to their surface appearances. We feel the need to dress up proposals with gimics and tricks to "appeal" some emotion or other. Why do we allow this?

Yes, a good idea with a bad presentation is doomed -- by *why*? Don't we recognize this to be palpably wrong? Shouldn't we? We have to be smarter than this. We have to be better than this. I don't want to hear the response that it "human nature" -- so are rape and pillage.

End of rants for today -- got a bus to catch. Everybody have a good weekend.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | March 12, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Gomer - Well, gold's pretty ductile stuff, so let's see: An ounce can be beaten into a sheet of gold leaf about 5 meters square, but I'll assume the foil should be a bit thicker, so I'll call it 10 square meters per ounce. If you're wrapping a 3mm conductor... [2*pi*1.5]... let's just call it a strip 10mm wide... that's 1,000 meters per ounce of gold, right? 36 million meters is about 22,300 miles, so 36,000 ounces of gold ought to to it. At about $1100 per ounce, $40 million will buy the raw material. Chump change, relatively speaking.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 12, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

A student once asked me "Wouldn't it be great if we could judge a book by its cover?" We agreed it would be very handy for those times you finish a great book and nothing you pick up next can quite live up to the experience you just had.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 12, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Joel has mistaken Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida for the much-more-visible Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

I'm agreed that the Administration has failed at what Reagan was good at--providing a story line, no matter how lame, to make a new policy palatable.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 12, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Happy Friday evening ye Boodlers.

Here is more on the Chilean earthquake:


Have a good weekend, Gang.

Posted by: Braguine | March 12, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Happy Friday evening ye Boodlers.

Here is more on the Chilean earthquake:


Have a good weekend, Gang.

Posted by: Braguine | March 12, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

He was right on. In order to continue with the best features of the proposed FY 2011 NASA budget, the administration now needs to roll out a series of applicable milestones....not just say the word "Mars" at the end of their presentation. The wider public also needs to be re-engaged through a series of exciting goals. A sequence of increasingly challenging missions can also serve to test concepts and drive technology forward. The plan also needs to more widely include Constellation technology and people. Any program desiring congressional support can’t appear to waste most of the nine billion dollar Ares/Orion investment, or it simply will not be accepted. Technological objectives, reasonable budgetary targets and increased public engagement must all be woven into a logical framework, designed to drive results. This can all be accomplished through a series of well defined exploration milestones, occurring every three to five years. The possibilities are well outlined in the Augustine Report. When done right, a bipartisan compromise may actually result is something exciting and rewarding. The administration simply needs to blink a bit on this one, for the good of NASA and the fledgling orbital industry. “No bucks, no Buck Rodgers” has now been turned into “No Buck Rodgers, no bucks”. One example of the type of paln needed is at

Posted by: AndyW847 | March 12, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

beaming power down from space?

we can beam small amounts of electricity short distances without any problem, but beaming large amount of energy would zap anything in it's path.

"But if we make a project that with that as a goal, the technology will be developed."

You cannot say so for sure. That might happen, but what if it is not possible? Projects like these have many aspects, so there would also be money invested in designing/building the collectors in space and on the ground, so if the technology cannot be created, the entire project is basically for nothing.

A tether would have to be made out of diamonds or a very strong, carbon-nano material. Very expensive.

Solar collectors in space make sense for powering a station on the moon or mars, where the ground based collector can be placed far away from where humans would be, and having a long cable is more feasible (less worry about weather, animals ect damaging the cable). Also, the moon does not rotate, so there is less worry about recalibrating the satellite

Posted by: salparadise661 | March 12, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Moon doesn't rotate (much) with respect to the Earth, but it sure rotates with respect to the Sun, which would be the relevant issue for most power applications.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 12, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Braguine, thanks for the link (re: Chile).

just catching up on the kits this week... trips to Florida. I could do with one of those at the moment. Rain, rain go away, come again another day. Could be worse, could be a snowstorm.

Posted by: MissToronto | March 12, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

If I want a story, I'll go to the library and check out a novel.

If I want space research, I'll go to NASA and it space probes.

Let's grow up. NASA should be doing the best research at the lowest cost.

If you want a story about space go see Avatar.

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 12, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully this will ensure that we and we alone can develop and implement the all-important Death Star technology. Think Joe Lieberman, D-Naboo, would like to get his hands on that?

If we want to go rock-hopping, it'd be cool to ride a Vespa on Vesta with Tesla.

Posted by: steveboyington | March 12, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they could put it to a vote and name the legislation the "American Exceptionalism and Right to Life and Freedom to Own Guns Act of 2010".

Posted by: steveboyington | March 12, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

But the rain will help make everything green again Miss Toronto, well OK maybe this monsoon is not quite necessary :-).

Posted by: dmd3 | March 12, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. I was pissed at the last administration when they set a grandiose vision then forgot to fund it. It was dooming NASA to fail. When Kennedy made his speech, he followed up by putting the entire industrial might of the US behind his vision.
The quote reminds me of how it is, not how it should be. I try my best to change it, but most times I feel like I am swinging at windmills.

Posted by: adent | March 12, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I think it quite mysterious how the stars sometimes align.

There was only one doorknob [pomo de la puerta] (Southwestern) between the doorknob [poignée de porte] beyond which I slept last night (French Room) and the doorknob beyond which Dr. William Foege and his wife Paula slept (Librarian's Room).

I was able (or privileged) to eat breakfast this morning with Dr. William Foege and his wife Paula, on the occasion of Dr. Foege's 74th birthday.

And there was more French than the French twist to which I alluded--the breakfast table also accommodated two professors of French, the younger from Southwestern University, and the elder, the younger professor's teacher and mentor from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Very pleasantly tired. Perhaps more on Monday.

Posted by: laloomis | March 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I protest fonts and kerning that make 'm's indistinguishable from 'rn's

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 12, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

It's nice to see a post from Sal Paradise on Jack Kerouac's birthday, even if Kerouac was not an expert on beaming energy to the earth from space.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Excellent. Thanks, byoolin.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 12, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

A correction to and a comment regarding Joel's post (and it was a pleasure sharing a panel with him on Thursday):

The correction: The senator in question is Bill Nelson of Florida, not Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Ben Nelson doesn't talk much about Florida, space, or what Floridians think about space. Go figure.

The comment: while I've argued that NASA hasn't done a good job rolling out the new plan, I don't think the problem is necessarily solved by picking a destination and saying that's our goal. That's been done before, and failed (case in point: President George H.W. Bush's Space Exploration Initiative in 1989, whose long-term goal was humans on Mars by 2019.) As Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, noted in my article, we've been trying to relive Apollo for 40 years and have failed. Shifting from a destination-and-deadline paradigm to one centered around developing essential capabilities needed for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit may be prudent, but that shift makes it all the more important to put together a better strategy for winning over the public than what the administration has currently done. And such an approach has to deal with both logic and emotions, since the latter is driving much of the debate so far: fear of losing jobs, fear of losing prestige, and fear of change in general.

- Jeff Foust

Posted by: jfoust | March 12, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Just found out this evening that my first cousin, the oldest in my generation, died suddenly yesterday while working in his yard. He would have turned 61 this spring.

This is sad for me for so many reasons, the obvious one being the reaction of "OMG... it's not just the old folks anymore--it's US."

But even though I'm close with his younger brother, I hadn't seen this cousin for close to 40 years. His entire family will be returning to the area this week for the funeral and burial. Although none of them has lived here for 25 years or so, the father they lost to cancer in 1963 is buried here, too, and I suppose they think of it as coming home.

So in this sad time comes a chance to reconnect with parts of my family I haven't seen for years. Such a mixed blessing.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 12, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I just got back from the Jonathan Coulton show and he played two songs of particular interest to the Boodle. The first was a fan demand about the latest winter sport sensation:

And the second was a tender love song from one body to another:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse


Sorry to hear about your cousin. Funerals and weddings are when families to get together.

I am the oldest of my first cousins and of my second cousins. I guess I get to be the harbinger of this generation.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

[sigh] 15 years ago working in Congress, we tried to keep the shuttle out of the space station critical path, fearing that it led to an unsustainable program. We were overridden by contractors, their employees, and their representatives who wanted to keep the shuttle construction contracts.

When we tried to cut shuttle and station program costs by cutting the # of launches, we found the savings were minimal. Paying the "standing army" of contractor and their employees - whether there was a launch or not - was so large that the savings from canceling the launch disappeared.

In the 1990's when we needed to show international burden sharing to justify the massive costs of the space station we put the Russians in the critical path - to the chagrin of everyone who knew better. Those who "knew better" were not contractors, employees, or political representative on the space station dole.

The manned space effort sometime after Tang was spun off ceased to be anything more than a public works project to FL, AL, TX, and CA.

The problems facing planet Earth today do not involve expensive missions to send folks to look through the bay windows we just installed on the space station. They involve remove sensing to solve large scale atmospheric perturbations (global climate change).

The Manned Space Program is a dog in the manger and a cover for a large public works project that needs to end.

Posted by: graydon1 | March 13, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

[sigh] 15 years ago working in Congress, we tried to keep the shuttle out of the space station critical path, fearing that it led to an unsustainable program. We were overridden by contractors, their employees, and their representatives who wanted to keep the shuttle construction contracts.

When we tried to cut shuttle and station program costs by cutting the # of launches, we found the savings were minimal. Paying the "standing army" of contractor and their employees - whether there was a launch or not - was so large that the savings from canceling the launch disappeared.

In the 1990's when we needed to show international burden sharing to justify the massive costs of the space station we put the Russians in the critical path - to the chagrin of everyone who knew better. Those who "knew better" were not contractors, employees, or political representative on the space station dole.

The manned space effort sometime after Tang was spun off ceased to be anything more than a public works project to FL, AL, TX, and CA.

The problems facing planet Earth today do not involve expensive missions to send folks to look through the bay windows we just installed on the space station. They involve remove sensing to solve large scale atmospheric perturbations (global climate change).

The Manned Space Program is a dog in the manger and a cover for a large public works project that needs to end.

Posted by: graydon1 | March 13, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

For the YouTubeless, the lyrics to that second song:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

TBG so sorry about the loss of your cousin. Hugs.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 13, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, TBG. A first cousin died some years ago, he had a son nearly my age. Very shocking.

Death respects no generation.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to you and your family, TBG.

Going back to the previous kit, I don’t know if it is the writer’s style or it is my problem. I didn’t like Faulkner, Steinbeck and Hemingway. I didn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe it was because I couldn’t form a mental picture of what they were writing about. OTOH, I like James Joyce and Hawthorne. I understood them. I have never read any of these writers’ works prior to my English Lit class which was a requirement in college.

Posted by: rainforest1 | March 13, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

After the last Apollo mission, it might've been best if NASA had announced it was pressing on toward Mars, to keep the momentum of manned space exploration moving in a specific direction. As it turned out, all we did was park our butts in LEO and stay there for 30 years. The shuttle was needed to build and service the ISS and the ISS was needed to provide a raison d'etre for the shuttle. Symbiotic I think that's called. Meanwhile, we just kept circling the earth time after time at about 200 mi. NASA better figure out a worthwhile manned mission then sell the hell out of it using lots of sexy young babes in bikinis purring,'watch us ride our shiny, new rockets to the stars!' Indeed. NASA needs to get some sizzle back in the space program. Or do we have a space 'program' anymore?

Posted by: ctenwith | March 13, 2010 4:25 AM | Report abuse

NukeSpouse and I send our condolences, TBG. *HUGSSSS*

Howell Raines could have provided a few more facts and a little less rage, but I can't argue with his premise (2,142 people might disagree with me, it seems):

*breaking-out-the-wet-suit-for-a-day-of-chores Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 13, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and here's a victory for reason and the scientific method:

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 13, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

On the other hand...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 13, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

From the Texas History Book article:

///“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”///

Article VI, Section 3:

///The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.///

The First Amendment:

///Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.///

Who do I contact to get my money?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

And I name the ACLU as my designated charity.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I am sorry to hear about the death in your family, TBG. And yes, sometimes a mixed blessings, but always very sad.

Concerning the kit..

It seems we act and sound more like little kids sometimes in our adult life, having to be spoon fed, not subject to strong meats. I don't know, space travel has a certain science fiction about it, yet I thought making it a "travel" more or less as in airplane travel for the masses had some appeal. Of course, one does need a destination or such an event would turn out to be like a ride in a theme park.

Mudge, Yoki, Martooni, Slyness, Scotty, Lindaloo, and everyone here, have a great weekend.

I read the Desmond Tutu piece, Slyness, and he certainly makes a point. I'm not a fan of mistreating people anyway, regardless of who or what they are by anyone or any group. We're not called to judge, just love one another, and it all through the Lord Jesus.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 13, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

TBG-best wishes to you and the gathering family. I am the oldest first cousin on both sides of the family so perhaps a little less ready than the others for our generation to start falling.

Good morning boodle! The sun has forsaken Our Fair City and mud has moved in. Moss in the woods is fluorescent with spring growth and dead spruce are furry with gray-green lichens. I spied a few pussy willows in the ditches on my way home from town yesterday. Now if we can just be spared the late April snowstorm.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning Everyone.

So sorry to hear your sad news TBG. The worst part of getting older, I think, is that people you know and love keep dying.

My yard is a swamp this morning. I feel as if I should shine a flashlight around to catch the alligator eyes.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 13, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I'm sorry for your loss. If your immediate family is any indicator, I would expect any large gathering of your relatives to be quite the social event, with much good cheer and mutual affection. That is a good thing.

My family is much less demonstrative and connected than yours, but we do gather for funerals. My dad has remarked that we have markedly few tears on those occasions. That's partly because most of us are believers who don't view death as an ending or an obliteration, but as a passing on to something that can be thought of as "better" than this world. It's also because we are all so happy to see each other--it's a rare event and my relatives are nice people who enjoy each other's company. (I'm aware from personal experience that not all families are like that--my inlaws joke that they should have a collective bet, at any such event, as to how many hours it will take before the police need to be called in to settle some violent dispute or other.)

Posted by: kbertocci | March 13, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear about your cousin, TBG, 61 is waayy too young for someone to die. It will certainly stop you in your tracks when you realize it's your generation! I hope he has a good funeral and all the family enjoys being together.

We had a spring thunderstorm last night; the west windows are still wet from the driving rain. So far Mr. T has not had to mow the lawn; normally, he will start in late February. And my camellias are starting to open their buds, about a month late. These are indications of how cold the winter was. I just hope the cold knocked back the fire ants, which are starting to be a problem around here.

Yello, the narrow-mindedness of the right never ceases to amaze, does it? One of the comments in the morning paper said that the church should be handling most of what the federal government does. Hello, the church doesn't have the resources because it can't tax. That public administration 101.

Posted by: slyness | March 13, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what happens when a Texas teacher teaches what progressives Washington, Adams, Jefferson actually wrote about religion. Will they fire the teacher? When he/she wins the damages, what will they be?

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 13, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Again the Obama cabal makes a broad announcement of a major policy shift (interestingly using a variation on Nixon's impoundment theory to seize Constitutionally questionable powers for the executive), without sufficient understanding of the very nature of the impacted agency. The reliability required to reduce risks to acceptable levels demands that older, more tested and refined technologies are superior to "pushing the envelope" on technological capacity at the expense of subjecting our human and robotic missions to the NASA equivalent to the "blue screen of death".
Once again policy wonks are making decisions in a bubble, without realistic consultation with the engineers and scientists who know the dangerous consequences of those decisions.
How long until we can elect a grown-up replacement for the Oval Office?

Posted by: UncomfortableTruths | March 13, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

TBG, my condolences at your family's loss. The first of my extended fam's generation passed a couple of years ago and it was a bit unsettling for the rest of us. My love and support mojo ray is running full blast for you.

Glad to see Jeff Foust check in. I still think his idea is pretty tenuous and vague. But I ranted plenty on his blog already and won't repeat here.

After several days above freezing, TWC is now snow-free, save for a few lingering plowed-up piles of snow grunge in parking lots. Maybe I'll go out and do some wheelies to celebrate.

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, and thanks to MsJS for the tasty breakfast.

TBG, I'm sorry about your cousin. One of my generation - not the oldest - was the first to die last year and it was deeply shocking for the rest of us. Our extended family also gets together for funerals, and there is lots of laughter and storytelling along with the tears.

I like the way cap'n ahab told a little story to explain why he doesn't think we should expect NASA to tell stories. When we least intend it, narrative will rear its insidious head.

Good for you, yellojkt. I think you should track that guy down and bill him.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks to Brag for your updated Chile post. My only quibble is with the title of your publishing vehicle. You are giving us some darned useful knowledge, and doing it well. Please stay safe.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I am sorry to hear about your cousin. I'm the youngest of the first cousins but have already lost a few second cousins, it certainly makes you think about mortality.

We went to a talent show at the granddaughters' school last night. I thought it would run about an hour or so - three hours and 37 acts later, it was over. Unfortunately one granddaughter was act #6 and the other was act # 34. Most acts were cute but a few stood out. A girl with Downs sang a Beyonce song, two girls did an Irish step dance, and one 6th grade boy did a great computer-Lego animation of The Black Pearl. I commend every one of the first thru' 8th graders who performed - just having the guts to do it is worth applause.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 13, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to what Jeff Foust appears to think, this bad move by the Obama administration is not about bad communications skills. It's about another bungled attempt to shove a very bad idea down our throats. Obama is getting bad advice from some of the friends and supporters who helped him get elected. Lori Garver, Obama top NASA adviser is particularly clueless. This NASA plan, combined with the bungled health-care reform initiative is making this Presidency look more like "Obama in Blunderland" as the month roll by. The President need to fire a lot of people and start over with NASA and with health-care reform.

Posted by: Jim_McDade | March 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Following Frosti's bear cam, here is the local bald eagle cam. The local raptor center has a pair of bald eagles that were too injured to return to the wild (wing injuries, IIRC). They have a nice place to live and have been breeding for several years. Last year the two eggs froze during a cold snap, but this year they are raising a chick who will be released at the appropriate time. It's the fluffy thing on the ground:

Posted by: slyness | March 13, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

TBG - I extend my warmest feelings to you (and yours) at the news of your family's loss. Like yellojkt, I'm the oldest of the generation on both sides of the family, and between that & my often dissipated (not to say dissolute or licentious) lifestyle, I'm hoping I'll go first.

- - - -

Earlier today, rainforest wrote, "I like James Joyce and Hawthorne." I'm certain I've never seen or heard that sentence before, and strongly suspect that it's unique in the annals of human thought!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

TBG, so sorry to hear about your cousin.

It's raining so much here the puddles have puddles. But thank goodness it's not cold enough to snow, because if it were, we'd have a coupla feet by now.

Brag, thanks for the update. It makes me glad once again that we bailed on our March 2 cruise out of Santiago.

Regarding the 9:31, nice job parroting the Republican talking points. Do you have any thoughts of your own?

Posted by: Raysmom | March 13, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Awww, Raysmom, it's not nice to laugh at those who are struggling to make sense of a world which confuses them.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Nasa does one thing extremely well. Robot exploration. Run with it. I am all for building vehicles to intercept asteroid threats. That has merit. Put robots on every heavenly body we can and explore it and send back pictures. Let ours be the generation of robot exploration. When the technology advances enough for safe manned exploration of planets so be it. Human habitation seems to be more of an urge than a necessity. The telescopes, the rovers, the deep space probes are all fantastic. Nasa needs to understand what it does best and what still needs to be on the horizon for future generations.

Posted by: bobbo2 | March 13, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Nasa does one thing extremely well. Robot exploration. Run with it. I am all for building vehicles to intercept asteroid threats. That has merit. Put robots on every heavenly body we can and explore it and send back pictures. Let ours be the generation of robot exploration. When the technology advances enough for safe manned exploration of planets so be it. Human habitation seems to be more of an urge than a necessity. The telescopes, the rovers, the deep space probes are all fantastic. Nasa needs to understand what it does best and what still needs to be on the horizon for future generations.

Posted by: bobbo2 | March 13, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

slyness-suspending my eagle loathing for that cute little fluff ball. Thanks for the link.

Have been puzzling over an interview I heard with one of the two leading Rep. candidates for MN governor. In defending not pursuing health care reform, he said "we need to incentivize doctors to provide more uncompensated care." I turn to the boodle to check my limited vocabulary. Am I out to lunch when I translate this as-we need to pay doctors to provide more unpaid care?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I'm sorry to hear about your cousin. I know your family will send him off in loving style. We'll be thinking of you.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 13, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, "incentivize" is a tricky word. It may not mean a cash payment.

For example, the doctors may get gold stars on a tracking sheet placed in the MN Capitol bldg. Folks could come from all over the country to see who has the most. It could become a major tourist attraction.

Just think of how proud a doctor would be to have her/his name with all those gold stars next to it in full view of the public. Yep, that's one heckuva incentive.

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "heckuvan incentive."

So sorry.

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I thought about it, Frosti, and I agree that statement means payment to doctors for care patients can't pay for. Is this candidate proposing socialistic health care? Wow.

Posted by: slyness | March 13, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

O.K., state politics. Stopping in for the briefest of moments.

Saw this article is #2 for most e-mailed at the NYT, headlined "Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change":

However, along the same lines, this is a very, very funny op-ed by metro columnist John Kelso (easy name to remember, the name of my second grade elementary school teacher, Miss Kelso) that I read early Friday morning in the Austin American-Statesman.

I laughed so hard at Kelso's history quiz embedded in his article, but had to suppress myself and laugh quietly since others were sleeping beyond the other four upstairs doorknobs.:


3. The Louisiana Purchase: debit, or credit?

8. Dinosaurs were roaming the Earth when Rick Perry was first elected Texas governor, right?

That Friday Austin American-Statesman was one humdinger of a paper. Salazar in Zilker Park with a global warming project (today our paper reports Kenny was in the Big Bend for another appearance regarding spending of stimulus dollars in the park, not to mention a canoe trip down the Rio Grande...some people get to have all the fun, I tell ya), in the business pages, Facebook and a Chinese solar panel maker beginning to set up shops around Austin. Made me want to take home the front and metro sections. Bad, bad news junkie, I yam.

Posted by: laloomis | March 13, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

A lovely post ruined by the PrudeBot.

Dang. No dirty words even, unless Tennyson is one.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

When you live in a Florida beach community, you get used to seeing the neighbors wearing their wetsuits to do pressure washing and other chores on cool, wet days.

They've improved (and gotten cheaper) to the extent that beachgoers in Cornwall have come to like rainy weather.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 13, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Here's an eagle cam from Redding, CA.

This pair refused to be dissuaded from this nest two years ago when the highway department began to widen a bridge adjacent to this tree. The eagles had raised a pair of chicks twice in the years before. The highway department wired a big plastic cone over the nest in an attempt to get the eagles to move to another place. The eagles just attacked the cone until public pressure convinced the highway department to relent. The eagles promptly produced three eggs and fledgled three healthy chicks. This year they have again produced three eggs.

Posted by: bh72 | March 13, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

MsJS-You might be on to something. Perhaps I was too hasty. I can see gold star charts being so attractive to primary care physicians they'll be totally ready to overlook the 40 mile drive to a grocery store and will swamp the medically underserved communities in our region.

slyness-that's the only way I can read it, except for MsJS's brilliant suggestion for an alternative incentive. Maybe he meant that.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I join all the others in my condolences for your loss.

bh72 (aren't you 73 by this time?), that's a hoot. And, yes, I know, eagles don't hoot - owls do - but it's just one more indication that the human animal can be the downright stoopidest in the universe. Good for them eagles! Go Eagles! Oh, wait .....

Have done tons of errands today, with another one just foisted upon me by a friend wanting me to come over to watch the Georgetown game in the finals against WVa. There'll be a lot of people there, but I'm still gonna only get one bottle of wine (there's a pretty large subset of that gang who don't drink).

What a grungy, ugly day out. And to think that we hafta lose a whole hour of sleep is starting to make me cranky.

I guess I'd better go, then.

Posted by: -ftb- | March 13, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Frosti: Was this Seifert or Emmer?

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

ftb, Almost I ID'ed ahead so I would only have to ID once every two years. Gota save energy at my age. Although I worked last night eight hours as a sub custodian cleaning an elementary school. Lotsa aches this morning.
Snowed again last night but this morning's sun has it about all gone.

Posted by: bh72 | March 13, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Good rainy afternoon, Boodle. TBG, my condolences.

We're having two couple over for dinner; the theme is "soup." My wife is making her vegetable beef (as opposed to my much superior version, ahem), while I am doing my legendary baked onion soup. We're all prepped, just waiting to toss mine in the oven.

Scotty, I loved that Howell Raines piece you linked to at 6:26. I thought he could have been even angrier. I've been saying all that for years, as have a number of my political friends. I would go so far as to accuse the other three networks plus all the print media of simple, unadorned cowardice that masks itself as "fairness." or some such. But the media will no more take on one of its own than doctors will nark on doctors, lawyers, will nark on other lawyers, cops will nark on other cops, etc. For some reason, people in various professions won't p[roperly police their own professions. Never have, most likely never will,

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 13, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm with MsJS. "Incentivize" may mean many things to a legislator. While tax credits are one way to incentivize, many require neither payment nor even the promise of it. For instance, eighth graders here are incentivized to pass the eighth grade writing test because if they do not pass, they don't get their driver's license when they turn 16.

Perhaps Minnesota could make physician license status contingent on free treatment of the indigent. Maybe they'd have to treat patients free in order to qualify for reimbursement of insured patients. There's lots of potential for incentivization, really - if you don't mind all the doctors moving out of Minnesota.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he's thinking tax break incentives.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Or, of course, the State could drop bears off at physician offices, unless the practice treated the indigent for free. If doctors with bears started the free service, the State would remove their bears. Incentivization - and more bears!

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Seems the surfing contest at Sebastian Inlet went ahead yesterday, despite nearly continuous rain. The surfers liked the conditions, people watching on the beach, not so much.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 13, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Wet miserable march day here, water everywhere after about 24 hours of steady and sometime heavy rains. On top of that I find out Mudge is making baked onion soup - that would be so good today. I would ask that some get faxed to me but you would never get the cheese out of the machine.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The bears need tax breaks for every doctor treed, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

You know, I hadn't thought about it, but neither bears nor eagles are used to their maximum potential as instruments of social policy, are they?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

More reason to suspect NASA has a narrative problem.

Here are two of the headlines currently running on the NASA home page ( ).
“Chopper Crash Test a Smash Hit”
“Go Inside a Clean Room Daily via NASA’s ‘Webb-cam’”

I’m not sure “crash” is a word NASA should headline. Indeed, elsewhere on the site the event is referred to as a “drop test.”

And can anyone tell me what a clean room daily is? Yes, there are two B’s in “Webb” because what we’re looking at is work being done on the new James Webb Space Telescope. We get a new picture every minute. The article contradicts itself as to whether there is one webcam or more than one, and it’s not really daily, only during regular working hours, Monday through Friday.

Oh, at the top of the page where the clean room daily story appears it reads, “Good, Luck, SDO!” without any obvious method of discerning what or who SDO is.

Before NASA goes out and hires some high-priced marketing consultants to create an emotional-but-strategic selling story, it needs a good copy editor.

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

dmd - Any day in March that doesn't require me to repeatedly shovel snow (or raft away from my house with my few possessions, or flee from the earthquake-shaken roof & walls) isn't so miserable.

But it would definitely be better with Mudgonions.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

TBG, condolences to you and your family.

Orcas in the Sound:
(the video is raw - I suppose the whales are too, but we don't think of them that way here)

Sunny morning, but windy with clouds moving in. It's March. I hate turning the clocks ahead, so will be late and grumpy tomorrow.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 13, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

MsJS-It was Emmer, who I am surprised is still in the race anyway. But, the paid pundits seem to think it's still pretty close.

Imom-Yes,incentivizing through licensing sanctions has some appeal. (Perhaps that would be disincentivizing?) Except for that problem you pointed out of the giant sucking sound of the doctors leaving. Besides, rants against "gummint mandates" are such a big part of the Rep. message this year.

Thanks to all for the bear presence in today's boodle. If only it were as easy to get RD the free coffee he deserves.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

seasea - Well, look at it this way: Since Brag's earthshake, you're actually going to lose about one twenty-fourth of a millionth of a second less sleep than you would have otherwise!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Ooops! Technically, you're losing that much more of the newly-shortened day. Forget that I mentioned it.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm still thinking of bears as an instrument of public policy. Fill an antechamber or hall in the State Capitol with bears. When legislators approach deadlines which they frequently miss - here, funding school systems, or passing a budget - release the bears into the legislative chamber if they miss the deadline. Lock the doors.

Escort leashed bears around the Capitol offices to catch legislators who are in their offices, missing votes. Unleash the bears.

Note these could work for City Council and school board meetings as well.

Require large public rally and meeting stages to have barriers from the audience. Independent fact-checking organizations could take bears to the meetings, sitting on the barricaded dias with the organizers. If speakers, from the left or right, rely on misinformation, lies and inflammatory rhetoric to create crowd frenzy, unleash the bears.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

We do have the Constitutional right to arm bears. I think.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of narrative problems, my son and I went to see Alice and Wonderland this afternoon.

I am postulating something I call the "Sherlock Holmes Effect." This is when you take well-established characters and stick them in a movie that, although quite entertaining, has only a marginal relationship to the original material.

I mean, the plot of this film had much more to do with "Chronicles of Narnia" (minus that whole religious metaphor business) or something from Tolkein than any of the Alice books. If anything, this was a weird mashup of Alice and The Jabberwocky.

Which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the movie. I actually did. Visually delightful, whimsically dark, and occasionally quite touching. Very Tim Burton.

There is just part of my inner literary snob that rebels against the sight of Alice in a suit of armor.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 13, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

My daughter had mixed feelings about the Alice movie, didn't like the plot too much but thought the 3D was great. She is currently hooked on the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series - has read them all think she is reading them for the third time now, she saw the movie before reading the books, last night we were watching the movie, and she was yelling at the screen at the important parts of the book that were not in the movie - she is lots of fun.

Her current amusement is to tell people she was born on Feb. 30 to see if anyone notices, so far they haven't not a good sign for the current crop of teens.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 13, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I do not have eagles but peregrine falcons.

Polly is the daughter of Roger and Spirit from a couple of years ago. Roger still offers her a meal once in a while but Spririt treats her like competition. The "ménage à trois" video is showing all three.

The falcons are nesting on the infamous phallic symbol, the Université de Montréal tower. I suspect this monument is a deeply ironic design from Cormier, its architect. The Uni was run by priests at the time. The falcons live on the the ledge that is between the long tower and the short one.

The rain just started here dmd. I'm doing BBQ, of course. %$&%@%*ak!

I'll be in NJ for three days next week and I'm planning three short nights in Manhattan. The food should be interesting, for once. Better than Drinkwater, SK anyway.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

*faxing dmd a ramekin of baked onion soup. Note to dmd: there is no cheese on it, so nothing to gum up the fax machine. However, feel free to add cheese at your end. Note: each serving contains 1/3 cup of wine, although the alcohol is probably baked out* *probably*

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 13, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that "C-Span in 3-D" would be a bore. But I'm grooving on the idea of seeing "Question Time" in the British Parliament (or regular sessions of the Texas legislature, or the Korean National Assembly [you know they actually bite each other occasionally?!?]) in their full gory glory.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

YUM! I'll take a ramkin if you'll send it through, Mudge. The perfect soup for a March day. And we have had one! Not a cloud in the sky at 7:30, currently overcast with sporatic rain and lots of wind. Temp 58, down from mid-60's at lunchtime. It feels much cooler, of course, because of the wind.

London broil on the grill for dinner, in the carport because of the weather. Accompanied by roasted asparagus, rice, and biscuits. I can't eat too much asparagus while it's in season...

Posted by: slyness | March 13, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

*faxing ramekins to slyness and bobsewell*

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | March 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering 'bout that. Thanks!!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I should mention that I fully intend to start using the phrase, "unleash the bears" on a fairly regular basis. Often inappropriately, and never with proper attribution.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

TBG, condolences to you and your family, of course.

Mr. Foust, thanks for joining us here.

Mudge, about emotions and motivation - I believe we humans aren't meant to be solely logical beings, and act on emotion and intuition as much as logic. I believe this is in part, what makes humanity so wonderful, the parts where people thoughtlessly risk their lives to save another in danger or to be moved by the Band of Brothers/St. Crispin's Day speech in "Henry V."

Nothing risked, nothing ventured then nothing gained.

Sometimes you need the pep talk before the game, sometimes you need it at halftime, too. But if you're down 35-0 at the half, do you walk out on the game, give up because it seems impossible?

This universe has not beaten me yet, and I ain't giving up. And someday, someone better than I will deliver something like JFK did, something that spurs and motivates the soul, spirit and heart as much as the mind.

If simply I'm a believer in that emotional - dare I call it 'spiritual'? - crap, then so be it, by friend.


Posted by: -bc- | March 13, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Did the Germans give up when the Lombards ate their arbor?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge, have to go to the arena in a few minutes, the soup will be a great warm up on my return.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 13, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

It is soup day indeed. I made a large vat of pea soup for later this week. With the ham bone, carrots, the works.
Yeah, I know. How shocking that a French Canadian makes pea soup.
Yet the menu for tonight is grilled (in the rain) lamb, stir-fried broccoli and rice.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

No soup here. No grilling either. Takeout Thai with cookies du jour for dessert.

MrJS nixed the 'something different' concept for the weekend. (He's such a creature of habit.) In exchange, we'll have a nice restaurant dinner on Sunday or Monday to celebrate the Ides of March.

I think those who are gainfully employed should write a note to their superior suggesting how bears might be productively used by your department.

For myself, I'm going to call the condo management company on Monday and suggest a bear for each gazebo.

Posted by: MsJS | March 13, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I saw Alice in Wonderland yesterday, in 2D (too cheap to pay for 3D). It was ok, but I've got to check my unabridged version to see what was made up (beyond the obvious parts). I seem to remember an illustration of Alice in armor. I love Tim Burton, but I wish he wouldn't use such dim lighting. I felt like I was missing a lot of detail in the scenery at times. I did think the horse statuary, and the Jabberwock, owed a lot to LOTR. My movie buff friend is tired of Johnny Depp doing all these weird cartoonish characters.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 13, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Dr G made baked salmon with fresh dill and a delicious lemon cream sauce, stir-fried veggies and mashed batata. Delicious.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 13, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"Dr G made baked salmon with fresh dill and a delicious lemon cream sauce, stir-fried veggies and mashed batata. Delicious."

Wow! I wonder what Wolfgang Puck is having for dinner tonight? Odds are, not that good. He's a working man, after all.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Has your movie buff friend taken a good look at Johnny Depp "au naturel?"

There's a reason why "Edward Scissorhands" was his real break-out role... well after he played a kid in "Nightmare on Elm Street" and then some bits on 21 Jump Street.

Some people just are more digestible to watch in a ton of pancake makeup.

(Not a Johnny Depp fan here.)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Saw this silly joke-- new one on me.

A pair of cows were talking in the field.

One says, "Have you heard about the mad cow disease that's going around?"

"Yeah," the other cow says. "Makes me glad I'm a penguin."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but Christopher Walken, Johnny Depp, and Walter Brennan will not be casually disparaged on my watch without rebuttal. These folks did/do great work with or without pancake.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, pretty scary huh? How bout that NFL horse collar take down?

Dozed off during the half time. Couldn't believe the score when I woke up.

Posted by: bh72 | March 13, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., name me a pancakeless/ non-cartoony movie in which Johnny Depp did his finest work.

I'm just not a fan of his looks, period.

I think it's weird to look at somebody who is, in effect, Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood mated in a transporter at Anorexia Anonymous.

As far I'm concerned, pound on the makeup and costuming so he doesn't cut the screen wide openwith his cheekbones and hipbones.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Now since I'm a jayhawk by birth I have to watch the big 12 championship (course I was moved to CA when I was three) but my mom always reminded me.

but Dam*ed musburger is the announcer.

Roast beef in the oven for the next two hours. Then served with sauteed asparagus with slivered almonds.

Posted by: bh72 | March 13, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I love slivered almonds, but seldom have the patience to make them. I just bash 'em with a hammer until they submit. "Pulverized" almonds is what my guests usually have to settle for.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

In total agreement with bobs at 6:51

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Chocolat, Wilbrod.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 13, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I thought Depp did good work in "Ed Wood."

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 13, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

My great uncle had a almond ranch near San Loui Obispo that my Dad managed when I was eight. They would set me out in the cracker shell trailer under the exhaust blower with bucket to pickup the pieces of almond the went out with the shells.

My Mom said the difference between an almond and a ammond (as they called them in Kansas) was an almond with the h*ll knocked out of it.

Posted by: bh72 | March 13, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the aforementioned, and without consulting a movie database, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", "Benny and Joon", and "Don Juan DeMarco" come to mind.

The man can act a little, and has been doing it for quite a while. I'll bet there are a few more examples.

[This is brought to you by a guy who had no use for him early in his career, because I blew him off as a talentless pretty boy during the "Jump Street" days.]

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I also liked him in "Donnie Brasco" and "The Ninth Gate." (Probably in a minority on the latter.)

Posted by: rashomon | March 13, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I didn't mention "Donnie Brasco", and thank you for reminding me of "Ninth Gate". Delightfully weird, that one.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I made the mistake of having dinner reservations at Colicchio and Sons.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 13, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, having reservations is no great sin. Should I assume that the reversion to a la cart was... busy?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Chocolat certainly. Highly under rated in What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 13, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Finding Neverland, Chocolat. Johnny Depp's a good actor, so it would be nice to see him in roles which allow him to act while still being recognizably human. Of course, I loved Edward Scissorhands (his Mad Hatter had some Scissors-like action too). And I think RD's take on Alice in Wonderland was correct.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 13, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, thank you for the bears suggestion. How can bears be effectively used in our organization. . . hmmm. Well, for starters, we could position one near the attorney tables during oral argument. I suspect it would be very effective.

A bear for each gazebo. Very nice.

I like Johnny Depp, think he is very talented and like his peculiar looks. Never yet saw him give a bad performance.

Roast chicken, rice, green beans, apples here. Now I have a nice pot of stock simmering. I should be baking something to take to after-church hour (snacks by the choir) tomorrow, but am not. I am a bad penguin.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm going out to, ummm... unleash some bears. Talk to y'all later.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

First African-American to walk in space? From San Antonio.:

Posted by: laloomis | March 13, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Random public service announcement: please remember to reset your clocks by an hour.

This announcement brought to you by bears, who will be only too pleased to enforce the time change should you forget.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 13, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

My mother had mugs made for us, as we moved onward, with the text:

This bears my love to you.

Bear, is also a verb.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | March 13, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, on your emotion/rational question, I have a bunch of thoughts. Everything from The Prince to Man from La Mancha's Dream the Impossible Dream.

I don't think it's possible to eliminate emotion, and while that may be unpalatable, there it is. We're talking people here. Further, emotion is and always has been a big part of how our government works. To eliminate it would be catastrophic to the structure of policy- and lawmaking, the policies and the laws themselves, and the administration or enforcement of the same.

But more directly to your point, yes, by and large, the American people need to be sold on grand ideas, especially in times of economic downturns. Whether those ideas be a New Deal, a ground war in Asia, TARP, or manned space exploration. In the current instance, the Administration may have lost control of the narrative, but it's the responsibility of NASA's Public Relations and Legislative Affairs offices to drive that train. They need to re-think their strategy.

Have a happy night all.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 13, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

People can't buy the conclusions if they don't know or buy the premises those conclusions are drawn from.

So when you have complicated premises or a complicated conclusion (which might be partly self-serving or the best compromise between many factors)... either you educate A-Z or you hard-sell them on the conclusions as "the right thing" (to beat the Russians) in relation to values they already hold or at least feel obligated to hold.

One way gets more arguments and second-guessing, the other way silences opposition more effectively.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 13, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Another earthquake, this is getting more than a little disturbing.

Posted by: dmd3 | March 13, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I'd be remiss if I didn't post this:

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said:
"Feed your head
Feed your head"

Posted by: seasea1 | March 13, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Since we're singing, wasn't this guy in The Wizard of Oz?

I cleaned the oven today. Or it cleaned itself, but I had to open many windows, set up a fan, turn off all the smoke detectors and start all the ceiling fans. Maybe I should do this more often than every 5 years.

Lunch was Thai noodles with chicken; Cajun/jerk-seasoned catfish with roasted potatoes and garlic-gorgonzola salad for dinner.

Shriek, will you be in a part of NJ that's close to the PA border?

Here's hoping nobody gets beeped because the time change doesn't go as planned.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 14, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

DST killed the Achenblog.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 14, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

I think the last time change was the first time the Boodle timestamp didn't go all kerflooey. Hope it goes ok this time. (I love being beeper-free, although it doesn't pay well. Earthquakes made me twitchy too, because of the disaster recovery implications for work. Now, not so much.)

Posted by: seasea1 | March 14, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Well, Bob, you’ve never hear of James Joyce and Hawthorne because it’s a legal firm, now defunct. Not. I didn’t remember Nathaniel Hawthorne first name went I was writing and was too lazy to go look it up.

I made a pot of curry that turned out, to my surprise, quite good. I make curry once in a very blue moon. That’s because I couldn’t make it taste good. Not this time. I find that what it really need besides curry powder and coconut milk is lemon grass, candle nut and 1 or 2 pandan or screw pine leaves. A little tamarind juice would be good, too.

Posted by: rainforest1 | March 14, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

The time stamp has decided it didn't want to change.

Posted by: rainforest1 | March 14, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I loves me some defunct law firms!!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 3:20 AM | Report abuse

And I can't believe you're gonna taunt me with candle nuts & screw pine leaves.

Very cruel, that!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 3:25 AM | Report abuse

Just so we're clear: Once I've gathered my candle nuts and screw pine leaves, I should be squeezing the juice from a tamarind fruit, not a tamarin monkey, right?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 3:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm not proud to admit this, but occasionally I forget just how tasty fresh little birdies can be.

This cat has not.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Don't get the monkeys involve, Bob.

Posted by: rainforest1 | March 14, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

I thought that was right, but wanted verification.


Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 3:57 AM | Report abuse

I now have two phrases that I shall use regularly:
"Unleash the bears"
"Don't get the monkeys involved"

I'm also ecstatic to find that the Prez has passed some of his Nobel prize money to an organization known as the "Posse Foundation"

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 4:35 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone and Happy Pie day........
this past summer a friend made a white peach pie that was simply the best.....makes me hungry just thinking about it

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 14, 2010 4:36 AM | Report abuse

Here's a start (more would be unseemly):


Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! I'd whine about DST more properly starting in April, but I'm driving to FL at the end of the month and by then I'll appreciate the shift of daylight to the evening. Right now I think I'll just head back to bed, almost two hours to sunrise, blech.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 14, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Blustery morning here at the House of the Snoring Dog. This Puppy is a clown even when he sleeps.
No dbg, I'll be just across the river from Noo Yok citty. I'm told there is a quick shuttle to Manhattan so I'll visit the Big Apple. Last time I was there for more than a brief visit was 30 years ago so I'm looking forward to it.
First F1 race of the seasons starts in about an hour. It will be interesting to see who has taken the best path to compliance to the new rules. It doesn't look like Brawn/Virgin will repeat the tear-away they did last year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 14, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. This daylight savings time, I don't know. It's dark outside, yet I guess the end part is okay. All of it will have to be ok.

The weather here is a bit chilly, but we've had thunderstorms. I guess spring is making it's entrance, the loud way. Winter does not want to go away.

Mudge, Scotty, Slyness, Martooni, Yoki, Lindaloo, and everyone here, have a beautiful Sunday, give God some of your time, and enjoy your lovely families.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 14, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Happy Pi Day to everyone. Sadly, because of the abomination of Daylight Saving Time there is an hour less of it than is right and proper.

I really hate it when we are all forced to Spring Forward. For me it always ends up being such an awkward lurch.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 14, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Hi Cassandra!

I forgot to change the clock on the thermostat last night, so when I did it this morning, I screwed up the cycle and the heat hasn't come on. I can't win... This is a recurring issue that generally fixes itself, so we'll see.

Fortunately, we'll be leaving in a little while anyway, so I won't have to deal with it till this afternoon.

I hope everyone has a nice day!

Posted by: slyness | March 14, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I'm early... Or is it late?

Timestamp seems to have weathered the change intact.

Hey, Loudon's got a symphony orchestra, who knew?? NukeSpouse's co-worker is part of the ensemble and invited us to their performance last night. I can't recall the last time I took in an orchestra live, but it was a good show. A little Wagner, a lot of Tchaikovsky (five movements, had to wait for the rest of the audience to know when to applaud), and a new composition that resembled a movie soundtrack. Sadly (but not unexpectedly), the orchestra director had to close the intermission by noting the economy's effect on fundraising and support. We're seriously considering going to the next show -- "Appalachian Spring" is on the program! :-)

*wondering-if-the-swelling-river-will-affect-tomorrow's-Dawn-Patrol Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 14, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, if Appalachian spring is on the program,make sure to go. Kerric took me to the symphony for Mother's Day last year. It was wonderful. I know he has gone several times since.

As my dad would say, Pi are not square, pie are round. Happy Pi day.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 14, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

dr: PaterJS said the same thing. Still does.

Yes, RD_P, Lurch was awkward. Except when playing the harpsichord.

Gotta admit Appalachian Spring doesn't do it for me. While I am normally a ballet enthusiast, the Martha Graham ballet that uses this score grates like fingernails on slate. I'm not able to listen to the music without experiencing ghoulish visions of the ballet.

Omelets for lunch if anyone's interested.

Happy Pi Day and Ides of March Eve.

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Too bad you won't be at the Oak Room in the Algonquin for brunch or we could have a NYC BPH. It'll be the one doing the Dorothy Parker impersonation.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Well, I forgot it was pie day but I made blueberry muffins this morning. I'm packing up a bunch of them, along with--from the garden--a bag of tomatoes and a bunch of bananas, and taking them via bicycle to my friend in Boca Raton. Said friend will in return give me the videotape of the Academy Awards which she made for me last week. Ah, the simple life.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 14, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I went to Twitter before A-blog this morning, and found it out of order. I immediately thought, uh-oh, what giant world event has happened to get people tweeting so much that it crashed Twitter. Then thought, how weird that would be if WWIII started or an asteroid crashed into us or something, and the way I was first alerted to it was that Twitter was down.

Apparently, it's just mundane technical difficulties, not the End of Civilization as We Know It or anything--although, I may be coming to this conclusion prematurely, having only checked on the Achenblog to confirm that all's still right with the world.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 14, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Happy Pi Day all, and I'm looking forward to the Ides of March. What a fun-filled week it shall be.

Only the Boy seems to have been affected by Daylight Savings Time - we had three full "five more minutes" before he was up. He has obligations this morning.

Beatrice and the dogs remain unaffected by the time change, reinforcing once again my realization that clock time is an artificial construct designed for man's convenience. It took me a few days to get past this during the last change; I'll try not to think about it too much.

Scottynuke, please do attend another concert. There is nothing like live performance, and I mean that in a good way. Those musicians are probably essentially donating their time (not much money in community orchestra or theater) for love of the sport. While fundraising is important, an audience is essential. Support your local music or theater groups not just by giving money, but by giving your time, eyes and ears, and enjoyment - go to a show!

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 14, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

If the world came to an end, I'm sure Joel would let us know.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I like to go to symphony concerts in a tux, with a tuba. I don't play it or anything. Kinda freaks them out.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Hidey-Ho Boodlers, near and far.

After spending the evening at a friend's house, watching the Georgetown-West Virginia game (there were 6 of us) up to and beyond the heartbreaking end (G'town lost by 2), I came home, changed the clocks, did my nighttime ablutions and finished the rest of the third Millennium book. It certainly did not disappoint. Not sure what I'm going to read next. I've pushed Shakespeare further out on the continuum, and I'm considering getting into "Petals of Blood" in advance of seeing Ngugi wa Thiong'o on Wednesday evening.

But all of that lack of sleep (real and manufactured) has left me completely whacked out, whining and whingeing. Whinnying, not so much. So, with eyelids flagged at a bid more than half-mast, I bid you all adieu until later.


Posted by: -ftb- | March 14, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't today be the Pides of March, then?

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 14, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Just so you all know in advance, there are those who believe something cataclysmic may happen on December 21, 2012.

Since Dec. 21 happens to be my birffday, I'm planning a party to celebrate whatever the cosmos has in store.

Invitations will eventually be sent out, but it's never too early to mark your calendars.

Well maybe it is, but now y'all have something to look forward to.

I have it in writing the cosmos will maintain Planet Earth (more or less) until then.

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh and BobS, you are welcome to bring your tuba. Informal attire is encouraged but by no means mandatory.

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! The batch of stew I'm making should run out about then, so I'll be looking for somewhere to scrounge some snacks.

Posted by: bobsewell | March 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This morning a link to the large, very funny cartoon on the op-ed pages of the San Antonio Express-News, a cartoon about the new conservative curriculum changes to come in Texas schools (the link provides the latest 24 cartoons by Branch; today's is the first of the 24):

Posted by: laloomis | March 14, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks to Bob S. (at 4:35 a.m.???) for providing the link to the reporting by Scott Wilson about how Obama's Nobel Peace Prize money will be distributed to 10 charities. In reading it rapidly (now twice, rapidly), I see that a good portion of it goes toward education--very good indeed.

A small portion, $100,000 goes to AfriCare, a sum for which I think Dr. Bill Foege would give a slight, appreciative nod.

A physician blogger, pediatrician Dr. Marta Katalenas from Round Rock, Texas, has beat me (*l*, because my take on it WILL be different, more interesting detail) in covering the Foege speech at Southwestern University Thursday night. Katalenas does call out an extremely important nugget (below) from Thurday evening's lecture.

Note, that there is accompanying photo to Dr. Katalenas's blog post, showing both her and Dr. Foege. Note that Foege is holding his left hand with his right hand. This is because Foege's left arm is in a sling. More on that later.

"Young students today have an open book to write as he reminded us about the 200,000 children who die every week from vaccine-preventable illnesses." [in contrast to people who wring their hands about the 200,000 death toll in Haiti from the January earthquake]

We're off to see Matt Damon in "The Green Zone." I was listening to Terri Gross's NPR program on the drive Thursday late morning to Georgetown--what I could hear of it. I hiot hills and dales, and it the depressions of the hills the radio signal faded. By the time I hit the turnoff to Canyon Lake, I was out of range.

Gross was interviewing the young actress in the movie. I learned that the movie is very loosely based on Rajiv's book and that Rajiv was on the movie set for the filming. Roger Ebert's review of "Green Zone" is superb.

Seeing this movie in just minutes is our reward for cleaning up about about a million very recently fallen live oak leaves yesterday in both our front and back yard.

Enjoy your respective Sundays.

Posted by: laloomis | March 14, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

SCC: I hit hills and dales and in the depressions of the hills...hard to think and type when husabnd yammering at me about getting ready to leave for the movie...*l*

Posted by: laloomis | March 14, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions."

An interesting follow-up thought to my posted quote from Thomas Jefferson quote about freedom and ignorance in a civilized society. Add that to the recent behavior of Glenn Beck and his rants about "social justice" being communism and bad and we clearly are living in weird times.

Or is it--the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 14, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I think my latest lemon grass plant expired. Probably something about being shaded out by heliconias. I've gotta finally cut the remaining dead heliconia shoots from last year.

The rest of the yard is coming back to life after a rough winter. A few palm leaves should unfurl this week. Oak catkins are falling, Easter lilies growing, and the Florida irises and crinums might put on a show. They're in their own mini-bog, an area made permanently wet by a pond liner.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 14, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse


Ovechkin just shoved Brian Campbell of the Blackhawks into the boards. That's gotta hurt.

Ovechkin's just been ejected.

If you're a Capitals fan, that's gotta hurt.

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse


I was rather skeptical when I heard the reports about the CA Prius owner who said his gas pedal stuck. Now this:

And an interesting point in the photo caption:

"A law firm for the driver who says his Toyota Prius sped out of control in California doesn't plan to sue the Japanese automaker."

*Spockian eyebrow raise*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 14, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I heard that on the radio this morning, Scotty.

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

In an ideal world, we would all take courses to improve our driving skills regularly, before we renew our licenses. I have a Toyota, a RAV4, and I know what to do in the case of a stuck accelerator: put the transmission in neutral. Would I remember to do that in the actual emergency? I worry that I wouldn't.

Not long before I retired, I got to spend an afternoon at the City's driving range, practicing emergency maneuvers under the tutelage of an expect. We had a blast, expecially on the skid pad. I would love to do that again and sharpen my skills.

Posted by: slyness | March 14, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

DaveOTC... How could you let your lemon grass plant expire? Why didn't you renew it before the expiration date?

Happy Pi Day and DST Day to everyone! Too bad this gray sky and dark weather will keep us from seeing that extra daylight tonight.

I found a cool recipe last night for making potato chips in the microwave. Coincidentally, Dr G decided last week that we must have a mandoline, so I had one handy to slice the potatoes. They were so good we made a second batch (i.e., a second potato).

Basically, you slice them thin, spray a sheet of parchment paper with PAM™ and place the slices in one layer on the paper. Then spray the slices and shake salt or whatever seasoning you'd like on them.

Put them in the microwave for 5 minutes (turn off the turntable if you can) and take out crunchy, non-greasy potato chips!

Delicious! Here's the recipe in more detail...

Posted by: -TBG- | March 14, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

You can eat those chips while watching a true guilty pleasure on ABC Family-that DB Sweeney, Moira Kelly classic "the Cutting Edge." The all time best hockey player/figure skater fish out of water movie. If you switch to it now you've missed nothing-except his career ending (but not) injury.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 14, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I tried that with my mandolin and all I got was mush and an out of tune instrument. What's your secret?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 14, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Yum, TBG, that's the kind of recipe I can handle! I'll try it, I know Mr. T will luuvvv the result.

It's a typical early spring day around here, we had a sunny morning and now clouds are coming in. I took the Geekdottir out a few minutes ago to see the minature daffodils blooming. They have multiplied since they were given to her several years ago and I planted the bulbs when they were finished flowering. They are only 5-6 inches tall and intensely yellow.

Posted by: slyness | March 14, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse


It's dead, Jim.

Posted by: slyness | March 14, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, youse guys! There's a NEW KIT!!!!!!!!

Posted by: -ftb- | March 14, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but a new kit!

Posted by: MsJS | March 14, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I think that, in addition to not liking shade, lemongrass plants may not be terribly long-lived. I remember being dazzled by lemongrass, citronella, and a cannonball tree on a junior high field trip. I'm afraid the plants must have made a bigger impression than a grand new radio telescope, complete with the first digital readout I'd ever seen, not to mention wandering around inside the containment dome of a small nuclear power plant.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 14, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

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