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Blog Profile / Achenblog


URL :http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog
Filed Under:News / Independent News
Posts on Regator:526
Posts / Week:2.9
Archived Since:April 20, 2011

Blog Post Archive

The Charmin Dome over the White House

Every day my colleague Carol Leonnig has another amazing story about the tissue-thin defensive perimeter around the White House, where apparently you can jump the fence, run across the lawn, barrel through the unlocked front door and scamper around with wild abandon — doing what tourists have always dreamed of doing, like checking out the […]

Planck satellite shows BICEP2 telescope may have seen dust, not the big bang

We’ve all been waiting for this: the Planck dust map. It does not appear at first glance to be good news for the BICEP2 team. I’ll seek comment to add perspective, but it appears that Planck has detected dust at levels that could explain the entirety of the BICEP2 signal — something that the BICEP2 […]

Taxi to orbit: NASA goes with Old Space and New Space (with a cameo by Jeff Bezos)

Big news at NASA: The agency has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. So reports my colleague Chris Davenport. This keeps competition in the “commercial crew” program. It’s also a major achievement for Elon Musk and the several thousand employees of SpaceX who have turned a start-up company into […]

I shall wear my trousers rolled

One of my least favorite sayings is, “Getting old is not for wimps,” because, if true, I’m doomed. The slightest physical hardship serves as an excuse for protracted whining and self-pity. My philosophy is, never waste an opportunity to complain bitterly about a hangnail. If I get “the sniffles” that’s going straight on Facebook for […]

“It is an issue which can only be tried by war and decided by victory”

Just a quick note … I’m on holiday (as they say) in New England, completely removed from the warp and woof of Washington life, but I’ve been checking the sports scores and, with trepidation, the foreign news, and what’s going on at the White House, and it appears that we’re going to war again. One […]

Lincoln, the blind memorandum, and politics by other means

Everyone’s giving the president advice, telling him he’s screwing up, that he needs to change strategies, that he’s weak and too much of a compromiser, that he’s stubborn, that he’s facing political disaster in the upcoming election, and that these are the worst of times. President Lincoln, I’m talking about. Somehow I’ve got lost in […]

Kennewick Man and the Dorsets

It’s the  most beautiful morning ever here in Washington, but I’ve got Greenland on the brain, and the High Arctic, and permafrost, and seal meat. If you lived in the frozen north back in the day, you hunted seals, maybe lurking around the airholes so that when one popped up for a breath you could […]

The Burning of Washington (and excellent spin afterward)

Here’s my yarn on the burning of Washington 200 years ago Sunday. Great photos by Matt McClain, one of our extremely creative shooters, given an almost impossible assignment. My job was easy, I just wrote what Steve Vogel told me to write.   Excerpt: 7 a.m. Aug. 24, 1814 The day began like so many […]

Ferguson, Obama and justice

Like everyone else these days in the media, I watched President Obama’s statement on Iraq and Ferguson while simultaneously monitoring the reaction on Twitter. He was hammered right and left. General consensus: He seemed tired, passionless, overly measured and vague. He obviously wanted to talk about Iraq more than Ferguson — because there was good […]

Burnin’ down the (White) House

For an upcoming story, I’ve been busy looking for remnants of the War of 1812, which was a war fought between the United States and Britain, approximately in 1812. Not many people know very much about that war, including when it happened (again, not to be a bore about it, but roughly in 1812) and […]

Hillary Clinton takes on Barack Obama

Here we are witnessing the world on fire again, in multiple locations. August is never as slow as it ought to be. I think of it as the time my tomatoes ripen, but in some parts of the world it’s known as Fighting Season. The news from much of the world is so awful that […]

Hiccups could mean Ebola!

My pal G-Dub wrote a book called “The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death,” in which Chapter 7 carried the title, “Hiccups Can Mean Cancer.” I thought of Gene’s book yesterday when looking at the official Web site of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The hospital informs us of the symptoms of Ebola, […]

What the Ebola virus dreams about

[Been a little busy with Ebola in recent days. An American doctor has been evacuated from West Africa to Atlanta for treatment of Ebola virus disease -- see our story from Saturday. The outbreak is the worst in history. We'll stay on top of the story this week. In any case, I vaguely recalled that, […]

A day at the Andy Warhol Museum

We were talking art, and the 20th Century, and someone in the family mentioned Picasso and Andy Warhol and I reflexively said, in high dudgeon, “Andy Warhol doesn’t belong in the same sentence as Picasso.” But then my middle daughter, the art history major, said that in the Academy those two fellas are very much […]

Where have all the animals gone?

Here’s a phrase to remember: the Anthropocene defaunation. That’s a fancy way of saying that the animals are disappearing. Humans already did their worst in the Pleistocene, wiping out many of the largest terrestrial animals on Earth...Show More Summary

Secrets of happiness

Sometimes when I’m sitting in my cubicle at work, under the fluorescent lights, I realize that it’s been a long time since anyone called me “swashbuckling.” No matter. This is the life I have chosen, happily, freely, without regret, because the world needs the laborers and functionaries that keep the machinery going so that other […]

It feels like flying just got a little bit more dangerous

Flying just got a little bit more dangerous. That’s how this moment feels. I’m writing this on an airplane, looking at the words stitched into the back of the seat in front of me: Fasten Seat Belt While Seated. And thinking of the people found Thursday in that Ukraine field, some of them still buckled […]

Is Miami Beach drowning?

We learn from The Guardian that the front line in America’s battle against climate-change-induced sea level rise is Miami Beach, and specifically the area along Alton Road. I have fond memories of Alton Road — of cruising down that winding boulevard in my 1964 Cadillac convertible, livin’ large, lookin’ goofy. I worked in the cramped […]

Carl Sagan denied being an atheist. So what did he believe? [Part 1]

Every so often I get an email out of the blue about two sentences in a story published in The Post in 1996. I quoted Carl Sagan: “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no God.” People who contact me want to know […]

Buzz Aldrin calls NASA ‘adrift,’ wants to go to Mars, but first to White House

“Joel, this is Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 11. First lunar landing.” The message on my voicemail was, indeed, from that Buzz Aldrin, of that Apollo 11, and that first lunar landing. Aldrin — heck, let’s call him Buzz — had a lot to talk about. After two long phone interviews, I can safely report that Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, […]

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