A thin line, etc.

Forty-six degrees and fog as I write this, but it’s supposed to climb to 70 today. Woot, 70 whole degrees the last week of April at 42 degrees north latitude. But with thunderstorms. Always a downside.

Sorry, feeling a little grumpy today. My iPhone is failing. It’s three years old and it’s probably time for replacement, but the idea of getting a new one fills me with resentment. My model is the 3G clearance special that AT&T is now giving away for $50, and I’d be happy to do that, but I’m sure I’d need to sign a two-year contract. I hate two-year contracts. I hate all contracts, frankly. In two years, I could be dead. In two years, the 3G clearance special will be as antique as a four-pound all-metal Ma Bell desk model with the corkscrew cord.

Speaking of which, I loved those phones. I love scenes in movies where someone uses a phone to beat someone else, like Joe Pesci does with the pay phone in “Goodfellas.” He put a serious hurt on that guy, and he only used the receiver. Nowadays, I drop my phone and we all gasp — Is it dead? Is the screen cracked? You couldn’t beat a hamster to death with an iPhone.

On the other hand, I have dropped this sucker plenty, and the worst thing that’s happened is, the SIM card has popped out. It’s been a pretty good phone. But I still resent it, the way I would resent crack cocaine, if that were my addiction, instead of constant phone-checking. There’s been some talk of late of smartphone etiquette — talk about an oxymoron — and I’m sympathetic, really I am, but the goddamn thing is just so convenient, it’s insinuated itself into my life so thoroughly, that I feel I might as well be wearing a tether. We always hate the ones we love.

Since today is already a train wreck, and I have hours of work ahead, let’s go right to the bloggage:

At least it’s spring on the Coozledad farm. Is that Llewd, or Purley? No matter, because today, it’s Ferdinand.

The story is OK, but the headline is one for the ages: Patient emits potentially harmful gas; hazmat called to Ann Arbor hospital.

The problem with The Onion: Real life is always crazier than fiction.

A companion piece to that long-ago news story about the newspaper of the future — remember that one? — is this more recent, though still ancient, report on the newest wrinkle, c. 1994. The tablet newspaper:

It’s useful to watch these, as I’ve been among those who said the newspaper industry was blindsided by the internet. That’s not true. From almost the beginning, we saw the future. We just didn’t see the future business model, i.e., free. Free free free free free. Plus ad blockers.

OK, it’s time to pull the plug on this disaster and set nose to grindstone. A bloody mess, dead ahead.

Posted at 10:08 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

71 responses to “A thin line, etc.”

  1. alex said on April 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Ah, yes, the tablet newspaper. I remember when both the Trib and the Sun-Times launched these. One of them was called the Red Eye, I seem to remember. They were trying to imitate the Reader, an alt-weekly, with hopes of appealing to a younger audience. They did a piss-poor job of it, but then the Reader really went to hell after the founders sold it. The new generation of people working there didn’t seem to understand the paper’s identity or its history of literary journalism. I miss the old Reader. It was reliably good reading every week.

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  2. MarkH said on April 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

    We’ll be lucky to see 40 deg. all day here in the Hole, after 20 deg. most nights so far. And, that’s with the sun shining. The snow just won’t stop, either. We’ve had at least an inch each morning in the last week. Gone by about 10:00 AM, but that’s spring at 43 deg No. Lat. with Z+ 6200 ft. Record snow pack this year threatens flooding if we have a sudden thaw.

    Meantime, RIP Phoebe Snow:


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  3. Jeff Borden said on April 26, 2011 at 11:05 am


    Red Eye is still around. It’s a free distribution daily tabloid with its own staff, though it cannibalizes some of the content found in the Tribune broadsheet. It’s not aimed at a recently turned 60-year-old codger like me, so I don’t pay much attention. We subscribe to the Tribune, Sun-Times and NYT, so it holds no allure.

    I agree about the Reader, though much of its allure was in its voluminous listing of everything going on in the region and I mean everything. When we moved to Chicago in 1989, the Reader came in four huge sections and could give some men hernias just lifting it. Reader executives were slow to embrace the Internet and let the Tribune (?!) outflank them with its Metromix site.

    Can I vent about the media? I opened up a news website to see that Donald Trump is plumbing even lower depths by suggesting President Obama was more or less an affirmative action admission to Columbia and Harvard. Trump declares –completely sans proof or evidence– that our president was “a terrible, terrible student.” And the ludicrously coiffed con man then laments how the sons of some of his wealthy friends –excellent students all– cannot gain admission to the hallowed Ivy League halls, but that rascal Obama did.

    Why in the fuck is anyone paying any attention at all to this clown? He’s never going to run for president, yet his every utterance is disseminated. Are there no editors to say, “The guy’s a publicity hound pimping his failing TV show. Forget it.” Apparently, no. I ask the same question about SheWho, but at least she was on a national ticket and is something of a leader among the intellectually challenged rightwingers. Trump’s constituency is an ever-changing array of race-baiters and creeps, the latest being the loathesome Franklin Graham.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

    (response to previous thread) Jolene, thanks; Annie E. Casey Foundation is a good group for planning grants and other start-up work on child welfare issues, and they’re fabulous on info gathering. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is very helpful for the bigger stuff, the problem being you need a full state working on the same page to get their attention, or a co-ordinated metro area response. In Ohio, that’s tough, since we aren’t a state, we’re 88 counties and 700 school districts, all fiercely independent by law and custom.

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  5. LAMary said on April 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Thanks for the mention of Phoebe Snow, MH. The article mentions how she chose her last name. It was from advertising on the Erie Lackawanna RR, same one that went through my home town. When I used to take the train into NYC in the late sixties the cars were ancient, with wicker seats. There was this poster of a woman in a white dress: “Phoebe Snow in her gown of white rides the rails of anthracite.” No dust from soft bituminous coal to soil that white dress on the Erie Lackawanna.

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  6. Kim said on April 26, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Jeff, I think editors haven’t pulled the plug on Trump because outrageous behavior sells until the advertisers say it doesn’t.

    In the truth is stranger than fiction department, a story that rivals “Catfish” – and if you haven’t seen it, do.

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  7. nancy said on April 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Jeff, your comments about Trump hint at a much bigger problem, I think: The yawning and growing gap between what’s covered in the market-driven, focus-grouped news media, and that by the tiny and shrinking prestige category — NYT, NPR, WaPo, etc. I live pretty much in the latter bubble, and I am regularly appalled by what glimpses of the other that I see. And I’m not talking about the tabloids, or the tabloid TV shows, or whatever. I’m talking about the network news (which is terrible), the local news (which is terrible squared, even in a large market like this), even the local papers, which seem to have given up aspiring to be NYT Jr., and are happy to be USA Today’s minor-league division.

    Worst of all are the morning shows. Alan and I used to keep “Today” on when we got dressed in the morning (this being before our local public-radio station bought “Morning Edition”). It was lighter, but not totally fluffy, just the right mix for sleepyheads who need to know the broad outlines of what’s going on in the world, and don’t mind the occasional cooking segment. The last time I had it on, it was all cross-promos of NBC entertainment product, and interviews with whatever appalling pop-cult newsmaker had shoved his or her way into the studio — a Real Housewife, a Trump, etc. Lamestream media, indeed.

    Don’t get me started on CNN. Look, a YouTube video of a cute kitty!

    Meanwhile, I occasionally look at the Facebook networks of people around here, and the other day I saw a person claiming — on the wall of the largest networker in GP, someone with nearly 5,000 contacts — that the governor’s school budget would require our district to merge with a neighboring one. There hasn’t been a SINGLE story in any legitimate media that I can find that even suggests such a thing. Not ONE. If you heard something like that, wouldn’t you at least try to check it out before you sounded the alarm via social networking? Will people believe anything?

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  8. alex said on April 26, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Oh wow… I misunderstood what a tablet newspaper was, now that I look at the video more closely. (No sound here at work.) The tabloid-size alt-weekly ripoffs were a new invention from the same era.

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  9. Mark P. said on April 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Nancy, despite its cost, a cellphone is a disposable item. If you remember, there was a time when a three-year-old computer was fit for nothing but the landfill. Today a three-year-old computer is usually perfectly fine for use. The only difference between cell phones and computers is that cell phones, which are now computers, are in a stage similar to the earlier days of computers. The real problem is not the phone, it’s the cell companies. If we had genuine competition, service would be cheaper and contracts would not be required. But we’re actually moving away from competition and towards a monopoly or possibly a duopoly. Oh well.

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  10. Jakash said on April 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The Redeye is so lame that it’s hard to believe that it still exists. It very quickly eliminated whatever the Sun-Times’ version was called, so I’d think that it served its purpose. There’s not enough in there to keep you occupied for a 20-minute train ride, unless you need to thoroughly investigate which post-collegiate bar has the best drink special for the day.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on April 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Most of us here are old enough to remember when People magazine started publishing. Many who were horrified by its similarity to tabloids thought it would die quickly, but I believe its genre is what killed journalism. The change in delivery methods is incidental; the real change is the content that is now valued by (apparently) the vast majorities.

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  12. Bitter Scribe said on April 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I just got a new job and I’m about to buy my first cell phone. Yes, you read that right. I’m 54 years old and have never owned one. And frankly, I’m daunted by all the options out there. Do I try to get a deal from AT&T, which is already overcharging me for DSL? Should I go with another carrier’s intro rate? Or should I just get a pay-as-you-go phone? Sometimes having a lot of choices isn’t as great as it sounds.

    As for that Onion article, if you removed a few of the particularly over-the-top lines (“Because what this country needs is a president who doesn’t give a fuck about helping people”), it could indeed stand as a regular news analysis. And that depresses the hell out of me.

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  13. Bob (not Greene) said on April 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Red Eye is the largest daily paper in Chicago, circulation-wise. The Tribune has done a wonderful job devaluing its flagship product in recent years. In addition to Red Eye, they initially launched TribLocal (their version of Patch) as a “send us your press release and we’ll publish it and pretend it’s actual news” site. They’ve since bolstered that since the arrival of Patch in this area, although like Patch they cover only upper-middle class suburbs and still in a drive-by fashion.

    Jeff B., I really hadn’t seen much of Franklin Graham until Sunday, when I caught him on This Week. Five minutes later I switched the TV off in a rage that A. He got that much time to spew his bullshit about liking She Who and his birther beliefs AND B. that Christiane Amanpour just sat there letting him get away with it and lobbing softball after softball at him. I guess it was Easter and they felt they needed to give ol’ Franklin some face time. I switched back later and saw Al Sharpton being interviewed, at which time I just turned it off for good. Stupid.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    OK – remind me to tell you a story Pam just told me about her trip to Meijer, and which we both found genuinely unnerving. After that, a paragraph regarding Nance’s question: Will people believe anything?; and the corollary: how does a society operate, when a critical percentage of people believe similar untruths?

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  15. alex said on April 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Bitter Scribe, I’d suggest starting off with a pay-as-you-go phone until you figure out what your actual usage will be. I wish there’d been such a thing when I got my first cell phone. With most plans, if you exceed the minutes in your contract, they charge ridiculous fees that come out to even more than the monthly bill itself. They will, however, let you out of that contract if you sign up for a ridiculously expensive one with more minutes than you can ever possibly use. Best not to be under contract and I can’t wait ’til my current one is up.

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  16. beb said on April 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    You’d think they could last least list the noxious gas the man was emitting.

    What Nancy said at 7.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on April 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Nancy, you’re right, of course. I forget that even though I’m a near high school flunkout son of Depression era parents who were middle class and have a college degree from a land grant college in Ohio with open admissions, I am actually an elite because I honestly do not care who Kim Kardashian is dating, how Jennifer Lopez is doing as a talent judge, who George Clooney is kanoodling with, etc.

    Maybe all journalists should be required to view that scene from “The Big Chill,” where Jeff Goldblum explains the skills he needs to be a good reporter for People magazine. To wit, the article must last as long as the average crap. That so many other publications and TV programs would aspire to that kind of mission is heartbreaking.

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  18. Suzanne said on April 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Brian, perhaps you are referring the same Meijer clerk I had several months ago who, when I mentioned what a nice day it was, went into a diatribe about how she knew that because she had been out for a smoke because smoking wasn’t really that bad for you…THEY just wanted you to believe that. Then she ventured into the realm of the bunkers that THEY have, because THEY need them to hide in when THEY start killing off enough of the population to make it manageable. When I mentioned that in the event of wholesale killing, I’d prefer not to be a bunker because you’d eventually have to come out, and it’d be ugly out there, she looked into my eyes and said, in a very ominous tone, “Well, at least you’d be alive!”
    Yes, I now think people will believe anything. I’ve had discussions recently with reasonably intelligent people who swear they’ve seen clips of Obama saying he was born in Kenya, and that he’s never produced his birth certificate, etc. I’m beginning to finally grasp how the Nazi party was able to get good Christian Germans to put their neighbors, friends, and co-workers into the camps.

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  19. Jakash said on April 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Bitter Scribe, I’ll second alex’s suggestion. It definitely depends on how much you’ll be using it and what features you need. I don’t use a cellphone much, but have had one for a few years. It’s a Tracfone. For the opportunity to have a phone that I can use for 300 minutes one month (which I never do) and 3 minutes the next month, if that were the case, I end up spending a little over $6 a month on average. (Mind you, this is not an i-phone. Bare basics, though coverage is pretty good, from my experience, and it does have a camera. And internet access that costs about ten cents a minute, which I also almost never use.) What you end up paying for is the service. It’s most economical to buy a one-year card and then get extra minutes as you need them (which, again, I never need.) But you can buy 30-day cards, with no commitment, if that’s what you want. End of commercial.

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  20. Peter said on April 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Bob, not Greene, are you shitting me? Red Eye has more circulation than the Tribune? Oy gewalt!!!

    I too remember when the Reader was the size of a NYT. Let’s face it, however, the bulk of it was personals, sex ads, and apartment listings, and the web’s taken over those duties quite well, thank you.

    Yes, the current state of politics and journalism can make one quite sad. I know I’m not any smarter than I was 5, 10, heck 30 years ago, but trying to find balanced and unbiased news is just a depressing experience.

    BTW, I still want to say something about the guy who wants foster children to shop at Salvation Army, but I’m still too mad to be cogent.

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  21. Bitter Scribe said on April 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Alex and Jakash: You talked me into it. I just bought a TracFone and am currently charging it up.

    I’d actually bought one years ago, for my mother, rest her soul. Soon after I got it for her, I came for a visit and she went on this long story about how she was out driving the other day and ran out of gas, and if it weren’t for the nice young man who stopped and called for help on his cell phone, she didn’t know what she would have done.

    I said, “Uh, Mom, you could have called for help on your phone. You know, the one I just got you?”

    She said, “But I didn’t have it with me. I was in the car.”

    Me: “So why didn’t you take it into the car with you? That’s what it’s for.”

    Her: “I can do that?”

    It turns out she thought it was just a variation on the cordless landline she already had.

    I went home and slammed my head on a table for about 30 minutes.

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  22. nancy said on April 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    The last funny routine I heard Jay Leno do was about how he bought a TV with a remote for his parents, and his mother insisted on keeping the remote in a drawer. She was afraid she might accidentally detonate something.

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  23. Rana said on April 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Jeff, my working hypothesis about the news coverage of people like Palin and Trump is that it’s a case of the media (writ large) trying to have its cake and eat it too. Since these individuals have laid claim to political relevance, covering them is Serious News, which, as “we” all know, is only about wars, politics, and the economy. Yet because they are characters, and fairly shallow ones at that, they are also Entertainment, and don’t require anything resembling thought or background knowledge to cover. (At least according to the current paradigm; one could do a serious, thoughtful analysis of the political context that lets such people rise to power, but that would require work.)

    So the talking bobbleheads get to do the shallow, personality-driven puff pieces they’ve turned into their stock and trade, while being able to assume the mantle of Serious News, since these are (supposedly) candidates for high office.

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  24. Mark P. said on April 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I think it has always been true that people will believe anything they are told. In the past there was limited access to most people, so there was a smaller range of things for most people to believe in. Today there is unlimited access to everyone all the time, and all the nuts are taking advantage of it. They sow their idiocy far and wide, and it takes hold in a lot of people. Too bad, but no surprise.

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  25. Dexter said on April 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I worked for a foreman once upon a time who was a real low-life in every manner of existence. I hated him with a passion.

    What joy, what levity we workers enjoyed when we found out that this guy’s wife had found out about his dalliance with the woman from work, and the wife beat the hell out of him, damn-nearly cracked his skull open, with a big black telephone.
    Pure joy.

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  26. Heather said on April 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    As someone who used to work at the Reader, still blogs for them, and still has a few friends working there, I would just clarify that the editorial staff mostly stayed the same after the founders sold it, and they really did make a huge effort to meet the “old” paper’s standards and mission even when the new owners and publishers didn’t quite understand them. And, needless to say, they also had to deal with a lot less resources. Trust me–the editors and the writers there still work very hard and are still committed to the paper, but as we all know, journalism ain’t what it used to be. Last year they did finally fire the editor-in-chief, who’d worked there ever since she graduated from college, and now they have a new EIC, who I haven’t met and don’t know much about.

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  27. crinoidgirl said on April 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    The Shiba Inu puppy cam is back on the air!


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  28. Catherine said on April 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Two nieces just had twins — yes, a total of four baby girls. I told them they should put all the girls in one place and set up a webcam. Those puppies are cute & all, but not as cute as these four!

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  29. alex said on April 26, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, Heather, I didn’t know you had a connection with the Reader. Yeah, I heard Allison got shitcanned. I used to freelance for the Reader back in ancient times, before Pat Arden got shitcanned.

    On edit: And what I remember most about the Reader offices was the insufferable stench of cockroach spray wafting up from the perimeter of the Star of Siam restaurant downstairs. It used to make me retch.

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  30. Dorothy said on April 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Sad about Phoebe Snow here. I found this interview with her from 1982 and thought I’d share with other Phoebe fans here:


    Congratulations to the families, Catherine!! How exciting for you. We had friends in South Carolina whose daughters had babies a few hours apart about 3 years ago. They ended up being roommates and the pictures from that event were priceless.

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  31. Rana said on April 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Congrats, Catherine! Nice to hear some good news.

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  32. Mark P. said on April 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Great googly-moogly. Take a look at this:


    It’s scary. And look at the Democratic numbers for Mississippi! Doubly scary, since it indicates that a significant percentage of white Democrats in Mississippi are insane. I may be sick.

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  33. paddyo' said on April 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Jeff @3 and Nancy @7, thanks for scratching that damned itch I’ve had for years now about the way too many news media give bullshit, fluff and nutjobbery the same kind of attention (or more) once afforded sober, serious, meaningful news.

    For me, it started years ago with AP stories/rewrites that would blindly give equal weight (paragraphs, inches, minutes, whatever) to “both sides” of news topics/debates that actually tipped the scales more like a bowling ball on the well-duhhh side and a feather on the just-plain-goofy one. Lots of “allegedly” and “reportedly” and “supposedly” was spent in pursuit of what was false and misleading balance.

    Then, when the fact that human activity is causing global warming/climate change joined the news cycle, certain editors insisted on obtaining an opposing response from “another scientist” on the other side — except that only wingnutologists remain on that side. Meanwhile, newspapers and their poor imitators on the air and online still get lathered up each winter wondering how-come-if-it’s-global-WARMING-there’s-3-feet-of-snow-outside?

    Now it’s simply the discounting of news, thrown over for the bread-and-circus feces that the morning-show monkeys heave at the remote-clicking zoogoers on the other side of the screen. In today’s “media landscape,” we’re all assumed to have A.D.D. (or whatever the proper medical/scientific name for it is).

    I’ve said before here that I’m a USA TODAY alum. There was a lot wrong there during my two tours of duty, but the paper did manage significant, if gradual, improvement over its cartoon original self. But in the years since I left (not BECAUSE I left, mind you), I’ve seen the same disintegration afflicting all but the shrinking top-shelf of the “prestige category,” as Nancy puts it. Worse, earlier this month I think it was, word got out that they’re going to award bonuses to certain classes of staff (by subject and beat, and not across the board) based on how many hits/page views their stories get on the USAT website. A fine invitation to, say, stuff a story with every crass culture pop reference possible, to the detriment of the news.

    Well, there you go . . .
    Thanks for allowing the rant. Unfortunately, the itch still remains.

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  34. Dexter said on April 26, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Morning TV. I never was a regular viewer of any of the network shows. I do remember when Today went to Ho Chi Minh City not too long after the big US defeat of April 30, 1975. Seeing live dogs bound upside down and being carried to slaughter for food was the image that stuck with me.
    After I retired in 2002 I started watching Imus on msnbc and I stayed with his show after it went to RFD Network, when Patrick Gottsch put Imus back on cable TV after the unfortunate firing of Imus by CBS radio brass.
    When the money ran out at RFD, and Imus went to Fox Business News, I had to quit watching. I always respected the NBC-TV news team that Imus tapped for his reports, but it’s just way to much to see all these Fox people come onto the show spouting their drivel.
    I might have Imus on with the sound off, and turn it up for Bernard’s report and Warner Wolf’s sports and the antics of Rob Bartlett and the comedy of Tony Powell, but for sound in the room, it’s now Opie and Anthony, XM 202, Sirius 197. Satellite radio is damn cheap for all one gets. I love it.

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  35. nancy said on April 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    That was an unfair dig at USA Today, Paddy. I read it, or part of it, nearly every night, and they do a pretty good job, and certainly a better one than they used to.

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  36. LAMary said on April 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    The Today show has been giving The Donald as much time as he wants and tossing him softballs. His stupid apprentice show is on the same network, after all.

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  37. paddyo' said on April 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    No offense taken whatsoever, Nancy — as you might imagine, I acquired a McThick skin over those years. Your USAT remark was really just the right set-up to my plaint about how the paper seems to be devolving now …

    I did laugh, though, when Jeff B. followed @17 with his reference to the Jeff Goldblum character’s line from The Big Chill, because I saw that movie my very first year at The Nation’s Nicepaper, 1983, with a couple of fellow staffers.

    We all worked for what was then called the Cover Stories Dept. — that’s right, a department where we lucky few reporter/writers actually got to write the lonnnnnnngest stories (the section cover stories that were the only ones to “jump” inside to page 2 A/B/C or D)in the paper famous for measuring its stories by the line, not the inch.

    Anyway, another of the Goldblum character’s memorable lines about working for People — “I can sum up a whole person’s life in 32 paragraphs” — made us all laugh out loud: Cover Stories back then were written to a rigorous limit of 240 lines, which happened to add up to 32 column inches — or, give or take, 32 paragraphs of about 7.5 lines apiece.

    We did a lot of laughing about and at the paper in our time. And don’t even get me started on Al Neuharth’s peculiar edict that under no circumstances whatsoever could we refer to an “American” anything. It had to be “USA” — as noun AND adjective. But then, it was the paper that gave America — I mean, the USA — many memorable headlines, including, “Men and women: We’re still different” and “We eat our vegetables.”

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  38. LAMary said on April 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Certainly not on the same scale as USA Today, but our company newsletter recently had the headline, “Avoid Hepatitis.”

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  39. Catherine said on April 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks for the congrats & good wishes!

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  40. coozledad said on April 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Nancy: That’s Llewd, having his Easter sunbath. I should post some pictures of Purley, now that he’s somewhat approachable. Purley is a reddish yak looking thing, and if there’s anything in the yard that represents a threat to my person, it’s his crazy, spavined ass.
    I think when we pulled him we may have somehow deprived him of oxygen for a few critical seconds.

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  41. brian stouder said on April 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    It seems to me that the era of “objective news” or “hard news” was a 2oth century anomaly. I think it generally ran about 50 years, from the Second World War until somewhere in the ’90s, and now it’s over.

    There is a demand for no-bullshit news, but there’s a much larger demand for the bullshit. I suppose that’s always been true – and really, our nation’s widely varied news media has always catered to the lunatics.

    ‘Course, that’s cold comfort, considering some of the incredibly stupid things our country has talked itself into doing, in our history.

    I don’t think it’s too much to say that the current attack on public schools strikes me as the biggest of big lies – a direct attack on the societal and political health of the United States of America. I think the current mania for “vouchers” is nothing less than directly (and dangerously) corrosive to the structural parts of our society (like unchecked corrosion on a bridge).

    English language learning (for students who speak Burmese or Spanish as their primary language, for example) is nothing less than a genuine bit of melting-pot assimilation – and as American as apple pie. FWCS and large school districts across the state and the nation do an awful lot of our society’s heavy-lifting, every single day, and it makes me heartily tired to read one ill-informed broadside after the next, that simply (and wrongly) assert that American public education is such a flat failure.

    By way of saying – 150 years ago the United States was in disintegration; actual civil war. The danger of that sort of outcome certainly still exists, and is inherent in the disintegrated, separatist politics so popular on the right, nowadays. I think the stakes in the contest over what “news” is, and what “public education” requires, are nothing short of the fate of the United States (as always).

    Aside from that – the short version of Pammy’s troubling Meijer story is this:

    When Pam was in line to check out, a woman and her young (4 or 5?) daughter was next ahead of her. The little girl was very cute, with a pretty dress (maybe she got it for Easter?) and complimentary shoes on. As they awaited their turn to check out, a man approached, and was very complimentary of the pretty little girl, and her beautiful dress and pretty shoes, etc. He then swept around, grabbed a large candy bar, and gave it to the mom along with a dollar, saying that he just had to hug the beautiful little girl – which he did – as he asked the mom to please buy her the candy bar. Then – he swept away, and disappeared.

    Pam and the mom looked at each other, and the mom said something like “A stranger, with candy, hugged my daughter; that’s just great”. The mom then put the candy bar back, and put the dollar into a donation can; the cashier was as gob-smacked as Pam and the mom.

    As Pam told me this story, I was picturing a overly-kind old man, but she told me the guy was maybe 30.

    Really, I think they should have alerted security (maybe the cashier subsequently did); in my opinion, that guy raised several red flags.

    What a world, eh?

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    First twenty minutes of “Broadcast News,” and Holly Hunter’s mordant snarl from the podium, “You’re only going to get more of it,” with a distant snap from the departing audience, “Good.”

    Says it all, and back in the 80’s.

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  43. Rana said on April 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Mark P., even though I know that statistics don’t work this way, after seeing similar results on many different polls, I keep coming to the conclusion that between one in five and one in four people in this country are just idiots. Racist, sexist, backwards-looking idiots.

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  44. nancy said on April 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I’m far darker, Rana. I’ve reached the point where I starting to blame every Republican I know who ISN’T making a point of repudiating this racist bullshit. Birther jokes? Staring at your shoes when someone spins a “well do we REALLY know?” speech at a party? Passive racism. Silence = racism.

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  45. Connie said on April 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Senator Caswell gets worst person of the day: http://foknewschannel.com/worst-persons-for-april-25/#more-337 .

    Brian that Meijer’s story gave me the creeps.

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  46. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Trump birtherism – http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/poll-finds-most-americans-uncertain-of-trumps-birthplace/

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  47. Dexter said on April 27, 2011 at 12:42 am

    I remember very well when People Magazine debuted. It was very thin. It was actually printed in black and white. Its price? 35 cents. The year was 1974. It was, of course, a spin off from a Time Magazine section. I bought it every week , I loved it. Then it got color inside, then it got a little glossy, then it was 50 cents. Soon, 75 cents, with frequent price increases. It got thick, stuffed with ads, and the mini-bios that accompanied the early star-portrayals got toned down, I suppose for more ad-space. I have not bought an issue in decades.

    My April 18 issue of The New Yorker had a missing section, so I called them and they said a replacement issue would be mailed in eight to twelve weeks. I received it yesterday. Now why would they mail me two replacement issues? The same magazine, same date. Two magazines.
    I think their price went up this year. I just mailed out a check for sixty dollars for a year’s subscription. I think I paid forty-seven dollars last year…maybe that was two years ago.

    I subscribe to the Alcoholics Anonymous magazine, The Grapevine. They have an interesting campaign going; they have petitioned us, the subscribers, to go all-digital and cancel our print issues.
    The cost remains the same, 12 yearly issues for I believe $27.
    As of now, I have opted for the print issue. I like to read them and pass them on to someone who doesn’t subscribe. It’s “our meeting in print”. Now they want it to be something totally different. I know, cost-cutting; their 33% increase in sub-pricing hasn’t got the finances where they should be, I am guessing.
    I have already totally given up print newspapers, and all magazines except the two I mention here . It appears I will lose my print option soon for the Grapevine, and I can now read the entire New Yorker online. But…I am the man who raised hell about the print edition of April 18 being incomplete…I could have just finished my article online and read the following article by Jonathan Franzen online as well and forgotten the whole thing. Nope, dammitt. NO.

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  48. moe99 said on April 27, 2011 at 12:52 am


    A very welcome put down of racist, Donald Trump.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Since past experience says this sort of thing is popular ’round here, a borrowed meme from FB:

    In honor of the wedding on Friday, use your royal wedding guest name. Start with either Lord or Lady. Your first name is one of your grandparents’ names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, double-barreled with the name of the street you grew up on. Post yours here. Then cut and paste it into your status.

    You may address me as — Lord Eldred Heidi-Sheffield.

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  50. basset said on April 27, 2011 at 7:08 am

    that would make me… Lord Theodore Snoopy-McVay. and a beagle, not a basset.

    thunderstorms and the occasional tornado here in Middle Tennessee this morning, a year almost to the day since we had our big flood. river is well below that stage but tv says there are funnel clouds just a few miles from Basset Jr.’s dorm room.

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  51. Connie said on April 27, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Sounds a lot like those porn names. If I am Lady Agnes Hans-Winterhalder I must be one of those German relatives.

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  52. ROgirl said on April 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Lady Rose Smoky-Westbourne.

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  53. nancy said on April 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Lady Anna Petey-Barrington

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  54. Jolene said on April 27, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Lady Doretta Sparky-Thompson

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  55. Suzanne said on April 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Lady Marie Kaiser-Geoglein
    How German-er could that be?

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  56. Dorothy said on April 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Lady Josephine Charlie-Trenton (I chose Josephine over Catherine as I like it better, and didn’t want anyone thinking I was imitating the soon-to-be new princess!)

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  57. brian stouder said on April 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Lord Herbert Dusty Drexel

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  58. Linda said on April 27, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Lady Anna Skipper-Kirby

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  59. coozledad said on April 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

    What’s next for the moral imbeciles, racists and unmedicated feebs? This was such a winner for them.
    Kerning controversy begins now.

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  60. Julie Robinson said on April 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Hmm, should I go with Lady Besse Tootsie-First, or Lady Eva Tootsie-First?

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  61. Dorothy said on April 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

    How about Lady Besse-Eva Tootsie-First? Has a lovely ring to it!

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  62. Jolene said on April 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Trump is completely undaunted by the release of the birth certificate. He is taking credit and saying straight out that he is proud of having achieved something that no one else has, i.e., getting the president to release the certificate.

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  63. Kirk said on April 27, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Lord Hubert Shanty-Warren

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  64. MichaelG said on April 27, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Lord Patrick Smoky-6th Avenue

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  65. Linda said on April 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Coozledad and Jolene:
    Of course! Trump’s an attention whore, and he got a whole country, including the president, to leave $5 on the dresser. A triumph!

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  66. Mark P. said on April 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Lord Grady Schroeder-Redmond

    28 chars

  67. moe99 said on April 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Lady Lulu Digby-Elliott

    23 chars

  68. paddyo' said on April 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Lord Wells Lucy-Alford, at your service …

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  69. Jakash said on April 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Re: yesterday’s comments about the Chicago Reader. Phil Rosenthal of the Tribune has a column concerning the new look that the Reader is debuting today:


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  70. moe99 said on April 27, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Ok, I cheated and used my great grandmother’s name and our 4th dog. It’s really Lady Claude Gypsy-Elliott.

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  71. bobolink said on April 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Lady Angeline Penny-Bob-o-Link

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