Discover a new way to find and share stories you'll love… Learn about Reading Desk

Blog Profile / Achenblog


URL :http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog
Filed Under:News / Independent News
Posts on Regator:520
Posts / Week:3
Archived Since:April 20, 2011

Blog Post Archive

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, […]

Sports Monday: Why the Nats could go all the way

It’s not clear to me how someone can be a baseball “fanatic.” The game is so mellow, so pastoral. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack: This is not a sport where grown men go shirtless with body paint. I went to Nationals Park the other day and did not exactly follow every pitch. Instead […]

Dorito, ergo sum

Today’s question: How do we know anything is real? It’s maybe the oldest question there is — whether the world we perceive is an illusion. A toddler has no theory of mind and is a solipsist, and perhaps the child is right after all. “The Matrix” movies updated Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and the […]

How Twitter was invented in the Stone Age

You always hear about the opposable thumb as the thing that separates us from the rest of the primates. Homo sapiens makes tools. We are engineers. It’s all about the thumb. Other primates have opposable thumbs, too, but not in the same way; they can’t grip a power drill the way we can, and they’re […]

Free Michael Bradley

Today’s obsession will be the USA-Germany World Cup match in Brazil, where we will happily settle for a draw, even a spiritless 0-0 snoozer, as this result would ensure both teams advance to the knockout round and mean a more relaxing game for everyone concerned. I think we can all agree that the last USA […]

What do you do when the world is on fire?

Just made a quick trip to Florida, saw the family, and spent a little time on the beach, pondering the eventual boiling away of the oceans, and in the nearer term the fires of the Middle East. Question: Is it okay to frolic at the beach and get heavily involved in World Cup soccer, directing […]

What a good writer needs most

Feeling oracular again, I want to share a thought about good writing after first clearing my throat for a few paragraphs. (A good writer knows how to pad a blog item.)   Good writing requires a number of different skills. A good writer needs to revere language, obviously, and knuckle down at the keyboard, cutting […]

Copyright © 2011 Regator, LLC