Calling customer service.

Today starts the Grand Experiment, i.e., no Detroit paper-made-of-paper on my doorstep today. Our progress so far…yesterday I got the Sunday Free Press, and no New York Times. On Sunday, this is like getting the bill and the mints at the cash register, but no breakfast. I actually had to read Albom. Alan insisted on calling for our copy, and it was delivered six hours later by an old man in a battered car. He walked with a limp as he made his way up the walk, but his manner was courtly and his apology, sincere. A new company is doing the delivery, he said, and this was an early glitch. So sorry.

Today there was a New York Times, but no Wall Street Journal. Since I can’t speak English until after my coffee, I opted to handle it online. In red type on the Services page:

Due to some delays in your area today, you may experience late or missed delivery of The Wall Street Journal. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

It’s sad when the old world meets the new. Nothing but blood on the floor. And yes, the ironies have occurred to me: This is happening on a day when the biggest local story in months is breaking. Also, that the person who pays more than $700 a year for newspapers is the one being inconvenienced, so we can cater to the freeloaders. (Jeff TMMO linked to something Jim Lileks had to say on this subject today, but I won’t, because as usual he buries his point in several hundred words of blather about what he had for dinner Friday night. Kind of like, oh, me.)

But it’s Monday, it’s cold and there’s snow on the ground. Let’s turn our thoughts to happier subjects, shall we? Not what I had for dinner Friday, but what I made for dessert two weeks ago. Speaking of newspapers, the New York Times food-front main story a few weeks ago was about whoopie pies. Nothing like a picture like this to get your mouth watering. Normally my baking runs toward more traditional fare, but it looked like something Kate would enjoy making with me, and so we gave it a whirl.

Ours did not resemble the Times’:


But they were quite tasty, although if you’re planning to follow the same recipe, a word of advice: The cakes are fine, but drop the preposterously rich buttercream filling and just go ahead and whip up a bowl of plain old cream, with lots of powdered sugar and vanilla. The recipe is adapted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, and once you look under the hood of one of their concoctions, you see how they justify their prices. There’s just no reason for every one of those suckers to have the equivalent of a half-stick of butter in it. Use whipped cream, refrigerate briefly and hand them out at a child’s birthday party. Yum.

A housekeeping note: Starting today, I’m introducing some small steps toward a modest monetization of this site. Oy, you don’t know the time I’ve grappled with this, but what I’m groping toward is a few little trickles that might add up to a stream someday. Today, I’m reviving my old Amazon Associates store, which I’m embedding in the “On the Nightstand” link. Click on Ms. Lippman’s latest, and instead of being taken to some review of her work — all of which have been very complimentary, by the way — you’ll go to my Amazon store, Nance’s Kickback Lounge. If you buy the book, or anything else, through me, I get four whole percent of your purchase. But you can buy anything there, not just “Life Sentences.” I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite current books, movies and so on, but if you simply access the greater Amazon site via my store, it all goes back to me. (Click on the “Powered by Amazon” logo to access their main page.)

In coming weeks and months, I’ll try a few more things, most of which will be unobtrusive and that which isn’t, I hope, will be something you’ll enjoy. My working model is, if it’s in yo’ face, it’s gotta be something extra. We’ll see.

I mentioned snow on the ground. It came through last night, a little squall that when it started delivered flakes the size of coasters, it seemed. We all stared out the window, resenting the hell out of it, even though it won’t stick and won’t last past 10 a.m. today. I resented it even more for being so pretty — the big flakes were very Hallmark. At least they were last night. Today, they’re just sort of…Monday. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 7:42 am in Current events, Housekeeping, Same ol' same ol' |

47 responses to “Calling customer service.”

  1. coozledad said on March 30, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I made some brownies this weekend that called for 8oz of butter and two and a half cups of sugar. I used the full amount of butter, but one and a half cups of sugar was plenty. Maybe still a bit much, really.

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  2. del said on March 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

    I’m not much of an online shopper but I clicked the link to the nn.c kickback lounge and bought a book about a branch of my family tree that I’ve been looking for for a long time. Out of print and $207, used! At least your small share should trickle in.

    Your whoopie pies look a lot better than those in the NYT. Those look too artificial.

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  3. del said on March 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Cooz, your post about Nabokov saying that all our ancestors include both persecuted and persecutor is still in the back of my mind. So maybe attention to my own family history’s a bit silly.

    My latest indulgence is homemade chocolate sauce made from Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate with boiling water, sugar and a touch of cream. La Fin du Monde.

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  4. derwood said on March 30, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I buy quite a bit from Amazon…I will be sure and do it through you. That almost sounds dirty.


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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Huzzah for monetization of the site, which seems only right, ethically appropriate, and may the river of compensation flow freely — i promise to paddle as i can, book buying fool that i am.

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  6. coozledad said on March 30, 2009 at 9:23 am

    My family seems to have been a mix of Irish laborers, Normans, Brits and Germans, depending on the veracity of the genealogies I’ve seen. Both sides of the family have more than their fair share of morbid tipplers, and in addition to bashing each other over the heads in preceding generations, there were also numerous exchanges of genetic material between closely related individuals.
    So it’s not only likely that I’m an indirect result of a cousinfuck, but it may have been a hate fuck as well.

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  7. crinoidgirl said on March 30, 2009 at 9:27 am

    First day of our Brave New World. The NY Times lands on the doorstep, no Freep.

    How am I supposed to share the comics at the coffee shop???

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

    So, this story on, describing the uncertain future of basketball coach Billy Gillispie at the University of Kentucky, vividly illustrates the dangers of trying to fill in the blanks:

    “Asked about how he feels about all the judgment he’s facing after posing a 40-27 record in two seasons at Kentucky, Gillispie said: “There’s only one judgment I’ll ever be concerned about, and I hope I pass that judgment. That’s the only one I’ll ever be concerned about, and I’m really proud that that’s the only judgment that will ever have a real effect on me, and I hope I pass that one with flying colors.”

    Gillispie declined to answer when asked whose judgment he was referring to, saying it was obvious, apparently referring to Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart.”

    Um, i’ll bet that’s not who he means.

    What’s doubly interesting is that the original story — — has dropped the “apparently referring” clause, without noting the correction to the story, as is usual online practice.

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  9. nancy said on March 30, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Just one of the dangers of confusing basketball coaches with God.

    Thanks to all of you who are passing through my store to get to Amazon. I find myself in a real quandary, myself, as I’ve pledged to support local bricks-and-mortar whenever possible. But I end up using Amazon for oddball stuff like the Brita filters for my coffeemaker, certain out-of-print or hard-to-find books, or Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals. I hope it all comes out in the wash.

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  10. Dorothy said on March 30, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I’ve used Amazon to get the Dearfoam slippers I like so much because I can’t find them in the stores anymore. And a recent purchase was two fabulous cookie sheets that were just too expensive at Williams Sonoma or Crate and Barrel. I’ll jump on the bandwagon like the others in our little nn.d club and use your site in the future to get to Amazon.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on March 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Five minute version of whoopie pies: spread frosting on chocolate graham crackers. Make your own frosting; never, never use the canned crap.

    DH’s family has traced the tree back to William the Conquerer and some other royals. Like C’dad, I come from a long line of peasant farmers; Irish, Welsh and German. Not until my parents’ generation did anyone get off the farm.

    We go through newsprint withdrawal when it’s just a few minutes late so I have the feeling we are in for a tough adjustment in the next few years.

    We buy most of our books at Amazon and will be happy to support NNC–what a great idea!

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  12. del said on March 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Yes, judgment, another lovely religious concept. On Sunday I took my grandma to The One True Church and one of the readings was that, he who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life will have eternal life. Talk about sowing seeds of neuroses and psychic suffering.

    I prefer to focus on amusing posts like Cooz’s that introduces me to new words. Words like “cousinfuck.” And chocolate sauce — C’est la fin du Monde!

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  13. MarkH said on March 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

    del, I found the same thing on amazon not too long ago. I needed to replace a water-damaged family tree book, out of print over 50 years. There it was, used, $98. The amazing thing is, as it was published in such a small number, one existed at all. It’s still available, haven’t bought it yet, so I, too, am glad to contribute to the nn.c cause.

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  14. joodyb said on March 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Del’s model is indeed a good one. i’m glad i didn’t buy my aunt’s collector’s ed gift before today. out-of-print is one of the great justifications for amazon, and if nn gets .04 of $100, more’s the better.

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  15. nancy said on March 30, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I took my grandma to The One True Church and one of the readings was that, he who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life will have eternal life.

    I don’t recall that Scripture. Maybe Jeff could enlighten us. If nothing else, it certainly explains the pinch-faced expressions on so many faces I’ve known through the years.

    (My pinch-faced expression, I hasten to add, usually has a more earthly reason.)

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  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Correction —

    (It’s the Big Guy speaking here . . .)
    20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

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  17. nancy said on March 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Oh, may I add just one thing before I head off to the showers and my Russian lesson? The reason we don’t know how our lives will end ahead of time is because no one could fathom the idea of living to be 98, only to die of a gunshot wound.

    Today’s Scripture reading seems to underline it, don’t you think? Life’s a bitch, and then you die. At the hands of a mass murderer.

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

    For those baffled by the traditional translation of “hates” in this verse, with the help of — μισων verb – present active passive – nominative singular masculine – miseo mis-eh’-o: to detest (especially to persecute); by extension, to love less — hate(-ful).

    “To love less than, in comparison” is really the sense of the Greek in this usage, and it’s anyone’s guess what the Chief was saying originally in Aramaic, but if “hates” grates on the ear in modern usage, it’s probably because it really isn’t the translation that fits even the Greek the best. The import is “put your life into a larger context to truly understand it, not just what works simply from your own limited point of view.”

    You can see why i’m not a Bible translator. I’ll have to go look up what Eugene Peterson did in his paraphrase, “The Message.” After my next meeting, maybe.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on March 30, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Peterson’s paraphrase of the relevant verse, John 12:25: “In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

    Robinson’s prarphrase: don’t be too attached to your worldly life and pleasures; they aren’t what lasts. It’s a paradox, but to me it brings hope, not a pinched face. When this world ends, I will be in eternal joy where there is no pain.

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  20. del said on March 30, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Good work JTMMO. It’s important to understand the ambiguities attendant to such translations.

    My family tree book was 1972 Ph.d dissertation based on archives at U. of M.’s Michigan history library. It’d always been unavailable on Amazon, til now. It’s about 2 Irish immigrant clans from the 1820’s on (mine’s the Birney clan). My grandma’s got an old copy that’s falling apart. I’ve read some of it. I stopped in the 1850’s at the point where a grandfather had died young of malaria leaving 9 children alone. A kindly neighbor named Hezekiah sent a letter to family back east begging for help. Made me think of a Phil Collins song called The Roof is Leaking. Nasty, brutish and short, it was, even (or, especially) then.

    It’s got photographs a set of my great-great-great grandparents. The woman looks about as serious and mean as humanly possible. Makes me think of a Lynyrd Skynyrd album cover, the banjo player in the movie Deliverance and, again, Coozledad’s word.

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  21. coozledad said on March 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Del: I remember going through some photographs with my grandma after my grandfather died. They had a picture of him when he was with Pershing, chasing Pancho Villa.
    She sort of wistfully said “He was the finest looking man in Union County.”
    Well, he must have been the only one.

    He was one scary ugly bastard. I still have nightmares that feature him chasing me, swinging his cane and making cat noises, as was his wont when his mind had thoroughly rotted.

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  22. del said on March 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Julie, your interpretation of the paradox in that scripture is the same as my mother’s. As Browning would say,

    “a paradox
    that comforts while it seems to mock.”

    And as for the earthly reason for Nancy’s pinched face. I think I just got that.

    And it’s Ph.D. Don’t want to piss them off.

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  23. LA Mary said on March 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    My ex’s grandfather chased Pancho Villa as well. We have this vicious bayonet/dagger thing he had that makes a triangular wound that can’t heal without major assistance. The grip has nasty sort of brass knuckles built into it.
    When we lived in NYC we had this weapon hanging from one of the posts of the loft bed to fend off intruders.

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  24. jeff borden said on March 30, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Given the interesting discussions here about the Notre Dame-President Obama dust-up, here’s something interesting from Gallup, to wit, American Catholics ain’t all that conservative.

    The argument of those who protest the extension of the invitation to Obama is that Catholics have a distinctly conservative position on these moral issues. That is certainly the case as far as official church doctrine is concerned, but not when it comes to average American Catholics. The new Gallup analysis, based on aggregated data from Gallup’s 2006-2008 Values and Beliefs surveys, indicates that Catholics in the United States today are actually more liberal than the non-Catholic population on a number of moral issues, and on others, Catholics have generally the same attitudes.

    The accompanying chart shows the percentage of Catholics and non-Catholics who find each of nine moral issues morally acceptable. Catholics are at least slightly more liberal than non-Catholics on the issues of gambling (an issue to which the Catholic church is not totally opposed), sex between an unmarried man and woman, homosexual relations, and having a baby out of wedlock. Catholics are essentially tied with non-Catholics on the moral acceptability of abortion, divorce, and stem-cell research using human embryos. Only on the death penalty are Catholics slightly less likely than non-Catholics to find the issue morally acceptable.

    This would seem to be evidence that the One True hierarchy are waaaaaaaay out of touch with Catholics in the developed world, at least. And, btw, what a sorry spectacle of Pope Benedict condemning more Africans to death by insisting that condoms are not only not helpful in preventing the spread of AIDS but an enabler. What the heck are those guys in Vatican City thinking???

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Julie, thanks!

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  26. Catherine said on March 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Those whoopee pies are the tip of the smorgasbord here today. The merits of homemade buttercream, not to mention whipped cream; add a little New Testament Greek translation, some scripture, family histories and even new vocabulary (thanks, coozledad). Plus exotic weaponry and interesting statistics. It’s an embarassment of riches, truly. And, a welcome break from all the dwelling on the auto industry.

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  27. paddyo' said on March 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    BTW, Nancy, in re: Nance’s Kickback Lounge (which I’d never seen before but will now use exclusively for any’ing), I can heartily attest to your choice and review of Chuck Prophet’s “Soap and Water,” which I stumbled upon sometime last spring or summer (maybe it was NPR, too, I dunno) and have since been preaching like … well, like a prophet about its glories to anyone who’ll listen.

    And yeah, me, too, on “A Woman’s Voice” — it’s the best track on the album by far, the one I’ve played again and again and never tire of …

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  28. harrison said on March 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    sorry to hear that you had snow up your way, nancy. down here in the indianapolis metro area, the highs was about 60 with no precipitation.

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  29. LA Mary said on March 30, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    It’s very nice here. High sixties. Warmer tomorrow. Don’t hate me.

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  30. caliban said on March 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    You might not speak English without coffee, Nancy, but you write it clearly. Here in the backwaters, Hilton Head Island, we get the NYT and the WSJ without interruption. I love actual newsprint and ink smudges. I love thundering two-story presses, pressmen and women doing a craftsman’s job, and accountability. Online nmews sources publish whatever the hell they want and the pyrites standard is something wallowing somewhere between Drudge and and Guckert.

    I like newspapers availalble on the net. It’s the only way I can read the Boston Globe, the Bee, the Loisvill Courier Journal, iconic papers from my days of being able to read them more immediately on paper in the Graady School reading room. The disconnect is a function of gullibility, fried attention span, failure of critical thinking, and almost understandable insularity coupled with a neurotic need for like-minded reinforcement.

    There’s an opportunity here for people that run government. The NYT is a product of a large corporation, but it’s mom and pop compared with Newscorp. That unspeakable behemoth slouching toward Bethlehem is an abomination of deregulation that mirrors the country’s economic auto da fe. And bag Rupert. Who let him get away with this drivel.

    Talking Points say newspapers have done themselves in by leaning liberal. Exactly which papers are liberal? And let’s see a scintilla of evidence. Suppose the demise of newspapers is a f’ait accompli. What are we left with? Morons patting each other on their backs? Really? Jonah Goldberg and his idiot confrere? Charlie ‘Total Whackjob’ Krautheimer? Sludge growing deeper around Cal Thomas. These people are insane, but they’re kept in check by Eugene Robinson.

    There’s something inherently valuable about print on paper. You can’t make it dissappear, like some mendacious website.

    I’m Catholic. I take my faith seriously. Misrepresentation of American Catholic beliefs is odious. There are 80 million Catholics in the US. These whackos aren’t 1million. I wish everybody that is so up in arms found it revolting when Cheney and Rummy and Ron Raygun raped and murdered Maryknoll nuns.

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  31. Danny said on March 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    It’s very nice here. High sixties. Warmer tomorrow. Don’t hate me.

    It’s very nice here too. I don’t hate you.


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  32. MichaelG said on March 30, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    My front porch thermo says 71 in the shade. I guess I can tolerate Danny and Mary.

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  33. caliban said on March 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    When I was a kid, I matriculated at the Cranbrook School theater school. Back in those days, it actually snowed in June.Ineggable and wonderful. I lived in my natural habitat through the blixxard of ’78 in a Boston suburb. What nobody seems to remember is that we we got another 54 inches or so begore Easter that year.

    Read the first forty or so pages of the Perelandra Trilogy (read all of those books, this is a stylist, with a point of view and a way of looking at things that’s about as intelligent, and perfectly imagined, as Lord of the Rings). Weather is something to be embraced. Climate change is nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong,

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  34. alex said on March 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Climate change is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve inherited rheumatoid disease.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Here’s my take on the “stuff for free on the internet is killing papers,” which i’ve been thinking about today since hearing Joe Scarborough say this am to some newspaper person — “you guys have to get together and hold the line and make people pay for this, and if you stick together, you can do it.”

    No, they can’t. And not just because there will always be someone to break ranks (and there will be). I got to have a conversation with Dana Gioia back when he was NEA head some six years ago, about books and publishing, with newspapers a barely tangential element at that point.

    What i suggested, and he said “I wish i could figure out a workable way to say you’re wrong about,” is that the actual number/percentage of readers hasn’t changed much. I don’t know how to measure or prove this, but i fear that the change is not about readers, because we could possibly figure out a way to create readers again (or at least we keep encouraging each other that we could do that). What i think has changed is very much like what’s happened with church attendance.

    Not so very long ago, you went to church, and you subscribed to the daily rag, because, well, that was what’s done. And if you were going to sell insurance, or get customers at your bank, or even your hardware store, it was simply not done to be absent from one or another church steps leaving another Sunday service about noontime (of class divisions denominationally we will not speak, not today).

    And you got a paper. You may never do more than glance at the sports front, and what those scamps at Gasoline Alley were up to, but it was “what one does.”

    Well, no one does those things anymore. Not tie wearing, not staying together for the kids and because it would ruin your standing in the community, not a roast in the oven every Sunday after church, let alone church. And the core of my assertion is that i just don’t discern that your average community poohbah is any wiser or stupider about stuff in the paper than they were in the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s. Looking back, i don’t think they read the paper for content any more than they read the leather bound “World’s Classic Editions” on the shelves in the front room no one was allowed to sit in — and we don’t have those front rooms anymore, either.

    If i’m right, the problem with newspaper circ is that we’re getting down to only selling to the readers we always had, but now that the scam is clearer to the advertisers, they aren’t playing. We can only sell subscription content to people who actually want the content, just as symphony orchestras are only selling subscriptions to those who actually like symphonic orchestras for their leisure evenings, which in truth was never that many people — but lots bought them back in the day, because you did. Now they don’t.

    All of which doesn’t make me think newspapers are a hopeless case, just that there’s a yearning for the recovery of a day that isn’t what many think it was. I just don’t think that many more people did or do want to read thoughtful analysis; what’s changed is the social value of appearing as if you did care, let alone knew anything about those points. Which means we really are looking at creating an expanded reading audience, not “getting our subscribers back” from free online content.

    Or so i think. Please feel free to argue, since my points are largely unsupported by data.

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  36. Dexter said on March 30, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I do very little Amazon business , but today my digital voice recorder arrived via USPS. My basic-model XM receiver won’t record like the expensive ones do, so to capture some spoken-word shows I like , I’ll just place the little recorder beside the radio to catch what I miss when something else is on the agenda. I have not had a voice recorder since the days when you inserted a cassette tape into a small recorder. Amazon has deep discounts and free shipping for the digital devices…really, not many use them, but I would think a college student would find one useful for lectures.

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  37. beb said on March 30, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I think what you say about newspaper is pretty much on target

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  38. caliban said on March 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Dexter. Who took notes for you? You stored a lot away in spite of yourself.I used to think that Henry Adams was the height of intelligence.

    The more he was educated, the less he learned. I read Teillhard, and I figure the more we’re educated, the more we understand about God becoming God.

    If there’s a big black hole and it goes to nowhere, why do we feel like we need to straighten everything out

    Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the mosst gotgeous woman you ever sw gets murderred, ffor no good reason.

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  39. CrazyCatLady said on March 31, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I used to get the Detroit Free Press delivered 7 days a week. I enjoyed my daily routine as a paying Freep customer for over 30 years. When they decided that paying customers who were sure-thing weren’t as important as the occasional coin box or on-line reader, they lost me. I called and cancelled my subscription. Read it on the internet? Not interested. Why pay for that when it’s NOT the product I want. The ‘free’ version? Limited and difficult to navagate. They told me they are just trying to stay in business. I say that I was happy to pay for home delivery and I was a loyal subscriber who shouldn’t have been dumped for a not-so-sure thing. I know they won’t miss me as much as I will miss my morning routine. Sometimes I feel like the dog, but today I felt like the hydrant…

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  40. Gasman said on March 31, 2009 at 1:36 am

    When I see this, or any other pope make any pronouncements against the use of condoms, I am reminded of the words of late Hoosier wack-job, Earl Butz. In his mock Italian accent: “He no playa the game, he no maka the rules.”

    True dat, Earl, true dat.

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  41. caliban said on March 31, 2009 at 1:54 am

    I used to deliver the Free Press. Great paper. There was also the Michigan Daily. Bill Thigpen was my High School compatriot. Look him up.
    Shot dead by Detroit gangs, a reporter for the Michigan Daily. Now, that was a great paper.

    Thee used to be the Atlanta Constitution. Reg Murphy was the editor. Before Reg, there was Ralph Magill. He was born in the 18th Century, and he believed black people are people. If anybody believes Drudge and journalism without newspapers is a viable construct, wave your non-existent dairness doctrine freak dlag high. Newspapers are birdy-doo catchers, and O’Reilley isn’t a self-promoting piece of shit that thinks more about loofahs than he does news.

    Seriously, you morons, news from the internet? This might work if people weren’t so stupid.

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  42. Dexter said on March 31, 2009 at 2:47 am

    I can’t get same-day Detroit paper delivery anyway…and our coin boxes disappeared a long time ago, and our newsstand closed four years ago, so I really have no emotional connection to Detroit Plan
    , however it is better than the Denver plan, right?

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  43. jcburns said on March 31, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Jeff tmmo, that was wise indeed. “Because that’s what you did” has, well, maybe not vanished but been replaced by a whole new set of “that’s what you do” that, like its predecessors, doesn’t always make sense either. You buy every living organism in your family a cell phone now (because that’s what you do). If you want to watch TV, you get cable or satellite service. Really, you don’t have to, but “that’s what you do.” People buy computers with Microsoft Windows and show up on Facebook (the new equivalent of showing up in church or strolling the town square at the same time every evening) for that same non-reason. At some point people will bemoan that folks aren’t buying season tickets to pro wrestling the way they did last decade, and isn’t it a shame that tattoo parlors are struggling to stay in business.

    But totally separate from that calculation on journalism, I keep going back to it’s really a Community Service (in caps) to have reporters, notebooks open, in every damn meeting where government (or organization-like government) is present, and I for one want to figure out how to fund that along with my pothole repair and my drinking water. And I’d also eagerly like to pay them for spending weeks to investigate a trail of mysterious transactions here and there (since I am indeed a j-school dropout of the Woodward and Bernstein generation.)

    And they can’t all have Amazon stores.

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 31, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Re: Community service angle — perhaps whistling past the graveyard, instead of asking whether or will journalism happens, i’d rather ask the question “who’s going to be doing that kind of pestiferous, persistent, newsnagging, newsgathering, investigatory work?”

    Community life does require that someone do this; Zenger, Edes and Gill in the Colonial era, Horace Greeley, Whitelaw Reid, and Carl Schurz in the dawn of the radical/reform era, Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Upton Sinclair as the original muckrakers, the first investigative journalists, George Seldes and I.F. Stone as newspapers got respectable (and many radicals veered off to their left).

    But if you look at those dozen or so stories, you don’t see a set of narratives about how a reliable print product run by a large company gave them the basis for a professionalized vocation. Some got poor, and some got rich, some were largely self-published, some were mainly putting out their work in books, others in magazines.

    I’m personally already missing the feel of a crisp, folded, unread as yet book review section between my daytimer and the book of the week, but it’s gone unless i snag the NYTBR (and how much longer that?). But i’m thinking we’ll have investigative journalism, including on the local level, as long as Americans are cranky enough to not want to believe everything the village council and school boards tell them not to worry about. The internet may be lowering the value of any one form of news product, but it is lowering the cost for a Whitelaw Reid to get into the game . . . that means some mutts get into the Westminster show, but some of those mutts have already bitten a few developers and township trustees in this neck of the woods.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 31, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Mark Bowden in the latest Vanity Fair —

    When Arthur (Sulzberger) became chairman of the Times Company, in 1997, he dragged his top people to retreats in leafy locations, there to learn better cooperation and to think big thoughts. He was less worried about adapting the Times to a new era than about making his company and newsroom a happier place to work. The underlying assumption was that there was nothing ahead but smooth seas. Many of the newsroom’s hard-bitten veterans found these events revealing.

    “We were having a retreat,” David Jones, a former assistant managing editor, recalls. “It was a wonderful old inn, business-meeting place, in upstate New York. They were doing games as bonding experiences. One of the games they did was fly casting. And they put three big loops out on the lawn. One was close, one was farther out, and one was farthest. And the idea was to cast your lure and hit inside the loop. The farther away you cast, the more points you got.” The risky way to play was to cast for the big scores; the safest way was to steadily accrue points by hitting the nearest loop.

    “So we played this game,” says Jones, “and when it was all over, I talked to the guy who worked there, who ran the game, and I said, What was your impression of us from the way we played? How do we compare with other groups? And he said—and they have business groups that come—he said, ‘This is the most conservative group I have ever seen.’”

    Arthur himself, despite his leftist politics and social liberalism, despite the lip service he pays to the need for change, is deeply conservative where the family business is concerned. This is not to say that he resists change. His is the most successful newspaper Web site in the country. It can claim an ever rising number of hits and, until the general economic slump of 2008–9, recorded steady growth in ad revenue. But none of this will save him, because at the core Arthur and the Times remain wedded to an archaic model of journalism.

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  46. jcburns said on March 31, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I’d love some sort of mechanism (I think I said something of this nature before) like (hmm) Amazon’s Mechanical Turk where if I had a free two or three weeks and was in a mood (yes, it’s possible) to sit in on a few Atlanta City Council meetings I could sign up to cover them, write up my pool-like reports, and get paid a tiny but survivable-upon stipend to do so from some massive reporting funding source somewhere. It would be (in my rosy scenario) just profitable enough to motivate me and enough others to do so. And because we’d be leveraging the vast power of the internet, we could look and say, wow, there’s a huge reporting deficit out there in central Illinois, we’re pulling up stakes to go out there for six months or 2 years or so and report for a while there. And then go pick apples in California for a season. Or something.

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  47. jeff borden said on March 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

    The AP is carrying a story today that the Chicago Sun-Times has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Both are big dailies now are BK. Whatta world. The third-largest market in America and they still can’t make a buck.

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