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Microreview: Jonathan Franzen's 'Freedom'

Can you review a book when you're only on page 57? You can if you're a blogger!

Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" is his latest microscopic look at the lives of educated, disappointed, sexually rambunctious, wine-drinking Americans. My initial take is that it's not quite as much fun as "The Corrections," which I just re-read, though I may be suffering the influence of Ron Charles's excellent review. This one is just a bit more of a downer, because the characters aren't as likeable. "The Corrections" had more laughs. The Atlantic HATED "Freedom."

But I'll definitely read all 562 pages (only 505 to go!), because Franzen is still one of the premier literary novelists, taking a big whack at the world. So many of the giants are dead. I guess I believe in supporting the people still in the game and still trying to write ambitious literature. Franzen's social realism can seem at times a bit like miniaturism, but I think he's pretty much mastered (as any great novelist must) the art (craft?) of inhabitating the brains of his characters. We come to know what it's like to be this person, at this moment, in this community, in this social class, with this level of education, etc. The Atlantic found these people boring and unimportant, but I think they're just very midwestern. [More to come after I've read another 100 pages, maybe...]

By Joel Achenbach  | September 22, 2010; 10:25 AM ET
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Midwesterners don't whine so much.

Posted by: amm1 | September 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* Mudged myself, of course. Reposting:

Tim, Maher had her on his show no less than 22 times. He used her as a sort of "house" conservative, and to make fun of her. She filled out the panel, and was cute and giggly and clearly wacko, and he just let her blithely dither away, because everything she said was absurd. I still can't figure out if it was cruel in a funny way, or funny in a cruel way.

I agree the witchcraft thing is utterly stupid, especially since she was so ditzy she inadvertently stumbled into it (I mean we all just stumble into stanaic rituals when we're in high school and out on a date, right?). What struck me about the whole was not that she's a witch but that she's a complete airhead. And not only is she an airhead, she's dumb enough to happily tell Bill Maher all about it on national television.

But he mainly had her on the show as the house wacko, as the "Christian activist" who would ramble on about the sins of m@sturb@tion. Maqher bragged the other day that he "made" CD, and it's true: he's the one who put her on the map 12 years ago.

Her campaign manager a few years ago called her a "complete fraud"-- but she's like Palin and Beck and the others: she has discovered one can make a career out of being a TV celebrity rightwinger. Basically, it is simple good, old-fashioned niche marketing. Like Limbaugh, you don't have to appeal to ALL of America. You can become a millionaire by appealing to only 20 percent of it. It doesn't matter a damn what the other 80 percent think.

Textbook niche marketing.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 22, 2010 11:24 AM


Okay, back to Franzen. If I wanted to read about "educated, disappointed, sexually rambunctious, wine-drinking Americans" I just back through my own e-mails and Achenblog posts. I mean, I can be as boring and unimportant as the best of 'em.

Though I'm not at all midwestern. Closest I ever came was 3 days in Lorrain, Ohio, and four days at a real estate convention in Chicago.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 22, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I have a tough time reconciling "boring" and "Midwestern" with "sexually rambunctious." Surely, they are interesting to *someone*, if only as a how-to guide for physical pleasure.

What makes life interesting is how closely you pay attention to it and think about what it means. I have known people who have led lives that should be stupendously interesting to others, but who have paid so little attention that they cannot convey the experience to others. Others can lead a stupendously uninteresting life, yet make it interesting in the telling. Just because the people are boring, does not mean that a novel that includes them has to be boring.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Who like uninteresting people, regardless of how their stories are told.

There are reasons they have shows like "LA Law" or "NYPD Blue" and not "LA Engineers" or "NYCDPW Sanitation".

I apologize if in the world of cable, there actually is an "LA Engineers" or an "NYCDPW Sanitation". Nowadays, there probably is, particularly if the shows feature the housewives of such.

Posted by: baldinho | September 22, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Who likes uninteresting people, regardless of how their stories are told.

There are reasons they have shows like "LA Law" or "NYPD Blue" and not "LA Engineers" or "NYCDPW Sanitation".

I apologize if in the world of cable, there actually is an "LA Engineers" or an "NYCDPW Sanitation". Nowadays, there probably is, particularly if the shows feature the housewives of such.

Posted by: baldinho | September 22, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

That's what the Atlantic review says, too, Tim -- that a book about boring people doesn't have to be boring -- yet it claims (quite convincingly, to my mind) that Franzen's book is exactly that. For good or ill, that Atlantic review killed whatever remote interest I might have had in reading this new one.

I thought the review's second paragraph concerning the use of the F-word in fiction was really excellent.

And try hard as I might, I still cannot help liking Ron Charles' extra-snarky video book reviews, such as his latest: I was worried he's get obnoxious like Cilizza and Milbank did, but Charles, while a full-blown clown, is still way smarter and cleverer than they were. He had me every step of the convoluted way (more than 6 minutes, with a 3-minute intro).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 22, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, I *am* from the Midwest and .... um, (*what was I going to say?*) oh, never mind (boring).

Hey, Yoki, I would *love* it if you come down here to work! Wowie-Zowie!

I've never read Franzen (which in Swedish would be pronounced "Frahn-zayn") and don't know if I will. I have so many heretofore unread books on the various bookcases I have and get more from time to time, that he will probably not make it onto any list at this point.

*faxing smooches to Mudge and SciTim for their respective posts*

Posted by: ftb3 | September 22, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I got mudged as well, but mudge said it better. The only takeaway to be made is that Bill Maher will be at the Hippodrome on November 19. He ought to have plenty to talk about.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

On the Franzen front, I am #29 on the HoCo Library reserve list for the book. I still have about 150 pages of 'The System Of The World' to go, so hopefully the two will coincide.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I disagree, baldinho. Cop shows, lawyer shows, hospital shows have an advantage for the audience who only cares about violent death and things that go boom. Sometimes those shows can be good, sometimes not so much, but personally, I'm tired of them (even though I sometimes still watch). I'm with *Tim -- give me a well-told story that makes its world and people and their emotions real to me. (Note the "well-told" -- that rules out the reality shows.)

Posted by: -bia- | September 22, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm up around page 120 out of 987 into Stephenson's Anathem, just about the right place for a review I guess.

Brooks over at the NYT detected an ugly liberal bias in "Freedom", but then again he says he read the whole thing.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 22, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

An article about today's House hearing got me wondering... Are people who oversee egg production really farmers? I think of them as more like shepherds. I think I shall start calling them henkeeps.

I also love the fact that one of the salmonella victims they'll be hearing from apparently got it from eating a rattlesnake cake.

"Iowa egg farmers face questions on salmonella outbreak"

Posted by: bobsewell | September 22, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

For me, "Seinfeld" was about as boring as a primetime show could get. Loads of others either disagreed or led more dull lives than mine, for they watched it regularly.

As to "educated, disappointed, sexually rambunctious, wine-drinking Americans," I would want to know the type of wine. Bad wine is truly one of the great disappointments in life.

A question for those north of the border: are there any "educated, disappointed, sexually rambunctious, wine-drinking" Canadians?

Posted by: MsJS | September 22, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Such books usually slap me in the face with what I see as self-hatred; self-loathing the author, apparently trapped in a hand-made room, wants to spew. To what end? Is it like the act of an exhibitionist with a repulsive body type? A substitution for suicide? I never figure out books like that.

Don't finish it, Joel. Toss it. It's ugly and no good will come of it.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 22, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"All those tawdry late-night weepies
I could make you weep more cheaply."
-Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 22, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm so embarrassed. I should have attributed that quote to Brian Eno. The song is "The Great Pretender."

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Franzen was just 4 blocks from the hip urban loft last night at the Fitzgerald Theater (home of Prairie Home Companion). His "Talking Volumes" interview with a local public radio host was sold out weeks ago, and surely raised lots of money for MPR because members of the Talking Volumes Book Club are guaranteed tickets to all interviews in the series for their hefty contributions. As much as I would like to participate in this, not necessarily to hear Franzen, I have vowed not to give MPR a dime until they drop their lawsuit against the Met Council over the Central Corridor light rail route. I'll not bore you with any more details, perhaps Franzen has characters like me in his books. You know, the kind of busy people who will be on the National Mall on Oct 30th from noon to 3PM, participating in the Rally to Restore Sanity. We'll bring cookies.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 22, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Wine-drinking, yep. Check.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 22, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Now I have to go look up "miniaturism."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 22, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

No, no, no, Jumper. That was the faux, tinny, terrible "Great Prtender." THIS is the real "Great Pretender": with Tony Williams singing the lead. The woman is Zola Taylor (Frankie Lymon's second wife).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 22, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Franzen will be giving a talk followed by a signing starting at 10:30 at the National Book Festival on Sunday. Full list of authors here:

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Maya: I like to think about the life of wine.
Miles Raymond: Yeah.
Maya: How it's a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your '61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline.
Miles Raymond: Hmm.
Maya: And it tastes so f**king good.

You guys start on things oenological, I gotta go "Sideways."

Posted by: kguy1 | September 22, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f**king Merlot!

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I liked Merlot for a while, but then I noticed a growing sensation that Merlot tasted of acetone. Although ethanol and water both are very serviceable industrial solvents, they're pretty much the only industrial solvents that I really want to drink. I don't know whether the Merlot changed, or just my perception of it.

Anyway, now I stick to beer. You can trust beer.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | September 22, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Rattlesnake cake is like crab cake. Who knew?

I'm just surprised it took her a day to become ill.

Joking aside, these "farmers" deserve to be sued by those who were sickened.

Posted by: -dbG- | September 22, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"They will reach Halifax today."

Mudge, for your friends on the cruise, mayI recommend the chorus and a verse or two of the immortal Stan Roger's "Barrett's Privateers"?

Oh, the year was 1778,
How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!
A letter of mark came from the King
To the scummiest vessel I’d ever seen.

God damn them all!
I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold.
We’d fire no guns, shed no tears.
I’m a broken man on a Halifax Peer,
The last of Barrett’s Privateers.


the Antelope shook and pitched on her side
( "How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!")
Well Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs
And the Maintruck carried off both me legs.


So here I sit in my twenty-third year
( "How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!")
It’s been six years since I sailed away
And I just made Halifax yesterday

Annotated lyrics at:

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

You can trust beer. Or can you?

Posted by: kguy1 | September 22, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"Rat Head" would be a fine name for a beer.

The guy's first error was in drinking a Light beer. The second error was in being not too perceptive, assuming this story is not a fantasy -- Tecate is not bottled in dark glass. How could you not notice something as chunky and substantial and not-beer-colored as a rat's head in the bottle, unless you had already had several?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

It all depends on how closely the rat head resembled a submerged wedge of lime. Sadly, people have become trained to expect floating objects in their Mexican beers.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

A friend of mine just sent me this link. Funny story. Cute, even.

Posted by: ftb3 | September 22, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

yello, things get interesting for Ike Newton right about that point in TSoTW, don't they?

And s_d, I'm at about page 430 of Anathem, and this as I do of every book he's written - a: Neal Stephenson is one amazingly smart, knowledgeable and creative guy and b: he is a little maddening in how he allows his stories to run all over the place, festooned with fine technical detail, ideas of all shapes and sizes, and snortwothy asides, then gives you the head-slapper at the end.

I think yello's in the section of Baroque Cycle where he can just read and let his brain cool down.

These comments brought to you by the Neal Stephenson Word Count Appreciation Society.


Posted by: -bc- | September 22, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

You an trust beer, if it's not tainted with some dozens of undisclosed chemicals the big brewers use to alter the color, head, mouthfeel, as preservatives, etc. I've never gotten a hangover from good beer.

Trader Joe's offers some passable beers at $1/bottle. Anything above that is an occasional indulgence.

Having recently decided I need more beer in my life, I dug out the fermenting bucket and spent about $35 on a kit that produces about 5 ga. of an Anchor Steam -like beer. (Anchor Steam - one of the greats.) Last night in went into my saved supply of Grolsch bottles. They have a rubber-gasketted cap attached by wire bail, so you simply flip on the lid, no fussing with crimp-on caps. The most labor-intensive part of the process is washing out the equipment, particularly the bottles.

On the whole, a more productive use of my time I think than pursuing Franzen's diagnosis of the cultural ills of a particular social segment.

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Joel, keep reading! It's easy, right, just a traditional narrative, with some point of view shifts to keep the style fresh and give you something meta to think about. A book that makes something very difficult look pretty effortless. But the payoff is big towards the end. The best pages are page 192 and pp 483-485. But you can't skip ahead because their impact depends on everything that comes before.

Discussion topics: 1)Use of birds as symbols and plot devices. 2)Literary fiction writers as endangered species.

I'm hoping to see Franzen and mingle with his fans (they are nice people, in my experience) at the Miami Book Fair. His appearance is not confirmed yet.

Posted by: kbertocci | September 22, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Stupid drive-by comment:

"Three brands of beer of varying alcohol content were presented to separate groups of male rats. The consumption data indicated, firstly, an inverse relationship between acceptability of the beer and its alcohol content. The data also indicated that the acceptability of full-strength beer could be augmented by prior exposure to low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer."


Posted by: talitha1 | September 22, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

NukeSpouse has recently grown quite fond of a wine species I'd never encountered before. Mosquito, or something like that...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

SciTim is clearly a dark ale snob. I intensely dislike beers which require a knife and fork.

I've been drinking Tecate for 25 years, ever since a Mexican restaurant opened across the street from my college apartment. I grew quite accustomed to the light refreshing taste of Tecate. It is a fine crisp beer suitable for drinking at the beach or at a picnic whereas Guinness and their ilk are meant to be drunk in a cold drafty moldy pub. Where would you rather be with a beer?

And you can't mention funny beer names without fondly recalling the halcyon days of Mouthpiece Theater:

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

is it just me, or does Joel's review of the first 10.1% of Franzen's book strike anyone else as a blatant attempt to curry favour with Oprah?

Mudge, with respect to your 11:34 repost, it turns out that, surprisingly enough, I *have* been listening - if only subliminally - to my wife when she talks about her friends and therefore am compelled to point out that witchcraft is not necessarily equal to satanism.

As for our friend the Lite Rat Beer drinker, it sounds like he took a page out of the Bob & Doug McKenzie play book. (Notwithstanding the egregious use of light beer, natch.)

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 22, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Ten Best Beer Names:

I've had several varieties from Sweetwater Brewery when in Atlanta, but never their Happy Ending.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

-bia-, I was being kind of sarcastic.

I love shows that are well-written. They don't have to be about explosions and sex and stuff.

Witness one of my all-time favorites, "Northern Exposure". How on-paper boring did THAT show look?

It was quirky, smart, and practically perfect, at least according to me.

Posted by: baldinho | September 22, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Can't think of anything crazier than people who think they are sane deciding somebody they don't know is crazy based upon what others say about them, except those same people deciding whether somebody they don't know is fit for public office based upon not only what others say, but what others say about what they feel about somebody they don't know. Sort of like CNN stating their agenda is now to help President Obama craft (without truth and support in fact) a new excuse for why everything he has seen done on his watch has resulted in more and more economic mayhem in America.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 22, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

MsJs, I wouldn't call us "disappointed."

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 22, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I admit that I have a preference for dark beer. However, my snobbery is reserved for "light beer" vs. "beer." Lagers are light-colored bottom-fermented beers, but that doesn't make them "light", it just makes them "not to my preference." "Light" is some kind of horrific anti-gourmet removal process that I cannot countenance (especially since I don't really know how they do it).

I must take issue with j3hess' contention of evil undisclosed chemicals in beer, even icky beer, especially the suggestion of the dreaded "preservatives". Generally, when someone says "preservative", the implication is a poison like formaldehyde. The ethanol and CO2 in beer and wine are, themselves, all the preservative that you need. There may be undisclosed chemicals, but their inclusion would constitute an actual crime, I think. To make such a claim, you need actual evidence, not merely dark suspicions. Beer is a noble invention because of its low-tech ability to make a potable beverage with a long shelf-life in a world that is otherwise rife with choleric bacteria and other unpleasant things. The fact that it also gets you tipsy is kind of a side-effect. It keeps you alive, rather than pooping yourself to death with lethal diarrhea, and has done a serviceable job of it for ~5000 years.

I have often heard this claim that our food must be rife with demon "preservatives" because bread lasts on the counter without getting moldy, whereas it used to get furry within a day. You have two recourses against this sort of claim: (1) read the danged label. I don't see "preservatives" listed in the bread that I typically buy. And (2) the bread that I bake myself from active yeast, municipal water, refined sugar (or sometimes honey), a little salt, and plain wheat flour, does not get moldy any faster than store-bought bread. I contend that the difference is in our homes, not our foods. We have vacuums, we have filtered air-conditioning systems, we have hard food-handling surfaces, we have vacuum cleaners, we have high-temperature dishwashing machines, and we have antiseptic cleaners. I suspect that the microbial load in our kitchens is much less than the halcyon youth of furry bread that we remember so fondly as the days of good food that's good for you. Better living through ergot!

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Oops, sorry, baldi. And I pride myself on seeing the tongue in the cheek, too.

I loved Northern Exposure.

Posted by: -bia- | September 22, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else out there watching Rubicon? It's a spy show that is slow-paced, deliberate, cerebral (the spies send each other messages through crossword puzzle clues) and amazingly non-violent. Has an odd John LeCarre feel to it.

Nobody had tortured anybody to get information, donned a day-glo wig to infiltrate a Eurotrash disco, jumped from one building to another in hot pursuit, or blown anything up anywhere for any reason. Yet I find it oddly fascinating.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, thank goodness CNN has finally stated its agenda.


When Talitha mentioned the great names of the hunting dogs, it occurred to me that I've never had a dog who needed to be called to dinner.

Posted by: bobsewell | September 22, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Did WE mention the fact that a PRO-12 is worth all the POO you can shovel? Call it a un-shovel ready economic plan.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 22, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Shows about people in unglamorous settings:

The Office: Paper salesmen
Community: Community college students
The IT Crowd: Corporate computer support department
Wings: Low budget commuter airline
Taxi: Cab drivers
Lou Grant: Newspaper writers

Any coincidence that these are all comedies?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse


First, I'll admit to relaying 'common wisdom' within homebrew circles rather than a precise scientific or regulatory study. It is a fact, however, that brewers are not required by law to disclose ingredients, so inclusion of chemicals is not a crime.

Now "chemicals" can be used as a scare word, which makes seaweed extracts sound evil. I didn't say they were evil; you imputed that attitude to me. I said I'd never gotten a hangover from good beer.

On preservatives - I'm glad you have an ultra-hygenic house. If I leave a loaf of TJs bread out for a week, it begins to mold. If I leave a loaf of standard commercial bakery bread out, it takes 3 times as long, at least. And I've had to clean enough mold out of the bottom of used bottles which I didn't rinse thoroughly enough to believe that some organisms can tolerate the ethanol.

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

And there's glamour at the NYPD, yello?

Posted by: MsJS | September 22, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I deliberately omitted all shows where the characters regularly discharged firearms or administered medication.

Being a real cop is decidedly unglamorous. Being a TV cop is endlessly exciting, even on the 'gritty' Wambaugh rip-offs.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Tee hee. The IT Crowd and Community are fabulous. Alas I have only watched a few episodes of each since I am against paying for TV. Shows like that are wearing me down though.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | September 22, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Lou Grant was not a comedy (MTM was). And they are called "reporters," not writers.

I apologize, byoolin; I lumped witchcraft and satanism together mostly for comedic effect, not any strict taxonomy.

Other ungamorous settings:
Friday Night Lights
The Bob Newhart Show
Three Rivers (Pittsburgh? C'mon)
Housewives of New Jersey
Jersey Shore
Murder, She Wrote
The Waltons
The Gilmore Girls
Men in Trees
Third Rock From the Sun
Whatever the name of that Danny DeVito Philadelphia show is
Mr. Rogers
All in the Family
Designing Women (? iffy)
The Honeymooners
Batman (you kidding? Gotham City was dark, dank, dirty, brooding, etc.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 22, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I love(d) "Northern Exposure", too.
I always felt like I was reliving my early days in Colorado ... complete with a storefront DJ!

Posted by: talitha1 | September 22, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Danny DeVito show:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Posted by: MoftheMountain | September 22, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

A week, j3hess? I only said for a couple of days. I will grant you that if your bread can stay fur-less, open and on the counter for three weeks, then something weird is going on. If you visit our house, you will see that "ultra-hygienic" is not a word that one would apply. For instance, I just now had to take a moment to ultra-hygienically blow the cat fur off the counter with my very own bacteria-laden breath.

I was going over the top with the "dark suspicions" part. I seem to be failing with that sort of humor a lot, lately. Sorry about that.

I have sometimes contemplated the value of using soft bread as a growth medium to test the rate of mold development in various environments around the home. I think it would make a great science fair project, after which you would never eat in your own home again (I suspect).

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Dilbert's brought out a bit of the drama of engineering. I've to engineers in the family and among my friends - I'd love to see a good engineering dramadey.

Or a movie - the rivalry between Edison and Telsa.

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Sparks would be flying.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 22, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Take a look at Rossi's hair (or Billie's for that matter) and not laugh. I dare ya.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I was reading an old Science News today in the mechanic's waiting room (sorry, you have to bring your own -- they don't have them lying about). There is a several-page article about the mathematics of networks and using it to make deductions about terrorists and other secretive groups of people.

This strikes me as excellent fodder for a dramatic espionage story. Imagine, if you will, a mathematician working alone (as mathematicians do) on the science of networks and he has developed an algorithm that mines public information sources and seems to provide solid predictions for when and where certain "persons of interest" will meet. He starts innocuously showing up at these places and doing various innocuous things that foil the efforts of the terrorists (for example, leaving fake indications of an information drop, collecting actual information/money drops, standing in an inconvenient location so that the terrorists cannot keep their meeting clandestine). What he doesn't realize is that he is making himself a part of the network, so that the FBI, the terrorists, and other nefarious groups each concludes that he is part of some opposing group. Drama and danger ensue.

Important plot point: none of these organizations (especially the ones on the side of the angels, whoever they may be envisioned to be) must ever figure out who he is or how to find him. Effectively, he must become the least super of super-heroes, foiling wrong-doing without being noticed. I call him the Person from Porlock.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I like Dilbert, but it is far too much tech-geek/software engineering for me to be considered about real engineering.

Dilbert portrays tech geeks as insufferable people who think everyone else is a blithering idiot. Reasonably accurate, in my experience. Funny as all get out.

Other engineering disciplines are not nearly as insufferable. Not everyone sits around complaining all day.

Instead, they write technical specifications regarding structural properties of fasteners! Now that would be cool. A show about technical writers.

Posted by: baldinho | September 22, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

A friend and I once agreed that we'd like to see a show about the reality of physics graduate school. The tears, the laughter, the intellectual pinnacle and the devastating nadir. And, of course, the frequent bl*w j*bs.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Why SciTim, if that is part of physic grad school, spread the word and more will sign up for advanced math and physics in high school.

Baldi -- I teach technical writing, so write me in. Let Eve Plumb from The Brady Bunch play me; I was her doppleganger from the mid seventies until I went to college. Someone asked me in an organic chemistry lab (sorry sciTim)if I was Jan Brady.

I hope she is aging well....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 22, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Sheople are an endangered species.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 22, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

...a anonymous mundane hero quietly intervening in mayhem. Superb concept Tim, go with it.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 22, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I like the movie idea. The analysis, at least as much as they reveal in Sander's article, not so much.

Confession: I studied network analysis in grad school for a couple of years.

Many of their "discoveries" - the role of intermediaries between networks is a rediscover of "The Strength of Weak Ties", published by Mark Grannovetter in 1973. Early studies of networks in business settings discovered that secretaries were the most connected nodes in the 70s and 80s. Applying lattice theory carries, I'm guessing, a lot of the same weakness as the early use of graph theory in networks - eliminating one tie or one node can induce massive changes in the network, not realistic models of how social organization function. Newer stuff uses probability-based statistics rather than simple descriptives.

For some more contemporary work, you could start with Prof Carter Butts:

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

OMG! Coherence!

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

When you have a name like Butts, you really must have a theorem named after yourself. Or, perhaps, a conjecture.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, the conjecture would be perfect for the afore-mentioned Dicks family.

Butts would be the counter argument to Occam's Razor - Butt's Dissent? Or, richer in visual image, Butt's Hairy ___ - I can't finish it. Sorry.

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Ooh! Ooh! "... this was implied by a conjecture from Butts."

I suspect that Dr. Butts has heard every possible adolescent joke by now.

But I haven't. Not yet.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I was just out in the yard with the boy watching 3 bats flutter around as a big old red moon rose over the trees. You know what that means. All hail Neil.

Posted by: baldinho | September 22, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I guessed wrong baldinho; thought your link would take us here:

Posted by: Yoki | September 22, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, heard that song in the car when I was driving yesterday, made my day.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 22, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Completely off topic, but could flying cars be next.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 22, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

There was the show called Numb3rs which had a math nerd team with a cop to solve murders. It usually involved solving the crime using some hand-wavy theory one of the writers heard about from an old Scientific American article.

For the first time I understood the disdain real nurses and cops and firemen have for their fictional counterparts.

The best fictional representation of the grad school as best I can tell is this:

The writer has a BME from Georgia Tech, a PhD from Stanford and taught at CalTech. A pretty impressive resume. I assume it's accurate, but since I never did post-grad work I can't confirm that. Perhaps if I knew it involved so much oral sex I would have re-evaluated my educational goals.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to disrupt the plotting of a bloggo-PhD series with layers of science and se-ex on top but this is worthy of a Joel piece:

Climate change?
Global warming?
Climate weirding (Tom Friedman)

or ta dah? Global climate disruption, as John Holdren suggests.

See the excellent Capital Weather Gang blog for details:

Click to read ENTIRE PP PRES by Holdren and savor slide 3.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 22, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Holdren mentioned this name change a few years ago, saying

global climatic disruption.

A few of us sighed. Sounds like an item from ecology:

climatic climax
: the one of the ecological climaxes possible in a particular climatic area whose stability is directly due to the influence of climate — compare edaphic climax

And, a few of us of a certain age thought:

Female climacteric, which is menopause.

Male climacteric is, of course, called andropause.

Oh words and branding....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 22, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I clearly attended the wrong graduate school for Physics. Of course, I also bailed with a Master's. Maybe all that stuff only happened to those working on a Doctorate.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 22, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

In the Rubicon episode from two weeks ago, the fictional spy agency has to cooperate with the CIA. All their agents are portrayed as chino and golf shirt-wearing smug insufferable jerks.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't think phrases like 'climax' no matter how semantically correct is going to win over any fence sitters who think the dialog is already a little hysterical.

Their little poll has 33% deniers and a rather vocal skeptic contingent in the comments.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey, CqP, are you getting pounded by a major thunderstorm right about now? Coming home from the comm. college I saw a ton of lightning about 20 miles north of here.

Also coming home, heard Keith Geoffrey, the guy who wrote that history of MI6 book referencing one of the prototypes for James Bond, being interviewed on NPR.

Is global climatic disruption anything like cold/heatus interruptus?

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | September 22, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I'll take a kbertocci recommendation over the literary fancy-pants reviewers anytime. Not to mention Oprah likes it (and Franzen sent her the manuscript, so he must be making nice with her this time).

I haven't been watching Rubicon - but it took me a couple of seasons to catch up with Mad Men, so I may have to give it a try. yellojkt rarely steers me wrong on TV series, I've found.

Posted by: seasea1 | September 22, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

For a show that is the exact opposite of Rubicon there is Undercovers.

Undercovers = Alias x (Hart to Hart + I-Spy)

Only without the plausibility of all those other shows.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Newsflash: pilot error caused Titanic to hit iceberg, White Star Line chairman said "sail on!"

Appropo of BP, oil spills, and other man-made disasters:

It's a thinly-attested claim, but bound to attract attention, which is certainly the point in telling it now.

Posted by: j3hess | September 22, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the Weather Gang blog and it made me so bitter that I wrote this:


I guess I'm inclined to give up on the issue and become a survivalist. Everything that people need to know is right in front of you, but an insurmountably large part of the public continues to refuse to hear the evidence and prefers to take solace in some idiot fantasy in which there are climate scientists becoming wealthy by lying to the public about climate change. When the water is lapping at your door and the alligators are eating your poodles, you'll keep arguing that the science is not "all in." I am confident, at this point, in the notion that there won't be a runaway greenhouse effect and all that will happen will be a roughly 50% decrease in the world's carrying capacity for humanity (I'm sure that number is wrong in detail, but why split hairs? Anything worse than a few percent decrease in capacity will have gigantic effects), resulting in widespread famine and war. I am planning accordingly, for myself and for my progeny. The one thing in which I can take solace is the thought that this particular extinction event will preferentially kill stupid people. Evolution at work!

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 10:52 PM


Obviously, more and worse will happen than a decrease in human carrying capacity, but I was angry and trying to stick to the only part that matters to such self-centered nitwits.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 22, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, any interesting gender bias in your 50% estimate?

Posted by: DNA_Girl | September 22, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

And RD, did you find a definition of "miniaturism?"

Posted by: nellie4 | September 23, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Nope, no gender bias at all. The limits are that 100% of human carrying capacity will continue, or 0%. I'm not going to spend any time on the notion that there will be more than 100% of current capacity. I suppose it's possible, but chances are that in the midst of a mass extinction event, the best that you can hope for is that things aren't worse. 50% is the average of the limits, so I can't really be more than half wrong with that estimate.

Here are my recommendations: buy land somewhere that is at an elevation of more than 20 m above current sea level, so it will stay high and dry, but be close to the eventual coast line and increase in value accordingly. Choose a place that currently is unpleasantly chilly in the summertime -- it will get warmer. Learn survivalist skills. Learn to forage. Learn to sail. Get a good deep-water cruising sailboat. Learn to keep it in good repair.

So far, I know how to sail. The rest is on my to-do list.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 23, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

We're sunk. But I don't think that's why condos in Miami are selling so cheaply.

Mom wasn't overwhelmed by Freedom, but read it at a fast clip anyway. I'm so behind in reading that a one-year moratorium on adding to the reading list seems appropriate. Maybe two-year.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 23, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm shocked no one has yet conjectured if there's a Butts in Mianus...

Summer's making one last appearance as the calendar turns, it seems. I'd be happy with steady fall-like conditions, but oh well.

Now if there were only a show about terribly competent bureaucrats (they're not THAT terrible) who did a great job keeping the public safe but were constantly beset by fearmongers...

*halfheartedly-contemplating-a-mental-health-day-whilst-heading-for-the-Dawn-Patrol Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't that 'West Wing'? In the initial show premise, the President was supposed to almost never be seen but Martin Sheen was too good at chewing the scenery.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I saw those l-strikes too last night. Happened to be on Route One in a car (shocking!). They were north, say Beltville but were HUGE. But no thunder, so out of the ear-range. But, only the barest dribble of rain. The temps, though, soared within that hour. Very hot last night.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 23, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps all those movies and TV shows about hypercompetent and ultraviolent paramilitary black ops groups aren't as far fetched as they seem.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

*headdesk headdesk headdesk*

What IS IT with those... those... Morons!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

SciTim: what is your anticipated lifetime? If I believed every single of the worst predictions and they all came true, I dunno if any land above, say, 10 feet elevation, is threatened in the next century or even more.

You buy the grand cataclysmic change thing, or you pulling our leg?

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

I dunno Scotty. They have a point. Islamic contributions like algebra and astronomy and stuff have consistently set back the goals of Christian zealots for centuries.

And we should treat the Crusaders a little more sympathetically. They were just tourists with a unique reverse payment plan.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Scotty I saw a headline the other day, something like Texas educators complaining textbooks were too kind to muslims - I could not get past the headline.

As I have mentioned many times, the media here tried to find a Canadian story in everything - as for Global warming/climate change - we could become a contender baby!

Posted by: dmd3 | September 23, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm gonna start development on my Churchill beach resort right away.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes nellie, I looked it up several places. I realize that I am probably grossly simplifying all of this, but as best as I can glean, "miniaturism" is the notion that large social forces can be explained by looking at small personal interactions. So it is to sociology much like chemistry is to physics.

When specifically applied to art, the term seems to suggest something like "Picket Fences," the television program of the early 1990s in which large social issues were reduced to specific interactions between key characters in a small town.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 23, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Baldo -- my concern is that my children and grandchildren will have very difficult lives. And, not be prepared, really for hardship and flexibility.

And, perhaps, just perhaps, people will relearn the value of community and ecological humility (that we live and move and have our being within a natural settings; that we are part of nature ourselves.)

And, that only a sliver of the world's people live like we do. Oh, my, that most boats do not rise on the false tide of our affluence. Our big boats will not do well upon the shoals and waters that will assert themselves in ways that defy and deny our ability to adapt.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 23, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse


Hey very well said. Re-wrote what I posted here, just to add that it is quite clear that there are at least two tiers in society these days... those who's world didn't change with the most recent recession and those where it did.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 23, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I also think that it is somewhat cool that Joel is being paid, in part, by the Koch bros and one of their Astroturf groups. Actually, that is way cool. Good going Joel.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 23, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

CqP, I know people with boatloads of money and people who don't have two red pennies to rub together. No one has it easy. On top of that, true hardship isn't something you can prepare yourself for. Having said that, you're the kind of parent who teaches their kids that when life knocks you down, you get back up, and ask for help when you need it, give help when you see need.

About people relearning ecological humilitiy...I think most of those who live outside of cities have a decent grasp of this, and even though we're moving closer and closer to the lion's share of our population living in cities, the understanding of the importance of ecological humility is spreading. In that regard, I think our generation is doing a decent job.

Posted by: LostInThought | September 23, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Cqp, I love what you wrote. My daughter recently had a history assignment to write about a world event that changed her life. In a sign of how lucky we are we could not come up with anything, 9-11 had an impact as did Katrina which occurred on her birthday but they were more events where she/we felt empathy for those involved and our lives themselves did not change. She finally came to choose the election of Obama, for several reasons, the election process made her more aware of the political process and world events - and she cared, as well as looking a important topics.

We do not take for granted how lucky we are.

The article I posted bothers me because I am afraid too many people in this area will think that we do not need to do much about climate change as it will benefit us (in the short term).

Posted by: dmd3 | September 23, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

CQP: I agree completely that there are literally billions of people on the Earth that would not even recognize our lifestyle.

I also agree that they will be the canaries in the proverbial coal mine.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

University of Miami geologist Harold Wanless, who knows everything about south Florida sea level, is gloomy about the prospects for his city and Ft. Lauderdale. One issue is that porous ground makes dikes unfeasible. He doesn't think you can make Miami into Amsterdam.

The Dutch have specific plans for keeping their country safe during the next century.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 23, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

Going to hit 90 dee grees in these parts today. Average for this time of year is low 70s, so this probably qualifies as a statistical outlier.

Global warming isn't a particularly newsworthy topic in these parts. Perhaps it is an urban midwestern thing.

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

A discussion of miniaturist short story writer Elizabeth Taylor (no, not the actress, who never did anything miniature):

Here's an entire book that describes Jane Austen as a miniaturist.

And: http colon slash slash elm dot einst dot ee/issue/30/family-tale-era-miniatures/

Here, Joyce Carol Oates describes Grace Paley as a miniaturist. http colon slash slash jco dot usfca dot edu/paley dot html

Meanwhile, 6 question headlines above the fold, one right on it, and one below it. One of them asks whether famed dying atheist Christopher Hitchens should reconsider and make a deathbed conversion. Because, you know, Hitchens really values your input at this key moment in his life, and it would really help him DIE BETTER if he knew all your thoughts on the matter. I'm sure that between bouts of intense vomiting after his chemo he'll want to read the comments section to see what others have to say about it.

Meanwhile, having put myself into that black state of mind, you may enjoy this excellent Lewis Black diatribe a friend sent me about bottled water. Yes, Lewis does 10 minutes on this subject, all hilarious, and yes, of course, there are f-bombs all over the place.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 23, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

And on the comics page there are five rhetorical questions in Big Nate alone:

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Really excellent E. J. Dionne column, especially the last few grafs.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 23, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

yello, I felt that way throughout most of school. If the adult in front of the room knew the answer, why was s/he asking me?

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Dionne is really nailing it lately. Now if only someone could get Cohen to a doctor to diagnose his early-onset dementia.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm not so enamoured with the Dionne piece. To me it's another "the TP is getting more media attention than it deserves, but I'm gonna write about it anyway and add to the pile" op/ed.

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

baldinho -- well, my plan was to make it to 147, but I have recently had some doubts about it. I figure I've got maybe another 40-50 years, tops. That still leaves the progeny, both the current crop and any that they may produce. I certainly expect a timescale of a century to be relevant to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Something that really caught my attention was Holdren's graph of sea-level rise in comparison to IPCC predictions. The actual rise is not so severe -- it's still measurable in cm. What is attention-getting is the fact that the actual measured sea-level is right at the extreme high edge of the IPCC prediction range. It is clear that the severity of the IPCC predictions, for this phenomenon at least, has been low-balled in an effort to avoid accusations of hysteria.

While the rise of sea-level is intriguing and romantic, I guess the first thing that's going to happen will be the increase in droughts and redistribution of rainfall patterns, so that current farmlands will be ill-matched to growing conditions. Even without climate change, of course, we already are starting to have problems in this department because of limits on the availability of usable fresh water. Many rivers in, for example, India, have headwaters formed by melt from Himalayan glaciers. Those glaciers are disappearing, and it seems like melt rates are not steady, they accelerate. What do you think is likely to happen when drought and famine start to hit 10-25% of the world's population?

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 23, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all, hi Cassandra!

I'm reading that the human population will start to decline within the next fifty years, due to a declining birth rate. Now there's a thought - women with more education have fewer children...I hope that will mitigate any disaster that may befall us. And yes, we'll keep the mountain place in the family, it's at 3700 feet elevation...

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

re: Dionne, let's hope for (nay, let's work towards) a large showing on Oct. 30. That will help reveal how marginal the fringes are. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

SciTim, a rhetorical question?

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I admire Joel. I'm not sure whether he's enjoying the novel, or sticking with it (a) in hopes of better to come and (b) in support of the author and the literary concept. I like to think I, too, "believe in supporting the people still in the game and still trying to write ambitious literature." Alas, my support often has not extended to actually reading their novels, though I have bought some. I don't absolutely object to reading them, you understand. I assume I'll get around to it someday. In the meantime, I'm afraid, my support is somewhat lacking in force or substance. I'm saying nothing against Franzen's latest, since I clearly haven't read it. I think I have read something he wrote once, and I think I liked it. That's the best I can do right now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 23, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Do you think it's a rhetorical question?

My suspicion as to what will happen when famine and drought start to hit 10-25% of the world population (where did the numbers come from? India ~15%, some of China ~20%, West Africa): bad things. Bad things on a very large scale.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 23, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

We've had the Malthusian discussion here repeatedly. My prediction still holds. 10 billion by 2050 topping out at 12 billion by 2100 with 'malnutrition' levels as a percentage of population at or below the current rate. Not that there won't be large patterns of disruption. Poor people accumulate in hot regions (it's harder to be poor and cold) and there will be a lot more of them.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

SciTim: I think you and I have similar visions of the near future regarding famine and mayhem and discord and such. Much of that will be in the third world, so a lot of folks don't care.

They probably should. If you think the Somali pirates (relatively rag-tag group right now) are a problem with international shipping, wait until things get like Somalia in lots more places.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I can appreciate that there may be hardships approaching.

Unfortunately, whatever you may think of the future, it's never what you think it is.

Knowing me, I'll be ready for global warming (ha, wrote 'global worming' there) and there will be an asteroid strike or nuclear exchange that triggers a gloabl winter/cooling condition.

And there I'll be in my Speedo with boxes of seeds and SPF 1000 sunblock, staring at the sky looking for hope and a little sunshine.


Posted by: -bc- | September 23, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Wow -- did the boodle get kilt?

Would it help if I told y'all that I got a lovely parking ticket last night in Georgetown? It was something I actually expected, but was not happy to get. It was either that, or being compelled to climb a few flights of stairs, to which my body rebelled. It's "only" $30 (not too bad, I suppose).


Interestingly, as I was wedging myself out of the parking space, and looked at the sky, I noticed that there was a huge full moon next to a nest of complex-looking clouds. Within that cloud structure, there must have been a rock band concert going on (yet silently) because there was an internal light show. No thunder at all -- just lightening behind the clouds. Very cool, indeed.

Posted by: ftb3 | September 23, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

SCC -- "lightning"

Posted by: ftb3 | September 23, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Love your 7:56 comment this morning, CQP. You said what I could not say. Yours too, Lostinthought.

dmd, wouldn't it be just the ticket to get more kids involved in how the world works? So many of us, and I include myself(not a kid, well maybe in mind), have just a real narrow perspective of the things going on around us, and there is just so much more to know.

Hey Slyness, guess what? It's hot already. I thought I would literally melt in the car yesterday while I waited in line at the school. It got so hot, I had to come out of the car. People had their car doors open, and the line was about a mile long when I got there. Going back today. Isn't life grand?

Just wanted to stop by and say hello to everyone. Have a beautiful day, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | September 23, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Did I kill the boodle? Got to go.

Posted by: cmyth4u | September 23, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Over 90 again today. But out gathering firewood. Unlike the Bush administration.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

A thought keeps popping into my head, and since the boodle is slow, I thought I'd just throw it out there, see if anyone has any thoughts. Okay, weird as it is (I assume those of you who know me make allowances for that, and btw, thanks), here goes...

Even Cousin Marilyn, a college student who interacted with the outside world, thought she was the homeliest Munster. She loved them, identified with them, defended them. With fringe groups getting so much media play in certain markets at the expense of more reasoned groups coupled with the ad blitz about to start, shouldn't media and political groups closer to the mainstream start hammering home the idea that Marilyn is really a beautiful work in progress rather than pointing out that the Munsters are hideous? Start showing the Marilyns that their worldview is limited?

Posted by: LostInThought | September 23, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

It would be good Cassandra, I have a nieces who are very involved in a charity that works to help children around the world - they focus on getting high school students involved.

We just need a whole lot more Cassandra's in the world :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | September 23, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

For you DC area baseball fans it looks like Nats president Stan Kasten will step down at the end of the season. WaPo, Sports Illustrated and are all reporting thusly.

LiT, I don't want to assume or presume the Munsters represented a step backward in human evolution.

I second dmd's idea that we need "a whole lot more Cassandra's in the world."

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle isn't "slow"; we're merely ambitionally challeneged today.

Just edited a piece of the usual yadda yadda bushwa that said we hope to extend such-and-such scope of practice "far into the next millenium." I let it go, but implanted a note tactfully telling the writer the next millenium was nearly a thousand years off, and going "far" into it probably meant at least 1,500 years or more. Jeez, I miss the editing practices of my youth (which haven't survived even a couple of decades) when an editor would merely have crumpled up that piece of writing and bounced it off the writer's noggin, saying, "Here, re-write this piece of ----." The newsrooms of my youth didn't offer much sensitivity training. I think it had to do with the meager bowls of gruel they gave us. You don't want to know what happened to the copy boy who went up to the managing editotr one day and said, "Please, sir, may I have some more porridge?"

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm chuckling as I read this piece on the Tea Party's umbrage toward Sen. Murkowski's decision to run a write in campaign in Alaska after losing in the primary.

[Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell] said he could not immediately say how much the group has raised since the primary to help Miller, though there's been an "incredible" response in light of the "shameful" decision by Murkowski to get back in the race.

"We think that Murkowski's unwillingness to respect the will of the voters is an insult to them, and her continually blaming the result of the election on somebody else, I think, is also an insult to the voters who made up their own minds," Russell said.

What I find amusing about this is that in her 2006 Senate campaign in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell (the woman seems to have run for office every two years, yeah I know, it's weird) came in third in the primary and then launched a write in campaign in the general.

Posted by: kguy1 | September 23, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Gee did Bush get selected again? Oh y'all must mean the Bush-Obama administration, BO, as it were. Thought WE were smelling something coming from the Pirate Ship of State. Must be why the RATS are now jumping over the side.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Third, we need more Cassandras.

Baldinho, what can I say? We are adequate to the occasion. Although every IT group has a full-time diva, most of us just take turns; we have diva officer like many places have duty officers. Wish it were my turn this week, although I'd settle for 15 minutes to get lunch and visit the facilities.

Posted by: -dbG- | September 23, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Or is that insufferable? :)

Posted by: -dbG- | September 23, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Let's all write-in Rev. Wright, yeah you could call it a Wright-In election. With a Wright-In Election, you Get what you Hanker for, for all Time: WIEGHT'S Only government. That would be fair eh?

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Good thing WE now have a Three Party landscape this time around: The Party of 'yes we can', The Party of 'not so so fast', and the Party of 'get off your cans' or WE won't have a pot to *ee in.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse


Katy Perry wearing a gold bustier-sorta dress and a faux wedding veil, singing to Elmo, is too much for Sesame Street.

Who knew?

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Her outfit looks pretty tame to me. I mean after all, Elmo is buck nekkid! And while we're on the subject of bustieres, remember Halloween is only a month away-

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

Maybe that should have been WRIGHTS ONLY government. Come to think of it that's what WE already have!

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

RNM, to quote your 2:30 post, "Huh?"

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I suppose the good news is I don't have nearly as much horse---- to skim past than I usually do.

Can't figure why this guy sticks around, though.

I wonder if Katy Perry simply didn't tickle Elmo inappropriately. Waldorf and Statler would have loved her.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 23, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Just like SWSNBN, he craves our attention. He wants *in,* but you know how that goes. Like inviting a vampire to step through the window.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

A neat story of a man who served in the U.S. Marines, then the Navy, trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Then got two master's degrees and a doctorate.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of vampires-

Posted by: kguy1 | September 23, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It's possible, 'Mudge, but the snippet of video I saw is about the most chaste version of Katy Perry ever.

I think I just created a Googlenope.

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else having trouble with Facebook?

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I watched it, too, Scotty (purely for news-gathering purposes, you understand). Nuthin'. And Harry Whatshisface was right: banning her got more attention than if they'd just let it go.

Hey, Yoki.

10 days to the Bermuda cruise. Not that I'm counting.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Sesame Street is a production of the Children's Television Workshop.

This episode was sponsored by the cup size D and the number 2.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Ya gotta love collective memory. Remember the "Contract with America"? I do. Why do we need a new contract.... didn't the first one solve all the problems?

Can't the GOP sloganeers come up with something new?

How about "Read Our Lips".

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Really more of my problem is that we're not supposed to remember that they promptly tore up the "Contract with America" as soon as they got into power. Fool me once...

This document also doesn't say anything new. There's no substance, just more talking points. It's going to take a lot more than that to get my support.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | September 23, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Ms Petri had a long opinion about Ms. Perry Sesame St. appearance (who is she?).

I'm making Cock a Leekie Soup, without the whole chicken trown in. Not really Cock a Leekie oup then. Hey, there's leek and turkey "better than bouillon".

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 23, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I had problems getting FB to open, so I rebooted and all is well.

I wasn't going to vote Repub anyway, so they can talk away.

Did anyone see the list of health insurance reforms that go into effect today? I didn't see anything that I could possibly argue against. But that's just me...

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

A link might be helpful.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 23, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

In the "not ready for primetime department", the WaPo folks managing the pundit contest are today offering up 5 opening sentences of entries on the economy. Readers get to vote on which is the most enticing.

At present the option with the most votes (37%) is 'none of the above'.

Posted by: MsJS | September 23, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem at all with the Katy Perry bit on Sesame Street. I thought it was cute and silly. And no Snuffleupaguses were involved.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 23, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

That was an odd article, slyness, in that it elided mention of auto insurance which usually pays for that kind of thing.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - FB has been balky for me too. And here I was all afraid it was something personal.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 23, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

That would have been totally pervy, RD_Padouk. The Snuffleupagus, I mean.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Might be.

Do we know it's affecting non-boodlers too?

Posted by: -dbG- | September 23, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

RD, thank you for the description/definition of "miniaturism." I could not find anything so concise.

Posted by: nellie4 | September 23, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The dots confirm they've had trouble too, and they wouldn't touch the Boodle with Jumper's pole.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

SF Chronicle reported FaceBook was "down."

Posted by: nellie4 | September 23, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

See, it is fine is some site is either down, or up. But Facebook was only down in parts, from time to time. Sometimes no photos, sometimes profiles but not messages, then nothing, then messages only... I was being lulled, lulled I tell you.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

NukeSpouse sez FB been balky all day...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

If there were more adventurous writers on Sesame Street, they could have worked The Count into the show with Ms. Perry.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Many professional commentators (I don't even play one on TV) have noted the massive cognitive dissonance inherent in the GOP's "Pledge," so I won't be redundant in that regard.

Ahmadinejad, however, deserves every bit of scorn and derision the civilized world can muster. I'm glad dozens of countries walked out on that complete glassbowl's pathetic rantings at the General Council...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

You know what I wonder about Ahmadinejad, Scotty and all? Whether he is a sort of Coulter-like (Joachin Phoenix?) Performance Artist, or whether he really holds these mad notions and is crazy-dangerous. I'm ambivalent. Half the time I see a sort of humorous "I'm just getting myself popular and re-elected" light shining from his eyes, and the other half, sheer mad hate.

I'm not really asking you to submit evidence one way or the other, just saying.

What I do know is that the Iranian state is extremely dangerous, so I guess it doesn't matter which is correct.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey Yoki! I see that your beloved Calgary Flames are up 2-0 in preseason, while my beloved Red Wings are licking their wounds after their first game (a loss, alas). Ah, well, the "real" season hasn't started yet, so I'll save the anxiety for when it really counts.

A classmate from law school who is still up in NH sent me some pix from a few years ago of fall up in his parts (wait a minnit -- that sounds kinda funny, doesn't it? But you all know what I mean, right? I mean, *right*????). The pictures were very pretty, really.


Posted by: ftb3 | September 23, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, Ahmedinejad is the Coulter of Iran. Very well put. I suspect people in Iran with half a brain pay about as much attention to him as the same type of people here pay to her. He is a perfect diversionary tactic over there.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I know! I can't account for it, ftb. I'm pretty sure we'll get worse before regular season starts on Oct. 7 (*October Seventh*). It isn't even funny.

And what isn't even funnier (pace Joseph Heller), our Stamps are doing pretty well in the CFL season. What can it all mean?

The great thing is that I and two separate friends have tickets for regular-season play, so I'll see at least three games at the 'dome this winter. But I'm still rooting for my darlin' Habs.

I just love autumn, though the leaves are coming down in great drifts even before they've turned colour.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Seems like we get a texting/cell phone death toll equal to twice the 9/11 toll every year.

So it goes.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Whew! Thanks baldinho. I wasn't sure I'd expressed my thoughts properly, and feared I might offend.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

It's dead, Jim.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't that be Snuffleupagusi?

The Katy Perry bustier is actually fairly tame since the chesticular area is covered with that nude body stocking stuff that ice skaters are so fond of. The jogging portion does exhibit a distinct lack of structural support on the part of the garment.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

We are having a debate in the jkt household tonight. What is the best version of 'Every Rose Has A Thorn'?

The Poison original:

The Guns N' Roses cover:

or the Miley Cyrus remake:

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Even the WaPo is slave to Facebook now. The page loads depend on checking with Facebook, and if Facebook says "I'm busy" then WaPo won't load. Feh.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of people eagerly awaiting the NHL season.

Tyler Seguin, we need you to be good. We need to believe up here.

I will work as hard as I can to get Seguin on my bench and have Tukka between the pipes of my NHL fantasy squad this fall.

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

oh, my.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Mine gets stuck on Twitter, Jumper. Equally irritating.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | September 23, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

yello, you forced it
not about roses and thorns, exactly

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, fantasy hockey is great. The league I am in drafts the teams by computer. You list the NHL players in order of how bad you want them, and the computer goes through and sets the rosters.

True fantasy hockey dorks set their list in advance and then run practice computer drafts to see what they get. It allows you to tweak your list to better sculpt your roster.

Here is a "mock draft" I did today. If this is the team I came out of the real draft with, I'd do a cartwheel.

Your Team
1. Daniel Sedin (Van - LW)
2. Martin Brodeur (NJ - G)
3. Alexander Semin (Was - RW)
4. Tuukka Rask (Bos - G)
5. Dan Boyle (SJ - D)
6. Daniel Alfredsson (Ott - RW)
7. Paul Stastny (Col - C)
8. Brad Richards (Dal - C)
9. Taylor Hall (Edm - LW)
10. Ryan Whitney (Edm - D)
11. Lubomir Visnovsky (Anh - D)
12. Victor Hedman (TB - D)
13. Tyler Seguin (Bos - C)
14. Jonas Gustavsson (Tor - G)
15. Claude Giroux (Phi - RW)
16. Ville Leino (Phi - LW)

Posted by: baldinho | September 23, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

We ARE the 801

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 23, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Why not just take Halak and Kiprusoff (when he's cut loose!) baldinho. Then you'd have the best ever team.

But I'm not bitter, or anything.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

More reason to use AdBlockPlus and to opt out of that Facebook widget. The WaPo site has enough technical issues without having to constantly ping every adbroker they wh0re themselves out to. I understand the need to have an advertising based revenue model, but when the ads crash computers and lock browsers, something has to give.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and you want Gioanta and Yserman, I think.

I still don't understand how fantasy leagues work, but if I had Brodeur and Stastny, I'd be pretty happy.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Just don't take any Leafs baldinho, no good comes of that! Actually spoke to a fan the other day who was primed for the Leafs to make it into the playoffs this season - is is fall the delusion of Leaf fans is rampant, I am thinking by October 20 the sad reality will emerge :).

Yello, I may not forgive you for the Miley link!

Posted by: dmd3 | September 23, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that sadly true, dmd? I remember when I was a little (like, 4 years old) kid in Edmonton, and my older brother got a Leafs jersey for Christmas, and I got a Habs. I just laughed in his face. I pwnd him, even then.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I love hockey to an embarrassing degree. Sorry, dear Boodle.

But remember, I have a sports-crush on Ovechkin. Balanced, I think.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Let's just hope Justin Bieber never sings any hair metal power ballads.

And here is another reason to have a garden:

You can grow vegetables large enough to fend off bears with. (I just scored a BoodleTrope double play.)

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Went to a great Harry Connick Jr. show last night at the Britt ( much to my wife's delight. Harry came out on crutches. Earlier in the afternoon while I was racking leaves, Harry and another guy were working out on the hill with a personal trainer and at the end of the session the trainer had them run wind sprints up the hill. About the fourth sprint up the hill, Harry suddenly fell clutching his calf. He said it felt like it got hit by a rock.
He did a great show, no warmup acts, piano, singing and a nice trumpet number with the featured trombone player, mostly New Orleans jazz. 18 piece orchestra and an eighteen man, one woman crew (she runs the Harry spot). They are traveling up the left coast in four buses doing a concert every night. Amazing this morning when I cleaned up, not a single beer bottle. Usually the concert groups leave behind a couple cases of beer bottles laying around along with an assortment of wine and booze bottles back stage and in the dressing rooms. His only negative in my view he professed on stage for a preference for FUGI bottled water. Many of those bottles found in the trash. Another weird thing. The groups forward their preference for the pre-concert dinner that the Britt provides. Like Jewel wanted baked salmon, others some other kind of meat dishes. Harry wanted Mac & Cheese and grilled chicken with bacon.
Bonus performance. Before the concert the full moon came up above the stage followed by Juniper. When I got darker, could clearly see a bright Juniper moon on the left side. Clear blue sky, temp during the outdoor concert 65 degrees coasting down to 60 at 10 PM.
Best thing about working there, employees get to park in the musicians parking lot in front of the pavilion.

Posted by: bh72 | September 23, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Texting fatalities are equivalent to vaporizing < = 3,000 on purpose, in what world? Is that why your apologizer in chief says screw a higher body count in the surge to destruction in Afgahnistan, "I'm taking them home so I don't disappoint my left-eyed, weenie-hawks in Move-On, Code Pinky, etc." Don't y'ah got to admire a man who sticks to the principles of the craziest bunch of cuckoos in history?

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

To counter all the hockey talk, here is another football related listicle.

It over-rates FedEx Field and gives short shrift to Soldier Field.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

RichNomore, is there something you want to say?

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: bh72 | September 23, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse


There are lots of people, some women in fact, who can no longer pay anything to him BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE GROUND! Achen-Blogging has really attracted some extremists lately.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 23, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I was hesitant, but now feel comfortable feeling dreadful pity for illness.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Portmanteau of 'list' and 'article'. Originally a staple of magazines (10 Places to Go Right Now, 32 Tricks to Turn On Your Man), but also a common feature of websites (Top Ten Emmy Fashion Disasters, Worst Photoshopped News Images (a recent WaPo one)) trying to up pageviews.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, yello. Now I get it.

Posted by: Yoki | September 23, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Candlestick Park was named for its location. Next to a shallow cove in southern San Francisco Bay where old sailing vessels, especially abandoned during the gold rush were sent. When they sunk, their masts stuck up out of the water for many years like candlesticks.

Posted by: bh72 | September 23, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, it's late and the wife is out of town and I had a long day at the office. Now the paranoia is starting to creep into my life. RE: The Katy Perry kerfuffle - There was nothing there that you can't see on many if not most tweens and teens at school or at the mall. Now, given the world wide web, is it possible that some of the "bad guys" are infiltrating all these blogs and commentary sites and trying to instill a particulary sinister regressive attitude towards women. First cover them up from neck to knee; then maybe cover from head to toe; then maybe say they don't belong in public without an escort? Again, it's late. Maybe bed is best.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 23, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

I'm disappointed that the PBS folks caved in over the Katy Perry/Elmo Sesame Street video. I don't think that many 5-year olds would have the slightest bit of discomfort over it. And there's nothing odd or objectionable about it IMO either.

yello, as much as I like GNR, I like the Poision version better. Saw a band do a fairly faithful cover of "Talk Dirty to Me" a few nights back -- couldn't help but laugh and sing along. I wonder if GNR (what's left of them, anywyay) still covers the Stones' "Wild Horses?" That was always a favorite when I saw 'em back in the day.

LiT, thanks for the reminder to oil my neck and jaw bolts.

Facebook's having problems and I'm not.


Posted by: -bc- | September 23, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Jon Stewart is interviewing King Abdullah II tonight. I'm beginning to think he needs to be nominated for an Emmy for straight news next time around.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 23, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that was bracing. I spent some time playing over at the "Checkpoint Washington" blog in the comments section of a post about Ahmadinejad's remarks at the U.N.

ScienceTim showed up long enough to (somewhat diplomatically) let us Checkpoint commenters know that he thinks we are sad examples of Americans. [Thanks, Tim!!] It was nice to see a familiar face.
And what's up with the hand-wringing about Devil's Lake in North Dakota? I've seen the same A.P. story referenced at least half a dozen time in the past two days.

It's a bummer, and it's expensive, but the options for solutions are pretty clear. Drain (With pipes? Bucket brigades? Professional North Dakotan suck & spitters?) constantly (to the Sheyenne River, apparently) whenever it doesn't threaten to flood downstream areas, build up retention & flood control structures at the lake and downstream. And continue draining constantly whenever it doesn't threaten to flood downstream areas.

Otherwise, they're just messing around until the bandage rips itself off. That will be the day that the lake builds its own channel to the Sheyenne River outlet with no constraints and finds its own level.

Posted by: Bob-S | September 23, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Please, y'all, don't chase RichNomore off. Every time I become inured to one of our (*#%'ing {H2~i]<i)2) interesting characters, you scare 'em off.

I think sheit has promise!

Posted by: Bob-S | September 23, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

bh, Connick at Britt sounds great. There should be a Britt East in Jacksonville, Florida. I'm just not sure when the weather would be safe. There was a memorable Jazz Festival held in nonstop downpour, the small audience and performers sharing the big permanent stage-tent.

We were slow getting the Juniper Moon (or was that Jupiter?) due to rainless cloud. At the beaches, the water's almost uncomfortably warm, 84 degrees.

Tropical Storm Matthew looks like it could make a rain disaster in Honduras and maybe Belize.

Science has an important paper today on the Florida panther, concluding that importing 8 female panthers from Texas really did remedy a genetic inbreeding problem. I'm not adept in the rather complex genetic analysis that was applied.

Earlier this week, nesting figures for loggerhead sea turtles on Florida's Atlantic coast were released. It was a boom year. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge and associated Brevard County conservation beachfront includes only pieces of the important nesting beaches, but the public investment may be paying off.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 23, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

RichNomore - I'll be happy to refer to you more familiarly & specifically than "sheit", but as far as I know you've never self-identified as male, female, or even non-computer-generated human. And I'd hate to presumptuously limit my (or others') conception of you.

Posted by: Bob-S | September 23, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Bob -S-, sheit is perfectly fine. I'll just use "for brains" to round it out.

Posted by: baldinho | September 24, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

"Science" (not surprisingly) would rather not have the just-published paper immediately spread willy-nilly about the intertubes, and I respect that. But here's a little color commentary.

Bottom line: They're doing better, and us fans of vicious predatory cats love that fact. But habitat restriction's probably gonna knock 'em off eventually, so enjoy them while you can. But don't get too close. 'Cuz they're, you know, vicious. Especially when they're hungry.

Posted by: Bob-S | September 24, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse


Wry stories on stage.
Petted me well; I liked him.
Gone, though. Moving on.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 24, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

The Guardian's headline:

"Woman scares off bear with courgette"

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 24, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm awfully glad to see Wilbrodog and Wilbrod here.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Rare pleasure indeed
Poets, both woman and dog
like breeze, here then gone.

Posted by: Bob-S | September 24, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

can't shake this song today:

Posted by: -jack- | September 24, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Here's the Science news story, I think open-content:

The author list on the paper is impressive (but excluding Stuart Pimm, an academic star who did write a book titled "The World According to Pimm"). The late Dave Maehr had left the panther business for something less bruising, bears. His stint as a consultant had made enemies.

I bet Science will publish a letter or two disputing the panther paper. But on the whole, the paper brings consensus and clarity to a long-disputed subject.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 24, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Krugman does a nice job summarising what i thought about the GOP Pledge. He goes on to summarise what it would mean if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent, adding 3.7 trillion to the deficit, and presents one strategy for balancing the budget. imo, the Pledge is nothing more than talking points. kind of like the old ungawa joke: politician to an audience of native americans: We'll give you land!...UNGAWA! shout the NA's...We'll give you shelter!...UNGAWA! shout the NA's...We'll give you freedom!...UNGAWA!!! shout the NA's...later, the politician is admiring some horse in a corral and asks the village elder if he can go in and take a look. sure, replies the elder. just watch out that you don't step in the ungawa.

Posted by: -jack- | September 24, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

More Science: they've published online "Magnitude of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak". It was big.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 24, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

whoops. here's the link:

Posted by: -jack- | September 24, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Even if I was all on board with the death penalty, and even if I was all on board with Teresa Lewis deserving it, I'd still have a huge problem with a system that can come up with this recent result.

I have strong reservations about a system that can assign her to receive the death penalty (after being convicted of arranging the murder of her husband and stepson) while also assigning her boyfriend and his accomplice (after both were convicted of actually murdering her husband and stepson) to receive life imprisonment.

My reservations about this system are rapidly progressing from extreme discomfort to vehement objection, actually.

Posted by: Bob-S | September 24, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse

You're practically Canadian, Bob-S. We got real uncomfortable with the whole idea of capital punishment c. 1976.

Of course we also got real uncomfortable with any idea of denying our fellow-citizens equal rights round 'bout 2005.

Not that I care what you do with your society, of course.

Posted by: Yoki | September 24, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

All this hockey talk and it's going to be 95 degrees today! I'll admit to being excited, too. What that really means is that college basketball season is just around the corner. Now, that's when I am paying attention!

Just wanted to say hi to friends here. Plodding along with work. I will have to say that work takes work, especially in my case. I don't have any routine tasks that keep me busy. It's all development or creativity. The harder it gets, the earlier in the morning I have to rise and get the coffee going. Today, it was 4 am.

I am saving the WP articles and columns about the Republican bushel of mutually exclusive talking points for later as a dessert for getting a lot done. The best part about it is that the party of the elephant is getting so elated with their lead in the polls that they are getting honest about their goals of getting rid of Social Security and Medicare. Just keep that up. That's going to really help your cause.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 24, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

My most jarring doublethink moments about the GOP Pledge On America was the whole more tax cuts/repeal the stimulus/reduce the deficit troika. Robert Seigel was getting downright testy trying to get Rep. Kevin McCarthy to cop to any of the inconsistencies.

I am sooooo stealing 'War On Arithmetic' from Krugman.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

And from the list of people I didn't even realize were still alive:

Eddie Fisher. So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Jack love that link haven't heard that song in a long time, a great album.

I watched Stewart and Colbert, again a thank you to the Comedy Network here for broadcasting their shows one hour earlier - I can watch more often now. I thought Jon's interview with King Abdhulla was very good. I was intrigued by the King's accent, very nice to listen to.

Warm and muggy start to the day here, supposed to be quite warm 28c and rainy today before cooler weather moves in.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 24, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

jkt, there was a decent segment with a couple of great guests on Olbermann talking about just this "small business" as defined by the Republicans baloney.

Their idea of a small business is an "S" corp which is only small when looking at ownership. This means that some of the large companies and law firms that are actually organized as S Corps are the future recipients and current funders of the the pledge on America.

I have mentioned the Koch Bros. often and they own hundreds of S Corps. It doesn't keep them from being 1/5th of the top ten richest Americans. As David Kaye Johnson mentioned last night, these corps already allow the owners to shelter or delay so much taxation. If I hear one more right-wing friend talk to me about family farms, I think I will puke. In the list is also Bechtel which is far from being like a family farm.

As Obama has said over and over, even if you have a family farm, you can make your first $250K without impact. This is just total hooey.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 24, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Bad news, from the show, Planet Money, on NPR, Toxie has died. They spent $1,000 on a toxic asset that they named Toxie. They got $480 or so back before the asset collapsed.

A listener who followed the show wrote this song:

pretty funny!

Posted by: russianthistle | September 24, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I really can't tell if Faux News is pulling an "Onion" with the slideshow that accompanies this tinfoil advertisement:

And I'm sure it's totally a coincidence that the GOP is "Pledging" just as "Money Never Sleeps" is hitting the theaters... *raised unibrow*

And here's a sad commentary on the state of research (and the gullibility of even Nobel winners):

I'm really looking forward to the weather front coming through and pushing the midsummer muggies outta here...

*TFSMIF-and-only-5-weeks-to-the-big-event-and-you-know-what-I-mean Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 24, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Just in case you don't have a Koran of your own, you can read the one owned by John Adams online.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning Everyone. Now that it is officially Autumn I am thinking I should segue from Hawaiian shirts on Friday to flannel. Except, of course, it has to stop being so obnoxiously hot first.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 24, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Buck just needs to resubmit the papers to the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

RD -- split the diff with a nice and bold madras plaid shirt. You can pull off hot turquoise and magenta, perhaps with some chrome yelllow -- the CMYK colors!

Off to teach. Since I cannot assign this topic to an essay, I will request this here:

Poodle Abuse or Poodle Amore
Defend your thesis in five paragraphs, with citation. Use three of your five SAT vocab words for today.

(post modern, debacle, defenistrate, piebald, cerise)

This will help you visualize the abombination or total a-bomb slammin' epic non FAIL

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 24, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, YJ, that fact will be the did-you-know of the day for my students.

I keep trying to show them that facts are not arguable....enter the B00bietrapthinker who will say: how do you know that this is not the LUNAR LANDING.

Lunacy! I shall try to stab and parry back. Oh, the things I do in the name of reason....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | September 24, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, ladles and gentlespoons. There is a new Kit.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 24, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

There is a recently discovered 'bawdy' poem attributed to John Milton. It is far too risque to quote here, but it can be found at the bottom of this article:

But scholars say the style is so unlike him that they suspect it is a fraud. I smell a certain thousand year old curmudgeon.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 24, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

CqP-re the b00bie, I like the Barney Frank response "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

Terrible dreary weather in MN today and I must be on the road this afternoon to Chez Frostbitten. Frostdaddy is on his way for the annual grouse hunting trip and I have a weekend of vacation rental linen laundry ahead.

dmd-I am going to watch the full King Abdullah interview online after I leave the boodle. I know he was educated in England so that accounts for some of his accent but it doesn't have the stereotypical middle easterner goes to Oxford sound. His blue eyes reminded me of my Jordanian stick buddy in flight school.

yello-my reaction exactly to Eddie Fisher's death.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 24, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Don't go, Wilbrod.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 24, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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