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BP oil spill disaster: What went wrong?

I'm at the Kenner hearing. The Kenner hearing is a joint investigation of the Coast Guard and the Agency Formerly Known As the MMS. We're in a conference room in an unprepossessing Radisson hotel by the freeway near the airport. The room is jammed with lawyers and reporters; the only ordinary person I've seen is a Hogtown guy taking his teenage daughter on a trip on the Oregon Trail, with the oil disaster being a stop along the way.

Right now, as I type, we're hearing from a key player, Ronald Sepulvado, a "company man" for BP, but one who left the Deepwater Horizon rig on the morning of April 16, four days before the blowout.

He left to attend "well-control school." He's been in the oil field for decades but apparently was brushing up on his ability to detect something amiss with an oil well.

Meanwhile, Macondo was kicking: A memo on April 15 referred to a "mild" gas problem that, by the 18th, had become "severe."

Sepulvado, however, said he turned off his cellphone and didn't check his e-mail while at well-control school.

A recurring theme: It's always someone else's fault, someone else's orders, someone else's watch.

We've learned of so many things that weren't done right, or warning signs ignored. But yesterday was astonishing even in the context of everything we've heard before -- please read the post by my colleague David Hilzenrath.

I'll summarize: A drilling fluid specialist, Leo Lindner, testified that he and his colleagues came up with the novel idea of doubling up on the "spacer" fluid circulated through the well as part of a procedure to replace mud with sea water. I realize this is complicated stuff and, trust me, we're all getting a crash course in petroleum engineering, so I'll try to cut to the salient point: The reason they used so much spacer fluid (very viscous stuff) is that otherwise they'd have had to pay for a boat to come out to the rig and haul it away to a hazardous waste dump on land. They'd already mixed up two batches of the fluid using two different chemical recipes. There was a way to avoid paying for the waste disposal: Send it all down the well. An exemption in environmental laws allows the fluid to be dumped directly in the Gulf of Mexico if it's used in the wellbore. So they used it all -- a double "pill" of fluid -- so they'd be able to dump it all into the gulf.

But wait: Two different chemical recipes. Would they mix properly, these two fluids? Lindner did a test: He took a gallon of each and mixed them and let them sit over night. They didn't "set," meaning they didn't firm up too much.

Did that make a difference, ultimately? One lawyer told us that the double-dose, adding up to more than 400 barrels of fluid, skewed a critical pressure test. But really it's just one more piece of a complicated puzzle: Errors, short-cuts to save money, bad designs, anomalies, and, most of all, people asleep at the switch in crucial moments.

Because things usually work out just fine, right?

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 20, 2010; 12:51 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Will feds pull plug on BP gulf well?
Next: News from the gibberish beat


downtown baltimore to visit my sister in the hospital and it was 100 at 1:00 and yes my sister is doing much better......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I wonder -- is there some kind of institutionalized culture such that by unspoken understanding, all data related to the operations at a drill site really are kept local? The downside is that you never have the opportunity for an "old hand" to scrutinize the data stream and stop a train wreck before it happens. The upside is that liability and blame can, seemingly, be limited. Nobody has any of those records, nobody knew what was going on, don't blame us, man. So long as nothing goes wrong, the whole system is reified as, obviously, the best and most efficient possible way to do things. It also would appeal to the vanity of whoever is at the well site: "I'm so damn manly, I don't have time to waste on reporting to pencil-jockeys, and I know what I'm doing, anyway."

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 20, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

today's popsicle riddle

How does a dentist examine alligator's teeth?

very very carefully

Have a great day everyone!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Glad your sister's doing better, gwe!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A, do we know why two different recipes were used in the first place? If one made two separate batches of the same recipe and then combined them later, what would the result be?

GWE, I'm glad your sister's doing better. Sending a double batch of healing mojo her way.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The Hogtown guy may be a birder who wants to put the Oily Pelican on his life list.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good news about your sister.

My recipe for well drilling mud includes used 10W40 motor oil, orange juice that has been left in the glass too long, water collected from tire swings, and, of course, as much nuclear waste as WMI wants to pay me to dispose of, no questions asked.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -dbG- | July 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, dbG.

Posted by: slyness | July 20, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

gwe, glad your sister is doing well.

I agree with dbG, just disgusting to find out what went on and how cavalier everyone seemed to have been about messing around such a deep well. I hope in the end that someone (or many) get punished for this but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

MsJS, last summer was a no-show, a few good days in August but generally cold and wet. I have not met one person around here this year who is complaining of the heat because of last year's bummer summer.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Completely off topic, but given the heat in some areas, and the mess in the Gulf perhaps a nice refreshing drink is in order.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 20, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Bungee-jumping off topics is what boodling is all about, dmd.

Rhubarb tea is also excellent, nicely sour but not so tart like pink lemonade, even if you don't add in sweeteners.

We have home-frozen rhubarb, so we're good for a while yet.

Any tips for radish greens?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I got nuthin on topic. Except to urge you to see some John Wright Company (or Boots & Coots, now) people, Joel. Meet in a parking garage, in the shadows. Carry heat.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Glenn Beck is enjoying his speed prescription so much, he wants some Marinol to go with it.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

From the Boots & Coots website:

///our company specialists have a perfect record of safely capping and killing wells out of control.///

So why weren't these guys called in first? And I love their phone number: 1-800-BLOWOUT

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow, it's like deja vu all over again. I mean, how many times have we heard a postmortem of a disaster and encountered the same underlying elements. Same tune different key.

I am looking forward to when you put all this stuff together into the definitive analysis of the Demon Well from beginning to end.

But, in the meantime, I hope the Hogtown fellow and his traveling companion have a great time on the Oregon Trail.

You're in good company. This fellow was a hometown hero.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 20, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

You gotta admire a company where one of the code of conduct compliance officers is named "Jed":

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse


Anyone wish to tell me whether there will be a BPH on July 28th? And Yoki, if there is one, will you be here for it?

*persistent question now over until the next time*

Back to work. Thanks for your kind ('cuz it is, I know) attention.

Posted by: ftb3 | July 20, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I think they were called in pretty quickly, yellojkt. They likely pointed out they aren't rover experts, etc. And they have likely been consulted from the beginning, and listened to, to some extent anyway. I do like their website and how they share a lot of information.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

There is indeed a BPH on the 28th, ftb, even if it is just you and me.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Moving to Oregon was an obsession. It's amazing that so many did the trail trip, mostly successfully, though I suppose many were paupers by the time they arrived. If memory serves, the major cause of mortality was cholera, with accidental gunshots somewhere behind. Hostile local residents, 'way far behind.

The guys who moved wagonloads of little fruit trees across the continent apparently made out like bandits. I assume that seed wheat, turnip seeds, and such were also profitable enough to justify the expense and hazard.

While Wyoming offered a reasonable summer passageway, there were issues like availability of good water and forage.

Drilling, even on land, is an enormously complex engineering enterprise. It'll be interesting to see what experts make of the hearing.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

And me! On the 28th. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Remarking on the 2:42 and 2:46 by slyness and dbG -- it looks like the problem is that this sort of procedure is NOT criminal. Perhaps it should be criminal, but the presentation of the situation and the reaction to it suggests that it is not criminal in the sense of violating current statutes or regulations -- it seems to be merely "how we've always done it." Jumper, you know about this stuff -- is this really "how they've always done it?" Is there enough variability between companies that widely-differing levels of responsible behavior can be permitted and are legal at different companies?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 20, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Meeker married Eliza Jane. Ezekiel, Elspeth, Otis the surprise, along with Eli and Elvira, the twins, soon followed. (Okay, I made up the last part.)

I'll take two of those with the raspberries, dmd, and see you in the morning.
Good and bad to hear from Joel. Why are my teeth grinding? And isn't snotshot just a lot more pleasant to think of than junkshot?! Realize these are two separate procedures, but still, the vocabulary we've added during this mess is weird.

Manon, from the last kit, except for the dotted lines not dancing for me, we have very similar eyesight problems including night driving. The lighted magnifier that I use (table base with gooseneck arm) is a godsend for close work. I weave, crochet and knit still with regular glasses. Hang in there! Also, I think of your granddaughter often and send my best.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I believe I could make it to a BPH on the 28th. I shall add it to the ScienceCalendar!

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 20, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I was reading a book by Robert Bly and disliked how he translated Lorca's "Pequeno poema infinito" so I rewrote it from the Spanish (with the aid of a dictionary). There are some puns that can't be translated fully, only suggested. (I.e. c0cks; growing ears of grain, spies, cera=wax/cereal.)

Federico Garcia Lorca's "Pequeno poema infinito"

To mistake the road
Is to come to snow,
And coming to the snow
Is like grazing cemetery grass for twenty ages

To mistake the road
Is to come to woman,
Woman unafraid of light,
Woman killing two roosters in a second,
Light unafraid of roosters
And roosters ignorant of singing upon the snow.

But if the snow mistook the heart
The southern wind could arrive
And as the air has no heed of howls
We will have to again graze cemetery grass
I saw two doleful wheat ears made of wax
Burying a volcanic countryside
And saw two crazy boys shoving an assassin’s weeping pupils.

But two has never been a number
Because it is agony and its shadow
Because it is the guitar where love despairs
Because it is proof of another infinity not yours
And it is the walls of death
And the scourge of the new resurrection without end

The dead hate the number two
But the number two lulls women
And like a woman fears light
The light trembles before the roosters
And roosters only know how to fly across the snow
we will have to graze forever the cemetery grasses.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

SCC: cemetary grass for twenty centuries.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Of course, anybody wishing to stay on-kit is free to parody my translation in terms to this ongoing oil crisis.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a better question is: Did anything go right?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

SciTim! The elusive ScienceTim! That makes me very happy; I haven't seen you since the MBPH.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

SCC: buried in, not burying. That should be the reflexive form.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The day BP get something right will be the day donkeys could fly. Maybe not even then.

The people in city hall have gone mad. We received our recycling bin for compostable material today, the Bio-Bin a.k.a. Le Café chez Raccoon. Do you think the bears and coyotes will like them too?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't that flying donkey be called a Pegassus?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

talitha: Thank you for your continuing good wishes for my granddaughter.

I would love to do some knitting, but have too many pending projects to start something new. I do have a knitted bedspread that I made using my great grandmother's very fine gauge needles. She used them to knit stockings.

I have never done any weaving, but have done all sorts of needlework.

Posted by: Manon1 | July 20, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

We do not have bears around here, but in the two years we have been using similar bins have not had any animal problems, we have a metal bar that locks the lid down.

As an FYI, do not attempt to lift a full bag of the kitchen waste, in the compostable bags, any distance we learned the hard way.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 20, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

BPH on the 28th sounds like a fine idea. In what city?

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, read the article and saw the video. Pretty sick, too bad the laws are so soft against animal (or human) cruelty.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

SD, the list includes meat?!

That shouldn't be included in the compost, not because they can't be composted but precisely because rotting meat will attract wildlife (including rats) and also breed disease.

Not to mention it's a waste of protein...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

BPH location to be determined. What does everybody prefer? I'm staying in Rockville on the Red Line.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Not to defend BP, but they are an extremely profitable and powerful company and fulfill a huge demand for a product everyone knows is fraught with problems. There are many things that have to be done 'right' for that to happen.

I'd love to know when that EPA loophole was created and how often this sort of goo has ended up in the GoM because of it.

Posted by: MsJS | July 20, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I like someplace Red Line-accessible. :o)

Posted by: Moose13 | July 20, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

shriekingd, I notice that "desert and sweets" may be placed in the Bio-Bin, so sand with your leftover pie is okay. But no rhubarb leaves - oxalic and other acids, right? Loved the lists of dos and don'ts.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference between "Meat and poultry (including bones)" [this is compostable] and "Dead animals" [which are apparently not compostable]?

If I shave the dead animals of their "Hair" [which is also not compostable] do they become "Meat (including bones)" and therefore compostable?

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

BPH not in Canada, then? That's convenient.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 20, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

cool -- where in Rockville, Yoki?

I might be able to bring my guest, depending on where it's gonna be. His meeting is in Rosslyn, which means he can get off at Farragut Sq. on the blue or orange line and meet us at the Mc&S.
Might that work?

And then, Yoki, depending on timing issues, I could take you back up to Rockville, because it's on the way (well, not too far beyond where I live).

Posted by: ftb3 | July 20, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for M&S. And thank you, ftb. That would be lovely.

Posted by: Yoki | July 20, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The difference is in the increased risk of disease and also to the collectors' nerves, Bob-S.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Good idea Bob S. I'll skin and quarter the next BSD (Bad Squirrel Decision) and put it in the Bio-Bin. Some neighbour wait until the road pizzas are consumed by the crows but I just don't like the process.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

As long as you're doing the butchering, SD...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Damn it, Tim, I'm a mud logger, not a lawyer! Seriously, I guess the word "preponderance" would come into play. Any single foul up was arguably acceptable. But each new thing piled up until there was a basket full of go-to-hell and nothing on the other side of the scale but a species of incompetent managerial vacuous idiocy. There's a list I could compile, but I'm watching a movie at the moment. It's available. (the list, that is.)

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Laugh if you want but squirrel was often served at my greatgrand- and grandparents' tables. The stew in Wilbrod's link sounds exactly like the way my Ma White made hers. Want to hear about scrambled eggs and squirrel brains?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Sounds moist and nutty, Talitha. But I don't really want to.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

SD, you can put yard waste in the bio-bin? Has to be separate here, I complained at first but really like the concept now, we even had a special cupboard built into the island with enough room for a regular garbage can and a separate one for the green waste.

Wilbrod, the waste is sent to a commercial composting facility so no need to worry about varmints infesting the house, paper towels or newspaper at the bottom of the bin is a good idea as the compostable plastic bags are slightly porous.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Me, either. When my grandfather sat down with a plate of them one morning I ran out of the room. Nutty indeed!

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It will be our fourth garbage bin dmd. We have the huge blue bin for plastic-paper-container, the V-marked green bin for yard stuff, the black wheelie bin for regular garbage and now the brown Café du Raccoon.
Our Iranian neighbours still have only one non-raccoon proof bin though...must be nice.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, they do have some goo where a brain usually is, anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Weren't there two 'company men' on site, and wasn't one arguing with crew about cutting corners v. following procedures? Where's that guy now? In well-control school?

Posted by: LostInThought | July 20, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

We moved to a rural area when I was 13. My mom began teaching school and one of her student admirers brought her dressed squirrels he had shot himself. Being raised in the depression, she cooked 'em for us and they were quite palatable. No brains, however. No heads. I think that's what "dressed" means. At least in my book.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, you're right about squirrel being Depression-era food. My grandmother would cook (my memories are from the 50s-early 60s) anything my grandfather trapped or shot, except possum. Neither of them liked it but when he went coon hunting his dogs often treed a possum and he'd give it to someone who would (or needed it).

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

The more well-dressed, the more brainless.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I will add that my grandmother was also the nutritionist for our school district and managed the menus for schools and banquets, becoming a caterer in her later decades. She was a fabulous cook and could serve a lobster and ambrosia as easily as cornpone and squirrel. Dang, I miss that lady.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

for zombie fashion
plates full of brains are a must
have accessory

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 20, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, the story is told that my great-grandfather normally went down to the creek on Saturday night for his bath, year round, and on the way back shot a squirrel for his Sunday breakfast. I don't know if my great-grandmother was responsible for skinning the meat, but she did cook it.

My mother talked about eating squirrel during the Depression. It's readily available protein for those with the skill to catch/kill/skin. Me, I buy my protein in the market, some of it in pink styroform trays, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

Posted by: slyness | July 20, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I can think of a couple stops on the Red Line where Yoki might be staying, both of which are mere moments from the NukeCubicle... *L*

M&S on the 28th is fine with me! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Sometime in the past (far long before my previous tale) my family was inflected with squirrel kuru. Fortunately, a series of learned quacks cured the generations-long outbreak with old yarbal remedies from the hill country. Nowadays we test clean. But in those days, my ancestors were a curious lot indeed.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 20, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

They chattered a lot, eh?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Worst case scenario.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 20, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I was showing the funnytranslator site to mister this afternoon and used a quote from Helen Keller. Had to share this with you all -----

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart"

...30 translations later we get:

"Perhaps it is beautiful in the world, but they have never seen or heard mention of my mind"
++Original text:

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart"

...30 translations later we get:

"Perhaps it is beautiful in the world, but they have never seen or heard mention of my mind"
Original text:

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart"

...30 translations later we get:

"Perhaps it is beautiful in the world, but they have never seen or heard mention of my mind"

[ps, Jumper, I heard that!]

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Huh? Don't know what the heck happened there as I only cut/pasted once. I guess it bears repeating?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey yello... BP released another picture that shows what the command center really looks like...

Posted by: -TBG- | July 20, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Very funny, TBG. For some reason, I was expecting Homer Simpson.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought I was past needing dbG's flowchart but perhaps not.

Funny, TBG!

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, please check in and let us know you're safely home!

Posted by: slyness | July 20, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

If Tom Servo is running the ROVs, we are all in a lot of trouble. Wait. We are in a lot of trouble. QED.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Hope Cassandra's ok.

Seattle started allowing food waste (including meat and bones) in the yard waste a couple years ago. We have raccoons and other varmints (no bears!) and they haven't bothered the bin yet. I suppose the raccoons prefer the cat food we leave on the deck for the stray kitty. Interesting that you can't put rhubarb leaves in - wonder why?

Posted by: seasea1 | July 20, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Misinformation, most likely.

What the compost is to be used for is the bigger question.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 20, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Trees at the botanical garden in Richmond are not enjoying the weather.

The Wake County education situation doesn't look good.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 20, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

We've been composting rhubarb for years. Our civic leaders are officially recognized idiots. They haven't successfully completed a project in years. They stumble of obvious obstacles. Do not believe anything they say, they are morons. But somehow, the 'regular' folks like them and they keep being re-elected.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 20, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Tony Hayward is reported to be stepping down as head of BP within 10 weeks. Earlier, a $7 billion sale of assets was reported. Things are moving fast.

Then there's the Lockerbie mess.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 20, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I've got pictures of Dresden

and Prague online.

To really appreciate the Alfonse Mucha stained glass window, you have to view the original file size (big download)

Posted by: yellojkt | July 20, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Presidential reunion to lobby for consumer protection...

Posted by: -TBG- | July 20, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I love that there's a! Did we know about that before? It says it's been around since 1994!

Yes, looks like misinformation about rhubarb's compostability...ness...whatever.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 20, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Yello, I enjoyed ALL of your photos. Dresden and Prague through your eyes are extraordinarily beautiful. But that full size of the Mucha stained glass. Wow. The central figures in pale aqua and the trees at the top are in classic Mucha style, but I've never seen any reproductions of his ecclesiastical work.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

TBG, what a hoot. And was that Ron Howard I saw directing on the behind the scenes vid? Too bad Obama couldn't play himself.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 20, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Yello, you missed the chance to be crowned! (IMG_2686 Dresden). And I wish the 'tobacco mosque' had been on your tour; you'd have enjoyed a beer in the rooftop restaurant.
Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 21, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

We kinda drove past the mosque-looking tobacco factory but not close enough for a good picture. If I had known they had a restaurant with a view, I would have loved a beer there.

We also drove past the VW palnt but didn't stop for a tour. Dresden was just a three hour stop between Berlin and Prague and deserves longer.

Dresdeners are all upset that by building a much needed bridge at the edge of town they have been kicked off the UN World Heritage Site list. There must be more to the story, but that is a travesty.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Well, the trip was good. A lot of people, and fired up speakers, but basically peaceful. When I say good, I mean I didn't fall out in all that heat. The g-girl marched along with countless young people, and they were on their best behavior. Later on the news, the President of the NAACP in Raleigh was sent to jail for attending the school board meeting. The board had filed a restraining order to keep him off the property. He did not go to jail alone, he had company.

As for the BP mess, my nephew thinks BP did all this just to embarrass the President. I agree with the kit, bad decisions, trying to do it cheap, and no one paying attention. That's pretty much the case when we have these types of accidents. Getting treasures out of the earth always comes at a high price, and it's usually human life, the most expensive.

And the USDA worker in the news has shedded light on what we all know and understand, but was afraid to say out loud. She said it out loud, yet in her job, this is a no, no. I just hope before I leave this earth that Black folks and White people can have a serious discussion about race, without the hoopla, you know like intelligent people, laying all the cards on the table, and keeping the good stuff and throwing away the bad stuff. You know, kinda like adults, you think?

Have a fantastic day, folks. I'm back to the Center this morning. Wonder if they missed me? I doubt it. I'm the one with the books. Who wants to read, we want to play. Bless their little hearts. I know, I know. We'll read a little bit, and play a lot.

Love to all.

Slyness, it looks like the school board there in your fair city is talking the same language as that one in Wake. I'm praying. Hope you are well. The heat has returned with a vengence.

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 21, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Ham biscuits, a mixed fruit bowl, and various hot and cold beverages on the ready room table. Help yourselves!

Cassandra, the school board here went down that road several years ago, because of a suit that forced them to drop busing for desegregation. In their defense, they fought hard to keep the plan, but the federal judge said no.

I understand one of the people arrested yesterday in Raleigh is the pastor of a church who used to be our youth minister. Good for her!

Onward into the day. I hope everyone has a good one! Even the poor folks at BP.

Posted by: slyness | July 21, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

This catastrophe is not over -the St. Pete Times reports that scientists have measured methane at 100 times the normal rate in Gulf water around the Deepwater site. Why are all these witnesses being allowed to avoid the hearings? Does pleading the fifth mean you can never be prosecuted? If I kill someone can I plead the fifth and avoid jail or even having to talk about it? If not, why are all these BP and Transocean bigshots being allowed a free pass? And why are the Dept of the Interior and MMS people not being named and hauled before a court? Publicly.

Posted by: skylark1 | July 21, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

So Alton butters his batter instead?

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 20, 2010 11:00 AM

Loved it.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Always happy to contribute, weed. :-)

It's really rather depressing when one notes, shortly after waking up, that the nighttime low of 73 is very nearly matched by the dew point. Yet the lawn is quite brown. Oh well, at least that means no mowing is called for.

*not-feeling-much-at-all-like-a-Hump-Day-but-let's-see-what-the-day-brings Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Snuke, is it a specific shade of brown or all-tone brown?

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone.

Cassandra, I had to smile at your nephew's theory. I had never really considered the "BP as a Suicide Bomber" angle.

Scottynuke - I was thinking the same thing as I walked to the car. Heat. Heat. And more Heat. Soon we shall be crazed by this Heat.

I mean, more than normal.

But your lawn is still brown? All the rain we have been having is making my lawn lush and green. Mostly weeds, of course, but really healthy weeds.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 21, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

YOU'VE had rain, RD_P... the clouds seem to skirt the NukeAbode with grim regularity these days. We've had a brief shower or two, but it's had next to no effect.

Weed, it's approaching Sahara brown in some spots. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Smartest concentration of people in the World, eh? There must be a direct association with why we can't get anything done.

Posted by: teddymzuri | July 21, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Our yard is a nice shade of burnt umber.

Good morning, y'all. Glad to see that Cassandra is home safe . . . I'll be following that story from now on.

Grey, muggy Wednesday here in the valley, perfect for curling up with a good book. Alas, cleaning out the pantry and cupboards is on the agenda. Cee-ya.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Being that I spend significant time outside on weekends--standing, mostly on concrete, I take the time (as if it makes a difference) to watch the 10-day and know what the region's monthly averages are. We are lucky to have an occasional day where the high equals the daily average. The vast majority of the days have us pegged at between 3 and 10 degrees above average. The real criminal thing is that our daily lows are way over average lows for the month.

There is new meaning to the line "hot time in the old town tonight." Saturday is shaping up to be 98. Oh, boy. Sunday is possibly going to be about 91. I'll take that. A great group with whom to talk food, as well.

Remind me to tell you the "organic" story.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"A huge ball of brightly burning gas drifting through a neighboring galaxy may be the heaviest star ever discovered - hundreds of times more massive than the sun, scientists said Wednesday after working out its weight for the first time."


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

DAGNABIT... I keep forgetting to use square brackets!!!

Please SCC to show this after the article quote:

[insert rabid pundit joke here]


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Low was 80, dewpoint 76. 50% chance of rain on Friday. The jaboticaba tree I planted in spring is looking unhappy, even with daily water (they're fussy until established).

The local independent bookstore is taking orders for signed copies of "Star Girl," Carl Hiassen's latest. He won't get around to doing an appearance until mid-August.

Beall's, a Florida clothes store, is selling Guy Harvey "Save our Gulf" tee shirts. Harvey's fish shirts are wildly popular. He also illustrated Julian Pepperell's
"Fishes of the Open Ocean: A Natural History and Illustrated Guide"

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 21, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed your quote for the first line or so and was wondering if it was writing on a chalkboard. Things like Nazi or Socialist and drawing arrows and that sort of thing.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

teddymzuri's comments I assume refer to a recent story about the D.C. area and the high level of education of its residents. They reflect two common misconceptions-

1) Education equates with intelligence. This is so demonstrably false that I need not bother to refudiate it.

2) Government policy is made by Washington area residents. In fact, teddy, policy is enacted by the elected representatives who come from and are elected by the rest of the country. Although all of the members of the U.S. Senate have attended college, not all have four year degrees, and although more than 60% have graduate degrees (mostly law school, a few M.D.s) there are no PhD's at all. So, I would say that if you are not happy with the government, elect better folks to office, more honest people, fewer millionaires and more truly smart people.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Re: my earlier comment ---

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone,
If I say I've been backboodling does that mean I've been catching up? And if it does, what are the origins of boodle?
The continuing revelations about BP's activities only underscore Upton Sinclair's observation, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Posted by: balancingact | July 21, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

*clap! clap! clap!*

(For kguy's 9:43 am)

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

One could argue that smarter (and/or more honest) people know better than to run for public office. And we've hashed over before that our two most technically trained presidents were Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

balancingact, "to backboodle" does indeed mean catching up on what you've missed.

Joel's contributions are the Kits, and our ramblings are the Boodle, a shortening of kaboodle from the saying "kit & kaboodle."


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. I'm point my fans southeast to blow you some of our cool dry air.

Joel, I do hope you are considering an exposition and meditation, later on, on the origins, result and meaning of the BP disaster, preferably in the form of a book. Definitely Pulitzer material. I nearly typed 'medication' which may also be appropriate.

Welcome, balancingact. Yes, you've been backboodling! Me too. Origin of Boodle (and Kit) is a corruption of 'the whole kit and kaboodle.' Joel's blog post is the Kit, we're the Boodle.

Weed, if you could ensure a continuation of that slight cooling trend until I get there, I'd appreciate it. I'm just not acclimatized to your summer weather.

Off to do some heavy cleaning before it warms up this afternoon.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

kguy! sort of an aside to your point. I rarely park at the TV and flip through channels, but yesterday, I had a couple of minutes to kill and needed to relax before work and did just that. Of course, I passed through CSPAN2 and caught a glimpse of Bernie Sanders taking a sip of water at the lectern and stayed to watch what he was to say.

He basically nailed the absurd position of his Republican friends who have a budget deficit problem with the unemployment relief, but no problem with their position for killing what they call the "death tax."

Sanders pointed out that the cost to the deficit for the bill in question would just about equal the giveback to the Walton family (that being one family in America--just one, were the Bush tax breaks were to continue).

Just absurd. That's survival for 2 million American families versus the vast accumulation of astronomical amounts of wealth by one. That's the Republican position. It's a simple concept, but understood by few Americans that it is a distinct possibility that the Republicans will get their way.

I know dozens of local business people who would greatly benefit from a loan of between 10 to 20K just to address operating expenses that confound their business practices. There are no operating loans to be had that help ensure that their employees are working. And, yet, we have a party that feel that it is a crisis if the Waltons are left with only 60 to 70 Billion dollars after the death tax.

This some is as close to unproductive as it can get.

As usual, Bernie cut to the chase.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Standard link for newcomers to the glossary:

Most boodle lingo is standard internet chat fare renamed since boodlers were unaware of the prior art when evolving parallelly.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The compound irony of that is that the Walton family fortune derives from Walmart, who touted their "Buy American" policy in the 80's and then became China's single largest customer in more recent times and whose primary target demographic is the very group who are hurting most in the current economy.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, the fact that one day is cooler than the preceding day does not lead us to a "trend." HA HA HA!!! As of today, the day(s) of your visit should be OK. Only a degree or two over the average. Temperate.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

What can I say? I'm an inveterate optimist.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Hi balancingact!

When Joel started this blog back in 2005 and quickly realized that our comments weren't going to stop, he said that what he writes is the Kit and what we write is the Kaboodle, which I believe was shortened to Boodle that same day.

That's why you'll see "New Kit!" when Joel has written another... hey... what is it really called? A new... Kit.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Shall we start the Inveterate Optimist Club, Yoki? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The better Pooh-ian exclamation would have been "Oh bother!"

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Ooh ooh may I join the Invertebrate Optimist Club too?
I'll bring a poster...

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 21, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Why be nervous about approaching the bear? He's certainly not going to bite you.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Pretty soon it won't be a club, it'll be a movement.

I love "Oh bother!," yello. Thanks.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

From our Impenetrable Jargon Department-

"Dravid's patience might well have deserved a fifty, but the partnership came to an end when he was caught at leg gully attempting to flick Malinga.
And just 11 deliveries later, Malinga struck again, this time with the prized scalp of Tendulkar, trapped lbw by a wicked yorker just short of his 48th Test century.
Yuvraj became Muralitharan's fifth victim of the day, caught at slip, leaving India with a veritable mountain to climb."

Raise your hand if you know wth this is about. Anyone?

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

That's cricket!

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey... has anyone seen Shrink? We haven't heard from him in a couple of days, have we?

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Everyone, thanks very much for the vocabulary lesson and the link...I thought backboodling was probably legal, but it's good to confirm. :)
Not that I'm backboodling at work or anything.

Posted by: balancingact | July 21, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely cricket, kguy...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Not only cricket, but Test Match cricket, the very best kind.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

kguy, here is a recording of Sanders questioning in a very nice way, Nussle in an approval hearing about 3 years ago--prior to the collapse.

As they say, "these were the facts, Jack."

Yes, the AFL-CIO has some interesting info on the web about what Walmart did to manufacturing in the state of Ohio, alone.

I think by the beginning of the last year, Walmart had exceeded the 70 percent point for imports from China. That doesn't mean that the other 30 percent are from the USA.

The joke is that if you take 30 Billion from the Waltons, you still leave them with 70 Billion. As they say, "it isn't the end of the world." However, if you lose your job and your house, it very well may be facing a very difficult hole in your life from which you may never get out.

If we have a system where it favors those with large financial war chests to become extremely wealthy, we can't forget the people from whom they garner their wealth. If the government does one thing, that should be it. Unfortunately, unless the people realize this, we will continue to send politicians to the Capitol who are beholding to the wealthiest amongst us.

Almost all of the ex-Bush one and Bush two political consultants who are gearing up for the November election are funded primarily straight out of the pockets of the wealthiest 10 or 20 Americans. All you have to do is follow the money. The Koch family is heavily financing the efforts and an argument can be made that their money, as a family, exceeds the Waltons.

The Kochs basically financed the Tea Party. They have radicalized, obfuscated and basically "cornfused" the movement. Their goal is to create a window of legislative opportunities for their wealthy purposes.

"Don't mind the man behind the curtain."

Guys like Luntz are busy fine tuning the hot button lists and workmen like Dick Armey, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are hard at work pushing away at those buttons.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

!@!&!@! Malinga!

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 21, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Unfamiliarity with horses:

"This in turn generated real estate bubbles in countries like Spain, Greece, and Ireland. Instead of the convergence prescribed by the Maastricht Treaty, these countries grew faster and developed trade deficits within the eurozone, while Germany reigned in its labor costs, became more competitive, and developed a chronic trade surplus." (George Soros, "The Crisis & the Euro," New York Review of Books)

How do you reign something in? By having Buckingham Palace issue a ceremonial rebuke?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 21, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Is dis da site for tha' Third Match against da West Indies, mon? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

You reign something in by having the Queen of Alaska refudiate it.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Righty-ho chaps! Cricket it is. That is excerpted from this article by the BBC online-

and I realized as I skimmed through it (gotta keep up with the rest of the world) that if it did not say "Sport Cricket" on the header that I would have had no earthly idea what the topic under discussion was. So congrats to those in the know about gullys and being caught in the slip and I assume the "Wicked Yorker" is available as a Boodle handle?

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

TBG!!! It's time for a good yogurt sauce and a grill out. I was thinking about your recipe last night.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I see it all now. Let the crazy woman boodle for three months, commit numerous acts of doh and dork, and THEN post a link to the Achendictionary. A cruel act of tough love and initiation for which she is eternally grateful. *grinning through my bitter tears*

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

and, TBG, why the heck you you think that it's called Twitter. The QofA is the poster child.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Good question, TBG. I sent him email yesterday, but no answer yet.

Shall we put up flyers on the telephone poles? A reward?

Posted by: -dbG- | July 21, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Syria has forbidden the country's students and teachers from wearing the niqab, which (as is usual in these cases) has caused some consternation among the folks who feel that the modesty of niqab-wearers will be compromised.

But it seems self-evident to me that only women of low moral character would leave their homes to consort with men who are not their relatives. Shouldn't these women be taking their classes at sex-segregated schools, or on-line from the privacy of their homes? If they're going to mix and mingle with strange men anyway, shouldn't they just go ahead and embrace their strumpetry and flaunt themselves shamelessly?

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Bob ... I think that you nailed it!

I was riding the Metro last weekend and saw an Ad that claimed that 70% of the online student body at The University of Phoenix were Syrian women. I didn't follow until I saw your post.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

No problemo, Bob. Got your khulwa solver right here-

"In a surprising development, two senior Saudi clerics today said that Saudi Arabia’s women should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to safeguard the Islamic law that forbids mixing between the sexes. The clerics, however, failed to reach an agreement among each other on how the milk should be conveyed."

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I seem to recall we discussed the AP/Intl. Bacc'l choice a while ago. Seems there's always a really whacked-out take on anything -- an anti-IB Web site that's right off the rails. *shaking my head*

Can't be sure the link will post properly, but:

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Does the milk have to be fresh? If eating cheese made from the breast milk would suffice, then women could just carry a cheese plate around with them.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Anybody else having trouble with the Live Q&As? I can see the pre-posted introductions, but none of the actual discussion. And sometimes not even that.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Tarp surfing (as in blue tarp for hurricane-damaged roof). Verbal reference to "Nelscott Tarp" is to a reef off Lincoln City, Oregon that makes for huge rideable waves.!

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 21, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Oops. They've now put up a notice about technical difficulties.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Yoki. Also reports from another discussion group this morning about odd blocks on wapo sites, perhaps viral.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

That's most excellent, Dave!

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

You will simply not believe this news article, but it appears to be for real:

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Now this is what every comment box should have,

Posted by: dmd3 | July 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Bears in jars, whales in boats, what is the world coming to?

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jumper1 | July 21, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, sorry to hear about the school troubles, but very happy to know people are out there fighting for the right thing.

I agree with you about the USDA worker, that was a really honest speech she made. Too bad that we live in a world where honesty gets you denounced as an bad person. Especially racial honesty.

Shrink, hope your silence is merely pathognomonic of an identity change, not a permanent departure. Same goes to you MsJs.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 21, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

And then there's this, and I don't blame the poor thing.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the flying donkey yoki.

To complement dmd's link, Jeffrey Rosen has a thought-provoking piece on personal information posted on the web. Should it stay on the web forever or corrode away so that over-the-top comments or drunken pictures from 30 years earlier do not crop up in election campaigns?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 21, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

That's a fine idea, dmd. I'd suggest bundling Tonecheck with something called Codebreaker with would seek out phrases like "death tax" "Second Amendment remedies" "moonbat" and "cram it down our throats" and autodelete.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, is NukeSpawn taking AP or IB courses? Geekdottir went to an IB magnet in middle school but refused to take IB in high school. She maintains that IB courses require too much make-work. Of course, she graduated from the NC School of Science and Math and got a 5 on her AP Calculus exam. So I'm inclined to say she knows about which she speaks.

My once-a-year indulgence for lunch: tuna salad with fresh garden tomatoes on whole wheat bread. Yummy. I don't eat many sandwiches but that was gooood.

Posted by: slyness | July 21, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

NukeSpawn hasn't quite gotten to that point yet, slyness, and I'll have to check on what her school offers. Given the arc of her class selections to this point, I'd think she's interested in at least a couple advanced courses. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I've no doubt that historians would love to know what sorts of shenanigans the sixteen-year-old John Adams got into at Harvard College.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else surprised Blajo's keeping his big yap shut when it counts?

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of young people's shenanigans, I was amused by Ruth Marcus' piece apologizing for her earlier assertions that Sarah Palin wasn't properly looking after Bristol's well-being.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Today would have been Ernest Hemingway's 111th birthday. And just what does a heming weigh anyway?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I used to be anti-IB until I realized that the kids taking IB classes are learning how to do stuff they'll do in college. The AP classes, not so much. Kids who take a lot of the IB classes say college is a breeze after that. THere is a lot of writing in IB that isn't required in any other courses.

They offer the IB diploma at Daughter's high school, but anyone may take the classes without having to also fulfill requirements for the IB diploma. So they have phased out a lot of the AP classes.

It all boils down to the individual teachers, though, doesn't it?

I do know one thing: There is not one younger sibling of any IB diploma grad I know who also is going for the whole shebang. It takes too much out of the kid and the family. And they've found it doesn't make much different in college acceptance or course placement.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Today is one of the scheduled-into-eternity Microsoft security patching days. I've been sitting here, working on server after server, dancing in my seat to a new playlist.

At 1, I have to show someone new a different procedure for clustered servers. Have to remove my earphones and share my monitor.

Life is difficult.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 21, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It also boils down to the individual student. Duh.

Although "boils down" is a bad phrase in this heat.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Eggsactly, TBG...about the individual teacher, the individual student, and the younger siblings of IB grads.

Geekdottir also says her two years at NCSSM were much tougher than her four years at UNC-CH. I tell her NCSSM spoiled her for life, she will never again be in a community of peers like that one.

Posted by: slyness | July 21, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Joel's not on the list of people currently writing books about the Macnjac oil spill:

But he should be.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

To judge from comments at Jay Matthews' education corner, IB is an internationalist scheme to destroy the US. Kind of raucous over there.

I once read one of Matthews' admissions columns and modestly suggested that super-elite undergraduate programs might introduce early-rejection options, to let the kids know their applications are more or less DOA. Don't some professional schools have screening procedures like that?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 21, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., imagine digging into the Soverein (why not?) of Alaska's FB account she would have maintained between the age of 12 to 20? I bet she would have to refudiate aplenty.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 21, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If AP vs IB is the biggest concern in your life, you really have a lot to be thankful for.

Now I am having another flashback to drinking with English teachers WHO are very proud that their former AP students come back complaining that the AP class was harder than their college classes.

They also hate Jay Mathews with a burning hot white fury because his silly index goads administrators into dumping kids into AP classes WHO aren't prepared for the material.

I gotta quit going on vacation with English teachers.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

In other Arts news from NYT:

New Carl Hiaasen out next Tuesday!

Jose Carreras is going to sing at La Scala again -- the man is 63 years old! Don't know how much voice can be left. Maybe it is a charity event.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

From the NYTimes article about books on the oil spill ---

Considering that the story of the spill is far from over, Mr. Flamini is still trying to decide how the book should end and when it should be published. “At one point, you just have to say, O.K., this is the end of the story,” he said. “And you try to make an intelligent guess on how to end the book.”

In the year 2525 . . . ?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm. Yoki, you know I've heard him sing both before and after his treatment for leukemia (which a dear friend of mine in Sweden has, alas). While Carreras is certainly still alive, and capable of singing, in my mind his singing has diminished in power and in tone since his treatment. He's not the same, but at his current age (ever young in *my* book) his voice wouldn't be as good as it was when he was, say, in his 20s. What amuses me about him is that when he reaches for the high notes, he hoists himself on his toes (he's a bit of a shorty anyway). He used to be quite good.

Can hardly wait to see you next week!

Posted by: ftb3 | July 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Stole a few moments from the workday frenzy to check out A-blog. "I hope it's not about the damn oil spill," I thought.

Yes, I am an irresponsible cretin.

Enjoyed the Boodle, as always. Tom Servo! Refudiate! Y'all should be getting paid for this stuff!

Posted by: KBoom | July 21, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The Boy's school has an IB track as well as the visual and performing arts track. Middle schoolers may take either pre-IB, advanced or regular VPA courses. There are AP courses for non-IB kids. Starting about tenth grade the sheep are separated from the goats as only IB kids may take IB, and they are stuck with IB courses. I'm not sure who are the sheep and who are the goats there. It is not uncommon to see IB seniors roaming the halls in tears.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 21, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Me, too, ftb (saw him before and after); it seemed to me that afterwards he lost that full range and sweetness of a true lyric tenor and was a bit strained.

I find all those physical things that musicians do to get the music out both necessary and endearing (though Himself and I saw a violin giant many years ago soloing with the MSO who was embarrassing; I wanted him and his instrument to go get a room).

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

yello is right... much like dbG's seat-dancing, the IB/AP argument is a wonderful one to be able to have and I'm thankful.

Ivansmom, it's a shame they keep the non-IB kids out of the IB classes because there are some cool ones. IB World Religions and Theory of Knowledge are very cool classes from what I've heard.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 21, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

If everyone is using the word refudiate without quotation marks and with even a warped sense of it's meaning in a sentence, has coinage occured?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, it's common for leukemia and other cancer patients to lose their voice strength. If he's well miked and doesn't sing too loud, hopefully his voice will carry through well.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 21, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

English teachers rawk!

Now here's a little something to wake everybody up from the dread midafternoon stupor:

(It was a link in the Reliable Sources chat.)

Posted by: slyness | July 21, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

So much for overconfidence.

The 1 PM? Server failed. Cluster failed. Database failed. My heart, well, you know. The new dba immediately moved over and gave me back my mouse, saying, "I think I hear my mother calling me."

But after a few minutes I got my breath back and made stuff up until it was fixed.

And a good thing too. If I hadn't, almost 500 patients would have had take out Chinese for dinner tonight.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 21, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

As some one who "receives" young people, many from IB and AP programs, I have a few comments. ( Also, parent to three people who have moderate AP experience.) Moderate as in, I did not push them. I think a few classes are fine. Many? Not so much as many AP classes beginning sophomore year can yield the stressed out factor that IB programs sometimes are plagued by. 15 and 16 is a very young age to take on high stressometer readings.

Caveats; I LOVE KNOWLEDGE and RIGOR. I love when my students are prepared. However, the best way to prepare for school and life is to read widely in fiction and non fiction and news arenas. To the degree that any high school/junior college program does this,. HUZZAH! AP and IB can do this.

Re writing, the IB students come to me with a great heft of writing across a range of genres. AP students, particularly the lit and lang students are familiar and often masters of the "personal, thoughtful response to a literature passage" prompt. Good. But, not helpful for citation-based works in college or that preview professional life (problem/solution memo, technical report, white paper, proposal, etc.)

Now, on to something that Slyness and Yellowjacket touch upon. Please do not take offense to my momentary focus on education policy and student populations. AP experience improves the performance in high school and later for nearly ALL students who attempt such a class.

Like Jay M., I advocate for access to these classes. I admit that we have some quality teacher problems in high school and lower. This is NOT NEW. However, when a curriculum and exam are based on national standards, the bar is raised in such a way to be vetted by authorities outside of the classroom, school, and system. This is GOOD!

And, I adore -- chose the word carefully, because it concerns love -- any effort to support students to step it up. All students. But, realistically, I care about programs that make a difference for "
meh" students.

As for the well prepared and brilliant students -- needs surely. However, public school is about the broader population of students as it needs to be. Often, these bright students can be supported in adjuvant ways to be stimulated and supported.


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 21, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Or just a dialectal shift in fronucation, Talitha.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 21, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Franks, Wilbrod.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I apologize to anyone who is stung by my remarks. Perhaps this is all better said in person.... but I continue:

systems of public education must respond to the grand middle and the weakest

I support that. I also think that the jist of successful education happens best when the miracle of self-directed learning occurs for any student. I see it happen (and not) in many ways:

crappy public schools (I went to one)
regular public schools
elite schools/programs
home schooling
early entrance to community college
late entrance to com college....

Last comment; I work with brilliant technical people all the live-long day. Some of them need a moral compass/humane heart transplant. And no, they are not Aspy types. The have been told since day one that brilliance is enough and special. These people, if not experiencing other kinds of feedback, are ultimately very limited people. (NOT ALL PEOPLE, thusly described)

One of the risks of elite ed environments is that smarty pants people can become very mixed up about the range of experiences, skills, and character traits needed at work and in communities.

Smartness! Great! But like beauty, some of this a role of the dice.

What about the things we can and should focus on for all people (school and community): hard work, perseverance, kindness, loyalty, truthfulness....

And, yes, these things do not always happen in school or in home.

But I hope you see my points:

access and transformation by rigor in public schools (GOOD!)
limits to smartness (and beauty) that are luck cards (fixed traits)
what we can and all should strive for (non fixed traits that require recognition and practice)


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 21, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

As a former "meh" student, and mom of "meh" students - love you CP!!

Posted by: dmd3 | July 21, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Yep, I think "refudiate" may well be with us at least as legitimately as "truthiness".

Posted by: bobsewell | July 21, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Downtown Miami will soon have two LED advertising towers rising above a tall downtown parking deck. Their tops will be about 50 stories up. Condos a half-mile away will have that cheap neon film-noir feel. Or maybe Blade Runner L.A.

This leads me to think Washington's historic ban on tall structures needs reconsideration. The D.C. government could make good money by renting space for such towers at major traffic circles and squares.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Excellent rant, CqP, thank you!

Brilliant technical people...that was my ex, in spades. Highest IQ of any human being I have ever known, and a looow EQ.

An ex-English teacher of whom I am very fond was dismayed and disgusted by the work of a principal to rid his high school of non-high achievers. The school is in an affluent area and has high scores, but those who were sent elsewhere and those who remain are poorer for the change.

Posted by: slyness | July 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

DMD -- MEH means merely emerging and hibernating -- until some bell of joy or competency goes off.

And, if we are truthful, so much of school is soul-sucking! And, some of the best people I know endured this or hated this or rejected this.......

Let's be meh!

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | July 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, with all due respect, you are talking through your hat. Amplified volume can in no way compensate for impaired range, timbre, weight, resonance or colour, whatever the cause of that impairment.

Carreras is and always has been a superb artist; my simply noting a difference in voice quality over time is legitimate commentary.

Posted by: Yoki | July 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

CqP, wonderful all the way! This specifically touched me because for me (and for my son in his time) it was the key -
" the jist of successful education happens best when the miracle of self-directed learning occurs for any student."

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Lovely rant, CqP. Very nice.

Yoki has it: when a singer loses ability, volume is the least of it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 21, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

//Brilliant technical people...that was my ex, in spades. Highest IQ of any human being I have ever known, and a looow EQ.//

aka "low emotional bandwidth."

Posted by: -dbG- | July 21, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

At several levels of abstraction from personal experience, I recall a radio interview I once heard with George Clooney in which he was asked about the effects of aging on his career as an actor. He recounted a conversation he had with his aunt, Rosemary Clooney, about her career as a singer in later life. Her view was that she had a much better voice when she was young, but she had never been a better singer than she was at the time, because she had so much more ability to express what the song meant, rather than merely to make the notes right.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 21, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, my dad has had to whisper due to leukemia and got some of it back. That was the source of my comment.
I'm sorry to hear that voice quality can remain so profoundly affected even when the voice strength improves again.

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

DotC, those signs are frightening. Didn't DC try that at just above sidewalk level a few years ago and people were bumping into one another crossing Logan Circle or somewhere nearby?

Posted by: talitha1 | July 21, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Very cogent rant, CqP. We need to give ALL students access to quality education, which is why the backsliding going on in places like where Cassandra lives is very tragic.

I live in HoCo MD which has the Lake Wobegon of educational systems. About half of our county schools show up in Mathews annual AP test-based top 1% schools list every year. I find that very statistically suspicious.

This puts a lot of peer pressure on the lower end (lower being a very relative term) schools like my son's (which is also the one these teachers taught at) to expand the enrollment of students in AP classes beyond the pool of students capable of that level of work, which is presumably college level.

One point you make which is very valid is that quality education does trickle down through the system. Teachers hate to write too many syllabi. My son took Honors (as opposed to GT) English and when he had a teacher WHO also taught GT the course was much tougher. When he had a teacher WHO also taught Regular and Basic classes, his class was much easier.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

A crab saunters by allegedly at the the Macondo BP site.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 21, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

CP, eldest is learning some of life's most important lessons this summer, she is attending summer school, taking a cross over course to upgrade the level of math (from college to university stream). The class is a mixture of those who failed the couse she took (applied) and those who like her are upgrading. If you would like to focus a good student - send them to summer school, her comments about fellow classmates are interesting and sometimes amusing.

yellow's last post has me completely confused, I understand IB classes, we have them here, have heard of your AP classes, but Honours, GT, Regular and Basic - 6 levels of courses?

Posted by: dmd3 | July 21, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

CqP, bravo! Intelligence to me is a lot more than just AP classes or whatever. Slyness is right, brilliance is all well and good, but if your ability to interact with *all* people is not so bright, then I'll take a less smart person every time.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 21, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Your caps lock is suffering intermittent sticking, yello... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 21, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 21, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I notice that there is anew title at the top of the list of Recent Posts. That must mean that there's a new Kit!

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 21, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Time goes by, reputation increases, ability declines."

~ Dag Hammarskjold.

I wobble back and forth regarding this sentiment. There is certainly some truth to it, but then I remember a concert in Dallas back in the late 60's. Chuck Berry was the opening act for the Rolling Stones and the Stones were late, way late. Their plane was delayed or Keith's drugs were too weak or some such. Anyway Chuck started his set on time, red guitar,duck walk, lime green jacket and yellow pants and all, and sang his whole catalog for a couple of hours and when the Stones finally, finally showed, the crowd yelled for another encore from Chuck. The guy's biggest hits were all 10 years old, but he worked hard to entertain people and the audience loved him for it.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 21, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I agree with you in many ways.

I do not however think that elite programs necessarily breed that low EQ attitude. On the positive side, they can actually breed humility and a sense of peerage they may not have been able to get elsewhere.

Many gifted students are often pressured to act beyond their actual emotional maturity level or find themselves at a loss to deal with more mature classmates' social dynamics.

However, sometimes to be moved to an elite program is to be socially isolated from non-elite students all day. This increases the risk of bullying and "in-group" behavior pressure.

This, to me, is an argument against isolating students into very small "elite" programs... but not against larger "elite" programs that includes a good percentage (or all) of the school body.

Or,a more healthy mixture such as encouraging a high percentage of all students take one or two AP and IB classes according to their strengths, but not permitting a full elite mentality to isolate the advanced students from the on-schedule bloomers.

In short, I feel that labelling and academically tracking students by ability or disability (often self-fulfilling prophecies) are a worse sin than offering extra academic preparation to those who need and want them.

I always wondered why I never had the chance to apply to Thomas Jefferson high school of science and technology. Was it because I was deaf? Was it because of grades? I had no clue.

But I could sign up for GT and AP science classes and excel in them, no problem. I could compete on Math and English teams, without being "tracked" into an high-performer academic track. And as it turned out, I really didn't miss out on the academic challenge anyway, nor being around smart students.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 21, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Confessions of a copy editor:

Posted by: yellojkt | July 21, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Decipher this jargon:

Depress 2 4 16 18
Throw shift
Sleigh back tie
Place marker for off end

Up press 4 5 9 7
Shift throw back
Catch mark adjust

Shift 1 12
Double paddle mark blossom
Shift 2 11
Mark blossom

All jobs got swing when teams work together. Until they come under scrutiny for holes in the job nobody questions the lingo.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 22, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

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