Blog Profile / Achenblog


URL :http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog
Filed Under:News / Independent News
Posts on Regator:627
Posts / Week:2.1
Archived Since:April 20, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Is Thanksgiving compulsory?

Today we celebrate the underappreciated and mildly enigmatic national holiday known as The Wednesday Before Thanksgiving. It’s not as famous as Black Friday, formerly known as The Friday After Thanksgiving, nor is it as beloved, heartwarming and  fattening as Thanksgiving itself, which my sources tell me will fall this year once again on a Thursday. […]

Donald Trump is about to discover what a president does all day

Donald Trump may not like being president. This is not a job in which you merely speak to cheering crowds. This is a salaried job in which you have to show up for work every day and deal with problems so intractable they could not be solved at lower levels. You have to pick among […]

What I learned in Trump Country

Anyone out there? Anyone at all? That’s what the John Lithgow character says in the movie “The Day After” after trying to raise someone on the radio in the wake of a nuclear attack on Kansas City. A friend mentioned the movie to me Wednesday as we chatted on the sidewalk in downtown D.C. This […]

Election Day at last!

Our long national nightmare is almost over! It’s Election Day, meaning, the last day before the first day of the rest of your life. This is a day of personal transformation: In a few short hours we can become the kind of people who are no longer checking Nate Silver’s election forecast. It’s like a […]

R.I.P. Janet Reno, a formidable Floridian

  Janet Reno has died at the age of 78. She’ll be remembered as a long-serving and controversial attorney general during the (first?) Clinton administration. She was excoriated by the antigovernment far right for how she handled the standoff with Branch Davidians at Waco, Tex. She was pestered by Republicans to appoint special prosecutors every […]

Election Derangement Syndrome and how we got here

Everyone I know has Election Derangement Syndrome. They’re nine or 10 stages beyond being merely nervous, atwitter, jittery. They’re compulsively checking the polls, wandering dazed through the halls. They moan and keen and snivel. At night they have dreams of falling off a cliff, and in those dreams they try desperately to wake up before […]

Canadians think Americans have gone completely bonkers

It started as soon as I got to Montreal: The taxi driver, taking me downtown from the airport, asked about Donald Trump, and why he has so many supporters. The cabbie was dismayed by our entire political process. Why, he said, do these U.S. elections drag on for two years? Canada can get the whole […]

Bob Dylan’s Nobel: Like all geniuses, he works harder than the competition

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Wowzer! Here’s The Post’s story.  Much praise out there for the selection, with occasional grousing. The Post reports that Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh said this was an “ill-conceived nostalgia award” made for “senile, gibbering hippies.” That’s me! I have listened to Dylan since he came out with […]

Memory lane is quickly turning into a superhighway

I’m deep into the phase of life known as middle age and am struggling a bit with the implications, the main one being that middle age is actually a euphemism, if not an outright lie. Because you’re beyond the middle, indisputably and incontrovertibly. The “incontrovertibly” part of that is the hardest thing to accept. There […]

‘Deepwater Horizon’ movie gets the facts mostly right, but simplifies the blame

The movie “Deepwater Horizon” gets the facts right, and admirably so — but only up to a point. You could imagine all manner of ways in which Hollywood could have turned the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico into a more traditional disaster movie. You could invent love stories, improbable acts of square-jawed heroism, maybe […]

Mars is not a Plan B

Over at Speaking of Science I have posted a few thoughts on Elon Musk and his plan to colonize Mars. Shorter version: Putting even one person on Mars, never mind a million people, is going to be very hard. There is no single technological show-stopper. But the risks are cumulative, the costs are incalculable, things […]

Big universe, eerie silence: Thoughts on the search for aliens in space

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and one of my all-time favorite people in the space world — he’s funny, smart, available and always ready to produce a punchy quote on deadline — dropped by The Washington Post on Monday for a Facebook Live chat about the efforts to make contact with alien […]

The 4 biggest milestones in the history of life on Earth

It’s a great time to be alive and talking about life. We just learned that geologists found what appear to be fossilized stromatolites in 3.7-billion-year-old rocks in Greenland. That suggests life popped up on Earth ridiculously soon after the planet formed. And last we learned about the discovery of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the […]

New planet ‘Proxima b’ reminds us that the universe isn’t about us

We have been talking about new planets for, let’s see, about 21 years, ever since Swiss astronomers found one orbiting 51 Pegasus in 1995. Now we know that the universe is full of planets; they’re a routine element of star formation. At this point, it’s easy to get a little jaded about a new planet […]

An ode to local knowledge in the age of Google

[This post is in progress and will be updated.] This morning I was driving from National Airport, north on the GW Parkway, and had to laugh at the sign instructing motorists to follow signs for Route 50 if they want to reach Key Bridge. That will not work. I mean, it could, in theory, but […]

George Washington could have been a strongman, but kept giving power away

PHILADELPHIA — In an old brick building on Locust Street, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania this week displayed an early draft of the Constitution, with words and phrases scratched out, and one section marked with a big “X,” a wholesale deletion. Drafted by James Wilson sometime in July or August 1787, the text refers to “the […]

Live from Cleveland! We finally reach Peak Crazy

First, here’s Trump’s speech, as prepared for delivery. He may extemporize. Note the heavy law-and-order theme culminating in the final line: “We Will Make America Safe Again.” He also decries the “rigged system” enforced by elites. So it’s a fusion of Richard Nixon and Bernie Sanders. I wrote three pieces today: Capitalism vs. Communism on […]

‘Lunatic shortage in rest of world’ as Cleveland proves magnetic

We were walking through Public Square on Tuesday, and Dave Barry turned to me and said, “There’s got to be a lunatic shortage in the rest of the world, because there’s an awful lot of them around here.” As we reported: The big rallies and marches have been relatively orderly this week, but a simultaneous […]

After Dallas ambush, two presidents pray for unity

A president said this today in Dallas: At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has […]

Another heroic journey into the wilderness we call America

Last week I had to do some road-trip reporting that included much driving in the hinterlands. (Weirdly, when you type “hinterlands” into Google Maps you get a bar in Brooklyn; someone needs to adjust the algorithm.) I had a vague notion that I’d camp along the way, and therefore brought a few camping essentials: tent, […]

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