This morning, just as I concluded a consultation about Boko Haram’s latest overtures to ISIL with a distraught Nigerian diplomat, Gretchen buzzed me on the intercom. “Mr. Collins,” she told me, “there’s this old Southern lady on Line Two. She sounds exactly like Woody Allen imitating Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.” “Did this person give a name?” I asked. “Yes,” Gretchen answered, “she says she’s named Linsey or Linseed or something like that.” “And this person wants to speak with me?” I inquired. “Uh-huh,” Gretchen confirmed, “she seems pretty adamant about it.” “And this person,” I sought to confirm, “is haughty, arch and condescending but nevertheless obviously a pathetic bigot and a total ignoramus?” “Right,” Gretchen huffed, “she […]


Today, I conducted a telephone consultation with Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, part-time employee of the Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and co-author of The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun – Earth Connection; Proxy Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1000 Years; Modeling Climatic Effects of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Unknowns and Uncertainties; Estimation and Representation of Long-term ( > 40 year ) Trends of Northern-Hemisphere-gridded Surface Temperature: a Note of Caution; and, Variation in Surface Air Temperature of China During the 20th Century; as well as sole author of Non-equilibrium Kinetics in High Temperature Gases; Variable Solar Irradiance as a Plausible Agent for Multidecadal Variations in the Arctic-wide Surface Air Temperature Record of the Past 130 years; […]


Monday was Presidents Day, which is a federal holiday, thus sparing America, for twenty-four hours, at least, from the incompetence, ignorance and idiocy of the United States Civil Service. But as usual, federal holidays bring no respite for Gretchen or myself, since I have plenty of other clients to deal with; it’s simply a matter of booking their consultations solid every federal holiday from seven in the morning until six at night. My eleven o’clock appointment, for example, was Percy M. Filch, a senior partner in Steele, Filch and Robb, a K Street lobbying firm. True to his usual form, he had called for an appointment at the last minute on Friday afternoon and Gretchen only just managed to squeeze […]


Things were so hectic at the office today that leaving to eat lunch was simply not feasible. The new regime in Saudi Arabia, combined with the confrontation over debt resolution between Greece and the rest of the European Union had packed my schedule from six in the morning until eight at night. Amid the barrage of consternated diplomats and Washington apparatchiks, I had managed to carve out time for three ten minute espresso breaks and a half hour for lunch, starting promptly at noon. But fate had other plans for me. No sooner had I begun to tuck into the exquisite sushi Gretchen had ordered from SEI over in Penn Quarter, than she buzzed me on the intercom from the […]


My dear sister Rose’s oldest son, Hank Jr., came down to DC this week from Rhode Island, where he is studying art at Brown, in order to curate some recent modern art acquisitions for the Smithsonian. He brought along his current girlfriend, Lorelei, who is an English major. Hank Jr. dropped by my office on Friday for a brief visit between consultations and mentioned that while here in the Nation’s Capital, she would like to speak with me about “journalistic techniques for managing relations with powerful people in government.” I said sure, and had Gretchen book her for an appointment on Tuesday. Lorelei demurred, however, requesting a telephone conference instead, despite the fact that she was here in Washington. Her […]

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