Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And don't call me Shirley

"We no longer enslave animals for food purposes." --Commander William T. Riker (Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Lonely Among Us")

What exactly is Who Hash, anyway?
"Soylent Green is Who!"
"What is Soylent Green?"
"No, Soylent Green is Who!"
"Who is Soylent Green?"

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's not what you think

You're thinking, yeah, yeah, seen it before. It isn't that hard to do. You select an area and desaturate the color in that area. It seems to be a lot of folks' favorite image editing trick. But that's not what's going on here.

If you follow the link back to her Flickr photostream, you'll see several other angles on the same people, including one taken for the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a gray Santa suit, a gray wig, gray body paint, and gray contact lenses. you have to get really close in to see the only color she couldn't cover, the pink corners of her eyes.


Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas story...

...about a singer-songwriter having lunch at the L.A. Farmer's Market, and four costumed Christmas carolers who had absolutely no idea who he was.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's cooler than seeing the ISS from Earth?

Why, catching an astronaut in mid-spacewalk working on it.

These shots were taken by Ralf Vandebergh in his backyard with a 10-inch telescope.

Remember when those removed introductory scenes from Star Wars got out? The scenes where Luke is casting his gaze skyward and watching the space battle in which Vader captures Leia? I remember criticism that the scene was unrealistic because Luke wouldn't be able to see the battle from the ground.


Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Toll tunnel under east Atlanta?  

A controversial concept to link Ga. 400 to I-675 by digging under east Atlanta has for a couple of years found its way onto some policymakers’ wish lists. But this month it found itself someplace better: Among the state Department of Transportation’s top toll projects pitched to private investors and road-building companies.

...“The tunnel is the one project that absolutely, head and shoulders above every other P3, moves the needle the most on congestion mitigation and mobility,” said David Doss, who chairs the state Transportation Board’s committee on such projects.

However, I know I'm not going to live long enough to see this happen. For the last fifty years, Atlanta residents have been fighting with the GDOT to keep these roads from being built. The odd arrangement of the area interstates makes more sense when you know what the original plans were.

BLUE ROUTE: I-675 Of course Ga 400 and I-675 were meant to be one continuous route through Atlanta. They would both have connected to that stretch of I-20 that runs nearly north-south at Glenwood. But a lot of money lives at Druid Hills. A tunnel? Well, I wouldn't have thought the MARTA north line tunnel was feasible, so sure, I'll buy it.

RED ROUTE: I-420 Both ends of the existing Langford Parkway (nee Lakewood Freeway) make it obvious that the road was intended to go further. For all I care it still can: There's quite a bit along the proposed route that would benefit from being demolished.

GREEN ROUTE: I-475 The area's most notorious aborted road project is the one that was supposed to connect downtown Atlanta to Athens via Stone Mountain. Every time I drive Ponce de Leon, I weep at the traffic load it is forced to bear, and the skinny little parks alongside that represent the land GDOT had acquired for the project. Now, of course, it cannot be built without moving the Carter Center, which sits exactly where the I-475/675 junction was supposed to be. Damn hippies.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I thought they already did

AMC Theater Chain Bans All Outside Snacks:

After reporting a loss in the 2nd quarter of this year, AMC is doing what it can to increase revenue. Since the business model of movie theaters is to give all the ticket sales to the studios and scrape out a living on concessions, that means forcing more patrons to buy snacks--so it's officially banning any outside food and drink.

(SmartSpending notes that Regal Entertainment already has a similar ban in place.)

Well, of course, since security scanners have been perfected at airports (and didn't that go over well?), this opens up a whole new market for them.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Christmas collection from Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has at various times revolutionised folk, rock, country and gospel music. However, any Dylan fan who says he was not surprised that Bob has released an album of traditional Christmas songs is pulling your leg. Christmas In The Heart is another surprising move by an artist famous for surprises. Yet when you hear Dylan's direct and obviously sincere readings of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Little Town Of Bethlehem’ and ‘The First Noel’, this unlikely exercise seems of a piece with the rest of Dylan's work.

From the very first, this was an artist who made us look at the familiar with new eyes and ears. While some critics tie themselves into knots analyzing Dylan's motives, it has usually turned out that Bob Dylan means exactly what he says.

For the first half or so of this article, I had to think that Bob Dylan must be one of the world's worst interview subjects. Ultimately I realize that he is, but not for the reason I thought. You shouldn't have to explain what art is about. If you do, then either the art has failed, or the viewer/listener has. And at this late date, Dylan knows what he's doing and what he's capable of.

Your version of ‘The Christmas Song’ is right in the pocket. You slide into that song like you’ve been singing it all your life. You also sing the intro (“All through the year we waited…”) which most people leave out. I don’t think Nat King Cole used that intro – why did you bring it back?

Well, I figured the guy who wrote it put it in there deliberately.

Bwah hah. What a wild idea: Sing the song as written.

From The Big Issue in Scotland.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Should SF Magazines Fight Off Extinction?

If you're going to put someone's name on the cover, why should it be some obscure SF writer's name? Like anybody's going to know or care who Harlan Asimov is?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Man, 96, holds pre-emptive wake

BEAVERTON, Ore., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A 96-year-old photographer in Oregon said he decided to plan and hold his own wake prior to his death so he could attend the event.

Hugh Ackroyd, 96, said he held the wake for family and friends Sunday at the Beaverton home of friend Edda Sigurdar, The Oregonian reported Monday.

"Well, why not?" Ackroyd said of leading his own wake. "Why bother when (I'm) dead?"

Ackroyd, a father of two whose wife died about 12 years ago, sat in his padded wheelchair and greeted his friends as they arrived for the event. He said one of his favorite items at the wake was a wreath bearing a ribbon reading: "Eventually, Hugh, rest in peace."

"It's quite magnificent," Ackroyd said of his wake.

Now we can advertise the Bumpers Crossroads episode "Bradbury's Funeral Home" as being "ripped from tomorrow's headlines". Although, Ron, I have to say I'm sorry you didn't think of that wreath.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Monday, November 09, 2009

Phrenotherapy on the go

Apparently they've chosen to go with the "happiness hat" instead of "electroyamulke" or "phrenobeanie".

Is this a joke? I'm not sure, but I don't think so.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Best Ad Placement Ever

Perhaps I shouldn't admit what time of day I found this...

PS. Hope it's real.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Friday, October 30, 2009

I don't think that word means what you think it means

On most levels, this cartoon works splendidly.

I can't know if this is the case nationwide, but here in Atlanta, our NPR affiliate is one of the few stations in town that doesn't overcompress its sound. That is, it presents a well-engineered dynamic range in which the loud passages are undistorted and the soft passages are actually pianissimo soft. It is actually possible to hear the odd moment of silence on NPR.

Every other station in town, I feel like I've been beaten with a blunt instrument after listening for a half hour. And that's the music stations: The talk stations are worse. Even when I agree with what's being said, I can't stand to listen to it for very long.

But "truth"? I find it hard to believe that even you, NPR, would describe your content that way.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Noises Off II

Last December, the above-referenced production of That Christmas Play went before the boards, although according to Mark Evanier it might have been better to have the boards go first and let the play follow as best it could.

Ya wanta know the topper? The same producer is trying to put it together again this year as a road show (as if the technical and mechanical problems will be easier to fix in a different venue every two or three performances), but two of the six planned cities have not booked yet, and a third just cancelled. 

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don't worry, be happy

A gorgeous fall here on the upper Mississippi, but among the old grumblers I drink cheap coffee with, the mood these days is dark, due to low interest rates and the advance of the glaciers, which is why I, sunny optimist that I am, seek out the company of the young and ebullient and drink $4 coffee, but sometimes you get stuck next to some old guy in a plaid shirt who gives you an earful about Wall Street bonuses and how the game is rigged in favor of the custom-tailored suits, and you must be polite and listen.

"Look at this. A person saves his money like he was brought up to do and he salts it away in a safe CD or Treasury note or municipal bond and it pays him a measly 2 percent interest. Why? Because the Fed has decreed we gotta have low interest to save the high-fliers and speculators who almost brought the roof crashing down a year ago, and they pour money into Goldman Sachs and these killer sharks walk away with a hundred billion in bonuses, and meanwhile guys are losing their shirts in the dairy business. What's the deal there?"

"There is a lot of human nature involved in economics, so if you are an idealist, you should take up astronomy," I tell him.

"I'm serious," he says. "You drive out west of here and you see headlights in the fields at midnight, guys putting in 16-hour days combining beans, and back east you've got people in offices with a phone in each hand, moving money around, not creating a damn thing, just playing a game, and the government can't do enough for them. Where's the fairness in that?"

"I saw your beautiful wife the other day and she looks 10 years younger," I say. "She said that you two can't keep your hands off each other. Good for you. And how about those Vikings and Brett Favre? Six and oh. Life is good. And how about those maple trees? Have you ever seen such colors?"

"This country is skidding toward disaster and the guy you elected president has his foot on the gas."

"You need to get out and walk more, Earl," I tell him, "and not sit and brood about interest rates. Life is too short to be unhappy."

Ah, I see. When Keillor talks about the "old grumblers I drink cheap coffee with", he means republicans. Just settle down, you old coots. We've got the ball now.

I hate holding a grudge, but it's hard to resist when I'm being condescended to. Are these the same people who were telling us recently that the highest form of patriotism is expressing dissent? Or was that Bush Derangement Syndrome at work?

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ARTC on PBA Atlanta

Atlanta Radio Theatre Company

The popularity of radio theatre waned with the advent of television, but a group of actors, writers, and sound technicians in Atlanta is maintaining this largely forgotten art form.

The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (or ARTC, pronounced “Art-see”) has entertained, amused, thrilled, and terrified audio drama enthusiasts since 1984. Although specializing in horror and science fiction, ARTC shows its mastery of the art and craft of audio drama in any number of genres. Bill Ritch, the group’s president, says the appeal of radio theatre lies in the storytelling tradition. ARTC is just spinning a spooky tale around the campfire, so to speak, but with sound effects!

ARTC shows have been featured on a number of radio stations in Atlanta, but currently the best way to experience them is via CD or podcast. Or, for the full-on ARTC experience, you can attend one of their live shows at Stage Door Players in Dunwoody. There, you can see just how they craft their sound effects and manipulate microphone placement to achieve their atmospheric audioscapes and create adventures in sound.




Watch the video here »

Hey, Mom, I'm on TV!

Actually, these days, our live shows are at the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates. In fact, there's one coming up this Saturday and Sunday, and you should drop everything and head over there. Right now. Hey, you want a good seat, right?

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome to the loyal opposition: Glad to have you

All I can say is: the president gave a speech he could have given at any point in the last three years. No one in that room could disagree with any of the things he said. I sure don't (with the exception of the hate crimes hooey). And he said it well and movingly. Like we didn't know he could do that.

But the point of electing a president who pledged to actually do things is to hold him to account, and to see if he is willing to take any risk of any kind to actually do something. I had a few prior tests of his seriousness or signs that he gets it, a few ways to judge if this speech had anything new or specific or clear. He failed every test.

It does not please me to see the President's support base question his ability to deliver on his promises, or his will to do so. I feel no victory, no compulsion to shout "I told you so".

God knows Obama has plenty on his plate. Around about the time the banks started failing, he must have looked at his campaign advisors and said, "Somebody remind me why I wanted this job." I would think that Gay Rights would be rather low on his priorities just now. But Andrew Sullivan is surely right to be disappointed that even Joe Solmonese (chair of the Human Rights Campaign) does not intend to hold the President's feet to the fire on the subject.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chock full of awesome

Okay, here are the raw facts:
UQAM: University of Quebec at Montreal.
Soundtrack: Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling."
Cast: 172 communications majors.
Takes: ONE.

PLUS: Six more one-take wonders, including That Honda Commercial.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Don't trust anyone you meet online. You could regret it."

I'iaaa! Cthulu fatagn!

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master


Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

A letter to someone

Look, I'm just going to delete the Japanese / Korean / whatever-the-heck-they-are comments on old posts. If I can't tell they're not spam, out they go. And since I have comment approval enabled, no one but me will ever see them anyway. So just give up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The lost city of Atlantis-- er, Atlanta

I've been trying to place this intersection more precisely than "downtown connector", without success. Can anyone tell me where this is?

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ARTC at DragonCon 2009, continued

This is ARTC's Sunday night show at DragonCon 2009. This is "Rory Rammer: Enemies Within" and "Omnilingual", in the Hyatt Regency's Regency Ballroom. (No, I don't stutter.) Again, we did not FILL the ballroom, but the house wasn't much smaller than Saturday's show. We appreciate that even more, since due to a communications snafu many of our attendees were expecting "Call of Cthulhu".

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

ARTC at DragonCon 2009

This is a slightly color- and exposure-corrected shot of ARTC's Saturday night show at DragonCon 2009. This is "Call of Cthulhu", in the Marriott Marquis' Atrium Ballroom. We did not FILL the ballroom, but I'd estimate at least 500 in attendance, and we appreciate every one of them.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Monday, August 31, 2009

 soft on cheats?

By Heather Vogell

Keylina Clark was puzzled when her son told her shortly after taking state standardized tests last year that he knew he’d passed.

Dequayvious struggled mightily in school. His Blalock Elementary report cards said he was below grade level in reading and math. Then the second-grader explained his confidence: A test proctor gave him answers, he said. Clark believed him.

Atlanta Public Schools, however, apparently did not. Though two other students supported the boy’s claim, the district marked the complaint unsubstantiated.

Considering the hundreds of thousands of test-takers each year, formal complaints about test cheats are relatively rare.

The Atlanta district, however, has received more such claims given its size than any of the five other large metro districts, an AJC investigation shows. The newspaper also found the district’s handling of 20 cheating complaints in three school years raises questions about how it polices its educators.

Atlanta’s investigations differed from those of its metro peers in key ways, the AJC found. Investigators sometimes left allegations unresolved, turning up fresh questions about suspected irregularities but never scrutinizing them. The district was more likely to mark complaints unsubstantiated. Fewer teachers stepped forward to help investigators and more complaints were anonymous, making eye-witnesses harder to find.

And in three years, records show, just two teachers left after the district found cheating. Departures were more frequent in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.

more via ajc.com

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

APS cheating questions fall on Superintendent Beverly Hall

AJC investigative reporter Heather Vogell’s story in the weekend AJC raises troubling questions about the response of Atlanta Public Schools to CRCT cheating complaints. Vogell compares Atlanta’s responses and protocols to those of other districts.

APS does not fare well in the comparison.

For instance, Atlanta logged 20 internal complaints of testing misconduct over the past three school years.

Compared to other metro systems, Atlanta sometimes left allegations unresolved, turning up fresh questions about suspected irregularities but never scrutinizing them, according to Vogell’s report.

The district was more likely to mark complaints unsubstantiated. Fewer teachers stepped forward to help investigators and more complaints were anonymous, making eyewitnesses harder to find.

Over three years, Vogell found that the district began termination proceedings against just two teachers after cheating was found. Departures were more common in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.

In Cobb County, educators appeared quick to report potential problems with testing protocol. When the district determined a serious breach was committed, the outcome was often severe: Five teachers resigned over the three years.

DeKalb and Fulton reported fewer complaints, but also stiff consequences for serious misconduct. Seven educators left as a result of 17 investigations in the two counties. Gwinnett had one resignation. Clayton reported few complaints and no departures.

In Atlanta, one of the teachers who left after after an investigation had been disciplined for an earlier testing rule offense.

CRCT cheating is in the news because of a state probe suggesting cheating occurred in schools in four districts, including one APS school. APS Superintendent Beverly Hall has challenged the state Board of Education’s decision to discard results from last summer’s fifth-grade CRCT math retests at Atlanta’s Deerwood Academy.

The state school board ruled against Deerwood and three other Georgia schools after an audit by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement found evidence of an abnormal number of erasures on the tests. The state investigation followed an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December about improbably steep gains at some schools on tests taken first in spring and then in summer.

Hall defended Deerwood and hired her own investigator who concluded that “irregularities” in the school’s testing process stemmed from negligent record keeping, laziness and not following the rules rather than deliberate cheating.

Hall’s reaction raised questions about whether APS is willing to honestly confront CRCT cheating complaints. Vogell’s story is likely to prompt more questions.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Four strings good, six strings bad

Originally uploaded by
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | My Prom debut... on the ukulele: "Musician Jim Simmons signed up to join a chorus of 1,000 ukulele players at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. But how did it sound?"

"It probably wasn't the most beautiful noise ever to have come out of the proms but it was a joyful experience."
It is difficult to play the ukulele without breaking into a grin. Certainly I've never managed it.

The BBC story also has a link to an audio of the 1,000-ukulele rendition of "Ode to Joy."

By the way:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Worst Line Reading Ever

Ryan O'Neal in "Tough Guys Don't Dance". Do we blame the writer, the actor, or the director?

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remember the NCIS cameo?

If you're a-hankerin' for something to keep the dust down, Woot!'s deal today is a Roomba for $129.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Which TV stars are coming to DragonCon?

AJC: Which TV stars are coming to DragonCon? Leonard Nimoy, John Schneider, Malcolm McDowell, Lou Ferrigno, Patrick Stewart.

Well. okay. But which radio stars are coming? Eh? Eh?

That's why you should see the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, whose big shows will be on Saturday (in the Marriott) and Sunday (in the Hyatt). We'll also do a relatively low-key reading on Friday (in the Marriott). Frankly, I suggest you bring your DVR, plug it into your room TV, and record the convention video channel (which will have a much better view of the Masquerade, Dawn Look-Alike contest, and key panels than you could possibly have in person), then come see ARTC (who apparently don't rate coverage on the convention video channel).

Bitter? Me? Naah.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why I "friended" Sarah Palin

(Sorry, can't be embedded. Picture links to YouTube, where the video is hosted.)

I can address this thing a couple of ways.

1: Katie Couric asks Sarah Palin a stupid question.
"What newspapers and magazines did you read, before you were tapped for this, to stay informed...?" I expect better questions of Weekly Reader, never mind the editor in chief of the CBS Evening News. What kind of answer could Palin possibly give that wouldn't sound moronic?

Well, the one she gave. "All of them." She did her best to turn it into a sensible answer without discarding the question entirely. When Couric insisted on following up, asking for specific journals, Palin responded to the preconceptions that could lead a respected reporter to ask such a question. "Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kinda suggested," and you can see Couric lose interest in the topic here, "it seems like 'Wow, how can you keep in touch with what... Washington DC may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?' "

Seems to me Palin deserves a little credit for saying "it's kinda suggested" instead of "you're suggesting".

2: Who deserves to be laid out by "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker"?
Nobody. The Reebok commercials are amusing because, as in all cartoon violence, nobody really looks hurt, just inconvenienced. But "Palin" (a double by this point, I'm sure) goes down hard and stays down. This is funny? This is legitimate political debate?

I love Horatio Caine jokes

CSI Notre Dame: "Now you're gonna get it."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Everything Old is New

AJC: School uniforms: The look of change in ’09:
When the new school year started last week, students at Gwinnett County’s Simonton Elementary had a new look - a uniform look.

Hannah Montana T-shirts, blue jeans and sandals were out, replaced by collared shirts in black, yellow and white with coordinating shorts, skirts and slacks and closed-toe shoes.

Miles away in Clayton County, the trend toward uniform dress, which was already in the elementary and middle schools, became the countywide standard as it moved into the high schools.
My son, a senior in hgh school, has been wearing uniforms since sixth grade. I guess it's only news when it hits suburban schools.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Actually, it was Virus X


No, man, Kryptonian appendixes (appendices?) don't get appendicitis. They have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal appendices.

Posted via web from Dreaded Purple Master

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Solar traffic control, fender-bender at Saturn

What the hell punched through Saturn's f-ring?

They don't know yet. Hubble was down for maintenance, but they quickly pointed a camera at Saturn to try to get some idea what's going on.

Maybe it's V'ger. Or the Enterprise screaming through, trying to beat it to Earth. (Sorry, thirty year old jokes are the best I can do. Still haven't seen Wall-E.)

Boy, the solar system is falling apart lately. First that scar on Jupiter's butt, now this.

And never mind that Chairface business...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is this me?

SuperlativeCan't be. I don't speak French.

Oh, and I don't drink beer, either.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Crisis on Infinite Blogs

Obviously, I owe you an apology for having been so inactive here. At any given moment, 30% of bloggers are beginning a post with the same apology. (Data courtesy of PNOOAH[tm]. If I need a statistic, I just Pull Numbers Out Of A Hat.)

So now I go through the same navel-gazing everyone else does. (It's a state law, I think.) Do I Really Need a Journal? Or a Blog? Or a Twitter? Or a Tumblr? In fact, I have three personal pages, six blogs, two livejournals, two twitters, and a tumblr, plus two flickr photostreams and two facebook pages, plus six more miscellaneous social network pages--and therein lies the problem.

If I don't have time to follow me, how can I possibly expect anyone else to do it?

I just don't have that much to say. And the things I do want to say, I'm not sure who I want to say them to.

'Way back when I only had one blog, I said whatever I had to say there. Then, those who advise other bloggers agreed that a blog should have a subject, a focus, in order to attract readers. When I started these boatanchors, I had a plan for each of them. Comic book stuff over here, politics over there, sex over yonder, pictures over thataway, you know. Folks can find what they're interested in and not be bored or offended by the rest. A place for everything and everything in its place.

But now I have too many places and not enough things.

If I figure out what to do about this, you'll be the first to know.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day was 65 years ago today

The order from General Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied expeditionary force: You are about to embark upon a great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving peoples everywhere march with you.

You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your children and neighbors thank you for this priceless service.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Il Pianeta Proibito

Originally uploaded by waffyjon
Isn't Anne Francis just so... adorable?
Isn't Leslie Nielsen just so... Leslie Nielsen?
Doesn't the Italian title sound so... provocative?

(More posters at Jon's Random Acts of Geekery.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fantasies are healthy, right?

ADDENDUM: Well, actually, in Superman v2 #130, there was this Halloween party...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Lessons from Maurice LaMarche.

Extra credit: Practice along with "Rocket Man".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh, no, not another conspiracy

modern perspective Originally uploaded by Mr. Mark
Yes, I saw that a goodly fraction of the blogosphere has leapt upon this report from Politico:
For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.
As I say, I saw that report. I've seen an ever-increasing number of bloggers spreading the word.

I've even read Ezra Klein's description of what JournoList is. He's the founder and organizer, if that's not too strong a word to use for a listserv mailing list. (In my own experience moderating mailing lists, I "organize" them only in the sense that the person who cleans out a litter box "organizes" it.)

Having read and digested this...Well, actually, I'm thinking I shouldn't use the word "digested" so soon after talking about a litter box. But I believe I've arrived at a reasoned, reasonable reaction: So what?

Klein said:
The idea, then as now, was to foster a safe space where policy experts, academics, and journalists could freely talk through issues, bringing up the questions they considered urgent and the information they thought important, with the result being a more informed commentariat. It's been of immense value to me, and through that, of value to my readers.

As for sinister implications, is it "secret?" No. Is it off-the-record? Yes. The point is to create a space where experts feel comfortable offering informal analysis and testing out ideas.
This all sounds eminently reasonable. It's the 21st century equivalent of going out to the corner bar after work, granted more importance than it deserves because it's On The Internet.

(Oh: The photo has nothing to do with this story. I just thought it was purty.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our newspapers is still failing

newspaper blackout poem
Originally uploaded by Precious Roy
On March 2, RealClearPolitics ran with its list of the Top Ten newspapers in trouble. By the time the list appeared, one of the newspapers on it, the Rocky Mountain News, was already gone. 

This week, Time magazine has weighed in with its Top Ten "tim-berrrrr" list. The odds are pretty good that by the time the next issue hits the stands, one of those will be gone. Let's compare:

1Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Philadelphia Daily News
2Rocky Mountain News
Minneapolis Star Tribune
3Philadelphia Daily News
Miami Herald
4Miami Herald
Detroit News
5San Francisco Chronicle
Boston Globe
6Detroit News
San Francisco Chronicle
7Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
8St. Paul Pioneer Press
New York Daily News
9Los Angeles Times
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
10New York Daily News
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Hm. Two lists, twenty slots, but only fourteen newspapers named. It can't have been an easy story to write for either publication: It's not unlike openly speculating which of your aunts and uncles will die first.

I, in my amateur opinion, suspect the next to actually go will be the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, since Hearst is now openly weighing whether to close it outright or go online-only. It can't be a good sign that one of the links on their home page right now is a "tell us about your favorite P-I memories" solicitation. The Detroit News could surprise me and fold tomorrow, or they might be able to hang on for a few more weeks now that they only publish four days a week. 

If I were the average big-time blogger, I would be a lot more worried about this than they appear to be. Instead of congratulating myself for being right that Old Media didn't know how to make the transition to New, I would be wondering where the stories I link to tomorrow will come from.

All these newspapers are in trouble because... Well, they each have unique problems, but they all share two really big ones: (1) A whopper of an economic downturn kicked them in the gonads; and (2) they never really believed that the traditional daily newspaper could go away. The Business Insider is onto something when they calculate that for the New York Times, giving each of its subscribers a Kindle would cost half as much as publishing an actual newsprint daily. I'm hoping the all new, online Christian Science Monitor can show everyone how it's done.

C'mon, guys, it ain't whether to go digital, it's when and how. Change or die.