Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sat night miscellany

A guy sends me things sends me this irresistible picture of a monster catfish.

Sho nuff, the Rocky Mountain News folded its game Friday. The comments on the Web site are interesting. Read them here.
The amazing thing in the comments is the mostly rightist nutcases who attribute the death of the paper to a purported liberal slant in the news. The fact is that people read more news than ever; they just pay nothing for the news they read. This is an individual good -- free news -- that becomes a collective disaster -- no professional news-gatherers and no reliable news. Bloggers and ideologues and cranks of whatever stripe will never be able to replace professionals with time and sources. The San Francisco Chronicle looks like the next to fall, and Seattle may become a no-newspaper city soon.

And look here to see a cool photo of a church in Silver City, N.M., a charming little town in the southwest part of the state.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

(Silent teardrops)

Just switch on the TV or hit a Web site these days for news of another newspaper put down for humane reasons, wounded beyond any hope of survival. This from the NYT:
The Rocky Mountain News in Denver will cease publication on Friday.
E.W. Scripps, which owns (the) newspaper, known locally as The Rocky, announced Thursday that it had failed to find a buyer for the daily. Scripps’s chief executive, Rich Boehne, said in a statement that The Rocky was “a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges.” Scripps said the newspaper lost $16 million last year.

Read all here.
And, then, as reported in the Vicad, the SA E-N does some slashing. From the Express-News Web site:

The cuts include 75 positions in the newsroom, about 30 percent of the newsroom staff, in a combination of layoffs and the elimination of open positions.
Executive Vice President and Editor Bob Rivard said the cuts would affect every department in the newsroom and journalists at all levels, requiring a restructuring of news operations. Some newsroom production work will be consolidated with the Houston Chronicle. Both newspapers are owned by the privately held Hearst Corp.

All of that story here. I immediately sent off a note to a friend who works for the E-N’s hip-mag insert, 210SA. She’s a former Vicad reporter who spent the time and money to get a MA in journalism from the real UT. She wrote back that she didn’t get hit in the cuts. A journalism masters is like buying poverty when you can have it for nothing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Capitulation in the war on drugs

We have long since lost the war on drugs and should declare victory and abandon the field, lest we enjoy even more Mexico-style crime here in the U.S. The mayor of Cd. Juárez is now living in El Paso behind threats on his life. Three former Latin American presidents assert in the WSJ that the War on drugs is a failure, and a new approach is required to the problem of trafficking and drug use:
In order to drastically reduce the harm caused by narcotics, the long-term solution is to reduce demand for drugs in the main consumer countries. To move in this direction, it is essential to differentiate among illicit substances according to the harm they inflict on people's health, and the harm drugs cause to the social fabric.
Read it all here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lone Star dims

Guy who sends me stuff sends me an op-ed from the Sunday WaPo by one Bryan Burrough, a Texan himself, writing on the waning of Texas power in the new world of Washington:
(N)ow, barely a month into the Obama administration, even the proudest Texans must admit: The days of Lone Star Power are over. You may greet this news with tears or with relief, but there's no denying it. Now that George W. Bush has hightailed it back to Dallas, there is no Texan of any real significance left on the national stage. Kay Bailey Hutchison is still hanging on, and Texas has that governor, Rick whatsisname, the guy with the haircut, but the most visible Texan in Washington right now is probably the Libertarian Ron Paul. I don't think I need to say much more than that.

Read it all here. It will be kind of a relief not to have to try to explain the likes of Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay, and the odious W to horrified acquaintances from other places or to have to apologize for a West Texas twang lest people think you a moron like those people.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More journalist plaints

The Angry Journalist Web site is a constant source of entertainment. A link from there to a little piece by a disgruntled reporter is good for a grin. The writer remarks, among other things, on the running battle between papers and the readers who hate the paper.
… (The bad relationship between readers and newspapers) took a new turn once the abuse went public, thanks to newspapers’ decision to “embrace the Web” and allow readers to post comments on news articles. Stew-brained cranks found that not only were they not alone in despising their local paper — they were legion. Paper-hate went from a closed-door, angry-postcard affair to a daily public stoning.
(We’re getting our own back, though, by dropping page counts, cutting beloved features and shedding staff like dander. Soon you won’t have to cancel your subscription in protest, because we won’t be able to pay your paper carrier.)

There’s more than that, and it’s pretty funny and very familiar. Read the whole thing here. Poor papers. The open boards at the Vicad have brought out the damnedest collection of soreheads and nutballs in the Coastal Bend, including many who appear to do nothing more than sit at their computers and look for cyberfights. Another commenter on Angry Journalist takes some nice digs at the journalistic phenomenon called hyperlocalism, a policy that leads to stories about somebody’s grandkid on his skateboard, a story so hyperlocalized that only about seven people in the world live in the locale and give a damn about the story. That’s getting journalism down to the level of a family Christmas letter.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here & there

Looking north up 8th Avenue outside Penn Station, NYC, ca. 9 a.m., Feb. 19, and looking north up 4th Street, **Adrift, ca 9 a.m., Feb. 20. Too bad I have no recording of the street noise. There was a mockingbird singing in the front yard when I was out there. Being in the big, exciting city was fun, but home is pretty nice, too, and much less frantic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Biting the big apple

We're here in NYC since Friday afternoon, settled into a little apt in the West Village, just three or four blocks from the Hudson River. It's a great way to see a city, living like a local. I guess we look OK; four times tourists have asked directions from us. Saturday we went to Katz's Deli and ate oversized and overpriced sandwiches. Katz's is the place they filmed that hilarious fake-orgasm scene in 'When Harry Met Sally.' Then we did a death march ending up at the waterfront tourist complex at the very south end of Manhattan. Sunday we went out to Aqueduct Race Track, but all to no avail. I had four place horses in a row, but unfortunately my bets were all to win. Neither of us cashed a single ticket.
Flying up here from Austin reminded me yet again of how bogus and obnoxious the airport security system is. They took away my Barbasol and Pepsodent. I would be willing to bet that never in modern history has a public attack been carried out by a 15th-generation American above the age of 60, but the morons of Homeland Security must keep fear kindled in American breasts with their scare announcements and pinheads armed with rulebooks. Stupid people with rulebooks are among the worst things in the world. Enough to keep a soul homebound.
Oh boy, today the Museum of American Folk Art and F.A.O. Schwartz to find stuff for new baby in the family. That's another story. Herself is trying on grandmother names: Nana, Mamaw, Grandma, like that. `i may settle for Pappy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Get any rain up your way?

The NYTimes has a piece on a Beeville rancher and his drought problems. Read it here. Not enough rain around here to count. As everything natural seems to believe that spring has arrived, we could sure use some precip.
In further news from **Adrift, we are off today to catch a plane in the morning from Bergstrom, bound for NYC. Sunday will find us sitting in the grandstand at Aqueduct. Oh boy, road trip! Will post as opportunities present. Pastrami sandwich at the Katz deli … MOMA … nat hist museum … the lions at the library.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blah blah blah

Was just watching BHO in his press conference. He does some political weaseling, being a politician, but he is so much nimbler than #43 that they barely seem to belong to the same species. And, then CNBC abruptly switched to a nobler enterprise, the Westminster Dog Show, terrier division. I would make the unkind but accurate observation that female dog handlers are mostly dumpy and wear dowdy clothes but comfortable shoes.
In the unkind but accurate line, how 'bout that Advocate today? One P1 story about some one-year-old kid who messes around on someone's skateboard and another about a joke that some microceph thought racist. It was not made entirely clear by the reporter, but the joke depends on the fact that in Spanish dime, or more properly díme with an acute accent, is second-person familiar imperative for "tell me," nothing to to with a 10¢ piece. (Second-person formal imperative would be dígame, but one can safely use the familiar with a Coke machine.) I was first told the joke by a Mexican friend in slightly different form along about 1965. It was mocking the then-president of Mexico(Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, I believe), wherein he sees the word "dime" on a Coke machine, looks over his shoulder to see if anyone is watching, then whispers to the machine, "Dáme una Coca-Cola," "Give me a Coke." Lots of damn fools are far too willing to be offended.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Best news we get this year

Is George Bush president?
From a site kited from David Crisp, the Billings Blogger and a favorite of ours.
And,in the same spirit, a joke from a guy who sends me jokes:
One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench.
He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."
The old man said, "Okay" and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."
The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U. S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said,
"Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"
The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand, I just love hearing it."
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow."

Friday, February 6, 2009

More bloodshed in the journalism business

For my latest bloodshed in journalism, I read the Angry Journalist Web site most days. This, from today’s postings:
Angry Journalist #8019:
And so it begins. . . . at my Central Texas daily newspaper, today they announced the layoffs of three newsroom colleagues whose positions have been eliminated (”It’s not the people who were targeted, but the job slots”, we were told.)
These are the FIRST EVER layoffs in our department in the history of the company, period. Managing editor (a gal) and executive editor (a guy) with tears in their eyes, explained, with zero sugar-coating, that the company seems to be tanking. The fact that we are for sale doesn’t help the sense of impending doom.

The state of the newspaper business is truly distressful, and nothing looks likely to ameliorate the cascades of blood loose in the world. We will be sorry when they’re gone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dumbest crooks

Couple of El Pasoans are being held in Cd. Juárez on charges of kidnapping a soul in that vexed city. The capper on the story from is the last graf:
The two alleged kidnappers were discovered after they passed out from drinking, allowing the victim to escape and alert authorities.

Read it all
here. Part that is less funny is that the lawlessness of Mexico will continue to spill over across the river. Mexico verges on becoming a failed state, where the criminal classes overwhelm the feeble civil authority.

Monday, February 2, 2009

G&D for today

Wanna give yourself a serious case of the jimjams? Take a peek at the Calculated Risk January Economic Summary in Graphs here. That'll quell any irrational exuberance. Architects, car dealers, real estate peddlers … everybody's doing the breast stroke in a lake of caca. All this and my 50-cent can of sardines, a favorite light lunch, has gone up to 59 cents, an 18% increase over a few weeks ago.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wanna buy a football team?

Get hot at the track. The first Art Rooney of the Steelers financed business with winnings from the ponies. From a Bloodhorse blog:
Art Rooney's winning streak began on an August Saturday afternoon at the Empire City track (later Yonkers harness track, which his sons purchased in 1972), and ended upstate on Monday at Saratoga. Rooney's first bet was $8,000 on 8-1 longshot Quel Jeu (the then-six-year-old 1932 Remsen Handicap winner eventually won 25 races in 140 lifetime starts) who won in a photo finish, and it was the first of five long-shots he hit among his seven (on an eight-race card) winners. Exactly how much money Art Rooney won that day hasn't been revealed, although every source agrees it was in excess of $100,000.

Is that cool or what? Read it allhere.